A Tangential Story About the Lorwyn Pre-Release

First of all I would like to say I like this set. Lorwyn seems to have a lot to offer the kinds of Magic environments that I enjoy, namely casual and limited. Anytime you see me talking about Magic I would recommend you keep that in mind. For example I disliked Ravnica because in casual multi player games there were too many insane bombs and quite frankly the same held true for limited as well. I also felt that while needing to play three colors sometimes made drafting interesting it also meant that if you didn’t get any fixing, and never had any option to pick fixing, you may well be out of luck and there was of course more opportunity for mana/land screw. Welcome to my first tangent…

What I really wanted to write about was Lorwyn and my experience with it at the pre release. I managed to go 4 – 0 in the single flight I played in and didn’t even lose a game. I am however mostly a casual player that drafts a couple times a week online so I’m not a pro by any standards. On the other hand I must admit I am an avid spoiler reader. I pop around checking out what is coming long before the lists are complete and this tends to be what gets me excited about the pre release. For all of their rhetoric to the contrary I suspect our friends at Wizards know this as well and secretly do not hate the spoiler sites. I guess this could be tangent number two…

My point, for I assure you that I have one, is that when I got to Syracuse to play in the Lorwyn pre release I already had a fairly good idea about the set. Mind you simply having looked at most of the cards does not mean I knew how they would all come together but I knew that green was strong and that black (my normal favorite color) was week. While this information can prove useful it can also lead to some misleading assumptions and should of course be taken with a grain of your favorite seasoning.

(Tangent number three: a friend that I went to the event with avoided playing faeries even though they were his most powerful tribe in part, I think, because he had two of a card that could do one damage to all fliers or all non fliers. He mentioned that he felt their one toughness made them too dangerous to play but in my opinion they are very playable and that having two of that card made him overestimate the number of cards that could wipe his board. He also had two bombs in white but not a lot to back them up, a lot of people make this mistake, a bomb only helps when you draw it.)

When I sat down to build my deck I did the usual sort by color and separate by playability. Then I looked through my piles and realized that I was almost certainly playing white. This was partly due to a few powerful cards I had there but also due to the fact that the only removal I had in any color was in white. Then I had to choose a second color, this was a much harder decision. I had Jace sitting in my blue pile and some nice card drawing, which made me want to play white/blue. (The 2/3 flying flash guys were also very attractive.) However the more I looked at my creature composition in that set up the more I realized I couldn’t go that way. Also, while I do think Jace is a viable limited card I wasn’t certain if I really had a good deck to exploit him in. So I realized at this point that my best bet was white/green. Green gave me some beef and filled out my creature count in a way no other color could.

Obviously since I didn’t lose a game my plan worked fairly well. I would have drawn my last game, and thus gone 3-0-1 but I was paired against a guy that already had a draw and thus needed to play. When I went up to claim my prize one of the guys that had been near me while deck construction was going on commented that he didn’t think my deck looked all that good. I have to admit I was uncertain at first as well but when my final opponent had a deck the nearly mirrored mine I began to suspect that this formation was going to be one of the best of this set.

A few comments on specific cards:

Gilt-Leaf Ambush – This card has earned a special place in my heart. I wasn’t all that impressed with it at first, any card with a random element bothers me, but since it is always at least two 1/1s at instant speed I think that even when you loose the clash (which you should never NEED to win – I have a story about that for later) it’s still a solid card. I don’t think there was ever a time that I was disappointed to draw this card.

Cloudthresher – I was very worried about the mana requirements for this card. Four green is pretty steep even for what is basically a late game card. However the Flash really won me over and I have to say I am glad that I included it.

Bog-Strider Ash – I threw this guy in saying “well… it has four toughness” but in the end I liked him more than I would have thought. His ability seems limited but because of changelings he can potentially gain you a lot of life.

Oakgnarl Warrior – This guy was kind of a waste. I put one in to have a big expensive creature for late game but the only time I got him out he was nearly irrelevant. As the top of my curve I really wish I had something more threatening and impressive.

Runed Stalactite – This card was pretty unimpressive. I had hoped that it would give some of my cheap early 2/2 creatures a bit of a second life but the equip cost of two seemed to make it too hard to move around too often. I like equipment a lot but this one really isn’t all that impressive.

Kithkin Harbinger – I didn’t play this card but I wish I had. For some reason I didn’t see it as being all that great (a 1/3 body didn’t impress me) but then after thinking about the fact that it could also get changelings I realized that I should have played it. (Not to mention that it could get the Trio which was possibly the best card in my deck.)

Changelings – Not a specific card but they really bear mentioning. These guys change the environment a lot. Cards that can only target “X” or can’t target “Y” are very different when a lot of the creatures are ALL creature types.

Champion – Again not a specific card but the champions in my deck were… well… the champions of my deck. All three of them proved incredibly powerful and I was always glad to see them.

In conclusion I will leave you with my most memorable event from the tournament. I think this is basically how it went down but I didn’t take notes on it or anything. I was playing against a good opponent with a good deck and had won the first game but kept a questionable hand in the second game. He dropped a couple cheep early creatures and then the white Planeswalker and began sticking counters on those creatures. Then he got out Mirror Entity. As things came down I had one chance to potentially survive which basically involved playing Gilt-Leaf Ambush and winning the clash to kill his Mirror Entity and another countered up creature (I had set this all up the previous turn as I saw it as my only potential out). The one guy that got through was pumped via Mirror Entity and I went down to three life. I then played Cloudthresher at the end of his next turn which allowed me to redirect the damage from him to his Planeswalker (which I needed to kill) but brought me down to 1 life. I knew he had several ways to do direct damage in his deck but on my next turn I played Primal Command and got my Kithkin Champion and more importantly gained seven life. I went on to win the game.

So in a nut shell that is my experience from the magic pre release. I had a pretty good time and look forward to the set coming out online so I can begin to play it in earnest.

My deck:

Oakgnarl Warrior 1
Changeling Titan 1
Gilt-Leaf Ambush 2
Bog-Strider Ash 1
Cloudthresher 1
Kithkin Daggerdare 1
Primal Command 1
Kinsbaile Skirmisher 2
Goldmeadow Stalwart 2
Cloudgoat Ranger 1
Thoughtweft Trio 1
Springjack Knight 1
Crib Swap 1
Changeling Hero 1
Goldmeadow Harrier 2
Neck Snap 2
Surge of Thoughtweft 1
Runed Stalactite 1
Plains 9
Forest 8