Round 7: Zaiem Beg vs. Adam Brown
Adam put up a tough fight in game 1 after a mulligan to five.
These two hadn’t had long drives to the tournament site this weekend, both hailing from the area. They were each playing Snapcaster Mages and Ponders, but Adam’s Delver deck with blade Splicers would have its work cut out for it against Esper Midrange, a deck designed to utilize many of the same synergies.
Zaeim stood firm on seven, but Adam had to drop to six cards before laughing at those six and throwing them back for five. “Still can’t do it,” he said, checking the top. “I’d have gotten there!” Darkslick Shores and Ponder on turn 1 for Zaiem, who left the top three in place. Adam dropped Island and Pondered as well.
Seachrome Coast and nothing else for Zaiem, while Adam Pondered again before playing Cavern of Souls on Human and casting Delver of Secrets. Thought Scour for Zaiem binned a Phantasmal Image he’d known was on top, and he fired Gut Shot at the Delver, going to 18 and passing with both Forbidden Alchemy and Snapcaster for Thought Scour available.
Adam Snapped his Ponder on turn 3, generating a 2/1 but electing to shuffle up his deck before drawing. Zaeim made the Alchemy in the end step, tossing Mana Leak, Ponder, and a land. Playing his fourth land, Zaiem passed with Restoration Angel in his hand—would he have an opportunity to cast it? The threat of Mana Leak loomed... Adam Pondered again, then played Cavern for Angels and passed.
Declining to try either his Angel or his Snapcaster Mage, Zaiem untapped. He cast Snapcaster Mage for Ponder after playing his fifth land, checking the top three for some goods and leaving them there. Adam Snapped for Ponder once more, and left the cards there before paying 2 life to Gitaxian Probe.
The jig was up—Doom Blade, Restoration Angel, Phantasmal Image, Seachrome Coast, and Oblivion Ring revealed that Zaiem had a little bit of everything! Afterward, Adam played Island and attacked, with Zaiem declining to trade and falling to 14. Zaiem blocked this time, then played Restoration Angel before damage—Adam’s Vapor Snag on Snapcaster Mage “sort of” countered the rebuy.
Now Zaiem attacked, and Adam paid 4 life to Dismember the Angel. Zaiem passed on six lands, and had his Snapcaster Mage once more, this time on Gut Shot. He blocked, then Gut Shot, and then Doom Bladed before damage, staying at 9 even as Adam Mana Leaked the Doom Blade.
Both players passed, and Zaiem took control of the board with Blade Splicer. Adam copied it with Phantasmal Image, then did that again—now he had the board dominated, with Zaeim’s life total open to pressure. He swung for 3 anyway, then played Phantasmal Image himself for another Splicer, passing the turn. Zaiem declined to Angel his Splicer when Adam tapped out to Snag that Image, clearly representing another Snag or Snapcaster Mage.
He attacked with two Golems, and Zaiem resolved Restoration Angel on his Blade Splicer, then blocked with his Golems—he lost both to the Snapcaster Mage from Adam, falling to 8 as his Blade Splicer bounced. Adam could have Snapped Leak on Angel here, but had chosen this line instead—it kept a Golem around, but gave Zaiem the Angel and an additional Blade Splicer trigger on the next turn.
Zaiem punished him with the bounced Blade Splicer and then a second copy, attacking Adam to 8 with Restoration Angel. Now the boards were mostly even... but Adam had Sword of War and Peace to threaten breaking parity. He equipped his Golem token, and passed. Zaiem finally hit seven mana with Evolving Wilds during this end step.
Adam had no cards and couldn’t Moorland Haunt, and he wasn’t getting that Sword through these Golems. Zaiem started doing the math, and led with Oblivion Ring for the Sword, locking it out of the game and giving him room to swing with Golems if he so chose. Sending three Golems and the Angel, he forced two blocks from Adam. Snapcaster and two Splicers chumped, and he fell to 5.
Zaiem passed, and Adam conceded after checking his next card.
Zaiem 1, Adam 0
Zaiem had all the answers, however.
Adam had the play and seven cards, casting Ponder on turn 1 once more. Zaiem had no turn 1 past Island, but did Thought Scour in the end step once Adam passed with only Island. He had Drowned Catacomb afterward, and no reply for Adam’s Turn 3 Blade Splicer. Casting ponder, Zaiem left his top three cards and played Plains, then appeared to consider Doom Blading before just ending his turn.
He Doom Bladed when Adam attacked, landing the removal spell and falling to 19. Adam cast a second Blade Splicer to replace the fallen Golem, and it was Zaiem’s turn to make a 3/3 with his own Blade Splicer. Casting Snapcaster Mage for Ponder, Adam looked to find Vapor Snag and fuel an attack here—missing, he sent only his Golem. Zaiem took 3, and fell to 16. Attacking back, he put Adam to 17 and then cast Restoration Angel during his turn for another Golem.
Now Adam passed, no longer able to attack. Zaiem shipped in his two Golems and Restoration Angel, but Adam had an Angel of his own. Gut Shot killed the Splicer Adam tried to rebuy, but he was able to kill two of Zaiem’s Golems at just the cost of his one anyway, taking 3 damage.
Zaiem Pondered, and cast a second Angel for a new Golem, tapped out. Adam couldn’t equip his Sword of War and Peace, but he certainly could cast it—with one mana up, he passed the turn with Splicer, Snap, and Angel on defense. Doom Blade slew the Angel, and Zaiem attacked Adam to 5 before casting Divine Offering on the Sword.
Reduced to just Snapcaster and Splicer against two Angels, Splicer, and Golem, Adam attacked—that could only mean Day of Judgment, which mopped the board. Zaiem cast Lingering Souls to start rebuilding, and when Adam passed the turn he appeared very vulnerable indeed. Vapor Snag took out one Spirit, and Adam fell to 4.
Flashback on the Lingering Souls gaze Zaiem a two-turn clock, and he Negated another Day to protect it. Swinging Adam to 1 life, he passed—Ponder for Adam dug to find one final answer, but when he failed to muster a third day or Ratchet Bomb off the shuffle, Adam conceded.
Zaiem 2, Adam 0