The game started off extremely slowly…. But that wasn’t the players’ faults.
Remove all cards from the game. If they don’t match your decklist, you’re a silly person and you lose.
Jeff is notable for finally grabbing the big prize in Grand Prix: Philadelphia after a handful of top finishes, and is – as most first-time winners are – looking to prove that it wasn’t just a fluke. Diego Ostrovich was playing the rogue elf deck that put him in the Top 32 of Houston, and he’s hoping to prove that it kicks some serious butt.
The two players, quiet men both, were sandwiched by more loudmouthed players; Brian Kibler cheerfully discussed the game state with Tony Tsai, whereas Zvi Mowshowitz – playing his trademark TurboLand deck – thought out loud as he desperately tried to combo under the gun of a Sligh deck with two Seals of Fire on the table. For their part, they sat in silence as the judges inspected their decks, watching their neighbors.
The decks came back, and naturally, neither had any problems; if you’re at the top tables of a Grand Prix and misregister your deck, trust me when I say you’re there by luck alone.
The shuffling was, as is usual after these events, unflaggingly thorough.
Diego Ostrovich opened his hand with Masticore, Rofellos, and Skyshroud Poacher, leaving spectators wondering exactly what the hell he was playing. His second-turn Rofellos stared down Cunningham’s island.
Jeff laid a Yavimaya Coast, but Diego was barrelling fast out of the gates, laying a third-turn Skyshroud Poacher and then a Birds of Paradise. People wondered what Cunningham was playing, since on the fourth turn he hadn’t played a single card yet – and then, when he tapped out to cast Deep Analysis, it was revealed that he was playing a U/G Madness deck with a really slow hand.
Poacher fetched Deranged Hermit and four 2/2 buddies at the end of the turn. There was a lot of beatdown on the table – and while Cunningham was still helpless, he Living Wished for a Gaea’s Cradle. Mana? Not a problem.
Eight damage smashed across the table. Still on the fifth turn, Rofellos and Cradle poured a waterfall of mana into Ostrovich’s pool, summoning another Hermit, a Ravenous Baloth, a Call of the Herd, a Slate of Ancestry, and…
Oh hell. It was over. Cunningham, playing a deck devoid of hard removal, scooped.
They sideboarded in silence, the echoes of a legendary beating heard thumping back faintly from the ceiling. Peter Szigeti walked up and asked,”So how’d you do?”
Cunningham:”I was annihilated.”
Cunningham went first, then walked into a mulligan – which, given the aggressive nature of Ostrovich’s deck, did not necessarily signify a bad hand per se. It’s just that any hand that wasn’t gold against this deck was likely to be swamped, and Cunningham knew it.
Meanwhile, Diego considered his hand of many elves and a forest, then decided even for a mana-monster like his deck, it wasn’t enough. He mulliganed.
Cunningham’s hand was better, while Ostrovich’s was worse; he led with an Aquamoeba that threw up a Basking Rootwalla, while Ostrovich used his third turn to play Call of the Herd. (He used YMG’s Elephant tokens – which are, may we add, conveniently available from our online store. Just so you know.) Cunningham added a Mongrel to his lineup and sent with all, the Mongrel meeting the Call token and living thanks to a thrown Analysis and ‘Moeba.
Ostrovich, this time on the receiving end of forest-generated asswhuppins, tapped four mana for Masticore. Cunningham flashed the Analysis back, then dared Ostrovich – block, just block the damn Mongrel. You don’t have the mana to regenerate it. Ostrovich bit the bait, and two brother Mongrels and a forest kept the Mongrel alive.
Diego summoned a Poacher and an Elvish Lyrist, then chumping Mongrel with the Lyrist. Cunningham opted not to walk into an active Poacher, and Diego confirmed his wariness by fetching yet another Hermit. He was down to seven, but the tables were turning – a living Grizzly Fate will do that to you. He then summoned a Ravenous Baloth.
Digging deeper, ever deeper, to add to his now-tiny army of three critters, Cunningham tapped out for a full Analysis. The Hermit tumbled into the graveyard, its echo sorely neglected – but Baloth and a horde of 1/1 squirrels attacked. Before damage went on the stack, another Hermit was searched out, ballooning the squirrels back up to their beary 2/2 status, smashing Cunningham for ten, and grabbing another four 2/2 chump blockers for defense.
Cunningham wished for a Wonder. Not”Capital-W” wish, but just sort of wanly wished in that way we all did before Judgment came along. And it had about the same effect, since even if he did draw it the Baloth could pull Ostrovich back up to eleven life, out of Mongrel kill range.
He flashed back the Analysis, trying to find something, then nodded with pursed lips;”Not bad.” But who was it not bad for?
Cunningham wiped sweat off his brow. It was close, and he knew it, but even this close match was still worth a big smile.
Ostrovich started with the classic play of Forest, Bird, and Cunningham matched it with the not-quite-classic-but-annoyingly-familiar Forest, Rootwalla. Ostrovich cast a x, and Rofellos was Submerged at the end of the step. Unfazed, Ostrovich cast a Call of the Herd (with cool tokens, available at amazingly low prices).
Cunningham Intuitioned for a Wonder, a Roar, and a Mongrel. On Diego’s side, the mana engine was gearing up as an Llanowar Elves and a Rofellos hit the table; unfortunately, Cunningham’s flying 6/6 outmatched the landbound 3/3s and 2/1s. Ostrovich tried to race by summoning a Deranged Hermit with Rofellos and an Elf…
“Daze.” The word was firm and in control, like Cunningham.
Does anyone else find it ironic that the Deranged Hermit was no match for the power of true madness?
The Bird fell to the Roar assault, buying Diego a turn. Ostrovich was at seven, searching for answers or at least a stall… And Ravenous Baloth fit the bill. Unfortunately, a freshly-madnessed Arrogant Wurm joined Jeff’s team at instant-speed at the end of Ostrovich’s turn, reminding him that his bills were past due, flew over, and smashed Ostrovich flat.
“What did you board in?” Cunningham asked.
“One Dust Bowl,” Ostrovich answered.
The deck usually had good matchups with U/G Madness; normally, its bad matchups are Aluren and Oath.”It’s a lot fun to play,” Ostrovich grinned.