Embracing The Chaos – Kresh Deck Wins?

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Wednesday, March 24th – Now the exciting conclusion to the Armada Games EDH League V.3! Can Kresh get there, or will braid be unblooded? Will I lose because of a late bumble, or will I win in spite of myself? Let’s find out!

Now the exciting conclusion to the Armada Games EDH League V.3! Can Kresh get there, or will braid be unblooded? Will I lose because of a late bumble, or will I win in spite of myself? Let’s find out!

First thing is that we reinforced a valuable lesson, even in a casual league: make sure you RTFC.

As you’ll see in Game 1, Kyle’s Embracing the Chaos deck (he’s called it Group Hugs, and as you’ve previously seen, it’s definitely not a Hugs deck), the one that features Eye of the Storm and Hive Mind among other things, also features Braids, Conjurer Adept. Although Blue Braids is fun for everyone, it has its limits. Particularly, it’s limited to artifacts, creatures, and lands.

Second thing is to offer apologies to Matt Place, Lead Developer and Brian Tinsman, Lead Designer, of Rise of the Eldrazi. I last week mis-identified Ken Nagle as the lead. Ken knows how to Embrace the Chaos.

I arrive early on Thursday to administer a Level 2 Judge test to Michael Fortino, one of the shop owners. Michael has done a great job in the local community, creating a rules study group for judges and judge candidates. He’s raised the level of rules knowledge and awareness to a remarkable level, and well-deserves the opportunity to test. Having previously generated the test online, I pull it up on the computer in the back of the shop, and set him to it. We’ll find out later how he does.


As we sit, I’m informed it’s the last week of the league. I was under the impression that we had one more to go, but what do I know? Ryan, he of the Child of Alara deck, tells me he got a glance at the scoresheet and that I’m a little behind him on points. If I outscore him this week by about 20, I can catch him. He tells me that Patrick, who has frequently run Stonebrow but tells us he has something new this week, and Jeff, who has previously run Kresh, are a ways back, and will be fighting it out for third and fourth. I suspect that I can’t really catch Ryan, but it really doesn’t matter all that much. The prize payout is very small anyway – intentionally so, we really don’t want to create a hyper-competitive environment – and the difference between first and fourth aren’t all that great.

I’m seated with the aforementioned Kyle and his Karona Chaos deck, Bill, with Wort the Raidmother, and Nate with Child of Alara, and Ryan, also with Child. The setup allows multiple people to play the same General – a choice I’m not a huge fan of, but not enough to make a major fuss about. League manager Aaron Fortino simply says “Let them keep killing each other’s Generals.” I shrug, realize that it means there might be different strategic choices to make, and go from there.

Me: Savage Lands
Bill: Terramorphic Expanse for a Swamp
Kyle: Forest
Ryan: Crumbling Necropolis
Nate: Island, Sol Ring, Selesnya Signet. Fast start.

Me: Forest, Suspend Greater Gargadon. Again with the GG. It’s like the fourth game in a row I’ve had it in my opening hand. I’m beginning to suspect I might need new sleeves.
Bill: Bloodstained Mire
Kyle: Island, Azorius Signet. I mention how, with two Child decks, Signets might not live long. As I might have mentioned before, the more I play the format, the more I like things that get extra lands instead of ramping up with artifact mana. The inevitable Disk effect is just going to completely wreck you.
Ryan: Underground River
Nate: Plains, Armillary Sphere, cracks it, and casts Hada Freeblade. He mentions that his creatures are nearly all Allies.

Me: Twilight Mire, Pernicious Deed. With Allies, things are going to get out of hand quickly, I know it. As it turns out, Bill is playing Goblins, so Deed is even more protection.
Bill: Sacrifices his Mire (39) to get a Mountain, and casts Goblin Recruiter. Basically stacks the top 40 cards of his deck.
Kyle: Plains, Braids, Conjurer Adept. Nate asks what it does, and Kyle says “during each player’s upkeep, they get to put a non-Planeswalker permanent into play.” I assume that since the card came out before Planeswalkers, Kyle is just paraphrasing. As we later find out, this isn’t correct. By the time we do, it’s too late to back up, so we don’t change anything that has happened.
Ryan: Puts in Magus of the Future and a Mountain
Nate: Lurking Predators off of Braids, attacks Bill (38), and plays a Morph. Unfortunately for Bill, I think he’s painted a giant target on his head since everyone knows what’s coming. It might be pretty savage, but I don’t think it’s all that bad.

Me: I get Bloodshot Cyclops off of Braids. That means I can blow up stuff at the moment and the Cyclops survives. I drop Spinerock Knoll, and in another of what has become an annoying happenstance (guess it’s payment for always getting the Gargadon), I have the crappiest Hideaways. This time, it’s three lands and Deathbringer Thoctar.
Bill: Goblin Ringleader, putting four guys in his hand. Nate gets Agadeem Cultist off the Predators. Bill casts Tormod’s Crypt, Nate reveals a land, and ships it to the bottom.
Kyle: Gets a Signet off of Braids and then casts Questing Phelddagrif. Nate gets Seascape Aerialist off Predators. I suspect this will be a short game, since the nasty Allies are yet to come.
Ryan: Fist of Suns, off of which Nate gets Hagra Diabolist. Nate rolls a die to decide who loses life (boo!) and it’s Ryan. At EOT, he unmorphs and it’s Vesuvan Shapeshifter. He copies the Diabolist.
Nate: Upkeep, puts in Dual Nature. This is already out of hand. He casts Bojuka Brigand and gets a copy, draining Bill for 14 (24). Attacks Bill (10). He then casts Momentary Blink on the Diabolist (getting another copy), killing Bill and draining Ryan (32). Thanks for playing, Bill. Hope you didn’t drive a long way to play EDH only to get killed on turn 4. Nate defends himself by saying that Bill was about to “go off,” but I’m not sure that’s the case. Later, when we realize that Braids can’t get enchantments, I feel kind of bad that I didn’t verify what the card does. Nate’s fast start is definitely due to the Predators/Dual Nature combo, and he just shouldn’t have had it on the field this early. I remind myself to sometime in the future make it up to Bill for the screwup.

Me: I have nothing to put in for Braids. I draw Reliquary Tower, drop it, and say go.
Kyle: Gets another Signet off of Braids and then casts Endless Whispers. Nate’s Predators gets Greypelt Hunter. He targets Ryan with 3 Diabolist triggers. I’d like to be able to wait another turn to Deed for 6 and get rid of Predators and Dual Nature, but with Ryan likely wanting to cast something, off of which Nate will get another Ally, not to mention Nate’s turn, we might all be dead by the time my turn comes around. I Deed for 5, which wipes the board of creatures. Everyone else gets First Blood. I’m okay with that tradeoff.
Ryan: Nothing.
Nate: Nothing. Nate is already top-decking, so it’s not terrible, but the Predators are still going to do some damage. I love that card.

Me: Gargadon to 5 counters. Cast Spawnwrithe, getting a copy. Nate whiffs on Predators. I get Here Comes the New Challenger.
Kyle: Mikokoro, and we all draw.
Ryan: Plains, Beacons himself (64), Nate again whiffs.
Nate: Signet and Harrow.

Me: Attack Kyle with the tokens (36). Cast Bloodchief Ascension. This is a good card that unfortunately others see coming and actively do something about. It’s nice if you can get it into play and active, but I’m guessing that those times will be in the minority, although this time ends up being a good one. Nate gets 2 Talus Paladins off the Predators.
Kyle: Kazandu Refuge (37)
Ryan: Legacy Weapon. Things just got interesting.
Nate: Kazandu Blademaster. Smashes Kyle for 11 (30), Nate to (47).

Me: Kyle says “everybody draw!” I attack Ryan with three copies of Spawnwrithe (58) and get three more tokens and an active Ascension.
Kyle: Heartbeat of Spring and Enigma Sphinx, Cascading into Nuklavee, getting copies of both.
Ryan: Adarkar Wastes. At some point in here is where Kyle says “Hey, Braids can’t give you enchantments.” We have a brief discussion, and I tell everyone that if this were a sanctioned event, we’d leave things as they are (and hand out some warnings), and we agree to do just that. Ryan exiles the Predators with Legacy Weapon and then casts Wrath of God. I respond by shooting the Cyclops at Kyle’s head (25). I sacrifice Spawnwrithe to Gargadon, leaving it with 1 counter. Wrath resolves, and I drain Nate (43), Ryan (52) and Kyle (21), with me going to (50). Ryan RFGs Ascension, which I Reroute back to itself. At EOT, Endless Whispers triggers happen. Ryan gets Nucklavee and Bloodshot Cyclops, Nate gets Spawnwrithe, and I get Kazandu Blademaster and Talus Paladin, with everyone getting the Dual Nature tokens as well. Kyle has taken four damage and lost four life, but that’s not good enough to activate Spinerock Knoll.
Nate: Attack Kyle (17)

Me: Gargadon comes in (plus copy). Cast Butcher of Malakir (and get a copy). Cast Goblin Bombardment. Attack Kyle with Gargadon and 2/2 Ally (1) and Nate with his own guys (29).
Kyle: Upkeep, shoot Kyle with the smallest token. He responds with Seht’s Tiger. I shoot another guy at him for the kill and the extra point for killing someone on his own turn. EOT triggers wait until the next EOT happens, which will be on Ryan’s turn. Kyle’s chaos survives even after he does!
Ryan: Child of Alara, getting a token. He sends the token to the yard and the original back to exile. I shoot guys at Nate’s head and drain him (19), me to (54). Ryan casts Feldon’s Cane. At EOT, the waiting triggers happen. Nate gets the Cyclops, I get the Spawnwrithe.
Nate: Signet, Living Death. Holy crap. Eight Allies come back. He kills Ryan with 56 and takes me to 48. This is bad – except for the fact that I have Living Death in my hand as well. As I write that, I wonder if I should be playing Twilight’s Call as well.

Me: Attack with Butcher (18). Living Death, getting a point for Ninja Vanish. Vesuva copies Spinerock Knoll, and it’s even worse than the original, and I have to put Sapling of Colfenor under it. The important thing coming back is, of course, the Bloodshot Cyclops. And the getting rid of all those pesky allies.
Nate: Signet, Child of Alara.

Me: Stalking Vengeance off the top! I should be okay if he doesn’t kill me.
Nate: Attacks me with Child, and I take it (42).

Me: Attack with Spawnwrithe and Stalking Vengeance. He flashes back Momentary Blink, blocking Stalking Vengeance. I shoot it at his head (13), Spawnwrithe takes him to (11). This activates the Spinerock Knolls, under which I have Deathbringer Thoctar and Sapling of Colfenor. I cast Creakwood Liege. Ryan points out I have Block Party. EOT, he casts Makeshift Mannequin on his Shapeshifter.
Nate: Kabira Evangel.

Me: Attack, revealing Hamletback Goliath. Play Kresh and Brooding Saurian.
Nate: Boros Signet and Followed Footsteps on Kresh.

Me: Attack with the team, revealing Spearbreaker Behemoth. He blocks the Saurian and goes to (6).
Nate: His hand is empty and he’s dead on the board, so he windmills his draw onto the table. It’s Demonic Tutor! The bad news for Nate is that he only has two Black mana, so he can’t Tutor for Patriarch’s Bidding and just win. Simply trying to stay alive, he gets Reveillark, Evokes it, and gets back Talus Paladin and the Shapeshifter, copying my Hamletback. My Hamletback is now +13.

Me: My peel is Eternal Witness. I make the first play that presents itself: cast it, get back Pernicious Deed, cast it, Deed for 5 and swing with Hamletback Goliath for the win.

It was an exciting game, with lots of back and forth, and even with the Braids mistake, one of the more enjoyable games we’ve had in a while (except for poor Bill). I win the table with 12 points, and I’m pretty sure Nate’s 10 will bring him to table 1 as well.


I’m correct about Nate. The other two table winners were Patrick, with his new Rayne, Academy Chancellor deck and Brian, with Rafiq. Even though Nate and I call shotgun on the table so we don’t have to move (we end up agreeing on the fact that there’s no such thing as Supershotgun), he ends up somehow sitting to my left instead of across from me (basically on my right). Still not sure how that happened. The bad news for me is that he wins the roll. Ryan informs me he’s gotten some points and I need to outscore him in this game by 21 to catch him, so I’m pretty sure that I end up in second. It doesn’t change the way I’m going to play. It’s still Kresh into the Red Zone!

Nate: Vivid Marsh
Brian: Boreal Shelf
Patrick: Island
Me: Fifth time’s the charm. Mountain, suspend Greater Gargadon. I’m definitely resleeving.

Nate: Forest, Fertile Ground.
Brian: Forest, Steward of Valeron.
Patrick: Island. Truth or Tale. Reveals Island x2, Master Veil, Gomozoa and Goliath Sphinx. He takes an Island.
Me: Swamp

Nate: Trace of Abundance. That’s some ramp right there. Izzet Signet. Still doesn’t make sense to me, since he’s playing Child of Alara.
Brian: Arctic Flats, attacks Nate (38).
Patrick: Island, Rayne.
Me: Swamp, Withered Wretch.

Nate: Morph. I momentarily forget what he played last game, assume it’s Willbender, then midway through Brian’s turn remember that it’s Shapeshifter.
Brian: Terramorphic Expanse, gets an Island, attacks Patrick (38), casts Rafiq.
Patrick: Urza’s Power Plant. I give him props.
Me: Forest, Creakwood Liege. Tormod’s Crypt. EOT, Nate unmorphs, copying the Liege. I get a point for Copycat.

Nate: Token, Signet. He’s going to wreck himself, I can just tell.
Brian: Battlegrace Angel. Attacks me with Rafiq. Nate Momentary Blinks the Shapeshifter, copying Rafiq. Seems like I owe him a favor.
Patrick: Urza’s Tower. Saucy. Clones Battlegrace Angel.
Me: Forest, Yavimaya Elder.

Nate: Reveillark. I respond by exiling the Shapeshifter. I owe him a favor, not my life.
Brian: Attack Nate with the Angel (33), Brian to (45). Noble Hierarch and Great Sable Stag. Interesting card choice.
Patrick: Rite of Replication on the Hierarch. AT EOT, I remove Nate’s Momentary Blink. No more getting caught with my pants down like I did last game.
Me: Mountain. EOT, Nate Enlightened Tutor for Enigma Sphinx.

Nate: Casts Sphinx, Cascades into Bloodbraid Elf, into Dimir Signet.
Brian: Rafiq again. Attacks me with the Angel (26), Brian to (59).
Patrick: Roil Elemental, then a land, stealing Rafiq. Attacks Brian with his Clone of Battlegrace (45), Patrick to (52).
Me: Swamp (getting my 7th basic land, and the point), Kresh. The generals are coming out!

Nate: Attack Brian (40). Enlisted Wurm into Hada Freeblade.
Brian: Oblivion Ring on Roil Elemental, getting back Rafiq. Attacks Patrick (38), Brian to (54). This is why I don’t like to steal people’s stuff. They attack you!
Patrick: Vapor Snare on Rafiq.
Me: Big Game Hunter, targeting Clone (Patrick draws a card). Kresh gets +4/+4. Patrick gets First Blood.

Nate: Attacks Patrick with Sphinx, Bloodbraid, and Wurm. Patrick blocks with the Hierarch (30). Casts Hagra Diabolist, draining Patrick (28), Patrick drawing a card. AT EOT, Brian Bant Charms Kresh. My main man Patrick Counterspells it. Brian gets That Was Rude.
Brian: Fracturing Gust, gaining 16. Attacks Nate, who blocks with Reveilliark. Brian to (84).
Patrick: Annexes Nate’s Vivid land. Nate gets a point for Trail of Tears. EOT, I remove Reveillark and Clone. I’m surprised we’ve gone this long without a board sweeper.
Me: Swamp, go. I’m holding onto Grab the Reins.

Nate: Attacks Patrick with the team. Patrick blocks with Roil Elemental (18).
Brian: Attacks me with Battlegrace Angel. I Grab the Reins, Entwined on the Angel, killing Rafiq (I get I’m Cool Too). We get that sweeper when Brian casts Planar Cleansing. I remove the Roil Elemental and Diabolist before Withered Wretch goes away.
Patrick: Veldalken Orrery.
Me: Gargadon comes in, and I see Patrick’s life at 18, which I also know is 2 x 9. I attack him (9).

Nate: Nothing
Brian: Harrow, Magus of the Future.
Patrick: Nothing (since he has Orrery)
Me: Attack Patrick. He casts Persuasion. I have to think about this, since I have Red Elemental Blast in hand. If he were just killing or bouncing my guy, I’d probably suck it up, but since he’s stealing it and I might get knocked around with it, I use the REB. That, and the fact that it kills him. I pay 7 to cast Kresh.

Nate: Nothing
Brian: Jace, we all draw. Eternal Witness getting back Hierarch
Me: Attack Jace with the Gargadon and Brian with Kresh. He chumps the Gargadon and I give it Trample with Skargg (81). I drop Twilight Mire.

Nate: Farseek for a Plains
Brian: Fact for Fiction, choosing me. I separate the piles (Thornling, Plains) and (Sword of Fire and Ice, Celestial Colonnade, Azorius Chancery). He takes the first. Attacks me (22) and casts Wrath of God. At EOT, I Mannequin back Gargadon.
Me: Goblin Bombardment. Attack Nate with Gargadon (24). I know I’m not likely to kill Brian with anything other than General damage at this point, so I’ll do my best to take out Nate. Drop Stomping Ground, cast Woodfall Primus (to have beef), take out Brian’s Vivid land to reduce his available Green mana.

Nate: Child of Alara
Brian: Thornling. Misty Rainforest (80) to get a Forest. Gives the Thornling Haste and Indestructible. Attacks Nate, who blocks with Child and sends it to the yard. I shoot Nate with the Gargadon, and when Primus comes back, I blow up Brian’s Arctic Flats.
Me: Eternal Witness, getting back Grab the Reins.

Nate: Enigma Sphinx into Sacred Ground.
Brian: Explore and drops his seventh basic. Casts Knight of the Reliquary. Thornling attacks me, I block with the Primus. He makes it 5/3, so we do tradsies.
Me: Pay 9 to play Kresh. Cast Lord of Extinction (aka “Boom Tube”). I have a plan that involves Berserking Boom Tube and flinging it with Grab the Reins.

Nate: Spitting Image on Eternal Witness for Enlightened Tutor.
Brian: Admonition Angel.
Me: Attack Nate with Kresh. My plan is to Berserk the 44/44 Lord of Extinction, fling it at Brian for 88, pumping Kresh enough to also kill Nate. Here is the bumble. After I play the Berserk, I realize that the sacrifice part of Grab the Reins is part of the resolution, not the cost. Brian can just activate Knight of the Reliquary, and use the Landfall trigger to remove the Lord of Extinction. I got greedy and wasted the Berserk.

Nate: Duplicant. Crap. I know what’s coming, but I have to do try it anyway. I Grab the Reins on Lord of Extinction, and Brian responds with activating the Knight and exiling the Lord. Maybe if I can somehow kill him…
Brian: Attacks me with the Angel (16)
Me: Kresh for the 4th time, netting me a point.

Nate: Living Death. This could get interesting. Brian responds by getting a land with the Knight and removing it with the Angel’s trigger. Lots of guys come into play, then the stuff removed by the Angel comes back.
Brian: Magus of the Future is one of his guys, and he casts Bribery off the top, targeting me. He gets Deathbringer Thoctar, netting himself a point for Block Party. He attacks me with Knight of the Reliquary, which I block with Big Game Hunter. Brian goes to 94. He casts Rite of Replication targeting Duplicant, taking out my Gargadon.
Me: Dragon Broodmother. This could help.

Nate: I get a Dragon token. Sphinx into Followed Footsteps on Duplicant. EOT, Brian pings my Creakwood Liege twice. I Reroute the second one to Nate’s face.
Brian: Another token. Rafiq. Attacks me with 7/7 Thornling. I block with Woodfall Primus. When it comes back, it takes out his untapped Forest. Brian gains another bunch of life.
Me: Devour a token this time and get a Straight. Drop Oran-Rief, the Vastwood and Spearbreaker Behemoth.

Nate: Duplicants Thornling. Good choice. Seagate Loremaster, and Nate also gets a Straight.
Brian: Sphinx of Jwar Isle. I think he even mutters “Duplicant that.” Body Double copies Big Game Hunter, taking out the Broodmother. Trygon Predator. Attacks Nate with Gargadon. Nate plays Join the Ranks, and blocks with 15 power worth of creatures. I make Gargadon Trample. Nate to (16). Time is called on Brian’s turn, so we’ll go once more around the table, ending with me since Nate started.
Me: During my upkeep, Brian shoots my Liege twice and then kills all my small guys. I Anathemancer Brian and cast Madrush Cyclops. Attack Nate with the team (11). At EOT, Brian shoots 4 at my face (2).

Nate: Spitting Image on Woodfall Primus, destroying Skargg.
Brian: Rafiq. He looks downcast, since it looks like he can’t kill me – and then he realizes he can activate Faerie Conclave and swing at me for the kill. A fitting end to a chaotic game!

So do I lose because of the bumble or win in spite of myself? Both, kind of, but only because we ran out of time. I take the table with 10 points and Brian finishes second with 9. With some more turns, he probably kills Nate and jumps past me.

They tell me later that Ryan had it wrong (he apparently forgot that we count best six of eight weeks, not everything), and I win the League by a few points. Again, it’s more about having fun than the small prize pool, but it also feels pretty nice to be on top.

Speaking of nice, Michael passed his L2 test. He’s come a long way since I first started going into the shop more than a year ago, and he’s doing a great job for the Judge Program.

Armada’s EDH League v.4 starts the first of April, but we’ll have more excitement as next week I run the first ever Embracing the Chaos Contest! Tune in then for more details.