Please Note: The following prerelease report contains a bit of drama. It will contain a controversial decision that I made which reduced my chances of finishing with a box, plus a description of what may or may not have been a play error that caused a match loss.
So my friends and I went to the Scourge Prerelease in Detroit on Saturday. Well, really, in Garden City, which is a suburb of the Motor City. I’ll skip the virtually obligatory comments about my friends, when we left, how much sleep I had, et cetera. I figure that you care more about Magic than about my life.
I arrive with plenty of time to kill. Grab some breakfast at McDonald’s – yadda, yadda, yadda. The tournament starts thirty minutes late and they don’t have my name on the seating list for deck registration, so I get to sit at a table where there are few other players, meaning I have space to breathe.
I register a deck that could Top 8 with a good pilot. For some reason, however, all I can remember are Silvos and two Pemmin’s Auras. And two Shepherds of Rot, one foil. Anyways, we switch decks. Here is what I get:
Crown of Awe
Foil Dimensional Breach
Raven Guild Initiate
Shepherd of Rot
Crown of Fury
2 Goblin Brigand
Goblin War Strike
Torrent of Fire
Wave of Indifference
2 Break Asunder
Kamahl, Fist of Krosa
Artifact and Land:
Ark of Blight
That’s right: I received two of the same rare in Scourge – Dimensional Breach. And it sucked.
The first thing I do when reviewing a Sealed deck is to eliminate any colors that are simply too weak. Blue, in this case, was an automatic exclusion; it was far weaker than anything else. And while red had a few strong cards, as a color, it was simply outclassed by my other three colors. Therefore, red was also eliminated.
Black, white, and green. Black had a lot going for it – a solid creature base and a bit of removal. Green had a game-breaking rare, several landcyclers, several morphs, and a lot of versatility. White had the best card of them all – Glarecaster. Combined with several other fliers, Pacifism, and some morph creatures, it was also seductive.
I decided on green quickly. Of the three colors, it offered the most from top to bottom. I then started towards my black, but I noticed that the creatures here were mostly solid, but not gamebreaking. And that’s certainly good… But was it what I wanted? An overcosted 4/3, an overcosted 3/2, a Husk, a one-drop, a 3/4 morph, an unknown avatar, and a 2/2 fear were the best of the lot. Are those creatures good enough to support the Cruel Revival and Lingering Death?
I had my doubts. So I turned to white. Here were more gamebreaking creatures, and a Pacifism. So I would sacrifice only one creature removal spell for better creatures and an Astral Slide.
That seemed worth it to me. Unfortunately, Green/White is my Least Favorite Color Combination of All Time. Ah well, let’s roll with it:
Kamahl, Fist of Krosa
Total: 41 cards
Now, right away there was some controversy. Leery Fogbeast? I had several people wonder at that. I like the Fogbeast in Sealed because it provides a quick beatstick. It was one of my best creatures with an active Astral Slide in play because it stung for four each turn. It makes a great wall in the environment… And with a lot of bigger creatures, I wanted something smaller to help out. The Fogbeast is a good blocker that can trade with some of the biggest creatures that most colors have to offer. The only early morphs I feared were Battering Craghorn and Daru Lancer. The Glory Seeker, on the other hand, plays offense, not defense. I wanted something to slow down my opponent while I built up, or something to take advantage of my opponent’s lack of plays – not a dinky 2/2 that will do nothing late. Plus, my deck was more green than white, so I’d be more likely to have forests early than plains. I wanted to smooth out my resource concerns.
In retrospect, I’d remove the Savage; I never drew a single card off it the entire tournament. Break Asunder was never cast, only cycled – although it did help me a few times when I had a Slide out and I needed a cycling card, I ended up sideboarding it out a lot. The Slide could remove creature enchantments, so what did I care? There was another card that never helped me, either… But we’ll wait until later for it.
Enter the Tournament:
Round One – Drew Sandler, from South Bend, R/?
What am I expecting from my deck, really? Green/white means that I can’t stop Feared guys, I can’t kill many creatures, and I can’t handle the big stuff. G/W is problematic in many ways. Ugh. This match starts a daylong trend for me.
I slap down a Leery Fogbeast on turn 3. My opponent has no third-turn play. Really? The third turn’s the flashpoint and Drew has nothing? I swing for four and play the Fierce Empath to get a cycler, as I have Astral Slide in hand. The following turn, Drew rallies a defense with something red (I can’t remember the creature). I play the Slide, cycle, and hit for five. I hit him next turn after cycling another card… And that’s it. Drew stabilizes, kills my things, and tromps over with red creatures and removal.
I then completely stomp Drew in the next game. His life goes from twenty to eighteen (Serpentine Basilisk morphed), to fourteen (two morphs, second is a Bulvox), to seven (killed the Basilisk, morphed the Bulvox). Game.
Game three sees him getting a few quick hits in with Goblin Brigand before I get the Big Beef going. I steamroll over his small creatures and my guys are generally too big for his removal. Match to me.
Overall record, 1-0, game record 2-1.
Round Two, Bud Ostberg, from the Toledo Area, U/W/r
I get off to a fast start, but then Bud stabilized. He plays two Rush of Knowledges and draws ten cards… Yet my beef is too much, and I rush past his defenses.
Game two goes like this: I play a morph of a Basilisk. He passes his third turn; I attack and play Undorak. He plays that blue flier where you can draw a card for each creature flipped up. I attack, hoping that he’ll block my morphed Basilisk, but no dice. He plays Rush of Knowledge twice, using the cards drawn to stall me for a bit – but again, his creatures are no match for mine and I crush.
This match was fairly uneventful and straightforward, despite all of the cards he drew. I counted, and Bud had outdrawn me in this match by twenty-three cards in two games.
Overall record, 2-0, game record 4-1
Round Three, Scott, from Detroit, W/R/b
Here is the controversial match, so I am going to go into great detail. Here are the life totals for game one:
Me: 20, 18, 14, 10, 7, 4
So yeah, he streamrolled me. He was beating me down and I had a slow hand, so I had to use the Pacifism early. I selected one of his two morphs. He unmorphed the other, an Ascending Aven, and I figured that I had chosen incorrectly. After the game, he showed me that I had Pacified an Exalted Angel, so I did choose correctly. Anyways, look at this life total from the second game, it’s really neat:
Him: 20, 18, 14, 10, 7, 4
Identical opposites, except for that one little number. Funny, eh? This game I started fast, used a Fierce Empath to get Glarecaster, then played the Glarecaster and rode her to victory. And then, game three – the controversial play of the day for me.
We are playing at Table #3. A large group of players were watching the action at table #1, but they ended their match, so they turned their attention to us. It’s late in the match, and here is what happened.
We exchanged early damage, but I took more than my opponent did. My opponent has a lot of creature out, so I use the Empath to get – you guessed it – Glarecaster. I am down to five. My opponent takes five hits from the Glarecaster, knocking him down to four. He has out a Daru Healer, so he is taking two damage a turn from the Glarecaster. He chumped my Glarecaster several times in order to take less damage, and he has out no creature threats, but he has several ground creatures.
My opponent is splashing black, which is important in my decision process. So here is the board:
I have six lands and Glarecaster.
He has six lands the Healer, and a couple of other small creatures. He has two cards in hand, I have seven, because I don’t want to play anything and allow him to kill the Glarecaster. But when he morphed up the Healer, I knew that nothing he had on the board would kill me. He has splashed black, but I’ve yet to see a black card.
What card would you splash black for? Removal, right? Cruel Revival or something. So I fear that he can draw a card at any time to whack my Glarecaster, then reestablish control. He is at four; I am at five. I draw my card for the turn.
I have eight cards. I have to discard unless I play something. Do I play something or not? If I play something, then even if he kills the Glarecaster, I’ll have defense. Or his death on the board, based on what I play. If I don’t, I’m basically riding my Glarecaster and hoping that he has nothing to take it out. I’d hate for him to Cruel Revival my ‘Caster at the end of my turn, untap, and attack for three. He’s playing red – I don’t want to be at two against a red deck.
So I play Kamahl, Fist of Krosa. I figure that, if he kills the Glarecaster, I still have a win condition on the board because I can overrun with Kamahl, and attack with a seven-power trampler – enough to win. So my opponent untaps.
Draws a card. Plays the land he just drew. Taps out.
Argh! If I had left my mana untapped, I could have redirected the damage to my opponent via the Glarecaster, so he would not have played it. I should have ridden my bird to a win. Did I make the right call? It might be a good time to respond in the forums…
Overall Record 2-1, Game Record 5-3
I shuffled my deck. And waited for ten minutes. My opponent never showed. I have played Magic since The Dark was released and I have never received a win because my opponent didn’t show up… Until now.
Overall Record 3-1, Game Record 7-3 (kinda)
Round Five, Chris…er…Eugene….no…Randy, from Detroit, G/R
I accidentally sat down in seat 16 instead of 19 because I was talking with Geordie Tait and wasn’t paying attention. So I introduced myself to Chris, wrote his name down on the paper, then realized I was in the wrong seat and got up to go to 19. Here I met Eugene, crossed out Chris at the top of my match sheet, and we shuffle dup.
Repairing then occurred.
So I was assigned to Randy. And this match will continue a trend for me.
Game one saw some early beats from me as a morphed Basilisk attacked. He Carbonizes it, and starts swinging back. He plays beef just a big as my own, backed with burn. He used his own Fierce Empath to retrieve Kamahl, who finishes me off and overruns my defenses. Literally.
Game two was bad for him. He gets manascrewed early and was stuck on two mana for turns 3 and 4. And here’s what I do: Third-turn Fogbeast. Fourth-turn Undorak. Fifth-turn Dragonstalker, he is at nine. He concedes, although he draws a third land when I play Astral Slide and cycle something. I had ten damage on the table, after all.
Game three provided an interesting situation. I attacked with a morphed Basilisk and my opponent had two morphed creatures in play. Secretly, I want him to double-block my morphed guy; I only have four mana in play at the time, and he had five mana. I broadcast”Block with both your morphs” to him for a good minute before he decides to block with only one morphed guy. I de-morph my Basilisk once he de-morphs, showing that 3/3 beast who gives something trample off a morph trigger. We kill each other.
A few turns later, I have seven mana in play and attack with my other morphed creature. My opponent blocks with a Fierce Empath. I morph my creature revealing a Titanic Bulvox and hit him for a lot of trample damage. My opponent plays his seventh land and tells me to go.
I untap and wonder at what tricks my opponent has available to him. He has seven mana, several card in hand, and a morphed creature. I have my Bulvox. He is at nine, I am at twenty – does he need a blocker? What could that morph be? I look at my hand closely. I decide to plan for the worst. I drop a Krosan Drover, making sure to keep a white mana open in my three remaining lands. I attack with the Bulvox. My opponent blocks with his morph, taps seven mana – he has a Bulvox, too!
Luckily, I planned ahead: I tap my mana and tell my opponent that he’s not going to like this. I play Astral Steel, and with its Storm ability, have both copies target my Bulvox. With his Steel in hand, my Bulvox is now a 9/8 trampler and just barely survives the opposing beast. My opponent loses his Bulvox, loses five life, and concedes as he draws nothing to tackle a 7/4 Trampler of Doom.
Overall Record 4-1, Game Record 8-4.
Round Six, John, from Grand Rapids, R/B
My opponent is playing my personal favorite color combination against me, playing my least favorite combination. Not a good place to start. He informs me that he has only lost two games all day long. Since he is 4-1 as well, he must have swept all the matches he won. Great.
My opponent goes first and gets a bit of a jump. We exchange fire a bit as his Severed Legion and my morphed Aven Liberator battle for damage. He slaps a Crown of Suspicion on his guy and starts swinging for four. Knowing that I have to race him, I toss an Improvised Armor on my Bird and swing back for four. I am able to get more ground creatures against him than he can muster, so I win a quick race right before he would have killed me.
I sideboard for the first time in the tournament. In goes a Zombie Cutthroat and a Crown of Awe for a Wirewood Savage and a Break Asunder.
My opponent gets his stupid Feared creature + Crown of Suspicion thing going again. This time, however, I have an Astral Slide and cyclers, so I remove the Crown of Suspicion, beat down with some creatures, and take the game rather easily.
Overall Record 5-1, Game Record 10-4
Round Seven, Chris from Wayne, B/R
My opponent’s name was Christ on the form because Christopher would not fit. It made me want to yell out his name loudly in the middle of the tournament.
Blasted B/R decks! Nothing is more annoying. He beats me the first game after I establish my defense and start beating with a Dragonstalker enchanted by my Improvised Armor. He uses a Shepherd of Rot and de-morphs a Zombie to kill me. Ah well.
I sideboard in a Crown of Awe.
Second game, I get my Glarecaster after some early beats. Having learned my lesson back in round three, I ride the Glarecaster all the way.
In game three, I just get an early jump. I play an Undorak and enchant it with a Crown of Awe. Then I send in morphs and the like. I de-morph a Lancer and kill one of his blocker. He has to run a Goblin Brigand into my pro red/pro black wall of death. And so forth. Eventually, I start swinging with an Undorak and pumping him up. The win comes quickly.
Overall Record 6-1. Game Record 12-5
Round Eight, Chris from Westland, B/W/u
I have a controversial decision to make. The prizes are as follows: Top 8 get a box, Number One gets another box, 9-16 get half a box. Chris is ranked number four, I am number nine. There are eight players with 18 points, and two with 21. So, I have lousy tiebreakers. There are also a couple of players with 16 points, and twenty-three players with 15 points.
If we play the match, and I win, I get a box. If I lose, I’ll probably fall to #20 or so, and not get anything. If we draw, I am guaranteed a half box, and might, if the other players play, sneak into the Top 8 at number 7 or 8.
I didn’t not play all day and go 6-1, to lose in the final round. Honestly, I didn’t have the confidence in my deck to trust it to go all the way, so I take the draw.
Overall record 6-1-1
Now here is what happened: I came in tenth because every player with eighteen points drew. I took a look through Chris’s deck, however, and see Akroma’s Vengeance, Cruel Revival, Decree of Justice – in other words, a lot of cards that would defeat my deck. He had feared creatures, flyers, removal – there was no way that I would have won the match.
But my deck had overperformed all day long. Maybe it had one more win in it. Did I make the right call? Again, I’ll let you discuss it in the forums….
I did open my eighteen packs, getting two foil rares and most of the chase cards from the set. So I’m happy. 189 people at the main event, and I got 10th. I was, for most of the event, one of the few white players (not Caucasian – white) at the main table, and the only G/W deck I saw all day long. I defied odds to get here, and I took home eighteen packs of Scourge. Not a bad deal, in my opinion.
Some Quick Props:
- To Serpentine Basilisk, for being in my hand by turn three in 80% of the games I played.
- To Glarecaster for winning me a bunch of games.
- To Improvised Armor, for winning me more games than I had expected. Improvised Armor was amazing all day long and incredible tempo when you can slap it on a morph turn 4 and then de-morph it turn 5 and crush more. If you need to, of course.
- To having four beatsticks that cycled for a land. I was never mana screwed all day and I only Parised twice. Plus having a Drover that made my beatsticks easier to play and a Fierce Empath who got me a land cycler 75% of the time. And a Glarecaster otherwise.
Some Quick Slops:
- To Wirewood Savage, for being too seductive in my deck construction not to include maindeck, but never giving me one card all day.
- To Kamahl, Fist of Krosa, who never won me a single game. Kamahls were everywhere. At one point, my opponent had Kamahl, I had Kamahl, and a guy at the table next to us had Kamahl. There were a lot of Kamahls running around. I lost a game to my opponent’s Kamahl, and I lost a game by casting my own Kamahl. Yet I never won a game with my Kamahl. Bah!
- To Symbiotic Elf, who never did anything of any import whatsoever.