A few months ago I attended the pre-release event for the M12 set of Magic: the Gathering.  These events are generally the only limited format events that I attend, as they are generally the only sealed deck tournaments around.  I’ve always preferred sealed deck tournaments over booster drafts.

I think the reason for this is the nostalgia; every player’s initial venture into Magic is the equivalent of a sealed deck, and building decks around that type of limitation really takes me back to the old days.  Also, in the sealed deck format, you have ALL of the information on the front end.  Even when you have a bad draw (a rarer thing than most people think), you have everything you need to make the deck of your choice.  In drafting, I’m often frustrated by the need to change strategies part way through the draft, and the wasted card picks that it produces.

Generally, I’ve found that, when I have a bad tournament, it’s because of a poor selection on my part and NOT because I had a bad draw.  That said, every once in a great while, I get the nuts draw.  That’s what happened at the M12 event.  Here was my deck:

1x Reverberate
1x Warstorm Surge
1x Fireball
1x Fling
2x Shock

1x Stave Off
2x Timely Reinforcements

2x Blood Ogre
2X Lightning Elemental
1x Wall of Torches
1x Fiery Hellhound
1x Bonebreaker Giant
1x Goblin Arsonist
1x Inferno Titan

1x Archon of Justice
1x Alabaster Mage
1x Peregrine Griffin
1x Greatsword
1x Rusted Sentinel

10 Mountain
7 Plains

This was just about as good of a haul as I could have wished for.  Here are my specific thoughts on its use.

  • 4 of my 6 rares were on-color; the other two were Sorin’s Vengeance and Sphinx of Uthuun.  This was the only place where I felt that “luck” – albeit, a LOT of luck – was involved with this deck.
  • I had a total of 5 spells that did direct damage, and two additional removal spells if you include the Archon of Justice and the Reververate.
  • Reverberate is one of the best cards to have in your deck in this format.  There’s a reason why Fork was restricted for the first 9 years of Vintage Tournaments; it is one of the most flexible cards in the format, and is an amazing equalizer for bombs.
  • Stave Off gave some really nice combat tricks – I could use it to save one of my chump blockers, make another blocker unblockable, and on at least two occasions (one of which was forked by the Reverberate) I used it on an opponent’s creature to counter a buff they were trying to use.
  • Inferno Titan is a killer in this format.
  • Warstorm Surge was just insane when it hit the table; in fact, I didn’t lose a single game after it dropped.  It was especially sick when followed by Inferno Titan.
  • Special note on Fireball:  During one of my first sealed deck tournaments back in the 1990s, I left out two Howl From Beyond.  I just didn’t realize at the time how good that card was.  Since then I have learned my lesson: if the card has an X in the cost, it’s probably worth putting it into your deck.

I also had the following sideboard cards available:

Demystify: just in case they had some nutty enchantment, like, you know, Warstorm Surge.
Gideon’s Lawkeeper: To keep any crazy creatures at bay.
Roc Egg:  Not so powerful by itself, but very useful again someone relying on mass removal, like Day of Judgment.
Angel’s Feather: to keep the white weenie decks honest.
Combust: to punish others playing white or blue.

You’re probably wondering why I’m talking so much inside baseball about Magic today.  It’s mainly because I’m really excited about the new set, Innistrad.

I didn’t get a chance to attend the Innistrad Pre-Release event this weekend, as I was too busy writing reports for school.  I’m almost certainly going to be buying into this set, though.  This set really takes me back to my starting days of Magic.  While it was often hailed as the worst set in the game, Homelands was the newest set out when I started playing.  Of all of the sets available at the time (4th Edition, Ice Age, Homelands, Chronicles, and Fallen Empires), I found Homelands to be the most flavorful.  I bought into the other sets for the power level, but I bought into Homelands because of the general flavor of the story.

I remember the first time I pulled an Autumn Willow, and the first time I traded for Baron Sengir.  I remember my first constructed tournament; I played a Sengir Vampire theme deck.  I remember blowing people’s minds by forcing their little 1/1 to attack with Norritt and then blocking with ALL of my Sengir bats and Sengir Vampires; the visualization of the feast taking place was not lost on me.  Most of all, I remember feeling at home with that set.  No epic, cosmic battles; just normal folk trying to defend themselves from werewolves and vampires.

It pleases me that the design team is taking the game back to these roots.

Great stuff!