2009-10 Precon Championships: Lauer Division (Part 1 of 2)
There’s a buzz in the air today as we begin our coverage of the 2009-10 Precon Championships: Lauer Division! With three divisions already decided, we’re down to the last one- the Lauer Division. As we work towards our ‘Final Four,’ we have just a few more rounds of grueling competition to get through to determine who will carry the banner as the Lauer Division’s champion, looking to take on Presence of Mind for the right to represent the Forsythe Conference in the finals!
We’ll begin today with a look at the matchups:
The Teams to Beat
The Lauer Division is perhaps a bit narrower than others, with a single Planechase deck (Elemental Thunder) standing out from the pack of M10, Worldwake, and Rise of the Eldrazi contenders. It’s a relatively even playing field here, and anything can happen!
Colours: Red, Green
Detail: Aside from a confidence boost the deck received from our calling it “Elemental Mastery” on the bracket graphic (whoops! but hey, Wizards made the same error on their Product Info page, so we’re in good company), it still looks like a solid contender on its own merits. It’s going to take some focus, though, to shrug off the Planechase jinx, as no other deck in the set has advanced to take its division despite having a large number of rares and powerful themes. (review: not available)
Colours: Red, Blue
Set: Magic 2010
Detail: A nearly mono-Red deck with a splash of Blue (for Negate, Sleep, and Divination), Firebomber looks to follow in the footsteps of its set-mate Presence of Mind, score a few upsets and claim the division! To do so, it’s going to need to fire on all cylinders to take out Invading Spawn from Rise of the Eldrazi in the first round. (review: not available)
Colours: Red, Black
Set: Rise of the Eldrazi
Detail: One of the likely frontrunners of the division with its removal package, Invading Spawn was one of the better-reviewed decks of the set. Lauded for fun gameplay and good synergy, it nevertheless was held back by a rather pricey mana curve, which means a fast deck might well blow it out. Will Firebomber be up to the task? (review: deck, play)
Detail: Less well-reviewed due to its sore deficiency in the area of removal, Kor Armory still has the natural advantages of a mono-coloured weenie/swarm deck, which is less susceptibility to mana problems and more reliable early plays. It might just be enough to steal a few from the more colour-dependant decks and put it in good place for contention! (review: deck, play)
Colours: White, Blue
Set: Rise of the Eldrazi
Detail: Much like the above Kor deck, Glory was downgraded significantly for a lack of answers to its creature problems. Although a first-turn Student of Warfare supported by two consecutive Plains drops can virtually steal games on its own, there are some concerns with the rest of the card pool here. Look for it to have the same feast/famine style of inconsistent winning when it manages to go off! (review: deck, play)
Colours: Green, Blue
Detail: Using and abusing the Landfall mechanic to great advantage, Realms is a delight to play in Simic colours that don’t always work well together. An as-yet untested commodity (Worldwake has not yet been reviewed), it faces Leveler’s Glory in its opening test. Will the land fall its way? (review: unavailable)
Colours: White, Green
Set: Magic 2010
Detail: A beaters-and-combat-tricks style approach could do well in this very straightforward field, where few decks have an edge in raw power or subtle trickery. Up against Worldwake’s Rapid Fire in its opening match, will Fire find its removal or will Fury run roughshod over it? (review: not available)
Colours: Red, White
Detail: This Boros-flavoured swarm deck has some nasty tricks up its sleeve, including the board-sweeping Chain Reaction. Although like the rest of its Worldwake ilk it has yet to be reviewed, we certainly think this is one deck to watch! (review: not available)
And now, on with the battles!
Kor Armory vs Elemental Thunder
No contest here, Thunder gets out a pair of Flamekin Harbingers early followed by a Rockslide Elemental, but is given neither time nor space to capitalise. The Kor lash out with a pair of Kor Aeronauts– one of them equipped with a Trusty Machete– and slice through the sky for a quick win.
Thunder looks to reverse its misfortunes, playing an early Flamekin Harbinger (fetching a Forgotten Ancient), Fires of Yavimaya, Silverglade Elemental, and a Mask of Memory. The Kor are off to a slower start, but the brutal Aeronaut/Machete combo is murder to a deck that can’t find an answer. Vulnerable on the ground, the Kor firm up their defenses with a timely Conqueror’s Pledge, which sets up the kill with a topdecked Windborne Charge.
WINNER: Kor Armory
Nature’s Fury vs Rapid Fire
Efficient use of resources is the name of the game for both sides in this struggle. Fury mulls to 6 and keeps a 1-lander with some Llanowar Elves, then plays a turn 2 Elvish Visionary which nabs a Forest allowing a second Llanowar Elves. Land draws continue until the Kalonian Behemoth hits the table after a Borderland Ranger sets it up. For its part, Rapid Fire plays a turn 2 Kor Skyfisher followed by a turn 4 Cosi’s Ravager. Drawing into a glut of land is somewhat alleviated by the Ravager as both are sent in on the attack. Two Searing Blazes smoke the Llanowar Elves (and, more importantly, damage the pilot). Once the Behemoth lands, the Ravager chump-blocks it but is saved with a Narrow Escape. The Skyfisher draws a Pacifism, but Rapid Fire gets there after swinging for 2, playing a land (pinging via the Ravager), then doing the final point of damage the next round with another land drop.
Rapid Fire gets a lot of mileage out of Ruin Ghost shenanigans, boosting an early Kor Skyfisher with Teetering Peaks. The ‘Fisher is gifted with an Armored Ascension for increased damage output, but soon draws a Pacifism for its troubles. A Kor Firewalker and Dragon Whelp still manage to keep the pressure on. Fury gets an early Llanowar Elves and a Borderland Ranger, giving it some ramp. An Elvish Visionary benefits from an Oakenform, but it gets traded out for a Steppe Lynx with a surprise boost from the Ruin Ghost-flickered Peaks. An Enormous Baloth looms large, but it’s not enough to counter Fire’s reach in the air and a final, lethal Searing Blaze.
WINNER: Rapid Fire
Invading Spawn vs Firebomber
Spawn gets an early Bloodthrone Vampire, which becomes the leading threat for all of the match. It’s joined by an Emrakul’s Hatcher, Dragon Whelp, and Essence Feed, keeping Firebomber on the defensive all game long. Firebomber holds some ground with a Goblin Piker, Lightning Elemental, and Dragon Whelp of its own, but the Eldrazi Spawn-powered Vampire is unstoppable. A defensively-played Sleep isn’t enough to find answers, and Firebomber soon finds itself overrun.
Firebomber gave it everything it had, but in the end just couldn’t get the job done. With an early Goblin Artillery and Berserkers of Blood Ridge along with a hand of burn, things look good early on. Spawn starts to thicken things up, though, with a Rapacious One and Magmaw, along with Bloodthrone Vampire, Gloomhunter, and Lavafume Invoker. Firebomber has to dig deep into its bag of tricks just to stabilise: Pyroclasm + Goblin Artillery to kill Magmaw + 2-point Fireball to claim Rapacious One too, after Magmaw feasts on Eldrazi Spawn to snipe the Berserkers. Unable to draw a second Island to bring Sleep on-line, Firebomber eventually falls to the Hand of Emrakul.
WINNER: Invading Spawn
Mysterious Realms vs Leveler’s Glory
Solid land pulls throughout the game means that Realms stays solidly on-curve, with an early Merfolk Wayfinder to Calcite Snapper to turn 7 Goliath Sphinx. Glory has little to match, fielding a Makindi Griffin and Glory Seeker, and has few tricks in hand to save itself. Even a Luminous Wake on the Sphinx only slows down the beating. Realms keeps the momentum going with card draw in the form of Mysteries of the Deep and Treasure Hunt, and the two Paralyzing Grasps it comes up with are icing on the cake.
A bit of overeagerness hurts Realms here. Glory gets out a turn 1 Student of Warfare and levels it to Level 7. Although a turn 2 River Boa keeps it in check, a turn 5 Vapor Snare to steal the Student outright looks good- at first. It stunts development, though, and Realms just never gets legs. Meanwhile, Glory builds up a weenie army which bashes in hard once Sleep clears their path.
Sleep steals another one. It’s an early race, with a turn 1 Student of Warfare against two Wind Zendikons by turn 2. Realms throws chumps in the way of the Student (Coral Merfolk, Walking Atlas) to buy time, but Glory ups the ante with a Luminous Wake on the Student. Realms Treasure Hunts a Paralyzing Grasp for the Student, and begins building itself an army- Goliath Sphinx, Living Tsunami, Baloth Woodcrasher… but a well-timed Sleep lets Glory’s small beaters (Hedron-Field Purists, Lone Missionary, Glory Seeker, Affa Guard Hound) swing for the win.
WINNER: Leveler’s Glory
And there you have it! Eight entered the pit, and four were carried off in stretchers. Magic 2010 and Planechase surely must be disappointed with the results, but Zendikar block will be feeling quite proud of itself indeed after all four decks that advanced were from the block. It’s a sad conclusion for Planechase, whose decks despite presenting a powerful and Rare-loaded appearance just couldn’t manage to find its place. It got within a sniff of glory on the back of Metallic Dreams, but will go down in the history books as an also-ran.
Thanks for joining us today. Next up will be the conclusion of the Lauer Division, and from there we move to determine a Champion!