2014-2015 Precon Championships: Tinsman Division (Part 1 of 2)
In the six different Preconstructed Championships we’ve held to date, the Rosewater Conference has gone on to win a commanding four of them. With two each for the Nagle and Tinsman Divisions, you could say there’s a rivalry at play here that makes these games ones to watch early on.
After all, four of the decks in play today will be sent to the showers, and only one of them will manage to survive all the way through to the Grand Final, and its moment of destiny. Which deck will it be? We won’t know that today- but we will know four of the decks it won’t be. Lets head down to the arena, the action is ready to begin!
Game One: Cunning Plan (Fate Reforged Intro Pack) versus Power and Profit (Fate Reforged Clash Pack)
Both decks hail from the same set, but when it comes down to the wire, that means absolutely nothing to these competitors. Each knows the only way to advance is by stepping over the fallen form of the other. And both decks have already been bloodied, having found qualifying-round success just to get here.
Cunning Plan has a solid opening grip, offset by the lack of one color. Still, it pays off with an early Jeskai Elder, while Power and Profit starts stocking the pantry with Sultai Ascendancy and Commune with the Gods.
Unfortunately, the promising start for Plan doesn’t come to fruition, as it gets stuck on four mana. Meanwhile, a Herald of Torment and Nemesis of Mortals arrives to keep the Intro Pack under pressure.
Cunning Plan fights back valiantly, taking down some of the Event Deck’s strongest deployments with a mix of burn and prowess triggers, but it can hold out for only so long. A Scuttling Doom Engine all but assures victory to Power and Profit on the spot.
Neither deck seems disposed for a blazing start, preferring to each build up a wall of troops before looking for a breakthrough. Cunning Plan trots out a Jeskai Windscout, Goblinslide, and Mistfire Adept. For its part, Power and Profit finds a Nyx Weaver, Brain Maggot (hitting a Lightning Strike), and Eidolon of Blossoms.
The Weaver catches a Bathe in Dragonfire, letting Cunning Plan hammer in for 7 in a stroke. But it’s the best shot the deck has, and after a Doomwake Giant touches down to kill off the Windscout and 1/1 Goblin token followed by a Nighthowler, Cunning Plan just can’t deal with the brute force its facing.
WINNER: Power and Profit
Game Two: Red (Magic 2015 Player’s Guide) versus Mardu Raiders (Khans of Tarkir Intro Pack)
With Red keeping a slightly mana-bloated hand, both sides go toe to toe from the outset. Red’s Foundry Street Denizen gets picked off from Raise the Alarm, while a Mardu Hateblade and Borderland Marauder trade with one another.
Red then snipes a Raiders’ Goblin Roughrider by popping an Inferno Fist, sending in a Krenko’s Enforcer girded with another one. Undaunted, Mardu Raiders gets their Hateblade back through the Timely Hordemate. But when Red resolves a Burning Anger on the Enforcer and turning it into a killing machine, things begin to look grim.
However, on its second draw following, Mardu Raiders topdecks a Heat Ray, letting it kill the Enforcer. It then tries to capitalize behind a Necrogen Scudder and Goblin Roughrider, but two Lightning Strikes from Red puts things back at square one. After a Mardu Hordechief and Goblin Roughrider trade out, both decks are in full-on topdeck mode. The game is up in the air, and will fall to whichever deck can find threats first.
Red leaps out quickly behind a Foundry Street Denizen with an Inferno Fist, but Raiders dashes any hope for a runaway blitz win when it Lightning Strikes a Goblin Rabblemaster the moment it touches down. Raiders then starts to stabilize behind a Mardu Hordechief and 1/1 Warrior token.
Seeing its opportunity to overwhelm its opponent slipping away, Red blasts away with two Lightning Strikes and a pop of the Inferno Fist to bathe Raiders’ board in fire and clear the attack lanes through the red zone. Raiders still hangs in there, thanks to removal such as the Mardu Charm and Heat Ray.
But Red then rips the Soul of Shandalar, which swings in to kill a chump-blocker and throw burn across the table. Mardu Raiders topdecks Crackling Doom perhaps one turn too late; with the Soul in the graveyard, it gets one more burn activation, and forces a game three!
As you’d expect to see in the game that settles it all, it’s another back-and-forth slugfest between these two well-matched decks. Red opens behind a couple of Foundry Street Denizens, twin Goblin Roughriders, and a Paragon of Fierce Defiance.
Mardu Raiders, meanwhile, finds a Goblin Roughrider of its own, a War-Name Aspirant, and a Crippling Blight to kill off one of the Denizens. As the blows go back and forth, Raiders adds a Carrion Crow and Gurmag Swiftwing for an air force, as well as a Mardu Skullhunter and Hateblade. But Red owns the ground, particularly when a Paragon of Fierce Defiance arrives. Although the Paragon eventually falls to a Heat Ray, a Lava Axe leaves Raiders at 2 life.
Red then draws a Burning Anger- just the thing to close the game out! Alas, the only creature left on its side of the table after all the attrition is a Foundry Street Denizen. Raiders doesn’t have enough power on the board to take Red out before dying to a ping from the Denizen. But it reaches over to its library one last time, hoping against hope, and draws…
…a Trumpet Blast! It sends in the side, then casts the Blast for the win. A nailbiter!
WINNER: Mardu Raiders
Game Three: Green (Magic 2015 Player’s Guide) versus Sultai Schemers (Khans of Tarkir Intro Pack)
The Green deck, a stompy-based strategy that looks to power out powerful cards thanks to convoke, has as good a start as any behind an Elvish Mystic, pair of Living Totems, and Shaman of Spring. Schemers, however, has a similarly capable lead-in, opening with a Research Assistant, then finding a Debilitating Injury to pick off the Mystic, a Bitter Revelation, and Sultai Soothsayer (finding a Rakshasa Vizier).
While Green has found a Siege Wurm, Schemers doesn’t even blink as it deploys the Vizier, then delves a full seven cards to discount the Shambling Attendants. This ramps up the Vizier to an 11/11 creature, and Schemers is in a good place.
Even a second Wurm doesn’t faze it, as another dose of delve makes the Vizier a 13/13. Although a Necropolis Fiend draws a Plummet, Green simply doesn’t have enough answers for the threats of Schemers, and gets ground down.
Perhaps worried about letting Schemers get a foothold, Green flies off the blocks in the second round behind a pair of Elvish Mystics and two Living Totems. This helps pave the way for an Ancient Silverback and Genesis Hydra, all the while as Schemers struggles with its manabase a bit. When Green destroys the crucial Sultai Banner with a Reclamation Sage, there’s no way the Sultai deck can come back. It buys a little more time with Typhoid Rats, but in the end is simply overrun.
With everything to play for, both decks lay it out on the line. The Sultai snipe an early Elvish Mystic with Debilitating Injury, but Green still lands a 4/4 Genesis Hydra. Schemers manages to find some board presence behind a Sultai Soothsayer and Black Cat, the latter a true deterrent- Green is carrying a pair of Siege Wurms in hand, and doesn’t want to lose them.
The first Wurm out the door gets Set Adrift, forcing it to be recast the following turn. It then plays the second Wurm the following turn, and with both Wurms safely on the battlefield Green goes on the offensive.
However, the Schemers are fairly-named, and a Murderous Cut snuffs out the first Wurm. Next turn, the second Wurm is killed when Schemers casts Become Immense on the Soothsayer. And just like that, the Green surge is spent, two Siege Wurms in the graveyard in as many turns.
Although the Necropolis Fiend is once again hit by Plummet, a Gravedigger brings it right back to hand. When Green tries to kill the resummoned Fiend with Titanic Growth on a Netcaster Spider, Schemers happily responds with a Sultai Charm. The Schemers just seem to have all the answers for the third, and an alpha strike sees Green go down in defeat.
WINNER: Sultai Schemers
Game Four: White (Magic 2015 Player’s Guide) versus Black (Magic 2015 Sample Deck)
White launches forward from its first land drop, chaining a Soulmender, Kinsbaile Skirmisher, then second Soulmender and Sungrace Pegasus until it starts missing land drops on turn 4. Black, meanwhile, gums up the ground game with a Witch’s Familiar, leaving just the Pegasus in the air. A Staff of the Death Magus offers a steady stream of life, and it kills off one of the Soulmenders with a Crippling Blight.
White doubles its offensive output when it drops a Divine Favor on the Pegasus, but a Mind Rot from Black hits its three-card hand particularly hard (it keeps Devouring Light, sending off Raise the Alarm and the Paragon of New Dawns). Black then reloads with a Sign in Blood, and seems to be finding the upper hand.
White follows with another Skirmisher and Pegasus, whittling away at Black’s life total but only slowly moving the needle thanks to the Staff. Black then nukes the offending Pegasus with a Flesh to Dust, adds a second Witch’s Familiar, and finds a pair of Typhoid Rats. When Black finds the Paragon of Open Graves, it looks to be fairly secure in its defenses, but White answers with Triplicate Spirits. Its decision to keep removal is vindicated when it’s able to sort out a Nightmare before it ever connects, but Black exacts revenge with a well-placed Festergloom, wiping out the Spirits and remaining Soulmender.
White is clearly struggling as Black seems ascendent, but then a Raise the Alarm at the end of Black’s turn followed by an ambush Sanctified Charge breaks Black wide open. Only a Flesh to Dust on the Pegasus before it connects keeps Black uprights, but Black then sets right back to rebuilding with a Sengir Vampire and Zof Shade.
Although White has a massive life total advantage thanks to lots of early attacks and lifelink, Black is relentless in the air. White manages to stabilize behind Spirit Bonds and the Soul of Theros… and then Black simply runs out of cards. A sad end for such a well-fought game.
Although Black opens with Typhoid Rats, it doesn’t do much to stop White’s onslaught of Raise the Alarm, a Kinsbaile Skirmisher, and a convoked Triplicate Spirits. Black does manage a Walking Corpse, then digs for answers with a Sign in Blood (and finding one in a Festergloom).
However, White beats Black to the punch, dropping the Paragon of New Dawns. Checkmate- Black doesn’t stand a chance.
And there you have it! Four decks down, and next week three more will join them as a winner of the Tinsman Division is anointed. Look for the prediction thread and league standings up tomorrow!