Semifinals: Jared Boettcher vs. Ben Friedman
Ben sticks to his guns.
Jared tried to get the party started on turn 2 with a Pack Rat, but Ben had Devour Flesh. Jared tried to get the party started again on turn 3 with an Underworld Connections, but Ben exiled it with Banishing Light. Jared’s next threat, Desecration Demon, fell to another Devour Flesh, and Ben’s Thoughtseize revealed a hand of Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Dreadbore, and Blood Crypt. Ben sniped the Gray Merchant, and Jared could only attack for 2 with Mutavault on his following turn.
Ben landed a Pack Rat, and passed with three mana open to make a token. Jared simply attacked with Mutavault again, sending Ben to 14, and cast a Nightveil Specter. Ben made a Rat token at the end step, then untapped and made another, activating Mutavault to attack for 8, dropping Jared to 19. Jared used Dreadbore to clear away the untapped Rat, then attacked with two Mutavaults and the Nightveil Specter, dropping Ben to just 8 life. The Specter revealed an uncastable Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, and Jared ended his turn.
Now Ben needed to consider his options. He concluded that aggression was his best course, and made a replacement Rat, sending Mutavault and the remaining two Rats at Jared to drop him down to 9. Jared untapped and swung with just the Nightveil Specter, finding a Desecration Demon for his troubles. Jared did some math and concluded that it was not safe for him to cast the Demon, so he passed the turn with six lands untapped, two of which were Mutavaults.
Ben made his Rat, crashed with his team, and Jared shoved both Mutavaults under the bus. He fell to 2, and untapped, needing Grey Merchant or bust.
Jared fights a losing battle against the Pack Rat army.
Ben had the first play of the game in a turn 2 Duress, seeing Dreadbore, Devour Flesh, Gray Merchant of Asphodel, and Sire of Insanity. He cleared away the Dreadbore. When Jared again had no play on turn 3, Ben followed up with an Underworld Connections. Ben found Pack Rat, but before he could make use of it, Jared used Devour Flesh to kill it and made a Pack Rat of his own.
Hero’s Downfall disposed of Jared’ Pack Rat, and Jared followed up with a lonely Gray Merchant of Asphodel, which dropped Ben to 15. Ben had another Pack Rat, and passed with three mana up. When Jared played a Nightveil Specter on his own turn, Ben used Devour Flesh at the end step, and Jared sacrificed his Gray Merchant.
Ben untapped and cast Obzedat, Ghost Council, a scary threat against Jared’s scarcity of instant-speed answers. Jared found a sixth land off of Nightveil Specter, but chose not to cast his Sire of Insanity just yet. Ben untapped and cast Whip of Erebos, a dangerous combo with his Obzedat. Jared dispatched the Obzedat with a Hero’s Downfall, and Ben passed the turn.
Jared: “Not just yet.”
Jared had drawn Erebos, God of the Dead, and he put it into play to stop the Whip of Erebos’s life gain from running away with the game. Ben cast another Pack Rat from hand, then used Whip of Erebos to bring back his Obzedat, Ghost Council. He attacked with the team and Jared fell to 10.
This time it was Jared who had the first play of the game, casting Nightveil Specter on turn 3. Ben had only a Read the Bones on his own turn, gassing up his hand but falling behind on board. He passed the turn with 8 cards in hand, and discarded a suspicious Obzedat, Ghost Council. The Nightveil Specter found a Temple of Silence for Jared, but he played a Swamp from his hand, and played Underworld Connections on it. Whip of Erebos came down next for Ben, setting up the Obzedat loop.
Jared cast a Duress, seeing a juicy hand of Plains, Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, Banishing Light, Desecration Demon, and a pair of Underworld Connections. He cleared away the Banishing Light, and passed the turn. When Ben reanimated his Obzedat, Jared had Hero’s Downfall to send it away for good. Jared had another Duress on his own turn, getting rid of the Elspeth, and then cast Gray Merchant of Asphodel, knocking Ben down to 7 and jumping back up to 23.
Ben drew his card, a Pack Rat, and played it from his hand. Now with perfect information, Jared simply turned up the second Gray Merchant of Asphodel sitting in his hand, and Ben scooped up his cards.
Intense focus from both players.
Thoughtseize on turn 1 from Jared revealed Pack Rat, Bile Blight, Read the bones, Desecration Demon, and a pair of Swamps in Ben’s hand. Jared took a moment in the tank before sending the Read the Bones to the graveyard. Ben wasted no time putting Pack Rat into play, and Jared wasted just as little time killing it off with Devour Flesh. A second copy of Pack Rat drew a Dreadbore from Jared, and a second Thoughtseize saw Bile Blight, Desecration Demon, and Erebos, God of the Dead, and left Ben without his 6/6 Demon.
Ben found the land he needed on top of his deck to cast Erebos, God of the Dead. Jared had a third Thoughtseize to get the Bile Blight out of Ben’s hand, then cast a Pack Rat. Ben found only Underworld Connections, and the Pack Rats were free to assemble. Jared made a Rat token and attacked. Ben used Underworld Connections and Erebos, but still had no play, passing back to Jared, who simply made a third Rat and attacked Ben down to 9.
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion came to the rescue for Ben, as the three tokens held off all three rats, and Elspeth’s -3 threatened to destroy them all if Jared made another. All the Rats came at the planeswalker, and all the soldiers jumped in front. Jared passed, and Ben could only make three more tokens and ship back. An end step Pack Rat activation gave Jared enough Rats to attack around the Soldier tokens, and Elspeth fell to 2 loyalty. Nightveil Specter came down post-combat, and Jared passed back.
Ben had an Obzedat, Ghost Council on his turn, jumping back up to 7 life and turning his Erebos, God of the Dead into a creature. He made three more Soldiers and passed the turn. Nightveil Specter dropped Ben back to 5, and found a Duress. Rather than sniping one card, Jared went for more cards; he played his fifth land for hand and cast a Rakdos’s Return for 3, killing off the Elspeth and leaving Ben with just a single card in hand.
Obzedat and Erebos came crashing in, and and Jared shoved all of his Rats in front of it. Hero’s Downfall killed off one, and Obzedat traded for 2 more, as Erebos’s combat damage dropped Jared to 5. Jared could only make another Rat. Ben went digging with his Underworld Connections, and came up with a clutch Whip of Erebos. Obzedat jumped back out of his graveyard, and Jared extended the hand in defeat.