2009-2010 Precon Championships: Tinsman Division (Part 1 of 2)
Welcome back, fans of sport and competition, as we kick off our coverage of the 2009-10 Precon Championships- Tinsman Division! As you know, we’ve already crowned a Nagle Division winner, Eyes of Shadow, and now we’ll begin to determine who will face off against Liliana Vess for the right to represent the Rosewater Conference in the finals!
Let’s begin with a look at the brackets:
The Teams to Beat
There’s quite a spread in the Tinsman Division, which makes it somewhat difficult to predict a winner! All of Zendikar block is represented here, and you have to feel for the Vampires. Poor luck, but they’re facing off against one another in the opening round, thereby ensuring only one of their number will contend for it all. Two Boros-style decks, Planechase’s Strike Force and M10’s We Are Legion will be giving it a shot, and lastly one of the Planeswalker-themed Duel Decks will be stepping into the fray. Again it’s Black’s favoured daughter, Liliana Vess, who already has seen one of her decks take its division. Can she repeat her success here?
Once more, in alphabetical order, we are proud to present your Tinsman Division contenders!
Set: Rise of the Eldrazi
Detail: One of the better of Rise’s precons, this Red/Green “battlecruiser” deck is all about getting an Eldrazi to land, though it has a few other tricks up its sleeves as well. It’s main weakness will be its lack of speed- Rise decks tend to be accustomed to a slower environment, and could pay the price in an open field. (Review: deck, playtest)
Fangs of the Bloodchief
Detail: Fast, aggressive, and mono-coloured, Fangs would be a likely favourite against many opponents, but fortune has placed it in a ‘mirror-match’ for its opener. Facing off against fellow Vampires takes the teeth out of Anowon, but will it have enough tenacity to see it through all the same? (review: not available)
Set: Rise of the Eldrazi
Detail: This precon showcases the Level Up mechanic a bit more successfully than its fellow traveler, Leveler’s Glory, but is absolutely congested at the three-drop slot (both creatures and Level Up costs). It’s running up against an unknown quantity, the M10 We Are Legion build, to get out of the first round. Will it have the tools to withstand the early aggro rush in order to build up its forces? (review: deck, playtest)
Set: Duel Decks- Garruk vs. Liliana
Detail: Liliana Vess has already put her name on the map as the tournament’s first celebrity, but will her personal deck manage to follow in the footsteps of Eyes of Shadow? Although an all-Vess Conference final would be a sight to see, she’ll first have to get through Eldrazi Arisen, and it’s a safe bet that the gargantuan wanderers of the Blind Eternities have their own ideas. (review: not available)
Detail: Zendikar was not a stellarly-reviewed set, and Pumped Up was no star of the set. With some poor card choices and an uncommon amount of colour-greed on its cards, it’s got its work cut out for it. It will take all the pumping it can muster- combined with some lucky draws- to knock out the powerful Strike Force. (review: deck, playtest)
Rise of the Vampires
Detail: The original Zendikar-block Vampire tribal deck, the theme was reprised in Worldwake but Rise will be looking to make its own name. A well-constructed deck just a trifle light on removal, it stands a solid chance of breaking into the field if it can manage to get past its rival in that fratricidal first matchup. (review: deck, playtest)
Detail: While the Planechase decks are comparatively powerful to the rest of the field on the basis of number of Rares, Ears of the Elves proved them mortal by dumping Zombie Empire in the first round. Still, it’s going to take some doing to defeat this spell-heavy Boros deck, which is the odds-on favourite for its first matchup. (review: not available)
We Are Legion
Set: Magic 2010
Detail: The sole contestant from Magic 2010 in the Rosewater Conference, We Are Legion has a lot to prove, and even more to prove it against. The M10 decks were a bit underwhelming, but the right tools for the job are here- Red burn and White flyers. Will it be enough? (review: not available)
And now… to battle!
Liliana’s Deck vs. Eldrazi Arisen
A great clash with a lot of back-and-forth, Eldrazi Arisen gets out early with some solid beaters- Kozilek’s Predator, Runed Servitor, even the Conquering Manticore- but Liliana throws removal after removal, Corrupting and Snuffing Out, taking the teeth out one by one. The tide turns, with Phyrexian Ragers leading the way. Even Liliana Vess herself takes the field. At 3 life, Eldrazi Arisen lands Pathrazer of Ulamog, using every last Spawn at its disposal. Having endured Liliana’s barrage of removal, Eldrazi Arisen Flame Slashes and Act of Treasons until Liliana has only two defenders left, letting the Pathrazer walk in for lethal unopposed.
An early stumble by Eldrazi Arisen plays right into Liliana’s hands. A lone Nest Invader holds down the fort against a rising tide of Phyrexian Ragers, Drudge Skeletons, a Genju of the Fens and again Liliana Vess. Although a Conquering Manticore lands, by that time a Skeletal Vampire has been added to the forces arrayed against it. Liliana’s card draw with the Ragers and Sign in Blood help fuel her overwhelming might which crushes the nascent Eldrazi Arisen.
A close race for this final of the three clashes, Eldrazi Arisen starts things off with a Runed Servitor, whilie Liliana goes from a Ghost-Lit Stalker into aggro mode with a Fleshbag Marauder. Timely Flame Slashes take care not only of that problem, but of the Twisted Abomination as well, catching Liliana’s Deck tapped out from landing the massive Zombie and unable to regenerate it. A Kozilek’s Predator, Sporecap Spider, and Goblin Piker add to the Eldrazi Arisen ranks, and the game becomes a grinder with Eldrazi Arisen just squeaking in for lethal!
WINNER: Eldrazi Arisen
Pumped Up vs Strike Force
What is the difference between four land and five? Miles if your hand includes two Burst Lightnings and two Torch Slingers. Molten Ravager, Raging Goblin, Welkin Tern, Goblin Piker, and Prodigal Pyromancer can only do so much against a Boros Swiftblade, Flametongue Kavu, Menacing Ogre, Cerodon Yearling, and the closer- a Bull Cerodon. On Pumped Up’s last turn came that critical fifth land drop, greenlighting the kickers (though three of them had been cast unkicked to buy time) as well as a Rite of Replication. Too little, too late.
An almost utter rout, Pumped Up is on the defensive all game long as Strike Force eats it for lunch. An early Boros Swiftblade becomes a brutal killer when Glory of Warfare hits the table. Razia, Boros Archangel explodes a Welkin Tern, but gets legend-ruled out with a Rite of Replication. That’s Pumped Up’s sole victory as Rorix Bladewing mops up what remains.
WINNER: Strike Force
We Are Legion vs Leveler’s Scorn
An early weenie rush on both sides, with We Are Legion assembling an impressive air force. The Razorfoot Griffin, Stormfront Pegasus, and Griffin Sentinel are relentless, and Scorn quickly finds itself at half life. For its own part, it builds up with a pair of Skywatcher Adepts, a Hada Spy Patrol, a Zombie Goliath and a Sea Gate Oracle. Leveling where it can (which isn’t much), things change when Venerated Teacher arrives, and Scorn swings across the table for 15, forcing trades aplenty. A Soul Warden finds its inner Righteousness to smite the Zombie Goliath, and having withstood the charge Legion regroups. An Armored Ascension on the Razorfoot and a Glorious Charge get it there. Leveler’s Scorn looks down mournfully at the Domestication and Unsummon in its hand.
Both sides start out mana screwed, with Legion a touch worse off, but soon they get legs beneath them and things take off. Skywatcher Adept and Hada Spy Patrol both emerge and are quickly set at Level1, but when the Venerated Teacher makes another appearance the Spy Patrol draws a Lightning Bolt in response. Still, their memory is honoured by the resulting Telepathy, opening up Legion’s hand, and it pays off: the singleton Negate finds a perfect target when Legion tries to unleash an Honor of the Pure. The Adept pounds in through the clouds, and when Legion’s last hope- a Razorfoot Griffin- is immediately brought low by a Last Kiss, it’s going to a final match.
We Are Legion is off to an explosive, early start churning out a Soul Warden, Griffin Sentinel, Stormfront Pegasus, and lastly a Serra Angel in short order. Taken down to low single-digit life and clinging on, Leveler’s Scorn has at least put the time to good use leveling an Echo Mage to L4. Triple Fleeting Distractions draw three cards and prevent three damage, while triple Last Kisses smoke the Serra (putting all six damage on the Serra to prevent a trick, which it draws anyway: a Harm’s Way to snipe a supporting actor on the Scorn side). Drawing into a Sphinx of Magosi, a few extra cards and a powerful evasive beater clear a path for a comeback.
WINNER: Leveler’s Scorn
Fangs of the Bloodchief vs. Rise of the Vampires
A fratricidal matchup of the season’s two Vampires decks, both sides as expected produce a surge of swarming bloodsuckers and associated villains. Rise works the lifelink angle with a pair of Child of Nights and a Vampire Nighthawk. Subjected to an Urge to Feed, Fangs falls behind early in the creature count. A triple-kicked Bloodhusk Ritualist to wipe out Rise’s hand isn’t enough to stage a comeback, and Fangs must suffer the indignity of taking lethal from an Acolyte of Xathrid.
Even after mulling down to six, it’s Fangs’s turn to rocket from the crypt with twin Child of Nights. Unlike last game, these stay for the duration, keeping Fangs at or above 20 life for most of the match. Rise’s Acolyte of Xathrid, Child of Night of its own, a Vampire Aristocrat and a Guul Draz Vampire aren’t quite enough as Rise overextends across the red zone and gets punished for it. A last-ditch defender- Zombie Goliath- is killed by Feast of Blood, with the subsequent Consume Spirit taking Rise out.
The brawl for it all, Rise bears witness to a bad omen early- it’s first two creatures are both the weak Acolyte of Xathrid. Both sides trade a Child of Night, but Rise manages to stick a Vampire Nighthawk, then clogs up the middle with a Guul Draz Vampire and a Mindless Null. The Acolytes sustain a slow drip-drip-drip of life loss, then the hammer drops when Rise gets off a Blood Tribute with Fangs at 13 life. By now Rise has managed to replace its inevitable casualties with a pair of Vampire Aristrocrats, and when Fangs trots out the Butcher of Malakir Rise sees an opening. It sends in both Aristocrats, and sacs its board for lethal through the one that slipped past.
WINNER: Rise of the Vampires
Eight lined up, and four died on the field. Join us next time when we round out the Tinsman Division and declare its champion, which will face the reigning Nagle Division winner Eyes of Shadow for the honour and glory of contending for the title!