Journal of the Texas Guildmages: Oath of the Gatewatch Booster Draft

Written by Jeff Zandi on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Limited, Magic Culture

Journal of the Texas Guildmages:  Oath of the Gatewatch Booster Draft

Jeff Zandi

Jeff Zandi is a level 2 judge and an eight-time veteran of the Pro Tour. He has written continuously about Magic for over eighteen years. His team, the Texas Guildmages, have the longest running regular game in history, meeting at his home every Tuesday night since 1996.

Nine players showed up tonight for the 942nd weekly meeting of the Texas Guildmages. It might make sense to some people to ask a player to sit out so that the draft could contain the “magic” number of eight. We would never do that. The Dallas/Fort Worth area is vast and guys show up from as far as an hour away. Since we play Swiss rounds with our drafts instead of single elimination, playing with nine is not really a problem. There is an issue, however, with nine players. The proper number of rounds that you should play with nine players before cutting to a final four is four. Three rounds are  sufficient for eight players but with nine players you should play a fourth round. Otherwise you usually end up with one player with a 2-1 record who doesn’t make the cut to the final four. Over time, however, we’ve decided that we would rather play three rounds and risk the fifth-best performance getting knocked out of the playoffs rather than make everyone play an extra round. As a small remedy, we give any player that finishes X-1 in the draft but who does not reach the final four first pick from the rares, mythic rares and foils from the draft at the end of the draft. There’s one small catch, these prize cards are face down and have been gently shuffled around on the table before the disenfranchised player chooses his card. Sometimes the guy gets a twenty-five cent rare. Other times he pulls a twenty dollar planeswalker. It’s a funny hang-up that we have with nine players. Even when I used to put the issue up to a vote we just never chose to play four Swiss rounds even though we automatically play four rounds when we have a tenth or eleventh player. Eleven is the most we will run a Swiss draft with. When the twelfth players shows up we break into two six-man team drafts.

Tonight’s Winning Decks

This is Mark’s third winning draft deck of the year (on Tuesday nights). Unlike myself, Mark is finding success in all the Oath of the Gatewatch draft archetypes, although this one doesn’t fit snuggly in any particular category. There are a lot of Allies in the deck but not a lot of Ally tricks, just card advantage and +1/+1 counters. Don’t let the splash for two green cards and one blue card fool you, this is a straight-forward white and black deck. Mark has been a fan of Stone Haven Medic for quite a while now. Even in more defensive blue/white Battle for Zendikar draft decks Mark was often taking this card over the common 0/6 wall. The Medic combos perfectly in this deck with Serene Steward, but both of these cards would be fine in this deck without the other, they’re just good curve creatures. These, along with Makindi Aeronaut and Slaughter Drone, represent the two-drop creatures. Mark has five three-drops that he can play reliably on turn three. Reflector Mage, like the other two splashed creatures, is not really intended for the early game.

Kor Sky Climber and Kor Scythemaster are both intended for attacking. With first strike when attacking, Scythemaster is a fine card as long as your plan is to turn him sideways. Kor Sky Climber is the same way, you don’t block with him if you can possibly help it. Both of these (he has two of each) get better with help from Mark’s two copies of Shoulder to Shoulder.

After the draft was over, but before play started, I heard Mark talking about getting Allied Reinforcements with a late pick. I didn’t realize, at the time, that Mark had three copies of this card. Obviously you would love to have Allied Reinforcements in a deck with some Ally rally triggers. Mark has one such trigger in Makindi Patrol, for whatever it’s worth.

Sometimes you just need to kill something. Mark has Gideon’s Reproach for early game removal, it’s a very good removal card for an aggressive deck. With it, Mark can attack in with whatever creatures he wants. If an opponent wants to risk blocking with a bigger creature Mark can take it down with Reproach or at least create a situation where his smaller attacker will trade with a big blocker. Of course, Gideon’s Reproach can allow the first-striking Kor Scythemaster to win against a blocker with up to a seven toughness. Not bad at all. Because Mark keeps attacking with his Scythemasters all the time, Lithomancer’s Focus becomes a removal-like combat trick since opponents can’t expect that Mark necessarily needs a combat trick. The real removal pieces are much less situational. Oblivion Strike straight up exiles the target creature you need to get rid of. The same can be said for Isolation Zone.

Now let’s talk about the fun part of the deck, the three splashed cards. Reflector Mage is a bounce spell effect with a difference. Your opponent can’t replay the creature to bounce on their next turn. Reflector Mage is causing a stir in Standard so, yeah, it’s pretty good in booster draft. Baloth Null is card advantage, pure and simple. Since Mark’s creatures want to attack they often end up, well, dead. Baloth Null gives Mark the opportunity to put two dead creatures back in his hand from the graveyard. Birthing Hulk is a win condition. You can tap out to play him and, because he comes with two Eldrazi Scion tokens, you still have the ability to regenerate him even before your next untap. Not one of these cards is in and of themselves a good enough reason to splash a third (and fourth) color. The reason why the splash works in this deck is because of two factors. First of all, mana bases in Oath of the Gatewatch Limited are very flexible. Meandering River is a fairly painless way to add blue to the deck. Crumbling Vestige and Unknown Shores provide two more ways to make blue (or green) mana. Better yet, Mark has two copies of Painful Truths. This card does not require you to go crazy and play three colors. It’s completely fine for a black card to cost three mana and to make you lose life in order to draw cards. However, as soon as you start drawing three cards from Painful Truths it becomes a very powerful card (and, like Reflector Mage, Standard-worthy). Between the Reflector Mage, the Baloth Null, the Birthing Hulk and the two copies of Painful Truths, the gamble of including four nonbasic lands and a Forest really pay off for Mark. He would have played Crumbling Vestige and Unknown Shores for the Slaughter Drone in any case.

This deck isn’t as aggressive as Mark’s most aggressive Oath draft decks and definitely nothing like his recent control decks. This deck proves that Mark really does have the skills to go in any direction with a draft and be successful.

I’m not killing this format yet. However, I’m not as lost as I used to be. Just before Oath of the Gatewatch arrived, I was starting to get the hang of drafting the control deck, either blue/white or blue/black. In both decks I was drafting a lot of ingest creatures. Of course, the ingest plan just doesn’t work with two packs of Oath and just one of Battle. While the ingest plan is a thing of the past, a lot of what I learned about blue/white and blue/black control remains useful. This is how I finally broke through in this draft format and won the top eight draft of a Sealed Deck PPTQ three weeks ago. You get yourself some flyers, you get yourself some early game defense and make sure you have some removal. When Oath of the Gatewatch took away ingest it replaced it in my draft decks with colorless (specifically colorless) creatures and effects. These creatures and abilities are a little undercosted for their value. It feels very much like Wizards of the Coast wants us to like this concept of “true colorless.” I was already used to keeping my Battle for Zendikar draft decks tight and two-colored. Today, I like to draft two colors and use colorless as my third color splash.

Enter Blinding Drone. Two mana for a 1/3 dude that blocks early and then starts tapping down dangerous attackers once you have a little extra mana lying around (colorless mana). It was love at first glance when I discovered this card at the Oath of the Gatewatch prerelease. I have a few other cards in my deck tonight that I’m pretty much always playing these days. Seer’s Lantern is both a colorless mana source and mana acceleration and a way to improve my future draws. It’s not a great card for fast decks, but I’m not drafting fast decks at the current time. Negate is also very important to me these days. Plenty of pro players have said they like a single piece of counter magic in their draft decks. I’ve heard from a lot of people in the know recently, but the concept was drilled into my brain long ago by one of the game’s great Limited players, Neil Reeves. A counterspell is more valuable in some Limited formats than others. I think it’s very valuable in Oath of the Gatewatch draft because the power of the creatures necessitates that every deck commit to removal spells. Stopping a single removal spell can win the game for you. Negate is perfect in this regard because it costs only two mana (and is therefore easy to disguise) and because it counters any non-creature spell. You never have to take Negate early in a draft and you don’t really want two of them. It’s an easy spell to pick up late and the card can make a big difference in the game.

My draft started tonight with pack one pick one Kozilek, the Great Distortion. A few weeks ago I would have been completely happy to pass up a ten-casting-cost monster that requires two colorless mana to play. Then I played Kozilek in a Sealed Deck event and just loved it. The large casting cost is a problem, no doubt about it, but the payoff is quite large when you can make it happen. Getting way with playing a ten-drop in Sealed Deck is one thing, in Booster Draft it’s quite another. Last week we had enough players to run two Swiss drafts at the same time, one upstairs and one downstairs. I was in the upstairs draft and won with another blue/white deck with Negate and some Blinding Drones and, oh yeah, a red splash for Dragonmaster Outcast. Meanwhile, Scot Martin shocked the crowd downstairs with his well-crafted black/white deck featuring… Kozilek, the Great Distortion. His deck last week was extremely well-designed to get the big guy onto the battlefield. He had two Seer’s Lantern, a Hedron Crawler, and two Kozilek’s Translator. I think Scot’s black and white Kozilek deck might be the best draft deck of the month. The deck inspired me this week to go ahead and take a chance on pick one pack one Kozilek.

I want to say something about Kozilek that you just wouldn’t know unless you have played him or seen him arrive on the battlefield across the table from you. Sure, his 12/12 body is menacing. Actually menacing. He has menace is what I’m trying to say. Yes, it’s amazing that you refill your hand when you play Kozilek. I’ve never drawn fewer than five cards when Kozilek hit the table and I’ve drawn seven cards several times. It’s the other ability that is so shocking, the ability to discard a card from your hand to counter any target spell your opponent plays with the same converted mana cost. When you refill your hand with Kozilek, you quickly sort the nonland cards in your hand by mana cost so that you know at a glance what spells you can counter on your opponent’s next turn. What spells are most likely to remove Kozilek? Four-casting-cost spells like Isolation Zone and Oblivion Strike. How many spells cost that much in my deck? Six of them. There’s a pretty good chance one of my four-drops is in my hand after I play Kozilek. There’s a good chance I can counter, with no untapped mana at all, whatever removal spell my opponent tries to point at Kozilek.

In order to stay alive as long as possible so that I could play a ten-casting-cost win condition I placed more value on Containment Membrane that I normally would. The fact is, I didn’t get much removal in the first two packs, a worry to be sure. I did get mana accelerators, if you want to call them that. The only thing my deck is really accelerating mana towards is the big guy. Still, I picked up two Cultivator Drones to go with my Seer’s Lantern, then I got a Warden of Geometries. It was hard to see a winner in my pool after the first two booster packs. Battle for Zendikar saved my draft, something you don’t hear people say very often these days. I recorded the order that I drafted all my cards. Check out how the deck came together.

PACK ONE

Kozilek, the Great Distortion – if you take it, be prepared to build your draft around it
Mindmelter – interesting choice to go two colors this early
Holdout Settlement – if you wait to pick up colorless lands you can end up with none of them
Blinding Drone
Cultivator Drone – good early creature, good for Kozilek as well
Cultivator Drone
Blinding Drone
Remorseless Punishment – not as good as some people think, it doesn’t always make the cut
Warden of Geometries
Wastes – I’m hoping to find Evolving Wilds in the Battle booster
Crumbling Vestige
Slaughter Drone – a rather useful late pick
Kozilek’s Pathfinder – good with even just one or two colorless activations
Strider Harness

PACK TWO

Vampire Envoy – just a defensive presence in this deck
Containment Membrane – defense!
Seer’s Lantern
Blinding Drone – took all three of my Blinding Drones fairly early
Containment Membrane
Sea Gate Wreckage – the opposite of Library of Alexandria, this card is subtle and powerful
Jwar Isle Avenger
Wastes
Grip of the Roil – didn’t make the cut, decent combat trick
Witness the End – could easily make the cut in a slow control deck like this
Bone Saw
Negate – there she is, at the end of pack two, right on time
Kazuul’s Toll Collector
Mighty Leap – good combat trick with the fourteenth pick, nice

PACK THREE

Dampening Pulse – seems easy to cut, I’ve grown to appreciate this card a great deal
Ruinous Path – much-needed hard removal
Rising Miasma – giving all the creatures -2/-2 is useful fairly often in this format
Scour from Existence – might be completely playable in this deck
Ulamog’s Nullifier – could randomly counter something, probably just a 2/3 flyer
Makakir Familiar – block that big monster and trade
Coastal Discovery – be ready to play it for 3U and don’t fall in love with awaken
Sludge Crawler – Nullifier might make it worthwhile to play a little ingest
Cloud Manta
Hagra Sharpshooter – often makes the cut
Stone Haven Medic
Mist Intruder – didn’t think I would play it, glad I did
Grave Birthing – better than I used to think, it’s still a twenty-third card at best
Brilliant Spectrum

This deck was not an amazing success. The truth is, Kozilek landed only one time in four matches, the problem was getting to ten mana. The deck worked well for reasons that had nothing to do with having the big ten-mana finisher. I even sided out Kozilek a few times. The only match I lost tonight was against another control deck, one played by Jon Toone.

The Matchup

This is a classic example of fast deck versus slow deck. Mark plays creatures and attacks while my deck tries to hold its ground and then win with flyers in the late game and hope for Kozilek. Before playing and recording the play-by-play for the match depicted at the end of this article I played ten other practice games between these two decks. My Blinding Drones roll out consistently game after game. I consistently have colorless mana to activate one Blinding Drone but often have the second Drone in play before I have the second colorless mana in play. It’s kind of funny that Blinding Drone and Cultivator Drone arrive right after each other on turns two and three. On turn four, if I activate Cultivator Drone to activate Blinding Drone I’m moving both of my creatures out of the way in order to move one creature from Mark’s side out of the way. Not amazing. Meanwhile, Mark’s two-drops and three-drops arrive very consistently because the fast part of his deck is easy to cast in his primarily white and black deck.

It’s an over-simplification but it’s true often enough to mention, Mark’s deck wins most of the games of eight or less turns and loses most of the games that take at least ten turns. Mark’s deck delivers card advantage plays with Allied Reinforcements and Painful Truths but doesn’t have enough ways to kill creatures. It’s annoying for Mark’s deck that he so badly needs to kill a creature no more dangerous to his own life points than Blinding Drone. His two copies of Shoulder to Shoulder and his combat tricks are extremely important in the games that Mark’s deck wins in this matchup. In a total of thirteen games, I have yet to get Kozilek in play. Mark’s deck isn’t the fastest Oath draft deck by any means but it applies enough pressure to keep games short. On the other hand, my deck can win a little faster than I thought because Blinding Drone keeps the skies open for Cloud Manta and Jwar Isle Avenger. Even Mist Intruder was a problem for Mark in this matchup. Bottom line, though, Mark’s deck and its consistently aggressive draws won most of the thirteen games I played between the decks. Advantage Mark.

Oath of the Gatewatch Booster Draft History

Tonight was our fifth Swiss draft since Oath of the Gatewatch arrived. Here are the winning deck types and the key cards.

Blue/White Flyers – Scot Martin – January 19

3 Blinding Drone
2 Containment Membrane
Eldrazi Displacer

Green/Black Token Overrun – Aaron Tobey – January 19

Oblivion Strike
Tajuru Warcaller (it’s hard to go for this deck not knowing if you will get a Warcaller in pack 3)

Green/White Allies – Aaron Tobey – February 2 (with 12 Allies)

2 Isolation Zone
Oath of Gideon
Retreat to Emeria
Tajuru Beastmaster
Relief Captain
Nissa’s Judgment
2 Spawnbinder Mage

Green/Black Tokens – Mark Hendrickson – February 2

2 Eyeless Watcher
Null Caller
Nissa, Voice of Zendikar
Baloth Null
Nissa’s Judgment

Blue/White Flyers – Jeff Zandi – February 9

[card]Negate
2 Searing Light
Relief Captain
Gravity Negator
Cyclone Sire
2 Blinding Drone
Dragonmaster Outcast (the only red card in the deck)

Green/White Allies – Maitland Griffith – February 9

2 Scion Summoner
Isolation Zone
Thought-Knot Seer
Shoulder to Shoulder
Stasis Snare
General Tazri
Seed Guardian
Make a Stand
2 Expedition Raptor

Black/White Ally Ramp – Scot Martin – February 9

2 Seer’s Lantern
Isolation Zone
Drana’s Emissary
Zulaport Chainmage
Kozilek, the Great Distortion
2 Kozilek’s Translator
Oblivion Strike

Red/Blue Surge – Brian Heine – February 9

Ruin Processor
Cyclone Sire
Jori En, Ruin Diver
Blighted Cataract
Wandering Fumarole
Pyromancer’s Assault
3 Containment Membrane

Black/White Allies – Mark Hendrickson – February 16

(contents listed earlier in article)

Blue/Black Eldrazi – Jeff Zandi – February 16

(contents listed earlier in article)

Do you notice what you don’t see winning any of our Oath drafts so far? Zero all-out aggro decks, Eldrazi or otherwise. But try to tell that to my sixteen-year-old. He’s been running red/black aggro almost every week. He has a winning record with the archetype but keeps being eliminated in the final four each week this year. Aggro can win in this format, but it’s an underdog.

Roll Call

 

Patrick Lynch is the first to arrive tonight. He’s here for the fourth straight week. As a matter of fact, he’s been enjoying quite a prosperous return to the game of Magic. Patrick played from the first arrival of the game over twenty-two years ago. He competed in Pro Tour Qualifiers for years before career, wife and baby caused him to turn his attention to real life. He’s been playing again consistently for almost three years. He is traveling to Grand Prix Houston in a week with me and Lawson.

Mark Hendrickson arrives next. He and Lynch have been friends a long time and they get together socially outside of Magic. Mark has the longest Pro Tour career of any of the current team. He didn’t go to the first Pro Tour event twenty years ago this month, but jumped right in starting with the second PT two months later in Los Angeles. He went on to make money in multiple Pro Tour events over the next several years. Mark has actually never burned out on the game and has managed, even to this day, to reach the Pro Tour every couple of years. He played in one last year. He has the most Guildmage meeting appearances (of anyone not living in my house) with 432.

Cesar Collazo only started playing competitive Magic a few years ago. His day job, which takes place almost exclusively at night, makes him unavailable on a lot of weekends. Even so, he has become a very good Constructed player. He plays here on Tuesdays in order to work on his Limited game. He has consistently improved since he started playing here two years ago.

Blake Bombich played in a lot of PTQs back in the day when he was in high school. He was pretty good, too, for a kid with no budget for Magic cards. Thanks to Mark Hendrickson, who he and his wife know from outside the game, Blake relit his competitive flame two years ago. Mostly, he likes crushing people in booster drafts on Magic Online and in the Guildhall on Tuesday nights.

Ira Wile goes way back. He was working at Games Galore back in the opening days of the Pro Tour twenty years ago when the store started sponsoring the Texas Guildmages. He decided to start his own team. He launched Team Reaper, a team of up-and-comers for which he secured a sweet sponsorship deal from Reaper Miniatures. After a few years, their best player, Bil Payne, became one of our best players when he became a Texas Guildmage. I don’t know all the skills listed on Ira Wile’s character sheet, but I can tell you that he’s a musician and a raconteur and about the only day job that he can abide is working in a game store. He has gone back and forth between here and West Virginia but has recently returned to his Texas home to, you guessed it, work in a game store. He has returned to a job he had years ago, working at the biggest and best game store in the state, Madness Games and Comics in Plano. I would never want to pigeonhole Ira Wile, but I can tell you that he loves hard rock, Firefly and Whataburger.

Brian Heine graduated from college fairly recently but thanks to conditions in the market, he has not yet found his roost on a professional level. I first got to know Brian when Hunter Burton started bringing him around. Hunter was a roommate of Brian’s in Denton for a short period of time while Brian was attending the University of North Texas.

Tuan Doan played Division I soccer at the University of West Virginia. Today Tuan works for Fidelity Investments during the day while he continues to chase his soccer dreams at night and on weekends. Somewhere in there, Tuan has found the time to become a pretty sharp Magic player. Even though he’s young and hot and a great catch all around, Tuan is also serially monogamous and has gotten fairly serious about an age-appropriate and attractive young lady that shares his sporting passion.

Me and Lawson are here every week, obviously. Actually, while it’s obvious (at least to me) that I’ll always be here to open the gym and roll the balls out every week, there’s nothing obvious about Lawson Zandi’s participation. My one and only child, Lawson Zandi was born on Tuesday, March 2, 1999. He had the good manners to be born in the middle of the afternoon. After spending time in the delivery room with Lawson and his saintly mother, I dashed home a few hours later to conduct Guildmage meeting #111 where Messrs. Zandi, Stoltzfus, Stroud, Bass, Lavelle, Duncan, Duncan and Payne met to draft Urza’s Legacy. In other words, Magic has been in Lawson’s blood since literally the start. Although he started playing Magic when he was six years old and was always hanging around the Guildhall, he didn’t get to start playing with the gang in booster drafts until meeting #600 where he finished ninth out of thirty-two players. Since then, Lawson has matured in the game and has become accomplished at Constructed and Limited. He wins more Tuesday night drafts these days than anyone other than Mark Hendrickson. Lawson finished twelfth at Grand Prix San Antonio in 2014 where he beat Brian Kibler in a feature match. While Lawson has had some advantages due to the fact that a bunch of good players pile into his house to practice every week. On the other hand, it would have been easy for Lawson to simply not be interested in competitive Magic. I never took it for granted that he would become a serious player. I’m thrilled that he has. His next stop is the Pro Tour. The only real obstacle is his college career. Lawson is a junior at New Tech High in Coppell and is trying hard to get into Texas A&M University.

There were still six of us hanging around after the Swiss draft. We randomly divided ourselves into two teams and drafted. It took all nine matches to decide it, but the team of Mark, Brian and Tuan won 5-4 over me, Lawson and Cesar. Cesar had a foil Nissa in his deck and was up a game in that final match. In game three, after mulliganing to six cards, Lawson and I convinced Cesar to keep a one-land hand on the play with Hedron Crawler in hand. Even after scrying one non-land to the bottom of his deck, Cesar didn’t get any land for a couple of turns and was quickly crushed in what was Tuan Doan’s only match win over the draft. Tough but fair!

The last thing I want to mention this week is the upcoming Hunter Burton Memorial Magic Open. This event benefits the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and honors the memory of one of Texas’s best Magic players, Hunter Burton. The tournament is becoming quite a Texas Magic tradition, but I think the prizes, as well as the charity, should make the event interesting to players outside of Texas as well. It’s a Star City Games Super IQ awarding $8500 in cash prizes. Winners don’t go home with a check, they go home with cashy money in their pockets. I believe we are expecting something around 200 players. Considering the prizes, I think the expected value is too good to pass up. The event is being held at the Arlington Convention Center in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday, March 26. The cost is $30. The format for the Swiss rounds is Standard, the top eight will compete in a Modern Masters 2015 booster draft. You can find out more about this special annual event on our Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/HunterBurtonMemorial/

Thanks for reading.

Texas Guildmage meeting #942, Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Roll Call (in order of arrival)

Jeff Zandi, Guildmage #7.
Lawson Zandi, junior Guildmage, 33rd meeting in a row, 328th lifetime.
Patrick Lynch, guest, 4th meeting in a row, 135th lifetime.
Mark Hendrickson, Guildmage #26, 5th meeting in a row, 432nd lifetime.
Cesar Collazo, guest, 4th meeting in a row, 71st lifetime.
Blake Bombich, guest, 7th meeting in a row, 68th lifetime.
Ira Wile, guest, 1st meeting in a row, 16th lifetime.
Brian Heine, Guildmage #35, 2nd meeting in a row, 133rd lifetime.
Tuan Doan, guest, 1st meeting in a row, 71st lifetime.

Meeting ran from 6:30 pm to 1:33 am

Here’s the play-by-play of a match played between the two finalists’ decks. In this match I play both decks. I assure you there is no favoritism for either deck. I’m an only child and grew up playing board games by myself, operating all of the players myself without caring which one ended up the winner. I’ve always been able to do this. The goal of this exercise is not to test the skill of the play (I’m driving both decks) but only to test the quality of the cards in the decks and the consistency of the decks. I played seven practice games between these two decks before playing the games detailed below.

GAME ONE

T1 Mark keeps two Plains, Meandering River, Unknown Shores, Lithomancer’s Focus, Shoulder to Shoulder and Kor Sky Climber. Plays Meandering River.

T1 Zanman keeps Island, Swamp, Crumbling Vestige, Blinding Drone, Sludge Crawler and two copies of Containment Membrane. Draws Kozilek, the Great Distortion, plays Swamp, plays Sludge Crawler.

T2 Mark draws Painful Truths, plays Plains.

T2 Zanman draws Holdout Settlement, plays Island, attacks with Sludge Crawler (19-20), Crawler triggers exiling Kor Sky Climber from the top of Mark’s library, plays Blinding Drone.

T3 Mark draws Baloth Null, plays Unknown Shores, plays Kor Sky Climber.

T3 Zanman draws Island, plays Holdout Settlement, activates Drone tapping Kor Sky Climber, attacks with Sludge Crawler, pumps Crawler one time (17-20), Crawler triggers exiling Birthing Hulk from the top of Mark’s library.

T4 Mark draws and plays Slaughter Drone, plays Plains, attacks with Kor Sky Climber (17-17).

T4 Zanman draws Rising Miasma, attacks with Sludge Crawler blocked by Slaughter Drone, Zanman pumps Crawler one time, Mark plays Lithomancer’s Focus targeting Slaughter Drone, Zanman plays Crumbling Vestige putting a blue mana into his mana pool.

T5 Mark draws and plays Forest, declares attack, Zanman activates Blinding Drone tapping Kor Sky Climber, Mark attacks with Slaughter Drone (17-15), plays Painful Truths paying three different colors of mana (14-15) drawing two Plains and a Swamp.

T5 Zanman draws Cloud Manta, plays Island, plays Rising Miasma.

T6 Mark draws and plays Swamp, plays Baloth Null returning Kor Sky Climber and Slaughter Drone to his hand from the graveyard, at end of turn Zanman activates Drone tapping Baloth Null.

T6 Zanman draws Ruinous Path, plays Cloud Manta, plays Containment Membrane enchanting Baloth Null, attacks with Blinding Drone (13-15).

T7 Mark draws Shoulder to Shoulder, plays Plains, plays Kor Sky Climber, plays Slaughter Drone.

T7 Zanman draws and plays Swamp, attacks with Cloud Manta (10-15).

T8 Mark draws and plays Makindi Aeronaut, plays Shoulder to Shoulder putting a +1/+1 counter on Makindi Aeronaut and Kor Sky Climber, Mark draws Meandering River, declares attack, Zanman activates Drone tapping Kor Sky Climber, Mark attacks with Slaughter Drone (10-13).

T8 Zanman draws and plays Dampening Pulse, activates Blinding Drone tapping Makindi Aeronaut, plays Containment Membrane enchanting Kor Sky Climber, attacks with Cloud Manta (7-13).

T9 Mark draws Plains, plays Shoulder to Shoulder putting a +1/+1 counter on Makindi Aeronaut and Slaughter Drone, Mark draws Plains, plays Meandering River, attacks with Aeronaut and Slaughter Drone (7-9).

T9 Zanman draws and plays Swamp, attacks with Cloud Manta and Blinding Drone (3-9), plays Ruinous Path for its awaken cost targeting Makindi Aeronaut and a tapped Swamp putting three +1/+1 counters on the tapped Swamp turning it into an Elemental creature that is still a land.

T10 Mark draws and plays Stone Haven Medic.

T10 Zanman draws Ulamog’s Nullifier, attacks with Cloud Manta (0-9).

JEFF ZANDI WINS GAME ONE ON TURN 10, LEADS MATCH 1-0

GAME TWO

T1 Mark keeps Plains, Forest, Crumbling Vestige, Makindi Aeronaut, Makindi Patrol, Birthing Hulk and Gideon’s Reproach. Plays Plains.

T1 Zanman mulligans and gets rid of an opening hand of Swamp, Coastal Discovery, Cultivator Drone, Mindmelter, Ruinous Path, Cloud Manta and Kozilek, the Great Distortion. Keeps three Swamps, Island, Sea Gate Wreckage and Ruinous Path. Scrys for one putting Mist Intruder on top of his library. Draws Mist Intruder, plays Island.

T2 Mark draws Allied Reinforcements, plays Forest, plays Makindi Aeronaut.

T2 Zanman draws Cultivator Drone, plays Swamp, plays Mist Intruder.

T3 Mark draws Stone Haven Medic, plays Crumbling Vestige putting a white mana into his mana pool, plays Makindi Patrol.

T3 Zanman draws Ulamog’s Nullifier, plays Swamp, plays Ruinous Path targeting Makindi Aeronaut, attacks with Mist Intruder (19-20), Intruder triggers exiling Slaughter Drone from the top of Mark’s library.

T4 Mark draws Shoulder to Shoulder, attacks with Patrol (19-18), plays Stone Haven Medic.

T4 Zanman draws Mindmelter, plays Swamp, attacks with Intruder (18-18), Intruder triggers exiling Isolation Zone from the top of Mark’s library, plays Cultivator Drone.

T5 Mark draws and plays Plains, plays Allied Reinforcements putting two 2/2 white Knight Ally creature tokens onto the battlefield, Makindi Patrol triggers, attacks with Patrol and Medic, Drone blocks Patrol (18-17).

T5 Zanman draws and plays Island, attacks with Intruder (17-17), Intruder triggers exiling Plains from the top of Mark’s library, plays Mindmelter.

T6 Mark draws and plays Swamp, plays Shoulder to Shoulder putting a +1/+1 counter on Makindi Patrol and one of the Knight Ally tokens, Mark draws Shoulder to Shoulder, attacks with Patrol and the 3/3 Knight Ally, Patrol blocked by Cultivator Drone and Mindmelter, Mark plays Gideon’s Reproach targeting Cultivator Drone, combat damage happens (17-14).

T6 Zanman draws and plays Wastes, at end of turn Mark activates Stone Haven Medic (18-14).

T7 Mark draws Painful Truths, plays Shoulder to Shoulder targeting Makindi Patrol and the 2/2 Knight Ally token, Zanman responds playing Ulamog’s Nullifier putting Plains and Isolation Zone into Mark’s graveyard from exile targeting and countering Shoulder to Shoulder, attacks with Patrol (18-11).

T7 Zanman draws and plays Swamp, at end of turn Mark activates Medic (19-11).

T8 Mark draws and plays Swamp, plays Painful Truths using three different colors of mana (16-11) drawing Plains and Meandering River and Serene Steward, plays Serene Steward, attacks with Patrol (16-8).

T8 Zanman draws and plays Seer’s Lantern, plays Sea Gate Wreckage.

T9 Mark draws and plays Plains, plays Birthing Hulk putting two 1/1 colorless Eldrazi Scion creature tokens onto the battlefield, at end of turn Zanman activates Sea Gate Wreckage drawing Blinding Drone.

T9 Zanman draws and plays Slaughter Drone, plays Blinding Drone.

T10 Mark draws Allied Reinforcements, plays Meandering River, attacks with Birthing Hulk blocked by Mist Intruder, plays Allied Reinforcements putting two 2/2 white Knight Ally creature tokens onto the battlefield, at end of turn Zanman activates Sea Gate Wreckage drawing Swamp.

T10 Zanman draws and plays Crumbling Vestige putting a red mana into his mana pool, at end of turn Mark activates Medic (17-8), Serene Steward triggers and Mark pays one white putting a +1/+1 counter on Birthing Hulk.

T11 Mark draws Baloth Null, declares attack, Zanman activates Blinding Drone tapping Birthing Hulk, attacks with Makindi Patrol and four Knight Ally tokens, Slaughter Drone blocks Makindi Patrol, Nullifier blocks Knight Ally token, Mark activates Medic (18-8), Steward triggers and Mark pays one white mana to put a +1/+1 counter on an untapped Knight Ally token (18-0).

MARK HENDRICKSON WINS GAME TWO ON TURN 11, TIES MATCH 1-1

GAME THREE

T1 Zanman keeps two Islands, Sea Gate Wreckage, Ruinous Path, Containment Membrane, Cultivator Drone and Sludge Crawler. Plays Island.

T1 Mark keeps Swamp, Meandering River, Serene Steward, Isolation Zone, Painful Truths, Birthing Hulk and Shoulder to Shoulder. Draws Shoulder to Shoulder, plays Meandering River.

T2 Zanman draws Blinding Drone, plays Island, plays Blinding Drone.
T2 Mark draws Stone Haven Medic, plays Swamp, plays Stone Haven Medic.

T3 Zanman draws Jwar Isle Avenger, plays Sea Gate Wreckage, plays Cultivator Drone.

T3 Mark draws Baloth Null, plays Serene Steward.

T4 Zanman draws and plays Mist Intruder, plays Containment Membrane enchanting Stone Haven Medic, activates Blinding Drone tapping Stone Haven Medic.

T4 Mark draws and plays Plains, plays Painful Truths using three different colors of mana (17-20) drawing Swamp and Allied Reinforcements and Makindi Patrol, discards Shoulder to Shoulder, attacks with Steward (17-18).

T5 Zanman draws Negate, attacks with Mist Intruder and Cultivator Drone (14-18), Intruder triggers exiling Plains from the top of Mark’s library.

T5 Mark draws Meandering River, plays Swamp, plays Allied Reinforcements, Zanman responds playing Negate targeting and countering Allied Reinforcements, Zanman activates Blinding Drone tapping Serene Steward.

T6 Zanman draws and plays Blinding Drone, attacks with Intruder and Cultivator Drone (11-18), Intruder triggers exiling Swamp from the top of Mark’s library, plays Blinding Drone.

T6 Mark draws Swamp, plays Meandering River, plays Makindi Patrol, at end of turn Zanman activates Blinding Drone tapping Makindi Patrol.

T7 Zanman draws and plays Seer’s Lantern, attacks with Intruder and Cultivator Drone (8-18), Intruder triggers exiling Kor Sky Climber from the top of Mark’s library.

T7 Mark draws Kor Sky Climber, plays Swamp, plays Isolation Zone, Zone trigger when it enters the battlefield and Mark chooses to target and exile Blinding Drone, Zanman responds activating Blinding Drone tapping Makindi Patrol.

T8 Zanman draws and plays Island, attacks with Cultivator Drone and Intruder (5-18), Intruder triggers exiling Plains from the top of Mark’s library, plays Jwar Isle Avenger.

T8 Mark draws Kor Scythemaster, plays Kor Sky Climber, Makindi Patrol triggers, plays Shoulder to Shoulder putting a +1/+1 counter on Kor Sky Climber and on Makindi Patrol, Mark draws Reflector Mage, attacks with Makindi Patrol (5-15).

T9 Zanman draws Kozilek, the Great Distortion, activates Blinding Drone tapping Kor Sky Climber, attacks with Avenger and Intruder (1-15), Intruder triggers exiling Lithomancer’s Focus from the top of Mark’s library.

T9 Mark draws Kor Scythemaster, plays Reflector Mage bouncing Jwar Isle Avenger, at end of turn Zanman activates Seer’s Lantern scrying for one putting Blinding Drone on top of his library.

T10 Zanman draws and plays Blinding Drone, activates Blinding Drone tapping Kor Sky Climber, attacks with Mist Intruder (0-15).

JEFF ZANDI WINS GAME THREE ON TURN 10, WINS MATCH 2-1

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