Finals: Ben Isgur vs. Nils Tolpingrud
Another Standard finals featuring Delver of Secrets, but this one might not go so quietly. Nils, playing Tempered Steel, had the power to thrash Delver, representing one of the few strategies with a faster race and the ability to outmaneuver Delver’s tempo-based tricks.
Ben's looking to make up some margins against his worst matchup.
Taking the die roll, Ben kept seven cards—but Nils found himself struggling once more, going down to five cards on the draw. He’d beaten Delver the last time that happened, in the semifinals—could he do it again? His five became four, and now it appeared that his proverbial goose was cooked. As they shuffled, ben had actually remarked that one of the reasons he liked Delver was its mulligan strength, and Nils had admitted that anything less than six cards was pretty tough.
Delver of Secrets via Island started the game for Ben, while Nils played Vault Skirge on turn 1. Blind flipping via Gitaxian Probe, ben cast it to see Glint Hawk, Tempered Steel, and Origin Spellbomb before resolving another Delver and attacking for 3 damage. Nils cast Origin Spellbomb, Mox Opal, and Glint Hawk, keeping his Mox Opal in his hand.
When Nils tried to block the unflipped Delver with Glint Hawk, Ben had Mutagenic Growth to kill the Hawk, keeping his clock way ahead. Nils tried to cast Mox Opal, but Ben replied with Vapor Snag to keep Tempered Steel off the table. Ben Thought Scoured himself during the end step, milling a Vapor Snag and missing his Delver’s trigger—he attacked for 3 and passed the turn with three mana up.
This time, Tempered Steel earned a Mana Leak, and Nils attacked Ben to 16, going to 8 himself. Delver of Secrets for Ben flipped on Ponder, and he attacked for 6 damage, Snapcaster Mage on Mutagenic Growth making it lethal. A surprisingly competitive game from Nils on that mulligan to four!
Ben 1, Nils 0
With Nils on the play, the second game would likely be very different. Of course, when he kept seven cards, we already knew that to be true! Ben went to six, searching for a hand with the right answers. Nils began with Razorverge Thicket and Vault Skirge, and ben dropped to 18 for Probe, spotting Inkmoth Nexus, Glint Hawk, Origin Spellbomb, Glint Hawk Idol, and Dispatch—a pretty healthy grip! Playing Moorland Haunt, Ben passed—clearly without blue sources.
Nils cast Glint Hawk Idol and ended the turn after attacking for 1 damage. Ben drew and passed. “This one’s not going very far,” he admitted. Mental Misstep on Signal Pest wasn’t bad, but Vault Skirge resolved and Ben took 3 damage, going to 12. He hit Island when he untapped, but his Ponder merited an immediate shuffle as he continued to look for help.
Resolving Origin Spellbomb for his Idol activation, Nils attacked Ben to 8 life and followed with Glint Hawk, very close to threatening lethal. Ben played Seachrome Coast and passed the turn. When Nils animated Idol with Spellbomb, Ben had the Divine Offering to stay on 6 life.
Playing Glacial Fortress Ben passed the turn, representing Snapcaster Mage. Nils broke his Spellbomb for a Myr token, and on his turn attacked with everything, including Inkmoth Nexus. Ben blocked the Myr and killed a Skirge, going to 5 life and 1 poison as Nils played another Glint Hawk, followed by Razorverge Thicket. Drawing against a lethal board state, Ben passed—he had Moorland Haunt to block, but did he have more?
Nils animated Nexus and swung, Dispatching the Spirit token Ben made. Ben responded with Vapor Snag on Vault Skirge, keeping his token alive as he fell to 1 life from the Glint Hawks. Recasting Vault Skirge, Nils passed, and Ben conceded when the top card of his deck wasn’t a miracle.
Ben 1, Nils 1
Ben used the mulligan button again in game 3, while Nils kept a hand lacking white mana but with some strong artifacts and a Mental Misstep. Ben’s six were good, and he opened on Island and Delver of Secrets, losing the 1/1 to Misstep. Nils played Spellbomb via Plains and passed, having hit the only thing his hand really needed, beyond a Tempered Steel and an army.
Ben cast Gitaxian Probe to see Glint Hawk Idol, two Inkmoth Nexus, and Gavony Township. “You really like that Mental Misstep,” Ben commented, regarding Nils’ keep. Glint Hawk Idol resolved after Ben played a land. Ben dropped another one and passed, making a Spirit token as Nils resolved Vault Skirge and sent the turn.
Tempered Steel has served Nils well.
Pondering, Ben kept the top three and played a land before ending the turn. Nils cast Signal Pest and turned on his Idol, swinging just the 2/2 in and putting Ben to 16. Following with Glint Hawk, Nils earned a Mana Leak before playing his fourth land and ending the turn.
Geist of Saint Traft for Ben concluded his own turn, and now the game was afoot. Nils wanted a green mana, but Etched Champion might work—except that Ben had the Mana Leak to keep it off the board. Playing Gavony Township, Nils passed the turn. Ben had Runechanter’s Pike for the blowout, sending in his 6/2 Geist with an Angel friend!
Nils studied his blocks, deciding to make none and hope he could hit a white land for the Tempered Steel in his hand. Nils fell to 6 life and passed the turn, drawing Mox Opal off the top. He resolved it, turning on his Idol, and cast Tempered Steel. He decided to attack with Glint Hawk Idol and Vault Skirge, leaving back two blockers and a potential blocker in Inkmoth Nexus—he really didn’t want to die to Vapor Snag and Snapcaster Mage off the top! Ben took 7 damage, going to 9, and passed the turn.
Ponder dug Ben into the deck and he kept the top three in place. Geist swung, Nils tossing Nexus under the Angel and a token under the Geist. Post-combat, Ben moved his Pike to the Spirit token and passed the turn. He needed Nils to brick for two or three turns now, but he did have a soft lockdown of the board for a few moments. Nils drew an Origin Spellbomb and cast it at the cost of using Township this turn. He broke the Spellbomb immediately, drawing a land, and passed.
Keeping his Pike on the Spirit, Ben attacked and used Vapor Snag to toss Inkmoth Nexus back into Nils’ grip. Nils animated Glint Hawk Idol to block the token, and Ben’s 7/1 Spirit gobbled it up. He passed afterward, not moving the Pike to his Geist and thus representing a Snapcaster Mage. Nils replayed his Inkmoth Nexus and swung with Vault Skirge and Signal Pest—Ben played his Mage to bounce Vault Skirge, putting Nils to 7, and himself to 7 as well.
Nils went to 5, recasting Vault Skirge at the cost of 2 life in order to turn on his Township before realizing he needed to cast Signal Pest as well anyway. Passing with three blockers and the Inkmoth Nexus, Nils still threatened to end this game any minute. Moving the Pike to Geist, Ben cast a second Pike. He put it on Snapcaster Mage and attacked with both of his guys, forcing Nils to animate Nexus and toss his Myr token in the bin, retaining lethal.
Untapping, Nils used Township and swung with both Pests and the Skirge, dealing Ben 8 even as he chumped the Skirge… or at least that’s what would have happened if Nils didn’t just tear a Tempered Steel for an even deeper blowout.
Ben 1, Nils 2