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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Nov 06 2007 10:22am
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Lorwyn Release Survival Guide 

Lorwyn is here. It’s time to start playing the set. I’ll cover the cards to trade for, the cards that win in limited, draft strategies and go through my first sealed build. Lorwyn is a bit different from other limited sets – in this set, tribes matter more than colors. I’ll talk about that.
The Money Cards:
Here are the big money rares. If you open one of these, you probably just paid for your draft.
Garruk Wildspeaker
Sower of Temptation
And these are a step or so behind: 
Cryptic Command
Gaddock Teeg
Jace Beleren
 The big money uncommons, at the moment:
Makeshift Mannequin
Imperious Perfect
The Mechanics:
The big new mechanics are Planeswalkers (see, for example, Garruk Wildspeaker pictured above), Evoke, Clash and Champion.
Planeswalkers are a new type of permanent. They have loyalty counters instead of life. Activating their abilities either adds or removes a counter. For Garruk, untapping two lands adds a counter. These abilities may only be used during your first and second main phase, and when your Planeswalker runs out of counters, they die.
When a Planeswalker takes damage, it loses loyalty counters. 
In combat, think of Planeswalkers as partners or fellow players. When you attack, you decide whether attackers are heading for the opponent or the opposing Planeswalker. If not blocked, the damage is dealt to the target. You can also target the Planeswalker with a burn spell that targets players – so something like a Lava Axe can do five to Garruk. However, since Planeswalkers are not creatures, spells like Terror do not affect them.
Evoke is the second big mechanic. This allows you to cast a creature for reduced price. This means that you get the advantage of the comes into play abilities the creature has, but do not get to keep the creature. Look at Shriekmaw, pictured above. It can be cast for five mana, and it will work like a Nekrataal. Alternatively, it can be cast for one colorless and a black mana, in which case it works like a Terror. A sorcery-speed Terror – the fact that the spell looks like and is priced like a Terror does not make it an instant. You are still casting a creature, just on the cheap. You can only do that when you could cast the creature. Note also that the creature does come into play and then leave play, so things like Grave Pact do trigger. Also note that the sacrifice is a triggered ability, so you can respond to it. Shriekmaw and Momentary Blink is a combo, although only in Standard.
Clash is straightforward: you and an opponent flip your top cards, and if you have the highest mana count, something good might happen. Two notes: First, if you tie, nothing happens. Clash only has an effect if you win. Second, Clash can be useful for filtering your draws. I have often blown a clash spell when trying to find a land.
Champion is a means of reducing costs for creatures. In effect, you get a good creature at reduced cost, but in return you have to remove a creature from the game. Changeling Titan is an example:  The Titan allows you to Champion any creature. Some cards require you to Champion a certain creature subtype; e.g. Champion an Elf.
Changeling Titan
Draft Strategy and Archetypes:
First of all, like any draft format, you need to look at mana. Lorwyn has a number of decent lands and artifacts that can help fix mana and allow for splashes. Shimmering Grotto is a common land that filters mana. (Wanderer’s Twig) is a common artifact that can fetch any basic land. The set also includes a cycle of lands that tap for one color, but also work as mini-Gemstone Mines – Vivid Meadow is one example. The result is that you can splash.
The cards worth splashing for are, generally, removal. Oblivion Ring is at the top of the list, since it can get rid of all the bombs, from creatures like Dread to Planeswalkers to artifacts and enchantments.  The only downside is that, if the Ring is disenchanted, the permanent returns, but enchantment removal is scarce. 
Blue has a pair of splashable commons: Mulldrifter and Pestermite. Mulldrifter is insane, while Pestermite is a nice combat trick. I tried splashing an AEthersnipe, but you can’t afford the Evoke on a splash, so it is marginal.
You splash black for removal. If you ever see a Shriekmaw, you grab and splash it. In terms of commons, I have splashed Nameless Inversion several times, but the other common removal spell – Weed Strangle – is double black. That’s a tougher splash. 
You splash red for burn spells. Lash Out is a favorite – three damage kills most creatures, and sometimes you get a bonus three damage to the opponent. Tarfire is an improved Shock. I would gladly splash for either of these.
I have not been splashing green. Green has creatures, and not much else. I suppose I might splash for a really good combat trick or massive monster Changeling Titan comes to mind – but I have not done so yet.
It’s not technically a splash, but we now have an artifact version of Seal of FireMoonglove Extract costs three mana to cast, but nothing to activate. It is removal that can fit in any colored deck, can hit players or Planeswalkers and kills about half the creatures in the format. Pick it accordingly. 
The most popular draft format, at least initially, and at the stores I draft at, was Elves. Elves have a bunch of solid members, mana acceleration, aggressive creatures and some real bombs. Elves, in Lowryn, are green and black. ‘m not going to list them all – just click on the filter, set number owned to zero or more, choose Lorwyn and search for elves. Even the commons!    
Kithkin are also a possible draft strategy, but one I have rarely seen succeed. It is possible, but Kithkin are primarily a weenie tribe. It is also possible to have the Kithkin destroy an opponent quickly. It is also possible to have an opponent drop a couple 3/4s and be completely stuck.
Merfolk is a blue black archetype that has had a lot of success. The keys are the flash Faeries, especially the force spike dudes. Faeries also include a bunch of tappers, and the combinations can be extremely annoying. 
Goblins works, but I have not drafted them and rarely played against them. I seem to spend more time playing the people who just played them, or split in the finals against them. I don’t have a lot to say, other than that goblins are now RB, and reanimation plays a fairly important role in goblin decks.
Treefolk and Giants are two other tribes that I have had little success, and less liking. Both tries seem full over overcosted monsters that are likely to appear too late, and do too little.  
Tribes are important. The first draft I did, I mainly took removal, and did not have a strong tribe. I had an insane deck, with eleven cards that killed creatures, plus some card drawing. I ended up going 1-1-1 with that deck. In Lorwyn, you have to pay attention to tribes. 
Lorwyn Sealed:
Lorwyn sealed is an interesting exercise. Here’s my first sealed pool, from an early Lorwyn league.
Burrenton Forge-Tender
Cenn's Heir
Harpoon Sniper
Judge of Currents
Kithkin Greatheart
Kithkin Healer
Lairwatch Giant
Plover Knights
Oblivion Ring
Shields of Velis Vel
Soaring Hope
Summon the School
Triclopean Sight
Colfenor's Plans
Exiled Boggart
Final Revels
Footbottom Feast
Hornet Harasser
Hunter of Eyeblights
Moonglove Winnower
Nameless Inversion
Nath's Buffoon
Skeletal Changeling
Spiderwig Boggart
Weed Strangle
Cloudcrown Oak
Elvish Handservant
Fertile Ground
Heal the Scars
Hunt Down
Lace with Moonglove
Nath's Elite
Seedguide Ash
Sylvan Echoes
Woodland Changeling
Broken Ambitions
Cryptic Command
Deeptread Merrow
Ethereal Whiskergill
Familiar's Ruse
Glimmerdust Nap
Paperfin Rascal
Scattering Stroke
Stonybrook Angler
Tideshaper Mystic
Whirlpool Whelm
Axegrinder Giant
Blind-Spot Giant
Boggart Forager
Boggart Sprite-Chaser
Caterwauling Boggart
Changeling Berserker
Fire-Belly Changeling
Hearthcage Giant
Inner-Flame Acolyte
Lash Out
Lowland Oaf
Brion Stoutarm

Moonglove Extract
Thousand-Year Elixir
Wanderer's Twig

Shimmering Grotto
Vivid Marsh
Vivid Meadow
The first step (after looking for rares and so forth) in Lorwyn sealed is to assess the tribes. Here’s what I have:
Hunter of Eyeblight, Moonglove Winnower, Elvish Handservant, Nath’s Elite (and Woodland Changeling.) These are not a impressive set of elves. I don’t have any of the lords, nor anything with any synergy. The set has elves that both pump other elves, and create more elves. My card pool does not. Not much of a tribe.
2 * Harpoon Sniper, Summon the School, Judge the Currents, Deeptread Merrow, Stonybrook Angler, Paperfin Rascal and Tideshaper Mystic.  The two Harpoon Snipers are good. They are not quite as good as (Ballistae Squad) is in Tenth, but Ballistae Squad is a complete bomb. Harpoon Snipers are a bomb if you have enough Merfolk. Same with Judge the Currents. I don’t have enough Merfolk. Stonybrook Angler is really good – but that’s about it. 
Etheral Whiskergill, Vigor, Mulldrifter, Shriekmaw, Smokebraider. Five elementals, in four different colors. Smokebraider is the nuts in an elemental-heavy decks, but he won’t help cast much here. However, he will let me cast some Shapeshifter cards (Nameless Inversion, for example), so he might still be worth playing. 
2 * Spiderwort Boggart, Nath’s Buffoon, Hornet Harasser, Exiled Boggart, Caterwauling Boggart, Boggart Sprite-Chaser and Boggart Forager. That is a lot of goblins, but they have no synergy. Some, in fact, are just bad. Exiled Boggart is a great example: without anything to pump or abuse him, he is just a card-disadvantage (Grizzly Bear). No thanks. 
Lairwatch Giant, Lowland Oaf, Heartcage Giant, Blind-Spot Giant, Axegrinder Giant and Brion Stoutarm. Brion Stoutarm is a bomb. He is an undercosted 4/4 with some great abilities. Opponents either have to kill him or lose. Lowland Oaf is a Hill Giant at worst, and better with Goblins. The rest of the giants are massive, overly expensive creatures, but they do clog the ground and are hard to deal with. Without Brion, the Giants in this pool are nothing, but we do have Brion.
Other tribes: We have two mediocre Treefolk, four Kithkin and one Faerie. We are not going anywhere with that. 
The other thing this pool has is a wonderful ability to splash. We have two Wanderer’s Twigs (on foil), a Shimmering Grotto and two Vivid lands. We can splash anything. No matter what else we play, we can add the good stuff – and good stuff means removal and card drawing. So, no matter what we play, we will probably make room for these cards:
Oblivion Ring
Glimmerdust Nap
Nameless Inversion
Lash Out
Moonglove Extract
I decided to build around the Giants and Brion, going primarily RW. I added the above cards, plus the elemental crew, since I was already playing several parts of the tribe. 
1 Axegrinder Giant
1 Blind-Spot Giant
1 Brion Stoutarm
1 Burrenton Forge-Tender
1 Caterwauling Boggart
1 Changeling Berserker
1 Ethereal Whiskergill
1 Fire-Belly Changeling
1 Inner-Flame Acolyte
1 Kithkin Greatheart
1 Lairwatch Giant
1 Lowland Oaf
1 Shriekmaw
1 Smokebraider
1 Mulldrifter
1 Plover Knights

1 Oblivion Ring
1 Glimmerdust Nap
1 Lash Out
1 Moonglove Extract
1 Nameless Inversion

6 Plains
6 Mountain
1 Island
1 Swamp
1 Vivid Marsh
1 Vivid Meadow
1 Shimmering Grotto
2 Wanderer's Twig
I splashed the Ethereal Whiskergill because I expected more blue that I actually saw. I also maindecked the Forge-Tender, although that might have been a mistake. The Kithlin Healer would probably have been a better choice – but I have always disliked Healers in the past. This time around, however, the Healer is a 2/2, not a 1/2 or 1/1. That is a big difference, since Grey Ogres (generic terms for a 2/2 for 3 mana) are always playable, if not exciting. 
I found this underwhelming. I only won a couple matches – and finished out of the money.   True, I played against some insane, bomb-ridden decks (e.g. Dread twice, once with Deathrender and once against someone with DOUBLE Shriekmaws and Mulldrifters and Nameless Inversions – and more.) Still.
I also tried a five color green deck, looking to utilize both Brion and Vigor (my other bomb.) The rest of green was less exciting, but not bad. Here’s that build. 
1 Axegrinder Giant
1 Blind-Spot Giant
1 Brion Stoutarm
1 Cloudcrown Oak
1 Elvish Handservant
1 Fire-Belly Changeling
1 Inner-Flame Acolyte
1 Lowland Oaf
1 Mulldrifter
1 Nameless Inversion
1 Nath's Elite
1 Seedguide Ash
1 Shriekmaw
1 Vigor
1 Woodland Changeling

1 Fertile Ground
1 Lace with Moonglove
1 Lash Out
1 Lignify
1 Moonglove Extract
1 Oblivion Ring
2 Wanderer's Twig

7 Forest
4 Mountain
1 Swamp
1 Plains
1 Island
1 Shimmering Grotto
1 Vivid Marsh
1 Vivid Meadow
Lignify was good, on occasion, and great when it neutralized yet another Dread. Lighnify, however, would be best in a deck with a ton of evasion, not one full of ground pounders. Fertile Ground made the mana even better, and I could almost have cut a land (and would have, except for the large number of really expensive men.)  
By the time I was playing this build, I had played my five base matches in the league, so I was playing people who had also played their five initial matches, and wanted to play one. Most of those people had great decks filled with bombs are removal, so making comparisons is harder. Still, I thing this version is slightly worse than the previous build. Five color is just such a stretch, even with all the lands and mana fixers. I had to mulligan a lot, when my opening hand was all off color or random things.
Vigor never showed. Not once – and that could also influence how I thought about this build.
Blind-Spot Giant did not impress me. Even with the Changelings in the deck, he spent way too much time standing around. The two cards that did impress me, however, were Nath’s Elite and Seedguide Ash. Nath’s Elite is amaxing, especially if you can win the Clash. Seedguide Ash is almost splashable, and really good if you run enough forests.
I looked at a base-blue build as well, since Cryptic Command is amazing, and tappers like Stoneybrook Angler are really good. However, the builds kept being amazing against big decks with high end mana costs, but sucking against weenie storms or significant amounts of removal.
Overall, I think my pool was strong, but unfocused.   I’m still angry at not going at least 3-2, although I did get a sort of moral victory in seeing that the players I lost to were ranked first, second and fourth last time I looked. I also had one game where I made my first eleven land drops game one, then mulliganed to four – all no landers – game two. All I can say is that there was a game three that match, but losing was not all bad luck. I made a couple misplay, and starting both Whispergill and the Forge-Tender proved to be bad choices. I had better cards.
I’ll have another pool tonight or tomorrow. Hopefully it will be a bit more tribal – but I would not mind seeing another Shriekmaw. That thing is nuts.
In any case, gl in the release events, and I hope this helps.  
“one million words” on MTGO  


Commons by iceage4life at Thu, 11/08/2007 - 00:20
iceage4life's picture

Heh Nameless Inversion might as well be rare for me.  Opened 0 in three sealed events and in 6 or 7 drafts I've picked up none.  Seen it maybe 3 times in draft but always next to a bomb or when I'm not black/splashing tons of stuff.

Mea culpa by one million words at Wed, 11/07/2007 - 16:26
one million words's picture

I startyed this just after Wis. states - Sower was ahead of Cryptic, at least in paper.  Krakow seems to have changed that. 

You are rght on the merfolk / fairies colors.  I realized that I was mixing fairies and merfolk when I played a  faireie fetcher in a pure merfolk sealed - but if could get Nameless Inversion. 

I suspect I copied an early list of the RG - both Smokie and Changeling Berserker are in the deck now.

I'm torn on Final Revels.  It seems like it should be as good as Pyroclasm in Tenth, but it never works out.  It is eaither a very iffy removal spell or a super slow and marginal pump spell.

Personally, I don't beleive Eyeblight's Ending is a common.  I have done several sealeds and some drafts - and I have seen zero.  Must be ultra-rare.  Seriously -  it is good, and I should not have skipped it.




R/G/x by Klutz (Unregistered) (not verified) at Tue, 11/06/2007 - 20:15
Klutz (Unregistered)'s picture

My R/G/x build was almost the same, and that's the one I like best.  Differences from your build
-1 Axegrinder Giant (Too many better fatties)
-1 Lignify (Last cut; other removal is better)
-1 Lace with Moonglove
-1 Forest
-1 Island (With only a single Blue card, I'll take a chance that I'll see one of 2xVivid or Fertile Ground to cast it)
+1 Changeling Berserker (Not sure how you missed this; it was in your R/W/u deck)
+1 Smokebraider (now casts 8 spells in the deck; that's good enough for me)
+1 Final Revels (This is a must)
+2 Mountain (More balanced R vs G now)

And there's some fantastic sideboard cards for that build like Footbottom Feast (recur your evokers), Peppersmoke (will usually cantrip if there's weenies to take out), and the Lignify that didn't make my first cut.

Not impressed by iceage4life at Tue, 11/06/2007 - 21:17
iceage4life's picture

I like most of your articles this one just seemed kinda weak.  For black removal you didn't mention the common and splashable Eyeblight's Ending.  Cryptic Command is worth twice what Sower of Temptation is.  Merfolk is a UW tribe not UB, faeries are the UB tribe.  And goblins have no reanimation they have graveyard recursion.  Lastly Elementals are a tribe and have the best mana producer in the format, Smokebraider (turn three Mulldrifter, turn four Hostlity? sounds good to me).
I don't mind missing a small thing here andtherebut there just seemed to be alot of wrong or misleadinginformation andlittle content of value in this article.

P.S. Treefolk and giants can both be good but require careful drafting and deck building.  Both are relient on getting solid three drops mainly Battlewand Oak in treefolk and Stinkdrinker Devil in giants.

No Final Revels? by Isotope (Unregistered) (not verified) at Tue, 11/06/2007 - 14:52
Isotope (Unregistered)'s picture

Seems like Final Revels would have been the perfect complement to your spot removal.  It should nasty up just about every other tribe except Treefolk or Giants, and you can clean up the survivors with Shriekmaw, Oblivion Ring, and such.

I think I would have built UBrw with this pool.  Green has a couple solid cards, but not nearly enough depth to justify playing Vigor (smokebraider or not).  Most of the good stuff in Red and White is splashable removal.