The SCG CON Summer 2019 Report, Part 2

Sheldon Menery concludes his report on his Commander adventures at SCG CON Summer with Sunday’s games, including epic Warp World shenanigans, and a look back on it all.

Last time, we covered Friday and Saturday’s games at SCG CON Summer 2019. Now we’ll look into the games I played Sunday, plus cover a few over-arching points. First, I want to bring up two things that came from the panels I sat in on Friday.

The first, with Brian David-Marshall, Gavin Verhey, and Justin Parnell, was about deck construction. It wandered into the territory of building Commander decks based on decks from other formats, specifically inspired by BDM’s Spider Spawning Deck. If you’re searching for a new way to approach deckbuilding, give it a try. Find that deck that you played in Standard ten years ago or Modern last season and use it as a springboard to your latest build. See if Mythic Bant translates to Commander or whatever. Restrictions breed creativity; I suspect you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

The second came from the “Ask the Commander Rules Committee” panel Scott and I did. The question of hybrid mana again came up. I’ve made the argument here several times, but for those of you who haven’t seen it, the RC’s answer is firm. Understanding what the purpose of hybrid mana was when it was designed, the cards themselves nonetheless retain both colors. Debtors’ Knell is both white and black, regardless of the mana you used to cast it. If you cast it for 3WWW, I can still exile it with Celestial Purge. You can’t say that the card is white. It’s a straightforward answer and that’s how we intend to keep it. We asked the CAG at some point for their opinion, and they’re in agreement. Hybrid mana isn’t likely to change.

Now let’s get to Sunday’s games. I was on site at 0800 when the doors opened, and although there weren’t as many people at that hour as there had been the previous day, we still didn’t wait to play.


Game 15

This was a new version of “Phil and friends” from yesterday, and the table was solid. Strong technical play from all sides led to a few swingy things happening. David’s Ninjas led most of the early action. Just as it looked like Josh’s Goblin army was going to get there, Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite made an appearance from my deck. It effectively neutered the other three, and it wasn’t long until Karador and friends established first control and marched to victory.

Game 16

Our own Stephen Green asked me to play Yasova, since he wanted to see it in action. It, as it had done the day before, did Yasova things, namely borrowing them and not giving them back (maybe I should change the name from The Threat of Yasova to Howdy, I’m a Bad Neighbor). The game progressed, and we got a little seduced by Party Jace Beleren and let it get out of hand counters-wise (greed will do that to you). At a crucial juncture, Jacob cast Plasm Capture on an Emrakul, the Promised End from Stephen that had targeted me. Stephen used my turn to try to weaken him, but it wasn’t enough. The turn I took wasn’t sufficient either. On his turn, he got to Blue Sun’s Zenith for 23, mill someone, and then cast Windfall. Libraries were suitably low. He managed to knock out Ed, and then my turn took him down a bit more. On Stephen’s turn, I had better creatures than he did, so I made the only reasonable move: I cast Reins of Power and gave Stephen my team, with which he could kill Jacob. After that, he built up his own forces with Zacama while whittling down mine. I even controlled Zacama at one point, but once I lost control, he got it back and finished me off. It was a suitably epic game, with huge swings of momentum turning on specific plays.

Game 17

I’d played with everyone the previous SCG CONs, but not yet at this one. Scott told me previously that Mike was playing Sunder in his deck, so I had to be careful with land drops; I shared this info with the table. It led Chris to focus a little on Mike, which is fair. Folks don’t like their lands messed with.

I simply didn’t toss out lands willy-nilly and instead tried to stay ahead on creatures, making the Sunder suboptimal for him. Mike phasing his lands out made him vulnerable because he didn’t have enough other mana sources. At one point, Chris started to roll a die to determine who he was going to attack. I gave him a very big boo. In the end, people are welcome to choose who they attack by whatever math or method they see fit. By rolling a die, I suspect they hope to avoid responsibility for their actions, which is what I’m not a fan of. In fact, if they do, I’ll target them afterward even if they don’t end up randomly choosing me.

Chris relented and just attacked me without rolling the die, a move I supported. Chris became the threat in that game, so we teamed up to get rid of him. Eventually, it came down to just me and Apollo, and although my notes don’t mention it, I’m pretty sure he won. Chris was nice enough to run out and get sandwiches for me and Scott after the game so that I could keep playing with the folks on the sign-up sheet, since I had some folks waiting. It was a nice gesture, so I returned it by picking up his lunch as well. These are the kinds of things that happen when you establish good rapport.

Game 18

No one has a particularly big start. In one of the middle turns, Mike said “Let’s see what happens” and cast Bolas’s Citadel. He blanked on it a few times with lands before someone had the good sense to blow it up. The game had a few more not particularly noteworthy turns, and then on Turn 12 or so, Blair wrecked the table with Finale of Devastation fetching up Craterhoof Behemoth. We called in NASA to make sure we have enough computing power to figure out the math.

It’s mid-to-late afternoon on Sunday by this time and the crowds were thinning out. Still, there were people ready to play. We got the last person on the signup sheet a seat.

Game 19

Mark explained that he doesn’t cast Maralen until he can use it first (like casting it at end of turn once he’s resolve Vedalken Orrery), because it seems silly to let everyone else tutor just to kill Maralen and not let him do it. He has a more reserved plan than just tossing it out there. The epic play, however, is when Blair ramped into Etali and Mark countered it with Withering Boon. Unfortunately for the rest of us, that only delayed the inevitable, as none of us conjured up any control elements before Blair got Darksteel Plate on his commander. The stuff that he found off Etali’s trigger was repeatedly good, and it wasn’t long before he took control of the battlefield and grinded away our life totals.

Game 20

Stephen struggled a little out of the gate, mostly just drawing land. Scott had a reasonable start, Ed did a few chaos things, and I had a decent start as well. I cast Saskia and pointed it at Ed because I knew of his shenanigans. Some damage got traded around the table, and then on about Turn 10, Ed cast Warp World. Then things got to what you’d expect after a big Warp World: insane. I had the most permanents at nineteen. Stephen’s battlefield was scariest, as he turned most of those lands into fatties. Mine was pretty good as well, with Blood Artist, Cruel Celebrant, and Rage Thrower all in the mix, although I had to put some other stuff back into my hand due to Dust Elemental. The operative piece was Scott’s Gisela, Blade of Goldnight. On his turn, Stephen handed out some big damage, killing Ed. I had to resort to some tricks with Dross Harvester, sacrificing a few of my own creatures, in order to gain enough life to stay alive. Scott’s Gisela was making things painful for me. When it got to my turn, it looked like I couldn’t kill him due to Gisela’s damage reduction. Fortunately, my draw was good. With Ilharg, the Raze-Boar battling and bringing out Luminate Primordial to get rid of Gisela, I had enough between attacking and sacrificing creatures (at four damage/life loss each) to kill them both.

Game 21

Zach told me that his Roalesk build was inspired by my own. Matthew and Chase, who play a fair amount of cEDH, asked if they could borrow decks from me. I said sure and let them pick.

The game was pretty saucy early on. I started with a greedy hand of Forest, Island, Coiling Oracle, Kodama’s Reach, Cultivate, Burnished Hart, and Solemn Simulacrum. I obviously kept, because if I drew one more land (and Coiling Oracle offered me an extra shot at it), I’d be in business. Come to think of it, it’s not that greedy at all. Chase, no fear at all, cast Dark Confidant on Turn 2, knowing that his Turn 3 Aminatou would let him put the right cards on top of the library.

The game got saucier after Matthew got aggressive with Doom Whisperer, putting a dozen cards into the graveyard for reanimation tricks. The game got super-swingy after that (although poor Zach stalled early on lands), with me casting stuff off my piles of mana and doing Muldrotha tricks, and Matthew and Chase keeping me in check. They did it primarily with Matthew’s Angel of Despair and Ashen Rider, and then Chase flickering a Clone with Aminatou’s -1 ability. At one point, he made the same mistake that I’ve made a zillion times, trying to flicker Angel of Despair with Restoration Angel—but he realized that Ashen Rider was better anyway.

The game went through several turns, with the Abzan and Esper control decks keeping my side of the table pretty clear. Eventually, Chase cast a rather large Decree of Pain. Fortunately for me, I had drawn Rise of the Dark Realms on an early turn. After that, it still took a few turns, but the power of everyone else’s stuff let me get there. I took out Chase and Matthew first, since Zach was still a little behind; eventually, he couldn’t draw any more answers and we were done. It was the perfect kind of game to end the weekend on (even if I hadn’t won) – big, splashy, epic.

Looking Back

It truly was a grand weekend full of games. Rule 0 was a topic of much discussion, and the people I was around (plus talking to Scott and BDM, among others), set the parameters of their games reasonably well before they shuffled up. It led to loads of fun for everyone, and that’s what this format is about. Speaking of fun, SCG’s Commander Wall was an inspired idea. It was a mural with pictures of all legal commanders. They had stamps at the Command Zone desk and when you played a game, you stamped your commander. There were some that had more stamps than others, for sure, but I was impressed by the spread. Kudos to SCG for putting together a great event.

The afterparty was also pretty strong. It gave me a chance to chat with some folks who I hadn’t gotten to spend time with all weekend because they were working in other areas. Of particular interest was a somewhat long chat I had with cosplayer, artist, and force of nature Olivia Gobert-Hicks about Commander (and the CAG), podcasting, social equality, and more. I look forward to seeing her among many of the other folks – which I hope includes some of you – at SCG CON Winter 2019 in November.

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