Shadows Over Innistrad, the new block of cards for Magic: the Gathering, officially goes on sale Friday. Last weekend I got to play in a prerelease sealed deck tournament at the Louisville Game Shop to get an early experience with these new cards.
During a pre-release tournament, each player is a given a special box of six booster packs from the new block to make a deck with a minimum of 40 cards. You also get a special promotional card for your collection, and prizes awarded to the top players. At our event each person in the tournament also got a couple extra Shadows Over Innistrad booster packs (that couldn’t be used in your tournament deck.)
Once everyone is registered and has their pack, you only get 30 minutes to make your deck before playing the first match. That’s actually my favorite part: quickly opening up all your new cards, examining them briefly, and whittling it down to an efficient 40(ish) cards with a simple plan to win.
I looked at going for Red+Black for the cheap creatures, some with transfrom, but didn’t have any options for a heavy hitter with those colors and couldn’t think through what my plan would be. If I had more werewolves maybe Red+Green would’ve worked.
Three mythic rares were included in my pack. Each stood out as a potential finisher.
Archangel Avacyn that transforms into Avacyn, the Purifier was a pretty obvious win condition. She was even on one of the event posters. Then I saw how many flyers I had overall and how well my Blue cards allowed for Investigation.
My plan became clear: Blue+White flyers, and investigate as much as possible to help my draw and increase chances of getting Avacyn, Geralf’s Masterpiece, and my last big flyer, Reaper of Flight Moonsilver.
It’s a simple deck and wasn’t an overwhelming winner, but it was something I knew I could play. To start, I used every blue card I had then added all my white flyers. Since my blue strategy was mostly Investigation, Tamiyo’s Journal became an obvious artifact to thrown in there too.
Tamiyos Journal would let me sacrifice 3 clues to search my library for any of my heavy hitters from the deck. Oh, and it ensures I gain at least one clue every turn too – convenient!
After that five more white cards made the cut: Inspiring Captain, while not a flyer, is a formidable 3/3 with a buff for my whole board. Survive the Night provided more Investigation, with some buffing as a bonus. Silverstrike and Angelic Purge were my best removal spells in the whole pack (my black options were really disappointing.) And finally, Chaplain’s Blessing is 5 life for 1 mana — too good of a deal to pass up.
Finish it up with 18 land, split between Islands and Plains, and I had a 41 card deck.
- Tamiyo’s Journal (Rare)
- Angelic Purge
- Apothecary Geist
- Archangel Avacyn (Mythic Rare)
- Chaplain’s Blessing
- Inspiring Captain
- Reaper of Flight Moonsilver
- Survive the Night
- Drownyard Explorers x2
- Erdwal Illuminator
- Furtive Homunculus
- Geralf’s Masterpiece (Mythic Rare)
- Nagging Thoughts
- Niblis of Dusk
- Press for Answers
- Silent Observer
- Sleep Paralysis
- Stitched Mangler
- Trail of Evidence
- Vessel of Paramnesia
- Plains x9
- Island x9
Also in my prerelease pack I got a couple other rare cards in other colors:
The promotional card for the event was “Foreboding Ruins,” a pretty cool red/black dual land.
I felt good about the deck, and even looking back, I don’t think I’d change anything about the build – only my play.
There were four rounds in the tournament, but I only played the first three as I had dinner arrangements to get to. In those three rounds, I lost (0-2), drew (1-1-1), and lost (1-2).
I found the Investigate-heavy strategy worked pretty well. I got at least one of my big flyers out almost every game, and never felt totally hosed. I just didn’t always have ways to handle more aggressive creatures. Could’ve really used more removal spells or de-buffs.
The sealed deck format of these prerelease events is a lot of fun. If you’re like me and don’t have a large collection of cards nor many other friends who play, it levels the playing field on what cards are available and provides a place to meet new folks for a game.