2014-15 Precon Championships: Make Your Predictions!
At last! The long wait is over and the Preconstructed Championships have returned (one day late, sorry). We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so I’ll skip the lengthy and flavorful preamble and get right down to business!
What is this?
The Preconstructed Championships are a semi-annual feature here on Ertai’s Lament, where we take a year’s worth of preconstructed decks (typically core set + block + all releases during that time) and match them up against one another, March Madness style.
The competition is broken down into four divisions spread across two conferences, and each week we cover four matches. You- the reading audience- have the opportunity to predict the winners, and for every correct prediction, you get a point in the “prediction league.” The person with the most points at the end of it is our winner, and wins the prize package!
What can I win?
The prize package for winning is:
- An Eldritch Moon Prerelease Pack
- Ten booster packs of Eldritch Moon
- NEW: Two booster packs of Shadows over Innistrad
- NEW: Two booster packs of Battle for Zendikar
So, a total of twenty boosters will be yours if you’re the best predictor!
How are the matches decided?
I’ll be playing these games with my two playtesters, Phil and Josh. My custom is to give my opponent the choice of deck, and from there it’s up to the Fates!
What is the schedule?
Each Monday, a new post will go up at Ertai’s Lament previewing that week’s matches and calling for predictions. The results post will go up on Saturday, so you officially have until 11:59PM Friday night to leave your predictions in a comment on the prediction post. You can post them on Saturday at your own risk, because once the results article goes up, no predictions made at that point will count (obviously).
So in short, make sure you’re checking in once a week so you don’t miss out on the points!
What decks are competing this season?
There are some changes this season with regards to expanded eligibility. First, we have the usual class of decks that are always eligible to compete:
- Intro Packs (Magic 2015, Dragons of Tarkir, Fate Reforged, Khans of Tarkir)
- Duel Decks (Elspeth vs Kiora, Speed vs Cunning)
- Premium releases (Commander 2014)
- Event Decks (Khans of Tarkir, Dragons of Tarkir)
With the advent of the Clash Pack, we’ll naturally be including them. In addition, a Clash Pack consists of two, unique 60-card decks that can be blended to form a third, 60-card deck. For the purposes of this competition, all three deck lists are eligible to compete.
- Clash Packs (Magic 2015, Fate Reforged)
Finally, we’ve expanded eligibility to include paper Magic deck lists found in the Fat Pack Player’s Guides, as well as the 30-card sample decks.
- Player’s Guide Decks (Magic 2015)
- Sample/Welcome Decks (Magic 2015)
So that means we’ve got more than 32 decks ready to do battle. In years past we’ve usually not exceeded that number, or maybe just a fuzz above it. In the latter case, we looked at deck ratings and disqualified the worst-rated decks (based on our own reviews). Since these decks have yet to be reviewed here, we instead set up a “qualifying round,” then seeded all of the decks randomly. That’s right, an Event Deck had just as much chance of being seeded for a qualifying match as a Sample Deck, so it’s truly a level playing field.
NOTE: You will not be predicting qualifying matches, just the regular ones. Qualifying matches will already be done by the time we call for your predictions, and you’ll have the same number of matches each week as always.
Okay, got it. So what are this week’s matches?
Here they are! (Please note: the game numbering in the image below reflects the software I use for the brackets. Having “Game 33” as our first game doesn’t mean you’ve missed 32 previous games. I’ll highlight the week’s matches in red to prevent any confusion).
Game One: Price of Glory (Magic 2015) versus Red Sample Deck (Magic 2015)
Price of Glory, a White/Black deck that plays shenanigans with lifegain, had the misfortune of drawing Forged in Stone (Commander 2014) for its qualifying matchup. Commander decks fare awkwardly in duels, as they’re often a bit slow to ramp up, but then packed with bombs and rares once the manabase is established.
Price of Glory had to play through its skin to win. In one game, facing down Nahiri, the Lithomancer and loads of Soldier and Pegasus tokens (from Sacred Mesa), it topdecked a Wall of Limbs on the turn before it would have died. That might not seem like the most exciting thing to draw, but with a Soulmender and Staff of the Sun Magus in play, it was able to get just enough +1/+1 counters on the Wall to then sacrifice it for the kill.
Another fairy tale story in the making belongs to the Red Sample Deck. Red was almost surely going to be sent to the showers after just one game, since it was matched up with the Elspeth deck from Duel Decks: Elspeth vs Kiora.
Turn after turn, Red stuck to its core fundamentals. Nothing flashy, just basic Magic, throwing a string of cheap creatures at its opponent like the Foundry Street Denizen and Goblin Roughrider. In both wins, Red managed to find its Shivan Dragon, and ride it to glory for the remaining bit of damage. That may be the Sample decks’ secret weapon: consistency. When you’re only 30 cards large, you know what to expect.
Game Two: Kiora (Duel Decks: Elspeth vs Kiora) versus Stampeding Hordes (Fate Reforged Intro Pack).
Having watched Elspeth falter in the qualifying rounds, it was only ever going to be up to Kiora to make a statement about their Duel Deck. Kiora had no easy feat of it either, facing off against the Khans of Tarkir Event Deck, Conquering Hordes.
Hordes is a fast-paced deck, designed to swarm and overwhelm in the early game with a stream of Warriors. If you could sum up the difficulties of the two decks in one card, it might be Kiora’s Surrakar Banisher. That may seem like an unusual choice, but the bounce ability of the Banisher was fairly weak against creatures that cost almost nothing to play, while the 3/3 body it left behind proved a challenge for the Warriors to get past. In the end, Hordes didn’t have the staying power to outlast the growing strength of Kiora, and she notched her first win.
Stampeding Hordes had a qualifying bye, and has not faced any test of its prowess yet- until now.
Game Three: Cruel Plots (Dragons of Tarkir Intro Pack) versus Black Guide Deck (Magic 2015)
The Black Guide deck is yet untested. The Player’s Guide decks have a power level somewhere between Intro Packs and Event Decks. The deck boasts a trio of rares (Cruel Sadist; Ob Nixilis, Unshackled; Soul of Innistrad), and have solid consistency with 3-of’s and 4-of’s throughout (Mind Rot, Sign in Blood, Black Cat). It also has an appropriate land mix instead of the 25+ land content of the Intro Packs. Always bet on Black? This matchup’s for you.
Of course, the exploit-centered Cruel Plots might have something to say about that, having already taken down one opponent in the qualifying rounds, the Red/Black Infernal Intervention Intro Pack deck from Magic 2015. It was a narrow victory, however, with Cruel Plots falling in the opener to a Caustic Tar and poor creature array. The deck found its footing in the second game, exploiting a Youthful Scholar to feed a Rakshasa Gravecaller, then winning in the air with a Ruthless Deathfang. Infernal Intervention never saw more than four lands in the clincher, with Cruel Plots taking advantage of the stumble to field a pair of Deathfangs, and advanced easily.
Game Four: Surprise Attack (Fate Reforged Intro Pack) versus Fate and Fury (Magic 2015 Clash Pack)
The Fate Reforged Intro Packs went with a two-color model, following the three-color decks of Dragons of Tarkir. Surprise Attack is Green/Blue, running behind Thousand Winds and Temur War Shaman as the rares and centered around a morph and manifest strategy. It had a bye in the qualifying rounds, so arrives fresh to the scene.
Not so for Fate and Fury, the Clash Pack entrant for Magic 2015. A hybrid of the best parts of the Fate deck and Fury deck, the power level of the Clash Pack blended deck is supposed to be approximate to an Event Deck. Although it represents Magic 2015, Fate and Fury often runs like a Theros block constructed deck, with ramp-and-bash all-stars like the Voyaging Satyr, Courser of Kruphix, and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx.
To get into the Championship, it had to get past another Commander 2014 deck, Built from Scratch. The mono-Red artifact-based deck almost put an end to the dream, twice nuking the board with Incite Rebellion and forcing the match to a Game Three. While Daretti, Scrap Savant’s forces looked poised for victory when it stuck a Hoard-Smelter Dragon, Fate and Fury stole it with a Hypnotic Siren and claimed the win with Daretti’s own minion. Poetic justice!
So who do you think will win?
Four matches means four points are up for grabs in the Prediction League. To participate, all you have to do is leave a comment below with your picks for the winners of the four matches:
Game One: Price of Glory vs Red Sample Deck
Game Two: Kiora vs Stampeding Hordes
Game Three: Cruel Plots vs Black Player’s Guide Deck
Game Four: Surprise Attack vs Fate and Fury
If you explain why you chose what you chose, you may end up being quoted in next week’s feature! Best of luck to all, and don’t forget the official deadline is 11:59pm this Friday night.
I don’t know if it would be too much extra work, but it would be super amazingly awesome if you could include links to decklists, when those are available.
Also, I would like to respectfully challenge the use of mere decklists that WOTC released in fat packs. Those are not a precon product in any sense, and I would favor sticking to actual precon products. Further, I can’t find the decklists from the fat pack player’s guide online, which reduces predicting games involving such decks into blind guessing (except for those who happened to buy that particular fat pack).
Thanks for listening!
In the past, I’ve linked to reviews of the article where you could also find decklists, but given my time away I haven’t actually reviewed any of these decks. It wouldn’t be too much extra work, I’ll do that going forward (and if I get a few minutes, I’ll edit this post too).
We may agree to disagree on the expanded definition of preconstruction, but the point about unavailability of deck lists is a fair one. Here’s Black’s, I’ll add the others when they come up.
3 Accursed Spirit
4 Black Cat
1 Cruel Sadist
3 Necrogen Scudder
1 Ob Nixilis, Unshackled
2 Rotfeaster Maggot
3 Shadowcloak Vampire
1 Soul of Innistrad
3 Typhoid Rats
2 Zof Shade
Other Spells (13)
3 Crippling Blight
4 Mind Rot
4 Sign in Blood
Fantastic feedback, thank you so much!
G1 Price of Glory
G2 Stampeding Hordes
G3 Cruel Plots
G4 Fate and Fury
I’ll include URL to decklists when possible:
G1: The sample decks have the potential to be insanely advantaged over real 60 or 100 card decks, since they have vastly better chances of drawing into their strongest cards. My gut is saying “Red Deck” wins. Price of Glory has a decent long game, but looks like it will be slow to set up an effective defense and stabilize, so I’m betting on the faster, more focused “Red Deck.”
G2: It looks like Stampeding Hordes has a bunch of bad creatures, while Kiora has a bunch of value creatures and striong tempo cards. I dislike the character, but her deck looks strong here. Kiora is my vote.
G3: I want Black to lose because it shouldn’t be in this contest, but it looks a lot more reliable than Cruel Plots, so I grudgingly vote Black P.G. Deck. 😛
Black – it’s available in the comments above
G4: Both decks want to ramp into big creatures, but Fate+Fury looks to have a superior early game (more ramp) and some mass removal spells that could be decisive. I think FF takes this one. (If Surprise Attack pulls off the upset, I would guess it’s on the back of its sizeable complement of spot removal).
My definition of preconstructed is a deck out of the packaging as is, without any effort to construct the deck. The combined clash packs deck don’t count because you have to take effort to construct the deck from the 2 decks. The fat pack decklists don’t count because you have to acquire the cards as well as construct it to play it. Similarly, if the fat pack decklists count, then whatever decklists that WOTC publishes on their website counts as well, from the casual deck to the pro deck.
Price of Glory
Another thing to note about preconstructed deck. Think preconstructed house or premade cake. Would you call it a preconstructed house if you were left with list of materials and instructions on how to build the house? A decklist is nothing more than mere material list and instructions on how to build the deck. The deck is only preconstructed if it can be immediately used. As I said, if it takes any effort to get the deck ready to play, then it isn’t preconstructed. I guess the term “ready to play” should be used with preconstructed decks.
Question: Will Fate & Fury and the Event Decks get the option to sideboard between rounds? I feel like the answer should be “yes” since the decks come with sideboards.
G1: Price of Glory–Only because the lifegain aspect will hurt the basic burn and bust of the red sample deck; red might get in there off of better draws b/c of the smaller deck size, but I feel like the Intro pack has enough to slow down the early game and then gain incremental advantage.
G2: Kiora–I think Kiora’s tempo and card draw has better legs than Stampeding Hordes, especially b/c Hordes really needed to play a little lower to the ground in land count to win with such a nakedly aggressive strategy. A couple bad draws could wreck Hordes so I vote for Kiora’s more robust list.
G3: Black–It’s more focused and those threes and four-ofs will make its game much stronger than the only sometimes value that will happen with Cruel Plots.
G4: Fate & Fury–I think F&F has so much more focus than Surprise Attack, although I really like the trickiness of Attack’s morphs. But again, having twelve ramp creatures beats the three Embodiments and the bombs in F&F are just so much better than Attack’s, I think even the uncertainty the morphs bring and the tempo plays aren’t going to be able to overcome just how much faster F&F can go big. I think this will go even more in F&F’s favor if it’s allowed to sideboard because those Reclamations Sages will blow up Attack’s enchantments and bouncing them will only hurt Attack.
Good question, but in times past with Event Decks, we’ve never allowed sideboarding. The main reason being, that it involves a separate skill set, and could hurt the deck if the wrong things are taken out by whomever is piloting. Thus, just the “stock” list. In a similar vein, Commander decks are piloted as a stock list as well- no “command zone” or commander to summon (unless they draw it and cast from hand)
I presume that means that Commander decks will be playing by standard rules altogether right? 20 life, no commander damage, etc.
This definitely has a significant impact on how I feel about the chances for the success rates of the Commander and Event Deck lists, so I’m glad you answered!
I’m glad you asked! I’ll make sure that gets addressed before Commander decks come up in the brackets. That’s correct- it’s simply a 100 card deck, no special ruleset.
Game one – Price of Glory
Game two – Kiora
Game three – Black Guide Deck
Game four – Fate and Fury
Price of glory
The moment I read the email I was cheering 😀 It’s been way too long since we had a precon championship and it’s so much fun! Haven’t kept up much with the decks, but here are my predictions for round 1:
1. price of glory
2. stampeding hordes
3. cruel plots
4. fate and fury
Game 1: Price of Glory, because W/B always pays its debts?
Game 2: Kiora. Get her her ramp and she will here stand.
Game 3: Black. Ob Nixilis and card advantage. His is the fury.
Game 4: Fate and Fury. I ran out of GoT jokes.
In a rush or I’d put detailed thoughts down. Always comes back to card advantage in one form or another though.
Alright, here’re my guesses:
Price of Glory, Stampeding Hordes, Black Player’s Guide, Fate and Fury.
– I think Price of Glory will be able to simply outlast the 30 card welcome deck, as (if I remember correctly), it should be able to deal with the big things Red can get out and still be able to stick around and simply win (by decking if necessary)
– Stampeding Hordes: anecdotal evidence! I saw a reasonably- new player take down an FNM with this against fully- loaded standard decks.
– Black Player’s Guide: consistency, although I wouldn’t be surprised if it lost. I mostly remember exploit being a bit feast or famine, so if it manages to not draw correctly, the black deck should be able to keep itself together
– Fate and Fury: I just happen to like this deck.
Working on the theory that the deck I like better will always lose …
Game 1: Red Sample Deck.
Game 2: Kiora.
Game 3: Black Player’s Guide Deck.
Game 4: Fate & Fury.
Interesting. The results of the qualifying round are surprising already. I would have bet for Conquering Hordes to beat Kiora in 8 games out of 10, but sometimes the two games that Kiora wins are the ones that count… Magic always had an amount of luck in its games, this is probably what keeps it fascinating after all the years… I could never imagine playing so many games of chess, it gets boring pretty soon.
The above comments show that my predictions tend to be wrong, but nevertheless…
G1: Red sample deck (I was never impressed with Price of Glory)
G2: Kiora (obviously on a win streak)
G3: Black (much more consistency, also less likely to get mana problems)
G4: Fate & Fury (better card quality)
I agree with signofzeta above: Simple deck listings without any cards provided should not really count as a preceonstructed deck since you still have to buy the cards. Entering the Clash Packs as three different decks is a nice idea, though
It´s sad that I won´t be able to compete in the whole contest since I will be away on holiday soon and i purposely keep away from ALL online activities during vacancies. There are times I just need to get away from this, no offense meant. I will be checking on the results when I return.
Keep up the good work.
G1 – Price of Glory
G2 – Kiora
G3 – Black
G4 – Fate & Fury
G1: Red sample deck. Consistency FTW.
G3: Black. Cruel Plots doesn’t seem very competent.
G4: Fate and Fury, because I like the name.
Thank you for doing this again, I always had fun with these. Not much time to comment, but here are my predictions…
G1: Price of Glory
G4: Fate & Fury
G1: Red Sample Deck
G3: Black Sample Deck
G4: Fate and Fury
G1- price of glory
Game one – Price of Glory
Game two – Kiora
Game three – Black Guide Deck
Game four – Fate and Fury