Ken was ecstatic to finally make it to the semi-finals of a high level event. Phil, who had talked of retiring at the start of this tournament, inched closer to going back on the Pro Tour gravy train.
Philip won the die roll and mulliganed. He kept his new hand, which allowed him to cycle on the first two turns. Ken came out strong with a first turn Goblin Taskmaster followed by a third turn morph creature. Freneau played a cycling land on his third turn, allowing him to cast both Foothill Guide and Severed Legion on his turn four.
Ken swung with his morph guy, which hit for two. Phil attacked with his zombie, which hit for two, and then followed with a morph creature of his own. This prompted Ken to cycle Krosan Tusker at the end of Phil’s turn, finding a second Mountain from his deck. He continued the morph parade with a third 2/2 guy, and added Wirewood Herald to his side.
Phil drew, and considered his options. His hand consisted of double Daru Healer, Battlefield Medic and Cabal Archon. He opted to play a face-down Healer. Morph creature number one came through for two, and Barkhide Mauler added some on-board fat for Krouner. At the end of Ken’s turn, Phil opted to reveal his Daru Healer, as it was clear he’d be going on the defense excepting his fear zombie.
Phil played yet another cycling land on his turn, and swung as expected. He then summoned Cabal Archon, leaving one black untapped with three clerics showing on the board (the Guide, the Healer and the Archon itself). The Mauler crossed into the red zone, but this only resulted in a chump block and drain life via the Foothill Guide. Ken took this opportunity to Erratic Explosion the black cleric, to which Phil responded by preventing a point with his Healer. This was for naught, as Ken pulled up Battering Craghorn to deal four damage to the 2/2 critter. It died, and Phil noticeably slumped in his chair as he placed his life gaining machine in the graveyard.
Phil drew, and morphed his morph creature at last-Silent Spector! The 4/4 flyer swooped over the battlefield along with Severed Legion, to bring Ken from twelve to six and costing him Run Wild and Spitfire Handler from his hand. Ken counter attacked the next turn with his entire team, but it wasn’t close to enough to win the game.
Phil Freneau 1 - Ken Krouner 0
After a quick discussion with Jack Stanton about the economics of being a card dealer on Magic Online, the Phil and Ken shuffled up for game two.
This time around Ken decided to play first and promptly mulliganed. His six card hand gave him turn two Wirewood Herald, but yet no mountains for all the red cards in his hand. Phil brought out Wretched Anurid on turn two, but Ken answered with “Wretched Anurid’s favorite man”, Symbiotic Elf. Phil swung past the two elves, and played a morph guy. Ken drew a mountain and quickly cast Erratic Explosion on the morph guy, hitting it with six points worth of Treespring Lorian damage. Daru Healer went to the grave, though Ken clearly had hoped to do away with the Specter in the early game.
Phil drew, played land number four, and passed the turn. Ken, on his part, cycled Krosan Tusker to find a second Mountain, and played a morph creature after attacking with his 2/2 elf. Phil came back across with his 3/3 yet again, and then cast the unblockable Gluttonous Zombie. Due to Anurid life loss, the game went to Ken’s turn in an eleven to eleven tie.
Ken turned his mystery meat into the red zone, hitting for another two. He then followed it up with Barkhide Mauler, Contested Cliffs in hand ready to wreck his opponent on the following turn. Phil swung with his fear guy, and played Battlefield Medic followed by Starlit Sanctum. Ken, drew, played Contested Cliffs, and went to send his Mauler and Phil’s blocking Anurid into the arena. Phil responded with Death Pulse, killing the beast before it could do any damage.
Ken: “That really sucks.”
Phil then drew, attacked for three, and cast Profane Prayers straight at Ken’s head, making the life totals 7-4 in Freneau’s favor. With the Starlit Sanctum and Gluttonous Zombie, he looked poised to win the following turn.
Ken cycled a land, and drew Erratic Explosion. He then attacked with his two morph creatures and Symbiotic Elf. Phil blocked one morph with his Wretched Anurid and another with his Medic. The cleric went straight to the dome, and Ken dropped to three life, with Phillip at five. Krouner then cast Birchlore Rangers (4-3), and cast Erratic Explosion right at Phillip’s nugget.
The first card revealed…land.
Then…a fourth land.
Finally, Ken flipped over a business card-Skittish Valesk. The seven damage was enough to finish off his opponent.
Ken Krouner 1 - Phil Freneau 1
At the end of the last game, Ken had declined to attack with his Wirewood Elf, which he didn’t need for mana. Given his plan for the last-minute Explosion, it’s questionable as to why he didn’t swing with the 1/2 as well.
Antonino DeRosa wandered over as this game before. “Feel lucky that you guys are on game three. The other match is still on turn five…of game one. I swear, I felt myself getting fatter as I watched their game. It was that burger I ate earlier.”
Both players finally drew and kept hands sans need for mulligan. Phil came out the gates swinging with a second turn Catapult Squad and a third turn morph creature. Ken showed the back of his card sleeve as he played an unrevealed 2/2 of his own. The Battering Craghorn traded with Catapult Squad, as Phil played a second morph creature and played a Barren Moor. The next turn, Freneau tapped five mana and revealed Silent Specter, gigging Ken for four damage, Chain of Acid and a Forest.
Things looked especially grim for Krouner as all he could muster the next turn was Elvish Warrior and a cycled Krosan Tusker. The huge black flyer hit again, taking out two lands and four life from Krouner yet again. Ken winced, peeked at his card, and got Erratic Explosion.
Ken: “At least now I have a chance.” *Ken cast his Explosion at the Specter*
Phillip: “In response, morph my Daru Healer and prevent one damage”
Ken: “I think I have one card left in my deck that can do this” *Reveals Wirewood Elf* “That wasn’t it.” *The spectators began walking away from the table.* “Wait! I where’s everyone going? I have two more Explosions!”
He didn’t. He lost.
Phil Freneau 2 - Ken Krouner 1
After the match, I asked Ken about the Wirewood Elves in game two. He replied that one of his morph creatures was Battering Craghorn, and he would have morphed the first striker if it was blocked, and then used the Wirewood Elf plus the Birchlore Rangers in his hand to generate red mana to shoot the Gluttonous Zombie with Contested Cliffs.