The Online Outlook #13 — I Hate Gift of Granite

Read Craig Stevenson every Monday... at StarCityGames.com!
It’s Future Sight Release Week on Magic Online, which means only one thing… Release Week Premier Events! For my sins, I’ve entered three of these bad boys. My win record? Not so hot. Today’s Online Outlook takes a look at my three Sealed cardpools, reveals my builds (and records), and asks you folk if you could do any better…

Whenever new cards enter the Limited cardpool, I die a little inside

I’m just like other players, of course. I love getting the New Toys. I pore over spoilers until my eye twitches like an Everquest Junkie, and I read everything that this site (obv) and others have to offer.

The thing is, when the new cards hit the streets, I suck.

I don’t play much Limited in real life. Leeds hardly has a competitive Draft scene. There’s no local game store for me to quench my thirst. And while Magic Online is an absolute gem for me, allowing me to draft in my underwear, I feel somewhat behind the curve when the new set appears a month or so after the paper release.

So I buy my Release Packs just like any other random schmoe, and I roll into the 2x Premier Event room with a hopeful smile and an inflated rating… and I watch the numbers, and my product, dwindle before my eyes.

As of the time of writing, I’ve entered three Future Sight Release Premier Events: one 4x and two 2x. In total, I’ve one match win that didn’t come from opponent time-out. 1-2, 1-2, 0-2. It pains me.

Today, I’m gonna share my three cardpools, and my three decks. I’m looking for help, and advice. I’ll also share some of the things I’ve learnt during my eight matches (well, seven if you don’t count the time-out). It won’t be much, but it’s a start. And hopefully, with a little more knowledge under our belts, we’ll improve.

And maybe, just maybe, my next MTGO Payment won’t feel as if it’s been pissed into the wind.

Cardpool 1 – 4x Premier Event

Release Cardpool 1
Craig Stevenson
Test deck on 06-10-2007
Time Spiral Limited
Magic Card Back

Going into the tournament, I wanted to open good rares (of course), but I also wanted good Green cards. And preferably a Sprout Swarm or two. I got the Green, I’m sure you’ll agree… some nice stuff here. No Sprout Swarm, sadly, but whatcha gonna do?

I also wanted to play a two-color deck. In a PTQ-style pool, with two boosters, I’m not adverse to splashing a third (and sometimes a fourth), but with an extra booster a two-color build should be more than possible.

In the end, I plumped with Green and Black, in order to maximize the Thelon synergy, and use the possible bomb Nihilith.

Here’s what I ran:

Here’s what I liked:

The Thallid Package
Sporesower, Sporoloth, Deathspore, Shell-Dweller… and the daddy Thelon of Havenwood. Couple this with a Primal Forcemage and Herd Gnarr, and I have a slow, yet inevitable, army.

Evasive Beaters
Nihilith, Corpulent Corpse, Trespasser Il-Vec, Deepcavern Imp, and even Street Wraith. Should a stall occur, I’m golden.

Good Early Beats
Double Nessian Corsair, Gathan Raiders, and Sporesower Thallid. Enough early muscle to keep most things at bay.

A Decent Madness Sub-theme
Dark Withering and two Grave Scrabblers. Removal and utility.

To be honest, I thought this deck was nice. It’s certainly the most synergistic of the three I’ll post today. While the removal may be limited, the guys are fine, and there’s a good flyer-defence-cum-game-winner in Squall Line.

Nice curve, evasive beats, some removal, heavy hitters… I’ve no idea what went wrong.

I lost my first match 2-1, when my opponent overpowered me with Green monsters. Death Rattle sat useless in my hand, as my opponent burnt out every single creature I played. This lesson, I feel, is very important in the Future Sight Sealed arena, especially the format of one tourney pack and three FS boosters.

Removal is EVERYWHERE.

Really. You’ll make a guy, and it WILL get removed. The winner will be the one who keeps on removing things.

Match 2 was a win for me. Yay for random time-outs!

Match 3 saw me fall to a Red/White deck that packed Desolation Giant. I took the second game by topdecking better after the man-Wrath, but the third (in which Desi didn’t show) saw me fall to a Riddle of Lightning for five when I thought I’d stabilized.

I didn’t see Nihilith. Thelon did squat. The Grave Scrabblers were rubbish, as I’d never keep a madness enabler around for long enough. I was even blown out by Gift of Granite, as an unfair trade of two of my fellas for his Imperiosaur turned into a rout. Gift of Granite is rubbish, surely?

So what would YOU do? Did I build it wrong? Come to the forums and help!

Cardpool 2 – 2x Premier Event

Release Cardpool 2
Craig Stevenson
Test deck on 06-10-2007
Time Spiral Limited

Another Nihilith? Another Thelon? Man, is this a signal from the heavens?

So what can I say about this pool? Aside from the "yay, I pulled a Summoner’s Pact and a Magus of the Moon!"

The Red looks good. Sulfurous Blast is excellent. Riddle of Lightning, Ghostfire, Fatal Attraction… plus Serrated Arrows! Seems nice. But what to pair with it…

I so wanted to run Green. But with those two Judge Unworthy, how could I turn away from White? I missed removal in the last deck. Not this time.

Here’s what I ran:

Here’s what I liked:

The Removal
Unlike the previous deck, this one had a little fight in it. To start, there was the wonderful Judge Unworthy. While better in something like a Green deck (for the fatties), or a deck packed with suspend spells (like Blue/Red – smash your guy for seven via a revealed Errant Ephemeron), there were still some high-mana cards for me to off 5/5s and the like. Especially with blocking in the mix. Plus a sweeper in Sulfurous Blast, and a multi-use star like Serrated Arrows… things looked good.

The Sliver Package
While Bonesplitter and Watcher are great, and Quilled can wreck combat, I was unsure about the Homing Slivers. While their bodies weren’t up to much, the Sliver-cycling did prove effective. And they can swell in size, just like all the rest. Lymph Sliver, on the other hand, was ace.

And here’s something I didn’t like:

The Overall Guy Quality
I forced the two-color thing here, I think. While the Homing Slivers were okay with friends, a three-mana 2/2 doesn’t sit well with three-mana 3/3s, especially when all the Red removal takes out x/2s with no bother at all. Blade of the Sixth Pride dies to EVERYTHING, and Benalish Cavalry ain’t what he used to be.

I pulled 1-2 with this deck. The first match saw me lose, when in desperation I Judge Unworthy’d a troublesome Imperiosaur that had me dead on the attack.

Gift of Granite saved it’s bacon. And I scryed to my Duskrider Peregrine too. Sickener.

Seriously, is this card playable? It seems to wreck me every time I see it.

I won the second match with some judicious Forecasting from Spirit En-Dal. I like that guy. I also Sliver-cycled for my Quilled Sliver to quagmire the ground. The third match was another loss, to a guy with a sub-1600 ranking, who made Green guys and smashed face over and over. Happens.

Another pool, another loss. What went wrong?

Cardpool 3 – 2x Premier Event

Release Cardpool 3
Craig Stevenson
Test deck on 06-10-2007
Time Spiral Limited

Another Nihilith? I hope this guy gets some Constructed lovin’, because I’ve almost got my playset.

This cardpool seemed the weakest of the three, and I could eliminate colors early. I also got my first Sprout Swarm, and hoped I could run the Green for it. But look at the Red! Jaya Ballard! Pact of the Titan! And look at the Blue! Magus of the Future! Draining Whelk! How could I turn them down?

Here’s what I ran:

It was a shame to cut off the Green, but the tempo-beats offered by this build seemed far more fun.

Here’s what I liked:

With lost of two- and three-drops, and Coal Stoker plus numerous morphs, all backed up by decent cheap removal… I could get behind this. Sure, I lacked decent bounce, but you can’t have everything. And Pact of the Titan looks excellent.

Late-game Bombs
Draining Whelk. Magus of the Future. Jaya Ballard, Task Mage. Boldwyr Intimidator. All capable of winning games on their lonesome.

However, there was the usual fly in the ointment:

Bad Mid-range Guys
It seemed that this build relied on Cal Stoker to power out quick beef, in order to go toe-to-toe with the fatter Green decks. Would this prove to be my downfall?

Of curse it would.




Match 1… to be honest, I can’t recall. It was against an 1800+ player, and after taking the first game with a timely Pact of the Titan, I lost in three.

Match 2 is what killed me.

We slung spells and traded removal in the first game, and things were looking alright. Two guys apiece, removal in hand, Pact of the Titan looming. Then my opponent made Akroma’s Memorial.

I lost to three 2/2 Akromas that had protection from my team.

Game 2 went better. I had a morphed Voidmage Prodigy with mana up, and the guy overlap, and removal for his soon-to-appear Keldon Halberdier. It came it to play to equalize the board, and I killed it with a Flowstone Embrace.

Or I thought I did.

One White.

Gift of Granite.

Okay, really seriously this time. Is this card any good? Surely it’s complete ass-hat? Man, what a beating.

I stared at the screen, and clicked okay. It resolved, and his guy lived. Then I realised I could’ve countered it with the bloody morphed Voidmage!

If I wasn’t tilting at that point, this misplay sent me over the edge.

The ground was now stabilized, and I clung on for dear life. I countered a 3/3 flyer that threatened to block my evasive Ironclaw Buzzardiers (what a clock), and then down came the Akroma’s Memorial. Without a doubt, if I’d countered the Gift of Granite I would’ve taken that game.

1-2, 1-2, 0-2. Out of product, out of luck, and really, really pissed off.

I’ve taken a break for a day or two, and will likely now move onto drafting. I need practice for the Nationals, and I must get over the hump of "being rubbish at the new format" if I hope to take this year’s crown. First pick commons from Future Sight, are largely dependant on color going in, of course, but Gathan Raiders is always an option. And I wanna take, and finally play with, a Sprout Swarm (if I’m in Green).

And if there’s no pick for me come the third booster? I’m hate-drafting the Gift of Granite. Stupid bloody card.

Until next time, remember – you can’t stop the signal

Craig Stevenson
Scouseboy on MTGO
Mail us at https://sales.starcitygames.com/contactus/contactform.php?emailid=2

Ungrateful Dead

This week, Tim Tyler (corporate drone and would-be Rock Star) is called into the boss’s office in order to explain theft of office supplies. I won’t say any more, as I don’t want to spoil things, but I will say this… Rock Tuba.

Come read!