I’m getting too old for midnight pre-releases (he says, having just pulled an all-nighter for work) (I really just wanted to say I’m too old for something) (I’m not, there were a bunch of folks older than me there who rocked it) (anyway!).

I actually took my own advice for once — drank water, ate fresh fruit, even brought a special cushion to sit on. And I think I opened a decent pool — my rares lined up nicely, I had some wicked uncommons, and there as a solid promo waiting for me in my pre-release box.

But I still fell into a trap.

Here’s my deck — can you guess what the trap is?

Looks like a great Draft deck, doesn’t it? Red-White Knights, with a huge number of great two-drops, Danitha Capashen to put the pressure on, Baird to keep it off, and Teshar to bring my guys back. Red brings two Shivan Fires and Siege-Gang Commander, some of the best Limited cards in the set. Sure to grind some people into the dust, right?

The problem is, I’m playing Sealed.

Draft and Sealed are very different in a couple of ways. Sealed is slower, and more reliant on big bombs. You need some real good removal to deal with enemy bombs, and you really need a few of your own to be able to close things out.

I had a good bomb in Siege-Gang Commander and a lot of damage-based removal. But I had still accidentally built a Draft deck in a Sealed environment. I bought a sports car when I needed a rally racer.

How well will I do?


(Yes, that’s my handwriting. My life is on the left, his is on the right. We’re going deep behind the scenes here on the Mana Dork!)

A trio of great games against a wonderfully polite opponent who had essentially built the Sealed version of my deck. In Games 1 and 3, he resolved the Weatherlight, and he had the historic cards to back it up. Excellent plays and clever blocking choices did the rest. I mostly sat there with sorcery-speed burn spells, a San Pellegrino, and self-doubt.
Game 2 was interesting. A pair of early Knights of Grace let me put some pressure on early. He tried to stabilize with the first Saga of the night, Fall of the Thran, to buy some turns where I couldn’t add to the board. But it didn’t work quite as well as he expected; with a better ground presence, I swung away and held onto On Serra’s Wings until I could bring it home.

Nevertheless, a 2-1 round loss for me and a lesson learned.


I had a lot of sympathy for my opponent. He mulled to 5 Game 1 and still ended up without much land. A mull to 6 Game 2 didn’t fare him much better. In both games I was able to go wider than him with a number of Knights and grind away at his life total. In Game 2, this was augmented by On Serra’s Wings, which can truly be ridiculous on the right target.

But I have to speak well of his sportsmanship! Mana screw gets the best of all of us sometimes, but he still shook it off with a laugh and a smile. After the game, I offered to help with his pool (not that I’m any great shakes, but I’ve been around a while), and he was more than willing to listen. Kudos to him for being a great sport and tremendous fun to play against. That’s the kind of opponent you want to play against at a pre-release.

A 2-0 round win for me, 1-1 for rounds on the night.


I’m going to say something shocking here folks, so I want you all to pay attention: Llanowar Elves is a really good Magic: the Gathering card. In both games, my opponent’s Elves helped him ramp into some really good bombs, and I just couldn’t keep up.

Game 1 was close, as you can see from the notes (although I have no idea what “Board” and “Bombs” were about — a 3 AM Mana Dork is a very confused Mana Dork).

After taking several hits from Traxos, Scourge of Kroog, here’s how I sideboarded for Game 2:

Giant and Invoke out, Wall and Light in.

Unfortunately, it didn’t really help at all. Elf ramp won out over Knightly swords. That “x–” in his column should be in mine — he took me from 12 to 0 in one fell swoop. I swapped the Wall back out for Invoke the Divine and got ready for Round 4.

0-2. 1-2. Can I bring it home?


Look, when you face Sir Snapper of the Cold Water, Defender of the Realm, Blessed by Serra, Proofed from Hexes, and Terror of the Six-Drop Common Blue Slot, you write it down. That is a (shall I say it?) (I’m going to say it) (welcome to the Mana Dork, where we play a lot of pun-drops) historic moment.

Real talk, though, a Dubbed Cold-Water Snapper with a Pegasus Courser friend is utterly terrifying. The only way out I had was to race down my opponent’s life total and go just wide enough that she couldn’t eat all of my Knights with Sir Snapper. Luckily enough, I was able to make that happen.

2-0 in the round, 2-2 on the night, thanks to some 2/2 Knights for 2. Not bad, when you’re facing down the Weatherlight, flying turtle knights, and dreaded Elves!


I got your back, fam!

Come buy Dominaria for reals tonight! Come by for International Tabletop Day tomorrow and compete in our Kingdomino tournament! Or compete in a public playtest event for Mythic!

See you at the store!

Jesse Mackenzie is a regular contributor to A Muse N Games. Tune in every fort-Knight for the Mana Dork, his column about all things Magic!