I remember my first trip to a Pro Tour Qualifier. I was not old enough to drive yet, but my friend's older brother agreed to make the trip for us. It was Extended, and I was not familiar with a lot of the cards. The night before the tournament I stayed up and scoured through lists of cards in hopes of finding the perfect deck. I stumbled on a deck idea that got me really excited. Some obscure tournament in Europe had recently been won by someone that used Scroll Rack to set up an Erratic Explosion for 16 damage by revealing a Draco. Apocalypse had just been released and I was still obsessed with Fire // Ice; So a red and blue deck seemed perfect. I asked my friends if they had the cards for this deck, and they had everything except the Dracos, which, they assured me, wouldn't be too hard to get from the vendors.
We woke up early the next morning and drove a half hour to Edison, New Jersey. The tournament was at the Raritan Center. Harold's, the on-site restaurant, had some of the best breakfast sandwiches I had ever sunk my teeth into. I was able to pick up a few Dracos without much trouble.
They put up the pairings and I remember being horrified when I saw that I had to play against Craig Krempels. I found my seat and introduced myself to my opponent. I had heard a lot about Craig, and players in our area often talked about how good he was. I lost a close match, but Craig was super nice. He even took a look at my deck and offered some suggestions for the next PTQ.
After that I managed to rattle off four wins in a row. I cannot even begin to explain how much fun it was to Prophetic Bolt my opponent down to 16 and use the impulse effect to set up a Draco to the face. I lost my next two matches to miss Top 8, but I had the time of my life. I was hooked on competitive Magic.
It's easy to see why Explosive Revelation caught my eye the first time I saw it on the Visual Spoiler. Remember, this is a set with cards that cost ten, twelve, and even fifteen mana. I have heard a few people, including people on third party forums and magicthegathering.com's own Mike Flores, talk about the implications of this card in Standard. There's a lot of incidental damage these days. Searing Blaze, Blightning, Earthquake, and Volcanic Fallout all help to ensure that 15 damage will be enough to finish the deal.
Firing Explosive Revelation off for 15 damage seems pretty awesome, but Scroll Rack is long gone these days. I need a way to reliably put the Emrakul, the Aeons Torn on the top of my library. Having it in my hand doesn't seem very good in a deck that is not dedicated to ramping to fifteen mana and tearing up some aeons. Here are the options: Jace, the Mind Sculptor comes to mind, but this card is clearly out of reach for my column. Selective Memory seems like it could be another good call, but I don't like cards that don't do anything on their own. Last week I heard an excellent plan while listening to the top8magic.com podcasts: Mike Flores suggested that players use Liliana Vess as a one-card combo!
Top8magic.com has podcasts about Magic posted regularly. I love uploading these onto my iPod and listening to them while I'm on the bus or train. It's a great way to get some Magic time in during your commute.
My four copies of Liliana Vess have been gathering dust in my binder for over a year now. I'm finally going to take them out to play. Liliana Vess is an extremely powerful card. Shortly after its release, Liliana was a force to be reckoned with in Extended. Creature strategies have become more powerful since then, and the hasty Bloodbraid Elf certainly put a dent in the application of five-mana Planeswalkers, but I cannot help but think that a card this strong deserves some action.
Here's the plan: We cast Liliana Vess and tutor up Explosive Revelation. The next turn we tutor up Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and blast our opponent for 15 damage to the face. The deck plays enough incidental damage to make sure that 15 damage is enough to close the deal. Explosive Revelation and Liliana Vess also happen to be very powerful cards on their own. This makes the combo deck a lot more exciting. Usually combo decks have to sacrifice cards in an effort to ensure their win condition. Decks have a lot more resilience when the combo doesn't come at the expense of cards that actually affect the game.
Promo version of Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, available at Rise of the Eldrazi prereleases everywhere (While supplies last). Find a prerelease near you
I know a few people are worried about getting a mythic rare like Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Luckily, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn is the promotional card to be given away at the Prerelease this weekend. Make sure you arrive early enough to get one! Tournament Organizers usually have plenty of copies, but it's always a possibility that they might run out. Emrakul, the Aeons Torn may be mythic rare, but a simple trip to your local Prerelease will net you a foil copy of the card.
What happens if I draw the only copy of Emrakul, the Aeons Torn? Again, no worries. You can simply use the +1 ability on Liliana to discard Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and shuffle your graveyard back into your library.
Let me explain all the cards.
Liliana Vess: I've already gone on for a bit about this one. It's important to remember that Liliana Vess is not just a combo enabler. By all means, if your opponent has one or two cards left in hand, make him or her discard. If you happen to be playing against a control deck and you somehow slipped a Liliana in when your opponent tapped out for a Jace or something like that, then work the discard and go for the ultimate. Liliana is the deck's win condition. The deck can play like a combo deck, but it can also play like a control deck. You can win long, drawn-out games by gaining a slow advantage with Liliana Vess.
Consuming Vapors: This is probably the most exciting card to me in the entirety of the Visual Spoiler. You get to kill two creatures for one card. As if that alone is not already insane, you gain life equal to the toughness of the creature you happen to be killing. Does your opponent's creature have protection from black? Not an issue—Consuming Vapors makes your opponent sacrifice the creature, so no amount of protection or indestructibility will protect their creatures from this insane removal spell. Consuming Vapors seems like it has not garnished a the huge amount of excitement I expected. I recommend trading for these aggressively at your local Prerelease. If you cannot find these it isn't an issue, though. I recommend replacing them with your favorite removal spell.
Explosive Revelation: The win condition. Again, this has more applications than one might expect. I chose not to run any one-cost spells in the main. That's so we can cast Explosive Revelation to kill 2-toughness critters. It may seem silly to spend five mana to kill a 2-toughness creature, but Explosive Revelation puts the revealed card in your hand. You can use the spell to kill something and it actually replaces itself with another spell. Imagine your White Weenie opponent when you use Explosive Revelation to kill White Knight and get a Consuming Vapors in your hand as a bonus!
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn: I'll be perfectly honest when I say that this deck will probably never—never say never—get a chance to hardcast the giant Eldrazi. I wouldn't worry about it too much, though. This card is used as a combo with Explosive Revelation and Liliana Vess. It does what it needs to do in this deck.
Searing Blaze: The incidental damage caused by Searing Blaze helps ensure that our 15 point Explosive Revelation will have what it takes to get the job done. Searing Blaze also happens to be an awesome removal spell. I especially like Searing Blaze against planeswalkers. Killing your opponent's creature and taking out a planeswalker seems like a very nice deal.
Blightning: More incidental damage! Blightning is one of the most powerful cards available in today's standard. The discard effect has great synergy with Liliana Vess. I have a hard time not splashing to play this card in decks that have one of its colors. I wouldn't be caught dead not playing four copies in a black-red deck.
Terminate: I don't know about you, but I still love the original Planeshift art, the picture where Darigaaz, the Igniter is diving into the lava. Terminate is beautifully efficient. It does exactly what we want a card to do. It kills Noble Hierarch, Baneslayer Angel, and everything in between.
Sign in Blood: Drawing cards is very important in a control deck. Sign in Blood's "drawback" can actually help you win the game if your opponent is at a precarious life total of 2 after you deal 15 with Explosive Revelation.
Doom Blade: I was not sure if I wanted four copies of Doom Blade and three copies of Terminate or the other way around. Doom Blade kills problem creatures like Kor Firewalker, but Terminate is obviously better in the Vampire matchup. I decided to go with four Terminate, but only because this deck has Consuming Vapors to help with the Kor Firewalker problem.
Earthquake: I wanted a Wrath of God and Earthquake seemed like the best option here. The extra damage done by earthquake is helpful when it comes to destroying Planeswalkers or just getting our opponent to fifteen.
The lands: There are an even amount of Black and Red spells in the deck so the mana base is fairly straight-forward. If you can afford Dragonskull Summit and Lavaclaw Reaches, then I strongly urge you to put them in the deck. If not, then it isn't an issue, just play the mana base I use and it should work out fine.
Here's the list!
I'll be gunslinging at the Prerelease in New York City this weekend. Come on over and play some matches with me! This Prerelease seems like it should be some of the most fun in a very long time. I'm extremely excited about casting some giant Eldrazi spells. I'm even more excited about winning long games with Vent Sentinel. Remember, everyone that enters a flight at their local Prerelease will get a promotional copy of Emrakul, the Aeons Torn while supplies last. I expect this card to be a hot one. It is, after-all, the most powerful creature ever printed. (Once it's on the battlefield, of course.) Get some friends together and make the trip to your local Prerelease.