Dana and I shuffled up for Nissa versus Liliana. I was [casthaven]Nissa, Vastwood Seer[/casthaven]. Having built the decks, I was worried that I’d run right over Dana, but she had faith in [casthaven]Liliana, Heretical Healer[/casthaven]. There was some shit-talking, a type of social interaction I am terrible at, and then we shuffled up and began.

What a strange old land, from the Dark days of Magic’s history.

Dana was on the play, because her first die beat my combined total. Turn one she lead with a [casthaven]City of Shadows[/casthaven], and I mocked her ceaselessly for playing out such a useless land. I dropped a Forest, she dropped [casthaven]Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth[/casthaven] (making [casthaven]City of Shadows[/casthaven] a lot less useless), and then on my second turn I had the first play of the game: [casthaven]Sylvan Library[/casthaven].

I wish I could get this version of the card in paper.

Dana untapped and played Liliana; I untapped, drew three cards, and then played out Nissa. I was at 30 life (after Dana got a hit in), but I felt like I was in control of the game at that point. Nothing could go wrong!


Everything went wrong.


It started out pretty straightforward. I had dropped a [casthaven]Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx[/casthaven], and tried to capitalize on this by playing out a [casthaven]Wood Elf[/casthaven] and a [casthaven]Fauna Shaman[/casthaven]. Dana untapped and then killed my [casthaven]Fauna Shaman[/casthaven]. There are a lot of things that could have killed my [casthaven]Fauna Shaman[/casthaven] without putting me on the back foot, but she cast [casthaven]Overseer of the Damned[/casthaven] off her own accelerants, and that was a problem.

One of the more brutal deathdrifters they’ve ever printed.

Frustrated with the way Dana had picked off a relatively strong card engine, I saw a [casthaven]Hornet Queen[/casthaven] in my top three cards and snapped it up with no hesitation. I played it out, and I felt safe and secure behind my wall of bees, [casthaven]Wood Elf[/casthaven], and Nissa, the not-yet-a-planeswalker. “Nice try, 6/6 demon!” I cried out, only without opening my mouth. “You’re too weak to handle some bees!” Next turn I was going to use my Nykthos mana and just… go off. I was in a defensible position, I was still at 32 life, I had [casthaven]Greater Good[/casthaven] in hand, and getting the chance to cast it and do other things seemed ideal.


This time around it was Dana’s turn to look sheepish as she ruined my world.


[casthaven]Massacre Wurm[/casthaven].

In foil, because of course my ruination would be shiny.

Well, I’ll say this… [casthaven]Massacre Wurm[/casthaven] lived up to its name. The [casthaven]Hornet Queen[/casthaven] alone domed me for ten when it and the bees died, and the [casthaven]Wood Elf[/casthaven] and Nissa also got wiped (though Nissa didn’t die, so that was one trigger saved). I was at 20, and then Dana turned her team sideways and brought me down to 12. I was boned.

The new frame for this card really highlights the vibrancy of the colors.

[casthaven]Sylvan Library[/casthaven] helped find me an answer, but it was a Pyrrhic victory.* I drew [casthaven]All is Dust[/casthaven], and had to fire it off immediately to keep from dying. It took my turn, neutered my Nykthos, and got me to sacrifice my [casthaven]Sylvan Library[/casthaven]. I was left limping along, not for the first time in my life, and Dana got to untap and do more threatening things. Like recasting her commander, and then playing out another [casthaven]Liliana, Liliana of the Dark Realms[/casthaven] to ramp.

For a second I really thought this guy would be the death of me.

It was [casthaven]Ob Nixilis, the Fallen[/casthaven] who really had me worried. After landing him on her next turn, Dana dropped a land, bringing me down to nine. The only thing that saved me was an attack the next turn, where missing a land drop meant Ob Nixxy was only a 6/6. I ambushed it with [casthaven]Cloudthresher[/casthaven], which wouldn’t have been my play had I any other options; [casthaven]Cloudthresher’s[/casthaven] ETB effect brought me down to seven. I dropped a [casthaven]Regal Force[/casthaven] looking for some lifegain, and hoping to hold off the horde, but things got bleak fast.

Not a may!

Dana played out a [casthaven]Bloodgift Demon[/casthaven], followed by a [casthaven]Keepsake Gorgon[/casthaven]. I untapped, desperately went searching for an answer to the clear death I was facing, and utterly whiffed. Dana untapped, pointed the Bloodgift trigger at me, made the Gorgon into a proper monster, killed the [casthaven]Cloudthresher[/casthaven], and then swung in the air to bring me down to one.


The only way I had to survive was to rip a removal spell. I didn’t. So I went searching. I used Nissa and whiffed, drawing a [casthaven]Garruk, Primal Hunter[/casthaven]. I then used Garruk to draw some more cards, and it was only then that I found a [casthaven]Beast Within[/casthaven]. Now, it probably wouldn’t have saved me if I had cast it, but it didn’t matter… I had only two mana left, falling one short of the mana I needed.

It’s always a good sign when it makes sense to point these triggers at an opponent’s head.

Dana killed me with a [casthaven]Bloodgift Demon[/casthaven] trigger. Daggers.


Thus, we have a winner! [casthaven]Liliana, Heretical Healer[/casthaven] heads into the finals with [casthaven]Kytheon, Hero of Akros[/casthaven]. It’s the ultimate clash of good versus evil.** Who will triumph?!


Find out next week, in THE TOURNAMENT OF NEOPHYTES!


Jess Stirba has seen some interesting things over her lifetime.


*[casthaven]Pyrrhic Revival[/casthaven] is the cardname that bothers me the most. The term “Pyrrhic Victory” comes from King Phyrrus’s battle against the Romans. He fought a war against them, he won, but each victory weakened his army, because, while he killed more Romans than Romans killed Greeks, the Romans had a far larger pool of men to draw from. Thus, his hollow victories became an idiom. There is no reason that idiom would transcend the multiverse! The worst part, the part that irks me the most, is that “Hollow Revival” sounds even cooler, and is a better match for the flavor of the set. But, you know, classicists have weird bugaboos.

**It is open to interpretation which is which.

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