“So, I see you actually drank some water this time,
” the little voice in my head
“Didn’t get to sleep like you wanted to, though. And you’re still full of sugar and caffeine.”
We all make mistakes sometimes. But I’m good! I’m ready.
“Right. And your 4th-place position at the Shadows over Innistrad pre-release, that was…”
“And not because you played it at a reasonable hour and got some sleep and ate good food.”
Well, I mean, that helped
“Uh-huh. Let’s see how you do.”
My pre-release promo was Wharf Infiltrator. I was hoping for Docent of Perfection, but I guess I can’t be too
disappointed with another sweet mid-game blue creature that does serious work in Limited.
The pool I got, though, was challenging at best.
There was very little in blue to support the Wharf Infiltrator, and almost nothing worthwhile in white or black outside of a single copy of Murder and a completed Chittering Host pairing. My big, quality bombs were Soul Swallower and Impetuous Devils, with a smattering of serious work-putter-inners like Furyblade Vampire and Brazen Wolves.
Red-green Eldraziwolves it is!
I wasn’t directly trying to copy my Shadows over Innistrad success, but it was certainly a factor. In Sealed, like in Draft, you will live or die based on the quality of the creatures you get onto the battlefield. My best creatures were in red and green — including an interesting pair of Its of the Horrid Swarm I’ll get to later — so that was my best choice for a solid performance.
So, how did I do?
Round 1 — Red-White Aggro
My opponent has built a classic red-white aggro deck, which Eldritch Moon supports well. We trade blows, but the combat math works out in their favour, and I lose the first game.
The second game, I learned my first lesson of the night: don’t waste removal early.
I’ve got a Bold Impaler out, they’ve got a Steadfast Cathar out. I need to make sure my aggro creatures get through, so I make the clear choice and cast Rabid Bite to take out the Cathar before it becomes a 2/3.
It would be the only removal spell I drew that game — and boy, I could have used it against the Thalia, Heretic Cathar that kept emerging her sword from my face in a series of first strikes!
0-2 in games, 0-1 on the night.
Round 2 — Red-White-Black Control
It’s game 2. My opponent has taken the first game, and they’ve got a decent number of creatures again. I have… not that. Significantly less than that, actually. But what I do have is two Its of the Horrid Swarm in my hand, and a need to go a little bit wider than I currently can.
I swing with my Backwoods Survivalists and Falkenrath Reaver. Seeing that I’ve tapped all my creatures, my opponent chooses not to block, hoping to have a clear path next turn.
Instead, I hatch the first It out of the Falkenrath Reaver. Six power across three bodies for five mana — not bad. And they’re untapped, so they can block. My opponent, dismayed by the sudden appearance of blockers, hangs back.
The next turn, I swing with the team — It, Insect 1, Insect 2, and the Reaver. My opponent blocks the Reaver and the It, taking two damage. I lose the Reaver. That’s fine. In the second main phase, I emerge my second It of the Horrid Swarm off of the first one…
… netting me two additional power across two additional bodies, as well as almost-kinda-maybe vigilance on the 4/4, for a single green mana.
Not the greatest play in the world, but it stabilized the board in my favour and they didn’t have an answer. Second lesson of the night: chaining Emerge creatures can get disgustingly efficient. (And also probably just disgusting, when you think about it.)
2-3 in games, 1-1 on the night.
Round 3 — Blue-Red Prowess Control
So here was my dumbest mistake, and my third lesson.
I’m playing an aggro deck against a control deck. Already, I’m on the back foot. I need to make sure I get my damage in before my opponent Just the Winds or Unsubstantiates my Eldraziwolves.
I’ve got a Kessig Prowler on the board, they’ve got an Identity Thief. I need to kill that Identity Thief, so my best course of action is clearly to cast Waxing Moon on my Prowler to flip it early and force them to either block it with the Thief or take a lot of damage, right?
My opponent chooses not to block, and indeed takes a lot of damage. They then swing with the Identity Thief, exiling the Prowler.
Now, if you exile a transformed card and it returns to the battlefield, it will come back with its normal face up. So I wasted mana and a card to get ahead on some damage, when I should have saved it to flip a blocking Eldraziwolf mid-combat.
Third lesson of the night: read the fricken’-frackin’ cards.
2-5 in games, 1-2 on the night.
Round 4 — Green-White Human Tokens
The first game goes in my favour — the Eldraziwolves went all slither-bow-slather-wow on their various cathars and tokens.
Before the second game, my opponent chooses to go on the draw, rather than on the play.
This is atypical. Going “on the draw” means you’re choosing to play second (and thus draw an extra card before you start), rather than play first (and thus be the first to start dealing damage). Generally speaking, you want to be on the play, as dealing damage is very important.
Following the round, I asked my opponent why they chose to go on the draw in Game 2.
I get a smile in response. “I was hoping to draw a land!”
We laugh and shake hands. I’ve been there, I know how it feels.
Final score: 4-6 in games. 2-2 on the night. I place riiiiiiiight in the middle of the pack.
“You did better than I thought you would.”
Thanks, Disembodied Pre-Release Voice In My Head!
“… but still not as good as the Saturday SOI pre-release with all the rest and good food.”
… Thanks, Disembodied Pre-Release Voice In My Head.
“Hey, it’s not my fault you hold yourself to such high standards! Rest is important. Good food is important.”
“Literally, you’re better at Magic when you have those.”
“And now we have empirical evidence.”
That’ll do, voice. That’ll do.
“I’m just saying.”
I did pull a copy of Murder.
Jesse Mackenzie is a regular contributor to A Muse N Games. Tormenting Voice is basically his life story. Tune in every two weeks for The Mana Dork, his column about all things Magic!