Magic 2010: Presence of Mind Review (Part 2 of 2)
Now three decks in to the Magic 2010 Intro Pack reviews, can we keep the streak going? This has proven to be a much more enjoyable environment than we initially though, with quick-paced games that don’t bog down. To see how the base-Blue Presence of Mind works, Sam challenges me with Nature’s Fury. Force or craft, which prevails?
Sam’s on the play for our opener, and leads with a Plains which I match with an Island. That lets me drop an immediate Telepathy, opening Sam’s hand up for inspection. It’s a decent one, with three more land, a Giant Growth, an Elvish Visionary, and a Prized Unicorn. Next turn, Sam draws a Pacifism, then plays the Visionary (drawing a Bramble Creeper). I play a Sage Owl, rearrange my top four card to my liking, and pass.
Now turn 3, Sam draws another Giant Growth, then attacks with the Visionary for 1. I counterattack with the Owl, then add a Zephyr Sprite. Back to Sam, she draws an Awakener Druid and plays it, animating a tapped Forest. Back to me, I send in my air force for 2, then add an already-outclassed Horned Turtle.
Sam draws a Forest on turn 5, playing it after having missed a land drop last turn. This lets her summon the Bramble Creeper. I bring out my Djinn of Wishes. Back to Sam, she draws another Forest, then swings in for 9 behind the Creeper and animated Forest. This cuts me in half to 9, after which she summons the Prized Unicorn. Checkmate. I trigger the Djinn as a Hail Mary, revealing a land- which I should have remembered from the turn-2 Sage Owl. I am thoroughly defeated, getting a front-row seat to my own demise with the Telepathy.
My turn-3 Phantom Warrior is the game’s first non-land play, which Sam meets with a Borderland Ranger. Next turn I add a Snapping Drake after swinging in, and Sam counters with the Ranger before reinforcing with a second Ranger.
Now turn 5, we’re even at 18. I play Telepathy, revealing Sam’s hand. This time she’s got two lands, a Harm’s Way, a Giant Growth, a Nature’s Spiral, and her Might of Oaks– dangerous! I attack for 5 with the Drake and Warrior, then play a Divination. That grabs me an underwhelming pair, an Island and a Coral Merfolk. Back to Sam, she draws an Elvish Visionary and plays it after her 4-point counterswing. The Elvish Visionary in turn draws her a Plains, and she ends her turn.
I swing in for another 5 points of damage on turn 6. Sam tries to use a Harm’s Way to prevent some of it and kill one of my creatures, but it never gets that far as I simply Negate it. Then I show the dagger, locking her down with Sleep. Back to her, she draws an Enormous Baloth and passes. I take her down to 3 with my next attack, then add the Coral Merfolk for good measure. Sam then draws the Kalonian Behemoth, which avails her none. With lethal on the board, she concedes.
Sam opens our final game with a Forest, while I fetch a Swamp with a Terramorphic Expanse. She then adds a Plains, while I drop an Island and Sage Owl.
Now turn 3, an Awakener Druid gives Sam a nice, plump 4/5 Treefolk. I attack with the Owl for 1, then play a Divination (nabbing an Island and a Sleep). Back to Sam, she strikes in for 5 with the Treefolk and Druid combo, then passes. A Mind Rot is rewarded with a look of consternation, as she eventually pitches away a Divine Verdict and Windstorm. If that’s what she’s throwing away, I muse, what’s still in hand?
I get a reprieve on turn 5 as Sam uses the animated Forest for mana, playing a Bramble Creeper. A Telepathy reveals the rest of Sam’s hand, a Pacifism and Enormous Baloth. I play a Divination, picking up two more land (ugh), then end my turn. Next turn, Sam draws a Kalonian Behemoth, then attacks for 9. I take it, going to 6, then use Sleep to stall for time.
It’s all for nothing. Sam draws and plays a Giant Spider, and when her creatures finally untap, I am undone.
Thoughts & Analysis
If there was one thing that could be said for the past two decks we’ve reviewed for Magic 2010 (Nature’s Fury and We Are Legion), it’s that there were no shortage of threats to deploy. In contrast to that, I struggled to field a decent side more often than not with Presence of Mind. At its best, I was able to establish a very shaky control over the environment, winning by eroding away Sam’s life total through evasive creatures. Just as often, though, it felt like there was too much of a ‘durdle factor’ to the deck, where you’re using cards just to get more cards just to get more cards. All the card advantage in the world amounts to nothing if you’re not finding something useful in those cards.
One glaring weakness to the deck as well was with removal. Permission decks tend to put a ‘blockade’ in palce with regards to an opponent’s threats, and a player has to be canny to slip something through. The control player can do this thanks to the high concentration of permission in their deck. Not so here, where your permission was only marginally better than your removal- and neither element covered itself in glory.
On the upside, though too much Sage Owl and Zephyr Sprite could lead one to feel a bit anemic on the battlefield, the creature spectrum the deck affords you is fairly serviceable. The only real misstep is with the Coral Elf, since its nonevasive and a poor attacker and defender both. Were I designing it, I might cut the Coral Elf and Zephyr Sprite for more defense or utility, such as with another Horned Turtle, Illusionary Servant, or Merfolk Looter. This would have bolstered the deck’s core mission of control while threatening with an air force, without overly empowering it or compromising its introductory flavour.
Overall, this is the runt of the litter thus far.
Hits: Solid air force leaves little doubt about how this deck looks to win; Djinn of Wishes is a solid rare with a fun ability
Misses: Both permission and removal suites underwhelming; deck can get caught in do-nothing chains of plays that don’t advance your board state
OVERALL SCORE: 3.75/5.00