Prereleasing in Paris

Posted in Feature on April 27, 2006

By Olivier Ruel

Welcome to GP Paris! Err… no wait, to the Paris Prerelease of Dissension

I played a prerelease in Moscow and another one in Tokyo in 2005, but it’s been a long time since I last played one in Paris. The huge crowd waiting to register was the first good surprise. Of course the tournament wouldn't start early, but as there would be another prerelease in Paris suburbs on Sunday, who would have guessed the attendance would be so huge?

473 players, that was the only similarity with a Grand Prix. The French prerelease system works as follows:
-One main event (no flights)
-Straight swiss rounds (no top8)
-The winner of every match receives a Dissension booster pack.
-all players going at least X/2 receive product, X/0 receiving a display

I came to try to get as many packs as possible as I am going to Amsterdam today to practice for Prague. I was not the only one to come up with this idea as Gabriel Nassif, Julien Goron, Florent Jeudon, Amiel Tenenbaum and few other players qualified for Prague made it to the prerelease.

My sealed deck offered me a solid White/Red/Black deck with not-so-good creatures but great removal spells as I was running double Seal of Fire, Seal of Doom, Lightning Helix, Galvanic Arc, Last Gasp, Wrecking Ball, Kindle the Carnage and Flash Conscription. If I don't like Conscription much in draft, it can be really strong in Sealed deck, since it is a really slow format. As I had two UW duals (Azorius Chancery and Hallowed Fountain) as well as Azorius Signet, I checked in my card pile whether there were any blue cards I’d like to play. I found one of my favourite commons in Ravnica: Compulsive Research. As my creatures where pretty low, I also added Snapping Drake to my deck.
When I first opened my deck, I was pretty excited about the rares, having besides the dualland Cerulean Sphinx, Master Warcraft and Experiment Kraj. Eventually, except for the land, they all ended in my sideboard. It was obvious choice for the Sphinx as blue was just a tiny little splash, but the choice of not playing Master Warcraft was more questionable. There are two reasons that made me take this decision:

  • 1)Master Warcraft is a very good card, but it's not a spoiler to me, as it wins games only in some conditions. It would be more like a split card Predatory Focus/Fog, meaning it wins games in case of race or of a very tight situation. These conditions often happen in draft, but they are way rarer in sealed deck.
  • 2)Playing nearly only removals and 2/2s, I couldn’t expect much more than a Fog from it.

Here’s the list I finally ended up with :

1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Rakdos Carnarium
1 Azorius Chancery
4 Plains
5 Swamp
5 Mountain

1 Mistral Charger
1 Gobhobbler Rats
1 Ragamuffyn
2 Freewind Equenaut
1 Stinkweed Imp
1 Goblin Spelunkers
1 Skyknight Legionnaire
1 Screeching Griffin
1 Aura Eidolon
1 Entropic Eidolon
1 Guardian of the Guildpact
1 Snapping Drake

2 Seal of Fire
1 Lightning Helix
1 Last Gasp
1 Azorius Signet
1 Compulsive Research
1 Galvanic Arc
1 Seal of Doom
1 Kindle the Carnage
1 Wrecking Ball
1 Flash Conscription

This build has been the tougher one of the prereleases I entered. But in both cases, there is still this one thing I like about prerelease events: This impression every single combo is the result of your imagination, not of your experience as it will be in the weeks. Here are the cards or the combos that kept my attention in the week end:

-Duals and Signets are getting more and more important, they will be high picked in draft pretty soon.

-Transguild Courier + Might of the Nephilim, or how a Hill Giant + Giant Growth can deal 13 damages. I’ve even played Quickchange in my first draft of the format, featuring Might of the Nephilim, Gelectrode and Wee Dragonauts. It finally helped against Guardian of the Guildpact and Enemy of the Guildpact also, and turned out to be pretty good.

-Reroute has become a pretty decent sideboard card against Seal of Doom and Seal of Fire.

-Helium Squirter + Trophy Hunter: Twice in seven rounds I gave an opponent’s creature +1/+1 and made it fly to shoot it with my Hunter. Rather expensive but quite interesting.

-Beacon Hawk + Tims: combined either with Viashino Fangtail, Rakdos Ickspitter, Wojek Embermage or Gelectrode, the hawk is just like a second Tim.

-Protean Hulk won’t unfortunately bring 4 Kokushos into play, breaking my first hopes…

-Loaming Shaman: Pretty good in mid game as it reshuffles all removals and drawing spells back to the deck.

-Omnibian: nearly as cool as Ovinomancer

-Azorius First-Wing: the 2/2 flyer pro enchantment is not only sheltered from Faith Fetter's and the Pacifism-like, it can also block Halcyon Glaze.

-Patagia Viper and friends: they’re not like Knight of the Mists, you can pay the requested mana as part of the casting cost; it's not an extra.

-Eidolons: Good if you don't have many 4 mana cards, and if you have lots of golds.

Vigean Graftmage + Ocular Halo: 1U: draw a card, your opponent would better kill your guy immediately.

-Leafdrake Roost: I've played two prereleases. This has been the only card on an opponent's board that let me totally hopeless. It even makes me want to try to get some land destruction just in case.

-Carom: Very good trick, particularly VS Rakdos Ickspitter.

-Research/Development: Most of people don't realize it, but it's just a five mana Compulsive Research, drawing 3 is nearly always the best thing that can happen to you. Its great advantage compared to Compulsive is that it’s an instant.

-Bond of Agony: Can be an interesting finisher, a sideboard card probably.

-Ignorant Bliss: pretty good in limited if you are using Hellbent. Excellent sideboard in Constructed against hand destruction.

-Macabre Waltz: Very strong in mid or late game, another combo with Izzet Chronarch.

I ended up winning this prerelease and losing in the last round of the second one only. 57 packs, and a lot of drafts coming. Come back on Saturday for my first draft analysis.

Typing this article, I've been listening (once again) to Clap your hands say yeah/ CLAP YOUR HAND SAY YEAH, certainly the record I've been listening to the most with The Arcade Fire/FUNERAL this year.
Send your impressions and thoughts to Olivier Ruel @

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