Eventide Pre-Release Wrap-Up

This weekend’s pre-release of Eventide was a lot of fun. I’ll take a quick run through the highlights of the Magic pre-release tournament experience and the new set.

Retrace Rocks Limited

I have no doubt that it could pop up in non-limited formats as well, but any decent card with retrace (I’m looking at you, Flame Jab) is likely to be especially popular in sealed deck. All of those unneeded lands become immediately useful, which is pretty much enough to make retrace good right there.

Chroma still doesn’t seem exciting, perhaps I simply didn’t get any cool chroma cards or perhaps it’s not as well suited for limited where color homogeneity is a bit tougher.

Eventide Card Highlights

I’m sure there are plenty of good cards I didn’t see up close, but I’ll run through a few highlights which worked well either in my decks, or against me:

  • Flame Jab: Sheer repeatability is the strength of this card; the option to make any land card in your hand (plus R) into one point of damage to finish off an opponent’s creature (or an opponent) is very handy.
  • Spitemare: This creature is an excellent blocker and makes the math significantly less pleasant for your opponent. Chances are that it can take out nearly anything it can block, possibly another creature in the back ranks as well.
  • Fire at Will: Card advantage in a can, this proved very effective against my red-blue weenies.
  • Smoldering Butcher: Not terribly exciting, but nearly every time he showed up on the battlefield, the other player was rather unhappy to see him. Four power and wither for four mana works out fairly well.
  • Wake Thrasher: Ridiculously big in no time at all, at least during your turn. Otherwise he’s brought down by a lowly Scar (although in one game I found that Armored Ascension works fairly well with this Merfolk).
  • Ballynock Trapper: Very nice suppression, especially when you manage to have a Beckon Apparition or two in your hand for an extra untap at critical moments.
  • Divinity of Pride: Not much to say here, except that an eight point life swing every turn is tough to match, even if I never quite turned it into a 16 point swing.

First-Hand Tournament Account

While 30 minutes feels like no time at all to take in the new cards and build a coherent deck, and it really is just a bit too brief a time, I enjoyed the tournament as a whole. So, how’d I fare?

First flight I put together a red-blue deck, with a bit of green-blue for good measure. Main characteristics included fast weenies, plenty of burn (including three Flame Jabs), and backing by a couple high-end cards like Spitting Image and Mindwrack Liege, plus Sygg, River Cutthroat.

The tide of weenies and quick burn blew through my first opponent, especially with the help of card advantage from Sygg. However in the later rounds certain deckbuilding decisions I made under the gun came back to haunt me, as I discovered that 18 land was too many for the deck and Inside Out is a pretty poor limited card, regardless of its potential to double-trigger Shrewd Hatchling. First flight: 2-1-1.

Second flight I had a card pool much more evenly distributed through the colors, but opening three Unmakes plus the Divinity of Pride and Oona, Queen of the Fae placed me firmly in black-white territory. The rest was rather standard fare making up a reasonable curve for the first four or five turns until I could get out one of my bombs.

First round of the second flight got me very worried, as I lost game one to a new player after a 35min game. I swapped with my sideboard to fix my low creature count (adding the likes of Canker Abomination, among others, who generally appeared as a 4/4 on turn four), but by then it was too late as the round was moving far too slowly to allow us to finish game two.

Fortunately the tuning seemed to make quite a difference as I went on to fare very well against my next three opponents, and finished 3-1 (for prizes! First time in at least a year that’s happened for me! Even though I felt a little bad that I was matched up with Joe (of 1-1-1 by then) in round four, but he was a good sport about it, and I did end up winning our mock-games after his concession.)

A Word on Sportsmanship

During the two flights Sunday I had some good games, some bad, but in each case I tried to be respectful of my opponents and likewise found them to be similarly gracious much of the time. That’s part of why I usually enjoy pre-release tournaments, it feels good to be part of a community of players who are there to have fun playing. Many people at the tournament were not only good players but have been free with their advice and encouragement as well, offering ideas on deck tuning and sometimes even constructive criticism on another player’s play style after a game’s over.

Still, every once in a while a bad egg pops up. One such person happened to get matched up with my friend who was brand new to tournament Magic and trying it out as his first pre-release experience. This person was not only inconsiderate, but actively obnoxious with verbal barbs toward my first-timer friend. Thus it was one of the high points for me when, later in the day, I was paired up with this opponent and won handily, quieting the abusive player when the tables were turned.

So How Does Eventide Compare?

While I have been less than enthusiastic about Shadowmoor lately, I think Eventide is going to make a good bookend to the saga.

I hadn’t thought about it ahead of time, but seeing the opposing color hybrids in Eventide is quite nice, sort of evokes Ravnica block’s color pluralism. Deckbuilding possibilities in limited are greatly enhanced when the color lines become so blurred between Shadowmoor and Eventide.

Eventide does go a little ways in redeeming Shadowmoor’s perceived shortcomings. Perhaps not as far as fixing persist (where the environment is mostly at fault), but one of my biggest complaints against Shadowmoor was probably the lack of combo-ness. Eventide picks up combos where Shadowmoor left off, leaving open possibilities for greater synergy which I will surely sink my teeth into while playing in my group’s mini league. It also seemed like blocking was improved, to a degree; combat tricks such as Snakeform and Fire at Will, among others, helped spice things up and lend more options to previously boring Shadowmoor “guess you get some -1/-1 counters and we both die” or “guess you can’t block or have no reason to block me at all” combat.

Overall, I think Shadowmoor is better for the release of Eventide, and the pre-release was of course a lot of fun. Feel free to throw in comments below about the newest Magic set or your pre-release experiences!


    “…make any card in your hand (plus R)into one point of damage…”

    Well, any LAND card in your hand… if I’m reading the rule correctly.


    Nice write up, I’m not disappointed that I skipped out, but the new set does look kind of neat. I’ve basically stopped playing at all right now but I might pick it up again for a bit when Eventide hits online.


    Good catch Josh, you’re absolutely right. I’ve fixed the post.


    It is of course still early to tell whether Eventide can completely redeem some of Shadowmoor’s follies, but I do feel like Shadowmoor is retroactively more interesting with what Eventide brings.

    The other factor I had considered immediately after my two flights is that this was a “small set” pre-release. Meaning instead of Shadowmoor pre-release’s one starter and two booster pool, everyone opened one Shadowmoor starter and three Eventide boosters. I’m sure they have to do that so the new stuff is not overshadowed by the amount of cards in the main set starter, but having another fifteen cards to pick from seems like it plays into my strengths more as a deckbuilder. Thus I could be a little biased.


    I like Flame Jab, though I do wish it were an instant…

    Joe Says:

    Just remember Scott, I LET you win.

    Just joking!

    Not really.

    No, but really…..


    Josh- Flame Jab would be nice as an instant, but even as a sorcery it proved very useful at the pre-release when either myself or my opponents had it.

    Joe- Look man, I’m glad you finally opened Oona, Queen of the Fae. I know it’s the one card you wanted most, even way back in Lorwyn before we knew which set she would appear in. Kinda funny how I also got one at the pre-release, and now in our league I have four (guess I’ll start using ’em as stunt doubles, or something).

    Did I mention the moment in a game at the pre-release when I cast Beseech the Queen to find Oona? Yeah, I asked Oona… for Oona.

    Mike Says:

    I don’t want to hear it folks. At least you 2 GOT Oona! Though I do have some other nice rares, Oona is just O.P.

    Nice write up Scott. Thanks for beating the bully for me.


    Mike, any time.

    Oona’s definitely not the only big card in the block… but that won’t stop me from teasing Joe about her 🙂

    You would find out in a couple hours, but now you can know a little earlier: thus far I decided to split my Oonas two and two into a black deck and a blue deck. There’s probably a twin joke in there somewhere, but it’s not coming to me.

    And thanks for stopping by Mike!