Rise of the Eldrazi: Leveler’s Glory Review (Part 2 of 2)
“Oh,” said Sam, picking out a deck, “I forgot that these were the 41-card ones.” I can understand her dismay- I never much cared for the 41-card model either, much preferring the 60 cards + booster pack we’ve currently settled back on. That wasn’t going to stop us, though, as we laid out the playmats and took our respective decks to battle. I had little hope- the Leveler’s Glory concoction was a study in form over function. Ostensibly selected to showcase the Level Up mechanic, as we saw in the deck analysis the efficacy of the deck is compromised by its inability to settle on a focused path to victory. Instead, what we have is a hodgepodge smattering of different win conditions, which means that it will be doing a whole lot less winning.
For this match, Sam selected the Red/Green Eldrazi Arisen deck. Here are our notes from the matchup.
Having lost pur pre-game “friendly” match, I’m on the play for game one, and I’m taking a bit of a gamble. One of the very best starts for Leveler’s Glory is to see two plains and the Student of Warfare in your opening grip, and though most everything else is junk I opt to keep it and see how far the blazing-fast Student will take me. Sam’s response is to play a Mountain and pass.
I drop my second Plains and level the Student to L2, then swinging in for 3. Sam untaps and plays a Flame Slash, and I’m now back where I started. Chagrined, I play an Island for turn 3, while Sam drops a land and a Goblin Piker, looking to take the beatdown role.
I manage to come back with the rather underwhelming Alluring Siren, trying to make the best of a bad hand. Sam ramps with a Growth Spasm, netting her a Mountian and a her first Eldrazi Spawn token creature. Next turn, I’m able to get a Makindi Griffin onto the board, and feel like things are starting to stabilise. On her turn, I use the Siren to lure over the Goblin Piker, which gets chewed up by my Griffin. Sam replaces it with a Daggerback Basilisk and passes.
Come turn 6, I’m able to send in the Griffin and replace it with Soulbound Guardians to mind the home front. Things are looking up! For her part, Sam continues to work the ramp angle with a Kozilek’s Predator, adding two more Eldrazi Spawn tokens. She then sends in the Basilisk, and I let it through for 2 (taking me to 16). A turn-7 Wall of Frost does little agains tthe deathtouching Basilisk but does shore up my defences, and in I go with the Griffin to hit Sam for 2 more. Passing to Sam, I use the Siren to ‘red rover’ on over one of her Spawn. She then pops it to play for a 5-point Windstorm, which eliminates my Griffin and the Guardians. My prospects have suddenly worsened. She then follows up with an attack, sending in the Kozilek’s Predator and Daggerback Basilisk. I block the Predator with the Wall of Frost, but the Basilisk gets through.
Turn 8, and I’m looking for answers having no threats of my own now. I drop a Lone Missionary, then pass. Then on Sam’s turn I lure over the Basilisk and trade it for the Missionary, taking care of one problem. Sam replaces it with something worse- a Rapacious One.
The next turn, I’m blanked, playing a Plains and nothing else. Sam ups the ante, playing a Conquering Manticore and stealing my Wall of Frost away from me for the turn. She sends in the Rapacious One and Kozilek’s Predator, but I’m able to buy some time. I Unsummon the Rapacious One, reducing my damage to 2. I then cast Angel’s Mercy at the end of turn, and I’m back up to 22 life.
Needing to do something, and with few good options I Domesticate Sam’s Predator. Sam swings in with the Manticore and resummons the Rapacious One. A turn 11 Luminous Wake on the Manticore virtually nullifies it as an attacker, though it can still be an aerial obstacle if any of my skies forces emerge. Still, it’s far preferable to dying. Passing to Sam, I tap the Siren to force her to attack with the Rapacious One, thinking I can freeze it with my Wall. Sam then steals my Wall a second time with Act of Treason, and swings in with the Manticore and Rapacious One. I drop to 11 from 17, and Sam puts five more Eldrazi Spawn into play.
Next turn, I take advantage of the opening to sneak in three more damage with Kozilek’s Predator. Sam’s now down to 10, but I’m still far from victory. Back to Sam, I again call the Rapacious One over with the Siren. Sam comes at me with it and the Manticore. The Rapacious One runs right into my Wall of Frost, as planned, but Sam’s Might of the Masses on the Manticore (giving it +8/+8) is anything but. I’m now at 2 life.
Desperate, I summon a Caravan Escort and level it up to L3. I swing in with the Predator again, and this time Sam elects to chump it with a Spawn token. Now on the offensive, Sam swings in with the Manticore again after I tap the Siren to bring over one of her Spawn (it dies to the Escort). She casts a Sporecap Spider, and passes back. I draw nothing, and scoop.
After an uneventful turn 1, I lead off turn 2 with a See Beyond. I draw a Plains and a Hedron-Field Purists, and needing land I flush a Fleeting Distraction away. Sam gets right to the meat of the matter with a Nest Invader, then passes. Electing to try and get the Purists out and up early, I tap out on turn 3 to deploy them. Sam responds with a Sporecap Spider, and we’re off!
I use turns 5 through 8 mainly to level up the Purists to L5, blunting all sources of damage against myself or my forces by 2. I pause the leveling only on turn 6, when I deploy a Wall of Frost and Caravan Escort.
Sam’s far from idle, though. On turn 5 she attacks with the Invader. I block with my Purists and they bounce off one another. Sam tries to finish the job with a Flame Slash, but a timely Negate thwarts her. On turn 6 she attacks again with the Invader, but this time I block with the Wall of Frost. Undeterred, she sets down an Awakening Zone. And on turn 7, she taps out and pops a Spawn to summon Ulamog’s Crusher– at last, an Eldrazi!
I have an answer, though, on turn 8: Narcolepsy. After leveling the Purists, I end my turn. Sam manages only a Dreamstone Hedron in return. Turn 9, things look up- I get out a Snapping Drake, and use remaining mana to level up toe Caravan Escort to L1. Sam responds with an Ondu Giant, fetching another Mountain.
I finally strike my first blow on turn 10 with the Drake, which tells you how weak this deck can be. I then stuff mana into my Caravan Escort until it’s a 5/5 First Striker, holding it back for defense as the red zone is looking a little congested. Sam brings out a Conquering Masticore, and treasons my Escort sending it against me. I take the 3 without complaint (5, less two from the Pursists passive ability). There’s a Sleep in my hand, and I’m just waiting for the right time to use it.
The Student of Warfare I draw on turn 11 convinces me I’m close- I play it and level it to L4. Sam plunges in with the Manticore for 3 more, then passes back. On turn 12, I raise my Student to max level, then cast Sleep for the alpha strike. The 18 damage my beaters hit her for is one more than needed to win.
Another opening hand with the Student of Warfare and two Plains, but this time the rest of the cards are actually decent. My turn-1 Student becomes a turn-2 3/3 First Striker, and all Sam can manage is a Runed Servitor. Each turn I level up the Student with my Plains, and keep swinging in. This must be one of those “quick wins” the back of the deck’s box told me about!
Sam and I trade blows- Student and Servitor- but Sam’s falling behind from a mana shortage. I hit my drops, though, and continue the aggression with a turn 4 Lone Missionary, taking me back to 20 life. Back to Sam for turn 5, she draws and discards a Hand of Emrakul due to being at max hand size. I bring the Student to L7, then go in with the Student and the Missionary. Sam chumps the Student with her Servitor, netting us each a card. I follow up with See Beyond, and opt to keep Narcolepsy, flushing the Luminous Wake right back into the deck and shuffling (I’d have a laugh the next turn as I drew the Wake again).
A turn 6 Growth Spasm for a Spawn token and a Mountain is too little, too late as I tap her down with Sleep and go in for the kill.
Thoughts & Analysis
Throw in the conditions for a good card to be optimised, and you’ll occasionally be able to steal a win when the ‘dream scenario’ materialises, no matter how bad the deck. This is one of those decks, with Student of Warfare being the one bright shining star in it for fast aggression. Don’t let the results fool you, this deck is very poor and benefited in no small amount so some bad breaks for Sam. The fact that it drew first blood on Sam on turn 10 bears mentioning here again.
As stated in the analysis and introduction, this deck is more or less several different win conditions cobbled together, which diminishes the effectiveness of any one particular strategy bearing fruit. Put another way, this deck is rather like a Scars of Mirrodin casual constructed deck that has half Infect critters and half conventional ones- it’s just not very effective because it splits its attention.
On the upside, Sleep is an excellent inclusion here- we’ve written before about how lethal this spell can be in the right environment, and it did not disappoint. The Student of Warfare was also aces, as to be expected. In all other ways, though, Leveler’s Glory was too slow to be a fast deck, and too unfocused to be a control deck. In short, plenty of levelers, little glory. Give this one a miss.
Hits: Student of Warfare an excellent card and makes an attractive foil promo; Sleep can sometimes make even bad decks look good
Misses: Lack of focused win condition- generalist approach dilutes its ability to consistently deploy threats and answers; deplorable removal suite that doesn’t use a single White removal card
FINAL GRADE: 3.25/5.00