So here’s the deck I played at last weekend’s Scars Pre-Release…when I cracked four artifact removal cards in two colors it was pretty much a lock as far as what I was going to play. Despite starting over an hour late and only playing three rounds in a large field, it was a good time overall.
Decklist: R/W (40 Cards)
Iron Myr x2
Glint Hawk x1
Golden Urn x1
Arc Trail x1
It’s a sad state of affairs when Mirrodin gets reinvisioned in Standard and I’m actually excited for it. The original block birthed such hellish creations as Arcbound Ravager and Skullclamp and was an essential “narrowing” of the format to the point that it was all about putting together Affinity or taking it apart. After dealing with a Standard environment focused on built-in card advantage and incredible bombs, however, I thought a return to the fragile artifact plane would take us back to a more nostalgic style of play leading to niche card interactions and tricky mechanics.
I wasn’t really correct.
The pre-release sealed event at Grand Slam in Olean, N.Y. hosted a field of roughly thirty competitors. I didn’t do a complete deck breakdown, but I’d say the most common archetypes seemed to be U/B variants either focusing on Infect or using White for a more classic control build; as well as a number of W/x Aggro variants.
I’ll get right into the actual report:
ROUND 1: Cameron (W/G Aggro)
Why is it that in every tournament, even with a decent-sized showing, I wind up having to play my friends? Oh well. I was concerned, however, because Cameron had naturally showed me most of his rare pulls during the deck construction period. I knew to expect Liege of the Tangle and Indomitable Archangel, among others.
GAME 1: We trade lowbies for awhile as we try to build up boards. My Revoke Existence eats a Copper Myr to keep him off green mana, but he quickly follows up with a Forest for Carapace Forger and reinforces his board with an Abuna Acolyte. My Wall of Tanglecord holds them off for a few turns before I can drop a Wurmcoil Engine with a Bladed Pinions for added fun. Cameron replies with Molten-Tail Masticore in an attempt to stabilize, but it catches my Shatter. I follow up with Argentum Armor and suddenly Wurmcoil isn’t looking very friendly. I use Argentum Armor’s “destroy” ability to clear the air and take the game.
GAME 2: Cameron and I both take a gamble, keeping one-land hands. I’m able to mise into a second land to turn on Iron Myr, then another Iron Myr and Auriok Sunchaser. Cameron stalls on one for the entirety of the game, only managing to make a single one-drop that I can fly over.
ROUND 2: Rob (U/B Control)
GAME 1: I try an agressive opening with Goblin Gaveleers, Darksteel Axe and Glint Hawk. He’s able to Disperse the Hawk a few times to slow me right back down again. I’ve got better threat saturation, however, and I’m able to eventually whittle his board down to where I’ve got free reign over the red zone.
GAME 2: This is basically a repeat of game 1, except a critical error on my part lets him walk away with it. He gets a Mimic Vat and exiles a dying Riddlesmith. I make the mistake of letting him kill a Kemba Skyguard with a Riddlesmith token during my attack step. Then he untaps his lands, draws his guards and replaces Riddlesmith with Skyguard under the Vat. I’m almost certain this is a violation, since he started taking his turn and thus missed the trigger, but for some reason I let it slide. I think to myself “this better not cost me the game”, but I’m sure I must be in the clear because I have at least 4 targeted artifact removal cards in my deck. He adds Rusted Relic and Bladed Pinions and my Kuldotha Phoenix and Auriok Sunchaser aren’t big enough to crash through his defense. He starts racking up Poison Counters on me and I pack it in to save time for the last game.
GAME 3: He gets partially mana-screwed, with only one Swamp preventing him from casting the nasty Carnifex Demon. I’ve got nothing but gas this game, and eventually he has to fold under the pressure of Spikeshot Elder and Wurmcoil Engine with Argentum armor in play. I have Kuldotha Phoenix as backup, but he never has to see play.
ROUND 3: Cody (U/W Control)
Cody opens on a couple of Islands and a Gold Myr. I attempt to Revoke Existence on the Myr, only to have Cody waste a Disperse to save it. I notice he’s only got one Plains and must be desperate for the white mana, so I roast the Myr with a Shatter. The mana screw sticks, and he can’t come up with a play until a 1/1 Darksteel Juggernaut on Turn 5. By that time I was ready to swing for the face with Kuldotha Phoenix. I was too far ahead at this point, so Cody packed it in.
I honestly can’t really remember the details of the last game, but they were similar. After some early trading I kept hitting threats and he didn’t, and the rest is history.
So what did we learn? Flashy bombs are still pretty good, for one thing. The White aggro decks seemed overall to perform much better than their control and infect rivals. I personally only had a problem with poison in one game out of 7, and that was a game I’d already let slip away.
I don’t think control is viable in Limited no matter how many keyword abilities cater to its function. It seems like the “imperfection” of any Limited deck is going to keep it from being stronger than the default Aggro. In every game I played against control they were forced to tap out on numerous turns just to keep up. After a while I was able to anticipate this and get my key threats down while they had no answers available.
Removal was also remarkably important. I thought my deck looked mediocre until a few games taught me that Arc Trail was basically a 2-for-1 everytime you cast it because of the format’s dependence on ManaMyr. Also, the popularity of artifact creatures turned conditional removal like Shatter and Revoke Existence into slick multi-colored Doom Blades.
I don’t know if this translates directly into a draft strategy, but I can tell you that when I sit down in my pod next Saturday I’ll be looking back to White and Red right off the bat, and snagging as many Shatters, Revoke Existences and Oxidda Scrapmelters as I can.
I hope this is at least a little bit helpful. Feel free to share opinions on the new Limited below, as well as experiences from your own pre-release events. Until next time, misewell and have fun!