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Unfamiliar Pre-Release - Angelo Paolucci (7/25/2013)

Ahhh.... finally done working for the day. Not like my head was into what I was doing anyway. Normally I would, but not today. Today is no ordinary day. Today is the day you can play with unreleased cards. Its Pre-release day and I had to miss my normal one at my LGS. I now have to travel to play. Where? To an unfamiliar place. No comfort in the play tendencies or even my surroundings. A challenge awaits at Fantastic Cards in Columbiana OH, and I'm ready for it.

I don my nerdiest apparel, grab a playmat and sleeves, then head out on my 45 minute drive to begin this endeavor. Upon arrival, the shopkeep welcomes me with open arms. When he receives compensation for entry he makes me aware that the tournament will be starting in another 20 minutes and not a moment later. Good, prompt at 7:00, just as it should be. Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
ReconnaissanceSet: Exodus
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Number:
17
Artist:
Val Mayerik
Text:
0: Remove target attacking creature you control from combat and untap it. (That creature neither deals nor receives combat damage this turn.)
must be done. Who are these players? Can I learn tendencies from their personalities? Impossible, these guys are tough nuts to crack. Not enough time. I'll have to continue trying during the rounds of play.

"Everyone entered in tonight's event please head to the Magic gaming room located downstairs" the shopkeep bellows through a microphone so everyone can hear him. We all take note of the announcement and head off to the gaming room. Six packs of M14, a promo card,and a few rules change announcements later and packs are getting ripped into.

Quickly, gotta separate the cards into color. Done. Next go through each color looking for obvious color choices. None. No deck swap this time. This is my pile. I gotta make it work. Black is unplayable short of a Doom Blade
Doom Blade
Doom BladeSet: Magic 2010
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
93
Artist:
Chippy
Text:
Destroy target nonblack creature.
. Might be able to splash for that. Red maybe, there's some removal but few creatures. Green and white look strong but short on playables. The blue has plenty of utility. Looks like W/G it is. Crap! Only 16 cards! I gotta add a third color. This is not something I want to do. Blue fits the best, so put in those two Verdant Haven
Verdant Haven
Verdant HavenSet: Gatecrash
Cost:
3
Color:
Green
Type:
Enchantment
Sub Type:
Aura
Rarity:
C
Number:
138
Artist:
Daniel Ljunggren
Text:
Enchant land When Verdant Haven enters the battlefield, you gain 2 life. Whenever enchanted land is tapped for mana, its controller adds one mana of any color to his or her mana pool (in addition to the mana the land produces).
s I got and maybe try this.

This can't be right. There are too many double colored spells. This will never work. Time to check B/R again. Only five critters between those two colors, impossible! Wait a second, how many did I even get? Twenty Five! I'm screwed. Bad Bant
Bant
BantSet: Planechase
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Plane
Sub Type:
Alara
Rarity:
C
Number:
4
Artist:
Michael Komarck
Text:
All creatures have exalted. (Whenever a creature attacks alone, it gets +1/+1 until end of turn for each instance of exalted among permanents its controller controls.) Whenever you roll {C}, put a divinity counter on target green, white, or blue creature. That creature is indestructible as long as it has a divinity counter on it.
it is then. This is going to be a long night.

Round 1 began with me trying for some small talk and only receiving one word responses. Master of Diversion
Master of Diversion
Master of DiversionSet: Magic 2014 Core Set
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Scout
Rarity:
C
Number:
24
Artist:
Michael Komarck
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Whenever Master of Diversion attacks, tap target creature defending player controls.
backed with some timely removal spelled a quick end to game 1. In game 2 I stuck a Fiendslayer Paladin
Fiendslayer Paladin
Fiendslayer PaladinSet: Magic 2014 Core Set
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Knight
Rarity:
R
Number:
18
Artist:
Wesley Burt
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
First strike (This creature deals combat damage before creatures without first strike.) Lifelink (Damage dealt by this creature also causes you to gain that much life.) Fiendslayer Paladin can't be the target of black or red spells your opponents control.
with a Trollhide
Trollhide
TrollhideSet: Magic 2012
Cost:
3
Color:
Green
Type:
Enchantment
Sub Type:
Aura
Rarity:
C
Number:
199
Artist:
Steven Belledin
Text:
Enchant creature Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 and has "{1}{G}: Regenerate this creature." (The next time the creature would be destroyed this turn, it isn't. Instead tap it, remove all damage from it, and remove it from combat.)
attached and a Trained Condor
Trained Condor
Trained CondorSet: Magic 2014 Core Set
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Bird
Rarity:
C
Number:
76
Artist:
Alex Horley-Orlandelli
Power:
2
Toughness:
1
Text:
Flying Whenever Trained Condor attacks, another target creature you control gains flying until end of turn.
pushes me over the top, literally. Game 3 brought a mis-play and expected mana problems. Down a match in this 4 round affair.

Round 2 a bye is received. Its now time to scout things out and maybe get a feel for these people's decks and personalities. The question is who? The baker that brought all the free pastries from The Bread Chef? Magic players can be socially awkward but an entrepreneur should not be. That's gotta be the way in. I was right. I immediately begin to make in roads to possible opponents and noticed some interesting card choices and play styles. One gentleman in the corner however, I got nothing out of. Hope he's not my opponent in round 3.

Well , just as I figured. The man in the corner is the guy I must do battle with. He plays an Archangel of Thune
Archangel of Thune
Archangel of ThuneSet: Magic 2014 Core Set
Cost:
5
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Angel
Rarity:
M
Number:
5
Artist:
James Ryman
Power:
3
Toughness:
4
Text:
Flying Lifelink (Damage dealt by this creature also causes you to gain that much life.) Whenever you gain life, put a +1/+1 counter on each creature you control.
on turn 5 all three games. It was dealt with in all of them as well. Only problem was that in two games his slivers began to get a few tokens to back them up, so my demise was inevitable.

With a record of 1-2 heading into the fourth and final round things are not looking so good. Wait, there is a glimmer of hope. I got paired up. After baiting an Essence Scatter
Essence Scatter
Essence ScatterSet: Magic 2010
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
51
Artist:
Jon Foster
Text:
Counter target creature spell.
with a turn 2 Predatory Sliver
Predatory Sliver
Predatory SliverSet: Magic 2014 Core Set
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Sliver
Rarity:
C
Number:
189
Artist:
Mathias Kollros
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Sliver creatures you control get +1/+1.
, I played a Witchstalker
Witchstalker
WitchstalkerSet: Magic 2014 Core Set
Cost:
3
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Wolf
Rarity:
R
Number:
202
Artist:
Christopher Moeller
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
Hexproof (This creature can't be the target of spells or abilities your opponents control.) Whenever an opponent casts a blue or black spell during your turn, put a +1/+1 counter on Witchstalker.
the next turn. She no longer seemed willing to play her blue spells on my turn so I got there on that card alone. Game 2 I played around her counters while she stumbled for mana sources. After a few creatures stuck she no longer had any option but to tap out on her turn and play some critters, which were promptly dealt with every time. Now, sitting at 2-2, the tournament ends.

After leaving the restroom I hear "In fourth place, Angelo. Come to the counter to collect your prizes." What? That can't be right. I check the tiebreakers and to my surprise, it is. Wow. Apparently winning at least one game each match and two "technical" sweeps gave me the best breakers among the players with 6 points. Even my first round opponent, who I lost to, was below me. Time to collect packs.

I say goodbye to a lot of the players there and gather my things to leave. All in all it was a successful outing considering how bad my deck was. I never expected to place. Whats my overall impression of the M14 Sealed Format? It's good. Play skill can dominate and even pull off wins that you have no right having. I will do it again on MTGO in a couple weeks just to tide me over until the next real pre-release, Theros.


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