Hey hey hey!
Last weekend was our approximately annual friendly competition with Milton Keynes. The tournament was 3 rounds of Standard followed by 3 rounds of Modern, then a cut to a top 8. The top 8 would be drafting Avacyn Restored and play knock out to win the trophy and a box of boosters for their team.
I haven't been playing much constructed recently (as per usual....), and I had no idea how Avacyn Restored had changed Standard. I was pretty sure it wouldn't have impacted Modern much anyway. I decided to take decks that I at least had a small amount of practice with. For Standard I took my fun Heartless Architect deck with which I'd won the last game day. For Modern I took an updated Melira Pod list, which I'd played a bit for the PTQs.
The day did not start out very well for me. I lost the first round of Standard to Delver, and the second round to UW Humans. Both of my opponents were MK players, so I was really letting the side down. Then I got the bye so I was disappointed I wouldn't be getting any turn 4 Wurmcoils today. I watched a couple of games that were going on, then I was invited by Nicolo to play "Momir". I hadn't played this format before but the premise was quite simple - you have a deck of basic lands, and every turn you may pay X mana and discard a card to play a random creature with converted mana cost X (they had a box of random creatures with matching sleeves for each mana cost). Silliness ensued when I randomly created Karona, False God who definitely sped up the game, and we had to look up some of the Oracle text for creature types of things in play.
The first Modern round was against one of my team's players, James' son Sean. I wasn't feeling great to be playing an infinite combo deck against such a young player, but when he cast Tidehollow Sculler and saw my hand he exclaimed "This is my Daddy's deck!" So he knew what I was up to, but his hand disruption did not prevent me from comboing off in game 1. In game 2 he ended up with 2 Grafdigger's Cages in play, but I used Putrefy on his creatures and won by attacking him. Up next was a break for a yummy roast dinner!
Round 5 was against a Tron variant piloted by Ash. He Firespouted my first wave of creatures away, but I had a Birthing Pod and a Chord of Calling so I reassembled the combo with Murderous Redcap to kill him just in time - he had just Summoning Trapped Emrakul into play! In game 2 I used Fulminator Mage to destroy a Tron piece and slow him down, Putrefied his Grafdigger's Cage then comboed again for the win. At this point team Oxford had Sera, Rob, Owen, James C and me all with a record of 3-2 and a chance of making the top 8. Unfortunately I got paired with Owen, which was bad news for Oxford.
Owen was playing Caw Blade. In the first game he had open mana but no counterspells and I comboed off. In game 2 he kept control of me and I died to a squad of hawks and a Vendillion Clique. I'd unfortunately boarded out my Orzhov Pontiff so I could not Birthing Pod into it to survive. In game 3 Owen tapped out for Geist of Saint Traft when I had a Viscera Seer, Noble Hierarch and a Murderous Redcap in play. I top decked my Birthing Pod and combo won again.
Sera won her game, as did James, but Rob had drawn. This meant I squeaked into the draft in 8th place, unfortunately putting Rob 9th. I knew team Oxford would be looking towards their "Limited Specialist" as James likes to call me. I wasn't feeling that confidant as I'd only drafted Avacyn Restored once so far, Matt Light was in the top 8 playing for MK and we were outnumbered 5 to 3. Still I was relaxed and I'd had a good day, so I was just going to try my best. In the meantime, everyone else not playing the finals had the chance to do a Cube draft courtesy of Mikey P.
My opening pack did not contain a good rare, but there were 2 removal spells to choose between. I took Pillar of Flame over Death Wind because I think red is a better colour than black in this set, it's cheaper and it can damage the opponent as well as creatures, although it has the drawback of not being an instant. I picked up a couple more red cards then noticed blue appeared to be open so I moved in. This is the deck I ended up with:
In the quarterfinals I got my revenge on Dimitri who had defeated me in round 1. His deck had removal for my 1-toughness guys in the form of Ghoulflesh, but his creatures were fairly expensive and I just kept bouncing them out of the way and hitting him. For the second game I boarded in Guise of Fire as I'd seen he had several 1-toughness fliers, including a Marrow Bats. I soon had him down to 8 life but then there were his Marrow Bats in the way. I cast Pillar of Flame on his Bats, and after some thinking he decided to regenerate them. I pointed out that this means they tap, a rule people often overlook, so he was now dead to my attack. In the other quarterfinals Sera and James had both been defeated, so now it was down to me to keep hold of the trophy.
In the semifinals I played against Matt. He'd drafted a blue green deck with soulbond creatures. He got off to a fairly slow start and I drew very nicely, getting in some early damage then bouncing blockers out of my way to finish him off. In game 2 he mulliganned and it wasn't really much of a game. Into the Void left a lonely Flowering Lumberknot that could not block my fatal alpha strike. Despite our games being quick, we were not the first to finish - James A had annihilated Kevin in a blindingly fast manner with Thatcher's Revolt and Goldnight Commander. The finals were going to be rough!
James did not manage to get me with his combo in the first game, as I was able to remove his Goldnight Commander with Pillar of Flame, do some blocking then eventually set up Nephalia Smuggler and Gryff Vanguard to draw lots of cards. At one point I only had 3 mana open and James tried to remove the Gryff Vanguard, but I had Ghostly Flicker to save it and draw yet another card, and I just buried him in card advantage.
For game 2 I boarded in Aggravate as a possible way to survive a big turn against Thatcher's Revolt, (plus he also had several other one toughness creatures that it would kill). He got his combo early, and I took 12 from angry red human tokens while chump blocking the Commander. I managed to remain on 1 life for several turns, stopping another revolt with Aggravate, but eventually James found a miraculous top deck in the form of Thunderous Wrath - 5 damage directed straight at me was not something I had an answer for. Game 3 began with a mulligan from James. His draw left him stuck on 3 mana, unable to cast his Goldnight Commander, and I had an aggressive draw which did not give him time to recover. I'd done it - once again, victory for Oxford!