Wednesday, 5 October 2011

First experiences with Innistrad (and some first picks!)

Although I didn't make it to any of the official pre-releases and releases, I have been able to play some games now (including a draft!). 

So far I have done a practice sealed deck creating and playing with Liz, and started an Innistrad league, and done a draft at Hemel. Playing with Liz was the first time I used the double sided cards, and I tried both with sleeves and without using the checklist cards. I like the cards themselves, but so far think they are a bit awkward to play with. I didn't like them too much in sleeves because I wanted to be able to see the other side a bit easier when it was in play (and it would be a bit obvious what is in your hand if you try to look at the other side while in your hand). I didn't like the unsleeving it to transform it too much as it was a little awkward. Hopefully these issues will be lessened once I know what is on the other side of the card a bit better so I won't need to check the other side as much. Playing with the checklist cards was a bit better when they were in play because it was easier to check the other side, but I didn't like using the checklist cards while not in play too much. When I played a checklist card, I had an awkward moment when I didn't know what to do with the checklist card - I couldn't keep it in my hand as I had cast it, I didn't want to put it on the battlefield in case I mistook it for a token (I sometimes use the back of cards for tokens), so I ended up making an awkward pile away from my graveyard (again so I didn't mistake it for my graveyard pile). I also had the problem of not knowing exactly what the cards did by name when having checklist cards in my hand, with extra awkwardness when drawing multiples (image below is my hand from turn 2 or 3 when I was playing against Liz)

Summary: DFC's are a bit awkward

I went to a draft last night so it was the first time I got to draft the new set. I didn't really play attention that much to the DFC being drafted, although I did notice Liz opening Bloodline Keeper, and noticed when the person next to me drafted two or three werewolves in a row

The first pick I made was Moorland Haunt, as it looked good for incremental advantage, even though it required two colours of mana, it is something I would be using in the late game anyway. My second pick was Splinterfright which is kind of an anti-synergy with my first pick, but looked interesting. My next two picks were Fiend Hunter and I looked to pick green white and blue cards through the rest of the packs, with a focus on getting things in the graveyard (killing creatures, for morbid, or to benefit from creatures in my graveyard). I did get another Moorland Haunt in another pack, and was passed an Evil Twin in the last pack, but didn't think I would be able to stretch to 4 colours so didn't end up playing it. 

The deck I made had 42 cards instead of the standard 40, but I wanted an extra land due to the colourless ones and another extra card so I could try out more of the set (and the Splinterfright milled me a bit). Here is the deck I ened up playing:

1 Feeling of Dread
1 Mentor of the Meek
1 Voiceless Spirit
2 Fiend Hunter
1 Rebuke
1 Smite the Monstrous
1 Abbey Griffin
1 Prey Upon
2 Ambush Viper
2 Travel Preparations
1 Mulch
1 Splinterfright
1 Grave Bramble
1 Festerhide Boar
1 Lumberknot
1 Hollowhenge Scavenger
1 Somberwald Spider
1 Moldgraf Monstrosity
1 Silent Departure
1 Skaab Goliath
1 Traveler's Amulet
1 Galvanic Juggernaut
2 Moorland Haunt
1 Shimmering Grotto

Notable sideboard cards:
1 Evil Twin
1 Murder of Crows (didn't play it because I had a tiny blue splash and the double blue was a bit tough, but it is a very good card)
1 Prey Upon (maybe I should have played two as it was actually fairly handy)
1 Civilized Scholar
2 Think Twice
1 Fortress Crab
1 Purify the Grave
1 Thraben Purebloods
1 Silverchase Fox

I did quite badly in the first round where I lost both games. My opponent had a good deck (I think they won the tournament in the end) with some powerful cards, and it was a bit faster than mine, and I couldn't really stabilise in time before getting overwhelmed. I did unfortunately have the awkward interactions with Moorland Haunt and Splinterfright, where I didn't have creatures in my graveyard (but that is a problem with Splinterfright in general, if you don't have a way to get creatures in your graveyard, you can't play it, and if your opponent is playing around morbid, which I think mine was, it is even harder to get creatures in the graveyard). I was desperate in one game as I cast Splinterfright as a 0/0 so it died, just so I could exile it for a 1/1 spirit because I needed a flier. 

I won the next round, as I played a Mulch early on, ending up with 9 cards in my hand, so discarded down a bit, and was able to play Splinterfright and make good use of it, even if it did mill some of my larger creatures. Travel Preparations was very good here, especially as I could cast and flashback in the same turn (to flip pesky werewolves), and for a very big and helpful boost. 

In the third round, I was playing Liz, who beat me in the first game with the vampire she opened, and her Mask of Avacyn was also good as I couldn't target it to get rid of it (it didn't even transform, just flew over with equipment). I won the next two games, with a lot of help with Travel Preparations again. The card advantage from Mentor of the Meek was very helpful, particularly when making 1/1 tokens with Moorland Haunt

All in all, it was a fun time, although I am still getting used to the new cards, trying to remember what they do and whatnot. 

First first picks
As its a new set, this is the first time I can look over potential first picks, yay! Here are the two packs I won from the draft:

Pack 1
Notable cards: Gallows Warden, Avacynian Priest, Village Bell-Ringer, Claustrophobia, Spider Spawning, Wooden Stake

The problem with taking one of the decent white cards is that there are three, so you could be giving a signal that white is open when passing (although I was listening to Limited Resources (the podcast) and they mentioned that signalling probabaly isn't as important as some people make out). Claustrophobia is a good card and worth considering, and Wooden Stake seems interesting, although I've not played with it yet. I think I would pick Gallows Warden here, even though the priest is useful as removal (but not as good as the tapper from M12), I think evasion will be very useful in this set, so a 3/3/ flier will help a lot. 

Pack 2
This was actually a really good pack, so a touch choice to make. 

Notable cards: Fortress Crab, Murder of Crows, Abattoir Ghoul, Tribute to Hunger, Dead Weight, Prey Upon, Pitchburn Devils, Grimoire of the Dead

Lots of good cards. I think Grimoire of the Dead might be alright enough in the format as it is quite slow, but don't know for sure. I would be tempted to pick it just to try it out really. The noted green and red cards are decent enough removal, but still outclasses by other cards in the pack. The black removal spells are good, but I think, of the black creature is better. Murder of Crows is also a very good creature, so I think I would be picking between that and Abattoir Ghoul. I was originally thinking of Abattoir Ghoul as it is very good on defence, but thinking about it more, I think Murder of Crows is the better pick here, just. It is a bit bigger and has evasion so better to attack, and the card advantage is very handy.