For some bizarre reason there were no feature matches arranged for round 8, so us reporters had to go and grab two matches that hadn’t yet started. Walking along the top row of tables I came across Chris and Dan still shuffling up for their first game so I picked on these guys. Rising star Dan has qualified for two Pro Tours this year season, Houston and Yokohama. Chris was the final person to qualify for this year’s National Championships having won the very last of the Last Chance Qualifiers, which finished at 3.30am on day one. Both players were on 4-3 at the start of the round, and with 25-26 points being the expected threshold for top 8, the loser of this match is out of contention.
Chris wins the die roll and opens up with an Island. Dan drops a Swamp. The proceeding land drops hint that Chris is UB and Dan is BG. The first creature to hit the table is Chris’s Wretched Anurid on turn 2, followed by a Nantuko Husk on turn 3. Dan deploys a face up Spined Basher, but it is clearly no match for the opposing team. It is definitely no match for the Husk and the Anurid when a cycled Choking Tethers taps him down. The attacking continues, and Chris follows up with a Mistform Stalker.
Dan, still trying to gather some defences, drops a morph and leaves a Forest open. He now has two guys to block and could possibly be holding a Vitality Charm to regenerate his Basher as a combat trick. Chris, spotting this potential play, goes into a more cautious attack flying in with just the Mistform on it’s own. This continues for several turns whilst Dan’s ground defences improve with an Elvish Warrior, a morph and a 7/7 Stag Beetle.
On turn seven Dan starts to turn the game around by swinging with all his creatures bar morph #1. Chris chumps the Stag Beetle with his Wretched Anurid, Husk blocks the Elf, and the morph remains unblocked. Dan currently has seven mana untapped and is at three life. The morph turns out to be a Tribal Forcemage which means Chris takes three damage from the attack and loses the Husk, obviously not wanting to sacrifice his road to victory. Dan passes the turn with no further plays and four mana available, enough to unmorph a Sootfeather Flock. At a measly five land and one Mistform vs an army, Chris has little left to do than chance an attack with the Mistform Stalker. Chris asks Dan “Are you bluffing?” Then he nips in with the flying Mistform. Dan proceeds to prove that indeed he does have a Sootfeather Flock hidden away and Chris scoops.
Whilst sideboarding Dan boasts that he has won five consecutive drafts out of five so far during this year’s Gencon. Some unfounded maths will, according to him, allow him to auto-qualify for the Pro Tour if he goes 6-0 today. Could he have a bigger head?
The players seem a lot more at ease this game, having partly got used to their first feature match. Chris opens up with Mistform Stalker, and Dan takes his turn to play a Wretched Anurid. On turn three Chris taps three mana and Dan exclaims “Not the Husk!” This turns out to be a mysterious morph creature instead.
Chris uses his fifth turn to make a Keeper of the Nine Gales, where as Dan continues his aggression and attacks for a mighty five points of damage. A Mistform Sliver makes its way onto Chris’s side of the board, accompanied by Dan’s comment “Mistform Sliver is laaaaaaaaaaaaaame!” In the end step Dan Swats the opposing morph creature which turns out to be a Skinthinner. With two Mistform creatures in play, Chris is now able to use Keeper of the Nine Gales to bounce one of Dan’s creatures each turn. Realising that he should he used Swat on the Keeper and not the morph, Dan enters into a lengthy babble about how he had misplayed.
With a sizeable ground force, Dan attacks Chris every turn with whatever is available. Chris can’t do a lot other than bounce morph creatures and get a peek at what they are, as well as trading small creatures with Dan. At one point Chris is faced with two morphs, one of which is possibly the Spined Basher he earlier bounced. He opts to bounce the one with the oldest timestamp and this turns out to be a Towering Baloth. With enough mana to unmorph this monstrosity, Dan points out that if Chris had chosen wrong that would have been game. Chris looks at me and asks me to note his good play.
Chris is taking a beating but still manages to hang in there, dropping a Crypt Sliver and a Deathmark Prelate. With a swift point of the finger towards Dan, Chris declares “Skin of your teeth Magic! Let’s see if I can stablise on one life”. The beats continue and a Glowering Rogon is added to Dan’s forces. Chris decides to make an attempt at winning the game, as Dan has been taking a fair amount of pain from all the creatures bouncing in and out. Mistform Stalker commences air assaults. Chris also deploys a Wretched Anurid, on three life, as ammo for the Prelate.
From Dan’s side of the table the game looks almost over. Dan fingers his creatures in a ninety-degree fashion and it appears he is declaring attackers but he later changes his mind. Chris, not wanting to appear a mean guy, lets him get away with it. He attacks with everything but a lone Severed Legion, and Chris makes use of his Crypt Sliver’s ability with Mistforms and manages to scrape through. Then Chris makes a very bad play. He trys to activate his Prelate during Dan’s turn, and Dan forces him to use the mana he has tapped, clearly forgetting Chris’s act of kindness occuring in that same turn. It’s not really an issue though as Chris can cleanly sink it all into a Mistform.
Dan keeps playing more and more creatures, while Chris is forced to keep dropping chump blockers to stay alive. He finally runs out of creatures to play and instead pumps his Mistform Stalker and plays Infest. This keeps him alive for one more turn, in which he fails to draw an answer to a Towering Baloth and a 5/5 Glowering Rogon.
Dan wins 2-0