Headed to Garden City again, gonna win me a box. Gonna open me a Genesis. Yes, before the day is done I’m gonna swing with tight men.
Contrary to popular myth surrounding Magic players in general, I have in fact gotten some nookie throughout the course of my various temporary relationships – and even that doesn’t compare to winning a prerelease and taking home two boxes. (You must be doing it wrong, then – The Ferrett) Laugh if you want at my perceived misplacement of priorities – but as the old saying goes, nothing beats attacking for two. (Attacking for twenty – The Ferrett, who’s interjecting a lot in this article)
Those secure enough to admit that they’d rather dominate the swiss during a prerelease than participate in sexual activity (where any barbarian is your equal and any skillfully wielded vibrator immeasurably your superior), follow along with me; you might have a good time and learn something that could help you. At the very least you can laugh while I scrub out.
Don’t worry – there is some actual strategy in here somewhere. For starters, you can check out how I built my deck and see what you might have done differently. It’s a good exercise – and if you’re really bored, you can even email me about it. While you’re composing, don’t forget to compliment me on my boyish good looks, superior intellect, and surpassing modesty.
I’d been looking forward to the Judgment Prerelease festivities for some time, and as such I could barely contain my excitement when I finally got on the road alongside by traveling companions for the day,”Evil” Matt Fox (statues beware!) and the unbeatable Babin brothers. With I-94 passing beneath us in a blur, the seconds were ticking down until we’d have a shot at a bunch of limited points and a big pile of product. We used the driving time (which was considerable, since roadwork would reduce the interstate to one lane for a while), to take a second look at the spoiler.
Evil Matt almost screwed us by not setting his alarm, but we managed to get on the road a mere 45 minutes late. At the border, we traded our festive and multicolored money for a bunch of bills that look alike, and got mentally prepared to travel the unpredictable roadways of the Detroit area. Truth be told, those lanes aren’t in the best state of repair – trying to traipse from Sarnia to Exit 210A sends you careening across a stretch of blacktop with all the consistency and smoothness of grain alcohol.
We pull in and the place is jumpin’, relatively speaking. (How”jumpin” can it get with participants and event staff comprised of unshaven nerds? Hard frikkin’ core, baby! Represent!). Someone fires up a barbecue outside and suddenly the place starts to fill with smoke (seriously) and the smell of charcoal. The brats and burgers hit the grill just around start time, improving the aroma a little, but if I remember correctly, we spent most of registration and Round 1 wading around in haze reminiscent of the backlot at Ozzfest.
First thing’s first… Time to get sleeves. I’ll go with the pink Japanese brand – not only are they manly, but they come from a country where porn is pretty much a national institution. Now that’s an economy I can support with pride, even if I am just a clueless gaijin. Oh, and Japan also gave us Squaresoft and Akira Toriyama’s”Dragonball Z.”
(Hmm, they also gave us that damn Tamagotchi virtual pet crap, and Pokemon. We’ll call it even. )
After some preamble from the judges about Wishes, Advocates, and which donuts to pick up if anyone happens to be dropping by a Timmy Ho’s, we’re underway. A corpulent gent somewhere across from me opens a foil Shadowmage Infiltrator and starts wondering aloud if he should just drop and gank the card. Some of his friends even advise him to do it. While I’m not above taking a loss in order to grab half a box (CHEATIN!), I think dropping to keep a foil is a little over the edge. We all came to play, right?
See, what happened to this poor card-craving bastard is why you have to be prepared with a Loaf. Now sure, Loafing Giant isn’t legal – but that most bombtastic of Odyssey rares, Mudhole, is the perfect substitute. Just make sure no one is watching, grab that foil Infiltrator, and insert the Mudhole into the deck instead.
We can call that little bit of sleight of hand”Poking A Mudhole.” Or, if the editor won’t let that one go,”Stomping A Mudhole.” (He will – The Ferrett, a fan of the mudshark) It’s a good metaphor for what you’re doing to your opponent’s deck, and, if the foil is particularly valuable, to his pocketbook or card collection.
I open and pass a broken deck with Commander Eesha and about fifteen other good white cards to the guy across from me. He would eventually finish second. A fair man, he passes me back a deck with a lot of potential. The first thing I notice is the massive amount of fat (much of it potential threshold fat, but fat nonetheless).
Here’s my card pool:
Lead Astray x2
Pilgrim Of Justice
Great removal in Chastise, a great trick in Embolden, and a strong early game with Patrol Hound, Phantom Nomad, Benevolent Bodyguard as early drops. Hallowed Healer is obviously nuts in the G/W creature combat-oriented environment that you get when the whole field is running an Odyssey starter and three Judgment boosters. Battlewise Aven and Shieldmage Advocate are strong creatures – and in a pinch, Auramancer, Vigilant Sentry, and Trained Pronghorn can fill out a deck.
There’s no reason to maindeck a Pilgrim in this environment, and Ancestor’s Chosen is too expensive for too little effect on most occasions.
Anurid Barkripper x2
Chatter Of The Squirrel
Rites Of Spring
Thriss, Nantuko Primus
Look at all the fat! While Thriss isn’t a bomb on the level of Aboshan or Cabal Patriarch, he certainly does enough to warrant a spot in the deck. Creature combat can become very unfair when he hits the board. Giant Warthog is just huge. Metamorphic Wurm and Krosan Beast are all ridiculously large under the right conditions – conditions that should be easy for me to reach if I play Patrol Hound, Wild Mongrel, Rites of Spring, and the like.
On the smaller side, Wild Mongrel is still the best two-drop in the environment, and Ironshell Beetle is a strong second-turn play. Nantuko Disciple still dominates creature combat (which is, as I said, very important in a removal-light field). Krosan Avenger is an obvious inclusion in most decks, and even more so in this one, with Thriss and Nantuko Disciple needing trampling targets to get the full use out of their abilities.
Chatter of The Squirrel is aggressive, but the little tokens run out of steam quickly when the larger creatures hit play, something that happens often when many matches are G/W vs. G/W creature stalemates. Still, it may have a use in chump blocking (and therefor taking counters off of) Phantom creatures.
Sudden Strength is a complete backbreaker that swings games, and you want to open as many as possible. I only have one, and it looks like I’m playing it.
Bash To Bits
Lava Dart x2
There are like three marginally playable creatures here – and I do mean marginal. Spellgorger Barbarian and Dwarven Driller don’t exactly cause me to blow through the roof with orgasmic excitement. So let’s look for stuff that is worth splashing. Firebolt is good, as you all know. Lava Darts aren’t really splashable because the flashback cost requires you to sacrifice a mountain.
Arcane Teachings is a beating, though, great against (and with!) Phantom creatures and just good in general. Still, I’m looking solid in G/W and if I splash and take a hit in mana consistency, I want it to really swing the game for me.
That brings me to Demoralize. In an environment with lots of creature stalemates, it’s pure gold. I didn’t open Overrun, so I might splash for Demoralize. It finishes games if you can be reasonably sure you won’t get nailed with Prismatic Strands or Moment’s Peace.
Battle Of Wits
Grip Of Amnesia
Wormfang Newt x2
Battle Of The Mother****ing Wits, yo! Seriously though, there’s some good stuff here – Windreader, Scrivener, Psionic Gift, Syncopate, and of course the Cephalid Broker. Cephalid Scout isn’t bad at all and Aven Fogbringer is passable. Looking it over, though, I wasn’t really impressed with it compared to my White or Green.
Knowing that I’m not going to be playing Blue as a base color, I start looking for splashable bombs. Looking back up to the stuff I’ll likely play in G/W, you’ll notice that my deck is going to need Threshold pretty badly:
Battlewise Aven gets +1/+1 and first strike. Krosan Beast gets +7/+7 and is useless without it. Metamorphic Wurm gets +4/+4. I have two Anurid Barkrippers that get +2/+2. Hallowed Healer gets better with threshold. Vigilant Sentry turns from a vanilla 2/2 into a 3/3 with a commanding battlefield presence. Demoralize, if I run it, requires threshold to get the full effect.
In short, I’m going to want threshold. I’m fairly well set up to get it, what with Patrol Hound, Wild Mongrel, Benevolent Bodyguard and the like, but I don’t want to take chances and Cephalid Broker is complete insanity anyhow… So I’m likely going to run him. Broker = threshold in three turns or your money back. Now swing with 8/8 guys!
Grave Consequences x2
Nothing here. In the absolute worst case scenario, where my opponent has a bomb I can’t deal with (Aboshan is a good example) I could side in Last Rites… But Syncopate would do almost the same thing. Oh well… I didn’t expect much from Black at this prerelease anyhow.
I would play this if it were in two of my four colors, but no such luck. The artifact I always hope to open is Sandstone Deadfall… Great for getting threshold! No such luck this time.
Nothing to see here.
I’ll run the Seafloor Debris…it can cast my Broker, help me get threshold, and give me any color mana in a pinch. With only one first-turn play in the deck, it won’t slow me down too often.
Here’s what I played:
1 Thriss, Nantuko Primus
1 Krosan Beast
1 Giant Warthog
1 Metamorphic Wurm
2 Anurid Barkripper
1 Nantuko Disciple
1 Ironshell Beetle
1 Wild Mongrel
1 Nullmage Advocate
1 Krosan Avenger
1 Benevolent Bodyguard
1 Phantom Nomad
1 Hallowed Healer
1 Patrol Hound
1 Battlewise Aven
1 Vigilant Sentry
1 Cephalid Broker
1 Sudden Strength
1 Rites Of Spring
1 Seafloor Debris
As you can see, I decided to experiment with the full-on threshold deck and run both Barkrippers. You’ll also notice that the deck is four colors, supporting Cephalid Broker and Demoralize off of Rites of Spring, Seafloor Debris and one each of Island and Mountain – working out to about three sources of each splash color. My reasoning is that the deck needs threshold to win, and Cephalid Broker is just amazing anyhow, so running it is a good idea. As for Demoralize, in a predominately G/W on G/W field, you’re going to see a lot of creature stalemates. Demoralize is second only to Overrun amongst uncommons and commons when it comes to breaking those sorts of stalemates. (Amongst rares, Aboshan, Kirtar’s Wrath, and Glory are great breakers as well.)
The main route to victory is pretty clear – if the board gets clogged up, simply drop a Trample creature (Krosan Avenger or Giant Warthog) and pump him with Thriss, Disciple, and Vigilant Sentry. I don’t care how many Hallowed Healers the opposing side has – nothing is going to stop all the damage from a 15/15 Warthog. And even if the guy does have a 10/10 Phantom Nantukos and two Hallowed Healers, I can cast Demoralize and attack for about 500.
Notable omissions: I didn’t play Arcane Teachings because I only wanted one red spell and I wanted it to simply win me the game in the later turns. Arcane Teachings is strong, but it doesn’t do this. I didn’t play Firebolt (also amazing) for the same reason.
In Green, I decided to leave Chatter of the Squirrel out of the deck because I wanted to have the most powerful cards rather than the most consistent early game. I trusted that I could survive the early game and let powerful splash cards like Broker and Demoralize take over. Looking back, I might have wanted the Chatter in there, as it is excellent against early Phantom creatures, and also against fast R/G. Tunneler Wurm, despite being obviously large, is just too expensive. 7CC is pretty much my cap for Limited, and even in an environment such as this, I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of seeing Thriss and a Tunneler Wurm in my opening hand.
In White, Auramancer didn’t make the cut because I had no enchantments (with an Elephant Guide, I would have run it). Trained Pronghorn, while I fine card for early defense, didn’t seem to fit either. Probably the most glaring omission is Shieldmage Advocate, which I sideboarded in pretty much all day – if I had it to do over again, I’d probably play Chatter of the Squirrels and Shieldmage Advocate in place of the two Anurid Barkrippers – they just aren’t that strong, and they’re tough on the mana to boot. Especially when you’re playing four colors.
I think this deck has the potential to take me to Top 8. The field is over 128 people, enough to justify 8 rounds of Swiss. After that, the Top 8 players get that sweeter than sweet taste of heaven known as”product.” How did I do? You’ll just have to read me tomorrow to find that out.
??? at Judgment Prerelease 2002
P.S.: Now, was that Oscar Tan talking like Yoda in YCPT1 #44? I think it was. They’re printing an Oscar Tan card in Onslaught, and it’s a Blue instant called”Stolen Premise.”
Oh well… Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – that’s why I satirized him in the first place. Take care and have a good day.