Welcome to the next installment of Whispers of the Muse, the occasional feature where a reader submits their tinkering of a precon deck and look for constructive criticism and feedback from the community. Today we’re hearing from Mart, who’s begun working on Zendikar’s The Adventurers.
Mart’s main area of concern is this:
anyone care to comment on it and help me tighten it up? perhaps even help me figure out how to properly shape a deck based on land and CMC since i really have no clue how to do that…
Mart included his preliminary 60-card list as follows:
As luck had it, the last deck Sam hadn’t played yet in opposition to the deck I was featuring was Rise of the Vampires, which was the exact deck I played when Sam selected Kor Armory. And so it came to pass that we would be having ourselves a rematch of sorts, mono-White against mono-Black, with each shoe firmly on the other foot. We shuffled, played a friendly to establish play order, and laid into it. Here are our notes.
Welcome back! When last we left Zendikar, we were picking apart the Blue/Green Unstable Terrain, which used an army of Landfall-enabled beaters to dominate the red zone. With Sam challenging behind the Red/Blue Pumped Up, we put Terrain to the test, and here’s how it did!
In one of the earliest articles on Ertai’s Lament, we took a look at a classic gem- 1998’s Call of the Kor from the Stronghold set, and traced the development of the Kor through to their recasting as the embattled, travel-hardened nomadic inhabitants of the plane of Zendikar.
Kor Armory was a mono-coloured deck in a set that featured two of them, standing in stark contrast to the mono-Black Rise of the Vampires. Like Vampires, it has the expected Weenie/swarm approach, and is noteworthy for being almost completely tribal (a mere one Creature card out of place).
Zendikar’s unique mana and its own fierce ecology combine to cause violent and erratic changes in the terrain. The land shudders and writhes, causing tectonic chaos, extreme weather, and sudden destruction. This volatility is known as “The Roil.” Large boulders and shards of rock erupt from the earth, and then subside when The Roil shifts away. Winds generated by the The Roil turn debris and vegetation into a devastating funnel clouds. Over water, The Roil creates whirlpools that can suck a boat to the bottom of the ocean or waves that crash into high cliffs and flood the forests beyond. (Exploring Zendikar)
Welcome back to the Zendikar set Intro Pack review. Today we’ll be looking at the aptly-named Unstable Terrain, which draws as its inspiration a key feature about Zendikar’s ever-shifting landscape: its turbulence! As explained above, the Roil is the name given to this unstable phenomenon, and as we all know Zendikar is the set where “Land matters.”
With each of the five preconstructed decks drawing inspiration from a different facet of the set, Unstable Terrain explores the Landfall mechanic in a Blue-Green beatdown setting. Indeed, there’s very little here in the way of noncreature threat, so let’s begin with the deck’s main win condition: its creatures.
It was with a certain amount of dread that I squared off against Sam to test the Pumped Up deck, having seen her drag the box for The Adventurers over to her side of the table. In general, Wizards does a very good job of balancing the preconstructed decks within a release, but The Adventurers has had a certain reputation at our table for being the brute of the litter. Although underwhelmed by Pumped Up in our initial review, I was also keen to see how it fared against so worthy an adversary. Here are the notes from this epic engagement.
Here’s a kicker- for your opponent. Pay some extra mana when you cast a spell and gain an added effect. Then send out some red Goblins, Elementals, and Minotaurs for a fast and furious assault. Top it off using the haste of the Hellkite Charger, which lets you attack twice!
So begins our introduction to Zendikar’s Red/Blue Pumped Up preconstructed deck, the blurb coming straight off the packaging. As indicated, this particular deck looks to showcase the Kicker mechanic, which made a return in the set. Although we’ve already expressed some disappointment in the Zendikar decks for failing to fully showcase all the set has to offer (Quests and Traps being the most lacking), Pumped Up does at least a passable job with what it’s designed to do, but is lacking in a lot of areas as well.
Well here’s a novel idea, we thought: for Rise of the Vampires’ playtest, why not put it up in a “mirror-match” of sorts against Zendikar’s mono-White equivalent, Kor Armory. As we’d hoped, this yielded a very spirited contest for Sam and I, and changed our thinking on one of the deck’s power cards- not for the better.
As previously discussed on our feature on Vampires in Magic, the eclipse of the Zombie tribe by the Vampires entered full swing with the Zendikar set. Although a last-minute addition in design, they went on to stake a claim to a very flavourful part of Zendikar lore. Rise of the Vampires, as a mono-Black deck, seeks to showcase this aspect of the set, and does a respectable job of giving them their proper showing. The model was successful enough that Wizards would go on to recur it in Worldwake, which featured an updated version of the concept.
In previous incarnations, Vampires tended to be bigger and at the higher rarities. Magic’s “Vampire 2.0” slotted nicely in the design space once occupied by their less comely Undead bretheren- namely, the Zombies- which was comprised of Weenie creatures with frequent ‘twist’ abilities or gimmicks. In our analysis of the deck, there is no better place to begin.
Excited to tear into the Zendikar precons after such a show of support for them in our ‘Thoughtsieze’ poll, Sam and I sat down to give it a run through its paces and see how the deck held up. Sam grabbed Unstable Terrain, and we were off! Here are our notes from the matchup.