Worldwake: Flyover Review (Part 2 of 2)
In our previous column (Flyover Part 1), we approached the review from a different angle, breaking through the ‘fifth wall’ and presenting a review as seen from the inside. It was enjoyably received, but alas there’s little we can do comparably for the playtest segment of our review. Here, most everything’s transparent from the start!
To test Flyover’s aerial goodness, I was joined by Jimi, who had selected Brute Force as her weapon of choice. Here are the notes from our review.
It takes three turns for the first critter to emerge onto the battlefield, my (on the draw) Apex Hawks. Initial analysis counseled against automatically succumbing to the temptation to hold onto “multikicker-builder’ creatures until you can kick them, so I opt to get an early 2/2 flyer instead.
Jimi has a similar idea, but she manages to kick the Skitter of Lizards once before sending it to attack for 2. Back to me, I bring out an unkicked Enclave Elite after equalising with the Hawks, which as before is matched by Jimi’s more-efficient multikicker critter options (in this case, a kicked-once Gnarlid Pack). Again I go in over top for 2. By the end of turn 5, we’re tied at 16.
Next turn, Jimi swings with the Pack and the Lizards. I use Veteran’s Reflexes on the Elite to pick off the Lizards. Jimi then taps out to cast Vastwood Zendikon on one of her Forests, and passes. After the obligatory air attack, I drop a Surrakar Banisher, opting to banish her Zendikon-Forest back to her hand (the aura goes to the graveyard). Now Jimi’s pack is alone, but still gets in for 3 to take me down to 10. She follows that up with a Greenweaver Druid. Over to me, it’s time to get aggressive and I swing with the team. Jimi kills the Banisher with a timely Giant Growth on the Druid, but the rest get through leaving us even 10. I send her Gnarlids on vacation with Iona’s Judgment and pass.
Struggling to keep pressure on, Jimi takes my Hawks for a ride with an Act of Treason, but it avails her little. I keep up the attacks, adding a once-kicked Apex Hawks to my forces. Next turn, I activate the Dread Statuary I played on turn 4 and swing for the win.
Jimi’s turn two Gnarlid Pack, which unkicked, gets her on the board, but as luck has it I’ve got an early match in the Silvercoat Lion. When Jimi swings in next turn with her Pack I suprise her by accepting the trade, and this seems to set her off-footed. She plays a Borderland Ranger and passes. Having had success in the previous game, I go ahead and trot out unkicked Apex Hawks, and end my turn.
After attacking with the Ranger, Jimi drops down a Leatherback Baloth on turn 4. For my part, my next turn is a blank- not even a land. In addition to being stuck on three land, I also have no Islands in play. It might well be a tight one. Next turn the Baloth comes in, but I’m able to buy some time by taking it out with Righteousness on my defending Hawks. Further unsettled, Jimi brings out Rumbling Aftershocks and passes. I swing for 2 of my own (tying us at 18-all), and pass.
Now turn 6, Jimi has no play other than to attack as well, and she does so for 2 with the Ranger. I retaliate with the Hawks, then add a Stormfront Pegasus. Next turn Jimi attacks again, but I catch a lucky break- a fourth Plains which sets up my Kor Cartographer. I’m still stuck on White, but at least I can start to cast some of my hand.
Jimi keeps the pressure on in turn 8 with the Ranger, but having done his duty I find the Cartogrpaher expendable and accept the trade. Having not yet missed a land drop, Jimi’s able to nail the turn-8 Terastodon and kick things into high gear. She opts to ditch both a Mountain and the Rumbling Aftershocks to bring a pair of 3/3’s on board as well. After swinging in for 4 in the air, I’m able to manage the Terastodon (Iona’s Judgment), but there’s still the matter of the 3/3 elephant tokens. I’m up on life, though, with Jimi at 8 and me at 14 and feeling some room to breathe.
Now it’s Jimi’s turn for a little surprise as she pulls ahead by attacking alongside my Act of Treasoned Apex Hawks, leaving me at 6. She plays the Greenweaver Druid and ends turn. I go all in in the air for another 4, then give myself some cushion with the Archon of Redemption taking me back up to 9. Jimi attacks with both elephants as well as the Druid, letting an elephant die to the Archon to use the Giant Growth against my life total instead. I’m left at 2 life, and the coup de grace comes in the form of a Deathforge Shaman.
Kicked, of course.
Using our first turns to drop lands and pass, I get out an early Silvercoat Lion on the play on turn 2. Jimi adds a Mountain to her Forest and passes. Next turn, it’s unkicked Apex Hawks again after swinging with the Lion for 2. Jimi shows a Borderland Ranger.
Now turn 4, I’ve got the momentum firmly in hand with an unkicked Voyager Drake after attacking for 4 more, taking Jimi to 16. She manages to trot out the beefy Leatherback Baloth, but has no other play. Swinging for 5 now, I’ve got the Archon of Redemption again and I play him, heading up to 23 life. Jimi comes in with the Baloth next round, but it’s her last play of the game. Sleep shuts her down, and my air force mops up.
Thoughts & Analysis
Much of this was broken down in the deck analysis (moreso than usual), but it’s worthwhile to revisit our initial assumptions now with the benefit of experience behind us.
> Weak in the early game, the deck is optimised for the long game, and should begin to ‘come alive’ midway through.
No surprises here, although I did ‘cheat the system’ a little bit by going for an earlier start than the deck might normally expect by declining to multikick my creatures. Still, no-one would ever confuse this with a weenie/swarm deck, and generally felt on-curve for beaters.
> Multikicker creatures offer flexibility and scaleability, but at the expense of efficiency. Don’t hold onto them for so long for the ‘ultimate payoff’ that by the time you play them, they’re already outclassed.
Too right. With the right draw, this deck is capable of some very strong starts (see Game Three in particular), and most decks (unless they’re skies decks themselves) will have some difficulty in dealing with your evasive creatures in the air. Even if they have the removal, they may be forced to use it sooner than they’d like if you establish an early presence. That said, the deck is also more than happy to let games run long. But the lesson is clear- don’t look at Apex Hawks as the beefy 4/4 flyer you’d like to have, but rather evaluate it based on your opponent and the board state. Unkicked creatures are not wasted, and indeed can often be the correct tactical play. Multikicker is an option, not an obligation.
> Removal is there, but limited. Try and use it to clear our aerial defenses to give your flyers room to work
Correct. Removal is very limited here, and highly unpredictable. Use with care.
This is true, but like the removal it can’t always be counted on. If you’re lucky, you’ll have the Lion early- generally you won’t be too excited to draw it later in the game. The Lion is probably best viewed as trade fodder or a damage soak.
> Your noncreature support is inconsistent. You can safely rely on getting some removal, though it’s impossible to say what form it will take. The rest of the noncreature support have wildly different effects. Plan with what you have, but play to your outs.
The only certainty you have with Flyover– if you can be said to have any certainty about anything in Magic- is that you will do most of your work in the red zone, and the bulk of that in the air. You can’t rely on noncreature options like Sleep, so it’s a difficult deck to anticipate for (or against, for that matter).
If you’re a fan of Multikicker and evasive creatures, Flyover will be your cup of tea. The deck came together well, although I didn’t find it the most riveting play experience I’ve had.
Hits: Good creature selection overall; Multikicker gives you flexibility between casting early/mid-game and late-game; deck’s overarching theme of aerial assault quite solidly supported
Misses: Removal suite is very spotty and inconsistent; Archon of Redemption a bit of a miss (though Marshal’s Anthem can be quite demoralising to an opponent); overall gameplay a bit dull
FINAL SCORE: 4.0/5.0