Flight #9

So it turned out that the Rise of the Eldrazi pre-release was on the same day as the Cherry Blossom Festival. So in between rounds I looked around the Seattle Center to find taiko drummers, people wearing carp-patterned headbands, and all sorts of Japan-related exhibits. There were no cherry blossoms in sight, so this picture I took last month is all you get.

I tried to register for a Sealed Deck tournament and found to my horror that they took cash only. I had to go to the bank to get money, and when I got back eight flights had already filled up, so I registered for Flight #9.

Image source here

Now as you know, 9 is a lucky number and the number of fools, so I had a feeling that because I was a fool, I was going to luck out.

In Sealed Deck, each player is given six sealed packs of 15 random cards each, and they have to build a 40-card deck using around 20-25 of those cards along with whatever basic lands are needed. I opened my packs and two of these jumped out:

Nine-drops with nine toughness? Awesome! I then decided that I was going to try to win the flight by ramping up to nine mana and unleashing the nineballs.

Main Deck

1 Student of Warfare
1 Caravan Escort
1 Stalwart Shield-Bearers
1 Lone Missionary
1 Dawnglare Invoker
1 Makindi Griffin
1 Totem-Guide Hartebeest

GREEN (11)
1 Spider Umbra
1 Bramblesnap
1 Overgrown Battlement
1 Boar Umbra
1 Sporecap Spider
2 Growth Spasm
1 Kozilek’s Predator
1 Ondu Giant
1 Nema Siltlurker
1 Pelakka Wurm

RED (3)
1 Brood Birthing
1 Battle Rampart
1 Emrakul’s Hatcher

1 Ulamog’s Crusher
2 Artisan of Kozilek

LAND (16)
1 Evolving Wilds
7 Forest
5 Plains
3 Mountain

You know how I wished for a Rampant Growth variant that made Eldrazi Spawn? Well, not only did they print it, but I had the good fortune to open two of them. Score! Between the Growth Spasms, Ondu Giant, Kozilek’s Predator, Brood Birthing, and Emrakul’s Hatcher, my deck ramped like a pro skateboarder, and I felt that I could get away with just 16 lands instead of 18 lands as per LSV’s suggestions.

Remainder of Pool

1 Oust, 1 Soul’s Attendant, 1 Eland Umbra, 1 Survival Cache, 1 Umbra Mystic. I thought long and hard about including the Oust, the Soul’s Attendant (ass-kicking, with all the spawn entering the battlefield), and the Survival Cache. But I decided that the Lone Missionary and Pelakka Wurm were better and more consistent lifegain, and putting in removal defocused the deck from the theme of smashing with nine-drops. In hindsight, I probably should have put the Oust in.

1 Naturalize, 1 Daggerback Basilisk, 1 Snake Umbra, 1 Nema Siltlurker, 1 Haze Frog. I originally had the Snake Umbra and the Naturalize in, but I heard someone telling someone else, “Naturalize sucks, don’t play it”. What would I hit except for Umbras, Hedrons, and Equipment? It was of course going in as soon as a death sentence enchantment or artifact was played against me. The frog is a potential game-winner, and there’s justice in having the frog in a deck with the nineballs, but it neither beats nor ramps. Sorry, Frog. Maybe next time.

2 Goblin Arsonist, 1 Goblin Tunneler, 1 Kiln Fiend, 1 Spawning Breath, 1 Surreal Memoir, 1 Lagac Lizard, 1 Battle-Rattle Shaman, 1 Wrap in Flames, 1 Fissure Vent. The Goblin Arsonists seemed rather bad because of all the high toughness creatures I saw, and I couldn’t see anything that I wanted to remove. I kept the Spawning Breath out for the same reasons: it wouldn’t kill anything except spawn.

1 Skittering Invasion, 1 Hand of Emrakul, 1 It That Betrays. I wanted to include Hand of Emrakul because it cost 9 also, but seeing as I already had two nine-drops that were much stronger, they were left out. With my deck having only 16 lands, I felt that It That Betrays was too expensive. Skittering Invasion was also initially included, but I found that I didn’t need it during the first match, and it stayed out from then on.

1 Nighthaze, 1 Vendetta, 2 Contaminated Ground, 2 Null Champion, 1 Induce Despair, 1 Last Kiss, 1 Bloodrite Invoker, 1 Cadaver Imp, 2 Zof Shade, 1 Curse of Wizardry, 1 Essence Feed, 1 Baneful Omen, 1 Skeletal Wurm, 1 Suffer the Past. Null Champion and Skeletal Wurm look like all-around beatings, and there’s some nice removal here in Induce Despair, Vendetta, and Last Kiss. But I didn’t feel that black was all that strong in this pool.

1 Crab Umbra, 1 Distortion Strike, 1 Deprive, 1 Merfolk Observer, 2 Merfolk Skyscout, 1 Halimar Wavewatch, 2 Hada Spy Patrol, 1 Guard Gomazoa, 1 Jwari Scuttler, 3 Regress, 1 Sea Gate Oracle, 1 Echo Mage, 2 Lay Bare. I hate blue. Notice that no blue characters have appeared in Lotus Cobra is Evil. Ever. This is intentional. Robby, if you want, I have two Jace the Mindsculptors for trade. How the hell could I open two Jaces and no Stirring Wildwoods? Does blue hate me too?

1 Angelheart Vial

Um, no. Although there was one situation in which it might have been good.

Match 1

Having read LSV’s thoughts on Eldrazi Limited, I followed his advice and always went second. The extra card served me rather well.

My opponent was named Lee, and he was playing Blue/Black. In the first game, he brought out a Gloomhunter (2/1 flyer) early and hit me three times with it, while I stalled his ground forces with Overgrown Battlement into Kozilek’s Predator into Stalwart Shield-Bearers. I cast Ulamog’s Crusher on turn 5, traded the Predator with one of his ground creatures, and brought the Predator back with a turn 7 Artisan of Kozilek. He was annihilated.

In the second game, I learned to respect Flying, when an early Skywatcher Adept flew over my walls and soon became 5/3 with full levels and an Eel Umbra. I brought in a Pelakka Wurm to heal myself, but he just kept swinging and cast a Hellcarver Demon. He attacked me for 11 in the air and didn’t even need to trigger Hellcarver’s ability because I was dead. This was when I realized that I had to put the Sporecap Spider in my deck.

In the third game, he used Vendetta on my wall to slow my acceleration. I had superior board position (an Ulamog’s Crusher, an Artisan of Kozilek, a Pelakka Wurm, and assorted weenies) when he dropped the Hellcarver Demon again, and when he swung with it the top six cards of his library contained a Corpsehatch to turn my Artisan into spawn tokens, and an Essence Feed to drain my life for more spawn tokens. He made a mistake, I think, by casting Shrivel in the wrong order to get rid of my weenies, which destroyed some of his own spawn tokens. His turn ended with me at 6 and him at 16. Despite my army being bigger than his, he was one attack away from killing me, and my Crusher and Wurm combined only did 15. I had to draw a flyer or reach creature or die to the demon.

Topdeck: Totem-Guide Hartebeest.

Fetching: Spider Umbra.

Better lucky than good! (I realized later that a better use for the Umbra would have been to enchant one of my attackers and swing for the win that turn.)

Nineballs 1, Opponents 0

Match 2

My opponent was Sam, and he was also playing Red/Green/White, with a substantially bigger splash of Red.

In the first game, he was kind of color-screwed. I had turn 2 Bramblesnap, turn 3 Boar Umbra, turn 4 Kozilek’s Predator, which overran him in short order. I made a serious, serious mistake by not realizing that I could tap creatures for Bramblesnap even if they had summoning sickness, but fortunately it didn’t matter. I felt really stupid afterward. Nine is the number of fools, after all.

In the second game, he cast the extremely frightening Awakening Zone. He cast a Caravan Escort and it was soon fully leveled and wearing a Snake Umbra. I chumped it with Kozilek’s Predator and tokens until I cast an Artisan of Kozilek, returning the Predator. Awakening Zone allowed him to continue chumping the Artisan while he went to Plan B – milling me to death with Keening Stone. I also made a mistake during this game in which I forgot that Battle-Rattle Shaman had given one of his creatures +2/+0. Fortunately, when I cast the other Artisan of Kozilek to return Dawnglare Invoker to the battlefield, I was able to tap all his creatures and attack for lethal. I won with four cards left in my library.

Nineballs 2, Opponents 0

Match 3

My opponent was Justin, and he was playing Black/Red/Green, with spawn tokens ramping up to the mighty Pelakka Wurm.

Game 1 he had to mulligan to 5, while I went Growth Spasm into Emrakul’s Hatcher into my own Pelakka Wurm. He cast a Daggerback Basilisk for defense, and I attacked into it despite the deathtouch. Was this the proper play? My Pelakka Wurm died, dealing 5 trample damage and giving me a card.

Which was Artisan of Kozilek. I guess it was the proper play – by luck. I dropped the nineball, returning the Pelakka Wurm to the battlefield, at which my opponent instantly scooped.

Game 2 we both had Emrakul’s Hatchers into Pelakka Wurms.

I also had a fully leveled Student of Warfare with an Umbra on it, which went all the way. I hear Student of Warfare is a bomb or something.

Nineballs 3, Opponents 0

Match 4

So I was at the top table for Match 4, and my opponent said he had to leave soon. I proposed an Intentional Draw, and he accepted. And that was the end of Flight #9. My prize packs contained a Consume the Meek, among other things.

In other pre-release news, I got to meet Robby of MTG Color Pie, the Magic the Gathering blog in which Lotus Cobra is Evil is serialized. He asked me to autograph one of his Nissa cards, which I did. I also got to meet the professional artist Jaime Jones, illustrator of the fan favorite card (in these circles, at least), Nissa Revane. Robby introduced me as “Adrian Ferrer, the artist who draws a Japanese-cartoon version of Nissa”. To which Jaime Jones said, “When I was in Japan, fans were asking me to draw Nissa in anime form”. How about that?

I had a blast at the pre-release. I heard complaints from some people who hated the slow, bombtastic format, but since I’m 100% Timmy, I was overjoyed to find a format in which hard-casting nine-drops could actually be successful. I made lots of mistakes in both deck-building and playing, but managed a winning record thanks to my lucky number, 9.

10 Responses to “Flight #9”

  1. Ryan Wong says:

    Thank you for the report; I was just going to look for one after checking my blog list (which includes yours). Too bad you didn’t find out if you were the strongest.

  2. KimikoMuffin says:

    I grinned at the Cirno and Daiyousei picture.

    And for the record, I have to say, anything with the tagline “cute makes right” has to be good.

  3. dentonboyz says:

    Nice insight..
    Too bad i didn’t join RoE pre release in my country yesterday…
    My friend got all the Ulamog’s Card though. Kinda envy him…

  4. desudesu says:

    ROE sealed, slow?! NAY, I say!

    The games I had were pretty insane, brah. The games didn’t feel slow at all, thanks to them levellers and eldrazi spawn bullshit going on. I really like how, say, a Null Champion can pretty much win the game if left unchecked.

  5. Nijiru says:

    Nice run, better than I did. Oh well, hopefully you can go 4-0 at the release next week. 🙂

  6. Frein says:

    16 lands is too little in this format regardless of the ramp, especially so since most of the ramp spells cost a lot (more than 2). It’s nice to see you did well, though.

    I went 4-0-1 at my prerelease, though in the final match I actually scooped for a prize split, so my official record was 3-1-1.

  7. Frein says:

    Oh, and I forgot to mention that It That Betrays seems perfectly playable if your deck can produce spawn tokens. I played it in my pre-release and it was fine, though I’d often save it or my other expensive guys for Disaster Radius or Induce Despair.

    Angelheart Vial also seems quite good in this sluggish format. You can draw a ton of cards with it as long as you can afford to take some damage. It’s bad if you’re already about to die when you draw it, though.

  8. Nein says:

    Cute makes right? Is that the Ichigo Mashimaro’s slogan of “Kawaii wa Seigi”?

    I hope you won NINE packs for your prize. Haha.

  9. Sixten says:

    @Nein: Yes, “cute makes right” is in fact Geneon’s official translation of the Strawberry Marshmallow slogan.

    Unfortunately, 3-0-1 only gets 7 packs.

  10. dai1313 says:

    Oh, and you had NINE comments until I messed it up just now.

    It couldn’t be helped.

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