2005-2007 Precon Championships: Tinsman Division (Part 1 of 2)
We’re already two weeks in to the 2005-07 Preconstructed Championships, and what a battle it’s been! With Endless March eagerly waiting for an opponent to determine the future of the Rosewater Conference, we next turn to the Conference’s other Division, the Tinsman! This week and next the eight competitors will be battling it out for the chance to go all the way- Conference champions destined for the finals. But we’re getting well ahead of ourselves, for first we must see who’s going to advance past the opening round! With a mortality rate of 50%, the decks lining up at the gates today are going to need every weapon in their arsenals, every trick in their books… and maybe even just a little luck to go with it!
And with that, let’s take a look at the Tinsman Division’s bracket this season:
The turnout for our Prediction League this season has been impressive, and competition for the ultimate prize package is stiff! Let’s get the battles underway!
The Teams to Beat
The Tinsman Division is a mixed bag with decks from most sets represented, giving us a full range of matches. Before we head down to the arena, let’s begin with a closer look at the contenders!
Detail: A tribal-themed Red/Green Beats deck, Ice Age’s Aurochs see their tribe increase! With a number of new Aurochs creatures appearing in Coldsnap, there are more than enough to put a hurt on any opponent. This deck uses a colour combination well-known for ramping into large creatures and burning down anything that stands in their way- will the Aurochs see the other decks fall beneath their hooves? (review: deck, play)
Detail: The official theme deck of the Ravnican senate, the Azorious are masters of tying up their opponents in bureaucratic red tape. In this deck, that means stalling and tapping to buy time, before taking wing with a legion of flyers to reduce their opponent’s life total from 20 to 0 in short order. With the forecast guild mechanic, the guild can stockpile virtual card advantage until victory is inevitable! (review: deck, play)
Set: 9th Edition
Detail: Our sole Core Set representative here is the mono-Green Custom Creatures deck. The deck’s premise is simple- play some efficient creatures, then soup them up with all sorts of creature auras. This can give the deck some impressive early options- but also leaves it vulnerable to getting two-for-oned by its opponent. Can it press its luck and see the match through? (reviews: not available)
Set: Future Sight
Detail: This deck is a fortuneteller’s dream. Packed with cards that feature or interact with the scry mechanic, Fate Blaster looks to meddle with the future to give it victory in the present. A heavy card-advantage deck, can it bend the course of events in its favour? (reviews: not available)
Set: Future Sight
Detail: Another Red/Green combat deck and the second from Future Sight, this is a theme deck with a gimmick. Comprised of nothing but “futureshifted” cards, which were intended to be glimpses into the game’s possible futures, it nevertheless holds true to its archetype’s fundamentals- accelerated mana, fat creatures. Will it have what it needs for victory, or will it prove to be all style and no substance? (reviews: not available)
Set: Planar Chaos
Detail: This deck takes its name from Ixidor, one of the characters of Onslaught block’s storyline. A master of illusion, this deck pays him fitting tribute, stuffed to the brim with morph creatures. Opposing decks will be kept guessing as it deploys one morph after another, only revealing them when it’s too late to stop them! (review: deck, play)
Detail: The Selesnya guild is aboutthe harmony that comes from a sense of community- and this deck has just that! With plenty of token-making cards as well as the strong convoke ability which lets untapped creatures reduce the mana cost of larger spells and summons, the Selenya know that working together makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts. (review: deck, play)
Detail: One of Ice Age’s signature mechanics was the snow-covered lands, and Snowscape looks to abuse it to the point of breaking! With defensive-minded creatures to deploy in the early game, the deck then starts playing creatures and effects that get stronger with more snow-covered lands in play. With a significant number of its troops featuring evasion, can it put the freeze on its opponents? (reviews: deck, play)
Aurochs Stampede (CSP) vs Custom Creatures (9ed)
As any fan of football will tell you, when you line up a 4-4-2 against an opposing 4-4-2, it comes down to who has the stronger players in the individual matchups. So it is with Aurochs Stampede vs Custom Creatures. Custom gets a slow start out of the gate, leading with a Norwood Ranger, but topdecking a Verduran Enchantress gives it a much-needed boost. Soon to follow are Bottle Gnomes and an Elvish Warrior.
Meanwhile, the Aurochs herd is coming together. An early Boreal Druid helps set up a Frostweb Spider and Bull Aurochs, but when the Stampede begins tutoring up reinforcements with three Aurochs Herds in a row followed by Rimehorns, Custom is in serious trouble. It buys some time with an Emperor Crocodile girded with Regeneration and a last-ditch Craw Wurm, but when the Aurochs fire out from the gate and attack en masse, Custom falls beneath the hooves.
Custom Creatures is determined to give a proper accounting for itself, and leads with a Wurm’s Tooth. Against a fellow Green deck, it reaps a ton of life over the course of the game. Almost nothing else matters- not Stampede’s growing army of Aurochs, a Deadly Insect, Boreal Druid, or Frostweb Spider. Not its own supporting defense of a Giant Spider, Elvish Warrior, Bottle Gnomes, or late-to-the-party Emperor Crocodile. No, all that matters is the early Elvish Warrior, first enchanted with Treetop Bracers, then given Blanchwood Armor. Against that, Aurochs cannot stand.
To have any chance of advancing, Custom Creatures needs to do exactly what it did in the last game, except maybe bigger and faster. Aurochs lands a pair of its namesake creatures almost immediately, with a Gorilla Shaman and Tinder Wall following right behind. Custom deploys some early Elves with the Norwood Ranger and Elvish Warrior, but a turn-3 Verduran Enchantress helps enable a next-turn Trained Armodon being gifted with the Treetop Bracers and Blanchwood Armor. Custom rides to victory on the back of a 9/9 unblockable Elephant.
WINNER: Custom Creatures (9ED)
Snowscape (CSP) vs Future Shock (FUT)
Future Shock keeps a risky opener with a couple Mountains and an Edge of Autumn, and it pays off- with a first-draw Forest, its in good shape. It follows with a turn-4 Imperiosaur, threatening from the outset.
Luckily, Snowscape has its defenses in order, with an early Rimebound Dead and Rimewind Taskmage. Future Shock has to overpower in the red zone, and adds a Sporoloth Ancient, Nessian Courser, and Grinning Ignus. On the other side of the table, though, Snowscape has time to add a Zombie Musher, stick a Snow Devil on it, and play a Chilling Shade next to it, while consigning the Imperiosaur to a wasting death with an Essence Flare.
Still, the slow kill on the Imperiosaur gives the Sporoloth Ancient plenty of growing time, and after a trio of 1/1 Saprolings touch down, Future Shock lands Baru, Fist of Krosa with a Forest in hand. Alongside a recenty-added Centaur Omenreader (a Snow Creature, to boot), Future Shock alpha strikes for lethal.
Snowscape again manages to build up formidable defenses as it deploys the Rimebound Dead and Rimewind Taskmage tandem, along with a Chilling Shade and Legions of Lim-Dûl with a Snow Devil. It has no welcome sight on the other side of the table as Future Shock uses the time to marshal its forces. A Spellwild Ouphe draws an early Essence Flare to kill it off, then it cheats out a Quagnoth with the aid of a Grinning Ignus. Still, its best play is the Sporoloth Ancient, which is locked down by the Taskmage.
Future Shock lands an Emblem of the Warmind and Dryad Arbor, but can’t solve Snowscape’s defenses. It doesn’t get much time- once Snowscape is ready, it kills Future Shock in two swings thanks to a glut of land and a massive Chilling Shade alongside the Legions.
Everything goes Future Shock’s way- at least at first. A turn-2 Edge of Autumn precedes a Thornweald Archer. A Ghostfire is on hand to pick off a Viscerid Drone. A Sporoloth Ancient follows, giving a solid board presence to the Red/Green deck. For Snowscape’s part, it gets the critical early Rimewind Taskmage to slow things down alongside a Legions of Lim-Dul, but the real brakes get applied when it drops the Drifts of the Dead. With a Chill to the Bone to stop the Sporoloth in its tracks before it can grow too many Saprolings, it looks to have established another tight defensive perimeter.
Still, it doesn’t have a lot of the way of counterattacking force yet, and Future Shock keeps building up. It turns the corner with a Skizzik Surger, which slips past the Drift on its first turn before another snow land sees the Drift gets insurmountably larger. Then Shock manages to join together a Bloodshot Trainee and Flowstone Embrace, letting it pick off the nettlesome Taskmage. Saprolings from a replacement Sporoloth (as well as a couple from the first) become a real threat when Boru, Fist of Krosa lands, and next turn a Forest enables a massive, board-clearing swing. Snowscape holds on at 3 life, but it can’t find an answer in time.
WINNER: Future Shock (FUT)
Fate Blaster (FUT) vs Selesnya United (RAV)
Fate Blaster has shenanigans for days, but can’t seem to deal with the endless stream of 1/1 Saproling tokens that the Selesnya produce. It lands some early bodies with a Stingscourger and Barbed Shocker, the latter providing a nice surprise. Meanwhile, the Selesnya token generation engine is in full crank. Vitu-Ghazi, a couple of Fists of Ironwood, and a Scion of the Wild later, and Fate Blaster is pulling every trick it can to get rid of 1/1’s. When the 5/5 Scion trundles in, it gang-blocks with the Stingscourger and Shocker, then uses Venser’s Diffusion to kill off a Saproling, forcing an all-around trade.
A Selesnya Evangel becomes the next threat, and the hordes of Saprolings pick up where the Scion left off, getting Fate Blaster to 2 life before its able to stabilize. An Uthden Troll, Blind Phantasm, and another Stingscourger appear, congesting the red zone and forcing the Selesnya to spend their turns growing their army. Fate Blaster is even able to mount a few opportunistic attacks with an Aven Augur before being forced to sacrifice it to pick off a couple Saprolings. All Selesnya needs to do is sneak a single creature past, and the game can be taken on the back of a Gather Courage.
Fate Blaster starts to break even once it finds a Vedalken Æthermage, using it to tutor up the Magus of the Future. With the ability to play off the top of its library, Fate Blaster starts picking off Saprolings with Spin into Myths and Riddle of Lightning. Selesnya keeps the proliferation pressure on, and Fate Blaster takes a gamble by sending most of its army in. At 7 life Selesnya has to block many of them, culling its army and going to 3 life. Thanks to a Cryptic Annelid, Fate Blaster finds an Emberwilde Augur, putting the Conclave on a 1-turn clock until it plays a Phalanx.
Fate Blaster hits the point where- with all the scrying its done- everything left in its dwindling library is land. It brings out its last hope- a Boldwyr Intimidator. Churning through its land-filled library with a Mystic Speculation to find that crucial eighth Mountain, it makes every creature on Selesnya’s board a Coward and sends the Intimidator right on through. It repeats the trick next turn, alpha striking to sqeak out a win. Fate Blaster steals it with a seven-card library remaining- all of them land.
Fate Blaster leads with an Emberwilde Augur followed by a Cryptic Annelid, which lets it set up its next sequence of plays. As luck has it, the Conclave are struggling, unable to find a Forest. Fate Blaster adds an Uthden Troll and Sage of Epityr, surprisingly finding itself in the beatdown seat. The creature rush is just too much, and when the Conclave lands its first creature- a Caregiver– it’s not enough to buy it any more time. Fate Blaster sighs a deep sigh of relief, and advances to the next round.
WINNER: Fate Blaster (FUT)
Azorius Ascendant (DIS) vs Ixidor’s Legacy (PLC)
The Azorius lead with a pair of Beacon Hawks for a steady stream of aerial damage, while Ixidor’s tries to get off the ground. It begins with a Dream Stalker, then a morphed Fledgling Mawcor. The Mawcor’s a lucky deployment, as next turn the Azorius enchant a Beacon Hawk with an Ocular Halo for extra card drawing. Ixidor’s unveils the Mawcor the very next turn to kill off the enchanted Bird. It then struggles to find a fourth Island, so it grudgingly plays and unmorphs a Fathom Seer– wouldn’t you know it, two Islands. It pitches one of them and an Ovinomancer to get down to seven cards.
Still, too little too late as the Azorius take full advantage of the time given it. It adds a third Hawk, a Mistral Charger, and a Tidewater Minion alongside a Soulsworn Jury, solving the Mawcor immediately with a Faith’s Fetters.
Ixidor’s sets out a morphed Shaper Parasite, and eventually rescues the Mawcor with a second Dream Stalker, but just as it looks to stabilize, the Azorius tap down the Mawcor with a forecasted Plumes of Peace. With a Wakestone Gargoyle leading the way, the Azorius swing for lethal in the sky.
Both of these decks are ones that love to durdle, taking turn after turn to do their own little tricks and shenanigans. Like a Beacon Hawk with the Halo of Eyes, attacking and drawing a card each round- especially when you cast To Arms! to draw two extra cards on the turn. Ixidor’s, meanwhile, gets to ponder the weighty questions of the day, like: when is the right time to unmorph a Fathom Seer? Howabout three of them?
That’s not to say they don’t interact- Ixidor’s has the pleasure of Pongifying Isperia the Inscrutable as soon as she hits the board- but mainly it plays morphs like the Willbender and Aquamorph Entity while the Azorius do what they do best with a Minister of Impediments, Soulsworn Jury, and Mistral Charger, locking things down with Plumes of Peace and Faith’s Fetters.
It’s a close one right down to the wire, with the Azorius going down to 1 life (right before it gets a lifeline from the aforementioned Fetters), then starts using a Paladin of Prahv to give its Mistral Charger lifelink. Still, Ixidor’s can’t seem to find enough substantive things to do with itself. Sadly, the best it can come up with is a Primal Plasma. It can’t keep pace, and the Azorius take this one in two straight.
WINNER: Azorius Ascendant (DIS)
Eight decks entered, four decks leave. It’s a cruel and harsh tournament, but here there are no second chances. We’ll be back next week to determine the final winner for the Tinsman Division who will contest for dominance of the Rosewater Conference, and with it the right to play in the Finals! Check back in a few days for our next Prediction League update!