oing into Round 6, Steve Wolfman and Level 6 mage Olivier Ruel find themselves on the brink of elimination. The winner will advance to Day Two, while the loser will have to watch from the bleachers.
Olivier Ruel faced elimination in Round 6.
Neither Ruel's black-white deck or the blue-red draft offering from Wolfman exactly fired out of the gates. This was hardly surprising from Ruel who had to double-mulligan his hand, but given the aggressive nature of Wolfman's deck it suggested unfortunate draws on both sides of the board.
The first play was a Nezumi Ronin from Ruel, who got to attack unopposed while Wolfman floundered with a Murmurs from Beyond only getting him land, while Ruel sent a Secretkeeper to the graveyard with a cheeky smile.
He kept the pressure on with a Moonlit Strider and some beatings. When Wolfman's Soul of Magma got hit by a Hail of Arrows and Ruel followed up with a Torii Watchward, things looked bleak for the Canadian.
Wolfman rebuilt with an Akki Underling, who got his beat on for a full four, before Sokenzan Spellblade came to town. With so many cards in hand, the ogre was quite the threat - enough to elicit a Rend Flesh from Ruel, whose beatdown continued unabated.
Frost Ogre came out for Steve, but it wasn't enough to stop the Watchward from hitting the red zone. A Hundred-Talon Strike killed the ogre, and Wolfman bounced Ruel's big spirit with a Consuming Vortex only to see it replayed with one of the huge number of lands the Frenchman had in play.
The second time around it got Mystic Restraints, and Ruel was forced to take a nip from Takenuma Bleeder to be able to attack. A Frostwielder and Brothers Yamazaki helped work an edge up from Wolfman, which he tried to extend with Captive Flames. A second Hail of Arrows put an end to that plan though, much to Wolfman's consternation.
The Frenchman's luck seemed almost out as he knocked on his deck asking for a spell, which wasn't forthcoming. Wolfman on the other hand was still cooking with gas. He cast a Hearth Kami, which Ruel was forced to block with his Bleeder in a less than ideal trade.
When Wolfman made another creature with which to barrel in, it was enough for the Frenchman
Wolfman 1, Ruel 0
Wolfman didn't let up in Game 1.
On the draw, it was Wolfman's turn to mulligan this time, but this didn't stop him from racing out of the gates, matching Ruel's Split-Tail Miko with an Akki Underling. It was the Frenchman to first gain the initiative though, with an unanswered Villainous Ogre, followed up swiftly by Moonlit Strider.
When Wolfman went for a Murmurs From Beyond, and Ruel eagerly grabbed the top three cards from his opponent's deck, hoping to have a nice easy decision as in the previous game. His cheeky smile dimmed slightly when he saw that he had the slightly trickier decision of Frostling, Frost Ogre or Goblin Cohort. With a sigh he sent Frostling to Wolfman's graveyard, wary of the threats coming his way in the ensuing turns.
The Akki Underling of Wolfman was feeling pretty juiced up after all of the card drawing that had been going on, and hit hard and fast before Secretkeeper joined the party for the Canadian, who could almost feel his place in Day Two at this point.
A Hail of Arrows slowed things down a little for Wolfman, killing his fresh new Secretkeeper before it could peck in, but it was replaced by Frost Ogre. Of all the ogres on the board, it was Villainous Ogre who was the unlikely champion though, swinging in relentlessly with Wolfman unwilling to have an unfavourable trade.
Frosty the Ogre was slowed by Ruel's Miko keeping Moonlit Strider alive, and for a token moment until Yamabushi's Flame targeted Split-Tail Miko, forcing the Strider to go to the graveyard one way or another. With a Goblin Cohort and a hand gesture, the turn was at an end for Steve.
Ruel had the perfect answer to Frost Ogre in the pint-sized form of Samurai of the Pale Curtain. We are in England, where pints and pints and the uncommon sight of samurai is one that demands respect. Someone should have told the Frost Ogre. He was replaced by the somewhat inferior Shinka Gatekeeper, and a Frostwielder before the turn ended.
It was all about the beats for the Villainous Ogre. With a Manriki-Gusari the aggressive black monster he was all about the beatdown, and there was little that Wolfman could do to stop it. The equip was moved to Split Tail Miko, and the Frenchman motioned to his opponent that it was time to "bring it."
Shinka Gate Keeper duly did so, died to the Miko, taking Wolfman to one, but a Hearth Kami then deals with the equipment, and Ruel bit his lip and thought - he didn't have the final point.
On his second land draw he exclaimed in French "Ce ne pas vrai!" or "This is untrue!" for all of you non-French speakers. You did not need to be able to speak his language to see that the Frenchman was not happy with the position he found himself in, unable to finish the job.
He cast Torii Watchward and passed, intensely looking at the board. Wolfman simply attacked in with his Akki Underling, who was not being helped by Wolfman's hand of three cards.
And with the handshake, Olivier's tournament was over.
The next turn both Ruel's creatures attacked. A Consuming Vortex on the Villainous Ogre was enough to end his hopes of doing the final point, while the Wayward was chump-blocked by the cohort, and subsequently shot by Frostwielder.
Waxmane Baku was Olivier's next attempt to make the final point. Wolfman's response was a Genju of the Falls, which quickly allowed an Island to fly into a Hail of Arrows from the Frenchman. Shinen of Star's Light gave Waxy his first counter, but then took a trip to the removed from the game zone thanks to Frostwielder. The counter didn't last much longer as Ruel had to stop the recast Genju island. After combat Wolfman played a Sokenzan Spellblade, and with a mountain of land in play, Olivier Ruel had to just shake his head and extend his hand.
Don't feel too bad for Olivier, though. He still gets to fly home on Wizards of the Coast's budget with $2,000 in his back pocket. The perks of being a Level 6 player will not erase the sting of defeat, but they will certainly help to take the edge off it.
Wolfman 2, Ruel 0