2009-2010 Precon Championships: Turian Division (Part 1 of 2)
Welcome back, sports fans of all ages, to our continuing coverage of the 2009-10 Precon Championships! With the Rosewater Conference now up for grabs between Magic 2010’s Eyes of Shadow and Rise of the Eldrazi’s Eldrazi Arisen, we pause there to turn our attention to the spectacle of the Forsythe Conference and the eight teams that make up the Turian Division. Let’s begin with a look at the matchups:
The Teams to Beat
Packed with non-set decks, the Turian Division is something of a wild card! Duel Decks, Planechase, Premium Deck Series, Magic 2010, Worldwake and Zendikar are all represented here. Having seen Liliana fall, Garruk’s Deck is looking to make a better showing of itself. The inaugural Premium Deck Series release, Slivers, is flexing its sinews to see what its capable of on this crowded field, while as always lurking in the wings awaiting their moment to strike are the Phyrexians. Throw that in amongst regular-set decks, and carnage shall follow!
In alphabetical order, here are your Turian Division 2009-10 contenders.
Colours: Green, Black
Set: Magic 2010
Detail: A heavy Black deck with a touch of Green for the slightest splash of variety (Giant Growth, Naturalize, and an Enormous Baloth), Death’s Minions is not to be lightly dismissed. After the Duels of the Planeswalker decks’ solid performance in the Rosewater Conference, even a reasonably light-weight set like Magic 2010 could be more than capable of delivering a few surprises. It will need to be in peak form to take down the mono-Green beatstick that is Garruk’s deck in the first round. (review: not available)
Colours: White, Blue
Detail: Your somewhat conventional Blue/White skies deck, this construction looks to clog up the ground with defensive-minded cards like Guardian Zendikon and Gomazoa. It’s rather wonky removal suite might get it in some trouble if it can’t hold back its opponent’s ground forces, so watch out! (review: not available)
Set: Duel Decks- Garruk vs Liliana
Detail: What would the contest be without Big Dumb Beats(tm) from the master himself- Garruk! Only one of two decks on the field have Planeswalkers in them, which can be a huge advantage if one lands. Combine that with the slight advantage in rare cards (four), and Garruk is a force to be reckoned with. Still, he’ll not want to get too cocky- his counterpart Liliana’s deck was a first-round out! (review: not available)
Colours: White, Blue, Black, Red, Green
Detail: If the contest could be won on the back of Rare power alone, the Planechase decks would have had this stitched up already. Packing in a whopping eight, it still needs a solid foundation and consistent gameplay to advance. Once again, take nothing for granted- Zombie Empire was handed a first-round loss (by a Duels of the Planeswalkers deck, no less), and Strike Force was upset by a Rise of the Eldrazi offering. Still, Metallic Dreams was one of our better-reviewed decks, and even took part in the Ertai’s Trickery series. (review: deck, play)
Set: Duel Decks- Phyrexia vs The Coalition
Detail: Only six rares for this Duel Deck, but still well ahead of most of the field. In our review, we pointed out that the deck design seemed to have some artificial ‘brakes’ in place to keep it from overwhelming The Coalition with pure Suicide-Black aggro game after game. Will it still have the speed and power to win, or will it fall to Zendikar’s Unstable Terrain? (review: deck, play)
Colours: Blue, Black
Set: Magic 2010
Detail: Following in the mould of the other Magic 2010 decks (heavily one colour, splash of a second), Presence of Mind has a bit of a utilitarian approach moreso than a theme. Some fat bodies in the air alongside some other mediocre beaters, a bit of counter, a bit of removal… it seems to want to have a little bit of everything. With a first-round draw against Flyover, it will be a battle of the skies! (review: not available)
Colours: White, Blue, Black, Red, Green
Set: Premium Deck Series
Detail: The Turian Division’s other five-colour deck, Slivers will prove to be only as good as its mana. Equally capable of frightening speed and languid torpor, it’s opening matchup will be one to watch. Both decks draw off of all five colours. Metallic Dreams, being artifact-heavy, is less vulnerable to a drought locking it out of a colour, but on the other hand it is packed with expensive cards whereas most of Slivers can hit the board quickly. Don’t miss it! (review: deck, play)
Colours: Blue, Green
Detail: One of the few Zendikar intro decks that somewhat succeeded at conveying the flavour of the set, Unstable Terrain harnesses the Landfall mechanic to make its creatures even nastier! Although it suffers from the pairing of the two most removal-light colours in the game, will it have enough in the tank to power past its enemies? (review: deck, play)
And now, to the arena!
Presence of Mind vs Flyover
A bad break for Flyover, mulling down to 5 cards in hand- the turn 3 Mind Rot adds injury to injury. The Blue/White Worldwake deck barely gets out more than a Stormfront Pegasus, while Presence of Mind litters the field with a Coral Merfolk, Snapping Drake, and a Clone (of the Snapping Drake). Flyover tries to land a Surrakar Banisher, but it draws a Cancel. Worse, Presence then reanimates it with Rise from the Grave and turns it against its former master. A Sleep opens the gates, and Presence doesn’t miss the opportunity.
Another early scare as Flyover mulls down to 6, bit it manages a decent turnaround with a Silvercoat Lion, Apex Hawks, and an Enclave Elite. A stream of attacks gets Presence of Mind down to 6 life, but Presence has curved out in dramatic fashion. A turn 3 Snapping Drake, turn 5 Djinn of Wishes, a turn 6 Clone (of the Djinn), and a turn 7 Sleep spell doom for the hapless Flyover.
Winner: Presence of Mind
Unstable Terrain vs Phyrexia’s Deck
Phyrexia gets in position early with a turn 1 Voltaic Key and turn 3 Phyrexian Negator. Unfortuately for Magic’s villains of the hour, the Zendikar deck is disinclined to just roll over, playing a Gomazoa and Living Tsunami. The Phyrexian resources run deep, though, and a Bone Shredder and a Tendrils of Corruption clear the way through. Late chumpies Sage Owl and Merfolk Wayfinder can’t compete with a Phyrexian Processor and Puppet Strings, and the first game’s in the bag.
Phyrexia comes out of the draw looking good, but stalls on two land. Discard after discard hits its graveyard, but all it manages is a Phyrexian Arena (after its final Swamp) before being buried by a Windrider Eel, Turntimber Basilisk, Roil Elemental, Frontier Guide, and Living Tsunami. Seem excessive? That’s what happens when you drop down a pair of Ior Ruin Expeditions and then hit a Harrow.
Eager to atone for its failing, Phyrexia keeps a mana-heavy hand with a Puppet Strings, Dark Ritual, and Living Death- drawing into a Priest of Gix and Order of Yawgmoth. Rocked back on its heels, Unstable Terrain manages a Windrider Eel and Sage Owl, but comes off the rails when a Phyrexian Colossus touches down. With only two critters in play, and with the Order’s Fear ability, Terrain is delivered a coup-de-grace in one swing.
Winner: Phyrexia’s Deck
Death’s Minions vs Garruk’s Deck
An uncharacteristic lack of creatures costs Garruk, but their quality keeps him in the game: two Blastoderms, a Wild Mongrel (with Elephant Guide), aided by a pair of Serrated Arrows. Drudge Skeletons and a Wall of Bone manage to keep the attackers at bay for a time until the Arrows hit, but just as things look grim for Minions both the Nightmare and Cemetery Reaper make their appearance. Able to outlast the Blastoderms, whose fading put them on a short timer, death comes on fiery hooves to clinch the opener.
Garruk established early pressure for the second match that never let up. A sign of Death’s Minion’s desperation: using Diabolic Tutor to fetch a Wall of Bone just to buy time. A Blastoderm and a Wild Mongrel (enchanted this time with Rancor) get in some early beats, and a Drudge Skeletons is knocked aside once again with Serrated Arrows. The Mongrel gets hit with a Doom Blade to fizzle an attempted Elephant Guide, but a Plated Slagwurm with Rancor is unstoppable. It’s going to a third!
The hand is still unkind to Garruk, who mulls down to 6. A Wild Mongrel slips the leash early, follwed by a Basking Rootwalla and a Wirewood Savage. Death’s Minions hit their stalling stride with a Wall of Bone followed by a Looming Shade and a Bog Wraith. Garruk lands his trusty Serrated Arrows once again, and the Shade is quickly dispatched. A timely Mind Rot rips a Ravenous Baloth and Windstorm out of Garruk’s hand, and Minions begins to claw back with a Zombie Goliath and Cemetery Reaper. Down to 6 life, Garruk finds the will to struggle with a Genju of the Cedars, Treetop Village, a Vine Trellis, and a Lignify (on the hapless Reaper). The red zone is congested and seems to be going Garruk’s way when Garruk himself shows up to oversee the end. Although he doesn’t know it, it’s a race between building up to his Overrun ability and Death’s Minions getting two more Swamps. The turn before the Overrun, Minions gets its land and has exactly enough for a 6-point Consume Spirit. Another fight to the finish, and an astonishing upset!
Winner: Death’s Minions
Metallic Dreams vs The Slivers
Plenty of land drops, so little mana- the Slivers have an abundance of mana, but not the colours it needs. Thus it’s early contribution is a solitary Winged Sliver, gliding alone against a tide of of Myr (Copper, Lodestone, and Iron) led by a Master of Etherium. The hive is overwhelmed before it can even get established.
Another spot of bad luck for the Slivers, this time making do with a Metallic Sliver while Dreams pours out an Arcbound Slith and Master of Etherium. Myr Enforcer, Qumulox, and Lodestone Myr follow quickly after, and while The Slivers manages a Virulent Sliver and Brood Sliver, they’re too far behind. This one was never a contest.
Winner: Metallic Dreams
And then there were four! Alas for Garruk’s Deck, Flyover, The Slivers, and Unstable Terrain, they died an inglorious death on the opening round. Still, that leaves four decks that did advance today, and when next you join us they’ll be battling it out until only one remains. Who will it be? Find out then!