Feature Match Round 8: John Larkin vs. Amiel Tenembaum

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After a long day’s Magic, both Amiel Tenembaum and John Larkin find themselves at 7-0 with a chance to make it through to day two undefeated. With their places in the top 64 certain, there’s no point taking a draw and a win would put either player one step closer to Sunday’s top eight.

John is playing Goblins whilst Amiel is playing Red and White Slide. If John gets a good start Amiel will have tough time stabilising but with Lightning Rift and Starstorm he’s got as good a chance as anyone to stop John.

John won the die roll with a 19 and chose to play. Both players kept their opening hands and John cast the first spell, a turn two Goblin Piledriver. Next turn he cycled a Gempalm Incinerator to find a third land, attack with the piledriver and dropped a Goblin Sledder. Amiel cycled an Incinerator of his own to kill the Sledder and spent his turn playing out a morph.

With Amiel tapped out, John took the opportunity to cast a Goblin Warchief and came in for five. Amiel hoped for a fourth land to unmorph his Angel but could only find a Forgotten Cave and swung in for just two and used his mana to play an Astral Slide.

For a second turn John could cast what he liked without fear of Instants and cast two Sharpshooters, shot the morph and attacked with all of his men, dropping Amiel to three life! Amiel had an answer in his turn with a Starstorm for two clearing the board and passing the turn back to John.

John could only add a Sledder to his side of the table before passing and Amiel had a much better spell: Lightning Rift. Even so, with Amiel on only three, John’s next spell – Rorix Bladewing – was nothing to sniff at but Amiel had a cycling card to remove it from the game and shot the Sledder with his Rift.

For the next few turns John attacked and Amiel used Slide to remove it and Rift to deal two more damage to John as John let cards collect in his hand. Finally Amiel cast a second Rift and John, knowing his time was just about up, played out a Warchief and a Sharpshooter. In response to the Sharpshooter Amiel cycled a card and removed Rorix and shot the Warchief and John for another two, dropping him to only eight. With two more cycling cards in his hand the first game was his.

Amiel took out a lot of his more expensive spells to bring in cheaper, anti-Goblin cards. Out came his four Decree of Justice, three Dragons a Wrath and a Decree of Annihilation for four Silver Knights, a Wipe Clean, Akroma, a Temple of the False God and two Shocks. John bought in Menacing Ogres, Searing Flesh and Thoughtbound Primoc, taking out a few Incinerators and less useful Goblins.

Game two was a very different story told entirely by Mr John Larkin. A turn two Piledriver was joined by a Warchief on turn three and a Propector on turn four. Amiel could only cast an Astral Slide and sit back and watch as John cast a Menacing Ogre. With Amiel on only seven life he couldn’t afford to win with a two or a one, and so chose zero. John chose 1, lost a life and attacked with his 5/5 guy, a Piledriver and Warchief for the win.

Amiel took time to board one more Dragon back in, needing to make sure he had two White mana for his Silver Knights, and asked John about the Ogre. “You didn’t pick zero,” and explained his situation and that John won even if Amiel picked a one or two because of the trample damage. “I like 5/5 guys,” was John’s reply “I wanted him. I got excited.”

They shuffled up for game three but this time both players went to six cards before they started. Amiel’s turn three Silver Knight was the first play and John replied with a Thoughtbound Primoc, which could fly right over the top of the Protection from Red blocker. The next turn Amiel cast a Lightning Rift and attacked for two and John played out a Clickslither and attacked back for five. Amiel wisely left his Knight back to block and passed to John, who added a Siege Gang Commander to his team and attacked with Clickslither and Primoc. Amiel blocked the Insect with his Knight and John pumped it, losing a Goblin before Amiel cast a newly drawn Wing Shards, killing both attackers.

Amiel cycled a card and killed the Commander and one token Goblin, leaving John with one, 1/1 guy and attacked with his Knight, leaving himself defenceless. John cast a Menacing Ogre and both players guessed at two taking John to 14 and Amiel to 13 and attacked for six. All Amiel could do was play out a Temple of the False God and cast a Slide in his turn but John cast another top spell: Rorix Bladewing. Amiel had a cycling card to keep himself alive, removed Rorix from the game and shot a Goblin but still took three trample damage to four.

Amiel attacked for two again, and on John’s turn cast Starstorm for five, killing Rorix and the Orge, hoping to give himself a little breathing space. John didn’t oblige though, casting a Siege Gang Commander but, with only two spare mana, he could only shoot Amiel for two, down to two life. Amiel returned a Dragon to his hand and cycled it Sliding out a token and shooting the Commander. John had one final threat, a Menacing Ogre and both players bid one life, taking Amiel to only one and, with no cycling card to remove the Orge, John attacked for the win.

John wins 2-1.

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