I was one of those players that didn't herald the return of leagues when they first came back. The constructed leagues were--and still are--just continuous dailies, in my opinion (which is not a bad thing). It wasn't until we got the add-a-pack sealed leagues that I finally joined the chorus celebrating leagues. I have always enjoyed the off-beat formats (such as 4 pack sealed and triple small set drafting--triple Eventide was busted), so I'm glad to see this one back. Join me as I get into a league!
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Introduction to Article Series
With this series, I'm aiming to go through the friendly add-a-pack leagues and give readers a chance to give feedback and hopefully gain some insight. I'll likely vary where I break in the article, and sometimes will ask for community feedback as to how to integrate a new pack before playing more matches. Here is (will be) a list of previous entries in this series.
I'll also include a value of the pool and pack, and might do some EV calculations (i.e. how much is the add-a-pack league worth). While it won't be true EV, it will be a real world application, which should highlight some of the variance you'll expect to see.
Generally, I will do text write-ups, not videos. There may be times where I do include videos, but I will still include a write-up as well. Let me know if you have any thoughts on how to improve the series!
So far, I've enjoyed Kaladesh quite a bit, so it seems like a good time to start this articles series (also with Modern flashbacks ending, my other series will end). Thus far in Kaladesh, many of the games involved a fair amount of back and forth, so repeatable effects are great.
First up, let's look at the card pool:
My first predilection is to looks at the rares and mythics to see if there are any must play bombs. This pool has the following:
While I didn't get any foil rares/mythics (one of my Cowl Prowlers is foil, hooray...), I did get the absolutely devastating Skysovereign, Consul Flagship. Without fail, that will go into any limited deck since it is colorless. Not only is it a highly desirable repeatable effect, it is a beast of its own as a 6/5 flier. Cataclysmic Gearhulk has been surprisingly underwhelming for me in limited (I opened 2 during paper pre-releases). While an undoubtedly powerful effect, it requires dire situations to prove strongest, and it still typically leaves an opponent with 2 creatures. I think only once did I play it where my opponent went down to one creature. Its 4/5 vigilance body is pretty nice, but it's still probably the weakest Gearhulk in limited, in my opinion.
Midnight Oil--as far as I can tell--is unplayable. Lathnu Hellion is not unplayable, but it is not great. In the right deck, it would be very powerful. However, I've played against it a lot where it's just 4 damage and a lost servo. Multiform Wonder and Cultivator of Blades of blades are both strong cards; the former should be nearly always played, while the latter is likely in any green deck.
Right off the bat, I discount Blue as a possibility. It only has 4 creatures, one of which is really bad in a format where everyone gets lots of 1/1 tokens. The remaining blue is simply not enough for me to go blue, as there are only two strong cards (Malfunction and Shrewd Negotiation).
Red is a possibility, but would require using the triple Salivating Gremlins. The artifacts I have are decent, but I don't think I want to play that many of them. The real issue is that Red is filled with a bunch of mediocre cards, and nothing stellar.
Black is interesting. Two Tidy Conclusions is probably the limit I'd play anyway. Rush of Vitality is a decent combat trick that can make a play at being removal, or just counter an opponent's removal. Probably the best black card is Fretwork Colony. Assuming it doesn't get answered, the colony becomes a monstrous threat, quickly. Playing it on turn 2 places your opponent in a very tough spot if they don't have an answer. Unfortunately, I did not open either of Fretwork Colony's best friends--Fairgrounds Trumpeter or Aetherborn Marauder. Black is a close call for me.
Green is the option I debated against Black. The only unplayable green cards are the Commencement of Festivities, though even those might be useful in very narrow situations. Green's main issue here is the weirdly split curve. A lot of 2 drops, and a lot of 5+ drops. I may be in the minority, but I've been very impressed with Cowl Prowler. A 6/6 on the ground is surprisingly tough to beat, and can hold back a lot of creatures. I also really enjoy Longtusk Cub. In a deck that generates energy, the Cub becomes a massive threat. Overall, I ended up choosing green as it provided enough options (though less removal).
Finally, White was a shoe in. I would play all twelve white cards I opened (though Inspired Charge would likely be 23rd). If I've had one card consistently over perform, it's Eddytrail Hawk. It's the little bird that could. The number of times I've seen opponents let it sit there is astounding, as it can quickly change the entire nature of the game. Pairing it with Longtusk Cub is also quite satisfying. Triple Propeller Pioneer was also nice, even though I didn't play all 3 in the end. And then of course, there is Cataclysmic Gearhulk. While often underwhelming, it is still very solid and can reverse course on a game in short order.
As for artifacts, it seems fairly obvious to me. Snare Thopter, Multiform Wonder, and Skysovereign, Consul Flagship are all auto-includes in my opinion. Playing green means considering at least 1 Narnam Cobra. Otherwise it would be deck dependent for the rest.
Finally, I would play either Whirler Virtuoso or Empyreal Voyager in the on-color deck. I would also consider splashing either, as they both have strong effects.
Here's the deck I went with:
As eluded to, I went with Green/White. It was quite difficult cutting down on to 23 cards, and I think some of my final cuts were the Kujar Seedsculptors. Also noteworthy is the splash for Empyreal Voyager. I figured with one Island and Attune with Aether, I could hit the blue source enough for it to work. I also liked the idea of more energy for Longtusk Cub, Multiform Wonder, Thriving Rhino, and Eddytrail Hawks. In hindsight, I probably didn't need it, and it probably wasn't worth the hit to stability.
The other distinctive thing is the number of 5 drops. While it is quite high, most of them are so strong I felt it was worthwhile. Given how the initial matches played out that, I definitely did not need the Riparian Tiger, and could have had a Kujar Seedsculptor. The Arborback Stomper won me a game, so I do not regret that one. It is a very strong card, and the 5 life can be huge. I never got the Cultivator of Blades into play, so I do not know how that would fare.
First Three Matches (2-1):
Match 1: Vs. Bobmarlay with Green/Red Skysovereign (0-2)
Game 1: I win the roll and keep a 2-lander with double Propeller Pioneer and Workshop Assistant. Game starts off relatively normal, my opponent playing an Eager Construct and Aethertorch Renegade while I play a Thriving Rhino and Propeller Pioneer. Next, my opponent drops a Peema Outrider, making it a 4/4. I Attune with Aether and attack with my now 4/5 Thriving Rhino and 3/2 Propeller Pioneer. He double blocks with the Peema Outrider and Aethertorch Renegade. Not sure if I should have played like that, but I kill the outrider and drop another Propeller Pioneer. He responds by dropping a foil Skysovereign, Consul Flagship, killing one of my Pioneers. Luckily I had a Creeping Mold. He plays a Wayward Giant and I play my Arborback Stomper and then attack to bring the life totals to 15-8 in my favor. He attacks me down to 9 and plays a Bristling Hydra. I play Ninth Bridge Patrol before combat, because I forgot how the game worked apparently. I attack with my Stomper and Pioneer, and he using Ornamental Courage on his Aethertorch Renegade to only take 3 in the air and killing my Ninth Bridge Patrol. Clearly, I should have played it post combat, but I think my hope was that he would block with the Bristling Hydra. He Hijacks my Arborback Stomper for the win.
Game 2: While game 1 was eventful, game 2 was anything but. I play and keep a two lander. My opponent also keeps a two-lander. Turn 5, he drops his third land, a third forest. Turn 6 he drops his fourth Forest and plays Bristling Hydra. I draw my third land on turn 7 and played Thriving Rhino. He draws a fifth Forest and drops his foil Skysovereign, Consul Flagship. I do not draw a land, and have no furthers plays, so I concede.
Match 1: Vs. NecrOmniPotenz Green Red tokens (2-0)
Game 1: I open a hand with 3 land, Longtusk Cub, Eddytrail Hawk, Cataclysmic Gearhulk, and Empyreal Voyager. My opponent plays Durable Handicraft, Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter, and Architect of the Untamed. I swing in the air for 9, bringing him to 3. He concedes.
Game 2: I keep a questionable hand with 3 forest and only Creeping Mold as a green card. Luckily I draw a Plains. My opponent plays Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter and Renegade Freighter, followed by Chief of the Foundry. When I finally Creeping Mold the Renegade Freighter, I am at 11 life. After being attacked to 8, I play Cataclysmic Gearhulk to make my opponent sacrifice his Spireside Infiltrator. I get out an Eddytrail Hawk and Arborback Stomper, finally stabilizing and allowing me to swing. My opponent appears to draw blanks and starts creating tokens to alpha. I'm able to survive, and then he concedes to my 8+ flying damage.
Match 3: Vs Ronizil Green White ???(2-0)
Game 1: Very short. My opponent only plays 3 Forests. I play Glint-Sleeve Artisan and Propeller Pioneer. After I drop the pioneer, my opponent draws then concedes.
Game 2: The only play for the first 3 turns on both sides is my Eddytrail Hawk. I add a Propeller Pioneer and my opponent finally reveals his second color as white by playing Revoke Privileges (sadly I put a 1/1 counter on the pioneer). Next turn I play Longtusk Cub and Eddytrail Hawk, bringing me to 6 energy (I Attuned with Aether at some point). My opponent plays Multiform Wonder, bringing him to 3 energy. My hand is land and Impeccable Timing. I attack with the 2/2 Longtusk Cub and my 2 (Eddytrail Hawks), choosing not to give the Cub flying. My opponent blocks with Multiform Wonder. I place two counters on Longtusk Cub and pass to my opponent. He makes a 5/1 and then I cast Impeccable Timing, ensuring it dies. For some reason, my opponent makes it a 3/3 and it dies. My opponent draws and then concedes.
Lessons from the matches:
Here's the pack I opened to add to my pool:
There's only 4 cards worth considering for the next deck: Iron League Steed, Live Fast, Cloudblazer, and Skyswirl Harrier. The black added does make black a possibility, but I am not convinced. Cloudblazer is really good, though keeping the splash and adding another 5 drop is probably sub-optimal. Skyswirl Harrier has the 5 drop problem, though it's likely better than Riparian Tiger. The real problem is the lack of removal.
Finally, here is the pool as it currently stands:
Let me know what you think I should do for the next matches! I may or may not wait to play them until after this article is posted to see what the community thinks! I'd also love to hear your opinions on my pool and my deck.
As always, I appreciate any comments!
xger21 on MTGO