Booster Battle Pack Review (Part 1 of 2)
In the hullabaloo with the impending release of Innistrad and all the spoilers that go with it, the recent launch of a new Magic product- the Booster Battle Pack- seems to have gone largely unnoticed. A new limited product, the phrase “deck of semi-randomized cards” in the marketing blurb got our attention. If they are only semi-randomized, does that make them to some degree planned? And if they’re planned, could that put them in the realm of preconstruction? Close enough, we thought, and picked one up to investigate.
The Pack consists of two cardboard deck boxes, and within each deck are four things. First, a booster pack of Magic 2012. Next, an insert (either the “Booster Battle Pack” tutorial or the ubiquitous “How to Play” one). Finally, there were two plastic-wrapped packs of 10 cards, each containing five cards of a single colour and five corresponding land cards. The object is simple- take your deck of 20 cards, then open the booster and add five more of your choice. Shuffle up, and you’re ready to go! Jimi and I sat down to test them out and put them through their paces.
For my part, my base cards were Red and Green. I opened the Red first, and noted that there were four commons and one uncommon. My base was interesting: a Fiery Hellhound and Firebreathing each gave me a way to turn extra Red mana into damage, though these are always somewhat constrained in a deck playing more than one colour. But aha, a trick! There was a Goblin Tunneler present as well, which gave me some sneakiness as I could make a creature unblockable, attack with it and then pump up its power. Devious!
For my last two cards I was given a bit of threat. A Chandra’s Outrage was my lone spot of burn, and I had a closer in the form of a Volcanic Dragon. A decent start, I then opened up the Green. This was where the real muscle lay, with a Giant Spider, Greater Basilisk, and Sacred Wolf. There were also a pair of creature auras with a Trollhide and Lure. The Lure + Basilisk was the obvious combo here, but the Trollhide was fine as well. This environment is almost guaranteed to be removal-light, so auras would involve less peril to play, which greater chance to enjoy the upside.
Next it was time to pop the booster! Most of them were easy cuts, being off-colour: Aven Fleetwing, Stormfront Pegasus, Dark Favor, Sorin’s Thirst, Phantasmal Bear, an Onyx Mage, and- sorrow of sorrows- a Sun Titan. That aside, this was actually a fiarly fortunate pack as it gave me much to work with.
Giant Spider: I gave a thought to taking a second Spider, but figured I wanted to try and work with the aggression factor the deck was moving me to. For my initial ten cards, it seemed that Red was there to add some shenanigans and support to Green, and a 2/4 Spider just didn’t hit hard enough.
Sacred Wolf: This was an immediate pass. The hexproof is nice, but less so in this format, where Jimi wouldn’t likely be blessed with abundant removal. The 1 Toughness means that it could die to nearly anything, and just wasn’t worth keeping. I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the one I had to take, I certainly wasn’t going to double down on the Wolf.
Llanowar Elves: These, on the other hand, were an easy selection. With the Basilisk and Dragon costing five or more mana each, the ability to deploy them up to several turns earlier was too good to refuse.
Goblin Arsonist: Not that great a body, but that point of burn was a welcome sight to a very bland removal suite. In.
Goblin War Paint: The haste on this, I thought, was fairly worthless. The things that were easy to cast I couldn’t care less if they had haste, and the bigger threats I wouldn’t want to wait around for two more land drops to appear before launching them. Great if it worked out, but if it didn’t that extra +2/+2 was fine by me!
Tectonic Rift: Against a very basic two-colour deck, landkill wasn’t all that appealing. However, like the Arsonist I kept this because of its secondary effect- a Falter with a crowded board could let me swing in for the win. And if I had the option to mana-screw Jimi, so much the better.
Crumbling Colossus: This was my last include, and as the biggest body I could find- and reasonably costed- it was an easy fit. The sacrifice clause was fine- if I could precede it with the Rift or give it extra punch with Firebreathing, it could also set up a win.
And there it was- 25 cards, 40% land, and with a few synergies in place and closers ready to go, I shuffled up and prepared to do battle. For her part, Jimi had also hand-picked five cards from her own booster, and there was no telling what she’d come up with. Join us next time when we pit the decks against one another, and see how they hold up!