Magic 2012: Blood and Fire Review (Part 2 of 2)
Jimi and I are excited to tear into the Magic 2012 decks and run our first playtest. From the looks of them, there are a few that jump out as looking like they’re a lot of fun to play, and Blood and Fire is one of them. Taking the role of opposition, Jimi selects the Blue/White skies-n-stuff deck Mystic Might.
The question I was most looking to answer is this: how reliable is bloodthirst? With the deck virtually built around it, Blood and Fire would live or die by its ability to deliver steady, consistent damage. As there’s only one way to find out, here’s how we did.
After a first turn spent laying land, Jimi and I both land a two-drop creature- her a Coral Merfolk followed by my Duskhunter Bat. I have nothing in hand that can damage Jimi first, and the Duskhunter Bat is a very solid bloodthirst enabler thanks to its evasion. Next turn sees Jimi attack for 2, then play a Benalish Veteran. I send in the Bat for 1, then drop a Blood Ogre. Thanks to bloodthirst, it hits the table as a 3/3.
Unwilling to trade, Jimi’s turn 4 is a blank, but I am not so kind. After blasting her only Plains with a Tectonic Rift, I send in both beaters safe in the knowledge that Jimi cannot block even if she wanted to. She’s now down to 15, but a 4-point counterattack of her own drops me to 14. A slugfest, I send the Ogre and Bat back across for another 4, then twist the knife by playing a pair of Duskhunter Bats as 2/2’s.
Now facing a solid defense, Jimi holds back on turn 6, but I show no such mercy. Over to me, I attack with everything for 8. Jimi chumps the Ogre with her Merfolk, but has no answer for my aerial threat. Down to 6, she’s forced to blow a Cancel on my subsequent Crumbling Colossus just to stay upright. Next turn she draws into an Aven Fleetwing and plays it. As expected, I send in the team for lethal, forcing Jimi to trade out the Fleetwing with a Bat and chump the Ogre with the Veteran. Now at 3 life and creatureless, she scoops after her next draw yields no answer.
Our second match unfolds precisely as our first one did, but instead of the Bat I play a turn-2 Onyx Mage. Turn 3 sees Jimi swing with the Merfolk for an opening 2, then defend with a freshly-summoned Benalish Veteran. Denied an easy bloodthirst-enabling strike with the Mage, I play a 1/1 Duskhunter Bat.
Now turn 4, Jimi continues the buildup of forces with a Rusted Sentinel after attacking for 3 with the Veteran. Down to 15 life, I send the Bat across for 1 to bring bloodthirst up, and play a Stormblood Berserker. It’s not to be, though, as Jimi’s next turn sees it returned to my hand thanks to an Æther Adept, followed by a devastating 8-point swing which cuts me in half. I attack again with the Bat in the air, then follow up with a Blood Ogre whose first strike should slow the attacks down a little.
It works- Jimi holds back on turn 6, sending in only the Rusted Sentinel for 3, leaving me at 4 life. Looking to redeploy the Berserker, I attack with the Bat for 1, but Jimi has the Cancel ready for my summons. Next turn she drops a Levitation and I have no answer as she swings for lethal.
Now on the play, I open with a perfect bloodthirst enabler- the Goblin Fireslinger. Jimi plays a Plains and passes, then I ping her with the Goblin and drop a Duskhunter Bat as a 2/2. Jimi lands an Island, but has nothing more in hand.
I attack with the Bat for 2 on turn 3, then add a second Bat. Passing to Jimi, I ping her with the Goblin on her turn, taking her to 16 life. She plays a Benalish Veteran. Back to me, I attack for 4 in the skies, keeping the pressure on. Jimi manages to staunch the flow slightly with an Æther Adept to return one of my Bats to hand (I ping her in response), then attacks with the Veteran for 3.
I replay the Bat on turn 5 after a 2-point attack, then pass to Jimi. She plays a Levitation (I ping her), then passes. With all of her creatures now flying, I give the Bats a rest and just ping her with the Goblin to get bloodthirst up before playing a Bloodrage Vampire. Jimi adds a Coral Merfolk, then attacks in again with the Veteran. I’m now at 14 life, with Jimi at 7.
Now turn 7, I go for the throat with an 8-point attack- both Bats and the Vampire. Jimi trades the Merfolk for one of the Bats and her Æther Adept for my 4/2 Vampire, taking 2 from the unblocked Bat. Her turn is a blank, unremarkable other than the Plains she plays and the ping my Goblin delivers. On turn 8, I ping her again, then try to draw out a counter with a bloodthirsted Gorehorn Minotaurs. It works, and the Cancel taps down two of her three Islands. Safe from another, I send an Incinerate her way for the game.
Thoughts & Analysis
Blood and Fire is another one of those ‘feast or famine’ decks that we frequently see in the preconstructed realm. These are decks that can be brutal on your opponent if the draws go your way, but if they don’t the decks tend to perform poorly. A handful of bloodthirst creatures with no enabler makes for a rather mediocre army, and one that will be soon overrun. But get an early Duskhunter Bat, Tormented Soul, or Goblin Fireslinger up, as I did in games one and three, and the deck goes into overdrive.
Make no mistake- bloodthirst is very fast. With an enabler out to ensure even a little damage each round, you’ll often overwhelm your opponent with tempo- they just won’t be able to keep pace with a turn-2 hard-to-block 3/3 (Stormblood Berserker), followed by a turn-3 3/3 first striker (Blood Ogre) and turn-4 5/5 (Gorehorn Minotaurs). Obviously, the key to the deck’s success is reliable, early damage- otherwise those cards are a less-intimidating turn-2 hard-to-block 1/1, followed by a 2/2 first striker and turn-4 3/3.
Fortunately, Blood and Fire does a solid job of making sure you should have bloodthirst up with reasonable consistency. Besides the aforementioned enablers, there are also a few other ways to ensure damage ranging from the reach of Taste of Blood (and, if needed, Shock) to making your creatures unblockable with Tectonic Rift or Hideous Visage.
Aside from juggling to keep bloodthirst up, there’s very little else to the deck- just smash face over and over until victory is attained. Overall, it’s a lot of fun to play, and the bloodthirst gives an otherwise somewhat pedestrian beaters deck a twist that keeps it interesting.
Hits: Bloodthirst theme very strong in the deck, giving it something of a ‘theme deck’ feel; very strong synergy and interactions between cards; new mechanic a lot of fun to play
Misses: Burn suite underwhelming- three Shocks and an Incinerate might have been better as two of each; without a way to mitigate their drawback (through toughness-pumping equipment, for instance), Goblin Bangchuckers have little business being in this deck
OVERALL SCORE: 4.25/5.00