Let’s hear it for Boros, right?
The New Way Of The World
My Gatecrash Prerelease experience happened in a shop a town over from the usual spot I play EDH at on Wednesdays. This is the usual place that I go for these things (since the death of the big regional prerelease, anyway) at least in part because it’s an easier drive with ample free parking and far more interior space and free lunch provided to the players, but also mostly because Patrick runs the events there.
It’s kind of a new world for us these days, I suppose. Back when our friend
was still living in the area, we would show up as a team. We’d get food before and after, and there were a good bunch of us in the store that would work together to split prizes out and make sure everyone got taken care of. (The unspoken rule was that if you played another one of the guys in the crew, you’d distribute some prize packs down if you won, and vice-versa.) It was a pretty cool time. Chad
Ah, the good old days.
Anyway, the more I play these events, the more I realize they’re not particularly my favorite thing. I like the group mentality, and while there’s a good portion of the crew from the other shop, everyone is pretty much in focus mode for the day. The pace is higher, and there’s pressure. I’m not particularly used to that anymore. I also recognize that I do have a touch of competitive nature that comes out whenever I play Magic, and while it stays (mostly) tucked in for EDH games, it comes out in force when I’m playing tournaments like this.
And that brings us back to Boros. I won’t try to cloud the issue here…I’m not a good sealed player. I don’t like the random element that gets added to the mix when you’re not given an opportunity to take part in selecting cards, and I know that I tunnel-vision in on a strategy ahead of time and miss things that likely would make my deck better.
This wasn’t a problem in the old days of the bigger Prereleases. You join a flight, you go 0-2 or 1-2 and drop, but there are events running all day, and you’ve just gained solid information as to what works and what doesn’t. We used to return from these events with boxes worth of product between us. Now, it’s one-and-done, with nothing else to play for the day.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I haven’t finished “in the money” for many a Prerelease.
That finally changed with Gatecrash…and it’s not particularly a good thing.
Interlude – Things That Make My Head Hurt, EDH Version: Part One
Before the event on Sunday, I watched a three-player EDH game unfold. The details aren’t particularly important, other than the fact that the Rith player came packing an all-permanents-plus-Primal-Surge deck. He resolved Primal Surge, and then actually started to go through the motions. The other two players didn’t scoop for several minutes.
From there, the Rith player started to try to explain what was going on, and seemed honestly confused when several of us from the other shop pointed out how it was kind of heavily-treaded territory already.
The other side of the fence is a weird place, folks. In other news, I’m going to start doing custom alters for Primal Surge. They will involve no other changes other than blanking the text box and scripting in “You win the game.”
Back To Boros
Being in tune with the interwebs and TwitterBook and whatnot, I was paying close attention to the returns on the Friday Prereleases. It was fairly open-and-shut – while the other guilds could compete with the correct cardpools and a bit of luck, Boros was cleaning up with pretty much whatever stuff people were opening in red and white.
So I called ahead and switched to Boros. New Years’ resolutions be damned.
The pool was pretty solid. A pair of guildgates, a Boros Keyrune, a pair of Sunhome Guildmages, a pair of Frontlines, tons of the white and the red two-drop Battalion guys, a smattering of good removal, and a Firemane Avenger to go with the promo Foundry Champion. The deck really built itself.
I stumbled in the first round, winning the first game handily, but getting bogged down with some sub-optimal draws in the second game, giving the other player (in Simic) time to set up a team that outclassed mine. The third game was the frustrating one; I had two Mountains in my opener, and only needed another land of either kind to get some serious early pressure. I wasn’t worried, as the deck packed 19 mana sources.
Of course, I didn’t see a land for four turns and lost.
The next four rounds were fairly pedestrian. Most ended in 2-0 routs, and the ones that didn’t were mostly due to my recurring mana issues, but I took the matches in the long run. The final round was a Boros mirror; he won the die roll, and whoever went first in the games won. Total record: 4-2. Two prize packs, and a haul of a Sylvan Primordial for the Karador deck, and a Watery Grave and Breeding Pool to ship for store credit.
Verdict: It’s nice to win. I wish the games were a little more interactive, but Boros sealed seems to be really straight-forward – play guys quickly, turn them sideways, overwhelm with speed.
Interlude – Things That Make My Head Hurt, EDH Version: Part Two
Standing around before things got going on Sunday, I was close enough to a group of players to overhear them discussing EDH. They were saying things like “optimal deck construction” and “consistent turn-four wins.”
Kids these days.
Sunday – I Officially Sell Out
I woke up on Sunday and sent the following text to
, who had played Boros the day before at his local shop in Chad Chapel Hill and was getting ready to head there for another event:
“What are you playing today? What am I playing today? ;)”
“I’m playing Boros. You should too.”
Realizing I didn’t want to stew under an inferior card pool that I’d likely mis-build and mis-play anyway, I texted Patrick to switch me from the Orzhov I promised I would play to Boros again.
“Word. Sucker. :P”
I’m nothing if not consistently inconsistent.
The pool was similar, in all honestly. Most of the same guys, most of the same removal, with the difference being one less Firemane and one more Aurelia’s Fury. I was okay with this.
I steam-rolled through three rounds fairly easily. My opponents were great, and the decks I faced were solid, but I never really felt like I was in danger of dropping a game at any point. I was racking up turn-five wins, and pulling off things like, “In response to your Pit Fight, Aurelia’s Fury to kill your team?”
I finally dropped a match on round four to Andrew from the other shop. He showed up late, and I helped him put together his deck in a hurry, suggesting he splash green in his Boros pool to fill it out.
The games went as expected. Game one, I kept a hand that had three Plains and would have had battalion online on turn four, but I never saw the Mountain until it was way too late. Game two, I did see the Mountain and got battalion going, while Andrew stalled on three lands. Game three, Andrew played first and got a solid start, and I kept a three-land, one-Mountain hand that never spit another Mountain for about seven turns. I was looking at the Homing Lightning to blow his team out and a bunch of solid playables, but by the time I could finally get anything going, my team was in shambles and I was too low on life to recover.
Oh well. So it goes.
I was able to end the tournament one round early by getting paired in round five against one of the three undefeated players. He was in Boros, but I won the die roll and won the first game, dropped the second one, and then came out with battalion and removal in the third to keep him on the defense the whole time. 2-1, total record of 5-1 and good for fourth place and a quarter-box. Total haul – the white and black Primordials for Karador, the Glaring Spotlight for Memnarch, and a Godless Shrine, second Breeding Pool and Domri Rade in addition to the Aurelia’s Fury to ship for nearly $90 store credit.
Not a bad weekend’s work.
Interlude – Things That Make My Head Hurt, EDH Version: Part Three
I was told of another pre-tournament pickup EDH game that involved a mono-blue Ertai, Wizard Adept. As near as anyone could tell, it was designed around every playable counterspell in existence, and wanted to basically do absolutely nothing but set up Forbid with repeatable back.
The grass isn’t greener, apparently. It’s sun-scorched and brown and dead.
I suppose this begs a reason for my “…it’s not a particularly good thing” statement above.
I’ll explain with a story. After I lost to Andrew, he asked me to play another game for fun. I declined. I explained that I didn’t particularly enjoy playing my deck at all. The Boros sealed decision tree is nearly devoid of branches – I played every playable card in the pool, never needed to sideboard, and just played the best creature in hand every turn and swung.
Now, I know that’s a bit over-simplified, but it’s honestly not that far off. Spit out guys, get battalion of any flavor you have active as soon as possible, and keep swinging. If your opponent stabilizes, he’ll be at too-low of a life total to get back in the game before you just rebuild more cheap threats. If you draw removal, toss it at the biggest threat.
It’s Magic 101, and it represents the biggest reason I love EDH.
I want long games. I want interesting games. I want big attacks and huge spells, and big momentum swings. I want social interaction. I didn’t really get any of that this past weekend, and it didn’t feel good. There was a lot of standing around, and discussion about the games and cards, but I didn’t really have much to say. I could just answer “I’m playing Boros” to every question. I felt very hollow and not at all genuine or interesting, and that’s not usually the case. I don’t like being that guy.
The more I play non-EDH, the more I realize I don’t like who I become when I play competitive Magic either. I get quiet. I focus. I agonize and become angry about losses. I feel like a jerk when I win and say, “Good games!” or “Thanks for playing!”. It’s just not my cup of tea, I guess.
I don’t know. I suppose I should shut up and be happy I won, and get back to talking about EDH. I’m not quite old enough to be the grumpy old guy telling kids to get off of his lawn.
Close, but not quite.
What were your experiences like? What did you open that you were looking for? How were your games? Did anyone get in any good EDH? You know what to do.