Battle of the Sets VII - Round of 32 Preview, Gamebreakers, and Play-In Report
By Legend on October 31st, 2005 · Filed in General Magic · Comments not available just now
Editor's Note: Hope you've been able to wait this long . If you're anxious for BOTS to get straight to the action, skip down to the last section, results of the Play-In section. Otherwise, enjoy some more format overview and predictions from the author.(1) Mirrodin vs. (8) Stronghold
BATTLE OF THE SETS VII - ROUND OF 32 PREVIEW
Stronghold features an interesting new U/R Dream Halls deck that allowed it to get an outright #8 seed, barely avoiding Play-In division status, but this should be a quick exit. It will be a major surprise if Stronghold takes even a single game from speedy former champ Mirrodin, which returns with its usual lethal arsenal of Disciples, Atogs, Hoverguards, nasty artifact creatures and direct damage.
(4) Urza’s Saga vs. (5) Exodus
Thanks to the possibility of recurring Spike Weavers, among other things, Exodus enjoys some good matchups, particularly against some of the aggro decks in the field. However, this is not one of those matchups. The key card will be Smokestack, which will likely cause Exodus to alter its preferred strategy of steadily building position into a more aggressive style with which it is not comfortable.
(2) Darksteel vs. (7) Alliances
Darksteel got a major overhaul after a disastrous first round exit two tournaments ago, and the formidable artifact deck was rewarded with a Top 8 appearance last time. But considering the possible first round pairings, this was probably not the pairing Darksteel was hoping for. Alliances, armed with a full compliment of four Primitive Justice, could wreak major havoc on Darksteel’s second round aspirations. Pillage and Pyrokinesis figure to make things even tighter. The possibility of an upset is certainly in play here; Darksteel will need to be at its best.
(3) Urza’s Destiny vs. (6) Invasion
Destiny was unable to inflict so much as a single point of damage against Torment in a crushing semifinals sweep that brought a great run to a screeching halt last tournament. Nonetheless, it was a satisfying Top 4 run for Destiny, in fact its furthest advance ever. Now, the green machine faces an opponent it has succeeded against in the past: Invasion. Invasion has had its chances, most recently in a 3-1 opening round loss last time out. Certainly a losable match for Destiny if it stumbles, but nevertheless a comfortable pairing given Destiny’s ability to set up quickly and prevent Invasion from seizing the initiative with Blazing Specters. Don’t count Invasion out, though.
D-1 SUMMARY: Only one potential roadblock stands in the way of a Mirrodin vs. Darksteel showdown - Alliances. If Darksteel can wade through Alliances’s artifact hate and creature removal, little stands in the way of an epic confrontation between the two Mirrodin Block brothers.
(1) Antiquities vs. (8) Nemesis
Nothing to say here - mighty Antiquities is the defending champ and has won two out of the last three BOTS overall. Posting a remarkable 15-2 games record on the way to the BOTS title last time, Antiquities dismissed Homelands, Betrayers of Kamigawa, Judgment, Visions, and finally Torment. Clearly, this opening round match is nothing more than a tune-up for bigger things to come. Go to the kitchen for a snack and this one might be over when you come back.
(4) Betrayers of Kamigawa vs. (5) Scourge
These two creature control decks meet for the first time, and this should to be a close contest between evenly matched foes. Betrayers looks to rebound with conviction after getting bounced by eventual champion Antiquities in a dispiriting second round sweep last time out, while Scourge will hope to improve on its first-round exit to Saga last time out. Final Judgment and Eradicate stand guard against any Eternal Dragon nonsense, while Horobi’s Whisper gives Betrayers the extra removal it needs to ensure a clear path for Genjus. On the other side, Scourge never beats itself, but just doesn’t have any speed with which to overwhelm a more powerful opponent; its only hope is to win with a late Decree of Justice. Fortunately for the mono-White deck, this is a good hope on which to pin its chances - thanks to the deck-thinning of Eternal Dragon, Scourge stands a strong chance of being able to set up backbreaking late-game Decrees. A key for Scourge will be keeping its Eternal Dragons out of play (where they are vulnerable to Final Judgment and Eradicate) and instead moving them repeatedly from hand to graveyard.
(2) Visions vs. (7) Urza’s Legacy
After five tournaments of mostly futility, Visions finally got the present it needed last time - a new deck, and a dominant one at that. Thanks to the devastating Sandsipoise lock, Visions was able to advance all the way to the Top 4 before falling to eventual champ Antiquities - but not before registering complete annihilations of Darksteel and Mirrodin in the second and third rounds. Now, although Visions has sidestepped one of the pairings it couldn’t afford to draw - Planeshift and its Meddling Mages - Visions has drawn a different sort of bad pairing. Urza’s Legacy will present a grave challenge to Visions due to the fact that Legacy’s manlands circumvent the Sandsipoise combo (more on that later in the match report). Visions could be eliminated here if it cannot find its Forbidden Ritual to clear the board of lands (more on that later as well).
(3) Champions of Kamigawa vs. (6) Legends
These two met once before, albeit when Champions made its debut with a different deck. Champions came out on top then, and now has several bombs with which to brush aside an aging Legends deck that only seems to worsen as time passes. Chief among these bombs is Cranial Extraction, which will probably allow Champions to neuter the Legends R/W control deck. Legends’s only hope is to get down an early Land’s Edge and hang in long enough for a win - an unlikely possibility. Instead, Champions should be able to force concessions by recurring Cranial Extraction and Joyous Respite courtesy of Hana Kami/Soulless Revival. A sweep is probably in the cards.
D-2 SUMMARY: Champions of Kamigawa should find its way into the division finals pretty easily since it has excellent matchups against Legends, Visions, and Urza’s Legacy. The only obstacle to Antiquities joining Champions in the division finals will be Scourge or Betrayers in the second round - but Antiquities has beaten both of those potential opponents in the past. Nothing is set in stone, but the possibility of an Antiquities vs. Champions battle looms on the horizon. Antiquities is not guaranteed anything, but should still be considered the favorite until someone finally knocks off the metallic death machine.
(1) Tempest vs. (8) Mirage
Tempest has never lost a first round match, but it faces a surprisingly difficult challenge here. Although Tempest has an answer to the possibility of getting burned out (Capsize lock), setting up such a lock will be dangerously time-consuming, especially considering the speed with which Mirage can build up its manabase. Once Mirage builds up its mana, it has enough burn with which to circumvent the Prayer/Humility lock, chiefly with countermagic-thwarting Hammer of Bogardan. In order to win, Tempest needs to get the creature lock in place early (so as to avoid wasting counters on creatures), then get Capsize going with at least one Sapphire Medallion in play. Easier said than done. A potentially dangerous match for the top seed.
(4) Arabian Nights vs. (5) Ravnica
The storyline here is tailor-made: Magic’s first expansion set meets Magic’s newest expansion. But this matchup will be about much more than the fascinating storyline of old vs. new, of Magic’s rollicking anything-goes early days meeting head-on with the less adventurous modern day, of firewagon frontier times vs. carefully regulated present. This match will feature two old-fashioned creature decks trying to slug the crap out of each other with the time-honored strategy of efficient creatures - and lots of them. One side will go at it with creatures classics familiar to all on a first-name basis - Juzam, Erhnam, and Serendib. The other combatant enters battle for the first time with an array of fascinating newcomers, including Watchwolf, Skynight Legionnaire, Loxodon Hierarch, and the awesome Hunted Dragon. And don’t forget about an old favorite - Birds of Paradise - at long last a part of the BOTS universe, and with the potential to cause serious pain thanks to Moldervine Cloak. One thing to look for will be whether Ravnica can force Arabian Nights out of Library of Alexandria use early on by applying heavy pressure, thereby forcing Arabian into a more frenetic game pace that will favor Ravnica.
(2) Apocalypse vs. (7) Planeshift
Planeshift will be better than it has been in the past, thanks to a brand new U/W/B aggro-control deck headed up by Meddling Mage. Still, Mage and company have drawn a difficult opening round assignment against the first ever BOTS champion, Apocalypse, which swept Onslaught for the title way back in the day. The former champ has not quite been able to go all the way since then, although it came within a single game two tournaments ago before falling to Torment. Here, Apocalypse has a huge advantage here and should advance easily.
(3) Odyssey vs. (6) Legions
Odyssey also debuts a new deck - U/G Threshold/Upheaval. After six tournaments of mostly success with Psychatog, it was time for a change in order to stay strong in a rapidly evolving format. Now, Odyssey appears as strong as ever, with a menagerie of superior animals at its disposal, including vicious Dogs, intelligent talking Bears, recurring Elephants, tricky Mongeese, and gigantic Wurms. Legions, on the other hand, heads into battle with an extremely one-dimensional but still solid attack - Goblins, Goblins, and more Goblins, led of course by a non-Goblin menace, Clickslither. Odyssey expects to make some noise in this tournament, but it better not look past the vicious swarm of Goblins awaiting in round one. After all, those same goblins pushed Psychatog-Odyssey to the full five games in the first round last time out.
D-3 SUMMARY: Division Three presents by far the most wide-open landscape. Anything can, (and probably will) happen. Nobody is safe. With the lone exception of Planeshift, you could make a solid case for any of these combatants winning a first-round match. Even top seed Tempest will feel the heat against Mirage’s burn deck. In a wide-open division such as this, Apocalypse could be a solid choice given its ability to handle any challenge, but then again, it will probably have to climb through two serious challenges in order to do so, particularly if it has to face Odyssey and Ravnica.
(1) Torment vs. (8) Prophecy
Prophecy will hope to get lucky and take a game before bowing out against the monstrosity known as Torment, king of evil. Given that this same matchup resulted in a clean (actually, it was rather messy) sweep to open the previous tournament, that is realistically the best Prophecy can hope for. Torment will be in an especially evil mood after Antiquities vanquished the mono-Black menace 3-1 in a thrilling finals last time out. Torment will accept nothing less than a command performance to start things off this time out. Look for a sickening disembowelment.
(4) Mercadian Masques vs. (5) Judgment
Aside from the Antiquities-Torment finals matchup, Judgment may very well have been the best story last tournament. After disposing of Arabian Nights in a stunning sweep to open up, Judgment shocked Onslaught 3-2 before ultimately falling to Antiquities 3-1 in the quarterfinals. Standing in the way of another magical run is the always tough Mercadian Masques rebel alliance, the rare contestant that can boast of beating Tempest twice. Unfortunately for Masques, its potential hoser Story Circle is nullified by Ray of Revelation, and if the game goes any considerable length, Judgment can stream through for the win thanks to Glory. Masques has only one hope - a blazing Rebel assault backed up by Reverent Mantras and perhaps Cho-Manno’s Blessing. It may not be the easiest thing to pull off against Judgment, but that is what Masques will need in a matchup that it may be at a disadvantage in. Historically, Masques has done well versus Judgment, but that was in the old days when Judgment fielded a different deck. The tables may turn this time.
(2) Onslaught vs. (7) Ice Age
A rematch of last tournament - Ice Age will get another shot at Onslaught, but more importantly another chance to finally get off the dreaded winless list. Yes, despite Necropotence, Ice Age has failed to win a single match in six tournaments thus far, thanks largely to a potent mix of two factors: a surprisingly weak card pool that offers little synergy, and some good old rotten, snakebitten, hideous bad luck. Although Jokulhaups is a serious threat to Onslaught, it has a more than viable plan for defeating Ice Age, which it pulled off last time - drop just enough land to keep Rifts and Slides working, then hold back for a quick recovery after Haups. Indeed, Ice Age has a huge problem in this matchup - it can’t get rid of Onslaught’s potent enchantments. Still, Onslaught managed to survive just barely last time in a 3-2 nailbiter - but will the second go-around be as kind? Onslaught sure hopes so, as it looks to make a third run to the finals, in which it is 0 for 2.[/font][/size]
(3) Fifth Dawn vs. (6) Saviors of Kamigawa
Fifth Dawn has seen the second round - and now it wants more. Standing in the way of that quest is newcomer Saviors of Kamigawa and its solid White Weenie armada. Fifth Dawn looks to be in good shape thanks to the sweeping power of Engineered Explosives, but if Saviors can just hang in and keep a couple of creatures on the board, it may be able to steal a victory or two and make this series a tight sweatfest for Fifth Dawn. The question is whether Saviors can get into position to utilize its lone bomb - Charge Across the Araba - for a game-ending strike. If Fifth Dawn can keep this possibility out of reach for Saviors, expect to see Bringers beating on into round two.
D-4 SUMMARY: This is Torment’s division to lose. Torment has favorable matchups against every single possible opponent in this division. The biggest challenges would come from Mercadian Masques or Onslaught, but Torment has beaten those decks in the past. Moreover, Masques may not even survive the first round against a tough Judgment matchup. Onslaught would also have a tough road to the division finals if it has to face Fifth Dawn on the way.
The controlling Dark actually appears well-positioned for some success, particularly against Weatherlight and Fallen Empires. But you just never know with Hymn to Tourach, the single most powerful card in the Play-In division. That factor alone gives Fallen Empires a chance to get out of this muck and into the main event. Meanwhile, Homelands looks competitive, with all-around solid matchups. But will that translate into some success for the downtrodden weak sister? As for Nemesis, it would appear to have an edge against its four adversaries, but they each have some nasty surprises in store for the possible “favorite.” Stay tuned for some exciting action from the bottom feeder circuit, as the biggest losers in BOTS history compete for the booby prize - a date with defending champion Antiquities. Yikes.
PLAY-IN SUMMARY: Nemesis is the best overall deck in this division of bottom-feeders and muck-dwellers. It has the most powerful collection of cards, including Blastoderm, Saproling Burst, and Parallax Wave. Fallen Empires could throw a monkey wrench into Nemesis’s plans with some Hymn to Tourach insanity, but barring that Nemesis is in commanding position to punch a ticket into the main event.
Feature: 10 Gamebreakers that Define the Format
Any format or tournament metagame invariably has a few cards, or combinations of cards, that define the format. These are the gamebreakers - the most important and powerful cards or card combinations in a tournament environment, typically those powerful cards or combinations that are critical to the success of the top decks in that tournament environment. Here’s a brief look at the Top 10 gamebreakers in the Battle of the Sets format:
1. Mishra’s Workshop (Antiquities)
Mishra’s Workshop, the most important card in the best deck, gets the top spot on this list. Antiquities, that metallic machine of destruction and devastation, has been the most successful deck in BOTS history, having amassed the highest winning percentage and two championships (the only deck to win more than one title). The catalyst for this success has been Mishra’s Workshop, which allows Antiquities to overwhelm opponents with outrageous blasts of early-game artifact creatures, and then, if necessary, to keep the pressure up on into the mid-game - if an opponent can manage to drag its battered wreck of a body that far. Many an opponent has withered under the pressure of dreaded Antiquities starts such as: turn one Onulet, turn two Su-Chi, turn three Clockwork Avian. Or perhaps turn two Tetravus, turn three Triskelion (possible either with a Workshop and a Candelabra, or with a pair of Workshops). No matter what variation on the Workshop opening Antiquities comes up with, an early Workshop almost always means the same thing: one more victory for Antiquities in its continuing quest for unmatched greatness and widespread destruction.
2. Laquatus’s Champion - (Torment)
Although at first glance many would consider Laquatus’s Champion to be a great creature, but nothing more than that, this dreaded agent of evil has become the top assassin for the second-most successful deck on BOTS history. In this environment, Champion has the freedom to run amok and pursue its dreams of evil, carnage, death, pestilence - well, you get the point: if it relates to evil or death, Champion wants a piece of the action. Though it has never been banned or restricted in any constructed format, Champion is certainly a great creature - and in BOTS, it is arguably the most important creature, at least if ‘most important’ is measured by involvement in closing out games and matches for its set. Yes, Champion will never be banned in a format, like say, Disciple of the Vault, but in BOTS, Champion is a force of total annihilation. Indeed, Champion is the undisputed closer for a Torment deck that has a win and a finals appearance in the last two tournaments, as well as the second highest winning percentage in BOTS history. Thanks to its regeneration ability, Champion and its six points of bone-crushing power has proven almost impossible to remove as desperate opponents vainly search for a way out, a stay of execution on the face of so merciless and persistent and executioner. Many a game has come to an abrupt and stunning end for opponents who were safely planning for the future at a nice, comfortable life total, only to run into this feared two-turn play: Champion, attack with Champion, play another Champion. Usually, though, one Champion is more than enough to carry out Torment’s grim executions.
3. Prayer/Humility (Orim’s Prayer/Humility) (Tempest)[/size][/font]
Although Tempest is still searching for a second title to add to its BOTS II championship, it remains a huge factor in the environment and is still in the Top 5 all-time in winning percentage. The reason for this success is simple: the Prayer/Humility combo shuts creature decks down cold, and BOTS is a format dominated by creatures. In fact, Tempest and Visions are the only creatureless decks. In a format that is all about creatures, a deck built to exploit this biodiversity can feast - which is exactly what Tempest has done. Tempest has not matched its level of earlier success, but it remains an important part of the format because any deck that entertains serious hopes of winning the tournament may have to face Tempest in the later rounds. Even if Tempest doesn’t do well in a particular tournament, the presence of dangerous enchantments such as Prayer and Humility has forced some decks to at least consider, and in many cases actually pack, ways to either deal with, or circumvent lockdown enchantments such as Prayer and Humility. Tempests’s influence, therefore, extends beyond the playing arena, thanks to its frustrating Prayer/Humility combination.
4. Pernicious Deed (Apocalypse)
When Apocalypse captured the first-ever BOTS championship, it was clear that over the course of the championship run, the MVP had been Pernicious Deed. Along with Antiquities, Torment, Tempest, Mirrodin, and Onslaught, Apocalypse is part of an exclusive club of sets that have amassed a match winning percentage of .700 or higher. Indeed, despite a couple of missteps along the way, Apocalypse has continued in its winning ways over the balance of BOTS history (its furthest advance since the win was a finals appearance in BOTS V), and even though several cards have been critical to this success, Pernicious Deed has stood out even above the other powerful cards that comprise the Apocalypse juggernaut. Phyrexian Arena keeps the cards flowing, and Spiritmonger or Desolation Angel are usually there to finish things up. However, it is Deed that allows Apocalypse to maintain control of the board position more often than not. Because of Deed, or even just the possibility of Deed, opponents are often forced to play Apocalypse’s way. The board-sweeping power of Deed has been incredibly useful in various constructed-level decks over the years, and that invaluable utility has continued in BOTS, where Apocalypse carries on the board-sweeping tradition.
5. Disciple of the Vault (Mirrodin)
A set that has had as much BOTS success as Mirrodin certainly needed at least one representative on this list. There were plenty of candidates, and one other also made the list (Artifact lands), but Disciple of the Vault is clearly the most ridiculous card in a deck filled with ridiculously powerful cards. It goes without saying that Mirrodin’s affinity deck would not be possible without the artifact lands. But as far as pure gamebreaking power goes, Disciple takes the prize for Mirrodin. Take away Disciple, and Mirrodin is still a good deck, but nowhere near the fearsome force it is with Disciple. Not only does Disciple form one half of a deadly game-ending combination with Atog, it augments almost every other element of the Mirrodin war machine. Pyrite Spellbombs suddenly become three damage grenades instead of two, and cause life loss even if sacrificed to draw a card. Shrapnel Blasts become even more lethal. Even killing Myr Enforcers or Frogmites comes with a price for opponents. The extra life loss here and there adds up. But perhaps the best feature of Disciple if its overall random win factor: Mirrodin can come out of nowhere to randomly win games that opponents seem to have in hand. Disciple was banned in Extended and Standard. In BOTS, however, anything goes, and with Disciple on board, it seems that anything is possible for Mirrodin.
6. Rift & Slide (Lightning Rift & Astral Slide) (Onslaught)
By the time the first BOTS tournament was played, Astral Slide decks had already provided success for their owners in Standard and Onslaught Block tournaments. That success translated easily into a Rift/Slide deck for BOTS, as the basic Rift/Slide deck structure was imported into the format with no difficulty. Onslaught made a run to the finals of the very first BOTS tournament, and added another finals appearance in BOTS IV. Although Onslaught’s enchantment package does not result in a total creature lockout the likes of Tempest’s Prayer/Humility, the results is the same: annihilation of creature decks. Lightning Rift in particular has lived up to its lofty status earned in Standard and Onslaught Block tournaments, providing Onslaught with removal and an efficient path to victory. Throw in plenty of awesome cycling cards and four Exalted Angels, and you’ve got one of the best decks in all of BOTS.
7. Urzatron, or Urza Trinity (Urza’s Tower, Urza’s Mine, & Urza’s Power Plant) (Antiquities)[/size][/font]
Mishra’s Workshop may be the heart of the Antiquities death machine, but the Urzatron, or Urza Trinity, has also played a major role in the success of Antiquities. Thanks to this holy trinity, Antiquities has been able to win countless games entirely without the benefit of Workshop. In some cases, particularly in the mid-game the trinity is even more powerful than Workshop (especially with a Candelabra in play to generate obscene amounts of mana). As soon as Antiquities gets all three Urza lands into play, it has access to at least seven mana (three from Tower, two from Mine, two from Power Plant) from those lands, and obviously much more if more than three Urza lands are in play. This sudden explosion of mana has allowed Antiquities to turn standstills into routs, to shockingly power past rattled opponents who can only chalk it up to the familiar refrain: “I just ran into a buzzsaw.” What else can an opponent say after getting Rocket Launched for ten or more points of damage, or getting dumped on by a pair of Triskelions? When facing Antiquities, fear the Workshop, but fear also the Urzatron.
8. Artifact Lands (Great Furnace, Seat of the Synod, Vault of Whispers) (Mirrodin)[/size][/font]
Mirrodin’s other entrant into this list are the indispensable artifact lands. Without these foundational cards, Mirrodin’s affinity deck is not possible. These lands were banned in Standard for good reason: they fuel one of the best mechanic-based decks ever, the explosive Affinity archetype in all its various absurd incarnations. The power of these artifact lands can be distilled simply: whenever an artifact land comes into play, Mirrodin gets a two-mana boost - the mana produced by the land, plus the reduction in casting cost for all of its affinity cards.
9. Skullclamp & Arcbound Ravager (Darksteel) [/size][/font]
Skullclamp was banned in its own Mirrodin Block format, in Standard, and in Extended. There is really nothing more that needs to be said about this unbelievably powerful card. Much like a hated predator that kills livestock, Skullclamp has been hunted, poisoned and harassed out of several constructed formats due to its “undesirable” effects on competition. Yes, Skullclamp has been forced onto the dark fringes of Magic deckbuilding, onto the periphery reserved for only the truly broken black sheep of Wizards R & D. Fortunately, Skullclamp has found a home in the BOTS format. Here, there is only one rule when it comes to battle: no-holds barred, rough and tumble. Banned list? Bah. As for Arcbound Ravager, it gets included with Skullclamp simply because they are the one-two punch of banned brokenness that powers makes the Darksteel doom industry. Ravager gets second billing, though, since it was banned in only one format: Standard. Skullclamp and Ravager would be higher on this list based on their intrinsic raw power, but as Darksteel has yet to make a finals appearance, they fall a bit lower. Darksteel has already enjoyed a good bit of success, though, and its day will come.
10. Hana Kami (Champions of Kamigawa)
What? Is that a misprint? Hana Kami? Yes, rounding out the list is the humble-but-deadly Hana Kami, the key cog in the Champions of Kamigawa locomotive. Big things are expected both in this particular tournament and in the future for the new Champions deck, a recursion-based design that recycles annoying cards such as Cranial Extraction, Ethereal Haze, Joyous Respite, and Wear Away as needed. Well, describing Cranial Extraction as annoying may be a bit of an understatement. Having one’s entire library completely neutered by a recurring Extraction is more than just a mere annoyance. But Hana Kami, coupled with Soulless Revival, will turn this and other nasty possibilities into reality for befuddled and frustrated opponents.
There are just too many gamebreakers in BOTS to go without at least a pair of honorable mentions:
The power of Upheaval is known to all, and in the past, this card has aided Odyssey in achieving a great deal of success. Now, however, Odyssey will embark on a new era, moving from Psychatog to U/G Threshold. The one constant will be Upheaval (along with Standstill and Aether Burst), which will now join Wild Mongrel and company to form what is expected to be one of the elite decks in BOTS for many, many tournaments to come. Odyssey is still searching for its first finals appearance, but this may be just the deck Odyssey needs to eventually go all the way.
Sandsipoise Combo (Sands of Time & Equipoise) (Visions)
No wonder Visions went from muck-dweller to all the way to the top levels of the food chain last time out: its new Sandsipoise deck was just the trick the downtrodden set needed. Thanks to the brutal creature lock provided by the combination of Sands of Time and Equipoise, Visions looks to have a very bright future as one of the better decks in the format. Now, after a semifinals appearance last time out, it will be interesting to see whether or not Visions can build on its first success with stronger showings.
PLAY-IN DIVISION REPORT
Nemesis was randomly awarded the bye. Meanwhile, Homelands swept Weatherlight and Fallen Empires disposed of The Dark 3-2. In the Homelands/Weatherlight contest, the outcome was decided by several factors: (1) Spectral Bears was a 3/3 for two with no drawback, (2) The irritating protection from black [card]Death Speakers/card], (3) Serrated Arrows and Roots provided plenty of defense on the ground, and (4) Abbey Gargoyles (with help from Serrated Arrows) and Leaping Lizard protected the skies against Morinfen and Circling Vultures.
Meanwhile, in the Fallen Empires/The Dark match, it was all about Hymn to Tourach, far and away the most powerful card in the Play-In Division. Hymn can win matches for Fallen Empires single-handedly, and that is pretty much what happened here. Particularly brutal was the double-Hymn opening in game five that left The Dark doubled over and gasping for air. The pair of Hymns liquidated two Wormwood Treefolk, a Preacher, and a Tracker.
Homelands was randomly awarded the bye. This pitted Fallen Empires against Nemesis, and this time Hymn to Tourach was not enough to balance a total mismatch. The Fallen Empires/Nemesis match featured repeated Blastoderm massacres and Saproling Burst smashings.
In a short and brutal finals, Nemesis dismantled Homelands in three straight. Homelands, lacking any ability to adapt to the matchup and go on the offensive, had no chance because both of these decks are mid-range decks, but Nemesis has much more powerful cards across the board. When the best one deck can manage is early Death Speaker and Aysen Bureaucrat beatings, you just know its not going to be a long match.
Nemesis wins the prize, taking the Play-In Division and earning the right to face defending champion Antiquities in the first round (the booby prize)!
Join me next time as I'll go over some of the other matches in Round 1!
By Legend on October 31st, 2005 · Filed in General Magic · Comments not available just now