2008-09 Precon Deck Championships: Lauer Division
Welcome back to Magic’s premiere preconstructed gaming event, the Precon Deck Championships! Three Divisions have already been decided, and their representative decks are waiting anxiously for the battle lines to be drawn and to get their shot at the title. Before then, we have one more Division to go: the Lauer. In our last installment, we saw the Turian Division through to its conclusion, so we know that the winner of today’s clashes will be taking on Dead Ahead for the honour of representing the Forsythe Conference against whichever deck wins between Jace’s Deck and Esper Artifice.
Let’s begin with a look at the day’s competitors.
The Teams to Beat
Set: Duel Decks: Divine vs Demonic
Detail: Divine vs Demonic had something of a closed-world design to them. Each deck is filled with expensive bombs with a small host to see them through to the endgame. In a fast environment both decks can be in jeopardy, but in the class of 2008-09 they are in good company- all of Shards of Alara and Conflux featured three-colour decks (or more, in the case of Naya Domain). Will the heavenly host be able to deploy its celestial beaters to advance to the finals? If this mono-White deck gets its angels to take wing, Divine’s opponent won’t have a prayer. (review: deck, play)
Colours: Green, White
Set: Alara Reborn
Detail: After two sets exploring syergies between colour shards, Alara Reborn streamlined and made a cycle of decks involving the two core colours shared by a pair of shards. For Bant and Naya, that’s Green and White… and so we have Eternal Siege, a beatdown deck with both the Solider/Knight inhabitants of Bant and the behemoths of Naya. (review: not available)
Colours: Red, green, black
Detail: The second and final pure-Jund deck of the block, Appetite for War continues on the theme of devour, with a heavy removal package to back it up. Should it be lucky enough to deploy the Charnelhoard Wurm, it can look at some very hideous card advantage, but the deck has the tools to begin firing from the very first turn. (review: not available)
Colours: Green, white, red
Set: Shards of Alara
Detail: Despite being misattributed to Conflux in the brackets above, Naya Behemoths is ready to represent the first set of the block, Shards of Alara, in a division filled with later builds. It lays the foundation for the Naya strategy- pack the early and mid-game with ramp and cards that synergise with massive behemoths, then start dropping the gargantuan beaters themselves! (review: deck, play)
Colours: Red, green, black
Set: Shards of Alara
Detail: The other Jund-centered, three-colour deck (Alara Reborn’s decks would be two-coloured and each span two shards), Primordial Jund introduces the devour mechanic and gives it a great deal of support. Favoured for solid removal, devour is both the deck’s strongest asset as well as its greatest liability, for a single removal spell can undo a great deal of effort. Will Jund be able to ride high and sail to victory on the back of some well-fed beaters? (review: deck, play)
And now… on with the show!
Primordial Jund vs Eternal Siege
Devour may be a risky sstrategy, but when it goes off it can really go off. Jund’s early Dragon Fodder, Goblin Piker, and Goblin Deathraiders provide grist for the mill after Eternal Siege stabilises its board position, and before you know it Siege is staring across the table at a 12/12 Mycoloth. The 8 Saprolings it spawns then go on to fuel a 25/25 Thunder-Thrash Elder, and the cycle of life grinds up the Siege for mulch. Siege’s Dauntless Escort and Mighty Emergence-buffed Beacon Behemoth can’t hold out for long.
The Mycoloth slams down like a hammer again in conjunction with a Hissing Iguanar. Eternal Siege manages another Mighty Emergence and a Drumhunter, waiting for a behemoth to show up. Jund doesn’t give them the chance. The Mycoloth eats a Dragon Fodder’s worth of Goblins, a Rip-Clan Crasher, and a Goblin Piker and the first game’s conclusion is repeated. Again Jund fired off too quickly to give Eternal Siege much of a chance.
WINNER: Primordial Jund
A hard-fought contest, Naya steadily beats the drums of war with a Druid of the Anima, a Woolly Thoctar, a Bull Cerodon, a Cavern Thoctar, and a Rakeclaw Gargantuan. Fortunately, they don’t all come at once, and slowly Jund finds answers for them one at a time. A Dragon Fodder allows for chump blockers which get popped to fuel a Scarland Thrinax, so that nothing is wasted. Twin Fiery Falls are almost purpose-built against gargantuans, an Incinerate claims another, and a Carrion Thrash trades out one more. The Scarland Thrinax- now a 4/4- gets some beats in before being gang-blocked out, but a Tukatongue-fed Hellkite Hatchling gets to where Naya just can’t reach- the skies.
A quick one, Jund leads with a Dragon Fodder and a long-term game plan. Naya lands a turn-1 Wild Nacatl, which becomes a 3/3 the very next turn thanks to a land drop and a Rampant Growth. A Tukatongue Thallid and Toxic Iguanar help Jund take down a Woolly Thoctar and the Nacatl (the Thallid fuelling a surprise Gluttonous Slime to trade out for the latter). Naya shrugs it off, playing a replacement Woolly Thoctar, but by now it’s turn 5 and Jund lands a Voracious Dragon, eating both Goblins and killing Naya’s Thoctar. While Naya battles back with a Spearbreaker Behemoth and a Bull Cerodon, a Sprouting Thrinax gives Jund all the chumping it needs to stall out the red zone while the Dragon wraps up the match.
WINNER: Jund Appetite for War
Jund embarks on a grand devour project at the outset. First one Jund Battlemage and then another start mass-producing Saproling tokens, while Divine’s only early aggressor- a Charging Paladin– is Shocked away. While Jund builds its resources, Divine lands a Sustainer of the Realm, a Luminous Angel, and a Serra Angel over a few short turns. Jund pops its devour for a 13/13 Thunder-Thrash Elder, but a Faith’s Fetters is drawn to it straightaway like a magnet. Jund gamely tries again, landing a 12/12 Thorn-Thrash Viashino (fed in part by its hapless Elder), but the race is now in Divine’s favour. A last-ditch effort to blunt the celestial assault with a Resounding Thunder falls short by a timely Healing Salve for the save, and the Angels take the game.
The Angels- thriving in this slower three-colour environment- begin with an Icatian Priest and an Angelic Page. Jund opens with a Rip-Clan Crasher on turn 2 and beats down heavily with it. It adds a Hissing Iguanar (which gets sniped off with a Serra’s Boon) and a Goblin Deathraiders. The Crasher gets traded with the Page-pumped Priest, and Jund looks to go all in, devouring its Goblins for a 10/10 Thunder-Thrash Elder. Luck is with Divine once more as it topdecks the fourth Plains it needs to toss off a Faith’s Fetters to solve the Elder. The mana flows from there as Divine adds Angelic Benediction and Serra Angel to the mix. A Jund Battlemage emerges to make a couple of Saprolings, which help fuel an 8/8 Thorn-Thrash Viashino. The Viashino attacks, but the sad trumpet sounds as it’s smacked with an Otherworldly Journey, bringing it back at end of turn with only a single +1/+1 token for its troubles. The Serra, meanwhile, is hard at work in the sky, and Jund’s last-ditch Flameblast Dragon is turned aside by the Benediction as the Serra Angel swings for lethal.
Jund 2 looks to avenge its fallen predecessor with an almost unbeatable opening hand, including a pair of Goblin Outlanders with protection from White. The Outlanders- played on turns 2 and 4 with a Sprouting Thrinax in between- make all the difference, marching in relentlessly and unstoppably every turn. Divine has a motley assortment of ineffective counters- a Venerable Monk, Serra Advocate, Icatian Priest, and Angelic Protector– but they have no answer to the Goblins and Jund easily takes the first game.
Jund opens with a Viashino Slaughtermaster, which ends up doing the bulk of the deck’s heavy lifting by double-striking in nearly every turn. Divine’s early plays- a Charging Paladin, Angel of Mercy, and Angelic Protector- can’t withstand Jund’s fury as it smites the first two dead with a Branching Bolt. Meanwhile, it plays Dragon Fodder twice, and ends the game by playing a Voracious Dragon, devouring the Goblins and blasting Divine full in the face for 8. Jund’s vengeance is as complete as it is unmistakable in this display of savage dominance.
It’s now Jund Appetite for War versus Dead Ahead for the Forsythe Conference, and Jace’s Deck against Esper Artifice for the Rosewater Conference. We’ll decide both matches- and our Grand Final- in the exciting conclusion of the 2009-09 Precon Championships!