Monday, September 27, 2010

Another prerelease down the hatch!

I spent the majority of Saturday down at the prerelease.

It was pretty fun. What did I do? All kinds of stuff.

Started out the day waiting in line to face off against some serious pro players. Gunslinging. Champion Challenge. The Final Battle. No matter what you call it, this is where the big boys are. In my case, the pros were one Brian Kibler and one Brad Nelson, lately of PTQ Amsterdam fame. They are both really good people, and also seemed to both know something about playing Magic.

They quickly stomped me down to my proper place. But at least they brought (or Brad did, at least) some EDH decks!

Brad's deck, which I believed he said was actually constructed by someone else, did a lot of card drawing and mana acceleration. Then it punched you in the face with Volrath the Fallen.

I was reminded once again that there are casual and competitive decks, even in EDH. On the plus side, I can comfortably say that neither of my decks are competitive, and that any win I possibly eek out is both fair and square in all regards.

Things in particular I learned/were reminded of:

1) There is an official EDH mulligan system, which I still don't quite understand.

2) Leyline of the Void is really good and ruining graveyard shenanigans…and it only affects opponents!

3) Braids, Cabal Minion is perfectly playable as a non-general…and she is just as annoying when paired with Bitterblossom and Crucible of Worlds.

4) There is no "casual" game to a pro, no matter the situation or the format. As Patrick Chapin once explained to me at a similar event, "I like playing with counterspells."

Which brings me to the next question…where do the prize packs from the Champion Challenge come from? Because Brian Kibler was playing like each pack came right out of his appearance fee. If they get appearance fees. Maybe they just get what's left of the booster box. In which case, I understand completely.

Swing away, then, good sir!

After being smashed over the head, I faced off against another challenger…my friend Mike and his Scars of Mirrodin Intro Pack. He was playing store's choice, in this case a saucy green and black deck chock full of mean o' Phyrexians.

I have to say the new "Infect" keyword finally makes poison pretty competitive. I'm excited in one way, but in another I am somewhat sad that a long-forgotten favorite mechanic is now fully in the limelight. Sort of like if you were big into Soundgarden, before they got famous (which I wasn't).

I then played two people, Mike again as well as Dylan who I met at the event. They both had EDH decks along, and chose the rather nasty general in the form of Teysa, Orzhov Scion.

Again, I was reminded that I am a much better Magic player in a vacuum. My mind is the prefect battleground, where all deck building choices make perfect sense somewhere, whether its intellectually or morally. Elsewhere…things get icky.

Facing off against another human being is chocked full of surprises.

The basic Teysa deck manufactures a lot of creatures, preferably black tokens or black creatures. And you then have to kill each of these like nuisances several times before they revert to a non-threatening form. Welcome to a new world of chump blockers, population: 1/1 Spirit Tokens.

And the tokens get pumped up, as well.

Finally, the time came for Two-Headed Giant.

Two players. 120 cards. Not Enough Time.

At first I thought we had a bye. But then 2 Judges came racing over and informed us we had about 30 seconds to start playing before we got a game loss.

My deck wasn't down to 40 cards yet. Luckily, I did have the foresight to add land.

Our decks were okay, but unfortunately only posted a slightly better-than-average record of 1 Win, 2 Loses. The best part about it…playing. And the conversation.

Two Headed Giant, at least the version of the format I experienced, was far more social than the sweat-soaked single person sealed I was accustomed to. While there was one very "competitive" pairing we ran into, most of the pairs were playing fast and loose, more for the fun than anything else.

There was one card that surprised me, and I was very happy it managed to get into my deck.

Since I was running black, and most every other pair had at least one other member running black, Stata Scythe made things big. At one point I had a 12/12 Insect token with Infect. Unfortunately, it died to Turn to Slag.

I will hopefully be better prepared for my next 2HG match-up.

I had the most fun this prerelease, compared to any other prerelease event. Even counting the ROE prerelease, where I had a record of 3 wins, 1 draw.

Looking forward to the next one!

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