Round 8: Brian Braun-Duin vs. Jake Mondello
Brian Braun-Duin sits at the top of the Player’s Championship Leaderboard, and wanted a strong finish this weekend to lock up his invite. His B/W Devotion deck had certainly delivered, as he was one match away from an undefeated day 1, but Jake Mondello and his Mono-Black Devotion deck hoped to throw a wrench in his plans.
Brian began the game with a temple and pass, and Jake kicked off the action with a Thoughtseize. Brian revealed Hero’s Downfall, Thoughtseize, Revoke Existence, Orzhov Guildgate, two Swamps, and Jake deprived him off of his Thoughtseize. Jake’s follow up, Pack Rat, met Hero’s downfall from Brian. When Jake simply played a land and passed, Brian cast a Duress, seeing Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Hero’s Downfall, Underworld Connections, and two Swamps. After some deliberation, he took the Underworld Connections.
Jake immediately found another Underworld Connections and played it. He only got one activation out of it before it met Revoke Existence. Both players traded removal spells for threats over the next few turns. Desecration Demon ate Hero’s Downfall. Elspeth, Sun’s Champion did likewise, although Brian got to keep three soldier tokens. Nightveil Specter met Bile Blight. BBD had Obzedat, Ghost Council, and Jake had yet another Hero’s Downfall. Jake finally stuck some threats, in the form of a pair of Gray Merchants of Asphodel, knocking BBD to 10 and bumping Jake up to 16.
Brian cast Underworld Connections and started drawing extras, looking for a way to stabilize. He found Desecration Demon. Jake could only play a land and pass. When Jake declined to feed the demon, Brian swung for 6, knocking Jake to 9. Brian passed, and Jake drew and passed right back. This time, Gray Merchant was sacrificed. After the Demon trigger, BBD disposed of the remaining Merchant with a Devour Flesh, then cracked in with his Soldiers. Post-Combat, he added another Demon to the board.
Jake now found himself needing a big play to get back in the game. He drew Pack Rat, and cast it with six mana open and three cards in hand. Brian had a whammie right back at him, ripping Whip of Erebos and returning his Obzedat, Ghost Council to play. Two Rats were sacrificed to the Demons, but Obzedat and the Soldiers came swinging, and Brian jumped back up to 13 life. Jake drew for his turn and conceded.
Brian Braun-Duin 1, Jake Mondello 0
Jake Mondello can't Hero's Downfall that Elspeth fast enough.
Jake again opened up the game with a discard spell, casting Duress on turn 1. Brian revealed two Hero’s Downfalls Brimaz, King of Oreksos, Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, Devour Flesh, Godless Shrine, and Mutavault. Jake deprived him of his planeswalker.
Both players simply played land-go for several more turns after that. Jake had the next play on turn 4 in the form of Whip of Erebos. Brian’s response on his own turn was to cast Underworld Connections and draw a card, both players jockeying for position in the long game. Jake had no follow up play, but did activate his two Mutavault and swing. Brian drew two cards and passed back, and Jake found a third swamp and tried for a Nightveil Specter. Brian cast a Devour Flesh at his end step, which ended up disposing of one of Jake’s Mutavaults.
Brian again passed the turn without a play, but had Hero’s Downfall for the Specter when Jake tried to attack with it. Jake had a post-combat Underworld Connections, however, and now both players were drawing two a turn.
Brian found a big threat on his next turn in the form of Elspeth, Sun’s Champion. Jake didn’t have a way to get it off the board, but he did cast Lifebane Zombie, revealing a hand of Two Hero’s Downfalls, Dark Betrayal, Devour Flesh, and a Swamp for Brian. On his own turn, Brian got to take a peek at Jake’s hand as well, casting Thoughtseize to see Devour Flesh, Dark Betrayal, and two Nightveil Specters. Jake lost a Nightveil Specter.
When Jake attacked with his Lifebane Zombie the next turn, Brian was ready with Devour Flesh. Jake activated his Mutavault in response, but Brian disposed of it with Hero’s Downfall. The Devour Flesh resolved, bringing Jake to a healthy 22, and Jake looked to slam the door shut with a Gray Merchant of Asphodel, draining Brian down to 3 life and climbing up to 28.
Jake: “You should kill this.”
Brian, noting the Whip of Erebos in play: “You think so? I don’t know about that.”
He went down to 2 to draw a card with his Underworld Connections, and then cast a Blood Baron of Vizkopa. He made some more tokens with Elspeth, ticking it up to seven loyalty, then passed the turn. Brian sat with a hand full of removal for whatever Jake could Whip back, and plenty of blockers for the Gray Merchant of Asphodel, but Jake wasn’t out of tricks. He cast Dark Betrayal targeting his own Gray Merchant, and then Whipped it back into play to drain Brian out.
Brian Braun-Duin 1, Jake Mondello 1
This time it was Brian’s turn to lead off with discard, casting Thoughtseize and seeing two Nightveil Specters Thoughtseize, Hero’s Downfall, two Mutavaults, and a Temple of Silence. He disposed of the Thoughtseize. The next play of the game was a Nightveil Specter from Jake, which Brian promptly killed off with an end-step Devour Flesh.
Brian didn’t find a fourth land, but tapped out for Underworld Connections. Jake had a card-drawing engine of his own on his turn 4 in the form of Erebos, God of the Dead. Brian drew two cards, played an untapped Godless Shrine and passed. Jake activated Mutavault and attacked, drawing Hero’s Downfall from Brian. He drew a card with Erebos and passed. When Brian looked to stabilize with Brimaz, King of Oreksos, Jake had Devour Flesh.
Brian’s next threat was a Blood Baron of Vizkopa. Jake didn’t appear to have an answer to that one, as Jake went digging with Erebos. He passed the turn, and Brian attacked for 4 with his first Blood Baron, then cast another. Jake cast an Underworld Connection and activated it, going down to 12 to keep on digging. He found Lifebane Zombie and cast it, seeing Erebos and Hero’s Downfall. Brian fell to 7 at Jake’s end step, drawing a card from his Connections.
Knowing the next turn was pivotal, Brian took a moment in the tank deciding whether to attack with his Blood Barons. He eventually decided to swing with both, knocking Jake to 4. He went to 6 from his Underworld Connections and passed.
Now it was Jake who had to crunch some numbers. He went to 3 to draw a card, then attacked with Erebos, God of the Dead and Lifebane Zombie. Brian showed him Ultimate Price, which killed the Lifebane Zombie and turned off Erebos’s creature form. Jake played a third Mutavault and passed back with enough mana to activate all three.
Brian drew his card, activated Underworld Connections to draw another, then attacked with his two Blood Baron of Vizkopas. Jake slowly activated one Mutavault, then another. Brian allowed him to move to blocks, and both went in front of a Blood Baron.
Jake plucked Gray Merchant of Asphodel! Brian responded to the trigger with a Hero’s Downfall on the Merchant, and the trigger dropped Brian to 2 and bumped Jake up to 6. Jake played a land and passed with two untapped and no blockers.
Brian untapped and thought briefly before attacking with his two Blood Barons. Jake had nothing, and extended the hand.
Brian Braun-Duin 2, Jake Mondello 1