Shadows over Innistrad Prerelease Trial with hidsnake

So I did a Shadow’s over Innistrad prerelease over the weekend with the hopes of getting myself back into some form of competitive Magic. I had totally forgotten that all prerelease events are Sealed Deck and immediately hated myself for going. I despise sealed. Easily the hardest limited format for deck construction. Team Sealed is even worse and drives me insane. Unlike draft, once you finish ripping packs you often find all of your cards are very evenly distributed by color, meaning between a sealed and draft deck your draft deck should beat your sealed deck every time. So long as you are a good drafter.

Anyway, enough ranting. Here are the notable cards in my pool:

Rares and Mythic Rares
1 Diregraf Colossus
1 Mindwrack Demon
1 Geier Reach Bandit
1 Sage of Ancient Lore
2 Fevered Visions
1 Sigarda, Heron’s Grace
1 Game Trail
1 Westvale Abbey

Uncommons and Commons
1 Avacynian Missionaries
1 Inquisitor’s Ox
1 Pious Evangel
1 Puncturing Light
1 Spectral Shepherd
2 Tenacity
1 Town Gossipmonger
1 Ghostly Wings
1 Sleep Paralysis
1 Stitched Mangler
1 Accursed Witch
1 Behind the Scenes
1 Biting Rain
1 Indulgent Aristocrat
1 Murderous Compulsion
1 Throttle
1 Tooth Collector
1 Breakneck Rider
1 Ember-Eye Wolf
2 Geistblast
1 Howlpack Wolf
1 Kessig Forgemaster
1 Lightning Axe
1 Malevolent Whispers
1 Stensia Masquerade
1 Ulrich’s Kindred
1 Clip Wings
1 Graf Mole
1 Intrepid Provisioner
1 Moonlight Hunt
1 Rabid Bite
1 Quilled Wolf
2 Murderer’s Axe

Deckbuilder’s Notes

So my first instinct of my pool was to see the 2x [mtg_card]Fevered Visions[/mtg_card] and ask myself “Do I play the [mtg_card]Howling Mine[/mtg_card] deck?” In reality I should laugh that off, but I decided to go down that road for a second. Where I quickly realized that my Blue was terrible. Outside [mtg_card]Sleep Paralysis[/mtg_card], there wasn’t much to work with.

Next up was trying figure out what colors actually were good. I had some very good removal and utility in Black, but zero decent creatures. [mtg_card]Behind the Scenes[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Biting Rain[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Murderous Compulsion[/mtg_card], and [mtg_card]Throttle[/mtg_card] are all good utility, but I would have a hard time winning without good creatures. No [mtg_card]Heir of Falkenrath[/mtg_card] made me very sad. [mtg_card]Mindwrack Demon[/mtg_card] isn’t really a great card in limited IMO. It is an early game winning threat, but I just end up racing myself against it's delirium. In a constructed deck where I can get delirium out early through optimal deck design. But in limited that is fairly difficult. I would have to build my deck around it, which would be very difficult. And [mtg_card]Diregraf Colossus[/mtg_card] is pretty hard to play when you have a total of 4 zombies.

Red looked very good. I had some great creatures in [mtg_card]Howlpack Wolf[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Kessig Forgemaster[/mtg_card], and [mtg_card]Ulrich’s Kindred[/mtg_card] are all great creatures. Add in [mtg_card]Lightning Axe[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Malevolent Whispers[/mtg_card] and I have a color I am certain to play.

White and Green doesn't look great, but is good enough. Most importantly I have [mtg_card]Sigarda, Heron's Grace[/mtg_card]. Bombtastic. Must play. White also had 2x [mtg_card]Tenacity[/mtg_card]. I wasn’t overly hype on the card. I thought it was a good but expensive blowout-type combat trick. It'll win a few games, but lacks the strength of a typical combat trick. White also had some decent playable creatures in [mtg_card]Avacynian Missionaries[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Inquisitor’s Ox[/mtg_card], and [mtg_card]Pious Evangel[/mtg_card]. Green had a couple good creatures in [mtg_card]Quilled Wolf[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Graf Mole[/mtg_card], but not much to talk about on that front. I didn’t think too highly of [mtg_card]Sage of Ancient Lore[/mtg_card]. I valued it more for card draw than anything else. What Green did have for me was great removal in [mtg_card]Moonlight Hunt[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Rabid Bite[/mtg_card], and [mtg_card]Clip Wings[/mtg_card].

So in the end I decided to play Naya Aggro. The deck didn’t look great at first glance. I lacked a bunch of top-tier limited creatures and evasion. So I needed to play super aggressive and rely heavily on combat tricks and removal to ride my mediocre creature set. Also depressing was my lack of fixing. I had a grand total of 1 dual land in my entire pool. I suppose I should have been happy that it was even in my colors. I was super heavy on Humans and Werewolves to the point I was playing [mtg_card]Convicted Killer[/mtg_card], which isn’t a good card and I wouldn’t play if I wasn’t so hard up on creatures. My curve was low. Nearly every creature I had was a 2 or 3 drop. I would have to ride them to victory on the backs of a really good toolbox.

First Match - UB

First match started off great (Implied sarcasm). Took a mull to 5. One lander followed up with a no lander. Settled on a 2 lander with 2 threats. Best I was going to get at 5 cards. Took my scry, which was a removal spell I decided to keep on top. I dropped my T2 [mtg_card]Kessig Forgemaster[/mtg_card], he played an [mtg_card]Heir of Falkenrath[/mtg_card]. I made a note to bring [mtg_card]Clip Wings[/mtg_card] from the sideboard.  I wanted to get rid of the now flipped [mtg_card]Heir of Falkenrath[/mtg_card] so I attacked into it, which he didn’t take, obviously. I passed and transformed my [mtg_card]Kessig Forgemaster[/mtg_card]. We traded attacks while I increased my board and he equipped a [mtg_card]Slayer’s Plate[/mtg_card] to the [mtg_card]Heir of Falkenrath[/mtg_card]. I couldn’t out race this normally, but I had been sitting on a [mtg_card]Malevolent Whispers[/mtg_card] since he dropped the [mtg_card]Slayer’s Plate[/mtg_card] just waiting for him to equip it. I stole his creature and swung in with my other 3 creatures while he was tapped out for 17 damage. Game.

Second game was harder than it should have been. I had a great hand of green utility, [mtg_card]Ulrich’s Kindred[/mtg_card], and 3 lands that were not green. I kept drawing lands, but none green. I ended up sitting on a mountain in hand all game where I had 7 cards just in case I drew [mtg_card]Game Trail[/mtg_card] so it could come down untapped. He got his [mtg_card]Heir of Falkenrath[/mtg_card] out again, but I had a [mtg_card]Puncturing Light[/mtg_card] for it this time. He didn’t seem to have many creatures in his deck (Which I confirmed after the match) and played a handful of bad token producers. Used them to chump block me for turn after turn while I couldn’t play threats as I drew nothing but Green cards and non-Green lands. But I was riding this [mtg_card]Ulrich's Kindred[/mtg_card]. Got him fairly low off just the trample damage. I was a little worried because I got hit in the air with tokens with [mtg_card]Slayer's Plate[/mtg_card] a bunch of times. Eventually I worked enough board presence and low life for him that I got him with a [mtg_card]Tenacity[/mtg_card] for exacties.

Second Match – Mardu Aggro (1-0)

I ran a sick curve. In game one I threw out T2 [mtg_card]Ember-Eye Wolf[/mtg_card], T3 removal, T4 [mtg_card]Convicted Killer[/mtg_card], T5 [mtg_card]Intrepid Provisioner[/mtg_card]. He started on a [mtg_card]Nahiri’s Machinations[/mtg_card]. Followed that with a Kessig Forgemaster which I blew out with Puncturing Light. I attacked into a [mtg_card]Reaper of Flight Moonsilver[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Devilthorn Fox[/mtg_card] profitability for him so saved a creature he blocked with a [mtg_card]Survive the Night[/mtg_card] to kill the angel and to get an investigate. He threw a [mtg_card]Dead Weight[/mtg_card] at it next turn, which I was surprised considering how low value it is. I rebuilt my board with [mtg_card]Ulrich’s Kindred[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Avacynian Missionaries[/mtg_card] and blew out his blocks with a [mtg_card]Tenacity[/mtg_card], which was a 18 life point swing to which he conceded.

Game 2 consisted of my on a mull to a good 6 card hand and got run over.  He dropped a [mtg_card]Devilthorn Fox[/mtg_card] on T2, which I was I was angry I had to take a hit from T3 since I had nothing to block with T2. I played [mtg_card]Convicted Killer[/mtg_card] on T3 only to see it eat a [mtg_card]Dead Weight[/mtg_card]. I dropped a T4 [mtg_card]Inquisitor’s Ox[/mtg_card] to see it get hit with a [mtg_card]Declaration in Stone[/mtg_card]. I drew [mtg_card]Sigarda, Heron's Grace[/mtg_card] and conceded without revealing it. I was too fair behind and out of gas.

Game 3 was a shaky keep with one creature and a lot of utility. I played my T2 [mtg_card]Kessig Forgemaster[/mtg_card] and it got hit with yet another [mtg_card]Dead Weight[/mtg_card]. I never drew another creature while I sat on [mtg_card]Moonlight Hunt[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Rabid Bite[/mtg_card], which are hard to play without creatures. [mtg_card]Dead Weight[/mtg_card] purdy good.

Third Match – Esper  (1-1)

Both games were very similar. Slow starts for me and a shaky slow hand keep in game 2. Both games I played a T3 [mtg_card]Ulrich’s Kindred[/mtg_card]. I rode that indestructible ability for about ever. He lacked removal in his deck while [mtg_card]Ulrich's Kindred[/mtg_card] kept poking in damage with trample. He never killed a single one of my creatures outside combat and had zero combat tricks. Game one I eventually drew [mtg_card]Sigarda, Heron's Grace[/mtg_card] which he couldn’t stop it. Game two took me some time, but was able to setup [mtg_card]Tenacity[/mtg_card] roadkill through high toughness creatures.

Final Notes – Finished 2-1

On the creature front, [mtg_card]Ulrich’s Kindred[/mtg_card] was awesome. Certainly one of the best cards in my deck. Every time I played it, it was a problem. [mtg_card]Ulrich's Kindred[/mtg_card] allows you to play very aggressively and force creatures through that your opponent doesn’t want to create an awkward block with. [mtg_card]Kessig Forgemaster[/mtg_card] is destructive when played early. It is hard to block profitably, which is unique on a 2/1. Later in the game it loses some power, but you can also get it to flip where it becomes fairly good again. I was also impressed with [mtg_card]Avacynian Missionaries[/mtg_card]. I never flipped it, but as a bland 3/3 for 4 it isn’t terrible. Flip it and it probably becomes great. [mtg_card]Quilled Wolf[/mtg_card] was another creature I was mildly happy to play. Hard to block profitably when it is attacking and you hold up mana. Lotta numbers to work out when your opponent can activate it. [mtg_card]Geier Reach Bandit[/mtg_card] is the one I want to talk about. I didn’t think a 3/2 haste for 3 was going to be that good, but in a couple games it allowed me to rush down my opponent’s clock significantly with haste and 3 power. This is a much faster format than previous limited formats. Other cards, [mtg_card]Ember-Eye Wolf[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Howlpack Wolf[/mtg_card] very good as well. I was impressed with both. [mtg_card]Ember-Eye Wolf[/mtg_card] often either trade up or hit for a whole lot of damage. Having haste makes it incredibly good in the late game. [mtg_card]Howlpack Wolf[/mtg_card] is just well sized with a completely ignorable downside. Even [mtg_card]Convicted Killer[/mtg_card] played well which surprised me. But if it doesn’t flip it’s bad. So don’t play it otherwise.

My removal/utility was great. Easily the best part of my deck. [mtg_card]Tenacity[/mtg_card] was my MVP. [mtg_card]Tenacity[/mtg_card] allows you play super aggressive. If your opponents block, you can blowout the blocks and gain life off it. If they don’t block you can hold up 4 mana and threaten to blow them out when they go for a crackback. No matter what, your opponent can't really work around it as it is profitable to attack with or ambush a mass block. Which are not mutually exclusive things with this card if your opponent doesn't block. The card is excellent. I see many games ending on the resolution of a well timed [mtg_card]Tenacity[/mtg_card].

All my removal worked out great. [mtg_card]Lightning Axe[/mtg_card] performs as expected, trading 2 cards for a troublesome creature. [mtg_card]Puncturing Light[/mtg_card] kills most creatures in the format, but you have to look out for combat tricks to dodge it. I had a few times were I used [mtg_card]Ulrich’s Kindred[/mtg_card] into a high toughness creature only to [mtg_card]Puncturing Light[/mtg_card] it and still get my 3 damage through on trample. I found [mtg_card]Puncturing Light[/mtg_card] great for killing [mtg_card]Heir of Falkenrath[/mtg_card]. [mtg_card]Clip Wings[/mtg_card] is one of the best removal spells in the set. If you play green, you need to keep one in your sideboard. Green and Red have nearly zero flyers. So either you hit removal of get them to block. [mtg_card]Moonlight Hunt[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Rabid Bite[/mtg_card] are OK. I was hoping they would be better, but if you don’t have creatures in play neither does anything. I don’t think I had enough creatures to take significant advantage from them as seen in my second match.

I never got to live the dream of transformed [mtg_card]Geier Reach Bandit[/mtg_card] into [mtg_card]Sage of Ancient Lore[/mtg_card] and was a tad sad about that. Overall, the transform creatures are much better than they were last time we were around in Innistrad. Most of them were pretty bad when just played without transforming. Now they are just fine to play without transforming in most cases. Removal also feels very good. Blue is bad. Don’t play Blue unless you are after Zombies or Spirits. I watched quite a few people play Blue and just thought their decks were bad. Aggro looks to be the way to go for me, particularly in RG, WR, and RB. I would looks for Red to be the best color in the limited format.