Date: September 26th 2009

Location: Russel Hotel

Event: Zendikar Pre-release

Attending: [3] Me, Mike and Chris.


For information on specific cards, check the lists for the sets here: Zendikar

Chris and Mike met me at my house, and after missing a bus and having to wait 20 minutes to sit in shockingly bad traffic and then find that our bus will suddenly only drop us off just the other side of Waterloo Bridge. This all meant that an old lady with a shopping basket trolley could have gotten us to the event quicker than we actually did, and after we signed up, we found ourselves in Flight 5.

I intended to enter just the main event today, as I had pre-bought some £30 of Zendikar rares and Vampires already, and wanted to keep my costs down. This was helped by me selling a stack of cards that I knew where worth a few quid each, but unlikely that I would ever run them in a deck.

So, bye to some Planeswalkers and a few cards from sets about to rotate out plus, I cant remember much more of them, so they cant have been ones I really miss... and hello to a crisp £50 note. I also managed to hold on to two of my Noble Hierach's that I had held in my 'did'nt really want to sell unless I had to' pile, so was quite happy.

Mike had also sold a ton of cards, was very happy with his return and also kept his DRWTSUIHT of the Kithkin Soldier.

This is normally where I say it was very empty looking, but bloodhy hell was it mobbed. Whether or not it was due to some random occurance or the fact that the set was chock full of money rares, Dual Fetch lands or the possibility of Priceless Treasures, who can say, but mobbed it was.

My Card Pool

This is where I start off by saying "..rare pool was crap, either useless or a bomb with nothing to back it up with..." and its true once more. Rare Land is pretty useless in any Limited event and so what do I get? 3 rare lands in my pool and only one of which was a Fetch.

The other rares where just downright poor rather than being useless in a draft, and so my deck ended up with just one rare, the Green land Oran-Rief, the Vastwood.

I had a nice Green and Black pool of cards - nothing special, a few Landfall creatures to trigger but none of the larger or better Landfall creatures.

My deck basically was one that I had tried before - a very fast one. This can be either good, or very very bad as you have no backup and run out of gas after turn 6 or so. My Zendikar deck consisted of 9 creatures that took 3 or less mana, 7 spells that cost less than 3, and 3 Traps (that can cost 2 or less). The reason why I went with a faster deck this time as they had mostly failed in the past was based on some of the creatures had Kicker costs allowing me to play them later if I could for added effect - for instance the excellent Mold Shambler or the Oran-Rief Recluse.

Final deck list

Land: [17] 8 x Swamp; 7 x Forest; Oran-Rief, the Vastwood; Turntimber Grove

Creatures: [13] Scythe Tiger; Oran-Rief Recluse; Mold Shambler; Timbermaw Larva; Harga Diabolist; Vastwood Gorger; Guul Daz Vampire; Vampire Lacerator; Giant Scorpion; Grazing Gladehart; Surrakar Marauder; Mindless Null; River Boa

Spells: [10] Soul Stair Expedition; Hideous End; Grim Discovery; 2 x Harrow; Explorer's Scope; Marsh Casualties; Baloth Cage Trap; 2 x Needlebite Trap

Game 1

In the first game my Baloth Cage came down on turn two as my opponent cast an Artifact while I had mana open. I Harrowed into more mana twice, and managed to drop a few little creatures to block while hitting with my little Intimidate creatures like the Guul Daz Vampire.

It was soon over, and I had lost only 1 life die to my opponent dropping the Swamp based land that deals damage on entry.

The second game was even more one sided - my opp had one land through the first 6 or 7 turns, and although I did'nt start brilliant, I didnt need to. I took one damage again from the Swamp and did the same thing as I did above, powering through with quick creatures.

2 - 0 - 0

Game 2

An even start on both sides, but then he drops a Kor that has artifact love, attaching the Double Strike equipment that he played the turn before and putting me in a dodgy position. I start to chump block my creatures away, waiting on the extra land I need to lay the Mold Shambler with Kicker.

I draw a land, drop the Shambler, and destroy the equipment just when I need it, and stabalize the board. I get the Intimidate lads back down, and start to pile the beats in with creatures such as the 4/4 beast generated from a Baloth Cage Trap until I win.


The next game again starts very equally on both sides, but soon I take a few extra damage, and suddenly our scores that were at 10 or so each suddenly force me down to having just one life. I manage to keep further attacks away from me by chumping and knocking out one of his larger creatures with Hideous End. Sadly for my opponent, he has to fight my furious topdecking and perfect drawing skills that I have brought along today, and after a few attacks with Surrakar Marauder intimidated through Landfall, I pop a Needlebite Trap off to win.

4 - 0 - 0

Game 3

A text book game for me - my creatures out quick, damage gets in, Harrow into mana acceleration, Marsh Casualties with Kicker to wipe 3/4 of his board and a Needlebite Trap to finish off. I won the first game with 17 life left.

The second game I took lots of damage, but the Grazing Gladehart kept my life higher when I needed it, and it looks like we where hitting each other for 2 a turn, until I started to up the damage to 4 a pop and then again finish my opponent with Needlebite Trap.

Another 2-0 win, and with 9 points in the bag, I was already on the prize ladder - huzzah!

6 - 0 - 0

Game 4

We both start off ultra quick with a Scythe Tiger down for both of us on the first turn, which meant his deck was as fast as mine and possibly better in the end game. Not good. I attack into the Tiger, thinking we trade or just start to get the damage in on both sides.

We trade, and after a quick burst of mana I get a Grazing Gladehart down and Harrow to make more mana and life.

I hit 30 before he gets rid of it, and can even afford to take a massive 12 points of damage from a boosted creature without worrying too much about it.

Some more beats and again I draw into the cards I need and guess what, smack him with a Needlebite Trap.

Game two was a blink and you miss it thing. His deck powered out creatures and I blocked as ineffectively as I attacked. I didnt even get a point of damage through, and before long we where shuffling for the deciding game - all over for me in 7? quick rounds.

At this point we discussed how things had gone during the day (our previous opponents match results) and even the rest of our decks contents - comparing how bad our rare pool had gone and him asking if my deck was like his cost wise. I dont recall what his rare was (better than mine but not that much) and he said that a fist full of bombs was not always what you needed to get through to the top table. Not sure why I did this, as normally I am the person that conceeds a losing game so you dont see the cards in my hand..I was jolly relaxed I suppose.

We were playing for the top positions by the sounds of it - he like me also had not lost any games before we started this match. There was talk from him about declaring a draw, but no one forced it, and so we drew cards for Match three.

Match three was driven mostly by my card drawing demon self, as I powered from one creature to another, dropping Grazing Gladehart and Harrow's to gain 8 or so life. Then (obviously I am biast) some excellent play from myself - I drop Harga Diabolist to put him on 10, which along with a land has triggered both Intimidates on Guul Draz Vampire and Surrakar Marauder to attack.

With 5 life left, he fires off some life gain, and I have a Needlebite Trap and a Swamp waiting to hit him for 5. Not a bad effort for one round of play.

He is on 4 life to my 17, and I draw my other Needlebite Trap and have exactly the amount of mana I need to hardcast it without even having to attack.

8 - 1 - 0

And there we go, my first Pre-release win. My opponent mentions now he should have pushed for the draw, and at 1 all, I may well have taken it - not sure though, I already had points, but of course I am saying this after I had already won....

I later find that my score had put me top, 1st of 32 in Flight 5 - I am chuffed, obviously - Huzzah! With my 12 points I earn 12 Boosters, a Zendikar storage box and a huge t-shirt that would fit a super sized American living next to a Maccy D's.

Mike won his last game to give him 9 points and prizes, and Chris got 6 points, so a very productive day for us all! At this point Mike and Chris rob me of two boosters to play a draft themselves back at Mikes, while I join the queue for the artist Aleksi Briclot. I had queued earlier but caught him just as he was leaving for lunch.

So I queued for just over an hour, watching some excellent art being drawn - it was weird though as he had a Rolf Harris thing going on, some weird scribbles (he started with a thin black pen on a black binder) that turned into a Masterpiece. Yes, with a capital 'M'.

Take a look at this, which cost me the grand total of a fiver, to which I commented to him "..the best £5 I have ever spent..."

Other than my cards I sold earlier, I also traded as follows:

Two Fetch Lands plus £3 = Sorrin (ZEN) and Ajani (M10) Planeswalkers, a textless Terminate (£3) and the Lady vampire (£1.50)

No booster draft for me, and I left at around 6pm, and yes it was still packed. The Sketch topped my excellent day off quite nicely thanks.


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