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Tales From The Magic 2011 Prerelease: Part 2

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.

Top Cards

Crystal Ball
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.

Greater Basilisk
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.

Cultivate
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.

Cheers,

Zak

Tales from the Magic 2011 Prerelease!

Hello everyone, and welcome to another edition of “Tales from the Prerelease”. Today is the first of 2 reports form the Wizard’s Comics prereleases, so stay tuned tomorrow for another one. I hope everyone enjoyed their first taste of Magic 2011 (I know I did). This core set is one of best core set’s ever, and I truly enjoyed playing limited with it. Without further ado, let’s see what awaited me in my sealed pool.

Zak’s Sealed Pool

And here’s the deck I built:

Zak’s Sealed Deck

This deck has an aggressive edge to it, chiefly because of the 3 Garruks Companions. Note that I’m normally not a huge fan of the card, but the potential to have a reliably aggressive base green deck was tempting, so I tried it out. This deck has some mid-game flier that keep up the pressure, and has a solid late game with Mind Control, Sword of Vengeance and some fatties to see it through to the end. The white splash gives us 2 solid removal options, as well as another quality flyer to get in for damage when we need to.

Round 1: vs Wilson

I started the first game on the draw, and quickly cast a Garruks Companion. Unfortunately, he hits a turn 3 Lilianas Specter making me discard a card. Unfortunately, I don’t draw land on either turns 3 or 4, and he bolsters his army with the likes of Juggernaut and Vulshok Berserker. When I do hit my land drop, I drop Augury Owl and Sacred Wolf, but they simply can’t stand up to Wilson’s bomb: Inferno Titan.

Game 2 is more even with me getting out a turn 3 Garruks Companion, met again by Lilianas Specter. I get a devastating turn 4 Juggernaut which outclasses Wilson’s play of Arc Runner. A Foresee on my turn lets me dig to ensure my continued stream of spells, and I cast Pacifism on his Specter to ensure that my Juggernaut gets through. When Wilson doesn’t have an answer to my extra 3 points of damage in the form of a Giant Growth, he packs it in and we go to game 3.

Although i’m on the draw, I accelerate quickly with a first-turn Llanowar Elves. Wilson’s drop is just as good, and he casts a Ember Hauler. I play a forest on turn 2, and leave Giant Growth up rather than casting the Gargoyle Sentinel in my hand, because I want to ensure that I get out a turn 3 Giant Spider. He plays a Goblin Piker and, in a moment of confusion, attacks his hauler into my spider. It turns out that he had forgotten that damage doesn’t stack anymore, and admitted his play mistake may have cost him the game. We escalate the size of our armies with me casting a Garruks Companion and a Duskdale Wurm, and him bringing out a Howling Banshee and a Juggernaut. When I finally draw Sword of Vengeance and slap it on a Garruks Packleader, Wilson extends the hand.

1 – 0

Round 2: vs Jordan

I start the second round on the play with my aggressive start of a turn 2 Garruks Companion. He drops a Bloodthrone Vampire on his turn, and follows up with Blinding Mage. He Unsummons my 3/2 beater when I swing with it, but I Negate it, intending to capitalize on his lack of a fourth land. He eventually casts a Stabbing Pain on my companion, which I quickly replace with a Giant Spider. He casts a Cloud Elemental in an effort to break through, but another Garruks Companion shows up to make his potential attacks unprofitable. When he does draw his 4th land, he taps his mage to tap my 3/2, and then Assassinates it. He casts a Gargoyle Sentinel and an Assault Griffin. I start to gain advantage by bringing out my Sword of Vengeance, and equipping it on my third companion. A Juggernaut takes out his Gargoyle, and I cast a Spined Wurm. We eventually make it to a board position where if I draw a creature, I win by giving it haste with the sword, and I pull out the Assault Griffin to win a very evenly matched game.

In game 2 he gets a slow start while I come racing out of the gates with a Blinding Mage, Llanowar Elves, and Gargoyle Sentinel. His first play is a turn 5 Serra Angel, but when I draw my Sword of Vengeance, he has to make some suboptimal blocks to stay alive. When I cast Foresee into a Pacifism for his Azure Drake, he scoops up his cards.

2 – 0

Round 3: vs Adam

Having scouted Adam (and the rest of the 2-0 bracket) earlier, I knew he was packing a red-white-black deck with Day of Judgment, Fireball, and double Corrupt, so I came in expecting almost all my cards to hit some sort of removal. I get a solid draw of Garruks Companion and Sacred Wolf on turns 2 and 3 respectively. He casts Quag Sickness on my 3/2, and brings out a Howling Banshee which trades for my Juggernaut. After a timely Mind Rot to empty my hand, he brings out an Inferno Titan to do me in.

Because so much of Adam’s removal was damage-based, I sideboarded in my Leyline of Vitality, thinking it might help me out. I get a turn 2 Garruks Companion followed again by Sacred Wolf, which trades with his Blinding Mage. However, when I cast Azure Drake, he wrecks my board with his Day of Judgment. My last 2 cards get Mind Rotted away, and he keeps up the pressure with a Nantuko Shade. When I topdeck the useless green Leyline, I extend my hand.

Let this be a lesson to everyone. Do not play Leyline of Vitality. Seriously. It only works when you have creatures out, and in order to get decent value it needs to be in your opening hand, or you have to have a sizeable army. In retrospect, I would have been better off with another creature.

2 – 1

Round 4: vs Lorenzo

Lorenzo is one of the best local players, who usually only comes to big events. Having beat him in the Extended PTQ this year, I’m sure he was out for revenge. I start off strong with a Llanowar Elves and an Augury Owl. The vast improvement of this Owl over Sage Owl becomes apparent when I ship no less than 3 forests to the bottom of my deck. We trade guys for a while until I land a Juggernaut. Lorenzo offered the trade by blocking it with Barony Vampire, but I had the Giant Growth to ensure my war-machine could keep on wrecking the place. When I had the Pacifism for his last chump-blocker, my Juggernaut was able to steamroll its way to victory.

In game 2 we both start slowly, with a turn 3 Crystal Ball for Lorenzo, and a Sacred Wolf for me. He casts Nether Horror to follow up, but I land a Sword of Vengeance and equip it to my troll-shrouded wolf. Lorenzo scrys with his Crystal Ball at both the end of my turn and on his upkeep, putting all 4 cards on the bottom of his library in the hopes of finding an answer. He tries to cast Chandras Outrage on my Yavimaya Wurm, but it gets countered by my Flashfreeze that was brought in from the sideboard. Eventually, my Wurm arms himself with Akroma’s sword, and he destroys the last few points of Lorenzo’s life.

Final Record: 3 – 1

My record is enough to get me 12 packs of M11, which I take in store credit, and I play several games of Legacy afterwards against Lorenzo’s brother, Marcel, to cap off a great prerelease.

I’ve decided to start a new segment to increase the amount of analysis in my tournament reports. I’m going to cap off each report with a list of “Top Cards” of the day, including how to best play them. Note that I will not include any obviously bomb rares in this segment, because we all know that Sword of Vengeance is the nuts.

Top Cards

Foresee

When this card was originally printed in Future Sight, it was one of the most effective card drawing spells at the time. Sure, Tidings may have gotten you three cards for only 1 mana extra, but being able to sculpt your next few turns while accruing card advantage is what made Foresee see a fair bit of constructed play it its heyday. The 4 mana sorcery is not only back, but it’s better than ever in Magic 2011 limited. If you can set up a reasonable defense that can hold your opponent back one turn, say something like a Giant Spider, then you can use Foresee to ensure that your deck doesn’t falter as it progresses into the late turns of the game. Having a defense of some sort is important, because if you don’t draw into something insane, and you haven’t augmented your board position, casting Foresee can be a losing proposition. Of course, if you have no other plays, or plays that you do have would be suboptimal, Foresee is still a fine 4-drop, but realize that you’re giving your opponent another turn to both swing in at you and strengthen their forces. However, Foresee played an all-star role in my sealed deck, digging for my bombs and putting lands on the bottom that would have been blanks.

Augury Owl

Maybe I’m biased because scry is my favourite mechanic, but Augury Owl is head and shoulders above its Sage counterpart from Magic 2010. This 2 drop flyer makes it possible to keep marginal hands that contain disproportionate amounts of land, with an overall effect similar to Serum Powder. A 1/1 flyer is also not something that should be overlooked, as this owl trades with Liliana Specter and Stromfront Pegasus extremely nicely. With all the advantage that scry gives you, taking out an opponents 2-drop is one of the most satisfying plays you can make with this little bird.

Sacred Wolf

Sacred Wolf is a card that shone brightest when I equipped it with a Sword of Vengeance, but all day it had a solid role in helping my deck “get there”. Comparing him to the underplayed Mist Leopard in M10 limited, Sacred Wolf not only provides a decent offense that is immune to the likes of Blinding Mage and Royal Assassin, but the fact that it has shroud means you can get some extremely high value out of it. This guy trades with cards like Juggernaut all day, meaning that he is a card that you should really never be unhappy to run. In the absence of a Sword of Vengeance, this guy will pick up a Warlords Axe and beat in until your opponent finds a guy to block it. Paired with a suite of solid removal spells, Sacred Wolf is a card that helped me greatly when my opponent’s needed to cast their removal spells to try and reclaim a match.

That’s it for today, I’ll have another one of these articles up tomorrow. As always, feel free to contact me via email at zak -AT- power9pro.com or via the comments section below. If you think you’d have built the deck differently, tell me what you’d have played. This pool had some tough decisions to make, so I may have made some wrong calls, but that’s part of Magic. I’m sure that as the set becomes played with more, we’ll know exactly what cards are limited all-stars and which ones are duds relegated to the realm of proxy fodder.

Until next time, Cheers!

Zak

PTQ San Diego Tournament Report (Zendikar Sealed)

Saturday was my first PTQ in a year (school, work, and a girlfriend will do that), and 5 of my friends and I left early in the morning to make the 3.5 hour drive down to Calgary. The event was hosted in the banquet room of a local arena, and we had 129 players, a record for Alberta. The format was Zendikar Sealed deck, and everything went relatively smoothly. We were in the banquet room of a local arena, which while not an amazing venue, still worked well. After swapping our sealed pools, I got to look at the following pool.

This pool looked quite playable, and so I looked through a number of potential builds. The white had some solid removal in Journey To Nowhere, Arrow Volley Trap and Pitfall Trap. However, the only mana fixing that would help me was the Greypelt Refuge, which only made white attractive if I was playing green.

The blue was solid. However, I wanted something more for a main colour, and while there were some excellent playables in blue, there simply weren’t enough of them. Unfortunately the best blue card in the pool (Seastalkers) only shines when you can get multiple activations out of him. Not to say he’s not one of the best blue cards in the set (He is), but it didn’t make me want to play blue as a main colour.

When we get to black, we finally see something of substance. We have our first big bomb (Kalitas) and some removal and solid creatures. I’m a huge fan of Nimana Sell-Sword, and the pair of them makes them even more appealing. Top it all off with Surrakar Marauder and some Giant Scorpions and we’ve got our main colour.

Red also looks very promising, with one of the best bombs in the set (Hellkite Charger), and some nice removal and creatures. We also have a couple more Allies to pump our Sell-Swords if we play black, which is always useful. Again, the red had good potential for a main colour.

I was sorely tempted to play green, and it was extremely difficult to leave the green cards in the sideboard when I filled out my decklist. It had good creatures and a nice little bomb, but I wasn’t able to settle on a list I was happy with that included green.

The artifacts were quite nice to me, providing a Blazing Torch and a pair of Adventuring Gears. I didn’t play Stonework Puma, but I just don’t like a Grey Ogre variant that only has a relevant effect if another Ally is out. However, I wouldn’t fault anyone for playing it, as Allies can be quite good.

Here’s the list I ended up running.

This build aims to be aggressive enough to get the jump on the slower decks, yet have enough late game to win outright in a standstill. There are 5 Allies that were all terrific during the day, with Nimana Sell-Sword topping the list. There are 18 land to ensure that I both hit my bombs and got the most effect out of double Adventuring Gear. Other than that, the game plan of the deck is pretty simple” play guys, play bigger guys, play bombs, win. I submitted the decklist with 30 seconds to go, and was on my way to round 1.

Round 1 vs Jesse (UR Allies)
In the first game I mulligan and Jesse gets a Umara Reaptor and a Windrider Eel and a couple of allies, including Highland Berserker and Tuktuk Grunts. Unfortunately, I can’t deal with his fliers and we’re off to game 2.

I get a double Giant Scorpion and start bashing face with one that’s suited up with Adventuring Gear. Unfortunately Jesse resolves a Gomazoa and is able to Magma Rift one of my insects. He then resolves the Umara Raptor and a Stonework Puma which flies over me and knocks me eventually to 0, although he was at 2 when the final blow was struck.

0-1

Round 2 vs Connor (RB Aggro)
Connor and a few of his friends had traveled all the way from Victoria for the PTQ, so it made my 3.5 hour drive look ridiculous (although thery flew). He started off with an Akoum Refuge, and made a turn 2 Bloodghast. Luckily my Giant Scorpion blocked it all day long and prevented the little vampire from ever hitting my life total. Although his forces of Geyser Glider, Gatekeeper of Malakir and Torch Slinger was able to put me at 5, but Hellkite Charger changes the game state to an unbelievable degree. A single swing from the dragon is enough to win game 1.

In the second game, Connro gets stuck on 3 lands, and is using Goblin Guide and an unkicked Torch Slinger to try and beat me down. However, I have a Highland Berserker and Adventuring Gear which get in for some great beats, and my draws eventually outclass him so much that I can finish him off with a Needlebite Trap.

1-1

Round 3 vs Nick (GW)
I watched Nick play in the feature match of last round against teammate Sean, so I know he’s packing multiple Steppe Lynx and Cobra Trap, as well as mutiple landfall boosters. Nick gets a turn 1 Trusty Machete, and a turn 2 River Boa, which makes for a discouraging board position. Or, it would have if I didn’t have a turn 3 Gatekeeper of Malakir. Nick gets stuckon 3 land, and I just overrun him.

In games 2 and 3, River Boa and Trusty Machete both make repeat appearances, to which I have no answer. This gets even more awkward when a Quest for the Gemblades gives him a 6/5 regenerator. I can’t deal with it, and my hopes of top 8 are dashed. However, if I win from here on out I can still make prizes. I think my deck is good enough, so I do not drop.

1-2

Round 4 vs Ryan (RB control-ish)
In game 1 I go the full allies route, with double Sell-sword and berserker paving the way. His creature’s die to my removal, and a timely Goblin Shortcutter clears the way for my allies to take him to 0. My life sheet for Ryan goes 20, 16, 7, 0. Just shows how great multiple allies are.

In game 2 Ryan goes all out, and starts with Plated Geopede and backs it up with Quest for the Gravelord and Shatterskull Giant. I have no answers, and don’t deal a single point of damage.

Game 3 has Ryan lamenting the inclusion of Grappling Hook and Chandra Ablaze in his deck, due to their prohibitevely high costs (a 4 mana equip and discarding a red card respectively). I have a Sell-Sword and a pair of Giant Scorpions, which work great. I eventually cast Grim Discovery to get back Tuktuk Grunts and swing for the win.

2-2

Round 5 vs Christophe (RB)
It seems like everyone and their best friend is playing Red-Black today, and Christophe starts the game off with a Vampire Hexmage. He misses about 5 Quest for the Gravelord triggers, and my allied eventually overrun him.

In game 2, he resolves a Vampire Nighthawk, but I have the timely Inferno Trap. I when it looks like he might win (I’m at 10), I draw Hellite Charger and just win in an obsene fashion, bringing him from 19 to 0 in a few swings. Seriously, that card is so awesome.

3-2

Round 6 vs Blair (UB control)
Blair has a very nice deck, packing both Sphinx of Lost Truths and Sphinx of Jwar Isle. However, neither see play, as he struggles to play threast and remove my guys while I just keep augmenting my forces. He doesn’t have enough Hideous Ends (he had 2), and my allies just take him to the cleaners. In game 2 I resolve my Kalitas, which slaughters any chance my opponent had of defending himself.

4-2

Round 7 vs James (BWR Control)
James lets it slip that he has an Ob Nixilis. the Fallen, He casts double Kor Hookmaster and taps down my blockers, and I go all the way down to 0 without having dropped him below 20.

Game 2 is slightly better off for me, with my Bog Tatters taking put the largest chunks of his life total[/card], and we head off to game three with half an hour left in the round.

It gets to the point where I’m at 1, and he’s at 10. I have a Bog Tatters equipped with an Adventuring gear. I’m sitting on 4 Swamps and a Mountain, and see my great Hellikite Charger staring at me from my hand. I’m thrilled when I pass my turn, hoping to rip the mountain that will win me the game. However, James says he has effects on my upkeep, and casts Disfigure on my swampwalker. Of course. The card on the top of my library? Of course it was the mountain that would’ve won me the game.

4-3

While the best card of the day was undoubtedly Hellkite Charger, and unexpected gem was the double Nimana Sell-Sword They arte just so good with other allies that it’s unbelievable. They also don’t die to Hideous End!

I think that the key to Zendikar Sealed is to be agressive, and play your bombs. I can’t stress that enough, because they won me at least half my games. I also think that black is the most played colour in the format, so main-decking Bog Tatters isn’t a bad idea.

My only colour preference coming into this event was that I really didn’t want to play blue, and that sentiment hasn’t changed (Although give me the cards Blair had in Round 6 and we’ll talk). Obviously if you have enough cards to support it, go for it, but I’ve found that the most consistent push is given by green, red and black, and I’m always happy to be in one or two of those colours.

While the final results have yet to be displayed on the DCI webpage, I believe my final place to be around 29th out of more than 120 competitors. Considering that my last PTQ a year ago had me going 1-3 drop, I’ll happily take this result. The next PTQ is in 3 weeks in my home town of Edmonton, and feel free to stop by and say hi. I’ll be wearing a bright orange Power 9 Pro shirt, so I’ll be easy to spot.

Props to Jason Ness and West Can Events for hosting the PTQ, they do an admirable job at this sort of thing.

Any thoughts on this particular deck or the Zendikar sealed format in general can always go in the comments section, or through my email (zak-AT-power9pro.com) or via my twitter feed at www.twitter.com/zturchan.

Cheers,

Zak