Yesterday, at the time of writing this, I played in a cEDH tournament. It was The Mana Vault MKE with Zimone and Dina, the deck I discussed in my previous two articles.  I played this list. I’m resisting the temptation to start off with any reflections on the event, but instead I’ll cover this chronologically.

Round One

In the first round I was the first seat, meaning I went first. Second seat was Thrasios, Trion Hero/Tymna the Weaver (TnT), third seat was Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy, and fourth seat was Winota, Joiner of Forces.

I kept a hand based largely on having Sylvan Library on the play, and lead off with a first turn Sylvan Safekeeper. The TnT player played a first turn Drannith Magistrate off a Mana Vault.  All of our decks were heavily reliant on our commanders, but especially Kinnan and Winota. With Sylvan Library I felt pretty good about Drannith Magistrate potentially slowing the game down.

I’m not going to go through a whole play-by-play, but here are the notable sequences:

Kinnan played some cards that tapped for mana.

Winona played Archon of Emeria.

I played Sylvan Library.

TnT played Oko, Thief of Crowns.

Winota used Solitude to exile Drannith Magistrate, played Winota, attacked with Archon to get a Winota trigger and found Thalia’s Lancers, which got Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker.

I played Zimone and Dina.

TnT turned Winota into an Elk and got their commanders out

Kinnan played Kinnan, which ended up getting Elked, but then bounced as we settled into the mid game.

Archon of Emeria was keeping the game slow, particularly since the Winota player couldn’t get any Winota triggers, but also played Aven Mindcensor, which stopped me from doing much, as I’d drawn multiple creature tutors.

Life totals were getting pretty low pretty quickly between my Sylvan Library, which I spent some life on, but also it triggered Zimone and Dina to drain someone each turn. There was a Mana Crypt and the Winota player attacking.

The TnT player cast Eldritch Evolution, I asked what they were planning to find. I did so because I had a Force of Negation which hadn’t really had a chance to do anything. They replied back with Grim Hireling, then the Winota player reminded them about the Aven Mindcensor.  I let it resolve, and they did, in fact, find Grim Hireling in their top four cards.  That let them kill the Kiki-Jiki the Winota player had deployed, but they died shortly after to attacks/drains/mana crypt.

I’d gotten a Tireless Provisioner and had eight lands in play, so Zimone and Dina could draw two cards. Still, I could only cast one spell per turn and I couldn’t search for Bloodghast or Scute Swarm, so I didn’t have a lot of creatures I wanted to sacrifice.  The Winota player cast Enlightened Tutor for Rest in Peace. At some point even though none of us were doing much with our graveyards.  The Kinnan player struggled to get to enough mana to activate Kinnan, and forgot about Aven Mindcensor twice, essentially wasting two turns because of the Archon of Emeria. So, they hadn’t done much.

I drew Emrakul, the Promised End, which I was able to cast thanks to treasures from the Tireless Provisioner despite the that I had no graveyard.  I took control of the Winota player and sent their Archon of Emeria and Aven Mindcensor to their deaths, which freed me to take a real turn.  I killed the Winota player with Emrakul, then proceeded to take a lot of game actions.

This was a huge mistake, as I’d completely forgotten about time.  I used Finale of Devastation to find Spellseeker for Demonic Tutor for Retreat to Coralhelm to start drawing tons of cards with Zimone and Dina

If I’d realized I was about to run out of time, I’d just have tutored for Deadly Rollick, killed Kinnan, passed the turn, and then untapped and killed them with Emrakul, but instead I spent a lot of time going wild with Retreat to Coralhelm, and time was called on my turn, and the end of round procedure is finish the current turn and the game ends in a draw.  I hadn’t built my deck to win in my second main phase, figuring killing all of my opponents’ permanents would be enough, but that wouldn’t help me here, so I accepted that the match was a draw.

Later, I realized I could have kept digging, and if I’d found Scute Swarm or Bloodghast I could have gone fully infinite. This might have let me win in an extremely convoluted fashion, by using Endurance to get my graveyard back for Finale of Devastation to give everything haste.

I then used Deathrite Shaman to kill my opponent by removing all of my instants and sorceries, after using my counters to counter each other, while untapping my Deathrite Shaman with Retreat to Coralhelm.  I don’t think this would have been a deterministic kill, and might have delayed the event by another half hour or so. But, I think I had a good chance of winning when I accepted the draw, or, of course, I could have taken a short turn there.  That was frustrating.

Round Two

The next round I was somehow first seat again, playing against Prosper, Tome-Bound, Zirda, the Dawnwaker, and Armix, Filigree Thrasher/Kraum, Ludevic’s Opus.

I opened on Green Sun’s Zenith for Dryad Arbor, followed by Zimone and Dina. Prosper opened on end of turn Vampiric Tutor for a turn two Mana Crypt+Prosper. Zirda opened on Serra Ascendant, followed by Urza’s Saga+Drannith Magistrate and Welding Jar. Armix/Kraum mulled to five and opened on Mox Diamond+Dauthi Voidwalker, followed by attacking and passing.

On my third turn I played a Birds of Paradise and a Bloodghast. Prosper played some more mana, a Sensei’s Divining Top, and a Wishclaw Talisman.  Zirda played Wheel of Fortune.  At this point, everyone’s hand was pretty small and we were going into the Armix/Kraum turn. I had Fierce Guardianship, Force of Negation, Snapback, and Chord of Calling in my hand. 

If I let the Wheel resolve, Armix Kraum draws 7 and gets a wheel under Dauthi, so they get to see 15 cards to try to win on their turn. Plus, I discard two of my free counterspells–I think it was probably wrong for the Zirda player to cast wheel there, but it happened, so I used my Fierce Guardianship to counter it, since I also thought my Chord of Calling was really valuable, as it would let me get Collector Ouphe to stop the Prosper player from winning with their Wishclaw Talisman setup. 

Armix/Kraum played Tainted Pact at the end of Zirda’s Turn.  They’d mulled to 5 and kept a hand with turn 1 Dauthi Voidwalker, and hadn’t played any tutors or drawn any extra cards. So, I figured they were probably looking for a land or something, and let it resolve.  They exiled all but two cards from their deck, untapped and played Thassa’s Oracle with Fierce Guardianship backup thanks to the Dauthi. But of course, I only had Force of Negation and the other players were playing Mardu, so the Oracle won.  I think I’d have had a decent chance of winning if I’d countered the Tainted Pact, but it was hard to go to no interaction in a spot where I didn’t think they were likely going for a win.

Round Three

In my third round I was in the third seat. First seat was Tivit, Seller of Secrets, second seat was Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder/Thrasios, Triton Hero, and fourth seat was Dargo, the Shipwrecker/Silas Renn, Seeker Adept.

The Tivit player opened on Command Tower, Sol Ring, Fellwar Stone, followed by Jeweled Lotus and a second turn Tivit, which resolved.  I’d kept a slow hand with An Offer You Can’t Refuse and Dispel, because I also had Rhystic Study.

My first turn was to play a fetchland and pass, and I drew a Birds of Paradise on my second turn. I played that and another land, and passed again.  The Thrasios player had a pretty good start–I think it might have been a turn 1 Mystic Remora that they didn’t pay for, and then Rhystic Study and Esper Sentinel.  I was pretty happy with them drawing cards, since I knew we’d need a lot to stop Tivit given their start.  The Dargo player had an even weaker start than me, and played Goblin Bombardment and Silas in the first few turns.

The Tivit player’s hand was mostly spent with all their acceleration. The Thrasios player became a comparable threat with Dockside Extortionist forcing the Tivit player to sacrifice all of their treasures to draw cards with their clues. The Dargo player was forced to sacrifice Silas to kill an Esper Sentinel Tivit had played after searching for it with Ranger Captain of Eos.  The Dockside still made a lot of mana, and the Thrasios player was able to Enlightened Tutor for Swift Reconfiguration.  I’d shown my counterspells though, so they just passed the turn after that.

After playing Rhystic Study on turn three, I’d drawn a lot of cards in the exchange between the Tivit player and Thrasios player. So, on my fourth turn I played a land and used my bird to cast Culling Ritual with one untapped land.  The Thrasios player tried to Swift Reconfiguration their Devoted Druid in response, but it was killed by the Goblin Bombardment and my culling ritual resolved, making 18 mana.  I used that to Finale of Devastation and Chord of Calling to get Scute Swarm and Tireless Provisioner, and to play Bloodghast and Zimone and Dina, paying for every Rhystic Study trigger. I passed with a treasure, still holding my counters, and I’d drawn a Flusterstorm as well.  I had Retreat to Coralhelm and a bounceland in my hand, so on my next turn I’d be able to draw my deck/make infinite treasures/do everything with three counters available to protect it, but unfortunately the Tivit player sacrificed their Ranger Captain of Eos and played Oracle+Consult to win.

I was pretty happy with the position I’d gotten into, despite my slow start and my seat one and two opponents’ great starts. But, I was disappointed to be eliminated.

Round Four

I played the last round for fun.

I was fourth seat.  Seat one was Tymna, the Weaver/Kraum, Ludevic’s Opus, seat two was Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, and seat three was Kodama of the East Tree/Sakashima of a Thousand Faces.

I kept another slow hand with exactly Dispel and An Offer You Can’t Refuse again.

I don’t remember the exact details of the game, I’m going to go with a bit of reverse chronological order here–

After the Kodama player won, he told me I’d played the best political game he’d ever seen.

I had very few tools to worth with/no chance of winning a short game.  I needed other players to hold each other off while I established an engine with Zimone and Dina+Bloodghast.

The Kiki-Jiki player started Skirk Prospector into Dockside Exortionist.  I’d played a Lotus Petal so I could hold up my counterspells while developing my board. The Kodama player also had a Lotus Petal. I said I’d sacrifice my petal if the Kodama player sacrificed theirs, they agreed, and we did.  The Kiki-Jiki player played Thornbite Staff, which threatened to go infinite with Kiki-Jiki on the following turn.  I had a counter for the staff, but no interaction for the Kiki-Jiki. 

I explained the danger we were in to the TnK player and asked if they could stop this. They said something like “not in a way I want to” and I said I would counter the Thornbite Staff if they could show me a hand with no counterspells.  They showed me only their Pact of Negation (which they had exactly enough mana to pay for) to explain their situation.  Knowing that, worst case, they could Pact the Kiki-Jiki on the following turn, I let the Thornbite Staff Resolve.

The Kodama player played Sakashima copying Kodama, which would let them put their entire hand into play and make everything uncounterable.  To convince the table to let this resolve, they revealed that all they had was a Finale of Devastation, so we weren’t going to lose on the spot.  Sakashima resolved and they started thinking about whether to play the Finale.  I showed them the An Offer You Can’t Refuse and told them they should pass the turn so I’d have this to stop the other players from winning, and they did.

At the beginning of the TnK player’s turn I showed them Dispel and An Offer You Can’t Refuse and told them they shouldn’t try to win and we should take it slow.  Unfortunately, they had Silence in addition to the Pact of Negation and Thassa’s Oracle/Consultation, so they decided to go for it.  They lead on Silence, I Dispelled, they Pacted, then the Kiki-Jiki player Ricochet Trapped to make Pact counter Silence.  They cast Thassa’s Oracle anyway.  I said “ok, this resolves, but remember that I still have An Offer You Can’t Refuse, and if you try to win I’m going to be forced to counter it” and they just let their oracle trigger resolve and passed the turn with one mana untapped.

The Kiki-Jiki player cast Kiki-Jiki, and the TnK player had Sword to Plowshares in response to the Thornbite trigger.

The Kodama player drew Step Through and Wizard Cycled for Prime Speaker Zegana–they also had Ashaya, Soul of the Wild in play, so they drew 10 or 11 cards and put whatever they wanted onto the battlefield.  Then they cast Summoner’s Pact, which I thought I had to counter, then finale for Meloku to kill with Sunscorched Desert.

I was never really a threat in the game, but it was still pretty fun.

Overall, I felt pretty good about my deck considering my final record–I should have won my first match.  The second match was weird, and I guess I could have been in good shape if I’d just countered the Tainted Pact.  The third match was going to be really hard in my seat with any deck, and I’m glad I was able to get close.  The fourth match was kind of similar–it was going to be hard in fourth seat with TnK in seat one and two relatively low interaction decks in seats two and three.

Sam Black (any) is a former professional Magic player, longtime Magic writer, host of the Drafting Archetypes podcast, and Twitch streamer. Sam is also a Commander Cube enthusiast, and you can find Sam’s cube list here. For anything else, find Sam on Twitter: @SamuelHBlack.

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