Battle of the Sets VIII: Groups 1 & 2
By Alfred on November 15th, 2006 · Filed in Variant Formats · Comments not available just now
Hello, and welcome to Battle of the Sets VIII! If you don't know what this is, please take a look here and here. These will give you the background needed to understand how the tournament works. After seeing the results of the Play-in Division, this will be your first real glimpse at Battle of the Sets VIII’s first round action! Included are a 8 fast-paced and exciting matchups, and for the first time in Battle of the Sets history, there is going to be a Deck Creation Competition! The Deck Creation Competition contains spoilers that could ruin the fun of reading this article, so I would recommend reading the reports first, and THEN taking a look at the competition itself, which is at the bottom of this article. Without any further ado, let's begin Battle of the Sets VIII !!!!!!!!!
Nemesis vs. Torment
Torment, without a doubt is one of the most brutal decks in the entire Battle of the Sets tournament. Wizards of the Coast decided to push the color Black in this set, and the results are devastating:
Two Battle of the Sets Championship titles, and consistent trips to the Finals and Final Four. Nemesis on the other hand is a set that has recently graduated from the Play-In Division, having won that competition in the prior Battle of the Sets. Unlike many of the sets in this tournament, on paper, Nemesis has at least a chance of competing with the Torment juggernaut, but unfortunately for the White/Green midgame deck, the results were far more brutal than it could have imagined. In the first game, a small arms-race began with Torment playing out a Mesmeric Fiend, Nantuko Shade and a Shambling Swarm, and Nemesis replying with a Rhox. The two decks traded removal, with Torment Chainer's Edicting the Rhox, and Nemesis Toppling a Swarm. Three Fog Patches showed up for Nemesis, but it wasn't able to put up a fight after that and was ripped apart soon afterwards by Torment's foul legion of monstrosities.
The second game was ended even more decisively, with a third turn Rancid Earth followed by a fifth turn Mind Sludge, which liquidated all five cards in Nemesis' hand. A Nantuko Shade and Laquatus' Champion followed soon afterwards for clean-up duty. At this point, Nemesis would be happy to pull a single game out against the master of darkness, hoping that the third game of this best of five would allow it to show why it isn't destined to fall back into the Play-In Division. Torment started the game quickly, with a Nantuko Shade commencing the beatdown. The march of doom was halted by Nemesis via a Parallax Wave, but not before the undead insect managed to rack up 11 damage. Nemesis then added a Blinding Angel, which could seriously tip the balance in favor of Nemesis if left unanswered. The following turn, Torment attempted to Mutilate the Angel, but Nemesis safely slid her under Parallax Wave, which was quickly running out of counters (2). Nemesis added a Rhox on its side of the table, and it was starting to look like Nemesis might manage to eke a game out against Torment. Torment, now playing a bit of defense, laid a Cabal Coffers and Mind Sludged Nemesis' hand of three cards away, but still lacked a way of dealing with the menacing Rhox that still remained on the table. Rhox plowed in for 5 damage, and Nemesis added a beastly Blastoderm to the mix, at this point threatening to run away with this game completely! Torment now desperately needed to draw Chainer's Edict in order to stay in the game, as the two 5-power beasts were threatening to make mincemeat out of the suddenly defenseless Torment. Torment, not wanting to give even a single game to the peace-and-love Green/White deck, drew the necessary Chainer's Edict, cast it and flashed it back to crush Nemesis' hopes and dreams of winning even a single game. Parallax Wave disappeared the next turn, and a Faceless Butcher showed up to rob Nemesis of Blinding Angel, and it was all downhill from there. Ouch.
Champions vs. Urza's Legacy
Champions of Kamigawa, one of the most flavorful and unusual sets in recent years, also sports one of the most powerful and unique decks in the Battle of the Sets tournament. It has the ability to win the game out of nowhere, and is the only deck to employ a toolbox of versatile answers, fetchable by the deck's many tutors and card selectors. Urza's Legacy on the other hand is a rather standard blue-green skies deck which has access to creature pump, as well as countermagic. Both of these tools will be invaluable when facing Champions, with the creature pump being vital in racing Hazelock (the combination of Hana Kami, Soulless Revival and Ethereal Haze for an infinite amount of Hazes), and countermagic allowing it to stop Hazelock completely.
Game 1: Urza's Legacy won the roll, and started the game first. The first few turns were eventful, with Legacy playing a pair of Faerie Conclaves and Champions replying with a Sakura-Tribe Elder. Soon afterwards, the game truly began, with Weatherseed Faeries and Fleeting Image making an appearance, while the Elder ominously fetched a Swamp for Champions, foreshadowing what was about to happen. The turn after the Fleeting Image resolved, Champions showed that it had luckily drawn into the single Hideous Laughter that it had in its deck, and after playing its second Swamp, it cast it, and sent both Faeries and Fleeting Image to the grumper. A second Fleeting Image showed up, and this time, Legacy had enough mana to return the skittish illusion should things get too dicey. Hana Kami was played the following turn, signaling Champions' ability to recur the devastating Hideous Laughter should Legacy continue to develop its board position. However, Legacy augmented its Fleeting Image with a Rancor, animated a Faerie Conclave and attacked for 6, sailing high above the earthbound Hana Kami. However, because of a Legacy brainfart, it failed to keep two mana open to return Fleeting Image to its hand. Hana Kami predictably hit the bin at the end of Legacy's turn, fishing out the Hideous Laughter. Hideous Laughter did away with the Illusion on Champions' turn, neglecting its instant-ness so as to pop the Image before Legacy untapped to avoid Miscalculation.
Perhaps the move had not been so foolish after all, as Legacy animated a Conclave and attached the recurred Rancor to it, and the subsequent attack reduced Champions to a less-than comfortable 8 life. On its next turn, Champions fortuitously drew into its mega-tutor: Gifts Ungiven. Champions looked through its library for the correct mix of cards, which turned out to be Rend Flesh, Joyous Respite, Meloku the Clouded Mirror and Hana Kami. Legacy handed it Joyous Respite and Rend Flesh, and Champions, now with 8 mana available to it, cast Respite to double its life total. Oddly enough, after Champions passed the turn, Legacy played a Forest and passed as well, neglecting to attack with any of its two manlands, signaling that it had some instant-speed business to attend to on Champions' turn. Champions drew and passed the turn, and Legacy responded with two instant-speed Simian Grunts, one of which Champions nixed with a Soulless Revival-Spliced Rend Flesh, returning a Hana Kami. Legacy paid the Echo cost, equipped a Rancor to the Ape, and rumbled in for 5, dropping Champions to 11. Unfortunately for Legacy however, Champions now had a virtual 1 sided Abyss, and could use Soulless Revival and Hana Kami to constantly recur Rend Flesh. Champions did not need to recur the Rend Flesh in its graveyard however, because it revealed a second Revival-Spliced Rend Flesh targeting the Grunt, and returned the Gifts Ungiven'd Hana Kami back to its hand, and played it.
Legacy was in the hot seat now, because it was slowly running out of threats, and Champions was on the verge of being able to kill a creature a turn, or simply gain massive amounts of life. Without any messing around, Legacy played the Rancor on a Faerie Conclave, and beat Champions down to 7 life. The following turn, Champions used Hana Kami to bring back Joyous Respite, ballooning its life back up to 16, and negating the attacks from both Simian Grunts as well as the Conclave. Champions Spliced Soulless Revival onto it, and brought back a Sakura-Tribe Elder to continue ramping up its mana. Legacy added another Simian Grunts EOT, Rancored it the following turn, and attacked with it and a Conclave, putting Champions at 10 life, thanks to a chump-blocking Elder. The next turn, Joyous Respite put Champions up to 21 life, and the turn after that it cast Eerie Procession and grabbed Ethereal Haze for the lock. Knowing that Champions would eventually build up enough mana to cast and start abusing Meloku, and that Champions now had enough mana to evade its Miscalculations, Legacy graciously conceded.
Game 2: The first game went according to plan for Champions, with its life total never dropping below 7 life, but things were getting a little too interesting, especially seeing as though it encountered neither Miscalculation nor Might of Oaks, both of which are potential game breakers for Legacy. In the second game, Legacy started first dropping a Faerie Conclave, and Champions mulliganned down to 6 cards and played a Sensei's Divining Top. Treetop Village joined the manland party, and Champs decided to accelerate its mana with a Sakura Tribe Elder. Weatherseed Faeries appeared, while Champions continued to accelerate with a Kodama's Reach, drawn off of the spin of a Top. Legacy's air and land forces continued to mount, as it summoned a Fleeting Image, and dropped a Treetop Village. Champions, not to be outdone continued spinning the top, playing another Sakura-Tribe Elder and finding Hideous Laughter with an Eerie Procession.
Legacy, determined not to let Champions enter the late game, swung in with its two fliers and a Treetop Village, which Champions blocked with Sakura-Tribe Elder. The attack reduced Champions to twelve life. Champions spun, drew and passed the turn. Legacy attacked with its fliers, at which point, Champions unleashed its instant-speed sweeper Hideous Laughter, which resulted in Fleeting Image being bounced back to its hand, and Weatherseed Faeries landing in the graveyard. Fleeting Image was replayed, and enchanted with Rancor for good measure. Champions spun up a Rend Flesh, which resulted in the just-replayed Fleeting Image getting pasted. Champs rounded out the turn with a Hana Kami and another Sakura Tribe-Elder. Faerie Conclave was Rancored up, and swung in for 4, putting Champions at 8, and at the end of the turn, Champions sacced Elder and spun. Champions drew a card, which revealed itself to be the mighty aggro-stopper: Meloku! Legacy nervously cycled a Miscalculation at the end of its turn looking for reinforcements.
On its turn, Legacy Rancored up a Conclave and swung in with both it and an animated Treetop Village. Champions spawned 3 Illusion tokens, one of which traded with the Conclave, and the big Moonfolk Legend blocked the Treetop Village. The trample damage from the Conclave put Champions down to 5 life, a total that was even scarier, considering that a combination of Rancor and Might of Oaks would most definitely end the game. Knowing that it needed to get hopping before those two cards were put together for Legacy, Champions attacked with the two tokens that it created on the previous turn. Legacy, on its turn, still possessed another Faerie Conclave from the beginning of the game, so it Rancored it up and swung in, only to trade with a newly created Illusion token, but dropping Champions down to 2 life. Legacy then added a Weatherseed Faeries, whose life was short, due to Hana Kami bringing back a Rend Flesh which was cast at the end of the turn.
Champions, not wanting to let Legacy end the game with a Might of Oaks and Rancor, used a freshly drawn Cranial Extraction to remove Rancor from the equation completely. The game started going into stall-mode once Fleeting Spirit entered the equation, with it taking its toll on Champions' Illusion count by attacking, bouncing and being replayed. Champions was also not attacking with anything, due to the fear of Treetop Village combining with Might of Oaks. The game went back and forth for many turns until Legacy finally put everything together by snapping Meloku back to Champions' hand, and attacking with a Treetop Village made a lot mightier by a little touch of green trickery. Though Meloku is quite a powerful card, it loses a lot of its power when an opponents' creatures have trample, which prevents Meloku from being a chump-block machine.
Game 3: Game three began with Legacy laying a Treetop Village followed by Champions playing out a Sakura-Tribe Elder. Legacy followed Treetop up with a Faerie Conclave and passed the turn, at which point Champions popped the Elder in search of an Island. On Champions' turn, Hana Kami and Eerie Procession were played, with the Procession searching for a Rend Flesh. Legacy played an Island and passed. Champions drew first blood this game by attacking with the Hana Kami, which Legacy let through, fearing the Rend Flesh. Legacy drew a card and played Fleeting Image, one mana short of being able to bounce it. Champions wasted no time in using up its Rend Flesh targeting the Illusion, and at the end of Legacy's turn, used the Hana Kami to bring back the Arcane spell. With the board clear of any pesky threats other than the manlands, and the threat of Miscalculation non-existent, cast Meloku, in an attempt to push the tempo of the game. It was, however, bounced back to Champions' hand on the following turn, and Legacy added another threat to the board, in the form of Weatherseed Faeries. Fearing a Miscalculation on its Meloku, Champions decided to play it safe and cast another Hana Kami, and shipped the turn back to Legacy.
When Legacy attempted an attack, Champions sprung into action, and Rend Fleshed the Faerie Conclave, allowing the Weatherseed Faeries to hit for two damage. Hana Kami gave up its life at the end of the turn to bring Rend Flesh back for another spin around the block. Champions declined to make any play on its turn, rather it waited for Legacy to make a play before responding. Legacy did in fact make a move, by activating Treetop Village, and attacking with both it and Weatherseed Faeries. Champions decided to use the Rend Flesh in the same way as last time, by targeting the land rather than the Faeries. Bereft of any other play for that turn, Legacy passed. Champions finally drew the seventh land that it needed to avoid Miscalculation, and promptly cast Meloku for the second time. Legacy responded to the Clouded Mirror with a Simian Grunt at the end of Champions' turn, looking to press the attack before Meloku could get going. After paying the Echo cost, Simian Grunts attacked, only to be blocked by Meloku, not fearing Might of Oaks due to the Echo cost being paid. After combat, Legacy added another Treetop Village and passed it back to Champions, which created two Illusion tokens.
Champions added a Divining Top to the board during its turn, and passed. Legacy decided to continue attacking, despite the fact that Meloku now had enough lands in play to kill both Treetop Village as well as Simian Grunts. Champions decided to be a little tricky however, and when called to block, it created another token, put two of them on the Grunts, and one on the Village, then put damage on the stack and cast Hideous Laughter, attempting to kill two birds with one stone. Legacy had other plans, and Miscalculated the Laughter, which resulted in all of the Tokens dying, and the Village trampling over for 2 damage, putting Champions at 14 life. Things were looking grim for the mighty control deck, as it was barely hanging on, even with arguably the best blue creature ever printed gumming up the attack phase. It had to start doing something, or it was going to get trampled to death. After spinning its Top, Champions weakly passed the turn, watching and waiting for Legacy to make a mistake that it could capitalize on. On the following turn, Legacy attacked again, but had a more nefarious plan than normal. After Meloku blocked the Grunts, Legacy decided to more than triple the size of its Treetop Village, giving it a heaping helping of spinach, leviathan-sizing it. Champions was totally surprised by the bold move, and lacking the Rend Flesh in hand, spun its top yet again in search of a suitable answer... Finding nothing however. The beastly Village pummeled Champions down to a teetering 4 life, and added a Faerie Conclave to continue pressing the attack. Now totally on the brink, Champions needed a hero, something or someone that could pull this game that was going very, very wrong out of the fire...
Gifts Ungiven to the rescue! Just as in the first game, Gifts Ungiven showed up just when Champions needed it the most, and it tutored confidently for the Hazelock setup of Eerie Procession, Ethereal Haze, Soulless Revival and Hana Kami at the end of Legacy's turn. This setup is guaranteed to get Hazelock up and running, regardless of what an opponent chooses to give to Champions. Legacy, fearing that Champions already had a Soulless Revival in its hand, gave Champions Hana Kami and Soulless Revival in order to deprive it of a potentially game-winning Eerie Procession -> Cranial Extraction for Miscalculations (which was actually the correct assumption, as Champions was indeed holding onto the second Soulless Revival). However, the game was not won just yet, as Legacy had the opportunity to draw into a Miscalculation to stop Hazelock from going infinite, as Champions was a single mana away from being able to avoid the additional 2 mana cost.
Legacy drew and attacked. Champions then played Ethereal Haze unspliced so as to prevent Miscalculation from entering the equation. At the end of Legacy's turn, Champs hardcast the Soulless Revival, returning the Hana Kami, which was allowed, and spun the top again. Champions drew and played the eighth land that allowed it to complete the Hazelock in spite of a single Miscalculation. The game continued on for a few more turns until it became apparent that Champions would reach the additional 4 mana, and then 6 mana before Legacy could draw into a double Miscalculation, a card which it did not have any of in its hand at all.
Game 4: With two games under its belt, and a single game away from beating a much harder opponent that it had originally imagined, Champions finally figured out what the winning combination was against the tricky Legacy deck. Unlike most aggro matchups, in this one, Meloku was much less useful, and looking at its two wins, it noticed that all had been won on the back of an Ethereal Haze lock outrunning potential Miscalculations. With this information in mind, it went into the fourth game a little bit more confidant of its chances of winning. Legacy began with a mulligan, not something one would want when faced with elimination, and started off with a Treetop Village and Champions replied with a Hana Kami. When Legacy lacked a play on its second turn, Hana Kami again drew first blood, and Champions added a Sakura-Tribe Elder to the equation. Though its first two turns were uneventful, Legacy started its third turn off with a bang by playing a freshly drawn Cloud of Faeries followed by its Protection from Red brethren. The Elder gave up its life at the end of Legacy's turn looking for a Swamp, and Champions continued the mana ramping with a Kodama's Reach for another Swamp and a Plains, indicating that it might be going for the Hazelock a lot sooner than originally imagined.
Legacy coyly added a Fleeting Image on its fourth turn, flirting with the chance that Champions wasn't holding a Hideous Laughter, and swung in for 3 putting Champions at 17 life. The ninja dreidel crashed the party not soon afterwards, and Champions decided to use a Eerie Procession to search its library for a Hideous Laughter with which to punish the overcommitting Legacy, but unfortunately lacked the mana to cast it immediately. The gang of gangly fliers swung in for 5 on Legacy's turn, and Champions decided to answer back by attacking with Hana Kami, which was blocked by a surprise Simian Grunts. The Kami used this opportunity to play Regrowth targeting Kodama's Reach, and Champions added another land post combat to cast Hideous Laughter, which tripled up on Legacy's band of fliers.
On Legacy's turn, Simian Grunts took the opportunity to attack, leaving Champions in the single digits, at 9. The spinning prognosticator was starting to prove quite useful for Champions, as it found another Eerie Procession off of the top of its library, which it used to find its ultimate trump card: Ethereal Haze. Champions neglected to use said card to prevent Grunts from putting it at 6 life, and Legacy added a supplementary Fleeting Image, which, if left unattended would drop Champions to a single point of life, not a place that many deck want to be, given the chance. Champions, to outward observers was a single card away from completing Hazelock: Soulless Revival. Could it be that Sensei's Divining Top had allowed Champions to draw into it as well? The Top was activated at the end of Legacy's turn, and the turn was passed.
Champions, totally unfazed by the impending attackers, drew a card and passed. When Legacy Rancored up the Weatherseed Faeries, and attacked for a lethal amount of damage, Champions simply yawned, played the spliced Ethereal Haze, and waited for Legacy to pass the turn before spinning the Top again, in search of more lands with which to outrace Miscalculations. Champions added another Forest, played the Hana Kami, and passed the turn. Champions was now at the 9 mana mark, meaning that it needed only a single land more in order to force Legacy to use 3 Miscalculations. Legacy, staring at a single Miscalculation in its hand, cycled a Cloud of Faeries in search of the second Miscalculation it needed to get those final points of damage through and manage to kill Champions. It failed to find another Miscalculation however, and as soon as Champions played its tenth land, and Legacy needed three Miscalcs to deal with it, it conceded out of frustration.
It was a hard-fought battle, with many ups and downs, triumphs and mistakes, but overall, one of the most engaging matches of the tournament so far. Champions advances to the second round on the back of its challenging and complicated Gifts Ungiven deck, winning with the aggro-crippling power of Hazelock. Congratulations Champions of Kamigawa!
Mirrodin vs. Legends
Unusually, this was not the one sided spanking that one would think when looking at a deck as potent and quick as Mirrodin, versus a deck so slow and deliberate as Legends. The best card probably on either side of the table when it came down to it was Moat. Moat, being probably one of the most powerful cards ever to see print on a magical piece of cardboard was absolutely devastating when it came into play against Mirrodin, and when coupled with spot removal like Chain Lightning and Spirit Link, actually slowed the artifact brute enough so that Moat could come down, and as we all know, robots can't swim. Mirrodin is not totally crippled by the powerful enchantment, as it has 2 types of fliers in Ornithopter (when equipped with a Bonesplitter), and the powerful Somber Hoverguard to fly over the wetness. It also has a bit of burn in Shrapnel Blast and the infamous Atog/Disciple of the Vault combination, which can end the game in a hurry.
The first game, Moat came down on turn four while sustaining only a single point of life-loss, but unfortunately for Legends, Mirrodin was able to pull double Shrapnel Blast, AND the Atog/Disciple combo FTW. Game two, The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, Moat, Greater Realm of Preservation, Land's Edge and two Firestorm Phoenixes were able to combine together to take down the mighty Mirrodin beast! And to think that most people (including myself) thought that Legends wouldn't even win a game! Though the match was squared, two more überquick starts from Mirrodin managed to blow the stingy defender back into 1994, with both of the encounters featuring Atog/Disciple fueled game-winners.
Fifth Dawn vs. Ravnica
When myself and tournament assistant Nazdakka sat down to play this match, I commented that Bringer of the Green Dawn was going to be rough for Ravnica, because of its ability to halt a Ravnica attack quickly, and then be able to match its token production. Also noted was that Engineered Explosives is a superb card against Ravnica. However, Ravnica is not a slow deck, it has the ability to come out of the gate quickly with Watchwolf and third turn Loxodon Hierarchs, and has a contingency plan with Glare of Subdual and Saproling tokens to allow the final points of damage to leak through. Though its outward appearance does not belie it, this is very much a case of aggro versus control, where Ravnica is faster out of the gate, while Fifth Dawn has inevitability with Bringer of the Green Dawn and Engineered Explosives.
Game 1: In the first game of the series, Ravnica won the roll, and opted to go first. A Birds of Paradise, followed by a Selesnya Guildmage showed up for Ravnica, but Fifth Dawn countered with a second-turn two-charge Pentad Prism, threatening the backbreaking third turn Bringer. Ravnica, realizing that it had to start applying pressure immediately, attacked with the Selesnya Guildmage, and followed that with a third-turn play of its own: Loxodon Hierarch. Unfortunately for Fifth Dawn, with a Forest and Swamp in play, it couldn't draw the third non-matching land with which to pay for the Bringer's alternate casting cost, and instead decided to play Joiner Adept and another Forest, and then cast a second 2-counter Pentad Prism. The Selesnya wrecking crew continued to amp up the damage, swinging with both the Guildmage and the Hierarch, dropping Fifth Dawn to 12 life. Following combat, Ravnica was really starting to come alive when it added a Vitu-Ghazi, City Tree and then Glare of Subdual! Fifth Dawn had to start turning the game around, and the following turn, played the Bringer of the Green Dawn in had sitting in its hand, hoping that it would be enough to slow down the Ravnica attack, which was already out of the gates and running wild.
Ravnica, undeterred by the Green menace, cast a Civic Wayfinder and used it and the Birds of Paradise to tap down the Bringer and the Joiner with Glare of Subdual. The resulting attack halved Fifth Dawn's life, leaving it at six. On Fifth Dawn's turn, the Bringer made a Beast token, and used Channel the Suns to cast Bringer of the Blue Dawn. It was now a foot race; Ravnica had to deal those last points of damage quickly, or it was going to get overrun by Beast tokens and the fruits of 2 extra cards drawn a turn. After a few moments of deliberation, Ravnica decided to Faith's Fetters the Bringer of the Green Dawn (doesn't stop the token production), and tap down the entirety of Fifth Dawn's board to swing in with Loxodon Hierarch and pass the turn leaving Fifth Dawn with two life points to spare. Fifth Dawn was now outpacing Ravnica's creature production, adding another Beast token, and drawing into an Etched Oracle, giving it a grand total of 2 Beast tokens, a Joiner Adept, 2 Bringers and an Etched Oracle compared to Ravnica's 4 creatures.
Ravnica, now puzzling over how to deal the last few points of damage before the game totally slipped away, had a brainwave: use Selesnya Guildmage's white ability to pump up Birds of Paradise to 1/2! Seeing as none of Fifth Dawn's creatures have flying, two attacks would end the game. Fifth Dawn, now at a teetering 1 life, was looking at a single turn with which to find an Engineered Explosives to gun down the pesky flier. Unfortunately for Ravnica, Fifth Dawn had the ability to draw 6 cards on its turn! Fifth Dawn, after it found nothing on its upkeep and draw steps, was forced to crack the Etched Oracle to draw three cards. Lo and behold, on the very last card drawn off of the Oracle, the very last card that had the ability to save the game for it, Fifth Dawn drew Engineered Explosives!!! Memories of Mike Flores screaming out "Lightning Helix", Fifth Dawn windmill-slammed Engineered Explosives down onto the playmat for one and activated it. Ravnica, looking at only a single untapped Forest, was unable to save the Bird with Loxodon Hierarch's team regeneration, and was forced to put the Bird in the graveyard. The cruelty was continued when Fifth Dawn added a Eternal Witness, bringing back the versatile sweeper for another go-around. Ravnica, now with no way to outpace the Green Bringer's Beast production, conceded. What a close one for Fifth Dawn!
1-0 Fifth Dawn
Game 2: Ravnica started the game off in the same way as the first, by adding a Birds of Paradise, and then decided to use the Birds to cast a second-turn Civic Wayfinder. Fifth Dawn was far more slow to react, adding only lands during its first two turns. On turn three, Ravnica exploded, first by attacking with the Wayfarer, then by casting Watchwolf and a Selesnya Guildmage! Ravnica was really cooking early, and Fifth Dawn had only Joiner Adept as a reply on the third turn. When Ravnica attacked on the following turn, Joiner Adept attempted to trade with the attacking Guildmage, but the Guildmage's ability was activated, saving it from being destroyed, and pumping the Wayfinder and the Watchwolf up to 3/3 and 4/4 respectively, putting Fifth Dawn at 11 life. However, on turn 4, Fifth Dawn looked to even the odds by casting Bringer of the Green Dawn off of a Channel the Suns, and passed back. Ravnica, now totally on top of its game, cast Glare of Subdual with the help of a Birds of Paradise, and then used the Civic Guildmage to tap down the Bringer, swinging in with both Watchwolf and Selesnya Guildmage to put Fifth Dawn at 6.
Fifth Dawn added an Etched Oracle and a Beast token on its turn to slow the Ravnica attack force. However, Ravnica was ready with a two creature turn itself, playing a Civic Wayfinder and a Birds-assisted Watchwolf, which were tapped, along with the first Wayfinder to incapacitate Fifth Dawn's team, and swung in with Watchwolf and Selesnya Guildmage, putting Fifth Dawn at 1 life. Fifth Dawn, struggling, but not yet out, added a second Beast Token, as well as two Joiner Adepts as fodder for Glare of Subdual, hopefully adding enough men to the field to stop the White/Green attack. However, it forgot about the potent Birds of Paradise/Selesnya Guildmage combo that had nearly knocked it off in the previous game, and this time it would actually manage to swoop in for the final peck to even the series.
Game 3: Both decks decided to pitch their original hands, and Fifth Dawn opted to start the game. Fifth Dawn played Joiner Adept, hoping to get the ball rolling early against the more aggressive Ravnica. Ravnica drew into Birds of Paradise on the second turn, casting it and passing. Fifth Dawn pressed the advantage that it had early on in the game by attacking with the Joiner, and then added a 2 counter Pentad Prism. Ravnica was now feeling the heat because the specter of a potential Bringer was hanging over its head, and up to this point in the game, it was unable to add anything other than mana sources to the board. Civic Wayfinder was added to the board to add pressure and develop mana, but there was no other play, so Ravnica passed. On Fifth Dawn's next turn, it showed that it wasn't fooling around by adding a Bringer of the Blue Dawn to the board, and though it isn't as effective as, say, the Green Bringer against Ravnica, it was certainly a step in the right direction, and signaled that more reinforcements were coming.
Ravnica was now in a very tough spot. It had failed to put any pressure on Fifth Dawn at all in the early game, and now had to settle for a Loxodon Hierarch on its third turn, hardly enough considering Fifth Dawn now had a Bringer on the table. The Hierarch was blasted on the next turn with an Engineered Explosives fueled by all of Fifth Dawn's lands and the final counter on Pentad Prism, and Bringer swung in to bring Ravnica back down to 15. Another Civic Wayfinder was added by Ravnica, but the game was effectively ended on the next turn, when Fifth Dawn drew into its second Engineered Explosives which smoked both Wayfinders. The game went on for a few more turns, but Ravnica was almost totally out of threats, and its opponent's hand was being restocked each turn by a monster that it could simply not stop.
2-1 Fifth Dawn
Game 4: Ravnica was now on the precipice of elimination, and things weren't being helped by the fact that it had to mulligan down to five before it even started! Sorry to be so anticlimactic folks, but after Ravnica missed its third land drop, and Fifth Dawn dropped a fourth-turn Bringer of the Green Dawn, Ravnica knew that it had passed up too many opportunities to move on to the second round, including the first game, where it was a single life point away from going up one to nothing.
Fifth Dawn is moving on to the second round, where it will meet the brutal Torment deck to fight for control of Group 1! However, Torment owns the only match between these two decks, having crushed it in the minimum 3 games in Battle of the Sets VI, which was Fifth Dawn's first foray into the tournament with its new Bringer-oriented deck. Congrats Fifth Dawn!
3-1 Fifth Dawn
Urza's Saga vs. Mirage
What happens when a deck has no relevant disruption and an extremely slow clock plays against a deck that routinely goldfishes on turn four or five? It means it gets absolutely SMOKED. Three straight games of Saga playing around with its deck, laying a billion artifacts on the board, tapping and untapping Academy and eventually building up to a gigantic, head exploding Stroke that would do Scanners proud. This was also the first time Saga was able to showcase its brutally efficient combo deck, which went off before turn 6 in every single one of the games.
3-0 Urza's Saga
Odyssey vs. Coldsnap
I will say this right now: these were probably some of the most entertaining, exciting and most importantly, evenly matched games of Magic: The Gathering that I have ever played in my life. These games, in a sense, are why I hold this tournament in the first place, where two tight, well-functioning decks are played by two competent players, and then being allowed to show everybody else how incredible the matches actually were. And let me tell you, this one was one doozy of a match. Coldsnap, in its first tournament ever, stepped up to the plate with a Mono-Blue counter/snow deck, designed around slowing the game down until it eventually overtakes you with card advantage and Giant Snow Birds. Odyssey, on the other hand, is a UG tempo deck that has been changed recently from what was originally a UB 'Tog deck. It is currently experiencing lukewarm success, having advanced past the first round for the past 4 tournaments, but has stalled at the second round for each one of those, beaten by decks that are just plain more powerful than it is. This is most definitely the closest on-paper match of Groups 1 & 2, and without further ado, I bring you Coldsnap versus Odyssey!
Game 1: With a battle between two tempo oriented decks, the opening coin flip is incredibly important, as it means the difference between countering that Werebear on turn two, or having it fall through the cracks, becoming a menacing 4/4 in no time flat. This said, Odyssey managed to win that ever-important coin-flip and started the game quickly with a Careful Study discarding a Roar of the Wurm, and after mulling it over, a second Careful Study. Coldsnap played out a Frost Marsh and Coldsnap followed up its first turn Careful Study with a second Careful Study, discarding another Roar of the Wurm and an Upheaval. Coldsnap played out an Island, and Rune Snagged a Wild Mongrel on Odyssey’s turn. Phyrexian Ironfoot made an appearance on Coldsnap's turn, but was quickly outmatched by a Werebear, which, due to all of those early Careful Studies had Threshold, making it a 4/4.
Coldsnap, whose outmatched Ironfoot could only stare across at the gigantic metamorphic bear druid, laid down another Snow-Covered Island and pass the turn. Odyssey, with its UG Threshold deck beginning to get fired up, attacked with Werebear, and after no blockers were declared, applied four damage to Coldsnap's facehole. After the attack, Odyssey confidently flashed back a Roar of the Wurm, trying to get firmly into the driver's seat. Coldsnap however quickly reversed the flow of the game by Commandeering Roar of the Wurm! Rimefeather Owl and Blizzard Specter were pitched to grab the Wurm, and the tables had turned drastically!
Coldsnap, now ambitious and in control of the game, attacked with both the Wurm token as well as the Ironfoot, and dropping Coldsnap to 11 life. Odyssey, in an attempt to reset the game to the beginning, attempted to cast Upheaval, but Coldsnap responded with a forceful "NO" and Controverted the spell. Another blow to Odyssey was the fact that it needed to tap Werebear to cast Upheaval, meaning that Coldsnap was going to get another vicious 9 point attack on the following turn, should it happen to untap the Phyrexian Ironfoot. However, this was not to be, as it had another plan in mind: Theft. Once the Wurm token had swung in, Coldsnap, rather than untap the Ironfoot, cast Krovikan Whispers to snatch Werebear away from Odyssey. Odyssey was getting fed up. First it was Roar of the Wurm, which was unceremoniously snatched away from it, and now Werebear? What was this world coming to?
In any case, Odyssey had a response on the following turn: it Aether Bursted the Wurm into the great beyond, and played a second Werebear to play a little bit of defense. It was after this turn that Coldsnap, perhaps mad with power, perhaps overambitious from its series of good plays, made a costly error by attacking with both the stolen Werebear AS WELL as the Phyrexian Ironfoot, rather than simply attacking with the stolen Werebear. Obviously, Odyssey decided to block the Phyrexian Ironfoot, and let the Werebear through, lowering it to a precarious 1 life, and Coldsnap ended its turn by adding the card-drawing land Scrying Sheets. On Odyssey’s next turn it attempted to flash back the second Roar of the Wurm that it had discarded earlier in the game, but Rune Snag said no to that, and with nothing further to add, Odyssey passed. Odyssey, unbeknownst to Coldsnap, was busily assembling enough mana to hardcast a Roar of the Wurm that it had lurking in its hand, and at this point had 6 mana; one away from being able to accomplish its aim.
Coldsnap paid the two mana required to keep control of Werebear, and decided to press the advantage, attacking with it to force a block. Coldsnap lost 4 life as a result of Whispers going to the grave, and summoned another Phyrexian Ironfoot, returning the ball back into Odyssey’s side of the court. Odyssey, failing to draw the seventh mana, continued to stall by playing Call of the Herd, which guaranteed at least a few more turns of life, and it then passed back. Phyrexian Ironfoot clunked across the red zone and butted heads with an Elephant token, which nobly gave its life to protect its master. On Odyssey’s next turn, it finally got the all-important seventh mana source needed to hardcast the previously mentioned Roar of the Wurm, and tentatively awaited Coldsnap's reply, which was, unfortunately for it, a "yes". Now, with the clock ticking against it for the first time in the match, Coldsnap had to find something, AND FAST, so it began to use Scrying Sheets, which revealed a Snow-Covered Swamp on Odyssey’s EOT, and then again on the next turn revealing a Snow-Covered Island. Coldsnap added a Martyr of Frost in an attempt to stem the tide against a resurgent Odyssey deck bearing down on it.
Odyssey attempted to further the damage first by flashing back its Roar of the Wurm, which resolved, then by casting a freshly drawn Wild Mongrel, and then by attacking with its Wurm token, which was chumped by Martyr of Frost, triggering Controvert in the grave. It mattered little, however, as the recent unanswered flurry of activity on Odyssey’s side of the board meant that things were quickly slipping away from the mono-blue deck, which, after drawing a card on its next turn, conceded the game in a fit of anger! It was really kicking itself now for making the mistake that allowed Odyssey to come back from being lowered to a single point of life. Curses! But what an incredible comeback for team Odyssey!
Game 2: Although it lost the previous game, Coldsnap could comfort itself with the fact that it was able to start the game first, which would give it 8 different ways of countering a spell cast on Odyssey’s second turn. With this in mind, Coldsnap played its first land, a Frost Marsh and passed the turn. Odyssey, confident coming off of the last game's stunning comeback victory, decided to slip something past Coldsnap's stifling counter wall, by playing a first turn Nimble Mongoose. Coldsnap, irritated by its opponent's quick start, played out an Island and passed the turn. A Wild Mongrel attempted to come into play, the Wonder Dog got stuck in Customs and took a first-class trip to the graveyard, courtesy of Rune Snag. Nimble Mongoose was able to swing in for a single damage, and Odyssey passed the turn.
Coldsnap made a good play on the following turn by playing another Island and casting Martyr of Frost, which could both stall Nimble Mongoose's attack, as well as having the ability to counter important spells with the two mana that was left open. Odyssey wouldn't have its decisions made for it by the frustrating counter deck, as it played Call of the Herd, defying Coldsnap to counter it, which it did with the Martyr, revealing a Krovikan Whispers to nullify the spell. Nimble Mongoose attacked again, putting Coldsnap at 18 life. Coldsnap, wanting to get some board presence before its life started dropping to unacceptably low levels, tapped all but one land to cast Phyrexian Ironfoot, and passed back to Odyssey. Odyssey used the turn to lay a land and cast a Careful Study, dumping a Roar of the Wurm and an Upheaval into the graveyard and passed.
On Coldsnap's turn, after it attacked with Phyrexian Ironfoot, it played possibly one of the best cards in its entire deck against Odyssey: Heidar, Rimewind Master. Heidar is extremely good in this match up because of the amount of creature tokens that Odyssey plays and as you may know, bouncing tokens is as good as killing them. However, Coldsnap realized why Odyssey didn't use any of its creature generating sorceries on the last turn when it bounced Heidar back to Coldsnap's hand at the end of its turn. Odyssey then took the opportunity generated by Aether Bursting Heidar to flash back Roar of the Wurm, which it hoped to get in at least once before Heidar lost summoning sickness. Heidar was recast on Coldsnap's turn, and Odyssey started to make use of the Wurm before Heidar became active. It was allowed to hit for 6, putting Coldsnap at 11 life, and Odyssey flashed back the Call of the Herd from its grave.
Coldsnap used its next turn to drop a Martyr of Frost into play, and passed the turn. Heidar popped an attacking Wurm token, but Coldsnap did not choose to block the Elephant token by untapping the Phyrexian Ironfoot, rather, it kept mana open for Martyr to counter other threats. Wild Mongrel was considered harmless enough by Coldsnap to resolve, and at the end of its turn, it chose to untap the Ironfoot. On Coldsnap's next turn, it played a Rimewind Taskmage, in an attempt to further limit the effectiveness of Odyssey’s attack phase, as well as having the ability to bounce two cards with Heidar a turn. However, on the next turn, Coldsnap was obligated to chump block a Wild Mongrel, while killing two Elephant Tokens with Heidar and Phyrexian Ironfoot, knowing that Heidar would be able to deal with the two tokens given enough time.
The over the next couple of turns, Heidar and Phyrexian Ironfoot using its "Vigilance", was continually stifling Odyssey’s attempts at offense, as well as slowly reducing its life total. Odyssey attempted to salvage the game by casting an emergency Upheaval, but that was Controverted, and a then a second Phyrexian Ironfoot entered the equation, and the game was over pretty quickly after that.
Game 3: In the last game, Heidar, Rimewind Master came in and totally dominated Odyssey, bouncing and removing most of Odyssey’s threats until artifact creatures beat down for the win. In the third game, Odyssey chose to play first, but was forced to mulligan a hand that had only Tarnished Citadel as a green source, however, in the second hand it drew, the exact same problem resurfaced, with an Island and Citadel, but no other Forests! Irritated, but also deciding not to push its luck with a second mulligan, Odyssey played Tarnished Citadel, followed by a Nimble Mongoose, dropping it to 17. On its next turn, Odyssey played a Wild Mongrel with the Tarnished Citadel as the green source, dropping it to 14 life. However, Coldsnap was only adding lands, and was mostly just looking on because it didn't have the ability to counter Odyssey’s second turn Wild Mongrel. After Odyssey attacked, it cast a Careful Study, which was okayed by Coldsnap. Coldsnap decided to start getting into the game on the third turn, by casting Martyr of Frost and playing a third land.
On the next turn, Odyssey attempted to flash back a Call of the Herd before attacking in an attempt to get rid of Martyr of Frost, but trickily, the spell was Rune Snagged, which meant that Nimble Mongoose was left at home while Wild Mongrel continued its assault on Coldsnap's life total, putting it at 14 life. Coldsnap snapped back with the creature disabling Rimewind Taskmage, which could be utilized in keeping Wild Mongrel tapped down, and Coldsnap played a fourth mana, which allowed it to use Martyr of Frost's countering ability. This became relevant on the next turn, when Odyssey attempted to use Aether Burst to bounce Rimewind Taskmage before its attack phase. Coldsnap decided to use Martyr of Frost's ability, revealed three cards from its hand to counter it, and kept the Taskmage in play. Mongrel, with the path clear of relevant blockers, managed to get in there for another 2 points of damage.
Odyssey, even though it managed to help optimize its hand with Careful Studies, was now missing land drops, while Coldsnap was hitting every one. Coldsnap played out a Scrying sheets, cast a Blizzard Specter, and still had the single mana open to tap down Wild Mongrel, which it did at the beginning of Odyssey’s turn. However, Odyssey continued its assault by attacking with its Nimble Mongoose with five cards in the grave. Coldsnap pondered the move for a while, and then decided to block with Blizzard Specter, which resulted in Odyssey pitching (with the Mongrel) Roar of the Wurm and a Call of the Herd to pump the Mongoose up to a 3/3. Blizzard Specter hit the bin, then Roar of the Wurm was flashed back, and Coldsnap was now in some serious trouble.
After examining the top of its library with Scrying Sheets, Coldsnap let out a small grin before casting another Martyr of Frost, which was now more likely to become a chump blocker than a Counterspell. On Odyssey’s turn, a Wurm was tapped down, and Nimble Mongoose and Mongrel were put into the red-zone, with Martyr of Frost chump blocking the Mongoose, forcing Mongrel to pitch an Island to the graveyard. After Odyssey attacked, it flashed back the Call of the Herd. Unfortunately for it, Coldsnap was there, rulebook in hand, and reminded Odyssey that its precious Nimble Mongoose still had a single damage on it, and when Call of the Herd was flashed back, it caused the Mongoose to lose Threshold, becoming a 1/1 again, killing it! Just as a mistake had caused Coldsnap to lose the first game, could this mistake be the tipping point in the pivotal third game of the series? Let's find out.
On Coldsnap's next turn, it activated the Scrying Sheets, found and played a Frost Marsh and ended its turn off with another Rimewind Taskmage. Now with a Wurm, Mongrel and Elephant token in play, Rimewind was required to tap down the Wurm, allowing the Mongrel and Elephant token to rumble through for 5 damage, lowering Coldsnap to 4 life. Another Wild Mongrel was played out after the attack (its last card in its hand) and Coldsnap was now officially in the hot seat, needing to draw into something substantial in the next turn, or it was going into the fourth game down 2-1 and on the brink of elimination. It drew a card, hoping for something like Krovikan Whispers or Phyrexian Ironfoot to at least hold onto the game for another turn. It failed to find that crucial card on its first draw, and instead frantically looked to its Scrying Sheets for the game-saver. It wasn't there.
Game 4: Coldsnap, now worried about the prospect of going home earlier than expected, was spurred into action in the fourth game of the series. Coldsnap was aggressive early, playing out its only first-turn play: Martyr of Frost. Odyssey, on the other hand preferred to set up its long-game by playing Careful Study, discarding a Tarnished Citadel and a Roar of the Wurm. Coldsnap, now playing a bit of offence, attacked with Martyr of Frost, and played out Scrying Sheets. Odyssey’s next turn comprised of playing a forest, and then attempting to cast a Werebear, which was predictably countered with Martyr of Frost. Coldsnap, knowing it had to get things cooking early, playing out a third turn Phyrexian Ironfoot, which it knew is particularly good at fending off Mongrels, Mongooses and Call of the Herd tokens and put the ball back in Odyssey’s court, which managed a Call of the Herd. Coldsnap, feeling the mojo, attacked with Phyrexian Ironfoot, which went unblocked, and added its fourth land, an Island. A crafty move for Coldsnap, because it now had enough mana to activate Ironfoot's untap and at the same time still be able to represent having a Rune Snag. Odyssey, knowing that even though it risked Controvert, flashed back Roar of the Wurm before the attack phase, which was Rune Snagged. Odyssey, knowing about Ironfoot's ability, passed the turn, which allowed Coldsnap to untap it at the end of the turn.
Ironfoot, looking to press the advantage, attacked again putting Odyssey at thirteen life. When Mongrel was attempted on Odyssey’s next turn, it was allowed, meaning that the Elephant token had to stay at home, for fear of running into the Ironfoot. However, after the attack phase passed Odyssey added another Mongrel! Instead of untapping the Ironfoot, Coldsnap took a bit of a risk and decided to peek at the top of its library with Scrying Sheets, which failed to reveal a Snow card. Coldsnap was looking for lands right now, because it had stalled on 4, and the next turn exemplified this because after it drew, it again attempted to use Scrying Sheets to draw into a land card, which again revealed nothing! Things weren't looking so good for Coldsnap now, because Ironfoot was not able to untap, and Coldsnap knew for sure that it wasn't going to draw a land on its next turn without gambling on Scrying Sheets again! Coldsnap was in some very real danger now, because it was staring across the table at two Wild Mongrels as well as an Elephant token, none of which would be able to be blocked on the next turn. Obviously, on Odyssey’s next turn, it went into the red zone with a vengeance, attacking full force with all creatures, and pitched a Roar of the Wurm to boot! Coldsnap, now at 12 life looked totally anemic on both defense and offense.
Things were very grim for Coldsnap, and looked even worse when Odyssey flashed back the Roar of the Wurm it ditched. KABOOM! Coldsnap revealed Commandeer on Roar of the Wurm! Pitching Controvert and Rune Snag, Coldsnap pulled the rug right from underneath Odyssey! Things were now going Coldsnap's way when it managed to reveal a Snow-Covered Island off of its library on the following turn, and played the all-important second untapped land it needed to untap Ironfoot, or unleash a Rune Snag. Odyssey, however, wasn't as impressed with Coldsnap's plan as Coldsnap seemed to be. Aether Burst was revealed to liquidate the Wurm token, and pressed the advantage with an attack, which Coldsnap used to untap the Ironfoot and block the Elephant token. Neither of the Mongrels were pumped, so Coldsnap was dropped down to 8 life. A third Mongrel was added to Odyssey’s side of the board, and it was Coldsnap's turn again.
Coldsnap, knowing that it had to change the rhythm of the game, added its sixth land, cast a Krovikan Whispers on the untapped Mongrel and attacked with Phyrexian Ironfoot putting Odyssey at 10 life. Odyssey played out a Nimble Mongoose and passed the turn. Coldsnap got nasty on the next turn, unleashing game two's powerhouse, Heidar, Rimewind Master, hoping that it would be able to stem the tide against Odyssey’s rapidly increasing threat base. After seeing what happened to it in the game where Heidar made an appearance, it decided to attack with both Mongrels and the thresholded Mongoose to stay aggressive, having only 2 cards in its hand as doggy food. Mongoose was blocked by Ironfoot, and a Mongrel was blocked by one of its stolen brethren. Odyssey attempted to pump up the Mongrel that was being blocked by its stolen property by ditching a Roar of the Wurm. Coldsnap answered back by using one of its own two cards to even the odds. In a game of Mongrel "chicken", Odyssey pitched its last card, an Upheaval, and Coldsnap answered right back, pitching a card, trading the two creatures, and Coldsnap lost 2 life because of Whispers triggering with a counter on it, and lost a further 2 life because one Mongrel was let through.
Though Coldsnap was reduced to 4 life through the last clash in the red-zone, it almost definitely won the exchange, doubling up on Odyssey through Krovikan Whispers, as well as Phyrexian Ironfoot taking out a Nimble Mongoose. The turn after, the deadly tandem of Ironfoot's ability to attack and block, as well as Heidar's stifling effect on Odyssey’s offense began to take its toll, and after looking at three straight turns of replaying Wild Mongrel, while Ironfoot beat it around the head, Odyssey conceded at 1 life, drawing nothing of use on its final draw phase. The series was all tied up! Coldsnap made a statement by fighting through a potent Odyssey attack due to the late-game MVP Heidar, Rimewind Master and Phyrexian Ironfoot's red-zone prowess. Game five awaits!
Game 5: Here it is, the first fifth game in a best of five series in this Battle of the Sets tournament! The matches so far between the two sets were quite close, with Odyssey winning on fast starts complimented by strong showings down the stretch, while the two Coldsnap wins were a combination of timely counterspells, good board presence and of course Heidar, Rimewind Master. With only 2 Heidars in the whole deck, could Coldsnap rely on him showing up again? Another question was could it win without Heidar's commanding board presence? Could Odyssey put together a start fast enough to overwhelm Coldsnap's defenses? Answers for these questions would soon be answered.
Almost as if it had heard the last question I just asked, Odyssey came out of the gates swinging, playing Nimble Mongoose off of a Forest and passing the turn. Coldsnap countered the Mongoose play with a first turn creature of its own, which was of course a Martyr of Frost. The arms race continued, as Odyssey added a Werebear to the mix, and fearing a block from the Martyr, passed the turn. Coldsnap used its turn to start padding its long-game, playing a Scrying Sheets and passing the turn. Not wanting to sit around for fear of trading creatures, Odyssey attacked with the unthreshed Werebear and Nimble Mongoose, of which the Werebear was blocked by the Martyr of Frost. Odyssey then used the opportunity to cast a Careful Study which ditched Roar of the Wurm and Upheaval. After an uneventful turn from Coldsnap, Odyssey used its fourth turn to attack with the Mongoose and attempted to cast Call of the Herd, which was Rune Snagged. Another turn came and went for Coldsnap, which continued to develop its mana base, and on Odyssey’s turn, the unthreshed Mongoose continued to peck away at Coldsnap's life total, and Odyssey added an Elephant token by flashing back Call of the Herd, while Coldsnap started using Scrying Sheets to dig through its library, revealing a Snow-Covered Island off of the top of its library.
Coldsnap again drew, played a land and passed the turn, and it was looking like Odyssey’s plan of getting aggressive early was starting to pay off. An attack by the Elephant token and the Nimble Mongoose dropped Coldsnap to 13 life, and to make matters worse, it flashed back a Roar of the Wurm from its grave, but deja-vu all over again, Coldsnap revealed that it had Commandeer! For the third time in this match, Commandeer was used to grab control of a Roar of the Wurm, and a Krovikan Whispers and Rimefeather Owl were given over to the great beyond to fuel the thievery. Coldsnap then started trying to recoup the card disadvantage caused by Commandeer by revealing another Snow-Covered Island with Scrying Sheets. Coldsnap was in control, and with 6 untapped lands and a huge 6/6 buffer on the red zone, it was not going to relinquish it if it had the chance.
Odyssey untapped, and used Aether Burst to try and remove the 6/6 obstacle, but that was Rune Snagged for 4, and a second Aether Burst was attempted, but that too was Controverted! With the Wurm still in play, Odyssey was forced to stay back with both of its creatures. On Coldsnap's turn, it tried to keep its luck streak with Scrying Sheets going, but could not, and instead followed up the activation by casting a Rimewind Taskmage. Odyssey now needed to get things going offensively, and used another Call of the Herd to start amping up that area, and it resolved, however, the Wurm token still dissuaded Odyssey from making any moves in the red zone.
Coldsnap again played the odds by tapping its Scrying Sheets, this time striking pay-dirt by revealing its seventh land, which it played out and passed. Coldsnap used Rimewind Taskmage's ability on Odyssey’s upkeep step to tap down an Elephant. Odyssey, now needing to get some sort of offense going to overcome the hump that it now found itself in, used Careful Study to draw two and pitch two Roar of the Wurms into its graveyard, and managed to flash back one of them during its second main phase.
Though it was starting to make waves by finally being able to discard the Roar of the Wurms that were stuck in its hand, Coldsnap had now reached the ominous seven-mana mark, which meant that *dun dun duuuuunnnn* Rimefeather Owl was slated to make an appearance! The big bird flew in on Coldsnap's turn, and it even managed to add an eighth snow land in Frost Marsh, which ballooned the giant flyer to 9/9, a total that threatened to end the game in a mere 2 turns, should Odyssey lack a solution to it. Even more impressively, Rimewind Taskmage could give the feathered giant what amounted to Vigilance, untapping it each turn to block Odyssey’s biggest man. However, Odyssey still had a fighting chance, and if it managed to draw an Aether Burst off of the top of its deck, or perhaps through Careful Study, it would be able to win the game THAT TURN. Any longer than that, and it risked having its lone answer to the immense night-flier countered by an untapped Coldsnap.
Odyssey untapped and drew a card... It was not Aether Burst, but it was another Nimble Mongoose, which was added to the board, and another Roar of the Wurm was flashed back, making Odyssey’s board 2 threshed Mongooses, one 3/3 Elephant token and two 6/6 Wurm tokens, however, with only 1 of the Mongooses and 1 of the Wurm tokens able to attack, it still declined to attack, as all of its attackers would be munched by the Owl and the stolen Wurm token. Odyssey sighed and passed back, knowing full well what would transpire on the following turn. Coldsnap untapped, and just as Odyssey thought used Rimefeather Owl's ability to change one of Odyssey’s lands into a snow land, and attacked with the now 10/10 flying menace, dropping Odyssey to 10 life. It then played out a Phyrexian Ironfoot for additional defense, leaving it with 3 untapped lands available.
With the game and the entire match itself slipping away, Odyssey needed to draw Aether Burst drastically, and hope against hope that its opponent did not have the Rune Snag available, as it would not be able to punch through the Wurm token, the Ironfoot and Rimefeather Owl on Coldsnap's side of the board without Aether Burst. It untapped and drew....
A Forest! And just like that, Odyssey conceded in the face of a lethal Rimefeather Owl, completing what was one of the most stunning comebacks in BotS history! Coldsnap is now the first deck of Battle of the Sets VIII to actually manage to upset a higher-seeded opponent! What an epic series of games! Coldsnap rallied back from being down 2-1 and won two straight games in order to stymie the collapsing Odyssey. Things looked grim for Coldsnap, especially in the fourth game, on the brink of elimination, when it managed to miss key land drops, but was still able to eke out a win in that pivotal game. Congrats, Coldsnap, on the hard fought win!
With the loss, Odyssey will now be on a search for a new identity. As a new and totally unprecedented area of Battle of the Sets, there will be a competition to replace the old Odyssey deck with something new and fresh! If you have a flair for creating and testing new decks read on to the bottom to find out how you can be involved with creating your very own competitor in Battle of the Sets!
Tempest vs. Planeshift
This match was totally one-sided. Counterspells, Humility and the total uselessness of some of the best cards in Planeshift's deck made this affair unfair. Really no point explaining it any further. With such a compelling run through the Play-In Division, it's a rather disappointing end for the creature-punishing Planeshift deck. Better luck next time, eh?
Tempest, though it managed to handle Planeshift easily, is now on to face a difficult foe: Coldsnap. The upstart Coldsnap is a far, far more difficult foe for Tempest than the Odyssey deck, as Coldsnap features mounds of countermagic, where Odyssey has no such effective disruption. It's definitely going to be one of the matches to watch in the second round for sure!
Onslaught vs. Judgment
Unlike the past tournament, this series of games was not close at all, and, weirdly enough, went the way of last time's loser, Onslaught. Describing these games would be a waste, as they were all brutal, one-sided affairs, mostly involving Exalted Angels, and one of the games involved 3 Angels being in play at once, another had Judgment’s entire team being wiped out with a Starstorm. I guess that's how it goes in Battle of the Sets. One day you're a Cinderella story, the next you're yesterday's news.
Onslaught, however, is now on to face probably its most difficult assignment yet, Urza's Saga. With little disruption, and such a slow clock, things don't look too peachy for the WR control deck in the second round.
Deck Creation Competition
As you might have picked up from reading through the match reports, Odyssey is now in search of a new deck! Nazdakka and I are looking for people to submit entries for a new Odyssey deck in this article's discussion area. The winner of this competition will have their deck featured as Odyssey’s deck in the next Battle of the Sets! There are a few conditions, which must be followed in order to have a chance to win this competition:
1. The deck must be tested against the Battle of the Sets metagame. This doesn't mean that you are going to have to play against every deck in the whole tournament, but rather, take a sampling of the top decks, and create a deck that does well against them.
2. Explain! Have a few explanations about your deck works, good matchups, bad matchups etc. There should be at least a paragraph devoted to explaining your deck.
3. There are no points for originality. I want this deck to win. Period. It may be fun to turn Odyssey into a "cool deck" with lots of "neat" and "interesting" things to do, but I don't really care. Your deck could even be the original deck with a few altered cards, just as long as it works better than everyone else’s.
4. In the totally remote scenario that you, my ever-diligent readers, do not come up with a better deck than the one currently being used, I will be forced to revert back to the deck it has now. No hard feelings, but if it doesn't work to the peak of its potential, I don't like using it.
5. This will be judged by myself and Nazdakka, so SUCK UP DAMNIT
Post haste, dear readers! If you follow these steps, and do a bit of research, you may be able to enter your very own deck into the Battle of the Sets tournament!
By Alfred on November 15th, 2006 · Filed in Variant Formats · Comments not available just now