Born of the Gods Prerelease

On Saturday began the prerelease weekend for the latest Magic set, Born of the Gods. The ancient Greek themes and flavors of this set are really great.

The way prerelease events work is as a special Sealed event. Sealed is a Limited format where everyone in the tournament is given six new packs of the latest set and they build their deck out of that. This has a lot of appeal compared to constructed, because often people simply don’t have access to the premium cards. Here you’re only dealing with the chance of what’s in your card pool and the skill of building and playing.

For prereleases now, the setup is that each person picks a color. That color is your sealed event box, with a pre-seeded pack with a special promo that replaces one of the six packs. The box also comes with more flavor introductions to how to pair colors and a spin down twenty-sided die to track your life. I think it’s a fantastic way to introduce a set, as well as give new and young players extras to help them play the game more readily.

The lad and I had been looking forward to the new set release for a month. We always do. So we did two events. They’re only three rounds of Swiss, which is prize payout based on won rounds, rather than rank.

Event 1, BU, 3-0

One thing the boy has proven to me again and again is that he’s got a pile of luck stacked higher than a snowbank compared to me. Speaking of, our snowbanks this year are about as high as an elephant’s eye, so spring should just show up now and harvest it.

I picked the black box to start the day, thinking that I like the black pairing with everything. That choice was the solid one, because my pool had one decent card in each other color. This is not what you’re looking for in sealed, because it’s very power-card driven and I had access to nearly none. My one saving grace was in the last pack I pulled an Ashiok. It basically forced me into blue-black, one of the most solid pairings in the format.

I don’t think Ashiok fully helped me win more than a single game, but she’s always so solid. Plus I’m planning to build a deck around her for Standard for fun, so getting another is always gravy to me! In the end though, I managed a full 3-0 because the deck could always stabilize while I was half dead and eventually take over the matchup.

The Lad, however, went with the red box, similarly chosen because he plays well with anything combined with red. Plus its promo was a cool dragon, and was one of the better ones. Then he pulled the dream card of the day for him: the new lesser god, Mogis. That black-red god, especially in limited, is nuts. It lands on the battlefield, has nearly no answers, and you win in five turns. He played well and enthusiastically and went 2-1 for the afternoon. Oh, and to top it off, with his winnings, he pulled two more gods. I pulled a second copy of something I would never play.

Event 2, UR, 3-0

We skipped the second afternoon event to do dinner and whatnot, then came back for the evening event. For this one, I picked blue and the Lad opted for green. Then we’ve covered four of the five promos, and we both picked colors that we like as a basis for the rest of the deck.

My blue was definitely strong, but the rares I pulled were nonsense. I pulled two of the triple-cost Fated cards, basically meaning they were unplayable. I wound up with the worst pairing of colors, blue-red. Red or black were my choices, but red had the earlier removal I could possibly play. Black had the better creatures, but only three of them, so not much was worthwhile there.

For blue, it was all won on the backs of Griptide and the promo Arbiter of the Ideal. Red had a couple bits of removal, and Fall of the Hammer is definitely a strong card in this set. And Akroan Conscriptor is worth mentioning. I absolutes loved Zealous Conscripts in Innistrad block. While Akroan Conscriptor is clunky in needing to be targeted, the reactionary theft of their creature makes combat very complex and look terrible if you’re on the other side of the table.

The boy however, nailed his green deck with a splash of blue. I think it was great, with the promo hydra and a pair of the very efficient Courser of Kruphix. A 2/4 for only three mana is way ahead of most creatures in that curve, plus it nets lands and life. He actually wound up pulling a third one in his victory pack too, so we have a solid base for future green decks on Friday nights. Unfortunately I think the boy was just tired and since the crowd was small, he wasn’t as enthusiastic to play so he went 0-3. I played him for one of the rounds and I think if he’d been just slightly more aggressive, he could have trounced me.

Wrap

The day was good and I like that I feel increasingly comfortable in limited formats. I’m 3-0 in getting top in the monthly drafts at Village since they started. I like the level playing field and more game skill involved, not that I don’t really enjoy constructed as well. Friday Night Magic is bread and butter for my gaming.

Once again though, I came across obnoxious people around me. There was a father-son pair just a bit older than the boy and I. But it was really weird hearing them talk similarly as I would while my buddies and I play our weekly online game. I’m fairly sure that when those two were playing and the dad made a strong play, the kid called him a dick, half jokingly. It was still really weird and does plenty explain why I didn’t like playing against that boy at an FNM a while back either.

There’s a worthwhile safe distance between parent and child that I think needs to be there. The parent needs to be a questioned authority for certain, but still the respected ruler until the child has actually grown up. I’ll grant some parents don’t deserve it, but in cases like that I think it’s more a matter of just surviving your own childhood and breaking away when you can.

I’m glad I can say my son’s name and he’ll instantly cool his jets if he gets over-enthused and devolves into monster mode. He needs that check and me being able to teach him those limits has already made hime more aware of where and when things like that are appropriate. Also, I’m enjoying watching his mind think increasingly strategically and when facing down an unbeatable play, respecting your opponent and just enjoying the game and its interactions. He takes to it well, knows readily what’s rude and what’s polite, and I think will pass on the healthy gamer attitude to his sister as well.

First FNM of 2014

This week for Friday Night Magic, I ran a new BWR midrange deck that’s something of a rebuild since last rotation (I miss Olivia Voldaren and her vampire friends.) It’s primarily based around removal and Obzedat, Blood Baron, and Aurelia. The full deck list is thus:

EF BWR Midrange Goodstuff

Creatures 10
3 Boros Reckoner
3 Obzedat, Ghost Council
2 Blood Baron
1 Stormbreath Dragon
1 Aurelia the Warleader

Spells 25
3 Chained to the Rocks
2 Boros Charm
3 Dreadbore
3 Read the Bones
1 Hero’s Downfall
3 Anger of the Gods
1 Mizzium Mortars
2 Rakdos Keyrune
2 Warleader’s Helix
1 Whip of Erebos
1 Assemble the Legion
2 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
1 Rakdos’s Return

Land 25
4 Godless Shrine
4 Temple of Silence
4 Sacred Foundry
1 Temple of Triumph
4 Blood Crypt
2 Plains
4 Mountain
1 Swamp

Side 15
1 Mizzium Mortars
3 Thoughtseize
2 Slaughtergames
2 Wear / Tear
3 Shock
2 Glare of Heresy
1 Whip of Erebos
1 Dreadbore

Before going into my games, I had the lad with me running a Gr Devotion deck we built this week. He previous ran a Gb Devotion deck that had a lot of similar stuff, and a Selesnya (GW) Hexproof that I thought he would do well with but was apparently trickier to pilot than I realized. This build aimed more toward pumping mana into hydras, but as you can see, I traded off all my spare Savageborn Hydras. We’d love to have a play set, but what can you do?

The Lad’s Hydra Devotion

Creatures 29
4 Elvish Mystic
4 Voyaging Satyr
3 Karometra’s Acolyte
2 Rubblebelt Raider
4 Mistcutter Hydra
4 Arbor Colossus
1 Savageborn Hydra
3 Polukranos the World Eater
2 Ruric Thar
1 Nylea, God of the Hunt
1 Borborygmos Enraged

Spells 8
2 Gruul Charm
3 Clan Defiance
2 Ranger’s Guile
1 Hammer of Purphoros

Land 23
2 Shrine to Nykthos
2 Gruul Guildgate
4 Temple of Abandon
4 Stomping Grounds
2 Mountain
9 Forest

Side 0

The boy did well the first two rounds, putting him to 2-0 and at a higher rank than my early 1-1 record. I do think that his deck with the pair of Ranger’s Guile in it to protect the main powerhouses makes for a much more durable situation. But once you start winning, you get paired up with the guys more my level who devote more time to the game and have greater discipline. No matter how amazing a kid’s deck, and no matter how well it can suit their play style, they can simply be out-played by more seasoned folks. He had fun with it, but burnt out by the end because 40(!) people showed up and it was after midnight before we headed home. That’s 5 hours of gaming, folks. He’s a trooper.

Round 1, Golgari Midrange 2-1.

In the first match, I faced a Golgari (BG) control deck. It was an interesting build, featuring Reaper of the Wilds, Nylea, Erebos, Underworld Connections, and Bubbling Cauldron. I won the first game, never falling below 15 life, though the match went on for a while. His deck had mana acceleration in elves and caryatids, it seemed mostly to power out an early Reaper and try to hold the game from there. But mostly he kept tapping out, which surprised me. There were plenty of times had he been more patient, he could hold back mana to make his Reaper hexproof. But since he didn’t, I killed them regularly until I got a Boros Reckoner and Obzedat online to hold my side and win.

Game 2 I didn’t seem to go anywhere. My notes don’t say anything other than my life dropped sharply. I think I kept a Reckoner on my board, but he had Erebos and Nylea and her Bow running around. Trample and deathtouch get damage through, what can I say? Game 3 was more handily in my control, though he hit me with a lot of Newts early on. I may have taken a mulligan that game. However, it went long and amazingly, I was able to drop an Aurelia and give her double-strike with a Reckoner on the ground to push past the last 10 damage and win. It was quite a finale, as people walking by two turns previous thought I was hosed, but then I pulled out a win. It was very satisfying and just a really fun matchup.

Round 2, Jund Devotion, 0-2.

This second matchup was a non-starter. He was playing an aggro/midrange deck in Jund colors, but I never saw much of it. Both games I got stuck on two mana until the turn I died. The most function I saw of his was a Rubblebelt Raider, Mistcutter Hydra, and Shrine to Nyx. The devotion after playing a Rubblebelt Raider got a decent-sized Hydra and I died shortly thereafter. The last game, I should have used a kill spell rather than run out a Reckoner that got immediately killed before he ended the match.

This one was most frustrating because this is one of those people I just really hate to lose to. There’s an obnoxious and immature vulgarity to him that drives me bonkers, and he talks constantly. By the end of the match, I was really tilting, something I try not to do. I want really hard to be better at this game, and giving this guy a win without even putting up a fight was more painful than it ought to be. It’s just a game, but it’s also my only hobby and outlet.

Round 3, White Token Lifegain, 2-0

This match was fun, but it wasn’t a contest. Playing someone I respect was a relief. But for this night, he was running a silly mono-white deck he threw together based on tokens and lifegain. I really liked the interactions he was playing with, but there’s not much to compete with when I can pull off a turn-four Assemble the Legion and am backed with a Reckoner and removal.

Round 4, Golari Scavenge, 2-1

This was another cool Golgari deck. It featured Varolz the Scar-Striped, Reaper of the Wilds, and Lotleth Troll, all cards I personally like too. However, I don’t think he realized the possibilities of all the regeneration he had. There was a board-wipe I pulled off only because he didn’t realize that he could regenerate Varolz against Anger of the Gods. Anger says creatures that die from that damage are exiled, but if a creature regenerates, then it never dies. But I think people read it as ‘killed and cannot be regenerated’ instead. So that lack of knowledge played into my advantage. But generally, Obzedat unanswered backed with remove will win games, albeit slowly. He had a lot of Wasteland Vipers that kept Oz from attacking in profitably.

Round 5, Mono-White Devotion, 0-2

This was another tilting round for me. He was running mono-white devotion based around Archangel of Thune, Heliod, Ajani, and Spear. After the first game where I was once again stuck on 2 mana, I sided in Shock, Glare of Heresy, and Thoughtseize. But it was for naught. We got to a board stall, where I had a Reckoner and leftover Elspeth soldiers, but he had a Heliod and could pump out tokens. One thing for him that worked was Soul Tithe as removal. He knocked out an early Assemble the Legion because of it. It targets any permanent, so it’s a good way to tie up mana on big things that come out early, and a turn four or five Assemble has to be answered or you will lose to it.

I think I’ve realized tonight that I tilt hard when I lose to obnoxious people. I lose games regularly, but I can do it with a smile and handshake if it’s someone I respect and especially if the game actually plays out and they outplay me. Those are the guys I learn from who will chat about different options after the match is over. Or if it’s a younger player that dumps out their hand and simply gets me before I get them, that’s a good game too (like losing to the boy’s Hydra deck during our testing). I’m fine with that and happy to encourage people along. But when they’re scouting and obnoxious and cussing piles more than necessary, they lose my respect and I really want to beat them. This guy seemed alright when I first met him, and we’ve wound up paired up each week for the past month, but I’ll be glad when he heads back to Wisconsin for school.

Round 6, Dropped

The night was getting long and the boy and I were both out of running for extra wins, so we dropped. I did one extra game for fun with Devon who’s a great deck builder and was running the mirror deck, though with plenty of different cards. He and Tom were great to compare notes with, and I really liked how Mutavault played in Devon’s deck. No creatures on board, but a Rakdos Keyrune and Mutavault in the wings meant he could still whip out 5 damage a turn if the board was clear. He helped convince me that Read the Bones was rough, but perhaps a trio of Magma Jet and more scry land will smooth out those rougher starts. I think I want to lean more on cheaper removal in general. Cheap removal plus awesome creatures that win games on their own sounds like a game plan.

Takeaway

Playing out my deck more and chatting with other players, I think it’s fair to say that they’re right: Read the Bones is not good in my deck. I sided it out regularly because it was dead in my hand. While it’s necessary for me to get more card draw and filtering, Underworld Connections and more scry will be better for it. I picked up another Rackdos’s Return and a fourth Boros Reckoner, and I think they’ll both go in the main, as well as a play set of Thoughtseize. I think wrecking peoples’ hands early, then playing the unbeatable stuff sounds like a stronger way to go.

I do really like the deck. I love having value from everything I play. And you don’t care if things get killed, because they’ll just have to deal with the next big threat that I drop. I didn’t play against any control decks tonight, so that could change more of what I think. I do run two Slaughter Games in the sideboard to get rid of their win conditions (Aetherling, that foul, wonderful, awful card), but the additional discard abilities would probably be be stronger there too.

Not a bad night, and we were glad to leave as a sleet storm was coming in. Roads were gross going home and M had already texted me to be careful. Everyone in the store bid me to be careful out there too. It’s still great to know that it’s a good place we go to when we’re out to game. Other places I’ve heard about can be just terrible to players, but Village Games has really worked hard to build a friendly locale for everyone.

The Future Of Everything…

Scientists have developed a form of synthetic rubber that repairs itself.  I originally found this on BBC News, but couldn’t get the video to play at the time and since forgot about it.  But it has resurfaced again.
I can’t help but feel that this is going to spark something.  Materials that mend themselves?  How could this not be one of the greatest things invented?  It still blows my mind a bit.  The possibilities are limitless, really.  As soon as a mass manufacturing process comes about, and it sounds like the ingredients are plenty easy to come by, our world will start looking quite different.  Like looking back at the first half of the 20th Century and seeing toys only made out of wood or metal.

And I tell you, as a father to an impressively boisterous son, toys that can put themselves back together will be handy-dandy.

Oh, and as a Minnesotan: rubberized roads that mend themselves?  Best.  Thing.  Ever.