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By: stsung, Ren Stefanek
Jun 21 2016 8:14pm
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The last Saturday of a month means Magic Online Vintage players can participate in a monthly event.  Named The Power Nine Challenge, in which the Top 8 players win a piece of Power Nine (a certain amount of PP, other singles and possibly a foil/regular actual set). This time 74 players participated in the event and I was one of them. I did not win (Montolio did with his Oath/Show deck) but I was the first one not to make the cut.

I decided to pilot my URw Delver once again. I always make some slight changes to the decklist. Since last P9C I made these changes (the Mentor was kind of joke, I did not expect the card to be any wasn't)

+1 Dack Fayden
+1 Lightning Bolt
+1 Mental Misstep
+1 Jace, Vryn's Prodigy
-1 Path to Exile
-2 Gitaxian Probe
-1 Monastery Mentor

This time I expected more Delver decks in the tournaments because I already ran into 3 that day and they all were signed up for the P9C. I hoped to avoid them since the mirror is pretty annoying to play. On the other hand I'm glad more players play Delver. I was also running into UW Landstill decks during the past week so I expected a higher percentage of that too. The metagame breakdown is at the end of this article.

My decklist follows.


Round 1
After restarting modo several times before the tournament because it kept disconnecting me, I really hoped that my internet connection would stay stable and that I could actually play (last time I got disconnected when the tournament started). My client lagged a lot during the whole day so I wasn't even sure if recording/streaming was a good idea. I tried it nevertheless while being prepared to stop it if things went badly (but since tapping lands does not take ages anymore I did not expect the lag to play a big role).

I was looking forward to the first round and hoped I wouldn't be crushed by the future winner of the tournament (that happened to me last time). My opponent mulled to 4 so at first I thought that he might be on Dredge. He was on the play and started with Scalding Tarn -> Volcanic Island -> Ancestral Recall. My hand was ideal - Flooded Strand, Force of Will, Mental Misstep, Volcanic Island, Path to Exile, Delver of Secrets, Young Pyromancer. Since he had only 2 cards in his hands after playing his two cards I decided to Misstep the card. I played a land and passed since something bad could possibly happen to me (not sure what) and it is usually better to counter that 'thing' than have Delver in play that dies to more or less anything and gets countered by Misstep (not likely in this case, since my opponent would have fought over the Ancestral Recall). My opponent played Volcanic Island, put two red mana in his mana pool and played Eidolon of the Great Revel! That surprised me. He was on Burn probably. There was no need to Force the Eidolon so I decided to lose 2 life and remove the Eidolon from the game and keep the Force for something like Fireblast. My opponent conceded soon after I played Young Pyromancer and Delver of Secrets.

I sided out 1 Gitaxian Probe and Stony Silence and put Containment Priest in since it has Flash and can possibly block Eidolon of the Great Revel or just deal some damage.

My opening hand was Ancestral Recall, Volcanic Island, Path to Exile, Black Lotus, Gush, Lightning Bolt and Island. My opponent started with Monastery Swiftspear that I Bolt'ed on my turn not really caring about opponent's Misstep since I wanted my Ancestral Recall to resolve. My opponent did not have a follow up so I played Delver of Secrets that got countered with Pyroblast. So it was time to play Ancestral Recall since my opponent was tapped out, it resolved and brought me Force of Will, Time Walk and Preordain. My opponent was still not casting any spells so I expected a hand full of removal. I played Young Pyromancer and Gush. Pyromancer died to Lightning Bolt in response to Gush. I played Delver of Secrets that also was targeted with Lightning Bolt. This time I decided to Force it and play Time Walk. My opponent conceded.

Round 2
In round 2 I kept a hand that I did not really like much - Dack Fayden, Dack Fayden, Ancestral Recall, Lightning Bolt, Volcanic Island, Island. I was on the play, I played my Probe and wrote down my opponent's hand - Dark Confidant, Force of Will, Library of Alexandria, Mental Misstep, 3 Moxen. The card that I wasn't particularly happy about was Library of Alexandria. So I tried playing some spells - Ancestral Recall got countered, Delver got plowed, Dack got FoW'ed. Then my opponent played Monastery Mentor that I tried to kill with Lightning Bolt but I don't need to say that the card got countered as well. For some reason I did not play Dig Through Time at that time because it would cost me all the mana I had and it would get Flusterstorm'ed. I wasn't really sure if that was the correct play. Next turn I played Dig Through Time so it would avoid Flusterstorm and found removal for the Mentor with FoW and Mental Misstep as a backup but I still couldn't deal with the Flusterstorm that was still in my opponent's hand. So I conceded the game not even trying to counter my opponent's Mental Misstep targeting my Path to Exile. This game just got out of hand.

In the second game I mulled to 5 keeping Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, Island, Young Pyromancer, Tundra and Preordain. I played Preordain and sent Young Pyromancer to the bottom keeping Mental Misstep. My opponent played Ancestral Recall which I wouldn't normally try to counter but since there was already quite a difference between the number of cards in our hands I decided to counter it. Next I played Jace and wondered what would happen to him. To my surprise it stayed in play and even flipped in two turns. I decided to play Dig Through Time to find an answer to Dark Confidant I faced. I found Lightning Bolt and Ancestral Recall. I played the Recall first hoping it would lure a counter out of my opponent so I could destroy his Confidant then and flashback the Ancestral Recall next turn. Both spells resolved. My opponent played Dig Through Time at the end of my turn. Then I played Delver after Delver (and the Recall) and hoped that one creature would stick. They were removed from the game unfortunately. This meant though that my opponent went down to 1 card so I actually had a chance to win. I countered his Demonic Tutor and hoped he wouldn't top deck anything relevant. I flashbacked Dig Through Time and found 2 Young Pyromancers. My opponent tried playing Snapcaster Mage but I countered it with Force of Will and he scooped since his timer was running out (due to being disconnected for quite a while during the game).

Game 3 I kept Brainstorm, Dack Fayden, Volcanic Island, Force of Will, Scalding Tarn, Mental Misstep, Scalding Tarn. My opponent played Thoughtseize turn 1 which caught me totally unaware. I tried to Misstep the card but unfortunately the same fate awaited my Misstep. I knew that my hand would be totally useless after I lost my Brainstorm. He discarded Brainstorm and played Dark Confidant and I let it resolve. Don't ask me why.  My reasoning was that I would lose the only card that could possibly save me - the card that killed me in the end - Dack Fayden. After my opponent lost 9 life due to his Confidant he played Library of Alexandria which I really did not want to see at all. For that reason I decided to deal with Confidant at least even though it was a turn later than I envisioned. My opponent played Force of Will on my Bolt and I decided to Pyroblast his FoW. At that moment I wasn't entirely sure if that was a good idea since Jace, the Mind Sculptor awaited me in my opponent's hand and I did not want to pitch Dack to Force I kept in my hand. But since I already targeted the spell and paid for it there was no going back.

Few turns later I made the decision to play Dack Fayden and loot. My opponent had 4 mana open and did not play Jace, the Mind Sculptor on his turn. That seemed strange to me but I did not think about it much and that cost me the game. My opponent fetched in response to Dack's loot ability and I realized that he might be running Notion Thief in his deck and that I probably totally screwed up. I should have let Dark Confidant stay alive and hope that the Blast would help me in the future or that the Confidant would finish my opponent off. This way my opponent played the Notion Thief, I tried to Force it but was Force'ed back. It was clear that from this situation I wouldn't be able to win (with Library being active all the time).

My opponent played Monastery Mentor and few spells during his turn and I conceded telling myself what an idiot I am.

Round 3
After this very crushing defeat I decided to think more about what my opponent could possibly play because I'm certain I could have figured that out if I only have THOUGHT about it. So seeing my hand with Ancestral Recall, Volcanic Island, Path to Exile, Young Pyromancer, Force of Will and Delver of Secrets I asked myself 'What if my opponent plays Shops?'. I fetched for an Island and played Delver of Secrets. My opponent's first turn looked like this -> Mox Sapphire, Mishra's Workshop, Sol Ring, Pithing Needle (naming Dack Fayden), Sphere of Resistance. I countered the last spell since I wanted to play Young Pyromancer the next turn. My Delver flipped and I played the Pyromancer. My opponent followed with Thespian's Stage and Tangle Wire. The Wire alone was ok but nothing should join it, Dark Depths came to my mind at that time. Another Wire and Thespian's Stage followed so all my permanents would be tapped for a while which wouldn't be a problem if my opponent wouldn't have played Smokestack as well. I really needed to start dealing damage! I knew that next turn I would have to just pass and the following turn I would have to tap 3 permanents and sacrifice one. That did not look good but I had two spells I could possibly play creating some tokens I could either sacrifice or tap. At this moment I really wanted to draw Gush so much (I drew it). At the beginning of my upkeep I realized with terror that I set auto-yield for all those three annoying artifacts and wouldn't be able to play Gush in response. I pressed F3 as soon as I realized it but I already had to sacrifice a permanent which messed up my plans a bit. Anyway after I figured which Tangle Wire trigger is which I tapped my three permanents, played Gush, tapped the Elemental token and swung for 3. After this I really hoped my opponent would play ANYTHING so I could counter it and get a token this way so I could still keep Delver of Secrets untapped. My opponent top decked Smokestack and played it so I had my target for Force of Will. I also Bolted my opponent so I could swing for 5 next turn and thus win the following turn. Nothing went wrong and I won. That was close!

Game 2 my opening hand did not contain a land. The second one neither but I had Black Lotus along with Dack Fayden, Force of Will, Delver of Secrets, Treasure Cruise and Ponder. On the play I would keep without a second thought but on the draw it could go wrong. I hoped that 1 Force of Will would be enough for me to be able to play my Lotus and two spells. I clicked on 'keep' and hoped. The client showed me that there was Scalding Tarn on top of my library so I kept it there. My opponent started with Mox Sapphire, Sol Ring, Wasteland and passed the turn. That was even better than I expected as I could keep my FoW. I drew the Tarn and pondered about my lands a bit. Since I drew a land I could actually go with a different plan since I could cast Dack Fayden t1. I decided to fetch for a Volcanic Island, play Dack Fayden and steal Sol Ring. This way my opponent would have Mox Sapphire and Wasteland that he wouldn't want to use most probably. I decided to play Delver rather than Ponder to put some pressure on my opponent since I still had the FoW and a blue card and if my land would get destroyed I could still loot with Dack if needed. My opponent conceded.

Round 4
I kept a non-disruptive hand with Young Pyromancers, Preordain and Brainstorm. I played Mox Ruby, Tundra, Young Pyromancer. Next turn I played Pyromancer and Brainstorm seeing lands and Time Walk. My opponent played Misty Rainforest which scared me a bit (a very bad feeling that I play against combo). Next turn I decided to play Time Walk but in response my opponent played Ancestral Recall. I tried to counter it and my Time Walk got Flusterstorm'ed. It seemed I played against Doomsday and I did not really like the idea since the only card in my hand was Preordain. I played it and found Ancestral Recall. But even that card did not really help me against Time Walk, Gush, Demonic Tutor -> Doomsday and I lost the game (I tried countering Ancestral Recall but it got countered as I expected).

Game 2 I sided Pyroblasts in and just hoped for some disruption and Missteps so I could deal with Duress/Thoughtseize. My hand was a double Delver hand with FoW. Both Delvers flipped and I tried dealing as much damage before I would die. It worked out since my opponent obviously did not draw Doomsday (my FoW got discarded). I won by pure luck and my decisions were rather wacky. I tried countering his cantrips and dealing maximum damage, but was that a good idea against a deck that can kill on t2 or t3 rather easily?

Game 3 I kept a horrible hand with Volcanic Island, Delver of Secrets, Lightning Bolt, Lightning Bolt, Treasure Cruise, Dack Fayden. I found Force of Will. Then my opponent played Vampiric Tutor. I thought that it is ok and pressed F2 but then I realized that if he is actually looking for a discard spell I will lose most probably a turn later. He played Brainstorm, followed by Duress, Black Lotus and Doomsday. My only land from t1 was tapped so I couldn't even try to Bolt the Laboratory Maniac and thus just scooped. I'm not entirely sure where my brain was during this game (on vacation obviously). With 2-2 record I did not expect to end up anywhere near Top 8 but since last time I was somewhere at position 10 during the last round it wasn't that unlikely to still top 8 (I also got 2 early tournament losses in P9C no.4, both players that beat me were in top 8).

Round 5
Preordain, Flooded Strand, Brainstorm, Island, Path to Exile, Force of Will and Young Pyromancer seemed like a keep. My opponent played Magic Origins Mountain. 'Another player playing Burn' I thought and pressed F4. I drew Strip Mine and for a while I wondered if I want to destroy the Mountain. But I had Pyromancer in hand and I wanted to play something anyway. So I played Island and passed. My opponent then exiled Simian Spirit Guide, played a land and played Scab-Clan Berserker. In response I played Brainstorm that got Misstep'ed. So I played Force of Will pitching Preordain. Next turn I drew Mental Misstep which was one of the cards I wanted to draw and played Young Pyromancer. My opponent tried to get rid of it with Chain Lightning that I could counter thanks to my top deck. Next turn I destroyed one of his Mountains and swung. He desperately tried to Fireblast my Pyromancer which I did not really care much but I wondered if I want to Bolt him in response or not. I decided not to keeping it for a creature like Magus of the Moon or (Eidolon of the Great Revels) (or another Berserker). For the rest of the game I tried to keep my lonely Elemental in play and it worked out. When my opponent was down to 3 he tried to Fireblast my token so I Bolt'ed my opponent in response and he conceded. On a side note, the majority of the Missteps I played against both burn decks were paid with Phyrexian mana.

I sided my Containment Priests once again and wondered how the second game would look like. I kept Scalding Tarn, Scalding Tarn, Containment Priest, Brainstorm, Ponder, Mental Misstep. My opponent once again started with a Mountain. I drew Mox Ruby and played it along with Scalding Tarn. I kept my mana open so I could either play Brainstorm if I would need to try to counter something really annoying or just play the Priest (which I would prefer). My opponent surprised me by playing Smash to Smithereens, so I let that resolve, took the mana from the Mox and played the Priest. I drew Black Lotus and tried playing Brainstorm that did not resolve. So I played Ponder and I had to shuffle my library. Of the top I drew Young Pyromancer and I played it, sacrificing my Lotus. Next I countered my opponent's Chain Lightning and then watched Magus of the Moon resolve.

I decided to attack only with my Priest leaving Pyromancer (and its token) behind. The damage went through. Next turn my opponent played Chain Lightning that killed Priest, Magus and Pyromancer. Once again the board consisted of mana sources and lonely Elemental. Unfortunately not for so long since my opponent played Scab-Clan Berserker and it became Renowned after it hit me for 2 taking me down to 11. I drew another Containment Priest that turn so I hoped to double block the creature and counter a Lightning Bolt if my opponent would have it. He had the Bolt so I had to take 4 damage in total (from Misstep and Berserker) but I managed to block and kill the Berserker which was definitely worth it.

After this we were both in top deck mode so I expected to be the one favored. My opponent though top decked Simian Spirit Guide and played it. I drew Preordain and found Delver. I wondered if the Delver would flip or would have to chump block the Guide later. I decided to keep the Delver and try my luck. The Delver flipped but Simian Spirit Guide was joined by Eidolon of the Great Revel and I lost the game two turns later.

Game 3 I kept Preordain, Force of Will, Volcanic Island, Ponder, Young Pyromancer, Scalding Tarn and Delver of Secrets. I played the Delver. It died, I didn't mind and played my Pyromancer hoping my opponent wouldn't play Sudden Shock. Well, Pyromancer died to Sudden Shock, obviously. I played Ponder finding three lands. I kept the lands there drawing a fetchland so I could fetch for Tundra that I would certainly need later. Then I drew Young Pyromancer, followed by another one. I dealt with Scab-Clan Berserker and Magus of the Moon and then was left with Flusterstorm in my hand (not a great card against this deck obviously). My opponent played 2 Eidolon of the Great Revel then. It was a staring contest till I drew Containment Priest that I decided to sacrifice (I wanted it to trade with Eidolon). I played it taking 4 damage from the Eidolons and attacked with it. It traded with one of the Eidolons. My opponent then played Simian Spirit Guide taking 2 damage and going down to 9. I countered it with Force of Will pitching Flusterstorm (ha, found a use for it). Alpha strike followed because in two swings I would deal those 9 damage. I won. (Containment Priest MVP)

Round 6
I was paired with Kingneckbeard so I expected to play against Pitch Dredge. After seeing my hand I just couldn't believe my eyes. It was the first hand ever that could possibly beat Dredge game 1. I also knew though that he is THE Dredge player so I did not expect to win the match anyway. I actually made this match public so you can watch it if interested.

In short my hand was Dack Fayden, Gitaxian Probe, Mox Ruby, Preordain, Gitaxian Probe, Young Pyromancer, Black Lotus. That meant that I could play Pyromancer and bunch of spells turn 1 and thus possibly deal lethal damage by turn 3 (if I would draw Lightning Bolt) or 4. I knew that my opponent would side in Dark Depths and Thespian's Stage/Vampire Hexmage but I wasn't really sure what else the deck would be doing and what he would side out (I don't know a thing about Dredge). Nevertheless I sided in Containment Priests, Rest in Peace and Grafdigger's Cage. I did not expect to need Flusterstorm and Stony Silence. I also sided out Jace (too slow), Treasure Cruise/Dig Through Time (not sure if I would be able to play it, especially with Rest in Peace/Leyline of the Void in play) and Dack Fayden (better than Jace but costing 3 mana).

My first hand looked ok against other decks but it wasn't promising against Dredge that could kill me soon with Dark Depths. The lack of Preordain/Ponder/Brainstorm made me mulligan. The second hand without any land/fast mana was not 'keepable' at all. The third hand containing Delver of Secrets, Force of Will, Flooded Strand, Ancestral Recall and Young Pyromancer looked way better and I was glad to see such a hand after two mulligans. I send Gush to the bottom of the library and wondered how the game would play out. My opponent played Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth followed by Dark Depths. On turn 3 my opponent played Stinkweed Imp that I did not want to counter since the card would just come back later so I waited for my draw to see if I could deal with it in another way. I drew Rest in Peace that I did not expect to need but it would solve my Imp problem if need be. I played Delver, killed the Imp and attacked for 2. Next turn my opponent played Thespian's Stage so it was pretty possible I would just die next turn but I luckily top decked Path to Exile and my opponent saw that because I revealed the card with Delver. I attacked once again. My opponent then copied my Tundra surprising me. He played Serum Powder on his turn which surprised me even more and Narcomoeba which I expected even though I was as confused as I could possibly be. I attacked and the Moeba chumped Delver. My opponent then dredged and played the Imp. I Force'ed it because I wanted to keep the PTE for something else and still could deal damage. Then I made a play I'm not really proud of. I played Dack Fayden and discarded two cards that I could actually keep (at least the Tundra, I wanted to keep that). I expected to win the game but that might be because I did not really know how the game could go wrong for me. If Ichorid would crawl out of the graveyard and another one would be played from hand I would face 4 zombies possibly. I still had the PTE which would deal with one leaving 2 zombies in play, this way I would still deal 4 damage though. Anyway nothing crawled out of the graveyard and my opponent played Ichorid and I exiled it. My opponent conceded.

After this match I had to calm down because too many unusual things happened and I wasn't really in control of the game. I got lucky in this match and I needed to collect my wits so I could win the next match and not screw it up as in the previous Power Nine Challenges. I also realized that I'm not only distracted but also pretty tired.

Round 7
My next opponent was k0de who greeted me and wished me luck (it cheered me up a bit). So I did the same a checked my hand. It looked pretty good, especially against Shops. I had Young Pyromancer, Scalding Tarn, Island, Delver of Secrets, Force of Will, Dack Fayden and Tundra. I won the die roll so I played an Island and Delver in case I would play against Shops. My opponent started with Mox Pearl, Mishra's Workshop and Lodestone Golem. No matter how I liked my Dack Fayden I had to pitch it to Force and counter the Golem. Next turn my Delver did not flip. I could play Pyromancer though that could help me create some blockers. My opponent played yet another Lodestone Golem. My Delver did not flip once again but this time I did not draw a land but rather another Delver of Secrets which I actually welcomed since one of the Delvers could trade with Golem and the other one would still stay in play. Unfortunately though my opponent played a third Lodestone Golem and Tangle Wire. So I let my Delvers stay untapped in case they would flip and tapped everything else. Delvers did flip (Preordain). I expected my opponent attacking with both Golems and Mishra's Factory. He did, so my Delvers traded with his Golems and I went down to 10 (Factory got pumped by another Factory). Next turn I decided to tap my Pyromancer since it certainly wouldn't want to block anyway. This way I could play one 1-mana spell (there was Sphere of Resistance in play). Since I drew Path to Exile I decided to pass the turn and deal with one of the Factories hoping my opponent wouldn't play another Sphere or Golem first. My opponent attacked first so I exiled one of the Factories and let the other one deal 2 damage to me. I drew Force of Will so I wondered if I want to be able to play it or play Preordain so I could have blockers for the Factory. I was down to 8 at that time. I decided to have the possibility to Force rather and attacked with my two creatures. Next turn my opponent attacked once again and then he played Phyrexian Revoker naming Dack Fayden. I did not really care much about that since 1/1 Elemental can block that and I can attack through it as well. I drew a blue card - Gush - so I could play my Preordain. I found Young Pyromancer and FoW that I decided to keep. I played Gush, played a land so I could Force something and passed the turn. My opponent animated his land and I could finally get rid of it. I Force'ed his Thorn of Amethyst even though I wasn't sure if that was necessary. I drew Delver of Secrets but rather played Pyromancer instead because next turn I could not possibly play it if Sphere of Resistance, Wasteland or Tangle Wire or whatever would hit the table. It actually did (Sphere). Next turn it was time for an alpha strike. He let it through so I played Delver as a blocker and passed. My opponent conceded.

I sided all my hate against Shops - 3 Ingot Chewer, 2 Wear/Tear, Stony Silence and Mountain. My hand contained Black Lotus, Flooded Strand, Delver of Secrets, Path to Exile, Preordain, Lightning Bolt and Ancestral Recall which was pretty good. Even if there would be Sphere in play I could still play the Lotus and something else. My opponent played Ancient Tomb and Arcbound Ravager which I actually liked to see since that did not seem as a good start for my opponent. Hangarback Walker would be a nice follow up but I already had several ways how to deal with two creatures. So I played my Lotus, Ancestral Recall, Preordain, Delver and Lightning Bolt on t1. I found Stony Silence and Force of Will so I did not expect to lose this game. My opponent obviously did not have fast mana and the Tomb would hurt him a lot since he needed to play something. He played Hangarback Walker that I countered even though I guess there was no need for that. But I wanted to play Stony Silence next turn and I did not want to care about a 2/2 in play that could possibly block my Delver of Secrets and slow me down. My opponent probably top decked Mishra's Workshop and played Phyrexian Revoker. I had 2 Path to Exile, Ingot Chewer and Wear/Tear in my hand so I did not really care about his creatures (Triskelion would deal with 2 of my creatures and Duplicant with 1). I killed the Revoker and won.

We chatted for the rest of my opponent's timer about Shops and restrictions that could possibly happen. After this I wanted to wait for the standings. I was well aware that ending up in the top 8 was actually possible but I very highly doubted it. When the round ended and I was listed as the first player that did not make it to top 8. It hurt me.

I stared at the standings for a while and wondered about the games I lost. I knew that I messed up in both game but well all I can do is learn from my mistakes and go on. I placed well even though I did not top 8 and I will have many chances to try once again. Playing in the Power Nine Challenges was fun and I really enjoyed all of the tournaments so I expect to have fun next month as well (I would also like to participate in the Legacy one). 

I'd like to thank to all the players I played prior the tournament and especially No_Outs against whom I had an awesome game (that eventually woke me up for the tournament). You can watch it if you like, his Miracles deck is sweet.

Thank you all for reading and I hope to see you in the next Power Nine Challenge. 

In the end of this report I'd like to share metagame data collected by Diophan and ChubbyRain (thank you guys!).

Total Number of Players 74

Shops (Ravager, Aggro, Tiny Robots, Dark Depths, Uba stax)
Number of Players 15
Win Percentage 52.6%

Gush (Mentor, Delver, Grixis Pyromancer)
Number of Players 18
Win Percentage 55.2%

"Blue Control" (Landstill, Grixis, Painter, Thoughtcast, etc.)
Number of Players 14
Win Percentage 40.9%

Dredge (Traditional/Pitch)
Number of Players 8
Win Percentage 50.9%

Oath (Odd, Omni)
Number of Players 3
Win Percentage 77.8%

Combo (DPS, Doomsday, Gush/Tendrils)
Number of Players 6
Win Percentage 48.6%

Other (White Trash, BUG Fish, miscellaneous singleton decks)
Number of Players 9
Win Percentage 38.6%