2007-08 Precon Championships: The Grand Final
It’s here. Two months of wars waged and battles pitched in the hot, unforgiving sands of the arena has come down to this moment. Four preconstructed decks- one from each division- are ready to tear into one another in a fury of mana and cardboard, until only one remains. One deck from a field of twenty-six. One Champion, twenty-five footnotes.
It will be in august company. The 2007-07 season saw Planar Chaos’s Endless March smash a Golgari dredge deck to strike its name into the Book of Immortals. Dead Ahead, from Alara Reborn, had to get through two Duel Decks on its way to glory in the 2008-09 season. The 2009-10 season saw Eldrazi Arisen not only rival the feat, smashing Liliana in the opening round, but went on to face a heavily-favoured rare-laden Planechase deck in the very next round before facing Vampires and the cream of the Duels of the Planeswalkers crop in Eyes of Shadow.
Some decks are destined for greatness, and will not be denied.
Consider Elspeth’s deck, in the 2010-2011 season. First an Intro Pack deck, then a Premium Deck Series one, next an Event Deck, and finally an Archenemy one- just to get to the finals.
Today one of four contenders will dig deep and find that inner reserve of strength and discipline. The right cards will come up for it. The plays will reveal themselves. Destiny will come calling- and it will answer with a thunderous roar.
In the Rosewater Confernece, the Nagle Division is represented by Evincar’s Tyranny from Tenth Edition, Though core set decks are often dismissed as weaker than their peers- and not entirely without justification- what has become clear in this tournament is the power of consistency that a 40-card deck can afford. Crovax has found his bombs and removal time and again, sweeping away his opponents- including the mighty Duel Deck Elves.
Standing ready to face him are the opposite number, the Duel Deck Goblins. Carrying the banner for the Tinsman Division, the Goblins have faced what Shadowmoor block has been able to throw against it and prevailed. Though a swarm of cheap creatures is naturally resistant to pinpoint removal, one sight of Ascendant Evincar and the whole army collapses. Can they get the job done quickly enough?
Moving over to the Forsythe Conference, we find another unlikely tale with Tenth Edition’s Cho-Manno’s Resolve representing the Turian Division. The beneficiary of a very powerful combo (Cho-Manno, Revolutionary enchanted with Pariah), in a fratricidal twist Cho-Manno had to step over the fallen form of Kamahl’s Temper to get here. Can it go the distance?
Certainly not, sniffs the Merfolk of Merrow Riverways, the champion of the Lauer Division. After knocking out Green/White Elves in Turnabout and the Soldiers and Kithkin of Battalion, they stand ready to bring their overwhelming incremental advantage to bear.
So which of these four worthy decks will stand alone on the day? Let’s go find out.
Rosewater Conference Final: Evincar’s Tyranny (10E) vs Duel Deck: Goblins (DD:EvG)
Tyranny begins humbly with Vampire Bats to open the game, but then sticks an Unholy Strength on them to power them up. Turn after turn, they hammer in on the Goblins’ life total, while a Drudge Skeletons soaks up some of the offensive pressure.
At first, that pressure is fairly mild. The Goblins begin with a Skirk Prospector, followed by a Skirk Drill Sergeant and Skirk Shaman. A Mind Rot rips away a Reckless One and Emberwilde Augur, leaving the Goblins facing the very real prospect of being outraced.
Until, that is, they drop a Siege-Gang Commander, popping the Prospector for its own mana. Next turn they blast the Bats and Skeletons. The latter regenerates, but it taps them to do it and leaves their defenses down. A Flamewave Invoker adds its punch, while Tyranny tries to stall behind a Severed Legion.
The inability to deal with the Commander is what costs them most, however, and the Goblins roll to victory.
Tyranny begins with a Demon’s Horn this time- a promising sign. It next starts getting to work behind a Severed Legion, with a Drudge Skeletons playing defense. For the Goblins’ part, after leading with an Goblin Cohort followed by a Raging Goblin, they catch Tyranny overreaching with mana and Tarfire out the Skeletons before stalling on two mana. That’s still doable for the Goblins, but far from optimal.
A second Severed Legion promises to put Tyranny well ahead, but the Goblins cycle a Gempalm Incinerator to kill it, drawing a most welcome Mountain. A second Cohort touches down, followed by Ib Halfheart, Goblin Tactician. For the creature-heavy Goblins, that’s the potential for serious advantage, and Tyranny recognizes the threat immediately. One Terror later, there’s one less Halfheart on the board.
With a Skirk Fire Marshal in hand, though, the Goblins are looking to win through a massive burnout. While Tyranny has been chipping away at the life total, it’s still about 10. Its dealt a setback when a Cohort gets Assassinated, but manages to kill a fresh Looming Shade with a Mogg Fanatic as Tyranny tries desperately to stabilise. One Akki Coalflinger later and at 12 life, the Goblins watch Tyranny land a 7/7 Mortivore– then nuke the world with the Fire Marshal. When the smoke lifts from the crater, the Goblins are at 2 life, and advancing to the Grand Final!
Forsythe Conference Final: Cho-Manno’s Resolve (10E) vs Merrow Riverways (LOR)
The play of the game for Resolve is when it uses a Benalish Knight to ambush an attacking Judge of Currents, and it all goes rapidly pear-shaped from there. Resolve finds an Angel of Mercy, Wild Griffin, Loxodon Mystic, and Venerable Monk. The Merrow, meanwhile, field a Harpoon Sniper, Silvergill Douser, Avian Changeling, replacement Judge of Currents, Merrow Reejerey, and- worst of all- Sygg, River Guide.
Thanks to Sygg, the two Pacifisms in Resolve’s hand are all but worthless, and it can neither attack nor block thanks to the Sniper. The game is one long, one-sided grind-down, and Resolve has anything but left over when the last damage goes through. It’s a mercy.
As it turns out, no. A Whirlpool Whelm sorts out the enchanted Knight, while the Merfolk build up the usual array with a Judge of Currents, a Tideshaper Mystic allowing islandwalking, a Merrow Harbinger which tutors up the mighty Sygg, a pair of Silvergill Dousers, and more. Again Resolve is utterly defanged by Sygg, and the Merfolk grind out an easy victory.
And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for! It’s now down to two decks, and in a season that saw lots of tribal goodness, there’s a poetic fit in having it decided between Goblins and Merfolk.
The Merfolk have shown themselves to be crafty masters of incremental advantage. Though they start out small, they quickly overwhelm with loads of synergies that grow stronger the more Merfolk that are on the field of battle. The Goblins, too, follow a similar strategy of overwhelming through hordes of creatures, but they use force where the Merrow rely on craft. In the end, though, there can be only one.
The Merrow are on the play for the opener, and begin with a Plains and Springleaf Drum. The Goblins follow with a Mountain and the game’s first creature, a Skirk Prospector. Next turn, the Merrow follow with a Silvergill Douser, but it’s the Goblins who land first blood when they opt to send in their Prospector.
Now turn 3, the Merrow next deploy a Streambed Aquitects, using the Drum to tap the Aquitects for mana. This lets them immediately follow with a Tideshaper Mystic, and the Merfolk are now well ahead in creature count. Back to the Goblins, they send in the lonely Prospector for another point of damage before bringing out a Skirk Shaman. Next turn, the fish go big with a Merrow Reejerey, then send in the Aquitects for 3 to drop the Goblins to 17. For the Goblins’ part, they summon a Raging Goblin next, attacking with everything for 4. The Merrow use their Douser to blunt the worst of the damage from the Shaman, and only take 2 on the whole to end the turn at 16.
Now turn 5, the Merrow tap the Aquitects to give themselves +1/+1 and islandwalking, then summon another Aquitects alongside it. Thanks to the Reejerey, this lets the first, buffed Aquitects untap, and the Merfolk swing in for 8. The Goblins respond by Tarfiring the Reejerey, but the Merrow opt to save it with a Whirlpool Whelm. For the clash, the Goblins lose- but are comforted by seeing a second Tarfire. It’s academic anyway, as the clash ability (putting atop the library rather than in hand) is more offensive in nature and not at stake here. The incoming damage is reduced by half, and the Goblins are left at 13. Over to the Goblins, they immediately Tarfire the Douser, which responds by activating itself one last time to blank the Shaman again. That’s perfectly fine for the Goblins who then summon a Reckless One. The Goblins then counterattack for 6 behind the Prospector, One, and Raging Goblin. The Merrow take it full on the chin, falling to 10.
Next turn, the Merfolk replay the Merrow Reejerey, then send in both Aquitects for 6. This time it’s the Goblins that are reeling, as they go down to 7. Back to them, they next summon a Goblin Ringleader, gaining a Tarfire and Gempalm Incinerator. They then cycle the latter, going up another card and blasting the Reejerey with direct damage to kill it. Then they turn the Goblin army sideways, pouring into the red zone for 11. The Merrow chump-block the 5/5 Reckless One with their Tideshaper Mystic, but still end at 4 life.
Back to the Merrow for turn 7, they play Sygg, River Guide, but he’s arrive too late to do any good. Unable to stop the onslaught of Goblins (backed by the Tarfire), the Merfolk fall in the opener.
On the play, the Merrow lead with an Island while the Goblins drop a Goblin Cohort. Next turn, a Stonybrook Angler touches down, but when the Goblins summon an Emberwilde Augur, the Cohort activates and swings in for first blood. The Merrow respond with an Avian Changeling after counterattacking for 1 with the Angler, then the Goblins double down with a second Emberwilde Augur before swinging in hard for 4. With the Merrow down to 14 life, the Goblins follow with a Goblin Sledder and end their turn.
Now turn 4, the Merrow counterattack for 3 to leave the Goblins at 16. They then add a Tideshaper Mystic and Silvergill Douser after missing their first land drop. The Goblins, too, miss a fourth land drop, but make the most of what they’ve got with a Boggart Shenanigans. The enchantment is an immediate nuisance as the Goblins then attack for 5 with the Augurs and Sledder. The Merrow have to block something, lest next upkeep the Goblins sacrifice everything for the win, and they opt to gang-block the Augur to make sure it dies without giving the Sledder a hope to save it. That claims the lives of the Mystic and Douser, but it does get the job done. Including the ping from the Shenanigans from the death of the gang-blocked Augur, the Merrow fall to 10 life.
Next turn, the Merrow simply dispense with the nettlesome enchantment altogether by Oblivion Ring’ing the Shenanigans away, declining the attack to focus on defense. Back to the Goblins, they next summon some bad news- a Mudbutton Torchrunner. Normally this is just a hot-potato creature you try and avoid blocking, but with a sacrifice outlet on board it becomes much more focused. The Goblins attack for another 5 with the Augur, Sledder, and Cohort. The Angler blocks the Sledder, while the Avian Changeling is shoved in front of the Augur for the trade. The Torchrunner is then fed to the Sledder, keeping the Sledder alive and blasting the Merrow in the face for 3 points of damage. When the dust clears, the Merrow are now in danger at 5 life.
Now turn 6, the Merrow next Oblivion Ring the Goblin Sledder. Though the Goblins haven’t hit a land drop since turn 3, they keep the threats up with a replacement Emberwilde Augur and a 2-point attack from the Cohort. At 3 life with their back on the ropes, the Merrow then Whirlpool Whelm the Augur, losing the clash with an Island as the Goblins turn over Ib Halfheart, Goblin Tactician. They then desperately try to stabilise with a Judge of Currents. Back to the Goblins, they replay the Augur, then attack for 2 with the Cohort, forcing a chump-block with the Judge.
Now turn 8, the Merrow need something- anything- from the top of their library to deal with the ticking Emberwilde Augur.
They don’t get it.
As the school of Merrow collectively slump their shoulders in defeat, jubilant pandemonium erupts amongst the Goblin warrens! Ib Halfheart rushes to congratulate the Siege-Gang Commander! The Skirk Fire Marshal and the Mogg War Marshal are running a lap of glory around the edge of the touchline, waving at the fans above! Akki Coalflinger is “dropping it like it’s hot!” The Flamewave Invoker and Tar Pitcher are setting off pyrotechnics! The Reckless One and Goblin Matron are….
Anyway, thanks for tuning in for the exciting conclusion of the 2007-08 Preconstructed Championships. We hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as we’ve had putting it together, and we’ll be back on Tuesday with the final wrap-up thread for our Prediction League.
For now, though, congratulations to this season’s Champion!
Special thanks to James Arnold for today’s amazing graphic. A huge fan of precons himself (and competitor in the Prediction League), he approached us to see if we might be interested in a banner to really give the Grand Final that epic polish. We were already devotees of his work over at Gathering Magic, and if you haven’t seen his great work yet, make sure you check it out!!