Getting There – M10 Limited and You
Well as many people within the Magic community know, it was the M10 prerelease this past weekend and I, my brothers and a friend of mine made our way down to Bloomington, IL to crack some packs. After playing through the day and watching other people draft the set some, I felt a need to write an article on limited. To start things off, here was the sealed pool I was so graciously granted:
2x Horned Turtle 1x Lightning Elemental
1x Merfolk Looter 1x Lightning Bolt
1x Fabricate 1x Fireball
1x Air Elemental 1x Inferno Elemental
1x Cancel 1x Trumpet Blast
1x Jump 2x Goblin Piker
1x Wind Drake 1x Yawning Fissure
1x Divination 1x Sparkmage Apprentice
1x Telepathy 1x Raging Goblin
1x Ice Cage 1x Ignite Disorder
1x Tome Scour 1x Shatter
1x Disorient 1x Goblin Chieftain
1x Zephyr Sprite 1x Panic Attack
1x Essence Scatter
2x Assassinate 1x Windstorm
2x Soul Bleed 1x Bramble Creeper
2x Weakness 2x Howl of the Night Pack
1x Warpath Ghoul 1x Mold Adder
1x Unholy Strength 1x Fog
1x Dread Warlock 1x Bountiful Harvest
1x Diabolic Tutor 1x Elvish Piper
1x Doom Blade 3x Borderland Ranger
1x Haunting Echoes 1x Mist Leopard
1x Deadly Recluse
White: 1x Elvish Visionary
1x Blinding Mage 1x Craw Wurm
1x Veteran Swordsmith 1x Runeclaw Bear
1x Captain of the Watch 1x Overrun
1x Elite Vanguard 1x Stampeding Rhino
1x Rhox Pikemaster
1x Razorfoot Griffin Artifacts:
1x Righteousness 1x Mirror of Fate
1x Pacifism 1x Platinum Angel
1x Safe Passage
1x Excommunicate Lands:
1x Divine Verdict 1x Terramorphic Expanse
1x Mesa Enchantress
2x Angel’s Mercy
1x Armored Ascention
1x Solemn Offering
1x Silvercoat Lion
First looking at the blue cards of the pool, we see double Horned Turtle, which are capable of easily stalling the ground so you can star gathering card advantage. Air Elemntal, Wind Drake, and Merfolk Looter are the only other notable creatures here, with the Looter providing some much needed card filtering and the Elemental and Drake providing the big beats in the air. Ice Cage provides some pseudo-removal, although after having played against in twice through out the sealed tournament I wasn’t too impressed with it. Essence Scatter and Cancel could provide easy answers to some of the formats bombs in Fireball/Overrun and beefy creatures. Overall though I felt that my blue pile was definitely lacking in the number of playables for me to consider it.
Moving onto red, the eye immediately catches Fireball and Lightning Bolt, especially the Fireball. Fireball is one of the formats most potent threats in that it literally just ends games. Lightning Bolt is also one of the premier removal spells in M10 (probably behind Pacifism and Doom Blade). However, beyond these two, my red pool gets pretty shallow, and offers nothing in the way of decent creatures (Goblin Piker?…please) or even removal. Red quickly takes a back seat, but Fireball/Lightning Bolt are definitely in contention for a spot in my 40 as a splash.
Getting into the green cards we start to see the light a little and get flooded with good creatures, some decent removal (don’t kid yourself, Deadly Recluse reads “Destroy target non-first striking attacker”), and even a finisher in Overrun. Triple Borderland Ranger is very much the stone cold nuts, as it helps ensure that I hit more land drops than my opponent, gets me to my splash (red at this point) and he provides an early ground presence. Stampeding Rhino and Craw Wurm can provide some much needed beef to my deck, and also make winning via the Overrun route that much easier. Even something like Runeclaw Bear helps me with my curve and Mist Leopard can provide a decent body while still being resistant to removal. A quick note on Howl of the Night Pack: this card can be very good, just not in mine, we’re already talking about a red splash, and white looks promising, meaning we’ll lose a lot of value out the Pack (besides, what’s better on turn 7; the Pack or Big Daddy Plats?). We’ll address Howl of the Night Pack a bit later during the deck construction. To white!
First things first, Captain of the Watch is pretty good I hear, and I’ll be hard pressed not to play it. Additionally, the white cards bring a lot to the table in this pool, Elite Vanguard, Veteran Swordsmith, Rhox Pikemaster, and Razorfoot Griffin all provide great bodies and even a presence in the air, which up to this point I was severely lacking. Pacifism, Excommunicate, Divine Verdict, Blinding Mage and Safe Passage provide me a decent removal suite and an answer to many of the problem creatures of the format. Between the sweet dudes and awesome removal package, not to mention Captain of the Watch, it’ll take quite a bit or me to pass on white.
The last color that I looked at in this pool, and the hardest to evaluate in my opinion, was black. Doom Blade, double Assassinate, and double Weakness make for some serious removal. And yet, looking further we see the complete lack of dudes in the color, leading me to a crossroads. The black removal I have is good, but the rest of the color sucks something fierce as Dread Warlock and Warpath Ghoul aren’t going to make the cut, making black a splash color if I choose to play it at all. Really when it came down to it though, black didn’t have enough playables and was cut completely. Here’s the deck I sleeved up and would go onto be 3-1 with:
Creatures: 16 Spells: 8
1x Mist Leopard 1x Righteousness
1x Blinding Mage 1x Pacifism
1x Deadly Recluse 1x Overrun
3x Borderland Ranger 1x Safe Passage
1x Veteran Swordsmith 1x Excommunicate
1x Captain of the Watch 1x Fireball
1x Elite Vanguard 1x Lightning Bolt
1x Elvish Visionary 1x Divine Verdict
1x Craw Wurm
1x Runeclaw Bear Lands: 17
1x Rhox Pikemaster 7x Forest
1x Razorfoot Griffin 7x Plains
1x Stampeding Rhino 2x Mountains
1x Platinum Angel 1x Terramorphic Expanse
I couldn’t find a card that I wanted to cut as anything I tried meant taking out some removal (or pseudo-removal in the case of Excommunicate/Righteousness) or lowered my creature count, which for a deck like mine wasn’t really that good. Only playing two Mountains seems a bit greedy, but I really don’t see myself needing to use Fireball or Lightning Bolt too early in the game, and after that I should have hit one of the 3 Rangers or my Terramorphic. I guess my overall game plan going into the first rounds was to stall up the ground with my little guys, only playing removal on huge threats, and assuming I could get to stage 3 before my opponents could (via trip Borderland Ranger, ensuring I hit more lands than my opponent) I would let my bombs take over.
Round 1: I decided to start this prerelease off on a good note by mulliganing to 5. However, my threats weren’t good enough and Wall of Frost and double Ice Cage slowed me down enough to where his Ant Queen could finish me off. Game 2 was much better for me as I curve out with creatures turns 2, 3, and 4. His Jace keeps him in the game though and he’s able to play some removal and make a few trades. The ground gets clogged up and I’m unable to make any reasonable attacks; this charade ends quickly though when I draw Fireball. Game 3 starts and we’re told we have 6 minutes to play. I look at my hand and am reasonably sure I can beat him. My hand is 3 lands, Captain, Borderland, Rhox Pikemaster, and Mist Leopard. The game is called for time right as I play the Captain on turn 6 and him at 12; he can’t come back from the advantage it gives me and I promptly smash his face in.
Round 2: Game 1 he appears to be playing 3 colors but with only 1 Terramorphic as a fixer. He is crushing me big time with him at 18 and me 6 when I play Big Daddy Plats; MVP for this one goes to Blinding Mage for stopping the Serra Angel beats. Game 2 I get a decent draw but he apparently starts drawing dead to my early beats, and scoops em up when I show him the Captain on turn 6.
Round 3: My opponent is a pretty known Magic player in the community and always places respectably in States/Regz/PTQs and he has decided to shuffle up blue/black. Game 1 he keeps a sketchy hand and gets stuck on mana while I pound the crap outta him. Game 2 I draw maybe 2 creatures and when I’m the beatdown that spells a loss. Game 3 I thought was hilarious. I mull to 6 and have to keep a poopy hand. However, my opponents draw is mediocre at best and I’m able to get back into the game via some techy sideboarding (Solemn Offering for his Mind Control/Ice Cages), Captain of the Watch and Platinum frickin’ Angel. I’m at 6 and he’s at 14 when he Clones my Captain, making me dead in a turn if I don’t do anything. I however, play Big Daddy Plats the next turn, and with him not having anything with reach or in the air, I’m now in a very good position to take this. At this point (during my opponent’s upkeep) I decide to turn and ask my good friend Matt how he had done in his match. He proceeded to tell me how he did and thus efficiently distracted me. I then turn back to my own game where my opponent has decided what he’d like to do. He then taps four mana for Sleep and attacking me for lethal; I then scooped my lands and creatures up and sat back in my chair. My opponent sort of watched me for a few seconds and asked, “so it’s 2-1 me?” I told him ya and good match. It wasn’t until this that I realized I had Platinum Angel on the board. I flipped up the top card of my deck and there lay Fireball, meaning my opponent would have to draw a removal spell in turns or I would’ve won. My thought process immediately went to “well, at least it was at a prerelease.” And I still stand by this, yes I made a mistake (a huge one at that) but it was in a core set prerelease, and I’m okay with that. Onward to the next round.
Round 4: My opponent is playing black green and is on the play. He has a Birds of Paradise to start things off making me think about Bolting it on my own first turn. This decides to be irrelevant when he doesn’t really ramp into anything but starts playing a few Recluses, a Mist Leopard, and an Emerald Oryx. I keep in the game with a couple of my Rangers, getting in damage when I can and starting to race. On turn 6 he taps low for a Diabolic Tutor and I keep up any and all removal I get expecting a creature bomb. Two turn later he Overruns me for exactly lethal. Games 2 and 3 he doesn’t draw his Overrun, and he discovers and rediscovers that a first striker doesn’t die to a Deadly Recluse.
I’m pretty impressed with M10 limited as a whole. Yes it has its bombs, but every format does, and this set evens it out a bit more by putting some pretty respectable non-rare bombs, such as Fireball, Overrun, and Sleep. Green and White are by far the most dominating colors, but dedicated Blue, Red, and Black decks can definitely battle with them. M10 limited is all about the fundamentals of the game (as it should be) and the most fundamental you can learn is:
Until next time…
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