As promised, my third game of T1 on Friday with Gabe needs its own article! Without further ado…
Friday – Type 1 2-Player: Game 3
Game 3: 5-4 loss against Gabe Isbell
Here’s the background: Both Gabe and I had a strong Round 1 win, followed by a tough Round 2 loss to a strong opponent (Gabe lost to Noah Wagenknecht, who made Top Cut). At this point, we are both sitting at 1-1 with a positive differential, looking to get back to winning. It was definitely a turning point for both of us. There were strong plays on both sides, as well as a few crucial misplays on both sides that ended up to be overly punishing.
Our opening hands reveal souls for me and none for Gabe. I choose to draw instead of play – by far my preferred option, with few exceptions. Gabe puts an artifact face down and attacks with Moses (CoW). I don’t have a big body to throw in front of him, so I use Falling Away (CoW) for the block. I draw 3 and find Unholy Writ, which I activate. I play out The Gates of Hell and The Throne of David and pass it back to Gabe. He draws 3 but finds no souls for me. Moses’ Parents go into play and Gabe attacks with Moses again. I use Unholy Writ and ask him if he has a negate. He says no, so Moses is captured. I believe his face-down artifact was Captured Ark.
My turn again. The D3 finds Mayhem, and I have a good number of characters I can play down. I play all my characters, including King Jehoahaz. This was a mistake that should have cost me later, except both Gabe and I missed it. Mayhem nets me 4 extra cards, puts Gabe down to 6 from 8, and produces some souls for me to rescue. Gabe makes a comment about forgetting to put some heroes down on his prior turn. I also find King Amaziah and Valley of Salt in my new hand, and I already have The Throne of David in play, so I attack with Amaziah. Gabe doesn’t block, and I’m up 1-0.
Gabe’s turn. D3, then attack with The Angel Under the Oak. Gabe searches out Samuel (RoA) from deck, who then searches out David the Psalmist from deck. He draws 4 extra cards from this as well. Gabe looks at the top 3 of deck via David’s ability and takes some time deciding whether to topdeck or underdeck them. I can’t remember which choice he makes. I have King of Tyrus and Prince of this World in play, but I am guessing Gabe might have Faith of Moses’ Parents in hand, which can actually beat either of my characters. I decide to block with Prince, then play Christian Martyr on David the Psalmist in hopes Gabe has nothing to play on Samuel. Well, it turns out he does! Gabe plays Faith of Gideon and makes his Silly Women fight my King Jehoahaz. (Neither of us notice that Jehoahaz has a mandatory capture of King Amaziah here…) Silly Women has initiative, so Gabe plays Confusion, naming my Son of God. He looks at my hand and searches my deck as well as rid me of SoG, so any “surprise” cards I might have been hoping to play for value based on Gabe not expecting them have gone out the window. Gabe then plays Grapes of Wrath on Jehoahaz to shuffle his Silly Women. Back to the main battle, where I get the result I want: Samuel has nothing else to play and dies.
The next few turns are an enigma as I look back. The combination of Mayheming away some of Gabe’s heroes he didn’t put in play on turn 2, plus eliminating Moses, Samuel, and David the Psalmist, seems to have shut off Gabe’s offense. He still has Moses’ Parents in territory, but they aren’t attacking. And since I have King Amaziah with the ultimate support in Throne and VoS, I can push him into battle each turn without worry. Surprisingly, Gabe isn’t putting a body in front of Amaziah either. I walk in for redeemed souls 2 and 3 while Gabe passes his turns. On my fourth rescue with Amaziah, Gabe blocks with King of Tyrus. I draw 1 off of Throne and play VoS to underdeck KoT, but Gabe plays Christian Martyr.
On my next turn, the score is still 3-0. I have another crucial decision to make. I have a well-established defense in territory now: KoT, Prince of this World, Wandering Spirit, and Controlling Demon (I). My battlewinner in hand is Authority of Christ promo. Not really thinking about the fact that I no longer have Son of God, I decide that I am far enough ahead that I should be aggressive. I attack with Abigail. Gabe blocks with Gomer banded to King Saul (CoW). Taking one last mournful look at my Orange characters, I play the boat for redeemed soul 4. In hindsight, I’ve gone back to this decision so many times and debated if I should have held AoCP back. However, I didn’t know Gabe had Sword of the Spirit (CoW) or Word of Their Testimony in deck – so he definitely had ways to get past my demons. Plus, he hadn’t played Son of God or Angel of the Lord yet either. In the end, I think it was the best play.
It’s around this time that Gabe starts attacking, and I play Angel of the Lord in a battle to get a tapped Liner. This part of the game is a little fuzzy, probably due to the massive misplay I’m about to make. Lost a bit of my short-term memory with that one! On one of my draw 3s, I find The Second Coming. Instinct takes over with me already at 4 and not having played SoG. I promptly play TSC and declare that I am searching my deck for Son of God. Gabe, who was looking at his hand, immediately looks up at me and asks “You are searching for Son of God?” The way he says it makes me immediately think something is wrong, and then the memory of the side battle comes crashing back. At this point, I haven’t searched my deck yet, but I’m not thinking very well either. AotL is in my discard pile, but I search my deck anyways and find no good Dominants left.
Soon afterwards – perhaps the same turn – I defeat Gabe’s EC in battle while I am at 4 and a tapped liner is in Gabe’s LoB. Expecting the game to be over, I watch as Gabe calmly plays Falling Away (Women) before granting me my soul, and the game is extended.
With my best evil characters relaxing in my discard pile, Gabe is attacking successfully now. He attacks with The Strong Angel. I’ve got the CBP LS in play, so I decide to block with Spirit of Temptation, as I’m holding Sinning Hand in hand. I accidentally grab Sinning Hand instead, to which Gabe points out that Sinning Hand isn’t an evil character. I make the switch, but Gabe plays Angel of the Lord on SoT. It’s 4-1 or 4-2 now.
My turn. I draw 3 and try to find a way to get that 5th soul. I decide that AUTO to Gideon (J) is my best bet. I don’t have Sam’s Edict yet, but I do have Taking Egypt’s Wealth. If Gabe doesn’t have a chump block (which I actually don’t give nearly enough consideration to, seeing as how a tapped Liner is in his LoB), then he has to block me high and give me initiative. TEW can win the battle at that point. I push with AUTO and exchange to Gideon, choosing not to draw in case Gabe has Foreign Wives. Gabe blocks with Damsel with Spirit of Divination and looks at my hand. TEW plus a Purple card gives Gabe a D2. Gabe grants me initiative, so I play TEW. Looking at Gabe’s hand, I see Death of Unrighteous… and Suicidal Swine Stampede. I know that I can’t stop them both. While looking at Gabe’s hand, he points out that he actually drew one of those two cards with Damsel’s D2, so if he hadn’t hit it, I would actually have been able to win the battle with TEW. I also see a Haman’s Plot, which is actually tempting since I have Prince of Persia (Disciples) and Foreign Wives in my deck, but the thought of ripping someone else’s card is just revolting. I take Suicidal Swine Stampede since I still have a few demons. Gabe plays DoU, and I watch my chances of winning get shuffled back into Gabe’s deck.
On Gabe’s turn, he puts the nail in the coffin. He finally activates that artifact that was sitting face down all game. It’s Captured Ark, and it shuffles my Household Idols away. Gabe then plays Hypocrisy and puts my heroes back in hand, then plays Mayhem to clear my hand. He closes it out with one more attack along with his SoG/TSC.
After the game, I ask Gabe why he didn’t block King Amaziah for 3 turns in a row. Gabe confirms that each time, his only evil character was either Foreign Wives or Silly Women and he didn’t want to let me draw 7 cards. He chose to trust his deck, knowing that he had more time due to me not having SoG anymore. Gabe also said that I would have won if I had searched for Angel of the Lord with TSC, and I think he is correct. If I had AotL to play on Damsel, I believe that would have done the trick, as I was at 4, Gabe’s liner was tapped, and he had already played Falling Away.
In the end, I’m actually glad that I lost. Gabe proved that his deck had what it takes to win T1 Nationals, and my next 4 games proved that my deck was decidedly mediocre. Also, the few turns after my Mayhem must have given Gabe extremely poor draws. It was an intense and crazy game – definitely more than enough drama and adrenaline for that Friday! I’ll recap Saturday and my TEAMS experience in my next article.
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