This past weekend I got the opportunity to attend a War of the Spark pre-release. I initially didn’t know if I would be able to attend, due to starting a new job, but I got lucky and the pre-release happened on the same day as a wedding, giving me the entire day of work off. The time that worked best for me was the 8 PM, two-headed giant release which my fiance and I got to do together. One thing I love about 2HG compared to regular pre-releases is how card evaluation changes for a multiplayer format. We showed up a little late, due to the wedding going a little longer than I expected. We quickly ran in and started building our decks as fast as possible.
Out of all of our promos, the one I was most excited for was actually Ob Nixillis, the Hate-Twisted. Having a removal spell that works twice is really powerful, but what I really like is his passive ability. In 2HG, Ob Nixilis actually does 2 damage every time they draw a card as a team. Just leaving him around as an enchantment that deals 2 every turn is very impactful. Soul Diviner is a solid card, but we would have to see if we could support a UB pool. Huatli is interesting as a card but needs a lot of things to go right in order to build around her. Finally, Single Combat is a board wipe which is vital to have in a multiplayer format.
Our White pool was not very impressive. 4 Ironclad Krovods and 4 Loxodon Sergeants don’t really win you games when you are going to play only 2 of these cards at most. Our rares for the pool were solid in Single Combat and Ignite the Beacon, but we did end up opening a lot of duplicates of cards we weren’t interested in playing. We were hoping we would open up more Charmed Strays as that was a deck that my fiance really wanted to play, but we ended up opening only 1. At the very least, the removal in white was looking really good.
Blue sure does love it’s 2 drops. With 3 Kasminia’s Transumations and 4 Callous Dismissal, the disruption was insane. Fblthp is a really fun card, even if he isn’t a limited bomb. Jace is a very solid planeswalker and gets even better when your deck is only 40 cards. Tamiyo’s Epiphany is one of the best draw spells in the format, especially when the format is so slow, and Kiora’s Dambreaker is one of the biggest creatures in the format.
Black was our smallest pool and had an uncharacteristically low amount of removal given the colors. Massacre Girl was the only rare for the color which felt kind of bad. Having 3 Herald of the Dreadhorde was nice, as I believe it to be one of the better black commons. 3 Spark Reaper is also good for helping games that go on long.
Red had a decent amount of cards, but I don’t believe that the card quality in Red was all that high. Given that we are going to go and play 2HG, I wanted as high quality of cards as possible, and a 2 mana 2/2 just isn’t going to cut it most of the time. Having both Chandra and Neheb is nice, but 4 Chainwhip Cyclops wasn’t very exciting. If we were playing 1v1, I probably would have made a very solid aggressive deck, but in 2HG I didn’t want to risk it.
Green was easily our strongest of the colors by a wide margin. Having 3 very powerful rares in Vivien, her Arkbow, and Awakening of Vitu-Ghazi was very enticing. This pool also had a lot of 3 drops, and all of that can be attributed to Arlinn’s Wolf which we opened six of! (If only it had been the cat). I was very excited about this pool because I wanted to open both Vivien and her Arkbow and my fiance pulled both of them! After seeing those 2 cards, I wanted to see if I could build a flash deck.
Gruul was the color that had the most cards in it with 3 Rubblebelt Raiders and a Samut. I really like Samut, but I was worried that Rubblebelt Raider would just end up being a 0/4 with haste if all of our other creatures got removed or we only drew Raiders. Orzhov was another good color pair with 2 aristocrats. Aristocrats is one of my fiance’s favorite strategies so it was exciting to see. Two Huatlis in Selesnya was interesting, but I don’t think we had enough support for the toughness deck. One of the last cards to note was Roalesk, Apex Hybrid, a great mythic in a color pair that I was already planning on playing thanks to Vivien.
It’s not as important that we play these as we had plenty of playables in our normal colors. God-Pharoah’s Statue, however, is an absolute bomb in 2HG, and can completely overtake a game. When you and your partner can cast twice as many spells as your opponents and you can ping them for 2 on every end step, you can really start to close the gap and win the game. The lands were very nice to have, as we had plenty of fixing and a wonderful land that gives all of our cards flash.
I decided to go with UG Flash. I knew that we had very strong cards in both blue and green, and counterspells were great to pair with instant speed creatures. The curve of this deck is pretty bad, as I had 11 two drops, but they were all very high impact which made me want to play them anyways. Fblthp was included more as a joke, but with Arkbow we can pretty reliably find Fblthp and draw lots of cards off of him. If you look carefully, you’ll notice that I made a huge mistake when building this deck. I forgot to add my gold cards to the deck. Even though I opened up a Mythic for the deck, I totally spaced it and didn’t add him. After attending a wedding all day, I guess I just wasn’t in the best shape to play Magic.
It took us a while to find a deck for my fiance. Initially, we wanted to go a WG defenders route utilizing both Huatli’s, but I had taken all of the good green cards for my deck. We then looked at the rest of the colors and tried to come up with a good color pair. We thought about RB because of the good gold cards and even considered Naya Aggro. Eventually, I realized that we had a ton of Cruel Celebrants and helped her to build an aristocrat deck, which is one of her favorite playstyles. With lots of drain effects, she could be comfortable just sitting there and watching her opponent get drained to death. We didn’t forget to add the gold cards to her deck, fortunately.
After we finished our decks we waited for the round to start. It took much longer than we expected, which would have been a good time to go and get food. They had been running tournaments all weekend and hadn’t been able to catch up in time for the pre-release. It took them about an hour to get our games started. A couple of days after the tournament, however, Game Grid sent out a text to everyone participating in the 8 PM pre-release and gave everybody $5 of store credit due to the delays. I thought this was an awesome thing to do, and shows why Game Grid Lehi is one of the best stores in Utah.
Round 1 we faced off against Rakdos aggro and Simic control. The aggro deck started off guns a blazing while we did everything we could to fend him off. His partner simply played lands and was ready to deal with our threats. I learned that Callous Dismissal is a sorcery, which wasn’t very exciting for me as I included it in my deck intending for it to be instant speed. It is very good at bouncing Amass tokens though. We were both starting to flood out and it was looking grim for us as they had a huge board filled with creatures and even had a 9/9 Vitu-Ghazi. My fiance top-decked Massacre Girl, and we cast it intending to only wipe away the 2/2’s. After talking with a judge we realized that Massacre Girl would wipe the entire board. After we killed everything she cast God-Pharoah’s Statue, and I continually got value with Vivien’s Arkbow and we were able to overtake the game from there.
In the second round, we got paired up against some of our closest friends and had a good time trash talking to each other before we started. I had seen their decks before the round had started and knew we were in for a tough one. In particular, I was afraid of them having 2 Karn’s that could both grab Parhellion II. We start the game and I have a Return to Nature in my hand which I’m saving for that Parhellion. The game goes on and they cast a ton of creatures and Planeswalkers and we are already on the backfoot. Emily casts Massacre Girl again and it looks like we are going to wipe the board, but they respond and put a +1/+1 counter on their 2/2 and stop the chain. We cast Single Combat hoping to slow them down a little bit. The Abzan player sacrifices 2 Planeswalkers and a bunch of creatures and keeps a Planeswalker, while the Bant player sacrifices everything except for a massive Bioessence Hydra. We can’t stabilize and they beat in and kill us.
At this point it was midnight, and considering that I had work at 7 in the morning it was time to get going. It was really fun getting to go see my friends, and of course, opening up the new set. I think that we could have built much better pools had we realized how much time we had, but it was still a good experience. It was disappointing that we couldn’t stay for more rounds, but the gesture that Game Grid took to compensate for that really shows how great of a store they are. I would like to thank them for providing my entry into the pre-release and giving me a fun time with friends. Thank you for reading, and I hope you have a great week and an amazing Tuesday!