Went to the Hemel Mirrodin Besieged release last weekend, run by Rob. Had originally planned to go with Liz, but she was feeling unwell, tired and had work to do so stayed home that Sunday instead.
Left the house early in order to get there on time. I had to get a train in order to get a bus that only runs hourly to get to Hemel town centre. Once arriving, I popped to get some food quickly, then walked the way to where the gaming was to happen. Total travel time was about 2 hours or so.
I arrived around the time Rob was also arriving, bringing in some of his board games to put on display during the day. We sat outside the room we had booked, waiting until it was ready for us to go in. At midday, we went in and started to prepare to do the release. Someone I hadn't met before had come along and had some leftover pre-release faction packs and offered them to be used for the event. I was pleased by this unexpected outcome as I hadn't been able to go to a pre-release so had missed out on the uniqueness of it.
After waiting a bit to allow people to arrive, we started signing up. I was talking to Graham while others were choosing a faction to decide on what one to choose ourselves. I was particularly torn, I have played infect decks on Magic Online before and it is pretty fun, but I also really like playing Red (with Goblins in particular), so I had trouble choosing. I had decided to go with whatever there was more of to balance the factions out, but it was equal by the time I was next to choose, so decided to let fate decide.
I flipped a coin.
Heads was Mirrodin, tails was Phyrexian (I justified this as not all Phyrexians have heads). It landed... tails, so went up and picked up three Phyrexians faction packs and the three Scars of Mirrodin packs.
Opening up, I had some interesting cards spread over the packs. Scars of Mirrodin first, not much in the way of Blue or Red cards (fairly lucky as I was less likely to play either colour). I did open a foil angel that destroys tapped creatures which I was unlikely to play, but it came in the same pack as a Mimic Vat, which balanced it out. Also got an arrest, so White was tempting if I didn't get a huge amount in Green or Black (as they are mostly Phyrexian colours).
Opening the Phyrexian faction packs I got, I was laying out a Phyrexian Crusader (2/2, First Strike, Infect, protection from mirrin), Inmoth Nexus and a huge load of infect cards, which was a great thing to look at. What I didn't open was much in the way of removal.
Laying out the deck, I had a large number of three drops, going all the way up to a five drop (a 3/3/ with infect). Almost everything had infect. The cards that didn't were Mimic Vat, two Flayer Husks, a Bonehoard, Sylvok Replica, Fume Spitter, Virulent Wound, Leaden Myr (taps for Black mana) and my 41st card I added was a Phyrexian Rager (it replaced itself so I didn't mind running it as an extra card). Initially I played 17 land, but went down to 16 as I had a low curve after a few games. Most things were green, but of the black cards I played, they were double black, so had a roughly even split of land.
Of the cards I didn't play, I had the Green Mana Myr, but as everything Green had a single Green cost and most of my cards were three drops, I didn't feel the need, only playing the Black Mana Myr to get double Black easier and the infect myr because it had infect. I did have a Contagious Nim, but had so many other infect creatures, particularly at three mana, I didn't feel the need to play it as I had better infect creatures, and still had a large enough number of infect creatures to make it relevant. I also had the Living weapon with reach, but it was costed fairly high so took it out (had the Bonehoard which seemed better too).
Playing the deck, it was very aggressive, and often quick. I won the first match against Graham so we played some legacy (I have put together a Goblin deck, which didn't appreciate Graham sideboarding in Engineered Plague). The next match was against Rob where I lost the only game all day (it was the game he played the creature that can't have counters placed on it, which is really good against my deck of mostly infect creatures). The Phyrexian Crusader shone here, attacking into a 3/4, shrinking it to a 1/2 with first strike damage and still living was handy, Thrun the Last Troll wasn't as threatening as it might have been in another format (I did have the option to put it under my Mimic Vat, but decided not to as I could be more aggressive with hasty infect creatures). My next round was against a new player, playing a fast red/white deck, so we had some close games. The final round I played against another Phyrexian deck (I had played against Mirrodin faction players all day so far), who had less infect creatures (I think), but a number of ways to proliferate, so only needed the first poison to be done to me before being defensive and killing me slowly. I did lose my Phyrexian Crusader to a control mind effect, but managed to get it back after realising that Sylvok Replica destroys enchantments as well as artifacts.
In all the games I played that day, I had a steady flow of creatures with infect, that just managed to keep pressure on and get poison damage through, and it won me the tournament.
I got a trophy and everything :D
Of the cards I played, some were better than others. In no particular order, the ones that I either had the most fun or the most use of are:
This was great whenever I played it.
I don't think I saw too much use out of the protection, but the first strike mixed with the infect was amazing; it has an annoying affect on combat math for my opponents, because they have to block with something that is going to be big enough to kill it after getting two -1/-1 counters.
I think it is pretty good in defence too, but was not in a defensive mode often.
Even though it taps for colourless, I played this on the first turn once or twice, particularly if I didn't have turn two play, as I can go and get a point of poison damage in on turn two, to start the pressure straight away.
The flying helped a lot too, if the ground was clogged up, I could slowly add up the poison counters so I wasn't sitting there doing nothing.
I don't think I used it as a blocker, but I don't think I blocked all that much during the day, mainly focusing on attacking.
What made this quite good was that it kept any other artifacts I played alive as it drew any removal my opponents had as soon as possible.
It was handy both when I was being offensive and defensive. I could either have an extra attacker to get lots of damage through, or I could have a semi-surprise blocker, and if it had infect it left something behind afterwards.
One game I imprinted a Phyrexian Rager against another infect player. As I was unlikely to be killed by loss of life, it effectivly gave me 3, T: Draw a card for 18 turns (although i only got one or two tokens out of it before the Vat was destroyed)
This was probably my favourite card that I played in the deck. It allowed the deck to play longer games by getting back good threats. I got back a Sylvok Replica to get back my Phyrexian Crusader under a mind control effect one game.
Often I would hold it until the Phyrexian Crusader was killed, as it usually took significant effort on my opponent's part. Playing it targeting the Crusader was usualy met with a groan or a sigh.