Last weekend the majority of the Magic community got to try out the latest set during the Ravinca Allegiance Pre-Release. Magic players everywhere descended upon their local gaming stores to test out the newest Limited format and see how the rest of the revamped Guilds stack up, including yours truly. Today, I’ll be giving you my opinions on the set and how I got on playing Sealed with my local community.
I was unfortunately working early on Saturday morning. As a result I was unable to get to my local store’s (Patriot Games Sheffield) mid-night Pre-Release, nor the following morning’s event. Luckily, I was free to attend the Sunday competitive event. So, after reserving myself a Radkos pack and sleeving up my basics, I set off to test my mettle.
To clarify, Pre-Release’s are not designed to be competitive events and are more about having fun with the latest set and testing out the new cards for yourself. This was the case for the event I attended, and the only thing competitive about this particular Pre-Release was the prize support.
The atmosphere was very relaxed, and everyone had a blast cracking packs and playing games throughout the day. I have always said that Pre-Release’s are the best events to attend for new and existing players alike and if you get the chance to go you should. Not only do you get to play lots of new Magic, but you also get to support your local store.
Right, with that out of the way lets have a look at how my event went.
When I called to book my place for the event, I discovered that there were only two Guilds still available to pre-register with. Rakdos and Azorius. Given my pre-existing love for everything aggro, and my general leaning towards those kinds of deck, the choice was very clear. I was also hoping to get a few copies Skewer the Critics and Light Up the Stage for my Standard deck, so Rakdos and its seeded pack seemed the way to go.
I sat down and cracked opened my Pre-Release kit to see what I had to play with. The first thing I saw was my stamped foil promo Bedevil. Good start. The rest of the seeded pack had some good cards, including a copy of Light Up the Stage. Then I opened the rest of my pool, and well… it wasn’t great. My rares were pushing me into Gruul, but the rest of the commons and uncommons were placing me in Rakdos. My white and blue were nothing to write home about, and my fixing was firmly in the Jund section of the colour pie.
So, I had to make a decision regrading the deck. Do I go for a reasonably well built Rakdos deck with very little at the top end? Or do I splash into green to make use of my stronger rares at the expense of the consistency of my mana base? In the end I decided to stick to a streamlined black/red build and hope that the lack of big, bomby, rares didn’t hurt me. The list I settled on was the is pictured below.
Overall, I was pretty happy with the deck. Yeah, I would have loved to see a heavier hitter at my top end, but I had a good removal package and some decent two and three drops, so with a little luck I should do well. The only think I was disappointed in was the fact I didn’t open up a single copy of Skewer the Critics. Talk about a Mythic Common.
Round One: vs Naya
My first game was against a member of the Gruul clan. At least I thought it was, until they played a Plains on turn two. It soon became apparent my opponent was playing a Naya beatdown strategy, particularly after they played a Rhythm of the Wild. I can only imagine how many games im going to lose to this three-mana enchantment. Things went from bad to worse when I got slapped by a hasty Angel of Grace, and soon my opponent locked up game one.
However, going three colours in limited has its own pitfalls, as my opponent discovered when they got cut off Green mana for the majority of game two. Game three went better for them on the mana front, but the sheer amount of removal I was running came into its own, and with the help of my two copies of Spear Spewer I was able to grind them out.
Round Two: vs Radkos
These games were really brutal, but still really fun. They were also very close. Either of us could’ve taken the match at numerous points throughout it. They were brutal in terms of the amount of carnage that we left on the battlefield, but to be fair, what else would you expect from a couple of Rakdos players.
Every time a creature hit the table, it was quickly dispatched. Many poor souls were Consigned to the Pit during the match, and combat was a truly blood affair. What tipped it in my opponent’s favour was the well timed casting of Macabre Mockery followed by Carnival // Carnage. Been slapped by my own Rakdos Firewheeler before being the victim of a Blightning was more than my deck could withstand.
Round Three: vs Jund
If you were to ask my opponent for this round what they were playing, they would tell you it was a simple Rakdos deck. Then they would play a Gruul Guildgate followed by a Domri, Chaos Bringer. I questioned this and said ‘arh, so you’re Jund I see’. They disagreed with this statement and we had a lengthy debate about what makes a deck Jund or not. In the end it didn’t matter either way as I lost game one.
All joking aside these were really funny games, as at times it felt like we were running almost identical decks to one another. I quickly took down game two with some really explosive draws and we moved onto game three. This came down to whether my opponent could beat me down quicker than my two sideboarded copies of Ill-Gotten Inheritance could drain them out. Unfortunately for yours truly, they just managed to hit enough gas to close out the game.
Round Four: Temur
In round four I was paired up against Jay, a young man I have played many times before. In fact, I had played a game of Commander against him the Friday before. I that game he resolved a turn two Winter Orb, a Propaganda, and a Ghostly Prison. The cherry on top however was when he played Armageddon and set us all back to the stone age. So, as you can imagine I had a score to settle.
He had built a pretty sweet Temur deck from his Simic pool. It can’t be understated how well adapt and riot go together. Fortunately for me I was able to keep his board from getting out of control and was able to close out the match without suffering a loss. I had my revenge and after the game he traded me a Skewer the Critics he had got from a previous event. So I guess he is a good person after all.
Round Five: Sultai
The final round was against another Simic guild member, but this time they had splashed for black instead of red. I was able to put on a lot of early game pressure and thought I had a decent chance at ending the day with a positive record. Unfortunately, one of the cards my opponent was splashing for was Vindictive Vampire and another was Ill-Gotten Inheritance.
This made the games very grindy, which wasn’t something I was keen on. I lost game one, but thought I had a real chance of turning around game two. That was until my opponent played his trump card in the from of a spectacled Spawn of Mayhem. With a lack of blockers able to stop the flyer, game two finished shortly afterwards, and with it my chances of a positive win record were lost.
Overall, I finished the day with a win-loss record of 2-3, which is not my worst result. Sure, it’s not my best either, but each of the matches felt like they could have gone either way, and to be honest winning was not what was important about the day. My goal was to have fun playing some games of Ravnica Allegiance with old and future friends, and that’s exactly what I did.
The new set is a great limited environment from what I have seen so far, and I look forward to playing it some more. As I stated before, Pre-Release’s are some of the best events to attend no matter your skill level, and if you can go you absolutely should give them a try. In fact, I saw some interesting interactions during my games which will probably inspire some future deck techs.
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