Round 4: Riley Curran vs. Brian Braun-Duin
Brian had just finished taking down Ross Merriam’s Elves deck, but he’d have to run it back against Riley Curran in the final round of Legacy for Day 1. Could his 4-Color Deathblade deck take it down twice?
Riley's Elves list has served him well in 2013.
Each player started with a mulligan, and Riley fell to five cards as Brian kept his six. “Let’s give it a spin of the wheel,” he said. Riley’s five offered turn 1 Nettle Sentinel after fetching Bayou, and Brian played Tundra on turn 1 but no other spell. The Sentinel took Brian to 18, and Riley shipped the turn.
Brian Brainstormed in the end step, telegraphing some weakness or perhaps just really hoping to turn 2 Stoneforge Mystic. Debating his options, Brian drew one of the cards back and then played Scrubland before Dark Confidant—looked like he’d be revealing his other Brainstormed card, which was most likely his third land. In the end step, Riley fetched for Dryad Arbor.
Fetching again, Riley then cast Green Sun’s Zenith for two in order to untap Nettle Sentinel and draw a card off Elvish Visionary, his search choice. Brian fell to 16 after feinting a block, and revealed Polluted Delta to Dark Confidant as he began his own turn. Then, he began to think. First he attacked Bob into Visionary—no blocks from Riley, who hoped to preserve his Visionary.
Then Brian fetched Underground Sea and cast another Dark Confidant prior to using Swords to Plowshares as a Stone Rain on Dryad Arbor. That gave Riley an opening, and he cast Glimpse of Nature into Heritage Druid and then Deathrite Shaman after using the Druid, finding another Glimpse to continue chaining. Birchlore Rangers drew two cards and gave him another iteration of three mana before Green Sun’s Zenith searched up Wirewood Symbiote.
Now Riley was off to the races. Using Symbiote to bounce and untap, he kept going with Priest of Titania, another Deathrite Shaman, and then a second Nettle Sentinel to start really churning out mana. After a couple more Elf casting, Riley had the mana and the creatures required to cast Craterhoof Behemoth for lethal.
Brian got a little green into his Esper Stoneblade list for Deathrite Shaman!
Riley 1, Brian 0
Riley had battled back from five cards off a quick Glimpse in the first game, but Brian would have more defensive weapons available to him in the sideboarded games. Brian kept his opener for game 2 while Riley shipped down to six cards. “Worked out for you last time,” Brian noted, and Riley agreed.
Turn 1 Ponder for Brian wasn’t the discard spell that Riley feared, and Brian decided to shuffle the top three away. Riley fetched Bayou once again and opened on a threatening Deathrite Shaman this time, a card Brian didn’t like to see across from him. Fetching for Scrubland, Brian cast Dark Confidant and ended his second turn.
Riley fetched as well on turn 2, grabbing Savannah and then using his Shaman to cast Green Sun’s Zenith for two and grab Elvish Visionary. Brian revealed a second Dark Confidant and then drew for his turn, unsure of how to proceed from here. He played Wasteland but opted to use it for Liliana of the Veil, which made Riley sacrifice Elvish Visionary. Keeping Dark Confidant back on defense, Brian ended the turn.
On a mulligan against Liliana could be dangerous, but Riley started the next turn with Glimpse to soften its power. He cast Nettle Sentinel to draw and then fetched for Bayou and used Shaman to cast another Zenith for one, grabbing Wirewood Symbiote. He could bounce Nettle Sentinel to recast it for another card through Shaman, and did so—that left just one land still in the graveyard.
Brian revealed Brainstorm to Dark Confidant this time, and knew he was falling behind. He could draw all the cards he wanted, but Riley was the one making moves onto the board. Liliana pitched the Brainstorm and a fetchland from Riley’s hand before Dark Confidant attacked Riley to 15. Fetching up Tundra, Brian went to four mana and Riley began picking up his permanents.
“Supreme Verdict,” Brian said, and Riley saved his Deathrite Shaman before binning the Symbiote and Sentinel. Cabal Therapy on Brian named Stoneforge Mystic but found only two Brainstorms, Dark Confidant, and a fetchland. A second Therapy named Brainstorm, savaging Brian’s hand while Riley played Deathrite Shaman and Dryad Arbor, going down to one card.
Wasteland killed the Arbor and Liliana the Shaman before Brian played Dark Confidant and a fetchland. Riley played a new Shaman on the next turn while Brian revealed one of his own to Dark Confidant, casting it. In Riley’s next draw step Brian cast Vendilion Clique, revealing Natural Order and Quirion Ranger—guess which one went to the bottom of the deck?
“Well, I had a plan,” Riley muttered, now reduced to just some Elves. He activated Deathrite Shaman to put Brian on 12 and then cast Quirion Ranger to untap it and bounce Bayou, which he replayed. Another Deathrite Shaman hit the board, and Riley was looking to go all-in on activations over the next few turns. Bob revealed Swords to throw a wrench in that plan, and Brian sure enough knew it.
He attacked with Dark Confidant and Clique, offering Riley a trade that Riley decided to take, exchanging a Shaman for a Confidant. Swords killed the other Shaman, Riley gaining 2 life in response, and Brian passed the turn with the game under control. Riley drew... and morphed a creature, clearly Birchlore Rangers. Brian began exiling Cabal Therapies to knock Riley into Clique’s range, Brian falling to 9 as the morph attacked before Wirewood Symbiote resolved.
Brian was just barely ahead of the race here but had Riley dead on his next turn after attacking Riley to 5. Riley drew and scooped ‘em up.
Riley 1, Brian 1
Riley had the play this time and kept seven, with Brian following suit. Turn 1 Deathrite Shaman gave Riley the edge, and caused Brian to consider his own turn 1 quite carefully before landing on Flooded Strand into Scrubland and Swords for that Shaman.
Another Shaman for Riley but no second land—did Brian have a second Swords? He started the turn on Thoughtseize, revealing two Symbiotes, Birchlore Rangers, Harmonic Sliver, and Natural Order before taking the Rangers. Playing Creeping Tar Pit, Brian passed. Riley drew Windswept Heath to get Savannah and then cast a Symbiote, his Shaman ready to start zapping Brian for 2 damage and this board threatening Natural Order if Riley drew another land.
Brian started on Ponder during turn 3, keeping them on top and playing Tundra. Thoughtseize took Natural Order from Riley’s remaining cards, and Brian fell to 13 as the Shaman drained him in the end step. Riley attacked for 1 and played another land, passing. He would make Brian react to this Shaman before doing anything else in the game.
Content to dig, Brian Brainstormed into one known card and quickly thumped one back down before adding the second and playing Plains—Stoneforge Mystic shuffled things up, finding Umezawa’s Jitte. Deathrite Shaman resolved afterward, and Brian passed but got drained again. Now that Riley didn’t really fear Verdict, he cast his second Symbiote and ended the turn.
Brian drew and passed, locked by his Brainstorm and looking to stave off Riley’s Deathrite Shaman with his own. Vendilion Clique during Riley’s draw step revealed Heritage Druid and Gaea’s Cradle while the Harmonic Sliver got cycled, and now Riley knew he was vulnerable to Jitte on Clique. The Druid resolved and Cradle gave Riley four mana, as he used his Symbiotes and the Heritage Druid to chain Deathrite Shaman twice into Brian’s face.
On 6 life, Brian drew and played Underground Sea before putting the Jitte onto his Clique. Attacking Riley to 15, Riley did try to squeeze a Deathrite Shaman activation in edgewise, but Brian wasn’t having it—he used his own to drop Riley to 16, and then the attack put him on 13. The first Jitte counter killed the only active Symbiote, which bounced Deathrite Shaman in response. The second counter killed Riley’s other Symbiote, leaving his board nothing but lands.
He drew and passed, needing to find Zenith or his Harmonic Sliver again. Once Brian got to untap, he felt incredibly safe. Brainstorming before attacking, he got two more counters onto that Jitte and put Riley in range of mortal peril over the next two turns. Inquisition of Kozilek discarded Deathrite Shaman and Liliana of the Veil binned a Cabal Therapy from Riley’s hand.
One more card for Riley, and he conceded.
Riley 1, Brian 2