Round 16: Joe Bernal vs. Ben Friedman
Playing for top 8 at the SCG Invitational is a stressful experience, but it’s one that these players have been in before. With both players sitting on X-4 records, which of these players with Invitational top 8s on their resume already will possibly make another this weekend?
Joe won the die roll and after a lengthy deck check led things off with a tapped land while Ben began with Doomed Traveler. Joe played Augur of Souls turn two and found Azorius Charm. Ben did not have a turn two play, allowing Joe to attack with his Augur and then add a second, this time whiffing on his Lumengrid Warden. Ben had some good action turn three though, with Boros Reckoner.
Augur number three came down for Joe, this time finding Tragic Slip off of the trigger. Ben swung in with Boros Reckoner, which got Azorius Charm for its trouble, then cast a second main phase Skirsdag High Priest. Joe untapped and attacked with his trio of 1/3s, dropping Ben to 16, then passed. Ben untapped and dropped Falkenrath Aristocrat, which resolved. At end of turn, Joe used Tragic Slip, to which Ben responded by sacrificing it to Aristocrat, and before Ben could get the Spirit Token and Demon trigger Joe used Slip number two to kill off the High Priest. Tapped out and with not but a Spirit token to his name, Ben passed.
Ben Friedman actin' out, in blasphemous fashion.
In came the Augur army once more, taking Ben to 13, and Lingering Souls added more fuel to the fire. Boros Reckoner for Ben was a good start, but he’d need more than that to get back into this game. A pair of Spirit Tokens swung in, and after two traded Ben fell to 12. Joe passed with all of his mana available, so when Ben cast Blood Artist on the next turn Joe could respond… but no response came and the 0/1 Vampire stayed around. On his turn, he found Snapcaster Mage to flashback Tragic Slip on Blood Artist and Boros Reckoner. This let him attack with impunity, and failing to find Blasphemous Act on top Ben scooped.
“Good old Augur beats… and then you drawing double digit lands.”
Now on the play, Ben began by keeping while his opponent went down to six cards in hand. When play began, it started off slow with the two players playing lands for the first couple turns. The first play of the game was from Ben Friedman, who cast turn two Duress and took Thought Scour over Tragic Slip and two lands. Ben cast Boros Reckoner turn three, and Joe only had lands for now. Boros Reckoner swung into the red zone to deal the first damage of the game.
Joe cast Augur of Bolas and chose to take Lingering Souls, then played land four (two untapped) and passed. Ben cast Sorin, Lord of Innistrad, which resolved, and he chose to make a 1/1 Vampire with his +1 ability. Joe drew, played a land and passed, choosing to play at instant speed rather than commit to the Souls plan. Ben also played cautiously, just adding a counter to his planeswalker. At end of turn, Joe cast Restoration Angel, blinked Augur, and found Tragic Slip with the trigger. Not a bad end step!
Joe chose to Thought Scour himself on his turn then attacked into the Innistrad planeswalker with his Angel before passing. Ben cast Blasphemous Act on his turn before attackers’ step, putting Joe in the position to take thirteen if he failed to address the Reckoner before resolution. In response, Joe used both Tragic Slips to kill a 1/1 and the Reckoner, which allowed Ben to resolve Blood Artist and also make another Vampire.
Lingering Souls finally made its way onto the board for Joe. Duress also took out Azorius Charm from a hand that also included Supreme Verdict and Restoration Angel (three mana for Joe). Ben then cast Falkenrath Aristocrat with the way freshly clear of Charms, and in came a pair of Vampire tokens with one of the aristocratic class. A Lingering Soul stood in front of Ben’s Aristocrats, and Ben made it indestructible (draining for one thanks to Artist). Life totals sat at 14 for Joe and 23 for Ben. Joe regrew his Augur into a Moorland Haunt Spirit at end of turn.
Sorin died to Spirited attacks the next turn, and Joe followed that up with Augur of Bolas (whiffing) and a quick pass. Cartel Aristocrat joined the aristocracy for Ben, and when Falkenrath Aristocrat swung in it triggered Joe’s Restoration Angel trap. The blinked Augur whiffed again, and the chump blocking Angel died to a sacrifice trigger, dropping Joe to 12 thanks to the Artist. Four power hit Ben before Supreme Verdict, and after Ben rescued his 4/1 flier Blood Artist drained Joe down to 6 (Ben at 26), and Joe flashed back Lingering Souls. But bBen didn’t find a second creature to be able to attack, and that gave Joe the window he needed.
Joe's Esper Midrange list redefined Runechanter's Pike.
When Ben finally did find another creature (Cartel Aristocrat) Joe ambushed the Falkenrath after blocks (and after sacking Cartel) with Azorius Charm. The long, slow road to whittling away Joe’s life total began (with a few more tokens from Moorland Haunt). Ben found Sorin, Lord of Innistrad to produce a 1/1, which was cause for a little concern from Joe, who had to immediately deal with the planeswalker or else it could kill him by itself. He knocked it down to two with his Spirits before passing.
Ben just ticked up his Sorin before passing right back. Joe cycled an Azorius Charm before passing, unable to hammer through. Ben sat on Sorin and passed, but Joe had Sphinx’s Revelation to gain six huge life and draw six even bigger cards. Ouch.
Thought Scour cycled through more of Joe’s deck and with his full grip he cast two Tragic Slips targeting Aristocrat to kill it befoe knocking Sorin down to one counter. Ben kept drawing… well, not what he needed. In fact, by my count that was nine lands in play and three in hand. Sorin grew up a little more, but it was not long for this world and died on attackers’ step from Joe. Squarely in the driver’s seat, Joe just leaned on Ben for the remained of the game, as Ben drew more lands and Joe flashed back Sphinx’s Revelation with Snapcaster Mage for good measure.
Detention Sphere took out Ben’s trio of 1/1 lifelinkers, and Joe attacked for six to drop Ben to 14. Ben went for Blasphemous Act, which got Dissipated, and then Sorin, which got Snapcaster Dissipated and that was that. Too many lands, too many Spirits, too many Sphinx’s Revelation.
“I think if I took Slip turn two I could’ve won.”
Joe 2, Ben 0.