So, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything, but it seems I finally have something to say. For those that have listened to recent episodes of Kicked in the Dicebags, you know I’ve recently decided to buy back in to one of the most expensive habits a geek can have, Magic: The Gathering. The prerelease for MTG’s 2011 Core Set was this past weekend and I was there, ready to open packs, chase that rare goodness, and compete in limited tournaments for the first time in two years. For me, this was the best time to jump back in. Magic‘s Core Sets contain the building blocks that all decks are based on. Sure, all the juicy bombs are in the other sets, but it’s hard to build a competitive deck without many of the staple commons and uncommons, such as Mana Leak, that the Core Sets contain.

I played in two tournaments on Saturday, a 5-round swiss sealed and an 8-man booster draft. What did I play? How did I do? This and more after the jump.

My sealed pool contained more than it’s share of bomb cards. A Gaea’s Revenge, Garruk Wildspeaker, Ancient Hellkite, and Hoardling Dragon more than forced me to build Green/ Red. I felt great about this deck:

Lands

  • 8 Forest
  • 7 Mountain

Creatures

  • 1 Ancient Hellkite
  • 1 Awakener Druid
  • 1 Brindle Boar
  • 1 Chandra’s Spitfire
  • 1 Earth Servant
  • 1 Ember Hauler
  • 1 Gaea’s Revenge
  • 1 Garruk’s Companion
  • 1 Giant Spider
  • 1 Hoardling Dragon
  • 1 Llanowar Elves
  • 1 Sacred Wolf
  • 2 Sylvan Ranger
  • 1 Vulshok Berserker
  • 1 Yavimaya Wurm

Other Spells

  • 2 Act of Treason
  • 1 Chandra’s Outrage
  • 1 Garruk Wildspeaker
  • 1 Hornet Sting
  • 1 Lava Axe
  • 1 Thunder Strike
  • 1 Volcanic Strength
  • 1 Whispersilk Cloak

Despite only running 15 land (in limited it’s much safer to run between 16-17), I had no mana problems with this deck. What I did have was a lack of answers problem. I relied too heavily on my “bombs” to win me games and if my opponant had an answer for them or threw down a game winner of his own, it was game over.

I went 1-2 before dropping from this tournament. With the really powerful cards I had in my pool it was a disappointing finish. Lesson learned: Don’t be blinded by the awesome unless you have solid commons and uncommons to back it up.

Next was the draft. I recognized pretty early on that red was the color no one wanted. It’s rare in a draft that you can build a mono-colored deck, but with the options I was being passed, I went for it. After the draft, I was heavily disappointed. After my red/green fiasco during the sealed, I was eager to try something new, but it’s better to take what you can get in draft rather than fight with other players for a more popular color. Here was my deck:

Lands

  • 15 Mountain

Creatures

  • 3 Arc Runner
  • 1 Berserkers of Blood Ridge
  • 2 Bloodcrazed Goblin
  • 1 Cyclops Gladiator
  • 1 Ember Hauler
  • 1 Fiery Hellhound
  • 2 Goblin Balloon Brigade
  • 1 Goblin Piker
  • 1 Goblin Tunneler
  • 1 Manic Vandal
  • 1 Prodigal Pyromancer
  • 1 Stone Golem

Other Spells

  • 1 Chandra’s Outrage
  • 2 Fireball
  • 1 Fling
  • 1 Lava Axe
  • 1 Lightning Bolt
  • 1 Shiv’s Embrace
  • 1 Sorcerer’s Strongbox
  • 1 Warlord’s Axe

For me, this was not a very exciting list. No shiny bombs here. Instead, I ended up with a deck that was very consistent at doing damage and answering threats. I went 3-0 to take top spot in this tournament with the most intense and exciting play being the last turn of the final match.

In this game, I was playing against my opponent’s White/Black deck. I was at 4 life while he still had 10. He had a creature on the board, I had none. And he had 3 cards in hand to my 1, a single Arc Runner. He attacks with his 1/2, dropping me to 3 and passing the turn. I draw a second Arc Runner, play both from my hand, and swing for his exact life total to win the tournament. Wow, just wow. “Poor man’s Ball Lightning” for the win? Damn skippy…

The release events for this set are happening at game stores all over the world this upcoming weekend. If you’re already playing MTG, you’re already there, but if you used to play or have never played, but are interested, I suggest checking it out. $15 is the price for a booster draft, and as they generally last a few hours, it’s a good price. Sit down, draft some cards, build a deck, play. It’s also a good chance to make new friends. The Magic community are pretty supportive of one another and everywhere I’ve played, I’ve met people who want to positively influence the game by helping new players. For instance, I was talking to a guy between tournaments and mentioned that I’m coming back to the game after two years. I had a collection back in Florida, but it was given away by my ex, so I’m having to rebuild. He casually says, “I’ve got a box of extra commons and uncommons at home. I’ll bring them for you next week.” How awesome is that? It’s essentially the equivalent of someone saying, “Oh, you’re thinking about getting back in to D&D but don’t have a players handbook? Here, I’ve got an extra.” Kudos to that guy.


Jonathan Landreth is the co-host of Kicked in the Dicebags and Funnybooks with Aron and Paulie and their Amazing Friends.

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