Rock the Dragons

I was fortunate enough to be able to make the midnight pre-release of the latest MTG set, Dragons of Tarkir, on Friday of last week. Its the first time I’ve played competitive MTG in a very long time. Its one of the games that I really enjoy both the theory and execution of, especially in its Limited Formats. I also play cube,  commander and Tiny Leaders, but Limited is definitely my favorite by a strong margin.

This set is fairly interesting, as its the end of a time travel storyline. In the first set, the Khans of Tarkir, we were in a wold that was void of dragons, having been killed out thousands of years ago. The world was ruled by three-color tribes and their Khans.The second set is Fate Reforged, and is set thousands of years earlier, prior to the dragons being destroyed. The main characters prevent the dragons from dying. The Third set, Dragons of Tarkir, is one in which the dragons now rules in two color pairs, their broods and progeny commanding the tribes.

It was a pretty basic storyline that everyone guessed as soon as the main character (Sarkahn Vol) and the plot concept (time travel) were announced. While I really liked Khans, I couldn’t get really riled up for Fate Reforged, but I was stoked for dragons, once I knew what they were going to do. This set had just piles of them, and I wanted in.

The Pre-release has been the same format since I’ve been  re-introduced to the game. You ally yourself with some faction or another, you get a faction-pack, chock full of cards for your colors or factions in order to enable playing your chosen faction, and then your other packs are split between whatever sets your playing. For Dragons, that meant 1 Fate reforged and 4 Dragons of Tarkir packs.

I had no idea what I was doing going in, outside from reading a single article from a friend. Red Green had traditionally been my favorite color pair, so I jumped in with them. I pulled a fair number of solid cards, with a significant quantity of creatures that I didn’t feel handicapped. This has a lot to do with me not going with blue this time, as I feel that I tend to undervalue their creatures. They aren’t big and bruisy, and they aren’t cheap, so I don’t get the instant thrill I do from the red and green creatures. I built a deck that was moderatly fast, topping out at 7 CMC and containing two big bomb dragons: [mt_card]Foe-Razer Regent[/mt_card] and [mt_card]Destructor Dragon[/mt_card]. I felt there was little need to splash in for the other dragon I pulled, Enduring Scalelord, as he needed +1/+1 counters, and I just wasn’t going to have any other than the Foe-Razer. I had some good black and white rares, but not enough to support them, I felt.

Kolaghan’s Command
Dragonlord’s Prerogative
Mastery of the Unseen
Citadel Siege
Silumgar Assassin (x2)

With the green and red I had, I was able to feel pretty good with the curve of the cards I had. I didn’t have a ton of 1-drops but the 2’s and 3’s were plentiful, with the deck based around 4’s and 5’s. I had a couple 6’s and my one big nasty 7.

The First match I was supposed to have a bye, which is a terrible way to start your first MTG tournament in 3 months. Instead, one of the players dropped, and I was able to get in an actual match. I was paired up with a guy running B/R. This was an insane match. The first one I got ahead early but wasn’t really able to push my luck, he had just enough guys on board that I couldn’t push through his deathtouch dude without giving up board presence. Instead, the game stalled and stalled until I was finally able to grind him down and pull those last few life points off.

The second game went fairly similar, though he got the advantage early on and was able to punch through the early damage before we both stabilized the boards. His king of the game was his [mt_card]Rakshasa Gravecaller[/mt_card], was was fatter than anything I had at the time, and brought along buddies. Able to pop enough of my creatures to get his guys through, we moved on to game three.

Surprise, we grind to a halt here again. I manage to get a ton of damage through early on, before he can once again drop the Gravelord and start a terrifying cycle of card draw, pulling back his [mt_card]Palace Familar,[/mt_card] and sacrificing it to his [mt_card]Vulturous Aven[/mt_card]. Eventually, he’s sitting at 7, and I am at 19 when time is called, and our five turns just aren’t enough to decide the game. I put down a pair of creatures, but I still coudn’t hit the tipping point to win the game. I start the tournament 0-0-1.

Next up I face off against a very cheerfull fellow who was also playing G/R, and who seemed pretty knowledgeable about the game overall. Pleasant to play against, he had built a very similar deck to me. Big fattys dropped all throughout the match. This is where I learned that a 5/1, while hexproof, isn’t very good for attacking. He’s amazing for defending and stabilizing a board, as his ability to trade up is just.. phenomenal. His deck was bulit around Tormenting voice, which he seemed to have three of, and included at least two [mt_card]Dragon Fodder[/mt_card]s. These games Dash really showed its strength, with my [mt_card]Goblin Heelcutter[/mt_card] and [mt_card]Sprinting Warbrute[/mt_card] turning game one end over end, and his [mt_card]Zurgo Bellstriker[/mt_card] making his name known on game 2. Once again, I took over game one, out fattying him and putting him on the back foot. He stabilized after killing my goblin heelcutter, but I was lucky enough to get back to back dragons on the board, forcing him to take 10 through the air each turn. Its hard to come back from that.

Game 2 he just ran through me, as my hand and cards refused to cooperate. Early Zurgo along with taking some of my creatures with Loose Calm enabled him to just drub me for game 2.

Game three once again hit time as we smashed our faces into each other once again. Thankfully, I was able to once again find both of my dragons, and on turn 2 of overtime, take him out through the air.

The last match of the night was against a 1-1 player who was playing Blue-White, and had a fairly aggravating set of cards: [mt_card]Battle Mastery[/mt_card], [mt_card]Glaring Aegis[/mt_card], and [mt_card]Graceblade Artisan[/mt_card]. These cards were dropped over and over again with the likes of [mt_card]Pacifism[/mt_card] and [mt_card]Encased in Ice[/mt_card]. The first game I was able to eek through with a win once again on the back of [mt_card]Ainok Survivalist[/mt_card] blowing up his enchantments, and the [mt_card]Dragon-Scarred Bear[/mt_card] being able to Regenerate. I am extremely thankful that he wasn’t able to give the Artisan flying. I dropped the Foe-Razer and was able just to go over the top, something I am not really used to in green.

The second game I was just completely unable to answer his 7/10 doublestrike artisan, and he was able to just run roughshod over the game. Thankfully, that lead to the second game not going to time, as I was able to once again pull a double-dragon on him and punch through the air for the victory. ending up going 2-0-1 over the night, a very respectable showing, I do say, for not playing in 3 months.

I nabbed two packs, one for each of my victorious matches, and took home a ton of cards. All in all, a good day was had. I look forward to the next midnight prerelease!

Now, to go play some dragon age!