I love Prereleases. The atmosphere is casual, but it’s enough to satisfy my competitive urges, and you get to play with cards for the first time (and I do like collecting those Prerelase foils—although the picture for this one, Avatar of Hope—will someone explain to me what exactly this creature is supposed to be? I looks like some sort of Borg fashion mistake.).
Before going, I go over my checklist of tournament needs:
Advil: Check (the human head weighs about 16 pounds, and after a day of having my puny neck muscles holding it up, I tend to get headaches).
Band-Aids: Check (Band-Aids? Ever since I was four, I’ve always chewed on my fingernails. The more intense I get, the more I gnaw, often to the point of chewing my nails until they bleed. Hence, it’s not uncommon to see me with three or four Band-Aids on the ends of my fingers).
That’s pretty much everything. And it’s only a fifteen minute drive, enabling me to sleep in just a scosh on a Saturday.
Turnout is 163 people, not as big as the 200 we had for the Mercadian prerelease, but still a very large number.
The deck I ended up getting had strong blue (good Lord, it had Bribery, so obviously I was playing blue—Bribery is a god card in this format), great green fatties and good white utility, so a B/U/W deck it was. No Avatars, but I did get one spellshaper legend (Jolrael) and one Wind (the white one, which blows, so it didn’t get played)
Without consuming all the bandwidth necessary to list my entire cardlist, I’ll just present to you my deck and notable sideboard cards:
Darba (the“Funky Chicken,”“Atomic Chicken,” or“Super Chicken”, I just can’t decide what sounds cooler/goofier)
Jolrael, Empress of the Beasts (never used the ability once)
Rhystic Scrying (iffy choice, probably should have gone with ForceSpiketail Hatchling)
Ramosian Captain (definitely should have left the two Ramosian rebels out, almost always dead cards)
Round 1: Leeann Cole (R/B/U)
Not only is my opponent a definite “cutie,” but she has one of those short shirts on that exposes her midriff—and Dave likes those a great deal. I must be strong and concentrate! Focus power!
Game 1: She gets a mini-air force out quickly—Cloud Sprite, Spiketail Drake, Kyren Glider—for the early beats. I get out a turn four Drake Hatchling to staunch the flow, but it gets Thunderclapped a few turns later.
Then she drops a Puffer Extract, and those puny fliers are looking pretty nasty all of the sudden.
The Kyren Glider smacks me for eight, and suddenly I’m at three life. By this time, I’ve gotten some offense on the table in a Giant Caterpillar and Hunted Wumpus, but it looks like I might lose the race but for some key topdecking.
Ask and ye shall receive. Her next attack should finish me off, but I Excise the Puffer-ed attacker, take one, and Dehydrate the remaining flyer on my turn, eliminating her lone remaining threat. The Wumpus and Caterpillar attack, bringing her down to one. Looks like Dave’s keen topdecking skills again carry the day…
Then on her final turn, she topdecks Sizzle.
For a sub-optimal card, I sure seem to be losing a lot to it lately.
Well, this day is off to a rousing start.
My notes are a little spotty here, but I take an early Rhystic Lightning and Sizzle, but I have control of the board the rest of the way with the Hunted Wumpus and refill my hand with the Kyren Archive.
Again, she hits me with Rhystic Lightning and Sizzle, dragging me down to 13 by turn four. Yikes! I’m short on mana early, but finally draw a turn five island that enables me to play Brainstorm, and go get the extra lands I need to start rolling.
My opponent again has a horde of weenie flyers on the table. A key play, however, is when she chooses to play Devastation on my meager land base at turn six, choosing to take out my lone plain instead of my island. Wrong choice, as I had no white cards in hand (only a Devout Witness on the table) and plenty of blue.
Side note: time for another “pronounce it right or be smacked” rant. The English majors in WotC have introduced another cool new word to the game, “rhystic.”
I’ve been scouring dictionaries but can find no reference to the word “rhystic” anywhere, and this is killing me. If some kind soul would tell me what this means, I could get back to sleep.
Jason Champion (B/W)
Man, I wish I had a name like Champion. “Dave Champion” has a much more authoritative ring than “Dave Meddish.” You don’t make fun of a “Champion.” “Meddish,” on the other hand… don’t get me started. My nickname in third grade used to be“Radish” since I’d turn rather red when being picked on by those cruel cruel children. This was years ago, before it became stylish to come to school and shoot classmates, so I just spent a few grand on therapy.
I have to double mulligan to a hand with two Forests and no green cards. Okay, maybe we can come back.
Or maybe not.
By my turn three, I have two lands, nothing I can cast for at least two turns, and on a very short clock. I scoop and we go to Game 2.
Ah, much better. My notes are again spotty (I have not quite mastered the art of taking notes during a game while trying to concentrate on what my opponent’s doing).
The key play is the MVP of Mercadian block sealed, Bribery. For the right price, Jason’s Cateran Slaver decides he wants to come play with Dave. Hmmm… 5/5 swampwalker that he can’t kill? Definitely not good.
My opponent isn’t going to roll over peacefully, no, he’s gonna make me work for it. He slaps down a Mine Bearer—well, that’ll slow me down. But I’m nothing if not sneaky.
I attack, he sacrifices the Mine Bearer to eliminate the traitorous Slaver. He goes to reclaim it and I have to pipe in with a hasty “Not so fast, Chester,” and play Jolrael’s Favor and regenerate the Slaver. Quite wily, I am.
A Greel’s Caress on the Slaver slows me down further, and I have to deal with a recursive Mine Bearer thanks to Haunted Crossroads. Basically, I’m dealing two damage every two turns now. Not the quick end I was hoping to accomplish.
It takes several turns, but eventually, once I drop a Devout Witness, he concedes, having no answer to the Slaver’s weak but constant beatdown.
Note: Mine Bearer + graveyard recursion = some good.
The evil deity mana screw comes to pay me a visit once more. I have an early Waterfront Bouncer that is keeping me alive by bouncing his small army of weenies and fliers, but I’m having to pitch all my good green fatness to do so—but, having no forests, what else can I do?
I manage to keep Jason at bay long enough to establish some kind of equilibrium, although he is playing very cautiously, committing very few attackers when he probably could overrun me. I’m down to eight life when I finally get a Giant Caterpillar into play, down to four when I play a Fog Frog and Shield Dancer.
The end game ends in a curious fashion. I’m down to two, he attacks with his fliers, I bounce one, he Last Breaths my Bouncer, taking me back up to six, when time is called.
I’ve got the Fog Frog, he can save me for one turn, but I’m pretty sure a creature rush will take me out. But my opponent plays cautiously and seems to be willing to accept the draw. I never even have to use the Frog before the game ends.
“I win, right?” Jason asks, apparently under the impression that the person with the highest life total takes the game. A judge has to explain to him that that’s not how it works. And I just got a gift that I won’t complain about.
Round 3: Ryan Clark (R/G/U)
Game 1: Once again, your friend and mine, mana screw, decides to pay me a visit, but I am able to alleviate the problem with a turn two Silverglade Pathfinder, then topdeck a turn three Rishadan Airship. Unfortunately, he follows with a Devestation, targeting my island, denying me a valuable blue mana source and killing off my creatures.
And a mighty “D’oh!” goes up from the crowd.
Game 2: Again, my notes are spotty and memory unreliable, but I have down that I had control with fatties and fliers and cruised aside from taking some early burn with Lightning and Sizzle (man, what is it with that card?).
Round 4: Jeremy Grogan (R/B)
Game 1: Jeremy wins the roll and elects to go first. He has a fairly fast deck, dropping a turn two Whipstitch Zombie, followed by a Spur Beastie and Chimeric Idol. His deck is filled with those untapped-land-bonus cards that have great synergy with the Idol.
He then asks me how many land I have in play. I have six. Now, why would he ask how many…uh oh. If it’s what I think, I’d better not play that seventh land. Which could indeed suck, since I only have one island and a hand full of double blue spells.
I start to step up the beats when he plays a Cinder Elemental (and has seven lands), while I’m down to eight life. If he gets up to nine, he can smoke me out. So I press the attack.
This was probably a questionable move, but he tries to use the Cinder Elemental to destroy my Living Terrain-ed Plains, but thanks to Spidersilk Armor, comes up one short. He elects to scoop, and I won’t complain there.
Jeremy again gets the fast start, dropping the Zombie and a Kyren Sniper, putting me on a slow but constant clock. I’ve got him down to twelve, I’m at five, when I finally get my second island to play Bribery. Well, let’s see what he’s got in the deck…
Yes, it’s the suspected Avatar of Fury, but a foil one no less! Yowzah!
From there on, it’s two turns to game, as I get him just before the Sniper finishes me off. Jeremy was simply happy to pull this in his packs, and I can’t say I blame him.
Round 5: Lance Darling (G/W)
I shall resist the urge to make obvious“darling” jokes.
Game 1: I get a turn four Atomic Chicken, and he has no answer for it save for chump blockers. It ends up going the distance.
Game 2: He plays out a Glider and two Diving Griffins, and a Shield Dancer and a Cho-Manno’s Blessing neutralize my Chicken. I get rattled and forget the upkeep on the Chicken, but it’s a moot point as his fliers finish me off.
Game 3: Now it gets fun.
He plays out a Vintari Elephant, I empty my hand to put a Bouncer and Witness on the table, trying to go on the aggressive.
On his turn, he enchants the Elephant with Lure. Lure? Man, he’s stealing from my bag of tricks. I’m forced to block with Jolrael, the Bouncer and the Witness. Curiously, he kills Jolrael and the Bouncer and not the Witness. I do manage to kill the Elephant, although it takes me a turn to realize that “hey, your elephant should be dead.” Yes, that’s me, David R. Meddish, Bad Magic Player.
I play out a Giant Caterpillar and start the beatdown with the ‘Pillar and the Witness while he begins restocking his side of the board, in part thanks to my Wumpus allowing him to play a Diving Griffin. Lance has plenty of green but can’t seem to draw that second plains he desperately needs.
I figure what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. I enchant the Wumpus with my Lure, and send him over for the fat beats. Adding insult to injury, I also give him Jolrael’s Favor as an instant and regenerate him. Game ends shortly afterwards. Lance never saw the second white to play the Cho-Manno’s Blessing he’d drawn with his first seven cards.
Dave’s in the money, but for how much?
Round 5: Ivan Connel (apologies if name is wrong) (G/W)
Game 1: I really get mana screwed, having to mulligan down to five and stuck with a crappy hand, while he’s hitting his mana curve on all cylinders. Wow, that was fun.
Game 2: Again, crappy mana draw, but I manage to play out a turn two Waterfront Bouncer, but miss the next two mana draws while I get beaten down by a Glittering Lion (definitely worst art in the new set) and a Diving Griffin. But there’s hope! I gamble, tap out and cast my Hunted Wumpus to hopefully staunch the tide of attackers.
Ivan drops an Avatar of Hope courtesy of the Wumpus.
Bad Wumpus! Bad Wumpus! You get smacked on the nose with the rolled-up newspaper.
And that, boys and girls, was all she wrote.
At least this should improve my rather meager Sealed DCI rating and I did get six packs for my trouble. So all in all, I was a happy camper…
So, as is the tradition of tournament recapping, I must give out the props and slops (and if someone could explain to me the origins of these terms I’d be much appreciative).
Props to: Ken Horton and Black Lotus Productions for not only running smooth, hassle-free tournaments but for being able to put up with Chris Benafel.
My opponents, gracious in victory and defeat.
Slops to: those damn L.A. Lakers for getting my weekend off to a bad start. I don’t know why they just don’t let Shaq pitch a damn tent in the lane, he camps there so much.
I didn’t see every card in Prophecy, but I got to play with a lot of them, and I think I can make these assessments:
1) For sealed and “fun” play, this is a great set. The tapped land bonus cards are an interesting new mechanic that added a nice new dimension to game play.
2) But for Constructed play, it doesn’t look good.
I’m not going to rate every card because a) it would take too long and b) everybody else and their grandmother does that. And it’s impossible to say if a card is good or not until it’s been played for a while. When Mercadian Masques came out, Bribery was “the” card, according to the spoiler lists. Rishadan Port? Pshaw! I’ll give you three of those for a Bribery. Who gets ripped off there?
Rating cards before they actually see play is like trying to tell if a professional sports team had a good draft based on draft night. On paper, Sam Bowie looked like the much better choice than Michael Jordan did. That was 1986. Who would you have rather had in 1990? (hint: not Sam Bowie).
This was the experiment I wanted to try: based on the spoiler lists and pre-release play, I was going to compile a list of what I thought were the ten best cards for Constructed play in Prophecy, and do a column about a month later after Prophecy had been in the environment for a while to see how accurate my predictions were.
Trouble is, I don’t think there are ten Constructed-worthy cards in Prophecy. But I’m gonna give this the ol’ college try regardless, chaff cards be damned.
10: Sheltering Prayers
If Ponza indeed makes a move to Tier 1 rather than the Tier 1a it’s sitting at these days, this card will see a lot of sideboard action.
9: Living Terrain
A house in both the literal and figurative sense, but vulnerable to land destruction.
8: Mungha Wurm
Like a mono-green Elf-heavy deck is going to care about not untapping lands…
A very nice splashable counterspell.
More excellent removal for a defensive white deck and highly splashable.
5: Wild Might
Tapping out against the green mage just became very very bad.
2. Mercenary Spy
A great sideboard card in the Rebel vs. Rebel matchups. Can’t be Last Breathed, can’t be Waved, the Lightbringer can’t touch him and it keeps Lin Sivvi out of the game. But this is the only real card that Rebel decks got in this expansion. It’s evil twin, the Rebel Informer, might be a good card if anyone ever played a Mercenary deck in Constructed.
1. Rhystic Tutor
This is the chase card from the set. Powerful, but not quite broken. Like many other rhystic cards, it may slow aggressive decks down a little. Not much, but a little.
I’ll have to revisit this list in a month or two to see how accurate my estimations were.
And, as always, remember, please – no wagering.