Eric Taylor – better known in the annals of internet strategy writing as the famed EDT, strategy writer – was wearing a pink-and-purple floral Hawaiian T-shirt. He looked downright festive next to YMG’s somber black-and-red”dead poet” garb… But his eyes were tired and he shuffled lackadaisically.
Baby Huey looked over at EDT, energy sparking from his eyes. After all, he and EDT both sat on the same side of the Feature Match table, facing off against Kastle and Dougherty.”Come on, EDT, we gotta take these Your Movers down!“
EDT smiled wearily.”I intend to,” he replied quietly.
Both EDT and Darwin have been rattling around the Pro Tour circuit since the beginning; EDT is famous for his strategy articles, which formed the basis of almost all serious tourney play – whereas Darwin’s been a staple of classic Team Your Move Games since the beginning. And they both had been teetering on the edge of failure for a long time; EDT was well-known as a strategy writer, but hadn’t had a major win until last year’s grand Prix: Milwaukee, whereas Darwin – who had gotten numerous Top 8s in Pro Tours early on, but hadn’t been able to muster significant finishes when he quit his job to go pro – Top 4’d at Pro Tour: Houston and returned to the top tables of Magic in triumph.
Darwin was playing The Rock, which he had altered significantly since his excellent finish in Houston; the Spiritmongers had vanished, since they were only good in the mirror match (and not even particularly stellar then), and the Living Wishes had gone bye-bye. Instead, a new arsenal of Ravenous Baloths and Spike Feeders had come in to combat the new wave of aggro decks, and a maindecked Haunting Echoes and Genesis had made the mirror a walk in the park.
EDT was playing one of his traditionally-erratic choices – this one a G/B cross between Oath and The Rock that packed The Rock’s trademark Pernicious Deeds, Ravenous Baloths, and Treetop Villages, but also used Oath of Druids and Krosan Tuskers to create some strange situations. It was designed by Brian Kibler, and both Kibler and Ben Rubin are also piloting it.
Kastle won the roll, using green alien space dice with little flying saucers for pips. He had a three-land hand with Pernicious Deed, Vampiric Tutor, Diabolic Edict, Wall of Blossoms; not surprisingly, he kept. Eric looked at his hand and shook his head, then mulliganed.
Eric started with a tapped Treetop Village, a potential signal of mana problems to come. Darwin laid his second land and Walled, when Eric laid a second Treetop; evidently, his hand had been a little mana-light, but it was better than going down to five. Darwin laid his Deed, threatening to do away with any pesky Villages, but Eric had the counter – a Deed of his own.
At the end of Eric fourth turn, Darwin drawn another Tutor – and used his first, going and fetching a Yavimaya Elder to try and force the issue. Eric took the bait and Deeded for three, scouring the board of threats except for his two Villages, then used his next turn to lay a Dust Bowl and summoning a Ravenous Baloth. The threats were mounting; did Darwin have answers?
The third Deed his the table – this game was awash in foul deeds – and Darwin promptly popped it for four, wiping the board clear except for the Genesis.
Proving that the law of multiples can sometimes come true, EDT summoned another Baloth to throw in the way of the Genesis. Darwin Duressed, and stared in awe at a hand of pure gold: Living Death, Visara the Dreadful, Pernicious Deed, and Krosan Reclamation. It was a good thing that Eric only had five lands, and Darwin opted to send the Reclamation tumbling to the yard. Living Deaths would be really unfair otherwise.
He left the Deed unpopped, sending off another warning signal, Alongi-style. EDT cycled Krosan Tusker, stocking his graveyard for a rather large Living Death… As soon as he could get rid of that pesky Deed. He had to force Darwin’s hand – and for the second time this game, he laid a Deed of his own. Obediently, Darwin popped his own at the end of Eric turn before EDT untapped.
Fortunately, Darwin had a silver bullet he could fetch with that Vampiric Tutor: Haunting Echoes. To absolutely no one’s surprise, he cast it, prompting a disheartened”Nice” from EDT. It was a major one, completely stripping EDT’s unconventional deck of all Baloths, Tuskers, Oaths, Krosan Reclamations, and Pernicious Deeds. EDT’s threats were sliced down to a manageable set of Treetop Villages, a Dust Bowl, and three cards in hand, facing down Darwin’s Genesis.
Undaunted, EDT cast Scroll Rack and attacked with a sole Village.
Darwin let loose with a Cabal Therapy, hmming and hawing as he decided what to name; EDT looked at the dire bullet of the Therapy zooming towards him – and in slow motion, he Scroll Racked for three in response, hoping to hide his good cards away from Darwin’s discard.
Darwin named Vampiric Tutor, but there wasn’t one to be found; what was left in EDT’s hand after the smoke had cleared was Haunting Echoes, a Treetop Village, and forest. Darwin did a neat double-duty, sacrificing his Genesis to get it into the very graveyard he was saving by Cabal Therapying away the Haunting Echoes…
EDT Racked and attacked (ooo! Rhyming!) with the Village; Darwin Genesised back a Wall of Blossoms, then tapped out for a Baloth of his own. Barring future interference – which there surely would be – neither of the 3/3 Treetop Villages could penetrate the wall of x/4s.
…But Visara the Dreadful could. He tapped six lands, slowly.
Unfortunately, Visara hit the Diabolic Edict that Darwin had been saving for such an occasion all the way back from Turn 1, and EDT was too tapped out to activate a Village to take the bullet. Darwin’s Baloth charged across the field, smacking EDT down.
EDT continued racking both his brain and his library, searching for an answer – and that answer was Living Death. He cast it, but could only cough up a Visara, his graveyard milked bone-dry – or is that dry of bones? – by the Echoes. For his part, Darwin sacrificed the Baloth, which immediately came back thanks to the Death, along with his Genesis.
The sideboarding took some time as both of them decided what to go for, flipping through their decks until the judge tapped and table and told them it was time to present. They nodded and the game got underway.
EDT had to mulligan again, this time going first – painful, painful. Spectators – if not Darwin – hoped for a better hand to come, so at least Eric could put up a fight. Darwin had no problems, but once again Eric started off with two tapped Treetops.
He cast Oath of Druids on his third turn before Darwin had cast a spell, so at least he didn’t walk into a wall of Therapies. Eric laid a Dust Bowl and sucked Darwin’s Treetop dry; Darwin simply laid a swamp and waited until Eric tried to animate his Treetop and attack. As expected, the Diabolic Edict came, leaving both players down a land.
Eric activated his Village the next turn and sent; Kastle Vampiric Tutored
for a Pernicious Deed and laid it. The Oath, still on the table, had yet to be triggered – and it never was, as Kastle Deeded for three, wiping the Rack, the Oath, and the Elder off the board. Meanwhile, Darwin – who had played no creatures while the Deed was out – had been quietly stocking up, and had a handful of them waiting to come out and play. He led with Elder, staving off the Dust Bowl should EDT choose to dispatch it – and when EDT didn’t, instead laying a Baloth, he sacrificed it anyway to thin his deck.
Darwin drew a Dust Bowl, and things began to look really grim. Darwin had seven lands out, while EDT had a mere five – he could afford to win the war of attrition, especially thanks to the Elder. He laid a Spike Feeder – Ravenous Baloth’s sappy cousin – and passed.
Eric snorted in disappointment, disgusted at the state of the board.
Darwin laid an Elder, then considered; he had the choice between Treetop Village and the topdecked Volrath’s Stronghold. The Village dried up and blew away, allowing Eric to Volrath an Elder back in – but it was shortly Dusted on Darwin’s turn before it could go active again. EDT was down to a slim four lands.
Feeder and Elder traded easily.
EDT Duressed, and saw Elder, Coffin Purge, Village, and Duress. He protected his own hand with Duress, prompting an”oh my!” from Darwin; he must have had something good he needed to protect… But what?
Darwin topdecked another Duress, so he was going to get to see. Eric fired off a Vampiric Tutor in response, but he lost a Skeletal Scrying – and revealed a Visara, stuck in his hand thanks to Darwin’s rampant Dust Bowling. Deciding he’d just as soon not see Visara hit the table, thankyouverymuch, Darwin Dust Bowled yet another land to keep it stranded in his hand.
The card that Eric went for was, to no one’s surprise, also Haunting Echoes. This was also of massive proportions, taking the Pernicious Deed, Duress, Vampiric Tutor, Diabolic Edict, Treetop Village, and Spike Feeder. Darwin flipped through his graveyard – if he had a single card he wanted to save from the rampant savagery of the Echoes, he could have Purged it in response – but finding nothing, it resolved.
(Sung to the tune of”Yesterday”)
Savagery… Darwin’s deck is half the deck it used to be….
And yet the beats continued; maybe half his deck had been stripped, but the vital parts weren’t gone. Darwin laid a second Dust Bowl, which was sacrificed to his own Dust Bowl to keep Eric at four land. Realizing he held the advantage, he pressed in with Village, a pair of Elders, and a Spike Feeder. Nine points of damage was coming in, and Eric was at four – he threw his Baloth in front of the Village; Darwin moved both counters from the Spike Feeder to the Village, confirming that the counters stayed on after the Village went back into blissful slumber. A point of trample damage went over as Eric sacrificed the Baloth to stay in the game.
At three, EDT said,”Living Death!” as he drew his card; it was a Tusker. No soap, no game, no service.
Darwin went for a plan similar to his Oath sideboarding plan, reasoning that Eric deck was a slow mover – he sided out the Birds and Walls in order to minimize early Oath targets, and put in an additional Dust Bowl to cripple EDT’s mana.
He put in a Naturalize – one too few, but it didn’t seem to hurt him – a second Haunting Echoes, a few Faceless Butchers for Visara (which he didn’t have an answer to otherwise), Spike Feeder, and the Coffin Purge.