2010-11 Precon Championships: Tinsman Division (Part 1 of 2)
In the short history of the Preconstructed Championships, the Tinsman Division holds a place of high honour, for it was from here that the inaugural champion arose. In a story that gives hope to underdogs everywhere, Eldrazi Arisen battled its way through rare-filled opposition, first a Duel Deck, then a Planechase deck, and finally a Duels of the Planeswalkers deck to give it the right to appear in the finals. There it met Invading Spawn, and in the end this gauntlet forged a champion. And while the next season (2008-09, for we go backwards as well as forwards) added little silverware to the cabinet- its champion was vanquished by Jace’s Duel Deck- the Tinsman is hungry for victory and eager for glory. Will they be the first division with a repeat win?
Let’s take a closer look at this season’s Tinsman bracket:
The Teams to Beat
Looking at the contenders, we see a second attempt by Archenemy to find favour in the competition, as well as our first appearances by Magic 2011 decks. All three sets from Scars of Mirrodin block are present as well, making this division truly anyone’s game! Here’s a review of all eight teams in the division, by alphabetical order.
Assemble the Doomsday Machine
Colours: Blue, white, black
Detail: With a whopping eight rares, the Archenemy decks are loaded with power and eager to prove themselves on the battlefield. With the first-round stumble of Scorch the World with Dragonfire in the Nagle Division, look for Assemble to have something to prove. (Reviews: deck, play)
Blades of Victory
Colours: White, black
Set: Magic 2011
Detail: A White Weenie deck with a splash of Black for removal, Blades also carries a solid air component should the ground game stall. Both of its bomby rares are flying creatures, which gives you an idea of how the deck intends to win. As a core set Intro Pack deck, it’s about as low on the totem pole as it gets this season and will need all the luck it can find! (Reviews: deck, play)
Breath of Fire
Colours: Red, blue
Set: Magic 2011
Detail: Like all of M11’s decks, Breath of Fire is heavily dominant in one colour with a splash for a second. In this case, it’s a bit of Blue for card drawing, always something Red likes to do given the frequency with which it can run out of cards. With two M11 decks in the division, there’s certainly a friendly rivalry between them to see who can get farther. (Reviews: deck, play)
Colours: Blue, Black
Set: Mirrodin Besieged
Detail: To better reflect the division between Mirran and Phyrexian, Wizards released only four Intro Packs for Mirrodin Besieged, one less than customary. Naturally, each faction had two aligned with them, and Doom Inevitable combines proliferate and the new living weapon cards to stretch card advantage throughout the course of a game. Against Blades of Victory will it be enough? (Reviews: deck, play)
Feast of Flesh
Colours: Black, red
Set: New Phyrexia
Detail: One of the most removal-dense precon decks ever to see print, Feast of Flesh lives up to its name. For the sake of balance, however, much of its removal is conditional so it has something of a ‘feast or famine’ approach. It will likely need every trick in its arsenal to have the best shot of defeating an Archenemy deck in the first round. (Reviews: deck, play)
Colours: Red, Blue
Set: Scars of Mirrodin
Detail: The introduction to the new (at the time) metalcraft mechanic, the removal-light Metalcraft is packed full of artifacts and metalcraft effects. Unfortunately, being limited to the first set of the block means that both are somewhat subpar, lacking the full range of selections to choose from. The deck can struggle some in the early game, but will it be given time to find three artifacts to put into play? (Reviews: deck, play)
Myr of Mirrodin
Set: Scars of Mirrodin
Detail: A mono-White tribal deck, Myr of Mirrodin was quite the surprising construction when unveiled shortly before Scars of Mirrodin’s release. The Myr- a popular tribe from the days of the first Mirrodin set- got an entire deck themed around them, and they’re sure to be keen not to disappoint here. They’re up against Breath of Fire in their opener. (Reviews: deck, play)
Path of Blight
Colours: Green, white
Set: Mirrodin Besieged
Detail: Mirrodin Besieged’s other Phyrexian deck is also in the Tinsman Division, and it’s the second iteration of the infect archetype. This time, Black has been dropped in favour of a more unexpected colour- White- and the results feel like a modest upgrade over the original (Phyrexian Poison). Look for Path to be racking up the poison counters against its first-round foe, Metalcraft. (Reviews: deck, play)
And now to the field of glory!
Doom Inevitable vs Blades of Glory
Doom Inevitable has mana problems early, and gets stuck on two land. Still, it does what it can with a Flayer Husk and Oculus. Despite hitting its drops, Blades gets off to a similarly slow start. Its first creature, a Serra Angel, draws a Doom Blade, then Doom hits its third land and deploys a Phyrexian Rager. Blades gets into the driver’s seat, though, with a Siege Mastodon followed by an Angelic Arbiter and Vengeful Archon. Doom tries every trick it can- such as sacrificing a Fume Spitter for a -1/-1 counter, Disentomb it, sac it again, then Steady Progress to kill a 3/3… and does manage to solve the Archon with a Spread the Sickness… but an alpha strike backed by an Inspired Charge gives Blades the all-important opening win.
This time Doom gets a glut of land, but it’s quite welcome on the back of a pair of Contagion Clasps. The first Clasp kills off an early Infantry Veteran, but the other takes awhile to arrive. In the meantime, Blades gets some beats in with Ajani’s Pridemate and Elite Vanguard. Doom turns things around with a Control Magic on a Cloud Crusader, though, which stalls the board out. The Vengeful Archon returns, but disappears just as quickly beneath a Doom Blade.
While the Angelic Arbiter is a hassle, that second Contagion Clasp arrives and Doom soon proliferates it to death. A Serra Angel is sniped by Spread the Sickness. Still, Armored Ascension on a Silvercoat Lion is painful, but when a Pierce Strider drops Blades to 4 life, a Caustic Hound touches down. With its smallest defender a Serra Angel, Blades can’t even buy itself some time by offering up weenies. In goes the Hound, and out comes victory for Doom Inevitable.
Down to the wire, Doom responds in a big way. While Blades tries to race with an Elite Vanguard, Ajani’s Pridemate, Siege Mastodon, and Infantry Veteran, Doom gets the counter lockdown with a pair of Contagion Clasps, a Skinrender, the Trigon of Corruption, and a Vedalken Anatomist, with a Bonehoard finisher. While an early Pierce Strider draws a Pacifism, once Doom can throw around -1/-1 counters at will and proliferate just as quickly, Blades doesn’t stand a chance.
WINNER: Doom Inevitable
Metalcraft vs Path of Blight
The opener is a nightmare of a game for Path. First it mulls to 6, keeping a promising 1-lander, but by the time it draws its second land its nearly too late. A turn-2 Embersmith followed by a Silver Myr lead into an Argent Sphinx, then a Memnite and Darksteel Axe turn on metalcraft. The Blade-Tribe Berserkers that follow hammer into Path, and it’s all stitched up nicely with a Galvanic Blast. Path’s lonely Plague Myr can do nothing but watch.
A fast early game leads to a rather stalled midgame here. Metalcraft goes into high gear quickly with a Silver Myr, Rusted Relic, and a Snapsail Glider, managing some early abuse against Path. Path, however, leads with a Trigon of Infestation, then wears down Metalcraft with a Tine Shrike, Choking Fumes, Mighty Leap and Unnatural Predation to thin out Metalcraft’s herd. Twin Embersmiths keep Path’s population down, but the Trigon of Infestation also does its part to keep things at a stalemate while Path tops off its life total with a pair of Hunters’ Feasts. Eventually, it wears down Metalcraft with Priests of Norn and a Phyrexian Juggernaut to even the series at one apiece.
A slap-down knuckledusting brawl rounds out the final game of the series. Metalcraft goes for a turn-3 Golem Foundry, then follows up with a Snapsail Glider and Echo Circlet to trun on metalcraft. A second Snapsail gets a third counter on the Foundry in the nick of time- a Phyrexian Hydra comes in on the attack next round. Metalcraft pops off a 3/3 Golem to block, and the Hydra is finished off with a Galvanic Blast.
A third Snapsail lands, but Path now has a Phyrexian Juggernaut and one Rot Wolf after another. Using the Echo Circlet to maximise chump blocks, Metalcraft keeps the pressue up in the skies. Unable to break through the red zone and taking a pounding up above, Path buys tme with a Safe Passage and Banishment Decree, but a Lumengrid Drake (bouncing the Juggernaut) seals the win. A race to the finish!
Assemble the Doomsday Machine vs Feast of Flesh
Both decks open their first game warily cautious. Doomsday has expensive but powerful cards, while Feast can’t seem to find a second source of Red mana. A turn-2 Shrine of Burning Rage solves Doomsday’s first irritant, a Lodestone Golem. A Sanctum Gargoyle falls to a Parasitic Implant, but not before snatching back a Magister Sphinx lost to an early Despise. Doomsday begins deploying a dazzling array of artifacts- a Sorcerer’s Strongbox (which hits on the first attempt to open it), a Metallurgeon, a Synod Sanctum, a Thunderstaff, and finally Lightning Greaves.
Meanwhile, Feast has landed some damage thanks to a turn-3 Phyrexian Rager, but the Thunderstaff takes the teeth out of the attack. A Tormentor Exarch tries to kill off the Metallurgeon, but the would-be victim is snatched away to the Sanctum in response. Still, Feast is not without recourse. Once the Sphinx lands, it’s able to Artillerize in response to the attempt to equip it with the Greaves, sacrificing the 1/1 Myr it has left over from the Parasitic Implant. It finally hits a second Mountain, then vomits out a pair of Flameborn Viron, turning the tide. Doomsday plays a Synod Centurion, girds it with the Greaves and attacks. Feast is knocked down to 4, and a Sundering Titan appears. Doomsday leaves the Greaves on the Centurion and it’s a fatal oversight as Feast Enslaves the Titan to victory.
Doomsday is a deck that tends to favour a slower, build-up-and-dominate approach. A turn-2 Shrine of Burning Rage robs it of the luxury of time, not with ample Red mana to accelerate its growth. A turn-3 Phyrexian Rager gets Feast on the board, while Doomsday contents itself with a turn-1 Æther Spellbomb followed by a Dimir Signet and Leonin Abunas. The Abunas draws a Parasitic Implant, but Doomsday uses the Spellbomb to Unsummon it to safety. A Juggernaut trades with a Scoria Elemental, the Rager gets Flung to kill a Master Transmuter (which gets returned by a Sanctum Gargoyle), but it’s the Flameborn Viron that turns the tide in Feast’s favour.
It attacks, forcing Doomsday to chump the Gargoyle. Doomsday tries to finish the Viron off with an Agony Warp, but Feast sacs it in response to Artillerize Doomsday in the face for 5. Doomsday is now at 11… with an even dozen counters on the Shrine. Doomsday gets one more draw… and folds.
WINNER: Feast of Flesh
Myr of Mirrodin vs Breath of Fire
Each deck shows up ready to win, getting its respective ‘combo’ pieces out and on the board. Myr lands a Myrsmith which draws an immediate Lightning Bolt, but from there plays a Darksteel Axe, Palladium Myr, and then a Myr Galvanizer. But Breath has a Chandra’s Spitfire. A Lava Axe kicks off a 9-damage turn, then an Ember Hauler is added. Lethal is obtained next round with a Call to Mind returning the Lightning Bolt and a popping of the Ember Hauler to throw burn to the face of Myr. A 7/3 Spitfire swings in for victory.
Their back to the ropes and in a must-win situation, Myr starts off solidly with a turn-2 Myrsmith that is capitalised upon in turn by a Gold Myr, a Darksteel Myr, and a Palladium Myr. Breath, however, isn’t worried about chumps- its turn-2 play is a Goblin Tunneler followed by a Fiery Hellhound. The Hellhound with nearly all Mountains behind it gets in for a 6-point battering thanks to the Tunneler, which is tapped to make the Hellhound unblockable before the Hellhound’s power gets pumped.
The Hellhound goes in for 2 the next round as Breath taps out for a Fire Servant. After that, it’s game over with a 10-point Fireball to Myr of Mirrodin’s face followed by another unblockable Hellhound savaging. In one of the most dominating performances of the tournament thus far, Breath of Fire proves why it can be dangerous to underestimate the underdog.
WINNER: Breath of Fire
And that’s all the time we have for today! Eight decks entered, and four decks left- on stretchers. Next week we return to the Tinsman Division and pit these four winners against one another. Three will find their journey at an end, for there can be only one precon deck that claims the right to raise the Tinsman banner on high, and ready itself to take on the Nagle Division winner for a shot at the championship! See you then!