Having opened five booster packs and drawn two special lands (both of which were of incidentally irrelevant colours), a contender for the worst rare of the set, a tutor for green creatures that I just didn’t have, and an, admittedly, awesome equipment my first impressions were not too optimistic. That is until from the depth of pack six shone the magnificent Massacre Wurm. With an evil grin that would put an Evincar to shame it bursts forth, chews up your opponents weenie horde, spits them at his life total and then sits there smirking menacingly….until the next turn when he eats your opponent too. +1 Bomb Rare. +1 Optimism
Match 1 Deck: Black/Green Infect (or: What the hell was I thinking!)
2 Rot Wolf
Other Spells (9):
Possible Sideboard cards:
Rares aside I did draw more than my fair share of removal spells- most notably in Black and Green. Barring the odd
Galvanic Blast/Turn to Slag/Into the Core there really was no doubt that these were my colours. 2 Spread the Sickness, 1 Grasp of Darkness, 2 Sylvok Replica, 1 Virulent Wound and even a Pistus Strike for siding in against heavy flyers. Green Sun’s Zenith 2 Viridian Emissary and a Phyrexian Rager granted some card advantage. A smattering of good equipment and a game finishing Wurm rounded out the deck. Now, however, we step into Infect territory which really really REALLY turned out to be a dumb idea. Adamantly refusing to learn any lessons from Scars of Mirrodin I tried to once again force Infect into a deck for no good reason. Looking back now I realise I had only 8 Infect creatures in my deck. Many of which were downright poor (Phyrexian Digester I’m looking at you).
Match 2-6 Deck: Black Green Beatdown
1 Myr Sire
Other Spells (9):
Possible Sideboard Cards:
After being schooled in round one I had to drastically rethink my deck. Infect was out. Good ol’ fashioned beatings was back in. After briefly considering a Drake/Eel blue flyer charade I reasoned that the core of my Green/Black deck was solid it just needed to have the Infect element replaced with conventional doods. Moriok Reaver and Blistergrub aren’t gods but they fit the curve nicely. Pierce Strider and Dross Ripper adequately fill the Hill Giant boots with bonus upsides. The only Infect guy to stay was the Phyrexian Juggernaut. It really doesn’t matter if he’s working counter-productively to your goal if he’s gonna finish his job in two swings. Even if he has no self control he does give you one turn of immunity followed by a level of aggression they have to find an answer to. After playing this build from Round 2 onwards, and seeing how well it curved, hindsight reveals how deluded I was in my initial Infect strategy.
(Note that this report was written on a whim several hours after the event having not taken any notes at the time of the report. Therefore it is highly likely that I have misremembered certain events and names. For this I apologise.)
All my memories of game one are mostly shrouded by a cloud of malevolent mana screw. Plus I completely neglected to see Intimidate on my Nim Deathmantle despite my familiarity with this 3 month old card. Sometimes when a card has so much upside you can’t take it all in. My demise came at the hands of a Forestwalking Koth’s Courier of all things. I jimmied around with my mana to put the bias more in favour of black. Not because I wanted to avoid Forestwalk. I just needed more black.
Nathalie got off to a good start with mana myrs for both her colours plus white as well. I had access to acceleration in the form of Emissaries but having to lose them to get the card wasn’t so great when a Blisterstick Shaman pinged on arrival. We traded a Shaman for a Rotwolf but with her amassed mana she was soon able to bring out a hoard of mid strength fatties like Tangle Mantis, Gnathosaur, Ogre Resister and Fangren Maruader all of which eat Infectious weenies for breakfast. Despite getting the Massacre Wurm out and swinging for a mighty seven poison counters via Tainted Strike I was not able to stabilise.
Conclusion: Infect is not the way to go. 0-2 Loss
Round 2: Philip. White/Red Battlecry Mirran
Having re-outfitted my deck with a more conventional force I moved nervously onto round 2. The games turned into an army building contest with little early movement. Blister Stick Shaman, Myr Propagator, Loxodon Partisan on his side and Phyrexian Rager, Blister Grub, Moriok Reaver and Flayer Husk on my own. Once Kuldotha Ringleader dropped and threatened to put the Battle cry count into nasty numbers I was getting rather worried. Thankfully Tangle Hulk and then Massacre Wurm arrived in succession to wipe the board and provoke a scoop on the grounds that I had way more guys than a 1/2 and a 2/2 could currently cope with.
Conclusion: Traditional beats works. Infect can go walk in front of a train full of buses. 2-0 Win
This first match stood out for me as my favourite one of the day although I’m not sure my opponent felt the same way seeing as I ended up winning. Nevertheless it became a titanic struggle with lots of back and forth: the kind I like. There were at least three separate occasions I thought I had definitely won and at least three times I was sure I had surely lost unless I pulled something good on the next card. Early swings with Veridian Emissary proved that no-one really ever wanted to block this guy in case his land fetching reveals a critical second or third Swamp. Both sides looked even with Ogre Resister, Skin Render, Blister Stick Shaman and both red and black Replicas on his side; and Tangle Hulk, Sylvok Replica, Phyrexian Rager and double Emissaries on mine. We traded kill spells, life points and sacrificial gains until a Kuldotha Flamefiend took out two for one including a Tangle Hulk without spare mana for a regen. With the situation looking bleak a table turning Massacre Wurm top-decked into game saving mode. Inevitably Skithiryx chose this moment to appear to put the game back in contention with a Copper Carapace to provide a possible two swing win if he could risk not blocking. Both of us were in dire straits life-wise. I ended up throwing Massacre Wurm into the Dragon confident that he couldn’t regenerate having tapped out and he was happy to just cripple my big guy. Having survived the fight the Wurm was still able to chip a few life points off a dwindling total and so when Pierce Strider jumped off my library next turn the three point life drop proved fatal.
The second match proved slightly more straight-forward this time around with my kill spells matching up with his plays with uncanny timing. Grasp of Darkness on Sangromancer, Replica on Lumengrid Gargoyle and Spread the Sickness on Skythyrix after he’d been played with no mana to spare. It was still close with the game coming down to final plays but the clincher was when he confidently aimed at the throat of a fatal Tangle Hulk without realising that, being an artefact creature, it had no throat to go for.
Conclusion: Killing Skittles twice was much welcome catharsis after the beating I received from him at the Scars of Mirrodin pre-release. Pierce Strider is a minor marvel. Go for the Throat is not Doom Blade. 2-0 Win
Round 4: Doug Bane (cool name). Green/Black Phyrexian Infect
A true honest-to-goodness Infect deck this time around. We both happily traded Emissaries for mutual land gain and he had the Plague Myr for further acceleration. An Infectious flyer in the from of Flesh-Eater Imp provided a worryingly fast death clock and I eagerly traded chumps to stop the likes of Phyrexian Digester and Scourge Servant from taking me too close to a black gooey demise. Although a timely kill spell settled the Imp’s hash for good. The, obscenely big for an Infect guy, Phyrexian Juggernaut prompted me to slap him with an obscenely big Untamed Might fuelled weeny. Morbid Plunder brought back his two biggest corpses for another go. I was left topdecking for answers and ultimately denied. First Infect win of the day that I’d seen. Pity it wasn’t mine.
Despite a mulligan down to five cards the next game proceeded slightly better with no sign of the Imp and his buddies and me able to take modest swings at his life total. The Juggernaut still showed his ugly mush but he caught a Sickness and turned inside out with no Morbid business to recur him. The game so far had taken way longer that it had seemed and time was called with both of us in contention for a win but with me 0-1 down I had to win to force a draw. It went down to the wire again with him rocking out a colossal 10/10 Bonehoard showing how bloody the battle had been thus far. He was on two life and I had a 2/2 and a 1/1. Although he only had one blocker it was a given that he would block the fatal two and survive on one life. Once again the power of Mise supplied a Darksteel Axe giving both of my creatures sufficient power to snatch a win irrespective of which one he blocked.
A combination of colours I totally didn’t expect to see today. Although I was unrealistically expecting a totally even split of red/white aggro, green/black infect. A mixture of moderate flyers like Darkslick Drake and Skinwing and grounded white defensives like Priests of Norn, and Gore Vassal with a couple of neato equipments like Mortarpod and Darksteel Axe. Most of which go down nicely to Grasp of Darkness and repeated Replica/Nim Deathmantle shenanigans. His first game was mostly mana screw for him which was unfortunate. I sided in a Pistus Strike considering the flyer bias.
The second match was slightly more competitive but my own Phyrexian Juggernaut lumbered in equipped to the nines with a Deathmantle, Flayer Husk and Darksteel Axe. It was only the two -1/-1 counters that he had received from a Vassal and a Priest that stopped me from having a power ten Infectanaut. To add insult to injury the game actually resulted in death by poison and life loss at the same time. This guy definitely didn’t have too much luck with his packs. The only removal he drew was Vedalken Anatomist, Gore Vassal and Mortarpod– nothing spectacular. He had a bomb in the form of Phyrexian Rebirth which would have done him nicely if it ever came out but, alas, it remained hidden.
Conclusion: 2-0 Win
Round 6: Michael Mono-White Metal Craft.
After introducing myself my opponent revealed that he had a cat with the same name as me and went on to show me a few pictures on his phone. I insisted that if he ever spawned any Cat tokens from White Sun’s Zenith then he must use his phone as one of them.
After some weird business where round 6 match-ups were re-distributed we were still paired, albeit, relocated to a table with worse chairs.
Game one was a total bust for me. Ezuri’s Archers, Viridian Emissary and Green Suns Zenith tutoring into a second Emissary seemed like a good turn one, two and three but nothing presented itself after that. Meanwhile, opposite, a swarm of Origin Spellbomb and Master’s Call Myr tokens amassed plus a Sylvok Lifestaff wielding Sunspear Shikari. Golem Artisan put the boot in stopping me from getting any favourable trades. The Green Zenith returned having been shuffled back into my deck but with all three of my green creatures on the board it really didn’t help. I had to trade all three of my doods just to stop the Artisan and no answers arrived to get me back in the game.
Game two saw a mulligan and mana screw for him and a return to form for my deck with cards turning up when I needed them. Massacre Wurm finished it.
Game three was much a repeat of game two without so much mana screw on his side but, thankfully, my deck had now decided to behave. The Lifestaff got dealt with by an early Replica. Pierce Strider saw the bad side of Divine Offering– negating the life loss. The weeny horde amassed again but with the majority of them running at toughness 2 the arrival of a Massacre Wurm was once again a death knell leaving nothing but an impotent and bewildered 0/2 Loxodon in opposition.
Conclusion: 2-1 Win
End result: 4-1-1
6th place out of 43.
Overall I was pleased with my draws and my deck. After initial teething problems with an ill-considered strategy I was able to run a deck that performed admirably and efficiently. There was only one game where I felt that it wasn’t doing as it should.
Most of all I enjoyed myself a whole bunch: thanks, in no small part, to my marvellous opponents. Apologies, again, if I have misnamed any of you. Quite a few of you had the same initials. A big thanks goes out to ManaLeak.com for putting on another stellar Magic event.
Spread the Sickness: Irrespective of targets for proliferate an unconditional, splashable, kill spell is nothing to sneeze at.
Virulent Wound: Poison aside, a worthy weenie killer and combat trick although not as tricksy as Stabbing Pain. Furthermore it can result in you getting less -1/-1 counters on your guy in the midst of a melee. Deals with Ichorclaw Myr, Accorder Paladin and mana Myrs.
Flayer Husk: Although I never really mentioned this guy he turned up in many games as a much welcome one drop that stays relevant for the entire match. I figured Living Weapon to be a great Metal Craft and Infect enabler but it works everywhere. Plus Germ Token=Adorable snot ball.
Phyrexian Rager: Possibly my favourite reprint of the last few years. Love the art. Love the card draw. Even, perplexingly, love that it costs me a life point.
">: I had it pointed out to me how abusive this card is gonna become in coming months. Even without any fatties to tutor for Zenith for a Veridian Emissary never failed to be a welcome 3 drop every time that you don’t have a Rager.
Veridian Emissary: Marvelous card and one of the few sources of mana acceleration outside of Myr and immune to the deflated feeling you get when someone takes out that Myr you absolutely needed. I’m not sure +1 Power is better than the sacrificial versatility of the similar Sakura Tribe Elder of yesteryear but I appreciated that no-one ever wanted to chump him.
Massacre Wurm: Accounted for 80 per cent of the wins I amassed in game that he turned up in. Not much more to say.
Myr Sire: A chump blocker that replaces himself. Worth considering to fill out the curve in less aggressive decks.
Phyrexian Juggernaut: An infect creature you can run in any slow deck irrespective of Infect depth. Scary for an uncommon.
Manaleak.com Tournament Centre Mirrodin Besieged Pre-release Videos.
A quick walkabout.
Mirrodin Besieged Prerelease Game A.
Mirrodin Besieged Prerelease Game B.
Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing,
PS: All will be one 🙂