Quarterfinals: Nick Veccie vs. Alex Hon
Two friends met in the quarterfinals of the Birmingham Standard Open, playing very different strategies. Nick's on a relatively traditional Delver deck, while Alex is playing Wolf Run White. It's been a while since these friends had played a real match, but this one would be for some dough!
Nick's paired against a friend in the Top 8, but he has the advantage of the play.
Seachrome Coast and Ponder from Nick to start, while Alex had Sunpetal Grove. Invisible Stalker gave Nick his first offensive machine, while Alex got ahead on mana with Rampant Growth for Forest after playing Plains. Attacking for a point, Nick tapped out on turn 3 for Sword of War and Peace—that forced Alex to spend turn 4 on Day of Judgment.
Still, Nick had Moorland Haunt and Sword online, so Alex was in trouble. Casting a new Invisible Stalker instead, Nick passed with two up to keep Mana Leak available. Alex knew to expect the counter… but how could he play through it? He decided on Solemn Simulacrum, searching for a Mountain and passing without a natural land drop.
Smelling vulnerability, Nick suited up his Stalker and swung, gaining 4 and dealing 8 damage, leaving Alex on 11. Post-combat Glacial Fortress gave Nick Moorland Haunt opportunities, if necessary. Alex swung with Solemn and then played his land before casting Primeval Titan, which Nick allowed to resolve. He knew he only had to care about things that would stop his Stalker and Sword from connecting. Making a Moorland Haunt token during the end step, Nick prepared to end it.
Nick 1, Alex 0
Each player took a mulligan in game 2, but Nick took another and fell to five cards. “Wanna just go to game 3?” Alex offered. Nick kept, and Alex began with Sunpetal Grove while Nick started Delver of Secrets. No turn 2 for Alex except a land, and when Delver bricked Nick played Glacial Fortress and got in for 1.
Timely Reinforcements punished that attack fiercely, and Nick didn't have the Mana Leak to shut it down; he neglected to Vapor Snag and negate it that way, though. He passed on the next turn, and Alex increased the pressure with Thrun, the Last Troll. Nick's Dungeon Geists tapped a Soldier, and he fell to 13 as Alex attacked with just Thrun.
Drawing another card, that Delver remained unflipped and Nick scooped up his cards.
Alex is all smiles with the semifinals on the line.
Nick kept on seven in game 3 while Alex fell to six cards, where he reluctantly stayed. Island and Delver for Nick, while Alex topdecked a second land to get in business and played Razorverge Thicket. Delver missed for Nick, but Ponder and a second Delver sounded brutal.
Another attack for 6 from Nick, but he still didn't have a land. He cast a third Delver and passed with one mana up, fearing a lot of things… none of which Alex had. He played Solemn Simulacrum and then swung for 3 with his Soldiers, passing the turn to Nick. Drawing nonland and non-instant/sorcery, Nick only swung with two Insects.
Alex remained in a weird position, and attacked Nick to 12 with his three Soldiers and Simulacrum before casting Ratchet Bomb. If that resolved, it would almost certainly be lights out for Nick… he nodded, and it was in play. Following with Rampant Growth, Nick Mana Leaked that one.
No Delver flip, and Nick swung for 7, the Bomb reducing it to a single damage and knocking Alex to six. Nick cast Runechanter's Pike and passed. Alex attacked Nick to 10 and cast Timely Reinforcements for the life, going to 12. Another failure to flip Delver for Nick, and his Pike met Ancient Grudge when he equipped. Alex attacked him to 8 and cast a second Sphere of the Suns, out of gas.
Nick attacked him down to 10 with Delver and played Island—was the game still within reach? He tapped out for Geist of Saint Traft, but Alex had him covered with Gideon Jura off the top. Casting the planeswalker, Alex killed the tapped Delver and passed. That was the opportunity Nick needed—he Vapor Snagged the Simulacrum and sent 2 into Alex while the Angel slew Gideon, leaving Alex on 7 to Nick's 8.
Just right for Timely Reinforcements! Nick frowned at that spell, responding with Vapor Snag to counter its effects but putting Geist back in the grip. Alex tapped out for Solemn Simulacrum afterward, searching for another land and on no cards now.
Dungeon Geists tapped down the Solemn Simulacrum, and Alex drew an airball. He took 3 damage from Geists, and now Nick passed—he probably had a Dissipate rocking in the grip, and planned to ride his flier to the win. Alex drew and played Rampant Growth, Nick attacking him to 1 life and quickly passing the turn.
Nick 2, Alex 1