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March 2, 2011


Mirrodin Besieged: Into the Breach Review (Part 2 of 2)

by Dredd77

Eager to tear into the brand-shiny-new Event Decks released for Mirrodin Besieged, Jimi and I broke them open, sleeved them up, and laid out the playmats- time for battle! We had one guideline we established straightaway, and that was that we would not be sideboarding between matches. As preconstructed decks don’t ordinarily include them, and they’re more a fixture of Constructed strategy, we wanted to battle the two decks against one another as we would with any precon- stock right out of the box.

Here are the notes from the confrontation. Warning: it ain’t pretty.

Game One

Knowing the speed of Into the Breach, Jimi doesn’t hang on to her Preordain, but rather casts it right after her opening Island to try and set herself up for success. Passing to me, I drop a Mountain and a Memnite. Next turn she bolsters her mana base with a Drowned Catacombs, and I swing in for 1 with the Memnite. Things probably look manageable enough to her until I then deploy a Goblin Wardriver and a pair of Ornithopters before passing.

Jimi’s turn 3 is a blank, though she manages to add a Swamp to her board. Over to me, she wisely Doom Blades the Wardriver before my attack phase, meaning I have to settle for 1 with the Memnite. At three land, I then play a replacement Goblin Wardriver and then scoop up all my land to a Devastating Summons, putting a pair of 3/3 Elemental tokens into play. Next turn, Jimi drops a desperation Corpse Cur to try and buy her some time, but it doesn’t do much. I swing in with the team for 14 after playing a Mountain, which is reduced to 12 when Jimi trades out the Cur for the Wardriver. I play a Memnite and pass.

Now turn 5, Jimi is desperate to stall the board and gets off a Corrupted Conscience, stealing one of my 3/3 tokens. Back to me, I swing all in for 5, forcing Jimi to trade out 3/3 Elemental tokens. The Memnites hit for 2, taking her down to 4. I then Devastating Summons a second time, sacrificing my only Mountain to put lethal power on the board. Unwilling to go down without a proper fight, Jimi then unleashes a Consuming Vapors, and although giving her 2 life by sacrificing an Ornithopter hurts, it’s the correct play. Back to me, I swing for 4 with my weenie army, taking Jimi to 2.

Next upkeep, the Vapors hits again, and I offer up the other Ornithopter. She’s back to 4 life, and follows this up with a Phyrexian Vatmother. It’s not enough. She kills a Memnite when I send the four 1/1’s back in the next turn, but there’s still lethal on the board. When she doesn’t draw another body, she scoops.

Game Two

Jimi opens up with an Island, while I get out a Signal Pest, Memnite, and an Ornithopter. Her next turn is a blank save for a Swamp, but right before my attack she Smothers the Pest, taking the teeth out of any attack. I still send in the Memnite for 1, then play a Panic Spellbomb. I then offer the Spellbomb up to Kuldotha Rebirth, trading it for a trio of 1/1 Goblin tokens, then pass back.

Jimi’s turn three is a complete blank, and she’s missed her land drop. That’s another thing about speed- it’s absolutely unforgiving against players who get mana screwed, hosed, or flooded. Falter in your early plays, and you’re quite likely to pay for it. She plays a Plague Myr at least, then passes. Back to me, I swing in for 4 with my 1/1’s, then tap out for a Goblin Wardriver and Spikeshot Elder to empty my hand. Things are looking very bleak indeed for Infect & Defile.

Jimi’s turn 4 is another blank, but she again manages to pick off my battle cry critter with a Doom Blade before my attack. I have three mana open, so I trigger the Elder’s activated ping to snipe off her Plague Myr, then send in the troops for 5. Jimi’s down to 10. Her next turn is another blank, she draws then passes. I attempt a Goblin Guide (Mana Leaked), then cut her in half with another swing from my army. I then drop a Mountain from hand, again playing empty-handed but wanting to have three mana up for the Elder’s ping if needed. Turns out it’s not- Jimi draws and concedes. “You’ve never once had a poison counter,” she laments, “never once.”

Game Three

Again on the play, Jimi opens with an Island and ruefully passes. I play a Mountain, followed by a Signal Pest and an Ornithopter. This time, though, Jimi has some early action to offer. Her turn-2 Contagion Clasp picks off my Pest, so I have no profitable attack. Instead, I just play a Goblin Wardriver and pass back.

Now turn 3 and another surprise from Jimi, this time a Necropede. I send in the troops anyway, and she opts to kill off the Wardriver with the ‘Pede. She obviously gave some thought to putting the ‘Pede’s farewell counter on the Ornithopter and then proliferating them both to death with the Clasp, but perhaps the mana just wasn’t there for her, or she had better options. I turn up the heat with another Goblin Wardriver followed by an all-in Devastating Summons, adding a pair of 3/3’s. The look on Jimi’s face tells me I just narrowly avoided countermagic, as she’d tapped two of her three lands for the ‘Pede.

Next turn, Jimi recurs the Necropede with a Corpse Cur. I Bolt the Cur and swing with the army for 11. Down to 8 life, Jimi recasts the Necropede on turn 5, which buys her exactly one turn. I swnd in the shock troops again for 11, she blocks one of the Elemental tokens with it and throws the counter on the hated Wardriver. Playing an Ornithopter and a Panic Spellbomb, I pass. She draws, she scoops.

Thoughts & Analysis

Okay, first things first. To be fair, I am a fairly experienced RDW player, so Into the Breach was a very comfortable deck for me to play, including the Devastating Summons that aren’t always pleasant for the unaccustomed. Jimi’s Infect & Defile aggro-control was a new experience for her, as it will be for me when I take its helm for the next column. These factors might in part explain the scoreboard (which, if you count our warmup friendly, meant four games without me taking a poison counter).

The next caveat- those also familiar with the momentum swings of all-out aggro will be able to see a few cracks in the foundation in these write-ups, where I was actually not all that far from losing (perhaps not the game, but certainly my shutout). In Game One, for instance, Jimi started her Corrupted Conscience – Consuming Vapors – Phyrexian Vatmother sequence perhaps a turn too late, but there was a definite possibility of a pendulum swing there.

Now, all that having been said, Into the Breach can be a monster. It is capable of lightning-fast starts, with a solid burst of sustained momentum for another three turns or so (where it will begin to wind down). If you’re facing a slow enough opponent, such as Infect & Defile, you can absolutely have a field day. In that regard, Wizards has succeeded quite well with the aim of this product- to provide a competitive deck experience right out of the box. Of course, the difference between how I view it and Wizards views it is that they feel it’s competitive on a grander stage than I do. It’s a perfect starter pack, but make no mistake, a starter pack it most certainly is. It’s fast, but capable of going even faster (beginning, for one example, with a couple more Goblin Guides).

I’ll refrain from passing judgment on Infect & Defile until I’ve had achance to play it, but Into the Breach is a solid success. The question for us then becomes, how do we rate it? It’s a precon deck, but in some ways is quite a bit more than that. The usual “intro pack strategies” like vanilla cards, core set cards, and deliberately bad cards don’t apply here. Instead, we get four-ofs of critical cards, and a very tightly-constructed deck formula. We can say now that Into the Breach sets the bar very high, and we’ll look forward to seeing what Wizards is able to deliver in subsequent sets.

Hits: Very coherent strategy with cards selected that ruthlessly adhere to it; great value for money; nicely packaged; solid burn and incredible creature focus

Misses: Falls a measure short of the promise they offer on the back of the box, of being a “tournament”-level deck. Although this is either a case of overpromise/underdeliver, or the designers are simply underestimating the strength of competitive play, to be fair expecting a playset of Mox Opals is unrealistic at this price point.

OVERALL GRADE: 4.85/5.00

20 Comments Post a comment
  1. Steven T
    Mar 2 2011

    I’ve been playing this deck for a few days and was monumentally blown away by how fast it. The Devastating Summon was weird to get used to due to the sacrificing of lands, but once I truely saw the benefits… ‘Nuff said really. Looking forward to the Infect & Defile review part 2.

  2. Jordan
    Mar 2 2011

    I bought Into the Breach for myself, and Infect and Defile for my cousin. I took the internet’s advice and grabbed a second Into the Breach to max out on the Guides and Bushwackers/Summons. Let’s just say I was completely dissapointed in how simple it was to faceroll my Cousin’s deck, with an even BETTER version of Into the Breach than you were playing, mind you, so the results were even sadder. So I opted to try tweaking his deck a bit, and after 10+ games of zero poison counters, he conceded. I proceeded to max out on the Vatmothers, toss in my playset of cloaks, throw in some Phyrexian Crusaders, pull his removal off the sideboard, and toss in a playset of Distortion Strikes. Needless to say, it evened the decks out. A Vatmother and one Distortion Strike is a 2 turn kill, mind you. So if he manages to hold me off with removal and the likes until turn 5, the game shifts in his favor. Just my two cents. When you meddle these, DEFINITELY think about throwing some Cloaks/Strikes in Infect and Defile, I know the Vatmothers/Crusaders are off limits, but The unblockable cards help a lot, also try to throw in some more creatures, and maybe knock back some Corrupted Consciences/Foresees.

  3. troacctid
    Mar 2 2011

    You should have played some sideboarded games. Infect & Defile would have had access to an additional five spot removal spells. The deck has a sideboard right out of the box, after all.

    • Mar 2 2011

      It wasn’t a lightly-made decision, but given the small sample size allotted to us we wanted to get a feel for the stock deck. It felt more in line with the rest of the site as well. Had we played a greater sample size, that would have been a logical progression, but the decks should stand up reasonably well on their own. Despite the “tournament-ready” label on the box, these are not top-flight constructed decks.

      Although my recently-acquired playset of Tezzes is screaming to me from their cardsleeves and it’s been too long since I’ve competitively resolved a Jace, I’ve instead decided to take an unmodified Into the Breach to battle on Game Day (I don’t hate myself enough to go with Infect & Defile). There will be a writeup to follow on Quiet Spec the following Thursday, and yes, sideboarding will definitely be part of the discussion. 😀

      • troacctid
        Mar 2 2011

        Are you not going to swap out Into the Core so you can be Mirran-affiliated, then?

        • Mar 3 2011

          Mea culpa, I overlooked that. Yeah, I’ll be swapping those two out.

  4. Icehawk
    Mar 2 2011

    After reading this, I kind of want this deck now.

    Did the deck come with tokens? I was annoyed EvT came with a ton of soldiers and no Pents.

    • Mar 2 2011

      Not a one, alas. Did they make Pentavite tokens?

      • Icehawk
        Mar 2 2011

        Ages ago in the token booster. Oh well.

  5. R
    Mar 2 2011

    I took the opportunity to run this deck against a copy of the deck that Gerry Thompson was using to win the StarCityGames open last weekend, and I have to say that pre-sideboard, this deck was holding its own. I wonder if you aren’t being a little too negative in your appraisal of the deck’s ability to be competitive at the serious FNM level (which is Wizards’ stated objective I believe), or even beyond. Obviously there’s room for improvement, but it can be plenty fast, and even a resolved JTMS can’t always withstand the onslaught.

    • Mar 3 2011

      I’ll certainly concede that my appraisal is based entirely upon my own experiences and meta, which means that other’s mileage may vary depending on what consistently shows up. In fairness, although I’m stern on the deck in my written assessment, it still scored extremely high in the ‘final score’ bit, so I’m overall quite taken with it.

      I’m heading to Game Day with it, so I’ll have a great chance to compare expectation with reality. Glad to hear it performed well for you!

  6. Brian P.
    Mar 6 2011

    If you use this deck against someone with Phyrexian Crusader, you’re soo screwed.

    • Oceanus
      Mar 7 2011

      Race it. You’ve got amazing speed. Overwhelm them, and don’t worry about it blocking. You can also use Panic Spellbomb or stave it off with a pumped Memnite. You’ve got the speed to overwhelm, so do it.

  7. steve schmidt
    Mar 7 2011

    k so u say this deck is not a “tournament” deck. well i never played magic before bought this deck learned the game in one hr before the tournament and i placed 10 out of 24. not bad for never playin and being the first tournament. now in all fairness i won 2 and lost 2 so i think it is a good deck for small tournaments but can def be twicked later.

  8. Fishy
    Aug 27 2011

    Not that it matters anymore, but consuming vapors is a sorcery. In game one, how was it played on your turn? Or have I misread this?

    • Aug 27 2011

      It’s correctly played, but the wording is a little ambiguous. “I then Devastating Summons a second time, sacrificing my only Mountain to put lethal power on the board. Unwilling to go down without a proper fight, Jimi then unleashes a Consuming Vapors, and although giving her 2 life by sacrificing an Ornithopter hurts, it’s the correct play. Back to me, I swing for 4 with my weenie army, taking Jimi to 2.”

      I cast the Summons, then it was over to Jimi for the Vapors, then “back to me” indicates it’s my turn once again. Thanks for the comment, though- it’s always important to us to make sure that our write ups read well and are not confusing!

      • Fishy
        Aug 30 2011

        So I did misread it…but thanks for clearing it up. Looking forward to your Ajani vs Bolas review.

  9. Paulo Fernandes Roberto
    Jun 8 2012

    Well, first of all, I boght this deck thinking that I would learn another way to play, since I played mostly slower decks. Let me say: this pack is a blast!!
    I loved it from the first match! Of course, I think that are some cards in the deck which would be ideal for swapping.
    For example, I took out the Iron Myr, the Spikeshot Elder and the two Galvanic Blasts and added two Goblin Bushwackers and two Searing Blazes from the sideboard. Actually, I think the sideboard as a test for meddling with the pack.
    Well, I really enjoyed this deck and after my changes, I thought it improved a little. But I’m still looking for some Goblin Guides! Yeah, two of those would make a reeeal diference!
    Anyway, thanks for the testings and reviews, Ertai! I always look at your impressions before buying my packs!!


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Mirrodin Besieged: Infect & Defile Review (Part 2 of 2) « Ertai's Lament
  2. 2010-11 Precon Championships: Turian Division (Part 1 of 2) « Ertai's Lament

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