Magic 2013: Repeat Performance Review (Part 2 of 2)
We’re back with our continuing Magic 2013 coverage as we unwrap the Event Deck boxes and prepare to do battle. cross the table from me sits Sam, shuffling up the flashback-heavy Sweet Revenge. For my part, I’m ready to go with a deck that’s nearly all creatures, Repeat Performance. Two decks, virtually the mirror opposite of one another. Which strategy will get the upper hand?
The match gets underway with me on the play, and I open with an Avacyn’s Pilgrim off of a Forest. Sam uses her starting Mountain to fuel a Faithless Looting, discarding a pair of Desperate Ravings. Next turn I follow with a Razorverge Thicket, letting me play an early Attended Knight. All Sam can manage is an Evolving Wilds, which gets cracked for an Island.
Now turn 3, I swing with the team for 4 and pass, compelling Sam to wipe the board with a Slagstorm. Back to me, I start rebuilding right away with a replacement Avacyn’s Pilgrim, ending my turn. Sam deploys an Armored Skaab, flipping a pair of lands, a Forbidden Alchemy, and a Think Twice into the graveyard.
My turn 5 is a blank, while Sam manages to stick her Burning Vengeance. She then attacks for 1 with the Skaab and passes. The next turn is a repeat of the last, with me blanking and Sam landing a second Burning Vengeance and attack.
Now turn 7, I put down a second Razorverge Thicket and end turn. Sam flashes back a Think Twice, sending 2 damage to the Pilgrim and 2 to my face to leave me at 16. She then attacks with the Skaab and passes. With a hand of vulnerable or conditional options, all I can do is pass and hope to draw something that can survive the double Vengeance. Sam deploys a Fettergeist, then attacks for 1 with the Skaab t put me at 14.
I finally move on turn 9, killing off the Fettergeist with a Stingerfling Spider I’ve been holding. A third Burning Vengeance, however, all but insures I’ve lost this game. Sam flashes back a Faithless Looting, sending 6 damage straight at me while discarding a Geistflame and an Island. My turn 10 Blade Splicer is just renting space, and she doesn’t even notice my 2-point attack. Sam hits me for 2 with a Pillar of Flame, then finishes me off by flashing back the Geistflame.
Again I find the necessary mana dork to kick things off as best as I can, landing a Llanowar Elves. Sam casts Faithless Looting, ptching a Desperate Ravings and Faithless Looting. Next turn I Lead the Stampede, hitting paydirt- a Blade Splicer, Roaring Primadox, and Fiend Hunter. For Sam’s part, she Thinks Twice and passes. Next turn I attack for 1 with the Elves, then bring out the Blade Splicer. Sam plays a Darkslick Shores, then brings out her opening Burning Vengeance.
Now turn 4, I attack in for 4 with the Golem and Splicer tandem. I then follow with the Roaring Primadox. All this draws the first Slagstorm from Sam, killing my Elves, Splicer, and Golem token. A Pillar of Flame finishes off the Primadox, and I’m back at square one. Next turn I play an Elvish Visionary and Llanowar Elves to get back on my feet. Sam brings out the Firewing Phoenix.
I solve the Burning Vengeance on turn 6 with an Acidic Slime, then pass since I can’t favourably attack through Sam’s Phoenix. Over to Sam, she hits the reset button again with a Rolling Temblor, three-for-one’ing me. She then casts Faithless Looting, pitching a Think Twice and Fettergeist. To top it off, the Phoenix flies in for 4, taking me to 16. Back to me, I summon an Avacyn’s Pilgrim and pass. Sam attacks for another 4, then adds a Fettergeist.
Now turn 8, I kill the Fettergeist with the Stingerfling Spider, then pass turn. Sam simply flashes back a Think Twice and ends her turn. Next turn I add a Roaring Primadox, but Sam answers it with a lethal Red Sun’s Zenith.
A turn-10 Borderland Ranger puts me up a Plains, but it’s all I can do. Sam attacks for 4 with her Phoenix, and I block with the Spider. She then follows with a Rolling Temblor, once more clearing the board. Next turn, however, I find something she can’t solve so easily: Thragtusk. Sam returns the Phoenix to hand, then plays a Forbidden Alchemy (pitching, notably, another Forbidden Alchemy and a Desperate Ravings into the graveyard).
Now turn 12, I swing for 5 with Thragtusk to drop Sam to 10. I then follow with a Borderland Ranger and Attended Knight. Back to Sam, she flashes back a Think Twice, then replays her Phoenix. Next turn, though, I simply solve the Phoenix with the Fiend Hunter I’ve been holding all this time for just the occasion. I swing for the kill with the team, though Sam manages to Geistflame the 1/1 Soldier token to cling on for one more draw. Finding nothing, she concedes.
It’ Sam’s turn to kick things off, and she starts with an Island followed by a Mountain. For me, it’s a second-turn Attended Knight enabled by a leading Avacyn’s Pilgrim.
Sam manages an Armored Skaab to keep a lid on the red zone on turn 3, milling off a Burning Vengeance, a Think Twice, and a pair of land. I return with a Lead the Stampede, picking up a Sunblast Angel, a Geist-Honored Monk, and a Raging Primadox. Next turn Sam finds a Swamp off of an Evolving Wilds, then plays a Burning Vengeance. I manage to outpace her, however, with the Geist-Honored Monk, a 6/6 thank to the pair of Spirits she brings with her.
Now turn 5, Sam blasts the board with a Rolling Temblor, killing off my Pilgrim, Knight, and Soldier token. Back to me, I snipe her enchantment with an Acidic Slime, then attack in for 6 with the Monk and Spirits to put Sam to 14. Sam’s next turn is a lamentable blank, getting in a single point of damage from the Skaab. I follow with a Roaring Primadox and Avacyn’s Pilgrim, letting me swing for 10 with the Monk and friends. Sam Geistflames a 1/1 Spirit to reduce the incoming damage by 2, but still sits at 6.
She then digs for an answer with a turn-7 Faithless Looting, pitching a Forbidden Alchemy and Desperate Ravings. A Fettergeist comes down, and she ends her turn. Back to me, I return the Slime to satisfy the Primadox, then replay it to destroy Sam’s only Island- the look on her face is one to savour. I attack in for 9 with the side, and Sam gang-blocks the Primadox with her Fettergeist and Skaab to kill it. I opt to trade for her Fettergeist. At 1 life, Sam draws, then scoops.
Thoughts & Analysis
What a blast! Both the pregame friendly match as well as our opener were dominated by Sam’s deck, which I had somewhat underestimated in the matchup. Even with the matches I won, her deck performed admirably, able to dictate the pace of my creature deployment throughout the engagement thanks to her supply of sweepers. All four games we played were very much dictated by the contents of her deck.
That said, my early fears that I might actually be the one outclassed proved to be groundless as I took the second two matches, the final one quite handily. As you’d expect, much of it hinged upon the ability of my deck to ramp into something sufficiently fat quickly enough, and from there put her on the back-foot. Thanks to a generous supply of mana dorks, I was able to do precisely that, finding at least one and at times as many as three in my hand at any given time. Criticisms of the deck may well be aimed at its choice of strategy, but there’s little flaw with its execution. Against decks with more pinpoint removal that don’t pack in board resets, you’ll be able to pull ahead in raw advantage fairly reliably.
As far as a fun factor goes, the deck charts quite highly there as well. Event Decks aren’t typically balanced against one another- we’ve seen times where one deck happens to have a fairly solid edge over the other, since both are balanced against content restrictions and a generalised metagame that the Wizards R&D team have selected. But in this case, these decks were superb against one another, and we were reminded more than once of Duel Decks.
Despite the overwhelming creature presence in Repeat Performance, the deck actually gives you something of the best of both. You get the satisfaction of squeezing massive beaters onto the table early and applying some serious beatdown, to be certain. But there’s enough intricacy and synergy to give the feeling of craftiness and combo as well. The prospect of eroding Sam’s land one Acidic Slime at a time thanks to the Roaring Primadox, for instance, was very compelling, but fortunately for Sam she ran out of life before she ran out of land.
To the other side of the ledger, the deck does struggle to deal with what your opponent puts on the table. Since at its heart it wants your opponent to try and respond to what you play, when the reverse is called for its not especially reliable. Burning Vengeance- or most anything else- has a good chance of sticking.
Hits: Loads of fun to play, combining best of stompy with some combo shenanigans; good array of unique and useful effects
Misses: A bit shaky and unreliable in reacting to your opponent’s plays
OVERALL SCORE: 4.75/5.00