Round 4: Iowa Pride

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After the Iowa contingent took up nearly half of the same table, Matt "Cheeks" Hansen and Brandon Scheel, two long-time playtesting partners from Ames, Iowa, found themselves face-to-face in the feature match area.

Both players looked to be sporting red decks, as the Iowa group had found early in testing that red was "easily" the best color, and that mono-red was especially dangerous. Scheel, for his part, was playing both Swamps and Forests in his otherwise mostly Mountain-powered deck.

Prior to the tournament, they had discussed the likelihood of simply forcing "the red deck" to the detriment of the rest of the, hypothetically, unsuspecting drafters. Of course, that strategy doesn't really work when your playtesting partners end up at the same table, as these two did alongside Gerry Thompson.

Game 1

Matt Hansen and Brandon Scheel came to the table with the same strategy.
Hansen got aggressive early, hitting with Heartlash Cinder and Boggart Ram-Gang on successive turns, while Scheel built his mana and took out the Ram-Gang with Burn Trail.

While Hansen played more haste creatures, none of them could get by Scheel's larger creatures, and a Cultbrand Cinder cut off any Cinder Pyromancer shenanigans that would allow Hansen to get through some "unblockable" damage.

Hansen played out more lands, but not much else, while Scheel dropped more creatures and kept poking away with Flame Jab.

Not one to go quietly, Hansen used Flame Jab and Jaws of Stone to clear Scheel's side of the board. When the smoke cleared, Scheel had only a Cinderbones to match Heartlash Cinder and Mudbrawler Cohort on the other side.

The lowly Cinderbones looked to take over anyway when Scheel granted it the Power of Fire, as Hansen was unable to attack effectively or build up a force large enough to get around the regenerator.

Not without his own tricks, Hansen took care of the Cinderbones with a massive Unwilling Recruit, which forced Scheel to ping his own Cinderbones to avoid the return swing. This, however, gave Scheel the time he needed to drop his eight-mana bomb, Din of the Fireherd.

A few turns later, when a Fire at Will from Hansen was effectively countered by the green side of Cankerous Thirst, Hansen scooped Game 1 to his friend and teammate.

Scheel 1, Hansen 0

Game 2

Both players were mostly quiet between games, talking with a few spectators rather than each other. There wasn't much to say, after all, since there would be plenty of time to digest everything on the car ride home.

Both players quickly kept, and Hansen elected, not surprisingly, to play first.

Riverfall Mimic started the action from Hansen, earning a Soul Reap from the other side. A second Soul Reap then took care of the follow-up Noggle Bandit.

Cinder Pyromancer was Hansen's next response (victim?). This time, Soul Reap was nowhere to be found. Poison the Well from Hansen hit a Swamp, but Scheel, master that he is, had another one waiting, and made a Wildslayer Elves to stand alongside his Spitemare. Wickerbough Elder came down while Hansen continued to ping away with his Pyromancer. Manamorphose, Scar, Mudbrawler Cohort, and an assortment of small spells let him keep pace with Scheel's attackers... for the time being.

With three 3/3s already on the table, however, Scheel added a Bogart Ram-Gang and was suddenly attacking with four relative monsters. Hansen, stepping off the brisk pace of the match, took his time thinking about his blocks carefully. Eventually, he gave up only his Pyromancer to the incoming hoard of large, red attackers, and dropped to 3 life.

Facing down four creatures each worth his life total, Hansen checked his draw and, satisfied that it was not a Jaws of Stone, scooped up his cards.

Brandon Scheel defeats Matt Hansen 2-0.

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