On Saturday, despite my cold, I played in the Shards of Alara prerelease and I had an absolutely awesome time.
When I opened my cards I was very pleased. Probably the best two cards individually were Empyrial Archangel and Titanic Ultimatum. Unfortunately, I never got to play either because I never had the white mana to support them. I am however very happy with the deck I did build and it even received a compliment from one of the more experienced players.
I built a super deck based mainly on Jund, but with some Naya and Grixis cards thrown in and even (eventually) a splash of white for a Bant Charm (yes, I know it also has blue in its cost but I’ll get to that story in a moment).
So I put together the following deck (actually this is the final version which did change a few cards along the way):
Creatures: Elvish Visionary, 3 Sprouting Thrinax, Tar Fiend, Naya Battlemage, Caldera Hellion, Thunder-Thrash Elder, Rip-Clan Crasher, Cylian Elf, Viscera Dragger, Ridge Rannet, Cunning Lethemancer, Wild Nacatl, Grixis Battlemage, Cavern Thoctar, Dregscape Zombie
Mana base: 1 Plains, 5 Island, 5 Mountains, 5 Swamp
My favourite cards were (in approximate order):
Sprouting Thrinax was absolutely awesome and the fact that I received three of them in my card pool helped a lot too. It is a great creature to trade in combat because you get three tokens back when it dies. However, I think the best maneuver by far involved sacrificing saproling tokens produced by Sprouting Thrinax to Thunder-Thrash Elder and its “Devour 3” ability, thereby producing a 7/7 or 10/10 creature!
I also achieved a good mana base which only let me down once: in the second game of my first match. When I played in the Shadowmoor prerelease I also managed an acceptable mana based but this was way better.
On to the games themselves:
Round 1: I was up against a girl whose boyfriend had persuaded her to come and play so that he could get more cards. I tried to be nice. I won the first game easily and then sat with only one land for the whole of the second game. Needless to say, she beat me without any problems. I then went on to win the third game.
Result: 2-1 in my favour.
Round 2: I lost the first and third games here, both to the same card: Quietus Spike
When equipped to a flyer, especially Sharding Sphinx which first deals four damage before the Spike halves your life total, I simply had no answer to it. In later games I managed to overcome flyers simply by hitting harder than them and winning the damage race or else destroying them in some other way. In this case it took my opponent three turns to kill me after he equipped the Spike. It is worth noting that I won the second game simply by not giving up on what I thought was a hopeless situation. I managed to win by one turn and one point.
Result: 2-1 to my opponent
Round 3: In another game against white and blue, my opponent played an early Cathartic Adept but for some strange reason, he never used its ability to mill my deck which could have really hurt me. So my game went on pretty much uninterrupted and I won pretty easily.
Result: 2-0 in my favour
After round three I did a very funny thing. I decided that I wanted Bant Charm in my deck to give me a way of dealing with another Quietus Spike should it come up. So I looked carefully and removed Obelisk of Grixis and Ridge Rannet, replacing them with a plains and a Bant Charm. Unfortunately I forgot that Bant Charm also has one blue mana in its cost and I had quite neatly removed my only source of blue mana from the deck. I didn’t realize this until half way through game 2 of round 5 when I wanted to remove my opponents flyer with Bant Charm and realized that I had no way of paying for it. The white mana did come in useful however and enabled me to end my day in style.
Round 4: On my way to losing my second match of the day, I encountered another awesome card which I was actually fortunate enough to have received in my card pool but I hadn’t chosen to play it. Yes, It was Titanic Ultimatum which I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Despite eventually losing, this was one of the best games of Magic I’ve ever played. My opponent was quite experienced (far more so than me) and eventually went on to finish fourth overall. We fought tooth and nail and spent time carefully planning each move. In the first game I had him on the ropes and had just played a Thunder-Thrash Elder with +9/+9 on it to make it a 10/10. He responded by blocking my attack with a creature with deathtouch thereby removing the Elder problem. However, I had a Cunning Lethemancer in play and so we were once again at a stalemate until he drew Titanic Ultimatum and trampled over for victory. In the second game I managed to clear the board about half way through and then it was simply a case of who would draw the winning card first. Unfortunately for me, he once again drew the Ultimatum and played it with three tokens in play. I had no answer and the match was over.
Result: 2-0 to my opponent
Round 5: This was a fair battle but I did manage to win fairly easily. I won the first match while my opponent was having mana or colour problems (I’m not sure which). In the second match he beat me with a fat flyer and I never got the right cards to deal with it. In the third match my army built up remarkably quickly and it was over pretty soon. At this point I should mention that I had been trying to pay the cycling cost of Resounding Roar all day and had never had the white mana.
My mistake in inserting the Bant Charm and the single white mana to pay for it proved useful at the very end because I could finally pay the cycling cost of Resounding Roar. What a way to finish the day! That was fun!
Result: 2-1 in my favour
Whew! What a day! I had an awesome time despite being sick and I played some of the best Magic ever. I absolutely love the new set. To me its way more fun that Shadowmoor and Eventide. This coming weekend I want to try and play in some of the launch events and pick up some new cards for Janita and myself.
I scored nine points at the prerelease and finished fifteenth overall. This is so much better than I’ve ever done before that its not even comparable. Needless to say: I’m rather chuffed!