Quarterfinals: Josh Wagener (U/B Zombies) vs. Eric Fairchild (Mono-Black Zombies)
Josh Wagener starts off with a Mortarpod out of his Zombies deck.
There would be a distinct lack of braaains in this quarterfinal, as each player came equipped with Zombies. It would be a tough fight, with Eric's Lashwrithes and his mono-black manabase facing off against the Phantasmal Images of Josh's B/u build.
Turn 1 Gravecrawler for Eric started the beatdown, while Josh passed with Swamp. Another Gravecrawler and Fume Spitter added to the beatdown crew on Eric’s side as he put Josh to 18, and Mortarpod was not much of a threat to their attacks.
Fume Spitter bit it to the Germ after it blocked a Gravecrawler, and while Eric had a third Swamp he lacked Geralf’s Messenger and ended the turn. Josh mused over his options, stuck on just two lands and facing a Zombie horde that would reanimate themselves over and over. He played Diregraf Ghoul and passed the turn.
Eric attacked him for 4, played a fourth Swamp, and passed—one of his Gravecrawler met a Tragic Slip during the end step. Thumping the deck, Josh received the land he needed. He attacked for 2 to put Eric on 18 and cast Tragic Slip, passing the turn. Eric was clearly flooded as he played a fourth land, followed by Mortarpod.
On 12 but pulling ahead, Josh cast Geralf’s Messenger and passed. When Eric had nothing once again, he Slipped the Germ and took 1, forcing through 5 damage before copying Geralf’s Messenger with Phantasmal Image.
Eric made a big move on the next turn, playing Cemetery Reaper and getting back both Gravecrawlers in addition to equipping his Mortarpod to the lord. Josh sent his squad, keeping the pressure up for an opponent at 9 life; he would be dead without a block, and Cemetery Reaper on Diregraf Ghoul did not stop Mortarpod plus Messenger from finishing the game.
Josh 1, Eric 0
Eric led Swamp and no one-drop, but Josh had Diregraf Ghoul following Darkslick Shores. When he tried to attack on turn 2, Geth’s Verdict slew the 2/2 and Josh’s only follow-up was Nihil Spellbomb. Eric’s turn 3 gave him another Swamp and Cemetery Reaper—the lord would require an answer, and Josh appeared to lack one. He cycled away his Spellbomb on his own creature to control the Reaper.
Eric Fairchild is sporting Mono-Black Zombies with his own Mortarpod.
Turn 3 and Josh didn’t have anything truly awesome. He copied the Reaper with Phantasmal Image and hoped to dodge removal. He didn’t block when Eric attacked, and Eric tapped out for Geralf’s Messenger after that, missing his fourth land—that made it likely he had more action.
Distress from Josh saw two Lashwrithes and two Tragic Slips—very bad news for Josh! He decided to discard a Slip and pass, declining to attack. Eric wasn’t likely to let him trade this time, though. He drew Swamp and used it to Slip the Image, leaving Reaper back to create a Zombie as Messenger attacked for 4 damage, putting Josh to 11.
“I’m thinking of some possible outs here,” Josh said, deciding to slip the Reaper. Eric made a 2/2, and when Josh drew another land he conceded with a hand chock full.
Josh 1, Eric 1
Swamp and Gravecrawler from Josh began the beats, and Fume Spitter on Eric’s side replied, killing the Zombie. Josh punished him for that with a second copy, tapping out to bring back the first one—big trouble. Eric played Swamp and Highborn Ghoul, awkward in the mirror, and then took 4 damage when Josh attacked.
Nihil Spellbomb on turn 3 was less dangerous than Geralf’s Messenger, but it did give Josh the mana to Tragic Slip that 2/1. Eric cast Geralf’s Messenger after that and passed, Josh cycling Spellbomb to dig for an Image. He didn’t find one, but a Messenger of his own was just as good and put Eric down to 8 life. Untapping, Eric had a lot of bleeding to stem, and ultimately passed the turn on three lands with a Messenger defending.
Josh attacked for 7 with all of his creatures, and Eric traded messengers to go to 2 life. Post-combat, Phyrexian Obliterator hit the board, and Eric cast Geth’s Verdict and then Tragic Slip to kill the 5/5. He drew for turn and tapped out to make Lashwrithe, giving him a very necessary blocker to stay alive. Josh lacked a way to breakthrough, but had another Obliterator at the ready.
Josh considered attacking with the Messenger, a move that would remove Phantasmal Image as an out if Eric blocked with his Messenger. In the end, he was deciding between casting Obliterator or Distress to clear the way and resurrecting his Gravecrawler. He eventually elected to send the Messenger, which predictably traded with Messenger. Post-combat, he dropped Gravecrawler and Sword of War and Peace, choosing to try and grind it out against whatever Eric might have with his unkillable duo.
Eric couldn’t generate an additional blocker on the next turn—he just sighed and conceded.
Josh 2, Eric 1