Round 12: Ben Friedman vs. Lukas Carlson
Lots of players have been experimenting with Shardless BUG variants in the Invitational, and Lukas Carlson was among them. He faced Ben Friedman in the final round of Legacy, a player known to favor Stoneforge strategies.
Lukas mounts a ground-based counterassault against an oncoming Insect.
Ben took the die roll and the play, and both players kept. Ben had an ideal start with turn 1 Delver of Secrets, Volcanic Island concealing his tempo variant from Lukas for now. Fetching up Tropical Island, Lukas remained a secret as well. “That smells like RUG Delver of BUG,” Ben said, as Lukas cast turn 1 Brainstorm.
Hitting Ponder, Ben flipped his Delver and swung for 3 damage. Wasteland eliminated the Tropical Island, and Ben passed to Lukas, who had no permanents in play. Bayou and pass for Lukas, who took another 3 damage. Ben played Misty Rainforest and cast Ponder, finding one among the top three cards that he wanted.
Lukas played a second Bayou and cast Tarmogoyf to add pressure onto the board, but Ben was getting too far ahead. He attacked again, leaving Lukas on 10 life before Ben cast Stoneforge Mystic to dig up Batterskull. Lukas tapped out for Shardless Agent and attempted to resolve Thoughtseize via cascade, but Ben fetched with Misty Rainforest and cast Spell Pierce.
Tarmogoyf knocked Ben to 16, and Ben began the turn with Ponder before Gitaxian Probe revealed Brainstorm, Tarmogoyf, Ancestral Vision, Badlands, and Taiga. “A greedy mana base,” Ben said as he jotted down the cards, and Lukas laughed. Fetching, Ben attacked and left open the mana he’d need to forge a Batterskull on Lukas’s turn. When Lukas Brainstormed, Ben nodded—he had a Force,a nd intended to burn it at the best moment. He was threatening the ability to attack for lethal with a land off the top already.
Hymn to Tourach earned Spell Pierce, and Ben put Batterskull into play during the end step. He missed the land to let him go all-in on Insectile Aberration, but he instead went with casting Umezawa’s Jitte to equip onto Batterskull, attacking with everyone afterward. The Germ traded with Tarmogoyf, and Ben dropped Lukas to 3 with two potentially lethal attackers leftover.
Lukas cast a Hymn to check Ben’s hand, then conceded.
Ben Friedman, with his decidedly superb Insectile Aberrations.
Ben 1, Lukas 0
Starting on Underground Sea and Deathrite Shaman, Lukas took an early lead as Ben simply played Tundra and ended his turn. No back-breaker Wasteland for Lukas—just an attack for 1 and Baleful Strix. Nodding, Ben drew for turn and debated his next move. Playing Wasteland, Ben cast Swords on the Shaman and then destroyed Underground Sea, keeping Hymn off his back for now as Lukas had Tropical Island left.
Playing Bayou, Lukas attacked for 1 more damage. Ben dropped Volcanic Island and Stoneforge Mystic for Batterskull, but Abrupt Decay killed the Mystic in the end step before a fetchland replaced Underground Sea and allowed Lukas to cast Hymn. Hitting Sword of Feast and Famine and Batterskull, it was a big Hymn!
A bittersweet Brainstorm for Ben tried to help him recover, and Ben fetched to shuffle the deck prior to casting Gitaxian Probe. That revealed a fourth land for Lukas, Tarmogoyf, and Bloodbraid Elf! It would be tricky to come out of this one with both haymaker pieces of equipment already in the graveyard, but Ben sought a way to do so with Ponder. Shuffling up the deck, he cast Delver of Secrets and ended the turn.
Down came the Elf, finding an Ancestral Vision to push Lukas further ahead. He attacked for 4 damage, knocking Ben to 10. Delver picked up Jitte and attacked for 1 damage, Ben losing the rest of his (mostly useless) hand to Hymn immediately after. Lukas attacked for 4 once more, and Ben decided to kill the Elf with his Jitte and fall to 9. Fetching, Lukas cast Tarmogoyf and passed.
Brainstorm off the top flipped Delver and offered Ben some action. He knocked Lukas to 15 and Brainstormed, finding an interesting Geist of Saint Traft among the top three cards. Slamming the Geist, his sails lost all of their wind when Lukas untapped, Whipflared, and added a second Tarmogoyf to the board.
Ben 1, Lukas 1
Ben began the third game by fetching Tundra and casting Ponder, throwing the top three on top and drawing. Lukas had no turn 1 except for Creeping Tar Pit, and no reply to Ben’s turn 2 Stoneforge Mystic for Sword of Feast and Famine. Lukas had plenty of answers to Sword here, between discard spells and Abrupt Decay, but did he actually have one in his hand?
Casting Baleful Strix, Lukas was surprised to see Ben Daze the Bird. Replaying his land, Ben passed right back to Lukas who now had to live in fear of the Sword—he played a land and passed. The au naturel Batterskull entered the battlefield during Lukas’s end step, and it started going to work on his life total in a big way. Ben knew Lukas was likely holding Decay—and probably only one Decay, because the Mystic had survived.
Laying a fourth land, Lukas fetched Tropical Island and cast Baleful Strix, passing with two mana up once more. Ben dropped in the Sword this time, debating how to play his next turn after untapping. He put the Sword onto Stoneforge Mystic and attacked, losing the Sword to Abrupt Decay before losing the Mystic to the Strix. Afterward, Ben added Grim Lavamancer to the battlefield.
Two 5/6 Tarmogoyfs stood in Ben’s way following the next turn, but that Lavamancer meant Ben could trade his Germ—temporarily—for one of the big green men. Attacking, Lukas did indeed block and Ben exiled the only sorcery to shrink the remaining Goyf while Lavamancing the blocker. Fetching, Ben put Volcanic Island into play and cast Ponder, adding sorcery back into the graveyard and using Stoneforge Mystic to dig up Jitte before using Gitaxian Probe.
That showed Lukas had his own Jitte, along with Bloodbraid Elf—Ben might be in trouble! Lukas equipped Jitte to Tarmogoyf and attacked for 5, killing Lavamancer with a Jitte counter and passing to Ben. Ben needed a fifth land to stay in this with Batterskull, and he had one. Casting Jitte and equipping, he attacked for 1 and now had the counters he’d need to protect Stoneforge from Tarmogoyf’s own Jitte.
Bloodbraid Elf cascaded into Liliana of the Veil, but Ben used Spell Pierce and Daze to keep her off the battlefield. The Tarmogoyf knocked Ben to 18, but he was in fine shape with Lukas on 8. After adding Batterskull to the Mystic, he used Jitte to eat up Bloodbraid Elf and knock Lukas to 3 life. Now Lukas could no longer battle—he passed with the 6/7 Tarmogoyf sitting on defense, capable of gaining six more power.
Swords to Plowshares removed the Tarmogoyf from Ben’s path, and he forced Lukas to burn Jitte counters to stay alive. Passing back over, Ben watched Lukas Brainstorm for help... but he found none waiting and Ben took an incredibly close third game.
Ben 2, Lukas 1