Sunday, February 1, 2009

Conflux Prerelease experience

I played Conflux prerelease at Neutral Grounds Cebu JY Mall last February 1, 2009.

Knowing that the cards would be passed, I thought hard looking at an Ajani Vengeant and 2 Inkwell Leviathans (1 of which was a foil). The Inkwell Leviathans were an easy choice to make. My table mates all commented that Ajani Vengeant isn't that worth it considering it's readily available as a Prerelease foil. I passed the card pool knowing that the player using the deck will play red (possibly Naya to accomodate Ajani) because of the removal at that color's disposal.

I was happy to receive a Tezzeret the Seeker in my card pool. It was enough to make me smile. I passed an Ajani for a Tezzeret!

I initially opted to play Jund shard since I had 2 Scarland Thrinax, Sprouting Thrinax, Hissing Iguanar, Dragon Fodder, and all the other appropriate creature removals in that color (3 Bone Splinter, Vithian Stinger, etc.). I didn't remember any bombs in the shard I chose and I totally remember not having a flying creature at all.

While deciding over what shard to play, I had checked the number of artifacts that was available at my disposal. I had an appropriate number of artifacts to play with Tezzeret and at the last moment, changed my deck from Jund to Esper (I had already finished the whole deck). It was a late decision but I figured that it wasn't a lousy one either. I had plenty of flyers at my disposal (Tower Gargoyle, Tidehollow Strix, Parasitic Strix, Sphinx Summoner, Kathari Screecher - of this list, only the Screecher isn't an artifact). 2 Agony Warp and an Executioner's Capsule also helped me to decide to change shards. Other key cards included Tidehollow Sculler (another artifact), Court Homunculus (yet another artifact), Puppet Conjurer (yet another artifact!), Windwright Mage (yet another artifact!) and 2 counter magic: Hindering Light and Traumatic Visions.

Game play observations:

- I finally got to appreciate the power of Tidehollow Sculler. Initially, I would have just set it aside because of the "drawback" that the removed card would return when the Sculler dies. I got to remove an Oblivion Ring and a Volcanic Fallout in separate games. The Sculler helps to save the day.

- Playing control in an environment where guys are wanting to play fast is not for the feint-hearted. The two counter magic mentioned both saved me from apparent losses. I was able to counter a game winning Exploding Borders with Traumatic Visions and a game winning Absorb Vis with my Hindering Light in separate games. The Traumatic Visions helped fix my mana in another different game which helped turn my mono-blue land hand to blue-black.

- Puppet Conjurer is just unfair. I was explaining to an opponent that I didn't have to sacrifice the Conjurer if I didn't have a Homunculus to sacrifice. I even provided the addditional insight that without the sacrifice "drawback", this card would just be too nasty.

- I saw only one Path to Exile. In one game in which I was stuck to having only Islands and Swamps and couldn't play my gold cards that needed white mana, one of my creatures got removed by Path to Exile. It was a no-brainer. I searched for a Plains without hesitation. My Tower Gargoyle came during the next turn. Good game.

- Frontline Sage was a key card in my deck. I had an instance of having an initial draw of 5 Islands and 1 Frontline Sage. I kept the hand and proceeded to filter my deck for more needed cards.

- I was paired against another artifact heavy Esper deck in the third round. I was envious of the Ethersworn Canonist and Etherium Sculptor that he had. He probably felt the same seeing my Tezzeret, Tower Gargoyle and Sphinx Summoner. I also saw a player playing beside us with a Sharding Sphinx. I would definitely would have wanted that in my deck. Well, it just goes to say that you can never have everything in Magic.

- I didn't see much Planeswalkers in play. Aside from the Ajani Vengeant that I opened, I heard one player getting a Nicol Bolas. He did the right thing in dropping. A $20 card is worth it to drop especially if it's just a Prerelease.

- Speaking of Planeswalkers, having one in play is definitely gamebreaking. Tezzeret is probably the least of the Planeswalkers to play in Limited but I was thankful to have quite a number of artifacts available. I might have done a bad thing by not putting all the artifacts at my disposal into the deck. Every bit of extra artifact would have helped. I had 2 Kaleidostones (the card draw would have been a great bonus but I considered everything else of the card as useless), 2 Manaforce Mace (I thought that it was too costly), Obelisk of Naya (wrong colors although I always needed that one white mana all the time), and a Bone Saw! I wasn't able to activate Tezzeret's ultimate ability but I always was able to reach 5 loyalty counters easily. Just untap any of the artifacts in play and that's it.

- Best plays that involved Tezzeret:

a. With not much artifacts in play yet and my Tezzeret already at 6 loyalty counters (activating the ultimate ability would have netted me only two 5/5 artifacts), I opted to search the cheapest artifact in the deck: Executioner's Capsule. I had the option to kill one of my opponent's creatures (we were at a standstill with each having an equal number of creatures in play) and I could still use Tezzeret's ultimate ability the next turn.

b. I had Tezzeret at 5 loyalty counters but instead of activating the ultimate ability, I opted to search for a Sphinx Summoner (again, I didn't have enough artifacts in play). I figured I'd maximize the Tezzeret searching ability by getting the Sphinx Summoner into play. Sphinx Summoner comes into play ability then searched for a Tower Gargoyle and played it (and while holding on to precious two mana to be able to still play Hindering Light).

- My most expensive card in the deck was Kiss of the Amesha. 7 life and two cards is just painful for the opponent late in the game. The kiss helped me escape one situation where a big 5/5 was pounding at my life total. All that hard work and a Kiss of the Amesha to ruin it all.

I would have finished 3-1 but I gave away my third round. I finished 2-2 instead. It was still worth it. One of the packs I won yielded a Noble Hierarch.

But the most important thing of all was I had fun. It was nice to visit Cebu (first time for 2009) and see the Magic guys there once again.

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