Saturday, July 11, 2015

Magic Origins Pre-Release #1: No Reason to Feel Blue

The first thing I saw when I opened my pre-release box was a foil Jace, Vryn's Prodigy.  I took that as a good sign, and resolved to play Blue no matter what.  I am superstitious, and not playing a foil planeswalker feels like blasphemy against the Magic gods.

In retrospect, perhaps it would have been better to be an atheist.  Both White and Green had decent creatures with top-end forces like Kytheon's Irregulars, Rhox Maulers, Sentinel of the Eternal Watch, and Gaea's Revenge.  Red had some good removal.  Eventually I decided that creatures were better than removal, and built a Blue-Green-White deck.

  CREATURES (18)  
Bounding Krasis
Elvish Visionary
Gaea's Revenge
Hitchclaw Recluse
Jace, Vryn's Prodigy
Jhessian Thief
Kytheon's Irregulars
Leaf Gilder x3
Rhox Maulers
Sentinel of the Eternal Watch
Separatist Voidmage
Sigiled Starfish x2
Topan Freeblade
Undercity Troll
Yeva's Forcemage
Stratus Walk
Alchemist's Vial
Anchor to the Aether
Tragic Arrogance
  LANDS (17)  
Evolving Wilds
Forest x6
Island x6
Plains x4
Akroan Jailer
Auramancer x2
Charging Griffin
Enshrouding Mist
Healing Hands
Knight of the Pilgrim's Road
Kytheon's Tactics
Mighty Leap
Stalwart Aven
Totem-Guide Hartebeest
Maritime Guard x3
Nivix Barrier x2
Ringwarden Owl
Thopter Spy Network
Tower Geist
Watercourser x2
Dark Dabbling x2
Deadbridge Shaman
Infernal Scarring
Macabre Waltz
Read the Bones
Returned Centaur
Thornbow Archer
Touch of Moonglove
Unholy Hunger
Weight of the Underworld
Act of Treason
Avaricious Dragon
Bellows Lizard
Boggart Brute
Chandra's Fury x2
Fiery Impulse x3
Flameshadow Conjuring
Goblin Glory Chaser
Mage-Ring Bully
Ravaging Blaze
Skyraker Giant
Subterranean Scout
Titan's Strength
Orchard Spirit
Sylvan Messenger x2
Timberpack Wolf x2
Blazing Hellhound
Zendikar Incarnate
Alchemist's Vial
Guardian Automaton
Guardians of Meletis x2
Helm of the Gods
Prism Ring
Foundry of the Consuls
Mage-Ring Network

My overall strategy: cheap drops to stall the board, Sigiled Starfish and Jace to craft my hand, and my big creatures to close the game out. It sounded okay in concept, but the execution seemed variable due to being in three colors.  And the lack of any instant-speed tricks (other than Bounding Krasis) made me uneasy.

Round 1

I played against a Red-White Aggro deck, full of two and three drop creatures.  The first game was a desperate scramble to stabilize after my opponent played Kytheon's Irregulars on turn 4.  By the time I drew Tragic Arrogance, it was too late; I held on for some turns after that but was unable to withstand his second round of creatures.

Game 2 went far better for me, with my early creatures stalling his out.  On the last turn I flipped Jace into a planeswalker and also played a Sentinel of the Eternal Watch, and my opponent scooped.

Game 3 was an uphill battle after my opponent played a turn 1 Anointer of Champions followed by a turn 3 double-striking Iroas's Champion.  I eventually slowed his attacks with a Rhox Maulers, but after that I drew into a run of lands while he played creature after creature until he had the victory on the board.

Oh well!  At least the games were competitive.

Result: L (1-2)

Round 2

It's not a bye, it's a free win!

Result: W (Bye)

Round 3

My opponent crushed me in two games with a Blue-Red deck, and although both games lasted a while, I never really had a chance to win. He had spot removal and bulky creatures to deal with my early game, and Soulblade Djinn and smaller evasive creatures to whittle me down.  After this round I realized that my deck was not well situated to deal with a mid-range deck, as my early threats weren't dangerous enough and my late threats could be carefully picked off with spells like Claustrophobia.

Result: L (0-2)

Round 4

My opponent this round was also playing a Blue-Red deck, but his deck was more aggressive than my Round 3 opponent's, and that made the matchup more favorable for me.  I won both games stalling him early before taking control late with Kytheon's Irregulars and Sentinel of the Eternal Watch.

Result: W (2-0)


In retrospect I don't think playing Blue was the right choice - Jace or no Jace - as the cards simply weren't strong enough.  Still, in seven games I only got stuck without a color I needed once, and I wonder if three-color is more viable than people think.  Sure, the risks are there - but the risks can be mitigated with a careful consideration of how to splash that third color, and the rewards can be magnificent.

And: foil Jace!  That makes up for a hell of a lot.

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