I enjoy shuffling up some Magical Cards from time to time. It’s part of my yearly quota for my Geek Card renewal. (It’s like a Green Card, but it only lets you stay with Internet trolls. 27 more points and I can level up to Middling Wizard With a Smelly Familiar!)
Since I’m still in Perth, I played this Prerelease at Tactics in the city since I wanted to stop by Comiczone after to pick up the latest volume of The Unwritten (which I enjoyed).
I had been keeping up with the spoilers before the event, but since I haven’t been playing competitively in forever, I was just happy to play with some new cards. I wasn’t actually super excited about anything in particular from the new set, but I have really enjoyed Theros and Born of the Gods seemed to be reinforcing more of the same things I enjoyed. The new mechanics, Inspired and Tribute, are really open ended which means that the format is more about general deck archetypes than specific interactions and strategies, although Heroic and Devotion can have decks built around them.
I love the strong thematic design of the cards (which I think has been really great in the past few years of Magic Design) like Eye Gouge, Gild and Raised by Wolves. However, I also really appreciated how the mechanics fit together in this block so far. The Bestow creatures really give a strong identity to the Enchantment theme, which is a great fit for the Heroic mechanic since there can be more spells to target your creatures with. While Inspired can usually trigger off attacking, you’d probably want some ways to let your inspired creatures tap when combat isn’t a viable option. Auras that grant tap abilities serve a triple purpose of providing a heroic trigger, reinforcing the Enchantment/Aura theme, and granting ways to trigger Inspired out of combat. Spells that let you untap your creatures also do the same thing, providing the Heroic trigger and a surprise untap. I really enjoy the environment this creates, as it makes each combat phase more exciting as players are more likely to have combat tricks.
I didn’t have a preference for what colour promo I wanted (truthfully, I’d forgotten what the promos were) so I just ended up randomly with Green. I thought I could have built my pool a couple of different ways, but I knew for sure Green would be the base. Double Crypsis and Archetype of Imagination ended up pulling me to pair it up with Blue. At the last minute, I also added a splash of Red for Spiritbinder and Conscriptor because I thought they were cool, but I probably should have just stuck to straight Blue-Green with a better land base. Here’s the deck I ended up playing:
Leafcrown Dryad, Swordwise Centaur x2, Nyxborn Triton, Nyxborn Wolf, Nessian Courser, Fellhide Spiritbinder, Thassa’s Emissary, Pheres-Band Tromper x2, Anthousa, Setessan Hero, Akroan Conscriptor, Archetype of Imagination, Nessian Wilds Ravager
Crypsis x2, Stymied Hopes, Karametra’s Favor, Divination, Feral Invocation, Griptide, Artisan’s Sorrow, Fated Intervention, Hunter’s Prowess
Unknown Shores, Mountain x1, Island x6, Forest x8
The deck was alright, and I ended up going 4-1, losing in the last round in the end for 6 packs. Crypsis was my MVP for the Prerelease. It let me trade favourably in combat, saved my Tromper from Red removal, and also let me Alpha Strike with Anthousa. The Trompers also really worked well, and I won almost every game I resolved a Fated Intervention. The Nyxborn Triton was surprisingly relevant as I held a few X/2s at bay before stabilizing, and I also oddly never once Bestowed any of my creatures. The few times I could have, I was either already winning or I needed more bodies on the ground. However, the mana base and curve was clunky and the Red felt pretty unnecessary. Definitely not the best build out of the pool, but it was halfway working and I was too lazy to rebuild in between rounds.
All in all, it was a pretty good prerelease. Everyone was really nice and there was a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Although I thought my deck could have done much better, I ended having quite a lot of fun and some interesting games throughout. I like what the new set adds, without changing what I liked about the Theros limited environment too much.
I thought my pool was actually quite interesting to build with, so I’m putting it up here if anyone out there is interested in having a stab at it.
Instants – Mortal’s Ardor, Battlewise Valor, Hold at Bay x2, Last Breath, Ray of Dissolution
Sorceries – Dawn to Dusk
Enchantments – Chosen by Heliod
Creatures – Nyxborn Shieldmate x2, Hopeful Eidolon, Favored Hoplite, Vanguard of Brimaz, Ghostblade Eidolon, Scholar of Athreos, Heliod’s Emissary
Instants – Lost in a Labyrinth, Stymied Hopes, Crypsis x2, Griptide
Sorceries – Divination
Enchantments – Stratus Walk
Creatures – Triton Shorethief, Deepwater Hypnotist, Nyxborn Triton, Wavecrash Triton, Thassa’s Emissary, Sealock Monster, Sphinx’s Disciple, Archetype of Imagination, Kraken of the Straits
Instants – Boon of Erebos, Dark Betrayal x2, Eye Gouge, Pharika’s Cure
Sorceries – Read the Bones, Asphyxiate x2, Sanguimancy
Enchantments – Claim of Erebos, Grisly Transformation, Weight of the Underworld
Creatures – Returned Centaur x2, Forlorn Pseudamma, Loathsome Catoblepas, Hythonia the Cruel
Instants – Spark Jolt, Magma Jet, Fall of the Hammer
Sorceries – Rage of Purphoros x2
Enchantments – Epiphany Storm, Fearsome Temper
Creatures – Reckless Reveler, Fellhide Spiritbinder, Akroan Conscriptor
Instants – Artisan’s Sorrow, Fated Intervention
Sorceries – Commune with the Gods, Culling Mark, Hunter’s Prowess
Enchantments – Karametra’s Favor, Feral Invocation
Creatures – Charging Badger, Sedge Scorpion, Swordwise Centaur x2, Leafcrown Dryad, Satyr Hedonist, Nessian Courser, Nyxborn Wolf, Satyr Piper, Pheres-Band Tromper x2, Setessan Starbreaker, Nylea’s Disciple, Pheres-Band Centaurs, Anthousa, Setessan Hero, Nessian Demolok, Nessian Wilds Ravager
Multicolour, Artifacts and Lands (3)
Creatures – Ashen Rider, Guardians of Meletis
Lands – Unknown Shores
Green had a deep pool of cards to draw from, and was definitely my base colour. With Fated Intervention and Swordwise Centaur pushing for heavy Green, you probably only want a few cards from another colour to round up the deck. With an Unknown Shores, Karametra’s Favor and a few Scry effects, it was also quite tempting to splash a third colour if needed.
With White, it would have been possible to go with a heavier Heroic theme. Favored Hoplite, the 2 Eidolons and Nyxborn Shieldmate would have provided plenty of heroic triggers and targets. The White combat tricks are also decent and with multiple Enchantment Creatures the Dawn to Dusk would have been good value. This deck would be mostly creatures and tricks, but low on out and out removal options.
Blue provides an interesting array of options and was my ultimate choice. Crypsis is an incredible combat trick and all-purpose spell. Divination for refuelling and the Archetype of Imagination for the Alpha Strike when needed. My mistake was probably trying to jam Red in unnecessarily. I originally had the 9th Forest, Deepwater Hypnotist and the Satyr Hedonist in my deck.
Black provides a powerful late game option in Hythonia, but not much else in the creature department. It could have been fine since Green’s creatures were enough to fill in the spots. Black was my second choice with double Asphyxiates, Pharika’s Cure and Weight of the Underworld all providing removal options.
Red was unfortunately too shallow to really consider as anything more than a splash, but like Black offers more removal options. Magma Jet is always welcome. Spiritbinder and Conscriptor are also cute and could potentially steal some wins, which is why I ended up putting them in. However, I’m still not sure if they are worth it. Spiritbinder is fine as a 3/4 for 4 in any case. The double Rage of Purphoros was also quite tempting. Actually, with the amount of Green creatures, I think it would have been okay with just Red-Green.
How would you have built it?