A mountain short

“One more mountain and I would have won!”

That’s how I got to sleep last night after playing commander with Jeff, Jamie, and Lukas yesterday afternoon.

We had a 2 hour window to squeeze in a game of commander and teach Jeff the basics of Magic (he hadn’t played it before), before the hotel closed for the day. Jeff played with my Vampiric Bloodlust deck from Commander 2017. After a brief run through of how to play Magic, we started our game of commander.

I was playing the Heavenly Inferno preconstructed deck from the Commander Anthology set. The commander for this deck was Kaalia of the Vast (which apparently is going for £33 on sites such as Magic Madhouse, that’s a third of the cost of the set for one card!)

I was using Kaalia early on to cheat out other creatures in my hand for free. I can see why she is the price she is. 4 CMC (Converted Mana Cost) for a 2/2 and that ability. Cards like Akroma, Angel of Fury (8 CMC), Bladewing the Risen (7 CMC), Reiver Demon (8 CMC) and Lightkeeper of Emeria (4 CMC) that were sitting  in my hand were soon out on the battlefield doing their thing with Kaalia’s ability.

I was aided early on by cards like Return to Dust that enabled me to put the brakes on Jamie’s dragon deck (a tweaked 2017 commander deck) by removing his artifact and enchantment he had out that would have enabled him to get his big nasty dragons out earlier by making them cheaper.

It was funny because when Jamie did finally get a dragon out on the board I played Syphon Flesh which meant the other players had to sacrifice a creature, and I got a 2/2 black Zombie token for each creature sacrificed that way. The dragon Jamie had out was his only creature, so that went bye bye. Then Jeff had a creature out that had an ability that kicked in at the start of his upkeep that required each player to sacrifice a creature. Which basically stopped Jamie from playing anything for a few turns because he would have to sacrifice it after his turn finished. Luckily I had enough tokens and cheap creatures out that I didn’t have to lose any of my big flying hitters.

I actually held on to Lightkeeper of Emeria until near the middle of the game when I could bring her out using Kaalia’s ability when attacking, and kick her 4 times to add 8 health to myself. That put me in a pretty good position mid game, 48 health, and 4 flying creatures out on the battlefield.

Towards the end of the game, with the clock ticking away, Jeff took control of Akroma, Angel of Fury. Luckily he was unable to do anything with it to me before I killed it off. Sadly for Jamie he had to take 6 points of damage from it under Jeff’s control.

We all were under 10 health. I had hit everyone for 7 damage with Earthquake, and cleared out some creatures.

With less than 5 minutes on the clock, I had the final turn of the game before the hotel was to shut. I needed to top deck a solution that would give me the win. I drew Diabolic Tutor. That was a pretty good top deck. I could go and look for a solution. With the seconds ticking away, I didn’t have time to look through my whole deck. I came across Sulfurous Blast. That would get everyone down to 2 or three points of damage. I had 2 flying creatures to attack with. Jamie and Jeff had creatures, but they were tapped out, or would die before they could block. Lukas has no creatures out. I only had enough mana to fire Pyrohemia once. Not enough to kill Lukas off he would still have one life left. One more mountain or a third creature and I could win. I swung in and killed Lukas and Jamie (I was not going to have dragons win the game), and left Jeff with a couple of points of life and myself unable to defend him attacking. In hindsight without the pressure of the clock ticking, I should have killed Jeff and Jamie, and let Lukas live. Lukas would take his go, hopefully not have a creature with haste to play, pass the turn back to me, and I’d win. But that hit me on the way into work this morning, as the way I could have won. Instead I was killed by Jeff, leaving him as the last man standing and the winner of his first game of Magic and our game of commander.

It’s hard to get across how much pressure there was with that clock ticking away, knowing that we had seconds to finish, pack up and get out. I’d like to think without that pressure I would have spotted that optimal play to give me the win. But it did rely on Lukas not playing anything that could remove my last 3 points of life.

I really enjoyed this Heavenly Inferno deck. It was fun to play, helped by some awesome card draw.

It was a fun afternoon, Jeff enjoyed his first game of Magic. Who knows we may see Jeff at more commander sessions, he’s more than welcome to use one of my precon decks if he does want to come along again.

Finally a big thank you The White Lion Hotel for their generosity in letting us play there. It is really appreciated.

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