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By: MirrorMage, Daniel Corradi
Mar 15 2008 12:49am
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Friday. March 7th. 2008.

5.00 A.M.

"Wake Up Daniel."

Throw covers off. Tennis Shoes already on. Been waiting for this day all life.

Throw water on face. Eat some oatmeal. Feels good. Like the rain. Run out of my house. Run two whole blocks. Take a minute to catch breath. Wind on face. Fall to knees. Fitter joggers run past. Damn them.

"It's here."

"Morningtide is here."

"And this time... I'm ready."1

And I was. I was ready by not being ready. A perfect strategy that only the skillfully clueless could master. Or the apathetic, but if you were apathetic you wouldn't care that Morningtide was being released in the first place.

Originally, I didn't intend to open boosters until Morningtide drafts became available. My plan was to sit back, relax, and anxiously watch the auction feeding frenzy from afar. But in the end I caved and bought a single booster. Visions of Mutavaults, Chameleon Colossuses, and Countryside Crushers danced in my head.  Instead, I got this:

Auntie's Snitch? That's what I opened?

That makes me a sad panda.

... and that just about set the trend for the rest of the week. In fact, Auntie's Snitch is the perfect description for my Morningtide experience. Not that great, but not that bad either.

How should you prepare for release events? Many professional magic players recommend studiously pouring over all the cards, mastering all new combat tricks to an exact science, and unraveling the intricate dance of card combinations.

I didn't do any of that.

Instead, I went to the local pub, had a steak sandwich, a pint of Kronenberg and a B-52 shooter. That's how I prepared for Morningtide. In hindsight, it wasn't the brightest of ideas, but I would definitely kill a man in cold blood to have that steak sandwich again. Seriously.

I ended up doing a release league and two drafts.

Here's the pool from my release league:

If I were to invent a word that describes my league pool, it would have to be: Ba-juh?!  (Though, after saying it to myself outloud a few times, it just sounds like a frightened foreigner yelling “badger?!” which makes the word even better.)

Where to begin. White has some decent Kithkin: Knight of Meadowgrain, Goldmeadow Stalwart, and a Ballyrush Banneret. Some removal in the form of Neck Snap and Weight of Conscience and an Avian Changeling. These are all good cards, but there's not enough Kithkin for me to consider dipping into white. The Jon Finkel in me will have to wait another day.

Blue has Drowner of Secrets for the Merfolk build, but not enough Merfolk to make it a viable option. No Dousers or Anglers makes me a sad panda, but the Stonybrook Schoolmaster did raise an eyebrow and I briefly considered Blue/White. Many think that Merfolk have lost out with Morningtide and I tend to agree. However, all is not lost. There are quite a few Faerie cards: Sentinels of Glen Elendra, two Fencer Clique, and the awesome Vendilion Clique. AEthersnipe and Distant Melody can be splashed in quite a few builds.

Black has some removal. Warren Weirding and Violet Pall. And the Black Mamba herself, Liliana Vess. There are not enough goblins or rogues to go with that build, which means I lose out on two Morsel Theft, which is a shame since it's actually a very potent card. Black has some great creatures however, with Dreamspoiler Witches, Weed-Pruner Poplar, and Warren Pilferers.

Red was the weakest colour by far. It had some decent creatures, Smokebraider, Flamekin Harbinger, Changeling Berserker and Spitebellows. But I mean, it also had a Stomping Slabs, and Hostile Realm? Come on! Come on!! Come on!!!!! Rssss...there's something cursed about my league pools and red, I swear.

Green has the house creatures. Two Game-Trail Changeling, Dauntless Dourbark and Ambassador Oak. There are elves galore too with Jagged-Scar Archers, Nath's Elite, Lys Alana Bowmaster, Gilt-Leaf Ambush, and Hunting Triad. There's also Fistful of Force, which is a card I'm very fond of, as winning clash can often times pushes the damage needed for a win. Two Cream of the Crop is a great addition as well, but I would have preferred two Chameleon Colossus.

I considered a green build, but just couldn’t imagine myself actually winning with it. Elves could have been great if I had a Lys Alana Huntmaster or an Imperious Perfect. But I didn't. In the end, I opted for evasion. If I was going to win, I would have to fly over the Maginot Line. So, I created the following faerie build:

The most notable thing about this deck is the lack of early drops. I just didn't have the faerie cards needed for a good faerie deck, and it cost me in the end. No Pestermite, Thieving Sprite, and not even a Peppersmoke. In an enviroment where aggro decks run supreme. It was a risky move on my part. I just had to buckle down and hope my opponents weren't packing either a highly aggressive deck or Cloudcrown Oaks and try to get in as much damage as I possibly could.


Match 1: My first round opponent played a Green/Black Treefolk heavy deck with Reach of Branches and lots of solid black removal. He also opened Mutavault, which is always a kick in the teeth. Playing against someone with Mutavault in their pool is essentially playing against someone who’s already won more than you will. Grrrrrr. Okay, anger never help solved anything- besides, I’m sure someone is going to break Sigil Tracer. I just need to be a little patient, that’s all.

Game 1: I won the die roll and opted to play first, keeping the following hand:  

After a while I stabilized the board from his early drops, but he’s played high-casting Treefolk left and right, and a late Imperious Perfect doesn’t help. I was stuck with two Morsel Theft in hand that I main-decked because I misread how the prowl mechanic actually worked. Eventually, his treefolk overrun me. (Note: With prowl, it's not when any creature deals damage, it's when any creature of the spell's creature-type deals damage. So I would have to have dealt damage with a Rouge to play Morsel Theft for it's prowl cost.)

 -2 Morsel Theft, -1 Swamp
+1 Cream of the Crop, +1 Turtleshell Changeling, +1 Island

Game 2: I stabilized the board and eventually played a Liliana Vess with more than enough blockers to keep it alive. It became a war of attrition. He concedes a bit early, but I guess he didn’t have an answer to the Black Mamba.

Game 3: He used Treefolk Harbinger to fetch a forest, which showed he had mana issues. I capitalized and played Ambassador Oak and Gilt-Leaf Ambush. I paused and asked if Warrior was a creature type in the PureMTGO room. It was. So, I Distant Melody for five and he never recovers. 

Games: 2-1 Record: 1-0


Match 2: My opponent played a heavy Red/Green Warrior/ Treefolk/ Changeling deck with Taurean Mauler, Briarhorn, and Bramblewood Paragon.

Game 1: I kept a hand with four lands, two faeries and a Distant Melody. My opponent slowly racked up mana. A Briarhorn kills a Sentinels I flashed to block, but I still have another flier out and a Cream of the Crop. I draw lands for a few turns, and Distant Melody desperatley for 1. Next turn I play the Black Mamba which manages to stall the game. I keep it alive by using it to discard my opponent's empty hand. Thanks to Cream of the Crop, I don't need to use her tutour ability . He has nothing for my growing number of evasvive creatures and in a close finale, I reinforce Hunting Triad on a Final-Sting Faerie to seal the deal.

Game 2: He played a turn two Bramblewood Paragon, and proceeded to play an insane curve of Warriors. I tried to level the board with Ambassador Oak and a couple of other creatures, but then he played this: Boldwyr Intimidator.

 
Boldwyr Intimidator + Loads of Warriors + Bramblewood Paragon = Good Game and sad panda.
 
Game 3: I had a few fliers out and my opponent was a bit flooded. I played more aggressively and brought down his life total down to four before he managed to stabilize. I reinforced a faerie token from a Violet Pall played earlier and swing for the last few points of lethal damage.
 
My opponent then asked me to concede saying he needed the win to go 4-1. I laughed for a bit. Laughed a bit more then declined. This would not be the last time someone would ask me to concede. Later in tiebreakers, an opponent smugly offered one ticket as though it were some marvelous bribe. Next time I am not hesitating, I am going to begin reporting individuals.

Games: 4-2 Record: 2-0


Match 3: My opponent played White/Black Kithkin. There are quite a few aggressive Kithkin decks floating around, and some have managed to go 5-0, so I was a bit uneasy, but on the other hand- my opponent was playing White/Black, which is one of the weaker colour combinations in this format.

Game 1: I lost the draw and kept the following hand:

He mulliganed to six, but opened with Cenn’s Tactician! SNAP! He followed up with a Ballyrush Banneret. I held him back with a Kithkin Daggerdare off the draw. He followed with an Avian Changeling which he pumped using the Tactician. I trade the Changeling with a Vendilion Clique and follow up with Ambassador Oak on my turn.

I reinforced the Oak with Hunting Triad making it a 6/6 house, but he drew Weed Strangle and won the clash. It looked like I was in it for the long run, but I had a vague notion of what cards my opponent had in hand and what he was going to draw thanks to clash. He played a Lairwatch Giant which I bounced with an AEthersnipe. He played it again and I Lash Out, won the clash and flew over for lethal damage.

Game 2: I sided in a Ringskipper and kept the following hand:

He played a turn two Banneret again. I played a turn three Vendilion Clique, looked into his hand and saw nothing but land, Weight of Conscience and Triclopean Sight. The removal goes down to the bottom. I gained control of the board and overwhelmed him with fliers.

Games: 6-2 Record: 3-0


At this point, I felt confident. Nothing could stop me, I was Tony Montana, Henry Hill, Al Capone. I had gone from my skimpy pool to commandeering the respect of the league underworld. With two boosters in the bag, this league already was a success. If I won any of my next two matches, I’d snag four boosters and bask in league glory.

Match 4: My opponent played a Blue/White Faerie/Kithkin deck. I saw the following cards Indomitable Ancients, Wizened Cenn, Cenn’s Tactician, Jace Beleren, Ajani Goldmane and more. Go on, take a wild guess how I did.

Game 1: I won the draw and kept the following hand:

I played Hunting Triad and used it with Distant Melody next turn to draw four. I’m trying to slow his deck down, but he played a Muldrifter and kept swinging with his Kinsbaile Balloonist and Goldmeadow Stalwart. He followsed with Ajani Goldmane and die to absurdly large creatures with vigilance.

I think I saw this deck in a Lorwyn Block Constructed Premiere Event...

Game 2: I risked a two-land hand and all three of my cliques. He played less aggressively this time, and casted a Mulldrifter on turn five. I managed to get my cliques out and swung like there’s no tomorrow. He tried and suceeded to stabilize at four life. I swung with all my creatures and tried to win off the back of Fistful of Force. I clashed into a land. Ces’t la vie.

Games: 6-4 Record: 3-1


Match 5: My opponent played a highly aggressively Green/Black/Red Warrior/Rogue build with Oona’s Blackguard, Bramblewood Paragon, and Incremental Growth.

Game 1: I won the draw and kept the following hand:

I drew and played two Cream of le Crops. “Double the pleasure, double the fun with….Cream of the Crop?”  The board position was pretty even, he had a Bramblewood Paragon out and then he played….

Chameleon Colossus. Crap.

Okay, well- I could play around that right? Oh, wait? You played Incremental Growth making your Chameleon Colossus an 8/8, Protection from Black with Trample? 

Game 2: I played Cream of the Crop. He played a turn 2 Oona’s Blackguard, another two rogues, and then a turn six Incremental Growth. Ouch.

Now that was a beating. And yes, this opponent eventually did go on to make top four. 

Games: 6-6 Record: 3-2


Don’t cry for my fellow reader, I managed a highly respectable 3-2. I also choked, but I'll place the blame safely on hubris.

 

Do you know who else went 3-2 in the exact same league? Craig “Scouse boy” Stevenson, managing editor of "StarCityGames" and Erik "Hamtastic" Friborg writer of the “State of the Program" series.

 

So, I - a lowly scrub managed the same record as these seasoned professionals.

All I can say to that is this:

SHAZAM!

This league was a fantastic victory I could place under my belt. Sadly, I couldn't say the same thing about my Morningtide drafts:


Sunday. March 9th. 2008.

7.00 A.M.

Wake up early. Alarm off.

Throw water on face. Brush teeth. Get oatmeal.

Yawn. Turn on Magic. Draft time.

Yes, I woke up that early to draft. It was the only time I was could to thanks to the new changes in how release events are run. (Though, there hasn't been a crash yet! Only excruciatingly painful lag.)

I had a brilliant idea. If I woke up early enough, I would be able to play against American-based opponents who were tired since they'd be playing at two or three in the morning, giving me a competitive edge.

It never occured to me that I too would be tired that early in the morning. So not only would I lose the edge, I might actually give my opponent an edge. So my brilliant idea turned out to be not so brilliant. It also did not stop me from being paired with a 1700+ rated opponent first round.

In the first draft, a first pick Feudkiller's Verdict and 2nd pick Hunting Triad led me towards Green/White, but white quickly dried up and I opted for black instead. I made quite a few mistakes, for one thing- I picked Earthbrawn a bit too high.

Ironically, in pack two I opened an Auntie's Snitch and in pack three, Cream of the Crop.

In the end, my deck looked like this:

First round, I quickly learned why Prowl is overpowered.

Turn two Oona's Blackguard into Stinkdrinker Bandit into Morsel Theft into another Morsel Theft into Auntie's Snitch.

That's right. I was beat to death.

 
le Sigh.
 
The second draft was a disaster.

Pack one, I'm faced with the choice between Nevermaker, Cenn's Tactician or Stenchskipper. I went mad, cackled loudly and rare-drafted. Half-way through pack one, I tried to salvage this train-wreck and go with a elemental build which was not that bad. Pack two however, I first and second picked two Grimoire Thief, laughing madly again. Pack three landed me a Lightning Crafter and Primal Beyond.

Out of the wreckage came this:

Round one I played against Green/White Kithkin/Elves which played a card on turn two that made my jaw drop:

Cream of the Crop.

And then multiple Kithkin Zephyrnaut.

It wasn't pretty. It's never pretty when your own crap turns on you and beats you down extravagantly.


Closing Thoughts

Morningtide is a fantastic addition to Lorwyn sealed with a massive rise in new card combinations and interactions making cards once considered bad good and vice versa. It's a fluid transistion, with the new block causing a huge shift in the power of tribes.

However, It has increased the power level in individual's pool. Chameleon Colossus and Bitterblossom wreck most decks if they're not packing a very situational answer and both Oona's Blackguard and Bramblewood Paragon are a bit overpowered as an uncommon slot. And the Bannerets are paving the way for the rise of aggro decks. The Red/Green Warrior build consistently does well in leagues.

And just when we thought Lorwyn couldn't get any better.

Until next week amigos!

Token Rocky Quote: "You fight great, but I'm a great fighter" - Apollo, Rocky III 

Song of the Week:  Journey - Don't Stop Believing

This Week's MVP: Ambassador Oak 

Number Times “Jon Finkel appeared in this article: 1

1) Word of advice, playing the Rocky theme song may not necesarilly improve your playing ability.

0 Comments

by Ibanez (Unregistered) 24.60.139.247 (not verified) at Tue, 03/18/2008 - 03:24
Ibanez (Unregistered) 24.60.139.247's picture

Liked the article, it was entertaining and makes me want to try a league sometime soon.

I've done a lot of MMM drafts and the number one thing I've learned is that Kithkin are king.  I usually make the finals, and 9 out of 10 times either me or my opponent are kithkin - and whoever is wins.  The likelihood of getting multiples really favors the white weenie deck that feeds off the synergy, and your removal in white is better than the rest of the removal in the set.  

Of course, this could result in Kithkin being overdrafted at your table, although because all your key cards are common you can still come out with a great deck.  

Keep up the good work! 

by Umii at Sat, 03/15/2008 - 12:42
Umii's picture

Nine times out of ten, when non-Pros share their limited thoughts, I skim the article.  But that was an entertaining read with a nice repeated theme.  I'm also a sucker for cheap photoshop jokes.

I'm not the best person to give advice on MMM draft, but you NEED to draft along class lines.  Draft decks featuring green stuff, or elementals will probably not cut it.

Haha by Uludil (Unregistered) 87.57.180.32 (not verified) at Sun, 03/16/2008 - 03:34
Uludil (Unregistered) 87.57.180.32's picture

Oh dear, I really had a few laughs up, while reading your article. Love the cheasy photoshopping. Keep it up - we need a breath of fresh air in between all the serious strategy article.

If you were from Denmark, I'd offer you a column on the newssite i'm editor of. Bravo =)