Dan Rae: Tales of the Squire

By Dan Rae
The Jupiter Games Legacy Invitational was approaching on Saturday and I had not qualified yet because I had been sucking it up with Lands.dec for a while.  I had made plans for Sunday and could not make the first tournament of the new season, so I decided to go to Jupiter that Friday for the last chance grinders and just play some magic.  Basically, I sort of just figured I would spend some money and get the chance to play some magic for the weekend.

Part 1: The Grinders

Before my grinder, I was talking to James Rynkiewicz and Will Eldridge and decided to play a few games with Will.  From the playtesting I found that it was pretty much a 50/50 match.  Also, I realized I was making some serious play mistakes with everyone watching and figured my road to glory would end quite early.  I decided to play Bant Blade, which is what I just named my own brew.  So first, the deck list:

Bant Blade

Most people were laughing at the Squadron Hawks in the deck, but honestly I loved them.  The fliers that are in the format right now are Vendillion Clique and Tombstalker, and if a Tombstalker resolves, I need to have a Swords for it anyway.  Plus if you put equipment on a Hawk, it can do some real work.  Obviously there are the other reasons Hawk is good, the tricks with Brainstorm and Jace, but I won’t talk about those.  In the grinder, Spell Snares were in the board and there were two Ponders main, but I found that I was always siding them out and Spell Snares in, so I just made the switch.
The grinder pairings went up and of course I was paired against Will Eldridge. I don’t really remember this match very well but I do know that in one of the games Will went for a turn 4 Natural Order and walked right into Daze, but there was no real pressure on the board from me.  Ultimately I didn’t mind not having any pressure seeing as how I took the game.
Round 2 I was paired against Zoo which was a match up I had not really tested.  Game 1 I fetched out all my duals knowing that Zoo didn’t play Wasteland, but then got killed by Price of Progress.  In games 2 and 3 I just made sure to remember to grab all the basics in my deck and my guys just got there.
Round 3 I was paired against Alex Artese playing UW.  Game 1 took forever because we both had a Batterskull and life totals were around 40 for each of us.  I eventually managed to take out his Batterskull and took down the game.  Game 2, I walked right into Wrath of God and Alex managed to take down the game.  Everyone was now gathered around and knew we had been playing for about an hour, we went to game 3 with very little time left and Alex just couldn’t get to the mana for the Wrath of God again as a Squadron Hawk beat him in the air.
I arranged a split for the fourth round and made it into the Invitational, which was good because I really didn’t have any plans for Saturday.

Part 2: The Invitational

After arriving a little bit later than I wanted to on Saturday I quickly got my sideboard together, adding the Spell Pierces and the Tormod’s Crypt because I knew that Jon Barber was playing Reanimator and I figured 1 piece of hate was better than none.
Round 1 pairings went up and I saw that I had a bye.  I was really confused because I didn’t have enough points for a bye so I went to talk to Ryan M and he said I should check to just make sure.  I checked and luck was with me because I happened to get the random bye. Cha ching! 1-0 with no work and time to scout. While I was out by the counter I started writing out Ken’s deck list for him because he didn’t have time.  I joked with him that I should just mis-reg him and give him a game loss next round, but I decided I liked him too much and filled out his list properly.
Round 2 – Ken Adams (RUW Stoneforge)
I knew I should have mis-regged him but oh well. Game 1 Ken kept a one lander so I hit it with a Wasteland on my turn and he just could not recover from it.  My dudes took it down.  So after the game  I was trying to remember what all was in Ken’s sideboard and I knew he had an Enlightened Tutor package so I sided in my Krosan Grips.  Game 2 Ken landed a Mirran Crusader and the pro green was enough to take down the game for him.  Game 3 looked good for Ken as his used EE to pick off my Noble Hierarchs, but then his Batterskull was neutralized by using Knight to fetch out Maze of Ith and then Ken was picked off from 5 by a lonely Hawk in the air. 2-0
Round 3 – Greg Komar (NO RUG)
Greg is the guy I split with to get us both into the Invitational and Greg felt he had a good match up against me… well he was wrong.  Game 1 I had a double Misstep hand and his green creatures never hit the board while mine beat him down.  I figured if I could stay on the same game plan I wouldn’t need to side in Llawan so I just put in Spell Pierces and Submerges, taking out Qasali Pridemage  and something else.  Game 2 went just as planned a Greg couldn’t stick a little green dude and I kept him off the land and took down the match. 3-0
Round 4 – Bryant Cook (TES)
Before the round had started I was testing a bit against Reanimator and Bryant was watching so now we both knew what each other were playing.  Once pairings were up I saw him asking around as to what I was playing then as he saw me, he realized and we had some slight banter.  Bryant led with Ponder and turn two Burning Wish for Diminish Returns.  I had turn 2 Stoneforge for Batterskull and a hand holding three counters.  Bryant tried to go off and double Mental Misstep and Daze thwarted him and Batterskull picked me up some life and took away his.  I didn’t really have combo hate but I knew Revoker could be relevant so I sided in two Revokers and 2 Spell Pierce taking out Jace and 2 Hawks.  My opening hand had two Revokers but only one land so I shipped it back and the 6 seemed to be fine as a I had some creatures and some counters.  Bryant puked out 6 Goblins on his second attempt to go off, but I had more creatures and he couldn’t go on the offensive.  His hand didn’t get big enough to attempt to go off again and my dudes took it down. 4-0
Round 5- Josh Cicio (UBW)
I honestly do not remember game 1 but I do know that my life never went below 20 as his dropped.  I also do not remember what I sided in here, possibly Spell Pierce because nothing else seemed relevant and bringing in K Grips did not seem needed for the Bitterblossoms.  In game 2 we exchanged counters and removal and the board state was me 5 land and Josh land and a Sword of Feast and Famine.  Josh commented that I had used up more Brainstorms and I said, “Eh, doesn’t matter I will just draw Jace here.” So I dew, tapped my 4 and put down the Jace and fate sealed immediately.  I let Josh keep a Stifle and immediately knew I was wrong because now he can counter Jace’s ultimate.  Jace eventually got to 13 counters but I also had a Knight of the Reliquary and Josh hit a dilemma, in which he needed to deal with Knight and Jace.  He Vindicated my knight and had blue mana open for the Stifle.  I just happened to top deck the Mental Misstep, went for the ultimate, and countered his Stifle.  5-0
I could now draw into the Top 8 and did exactly that.  Final record 5-0-2

Part 3: Top 8 and Beyond

Top 8 – Bryant Cook (TES)
Bryant had told me I had no chance because my deck didn’t have Force of Will and he was going to destroy me.  Game 1, I had a turn two Stoneforge which grabbed Batterskull, plus a few counters to got me there. I sided in Spell Pierces and Revokers again because it was the best strategy I had.  I again had a turn 2 Stoneforge for Batterskull and some counters in my hand.  I got a Revoker down naming LED and Bryant complains, which was a good sign because then I knew he was probably out of the game.  He went for a Grapeshot taking out my guys but he was sitting at one and I had a fresh hand from his Diminishing Returns. I dropped a Goyf and he picked them up.
Top 4 – Geoff Smelski (NO RUG)
This match was on camera and can be found on Jupiter’s website.  In game 1 Geoff bolted my Stoneforge at the correct time and hit a turn 3 or 4 Natural Order and Progenitus to get there for him.  I sided in 2 Llawan, 2 Submerge, and 2 Spell Pierce.  For Game 2 Geoff played a turn one Noble, which I Dazed. I dropped a Knight on my turn 4, but then immediately realized it was only a 3/3 even though I could have played a fetch land in my hand earlier, but I didn’t let myself get too beaten up by it because there was also another Knight in my hand.  Geoff tried for a Clique eot and I dazed it.  He then bolted my Knight and Green Sun Zenith’s for 2 to grab a Tarmogoyf.   I then cracked my fetch and played the 4/4 Knight.  A few turns later I played a Stoneforge to grab Sword of Fire and Ice because I already had the Batterskull in my hand.  I played a Noble and activate Knight, wasting Geoff’s Dryad Arbor.  Geoff attacked with Goyf and on my turn I stoneforged in the Batterskull, activated the Knight hitting another one of Geoff’s lands so he couldn’t rip a Natural Order off the top.  On my next turn I actived Stoneforge putting in Sword of Fire and ice and Geoff picked them up because he was way behind.  I saw Geoff siding again, so I assumed his REBs were very underpowered.  We each led with turn 1 Noble in game 3.  Then on turn 2 Geoff played a Tarmogoyf and I played a Stoneforge Mystic grabbing Sword of Fire and Ice because I again had the Batterskull in hand.  Then comes this chain Tarmgoyf swung in, I activated Stoneforge, Geoff played a Vendillion Clique, I Dazed, he fetched, I Submerged his Noble, and finally I Dazed again.  Goyf did kill the germ token due to the exalted trigger and him growing from all the new cards in the yard.  A couple turns later I bounced the Batterskull. He swung with Goyf, I used Stoneforge and he had the Clique again to put the Sword of Fire and Ice on the bottom.  I blocked and he let Goyf die, I beat with Batterskull, played Jace and he picked them up.  He hit a lot of land that game, but I won’t complain.
Finals – Will Eldridge (NO RUG)
So it ended as it began, I am paired against Will Eldridge.  I kept a land light hand but had two Nobles.  I think I Missteped his early creatures and when I eventually landed a Sword of Fire and Ice he decided to pick them up because double exalted Goyf plus Sword abilities put him way behind and he drew land heavy.  I side in the same as for Geoff, 2 Llawan, 2 Spell Pierce, and 2 Submerge.  Will tries a turn 1 Noble in game 2, which I Mental Misstep, he forced, and I just swords the guy on my turn.  Then Will dropped a Lavamancer and I wasted his red source.  I dropped a Stoneforge on my turn 3, grabbing Sword of Fire and Ice.  Will missed a land drop which was crucial because he needed the red and Stoneforge got active.  Even if Will hit the red source, I had a Submerge in hand for the Lavamancer.  I dropped a Batterskull eot, then Sword of Fire and Ice during my main phase equipping it to the germ, he chose not to block, I killed the Dryad Arbor and drew my card.  Germ swung in again for 8, I dropped Jace and fate sealed.  Will went for the Ancient Grudge on my equipment, I had Spell Pierce and he picked them up.
I know that this wasn’t the most detailed report in the early rounds but I didn’t really think I would be making it that far, or writing a report anyway.  The deck definitely performed exactly like I wanted it to.  I do not think I would make any changes in the main except possibly to add a Karakas, cutting an Island if Reanimator becomes big again.  The sideboard is obviously always up for change and I NEVER sided in, or even considered siding in Thrun, so maybe he was not the best choice.  The Tormod’s Crypt probably should have been a Bojuka Bog seeing as I had Knights in the deck, but oh well, I never sided it in so it didn’t matter.  It felt good to walk away with the trophy and even better the fact that none of us even considered a split.

Props:

Squadron Hawk – keep doing work
Ron Shoemaker for letting me borrow a Batterskull
Ryan McKinney for hooking me up with another Foil Squire to add to my collection
James Rynkiewicz for letting me use his Stoneforge to get the fourth in my deck
Jupiter Games for a great tournament

Slops:

Thrun, you did nothing all day.
Applebee’s for flooding and not allowing me to grab a drink with Ryan

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