Round 7: Ken Bearl vs. Meru Bhanot
Meru has been rising steadily to the top with a pretty standard Delver list, but Ken’s gotten there with a totally different style of Seachrome Coast. He’s combining Stonehorn Dignitary with Venser, Sojourner in order to lock the opponent out of combat—and out of the game.
Ken struggles to stay alive in a tight game.
Starting with Island, Meru passed to Ken, who played Seachrome Coast. Meru’s turn 2 gave him Glacial Fortress and Delver of Secrets, his draw for turn. Ken cast Gitaxian Probe for mana to see Vapor Snag, Geist of Saint Traft, Mana Leak, Sword of War and Peace, and Snapcaster Mage before playing Glacial Fortress.
Revealing Thought Scour, Meru flipped his Delver. He followed by casting the instant and hitting the land he needed to hold open Mana Leak—greedy!—attacking for 3 damage. Meru cast the Leak when Ken cast Blade Splicer on turn 3, and attacked for 3 more. Playing Seachrome Coast tapped, Meru dropped Geist of Saint Traft.
Ken played his fourth land and cast Restoration Angel, playing around Snapcaster Mage for the Mana Leak. Meru’s available plays were still quite fierce, however—he tapped out for Sword of War and Peace, declining to sneak in for 9 damage immediately with a Vapor Snag, which would have made it 10. Ken cast Merfolk Looter and left his Moorland Haunt at the ready, passing with three up and the Angel on defense.
Playing very cautiously, Meru equipped his Geist with Sword of War and Peace and attacked. Ken declined to block Geist, using a Spirit to chump the Angel token. Meru had Ken down to 6 and on the ropes—he passed the turn. Drawing and then Looting, Ken cast Gitaxian Probe to see Vapor Snag, Phantasmal Image, and Snapcaster Mage.
Meru 1, Ken 0
On the upside for Ken, Meru still appeared to be under the impression that Ken was playing Delver—he hadn’t seen the hand of useless Vensers Ken was holding. Ken kept his seven in game 2, and Meru mulliganed to six. Seachrome Coast for Ken, while Meru began with island and Ponder, shuffling.
Turn 2 Merfolk Looter from Ken was matched by Invisible Stalker from Meru, and Ken spent the next turn looting before playing a land, discarding Cloudshift. He revealed Timely Reinforcements, Oblivion Ring, Venser, Snapcaster Mage, and Divine Offering to Meru’s Gitaxian Probe—the jig was up. Attacking for 1, Meru followed with Island and Snapcaster Mage, flashbacking Ponder and shuffling. Notably, Meru lacked a white source thus far.
Ken paid 2 life to Probe, seeing Runechanter’s Pike, Phantasmal Image, Negate, and two more Islands in Meru’s hand. He played Moorland Haunt and cast Timely Reinforcements, passing the turn with Merfolk Looter untapped on 23 life. That became 22 when Stalker swung, and Meru cast his Pike and passed the turn with two mana up. Ken knew the Negate was there, but he also knew he had two ways to beat Pike in his hand.
Playing a fifth land told Meru that Ken would be able to kill the Pike, but he passed rather than playing Oblivion Ring. He was probably looking to setup resolving Venser instead. Meru equipped the Pike, and Ken resolved his Divine Offering to destroy it. Playing Glacial Fortress, Meru passed the turn.
Ken wasn’t Looting—his hand was pretty stacked! He cast Blade Splicer and attacked with his tokens, dropping Meru to 13. The Splicer at least gave Meru something worth copying, and he made two Blade Splicers of his own with Phantasmal Images. That gummed up the ground pretty good—Ken would need to find another route.
Oblivion Ring from Ken killed one Golem, and he activated Merfolk Looter, discarding Island. Paying 2 life for Gitaxian Probe, Ken spotted Snapcaster and Negate. He attacked with his 3/3 Golem, and Meru fell to 10. Drawing Dungeon Geists, Meru locked down Ken’s Golem token. He then attacked with his Images, Golem, and Stalker—Ken traded tokens for the Images and took 4 damage.
Looting to start the turn, Ken played Glacial Fortress and passed with six mana available. Meru attacked with the Golem, Geists, and Stalker—now Ken needed to make some moves. He decided to chump the Golem with his Soldier and take 4. During the end step, Ken cast Snapcaster Mage on Cloudshift, targeting Blade Splicer. Meru Negated, and Ken responded with a second Cloudshift, keeping Meru from flashbacking the Negate.
He attacked with Golem, Snapcaster, Looter, and Splicer then, dropping Meru to 5 as he traded Snapcasters. On 12 life himself, Ken passed with Moorland Haunt for defense, and Meru’s Snapcaster Mage stranded—it was his only insurance against Venser making Ken’s team unblockable.
Meru's Dungeon Geists were major players in this match.
Ken fell to 8 when Meru attacked with Golem and Stalker, Dungeon Geists on defense as Ken made a Spirit during the end step. Ken untapped and cast Ponder, finding two lands and a pretty good spell—Snapcaster Mage. He kept it, hoping to ride the Snapcaster, and attacked with just his Golem token. Meru cast Snapcaster Mage, and Ken considered responding with his Snapcaster for Cloudshift, but ultimately allowed the chump block to occur.
Now Ken attacked with Geists and Invisible Stalker, leaving his Golem back to defend the home. Ken chumped the Dungeon Geists with a Spirit, and nodded as Meru cast Delver of Secrets. Snapcaster Mage during the end step gave Ken Divine Offering to kill Meru’s Golem token, and now he just had the blue 1/1 for defense.
Ken untapped and sent in the team, Meru falling to 3 for Gut Shot on Snapcaster and chumping Ken’s 3/3 token, falling to 1 from Looter and Splicer. Ken followed by casting Venser to blink Glacial Fortress—he could only die to Sword of War and Peace off the top for exactsies from this position, although a Venser on Oblivion Ring to remove Dungeon Geists would have fixed that.
Chaining two Ponders together, Meru failed to find an answer and conceded.
Meru 1, Ken 1
Island and Delver of Secrets for Meru, while Ken cast turn 1 Ponder and immediately shuffled. No flips on Delver, but Meru had a second one after attacking and played Moorland Haunt as well. No turn 2 for Ken beyond a land, and Meru used Thought Scour after missing his first flip but still couldn’t make a 3/2. He played Seachrome Coast and attacked for 1, as Ken traded a Snapcaster for one Delver.
The Oblivion Ring that followed slew the other, and Meru’s offense had suddenly disappeared. He paid mana for Gitaxian Probe to see Divine Offering, Venser, Oblivion Ring, Restoration Angel, and Stonehorn Dignitary. Then he cast Geist of Saint Traft! Ken topdecked a very important fourth land to cast Stonehorn Dignitary and put pressure on Meru thanks to Venser.
Without a combat step but with a Geist, Meru considered what to do next. He eventually passed the turn, and Ken did the same after playing Seachrome Coast. Snapcaster Mage on Thought Scour during the end step gave Ken an opportunity to Restoration Angel, but Meru cast Vapor Snag to keep his combat step, this turn.
Dungeon Geists tapped down the Angel and Meru attacked for 8, but Ken had Stonehorn Dignitary once again, of course. He played another land, having drawn nothing but for several turns, and passed. Meru cast Phantasmal Image to copy Restoration Angel and blink Snapcaster Mage, flashbacking Gitaxian Probe for life. He followed by casting Ponder, and shuffling—was he open for business to Venser next turn?
Glacial Fortress put him up to two mana and let him represent a counter, but Ken was low on options at this point. He resolved the planeswalker and used it to free Restoration Angel and reset Stonehorn Dignitary.
Oblivion Ring from Meru exiled the planeswalker, but Ken had his own second Ring to get Venser back from exile as time was called. He blinked his Dignitary for the turn and followed by casting Snapcaster Mage for Ponder and ending the turn.
Meru had a very short amount of time to break this lock and swing for lethal damage. He passed, and Ken began his turn with an attempt to Venser Stonehorn. Vapor Snag made him pick it up, but he recast the 1/4 to remain alive and passed. Meru made a Spirit token during the end step, and untapped for Ponder.
Following with Probe, Meru spotted hand of more ways to delay the game... he no longer had a way to win from this position, and the game ended in a draw shortly after.
Meru 1, Ken 1