Finals: Gene Richtmeier vs. Casey Hanford
This finals ifeatures the biggest players of the metagame… from a month ago! With players audibling into Naya Aggro and Junk Aristocrats, fewer and fewer Blitz and Act 2 decks are around. But one of them will win the Standard Open in St. Louis!
“This matchup feels like a coin flip. ‘Do I have time to answer your fast starts?’”
“I feel like that was my whole tournament!”
“Am I lucky enough to be a higher seed in this match?”
Gene, as the bottom seed, had to let Casey take the play (who was the six seed). Casey led things off with tapped Godless Shrine, while Gene began with Sacred Foundry into Champion of the Parish. Casey had perfect mana turn two thanks to Dragonskull Summit, and Gene’s onslaught began: Sunpetal Grove, Burning-Tree Emissary and Madcap Skills. Tragic Slip knocked off the Champion before it could do too much damage though, so Casey untapped still at 20 life. Cartel Aristocrat was Casey’s next play, while Gene swung for five with his 5/2 and then played an untapped Stomping Ground and a pair of Experiment Ones… or I guess you could say Experiment Two.
Sorin, Lord of Innistrad came down for Casey and created a 1/1 lifelinking Vampire. Gene pondered for a moment before electing to cast Flinthoof Boar, triggering the Evole on both Human Oozes, and then gave the Fire Pig haste. With life totals at 15 for Casey and 16 for Gene, Gene swung all out at Casey. The Madcap Skill’d Burning-Tree Emissary was double blocked and then sacrifice trigger’d by Cartel Aristocrat, and Casey fell to 8. Vampire factory continued to pump out dudes, then Blasphemous Act destroyed every creature on the board… except for Cartel Aristocrat, which ate a Vampire to remain alive.
Gene is in the zone!
Experiment One was Gene’s only follow up, and when Sorin ticked up to six loyalty counters, enough to go ultimate, and Casey added two more Cartel Aristocrats (that’s three total, for those playing at home) Gene scooped up his cards.
Act 2 is a deck that has a lot of answers, but it’s just as important to pose the right kind of problems as well. Sorin and Cartel Aristocrat are both all-stars at both offense and defense, and the power of The Aristocrats is its ability to quickly switch gears once the tides have turned in their favor.
Gene was on the play for game two and began with Temple Garden and Experiment One. Casey decided to cast Doomed Traveler with his turn one, and Gene elected to drop Sacred Foundry and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben before attacking for two. With life totals already at 16 apiece, thanks to painful lands, Casey dropped to 14 and cast Cartel Aristocrat. Gene’s turn three consisted of Mayor of Avabruck to grow his team, then followed quickly by an attack step. Gene only attacked with Experiment One, now a 3/3, because of the Cartel Aristocrat’s potential to eat the Thalia on blocks, so Casey fell to 11.
Casey dropped even further to 9, then added Blood Artist to the mix. The watercolorist adds much needed life gain to Casey’s side of the table, so it causes more difficulty than one might expect from a measly two-mana 0/1! Gene labored over his next turn, as The Aristocrats is very good at doing. Experiment One attacked, and Cartel Aristocrat gained pro-Green with a Doomed Traveler sac, then double blocked. Experiment and Spirit died, and Lightning Mauler entered play after that. Life totals sat at 13-12 in favor of the Blitzman.
But not for long. Tragic Slip took down Mayor and life totals switched before Casey passed. Boros Elite gained haste thanks to the Mauler, and also triggered its Battalion. Casey was behind the eight-ball now, with only Aristocrat and Artist available as blockers for Gene’s pair of 2/1s and 3/3. Aristocrat ate the Artist and stonewalled the 3/3, then took four to drop to 10. Gene, now on 11 but rid of the Blood Artist, simply passed after that.
Sorin, Lord of Innistrad, despite costing five mana, still had a huge impact on the board when it came down with a 1/1 chump blocker. Battalion triggered again as Gene attacked Casey. Casey took 5, and Cartel Aristocrat defeated the Thalia. Pillar of Flame removed the Lightning Mauler, and Thundermaw Hellkite came down… but that didn’t defeat double Boros Charm from Gene, who took game two.
Casey 1, Gene 1.
It’s Casey at the bat!
Someone once said that if you can trigger two battalions in one game, you almost always win. Gene was able to trigger Boros Elite’s battalion twice, turning the lowly 1/1 into Watchwolf twice. Add to this the double Boros Charm, and that’s how Naya Blitz works.
Casey, once more on the play now, led with a tapped shockland. Gene led things off with Boros Elite. Casey had turn two Cartel Aristocrat, but Gene had a monstrous turn two: Burning-Tree Emissary and Firefist Striker! This set him up well for the next turn should he continue unimpeded, and Blood Artist wasn’t too much of a speed bump at this point in the game. Mayor of Avabruck gave the Lord pump to his team for a moment, but the leader of the town got Tragic Slipped. All three of Gene’s creatures attacked, preventing Cartel Aristocrat from blocking with Firefist Striker’s ability, and Casey took seven.
Lingering Souls made some tokens to try to prevent some damage. Cavern of Souls naming Wizard allowed Boros Reckoner to enter play, and the Gene once more had two Battalion triggers upon attacks if he did… but he chose not to this time, for fear of being eaten alive by Aristocrat. Casey cast a second Cartel Aristocrat and flashed back Lingering Souls before passing. Casey was at 14, but with seven creatures in play on his side and four currently on Gene’s that could easily change quickly.
Gene cast a pair of Boros Elites on his turn before passing. Obzedat, Ghost Council was Casey’s play, and the Blind Hunter ability took life totals to 15-16 in favor of the Artisocratic gentleman. Obzedat exiled itself on end step, and Casey passed.
“This is a messy board state.”
Indeed! Gene attacked with three 3/3 Elites, Firefist Striker (the Aristocrat it targeted gained pro-red with a Soul, one Blood Artist trigger), BTE, and Reckoner attacked. Pro-red Cartel blocked Emissary, Soul blocked Reckoner, the other Aristocrat blocked Striker, and nothing blocked the nine damage represented by Boros Elite. Cartel Aristocrat number two sac’d the Soul blocking Reckoner, and after taking nine (and gaining two) life sat at 13-11 in Gene’s favor. Whew! Flinthoof Boar came down after combat to prevent a 5/5 from dealing too much damage.
Remember what I said about Battalion triggers? Well, Gene had a lot of them this game. Would it be enough?
Those life totals switched when Ghost Dad returned to work. Casey swung with the entire team: Obzedat, two Spirits, and two Aristocrats. Boar blocked 5/5 and Gene dropped to 5, and Casey dropped yet another Cartel Aristocrat to get Gene for the last few points of damage!
Casey held up a Cartel Aristocrat upon winning: “This is a powerful card!”