This weekend saw Good Games Adelaide’s largest Highlander which was held as a Christmas event with 5 rounds of Swiss and cut to Top 8. Thank you to Good Games for supporting one of the fastest growing Magic formats and putting on a generous Top 8 prize spread including a Tundra for 1st place! It was great to see many familiar faces and also a good handful of players for which this was one of their first official Highlander events! Adelaide Eternal and Good Games have been working together to grow the eternal community and we look forward to what 2019 has in store.

Disclaimer: as a competitor not TO this time around I don’t have access to everyone’s decklists but I did at least chase up the Top 8 lists (below). Instead I’ve decided to give a tournament report as a change of pace since there isn’t video coverage.

 

“So guys, what should we play?”

The AE team spent weeks pondering what the meta would be like… it’s SA so it’ll be fair, with tiny splash of combo. As a sanctioned event there would only be maybe 1-2 Time Walks, Lotus and Moxen going around so we could expect most people to be polarised between; 1) creature-based decks, likely a lot of Midrange where the points were spent in equipment and Pod, or aggro where the points would hinge on Waste, Strip, and Equipment again (rather than a Mox), and; 2) control decks where fundamentally the points are affordable cards (Cruise, Dig, TNN, etc.) and hinging on say a single dual land like Volcanic Island, so therefore some Moons and B2B to punish greedier decks.

Based on this prediction, we decided to curb our greed creep (blasphemy!) and only play 3 colours. All the decks we sleeved up ran 5-6 basic lands and were extremely durable vs Moons and Wasteland recursion. The next step we took was deciding what would be well-positioned against creatures. When we lined them all up, the predicted aggro decks would hinge on Bolt (not Swords to Plowshares) and small creatures. Price of Progress could present a nasty finisher which we were somewhat insulated against with our basics, but fast aggro rush and removal for blockers would be a problem. When it came to midrange decks, we could expect green to be front and centre, with Siege Rhino, Tasigur and other high toughness threats making us less likely to want to sleeve up red removal ourselves!

All these factors came together in creating the best-positioned metagame deck… BUG Midrange! Imagine this: Turn 1 Mana dork, Turn 2 Courser of Kruphix, Thrashing Brontodon, or Runic Armasaur… block for days then generate disgusting advantage with Painful Truths, Snappy, JVP, Jace, Spellseeker-Walk, a timely counterspell when needed, and finish the game with Titania or Swagtusk. The key to the deck was the turn 2-3 high toughness green creatures that could stonewall aggro with incidental life gain, or generate incremental card advantage to out grind the midrange mirror. Runic Armasaur is actually hilariously well-positioned in the current fair-deck meta on account of its 2/5 status blanking Tasigur, Rhino, Anafenza and other popular 4 power threats (and they usually have to crack a fetch land at some point to develop their board or remove the dino). Due to the high toughness creatures being integral to the strategy, a number of deck names were fielded by the team, including “I Like BUG Butts, and I cannot lie”, or on account of Hostage Taker “Pirate Booty”, and in a throwback to the Sultai Tempo version, “Booty and the BUG Fish”.

 

Right before the event…

Despite all our preparation earlier, pre-Xmas work overtime got the better of us and I nervously realised that we simply didn’t have enough hours of reps with Pirate Booty under our belts to be confident fielding the deck. We went with the old adage ‘play what you’re most experienced at, not what is best positioned in the meta’ so I thought I could grab the best deck in the format off the shelf and apply as many of the above principles to it as possible, without changing the core of ‘what works’. I shaved the green splash from my Greenixis version of Kess Pile and went with 6 Basics + Field of Ruin. Cut DITS to the board (Duress-Inquisition-ThoughtSeize) and ran Collective Brutality for the early removal (and backbreaking discard + life-gain against burn). Added maximum cheap removal plus Fiery Confluence main deck for all the equipment, pod, and for sweeping aggor creatures or mana dorks. Changed the finisher package from ‘best in a vaccum’ threats into ‘best against red aggro and green midrange’ threats by sleeving up Ashiok and Kalitas.

Last, I skimped on SB combo/ramp hate like Null Rod, Energy Flux in lieu of Damnation, Abrade and Flashfreeze. As an aside, Flashfreeze does literally everything Control wants to do: Counter red spells that finish the game (Sulfuric Vortex, Price of Progress and other burn, Blood Moons when you haven’t been able to fetch basics, and big red finishers like Wheel of Fortune, Hazoret et al.) and Counter green spells which are incredibly difficult to deal with. Here’s a list of green spells you’ve always wanted to counter but never realised there’s a spell that literally does it all: Choke (seriously, Choke… I’d play it for this alone), Sylvan Library, Siege Rhino, Titania, Green Sun’s Zenith for any of those (watch out for X=4 fetching Thrun), the list goes on. If you’re in a fair metagame and haven’t sleeved up Flashfreeze you should try it. If you’re in a mixture of fair vs. unfair decks, don’t forget that Channel is green…

This is what my “Anti-Fair-Meta Grixis” decklist looked like in the end:

The big day!

We arrive at Good Games and have great fun catching up with old stalwarts and new players all itching to get their highlander-on. The meta looks as we expected: a bit of red-based aggro, a bit of red-based tempo, only three unfair decks (2 combo, 1 ramp/artifacts), half a dozen control decks (4 of which are Grixis including me) and a WHOLE LOTTA midrange. Literally everyone else was on Midrange and the diversity was huge; Lands-based midrange, Value Junk, Dark Bant, Nono-White (including Yidris cascade versions), and two newcomers to the meta including a Mardu/Dega (BRW) and then James Arthur doing his usual innovating, a… wait for it… Nono-Blue midrange deck! Turns out there are more than enough X-for-1 spells even without the best colour in the format.

 

Round 1 vs Liam Whelan

AFM Grixis vs. Kess Pile

I sit down to my first match and meet Liam, an old school Highlander player who hadn’t played recently and was borrowing a deck from Beckett Wolfe. I thought it was not ideal to have to play the Grixis Control mirror first up, especially bad luck to be matched up against one of only 4 other players in the field when I had just meta-gamed AFM Grixis to beat the midrange grind… uh oh. So I ended up drawing a lot of clunkers like Fatal Push, Fiery Confluence and Kalitas whilst Liam cast A-call, then later Snap A-call and proceeded to have all the cards for most of the game. I knew I could never match the card advantage so I leveraged card quality and a threat by exhausting all my resources in protecting an Ashiok for long enough to -10 Liam. The turn before the ultimate he had to commit a Kess and Gurmag in anticipation of losing his hand (Kess without a graveyard is still an evasive 3/4). I had only one card in hand and I had been waiting to resolve it: Jace, the Mind Sculptor. I bounced Kess and chump blocked the gurmag with a fumarole for one turn to stabilise, and then it was all about Ashiok starting to tick back up again, play Liam’s Clique, continue to bounce the Gurmag, and then tempo Liam out before he could draw back into the game again. Game 2 was far less interactive, I just got beat to death by an attacker protected by countermagic.

Game 3 however was an exercise in truly interesting Control mirrors! With only 10 minutes on the clock left we played Land-go as quickly as possible to build up resources until someone blinked. Liam managed to resolve Keranos through a counter war with a clutch Pyroblast for my Hydroblast, so he ended up with a board of Keranos + no cards in hand, and then I was on 7 cards and no answer for Keranos! I used my many cantrips, Dack, and even a Dig through Time to try and find a threat, but it turns out none of them (except JVP, meh) were in the top 19 cards of my deck over those two turns. As expected JVP immediately died to Keranos bolt and by the time I finally found the next creature or creature-land we had hit turns. Unfortunately for both of us we ended up in a draw and it raised the very interesting hypothetical that we could theory-craft for decades…

Result: 1-1-1

Round 2 vs Ed Watts

AFM Grixis vs. Gardening Australia

Yes! A matchup I was ready for! My Anti-Fair-Meta Grixis deck gets to remove a bunch of dorks, find Dreadbore for Knight of the Reliquary, stabilise with a wrath effect and then finally start to close the game with the powerhouse attacker of… Baleful Strix. It is soon joined by a comrade, the rolling blob of tar and the game finally comes to an end. Game 2 I bring in all my graveyard hate, Damnation and co., and keep an excellent 7… that ended up having nothing to deal with a Marit Lage! With the threat of the token looming I buy time with Field of Ruin to avoid the early activation, but Ed jams life from the Loam and the writing is on the wall. I manage to flush the graveyard but only after the Depths and Stage have left that building, presenting the opportunity to have a 2nd token as a failsafe. At least I then resolve a hardcast Leyline of the Void to prevent future shenanigans (sure Leyline is pretty woeful as a topdeck, but it’s mainly there as an answer to Flash triggering).

I finally find a line but it’s tenuous… Dack Fayden resolves and goes to 4, putting a FoW and blue card (Kess) into hand. The first Marit Lage makes an appearance the following turn, and I am forced to put Kess into play for no value on 4 land (only 2 of which are blue, whilst I stare at Cryptic Command in my hand!) but at least Dack ticks up to 5. I have Force for any Path effect, but I’m still going to lose to Abrupt Decay on Dack… Kess jumps in the way to stop me from dying, and the following turn Dack loots up to 6 and I play Baleful Strix. Still no third blue source here and still very very dead to Decay. I hold my breath as Ed triggers Sylvan Library… no Decay, and Strix saves me for one last turn before Dack ultimate, K-Command your Marit Lage token. Another couple of turns go by and Ed re-mounts his combo one last time, creating his own Marit Lage… after taking 20 and going to 2 life with the help of Zuran Orb. Now the aerial monsters have a stare-off for a couple of turns until I Ponder into 3rd blue source, play it, and on my subsequent turn Cryptic bounce Ed’s token and swing with his first Marit Lage.

Result: 2-0

Round 3 vs RJ Hill

AFM Grixis vs. Yidris

RJ and I have a couple of really interesting back-and-forths, and the early game is dominated by his Leovold stranding Ponder, Brainstorm, and Ashiok in my hand. I have ample land drops to build my board in the meantime whilst I hide behind my early Baleful Strix, however none of them are fetches and I’d like to get a second red source. In the meantime RJ builds up his board with Shardless Agent et al., and thankfully does not cascade into DITS. I finally manually draw the fetch for red source and cast Fiery Confluence 3 to everything. I get deece value, Leo doesn’t trigger, and I fire off my cantrips to set up for a big turn that he never fully recovers from.

In game 2 a pivotal point occurs after trading haymakers, creatures, and removal spells. I put him on Abrupt Decay based on the way he tapped his mana so I never commit my Dack and Liliana to the board. RJ goes for a Kolaghan’s command to get max value with ‘kill a critter, return Kess’, but I have the sandbagged Mana Drain. When I untap I get to finally land Dack, loot, Liliana, return a threat for the following turn, and play Kalitas… with removal spell up. If you haven’t tried it before, heads-up that Mana Drain is a sick one-point card. He gets to finally fire off the Decay but the damage is done, and although Kalitas is killed later on, my zombie token goes the distance alongside a Creeping Tar Pit.

Result: 2-0

Round 4 vs Rajdeep Tokhi

AFM Grixis vs. Kess Pile

Another Grixis control mirror? I am overcome by a sense of déjà vu and question the meaning of life, and why I even metagamed against midrange and aggro. On the upside we have an extremely interactive and enjoyable match. As usual for Control mirrors, we play land-go and no one blinks. When Raj acts first I fight a counter battle over it, and he decides to taps out. Usually this is a great time for me to untap and land a badass threat but… my hand is full of counter magic 🙁 I am able to fire up Tar Pit and get in for 3 whilst still holding up two counters for the following turn. The same pattern occurs for a few turns until Raj finally finds the Fatal Push. He’s at 7 now, but has heaps of cards in hand, whilst mine is pretty meh: Fetch, Snap, Bolt. If he was on 6 I’d just wait for a tap out and go for gold… but 7 is a different story.

Raj goes for a big play, leaving open Mana Leak I posit, and I have access to 9 mana so I go Snap Cryptic, modes are counter + bounce Snappy. It resolves and my hand is now identical to what it was before but Raj has one fewer threat and is tapped out. I think to myself I’ve been leaning on Tar Pit but haven’t seen a threat all game and now is surely the time to draw one… And the Magic gods did smile upon me, I draw Kess, and Lo, it was good. Raj goes for two big draw spells of some sort, and then a threat requiring him to tap particularly low. I get to Snap counterspell the threat whilst playing around Leak still, untap attack for 2, then Bolt Kess Bolt for lethal.

Game 2 is another grind, involving finishers and counters for finishers on both sides. Raj has all the cards, but I identify that I have the tempo, so I attack with Tar Pit a few times, which eventually gets removed but Fumarole picks up the baton and takes Raj to 1 (whilst I’m on 16). Sadly my Burn has been exhausted on creatures (and Fiery Confluence is boarded out), so I have no live topdecks to lethal him. We hit turns, and being up a game I could just play conservatively and take the win, but I know that there is one possible line, and it involves Raj tapping out. Rather than play defensively I go for it, because I’d prefer to finish the game for reals.

He taps to resolve a bunch of threats in the effort to make for a big swing in the final turn and his board consists of Ashiok on 7, my Baleful Strix, and then his own Clique and Snappy, with a Tar Pit in the lands ready for a lethal swing over two turns. On that critical turn I bait with my own Clique in an effort to get him to tap out; he does, in order to both commit those aforementioned threats and resolve a flashed back Dig or Cruise to boot. However he has tapped down to one land and Tar Pit is out of the equation. I have only one card in hand and when he says “pass turn” I can’t reveal it fast enough: “On mine I’ll Deluge everything for 1, and fire up Fumarole, no switch” With Push and a Hydroblast gone, and Bolt not doing it, it’s Pyro/REB or bust. He doesn’t have it.

Result: 2-0

Round 5 vs Michael Hearn

We’re both locked for Top 8 with a draw, so we ID into the Dinner Bracket. A good choice as it’s 9pm!

 

Standings after Swiss: Top 8 Announcement

1st Place – Drew Carter (AE) on Jeskai Miracles

2nd Place – Beckett Wolfe (AE) on Value Junk

3rd Place – Liam Whelan on Kess Pile (Beckett’s A-call version)

4th Place – Sarven McLinton (AE) on Kess Pile (AFM Grixis)

5th Place – Michael Hearn on Channel Mirror

6th Place – Tristan Cook on Marchesa Pile *

7th Place – Rob Lark on Kess Pile (Mimi’s control-mirror version)

8th Place – Luke McGlaughlin on Snow White *

* These two decks are NEW and awesome! I can see great things to come from these archetypes and whilst the deck lists are below they don’t really do justice to the new archetype. I’ll be sure to grab both Tristan and Luke for 7 Minute 7 Point Series deck techs when I see them next, and link those here.

Top 8 DECK LISTS

(tournament report continues after these lists below!)

Swiss 1st – Drew Carter (AE) on Jeskai Miracles
// 5 Artifact
1 Chrome Mox
1 Engineered Explosives
1 Phyrexian Furnace
1 Scrabbling Claws
1 Sensei’s Divining Top
// 2 Creature
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
// 1 Enchantment
1 Search for Azcanta
// 18 Instant
1 Brainstorm
1 Censor
1 Counterspell
1 Electrolyze
1 Fire // Ice
1 Force of Will
1 Lightning Bolt
1 Mana Drain
1 Mental Misstep
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Remand
1 Spell Snare
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Abrade
1 Mission Briefing
1 Cerebral Vortex
1 Izzet Charm
1 Spell Pierce

// 6 Planeswalker
1 Dack Fayden
1 Gideon of the Trials
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
1 Karn, Scion of Urza
1 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
1 Narset Transcendent
// 6 Sorcery
1 Ancestral Vision
1 Balance
1 Council’s Judgment
1 Entreat the Angels
1 Ponder
1 Preordain
// 22 Land
1 Arid Mesa
1 Celestial Colonnade
1 Field of Ruin
1 Flooded Strand
1 Hallowed Fountain
2 Island
1 Marsh Flats
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Mountain
1 Plains
1 Plateau
1 Polluted Delta
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Steam Vents
1 Tundra
1 Volcanic Island
1 Wandering Fumarole
1 Wooded Foothills
1 Windswept Heath
1 Glacial Fortress

// 15 Sideboard
// 1 Artifact
SB: 1 Relic of Progenitus
// 3 Creature
SB: 1 Aven Mindcensor
SB: 1 Magus of the Moon
SB: 1 Ethersworn Canonist
// 1 Enchantment
SB: 1 Blood Moon
// 7 Instant
SB: 1 Flusterstorm
SB: 1 Hydroblast
SB: 1 Pyroblast
SB: 1 Red Elemental Blast
SB: 1 Submerge
SB: 1 Wear // Tear
SB: 1 Lightning Helix
// 3 Sorcery
SB: 1 Anger of the Gods
SB: 1 Fiery Confluence
SB: 1 Timely Reinforcements

 

 

Swiss 2nd – Beckett Wolfe (AE) on Value Junk

//1 Drops (13)

1 Deathrite Shaman
1 Noble Hierarch
1 Birds of Paradise
1 Arbor Elf
1 Avacyn’s Pilgrim

1 Mother of Runes
1 Mental Misstep
1 Skullclamp *
1 Green Sun’s Zenith *
1 Steelshaper’s Gift
1 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Snuff Out

//2 Drops (9)
1 Strangleroot Geist
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Voice of Resurgence
1 Stoneforge Mystic *
1 Tarmogoyf
1 Umezawa’s Jitte *
1 Abrupt Decay
1 Assassin’s Trophy

//3 Drops (10)
1 Courser of Kruphix
1 Renegade Rallier
1 Blade Splicer
1 Kitchen Finks
1 Knight of Autumn
1 Anafenza, the Foremost

1 Ramunap Excavator
1 Birthing Pod *
1 Council’s Judgment
1 Lingering Souls
//4+ Drops (5)
1 Restoration Angel
1 Siege Rhino
1 Garruk Relentless
1 Titania, Protector of Argoth
1 Batterskull

//Land (23)

1 Wasteland *
1 Karakas *
1 Horizon Canopy
1 Savannah
1 Temple Garden
1 Scrubland
1 Bayou
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Windswept Heath
1 Verdant Catacomb
1 Marsh Flats
1 Wooded Foothills
1 Arid Mesa
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Flooded Strand
1 Polluted Delta
1 Treetop Village
1 Dryad Arbor
2 Forest
1 Swamp
1 Plains

SIDEBOARD

SB Thoughtseize
SB Choke
SB Thrun, the Last Troll
SB Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
SB Zealous Persecution
SB Orzhov Pontiff
SB Faerie Macabre
SB Null Rod
SB Kambal, Consul of Allocation
SB Carpet of Flowers
SB Feed the Clan
SB Eidolon of Rhetoric
SB Etherswon Canonist
SB Obstinate Baloth
SB Vryn Wingmare
SB Loxodon Smiter

 

 

Swiss 3rd – Liam Whelan on Kess Pile

DRAW/FIXING (7)
1 Ancestral Recall ****
1 Brainstorm
1 Ponder
1 Preordain
1 Dack Fayden

1 Spellseeker
1 Fact or Fiction

REMOVAL (11)
1 Lightning Bolt
1 Chain Lightning
1 Fatal Push

1 Baleful Strix

1 Abrade
1 Diabolic Edict
1 Dreadbore
1 Fire // Ice
1 Kolaghan’s Command
1 Toxic Deluge
1 Electrolyze

DISRUPTION (11)
1 Force of Will *
1 Mental Misstep
1 Spell Snare
1 Thoughtseize
1 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Hymn to Tourach

1 Mana Drain *
1 Remand
1 Counterspell
1 Cryptic Command
1 Mystic Confluence

WIN CONS (8)
1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
1 Gurmag Angler
1 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
1 Snapcaster Mage *
1 Vendilion Clique

1 Liliana, the Last Hope
1 Kess, Dissident Mage
1 Torrential Gearhulk

LAND (23)
1 Creeping Tar Pit
1 Wandering Fumarole
1 Underground Sea
1 Volcanic Island
1 Badlands
1 Steam Vents
1 Watery Grave
1 Flooded Strand
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Polluted Delta
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Marsh Flats
4 Island
2 Swamp
1 Mountain
1 Drowned Catacomb
1 Sulfur Falls

SIDEBOARD
1 Anger of the Gods
1 Damnation
1 Fiery Confluence
1 Hydroblast
1 Blue Elemental Blast
1 Duress
1 Pyroblast
1 Red Elemental Blast
1 Flusterstorm
1 Keranos, God of Storms
1 Null Rod
1 Dragon’s Claw
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Faerie Macabre
1 Submerge

 

 

Swiss 4th – Sarven McLinton (AE) on AFM Grixis

//Threats

1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
1 Snapcaster Mage *
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Liliana, the Last Hope
1 Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
1 True-Name Nemesis *
1 Kess, Dissident Mage
1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet

//Board Interaction

1 Lightning Bolt
1 Fatal Push
1 Collective Brutality
1 Diabolic Edict
1 Dreadbore
1 Fire // Ice
1 Baleful Strix
1 Kolaghan’s Command
1 Toxic Deluge
1 Electrolyze
1 Fiery Confluence

//Stack Interaction
1 Force of Will *
1 Mental Misstep
1 Spell Snare
1 Hymn to Tourach
1 Mana Leak
1 Remand
1 Counterspell
1 Mana Drain *
1 Cryptic Command
1 Mystic Confluence

//Card Manipulation

1 Brainstorm
1 Ponder
1 Preordain
1 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
1 Dack Fayden
1 Fact or Fiction
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor *
1 Dig through Time **

//Mana

1 Creeping Tar Pit
1 Wandering Fumarole
1 Underground Sea
1 Volcanic Island
1 Badlands
1 Steam Vents
1 Watery Grave
1 Flooded Strand
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Polluted Delta
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Marsh Flats
1 Wooded Foothills
1 Arid Mesa
3 Island
2 Swamp
1 Mountain
1 Field of Ruin

SIDEBOARD
1 Damnation
1 Anger of the Gods
1 Fiery Confluence
1 Abrade
1 Hydroblast
1 Blue Elemental Blast
1 Pyroblast
1 Red Elemental Blast
1 Flusterstorm
1 Thoughtseize
1 Duress
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Faerie Macabre
1 Leyline of the Void
1 Flashfreeze

 

 

Swiss 5th – Michael Hearn on Channel Mirror

//Tutors (14)

Personal Tutor *
Burning Wish
Diabolic Intent
Shred Memory
Muddle the Mixture
Fabricate
Grim Tutor
Rhystic Tutor
Mastermind’s Acquisition
Increasing Ambition
Skyship Weatherlight
Diabolic Revelation
Cruel Tutor

Spellseeker

//Other Creatures (9)
Llanowar Elves
Birds of Paradise
Elvish Mystic
Elves of Deep Shadow
Fyndhorn Elves
Noble Hierarch
Elvish Spirit Guide
Auriok Salvagers
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn

//Other Artifacts (12)
Black Lotus ****
Chrome Mox
Lotus Petal
Chromatic Sphere
Chromatic Star
Darkwater Egg
Shadowblood Egg
Credit Voucher
Scroll Rack
Implements of Sacrifice
Kaleidostone
Lich’s Mirror

Other Spells (8)
Dark Ritual
Collective Brutality
Abeyance
Channel **
Manamorphose
Regrowth
Wheel of Fortune
Pact of Negation

//Lands (17)
Hickory Woodlot
Peat Bog
Gemstone Mine
City of Brass
Mana Confluence
Savannah
Underground Sea
Tropical Island
Bayou
Taiga
Verdant Catacombs
Windswept Heath
Marsh Flats
Misty Rainforest
Polluted Delta
Wooded Foothills
Overgrown Tomb

SB: Tendrils of Agony
SB: Abrupt Decay
SB: Xantid Swarm
SB: Overmaster
SB: Pyroclasm
SB: Monastery Mentor
SB: Mizzix’s Mastery
SB: Seeds of Innocence
SB: Maelstrom Pulse
SB: Duress
SB: Carpet of Flowers
SB: Virtue’s Ruin
SB: Bitter Ordeal
SB: Hull Breach
SB: Forest

 

 

Swiss 6th – Tristan Cook on Marchesa Pile

//CREATURES
1 Bedlam Reveler
1 Dark Confidant
1 Deathrite Shaman
1 Dire Fleet Daredevil
1 Goblin Rabblemaster
1 Grim Lavamancer
1 Monastery Mentor
1 Queen Marchesa
1 Stoneforge Mystic *
1 Tidehollow Sculler
1 Young Pyromancer

//SPELLS
1 Abrade
1 Batterskull
1 Bitterblossom
1 Blood Moon
1 Cabal Therapy
1 Collective Brutality
1 Divest
1 Dreadbore
1 Duress
1 Fatal Push
1 Hymn to Tourach
1 Imp’s Mischief
1 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Kolaghan’s Command
1 Lightning Bolt
1 Liliana of the Veil
1 Liliana, the Last Hope
1 Lingering Souls
1 Mana Tithe
1 Mental Misstep
1 Painful Truths
1 Path to Exile
1 Skullclamp *
1 Sol Ring *** (note this would be Mox Jet but for budgetary reasons)
1 Steelshaper’s Gift
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Thoughtseize
1 Umezawa’s Jitte *
1 Vindicate

//LAND
1 Karakas *
1 Shambling Vent
1 Blood Crypt
1 Godless Shrine
1 Badlands
1 Scrubland
1 Plateau
1 Bayou
1 Swamp
1 Mountain
1 Plains
1 Wooded Foothills
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Flooded Strand
1 Windswept Heath
1 Marsh Flats
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Polluted Delta
1 Arid Mesa

SIDEBOARD
1 Anger of the Gods
1 Circle of Protection: Red
1 Containment Priest
1 Disenchant
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Kambal, Consul of Allocation
1 Leyline of the Void
1 Phyrexian Arena
1 Pyroblast
1 Red Elemental Blast
1 Ricochet Trap
1 Rule of Law
1 Timely Reinforcements
1 Toxic Deluge
1 Wear // Tear

 

 

Swiss 7th – Rob Lark on Kess Pile

1 Ancestral Vision
1 Brainstorm
1 Counterspell
1 Cryptic Command
1 Dig Through Time **
1 Force of Will *
1 Gitaxian Probe
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor *
1 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
1 Mana Drain *
1 Mana Leak
1 Mental Misstep
1 Mystic Confluence
1 Negate
1 Ponder
1 Preordain
1 Search for Azcanta
1 Snapcaster Mage *
1 Spell Snare
1 True-Name Nemesis *
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Fatal Push
1 Gurmag Angler
1 Hymn to Tourach
1 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Liliana of the Veil
1 Liliana, the Last Hope
1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
1 Thoughtseize
1 Toxic Deluge
1 Lightning Bolt
1 Baleful Strix
1 Dack Fayden
1 Dreadbore
1 Kess, Dissident Mage
1 Kolaghan’s Command
1 Terminate
1 Arid Mesa
1 Badlands
1 Blood Crypt
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Creeping Tar Pit
1 Field of Ruin
1 Flooded Strand
3 Island
1 Marsh Flats
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Polluted Delta
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Steam Vents
2 Swamp
1 Underground Sea
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Volcanic Island
1 Wandering Fumarole
1 Watery Grave
1 Wooded Foothills

Sideboard
1 Abrade
1 Blood Moon
1 Collective Brutality
1 Dispel
1 Duress
1 Faerie Macabre
1 Flusterstorm
1 Glen Elendra Archmage
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Hydroblast
1 Magus of the Moon
1 Painful Truths
1 Pyroblast
1 Red Elemental Blast
1 Spell Pierce

 

 

Swiss 8th – Luke McGlaughlin on Snow White

//CREATURES

Solider of the Pantheon
Mother of Runes
Judge’s Familiar
Dryad Militant
Containment Priest
Stoneforge Mystic *
Phyrexian Revoker
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Leonin Arbiter
Selfless Spirit
Mirran Crusader
Brightling
Spectral Procession
Thalia, Heretic Cathar
Aven Mindcensor
Recruiter of the Guard
Angel of Jubilation
Archangel of Tithes
Linvala, keeper of silence
Archangel Avacyn

//PLANESWALKERS

Gideon of the Trials
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Elspeth, Knight-Errant
Elspeth, Suns’s Champion

//INTERACTION

Swords to plowshares
Path to Exile
Unexpectedly Absent
Mental Mistep
Council’s Judgement

//EQUIPMENT

Batterskull
Umezawa’s Jitte *
Sword of Fire and Ice
Skullclamp *
Steelshaper’s Gift

//MANA

Mox Pearl ***
Shefet Dunes
Eiganjo Castle
Field of Ruin
Karakas *
Dust Bowl
20 Plains

//SIDEBOARD

Grafdigger’s Cage
Land Tax
Sundering Growth
Damping Sphere
Celestial Purge
Rest in Peace
Timely Reinforcements
Aura of Silence
Kitchen Finks
Gisela, the Broken Blade
Day of Judgement
Wrath of God
Settle the Wreckage
Baneslayer Angel
Lyra Dawnbringer

 

 

Top 8 Tournament Report

As the announcement is broadcast and players wait with bated breath, applauses reign for the lucky 8, commiserations for the 9th place feel-bads, and we’re on to the big Top 8 playoffs! As we take our seats the TO reminds us of the Swiss Play-Draw rule and says “Drew, Beckett, Liam and Sarven, you’re all on the play”. I get a giddy schoolboy feeling as I realise 3 of the Adelaide Eternal Team Top 4-ed the event, and all that testing paid off. If you were in a House at high school or play any team sports there’s really something tangible in that feeling you get when your team ‘gets there’.

Quarterfinals vs Michael Hearn

AFM Grixis vs. Channel Mirror

The flutters die down as I realise that I’m against my hardest battle of the night… one of if not the fastest Combo decks in Highlander, and with Hearn behind the wheels this was going to be tough. Whilst being on the play helps, and I have mulled into an interactive hand, all the interaction is ‘soft’. A critical juncture occurs on turn 3 after Michael taps out for Spellseeker to grab Channel, so I end of turn Clique to put the Channel on the bottom. However his hand includes Diabolic Intent, Pact of Negation and 3 duds. I have hymn in hand but no counters and no removal spell, so when I untap on turn 4 I need to topdeck a removal spell for the Spellseeker (of which there are 11 possible hits, because it’s game 1 and my deck is bad). I don’t draw one so it’s all in on Plan B: Hymn whilst I hope my Baleful Strix and Clique close the game in 4 turns. Hymn hits a dud and the Pact, so I’m now all in on bluffing Spell Pierce. This doesn’t work of course, because game 1 the Channel deck only has about 2 cards that fight through interaction, so when you don’t have that protection and your opponent taps down to one mana you are pretty much always incentivised to just go for it, Spell Pierce bluff or not. He does just that, Channels, uses WUBRG filtering off a stone and makes a beeline for Diabolic Revelation into Bomberman, Lotus, exile tutor, makes a billion mana and tutors for SB Tendrils me for similar.

Games 2 and 3 I curse myself re “why did I prepare so hard to be the Anti-Fair-Meta and skimp on the combo haymakers?” so I take a full 12 barely-playables from my SB and slam them into my deck. Yep, even you Blue Elemental Blast and Abrade. I get to cut my terrible midrange threats and silly value cards and become a lean mean fringe-playable machine, maxing out on 1 mana ‘omg I hope this lines up well’ interaction. My 60 is bad, and I mulligan a lot, but both games 2 and 3 play out the same. 1 mana interaction on something. Cross fingers. One mana interaction on something else… literally whatever it can target! “Basically just cycling Overmaster? Yes I’ll Hydro that…” (I sure can’t hold on for Wheel), then finally land a threat like Tasigur or Clique keeping mana up and then turn it sideways while staying on the fringe playable interaction plan. I’m now the worst Tempo deck you’ve ever seen, but it works.

One of the highlights of the game includes Michael playing Implements of Sacrifice and us both chatting about how both the quality of the card and the quality of the art are probably equally terrible, but necessary (well the effect that is, no one needs that art). The following turn I play Dack Fayden and gain control of the terrible card, and use it to make mana to cast a barely playable Ice to tap a land in his upkeep. The games are largely won through Michael being one-mana short at critical junctures due to Abrade and other bad cards in the matchup destroying bad mana “Eggs” at bad times… despite the Sphere, etc. still drawing him a card being by sacrificed in response. Well, all except Implements of Sacrifice:

Result: 2-1

Semifinals vs Luke McGlaughlin

AFM Grixis vs. Snow White (and the 7 Points)

Finally, a creature deck that I’m favoured against! Unfortunately, it is piloted by Adelaide’s best creature deck player… if it turns creatures sideways Luke is there, be it Zoo, RDW, Weenie, he’ll find the line to put your life total to zero quick smart. This time around it’s Snow White, a deck he has been fine tuning for months now; a mono-White aggro deck that has a high top-end including 4-5 drop Angels that singlehandedly take over a game even after an opponent thinks they have stabilised (oh you brought in Anger of the Gods did you? Shame if someone were to… just play 4+ toughness flying beatsticks and abuse Karakas too). Given the incredibly fair game plan in a format with degenerate combos and disgusting midrange value, Luke coined the name Snow White because his deck is, of course, the “fairest of them all”. Great deck. Great name. I can’t wait to do a deck tech on this!

Game 1 is largely decided by Luke opting for a conservative line that played around counters and sweepers, including beating me down with a single Dryad Militant for about 8 damage. I remanded an equipment solely to buy time, but I was hoping he would re-commit the same equipment(s) again, assuming that I didn’t have an answer and was desperate. When the board was finally just Dryad, unequipped Sword of Fire and Ice and Skull Clamp, I pulled the trigger: “Fiery Confluence: destroy, destroy, 1 to everything”. Luke followed up with angels but only being able to deploy one at a when I had stabilised made it a point from which he could never recover, and it was on to game 2. Whilst shuffling up we chatted about lines and “maindeck Fiery?” came up… I mentioned what I had been wanting to achieve with AFM Grixis but ended up playing pretty much all of the players without equipment/Pod/other artifacts in the room! Didn’t matter; got there.

Game 2 saw me land a Luke-McGlaughlin’s Nemesis, and race a bit whilst I was being beat down in the air by an angel. I then landed Batterskull. Luke untapped and thought for a bit, then said “okay my line is super weird but it’s my only out, I’ll let you know after the game”. He played Recruiter into Mirran Crusader and passed the turn. I couldn’t attack with the germ token, nor could I block with it and my life total was 6. If Luke’s last card in hand is an equipment (3 outs I know of, I think) then if I attack with TNN I will lose on the double strike back… and will most certainly lose if that equipment is Fire and Ice even if I don’t attack! So I’m pretty much priced into exactly one play only (my hand is atrocious, something like 2 land). So I equip Batterskull to TNN, vigilant attack Luke to exactly 1 life and put me back up to 13 life to survive an attack from a protection from blue and red Crusader (if SoFI was indeed in hand). Luke untaps and plays Elspeth, Sun’s Champion: “minus 3, destroy TNN” and then his team make short work of me.

Game 3 I preserved my life total and respected every single threat Luke brought to the table in the early game; bolt this, push that, edict the other… and then his turn 5 late game kicks in and a spectral procession makes 3 tokens followed by a Thalia. I say “you aren’t going to like this… Electro a token and Thalia, draw. Untap, draw, Lili Last Hope the second token”. By this point I feel incredibly far ahead but Luke claws back in there with tenacity. A Rest in Peace is out so Lili just gradually ticks up closer and closer to 7, whilst I beat down with a Tasigur, joined by an end of turn Snappy solely for beats.

Karakas is on the table and I have to make the odd play involving pushing an angel to make Luke decide between bouncing that to save it, or bouncing my Tas and he opts for the former, allowing me to put him to 3 and preserve Lili on 7. He untaps, draws a card and says go with nothing on board and 2 in hand. I get to my turn and do some math, with Lili ready to ult this turn for the emblem (which will inevitably win the long game) I try to figure out what Luke has in hand. He obviously doesn’t have unexpectedly absent or another way to deal with non-creature permanents like Lili, so his hand is probably creature removal like Path/Plowshares. The second card in hand could be a second removal spell or a Restoration angel, either way if I attack with 3 creatures and snappy gets through, he’ll be on 1 with no cards but a single topdeck on next turn (and I’m left with Snappy and 2 zombies for easy lethal). So I fire up my only creature-land Wandering Fumarole and attack with all three creatures.

Luke: “Settle the Wreckage”

*Bass drops*

In my mind the MtG Arena graphic of a haze and seagull noises plays as my team get sucked into exile. Maybe a bit of Simon and Garfunkel as we fade to black and white. Clearly I had wanted them to be lands all this time… looking at my hand of land, mental misstep, spell snare. However my team now consist of 2 zombies at end of turn, Luke is on 3, and I feel quietly confident until Luke reveals his second card he was sandbagging: Elspeth Sun’s Champion. His army of 3 soldiers per turn is joined by Brightling, which picks up a Sword of Fire and Ice, matching up against my ever increasing zombie horde. I never draw another relevant spell for the rest of the game BUT after reading Brightling for about the seventeenth time: “Oh you can give it lifelink… oh you can give it +1/-1… oh wait you can make it swole so you’ll gain 9 life…” I do another series of entirely superfluous mathematical calculations, and then finally attack into his platoon of soldiers and whatever Brightling even is, with my sizeable stack of zombies.

Luke: “… at Elspeth?”

 

Result: 2-1

Finals vs Beckett Wolfe

AFM Grixis vs. Value Junk

Adelaide Eternal’s very own Beckett Wolfe: “hey brother, you wanna jam?” *exhausted face*

Adelaide Eternal’s, well, me: “Yeah definitely…” *similarly exhausted face*

It’s about a quarter to midnight and poor Fifi and Luke have been manning Good Games for way more than any one day of a sensible length, so Beckett and I take a one-way ticket to Splitsville, population: us. No doubt we’ll jam our Finals match during playtesting another day for the Tundra and other prize pool swag, but most of all for the GLORY.

Thanks once again to Good Games Adelaide for putting on an excellent event, and we look forward to more major Highlander events with the store and their Streaming platform (watch this space!). In the meantime, shameless plug to Adelaide Eternal if you want to check out our Highlander feature match content, just hit us up here:

www.youtube.com/AdelaideEternal