by Randy Buehler
Pikula did 3-0 this format, but the assembled masses seemed to think that Finkel's deck design was a little better. Chris won his first coin slip of the day and chose to draw. Pikula got off to a good start (or what passes for a good start in this format anyway) by playing turn 4 Fugitive Druid and then enchanting it with Bequeathal. However when Finkel played Illusionary Wall, Chris made a pretty major mistake. He attacked with his Druid and then cast Surge of Strength in order to give it +4/+0 and Trample. When Finkel asked if Chris was ready to put first strike damage on the stack Chris picked up the Wall and learned that it does indeed have First Strike! So Chris lost his Druid and his Surge of Strength and the card he had to discard to cast the Surge, all for no gain.
Finkel then played Rolling Stones and attacked with his Wall-monster. Chris played a Shrieking drake to chump block with and had to hope Finkel didn't have enough islands to upkeep the Wall four times. Finkel turned out to have 3 islands and thus the Wall went away with Chris at 6. When Chris drew his Wall of Schizophrenia, Jon's Rolling Stones was actually hurting him. Jon did have Opalescence in hand along with a Cloudchaser monk that could blow up his own Rolling Stones, however Jon couldn't seem to find a second Plains. He used very Strict Tutor to go get Duplicity so he could look at 5 extra cards. Those five plus his next draw phase gave him 5 more land and a Shrieking Drake, but none of the land could produce white! So despite Chris's big mistake in the early game, he still managed to pull out game 1.
Finkel got a solid draw in game 2 -- he played turn 3 pearled Unicorn and turn 4 Fugitive Druid. Meanwhile Pikula stopped at 2 land until turn 5 and had to discard once. However, Chris then drew land followed by land. When Chris played a Fugitive Druid of his own Jon decided to move his attack to the air and sacrificed both his creatures to create a 5/4 Dracoplasm. Pikula chump-blocked it once with a Carrier Pigeon and then found an Undercover Disguise that he used to turn it into a Wall. Jon thought he could get out of this because he had Rolling Stones in his hand, but Chris had tranquil Domain ready to stop that craziness.
Chris then made an 8/5 Dracoplasm of his own, but Finkel killed it with Too ... Many ... Words. With the board basically stalemated, Chris played a Femeref Enchantress. That Enchantress totally changed the complexion of the rest of the game because Chris got to draw a card every time an enchantment went to the graveyard. Chris used Too ... many ... Words to kill Jon's Dracoplasm just so Chris could draw two cards. Then when Jon used Very Strict Tutor Chris got to draw another card. Finkel played out Opalescence and Duplicity, but Pikula used Steal Enchantment to gain control of the 4/4 Duplicity and continue attacking with random small creatures. It seems like it should have been good for Finkel to use Cloudchaser monk to destroy Steal Enchantment, but it meant Chris got to draw a card and then Chris just used tragic Poet to get the Steal Enchantment again. Finkel was able to bounce his Monk using Shrieking Drake, but all these cards gave Chris lots of random creatures. When Chris cast harmonic Convergence, Finkel was left without his Opalescence or his 4/4 Duplicity. When Chris added a Treefolk Seedlings to his assault it was too much. Jon stuck out his hand and congratulated this year Magic Invitational Champion: Chris Pikula.
Chris now gets invited to next year's Invitational and gets to make his own magic card. The card Chris turned in is a 2/3 Wizard for 1UU with the following ability: when it comes into play you name a spell and whenever you like you can sacrifice 'The Meddler' to counter the named spell. R&D will look at Chris's card and make any adjustments that it thinks are necessary and then the card will appear in one of next year's expansion sets.
Pikula - 2
Finkel - 0
Pikula wins the overall series 3 matches to 2
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