I decided to try my hand at the M12 prerelease last weekend. I haven't played in a sanctioned tournament in years and I haven't played in one this large, 60 people, in even longer.
Here was my full card pool:
Bountiful Harvest x2
Goblin War Paint
Goblin Fireslinger x2
Circle of Flame
Child of night
Brink of disaster
Archon of Justice
Pride Guardian x2
Merfolk mesmerist x2
Coral Merfolk x2
Sphinx of Uthuun
Elixir of immortality
Scepter of empires
The pool had some powerful stuff but wasn't especially deep in any color. I took a long look at Overrun and Volcanic Dragon and tried to see if I could make green or red work somehow but decided that Green just wasn't deep enough. After Stingerfling Spider and the Rhino it fell off considerably. Red had Grim Lavamancer and a couple capable creatures but no real staples like shock or incinerate.
Black I dismissed right away. It had a Gravedigger and a Deathmark and little else. Blue and White stood out as the obvious choices after going through the other colors. I had tons of massive fliers, some nice permission and some utility spells. What I happened to lack were some combat tricks but blue/white doesn't have a lot of those anyway. I had an Unsummon and a stave off. I had to rely on Ice Cage instead of Pacifism. Blue also wasn't especially deep. After counting up the playable cards I was looking at coral merfolk and Harbor Serpent as maindeck options. I considered splashing red or green but didn't have any mana enablers to do this. I tend to get screwed when I try splashing a couple lands of an off-color without any kind of fetch or artifact fixing. So I stuck with blue/white and hoped my powerful creatures could outpace my lack of the ability to permanently remove things from play and I also hoped that my weak low curve could survive long enough to get into the 5-7 drop range.
Here is the deck I put together:
Archon of Justice
Coral Merfolk x2
Sphinx of Uthuun
Notable Sideboard Cards
Pride Guardian x2
Master thief went back and forth from a maindeck choice to a sideboard choice but in the majority of games I started it in my sideboard. I'm not sure if this was the right choice but a figured a 2/2 flyer with no other notable abilities probably wasn't worth maindecking in an environment with few artifacts.
I sat down against a clearly capable player piloting a red/green beatdown deck. He was sporting Jade Mage and Goblin Fireslingers backed by some bloodthirst and beefy green creatures like Stampeding Rhino and Stingerfling Spider. The first game I sat on 3 islands and a plains for a while and stalled out holding a couple angels in my hand. I was pinged to death by Goblin Fireslingers. Game 2 I managed to get up to six mana to desperately summon an Aegis Angel only to see it plummeted. My Serra was likewise removed by Stingerfling Spider and I didn't have any answers to his pingers. I probably sideboarded wrong as I put in both pride guardians and then regretted it when both hit the table. They didn't help me as much as I initially thought they would.
Loss 0-2 (Match Record 0-1)
She is piloting a green/white beef deck with creatures as large as mine. Ideally I would be able to rush on the ground early and finish in the air because she doesn't have much of a mana curve but I start slowly and only get a couple merfolk hits in before she drops down an Archon of Justice and Double Vastwood Gorger. I manage to Ice cage the Archon, group block her gorgers and ride a Serra Angel to victory in the air after tempoing her gorgers with bounce spells.
Game 2 goes much worse as she boards in two plummets and blows up my Archon and Aegis Angel. I drop a Serra again but it's destroyed by a Stingerfling Spider and her beefy ground creatures finish me off. Game 3 goes almost as poorly as Game 2 for me. I see a plummet again and the spider comes down again as well taking out my Skywinder Drake. This time she enchants it with Spirit Mantle and stops my air attack completely. I still manage to stall out her creatures with enough of my own and Gideon's Lawkeeper. She plays a bit too timidly and misses some crucial attack phases and I manage to finally overwhelm her in the air with my Sphinx of Uthuun and additional card advantage from my looter and divination.
Win 2-1 (Match Record 1-1)
He's playing a Blue/Black deck with some decent removal and some large black creatures like Sengir Vampire and Drifting Shade. He also has a couple of Gravediggers. His creatures are otherwise small though and I'm able to take over the board with larger bodies. I manage to play some bounce tricks with Aether Adept and Unsummon and Ice Cage his Vampire before beating him with Aegis Angel. In Round 2 I have an easier time despite a deathmark to one of my Angels. I eventually get a Sphinx in play which he doom blades but draw into more creatures and eventually finish him off with an unblockable Harbor Serpent.
Win 2-0 (Match Record (2-1)
I'm up against yet another Green/White deck. This one doesn't have quite the beef I saw in round 2 but still has some quality creatures like a Lawkeeper and Stampeding Rhino. He is running double siege mastadon which I'm not too concerned about. He also drops an Aegis Angel and Stingerfling Spider (god that card is good against me) but I bounce his angel away and then mana leak his attempt to replay it. I am able to stave off his pacifism and then cancel his Garrukk before finishing him off with an Archon. In Game 2 he has a faster accelerated play with a first turn elf and gets the lawkeeper into play again. I don't see Garruk but he pacifies my early blockers and sends in the ground forces. I demystify his pacifism to try to stabilize but then he drops a Sun Titan to recur it and I scoop. Game 3 goes quickly as I curve up into my fliers and I don't see a lot of answers. I mana leak his attempts at removal and he never gets a chance to play his bombs and I ride my Angels to victory again.
Win 2-1 (Match Record 3-1)
He has a blue/white deck but with a much smaller mana curve with creatures like Stormfront Pegasus and Azure Mage backed by a couple of cancels and a mana leak. Despite getting a Azure Mage into play and drawing proably several cards with it I'm still able to outpace him because I have better board control and a merfolk looter. I eventually sneak a Serra Angel into play and he has nothing big enough to stop it in the air. Game 2 he opens with a turn 1 Elite Vanguard which eats away at my life total before slapping an Angelic Destiny on it knocking me down to 8. I respond with an Aether Adept and win a Counter War. I eventually get a Harbor Serpent into play and seal up the game.
Win 2-0 (Match Record 4-1)
He is playing a blue/red/white deck with equal parts of everything and manalith's to stabilize his mana base. We have a ground standoff in game one until he gets a lawkeeper down and starts tapping my threats. I make a major play error by announcing my attack phase, bouncing a bloodthirst ogre back to his had with my Aether Adept and then attempting to send in the team. He corrects me for skipping my attack phase and despondent I realize I probably gave away the game by missing out on at least 4 damage if not 6. I'm eventually outraced in life after he shocks my own lawkeeper off the board but I'm still in the game until he slaps down Jace and mills me to death over the next 2 turns. Game 2 goes better for me as I try to play around represented counters and realize later on I should have just cast my larger spells as early as possible. I stabilize from his early threats and dump an Aegis Angel into play followed by my Sphinx. I sit at only 5 life but swing into him for big damage in the air and figure I will finish him off a turn later with a lawkeeper keeping his biggest threat in check and only 4 possible represented damage on the table. However he top decks a Volcanic Dragon and slaps it into the battlefield. I can tap the dragon down with the lawkeeper but in doing so will take 5 combat damage from the rest of his creatures. I lose.
Loss 0-2 (Match Record 4-2)
That's the end of the tournament. I wasn't completely displeased with my record but was irritated with my play errors in Round 6. He was a very good player with a good deck but I felt that match was very winnable and my play errors likely cost me. Round 1 was more about a bad draw in game 1 and questionable sideboarding. I'm not sure if I would have recovered from that one even with perfect play though.
My winnings were only 3 packs for finishing with 12 points. I was 13th out of 60. For someone who hasn't played in a tournament in many years with a set I've never seen before I'll gladly take it.
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