April 27, 2008

Shadowmoor Prerelease

Shadowmoor Prerelease After the horrible 0-2-drop waste-of-time at the Ravnica pre-release tournament, I pretty much put Magic out-of-mind. I was better off spending time with the SO anyway. However, I kept getting the DCI spam emails and I clicked on the Shadowmoor Pre-Release notice on a lark. Found out that the Taipei pre-release was being held within walking distance of home instead of being way out in Jiantan. Then the SO mentioned that she had a brunch date that day with a college friend. So I decided to dust off my DCI number and get back into the game.

The emphasis on the set was the use of allied colors. Similar theme in previous sets have been supported by mana-fixers and multi-colored lands or other mana sources. In this set, the multi-color flexibility comes from the hybrid multi-colored cards themselves, where the color-mana costs may be paid with either allied color. This eliminates the possibility of color-screw, and even allows easy splash of a third color through the use of another set of hybrid-color cards. Similarly, enchantments and abilities are designed to offer advantages to each set of allied colors.

The pre-release offered one starter and three boosters. Had to register our decks which I feel is a total waste of time at a pre-release, but I guess Taiwan players are just that lame. All that registration work didn't leave much time for deck construction, and the complex multi-color possibilities made it a real brain-twister to put together a smooth construction.

I had a boatload of U+W cards so that seemed like a good base to build from. There were some real nice G+R fatties but not quite enough support in the individual colors themselves. W+G offered some nice weenies and other tricks, though. So I went with primarily U/W, the blue mostly coming from hybrid U+W cards which lets me play fewer Islands for more Plains. Also threw in the useful hybrid G+W cards that could be powered with white mana so I didn't have to waste land slots on Forests. As befit the color theme, I had plenty of fliers and tricky weenies but not much beef. A few creature enchantments for beefing, topped off with white removal and blue trickery for spells like Turn to Mist, Last Breath, and Æthertow.

Round 1 (0-0)

I nervously shuffled up for my first competitive Magic match in almost three years. My opponent was about college-age and seemed like a tournament regular type. He had R/G fat. He got out a Spawnwrithe early which smacked me around plus got him clones. Other weenies hit me as well while I built up. A Trip Noose held back at least one of his guys during this time to keep me in the game somewhat. I finally put down a Kithkin Rabble which became quite formidable when I armed it with the Steel of the Godhead. Got in one swing which got me back in the game thanks to the Lifelink. But then he found his Trip Noose to neutralize my threat, and I couldn't find enough other blockers (even with a Rhys The Redeemed making elves) as more fatties beat my head in.

Took some early hits in the early game but was starting to drop fliers which were starting to threaten once I armed up with the Steel of the Godhead. But he found the answer with a Conspired Burn Trail to take out my guy plus the Enchantment and the card advantage was too much to overcome.

Round 2 (0-1)

Man it'll suck if I go 0-2 again but I was determined to stick it out this time. Got matched up against a younger kid who seems like an ABC type as he spoke American English with his friends. Once again I got off to a slow start and couldn't really hit back as he whittled away at me. Ashen Gouger is a killer as a 4/4 for 3 mana in either black or red. Can't block don't matter when he's just wailing away. 2xGianbaiting took a big chunk out of me, even with Æthertow at the ready to bounce an Ashen Gouger. The bounce backfired as he slapped down a Cragganwick Cremator which flung the Gouger right back at me to do the last 4 points.

I'd been choosing to go second from old habit for the extra draw, but I finally realized that this is a fast environment and I needed the extra tempo so I started deciding to go first. Turned out to be a good decision as I was able to get in some early hits with weenies. He started to hit back with a Hungry Spriggan but I found a Whimwader which couldn't attack but held back his fatties. He had one more trick with Tower Above on a Hollowswage, which hurt but he forgot to force me to discard with it when it untapped. By then I'm taking to the air with Rune-Cerwin Riders and Glammer Spinners. A Flashed Thistledown Liege knocks out his final defenses and the fliers took it home.

He got down a Manaforge Cinder for mana fixing early but he didn't have enough land. He also missed out on attacking with the Cinder for a couple of turns before I got out my weenies who were able to plink away at him for a while. My Briarberry Cohort and Rune-Cerwin Riders could hit him thru the air but I was mana-shy, too, so I couldn't pump up the Rider. Meanwhile he has that damn Gouger again. Another Giantbaiting hit hard, thankfully no Conspire. A Spectral Procession provided a clutch of chump blockers and flying attackers. The Thistledown Liege pumped up my guys just enough to outrace him before he mustered enough mana to drop the big threats.

Round 3 (1-1)

Yay, my first Magic match win in almost three years. The third round featured a college-aged player who seemed like he knows what he's doing. Up against B+RU this time. Both of us built up at first but I missed my 4th land drop just as he played a Dusk Urchin which hit my defenseless self until it went to the graveyard and got him card advantage on top of that. Knew I was in trouble then. He laid down an unblockable Inkfathom Infiltrator followed by the flying fatty Kulrath Knight and that was that.

Got down an early Somnomancer to peck away a bit. Armed it up with the Steel of the Godhead for a big 4/3 Lifelinked swing before he toasted him with burn the next turn. The Liege got roasted, too. By now he's built up the mana to start dropping bombs. Managed to hold back the Hollowborn Barghest with a Whimwader but I didn't have answers for the damn Infiltrator and Knight once again. A final Tower Above to make sure to kill me off ASAP.

Round 4 (1-2)

Well, this is it. Playing for that one extra booster pack. Was matched with an American English teacher from Michigan. I get the perfect start in game 1. Safehold Elite second turn followed by the Shield of the Oversoul on the third to swing for four and kept on swinging as he was badly mana-screwed and couldn't stop the flying Elite.

He put up some resistance with weenies of his own and we trade off one and two-point hits to start. My Spectral Procession evened up the numbers and a Last Breath put me ahead in the numbers game. Then I put down the Augury Adept and slapped the Steel of the Godhead on her the next turn for a 4/4, unblockable, Lifelinked attacker who gave a card and life every time it hit him. Almost felt bad as my super-Adept slapped him down, since he was a nice guy, but I was happy to end the day with the win.

Summary (2-2)

I think I played reasonably competently without making too many errors in the combat exchanges. So I beat the bad players and lost to the good players. Probably didn't help my rating much. But .500 record was about what I was hoping for, so no regrets there, and even just the couple of wins was a boost to my confidence after the long layoff. Enough for me to be getting that itch again...

Posted by mikewang on 06:38 PM