Embracing The Chaos – Confessions Of A Killing

Wednesday, February 23 – Bring on the Gruesome Encores! Sheldon Menery, Commander founder, takes Kresh the Bloodbraided to the league. Blightsteel Colossus changes the pace of the game, and we see how the table reacts…

This week, I’m going to confess to two murders.

First of all, I’m going to agree with everyone who said Seedborn Muse should’ve been on one of the two “Can’t Get Mad” lists. I
have no idea why I left it off, but it’s just crazy, especially when paired with—well, almost anything.

Many of you know that my wife Gretchyn and I are foodies and love to cook. Sometimes it’s complicated; sometimes it’s simple. Last week, it
was simple, as she made a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies that was supposed to last me at least a week. If I could Photoshop a snapshot of me wide-eyed
and innocent amidst a pile of crumbs, being handcuffed by the Crimes Against Cookie-Kind Squad, I’d do it. Please forgive me, Your Honor. I knew
exactly what I was doing, and I beg the court’s mercy.

It was Week 7 of the Armada Games EDH League, and knowing the Phelddagrif needed a retooling, I ran Kresh out there again. I played a casual game
beforehand with Armada owner Aaron Fortino, Level 2 Judge Ben McDole, and a nice kid named Josh (whose iPad playing Blokus was a hit around the shop),
running out Lord of Tresserhorn. It makes Zombies and is some fun, but it probably needs a tweak or two before putting it up against decent
competition. One thing off the top of my head is Massacre Wurm coming in for Havoc Demon. The game went long; we had some laughs, and Ben and his
Planeswalker Control deck got justifiably Orc-piled. I end up being last man standing when Josh casts Ulamog, which I hit with Phthisis. Love that

Speaking of Orcs, I got a little nostalgic earlier this week (it’s a function of my age, I guess) and loaded up Diablo II. I downloaded the
latest patch (v1.13) and found a bit of an exploit. It seems as though if you run the Evil Countess in Act I, she’s always going to give you 1-3
runes in her treasure. Once you have the Horadric Cube, it will lead you to being able to make whatever runes you want (at the low end). Anyway,
I’m having some fun with the Barbarian, whirlwind-smashing stuff, which I find oddly calming.

For Table 1, I’m seated with David (Omnath, Locus of Mana), Cliff (Jenara, Asura of War), and Ian (Sen Triplets). I decide that I’m going
to do a modified play by play, recording my own stuff and the relevant stuff from everyone else. My opening grip is pretty good: Forest, Swamp,
Overgrown Tomb, Sol Ring, Survival of the Fittest, Tooth and Nail, and Massacre Wurm.


I peel Bayou and drop it and the Sol Ring. It’s land for Cliff and Ian and land/Mana Vault for David.


My rip is Skyshroud Claim, and I’m off to the races. Swamp, cast the Claim, get Stomping Ground untapped (38) and another Forest, and cast
Survival. Cliff, however, stops me in my tracks by casting Tormod’s Crypt. Ian and David drop lands.


I play the Overgrown Tomb tapped, since I don’t really need to the mana, have nothing else to cast (and don’t want to start filling up a
graveyard for Cliff to take away), so I simply cast Kresh. Cliff casts Luminarch Ascension, which gets a little bit of focus on him and off my quick
start. Ian does nothing, and David casts Omnath.


I play a Mountain and battle into Cliff to keep the Ascension down a turn. It’s not going to matter, since I think it’s going to get there
soon. Ian does nothing, and David attacks Cliff as well. Cliff blocks with Jenara, and David pumps up Omnath to kill it. Post-combat, he casts Arashi,
the Sky  Asunder and Sylvan Library off of Omnath’s mana, which kills it, since it has some Jenara damage on it. Cliff and Ian just drop


I peel another land, which gives me nine mana. I want to Tooth and Nail for something to blow up both the Luminarch Ascension and Tormod’s Crypt,
figuring that’s the way to foster a longer game, so I announce to the two blue players that’s my intention. Cliff says fine, and Ian says
he’s not going to counter it. I start to reach for my deck, and Ian says “Wait. What happens if I Twincast that?” David explains that
he’ll get to do exactly what I do, and his will resolve first. He then runs out the Twincast. Seems fair enough. The first creature he puts down
is Tidehollow Sculler, and the second changes everything—it’s Blightsteel Colossus. There’s a collective “Oh crap!” from
the table, and I, of course, say that my choices will now be different. Michael Fortino walks by and says “Oh crap” as well, and David
explains how it got there. Ian says—and repeats about six times in the next five minutes—“I just play him for the LOLZ.”

I mull over what I have to answer BSC, which isn’t much. David is rooting for me to dig up Duplicant, which I’m not playing. It’s way
too early to envision killing Ian (guess that shows what kind of player I am—I can’t kill you with a T5 T&N), so I have to think about
the defense. I decide on Butcher of Malakir and Hamletback Goliath. My reasoning for the latter is that it will be big enough (it will be 11/11 once
the trigger resolves) to eat a BSC hit, giving me time to find more answers.

Cliff doesn’t do anything on his turn. On his, Ian swings the Colossus into—Cliff. David and I kind of look at each other, but I’m
not going to complain. Cliff can make two Angels (making Hamletback +13) to block, but Kresh obviously doesn’t get the pump. Ian casts Guard
Gomazoa. David looks at his Sylvan Library cards, puts back two, and then drops Mystifying Maze.


I draw Madrush Cyclops and Survival it away. I want Avenger of Zendikar, but I’m not playing it in this deck. I get Stalking Vengeance instead.
Now I’m thinking about the fact that I just need to try to kill Ian before he kills me with BSC. Cliff drops a land and says go. Then Ian makes
another head-scratching play by attacking David, who promptly uses Mystifying Maze. When BSC comes back at EOT (end of turn), Hamletback is now +24.
David casts Three Visits, which he as to explain (since it’s in another language).


I draw Lord of Extinction, but it’s only Survival Fodder now. I pitch it to get and cast Primeval Titan, tutoring up Diamond Valley (a new
addition) and Phyrexian Tower. Hamletback is now big enough that it can block Blightsteel Colossus and live (even though it’ll shrink a little),
so I’m only worried about something like Venser making him unblockable. As soon as I untap, I can kill him if he attacks me (or kill him if he
attacks someone else, saving them). Cliff drops Tezzeret the Seeker and searches up Sensei’s Divining Top. Ian casts Sphinx-Bone Wand. David
looks through his Library cards and settles on Mana Reflection and recasts Omnath.


My peel is Acidic Slime. I have many juicy targets, Mana Reflection looking pretty good, but I’ve gotten myself to a crossroads. It’s
obvious to a good player like David that I can just kill at will now. In fact, I can kill two people by sacrificing Hamletback to Diamond Valley and
then Kresh to Phyrexian Tower. Something with split second is the only thing I really have to worry about (although Krosan Grip isn’t going to
hurt me much). The crossroads is the question of whether it’s worse to just do it now or to play on with the Damocletian Sword hanging over their
heads. I decide to see if anyone can come up with something cool. I target the Sculler with Acidic Slime, getting Massacre Wurm back into my hand. I
cast Victimize, and Cliff chooses to not Crypt, still believing Ian to be the threat. I sacrifice Acidic Slime (costing everyone else a creature due to
Butcher, which bumps up Kresh a little), bringing back Madrush Cyclops and Lord of Extinction (Hamletback is now something crazy like +77). I battle
Cliff with Primeval Titan for more lands, one of which is Skarrg, the Rage pits.

Cliff casts Future Sight, then uses Tezzeret for two, getting Contagion Clasp, withering BSC for one. Ian doesn’t do anything and at EOT, David
makes Omnath bigger. David then casts a Survival of his own, pitching Terastodon to get Duplicant. He casts it, but Ian has Steel Sabotage for it.

I think a little longer on this, and it just feels wrong to not end it. I have no problem with not T&N-ing for the quick kill, but once the cards
are on the board, it seems a little sketchy, maybe even a little cruel, to not use them the way they were intended. Ian is going to get a 100+ Kresh
across the Red Zone, so it’s killing one of the other two that I have to decide on. David’s board position makes him a little less of a
threat than Cliff, but he’s a significantly better player, and he can (via Omnath and trample) kill me out of nowhere, so I decide to take him
out by sacrificing Hamletback to gain a bunch of life, the Stalking Vengeance trigger killing David.


As promised, enormous Kresh battles into Ian. Cliff and I monkey around a little bit, considering a little point-farming. I make sure that other tables
are still going, which they are, so we play another few turns. David and Ian are getting up from the table, and someone asks what happened, and I
mention that Ian’s BSC got them killed. Ian says something like “it wasn’t my fault” and (once again) “I play it for the
LOLZ,” and David tells him in no uncertain terms that it was indeed his fault, that the game would probably still be going with any creature
besides the BSC.


I’m seated with Jeff (Akroma, Angel of Fury), Wayne (Jaya Ballard, Task Mage), and Jon Sweet (Glissa, the Traitor, which he just finished
building). I hear that Jon Sweet has killed his previous table with Urborg/Cabal Coffers/Pestilence Demon/Phyresis, so I make sure to keep that in
mind, although I’m not sure how he didn’t kill himself that way as well. I look at the Commanders—two of them mono-red—and
declare, “It’s now 9:40 pm. I predict I’ll be sitting in the hot tub with my wife by 11:15.” The game ends up lasting longer
than I expect.

I think my keep is good until I’ve already said “keep” and look at it again. It has four land, Momentous Fall, Cultivate, and
Victimize, but then I realize two of the lands, Diamond Valley and Temple of the False God, don’t make mana for the Cultivate. Guess I’m
living off the top.


No land for me, but I do drop Scrabbling Claws. Wayne, however, helps me out by attacking with Goblin Guide (38), and I get the land I want. No other


Wayne attacks Jon, who also gets a land. On his turn, Jon drops Executioner’s Capsule, which seems pretty nice with Glissa.


I Cultivate; David casts Darksteel Ingot, and Jon casts Glissa, the Traitor.


David continues his ramp with Gilded Lotus; Wayne casts Jaya.


Jon casts Phyrexian Arena, which seems pretty safe with two mono-red players at the table. I cast Kresh, which David mentions is a little early, to
which I reply that five mana on turn 5 doesn’t seem early at all.


Jon casts Throne of Geth (which is obviously how he stayed one poison counter ahead of his opponents last game), and I cast Spearbreaker Behemoth. At
my EOT, Jeff flashes in Bogardan Hellkite, killing Jaya and Glissa.


Jeff brags a little about his hand and then Ulamogs away Kresh. He says he’s not going to attack to annihilate anyone, but having an
indestructible blocker is really good. Jon recasts Glissa. I cast Butcher of Malakir, which makes Jeff have a frowny face. Wayne drops Valakut, the
Molten Pinnacle, Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs, and Cunning Sparkmage.


Jeff decides attacking with Ulamog might be a good idea after all and sends it toward Wayne, paying for Kazuul. Jon Sweet’s Phyrexian Arena takes
him to (21), and then he casts Damnation. I can’t do any Momentous Fall shenanigans, since I have to let Butcher go to the yard when Ulamog is
Jeff’s only creature. With Ulamog’s trigger on the stack, Jon then Nihil Spellbombs Jeff’s yard. Since that taps out Jon, I take the
opportunity to use Scrabbling Claws to get rid of the Spellbomb for good. My only play is Goblin Bombardment.


Jeff casts Akroma as a morph and the very saucy Braid of Fire, which is a lot better now that mana burn is gone. Jon goes to (20), then casts
Executioner’s Capsule and Far Wanderings. All I have is Farhaven Elf. Wayne drops a Mountain and Valakuts me (35). At his EOT, Jeff unmorphs.


Jeff pumps Akroma with the Braid mana and casts Extraplanar Lens, which I make a note to remember then promptly forget. He thinks about killing Jon,
who has no flying blockers (and Jeff can get Akroma to 21). He decides to instead cast Ryusei, the Falling Star. He does pump Akroma to 16 to get the
point for Blackjack.

Jon’s Arena takes him to (19), and he casts Reiver Demon. I ping Jeff (36) with Bombardment.

I cast the smallest Lord of Extinction ever (13/13) and keep up mana for Momentous Fall. Here’s where remembering the Mountain mana would have
been good because I would have instead recast Kresh.

Wayne drops another Mountain, bolts Jeff (33), and recasts Jaya.


Jeff casts Dwarven Miner (after having earlier dropped Dust Bowl, which is a fine card) and pays five to cast Akroma face down again.

Jon goes to (18) and then (16) when he casts Night’s Whisper. He also drops Journeyer’s Kite and Puppeteer Clique. He steals my Farhaven
Elf and battles me with it. I of course block.

All I have is Garruk, and Wayne does nothing. At his EOT, Jeff unmorphs.


Jeff pumps Akroma with the Braid mana, then attacks me for what would be a lethal 21. Wayne uses Jaya to blow up everyone (which earns him a point for
saving me). Jeff Dust Bowls Diamond Valley, which I certainly knew was going to happen. When the dust settles, I’m at (29), Jon (10), Jeff (27),
and Wayne (5). Jeff then once again casts Akroma as a morph, paying seven.

Jon goes to (9), battles me with my Elf again. He casts Geth, Lord of the Vault, then mills me for one to get Scrabbling Claws. The card that goes is
Pernicious Deed, which is super-frowns. I’m still forgetting the Mountain produces extra mana, so I think that I can’t cast Kresh and
Momentous Fall after my turn starts, so I cast the Momentous Fall now, going to (47) and filling up my hand. I ask about the point called “Full
Grip,” which involved drawing cards and not having to discard, but I’m reminded it’s been taken off the list since drawing a bunch of
cards is really its own reward.

I then bumble a little bit, thinking that I want to sacrifice a dude to make the extra black (with Phyrexian Tower) to cast Massacre Wurm when Jon
points out that I can just untap lands with Garruk. I facepalm on myself. I cast the Massacre Wurm, sending Jon to (7) and Jeff to (25), since he
didn’t have enough mana left to unmorph. What I really needed to do there was cast Kresh, but I also wanted to keep up Grab the Reins mana. In
retrospect, Lurking Predators might have been a better play than the Wurm. I dump a pile of creatures into my graveyard since I haven’t drawn the
Reliquary Tower.

Wayne casts Molten Ravager and Jaya again.


Jeff peels and says “There we go” and casts Hellkite Charger. He attacks me, pays seven, and I take it (42). I want him to attack again and
pay more again, so he can’t cast Akroma, which he does. I then Grab the Reins with the intention of killing Wayne, but Jon Sweet sees it coming
and kills it in response with Executioner’s Capsule.

Jon’s Arena takes him to (6). He then casts Gruesome Encore on Lord of Extinction, casts Recollect on it, and also regrows my Butcher of Malakir.
He sends the latter at Wayne and the Boom Tube at Jeff, killing them both. Nicely played.


I have Living Death in hand, sacrifice my dudes, and then cast it. We look it over a little bit, and we start to work out if I can win the table by
getting some points, but I don’t really want to spend too much time on it. Jon, who has the score sheet, says, “If you get one point, me,
you, and Jeff all tie at seven,” which is fine with me. I don’t look for the eighth point. A three-way split for top prize is just fine
with me (and I feel a little bad for Wayne). After I’ve scooped it up, Jon says “No, wait, Jeff has eight.” I give him a raspberry
for his effort but don’t try to recreate anything. It would’ve been the first time we had a three-person tie at the top table, but the extra $2
isn’t worth taking the time for.

Next week will be the last week of the current League. I’ll take the Zombies if I can find some time to work with them. I also thought about the
fact that I haven’t played Merieke Ri Berit in forever—but that also means I haven’t updated in forever—probably since Zendikar
came out. One way or another, we’ll find a way to Embrace the Chaos.