omoharu was a bundle of energy at the beginning of this first round on Saturday morning. He was undefeated, a perfect 7-0, and raring to continue the beats. Opposing Tomoharu was America's own Mark Herberholz. By contrast to Tomoharu's boundless enthusiasm, Mark seemed very lethargic as he sat in his chair, slowly shuffling his deck. Late night, Mark?
Saito: "Good luck!"
Tomoharu started with some quality blue cards, Islands, and Call of the Herd. Riftwing Cloudskate was suspended on his second turn, but no Forests had appeared for his third. Undaunted, Tomoharu played a Spiketail Drakeling, then Sage of Epityr to go land hunting. With Tomoharu's mana situation about to be resolved, Mark was under pressure to work on his own development. Mark started with Ironclaw Buzzadiers, then Magus of the Scroll and Flowstone Channeler. Via Sage of Epityr, a card both of these 7-0 players were running, Tomoharu found his green mana for Herd Gnarr. The Gnarr threatened major damage with the Call of the Herd still in Saito's hand.
A Basalt Gargoyle held off Riftwing Cloudstake for a turn, but when Mark had to tap out for a Flamecore Elemental and a Magus activation, the Gargoyle was forced to trade with the 2/2 flyer. Meanwhile, in addition to continually playing Elephant tokens and pumping up Herd Gnarr, Tomoharu found the time to suspend Errant Ephemeron. Eventually, through Magus activations, double blocks, and an Orcish Cannonade, all of Tomoharu's in-play creatures were killed. This left Mark at a precarious 4 life with no flying defense. After Errant Ephemeron came into play, Mark attempted a Lightning Axe. Tomoharu had his Cancel, and they were shuffling for Game 2.
Saito 1 - Herberholz 0
The player shuffled quietly for the second game. After the decks were presented and re-shuffled, Tomoharu again offered his opponent favor.
Saito: "Good luck!"
Both players kept, although once again Tomoharu was stuck with lands of a single color. This time he had no Sage of Epityr to fix things, although Ashcoat Bear and Call of the Herd were reasonable replacements. Mark's draw this game was almost picture-perfect. Realizing his opponent was stuck in mono-green mode, he played Basalt Gargoyle and then Undying Rage on it. Mark was fully invested into the build-a-dragon plan, as two Lightning Axes took down the two Elephant tokens. Tomoharu couldn't escape the 5/4 flyer and fell to a final Orcish Cannonade.
Saito 1 - Herberholz 1
The table was completely silent as the players shuffled up for the final game. As the decks were presented, Tomoharu almost started to say something to his opponent. Remembering the lessons from the previous game, he stayed quiet as he took his deck and looked at the initial seven. Mark threw back his first hand and kept the next six. Mark led off with his own Sage of Epityr. From the previous games we can see that whoever has cast Undying Rage or Sage of Epityr has won. Are these cards at the same power level?
The Sage found Mark his Magus of the Scroll. On Tomoharu's third turn he had a decision to make: Call of the Herd or Prodigal Sorcerer? Tomoharu went with Tim, with plans to eliminate the walking Cursed Scroll. Mark attacked with his Sage, indicating that he didn't have a piece of direct removal for the Sorcerer. After combat, with four cards in hand, Mark tapped three and pointed the Magus at Tim, naming Orcish Buzzardiers. Mark showed his first animation of the match with a small smile as his friends gave a whoop behind him. The Buzzardiers were indeed revealed, and Tim headed to the grave.
Tomoharu wasn't done yet, as Call of the Herd was cast and re-cast, and Riftwing Cloudskate went to that temporary RFG zone in the sky. Meanwhile, the Elephants were dealing lots of damage to Mark. One was taken out by Sage and a Viashino Bladescout. The other continued to hit. Finally, with one card in hand, Mark played a Flamecore Elemental with enough mana left to kill the Riftwing Cloudskate via Magus. But Tomoharu had a final move of his own. A Wipe Away pushed off the Magus before the Riftwing Cloudskate removed the last blocker. Those 5 points were enough for the win.
Saito 2 - Herberholz 1