Invasion: Blowout Review (Part 2 of 2)
For our last foray into the world of Invasion, Jimi’s put her hand up to try and take me down with Spectrum, the set’s five-colour affair. For my part I’m taking Blowout, which is a Red/Black disruption and burn deck with a solid complement of creatures. Will she be able to power up her domain cards, or will she fall to cinders before getting the chance?
For our opening game, Jimi opts to be on the play and begins with a Plains, while I trail with a Swamp. Next turn she adds a Forest, and my answering Mountain lets me tap out for the game’s first beater, a Shivan Zombie. Adding a second Forest on turn 3, Jimi passes and braces for impact as my Zombie lurches across the red zone to claw her for 2. Having added another Swamp, I then deploy a second Shivan Zombie and end my turn.
Now turn 4, Jimi plays a fourth land- and a third Forest- giving some indication of the problems the five-colour Spectrum can get into in the early game if you don’t draw any mana fixing. I attack for 4 with the Zombies, then drop a Ravenous Rats. Jimi assesses her hand, goes into the tank, and discards a Probe. She catches a small break next turn when she draws and deploys a Thornscape Apprentice, who can blunt some of the offense she’s facing with its tapping ability. Going all-in in response, I attack with both Zombies and the Rats. Jimi blocks one of the Zombies with her Apprentice, which gets Waxed to prevail in the encounter. With her now at 11 life, I somewhat belatedly Addle her hand, declaring Green. Jimi’s hand carries only two Green cards, both of them Kavu Climbers, but she also has a Tribal Flames and a Zanam Djinn. I wrap things up with a Thunderscape Apprentice and pass.
Jimi finally catches a break on turn 6 when she draws a Harrow, turning one of her excess Forests into a Mountain and Island. Back to me, she uses her Apprentice to tap down my remaining Zombie. I send in the Rats to nibble away for 1, then use my own Apprentice to drain Jimi for 1 more life. Finally, I add another Ravenous Rats, happy to see Jimi pitch away her Zanam Djinn to the graveyard. That still leaves the Kavu Climber, and she plays that the very next turn. I match it with a Vicious Kavu. As I’ve also had a mana-light game, that taps me out and leaves me unable to afford the Apprentice’s drain this turn.
With another Harrow on turn 8, Jimi achieves domain. She then taps down my Vicious Kavu at the start of my turn, but I attempt to keep some pressure on with a Maniacal Rage on the Shivan Zombie. At 9 life Jimi is compelled to answer, and she uses the Tribal Flames in her hand to kill it. Next turn she finally goes on the offensive, mounting a 3-point attack with the Kavu Climber. A Yavimaya Barbarian then reinforces her board, and she passes. As she’ll continue to do, Jimi taps down my Vicious Kavu, and I tap out to play a Trench Wurm. No attack from me this turn.
Now turn 10, Jimi looks to have stalled out the board some, giving herself a bit of breathing room. That’s only increased when she deploys another Thornscape Apprentice, giving her the ability to lock down two of my attackers. With the Kavu on lockdown, I attack for 3 with the Wurm, then follow that up with a ping from the Apprentice to leave Jimi at 5. I then add a Cinder Shade and pass. Back to Jimi, she enchants a Forest with a Fertile Ground, attacking for 3 more with her Kavu. I take it, and am down to 14. Next turn, she locks down both my Vicious Kavu and my Wurm, so I attack with my Cinder Shade and the pair of Rats. She blocks my Shade with her Barbarian, forcing me to pump it to kill her Elf. She takes 2 from the Rats, and a further 1 from my Apprentice.
Sadly, unable to deal with my life-draining Apprentice, even Jimi’s turn-12 Halam Djinn is too little, too late.
Once again, Jimi leads with a Plains, but this time around she has a much more promising start with a turn-2 Fertile Ground and another on turn 3 to enable a Thornscape Apprentice and turn-4 Kavu Climber. All told, a very solid start. For my part, I come out of the gate just as decisively. I land an opening-turn Thunderscape Apprentice, followed by a Shivan Zombie and a Hooded Kavu before blasting the nettlesome Thornscape Apprentice on turn 4 with a Scorching Lava before it can untap.
By the time we enter turn 5, Jimi’s taken the brunt of the beats and finds herself at 15 life, while I as yet am untouched. Jimi uses her turn to bring out a Yavimaya Barbarian, then takes the opportunity to kill the Hooded Kavu with an Assault. With her down to one card in hand, I dither a bit on my Addle but in the end cast it and select Green. Alas, it’s a Tribal Flames, which only reinforces that old schoolboy test-day lesson of “go with your first instinct.” Having whiffed on it, I make up for it with a Maniacal Rage on my Zombie, turning it sideways for 4. Jimi lets it pass, going down to 11.
Next turn, Jimi plays a Fires of Yavimaya, then sends in her Barbarian and Kavu to put me down to 15. I attack back for another 4, then ping Jimi with my Apprentice to leave her at 6 before playing a second Tunderscape Apprentice. Like the first game, a ground stall only works to my advantage as I quickly run down Jimi’s life with my Apprentices. She does go out with a bang, though, with a turn-9 attack for five (adding 2 more when she pops her enchantment) plus a 4-point Tribal Flames leaves me on death’s door with 4 life, but the game is mine.
Our final match, and Jimi is looking to salvage some dignity by dodging the broom. She opens with a Swamp, which I meet with a Mountain. She then ramps with a Fertile Ground on turn 2 after dropping a Forest, while I trot out an early Addle. I name Green again, and find Jimi’s hand stuffed with a pair of Quirion Trailblazers, a Probe, a Spite // Malice, and another Forest. Easy decision- off goes a Trailblazer.
Now turn 3, Jimi plays the Forest and remaining Traiblazer, fetching up an Island. For my part, I respond with a Vicious Kavu. However, Jimi decides that turnabout is fair play next turn, casting a kicked Probe. I have to thin a packed hand, and finally discard both of my Kavu Aggressors. For her part, Jimi pitches a Spite // Malice (which is neutered somewhat as it is with the high quantity of Black creatures in my deck), then a Wax // Wane. Back to me, I play an Urborg Volcano to bring my land count up to four, then attack for 4 with the Vicious Kavu.
Jimi trumps me again on turn 5 when she adds the Sabertooth Nishoba after a 1-point counterattack with her Trailblazer. I answer with a Hooded Kavu, which isn’t much of an answer. She then breaks my back with a Global Ruin. Jimi- at five land- loses only a Forest, while I go from four lands to only two- a textbook asymmetrical blowout. Jimi then adds insult to injury by playing another Island, then attacks for 6 with the Nishoba and Trailblazer to leave me at 14. There’s not much I can do, but I do kill off the Trailblazer with a Scorching Lava before attacking for another 6.
At 10 life, Jimi decides to hold off on attacking, and deploys a Thornscape Apprentice on turn 7. I kill it with a feeble Ghitu Fire after playing another Swamp, then activate the Hooded Kavu’s fear ability to drop Jimi to 8 life. Back to her, she attacks in again for another massive, 5-point hit, then shores up her defenses with a Voracious Cobra. That’s all she needs, as we then race through with our creatures. I hit her for 2 a turn with the Hooded Kavu, while she pounds back with the Nishoba. I scoop on turn 9.
Thoughts & Analysis
Overall it wasn’t hard to walk away from Blowout with a feeling of satisfaction- it did it’s job, and it did it fairly well. All credit to Jimi on Game Three- sticking a closer then smashing my manabase was a combination most any deck would be hard-pressed to deal with, but I was able to do exactly what I needed to in the first two games. I hit at Jimi’s hand, had burn for her creatures (and her, if needed), and was able to apply a steady stream of beats from the third turn onwards between the Shivan Zombies and the Kavu. And if the red zone became too congested- as it did- the Thunderscape Apprentices even gave the deck a source of repeatable damage with reach.
Indeed, it might be fair to say that the biggest weakness of Blowout- and, by extension, Invasion’s theme decks- is in the flavour department. From top to bottom, they had a rather bland, even generic feel to them. Perhaps we’ve just been spoiled on loads of Vorthos-y goodness in modern times- cards like the Phyrexian Slayer and Reaper, for instance, don’t seem all that scary or menacing anymore after we’ve just watched the plane of Mirrodin get infested from within and overrun from without. Sad to say, Jimi rather summed it up in the final game when she sighed, “Another Kavu? I’m tired of looking at Kavus,” after I played the Vicious one.
But flavour aside, if it’s a solid, sturdy disruption-beats-n-removal deck you’re after, you could do a lot worse than Blowout. Discard is a strategy which occasionally teeters on the verge of land destruction, where it’s deemed “too unfun” to be heavily supported. It’s a lot of fun to pilot a deck where it’s a major theme, but balanced enough that if it doesn’t connect you still have plenty of other options to menace your opponent with. The real marquee subtheme here is the burn, and there’s plenty of it on offer.
Pros: Good subtheme development with solid support- all three major tactics of the deck have a good complement of cards; colour-hosing theme continues to work in a very colour-intensive set
Cons: A bit bland and ininspiring, flavour-wise, but no different from the rest of the set in that regard
OVERALL SCORE: 4.20/5.00