Round 8: Bruce Mills vs. Christian Smith
Bruce Mills took a break from judging this weekend to play, and found him vying for a tiebreaker fight to make the Top 8. A win here would likely land him somewhere between 7th and 9th, while Christian needed one more victory to guarantee a Top 16 finish.
Bruce began with Bayou and Veteran Explorer. “Ooh, Nic Fit,” Christian said. “I like it.” He fetched for Forest and played Wild Growth. Bruce attacked for 1 and cast an irrelevant Wall of Blossoms to cycle. Oblivion Ring exiled the Veteran Explorer on Christian's turn, outlawing Cabal Therapy for value, but Bruce deployed the dangerous Pernicious Deed.
Bruce Mills leans on his Eternal Witnesses for the win.
Christian didn't have many choices beyond playing into it. He made his third land and then cast City of Solitude. At a minimum, it forced Bruce to Deed on his own turn! Bruce had Volrath's Stronghold available and cast Green Sun's Zenith for Scavenging Ooze before passing, stuck on three mana. Christian continued to carefully extend onto the board, playing Enchantress' Presence and then Utopia Sprawl, followed by Elephant Grass.
The Deed ate the board and freed Explorer from Oblivion Ring, but Bruce had a second copy in his hand. His Zenith last turn should probably have gone for Explorer to make this play a little stronger, but he was still ahead. Christian popped Horizon Canopy to draw, and took a point from Explorer as Bruce replayed Pernicious Deed.
During the end step, Christian cast Enlightened Tutor to search up another Presence, knowing its card advantage was the only way he could persevere through Deed. He cast the Presence, and passed the turn.
Bruce played a land off the top and attacked for 1. He then detonated Pernicious Deed, rather than attacking Christian's hand with Hymn to Tourachs over consecutive turns. He cast one of the Hymns after fetching up Plains and Swamp, leaving Christian on just one card after discarding Raking Canopy and Serra's Sanctum. Argothian Enchantress was the ideal card to follow the sweep, however, and Christian remained in the game.
Playing Top, Bruce spun it to grab Liliana of the Veil from the top, which killed the Argothian Enchantress. Christian played a land and then shrugged, putting Choke on the board rather than binning it to Liliana.
Bruce discarded Sword to Liliana and then recast his Top, spinning it before casting Thrun, the Last Troll. Utopia Sprawl was no match for the mighty Troll, and Bruce attacked on the next turn for 4. He added Eternal Witness to the board and retrieved Pernicious Deed, then cast kitchen Finks. With Deed, Witness, and Volrath's Stronghold in place, Christian was functionally locked out of the game.
Bruce 1, Christian 0
Turn 1 Leyline of Sanctity would buy Christian some time against those Hymns, but he'd need more to beat the Pernicious Deeds. Dryad Arbor from Bruce indicated a land light hand, and Christian expanded his board on turn 2 with Wild Growth and Sterling Grove, taking 1 from Horizon Canopy.
Bruce cast Veteran Explorer and played a Swamp, passing back to Christian. He made another Grove, giving all of his enchantments shroud. Bruce attacked for 1 damage and then cast Pernicious Deed, which he popped for zero when Christian attempted to Oblivion Ring it—that killed his Dryad Arbor. Bayou off the top gave him back his green mana, and he attacked with Explorer before passing the turn.
Christian drew and passed right back, Bruce casting Enlightened Tutor during the end step to find Pernicious Deed. He played Volrath's Stronghold and cast the Deed after attacking with Explorer, leaving Plains untapped and ending the turn. During the end step, Christian popped a Sterling Grove to find Oblivion Ring.
He cast the Ring on his own turn, prompting Bruce to detonate the Deed for one in response to the targeting. Each player grabbed two Forests, and Christian played Elephant Grass before passing the turn. Bruce had Eternal Witness already in his hand to get back Pernicious Deed, which combined with his Volrath's Stronghold would again let him blow up the world on demand, at the cost of a lot of mana.
He fetched Bayou and then played the Witness to retrieve Deed, followed by casting Wickerbough Elder and ending the turn. Christian's defensive measures were all enchantments that cost three or less—ideal for Brian to detonate on the next turn while leaving Wickerbough's counter on the creature. Christian popped his Grove during the end step to search for Enchantress's Presence, likely planning to rebuild post-Deed.
Christian stares down a wall of Deeds.
Christian sacrificed his Elephant Grass and cast the Presence, followed by another Elephant Grass to draw a card and buy some time. Bruce cast Deed and broke it for three destroy everything except the Leyline of Sanctity. He then attacked with his 3/3 Elder to leave Christian on 10, followed by casting an Explorer.
Falling to 9 life for Replenish, Christian put most of his graveyard into play. Oblivion Rings took the Elder and the Veteran Explorer, and Christian passed. Bruce shrugged, cast the excess Deed he'd drawn last turn, and popped the enchantment for three. That incentivized Christian to blow a Sterling Grove on Enchantress's Presence. Returned his Elder and Explorer, Bruce tapped out to Extirpate Replenish—no more of that!
With his Presence shuffled away, Christian had just Sigil of the Empty Throne and Sterling Grove in his hand. If Bruce played carefully, that should never be enough—Stronghold for Witness would see to that. Christian drew and played Argothian Enchantress, then Sterling Grove to draw a card. During his own upkeep, Bruce returned Eternal Witness to the deck and drew it. He attacked for 4, dropping Christian to 5, and he added Witness to the board.
Naturally, it grabbed Pernicious Deed.
Needing a good card, Christian drew without popping Grove and examined the board. He drew for casting Utopia Sprawl and then popped Horizon Canopy. He played another Canopy to draw another card, and then passed the turn.
Deed for two would clear the way to make lethal damage, but he attacked—Christian chumped with his Enchantress to stay alive on 2 life. Bruce played the Deed after combat and appeared to consider blowing it now—that would give Christian two more lands and maybe let him back into the game with Sigil, if he could muster the enchantments to do it.
Christian searched for Moat with his Grove in response but shuffled it away when he used the Explorer's effect, upon further consideration. He had to beat the Elder in play (and the Deed in the graveyard) first, however. Bruce played Liliana of the Veil after all that, making Christian discard Tropical Island.
Bruce 2, Christian 0