Round 7: Eric Twarog v. Brandon Hauk
Unlike the previous matches this one would be one of all foreigners to the city of Boise. Both players are playing for top 8, but Eric is in the unfortunate position that he is paired down. Brandon Hauk is an Idaho Falls player who I roomed with for Grand Prix: Seattle while Erik is a face that I recognize as an avid trader and card collector from Salt Lake.
After both players declared no mulligans Eric started the game with a swamp and “have fun.” Brandon spiced it up with a Sejiri Refuge and Spidersilk Net. The three turns after both players passed with no action after playing lands. Eric finally broke suit with a Bladetusk Boar while Brandon matched it with a Sky Ruin Drake. Eric continued to speed the pace of the match up with Shatterskull Giant, but Brandon one-upped him with double Kor Hookmaster to Sleep Eric’s team. Eric unloaded his Torch Slinger on one of the Hookmasters and Brandon used a Kor Skyfisher with Kor Hookmaster to keep Bladetusk Boar tapped. After several turns of quick action Eric went into the tank to figure out the correct line of play to get him through the next several turns.
After a prompt from the judge to make a decision Eric cast Hellkite Charger and attacked with it. Despite wanting to block Brandon declined and took five. Brandon’s next turn was spent boosting his Sky Ruin Drake by equipping Spidersilk Net to it (making it a 2/7) and Seascape Aerialist, but no answer to Hellkite Charger. Eric again entered the tank on his turn after playing a seventh land to turn Hellkite Charger’s ability on. Before entering combat Eric cast a Gatekeeper of Malakir with kicker. Combat was disaster for Brandon because despite his 2/7, Eric cast a Slaughter Cry on his Hellkite Charger and Burst Lightning on Brandon’s Kor Hookmaster (who was blocking Shatterskull Giant) to keep his Giant alive and kill Seascape Aerialist at not cost. No answers to Eric’s board came on Brandon’s next turn and he scooped.
Eric started with a mulligan to six for this game before keeping. Unlike last game brandon was out of the gates with an Armament Master but no sign of blue mana. Eric cast a Ruinous Minatour on his turn. Brandon came up with the perfect answer in form of Kor Hookmaster which allowed him to attack unopposed. After finally drawing his island Brandon cast Grappling Hook. Brandon continued to keep Ruinous Minatour tapped with another Kor Hookmaster. When Brandon attempted to equip Armament Master Eric Disfigured. Eric followed that up with a Hellkite Charger but simply passed the turn. Brandon simply cast a Living Tsunami and passed. Eric passed on his next turn. On his next turn Brandon tried to use Grappling Hook (on Living Tsunami) on Eric’s Hellkite Charger but Eric had the answer in form of Slaughter Cry to kill Living Tsunami before it was able to deal regular damage (in addition to first strike from Grappling Hook). Following that Erik got into the red zone with Hellkite Charger, cast Crypt Ripper and passed the turn. Brandon’s next turn yielded a Grappling Hook equip on a Kor Hookmaster but that was stymied by a Burst Lightning. As Eric entered his next turn he had a dominating board position but was trying to figure out how to make sure that he did not lose from ten life. When he attacked with everything and used Hellkite Charger’s ability to get another attack phase Brandon congratulated Eric on his PTQ top 8.
Top 8 Draft: Going into the Top 8 draft I was told of a couple players that would be good to watch and Noah Sandler was one of them. Since Matt Hague and Noah were sitting right next to each other it seemed like the best place to watch the top 8 draft.
Pick 1- As Noah fanned the pack out he revealed River Boa, Heartstabber Mosquito, Bladetusk Boar, and Cliff Threader before finally getting to the white bomb, Felidar Sovereign. After mulling over his choices, he chose the Felidar Sovereign with a little distaste since he had wanted to play an aggressive deck rather than a defensive, but the Sovereign was simply too strong.
Pick 2- In this pack white continued to flow in form of Kor Sanctifiers with the blue cards in the pack being strong contenders (Into the Roil, Aeither Filament). In the end Noah chose the Kor Sanctifiers to continue cutting white.
Pick 3- This next pack rewarded Noah for his committment by giving him Shephard of the Lost to give him some strong defense and offense. Again blue was present but not strong enough.
Pick 4- Noah’s suspicion that white was open to draft was confirmed when he was passed a Kor Hookmaster. The creature easily made its way to his pile which allowed him to spend the rest of the draft time memorizing the pack.
Pick 5- Just as in the previous four picks Noah went with the strongest white card in the pack (Cliff Threader) over Brave the Elements and Adventuring Gear. Up to this point Noah’s deck looked to play more defense and Cliff Threader is a good, easy to cast two drop regardless.
Pick 6- This pack didn’t offer much action and Noah picked a Graypelt Refuge to keep his options open
Pick 7- This pack marked a small change in the direction of the draft as white dried up but green offered him a couple of goodies. This pack yielded Savage Silhouette.
To round out Pack 1 Noah got a Ruinous Minataur, Tuktuk Grunts, Khalni Heart Expediiton, and Narrow Escape. Despite the lack of quality cards near the end of the pack Noah’s card quality towards the beginning of the pack was fairly high. Noah’s review period also revealed that his second color was still up for debate between green and red.
Pick 1- Noah’s first pick offered up Kor Skyfisher, Windborne Charge, and Summoner’s Trap. Despite the strength of Kor Skyfisher to reuse enter-the-battlefield effects, he chose Windorne Charge which would help him punch through stalled board states if he ended up being anything but blue.
Pick 2- This pack yielded Tuktuk Grunts, Mold Shambler, and Kor Cartographer. Sensing that green may be open he took the stronger card (Mold Shambler) despite his interest in green not being cemented.
Pick 3- Pick three contained Kazuul Warlord, Steppe Lynx, and Oran Survivalist. Despite the obvious test of his color choice, he took Oran Survivalist to cement green as his second color.
Pick 4- The surprise and glee that Noah showed when he saw this pack simply couldn’t be contained. Even though the pack had almost gone halfway around the table, Conquerer’s Pledge was still present. Not only did this mean a great bomb for his deck but it gave him the fantastic signal that the three drafters to his left were very likely not in white.
Pick 5- The contents of this pack were much weaker and before and convinced him to pick the off color Inferno Trap over Tuktuk Grunts, Vatswood Gorger, and Khalni Heart Expedition.
Pick 6- Noah mirrored his first pick and chose Windorne Charge over Mold Shambler and Kor Cartographer
In the next few packs Noah picked up some high quality white among much weaker packs: Mold Shambler, Kor Skyfisher, Zendikar Farguide, Steppe Lynx, Kor Cartographer
Pick 1- Noah’s final first pick in the top 8 draft failed to impress and gave him a strong ally in Turntimber Ranger. He would definitely be looking to pick up a couple extra allies if he could.
Pick 2- Despite being given some strong offensive options in Steppe Lynx, and Kor Outfitter, he took the amazing SB card, Devout Lightcaster. The only challenge would be hitting the triple white required to even cast it.
Pick 3- His third pack certainly offered up the goods by delivering Kor Skyfisher over another Steppe Lynx
Pick 4- EVen considering his first pick from a couple packs ago Noah went with Kor Sanctifiers over Makandi Shieldmate and Vines of the Vastwood.
Pick 5- This pick gave Noah the easy choice in Kor Outfitter over a variety of off color options like Heartstabber Mosquito.
Pick 6- In this pack Noah chose Oran Rief Recluse over Vastwood Gorver to give him game against blue decks.
Pick 7- Pick 7 gave Noah another Kor Sanctifiers over much weaker or off color options
To round out his draft Noah got shipped another Kor Skyfisher, Tajuru Archer, and Kor Outfitter.
Before jumping to the semifinals coverage I have to mention that despite Noah being in WG, Matt Hague to his immediate left was also in GW and ended up with an equally impressive deck. As it turned out, they were the only white drafters at the entire table.
Semifinals: Noah Sandler v. Jed Dolbeer
An introduction for these two players is fortunately not needed because two of today’s feature matches have included these two players. After a quick deckcheck for all of the semifinalists the battle began.
After a quick look at his hand Jed decided to take a mulligan to six while Noah kept his first seven. To start the game Jed played a Trusty Machete but had no turn two play to back it up. Noah on the other hand played Kor Outfitter and attacked with it on his next turn before passing. Jed made his fourth land drop but didn’t have anything to follow it up with. On his next turn Noah used Kor Santifiers to kill Trusty Machete and Jed made his first creature of the game in form of Geyser Glider. Noah one-upped him with an unkicked Conquerer’s Pledge. Jed simply played a Plated Geopede before passing. Noah continued his assault on the red zone with Windorn Charge on Kor Outfitter and Sanctifier in addition to attacking with his six tokens. Jed cast Hideos End on Kor Sanctifier and made blocks and fell to 8. Jed’s next turn yielded Tuktuk Grunts and passed. Noah revealed lethal damage through the combination of Nimbus Wings and Savage Silhoute.
Noah Sandler 1-0 Jed Dolbeer
+1 Devout Lightcaster
-1 Oran-Rief Recluse
-1 Mark of Mutiny
+1 Vampire’s Bite
In a repeat of last game Jed sent his first seven back while Noah kept his opener. The first play of the game came from Jed in form of Trusty Machete while Noah cast Kor Outfitter. Jed played his first creature, Hellfire Mongrel, the turn after. After sending his Kor Outfitter in at Jed, Noah cast Kor Outfitter and Adventerer’s Gear. Jed used his Trusty Machete the turn after to dome Noah by four. The turn after Noah attacked with his two Outfitters which let Jed spring his Inferno Trap after casting Steppe Lynx. The following turn Jed cast an unkicked Torchslinger and attacked. Following that Noah got in the red zone then blew up Trusty machete with Kor Sanctifier. Jed responded with an Elemental Appeal which lef the life totals at 6 to 5 in his favor. Noah’s next play was a Mold Shambler while Jed’s was Geyser Glider.
On Noah’s next turn he went into the tank to figure out how to survive Jed’s board while keeping pressure up and eventually decided on moving his Adventerur’s Gear to Mold Shambler, playing a Plains, and finally attacking with Mold Shambler which Jed blocked with Torch Slinger. Following that Jed played a land to give Geyser Glider flying and brought Noah to 1 before casting Gruul Draz Vampire. On Noah’s next turn he attacked with his Shambler, Sanctifiers, and Outfitter. In the end he he blocked the Outfitter and chump blocked the Molder. Postcombat Noah cast Conquerer’s Pledge and when Jed’s draw did not reveal a land or Hideous End he conceded.
Noah Sandler wins 2-0 over Jed Dolbeer
As luck would have it the other semifinal match was about to begin game
Semifinal 2: Matt Hague v. Steve Canty
Steve started the game with a mulligan while Matt kept his hand. Steve started the game with Blade of the Bloodchief while Matt started with a Steppe Lynx followed by Cliff Threader. Steve continued to miss critical creature drops on his third turn while Matt kept on applying the pressure with his attack to bring Steve to 14 and a postcomabt Turntimber Basilisk. Steve made his first play of the game with a Hearstabber Mosquito and passed the turn. After playing a land to force the Mosquito to block Matt attacked to bring Steve to 10 and casted a second main phase Mold Shambler. Steve cast his second creature of the game in form of Bog Tatters but was forced to lose it the turn after when Matt attacked with his team to drop Steve to 6. Steve’s nex tutrn yielded Magam Pyromancer but Matt one-upped him with a Baloth Woodcrusher which threatened lethal if Steve didn’t deal with it and Matt had another land. Instead of an answer to the Baloth Steve’s turn yeilded a Gruul Draz Vampire. The next turn Matt cast a Beast Hunt for a Vastwood Gorger and cast a Cliff Threader. Steve simply cast a Blood Specter and passed. When Matt went in for the kill with Cliff Threader Matt used an Inferno Trap to kill it. Matt didn’t let up the turn after when he cast a Vastwood Gorger and passed. The turn after Steve cast a Gatekeeper of Malakir but was unable to kick it.
The following turn Matt thought for a few moments but ended up attacking only with his Gorger which prompted Steve to double block and lose his Vampire and Pyromancer to take it down. Matt cast another Cliff Threader on his turn before passing it back. Steve’s draw offered a Kamal Warlord but that didn’t do much to stop Cliff Threader from dropping him to 2. Matt continued to advance his board position with Territorial Baloth. Drawing of the top Steve cast a Blazing Torch to answer the Cliff Threader, but was unable to do anything about Matt’s three attackers to two blockers and extended his hand in defeat.
Matt Hague wins 2-1 over Steve Canty
Although I did not stay for the finals because of the draft offer from Dwayne of Seattle, I later found out that Noah Sandler lost to Matt Hague in the finals. Congrats to Matt!