Aki’s Experience at the Battle for Zendikar Prerelease

Lauri suggested I make a counterpoint to his post on the BfZ prerelease, but I’m not sure I disagree that much. I do have a different viewpoint however, so maybe this is worthwhile.

First, my pool:

If you read through the list, you know that if I hadn’t won any games, I was the real winner of the prerelease. Sure, the price of Misty Rainforest has come down quite a bit in two days, but its still quite valuable. Or at least pricey. Don’t know about its actual value.

Otherwise, I didn’t do very well. I didn’t really know what would work in the format. I knew my blue was fairly deep, so I wanted to play it, but other colors… I just didn’t know. So, at first, I went with monoblue.

I anticipated problems and the deck did have a way too high of a manacurve. Aligned Hedron Network seemed very situational. Sometimes it was a dead card, other times it was my only out. I did forget that I could use the cards held by it to fuel my processors, though. That would have been handy in some games.

Part the Waterveil became a pretty meaningless card. I cast it a couple of times to get an extra turn, but for some reason, I never seemed to be able to reach the nine mana necessary to blow my opponent out. Even then, it would have been pretty poor play considering its actually nine mana and often didn’t do anything.

The deck does have six rares, so that should account for something, right? Actually, not much, since most of them weren’t real bombs.

I did win the first round, but that was more about the inexperience of my opponent than my deck. Still, they were gruesomely close games, one of which I actually lost to a horrible mistake in sequencing my spells. I lost the next round quite convincingly to a three-colored deck, but mostly to Kiora, Master of the Depths, which came down early in both games. In the first game my Coralhelm Guide (actually, probably my MVP) helped me get rid of her, but the damage was already done.

I used the lunchbreak to rework my deck. I wasn’t sure about what I needed. I knew I didn’t have to tools to make a fast aggressive deck and I knew wouldn’t have more answers to the top end of most decks. I just decided to lower my curve so that I wouldn’t be constricted on mana. I felt I needed more removal, but red was too weak on creatures to splash, so I went with green. After this, my deck looked like this:

The deck did play better, but I didn’t manage to win more. I lost the third round and won the last round, but again mostly because of the lack of experience on my opponents side, not my deck.

I still don’t know how to build this deck. Maybe my pool just was that bad and I did the best I could. Probably not. I would just like to know whether I hit 70% or maybe 80%. Hard to say. I did learn some things:

    Landfall is strong. Maybe I should have played the Retreat to Coralhelm, just because of the Landfall. I didn’t play during the original Zendikar, so I didn’t quite get how powerful it actually is, especially with Snapping Gnarlid and its ilk. Once it hit for six at an opportune moment, when my opponent thought he was winning the race and attacked with everything. Didn’t count on me having Blighted Woodland in my hand to pump it.

    Ingesting is important, but was also hard to achieve. I lacked in ingesting creatures, so I couldn’t really get it going. I had to cast Blight Herder naked twice. It was still good, but not nearly as good as it could have been.

    On that note, Spell Shrivel is hard play. On one hand, you want to exile stuff to process, on the other, you want to keep it in hand in case of any bombs.

    Bounce is often good, but very situational. I didn’t want to bounce any allies, which limited my targets quite a bit.

    The games were loooong, but hopefully that’s just the sealed format.

    Five seems to be the magic number in toughness.

    There isn’t much good removal, except in my opponents hand and I always seem to be in a position in which I can’t play around it.

On the whole prerelease experience:

They had toned it down quite a bit. Which is good in some ways. The strange games during Theros block and the “firebreathing” game of Dragons of Tarkir didn’t bring enough to the experience to warrant the extra work.

However, I’m not sure about the new sealed pools. I always enjoyed the fact I could choose a color, a guild or a clan beforehand. It just gave something different to experience from the usual sealed events, but it was also problematic. One color was often identified as stronger than the others and it meant the players would all want that particular color. That also meant you could metagame and choose a pack you felt would work well against that particular color (for example, everyone was scampering for white because of Dawnbringer Charioteer at the Journey into Nyx Prerelease, so I recommended blue for those who asked, because bounce just wrecked the white heroic deck).

I personally just chose black or whatever was closest to it (like Sultai or Silumgar). There’s always less experienced players at the prerelease, so the seeded pack, extra or not, was a nice addition. It gave some direction to those players and the more experienced players could always just completely disregard it. This does put some extra pressure on the set being balanced, but I don’t think its that much of a problem, except that players except to get the best pack. I’ve generally done well when going against the commonly upheld wisdom…

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