Monday, July 18, 2016

MTG: Eldritch Moon Pre-Release (2HG)

After playing in a solo pre-release event for the newest Magic: The Gathering set, Eldritch Moon, I finished out pre-release weekend with a team event.

My friend Dan suggested that we play in this two-headed-giant format event. I don't remember ever playing in a formal limited team event before, though I'd played the format in casual games. Your team gets two pre-release packs, and you share the card pool to build two decks. The expanded card options means that you can generally build better decks this way than in a solo event, though of course your opposition has the same advantage. Then you play your games as a team, with a shared life pool starting at 30, against another team of two.
I quite like the team format, but it does have one major drawback - you only get to play one game in each round instead of the usual best-of-three. That only makes sense, as games take a lot longer with four people instead of two, but it doesn't give you much chance to recover from a poor draw in one game. Still, I think the fun of playing as a team makes up for it.

Dan and I didn't get any of the really big bomb rares in our card pool, but there was still plenty to work with. We ended up building an aggressive white-red deck for me, and a slower green-black deck for Dan. I'd put pressure on the opposition early, Dan's removal could clear the way for my attackers, and he'd bring out big creatures late for the finishing blow. That plan worked pretty well in a two of our matches, both of which we won. Our draws weren't so good in the other two matches, but we still managed to win one of those.

Round 1: Our opponents were a team of brothers, neither of which had played this format before, so they were learning as they went. Our decks cooperated and went pretty much according to plan, winning fairly easily. Afterward we helped out a bit with some deck construction advice for the brother team - I like the way these casual events allow more experienced players to help newer folks learn as they go along. Hopefully it'll be a good experience for them so they're likely to come back next time!
Round 2: We played a father-son team who had some pretty incredible cards, including both pieces of Brisela, Voice of Nightmares. (They'd pulled off that meld in their prior round.) We were pretty fortunate that our decks worked pretty much according to plan, so we were able to knock out Gisela, The Broken Blade before her sister showed up. Dan finished off the game by melding Chittering Host and coming across with all his menace-enabled creatures for the kill. Always nice to use the signature set mechanic for a cool play like that.

Round 3: Our good run of draws had to run out eventually, and here it was, against a couple of guys that both Dan and I have played against quite a bit in other store events. Both of us had to mulligan (fortunately, the first one is free in team formats), and I had to do it again to drop to six cards. Even then my draw was pretty slow, and Dan was short on lands. Fortunately, our opponents didn't have great draws either, so the game devolved into a standoff. We poked at each other a bit, but nothing major happened until our opponents dropped a Tree of Perdition. I then pulled Malevolent Whispers off the top of my deck - incredibly lucky! - stole the Tree, used it to knock them down to 13 and give the tree something like 27 toughness, before giving it back. That big blow was enough to let us whittle them down and eventually send in the Chittering Host for the kill, before they were able to build up a big enough force to overwhelm our side.

Round 4: Another set of poor draws, but this time the other side wasn't similarly afflicted. This was another father-son team, and they had a really good couple of decks: red-green wolves, and white-black with both removal and creature enhancements. They drew enough removal that our defenses were pretty weak, and got an Always Watching out so we had a hard time making good creature trades or mounting any kind of offense. The swarm of vigilance creatures and wolves finished us off without too much trouble.

That put us at 3-1, and ended up being good enough for third place out of ten teams. We got 12 packs to split up as a prize. I had a lot of fun with this event, and I'll definitely be interested in trying the team event again next time it comes around.

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