Round 6: Michael Brady vs. Aaron Whittington
Michael's Mono Red fired Phoenix fast and furious.
Each of these players was packing Mountain, but not much beyond that remained the same. Playing an aggressive version of Mono Red that featured Volt Charge and Shrine of Burning Rage, Michael Brady had to get past undefeated Aaron Whittington on R/W Steel.
Aaron started the game with Mountain and Signal Pest, putting some fear into Michael. Michael’s Mountain lacked accompaniment, and Aaron followed with Clifftop Retreat, Signal Pest, and Glint Hawk to return one. A turn 2 Arc Trail from Michael punished him fiercely, however—that was going to leave a mark.
Fearless, Aaron cast Etched Champion after playing Inkmoth Nexus and passed, losing the 2/2 to Volt Charge. Out of gas for the moment, Aaron replayed his Signal Pest and passed the turn. He spent Galvanic Blast on Chandra’s Phoenix when Michael played it on the next turn, but clearly wasn’t happy about it.
Animating Inkmoth Nexus, he put two poison on Michael and passed the turn after playing Plains. Another Phoenix swooped down for Michael, dealing 2 damage, and he played Goblin Fireslinger. Aaron had a plan for that Bird too, however.
Swinging with Nexus and Pest again, he played another Pest after combat and Dispatched the 2/2. Michael became concerned on his turn, deciding to cast Shrine of Burning Rage with two mana up and end the turn. Did he have an answer to Inkmoth?
He wouldn’t need one for the time being, as Aaron played it safe with another Etched Champion. When he moved to attack, Michael used Galvanic Blast on one Signal Pest. That left Aaron on two artifacts, but he did have a mana up for Inkmoth. Michael’s third Phoenix put Shrine to three counters, with Aaron on 15 after it attacked.
Remaining aggressive, Aaron cast Memnite and swung with the team, dealing 2 more poison to make it six and hitting Michael to 17. Aaron himself dropped to 14 from Fireslinger before passing the turn, Michael trying to grow his Shrine. He sent that Phoenix into combat, and Aaron replied with another Dispatch, removing it from the game.
Michael passed after that, out of threats. Aaron played another Memnite and sent the team, but Volt Charge zapped the Nexus while Goblin Fireslinger blocked Memnite, dealing a point and trading for the artifact. Aaron now had just Memnite, Pest, and Champion, with Michael’s Shrine moving to seven counters as he cast Chandra’s Phoenix and attacked.
Aaron lost his Pest to Gut Shot and got in another 3 damage with Memnite and Etched Champion, adding Glint Hawk Idol to the board. He pushed the Idol in front of the Phoenix when Michael attacked, and Michael dropped Stormblood Berserker without bloodthirst just to tick up his Shrine.
Michael 1, Aaron 0
Aaron's got an aggressive deck capable of metalcrafting Galvanic Blast--scary!
Two keeps, and Aaron started with Inkmoth Nexus, pass. Michael’s Mountain and Stromkirk Noble one-upped him significantly, and he lacked the removal spell—just Glint Hawk Idol alongside Plains. A second Noble joined the part on turn 2 for Michael, as did Goblin Fireslinger; the first Noble grew to 2/2, and this game was already downhill for Aaron.
He played Clifftop Retreat and passed, relying on the tenuous Idol for defense. Michael didn’t need to remove it—he added Chandra’s Phoenix to the board, tapping out, at which point Aaron revealed his hand of removal. Celestial Purge for the Phoenix and Galvanic Blast for one Noble slowed Michael down considerably.
Aaron played a land and Tempered Steel on turn 4, followed by Vault Skirge. Goblin Fireslinger took him to 15, and Michael lacked the very important burn spell for the Skirge—Aaron was right back in it, even as Michael cast Grim Lavamancer and Chandra’s Phoenix before passing.
A second Tempered Steel gave Aaron the vastly superior clock, and he swung for 11 and gained 5 life, rocketing back to 20. Fireslinger zapped him, but Michael needed a way to kill the lifelink creature very, very soon. He swung with a 2/2 Noble to grow it and passed, likely planning to block with Phoenix.
He chucked the Phoenix under the Idol and took 5 damage, drawing one more card before conceding.
Michael 1, Aaron 1
Turn 1 Fireslinger for Michael was trumped by turn 1 Memnite and Vault Skirge from Aaron—Arc Trail or bust! Michael lacked the blowout spell and passed, Incinerating the Skirge when Aaron cast Spellskite. Aaron passed, and Michael zapped him.
Manic Vandal destroyed Spellskite on Michael’s turn, Aaron beginning to fall behind. His Signal Pest and second Memnite did nothing to reverse Michael’s momentum, and Manic Vandal went on the assault. Another Vandal destroyed the Signal Pest, and Aaron shook his head. Casting Etched Champion on exactly three artifacts, he had to hope it would live.
Michael played a fifth land and passed, flooded and lacking a way to remove one artifact and get the Champ off the board. That was perfect for Aaron, who cast a 3/3 Mikaeus the Lunarch on the next turn. This could get ugly… Stromkirk Noble and a sixth land for Michael.
Aaron cast Vault Skirge and swung with his Etched Champion, boosting the damage with Mikaeus and growing the rest of his team. Michael shot him down to 9 with Fireslinger, and moved to his own turn. Both Vandals attacked, trading with Memnites and removing Aaron’s metalcraft. A Mox Opal off the top restored it and Mikaeus declined to pump this turn, likely looking to keep the option to boost itself available.
Fireslinger kept Aaron 10 with Michael at 12, and his Chandra’s Phoenix earned a Dispatch. Mikaeus then pumped everyone during the end step, and Michael was in trouble. Aaron knocked him to 5 when he declined to block, and he needed the top of the deck to be pretty good.
Drawing an Arc Trail, Michael knew that wouldn’t cut it and conceded the game.
Michael 1, Aaron 2