Shadows Over Innistrad Prerelease Report

Last night I went to a Shadows Over Innistrad Prerelease. This was my first paper event, or at least my first DCI sanctioned event, so there’s a lot to talk about. Let’s not waste any time and jump right in.

There are multiple reasons as to why this was my first event, but there’s only one worth talking about. As a disabled person there’s always a certain anxiety in doing something new due to concerns about accessibility. These concerns were addressed through doing some prep work(the type that everyone benefits from doing) as well as a good store environment. Said store is Labyrinth Games & Puzzles, which is just an all around excellent store that I highly recommend.

There’s a varying amount of prep work that one can do for a prerelease, ranging from not knowing anything about the set to suing things like Cockatrice to do limited testing. I went for something in between, following the spoiler, looking at the full spoiler, watching the LRR preprerelease, listening to the LR set review and reading LSV’s set reviews; which is to say a lot of time went into figuring out how the set works and familiarizing myself with the set. By the time I showed up and got my packs, I felt comfortable in making the best of my sealed pool.

My pool didn’t exactly offer many options. White had a Hanweir Militia, some creatures and removals, Blue had a Jace and five bounce spells. Black had a good mix of removal and creatures but the first tier, of cards that I wanted to play was only eight cards. Red and Green had a plethora of playables, three good rares(Devil’s Playground, Flameblade Angel, Silverfur Partisan). G/R on a first pass got me to 20 cards, added in some more marginal cards to get to 23 and went to battle with:

Creatures

1x Insolent Neonate

1x Falkenwrath Gorger

1x Kessig Forgemaster

2x Hinterland Logger

1x Sanguinary Mage

1x Graf Mole

1x Silverfur Partisan

1x Bloodmad Vampire

1x Howlpack Wolf

1x Voldaren Duelist

1x Pack Guardian

2x Intrepid Provisioner

2x Cult of the Waxing Moon

1x Flameblade Angel

1x Kessig Dire Swine

Instant

1x Rush of Adrenaline

1x Aim High

Sorcery

1x Rabid Bite

1x Reduce to Ashes

1x Devil’s Playground

Land

9x Mountan

8x Forest

 

My sideboard was largely irrelevant save for a copy of Root Out. It’s a fairly aggressive deck that doesn’t just fold in the late game. I ended up going 3-2 with this deck, with one my losses being on account of multiple punts on my part. Instead of recapping the rounds it seems more useful to just note my random observations.

  • A lot of creatures have 3 power. 4 or more toughness is a good way to have your creature live through most combats.
  • While there are a lot of X/1s in the format. I never saw enough to make me wish I had Dual Shot in my main deck (Except as a way to deal with fliers which I was sorely lacking in.)
  • Insolent Neonate taken in its individual parts is bad, but adding them all up gives you a card that isn’t terrible in aggro decks and I imagine that he goes up in a dedicated vampire deck.
  • Silverfur Partisan is really good, the ability is just instants and sorceries, not instants and sorceries you control
  • Delirium is in fact payoff for self mill and there are enough cards in the set of harder types to get in the graveyard that even a non-dedicated delirium deck will get there if the game goes on long enough.

 

Beyond that I don’t really have much to say. I played against players who had good cards in their deck and they all seemed obviously good. A lot of games didn’t feel set specific, they were just good games of Magic that played well. I look forward to playing more of this Limited format to see if how unique it is and how it holds up. Till next time.

 

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MTG Legendary Rule Changes and Flavor

Before I get into this week’s post some administrative stuff. I am switching over to a biweekly schedule in order to give myself more time to come up with better posts instead of the rush that I sometimes felt in order to just get something done. Secondly in between a death in the family and the general chaos of moving out of an apartment I’ve been too busy/ distracted to come up with anything to write about.

When M14 comes out there will be some rule changes along with it; some of them will be minor while others are very important. The biggest one of them is that the way legendary permanents will work is that each player will now be able to control legendary permanent with the same name and that when there is more than one you choose which one stays in play. The ramifications of this are quite large in terms of gameplay, especially in Eternal formats. There has also been a great deal of discussion about the flavor implications of the rule change. I don’t have much of an opinion on the gameplay changes since it doesn’t really affect what I play* but the flavor objections I find strange. Magic is a very flavorful game, except for the actual game.

Before I continue I just want to make it clear I really like the flavor of Magic. When it comes to player pyschographs I’m a Spike/Johnny/Vorthos. The flavor of Innistrad was one of the hooks that got me into the game. But at a certain point in actual gameplay you have to recognize the fact that mechanics are mechanics and there’s no amount of handwaving you can do to change that fact.

What do I mean by this? That the basic premise of a game, that each player is a planeswalker who is able to use their magic to fight their opponent breaks down when you look at it too closely. Decks often have creatures that flavorwise are mortal enemies working together. For example Avaycn’s Pilgrim and Huntmaster of the Fells being in the same deck might be a good gameplan, but flavorwise the two should be trying to kill each other. In this case the bigger the cardpool the less of an issue this is as the planeswalker aka player is able to use the full power of the multiverse. There are also some abilities that only make so much sense but there’s an abstraction road block. The one that immediately comes to mind for me is lifelink, how am I as a player getting more life from this creature. Extort is similarly weird in this regard.  Under the current rules Clone effects also worked very strangely in that creating a clone somehow caused all of them to blink out of existence/quit/however you want to look at it. With the new rules, clones actually work like clones are supposed to. If more than one player has a legendary creature then you can rationalize it as a clone. By and large when it comes to the new rules the game is actually more flavorful with one glaring exception.

Legendary lands under the current rules are a bit weird in that if both players try to tap into the power of it then no one can for some reason. Now its a matter of everyone can use it. This can be seen as more flavorful in that land/area/location is the focal point of the duel. So while not the primary stated reason for this change, it can be seen as more flavorful this way.

The flavor kinda breaks down with legendary artifacts. These things are one of kind and have unique properties to them that make them what they are. Counterfeiting them  cheapens that idea but in theory will make gameplay itself more interesting.**

Now where the current legend rules makes the most sense and where changing them makes the least sense is with planeswalker. Planeswalkers are supposed to be your allies in battle and if two them appear then they both vanish cause they aren’t going to help both of you. There really isn’t anyway to rationalize this and sometimes you have to just know when to give up.

All in all, I find that the new rules make the game more flavorful but also acknowledge that actual games of Magic really aren’t that flavorful. If they were then the game would be vastly different then what it is today and probably worse for it.

*Of course there is much speculation that Theros will be heavy on legends in which case it will affect what I play for the next two years in some form.

**This I’m really never going to deal with since I don’t play on playing Legacy/Vintage anytime soon.

MTG Pauper Deck Idea: R/G Humans

Pauper is a primarily MTGO based format where you can only use commons, specifically cards printed as common on MTGO. Which means no Hymn to Tourach for example. It’s also the only Constructed format I play since it allows me to use most of the cards I draft and most things are rather cheap and it’s possible to trade with bots for some good cards with draft junk.

Avacyn Restored gave us some good red humans, specifically Riot Ringleader but to a lesser extent Kruin Striker and Thatcher’s Revolt. The block as a whole also gave us some good green cards like Young Wolf and Hunger of the Howlpack. My idea was to use the cards I already had to see if I could build a R/G deck that took advantage of Riot Ringleader being one of the few lords in Pauper and beat my way to victory. The result so far? It works to a certain extent but it’s clear that there’s more work that needs to be done. This was mostly built with the cards I already had and some trades I could manage with bots.

The Deck:

Land

9x Mountain

10x Forest

3x Terramorphic Expanse

I keep tweaking this but I still tend to either get flooded or screwed on mana. This being the first deck I’m building from scratch instead of compiling together from primers I’m not really sure how to make a good mana base.

1 drops

2x Geistflame

2x Hunger of the Howlpack

1x Ranger’s Guile

2x Abundant Growth

4x Skarrgan Pit Skull

2x Somberwald Vigilante

4x Young Wolf

The Geistflames are for triggering bloodthrist, spot removal, and a bit of reach by going for the dome. The Hunger of the Howlpacks are meant to take advantage of the tokens being created from Thatcher’s Revolt get sacrificed and trigger morbid. The Ranger’s Guile is a counter against creature removal, I should probably increase it, but I’m not sure what to cut. The Abundant Growths help with color fixing and cantrip. Skarrgan Pit Skulls are solid value creatures. The Somberwald Vigilantes are literally the only cmc 1 human printed in green or red and I had two of them. The young wolves are also solid and help with my curve.

2 drops

1x Gruul Signet

4x Kruin Striker

2x Timberland Guide

The signet is fixing, anymore than 1 is awkward I’ve already found. Kruin Striker gets big from its ability and counters and ideally pushes through for the win. Timberland Guide in theory is meant to pump my other creatures but isn’t working so well in practice, I’m not sure what to replace him for.

3 drops 

4x Thatcher’s Revolt

3x Brimstone Volley

2x Borderland Ranger

1x Fervent Cathar

4x Riot Ringleader

Thatcher’s Revolt and Riot Ringleader were part of what inspired me to make the deck and are kinda of the core idea. Brimstone volley is because I don’t have Chain Lightning  or Lightning Bolt. Sometimes I’m able to cast it with Morbid active and it’s worth it; but it’s not the most efficient spell I could be using; just the most efficient I have. Borderland Ranger is to help with mana. Fervent Cathar stopping a creature from blocking is a good way to push through enough damage to win.

What works: In general I’m relying upon quality creatures and some synergies to maintain pressure and beat down on the opponent.

What doesn’t work: The manabase, I’m not convinced that I have the numbers right and the Gruul bounceland would almost definitely help. There are better cards that I could be using as mentioned above, and I need to do something about my curve, too often I find myself with a bunch of three drops and unable to meaningfully impact the board.

What I need: Better burn, bouncelands,  improve my mana curve, sideboard(I don’t need this right now since I can just play single games instead of matches)

Overall I think there’s a decent deck here that can be built if I get the right pieces, and while I know what some of the pieces are, there are some others that I don’t since Pauper is an eternal format and I started playing last October.

Thoughts? Recommendations?

M13 Full Set released impressions

So Monday saw the full set of m13 getting revealed and while I was originally going to do a full set review, card by card, the formatting got eaten by wordpress. So I’ll just do something more general. I’m also probably not going to draft m13 unless I hear good things about since I need to save my money; and why draft something that isn’t DII or as good as DII when I still have the ability?

First, the art for this set is all around good and nice to look at. The flavor pulls from a bunch of different places as well.

In terms of actually drafting, Green on first look seems to be the best color due to creature quality, Rancor, and Prey Upon. Mainly since the first point allows the second and third point to be utilized. The worst color seems to be blue, since the creatures are bad and the noncreature spells are either hit or miss. Avoid blue as your main color if you can. I’m not all that fond of red, but that could just be a matter of personal preference. White seems solid and has some good removal. Black seems to really want to be monoblack but I imagine it’s playable in a way that Black in AVR isn’t.

I don’t know what to make of Exatled, mainly since I wasn’t around during Alara

Core Sets aren’t known for being synergistic, so archetypes are more along the lines of drafting the strongest things you can. The only unusual thing might be a mill deck that works off of taking stuff no one else wants. Otherwise, hope you’re in green, try to stay away from blue. And Nicol Bolas probably isn’t playable. In terms of speed I think it’s going to be slower than AVR but still on the fast side.

 

Let’s see how my predictions pan out this weekend from reports from the prelease. I’m probably going to be mostly wrong, but this is a good start in starting to think about sets a bit more critically. Return to Ravnica I’ll figure out how to do a full set review without wordpress eating the formatting.