2014-2015 Precon Championships: Nagle Division (Part 1 of 2)
There have been six previous Preconstructed Championships, and the outsize Nagle Division of the Rosewater Conference has tasted eternal glory not once, but twice. In the 2005-07 Season, Endless March from Planar Chaos was the last deck standing. Then for the 2011-12 Season, an Event Deck from Innistrad, Hold the Line, laid it all on the line and saw its name enshrined in the halls of heroes forever.
Will the 2014-15 Season see a three-time champion emerge? With the qualifying rounds over, eight decks stand ready to battle it out for the right to represent the Nagle Division in the Grand Final.
Now, let’s get to those games!
Game 1: Price of Glory (M15) versus Red Sample Deck (M15)
In the eternal rock-paper-scissors world of Magic, lifegain is a tried and true method of thwarting fast Red decks. The idea is, if you can last long enough, Red will run out of gas. The pregame friendly proved just that, with Price of Glory racking up scads of life and Red having little it could do to win. With the friendly out of the way, could it repeat the feat for victory?
In the opening tilt, Red takes advantage of a slow start by Price of Glory, stringing together a Borderland Marauder, Paragon of Fierce Defiance, and Thundering Giant to deliver a quick beating. Price of Glory can hardly keep up, leading with a Staff of the Sun Magus and (thanks to the presence of the Paragon) instantly-outclassed Wall of Essence.
Sensing victory within its grasp, Red goes all-out with the Borderland Marauder and Paragon a second time, though Price of Glory puts together some lifegain with the Soulmender and Wall of Essence.
Unfortunately, Price of Glory struggles with mana, giving Red plenty of time to get the job done after nuking the Wall with a Seismic Strike. Price never breaks even, and falls in two straight games.
WINNER: Red Sample Deck (Magic 2015)
Game 2: Kiora (Duel Decks: Elspeth vs Kiora) versus Stampeding Hordes (Fate Reforged Intro Pack)
Hordes is off to a solid start, leading with a Sandsteppe Outcast and Highspire Mantis. Kiora, meanwhile, only gets a pair of 2/2’s, but as they’re both Grazing Gladeharts, she’s able to start padding her life total quite nicely…until the land stops coming almost immediately after playing the fourth- and that one a useless Temple of the False God. Stampeding Hordes keeps firing in through the red zone.
Useless, at least, until Kiora finds a land off of a main-phase Accumulated Knowledge, plays it, then uses mana from the newly-activated Temple to fire off Explosive Vegetation for two more. In a stroke, Kiora’s gone from potentially faltering to being able next turn to clear the opposing board with a Scourge of Fleets. That turns the game on its axis, as Kiora uses a Man-o’-War and Peel from Reality to keep the attack lanes clean.
Hordes never recovers the momentum, and falls beneath the pressure.
Stampeding Hordes opens with a run of terrible luck, having to mulligan down to five cards. Still, it makes lemonade from lemons with the Sandsteppe Outcast and Geist of the Moors, though the latter is set back a turn with a Man-o’-War.
Undaunted, Hordes plays the Mantis, while Kiora counters with a Netcaster Spider to keep it stymied. Hordes gets the upper hand, however, when it uses Act of Treason to take the Spider for a ride and hammer in with attackers. Kiora tries to bounce the Mantis, but Hordes thwarts that with a clever use of War Flare.
The board thins out a bit with the Spider and Mantis trading, and the Outcast getting picked off with a Time to Feed. Things are going Hordes’ way, and Kiora is forced to play Kiora, the Crashing Wave to try and deflect some incoming fire. Hordes doesn’t take the bait, using Dragonrage on the a 1/1 Spirit token to drop Kiora down to 1 life.
Kiora claws a little back with another Time to Feed, trading the Man-o’-War for the Geist. She then deploys a Lorescale Coatl, and activates the planeswalker card for card draw. A replacement Netcaster Spider helps bide time.
The planeswalker +1 ability keeps a menacing Goblin Roughrider at bay, but Kiora is playing around a possible Deflecting Palm and has to be conservative on the attack. The Lorescale Coatl grows to a 13/13, but is kept on defense for fear of haste creatures. Finally, Kiora draws into a Plasm Capture, giving her the ability to alpha strike.
Sure enough, Hordes has the Palm, but the game is won when it’s countered.
WINNER: Kiora (Duel Decks: Elspeth vs Kiora)
Game 3: Cruel Plots (Dragons of Tarkir Intro Pack) versus Black Player’s Guide (Magic 2015)
The Player’s Guide opens with Typhoid Rats followed by a Shadowcloak Vampire, while Cruel Plots finds a Silumgar Monument and Youthful Scholar. Both decks go toe-to-toe from there, exchanging blow after blow. Plots chains some exploits, popping the Scholar for a Vulturous Aven and a Shambling Goblin to a Qarsi Sadist, using the Goblin’s death to kill off the Rats.
The Player’s Guide, meanwhile, blasts Plots’ hand with a Mind Rot, then drops down a Soul of Innistrad. Plots counters with a Ruthless Deathfang, then begins exploiting everything it can get its hands on, just to string Edicts together to cull the Black creatures facing it. Of course, with the Soul on board, they don’t stay dead for long.
The game is a tight one, but the tide soon turns when the red zone’s ground game gets too congested for effective attacks. Cruel Plots finishes the job in the air with the Deathfang and Monument.
Black comes out to another solid start, behind an Accursed Spirit, Mind Rot, and Sign in Blood. Cruel Plots again finds some fuel for the engine, however, with the Youthful Scholar, and it keeps the board under control with Sidisi’s Faithful and a Silumgar Butcher.
And so it goes, with Black landing threats and Plots finding answers. Ob Nixilis, Unshackled? Have a Death Wind. Soul of Innistrad? Here’s a Rakshasa Gravecaller and Coat with Venom. Though a couple of Rotfeaster Maggots keep Black in the hunt, both decks end up playing off the top of their libraries.
Plots turns in the play of the game facing down a Black Cat and Soul of Innistrad when it offers a Shambling Goblin up to a Qarsi Sadist, sniping the Cat. The forced random discard hits the only card in hand, an Island, but with a Ruthless Deathfang in play Black is forced to sacrifice the Soul of Innistrad, too. That opens the way to an alpha strike that just gets there for the win.
WINNER: Cruel Plots (Dragons of Tarkir Intro Pack)
Game 4: Surprise Attack (Fate Reforged Intro Pack) versus Fate and Fury (Magic 2015 Clash Pack)
Surprise Attack is happy enough to deploy a morphed Thousand Winds. Meanwhile, Fate and Fury has dropped a pair of Elvish Mystics and a Prophet of Kruphix. Although the Prophet finds its end with a Hunt the Weak, Fate and Fury drops a Nessian Game Warden, scoring a Hypnotic Siren.
Surprise Attack looks to turtle behind a Wall of Frost, but Fate and Fury opts to steal the Wall with the Siren and keep the pressure on. This forces Attack to lock the Wall down with Singing Bell Strike. Fate and Fury simply refuels with Jace’s Ingenuity and Divination.
As Fate and Fury closes in, Surprise Attack manages to unmorph Thousand Winds, sending a flood of creatures back to their owners’ hands (including the Wall). Against the odds, Surprise Attack manages to steal one when a morphed Woolly Loxodon slips past the enemy defenses, then uncloaks for lethal.
Attack finds Secret Plans, but Fate and Fury opens with a Mystic- a troubling sight. Attack then casts Write into Being, manifesting a Temur War Shaman. This is promising, as it’s an extra bit of removal once ready for flipping. Alas, Attack stalls out on land, setting it back at a crucial stage of development.
Fate and Fury has no such problems, landing Prophet of Kruphix and making the most of it to power out a load of creatures like the Nessian Courser, Horizon Chimera, and Nemesis of Mortals, all the while keeping its hand full through its card drawing options. It’s Surprise Attack’s nightmare scenario, and the poor Intro Pack can hardly keep up.
Fate and Fury stumbles early, getting stuck on Green mana- though it still manages a mana dork and Nessian Game Warden. Surprise Attack, meanwhile, brings out a Nimbus of the Isles and Arashin War Beast. Against all odds, could Surprise Attack pull off the upset?
Nope. Fate and Fury draws an Island, uses Curse of the Swine to destroy Attack’s offense, and stampedes in with Green fatties until Surprise Attack is dead.
WINNER: Fate and Fury (Magic 2015 Clash Pack)
And that’s it! Four decks down, four to go. Tune in next week, when the remaining four take one another on, and a winner of the Nagle Division is declared!