*Resists temptation to run and hide*
(Why will become apparent shortly.)
Legions Prerelease, eh? It’ll be fun times, no doubt! But how – how to avoid being whupped upside the head by twelve year-olds with better Sealed decks than you?
Well, I know how I’m gonna do it – I’m judging all four pre-planned flights of our local gathering o’ Magicers. There will be no trampling of blisterguy by a vicious, out of control, psychotic, fearsome, rampaging, banding, sealed deck that’s dragging some hapless twelve-year-old along behind it.
(This is also known as”sitting on my rating.”)
(Everything I learned about sitting on my rating, I learned from Digby Carter, who turned up to perhaps around 80 percent of the FNMs held in our area last year, but played in only one of them…)
And while you too could volunteer to judge at your local event, there’s only so many judges an event can stand before it starts to look like the prerelease has double-booked its venue with a zebra convention. Maybe you could just go along well prepared instead.
If you’re not a seasoned Sealed deck veteran, there are one or two well-written articles you should read first. And by”well written,” I mean totally sweet… No wait, no I don’t, I mean”not written by me.” Which ones are they? I don’t know, my limited skillz come naturally, I don’t need no steenkin strategy pages.
(This is not entirely true; when I started playing some five or six million years ago, I scoured the stone tablets of the dojo for information on Limited play, and even now I can’t get enough of Nick Eisel and Ken Krouner Limited analysis articles.)
(The Ferrett is a good man, he’ll point you in the right direction of the magic Sealed deck foundations.)
(See? What a nice guy he is.)
No, this here is the Prerelease Survival Guide that I do every time a set is due to be released. This be a list o’ tips, tricks, and limited bricks that will no doubt do their darnedest to ruin your day.
A good place to start I think, would be with the tricks, which are usually embodied in the cards known as”instant spells.” So what are the instant spells in Legions that you should be worried about?
*Sweat appears on forehead*
*Inserts index finger into collar and pulls it to the right while moving head to the left*
*Gulps/swallows, causing a cartoonish lump to rise up the front of throat*
(Scrape… scrape… scrape…)
Yeah, well, there are no instant spells in Legions. Kinda like Portal, but without the sorceries. Yeah.
So that means, for those of you not keeping track at home, that Legions is almost exactly 100 percent creature spells. But fear not! I’m sure I can find something you have to be frightened about. Seriously, one of the reasons I opted to not play in one of the flights at my local prerelease tournament was that the idea of keeping track of half a million possible morph tricks gave me the willies! That, and I’m sitting on my rating…
So I’ll do my best now to make sure you go in without fear in your hearts, and plenty of fire in your pants.
(But this does not mean a feisty meal of Mexican or Indian the night before, oh no.)
(Nobody wants that kind of”fire” in their pants.)
Don’t get me wrong with that comparing Legions with Portal thing. From what I can see of it so far, because this is one of the slowest-breaking spoilers of all time, this could be one of the trickiest sets since Tricky McTricksteroo set the world’s trickiest world record back in ’62. But of course by the time you read this, the spoiler could very well be near to, if not complete. In fact, I’m hoping it will be near to, if not complete by the end of this prerelease survival guide, otherwise it’ll be a very sorry prerelease survival guide indeed.
Morphs. Until now, you’ve had to keep track of”X” of them, and most of the time you were really only worried about”Y” of them. This weekend, there are now”Z” different morphs that could…
Ok, okay. I’ll do it properly!
Morphs. Until now, you’ve had to keep track of forty-six of them – and most of the time you were really only worried about twenty of them or so. This weekend, there are now different morphs that could present themselves. Scary, no?
Well, no. There are 110 different commons in Onslaught, and each player can only have thirty-two of them. With Legions and its 145 cards, thirteen of its fifty-five commons (and eight of its uncommons) are morphs. Basically, it somehow works out that you’re more likely to see morphs from Legions than you are morphs from Onslaught.
K? But what does that mean?
With Onslaught, you often chose not to block that incoming morph on turn 3, because it could turn out to be a Snarling Undorak, a Battering Craghorn, or a Daru Lancer, all of which could take down your guy at a loss of some mana and nought much else. In Legions, there is but one guy in amongst the commons who can punish you like that.
If they remember to give it first strike, that is.
Skirk Marauder can do that, too – but for the same investment in white, the guy ends up with flying and no doubt you’d rather hold off on the Marauder for a better target anyway. So the lesson here is block that morph on turn 3.
The Sanctifier can pull the”Gravel Slinger” trick – which is to put two damage on the stack, and then morph into something with a toughness greater than two. I like that these two guys exist; anything that helps prevent random death by Centaur Glade/Improvised Armor/Lightning Rift is a good thing.
Don’t blink ladies and gents, or you’ll miss the token”Giant Growth” effect! While this guy can technically also do the turn 3 morph ownage thing, it’s not really very ownage-ish if all they have left is a 1/1. Still, it’s better to have him pointed out than not, I figure.
Um, play this guy if you are playing blue. His”block, lets be havin’ some combat, and flip-whoops, where did I go?” trick will come in very handy for gaining some late-game card economy. Astute readers may also note that he too can try on the turn 3 morph ownage shoes – but quite frankly, it’s not a particularly good tempo play if the guy ends up back in your hand.
If you happen to be playing against someone who is playing blue, then know ye that they could do this if they so desired.
And now, for something completely different: Fliers.
Creature – Bird Cleric
T: Prevent the next 2 damage that would be dealt to target creature or player this turn.
Creature – Bird Soldier
Creature – Bird
(I don’t count Aven Envoy, and neither should you…)
There are many more common flyers in this set than there were in Onslaught, so don’t be lured into the idea that the skies are safe this weekend. Here’s a handy card to help you:
Slivers. I’m thinking you should play them if you have them, especially if it’s rare, because otherwise you may get elbowed by this one:
Creature – Sliver
Slivers can’t be blocked except by Slivers.
The Quick Sliver might also surprise you, hopefully only on its own. But if the opponent has left an awful lot of mana open and they’re trying to stifle a giggle, then they may well be about to drop two or three slivers on your incoming attackers or something.
You may have noticed that I included Shifting Sliver’s rarity up there somewhat, but have left the other cards without. I figure, and quite rightly too, that the common cards are the most important ones here, as they’re the ones you’ll see the most. When I see fit to include a non-common card, I’ll include its rarity to indicate that it is in fact, not a common.
Sound good? I thought so. Moving right along…
Creature – Zombie Mutant
7B: Target creature gets -3/-3 until end of turn.
Two common reasons you hope to open a Shock – especially the Smokespew Invoker, who I feel will end stalemates quite nicely for a plain, old common. He doesn’t like Sparksmith much though, but you should see a great deal less in the way of Sparksmiths than you’re used to. So it’s really all good for the Invoker.
Creature – Beast
First strike, haste
If they have Mountains and you’re doing combat math, always add four to the total you think they can attack you with.
Wellwisher is annoying, yes. But this guy is better than annoying – he’s effective.
Creature – Zombie
Amplify 1 (As this card comes into play, put a +1/+1 counter on it for each Zombie card you reveal in your hand.)
Whenever Embalmed Brawler attacks or blocks, you lose 1 life for each +1/+1 counter on it.
Three guys that could well be larger than you expected, which is probably a bad thing for you. Each one is different in their own way: The Brawler is probably the most painful for it’s owner to bear – but unlike Wretched Anurid, you get to chose to have it stop hurting you.
(Hey, Brawler. You sit over here, by my library, rrriiight out of the way. Wouldn’t want you accidentally stumbling into combat now, would we?)
*Opponent begs to differ!*
*Brawler’s controller is not taking opinions at this time.*
The good news for both defender and attacker, because he hurts you if you block with him too, is that I doubt the Brawler will ever be much larger than a 4/4.
(By the way, it’s probably a touch foolish to make it a 5/5, unless you really think you can afford to.)
The Deacon and the Outrider are the kind of guys who benefit from a bit o’ untappin’ and droppin’ o’ beasts ‘n’ clerics, and swinging it on in like a large heavy thing on a rope that has just been pushed by something else, making it swing lots. Um, yeah..
What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger, right? Maybe it is true, maybe it is. But it’s also quite a bit true that your opponent may just burn you out big time with this guy. A Voidmage Apprentice will not help you here, sonny Jim.
And why not a few nasty-ish uncommons to round it out? No, No! I hear you cry, no more with the cards that will whup me! But fear not! You could open some of them for yourself.
Creature – Bird Soldier
Amplify 1 (As this card comes into play, put a +1/+1 counter on it for each Bird and/or Soldier card you reveal in your hand.)
Why do I get the feeling that this is too easily a 4/4 flyer for 5 mana?
Creature – Zombie Wizard
1B, T, Sacrifice a creature: Search your library for a Zombie card and a swamp card, reveal them, and put them into your hand. Then shuffle your library.
I wonder what it feels like to sacrifice a creature once combat damage has been assigned – but before it is dealt, and go and fetch a Nantuko Husk? Or maybe an Anurid Murkdiver? Or how about both of them in quick succession?!? I’m sure it’s just gravy!
I’m sure that this won’t be annoying at all for people. If you play two zombies in a turn, it’s a free Infest! Yummy.
Creature – Beast
Beasts can’t block.
Oh no, my beasts can’t block. Oh no, your beasts can’t block!
Creature – Goblin Mutant
T: Goblin Dynamo deals 1 damage to target creature or player.
XR, T, Sacrifice Goblin Dynamo: Goblin Dynamo deals X damage to target creature or player.
And finally, while I’m a little bothered about how large this goblin is – in fact what is he, a sumo goblin? – I’m a lot bothered about what he does.
(Looks at clock.)
Man, I should be in bed. So I had better sum it up, like a calculator. Albeit a hairy one.
Legions: Many, many creatures, quite a few of them flyers, and you should probably block most of the morphs.
Apart from that, good luck – and most importantly, have fun!
(Or should that be,”most importantly, send me money!”? I’m not sure, I’ll think about while I’m sleeping…)
(wait for it…)