Battle of the Sets VII - Round of 16 Match Reports
By Legend on November 10th, 2005 · Filed in General Magic · Comments not available just now
Round of 16 Match Reports
Don't have a clue what this is? Then read this. Already well-versed in the ways of the BOTS? Then read on and I'll get right to the action!
(1) Mirrodin d. (4) Urza’s Saga, 3-0
In a matchup of degenerate artifact decks, Mirrodin proved far too fast for Saga to handle. Mirrodin cruises into the Division Finals, where it will face…
(2) Darksteel d. (7) Invasion, 3-0
…Darksteel, which crushed Invasion in about ten minutes. Right from the start, Division One was nothing more than a bloody battleground on which the Mirrodin Affinity annihilator and the Darksteel modular machine destroyed overmatched opponents who dared stand in the way of the inevitable showdown between the two.
(1) Antiquities d. (5) Scourge, 3-1
The last time these two met was in the BOTS IV Division Finals, where Antiquities fell into an 0-2 hole before the mighty artifact deck staged one of the most dramatic rallies in BOTS history to capture the final three games. From there, Antiquities went on to win its first championship. This time, though, Antiquities spotted Scourge only a single game before striking back with three straight commanding performances. The Antiquities death machine, that seemingly unbeatable industry of doom, steams into the division finals focused on its goal of becoming the first repeat champion (and first dynasty) in BOTS history.
(3) Champions of Kamigawa d. (3) Urza’s Legacy, 3-0
Once more, Champions dispatched an overmatched opponent in sweeping fashion. But this kid’s stuff is all over now - Antiquities awaits in the division finals for what should be a fascinating bout.
*Feature Match* - - - - - (2) Apocalypse d. (3) Odyssey, 3-2
Three cards will be key for Apocalypse: Pernicious Deed, Phyrexian Arena, and Spectral Lynx. Deed provides Apocalypse with an answer to Odyssey’s horde of efficient creatures, Arena can ensure that Apocalypse keep its advantage after stopping the initial rush, and Lynx offers generally excellent defense against an all-Green opposing attack (although Wild Mongrel can change colors, which is an issue only if Apocalypse does not have regeneration mana available). On the other side, the key cards for Odyssey are Standstill and Upheaval. If Odyssey can back up its early creatures with Standstill, then Odyssey has a strong chance of keeping up or even pulling head of Apocalypse in the card battle. Standstill dropped onto a board favoring Odyssey means that Apocalypse will at least have to pay a price for using Deed or other removal - a price that Odyssey needs to make Apocalypse pay. Upheaval is the second key card because it can steal victory for Odyssey even after Apocalypse has turned the game in its favor. So long as Odyssey has an Upheaval and a creature to drop after floating mana, imminent defeat can be turned into almost certain victory.
Odyssey won the die roll and started out with Nimble Mongoose + Wild Mongrel. Meanwhile, Apocalypse established its defenses with a Spectral Lynx. Odyssey added a Werebear, but Apocalypse began to pull ahead thanks to Phyrexian Arena while the Spectral Lynx played defense. Another Lynx joined the effort to keep Odyssey stymied. From this point forward, Apocalypse would sustain almost no life loss aside from Phyrexian Arena. Although Apocalypse fell as low as 6, (one turn after Odyssey gained threshold with a Call of the Herd) it was never in danger of losing thanks to the constant flow of cards from the Phyrexian Arena. Apocalypse kept things under control with a three-point Death Grasp to kill the Wild Mongrel and a Vindicate to kill the Werebear. After those two creatures were removed, Odyssey still had an Elephant token and a fresh Roar of the Wurm token. Nonetheless, all of Odyssey’s efforts were rendered moot when Apocalypse finally found its first Pernicious Deed (popped for zero), then followed that up with a Gerrard’s Verdict to knock out an Upheaval. Desolation Angel and the pair of Spectral Lynxes closed it out from there.
Apocalypse 1, Odyssey 0
Once again, Odyssey was off to a promising start with Nimble Mongoose + Wild Mongrel, but just like in the first game Apocalypse defended with turn two Spectral Lynx and pulled ahead with an early Phyrexian Arena. Odyssey seized the initiative temporarily with an AEther Burst on the Spectral Lynx to pave the way for a Standstill, then another Aether Burst when the Lynx returned to play. By this point, Odyssey had threshold and was able to reduce Apocalypse to a precarious 4 life thanks to several attacks from the Nimble Mongoose and Wild Mongrel. Apocalypse fell to 3 from the Phyrexian Arena, but once more produced the necessary Pernicious Deed at the last possible moment to clear the board. A freshly drawn Werebear put the pressure back on Apocalypse, which fell to 2 from the Phyrexian Arena, then to 1 tapping a Caves of Koilos for White mana. But a four-point Death Grasp provided the Junk deck with more breathing room. Odyssey responded one more time with a Roar of the Wurm token, and Apocalypse lost two more life (one to Phyrexian Arena, one to Caves of Koilos for white mana), but eliminated the Wurm problem thanks to a Vindicate. The Aether Bursted Spectral Lynx returned to roam in the empty board. The board wasn’t empty for long, though, as the Lynx gained the unwelcome company of a Nimble Mongoose and an Elephant token. Another Pernicious Deed took care of this new problem, though, and when another Wurm token fell to a seven-point Death Grasp the turn after that, Apocalypse had seemingly gained complete control of the game. Still, relentless Odyssey mounted one more charge with a new Werebear and another Elephant token. Apocalypse countered with a Spiritmonger, but Odyssey topped that with another Roar of the Wurm token + Standstill! At last, Apocalypse had the final word, attacking with Spiritmonger (unblocked to drop Odyssey to 10), then putting the game away with a Desolation Angel (taking a mild risk that Odyssey could have a third Aether Burst off of Standstill). No Aether Burst was forthcoming, and it was on to game three.
Apocalypse 2, Odyssey 0
Odyssey had now played first twice and lost twice. That was disheartening, as was the fact that only five times in BOTS history has a set rallied from an 0-2 deficit to win a match. Nevertheless, Odyssey was undaunted and could still take heart in the potential for some Standstill or Upheaval ridiculousness to turn the match around. Nimble Mongoose + Werebear offered promise, but even more promising was the fact that Apocalypse had no turn two play. Odyssey had the opening it needed to get back into the match, and it capitalized with a turn three Standstill. Apocalypse fell to 17 from the ensuing attack, then broke the Standstill for a Phyrexian Arena. Odyssey was now in high gear, using Careful Study to dump two Roar of the Wurms, then using one to bring a 6/6 Wurm into play (using Werebear). Nimble Mongoose nipped for one more damage. Apocalypse Vindicated the Wurm, but Odyssey maintained its stranglehold on the game with a Wild Mongrel and a Call of the Herd. After the Nimble Mongoose and Werebear attacked, the life totals were 20-13 in favor of Odyssey, then 20-12 after Apocalypse’s upkeep. Death Grasp momentarily boosted Apocalypse back to 15, poaching the Elephant token. Then, after a five-point attack (Werebear, Nimble Mongoose, and Wild Mongrel pumped for one), Odyssey dropped its bomb: Upheaval. Although Odyssey could not play a land or a creature after the Upheaval, the game was reset at a favorable junction for Odyssey. The first play after the Upheaval was a now 3/3 Nimble Mongoose. Apocalypse had no play on its second turn after the Upheaval. The Nimble Mongoose nipped away for three damage, and gained a partner, Werebear. The Werebear fell to Vindicate, but Odyssey gained a concession the following turn when it dropped another Nimble Mongoose and a Standstill.
Apocalypse 2, Odyssey 1
Now came the challenging part for Odyssey - it needed to win two games in a row with Apocalypse playing first. That, however, is the price one pays for falling into an 0-2 hole - two out of the three wins (the last two) necessary for an 0-2 comeback must come on the draw.
Odyssey was up to the task of winning at least one of those games on the draw, as this game four turned out to be the “Four Standstill Game.”
The Blue/Green deck opened with Careful Study, discarding two lands, then watched in approval as Apocalypse once again played neither Spectral Lynx nor Gerrard’s Verdict on turn two (usually Spectral Lynx is the one card Odyssey doesn’t want to see early on, while Gerrard’s Verdict actually helps Odyssey if it has a Roar of the Wurm to discard. But in this case, Gerrard’s Verdict would have been a strong play for Apocalypse, since it could reasonably infer from the Careful Study that Odyssey had no Roar of the Wurms). Odyssey gained the advantage with a vicious Wild Mongrel, then watched in amazement as Apocalypse had no turn three play! Odyssey added a Nimble Mongoose, then Careful Studied a Call of the Herd and an Upheaval into the graveyard. Finally, there were signs of life on the other side, as Pernicious Deed arrived. The Wild Mongrel and Nimble Mongoose reduced Apocalypse to 15, but the Deed awaited them on the next attack. Nimble Mongoose perished, but Wild Mongrel was save by an Aether Burst and returned to play immediately. Apocalypse summoned its top enforcer, a Spiritmonger, but Odyssey responded with a Werebear (with threshold) and an irritating Standstill that Apocalypse would have no choice but to break at some point or else fall victim to an Upheaval cast at Odyssey’s convenience. Vindicate on Werebear broke the Standstill right away, and the turn was back to Odyssey.
Following another Careful Study (discarding two lands), down came another Standstill, as well as an Elephant token out of the graveyard. Death Grasp on the Elephant broke the new Standstill and brought Apocalypse back up to 18. Spiritmonger crashed in for six damage, and the score was 18-14 in favor of Apocalypse. But Odyssey had a nasty surprise in store: Upheaval floating one mana, followed by a land and Wild Mongrel. Right from the start, this game had been played Odyssey’s way, at Odyssey’s pace. That would continue, as Upheaval + Mongrel was backed up one turn later by a third Standstill! Wild Mongrel savaged Apocalypse down to 13 (three cards discarded, including Roar of the Wurm). With nothing better to do, Apocalypse broke the Standstill with Gerrard’s Verdict. Odyssey drew the three cards, then discarded a Nimble Mongoose and Wild Mongrel. The Mongrel in play caused another four damage and was joined by a Werebear. At 9 and in need of an answer, Apocalypse played a Pernicious Deed, then fell to 3 from the next attack. Both creatures died to the Deed when they tried to attack again, but that didn’t matter in the least - Odyssey had drawn its fourth Standstill! Another Werebear + Standstill pushed the series to the brink of a fifth game. Apocalypse Vindicated the Werebear, but a Wurm token replaced the fallen Bear. Spiritmonger entered the playing area to stop the Wurm, but Odyssey had drawn an Aether Burst off the Standstill. Thus, Odyssey had evened the series.
Odyssey had chained together four Standstills, which was too much even for Apocalypse to handle. Amazingly, but fittingly, the series was headed for a game five.
Apocalypse 2, Odyssey 2
Thus far, it had been a valiant comeback by Odyssey, but game five just didn’t work out. A Nimble Mongoose was immediately topped by Spectral Lynx, while two Careful Studies found no Roar of the Wurms. Odyssey did manage to play a Standstill, but Apocalypse broke it without hesitation for a Phyrexian Arena. There was a momentary glimmer of hope when the Nimble Mongoose (with threshold) charged in after an Aether Burst cleared away the Spectral Lynx. However, Apocalypse snuffed out any hopes for the 0-2 comeback with a Spiritmonger followed by Pernicious Deed, wiping out the Nimble Mongoose and an Elephant. The Spectral Lynx soon returned, while a Wild Mongrel was reduced to chump-blocking duty on Spiritmonger. Phyrexian Arena was providing a steady flow of threats and answers while Odyssey continued to flounder, having lost any chance of seizing the momentum. As another Spectral Lynx joined the Apocalypse force, the game spiraled out of control. Odyssey pushed the Upheaval panic button as a last-ditch effort to stay alive, but this did little to turn the game around, especially because Odyssey was unable to play a land or a creature following the Upheaval. Meanwhile, the Arena allowed Apocalypse to recover from the Upheaval without missing a step. Now it was only a matter of how to close out the match. A Spectral Lynx was met my a Wild Mongrel, but the second Lynx joined to restore Apocalypse’s creature advantage. Despite another Standstill, Apocalypse Vindicated the Mongrel with no concern that anything could go wrong, because the game was well in hand by this point. Odyssey managed a Nimble Mongoose and a Werebear after the Mongrel died, but those new creatures were picked off as well (not that Apocalypse even needed to, given the protection from green Lynxes on the attack), and the Lynxes rumbled to victory easily. Apocalypse could breath a sigh of relief - it was moving into the Division Three Finals to face the winner of Ravnica vs. Mirage.
Apocalypse 3, Odyssey 2
*Feature Match* - - - - - (5) Ravnica d. (8) Mirage, 3-2
Ravnica features an extremely efficient plan of attack which includes several fabulously undercosted creatures, including Watchwolf, Loxodon Hierarch, and the awesome Hunted Dragon. The newcomer also has the burn it may need to finish off Mirage if it halts the creature assault. Mirage will be no pushover though. The Red/Green deck has a load of burn with which to combat the Ravnica assault, plus the global creature sweeping power of Savage Twister. On top of that, Mirage can finish with solid creatures of its own. A general key to the match will be whether Ravnica can drop an early Moldervine Cloak to put a threat out of burn reach, or to cause so much damage as to render any Mirage comeback impossible.
Mirage played first, but Ravnica got off fast with turn one Birds of Paradise followed by turn two Skyknight Legionnaire. Mirage built up its mana with Rampant Growth, then Incinerated the Legionnaire. The Bird of Paradise went on the offensive thanks to a Moldervine Cloak. The reign of the overgrown Bird was short-lived though, as Kaervek’s Torch fried the ambitious avian. Another Bird replaced the fallen one, and as Mirage was unable to kill this new Bird, Ravnica had the opportunity to Dredge up Moldervine Cloak. Skipping its draw, Ravnica milled the top two cards of its library (Plains and Watchwolf) into the graveyard and retrieved the Moldervine Cloak, which enchanted the Bird of Paradise. Mirage fell to 12 from the attack, but again ended the Bird campaign with a Kaervek’s Torch. From there, the game settled into a long lull, as both combatants built up their mana. A Lightning Helix swung the life totals to 21-9 in favor of Ravnica (it had taken two damage from pain lands). Secure that the time was right, Ravnica unveiled its grandest creature of all - Hunted Dragon! With another burn spell in hand, Ravnica had captured game one.
Ravnica 1, Mirage 0
This match was to follow the same pattern as the Apocalypse/Odyssey match - the ultimate winner taking the first two games, losing the next two, then taking the deciding game. Ravnica pulled off the Birds of Paradise + Skyknight Legionnaire start once again, while Mirage, after it had boosted its mana with Rampant Growth, replied with a Hammer of Bogardan on the Legionnaire. Again, though, the Birds of Paradise + Moldervine Cloak tandem caused problems, as yet another Birds offensive opened up. This time, though, Mirage couldn’t kill the Bird the turn after it was Cloaked, which gave Ravnica the chance to add a second Moldervine Cloak. Emboldened by its newfound size and intoxicated with the power that comes with being, well, huge, the gigantic 6/7 bird attacked once in a sadistic frenzy before Mirage conceded.
Ravnica 2, Mirage 0
Just a short while earlier, Odyssey had been in the same predicament as Mirage, and just as Odyssey did, Mirage began the task of climbing out of its hole with a resounding game three victory. This time, Ravnica had no turn one Birds of Paradise, while Mirage had turn two and turn three Wall of Roots. Ravnica’s first creature was Selesnya Guildmage. Mirage continued to build up its mana with Fire Diamond, then watched with little concern as Ravnica summoned a Loxodon Hierarch. Volcanic Dragon wiped out the Hierarch's life gain while the Walls held the ground. With no other option, Ravnica sent in the Selesnya Guildmage and Loxodon Hierarch for an attack. A Wall of Roots blocked each, and thanks to Guildmage’s pumping ability, one Wall died to the now 5/5 Hierarch. However, all this was rendered academic when Mirage summoned a second Volcanic Dragon on the following turn and pulled too far ahead in the damage race even for lightning-fast Ravnica to pull off a comeback.
Ravnica 2, Mirage 1
Ravnica was in good shape after getting three hits in with yet another Moldervine Cloaked Bird of Paradise, while Watchwolf + Lightning Helix chopped down a Wall of Roots. But Mirage had an ace up its sleeve - Savage Twister. Ravnica tried to recover by dredging back the Cloak to put on a Watchwolf waiting in hand, but lost a potentially useful Hunted Dragon in the process. The Watchwolf was halted by a Wildfire Emissary (Protection from White). Skynight Legionnaire, which would have been a far better target for Moldervine Cloak, mockingly showed up on the next draw phase. Although the Legionnaire did get a hit in, this game was going maddeningly wrong for Ravnica with the loss of Hunted Dragon and the timing of the Legionnaire. Worse still, the Legionnaire fell to a Hammer of Bogardan, and Mirage followed that up with a Volcanic Dragon. Ravnica had added a Selesnya Guildmage before the Dragon entered play, and now used its only white mana to summon another Watchwolf. Mirage, holding another Savage Twister in hand, was well prepared. Though it could have Savage Twistered for far more, now Mirage only needed to Twister for three to kill the Selesnya Guildmage and the smaller Watchwolf, since Ravnica did not have any white mana with which to use the Guildmage’s pump ability. After those two creatures (plus a Saproling token produced by Guildmage) hit the graveyard, Mirage finished off the 6/6 Watchwolf with an Incinerate. Bereft of its creatures and faced with the rampaging Volcanic Dragon, Ravnica conceded.
Ravnica 2, Mirage 2
Despite all the difficulties Ravnica had endured in games three and four, none of that would matter if a strong opening hand presented itself. Not only did Ravnica draw a strong opening hand playing first, it was such a good hand that the entire game lasted just two minutes: turn one Birds of Paradise, turn two Moldervine Cloak, turn three Moldervine Cloak, and turn four Loxodon Hierarch. Helpless in the face of such an absurd opening, Mirage could only concede in disbelief as its tournament run came to a shattering conclusion. Ravnica was on to the Division Three Finals to face Apocalypse!
Ravnica 3, Mirage 2
(1) Torment d. (5) Judgment, 3-0
Torment continued to demonstrate its near-invulnerability against creature decks with a blowout against a solid Judgment deck. Torment has registered more sweeps than any other set because it feasts on most of the creature decks in the BOTS field. Judgment was just the latest in a long line of victims that have been added to Torment’s growing list of maulings.
(2) Onslaught d. (3) Fifth Dawn, 3-2
Fifth Dawn built a 2-1 series lead on the strength of early-game Bringers, but in the end, Onslaught’s Exalted Angels carried the day. Both the fourth and fifth games came down to Onslaught’s ability to clear the board with either Akroma’s Vengeance or Starstorm, then follow up the global removal with Exalted Angel, which Fifth Dawn has no way to remove.
What a round! Come back on Tuesday when we'll move right along.
By Legend on November 10th, 2005 · Filed in General Magic · Comments not available just now