Round 7: Brian Braun-Duin vs. Rebecca Ali
Of a few Virginians piloting Mono-Green Aggro, Brian Braun-Duin continued to push towards the top of the standings. He'd just overcome a mirror match against friend David McDarby last round, and now faced Rebecca Ali's G/W Tokens list in the feature match arena.
Winning the play, Brian kept while Rebecca mulliganed, and began with Forest. Rebecca did him one better, starting Razorverge Thicket and Avacyn's Pilgrim, but she was quickly under pressure as Strangleroot Geist emerged and attacked for 2 damage. Turn 2 Blade Splicer was a fine retaliation for Rebecca, however, silencing the 2/1's offense.
Rebecca's deck focuses on fielding a fast swarm and pumping them with Gavony Township.
Brian tapped out for Sword of War and Peace and passed, nodding when Rebecca cast oblivion Rign to remove it before ending the turn. Brian dropped his fourth Forest—sensing a theme here?—and then another Sword of War and Peace. That would probably keep Rebecca's Golem at bay for a while, he thought, but in fact Rebecca attacked and put Brian to 17, casting Geist-Honored Monk post-combat and threatening to race the Sword-wielding Geist if Brian lacked additional action thanks to her Gavony Township.
He equipped the Sword and attacked for 6 damage, gaining 4 life to go to 21. Llanowar Elf followed, and the 1/1 picked up the blade. Rebecca attacked in the air for 2 damage with her Spirits and cast Hero of Bladehold, jamming a ton of threats onto the board and easily outpacing Brian's Sword of War and Peace at this point. Brian was way behind on spells, and Rebecca's tempo had far outpaced his own on the back of that Pilgrim.
A third Sword of War and Peace landed, keeping Llanowar Elf's hands full and earning a chump block from the Golem token—Avacyn's Pilgrim had a Township to manage. Rebecca got a bit ahead of herself on the next turn, attacking with the Pilgrim rather than activating the Township and leaving Bryan barely alive at 4 after his Geist chumped, resurrecting as a 3/2 thanks to its undying ability.
It didn't look like it would matter much—Birds of Paradise and Mortarpod post-combat gave Rebecca plenty of ways to defend from Sword of War and Peace, and the Mortarpod would make Brian absolutely dead on the following turn. He cast Garruk Relentless, killing the Birds of Paradise, but he couldn't connect past the Germ and his life total could not sustain another swing from the Hero.
Rebecca 1, Brian 0
Brian took the play once again, starting strong with Llanowar Elf but quickly matched by Avacyn's Pilgrim off Razorverge Thicket from Rebecca. Sword of War and Peace wasn't a bad turn 2, but Rebecca's Blade Splicer again gave Brian problems.
He couldn't break through, but he equipped his Llanowar Elf and passed the turn, ready to race of the Golem was interested in doing so. Rebecca's Naturalize removed his Sword, and she attacked with the Golem token—Brian's own Naturalize destroyed it. Playing a fourth land, Bryan cast Strangleroot Geist and attacked for 2 damage, followed by a big Dungrove Elder—4/4, to be exact.
Rebecca had a fourth land, casting Garruk Relentless to make a 2/2 Wolf and keep Dungrove Elder at bay for now. Brian's fifth Forest made his Dungrove 5/5, and he sent both the Geist and the Dungrove at Garruk, earning blocks on each of them, although Rebecca may have been rewarded more by letting Garruk flip on the Geist's hit. Tapping out post-combat, Brian cast Batterskull! Needing a way to turn the tide, Rebecca played Gavony Township and cast Hero of Bladehold, a sizable contribution.
But the Batterskull remained in her path, and she likely could not win so long as it was active. Brian sent the Germ and the 5/5 Dungrove at Rebecca, Pilgrim and Wolf token chumping to survive. Another Dungrove, and Brian passed. Rebecca's attempt to slide a Naturalize past Brian was met by a bounce of the equipment, but Rebecca's Blade Splicer and another Wolf token would buy her time.
Jamming his Dungroves at Garruk again, Brian earned a block from Wolf and Splicer before casting his Batterskull once again. Rebecca played Birds of Paradise and made a Wolf, the mana for Township still open, and Brian quickly shifted Batterskull to a Dungrove Elder before playing his seventh Forest and sending both Dungroves in, going to 35 life once Rebecca had blocked. She blasted Llanowar Elves with Garruk to flip him and cast Mayor of Avabruck, no doubt planning to lean on the deathtouch Wolves if she could survive the turn—or if Garruk could.
Sword of War and Peace on Strangleroot Geist complicated things, and Brian sent his team at Garruk. Rebecca's Golem traded with Strangleroot Geist while her other creatures chumped, and now Brian just had his Dungroves and their weapons. Blade Splicer gave Rebecca the defense she needed, and her deathtouch Wolf put Garruk to three. Stable, Rebecca passed the turn.
Brian studies his sideboard for help against Tokens.
Suddenly, his offense was stymied—Brian had no choice but to bounce and recast Batterskull, tapping out. Rebecca's next card was a big one too—Geist-Honored Monk, filling her field with defenders as Garruk continued to produce death. Her Gavony Township would soon make the board completely unmanageable for Brian.
Strangleroot Geist did not help Brian's situation, as all he could really do was ship Sword of War and Peace over to Batterskull and create an incredibly inefficient deathtouch Wolf-destroying Germ—Rebecca predictable blocked to protect her Garruk, and Brian went to 52 life. He moved his Sword to Geist, and passed.
Making another Wolf, Rebecca did some math before passing the turn. Brian immediately send his Strangleroot Geist at Garruk, again meriting a block from a deathtouch Wolf. Birds of Paradise from the hand picked up Sword of War and Peace, and now they were cooking! Brian could finally kill that Garruk. Rebecca drew, searching for an answer—and found one in Oblivion Ring, removing his Sword of War and Peace.
Brian's Birds picked up Batterskull and swung at Garruk, blocked by a Spirit token. Garruk had hit six loyalty now—Rebecca appeared likely to start searching. Sure enough, on the next turn she transformed her Blade Splicer into Hero of Bladehold, passing the turn afterward.
Acidic Slime for Brian was just what the doctor ordered, and now the Birds could get through to (finally) kill Garruk, leaving Brian on 62 life and with a new lease in this game. A second Garruk wasn't nearly as threatening, considering it started on the front side, but Rebecca did use it to clear out Acidic Slime and flip her Garruk. She followed with Mortarpod but lacked the mana necessary to equip that to a deathtouch Wolf—she passed the turn.
Brian attacked that Garruk to death and played an Elf, passing back with two Elders and a Geist on defense, alongside the Bird. Rebecca got to work dismantling Brian's board, using her Mortarpod to kill Llanowar Elf and a Wolf to kill the Birds of Paradise, putting Mortarpod on her last deathtouch Wolf afterward.
Forcing her to use that Wolf on his Geist, Brian loaded the Spirit with all of his equipment and charged into the red zone. His Dungrove Elders were free at last, which meant Rebecca was back to being in trouble—if she'd led Mortarpod and held Garruk until after the Birds was dead, perhaps she'd have retained her dominant position with nonstop deathtouch Wolves. She passed, leaning on Township now.
Brian equipped a Dungrove Elder with Batterskull and attacked with both, Rebecca chumping them. She drew Garruk, and now had a way out—she could make a Wolf until time forced a draw against Brian, giving her the match with one game win. Time was called as she ended her turn.
Moving to 98 life as he attacked again, Brian traded Garruks with Rebecca and passed the turn. She had just Hero of Bladehold in play but needed more. Rebecca chumped the 16/16 Dungrove and took 12 damage, falling to 6 life. If she drew Blade Splicer or Geist-Honored Monk, she'd win the match—anything else, a draw.
She bricked, and the match drew.
Rebecca 1, Brian 1