2007-2008 Precon Championships: Lauer Division (Part 1 of 2)
Come one, come all, to the greatest preconstructed spectacle on Dominaria and all the planes of the multiverse. That’s right, it’s time for the Preconstructed Championships to begin, and what a show we have for you today!
With three divisions settled, it’s time to turn to the Lauer. Some might call it ‘saving the best for last,’ because the Lauer Division is in some ways the Crucible of Champions. Sure the Nagle Division holds the record for most championships won (two), but looking a little deeper its hard to match the consistency of the Lauer. It’s won only one championship (in a three-way-tie with the other two divisions), but it has appeared in four of the five Grand Finals thus far. In every season but one, if you’ve wanted to win the championship, you’d had to face a Lauer deck to do it.
Today six decks are battling it out for the right to represent this storied division, with a seventh not appearing until the next round thanks to a bye. Let’s now head down to the arena, the battles are about to begin!
Game 13: Mortal Coil (SHM) vs Elementals’ Path (LRW)
Coil has a reasonable keep, leading with an Inkfathom Witch. Path, meanwhile, starts with a Soulbright Flamekin. Sadly for Coil, though, it doesn’t find a land beyond the two in its opening grip, and soon has to pitch a Loch Korrigan to get down to seven cards. In desperation, it’s forced to kill its own Witch with a Scarscale Ritual just to try and get more land, and luckily it comes up with an Island.
Path, meanwhile, isn’t waiting around. It takes full advantage of Coil’s false start, hammering in with Ceaseless Searblades. It has abundant mana, letting it combo the Searblades off the activated trample of the Flamekin. Coil chumps with a Wingrattle Scarecrow and Chainbreaker, but in the end can’t stave off the inevitable forever.
Coil has its work cut out for it as its forced to discard down to six, keeping a less than awe-inspiring opener. An Inkfathom Witch and Loch Korrigian follow, but Path’s development is blazingly fast.
First it leads with a Smokebraider, followed by a couple of Wanderer’s Twigs for mana development. Next up is Inner-Flame Igniter, which gets a quick attack when an Inner-Flame Acolyte joins it. The Igniter gets bounced with a River’s Grasp– twice!- but the Flamekin are relentless. Coil’s a touch land-shy, and Path simply outdistances it with its ability to pour mana into its attackers.
WINNER: Elementals’ Path
Game 14: Kithkin Militia (LRW) vs Battalion (MOR)
Both decks start small- surprisingly enough- but the game very quickly develops into a race. Militia opens with a Kithkin Greatheart that then becomes a force with a Battle Mastery giving it double strike. A Cenn’s Heir follows, while Battalion leads with a Mothdust Changeling and adds a pair of Kithkin Zephyrnauts.
The Zephyrnauts whiff on kinship- at least initially, but Battalion looks to solve the difficult Greatheart with a Weight of Conscience. This draws an answering Oblivion Ring to get rid of it, so Battalion then simply Oblivion Rings the Greatheart directly.
The removal puts Militia firmly on the back-foot, using a Pollen Lullaby to buy itself a turn. The clash doesn’t go its way, though, instead finding a Soldier for Battalion to hit kinship off of. Though Militia tries a last-game rally behind a Wizened Cenn and a Goldmeadow Harrier, a flash Sentinels of Glen Elendra staves off the all-or-nothing lethal strike, letting Battalion set up a gamewinning counterstrike.
This time it looks like it’s Militia coming out on top as it opens with a Goldmeadow Stalwart (revealing a Kithkin Harbinger) followed by a Wizened Cenn. Battalion, however, goes for broke behind a Ballyrush Banneret and early Preeminent Captain that gets equipped for free with Veteran’s Armaments.
Militia makes a pivotal miscalculation, however, when it uses the Harbinger to find a second Wizened Cenn instead of the safer option of a Crib Swap to kill the Captain. It’s a gamble that seems to pay off, as with two Wizened Cenns in play its creatures- now joined by a Cenn’s Heir- bash in to leave Battalion at a sliver of life.
But it’s just enough. Battalion uses Oblivion Ring to clear off the second Wizened Cenn, leaving the defenses down, then alpha strikes in with everything. The Captain’s ability to add attackers sees in free Inkfathom Divers, and they make the lethal difference. A close one!
Game 15: Turnabout (SHM) vs Molimo’s Might (10E)
Might begins with a Canopy Spider, which it quickly enchants with Blanchwood Armor to give it some extra durability. It’ll need it, as the deck is stuck on three lands and having difficulty deploying its threats.
Turnabout, however, has no such problems, unleashing the full might of its fury. A Seedcradle Witch opens, followed by a Safehold Sentry, Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers, and Wilt-Leaf Liege. Thanks to the bloated Spider, it’s still a stand-off, at least until next turn when Turnabout sticks a Shield of the Oversoul on the Cavalier- then drops Rhys the Redeemed.
Although Might does find and add a Rootwalla, its laughable compared to the forces arrayed against it. Might simply crumbles beneath a sustained assault through the red zone.
Might comes storming back for the rematch, finding an early Stampeding Wildebeests which it sticks a Blanchwood Armor. Thanks to a turn-3 Civic Wayfinder, it has itself a nice little combo going.
Turnabout, meanwhile, is forced to play catch-up. It leads with a Seedcradle Witch, then adds a Drove of Elves enchanted with a Shield of the Oversoul. That looks promising, but the ascendant Wildebeests changes the calculus.
Again and again the Wildebeests attack. Turnabout gets the edge when it blocks with the Drove, activating the Witch to get +3/+3, then casting Barkshell Blessing and conspiring it. Alas, a simple Giant Growth keeps the Wildebeests alive. Next turn, Turnabout fields a Wilt-Leaf Liege, and it finally manages a gang-block to kill the Wildebeests, with only the Drove remaining. It’s a crippling blow, though, and when Might finds Molimo, Maro-Sorcerer himself, well, it doesn’t take long for the score to be tied.
Turnabout begins with Rhys the Redeemed, then brings out a Safehold Sentry and Umbral Mantle, the latter getting equipped to Rhys. Might, meanwhile, finds a Rootwalla, but it’s little impediment on turn 4 when Turnabout then deploys a Wilt-Leaf Liege to buff its side. Though Might tries to stabilise behind a second Rootwalla, it’s just not enough as it’s quickly forced to chump to stay alive. Once you begin trading creatures for time you’re all but done in here, though.
A solo Stampeding Wildebeests is a desperation play, but this game- and the match- belongs to Turnabout.
That’s it for today! Six decks arrived, and three of them are walking out of the arena under their own power. We’ll have the Prediction League update post go up Tuesday as we prepare to find a winner for the Division- and then on to the Grand Final! See you soon!
Wow! Total blowout for me this round, but a nice surprise to see the Tenth edition deck go down. Votes are on the Merfolk next time!
The games went the wrong way for me, but a lot of them were difficult to predict, like the Kithkin mirror. It could really go either way as going to 3 games shows. I still think I made the best educated guesses in my predictions, I spend a good amount of time analyzing decklists and possible advantages/disadvantages. Sad to see Mortal coil lose because I wanted merfolk to win, but this time I am glad elves finally get a chance to shine. If either Merrow Riverways or Turnabout wins the division I will be happy.
That was nice even though I went 1/3.
Woohoo 1/3! Woohoo the green 10th edition deck lost!
2/3 for me! Now I have to decide whether to gamble on the hilariously fun possibility of a 5-color deck to take the division…
You described a potential poor gameplay decision in round 2 of Game 14. At what point do you identify such mistakes? Was it something you talked about during the match? Something that occurred when talking after the game? Something that popped into mind only when writing this report? Do you think taking out the Captain would have given the Militia the win (and forced a third game)?
Been doing worse and worse on predicting the winning decks. Highly disappointed with Mortal Coil’s mana screw, and kicking myself a bit for not going with my gut feel for Turnabout, but them’s the beats.
It’s good to see, though, that the Oblivion Rings had a big part in clinching the victory for Battalion.
I’m definite the Merfolk will make me money on the next round, then. Haha
Nice! Some of these were hard to predict, with some interesting match-ups. 3/3 this time, I’ll take it.
I knew the elementals had it in them. once they develop their mana they have so many places to put it.
I’m getting worse instead of better! Hopefully I can pick up some points next time
At least I got 1 right haha.
I suggest they do a best of 5, or 7, rather than a best of 3, and have the players swap decks. Makes it more fair, so it isn’t about skill that decides the winner, unless you already do the whole deck swap thing.
Just curious, do you even swap decks after every round?
That’s a fair question, wondering if a skill imbalance favours one player over another. To address that, since I’ve got a slight skill edge over my fellow participants, I offer them first choice of deck. Sam, for instance, will actually go so far as to stick both decks in front of her and go through them card by card, looking for vulnerabilities one deck could exploit over the other.
In the beginning when we ran these, I had feared that it might simply be a case of “whatever deck Jay plays wins,” but the breadth of experience we’ve had has long put that concern to bed- sometimes brutally so. 😀
Probably should do a home and away type of thing, where Jay is home, and the opponent is away, home being the home team advantage. Usually in sports, at least in the NHL, the team seeded higher, in a best of 7, is awarded home for the for the first two games, then goes on the road for games 3 and 4, then home for game 5, away for game 6, and home for game 7. I was thinking that rather than having the better deck having home team advantage, the deck that isn’t as great should be piloted by the better player for game one, the switch for game 2, then switch back for game 3.
I have alwways wondered were the division names came from, Lauer, Tinsman, etc. I thought that those names were from competitors in this tournament and that it was run with many people even outside of the EL staff. How often does it happen that people from the outside participate in these types of tournaments?
The division names come from four of the more prominent individuals to work in R&D at Wizards.
Then, of course, there’s the conferences:
Although I’d love to see this as a massive event with a full field of competitors, the reality is it’s mainly the EL crew doing it. From time to time we’ve had ‘guest stars’ take a turn piloting. Keeps us busy, though, off the streets and out of the gangs.
ALso, while I’ve got you, did you get that email about the Mind Swarm deck I sent?
Lol, you should really do a 100% intro pack, no core set, season. I say no core set, because if you took all block expansion intro packs, you’d get 30 intro packs, which equals the number of teams in the NBA, and each conference can be each block, while each division can be each set. The top 8 intro packs per block will move on to the playoff bracket, seeded 1 vs 8, 2 vs 7, 3 vs 6, 4 vs 5 per side. The rankings would be based on win/loss ratios.
Someday I hope you’ll do a tournament of champions, where all the previous championship winners (and maybe the runners-up too?) are pitted against each. 😀
Man, if I did this tournament thing, the tournament would be so biased. I usually play against my brother, who is heaps better than I am. I also favor intro packs that are “blue” or “red”, for example, intro packs with blue, or red foil cards, or in the RTR, GTC, and DGM ones, the one with a blue, or red cardboard insert, meaning Izzet Ingenuity, Rakdos Raid, Boros Battalion, Simic Synthesis, Rakdos Revelry, and Simic Domination. In this case, this tournament does not favor these decks at all haha.
The best thing about the theme decks, in their tiny boxes, is that you can dump them in a trash can like container, and you are supposed to reach in blindfolded and pick up a deck. Intro packs can’t do that, there is no box, therefore you can’t do something like that.