Today I would like to share my pre-release experience and my thoughts so far of M15.
I attended this past Sunday my local store in London to participate in one of the sealed events. Normally I don’t mind waiting until the set is available on Magic Online to play some sealed decks and booster drafts, but this will be the set to be drafted on the Pro Tour in less than three weeks and I wanted to have as much experience with the new cards as possible, and as soon as possible.
I understand the idea of giving an in-color booster in the pre-release to help new players to decide which colors to play, even if it is not the best for competitive purposes (you get overpowered decks with more playables than you normally would in a regular 6 booster packs sealed deck event), but I like the fact that decks in pre-releases looks more powerful, almost like drafted decks, which is the format I am looking to understand most.
I opened my 6 booster and my first impression was that I got very powerful rares, these are the six cards:
The green sorcery is not actually good in limited, but the other four spells are bombs for sealed. Unfortunately, I got one rare of each color, so I was not actually going to play a +4 bombs deck.
In the meanwhile, players around me were opening their own packs and showing around what they got, that’s when I understood that my pool of rares was not actually that strong at all, as it turns out; there are A LOT of bombs in this core set. So for drafting the format, my initial thought is:
Do not expect to be handed boosters with rares still in them at the start of the draft, and consequently this will affect your ability to read color signals.
Moving forward with the rest of the cards, it was clear that white and red were the most powerful combination I had. The plan of my deck was clear at simple:
This is the full list:
1 Battlefield Forge
1 Forge Devil
1 Goblin Kaboomist
1 Oreskos Swiftclaw
1 Generator Servant
1 Borderland Marauder
2 Heliod’s Pilgrim
1 Belligerent Sliver
1 Midnight Guard
2 Krenko’s Enforcer
1 Scrapyard Mongrel
1 Razorfoot Griffin
1 Seraph of the Masses
2 Raise the Alarm
1 Inferno Fist
1 Marked by Honor
1 Spectra Ward
1 Heat Ray
1 Blastfire Bolt
1 Sanctified Chargep
1 Brawler’s Plate[/deck]
I wasn’t so sure about the equipment, it looks very slow, but I wanted something more than just auras to help my little guys take on my opponents bigger guys, it was also a bonus with the Mongrel. I ended up cutting the card most of the time for a better sideboard option, sadly it just didn’t impress me much.
In general, I was very happy with my deck, a very aggressive Boros build with two tutors to get my best bomb, which I expected to end every game every time I successfully attach it to a creature.
After the fifth and last round I was 2-3. Not what I expected.
Some very unlikely things happened to me during the rounds, for example; I tapped seven lands and dealt one damage to myself to cast a 1/1 flier; the only time I won a coin flip with the Kaboomist was against a UW deck that only played four creatures during that game (3 fliers and a 0/7 wall) I drew my second Pilgrim twice after having no more auras in my deck (which is depressing); I also drew two auras in turn 1 and 2 after having one and one Pilgrim in hand (even more depressing); and if you think I should still be able to win those games I couldn’t tutor my auras because I had them all already, I lost two games with two or three auras in hand being unable to untap with a creature in play.
Finally, making my day even “funnier”, two of my opponents resolved [card]Will-forged Golem[/card] (4/4 artifact creature with Convoke) the turn after I enchanted a 2/2 with the [card]Spectra Ward[/card].
Even if I give some blame to my unlucky draws for my negative result, I think I made the same mistake I did during the M14 pre-releases: I built an aggressive deck, playing too many two drops, in a slow format full of 2/3s and removal.
I don’t have enough information about the set and the format yet, but for what I saw during my games and other games, I think M15 is going to be a slow format, just like the last core set.
I will like and will try to get 1-2 drafts in the next few days to get a better idea about the set before it is released on Magic Online. I would love to think that this is going to be a skilful format like M14 was, and although I am not sure if I enjoy the slow and long games– I do remember that all the good players doing well in M14, and that’s how Limited is always supposed to be.
What about Constructed/Standard?
I would love to already have a secret tech or innovation for the new Standard (to be played in the Pro Tour), but the truth is that I still have nothing. I really like [card]Nissa, Worldwaker[/card] and I’ve been trying and will keep trying to find her a home. The problem right now is that she really fits best in Mono Green Devotion decks, which is a deck with quite a bad match-up against Mono Black and also not a particularly good match-up against [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] decks.
Jund MONSTERS could make use of her too, but with less [card]Forests[/card] the second ability becomes almost non-existent and putting more non-creature spells in the deck just makes [card]Domri Rade[/card] worse (which is by far the best Planeswalker of the deck).
Urborg and Pain Lands will see play for sure and I expect [card]Battlefield Forge[/card] and [card]Llanowar Wastes[/card] to be the most popular ones.
I will keep trying to break the format, but I already believe it is almost unbreakable. The most popular and best performing decks are well balanced and have a good match-up against all others. The best thing to do is to try predict the metagame and then make sure that whatever deck you are playing; you’ve got a good list of it against that metagame.
UW and similar control versions, Mono Black and MONSTERS can adapt very easy to improve their matches against each other. Then Mono Blue and Burn can surprise in the right circumstances. I don’t really like any of the other decks around (versions of White weenie, Hexproof Auras, Mono red with creatures, Dredge) but there will be present, in small numbers and will punish whoever forget about them.
Personally I’ve been doing very well online with MONSTERS in the last week and will likely play that at the Pro Tour itself if I can’t find something else I feel more comfortable with.
Long before the last Pro Tour I had the feeling and wanted to play Caryatid and Courser, but this time is not different. I know at the moment that means what I just said: playing MONSTERS, but hopefully I will find something a bit different with those cards, and if it has [card]Nissa, Worldwaker[/card] in it then even better.
If you are brewing around and have come up with something new that can reliable beat 3 of the 5 top decks (UW, MonoB, MonoU, Burn, MONSTERS) without being horrible against the remaining two, then please get it touch and share! I would love to hear good ideas going on around.
Also if you got a different experience from your pre-releases, I would like to hear them as well. I didn’t see anyone winning matches by being very aggressive, but maybe it was just in the tournament I played.
Until the next time, have a great day.