Embracing The Chaos – Reins of Thraximundar

Grand Prix: Oakland!

Tuesday, February 2nd – On the Thursday before the prerelease, week 2 of the Armada Games EDH League came up faster than I could prepare for, so I had to shelve my plans to run Lord of Tresserhorn out there (I hope I have time to put him together, completely with Worldwake cards). Keeping with the Grixis theme, I decided to run Thraximundar, who I also hadn’t updated in a while…

Here’s hoping you all had a great Prerelease weekend! I enjoyed myself quite thoroughly as the guest of Jeff Williams and Phoenix Games, gunslinging at the Orlando Regional event. I met lots of new players and had some great matches during the course of the day. Many thanks to Jeff and the staff of Phoenix, who treated me like a king.

I ended up slinging some Standard, Sealed Deck (they gave me a pool to open, which was quite good—I played 4 of the rares: Butcher of Malakir, Kalitas, Terrastodon, and Rampaging Baloths. I hope I get a pool that saucy the next time I play Sealed), and, of course, EDH.

On the Thursday before the prerelease, week 2 of the Armada Games EDH League came up faster than I could prepare for, so I had to shelve my plans to run Lord of Tresserhorn out there (I hope I have time to put him together, completely with Worldwake cards). Keeping with the Grixis theme, I decided to run Thraximundar, who I also hadn’t updated in a while. I’m not sure I’ve ever posted the list, so here it is (updated to put in the Damnation that I didn’t have earlier):

Big Game Hunter
Blood Tyrant
Dimir Cutpurse
Draining Whelk
Garza Zol, Plague Queen
Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni
Kagemaro, First to Suffer
Kulrath Knight
Malakir Bloodwitch
Mindless Automaton
Nantuko Husk
Nightscape Battlemage
Nightscape Familiar
Ob Nixilis, the Fallen
Reiver Demon
Shadowmage Infiltrator
Solemn Simulacrum
Vampire Nighthawk
Vexing Sphinx
Withered Wretch

Darksteel Ingot
Expedition Map
Explorer’s Scope
Fellwar Stone
Lotus Bloom
Scrabbling Claws
Shield of Kaldra
Sol Ring
Sword of Fire and Ice
Wayfarer’s Bauble
Whispersilk Cloak

Phrexian Arena

Beacon of Unrest
Consume Spirit
Cruel Edict
Decree of Pain
Demonic Tutor
Diabolic Tutor
Living Death
Time Warp
Twisted Justice

Agonizing Demise
Cerebral Vortex
Chain of Plasma
Overwhelming Intellect
Read the Runes
Reins of Power
Whispers of the Muse

Blood Crypt
Crosis’s Catacombs
Crumbling Necropolis
6 Island
Izzet Boilerworks
Jwar Isle Refuge
5 Mountain
Reliquary Tower
Shizo, Death’s Storehouse
Spinerock Knoll
Steam Vents
14 Swamp
Tainted Isle
Tainted Peak
Temple of the False God
Terminal Moraine
Watery Grave

I got to play a few casual games before we started, with requisite EDH silliness. Once again, Chronomantic Escape kept me alive to do cool stuff with Merieke. The Galepowder Mage/Nekretaal machine gun also paid some dividends.

Nine players showed up this week, so we had a table of four and of five. I asked Armada owner Aaron Fortino about the turnout, and he mentioned that Constructed events, to include EDH, always seem to suffer in the few weeks before new sets rotate in. I hope to see more folks with new WWK tech for week 3.

I’m seated with Dale from last week (still with Sliver Overlord), Jeff (Kresh), and Keith (Doran). We get the list of which awards have been chosen, and Keith looks for the one that gets you a point when you save someone from getting killed, since he did it last week before realizing he wouldn’t get the award. It’s there, so he’s happy. I win the roll, and we get right to it.

My hand has three land—two Swamps and Shizo—and Sol Ring, so I keep. Other colors will come, for sure.

Turn 1
Me: Swawp, Sol Ring.
Keith: Vivid Meadow
Jeff: Mountain
Dale: Plains

Turn 2
Me: Swamp
Keith: Removes a counter from the Vivid for Green, plays Grizzled Leotau. I predict bashing next turn.
Jeff: Bounceland and discards something.
Dale: Rupture Spire

Turn 3
Me: I draw another Swamp and play it.
Keith: Fetid Heath, removes the last counter from the Vivid Meadow, drop Doran, and attacks Dale with Leotau (35).
Jeff: Forest, Golgari Guildmage
Dale: Land, go.

Turn 4
Me: I draw… another Swamp. Um… did I not shuffle well enough?
Keith: Slagwurm Armor, equips it to Doran, and bashes Jeff (29) and me with Leotau (35). Eleven Doran damage puts him halfway to dead.
Jeff: Rakka Mar. At least he has blockers now.
Dale: Mountain

Turn 5
Me: You won’t believe me when I tell you I draw another Swamp. I play the Shizo for the ability to use it on someone else’s General, just in case the only thing I can do is play kingmaker.
Keith: Forbidden Watchtower. Attacks me with Doran (24), Dale with Leotau (30), and casts Rappelling Scouts.
Jeff: Manamorphoses for 2 Red, and casts Soulbright Flamekin.
Dale: Fifth land, and Sliver Overlord. Even with his slow start, this is going to get dangerous. I suddenly wish I were playing White so I could have Aven Mindcensor. That’d fix his little red wagon.

Turn 6
Me: I finally peel an action card: Phthisis. I can’t ignore the Doran threat, although I’d love to get rid of the Overlord. Knowing Keith, he probably wouldn’t have killed me, but would have instead shared the love. I don’t want to take the chance, so I kill Doran (Keith to 29). We look at the list, and First Blood isn’t on it, so no point for Keith. Tell me what you would have done in this situation. Would you have taken the chance and killed Sliver Overlord, hoping Keith doesn’t go right for the points (again, he’s a “spread it around” kinda guy), or would you have been sure to keep yourself in the game? I guess I could have done some bargaining with him.
Keith: Says “Time to go on the defense.” Casts Dancing Scimitar. At EOT, Jeff makes a token.
Jeff: Nothing. He’s stuck on 3 land.
Dale: Tutors for Crystalline Sliver and casts it. Attacks Keith (22).

Turn 7
Me: Draw Steam Vents, which I drop untapped (22). I cast the Anathemancer in my hand just for the blocker. I deal 3 to Keith (19). I’m now completely in topdeck mode.
Keith: Nothing, and at EOT, Jeff makes a token.
Jeff: Nothing. I’m getting no help here (from the other two guys or my deck), and the Slivers are about to get stupid.
Dale: Drops Sinew and Gemhide Sliver. Doesn’t attack anyone.

Turn 8
Me: Draw another Swamp. Really?
Keith: Equips the Scimitar with Slagwurm Armor. EOT Jeff tokens up.
Jeff: Spidersilk Armor. EOT, Dale tutors for Quick Sliver and flashes it in.
Dale: Tutors for Harmonic Sliver, and casts it after dropping Boros Garrison. Announces he’ll roll a die to decide what to destroy, which I roundly boo—I think it’s a coward’s choice. Own your decisions! He rolls and waxes my Sol Ring.

Turn 9
Me: Draw another Swamp. At least this time, I get the point for Getting to Basics.
Keith: Nothing. EOT, another Jeff token.
Jeff: Nothing. Still stalled on 3 land. At EOT, searches for Clot Sliver and flashes it in. Destroys Slagwurm Armor.
Dale: Akroum Refuge (31). Searches up Brood Sliver. Gets the point for Tribal Dance. Brood Sliver destroys Spidersilk Armor. Thinks about attacking Jeff, but decides not to.

Turn 10
Me: Shadowmage Infiltrator is not the card I need, but it’s what I get.
Keith: Nothing. EOT Jeff gets a token, then Convokes and buys back Sprout Swarm.
Jeff: Has to discard, and it’s Violent Ultimatum. Dale searches up Fury Sliver, destroys the Scimitar.
Dale: Searches for Muscle Sliver and Winged Sliver, and casts them both. Drops a land for Getting to Basics. Attacks me (16) and Jeff (23).

Turn 11
Me: Attack Keith with Finkel (18) so I can draw a card. It’s Diabolic Tutor. The only answer I really have (having forgotten to put Damnation in the deck) is Kagemaro. From his body language, I’m 100% sure that Dale has a counterspell and is sure that his army is safe. I cast Kagemaro, and sure enough, he counters. I shrug in defeat until Jeff asks “Can I Wild Ricochet that?” Keith explains to him how it works, and we’re all happy. Well, except for Dale. Still, although I can kill most of his dudes, I can’t do anything about the Overlord.
Keith: Dromad Purebred. EOT, Jeff Sprout Swarms again, getting a point for Chumpzilla.
Jeff: Nothing. EOT, Dale searches up Hibernation Sliver.
Dale: Casts the Hibernation Sliver. Now comes my decision point. I have to decide if I’m going to Kagemaro (for -4) now, or wait until the Hibernation comes into play, hoping to bait him into paying too much life, and getting him low enough so that we can gang up and kill him. I feel like the only way out of this mess is the latter, so I let it come into play. He attacks Jeff, with Clot, Gemhide, Quick, Sinew, Harmonic, and Muscle, which will kill him. I activate Kagemaro. It isn’t until after Keith points it out that I realize I get the Let’s Do That Again point for saving Jeff. Dale bounces Fury, Crystalline, Gemhide, and Brood (23), letting the rest die, and then recasts all but Fury. He hasn’t bitten hard enough, I fear.

Turn 12
Me: I peel Beacon of Unrest, and get Rakka Mar out of Jeff’s yard. Drop another Swamp.
Keith: Gilt-Leaf Palace (tapped).
Jeff: Finally gets a fifth land, and casts Kresh.
Dale: Naya Panorama. Brood Sliver. Grim Discovery on Winged Sliver. Recasts it. Attacks Jeff for 12 (11), getting 4 tokens. EOT, I Whispers with Buyback, drawing Mindless Automaton. Perhaps I’m not unlucky, my deck just isn’t good.

Turn 13
Me: Draw another Swamp. Cast the Automaton.
Keith: Discards
Jeff: Elemental Resonance (which I have to read) on Kresh. EOT Dale searches up Heart Sliver. I think we are not long for this game.
Dale: Heart, Fury, and Essence Sliver, the latter off a search, using Gemhide to cast it. Splits up his attacks to kill us all. After First Strike damage resolves, Keith casts Retaliate, but he has nothing to help me or Jeff. The two of us die, and on Keith’s turn when he peels nothing, he extends the hand.

Dale wins the table easily, and strangely enough, I end up second with 2 points, to Jeff’s 1 and Keith’s 0. That means I’ll be headed to the top table with Dale and two folks from the other table.

Game 2

I seriously consider throwing the deck back in the box and playing something else. I then realize this is simply borne of frustration, and I should really stick with it, since that’s what I committed to myself to play this week (though League rules permit switching decks). I decide to stay the course.

Dale and I are seated with Zach, who piled up 10 points at the other table with Niv-Mizzet, and Patrick, with Stonebrow. I always appreciate some of Patrick’s choices and his attitude toward EDH, in both his deckbuilding and play. I know there will be something crazy coming from him, and it’s most always for the comedy factor. Dale wins the roll this time and plays first.

My opening hand is much, much better. It only has two land, but it also includes Explorer’s Map and Wayfarer’s Bauble. Seems like I can get there.

Turn 1
Dale: Jwar Isle Refuge (41)
Me: Swamp, Wayfarer’s Bauble, Suspend Lotus Bloom.
Zach: Riptide Laboratory.
Patrick: Sandstone Needle.

Turn 2
Dale: Mountain
Me: Island, Expedition Map. I start thinking of whether to crack the searchers early or wait for some Landfall stuff.
Zach: Izzet Boilerworks. Discards Mindwrack Liege
Patrick: Forest, Wilderness Elemental. My kind of card!

Turn 3
Dale: Forest
Me: Watery Grave untapped (38), Vexing Sphinx. Let’s take the beatdown plan. I like this guy even better since I have Skullclamp in hand.
Zach: Replays the Riptide Lab and casts one of the best Blue enchantments: Rhystic Study.
Patrick: Vivid Grove, attacks Zach (36).

Turn 4
Dale: Swamp, Khalni Gem. A bit of a gamble in this format, I think.
Me: I discard Nightscape Familiar to Sphinx. Lotus Bloom comes in. I cast Clamp (paying Rhystic) and attach it to the Sphinx. Attack Zach (31). I know that he’s going to draw enough cards to really get out of hand, and other than counterspells, isn’t going to be much help against the Slivers.
Zach: Island, Jace. All draw. Discard.
Patrick: Rofellos (paying Rhystic). Attacks Dale with Elemental (38).

Turn 5
Dale: Replays Jwar Isle (39) and casts Sinew Sliver.
Me: Don’t pay for the Sphinx. Draw many cards. Swamp, Sol Ring (pay), Darksteel Ingot (pay). My mana situation should be pretty good. I also get a point for Indiana Jones (Sol Ring, Ingot, Clamp, Bauble, Map).
Zach: Coldsteel Heart for Blue. All draw. Transmutes Tolaria West into Temple of the False God.
Patrick: Forest, taps Rofellos, and casts Deus of Calamity. Attacks me with Elemental (33).

Turn 6
Dale: Root Sliver, Gemhide Sliver. Here we go. I’m going to start playing Tsabo’s Web.
Me: Swamp, Clone Deus, and Clamp it.
Zach: Upkeep he Forecasts Skyscribing. Clones Deus. All draw from Jace.
Patrick: Mountain, sac Sandstone Needle, Dragon Broodmother. I think for a bit, realize that it’s one of the best cards in the format, so I Draining Whelk it with the Lotus mana. He then Suspends Hypergenesis. I knew he had something wild!

Turn 7
Dale: Hunter Sliver, Might Sliver.
Me: Cruel Edict, targeting Zach, since he has about 15 cards in hand and Reliquary Tower in play. He sacrifices Deus, I attack him (24) and destroy the Tower. I drop Kagemaro (not paying Rhystic, since I only have 1 Black left).
Zach: Minamo. Jace all draw. Oblivion Stone, which Dale Negates. Zach Rewinds the Negate. With Oblivion Stone active, I regret my earlier choices to not go after lands. If he blows it before my turn, I lose that investment.
Patrick: Greater Good, which is good on its own, insane with Hypergenesis. Fun combo. Gets even more interesting when he casts Multani.

Turn 8
Dale: Brood Sliver. Attacks Zach with the team. Zach casts Evacuation. Dale Cancels. Patrick says “Wait, I would have had priority first, and I would have sacrificed my Deus to Greater Good.” Huge props to Patrick for keeping in the spirit of fair play. When Dale jumped ahead, he certainly didn’t have to go back, but he definitely made the right ethical choice. Zach now doesn’t have O-stone mana. He takes 22, going to 7.
Me: Both my Whelk and Deus are 7 power, so I can get an extra point from attacking Zach with just one of them (Just Enough), but I attack him with both in case there’s a bounce spell in his arsenal (he can’t blow the Stone, but he has two mana open) or someone decides to help him. After eliminating him, I play Blood Crypt tapped and cast Whispersilk Cloak. I have some dreams of Thraximundar kills.
Patrick: Hypergenesis to 1 counter. Ant Queen off Rofellos.

Turn 9
Dale: Synapse Sliver. Attacks Patrick with 5 4/4 Sliver tokens, provoking Rofellos (???), Ant Queen, and Wilderness Elemental. Patrick spits out 6 tokens. Blocks one Sliver with Multani, 1 token with each of the insects. Loses all but one of them. Dale casts Battering Sliver. At EOT, I Disperse Greater Good, trying to Force Patrick’s hand as early as possible. He sacs Multani to draw 13. I also sacrifice the Bauble and the Map, realizing the mana is better than any Landfall shenanigans. I end up with a point for Getting to Basics.
Me: I know Hypergenesis is going off, and there’s little I can do about it, although I have a little something up my sleeve. I attack Patrick with the Deus and Whelk. He blocks Deus with Ant Queen (31). I clamp Kagemaro.
Patrick: Hypergenesis goes off. Here’s how it goes: Patrick, Darksteel Colossus. Dale, Mountain. Me, Duplicant (a trigger will wait). Patrick, Treetop Village. Dale, Mountain. Me, Phyrexian Arena. Patrick then has me and Dale pass and puts out Mountain, Copperhoof Vorrac, Greater Good, Thornling, Vicious Shadows (I groan, but it’s a fair card given the environment can get out of hand), Woodfall Primus (another trigger), Forest, Strip Mine, Beastmaster Ascension, Feldon’s Cane, Goblin War Drums, Mossbridge Troll (another awesome choice!), and Khalni Refuge (30). Woodfall Primus targets Skullclamp, Duplicant targets Colossus. He sacrifices Colossus to Greater Good. I have to be very careful here. Activating Kagemaro kills me, but probably not Dale, since he only has one card in hand.

Patrick then plays his land for the turn, Sensei’s Divining Top, and Garruk. He untaps two lands, gets seven mana from Rofellos, and casts Gate to AEther, then Worldly Tutor to put Kamahl, Fist of Krosa on top of his library. Finally, he cast Stonebrow. He confesses to have nothing in his deck that gives his own guys Haste. Perhaps I’ll bring him a Madrush Cyclops for next time.

When he ends his turn, it’s decision time for me. He’s drawn 12 cards this turn. I know he’ll probably draw lots more in an upcoming turn, but I have to try to entice Dale to attack him. I’m getting a really good sense of Dale, and he’s conservative with his attacks, and doesn’t like to do lots of math. At 30 life, I don’t think he’ll attack Patrick. At 16, I think he will, so I target Patrick with Cerebral Vortex now. I want to hold back and maybe get a huge, splashy kill, but I think this is the only choice I have. After Patrick is out, Vicious Shadows is gone, and I can rest more easily, hoping to win the table by killing Dale. My choice is further fostered by the Decree of Pain in my hand and Kagemaro in play. Dale’s army isn’t quite a threat, even with a counterspell for the Decree. I also have Read the Runes in hand, so I can make my grip big enough to take care of the Sliver threat. Unfortunately, cycling Decree doesn’t do much good, since all his guys, and more importantly, Patrick’s, are too big to kill. Patrick ends his turn, I see what fate has in store for me.

Turn 10
Dale: Casts Sliver Overlord, which I kind of overlooked, then searches up Winged Sliver and casts it. Attacks Patrick with Brood, Root, Hunter, Might, Gemhide, and Battering Slivers, which is 31 damage. Guess he may have attacked him after all. Patrick starts digging for answers, and announces he doesn’t actually think he has one. He ends up sacrificing Woodfall Primus, tapping the Vorrac to make the Troll immense, drawing the rest of his deck, sacrificing Feldon’s Cane in the middle somewhere, and taking Dale down to 32 with Vicious Shadows trigger. If I had held onto the Vortex, and Dale had attacked, I would have definitely gotten a kill (plus Overkill), but I’m still not certain he would have attacked Patrick. After we’re done, I ask, and Dale says he probably wouldn’t have attacked Patrick if he was at 30 life. At EOT, I Read the Runes for 6, sacrificing the Duplicant and Whispersilk Cloak, and discarding some lands and Agonizing Demise.
Me: Phyrexian Arena takes me to 32, and the card I peel is Reins of Power. There is suddenly a new plan. With the Brood Sliver trigger after killing Patrick, Dale has an immense army. I have enough mana to cast both Reins of Power and Decree of Pain and still activate Kagemaro if I have to. I look at Dale’s mana situation. He’s tapped for lands, but he has lots of untapped Slivers, plus the Gemhide. He’s also drawn several cards.

My plan boils down to this: I will cast Reins of Power to bait out any counterspell he has. If he doesn’t I just win, and win big (there’s definitely an Overkill, even with him getting my two guys). If he does, I cast Decree of Pain, draw piles of cards, and we start over with me in a great position. The wrinkle here is if he floats a Black mana in response to the exchange, he can Kagemaro for enough to keep himself alive, killing off a good portion of the army. I gamble that he doesn’t see the play.

He doesn’t. We count up the points, and it’s definitely Overkill. We also realize there are points in there for Flush for both of us (and looking back, for Patrick as well, after the Hypergenesis), and several other awards. The bad news for Dale is that I get all the ones he does from the Sliver army. The final tally is 14 for me, 9 for Dale, 4 for Patrick, and 0 for Zach.

I’m really happy I stayed with Thraximundar (although I realize that I didn’t play him all night), and for more than just the fact that I took the last table. I’m happy that I stuck with him even after I got frustrated.

All in all, a good EDH League night. Many thanks to the Armada Games crew.

I think I’ll have enough time to rebuild Lord of Tresserhorn this week and play it Thursday. I want to take advantage of some Worldwake cards, and take advantage of Tresserhorn’s ability. If you have some suggestions, feel free to ship them along, especially if there’s Chaos to be Embraced. Until then, live in the Red Zone and have a great time at your Worldwake Release party.