7th Edition: Bomber Review (Part 2 of 2)
With our recent holiday behind us, it was time to get back into the routine again, and that included testing Magic: the Gathering precon decks. Jimi and I cleared off the dinner table, brewed a kettle of tea and laid out the playmats to pick up right where we left off with 7th Edition. For my part, I was taking the recently-reviewed Bomber into the field, while Jimi opted to challenge with the mono-Black Decay. Here are the notes from our matchup.
Jimi begins on the play and leads with a Blood Pet off of a Swamp, while my opener is the turn-2 Merfolk Looter (after Jimi attacks with the Pet for 1). Next turn she adds a Looming Shade, but I’m able to counter it with a Glacial Wall– at least, for now. I also trigger the Looter, keeping the Island I draw and discarding the rather useless Coral Merfolk.
Now turn 4, Jimi swings with both critters, seeing the Pet get in for 1. She then hits my hand with a Mind Rot, which forces the discard of the Island as well as a Boomerang. Next turn I loot another Island back, pitching a Confiscate. Confiscate is a brutal card, but at six mana I’m not entirely certain I’ll be able to cast it in time to do me much good. Control Magic-style spells work best when your opponent packs in fat creatures, but I know that much of what Jimi has in Decay is hardly worth the theft. Next turn, Jimi repeats her attack, leaving me at 17 life. She adds a Drudge Skeletons and passes. Looking for solutions, I loot a Counterspell, keeping it in lieu of a Boomerang. I then dig a little deeper with Ancestral Memories, revelaing precious little. Still, it grants me an Air Elemental and another Island (which I’ll need if I want to protect the Elemental with counter backup the turn it lands on the table).
Jimi attacks in for 3 on turn 6 and I continue to use the Wall to block the Shade, taking only 2 from the Pet and Skeletons. My Looter has ceased to be useful, as there’s likely little I’d be willing to keep over my counter and beater, so he sits idly by. I take another 2 points of damage next turn as the attack is repeated. Again I draw and play land.
Now turn 8, Jimi’s attack takes me down to 11, then she plays another Drudge Skeletons. I draw and play a Fighting Drake which draws the anticipated Dark Banishing. Next turn Jimi trumps my counter with a Duress, which compels me to counter it. I’m now holding an unprotected Air Elemental, and running out of time. Jimi attacks for 4 (landing 3), then leaves me at 1 life with a Corrupt. She’s at a pristine 27. I’m now forced to send the Elemental out to take its chances and do. But my back is broken, and all I can do is stall. I play a succession of chumps (Sage Owl, Daring Apprentice, etc), but the first time I fail to draw a creature or answer I’m dead from her attack.
It doesn’t take long.
I begin with a Merfolk of the Pearl Trident, my deck’s lone one-drop, while Jimi starts with a Blood Pet. The trusty Merfolk Looter touches down next, while Jimi has nothing to play. I kick in with the Looter immediately beginning on turn 3, drawing and dumping a Coral Merfolk before playing a Wind Drake. Jimi again hits at my hand with a Mind Rot, and an Island and an Unsummon follow the Coral Merfolk to the graveyard.
It’s now turn 4 and I’m in good position. I begin the attack with the Drake, taking Jimi to 18. She responds by playing Greed, not a good sign. Hopefully I can damage her down quickly enough that she’ll get little benefit from it. Back to me, I swing in for 2 more, loot (drawing Ancestral Memories, dumping Island) and deploy a Fighting Drake. Jimi draws an extra card from Greed, then plays a Blood Pet and Drudge Skeletons.
I attack for 4 more damage on turn 6, unblockable in the sky with the Drakes, and Jimi is halfway to dead. A Sage Owl lets me peer into my future, and it looks rather pedestrian: a Daring Apprentice and three Islands. Back to Jimi, she lays down a Phyrexian Hulk which I don’t bother to counter as I now have her on a two-turn clock. My air force is too much for her as she scoops the next turn after drawing no answers.
Back on the play, Jimi drops a Swamp and passes. I again land the early and mighty Merfolk of the Pearl Trident. Advantage swings back to Jimi next turn with a Foul Imp, and I have no play of my own.
Jimi draws first blood on turn 3, attacking in the air. She then adds a Drudge Skeletons and passes. My turn is a blank, filled with more reactive options. Next turn she drops me to 15, then follows up with a Crypt Rats. Another blank for me.
A Serpent Warrior joins the fray on turn 5, leaving Jimi at 15 life (all of it self-inflicted). Her 3-point attack puts me at 12, and at the end of her turn I cast Inspiration to dig for options. I manage a solid blocker with a Horned Turtle and pass. Jimi’s turn-6 Ostracize claims a Wind Drake, and when she sends in the troops I Boomerang the Serpent Warrior back to her hand. I’m now down to 10, and in danger of falling too far behind to hope to catch up.
Jimi replays her Serpent Warrior on turn 7, then attacks for 2 with the Imp. At the end of her turn I Unsummon the Crypt Rats, then add a Prodigal Sorcerer. Next turn Jimi pushes all her critters into the red zone. I block the Serpent Warrior with the Turtle, chump the Skeletons with the Merfolk of the Pearl Trident (Jimi regenerates the Skeletons), and the Imp gets through for 2. At 6 life, I’m happy to Counterspell Jimi’s Crypt Rats when she tries to recast them, and she ends her turn. Over to me, I add a Fighting Drake and pass.
Jimi overplays her hand on turn 9, tapping out for a Fallen Angel which allows me to pick off her Skeletons with my pinger. I draw and pass. Back to Jimi, she attacks with the Angel after summoning a Bog Imp, and when she sacs the Imp to her Angel I Boomerang it back to her hand. Out of counters and at 6 life, though, I’m done for next turn when Jimi seals the game up with a Corrupt.
Thoughts & Analysis
Some things tend to ‘splash’ better than others. A couple burn spells are perfectly fine, especially if they can be directed against your opponent. A kill spell or two is almost always a welcome draw. Countermagic, on the other hand, can be a bit hit or miss. In Bomber’s case, it comes up a touch short- much like everything else in the deck.
The problem with this mono-Blue construction is that it tries to be a little bit of everything, but ends up doing nothing particularly well. A pair of Counterspells are always useful, but the Force Spike will be nearly useless for most of any game- hope to see it in your opening draw or not at all. Constructed decks pack in playsets of conditional removal (like Mana Leak) because they recognise the power of getting it early. Singleton equivalents (and Force Spike in particular) do more harm than good here.
Although game two showed that if you draw enough of one of Bomber’s tactical avenues (in that case, flying creatures) you can turn the tide- I might have done as well clogging up the red zone with Wall of Air and Glacial Wall backed up by an evasive beater and countermagic protection to halt Jimi’s creature flood and kill spell backup. Alas, cards like Coral Merfolk and Merfolk of the Pearl Trident are simply ill-suited to the deck’s clear desire to clog up the middle and buy itself valuable time. For a 40-card deck, it’s spread just a little bit too thin, as the results from Way Wild’s playtest similarly illustrate.
Hits: Contains a pair of Counterspells, the original and probably best hard counter ever; reasonably effective air strategy
Misses: Ground game cloggers are too thinly spread to be effective- the deck needs high-toughness blockers, not chumps
OVERALL SCORE: 3.50/5.00
I expected a bit more from this deck, but countermagic is countermagic, nuff said, and its rival was Decay, one of my favourites.
Low cost creatures with no abilities are so underwhelming. Today, you can get a Kraken hatchling for U, a good start for a blue deck, or if you prefer to go more offensive, Phantasmal bear.