Round 9: Nick Holcomb vs. Justin "Hoss" Hostutler
Hoss may or may not be bringing in some Mental Missteps...
Florida regular Justin “Hoss” Hostutler decided to play in the Standard Open on a whim Friday night after seeing the Frites decklist online—it had worked out pretty well so far, as he had just a loss to his name. Nick Holcomb had accrued the same record with one of the decks of the weekend, Mono-Green Aggro.
A carefully considered keep from Hoss on the play, while Nick wound up making a faster one. Starting with Razorverge Thicket, Hoss passed the turn. Nick played Forest and nothing else, nodding when Hoss used Traveler’s Instincts to bun Rune-Scarred Demon and Unburial Rites, grabbing Avacyn’s Pilgrim.
Green Sun’s Zenith for one searched out Birds of Paradise, but Nick had no further action. Any land would flashback the Instincts, but Hoss decided on Blackcleave Cliffs and Lingering Souls, content to hit the full five colors and begin beating down.
…Or blocking. Nick cast Dungrove Elder on the third turn, and Hoss had to reconsider his plans. He decided to attack, initiating the damage race, and followed with Unburial Rites on Rune-Scarred Demon, tutoring up the card of his choosing. His hand was stacked with spells, and after some thought he decided to get Faithless Looting to keep the engine going. Appearing pretty behind, Nick’s Phyrexian Metamorph cost 2 life and gave him a Demon of his own!
Nick tanked pretty long on the card, likely grabbing another Metamorph if he had one available. When Hoss blocked the Elder with his Demon, Nick revealed the likely tutor target: Dismember to kill the 6/6.
Now Hoss was the one behind on the board. The block on Nick’s turn appeared ill-advised, and Hoss didn’t have much to follow his Looting—just mana dorks and a pass of the turn. Nick’s attack earned blocks from Hoss with the Spirit tokens, and Nick cast Green Sun’s Zenith post-combat for Acidic Slime on Razorverge Thicket.
An untapped land would still give Hoss Elesh Norn mana—did he have it? Woodland Cemetery did the trick, and he passed with the 4/7 facing down a 4/4 Demon and a 3/3 Dungrove Elder. Nick could get in with the Demon-Metamorph, but little else barring Bellowing Tanglewurm. He sent for 4 damage and cast Green Sun’s Zenith for four afterward, nabbing another Dungrove Elder.
Hoss had the goods at the ready, but started the turn with Faithless Looting from the grip. Mulch hit a Forest and discarded an Inferno Titan, and then Oblivion Ring removed the Metamorph from the game. Elesh Norn attacked for 4, and Hoss passed. Nick was looking for another Acidic Slime here to blow the game wide open, but a Forest indicated he was lacking on the draw step.
Thinking over an attack, Nick probably couldn’t sell Hoss on a Dismember this time. Indeed, despite Nick’s attack and gamely holding a single Forest from his lands, Hoss blocked without a moment’s thought, falling to 10 life.
Hoss 1, Nick 0
Nick tried a few bluffs, but they ultimately didn't work out.
“So what do you do against Nihil Spellbomb?” Nick asked. “I have Mental Missteps and stuff,” Hoss said, pausing. “Hey, you tricked me!” A bit of the sideboard cat had escaped the bag as the players shuffled for the second game. Forest and Birds of Paradise began the game for Nick, and Hoss did him one better with Razorverge Thicket and the same mana creature. Strangleroot Geist swung in on the second turn, and Nick paid 4 life to Dismember the Birds.
Losing Birds could be bad for Hoss—his deck had clunky mana. Blackcleave Cliffs revealed he had the most important colors, and he used it to Faithless Looting on the second turn and discard Elesh Norn and Phyrexian Digester. Avacyn’s Pilgrim replaced the lost Birds, and Hoss ended the turn.
Nick swung in 2 more damage and cast Green Sun’s Zenith on three, searching up Dungrove Elder and tapping out. Paying two mana, Hoss Mulched his way into Darkslick Shores, discarding two Inferno Titans and a Wurmcoil Engine. He didn’t play the Shores, instead choosing to Tracker’s Instincts for another Wurmcoil Engine, putting Faithless Looting, Sword of Feast and Famine, and another Instincts in the graveyard.
Forest and an attack put 6 more damage on Hoss, dropping him to 10 life. He played Shores and then Oblivion Ring, removing the Strangleroot Geist—Hoss needed Unburial Rites. Nick attacked him to 5, and Hoss tapped out for Wurmcoil Engine.
Act of Aggression on that sealed the game for Nick.
Hoss 1, Nick 1
On the play, Hoss kept his seven quickly but Nick had trouble, eventually hanging on. Copperline Gorge and Avacyn’s Pilgrim for Hoss, with Forest and Birds of Paradise for Nick. Faithless Looting on turn 2 drew Hoss deeper into the deck, discarding Elesh Norn and another Gorge. He played Blackcleave Cliffs and swung 1 damage in, ending the turn.
Nick tapped out for Dungrove Elder and sent it right back. Paying three mana to flashback Faithless Looting, Hoss pitched two lands and used Razorverge Thicket to cast Birds of Paradise. He took 3 from Nick’s Dungrove Elder on the following turn, and Nick cast two more mana dudes.
Untapping, Hoss slammed Wurmcoil Engine and passed the turn tapped out otherwise. Nick’s fourth Forest followed no other action—he passed. Hoss swung in 6 damage, gaining back all he’d lost and then some… and then he cast another Wurmcoil Engine. That spelled big trouble for Nick! Playing his fifth Forest, Nick stared at a board moving rapidly beyond recovery.
Paying five, he cast Overrun and sent the team in. Hoss blocked Llanowar Elves and took a bunch of damage, but the Wurmcoil mitigated most of it. The next attack reversed the damage completely, Nick losing a Birds just to remain alive.
He played Strangleroot Geist on his own turn, but it was all over from here. Hoss Faithless Looted for more, effectively milling the deck before attacking with everything. He lost an Elf as Nick chumped once again, and ended the turn.
Nick’s second Dungrove Elder and seventh Forest gave him two 7/7s, but the Wurmcoil Engines didn’t really care about size—they’d kill each Elder just as dead. When Hoss drew an Unburial Rites for Elesh Norn, it was officially game.
Hoss 2, Nick 1