This week: A little about my Eventide experience, some Noggle-bashing, and the continuation of the white stuff in CCCP.
The Prerelease: Last Great? Or Just Last?
I was hoping for glory, what with this being the Last Great Prerelease and whatnot. I remember going 4-1 in my first Prerelease (Planeshift, for those of you who don’t remember / didn’t read last week), and I like to think that my Sealed Deck skills aren’t wicked horrible, despite my lackluster Limited rating.
What I ended up with was more… interesting than good. Interesting in that “I wonder what pickle brine tastes like?” way.
I had called my good man Q up the week before to see if he wanted to make the drive up to Denver for the Prerelease. He wanted to go, but had made plans earlier in the week to run The Incline early Saturday morning. (The Incline is a former roadbed for a scenic railway that went up the side of Pikes Peak here in Colorado Springs; it is currently the highest set of stairs in the United States and runs a little over a mile start to finish. The kicker is that it also goes up in elevation about 2000 feet.) Seeing as how I was not about to either (a) run two miles or (b) climb up and down 2000 feet of stairs, we reached a compromise. He would push up his start time for his run, and I would wait for him to finish and we would leave a little later than I wanted to, but still in time to make the Prerelease.
His start time was supposed to be 6am. His actual start time was about 6:30. I had wanted to leave no later than 8. Our actual departure time was 9am. We just barely arrived in time to be included in the final Sealed Deck pod – and only because they were willing to add us in, even though the pod had already started.
My Sealed Deck was okay, but I built it wrong. I was obviously Blue and Red (as I had Crackleburr and Wake Thrasher) but I was mesmerized by Duergar Hedge-Mage and became convinced that I needed to splash White to handle all of the pesky deity-enchantments that were likely to see play. Note to future self: You cannot “splash” for an ability that requires two Plains in play. I took the first-round loss in stride and resolved to look for a better build over lunch – the judge had given us a time at the beginning of the round to be back for, which allowed us plenty of time to go over to Long John Silver’s for some much-needed (and debatable) nutrition.
I rebuilt the deck with Black instead of White, and while it still looked sketchy, I figured that this was just a Prerelease and I’m just in it for the fun. We return to the tournament site about fifteen minutes before our reported “start time” and start to play to test out the new configuration…
… when our judge arrives and asks us if we showed up for the last round. Puzzled, we say, “yes, we were here for Round 1.” He means Round 2, the one that was supposed to start in fifteen minutes but actually started 45 minutes ago. When we inform him of the time that he told us to be back by, he thinks we misunderstood him – but it turns out that multiple people had “misheard” him as well and had missed the start of the second round. Worse yet, there appears to be no reparation short of a compensatory pack and a “We’re Sorry,” as we’ve already suffered the Match Loss (rightfully so) and There’s No Goin’ Back.
I drop. At 0-2, I’d rather draft. I somehow end up mono-Red with multiples of Puncture Blast, Flame Jab, and Fire At Will, along with more Noggles than you can shake a… Noggle at. (?) No Hedge-Mages to trip me up or distract me. Fiery Bombardment was the real key in that deck, as it let me use my dying creatures as a secondary means of removal. I did not make it out of the first round, though. It was for the best; I had a house to see that evening.
I also traded for my fourth Bitterblossom and my fourth Tarmogoyf. So even though I went 0-3 on the day, it wasn’t a total wash. I’m still gonna miss those Prereleases. It will be interesting to see what Shards of Alara is going to bring.
In Honor of The Holiday
Thanks to my experiences this past weekend with the Noggles, and my Francophile wife who celebrated Bastille Day on Monday, I have this urge to build a Red-Blue deck. (I’m going to leave the White out for now.) Luckily for me, Crackleburr hasn’t cracked the market yet, and is available for pre-order at $2.00!
Rare Cost Summary:
Crackleburr (4 x $2.00 = $8.00)
Crackleburr is really the only reason to play Blue-Red, in my opinion. Everything else is in there just to complement him. The trick, I think, will be keeping him on the board. As a 2/2, he’s a lot more vulnerable than the 1/4 Tradewind Rider was – although he can still bounce himself in response to deathly damage like Tradewind could (assuming he has buddies and you have mana), and deal three damage on the way out to boot.
The Oona’s Grace combos somewhat with the Bridgebreaker, who gives you a secondary source of lands to pitch to Retrace. It’s also extremely good at ensuring you draw action in the midgame when you have enough lands to reasonably believe you could play whatever you drew. It seems counterintuitive to the Crackleburr plan, but it’s more of a backup plan should you not have a Crackleburr to help control the pet population on the other side of the board.
I had a real hard time finding red Sorceries I wanted to play again thanks to Nucklavee, but you just gotta play with that big galoot, I think. Hence the Browbeat and the sorcery-speed removal cards. I think one Jaws of Stone is probably exactly how many you would want in a deck that could recur it. I do think, though, that it may be better for Rune Snag to be a hard counter, even if it’s Dream Fracture – in which case, the number of Islands should be increased. Actually, not Dream Fracture. Cancel is probably a better choice in that spot.
It’s a casual deck, nothing more. But I still like Crackleburr. He actually might be better in a true casual format where you can access good Red/Blue Izzet stuff like Gelectrode or Izzet Chronarch. The moral of this story? Noggles: cute, but not ridiculously efficient. As, I guess, you’d expect guys with donkey heads to be.
And now, your CCCP Backup Feature. The purpose of the CCCP project is to build a Cube based as much on the “Greatest Hits” of commons as possible, without necessarily excluding amazing uncommons as well. 50 cards in each color, 20% uncommon, 60% creatures.
CCCP – All The White Dudes
(No, I cannot promise I will not use that again in the future.)
After reading the comments section and doing some thinking about the White creatures, I wondered if a Rebel chain might have a place in the CCCP. Does a search chain of Ramosian Sergeant-Lieutenant-Defiant Falcon–Amrou Scout have a place in the CCCP? Aven Riftwatcher and Whipcorder are making the cut, and so will Blade of the Sixth Pride. I found Saltfield Recluse in my third or fourth look-through, who is also a Rebel. And if we do include the Rebel chain, does it merit including Defiant Vanguard as one of the uncommons?
Right now, here are my creature choices. For common creatures, I’m putting in:
(1cc) Deftblade Elite, Icatian Javelineers, Kami of False Hope, Lantern Kami, Martyr of Sands, Soul Warden
(2cc) Benalish Trapper, Blade of the Sixth Pride, Order of Leitbur, Soltari Trooper, Whitemane Lion
(3cc) Aven Riftwatcher, Kitsune Blademaster, Pegasus Charger, Saltfield Recluse
(4cc) Cloudchaser Eagle, Heavy Ballista, Spirit en-Kor, Teroh’s Faithful
(5cc) Lowland Tracker, Loxodon Mystic, Plover Knights
(6cc) Gempalm Avenger, Ivory Giant, Noble Templar
The uncommons are Mother of Runes, Leonin Skyhunter, Whipcorder, White Knight, and Calciderm.
So question number one is: do the Rebels come in? And then question number two is: what White spells do we put in? Here’s a quick run-through to start us:
1cc: Bandage, Condemn, Erase, Festival, Holy Day, Holy Strength, Land Tax, Mana Tithe, Swords to Plowshares, Sunlance, Unified Strike
2cc: Dawn Charm, Disenchant, Humble, Last Breath, Momentary Blink, Purge, Raise the Alarm, Reprisal
3cc: Arrest, Dismantling Blow, Empyrial Armor, Griffin Guide, Kor Chant, Radiant’s Judgment, Waylay, Wing Shards
4cc: Breath of Life, Congregate, Faith’s Fetters, Path of Peace
5cc: Second Thoughts
6cc: Spectral Procession
Thoughts on spells, either on these or what I missed, in the comments section, please!
Until next week…