Sunday, September 30, 2007

Strovil Slays Students at Ravnica Prerelease

I could not go to the Ravnica prerelease on Saturday because of kendo practice, so I set my sights on Sunday. At first, I was not planning to go. I had quite a bit of work to do and, while I could finish it all even while going to the tournament, it would mess with my normal Sunday rhythm. Long story short, I decided to catch the 12 noon flight at Neutral Ground. The last prerelease I attended was in Arizona. I felt it was at once more professional and more casual. But I never expect anything in New York City to be even close to its Arizona counterpart in quality. I got into Blue flight, seat 5. The flight had about 20 people total; a few old men (as in gray beards and balding), a few young kids, and mostly the teens that make up the bulk of Magic. My card pool looked like crap. None of my rares made it into my deck (the only one on-color cost 9 mana and my curve would not support that). I ended up playing 4 colors. During deck construction, a Magic veteran (known around Neutral Ground) in my flight was asking people about their favorite colors and what colors they would be playing. He asked if anyone was U/B because there were a ton of islands and swamps left in the land pile. Seeing that everyone was going R/W with G splash, I decided to metagame a little. My best color was Red. I had creatures all along the curve and a few tricky spells. I figured a lot of people would go RW because it is so easy to make and play thanks to Boros. Lucky me, I opened a 2/2 mountainwalking goblin. Also because of the Boros interactions, I added White even though it was not very deep. My best cards were probably Sunhome and Watchwolf, so that also helped with the White splash. Then I came to the metagame. Because a lot of forests were gone from the land pile, I added Ivy Dancer (tap to give forestwalk to a creature). I also added Bramble Elemental because I needed some creatures with a back-end. From my very first pass through the cards, I knew that I did not want to play a lot of Black but I absolutely would splash for Disembowel (XB, destroy a creature with converted mana cost X). And when the guy was asking about UB, I knew I should add Dimir House Guard (2/3 fear, sac a creature to regenerate). I already was light on good creatures and having an evader that would not see another Black creature all day seemed like a good bet. So I ended up playing RW with a two card splash in each of Green and Black (although with the two GW cards I guess Green was more like a 4 card splash). Round 1 - Bye. Yay! Round 2 - Ari. Ari was one of the younger kids in the flight. I would say something from 10-13 years old, but I am a poor judge of age. Ari was playing WR and, because he does not know how to hold his cards across the table from someone 6'5" tall, I knew his bomb rare was Razia. He ended up winning 2-0 in round one against a mana-screwed and then mana-flooded opponent. He had no such luck with me. Game 1 I got in some real hard, real fast beats. His life total went: 20 19 10 6 2 The all-star of game 1: Sunhome. Tapping five lands for double-strike is definitely worth it. My unblockable, double-striking Sabretooth Alley Cat finished him off. And something amusing happened on the last turn. He was at 2. Even without doublestrike, he was going to die to the Cat. But he was smart. He had a 3/2 white flier who tapped, sacced, and dealt 3 damage to an attacker or blocker. I attacked. He sacced. I cast Bathe in Light (target creature, and all creatures that share its color(s), gain protection from the color of your choice), naming White, on my Cat. He cast his own Bathe in Light on my Cat, naming White, and proclaimed "Ha! Now your guy is pro-white, so your Light is countered ... (wait for it) ... (wait for it) ... oh, I'm so stupid!" Game 2 was a bit slower. He had some fliers, I had some beef. He was pinging me with a 1/2 flier and then a 3/2 flier, taking me down to 10while he went up to 23 life with a Centaur (when it dies you gain 3 life). Unfortunately for him, I laid down a 3/3 watchwolf, 3/4 forgeling, 3/3 flier, and a 4/4 bramble elemental. He would have to stop pressing the attack and trade 2-for-1 in order to stop the beats. He did not. The turn before he died, he went from 12 to 2 (to give you an idea of how hard I hit). Just for fun we played a third game. He got mana screwed and I got a fast 2/2, so he conceded that and we started a fourth. I won that one. Round 3 was against Ben. Because this was a secondary flight, we only had three rounds. So I convinced Ben to draw and we each got 5 packs. But we also had 50 minutes to wait before we could get our prizes, so we played. I do not remember all the details, but I do know that in game 1 my Dimir House Guard went all the way. His life went down by 2 from 20 to 8, then I drew Sunhome and doublestruck him twice. However, two things were pretty cool here. 1. Sunhome is not legendary, despite all appearances to the contrary. He had one in play and I thought my lay would destroy them both. Then I noticed it was not legendary. I think it should be. 2. We both had lots of guys on the board. They were all in a big stalemate except the Dimir and his growing army of saproling tokens. I was up 14-4 when he busted out a 7 mana Wrath of God - Destroy all nontoken creatures. It felt like victory was wrested from my grasp. I asked to see the card. "Destroy all nontoken creatures." What is missing from that picture? "They cannot regenerate." Well, my Dimir can. Game. Another cool thing, at least to my mind, happened in game three. We were using the new Pro Player cards for his token creatures. In game 3, he played a Hunted Llamasu (cheap 5/5 flier that gives your opponent a 4/4 black Horror). I used Tim Aten as my Horror. This game saw my Mountainwalking Goblins and forestwalker-maker Ivy Dancer beat him senseless. The death blow in that game came in a most awesome manner. He had at least 6 creatures on the board: 2 white, 1 red, 3 RW multicolor guys. His flier and a Sabretooth Alley Cat knocked me down to 8 life. I had lethal damage on the board, but 4 guys to go through. Next turn, he could probably alpha-strike me for the win (and even if not, his guys would definitely kill me in two more). The situation looked grim. Just for fun, I had him untap all his guys just to show him how the Master plays Magic. Step 1. Incite Hysteria on his RW guy. "Creatures that share a color with target creature can't block this turn." But that was too easy. Why have him untap his guys and then not show him anything tricky? So, Step 1. Incite Hysteria on his W guy. Now, that means there was a single red guy left who could block my 4/4 Tim Aten (a Sabretooth Alley Cat). Step 2. Bathe in Light on my Atenyville Horror, calling Red. Step 3. Beat in his face. Someone at the beginning of the tournament said they thought Radiance sucked. I do not believe that at all. Bathe in Light and Incite Hysteria never failed to do miraculous things for me. So at the end of the short day, I was 3-0 in matches, 6-0 in games (technically 7-0 but I do not count the mana-screw concession). I thought about playing in another flight, but I still had stuff to do. In a final note, during my first round bye, I put together a UB deck. I figured if my RW sucked in the first round, I could always use the UB to try and make it up. I never had to use it at the tournament, so when I got home I pit it against my RW. It ripped it a new one. Favorite card from Ravnica: Not sure yet. There are lots of good cards, but the one that left my jaw agape was found in one of my prize packs. Phytohydra 2GWW Creature - Plant Hydra If damage would be dealt to Phytohydra, put that many +1/+1 counters on it instead. 1/1 Like Fungusaur (one of my favorite cards) on crack. Even the picture just screams, "FEED ME, SEYMOUR!!"

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