Stuart's MTG Page, or more accurately entitled, "Why am I so bad at sealed deck tournaments?" - Read on to see the painful mistakes or just plain bad luck I have....

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Ravnica Pre-Release

 

Date: September 24th

Location: Royal National Hotel

Event: Ravinca Pre release

Type: Ravnica Sealed Booster Draft. Sealed Deck and three boosters.

Attending: [4] Me, Chris, Keith, Dave H

 

The set through the spoiler lists such as that found at MtgNews proved to be a nice heads up, but it really is a double edged sword as you think you will pick certain cards from the set based on the guild colours. Probably the best bit of information was to make sure that the two colour decks you played in the tournaments and booster side drafts where aligned with the 4 guilds. Three colours where possible as long as you combined guilds with like colours, eg Black/Blue (Dimir) and Green/Black (Golgari) gives you three colours, as would White/Green (Conclave) and White/Red (Boros). And I later found that some people played 4 colours due to things like the common lands and guild artefacts.

The Tournament was back at the usual Hotel not far from Russel Square, and we sensibly used the lift this time as we made our way into the packed hall full of the kind of people that make Magic the kind of thing you dont tell your work mates you play. Unless you work in a comic shop, which means most of your work people were probably there already, and so much respect to you brother.

Anyhoo, after queuing up, we catch our flight (5 for those who want numerical statistic's) and grab a seat. Dave has'nt played magic in ages, let alone know any of the recent cards and probably rule changes come to think of it, and he luckily sat a few seats away from me so I could give him a few helpful hints - 16 to 18 land, 2 colours, plenty of creatures, 40 cards etc. Not that he listened much, and when I 'helped' him later I lost him a game - oopsie...

So, the first thing is that there are three boosters along with the tournament deck, all still sealed. Our judge told us that the land from the decks would be collected later, and to keep foils etc. Sadly I didn't get me a fat bloke, but I did get a geeky looking normal bloke instead. I resisted temptation to check through the cards, and instead started colour sorting them straight away, and ticking them from the list provided. 11 piles (5 for colours, 4 for guild colours, 1 land, and 1 artefact) where quickly piled up, but even before I had finished tearing through the last booster I could tell that Boros where coming up trumps over the Dimir that I would favour as a guild from Ravnica if I had a choice.

- the deck

I went through the rest of the cards, Green, Blue, Black and the asscoiated guilds, and it was very hard to cull - not any specific cards (or bombs) that would make you play a colour, but just enough to make you think twice about keeping them. The set strength overall is very powerful, commons that should be uncommons, and guild cards that are, well, simply supurb. I was also treated to a few of the 'official' preview cards including the 3/3 wolf, and the green 2/5 defender that allows you to draw a card as it comes into play.

As slowly as possible while trying to keep an eye on the clock, I binned colour by colour. There where a few green cards that I wanted to keep for land acceleration purposes (although none that compare to a Kodama's Reach from Champions) and progressed to the red and white cards. Blimey they where good. Every Boros card went in the 'final deck' pile, and the some nice red and white cards from the colours all went in the pile too. I weighed up the common lands that (eventually) tap for red and white mana, but dismissed it as I thought it would slow things down.

The green cards I was going to splash I gave up as I had no way to pay for them - I got none of the guild artefacts, or special lands that gave green, and so I continued to whittle down the pile of cards I had to 40.

My final deck consisted of the following ways that I thought were its strength's:

Quickness - The main benefit I think - I had only one card with 5 mana (the excellent soldier Agrus) and everything else was 4 mana and under.

Spells - A top notch sellection of cards working on the Radiance mechanic - Rally the Righteous, and Incite Hysteria, as well as direct damage through creature enchantments - Galvanic Arc, a pacifism type card that works on all permanents - Faiths Fetters, and a (weaker, but possible to play for free) swords to plowshares in the form of Devouring Light.

Creatures - The afore mentioned Agrus (when he attacks he gives +2/+0 to red creatures, and +0/+2 to white) would help bolster my Boros based army by giving himself and alot of others +2/+2, as well as very quick Skyknight Legionnaire, the Thundersong Trumpter to stop an attacker or blocker and the Boros Guildmage to give other creatures Haste or First Strike.

Land - 16

Creatures - 13

My Card of the day

9 x Mountain
7 x Plains

R: War Torch Goblin
R: Torpid Moloch
R: Sparksmith Apprentice x 3
W: Benevolent Ancestor
W: Nightguard Patrol x 2
R or W: Boros Guildmage*
R/W: Thundersong Trumpter
R/W: Flame Kin Zealot*
R/W: Skyknight Legionnare
R/W: Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran**

Spells - 11

R: Seismic Spike
R: Instill Furor*
R: Galvanic Arc x 2
R: Incite Hysteria
W: Faiths Fetters
W: Boros Fury Shield
W: Conclaves Bleesing
R/W: Rally the Righteous
Art: Peregrine Mask*

Deck Stats: 40 Cards
Colours: Red/White
Breakdown: **Rare: 1, *Uncommon: 4, Common: 19. Yep, the commons are that good....

- the games

Game One

Played against an opponent playing White and Green, who had some green fatties as well as the same Vigalance white creatures I had, and a few more besides. The first game went quite quickly, it seemed his major card was an enchantment that allowed you to tap a creature to tap an opponents creature - potentially very lethal in Limited. Lucky for me, I had Faiths Fetters, and before he even used it, I had pacified it. My creature tempo went well, quick creatures out, and aggressive attacking, as well as using the Sparksmiths to pop 1 toughness creatures rather than the player. Other damage was done via Galvanic Arc, and the Flame Kins ability to Haste and boost creatures. I ended the first game with 17 life.

The second game went much the same way - I even commented that we both seemed to have drawn the same cards. One of his soldiers that gave +0/+1 to all other creatures put some of his creatures out of my way to kill them, and so I held a Sparksmith in my hand until I drew another - then put both down to kill his soldier. Again he dropped the enchantment, again I Faiths Fetter'd it. I carried on attacking and clearing creatures in my path, did the damage in 2's and 4's to win, this time with 22 life left.

Result: Won 2-0

Game Two

Played an American bloke who Dave H played in the first round (and had lost to), playing Black/Green/White. He had come here on holiday and decided to try a UK pre release while he was in the area. He was a good player, and I started to get a bit jumpy, and slowed down to make sure I played ok and not try and make any mistakes. We sniped at each other where we could, and my Trumpter held up the big 5/5 trampler as we gathered armies. I was holding one part of my Radiance Combo, Incite Hysteria, and then drew the Rally the Righteousness. Forced his green creatures to not block, Rallied the rest, and attacked on mass with Agrus. With 13 life left, and 6 creatures attacking with +4/+0 or +2, he conceded.

Game two again went my way, I had a nice tempo going, and I had him to 10 life while I was still on 18, when he tapped out to Convoke the 5/5 trampler back into play. No worries I think, I have the Devouring Light ready to remove it from the game when he attacks next turn, and so attack on my turn.

....Running all my 2/1 first strikers into a 5/5 trampler. I make a stupid noise and a "Oh!", as I realise what a stupid mistake I have made. My opponent, looks at me and with a puzzled expression slides the trampler to block the best of the smaller creatures I have.

I then see that the card can remove a blocker as well as an attacker. So I call a time out, and explain exactly the stupid mistake I made, and say that I will not use the card as I can remove his trampler, and to me that would be an unfair play. His puzzled look is still there and he asks simply, "why?". I cant really explain it to myself, and later explaining it to my mates it doesnt make sense, but I just didnt want to win that way. It looked like I made a schoolboy error on purpose to lull a creature I wanted to kill into a position that I could remove it, and that to me was wrong.

So I let my creature die. My opponent tells me "...you guys play weird - no one back home would do anything like that." And on his turn, he does what he was going to do, attack with his creature so that I can remove it. So, all's well that ends well kind of. We carry on, and he wins through and kills me, taking the second game to level the match.

The third game goes very evenly, and he starts to pull ahead in the damage race, and a tiny part of me is shouting 'muppet' at my decession last game. He plays another Convoke spell tapping much of his creatures, and I can get a bunch of mine through along with the Zealot and take him down by 10 life to 6. When he attacks next turn, I chump block, and then swing in return for 5 - I just could not do the last 1 point of damage. He passes on his next go as he cannot get past the last of my creatures including the crocodile, and I attack with half my creatures incase he has something up his sleeve. He has nothing, and I win.

An excellent game, a nice bloke, and when he said "..I am glad you won." I was too :p

Result: Won 2-1

Game Three

I was getting nervous now. Two for two, and going to be playing another player that would have the same wins as I currently did. I knew at this point I had a good deck, also that other than a few silly (but non fatal) mistakes, I was playing well and making some good play choices. Obviously this meant my opponent either had a good deck, was a good player, or both, and so it was time to find out.

Time is a funny word here, as I nearly lost the first game as we went outside and missed the call for the third game. I sat down, apologized for being late, and my opponent looked at me and called a judge - who thankfully said "..another minute and you would have lost the game."

A good start, and not one that endeared me to my opponent. He played Green/White with Saproling token based creatures, and we quickly built creatures, with him hitting me for a few rounds gaining a life total advantage. Then my cards fell into place, I pulled my decks combo off and Radianced my creatures whilst preventing his from blocking and attacked on mass. Argos giving his bonus, plus assualts from the air, and sacking 3 land to enable my 3/2 crock to attack as well as Rally meant his 18 life went down the tube, and with a "..thats why you are on the top table." he swept up his cards.

I calmed down massively, lost my nervousness, and we settled into game two. The game started off well for him, and I couldnt get things together. His deck started churning out tokens at an alarming rate through a combo of an enchanted creature being returned to the game creating more tokens, and my creatures could chump block and take them out to a point, but not quick enough. Once his mana was sorted enough to do this twice a turn, he got to 14 off tokens, and even if I drew Faiths Fetters to stop the combo, it was too late. I conceeded to get the last game in quickly.

Game Three went very quickly. Turn one Goblin, turn two Boros, turn three Skyknight,then Galvanic Arc to remove one of his creatures, and aggressive tempo was mine to take. I ended the game with 22 life and a few minutes to spare before time was called.

Result: Won 2-1

Game Four

Again I was at the top table, and as I sat down, my opponent (who was a little Japanese teenager with braces) looked at his mate on the next table and went "..oh no..". These two had seen me play against my last opponent, had witnessed my l33t sk1llz and assumed my convincing wins where not down to the same reasons that I had thought, i.e me being a jammy bastage.

His nervousness helped me storm through the first game, I stone rained a swamp and while he Disemboweled a few of my smaller creatures, I got going and did as much damage as possible. By the time he had creatures to help him, I pinged him for his last three with the Galvanic Arc. I still had 20 life.

The second game was a shambles for both of us, both started droppng land drops, creatures that eventually came out where all defensive, and while I drew land, he started disembowling creatures and putting a few fliers into play. I never recovered, and he bet me with 17 life left. Despite still showing signs of nerves, the kid could play.

Game Three went equally for both of us. Creatures started to fill up on both sides, and then he dropped a bomb card - the Vampire who expotentially mills cards (5, then 10, then 20 etc). I was sitting on a Devouring Light and a Boros Fury Shield so I started to take the library damage. We where both at 13 life, and so I thought I would be clever, take the library hits and then when the vampire was big enough, bounce the damage with the Boros. No other cards helped me for the couple of turns it took him to attack, and then next turn, he would be dead. His Vampire milled me to 8 cards, and just as I thought he was done, he cast another milling card, tapped out and milled the rest of my deck.

My turn I had nothing to draw, and lost. Oh well.

Final

No final is played - you play your four games and then if you have 12 points, you are either 1st or 2nd based on your scores from the games played.

12 points (normally 1st and 2nd place) gets you 12 boosters, whilst 9 points (places 3rd to 10th) gets you 6 boosters.

I came 4th, and picked up my 6 boosters with a happy smile, especially when one of the rares was a foil Hunted Dragon.

- hindsight

I was happy to find that people where as nervous as I was, and that calmed me down a lot. It was also a happy change to hear people were (and I use this term loosely) 'frightened' of playing me, rather than my opponents thinking "..I am playing a loser, this game should be easy," and mostly being right :p

I think this is the first tournament where I got to play properly, think about the cards, and get a deck together that worked - a combination of everything being just right. Not perfect, as I am not a perfect player, nor perfect deck wise - imagine what it would have been like if I had more Skynights, a Lightning Helix, or any of the white soldiers that boost your creatures, or the Boros double strike warrior? To show how well both mine and my final opponents decks where, check Charge of the Boros which was close to what I had, and Dimir Intrigues, which is what he had. Both of our decks had solid rare and uncommon cards, which these two theme decks are based on.

Anyway, I am obviously very pleased at the result, not just for me (well mostly) but also for everyone else as we all scored points. I think we got 21 points in total between the four of us, so thats not bad at all....

The others unfortunately got caught out on the time during game three, and so all started their matches at 1-0 down, and if that had happened to me, I would not have been so close to finishing second as I did (I would have lost the third game 2-1 rather than win 2-1) - although I still could have ended up with 9 points.

Back to the Deck design. I checked during each match to see if I could replace things and make it any better, and I regret taking so long to add the Fury Shield in (added after the 2nd Match) but I still think I made the right choice not to add a Conclave Equenaut as I thought the 6 mana was too much, even with the Convoke ability, as I preferred attacking as quick as possible. I also didnt add the common dual land I had either, for the sake of possibly dropping an important 2nd or third turn land thus reducing tempo, and still agree that in Limited, they are not worth taking over a basic land. The (common) guild artefacts where a different matter - a definate add, but I never got any in the game, and even after taking home nearly 250 cards, I only got 1 x Boros, and 3 x Dimir.

I think that the first cards I would have dropped for whatever reason (say to add another Trumpter or Skyknight) would have been the Peregrine Mask and probably the Seismic Spike. Both where used in the games and turned up, but sometimes the land destruction felt unnecessary, especially as it handed back two mana that I couldnt always use, and I only really felt as though it helped me once in Match four. The artefact normally was a card that equipt my already Defender crocodile, and was largely redundant.

I mentioned earlier about 'helping' Dave - I helped him go through his cards, and toned down the amount of cards with double mana he was trying to splash as a third colour, and also trimmed his deck to 40 cards from 47. The next game he played went on for so long, that he ended up decking himself, when if he had even 41 cards, he would have swung for the last 3 damage he needed to win the game. Doh!

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Magic the Gathering images used without permission, design by me.