After going 4-2 with Temur Twin at MGM7 and missing Top8, I decided to go back to my roots and battle with my beloved Jeskai Twin deck. The day before, I was torn between this pet deck of mine and a UW Tempo version, that had been feeling great. The 2 decks felt equally „right“ so I sleeved them both up and took a few draws: both looked so good! I hoped one would not feel as good but both did. I didn’t know what to do so I asked myself which deck I owe it more to (skip the head and his silly thoughts, let the heart decide, Magic is an emotional game). I owe it alot more to Jeskai, so thats what I registered.
The changes to my MGM6 list were mostly quite self-explanatory. Jeskai had gained 3 standout cards:
Those 3 I added instantly. I also really liked Thraben Inspector since Jeskai often skips turn 1 doing nothing (cantrips are often not needed to be played on turn 1) and Inspector gives you something to do early while creating some blink synergies later, blinking it with Restoration Angel and Eldrazi Displacer can take over a game in the mid-/ lategame. I was super happy with it the whole tournament, especially vs. RDW which I faced 3 times. Cracking the clue almost feels „free“ since you are operating at instant speed most turns anyway and sometimes, when the opp just passes or does something with his mana, that you do not want to respond to, you crack the clue – so the 2 mana investment does not really feel like much of an investement. I also added Azorius Charm. After I cut Ojutai’s Command for Palace Jailer (did not want to play with mana curve too much, 4 mana card had to go for 4 mana jailer), I wanted another card that is good vs RDW that is also useful vs everything else. Charm cycles, takes care of early pressure and closes the window vs. RDW once I established a board by giving lifelink to the team.
Since I expected alot of RDW and Izzet, I added another Island and another Plains. Ash Barrens I counted as another basic, that fueled delve and would give me an additional shuffle effect. It also acts as colorless source number 7 for Eldrazi Displacer. In my experience, to justify Displacer you want at least 7 colorless sources in your deck. It still sometimes is only a 3/3 for 3 but the huge upside it has when you have one of your colorless sources makes up for that. Had Displacer 3 times in this tourney, twice with access to colorless mana and it did major work there. But it is a card up for discussion.
Anyway, this is what I registered:
Temple of Epiphany
Sleight of Hand
Chain of Vapor
Dig Through Time
Fire // Ice
Path to Exile
Swords to Plowshares
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Nahiri, the Harbinger
Geist of Saint Traft
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Soulfire Grand Master
Thalia, Heretic Cathar
Round 1 – 4c Scape – Thomas L. – 2:0
Game 1: Thomas is a berlin player that I have faced a lot of times. You know those players, you always seem to be getting paired against? That is Thomas for me – it feels like I always play against him. He is a pleasant opponent but often plays Jeskai and the mirror can be a little grueling and tiresome („I respond to your Vendilion Clique with my Vendilion Clique„). When he played basic swamp turn 1, I didn’t know what was going on, but I knew I liked it. Turned out he was on scapeshift. He struggled to find his 4th mana source in game 1 and a Young Pyromancer backed up by some burn – and counterspells won before I got punished for drawing too much land (he was very close to stabilizing with Pernicious Deed or Toxic Deluge).
Game 2: Thomas flooded big time. My Clique eot turn 3 showed me 4 lands and a Murderous Cut he could not cast. A few turns later I swung for lethal with Clique and Restoration Angel (cut took care of my Mantis Rider but he just did not have enough spells).
Round 2 – Jund – Daniel M. 2:0
Game 1: I have seen Daniel M. at Berlin FNMs a few times, but never played him. He is not really a regular, I think he only got into HL recently and normally plays other formats. When he played Bitterblossom with Overgrown Tomb in Play turn 2, I did not hate my chances. Any BGx Midrange Matchup I like to face with Jeskai. I took quite a bit of damage till turn 5 from his tokens, then tutored Engineered Explosives with Enlightened Tutor to get rid of them and later won off Pestermite/Splinter Twin. I think it was crucial that Daniel could not find his 4th Mana Source even with his Sylvan Library. That caused some inefficient use of mana on his side and I did have time to solve my own mana issues (was also stuck on 3 lands).
Game 2: I do not remember much about this game but I know I won with Deceiver Exarch and Kiki-Jiki Mirror Breaker Turn 5. I think I kind of put him in a squeeze with Lightning Angel, where he had to decide whether to take care of the Exarch or the Angel. The Angel is a fast clock and stops his attacks so he decided to kill that and hope I would not have the combo (I do think that is the right play, me having the combo is way more unlikely than the Angel being the deciding factor for me winning the game).
Round 3 – RDW – Daniel T. 2:1
Game 1: 3rd Berlin Player in a row – I have faced Daniel alot of times and while he is not playing RDW very often, this time I knew he was playing it (saw some of his round 2 games). He is a very thoughtful player and RDW in his hands is certainly a dangerous deck. I took some burn to the face the first 2 turns and then resolved Clique eot to see whether he has Magus of the Moon or Blood Moon that would keep me from playing magic (my mana base was very vulnerable). I was pretty sure IF he had a Moon-Effect he would not slam it into open mana so I played the Clique eot. I did not have a counter and if he slammed the Blood Moon, which he indeed had, I would have been in big trouble. But I took the Moon with Clique and resolved Kitchen Finks next turn. He resolved Koth of the Hammer and I resolved True-Name Nemesis. I had to attack Koth with Nemesis two turns in a row so that gave him a window to push some damage through. Whenever I found Ajani Vengeant to helix down his Brazen Scourge, I felt in good shape since I just played Unexpectedly Absent on his Sin Prodder so I had perfect information, he had no cards in his hand and I knew what he was going to draw. I thought about Price of Progress and tried to stay at 11 while having 5 nonbasics. I won 2 turns later.
Game 2: One of the biggest beatings I have ever received. Turn 1 Black Vise on the Play put me immediately to 17. I played a Land and passed. He played Ankh of Mishra and I went to 14 in my upkeep. I played a land and went to 12. I had now counter up and would have Dack Fayden next turn. He just passed and I went to 9 from Black Vise. I felt forced to play a land, go to 7 and then steal his Black Vise with my Dack Fayden after it had dealt 9 Damage to me, haha. Yeah. Surprisingly I did not win that game. It was over next turn.
Game 3: A very close game. I had Turn 3 True-Name Nemesis while Daniel played turn 3 Sulfuric Vortex. We had a race on our hands. Lifegain was off the table. I played Restoration Angel and got bombarded with burn spells. I had a good clock though so later I found myself in the following spot: He cast Staggershock in his turn to put me to 8. I would go to 6 from the vortex trigger. Since he himself was at 7 and my board being Restoration Angel and True-Name Nemesis, I was missing 1 point of damage. But he would die off his Vortext trigger in his upkeep, right? Wrong. He would rebound his Staggershock to put me to 4 and then deal me 4 Damage with his Flame Javelin with the vortex trigger on the stack to kill me (I knew about that because of an earlier Gitaxian Probe). So I would need another point of damage. So at the end of his turn, my hand was Enlightened Tutor and Dig through Time. I had 5 lands in play and 3 cards in the graveyard. I played Enlightened Tutor just to put a card in my yard (my tutor targets would not help in this situation). I untapped and drew a fetchland. Since I had to win or find a counter this turn anyway and lifetotal was a non-issue, I fetched down to 5 to have 5 cards in the graveyard to be able to cast Dig for 3 Mana. I did just that and resolved Dig with another 3 mana available. Dig showed me Brainstorm, Chain of Vapor, Serum Visions, Treasure Cruise, Ponder and 2 lands. Not what I was looking for! I needed burn or a counterspell. I took Ponder and Brainstorm and of course cast the Ponder first with now 2 Mana left. I saw Land, Land, Chain Lightning – thank you, deck! I won that turn with 6 Damage off my creatures and 3 off Chain Lightning (he was tapped out).
Round 4 – Reanimator – Felix K. 2:0
Game 1: Felix was from Leipzig and another pleasant opponent. The Reanimator matchup can go either way but it is not match up I feel super comfortable with. He could non find a 3rd Land and my Aven Mindcensor „stonerained“ the fetchland he drew off the top. Grim Lavamancer, Aven Mindcensor dealt the necessary Damage and Venser, Shaper Savant bought the necessary Time to be able to finish him with 6 Damage from Fiery Confluence .
Game 2: I do not remember much from this game. I deal with his Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy with Electrolyze and True-Name Nemesis is a fast clock. He can never really develop his gameplan and once again Venser-Shaper Savant can return a crucial spell to his hand and I can finish the Game with Lightning Angel .
Round 5 – Mardu – Paul W. Intentional Draw
I can draw round 5. Mardu seems to be Top8 as well: Sweet!
Round 6 – RDW – Robin S. 2-1
Game 1: I would prefer to draw but since Robin wants to play: Let’s battle. His motivation: He wants to make sure he is on the play in all Top8 Games. Understandable considering he is on RDW and RDW gains so much from being on the play. I curve Lightning Helix into Mantis Rider into Lightning Angel, which his draw can not keep up with.
Game 2: He has a fast creature draw: Tattermunge Maniac into Dragon Whisperer. I play Vendillion Clique in his Attack Step, which is answered by Searing Blood AND Fireblast. He sacs 2 of his 3 lands and shows me the last card in his hand: Flame Slash. Considering I am going to 3 this turn, he surely can keep that Flame Slash. I can deal with Tattermunge Maniac and temporarily with Dragon Whisperer by playing Venser, Shaper Savant next turn (bounce, block) but I have to trade my creatures away instead of attacking back – a bad spot versus RDW. He has too much time to draw Land AND spells and I die before I can race back.
Game 3: I can timewalk him a few times by playing Unexpectedly Absent on a leveled Kargan Dragonlord and flashing back Unexpectedly Absent with Snapcaster Mage on that, once again leveled, Kargan Dragonlord. He then levels it again and I can deal with it by casting Council’s Judgement. His draw is pretty land heavy and I have Lightning Helix and Mantis Rider to 1. Stabilize and then 2. Race.
I finish 5-0-1 and can start any Match in the Top8 on the Play since I am 1st in the Swiss Standings.
Quarterfinals – RDW – David G. 2:1
Game 1: Another round versus RDW – yay! I had gained alot of confidence in the matchup (I do think the matchup is favorable but not by much) in the previous RDW matches. I keep a hand with Kitchen Finks (and Engineered Explosives, Daze and Spell Queller) but only 1 White Mana Source. I do not draw that second white source until Turn 5 and I am pretty low on life at this point. He plays Boggart Ram-Gang which Kitchen Finks can not block favorably. I play Enlightened Tutor on Splinter Twin to create a Kitchen Finks every turn and gain 2 Life in the process but that Engine is stopped by Firebolt. I have gained some Life back and feel good about my Chances though. I play Elspeth, Knight-Errant give my Queller +3+3 and attack for 5 with my 2/1 Kitchen Finks protecting the Elspeth. He draws Abbot of Keral Keep and reveals Fiery Confluence: Urgh! He Shoots 1 to every Creature killing my Finks, 2 to Elspeth to be able to kill it with the 3 Damage off Ram-Gang and 2 to me. Suddenly my spot is not great anymore, since I only have a Queller to work with. I draw Venser, Shaper Savant and bounce his Ram-Gang in his attack step, I do not block the Abbot. He drew Fireblast, plays it before Damage and I take 7. The situation now is the following: I am at 1 Life, he is at 3, it is my turn. I have Venser Shaper Savant and Spell Queller. My hand is Engineered Explosives and Memory Lapse. He has Abbot of Keral Keep and Boggart Ram-Gang and no hand. Ram-Gang is untapped. The problem is that I do not have access to Engineered Explosives for 2 AND Memory Lapse since my 6th Land is a Fetchland and I am at 1. I attack with Spell Queller to put him to 1 as well. My plan is that he draws a land or creature off the top while I chump the Ram-Gang with Venser and Explosives the Abbot away – it is the only line I see. He draws, I do exactly that and he plays Chain Lightning with me having Memory Lapse and theoretically 2 Mana but I can not crack the fetch – painful, literally!
Game 2: My Dack Fayden steals his Turn 2 Shrine of Burning Rage. Then I fix mx draws for 2 turns before he redirects a Sulfuric Vortex Trigger to my Planeswalker and kills it. Vortex makes the Game a little more close than it should be, but I have enough resources plus a big shrine to win that „Vortex-Race“.
Game 3: I can take care of his Monastery Swiftspear with Lightning Helix. I have Snapcaster Mage to flashback the Lightning Helix for even more Lifegain. I get some Damage in with the Snapcaster, then he draws Figure of Destiny and levels it immediately to a 4/4. He has 5 Lands in Play and if he has a 6th in Hand or draws one I will be getting attacked for 8 in the air. I have Eldrazi Displacer in my Hand and 2 colorless Sources in Play, so I just need to draw a 6th land and be safe. I do not draw that Land and am forced to play the Displacer anyway. He has a 6th Land and attacks me for 8 to put me to 7 but at least that takes up his whole Turn. I untap and now can Displacer the Figure but I find Jace, the Mind-Sculptor on Top which is even more efficient. Instead of 3 Mana and blinking it, I pay 4 to bounce it and have a Jace in Play. From there on I displacer his creatures and fate seal his draw steps with Jace to Victory.
Semifinal – Izzet – Fabian M. 1:2