Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A New Breed of EDH Tournament - Commander Triathlon


As I mentioned in my previous article, there was a Commander tournament held at New Game in Town in DeKalb, IL.  Now, I live in Chicago, but I have family out there (as in, my whole family) and a good chunk of us play EDH. 

I go to the EDH tournaments at New Game in Town if I can - usually they had been a three week league system with achievement based points.  Though it was fun, the achievement system was easy to break, especially when you build deck designed to stay in the game and perform ridiculous combos to get the points.

This time around was different though.  This time, the tournament was a Triathlon style Iron-man competition - three rounds of Commander brutality to choose a winner.

Round 1 was a four player Free-For-All where the winner of the pod gets 3 points, second place gets 2, third 1, and fourth 0.  Round 2 was a random-seated doubles game where the team mates would sit diagonally from the other team mate and kabitzing was strictly prohibited.  The winning team would get 2 points each, the losing 0.  The third and final round was a Swiss 1v1 duel.  The winner would get another 2 points, the loser would again get 1.

First place was to be awarded the From the Vault: Legends set, second place 13 boosters, and third place 4 boosters.

Sideboards were surprisingly left out of the tournament, and they went with a Partial Paris mulligan.

There were 8 total contestants in the tournament -

- My Omnath
- my brother Kelsey's Glissa
- my brother Brennan's Phelddagrif
- Ruhan
- Eladamri
- Ghave
- Uril
- Scion of Ur Dragon

In round 1, I was podded with both Brennan and Kelsey, as well as this dude Rick with the Ruhan deck.  Ruhan took the early game as the rest of us built up slowly (no one had a terribly good start) and put both me and Kelsey in the Red Zone on his General Damage.  Luckily, our control pieces came up before he randomly rolled to kill any of us again, and we all managed to survive the deadly whim of the Giant Warrior.

After the Ruhan threat had been effectively neutralized by mid game, my Omnath deck had taken over the board - I had somewhere around 20 permanents in play and was poised to win the game on the next turn - until the treacherous Glissa dropped a Mindslaver, that is.  Kelsey would use the Mindslaver, combined with my massive board, two wipe out both Brennan and Rick in one go; he would activate my Garruk, Primal Hunter, which he re-grew with an Eternal Witness, targeting my 105/105 Omnath for an instant decking.

Despite coming in second place, I count the game as a personal victory for Omnath.

In round 2, I was teamed with the Uril deck against Glissa and Phelddagrif.  I forget the name of the guy who played the Uril deck, but he was nice enough.  The problem - his deck was lower-mid tier at best, and had sub-par mana fixing.  I got a strong start, as did Glissa, though the 'Grif and Uril did very little most of the game.  Glissa destroyed everything I played and stuck a Seedborn Muse, and I left the game being beaten down by both players as my team mate used his 5 lands to put a Vitu Ghazi token into play.  My team mate had suffered no damage by the time I was knocked out of the game, and he was knocked out 2 turns later (ok, the Phelddagrif deck Mirrari'd a Time Stretch, so technically it was 6 turns later.)

It was a very frustrating experience, getting hammered by two players while my team mate sat there cursing at his lack of Red mana.  Though this was my least favorite part of this tournament, I can see the usefulness in a tag team round like this.  I will discuss the ramifications of the tournament in a bit though.

In the third round, I was playing for fourth place against the Ruhan deck again.  I got a killer starting hand - Mana Vault, 2 Forests, a Winding Canyon and Primeval Titan, plus two other cards I can't recall.  Turn 3 Prime Tits grabbed me Yavimaya Hollows and Mystifying Maze.  He tried to battle against the rampant ramping, but made a huge mistake by casting Day of Judgment into an open Hollows.  Ruhan and his Brass Squire died to the DoJ, the Primeval Titan - not so much. 

Won that one.  Kinda surprised, since Ruhan is best at 1v1, and I was more than worried about the match up.

Glissa fought for first place with the Ghave deck, but Ghave prevailed in the end, leaving my brother in second place.

So I ended up in fourth place, just out of reach of any prizes.  Here is the final standings -

1st - Ghave
2nd - Glissa, the Traitor
3rd - Eladamri
4th - Omnath
5th - Ruhan
6th - Phelddagrif
7th - Uril
8th - Scion of Ur-Dragon

I enjoyed the format of the tournament immensely, even with the aggravating team round.  I could have easily been paired with a good team mate, so I am not going to dwell on that.

Overall, I think the Triathlon style balanced the decks out - none of the best decks in Commander are broken in a FFA, Team, and Duel match all at once, and to get a deck that is built to perform in all three, you will have to lower its power in just one of the three.  It was far more enjoyable than the League tournaments or the other EDH events I've played in, and I would highly suggest it to anyone running a tourney. 

It was good times, good times.

Thanks for reading!

Cassidy Silver