Nothing like opening a planeswalker in your opening pool! Time to see what Nissa, Vital Force can do for us in the 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 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!
Here's my opening pool:
Here is the value as of XXX:
||$1.83 * 2 + $3.56 * 4 + 4 = $21.90 24 tix/240 PP
As normal, I'll start by examining the colors, after a short discussion of the mythics/rares:
Mythics/Rares: One mythic in Nissa, Vital Force--a planeswalker is almost always nice (except for those red-headed stepchildren or bald creepy guys such as Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded and Dovin Baan). So, there is an immediately draw to green because Nissa, Vital Force provides a stream of creatures and inevitability. Rares are Toolcraft Exemplar, Baral's Expertise, Whir of Invention, Secret Salvage, and Walking Ballista. Secret Salvage is trash pretty much everywhere but very much so in limited. The blue rares are good, if not amazing. Whir of Invention is interesting because it becomes much better if you have something amazing like the rare/mythic vehicles or a gearhulk. Then, Toolcraft Exemplar is extremely niche, and it is rare it will be amazing in limited. If it is a 1/1 for 1 even 33% of the time, it probably isn't worth it. Last, Walking Ballista is insane, and can go in any deck, so it will always be the first card in any deck.
White: While white is probably the weakest color generally, here I have a lot of it and some of the best white cards. Double Revoke Privileges is very huge, and then there is Thopter Arrest and Caught in the Brights as further enchantment removal. Skywhaler's Shot is also quite powerful as one of the few ways to hit vehicles. Then there is Decommission, Impeccable Timing, and Deadeye Harpooner as further removal, though these are more situational. One note--players seem to have mostly stopped accounting for Impeccable Timing with the new format, so it offers some new strength. After the hefty removal package, the creatures are mediocre, with Dawnfeather Eagle as a stand out. It seems unlikely I won't play white, as there is just so much removal.
Blue: Here we see a lot of middle of the road blue, and no real removal. Revolutionary Rebuff isn't particularly strong, and Dispersal Technician is not really removal. Similarly, Baral's Expertise is either a game winning effect or a board stabilizer, but it won't get rid of anything permanently. Ice Over is underwhelming. Gearseeker Serpent is a good finisher I suppose, but it is the only notably creature. I would play blue, but I would not be happy about it here.
Black: You would not be able to tell that black is supposed to be the best removal color based on this pool. When the removal options are Perilous Predicament, Make Obsolete, and Aether Poisoner, black is not looking good. Then when you note that your best black cards are Gifted Aetherborn followed by Aether Poisoner, you just move along.
Red: Red is filled with artifact removal, and has some other removal to go with it. However, after that, what's left is mediocre--a few Frontline Rebels, a Sweatworks Brawler, and a Lathnu Sailback. In others words, there just is not much here.
Green: Well, this is bizarre. Of course, there is Nissa, Vital Force, but then there's 5 removal spells. Triple Prey Upon isn't ideal, particularly without massive creatures. Monstrous Onslaught is another good option, again needing a big creature. Good thing Nissa makes 5/5s! I also like double Highspire Artisan since it can provide 2 bodies and protect against a skies. With Nissa and he removal, green is really working to make its way into the deck.
Gold: Ah, Winding Constrictor, the all-star. Too bad I don't have the buddies in green/black to really make it shine. Then there is the overall mediocre black and lack of fixing, so this snake probably won't see play.
Artifacts: The only really stand out is Walking Ballista, which works wonders. Otherwise the only noteworthy card is Renegade Freighter.
This pool seemed fairly clear to me--green white with loads of removal and Nissa. There's so much removal that I am pretty confidant the deck can pull out some strong games.
Match 1 Altho: 2 - 1 vs. Green Red Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Game 1: I keep Highspire Artisan, Prophetic Prism, Nature's Way, Nissa, Vital Force, and lands. My opponent leads with Hidden Herbalists which I follow with Highspire Artisan. Next, my opponent runs Spontaneous Artist out, giving it haste and hitting me for 3. I respond with a Revoke Privileges. Unfortunately for my opponent, they have few plays for the next few turns, while I plop down a turn 5 Nissa, Vital Force and start killing creatures and swinging. I would go over the details, but at this point my opponent plays chump blockers and kills some of my stuff, but fails to hit Nissa or me.
Game 2: Opener is Highspire Artisan, Verdant Automaton, Nissa, Vital Force, Ghirapur Osprey, and lands. My opponent leads with Renegade Map, Aether Chaser, and then Scrapper Champion. I've drawn Countless Gears Renegade and then nothing but land, while my opponent adds Weaponcraft Enthusiast and Scrounging Bandar. The cat monkey makes the champion a 5/5 double striker. I emblem Nissa after chumping and trading, because I still have only drawn land. I finally hit a non-land with Druid of the Cowl. However, my opponent then plays Chandra, Torch of Defiance, killing my blockers, and then kills Nissa. I draw land, then draw Walking Ballista with my emblem draw, which I play as a 3/3 and kill Chandra immediately. My next draw is Monstrous Onslaught with no creature on board, then Renegade Freighter as emblem draw. My opponent has lethal on board, so I concede.
Game 3: I keep Revoke Privileges, Skywhaler's Shot, Bastion Enforcer, and lands. My opponent leads with Unbridled Growth and eventually Defiant Salvager. I draw a bunch more lands and my opponent is stuck on three. I use the Revoke Privileges on the salvager and a Thopter Arrest on Aether Chaser. My opponent adds Lifecrafter's Bestiary and Alley Strangler. After drawing so many lands, I finally hit Nissa, Vital Force. My opponent has shock for Bastion Enforcer, so Nissa goes to 4 loyalty. I drop Druid of the Cowl and an unrevolted Deadeye Harpooner. Unfortunately, my opponent hits land 4 and plays Chandra's Revolution to kill one and then brings Nissa to 3. Luckily, I had already put my opponent to 2, so I just swung with a land and my druid to force the chump and bring my opponent to 1. I keep attacking but my opponent had some chumpers. When I kill the board and finally get to add another creature of my own--Consul's Shieldguard--my opponent plays Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Winding Constrictor. I top deck a Caught in the Brights, which lets me finish the game. My opponent also had a whole 20 seconds left on their clock, so that was fun.
Post-match thoughts: Nissa, Vital Force is an interesting card. In this match, only once did I not make a 5/5. I do wonder how often that was correct though, because I might have been able to speed things up if I had just returned a creature and played it. Similarly, there was numerous times was Nissa was at 7+ loyalty and I debated how safe she was so that I might ultimate her to draw extra cards. I just haven't played with her enough to know, but it was deeper than I expected.
Match 2 rubensuarez: 2 - 1 vs. Green Red Aggro
Game 1: Opener: Walking Ballista, Monstrous Onslaught, Countless Gears Renegade, Dawnfeather Eagle, and lands. My opponent leads with Thriving Rhino and Aetherstream Leopard to my 2/2 renegade. Without much to do, I play ballista as a 2/2 on turn 4. Sadly, my opponent had Chandra's Revolution ready for it, which also really hampered my next turn because I couldn't get Dawnfeather Eagle down. Instead I just get to play the Ninth Bridge Patrol I draw. My opponent plays Weldfast Monitor and Speedway Fanatic. I trade my renegade for their pilot and then draw Revoke Privileges. This presents a choice of either killing with Nature's Way and pacifisming something, or adding the eagle. I'm at 7 life and my opponent has no energy to pump the leopard, so I think stopping two creatures is the way to go, as I don't want to trade more away unless I have to. In response, my opponent adds Frontline Rebel and Welder Automaton. I add the eagle and pass. My opponent only attacks with the leopard and rebel, so I eat the leopard and go to 2. My opponent activates the automaton to bring me to one, but on my turn I get to use Monstrous Onslaught just to kill the automaton. Empty-handed, my opponent top decks into Aethersphere Harvester and keeps his rebel from trading with my eagle by crewing. I hit blanks, unfortunately, and then fall to the harvester
Game 2: My risky opener is Thopter Arrest, Nature's Way, Caught in the Brights, Verdant Automaton, Renegade Freighter, and 2 Plains. Luckily, my first three draws are Forest and 2 Plains. I play the automaton followed by freighter while my opponent is stuck on 2 lands. I put a counter on the autobot to pilot the freighter, then my opponent makes their first play, Speedway Fanatic, while staying on 2 lands. Despite my board, my opponent does not attack--they are not going to block, but do not get in for 2 damage while I am tapped down. I keep attacking and my opponent hits some land and starts killing my creatures. However, I am able to draw enough to removal for his creatures and creatures of my own to stay ahead and win fairly easily.
Game 3: This game I start with Skywhaler's Shot, Highspire Artisan, Walking Ballista, Ninth Bridge Patrol, and lands. My opponent leads with Verdant Automaton, Sweatworks Brawler, and Aetherstream Leopard. I miss land drop 4 and just try to establish a board presence. My opponent adds Aethersphere Harvester and attacks--I don't block in hopes of catching up the next turn. I draw my fourth land and decide to pass so that I can kill the harvester on attack. I double block the leopard to spare me the damage and trade my freighter for it--I also wait to get my opponent to spend the energy on lifelink before I kill the harvester. For some reason, my opponent chooses to kill my 0/3 artisan, leaving me the freighter. They play a 6/6 Lifecraft Cavalry and pass. I use my Thopter Arrest and cast a 1/1 ballista. Sadly, my opponent gets Quicksmith Rebel and pings the ballista. At this point, with my opponent empty handed, I crew up the freighter and attack, making it 5 power. I doubt my opponent will double block to trade while at 19 life, so I think it is worth the chance to get in the better Monstrous Onslaught. With no blocks, I use the onslaught to chew up the rebel and the brawler. My opponent gets Implement of Ferocity off the top, and pumps his autobot to make it a 3/4 which I throw a servo in front of. I put out Consul's Shieldguard and bring my opponent to 10. At this point they just pump the autobot to a 5/6 and pass--they cannot attack or risk a lethal counterattack. Regardless of their choice, I have Caught in the Brights and a creature to crew the freighter to take the win.
Match 3 dh8: 2 - 1 vs. Red Black
Game 1: I start with a mull, leaving me with Prophetic Prism, Deadeye Harpooner, Nature's Way, and 3 Plains. At least my opponent mulls as well. However, they start with a Smuggler's Copter and Aether Swooper, to my prism and harpooner. The harpooner dies to Prey Upon at first chance. Next, my opponent has Foundry Inspector while I get up Consul's Shieldguard and Bastion Mastodon. When I eat the inspector, the mastodon then dies to Vengeful Rebel. I use Prey Upon and Nature's Way to clear some creatures, leaving my opponent with a servo and the copter. Next I see Hinterland Drake and a swing. I get down a 3/3 Walking Ballista which pings the copter down, after my opponent plays Shipwreck Moray. When my opponent uses Leave in the Dust on my lone creature, I concede to lethal on the board.
Game 2: I keep a loose hand of Dawnfeather Eagle, Countless Gears Renegade, Ninth Bridge Patrol, Prey Upon, Verdant Automaton, and lands. Luckily, I get up to 4 lands which allows me to get in for some damage, while my opponent starts with Hinterland Drake and then follows with Foundry Inspector and Smuggler's Copter. I add a 1/4 Highspire Artisan as a blocker while my opponent adds the second Hinterland Drake and swings in, using a Prey Upon to finish off the artisan. I add Dawnfeather Eagle and attack my opponent to 9. I trade off my eagle and my 2/3 automaton for the copter and the inspector, and my opponent adds a Riparian Tiger. I use Revoke Privileges on the tiger and swing with my now 4/4 patrol. After combat, I add the renegade to the board. My opponent attacks with 1 drake and then adds Aethersquall Ancient, which is quite intimidating--they are currently at 2 energy. I add Consul's Shieldguard and pass back. My opponent attacks with just 1 drake again, setting up lethal for the following turn. My draw is Impeccable Timing, which adds to the Prey Upon I have. Here is the board as it is at this moment:
So, at this point I go into the tank quite a bit, trying to figure my best way out of this situation. With my opponent now at 7 energy because of the Aether Swooper, I have to win here, or at the least get the Aethersquall Ancient off the board. I'm not sure what the best approach is--perhaps waiting to Prey Upon afterward, but the problem there is that if my opponent doesn't block with the ancient, I will lose. My opponent must also realize that the ancient is key to their survival. In the end, after nearly two minutes in the tank, I decide my best option is to force the ancient to block by killing something with Prey Upon. So I use that on the patrol and drake, and then attack with the team, making the patrol indestructible. At that point, my opponent has to choose what where to set blocks--the Aether Swooper clearly goes on chump duty in front of the 4/4. My opponent then spends nearly half of their remaining time to decide on blocks. Letting the Consul's Shieldguard through presents multiple ways the opponent dies--Blossoming Defense, Inspired Charge, Built to Last, and Lifecrafter's Gift. If I had Highspire Infusion, my opponent would be dead no matter what. So, I understand why it took so long to decide, but my opponent did not have that luxury. In the end, they blocked the shieldguard, which was the only way for me to kill the ancient with Impeccable Timing. Facing down a 2/2 and a 5/5 left on the board, and probably due to time, my opponent scoops on their next draw.
Game 3: Well, my opponent has 4.5 minutes to my 17, so I feel good about my odds. I open with Ghirapur Osprey, Bastion Mastodon, Impeccable Timing, Prey Upon, and lands. The first play is a Scrounging Bandar from my opponent, which eats an Impeccable Timing. My opponent follows that up with Scrap Trawler while I have Bastion Enforcer and Ghirapur Osprey. My opponent adds Shipwreck Moray and Aether Theorist over the next turns, while I get Bastion Mastodon and Nissa, Vital Force. I use Prey Upon to kill the moray as it could allow some less than ideal trades. My opponent gets Ridgescale Tusker down and I add Renegade Freighter. I bring my opponent to 5, and on their turn they use Prey Upon to kill the mastodon and then summon Riparian Tiger. Meanwhile, I keep drawing lands--I think for quite a while about making an emblem or getting back the mastodon, but decide to keep up the aggression, trading a land for the tiger. My opponent, with about 30 seconds left, plays Aethersquall Ancient. I draw Monstrous Onslaught, which I use to kill the tusker. I swing with the team, but my opponent times out. Regardless, I feel I would have easily won this, as my opponent was too far behind--after the swing they would be at 2 life and 0 cards.
Alright, here is the Aether Revolt pack I opened:
Briefly, here is the pack value:
||$3.68 or $4.00 or 40 PP
||+40 PP - 40 PP + $0.19
I always enjoy when the new packs have good strong additions in the colors you are already running! Tune in next time for the changes!
This deck surprised me quite a bit with its ability to come from behind. I'd love to hear other's thoughts on the attack I made with Prey Upon and Impeccable Timing options. I hope you enjoyed the league! As always, I appreciate comments and suggestions!
xger21 on MTGO