[Magic Mondays] A Simic Scientist Returns to Ravnica

MY co,umn about Magic: The GahteringI got in three flights of Return to Ravnica pre-release goodness over the weekend, I even took top 8 at the midnight (which is sadly absent from my history on PWP…). I played Rakdos both at the midnight and in Two-headed Giant with Renee and Azorius the other time. I’ll get to my guild impressions in a moment, but first I want to take a moment tosay that this was probably the best pre-release I have ever gone to. Granted, I’ve not gone to many, but the guild centric theme was an amazing kick start to the immersion and perhaps by accident, gave me a solid focus for my sealed deck. I can not wait for Gatecrash, which i suspect will be the same format, and am really interested to see what they do with Sinker when the time comes. I’d love to see all ten guilds being a viable option with a guild pack from Sinker, two packs of Sinker and Three packs of the large set your guild was in. That’s such a straight forward idea that I would be surprised if that isn’t the plan–especially considering the goal is RTR-GTC-Sinker drafting until M14 hits next August.

Anyway, the games and guilds are after the break!

Midnight: Rakdos

Went 2 – 0 and then lost in an epic three game series against a Selesnya deck.

Round 1 — Versus Azorius

Game one was a roll, Opening hand had Dreadbore, Pyroconvergence, Cackler, Guildmage, Swamp, Mountain, Guildgate. Swamp, Cackler, go. Drew Skull Rend, swung with Cackler, dropped the M Mountain and Guildmage. He played inaction injunction and detained the Guildmage. Drew keyrune, dropped guildgate, swing again. He plays a pegasus and passes back, I pull a swamp. I drop the swamp and put the key run into play. Cackler swings, pegasus blocks and gets -1/-1 from the guildmage. Cackler kills. Azorius Justicar stalls me for a turn, so I draw Spallter Thug, bring Pyroconvergance online, and pass back. Land, pass. I draw a land. Dreadbore hits his Justicar and he takes two from pyconvergance. I active the keyrune and swing with everything. Skull rend finishes the game next turn.

Game two he got ahead of me. Between Martial Law and a few well placed Dramatic Rescues, I did squat and lost to his Archon when it finally got going.

Game three was crazy close coming down to a top decked Augur Spree on my Hellsteed to ping his only blocker for 2 (I love pyroconvergance by the way) and getting in there for 10.

Round 2 — Versus Izzdos

Game one my opponent was mana flooded and I won with a pair of splatter thugs.

Game two came down to a crazy reversal. Overloaded cyclonic rift bounced my board. I had RB untapped and one card in hard (plus the creatures he’d bounced). He had four creatures. We were both at two. He enters combat, I tap two and Rakdos Charm for the win.

Round 3 — Versus Selesnya

0-2. My opponent soundly trounced me both times with an avalanche of Centaurs.

Final Thoughts

After my Top 8 at the GPT last Sunday, this was a good bookend to a week. Got two packs for my 2-1 finish. One had Chromatic lantern the other had Desecration Demon.

As for the guild, I really like this incarnation of Rakdos in limited, they’re much more balanced this time around and as someone who just likes to slug it out, Unleash makes more sense to me than Hellbent did as far as deck-wide strategies go. I do miss my Ickspitters and Avatars from Dissension, but a pinger than consistently did one damage to a player or a 5/3 with flying for 3 are probably a bit overpowered in a slower format like this one seems to be. Pyroconvergence won me just about all of my games with its consistent two damage on top of me dropping huge RB fatties. The curve for RB is surprisingly solid with Cackler as a 1 drop. Grim Roustabout, Rakdos Shredfreak, Rix Maadi Guildmage, Daggerdrome Imp, Thrill Kill Assasssin, and Gore-House Chainwalker are all great 2 drops. Cryptborn Horror is a massive bomb at the 3 drop slot along with Hellhole Flailer, Dead Reveler, and Splatter Thug. Bloodfray Giant makes up for the fact that the four drop slot is a bit weak seeing as Rakdos himself is a Mythic. The five drops are bombs between Rakdos Hellhound’s Lifelink and Haste to the RB Craw Worm that is Spawn of Rix Maadi. Carnival Hellsteed and Chaos Imps top out the curve nicely as monster creatures and Rakdos Ringleader has some potential.

Saturday Morning: Five Color Control

Let’s just say this went badly and move on. I started out with one of each guild mage and a fair amount of support for them. Had I pulled a couple more cantrips I might have been able to pull it off. The deck got slowly trimmed down until it was pretty much hope that I hit the Archon of the Triumvirate before I die. All in all it was a pretty bad pool and I built poorly. As such I can’t really weigh in on Azorius (which is the guild I picked) because I don’t feel that I really played it. Martial Law saved me  couple of times but it does not a win condition alone make.

Saturday Evening: Two-Headed Giant Golgari(Renee) and Rakdos (Me)

Renee and I played as a team in the evening. She opened Golgari, but ended up playing Selesnya after our combined pools had all the cards she needed, including a Temple Garden. Since Two-Headed games take forever, the round was game points. We went 2-1, with a win versus Golgari-Selesnya and Rakdos-Golgari and a loss to Selesnya-Golgari.

The first game came down to the wire. Renee had two of the elemental tokens and a centaur healer. I had a 9/9 Cryptborn Horror and a Daggerdrome Imp. They had a Desecration Demon with one +1/+1, two birds and three of the elementals. Renee had Rest In Peace in play, the Selesnya player had Death’s Presence. The demon was tapped so we swang in and it looked like we would trade elementals, but Renee cast Common bond and blew up his elementals. The healer got through unbothered and my Horror destroyed the other elemental. This of course left us with facing down two really big birds. We sacrifice the centaur to keep the demon tapped. He gives the biggest bird vigilance and they swing. My imp chumps the biggest bird, we take eight. The elementals and the Horror finish the game.

Our second game was the loss and I’m still trying to find a way out of it. I made a couple of bad plays and let the team down.

Our third game was so late in the evening that neither us nor our opponents were really there and the game was a slugfest the ended in Pyroconvergance into three skull rends and Renee’s elementals marched to victory.

Final thoughts

I really like Two-Headed Giant sealed. Twelve packs is much better a spread and with any luck you can create some great synergies between the two decks. Not surprisingly Renee and I work well together and our different play styles are quite complementary.

Looking back on the weekend, I had a lot of fun even if my morning was pretty dragging. By time I had lost two matches I was enjoying myself just getting to see the cards in action. The guy next to me in my third game won with Vraska’s Ultimate and the Two-headed giant came down to lobber crews sieging face for the win.

Deck Techs

I’ve got two decks brewing right now. One is WBG the other is an improvement on my Rakdos deck.

Lands Creatures Other Spells
4 Temple Garden
4 Wooded Cemetary
4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Isolated Chapel
4 Sunpetal Grove
4 Geralf’s Messenger
4 Blood Artist
2 Strangleroot Geist
2 Desecration Demon
4 Vitu Gazi Guildmage
4 Lingering Souls
4 Growing Ranks
2 Call of the Conclave
2 Coursers Accord
4 Abrupt Decay
2 Tragic Slip
2 Stab Wound
2 Selesnya Keyrune
2 Golgari Keyrune

Seance Reanimator

I’ve been brewing this deck since Selesnya was previewed. If it goes off, its a win. If it doesn’t then I’ve still got just about all the damage I need to win. The worst part is the mana base, it might be the most expensive set of lands ever and even then I still don’t trust it to work.

Lands Creatures Other Spells
4 Dragonskull Summit
4 Blood Crypt
7 Swamp
7 Mountain
4 Rix Maadi Guildmage
4 Rakdos Cackler
2 Hellhole Flailer
2 Rakdos Ragemutt
2 Rakdos, Lord of Riots
4 Vampire Nighthawk
2 Falkenrath Aristocrat
2 Cryptborn Horror
4 Electrickery
2 Pyroconvergence
2 Dreadbore
2 Stab Wound
2 Auger Spree
2 Skull Rend
2 Chandra, The Firebrand
2 Staff of Nin

Dark Firebrand

It still needs some tuning to find some purpose for Rakdos’ second ability, but I feel like I can run the heck out of this deck. Having Chandra to guarantee Rakdos coming in is a definite plus, but it doesn’t have any bombs. Maybe Thundermaw or Balefire to wrap the game up or some other burn. Too bad the main power spells are X and don’t benefit from Rakdos’ paincast buff.


I hope you had as much fun at your pre-releases as I did! Let me know what crazyness you’re doing with the new Standard here or on the G+ comment thread!


About Trevor Gulley

Trevor Gulley is a writer, cartoonist, and gamer. He works full time in the IT industry and judges Magic most weekends.

Posted on 10/01/2012, in Gaming, Magic Mondays and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hmm, interesting.

    Also, nice new blog layout. 🙂

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