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From the Shell - Prophecy PreRelease Report
By Rob Myers
Hello, Magic fans, and welcome!

The Atlanta Prophecy PreRelease was held at the Hilton in Buckhead, hosted by the new Tournament Organizer in town, The War Room, who took over the duties after New Wave games was suddenly stripped of them only a couple of weeks ago.

The posse arrives at about 9 am or so. We are Rob Myers (that's me); Brian, who took up the combo banner after I swore it off last year, and is currently tormenting our local play group with his foily Replenish deck, which I like to call "Opallaxative;" Stephen, who is a relative newcomer to the game, and wins consistently with decks he designs himself; "Young" Andrew, who is entirely too clever for his age; and John, Brian's dad, who is way too old to be playing magical card games! Just kidding. John's been playing since The Dark, I think, and is a saavy player and drafter, not to mention our driver, so I'd probably better watch myself with the old-guy comments.

Hey guys, let's form a team! We can call it "Team Doesn't Get Out Much."

After a really long wait in line, we get registered (thirty dollars!? ...minus 1 point). Evidently there was some computer trouble that held them up; but as I said, it's their first big event, so I'm going to cut them a lot of slack. They'll need it.

We are seated and everyone gets a player packet, a large sealed envelope containing the Masques starter, three Prophecy boosters, deck-registration sheet, and (incredibly) a pen! The whole thing is brilliant (+1). While these are being distibuted, the TO apologizes for the delay. There is to be no deck swap (-1) and we are given 45 minutes to register the cards and build our decks. There is some grumbling from the assembly over the time given, but I think it was enough.

The cards:

I used 8 each of Forest and Plains, for a 42 card deck. I tried very hard to whittle it down to 40; I just couldn't. I also think I made a couple of mistakes with what I did cut, and these are noted.

GREEN

*Giant Caterpillar
*Jolrael's Favor
*Living Terrain x2
*Rib Cage Spider
*Sacred Prey
*Silt Crawler
*Spidersilk Armor
*Thresher Beast
*Tiger Claws
*Vine Trellis
*Vintara Elephant
Calming Verse x2 (maybe should have maindecked one or both)
Ferocity
Land Grant
Lure (why didn't I maindeck this? Am I stupid?)
Squallmonger (definitely should have maindecked)

WHITE

*Diving Griffin x2 (very nice)
*Excise
*Glittering Lynx
*Inviolability
*Mageta's Boon
*Mirror Strike (wow)
*Nightwind Glider
*Orim's Cure (probably better in sideboard)
*Ramosian Lieutenant
*Ramosian Rally
*Soul Charmer
Charm Peddler
Entangler
Ignoble Soldier
Rhystic Circle
Rhystic Shield

RED

Blaster Mage
Brawl
Devastate x2
Gerrard's Irregulars
Inflame
Keldon Arsonist
Keldon Berserker
Panic Attack
Ridgline Racer
Rock Badger
Sizzle
Stone Rain
Whip Sergeant

BLUE (a almost played blue/green... there is some great stuff here)

Alexi's Cloak
Avatar of Will (oh, how I wish I could have played blue)
Coastal Piracy (see above)
Counterspell
Darting Merfolk
Drake Hatchling
Hazy Homunculus
Misstep
Port Inspector
Rhystic Deluge
Rhystic Scrying
Ribbon Snake
Saprazzan Outrigger
Saprazzan Raider
Spiketail Hatchling x2
Statecraft
Withdraw

BLACK

Agent of Shauku x2
Cateran Brute
Cateran Persuader
Dark Ritual
Extortion
Fen Stalker
Flay
Greel's Caress
Highway Robber
Nakaya Shade
Sever Soul
Strongarm Thug
Undertaker

ARTIFACT

*Barbed Wire (not as good as I'd expected)
Credit Voucher
Keldon Battlewagon x2 (should I have played these?)
Toymaker


LAND

*Remote Farm
Sandstone Needle
Saprazzan Cove

*= What cards I used.

Round 1: Bob (black/white/blue)

For the first couple of turns, we play land. On my third turn, with a couple of Forests and a Plains, I toss out a Nightwind Glider.. On his, he hires a Mine Bearer, so I'm only able to get one attack with the Glider through, while the Mine Bearer is still filling out his union paperwork. Just after said attack, I set up some Barbed Wire and hope for the best. (20/18)
On his fourth turn, he lays his second Swamp and sends in Highway Robbers, who want my money and my life, bringing Bob back to 19. He follows up by attacking with Mine Bearers. I guess he wasn't too worried about the Glider. (17/19)
My turn, I get stuck by my Barbed Wire and send the Glider over again.(16/17)
Bob then plays an Island and a Saprazzan Outrigger--pretty big stuff--then sends his Robbers and Mine Bearer over again. At (13/18) with not much to show for as far as creatures go, I ought to be worried, but I might have something up my sleeve.
On my turn I play a Vine Trellis and a Diving Griffin (2/2 flying, doesn't tap to attack) and send my Glider over to be destroyed by the Mine Bearer (must've been one of those special kind of ground-to-air mines). On his, he summons a Jeweled Spirit (3/3 flying, sac 2 lands to give it Pro:any color or artifacts). He holds back this turn, and I think it's because he doesn't want the Outrigger back on top of his library just yet. (12/17)
Now, I think I'm where I want to be, if I can get him to attack me with the Outrigger. I play another Forest and put Inviolability on the Griffin, then say, "done." Now, we each have 6 untapped lands. I watch nervously as he lays another land, then attacks with the Outrigger, Spirit, and Robbers.
Here's what happens:
I declare the Griffin as a blocker for the Spirit and the Vine Trellis for the Outrigger. I respond to this by tapping the Griffin to play Ramosian Rally for free, even though I have plenty of mana to pay for it. When the Rally resolves, I'll have a 1/5 wall blocking the 5/5 Outrigger, and a 3/3 Griffin blocking the 3/3 Spirit. This looks like it could go very badly for me, doesn't it? I was hoping Bob would think the same thing. It looks like he does, since he makes a critical error by responding to the Rally by sacrificing two lands to give his Spirit protection form White. This gives me the opening I need to play Excise, targetting the Outrigger. X is equal to 6 (thanks to the Trellis) and Bob now only has 5 lands. Outrigger goes away forever, and the Griffin holds off the Spirit, while the Robbers get through for 2. (10/16)
On my turn, I play a Spidersilk Armor. He then uses Sever Soul to gain 5 life, but that's just delaying the inevitable, as I'm playing big creatures and defensive enchantments to keep me alive, while the Barbed Wire slowly wears him down.
In all, Game 1 takes 40 minutes. By the time Bob makes his sideboard decisions and shuffles, the Judge has called a 5-minute notice, and there's no way for Game 2 to finish, especially with Bob taking at least a minute every turn to consider his options.
1-0 (1-0)

There's a lunch break (+1 for the break, -1 for starting it when time was called and not when the last match actually ended, since mine was one of the last) and I head out for some McDonald's. When I get there, the place is packed, and I have to head back without getting any food, before the next round begins. Luckily, I'd brought snacks, and I munch on peanut-butter crackers chased with the iced water that was provided, compliments of the hotel.

Round 2: Billy T. blue/white
Game 1:
Billy remembers playing me back at Nemesis PR, and once he says so, I recognize him as well. I recall that our match then was a good one.
Billy goes first with an Island. I play a Plains and a Glittering Lynx (1/1 protection from damage, any player pays 2: loses protection from damage). Billy plays a land and taps out for Hazy Homunculus (1/1 can't be blocked unless I'm tapped out). I play another Plains and pounce with the Lynx. He plays a Saprazzan Legate and sends the Hazy Homey over. I miss a land drop and, cursing my luck, end my turn. Billy plays another land and attacks with the Legate. (18/19)
On my turn, I play a Plains. Yay.
Billy plays a land and a Gulf Squid (2/2 tap a player's lands when it CIP) and attacks with the Legate.(17/19)
I play another Plains and a Diving Griffin. Billy plays an Aura Fracture and I'm screwed.
After this, he plays creatures, I never see a Forest, and my white defensive enchantments are useless, especially after he plays a Devout Witness.
1-0 (1-1)
Game 2:
Billy plays a second-turn Ramosian Lieutenant. On my turn I play Nightwind Glider. We trade hits, and he summons a Chambered Nautilus. When I try to play a Silt Crawler, he Foils it, discarding an Island and a Plains. This will cost hime this game, as he stalls out at 4 land, and my Thresher Beast (4/4 if blocked, defender sacs a land) wrecks what he has left. A Squallmonger draws a concession.
1-0 (2-1)
Game 3:
Billy mulligans down to 5 cards and plays a Plains. Unfortunately for Billy, that's all the land he gets until his 5th turn. In the meantime, I am getting crazy with a Silt Crawler. I get out a Vintara Elephant (4/3 trample, anyone pays 3: loses trample) but he's got a Sand Squid to keep it tapped down. He sets up a decent ground defense, with a Rhystic Study to help him draw cards, but no threats. I push through a Soul Charmer and by the time he manages to play a Blockade Runner, he's at 4 life.
No, it's not over yet.
He gets out a Jeweled Spirit and sends the Blockade Runner over. (18/4)
I can't get by the Jeweled Spirit and keep my flyer (a Diving Griffin) alive.
Now Billy goes on the offensive with another Blockade Runner attack, followed by the summoning of a Hazy Homey and (if I recall correctly) a Ribbon Snake (2/3 flying, anyone pays 2: loses flying). A couple of attacks later and the game is tied at (4/4). Time is called on my turn, and it looks like the game will draw, but on Billy's last turn he untaps the Sand Squid and uses it to tap my Thresher Beast (my Vintara Elephant is still tapped). A few tense minutes pass as he declares an attack with the Spirit, Blockade Runner, and some ground-pounder whose name I can't recall. He sacs 2 lands to give his Spirit protection from white and in desperation, I attempt an Excise, which of course he responds to by giving the Spirit pro:white again. He then adds pro:green to the list and I'm faced with 5 points of unblockable damage.
Congratulations, Billy, you came back big time, and truly earned this one.
That's 1-each for us. See you at Invasion.
1-1 (2-2)

Round 3: Joe (blue/green)

Game 1:
We play some land and I play Vine Trellis. He plays Rishadan Cutpurse and I sac a land. I play another land and the Tangle Wire. He follows up with a Rishadan Footpad, and I let the silly artifact go away, since I need the land to play a Giant Caterpiller next turn. I hit him with it once before he plays Darba (5/4 upkeep: GG). A turn later he forgets the upkeep. Now, I hate being a hardass, but Darba is really big on turn 4, and I hold him to it, as he's already drawn a card. Am I mean? Sorry, Joe, but we all have to learn from our mistakes. (20/17)
It's anticlimactic, as he throws his pirates in front of my fatties, until he has no blockers left and I just stomp all over him.
Near the end of this game, I hear the call of Nature, but it's far off and faint...
1-1 (3-2)

Game 2:
Joe takes a quick lead with creatures, and send through a Port Inspector (which I refuse to block with a hand full of wonderful instantments. Unfortunately, his thresher Beast comes out before mine, followed by a Darbe (he remembers the upkeep) and Cloud Sprite.
I play a Barbed Wire, with a decent defense, and hope for the best.
Joe plays Bouyancy on Darba, and sends a really big flyer over, then adds Hazy Homey to the roster. (7/19)
I take the Barbed Wire damage and play some enchantment or other, but it doesn't matter, as Joe attack with all he's got and I just can't block it all.
There is a pressing urge now, if you catch my drift, to get this match over with.
1-1 (3-3)

Game 3:
After a couple of land drops, I send over a Soul Charmer, which he blocks with some weenie, giving me 2 life. He sends over a Rushwood Dryad, which I can't block and adds Wild Might; since I can't pay the 2, the Dryad hits me for 7. I almost wet myself right there. (15/18)
Squirming in my seat, I play a Silt Crawler and some decent ground fat. We take turns playing huge creatures, but my Jolrael's Blessing, Tiger Claws, and Mageta's Boon pop up at inconvenient times (for him) and soon he's left with not enough to stop the stompings from Thresher Beast and Silt Crawler.
Sweating, I hurriedly sign the match slip and thank Joe for the game, taking a second to apologize and explain my bizarre behavior ("I have to go, really bad.") before rushing to the nearest gentlemen's room.
Thanks Joe. You're a sport.
2-1 (4-3)

Between rounds, I meet up with Jensen Bohren (The Orgg on the various forums) a big feller who can't be ignored, as he is wearing his trademark "Tales From the Crypt" t-shirt and carrying around a box in which he stores the Head of Squee, which needs no explanation. Also in the box is a large pocket, cut out of a pair of jeans, in which he stores two PokeBalls (the Burger King kind) filled with counters and tokens and a Charizard-on-a-chain. We play a pickup game with Type 2, and his landkill/Flailing Whatever/Cursed Totem deck gives my Blast-o-Burn all kinds of grief.
The next round is announced, and The Orgg puts his balls back in his sack,which he plops back into the box beside Squee's head.
Man, you are unforgettable.

Round 4: Nathan (green/white?)

Nathan hits me early with a Pygmy Razorback before we settle into a stall with about 8-10 creatures apiece. He can't get anything through, even though his creatures are a little better than mine, thanks to my array of defensive creature enchantments.
Finally, he says, "Well, since I want to go ahead and end this game..." and attacks with everything. I take about two minutes working out blocking assignments, with Ramosian Rally in hand, planning to wreck Nathan horribly. I should have been more suspicious, considering that Nathan had just played his ninth land, but it wouldn't have mattered.
Once I'm done with blocking assignments, I pass priority back, and Nathan taps every one of his nine lands to play a Vitalizing Wind (his creatures get +7/+7). Ouch. Three of his guys trample, so I have to play the Rally anyway, just to stay alive, and end up taking 16 damage and losing all but 3 of my creatures. There's nothing I can draw to save this game, and I concede it.
2-1 (4-4)

Game 2:
Nathan evidently sideboards out about half of his land, as I steamroll him with Silt Crawler, Nightwind Glider, and a couple of Plains (Living Terrain). He manages to hit me for 5 once, but I forgot to write down what it was.
2-1 (5-4)

Game 3:
This game takes up the rest of the time limit, and I'm controlling it once again when time runs out. On my last turn, I attack all-out, being at 19 life, and I just need Nathan to attack me with one 5-power creature on his last turn, planning to enchant it with Mageta's Boon and Tiger Claws, before using the Mirror Strike I have in hand to kill him on his own turn. He doesn't take the bait, though, and the game ends (19/7).
Nathan, however, is a great sport, and gives me the game and match, since he's dropping anyway.
Just goes to show that not everyone is as much of a hardass as I am. ;^)
Thanks, Nathan.
3-1 (6-4)

I meet up with the Orgg and his sack-and-balls, so that he can show me his amazing "Type Fun" deck, "Fo'give and Fo'get." I'm playing an extended White Weenie deck, not that it matters. Jensen's playing every Fog-like spell and creature ever printed (yes, including Portal versions) and absolutely nothing goes through for something like 25 turns. A small crowd gathers to watch the fun. My only prayer is to draw a Cataclysm; then, maybe, my 11/9 Soltari Monk (Empyrial Armor and 2x Crusade) can correct his glib attitude.
The next round is announced though, and my revenge is forestalled.
I'll just keep telling myself that.

Round 5: John (blue/white)

Game 1:
We take turns attacking; him with Glittering Lynx and me with Diving Griffin. I'm winning the race when I lay a Barbed Wire and attack for 4 with a Thresher Beast, bringing him to 6. At the end of my turn he plays Honor the Fallen (+11) and suddenly I'm behind in the damage race. His next surprise is none other than Mageta the Lion. He pops that one off, but I play a Vintara Elephant. Doesn't matter, a Hazy Homey finishes me off.
3-1 (6-5)

Game 2:
It's another race; his Ramosian Sargeant and charm Peddler against my Nightwind Glider. He adds Ribbon Snake and a Hazy to his army, but I have Spidersilk and all those wonderful enchantments. The game stalls out again when I realize that I can block his Hazy simply by taking away his Ribbon Snake's flying. I can't do anything to him because he has Troubled Healer and a load of land.
Time is called with on my turn. I draw and play Squallmonger, and try to think of a way to finish John off with it, despite his Troubled Healer. A huge crowd has gathered to watch the final 5 turns of the match, which one observing judge described as "fantastic." I couldn't agree more.
Anyway, I have a Diving Griffin with Inviolbility, and I manage to get both of us down to one life with Squallmonger. But in the end the Troubled Healer has too much land to work with. He attacks with everything last turn, and I can block all but one of his creatures.
Turns out that John would have offered a coin flip for the match if we'd drawn that game. That was nice of him, but I think he forgot that we'd only played the two games, so he'd have won the match if we'd drawn. Thanks anyway, John.
3-2 (6-6)

So I drop.
I went to sign up for judge certification and took the Delphi test (the short version). There were so many people ahead of me though, that I didn't have time to complete the entire process before my group was ready to go. I chatted a bit with the supervising Judge, John Loniak, and hopefully I'll get an opportunity to get the process completed before too long. There is a dearth of judges in the quiet mountain town where I live, and I'm willing to get my certification just to get some sanctioning here.
Also, I want to start putting "DCI Certified Level 1 Judge" in all my taglines. :^P

All in all, it was a great first effort by The War Room. I hope that they'll improve some by next time, especially on the prize support, which--to be honest--was lacking. The courtesy shown the players, however, was very nice, much more so than that other tournament organizer (who recently lost their TO status).
Give us the courtesy and professionalism of The War Room and better prize support, and the southeast will at long last have some quality Tournament hosting.

Congratulations to the Orgg for going 5-1 and winning a third of a box (see prize support comment, above).
Congrats also to John (the driver) who drafted well and brought home some Prophecy packs of his own.

That's all for this time, folks. Stay tuned for the next installment of From the Shell, where I'll discuss some of the Prophecy cards and ask the question that's on everybody's mind: "Is it possible to break Winds?"

Later!

Rob Myers
The Chaos Turtle

visit the Casual Players Alliance at casualplayers.org

chaosturtle@cpa-mail.com

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