Round 4: Peter Szigeti versus Mike Pustilnik

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Pro Tour perennial bad boy PTR came to the feature match table to play against Pro Tour mensch Mike Pustilnik. While the elder Pustilnik certainly has many more accomplishments to his name (including a win a Pro Tour Los Angeles 2001), Peter Szigeti commands a huge presence from Magic community due to his often over-the-top antics.

Mikey P won the die roll and chose to play first. Neither player mulliganed as they settled doen to begin game one.

Game one:

Doctor Mikey P started things off with a face-down Battering Craghorn, which got molested by PTR's Shock. PTR dropped a morph of his own (Goblin Taskmaster), which died to Mikey P's blocking Festering Goblin.

PTR beat down with Screeching Buzzard, and followed it up with a second morph creature, which was revealed to be Skittish Valesk as it died to Pinpoint Avalanche. Mikey P meticulously drew and kept life totals, marking each of PTR's morph creatures with a die. In contrast, PTR fidgeted with his whole body, stared at the board, and rushed through his turns, even as he played down two more morph guys.

Mikey P couldn't get things rolling with a hand full of blue cards and only Mountains and Swamps on the board. His trademark lack of poker face came through as he rested his lip on his chin, dismayed at his lack of options. Dropping a pair of morph creatures of his own, he blocked a Goblin Taskmaster (which was unmorphed) with his Thrashing Mudspawn (which was also unmorphed), taking seven damage to reduce himself to a precarious three life. The life totals stood at 18-3 in the favor of PTR, as Mikey P scooped in the face not drawing an Island. When the game ended, PTR revealed a third Goblin Taskmaster to be his last remaining morph creature, which Mikey P showed, with a flip of defeat, a Quicksilver Dragon.

Peter Szigeti 1 - Mike Pustilnik 0

Mikey P and Tony Tsai (both on one side of the feature match table) both lost their first games. "Would you take the buy out for this draft at this point, Mikey P?" asked PTR. "How about if we played two headed giant?" asked Brian Kibler, Tsai's opponent. "My deck is insane for multi-player."

Game two:

Mikey P kept his opening hand, as did PTR. Although Mike opened with a red land, it was Peter who played the first creature (a Festering Goblin). Mikey P answered with Sparksmith. When PTR attacked, he went to write down the life total exchange-but Pustilnik quickly stopped him.

"Hold on, hold on! I'm thinking!", said Mikey P.
"I was just writing down our names, don't worry.", answered PTR.

Mike opted to trade his tim for the zombie, and played a third turn Words of War.

PTR: "That's not good."
Mikey P (on the next turn, facing an empty board): "I'll choose not to activate my Words on the draw."
PTR: "You think?"

Both players traded Screeching Buzzards, as the good doctor laid a face-down Battering Craghorn. This enabled PTR to BlackmailSolar Blast from Mikey's hand, though Mike continued by playing more face down creatures. PTR dropped Wretched Anrid on the board, and followed it up with Skittish Valesk. Mikey P summoned forth a Shepherd of Rot.

On the following upkeep:

PTR: "Let's roll a die. Even he morphs."
Mikey P: "Even he flips, correct?"
PTR: "Right, even he morphs"
Mike P: "You mean even he turns face down."

Mike proceeded to roll a five. PTR raised his eyebrows up and down suggestively, thrilled with his being on the good end of a die roll. This allowed him to safely beat down for five, bringing the life totals to 13-9 in PTR's favor. Mike morphed one of his Battering Craghorns and beat down for two, summoning a 4/4 Soulless One to drop PTR further down one life. PTR had effects at the end of Mike's turn: namely, he cast Cruel Revival killing Mike's unrevealed Battering Craghorn and taking Festering Goblin out of the graveyard to shrink the Soulless One to a 3/3.

Although he lost the die roll turning the Valesk face down, PTR opted to swing with both his large men the following turn. Mikey P thought long and hard, with no cards in hand and his 3/3 Soulless One, Words of War, tapped Battering Craghorn and Shepherd of Rot on the board. Since the life totals were tied at 9-9, Mike paused to decide his blocking situation.

PTR: "How much time is left in the round?"
Spectator: "27:30"
Mikey P: "I think we have enough time."
PTR: "I don't know, if all the turns take this long..."
Mikey P: "They won't."
PTR: "Are you sure?"
Mikey P: "I need to think!"

In the end, Pustilnik chump blocked the face-down Valesk with his Shepherd, leaving his zombie avatar and Craghorn on the board. After damage was on the stack, he tapped the Shepherd to cause each player to lose 3 life (bringing the life totals to 6-3 after Anurid Damage), with his 4/4 Soulless One and 3/1 Battering Craghorn facing down a freshly cast Festering Goblin.

Mikey P finally used his Words of War to damage Szigeti directly, allowing his two men to come across dealing the last three points of lethal damage to his opponent.

Mike Pustilnik 1 - Peter Szigeti 1

"Here, take a look at this guy", joked PTR, flipping over the Valesk after the game.

Game Three:

Mike played a first turn Imagecrafter, using it to swing across an empty board on turn two. PTR began his morph crusade the next turn, though his face-down creature died to a Shock.

PTR (not flipping over the creature): "Guess."
Mikey P: "Goblin Taskmaster."

And Goblin Taskmaster it was. Mikey P cast Words of War again on his third turn, using it to kill a second morpher of PTR's the following turn (a Skitterish Valesk), and his Imagecrafter traded for a Festering Goblin. PTR couldn't keep a creature on board as Mikey P played a face-down Dragon. It came to play on the following turn. It died to a Cruel Revival the following turn, as Mikey P had but a sole Island in play (which was used to morph the mighty blue flyer).

PTR (turns to me): "I drew that card this turn. Right off here. (points to library)"

Mike played yet another morph creature, and used Words of War to kill Festering Goblin-which combined with a Feeding Frenzy took down Mike's Disruptive Pitmage. PTR raged on with a Wretched Anurid, which Mike could only answer with land after land. At seven life, Pustilnik played Sparksmith and at four life he shot the Anurid with Sparksmith and activated Words of War to kill the zombie.

Mikey P played a face-down Thrashing Mudspawn, which wisely stayed unrevealed as PTR sent it to the graveyard with a Pinpoint Avalanche. Now it was PTR's turn to draw land after land as Mike beat down with the littlest goblin who could. The Sparksmith went all the way to take down PTR, who winced as he lost a game it seemed as if he had won.

Mike Pustilnik 2 - Peter Szigeti 1

After the game, Mike and I discussed if there were any instances in the game where he could have played differently. We debated whether he should have began using Words of War once the board was at Sparksmith/Words of War versus nothing on PTR's side, to deal three a turn but give up his draw. Since PTR was at eight life at that point, Mike could have gone the sure route and dealt three a turn over the following three turns to end the game. On top of this, PTR had only a single creature left in his deck (a second Wretched Anurid) to survive the Words. On the other hand, Mike wanted to draw more cards to hopefully get a creature which would deal damage without losing his card a turn. Mike agreed that either way to play that game (draw cards versus activating Words of War with a clear board) would have been the correct play, it was just a matter of preference of the 'sure' damage (Words of War) versus moving through the library (no Words of War).

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