I just came home from my second prerelease event; this time it was Battle for Zendikar and at the first time I was at Magic: Origins prerelease. I had fun though I am suffering from a never-ending flu. As I only have experience on these two sanctioned events I cannot help but to compare the two. I might add that I have nowhere near as much experience on Magic: the Gathering as Aki has and I take the whole game anyway pretty differently.
A word of warning: I consider myself a Vorthos player and most of the problems I had are from that point of view.
At Origins we got to choose a colour, gained a seeded booster of the said colour and had “achievements” to unlock. I really enjoyed this aspect of the game and it improved my experience greatly. This time around there wasn’t anything like that and though I felt a bit cheated I tried to stay positive. At least there was the “allies vs. eldrazi” storyline? But it wasn’t.
From the four opponents I played against every single one played the same deck as I did; three coloured Eldrazi drones. Scions were somewhere in there too, but we rarely saw them. I think I saw a handful (6 at tops) other creatures and only a couple of big eldrazi bombs. I did hear about two players playing allies and one of my opponents had Kiora (in his eldrazi deck), but the main storyline just wasn’t there.
After the major story elements of Origins this was a bit sad. It was like “drone kombat”. I ended up removing most of non-creature spells from my BU deck and added red eldrazi drones instead.
Now I do not have anything against playing three colours but this just underlined the second problem I had during the prerelease – mana base. I didn’t get any dual lands, not even Evolving Wild. I did get a Lifespring Druid and two Natural Connections but only two eldrazi cards. I did notice this while making the deck and I realised I maybe should have built an WG ally deck – but I did not have any wincons for them and I just really did not care for their flavour.
It seemed like I wasn’t the only one struggling with mana base. From all the games I played only the last one had a pretty solid mana base on both sides. And even that I started with a couple rounds of missed land drops…
edit: Also I think I saw one (possibly two) Awakened lands in all of the games. And the one I remember clearly was a mountain I ended up killing with [card]Bone Splinters[/cards] since my opponent was struggling with his mana base…
Now I am not saying this is because game design (though some fault my lay there) but I’m not willing to blame it all on the players either. There was plenty of bad luck going around and people clearly did not have as good grasp of what they should/could be playing – as it was with Origins.
The games ended up being extremely long and a lot of them were resolved in “sudden death mode”. In my experience this did not improve the overall feeling of the event and I doubt that if this would have been my first event I could have ended up with a feeling that maybe this kind of gaming just is not for me.
Even though Battle for Zendikar seems at first glance a perfect set I cannot help but to feel a bit disappointed in it. I feel like I missed the whole story and just got a bunch of cool creatures that do not exactly fit in my EDH decks. I think I should like to give this set another shot in draft or sealed format even though I’m not that much into them.
I just really hope that this was “just an experiment” and the experiment on Origins was more successful so we get more flavourful sets and events in the future.