We’ve finally reached the sandy dunes of Amonkhet and all the wonders it might possess. This past weekend, we had the first introduction to the world of gods and pyramids, oh, and we had a shocking B&R announcement as well. Riccardo gave his initial impressions of the announcement in this article. But before we dive into 60 card decks, let’s follow thematically with my previous article and talk more about limited.
Roman isn’t the only one who battled in a prerelease this past weekend, as I too entered the daunting Trials of the Gods. Residing in beautiful Astoria, Queens offers me many great benefits, including no shortage of Greek restaurants, but the greatest perk of all is how close The Geekery HQ is. The relatively newish store has been around for about a year now, and I honestly think it’s one of the best stores in New York City. Prereleases might be more geared for casuals than for spikes like me, but when a store this great is this close to home, you can’t pass up an opportunity to play with some new cards. It was also my birthday weekend and I was hoping to get a present from the gods themselves!
I attended the prerelease with former Spellsnare scribe and one of my GP San Antonio teammates, Peter Rawlings. Seated and anxious to build, he passed me a prerelease kit which I promptly scoffed at and tossed back his way. Jokingly, I told him that I didn’t want that kit for it was certainly cursed. I took another kit more befitting my destiny. Peter promptly opened a foil Gideon of the Trials and I opened what I thought was hot garbage.
I had 8-10 playables in each color, but nothing was deep enough to support a fleshed-out 2 color deck. I could play some absolute dregs to stay in 2 colors, but I didn’t think the power would be sufficient to beat any 6.5/10 sealed deck. Angel of Sanctions was my biggest bomb, and white also came with a Cast Out. Green was maybe my second most powerful color, but one of the shallowest. It did enable some fixing with Naga Vitalist and a Shefet Monitor, however. In the end, Cartouche of Strength and Trial of Strength were too good to pass up on and I settled into green as my second color.
Being green also allowed me to play the beefy 4/4 for 4, Ahn-Crop Champion. Blue looked a bit deeper than green, but was overall weaker, and I opted for that as my splash color. Lay Claim and Shimmerscale Drake were great splashes due to their colorless cycling, and even though Vizier of Many Faces has double blue in it’s casting cost, I thought it was too powerful to bench. Splashing blue also allowed me to play Aven Wind Guide, an uncommon with an absurd amount of rules text. I luckily had 2 Evolving Wilds to support my doinky 3 color deck. Two copies of Winged Shepherd rounded out my deck with more flyers and I thought I might have some semblance of a plan: Don’t die, play flying creatures.
As it turns out, this was a relatively great strategy for a prerelease! Amonkhet appears to be a slower, yet still aggressive format. You should be interested in killing your opponent, but perhaps be relying on evasive creatures or big beefy beaters, rather than aggressive 2 drops. That’s my initial take away from sealed at least. All cycling cards were great of course, as the floor is so high on them that they’ll never be bad.
Angel of Sanctions was indeed a bomb, and I even got to clone it with my Vizier of Many Faces for the sick rub-ins. Lay Claim was great as were my other expensive cyclers like the pair of Winged Shephard. Shimmerscale Drake was maybe the only card I didn’t ever cycle because it was absolutely great. A flying 3/4 for 5 in this format is simply huge and was most likely my third best creature behind the two aforementioned rares.
Cartouche of Strength was also fantastic, as it’s essentially Hunt the Weak for 1 less mana and adds trample and can bounce back Trials. It’s all around good, and the Cartouches in general seemed better than auras typically are in limited. Part of that is because the removal is somewhat lacking in this format. There isn’t a ton at common and it’s at a premium to answer fatties and bombs. For this same reason, utility creatures seem to have a much higher impact than normal. Fan Bearer was one of the standout white commons to me, and I was impressed with how powerful the little 1 drop was.
Roman also mentioned this card, and I was equally impressed with it: Unwavering Initiate. All the Embalm creatures in general were great and worth a solid amount of value, and part of why I wasn’t impressed with cheap aggressive creatures was because of how good Embalm creatures were at blocking and then coming back to block more.
My first two rounds went quite smooth as I played Unwavering Initiate and blocked everything to buy time for me to start dropping flyers. My manabase ended up being smoother than I thought it was, partly because of my fixing and how great cycling is at letting you see extra cards.
Round 3 game 1 I got smashed by Archfiend of Ifnir, an absolute bomb in this format and something I still have an eye on for Standard. Games 2 and 3 I boarded into 2 Essence Scatter, a great card I would have loved to play main, but opted not to since blue was my lightest splash. An extra island came with creature counter spell and my opponent found his demon bomb never making it past the stack.
Round 4 I drew to maximize my time for birthday revelry. All and all I was happy to 3-0-1 with my pool that I initially thought was an incoherent pile. Flyers are good!
I had only planned on doing one prerelease, but I enjoyed the format so much that I ended up doing another on Sunday afternoon also at The Geekery HQ. I had a similar pool of all my playables being split between 5 colors, but without the benefit of having any bombs. I once again fell into the Bant color scheme, but had a larger emphasis on ramping with a Naga Vitalist, Spring//Mind, Channeler Initiate, and a Weaver of Currents. I had literally 1 piece of removal between all 5 colors and was looking to accelerate into some fatties and flyers once more. I luckily had 2 copies each of Shimmerscale Drake and Fan Bearer however!
This prerelease played out in a similar way to the one before. Trade Embalm creatures, tap down stuff, ramp, cast flyers or big green creatures. I ended up 3-1 with my one loss being to a devastating Heaven//Earth that came at instant speed to murder 10 toughness worth of flying creatures on my side. Earth got flashed back on his turn to murder my two copies of Fan Bearer and I was done-zo. All and all, a solid bit of limited with a record of 6-1-1 in the ever competitive field of prereleases. I do feel like I learned a bit about the limited format (at least in regards to sealed) and I’m looking forward to playing in some upcoming Sealed PPTQs.
Speaking of Sealed PPTQs… the big news for Standard… is nothing. Nothing was banned and everything will be the same!
I was completely expecting something from 4-Color Copycat to get the axe, and the fact that it didn’t means I’ll be sleeving up 4-Color for the near future. Mardu Vehicles still looks to be great, but with the additional hate that Amonkhet brings against artifacts, I’ll be on the combo side of things. Not to mention that while Amonkhet just brought hate against Mardu, it brought plenty of new tools for 4-Color. This is what I’ll be testing this week on MtGO as I prepare to play endless hordes of mirror matches.
4-Color Copycat by Austin Mansell
Yup, the more things change, the more they stay the same. The only big addition to the deck I’m looking to test is the addition of Glorybringer and some cycle lands. Glorybringer should be great at shooting opposing creatures while taking down planeswalkers. The Exerted dragon can be ‘reset’ with Felidar Guardian’s flicker or he can be cloned with Saheeli Rai for extra oomph. Glorybringer looks like a powerhouse in general and I’m excited to see if it slots well into the archetype.
Cycling lands have the benefit of helping the few copies of Game Trail that have been finding there way into 4-Color’s mana base while giving us the option for an extra draw if we’re starting to flood out. The sideboard will obviously need to be tuned once we start to see what the metagame shapes up to be. I’m expecting big things from Manglehorn however, as it should be great against Mardu and is even a potential clone/flicker target against them. Cast Out might be good enough that a copy needs to be in the main. All and all I’m excited to see what Amonkhet brings to the table!
Follow us on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/spellsnare_
Like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/spellsnare