Battle Royale Round 5 – Token Resistance

StarCityGames.com - Battle Royale!

As the creator of Battle Royale, I suppose it’s time I put my money where my mouth is… Thing is, I’ve very little money, and my mouth is usually crammed with food. Ah well, at least I can put up a struggle when pressed. Talen Lee, bring it on!

Let me get one thing clear from the start – I didn’t cheat.

Sure, the temptation was there… Talen sent his decklist and article to me some days ago. I could’ve easily cracked open the word processor and scoped the opposition before setting foot down my own personal design road. But let’s face it, that would’ve been laaaame.

To be fair, once you’ve seen my final deck, you’ll truly believe in my honesty.

So, Talen Lee is the undefeated champion of Battle Royale… how bizarre. I mean, let’s face facts… even he wouldn’t have wagered money on that particular state of affairs.

First, he took out Ben Goodman. That was a shock.
Next, he defeated Joshua Claytor. That wasn’t.

Next, he’s got a chance at dethroning the current English National Championme. And yes, I intend to mention my Nats win every time I freakin’ write from now on.

Now, I have followed each round of the Battle Royale with excitement. After all, it was my idea, even though I thought it’d probably only run for a couple of weeks before fizzling. Happily, it’s captured the imaginations of both the players and the spectators — we’ve some big names coming up, believe me. In reading each round, and poring over each deck, some obvious strategies have called out to me. Hell, they’ve probably called out to you, the reader. But before I dive into the emerging metagame, I suppose I’d better give you a recap of the rules…

Each player builds a Standard deck that costs no more than 25 tickets on Magic Online.
Each rare and uncommon must be accounted for, while commons and basic lands are free.

Each player writes a short article on their deck, highlighting both their strategy and their card prices. These articles are published simultaneously.
The battle is a best-of-five match, played out in front of the baying crowds in the Anything Goes room of Magic Online (in this case, on Friday 11th August at 8pm EST).
Each player writes a mini tournament report, for publication (again, simultaneously) the following week.
The winner gets to battle again in the next round. And so on.

Of course, if Talen continues to win, we’ll have to retire him undefeated. Maybe we can present him with a little trophy if he manages five in a row… Brazil own the football (soccer) World Cup after their myriad of victories, so why not?

When I knew it was my turn to face the music, a number of strategies struck me as viable…

Buy three Umezawa’s Jittes, and fill the rest of the deck with common spods.
The problem with this strategy is that, while Jitte is obviously bah-roken, if you don’t draw one you’ve got squat. Maybe I could throw in some two-mana transmutable spells, but even so… I think this particular route smacks of desperation.

As above, but with Wrath of God instead of Jitte.
Nope. I’m not that kind of guy. Kill all your monsters? What if he’s playing naught but Genjus? Or bloody Hondens?

Honden Deck! Genju Deck!
Actually, these sound pretty cool. If only I’d thought of them before designing my weapon of choice… Anyway, I’ve a suspicion that Chris Romeo will throw out the Hondens when his card comes up for a second bite at the cherry…

Take a deck that’s already been played in the Battle.
This did tempt me. Y’see, the deck I really wanted to play involved Snakes. Unfortunately, both Richard Feldman and Ben Goodman had the same idea, back in Round 2. A Battle Royale mirror match… now that was cool. The snake deck is fun fun fun, but I couldn’t just rip it off without a dent to my conscience. After all, I’m the editor of this here site here… and a man must have standards.

Take a deck that TALEN has already played in the Battle.
Heh. That’d fox him, to be sure. Thing is, his decks are rubbish. I mean, Moroii? Sod that for a game of soldiers. Nope, I wanted something a bit more “Craigy.”

Play Nephilims.
Talen’s signature deck, if you believe all you read. Sadly, without the million-dollar manabase, this is doomed to failure. Nope, I’ll wait until Talen plays the Nephilims in the week he actually wants to lose, a tactic used to great effect by the Irish in the late 90’s Eurovision Song Contest. (Wow, I bet nobody gets that reference.)

Ask Mike Flores to design me a deck.
This crossed my mind. However, I’d like Mike to actually play in the Battle Royale some day, so I’d rather not piss on that particular pile of chips just yet.

So where does this leave me? I suppose I should look at my strengths as a player, and build a deck accordingly.

Nah, sod it. I’ll just take my G/W list from English Nationals and cheapify that.

Yeah, that seems fair.


Pretty simple, really. Make men, accelerate mana, drop Glare, tap down baddies, swing. Gain life with Elephants, kill things with Condemn.

I’ll elaborate on a few card choices, and mention those sadly missed.

No Yosei, no Kodama
How I wish I could afford these bad boys… sadly, the Hierarchs are expensive, and so are the Glares (relatively speaking).

Tolsimir and Serra — Singletons of Love
Tolsimir should be obvious — he pumps like a victorious fist. As for Serra… she’s a cheap Yosei replacement, and a fine Chord target if Talen swings with a Skeletal Vampire (or, god forbid, a Meloku).

Maindeck Condemn?
In my run at English Nationals, my deck couldn’t remove any damn thing. That won’t cut it with the Battle Royale, I’m afraid. The weakening of my deck means I need ways to deal with opposing threats. Condemn seems a fine choice.

Splashing out on a single Hokori
If you’ve read my report from English Nationals, and in particular my quarterfinal matchup with Ian Piroet, you’ll understand why.

You’ve Met The Team… Now Lets’ See What They’re Worth!

4 Loxodon Hierarch — 16 Tix (4 each)
4 Selesnya Guildmage — 0.5 Tix (8-for-1 bot)
4 Llanowar Elves — free
4 Wood Elves — free
4 Watchwolf — 0.5 Tix (8-for-1 bot)
2 Kami of Ancient Law — free
2 Indrik Stomphowler — 0.25 Tix (8-for-1 bot)
1 Tolsimir Wolfblood — 0.33 Tix (3-for-1 rare)
1 Serra Angel — 0.33 Tix (3-for-1 rare)

3 Glare of Subdual — 3 Tix (1 each)
1 Chord of Calling – 0.33 Tix (3-for-1 rare)
2 Congregation at Dawn – 0.25 Tix (8-for-1 bot)
4 Condemn – 0.5 Tix (8-for-1 bot)

4 Selesnya Sanctuary — free
4 Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree — 0.25 Tix (16-for-1 bot)

9 Forest — free

7 Plains — free

4 Trophy Hunter — 0.25 Tix (16-for-1 bot)
4 Faith’s Fetters — free
4 Blessed Breath — free
2 Naturalize — free
1 Hokori, Dust Drinker — 2 Tix

Total Tix — 24.5

Actually, I’m being a little generous here… I picked up two of my Loxodon Hierarchs for the buy price of three tix apiece, and splurged for the other two at the full price of four. I was happy to pick up the Glare of Subduals for a ticket each… people were selling for two, but only buying at 0.5 apiece. Hokori may seem an extravagance at two tickets, but I do hope he’ll be worth it. I doubt Talen will be playing straight control, but who knows? As long as he’s not bought the Tron pieces, the Hokori will be golden.

Do I fancy my chances with the deck? Hell yes. It’s fun to play, resilient, and pretty consistent. It’s heavy on the mana, which is apparently invaluable in the Battle Royale arena, and it has some silly big monsters with which to smash face. If Talen does pull another Murray Mint of a deck, the Trophy Hunters should put paid to any airborne shenanigans.

The Battle takes place, as I’ve said, in the Anything Goes room of Magic Online on Friday 11th August at 8pm EST. It should be fun. Or it should be quick. Either way, make sure to be there on time.

England versus Australia… the battle for the Ashes.

England currently hold that particular trophy… let’s hope they take this one.

Until Friday,

Thanks for listening.

Craig Stevenson

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