When the ANZ Super Series was announced I was excited to be back in the competitive scene. The main event was sure to bring out our old adventurers, coaxed from their caves and hovels to partake in big room magic again. Half of the Canberra contingent was plugging away at Pioneer for the Last Chance Regional Qualifiers and the other half were milling around excitedly at the side event tables, waiting for the biggest paper 7 Point Highlander competition since Eternal Masters in Dandenong in June.
I took notes the best I can but most of it is in crumpled napkins and demonic ramblings as I was deep in the zone. This is the tale of my first almost win with Dungeons and Dragons: my Worldgorger Dragon combo deck. Everything’s tied together in a Grixis Reanimator shell but let’s go over the combo.
- Reanimate Worldgorger Dragon (WGD) with enchantments like Animate Dead, Dance of the Dead or Necromancy
- WGD triggers, exiling all other permanents including the Animate Dead
- Animate Dead clause kills the WGD when they become disconnected, triggers again bringing everything back. Tap your lands, target WGD again with the Animate Dead and start again
- If you have Bazaar of Baghdad, Geier Reach Sanitarium or Omen of the Sea you can draw your deck and cast all the cards in your hand. If you end the loop by targeting Acererack you can go through Lost Mine of Phandelver infinitely.
Now that we have Abdel Adrian, Gorion’s Ward, we can do the same combo with our nonland permanents to make infinite soldiers. If you also manage to have Caves of Chaos Adventurer while Abdel or WGD is looping you can go through the Undercity infinitely. In the end I replaced Acererack with Tasigur then eventually with Deathrite Shaman and Chaos Adventurer didn’t make it into the 75. There are Dragons in the deck but the Dungeons remain in the sideboard, already ventured through in the testing phase.
Match 1 – Won 2-1 against Blue Moon
Game 1 rode a turn 3 Jin-Gitaxias off Frantic Search to a quick win with no response.
Game 2 I had to play through Magus of the Moon and Back to Basics, Gambled for a basic and almost won in my opponents end step with Necromancy but I had to go to 1 life to do so and died to Stomp, falsely guessing my opponent was holding a counter spell.
Game 3 was won off a dream and an early top deck Life // Death
Match 2 – Lost 1-2 against Sprowess
I have a lot of experience playing this matchup as the creator of Sprowess is very fortunately my wonderful partner. We knew it was going to be a quick one and we weren’t wrong, we got coffee after.
Game 1 lost turn 3 on the draw
Game 2 kept a slow hand, binned Niv Mizzet, Parun off Geier Reach Sanitarium and untapped to Reanimate. Niv is nearly a hard counter to Sprowess and I rode it to victory.
Game 3 lost turn 3 on the draw – respect the Kiln Fiend!
Match 3 – Won 2-0 against Lands
Game 1 I kept a hand with DRS and Gifts Ungiven which were late inclusions and I was fairly confident I could win after an early Gifts. Funnily enough the turn one DRS also stopped my opponents plan to lock me with Crucible of Worlds and Wasteland. Game 2 was Careful Study into Lim-Duls Vault Turn 2 into Exhume Turn 3 with counterspell back up. Didn’t know if I should counter the Maddening Hex and it did in fact almost kill me with Niv Mizzet out. Won on 6 life with opponents Veil of Summer on the stack.
Match 4 – Won 2-0 against Breach
Chifley’s a nice guy! We spent more time talking out the front of the game hall between rounds than we spent in our match. Game 1 I was a turn faster, Game 2 I played Extract Turn 1, took Underworld Breach and my opponent couldn’t win. Reanimated 2 turns later. Extract shouldn’t be good but if you just need a turn or two extra to combo off yourself it’s definitely worth the slot.
Match 5 – Won 2-0 against BUG Smog
Game 1 I let my opponent discard their hand before Spell Piercing the lethal Chain of Smog, went surprisingly low on life after killing Witherbloom Apprentice but made it through.
Game 2 saw a surprise Hulbreacher on his Brainstorm and he could not claw his way back from it. We had a lot of fun! He was new to Highlander but his deck ruled and he piloted it really well, I did notice significant life loss from him fetching out shock lands and I’m still unsure of the viability of 3 colour 8pt lists but he did really well in the end so it’s definitely good.
Quarters – Won 2-1 against 4c Midrange
Lots of interesting back and forth with Hullbreachers both sides Game 2 and 3. I beat a Leovold and a Narset and a Teferi, funnily enough with Otherworldly Gaze and Lim-Duls Vault not drawing extra cards was actually an upside. I even activated Bazaar to discard my hand with Exhume on the stack.
I misplayed by bouncing a Tormods Crypt with Otawara EOT without having a real plan when I untapped, thankfully a couple of turns later I managed to Stifle the Crypt trigger with my Reanimate on the stack. I missed a DRS activation and a Jin attack because I forgot about the Anger in my graveyard.
I also managed to fumble a line with Gamble and Griselbrand in hand, Jace VP ready to target Exhume in my bin. I thumbed Archon of Cruelty to the front of my deck, thought about the guaranteed Entomb of either Griselbrand of Archon from this Gamble but decided for some reason to instead go for the coin flip Entomb by getting Animate Dead as a backup so I can reanimate another creature the next turn. I binned the Animate Dead and passed the turn looking a bit silly with Griselbrand stranded in my Griselhand.
I’m not sure I could play any looser, to the point where I looked up at my friends, shaking their heads and I promised I would “tighten up”. I didn’t manage to tighten up but the deck was forgiving and a good top deck stole me the last game.
Semis – Won 2-0 against UR Prowess
I met committee member Kate earlier in the day, and I was stoked to see her again in the Semi Final. She was undefeated up until that point with a faster UR deck than the Blue Moon decks I was used to playing against. Game 1 I asked what her favourite drink was and if she believed in ghosts. That’s all I had time to ask about before Game 1 was over. Unfortunately she was stuck on one land and reliant on Ragavan to make treasures while she sat on a bunch of 2 mana haymakers in hand. I Stifled the 2nd Ragavan trigger because I saw the missed land drop Turn 2 and the match was mine with a quick Abdel. Game 2 included a counter fight over Dack Fayden to put Worldgorger in the bin. The game was over next turn.
Off to the finals!
Finals – Lost 1-2 against Mono Red
Game 1 was over before it started, Game 2 I simply died to Magus of the Moon. My Moon match up shouldn’t be too bad but I spent most of Game 3 making sure I had both basics, to the point where I was making suboptimal plays to do so. More proof that Moon effects work in every zone.
Game 3: Opponent has me dead next turn, attacks me with Goblin Guide and reveals Animate Dead for my nearly empty hand. Exactly what I need. I drew the Animate Dead and tank for what seems like an eternity, the win was mine and I could taste it. I just need to figure out the line. The correct line was animating Abdel, making infinite tokens to lock down the 3 ground attackers before ending the loop on Ashen Rider, exiling the Barbarian Ring and blocking the Smugglers Copter.
I was wracking my brain because I forgot you could end the Abdel loop on a new creature and was trying to figure out how I could get Niv Mizzet triggers when my opponent had me dead without casting a spell. I ended up Animating Ashen without Abdel, exiling the Barbarian Ring with the intention of blocking Copter. Opponent untapped, cast Rabblemaster, crewed and swung for exactsies.
Dungeons and Dragons has really shaped up to be a strong threat but you do have to be extremely lucky sometimes, to dodge the hate and get the right draws takes more than skill. Fortunately for me luck was on my side all weekend, I even managed to win the charity raffle on Sunday AND dodged the Rona outbreak in our playgroup! All in all a pretty solid weekend!
- Deathrite Shaman – Ended up replacing Tasigur as a distraction card / wincon with Worldgorger. (To win with Tasigur after making infinite mana with Worldgorger Dragon you simply activate Tasigur 1000 times so your nonlands are in your hand and your lands are in your graveyard, then you cast Collective Brutality, activate Tasigur to get it back, repeat until dead). Winning with Worldgorger and Deathrite is a little more dubious but technically if you have Anger in the bin and DRS looping with Worldgorger Dragon you can activate Deathrite enough times to kill your opponent. In reality finishing the loop on Niv Mizzet and casting a bunch of spells is much easier but DRS worked overtime as a mana dork and incidental graveyard hate.
- Anger – I used to play Dragon Breath which does have its advantages but Anger is required for the Abdel win if you don’t want to pass the turn. I am willing to call it a necessity at this point, getting Archon of Cruelty to deal 12 damage in one turn can win out of nowhere and hasty Griselbrand to draw more cards is critical
- Otherworldly Gaze – I did side it out a lot because the card disadvantage but you can basically keep it and nothing else in those fast opening hands because it digs so deep. It facilitated Turn 2 reanimates more than once.
- Abdel, Abdel, Abdel – having another WGD is really unreal, once I managed to flicker Omen of the Sea enough times to dig through my deck for Anger to give the soldiers haste but sometimes even just passing the turn with infinite attackers worked!
- Gifts Ungiven – Definitely okay and sometimes good but Intuition is almost certainly better at 3 mana
- Transformational sideboard – not sure why I thought I would be able to out grind the grindy decks with good grixis creatures.
- Dack Fayden – I go back and forth on him and maybe he’s okay but the only thing that kept him in the sideboard was his ability to snag graveyard hate post board. He did not do that effectively, I think Brazen Borrower is the best option instead.
And that’s it! If you like keeping an eye on the meta for graveyard complacency or simply like leaving your tournament results to a dice rolling simulator then I highly recommend sleeving up for some D&D.