When we left off, I had just finished Day One at 8-1, and PV wasn’t far behind at 7-2. I wasn’t entirely confident about the next day, since there were a bunch of Faeries and 5c Blood at 8-1 and 9-0. I didn’t think we were at a disadvantage in the Faeries mirror, but nobody in the history has ever actually wanted to play the “Bitterblossom or No” game. If neither player has Blossom, the games can be somewhat interesting, but that doesn’t happen the majority of the time. As for the 5c Blood matchup, I wasn’t so sure. It seemed like it could be rough, but I was 2-0 against Bloodbraid Elf so far in the tournament. I liked our SB plan of Flashfreeze, Deathmark, and Plumeveil, since we had good efficient answers to their threats.
Unfortunately, nobody else in my room made Day Two, as Kurtin lost in the second to last round and it was just the two of us in the strangely fancy hotel. I say strangely fancy since it was Tacoma, after all, and it just seemed out of place. A pretty nice hotel surrounded by boarded up businesses was just awkward. I got up at around seven, randomly enough, and bothered Cheon on AIM until it was time to go to the site.
Round 10 vs Gaudenis (Faeries)
Gau has been playing Faeries for 13 years, and probably in the same set of sleeves the whole time. A mirror wasn’t what either of us was looking forward to first thing in the morning, but there we were.
Game 1: Gau won the roll, which tilts the percentages quite a bit. Being able to keep a hand with Broken Ambitions as opposed to not makes being on the play probably better in this matchup than in any other. As I’m sure most know by now, if your hand doesn’t have Bitterblossom or a way to deal with it, it is unkeepable in the mirror. Gau kicked off the match by mulling to 5, which meant there was a reasonable chance he didn’t have a Blossom, since you kind of have to keep lands plus spells at five cards. I mulliganed a hand of seven that had no Blossom or Thoughtseize, but kept Scion, Peppersmoke, 4 lands at six cards. That hand is a bit borderline, but having four lands is pretty good in the event that he doesn’t have Bitterblossom.
The first seven turns passed without either of us playing a spell or missing a land drop. Gau finally dropped a Scion, which I let resolve, then I played my own Scion EOT. I had the Peppersmoke, but no counter, so I wanted to wait until I was more likely to resolve it instead of running into a Spellstutter or second Scion. I drew a Bitterblossom, and decided to pick a fight.
With eight lands in play, I cast Bitterblossom. Gau had seven lands still, and used a Cryptic as Dismiss. I responded by playing my second Scion, which was safe from Spellstutter or Broken. Luckily, he didn’t have a Terror or Agony Warp either, and shields were up. Even though he had a Mistbind Clique on the following turn, my double Scion let me beat him to death with Mutavaults. Once you get two Scions out, you blank a ton of their cards.
SB: +2 Sower of Temptation +2 Thoughtseize +1 Warhammer
-2 Broken Ambitions (on the draw only) –3 Mistbind Clique (Clique gets Terrored, and is so expensive that it makes casting it kind of awkward, as well as it not Timewalking them since they are all flash cards)
Game 2: Gau again mulls to five, and I keep Swamp, Mutavault, Thoughtseize, Jace, Sower, Spellstutter, Peppersmoke. That hand stops Blossom, and even though I don’t have Blue mana, it is drawing to a ton of outs. I obviously drew Blossom Turn One, making the hand ideal. I Thoughtseized Gau’s Scion, leaving him with just four lands. Unfortunately, he drew Blossom a turn later, and I hadn’t drawn any more lands. I did get some damage through by Peppersmoking his first token, and bashing with Mutavault, but things looked grim. Gau kept a second Blossom on top when we clashed off his Broken, which seemed a little risky. Playing the second Bitterblossom while at 13 life, and behind by a token, put him on a pretty fast clock. I peeld two Blue sources, and my multiple Sowers were able to keep me alive long enough for him to die from Blossoms.
Round 11 vs Nicolay Potovin
Ugh. As soon as I heard the Feature Match pairings, I knew I was in for a battle. I had never beaten Nicolay, and knew he was playing Faeries, both of which were bad news.
Game 1: We both keep our seven, and he started with a Turn One Ponder, which made him shuffle. My Thoughtseize saw Bitterblossom, Thoughtseize, and less relevant cards. I took Bitterblossom, and he did the same. Sadly, he drew a second Blossom a few turns later and I just died. Even Jace couldn’t do much in the face of an unopposed Bitterblossom.
Game 2: My hand would have been insane if Sunken Ruins was a Swamp, but instead of Turn 1 Thoughtseize into Turn Two Bitterblossom, I had to watch as he Thoughtseized my Blossom. I decided not to cast Thoughtseize on Turn Two, since I had a Broken Ambitions ready to stop his Blossom. I cast the Thoughtseize a few turns later, and he did have a Blossom for me to take, leaving him with Mistbind Clique.
I thought things were looking up, as I managed to resolve a Bitterblossom, but a nice sequence of plays left me pretty far behind. Nicolay bounced my Blossom end of turn with Cryptic, which I declined to Broken Ambitions, since I wanted to save the Broken for his Clique. He then Thoughtseized my Broken and played Clique on my upkeep, which was pretty bad for me. When his [card]Ponder[/card] the next turn didn’t result in him shuffling, I was fairly certain I was in trouble. Another Cryptic later and that was that.
Round 12 vs (BG Elves)
Game 1: I won the roll, and my hand was the reason you play Faeries. Bitterblossom, Mistbind, Broken Ambitions, lands. He played two Forests and a Wren’s Run Vanquisher, but Mistbind and a few counters later and we moved on to Game Two. I did see a Mountain, which indicated he may have Bloodbraid Elf and/or Anathemancer.
Game 2: This game really showcased how much of a beating Puppeteer Clique can be. I didn’t have a Bitterblossom this game, but I did have some early removal. After killing his first two guys, I tapped out for Puppeteer Clique, since I had a Mistbind Clique in hand. He cast a Cloudthresher mainphase, but that was all part of the plan. I promptly Terror’ed the Thresher, and Championed the Puppeteer Clique with Mistbind.
The sick turn came about when he attacked with a Vanquisher, an Anathemancer, a Kitchen Finks, and a Civic Wayfinder. I had the Mistbind and a Spellstutter, and the life totals were him on 18 and me on 4. I flashed in Plumeveil, and blocked the Vanquisher with the Mistbind, Finks with the Spellstutter, and Anathemancer with the Plumeveil. I Terror’ed the Wayfinder, and let damage resolve. My Mistbind died to Deathtouch, which brought back Puppeteer, which stole Cloudthresher. Cloudthresher and Puppeteer have a pretty sick interaction, and when the Thresher killed the Puppeteer it persisted and brought back Anathemancer. Mancer domed him for five, Thresher for two, and then I untapped and Sowered his only blocker and bashed in for lethal.
Round 13 vs Josh Wludyka (5c Blood)
Game 1: This game was pretty weird, and I think we both thought we were losing it for sure. I didn’t have a Blossom, but did have enough removal and counters to keep the board clear. I got pretty lucky, as he whiffed on Cascade twice, hitting mostly useless removal spells. At one point, he Bituminous Blasted my Sower, which was taking his Putrid Leech. He cascaded into Jund Charm, and chose to Pyroclasm away both guys. I was happy with that, since instead of him having a Leech he didn’t get anything. Still, I had a bunch of mana untapped, so if he used the Charm to put counters on the Leech and I countered the Blast, he would have been in much more trouble.
The weird part of the game started a few turns later, as I was racing his Putrid Leech with a Spellstutter Sprite. That may sound like a pretty lopsided race, but I was far enough ahead in life that he couldn’t really afford to pump. At this point, I thought I was dead, since my hand was 5 lands, and he had 5 cards in hand. I drew a Scion, then another, and all of a sudden he was dead. Turns out he had five lands in his hand also, which was an unexpected bonus.
My hand was pretty sweet this game, with Turn One Thoughtseize, Turn Two Blossom. He did have double [card]Putrid Leech[/card], so I couldn’t stop him from resolving one, but I bounced it with Cryptic then Spellstuttered it. He missed on Cascade again, as he Blasted one of my Faerie tokens and hit [card]Path to Exile[/card]. Eventually, my Mistbind plus Puppeteer Clique overwhelmed his hand of blanks.
Presumably, I was a match short of being able to draw in to Top 8, as was Paulo.
Round 14 vs Owen Turtenwald (UW Lark)
Game 1: This game looked close at points, but the fact that I had Jace out for basically the entire game meant it was never that close. I constantly had a full grip, and even though he Sowered a Scion and got out Reveillark, I was able to play double Scion, Sower, and use Cryptic to tap his team and bash.
Game 2: I Thoughtseized on Turn One, and saw Meddling Mage, Negate, Cryptic Command, and lands. I had a Bitterblossom and an Agony Warp, so I took the Negate. He dropped the Meddling Mage and named Blossom, and I Agony Warped it. So far, so good. He then dropped another Meddling Mage, which pretty much wrecked me. I couldn’t play Blossom, and Mage plus a [card]Kitchen Finks[/card] killed me pretty quickly.
Game 3: Owen got stuck on two lands this game, and I Terror’ed and Spellstuttered both Meddling Mages he played. I wasn’t doing much either, but Spellstutter plus Faerie Conclave attacked for like five turns, and by the time he found a fourth land I was able to use Sowers to get in the last few points. This matchup was pretty favorable, and once I boarded in Plumeveils (which I didn’t for Game 2), I felt like it would be pretty difficult to lose.
Sadly, despite being 400 players less than Barcelona (where an x-2-1 made Top 8), no 12-2-1’s were going to Top 8. That meant PV and I had to battle our last round to make it in.
Round 15 vs Hunter Burton (GW Tokens)
I knew Hunter was Tokens, as I saw him beat multiple Faeries players I knew during the tournament.
Game 1: I kept a solid but unexciting hand on the draw, and just hoped his draw wasn’t too fast. Luckily, his first play was a Turn Three Spectral Procession, which I gladly Broken Ambitions’ed. After that, my double Cryptic and triple Mistbind stopped him from doing anything relevant for the rest of the game. I almost countered Overrun and drew a card, but then realized I could obviously just tap his team and draw a card instead.
Game 2: This game was much tougher, mostly because I didn’t have triple Blue for my Cryptic Commands. I had the early Bitterblossom, and he didn’t have all that many early plays. He missed his third land drop for a few turns, but then hit a pocket of lands. He mainphased a Cloudthresher on turn six, but I had a Bitterblossom out to continually chump it. I countered a Cloudgoat with Broken Ambitions, and the clash revealed a Secluded Glen. I had Island, Swamp, Mutavault in play, so Glen didn’t let me cast the double Cryptic I had in my hand by itself. I thought about shipping it to the bottom and hoping for a Sunken Ruins, but decided that would be too greedy. I managed to peel an Island the turn after, putting me back into safer territory.
I ran out Puppeteer Clique to steal his Cloudgoat, and almost died to his second Thresher (evoked, luckily) plus Overrun. That took me to 2, and Bitterblossom took me to 1, but I had Mistbind to get rid of the Blossom and enough guys to swarm around his Thresher and kill him.
I was now locked in for Top 8, as was PV after beating 5 color Bloodbraid control. This is the second time me and PV have Top 8ed playing the same deck (GP San Francisco being the other); maybe we should play the same deck more often!
Top 8 vs Yann Massicard
Game 1: This game wasn’t too eventful, as I dropped a turn two Bitterblossom on the play, and just countered all of his spells. He did resolve a turn two Qasali Pridemage, but it bashing for three a turn wasn’t enough to stop me from killing him with fliers. He could have killed the Bitterblossom at some point, but I had the second one in hand, so that would have just been good for me.
Game 2: He had the nuts this game, and although my draw was also good, it just couldn’t compete. He had turn 1 Harbinger for Doran, turn 2 Pridemage, turn 3 Doran, turn 4 second Pridemage. I did have turn 2 Blossom, turn 3 counter, turn 4 Sower, and turn 5 Masticore, but his Path for my Sower and Zealous Persecution to bash through the Masticore ended me. I was so close to stabilizing, but he had all the answers.
Game 3: Sadly, my tournament ended in a somewhat anti-climactic way. I kept Mistbind, Sower, Sower, Agony Warp, three Islands, and never drew a fourth land. I would keep the hand again, since Sower is very good against his deck, but the risk is there, and I caught the wrong end of it. Oh well.
The tournament went way better than I expected, as we were really unsure about what to play, almost right until the event started. I usually have a better idea of what I want to use, but since both PV and I made Top 8, I guess we chose wisely (or something).
As I write this, PV and Wrapter are battling Block, while Gerry and Webster and Penick are Modoing in our room in Hawaii. I guess I should get back to breaking Block, as not knowing what to play just won’t cut in a PT!