Saturday, July 11, 2015

Magic Origins Pre-Release #3: What's Black and Green All Over?

Elves! Elves are Black and Green all over!

Okay, I admit that I was half-hoping that the foil Jace, Vryn's Prodigy that I opened in my first pre-release was a sign that my daughter and I would open up every single foil planeswalker in our five pre-releases.

That dream was quickly dashed... and yet the cards I did open seemed decent enough.  Priest of the Blood Rite and Outland Colossus are beatings, the Elf sub-theme seemed reasonably supported, and I even had decent removal in my colors.

  CREATURES (17)  
Deadbridge Shaman x2
Fleshbag Marauder
Gnarlroot Trapper
Hitchclaw Recluse x2
Leaf Gilder
Llanowar Empath
Nantuko Husk
Outland Colossus
Priest of the Blood Rite
Rabid Bloodsucker
Rhox Maulers
Shaman of the Pack
Thornbow Archers
Undercity Troll
Yeva's Forcemage
  INSTANTS (2)  
Cruel Revival
Titanic Growth
  SORCERIES (4) (4)  
Read the Bones
Reave Soul x2
Wild Instincts
  LANDS (17)  
Forest x8
Swamp x9
Aven Battle Priest
Blessed Spirits
Charging Griffin
Enshrouding Mist
Hallowed Moonlight
Healing Hands
Kytheon's Tactics x2
Mighty Leap
Murder Investigation
Stalwart Aven
Suppression Bonds
War Oracle
Yoked Ox
Aspiring Aeronaut
Calculated Dismissal
Deep-Sea Terror x2
Faerie Miscreant
Harbinger of the Tides
Maritime Guard x2
Nivix Barrier
Screeching Skaab
Sphinx's Tutelage
Tower Geist
Whirler Rogue
Gnarlroot Trapper
Infernal Scarring
Nantuko Husk
Read the Bones
Tormented Thoughts
Weight of the Underworld x2
Acolyte of the Inferno
Akroan Sergeant
Bellows Lizard
Dragon Fodder x2
Enthralling Victor
Ghirapur Gearcrafter
Infectious Bloodlust
Molten Vortex x2
Ravaging Blaze
Scab-Clan Berserker
Smash to Smithereens
Titan's Strength x2
Volcanic Rambler
Herald of the Pantheon
Might of the Masses x2
Angel's Tomb
Brawler's Plate
Chief of the Foundry
Guardian Automaton
Guardians of Meletis
Veteran's Sidearm
Evolving Wilds x2

In retrospect, using Gnarlroot Trapper was a mistake: the card simply doesn't hold up against... well... any threat, and my deck wasn't Elf-themed enough to justify his inclusion. After the first game of each round I inevitably sided him out in favor of a Weight of the Underworld.

Round 1

My opponent played a scary card in both games: Sphinx's Tutelage. But although he had some removal spells he was low on other threats, and Sphinx's Tutelage only milled me for more than two cards once.  That left me more than enough time to smash on through with my bigger creatures.

Result: W (2-0)

Round 2

My opponent this round had recently made top 8 at Grand Prix Providence, so I knew this round would be tough. He subscribes to the theory that "threats are better than answers," so I knew what to expect from his deck: creatures, creatures, and more creatures.

Fortunately I had a better creature game 1: Priest of the Blood Rite and his 5/5 flying pal.  But game 2 was not so easy; we both built up our boards until he simply overwhelmed me with the help of Liliana, Heretical Healer.

And so it came down to game 3.  I sided in Guardians of Meletis and hoped for the best.  And at first it seemed as if I would cruise to an easy victory with an early renowned Undercity Troll and a turn 5 Outland Colossus.  He stabilized before I could beat him down too far though, and the game turned into a stall.

Guardians of Meletis saved me, preventing threats such as his Rhox Maulers from getting through.  I played the patient game, saving my two Reave Soul for Pharika's Disciple and Liliana, and after a long long LONG game I finally drew Shaman of the Pack to bring him from seven life down to two. Then I simply crashed on through for his last bits of life.

Result: W (2-1)

Round 3

I ran quickly out the gate for both games in round 3, quickly outclassing his Topan Freeblade with my five-drops.  However, during the first game I was unaware that he held a Celestial Flare... or two... or (as it turns out) five.  I was lucky enough to push through enough damage anyway, and I played far more patiently the second game, making sure to never attack with a big threat unless it had a smaller buddy to die for it tag along.

Result: W (2-0)

Round 4

There were four undefeated players left (including me).  We all agreed to intentionally draw and split the top 4 prizes.

Result: Draw (ID)


And so my deck won out!  What did I learn?
  • Reave Soul is an amazing removal spell in this format, since there are so many low-cost threats.
  • The paucity of efficient removal means being able to go over the top some way... some how... is essential. 
  • Magic Origins is full of minor synergies that can provide enough incremental advantage to win you the game.  Ignore them at your peril.
Two more pre-releases to go!

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