2008-09 Precon Championships: The Tinsman Division
Welcome back sports fans around the world and of all ages! We’re back with more exciting Precon Championships action today as we head on over to the other half of the Rosewater Conference, the Tinsman Division! You might recall that in the 2009-10 Precon Championships, the mighty Tinsman Division gave rise to the eventual Champion, Eldrazi Arisen. Will they be able to repeat that Magic here? Only time will tell, but one thing’s for certain: five decks will head into the arena today, and only one of them will be coming out. As we all know… Jace is waiting.
The Teams to Beat
The Tinsman Division has a few curiosities in it this season. For one, it is entirely comprised of decks from Shards of Alara and Conflux. For another, both Esper and Grixis field a pair of contenders here. The all-Esper bout is a given, and a Grixis-versus-Grixis match is a possibility if Bant can’t get it done in the first round.
In alphabetic order, here are your Tinsman Division contenders!
Set: Shards of Alara
Detail: Bant’s exalted mechanic simulates the prevalence of honourable single combat on Bant, giving a lone champion a slew of +1/+1 bonuses when they head into the red zone. It’s an aggressive mechanic, and it mixes in an aerial presence to make the most of evasion. It’s vulnerable to being chump-blocked, however, and many of its creatures tend towards the smaller sizes. (review: deck, play)
Detail: The second coming of the Esper deck, this deck continues the shard’s themes of artifacts and artifact creatures. It packs in a substantial air force as well as some artifact synergies and cards that play off of one another. A bit light on removal, it may find itself at the mercy of what its opponent is playing. (review: not available)
Set: Shards of Alara
Detail: The deck where Esper began, Esper Artifice might not have the versatility of drawing upon three sets for its cards like Esper Air Assault, but it has a far superior removal package including a pair of Oblivion Rings. This may well give it an edge over its rival in the fratricidal first match. (review: deck, play)
Detail: Packed with a relatively solid removal suite and the unearth mechanic, Shambling Army is happy to see creatures headed for the graveyard- both its enemy’s and its own. Unearth will let them rebuy for a turn later in the game, when lining up for an alpha strike, and the removal should help keep the lanes clear in the red zone. If that failes, well, there’s always the skies. (review: not available)
Set: Shards of Alara
Detail: Although hobbled slightly by the inclusion of Cruel Ultimatum as one of its two rares, Grixis Undead still has plenty of tools to get the job done. A solid removal suite to kill off enemy creatures, a pair of Blightnings to blast their hand, and unearth-enabled nasties to smash face- Grixis Undead is a triple threat! (review: deck, play)
And now… onward to victory!
Bant Exalted vs Grixis Shambling Army
Bant Exalted leads with a Suntail Hawk while Grixis Shambling Army’s turn-3 Kederekt Creeper draws a Pacifism. A Kathari Screecher with a Bone Saw gives Grixis some grindpower, though, after the Hawk, an Akrasan Squire, and Knight of the Skyward Eye fall afoul of an Infest. Bant tries to battle back with a Knight-Captain of Eos, but a Shock puts paid to the rally. A Fire-Field Ogre locks up the ground defense for Grixis while a Terror, an Agony Warp, and a Sedraxis Alchemist pry open Bant’s defenses for an alpha strike.
Unearth clinches the game for Grixis! Another early Kederekt Creeper draws anaother Pacifism, but a Kathari Screecher and a Dregscape Zombie (girded by Elder Mastery) threaten in the skies. Bant gets to its usual exalted tricks with a Battlegrace Angel, Angelic Benediction, and Guardians of Akrasa, but once the Extractor Demon hits and things start dying in combat, Grixis uses the Demon to self-mill even more unearthed joy. Bant’s last defender falls to a Terror, then the Dmon leads the way with a Fire-Field Ogre and Grixis Slavedriver unearthed for the final attack.
WINNER: Grixis Shambling Army
Esper Artifice vs Esper Air Assault
Esper Air Assault starts promisingly enough with an early Darklit Gargoyle and Parasitic Strix, but it falters on manabase development after that. Esper Artifice keeps pace and moves past, with Esper Battlemage into Master of Etherium into Cloudheath Drake for solid beats. Air Assault’s back is broken when it lands an Esperzoa to shore up its defenses but finds it almost immediately Oblivion Ring’ed away. Esper Artifice’s Courier’s Capsule only adds to the Master of Etherium, and its enough to grind Air Assault down.
Artifice is off to a storming start with a turn-1 Executioner’s Capsule, turn 2 Etherium Sculptor, and turns-3-and-4 Tower Gargoyles. Air Assault can’t withstand forever- it kills one of the Gargoyles with an Executioner’s Capsule of its own, but its not enough. Artifice replaces the loss with a Cloudheath Drake, and while Air Assault tries to battle back with a Scornful Æther-Lich and Salvage Slasher, Artifice’s Onyx Goblet/Marble Chalice duo keep the game moving to its inevitable conclusion.
WINNER: Esper Artifice
Grixis Shambling Army vs Grixis Undead
A hand-smashing back-and-forth, Grixis Shambling Army lands a turn-2 Zombie Outlander, then adds a Bone Saw and Elder Mastery to it in short order. Although Grixis Undead fights back with a couple of Blightnings, its Blood Cultist and Kederekt Creeper have no answer for the death in the skies.
Grixis Shambling Army clinches with another blowout. A turn-3 Brackwater Elemental and Bone Saw-equipped turn-4 Fire-Field Ogre send heavy damage through the red zone. Grixis Undead– again on the ropes- scrambles to stabilise with a Dregscape Zombie and Gravedigger, but Grixis Shambling Army has a Shock and Agony Warp to pave the way for the coup-de-gras.
WINNER: Grixis Shambling Army
Tinsman Division Final: Grixis Shambling Army vs Esper Artifice
Grixis means business and is here to win, with a Shock killing off Esper’s early Etherium Sculptor, followed by a Pestilent Kathari (disabled by an Oblivion Ring), a Grixis Slavedriver, and a Kederekt Creeper with Elder Mastery. Slow and steady wins the race, though, with Esper managing some solid stalling from a second Etherium Sculptor pulled back with a Sanctum Gargoyle, a Cloudheath Drake, Filigree Sages, and a Tidehollow Strix. Esper blows past once the Master of Etherium and Sharding Sphinx touch down, and never look back.
This game is all about Esper. A turn-2 Etherium Sculptor enables a turn-3 Tower Gargoyle. A Cloudheath Drake eats a Terror, but Esper battles back with a pair of Oblivion Rings: first another Zombie Outlander enchanted with Elder Mastery, then a last-ditch Blood Tyrant. Esper soars to victory, and the fratricidal Tinsman Division has been decided!
That leaves Esper Artifice and Jace’s deck battling out for the right to represent the Rosewater Conference. Before we settle that score, we’ll next be moving over to the Forsythe Conference. Next up- the Turian Division!