I arrived at the Oregon Convention Center at about 9:40, which was too late to get in on the “Big *** Flight” as they touted it—one big flight for as many players as they could get before 9:30 rather than the standard 64 player flight. They wound up with a little over 120 players and they were still going after my flight ended.
I wound up in what one judge officially called “The Lull,” which is the trickle of players like me who didn’t want to get up early and manage to arrive just after the first couple of flights have started. They warned us that it could be until lunch before we started.
Eventually at around 10:45 they called off registration at 32 players and we actually got product at just before 11.
I opened and registered a bunch of junk. The only notable card was Skarrgan Firebird and despite the coolness of the art I’m not sure that even it was playable given the dearth of other decent red. The card pool had some decent Orzhov with two Blind Hunters and a Mourning Thrull but nothing spectacular. I was dearly hoping we would be swapping decks, especially when another guy at the table opened a Ravnica starter with 13 rares in it. One of the other players in our small group of 32 also got a super starter.
But they didn’t let anyone play with those, alas. The judges gave them new product to play with but the players got to trade those back in for the starters they opened after the tournament was over.
As I told the guy I sat across from, I just wanted a playable deck. Naturally we all want foil Watery Graves (which one girl across the aisle did open—apparently we had a lucky group) but I was just hoping for a consistent, playable card base.
I was very happy when I opened the cards and found Temple Garden, Birds of Paradise and a few decent green beasts.
I didn’t have much in blue or red but I had a lot of good green and white creatures so Selesnya it was for me. That decision was sealed when I found My biggest question was how much black to splash and how many combat tricks to use. I knew Last Gasp and Douse in Gloom were in and Blind Hunter was good too but the biggest question was whether or not to include Skeletal Vampire. He was obviously powerful in limited but the double black in my “splash” color scared me. But between the Birds, a Silhana Starfletcher, the Spectral Searchlight (which also doubled as a stalemate breaker), Orzhov Basilica and Golgari Rot Farm I figured I had enough sources of black. I also had a Civic Wayfinder and a single basic Swamp for him to find. I did a couple of quick tests to see how the deck worked without the Vampire and quickly found that I had plenty of acceleration and didn’t have trouble getting all three sources of mana even without any of the Signets which were calling out to me to be played. I took out a combat trick and added the Vampire. Good move.
My final decklist was:
1 Devouring Light
1 Douse in Gloom
1 Last Gasp
1 Seeds of Strength
1 Spectral Searchlight
1 Birds of Paradise
1 Blind Hunter
1 Boros Guildmage
1 Carven Caryatid
1 Civic Wayfinder
1 Ghor-Clan Savage
1 Golgari Brownscale
1 Golgari Grave-Troll
1 Martyred Rusalka
1 Nightguard Patrol
1 Shrieking Grotesque
1 Silhana Ledgewalker
1 Silhana Starfletcher
1 Skeletal Vampire
1 Veteran Armorer
1 Golgari Rot Farm
1 Orzhov Basilica
1 Temple Garden
Sideboard (card actually used)
1 Absolver Thrull
1 Restless Bones
Sadly I didn’t even see the interaction between Silhana Ledgewalker and the Bloodthirst creatures until I started playing, but I knew unblockable damage was always good especially with Seeds of Strength and Wildsize.
Round 1 - Angel May - blue/green/??
I didn’t see much of Angel’s deck. She was very gracious but had to mulligan in game one and spent most of the game trying to find land, then it all came in bunches. I got a turn two Watchwolf and never looked back. She was flooded again in game two and I was able to get the Ghor-Clan Savage out early. I also found a Douse and a Devouring Light at exactly the time I needed them to kill off her blue flyers.
Round 2 - Keith MacLeod - blue/white/splash red Weirds/Izzet
I’ve seen Keith around before and he knows how to play. He was running a self-described janky deck with Ogre Savant to bounce three Steamcore Weirds so he could do lots of damage over the course of the game just with the come into play abilities. His mana base seemed shaky though and he struggled to get red mana throughout the match. One of his friends commented afterward that he had been holding a card with RR in its cost during the whole game one. Game one I just threw down guys and turned them sideways while he tried to block them. Nothing fancy but very effective and he never hit me. He started to set up defenses but I was able to keep hitting with Silhana Ledgewalker and the Spectral Searchlight. I wound up with the Vampire in my hand the whole game and I couldn’t find a second source of black but it didn’t affect the results.
Game two he eventually killed my threats with his Weirds and then started swinging for a couple of points each turn. Game three was long and drawn out as we each played threats and had them killed. I had an early Watchwolf but he neutralized it with Faith’s Fetters. I was laying down more and more threats and had him down to 10 and then he cast Droning Bureaucrats. Big trouble for me until I could get rid of him because Keith had tons of mana available. For some reason though he kept activating it for three, allowing my Blind Hunter to attack. I had Seeds of Strength in my hand the whole time but kept it there until I was able to alpha strike for the win.
It got to the point where we were both at 4 and we had gone to turns. It was turn two and I decided to go for the win. He had enough to alpha strike me for the win and still had a couple of cards in his had so I figured he had some combat tricks or burn. I attacked and in response activated my Boros Guildmage to give his Petrahydrox first strike, bouncing it to his hand. He responded by sac’ing it to Fiery Conclusion and killing my Bloodthirsted Ghor-Clan Savage. Thank goodness he didn’t kill the flyer. I cast Seeds of Stength on the Blind Hunter and held my breath for reaction from one of those cards in his hand but he just held out his hand.
Round 3 - Cord Slatton - Golgari
Cord really knows how to milk a Shambling Shell. He had Dryad Sophisticate and Mourning Thrull and whichever he got out first he’d just sac the Shambling Shell every turn to pump up the unblockable guy. Unfortunately for him in game one I got a quick Watchwolf and followed it up with more beatdown. Game one ended with me at 20 life.
Game two I boarded out Withstand and boarded in Restless Bones to give my beasts swampwalk. I had a turn two Watchwolf but my opponent Clinging Darkness’ed it. Then he started the combo going with the Dryad Sophisticate and had her up to a 6/5 or so. I had started to get some threats of my own but couldn’t find an answer in time and my one nonbasic land did me in. Game three he found a Mourning Thrull but I found an early Devouring Light to squelch that combo. I had fast Bloodthirsted creatures and he wasn’t able to mount a defense.
Round 4 - Mason Walker - white/green Glare
Mason and his girlfriend make a very cute Goth pair. As we sat down and started shuffling I said, “No fair, you have a cheerleader!” which did not go over well with his companion. “I am nota cheerleader,” she said and I assured her I meant no offense. Fortunately my faux pas blew over quickly.
I offered Mason the intentional draw so we could each get 12 packs. The other option was to play it out and the winner would get 18 packs, the loser 8 packs. I didn’t have a strong preference and neither did he but with his girlfriend’s encouragement he decided he wanted to play it out, which was fine with me.
Unknown to me Mason had the full Glare of Subdual package, including Selesnya Evangel to generate 1/1 creatures. Fortunately he never found Glare and didn’t have time to generate many tokens in game one as I had creatures out early and beat him down very quickly. His girlfriend looked pretty dejected. He turned over his next card and it was the Glare.
This was the only time I boarded in Absolver Thrull for the Glare and, in an emergency, Faith’s Fetters. I started laying down some threats but he quickly got the Selesnya Evangel online and got up to 8 tokens. Then he started alpha striking. He attacked with the Selesnya Evangel and I killed it to stop the engine but I was still dying quickly. Then I got the Skeletal Vampire and a Blind Hunter and with the little bit of life gain and additional blockers I started to stabilize. Then he cast Sisters of Stone Death. Yikes! Then to top it off, the next turn he cast Restless Bones to give the Sisters swampwalk. With me at one life it didn’t look good. I decided on an all out alpha strike and sac’d the Bat which Blind Hunter was haunting to go back to three but it didn’t matter. He didn’t do any crazy blocking and killed me the next turn. Then we ran out of time and went to turns.
As it turns out, sealed decks aren’t really able to do much in two or three turns. We each laid out lands and didn’t do anything else before turn 5 was up.
Technically I finished third out of 32 due to tiebreakers but tied for first by record because the other 3-0’s all took intentional draws for the 12 packs. My best finish since a 5-0 record in the Scourge prerelease—heck, my first finish in the money in awhile at a prerelease. It was nice to escape my 2-2 prerelease rut.