2010-11 Precon Championships: Nagle Division (Part 1 of 2)
Today coverage of the eagerly-awaited 2010-11 Preconstructed Championships games begins! We’ll observe the customary order of beginning with the Nagle Division in the Rosewater Conference, and by the end of the day half of the field will be swept away by the tide of defeat. We have some new faces this time around, Event Decks straining at the bit to prove what they’re made of. Can the rest of the field withstand them to claim the ultimate prize- the ability to stand in the Hall of Champions as the best of your class!
Here’s another look at the Nagle Division’s bracket:
There’s another new twist to this season’s Championships which comes in the form of a giveaway for those following the action. Each round readers will be asked to make their predictions for the upcoming group of matches, and each correct prediction will award the reader a point! Once the Championships are concluded, the reader with the most points will win a pair of Intro Packs: M12’s Grab for Power and one from Innistrad (to be determined)!
The Teams to Beat
Overall we already have some very intriguing matchups in the Nagle Division! Both decks from Duel Decks: Knights vs Dragons have found themselves here after our random seeding, and all three sets of Scars of Mirrodin block are represented. There’s also an Archenemy deck, giving us an all-Dragon opener, as well as the first of our four Event Decks. Truly something for everyone! Let’s take a closer look at today’s contenders, presented in alphabetical order.
Set: Mirrodin Besieged
Detail: As its name suggests, the battle cry mechanic was given center stage in this Boros-style deck filled with fast, aggressive creatures and numerical superiority. Will it be able to run roughshod over its opposition? (Reviews: deck, playtest)
Set: Scars of Mirrodin
Detail: One of the weaker decks in the set, Deadspread leans heavily on the new proliferate mechanic, but overall felt a little too slow and cumbersome to be effective. To win here it’s going to need to stall its enemies while it sets up, and will need fortune on its side. (Review: deck, playtest)
Set: New Phyrexia
Detail: Another of the block’s Intro Pack decks that runs a bit on the slow side, Devouring Skies bases its strength upon its ability to send creatures aloft, using an abundance of varying equipment to gird them for war. With virtually no spot removal, it’s going to need to establish aerial domination if it hopes to advance all the way. (Review: deck, playtest)
Set: Duel Decks: Knights vs Dragons
Detail: The Duel Decks have traditionally been held up as perennial frontrunners in the Championships, though we’ve yet to see the much-anticipated effect of the Event Decks. Still, Dragons is as solid a contender as any once it manages to make the transition from its early, establishing game and start bringing out its namesake beasts. Its opening match against Scorch the World with Dragonfire will be one to watch. (Review: deck, playtest)
Set: Duel Decks: Knights vs Dragons
Detail: Through fate or fortune, both halves of the Duel Deck have ended up here in the Nagle Division, which means only one of them, in the end, will be walking away to the later stages of the competition. Through a strong tribal focus and card interactions, Knights feels it has a strong claim on being the last deck standing and grasping the banner of the Division! (Review: deck, playtest)
Set: New Phyrexia
Detail: Like the other Intro Decks from New Phyrexia, Ravaging Swarm was crafted with one rare card from its own set, and one from earlier in the block. This deck marks the final, inevitable marriage of proliferate and infect, the two Phyrexian mechanics present from the very beginning. The two had danced around one another as the block ran its course, only to at last be united here. Of course, to advance it’s going to need to get past Deadpsread, the original proliferate deck, which certainly has other ideas! (Review: deck, playtest)
Detail: Like Planechase before it, the Archenemy decks bear close attention. Although crafted with multiplayer play in mind, the tight theme and peerless rare content load the dice some in their favour. The all-Dragon opening match is eagerly anticipated, as only one of these decks will advance to go for it all! (Review: deck, playtest)
Set: New Phyrexia (Event Deck)
Detail: This season’s great X-factor is the impact of the Event Decks on the field of battle. Designed for competitive play, they feature a much more tightly-knit construction and boast nearly as many rare cards as the Archenemy decks. Unafraid to include four-ofs, these will be the most consistent decks on the field. Can War of Attrition establish its dominance, or is it doomed for an upset? (Review: deck, playtest)
And now… to battle!
Dragons (DD) vs Scorch the World with Dragonfire (ARC)
Dragons is off to a roaring start (ha!) with a Dragon Fodder and pair of Mudbutton Torchrunners, but Scorch avoids being stalled on two land with turn-2 and -3 Gruul Signets, and cheats out a Hellkite Charger with a Seething Song for the game’s first Dragon. Next turn, though, Dragons goes big with a Voracious Dragon, devouring all four Goblins. The damage from the Mudbuttons’ leaves-the-battlefield ability is directed at the Charger, forcing Scorch to pop its freshly-cast Fires of Yavimaya to save it. The 8 damage from the Dragon’s enters-the-battlefield ability is instead sent right to the face.
It’s all for naught- the 8/8 Voracious Dragon is killed the next turn when it is sent in to attack and meets the Hellkite and a Branching Bolt, but can take some solace in knowing it took two cards with it. But Scorch never quite recovers from the loss. Its Dragonspeaker Shaman is killed by a Ghostfire, its Dragon Whelp is forced to chump a Bogardan Hellkite, and the Hellkite finishes the job for Dragons.
Dragons gets off and running with an artifact-heavy beginning, leading with an Armillary Sphere followed by- of all things- a Dragon’s Claw. Ordinarily an object of scorn and derision, the Claw comes through heavily here and ensures that Dragons never falls below 15 life for nearly the entire match. Instead, Dragons would go on to punish Scorch mercilessly. A morphed Skirk Marauder? Kill it with Punishing Fire. Dragon Whelp and Dragon Fodder? Cone of Flame. Ryusei, the Falling Star? Jaws of Stone. Dragons has an answer for everything Scorch tries to do, and the coup de grace is delivered on the back of a Captive Flame and Shivan Hellkite.
WINNER: Dragons (DD)
Battle Cries (MBS) vs Knights (DD)
Knights opens with a Lionheart Maverick, White Knight, and Treetop Village, and has no shortage of early mana. Meanwhile, Battle Cries has a strong start of its own thanks to a Memnite, Origin Spellbomb, and early Myrsmith followed by a Signal Pest and Accorder Paladin. Early damage gives way to a standoff with both sides using their turns to build up, but Knights’ Alaborn Cavalier offers some breakthrough potential.
Battle Cries uses two Master’s Calls like removal, trading for later attackers like the Steward of Valeron. Battle Cries’ biggest threat- a Kuldotha Ringleader– draws an immediate Reprisal. Heavy damage is done when Knights uses Mighty Leap to give the Alaborn Cavalier flying along with a damage buff, then a Sigil Blessing to pile it on. Battle Cries lands a Victory’s Herald too late to stop the beating as a Paladin of Prahv tips the scale in the Knights’ favour.
Knights opens with a pair of Lionheart Mavericks and tops it off with a Knight Exemplar. Battle Cries responds with a Memnite and a popped Origin Spellbomb, the opening it had in the previous game. Knights eagerly swings, and Battle Cries Galvanic Blasts the Exemplar, allowing it to trade its weenies for the Mavericks and hit a reset button of sorts. A Knotvine Paladin falls to a Master’s Call, but still Knights has the edge as it fills the field more quickly by adding a Zhalfirin Commander, Knight of the White Orchid, Knight of Meadowgrain, and a Paladin of Prahv.
Battle Cries’ force of Myr tokens (from two more Master’s Calls) and an Ardent Recruit are whittled down. Though the deck is able to buy some time with a 5-point White Sun’s Zenith, the relentless attacking and lifegain make an already yawning gulf insurmountably wider. A Kinsbaile Cavalier shows up to make Knights’ final strike the last.
WINNER: Knights (DD)
Deadspread (SOM) vs Ravaging Swarm (NPH)
A slow start for both decks gives Deadspread a chance to establish its position with a Darkslick Drake and a Sky-Eel School after a turn-2 Leaden Myr. Swarm battles back with a Trigon of Infestation, but its Blighted Agent falls to a Contagion Clasp. While Swarm plays catch-up with a Plaguemaw Beast and a Glistener Elf– and even steals the Darkslick Drake with a Corrupted Conscience– Deadspread gets the lock off with a Trigon of Corruption and Necrogen Censer, using the Clasp to proliferate while grinding out a win in the skies.
Deadspread keeps a 1-land hand, and Ravaging Swarm settles for one after mullinganing down to 6. Deadspread’s gamble pays off with a turn 3 Island, letting it run out Leaden and Silver Myr, a Thrummingbird, a Moriok Reaver and a Necrogen Censer. Tragically, Swarm is still stalled at the gate with one Forest, no permanents, and a steadily growing graveyard. Swarm chokes when it counds, and Deadspread shows it no mercy.
WINNER: Deadspread (SOM)
War of Attrition (NPH-e) vs Devouring Skies (NPH)
A typically slow start from Devouring Skies sees it open with a Copper Carapace on turn 1, Viridian Claw on turn 2, and a turn 3 Sickleslicer. Meanwhile, War of Attrition plays a turn 1 Kor Duelist, turn 2 Elite Vanguard, and finally a turn 3 Porcelain Legionnaire– quite a contrast. Devouring Skies battles hard with an Impaler Shrike and a Blind Zealot, but between the Legionnaire, a Dread Statuary, and a Kor Duelist now sporting a Flayer Husk and Skinwing on it, what’s it to do?
War of Attrition’s attack with the overloaded Kor Duelist hurts, but it exposes an opening when it taps out to deploy a Bonehoard and Kemba’s Skyguard. A Vapor Snag bounces the Legionnaire, and a Neurok Invisimancer makes the Zealot unblockable. The Zealot and Shrike swing in for 5, then both are popped. The three cards offered up by the Shrike are poor (two of them basic land), but the Zealot kills off the Duelist. Slowly, Devouring Skies begins to eke out a more solid position for itself thanks to a Darkslick Drake girded with a Sickleslicer and Viridian Claw. A second Shrike and a Mortis Dogs with the Copper Carapace equipped keep the pressure on, and the deathblow is dealt by the Invisimancer.
Following Devouring Skies’ startling upset, all it needs is one more win. Can it get there? The second game seems to be War of Attrition’s turn to show what it can do. By turn 3 Devouring Skies has a Copper Carapace, Viridian Claw, and Sickleslicer. Attrition has momentum behind it with a Kor Duelist, Leonin Skyhunter, and Porcelain Legionnaire- with a Leonin Relic-Warder to follow. Skies’ Brass Squire and Hovermyr– lone defenders loaded with gear- fall in turn to Journeys to Nowhere, and its almost over before it begins- Skies never had a chance.
Even at a game apiece, the winner here will advance! With a turn 2 Silver Myr followed by a Hovermyr, Devouring Skies gets in some early beats, but War of Attrition has another explosive start. In just a few turns it’s boasting a pair of Stoneforge Mystics, with a Bonehoard and a Sword of Vengeance fetched up. The Bonehoard trades out with a Kiln Walker, and when an Impaler Shrike is cashed in, it nabs the Doom Blade desperately needed to thwart a fully armoured Kor Duelist and gives Skies some breathing room. But it’s only temporary- the tutored equipment make all the difference when attacked to a Leonin Skyhunter, and Devouring Skies dies as it lived- in the air.
WINNER: War of Attrition (NPH-e)
With the combatants having left the pit, it’s time for the clean-up crews to come in with some fresh sand and clean up the mess. Thanks for joining us today- we’ll be back soon with another call for predictions followed by an exciting round of preconstructed action, to determine who will be the Nagle Division champion in the Rosewater Conference!