It’s release time once again here in Cumbria, and M15 has a lot in store for us to play with.
Before I get onto the article, I just want to point out I really like the new borders — we hadn’t had a card frame redesign since 2007, when the cards turned all fresh and colourful.
The New M15 Border Design
The only thing I don’t like about the new design is that the black cards don’t look much different. The addition of the hologram, however, is something I really like for two reasons:
- The first is minor, but it makes looking for rare cards much faster, which makes sorting out collections much easier.
- The second is that — for the time being at least — it makes them much harder to fake. The recent flood of high quality fakes hitting our shores has had a massive effect on the community, especially on the Facebook pages where people have ended up buying and selling or trading these fakes, and a lot of new players wont have the card experience to actually detect the differences.
Rock, Scissors, Frog
Enough of bordertalk — let’s move on to a more fun matter. When playing with M15 I noticed that three cards stood out as ‘fun‘ cards. Remember Rock Lobster et al, The set of three cards in the Unglued expansion which were based on the classic game of rock, paper scissors? Well, here’s the M15 version: rock, scissors, frog – also known as Meteorite, Ensoul Artifact, and Witch’s Familiar.
Here’s how it works: shuffle the three cards and lay them out side-by-side. Each player picks one and applies the following: rock (Meteorite) smashes scissors (Ensoul Artifact), but gets sat on by frog (Witch’s familiar), which gets stabbed by scissors (Ensoul artifact). So rock beats scissors, scissors beats frog, and frog beats rock.
I used this to determine who would go first in each game to add a little M15 flair. Admittedly frog isn’t an ideal paper replacement, but the closest I could find was Sign in Blood, which is way less fun.
Throughout the draft, the deck really just drafted itself and took next to no planning or skill. This time no-one was drafting red, so great red kept on coming — a few cards I had my eye on came round and I wasn’t really hate drafted by anyone.
Out of the 45 cards that I drafted, 35 were red, so it turned out my decision to force red was a good choice. It was a little painful letting good cards in other colours fly past me instead of taking more red creatures to support my cards, but I had to bite the bullet a couple of times — Charging Rhino wasn’t going anywhere.
My first pick was also Yisan, the Wanderer Bard, so building away from green was tough. The rares I picked up were all off-colour, apart from from Burning Anger — Sliver Hive, Yisan, Shivan Reef, and Life’s Legacy. The deck I ended up with looked and played like a pre-constructed deck:
Round One is called and I sit against my first opponent. The tournament was made up of two 8-man pods, and as I was almost definitely the only heavy-red deck in my pod I figured it would be unlikely I’d face against another.
Rock, scissors, frog. My frog sits on his rock I go first: match one and I was pitted against a White/Green deck that threw a lot of life gain at me. Oreskos Swiftclaw with a Divine Favor was exactly what I didn’t want to play against, especially when joined by a couple of Soulmenders.
He mulligans to six, and a combination of Borderland Mauraders and Foundry Street Denizens, backed up with my Will-Forged Golem and Paragon Of Fierce Defiance takes him to 12. He gains three to take him to 15, then takes two more, then dies. Inferno Fist took it home over the top.
I mulligan to six, but his life went from 18 to 13 to dead — he drew horribly into over-costed cards. I did get attacked by a Soulmender for four though, and it’s always embarrassing getting pummelled by a 1/1. We figured the game loss was pretty much just down to Calcify, as I had Lethal on the board when he cast it.
Result: 2-1, 1-0
My thoughts after the 1st match were that enchanting an Oreskos Swiftclaw with a Divine favor hurts, and is actually a valid draft pairing. Forge Devils eat Oreskos Swiftclaw really well though. Overall my deck plays out very aggressively — with small beaters and removal, it can swarm early and take over the game. Borderland Marauders were pretty stellar.
This was against a green-black splash red monsters style deck which swarmed out vampires and slivers. Sadly, my scissors get smashed by his rock.
My starting hand of three Lightning Strikes and four land was adventurous, but it rapidly battered him to six. I just needed a few little creatures to finish him off, but two Child of Night and a Gargoyle later he was back to 16, and I was belly up.
Foundry Street Denizen, aka Dirty Den, and Inferno Fist punched him to 17, then my opponent signed his own blood to 15. Dirty Den and his lady partner Borderland Marauder (Maude for short) got him for lethal without much of a fight. He did Fog my killing blow only to scoop the next turn.
I mulligan to six and he plays an early Child of Night backed up with a Netcaster Spider — the life totals sit at 23 and 16 before my Forge Devil jumps on the vampire’s head and lets me stabilise to play Maude and Krenko’s Enforcer. I batter him to five without much resistance, and he scoops his land signalling his concession.
Result: 2-1, 2-0
Black control with a green splash this time. Three Mind Rot, three Black Cat, and Waste Not were the basis of his deck. Typical black strategy even for a core set. Before the match starts, his frog gets stabbed by my scissors.
Forge Devil kills Typhoid Rat, Devil trades with Black Cat and a Mind Rot puts me on low cards in hand. Luckily, a pair of Borderland Maudes and a Paragon are already down, and he scoops after checking the top of his deck.
Devil kills a cat before picking up Inferno fist but it goes downhill from there. I get battered around after two Black Cat triggers and two Mind Rots ruin my hand, but I get him to six with a Lava Axe and my Paragons. I manage to squeeze him to one life but he stabilises and throws a Shadowcloak Vampire at my face until I die, while all I drew is land, land, land…
Dirty Den hits him, then Dirty Den hits him with an Inferno Fist, then Dirty Den tag teams with Borderland Maude to hit him to three life. He plays Witch’s Familiar, which I pop with Lightning Strike, and Dirty Den takes it home.
Result: 2-1, 3-0
My frog got stabbed! This was the match I didn’t want — I hadn’t seen a lot of red around the room so I assumed that someone had drafted like me and gathered all the red on the other draft table. The mono red mirror was here.
A mulligan to six was not a great start — being down a card in an aggro mirror can really put you back, but then so can one land hands. I came out of the gates running and right into a Brood Keeper.
My opponent gave her an Inferno Fist, made a Dragon Baby, sacked the Fist and killed one of my guys. The Brood Keeper, aka Daenerys Targaryen the Khaleesi, and her Dragon Baby slapped me for 14 over two turns.
Borderland Maude and Inferno Fist got him to 12 before he played Soul Of Shandalar, forcing me to Lightning Strike it twice. On his next turn, he exiled it from the graveyard and killed the Borderland Maude before playing Krenko’s Enforcer, which dropped me to eight – from that point even a Stoke the Flames and Lava Axe couldn’t get him below three.
Result: 0-2, 3-1
Afterthoughts? My first loss of the day and it was Brood Keeper that swung the game. Fire breathing on a flying creature – I couldn’t get my removal online quick enough. Soul of Shandalar was unsurprisingly a bomb, and I was simply out-drafted with better cards and didn’t have the reach to get his last three life off him. It happens!
A red/green monsters sort of deck this time.
He plays an Elvish Mystic, which my Forge Devil eats, and I played Borderland Maude and Inferno Fist before convoking an early Will-Forged Golem, which also picks up an Inferno Fist. Eventually I battered my way though his Wall of Mulches, Verdant Havens and Wall of Flames.
Result: 2-1, 4-1, 2nd place
My afterthoughts on the game are: ramp hurts and monkeys [apes] kill you quick. It was a close match, a game of small tweaks here and there. My opponent did make a small mistake which cost him the match though — he played a Hunter’s Ambush which ended up saving my creature from lethal.
Red is amazing in draft for M15. Obviously every colour has a good number of good cards, but why not try forcing mono red next time you do a draft? Also of note, there was a mono blue deck with three Ensoul Artifact, four Ornithopter, and two Illusory Angel backed up with a great defensive suite.
Well, I hope you enjoyed my little M15 adventure. I’ll leave you with my advice for Standard post M15 – especially financially: grab those pain lands, but Jace and Nissa will drop. If you ain’t usin ’em, flog ’em!
As for Standard inclusions for M15: put your Sign In Bloods into your mono black devotion deck, and use Liliana Vess as an extra Thoughtseize – she pressures control nicely and her ultimate is hilarious with a few Gray Merchant of Asphodel. Dig out your Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth to smooth out the mana.
Also, keep an eye on Boss Sligh as its mana has just became a lot smoother, and remember that Polymorphist’s Jest can quash a lot of creature-based strategies — keep an eye out for it in sideboards.
See you soon, and in the meantime may all your draw phases be kind.