Battle Royale Round 9 – Land-Killing is my Business

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Jeroen’s land destruction deck appeared to be the perfect foil to Sean’s Karoo-happy budget offering. That said, Jeroen had reservations going into this match… even if the forum-folk decreed it as an easy victory. When the chips were down, it was anything but

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee did it!

Got there. Mise. Etc etc etc.

You get the message, right?

I won my first ever Battle Royale endeavour… and wow, was it a nail biter! Winning the match 3-2 was a lot closer then I feel the matchup really is, but it is Magic, and sometimes the draws don’t work out like you expect them to. But whatever, let’s go into my analysis of the matchup. First, to remind you all of the decks, here are the lists one more time.

I like how it says my deck is “suggested as a potential deck for Standard,” when I would never suggest playing a budget deck that is not mono-colored in a true competitive arena. The mana doesn’t look like the best.

When I first saw the decklists, I wasn’t really sure what to think of this matchup…

Sure, Sean has eight Karoos, and I have twelve land-kill spells after boarding (to keep him completely manascrewed as well as colorscrewed in his three-color deck).

Sure, Sean has a bunch of tokens, but I have good ol’ Martyr of Ashes on standby to wipe them all out.

The real thing that scared me was that Sean seemed to have an actual deck, whereas I was getting by on something that very clearly looked like a cheap deck. I put all my money into my lands – which basically meant my spells felt underpowered compared to his Melokus, Seshiros, Infi Snakes, and actual bombs.

Still, the matchup looked to be in my favor, since I seemed to have all the right answers. I did base my deck (a little) on what Sean played in the round before, since that was the only read I could get off of him – I had no other way of knowing what he could play. That he would play almost the exact same deck… that is not what I thought would happen.

Due to the fact that I would be playing a tournament all weekend (the Open Amsterdam Championships, in case anyone is wondering), the match had to be played on Friday. Of course, then there is always the time difference, which meant that it was planned for 1am my time, the night before I had to make the trip to good ol’ Amsterdam… and I had to get up at 7:30.

It was okay though, as I filled my evening with a little home game of poker with some good friends, and got back half an hour before the battle was due to begin. No Sean though… and I was getting pretty pissed for missing a good night’s sleep before a tourney. Luckily he showed up just a couple of minutes late, and we were good to go!

Game 1
I look at my opening hand, and immediately understand it is going to be one of those days. I take a trip to Paris, and once again have to mulligan. I keep a rather shallow hand with a couple of lands and some stuff, but I get rolled pretty fast by Patagia Viper and friends. Not a great start, but I am pretty sure I would have lost with any deck to a mulligan to five on the play.

I had thought of my sideboard plan prior to the match, and figured I really wanted to do one important thing: deny him his mana. He clearly had more late-game than I did, which meant I had to do two things: kill his lands, and kill his Sakura-Tribe Scouts. Sean had shown in the last game that he is a master at drawing the little snake, and in order for my deck to work, that little guy just had to die. Of course, my plan had to be different on the play as well as the draw, because on the play I would need the Seal of Fires, while on the draw Blaze would be just as good (and better in the late-game).

This basically meant my sideboard plan would be four Wreak Havoc, two Stalking Yeti, and one Seal of Fire, for four Phyrexian Ironfoot, two Into the North, and a Blaze (on the play). On the draw, I would then bring in my other Seals for the other Blazes.

Looking at his sideboard, I couldn’t really think of any plan he might have, as none of his sideboard cards seemed very good. I would, of course, adapt if he had anything tricky, but right now I liked what I had.

Game 2
He starts of by Copy/Pasting his sideboard plan in the screen!

This surprised me a little, as I had no clue we were supposed to share this information. It turned out that we are not, and that he just made a mistake working Word and MTGO at the same time.

Thanks for the info, Sean… but in the spirit of the game, I decided not to alter my strategy based on his mistake.

The game itself started a nice little string where Sean would have turn 1 Scout (the man breaks probabilities everywhere)… but this time it wasn’t so bad, as a turn 2 Coldsteel Heart launched me into a turn 3 Yeti to kill it. I followed that up with a bunch of land-kill, Martyrs, and another Yeti. I am sure you can see how I won that game.

Despite him telling me his board strategy by accident, I decide to keep in the Hearts, since that is only fair. Sure, it will make his Naturalizes do something, but I hadn’t seen one yet, and it just wouldn’t be very cool to yank ‘em.

Game 3
I am once again forced to mulligan, but this time it is only once. I start off with a R/G dual, which means I can’t kill his Sakura-Tribe Scout off the bat, but I do that next turn. My next two lands are both colorless though, and this means I have trouble casting spells while controlling the board. It doesn’t help that this game he does have a Naturalize for a Coldsteel Heart, and that basically stops me from disrupting his manabase. I draw an Into the North, which I can’t cast when I want to, and I lost this game based on my own manabase. With no disruption on my side, he just plays out his better spells, and crushes me.

I board out the Hearts this time, as I want to make his Naturalizes useless, and don’t want to get destroyed again. In come the Into the Norths, and this also gives me room for an extra Blaze. I am with my back against the wall, not being allowed another loss, and I am not very happy with my manabase… let’s hope it stays together for another couple of games.

Game 4
He has turn 1 Scout again but I am ready with a Blaze on it on turn 2. I don’t draw Green mana for a while, but have a Stone Rain and a Martyr to make sure I survive long enough to draw a Yeti, which I draw at exactly the right time to kill his Sachi and mop up. The fact that I drew a Yeti that turn was pretty lucky, and I am not sure I played optimally up to that point… but come on, I have four in the deck, and I was due to draw one of those fellas!

This was actually the most interesting game, as Sean had Seshiro the Anointed mana up for a while, with a bunch of snakes in play… but I played around it by keeping a Mouth of Ronom untapped. The Yeti gets a twin, and together they go to town. I won a game where I didn’t even get to disrupt his mana as well as I should!

I board nothing, as things went well. I am on the draw now though… Come on, deck!

Game 5
This was an absolute smashing. A barrage of land-kill means Sean is stuck with only Karoos as lands in his hand, and a Martyr of Ashes kills of the two snakes he managed to make (as well as re-buys an Icefall). He concedes with me having a Dragon about to be played, and him with zero permanents. Exactly as I’d planned… Heh.

Despite me winning in five games, I feel like the matchup was actually really good for me. I made things hard on myself by only playing 22 lands, as my manabase was my worst enemy. The Scrying Sheets, which I paid through the nose for, were never really activated… but that has more to do with the matchup than anything else. In the end, the land-kill, the burn, and the amazing Yetis were more then a match for Sean’s deck.

The best way to beat a Meloku (that does indeed appear to be redonkulous) is to make sure he can never cast it.

See y’all next round.