Morningtide: Warrior’s Code Review (Part 2 of 2)
Where mysticism fails, is it force that prevails? That’s the question on our minds as we sit down for another Morningtide playtest. I’m piloting the Red/Green Warrior’s Code, while Sam opts for the more contemplative Green/White/Black Shamanism. Two very different approaches- which one will claim victory?
Astutely seeing the threat, Sam spends her turn 3 Lignifying it. Thwarted from a fast start, I play an Obsidian Battle-Axe and pass. Next turn, Sam hits her kinship and gets a 2/2 Wolf token off the Shaman. She then follows with a Leaf-Crowned Elder, and passes her turn. Back to me, I play a second Obsidian Battle-Axe, then summon a Mudbutton Clanger. Equipping both Axes to it, I turn it sideways for 5 to drop Sam to 15 in a stroke.
Now turn 5, Sam misses on her kinship trigger, but happily summons a Moonglove Changeling. Thus fortified, she sends in her Elder, Shaman, and Wolf to smack me back for 7. Back to me, I hit kinship, making the Clanger a 2/2, then swing in with it. Sam takes the hit since she has no Black mana source to give her Changeling deathtouch, and drops to 6. I then play a third Obsidian Battle-Axe before ending my turn. Next turn, Sam plays Recross the Paths to develop her manabase, landing a Plains and winning her clash to get it back. She attacks in again for 7, and I’m now at 6 life. Right about here is where it dawns on me that Lignify has an important difference from Pacifism, and I kick myself for not blocking- mais c’est la guerre, non? Back to me, I summon the Brighthearth Banneret, which lets me then play my Changeling Berserker at a discounted rate. I champion the Banneret, it having done its job, then stick the unequipped Axe onto the Berserker. I then attack with the 5/3 Clanger and 7/4 Berserker. As expected, Sam blocks the Changeling with her own Changeling, giving it deathtouch to force the trade. That brings back my championed Banneret, and I immediately equip it with the now-free Axe as well as one from the Clanger to make it a 5/3 Banneret.
Now turn 7, Sam hits her kinship trigger, giving her another 2/2 Wolf and free Orchard Warden. She then plays Recross the Paths a second time for a much-desired Swamp, but loses the clash to get it back. Back to me, I also hit kinship, making my Clanger a touch bigger (yawn). I then play Incremental Growth, putting a +1/+1 counter on my Banneret, two of them on my Clanger, and the pile of three onto my Lignified Paragon to make it a 3/7. Sam’s next turn is a blank, while I hit on kinship again before playing a pair of Winnower Patrols to empty my hand.
Sam’s turn 9 is another blank, while I hit kinship again to give my Patrols +1/+1 counters. I then play the card I revealed- an Ambassador Oak– and gain an extra 1/1 Elf Warrior token. I stick all three Axes on the Ambassador and pass the turn. Sam’s next turn is mercifully no different from the last, and decide to go on the offensive. I swing in with my Oak, and as expected Sam chumps with a Wolf token.
Sam his kinship on turn 11, getting a free Bosk Banneret, 2/2 Wolf token, and 3 life off the play to go up to 7. She stays put, however, and ends her turn. Over to me, I attack with the Oak again, and again Sam shoves a Wolf in front of the onrushing Treefolk. Sam’s next turn is another blank (poor dear), but again I attack into a Wolf token- the last of her three.
Now turn 13, Sam hits kinship again, refortifying her position. This time it’s a free Bog-Strider Ash, plus 4 life and a Wolf. She then hardcasts another Orchard Warden, and just like that she’s up to a very discouraging 17 life. By way of consolation, I again hit kinship to give my Patrols another round of counters (and the Clanger a temporary buff). I attack for 9 with the Ambassador Oak, and this time Sam takes it on the chin since she’s the life to spare. I then summon an Elvish Warrior, giving it all three Axes from the tapped Oak. Back to Sam, she plays Revive the Fallen to get back her Moonglove Changeling, losing the clash. She then replays the Changeling, giving her a further 4 life from the Wardens to go back to 12. Back to me, I hammer in with the Axe-wielding Elvish Warrior. Sam blocks with her Moonglove Changeling, giving it deathtouch to effect a trade. Instead I play Kindled Fury to give my Warrior first strike, killing off the nettlesome Changeling with no force reduction on my side.
Sam again hits kinship on turn 15 with a Gilt-Leaf Seer, giving her another Wolf token. She then attacks in for 8 with her Orchard Wardens, looking to finish me off. I block one with the 3/7 Paragon, gang-blocking the other for a trade with the Clanger and Ambassador Oak (she chooses to kill the Clanger). Back to me, I hit kinship for another round of freebies, giving the Patrols their third +1/+1 counter. Then I summon an Unstoppable Ash (championing the Ambassador Oak), throwing all three Axes its way. Now an 11/8 hasted trampler, I turn it sideways and send it barreling in on Sam. Sam bands together two Wolf tokens, the Gilt-Leaf Seer, and Bog-Strider Ash to form a block party, and while all involved head for the graveyards the Ash still gets in 1 point of trample damage on Sam, who falls to 11. This brings back the Ambassador Oak, giving me another 1/1 Elf token as it comes into play, and I stick all three Axes on him.
Now turn 16, Sam again refreshes her position through kinship, getting a free Guardian of Cloverdell and the accompanying trio of Kithkin tokens. This also gives her another Wolf token and 5 life. She then summons a Bosk Banneret, giving her another 3 life in the bargain to end on 19. Over to me, I attack with the Oak for 9, and Sam blocks with a Kithkin before sacrificing it to the Guardian for a point of life. The game going long and likely in Sam’s favour, I decide to roll the dice with a Fistful of Force. If I win the clash, I’ll have a straight line at hammering Sam for 13 life thanks to the trample. I don’t win the clash, though, and it does nothing.
Our next few turns fall into a stalemate pattern. Sam draws and passes, I attack with the Oak and get chumped by Kithkin. None of us hit kinship triggers. When Sam runs out of Kithkin, she offers up a Wolf on turn 19. Now turn 20, it’s Sam’s turn to throw a Hail Mary. She uses Nameless Inversion to kill off my Brighthearth Banneret- the only Red creature I’ve got in play. She then casts Redeem the Lost on her Guardian, giving it protection from Green. If she can win the clash, she can give something else protection and swing in past my defenders for lethal. It doesn’t work, but she still is able to put me down to 2 life. Back to me, I swing right back when I get a kinship hit off of Boldwyr Heavyweights. I then play the Heavyweights, giving them all three of my Axes. Sam goes and fetches up the best of what’s left, a Thorntooth Witch, putting it directly onto the battlefield (and gaining 4 life). I then thunder in with the Eldrazi-esque 14/11 Heavyweights, and Sam takes the punch to fall to 12. Just in case of a counterattack, I then equip one of the Axes to a 1/1 Elf token and end the turn.
Now turn 21, Sam whiffs on kinship and passes her turn. I topdeck a Roar of the Crowd and blast Sam with it for 10, setting up a lethal alpha strike to end what felt like an interminable game in my favour.
Sam opens with a Forest for our rematch, while I lead with a Mudbutton Clanger off a Mountain. Next turn she finds a creature of her own with the Wolf-Skull Shaman and passes. I hit kinship in my upkeep, letting me attack in for 2 with the Clanger for the game’s first bit of damage. I then summon a Bramblewood Paragon and pass. Sam whiffs on her attampt at kinship for the Shaman, but sends it in on the counterattack to draw us level. She then adds a Bosk Banneret and ends her turn. Hitting on kinship again, I attack with both beaters for 4 to put her at 16, as she blocks with her high-toughness Banneret. I add a Winnower Patrol, then end the turn.
Now turn 4, Sam summons a Bog-Strider Ash and passes. Back to me, I bring in a Changeling Berserker, championing the Mudbutton Clanger and giving the Berserker the gift of a +1/+1 counter thanks to my Paragon. I immediately attack with it for 6, and Sam drops to 10. This time, Sam hits kinship during her upkeep, giving her a 2/2 Wolf token off the Shaman. She then plays a Recross the Paths for another land, winning it back when she comes out ahead in the clash. Over to me, I hit kinship to give my Winnower Patrol a +1/+1 counter, then attack for 6 with the Berserker. Sam chump-blocks with her 2/2 Wolf token (and if you’re yelling at your monitor right now saying, hey dummy, thanks to the Paragon it has trample, we’ll get to that in a bit), but is dismayed to see me double down with a second Bramblewood Paragon.
Now turn 6, Sam hits kinship for a replacement 2/2 token, then summons Squeaking Pie Grubfellows. Since it’s a Goblin, she then triggers the Bog-Strider Ash for a 2-point life bump before ending her turn at 12. Back to me, I play a second Changeling Berserker, giving it a gift of two +1/+1 counter before championing away the smaller Paragon (the second entered play with a +1/+1 conter thanks to the first). This lets me turn the Berserkers and Winnower Patrol sideways for a colossal 18 damage. Sam offers up a Bosk Banneret and a 2/2 Wolf as chumps, taking 5 from the Patrol to fall to 7. Back to her, she summons a second Grubfellows, gaining another 2 life, but she’s on the ropes and she knows it. I hit with kinship, giving my Patrol another +1/+1 counter, then summon an Unstoppable Ash (championing the other Paragon). Hammering in with my trio of beaters for 19, Sam is forced to chump with her Bog-Strider Ash and Grubfellow, taking 6 off the Patrol to fall to 3. After her next draw, she concedes.
Sam begins with a Vivid Grove, while I play a Forest of my own. Next turn, Sam adds a Bosk Banneret, while I counter with the Brighthearth Banneret.
Now turn 3, Sam swings in for 1 with hers, then adds a Gilt-Leaf Seer and Sylvan Echoes. For my part, I summon the mighty Bramblewood Paragon and end the turn. Back to Sam, she stays pat, summoning another Bosk Banneret and a Bog-Strider Ash. I kick things up a gear with the Changeling Berserker, which gains a +1/+1 counter thanks to the Paragon while championing my Banneret. I immediately turn it sideways for 6, dropping Sam to 14.
Sam looks to develop her manabase on turn 5 with a Recross the Paths, using the Gilt-Leaf Seer to up her chances of winning the clash. It works, and thanks to Sylvan Echoes she even gets a free card out of the deal in addition to returning the Recross to hand. Happy for a job well done, she ends her turn and passes to me. I attack again for another 6 with the Berserker, which Sam lets past to drop her to 8. I then summon an Ambassador Oak, which along with its accompanying 1/1 Elf token gets a +1/+1 counter. Sam finally solves the nettlesome Paragon next turn when she draws a Lignify. She then summons an Everbark Shaman and passes. Back to me, I upgrade my army with an Incremental Growth, giving a +1/+1 counter to the Changeling Berserker to make it a 7/5, two to the Ambassador Oak to make it a 6/6, and the full three to the 2/2 Elf token to make it a 5/5. I then turn the three sideways for a crushing 18 points of damage. Sam gang-blocks the Berserker with her Bog-Strider Ash and Everbark Shaman, and it’s the latter I choose to send to the graveyard. The 6/6 Oak is blocked by the Gilt-Leaf Seer, with Sam activating it one last time on the way out for a final sort of the top two cards of her library. That leaves the token, putting Sam down to 3 life.
Now turn 7, Sam summons the Wolf-Skull Shaman and passes. Back to me, I attack with the token and Oak for 11. Sam offers up her Banneret and Bog-Strider Ash to blunt the damage, hanging firm at 3. I follow that up with a Cloudcrown Oak and pass. Back to Sam, she finally hits kinship again to give her a 2/2 Wolf token, then summons an Orchard Warden before ending turn. For my part, I keep the pressure on with my beaters, throwing the Cloudcrown into the mix. Sam’s Wolf chumps the Ambassador Oak, while the remaining Bosk Banneret is offered up to the Elf. She then blocks the Cloudcrown with her Warden to kill it, but I regenerate it with Heal the Scars, going up to 23 life in the bargain. I then summon an Elvish Warrior and pass.
Now turn 9, Sam’s reached the end of the line. She plays her Recross the Paths in the hopes of winning the clash and drawing something useful off of Sylvan Echoes, but when she whiffs the clash the jig is up.
Thoughts & Analysis
Okay, true confession time, and I’ll put my hand up here- I completely missed the fact that the Bramblewood Paragon conveys trample on any creature with a +1/+1 counter. It’s shameful, sure, but if there was one thing we took away from our Lorwyn playtests, it was that on-board complexity ran fairly high. With lots of different cards adding conditional effects here and there, there’s always the danger of missing something. Obviously, Morningtide is little different in that regard. On the upside, this only impacted Game Two, which this deck still handily won. Indeed, it would have just let it win faster had either of us realised it.
That speaks well to the power and impact of Warrior’s Code- with the right drops, it has a mighty force crammed into its sixty cards. Two cards in particular formed the deck’s MVP package: Bramblewood Paragon and Changeling Berserker. Hitting either on-curve was something of a game-changer, and took the deck up a level. Hit them both, and it was almost unfair. Although not quite as deviously clever as Going Rogue, this deck is definitely a winner for those who prefer to dish out blunt-force trauma in the red zone and has a charm and appeal all its own.
That isn’t to say the deck doesn’t have its faults. Like the others, it too suffers from some underwhelming inclusions. Cards such as Release the Ants, Heal the Scars, and the Axegrinder Giant are easy culls for any looking to improve the deck. Still, it makes up for that in large part to some superb offerings, such as the MVP’s mentioned above as well as a superb pair of rares. Both the Boldwyr Heavyweights and the Unstoppable Ash offer tremendous offensive potential with balanced drawbacks, but above all they’re a lot of fun to play.
Hits: Great rare selection; like the other class-based decks, there’s strong synergy here; deck is very aggressive, and more than capable of overwhelming any opponent early
Misses: Noncreature suite is as weak a the creature complement is strong; burn in particular is fairly tepid
OVERALL SCORE: 4.40/5.00