As they sat down for the penultimate match of Day 1 both Gerry Thompson and Matt Hansen had taken one loss with their draft decks. Gerry had been my pick to 4-0 the table after the draft but he fell to the combo of Pili-Pala and Presence of Gond in the hands of Mat Marr.
"My deck is quite good," said Gerry. "I just couldn't deal with that Pili-Pala nonsense."
Matt did not seem to have the same level of confidence in his own set of 40 cards despite being able to get the red deck at a table with four teammates who were all looking for what has quickly become recognized as one of the best decks in the SSE draft format.
The 'T' in Gerry T stands for 'tappers.'
Gerry mulliganed and then led off with Kithkin Shielddare
followed by Silkbind Faerie
. Matt had Boggart Arsonists
while another Silkbind from Gerry allowed Hansen to plainswalk for a turn before playing Mudbrawler Raiders
. Gerry continued to tap all his mana and developed his air force with a pair of Briarberry Cohort
Matt played Noggle Bridgebreaker and then replayed a Mountain to Scar the Shielddare that was going to make combat on the ground too tricky. He snuck in through the Plains for 2. Puncture Blast took down one Cohort and a rare post combat Sootstoke Kindler joined the team on the ground.
Gerry cracked back for 4 and Hansen fell to 1. Gerry was at 6 and looking down more than 6 damage even with his tappers - assuming Gerry was not going to chump block with them. Matt played Manamorphose and dug a card deeper into his deck. Kyle Goodman, who was watching along the rail, seemed confused by what was happening. Hansen used his Arsonists to destroy one of Gerry's Plains. Gerry tapped all six of his mana and sent a Flame Javelin at his opponent.
"I don't know why you would slow roll that," complained Kyle.
"Can I see an extra card?" asked Gerry who was hoping to learn more about his opponent's deck. With only Mountains in play there were no scenarios where Gerry did not have time to burn Matt out.
Thompson 1, Hansen 0
Matt got in for 2 on turn two with Heartlash Cinder but had no follow-up on the third turn and stared glumly at Gerry's Silkbind Faerie. Slinking Giant came down on turn four.
"I need to think here for a second," said Gerry, looking for a time out. He finally decided to play Harvest Gwyllion and just attack for 1 in the air. It was then Matt's turn to contemplate. Both players sat passively for a minute, their faces revealing nothing of the inner workings of their game plan. Finally Matt added Noggle Bridgebreaker and passed the turn back to Gerry.
Matt 'Cheeks' Hansen battles with a fellow Iowan.
There was no question in Gerry's mind as to the correct play on his turn and he made up for lost time with Ballynock Trapper
- the second of five tappers in his deck. Tattermunge Duo
and Riverfall Mimic
were the product of the man they call Cheeks' five mana but he was unwilling to attack into the wither creature.
Gerry shut down the Bridgebreaker with Recumbent Bliss - and put a marker on top of his library so he would not forget to gain the life - then added Kithkin Daggerdare with the rest of his mana. Thompson then tapped the Duo before combat and blocked the Slinking Giant. Hansen played Manamorphose into Fire Away and finished off the blocking Gwyllion.
Now Gerry had two tappers going and was gaining 1 life per turn while Matt was not able to muster a profitable attack. Gerry added Rune-Cervin Rider and Briarberry Cohort to his air assault while Matt tried to find any footing on the ground. He kept adding creatures to his board and when he added Mudbrawler Cohort and a Heartlash Cinder to the team it merited an arched eyebrow of concern from Gerry. Gerry let him send in the Cinder and traded Thistledown Duo for it.
Matt fell to 3 life on Gerry's next attack and he scooped a turn later when the top of his deck did not yield Jaws of Stone.
Gerry Thompson 2, Matt Hansen 0