May 23, 2004

Fifth Dawn Prerelease, Morning Session

I was out the door by 8am, caught the Blue Line train, exit #2 at 西門站, straight down the street for a block. Hey, it's almost like going to work, give or take an hour. Four rounds of swiss for about 70 people. The prize structure was wide but shallow. You got a pack even if you didn't win any rounds. Two packs for two wins, four for three, and six plus a Fifth Dawn T-shirt if you sweep four rounds. Alright, it's gonna be all about the T-shirt today.

I couldn't believe they were making us register and swap decks at a chicken-shit four-round prerelease tournament. Damn Chinese all cheat too damn much, I guess. Of course, the deck I opened was vastly superior to the deck I got, but it could've been worse. Mirrodin was in Chinese, while the Fifth Dawn cards were in English, as WotC stopped printing Traditional Chinese cards after Mirrodin due to the small market, which is a bummer, but it worked out great for me since I was already familiar with Mirrodin cards' art so I didn't have to read the text. The folks I talked to all preferred English cards to Simplified Chinese, as do I actually, other than the exoticism factor. All the paperwork dragged things out for another hour, so it was almost 10:30 by the time we played the first round. I haven't played in forever, and I never did feel comfortable with my shuffling. Mostly psychological, but in a game with as much luck as Magic psych and karma certainly can't hurt. I probably should've played more land, too, with only 16 (give or take a Myr or two) land and not many mana-fixing tricks, which is quite a strong theme in Fifth Dawn. Didn't start well, as I had mulligan my very first hand, but things went surprisingly smoothly after that, as I put the new cards to work with an early Vedalken Mastermind, followed up by a Flameborn Whelp. The firebreathing dragon, backed up by lots of mountains, took him out in three attacks. The Mastermind allowed me to bounce the dragon back to my hand after damage is on the stack, so it could kill "chump" blockers like the 5/6 Qumulox and live, even though it was only X/2. I was in control, but I was playing carefully, so we didn't have much time left for the second game. He got out an early Banshee's Blade, but I was careful to play around it with my array of blockers. I even got out an Vedalken Archmage and drew quite a few cards off of it, but I had to sack most of those artifacts away to the Atog to beat back his attackers. So even though I was killing off his attackers, he was still taking out my cards and building up counters on the Blade. The Blade on an Auriok Bladewarden made it quite a nuisance. The nuisance turned to menace when he dropped Qumulox and Clockwork Condor, as all of a sudden I had 15 points of flying damage incoming. We ran out of time, but I couldn't find enough flying chumps to stop three turns' worth of beating from the flying monstrosities in the extra turns. I could've won if I'd stalled for another five minutes. As it was, a tie was good as a loss, since only W's counted for prizes. So much for T-shirts.

Round 2 didn't start out any better, as I got mana-screwed and didn't put up much of a fight in game one. I stalled on three lands for a long time in game two, too, but an early Bonesplitter-equipped Atog allowed me to get damage through. He built up his lands and laid down a Plasma Elemental and it was kicking my unblockable ass. But I was getting back in the game with fliers, as my gang of Hoverguards (Advanced and Somber) did him in just in time, as the Vulshok Gauntlet on the Elemental made the race real close. We were short on time for Game 3, and we shuffled up and dealt, and he dealt some more, as he had to mulligan down to four cards before he could play. I had the ramp-up in my hand, so I went into turbo-mode to try to finish him off ASAP. Myr to Flameborn Whelp plus Somber Hoverguard finished him off just in time.

Always good to get that first win under your belt. The 1-1 bracket is always a little iffy. Sometimes you run into good players with bad decks, bad players with good decks, or good players with good decks but bad luck. Well, bad deck certainly wasn't the problem with this guy. I was pretty happy with myself with the early Vedalken Mastermind, then resigned myself to a long game when he matched me with his own, and started to worry when he laid down a second Mastermind (in foil, oooh shiny). He also got a mana jump on me with the Pentad Prism, which he could bounce back to his hand with the spare Mastermind. Thankfully I had a Goblin Brawler to hold the ground, as the First Strike ability negated most of the stupid-Vedalken-tricks. I was thinking I may be able to get him through the air when he laid down the Loxodon Warhammer, possibly the most powerful non-rare card in Mirrodin sealed. I had a Rain of Rust in my hand, but aiming it at the Warhammer was futile with the Masterminds in play. I could block-and-bounce with my own weenie + Mastermind, but Warhammer grants Trample, too, so I took my lumps, while he gained life in the process. I got out a bigger blocker which did enough damage to his attacker to force him to bounce it back, too. That only slowed the bleeding though, as the Warhammer was still dominating the board. So one Mastermind was tapped bringing the attacker back, then at the end of my turn, he decided to tap the second Mastermind to bring back his Pentad Prism when he had 130278415 land on the board already. I thanked my lucky stars, then smoked the Warhammer in response. I thought I was in the clear, but then he laid down the Sword of Khaldra, which is one of the most powerful rares in the format. Then even before he could equip the Sword, he tapped out his mana for some trivial reason, so he couldn't activate his Mastermind. I couldn't believe my luck as I Shattered the Sword in response. I wasn't being smashed in the face, but I was getting plinked to death by a Vulshok Sorceress, and an Auriok+Transfixer held off my Hematite Golem. I did have the Lightning Greaves, but I had to keep it on my Somber Hoverguard to prevent him from pinging with Sorceress, bouncing it with the Mastermind, then recasting and ping again (Sorceress has Haste).

I needed something to break the stalemate fast, as my life total was steadily declining and time was running out in the round (again). Turned out it wasn't the expensive bombs that saved my ass, but my smallest guy. Drew the Krark-Clan Grunt and realized that it was the answer to my prayers. Played it, sacked two artifacts to it, and wiped the board of his weenies. He did save one Mastermind, but the Sorceress, Transfixer, and the non-foil Mastermind were all swept away. I lost my own Mastermind, but that was well worth as the way is now clear for my Hoverguards and Golem to smash face and finish him off before he pulled any more unfairness. We started a second game, but we ran out of time soon after and there was no way we could finish in the five extra turns, so I won the round 1-0-1.

Okay, let's finish this off. With all the long rounds, I haven't even had a drink of water since the morning. Was hoping for a fast round and got my wish in the best way in game one, as I dropped equipment the first few turns with artifact lands, so by the third turn I dropped down the Somber Hoverguard for one blue mana, dressed it up with three pieces of equipment (including Greaves), and smacked him for five hasty points of damage. The Whelp joined the party soon after and he couldn't keep up. As well as things went the first game, it was the polar opposite in the second. I mulliganed the opening, then kept a hand that had land but no gas, and he beat me down with beefy green dudes. Whelp and Hoverguards came to play for me again in game three and I killed him before he could ramp up. All done in 30 minutes, thank god.

All that work for four measly packs. Blah. I want a T-shirt.

Posted by mikewang on 11:41 AM