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Lighting Up the Magic 2014 Prerelease


I almost didn’t make it to the Magic 2014 prerelease. I couldn’t sleep the night before and didn’t actually nod off until 8:00 A.M. I’d like to tell you it was because I was so excited to play Magic, but the real story is that I’m a very light sleeper and my house was noisy all night. I didn’t wake up until around 4:00 P.M., and I missed the prerelease I wanted to go to, but fortunately for me, there was another store in town running a 5:30 P.M. prerelease. I had just enough time to make it, so it all worked out.

Here’s what my Sealed pool looked like:

Chandra's Outrage
What immediately jumps out at me is red. Three Chandra's Outrage, two Shock, and a Volcanic Geyser and a Flames of the Firebrand make for a darn good burn package. Oh goodie! The creatures were somewhat lacking, however. Young Pyromancer is excellent, of course, but my red didn’t offer much beyond that. The Battle Sliver also jumped out at me, but I found I didn’t have enough Slivers to go with a heavy Sliver build. It’s still fine as a 5/3, though.

I had my choice of second color narrowed down to either green or blue. Blue offered some nice evasive creatures along with a couple more good spells such as Divination and Domestication. Green offered up some decent creatures of its own along with a Verdant Haven that would better enable me to splash Doom Blade.

I ultimately went with blue because of all the evasion. I had a ton of removal but lacked a way of actually winning the game. Air Servant is a very good win condition, and the Trained Condors can do a lot of damage. Green only really offered three good creatures: the Briarpack Alpha, the Rumbling Baloth, and the Witchstalker—all of which can be easily blocked by a Siege Mastodon, tricks notwithstanding. I also felt that splashing Doom Blade wasn’t that big of a deal because of all the red removal I already had.

Here’s what I ultimately decided to play:

Again, I felt that splashing Doom Blade was unnecessary, even if I had a Shimmering Grotto. My mana requirements were pretty tough as it was, with all the uu and rr casting costs, so I really didn’t want to muck up my mana base. I didn’t play the Claustrophobias for that reason. I wanted to minimize the number of uu casting costs, and I wasn’t lacking for removal. I was a bit short on creatures, especially in the 2-drop department, but there wasn’t much I could do about it. The only color that had playable 2-drops was black, and there wasn’t enough there to make a full deck. Galerider Sliver was close to making my deck, but as I only had two other Slivers, it was going to be Flying Men a majority of the time. The only card I thought was on the loose side was Thunder Strike since I had so few creatures. I didn’t really want to play Armored Cancrix because of all the other 5-drops I had, and a combat trick was probably going to be better than an eighteenth land. It was definitely the worst card in my deck; I just didn’t have anything better to play instead. Feel free to leave me a comment if you would have built it differently.

Overall, I thought my deck was quite strong. I generally do well with decks like this, and I’m comfortable fighting out wars of attrition.

Fiendslayer Paladin
I lost first round to my friend Danielle who is something of a giant-slayer. After dealing with a Chandra, Pyromaster, I was destroyed Game 1 by a Fiendslayer Paladin wearing both a Shiv's Embrace and a Fireshrieker. That’s pretty good against my mono-red deck if I do say so myself. I boarded out my Domestication since it’s embarrassingly bad against Shiv's Embrace and brought in a Disperse. I was forced to mulligan in Game 2. She killed every single creature I played and then played a Chandra, Pyromaster, which casually drew her a Fiendslayer Paladin the following turn. Meanwhile, I was stuck on five lands and comically drew my only 6-drop. I drew my sixth land finally and played my Cyclops only to have it instantly killed, and I then proceeded to draw lands for the rest of the game.

The rest of the tournament went much better for me, as I didn’t drop a single game over the next four rounds to finish first in the Swiss. Domestication was surprisingly good, but I suspect that’s because I didn’t face any green decks. I was able to go off once with Young Pyromancer as I led with it on turn two and played spells nearly every turn afterward. Air Servant was definitely my MVP, as it won me every game in which it lived. It even held off a Shivan Dragon against which I was otherwise quite dead. Regarding the Thunder Strike, it actually performed better than I expected. There were a couple times it was stranded in my hand, but every time I did cast it, it was a blowout. I still would have preferred a 2-mana creature, even something like a Goblin Shortcutter, but it worked out fairly well.

We decided to just do a Top 8 split since it was growing late and everyone wanted to go home. I actually had plans that evening that I was already late for, so I was more than happy to oblige. I believe the words I used were, “You guys are cutting into my drinking time.”

My initial impression of this set is that it’s very similar to the early Magic 201X sets, particularly M11. There aren’t all that many interesting interactions, and it’s relatively simple and straightforward. Without any guest mechanics as the last couple core sets had, it’s a little on the bland side. It reminds me of an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation “Liasons” in which Counselor Troi had to escort an ambassador who had never before tasted human food and went on a binge-eating spree. As he was leaving, he gave her one of his people’s food rations as a parting gift.

Ambassador Loquel: “I’m afraid you’ll find that they’re not as delicious as your chocolate.”

Counselor Troi: “After the past few days, I could use something a little bland.”

That kind of sums it up for me. After the past few months of multicolored madness, I could use something a little bland.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you guys next week.

Take care,

Nassim Ketita

arcticninja on Magic Online


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