September 15, 2017

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Going for the Gold: Play Along with Sammy #2 (GP Indy 2017 – Part 2)

Today we continue with our Play Along segment at GP Indy 2017. If you didn't get a chance to read part one, click here.

Okay, are you done yet? Let's continue...

Day Two had just commenced and I was in the feature draft pod, which was also pod #1 of the tournament. This meant that all of the undefeated players were in my pod as well as the players who were 8-1 with very good tiebreakers. Typically, tiebreakers are great for you, but I would have much preferred to be in a lower pod and have easier opponents.

I was sitting on the left of Scott Lipp who was the featured drafter at the table and passing to me directly in pack one and three (you can see that here). My deck ended up looking something like this (Note: I say "something like" because the deck ended up in the trash very shortly before I could record its contents!):

GP Indy 2017 Day Two - Draft 1 Deck


Relevant Sideboard: Chandra's Defeat, Cancel

I was definitely not happy with this deck, but after first picking an Open Fire, the red and blue were seemingly flowing. I was hoping to get a 2-1 record out of this but assumed this would be a 1-2 deck. My opponent in the first round, and the feature match, would end up being Steve Rubin who was passing to Scott Lipp. Steve was also on U/R and we ended up being covered under the timeshifted arena. You can watch the match here.

I won the dice roll and elected to be on the play. I saw this hand:


Keep! Steve kept his hand and I played two Mountains and a Defiant Khenra. He matched me by playing an Island, a Mountain and a Tah-Crop Skirmisher. This meant that my Defiant Khenra already looks worse. Then I miss my land drop and pass back to Steve, who plays a second Island and passes after attacking for two. This is where the feature match picks up.

I draw and play an Island and attack for two with Defiant Khenra. I cast Minotaur Sureshot after combat and Steve responds with Tragic Lesson, discarding Refuse // Cooperate. I instinctively picked up this card because I didn't remember exactly what the Aftermath side did even though I had opened this card in pack two.

Even if you think you know what a card does, it's always better to be 100% rather than go with your previous assumption, which has been the downfall of many players in the past.

Steve plays a third Island, plays an Unsummon on my Minotaur Sureshot, and uses his last three mana to cast Bloodwater Entity to put the Unsummon back on top of his deck. Unsummon truly hurts when you already missed a land drop so you cannot afford to lose much tempo, and I saw that he was going to be able to potentially double Unsummon next turn with the Refuse // Cooperate in his graveyard.

I drew an Island, played it alongside my Frontline Devastator and left my Defiant Khenra back to force the double Unsummon play. He played his fourth Island, cast double Unsummon on both of my creatures, and Crash Through to triple Prowess on the Bloodwater Entity, then attacked for seven, putting me down to nine. My hand was full and I didn't have a fifth land, so I had to cast my topdecked Strategic Planning to grab an Island and cast Minotaur Sureshot. I was mindful that I had milled a Winds of Rebuke which I knew Steve would remember for the next game.

Always remember what your opponents have seen and their perception of your deck and what you can do.

Steve drew for his turn, thought, and only attacked with his Bloodwater Entity. I thought about it for a while and realized that I had to start trading cards in my hand for board advantage. So I blocked with my Minotaur Sureshot to force him to cast a spell (given that most of his spells would kill my creature on resolution anyway). He had Hieroglyphic Illumination which I think is one of the few cards in that spot that doesn't just kill my creature on resolution anyways.

I drew an Island and cast Angler Drake, bouncing Steve's Tah-Crop Skirmisher, confident that I was going to pull back into this game with my superior hand as long as I stabilized. Bouncing Bloodwater Entity, although it would cost Steve more mana, would allow him to "rebuy" his Unsummon again and potentially prevent me from stabilizing.

Steve untaps and slams Kefnet the Mindful into play which, at this point, leaves me few outs to win this game. He had six cards in hand so it couldn't block yet, but I haven't been pressuring his life total nearly enough to try to out race him. I draw Unsummon and get a glimmer of hope. Combined with my two Open Fires, there's a huge potential that I can steal this game.

I attack for four with my Angler Drake and play a Frontline Devastator. My hope is that Steve attacks with both of his creatures and plays two spells to enable Prowess on his Bloodwater Entity to attempt lethal, which would let me Unsummon the Kefnet and deal lethal over the course of two turns. Steve attacks for seven and doesn't have any effects, so I go down to two life. My plan is now to bounce the Kefnet at end of turn with Unsummon if he doesn't cast anything. Unfortunately, Steve has a Firebrand Archer into Unquenchable Thirst on my Angler Drake. This puts me at one life, and no outs.

I spend the next 30 seconds debating on whether or not I show Steve the Unsummon, and what do I Unsummon now? My Angler Drake, or his Kefnet? I also likely have to cast an Open Fire on Firebrand Archer and his Bloodwater Entity if I take the route of bouncing his Kefnet, so it all just looks bad for me. I just choose to not show him any of these cards and keep their equity for the next game.

I draw and concede.

During sideboarding, I take out Hyena Pack and Strategic Planning and replace them with Chandra's Defeat and Cancel. My thoughts were that I had no actual late game answer to Kefnet the Mindful, so I wanted to be able to answer it when it is first played or bounce it and answer it.

I always feel better having outs, even if they suck.

For game two, I keep this hand on the play:


For the first two turns, I play Mountain and Island into Spellweaver Eternal while Steve matches my lands to cast a Defiant Khenra. My first draw is another land so I cast Chandra's Defeat on the Khenra in order to get in for three damage, and I knew that Steve would be willing to trade. With Unsummon in my hand and no other creatures, it made little sense to take that trade now.

Steve passes with three lands up after playing a Survivor's Encampment. I attack for two with my Spellweaver Eternal, and cast a Firebrand Archer leaving up two mana. Steve casts a Nimble Obstructionist at the end of my turn. Steve then attacks for three, setting us up for a race that I'm already ahead of (Me: 17, Steve: 15). Aerial Guide is cast and Steve passes with an Island up. I attack for four on my turn with both of my creatures and Steve casts an Unsummon, to my surprise, on my Spellweaver Eternal. As soon as he did that, I could see on his face that he had done that too hastily. He would later tell me at the end of the match that he "messed up" with the Unsummon.

Two damage connects dropping Steve to 13 and I replay the Spellweaver Eternal and bring along a new friend in Fervent Paincaster. Steve plays Decision Paralysis on my two untapped creatures and swings for five damage to put me at 12. I attack for two damage and put Steve at 11, still holding that Unsummon for a key moment. I then play my topdecked Aerial Guide to hold down the fort and potentially add future pressure.

When Steve turns both of his fliers sideways, I choose to trade with his Aerial Guide because the Fervent Paincaster can already eat the Nimble Obstructionist. Unfortunately, after damage (Me: 9) Steve plays an Angler Drake and bounces my Fervent Paincaster. I debate casting Unsummon at the end of the turn, but I don't have many spells that I can draw that will need the extra mana next turn and I really want the extra damage from the Prowess on the Spellweaver Eternal.

On my turn I draw a Watchers of the Dead and cast Unsummon on Angler Drake to trigger both Spellweaver Eternal and Firebrand Archer. After attacks, Steve is down to five and I recast my Fervent Paincaster and Watchers of the Dead.

Steve debates and ultimately does the right thing by putting me in a spot where I have to topdeck by attacking for three with his Nimble Obstructionist. He casts Angler Drake and bounces Fervent Paincaster.

It's crazy that it's been like four turns and it still hasn't gotten a chance to not be summoning sick.

My unaided attacks would have taken him to one and that would have been enough in combination with a spell. So I drew for the turn hoping to see any spell including Cancel, since I could Cancel my own Fervent Paincaster but I drew a land. Redraws included any cycling cards as well.

I attacked with everything and Steve made sure he didn't block the creature with Afflict so I conceded the game and match to him. Some people asked me why I didn't just bluff I had a spell, well if I had a spell in my hand then he would be dead and he wasn't going to give me another turn and a chance at drawing a spell.

Steve had a busted UR deck, much much better than my own and he would go on to 3-0 the pod and eventually Top 8 the Grand Prix. I was really happy for him since he is a really nice guy who has committed his life to the game.


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Sammy T