Riku Play-By-Play

Today Sheldon Menery well and truly Embraces the Chaos with an astounding play-by-play of a game with truly epic proportions.

How can I do a play-by-play with a deck that I don’t have? In this case, it’s simple: sometimes I play my Dreaming of Intet deck with Riku of Two Reflections as the commander. Given the deck’s choices, it’s much stronger than Intet, which is evidence of how much better creatures have gotten in recent years. Amusingly, I don’t even have an available copy of Riku to use with the deck, so I just use the giant, oversized version. I’m not quite willing to give up on my favorite Planar Chaos Dragon just yet, but I sometimes like the change of pace. The deck plays far more aggressively with Riku at the helm, which suits my playstyle better, and far more control-ish with Intet (which is a style I would like to learn better).

This recording of a game with Armada Games regulars Chris, Anthony, and (2013 Magic Community Cup star) Tom comes from right before the Magic Origins prerelease, so none of the recent updates to the deck are in. In fact, I still hadn’t made the Dragons of Tarkir update yet, either. True to form, it provided one of those epic games. It ended up going fewer turns than many of the games I’ve presented in the past, but it was packed with loads of action.

Chris is playing Selvala the Explorer. Anthony has Kruphix, God of Horizons. Tom has Ephara, God of the Polis.

Turn One

Chris (Selvala): Mosswort Bridge.

Me (Riku): Taiga.

Anthony (Kruphix): Island, Pyxis of Pandemonium. Anthony loves this card for its chaos-embracing tomfoolery. I’m a little less fond of it in this situation because this deck has a fair number of non-permanents (24 to be exact), so I’m more likely with this one to get daggered than with other decks.

Tom (Ephara): Plains.

Turn Two

Chris (Selvala): Forest.

Me (Riku): Hinterland Harbor.

Anthony (Kruphix): Scrying Sheets.

Tom (Ephara): Springjack Pasture. At end of turn, Anthony activates Pyxis of Pandemonium.

Turn Three

Chris (Selvala): Terramorphic Expanse, which he cracks to get Plains.

Me (Riku): Island.

Anthony (Kruphix): Snow-Covered Forest.

Tom (Ephara): Thespian Stage.

Turn Four

Chris (Selvala): Selvala. Anthony activates Scrying Sheets, gets a Snow-Covered Island. He then activates Pyxis of Pandemonium.

Me (Riku): Island. It’s time to see how greedy everyone gets. Common wisdom amongst our regulars is to never accept a Tempting Offer, but you never know. I cast Tempting Discovery. Anthony says no, Tom says no, but Chris says yes. He gets Krosan Verge; I get Reliquary Tower and Frontier Bivouac. I consider just getting Gaea’s Cradle right away, but without creatures (and not too many in my hand), the tri-land is the safer choice.

Anthony (Kruphix): Snow-Covered Forest.

Tom (Ephara): Plains, Ephara.

Turn Five

Chris (Selvala): Activates Parley. Anthony responds by activating both Scrying Sheets and Pyxis of Pandemonium. He reveals Snow-Covered Island, Tom sees Stolen Identity, Chris Vengeful Archon, and I get Fault Line. Chris to (43). Chris casts Plea for Guidance and cracks Krosan Verge so he can get everything while he’s searching (taking less time). He gets basic Plains and Forest off Krosan Verge and Ground Seal and Blind Obedience off of Plea for Guidance. He discards Vengeful Archon and Scale Blessing.

Me (Riku): Forest, and a nice peel off the top: Consecrated Sphinx.

Anthony (Kruphix): During his upkeep, he casts Turn to Frog on Consecrated Sphinx. Activates Scrying Sheets, gets Snow-Covered Island and plays it.

Tom (Ephara): Island, Trading Post (“Goat Post” in local vernacular).

Turn Six

Chris (Selvala): During his upkeep, he casts Oblation on Consecrated Sphinx. Eminently fair. During his main phase, he activates Parley again. Tom shows Midnight Haunting, Anthony Unexpected Results, Chris Fresh Meat and me Consecrated Sphinx. If this were 1997, someone would have screamed “Mise!” Chris to (47). Drops Plains. Casts Ground Seal and Blind Obedience. Realizes he did that in the wrong order. Tom responds to him casting Blind Obedience by making a Goat token. Chris casts Glimmerpoint Stag and takes out the token. At EOT, Anthony activates Pyxis of Pandemonium.

Me (Riku): During my upkeep, Tom draws for Ephara. I play Island. I have some choices here. I have Glen Elendra Archmage in my hand and I can also cast Riku. I decide to go greedy and cast Consecrated Sphinx. One of the things I love about playing with friends is that if you make the strategically iffy choice and get blown out, you’re still playing with friends. It takes some of the sting out. I’m not saying that casting Consecrated Sphinx is an iffy play; I’m saying my thought process is different than if I were playing competitively. Instead of asking “what do I think the absolute best play here is?” I ask myself “what could lead to the craziest results?”

Anthony (Kruphix): Snow-Covered Forest. Casts Unexpected Results, gets Island and gets back Unexpected Results. That card is so good. Casts Ghoulcaller’s Bell.

Tom (Ephara): Mobilization. At end of turn, Anthony whiffs on Scrying Sheets and activates Pyxis of Pandemonium.

Turn Seven

Chris (Selvala): Activates Parley. Chris sees Terastodon, I reveal Clone, Anthony Prophet of Kruphix, and Tom Sun Titan. All in all, extremely saucy. Chris to (51). When everyone draws from Selvala, I draw a bunch more. Chris casts Terminus. I cannot complain. C-Sphinx has done its work.

Me (Riku): Tropical Island. Sol Ring. Growth Spasm, get Island and a tapped Spawn token. Cast Coiling Oracle (enters the battlefield tapped), getting Stomping Ground.

Anthony (Kruphix): Island, casts Unexpected Results. I have a handful of stuff, so I can afford to Spell Crumple this. If you haven’t seen it, this is the sweet alter I commissioned from Eric Klug:

Sweet alter

In case you’re wondering, I would not allow this card in tournament play because the art (that’s Eric variation on the original Counterspell) confuses what the card is. And yes, I still play Spell Crumple after the tuck rule change because it’s still extremely good. It puts itself back into the library, and more importantly in this format, it keeps something potentially dangerous out of the graveyard. Anthony activates Ghoulcaller’s Bell and then Pyxis of Pandemonium. At end of turn, Tom casts Midnight Haunting.

Tom (Ephara): Draws during his upkeep and then draw for his turn. Attacks me with the tokens (38). Casts Sun Titan. Chris responds with White Sun’s Zenith for five. I counter it with Plasm Capture. Since I have nothing particularly valuable on the board, I feel like I can spend the counterspells now, knowing that I’m going to eventually get them back when I reshuffle with one of the Eldrazi. Having the mana to do stuff seems more proactive than sitting back and waiting for exactly the perfect thing to counter (although White Sun’s Zenith is a pretty good thing to get rid of). Tom gets Evolving Wilds back with Sun Titan and cracks it. Plays Kor Haven.

Turn Eight

Chris (Selvala): Plains. Pays five to cast Selvala. Casts Twilight Shepherd.

Me (Riku): I use the six mana to help cast Terastodon. I take out Trading Post, Blind Obedience, and Mobilization. I cast Riku of Two Reflections (which I didn’t cast first because I want to cast the other stuff in my hand instead of copying Terastodon). I drop Sulfur Falls, then cast Rhystic Study and Scroll Rack.

Anthony (Kruphix): Snow-Covered Island. Casts Kiora, the Crashing Wave (and lets me draw). He activates the -1 ability. Chuckles when he draws. Plays Snow-Covered Forest. Casts Omen Machine (and lets me draw one final card before it resolves). This seems like it’s not in my best interest. I cast Cryptic Command (yes, in that batch of card draws off the first Parley, I drew three of the deck’s five counterspells) to counter it and draw. He activates Ghoulcaller’s Bell and Pyxis of Pandemonium.

Tom (Ephara): Casts Stolen Identity (paying for Rhystic Study), copying Sun Titan. He ciphers Stolen Identity onto a Spirit. We all then realize Ground Seal is on the battlefield, making Sun Titan less good. He swings one of the Spirits at Anthony, one at Kiora (killing it), two 3/3 Elephants and Sun Titan at me. I block Sun Titan with Coiling Oracle. Anthony to (39), me to (32). Cipher triggers. He copies Terastodon, blowing up Reliquary Tower (fair), Scroll Rack (fair), and Ground Seal (obv). Plays Windbrisk Heights.

Turn Nine

Chris (Selvala): Parley again. We see Island from Tom, Woodfall Primus from Chris, Stormtide Leviathan from me, and Island from Anthony. Chris to (53). He uses the mana to help cast Terastodon (I draw), nuking Rhystic Study (never a complaint when someone does that), Windbrisk Heights, and Ghoulcaller’s Bell. Plays Plains. Activates Mosswort Bridge, getting Dauntless Escort (I draw).

Me (Riku): My play here is obvious. Cast Eternal Witness, copy it with Riku. Get back Reliquary Tower and Cyclonic Rift (which had gotten milled with an earlier Ghoulcaller’s Bell activation). I sacrifice the Spawn token to help cast Oracle of Mul Daya. Reveal Command Tower, so I play it. I keep up mana for Cyclonic Rift because I suspect my face is getting battled. There are two other blue players, so there’s no guarantee that it’s getting through, but it’s a worthwhile risk. I’m reasonably sure that the counterspell count for both Tom and Anthony is low.

Anthony (Kruphix): Snow-Covered Island, Prophet of Kruphix. Whiffs on Scrying Sheets.

Tom (Ephara): Plays Island. As predicted, swings with both Sun Titans (returning Evolving Wilds and Island) and the Terastodon copy at me, and the Spirit with Stolen Identity ciphered on it at Anthony. I overload Cyclonic Rift. Anthony flashes in Diluvian Primordial. His counterspell count might be low, but he can make good use of the ones in my graveyard. He takes Cryptic Command, countering Cyclonic Rift and bouncing the ciphered Spirit token. Tom has nothing for him to cast. He casts Chris’ Oblation on his own Elephant. I block the Sun Titan copy with the Eternal Witness token and the real Eternal Witness throws itself in front of Terastodon. My Terastodon blocks the real Sun Titan. After combat, he casts Martial Coup for five. Anthony casts Hinder on it (man, my Cyclonic Rift was really not getting through), putting it on top. He then activates Pyxis of Pandemonium. Tom casts his favorite card in this deck, Saltskitter. He activates Evolving Wilds, getting Plains.

Turn Ten

Chris (Selvala): Upkeep, Tom draws. Activates Parley. Anthony responds with Brainstorm. When Selvala’s ability resolves, we see lands from everyone except Tom, who shows Emeria Angel. Chris to (54). Declares combat and swings the whole team at Anthony. Anthony flashes in Farhaven Elf (triggering Saltskitter), getting Snow-Covered Island. He then casts Scourge of Fleets (his Island count being seven). Chris responds by casting Decree of Savagery, which allows him to keep Twilight Shepherd. Anthony blocks Terastodon with Scourge of Fleets, Farhaven Elf, Prophet of Kruphix, and Diluvian Primordial (fourteen total power). Chris kills all of them except Scourge of Fleets. Anthony to (30). Chris recasts Selvala. At end of turn, Saltskitter comes back.

Me (Riku): Upkeep, Tom draws. Volcanic Island. Cast Riku from my hand (Saltskitter triggers). Cast Glen Elendra Archmage. At end of turn, Saltskitter returns.

Anthony (Kruphix): Upkeep, Tom draws. He says “I love Saltskitter.” Anthony casts Counterbalance. I counter it with Archmage, which Persists back (triggering Saltskitter). Anthony activates Scrying Sheets and Pyxis of Pandemonium. At end of turn, Saltskitter comes back.

Tom (Ephara): Upkeep, Tom says “No, really, I love Saltskitter.” He draws and then draws for turn. Plains, Spawning Pit. Battles me with his Terastodon copy. I offer the trade by blocking with mine. He has no tricks. Casts Aetherling (triggering Saltskitter).

Turn Eleven

Chris (Selvala): Upkeep, Tom draws. Parley. Chris shows Forest, me Yavimaya Coast, Anthony Codex Shredder, Tom Rite of Replication. Chris to (57). Plays the Forest. Casts Woodfall Primus. Blows up Kor Haven. Tom copies Reliquary Tower with Thespian Stage. Chris attacks Tom with his 9/9 Twilight Shepherd (30). Casts Dauntless Escort. At end of turn, I cast Artifact Mutation, copying it with Riku, on Spawning Pit and Crystal Ball, netting me five Saprolings.

Me (Riku): Upkeep, Tom draws. Avenger of Zendikar, copying it. That’s 28 Plant tokens for me. Cast Oracle of Mul Daya. Drop two lands, making the Plants into 4/5. Mention that no one is playing black, so no Masscre Wurms in my future.

Anthony (Kruphix): Upkeep, Tom draws. Snow-Covered Island. Says “let’s have some fun.” He activates the seven-mana ability of Pyxis of Pandemonium. It doesn’t turn out as well for him as he wants. Tom gets two Plains, Island, Terrain Generator, Moorland Haunt, Gilded Lotus, and Skullclamp. He exiles Martial Coup and Rootborn Defenses. Chris gets Luminate Primordial, Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice, Juniper Order Rangers, two Forests, Beastmaster Ascension and Path of Bravery; he loses Krosan Grip and Kodama’s Reach. I get Breeding Pool, three Forests, Yasova Dragonclaw, Maze of Ith, Prophet of Kruphix, and Hellrider. This is way better than I could have hoped for. Five lands mean ten counters on my Plants. Anthony gets two Snow-Covered Forests, Snow-Covered Island, Elvish Mystic, Myr Battlesphere, and Burnished Hart, losing Plasm Capture, Cultivate, and Beast Within. Luminate Primordial targets the non-token Avenger of Zendikar and Elvish Mystic. After all that and Trostani triggers, I’m at (37), Anthony (31), and Chris at (72). Anthony then casts an Avenger of Zendikar of his own. I do the only reasonable thing: I Desertion it. I get a swarm more Plants. At end of turn, Tom casts White Sun’s Zenith for seven. When I don’t counter it, Chris sees the opening and casts Beast Within on Hellrider. Perfectly fair. I have Mana Drain, but I don’t think it matters at this point. I have so much damage on board that I don’t really need the Hellrider triggers.

Tom (Ephara): Draws on his upkeep. Casts Eldrazi Monument. Taking a page out of Anthony’s book, I flash in Diluvian Primordial. I use Anthony’s Spell Crumple to counter Eldrazi Monument, cast Chris’ Decree of Savagery, and Tom’s Midnight Haunting. After all that, Tom casts Rite of Replication, targeting Avenger of Zendikar. There’s no need to counter that, either, because I have a plan. He gets five Avengers and 85 Plants. Tom equips Skullclamp to a token, looking for a land. He doesn’t get one. He casts the non-bo of Rest in Peace and then Mimic Vat. At end of turn, I flash in Consecrated Sphinx as counterspell bait. No one bites, so I flash in Clone. No one counters. I copy Scourge of Fleets, which clears the way (most importantly, of Tom’s tokens) for my army of giant Plants.

On Chris’s turn, he asks Anthony if he has anything in hand. When Anthony says no, I reveal the Mana Drain. Everyone agrees that we’re done. This is another good part of playing with friends. In situations like this, it’s okay for everyone to look at the top card of their library to see if the game needs to continue. Instead of engaging in any kind of gamesmanship, we save the time so that we can get to the next game.

Thanks to the guys for having the patience (again) to let me record the game — especially the extra time it took to scribe down all the stuff from that Pyxis of Pandemonium activation. Their sufferance lets me bring the epic games to you.

This Week’s Deck Without Comment: the deck which Tom plays in this episode.

Tom Delia’s I Love Saltskitter


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