I managed to get to two pre-releases for Khans of Tarkir (making up for missing M15 apparently).
The Saturday event was in Bedford; I hadn't played at the store before, so it was interesting to go along. I picked Sultai (BGU) for my clan pack and started building a deck. I had a hard time getting a decent amount of creatures, and realised that I could switch out blue for white and I would have a better chance. I had a lot of the common enters battlefield tapped lands that were half blue, so I did play Sidisi, Brood Tyrant as my only blue card (although I never drew it in a single game, and only use blue to activate the ability on Smoke Teller to peek at some opponents morph creatures). I went 2-2 and had some fun.
On the Sunday, I went to my usual store in St Albans, and picked Abzan (even though I had already played those colours, it was one of the other clans I had planned on playing). I opened a pretty good pool and went about building my deck.
1 Mardu Hateblade - This was mainly played for the deathtouch ability
1 Ainok Bond-Kin - I had two of these on the Saturday, and they looked pretty good, just outlasting it once would make it a good blocker for a few turns.
1 Abzan Falconer - This drew removal pretty quickly, and for good reason as it is a great creature
1 Mardu Hordechief - This card helped a lot, I think I always got the token when I cast it (not always on turn three)
1 Tuskguard Captain
1 Watcher of the Roost - I cast this as a morph one turn when my opponent had a flier. They attacked me (I was tapped out) and I unmorphed it to trade.
1 Unyielding Krumar
1 Longshot Squad
1 Alabaster Kirin
1 Wingmate Roc - Somewhat unsurprisingly, this was really good in sealed
2 Abzan Guide - This was really good as well, I gained a load of life off it one game, giving me a very healthy buffer
1 Necropolis Fiend - I think I cast this once, exiling all the cards in my graveyard, but a 4/5 flier was enough to win in a turn or two anyway.
1 Suspension Field
1 Debilitating Injury - good in a format with morph creatures
1 Abzan Charm - I think I may have used all three abilities over the day
1 Abzan Ascendancy
1 Dragonscale Boon
1 Smite the Monstrous - Started with two maindeck, but often didn't have that many targets
1 Dutiful Return
1 Sandsteppe Citadel
1 Nomad Outpost
2 Jungle Hollow
1 Scoured Barrens
1 Blossoming Sands
(I think that is the correct basic land distribution, I know I played 18, and about half the deck is white).
Bloodfell Caves & Mardu Charm - One of my lands already produced red, and I could add in a second and play the charm. I felt I didn't need it as I had two spells that gave a creature -4/-4, which in most cases is the same as 4 damage. Two 1/1 tokens would be nice, but I had a lot of bigger creatures that they wouldn't really matter later in the game, and I felt it was better to have good mana than adding a splash.
Dragonscale Boon, Savage Punch, Smite the Monstrous - Extra removal themed cards if needed. I started the event with the second Smite the Monstrous main deck, but took it out as I felt I only needed the one.
Highland Game, Longshot Squad, Shambling Attendants, Sagu Archer, Alabaster Kirin - Extra creatures if I needed them in certain matchups.
I lost the first game as my opponent (playing a fast Mardu deck), removed all my creatures while playing lots of their own. I won the second and third games, one to my opponent stumbling on mana a little, but both games were fairly close.
My opponent was playing a Sultai deck, with a lot of defensive creatures. I went up to 31 life thanks to an Abzan Guide before they blocked it with three creatures to kill it. I came close to winning in a single big turn by casting Abzan Ascendancy with about 4 or five creatures out (and I think a Abzan Falconer to give everything flying), but they countered it.
My opponent was getting ahead of card advantage, playing Bitter Revelation, Treasure Cruise, Weave Fate and Dig Through Time, but (mostly thanks to Outlast), my creatures were big enough that they couldn't attack through. They did lay a giant Hydra (came out as an 8/8), but I had the Smite the Monstrous to turn it into 8 1/1 snakes, which was a little more manageable. I ended up winning as my opponent ran out of cards, although I did get down to three life (from a previous 31), before stabilising (Wingmate Roc helped, token for blocking, creature for attacking and gaining a little life as I also had something with vigilance). As we were shuffling up, time was called for the round (yup, the whole game took the entire round).
Liz had arrived with the kids, so we wandered to a bakery to get something to eat quickly.
The first game was very back and forth, I think it ended when I cast a Wingmate Roc and my opponent realised he couldn't beat it.
In the second game, I drew my 7 cards, saw one land so mulliganed. One land, mulligan. No lands, mulligan. One land in a four card hand - I'll keep it. On the draw, I not only drew into lands to cast a three drop on turn three, but I had all my colours. All the cards I had drawn were cheap ones, so I put a lot of pressure on my opponent as I wasn't sure on my chances in the long game due to the cast disadvantage. The last card I cast to give me an empty hand was a Smite the Monstrous on a newly cast Meandering Towershell (at that point my opponents only creature as I had removed any others they had cast, through removal and them blocking).
My opponent is playing Jeskai, and have a lot of tricks. I get a strong draw in the first game and cast something they can't deal with to win (possibly Wingmate Roc again). The second game is a lot closer, but I ultimately win.
Final round. First game I get off to a good start and my opponent can't catch up. They are playing an aggressive Mardu deck, but I get bigger creatures out faster. In the second game they play a Bloodsoaked Champion and one or two other creatures and get me down to a low life total thanks to removing all my creatures. I made a play mistake here by allowing them to attack with the Champion as the only creature before using a removal spell on it, so they could return in as they had attacked with a creature. Later in the game, I cast Abzan Charm on 6 life to draw two cards (and lose two life), as I needed to draw into something to help me stabilise. I didn't, so lost. The second game was a little closer, but I started losing my creatures again, took a hit from Zurgo Helmsmasher, and didn't draw anything to remove him next turn so lost.
I won 6 packs in the end. Pretty happy with the result, considering the last time I played was the Journey into Nyx prerelease. Back when Shards of Alara was out and I was drafting a lot, I always had issues with mana, but I had more success this time around, which is good. That is probably part me having more experience and part more experience with developing multicolour sets in Wizards of the Coast.
All in all, I think it is a fun set. I'm still not sure about morph, I have generally just blocked if they attack with one, as it forces them to unmorph it or use a trick or they lose it, meaning they're not developing their board. I'm more likely to get blown out this way, so I will see how well this strategy works to see if I need to be more cautious.