Round 7: Steve Guillerm vs. Matt Costa
“I feel like we play with above average frequency,” Matt said. “At the same time, if we’re both doing well we should expect to see each other,” Steve replied. Both players were definitely doing well today—with only one loss, they were in Top 8 contention. This match would change that for one of them.
Matt's sideboard contains a few spicy numbers--and usually, four more Delvers during games 2 and 3!.
On the play, Steve quickly kept and Matt also had a playable opener. Turn 1 Diregraf Ghoul from Swamp revealed Steve’s archetype—Matt was on Delver, of course. He had Seachrome Coast but no one-drop, and took 2 damage when Steve attacked on the following turn. Butcher Ghoul from Steve merited Vapor Snag, and Matt drew for turn 2.
Another Coast and Delver of Secrets developed his position, and Steve chose to attack for 2 damage then replayed Butcher Ghoul, added Fume Spitter, and finally Woodland Cemetery to enable Tragic Slip on the Delver of Secrets. Matt responded with Vapor Snag to save it, and Steve decided to leave Fume Spitter in play to fight another day.
Matt reverted to the control role with Plains and pass, saving his Delver for later. Steve attacked on the next turn, and Matt replied with Snapcaster Mage for Vapor Snag, but another Tragic Slip forced him to Snag his own Snapcaster in order to keep one of his few creatures alive—sort of. Steve dealt 4 damage, and passed. Moorland Haunt for Matt developed his position, and he passed again.
Trying to Snapcaster Mage again, Steve’s third Slip got the Snapcaster and forced Matt to just Snag Diregraf Ghoul and preserve his life total, which sat at 9. Steve was running low on gas, if Matt could stem the current assault, but he simply played Seachrome Coast and passed.
Steve couldn’t send Fume Spitter due to Moorland Haunt, but Restoration Angel from Matt gave him a far better block, consuming Diregraf Ghoul “They always have everything,” he quipped, getting through for 1 damage. Matt cast Gitaxian probe to see two lands and draw a card, now in a significantly favorable position as long as he remained on a strong life total.
Land, sacrifice Spitter to kill Delver, and pass concluded Steve’s turn, and Matt created a Spirit during the end step. He sent both the Spirit and his Angel into combat, putting Steve on 14, and passed with seven mana up. Steve attacked Matt to 7, and then cast a fresh Gravecrawler. Matt made another Spirit, his clock increasing with each turn.
He Pondered before attacking for 6 damage, sitting on a Vapor Snag in his hand already. When Ponder found a Blade Splicer, that just about wrapped things up—Steve was already on 9, facing a real offense at this point. He played Falkenrath Aristocrat and stared at the board before deciding to try an attack, and Matt Vapor Snagged the Aristocrat in reply.
Matt 1, Steve 0
Steve's Zombie Pod deck has leaned on aggressive drops and removal, backed by Falkenrath Aristocrat.
Turn 1 Diregraf Ghoul again began the game for Steve, while Matt passed on Seachrome Coast. Mortarpod wasn’t much more of an offense. Steve got in for 2 before casting the living weapon, and his Ghoul was Snagged during the end step. Matt passed turn 2 with another Coast, while Steve dropped Gravecrawler and the Ghoul, missing a land drop.
Trying Snapcaster Mage on defense during Steve’s fourth turn, Mortarpod slew the 2/1 although Steve had to pick up a Zombie. He replayed it, adding Fume Spitter and ending the turn. Making his fourth land drop, Matt shipped turn with a clearly represented Restoration Angel.
Steve had the Doom Blade to keep attacking, but Matt didn’t mind attackers—he tapped out to play Gideon Jura on turn 5. The planeswalker fell to four loyalty, and Steve cast Birthing Pod before passing the turn. An Oblivion Ring from Matt handled that problem admirably, and a second Oblivion Ring removed Gravecrawler from the game, Steve deciding to hang onto Fume Spitter.
He swung Gideon to two loyalty, but had no other plays despite Matt being tapped out. Moorland Haunt for Matt added options to his board, and Gideon grew back to four. When Steve attacked, matt attempted to trade a Spirit token for Fume Spitter, but Tragic Slip stopped that. Restoration Angel afterward met another Doom Blade, and Gideon dropped down to one loyalty, with Steve representing enough damage to finally kill it on the next turn.
Of course, that made this the perfect moment for Matt to cast Day of Judgment and pump his planeswalker. Steve played a new Gravecrawler and equipped it with Mortarpod, but the top of Matt’s deck was kinder with Ponder. Keeping three cards, Matt then Thought Scoured two lands away and pumped his planeswalker before passing with one card and five mana.
Defending his Gideon with a Spirit token, Matt nodded as Steve resolved Gloom Surgeon after attacking. Matt dropped Snapcaster Mage for Ponder, with only one creature left in the bin to Haunt. He followed by casting Probe to spot two Aristocrats and a Phyrexian Metamorph—Dragonskull Summit would be some kind of wonderful for Steve! Matt boosted Gideon and ended the turn.
Trading Snapcaster Mage for Gravecrawler, Matt’s Gideon took 2 from Gloom Surgeon and then the Surgeon picked up Mortarpod—still no fifth land. Matt went big with Sun Titan for Snapcaster Mage and Ponder on the following turn, threatening to close this one out in a hurry! Gideon jumped back to seven, and Steve was back to the top of the deck.
Phyrexian Metamorph on Titan for Fume Spitter, and the Surgeon suicide itself for Snapcaster Mage. Matt untapped into Phantasmal Image, and made another Sun Titan. Steve responded with Fume Spitter on the real Sun Titan, and Matt once again resurrected Snapcaster Mage, this time for Thought Scour to hit a Phantasmal Image. He attacked, getting that Image back for another Titan and then another Snapcaster Mage, and using Restoration Angel to save his Sun Titan and get another trigger for Glacial Fortress!
Steve faced down three Sun Titans and a Snapcaster Mage, not to mention Restoration Angel, but he did finally draw that Dragonskull Summit. Gideon was on nine loyalty, however, so there was work to do. Steve cast a Gravecrawler and resurrected two Gravecrawlers, using Mortarpod and the Fume Spitter his Metamorphed Titan retrieved to force a triple-block from Matt, trading two Snapcaster Mages and a Restoration Angel for the Metamorph.
The Sun Titan stood alone—but not for long. Matt activated Gideon, attacked for 12, and got back both Images and a land, his graveyard now devoid of Snapcaster spells. Adding Blade Splicer to the board, Matt shipped the turn and Steve conceded after drawing his card.
“Nice Delver deck,” Matt commented, revealing he’d sideboarded out his Delvers to become a full-on midrange U/W deck. “I wish we’d saved this one for the Invitational,” he admitted. “That was the original plan, but we couldn’t not play it!”
Matt 2, Steve 0