Return To Ravnica – Saturday Prerelease

Blame Brad Nelson.

I was surprised to find the first part of a RTR set review by Evan Erwin and Brad Nelson on YouTube this morning.  I thought Detain was a neat and appropriate mechanic, but until watching that video I hadn’t really grasped that the cards with Detain are all pretty good too.  I audibled to Azorious for the RTR prerelease today and went 3-0-1 (draw was not intentional) with a strong pool and some good luck.

Most popular guild at my LGS?  Izzet, by far.  The midnight prerelease wiped out the entire stock of Izzet guild decks; 12 out of 24 people chose it!  And those 24 at the Midnight Prerelease?  Only 14 at the 1pm prerelease, about half of them chugging Red Bull and playing for the second time.  MTG players are apparently impatient zombies…

My Deck

LANDS (17)
3 Azorious Guildgate
1 Transguild Promenade
8 Island
7 Plains 
CREATURES (14)
1 New Prahv Guildmage
1 Azorious Arrester
1 Frostburn Weird
1 Keening Apparition
1 Vassal Soul
1 Loxodon Smiter
2 Tower Drake
2 Armory Guard
1 Soulsworn Spirit
1 Hussar Patrol
1 Isperia’s Skywatch
1 Archon of the Triumvirate (promo)
SPELLS (9)
1 Inactin Injunction
2 Dramatic Rescue
2 Azorious Keyrune
1 Cancel
1 Paralyzing Grasp
1 Security Blockade
1 Supreme Verdict 

Round 1: 2-0 vs GWu
Round 2: 1-1-1 vs GW
Round 3: 2-0 vs GB
Round 4: 2-0 vs UW

The draw was time limit and nearly a loss.  I had a slim chance to win and went for it instead of playing for the draw and using my Guildmage’s detain ability.  My opponent attacked with two small creatures when I was at 12…then played 3 pump spells!  Fortunately, it added up to only 11 damage.

The last round was potentially very interesting as I was facing a more aggressive Azorious deck.  Instead, it was pretty bizarre as both games I mulliganed a 5 land hand into a 1 land hand on the draw.  My opponent got a bit flooded Game 1 then a bit stuck on mana Game 2.

MVPs: Archon, Verdict, Smiter, Guildmage

No real surprise on the MVPs, except maybe Supreme Verdict.  Wrath effects are good of course, but it was repeatedly vital against Selesyna decks that could otherwise overwhelm with tokens.

Relevant Sideboard: Sundering Growth & Dispel

Naturalize effects tend to be hit or miss; I’d expect them to hit a little more in RTR Limited because of several strong Enchantments like Marshal Law and the Keyrunes, but it relevant in 2 of 4 matches.  The other 2 matches had zero targets.

Dispel came in against the Selesnya player with a ton of combat tricks.

Nombo: Paralyzing Grasp.  Doesn’t play well with Detain.

Rest Of My Sealed Pool

Izzet (4) – Firemind’s Foresight, Blistercore Weird, Chemister’s Trick, Frostburn Weird (2nd)

Frostburn Weird was my 23rd card, going out when I sideboarded.  Being a 1/4 seems more relevant than usual with lots of Centaur tokens running around.

Blue (4) – Mizzium Skin, Aquus Steed, Crosstown Courier, Doorkeeper

Mizzium Skin seems like a playable trick depending on your opponent’s deck.  It might be relevant in the Azorious Mirror.  I considered it, but never missed it.

U/W (3) – Judge’s Familiar, 2 Search Warrant

Familiar seems far more Constructed relevant than Limited.  Search Warrant seems unplayable.

White (5) – Avenging Arrow, 2 Swift Justice, Knightly Valor, Rootborn Defenses

I’m really not sure how good Avenging Arrow is.

Selesyna (4) – Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage, 2 Coursers’ Accord, Heroes’ Reunion

I considered splashing beyond the Loxodon Smiter, but decided not to since I had no other token generators.

Green (9) – 3 Urban Burgeoning [1 foil], Death’s Prescence, Aerial Predation, Golgari Decoy, Oak Street Innkeeper, Korozda Monitor, Druid’s Deliverance

I forgot about Predation when sideboard in the Azorious mirror when it would have been relevant.  I’m not sure about Prescence in a deck like mine.

Golgari (4) – Sluiceway Scorpion, Trestle Troll, Dreg Mangler, Grisly Salvage

Black (10) – Desecration Demon, Ultimate Price, Launch Party, Ogre Jailbreaker, Grim Roustabout, Tavern Swindler, Destroy the Evidence, 2 Catacomb Slug, Deviant Glee

Quantity, but not quality.

Rakdos (4) – Rakdos Ragemutt, Spawn of Rix Maadi, Skull Rend, Auger Spree

I have a R/B multiplayer deck that really wants it some Skull Rend.

Red (5) – Electrickery, Gore-House Chainwalker, Annihilating Fire, Cobblebrute, Vandalbast

Other (4) – Izzet Guildgate, Golgari Guildgate, Civic Saber, foil Swamp

Saber seems deceptive as despite the multicolor block there are a lot of monocolored creatures played.  It might have a home in the right kind of aggressive deck.

I didn’t have any doubt about playing U/W; the only question was what third color splash, if any.  Reviewing my pool, I think UWg was correct.

Misc Thoughts On The Format and RTR

I think there is an interesting rock-paper-scissors metagame in RTR Limited:

Scavenge < Detain < Populate < Overload < Unleash < Scavenge

General, Azorious can keep Golgari locked down, but get overwhelmed by Selesyna (unless they have Supreme Verdict).  Izzet can negate Selesyna’s numbers advantage, but gets run over by Rakdos’ speed.  Golgari can trade with Rakdos early drops and recycles those creatures to make a better late game.

Detain seems like it could be insane in draft.

I need to see it in action more to be sure, but I think my local players seriously misvalue Unleash.  They seem inclined to use it without hesitation when I think there are some serious questions to be asked, especially for creatures that also have Deathtouch or First Strike.

Scavenge + Unleashed = Nombo.

The Play Your Guild idea is really cool, but not a complete success.  Despite 1 of 6 packs being only cards of your chosen guild, several players still ended up with card pools that made their chosen Guild unplayable.

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