Feature Match Round 4 - Chris Benafel vs. Andrew Nishioka

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Chris Benafel, an Oregon native, sat down at the Feature Match table with his Red, White and Blue Goblin Trenches deck. Andrew Nishioka, a from Chicago, showed up almost late to the round, but grinning wide. The banter had already started between these long-time friends. Both are infamous Pro Tour players, and the feature match was sure to be an exciting one. Nishioka had been playing the last two rounds, as his rating only qualified for one bye. Post-tournament plans were made, phone numbers exchanged, and wisecracks about each others' game. A lengthy shuffling period was taken and decks presented. The banter quieted down and the two competitors got down to business.

Game One

Andrew won the die roll and elected to play first. Chris, however, decided to mulligan, which resulted in a fairly decent hand consisting of a Fact or Fiction, a Repulse, and a Fire/Ice, along with the necessary lands to play the spells. Andrew led off with a quick start, playing a Birds of Paradise and a Forest. Chris draws, lays a land, and gives the turn back to Andrew. Andrew started applying pressure by playing a second turn Call of the Herd. Chris responded on his turn by playing the red half of Fire/Ice, sending one damage at the Birds and the other to Andrew, putting him to 19 life. Chris sent the turn back to Andrew, and took three damage from the Elephant token, putting him at 16. Andrew kept the pressure on by playing a Werebear. Chris took another turn and layed a land, still not coming up with a defense for Andrew's Elephant and Bear. Andrew drew and immediately attacked with his Elephant and Bear, but Chris had a Repulse for the Elephant, saving him three damage. Andrew then paid four mana and flash backed the Call of the Herd. Since Benafel was tapped out, it had to resolve.

In what would become standard operating procedure for Benafel, he took his turns quickly, choosing to only lay a land and say go. Andrew saw a Wild Mongrel get Absorbed by Chris, but kept attacking with the Bear and Elephant. Another land later, it was Andrew's turn again. The Werebear and the Elephant again came at Chris, putting him at ten life. At the end of Andrew's turn, Chris played Prophetic Bolt on the Elephant, but took one damage from his land, putting him at nine life. The Bolt resolved, and Chris had his choice of Absorb, Urza's Rage, Skycloud Expanse, and Goblin Trenches. Finally finding what he needs, Chris took the Trenches and played one his turn, his lands knocking him down to eight life, but dramatically altering the board position in his favor. Andrew played another Werebear on his turn, but because they were only 1/1's so early in the game, he decided not to attack. During Andrew's discard step, Chris made two 1/1's of his own, sacrificing his Adarkar Wastes. The next few turns saw the board locked up, neither player attacking the other. Then on Andrew's turn, he played an unexpected Island. "Islands? You're not supposed to be playing Blue," Chris taunts. Andrew just grins and says go. Chris has end of turn effects though, and plays a devastating Fire/Ice, sending a point of damage at each of Andrew's Werebears. Chris then sacrificed another of his lands to make two more Goblin tokens. The Goblins proceeded to smash through an empty field, while Andrew's attempts at defense in the form of a Fire/Ice and a Flametongue Kavu were Counterspelled and Memory Lapsed. Chris attacked again, putting Andrew to three, and sent the turn back. Andrew drew his card, tapped his lands, and played Upheaval. Chris looked over the board, and noticed a mistake in Andrew's play.

Chris: Isn't that Flametongue supposed to be in your hand? I Memory Lapsed it.
Andrew: You countered it.
Chris: Yeah, but it was supposed to be on top of your library. What'd you draw this turn?
Andrew: Oh.

The players debate whether to call a judge, but agree just to move to game two, with Andrew conceding the match, since Chris would win on his next turn anyway.

Chris 1 - Andrew 0

Both players did heavy sideboarding and some questionable last minute changes. A bystander had knocked the table over, revealing Andrew's sideboarded Price of Glory.

Chris: Hmm. Where's my sideboard?
Andrew: How lucky, he's changing his sideboard now. I can't believe this.

Chris reached for his sideboard and went through the motions, but the record shows he wasn't worried about the Price of Glory, and left his Disenchants in the sideboard.

Andrew: -3 Repulse, -4 Fire/Ice, -2 Mystic Enforcer, -1 Engulfing Flames, -1 Wild Mongrel, -1 Flametongue Kavu. +2 Reprisal, +2 Rakavolver, +2 Thunderscape Battlemage, +4 Gainsay

Chris: -2 Memory Lapse, -1 Repulse, -1 Goblin Trenches, -2 Urza's Rage. +4 Flametongue Kavu, +2 Gainsay.

Game Two

Nishioka elected to play first again, but didn't get nearly as quick a start this game. He led with a Shivan Oasis, and Chris was more than contented to not deal with a turn one Birds of Paradise this time. Andrew started the attack with a turn two Werebear. Chris was only able to answer with lands for a few turns, and let the Bear put him to sixteen life before finally Repulsing it at the end of Andrew's turn. Chris let the Werebear resolve on Andrew's next turn, but played a Fact or Fiction at the end of it. Andrew responded with his own Fact or Fiction, which resolved first. Andrew selected a Birds of Paradise, Werebear, and a City of Brass over a Birds of Paradise and a Wild Mongrel. Chris's Fact or Fiction then resolved, giving him a Prophetic Bolt and Skycloud Expanse.

Chris untapped, drew, then took advantage of Andrew's lack of mana to play Flametongue Kavu, killing Andrew's Werebear. Andrew answered with a Flametongue Kavu of his own, killing Chris's copy after playing Gainsay on Chris's Counterspell. Chris took his turn, and once again drew, played a land, and sent the turn back to Andrew. Andrew quickly sent the Flametongue Kavu over at Chris, putting him at twelve life. Nishioka then played a Birds of Paradise to even out his mana, and said go. Chris used his Prophetic Bolt at the end of Andrew's turn, and answered Andrew's Gainsay with one of his own. The Prophetic Bolt resolved and Chris selected an Island from two other lands and a Goblin Trenches. Chris untapped and played yet another Flametongue Kavu, killing Andrew's Kavu without so much as a Force Spike. Andrew answered Chris's Flametongue Kavu with another Werebear, which was a hefty 4/4 by this time in the game.

Chris had the cards to win, however, and played his third Flametongue Kavu to kill the Bear. Chris entered the attack step for the first time in this game, and put Andrew at sixteen life with the Kavu. Andrew took his turn, drew, and pondered over a decision for a few minutes, the longest standstill the match had seen since it had started. In the end, Nishioka decided to play a Thunderscape Battlemage without kickers to try and stall the rampaging Kavus. The Battlemage resolves, and Chris trades his Flametongue with the Mage, putting Nishioka to twelve life. As with the first game, Chris's overwhelming amount of counterspells were able to hold off Andrew's attempt at damage control, and the Kavus went all the way for a Benafel match win.

Chris 2 - Andrew 0

GP Milwaukee: Trenches
Chris Benafel

GP Milwaukee: 4-Color Beats
Andrew Nishioka

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