FNM was a no-go again for me this week since it was my wife’s birthday. We celebrated in style with a few friends at home*, six bottles of champagne, to include a magnum of et Chandon, courtesy of French L4 and good friend David Vogin, so I was truly revved to play with the 100 card decks on Sunday at Anthem Games EDH League.
After piloting Kresh to complete victory the last time, I wanted to trot out something new and interesting (although laying down beats isn’t really all that new for me in EDH). I’d played Thraximundar casually before, but this was the first time I’d trotted it out for the league. Here’s the list:
This was originally a Garza Zol deck, but when Thraximundar came out, I leapt at it. I hadn’t really changed the deck all that much. It will definitely undergo some overhaul, so if you have suggestions (Grave Pact will certainly be an addition, as will Goblin Bombardment). Admittedly, there are some suboptimal choices in the deck. They’re there because I have the card in foil, and wanted to make the deck (all EDH decks!) as pimpy as possible. I definitely wouldn’t call the deck tight, and it’s certainly not optimized to take advantage of Thraximundar. Those changes will happen. Anyway, onto the matches.
The turnout is 12 players, so we’re split into three tables of four. Advancement to the final table is the winner of each table and then the non-winner with the most points.
I’m playing with Dale (he of the Phelddagrif Group Hug deck) playing Rhys, the Redeemed (which is a really scary deck that explodes quickly), Molly, playing Raksha, Golden Cub and a legion of Cats, and Kyle, playing Karrthus. I realize that I’m the only player playing Blue, which is a real rarity in an EDH match. The only counterspell I’m playing, however, is Overwhelming Intellect. This means I should be able to do anything without worrying about counters–but it means the same for everyone else. I decide to make sure that I bluff countermagic whenever I can, just to keep folks honest.
I win the roll and go first. I keep a weak hand, initially mistaking Steam Vents for Izzet Boilerworks. I do have a Lotus Bloom, so worst case, I can play Thraximundar on turn 4. Things get rolling quickly early as Molly plays Steelshaper’s Gift for Umezawa’s Jitte. Turn two sees me playing Spinerock Knoll (for nothing good), Molly playing the Jitte, Kyle playing Edge of Autumn, and Dale playing Rhys.
Turn 4, I sacrifice the Bloom and play Thraximundar. I know how insane Dale can get with [card]Priest of Titania[/card], so I swing his way. He sacrifices the Priest. I actually hate picking on Dale since he’s a really good guy, but I also don’t want to stare down 30 tokens in a couple of turns, and the Priest is a real enabler. Molly plays Leonin Battlemage. Kyle plays Sulfurous Blast, wiping the board of everything but my General. Dale plays Elvish Visionary. At his EOT, Kyle plays Terminate (one of those new Alara Reborn ones; he doesn’t even have the good grace to play a Planeshift original), killing Thraximundar.
Turn 5, I drop Nightscape Familiar, Molly comes back with Blade of the Sixth Pride and equips the Jitte. Kyle plays Defense of the Heart, Mosswort Bridge, and taps his Forbidden Orchard to activate Jund Panorama, giving Dale a token. Given Dale creatures seems like the best plan to trigger Defense quickly. Dale does nothing, but when I activate Scrabbling Claws at his EOT, he plays Seed Spark. I have enough mana to active its card draw ability so he doesn’t get the tokens.
Turn 6, I play Phyrexian Arena and Skullclamp. Molly attacks Kyle for 3 with the Battlemage and plays Gilded Lotus. Kyle gives Dale another token to play Night’s Whisper. Dale absolutely changes the rhythm of the game when he plays Soul Foundry imprinting Reveillark. He clearly doesn’t have any threats in his yard now, but it seems like that could get crazy. He swings at me for 3 and finishes the turn.
Turn 7, I replay Thraximundar, having the cost reduced by 2 from Nightscape Familiar, so I only have to pay 7. I make the mistake of attacking Dale, and he hits Thrax with Path to Exile. Molly pumps her Pridemage to 5/3 before attacking and attacks Dale, taking him to 25. She plays Konda’s Banner and passes. Kyle gives Dale another token to play Ryusei. At his EOT, after much discussion on the best target, Molly Disenchants the Soul Foundry. This is the second week in a row that it feels like Dale is getting picked on, but everyone is terrified of his deck. On Dale’s turn, he plays Scapeshift, sacrificing all his lands to get five better ones (to include Windbrisk Heights and Mosswort Bridge.
Turn 8, I have no good plays except Jalum Tome. I’m sad at this point, because I feel like I should be controlling the game since I’m drawing 2 per turn, and I’m definitely not. Molly plays Austere Command, choosing Enchantments and 4+ creatures. At least I get to keep my Familiar. She then plays Shared Triumph for Cats. Kyle brings in Broodmate Dragon and gives us some sob story about needing blockers, and then Kodama’s Reach. Dale plays Karmic Guide, getting back his Visionary. EOT I active the Tome, tossing away Yixlid Jailer (seems like no one has good graveyard guys) and keep Agonizing Demise.
Turn 9 I attack Molly with Nightscape Familiar and Ninjitsu in Ink-Eyes, taking her to 29. I get her Mirror Entity. She takes out her frustration on Kyle, playing Raksha and equips it with the Banner, then swings at him with the 12/10 Blade. He blocks with one of the tokens, thinking that he’s not going to take damage. He then realizes the Blade has Double Strike; he goes to 16. Kyle retaliates by playing Hull Breach on Konda’s Banner and Shared Triumph. He then plays Karrthus, giving him the opportunity to activate Mosswort Bridge, which has Demonic Tutor under it. Dale pays the Echo in his Karmic Guide and doesn’t do anything else.
Turn 10, I clamp up Mirror Entity, drawing into Reiver Demon, which I play. I then Clamp Ink-Eyes and attack Molly, getting back the Mirror Entity. Molly on her turn decides to gain 10 with her Jitte. Kyle plays Tooth & Nail Entwined (which he obviously got with the Tutor), and gets Kiki-Jiki and Eternal Witness. He then copies the Witness to get back Tooth and Nail. I know he has shenanigans afoot, but I figure I still have a turn or two. It’ll turn out that I’m wrong. Dale plays Vigor and replays Rhys, and attacks Molly with a token that Kyle had given him.
Turn 11, I have nothing better than Solemn Simulacrum and replaying Nightscape Familiar. Molly plays Helm of Kaldra and equips Raksha. At her EOT, Kyle activates Kiki-Jiki, copying Eternal Witness, and getting back Demonic Tutor. On his turn, get T&Ns again, this time for the Triskelion/Mephidross Vampire combo. I shrug but then realize we’re sunk. He makes another copy of Mephidross Vampire, which means for every damage Triskelion does, it gets two counters. There are enough creatures in play that he can kill them all (attacking with his flyers first), build up enough counters, and kill two of us, which is enough for a group scoop. In retrospect, we should have made him decide who he was killing, but no one really cared that much.
I don’t mind that Kyle has pulled off the combo until he starts saying “I wasn’t going to, but I had to do it because I was going to get killed” and “I didn’t plan to go infinite.” I tell him the obviously he planned to go infinite since he put those cards in his deck, and got them out together. I inform him that the combo is only mildly lame; the insincere apology is completely so. I tell him to take ownership of his actions, for better or worst.
I still have a chance to win prizes, so I’m not completely bummed. The consolation tables have a smaller payout than the top table, but I’m mostly here for the wackiness anyway. I’m not disappointed when I watch one of the other tables. Ken, playing Wort, Boggart Auntie, has a few Goblins in play and many in his graveyard. He takes a cursory glance at the other three graveyards, and plays Patriarch’s Bidding. Everyone names creature types, and quite a few creatures (more than he accounted for) come into play all around. It’s only then that one of them realize that Pandemonium is also in play. A roar goes up from the table, dozens of triggers go on the stack, and piles of damage are dealt, with the game ending right there (one could even say that Pandemonium ensued – LSV). Fortunately for Ken, life totals were such that he got one kill and last man standing, which was enough to get him the wild card into the top table.
Rules note: The controller of Pandemonium chooses the order that the damage-dealing trigger from each creature goes on the stack, not the controller of the creature itself (although the creature’s controller chooses the target). In a situation like this, you can actually end up with a kill after you’ve been eliminated from the game (although once the Pandemonium’s controller is gone, the unresolved triggers cease to exist).
I end up at a table with Dan, playing Sedris, the Traitor King (and the owner of the aforementioned Pandemonium), Jeremy, with Grand Arbiter Augustin IV, and Chris, playing Zur, the Enchanter. I immediately ask Chris if he’s playing a Zur lock or just Zur “good stuff,” and I’m pleased to hear it’s the latter. Chris is a very good player but also a good guy, so I trust that he’s not lying. It turns out the Chris’ good-guyness will help me a great deal later on.
I ask if we can roll 3d6 to go first, everyone consents, and I roll 18. It’s lands for everyone on Turn 1, and me and Dan on Turn 2, mine being Spinerock Knoll getting Syphon Mind. Jeremy plays Vedalken Outlander, and Chris grinds it to a halt with Standstill. This is an interesting play (I need to suggest Standstill to Dale for his Group Hug deck) since someone else has a creature out. I wonder if he’s up to something tricky. I resolve to not twitch first. I don’t have to wait long until someone else does, and it’s Jeremy next turn, who decides that playing Grand Arbiter seems a good tradeoff for giving everyone else cards. Chris plays [card]Path to Exile[/card] on the Arbiter and [card]Vampiric Tutor[/card]s, for some reason showing us the Sensei’s Divining Top that he gets.
The turns from here get a little more intricate, so I’ll try a clearer formatting style.
Dan: Makes mention how dangerous the Syphon Mage is. Plays Mountain, Infest, and discards 2.
Jeremy: Dawnray Archer
Chris: Puts Watery Grave in untapped, plays Top. We’ll see why he took the two damage next turn.
Me: Phyrexian Arena. Chris thinks for a bit, and says “it’s good.” I then play Mindless Automaton, which he counters (and draws a card) with Cryptic Command. I wonder why he allowed me the first and not the second.
Jeremy: Replays Grand Arbiter
Dan: Executioner’s Capsule
Chris: Glen Elendra Archmage
Me: Arena to 38. Temple of the False God and Magus of the Arena, which I figure will be some Grand Arbiter control. I don’t mind Grand Arbiter making the guy’s stuff cheaper; it’s the making my stuff more expensive which is truly annoying.
Dan: Hex, targeting everything but Aven Squire. I Wretch away Lord of Tresserhorn, Malfegor, and River Kelpie from Dan’s yard. His Puppeteer Clique gets Withered Wretch, which seems like a good choice for him, since it’s obvious he’s doing reanimation tricks, and he swings at Chris (to 32) before removing it from the game.
Jeremy: Enlightened Tutor, followed by Burrenton Cragtreads [update Editors note: no idea what card this is], milling Chris for 2. Chris Tops and mills away two lands. The Squire attacks me (to 36)
Chris: Attacks me with the Archmage (to 35), plays Zur. Jeremy mills Chris for 2 more, getting Enlightened Tutor and Plains.
Me: Arena to 34. Thraximundar makes an appearance. Jeremy again mills Chris, getting Threads of Disloyalty and a Signet. It seems like Jeremy is picking on Chris (although I think he knows that milling Dan might be a mistake and he doesn’t quite know about me), so Thraximundar heads Jeremy’s way. He sacrifices the Squire and takes seven. I play Jalum Tome and end my turn.
Dan: Plays Barbed Shocker and attacks me. I like my hand, so I play Chain of Plasma on it. Dan chooses to discard Nemesis of Reason to kill the Archmage. He finishes with Memory Erosion. This seems like it will be good for me if it doesn’t mill away my Living Death.
Jeremy: Attacks me with Cragtreads (to 32)
Me: Arena to 31. I play Temporal Extortion, and Jeremy decides to take one for the team! He goes to 16. I replay Thraximundar and swing at Jeremy (the temerity!), but he has no creature to sac, so he only takes 6 (but he’s up to an important 13 General damage).
Dan: Nothing. Seems suboptimal on turn 10.
Jeremy: Replays Arbiter
Me: Arena to 30. Whispersilk Cloak and Time Warp (I’m still okay with milling stuff). Chris doesn’t have a counter (or chooses not to). I hit Chris for 7 with Thraximundar, so I can activate Spinerock Knoll and draw off the Syphon Mind. One the extra turn, Arena takes me to 29, and then I swing at Jeremy for 8, killing him with General damage (score!!!). I play Shield of Kaldra and happen to get Blood Tyrant milled away.
Chris: Bitterblossom to 23. Attacks me with 3 tokens (to 26). Plays Wrath of God and Courier’s Capsule.
Me: Arena to 25. Pay 11 for Thraximundar. Play Solemn Simulacrum, get my land, and attack Chris for 6 (to 17). At EOT Dan Scepters me. I obv sac Jens, and my General gets bigger.
Dan: Scepters me again. This is obviously a move that shows me too much; he can wait until I either try to play a creature or until I attack (even if I attack Chris and he doesn’t want me to knock Chris that low on life).
Chris: Bitterblossom to 16. Drops Moat. Shouldn’t be much of a problem for me, unless I want to attack him with my General. He then plays Memory Plunder targeting my Time Warp (I thought Temporal Extortion might have been funny). On the extra turn, he plays Serra Sanctum and Convalescent Care. Now it’s getting really interesting. He Esper Charms away the Memory Plunder, but it’s done a significant amount of damage to his library already. He Clamps up the token to draw more cards. I ask him if he has any way of getting his graveyard back in his library, and he confesses that he doesn’t.
Me: Arena to 24. Pay 13 for Thraximundar, and show Chris the error of his Sceptering ways (to 28). I have 8 cards, so I discard Dragon Shadow.
Dan: Tutors for Cruel Edict and targets me.
Me: Arena to 23. I play Nightscape Battlemage with Red Kicker, fully intending Chris to counter it, since he knows I’m going to take out the [card]Academy Ruins[/card]. No counter comes, so I figure he only has one in hand and wants to hold it for something more important. I play Nightscape Familiar and EOT Dan Scepters me. I sacrifice the Battlemage.
Dan: Plays Sedris and passes.
Me: Arena to 21. Chris doesn’t mind my Dimir Cutpurse, since he has Moat in play, but objects to the Reiver Demon. He taps Serra’s Sanctum, pops the Courier’s Capsule to draw, but comes up with nothing. He eventually takes 2 mana burn. At EOT, Dan Scepters me again.
Dan: Plays Chandra, and decides to activate its ability to kill Reiver Demon. Seems suboptimal. He could have probably just built up a few turns, since he wasn’t really in much danger of dying. EOT, Chris decides that he’s had enough, so he bounces the Scepter.
Chris: Bitterblossom to 10. There’s a real WTF? moment when he plays Circle of Protection: Red. Seems good at the moment, though.
Me: Arena to 20, but I get only land. I need to try to force through some of the things in my hand, and I need more than a couple at once to get past what I assume is at least one counter.
Dan: Replays Sedris, and Chris responds with Venser. Dan doesn’t like it; Chris says that keeping Sedris off the board is a good idea for us. I concur.
Chris: Bitterblossom to 9. Clamps up token, draws two cards, and cycles two lands. Attack me with Venser and a token. I cycle Decree of Pain. I figure there might be Venser tricks in our future, so I’d like to get rid of it now. The card I get is Read the Runes, so I realize that I can keep from dying to my own Arena.
Me: I start wondering if decking is the way I’m going to beat Chris. I figure I’m going to draw something this turn, but it’s only Lotus Bloom and another land. I play the Bloom.
Dan: Looks at my graveyard for a while, then plays Sedris again. Unearth’s Chris’ Clique and gets my Reiver Demon. Attacks me for 9, taking me to 11. Fortunately, the Clique is RFG’d, and Chris doesn’t get to Persist.
Chris: Bitterblossom to 8. Plays Sower of Temptation, stealing Sedris. Clamps the token. EOT, I Agonizing Demise with Kicker on the Sower, taking Chris to 6. Now I’m really sure he has only one counterspell, and it wasn’t worth wasting on that. I double check all the stuff that’s gotten milled out of his graveyard and see the hard Counterspell there, so he might be down to just a few in his deck.
Me: Arena to 10. I draw and play Niv-Mizzet, Cloaking it up. I neglect to put the Shield of Kaldra on it, which I certainly could have, and it ends up eventually costing me.
Dan: Plays [card]Parasitic Strix[/card], draining me for two (to 8). Unearths [card]Faultgrinder[/card], killing Serra’s Sanctum. Unearths [card]Nemesis of Reason[/card], which Chris Mortifies in an awful hurry (since he was at 9 cards at the time). He attacks me with [card]Faultgrinder[/card], which is the point I realize that I could have equipped Niv. I decide to block and trade. Eight life is workable for me; four probably isn’t.
Chris: Stacks Convalescent Care and then Bitterblossom go he can go down to five, then gain three and draw. He does nothing else. EOT, I [card]Whispers of the Muse[/card] with Buyback, maybe looking for a counter; Chris is too clever to take that bait.
Me: Arena to 7. I draw [card]Twisted Justice[/card], and play it targeting Dan, getting his only creature, Sedris. I draw a fistful, and realize that I haven’t put Reliquary Tower in this deck. I make a note for later. I play Sword of Fire and Ice and Yixlid Jailer.
Chris: Bitterblossom to 6. Attacks Dan for 1 (to 29). He plays Zur, I try to Overwhelming Intellect, which he Mana Leaks. I only have two mana, so he gets Zur. At EOT, I Read the Runes for 1, sacrificing the Arena. There are few enough cards in my deck and I don’t want to get in range of anything silly, so 7 seems good. The match has gotten a little intense and has drawn a pretty good crowd from the other games, which have finished.
Me: I pay a pile of mana (up to 17 now) to play Thraximundar again. I Sword it up, attacking Dan for 8 (to 21), and an important 14 total General damage. I kill Chris’ token and draw a card from the Sword.
Dan: Shrugs, says “I might as well,” and taps out to target me with Disintegrate. My dear, dear friend Chris plays Gifts Ungiven and has me choose. I give him Slaughter Pact and Pact of Negation, dumping Liliana Vess and Top in the yard. He then counters the Disintegrate. I think Chris thought that he could beat me, but Dan had too much life and too many cards in his library and that he didn’t really have enough juice to deal 21 to Dan before he got decked. Dan plays Research the Deep, Clashing with Chris. Both get land.
Chris: Bitterblossom to 5. Swings at Dan with Zur and a token (to 19). He gets Oblivion Ring and takes away Whispersilk Cloak. I have Disperse in my hand, and consider trying to bounce the CoP: Red or maybe the Convalescent Care. I still want to play around his counters, since I’m sure he has [card]Force of Will[/card] at the very least in his full grip. I have enough mana to see what I draw, so I wait.
Me: I play Izzet Boilerworks, doing one of my favorite things, bouncing a used Hideaway land. Dan has no defense, and Chris can’t kill Thraximundar with Slaughter Pact, so I head in for a second kill with General damage. I then realize I have Blood Tyrant in my hand, and I should have played it BEFORE I killed Dan. Sloppy, sloppy. I then decide to Clone the Tyrant, so we have maximum pressure. I want to get his life total down farther (although I’ll be risking my own), and eat up some mana attacking. I have Obliterate and Phthisis in my hand, so the only thing I fear at this point is Time Stop, since Chris only has nine cards left in his library.
Chris: During his upkeep, he goes to 7 and draws a card with the Convo Combo. He can’t attack because of my untapped Blood Tyrants. He clamps up two tokens, digging for answers. At this point, I think that maybe all he’s going to do is try to gain a little more life than me and let my own Tyrants kill me.
Me: I think it’s all or nothing on this turn. If he has anything at all, I’m probably cooked, although I can Obliterate away the Blood Tyrants if I need to. On my upkeep, both of us go to five. I Jalum Tome into Diabolic Tutor, which I play. The only thing worthwhile at this point is Anathemancer, so I get it and play it, hoping he’ll miss the CoP: Red or that if he counters it, I might be able to next turn Obliterate and then float enough to replay it. That plan only works if he has no land, though, since he’ll be able to prevent the damage. Of course, he doesn’t forget. I swing with both Blood Tyrants to eat up more of his mana. Now comes the decision. I think for a good long time, and realize I have nothing to lose by playing Phthisis. I target Zur, still leaving myself enough mana to Obliterate. He looks at Phthisis, and says “OK, I’ll take 4.” I tell him to reread the card–it’s power PLUS toughness. I tell him that he can reconsider if he wants to counter it, since he’ll lose if he doesn’t. He tells me he doesn’t have any left, which means he didn’t have Force of Will or Time Stop after all. Big props to Chris for bluffing his hand. He had me completely fooled (this time).
I was right about it being an all-or-nothing turn. Chris had Death Cloud in hand, and was going to gain life so that he had more than I did and then Death Cloud for enough to kill me and not himself. Had he countered Phthisis, I would have probably still Obliterated. Local Judge Ben McDole points out afterward that [card]Obliterate[/card] might have been the play anyway, since he’ll deck himself on turn 23 (from drawing 2 cards each turn; Convalescent Care is not optional).
The second game was great and we had great fun. Chris definitely showed his colors as an excellent sportsman and player. I take one of the two equal prizes for the consolation tables and hear that Ben has won the top table by Mindslaver locking everyone. I call him lame and promise to attack him consistently next time we play. All in all, a great day.
Hopefully I’ll be back next week to play the 60 card decks as well; if I play FNM and EDH, I’ll try to bring you the full report of both. Also tell me if you like the formatting of the report of the first game or second game better; I’ll end up going with whichever you readers thinks makes it easier and clearer.
I’ll see you next time on “We Play Too.”
* Always experimental cooks, one of the dishes we made was medallions of tarragon and butter-poached lobster tails on a salad of celeriac and radish. It was pretty awesome. Ping me if you want the recipe.