Due to some illness, I didn't go along to a Avacyn Restored pre-release. With a baby coming along soon I'm not going to be going to as many events as usual, so I didn't mind too much. I had a look through the set while it was being spoiled and it looked interesting though (but I sometimes find it hard to see what a set looks like without playing it). It wasn't one that I looked through and thought it looked awesomely fun straight away, but not all sets do that, so that's fine. There were a couple of fun looking cards, that I might try to get for a couple of decks. It seems to take me a couple of days to listen to the Magic pod casts I listen to (The Mana Pool and Limited Resources), so I think by that point I had listened to the pre-pre-release ones so was about as prepared as a pre-release (which, it kind of was to me, the second interaction with the set )
Even though we had missed the pre-release, on the weekend the set was released we popped in the comic shop I play at sometimes (Chaos City in St Albans) as it was free comic book day (and we were passing through St Albans), and were asked if we wanted to come to the Monday night Magic event they were doing, which would be a draft of the new set. We said we might come along if we had the time spare to. As it was on a bank holiday, we did have a bit of time, and did make an effort to go along, if anything because it's a few set and we'll have less Magic playing time soon...
We were running a little bit late, but only by a couple of minutes, so we didn't have to wait around too long until we started drafting. Me and Liz ended up in different pods as there was enough to run two.
Opening up the first pack and looking through, I decided to go with a foil Silverblade Paladin. Good card, plus shiny. I then picked a couple of blue cards as there didn't seem to be any good white ones coming, and a Death Wind a couple of picks in (good removal, I was happy). At the end of the first pack, I noted that I only had a couple of white spells, so would have to pick a couple more up to play the paladin.
In the second pack, I took an Angel of Jubilation first (seemed to go with my white plan), but, again, white started to dry up so I went with more blue (which there seemed to be a lot of), and started going into black more (as there was a bit of that going round too).
I can't remember much about the third pack, so there can't have been anything particularly interesting in it :-)
When it came to building the deck, I had two choices: blue/black only (I had 23 good enough cards), or blue/black with a small "splash" of white . As I was looking out to play and have fun, I went with the risky, but potentially more fun option and added the white, instead of the safer double colour only option.
I can't remember the split of land, apart from it was 18, 6 plains to try and get the double white, and a couple more of each of islands and swamps (with one or two more islands).
Nephalia Smuggler - Seems good, I never got a chance to play it unfortunately
Human Frailty - Think I played it once or twice; a good enough card with all the humans around
Fleeting Distraction - Only played it once (in a game I lost quite quickly), seems alright for a cheap card that can stall a tiny bit and maybe draw me closer to a land I needed
Death Wind - (OK, not really one, but it's a good a place as any to put it). Good card, didn't draw it too often, but I think its fine all the same
Peel from Reality - This is the only two-drop I had (I also drafted a Ghostform, but cut it to play white and an extra land), just something to keep me stable in the early turns
Silverblade Paladin - Seems good. This is basically what I was splashing white for
Tandem Lookout - I actually managed to pair this with the paladin in one game. I had a decent attack with both (killed a creature of theirs), but it would have been so awesome if they were both unblocked. I'd be very happy to deal 8 and draw 4 cards :-) My opponent killed this creature very quickly unfortunately :-( I guess they didn't think it was that fun...
2 x Scrapskin Drake - It flies, it deals damage, its a creature I can play early on. Not that I did, I think I only drew one once or twice
Vessel of Endless Rest - Needed the mana fixing. I like the card anyway though
Angel's Tomb - I may have needed ore creatures for this, I'm not sure. I didn't think it was terrible when I played it
Ghostly Flicker - Probably better to do funky combat tricks, but the only time I played it was like this: "Tap plains, tap island and two swamps. Cast Ghostly Flicker using UBB and targeting plains and island. After it resolved, tap plains and island again, using WWU to cast Silverblade Paladin". Awkward, but I got the paladin out so I wasn't too bothered
Barter in Blood - In one game I played, I didn't play anything for four or five turns (well, a draw spell on turn four, but no creatures). Luckily my opponent wasn't playing too much too early. They did play two creatures before I played any, and then I cast this. Pretty harsh...
2 x Mist Raven - Seems fine, I like it
Evernight Shade - Got to pump it a couple of times, even with my three colour deck. Don't think it ever died before I even won or lost
Undead Executioner - Can't remember if I got a chance to play this. I think the only time I drew it, my opponent had a protection from zombies creature out so I cast something else instead, and by the time I did cast it, I won in a turn or two
Amass the Components - Good in my colour hungry deck. I like the card, its an interesting effect
Holy Justiciar - Seems alright, not sure I got a chance to play it though
Vanishment - Nice card. I may have played it once, I'm not sure. I think I had it with no targets maybe
Renegade Demon - Eh, its alright. I didn't have many big creatures so this was alright
Terminus - Didn't do too well with this. I seemed to always draw it in my opening hand if I drew it at all. I either lost before I got a chance to play it, or was winning so didn't need to play it anyway.
As is my usual luck, I got the first round bye. Second round I played three games against a RW deck. The first one was close, but I lost it in the end. The second one I won; they had a lot of lands out and not much else, but was very defensive for an aggressive deck... The third game I stalled on two lands (even though I drew an extra card from Fleeting Distraction), and it was over very quickly (their deck was very aggressive).
The third round I won both games. This was the game where I had great value with Barter in Blood.
The comic shop we went to had two Helvaults given to them. They used one on the Friday midnight pre-release, but didn't use the second at the weekend, so they had one left to use on the Monday, which was nice as me and Liz had missed out the previous weekend.
As I got the buy first round, I got to pull of a couple of the sticker seals. They were all taken off by the end, and we got to have a look and the goodies dished out :-) They had enough stuff to distribute between a lot more people than we had at the store, so we got a couple of dice and double sided tokens each.
I'm still not sure what I think about the set. I confused myself once to twice with soulbond (I thought the creature always had the ability, but it is only when it is paired). I'll probably get used to it if I play it a couple more times. Not sure about miracle, but I didn't get a chance to play with it properly. I actually quite like black as a colour in limited, even though I've heard not many people like it. There's some powerful cards in there (hopefully I'll be able to pick a lot up in drafts if others aren't playing it...)
 The first being a pack wars with Liz a day or two beforehand.
 I knew I couldn't play the Angel (triple white), but wanted to try and play the paladin ("only" double white)