Yawgmoth’s Whimsy #234 – The Eventide Prerelease

Read Peter Jahn... at StarCityGames.com!
Thursday, July 10th – The Prerelease is coming. It should be less than two days away as you read this. Go. Prereleases are a blast, and the set looks like fun. Here’s some random advice on what to do, and how to win…

The Prerelease is coming. It should be less than two days away as you read this. Go. Prereleases are a blast, and the set looks like fun.

Here’s some random advice on what to do, and how to win.

Bring stuff:

You should bring certain basic supplies to all tournaments — pen, paper, something to use as counters, something to use as tokens, sleeves, etc. Speaking as a judge, I hate to see little pieces of torn paper as tokens: I once had to try to reconstruct the game state after a player sneezed. Use pennies — it’s why the mint makes them, after all.

Also speaking as a judge, I am not a fan of using sideboard cards as tokens or counters. It is not a big problem in this set — the set has no Morph cards — but it is still a bad habit to get into. It is much worse if you are playing unsleeved. Using unsleeved cards as tokens or counters, when your deck is unsleeved, causes lots of potential problems. First, those cards sometimes get shuffled into a deck. More importantly, pulling cards from the sideboard into the game area might allow people to cheat. Often the top of the sideboard includes cards to be sided in — for example, if that top card is a Raking Canopy, players should not be handling it until it is actually sided in.

I also strongly recommend the use of sleeves. Your choice, but it is far easier to change a marked sleeve than to deal with cards that have been marked through play. I remember one venue with really rough tables: after a round or two, lands developed circular scratches, just from being tapped over and over. Actually, what you need at that venue was a playmat.

As for something to keep life totals on — bring paper and pen. Yes, most people can use cards or dice or whatever — but if you and your opponent get into a dispute over life totals, the odds are the judge is going to side with the player that had the proof in writing.

Deck building is going to be a mess.

Physically building Shadowmoor sealed pools was bad enough. I would lay the card pool out in a mana wheel, with the split man cards in between the colors. With Eventide in the mix, even that method won’t work very well: the split colors in Eventide are enemy colored cards. I’m not sure where to include cross color (e.g. {G/B}) cards in the layout.

Your best bet is to hope that the TO has arranged for lots of space.

Seriously, I expect that deckbuilding will not be simple, nor will it be possible to lay out your card pool in any reasonable arrangement. The best bet may be to lay out the single color cards and the Shadowmoor dual-color cards in a mana wheel form, then look over the Eventide dual color cards and see what colors you can dump. Then work from there. Fortunately, a prerelease usually has a pretty long build time. This will be worse when we get to sealed pool events, like GPs or convention events. Fortunately (well, unfortunately, but good in this one single respect), we won’t have any PTQs using sealed decks with Shadowmoor and Eventide cards.

We may have some sealed deck builds at Nationals, during the grinders at least. Hopefully we’ll have plenty of table space there.

You still need Enchantment kill.

The Eventide prerelease will use one tournament pack of Shadowmoor and three boosters of Eventide in each sealed pool. That means 45 Shadowmoor cards and 45 Eventide cards in every pool. Shadowmoor means you will still be facing Steel of the Godhead, as well as all the enemy color enchantments that Eventide brings. Enchantment kill is still worth maindecking.

In a 32 man prerelease pod, the odds say that there will be 13 copies of Steel of the Godhead and 13 copies of Shield of the Oversoul. Now many of those card pools may not have enough UW cards to justify playing the super-Aura, but a few might. In any case, the spoilers are reporting a new Pacifism reprint: 2W, Aura, creature can’t attack or block, gain 1 life during upkeep. Pacifism is always good in Limited, and the new version is a common. With 60 commons in the Eventide set, and 33 Eventide commons in every pool, about every other pool will have one. Play the enchantment kill.

I don’t know if I would maindeck artifact kill (expect the double duty stuff, like Gleeful Sabotage.) Eventide has Scarecrows, but they don’t look all that good. (Except maybe Fang Skulkin — that’s probably worth running if your deck is either fast or Black. And Shell Skulkin if your deck is Blue.)

Take care of yourself.

Arrive at the venue early — or at least on time. After having eaten breakfast. The Pre-release can be a long day — take it easy. Get food and water.

Bath. Please! July is mid-summer (at least on this half of the globe). That means heat. The venues are likely to be warm. Wear deodorant — and bring more if necessary. Make an impression with your play skills — not your stench.

Thank you.

Get to bed at a semi-reasonable time the night before (or two nights before, if you are planning on playing in a midnight flight.) Having sleep is good. If not, you may doze off and wake up to find that you are being attacked! (Yes, that’s a GP: Indi reference.)

But please — don’t stink. Thank you.

Mana isn’t quite as easy as it looks.

Like Shadowmoor, Eventide is full of split mana costs. That does not mean you can splash everything under the sun.

Well, you can, but I think you will lose. I am certainly cleaning up in Shadowmoor drafts and sealed by playing tight, aggressive decks with very solid mana, and running over people with great cards and bad mana.

Let’s assume that you have opened a pool containing double Puncture Bolt (1R), Biting Tether (4U), Consign to Dream (2U), Corrupt (5B), Oona, Queen of the Fae (3{U/B}{U/B}{U/B}), Unmake ({W/B}{W/B}{W/B}) and Demigod of Revenge ({R/B}{R/B}{R/B}{R/B}{R/B}.) Can you make that all work? It’s base Black, with a Red and Blue splash, right?

Maybe. Let’s assume you are playing 17 lands, with a mix of ten Swamps, four Mountains, and three Islands. You have no Scuttlemutt or other mana fixers. Still, this looks pretty good.

Assuming you are on the play, the odds say you should be able to reliably play Puncture Bolt on turn 4. (10% of your deck is Mountains — you will have drawn ten cards by turn 4, assuming seven cards in your opening hand.)

You should be able to play Biting Tether by turn 6, on average — in other words, about the time you will hit your fifth land drop. So far, so good. The same is true of Unmake — you should have the mana about turn 6.

On the other hand, if you can play Demigod of Revenge before turn 9 or so, you got lucky. Likewise, in any given game, Corrupt is only going to hit for four or five damage.

If, on the other hand, you kill the Blue splash, cut the Biting Tether and play 13 Swamps, 5 Mountains, then you can reliably cast Demigod of Revenge while it still matters, and Corrupt is going to do hit harder.

Alternatively, you could try what some of my opponents seem to do, and splash White for a Witch and a Pacifism, by cutting two Swamps for a pair of Plains (and maybe going to 17 lands as well.) Those people tend to end games with “gg — but if I had another Swamp Demigod would have crushed you.” They never realize that with eight Swamps and three Mountains, they are never going to cast that Demigod. On average, they will draw that fifth on-color land some four turns after any reasonable deck will have killed them. (That’s turn 11, for those of you keeping scoring at home.)

Banishing Knack can be broken.

Banishing Knack is not just a Boomerang reprint. It gives target creature “{T}, Return target non-land permanent to its owner’s hand” until end of turn. This can be pretty damn good with an untap creature. Pili-Pala and this can basically bounce the opponent’s whole team. I’m just glad it can’t hit lands, or it would be “Upheaval you!”

The above Mana Math is not quite correct.

In my example, I did not take into account the fact that you may well be discarding a lot of your land in this format. Wizards has introduced a new Mechanic called Retrace. The wording for Retrace (You may play this card from your graveyard by discarding a land card in addition to paying its other costs.) Retrace spells include small burn spell, a token producer, and a discard spell. These cards are not removed from the game when you Retrace them — meaning that you can keep burning or forcing discards as long as you keep drawing lands. Retrace seems like yet another reason to play 18 lands in this format — and another reason to be quite happy if you open a Faerie Macabre.


Seriously — read the fine cards. Wizards has spent a lot of time and effort to bring you this new set, the least you can do is read them. Don’t be embarrassed — if you don’t know what a card does, read it. It is a prerelease, after all — everyone is going to be reading their opponent’s cards. Don’t assume you know what it does — and certainly don’t assume your opponent knows what he is doing.

For example, the new set has — Surprise! — a Terror reprint. 1B — destroy target creature, yada yada yada. However, this version is a sorcery, not an instant (but someone will try to play it in response to an Aura at the prerelease, I guarantee it.) It also destroys non-Green, not non-Black creatures, and the creatures can be regenerated.

At least, that’s what the spoilers said. The spoilers are often wrong. Don’t rely on your memory of them — RTFC!

Call a Judge.

If you are uncertain of how a card works, call a judge. Please.

As judges, we will spend somewhere between 10 and 16 hours on our feet, numbering tables, distributing product, pushing in chairs, and picking up trash. None of that is any fun. The one fun part of the job is answering questions. It’s why we are there — and probably our first chance to actually see and handle the cards. We like answering questions — so call us when you get one.

Have fun!

Look, it’s a prerelease. Enjoy. Prereleases are not highly competitive — they are a chance for everyone to get their hands on new cards and have some fun. If you have never tried tournament Magic before, this is a great first experience. If you have played tournaments, then kick back and relax at this one.

Is there enough removal?

I don’t have a complete spoiler, or even one that is close to complete, yet. I don’t know what I am missing. However, it does look like Eventide is a bit sparse on cards that kill big creatures. This was also the case with Shadowmoor — only Gloomlance could kill a fattie. Some Auras can slow them down (e.g. Curse of Chains), but nothing flat out kills them.

It looks like the same might be true of Eventide. Once again, Black has a single common removal spell; Soul Reap. Soul Reap is more splashable than Gloomlance, but cannot hit Green creatures. The only other methods of neutralizing fatties are removal Auras, like the new Pacifism.

Actually, the set does have one mechanic which does cut fatties down to size: Wither. Wither may be a fairly important deckbuilding consideration — but I don’t know for sure. It depends on whether the cards I haven’t seen are a bunch of removal, a bunch of trash, or some solid tempo cards. Fatties are less relevant if your deck full of fast weenies kills the turn before Loamdragger Giant can resolve.

Green appears to be full of it once again.

Without more of the spoiler, I can’t really see how good some cards will be, beyond the obvious. (Obvious: the burn spells, the removal, the solid bounce spells, the evasive creatures, etc.) I can’t even tell whether a 2/2 for two will be good in this format, or simply get chumped by 3/3s all day.

What I can say is that Green got some bizarre stuff. It has yet more bad lifegain (Phosphorescent Feast — 3GG — Sorcery — reveal any number of cards from your hand, gain life equal to the number of Green mana symbols revealed). Monstrous Growth (+4/+4 at sorcery speed) was reprinted (but the new and improved version has Retrace, so it might be playable. Barely).

Finally, Green has Helix Pinnacle.

Helix Pinnacle
Enchantment (Rare)
{X}: Put X tower counters on Helix Pinnacle.
At the beginning of your upkeep, if there are 100 or more tower counters on Helix Pinnacle, you win the game.

What can I say? Even in limited, can you ever imagine having 101 mana to spend — and having nothing better to do with it — even over a whole game of Magic. On the other hand, I can see this coupling nicely with an infinite mana engine. I know of a few — but they all involve either multiple rares, cards from outside the block, or eight card combinations. Not going to happen.

If I’m ranting about Green cards, it’s time to quit. See you at the prerelease.