Friday, September 30, 2011

Rocking the Innistrad Prerelease

Before I get into anything else, a quick correction. In my last article I reported that it took Doyt three months at 8 hours a day to achieve the Insane. Actually, it only took him three months at five hours a day. Plan your achievements accordingly.

This previous weekend Fountain of Youth games held a prerelease for Innistrad, the latest Magic the Gathering set. Like many good things, this story starts with waffles.

At the Friday Night Magic before, I made an agreement with one of the locals to make waffles. At the prerelease. At 10:00 am, when the doors open. So I bring the wafflemaker, I get there at 10:00 and he's nowhere to be seen. At 10:40 I'm sick of waiting, and I haven't had breakfast yet, so I make a run to the local grocery store and pick up what's necessary. As usual, I forget some important components, so I'm mixing with a plastic fork and I have to send another guy out to find me some syrup. Luckily the gas station down the road had some.

At noon the other guy shows up. With 32 double stackers from Burger King. Turns out it's free waffle free burger day at the game store. Which is awesome.

This is critical to the gaming narrative because providing waffles to the populace at large seems to have given me a karmic boost that I rode the rest of the day. In my sealed pool I pulled a new Garruk, and plenty of red and green stuff to play along side him. I ended up with a super aggressive deck and I handily dealt with most opponents. My favorite play of the day:

Turn three I drop a Kruin Outlaw. He doesn't have a play. On my upkeep he transforms into a 3/3 evasive double striker. I play an Inquisitor's flail, equip and swing in four twelve. I won that game the next turn.

I went 3-0, at which point I was able to intentionally draw with the other players into the top eight. Now, I can go either way on that sort of shenanigan. On the one hand it seems cheap for me to guarantee my way into the top eight draft without any risk. On the other hand, well, drafting is pretty awesome. A free draft is even better, and if you can get into the prize support (Fountain of Youth has a very vertical prize structure; only the top 4 got prizes), the prize support makes things better. After drawing with my opponents I did play out the matches "just to see", and I would have ended the day at 4-1, which would have gotten me into the top eight anyway, so my conscience is assuaged. Maybe I'll go into more detail on this subject later.

In the top eight, I wanted to draft red. My brother tells me that red is going to be one of the more powerful colors in the format, and I tend to believe him. However the consensus around the store is that red is a weak color in the format. So I intended to force red, prove my brother right and take all of them down. Based on the packs and the cards available I went blue black tribal zombies. It turned out much worse than I expected. The blue zombies are good, but they require you to lose creatures from your graveyard. The black removal is ok, but it also wanted me to lose creatures from my graveyard. And I had a couple powerful raise dead effects, but that resource was pretty darn low by the time I got around to those. Best card in the deck was, unsurprisingly, Evil Twin. Which, incidentally, is my favorite card in the set. At one point I copied a 5/5 regenerator, and was having to block something else every turn and try to shoot the regenerator, holding them both off. I won one round and lost the next, leaving me in 3rd or 4th overall, and with 4 packs of prize support. Huzzah!

The other high point in the day (and a day that has both waffles and a prerelease ranks pretty darn high already) there was a wizards representative at our store. Mark Gottleib, of the Innistrad development team (and much other experience at WOTC) had other business in town, so he showed up to gunsling at the prerelease. For reasons which I can't fathom his table wasn't incredibly busy all day, so I got to hang around, take on his sealed deck (I won, like I said, my deck was good), and so forth. I got him to sign my Living Wish. You see, Mr. Gottleib was rules manager when the M10 rules changes were enacted. One of the changes took "removed from game" and replaced it with "exile". Since the wishes got cards that were outside of the game, they could no longer retrieve cards that were exiled. Instead you get stuff out of your sideboard or collection. As Mr. Gottleib physically wrote on my card "Exiled cards aren't really out of the game". Though I have some lingering resentments over the M10 rules changes (and not very many; really they did an amazing job with that set in general), I was glad for an opportunity to meet one of the developers.

On Sunday I came back, but made no waffles. My sealed pool pushed me into Jund colors (Red Green and Black), with three shimmering grottos to fix mana. I got a first round bye, and then proceeded to go 1-3 the rest of the tournament. Sad.

Not that many people showed up on Sunday, so the store had extra product, so they were able to schedule an impromptu prerelease draft. Cost more than usual, with some prize support, but most interestingly it's a chance to draft the new set. Once again, I tried forcing red. This time I ended up in red green, very aggressive werewolf deck. I didn't draft any of the enablers (moonmist, for example), but I did have a solid wall of creatures to keep dropping. I narrowly won out the first match against another werewolf deck. I narrowly lost the second match against a mono black deck. It came down in game three to him having the second Bump in the Night to burn me out the turn before I would have killed him. Round three I lost against a guy who had the Sturmgeist I couldn't deal with. I probably would have had him anyhow if I could have dealt with his Crab Fortress

Net outlay $80 on games, for a total of 22 packs. I beat the Wal-Mart $4.00 a pack price, but only just. While I enjoyed myself immensely, I'm frustrated that I haven't yet mastered the format. Looking forward to more drafts.

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