It’s always great when a friend comes to visit. It’s even better when a friend comes to visit specifically to play EDH and the awesome board game Twilight Struggle. Imagine how great it was when the week before last, friend of the show Scott Larabee told me he was making a mileage run to Tampa in order to secure his frequent flier status for 2011.
The plan was simple: in on Wednesday for dinner at Mise en Place, Tampa’s best foodie restaurant, (a game of Twilight Struggle beforehand), a nice lunch (Square One Burgers, south Tampa), and then EDH at Armada’s Thursday League, and out on Friday (a coffee-and-breakfast game of Twilight Struggle before heading to the airport).
I know you’re more interested in the EDHing than the duck-fat-roasted fingerling potatoes with duck confit and black cherries paired with a 2006 Foley Charbono, so we’ll head right to the action. It’s been a while since I’ve done play-by-play, so this seemed like the right opportunity.
This iteration of the League is open-play, so Armada owner Aaron Fortino and I arranged beforehand with Scott (now on his fourth or fifth visit to Armada), which of the folks he’d like to have as our fourth. For game 1, it was Chris Kruse, playing his very janky Karona deck. Chris is a good egg. In addition to being a â€˜gets it’ EDH player, Chris has somehow become the person everyone calls for a ride up to the shop when they can’t otherwise get there, and he obliges them.
Scott is playing the
we featured a few weeks back; I’m playing Kresh the Bloodbraided, and Aaron is playing his brand new Numot, the Devastator deck. We’d talked about the design over a few weeks, and it’s morphed back more toward copy/control than it had been. He even took out the Acidic Soil, which I think is such an awesome late game card.
Scott: Barren Moor. I’d guess his land keep was a little weak.
Aaron: Gets a Mountain off the Wayfarer and drops it.
Scott: Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, and casts Sadistic Sacrament. He thinks for a minute, says that he knows what’s in my and Chris’ decks, so he targets Aaron. He takes out Bribery, Venser, Shaper Savant, and Gilded Drake.
Chris: Archon of Justice, which will become a battleground country (bonus Twilight Struggle reference!).
Aaron: Bazaar Trader, which seems like a load of fun.
Me: Swamp, Kresh which attacks Aaron (34).
Chris: Mana Reflection, consistently one of the scariest cards on T5.
Scott: Makes a Wayfarer, fetches a Savannah.
Chris: True Conviction and Primal Order. The former I know is from Scars but need to read to remember what it does. The latter I think is awesome. Aaron, Chris, and I only have a few nonbasics between us, but Scott is full of them. If he doesn’t get rid of that quickly, it’s going to hurt. Attacks Aaron with the Archon (32), Chris to (48).
Aaron: (41). Plains, nothing else.
Me: (31). I haven’t drawn any real gas the last few turns, so I’m going on the Kresh plan. Attack Chris with Kresh (44).
Scott: (22). Acidic Slime, then polls me and Aaron to see what he should hit. We’re divided. Aaron thinks True Conviction, I think Mana Reflection, (which I’ll admit is pretty selfish, since Primal Order is really going to hurt Scott more than me). He says he thinks Mana Reflection is the more frightening card, which leads me to believe he has an answer for the Primal Order.
Chris: Necrotic Sliver.
Aaron: (39). Does nothing. At his EOT, I Grab the Reins with entwine, targeting the Archon and Aaron’s skull. Chris responds by sacrificing his Necro Sliver to blow up the Archon, removing the Mimic Vatâ€”which is what I was going to do in the first place. Kresh gets +7.
Chris: Rosheen Meanderer. We start a discussion about someone in the shop having had a Meanderer deck, then finally remember it was Tory, who moved away a couple of months ago. Here’s a shout out to Tory, who we all miss.
Aaron: (36). Does nothing.
Me: (29). I cast Natural Order, sacrificing Eternal Witness. Aaron Time Stops. Boo-urns. I had other plays to make too. I hadn’t actually decided what I was going to get, but it would probably involve getting Stalking Vengeance first, then realizing it’s not green.Â
Scott: (10). The token blows up Primal Order, but the damage is done I think. Casts Survival of the Fittest, pitches Reveillark to it, getting Oracle of Mul Daya. Casts the Oracle, blowing up True Conviction. Peels two lands off the top, activates Survival again, pitching Archon of Justice, and gets Wall of Blossoms. Casts it, blowing up the Collar.
Chris: Rupture Spire.
Me: Looking for a Kresh kill, I Grab the Reins on the Titan to Fling it at Meanderer. Aaron has other ideas. He casts Twincast, throwing Kresh at Chris’ head (20). I cast Scrabbling Claws and drop Vesuva, copying Rakdos Carnarium. Attack Aaron with Madrush (41).
Me: Kresh, then Big Game Hunter, targeting the Gargantuan, giving Kresh +7. Attack Chris with Kresh for the General damage kill, Aaron with the other two (37).
Me: Kresh is probably the most likely path I have, so I drop it and Necrotic Ooze. There are no abilities to copy.
Aaron: Dominus of Fealty (a card that I turned him onto, btw), attacks me with the Wurm (12).
Aaron: On his upkeep, steals the Titan, attacks, getting a Maze and Celestial Colonnade. I do my double-blocking, and he casts Debt of Loyalty on the Necrotic Ooze, getting it, and putting the Titan in the Vat. I go to (1). I’m sure there are no answers in the deck.
Me: There aren’t. I staple a Post-It to my own forehead with “BROODING SAURIAN” written in permanent ink.
Aaron has to do some game storeowner stuff, so he sits out this one. Scott has asked to play with L1 Judge and Team Lives in the Red Zone member Todd Palmer, so he’s in with Rith, the Awakener, as is good man Shea Rutenbender with his Teneb deck. Scott decides to switch to his new Linvala deck, and I stick with Kresh.
Me: Stomping Ground
Scott: Secluded Steppe
Todd: Jungle Shrine
Me: Akoum Refuge (41).
Me: Exotic Orchard, Pernicious Deed. I’ve spent a fair amount of time playing Pernicious Deed in this format, and it seems like it’s always (and somewhat counterintuitively) advantageous to just drop it early and have the threat out there. Since tokens are a big part of the game, you don’t even need to always keep mana up to have it be effective.
Scott: Karmic Justice, rendering the Deed a little less good.
Todd: Mesa, fetches a land (38).
Scott: Blinding Angel.
Todd: Mosswort Bridge
Me: Make a token, cast Greater Good.
Scott: Mistveil Plains, casts Linvala, then attacks me again (36).
Todd: Casts Acidic Slime, taking one for the team, blowing up Karmic Justice. Scott takes out the Mosswort Bridge. Todd doesn’t have to, but he reveals Lignify under it, so he considers it not much of a loss.
Me: Token. Withered Wretch. Keep mana open.
Scott: Galepowder Mage. Attacks me again (34).
Shea: Cracks the Verge and drops another land as well.
Todd: Symbiotic Wurm.
Me: Token, Necrotic Ooze.
Scott: Aura of Silence. Sacs it to blow up Greater Good. I respond by sacrificing three tokens (resolving them one at a time), then the Wretch and the Ooze. Worse GGs ever. My hand is still not particularly saucy. Attacks me (30). Kresh now +16.
Scott: One of which presents itself when Scott attacks Todd Blinding Angel and me with Galepowder Mage, targeting Kresh. I Momentous Fall for 21. I end up at (48), Todd at (35). Drops Temple of the False God.
Shea: Nothing. Shea gets a phone call, and Aaron’s brother Michael taps in for him.
Shea: Regrows Eternal Witness with Orrery, casts it, and regrows Genesis Wave. Casts it for fifteen, getting Lurking Predators, Avenger of Zendikar, Harmonic Sliver, Tolsimir Wolfblood, Jens, Tajuru Preserver, Butcher of Malakir, Vengeful Archon, and Mitotic Slime. Blows up Ghostly Prison.
Me: There’s only one play, and it’s Decree of Pain to draw forty of the remaining fifty-seven cards in my deck. Michael blows up my Reliquary Tower, which may actually help more than hurt, since I can toss what I want, keep Living Death, and go mental. What I neglect is one of Shea’s other cards which Michael has turned up is Relic of Progenitus. Still, he’s not going to crack it until I actually cast the Living Death, and before then (after I untap), I can cast the Krosan Grip in my hand. Drop Basilisk Collar and Skullclamp.
Shea: Liliana Vess and tutors. Cracks the Relic. I now suspect that I was sloppy with my hand and Michael saw the Grip, since the play doesn’t make much sense otherwise, even when he casts Angel of Despair, which I assume is what he tutored for, to blow up Aura Shards.
Scott: Iona, Shield of Emeria, for green, shutting down all three of our Generals. Well played, sir.
Me: Gargadon comes in. I cast Anathemancer, targeting Shea/Michael (19). I equip Gargadon with Basilisk Collar and Skullclamp (although the latter might be dangerous to me, since my library is getting thin). Attack Todd (23), me to (50).
Todd: Dauntless Escort (Predators whiffs). Overwhelming Stampede. Shea Predators up Deathbringer Liege. Todd casts Oblation, targeting Linvala. After it resolves, he sacrifices Dauntless Escort to make his guys indestructible, then casts Austere Command, for big and small creaturesâ€”neglecting the Grave Pact. Now we call him Todd FacePalmer.
Shea: Phyrexian Delver gets back Avenger of Zendikar (12). Casts Fallen Angel. Sacrifices all the Plant tokens to the Angel. Activates Stirring Wildwood. Casts Overwhelming Stampede, and attacks me with 47/48 land. I have to play Spore Cloud.
Me: Shea shows back up just in time to get killed. I Living Death. Anathemancer targets Shea. Two Geths come back, triggering Stalking Vengeance, killing him. Equip Vengeance with Collar and Clamp, attacking Todd (17), me to (57).
Todd: SoFI equips to Mystic. Attacks me (43), kills Morph. Casts World Queller and equips it.
Me: Play a Morph, which everyone knows is Nantuko Vigilante. Attack Scott (30), me to (49). Cast my new addition to the deck, Braids, Cabal Minion. It’s more to be able to sacrifice my own stuff to trigger Stalking Vengeance and/or get more counters on Kresh. Other players losing stuff is just bennies.
Scott: Sacrifices Flagstones of Trokair to Braids. Casts Honor of the Pure and Skullclamp. Attacks Todd, who Swords to Plowshares on Iona, Scott to (39), Todd to (15). Martial Coup for 6. I unmorph, blowing up the Sword. Vengeance triggers on Scott (32).
Me: Withered Wretch, and Victimize. I get back Anathemancer and Stalking Vengeance, taking Todd to two. Equip Kresh with the Collar. Realize that if I had first equipped the Wretch with the Collar, I would’ve gained a few life.
Scott: Declares attacks. Todd tucks Windborn Muse with Bant Charm. No attacks. Scott casts Mass Calcify, and I kill Todd with the Stalking Vengeance trigger and deal ten to Scott (30). Scott then casts Catastrophe, choosing the lands. With four cards left in my library, there’s no recovering, so I scoop.
We end up playing a few more games, but I decide to focus on enjoying the social atmosphere instead of writing them up. I think there may have been a fifty-something Kresh Flung to the face in one of them, although it had to wait until after good man Aaron Duvall got eliminated, since he had Isochron Scepter equipped with Twincastâ€”that strangely enough lasted from turn 2 throughout a relatively long game.
I’m off to Seattle this week for some meetings at WotC. Hopefully I’ll be able to bring the report of some Chaos getting Embraced with a few of the reprobates within the buildingâ€”which leads me to the question. Which other WotC employees would you like to see me sling the 100-card decks with? I’ll look forward to your answers.