Written by Jared Meeks
My road to another Top 8 finish did not come easily for Kaladesh. I haven’t missed a PL2 Game Day Top 8 yet, and was determined to keep it that way.Back to top
For myself and those closest to me in our Magic club, Kaladesh Game Day will go down as an event that had a lot of hype surrounding it for some reason. My friends all guarded their deck choices in an attempt to not give any information away about their decks, hoping that this strategy would give them an edge.
I battled with choices leading up to Game Day, and had planned to play something in the UWx environment, again building around my favorite card: Spell Queller. Post-rotation, white enchantments like Stasis Snare and Quarantine Field had become even more powerful with the loss of Dromoka's Command. This made me want to make a U/W control deck.
I took a good look at current three colour land bases including Azorious. With the addition of Aether Hub, I figured I could pull off Jeskai. I haven’t played Jeskai since Khans, where I was drawn to Mantis Rider. Who doesn’t like evasive, aggressive fliers!?
After putting together my deck with some of my favorite cards in Jeskai’s colours, along with these new additions from Kaladesh, I had this weird aggro-ish flash deck. It didn’t play out quite right. I then decided to just go back to the UW control I had planned on playing. That is, until I watched Pro Tour Kaladesh.
In the Pro Tour, a Brazilian player utilized many of the cards I liked in his Jeskai control deck.
I watched every match he played with that deck, and realized that it had very few weaknesses to what seemed strong at the event. It did appear to struggle versus the RW Vehicles deck. In a format without as many sweepers, that deck almost consistently won by turn 5. Not to mention that I had just traded away three copies of Smuggler's Copter prior to the event, so I knew these Vehicle decks would be out there.
I settled on Jeskai control, sleeved it up and did some playtesting. I found the deck performed as expected, and realized that I could pilot it well. I felt comfortable with my selection, so I abandoned my flash deck and dove straight into control. I felt that this deck had the main-board tools to beat anything, and had the sideboard to close out subsequent games.
There was one card I just didn’t like in the list from the Pro Tour: Dovin Baan. I felt that this card under-performed. Deep down, I thought that there was a better four-drop option: Nahiri, the Harbinger. Let me tell you, she didn’t disappoint one bit! Any time she hit the field, I won games. There is nothing that feels better than activating Nahiri, the Harbinger’s minus 8 ability into a Torrential Gearhulk, free-casting a Glimmer of Genius, attacking, and then having it returned to my hand to do it all over again on my opponent's end step... Wow!Back to top
Right out of the gate, I was paired against RW Vehicles, and what I felt was my worst match up. The pilot of the deck was also very capable, and was used to playing aggro. He had played RW Humans previously, and even Abzan before that.
This deck develops faster then expected, and is constantly putting out threats. As the game goes on, I keep drawing into my sweepers: Radiant Flames and Fumigate, before taking over with Torrential Gearhulk and Archangel Avacyn, but not prior to going down to 1 life near to the end of the game!
This game starts off similar to the first one, with fast threats hitting the board. I’m able to one-for-one with the removal in my hand, eventually resolving a Nahiri, the Harbinger, which I was able to protect after getting chunked down to 1 life again.
At the game’s end, I was able to close things out with a -8 on Nahiri, the Harbinger into Torrential Gearhulk, returning Harnessed Lightning onto a Toolcraft Exemplar and blocking a knight token. At end of combat step, with an active Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, I forced him to sacrifice his last attacking creature with Blessed Alliance, allowing me to move onto winning the game.
I couldn’t believe that I pulled it off: defeating my most feared match up and winning round one versus RW vehicles 2-0.Back to top
Whatever is controlling my Magic matchup fate must hate me, as again I am paired versus RW vehicles! I know this before the match begins, as I had traded my round two opponent a Smuggler's Copter before Game Day. After the round one win, I was feeling like the wind was now out of my sails, about to face down this deck a second time, behind another skilled aggro player.
Not much to comment on here, as I drew into everything that I needed. I ended up living loose with my life, going down to five while dropping every sweeper I had, before winning the game with Torrential Gearhulk.
I lucked out again, drawing into sweepers and heavy counter magic, while still being chunked down to six life. At this point, I stabilized, taking the game over and winning with Wandering Fumarole.
I was flying pretty high off of back-to-back wins over Vehicles. I liked my odds going forward, observing other games in action, and getting to see what was being played.
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I realized that nothing about today was going to be easy for me as round three pairings rolled out. I’m now facing UW Control. My friend, Peter (who I’ll talk about more later on), is at the helm of this deck. Peter is a great control player, and I feel that he's better at this type of Magic than I am. My skill is about to be tested.
I have a lot of dead cards in this match-up, as he's playing similar flash creatures to mine, but has more counter-magic main-board than I do. I draw into optimal cards for this conflict, resolving Archangel Avacyn, which I was able to protect and use to close out the game. My life total was untouched.
Feeling good about this win, I also know that Peter is a clever player and will be much stronger in Game 2.
I sideboard into more counter magic, as I feel that counterspells, and the tempo gained from them, will be what the next game is all about.
Just as I expected, things became really counter-heavy. I was baited into a counter-exchange that put me into a position I couldn’t recover from. Peter bested me, closing the game with an Archangel Avacyn of his own.
Going back to a point I made earlier about Peter being a clever player, I want to elaborate a bit. He used Scatter to the Winds over Void Shatter in his deck, which made his Ceremonious Rejection stronger, as he had a one-mana answer to my Void Shatter, while I had no Dispel to answer in a similar fashion. He was also playing Dispel. This card led to him winning almost every counter-war.
Due to the length of games one and two, we were left with less than five minutes to play game three. We drew the final game, finishing 1-1-1. Ugh! Control mirror-matches are draining…Back to top
In round four, I was paired against the son of the player running the vehicles deck I faced in round one. He’s also doing well. Peter looks over to me at the start of the round, laughs to himself and says, “Oh, have fun versus that deck!” Boy, I can’t wait until the next time we play Commander, and somebody takes him out!
My opponent plays a UR fast-land, and I’m sure it’s going to be a mirror match-up. I settle in for another long set. Turn four comes around, after both of us were just passing back and forth to one another. Then, it happens... he plays a Dynavolt Tower.
I have mass creature removal in my hand and Nahiri, the Harbinger... Yes! He passes the turn to me, and I drop Nahiri, the Harbinger. He can’t bolt anything with the Dynavolt Tower now, in fear of losing it on my turn. I promptly plus Nahiri, the Harbinger to get some breathing room, and he bolts on my end step. This dance goes on for a turn, until my Wandering Fumarole untaps, and starts smashing for four. I eventually catch the Dynavolt Tower, as it bolts one of my Wandering Fumaroles in attempt to gain an extra turn to answer. I close game one out with my Wandering Fumarole.
I sideboard out every creature removal card I can, bringing in all of my counter-magic, including Spell Quellers. I take game two by countering a Dynavolt Tower with Void Shatter, and attacking with Spell Queller and Wandering Fumarole.
With round four in the books, I think that I now have enough points to lock in a Top 8 birth, but I’m not entirely sure, due to my draw earlier, and the outcome of some other matches. The people beside me are trying to work out their points, and determine if they can intentionally draw and still make it into Top 8.
With a draw in the next round, I can definitely make Top 8. However, a loss could possibly mean that I just miss out.Back to top
My next opponent, who I know well and have a small rivalry with, looks me straight in the eyes and says, “I’m still salty about my last Game Day loss to you. We’re playing.”
My friend is playing R/G Pummeler. This is a deck that I didn’t expect to see once today, let alone the multiple copies that were being run across the tournament. This deck was dubbed a “Poison-less Infect” deck, as it kills in the same fashion as its namesake, except through 40/40 Tramplers, rather than unblockable creatures.
Knowing what he’s playing, I feel certain that this should be a safe match-up for me. If I play smart, dump the Electrostatic Pummelers, and kill things only when he is tapped out, I should weather the storm and win the match.
I stick to my game plan, and it works out well. I save my counter-magic for the big-hitters, and suck up some damage from early threats. I don’t let Bristling Hydra and Electrostatic Pummeler go off. I close this game with Archangel Avacyn and Torrential Gearhulk.
My game only gets stronger versus this deck post-sideboard, and I take game two as well.Back to top
After five rounds of Swiss play, I am on top of the leader board, just like the last Game Day. I have my eye on another Champion’s Playmat. With my only game loss coming to Peter’s UW Control, I know I wont be facing him, as he sits just beneath me, in second place. We both look forward to progressing through the Top 8 to the Finals.
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I couldn’t have been more wrong!
In the quarterfinals, I again played my round two opponent: Keegan with RW Vehicles. This time, the match did not go so smoothly. He ran me over, short-handed, in back-to-back games. This ended up being what I can only refer to as a drive-by shooting, resulting in a trip to the semifinals for my opponent.
My Game Day ended just that fast! It was unbelievable, really. The third match versus that RW Vehicles deck finally did me in. I knew going into today that I would struggle against that deck. Ultimately, my prediction was proven true: it just ran me over.
Blue White Control Versus Grixis Control
By far, the most interesting match of the day was the quarterfinal bout between Peter's Blue White Control, and the Pro Tour winning Grixis Control deck piloted by Gavin.
This match took the most time, but didn't disappoint. Counter wars stacked up again and again.
At one point in the third game, two Wandering Fumaroles actually had a chance to boldly sneak in for a lethal, match-winning swing, but this tactic wasn't exploited.
Misplays around Spell Queller's ability stacking eventually ended up turning the match in favor of Blue White Control.Back to top
Two RG Pummeler decks advanced to the semifinals, with RW Vehicles and WU Control making up the rest of the competition.
The first semifinal match was over quickly, with RG Pummeler using its energy-fuelled mayhem to trounce the typically speedy RW Vehicles deck.
The second semifinal match was also against RG Pummeler.
This clumped draw soon proved problematic, as the Pummeler deck ran out of gas, with the Blue White Control deck quickly catching up through the card advantage of Declaration in Stone, Torrential Gearhulk and Scatter to the Winds.
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One of the two Pummeler decks in Top 8 advances to the finals. UW Control already destroyed Pummeler in its semifinal. What will be in store for this Aggro versus Control final?
The first game drags along, with not much happening, as the Pummeler deck tries to figure out how to play around control. He ultimately can’t get around it, and ends up being ground out.
Game two goes much worse for Corbin, as now Peter boards in the more controlling elements he has access to, and essentially answers every threat that Corbin plays, through Declaration in Stone and Spell Queller. The Spell Quellers start the beats, just like in game one.
At one point, Corbin was able to resolve a Bristling Hydra, setting himself up for the win, only to be forced to sacrifice his only attacking creature with a timely Blessed Alliance. Peter closes the final game with Spell Queller, winning Kaladesh Game Day!Back to top
A New Game Day Champion
Congratulations to Peter on his first Game Day victory!
Peter's deck is still the one to beat at Friday Night Magic, posting consistently good results week after week.
All in all, a great day of Magic took place on Kaladesh Game Day. 22 Public Library Players League (PL2) players showed up at the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre on Saturday, October 22nd, 2016. Special thanks go to the Library for hosting fantastic Magic: the Gathering events like this one!
Our club is clearly becoming more competitive, with many skilled players entering the tournament, and no easy match-ups out there! Great plays and exciting games were had by all.
I hope everyone sees what happens when we don’t take Peter out first!!!
Written by Jared Meeks
Edited by Jeremy Hughes
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