It seems like every release cycle I get locked into two colors. I fondly remember the days of M12 and playing Red/Black vampires and blood thirst. This cycle however I was forced into playing my least favorite colors for the entirety of the events. The bright side of it, though, was that I gained a new appreciation for the pair. For all three release week events I was playing variations on Blue/Red.
For the draft my Pack One Pick One was yet another Devastation Tide. I tried my best to draft Izzet beats like the deck I had at the pre-release, but instead I was forced into strong Izzet evasion. I drafted powerful cards like Wingcrafter, Scrapskin Drake, Fettergeist, and a pair of Heirs of Stromkirk. Unfortunately, I was competing with several other people in my Draft Pod for good blue and red cards, and my deck ended up a bit of a mess. Nevertheless, I forged onward.
For my first round I was up against an opponent that had drafted one of the new major archetypes in Avacyn Restored: Blink.deck. Fueled by Nephalia Smugglers, Cloudshift, and various other blink effects, his army of Gryff Vanguards and Mist Ravens were more than able to best my hodgepodge of a deck. If his blink effects didn’t work his backup play was a Stern Mentor paired up with Galvanic Alchemist.
While I got stomped by my opponent’s blinky deck I really loved the way it played. It was Blue/White and tricksy. It wasn’t that the deck could answer your stuff, but rather I could answer your answers. It was extremely entertaining to play against and watch run. It really showed me that if you get just one or two Enter the Battlefield effect cards it’s always worth swinging for a Nephalia Smuggler. The only real downside to the archetype is that you have to be dedicated to it to make it hum. It seemed best to go all in with the Blink effects or just splash the Smuggler. It doesn’t pay to just dabble with theme. Though running a Cloudshift is never a bad thing.
The rest of the Midnight Draft was relatively uneventful. Everyone still enjoyed themselves. Two Tamiyo’s were opened, one foil. Free pizza was eaten, prizes were given out. Everyone left with something. It was a great night. I’m really starting to look forward to these midnight drafts; they end up being just a blast, even if I end up wiped the next day. Thankfully I had a day to recover before the Release Party.
The Saturday after the release, we at the GP-BT host a release weekend sealed tournament. It’s normally a good deal smaller than the pre-release, but the upshot is that it lasts all afternoon rather than all day. For Avacyn, we had about 28 for the tournament. The Release Party is always a bit more laid back and subdued than the Pre-Release. I tend to prefer it; it’s just a lot more casual. And I was extremely pleased with it this time around.
I was forced Izzet again, but that was OK, seeing as I opened the one card in the set I was hoping for: Tamiyo, the Moon Sage. In contrast to my other Blue/Red decks this one wasn’t at all creature heavy. It lacked any bomby creatures and hoped to grind out a nice, slow control game. And by golly it could do that and do it well. The deck was really driven by the dual pairs of Tandem Lookouts and Scalding Devils. These cards allowed me to not only ping my opponent but draw cards for doing so. (ProTip: Tandem Lookout doesn’t say “combat damage.”) All of these cards were just there to prolong the game until I managed to draw my Burn at the Stake or, better yet, Spirit Away. And I had ample opportunity to draw them with my truly obscene amount of card draw, not only Tamiyo, but also Mad Prophet, Gryff Vanguard, and Desolate Lighthouse. This card draw was boosted with a couple of solid Miracle cards: Vanishment and Thunderous Wrath.
After this weekend I’ve really warmed up to Miracles. Once the Miracle count is equalized amongst both players in a match they start feeling a lot more fair. Sure, I would still get blown out by a Miracle but now I could respond with solid Miracles myself. Basically the card type is a lot more balanced in Draft and Constructed than in sealed, so I find it highly unlikely that they’ll become much of a problem.
I very rarely play control-heavy decks, so the release tournament was a real joy for me. I managed to set the pace of most of the games I played. Once I was even able to Spirit Away Avacyn, Angel of Hope from my opponent. That was a true joy, though my best match of the day ended in a draw.
It was near mirror match. We were both running blue control, but while I had splashed Red he had splashed White. I had only Tamiyo and Spirit away, but he not only a Tamiyo himself but also a Bruna, Light of Alabaster. They were hard fought games. Both of them went long. He took the first game after I stalled out drawing lands. The second game threatened to be a blowout but halfway through the tide turned. I had killed his Tamiyo and had planted my own, but time was called for the round. I was at three life and he was at twenty eight, but we calculated that in my three extra turns after time I would be able to best him. Rather than waste everyone’s time we shook hands and called it a draw. It was some of the best Magic I have ever played.
I ended up having two wins, two losses, and a draw on the day, but I left proud. Not only because of my Tamiyo but the quality of play that day from everyone was quite high. It was a great tournament.
I can’t wait until the next release. I hope to see you all there as well!