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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Shadows over Innistrad Prerelease

Since Onslaught I was participating in prerelease events. This time though I was ill and I couldn't participate in the paper prerelease event. I was tempted to go but in the end I did not. I thought that maybe the following week I could possibly play in the release event instead. I forgot that I would be most probably too busy with SOI preorders though. I was sleep deprived and exhausted so I skipped the release event as well. The only remaining possibility to participate in prerelease/release event was to participate in SOI Prerelease events on Magic Online. Since I already participated in the previous prerelease and release events online I wasn't afraid much of losing those tix I would put in that. This time the situation was a bit different - I had no prior experience with the set and I was too reluctant to even read the spoiler.

On Friday I wanted to come back from work and play in the events that would start more or less by that time. Instead I stopped by one of the LGSs. I talked to some players at first about SOI and Magic in general and then I was asked by other players to join a game of EDH. I played with a borrowed deck - UB Ninja tribal led by Vela the Night-Clad. We played few games of two headed giant. We (Vela, Narset) played against Ulamog and Jenara and it ended up in our favor. Obviously it wasn't a good idea to pair two blue decks together after all...

After this we went with Ondra to McDonald's (it was late and nothing else was open) to play some games of Type 2. Since I do not follow the metagame at all I was rather lost. I borrowed Grixis Control and tried few games with it. As expected I did not really feel like in control of the game but Chandra and Kalitas were sweet. When I played against Ramp I felt totally helpless...(killing Dragonlord Atarka with three cards...oh yeah, certainly didn't feel like a winner)

I figured that if I would want to play a control deck I'd rather play Esper with Ojutai and some real counterspells! Even though Transgress the Mind would actually help a ton in that match up. After some games it was time to go.

When I came to my flat it was well past midnight. Since I wanted to buy cards for Modern Faeries that day (the day before) I sat behind my desk and opened Magic Online. After I spend about an hour (and more) waiting for different bots to let me buy the cards I decided to pay 28 tix and enter one of the prerelease events after all. At first thinking that I would just build a deck and go to sleep.

Sealed Deck
At first glance I saw Sigarda and Alter Ego because that just popped at me. After making sure to see all cards in my pool I noticed Startled Awake which also seemed to scream 'play me'. I ignored that for a while and divided my cards by playable/unplayable and looked at it once again. Blue and black did not contain defensive creatures nor removal and there was less of those cards compared to the other 3 colors. So I decided to go with Sigarda. But looking at white the color was far behind red which had even few bombs in it. Wolf of Devil's Breach seemed way overpowered and Avacyn's Judgment seemed as a very good card if I would be able to play it for its Madness cost. So I decided to splash Sigarda and play RG aggro.

Round 1
In round 1 I played against Grixis. I wasn't really sure what the deck would be doing. But it drew/looted many cards. I tried to attack as efficiently I possibly could (note that does not need to mean really efficiently since I'm very bad with creatures in general) but then facing 1/5s and 1/3s was actually problem. When my opponent added 3/3 flyer to the mix it was quite bad for me. I could still have more creatures and swing for lethal but that was not going to happen since my opponent played Avacyn's Judgment for its Madness cost wiping my whole board out -_-. And by doing that he put two extra creatures in play! The second game wasn't any better. After this crushing defeat I wasn't really sure if my deck could do anything in the upcoming rounds. But how do you guys feel if someone is 10 cards ahead in any format? This happens a lot in Vintage and even there with all the cards that could help me overcome that I lose. When this happens in limited and there is no Ancestral Recall to save me...it feels way worse. And who the hell came up with the idea to play a 5 round sealed deck at 3 am?

Round 2
In round 2 I faced BG Delirium deck. At first he just played better creatures than mine but I knew I could withstand that unless he would play some flyers I couldn't really deal with at that time. Double/triple blocking seemed as a horrible idea but it was the only way how to deal with 6/6 and 6/5 creatures (and I really needed to get rid of Tireless Tracker). I managed to trade with all the creatures but then my opponent found Mindwrack Demon in his deck and played it (Recruiter is a good rare and OP uncommon). That was a bit too much for me. When sideboarding I regretted a bit that I did not try to put together UB mill deck. In the end I was glad I did not have the option to side like this in the 3 minute time limit (or how much, I was too lazy to even think about how the deck should look like). So instead I just clicked on 'Submit deck' and waited for my hand to appear on the screen. It looked good. It was my turn to show my opponent my mythic rare cards. My elemental wolf did not die and it could deal all those twenty damage by only discarding cards and tossing them at my opponent (one of them being Avacyn's Judgment). Game three was not to be since my opponent spend part of his timer being disconnected. Anyway after this match I figured out that my bombs are actually good and that my deck can probably win the following games if I just realize that I can discard a card with Madness and play it^_~. So there was no need to build a different deck. I also needed to facepalm myself for my attacks and blocks. I always wonder how you guys cope with all those creatures...

Round 3
I hoped that round 3 would be quick after the second one and it was. Turn 2 Lambholt Pacifist and turn 3 attack for four was a good beginning. Two turns later I played Sigarda wondering what would happen to her. Since I played against UG I expected some enchantment tapping my creature and not allowing them to untap. That actually happened. Next turn I played Tormenting Voice playing 4/3 Haste thanks to Madness. I drew my Mythic and Avacyn's Judgment. That seemed enough for a 'Still had all deez' scenario. Game two on t5 I had 4 creatures in play and my opponent couldn't block any of them and he conceded.

Round 4
In round 4 I found out that my deck that hardly had something that could be considered as a reasonable curve actually managed to show it to me (and my opponent). To my surprise though my opponent decided to race me even though I was winning the damage race. I couldn't think of a card that would mess the life totals till Silverstrike happened. I read the card, not really believing it and hoped to still win the game even though that was unlikely since I needed to top deck a removal spell. Luckily I top decked Rabid Bite for the win. In game 2 I was killed by Geist of Saint Traft Invocation. Even though I tried to block the creature with the enchantment several times my opponent always had something preventing me to block and kill the creature.

In game 3 I kept a two lander hoping I would draw a 3rd land soon. I had 3 two drops so I had some time before it would become a serious problem. I was facing only one big First Striker and one creature that happened to be Indestructible for quite some time. Later when my opponent started playing flyers I really needed to find some lands. I managed that even though it cost me 10 life. I played Watcher in the Web finally followed by Sigarda. I hoped that these two creatures would stop the attack of never ending spirits and later win the game. Nothing happened to Sigarda hopefully so after several turns of chumpblocking 9/4 First Strike creature, Sigarda managed to get through 5 spirits and win the game later.

Round 5
In Round 5 I also started by curving out but that was soon to be stopped by Sage of Ancient Lore. I was lucky to have removal for the creature but Elusive Tormentor replaced it tormenting me for the rest of the game. I had two fatties that could swing without a problem past 4/4 body but even that plan ended up in vain since my opponent created four 1/1 Devils that deal damage somewhere if they die. Anyway my 5/5, 5/4, 4/5 creatures could still win the game but I needed my opponent to cooperate and mess the game up (I top decked a win con though so that thought process was ...rather useless).

Well, I just needed my opponent messing up when trying to kill one or two of my creatures and it fortunately happened. Next turn he could still possibly block and kill my red mythic but the rest of my creatures would still get through. In the following game we both started with Werewolves. My died first and my opponent played Soul Swallower joining two Wolves. I had Mad Prophet in play though (awesome card!) and got Avacyn's Judgment. I wiped his board and later outnumbered him even managing to play Sigarda. While werewolves were flipping, Sigarda was dealing 4 damage per turn. My opponent did not find removal for her and died few turns later.

After the sealed deck was over I was glad that I got some packs and PP that I could spend on something else. I felt very embarrassed by playing so badly in the first two rounds but on the other hand is that normal that everyone expects you to play well during your first prerelease event without even knowing the cards in the set? One thing is certain I'm obviously not that fast to adapt to a new set and it certainly takes some time for me to figure out even how a deck I build works (not that I would build something difficult to play).

Limited Break
After the finished Sealed deck League I played some Legacy (because I decided to play at least a match a day) and Modern (I'm trying to figure out some UB Faeries build). In Legacy I beat some poor Delver players. One of those players got totally destroyed ^_~. I did not expect to be the 'aggressor' - destroying all lands and creatures.

In Modern I was trying to play with Fae and was doing so-so. Some people asked me why I still have Remand in my deck after game 1. Some were asking nicely, someobviously took me for some dumb player. Since I only have an idea how MD should look like I haven't really put much thought in how my sideboard should look like. I put there some cards but since it contains strange cards that I hardly imagine siding against something, there are no reasonable cards I could put there instead of Remand. But still that does not change the fact that I should have counted with this scenario (me siding out something like this and replacing it with something better - hard counter for something. I used to run Flashfreeze/Negate 8 years ago or so but I'm not sure if that would work in nowadays field). If I want to build a deck I put together 60 cards and then try to tweak it till I like the deck or gather enough information about match ups and such. After that I look at the cards that become dead or weaker and find something I can replace them with against certain match ups. That means that usually sideboard is the last thing I come up with. Often I rather play without sideboard first. I put Damnation, Steel Sabotage, Hurkyl's Recall and Dragon Claw in my SB but only because I though I would need those cards and couldn't come up with anything better. I wasn't thinking at that time what cards these would be replacing.

Anyway I don't know why but I got the feeling that everyone just expects me to play certain decks containing very specific cards. People expect that everyone net decks? Maybe since even in limited people are like 'I used LSV's pick list' for this draft.

Some time ago I made the wrong decision going to several Modern events. In one I played Grixis Delver and I was called an idiot by playing Spell Pierce (I don't need to say that this card won me two matches, I dropped with 2:1 record that day). Next time I went there playing Junk and someone complained about me playing Infest effect card against Naya Burn. I don't say that I chose the right cards to play or side in but I played with what I had available to me and tried to use it as best as I could. I had no idea what Modern looks like. I just wanted to play some games of Modern. I think there is nothing wrong with that. After few more experiences like this in other formats as well (playing Kolaghan in Junk in t2, or playing Delver or PTE in Vintage) I decided not to bother anymore (even though I won't give up paper Vintage).

Draft
After being upset because of what my opponents decided to type me I clicked on SOI Prerelease Draft and it would either me being the 8th player or I would go to bed. I managed to get in the pod. Modo showed me that the tournament started but froze just afterwards. I wanted for a while wondering if it would let me join the tournament or I would have to restart but luckily it showed me the first pack with some delay. Tireless Tracker was there staring at me at rare slot so I picked that because the card seemed OP and I also played against it during the sealed deck and the card really difficult to deal with.

That sent me into green. Rabid Bite followed. In the next pack there was only one card that interested me and that was Tormenting Voice but I decided to pick Foreboding Ruins if I would want to splash red or black as I expected being in one of those colors. Doing that was probably a mistake but I didn't really care. I knew that my picks would most probably be pretty random anyway (being it middle of the night and me feeling like crap, I was trying to convince myself not to even open Magic Online but I failed at it obviously). Next there was Reduce to Ashes followed by Fiery Temper. Next decision was between Uncaged Fury and Byway Courier so I picked the creature. Next picks were also creatures Bloodmad Vampire, Intrepid Provioner and some random picks. In pack two I opened Asylum Visitor and there was also Sinister Concoction. Those were the only cards that caught my eye. Not in my colors. I was have red actually after pack one so I still could possibly switch even though I did not want to abandon Tireless Tracker. Removal is good and it seems scarce in SOI so I decided to go for that. In the following pack there was Slayer's Plate which did not seem bad but I did not have many creatures and probably wouldn't have that much of them in the end (not with low cmc) so I picked Dead Weight instead. Throttle followed^_^. Sinister Skeleton was in the next pack. I really wanted to pick it but in the end I decided to pick Harvest Hand rather because I knew I would be able to play it in anything and I did not want to commit to black yet (even though after those three picks...). Stallion of Ashmouth, Watcher in the Web, Merciless Resolve, Macabre Waltz, Farbog Revenant and some random picks followed.

In the last pack I opened Flameblade Angel that kind of wrecked my black plan. There was also Biting Rain but I decided to pick the Angel. The following picks were Intrepid Provisioner, Convicted Killer, Thornhide Wolves, Dance with Devils, Solitary Hunter, Merciless Resolve, Aim High, Stoic Builder, Aim High and random picks.

Round 1 I wasn't really sure what to expect from my opponent. He started with Ember-Eye Wolf and Cathar's Companion - both cards I'd rather avoid playing but I don't know what can be good or not. Next turn he showed me Burn from Within. I was glad I got rid of the card early in the game. Next he played Scourge Wolf which was certainly pretty annoying for my 1 toughness creatures. But my deck was full of bigger creatures so I knew I could deal with that later. Next turn my opponent played Nahiri, the Harbinger. I did not like that at all. Next turn I drew my Flameblade Angel though so I hoped that this card could deal with Nahiri. Unfortunately it got destroyed. So I was playing my creatures and waiting for the moment to attack so I would kill Nahiri in one swing. That moment came when Nahiri reached 9 counters. I dealt with her and next turn with my opponent. It was a long game.

Next game I kept a hand with one creature but one that if it dies it investigates. I had enough land so I hoped to draw some creatures. My opponent wasn't really fast last game so I thought that it would work. So when my opponent curved out and dealt quite a lot of damage I was a bit surprised. When I got the upper hand and swung with the team, next turn my opponent stole the creature I played after my attack and attacked with it killing me. In game three after I mulled I kept a hand with 2 lands and Tormenting Voice. I drew a land and a 4 drop. Next turn I drew another one but still nothing was lost. My opponent played a plethora of 1 power creatures so my life total was relatively safe. Since I drew Tireless Tracker I played it and I hoped it would survive. It did so when I drew my fourth land the land seemed to turn in my favor. Later I had 4 creatures in play and attacked with them. It seemed safe but my opponent had enough tricks to deal with 3 of my creatures. One of aforementioned 1/1s was Topplegeist that could go online anytime since my opponent also had white and red vessel in play. I played Flameblade Angel hoping it would deal the remaining damage with its ability (because it would be obviously tapped for the rest of the game). I was on a good way to win but my plan was wrecked by Drogskol Cavalry that I passed in the draft (picking removal instead). When the Spirit entered play we both had 5 minutes on our timers. So I switched to 'play fast' mode hoping to still win the game if by a chance I would draw a removal spell. During that time I sometimes swung with some of my creatures to keep the numbers of spirit down on the other side and I really hoped my opponent wouldn't start attacking me because in 3-4 turns I would be dead. He did not though. Later on my opponent played Breakneck Rider that would certainly kill me in 2 turns. My opponent needed to swing with a flyer or two and then alpha strike to deal the remaining 13 damage. He did not attack though with the spirit and next turn he turned all his creatures sideways but timed out (he would have dealt 11 damage).

Next turn I played against a player I already encountered during a draft. I do not recall what set but I remember that he knew what he was doing and killed me in about a 5 minutes with an ideal deck. I beat him fast in game 1. In game 2 I totally messed up and died pretty fast. In game three I did not really want to lose. After I played Tireless Tracker and few creatures I waited two turns because there was 3/5 standing in my way. When I could finally attacked I waited one turn. Then I attacked with everything destroying all creatures my opponent had. Then I added some creatures and my opponent conceded but first he needed to complain how dumb I am that I can't attack when I'm far ahead in the game. Well, creatures is not my thing (creatures on both sides of the table).

In the finals I seemed to have everything I needed but my opponent played got a 3/2 flyer that was threatening my life total. When I finally got rid of it, he played Macabre Waltz and replayed the card. I couldn't deal with it in time and my only creature was Tireless Tracker staring at 1/1 Deathtouch so racing wasn't an option. My opponent tried to be as fast as possibly though really forcing damage through and that is why he decided to destroy my only blocker and swing for lethal. I ruined his plans with Aim High and he conceded.

In game two my opponent started with an enchantment that can become a 4/4 creature, those Deathtouch rats and Stoic Builder. Hopefully for me my Stoic Builder ran into my opponent's one so I could Dual Shot both creatures. I could start to beatdown my opponent but unfortunately my attack was stopped. By a little army of zombies. In the meanwhile 1/3 Lifelink Spirit was dealing some damage to me and my only chance to deal with it was via my Devils. Unfortunately I clicked on a creature next to the attacking Spirit. This meant that the difference in our life totals was too big and I couldn't kill my opponent after he would decide to attack me. So he attacked and I conceded.

In the last game I kept Foreboding Ruins, Mountain, Forest, Tireless Tracker, Solitary Hunter, Fiery Temper, Pack Guardian. That seemed that it could deal with the creature recursion quite fine. My opponent once again played rather aggressively and this wasn't really trying to kill my Tireless Tracker. Since a Stallion that could pump itself for 3 by that time was a problem for me I was forced to block it with my Tracker. I was left without creatures on board but my opponent had only a 3/2 and 2/3 (along with 1/2) in play. So I played Pack Guardian, created a Wolf and blocked. Then I stared at few 2/2 Zombies, 1/1 and 1/2. I drew 2/2 artifact that comes back as an artifact and played it. My opponent couldn't attack so I had some time to draw 2 lands so I could play 6/6 body. I drew a fifth land and already had Reduce to shes and Throttle in my hand. My opponent then played 5/3 Menace creature. I killed it, drew a land and played my 6/6 Trample (for the first time). I attacked with the creatures without summoning sickness and turn later my opponent scooped.

That was my adventure with Shadows of Innistrad and I do not regret entering those events. It was nice to see my opponents decks and I tried my best to win some games/matches. I did not play well and sometimes colossally messed up but that usually made me more cautious and I won the other games. I wasn't particularly happy that my opponents were telling me how badly I play, even though it was a hyperbole from them it was the truth. I played badly.

Thanks for reading and if you'd want more posts like this let me know. I rarely play limited so I'm not sure if you'd be interested in something like this (and obviously I'm not the best at it^_^)