Today took place the “single player version” of the prerelease event at my local game store (yesterday was a 2HG series of games) and so I went down to play in it. I wasn’t looking for many cards in this expansion, mostly common or uncommon for my Commander and Modern decks (and the full-art lands), but I love to join prerelease events because it’s always so much fun to play with these clunky decks.
There were 16 players (the number of people who could join is still limited due to the COVID’s security measure but I think it is a pretty average number for my lgs’s prereleases) and some of them were also some new people that I was really exited to play against.
I opened my pack and the first card that popped-up as my prerelease promo was an amazing Leyline Tyrant! A Flying 4/4 that becomes really hard to stop and remove due to its effect? I knew I was going to play red today… and so it was but mostly because red was the only color that gave me a decent pool of cards to choose from. I decided to go for an aggro plan adding green to have some other big creatures and also have some support for my mana. I was tempted to splash white because in my pool of cards I also had the new Tazri and Luminarch Aspirant but they were the only two good cards I had in white and so I decided to not risk it.
Click here to see my Gruul Aggro decklist for Zedikar Rising Prerelese
The tournament began after the announcement that it would be a 4 round one.
Round 1 vs Jund Goodstuff
I started the tournament against a guy that was the first time I saw him at the LGS but I knew it was a good player after seeing him playing a 1vs1 Commander game against my brother right before the tournament. I didn’t know what he was going to play against me.
After the first dead turns he casts a Relic Robber that swings at me creating one of his tokens. This put a clock on my head while also putting me on the defensive to avoid getting other tokens and decreasing the time I had to look for an answer. I stall the game for a bit with my big creatures, without having the possibility to expose myself to try and get the win. He breaks the stall with some spot removals and by casting a Veteran Adventurer that easily closes the game.
It starts really similar to the first game but without him casting the Relic Robber and with me instead dropping my Leyline Tyrant. I start attacking with it and I stop playing spell on curve only to store red mana into the pool of the tyrant. He found the removal too late and, when he destroy the dragon, I used all the red mana to take him down to 3 life; he jokingly said “Now you will kill me with a Lighting Bolt?” while passing the turn, I laugh and show him the Roil Eruption I got in hand. We go to game 3.
He starts really fast with a Grotag Bug-Catcher equipped with a Scavenged Blade, followed by a Nighthawk Scavenger getting me easily at a really low life. I resist by removing all his creatures and playing the Tyrant. The big dragon starts turning the wind in my favor but he wins by doing some cheep damage that I thought I could take and by top-decking a Malakir Blood-Priest, that overcomes the line of creatures I was building, draining me for the last damages.
0 win – 1 lost
Round 2 vs Orzhov Lifegain
Often to my lgs’s events there is a family that comes to play Magic (a father, plus two sons and a nephew) and my second round was against the father of the family, who I knew was playing and Orzhov Lifegain deck as he was playing in the table near mine the previous round.
Scared of the possibility that the lifegain would give too much advantage to him, I started to apply pressure but he seemed to have the same idea and the game rapidly became a race.
I got ahead thanks to the lifegain of Turntimber Ascetic and the damages it was doing by surpassing my opponent’s creatures thanks to a Cliffhaven Kitasail. He removes the Ascetic and I end up equipping the kitesail to my Teeterpeak Ambusher winning by sinking all my mana into his ability.
I mulligan down to 6 but luckily he starts off really slow with me getting ahead quickly until he stops me by playing a Sea Gate Colossus equipped with a Kitesail. Luckily I had lots of red mana and playing the Tyrant let me play defensively by menacing him with the possibility of taking him down with the tyrant’s death trigger. He removes it seeing it could survive it, hoping to finish me with the Colossus but I don’t use 1 of my red mana on the Tyrant’s ability to cast Kazuul’s Fury, doing him the last damages I needed before he could finish me off.
1 win – 1 lost
Round 3 vs UB Control
I knew the guy. Didn’t play much against him but I know he is a skilled player.
I mulligan to 6 and he starts really strong with a Skycleave Squid attacking me every turn. I try to play some of my creatures to stop this clock but my opponents have tons of removal and leave my board clean for a lot of turns. I play a Shatterskull Minotaur to stop the squid but he do a simple combat trick and we end up trading. I restart building my board, hoping to draw the Tyrant but he is already ahead and finishes me in a few turns.
I start much faster than the previous game but he, again, drops the squid on turn 2, making me much more reluctant to attack. He kills my creatures and after that I start seeing only my ramp cards and lands and he easily gets the game thanks to 3-4 Drakes token created with Roost of Drakes. It was a mix of bad luck and difference in the deckbuilding but I got totally overwhelmed this round.
1 win – 2 lost
Round 4 vs Orzhov Aggro
This was the youngest son of the family I talked before. I didn’t know what he was playing but when I saw him playing the Orzhov colors for a moment I thought he was playing the same deck of his father but then I saw his was a more aggro version.
First game I started really hard by playing my landfall creatures and started getting advantage thanks to their abilities and me finding tons of lands. He starts playing defensively without finding the removals he needs. I quickly overwhelm him with my creatures that are much bigger than his.
This game ended up really quickly as he seemed to have the exact hand to counter mine. He had tons of removal that rapidly left me without creatures to block his Skyclave Shade (first normal and then kicked after he recasted it after trading for one of my creatures) and so I lost this game.
I kept a really questionable hand only because I saw Tyrant in it. Questionable because I couldn’t play much until turn 3 and I was missing the second Mountain for the Tyrant. But I learned the hard way that this deck could easily win thanks to my big red dragon… and also top-deck is the way and it gave me a Lotus Cobra that let me cast the Tyrant on turn 3. I started swinging with the dragon while my land drop produced red mana thanks to the Cobra that I kept in my pool, giving me a really fast clock making really hard for him to block or destroy the Tyrant. This gave me too much advantage in a really short amount of time for him to recover and so I ended up winning.
2 win – 2 lost
With a 2-2 as my final result I ended up being 9th in the tournament… right outside the prize zone. A bit bad but I was still happy that I could find everything I was looking for my decks.
And I also was grateful that I didn’t have to play Azorious Flying even during this pre-release!