This week we kicked off the second installment of the Armada Games EDH League – this time, with Planechase. As predicted, there was insanity all around.
During the course of the week, I had updated my decks with Zendikar cards, and I was itching to play with them. I went to the shop a couple of hours early, hoping to get in two casual games before the league started, each with a different deck. Unfortunately, I got into a drawn-out game against a Niv-Mizzet and Scion of the Ur-Dragon deck, and we finished only shortly before the 7pm start time.
I decided to play Kresh for week one of the league. I’ll probably rotate each week to keep things fresh and hopefully avoid getting metagamed (although it’s difficult for me to avoid using creature recursion from the graveyard – it’s just one of my favorite things to do). I’m eventually going to come up with a brand new deck. I’m working on U/G Momir Vig, but I want to try to do stuff that other people haven’t with an otherwise popular General.
The Kresh deck didn’t get a serious overhaul from the list I posted a few weeks back, just a few card swaps.
I’m still thinking hard about the idea of the Beast subtheme, and will take the next week or so to think about it, probably waiting to trot it out until I get to Pro Tour: Austin in a few weeks.
Sixteen players show up for League night, which is a nice turnout. Shop co-owner Michael Fortino was going to play his new Warp World deck, but backed out because we were exactly at four pods of four. I told him one pod of five would be fine, but he still declined. I’m seated with shop-and-EDH regular Ryan with Child of Alara, Taylor, who I was earlier playing with Scion, and Brian with Rafiq. I know Brian’s deck is laser-focused around getting out Rafiq and beating with it, so I have my eye on him. Rafiq can kill you in a hurry.
I conceived the points system with some help from EDH forum regulars. It’s been implemented and now maintained by Armada owner Aaron Fortino. There’s a large list of awards, and he randomly chooses up to 6 to remove each week, keeping things fresh. The list is mostly from the previous league, but he added a few Planechase-specific ones.
Unless otherwise stated, all awards are once per player.
Chasm: Destroy or Remove all lands in play through spells or abilities. (This penalty is in the spirit of the rule, and not the letter of the rule, effects that would reset the board for all or most of the players at the table will be awarded this penalty. This can be awarded to the same player more than once per pod.)
Greedy McGreederson: Per extra turn taken. Can be awarded more than once.
123’s: Resolve the third spell that’s converted mana cost is the third number in a row. Player A plays Mogg Fanatic (CMC 1) then Vexing Shusher (CMC 2), then Player B resolves Volcanic Fallout (CMC 3) Player B would be awarded this. If Player C then casts Chameleon Colossus, Player C would get an extra point for following this pattern, and each successive spell resolving in an increasing fashion would awarded 1 point.
Better Late Than Never: First player to resolve the second version of a creature already in play. It must be the exact same card as the first (copies and Clones don’t count).
Blackjack: Control two creatures whose total power is exactly 21. May be awarded for a specific creature pair only once per pod (A creature that leaves play and comes back is a different creature).
Block Party: Have a permanent in play or spell present on the stack from each set of any block. The blocks are Ice Age, Invasion, Kamigawa, Lorwyn-Shadowmoor, Masques, Mirage, Mirrodin, Odyssey, Onslaught, Ravnica, Shards of Alara, Tempest, Time Spiral, Urza. (Basic Lands from those sets do not count.)
Copycat: First player to have a spell or permanent copied by an opponent.
DÃ©jÃ vu: Be the first player to have a card put on top your library from the battlefield, graveyard or the stack by an opponent.
De Plane De Plane: Planes walk 3 times in a single turn.
Double Take: First player to control two functionally identical non-token creatures with different names. Creatures must have the same power, toughness, converted mana cost and all abilities (such as Grizzly Bears and Balduvian Bears), but not necessarily color (such as Prodigal Sorcerer and Prodigal Pyromancer). This will awarded only when the stack is empty. (Copies and Clones don’t count).
Edge of Disaster: First player to have fewer than five cards in his or her library.
Enhanced Interrogation Techniques: Cause a creature to be sent to the Graveyard by means of -1/-1 counters.
First Blood: First player to have a creature killed by an opponent. Kill includes destroy, exile, or cause a player to sacrifice the creature. Combat damage doesn’t count. (This can be awarded to multiple people if they all have creatures killed at the same time by the same effect — Wrath of God, Damnation, etc…)
Forth Times the Charm: Resolve your General 4 times in a single game from the Command Zone.
Generalissimo: Kill a player with General damage. Can be awarded more than once.
Getting to Basics: Control at least 7 Basic Lands.
Good Samaritan: Intentionally cause an opponent to gain 10+ life in one shot (getting your Beacon of Immortality redirected doesn’t count for you, but for the person who redirected it).
Hey, That’s Mine: First player to have a permanent stolen (exchanges don’t count).
Hot Potato: Redirect any portion of non combat damage directed at you to another opponent.
I’m Cool Too: Second player to kill a creature he or she doesn’t control. Kill includes destroy, exile, or cause a player to sacrifice the creature. Combat damage doesn’t count.
I’m Probably Next: Have the lowest life total, which must be lower than 10 when the first player is killed.
Just Enough: Deal exactly lethal non-General damage to a player who is at 7 or more life.
Let’s Do That Again: Save an opponent from taking lethal damage. (This can be through prevention or redirection of damage, whether it be direct or from creatures, or through the use of life gaining spells or abilities. This award can only be earned once per opponent saved, multiple saves of the same opponent by the same person do not count.)
Look at Me: Last person standing in a pod.
Lucky 13: Have a single creature deal exactly 13 combat damage to a player at once. May be awarded for an individual creature only once per pod. (A creature that leaves play and comes back is a different creature).
Overkill: Deal 40+ more damage to a player than is required to kill them.
Salsa Dancer: Cast the fifth spell on a single stack; cannot be awarded in the same stack as Flamenco Dancer.
Straight: Control at least one creature of five consecutive powers (for example, Mogg Fanatic, Jackal Pup, Mogg Flunkies, Ravenous Baloth, Shivan Dragon). This will be awarded only when the stack is empty. This may only be awarded to an individual player once per pod, although it may be awarded to multiple players.
Taste the Rainbow: Sacrifice five total different creatures in one turn. Of those creatures you must sacrifice a creature for each color of your General. Multicolored creatures can be sacrificed for this, but will have to choose what color they are being sacrificed for.
That Was Rude: First player to have a spell countered by another player’s spell or ability.
The World Has Gone Mad: Trigger the Chaos ability of the current plane 3 times in a single turn; this does not have to be on the same plane.
What Goes Around: Take control of a permanent that an opponent took control of from another opponent.
Cramped Quarters: Control at least 40 different non-token permanents with the stack empty.
Three’s Not a Crowd: Resolve three different non-land permanents of three different types on the same turn. This may only be awarded to an individual player once per pod, although it may be awarded to multiple players. (Non-land permanent types are Artifact, Creature, Enchantment, and Planeswalker. Resolving a spell that is any combination of permanent types will count as one or the other, not both. Example: Enigma Sphinx is an Artifact Creature; you must choose whether it will count for your Artifact or your Creature for this award.)
You’re Outta Here: Kill a player or being directly responsible for a player’s death. There is the obvious — controlling the source of the damage (whether it’s direct or creatures). This also includes, although is not limited to alternate methods, such as controlling the Howling Mine that makes the player deck himself, or redirecting lethal damage to someone. (Player A plays Fireball, Player B Swerves the Fireball to Player C.) This can be awarded more than once to the same player.
ABC’s: Resolve the third spell that starts with a third consecutive letter, one additional point to a player who continues the chain. For example Player A plays Storm Herd, Player B casts Terminate then Unsummon. Player B gets 3 points. Player C then plays Venser and gets 1 Point. Player B then plays Withered Wretch and gets 1 point. Player D casts Wrath of God, therefore breaking the chain.
Flush: Control five non-token creatures of EXACTLY the same color (five Green creatures, or Green and Red creatures, but not three Green and 2 Green and Red). This will be awarded only when the stack is empty. This may only be awarded to an individual player once per pod, although it may be awarded to multiple players.
Flamenco Dancer: Cast the eighth spell on a single stack, cannot be awarded in the same stack as Salsa Dancer.
Straight Flush: Control five creatures of exactly the same color(s) in five consecutive powers. This will be awarded only when the stack is empty. This may only be awarded to an individual player once per pod, although it may be awarded to multiple players.
Bases Loaded: Control a Land, Creature, Enchantment, Artifact, and Planeswalker, while having both a Sorcery and an Instant present on the stack.
The way the Plane deck is distributed is that each table is numbered and gets a quarter of the deck. When you have three planes in your discard pile, you take them over to the next numbered table (table 4 goes to table 1). If a table is out of planes, the table before them automatically planeswalks (as soon as their stack is empty) and gives them their plane(s). It works out relatively well, as everyone is definitely in the spirit of it all.
We resolve mulligans (locally we’re still using the Gis mulligan instead of the official version), and I pitch two hands before I see more than two land. The third hand I get has five land in it, so it’s a keeper. Then we turn over the first plane: Pools of Becoming. Great. So much for those five land.
Ryan: Drops a land and tries unsuccessfully to walk away. He pitches his hand and redraws.
Taylor: Land, and then rolls chaos, activating Sokenzan, Izzet Steam Maze, and Naar Isle. The latter is the only one that really has an effect, and he domes Brian for 3 (37). He then dumps his grip and refills it.
Me: I drop my Reliquary Tower. I figure that if I’m going to get screwed with land, I can hold out for a while with the bigger hand. I think about getting color-screwed, but I know I have a fair amount of mana sources in the deck, so I decide to take my chances. Still, I’d like to get the hell of this Plane, so I roll. I whiff the first time and roll chaos the second, getting Feeding Grounds, Naya, and Eon Fog, so not much.
Brian: He rolls first, then drops his land.
Ryan: Rolls twice then plays his land.
Taylor: Vivid Creek and a whiff.
Me: I’ve drawn a Top, so that seems decent. I play Savage Lands and fail in the attempt to walk.
Brian: Rolls chaos, getting Fourth Sphere (which nets him a 2/2 Zombie), Sea of Sand (bouncing Taylor’s Vivid land), and Isle of Vesuva. Rolls again and gets nothing. Plays Arena (the land, not the Phyrexian kind). He mentions that he should probably have played something that produces mana (to which I silently agree, but I’m thankful that he’s taking the gamble; if things don’t get well for him land-wise, he’s not going to be able the run out an early, game-dominating Rafiq).
Ryan: No land, even with a full hand. Tries to walk away.
Taylor: Replays the Vivid
Me: Remove Gargadon counter and cast Sapling of Colfenor. The defense is set.
Brian: Dauntless Escort and nothing on the roll.
Ryan: Rolls, drops Reliquary Tower, and rolls. Nothing.
Me: I take the free roll to try to get away, but don’t. I then cast Deathbringer Thoctar, courtesy of the Filter. I cast Scrabbling Claws, but Ryan decides that he likes his graveyard, so he Negates it. We both lose a life for cards going to the yard. I get a point for “That Was Rude.”
Me: I Top into squat. Roll twice, whiffing both times.
Brian: Temple of the False God, which is currently useless, but the Filter lets him play Rafiq. He attacks Taylor with the Escort for 10 (Exalteds plus Double Strike). He rolls chaos, getting Beseech the Queen from Ryan, Violent Ultimatum from Taylor, and Stalking Vengeance from me (I’m just assuming that if I need to later, I’ll just Living Death back everyone), with appropriate life loss. I have Makeshift Mannequin in hand, so I can bring something back
Ryan: Rolls chaos. I respond by playing the Mannequin, which is the last card in my hand, getting back Stalking Vengeance. Taylor discards Furnace Dragon (29) and Brian Briarhorn (35). Casts Child of Alara.
Taylor: Scion, and walks away to The Great Forest.
Me: I Top on my upkeep and see only the Madrush Cyclops, which I cast. I try to roll away but get nothing. Even with Haste, I decide to play a little defensively. I think defense backed up with the threat of raw aggression is a good idea. I’m especially keeping home the Sapling, since I can see some of Brian’s stuff might come my way.
Brian: Sledges up the Escort. Attacks me with it; I block with the Sapling, but still end up taking 4 (32), Brian going to 49.
Taylor: Activates Scion, putting Teneb in the yard. Casts Bladewing, returning Teneb. Ouch for us. Attacks Ryan (29).
Me: Damage from Naar Isle (31). I play Nezumi Graverobber, because it looks like he’ll be easy to flip. In hindsight, I think I should have just played Kresh. There will probably be upcoming combats and dying creatures, and the combo of fattie Kresh and Stalking Vengeance seems good.
Ryan: Takes 3 from Naar Isle (26). Rolls to get away, but gets chaos, doming Brian (60). Plays a bounceland and then attacks Taylor with Child and says “BLOCK!” I wait to make sure that Ryan is actually going to put Child in the graveyard (hey, could have been a head-fake), and with the trigger on the stack, Brian sacrifices Escort, and I remove Bladewing with the Graverobber. The latter resolves, and with Escort still on the stack, I sacrifice Madrush to Gargadon (doming Brian with Stalking Vengeance), then sacrifice Graverobber (same), then sacrifice the Stalker itself to Gargadon so I can get a third counter on Deathbringer Thoctar. After the Thoctar triggers resolve, kill Rafiq with the 3 counters and then sacrifice Thoctar to Gargadon. Brian gets a point for First Blood, and then Ryan gets I’m Cool Too. Taylor tells me I get Taste the Rainbow and I record it, but when I go back over the notes after the game, I see that I sacrificed four creatures, not five, and take the point away.
Me: Take 5 from Naar Isle (26) and Greater Gargadon comes in. I draw Greater Good. I know it’s not going to survive anyway, and I don’t like having this empty hand, so I cast it and then attack Brian. I don’t want to attack either of the other guys because I don’t want to put them low enough to be within striking distance of a kill, especially with Naar Isle still hitting us. He blocks with the Pridemage and sacrifices it to destroy Greater Good. Having the one guy isn’t as important as the cards, so I sacrifice him. I draw into good stuff. I decide to not try to walk away.
Taylor: Takes 8 from Naar Isle (5). Pardic Dragon tries to come in but can’t because of Teferi. Plays Ghitu Encampment. Activates Scourge’s first ability twice to wipe Brian’s board and then attacks him (37).
Me: Take 9 from Naar Isle (17). Roll to try to get away and get chaos. I realize I can kill Taylor. I dome him for 3 and then attack for the last two with the Sapling. I cast Indrik Stomphowler , destroying Legacy Weapon.
Brian: Pays 6 to recast Rafiq (29).
Me: Top during my upkeep to get Spearbreaker Behemoth on top and Spellbreaker after. Cast the Spearbreaker, then attack Ryan with Sapling, to get the Spellbreaker.
Ryan: Now in topdeck mode, rolls 3 times and gets to Murasa. Rolls fourth and fifth times with no love.
Me: Attack Ryan with Spearbreaker and Brian with Sapling. Ryan to 7, Brian blocks with Teeg. Cast Spellbreaker and Grave Pact, just in case.
Ryan: Rolls five times, whiffing each time.
Me: Play Kresh. Cast Big Game Hunter, killing his Clone, making Kresh immense. It doesn’t really matter, because my Lord of Extinction is big enough to kill him, and he doesn’t have a blocker or answers.
I take the pod with 8 points, Brian with 2, Ryan with 1, and Taylor with 0.
I’m seated with Mark, with Sen Triplets; Troy with Konda, Lord of Eiganjo; and fellow Team Lives in the Red Zone member Todd, whose Rith deck I know is aggressive and explosive. Troy wins the roll, everyone is happy with their initial hand, and our first plane is The Great Forest. It’s interesting to me that while it’s not a particularly great plane, no one tries early to get off of it.
Todd: Vivid land
Troy: Attack Todd (39), White Knight
Me: Land, Fellwar Stone
Mark: Planeswalks to Celestial Reef. Land, Sword of Light and Shadow.
Todd: Land. Todd is usually trying to ramp by now; I wonder if he has a weak hand.
Troy: Amrou Scout
Todd: Pain from land (37), Explosive Vegetation. There we go.
Me: Remove Explosive Vegetation to flip Graverobber. Do nothing else.
Troy: Cloak and Dagger. Attacks me again (32). EOT, I sac Jens to Bombardment to kill Tenderfoot, giving Troy a point for First Blood.
Me: Yavimaya Elder and Talisman. Looks like I’m doing okay mana-wise.
Mark: Wall of Denial. I get a sense of the type of deck he’s playing.
Todd: Says “hell with it” and casts Rith and World Queller. I guess that he won’t be choosing Enchantment. At EOT, Troy uses the Scout to tap Rith.
Troy: Rolls the chaos die, so he can’t lose until someone walks away. Attacks Todd (32). EOT, I shoot the Elder at the tapper, getting the point for I’m Cool Too.
Me: I take a pain from the Talisman (31) to play Dragon Broodmother, then play Rakdos Carnarium. I usually like to wait until after I’ve activated a Hideaway before using a bounceland, but the acceleration is worthwhile.
Mark: Token for me. He does nothing.
Todd: I get a token and he chooses Artifact for the World Queller. I sac Talisman, Troy the Cloak and Dagger, and Mark the Sword of Light and Shadow. Todd casts Lightning Greaves and boots up Rith. Attacks Troy (34) and pays for the ability, naming white, getting 7 tokens.
Troy: I get a token. I tell myself that Troy will attack Todd, and he does (28). I cycle Barren Moor.
Me: Get a token. Bone Shredder, killing World Queller I think about maybe playing Eldrazi Monument instead, but I’d rather not lose any artifacts. I play Demonic Tutor, and think about either Living Death or Insurrection. With the latter, my plan is to basically use it as a Wrath, sacrificing all the creatures to Bombardment. It’ll do some damage, but it’s not a game-ender yet, and I’m a firm believer that you cast Insurrection either to end the game or as a last resort, because you will undoubtedly draw hate.
Todd: I get a token. Swings at Troy with Rith. Troy plays Dawn Charm to prevent all the damage. Todd then casts Furystoke Giant! A genius card in his deck. He gives the credit to fellow team member and L2 Judge Ben McDole. He taps all his guys to kill all our creatures and do 2 to each playerâ€”me to 29, Mark to 36, Troy to 36. I respond by throwing all my guys at his face (20). I guess the Monument might have been worthwhile after all. Todd rolls three times but doesn’t get off the plane.
Troy: Ballynock Cohort.
Me: Don’t pay Echo. Here’s where I gamble, and it’s really just hanging it out there. I can cast the Insurrection now and sweep the board, killing Todd in the process, but that leaves me with both Troy and Mark to deal with. I play the delicate game of hoping that Todd will kill Troy, then I can kill him and damage Mark some, and have the upper hand. This is all predicated on the raw hope that Todd just chooses to attack someone other than me. I have no real basis for this other than… well, nothing. It’s just a plan. I instead cast Call of the Wild.
Mark: Gets 7th basic land and casts Sensei’s Divining Top.
Todd: Walks to Glimmervoid Basin. Gets a big, stupid grin on his face. Radiate Plane will do that to you. Floats a bunch of mana, then casts Naturalize, killing all the enchantments and artifacts. I respond by activating Call of the Wild, getting Eternal Witness. I regrow Demonic Tutor. Todd then casts Vengeful Rebirth, getting enough copies to hit Mark and Troy each for 9. Recasts Mirari’s Wake. Planeswalks to Immersturm. Rolls again, getting chaos, and blinks his Furystoke Giant. Hits Troy (20) with the Immersturm trigger, then kills him with the tokens, along with Eternal Witness and taking me to 23 and Mark to 25. Swings at Mark with Rith, who blocks with Wall of Denial, which for some reason Todd thought was 0/7. What a crazy turn!!! That’s what EDH Planechase brings.
Me: Get my 7th basic land. Now I’m forced to play the Insurrection (giving both Todd and Mark a point for Hey That’s Mine). Unfortunately, I don’t have the Goblin Bombardment any more. It doesn’t really matter, though, since I kill Todd (with exactly 20 damage, so I get Just Enough), and take Mark to 20.
Me: Mycoloth. I Devour nothing. I hit Mark with the damage (16) instead of the Triplets. I figure that since I’m handless, it’s not a big deal. I cast Kresh, doming him again (12). EOT he Tops and casts Vampiric Tutor (10).
Mark: Sacrifices the Monument. Tops again and walks to Sybreen. Attacks with Triplets, telegraphing a Wrath. I block with Mycoloth. He casts Wrath. After that resolves, we auto-walk to Undercity Reaches because the table after us needs planes.
Me: Graveshell Scarab.
Mark: Tops and recasts Triplets.
Me: Attack with Scarab (6). I know from him playing with his top card revealed that he has Treachery in hand, so I don’t want to play Kresh or anything else, really.
Mark: Attacks me (20). Magus of the Moat.
Me: Planeswalk away, and get The Hippodrome. Roll again, get chaos, and kill the Magus. Roll again, and walk to Isle of Vesuva. Attack with Graveshell, which takes him to that important 2. Of course, if he was in striking distance, he probably wouldn’t have attackedâ€”but nonetheless, I missed something I shouldn’t have.
Mark: Attacks me (17). Treacherys Graveshell, and I realize that I can’t sacrifice it due to the Triplets. He then sacrifices it to draw a card.
Me: Now that his Treachery is gone, I can play my two fatties. Being on Isle of Vesuva is great. I cast Penumbra Wurm and he doesn’t counter, which leaves me free to cast an immense Lord of Extinction. I have copies of both, and am going to murder him with them next turn. I then roll chaos and kill Sen’s Triplets.
Mark: Plays the most unlikely card in EDH, which utterly wrecks me since both tokens and Clone Plane are in play: Leyline of Singularity. I spend a considerable WTF moment staring at the card. Mark looks at me and says “I keep getting killed by one of my friends with token decks.” I shrug and guess that I unless I topdeck Stalking Vengeance or Living Death.
There’s an interesting interaction when he plays Solemn Simulacrum. He asks me first if he can do it, but when I start to explain, he just says “oh what the hell” and plays it anyway. So what happens is:
Jens comes into play, triggering Isle of Vesuva and its own ability. He controls both, so he stacks them how he chooses. He puts the search on first, then the copy.
The copy ability resolves, putting a token into play, triggering another search ability. Before that goes on the stack, however, we deal with the State-Based Action of having two Legendary permanents in play. Both of them go to the graveyard, triggering the card draw ability. Now we have three triggers waiting to go on the stack. Since Mark controls all three, he stacks them how he chooses. He chooses to put the two card draws on first, then the search. The bottom line is that he searches, draws twice, and searches again.
The game goes seven more turns, but involves me not being able to roll off this plane, and him killing me with an Elspeth token. Mark turns out to be a really great guy to play heads up against, and keeps telling me that this is his favorite format. He doesn’t find out my role in developing it until well after the game.
I win the pod with 6 points, Mark is second with 5, Todd gets 2 and Troy 1.
This game definitely shows the insanity that can happen with EDH and Planechase. Todd’s turn is the stuff of myth, and things like that happening are one of the great draws to the format. There are probably too many intervening events (PT and Worlds, plus a little vacation) for me to actually show up enough times to qualify for winning the league (it’s best 6 weeks out of 8… although the shop has already agreed to skip the Thursday between PT: Austin and GP: Tampa, since many of the league players will actually be at a pre-GP party), but it’s the one-game-at-a-time approach for me anyway. Of course I want to win, but I also “win” by enjoying the outlandish things that happen in EDH games. Winning is what you want it to be, and that’s Embracing the Chaos.