Avacyn Restored: Fiery Dawn Review (Part 2 of 2)
It’s our third tilt with the Intro Packs of Avacyn Restored, and Sam’s been waiting patiently for her chance to pilot one. She gets it today with Bound by Strength, acting in the role of opposition to my Fiery Dawn. For my part, it’s a third stab at the Humans tribal deck for the block- how will it stack up to its predecessors?
Sam’s on the play, and leads with a Forest. I play a Mountain, tapping it to deploy my Somberwald Vigilante. Next turn Sam plays an Island and pass, so I swing in on the attack for 1. Having no other play of my own, I pass back.
Now turn 3, Sam plays a second Forest and ends her turn, an encouraging sign. I play a Mountain, then attack in again with the Vigilante. Alas, Sam’s lured him in, and flashes the Wolfir Avenger to kill him. She then swings for 3 of her own, dropping me to 17. I play a Plains, then tap out for a Goldnight Commander.
Things take a turn for the (much) worse on turn 5 as Sam plays a Wolfir Silverheart, soulbonding it to the Avenger. That gives each +4/+4, so she’s suddenly bashing in with a 7/7 Avenger to put me at 10. I play an Elite Vanguard and Thraben Valiant, but inside I know that they’re destined for little more than to be chump-blockers as I stall for an answer. Next turn Sam turns both beaters sideways for 15. I chump the Silverheart with my Avenger, taking a gamble by letting the Avenger through. Luckily, Sam’s not holding a Joint Assault, and I’m clinging to life at 3. Any hope I have of reversing my position is buried when she then plays a Vorstclaw before passing. Over to me, I manage to score 3 damage against her when I play a Kessig Malcontents, but that’s all I’ve got.
Now turn 7, Sam plays a Tandem Lookout, soulbonding it to the Vorstclaw. She swings with all three of her massive beaters, and I chump with all three of my remaining Humans. Drawing nothing, I concede.
I open with a Mountain, while Sam counters with an Island. This time it’s her turn to win the creature race as she summons a Wingcrafter and passes. I next add a Plains and pass, letting Sam swing in for the game’s first blood. She has nothing further to add, however, and she ends her turn. I play a second Mountain, then Sam adds a Trusted Forcemage, soulbonding it to the WIngcrafter. This lets her attack in for 2 in the air, and I go down to 17.
Now turn 4, I blast the Wingcrafter with a Pillar of Flame, removing it from the game. I then summon my first creature, a Thraben Valiant. Back to Sam, she attacks in for 2 with the Forcemage, and I move my spindown to 15. For my part, I counterattack for 2 of my own to take her to 18, then add a Vigilante Justice. Sam’s having little trouble summoning help, however, and adds a Nephalia Smuggler, soulbonding it to the Forcemage. The now-boosted Forcemage then swings in for 3.
Things don’t look good on the board, but my hand tells a different story. I set up a knockout punch with a turn 6 Goldnight Commander, pinging Sam for 1 thanks to the Vigilante Justice in play. Over to her, Sam attacks in again for 3 to put me to 9, then plays a Flowering Lumberknot. The 5/5 body is impressive, but without a free creature to soulbond it to it’s an inert threat. Sam passes, and then I drop the hammer: Thatcher Revolt. This immediately triggers 3 damage, which I direct at the Trusted Forcemage to kill it. I swing with the team for a staggering 19 damage. Sam chumps the Valiant with her Smuggler, but 14 damage still get through. Rocked and reeling at 3 life, she desperately tries to find a chump block with a Lair Delve, but the Deadeye Navigator she pulls with it is too costly to be cast and she concedes.
The game’s first play in our final clash comes with Sam’s turn-2 Runeclaw Bear, which I follow with a Kruin Striker. Next turn Sam attacks in for 2 and follows with a Lair Delve, pulling a Vorstclaw at the expense of a Joint Assault. I play a Manic Vandal, then attack for 3 with the Striker.
Things begin to heat up on turn 4. Sam summons a Druid’s Familiar, soulbonding it to her Runeclaw Bear. She then swings in for 4 with the emboldened bear, leaving me at 14 life and in need of answers. Back to me, I play a Kessig Malcontents, dealing another 3 damage to Sam directly. Next turn, Sam swings in with both Bears for 8. I trade out the Vandal and Striker to kill off the Familiar, going down to 10. Sam then plays a backbreaker, destroying my only Plains with an Acidic Slime. With a five-drop Zealous Conscripts in hand, every land drop is crucial. Luckily, I topdeck a replace-ment and use it to bring out a Moorland Inquisitor.
Now turn 6, Sam brings out a Trusted Forcemage, soulbonding it to the widowed Runeclaw Bear. She attacks with the Bear and Slime, and I go down to 5 life. Back to me, I add a Mountain and play my Goldnight Commander. My Thatcher Revolt is in hand, waiting to be unleashed.
I don’t get the chance. Sam attacks in on turn 7 with everything she has, and I have to make some trades to stay alive. I swap the Inquisitor for her Slime, then chump the Runeclaw Bear with my Kruin Striker. Down two creatures, I’m left at 2 life. The Thatcher Revolt now isn’t nearly enough, and I scoop after the draw.
Thoughts & Analysis
After two reviews extolling the virtues of the slower-paced Avacyn Restored environment, getting to play four games at full throttle was a very pleasant surprise. The games certainly felt much quicker, though a review of the previous notes show in general they resolved only a couple of turns faster. What a difference, then, in having two explosive decks pitted against one another can make! Although laden with a heavy mana curve, Sam showed how surprising Bound by Strength could be when you find your Wolfir Silverheart early. By the same token, I found Fiery Dawn felt almost like an Event Deck in its quickness off the line. It bears mention that the pregame friendly was over nearly before it began, again with a Goldnight Commander/Thatcher Revolt combination.
We’ve remarked many times on the particular charm of a feast/famine deck, one that is absolutely bonkers when everything lines up but can be frustrating to play when they don’t. Fiery Dawn is certainly such a deck. It’s a solid enough tribal humans deck, though its heaviness at the three-drop slot gives fair warning as to what’s in store. It’s certainly helpful to compare it to its other in-block tribal counterparts, Innistrad’s Repel the Dark and the Event Deck Hold the Line. Both were more aggressively-costed, with Repel the Dark running an opening curve (1, 2, and 3 CMC creatures) of 5-9-6 and Hold the Line boasting a blitzkrieg at 11-5-6. Compare this with the upwards slope of Fiery Dawn, 3-6-9, and it becomes clear that “fiery” is what the deck is capable of being, but not what you’re necessarily going to see.
That said, I found Fiery Dawn a lot more fun than Repel the Dark. Here’s what we concluded about the latter in its review:
It has a strong weenie/swarm component to overwhelm your opponent early, but the synergies within the deck help construct for you an end-game win path as well…
If there’s a weakness here, it is one not dissimilar from Carnival of Blood. Here’s a ton of creature cards and some nifty tricks, but if you want pinpoint removal, well, best of luck to ye. Like Carnival, Repel asks you to do most of your work in the red zone, and could be easily improved with the improvement of its removal suite.
Congratulations, Humans- you got your removal suite.
Hits: Fantastic tribal flavour- this is the pick of the litter for Innistrad block Human decks; Thatcher Revolt lives up to its distinctive billing by having several avenues of support, from Goldnight Commander to Vigilante Justice; capable of absolutely explosive wins out of nowhere if you can assemble its combo. Solid burn/removal suite.
Misses: Although it has the tools for an explosive finish, the deck is vulnerable to petering out in the mid-game to late-game. While there are some handy ways to get reach after the red zone stalls out (Vigilante Justice, Kessig Malcontents), the deck only really approximates the power of Repel the Dark’s Overrun with a two-card combo or a fortuitously-timed Cathars’ Crusade.
OVERALL SCORE: 4.50/5.00