May 16 2016 Monday at 12:53 AM

Duels Diaries - May 16th 2016 - Tournament(s) update

Hello Duelers,

At the moment I write this, round two is about half done between Steam and XB1.  It has been fun, and I’ve enjoyed watching and breaking down the games.  Sadly, I have to step far away from my computer for a while, and the coverage for the next few weeks will not be nearly as in depth, but I still plan to check in from time to time to keep the spreadsheet updated and put some thoughts about the meta on the digital page.  Tonight is a quick Diaries entry, I am just copy-pasting a lot of my notes that I wrote while watching the epic battles of round two unfold.  But before I do that, the spreadsheet -

While there were few conclusions we could draw from round one, things are getting more interesting just two rounds in.

Overperformers (so far) - Esper, Abzan, Blue-White Aggro, and several rogue builds.

Average (so far) - Superfriends, Bant, Ramp.

Underperformers (so far) - Prowess, White Aggro, Fevered Tutelage, Geistramp

Esper and Abzan rising to the top doesn’t shock me, and I find Blue-White Aggro rising above White Aggro to be evidence that Reflector Mage is worth it.  Some of the rogue decks like Blue Ramp and Allies are inspiring to see perform well.  

Superfriends is not breaking the meta.  The following decks have not lost to Superfriends (yet).  Esper Control, Bant, Blue Ramp, Blue-White Aggro.  It will be interesting to see if Superfriends can rebound for a currently sub-five-hundred position.

The format’s most extreme decks are struggling.  Aggro in the forms of White and Prowess, Combo in the form of Ramp and Fevered Tutelage.  This is often what a midrange-driven format looks like.  Decks that are too extreme tend to struggle when all the midrange decks had a good mix of versatile answers and threats.

I have packing to do and work to finish, so here are my match-watching notes.  I hope you enjoy them, and if I call you on a mistake or say I would do something different please, PLEASE don’t take it too hard.  I screw up all the time.  I find writing about lines of play helps me play better myself, and it may help the readers.  Thanks to all the participants for putting their games out there for all of us to watch and enjoy :) - Westaine vs Unreal - Superfriends vs Superfriends

This is like watching Sylvan paint dry.

First walker - nahiri - unreal

Second Walker - Ob - unreal

Third Walker - Sorin - unreal

Fourth Walker - Gideon - West

Fifth Walker - Alrinn - unreal

Guess who won?

Game two -

First walker - Gideon - unreal

Second walker - Gideon - west

Third walker - Arlinn - unreal

Fourth Walker - Ob - west

Important to note that I don’t put mirror matches on the spreadsheet, the point of the sheet is to track matchups in competitive play and see who is really favored or unfavored, a mirror doesn’t provide any useful information for that purpose. - Peepy vs Hawkfire - Dimir Tides vs Jund Treason

Game one, Hawkfire gets caught cheating by Hakeem, nice.  He still loses because his deck is an Origins relic, nobody loses to Act of Treason anymore.  Evo Leap is still a good card, but Hawk’s deck is full of inefficient removal compared to the rest of the format.  Peepy wins with a strange draw and a dismal opening hand.

Game two, Jund really lacks pressure.  Carrier Thrall is very underwhelming, what is that card’s role?  Thing in the Ice also underwhelms, Peepy doesn’t have enough creatures to keep it from becoming an easy target for the opponent’s removal.  I also didn’t get to see Brain in a Jar do it’s thing.  Anyway, this deck comes down to low pressure and high Tides. - Esper vs UR Eldrazi - Witty vs Aba

Game one - Aba doesn’t have colorless mana early and gets stuck on lands, Witty flips Jace and has a hand full of removal.  This game appears to be over around turn four.

Game two - Turn two Jace again, again no removal from the Eldrazi.  No play at all in fact from Eldrazi for turns one through three, that seems bad against control.  Gideon even shows up to make this game faster and more lopsided than game one.  Aba’s deck is too slow to steal anything from under witty and doesn’t have enough power to go over the top, I am sure Esper loves this matchup. - Marnel vs crazyrazor - Geistramp vs Red Aggro

One of the slowest decks faces one of the fastest, and we know who that often favors.  

Game one - Turn one Glory Chaser, will this ever go out of style in Duels?  Likely not.  Fortunately for Marnel, razor extends like crazy into the arms of a Chandra who sweeps the board, and the red mage has no creatures to follow up with.  Once I saw Nissa’s Revelation and Radiant Flames off Pore Over the Pages, I knew Geistramp likely had this one in the bag.  Eventually Part the Waterveil puts an end to things.

Game two - Yuck, that hand!  Matched only by the awkwardness of Bonded Construct and Molten Vortex.  Koziek’s Return shows up, and Marnel is drawing out of that nasty hand pretty well.  Abbot into Bloodlust is about as good as it gets off the top for Razor.  An awesome Pieces of the Puzzle comes out too late.  Interesting choice by Razor to play around Fog in that spot, it works out for him.  

Game three - Glory Chaser is chasing glory again, turn one, on the play, followed by Bloodlust.  Man that feels rotten.  Radiant Flames tries to clean things up, but another defensive Titan’s strength keeps Glory Chaser in the battle.  It would have been the ultimate pieces of the puzzle letdown if Marnel had flipped Fog and couldn’t chose it.  Sometimes the red mage has it all, being on the play, glory chaser, auras, titan’s strength, the whole nine yards. - Divinevert vs Steely Danno - Esper vs Superfriends

One of the key meta matchups for XB1 gets depressed by a game one mulligan to three on the Superfriends side.  No real contest here.

Game two.  Another laggy video, I watch so you don’t have to!  As we have cheaper power cards now, Horribly Awry has become so much better.  You know what else is pretty awesome?  Confirm Suspicions.  It almost doesn’t matter what you counter with it, I think I used it in an Esper Mirror to counter a Telling Time because my opponent tapped low and I knew it would resolve.  The three cards off it are AWESOME, and when your opponent hits you with one you just feel like you’ve lost the game if you have no active pressure on the board.  I was suspicious, now I’m a believer.

Don’t go to attacks after playing a walker.  Tick up or down right away.  Don’t get Unmade for zero value!  Div is halfway through his deck and Danno still hasn’t resolved a creature or planeswalker.  It’s hard to even say where this game was decided, maybe on turn two when countermagic came online and Danno never even got to present a threat.  Double Radiant Flames on a Knight token doesn’t seem good.  So ends the laggiest stream ever! - Wecoexist vs felbatista - White Aggro vs Superfriends

Another marquee matchup.  Can White Aggro tangle with the planeswalker midrange menace?  Game one.  I don’t think CoExist can ask for much more in a hand.  Another land would have been nice, that is about it.  Decision time on turn four, Knight or Captain?  I think Knight, you want to be ready to play Gideon or Tithes ASAP.  Captain may flip, and then you are further ahead, but if the opponent has anything it is just a bear.  Knight gets the nod.  Fel needs a big turn four, and what he finds are a pair of Rangers.  It feels like WeCo is way ahead, but he is actually in a tough spot.  His current board still allows three turns for Fel.  If he plays more creatures, sweepers become bigger blowouts.  He takes the very cautious road, and I don’t know if he could have really afforded to.  He ends up wasting his turn, doing nothing, and giving Fel plenty more time to fix his awkward mana.  You can just feel the fear of a sweeper seeping out of WeCo.  At four life, Fel makes his stand with Linvala, and now WeCo gets on the board, and now the sweeper comes in Chandra form.  This game is a good example of times when aggro can’t afford to play around a sweeper, they have to just go for it, the Superfriends deck is too powerful in the midgame and lategame.  

Game two.  Ambitious one lander from WeCo, the second land takes it’s sweet time but I wouldn’t say he is out of the game.  24:47.  This turn is frickin’ hard.  Wings on Kytheon or Knight + Annointer kills Gideon, so that must be considered.  If doing that, I want Wings on Knight because the long-term goal is to flip Kytheon and we would lose the Wings, so the safe line is Wings on Knight, pump with Annointer, kill Gideon.  Something more ambitious is to attack Gideon with all three.  Knight Token likely blocks Kytheon to save Gideon, forcing the indestructible activation.  Gideon goes to one loyalty, Kytheon flips and makes Knight untapped and indestructable to block an attacking Gideon the next turn.  Killing Gideon the following turn should be easy with your own Gideon, Knight and Annointer available, and it makes playing more creatures to the board a better proposition because a sweeper doesn’t wreck you.  As we will soon see, Knight will survive an Ob hit with indestructible, and with Wings that Knight can do a lot of damage the next turn.  An issue is that WeCo has the other Gideon in hand, and you don’t want to cast that if Kytheon flips.  Still, with plenty of other plays available including Irregulars, I like the Kytheon flip line.  Now I will hit play and see what WeCo chooses.  WeCo takes the line of Wings on Kytheon, and he goes for Fel’s face.  I understand aggression, but it is too early in the game to let Gideon clog up the board with Knights, and now all your eggs are in one Kytheon-sized basket, and Ob will have none of it.  In my opinion, the wrong line.  The rest of the game quickly becomes a bloodbath in Fel’s favor and - Batman vs indibidiguidibil - Mardu Control vs Superfriends.  Game one.  Batman certainly has a gimmick and is not subtle about it.  Nice dark, brooding techno music.  Oath of Gideon and Gideon and Ob on the play seems good.  I will be really curious to see if Mire’s Malice does work here.  Two Advocates put enough pressure on the board to keep Gideon off curve.  I think I would have cast Gideon and made a Knight anyway, Gideon on curve is dramatically better than off curve.  If Gideon lives, you can start taking over the game.  If it dies, you fall back on Oath of Chandra and Ob.  Yeah, I’d have still played Gideon.  Let’s see how long Gideon sits in hand and if he is effective later.  Wanderer adds to it’s legacy of just dying in this event.  Indi gets stuck on lands, something that is really bad in a Superfriends deck, so maybe all my line ideas mean nothing.  I think it is worth nothing that Batman always had something better to do with 4-7 mana than Mire’s Malice, even when it was sure to hit two spells.  Gideon turned out to be plenty effective later.

Game two.  Wow, keeping a one-lander with this deck, just wow.  I think I’d have tried five, but it is hard to say.  Wanderer shows that it can be a boss against someone without a third land for their Anguished Unmaking.  Concession.

Game three.  I have learned that two-landers in Duels don’t mean you will draw land number three, even with 26 lands in your deck.  I am trying 27 in my Abzan and Superfriends list right now, and I still stumble when I keep two-landers.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep them, it just means you can’t count on success.  There just aren’t good ways to keep up with planeswalkers without plenty of mana sources.  Apparently Batman gets saved by the bug, as the screen goes blank and we get a new stream for game three.  Game Three part 2, The Bat has three lands for a change and an Anguished Unmaking in the opener.  Indi opens with Ranger and Oath of Gideon.  Yay for 1/1’s.  Batman blocks the Rangers because Declaration can take out the tokens without being Investigated.  Instead he has to hit Wanderer, which is also a juicy target.  Still, without life or mana to work with there was no answer for Chandra.  Plenty of salt from Batman as the draws were brutal.  Still, there are plenty of rounds and games to go.  Sometimes you have to get all the horrible draws out of the way in one match. - legendofchang vs puresynesthesia - Esper vs Superfriends

I was really excited for this match.  I like, but I don’t love, both decklists.  The archetypes are two of the most popular, and I would have either played Draw-Go Esper or Abzan in the event.  I feel strongly that Esper with eight or more counterspells has a great game against Superfriends, and Superfriends faithful have declared their results to be the opposite.  I want to see this play out on the tournament stage.

Game one.  Hand - 3 Lands of appropriate tri-colors, Jace, Scatter, Shrivel Shrivel.  I think I could call the game right here.  At least the first three planeswalkers are likely not resolving.  Chang puts up some pressure with Ayli and Nissa, but Pure just waits it out.  A lack of removal for Jace must have been pretty disappointing for chang, as there aren’t many targets for his removal spells in the match.  I believe Pure plays game one with the right amount of patience.  Chang playing Call before attacking opens up the Jace-block-flip line, so I think that was a small mistake that costs him two damage, and likely costs him some cards off Pure’s Ob later.  I don’t like the line of Grasp on Knight token, it removes the chances of double Grasp on Gideon if chang draws another, and if Planar Outburst is next turn’s line you may as well see if that cleans up the Knight before you Grasp it.  Perhaps chang is already on tilt.  I do feel Pure is a little greedy with planeswalkers, multiple times he could make an emblem and chooses not too.  Aside from Gideon, and in some cases Sorin, most of the time it is right to make an emblem when you can.

Game two.  A much closer game, and Tamyo’s Journal gets to show what it can do.  The card has been in and out of my Esper builds, and it is certainly a decent card against Superfriends as they often lack a way to remove it outside of already over-worked Anguished Unmakings.  Journal let’s you keep up in a card brawl or set up counter-tutor-clue loops with Confirm Suspicions.  Chang has man-lands this game, and he tries to ride them all the way to victory, a line that nearly works.  I still don’t understand why he abandons it midgame and runs his Chandra into a counterspell.  I love the Journal slam at 26:00, tap out now, leave counters up for the rest of the game and draw extra cards along the way.  Gideon shows up and makes an emblem, another play I like since a Knight Token would just be doomed and the emblem makes the man-land threats larger.  Bonds ties down Gideon and the march of the man-lands begins.  Pure’s deck is weak to the lands, Grasp of Darkness didn’t make the cut, so this is a real problem.  At 29:00 Pure sac’s a clue mainphase because he realizes he needs to hit land drops to stay in the game.  It works out, and discarding Languish is no great loss.  At 30:00 is where I think chang loses it, running Chandra directly into a Spell Shrivel.  If he had kept the pressure on with the man-lands, I think he wins the game.  Eventually Pure has to tapout for Ulamog or something like that to deal with the lands, and Chandra could provide hasty victory on a low life total, and as we are about to see the life total does get low.  33:00 Chang mistaps and misses out on three more damage.  I strongly disagree with how Pure plays the last few turns of this game.  At 33:25, tutor for Ulamog, untap, make clue number three, tutor for an untapped land, cast Ulamog, remove the man lands.  If there is a compelling case against this line, I would love to hear it.  Chang has already had his Chandra exiled.  Awakened Outburst won’t do the job because Ulamog can block it.  Someone tell me what I am missing!  And please make a Jace emblem as soon as you can, your opponent’s deck is mana hungry, forcing them to waste mana on a countered spell is such a stranglehold and is better than drawing five cards in that spot.  I love the way Pure played the match up until this point, but at near the end of game two I was yelling at my screen.  It turns out not to matter in the result, Ulmog deals with the lands a turn later and chang lacks an answer to Big Daddy Eldrazi.  Taken from chat - divinevert : “Wow, what an awful decision to play Ulamog instead of Sorin + hold counters”  If Ulamog doesn’t get cast in this spot (and I think it should have been a turn earlier), Pure’s Sorin or his life total could just die to man-lands, and chang still has Sorin.  Pure’s only way to cope with the lands + emblem is Ulamog, he has to tap out for it sometime, so the Sorin + flip for potential lethal is going to happen, the only question is when, and the longer Pure waits, the more likely he dies to the Sorin reveal as his life total is nibbled away.  The odds of death by one-off Sorin + is low, so you take your chances and cast Mog.  But make that damn Jace emblem!  Don’t forget to use the Sorin you cast.  Pure limps over the finish line but the finish is still in his favor.  

Aftermath - Chang had a meltdown and dropped from the tournament.  In my opinion he played that match poorly and should be upset, but only with himself.  Pure played well over 90% of the time, and I do feel Esper has a good matchup here.  A part of me feels for Chang.  As a young man I had many meltdowns and lost some friends because I couldn’t handle losing to players I believe I was technically superior to.  I am still not great at losing, this is something I know about myself, but what I regret most is the friends I lost, not the games I lost.  Chang is abrasive, you have to be to get called peepy 2.0, but when you take yourself too seriously and make a habit of putting others down, losing messes up the programming.  And you will lose.  In Magic, you will lose a lot.  For me, losing is by far the worst part, but if you don’t find a way to cope with it you end up losing friends, community and your self respect, high prices to pay for playing a card game. - Gemini vs Self_Induced - Esper vs Prowess

Game one.  Neither player has a quick hand.  The first threat is a turn three Mage-Ring.  Gemini does take one big hit on the chin.  I don’t know if I would cast Kalitas or Languish in that spot.  I don’t believe you can count of blocking against Prowess, so likely I would have chosen Languish.  Gemini has shown a habit of playing threats into his own sweepers, and Kalitas ends up chump blocking anyway.  If chumping is the plan, why not sweep then Kalitas?  If the opponent has another creature, Jace can bounce it and then Linvala can spar with it a turn later, and you still have Kalitas in your back pocket.  The card is too awesome to be a chumper.  At 13:40 I would cast Linvala, prowess goes big, not wide.  You are very unlikely to get the angel token, and if you do it is Languish fodder.  Languish eventually hits one Bully anyway, so I would certainly have prefered using it on turn four.  I dig the lethal Outburst line, one of my faults is how often I forget about the hasty 4/4.

Game two.  Yuck, another control hand with not removal and multiple expensive threats.  I am often accused to being threat light, well, Gem’s deck is threat-heavy for my taste.  There is a lot of pressure on Oath of Jace to deliver here, and it mostly fails.  Read the Bones is a liability in this matchup, and tapping out allows a big hit from the Prowess deck.  Will Gem cast a one-for-one Languish this time?  Yep.  Telling Time and still no creature, that is sad.  30:00 cast Linvala now or never gain five life….I get the feeling Gem is angry at Linvala for the Barney match. - Flayer vs Smoke - Simic Ramp vs Superfriends

Game one - Those aren’t many lands, and they both enter the battlefield tapped.  I am nervous for Flayer already.  I am not sure if I want Telling Time on curve or Krasis on curve, but Telling Time proves to be right, allowing Krasis or Connection on curve.  I am stunned that Smoke walked into Krasis, that is Simic Magic 101 in Duels.  4:00 - big decision time.  Smoke has done nothing to the board but ramp and Flayer has the only creature.  My play is Thought-Knot Seer, because I want to know what is up with Smoke’s hand, and if he is ramping towards Sorin or Chandra, I want to snag them now.  It is very, very tempting to take the turn and ramp when it could be punishment free, but I just don’t feel like I know enough about what will happen to me if I take that line.  Worst case is you take a Superfriend and get hit with a sweeper, losing two creatures, at which point the board is clear and you can get your ramp or draw on.  I don’t like Pore Over the Pages, we have all the cards we need to have an effective turn between Veggies and Thought-Knot, so I think the choice is between those two, and I would go with Thought-Knot.  Now I am going to unpause and see what Flayer choses.  Thought-Knot it is, and the hand isn’t too intimidating.  Linvala is an easy pick, with Call threatening to do some damage in two turns.  Now Smoke tries to Oath of Jace into untapped land into Call, ends up discarding Call to play Jaddi.  I can’t dig that, Call up Chandra and clean the board next turn!  Arlinn is such a weak planeswalker when you have to play her from a losing position.  Yuck.  From that point, Flayer stays well ahead and uses the big mythics to mop up.  My only beef is that I believe Part the Waterveil was just lethal and Ulamog was unnecessary.

Game two.  I think I would take the Skyrider, it isn’t like there is a great answer available right now and not having the Elf would leave Smoke way behind and unable to trade or race.  I can appreciate the next turn, ramping over Thought-Knot number two, you don’t want to run into a top-decked Outburst.  Nissa is awkward against the 4/4 flyer, and now I am sure Flayer wishes he had taken the Elf.  At 17:00 I think the play from here is Thought-Knot, as you have Nissa to rebuild after a sweeper.  It has been a couple turns, maybe you can nab something big.  Flayer agrees.  I would be very very tempted to take Radiant Flames and remove the chances of another Radiant Flames being a blowout and Oath of Chandra being just good Thought-Knot removal.  Smoke doesn’t do much with all those Nissa’s Rev lands.  It is a close call and in the end it doesn’t matter.  At 19:00 you can Telling Time, keep Telling Time and Natural Selection, Telling Time again into Selection and flip Thing In The Ice, hit for seven, if Thing survives to next turn you have lethal by tapping Wanderer with Krasis.  It is aggressive, and gives him one extra draw from Thought-Knot, but I like flipping Thing when I can as any sweeper off the top ruins the opportunity.  It ends up not mattering, the double Krasis line is also lethal. - Immortal Reborn vs Tarquin - Superfriends vs Green Ramp

Game one.  Running out Tireless Tracker is pretty aggressive, but Tarquin isn’t loaded with removal so I think it is a fine gamble.  I agree with taking Planar Outburst with Thought-Knot.  I keep questioning the choice of popping clues to grow Tracker when there are playable cards in the hand.  I can come up with arguments for and against.  Tracker is relatively safe from removal in this matchup the larger it gets, that is until Ulamog shows up.  Anyway, we’ll see how it plays out.  Immortal must be glad he didn’t spend Declaration the turn before so he can get Ulamog off the board.  I would have also played Ob and taken out the Hulk while I had the opportunity that turn.  I want to sneak Rogue’s Passage into Tarquin’s deck so so badly!  Sorin drains Endbringer for one more than necessary, I wonder if that was intentional.  It is amazing to me how long one Sylvan Advocate holds off Thought-Knot and the other Advocate.  Those guys just never, EVER get to attack.  Ob emblem wraps it up.  I wanted to see Tarquin cast Kozilek with an Ob emblem so badly.

Game two.  PAUSE.  Interesting turn at 45:30.  Casting Nissa isn’t very appealing in the face of Reality Smasher or flipping your Nissa.  Outburst is also unappealing now, but is likely a strong play next turn after flipping Nissa.  Linvala is a 5/5 flyer for six with no value, but if you wait a turn and take a hit from Smasher, she may rebuild your life total.  There is also the reasonable chance that Tarquin will commit another creature to the table next turn, he is a green creature deck after all.  My play is land, attack with Nissa and Needle Spires, pass the turn.  Let’s see if Immortal agrees.  UNPAUSE.  Immortal agrees picks the same line, and he will be rewarded with a Tireless Tracker.  This is one of those spots where I am confident it is correct to make a 4/4 with Nissa, bravo.  I love the choice at 49:00 to attack.  However, I would have finished the turn with awakened Outburst, targeting Needle Spires, and then suiciding Nissa for another 4/4.  Once Tarquin failed to block and went to ten life, the Linvala line opened up and Immortal made a nice audible to find it.  I thought Immortal showed some nice playing chops this game, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go far. - Barney vs Witty - UW Spirits vs Esper Control

Barney meets Esper again, a version I endorse more than the Gemini version.  I like all those counters and minimal creatures vs the walker field, but I am unsure how it fares against flashy aggro.  Horribly Awry and Grasp should hold the fort, but you never know when a Whirler Rogue will stick.  Game one.  Barney posturing to appear to have options, I’d be more scared if he did nothing quickly myself.  The flood, aka “New Orleans thing” gets real, and this isn’t much of a game.  8:00 I don’t think he will tap out anytime soon, but if you wait one more turn you can play around the four-of Spell Shrivel.  12:25 - I would have made a human instead of casting Always Watching that pumps nothing.  15:00 is Barney actually asleep on camera?  

Game two.  Barney has a reasonably aggressive opening, and having Avacyn available on turn four sets up a potential blowout.  Rattlechains flexes the flash muscles in convincing fashion.  This was UW Spirits at it’s best.

Game three.  PAUSE.  The decision near 34:00.  I feel like it has to be Mage.  You want to cast Gideon without getting it countered, and if you have two creatures the opponent is more likely to Languish or Outburst than if you have one, opening the window for Gideon.   Watching does almost nothing in the game, but it is great counterspell bait IF you have two creatures on the board.  I would play Mage.  UNPAUSE.  Barney plays Watching, and I agree it is a tough call.  NEVER forget Spell Shrivel, it is still an effective counter in this meta, and the “one blue” set-up makes it more effective than it appears.  It appears I was wrong about Always Watching, as it eats an Anguished Unmaking.  I don’t know if I agree with that, but I can’t see the hand.  40:20 PAUSE.  I wouldn’t cast another spell for the rest of the game, using Foundry and Abbey to keep pressure on, I would make every counterspell a dead draw.  Pins and needles here, let’s see what happens.  UNPAUSE.  I also WOULD NOT pop clues, I would pop Foundrys.  Barney casts his Rogue instead, and isn’t punished.  In fairness, his Rogue play doesn’t play around Awry number three but it does play around Grasp and Flare. - Peepy vs Divi - Esper Control vs UB Tides

Peepy doesn’t give a damn so neither should we, but it is funny how he plays better while not caring than most of us try-hards play when “zoned in”.  In particular, finding great uses for Murderous Compulsion.  This match isn’t something I am going to write a lot about, and it would be tragically boring if Peepy weren’t such a showman, so you should still watch it. - Lockhammer vs Donachaid - Abzan vs Blue Ramp

Very curious to see if Hammer can keep control over a deck that is built more around interacting with the hand than the board. Game one.  Lockhammer plays BW Control, no green no problem.  Not many lands in general, a bit of a problem.  The Thought-Knot Seer is a tough choice, but I think I would pick Sorin or Kalitas.  Too many kill spells to pick away at those, and at least Declaration lets you re-draw, and perhaps you can hit those later with Alhammarett.  It depends on Dona’s hand of course, which I can’t see from this view.  10:40 - Will Hammer walk into a Krasis?  Does he have a choice?  Yes, maybe no, respectively.  Hammer never sees land four, that’s unfortunate.  Put more lands in that deck Hammer!

Game two.  Hand number two makes Abbey look very greedy indeed.  Fortunately hand number three is acceptable.  Turn three, why not Vents?  Tapped lands, sequencing, it can matter.  Easy choice with Thought-Knot on Delcaration this time.  30:00 How about Lily before you play F-bag, then you flip her and get to attack Dona’s hand, which is probably a great line.  It turns out unnecessary.  It looks like Dona will need all his top-end threats to hope to win, namely the Eldrazi.  That game it felt like he got all ramped up with nowhere to go, and Fog didn’t buy enough time. Game Three.  Sylvan Ranger running into a Krasis, sigh.  When your opponent plays nothing on turns one, two and three you should probably assume they have it.  Maybe you don’t view Ranger as any great loss, but it is a resource you paid for, and it may have a role yet to play in the game.  The Hammer flood is real, it is turn four and I already feel like he is in top-deck mode.  I doubt Outburst will be very juicy vs Dona, but we shall see.  Flipped Nissa, things could run away from Hammer here, and his opponent reveals Thought-Knot he needs to Outburst.  At least attack Nissa first though, come on!  My eyes glaze over, this one is UGLY. - Bant vs Temur Ramp - Binderato vs boh

Game one.  I would play Fiery Impulse on three and slow down the damage.  If you draw an untapped land, you likely want to Arlinn and save Tracker for later.  If you draw a tapped land or Wilds, you can Tracker and get a clue the following turn.  The issue is that you don’t want to block with and trade the Tracker very much, and you should consider that you only have one red source and drawing another Fiery Impulse is a possibility.  Once the line is taken, you should consider blocking with Tracker, you likely win a long game with or without clues, getting there is going to be the hard part.  “Does he have any combat tricks?  I don’t know…”  Maybe I am too spikey, but I keep a printout of my opponent’s decklist handy for tournament play, it really helps in spots like this.  14:00 This is definitely a time for a Nissa -2, not a plus, you have the cards you need to win, you just need to keep from dying to some weird combat trick, and more power/toughness on the board will help you with that.  I don’t know boh’s hand, but I would attack at 17:00, you lose Wanderer but you have three lethal threats next turn and you just need a trick, like Infuse, to sneak them through the next turn.  This could have turned out lethal.  So a rough draw for boh and I feel like Binderato left a few windows open.

Game two.  Gnarlid has done good work getting in damage in both games, maybe it is a forgotten two drop at this point thanks to all the new hotness of Duskwatch and Advocate.  Wanderer into Reflector Mage, OUCH.  In retrospect, Bind may have been able to play on with more time, so he should have bolted the Gnarlid before taking four damage.  Doesn’t mean he would come back and win, but with more time Rolling Thunder could have started to matter.  Boh needed to spend mana and cast more spells, so Duskwatch would likely just be a 2/2 most of the game.  

Game three.  More mana stalls for boh, with 25 lands and two Oath of Nissa that seems unlikely, but I would try to get a 26th land into the deck myself.  30:45.  No reason not to attack with Advocate that turn either, four-five, vigilance, opponent tapped out with four power available.  Regardless, things look good for Bind from here.  Boh runs his timer to zero on the final turn without making a play.  I wish I knew what was in his hand. - StepUp vs Psi - Abzan vs Superfriends.  Another exciting battle between two of the hot decks in the format.  I like Psi’s list and StepUp is certainly representative of the Superfriends archetype.  Game one.  7:35.  I’d be tempted to call for Ob and get Tracker off the table ASAP.  Perhaps it is the case that Sorin is such an over-the-top play in this matchup that it is worth getting Sorin, I haven’t tested enough to know.  

Game two.  A Sorin fight and a “oh God no!” mistap moment with a Hissing Quagmire.  Sweepers like Languish look very awkward in these midrange battles compared to spot removal like Anguished Unmaking.  Three life matters, but I still think most decks in black-white should be running both copies.  Game three.  Man-land + Advocate beatdown at it’s finest.  The anti-case for Call the Gatewatch.  I prefer Read the Bones, and Read the Bones likely could have dug Step-Up out of mana troubles in this case.  Serious props to StepUp in a losing effort, he made a real game of what looked like a landslide in game three. - West vs Beard - Bant vs Superfriends.  I’ve been hearing from Bant fans that they like the Superfriends matchup.  Let’s see what happens here.  I don’t adore the Beard list, but those Reality Smashers may be a game changer if the mana doesn’t bite him.  Game one.  Does anyone else get the impression that Tireless Tracker is too good?  I think he goes in anything green at this point.  Alter Ego on Reality Smasher seems like living the dream.  Beard makes 23 lands look good, he always has a ton of gas in hand in the match, so West needs his card drawing walkers to get ahead and he never is able to keep them on the board.  Game two.  More of the same.  Linvala meets Hydra in a clash of the six drop titans!  Props for going after the life total and not the Nissa.  At the end West doesn’t hit Reality Smasher with Sorin, turns out he needed to if he wanted to live. - Otrisk vs Dream Maker - Bant vs Fevered Tutelage.

Another matchup between well represented archetypes.  Game one.  Declaration in Stone blowout on two Thing in the Ices!  This doesn’t happen as often in Duels because of rarity restrictions, but keep Declaration in mind when putting two of your rares on the battlefield (and yet, sometimes you have to!).  That’s a lot of enchantments and not enough ways to stop the creatures.  How about those clutch Captain flips?  Game two.  There’s all the control cards!  But Otrisk doesn’t have the small creatures this time.  That was a sick Lightning Axe/Temper blowout on the Essence Fluxed Thought-Knot, and a huge turning point in the game.  If Otrisk doesn’t go for it, and Dream lets him untap, he can likely prevent such a blowout with Avacyn later.  Game three.  It seems like Dream does nothing for too long, and countering Nissa allows for smashed realities.  I haven’t seen so many Reality Smashers in any other match!  Verdict - Blue-Red Control has a Reality Smasher problem. - Grimric vs thekryan - Fevered Tutelage mirror

Just a reminder that I don’t add mirror match results to the spreadsheet.  My suspicion is that the player who casts the most Tutelages will win.  Game one.  I’m wrong, you can also win with a billion zombies.  Game two.  This one is actually pretty intense.  I won’t say much other than if you are a fan of control mirrors, this one is a doozy.  Game three.  20 cards in each deck, one player has double tutelage, the other has tutelage and Chandra.  Who wins?  Another very interesting game to watch.  The method of killing Chandra is something I have never seen before, Geistblast copying Brutal Expulsion.  Kryan wins with just 5 cards left in his deck on a very epic final turn. - Justice vs Terazin - Bant vs Allies

This should be something, I’m excited!  Justice’s deck looks to be all on track in game one, with all the good creatures and Always Watching.  Well, every good creature but Avacyn that is, and she is on the Allie’s side.  Lantern Scout does a lot of work here.  The lategame turns into an epic creature standoff, and the alpha strike is lethal if you don’t declare blockers fast enough on big boards.  Tip - pause the timer before declaring blockers to take more time to plan, then you don’t run your timer down in the blocking process.  Game two.  Militia Captain is looking good today, and he is at it again.  Bant somehow ends up slow to the board with a lot of good creatures in hand.  A tempo deck being behind on tempo is a sad sight.  Terazin proves that if neither deck has sweepers, his creature synergies will be better.  And he also proves that Avacyn is awesome, but we already knew that. - pact vs GTFL - GW Midrange vs White Aggro

A rogue brew vs the most hyped aggro archetype.  Game one.  The issue I have with White Aggro is that even it’s curvy draws are not great, they require a few specific cards to make their dork armies great.  In game one, they don’t have those clutch cards at the right time.  The standoff is interesting, but inevitably in pact’s favor.  Game two.  GTFL has Thalia’s Lt at the right time, and that is a card that can make the white deck strong.  Tragically the mana doesn’t work out and pact has more spot removal than you would expect from the Selesnya guild.  Make a Stand is aptly named as the White Aggro deck completes an epic comeback once the mana is in order.  Game three’s video cuts out, and it looks like a close game. - Kryder vs razor - Red vs Abzan

I didn’t build this Abzan deck to beat super aggro builds, so I was personally nervous for Kryder about the pairing.  Game one.  Glory Chaser, always Glory Chaser.  Declaration on the Glory Chasers is for sure the right play, it removes most of the Red board presence.  Don’t be scared of the card draw, if he is cracking Clues he is giving you time to catch up and get ahead on the board.  Kryder figures this out a turn later than he should have, but at least he did it.  Razor floods, Sorin hits the board, Abzan turns the corner.  Game two.  Glory Chaser, always Glory Chaser.  Yay for getting double black for Grasp online early.  Razor runs out of resources pretty fast thanks to Kalitas and Planar Outburst, and Kryder turns the corner quickly with Advocate, Shambling Vents and Gideon.  

<3 CGB

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