When you get the chance to do something amazing, you take it. This past week, fellow Commander Rules Committee members and closest of friends Scott Larabee and Toby Elliott visited me, ostensibly to take care of me while Gretchyn was off on a business trip. Two weeks past my last radiation treatment, I was in decent enough shape to spend more time than not with them hanging out, watching TV, and playing games instead of sleeping an extra five or six hours a day. When additional closest of friends Brian David-Marshall was also in town for a visit to his parents, we knew what we had to do: engage in epic battles and tell you about it.
Since it was a Sunday, we also invited over all the Monday Night Gamers; of the five, Keith, Shea, and Todd had the opportunity to show up. We figured that we'd run as many games of Commander as possible, and if other board games broke out, then great (if you haven't yet played Terraforming Mars, rectify said state immediately).
Keith volunteered to do the play-by-play of the first game, which was clearly the toughest job of them all—especially with players who know how to play Commander at a brisk pace. There were a few times which he had to stop us to write down everything (which tells me I might really want to invest in some kind of recording device for doing these things in the future). We knew Todd was going to be arriving later, so Shea volunteered to sit out the first game to make it easier, but since he had been good enough to drive around Brian (whose folks live about 45 minutes from our place in Lakeland), it only seemed right to include him. As it turns out, it was fortunate that we did, since he started the game's wildest play.
Toby, who won the die roll, is playing Skullbriar. I have The Mimeoplasm specifically because Brian loves Spider Spawning, and this is the deck in which I play the card. Shea is playing his recently updated Halfdane deck, which featured nearly two years ago on these very pages. Brian is playing his Sidisi, Brood Tyrant, which eschews Arachnogenesis because, in Brian's words, he used to walk uphill both ways to get Spiders. Scott completes the field with Brion Stoutarm, which he designed during one of his visits here coinciding with Grand Prix Daytona Beach in 2008.
Toby (Skullbriar): Woodland Cemetery.
Me (Mimeoplasm): Overgrown Tomb.
Toby (Skullbriar): Forest, Skullbriar (Shea 42). Laments that it enters the battlefield tapped and thus can't start its attack runs.
Brian (Sidisi): Forest.
Me (Mimeoplasm): Forest, cast a Morph “which is definitely not Willbender” (Shea 43). If Toby attacks me with Skullbriar, I'm not blocking with the Guildmage, so I try to mitigate some of Shea's lifegain by attacking him with it (41).
Brian (Sidisi): Verdant Catacombs.
Scott (Brion Stoutarm): Plains, Sensei's Divining Top. He Tops on his turn, which is the way good Commander players do it—especially when they're playing with people who will let them change their choices if the battlefield state changes before it gets back around to their turn.
Me (Mimeoplasm): Forest.
Brian (Sidisi): Forest, Sidisi (Shea 45). With Sidisi's trigger on the stack I activate Guildmage's first ability. Brian mills three cards (36), finds a creature, adds a Zombie to the battlefield (Shea 45).
Toby (Skullbriar): During his upkeep, Skullbriar gains a counter (4/4). Drops Verdant Catacombs. Attacks Shea with Skullbriar (41); Skullbriar to 5/5. Casts Trophy Hunter and adds a counter to it with Oran-Rief, the Vastwood (Shea 42).
Brian (Sidisi): Plays Thornwood Falls (40) and casts Oversold Cemetery.
Toby (Skullbriar): Skullbriar gains a counter (6/6). Plays Golgari Guildgate. Attacks me with Skullbriar, which I take (34); Skullbriar to 7/7. Casts Mistcutter Hydra with X = 4 (Shea 44).
Me (Mimeoplasm): Minamo, School at Water's Edge. Cast The Mimeoplasm; I already have some choices, but Brian's graveyard is the sauciest (and most likely to get out of hand). I copy Soul of New Phyrexia for the body and Genesis for the counters (Shea 45). Authority of the Consuls is doing some work.
Shea (Halfdane): Casts a main phase Fact or Fiction, choosing Brian, who shuffles the top five and randomly makes a pile of three (Evil Twin, Praetor's Grasp, Vesuva) and a pile of two (Temple of the False God, Telemin Performance). Shea takes the larger pile (Vulturous Zombie 6/6). Plays Vesuva and copies River of Tears. In the end step, Brian discards Deadeye Navigator for a Zombie (Shea 46); Vulturous Zombie 7/7.
Scott (Brion Stoutarm): Drops Maze of Ith, activates Top.
Toby (Skullbriar): Skullbriar gains a counter (8/8). Attacks Shea (36); Skullbriar to 9/9. Asks for a quick hand count, then casts Realm Seekers, which enters the battlefield as a 23/23 (Shea 40).
Brian (Sidisi): Draws for turn, revealing Prime Speaker Zegana on top. Plays Mosswort Bridge; after he resolves the trigger, it's not on top, and we suspect that Prime Speaker Zegana is in his hand. The idea gets reinforced when he casts Borderland Ranger, getting Swamp (Shea 37). Evolving Wilds ends up on top of his library.
Toby (Skullbriar): Skullbriar gains a counter (10/10). Casts Armorcraft Judge (Shea 38). With the draw trigger on the stack, adds a counter to Armorcraft Judge with Oran-Rief, the Vastwood. He ends up drawing six and then casts Hissing Quagmire and Hardened Scales. In the end step, I tap Soul of New Phyrexia to mill Brian for ten, Vulturous Zombie to 17/17. Brian hits a creature to get a Zombie (Shea 38). I then tap the Morph and Guildmaster to mill Toby for four (Vulturous Zombie to 21/21), and finally tap Vulturous Zombie to mill Scott for 21, making it 42/42.
Me (Mimeoplasm): Draw, go. Obviously, I'm going to do some more milling in an end step and try to set up a turn in which I can take out nearly everyone one way or another while leaving myself the option to do some responding—an option which, as we'll see, I'm pretty happy I kept open.
Shea (Halfdane): Casts Phyrexian Metamorph. I punt a little here. I think it's Phyrexian Ingester (and I make the additional mistake of not taking time to verify), which means, if I want it to not get eaten, I have to kill Shea before the trigger resolves. With Shea's battlefield not otherwise that scary, going after both Brian and Toby should have been my play (something he points out after he's out, and when I realize I've screwed up—but, as you'll see, not the last time this turn). At the time, it seems like it's in my best interest to make it happen before the creature hits the battlefield, just in case. Brian sacrifices Evolving Wilds, Vulturous Zombie to 43/43. I activate Guildmage.
After the ability resolves, I tap Vulturous Zombie via Phenax, targeting Shea (which will kill him). He responds by casting Stifle on the activation, getting a huge roar of approval from the table (to include me). Fortunately, I have responses. I tap Mimeoplasm / Soul of New Phyrexia targeting Toby and then tell him to not bother milling anything. I turn Willbender face up (another cheer for a cool play), changing the target of Stifle to this activation. It's another, albeit small, mistake; I should have used Morph/Willbender for the Stifle target so that I'd still be able to drain/mill someone with the larger Soul of New Phyrexia. Nonetheless, this kills Shea, after making Vulturous Zombie 86/86. It looks like I'm in danger of getting killed with commander damage from Skullbriar, so I then cast Rite of Consumption, sacrificing Vulturous Zombie and targeting Toby, killing him and taking me to 120.
At this point, you might be shouting, “Hey, wait! Rite of Consumption is a sorcery!”
You'd be right to do so, since it's what I just did (and since Scott's in the room as I'm writing this, he can verify). I guess I'm just so used to playing Fling that I thought they were the same. I have no excuses, and I know that playing some sorceries as instants is a mistake we've all made, but I suppose I lose all the cool points from the Willbender play and then some. I guess it just goes to show you that Magic is such an involved game that, even when one member of the Magic Judge Hall of Fame targets another, everyone should read the card. The good news is that it didn't likely change the outcome of the game, since Brian probably would have killed Toby before he got a turn.
In the end step, Brian taps three Zombies to draw a card (38), then discards a card to make a Zombie.
Brian (Sidisi): Activates Mosswort Bridge, casting Prime Speaker Zegana, drawing some cards. Plays Swamp and Gaea's Cradle. Casts Ishkanah, Grafwidow, getting three Spiders. Casts Demonic Tutor to get Craterhoof Behemoth. He casts it with all that Cradle mana, giving all his creatures +16/+16. Instead of doing the math on his 200+ damage to see if he can take out both me and Scott, he just sends it all my way (which is eminently fair). I'm pretty sure that there was more than enough to take out me plus one other player. Toby would have been the natural choice, since his battlefield state was saucier than Scott's.
Brian (Sidisi): Oversold Cemetery gets Ridgescale Tusker. Casts Hedron Crab and plays Hinterland Harbor. He mills himself for three and gets a Zombie. Casts Splendid Reclamation, triggering Hedron Crab nine times, getting nine Zombies. He then spends the next fifteen minutes making nearly a hundred Spiders as the rest of us are grabbing some lunch. We (actually, I should say Gretchyn, since for once I didn't have anything to do with the cooking) made homemade meatball subs two ways: regular meatballs in marinara and turkey meatballs in Sriracha garlic barbecue sauce. Scott, ever obstinate, watches, waits for the attack, casts Swords to Plowshares on Ishkanah, and finally scoops.
This was a fun, memorable game for all of us, part of a fantastic afternoon and evening of Magic with some of my favorite people. Before everyone showed up, Scott, Toby, and I had a three-person game (after conducting some Commander RC business that you'll hear about soon enough). Before the day was over, we would complete the four-, five-, six-, and seven-player game straight.
I knew what we were getting into when I suggested the seven-player game, but wanted to do it anyway. On further review—and even though I ended up killing everyone on three separate turns—I would not recommend a seven-player game without some sort of rules to make it less of a slog. Of course, we were also socializing (that's shorthand for chatting and having drinks), some of us with people we see only a few times a year, so that made it more bearable. My only regret is that Brian and I were supposed to make coconut onion rings as a snack, and we simply ran out of time.
One of the reasons I decided to still do this write-up after the mistakes I discovered is to demonstrate that we're all human. I don't want to share with you just the successes (although the day and the game certainly were successful, since we all had a great time) and the things I do right. Like everyone, I sometimes get it wrong.
This Week's Deck Without Comment is The Mill-Meoplasm, which I play above.
Check out our comprehensive Deck List Database for lists of all my decks:
Lavinia Blinks; Obzedat, Ghost Killer; Aurelia Goes to War; Trostani and Her Angels; Lazav, Shapeshifting Mastermind; Zegana and a Dice Bag; Rakdos Reimagined; Glissa, Glissa; Ruric Thar and His Beastly Fight Club; You Take the Crown, I'll Take Leovold; Gisa and Geralf Together Forever;
Shards and Wedges
Adun's Toolbox; Animar's Swarm; Karrthus, Who Rains Fire From The Sky; Demons of Kaalia; Merieke's Esper Dragons; Nath of the Value Leaf; Rith's Tokens; The Mill-Meoplasm; The Altar of Thraximundar; The Threat of Yasova; Zombies of Tresserhorn
If you'd like to follow the adventures of my Monday Night RPG group (in a campaign that's been alive since 1987) which is just beginning the saga The Lost Cities of Nevinor, ask for an invitation to the Facebook group "Sheldon Menery's Monday Night Gamers."