New Phyrexia Pre-Release

I went to the New Phyrexia Pre-Release at Jim Hanley's Universe yesterday. It was crowded and kind of janky (very NYC), but I got a promo copy of Sheoldred, Whispering One, some New Phyrexia boosters and to play Magic all afternoon. I went 2-2, which I'm pretty happy with considering it was the first time I've played in a Limited event and the games included such crowning moments of awesome as multiple perfectly timed Sunblast Angels and copying my opponent's Platinum Empirion with one of my Phyrexian Metamorphs while I was sitting at 1 life1.

Here's my final fourty:

I was really impressed by the way the Sunblast Angels cleared the board (and in my favour more often than not), how Tempered Steel turned my Myr into threats and how Slash Panther was this awesome threat out of no where (especially when Tempered Steel is on the table). While the Phyrexian Metamorphs saved my bacon a couple of times, they're a little problematic in that they don't really work unless there's something bomby on the table. All in all, I had a blast and it prompted me to dust off my Tempered Steels and Sunblast Angels and build a deck2.

[1]It only ended up prolonging the inevitable, but I was four turns away from milling my opponent when he drew the last destroy-target-artifact card in his deck.
[2]... a deck that happens to have an incidental infinate mana combo, but that's a story for another time.


In my post about my Pyromancer's Ascension deck, I mentioned that I was playing against my Baneslayer-Lifelink deck and I thought I'd share the decklist:

This deck came into being as a way to find a home for the Baneslayer Angels that I purchased on the basis that they were too awesome for me to not have a playset. The deck ends up being unified mechanically by lifelink (that's the "Lifelink" part of Baneslayer-Lifelink) even though, thematically, it's a bit unfocused. Angels, and priests, and vampires! Oh my!

It turns out that the Vampire Nighthawks are surprisingly effective. The combination of deathtouch, flying and lifelink make them difficult to block and, conversely, great blockers. They provide great early game attackers to dishearten your opponent as your life total starts going in the "wrong" direction. One of the Grave Titans and the Wurmcoil Engine actually came out of boosters (Shocking, I know) and made their way in to provide some late game heavies.

Pyromancer's Ascension

I got to play some Magic: The Gathering with one of my co-workers for the first time in a while. He had forgotten to bring his cards, so I lent him some of my decks and the match-ups were: Red-Green Stompy vs. Aggro-Infect, Vampires vs. Red Deck Wins and Baneslayer-Lifelink vs. Pyromancer's Ascension.

The Baneslayer-Lifelink vs. Pyromancer's Ascension turned out to be the most interesting. I was piloting the Ascension deck and in the first game it played oddly aggro. I dropped a pair of Kiln Fiends, cleared the board with a Staggershock and then attacked for massive damage. This worked out just fine, but it's not really the kind of play you would expect from a deck with four creatures in it.

The second game was where things really started to heat up. Other that getting a Pyromancer Ascension down early, my opponent really dominated the early game. I tried to thin the field with some burn spells, but it got to the point where I didn't really have anything other than the Ascention and some land while my opponent had a pair of Vampire Nighthawks stairing at my throat: Not looking good.

I used Foresee to dig for a Staggershock to match the one in my hand. I bet on triggering the the Ascension, cast the Staggershock, and passed the turn. My dropped a Baneslayer Angel and swung. Ouch. I rebounded the Staggershock, cast the other one, pumped the Ascention and passed the turn. My oponent swung again. More ouch. I rebounded the Staggershock, and put that second counter on the Ascention. I was at five life, with no creatures. My opponent had thirty-something life, a Baneslayer and a pair of Nighthawks. Still not looking good, but I did have a fully charged Ascension. I cast Preordain betting that in four cards and two draws I could pull an Island to replace the one I tapped. I pulled a Lightning Bolt and an Island. I bolted the Nighthawks and killed the Baneslayer with a kicked Burst Lightning. I passed the turn, and it came back to me: I wasn't dead yet! The turns that followed played out as some combination of Call to Mind, Kiln Fiend and Lighting Bolt.

Moral of the story: Spells are better when you get to cast them twice. I clawed my way back from a pretty big deficit and it was terrifyingly fun to cast the same Lightning Bolt over, and over again. The darkhorse MVPs were Kiln Fiend and Staggershock. In the first game, Staggershock kept the board clear and stimulated my Kiln Fiends and in the second, it was key to triggering the Ascension; however, in both games, the Kiln Fiends proved instrumental in actually chipping away at my opponent's life total while my burn spells kept the board clear.

Here's the decklist (because this kind of post is screaming for one):

The more wealthy of our readers, will notice that Scalding Tarn is a drop-in replacement for the Evolving Wilds. Other than that, it's not too shabby for a deck with a grand total of eight rares. The Chandras Ablaze kind of felt like they were dead cards, but it will take more than two games to determine whether they need to be subbed out for something else.