I had been looking forward to a great night of Magic. My friend Jesse was coming to play tonight and I hadn't seen him in months. Jesse and his wife Rachel had spent the last year driving a truck and their fifth wheel all over the United States. They would find a nice place for a few days with some internet access, get work done, then move on to another city. Jesse used to be a regular at my Thursday night Magic group, but this kind of adventure was too much to pass up. Jesse and I met playing Magic with my Thursday night group and have known each other for about ten years. I was sad to see him go, but excited to hear all about his trip and happy to have him back for the evening to play Magic!
We had a pretty decent turnout and split into two groups to play. Our group consisted of Jesse and I, Harry, and Josh. All of us had been part of the group for a long time, so it was nice to get to talk about new jobs, moves, and just get caught up on everything that had happened over the past year or so. It turns out that driving all around the country for a year leads to some interesting stories! As Jesse hadn't had a chance to pull his decks out of mothballs, he opted to borrow mine for the night. Harry doesn't tend to play a lot of Commander, so he likes to try out other people's decks as well, so he was also using my decks. Josh has a wall of Commander decks, most of which can completely run my decks over in short order, so he takes every opportunity to do so!
Our first game ended up being a little anticlimactic. Josh was running Aura Shards, and Harry had a Viashino Heretic out for most of the game. This meant that none of us had any artifact ramp, but that did little to slow Josh's Karador deck, while bringing the rest of us to a standstill. Josh tried to slow his deck down a bit to make the game a little more fun, but it was clear that he had this one in the bag early on with all the graveyard recursion that we could do almost nothing to stop.
The second game proved to be a little more engaging. Josh was running Iroas, God of Victory. Jesse was running Brago, King Eternal, Harry was running Firesong and Sunspeaker, and I was relying on Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer to carry me to victory.
The game had a standard start with lands and some ramp, and some smaller creatures. Harry had been watching the board state get ever bigger, and his mana base was growing quickly. He had played out a Balefire Liege to go with his Firesong and Sunspeaker, so he had managed to gain a little bit of life here and there, and used the Liege's ability to go after Josh's life total a little bit, which had been buffered by his own Balefire Liege. Then he saw his chance. He tapped out and played Star of Extinction. There were twenty creatures on the battlefield at that point, so Harry was looking at clearing the board and gaining 400 life! I don't think my deck had ever had such a glorious blast!
And it still wouldn't. Josh couldn't stop the Star of Extinction, but he could stop the life gain. He played Oblation and left Harry to either shuffle his commander into his deck or return them to the Command Zone. While the board was still wiped, and that was a good thing for Harry, losing 400 life was a tough pill to swallow.
A couple of turns after losing my Brudiclad to a Star of Extinction, it was back in play, along with a 2/1 Myr and an Ashnod's Altar that had landed early in the game. I had played Brass's Bounty earlier in the game so I had six Treasure tokens out as well. I was thinking that I should change them into 2/1 Myr tokens, since the Altar would mean that they would be worth more mana as creatures to sacrifice, but I've been burned enough by Wrath effects to know that there are times when it is just better to keep a variety of permanents on the battlefield. Add in that Harry and Josh were both running White, and it just made sense to wait. That paid off when Josh decided it was time to go old school and play the OG Wrath of God, costing me Brudiclad again, but at least I didn't lose the Treasure tokens. On my turn I replayed Brudiclad, got the 2/1 Myr and opted to do nothing.
I watched as each player took their turn, and waited hopefully to see if I could actually pull this off. Once my turn arrived, I was pretty excited. I knew that my play could still be stopped, but was pretty sure it wouldn't be since the Wrath of God hurt Jesse and Harry pretty badly and they would have stopped it if they could have. Both had built up a decent board state with Jesse running King Brago and a few rather large spirits that were bringing some hurt, so when the Wrath hit, there is no way he wouldn't have countered it if he could. I tapped two mana and dropped my little artifact: Idol of Oblivion. No one countered it, so I tapped eight more mana, including sacrificing one of the Myr to Ashnod's Altar, to get that glorious 10/10 colorless Eldrazi creature token.
It wasn't until I went to combat and made a 2/1 Myr token with Brudiclad did the realization hit for everyone. I turned all my tokens into 10/10 Eldrazi monsters. Including the six Treasure tokens that had just been waiting for this moment to shine! Brudiclad also gives all your token creatures haste, so I now had eight 10/10 creatures!
Everyone had two of their own creatures, so to kill anyone, it was going to take six Eldrazi. This meant that I could only kill one opponent. This really wasn't that difficult a decision. Josh is the best player and his deck was easily the most likely to be able to handle a horde of Eldrazi. Harry's deck could also do it, but I know he only had a limited number of options and he had already used up the Star of Extinction, so I swung at Josh with six creatures and Harry with two.
This probably wasn't a smart play. If Josh had a way to deal with one of the creatures, he could block two others and I wouldn't be able to finish him off. Luckily for me, Austere Command isn't something he could play at instant speed during my combat, so he died right there. He did take out one of my Eldrazi with him, so I was down to only seven 10/10 creatures! Harry chose to block only one, keeping the Firesong and Sunspeaker on the battlefield.
Jesse played a Spectral Procession, hoping to buy himself some time to find a permanent solution. I was working out how many I would need to send at Harry to kill him off, and I was pretty sure it was five, with just Firesong and Sunspeaker out, but I'd have to see if he had more chump blockers.
Instead, Harry when for the gusto and Earthquaked for ten. And if that wasn't enough, he Reiterated it! The copy alone would be enough to wipe out my gang of Eldrazi, but it was the life gain from Firesong and Sunspeaker that worried me. I had eight creatures and Jesse had two on the ground, so Harry was looking at gaining 120 life and knocking our life totals down significantly. This couldn't stand.
I responded by sacrificing my creatures to Ashnod's Altar and using my one remaining untapped land to add Blue mana, and cast Cyclonic Rift. This meant that Firesong and Sunspeaker went back to his hand, and all of Jesse's creatures came off the battlefield as well. Since my creatures would have died to the two massive burn spells, sacrificing them to the Altar seemed as good a choice as any other. It was a full board wipe, and each of us lost twenty life. This put me down to ten, Jesse at twenty, and Harry, who was counting on gaining a lot of life, at a mere two.
Jesse spent his turn getting a chump blocker and a Windborn Muse on the battlefield, then passed. On my turn I got to play my next big monster, a Myr Battlesphere! It hit the battlefield with four 1/1 Myr tokens, so Jesse could see that this would be a six 2/1 tokens coming his way, but he could kill two of them with blocks and only take six, so it would still work out.
Until I played Echo Storm. I'm not sure if this card is worth it in the deck. You rarely want to pay five to make a couple of copies of a Treasure or a Sol Ring. They only work for a little while because you end up turning them into a creature to swing with, and paying five mana for a couple of extra tokens rarely seems worth it. Then you copy a Myr Battlesphere. I had played Brudiclad three times this game, so I got a Myr Battlesphere token creature for the original sorcery and three more Myr Battlespheres for all the copies of the card. For those of you at home working out the math that is four token version of Myr Battlesphere that can all attack this turn, along with 16 Myr creature tokens to go with the two others that were on the battlefield (I had to sacrifice two of them to get the three colorless mana). Add in the 2/1 Myr from last turn, and the new one I got when I went to combat, and there were 24 tokens all ready to attack. And yes, I turned them all into Myr Battlespheres.
While the Windborn Muse did limit my fun a little (I had to sacrifice 13 creatures to pay for the Muse's tax on the remaining 13 attackers), I did hit with 11 creatures and did more than enough damage to win the game!
And with that the night ended. Jesse is heading back on the road shortly, with plans to go up and down the East Coast this year. While the games tonight were a lot of fun, in a month all I'm going to remember of this night was a few cool plays and that Jesse was here to share them. Magic has always been about the gathering for me and knowing the game keeps me in touch with many old friends is just another draw to shuffling up the cards every week!