Battle of the Sets VI: Finals Recap
By Legend on October 25th, 2005 · Filed in General Magic · Comments not available just now
Editor's Note: Just to keep things clear, the BOTS that is about to happen is number 7/VII. This is the recap of the finals for the last one, 6/VI. Why print it? Just to give you a glimpse of how this is going to go down, and of course a taste of the author's remarkable flair for elaborate exposition -GobThis is the dream bout - the ultimate showdown between the champions of the past two Battle of the Sets tournaments. A better finale you could not hope for. Higher drama you will not find. This is Battle of the Sets at its best. This is what you came to see. This is what you live for.
IV. RECAP: THE FINALS FROM LAST TIME
Below is the preview and match report from the incredible finals last time, when the Antiquities death machine faced off against the black-hearted evil of Torment in the ultimate showdown to decide the Battle of the Sets VI champion:
THE FINALS - BATTLE OF THE SETS VI
Antiquities vs. Torment - The Ultimate Showdown
The two most dominant sets meet at last - with everything on the line. It’s the cold steel of Antiquities vs. the pure evil of Torment.
In the storied history of Battle of the Sets - the endless struggle for supremacy played out over the centuries, filled with tales valor and might, of epic confrontations, of the purest good and the blackest evil, of remarkable battles and heroic performances, handed down through the ages - this is the most important match yet.
The winner becomes the first two-time Battle of the Sets champion - and earns the right to be called the best, the mightiest expansion set of all time!
Now, let’s meet the combatants, the magnificent gladiators:
Many a battered opponent has chalked up defeat to Antiquities with this simple refrain: “Nothing I could do; I ran into a buzz-saw.” Yes, Antiquities is the prime example of a buzz-saw - a dominant force that doesn’t just beat opponents - but beats them badly. Antiquities has made a habit of thrashings, throttlings, poundings, and smashings - winning big has become routine. But there’s more to Antiquities than just winning big. There’s also a remarkable flair for the dramatic. On the rare occasions Antiquities has been pushed to the limit in recent tournaments, it has almost always responded with something dramatic - be it a comeback against all odds, an amazing topdeck at the last possible moment, or just a flat out dazzling opening hand when needed most.
Usually, the question is not whether Antiquities will win - it's how Antiquities will win.
It all starts with Mishra’s Workshop. No single card is more important to a deck than Workshop is to Antiquities. Workshop allows for the unfair blasts of artifact creatures that leave opponents doubled over and gasping for air. When Antiquities gets its best draws, with a Workshop or two in hand, almost no one can stand up to it. Pretty hard to beat turn one Onulet, turn two Su-Chi, turn three Primal Clay, Strip Mine or turn one Candelabra, turn two Triskelion, turn three Tetravus. There are a ton of variations on the Antiquities power opening - any one of them breathtaking - for the opponent gasping for air after a few blows to the gut, that is. Fast, bone-crunching artifact creatures and free land destruction to keep the opponent down - a potent combination.
Or maybe Antiquities doesn’t get off to such a great start. You’re Antiquities’ opponent. You think you have a chance, you start to get excited. You’re doing well….the game is yours….then …. BAM! Antiquities put the Urza trinity together and all of the sudden it has more mana than you can shake a stick at! You’re in trouble. Before you know what hit you, all sorts of artifact creatures are coming at you, or maybe you just get blown away by a huge Rocket Launch. Maybe you find yourself in a late-game situation, topdecking answers and fighting back. You fall behind once again, but you draw the card you need to wipe away Triskelion and a couple of other artifact creatures that are beating on you - Akroma’s Vengeance. But Antiquities is just a little bit too resourceful - Tawnos’s Coffin saves the Triskelion. Then it gets out of the phantom zone and bludgeons you to death. This actually happened - to Onslaught in the BOTS IV finals.
Antiquities is a champion - fast, versatile, and with no matchup it can’t win.
But it wasn’t always like this. In order to become a champion, you need to overcome disappointment and defeat; Antiquities encountered plenty of disappointment and defeat - bitter, bitter defeat - in the first three BOTS tournaments.
Regarded as one of the elite decks entering the first BOTS tournament, Antiquities immediately demonstrated why. It hammered its way into the Final Four, where it met Apocalypse. In one of the best matches ever, Antiquities fell 3-2, forcing a fifth game but ultimately succumbing to the eventual champion.
Antiquities was expected to continue its advance toward the ultimate goal in BOTS II, but instead Antiquities took one step back. It advanced to the Top 8, and there held a 2-1 lead on Arabian Nights. But Antiquities suddenly collapsed and lost the final two games of the match with horrid draws, letting a match it had slip away, and with it a shot at the title.
The disappointment continued in BOTS III, as Antiquities took yet another step back - this time falling, and falling hard in the second round. The opponent? Torment - Antiquities’ opponent in these very finals you are about to witness. Torment swept Antiquities on that occasion, and the artifact deck had hit rock bottom.
Once a fan favorite, media darling, babe magnet, and an all-around cool guy, Antiquities began to battle depression. It wasn’t long before Antiquities took to the bottle, drinking itself into a stupor each day. But Antiquities was no quitter. Just when it seemed darkest, just when the beer gut was biggest - Antiquities pulled itself together and resolved to be the best - to rededicate itself to winning the whole thing. Antiquities began to work out again, rising each morning before sunup and running 10 miles along the beach. After a nutritious, balanced breakfast, Antiquities would hit the weight room until its muscles cried out “no more, no more!” It was during these workouts that Antiquities dreamed big - that it visualized winning the whole enchilada.
By the time BOTS IV rolled around, Antiquities was ready - both spiritually and physically. Oh yes, Antiquities was ready. Moreover, the decklist underwent a subtle but significant change - four clunky Jalum Tomes were removed - and taking the place of the departed Tomes was everyone’s favorite walking, talking luxury toilet - Onulet. This move proved to be the final piece of the puzzle for Antiquities - the missing link. Four slots that had contributed very little, four slots that had basically been a drag on the deck, were suddenly filled with a 2/2 creature that could be played on turn one with regularity, drastically improving Antiquities’s early game and increasing its aggressiveness that much more. Turn one Onulet, turn two Su-Chi - not bad, not bad at all. The little life gain ability was just a nice bonus.
This was it. BOTS IV was Antiquities’ breakout performance, as it finally captured the championship. The fact that it proved anything but easy made it all the more rewarding. After escaping from a dangerous five-game first round encounter with Serenity-packing Weatherlight, Antiquities swept Urza’s Destiny. But then came the moment of truth. The artifact set fell behind 0-2 to Scourge in the division finals. Sure enough, Antiquities pulled off one of the greatest comebacks ever, mowing Scourge down in the final three games to take the match 3-2. Next up was Darksteel, a tough 3-1 victory for Antiquities. Then, in the finals, Antiquities battled Onslaught in perhaps the best title match to date, losing the first game, but once again rallying to take the final three. Antiquities had finally captured its elusive championship, and with a series of memorable performances under pressure.
Another Top 4 appearance followed last time out, but the dynasty talk was put on hold for at least another tournament when Antiquities’ old nemesis Apocalypse resurfaced once again to derail the artifact deck, this time 3-1.
Now, Antiquities has arrived in the finals for the second time in three tournaments. A win here and Antiquities becomes the first two-time champion in BOTS history, and arguably its first dynasty, as Antiquities would have two titles in three tournaments with a cumulative 13-1 match record over that period. But that argument will have to wait for now, because a monumental challenge lies ahead in the form of an evil adversary with dynasty ideas of its own……
Let’s meet our other finalist, shall we?
Defending champion Torment has one very important characteristic in common with its finals opponent - Torment is also a certified buzz-saw, having sliced right through all of its recent opponents while encountering only limited resistance. In fact, Torment enters these finals having won nine consecutive matches. After capturing the championship last time, Torment will stop at nothing to become the first two-time BOTS champion.
Torment is hardcore. Hardcore evil. Torment is pure evil - a remorseless killer, a mono-black menace, a nightmare beyond your wildest dreams. Nothing is sacred. Not your creatures, not your mana, and not your hand. Death - what a pleasant fate when put up against the prospect of confronting Torment.
Your creatures aren’t going to survive. They’re going to get Edicted - Chainer’s Edicted. Or Butchered by a Faceless killer. Or perhaps two or three will die along with a Shambling Swarm. Maybe one or two creatures will survive the carnage. But what then? What of the survivors? They have survived, but only to witness unspeakable horrors.
Indeed, those that do survive - they can’t stand up to the mighty Laquatus’s Champion. The Champs are Torment’s trusted assassins - Torment’s agents of death. If you are fortunate enough to avoid facing down a Champion, you will not be much better off against Natuko Shade. Yes, the Shade is no bargain either, especially with the outrageous mana production of Cabal Coffers. Games come to an end quickly when a 16/15 undead insect with an appetite for destruction is on the prowl.
Don’t even think of getting the early drop on Torment. It has plenty to do in the early game. Mesmeric Fiends take away an opponent’s key cards, Chainer’s Edicts prevent creature rushes, and Rancid Earth slows an enemy down - or just flat out buries him. Nantuko Shade will also make an early appearance if needed. Next comes the real trouble. Once Torment has four or five Swamps in play, it's Mind Sludge time. The ultimate finisher, Sludge puts the opponent in his coffin and nails it shut. If you get hit with a big Sludge, you’re dead where you stand. It’s only a matter of time before the grim reaper’s forces come for you - perhaps a Champ, maybe a Shade if you're lucky. Best to just concede and die peacefully. Or you can wait around and be torn limb from limb.
There is also the slow, painful death. Torment does that too, if need be. A creature Butchered here, another creature Butchered, an Edict here, a Rancid Earth there, some hits from Fiends, Butchers, and Swarms. Nothing big, but before you know it, you’re dead.
Torment can beat you in different ways - none of them pleasant. Bone-crunching is more like it.
How did Torment become the executioner it is today? Always regarded as one of the top decks, Torment nonetheless started off humbly, losing in the second round to Legends in the first BOTS tournament. Torment improved quickly, sweeping defending champ Apocalypse in the second BOTS tourney before ultimately losing a tough 3-2 decision match to Masques. Torment edged still closer to the big prize in BOTS III. In the Top 4, Torment led eventual champion Mirrodin 2-1, only to watch as the Affinity deck rallied for the win. A huge disappointment - but just as Antiquities had, Torment was paying its dues, forging strength from the intense fire of the tournament’s late rounds, gaining experience. Just like Antiquities, Torment also had a personal nemesis of its own - Legends. The two met once again in BOTS IV, and once again Legends knocked Torment out in a second round sweep. Torment could only watch with envy as Antiquities walked away with its first title. But Torment’s wait wouldn’t be very long - BOTS V would be Torment’s breakthrough, its tribute to evil. Dominating the early rounds with sweeps over Visions and Urza’s Legacy, Torment met Onslaught in the division finals. A convincing 3-1 dismantling propelled Torment back into the Top 4, where it again met Mirrodin. This time, Torment turned the tables and dropped the affinity deck with extreme prejudice, 3-1. In the finals, Apocalypse gave Torment a little more than it bargained for - but in the end, Torment produced a commanding game five performance to capture its first title.
Now, after four straight massacres in this tournament, Torment finds itself back in the finals, on the verge of a remarkable achievement - back to back titles against a highly competitive field. Standing in the way is Antiquities - Torment’s counterpart in destruction. Torment wouldn’t have it any other way, nor would Antiquities. Let the battle begin.
So there you have it - your BOTS VI finals matchup. The power of cold steel in a contest against pure evil. A ruthless artifact death machine versus a wicked agent of evil. Both have pillaged, raped, and destroyed to get here. Both have left the battlefield littered with the bodies of those who dared stand in the way of the inevitable confrontation - the inevitable fight to the death between the two mighty machines. This was the match that had to happen. All that has come before was just the prelude to the coming storm. Now there is nothing left but ……
….THE ULTIMATE SHOWDOWN!
Check back later today to see what happened…if you can handle it.
SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Not for individuals with heart problems, erectile dysfunction, or extreme sensitivity to excitement. If you are pregnant, please consider less strenuous activities such as croquet or backgammon. If you need to vomit at any time, don’t hesitate, but please use the bags provided. Do note, however, that there is no risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Whoever told you that needs to get their facts straight.
Thank you, enjoy the show.
ANTIQUITIES defeats TORMENT 3-1 to win Battle of the Sets VI !
Antiquities is the ultimate champion! In an epic confrontation, Antiquities emerged victorious and proved to be the mightiest of all combatants subjected to the demanding rigors of Battle of the Sets.
On the line was the right to be called the best - to become the first two-time Battle of the Sets champion. Both decks checked in with 12-1 records thus far in the tournament - as if they had ruthlessly annihilated their competition for the sole purpose of finding a worthy adversary - each other. Let the ultimate showdown begin….
Torment won the die roll 11-6, and the match was underway. Antiquities had the first play with Candelabra of Tawnos off Urza’s Tower, while Torment summoned a turn two Nantuko Shade. Antiquities seized the advantage with a Mishra’s Workshop, which pumped out Tetravus thanks to the Candelabra. The Workshop’s contribution ended after that as Torment Rancid Earthed the super-land.
Conscious of Torment’s Chainer’s Edicts and Faceless Butchers, Antiquities wished to avoid taking a bath on its investment in the Tetravus. Consequently, during Antiquities’s upkeep, three Tetravites broke off to form a four-way air armada (along with the original Tetravus). Even better, another Workshop hit the table, allowing for Clockwork Avian to make its first appearance of the contest (with one point of mana burn). Both combatants were at 19 after the original Tetravus attacked. Torment got the turn back and Butchered the Avian. Shade also hit for two, giving Torment a brief lead in the life totals.
Meanwhile, the Tet Offensive was underway on the other side, as the Antiquities air brigade delivered four points of damage.
Antiquities then played its third Workshop (!) of the game, and now with the ability to produce nine mana, used all of it for Tawnos’s Coffin, Su-Chi, and another Candelabra.
As Antiquities concluded its turn, the situation was:
LAND: Antiquities: 2 Workshops & Tower
Torment: 4 Swamps
CREATURES: Antiquities: Tetravus, 3 Tetravites, Su-Chi
Torment: Shade & Butcher (covering Avian)
OTHER PERMANENTS: Antiquities: Tawnos’s Coffin & 2 Candelabras
LIFE: Antiquities: 17
Advantage Antiquities. Torment played a fifth Swamp and fortified its position with a Shambling Swarm (which importantly had the potential to kill the Tetravites). Antiquities dropped Urza’s Mine and continued swarming through the air, dropping Torment to 11. Then Antiquities really put the screws to Torment with a Triskelion.
Torment was on the run, and lashed out with an attack from Shade and Swarm (after laying a sixth land). The Swarm went through, but the Shade was blocked by Su-Chi. Torment elected to pump Shade to 4/3, effectuating the trade and leaving Antiquities with four mana from the Chi, three of which went into the Coffin to phase out the Swarm (thereby ensuring the continuing success of the Tet Offensive) and one of which went into a Candelabra.
Antiquities next shot down the Butcher with Trisk, leaving Torment with no creatures, 11 life, and the prospect of an assault from the Avian, Tetravus, Tetravites, and mini-Trisk. Faced with this impossible situation, Torment conceded and saved Antiquities the trouble.
Antiquities 1, Torment 0
Antiquities again seized the early advantage, powering out a turn one Onulet with a Workshop. Mesmeric Fiend showed up for the first time, stealing a Triskelion. Antiquities pulled further ahead, adding a Power Plant, summoning Su-Chi, and commencing the Onulet beatings. Torment Rancid Earthed the Workshop, a necessary step, but one that left Antiquities with another turn of unopposed bashing. Antiquities added another Power Plant and a Candelabra, sending Onulet and Chi in for 6 damage.
Torment got back in the game on its fourth turn, casting Chainer’s Edict (killing Onulet and gaining 2 life for Antiquities) and Nantuko Shade. Fiend hit for one and it was back to Antiquities. The Chi smashed again, making the life totals 21-8 in favor of Antiquities, which also dropped a Mishra’s Factory. Shade hit for two and was joined by another Shade and a fifth Swamp. Antiquities ratcheted up the pressure, summoning another Chi, while the original traded in combat with the new Shade. The Chi mana went into the Factory and the turn was back to Torment. Laquatus’s Champion joined the party, significantly cutting into Antiquites’s lead. The life totals stood at 13-8 in favor of the artifact deck.
The remaining Chi went on the attack and was chumped by Shade while the Champion stood back with no regeneration mana available. Antiquities dropped another Candelabra and passed.
Torment then put Antiquities on the defensive by flashing back Chainer’s Edict, taking care of the Chi and leaving Antiquities’s board clear. Antiquities could have animated the Factory to save the Chi, but that would have left Antiquities with only three lands, too high a price for keeping Chi around, so Antiquities opted to let Chi go.
However, Antiquities animated the Factory upon the Chi’s death, using two of the Chi mana to sink into animating the Factory, which tapped to make itself 3/3, then the other two Chi mana for each Candelabra to untap Mishra for defense against the Champion. With a 4/4 Factory available to block, the Champion declined the attack since no regeneration mana was available. The Fiend also held back. Had Torment attacked, Antiquities would have been down to three lands after blocking, but Torment would have lost its monster and restored Antiquities to 19 life.
Antiquities was now in some trouble, with only four mana in play and facing down the Champion with only a Factory as a potential board presence. But then the Antiquities flair for the dramatic kicked in - a Workshop on the draw! This facilitated the appearance of a Tetravus with the use of Workshop, an Urza land, and a Candelabra, leaving the Factory and two other Urza lands untapped.
However, Torment was unimpressed and uncorked another Champion, instantly pulling Torment ahead, 8-7. The other Champion attacked, and Antiquities was obliged to chump block with the Factory.
Antiquities responded by making three Tetravites during upkeep and attacking with the original Tetravus to even the life totals at 7. The artifact deck needed some more pressure to wrap up the game before the Champions would, and Clockwork Avian satisfied this requirement. It was also supplemented with a not-yet-usable Tawnos’s Coffin. Antiquities now had 8 flying damage in play, but would need to do some blocking in order to itself survive. At this point, Torment had the two Champions - but it also had the Fiend, which had lurked in the background almost the entire game after stealing the Triskelion on turn two. All of a sudden, the Fiend could prove very important in such a tight situation.
Ultimately, though, Torment faced a dilemma that it could not overcome. It had no cards in hand, and the draw provided nothing of use. This, then, was Torment’s dilemma: it could attack with all three creatures, which would force Antiquities (if Antiquities played it correctly) to block a Champion and a Fiend to stay alive (Antiquities would be at 1 life after that). Antiquities would lose two Tetravites in the exchange, and have only 6 flying damage on the table after that, not enough to finish off Torment the next turn (Torment would also fall to 1 life from such an attack). But if the Fiend died (which it would if Antiquities blocked correctly), Antiquities would get its Triskelion back in hand, which would be more than enough for Antiquities to win on its next turn. Torment could also decline to attack with the Fiend, but this strategy would prove even worse, as Antiquities could instead use the Coffin next turn on the Fiend to get the Triskelion back - and win with the Trisk and flyers anyway. Faced with these two scenarios, Torment sent all three creatures on the attack in an evil fit of rage. Antiquities predictably blocked a Champion and a Fiend, and the artifact deck had gained a commanding 2-0 lead in the series.
Antiquities 2, Torment 0
After the close loss in game two, Torment now needed three straight victories to win the ultimate showdown. Antiquities was definitely in charge, but you never want to let an opponent as dangerous as Torment off the deck, because once the door is left even slightly ajar, anything can happen. All of the pressure was on Torment, down 0-2 - but if Antiquities were to lose this game, suddenly at least a bit of the pressure would go back to Antiquites in game four. The close-out win is often the hardest of the three, especially when faced with a powerful and desperate opponent.
Realizing this, Antiquities resolved to treat this game as if it was the decider. But that would not be enough, as desperate Torment clawed back into the series with a frenetic burst of effort.
You didn’t really believe that the ultimate showdown would end in a sweep, did you?
Antiquities opened with a Factory and Candelabra, while Torment summoned a turn two Shade. Antiquities did not have a Workshop, and could only play another Factory. Without a Workshop, everything changes. For the first time in the match, Torment could dictate the play - the game would be played Torment’s way, at Torment’s pace. The Shade hit for two, and Rancid Earth knocked out a Factory. Torment had an excellent draw, exactly what it needed to stay alive, while Antiquities was struggling.
Even if Torment didn’t win the match, it wouldn’t fall without a fight. Yes, Torment was not going to walk away empty-handed, and it was not going down without inflicting some serious pain as the price of victory for its adversary. Torment doesn’t lose very much - and when it does, it will make sure the victor knows it was in a fight to the death.
Antiquities added another Factory, and could only attack for two before passing back. Torment added another Shade. The original clobbered Antiquities for another 4 damage. Antiquities found nothing of use on the draw, played a Tower, and was finished. Torment unleashed both Shades. Both went unblocked, and Antiquities took the maximum amount of pain, dropping to 5 life.
Antiquities’s uncanny topdecking aptitude continued when another Workshop showed up on the next draw, but it was just a little too late - even though for a moment, the opposite seemed true. Triskelion surfaced once again to shoot down both Shades, and it did seem as if Antiquities had stabilized. But Torment was unfazed and Butchered the Trisk (which shot its last counter at Torment). Antiquities Stripped a Swamp, desperate to avoid a game-ending Champion arrival (leaving Torment with four Swamps) and replenished its board position with a 3/3 Clay. Torment had yet another Butcher, and under it went the Clay. The Factories held Butcher at bay, and Antiquities had a little more time to find some escape from the quagmire it was in.
Another Strip Mine left Torment with only three Swamps and Tetravus improved Antiquities’s situation some more. Torment lacked a fourth Swamp, but badly damaged Antiquities with a Rancid Earth on the Workshop. Antiquities used the opening to make Tetravites, thankful that that the Tetravus had survived, but without the Workshop to make any further gains. Onulet joined the team off the remaining lands, Tetravus attacked, and the life totals were 16-5 in favor of Torment.
Torment found a fourth Swamp before the situation could deteriorate further and placed the Onulet under the nightmarish control of a third Butcher. Now the two active Butchers faced only the three Tetravites - not enough to deter a double attack. Antiquities fell to 1 life, but found a fourth land (Urza’s Mine) to drop a Su-Chi, a safe play even at 1 life with Candelabra and the Factories in play for mana sinks. One Tetravite attacked, leaving the life totals at 15-1 Torment. Torment had Antiquities on the ropes, but couldn’t finish it just yet, instead playing a very useful Shambling Swarm. Antiquities made a 3/3 Clay, and this time held back all four 1/1 flyers.
Torment attacked with the Swarm, and Antiquities had no choice but to block, which of course is exactly what Torment wanted. The Tetravites blocked, and Torment used the three Swarm counters to kill the Clay. Torment then pushed Antiquities over the edge with another Swarm to replace the fallen one. Antiquities could play another Su-Chi, but would not have enough blockers to survive if it did that. So Antiquites was forced to take its chances with the matchup of 1/1 Tetravus, two Factories, and Su-Chi backed by just the 1 life vs. the three Butchers and the Swarm. This was all moot, though, as Torment showed the Chainer’s Edict it needed to immediately end the game.
Antiquities 2, Torment 1
Now the pressure shifted back to Antiquities a little. Antiquities still had the upper hand, and Torment was up against tough odds (needing to win two games in a row with Antiquities playing first both times). But Antiquities didn’t want to risk facing the vagaries of a winner-take-all game five - where anything can happen and one misstep can mean disaster - so it was imperative to just end the damn thing right now before Torment could rise all the way from the dead.
Indeed, after game two, Torment was in its coffin with the lid closed and the nails about to be hammered in. Now the lid was at least somewhat ajar and Torment was getting ready to emerge from the coffin. A win here and Torment would kick the lid off, getting ready to emerge for a remarkable resurrection.
Anyone who’s seen "Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives" knows it's a really bad idea to open up coffins, especially when unspeakable evil lies within - and it's an even worse idea to start messing around with the corpse. Don’t stick it with a fence pole. Don’t pour gasoline on it. Just leave the accursed thing alone and be happy you’re not underground either.
Fortunately, longtime horror buff Antiquities has learned this lesson well. It was time to put Torment where it belongs - in hell.
The artifact deck had the opening hand it needed to accomplish this objective, leading with Urza’s Power Plant + Candelabra. Torment played its Swamp and hoped that Antiquities’s first turn was just the sign of a mediocre hand rather than a Workshop draw. It was the latter, of course, and Antiquities churned out a 3/3 Clay. Mesmeric Fiend took care of a Tetravus, but Torment did not like what it saw. Antiquities held a great hand - it had merely kept the Tetravus back to let the Clay test the waters for Edicts. Clay bashed for three, while Antiquities bettered its mana with Urza’s Tower and dropped a Clockwork Avian. Torment did indeed have an Edict, which killed the Clay.
With Clay dead, Avian picked up the slack, inflicting four damage through the skies to leave Torment at 13. Even better, Antiquities added a second Avian to really step up the pressure.
Torment needed immediate relief from Antiquities’s relentless offensive. The relief arrived in the form of a Butcher, which provided a smothering solution to the second Avian. This allowed the Fiend to nip Antiquities for a sneaky point of damage.
Torment was hanging on, but the Antiquities death machine was firing on all pistons, sustaining the momentum with Su-Chi and Onulet. Moreover, Antiquities still had the original Avian - and the metallic pterodactyl continued to reign supreme in the skies, reducing Torment to 10.
Nantuko Shade joined the battle and another Fiend relieved Antiquities of a Coffin. However, Torment failed to make its fifth land drop and was still reeling from the continuous blast of artifact creatures.
As the turn went back to Antiquities, the board situation was:
LAND: Antiquities: Workshop, Power Plant, Tower
Torment: 4 Swamps (all tapped)
CREATURES: Antiquities: 2/4 Avian, Su-Chi, Onulet
Torment: Shade, Butcher (covering second Avian), 2 Fiends (holding down
Tetravus & Coffin)
OTHER PERMANENTS: Antiquities: Candelabra
LIFE: Antiquities: 19
Antiquities was closing in on the title, and went for the kill. During upkeep, the Avian recharged to 4/4 in preparation for the final assault. This left Antiquities without the services of Tower, Power Plant, and Avian for the turn, but nicely positioned for the endgame.
With its adversary on the ropes, Antiquities sent Su-Chi on the attack, which forced Torment to make an unpleasant choice of whether or not to chump block with the 2/1 Shade (blocking with any of the three other creatures was not really an option given the fact that all three held down game-breakers - Butcher covered Avian, Fiend #1 Tetravus, and Fiend #2 Coffin).
Torment was in a tight spot. If it allowed the Chi to go through, Antiquities would only need two more attacks from the unblockable Avian to close out the match. Torment would only have two chances to find the Butcher needed to kill the Avian.
On the other hand, if Torment blocked with the Shade, the black deck would gain one, possibly two extra chances to find the needed Butcher by conserving four precious life points (starting with Torment at 10, The Avian’s first attack would reduce Torment to 6, the second attack to 3, the third attack to 1, and then one final attack - of course, this math assumes Antiquities not finding some other damage source to accelerate the process). Plus, the black deck had a Shambling Swarm waiting in the wings to tie up the ground. So with the threat of the charged-up Avian looming, Torment reluctantly threw the 2/1 Shade in front of the Chi. Antiquities played another Tower and passed.
Torment still nursed faint hopes, but things were slipping away. In order to extend the game, Torment needed that Butcher in short order to shut down the Avian. Time was running out on the forces of evil. The black deck had only three (maybe four) more draws to find the required Butcher or else the Avian would end the match.
The first draw produced the elusive fifth Swamp instead. Torment just had to hope for the best, and at least bettered its position somewhat with the aforementioned Swarm and fifth Swamp before passing.
The Avian went to work, dropping Torment to 6. Antiquities added a Factory and Torment got the turn back.
The second draw? Rancid Earth. The Workshop disappeared, but Antiquities still had four lands in play with the Avian bearing down. The clock continued to tick away on Torment, and that clock only ticked faster when Antiquities drew its next card - Rocket Launcher. The Avian dropped Torment to 3 - and now with the Rocket Launcher’s promise of 2 damage the following turn, Torment was down to its last chance to find the Butcher.
Could Torment extend the game? The draw…..
…Swamp - Antiquities was once more Battle of the Sets Champion!
Antiquities 3, Torment 1
And so the epic confrontation has come to an end after four spectacular games. Antiquities has its second championship, the Battle of the Sets VI title, and victory in the ultimate showdown.
What of the vanquished? Black-hearted Torment has been defeated, but its foes have nevertheless gained still more respect for its fearsome power and single-minded dedication to evil.
For now, the power of cold steel has smothered the flames of evil. What the future holds, no one can be certain of. But the world is safe - for now.
Congratulations to Antiquities, Battle of the Sets VI champion and winner of the ultimate showdown!
By Legend on October 25th, 2005 · Filed in General Magic · Comments not available just now