Finals: Rudy Briksza vs. Joseph Greer
Domri Naya and G/R Aggro—the last gasp of Innistrad Standard featured a finals pitting two of the most linear aggressive strategies against one another. Despite the dominance of U/W/R Flash and Jund, these two archetypes had risen to the top!
Joseph's take on G/R Aggro is a little tougher against other creature decks.
Turn 1 Avacyn’s Pilgrim was exactly the start that Rudy needed here, and when Joseph failed to make a mana dork of his own he fell behind. Voice+of+Resurgence for Rudy meant he was prepared to meet virtually any creature Joseph could muster, and Scavenging+Ooze qualified.
After attacking, Rudy cast Domri+Rade to fight down the Scavenging+Ooze and make an Elemental token, which Joseph was forced to answer with Mizzium+Mortars, adding Elvish+Mystic to the battlefield. Rudy swung for 1 with his Pilgrim after Domri revealed Smiter, adding the Elephant to the board.
Ghor-Clan+Rampager from Joseph gave him a threat capable of pressuring Domri+Rade, and Rudy pumped his Domri up to 3, revealing another Smiter, before attacking for 4 damage. Joseph decided to trade, and another Smiter resolved. That meant Joseph likely had Thundermaw+Hellkite, but with Rudy repping Selesnya+Charm it could be immaterial...
Actually, both players lacked both spells. Domri+Rade in conjunction with Boros+Reckoner cleared out all of Joseph’s creatures, but Hellrider enabled him to finally kill Domri+Rade. Still, Rudy’s Gavony+Township made his next attack one for 7, leaving Joseph at 8 life. Rudy was on 15, and Joseph decided to send in Hellrider before dropping Strangleroot+Geist on defense, planning to sneak a win with the Ghor-Clan+Rampager in his hand.
Rudy kept his Pilgrim on defense and landed Boros+Reckoner, effectively shutting off that line as Township continued to grow the team. Joseph was still peeling for Thundermaw+Hellkite, however—failing to find, he played Rampager as a beater.
Sensing blood, Rudy attacked with Smiter and Boros+Reckoner. That put Joseph in the single abyss, as he had to block Smiter and had no good options against the Reckoner. However, Rudy could’ve shipped in his Avacyn’s Pilgrim as well to force a trade with Rampager—there was no way Joseph blocked Reckoner this turn, which made the potentially 4/4 Pilgrim a must-block as well.
Taking 5, Joseph fell to 2 life and went to the top of the deck—where Hellrider was waiting to save the day.
Rudy lost a tight first game when Joseph found one of his outs.
Joseph 1, Rudy 0
Joseph kept six cards while Rudy hung onto seven, starting with Stomping+Ground. Joseph had Arbor+Elf on turn 1, and Rudy dropped Scavenging+Ooze. Pillar+of+Flame slew the Ooze and enabled Joseph to play his own, but Rudy jumped up the curve with Loxodon+Smiter.
Fearing Ghor-Clan+Rampager, Rudy didn’t block an incoming Ooze—that left Joseph free to just cast his Rampager. Of course, it couldn’t hope to match Rudy’s Loxodon+Smiter once he outfitted it with Unflinching+Courage! A 12-point life swing put Joseph under pressure and left him leaving back Rampager alongside Strangleroot+Geist to try and trade.
Mizzium+Mortars removed the Rampager, and Rudy swung in once more to put Joseph on 7 after Strangleroot+Geist blocked up a damage. Joseph was milking his Ooze for all it was worth, but if Rudy could break open combat one more time it might be too much. On defense, Joseph passed the turn.
Rudy cast Voice+of+Resurgence and debated the merits of attacking before deciding it would give Joseph too potent an Ooze—he passed. It seemed like a waiting game for Thundermaw+Hellkites at this point, but Rudy’s Boros+Reckoner off the top was not far from “just as goo” given its ability to break open this board.
Joseph began chumping the Reckoner with Elves, feeding them to the Scavenging+Ooze as they died. He was drawing lands while Rudy sat comfortable behind a wall of creatures on 28 life. Finding a very live Zealous+Conscripts, Rudy stole the ooze and sent in everyone, earning the concession.
“That card is hard to beat,” Joseph said as he shuffled. “Unflinching Courage?” Rudy asked. “Yeah, it’s pretty good.”
Joseph 1, Rudy 1
Turn 2 Pilgrim wasn’t the start Rudy wanted against a turn 2 Flinthoof+Boar on the draw, especially when Pillar+of+Flame denied him the mana. A turn 3 Arbor+Elf meant Joseph was also threatening Thundermaw+Hellkite, but a missed land drop guaranteed that Rudy was in the game with just Scavenging+Ooze resolving against Rudy’s Loxodon+Smiter.
Peeling land, Joseph sent in Hellrider with Flinthoof+Boar to put Rudy on 9 life, the Smiter staying back as Rudy missed a land drop. Volcanic+Strength for the full amount of punishment put Rudy into a bind, threatening lethal if Rudy didn’t block—lacking a Mountain, he chumped with Smiter. Joseph had Geist after combat, but Rudy’s Scavenging+Ooze gave him some hope.
A greedy Ghor-Clan+Rampager over a Wolf Run activation tried to deliver Joseph the win, but Rudy’s Selesnya+Charm shut it down. He untapped into Voice+of+Resurgence with a green up, turning a corner in the match with the ability to make his monsters grow. Another Geist traded fully with the front end of Voice due to Rudy’s Ooze, and he was looking good despite Joseph squeezing in a point of damage.
The Ooze began attacking, putting Joseph to 11 with an Elemental token on defense. It was Hellkite, Hellrider, or bust—did Joseph have the hasted threat this time? Mizzium+Mortars dropped a blocker and put Rudy to 4, but he went back to 6 with Scavenging+Ooze activations.
And then, fair became fair. A Hellrider let Rudy slide in for exactsies!
Joseph 1, Rudy 2