M14 Sealed Pre-release Event & Deck Tech and Set Observations
There were (I think) 44 people in attendance for the pre-release sealed event on the Sunday. There had been a pre-release the day before also, and so I tried to wean as much information as possible about the format from those who had played. We played at a local pub because our number exceeded the shop’s capacity. Needless to say, there was not much drinking going on!
I don’t have access to a camera right now, so I painstakingly used Paint to display the relevant cards I opened in each colour. Doubles are indicated by me childishly writing X2 on the card, though I realised after that this does cover some of the cards text. Deal with it.
The top tier in each pile are the cards that really drew me to that colour, while the second tier are cards I would be definitely playing if I were to play that colour. I also displayed the cards in my rating order (from left to right). I did not open many slivers, and so I rated them in a vacuum (pretty low).
Okay, let’s see what my 6 M14 boosters contained…
The rest wasn’t bad either, containing [card]Undead Minotaur[/card], [card]Festering Newt[/card], [card]Tenacious Dead[/card], [card]Mind Rot[/card], [card]Nightwing Shade[/card], [card]Blood Bairn[/card] x2, [card]Dark Favor[/card] and the unplayable [card]Shadowborn Apostle[/card].
I loved the look of the Reaver when I saw it in the spoilers and was excited to see it in my second booster. The problem with black (as always) is that it is harder to splash. Apart from the premium removal Doom Blade, all the best cards here had double black mana in the casting cost.
Overall, black looked pretty decent, but it would have to be at least half the deck.
Runner’s up include; [card]Show of Valor[/card] and [card]Blessing[/card]. [card]Auramancer[/card], [card]Suntail Hawk[/card] x2, [card]Soulmender[/card], [card]Pillarfield Ox[/card] and [card]Pay No Heed[/card] made up the rest of the colour, and were all unplayable. Synergies between Auramancer and [card]Quag Sickness[/card]/Pacifism were not lost on me, but wasn’t a strong enough pull.
The top tier cards are amazing in limited, and with only 1 white mana in their costs I was gagging to splash them regardless of where my colours went. Overall though, white was poor.
Hmmph. I could recognise that if I untapped with [card]Primeval Bounty[/card] it would become exponentially harder for my opponent to win with every turn that passed (probably only 3 turns to become impossible). It’s still not bomb city though is it? I love it for EDH though. Or even just a gimmicky deck ( I’m having visions of playing a [card]Memnite[/card] straight after casting Primeval Bounty, followed by a [card]Gitaxian Probe[/card]…)
The rest of green: [card]Ranger’s Guile[/card], [card]Giant Growth[/card], [card]Brindle Boar[/card], [card]Predatory Sliver[/card], [card]Bramblecrush[/card], [card]Lay of the Land[/card], [card]Groundshaker Sliver[/card], [card]Windstorm[/card]
There wern’t any misses in green, seeing as they are mostly creatures and their creatures are always limited playable. What let this green pool down though was the lack of SIZE! It’s a pile of small creatures and a few tricks. I was determined to play Primeval Bounty regardless though.
NB. Verdant Haven and Lay of the Land are actually quite good because mana fixing suck in M14, but I’ll get into this later.
Almost no misses with blue, but no bombs either. I didn’t play the Wall, so apart from Opportunity I had all commons for my blue pool. I recognised that Trained Condor would be good with green (normally, but my green was too small). I like the okay-go scenario of having counterspells/removal and a Seakite in your hand. Apart from the 5 and 6 drop there are no double blue mana-costs, and I felt confident that blue could be one half of my deck.
Jackpot. In red we find the largest tier 1 amount of cards, with an equal amount of tier 2 cards to boot. Undisplayed cards for red: [card]Lava Axe[/card], [card]Act of Treason[/card], [card]Goblin Shortcutter[/card], Canyon Minotaur[/card].
Unplayables include: [card]Wild Guess[/card], [card]Striking Sliver[/card], [card]Dragon Hatchling[/card]
Shivan Dragon’s art never changes, nor does it’s bombtastic effect in Limited! I am a huuuge fan of Flames of the Firebrand AND Chandra’s Outrage. Shiv’s Embrace is a new card, but turning a Canyon Minotaur into Shivan Dragon seems strong.
One of my favourite cards in the set presented itself to me for testing in the form of [card]Haunted Plate Mail[/card]. I don’t understand why there hasn’t be much talk of this card on the internet. It’s not as good as [card]Batterskull[/card], but not by as much as people might think. Batterskull needs 8 mana spent to recreate it’s body and another chance to be countered – Haunted Plate Mail needs 0 mana. Hmmm. Btw Haunted Plate Mail is insane in limited!
[card]Trading Post[/card] was a Limited bomb for M13 (though not an obvious one) and even synergises with the Plate Mail (can get it back)!
I played the [card]Shimmering Grotto[/card] happily with the knowledge that mana fixing could be a problem.
My assessment of each colour will have made it pretty obvious where I went with the deck. Reluctantly though, as I feel that blue-red is inherently weak in Limited due to it’s terrible creatures and lack of removal for opposing large creatures. Pictures tell more than words though, so here’s what I sleeved.
I honestly had no idea if this would work or not. It’s an aggro-control kind of rig, with my bombs being 4mana artifacts. I liked the Trained Conder + Regathan Firecat pairing, the Time-Ebb + Essence Scatter (if they manage to resolve a bomb before you draw ES), Trading Post + Haunted Plate Mail, Nephalia Seakite + Chandra’s Outrage (options).
Match 1 round 1 – I kept a double island hand because I had an Essence Scatter, Seacoast Drake, Nephalia Seakite. Trained Condor and a Chandra’s Outrage. A bit risky, but I had two plays and any 3rd land gave me a another. I proceeded to draw double red mana spells for a while. Eventually I drew a Forest (the insult!). I didn’t draw my second mountain until turn 14.
Match 1 round 2 – Got mana screwed early and couldn’t catch up. Got killed by an Enlarged creature!
I decided that I could not afford to splash a third colour without fixing.
I removed Primeval Bounty, the Forest and Shimmering Grotto.
I added Negate, a Mountain and an Island.
Match 2 – Red green aggro
I picked off his better creatures with removal and attacked with a Seakite Drake wielding Lightning Talons for the win. Game two was a similar story.
Match 3 – Simic beats with the ‘Netdecker’
These games were close. He was packing Rootwalla’s and other meaty cheap creatures. Round 1 did involve me simply having to tap out to Equip my Canyon Minotaur to swing in for the win; though he had left Disperse mana up and looked confident. Fortunately I called the bluff and went for it. Both games rode on the success of the Haunted Plate Mail. i.e Round 2 he held negate mana open for a while. Once I drew Trading Post I ran out the Plate Mail to get countered, and returned it with the Post a couple of turns later.
Match 4 – Bant fattys
This was a bad match up for my opponent. He spent his first couple of turns Laying the Land while I played a guy and then waited for him to play a fatty. I would then counter it and aura up my creature and attack for the win. He flooded in the second match and had to concede early after I had made a swarm of 1/1 elemental tokens (I won the flip 3 times).
Match 5 – Azorius
These were some good games. I curved out in round 1, countered the right things and got in there for the kill.
Round 2 was a drawn out stalemate where I was top decking lands and pitching them to Trading Post to mitigate the 4 damage his Seacoast Drake with a Blessing on it was doing. Eventually he drew a couple more plains and won the race.
Round 3 was close again, back and forth till eventually I had the upper hand. We were running out of time by this point and I was worried it could result in a draw if he could hold off, but he conceded cheerfully (a relief)! This guy was a total hoot, and narrated the game in an enthusiastic hilarious way.
Match 6 – Bug Aggro-Control
This deck played similarly to mine. It had its own copy of every blue flyer that I had, but was splashing black for two Doom Blades. Green gave him access to Megantic Sliver and a few other fattys.
These games were nerve racking and incredibily close. Both our decks were real grinders, and were often waiting for the other to tap out.
Round 1 – My opponent kept a mediocre hand because of Opportunity. Luckily I had a Negate for it and the game finished quickly after.
Round 2 – After an epic stalemate I finally had lethal on board, only to be killed by the uncommon all-star Enlarge.
Round 3 – The game grinded on and on, and after a while my opponent stopped drawing threats while I started drawing into my 5/3 and Shivan Dragon.
Match record 5-1, finished 5th place on tie-breakers.
It’s a relatively slow format. This makes me wonder if some decks might want to draw first?
Colour fixing stinks, making green quite lucrative with its [card]Lay of the Land[/card] and [card]Verdant Haven[/card] options.
For non-green decks, consider 18 lands if you want to splash.
People were maindecking [card]Naturalise[/card] and Co due to the quantity of enchantments floating around. If you have just one okay artifact you were thinking of playing, don’t bother (giving them a dead card, then side it in for game 2)
Cards like [card]Nephalia Seakite[/card] and [card]Seacoast Drake[/card] make 2/2’s a lot worse. Due to those kind of cards I also found my 2x [card]Trained Condor[/card] to be dead cards a lot of the time.
I played ‘friendly’ games with a few of the guys after we played our official match. Two of my official round losses and two of the friendlies were due to this card!
This is the new [card]Armed//Dangerous[/card] (which was sick!).
Enlarge is better if you have only one or two creatures. It also plays better with creatures that already have double-strike. You don’t need to splash red for it in a green deck, and it costs 1 less.
I love A//D and fuse cards in general, but I think Enlarge may be even better for Limited.
All in all, I had an amazing time and will be heading back for a team Sealed event on Saturday!
Till next time nerds!