Welcome back to The Daily Shot, where Giant Idiots ruin columns. Before I continue on with my set reviews, I thought I would take a break and rant on Onslaught Sealed and prereleases in general.
Yeah, I went 1-2 at the prerelease. Prepare yourself for some whining.
Playing Onslaught sealed is like dialing a phone, while drunk, with heavy gloves on. Big, exaggerated motions that mash multiple buttons at once, with random results. Who can mash harder?
Here’s how my prerelease went: First of all, I had the worst card pool I have ever seen. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: Everybody who goes 1-2 claims they had a terrible card pool. Well, trust me on this one – it was the worst card pool I saw all day, out of every deck I compared with. Ferrett and his friend Neil both had better cards. All of the people who came down from Sarnia had better cards. I had multiples of every awful common in the set (Elvish Pathfinder, Syphon Mind), multiples of cards that I don’t want more than one of in my deck (Crown Of Ascension), and multiples of cards I couldn’t use because they were dependent on other cards that I didn’t have (Unified Strike).
Stories will be written about how poor my green was. Multiple Crown of Vigor and Elvish Pathfinder. My biggest Green creature was Spitting Gourna – a 3/4 for 4G that could block flyers. I also had Centaur Glade (plug it in, plug it in!) and then a whole lot of nothing. I think I had something like 2x Elvish Pathfinder, 2x Crown of Vigor, Spitting Gourna, Elvish Warrior (excellent but about as mana and splash-friendly as a shank in the sternum), and maybe one or two other cards like Vitality Charm and something else that sucked.
Oh yeah; and Naturalize. Naturalize doesn’t suck, of course, but when you’re looking for your color of choice, it doesn’t do much to steer you.
So my green is unsplashable and worthless, as the best card (Centaur Glade) requires a massive green mana investment, and the rest of it is garbage and not worth splashing for anyhow.
How was my red, you ask? Well, let me tell you. The dew of youth has not yet dried on the brow of this column, dear reader, and before this sucker expires you shall know it all.
My red was ghastly. My red was so ugly that were it woman, sex would be a double-bagger – one bag over her head, and one bag over my head just in case the bag over her head falls off. I had a grand total of three creatures:
- Crappy Morphing Halberdier that dies to Lavamancer’s Skill and lets my opponent draw a card from his Wirewood Savage if I hardcast it
- Bird Maiden reprint (MOTHER#$^#ing TYPE ONE POWER, BABY!)
- 0/5 Goblin with an activation cost to reveal cards from the top of library and increase power (I guess this guy is pretty good, and if I’d played red instead of splashing it, which I suppose was a possibility, I would have played him)
- Sparksmith…my one very quick and solid creature
The rest were junk cards, plus the environment-defining Wave of Indifference (not so good in my case…the combined power of my creatures was something like ten)…
(Geordie… As I stated, if you have a low-power creature, you need Wave of Indifference more than if you have forty beasts. Anyone can whale past a ground stall with a bunch of 5/4s. If all you have is 2/2s, then having your opponent’s creatures not block is pretty much the only way you can break a standoff. So stop whining – The Ferrett, who listened a bit to the Taitster at the prerelease)
…and one piece of most of the good red removal, like Shock, Pinpoint Avalanche, Solar Blast, and Lavamancer’s Skill.
Not bad, right? Wrong.
I checked the top tables later and the guys playing for the boxes had stuff like 2x Pinpoint Avalanche, 2x Erratic Explosion, 2x Shock, 1x Solar Blast, Rorix Bladewing, Lavamancer’s Skill, and more creatures to boot.
White was my best color, as I had the Gustcloak Hill Giant, a 3/3 flier, a 2/2 flier for 1WW, the 3/3 Cleric who provides a Lashknife Barrier for all your Clerics, the 3/4 first strike Morph guy with the ugly hardcasting cost, and maybe a couple of other marginal creatures and spells, like the situational rare Aurification (sometimes very good, but it sure doesn’t help you get board advantage) and Daru Healer.
Daru Healer is a joke. Why doesn’t he prevent two damage?!?!??!?! Green and red are playing 5/4 and 6/5 creatures all over the place, Shocking and Solar Blasting and Lavamancer pinging left and right, and my mother*#&^ing Healer prevents one damage?
Who thought that one up?
Remember Hallowed Healer?
Remember Sanctum Custodian?
Remember Troubled Healer?
Remember Field Surgeon?
DARU HEALER IS GARBAGE.
A nervous, bungling physician so inept, he could try to check for a heartbeat and miss your chest with the stethoscope. Can you play anything but beatdown in this format? Wave of Indifference is a common and there is no Fog and the damage prevention is all utter tripe.
I saw a guy with a ridiculous Cleric deck, and he still got rolled by”Evil” Matt Fox, who had the most broken deck at the event. That is how bad damage prevention is. The guy had four Clerics, a Shared Triumph naming”Cleric,” and one of his Clerics was the Lashknife Barrier one. The Cleric Lord who taps five Clerics to gain ten life was part of the team, as well. Did he lose anyway? Sure thing: He got smoked by a 16/4 Shaleskin Bruiser. He was trampled into the ground despite outdrawing Matt about 200% because of a Slate of Ancestry. It was insane. The good beatdown decks crush the good control decks because the good control decks are so dependent on getting good rares. Even then, they might not win.
I was happy that Matt was doing well, but I wanted to skull-punch him nonetheless. Here is what he got passed:
- Ravenous Baloth (2GG, 4/4, Beast, Sacrifice a Beast: Gain 4 life)
- Riptide Replicator (ARE YOU KIDDDING ME?)
- 2x Shock
- 3x Lavamancer’s Skill
- AGGREVATED F’N ASSAULT (Are you seeing this?)
- One each of the Red and Green couriers
- Elvish Warrior
- a couple of Goblin Sledders
- the Elf Wizard guy (Lavamancer Skill, anyone?) who taps to check the top of your library for a type of creature, and put it into your hand if it is of the type you name
- 3x TREESPRING LORIAN
- Spitting Gourna
- One of the common Green Hill Giant who pumps beasts
- Shaleskin Bruiser
Despite being so terrible that he left the Sparksmith and the Elf Wizard guy out of his deck despite both of them being clearly insane (he started boarding them in after Round 5, when I pointed out that he had no business not playing them) he easily made Top 8, steamrolling everyone in his path with ridiculous Lavamancer’s Skill/Aggravated Assault pingings, Lorian beatings, and general obscenity.
Meanwhile, as I was saying, my deck was awful. It was so bad that if I’d tried to make a two-color deck, I’d be running multiple Haunted Cadavers, Disciple of Grace and other dreck. I did end up running one Haunted Cadaver just to try it, and it didn’t exactly set the world afire.
Did I mention my Blue? I had one Ascending Aven, a Mistform Wall, and the 7CC 4/5 flyer. That was it. The rest of my creatures were all 1/1s, there were like six of the little bastards – an Imagecrafter, two Disruptive Pitmages, two Information Dealers, and a Crafty Pathmage. Throw in two Crowns of Ascension (what am I going to do, give all my 1/1’s flying and serve for that big six damage?) and a couple of common slots wasted on unplayable garbage, and you’ve got another color down the proverbial commode.
No Mistform 2/1 fliers, no Mistform 3/3 fliers, no Backslide (an important trick), no nothing. No Complicate, no good uncommons. And Lavamancer’s Skill wrecks my whole deck.
U/W control? What? There is no good damage prevention or card drawing in this format! None! You cannot play any sort of control deck. I tried – I had Aurification, a pile of Clerics, and some great recursion cards… And it didn’t matter! I got beat down by 5/4s and Exalted Angels every game.
And Krosan Colossus. Death Pulse and Shock and Solar Blast don’t do anything to that guy.
There is one tapper, and he is uncommon! What the hell?
Oh, did I mention my white had no Pacifism, so I had to play Sandskin? Did I mention that my opponent played two Morph creatures in one turn, and I played Sandskin on one, and it turned out to be Spitting Gourna, and the other was Krosan Colossus?
Did I mention that I died, a flattened corpse with an Aphetto Vulture and a naive hope, a man with shattered dreams and shattered illusions about playing a controllish deck? I tried to stall the ground and win with Aphetto Vulture (my best creature! That is how bad my cards were!) every game, and guess what?
It didn’t work. Wave of Indifference makes baby Jesus cry.
By the way, I want to kill people who easily best my meager record while simultaneously knowing absolute jack-all about the timing rules or, indeed, how to play the game. There were guys playing at 4-0 who didn’t even know what”the stack” was. They would draw before untapping. I saw them making terrible misplays almost every turn and winning because their equally inept 4-0 opponent also didn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground.
You know why people play chess? When you’re good at chess, your opponent can’t open three Queens and mate you while you flounder because you can’t get your bigger pieces into play. Yeah, I got mated all right. In every sense of the word.
There’s only so much you can do when you’re trying to win with a 2/2 flier and your opponent opened Exalted Angel, Gustcloak Saviour, and Krosan Colossus. I attacked into his Morph guy with my 3/4 first striker (also morphed), and of course it has to be Exalted Angel, the only morph creature in the format that could kill my guy and live.
“Mine’s bigger,”he says, flipping his card.
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Exalted Angel, no lube. That guy, with a name that escapes me right now, went on to win the prerelease. Exalted Angel is just stupid – Jean-Marc Babin had it in his deck and I saw him win almost every game with it. To his credit, Jean-Marc made no mistakes throughout the day and he knew that the Angel was his meal-ticket, never exposing it to removal without putting out some fodder Morph creatures. Do you know there is probably one piece of common removal in the entire format that can remove the damn thing? Cruel Revival. Pinpoint Avalanche can’t do it alone, and you have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting something like Feeding Frenzy or Unified Strike to work in Sealed.
So yeah, it was, as they say, dumb. I’ll get all the names straight when I actually write the report… If I actually write the report.
Images from a day of shattered illusions and new discoveries.
Three tattered sheets of paper on the wooden door of the main event area. The gaming store is Pandemonium, and you must treat it with respect. This is a business, and not your bedroom.
Pandemonium is not your bedroom.
My two rares. See my two rares. The floor is dirty, scarred from the passage of hundreds of human feet. The washroom has a BattleTech ad just above the urinal. The venue is caked with, awash with, the teeming masses of humanity. The garbage bins are filled to overflowing with empty fast-food containers and bags. McDonalds. Taco Bell. The smell of meat. They’re cooking franks and brats out on the barbecue. Near the end of the afternoon, they tune the price down to three for $2. I stretch out a weary hand and exchange currency for food and they taste good with Heinz Tomato Ketchup. But remember, Pandemonium is not your bedroom. And please don’t touch the Warhammer scenery.
There is an”Oriental Adventures” D&D sourcebook behind the barbecue. The guys running the food stand are talking about the campaign they are running. This is surreal. Everyone is a gamer. Everyone is part of the great machine.
See my two rares and in they go – Gangrenous Goliath and Undead Gladiator. Undead Gladiator has recursion. It doesn’t matter because he dies to Lavamancer’s skill and I have no bombs anyhow, so cycling through my cards will just deck me faster. Also, he can’t do much against a Treespring Lorian. And you don’t get card advantage from his recursion because you have to discard to pick him back up. He’s better in Constructed than in Limited.
I never returned Gangrenous Goliath once all day. The one time I cast it, my opponent cast Wave of Indifference and attacked for seventeen. Then the game after that, I got manascrewed and he cast two Goblins, an Elven Warrior, and then a Goblin Pyromancer and killed me on something like turn 5. Also he cast his maindeck Lay Waste (What the hell?).
Images of love and hate.
“Did you board that in?”I ask.
“No, I don’t have a sideboard at all,”he replies. “This is all maindeck.”
He doesn’t want me to riffle or bridge his cards. I pile shuffle instead and he wonders what I am doing. “I thought you could only cut,” he explains.
He gets land-flooded and says, “I think you de-randomized my deck.” It doesn’t matter because he ramps right up to Krosan Tusker anyhow, then Shaleskin Bruiser. Meanwhile I’m color-screwed (not really a surprise with my three-color special) and draw all four of my red cards, and none of my four red sources. I play out some Clerics. At this point he casts the aforementioned Wave of Indifference and runs me over.
I just played the man who didn’t want me to shuffle his cards for fear of damage, that didn’t know or didn’t care that he could sideboard (the very thought that he would sideboard after Game 1 or give any thought to it, in fact, seemed to surprise and intrigue him).
“No, I don’t have a sideboard at all,”he had said, glowing with pride over his decision to run the pivotal maindeck Lay Waste. “This is all maindeck.”
Indeed. I lost in two straight to this gentleman, who then went on his way after shaking my hand.
“Good match,”said he. I put the”Y” in the spot marked “Drop?”
The room is hot, though the weather has cooled somewhat as the season changes. It’s body heat, and swirls and gouts of exhaled air from the many humanoids.
There’s a D&D session going on in the draft room. I see a mullet. Counting the one on the downy-cheeked, bespectacled lad in the main event area, that makes two. James Beaton accuses me of having also having a mullet, but it’s just the visor playing tricks on my hair.
I went 1-2-drop
When at 4-0 they knew nothing of
Pandemonium is not your bedroom
an embarrassing amount of money
for doing match coverage
he didn’t deserve it
But my eyes drift to the sky
Far away at Boston the big boys play
And OMC is typing furiously
under that same sky
And yet here in Detroit
I lost to the man
Who said I couldn’t riffle
He had no sideboard
Pandemonium is not your bedroom
Sheets on doors and walls
And judges pull from the printer
With the expected tape allotment
Stuck to the forearm
Just a day in Pandemonium
and, oh God
Sometimes the day
in Pandemonium is
so, so very long.
See you tomorrow.