- SCARS OF MIRRODIN SEALED DECK - by Mark Glenister (Views: 748)Wednesday 27th October 2010
I always look forward to the pre-release of a new set with a sense of excitement, wondering what new toys will be unwrapped, what new mechanics it will bring. This is even truer of the first set in a new block, when the flavour of the block is revealed and the intricacies of interaction that will be discovered over the next few months are unveiled.
With the approach of a pre-release, it is always useful to look over the spoiler, or at least peruse the preview cards, beforehand. Not only does this give you a head start in deck building, as you needn’t spend so much of your construction time reading and understanding the new cards, but it also allows you to anticipate tricks from your opponents based on the mana they have open. For example, I took particular care throughout the event whenever I was considering a Shatter for my opponent’s artifact creatures and they had green mana available, because of the possibility they could Withstand Death. Similarly, if I had one mana available after casting my spell(s) for the turn, I would leave green up if I could, representing the possibility of a Withstand Death to nullify my opponent’s removal spell or ambush their attack – even though my two Withstand Death’s remained in the sideboard for the entire event. Knowing the available card pool and hence the tricks that your opponent might play for the mana they have open is essential knowledge in Magic, whether limited or constructed. It is nuances like this that can give you that little edge in Magic, that and opening really good card pools…
Chrome Steed Contagion Clasp Copper Myr Darksteel Sentinel Gold Myr Golem Artisan Ichorclaw Myr Moriok Replica Myr Battlesphere Myr Propagator Necropede Neurok Replica Nim Deathmantle Palladium Myr Razorfield Thresher Saberclaw Golem Silver Myr Soliton Sylvok Replica Vector Asp Accorder’s Shield Culling Dais Glint Hawk Idol Golden Urn Golem Foundry Infiltration Lens Liquimetal Coating Necrogen Censer Nihil Spellbomb Panic Spellbomb Sylvok Lifestaff Trigon of Infestation
Having divided up the card pool by colour it seemed sensible to next divide the big pile of artifacts into creatures, non-creatures and equipment. First impressions were that blue was very weak and red had some vanilla guys plus 2 Shatters and an Oxidda Scrapmelter – I remember just how good artifact removal was in Mirrodin sealed, and expected it to be just as important in Scars with Shatter somewhat akin to Doom Blade in M11 sealed. Among the cards that stood out in the initial sort through were Sunblast Angel and Geth, Lord of the Vault, and after a second read of the text on Liege of the Tangle, Myr Battlesphere and Nim Deathmantle the realisation dawned that my card pool contained 1,2,3,4,…5 great bombs! I flirted briefly with the possibility of a GBWr build playing all my bombs and splashing for the 3 red removal spells, but the stretched mana base would be too shaky so I set to deciding which 3 colour combination would make best use of my pool.
Pulling out the playables and dismissing the chaff in each colour revealed that green and white were deep, black less so but slightly more synergistic with the green Infect theme, and red had little more to offer than the aforementioned removal. I turned to the artifacts to count the ‘playables’ there. I expected them to be deep, but not up around the 20 mark as became evident. Now, my mind was in a whirl – what I thought would be a 3 colour deck could just as easily be mono-coloured! I was heartily glad head Judge Lee Wood had generously extended deck construction time from 30 to 45 minutes.
Experience has taught me that with card pools containing such bountiful options it is necessary to lay out the various builds available, quickly and one after another, whilst mentally noting mana curves and synergies for each. The GWB build looked powerful, but I‘m not a fan of 6-6-6 mana bases and really wanted to play the red removal. The BWr build seemed a little light on solid guys, which left me to choose between GBr and GWr. The former build really pushes the Infect theme to its full potential, but I was unsure just how good this new mechanic would be. The latter build offered more removal in Revoke Existence and Dispense Justice. In the end, my decision came down to a straight comparison between Sunblast Angel and Geth, Lord of the Vault – both are great cards that I would be delighted to open any time, but I figured the Angel’s one-sided wrath effect would have a more immediate impact than the Legendary Zombie’s mana-hungry reanimation plus mill ability. Cutting the last few cards left me with this build:
Sunblast Angel Oxidda Scrapmelter Bellowing Tanglewurm Blight Mamba 2 Cystbearer Liege of the Tangle Tangle Angler Tel-Jilad Fallen Copper Myr Darksteel Sentinel Gold Myr Myr Battlesphere Myr Propagator Necropede Palladium Myr Sylvok Replica
I felt the infect creatures would give me solid early defence against aggressive starts, whilst the 3 mana-producing Myr would accelerate into my Sunblast Angel, Liege of the Tangle and Myr Battlesphere, and five main deck artifact removal spells just had to be good. Time to shuffle up and see whether the deck was as good as it looked.
Round 1 vs Paul Smith
Paul‘s deck had taken the Infect theme to the fullest extent his card pool would allow. His green and black creatures were fast, and able to dish out poison counters at a startling rate. We split the first two games, but Paul’s inability to draw a third mana source until far too late in the game let me take the decider. I sideboarded out the Myr Propagator after game 1 as it was far too slow against Paul’s deck, and thanks to the pre-releases ‘rolling construction’ rules it never made it’s way back in. In came Soul Parry, a combat trick I learnt to appreciate more and more throughout the day as it frequently allowed me to block and kill two creatures.
1 – 0
Round 2 vs Tom Fuegi
Tom has a curious habit of announcing each and every phase of his turn, the colour of mana he is tapping for and even some of his thought processes in which spell to cast. Whilst I applaud any player for communicating the game state clearly with their opponent, I found Tom to offer me far more information about his hand than he needed to. Magic is a game of limited information, so the more you know about your opponents hand and deck, the better able you are to optimise your own play decisions. Like Paul, Tom had chosen to explore the Infect theme, but his deck was no match for my overpowered monstrosity. Myr Battlesphere turned up and showed its worth.
2 – 0
Round 3 vs Peter Thorpe
Peter is one of a group of players that regularly makes the 20 mile road trip from Ipswich to Xtremetrades’ events since their local shop closed down. He succumbed to my bomb rare onslaught with the grace of a seasoned and battle-hardened professional. I was quite pleased to hear he had taken up magic online since we last met, as I think such regular competitive drafting will sharpen his play skill significantly.
3 - 0
Round 4 vs Dean Fierheller
Dean and I shared a lengthy, tense first game. His heavy white, splash blue, artifact deck made excellent use of the synergy by those colours. He applied pressure with some efficient early creatures, then pushed through some more damage by tapping my blocker with Tumble Magnet, then bounced it with Glint Hawk, rinsed and repeated. I got to six land with all three mana-producing Myr in play and Nim Deathmantle (making sure to always have 4 mana open), then stabilised with Sunblast Angel. Finally, I could start eating at Dean’s life total. But, he made a Sunblast Angel of his own, killing my three tapped creatures. Carnage then ensued as I tapped all three Myr for 4 mana and activated the Nim Deathmantle to bring back my Angel at the expense of my now tapped Myr. My 6/7 equipped Angel was able to hold off Dean’s team for quite a few turns, but he eventually recurred his Tumble Magnet to tap my white flyer and finish me off. My fair play nomination must go to Dean for shuffling up and playing at a sprightly pace, which allowed us to get a further two games in. The raw power of Myr Battlesphere saw me through game 2, whilst the lethal combination of Sylvok Replica and Nim Deathmantle (tap 5 mana, kill your artifact, repeat… and again… ad nauseum) allowed me to clear Dean’s board in game 3 and win in extra turns.
4 – 0
Round 5 vs Andrew Curtis
Andrew’s Phyrexian faction Infect creatures, coupled with some red removal (Spikeshot Elder single-handedly owned my team) ripped me to shreds in short order. However, with the game score even again, a timely debut appearance from Liege of the Tangle, attacking and turning my eight land into 8/8 Elemental behemoths, whilst causing Andrew to read, and re-read in dazed disbelief, the text on the big green mythic.
5 - 0
I was fortunate enough to open one of those wonderful card pools that can be built in so many different ways, and despite revisiting it on more than one occasion, I’m still not sure whether I found the optimal build. Whilst more than pleased to win the event with a 5 – 0 record, I could have done with another five matches just to try out the various options afforded by the pool. If you have the time and inclination, I’d welcome your comments and suggested builds, which can be proffered below or by email. Thanks, and have fun with your new toys,
Mark Glenister - firstname.lastname@example.org
MtGO username: magicbusmark
- Pete Thorpe - October 28, 2010, 17:09 Mark openned some very nuts cards and made a power house deck i had won my first 2 games and when coming up against Mark, he dealt with my deck with ease. Very happy to have lost to a great opponent and im looking forward to the next meeting.
- Mark G - October 28, 2010, 20:17 Always a pleasure, Peter. I look forward to it too :-)