New Phyrexia Prerelease Report

I realized that I haven’t done a report on a prerelease lately, and since classes are over I actually have time for this one. It’s actually a pretty busy weekend, but I had time to squeeze in a trip to the last(?) Houston regional prerelease. I only had time for one flight of sealed, no drafting, but hey, that’s better than nothing.

We got 5 packs of New Phyrexia and 1 Pack of Scars of Mirrodin, which I thought was a little weird. Here was my pool (I’m putting colored artifacts in with their color):

In sealed, removal is often pretty hard to come by, and so I went with Black because it was thick with it. Geth’s Verdict might not be the best possible removal, but I couldn’t pass on having four of them. I decided against going Infect since I really wanted the Moltensteel Dragon, of course, and the Slash Panther. I seriously considered running blue for all the fliers, but I decided there were too many with UU casting costs and I thought it would be better to stay away from that, plus the red was pretty good on its own. The green didn’t impress me at all. I certainly wanted to be able to do something with the Birthing Pod but I really didn’t have the curve for it.

I tinkered with the build a lot over the course of the day, so it’s hard to provide a decklist since I don’t think I started any two rounds with the same deck. I think the modal answer would be something close to this:

Yes, it’s light on creatures, but I found it pretty good at keeping the opponent’s guys off the table. I did sleeve up the blue guys and six Islands in case I wanted to switch colors, but I never really had the urge to try it. Oh, and I never actually ran 41 cards, this is just a sketch of what I played.

I forgot to write down names, so I’m sure I’ll botch this. Sorry, opponents.

Round 1: Allen, playing WRu, maybe WRg
Game 1 he curved out beautifully and I never really got anything going. The big blowout was the turn 6 Sunblast Angel that killed my only dude, a Slash Panther. Game 2 I drew lots of Verdicts, and kept his guys off the table, beating down with a Hovermyr with Axe and a Slash Panther. I believe I ended it with an Artillerize. Game 3 he got a little land screwed, I had more Verdicts and I got turn 5 Invader Parasite to set him back to 2 land, and applied with my Immolating Souleater, using a bunch of life to make him lethal. Some beats.
1-0 matches, 2-1 games

Round 2, Chris? playing wrgu
Yes, four colors—he only played like seven colored cards in total and had a Wellspring for fixing. Game 1 was all about his Shrine of Loyal Legions and my inability to do anything useful about it. Turns out making a bunch of tokens at instant speed makes Geth’s Verdict somewhat less than optimal—bad, even. Also lost my Dragon, that of course I paid 4 life for, to a Gremlin Mine, ouch. Game 2 there was no Shrine and I curved out pretty well, got in a nice Skinrender and Slash Panther for beatings. Game 3 was again about the Shrine and my inability to do anything about it. He also had a Gremlin Mine, pinning the Dragon in my hand. I eventually got out the Slash Panther to take down the Mine, but he was so far ahead by then that it hardly mattered, and I again died to a bunch of Myr tokens. I knew I was in trouble when he got the Shrine and a Perilous Myr back with Remember the Fallen. Grr. OK, gotta win out to earn packs.
1-1 matches, 3-3 games

Round 3, Anthony playing UBw
I got turn 1 Axe, turn 2 Hovermyr, turn 3 equip and serve for 3. He never dealt with that particular threat, as I think his only flyer was a Vault Skirge that ate a Contagion Clasp counter, but that was not enough to win the game on its own. I got pretty far ahead, though, but he got… Batterskull. Ugh. Fortunately, it was late and he was far enough behind that a Fume Spitter cutting down the Batterskull was good enough for me to get him to 9. I equipped the Hovermyr with a Strider Harness, bashed for 4 in the air, then ended it with Artillerize. Game 2 I again came out reasonably fast, but got slowed down with the stupid Batterskull again. I Verdicted and Artillerized him down to 1 guy, a Blinding Souleater, which he then equipped with the Batterskull and hit me for 5, gaining him 5, of course. I handled it, though, by Enslaving the Souleater, which I then equipped with the Axe and swung back for 7. He got Mortis Dogs and then took back the Batterskull back, but I was able to keep the equipped mutt off me with his Souleater—hooray Phyrexian mana activation cost, since I certainly couldn’t pay W. Anyway, I kept the Dogs tapped down, swung in with other stuff, and took it home. Yay Enslave!
2-1 matches, 5-3 games

Round 4, Calvin, playing WU
These games were pretty silly, actually. Game 1 I got Mr. Moltensteel on turn 4 off a turn 3 Talisman and never drew another land. However, the Dragon and the Slash Panther, who came out next turn, got there, though I don’t think I ever used life to pump the Dragon. My opponent had to chump a bunch and I had infect counters on both the Panther and the Dragon, though I compensated the Dragon with the Strider Harness. I also used the Gremlin Mine to kill a Spellskite because otherwise my Shrine would be useless, and ultimately the Dragon got there, assisted by an Artillerize to finish. Game 2 I got turn 1 Furnace Scamp, turn 2 Fume Spitter, turn 3 Verdict his one blocker and sac the Scamp, turn 4 I don’t remember, turn 5 Moltensteel Dragon. He tapped out for a Sky-Eel School, which I promptly Enslaved. I swung with the Moltensteel and the Fume Spitter, and since he was tapped out I spent 12 life to pump the Dragon enough to make him lethal. Very short match. I’d love to say I won this on on play skill, but hey, better lucky than good, right? In some sense it wasn’t that lucky, since the only other match I drew the Dragon he was useless—he earned his keep here, though.
3-1 matches, 7-3 games

I would have loved to stay and draft, or even play in the second flight, but my son had a Little League game, so I got my five packs, opened them (nothing particularly good in them, unfortunately), and headed home.

Moltensteel is obviously spectacular, and Batterskull is clearly amazing, even if I did deal with it. I was really impressed by how good Shrine of Loyal Legions was, though, I’ll have to keep an eye out for that one in draft; has to be the class of the Shrine cycle. Slash Panther was also very good, which was not a surprise. I ended many games, and took out a couple significant threats, with Artillerize. Better than I thought it would be. I know I didn’t start out running both, but by the end of the day that was definitely the thing to do.

Phyrexian mana seems good as a mechanic—it certainly kept the games short, since people tended to run their own life totals down. The Pristine Talisman was really good, maybe should have run more than 1, particularly with Phyrexian mana in play. Of course, in draft, with only 1 pack of NPH, I don’t think it’ll be quite so much of a factor, at least in draft.

Can’t wait to see what it’ll do to Standard. The new Sword seems good because pro RW is awesome, though to be honest I’m not a huge fan of the abilities that it has, since Sword of Light and Shadow has life gain on it and Sword of Fire and Ice has damage on it—I was hoping for something more unique. (Actually, I was hoping the red ability would be Pillage but that’s just because I love Pillage and wish they’d reprint it.) I’m definitely not looking forward to two-card combos (that’d be Splinter Twin with Deceiver Exarch and Bloodchief Ascension with Mindcrank), but I do really like the new Tempered Steel deck. Hopefully, the dominance of CawBlade will at least be mitigated some.