My Experiences on the Battle for Zendikar Prerelease

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.

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This Week in Magic

I usually do not post about Magic the Gathering. Mainly because Aki posts about it. A Lot. And I rarely have anything interesting or worthwhile to say. This week however was a bit different. I had a small vacation (since my son was with his grandparents and my wife was working). So what could I do? Turns out – nothing much but play through various different types of MtG. So this will be my random rambling about different formats.

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The Winter War – Mirran vs. Phyrexia, Invasion, part 2

(That’s one funny post name there.)

I seriously wanted my first post after long hiatus to be about rpgs but I think it really doesn’t matter that much. Both of my arms are still aching but at least I moved the keyboard to a more ergonomic location right?

mirran_vs_phyrexiaSo Aki wrote about our gaming groups start-of-summer event cleverly named “Winter War” (trust me, it’s is clever when you know how Finnish summers are). As he was kind enough to write down the lists for our side too I really cannot refuse writing something about the event.

At least it gives me an opportunity to blame him if my condition takes a turn on the worse…

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The Winter War – Mirran vs. Phyrexia, Invasion

A few weeks back we had our annual meeting of the Guild. That meant about twenty people gathering together for a weekend of gaming, imbiding, bonding, and randomly annoying the neighbours by being way too loud. I like to use this opportunity to do something different, so I copied an idea by PoroMagia, but went a step further and made this a team sealed event, with each side getting six Scars of Mirrodin packs and six Mirrodin Besieged prerelease faction packs of the proper faction.

I’ll be talking about this from our (mostly my) perspective as a member of the Phyrexian Invasion, whereas Lauri will hopefully get around to talk about this from the Mirran Resistance perspective, if he ever recovers from his carpal tunnel syndrome (send all masturbation jokes straight to him, I bet he hasn’t heard enough of them yet).

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The Guild Sealed Tournament, Theros Edition

Couple of days ago, we had our guild Theros sealed tournament. We got eight players, which was pretty good, although the number of players also meant it took quite a while since we play round-robin. I was home after 2AM, but I did win with six match wins and one match loss.

[cardlist title=My card pool]
1 Cavalry Pegasus
1 Decorated Griffin
1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
3 Ephara’s Warden
1 Favored Hoplite
1 Observant Alseid
1 Scholar of Athreos
1 Setessan Griffin
2 Wingsteed Rider
1 Bident of Thassa
1 Crackling Triton
1 Fate Foretold
2 Mnemonic Wall
1 Nimbus Naiad
1 Thassa’s Bounty
1 Triton Shorethief
2 Triton Tactics
1 Voyage’s End
1 Wavecrasher Triton
3 Asphodel Wanderer
1 Boon of Erebos
1 Cavern Lampad
1 Dark Betrayal
1 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
1 Insatiable Harpy
1 Lash of the Whip
1 Loathsome Catoblepas
1 March of the Returned
1 Mogis’s Marauder
1 Pharika’s Cure
1 Read the Bones
1 Returned Phalanx
2 Sip of Hemlock
1 Tormented Hero
1 Borderland Minotaur
1 Deathbellow Raider
2 Demolish
1 Ill-Tempered Cyclops
2 Lightning Strike
2 Messenger Speed
1 Ordeal of Purphoros
2 Portent of Betrayal
1 Purphoros Emissary
1 Rage of Purphoros
1 Rageblood Shaman
1 Spark Jolt
1 Titan’s Strength
1 Wild Celebrants
1 Artisan’s Sorrow
1 Centaur Battlemaster
1 Defend the Hearth
1 Karametra’s Acolyte
3 Nylea’s Presence
1 Savage Surge
2 Sedge Scorpion
1 Shredding Winds
1 Time to Feed
1 Daxos of Meletis
2 Kragma Warcaller
1 Sentry of the Underworld
1 Shipwreck Singer
1 Burnished Hart
1 Fleetfeather Sandals
2 Guardians of Meletis
1 Prowler’s Helm
1 Temple of Deceit
1 Temple of Abandon

I try to keep the blog free of profanity, but yes, I got a fucking [scryfall]Elspeh, Sun’s Champion[/scryfall] in my pool (being white, I’m not sure she would approve either). That actually may have influenced my deck building process a bit too much, to be honest, but I couldn’t just leave her out, now could I?

The thing with Elspeth is that she can win the game on her own, but she has a CMC of six, which means it takes time to cast her. Therefore, I needed to make a controllish deck, which could keep the opponent in bay until I can get Elspeth online. Of course, the probability of drawing Elspeth in a given game is not enough to rely on her alone, so I needed other routes into victory.

If I hadn’t needed other wincons, I would have probably gone with black, since black had the best defensive cards. Actually, even the [scryfall]Asphodel Wanderer[/scryfall]s could have been wincons on their own, if everything else failed, but that’s just not the style I like to play. I like being more proactive. Not necessarily much, but somewhat.

Therefore, I decided to go with blue. Ok, Daxos had a lot to do with it. According to the lore, Daxos is Elspeth’s friend, so they must go well together. Also, I had ways of making him hard or impossible to block.

White and blue had only 25 cards. I didn’t have much room to take out anything. After taking out the creatures which had activated abilities requiring mana of color I didn’t have ([scryfall]Setessan Griffin[/scryfall], [scryfall]Scholar of Athreos[/scryfall], [scryfall]Crackling Triton[/scryfall]), I was down to 22, which was a good number, but since I wanted to play a couple of the artifacts, I needed to take out a couple of cards. I decided on [scryfall]Triton Shorethief[/scryfall], which is kind of useless, and a [scryfall]Ephara’s Warden[/scryfall], which is actually great, but little on the expensive side and I already had two of in the deck.

I did weigh [scryfall]Guardians of Meletis[/scryfall] against [scryfall]Mnemonic Wall[/scryfall] quite a bit, but decided on the blue option, even though I didn’t have very many instant or sorceries (only four all in all). I probably should have gone for the mix, because I did end up chumping with them in many cases where the Guardians would have been able to take the hit. Also, a couple of times I just couldn’t get value from them, because I hadn’t drawn an instant or sorcery, or I didn’t want to play one just yet (although, I did bluff with this once).

Other artifacts I ended up playing were [scryfall]Burnished Hart[/scryfall] and [scryfall]Fleetfeather Sandals[/scryfall]. I chose the latter over [scryfall]Prowler’s Helm[/scryfall] because I wanted to be able to block fliers more frequently, although it was soon clear I had more fliers than anyone else, which also made the choice better because flying pretty much equalled unblockable.

The deck felt pretty light on creatures, but gladly there wasn’t much removal being played and the removal that was played was often negated by [scryfall]Triton Tactics[/scryfall].

I didn’t sideboard once. I just didn’t have anything to sideboard, unless I was ready to rework much of my deck, which might have actually been a good idea in some cases.

[cardlist title=The deck]
1 Burnished Hart
1 Cavalry Pegasus
1 Daxos of Meletis
1 Decorated Griffin
2 Ephara’s Warden
1 Favored Hoplite
2 Mnemonic Wall
1 Nimbus Naiad
1 Observant Alseid
1 Wavecrash Triton
2 Wingsteed Rider
1 Bident of Thassa
1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
1 Fate Foretold
1 Fleetfeather Sandals
1 Thassa’s Bounty
2 Triton Tactics
1 Voyage’s End
9 Island
9 Plains

Now, I don’t know how the others felt, but I liked this. It was a very different experience from the prerelease, where everyone had huge monsters to play with (from the seeded booster). Here, two players put their eggs in the monstrosity basket (one of which caused my only match loss). Granted, the monsters were fun (and might have appealed to the players in this sealed tournament as well), but I enjoyed the feeling of these heroes going out and finding a way to win through cunning and support from gods. My deck was probably the one which most resembled this, as often I would pull out a win by using [scryfall]Triton Tactics[/scryfall] properly.

I liked it. Hopefully so did everyone else. Every card in my deck had a moment where it just rocked. I would have preferred other cards in my deck, but I can’t complain (who could with Elspeth).

Elspeth was very, very good, but often just a win-more card, meaning I already had things under control when I drew her. She did outright win the game on three occasions. On two of those she needed outside help from flying blockers, but on one occasion she just came in and kicked ass.