Monday, September 27, 2010

Scars of Mirrodin Prerelease Weekend

Well, that was a whirlwind of Magic and not sleeping. It was of course, Prerelease weekend, and the occasion marks the first time Magic players got to get their hands on some Scars of Mirrodin. I will have the EDH set review up later this week, but I want to throw out some quick impressions of the new set and share some of my experience of the weekend.

So, anyway, I kicked off the weekend Friday night at midnight. I played in a Sealed event at Dragon Crown, eventually taking 1st at the end of 4 rounds, somewhere around 4:30 am. My card pool was very weak in Black and Green, so those two colors were easy to eliminate. Red was obviously my strongest, as I had quite a bit of removal in the form of Shatter and Oxida Scrapmelter for Artifacts and 2 Turn to Slags, as well. So I had to choose between Blue and White to compliment my Red. My blue spells included a ridiculous amount of "Bounce" effects, a few efficient flyers, some blue-specific Artifacts and a Volition Reigns. Volition Reigns was the only real "bomb" in blue, but overall it was a solid color. The issue was that the main draw of my Blue pulls was all the bounce. With the right creature base, it could be very easy to get just a tiny bit ahead on creatures, then use bounce to tempo my opponent to death. A fine strategy, but I didn't feel I had quite the right creature base to make that strategy work. The best U/R deck I could make just didn't look quite fast/aggro enough.

My White stuff, on the other hand, appeared to be weaker on average than the Blue, and I had noticeably fewer White cards to boot. However, I had opened a Sunblast Angel, which was the absolute best game-winning spell I'd pulled, so I really wanted to make white work. Furthermore I had one Dispense Justice, and a Myrsmith. The rest of my White was pretty underwhelming, but not necessarily unplayable. Myrsmith and Dispense Justice were damn good cards, if not quite "bombs" they were certainly more alluring than a single Volition Reigns, and in the end I was happy to play a few sub-standard white cards as filler to get access to the three most powerful cards I'd opened.

Going into the tournament I was pretty sure I had been led astray by the lure of playing a Bomb rare, and that I'd weakened my deck to fit it in. It turns out it was definitely the right play, because Myrsmith was damn near as swingy in many of my games as the Sunblast Angel. White was very potent, even if two or three of the cards were a bit disappointing. Still, it was the right play, as I was in 1st in standings after the 4th round.

It helped that I had some solid Artifact rares, too. Chimeric Mass, Darksteel Juggernaut and a Nim Deathmantle all made the deck, and the Chimeric Mass was terrific, especially with the Angel. It was basically immune to almost all Sorcery-speed removal, except Revoke Existence. Deathmantle wasn't super, but I was happy to play it, as it was literally the only Equipment I opened. I never once paid 4 to bring something back, but the +2/+2 was very relevant and Intimidate was sometimes relevant.

The big key here, was that I played the two colors with the most/best artifact hate I could get. One game, an opponent tried to Imprint a Myr Battlesphere on a Prototype Portal. Yeah, without a Shatter in hand, I'd have been toast in very short order.

Which brings me to Saturday's tournament. I opened another Sunblast Angel and another Chimeric Mass, so I was pretty happy to play both again. I also had two Revoke Existence. For my second color, I initially wanted Black, as I had a Hand of the Praetors and quite a few Infest creatures. However, I wasn't satisfied with the initial build. It was then I had a bit of a revelation. I decided to resort all my cards out by color, and pull out everything that killed Artifacts.

After doing so I realized I had two Sylvok Replicas, and a Slice in Twain in Green, and the two Revoke Existence in White, while in black I only had the -4/-4 spell, and Red only had a single Shatter. So White/Green gave me access to 5 great removal spells, and plenty of decent creatures. So I sleeved up a fairly aggro W/G build packed with Artifact hate, and won my first 5 rounds without losing a single game.

Thus I realized the secret to this format, in Sealed, is to play whatever color combination gives you the most Artifact hate. It really pays off in this format, where a lowly Shatter is often better and more versatile than Doomblade in M10.

All in all, I had a great time, and did win quite a few backs. I didn't open any high-dollar cards, like Planeswalkers or the new Mox Opal. But I made a lot of really great trades, and got some goodies for my many, many decks. Most of my EDH decks got two or three new cards to play with, and I have a whole slew of new deck ideas, so decklists will be coming once the set is out and I've acquired enough to start building.

So, anyway, set review for EDH coming soon... stay tuned.

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