This weekend, Out of the Box hosted a Pioneer Event with a prize payout of one entire case of boosters from March of the Machine divided across the top eight competitors.
Our first feature match has Greg Powell on Azorius Spirits and Michael Moore with a newly brewed deck with cards from March of the Machine. Greg’s deck is the typical tier list with the addition of 1 Errant and Giada in the main deck and three copies of Invasion of Gobakhan in the sideboard for hand disruption in white. Michael’s deck uses the three-card combo of Mox Amber, Retraction Helix and Rona, Herald of the Invasion to create infinite mana. He then can use Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy to get to Karn, the Great Creator and a wishlist sideboard. A typical line will be fetching for Aetherflux Reservoir to win the game. Though this combo deck had a lot of mana acceleration and punishing finishers, the spirits deck is not without resources. At the end of your opponent’s turn, you can cast virtually all the deck’s utility creatures with Flash leaving your mana open for more responsive plays or even more creatures. Spell Queller is a spirit creature that can be played anytime you can play an instant as it has the Flash keyword. When it enters the battlefield, the creature can exile any spell that is played literally stopping the opponent in its tracks. Greg plays three of these in a row on Michael essentially locking him out of the game. Greg’s ability to apply pressure during both players’ turns was too much for Michael’s combo deck. In both games, Greg was just able to push to much value out and whittle his life total away.
Our second feature match has Jarod Larue with an aggressive mono white deck with two copies Skrelv, Defector Mite against Yugo Sato piloting Abzan Greasefang. Yugo Sato has took first place the previous 2 events he has competed in. In the first game, Yugo plays a single Esika’s Chariot and proceeds to run over the few creatures that Jarod can keep on the field. The first game win proves that the combo kill of Greasefang, Okiba Boss isn’t the only way the deck can win. Jarod pushes through in game two with back-to-back Rest In Peace completely cutting off Yugo from his graveyard of threats. In game three, Yugo gets Greasefang, Okiba Boss on turn three to get his game plan online. Yugo’s first attack with Greasefang brought in Esika’s Chariot to flood the battlefield with cat tokens. Yugo fills his graveyard back up after destroying Jarod’s Rest In Peace. Yugo draws into an addtional Greasefang, Okiba Boss to reanimate Parhelion II to bring this game to a close 2-1.
Match three at the feature table has Greg Powell returning with Azorius Spirits against Dillion Daniels with a very traditional Azorius Control shell. Unfortunately, Greg could not build up any real threat density against Dillion’s assault of removal and counterspells. Greg was also unable to draw into any Spell Quellers which can exile game ending spells like Supreme Verdict which are unable to be countered. The exile effect Spell Queller provides side steps the unable to be countered rules interaction. Dillion locks Greg down and controls the board state until he can play Teferi, Hero of Dominaria finishing game one. Greg assails Dillion every turn bringing him down to four life. Dillion stabilizes with Starnheim Unleashed making two 4/4 angel tokens with vigilance. The vigilance of the tokens allows him to attack and block with impunity. Afer a copy of the The Wandering Emperor resolves to pump up the tokens, Dillions wins the final game for match win.
Round four has Dillion’s Azorius control defending his spot at the feature table against Raines Webster. Raines’s deck fills his graveyard up specifically to play Hooting Mandrills or Tasigur which can then be turned into an Atraxa, Grand Unifier off the card Neoform. Neoform will give Atraxa a +1/+1 counter making it an 8/8 flying, vigilance, deathtouch, lifelink and allows you to reveal the top ten cards taking one of each card type into your hand. In game one, Dillion could not draw into any of his threats and when he did, Raines was ready with countermagic. Dillion cycled through two Shark Typhoons in a row to block Atraxa, but it was a game of attrition Dillion could not win. In game two, Dillion has to mulligan but jams a Rest in Peace before Rained can get his graveyard online to delve into other creatures. Dillion then uses Field of Ruin to get rid of Darkslick Shores to cut Raines off from all his colors of mana he needs. Raines decides to put Jegantha into his hand from the Companion mechanic and cast Atraxa from hand. One of the ten cards that Raines draws into is a Thoughtseize and casts it to remove a Supreme Verdict leaving him with only a copy of The Wandering Emperor. With a hearty handshake, Raines slides underneath all of Dillion’s tempo and control cards for a 2-0 victory.
Our last feature table match features Dillion’s Azorius Contol against Michael Moore combo deck. This matchup solidifies the top four pairings for the quarterfinals. Dillion can outpace Michael’s fast mana acceleration. At every turn, Dillion halts Michael’s combo through counterspells such as Change the Equation and Render Silent. If Michael does force resolution through, his combo pieces are removed with Lay Down Arms, Fateful Absence and the exile loyalty activation off The Wandering Emperor. After Michael is soft locked out of both games, he concedes to Dillion for the final spot in the top four.
After five rounds of amazing games, the top four players chose to split the prize payout rather the continue any further rounds. Raines Webster, Kris McNeill, Jarod LaRue and Dillion Daniels rounded out today’s best competitors. This event makes me very curious to see what new and interesting brews we will see as there is more and more experimentation with the newer sets since their release. It also makes one wonder Greasefang, Okiba Boss and be usurped by Atraxa, Grand Unifier. We will see as weeks of playtesting march along with the machine.