Unleash the Fury!

Posted in Serious Fun on December 20, 2011

I truly enjoy Prerelease events. While you can understand this readily from a quick count of the times I've written about them (at least four), what makes this one special is how everything came together. There were awesome cards, friendly faces, an engaging theme, and plenty of stories—good and bad—to go around. Dark Ascension is just around the seasonal corner, and if a Prerelease is new to you then this will serve as a guide that lays it all out!

War. War never changes. And from the mix of crafty veterans and green recruits who made it to the Prerelease events I was at this past weekend, the war is just beginning.

I don't need to tell you that playing Magic is fun: that fact is obvious thanks to you coming here to read about it. And whether you went to the Prerelease or not it's abundantly clear: war has come to Mirrodin. While there's an abundance of clichés and catch-phrases that can be invoked, the idea of "All's fair in love and war" is the one that comes to mind first.

Fair is a word that carries a strong meaning. What's "right, and correct, and true" varies by your perspective. From the funkiest of smatterings of everything cool to the most rigid and organized of orchestrations, decks of all types took to the tables and laid siege upon each other. The opening salvo of the ongoing war effort hammered all across the world this past weekend.

And if you haven't picked a side already stay tuned: no one is an island out here.

While the Prerelease Events I attended were awesome for me what I'd like to do today is share some of the initial sights on the battlefront, with a few sparks of inspiration thrown in along the way. (And as for those curious about the whole "Mirran vs. Phyrexian" thing don't worry: I promise there's more to come.)

How to Demolish a Crowd (and Other Useful Things)

If you headed to a local Prerelease then this won't be any surprise to you: there were free trinkets to be had. My slot involved giving out what seemed like an endless supply of posters (It wasn't!), some delicious beverages, neato double-sided boxes, and some spin-up dice that reached an apropos skull-and-crossbones conclusion at 10.

While the gift of tracking poison counters is dubious ("Of course Mirrans will endure!" as Mirrans were apt to share.) it was certainly a nice touch. As I had been planning for some time, it was a day to be Phyrexian for me as I suited up into my infect best.

And like any gathering of players for opening packs, sometimes we're reminded why so many of us actually enjoy just busting the goodness. With a crowd of witnesses, as a little dramatic flair added to boot, I unwrapped my piece of the Great Work for the day. In particular order were the following cards found in my packs:

  1. Molten-Tail Masticore
  2. Koth of the Hammer
  3. Mimic Vat
  4. Black Sun's Zenith
  5. Mirrorworks
  6. Praetor's Counsel

It virtually never happens. It's often whispers and hearsay; all second hand. It's certainly never happened to me. But the memory of opening a few booster packs and finding my first "I really wanted this!" spell (at the time, Saviors of Kamigawa and Twincast) had been utterly and completely replaced by that streak of rips.

It also helps when an entire crowd is pushing in, trying to see exactly what the only guy with product so far is cracking. The wailing moan of "Unreal!" echoing after the last faction booster was the cherry on top of the sprinkles on top of the icing on top of the cupcake.

It happened. It happened to me. And, my apologies and hope it happens to you, but it felt good.

While gold and copper colors are great on a few cards, here is the actual deck built around those all-stars for anyone interested:

Adam's Sealed Deck

Download Arena Decklist

Phyrexian through and through, I aimed to (and did!) infect quite a few fellow players. But I'll also admit to Phyrexian heresy: blasting down a path through the life total of an opponent with Molten-Tail Masticore happened at least once.

I mean, I'm living the dream and anything happened all day long. Like, for instance, playing against Ryan.

Yep. That is indeed a premium foilKoth of the Hammerand a minty fresh Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas from his pool. And even though he was a fellow Phyrexian I put him through the gauntlet of not one casting of Black Sun's Zenith but two before succumbing to the infection. No planeswalker cards were even involved in his pursuit of my perfection.

Achievement Unlocked: Mirrotron Assemble!

One of the cool features from the weekend that I hope comes back for future events was a card of achievements to unlock. While some weren't applicable to me (I couldn't win any matches, and get the Victory! series crossed off, as I wasn't actually playing in any events!) and some were super easy (Like Team Up, delivering a high-five to five fellow Phyrexians, as I was asking everyone which faction they had picked.) there were a few I'd like to take a second crack at getting:

  • Praetor's Pet – Control a creature that had infect and 10 or more power.
  • All Becomes Phyrexia – Proliferate four or more players and/or permanents at once.
  • Experienced – Enter into more than one event.

What can I say? I really like Prereleases. While I certainly plan to Join the Fight and hit up a local Mirrodin Besieged Launch Party I found myself thinking about the war and what other achievements would be possible. What would you think of something like this?

Mirrotron Assemble! – Control at least one permanent of each rarity, each with Mirran watermarks.

While it might take some more open-ended deck construction to feature regularly I know it's possible in sealed.

This was definitely across from me at one point during the day. Sword of Body and Mind, Livewire Lash, Infiltration Lens, and a Gold Myr is a pretty fearsome spread to face down. While I managed to squeak out a victory against the assembled power of the Mirrans, it was still a very close call.

For some multiplayer engagements that are faction themed, try some Mirran mirroring:


Download Arena Decklist

I love to copy things and I know many of you do too. While Clone and Quicksilver Gargantuan are the veterans to the show, it's the newcomer Cryptoplasm that will be stealing it. Whatever the best is, even if it's new, can be what Cryptoplasm can be.

Plated Seastriders and Trinket Mages provide early fuel to getting into things, with a standard array of trinkets available to pull. Stoic Rebuttal, Volition Reins, and Quicksilver Geyser all provide some answers to the game's hard questions. And the duo of Preordain and Halimar Depths serve to see out that which we desire most.

Ideally we'd be looking for "the more" as our Shapeshifter friends will be merrier that way. While it might be tempting to sprinkle a Consecrated Sphinx into the mix here beware: that Sphinx is not Mirran.

Style points people. Style.

Arts and Crafts (But Mostly Arts)

If you happen across a grand gaggle of Magic players (and "gaggle" is the grouping nomenclature I'd like to see take off) odds are it's a big, featured event. Big, feature events, as you may already be aware, are mystical places where Magic artists and personalities can be seen.

And if you're Mark Tedin, thanks again for bearing it out not going cross-eyed.

The line for our featured artist was out the door for the better part of the entire day. It turns out that when you're quite the historic and prolific artist in Magic there may be a few fans who'd like to stop in. Including myself.

In a brief, fleeting lull, Mark was kind enough to "doodle something" as per my request. Five minutes later, a very cool looking sketch of Chaos Orb with note about the timing and location was added to one of my playmats.

But that wasn't the only art floating around. David was a card-carrying member of the Black Sun's Zenith Club.

While packing the stifling heat of a black sun's rays of doom was certainly enough cause for concern it was a slightly different piece of paper that had me smiling.

Artist @inkwell_looter (of the Unfinished Business fame) shared that image of those poison "counters" with the Magic world back when Scars of Mirrodin was fresh. It was tantalizingly entertaining, and obviously frightening, when David pulled out those bucks.

He managed to pile them quite high for me before I was able to extend his credit to 10 (and I'm pretty sure if I was Mirran I would have ticked the Incorruptible achievement—winning the game at nine poison counters).

I hope I never have to find a bank if I visit Mirrodin.

Upbeats and Beatdowns

All said, I ended up losing more games than winning throughout my time slinging. Unlike my more recent ventures into the world of "Hey you! Let's battle!" I found myself facing superior numbers—removal and creatures—at far too many inopportune moments.

My luck was just a flash in the pan.

But I noticed something awesome: even the most stalwart and dedicated of competitors were genuinely enjoying duking it out for faction bragging rights. From Prerelease regular and very young gun Sebastian (who took to the Mirran side and tore me up with a shiny, cross-faction foil Bonehoard and Hero of Oxid Ridge) to travelled-to-Amsterdam-and-back Ian (another Mirran, one who applied the laser beam of the Red Sun's Zenith to my face), everyone I saw was excited.

And in the end I'd rather see some happy faces and eager players than win every game that I get to play. I hope you, too, join in and let loose. It's a war out there but you're in the driver's seat.

Join us next week when it's time to unleash our battle cry! See you then!

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