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Quarterfinals: Quite the Handful

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Nico Bohny (Green-White Quest) vs. Naoki Nakada (Caw-Go)

“I get to play first, right?” Bohny confirmed. “It’s kind of an important part of this Game 1.”

Game 1

Unfortunately, unless he had a Squadron Hawk, having a hand full of cards could be an incredibly important part as well, and he was forced to mulligan his first hand. He started with a pair of Plains and a Quest for the Holy Relic. Nakada made a pair of Celestial Colonnades and used a couple of Preordains to dig into his deck. Bohny got his Quest going with a Squadron Hawk, ensuring that he’d have plenty of creatures to get it going. He made the decision to sit on his hand of creatures on the following turns, allowing him to get a pair of Vengevines into his graveyard.

Nico Bohny and Naoki Nakada survey a complicated board state.

Nakada made a Tumble Magnet on his turn, though he scarcely needed to use the artifact at this point in the game. Bohny had only made a single Hawk, and the 1 damage a turn wasn’t anything that truly concerned him. That was especially true when Elspeth Tirel gave him a trio of Soldiers. However, despite not playing a creature other than his first Hawk, Bohny wasn’t sitting idle. Those Vengevines came back in a big way on the following turn when he dropped a Fauna Shaman and a Memnite onto the battlefield. They swung over alongside the Squadron Hawk intent on destroying Elspeth. Nakada stopped one Vengevine with the Tumble Magnet and jumped the other in front of the other. Elspeth dropped to one.

On his turn, Nakada put a crimp in Bohny’s plans. His Sword of Feast and Famine gave one of his creatures protection from green and the ability to block a Vengevine and kill it with impunity. Bohny’s deck was capable of getting them back into play as quickly as they died, however, leading to a tense standoff between the two teams of creatures. Nakada used Elspeth to gain some life before passing the turn back to Bohny.

With Elspeth Tirel back up to three loyalty, Bohny had to eliminate her before the endless stream of tokens and life got out of control. Doing some protracted finger math on the table, Bohny came up with a plan. Squadron Hawk hit the table first, followed by a Kor Skyfisher, returning a Plains to his hand. He then declared his beginning of combat, and Nakada chose to let all his creatures through. Two Vengevines and a Squadron Hawk went at Elspeth. After Nakada declared his Soldiers blocking the Vengevines, Bohny sacrificed his Quest for the Holy Relic to find a Sword of Mind and Body, which he attached to his unblocked Hawk. Elspeth went down.

On his turn, Nakada holed up in his fort. He made another Tumble Magnet to defend his life total, leaving four mana untapped. He had no blockers for the equipped Squadron Hawk, but his Tumble Magnets could nullify it for a few turns. They did just that as Bohny declared his attackers, ultimately only sending his two other fliers at Nakada to drop him to 17. A second Fauna Shaman joined the team after combat. Nakada used his Tectonic Edge to destroy Bohny’s Razorverge Thicket, making sure that he only had access to one source of green mana. Bohny used the green from the land to discard a Squadron Hawk, grabbing a Vengevine in the process.

After untapping, Nakada made a Sun Titan, returning the only target in his graveyard: the Tectonic Edge he’d just used. He also found a Squadron Hawk, which fetched the remaining three from his deck. Now he had both Magnets and fliers to deal with Bohny’s fliers, and a Sun Titan to make sure they come back.

That’s a lotta angry birds.

Bohny thought for a while. A long while. When he declared attackers, Nakada predictably used his Tumble Magnet to tap the equipped Squadron Hawk. That left him with three total counters between his Magnets. Bohny could only send the Skyfisher at Nakada. After combat, he moved his Sword to the untapped Hawk, which Nakada immediately tapped. On his turn, Nakada seemingly locked up the game. He made a Squadron Hawk and moved his Sword to his first Hawk. He also tapped out to make a Gideon Jura, which forced all of Bohny’s creatures to attack Gideon next turn. After swinging with his Hawk and triggering the Sword’s abilities, he untapped all his lands. Bohny discarded his Vengevine to his Fauna Shaman and fetched another, which he discarded to the Sword. He now had a full set of four in his graveyard, though he had only one card in hand and things looked like they were going to be over soon. He was going to need to get lucky.

He drew his card and took a long time to think about his play. He activated his Fauna Shaman, discarding a Squadron Hawk, to grab a Kor Skyfisher, which would allow him to return and replay the Memnite he had in play still. All four Vengevines returned to the battlefield, giving him a monstrous army. When he declared his attack, Naoki set about organizing and counting the potential damage Bohny’s eight creatures could deal. He eventually decided to use a single Tumble Magnet to tap a Vengevine. Sun Titan and the equipped Soldier took down two Vengevines. Hawks traded blows. Fauna Shaman was eaten by a Colonnade. All this attack had accomplished was losing Bohny creatures and dropping Jura to two counters.

Now it was Nakada’s turn to swing back. He played all of his remaining Squadron Hawks from his hand and attacked with Sun Titan, returning the last one from his graveyard. The equipped Hawk swung in also, forcing Bohny to discard a land and untapping all of Nakada’s lands. With one card in hand, but an insurmountable lead, he passed the turn. Bohny drew his card, surveyed the board, and conceded.

Naoki Nakada 1, Nico Bohny 0

Game 2

Bohny decided to play first in the second game, and he was just as displeased with his draw this game as he was in the last. This time around, he made a Quest for the Holy Relic on the first turn, letting him get an early counter with a Fauna Shaman. Nakada had sided in a Ratchet Bomb, which made an early appearance for him. Bombing for two would be able to destroy most of the creatures in Bohny’s deck. Rather than play another creature on his turn, Bohny simply passed the turn with mana up, content to fill his graveyard with Vengevines for now. Nakada, on the other hand, used a Squadron Hawk to fill up his hand and thin his deck out some.

Bohny thought for a minute while searching through his deck before settling on the first of his Vengevines. Nakada grew his Bomb to two counters at the end of turn and then blew it on his. In response, Bohny discarded his Vengevine to fetch another. Afterwards, Nakada used a kicked Kor Sanctifiers to destroy Bohny’s quest before it could even find a second counter. After untapping, Bohny played his Vengevine from his hand, a method most people aren’t used to seeing, and attacked over for four. He followed suit on the next turn, adding a Memnite to the mix, which returned the one in his graveyard as well. Nakada had just played a Jace, the Mind Sculptor and used it to fateseal Bohny on the previous turn, so Bohny sent his entire team of Elementals at the planeswalker, destroying it before Nakada could get more than one use.

Bohny blocks the baddies.

Nakada dug out some more blockers on his turn. Squadron Hawk found the last one out of his deck, and Nakada passed the turn with four mana available. Bohny attacked Nakada directly with his three Vengevines, forcing Nakada to chump block with his two creatures. That signaled Day of Judgment. When Nakada also chose to use his Tectonic Edge to destroy Bohny’s Razorverge Thicket, it became very clear what came next.

Day of Judgment removed all of Bohny’s creatures with Nakada still at a reasonably high 12 life. He followed that up with a Squadron Hawk before passing the turn. At that point, Bohny turned it on. Two Glint Hawks, despite not having an artifact to return, hit play, going straight to the graveyard in exchange for three Vengevines. They smashed over, dropping Nakada to 4 and killing his lone blocker. After drawing his card, he succumbed to the Vengvines.

Nico Bohny 1, Naoki Nakada 1

Game 3

Bohny kept up his string of mulligans in the third game of the match, but this time he was joined by Nakada. Both players seemed resigned to their second hands. Nakada started to improve his draw with an early Preordain. Bohny found himself a second-turn Fauna Shaman. Nakada’s first contribution to the board was a Tumble Magnet that came on the following turn. Unfortunately, the Magnet couldn’t stop the Shaman from discarding a Vengevine to fetch up a quartet of Squadron Hawks, giving Bohny plenty of fodder to fill his graveyard with more Vengevines. After playing the first Hawk, Bohny also had a Memnite to bring back the first Vengevine, smashing into Nakada for 4. At first, it was unclear why Nakada hadn’t saved himself the life and tapped the Vengevine with his Magnet. When he untapped and cast Jace, the Mind Sculptor, it became clear that the planeswalker’s protection was far more important than his own. He used it to Brainstorm and passed the turn.

Bohny needed to deal with Jace, and soon. He used Fauna Shaman to discard a Vengevine, this time grabbing himself a Kor Skyfisher. That let him immediately recast Memnite and return the Vengevine, giving him two attackers capable of dealing with Jace. The Tumble Magnet stopped one, but the second Vengevine made sure he finished the planeswalker off. All of this on the board, and Bohny still had a grip full of cards.

Nakada was on the ropes. He finally found a Squadron Hawk of his own to draw some cards, but a pair of Vengevines had them severely trumped. On Bohny’s turn, he animated his Stirring Wildwood and sent his team. Tumble Magnet stopped one Vengevine, and a Squadron Hawk jumped in front of the other. Nakada dropped to 8 and a lone Hawk. Nakada spent his turn doing some serious math. After a great deal of deliberation, he played a Jace, the Mind Sculptor and used it to Brainstorm. He followed that with a second Squadron Hawk. At the end of the turn, Bohny used his Fauna Shaman to discard a Squadron Hawk and grab a Vengevine.

Bohny used his Shaman to discard the Vengevine, grabbing the final copy from his deck, which he cast immediately thereafter. Tumble Magnet tapped the first one. Bohny sent two Vengevines and a Memnite at Nakada and the Squadron Hawk and Skyfisher at Jace. Nakada’s Hawks stopped a Vengevine and the Skyfisher, dropping himself to 3 and Jace to two. Gideon Jura came down to protect Jace for a turn. Nakada also had a Squadron Hawk to shuffle his library after using Jace.

Bohny used his Shaman to fetch a Kor Skyfisher, allowing him to remove the last Vengevine from his graveyard, though he chose not to do so until after his attack. He used the Skyfisher to return his other one and then used it to return his Memnite, which he chose not to replay should he need to recover from a Day of Judgment. With the inevitable survival mechanism in place, Nakada was sunk. He drew his card and activated Jace, but conceded a few seconds after looking at his cards.

Nico Bohny 2, Naoki Nakada 1

As expected, Bohny mulliganned for the fourth game in a row. Unfortunately, he mulliganned from a no-land hand to a six-land hand. That, too, hit the deck. As did his five-card hand.

“No lands then all lands then no lands...stupid deck,” Bohny said managing a weak smile as he shuffle his deck for the fourth time.

Game 4

His four-card hand held two lands, a Fauna Shaman, and a Memnite. Not bad for a four-carder. Unfortunately, Nakada had drawn his Ratchet Bomb, giving Bohny only one shot to activate his Shaman. He also had a Stoneforge Mystic, setting up a Sword of Feast and Famine. Bohny got his search in with his Fauna Shaman, choosing to search up a Leonin Relic-Warder from his deck, taking away Nakada’s Ratchet Bomb. Despite his best efforts, he was unable to use the Shaman a second time. Nakada had a Journey to Nowhere to send the Shaman somewhere far, far away.

Nakada makes the (faux?) fur collar work for him.

Bohny set his Relic-Warder to attacking before playing a Kor Skyfisher and returning a land. Nakada built his team and hand up with a Squadron Hawk. With his Shaman now “safe,” Bohny was fine sending his Relic-Warder in to a double block, taking the Mystic with him. Nakada dropped his Sword into play before the Mystic went away, untapping and equipping it to his Squadron Hawk. A Jace, the Mind Sculptor hit the board a turn later, forcing Bohny to concede a game that had seemed doomed from the start.

Nico Bohny 2, Naoki Nakada 2

Bohny was forced to mulligan for a seventh time this match.

“That’s lots of mulligans,” he sighed as he shuffled his deck up for what seemed like the millionth time.

Game 5

After being forced to mulligan yet again, Bohny clearly looked disgusted. His five-card hand was very reminiscent of his four-carder from the previous. He managed a second-turn Fauna Shaman, this time unmet by an immediate answer from Nakada. The Japanese pro used two Preordains to go digging through his deck, though he still found no answer to Bohny’s enabler. He did manage to set things up a little for himself with a Squadron Hawk, but Bohny was able to get a better engine online, using his Shaman to fetch the first of his Vengevines.

On the following turn, Bohny was forced to a decision. He had a second Fauna Shaman in his hand, but didn’t want to risk having no recovery plan should Nakada have a Day of Judgment. After a fair bit of thought, he decided it was worth the risk and played the second Shaman. Nakada untapped and sent his Hawk in. After combat, he tapped four mana and dropped Bohny’s worst nightmare onto the table. In response to the Day of Judgment, Bohny discarded his Vengevine to search up another Fauna Shaman, giving him a way to rebuild the engine, though it would greatly delay his game plan. After replaying the Shaman, he also added a Memnite to the team, allowing his Vengevine to come back and smack Nakada for 4. Nakada drafted himself up some defense with an Elspeth Tirel. The planeswalker made him three tokens, giving him a nice little amount of breathing room.

Bohny attacked with his team, intent on killing Elspeth. Two of the Soldiers jumped in the way, one trading with the Memnite. After combat, Bohny used a Stoneforge Mystic to get himself an Argentum Armor. Likely, he as planning on using the Mystic to play it and a Kor Outfitter to equip it. Nakada was set to make things difficult, though. He made a Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Brainstormed, using a Squadron Hawk to shuffle his deck afterwards. He also used Elspeth to gain a little life, readying her to make some more tokens. At the end of Nakada’s turn, Bohny grabbed himself a Kor Outfitter.

“I see myself topdecking a Razorverge Thicket here,” Bohny said, commenting on his luck thus far this match. He still needed a fourth land of any variety, so long as it didn’t come into play tapped, to complete the play. When his deck provided him his second Argentum Armor instead, he looked far from pleased. He attacked Jace with his Vengevine, but the last remaining Soldier jumped in the way. Nakada took his turn and set up the fort. A second Squadron Hawk allowed him to shuffle after Brainstorming, while Elspeth Tirel gained him some more life. At the end of the turn, Bohny used the Mystic to put one of his Argentum Armors into play. He also discarded a Memnite to search out a Squadron Hawk, which he needed to fill up his hand.

This one’s a brain-buster all right, but is there a way out?

Bohny started his turn off by using his Kor Outfitter to fit the Argentum Armor onto the Stoneforge Mystic. He declared his attackers all at Elspeth Tirel, using the Armor to kill Jace. Two Hawks blocked the Mystic and Shaman, and Condemn took care of the Vengevine. On his turn, Nakada used Elspeth to completely clear the board. He then made a Stoneforge Mystic of his own to fetch up a Sword of Feast and Famine. Bohny had nothing he could do and conceded the match to Nakada.

Naoki Nakada defeats Nico Bohny 3-2 and advances to the semifinals!

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