Amonkhet arrived and I decided to go to some Prerelease events because I will be heading to GP Bologna with some other Magic players. I'm a constructed player unlike them though so I don't expect to do good. I need some experience with the set though. I hoped I would have time to play with the set, but I will be attending different event the week before the GP and won't be here to play in Release events both Online and in paper. Yesterday though I got the possibility to draft Amonkhet. I was glad about it but did not expect to do well because my brain is 'turned off' lately and I haven't really slept much in the past days.
My first pick was a Zombie related card. I could pick either Stir the Sands or Wayward Servant. None of the other cards seemed good for a first pick to me. I wanted to stay open for something else (cycling deck for example) so I picked the 6 mana card. I passed Champion of Rhonas and hoped that the person next to me would end up in green. He did. The next pack wasn't really something I liked to see. I picked Fan Bearer, being the best card for a slower deck and passed the rest. Next I picked the Wayward Servant expecting the player next to me not being in that archetype thus. All the packs contained some common Zombies and I expected that cards like Miasmic Mummy would be in the packs when there would be just 1-3 cards left. The following picks were all white. There wasn't a single black card that would be relevant. Probably more people were drafting Black, the person sitting to my right seemed to be in that color for sure. I picked few Cartouches and removal but the creatures going my way weren't good except Trueheart Duelist. My deck seemed very bad. In the last picks I was picking Zombie creature cards and some Anointer Priests. I hoped for White or Black monument and hoped for cards like Binding Mummy. Among the last picks was also Approach of the Second Sun that I seriously considered as a win condition. But this card would be cool in a deck running some of the Blue Nagas and mill/cycling spells. Anyway against something very slow I could possibly board that in. But I hoped it wouldn't come to that. At this point my deck looked bad.
In the second pack my first picks were black. I picked Gravedigger, Wayward Servant and Final Reward. For the rest of the pack Black seemed to vanish once again. But I was given a little present in the form of Binding Mummy so things started to look better. Relatively late I was passed Black Monument so I picked it expecting that to be my win condition. I needed some Embalm creatures and bunch of Zombies. My last picks were Those Who Serve (3 copies) and 2 Miasmic Mummy. I wasn't really too happy about that card but then I realized that I had 2 copies of Anointer Priest that I could discard. I needed some creatures that could trade though so I was fine with that card.
In the third pack I first picked Zombie Lord and I was very happy about. My second pick was Start/Finish that I also welcomed. My third pick though was GIDEON of the Trials! Someone was out of their mind when passing that. I was in shock for the rest of the draft because of this. Even if my original plan with Zombies wouldn't work out I had a Gideon plan that would certainly work with all my 1/3, 2/4 and Embalm creatures. Next pick was White monument so I started to smile. My next two picks were Sacred Cat which I was happy about (because of its Embalm mana cost being 1) and Binding Mummy which made me smile even more. Next pack there were three Zombies I could pick from. Miasmic Mummy, 3/3 Zombie for 4 that untaps a creature when it comes into play (or something like that) and Blighted Bat. The latter seemed to be the best choice out of those so I picked that (I did not expect to attack much on the ground, otherwise I would have picked the 3/3 Zombie). Then I picked another Black Monument but having another copy did not seem correct (I did not expect to play it). There wasn't anything relevant for me though so I didn't care that much. The remaining cards are not worth mentioning but I was glad to see another Anointer Priest.
I played against UB cycling deck deck. I started with Anointer Priest. My opponent started with Seeker of Insight so there wasn't a way I'd deal some damage with my creatures attacking. But I had Gideon in my opener and expected to just win if I coul avoid Final Reward or Lay Claim. I slammed Gideon on the table while my opponent was tapped out and hoped it would be just all it was needed. There was one more card that could deal with Gideon - Never/Return - which I didn't expect though. Since I played Gideon early I didn't expect it to die to an army of Flyers that the Blue-Black player could possible have in his deck. I attacked with Gideon while playing one or two creatures a turn while keeping mana for removal or tapping (since my opponent did have Flyers and Cartouche of Knowledge that certainly threatened my Gideon since this on 6/5 creature would be rather bad for me). Game 1 was over soon.
Second game looked similar even though I didn't have Gideon in my opener nor means how to play it. I had some creatures and Zombie Lord though that would save my 2/2s from dying to Rags/Riches. My opponent couldn't find a Swamp or another land for that matter and thus I had few turns before my creatures could die. Some of my key creatures for draining life died but the Lord itself was out of Ruthless Sniper's range. I later landed Gideon and finished my opponent with it. My opponent revealed his hand containing the rare card - Rags/Riches - and Lay Claim.
I opened with a one drop followed by Trueheart Duelist with which I hoped to deal some damage. But the card was stopped by the looter I saw in previous round. My opponent continued with another Seeker of Insight some 2/4 Nagas and tried to find some lands and Embalm cards he could play. In the meantime I drew Gideon and played it, I was tapping my opponent's Flyers or 6/5 creature into which I didn't want to attack with Gideon. When one of the creatures got enchanted with Cartouche of Knowledge my Gideon was about to die, but my draining engine was already in play and it was easy for me to win from that spot.
In the second game my opponent was playing mono blue all the time and did not reach 7 mana for Lay Claim. I didn't see Gideon that game though so it was my army of Zombies that had to drain my opponent's life with some occasional attack. My 1/3s and 2/2s weren't good attackers since they faced 2/4s and 1/3s (and one 6/5). There were some 2/1s and 3/2 creatures into which I could attack. So with the help of two creatures being able to tap opposing creatures I managed to deal enough damage so I could then drain the remaining life relatively easily.
I didn't know what I was facing because my opponent started with two Mountains and didn't play anything (except a burn spell). I played one drop, two drop and dealt some damage. Later I faced some Green and Red creatures through which I certainly couldn't go through. 4/3, 3/4 and 5/5 creatures seemed too much for me. I played Start/Finish to buy me some time. The burn spell also hit an Embalm creature that I returned with Gravedigger to my hand. My opponent wasn't certainly happy about that. I was able to tap one to two creatures each turn and the rest of my creatures I needed to gang block and kill (Finish certainly helped with reducing the numbers). I drew White Monument later which started to look good for me and started to clog my field. I also drew the Black one later so I was slowly draining my opponent. When I drew Binding Mummy I needed some Zombies to tap opposing creatures. I ran into my opponent's creatures letting my Embalm creatures die. That was a silly thing to do but I had abundance of Zombie creatures with which I could trigger Binding Mummies. It allowed me to create a bigger difference between my attackers, my opponent's blockers and the damage that would go through. I finally got in the position to attack somehow dealing the remaining 7 damage I needed to squeeze through. I won and was glad I did (Haze of Pollen wouldn't be nice even though it would win the game for my opponent). This could have gone very wrong since I'm very bad at situations in which I need to get some damage through via combat.
In the second game I tried to attack a bit from the beginning so I could drain the rest of my opponent's life later. He soon started playing bigger creatures than mine but I also had some creatures with the ability to tap creatures. Later (quite late) Gideon showed up and helped me deal even more damage. The card was bound to die though since I didn't have enough creatures to protect it. If my Trueheart Duelist would die, Gideon would just die almost immediately. But my opponent's life total was in draining range already. My opponent did not manage to punish me during the two turns where my position wasn't 'good' except the attacking Gideon. When my opponent finally managed to kill Gideon all I needed to do was let it die and swing back with my creatures to deal the remaining 2 damage.
This game could have gone awry for me but even without Gideon I had a way how to win the game. It would have taken more time though and I would have to Embalm my creatures. I was glad I didn't need that because it would have required me to think more about the damage I can squeeze in while draining my opponent and I was too tired for that (and facing 5/5s from Sandwurm Convergence did not look good at all).
At the prerelease one of my decks was BW Zombies. It did surprisingly well. Even though this opponent didn't put up much resistance he earned an achievement because he managed to attack with Kefnet the Mindful.
While I can say that Gideon won me the draft because the card is simply overpowered I felt that my deck worked well even without it. I was able to deal some damage with my creatures and then drain or create tokens. Binding Mummies were stellar. I had more removal that didn't end up in my deck because I needed creatures to trigger my Monuments and Wayward Servant, but that I could board in against decks running more highly annoying creatures (like 6/6 Trample Hydra or Sphinxes/Avens). Since I was also picking some Token generating cards I could have played more of that to be able to survive more aggressive decks (3 Priests and Tokens is good). It was difficult for me to put together a deck with all those cards. All of them seemed good in the deck (except cards like Winged Shepherd). Note to self - pick White Trial or In Oketra's Name.
After the draft I was exhausted and wanted to just go to sleep, but I couldn't. After trying to log in to Magic Online with ping 445ms and experiencing some fatal errors I was very glad I managed to play some Magic. When starting the draft I was rather tilted because of it and maybe my desperation I felt lured some luck my way. The draft was a very nice experience (and I ended up with Gideon o_O, I still can't believe it). I also very glad that I can play a Zombie tribal. I played it already at the Prerelease so I knew it was possible to build it and make it work somehow. I will have to explore other archetypes as well. But I like Blue-Black cycling deck for example. Red-Green Aggro will certainly work. This set provides the most efficient beaters I know of! Green-White Exert with some Spidery Grasps looks good too and this is also one of the sets where Blue-Green tempo should work. It has all the good cards for it and not just on rare slots. What I'd like to see in action is some kind of Black-Red Hellbent aggro because there are cards for it but I don't know how efficient the deck can be. Same goes to Black-Green counters. At one of the Prereleases I played that and it seemed to be good but unfortunately I wasn't able to deal with 3-4 rares my opponents were regularly throwing at me.
Thank you for reading
S'Tsung (@stsungjp on Twitter and stsung on MODO)