Last night's EDH session was a short, but sweet one. While 2 of our number couldn't make it due to illness and prior obligations respectively, the remaining three of us had enough time to get in two matches that left me feeling satisfied by the end of it.
The first match had me bring a new Voltron/Token/Aristocrats-y deck I built, based on Grismold, the Dreadsower, after seeing it perform during the game against Hapatra from last week. My opponents were Zada, Hedron Grinder and my friend's Uzra, Lord High Artificer deck we affectionately call "Swordbot".
Since my commander had the lowest CMC, and nobody was drawing into enough ramp to accelerate their mana, I was the first to get my commander online, deploying him on turn 3. On turn 4, I had begun to set my engine into motion by casting Pestilence. This derailed the Zada players plans, because they had intended to use their Goblin Rabblemaster to create an arm of tokens that could be pumped using Zada's effect. Instead, those tokens swung in harmlessly into plant tokens to pump up Grismold. And if they weren't blocked, I would simply pay one black mana to kill them all. Even once Urza had come online by deploying their command and equipment for the construct token, things were looking good for me.
After taking a swing at Urza as a show of force and to hopefully deal with him before he snowballed into a threat, and connecting without being blocked, I thought my victory was practically guaranteed. Then, to mount a defense, they played Phyrexian Metamorph as a copy of my Grismold, which meant they could block and kill my commander when combined with their construct. Fortunately, I had a solution that would set me back slightly, but still deal with the problem: Journey to Eternity.
Though it set me back to a base 3/3 power, I could now continue to safely swing into my big opponent while taking a couple of potshots from Zada's more resilient forces like Guttersnipe and Dreadhorde Arcanist. That's when Urza played Akroma's Memorial, with the intention of setting up an impregnable defense against my Grismold with my own plant tokens. The problem with a card like that, though, is that is dies to removal, specifically my Acidic Slime. And with one last Grismold swing, it was down to a 1v1 between me and Zada.
Sadly, due to both my own Pestilence and Zada's swings, I was hurting on life. Using 4 of my remaining 6, I cleared the board one more time hoping to draw into some of my lifegain. That didn't come to pass, and Zada managed to take me out one turn away from my victory by swinging in with their commander, a few tokens which I had intended to chump block with a few of my own, and using a few pump spells like Brute Force and Run Amok to overpower me and win the game. It was a close and well fought match which could have gone either way.
Our second and final round had me switching off to the other deck I had created for the night, a Cat tribal build starring Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist. On one of the opposing corners of the table stood the partner pair of Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper and Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist. The other corner was taken by Pretty Fly for a Sai Guy.
The game started innocently enough. Sai was the first to get anything on the board with Chief Engineer, which would set them up nicely for turns to come. Similarly, the partners would do the same with Bloom Tender. I wouldn't get anything on the board until turn three, with Mirri.
Once Mirri was online, I could set my gameplan into motion. While I had no blockers to stop the partners' Varchild, Betrayer of Kjeldor, I honestly didn't want to. The Survivor tokens would come in handy when combined with Mirri. Though they couldn't swing back at their creator, they would help me chip away at Sai. And while that process was underway, I had managed to play Smothering Tithe to help accumulate extra mana that would prove necessary for the turns to come.
If it weren't for Mirri, I would have been in serious danger, because the partners were starting to get on board with Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder and Wasitora, Nekoru Queen. Were it not for Rogue's Passage, I would have been unable to safely swing into their board.
And yet, the Sai player had an even more impressive board state. Using the convoke ability of Chief Engineer, Sai's own ability, and cards like Efficient Construction and Chief of the Foundry, they had amassed a truly impressive army of thopters. Throwing in Sharding Sphinx for more thopters and Padeem, Consul of Innovation for hexproof just made the army even more formidable. Were in not for Mirri, I would have been in deep trouble. As it stood, the partners were Sai's only real target, so they directed the majority of their aggression in that direction...
...which was exactly how I was hoping things would turn out. Once the partners had been dealt with, I set out on my own grizzly work. With no mana to spend or cards left to play for my remaining opponent, I played Austere Command to destroy their artifacts along with both Sai and the Chief Engineer. With Unbreakable Formation, I was able to both protect and enhance my board in the process, using up all of my treasures in the maneuver. In truth, I had the combo in my hand since the first turn, but since Sai was doing all the heavy lifting for me, I gladly allowed them to build up their armies.
No cards left in hand, and their board destroyed, leaving me completely free to swing in, Sai quickly surrendered. I won with a Cat tribal deck despite only having played a single cat the whole game.
Both decks performed as well as I had hoped they would, and I'm happy to see that. I don't usually run decks that focus so heavily on swinging in, so this was a nice change of pace.