After a week off EDH League to attend Pro Tour: San Diego, I was back at the Armada Games Thursday EDH League. I was hoping to devour quite a few brains, but as you’ll see, things didn’t quite work out the way I had hoped.
I hear from the gang that for the week I was away, the awards list for the League was the worst ever, with most of the popular awards (First Blood, I’m Cool Too, Hey That’s Mine, and That Was Rude) were all (randomly) off the list, and scores were a bit lower for most folks. In response, Armada owner and League-runner Aaron Fortino decided to keep everything on the list this week. The whole list of awards is on Armada’s site. Scores were appropriately higher.
I show up early and squeeze in a few casual games. We scoop up the last one in which I’m playing my Darigaaz (which has basically become a Beast plus Landfall deck) when I have a few dozen Beasts off Rampaging Baloths and Goblin Bombardment in play. And Greater Good. And Living Death in hand.
On a side note, I’ll give some props to Terrence Ihm, one of our local players, who won our FNM last week with Eldrazi Elvesâ€”by beating three Jund decks in the Top 8 (to include me in the finals). That Joraga Warcaller is some good. Especially in multiples.
I’m seated with three Armada Games EDH League regulars: Ryan, Patrick, and Jeff. Ryan has most often played Child of Alara, but this week he’s piloting his Baru, Fist of Krosa deck. He tells me that despite the weak awards list, he still managed to generate 19 points last week. Patrick has his normal Stonebrow deck (for which I dug up a Chronicles version of Concordant Crossroads to give to him so that he could attack after he resolves a Hypergenesis), and Jeff has decided to play his Kresh deck since he’s found out that I’m not playing mine.
Patrick: Wilderness Elemental, which everyone knows is one of my favorite cards in the format.
Ryan: Forest, Omnath (!) Ryan had just acquired Omnath before we started the game, and this is the first time I’ve seen it in play. Let’s see how crazy it gets.
Me: Underground River. Unlike a few weeks back, when all I could draw were Swamps, I’m okay on color at this point.
Patrick: Kazandu Refuge (41), Goblin War Drums. Patrick announces it’s part of his two card combo to make all his guys unblockable, the other card being Familiar Ground. Attacks Jeff (36).
Jeff: Rootbound Crag.
Me: Swamp, Ashen Ghoul.
Patrick: Forest, Stonebrow, attacks me (33)
Jeff: Forest, Copperhoof Vorrac, a card which is seeing a great deal of play in the League these days. The first time I ever saw the Vorrac played was by a relatively new but very clever player named Molly Poole, back in my home group in Virginia. Molly had just started playing, and like most new players, liked the Red/Green. Unlike most new players, however, Molly quickly realized that there are actually other players in the game as well, and that it’s sometimes good to work off of what cards they’re playing. The first week after she played with us, she watched Justin Norris put bunches and bunches of land into play and me wreck everyone with some kind of graveyard recursion. The following week, she showed up packing the Vorrac and a fair amount of graveyard hate. Seems like a lesson (responding to your environment) that most new players could learn a little better.
Ryan: Chord of Calling for Seedborn Muse. Uh oh. I start to get that feeling already. Patrick doesn’t have much creature removal, since he’s about getting armies of big bashy guys. Jeff, while playing black for Kresh, is more about getting Kresh equipped with Whispersilk Cloak and bashing, so it looks like I’m on the spot to get rid of this little combo that could get out of hand rather quickly. It’s not going to take too many turns to be insane. My hand is currently devoid of removal or tutors, so this could get painful.
Me: Crumbling Sanctuary, Grave Defiler, which nets me only a single card: Graveborn Muse. Unfortunately, it costs me three cards that could do something about Seedborn and Omnath: Basilisk Collar, Havoc Demon, and worst of all, Damnation.
Patrick: Gruul Turf, bouncing the Refuge.
Jeff: Cauldron of Souls
Ryan: Makes the mana right so that he can get a point for Blackjack, then casts Mana Reflection, Multani, Sporesower Thallid, Baru, and Grazing Gladehart. He gets points for Flush and Straight. He knows he’s all in by emptying his hand, but he’s challenging us to do something about his army before he can kill us. Every Forest he topdecks from here on out means Omnath is tramply. Ugh.
Me: Steam Vents in play tapped, and Graveborn Muse. Hopefully I can dig up some cards, and do it quickly.
Patrick: Refuge (42), Copperhoof Vorrac of his own. Gets Better Late Than Never.
Jeff: Elemental Resonance.
Ryan: Turntimber Ranger, makes 2nd Saproling. Attacks Patrick with 47/47 Omnath. Patrick throws the Wilderness Elemental under the bus.
Me: Muse (31), Jens. No help, but we’re thinning the deck.
Patrick: Acidic Slime, targeting one of Patrick’s Forests.
Jeff: Having dropped a land every turn plus the Elemental Resonance, Jeff has the mana for Insurrection. It gets big laughs from the table. Ryan is a little upset when Jeff kills him, but I certainly understand fearing his board. He also attacks Patrick for 16 (26). He casts Rite of Consumption on Stonebrow, sending Patrick to 20.
Me: Muse (29). Oversold Cemetery and a face-down Skinthinner
Patrick: Recasts Stonebrow, attacks Jeff with the Vorrac. I don’t tap any of my stuff, so Jeff goes to 27.
Jeff: Kresh and Din of the Fireherd, targeting Patrick. When Patrick sacrifices the two creatures, he gets a point for First Blood. He tells me he’s going to sacrifice the Vorrac and Acidic Slime, so I tap everything I can. Kresh gets +11/+11. At EOT, I unmorph Skinthinner, targeting Jeff’s Vorrac. He responds by activating the Urn. What I’m really hoping for here is to peel Phthisis (or other removal, which makes Kresh’s power irrelevant). He’s now +20/+20. Time is of the essence.
Me: Muse (28), and draw Maze of Ith . I cast Lord of Tresserhorn (26) and keep mana up for regenerating him and the Defiler. I have Patrick draw the cards to look for some answers to Kresh.
Jeff wins the table with 13, Ryan, despite his early exit, is second with 9 (and will be going to table 1), and Patrick and I have 3.
As Michael Fortino, one of Armada’s owners who is running tonight’s event, comes into the room, I call “shotgun” so I don’t have to move tables, and since no one responds with “supershotgun,” I get to stay. Either no one else knew about supershotgun or they were just being nice to the old guy.
Joining me are Tom (Thraximundar), Gabe (Sygg, River Guide), and Patrick. Since I’ve shotgunned, Patrick doesn’t have to move his stuff either.
Patrick: Vivid Grove.
Gabe: Steel of the Godhead on Sygg (seems like a good cardâ€”but I can’t wait until he tries to give Sygg Pro Blue!), attacking Tom (36), sending himself to 44. At EOT, Tom casts Telling Time.
Tom: Mountain, Shadowmage Infiltrator.
Me: Volcanic Island, Death Baron.
Patrick: Forest, Wilderness Elemental. Equips it but stays home.
Gabe: Rhystic Study, Celestial Colonnade. Attacks Tom again (32); Gabe to 48.
Tom: Attacks Gabe with Shadowmage (47). Clones Sygg.
Me: Crumbling Necropolis, Undead Gladiator. Love that guy.
Patrick: Hibernation’s End. Speaking of cards I love!
Gabe: Magus of the Future.
Tom: Land, Coldsteel Heart for Blue. Gabe starts asking about Rhystic Study, but in kind of a weird way. Instead of “Did you pay the one extra,” he keeps asking “How much did you pay for that?” Doing extra math ftl.
Me: Shivan Reef, Lightning Reaver. Attack Gabe (43). At EOT, it triggers. Gabe 42, Patrick 39, Tom 31. I decide I don’t like Lightning Reaver that much. It seems like a card that will get you targeted in greater proportion to the value it gives you. I resolve to take it out before I play the Zombies next time.
Patrick: Pays 1, confesses that he doesn’t have any one drops in his deck, and passes the turn.
Gabe: Recasts Sygg.
Tom: Roil Elemental, plays a land, gets Magus. When the ability has resolved, Gabe Paths the Roil Elemental.
Me: Lichlord of Unx. Attack Gabe with Reaver (38), then at EOT, Gabe 36, Patrick 37, Tom 29. Maybe if I had the Collar on him, it’d be OK.
Patrick: Pays 2, getting Rofellos.
Gabe: Day of Judgment. We all get First Blood. Plays a Roil Elemental of his own.
Tom: Signet, Thraximundar. Attack Gabe (29), who has to sacrifice the Elemental. Gets I’m Cool Too.
Me: Gravedigger, get back the Gladiator.
Patrick: Pays 3, doesn’t get anyone. Seems like his investment portfolio needs a little rebalancing.
Gabe: Prahv, Spires of Order.
Tom: Announces “This used to be the General,” and casts Garza Zol. Attacks Patrick with it (32) and me with Thraximundar (32). EOT, I cycle the Gladiator.
Me: Pitch Ashen Ghoul for Undead Gladiator. Sword of Fire and Ice. I would have preferred an action card.
Patrick: Pays four and gets Keeper of Progenitus. Looks like he’ll be able to upkeep the Hibernation’s End for a while now. Sandstone Needle, and equips the Keeper.
Gabe: Sakashima, copying Thraximundar. Attacks Tom (22).
Tom: Attacks Gabe, who casts Capsize, no Buyback. Casts Rise from the Grave, getting Clone, killing Sakashima. Casts Meloku, the Clouded Mirror.
Me: Grave Pact and Goblin Bombardment.
Patrick: Pays 5, gets Acidic Slime, destroying Grave Pact. Fair. Garruk, untaps 2 lands.
Gabe: Silvergill Adept, revealing Cosi’s Trickster. Casts the Trickster and suspends Ancestral Visions. At EOT, Tom bounces 3 lands and makes 3 tokens.
Tom: Attacks Gabe (25). Vendilion Clique, which Gabe counters with Swift Silence. Recasts Thraximundar.
Me: Volrath’s Stronghold, and I’m seemingly out of gas.
Patrick: Pays 6 and gets Paleoloth. Casts Ant Queen, brings back Rofellos.
Gabe: Kabira Crossroads (27), Memnarch. All his has left to play is Mindslaver to ensure everyone will hate him.
Tom: Wrecking Ball on Memnarch. Nice card choice. Shriekmaw, targeting Paleoloth. Attacks Gabe with Meloku and two tokens (23).
Me: Upkeep, I pitch a Swamp to get back the Gladiator. I cast Abyssal Gatekeeper and equip it.
Patrick: Pays 7, gets Spearbreaker Behemoth. Casts Dragon Broodmother. Devour, Gatekeeper, and Thraximundar seem like danger.
Gabe: Patrick gets a Dragon. Lord of Atlantis, and Kira, Great Glass Spinner. EOT, Tom makes a token.
Tom: Patrick gets a Dragon. Tom attacks me with Thraximundar. I cycle the Gladiator, get no answers, and sacrifice the Gatekeeper to throw at Tom’s face. Everyone sacrifices a guy and I take 10 (23). Casts Keiga.
Me: Patrick gets a Dragon. Pitch Vengeful Dead for the Undead Gladiator (I figure that my only answers here are either killing everything or having a saucy graveyard to bring back with Patriarch’s Bidding or Living Death). Polluted Delta, crack it (21). At EOT, Gabe casts Return to Dust on Hibernation’s End. Seems like a decent move, since Woodfall Primus was probably next out.
Patrick: Gets a Dragon. Mossbridge Troll. Gabe Dismantling Blows the Greaves. Patrick recasts Rofellos (getting himself a Flush in the process).
Gabe: During upkeep, Patrick Devours a guy with his Dragon to get a Straight. EOT, Tom makes 4 Meloku tokens.
Tom: Kills me with Thraximundar. I start packing up my stuff, but decide to stay and take notes on the rest of the game, when Patrick Overruns and kills both Gabe and Tom, with Gabe helping him a little with the math just to make sure.
Patrick wins the table, with Tom in second.
The thing I found out about the Zombies is that without more consistent card draw, especially the Defiler and Graveborn Muse, it can run out of steam pretty quickly. Very few brains got devoured this week. It’s still quite a fun deck, but I’m likely going to take out the Lightning Reaver and one or two more things to up the amount of card draw/Tutoring. It’s nice to be able to go get answers when stuff gets out of hand.
I had so much fun with Darigaaz in the casual game, that’s probably how I’ll be Embracing the Chaos next week. Who doesn’t love Beasts?