Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Born of the Gods pre-release

I used to do a little better at the pre-releases and I seem to be in a bit of a slump. I went 1-2 last weekend (same as at Gatecrash)and while I had a nice enough time, I just couldn't get the games to fall my way. Yet I don't really feel that concerned. While writing this post, I saw this video on the Knight's Tour, a chess problem that mathematicians have been working on for years. What's interesting about that video, for me, is how people took an already complex problem (how can we use the knight to touch every square on the board) to make an even more complicated problem (let's make a perfect square!)

For me this idea explains a great deal. I am interested in revamping my decks until they work and then my interest tends to fall away. Solving a problem means I don't have to work on it anymore. I think this is why I keep generating decks: they are new problems so solve. But Theros doesn't seem to give me a problem to solve. None of my losses felt as though they were due to player error or a misunderstanding of the environment, or a revelation about how the cards in BotG interacted with Theros. I either had creatures or I didn't, or worse, I just had creatures outclassed by theirs, and that feels more like a luck-based loss than a skilled one.

I started off with a B/W build that I thought had a very solid curve-lots of plays turns 1-3-but it didn't pay off for me in the first match. I was up against an aggressive RW build and couldn't find a fourth land in either game. It's all well and good to have a curve but at some point I still need mana to play the bigger creatures that come along. Never happened. The match was over before match slips had been delivered!

So I decided to use my extra time to look over my deck and change it up. Green had been my original choice over white, but the curve in white was better so that concept won me over. I swapped the white out for green and thought I had a much better gameplan (cast big creatures and hope for the best).

It worked out better in round 2; I went 2-1 against a U/R deck using scry and fliers to pave the way to victory. I was able to mount an offense as well as use Fate Unraveler for the slow burn to keep myself in it. My final play of game 3 involved Bestowing an Setessan Oathsworn with Nylea's Emissary and then attacking for 10.

Unfortunately, my third matchup was not going to be as kind. Playing opposite a BW deck that had Brimaz and played it in games 1 and 2, I was in for an uphill battle. I lost to Brimaz in game one; game two when he showed up on turn 3, I managed to stalemate the board and eventually use Fleetfeather Sandals on Fate Unraveler to fly over for the win.

But game three had me mulligan down to 5 cards. In a limited environment, this is almost akin to conceding. Despite that, I still made a pretty good stance, keeping my opponent off WW by milling at least 3 Plains via two Returned Centaurs but in the end I was just overwhelmed by lifelink and fliers and lifelinked flilers.

What's discouraging is that not only did I not have an answer, I was never going to have an answer. There was not a deck configuration that was going to help me in that game: I could either splash a third color for some removal, and look at losses due to mana screw, or I could do what I did. Mana is so important that I prioritized it over running one copy of Magma Jet, and I think rightly so.

Lesson from the games: Enchantment removal can be used as creature removal, but it is unwise to consider it actual removal.

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