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It’s A Soft Opening: My Prerelease Weekend & Week One FNM

It Will Be Nice Working With Proper Villains Again

Everyone gets excited about prerelease weekend. It is our first chance to try out the new cards in paper and everyone is on a similar playing field during a sealed event, you play what you open.

This was my first prerelease weekend where I played as many events that Goblin Traders offered. I was also part of the bounty event that the shop was hosting, if a player defeats me or one of the other players with a bounty on their head, you get a pack of Theros: Beyond Death. I am proud to say that I only awarded 4 packs throughout the weekend, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t face some fantastic competition throughout the events.

It's not in my nature to be mysterious, but I can't talk about it and I can't talk about why.

The first event was the Friday evening prerelease in place of FNM. Upon opening my prerelease kit and seeing my promo, which was Tymaret Calls the Dead, my excitement peaked. Once I finished opening my sealed pool the direction my build was heading was made clear. This is where I ended up.

Let me just say that black is by far the deepest color in this limited format. There is so much removal in black and white is the color with the second highest count of removal spells. The fact that the rares in my pool that I opened were also in those colors did not hurt either.

Archon of Sun’s Grace was the bombiest bomb that I had the joy of playing in this deck. If it resolved and you untapped with the game was essentially over. A lot of the cards that you already want to play just happen to be enchantments, in turn they trigger the Archon and crank out pegasi. In a similar vein, I would use Taranika, Akroan Veteran to push through damage when it was needed, given that my deck ended up with a fair amount of flyers it was instrumental in a number of wins throughout the evening.

Erebos, Bleak-Hearted and Tymaret Calls the Dead were invaluable as well. Erebos became a creature much more often than I expected and the rare saga gave me the ability to stabilize, thanks to the zombie tokens, and plan for the later turns of the game thanks to the scrying and life gain from the last chapter.

Enough about the rares, lest we forget the real meat and potatoes of a limited format. The uncommons and commons that really shined for me where Blight-Breath Catoblepas (pronunciation: kah-TA-ble-pus), Pharika's Spawn and Mire’s Grasp. Technically these are all three removal spells in some shape or form, but there is much more here than meets the eye. The first two are also creatures that do what creatures do and the third is an enchantment for those strategies that care about that.

I ended this event with a 3-1 record and won some packs in the process.

Bounty giveaway count: 1 pack

Overall weekend record: 3-1

There's Water In The Basement, And The Pilot Light Is Out

My second prerelease event was the Two-Headed Giant event Saturday morning. My teammate was my good best friend and my co-host of the Destroy Target Permanent podcast, Jeremy Stickland. We dubbed ourselves The Destroy Target Team, and we did our best to live up to that moniker.

True to form we opened our kits and we had the same promo, Nylea, Keen-Eyed. So one of us was going to play green. Once all of the packs were opened and we laid out the pools together, we decided that I would be on green red and Jeremy would play a black white deck that was very similar to the deck I had the previous evening.

The gods were on our side for this event and they are very powerful as one would expect. For the most part Purphuros, Bronze-Blooded was a five mana enchantment that gave my creatures haste and it was still great. Nylea’s mana reduction ability was fantastic and made getting my devotion to the proper threshold to make Nylea a creature. Setessan Champion was exactly has great as advertised, not that I am surprised.

All-Stars in this build were Hydra’s Growth and Setessan Training. The stories that we heard throughout the entire weekend surrounding Hydra’s Growth were wild and impressive. When you combine these two enchantments things get really ridiculous, really fast. The enchanted creature quickly becomes a threat that must be dealt with or you lose the game. Another great roleplayer in this deck was Warden of the Chained. While my deck was not the best at allowing this minotaur to attack, it blocks just fine; allowing me to stabilize against any early aggression.

Our team ended with a record of 2 wins and 1 loss. Believe me the loss was to two decks that blew ours out of the water.

Bounty giveaway count: 2 packs

Overall weekend record: 5-2

You Think We Need One More. Alright, We’ll Get One More.

The final prerelease event that I participated in was Saturday night's main event. This sealed pool started out pretty rough. The first three rares that I saw, including my promo, were lands. No one wants to see that, but then I opened one of the rares or mythics that are tied for the top spot, Dream Trawler. This is one of the rares you want to open in this format, the other being Kiora Bests the Sea God.

It has been a little while since I piloted a control deck, and this one ended up serving me well. I jokingly told people that my deck was “survive until I draw Dream Trawler” and that is how the games played out throughout the evening.

This deck had a very classic control deck feel to it. Removal was the name of the game in the early turns, whether it was with spells or blocking with early creatures. Once I reached the point where I found Dream Trawler and resolved it, winning those matches became trivial.

The most interesting game that I played during this event was in round 2 against Danny Wheeler. He was piloting a very cool green black deck. We found ourselves in the late stages of the game, low on cards in hand and repeatedly “escaping” creatures from our graveyards. I eventually won the game and the match thanks to escaping a Woe Strider five separate times out of my graveyard. Needless to say that with a game going as long as this one did there was no shortage of cards in my graveyard to exile to the Escape cost.

I end the Swiss portion of the event with a 3-1-1 record, drawing into top 8 with Lane Johnson. The draw was greatly appreciated and sorely needed. After so many hours of magic, I was beginning to get tired.

The first match of the top eight was not a good one for me. My opponent, Helen Wheeler, had a very aggressive red white deck and vanquished me in quick order. Hakdos, the Unscarred is a hell of a card. She piloted the deck very well and my removal spells couldn’t keep up with the onslaught.

Overall, I feel that myself and my compatriots in the bounty event played well. We did our best to make the prerelease a little more exciting, if that was possible. Goblin Traders is a fantastic place to play some games and they always put on a fantastic prerelease weekend. I can not wait for the next prerelease weekend, although I may have to squeeze a nap somewhere next time.

Bounty giveaway total: 4 packs

Overall weekend final record: 8-4-1

I Only Lied About Being A Thief

Time for some standard! For those who know me, know that I am a fan of the blue cards and that hasn’t changed with this set. Thassa, Deep-Dwelling has risen from the depths to claim her throne as one of the most powerful cars in the set.

So when you want to build a deck around the powerful god of the sea, you start with maximizing the end-of-turn triggered ability. I was inspired to play an elementals list designed by Scottish Magic streamer Crokeyz. I really enjoy his stream and a lot of the decks that he produces go on to become important pillars in the standard format. I made a couple modification to his initial list to account for what I believe I will see at Goblin Traders for the first FNM of the new format.

I set out to test the list that Crokeyz had posted on his Twitter account and learn what I needed to about piloting it and see if there were any alterations I want to make to suit my shop’s metagame.

Brian Gottleib has said that if you’re playing Thassa, Deep-Dwelling, play four copies of Agent of Treachery. I couldn’t agree more. The first change that I made was to add 2 copies of the thefty agent. I was not able to confidently work in a full playset into the deck due to limited testing time.

Throughout Friday Night Magic this past weekend, the combo of Thassa and Agent of Treachery was unbeatable. I was only able to achieve a record of 2-2 with the above list, some of which was pilot error. I lost matches to Mono Black Devotion and an artifact based deck that’s affectionately dubbed Smash Mouth. It is difficult for a deck that relies on damage based removal to kill a Gingerbrute that is enchanted by All That Glitters. Sadly that is how my opponent defeated me during both of the games in our match.

While the Mono Black Devotion list was what you would expect for the most part, it had a card that proved more detrimental to my decks game plan; Underworld Dreams. Thanks to the triggered abilities of both Omnath, Locus of the Roil and Agent of Treachery my deck draws a lot of cards. I depleted my own life total in an attempt to find one of my copies of Mystic Repeal to deal with the black enchantment. I never found a way to deal with Underworld Dreams and in the interim my opponents board state grew out of my control and lost to a Gray Merchant of Asphodel played off the top of their library thanks to Bolas’s Citadel.

Event with the addition of the missing Scrylands from Theros: Beyond Death it seems that the mana bases of three color decks still isn’t perfect and players need to pay attention to that. During deck construction think about how you can see game realistically play out and how a hiccup in you mana development can affect that.

So It’s A Billy Martin? I Pass.

In closing, this set feels great. Theros: Beyond Death has single-handedly revitalized white based decks and control decks alike.

I’m confident enough in the Thassa Elementals deck list I posted above and played this past weekend. I know for a fact that with some work and restructuring that it can be a viable deck, but I can’t recommend that anyone play it if your focus is to win matches consistently.

So far Theros: Beyond Death standard has been a blast to play and there’s still a lot that we have yet to discover and unpack in the format. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, this is one of the most exciting times of the year for any Magic player.

Let me hear about any brews that you’ve been having fun or success with in the comments. I look forward to trying out some of your lists.

Good luck, I hope you lose.

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