Cook’s Kitchen – Esperblade & Jund (NELC: 01/19/2013)
This past weekend at Jupiter Games was eventful. A two day long affair with an event on each day, Legacy on Saturday and a Modern PTQ on Sunday. Both days absolutely full of Lingering Souls.
It’s a coincidence I played them, I think?
Well, maybe not. I decided to play Esperblade not because Wijaya won Grand Prix Denver with it, but because I think it’s very well positioned at the moment. With all of the Deathrite Shaman decks as well as other midrange decks running rampant, it’s no shock to me that Esperblade won the Grand Prix. Another reason I opted to run Esper was after my performance last month, I expected other players to pick up combo decks. Sure enough, I was right. Esperblade has a good combo match-up since it has plenty of discard as well as counter magic – a nightmare match-up for any combo deck.
It wasn’t Lingering Souls that sold me on Esperblade. It’s good in match-ups where grinding out resources is how you beat the opponent. Lingering Souls was good but it was never anything game breaking. However, I think that is partially the nature of the card, well at least in Legacy.
Modern is a completely different story. Lingering Souls is “Absolutely Devastating” as fellow Jupiter Games writer Mike Keller would call it in the Jund mirror match. It single handily wins games because the Modern format lacks reliable, playable cards to answer the mass amounts of tokens. I personally ran a singleton copy of Maelstrom Pulse as an out to Empty the Warrens and Lingering Souls tokens. Without it there’s not much the deck can do to answer them. A recent trend has been to play some Standard tech and run Thundermaw Hellkite to answer Lingering Souls. The dragon is usually only found in the sideboard as a single copy, however, I anticipated plenty of mirror matches and ran a grand total of three. Thundermaw is incredible in the mirror, it doesn’t die to Lightning Bolt or Abrupt Decay meaning that only lists with Terminate or Maelstorm Pulse can answer it. Not to mention, it clears the token blockers out of the way.
On to the event! Saturday morning had arrived. I picked Nick Patnode up as I normally do, considering he lives less than three minutes from my house, then met Brandon Zarichny at the mall. This event is special for one member of our car – it was Brandon’s first trip to Jupiter Games! Brandon has been a kid who shows up to Friday Night Magic every week and owns Legacy cards despite the fact he doesn’t play in any events. He was pretty excited to experience one of Jupiter’s events.
The ride down was fun, it mostly consisted of Nick and I explaining Legacy to Brandon, well mostly Nick. Brandon was also playing Goblins that day therefore they had a bit more in common than me. This of course changed with the music, Nick and I had a blast listening to my sixteen track long CD of just The Proclaimers’ “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” or the Woe is Me cover of “Last Friday Night.” Brandon sat awkwardly in the back seat.
We arrive at the event center and are a couple of the first people there. I spent some credit to pick up a Judge Foil Mana Crypt to finish off my Kresh, the Bloodbraided EDH deck as well as some Zombie Horde foils! I’m only missing about ten foil cards until the two-hundred card monstrosity is completed. Anyway, most of you probably don’t care about that, let’s get on to the events!
By Bryant Cook
By Bryant Cook
Cards listed in this article are available for purchase at Jupiter Games Online – http://jupitergamesonline.com – just click the underlined card name or featured image!
During the first round I had the pleasure to play against Brian Thomas, I’ve known him since I started playing Magic back in 2002. Brian has played some form of Goblins the entire time that I’ve known him. This time is no different. I win the die roll, mulligan, and keep a hand that’s Polluted Delta, Ponder, Swords to Plowshares, Stormforge Mystic, Snapcaster Mage, and Marsh Flats. I play Ponder, shuffle, and draw Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Brian plays a Wasteland destroying my Tundra. I draw a non-land for the entire rest of the game while Brian begins to play multiple Goblins every turn. Unfortunate. The second game was short, Brian mulligans to five. Apparently his opening hand was Cavern of Souls, Goblin Lackey, Goblin Lackey, Goblin Ringleader, and Seige-Gang Commander. Unfortunately for him, I have Snapcaster Mage and Swords to Plowshares as well as Stoneforge Mystic. The third game is a good back and forth battle. I use Engineered Explosives and Supreme Verdict to clear the board, then use two Lingering Souls to stabilize as well as go on the offensive. The downside is Goblin Warchief and a Cavern of Souls allow Brian just enough mana to create consecutive turns with four lands tapping to play a Siege-Gang Commander and swing out. I was able to put Brian to one before the game ended – it just wasn’t good enough.
Round two was a familiar face in Kevin McKee playing Scapewish. The first game was both of us destroying each others hands as well as two very timely Pernicious Deed’s on Kevin’s part. Ultimately, Kevin was in a position to win three turns in a row if he drew a Mountain or something to find one. Meanwhile, I was attacking with Spirits. It was down to the last turn that Kevin hand, he peels, thinks for a moment and says, “Green Sun’s Zenith for three?”. I’m thinking, “Great, Wood Elves for a Taiga, I lose.” When Kevin goes through his deck and realizes they’re all gone. However, Eternal Witness was not. Witness returns Elves which does kill me. The second game was a very long game which ended in Esperblade doing what it’s designed to do. Jace was busy controlling draws while Batterskull with as several tokens brought the pain. The third game began with seven minutes on the clock, Kevin never saw any of my sideboarded Geists game two. I landed one on turn three, he plays Burning Wish for Innocent Blood. I wasn’t too happy until I peeled another copy off of the top of my library. Cast it and pass. The next turn consisted of playing Sword of Feast and Famine and equipping. The round ended shortly after with four minutes still on the clock.
In between rounds is the lunch break, Nick and I head over to the pizza place before we realize that we left Brandon. Apparently we’re not used to having another person with us, Brandon tells us about his rounds and the people he’s met. I’m glad he was having a good time. Jupiter is a great place. In fact, all weekend people were forgetting their decks or backpacks. I didn’t hear or find a single situation where that person’s belongings weren’t found and returned.
After the lunch break I sat across from Steve Thompson to battle against Nic Fit. He absolutely destroys my hand with Cabal Therapy as well some other effects before landing a Segarda, Host of Herons! I begin to recover by drawing back-to-back Lingering Souls then Stoneforge Mystic. We end up racing and I actually pull ahead until Steve draws an Eternal Witness to return his Maelstom Pulse to clear my blockers. Rough. The next game is ridiculous, it consisted of two Pernicious Deed destroying everything I own as well as a Moat. Although, it ended with a Vendilion Clique suited up with a Batterskull, as well as a Sword of Feast and Famine and a Karakas in play. Not a bad board position. The third game was pretty uneventful, I land a turn two Stoneforge for Feast and Famine and do some damage before a Pernicious Deed comes down. Afterwards, I play the Stoneforge I was sitting on for Batterskull to mop up the floor. I protect Batterskull until Steve is dead.
At this point in the day I begin to think to myself how uninterested I am in Esperblade. It’s a good deck and it can win any match-up, it’s just very repetitive.
Round four against Tom Leger playing Junk was a blood bath. All three games were incredible, I didn’t take notes for this round, I apologize. Game one I remember him having multiple Deathrite Shamans as well as Knights destroying my lands. Game two involved me going up to thirty-three and then taking multiple attacks from 13/13 Knights before playing three Lingering Souls to close the deal. I remember game three Tom had a Knight, Maze of Ith, and a Deathrite Shaman in play with his only other lands being a Karakas and a Wasteland against my tokens, Batterskull, and Stoneforge Mystic. I drew a Swords eventually for Deathrite Shaman and began slowly withering away Tom’s life total two points at a time.
The fifth round against 12 post was interesting, I played a turn two Stoneforge Mystic for Batterskull and then brought the pain. Chris eventually landed a Crucible then tutored for Glacial Chasm. I just happened to draw Engineered Explosives for turn, better lucky than good. I passed and Chris was forced to sacrifice the Chasm. I counterspelled his Primeval Titan and shortly we were on to the second game. Game two was quick! I landed a turn three Geist of Saint Traft followed by a turn four Vendilion Clique and then just attacked, with Counterspells sitting in my hand. It felt like I was playing UW Delver back in Standard.
The sixth round was a feature match against Jeremy Tibbets with UW Stoneblade. I ended up conceding game one late in the game when he landed Jace and a Batterskull, I wasn’t near death but I wanted to make sure we didn’t go to time in round. The odds of me coming back were slim. During game two I sideboarded in and ultimately cast all three Geist of Saint Traft. They turned sideways while Jermey stumbled to play the Batterskull stuck in his hand since he was stuck on four lands. During the third game, I kept a risky hand and didn’t draw the lands I needed to make it beneficial until it was too late. Jeremy’s pressure was slow putting me to four, but by the time I drew my third land it was too late. Time in round got called. I’m convinced if that game continued I would have won, I had had an answer for his Restoration Angel and a full hand compared to his two cards. However, draws happen when slow decks collide. Jeremy was shocked that I wouldn’t concede to his board position, which wasn’t great to begin with. I’m glad I didn’t, because I was tenth going into round seven with a chance at top 8.
Unfortunately, round seven did not pan out for me. I played against BUG Still. In the first game my opponent Phillip landed Jace, the Mind Sculptor with six removal spells in his hand. I couldn’t find my own Jace or get a threat to stick. I eventually saw Jace’s ultimate. The second game I kept a hand of Tundra, Underground Sea, Stoneforge Mystic, Force of Will, Force of Will, Geist of Saint Traft, and Vendilion Clique. Phillip Wastelands me on turn one and I never saw another land before he Jace’s me out through both my Force of Will. Depressing.
That night myself, Nick, Brandon, Sam Lam and his Fiancée all went to Applebee’s for dinner. We sit down and start chatting, the waitress comes over, hands us the drinks menu, I grabbed it and that’s when it hit me – I’m the old guy in the group. At the age of twenty-three, I’m the oldest person there and the only person eligible to buy an alcoholic beverage. I now knew what my friends growing up had to put up with when I was a “youngin’.” It didn’t feel good. I decide it’s not my problem that they’re all practically twelve and order a beer anyway. Might as well enjoy myself. After dinner we head back to Sam’s to hang out for a while before the PTQ the following day.
The PTQ went fairly well I finished in the top 16 at 5-2 with two very close loses to Eli with Infect and a gentleman named Garret with Tron. I felt like I was in the match every single round, but just didn’t get there twice. It happens. During the event I made some great trades as well as played a bunch of Commander against a few people with and without the Zombie Horde. Godo even managed to knock around Jon Barber’s Hermit Druid combo due to its poor manabase. Blood Moon, Magus, and Ruination really did a number on that deck.
I know Brandon had a great first time at Jupiter Games this past weekend, and I hope to see some more new faces soon!
Well that’s all for this week, come back again next week! Until then, keep Storming!
Bryant Cook on MTGthesource