Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of “Tales from the Prerelease”. I had the pleasure of attending 2 separate prereleases this past weekend because I just couldn’t get enough of the new core set: Magic 2011. Tomorrow is the set’s official release, and I hope you’ve got your boxes preordered to make sure you’re getting one of the nice new Birds of Paradise promos, I know I have.
Let’s look at what I opened in my other Magic 2011 Prerelease, shall we?
Zak’s Sealed Pool
Here’s the deck that I created.
This deck is very midrange, with most of the punch coming in the form of Cudgel Troll and Greater Basilisk. The double Crystal Ball ensures a steady stream of relevant spells in the later turns of the game, and our suite of removal should hopefully provide enough room for our green creatures to bash in.
One card I was not sold on at all was the Necrotic Plague, because it seemed like it would run counter to our plan of using Cudgel Troll as a main beater, but after some convincing by a friend who also opened it, I agreed to give it a shot. I also considered the inclusion of double Mind Rot, as that card is usually considered good in limited. However, I wanted to make sure that I had enough creatures to keep up a steady stream of guys.
Regarding the splash colour, I chose Blinding Mage because of it’s ability to deal with bombs. This quality made it more attractive to me than the double Pyroclasm. However, I understood that my splash colour might change in sideboarding, so I ensured I had a supply of basic lands on hand. Blue also is a potentially attractive splash, boasting Mind Control, Diminish, Mana Leak, and even Flashfreeze. I would not fault anyone for choosing one of these other colours as the splash, but the Blinding Mage is more universal while being less intense on our mana.
Let’s see how the rounds turned out!
Round 1: vs Garret
Garret is a local player who has a strange affinity for goblins. Having sat next to him during the sealed, I jokingly asked him if he was playing the Goblin Chieftan that I saw he opened. He gave an ambiguous response, and we were off to the races. The game started off slow, with the first play being my turn 4 Prized Unicorn, which quickly met its end at the hands of Garrets Doom Blade. I followed up with a Cudgel Troll, leaving green mana open for regeneration. Garret cast a Stone Golem the next turn, but I still bashed in with my troll, knocking him to 16. I follow up with a Greater Basilisk, and Garret suicides his Golem into my snake, trying to bluff a trick. In the absence of one, he Gravediggers it back to his hand, and lands an Ancient Hellkite. However, his life total is at a precarious 7, and he opts to trade his hellkite for my basilisk when I attack. He casts another Gravedigger, and brings his dragon back, but with him at 1 life now, he has to leave his dragon back to block. Once he commits more of a force to the battlefield and dispatches my Liliana’s Specter with a Chandras Outrage, he is able to attack with the dragon and burn my Blinding mage to cinders. However, I topdeck an Assassinate, and the game is over in short order.
For game 2, I board out my white splash, as well as 2 Black Knights and the Nantuko Shade. Boarding out 3 cards that want double black extremely early lets me deepen my splash, as I bring in 3 Islands, Flashfreeze, Mind Control and Mana Leak.
Garret starts off with a Terramorphic Expanse for a mountain, and brings out Runeclaw Bear and Llanowar Elves. My first play is Cudgel Troll on turn 4, and we both cast Prized Unicorns on our successive turns. On turn 5, I’m staring at Mitotic Slime and Flashfreeze. I make the greedy play and assume he will not have a turn 6 Ancient Hellkite, but he does, and I quickly die because I didn’t leave my counter mana open.
In game 3 I cast a turn 3 Cultivate, and get two Islanda because I have Mind Control in my hand. I cast Greater Basilisk on turn 4, and draw some cards with Sign in Blood on the next turn. His attempt to Doom Blade my snake is stopped by a Mana Leak. I add further pressure with Mitotic Slime, and Mind Control his only creature: a Garruks Packleader. When he drops a Yavimaya Wurm, it simply isn’t enough.
1 – 0
Round 2: vs Shane
I start this round off with a mulligan to 5, and he puts out a Goblin Balloon Brigade enchanted with an Unholy Strength. Although Quag Sickness takes care of the ballooners, I’m quickly facing down a Juggernaut, with no removal to stop it. I manage to put out a steady stream of blockers but he eventually Fireballs my last blockers and steamrolls me to death with his war machine.
I board in Naturalize, Solemn Offering, and another plains to take care of both his auras (ideally as a combat trick) or his Juggernaut. The game starts off in an eerie fashion, with both of us having turn 2 Black Knights and turn 3 Lilianas Specter. He resolves a Royal Assasin which puts a hamber on any offense I could possibly mount. However, his Juggernaut does not get to go on the rampage that it did in game 1 due to my Naturalize, and I resolve Cudgel Troll, Giant Spider and Greater Basilisk to act as a solid defense until I can draw removal for his assassin. He eventually casts Act of Treason on my troll, and I respond by putting a regeneration shield on it (all that my mana would allow). He attacks with it, and then uses both the Assassin’s ability and an Assassinate to do away with the regenerating troll. Just in time, I draw my own Assassinate to kill his source of removal. When Shane starts casting spells like Barony Vampire and Unholy Strength in the late game, my more powerful cards like Mitotic Slime and Garruks Packleader begin to dominate and clinch the game for me.
After seeing the assassin, I actually board out my extra white and bring in the blue package, hoping to Mind Control or counter the assassin, while leaving Naturalize in to deal with his artifacts and auras. In game 3, he starts of slow with an Elixir of Immortality, and missing his 4th land drop. I however, have no such problems as I Cultivate into a Cudgel Troll with regeneration mana open. Shane does have his Royal Assassin, but I’m more than happy to Mind Control it. We each build up creatures until Shane decides to wipe the board with a Destructive Force. However, I am able to rebuild my mana much easier than shane does, and I bring out a Greater Basilisk in only a few turns, which does in Shane, who’s still struggling for land after his board wipe.
2 – 0
Round 3: vs Atilla
I start off with a Black Knight, and cast Necrotic Plague on his Cyclops Gladiator, trading in my knight. I cast my Greater Basilisk on turn 5, which looks quite impressive compared to his 5 drop: a Serras Ascendant. He does resolve an Earth Servant as a 4/9, but when my team grows to include another basilisk and a Lilianas Specter. When he starts to hit a bit of a mana glut, I capitalize and win out with my team.
In game 2, I board in my blue package again, including the Diminish. While my start is pretty lackluster with a Black Knight, Cultivate, and not much else. Atilla pumps up a hasty Vulshok Berserker[/card[ with Holy Strength and then brings out [card]Earth Servant. Unable to draw a Greater Basilisk, he is able to attack me down to 5 and finish me off with a Lava Axe.
Game 3 is all me as I play Black Knight followed by back-to-back Lilianas Specters. His lone Vulshok Berserker simply doesn’t do enough when I bring out a Garruks Packmaster as well, and he dies to my team when he cant mount a defense.
3 – 0
Round 4: vs Matt
I’ve heard rumours of Matt’s supposedly unstoppable deck, so I’m a little bit anxious going into the round. He plays a turn 3 Cultivate and casts Acidic Slime on turn 4 to screw me out of green mana. I’m able to play out Lilianas Specter, Black Knight, and Necrotic Plague, but soon my hand becomes clogged with uncastable green spells. Matt brings out a Fauna Shaman and tutors for a Sun Titan. To add insult to injury, he equips it with a Sword of Vengeance, and pretty much wrecks me.
I board in the blue package again, hoping to counter his bombs before they start to affect the game too much. He Cultivates again on turn 3, and brings out a turn 4 Garruks Packleader. I am able to resolve a Cudgel Troll and Mana Leak his Sun Titan. However, he has double Pacifism for two of my blockers and I die off in short order.
3 – 1
Round 5: vs Liam
Liam starts the game off with a Goblin Tunneler, and follows it up with a turn 3 Manic Vandal. I resolve my Prized Unicorn on turn 4, but he replies with a Sword of Vengeance. However, a draw of double Greater Basilisk is able to stave off his weaker creatures, even the ones who wield the sword. He ends up being stuck on 4 lands, which is hard with the sword’s equip cost of 3. When I bring a Cudgel Troll to the battlefield, he can’t defend himself and quickly keels over.
In game 2 I get a turn 3 Crystal Ball, which I follow up with Blinding Mage. He casts Reassembling Skeleton and Diabolic Tutor. He plays his tutored-for Sword of Vengeance and throws it on a Child of Night for a commanding presence. However, the mage makes the sword almost useless, and I manage to Assassinate his 4/6 Earth Servant. When I bring a fighting force of Nantuko Shade, Garruks Packleader to the battlefield, he can do little as all his threats are either locked down or destroyed.
Final Record: 4 -1
My X – 1 record nabs me half a box worth of store credit, and second place in the tournament. As before, here’s my segment on my top cards of the day.
Although not mentioned in detail during my match analysis, this card has proved itself to be amazing. If you can resolve one early, your card quality becomes simply amazing compared to your opponent. You almost never hit a dead draw and can dig very effectively for answers or lands of a particular colour. If you’re digging for a specific card, you can scry at the end of your opponent’s turn and during your own upkeep to dig 4 cards deep before drawing for a turn. The fact that such library manipulation is staple to a colourless card is also noteworthy, as it can give green and red decks that traditionally have little card manipulation the power and consistency that they need as the game progresses to the later stages. I can easily see this card getting picked within the first 3 picks in a draft, and it should be played in every sealed deck you open it in.
Maybe it’s the fact I had 3 of these guys, but they served me admirably throughout the course of the game. They provide both an excellent offense when against a walling opponent, and can defend against most of the formats ground-based creatures without risking their life. When building my deck I had doubts about how good they would prove to me, but rest assured, my fears have been assuaged. I’ll always be happy to have this guy an in any green deck, as he makes your opponent’s gameplay extremely difficult.
While many players originally thought this card was amazing, there are some who don’t realize how ridiculous this card is. Not only does it ramp your mana and ensure that you make a land drop on the text turn, but it helps you fix mana for both splashes or double colour commitments easily. This card is the absolute nuts, and is one of the most potent 3-drops that green has.
That’s it for now, stay tuned for next week when I go into detail about drafting Magic 2011, and a I launch a video series of my exploits on Magic Online. If you want to contact me, email me at zak -AT- power9pro.com or sound off in the comments below.