Round 8: Ian Duke vs. Dave Shiels
Dave Shiels has been making some deep runs in Standard over the past couple seasons, with a Grand Prix win in Dallas and a finals finish in Grand Prix Baltimore. Ian came to this event with his brother Reid Duke—another player having a standout season—but had decided to play a different deck, successfully so far.
Dave's not playing Zombies--promise.
Dave keeps seven to start the match, while Ian found himself mulliganing down to five cards before getting an acceptable hand. Dave began with Glacial Fortress, while Ian played Copperline Gorge. Seachrome Coast for Dave, and he nodded as Ian played Forest and Avacyn’s Pilgrim.
Tapping out to drop Geist of Saint Traft, Dave wasn’t punished at all when Ian was forced to play Kessig Wolf Run and ship turn with no plays. Dave Pondered on turn 4, keeping the three and ending the turn with no attack from Geist—clearly he had no answer to a potential flash block or even just Wolf Run on the Pilgrim for 1, and wasn’t willing to risk Ian blocking.
Ian played nothing during Dave’s end step, and just Rootbound Crag on his own turn, passing once more. Now Dave dropped Sword of Feast and Famine, equipping and attacking for 8 while Ian binned Forest. When Ian’s next creature earned Vapor Snag, he packed up his cards.
Dave 1, Ian 0
“I’ll admit, when I saw turn 1 Copperline Gorge, I was a little worried,” Dave said. Fortunately for Dave, Ian’s deck hadn’t looked much like the blistering G/R Aggro deck in that game and Ian had been on a mulligan to 5, giving Dave a quick upper hand. Ian certainly had plenty of sideboard for the Delver deck, but would he be able to overcome his early disadvantage?
Ian kept and it was Dave’s turn to mulligan. Starting on Birds of Paradise and Forest, Ian had an aggressive turn 1—but not as aggressive as Seachrome Coast, Delver of Secrets. He played Rootbound Crag and Galvanic Blasted the Delver before sending with Strangleroot Geist, while Dave passed turn 2 with just Glacial Fortress.
Attacking Dave to 16, Ian tapped out for Sword of War and Peace and cast another Bird, increasing the pressure to “scalding” on Dave. Dave passed without a third land, and Ian began turn 4 by equipping his Birds of Paradise. Attacking with the Birds and Geist, Ian forced Dave to burn a Snag on the Birds in order to avoid the Sword hit. Post-combat, he replayed the Birds and then dropped Forest, equipping.
That earned the frown from Dave, and he grimaced when his next draw step didn’t yield the land he needed to turn on Snapcaster Mage for Vapor Snag. He dropped the 2/1 in an attempt to block some damage, but Ian Blasted the Snapcaster before blockers—that dropped Dave to 5 life. He peeled Moorland Haunt, but he had to once again pass the turn and hope to Snapcaster his way back into the game.
Blocking and Snagging, Dave managed to stay on 5 life for the time being. Now Ian equipped Strangleroot Geist, no longer so fearful of Vapor Snag on his Spirit, and ended the turn. Tanking, Dave decided to Day of Judgment and hope for the best. Ian played his Birds of Paradise and equipped, keeping the heat on high.
Timely Reinforcements for Dave put him to 11 and gave him three Soldiers, while another land put him down to just two cards and in significantly safer range. Ian attacked him down to 7, and then played Strangleroot Geist—well, that guy was a turn late! He shifted the Sword to his 2/1 and passed. Dave dropped Phantasmal Image and copied Geist.
Ian does the math on his Sword swings, figuring out how to squeeze through an attack.
Ian Galvanic Blasted that Image during the end step to copy Geist once more, and then untapped into Bonfire of the Damned for two. Dave, having already lost to one Bonfire today, wasn’t eager to lose to another—he had Mana Leak ready to go, and Ian was stymied for the turn. Dave dropped Evolving Wilds, and passed.
Another Sword of War and Peace resolved for Ian, and he put it on his Birds and attacked. Dave fell to 4 from that attack, and then fetched for Plains before making a Spirit with Moorland Haunt. He untapped, checked the top, and scooped up his cards.
Dave 1, Ian 1
Dave badly wanted to keep his seven and decided to do so, with Ian following suit. He started Pondering on turn 1 with an Island, eventually keeping his top three. Copperline Forge and pass for Ian left him on an average start, while Dave had Seachrome Coast and ended the turn. Ian declined making a play beyond Forest, and Dave Thought Scoured his Ponder’s last card before untapping.
Just Evolving Wilds on Dave’ s next turn, and Ian passed after playing his second Forest. A very passive game so far, the sort that tended to favor Delver in the matchup—what did Ian have up his sleeve? Dave bricked a fourth land and ended the turn, while Ian baited Mana Leak with Wolfir Avenger. He then tapped out for Sword of War and Peace, played Copperline Gorge, and passed—he had a plan.
Countering all the creatures wasn’t realistic, so Dave worked on developing his board. Snapcaster Mage for Ponder merited a shuffle, Dave still looking for land to start enabling Restoration Angels. He drew one—Cavern of Souls, which named Human. Did Ian have Strangleroot Geist for the punishment? No, but Wolfir Sivlerheart could eb pretty punishing if Dave lacked Vapor Snag.
Vapor Snag at the ready, Dave debated the merits of copying Silverheart with Phantasmal Image before doing the deed, but decided to drop Sword of War and Peace and leave one mana untapped for the bounce spell. Ian wouldn’t run headlong into that by just equipping, and simply attacked for 4 damage. Awkward, to be sure—clearly Ian lacked cheap creatures. He played Sword of War and Peace and passed without equipping, leaving three mana up, and Dave shrugged before Snagging the Silverheart.
Ian thought about a potential reply, and then ended his turn. Dave equipped his Mage, and Ian had no reply. When it attacked, he used Ancient Grudge to destroy the Sword, beating even Mana Leak. That left him on 17, and Dave passed with Mana Leak online. Ian drew and needed a cheap man—all he could manage was a third Sword of War and Peace.
Dave cast Amass the Components in order to build his lead, but he did it before attacking and theoretically now had to fear Wolfir Avenger, but he seemed confident that Ian lacked the Wolf and swung anyway, earning his damage. Ian cast Wolfir Silverheart and passed, picking it up immediately for Vapor Snag.
Attacking again, Dave played Moorland Haunt with no men in the graveyard. Strangleroot Geist for Ian represented a threat, and Dave nodded as it resolved. He used Restoration Angel to rebuy Snapcaster Mage’s Vapor Snag, casting it to put Ian on 11 and bounce the Geist. Declining to replay the Geist, Ian held open the mana for Combust.
Now Dave had total control. He attacked and lost his Angel, putting Ian on 9. Sitting on a second Angel, Dave decided to pass the turn rather than tap low for another Consecrated Sphinx. When Ian tried the same Geist, Dave Mana Leaked it. Ian paid the three, but Snapcaster Mage on Mana Leak countered for real. Tapping out, Ian played Avacyn’s Pilgrim and sent the turn.
Two Snapcaster Mages were a real clock now, and Dave sent both into the Pilgrim. Ian couldn’t afford a block, falling to 5 life, and Dave played an eighth land and passed, Restoration Angel at the ready to clean this game up. Ian dropped a land precombat—bold, considering he needed the life—and then equipped his Sword. Dave could afford to take the hit, with the ability to deal the exact eight damage he needed available, but he decided to play it safer and Restoration Angel his Snapcaster Mage again, for another Vapor Snag.
Snagging the Pilgrim, Dave put Ian to 4. Bonfire of the Damned for 1 dropped all those Snapcaster Mages, but Moorland Haunt still represented a lethal attacker. When Dave made the Spirit, Ian pounced with Plummet to stay alive. The Spirit attacked, and Dave finally played his big mythic—Consecrated Sphinx—as time was called.
Dave considered not drawing with Sphinx, fearing the Swords on Ian’s side of the board, but he eventually decided to draw two cards. Avacyn’s Pilgrim returned, grabbed Sword of War and Peace, and Ian shipped the turn. When Dave attacked, Ian extended the hand.
Dave 2, Ian 1