You guys might be wondering what the games looked like when I piloted Tergrid which got her to the Top 8. Here’s the round-by-round recap of the games and I hope you enjoy it as I try to visualize the match for you!
Round 1, vs Neil Velasquez piloting UW Control.
The first few turns, like many control mirrors, are filled with exciting draw-go moments. Unfortunately, Neil stumbled a few turns failing to get some lands which were of course, good for us. I initially thought he was running Esper and was waiting for a black source to cast Tainted Indulgence. But no, he was just stuck at 3 mana. A Thoughtseize revealed several copies of The Wandering Emperor and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria on hand making discarding any of them useless. So I picked up a Censor so he can’t cycle that to dig for his land.
When I got to my fifth land, I cast a God-Eternal Bontu and passed the turn. My opponent got his fourth land and left them perfectly aligned and untapped. I know the Emperor won’t be wandering for long when I turn my Bontu sideways on my turn. Indeed, that was what happened.
Thankfully, Bontu loves wandering too. The moment he got exiled, he crept back into my deck third from the top waiting to be summoned again. The smoke cleared, Neil was at 22 and I got no creatures. Till I draw my Bontu back, 2/2 Samurais were hitting me while Neil struggled to find his fifth land to cast Teferi. A Hero’s Downfall took the first Emperor down, only for Bontu to summon down the second Emperor and we did that tuck-dance all over again and me getting hit by that pesky Samurai.
You might be asking what happened to Teferi? Sadly, I drew my single copy of Thought Distortion and left Neil hellbent, facing down a Bontu on my side of the board. After a few swings, Neil was down to 10, and a big Torment of Hailfire closed game 1.
-3 Shadows Verdict
-4 Fatal Push
-2 Erebos Intervention
+1 Thought Distortion
+3 Noxious Grasp
Game 2 on the draw but with a turn 1 Thoughtseize revealed the same cast and crew of Absorb, Deluge, Emperor, and lands. Following the initial Thoughtseize with a Go Blank, it got Absorbed and a Wandering Emperor game down. What I love about Noxious Grasp in the sideboard is that it hits so many high-value permanents in Pioneer, not just in UW Control. Targets like Greasefang, Parhelion, Thalia’s Lieutenant, Kiora, Cavalier of Thorns, Teferi Sunset, and many more.
Of course, The Wandering Emperor died to Noxious Grasp but not without a 2/2 Samurai, joined by Neil’s companion, Kaheera, taking me down to 7 life. Sadly I took most of my spot removal out like Fatal Pushes and Shadow’s Verdict but good thing Invoke Despair put the kids to bed emptying the board and drawing me back some cards.
Liliana graced Neil and me with her presence in game 2 to strip Neil’s hand slowly. Good thing I didn’t pop her on 6 because Neil had Summary Dismissal waiting resetting her to 1 loyalty counter. I wanted Liliana to win the game for me but I’d take a victory off of Tergrid’s Lantern any day, dismissing Neil in 3 back to back activations. 1-0.
Round 2, vs Michae Cubillas piloting Esper Greasefang
I didn’t expect a Greasefang enemy that opened with Watery Grave and Raffine’s tower but it didn’t take long for me to see what I was fighting when Michael threw a Parhelion to the graveyard with Faithful Mending.
This game however got technical very quickly. Michael had a Greasefang on the battlefield that I can’t seem to answer. Taking 4 a turn, he brought me down to 12 very quickly while he was trying to dig for his Parhelion (which I think he really didn’t need). I drew into some removal but Michael packed several copies of Stubborn Denial. He didn’t find his Parehelion but he did find his Skysovereign, which took me down to 3. I managed to kill Greasefang before he could crew it again and bought myself a turn. I took Michael down to 9 from 18 with Torment, then closed the remaining 9 Invoke Despairs.
vs. Greasefang: -3
-2 Massacre Girl
-1 God-Eternal Bontu
+3 Noxious Grasp
I felt very good winning game 1 and felt confident going into game 2 with my most efficient answer to the deck, Noxious Grasp. Game 2 was very hard for Michael with me running Go Blank on the main. Michael was able to cash in a Dig Through Time before his graveyard got wiped but still couldn’t assemble the pieces to set up his board. Tergrid popped her face out to shave 4 life points every turn and turned every Invoke Despair and Torment of Hailfure into a mythic rare, and she did just that taking Michael from 18 to 10 to zero. 2-0.
Round 3, vs Kenneth Taganile piloting Green Devotion
I made a new friend this round, who flew in all the way from Bacolod. Kenneth was a common friend of mine who is a very smooth player. I must commend how every mana he tapped and how he sequence his plays to ramp as much mana as he could was very nice to see. It felt like a tutorial on how to pilot a mono-green devotion deck. But ironically, his moves were smooth because he got stuck to 2 lands after digging deep with 2 Oath of Nissa.
After that stump, every elf, every troll, and every Cavalier was answered by Pushes, Eliminates and Hero’s Downfall while I had no problem building up my mana and fortunately draw my Urborg and Cabal Stronghold. He was able to play Storm the Festival The first damage he took in game 1 was 21, and that’s after sacrificing 6 nonland permanents and discarding a card (he should have taken 42 damage that turn). Good thing he gained life from Teferi, Who Slows the Sunset. Every draw I took after that Torment of Hailfire for 21 made Kenneth say “Patay na ba?” (“Am I dead?”). Well, he sure was and we went quickly to game 2.
-1 Thought Distortion
-2 Erebos’s Intervention
+3 Noxious Grasp
I knew I was spared from all the shenanigans because of the slow start Kenneth had. But game 2 was the total opposite. Kenneth opened with a turn 1 elf, turn 2 elf, turn 3 Cavalier of Thorns, and me with no Push, Eliminate, or Noxious Grasp. I can see Kenneth smiling, but his smile was smaller than mine when I kept a hand with Bontu’s Last Reckoning.
Kenneth knew he had just got blown out, and he was. My life totals didn’t change this game but his’ quickly dropped to 13. A couple of punches from Bontu knocked him out and we fist bumped like good friends. 3-0.
Round 4 vs. Jeremiah Chua piloting Mono-White Humans
Jeremiah brought a formidable mono-white humans deck which I didn’t know until he played a turn 1 Kythion, into turn 2 Thalia, then announced their Wedding on turn 3.
I kept a hand of 5 lands, a Shadows’s Verdict, and Go Blank, and we know how the story goes. Jeremiah took me out from 18 to 15, to 9, then zero.
+3 Noxious Grasp
+1 Feed the Swarm
In game 2, I kept a loaded hand full of removals. I was at a healthy 15 life when game 2 ended and I returned the favor and brought Jeremiah from 20 to 9 to zero. The lesson learned here is to always kill Thalia first. But not to dismiss Jeremiah, he had a wide board thanks to Adeline. Sadly, whatever board he was able to muster was wiped clean by my own girl… Massacare Girl. Each 1/1 token that died took another craeture with him. Good thing there weren’t too many so my Bontu’s 6 toughness helped it survive the ‘massacre’ and they took the game home and we went to game 3.
Game 3 felt like I attended so many wedding ceremonies. A bunch of 2/1s and 1/1s littered the board every single turn. I was slowly running low on removal myself and was shaved down to 9 life before I was able to draw my first sweeper. Jeremiah knew better and put his Mutavaults to work but glad I had my Field of Ruin ready and struck a peace treaty for a few turns.
But when a control player is given some time to breathe, that’s bad for the aggro player. A Tergrid came down on an empty board and started attacking taking Jeremiah to 16, then 12, before he could put enough creatures on the board to stop the menace. But we managed to put him on a tight spot, casting a Torment of Hailfire for 7. With 2 creatures and 2 tokens on the board and 3 cards in hand, he could negate the damage but sadly, Tergrid brings any nonland permanent discarded or sacrificed to my side of the field. After several back and forths and reading the card, Jeremiah extended his hand and we wished each other luck. 4-0.
At this point, I was 4-0, with a game win % equal to the top 2 players both running mono-blue Spirits. As a matter of fact, ranks 4 and 5 are also running mono-blue spirits. It’s going to a 50/50 match-up if I get paired with them after ID-ing the next 2 rounds.
After 2 more rounds to finish off the swiss, the final make-up of the top 8 were 5 mono-blue spirits, 1 mono-white human, 1 UW control, and me with mono-black control.
Quarterfinals vs. Austin Tan piloting Mono Blue Spirits
Game 1, on the play thanks to my higher ranking in Swiss, allowed me to cast Thoughtseize and see what an opening hand looks like from a Spirits pilot. I took maybe a good 5 minutes to figure out what to discard.
Before the top 8 marches started, I asked Ranked #1 player and good friend, Paolo, what is the linchpin that holds the spirits deck together. He said kill the 1-drop. He didn’t specify exactly which 1-drop to take out but I used common sense instead and took out Spectral Sailor. Curious Obsession will not have any other targets anyway unless Austin draws another 1 drop, and while Spell Piece is a nuisance, that’s my future self’s problem not now.
I made the right choice here and Austin didn’t get another 1-drop on his first draw step and I managed to keep discarding him with Go Blank, and Eliminating his creatures to secure a 15-0 win off the bank of Massacre Girl. It was a big help though that Austin flooded as well.
Sideboard. No kidding, my sideboard guide that I printed on a piece of paper said “vs. Spirits: no change”.
How dumb! I should have put Liliana in and swapped out Shadows’ Verdict at least to get some early interaction, right? I definitely didn’t respect Spirits when I prepared by SB guide.
In game 2, I saw the power of tempo and how 1/1s and 2/1s can rip you the shred behind soft counters (that when played at the right time hurts more than a Dovin’s Veto). Despite bringing Austin down to 11, he got me to zero first.
Game 3 was a replay of game 1 but this time, it was me who was getting flooded. I wasn’t able to keep an opening hand with Thoughtseize and my spot removal was countered heavily early in the game. I was down to 8 and I scratched Austin down to 14.
Austin rode behind an uncontested Faceless Haven and Supreme Phantom, and I did manage to surprise Austin (I think I have him a slight heart attack) when I delved into Empty the Pits to make four 2/2 zombies at the end of his turn and attempt to race him. Sadly, he Brazen Borrower one of my tokens, top-decked another Surpeme Phantom, then took me out for 10 damage, and progressed himself to the semis.
I ended that day very happy with my deck’s performance. It felt good, was stable and reliable, and it was very fun to play. Stealing permanents from Invoke Despair felt dirty but good. Winning with the opponent’s face in total torment was the goal and I believe we achieved that goal.
If you want to build this deck, and want to understand how the deck operates, do read the deck tech article and shop at BLK101 for the cards you need. Till then, happy shuffling!