From the computer to the tabletop, this is all about games. Updated each week-end.
Oath of the Gatewatch was a good time to get back into the habit of drafting regularly, and if the first time is any indication, I will definitely be back in the future. There was a bit of rusty play be me throughout the three matches, mainly through missing opportunities to activate abilities. Plenty of room to improve there!
Pack 1, pick 1: Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim
As most of my Magic play is casual constructed, this was one card I wanted to see in my packs, and I was immediately rewarded. I was happy to take this card early and see if the black.white cleric deck was a thing.
The deck: black/white
The short answer is that it isn’t. There is no benefit to having clerics in your deck. However may clerics are also allies, so this ended up being a black/white ally deck with a focus on the life gain/ life loss engines offered by certain cleric ally creatures.
My first game was against a blue/green player who had opened Nissa in her first pack and like me had built a deck reflecting that first pick.
Game 1 went to me after a long grind, but in essence I simply bit away with my small flyers and kept any large attackers at bay with double Isolation Zone. I was able to speed the clock up using Retreat to Emeria a couple of times to boost my flyers. The second game saw my opponent stuck on one island with a handful of blue cards. Scythe Leopard did some early damage but was soon facing creatures with too high toughness to get through. Once I held the ground I attacked in the air once more for the win.
My second game opponent had a black/red deck which I assumed would be aggressive but started slower than I did. Before long we were staring at each other over a wall of creatures. I was able to slowly reduce his life by attacking with Vampire Envoy for effectively 2 damage with the trigger from Cliffhaven Vampire.
My opponent was down to 3, and I decided to lose the game by attacking with everything when doing so would not kill my opponent, just change my clock from 3 turns to 2. Naturally he had a combat trick, which saw 3 of my creatures die to none of his. Then he simply untapped and attacked with everything himself for the win.
I should have simply waited and attacked again with the envoy. In hindsight the mistake is less forgivable as there was no upside to me for taking the risk, it introduced the risk of a blow out in my opponent’s favour and that is exactly what happened.
I shuffled up for game 2. This went much the same way as we each cast a Zulaport Chainmage and waited for the second ally. Mine came out first but soon we had our walls rebuilt and were using ally abilities to remove life from each other. My Vampiric Rites stood off to the side making it difficult to kill one of my creatures as I would simply turn it into a life and a card.
Unlike the first game the life swing was going steadily against me, and I soon found myself in the situation of having a land in hand, three creatures on the board, and the certinaly of death next turn. At the end of my opponent’s turn I used my mana to sacrifice all my creatures (I was dead regardless) and see what my deck could reveal – Planar Outburst would swing things back to me. I received a trio of lands. I shrugged, untapped, and drew my card for the turn. I smiled at my opponent, and laid down my hand of five lands. The match was his.
My third and final opponent had had a good draft, in the drafting stage, having opened both Chandra and Kozilek, the latter of which was in his deck.
The main revelation to me from these games was how useful Kozilek’s Channeler can be.
With its 3/5 body and ability to produce a mana from nowhere at the cost of a life, this card impressed me and naturally my opponent had two. The life loss added up though, and my opponent was low on life late in the game thanks to Cliffhaven Vampire and Vampire Envoy.
That’s when he cast Kozilek, and drew 7 cards.
My opponent’s remark that he would probably still lose proved prescient however as I was able to attack with my two flyers and then use Vampiric Rites to sacrifice two creatures, with Cliffhaven Vampire turning that action into the final points of life loss I needed. Phew!
The second game was an interesting one as we built our walls of creatures and my opponent made sure to take Cliffhaven Vampire off the table at every opportunity. Once bitten, twice shy!
As it turned out I was able to cast March from the Tomb to return it and a Vampire Envoy from my graveyard to the battlefield to undo much of my opponent’s work. At this point he decided to concede. Time was ticking, and if we drew, neither of us would get any prizes. In the end I received a promo card along with my prize pack so I went back to the table and offered that to my opponent.
My record was 2-1, but only sort of. That final round concession makes the score look better than it was, as that match was by no means locked up in my favour.
Best Cards: Vampire Envoy and Isolation Zone showed their worth, and having two of each in my deck leant a certain consistency to my games. Planar Outburst would be the literal best card in the deck, but since I only cast it once I don’t think that counts.
Inevitability is good. I lost a match I could have won in a few turns (in my humble opinion) by trying to rush. While we went to time in the second game, things could have turned out differently had I simply played better. That defeat was down to pilot error.
Evasion is king. My damage was coming from 1/3 and 1/4 flyers that my opponents simply couldn’t block. That damage adds up.
The deck: sorted by converted mana cost (CMC) with lands last
CMC1: Searing Light, Vampiric Rites
CMC 2: Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim, Carrier Thrall, Dazzling Reflection, Fortified Rampart, Makindi Aeronut, Stone Haven Medic,
CMC 3: Complete Disregard, Kor Scythemaster, Tar Snare, 2x Vampire Envoy
CMC 4: Allied Reinforcements, Cliffhaven Vampire, 2x Isolation Zone, Null Caller, Retreat to Emeria, Zulaport Chainmage,
CMC 5: Malakir Soothsayer, March from the Tomb, Planar Outburst
9 Plains, 8 Swamp