Hello and welcome everyone to my next article. There was another tournament happening, this time a big one, in Prague. I’m obviously writing about the 15Th Prague Duel Commander in Vinohradský Pivovar. I will also try to make this write-up in English. We had more foreign players this time (also more players in general, despite the COVID) than before, so I will also try to have more „foreign friendly“ articles in the future. It is also my first english write-up in a pretty long time of this size, so I apologise ahead for any mistakes I make along the way.
Despite being the first big Prague tournament since the lockdown and having some problematic decks in the meta right now, we had wonderfull 90 players attending. To my knowledge, it was the player-count wise biggest Duel Commander tournament in the Czech Republic yet.
When deciding what to play, I opted for a safer, more consistent option to answer the meta rather than adhere to it. At least It seemed so in the moment. I went with Tevesh, the Doom of Fools/Miara, Thorn of the glade. I packed the list with removal and other interaction in the form of discard and instant speed gravehate. I soon did regret that decision. In hindsight, I should go with Inalla, which along with Ragavan was either the deck to beat or the deck to play. I also enjoyed playing the deck a lot and had already some tournament succes before: https://www.mtgtop8.com/event?e=31384&d=443441&f=EDH.
But more about the deck in question. I’ve decided to cut the whole „big mana“ package, including Coffers and any expensive spells other similar decks play. My point was to maximize on interaction and reduce the amount of dead cards in opening hand as possible. My main wincons in the deck were, outside of Tevesh himself, Contamination lock and Sedgemoor Witch/Chain of Smog combo. I’ve already wrote about similar deck and wincons in a report before: https://dragon-world.cz/tournament-report-6-6-uvaly/.
The gameplan with this deck is to survive early game with cheap interaction/Miara and estabilish a dominant, snowbally board presence including Tevesh. From that point the victory tends to be only a matter of time, either by stealing opponent’s commanders with Tevesh, drowning them in card advantage, or finishing the game with the lock/combo. I though I was well prepared for the decks that were popular at the time. The reality was quite different. But more about that below.
Match 1. Ragavan
First game I was seated to the farthest corner of the venture. So it took my opponent a while to find me. We also missed few minutes from the start, because it was impossible to hear the beginning of the round. Anyway, I soon learned I face the meta menace right from the start. My odds didn’t improve with initial mulligan into potent, but pretty slow hand. I am under pressure from Ragavan and Goblin Guide from the second turn, but to my luck, my opponent cannot find his second land. Hits me twice with the monkey, and manages to flip useless kill spell and then Duress. Decides to play something else, which is definitely a mistake from my point of view. I am happy to draw a swamp, so I can play Castle Lochtwain untapped and with a little help from Dark Ritual lay down Tevesh T3. I make tokens, and block than kill opponents aggresion while he still can’t find second land. I am on a way to inevitably dominate, so opponent concedes.
Second game opponent, unfortunately for him, mulls to five. Fortunately for me, I manage to Ritual into Tevesh turn three again and proceed to take control of the game. With hardcasted Grief and Sedgemoor Witch, I go into offensive while getting rid of all his threats and end the game soon after.
Match 2. Saskia
I full expected Dominik to play Inalla, so Saskia made for a kind of pleasant surprise. I agree with my opponent that it is a favorable matchup for me. I keep a great hand and Fatal Push into boardwipe his creatures away. I have enough answers, just lack fifth landdrop to deploy Tevesh. Instead, I have a Bloodghast and Shadowspear combo to get me enough life to not be in any danger of dying. I finally get Tevesh, while opponent sees no probable path to victory.
Second game I manage to lose by blocking incorrectly into an exact lethal. I kinda forgot how fast can Saskia kill. I could have survived one more turn, but that would unlikely made any difference. This time I didn’t have much anything to stop the offensive.
Third game I try to stabilize by killing mana elf with my sole removal. Kitesail Freebooter takes the only burn spell. I crumble under pressure, while holding Demonic Intent and Chain of Smog. I have all the tools, but not enough time. If it was Demonic Tutor instead, I would have probably won. Instead, I have to find a boardwipe to not lose, and even if I manage to play Tevesh next turn, opponents topdeck finishes me off.
Match 3. Tevesh/Prava
Next round I face a deck that can be for all intents and purposes considered a mirror. Since my deck is tailored to kill aggro, I feel slightly disfavored. Those games tend to boil down to whoever manages to land and keep Tevesh in play.
First game, the opponent has Lake of the Dead. That means he basically has seven mana since turn 3 for the rest of the game. Tevesh and Liliana, Dreadhorde General draws so many cards, that I possibly cannot keep the pace.
Opponent’s great draw won’t transition into the second game, where he has neither any white mana, nor fifth mana source to play Tevesh. Now it is me who proceeds to steamroll. I encounter some opposition in Hymn to Tourach and killing my Tevesh, but it is not enough. When it appears my opponent would finally draw white mana, I play Contamination just to be sure. When Tevesh ultimately manages to see play on the other side, I have a Vindicate stolen by Gonti. Ultimating my Tevesh seals the deal.
We had sub 10 minutes for the third game. And although I get the upper hand, it is not enough time to make infinite pests to finish the game in the last five turns.
Match 4. Tevesh/Miara
I was definitely not happy seeing I face another mirror, this time the exact one. Actually not quite, since I’ve decided to built towards fighting aggro so much, I lack the late game power and threat density I expect from the more traditional list. That said, I was still prepared to give it my best. Despite the fact I find myself disfavored even now, the games were the best and closest ones I played that day.
I remember I had Dauthi Voidwalker early in the first game. I would say it is very powerful in the matchup, both as an unblockable check for opponent’s Tevesh and a sort of grave hate for Miara and other shinanigans. Meanwhile, my opponent naturally has his Cabal Coffers. That means he is both faster in his Tevesh deployment and can better leverage the sooner gained card advantage. My plan of aggroing out with Dauthi dies when I fail to find an answer to Wurmcoil Engine. The game is still very close though, we both draw a lot of extra cards and wrestle continuously over who gets to keep their Tevesh.
Due to opponents mana advantage, I am soon getting outclassed. I am partially saved by a mistake- opponents attacks into Tevesh with Rankle, thinking he gets to force me to sacrifice my Sedgemoor Witch. Fortunately that does not work, so the Witch gets to live another turn. That happened to be crucial, because I got to draw almost ten cards with Thrull tokens, pests and Skullclamp. One of the cards I hit was a tutor, and having my opponent fully tapped out, I go for the Chain combo. Opponent begins to frantically search for an answer. He draws a lot of cards, and the last possible one happened to be a tutor as well. So following pest genocide leaves me with infinite life (fortunately didn’t have enough mana to find and play Ugin). He concedes, having almost zero chance to win anymore.
Next game I topdecked a dream play for the first turn- I kept Grief, and drawn Malakir Rebirth. That means I had a 3/2 menace from the first turn, while stripping opponents hand of two relevant threats, one of which being Emrakul, „the Legal One“. Despite the awesome start, I am stumbling with mana failing to have the oh so relevant fifth landdrop. The Grief fails to kill the opponent very closely. Leaving him low on life, but still pretty much out of danger. I don’t have any pressure to follow it up, and opponents happily tutors for Coffers and runs away with mana once again. I have a possibility of keeping instant speed gravehate at ready, but I failed to see the „fetch into Witch’s Cottage on end step into returning Emrakul I discarded in the first turn“ line. The controlled turn pretty much seals the deal for me.
Third game I happily keep hand with Skullclamp, and play it before I can lose it to discard. I plan on using it to gain the decisive card advantage from the very first turns, so I find Blooghast to combo it with. Sadly, after my first draw, opponents happens to have Dauthi on his own. That completely wrecks this tactic. And as an insult to injury, I inexplicably fail to have any answer for the creature, despite having deck filled to brim with removals. I manage to wipe the board eventually, but the damage has already been done.
Opponents at the time already outdraws me with a mana advatage and online Tevesh in play. Also my lifetotal is pretty low. I am still putting up a fight, killing Tevesh and drawing like a devil with my own. The end of the round is very near. I realise my best bet is to stall until the likely tie. We get into the additional turns, and I play a lot of discard to strip opponents hand of any ways to close the game, one of witch was an Emrakul. This time, to my dismay, opponent topdecks Witch’s Cottage, which once again somehow returns the eldrazi back on top. There it sits happily for a while, ready to be drawn with Tevesh and played immidiately. On my controlled turn, I get another hit from the Magic Gods- „I draw“ a Bone Shards, which my opponent commands me to kill my own Tevesh with, discarding a card in the process. That unfortunately cuts my options very short, limiting my capabilities to deal with Emrakul on my last turn. That is how I lose in the very last possible moment, dying to Emrakul, resulting in the total loss of the match.
Match 5. Atraxa
My new opponent seemed pretty discouraged, seeing my generals. Claimed to not play a lot lately and not liking much the current metagame. Ironically, it kind of reflected my mood in the moment, after the last match. The deck was a generic goodstuff control, so I didn’t feel quite undefeatable, how my opponent proclaimed. On the opposite side of the table, Teferi, Time Raveler quickly emerges along Parallax Wave, but Atraxa keeps getting killed. I once again slightly struggle with my fifth landdrop, but once Tevesh arrives, he undisputably runs away with the game for me.
Teferi makes appereance in the second game too, this time having a much worse impact for me. He is accompanied by Tangle Wire, that makes me unable to play anything. Atraxa appears shortly after, putting me in combination with my severe manascrew in a very uncomfortable position. I fortunately happen to play Liliana of the Dark Realms, right before I got locked. That means Atraxa is forced to hit her instead of me in half the tempo. It lasts a few turns, and poor Liliana is beaten up eventually, but ultimately I manage to find my lands. I first kill Teferi, risking another Atraxa hit and bringing me very low. Step by step, I slowly break free out of the lock and estabilish a dominant position, how only the Tevesh can do.
Match 6. Aminatou
Having pretty much zero chances of getting to top8, I accept another bad matchup with a stoic calm. The deck apparently resigns as well, giving me a mulligan into very mediocre hand, with multiple dead cards. I got one thing going for me, I have a discard spell T1. The following choice will not make me any happier- either I take Enlightened Tutor, or Wishclaw Talisman. I take the Talisman, as a more potent tutor. Opponent suprises me by tutoring a Firja’s Retribution. That is a trouble, since as a monoblack deck, I have a very limited options in a enchantment removal territory. I play Feed the Swarm, but the angel tokens would end me in the meantime. I at least get to play the two otherwise useless boardwipe spells, before succumbing to the inevitable end by a token swarm.
Second game the story repeats itself, slightly different but still the same in the end. Opponent estabilished an early card advantage engine with a Baleful Strix, and when I 1for2 myself with a kill spell, he plays Wall of Omens. My every attempt at playing threats fails, I never find any reasonable answer for Aminatou, I even stumble on the crucial fifth landdrop. Tevesh gets obviously countered and I have not much to contest the game with anymore. We agree that the game is pretty much over at this point and we both decide to finally get some meal.
Match 7. Galia
It was pretty ironic I got finally an aggro matchup in the last round. I try to focus on the simple and tried plan- to stall into Tevesh. I keep a lot of removal, so not much survives on the opposite side of the board, and then topdeck a Dark Ritual. That means trouble for an aggro deck with almost no current board presence. The concession afterwards was swift.
The second game I have a lot less answers, but a T1 discard. I take a burn spell and kill some creature to slow down the beats. I have no answer for Rampaging Ferocidron that arrive right after that. The only thing I can do is to play Tevesh and token up, which leaves me pretty damn low on life, thanks to the dinosaurus. I didn’t manage to find any relevant follow up and die a turn later.
My last game of the day is firmly in my grasp from almost the very start. Opponent runs his Loyal Apprentice into Miara in order to trigger Galia. That only results in him discarding Ankh of Mishra, that might provide him with enough reach to close out the game. Instead, I land Sedgemoor Witch, which helps me process few pests with Culling the Weak and Diabolic Intent. The product was a Contamination into an almost empty board and Tevesh next turn seals the deal.
The end result is a very mediocre score for my tastes. The deck was good, it had potential to finish way better. I have to blame my final score on the bad luck in matchups. The bottom line is, I should not try to metagame, but instead play Inalla for the last time. I still enjoyed the event a lot though, and would like to thank the judges and organisators for their fine job. I am looking forward to next events and a growth of our Duel Commander community.
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