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