Dragon’s Maze Pre-Release

The 27th-28th April was the pre-release weekend for the new Magic the Gathering set: Dragon’s Maze. I attended Gatecrash which was my first proper tournament, but was really looking forward to playing.


Back in the 90s at college we were given promotional stuff of Portal, and I later picked up a starter of that and Portal 2nd edition. But that was the furthest I had ever looked at Magic. I then picked up Duel of the Planeswalkers 2012 and fell in love with the vampire deck. Then 2013 came out and just as I was completing it Major Arcana was opening in Dundee. I dug out the old stuff I had and then picked up an intro box and have been playing for about 5 months.

I really liked silly tribal stuff so had a Vampire multiplayer deck which I gradually improved for duels, although it was never as good as those crazy £300+ decks. Who cares about that, it was brilliant fun. Getting 238 +1/+1 counters on a Vampire Nighthawk in multiplayer provoked a massive grin. I then made more silly tribal decks and, before Gatecrash a terrible mill deck. Another deviation was a mono green ramp deck. Mainly though I was sticking to Black/Red. For Gatecrash I went Dimir and did terrible, then under the excellent advisement of others ripped it apart and went Gruul having great fun. Day 2 I went Gruul too and did a bit better.

So, I had went Black and Red a lot, Green a little and Blue/White barely.

Saturday with Major Arcana: Two Headed Giant

For this pre-release I wanted to go something a bit different. Day 1 was 2 headed giant at Major Arcana, 2 vs 2. My teammate chose Gruul (Green, Red) and I chose Selesnya (Green/White). Opening my packs I quickly decided to go White/Red/Blue. I got Aurelia, 2 Render Silent and a ton of other good white/blue stuff.


The place was pretty busy, 17 teams of 2 with loads of prizes and 10 achievement challenges to do too. It’s a really casual shop so loads of kids and beginners go there and the atmosphere is about having fun. After building our decks we spoke to a couple of people comparing what cool new stuff we’d got. Two young brothers were on a team and told us they had a rare that was cool but not in the deck.
Me: Do you know what it does?
Him: No, but my brother said not to put it in
Me: Every creature that hits you gets destroyed and you get a 1/1 flyer.
Him: *slack jawed*
Me: Get it in your deck!

Reviewing their decks we helped them add a pile of good stuff they had out. Then my teammate helped someone else out too.

So having never played White/Blue control before I decided to go for it. Round 1 we were against two control players (CJ and Stephen Bangs) though so knew it would be tough, we lost predicatively. We did manage to bluff a fair bit though and pull off a good move. The opponents had a guy with 5 toughness that when he attacks gives a bonus to all creatures. We had a spell which did 4 damage – not enough to kill before they moved to attack. The way to deal though was spotted and we transformed the guy into a 4/4 dragon and then hit him for 4. Surprised and got praise from the opponents for a well thought out and executed move.

This meant we started off 0-1 and were lucky enough to get a bye for the next round. This not only meant we’d be 1-1 but we’d get a chance to go watch a few matches and see what people had.

Match 3 starts and the two brothers are sitting 2-0 up and everyone playing them is hearing the entire shop cheer support for them, hoping their Timmy monster decks do the job. but alas, Ewan and Ferg have done the business and beaten the 11 year old kids at Magic. How good they must feel, crushing their spirits and dreams and becoming the new 3-0 n00bs.

Match 3 we are against two other newer players and manage to bluff a fair bit. unfortunately one play goes wrong and a ground troop goes in against a Boros Reckoner allowing them to kill Aurelia. We manage to stabilise and maintain control until the end though with nice flyers.

We move on to game 4 and get destroyed by Ali and Jonathon Harper (Arcana MVP). Golgari is a deck I haven’t played much against and a Troll got massive and kept regenerating with us unable to find enough removal/blockers to deal with it and it pretty much takes us out on it’s own.

So we go into Game 5, 2-2 versus a team at 0-4 which seems a bit weird but that’s how the round software works sometimes. We try to stabilise but a lifelink flyer is keeping them in the game. At one point I looked and saw they had gained 33 life having started on 30 and currently sitting on 22. One of the achievements was to do 30 points of damage in a turn and unfortunately that was taken just before I finally get a land to play Aurelia. We have an 8/8 out, a 3/1 flyer, a 3/1 double striker with battalion, a 1/4 which can use mana to turn aside their defenders and then Aurelia. We swing in scoring 52 points of damage after giving the 8/8 +6/+6. Afterwards I realised that if we buffed the double striker we would have hit for 88!

In the end we finished 3-2 and 9th out of 17. Prizes were given out with the kids getting the biggest cheer of all. We knew our place by the comment before announcing our place: There’s no prize for best team name but if there was, it would go to the Rinky Dinks Stinky Pink. Yay for team Rinky Dink.

Some frantic trading takes place before we retire to the pub to play pack wars with our prizes.

Note: Due to some of those playing at the shop being kids I have only used a few names in the first draft. If anyone lets me know they don’t mind their name being used I will add it in.

Sunday with Highlander Games: Sealed Pool

For game day two I went to the solo tournament organised by Highlander Games. I expected a lot tougher competition, people from the shop often rank highly in tournaments including going to the Professional Tournaments. When I opened my packs it was a weird mixture of stuff but with Teysa, Nightveil Specter and some good flyers I decided to go White/Blue/Black again. Laying it out before cuts, I had 4 bombs, 20+ removal and about 10 evasion.


Game 1 vs Andrew La Hay.
I face off against a 5 colour monstrosity deck filled with loads of powerful stuff. The new elementals come out and suddenty all his multicolour stuff is flying and has deathtouch. There’s not much I can do about this and even after bringing in more flyers for match 2 I lose 2-0.

Game 2: 0-1 (0-2) vs Peter Christie

I start off well and manage to bounce/control a slow aggro deck and eventually triumph. Game two goes the same way with some added extort in to boot. Afterwards I look over the deck and suggest removing smite, and a wall and bringing in Martial Glory and a hasty creature but I don’t know if he took my advice or not.

Game 3: 1-1 (2-2) vs Graeme Knott
I face an almost mirror match and eventually get worn down through extort too much to do anything. Match 2 I win, but the third game stalls for ages before I eventually lose 2-1.Teysa

Game 4: 1-2 (3-4) vs Isaac Marriott
This was my second favourite match. I face off against a Rakdos aggro deck and although I finally manage to get Teysa on the field lose the first match 1-0. I bring in some more low drop chump blockers to try and delay. Match 2 I manage to bounce a 5 power Unleash guy 3 times, twice to hand and once to top of deck. Eventually Nightveil Specter and my flyers make it through to equalise making it 1-1. Match 3 I go with same strategy although a mull to 6 was needed. Chumping to get Nightveil Specter through and also ciphering Hidden Strings onto it. I steal two red spells and am desperate to grab a mountain to try and play some. He is mana screwed needing a second swamp. I steal 4 underneath the Specter. Isaac manages to steal the Specter and hit me and we have to rules check if he can play any of the cards exiled under the Specter (he can) so he takes back a chump blocker. I gradually wear down and do too much air damage for him to defend winning 2-1. This match went to time and was really enjoyable as end-to-end stuff.


Game 5: 2-2 (5-5) vs Jackson Walters
I enter the match thinking I have a good chance of still finishing top half. Then I realise it’s another five colour bombfest. I get smashed in the first match. Match 2 I quickly manage to turn it round with some flyers and the ever good Hidden Strings to tap Jacksons creatures/untap my creatures/land etc. Match 3 they get to 22 life as I’m drifting down losing badly.

Game 6: 2-3 (6-7) vs Rachel Southern
Final game and we are both sitting at 2-3, basically the winner might get an extra booster prize. I think this is the first time I face off against a female opponent at a 1vs1 tournament too although a surprising number take part.

Match 1 I go down 1-0 not able to keep pace with the battalion onslaught. The drop of Ruric and then Ghost Council destroyed me as well as about 5 lands in a row which I bluff with. During the match we both make a couple of misplays and let each other re-do. This match feels most like the ones of the day before – purely for fun.

Match 2 I manage to steal Ruric underneath the Specter which is a big blow for my opponent and then slowly win through extort/flyers with no blocks. This game and game 4 were both the ones I most effectively chump blocked. Knowing what was in hand to replace lost blockers and bluffing a couple of times too.

Match 3 I gradually get enough flyers through to take over. We are both stalled for a while though and duel extorting each other and I realise we might go to time on the last game. Time is called just as I manage to drop Teysa and get a huge lifelink gain. We go to the rounds and mine ends with me 6 life short of victory whilst sitting on over 30. Rachel plays but knows she can’t win this round after my lifegain. So having lost a few games by playing too fast I end up not winning this one as I played too slow. It is a well deserved draw though and we both finish the day 2-3-1 (7-8-1) with me at 32nd of 52, short of the 26 bar I’d set myself.

The prizes are awarded and I manage to trade for loads of stuff I needed for the Commander Guild deck (see a future post).

I really enjoyed the weekend although I still haven’t managed to play a block draft yet.

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