Semifinals: Brian Braun-Duin vs. Rich Shay
Brian Braun-Duin had marched straight through the swiss with his powerful U/W/R Miracles deck, but his opponent, Rich Shay, had posted an 8-0 record in the Legacy portion of the invitational. What happens when unstoppable force meets immovable object?
Brian had the nut turn one play: Island, Sensei’s Divining Top. Rich had a turn one Delver of Secrets, and Brian continued to develop his board with a Stoneforge Mystic, fetching up Batterskull. Rich quickly dispatched of it with an Abrupt Decay. Brian cast Brainstorm on his turn 3, then cast another Stoneforge Mystic, retrieving the Batterskull that he had put back on top of his library.
Insectile Aberration came out to play for Rich, as he revealed a Ponder on top of his deck on his third turn. Rich cast the Ponder, then attempted a Dimir Charm on the Stoneforge Mystic, but Brian said no, pitching Jace, the Mind Sculptor to cast Force of Will. The 3/2 came across to smack Brian, and Rich passed. Brian simply cast a Brainstorm and passed the turn right back.
On Rich’s upkeep, Brian had some shenanigans in store. He activated Stoneforge Mystic, retained priority, then tapped his Sensei’s Divining Top to draw a card. The drawn card was a Terminus, which sent both creatures to the bottom, and then Stoneforge Mystic’s activation resolved, putting a Batterskull and its corresponding Germ into play. Rich, unfazed, cast a Lilliana of the Veil. Brian attempted a Force of Will, but Rich had Daze to force it through, and the Liliana -2’d to dispose of the Germ.
Brian simply drew his top and replayed it, and Rich unloaded his hand, casting Tarmogoyf and Deathrite Shaman. Brian found Vendilion Clique next, which stayed hidden on top of his library until after Lilliana’s +1, then was drawn with Top and came down on Rich’s end step, to attack away the Liliana. Brian fell to 7 from the Tarmogoyf beats, but untapped and miracled a Terminus to send everyone back to square one.
After a few turns of draw go, Rich found a way to destroy the troublesome Sensei’s Divining Top, as he responded to Brian’s fetchland activation with an Abrupt Decay, prompting Brian to tap it and shuffle it back in. Brian replayed his Batterskull, but Rich had a Jace, the Mind Sculptor to unsummon the germ, leaving it again stranded in play. The Jace found a Deathrite Shaman on Rich’s next turn, which threatened to close the game out quickly, as Brian sat at a precarious 6 life.
Brian Brainstormed, looking for a solution, and found a Counterbalance. This would help him keep any follow-up threats off the battlefield, but didn’t immediately solve the Deathrite Shaman problem. Brian’s attempt to Council’s Judgment the Jace on his next turn was countered with Force of Will, but a Jace, the Mind Sculptor from Brian was able to bounce the Deathrite Shaman while he sat at just 1 life.
Rich fatesealed Brian for one turn and recast his Deathrite Shaman, but when Brian recast Batterskull on the next turn, he was forced to use Jace’s -1 ability on his next turn. He recast the Deathrite Shaman and passed the turn to Brian, whose Jace was on just 1 loyalty. Brian used his Jace’s Brainstorm ability rather than sacrificing it for an unsummon. The three cards didn’t help him, however, and he conceded the first game.
Rich had the first play of the game, a turn 1 Ponder. Brian attempted a Stoneforge Mystic on turn 2, but it was met with Force of Will pitching Brainstorm from Rich. Rich fired off a Hymn to Tourach on his second turn, which knocked Swords to Plowshares and Stoneforge Mystic out of Brian’s hand. Rich cast a Brainstorm on his third turn, but Brian targeted him with a Vendilion Clique when he attempted to crack a fetchland afterward. Rich’s hand was revealed as Ponder, Deathrite Shaman, Abrupt Decay, and Hymn to Tourach. Brian Cliqued away the Hymn, which found Rich a Delver of Secrets, and he cast both of his one drops before passing the turn.
Jace, the Mind Sculptor came down for Brian, bouncing the Delver of Secrets, and Vendilion Clique stayed back on defense. Rich quickly dispatched it with Abrupt Decay, however, and knocked Jace to 1 loyalty with his Deathrite Shaman before recasting Delver of Secrets. Brian used Jace’s brainstorm ability, and passed the turn back.
The Delver of Secrets flipped over thanks to a revealed Force of Will, and Rich sent both of his creatures at Jace to finish it off. He attempted a Ponder post-combat, and Brian exiled the 3/2 flier with Swords to Plowshares before it resolved. The Ponder found another Delver of Secrets, but Brian used his last card, Counterspell, to keep it out of play. Brian drew and immediately cast a Sensei’s Divining Top, but Rich countered it with Force of Will, leaving him empty-handed as well. Brian drew and cast a Swords to Plowshares on the Deathrite Shaman, leaving both players with no cards in hand and nothing but lands in play.
That didn’t last long, however, as Rich found a huge 6/7 Tarmogoyf. It attacked Brian down to 9, and a Deathrite Shaman came right behind it. Brian found a Jace, the Mind Sculptor, which bounced the Tarmogoyf, and Rich attacked it down to 1 loyalty with the Shaman before recasting his Tarmogoyf.
Brian went digging with Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and came up with a monster turn. He first cast Rest in Peace, effectively nullifying both of Rich’s threats, then cast Stoneforge Mystic to retrieve a Batterskull. Rich used Hymn to Tourach to knock the Batterskull out of his hand, and then cast a Delver of Secrets, one of the few threats he still had access to. Brian had another big turn in store, playing a second Stoneforge Mystic to retrieve a second copy of Batterskull and using the original Stoneforge to put it into play immediately. The Delver of Secrets failed to flip, finding only a Wasteland, and Rich knew he was in dire straits.
Batterskull’s Germ attacked, dropping Rich to 15, and a Counterbalance came off the top for Brian. Rich flashed in a Vendilion Clique at Brian’s end step, then revealed an Abrupt Decay to flip up Insectile Aberration. The fliers swung across to kill Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and the Abrupt Decay took out Rest in Peace, threatening to make it a game again.
Brian found a Vendilion Clique on top of his deck. When it was flashed into play at the end of the turn, Brian saw a useless land in play, and he untapped and moved the Batterskull onto the Clique. The 7/5 Flier was enough to close out the game within two turns.
BBD attacks with a picture of himself.
A Tarmogoyf from Rich on turn 2 was the first play of the game. Rich attempted Liliana of the Veil on turn 3, and used Force of Will pitching Daze to force it through when Brian tried to counter it with Spell Pierce. Brian played Engineered Explosives for 2, but didn’t have a third land drop. Rich cast Hymn to Tourach, knocking Counterspell and Council’s Judgment out of his hand, then attacked with Tarmogoyf, now a 4/5.
Brian found his third land, and cast Council’s Judgment, exiling the Liliana of the Veil. The Tarmogoyf bashed Brian to 8, and Delver of Secrets joined the battle on Rich’s side. Brian could only pass again, blowing the Engineered Explosives in Rich’s attack step to kill of the Tarmogoyf, but Insectile Aberration had appeared in the meantime, revealing an Abrupt Decay. The flier dropped him to 5, and Brian’s back was against the wall.
He cast Stoneforge Mystic, and it ate Abrupt Decay. He fell to 2 from the Insectile Aberration, then checked his top card. Sensei’s Divining Top! He checked his top card again. This time he found nothing, and extended the hand.