It's strange, the last time I went to a prerelease I could only stay for a certain amount of time and didn't have much fun. This time was much different/better, as I found a new great place to play cards, learned a lot about the new set, and even won some prizes.
I showed up to The Grid in Manchester, CT today to do the prerelease (I would have yesterday, but I was in Boston), and the store looks amazing off the bat. Everything you could want: food, drinks, tons of places to play, comics, plenty of cards, etc. I bought 4 Ad Nauseam just because they were a dollar each (how is that possible??), and it was off to sealed.
I won't bother showing my entire pool, rather, I'll just post the deck I made:
Roight, so I know this list doesn't look like much, because it isn't. My rares weren't great for monetary reasons at all, I got Shape Anew, Tempered Steel, Livewire Lash, Steel Hellkite, Mimic Vat, and Argentum Armor. I'm not really complaining in terms of limited capability, but they're not really moneymakers. So, I constructed the following mess and piloted it to a 2-1-1 record, winning matches on some tight playskill and waiting it out till I found my bombs in Argentum Armor and Steel Hellkite. The rounds went as such:
Round 1: vs U/G
Round 1 was great fun, if it didn't take hella long. The first game itself basically took around 30-40 minutes, and I lost. Not a good start. Basically, the ground got gummed up with creatures, and I got flooded late in the game while he plowed through with Darkslick Drakes. Game 2, my deck did its thang and some golem equipped with Argentum Armor took the game down in extra turns, bringing it to a draw. Interesting note: each game, he got his Sword of Body and Mind, but I killed it twice with some form of artifact hate.
Round 2: R/W
This round was much less fair. This guy's Metalcraft deck was filled to the brim with bombs, and I got to experience it firsthand. First game, I'm not even really sure what happened, only that I tried to poison him out with Blight Mamba, but he crushed me. Second game, I got to experience the unfairness that is Myr Battlesphere. I eventually killed the sphere itself, but the guys it left on the board wiped me out.
Round 3: B/R
This guy's B/R deck wasn't that great at all, which is probably why I was playing him in this bracket. There isn't much to say about this match, I took it down with card quality and some good plays (like removing Kudoltha Phoenix with Mimic Vat-sick).
Round 4: G/R
I basically played the mirror match of my deck in this one, with many of the cards being the same or similar. All 3 games were very tight, with third one being close because I didn't realize some 2/2 creature had infect instead of normal damage, and got 6 poison counters before I realized I couldn't take it anymore. Our decks were small by the time we finished our marathon games, and I barely edged it out in the three game set.
For my troubles, I got a playset of Shards, so I'm pretty happy about that. Also, I found a great new place to play, so I'm even more excited about going back. All in all, it was a pretty good, and very productive, prerelease.
Oh, and watch out for Wurmcoil Engine: That guy's gonna challenge the Titans in terms of power level.
So as of now (9/9), it looks like we have all the keywords and all the planeswalkers that will be printed in Scars of Mirrodin. I'll go over each one of them now:
Metalcraft: So this mechanic has only been printed on a few green cards and an artifact at the time of me writing this, making me believe that this is green's mechanic. Furthermore, does every color get a mechanic in Scars? Prolly not, some colors might have "themes", like 5-power creatures for Naya. ANYway, I'm not a huge fan of Metalcraft. Since every card that has it right now says "if you control 3 or more artifacts", it leads me to believe that every card with Metalcraft will revolve around having 3 artifacts. This is an ok idea, but it also seems like kinda lazy design. Right now, the only real interaction I can see with this design is destroying an artifact of someone who has 3, and surprising a creature mid-combat, or similarly, flashing an artifact into play while only having 2. It would seem that Metalcraft: X would have been better, like Metalcraft 2 or Metalcraft 4. That would have freed up a lot of interaction with this mechanic, but right now, it's meh. That's not to say it won't be good: that 4/4 for 4 that gets +4+4 and trample with Metalcraft activated is nothing to sneeze at in limited. But as abilities go, it seems like a very...Limited ability.
Imprint: So they told us a mechanic was returning from old Mirrodin, and this is it. Imprint was a fine mechanic, and I have no problem with it returning. Knowing Wizards, they will put a much different spin on the mechanic and make it new and shiny again, so I'm waiting to see what that'll be. Not much else to say about it, except that the 2/2 for 5 creature with it that imprints 4 cards of your library and puts an imprinted creature into play when it goes to the grave seems pretty terrible. Top 4 cards doesn't give you much hope to get that Emrakul, and THEN you have to kill your own dude. Seems clunky. Good mechanic, though.
Infect: Ahh, so HERE'S where the good mechanics have been hiding! Infect marks the return of Poison, something Rosewater has been wanting to do for a long, long time. Poison is associated with Phyrexians this time, as it seems like it's their premier ability, and will probably be focused to black/blue/artifact creatures affiliated with Phyrexia. The ability itself is like poison grafted with Wither, making the creatures a force to reckon with: do I take the poison counter, or shrink/kill one of my own dudes? It'll be a tough choice to make. I love Infect: it seems powerful, flavorful, and just a great mechanic all around.
Proliferate: Here's the most intriguing mechanic of the bunch: Proliferate allows you to put a counter on ANYTHING that already has a counter on it, of your choosing. Hear that? OF YOUR CHOOSING. That means, your planeswalkers, your level up creatures, your +1+1 counters creatures, everything you own, gets a boost. Oh, and your opponent's poison counters and their -1-1 Infect counters? Yeah, they'll grow too. Seems one sided, because it is, and it's also pretty powerful in a block that's going to be throwing around all sorts of counters, willy-nilly. Proliferate decks will blow up in limited, getting some insane plays, and may even make it to constructed: I'm sure JTMS wouldn't mind having an extra counter or two to play with. Very, very powerful mechanic here, but probably not TOO powerful (after all, it's not Cascade or anything).
So there are your mechanics. Some are amazing design (Infect/Proliferate), some are expected (Imprint), and some leave me a bit disappointed (Metalcraft). Although the whole spoiler isn't up yet, and I could change my mind, these mechanics are here to stay.
While we're on the topic of new cards, how bout them new Planeswalkers??
Venser, the Sojourner-3WU
+2:Exile target permanent you own. Return it to the battlefield at the beginning of the next end step.
-1: Creatures are unblockable this turn.
-8: You get an emblem with "Whenever you cast a spell, exile target permanent."
When Venser's picture showed up a few weeks before his card was spoiled, everyone flipped out and correctly pegged him to be Blue/White. The real card is powerful, especially his ultimate ability, but it has me sort of confused to how good and expensive he'll actually be. Downsides: he costs 5, he can't protect himself (his second ability basically does the opposite, making your dudes go on offense), and his Blink ability may not have a great target off the bat. The positives: 3 turns of unblockable creatures probably means a dead opponent (especially with poison!!), tons of cards with CIPT abilties to interact with, final ability is DEVASTATING. So basically, it looks like casual fans will love him, especially the EDH crowd, but he may have a hard time finding a home in constructed formats, except for perhaps a 1-2 of in U/W control decks. Lotsa hype; we'll see if he deserves it.
Speaking of U/W Control, it now has more planeswalkers than it knows what to do with:
Elspeth Tirel: 3WW
+2:You gain 1 life for each creature you control.
-2:Put three 1/1 white Soldier creature tokens onto the battlefield.
-5:Destroy all other permanents except for lands and tokens.
The good news for frustrated planeswalker-haters: This Elspeth is not nearly as amazing as the old one. Costing 5 is much different from costing 4, and her abilities don't straight up win the game as fast. The bad news: she's still really amazing. After just one plus activation, she's ready to blow up everything you own except for lands and tokens. She can defend herself amazingly, and her abilities interact really well. These great blue and white planeswalkers make me somewhat afraid of what U/W control will look like post-rotation...
Lastly, the new guy:
Koth of the Hammer: 2RR
+1: Untap target Mountian. It becomes a 4/4 red Elemental creature until end of turn. It's still a land.
-2: Add to your mana pool for each Mountain you control.
-5: You get an emblem with "Mountains you control have ':symtap:: This land deals 1 damage to target creature or player.'"
Uhhh, yeah. This guy is good. He will spawn new archetypes, decks that now want to play as many mountains as possible. I see Big Red being a force to be reckoned with because of this card. I can see this planeswalker actually going overlooked, because some people may be disappointed he's not as good as Jace 2.0. But make no mistake: he's powerful, and may be the most powerful out of all the new walkers, in the right deck. Watch out for him...he may be a sleeper if people underestimate him.
So there we have it, that's a lot of words. Ultimately, I'm excited to see what other cards will come out of Scars, and to start playing it.
Oh, by the way...have you SEEN Platinum Emperion???
So, I know it isn't the best draft deck EVAR, like the title says, but it's the best one I've built in a long time, and I thought I'd share.
Noone around me was really drafting black, clearly, so I just kept on scooping up not only great removal, like Doom Blade and 2 freaking Corrupts, but pretty marginal removal, like Quag Sickness and Assassinate. The point is, lots of removal, and Rise from the Grave wasn't bad for reanimating the dudes I killed.
1st pack 1st pick was Nantuko Shade versus a bunch of mediocre cards. I was torn between committing heavily to black so early on, or picking a weaker card. I eventually thought that the Shade would be good even if black wasn't my main color: at least I could always pump it twice. Pack 2 presented an amazing equipment: Sword of Vengeance, which should NEVER get passed, outside of a foil Grave or Primeval Titan. And I was passed a Phylactery Lich in the 3rd pack, and I figured it'd work well with the Sword and two Warlord's Axes I already had. Lich and Sword? Kinda like constructed!
I didn't lose a game in my 3 match rounds. Granted, it was only against the local players, but still. This deck was brutal. It took down Baneslayers and reanimated them as zombies, scoffed at Leviathans, and Corrupted people to death. In other words, just my play style.
Round 1, I played against a blue/white/green deck, and I had basically the best draw this deck could have in game one: T1 Viscera Seer, T2 Child of Night (a friend looked over and jokingly asked if I got Captivating Vampire as well at this point), T3 Sword, and T4 Lich. My opponent had a T4 Giant Spider. I won that game. The second game, he didn't draw land and had to discard, and I tutored for the Sword after I had the Lich in hand.
Round 2 I played a good player with a Red/White burn/angel deck. He had good draws, including the Baneslayer I knew he had, an Angelic Arbiter I didn't know about, plus solid burn to back it up like Fireball and Chandra's Outrage. But my deck just clicked: I killed his Baneslayer with Corrupt when he played it and reanimated it the next turn with Rise from the Grave, even though he Fireballed it. I eventually just overpowered him with a mix of another Corrupt and some Sword-wielding Liches.
For the final round, I played a Blue/Black controllish type build, and I knew from insider information that he had 3 Mana Leaks main. The first game was a pretty good battle: I played out my minor spells, trying to draw his Mana Leaks, and succeeded by playing my big spells later in the game. Two big Corrupts sealed the deal. I wish the second game was closer, but he stalled out on mana.
The deck was just amazing, it just killed EVERYthing it saw and stomped with big, indestructible creatures. It was exactly my playstyle, and it performed beautifully. I won some packs for getting in first, and because my little brother didn't do so well in the draft, I threw him a pack, and in it contained an Ajani Goldmane for the deck he needed!! He was so excited, and all of my friends were like "sucks for you! you just gave away a planeswalker!!", but I was just happy to see my brother so happy. It was a great event.
I've been trying to get around mods yelling at me for doing stupid **** for ages, so blogs are a neat loophole!
Lookit me, I'm using the bolded red font! And there's nothing moderators can do about it because this is in the blog section and they have no jurisdiction here! Unless one of them pulls a "Batman going to Hong Kong" manuever and moderates me ANYway...that'd suck.
Anyway, just wanna abuse this power for a bit. Done now.
Is there a limited format more boring than a core set?
I think not.
For serialz, it pains me to see pros and hotshots at Wizards pretend like they're so excited by this format. Here's how you play: open a Planeswalker, win. Open a bomb that's difficult to deal with, win. It's Magic stripped down to its stupidest and more basic roots: let's give it up for playing Grizzly Bears! When you come from a halfway interesting limited format like ACR or even Lorwyn, M10 is just shudder-worthy.
Once more, I find myself placing more and more stock in Zendikar. It looks cool so far, but if it's as big as a let down as M10, I might just take a hiatus.
Now that the Great Rules Change of June 09' has set in and the spoiler has finally been completed, I feel it's necessary for me to weigh in on the changes to the game, positives and negatives.
In short, I hate M10.
I hate the seemingly unnecessary rules changes to the combat phase. The phrase "don't fix what isn't broken" comes to mind, and stacking damage obviously wasn't broken. Obseleting hundreds of creatures and deck strategies (I USED to love Lyzolda, the Blood Witch...), this change was made to appeal to the newer players, who apparently found using the stack when it came to combat "unintuitive". Goody for the newer players, but what about the tens of thousands of older players who liked the rules how they were? So sorry that we don't blindly buy and rip open packs anymore like your new customers, Wizards, but did it ever occur to you to keep us happy as well? The change to the combat phase made a lot of players put down their cards for good, and while I'm not in this camp, I seriously considered it. And yes, I have played and tested with the new rules, I'm not just saying this without that to back me up.
The power creep in the new core set also bugs the hell out of me. It's no secret that creatures and spells are getting more efficeint, but at what cost? With newer, shinier cards and mechanics, the game will probably forget about 3/4ths of the older cards in the game, since they are outdated and puny compared to the newer cards. I mean, really, a 9/9 Shroud for 7? What the hell??
I, like many others, am underwhelmed by the rare lands in the set. Not being able to play a spell on turn one, whether it be a Duress or a Figure of Destiny, is a huge setback. These lands feel like they should be common, and I'm seriously wondering if I'll play them over the Tri-lands in Alara. How much time went into designing these things, anyway? Would have been that hard and painful to reprint the friendly colored duals from Ravnica? But it all comes back to selling out for the newer players: noobs HATE to deal damage to themselves, so let's not reprint what is obviously a better designed card for them.
Oh, and don't even get me started on the "near reprints" of newer cards. It seems to me that the creative team took a break on this set, and said "let's tell them half the cards will be new...but have functional reprints for half of the 'new' cards!" A "new" Counsel of the Soratami, when it could have been perfectly balanced as an instant? A worse Terror (in my opinion, regeneration is more important than hitting artifact creatures, we're not in Mirrodin anymore)? A better Savannah Lions because of its rarity and creature type? All these "reprints" confound and upset me, and only add to the fact that I won't be purchasing any M10.
Lastly, color imbalance is prevalent in M10. How hard is it, really, to balance the colors out evenly, especially in a core set? Like I said, just how much design went into making this set? Why does White get an Angel that could cost two more mana than it does, and STILL be played, a better Savannah Lions, a monster Lord, half of an Orim's Chant, AND a freaking Shock??? Why does blue get shafted horribly, getting mediocre counterspells (with stupid different names) and overcosted flying creatures? And more importantly, why does Black, my favorite color, keep getting bottom-of-the-barrel chaff like Assassinate, Relentless Rats, and an updated creature type in Vampires that still probably won't see any play?!
All of these changes, in addition to the ones that I have forgotten at the moment but still am pissed about, lead into the fact that I won't be buying any M10, in paper products or otherwise. This beyond-disappointing core set has left me wondering if I'll even play in the fall; it all hinges upon Zendikar. If ZEN turns out to be as successful as Ravnica, I'll stay in the game. Otherwise, I don't like where this type of Magic is headed.
Right, so I've decided to start recording and posting some of the drafts I do on MTGO on this blog forum. I figure this is a good way for me to check back and see either what the hell I was thinking, or what to repeat for next time. Whether or not you guys comment on this doesn't really matter to me, it's just an excersize for me to get better at limited.
So this is not my first Alara Block draft, but it's the first one I've recorded. Right off the bat, I receive strange signals from almost every pick, and by the end of Shards, I have decent cards...of EVERY COLOR. Now, I hate drafting 5 color, because it seems like you have to pay more attention to your manabase than you do your creatures and spells, the meat and potatoes of a draft. Why fiddle around fixing mana if you can just win by curving out with decent dudes? But this draft gave me no other choice but to go 5 Color, so I picked cards accordingly.
During deck construction, I was getting worried that I didn't have enough creatures to support my mana-fixing spells. I ended up with 9 or 10 creatures, but most of them were quality dudes like Lorescale Coatl and Worldheart Phoenix, which I could easily recur.
The first game in the first round (I'm doing Swiss, so that I'm almost guaranteed product if my deck doesn't completely blow) doesn't go as planned, with his Jund deck running over my 5 color manabase when his Goblin Mountaineer becomes equipped with a Quietus Spike, and goes to town on my Mountain, and me. But in games 2 and 3, I pull it together long enough to establish a manabase and wreck him with my superior card quality. Vengeful Rebirth and Slave of Bolas were allstars in this round, the latter stealing a Sprouting Thrinax and netting me some tokens in the process. I was worried about my manabase and fixers, but after this round I was confident I could win at least another round with this deck.
The second round...didn't go as planned. I played another Jund deck, but this one splashed White for Leonin Armorguard and some other stuff. In both games, he ran me over with really quick dudes like Jund Hackblade, Shambling Remains, Matca Rioters, and topped off with a Leonin Armorguard. I tried to set up defenses with removal and creatures, but my mana couldn't handle it, and neither could I. This deck, along with a Bant exalted aggro deck, were my worst matchups, and I'm just glad it was over.
Sadly, it wasn't meant to be in the third round either. I played against a very solid Naya deck, whose creatures were pretty insane. I threw up removal after removal, even Slave of Bolas-ing twice after Vengeful Rebirthing it. Didn't stop him. And really, what else am I supposed to do in that situation?
Even though it was disappointing, this happens all too often: Alara presents difficult and confusing signals, those signals are expanded upon in Conflux, and I look to Reborn to salvage my deck. In hindsight, I shoulda added more creatures to the deck, even though my spells were solid.
It's been a little bit since I complained about the electoral college system in the United States, so I'll talk about something more lighthearted.
I got home two days ago for Christmas, and I couldn't feel better about having almost no priorities during the seasonal holiday. I just got all my Christmas shopping done today, which means I get to sit back, hang out with friends, and watch Christmas specials until the 25th rolls around. It's an incredible feeling: I had almost forgot what it was like to be bored during the past semester, which was hellish in my amount of responsibilities. Turns out, Music Education is really like double-majoring, but you're not.
Anyway, when I sat down and watched Sunshine on HBO the day I was finished with all my work (amazing movie, by the way), I was almost anxious about the work that I didn't have to do. Never before in the semester could I simply lay down and watch a 2 hour movie without being worried about some assignment, or that nagging feeling that said I should be practicing. I was bored, and I loved it. There should be a lot more of that feeling this winter break, along with next semester at school, because it won't be nearly as hard as this previous one.
On a Magic related note (this is a Magic forum after all, I guess), I haven't been playing cards nearly as much as I'd like to this semester. In Hartford, it's tough to find a place, or enough time, or sufficient interested people to play with on campus, so as a result, I've been taking a bit of a break from cards. I do a draft online once and a while to keep my skills sharp, but anyone who's ever drafted online and got knocked out in the first round knows just how frustrating that can be: the sensation of draining your bank account of $15 for almost no reason is reason enough to yank hair out of your head. But I should be able to go to a few tournaments over break, even though I don't have a type 2 deck anymore, my old one isn't legal any longer (that's how long I've been out of the loop).
Lastly, a word about the holidays, and excuse me if this sounds sappy: when you're a kid, you get so excited for Santa and presents, that you almost disregard the "real" meaning of Christmas. I now know the real meaning of Christmas, and it's not material gifts; it's not even praising the birth of our savior (in my family, at least). It's more about having the people you love all together in one place again (AWWWWW). It may sound cheesy, but it's true. When I was in elementary through high school, my family being together was a given, since I was never far away from them. But after my bigger brother went to Qatar for a bit for the Air Force National Guard, and I went seven hours away from home for college, being back together means more than I thought. Christmas isn't even about the gifts so much anymore; it'd be nice to get a few new things, but the real meaning of Christmas is relaxing and doing something simple like watching the Sabres game on TV with my family in the room. Sappy, I know, but I'll miss it when I grow up, get a family, and move away for good.
I'm done being sentimental, for those of you who actually read this. See you all next time.
As the title indicates, it's a little late to be talking about the election, but bear with me. I just wanted to describe how I feel the electoral college system is devaluing some people's votes.
I'm going to college in Connecticut, but I'm originally from New York, which means I had to send for an absentee ballot. I sent out the form for an absentee ballot a few weeks before the election, along with my registration form. Now, I dunno what exactly happened in this time, but I never received an absentee ballot in the mail, which means I couldn't vote in the election.
But as time progressed, I cared less and less about my vote in the election. I wanted to support Obama, not because of the stupid bandwagon-ish reasons that most of my campus did, but because I believed Obama's educational reform policies to be better than McCain's (I'm going to be a teacher when I graduate). But as time went by, I realized that Connecticut's electoral collages were voting in Obama's favor, in addition to New York's, where my vote would have counted. There was NOTHING I could do to influence either side in the election, because I couldn't reason with moron bandwagoners, and because there were too few McCain supporters on campus to make a difference. And even if there was, if EVERYONE on my campus voted for McCain, or didn't vote at all, it would not have changed the electoral college's vote for Obama. I knew the popular vote was there too, but it didn't matter as much as the electoral college. I felt helpless in my vote, and that's why I don't care that I didn't vote in this "historic election" (news flash: every election is historic.).
Obviously, me complaining about the electoral college system will do nothing, because above all else, it works. But there must be someone else who agrees with me on this, doesn't it feel like your vote doesn't count if you can't change the result? Really, the only reason I saw to vote was to help myself sleep at night, and I can do that without voting.
Ok, so I'm pretty hooked on Grixis ever since I saw that it would be a decaying, fetid landscape of death and destruction. I really want to try to make a competitive and flavorful deck based around the Shard, so here's my take on the Grixis shard for post Alara Standard:
There you have it. Thoroughly untested, yes, but there's the skeleton. Now, I know this may not be a tier one deck, but it fits my style of playing very well, using a lot of removal to lock down the board and then crush the opponent through card advantage and huge monsters. First of all, the reason why I only have 3 of's for so many cards is because I'm still testing them, and I don't know if they're good enough to put in a playset of them (Sedraxis Specter, Grixis Charm, Agony Warp). I'll settle on a more accurate number after I test a little. The main reason why I built this deck is Cruel Ultimatum. As many of you know who have tested this card, it's hard to lose once you play it, and it's hilarious to chain them together. I've Ultimatum'ed a guy 3 times in one game, all back to back. I love winning with the opponent having nothing and me having everything. I guess that's the black mage in me. Anyway, comments, critiques, whatever, are welcome.