Happy Thursday, everyone. Today brings a recap of last night’s games, as they both pertain to two recent GDC topics – Emperor, and points systems.
Spoiler alert: this one doesn’t end well.
Let’s dive right in.
IT STARTS BADLY
-We had two first round (i.e. – games that use the points system and award packs and promos) last night at Worlds Apart, and neither one played out particularly well.
The pod I was in was a five-player pod. There were several noted regulars (all of whom are readers – or writers – here at GDC), and another local player who shows up from time to time for EDH, but is more of a competitive constructed format player. He was playing a straight Merieke Ri Berit control deck.
I played my Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius deck, and learned a valuable lesson in the process – the words “Niv” and “Mizzet” apparently scare the hell out of everyone even if the creature in question doesn’t combo with Curiosity. I drew a large amount of early hate (someone even commented, “Attack the Niv-Mizzet player” when I was tapped out with an empty board and at eighteen life, thanks to my apparent attempt to kill myself off with my own Mana Crypt), and ended up sitting back for a good portion of the rest of the game.
Anyway, after Merieke countered my blind Epic Experiment, I tried to rebuild with Fact or Fiction, notably leaving Time Warp in the yard. The following turn, Merieke played Chancellor of the Spires, and then kicked a Rite of Replication on the Chancellor. One of the other players had Noxious Revival in his yard, and Merieke essentially told us he was going infinite. We all scooped up our cards.
The other table saw a Primal Surge player play the whole deck and kill the table.
Now, I understand that the Merieke player did what he should have done with the board state that he had. However, he also began to disseminate the points list to argue how he should be netting points instead of losing them to our “don’t combo-kill people” and “don’t link extra turns” point deductions.
End result – Merieke takes home first place and the extra pack. It contained a foil Falkenrath Aristocrat.
Second place – Primal Surge.
Third through ninth – Disgruntled players and low spirits.
I’m honestly not sure what went wrong, but it felt like a breakdown in our system on a lot of levels. I’m still trying to process it.
IT GETS WORSE
We decided that we’d try to lighten the mood by playing a few Emperor games. This was my first foray into the sub-format, so I was excited to give it a try. I was seated with Patrick (our emperor) and Tanner, and chose my mono-white angels remix. On the other side of the table were Santo (the opposing emperor), with Andrew and Shawn.
Game one was a blowout. I kept a hand with Scroll Rack and Sol Ring, but no white sources to get my Tithe going. However, I ripped the Plains on the first turn and ended up curving Angel of Jubilation into Linvala, Keeper of Silence into an early Avacyn, Angel of Hope, courtesy of my Sol Ring and Tanner’s Unbender Tine. Patrick had the mass removal to clear the board, Tanner had the counterspells to prevent any opposing removal, and the turn that I added Akroma, Angel of Wrath and Honor of the Pure to the deck and killed Shawn (who was playing Doran, the Siege Tower and was thus not able to attack into me without losing his team in the process, while also being unable to prevent my vigilant creature counter-attacks each turn), Patrick had the Time Warp to let me untap and swing at Santo for a whole bunch, which elicited a scoop.
Game two started slowly. Things felt much more balanced; Shawn had me on the ropes early, and I found myself playing defense with Mystifying Maze while being slowly whittled down in life from a multi-treefolk onslaught. Andrew was able to set up shop with Ulasht, the Hate Seed, and Santo was slowly amassing an army of tokens and life with his mono-white tokens/Soul Warden combo.
Meanwhile, Tanner landed Jace, Architect of Thought, and Patrick played the Liliana Vess he had in his opener. Both stuck around for most of the game, and before long, Patrick had managed to add Rings of Brighthearth and had tutored about five times and forced the other team to discard about eight cards.
Before long, the tides had turned. Andrew was stuck on a single red source, and board wipes and discard had Shawn stuck in topdeck mode with no threats on the battlefield. Patrick had passed me a Necropolis Regent, and each attack saw my angels growing exponentially in size.
Then, Andrew’s timely Chain Reaction was countered by Tanner, and Patrick again gave me an extra turn with Time Warp. It was back to our team versus Santo.
Santo’s active Darien, King of Kjeldor and Soul Warden were preventing me from getting damage to stick, and he had amassed over 200 life. However, my angels were growing (My Aegis Angel alone was sitting with 176 +1/+1 counters), and Tanner’s Stormtide Leviathan prevented a counter-attack.
And from out of nowhere, the game just ended. Tanner found a clone effect to get rid of Darien, and before I knew what happened, he had followed it up with some effect that destroyed all tokens Santo controlled. That was it. Santo scooped.
The end result – We permanently broke Shawn’s desire to ever play Emperor again. Santo, having just experienced three of the worst games of Magic from his perspective ever and having surpassed his patience threshold, left promptly and (rightfully) angrily without a word.
What a great night.
I’m trying not to read too heavily into anything here. Sometimes, things just go wrong. Sometimes combo happens, even when you’ve done what you can to prevent it. Sometimes the bounds of what is and isn’t legal are stretched to just within the breaking point, and it doesn’t feel any differently than if it had just snapped to begin with.
Sometimes, you don’t get the right draws. Sometimes you don’t get the right matchup.
Sometimes you do, and it doesn’t matter anyway.
Patrick said it best when he noted that the best possible outcome for an evening of EDH is when things go reasonably well from everyone involved. I agree with that. Last night, things went very well for a minority and not so well for everyone else. I guess that happens.
I wish there was a lesson here; some kind of reasonable takeaway that we could learn from as a local group, or as players in general.
I guess sometimes, there just isn’t. Sometimes, you just have to settle for next time being better.