I attended three Born of the Gods pre-release events last weekend. I bestow unto you a tournament report combined with general BofG (Born of the Gods) observations.
If you are not in the mood for a big read, then you can always skip ahead to the end for the Conclusions!
My friend David and I drove to Spellbound Games not long after 11pm for the Midnight pre-release. Our plan to procure some sandwiches from an
untrusty petrol station went awry due to it being closed, so we got some chips and cheese from a takeout joint. Topic of discussion? What colour to choose! The factors taken into account gravitate around the ‘seeded’ booster, so let me explain this oddity:
- The seeded Booster includes the promo for your chosen colour.
- It contains 7 cards in your colour, and two each of the other colours.
- The rare is guaranteed to be on colour.
- There are only 8 different boosters for each colour – most can all be seen here.
- There is a God assigned to each colour, and they do not show up in other seeded packs.
In direct response to these hear-say whispered urban-myth like ‘facts’, here was the logic process:
- The Blue promo Arbiter of the Ideal cannot be killed by Lash of the Whip or Rage of Purphoros. It has evasion and isn’t a punishment card like Nessian Wilds Ravager. Plus, it costs only 6mana!
- Blue has the strongest commons in BofG, of which the seeded booster will brimming!
- Uhh. Apart from Tromokratis, the Blue rares are pretty weak for Constructed. Even then, the guy costs 7mana. This almost put me off blue..
- Not knowing if Blue yielded the 1 in 8 chance of opening Ephara, God of the Polis or Phenax, God of Deception was another deterrent. Black, on there hand, would yield either Phenax or Mogis, God of Slaughter – both Limited Powerhouses.
My friend Fyvie and I received the same seeded booster – the one with Mindreaver (pack 4). This guy is a straight up swing and a miss for Limited unfortunately.
My pool suffered from have pinches of heroic enablers and heroic creatures in each colour, but still not enough to even combine two into a Bestowic deck. That’s right, I just made up a word by combining ‘Heroic’ and ‘Bestow’. Patent Pending..
My Blue was nowhere near enough to be playable, and so my Blue promo Arbiter of the Ideal and Tromokratis sat forlornly on the bench while I sleeved up a Rakdos aggro deck with eight 2 power two drops.
Match 1 – Azorius
This was against a splendid fellow with a beard also known as the ‘Duggernaut’. He had picked White and was playing Azorius Bestowic packing no less than two Eidolon of Countless Battles! I got wrecked.
I took this opportunity to hastily change my deck. Cheap bear-based aggro decks can work in the draft format, but bombs rules the roost in Sealed. I laid out an Azorius Bestowic deck of my own, but with only 4 Heroic creatures and 4 ways to trigger them.. I ditched blue again and started desperately riffling through my rejected pile of Green cards. In there awkwardly hiding behind useless cards like Setessan Oathsworn lay …
[draft]Centaur Courser : Centaur Courser : Snake of the Golden Grove : Snake of the Golden Grove : Nessian Asp : Vulpine Goliath[/draft]
Hooray! Starting a curve at 3 is actually not that bad in Sealed, but I did my best to reduce it by pairing these heavys with a White weenie mini-bestowic theme.
Match 2 – Boros
Conveniently this was against my friend, and so he helped resleeve my new and improved deck. Despite picking Blue, he was playing a Boros midrange/heroic deck. In two of the games I was able to gum up the board with this clunky pairing:
[draft]God-Favored General : Karametra’s Favor[/draft]
This inspired cycle are very costly to keep running, and essentially you have to temporarily suspend playing cards and devote your turn to the inspired trigger. Karametra’s Favor allowed me to get on with my life that bit quicker due to the mana it provides, and allowed God-Favored General to become tapped safely. Fortunately for me he lacked Flying creatures which allowed me to make around 12 tokens or so un-hassled.
Match 3 – Dimir Control
I was surprisingly paired up against Paul the Shopkeep. He’s a very good player, and so is usually the end boss to a night at Spellbound Games. He was sporting a Dimir Control deck after choosing Blue for his colour.
The games were pretty close, but ended 2-1 in his favour. He managed to make good use of a seemingly poor rare – Fated Infatuation. Game 1 saw him copying Eater of Hope and game 3 he did the same with Arbiter of the Ideal!
I found Snake of the Golden Grove to be a great card all weekend, but especially against Voyage’s End‘s and Griptide. It is a 4/4 that gains 4 life 80% of the time. When your opponent pays tribute you know they must have removal for it, yet when you get the life boost it indicates that they don’t. This gives you a warm fuzzy feeling.
Match 4 – Boros
For the final match I was paired up against Calum battling with a Boros Bestowic deck sporting Hero of Iroas. The mana reduction he provided was not enough to get far enough ahead for when the Big Dumb Green monsters came thundering in.
Nessian Asp man. No one is ready for that jelly.
A problem with Theros-BofG Sealed is that all the colours have heroic creatures and triggers for them, but sometimes you get them all over the place and you have to just build a theme-less midrange/control deck. I was impressed by the removal black had to offer at common rarity, and was set on trying out Black for the next day.
We left the shop to head home for some sleep before the big tournament the following day.
Almost every second spent upon waking was discussing what colour we would be choosing. I like to stick to my guns till the bitter end, in which I switch to Blue. This time I managed to stay strong and embraced the Dark path however. My friend Larry did the same and cracked a Mogis, God of Slaughter and Herald of Torment. He built a low curve, 16 land Rakdos aggro deck that looked amazing on paper. However, with so many Bestow and other aura buffs in the format, creatures out class aggressive 2 drops pretty quickly. The deck did not do well.
My friends all opened Gods and/or Planeswalkers on colour with their playables, and while I did open a Thassa, God of the Sea, I couldn’t convince myself to sneak her into my Golgari midrange/control deck. It was close though! Highlights of the deck were:
[draft]Fate Unraveler : nessian asp : shrike harpy : disciple of phenax : asphyxiate : nemesis of mortals : keepsake gorgon : graverobber spider : Lash of the whip : lash of the whip[/draft]
The rest was just filler. Lash of the Whip was amazing in this format! Instant speed checkin’ attacking creatures before they wreck themselves, destroying 2 out of 5 of the Promo’s, 2 for 1’ing would-be Aura punks. Good card, would play again.
Fate Unraveler also proved his worth over and over, always surprisingly big at 4mana. The damage he accrues also creates inevitability for long games, of which there were many. Not mentioned in the highlights but cards that never disapointed were also Necrobite and Marshmist Titan. Necro never failed to trade up and played like a pseudo Murder most of the time. The Titan generally cost me just 3 mana, and twice I got him out for 1!
Match 1 – Junk
I had to cut cards to make my Golgari deck. My poor opponent Matthew had to go three colours just to make enough playables. His Junk deck had a similar slow, attrition based theme to it. Being two colour meant that my one ran a lot smoother though, and the games were over relatively quick.
After (and during) the match we ended up providing endless rulings and card explanation for the two beginners next to us.
“No, equipment’s don’t trigger Heroic.” “
“Everything you cast is a spell.”
It truly is a beautifully complicated game with hundreds of rules and interactions. Chess and Poker are great examples of games that are easy to learn, but very difficult to master. On the other hand, Magic is hard to learn. It then appears easy once you know the basics, before becoming dauntingly hard again when you realise how deep the skill abyss is that surrounds competitive play.
Match 2 – Dimir Control
Something magical happened. My opponent knew me from writing these articles and said he really likes them! Such validation would keep my mental state buoyant in even the darkest of times. I could have went on to lose every game and I’d still have been satisfied.
My deck had a pretty powerful late game which caused me to edge it for both games. An interesting interaction came up involving regeneration (possibly the most misunderstood mechanic of magic). [<<DRAWING OF SAD MECH>>]
I found myself making this block against Tromokratis.
He ordered them so the Gorgon would take 6 and Eater of Hope would take 2.
I had already sacrificed a creature to the Hungry Hippo of Hope to net him a Regeneration shield. My opponent then casts Drown in Sorrow, on the thinking that Eater of Hope will then die due to having his toughness lowered, and thus dies to a state based check and cannot regenerate.
Drown in Sorrow reduces Eater of Hope to a 4/2 (that currently has 2dmg on him). However it is the damage that is lethal, and the Regeneration does it’s work (When the creature would be destroyed).
Match 3 – Golgari
A regular named Graeme sat across from me with the mirror – a Golgari showdown. When you a grinding for value, it’s times like this that you feel even more grateful to have Keepsake Gorgon in your deck.
Keepsake Gorgon is without a doubt on of the best uncommons across the two sets, providing:
- Double black devotion.
- A mana sink.
- A guaranteed 1 for 1 (due to having deathtouch).
- An easy 1 for 0 when made monsterous.
Also, a card that was less good for this matchup, but still playable was Drown in Sorrow. Every time I it during the weekend it was amazing, and there was so many board states in which I longed for it.
These games were really close, but I came out with a 2-1 win for the match. Fate Unraveler did a lot of damage in these games.
Match 4 – Various
This match marked a first for me.
Going into game 2 I get a strange feeling as I cut my opponents deck.
“I’m sure this was sleeved before…” I wonder to myself.
My opponent opts to draw which also surprised me. My deck prefers the draw but not as much as his prefers the play.
He then leads off with a Swamp.
“A third colour!? This is madness!”, I think to myself.
After a second Swamp it dawns on me..
He had ‘sideboarded’ a completely separate deck – Dimir control!
I suffered the pain of a Flitterstep Eidolon bestowed onto a Nyxborn Triton. When I managed to deal with this, Flitterstep upped the stakes by being bestowed with Spiteful Returned. On my last turn I tried to Lash of the Whip the Spiteful Returned before combat so I would not lose to the life loss. I had hoped this would buy me a turn, on the incorrect assumption that Spiteful Returned had not been a creature since the beginning of my opponents turn. This is incorrect, as summoning sickness only cares about if the permanent was under your control since the beginning of your turn; think man-lands like Mutavault for example.
Spiteful Returned stayed true to his name and finished the job.
Read the Bones went back in for the third, match deciding game. I also brought in Setessan Starbreaker for this matchup. This card is borderline maindeck-able due to the prevalence of Auras in this block, but can just miss on some decks.
Match 5 – Selesnya
I won the big Theros pre-release Sealed event a few months back, on tie breakers. Andrew was also 6-0 that day with a nuts Minotaur deck running Rageblood Shaman and 3 Kragma Warcaller‘s! Fortuneatly for me that day, our decks did not meet on the battlefield. I could not help but feel that this was some kind of Karmic grudge match, champion vs champion.
Game 2 saw my back up against the wall for the first ten turns or so, before I was able to stabilise and start landing fattys. They took home the bacon.
Game 3 was disastrously reminiscent of the first game, only Fleecemane Lion became monstrous this time.
Good game Andrew!
Match 6 – Dimir Control
This opponent had chosen Blue and was bringing Dimir midrange/control to the table. Our decks played relatively similarly, sharing a lot of the same decent black cards (Asphixiate, Keepsake Gorgon, Shrike Harpy). Where my deck had Green adding big creatures to the equation, he had Blue adding bounce effects like Voyage’s End or Griptide. This actually means that I have inevitability on my side, as this only delays my creatures. Thus, Blue is most powerful in the mid game for this format.
Game 1 had us neck and neck for the most part, until we reached this board state:
I attacked with Shrike Harpy as this ensured lethal next turn. My thinking was that Fate Unraveler and Graverobber Spider could double block Tromokratis and he could only kill one of them (I had around 4 creatures in the graveyard for the Spider).
Tromokratis does NOT have Lure. Other than having the choice to not block at all, the key difference is the word “able”.
By controlling any creature that is tapped, unable to block or on a toilet break will render you unable to block Tromokratis.
So this mistake cost me that game! What a foolish folly for not following through on my own advise of ‘ALWAYS READ THE CARDS’!
This is no comeback story – I stumbled on land game 2 and finished the day with a record of;
I stayed up till 4.30am drinking with my friends and sneaking in a cheeky wee draft online. Highlight of that game – our Sealock Monster getting Boulderfalled! This seems like a bit of a flavour fail to be honest -just look at the pictures for these cards. The Octo-monster would just whip and bat away any rocks that got hurled into it’s Sea. That’s his house!
For the Theros Sealed pre-release I had underestimated how quickly things would get started on the Sunday. This led to Blue and Black being GONE! I had to pick Red. Fortunately this meant I had loads of Ill-Tempered Cyclops, but that is a different story.
We rocked up to the venue nice and early this time and had time to get breakfast at a Greasy spoon. Different ideas for what colour were flying around, but I paid no heed. I had came to the decision that having a boost in Blue commons was better than anything else.
I had a mixed pool. There were no stone-cold nuts cards, though I did have the bane of my existence – Tromokratis. A spicy Dimir control deck was singing to me, but I was greedy. I had a Battlewise Hoplite, Ephara’s Enlightenment and a Floodtide Serpent that all demanded I play Azorius Heroic. I had a pretty decent amount of enablers like Retraction Helix and Stratus Walk but simply not enough small creatures. I playtested a hand of this unreliable concoction and curved a turn two Favored Hoplite into a turn three Ephara’s Enlightenment. I was sold!
Match 1 – Mono Red
How foolish I was. My opponent had sided with the colour Red and had cracked two Oracle of Bones in his pool. Both of these hasty mind-games inducing chaps were attacking me by turn 5 while I was clutching a hand of heroic enablers with an empty board. Game one to the sick Red deck. One of the Oracle of Bones cast a free Read the Bones – epic flavour win!
Game two saw me managing to stem the bleeding early and take over the late game with a Sealock Monster and Tromokratis.
Alas, game three was a reflection of game one. I managed to buy some time with Retraction Helix and Voyage’s End but was overrun in the end. I should mention now that Retraction Helix is awesome in the block. It can safely get an inspired trigger, heroic, or just Into the Roil something. The downside of it being unusable without a creature never came up all weekend.
I felt like a deflated balloon. There was no chance that I could win the tournament now. I could still go 5-1 though, so I rebuilt my deck into the Dimir deck I originally flirted with. Conveniently, I have the decklist right here:
Drown in Sorrow
Read the Bones
Lash of the Whip
Sip of Hemlock
Servant of Tymaret
2 Weight of Conscience
Gray Merchant of Asphodel
Arbiter of the Ideal
How I ever justified not playing this from game 1, I do not know.
Match 2 – Golgari
I met Calum from the midnight pre-release in battle once more. The Golgari and Dimir midrange/control decks operate at a pretty similar pace in this format. Fortunately I had a few fattys of my own to try and keep up with the repertoire of oversized green creatures I would be facing from turn 5 onwards.
Game one saw him attacking with a Sedge Scorpion for a cumulative total of around 15 damage. We also had a Servant of Tymaret dance off for most of the mid game. I was able to squeeze value out of Mnemonic Wall and Keepsake Gorgon to slowly take care of all his creatures, leading to an eventual win.
Game two was relatively similar, except my deck ran like an absolute dream. Lands and on-curve spells kept finding themselves in my hand at the right time, and it was over relatively quickly (for a Dimir vs Golgari Sealed game).
Match 3 – Going deep
To tell you what this deck is, would ruin the fun. My opponent Michael hit off with a turn two Voyaging Satyr and not much else in this game. He flashed in a Horizon Chimera at one point which got swept away with the rest of his team by my sandbagged Drown in Sorrow. By this point I had a mean looking crew of creatures who quickly finished the job.
Game two it all became clear when he cast Chromanticore. This thing is a beast if you are able to cast it! I also punted myself during this game by trying to Asphyxiate a creature when he had Springleaf Drum in play. This is an interaction I was aware of, and I felt very silly indeed.
A mistake I made during sideboarding was disregarding Gainsay. I felt it was too niche to bring it in for one card (albeit, a game winning one) and yet I had forgotten that it would have had two more targets in the Horizon Chimera‘s.
Game three had me watching in horror as all the pieces of the multicoloured manabase assembled, leading to a bestowed Chromanticore on to a Nessian Demolok. I was starting to take over the game at this point, but a Flying, First Strike, Vigilance, Trample, Lifelink 10/10 tends to swing the game a bit!
Good game Michael Petrie!
Match 4 – Azorius
There is little to report here. My opponent mulligan’d to 5 for the first game and had to keep a one lander. Not being under attack for the early game is essentially my decks dream. I was way too far ahead before he was able to cast spells.
Game two showed an Celestial Archon and Heliod’s Emissary among other generic Blue & White playables. The Archon got bestowed onto Heliod’s Emissary and bashed me for a ton. He also had a Perplexing Chimera on the battlefield at this point, making my hand of a Sealock Monster and Voyage’s End look less appealing than normal.
Match 5 – Gruul
I had 2x Fanatic of Xenagos in my sealed pool – fortunately Kris did not. This deck was stompy enough without their help! Both games were incredibly close, with him getting me down to 2 life in the first game and 4 life in the second. Each time though, my late game Dimir power was able to see it through. This savage interaction did most of the damage in game two:
[draft]Hero of Leina Tower : Fall of the Hammer[/draft]
Two of these and my Gorgon and Octopus were dead and I was being attacked by a 10/10! When I initially saw the Hero in the spoilers all I thought was ‘Bant Auras hexproof playable maybe’ – not Fell of the Hammer /any Fight effect!
Good games Kris!
Match 6 – Orzhov Control
These were some interesting games. My opponent, Graeme Fletch, was playing another slow Bomb orientated deck. The aggro bestowic decks are blisteringly fast, but if you don’t have the cards for them, slow-bomb orientated control is a fine second for this format.
We traded early creatures and removal until this sweet play came into fruition. I played my Keepsake Gorgon (as I so often did this weekend) only to have it die by Asphyxiation. I was not too put out though, as I followed up the with a Sealock Monster on my next turn. Then I passed the turn…
During my end step Graeme cast Fated Return targeting my dead Gorgon. He untaps and makes it monstrous, destroying my Sealock. I am now facing an indestructible 3/6 with Deathtouch with an empty board.
To take a leaf out of Anchorman’s book – “Boy, that escalated quickly… I mean, that really got out of hand fast.”
I knew I had to try and stall out till I drew a Weight of Consciousness as it would be able to deal with my converted Gorgon effectively.
A Grey Merchant of Asphodel had helped drain some life, but after throwing a couple of creatures under the bus and taking some damage, I was down to 6 life.
I drew Weight of Consciousness. And a weight was lifted from my shoulders (unlike the poor guy in the picture). I then slammed Arbiter of the Ideal and started swinging. The Arbiter insisted on hitting lands, which is fine as it allowed me to draw into Griptide quicker. See where this is going?
During his endstep I cast Griptide on his indestructible Gorgon, putting it back on my library. Arbiter untapped and had the inspiration to put the Gorgon on the battlefield for me. I went monsterous with the gorgon and won shortly after.
Game two was far quicker and one sided. Fletch cast a turn 4 Heliod, God of the Sun. I started getting out valued pretty quickly but I tried to buy some time by applying pressure with Returned Phalanx and even Retraction Helix’d Heliod at one point. I had Sudden Storm in hand though, and had the one out – drawing Tromokratis and getting in two unblockedable attacks (he was only at 15). No dice though!
For game three I was able to get in the driver’s seat by the mid game, allowing me to keep the pressure up. Towards the end I started a bit of Mnemonic Wall + Sim of Hemlock + Voyage’s End abuse, and was able to get the win.
- Like most Sealed formats, you should opt to Draw first.
- If you have a high curve then do not hesitate to play 18 lands.
- Blue is the strongest colour, due to the large number of good commons it contains.
- Tromokratis must be blocked by all creatures you control, not all able.
- Do not cast Asphyxiate if your opponent has a Springleaf Drum :(
- Retraction Helix, Nyxborn Shieldmate and Necrobite are three of the best commons in BofG, though they don’t look it.
- Activate monstrous on your opponent’s end step.
I am working on Block brews currently, and will have an article up on them shortly – stay tuned!
Till next time nerds,