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 [card]Rock Lobster[/card] 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 [card]Meteorite[/card], [card]Ensoul Artifact[/card], and [card]Witch’s Familiar[/card].
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 ([card]Meteorite[/card]) smashes scissors ([card]Ensoul Artifact[/card]), but gets sat on by frog ([card]Witch’s familiar[/card]), which gets stabbed by scissors ([card]Ensoul artifact[/card]). 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 [card]Sign in Blood[/card], 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 — [card]Charging Rhino[/card] wasn’t going anywhere.
My first pick was also [card]Yisan, the Wanderer Bard[/card], so building away from green was tough. The rares I picked up were all off-colour, apart from from [card]Burning Anger[/card] — [card]Sliver Hive[/card], Yisan, [card]Shivan Reef[/card], and [card]Life’s Legacy[/card]. The deck I ended up with looked and played like a pre-constructed deck:
2 [card]Foundry Street Denizen[/card]
2 [card]Forge Devil[/card]
5 [card]Borderland Marauder[/card]
3 [card]Krenko’s Enforcer[/card]
1 [card]Goblin Rough Rider[/card]
2 [card]Paragon Of Fierce Defiance[/card]
1 [card]Will-Forged Golem[/card]
3 [card]Inferno Fist[/card]
1 [card]Burning Anger[/card]
3 [card]Lightning Strike[/card]
1 [card]Stoke the Flames[/card]
2 [card]Lava Axe[/card]
Notable Sideboard cards: 2 [card]Generator Servant[/card], 1 [card]Tyrant’s Machine[/card], 1 [card]Act On Impulse[/card], 2 [card]Wall Of Fire[/card]
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. [card]Oreskos Swiftclaw[/card] with a [card]Divine Favor[/card] was exactly what I didn’t want to play against, especially when joined by a couple of [card]Soulmender[/card]s.
He mulligans to six, and a combination of [card]Borderland Maurader[/card]s and [card]Foundry Street Denizen[/card]s, backed up with my [card]Will-Forged Golem[/card] and [card]Paragon Of Fierce Defiance[/card] takes him to 12. He gains three to take him to 15, then takes two more, then dies. [card]Inferno Fist[/card] took it home over the top.
This time a flurry of [card]Oreskos Swiftclaw[/card]s, [card]Oppressive Rays[/card] and and [card]Mass Calcify[/card] end me quickly. Not much to do here.
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 [card]Soulmender[/card] 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 [card]Oreskos Swiftclaw[/card] with a [card]Divine favor[/card] hurts, and is actually a valid draft pairing. [card]Forge Devil[/card]s eat [card]Oreskos Swiftclaw[/card] really well though. Overall my deck plays out very aggressively — with small beaters and removal, it can swarm early and take over the game. [card]Borderland Marauder[/card]s were pretty stellar.
As well as a quick swarm, the deck also has a lot of reach. With three [card]Lightning Strikes[/card], two [card]Lava Axe[/card]s, [card]Stoke the Flames[/card], and three [card]Inferno Fist[/card]s I have 24 points of direct damage.
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 [card]Lightning Strike[/card]s 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 [card]Child of Night[/card] and a Gargoyle later he was back to 16, and I was belly up.
[card]Foundry Street Denizen[/card], aka Dirty Den, and [card]Inferno Fist[/card] punched him to 17, then my opponent signed his own blood to 15. Dirty Den and his lady partner [card]Borderland Marauder[/card] (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 [card]Child of Night[/card] backed up with a [card]Netcaster Spider[/card] — the life totals sit at 23 and 16 before my [card]Forge Devil[/card] jumps on the vampire’s head and lets me stabilise to play Maude and [card]Krenko’s Enforcer[/card]. I batter him to five without much resistance, and he scoops his land signalling his concession.
Result: 2-1, 2-0
Match afterthoughts? No surprise here really — the lifelink of [card]Child of Night[/card] with backup like [card]Ranger’s Guile[/card] really proved troublesome for me.
Black control with a green splash this time. Three [card]Mind Rot[/card], three [card]Black Cat[/card], and [card]Waste Not[/card] 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.
[card]Forge Devil[/card] kills [card]Typhoid Rat[/card], Devil trades with [card]Black Cat[/card] and a [card]Mind Rot[/card] 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 [card]Inferno fist[/card] but it goes downhill from there. I get battered around after two [card]Black Cat[/card] triggers and two [card]Mind Rot[/card]s ruin my hand, but I get him to six with a [card]Lava Axe[/card] and my Paragons. I manage to squeeze him to one life but he stabilises and throws a [card]Shadowcloak Vampire[/card] 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 [card]Inferno Fist[/card], then Dirty Den tag teams with Borderland Maude to hit him to three life. He plays [card]Witch’s Familiar[/card], which I pop with [card]Lightning Strike[/card], and Dirty Den takes it home.
Result: 2-1, 3-0
Afterthoughts on the game? I don’t like discard – I had to play the cheaper stuff out quickly, leaving my [card]Will-Forged Golem[/card] and [card]Burning Anger[/card] to get discarded, allowing me to sneak enough damage in.
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 [card]Brood Keeper[/card].
My opponent gave her an [card]Inferno Fist[/card], made a Dragon Baby, sacked the Fist and killed one of my guys. The [card]Brood Keeper[/card], aka Daenerys Targaryen the Khaleesi, and her Dragon Baby slapped me for 14 over two turns.
Borderland Maude and [card]Inferno Fist[/card] got him to 12 before he played [card]Soul Of Shandalar[/card], forcing me to [card]Lightning Strike[/card] it twice. On his next turn, he exiled it from the graveyard and killed the Borderland Maude before playing [card]Krenko’s Enforcer[/card], which dropped me to eight – from that point even a [card]Stoke the Flames[/card] and [card]Lava Axe[/card] couldn’t get him below three.
Result: 0-2, 3-1
Afterthoughts? My first loss of the day and it was [card]Brood Keeper[/card] that swung the game. Fire breathing on a flying creature – I couldn’t get my removal online quick enough. [card]Soul of Shandalar[/card] 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.
Turn three [card]Kird Chieftain[/card] off a [card]Generator Servant[/card] and I never got back on my feet. It was a pretty solid play. #MonkeySmackDown. [editor’s note – the Chieftain is an ape, not a monkey.]
He plays an [card]Elvish Mystic[/card], which my [card]Forge Devil[/card] eats, and I played Borderland Maude and [card]Inferno Fist[/card] before convoking an early [card]Will-Forged Golem[/card], which also picks up an [card]Inferno Fist[/card]. Eventually I battered my way though his [card]Wall of Mulch[/card]es, [card]Verdant Haven[/card]s and [card]Wall of Flame[/card]s.
This game was a race between [card]Thunder Strike[/card] and two [card]Krenkos’ Enforcers[/card], with [card]Inferno Fist[/card]s and a paragon swinging 12 off his total. Game over.
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 [card]Hunter’s Ambush[/card] 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 [card]Ensoul Artifact[/card], four [card]Ornithopter[/card], and two [card]Illusory Angel[/card] 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 [card]Sign In Blood[/card]s into your mono black devotion deck, and use [card]Liliana Vess[/card] as an extra [card]Thoughtseize[/card] – she pressures control nicely and her ultimate is hilarious with a few [card]Gray Merchant of Asphodel[/card]. Dig out your [card]Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth[/card] to smooth out the mana.
Also, keep an eye on Boss Sligh as its mana has just became a lot smoother, and remember that [card]Polymorphist’s Jest[/card] 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.