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January 7, 2011


Worldwake: Mysterious Realms Review (Part 2 of 2)

by Dredd77

Everyone generally has a preferred archetype, either a colour scheme or deck strategy that they simply love to play. For Jimi, that’s increasingly been Boros, and when she found out that she had the potential to pilot one in a playtest she leapt at the chance. It would be an interesting matchup, pitting the aggressive Rapid Fire against the more methodical Mysterious Realms, but would make for a good contrast of styles. Bolstered by a custom tea blend from the local Irish shoppe we’d received for Christmas (the tea, that is, not the shoppe… alas), we took our customary places for a trio of matches, and here are our notes.

Game One

With me on the play, we both use our first turn to drop land before summoning a creature the very next turn. I suppose it might be regarded as something of an omen- Jimi has a Fledgling Griffin, whereas I can only manage a Coral Merfolk, but things look to improve when a Tideforce Elemental joins the fray on turn 3. I’ve swung in with the Merfolk, taking Jimi to 18, so I’ve managed about all I can before passing. For her part, Jimi plays a Pilgrim’s Eye (fetching a Plains), then swings back with her Griffin.

Now turn 4, and I’m got a slight edge. I send the Merfolk back in for 2, then tap down Jimi’s Griffin with the Elemental to prevent retaliation. Silly me, I timed it poorly, though- she drops down a Teetering Peaks and suddenly that Eye is in for 3. Next turn, I deliberate tapping out and taking the extra damage from Jimi’s critter after swinging for 2 more with the stalwart Merfolk. Deciding that options now is a little more vital than life later, I do it, and cast Mysteries of the Deep. Though I won’t have the mana to pay for the Elemental’s lockdown, I should still get something worth playing.

Alas, I draw into three more land. Jimi goes for the aggressive play, using Act of Treason on my Elemental to get in a couple more points of damage as she swings with the team. I’m now down to 10 life.

Now on turn 6, I need some answers. I neuter the Griffin with a Paralyzing Grasp, then after attacking for 2 I play Telepathy. Jimi’s got a few threats, including a Cosi’s Ravager and Armored Ascension, but nothing terribly panic-inducing. The Ravager comes down once it’s over to Jimi, and she passes.

I have another “if it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have any” moment on turn 7, when I Treasure Hunt into another Treasure Hunt, but at least I pick up a land along the way. I go ahead and cast the second one, and that at least nets me a Baloth Woodcrasher. However, that’s not worth much at this point as Jimi’s holding a Magma Rift in hand. I’ll have to see if some trickery pops up, like a Walking Atlas with a land in hand. Back to Jimi, she diversifies her threats (the best way to play around lockdown effects) by placing the Ascension on her Ravager. She still gets in for 1 from the Pilgrim’s Eye, and I’m at 9 with her at 14.

A lucky break sees me with another Paralyzing Grasp, however, and I nullify the enchanted Ravager. I follow that up with a Merfolk Wayfinder, who whiffs on any free Islands. Jimi smirks and plays a Prodigal Pyromancer, and I could swear I hear my Tideforce Elemental emit a Kif-like sigh.

It’s now turn 9, and a Halimar Depths reveals that no hope is in sight- a Seer’s Sundial and two more land. Passing turn, Jimi pings my Elemental as expected (I tap her Pilgrim’s Eye in response for one last hurrah), then plays another Pilgrim’s Eye. A lucky break here, though, as Jimi only now realises she’s missed three Cosi’s Ravager landfall triggers, and curses her forgetfulness. It doesn’t look like it would matter much.

Next turn, I play that Seer’s Sundial, then play a land from hand and use the Sundial to net another card (a land, of course). Jimi’s offense steadily bears down, and when she hits the Mordant Dragon, it’s all she needs.

Game Two

Glory of glories, I manage to start out with a turn 1 Telepathy, which shows Jimi to be holding a Kor Skyfisher, Ruin Ghost, and some burn. Good news is, no Mountains. She draws into on on turn 2, and uses it to cast her Skyfisher, the first critter of the game. I play a Merfolk Wayfinder on turn 3 (netting an Island this time), while Jimi hits a second Mountain (bringing both her Searing Blazes on-line). She sends in the Skyfisher for 2, then follows up with the Ruin Ghost.

My turn 4 contribution to the war effort is a Calcite Snapper, after sending in the Wayfinder to nick Jimi for 1. Jimi draws a Narrow Escape, then attacks back for 2. It’s now a 19-16 game. Things open up next turn, though, when I play an Island and send in my “Convertible Turtle” with the Elemental. Jimi accepts the Snapper-Ghost trade, and the Elemental gets through. A next-turn Teetering Peaks pumps up the Skyfisher, who smashes in for 4.

After attacking for 3, I open things up with a Baloth Woodcrasher next turn, which I’m using as bait to draw the Magma Rift I see in Jimi’s hand. As expected, she bits on it, killing the Woodcrasher then attacking for 2. Back to me, I counterattack for 3 more (it’s now close, 12-10), then bringing out my bomb- the Goliath Sphinx. Teasing away the Rift means that she can’t even block-n-burn it away, and it’s put her on a fairly rapid clock. Over to Jimi, she sees my next play forming and Searing Blazes the Tideforce Elemental before it can lock down her only blocker.

I go aggro on turn 8, enchanting a land with a Wind Zendikon and swinging with the team. Jimi makes the correct play, blocking the Sphinx with her Skyfisher before using that Narrow Escape to save it. She actually ends the combat round one point up on life, but it’s not to last. Jimi never finds an answer for the Goliath, and it quickly crushes her.

Game Three

It’s hard to imagine a game where this deck plays out any better than this one. Jimi’s stalled- her first play of the game turns out to be a turn-4 Prodigal Pyromancer. By then, though, I’ve managed a turn-2 Walking Atlas and turn-3 Calcite Snapper. With the ramp the Atlas has provided (my opening hand held the Atlas and 4 land), I’m able to Vapor Snare the Pyromancer before it can kill my Atlas. This is a calculated risk- there are plenty of better targets for my only steal, but my hand is shaping up to be extraordinary and I don’t want to miss my chance to actualise it. By the end of turn 4, thanks to my turtle it’s a 15-20 game.

Jimi plays another critter- the Cosi’s Ravager- on turn 5, delaying playing her land until after to get the landfall trigger off. I play a second Calcite Snapper and Frontier Guide, opting to hold off on attacking. Jimi’s next turn is a blank, while I play a Tideforce Elemental. With the guaranteed landfall trigger each turn (thanks to the Vapor Snare), I’ll be tapping down two of her defenders while my turtles go big. My Walking Atlas insures that any extra land I draw can be played and my board state developed (rather than stagnated, as Vapor Snare land-returns tend to do). For that briefest of moments, I lived the Mysterious Realms dream, and the deck felt like some of the more intricate offerings of old (see: Comeback) rather than the more pedestrian Zendikar-block precons. What could go wrong?

Jimi’s turn 7 Chain Reaction, for one.

Seven points of damage to every critter easily wiped the board, and I didn’t have much left in the tank. A Seer’s Sundial was a bit underwhelming, but I’d hoped I could draw into something- all I had left was a Paralyzing Grasp. Next turn, Jimi gets out the threat with a Dragon Whelp, which draws my Grasp in an attempt to stall the board. I play a topdecked Halimar Depths, hoping to find something solid to snare with the Sundial, but all I see is a Telepathy, an Island, and a Baloth Woodcrasher (and me with only one Forest in play). I pay two and snare a souvenir anyway.

Now turn 9, Jimi salvages the Whelp with a Narrow Escape, the plays a Pilgrim’s Eye (fetching a Plains). I play the Telepathy and the Island, paying two to draw that useless Woodcrasher. Jimi takes over the board when she Armored Ascensions her Pilgrim’s Eye and swings with the team for 11. I stall a couple more turns (Wind Zendikon, Aether Tradewinds), but my demise is a foregone conclusion.

Thoughts & Analysis

If it wasn’t for that fateful game three, I’d probably be a little more dismissive of this deck than I am, but it certainly showed its potential there. Unfortunately, there’s just not enough in the deck that seems to optimise it. Far too often I’d be stuck with little worth playing in my hand. The Seer’s Sundial- while fun- simply didn’t do anything when it hit the table for four mana, and despite the insider information Telepathy revealed that allowed me to fearlessly deploy my Goliath Sphinx in game two, it too solved exactly zero problems.

In my deck anaysis I had thought that there were some slight improvements here made over the Zendikar version (Unstable Terrain), but now I’m not so certain they’re enough to make up for the deck’s shortcomings. There seems to be a vast gulf between the tail-end beaters (Sphinx, Woodcrasher) and almost all the other creatures. A Merfolk Wayfinder is nice when you score extra land with it, but even if you ‘live the dream’ you’re still paying three mana for a 1/2 creature. All in all, the deck needs you to get to the 6-7 mana level to field credible threats, but asks you to get there with some fairly mediocre options.

The card drawing and even the removal worked well enough, but it is the lack of solid bodies that does this deck in. It feels like it should work better than it actually does.

Hits: Good card drawing; reasonable removal suite; some light synergies to be found amongst the land return/landfall options

Misses: Vast gulf in creature quality leaves you exposed in the early-to-midgame; lack of consistent threats until the top-end beaters

FINAL GRADE: 3.75/5.00

Read more from Worldwake, Zendikar Block

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