Embracing The Chaos – The Boneyard

SCG Open Richmond!

Tuesday, February 16th – I had so much fun last week playing the Lord of Tresserhorn/Zombie deck that I decided to play it again. My strategy with this deck is pretty basic. Get Zombies, swing with Zombies, do Zombie tricks if need be.

Oh, what a week it was for last-minute topdecks and the dead coming back to life!

I had so much fun last week playing the Lord of Tresserhorn/Zombie deck that I decided to play it again. I didn’t make any changes save for actually putting in the Death Baron that I had listed. I took out Shepherd of Rot because I found myself in several games just really low on life too early. There were also a few times that it looked dicey to play Graveborn Muse, or at least try to get rid of him so I didn’t just die.

My strategy with this deck is pretty basic. Get Zombies, swing with Zombies, do Zombie tricks if need be. I’d like to be in a position to resolve Lord of Tresserhorn at least once per game, just for style’s sake. I resolve to when in doubt be aggressive.


I’m seated with Patrick with Stonebrow, Jeff playing Kresh, and Ryan playing Child of Alara. Jeff wins the roll and we jump right in. Ryan and Patrick are two of my favorite young guys that play at the shop. They both work delivering pizzas at the little shop a few doors down, and they’re always fun to sling spells with. They’re both big fans of EDH, and definitely get the format.

We use the Gis Mulligan in EDH League, and I literally go 8 hands before I get 3 land.

Jeff: Forest
Patrick: Tree of Tales
Me: Swamp
Ryan: Seaside Citadel

Jeff: Rootbound Crag
Patrick: Great Furnace, Lightning Greaves
Me: Swamp, Withered Wretch
Ryan: Island

Jeff: Swamp
Patrick: Jund Panorama, get Forest
Me: Withered Wretch attacks Jeff (38), Tainted Peak, Undead Gladiator
Ryan: Vesuva copies Rootbound Crag, Feldon’s Cane. No point for Copycat on the list this week.

Jeff: Mountain, Nullmage Shepherd
Patrick: Mountain
Me: Reliquary Tower, so that when I play Grave Defiler, I don’t have to discard. Problem is, I completely whiff on the Defiler, getting Demonic Tutor, Treasure Hunt, Vicious Shadows, and Volrath’s Stronghold. The Gladiator attacks Ryan (37) and the Wretch Patrick (38)
Ryan: Wargate for 0 for Forbidden Orchard, and drops a Swamp

Jeff: Forest, Kresh.
Patrick: Forest, Copperhoof Vorrac, Equips it with Greaves, but keeps it home.
Me: Maze of Ith, Vengeful Dead
Ryan: Child of Alara

Jeff: Carrion Thrash. Attacks me with Shepherd. I Maze it (since I won’t be able to Maze Patrick’s Copperhoof). He says “Oh, yeah.”
Patrick: Vivid Grove, Thornling
Me: Badlands. Icky white border. I feel like I’m running out of gas already
Ryan: Knight of New Alara. Child is big!

Jeff: Mind’s Eye (certainly a vote for MVP in this format)
Patrick: Nothing. At EOT, I empty the graveyards with Wretch.
Me: Unholy Grotto
Ryan: Attacks Jeff with Child, who blocks with the Nullmage to soak up some of the damage (31). Casts Wrath of God. Patrick responds by making Thornling Indestructible, which Ryan Trickbinds. We realize Patrick has two guys whose powers equal 21, so he gets a point for Blackjack. I drain everyone for 4 with Vengeful Dead. Jeff to 27, Patrick to 34, Ryan to 33, and Jeff, Patrick, and I get a point for First Blood.

Jeff: Pays 7 to cast Kresh
Patrick: Lurking Predators. EOT, put Grave Defiler back on top. Patrick says “If you whiff again, I’m going to laugh.” I say “Fair.”
Me: Grave Defiler. Lurking Predators reveals Sarkhan Vol, which goes to the bottom. I get Reaper, Muse, and two lands.
Ryan: Land, go.

Jeff: Spidersilk Armor. Patrick whiffs on Predators. He casts Aspect of the Mongoose on Kresh. That means many of my tricks aren’t going to work. Patrick reveals Reliquary Tower and decides to leave it on top.
Patrick: Reliquary Tower, Spearbreaker. You know where this is headed.
Me: Tainted Isle, Graveborn Muse. Lurking Predators gets Darksteel Colossus. Holy crap.
Ryan: Land, go.

Jeff: Wickerbough Elder, Predators gets Kavu Predator (how appropriate), and Jeff removes the counter to destroy LPreds.
Patrick: Hickory Woodlot, Stonebrow. Attacks Jeff with 13/13 Colossus (14)
Me: Muse to 38, Creeping Tar Pit. Suspend Ancestral Vision, cast Abyssal Gatekeeper.
Ryan: Catacombs, Progenitus. I think the ante just got upped.

Jeff: Kavu Predator, netting him a point for Better Late Than Never. Soul Reap on Gatekeeper, getting a him a point for I’m Cool Too. I sacrifice Defiler, Patrick the Predator, and Jeff the Spirit token that Ryan had earlier given him with Forbidden Orchard. Kresh is +16/+16, and Jeff gets a point for Blackjack.
Patrick: Gruul War Plow. Fortunately, there’s no such thing as Double Trample. EOT I put back the Defiler.
Me: Muse to 37. The Defiler is saucy this time, getting me Deathbringer Thoctar, Gravedigger, and Death Baron. I cast the Gravedigger, getting back something I forget.
Ryan: Maelstrom Nexus, giving me a token. Liliana Vess and Tutors with it. Patrick says I know what he got! I have no clue.

Jeff: Fault Grinder, destroying Hickory Woodlot. When everyone asks why he didn’t blow up Maze of Ith, he said “Kresh is untargetable.” Guess he really wasn’t looking downstream. Patrick taps the Woodlot to Worldly Tutor for Acidic Slime. I think he’s going to blow up my Maze, which seems reasonable.
Patrick: Acidic Slime, targeting Aspect of the Mongoose. I breathe a double sigh – my Maze lives, and now Kresh is targetable. Patrick attacks me with Spearbreaker. I suspect some kind of tricks (Savage Beating? Although he doesn’t have the mana for it…), but I Maze anyway. He shrugs.
Me: Muse to 34. The door is wide open. Everyone is tapped out, most importantly Ryan, who is the only one with Blue. I hard-cast Phthisis, targeting the 19/19 Kresh. That’s 38 life, thank you very much. I get the kill on Jeff, plus a point for Big Game Hunt. I attack Liliana to kill it.
Ryan: Rite of Replication Kicked, targeting Colossus. Cascades into Putrefy, blowing up the War Plow. Five Colossi seems good.

Patrick: Morph. What the hell could he have? Root Elemental? Red Akroma?
Me: Graveborn Muse takes me to 31 and draws the only way out of this situation: Living Death. I attack Ryan with the team. He blocks Graveborn Muse and Death Baron, letting the Defiler through. I think about it a minute, and then decide I really want the Defiler back, so I cast Lord of Tresserhorn (29), having Patrick draw the two cards. I think for another minute about putting LoT in the yard when I sacrifice it to its own ability, but decide that’s a silly play. I Living Death, and Defiler nets me three more dudes.
Ryan: From an empty hand before his draw, Diabolic Tutor Cascades into Demonic Tutor. That seems just dumb. Patrick announces that he knows the two cards (these guys play together a great deal, so they know each other’s decks). Prismatic Omen comes first, then Last Stand. I lose 22 (7), he kills Kavu Predator, puts 11 tokens into play, gains 22 (thankfully the Predator isn’t around to trigger), and basically mills 11, since his hand is empty.

Patrick: Multani. I have six Zombies in play, and my good friend Patrick attacks me with Thornling, so that I can block with Graveborn Muse. I know this is because he fears Ryan more than me at the moment. Additionally, since my hand is about 14 cards big and Ryan’s is 0, he’d like to keep Multani beefy.
Me: Ancestral Vision goes off. I attack Patrick with the team except for Gatekeeper and the token. He blocks Death Baron with Multani (20). I remove Acidic Slime with Wretch and cast Damnation. Four Zombies go to the yard, so Ryan goes to 48 and Patrick to 16. I’m trying to get Patrick low enough so that I can Grab the Reins on Child of Alara, but then I realize Knight only pumps him when Ryan controls him, so I’m just out of luck. I cast Cemetery Reaper.
Ryan: Pays 7 for Child, Cascades into Font of Mythos.

Patrick: Trolls of Tel-Jilad
Me: Bloodstained Mire, Solemn Simulacrum
Ryan: Clones, Cascading into Path of Exile, which targets Reaper King. Copies Jens. EOT, I remove Multani with Wretch.

Patrick: Paleoloth. EOT, I Swampcycle twice.
Me: Anathemancer Patrick (12). Basilisk Collar, equip Jens. Attack with both. He blocks to kill both my guys, and I draw.
Ryan: Time is called on his turn, which means we’ll all get one turn after his. Armada owner Aaron Fortino makes a point of telling us that Ryan is a donkey when Oracle of Nectars Cascades into Trickbind. He then casts Might of Nephilim and Twincasts it. That’s +20/+20. I wait until he attacks Patrick, then Grab the Reins with Entwine, flinging it at Patrick’s head for the kill. I get points for Underdog and I Got This.

Me: I cast Mindlock Orb to keep him from doing anything crazy. I assume that he’s through his Tutors and it won’t keep him from Cascading into something nasty, but it’s what I have. Seems like a relatively safe bet.
Ryan: Vensers the Mindlock Orb, hoping to Cascade into something worthwhile. Gets Capsize, which targets Maze of Ith, but he figures out he can’t kill me, so we finish up.

I win the table, and I’m kind of surprised. Living Death is the ONLY thing that gets me out of the five Colossi situation, and it came at the right time. Obviously, the Muse was the biggest factor. Drawing cards is full of win.


I sit with Gabe who won his table with Uril, Christian who won his table and is switching decks to Sek’kuar, and Zach, who finished with a big 16 points at the same table as Gabe (I think there were plenty of tokens over there, among other things). Gabe’s deck is all about getting Uril into play, making it huge, and killing with it. It’s a reasonable strategy, but I find it a little narrow. It definitely brings the focus of the game to a fine point—deal with Uril or die.

Christian: Forest
Gabe: Vivid Grove
Zach: Minamo
Me: I’m still shuffling when it gets around to me. I announce that I’ll be playing some variation on a Swamp, so Christian should just go ahead. He does, and I get a Swamp.

Christian: Panorama, Signet
Gabe: Plains, Sakura-Tribe Elder, sacrifices it.
Zach: Mountain
Me: Dragonskull Summit.

Christian: Rakdos Carnarium
Gabe: Spectral Searchlight, Rupture Spire.
Zach: Shivan Reef, Suspend Deep-Sea Kraken. Really like that guy.
Me: Swamp, Cemetery Reaper

Christian: Carnage Altar, Fecundity
Gabe: Journey of Discovery Entwined. Puts two land into play.
Zach: Izzet Boilerworks, Morph. I think it’s Willbender. I will be wrong.
Me: Polluted Delta, Nevinyrral’s Disk. I think that having a Disk untapped will be a nice rattlesnake for a while.

Christian: Sek’kuar. I ask why I’m not playing that guy in my Kresh deck.
Gabe: Refuge (41), Uril, Rancor. It’s all about Uril now.
Zach: Kraken comes in, attacks me with it and Morph guy (31).
Me: I need land, but decide to hang onto the Bojuka Bog.

Christian: Elemental Mastery on Sek’kuar.
Gabe: Soul’s Majesty. It’s already time to Disk. When I do, Zach responds with Evacuation. Frown.
Zach: Niv-Mizzet.
Me: Face down Skinthinner.

Christian: Infernal Genesis. This is a card I can get behind. Rakdos Riteknife.
Gabe: Mills Oracle of Mul Daya, getting 4 guys. I know that they’re Minions and not Zombies, but I can wish. Recasts Uril and Rancors it.
Zach: Mills Lorthos (for 8). Pings Christian with his draw (39). Takes a pain to play Arcanis.
Me: Mill land for frowns, more for the fact that I need the mana and less that I don’t get tokens. I now drop the Bog and remove Zach’s two-card yard.

Christian: Mills Hull Breach. Casts Nether Traitor. Skullmulcher Devours two tokens and Trader. Equips it with Riteknife.
Gabe: Mills Sensei’s Divining Top. Casts Shield of the Oversoul, making Uril rather problematic, and then Pollenbright Wings. Attacks Christian for 15, getting many tokens and a point for Chumpzilla. At EOT, I unMorph Skinthinner and kill Arcanis, giving Zach a point for First Blood. I just can’t let Zach have Niv-Mizzet, Arcanis, and Minamo all in play.
Zach: Mills Coldsteel Heart. Pings me with his draw (30). Telemin Performance on me. Goes through 6 cards and gets Coffin Queen. Attacks me for 8; block 1 and go to 23.
Me: I mill Runeflare Trap. I cast Phyrexian Arena and Cemetery Reaper.

Christian: Mills Fallen Angel. Dread Returns it back into play. Casts Lyzolda, the Blood Witch.
Gabe: Mills land. Attacks Christian, who sacrifices all his guys to Fallen Angel, so that he only takes 5 General damage (putting him at 20 from Uril). He’s at 19. EOT, Zach pings a token with Niv-Mizzet’s draw, getting a point for I’m Cool Too. He untaps with Minamo and pings another token.
Zach: Mills Knowledge Exploitation. His draw pings me (22). Casts a Morph, that we know is Vesuvan Shapeshifter. Attacks me with 9 guys. I block six, killing Coffin Queen in the process. Taps Niv-Mizzet to draw, killing the Reaper.
Me: Mill Damnation (doh!), and Arena takes me to 18. One of the cards I draw is Noxious Ghoul, which wipes out all the tokens.

Christian: Mills Doubling Season. Casts Deranged Hermit.
Gabe: Mills Reliquary Tower. Plays Terramorphic Expanse. Attacks Christian, who sacrifices 10 guys to Last-Ditch Effort and deals 10 to himself, getting a point for Attention! He then dies to General damage.
Zach: Oblivion Stone. It’s an answer, for sure.
Me: Arena to 16. One of the cards I draw is Vicious Shadows. I make a deal with Zach to maybe kill Gabe. Vicious Shadows can resolve and then Zach blow the Stone. The fifteen tokens he has will kill him. I cast the VShad and then wait to see what happens.

Gabe: Gabe casts Armillary Sphere and swings at me with everyone. At first it was going to be just Uril, but he reconsiders and sends everyone. Zach pings a token (Vicious Shadows taking Gabe to 35), then Blows the O-Stone. In response, Gabe Disenchants Vicious Shadows. That’s not the desired outcome, but at least his board is clear. I still take five damage, since Uril was Indestructible. Gabe re-Rancors Uril
Zach: Recasts Niv-Mizzet.
Me: I die next turn, I’m pretty sure. I peel Living Death. My graveyard is nothing to scream about, but it’s Noxious Ghoul, Cemetery Reaper, Skinthinner, and Coffin Queen. I’m safe for a turn.

Gabe: Seventh basic land, for the point. Casts Garruk, Uril, and Rancor, and makes a Beast.
Zach: Niv-Mizzet
Me: Corpse Harvester, getting the points for Flush

Gabe: Retethers, getting back Shield of the Oversoul and Pollebright Wings. Attacks me. I Coffin Queen out Zach’s Vesuvan Shapeshifter, copying Uril. When Gabe tries to recast it, Zach Hydroblasts it.
Zach: Draw, ping Gabe (34). Bribery on me, getting Gravedigger, which brings back his Shapeshifter.
Me: Vivid Crag, Vengeful Dead. If there’s a way home, it’s with the Vengeful Dead.

Gabe: Recasts Uril and Rancor again. Makes a Garruk Beast. At EOT, Z pings me and Gabe once each, redirecting Gabe’s to Garruk.
Zach: Draw kills Garruk, and drops Mana Flare. I scratch my head, but I guess it’s pretty good for him, since he has a handful of stuff, probably with counterspells and big game-changers. At EOT, I sacrifice the Skinthinner (Gabe to 33, Zach to 37) to Corpse Harvester to get a Swamp and Lich Lord of Unx, and get Arcanis out of Zach’s yard.
Me: Draw with Arcanis. Undead Warchief is my bait here. If it resolves, I might be in good enough shape to deal serious damage, but it’s my second best choice. When I cast it, Zach Dismisses, pinging Gabe. I cast the one I want, Tombstone Stairwell. I also cast Death Baron to make them nastier, and Deathtouch is a good bonus. Zach unmorphs his Shapeshifter, copying Arcanis, bringing it back to his yard. I cast Demonic Tutor, and realize that I’ve tapped my mana wrong—I needed to keep up some Red to cast Goblin Bombardment and make an end to this thing. I’m now simply stuck with Black.

Gabe: On his upkeep, six Zombies come into play, two for Gabe, three for me, and one for Zach. With the Noxious Ghoul triggers on the stack, Zach pings me twice with the Niv-Minamo combo (10), before all the non-Zombies except Uril die. Casts Red Scarab. Attacks me, and I block with 2 4/4 Zombies, killing Uril. When the two Zombies die, Zach goes to 35, Gabe to 31. Gabe recasts Uril again and Rancors it. At EOT, all the tokens are destroyed, draining Zach to 29 and Gabe to 25.
Zach: Upkeep, same six Zombies. Plays Niv-Mizzet. EOT, drain them both for 6, Zach to 23, Gabe to 19. I wonder what Zach has up his sleeve, because I can see that he’s fidgety. I especially wonder since he can probably play Stroke or something for enough to kill me.
Me: Now it comes. I go to upkeep my Stairwell, and Zach reminds me of the Ancestral Visions, which I had actually forgotten about, that’s losing its last counter. This is a good mind trick, since had I stacked them the other way (Vision then Stairwell), things are way better for me, since I would resolve Zombies first. I see why when Zach reveals his very clever plan. At this point, I’ll confess to making a complete mess of this situation and wasting everyone’s time by misunderstanding the board state. But that doesn’t happen yet.

Ancestral Vision goes off. Zach Flashes in Teferi. After that resolves, he casts Wild Ricochet, targeting my Ancestral Vision, and then Twinscasts it. It now becomes clear why stacking things correctly would have been better—the Zombies would have all come in and killed Niv-Mizzet before Zach could do all this. As it stands, I’m going to die before the Stairwell comes in.

But not so fast. Zach’s Mana Flare has given me some hope. I look up at his life total; he’s keeping it with 6-sided dice, and I see some fives and a three—28. I know that I can do 24 pretty easily: create a Zombie with Cemetery Reaper, let it resolve giving me eight Zombies, and activate Lich Lord three times. That’s not enough, so I start trying to figure out what else I can do. I have 18 mana: 6 blue, 10 black, and 2 colorless. I can’t activate Lich Lord four times, and having nine Zombies doesn’t do me any good if I can only activate three. That means I somehow need ten Zombies, or nine and enough mana to activate Corpse Harvester, so that Vengeful Dead deals the 28th. I can spend 3 on Coffin Queen to bring out his Shapeshifter, copying Vengeful Dead for the ninth Zombie, but that’s still only 27. I curse at myself for the Goblin Bombardment misplay.

I can sense everyone is getting antsy because I’m taking a lot of time trying to figure out this mess, especially since we’ve drawn a bit of a crowd. I keep looking and looking and looking, and there’s nothing. At some point, Zach finally says with quite a bit of frustration “Why haven’t you killed me yet?” and I say “I don’t think I can do 28!” He replies “But I’m only at 23!” I look at his dice again, an action I’ve repeated multiple times throughout this process, and there it is as clear as day: four fives and a three. Of course, I could have also checked my own notes. One of the problems with taking notes so that I can write this play-by-play is that I’m actually taking in and recording so much data so quickly, that I overlook some of the things I had written down. I facepalm and apologize for wasting everyone’s time. I even promise to give Zach my winnings for the night, since it seems like he earned them more than I did, what with the Jedi Mind Tricks and his patience through this turn. I kill Zach, let Tombstone Stairwell go, and keep everyone home in case Gabe has some tricks. I think I could have paid the upkeep, but I had bumbled the situation so badly that it seemed only fair to give Gabe a shot too.

Gabe: Bashes with Uril. I block with 2 guys, and they die, putting him at 17. He has nothing else.
Me: I swing with the team for the kill.

I win the table with 8, Gabe with 6, Zach with 3, and Christian with 1.

I feel even worse for the delay when I see that we’re the last event in the shop, and they’re closing up. We chat about other stuff for a few minutes, then I suggest to the gang that we take off so Aaron and Michael can close up.

I’m off of Armada’s EDH League for a week while I’m at Pro Tour: San Diego. I’m sure the Chaos will be Embraced there quite often, so hopefully I’ll have full and colorful reports. See you from the Pro Tour!