SpartanNerd…What happened at Kahns of Tarkir Pre-Release Sealed Deck


“Fetch Lands! Need I say more!

I have been playing “junk,” that means Green White and Black. Kahns of Tarkir calls this “Abzan.” Whatever. The cards revealed so far are pretty amazing! I can’t wait!”

I wrote these words and saved them as a draft in WordPress over two weeks ago.

Sadly, my sealed deck experience fell flat.  And I’m not sure why.

I went to the midnight pre-release, basically on a tiny little nap.  I left early, about 10:30 PM, and wished I had brought a commander deck or something.   I didn’t intend to purchase anything outside of basic snack needs.  But the Tangled Web was slam dunk packed, and excitement was in the air.  When it was finally time to break out the packs, I was happy to see a beautifully designed box, and got a nice pin to wear also depicting the symbol of the “Abzan Houses”.

The seeded deck came with a beautiful foil “Hardened Scales,” a good card.  And I got a good bit of cards in my other packs that went well with “Abzan Houses” green-black-white colors.  Only one rare didn’t fit at all.  I was also happy to get a copy of “Windswept Heath.”  (If you know the SpartanNerd’s secret identity, then you know why!)

My problem was, I believe, that I didn’t have many chumps.  A large quantity of my card pool was four drops and higher!  I got a copy of “Anafenza, The Foremost” but she amounted to one of the cheapest spells in my deck!  I did have a few morphs, but I’m not sure I played the best ones.  (Abzan Guide costs way to much to morph.)  I got some removal, but most of it was over-costed.  I didn’t get many black cards to refill my mono-black deck.  (I am of the opinion that the wizards are trying to suppress mono-black devotion.)

I played until 3:30 AM, then decided to drop.  My first match as a loss to a blue-red deck, and my second match was a draw to five color deck that was mainly a mirror but splashing red and blue.  I reckoned that it wasn’t worth staying the other four rounds after what amounted to two losses and me getting sleepier and sleepier.  (With house framing to do the next day!)

The weird thing about this particular format for sealed deck was how doggone SLOW it was.  You pretty much have to play three colors, and mana-fixing is the number one priority.  This means 18 cards of the 40 are boring lands.  I was able to fix with “life gain” lands, however, three copies of “Jungle Hollow” and one “Soured Barrens.”  As well as the “Abzan Banner” and Sandsteppe Citadel.”  But all of these lands enter tapped, so that will slow you down.  Then there is the opposite.  “Windswept Heath” is very speedy!  But combine this slow mana base with cards that ask for ridiculous mana requirements, and you get a slow, slow, slow format.

Hub City Geeks, I’m afraid this was my final midnight pre-release.  You are going to have to wait until Saturday afternoon when the next set comes out.  I just don’t play that well during the day, much less in the wee hours of the morning!

I am going to post a copy of all of the rares I got as they are in my trade binder, then say a word or two about them.



Windswept Heath”  Especially glad to have this fetch land!  I want MORE!

Trail of Mystery” was a good idea.  It never showed up in all six matches of MTG I got to play.

Hardened Scales” I opted not to play this guy but instead to play Trail of Mystery.  All I know about sealed deck is “keep it about the creatures”  And enchantments don’t do anything if they don’t have creatures to effect.  The art of this card is very pretty…this is the promo foil version.  I like the idea of what this card does, however, and it is going to find a home somewhere somehow in my constructed decks.

Anafenza, the Foremost.”  I believe Anafenza is meant to hate on “delve.”  (With that mechanic, you exile cards from the graveyard as a cost for colorless mana.)  The other ability goes well with “outlast.”  (Outlast lest you pay a cost and tap a creature to put a counter on it. She lets you put an extra counter.  She also gives them a counter when they attack)  Because she is a potentially early bomb, she also got removed a good bit.

Abzan Charm.”  OK, not a rare.  This card is being touted as a potential top card in Standard and Modern.  So here it sits in my binder!  It is good removal.  It is also a “sign in blood” for you.  And lastly it can target two creatures giving them a 1/1 counter.  If you are paying attention, then you know this will go great with “heroic” stuff from the “Theros” block!

Meandering Towershell”  This is one of those cards…it makes you scratch your head.  Like “Alms Beast” did in “Gatecrash.”  WHY?  Why should it be exiled when it attacks?  Then come back during the attack phase next turn?  I don’t see the point.  You could LOSE THE GAME BY THEN.  In case you are wondering.  NO I DIDN”T PLAY IT!

Sagu Mauler.”  Not in my colors.  But a pretty good card.  I may eventually try out the “sultai” graveyard strategy.  It might be an enhancement to “junk” to add another color.

I’m not giving up on “Kahns.”  This time I was just unlucky, and maybe should’ve played on Saturday afternoon instead of midnight.  I have already made a new “White weenie” deck with my new cards.  We’ll see how that works out next time I get to play standard.

Thanks for reading, faithful readers!

SpartanNerd…What happened at the Journey to Nyx Midnight Pre-Release Tournament?!

I left my home for the 20-30 minute drive (traffic really makes a difference!) to the Tangled Web Comics and Games store in Spartanburg at about 10:45 P.M. on the night before the pre-release.  Before I left, I loaded up on my new favorite drink, Mountain Dew Kickstart, and thought about how crazy this was.  I was now taking my MTG fixation to a new level…attending an all-nighter tournament.  Luckily there was little traffic…a lot of Proms were going on in the Hub City, so that kept people off the road on the west side, evidently.  (I wanted to get there early and buy some new sleeves.)

Anyway, I got there plenty safe, and spent a little time talking to folks before the event.  The TW really started to fill up.  This would be the largest tournament I ever played in, with 63 total participants!

So here’s what I got!

I chose Black as my color.  I thought a ton of people might have chosen black…We were called last.  It seems that almost no one chose red…probably the weakest preview this time.

1 Box

This is what my box looked like. No peeking until the boss says so! “Forged in Tyranny.” The wizard are referring to the fantasy that Erebos tyrannically takes everyone’s soul in death.

This tournament is the hardest kind of tournament…basically a sealed deck tournament.  You can only play with the cards you get.  And you have no idea what they are except for that you chose black and get a Doomwake Giant.  He has potential, but isn’t stellar.  Luckily a faithful player is familiar with half of the card in this box…you get two Theros boosters and one Born of the Gods booster.

2 Box contents

Here are the contents of the box. Sorry, not much room. I took this picture at the store on my Angel playmate!

3 Hero card vanilla

One of the draws on the pre-release is the Heroes path. This is the special Hero card you get to play with the challenge decks, “Face the Hydra” “Battle the Horde” and the upcoming “Defeat a God.” Black gets a whip. I know this is a blurry pic, but it says “Equipped Creature gets+1/+2 and has death touch.” The big blank space is so you can customize the weapon to your liking…which I will show you later!

4 Insert front

There was this insert…It features the Promo art for Doomwake Giant. Like the Dual Deck art that recently came out, this is also excellent artwork.

5 Insert back

The back of that insert has some information for the new players. It explains the stance of Orzhov as a a drain type of deck. Dimur as a tricky type of deck that takes the other players card advantage and kills there creatures, The black and red Rakdos style deck features aggressive creatures and especially minotaurs in the Theros block, and the Black and Green Golgari style deck that uses the graveyard as a source of cards.

6 counter dice

I was glad to get a dice that matched my deck well and I can read easily! Of course the 20 spot has the symbol for the Journey Into Nyx expansion of the Theros block.

7 Forge a Godslayer card

Back to the Hero card. Each time you finished a match, you got to get a sticker-seal thing. You put the sticker according to the chart at the bottom…This was how you indicated what text you wanted on your Hero card. I wanted double strike, so I got all three brown stickers. I imagine in a massive tournament of this type, of maybe several hundred people, this would have been more challenging. I personally enjoy the challenge decks and playing them on GameDay especially. But lots of people were just ignoring this mini-game.

Before I begin showing off cards, I want to explain my thinking going into this thing.  I knew I wanted to get Athreos or Pharika as a rare in my sealed pack.  My intent was to go either Black-White or Black-Green.  I had scoped out the cards ahead of time, and knew this was what I wanted to do.  Additionally I have been playing Mono-Black devotion, but recently created a Green Black deck using Deathrite Shaman for SpartanSmurf #2.  But I also have a good experience with Black White from Ravnica.  And I thought Athreos was the best new god card coming out.  (Lots of other people think so too…he is pre-selling for over $20.)

My sealed pack had Pharika, and when I weighed out all of my cards, Black-Green was my best choice.  Here is the deck I put together.


8 My creatures

These cards formed my strategy…

9 Star cards

Before it was over, these were the standout cards for me. The Nyx Weaver has reach and can stop those flyers…He also loads your graveyard to fuel Pharika’s ability. The two of them were a powerful combo the few times I got them out together. Pharika has the ability to make 1/1 death touch snakes, which are what Pharika’s chosen is, for a lot cheaper. In this deck I was lucky to get two copies.  Mogis Marauder is one that I haven’t paid that much attention to before…In constructed he is only so useful it seems.  But in this limited environment he was really good.  Font of Return was good for getting stuff out of my graveyard, as well as Pharika’s Mender.  Returned Reveler would have been good in multiples.  Milling your opponent who probably doesn’t want to be, and you who does!  Finally Doomwake Giant, who was good at killing off Mana Elves as he entered the battlefield.

10 unused JOU cards

These are the cards I rejected.  It seems I didn’t photograph all of the white ones for some reason.  But the white cards became my sideboard which I didn’t use.

11 useless rares

The bummer thing was that I couldn’t use most of my rares. Pyxis of Pandemonium. (eye roll). Ephara has blue, and Psychic Intrusion hasn’t ever been a home run. Deicide and Launch the Fleet might have been good if I played white instead of Green.

12 cards that were a problem for me

These are some of the cards that people played against me that gave me a problem. It just so happens that I had a copy of these. The Sigiled Starfish was really troubling. Not only was it too big for my deck to kill, opponents usually wouldn’t block with it. And it allowed them to scry. In fact 3 out of my four opponents played this card. Kiora’s Dismissal was another one. I go through effort to play something, say Pharika’s Mender, and then it gets put back into my hand.

I left the tournament at 5:15 A.M. after four rounds.  I’m sure it would have lasted until 10:00.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  And my weariness was effecting my playing and even my ability to do the simple combat math involved.  I came home and crashed until about 11:00.  But it was a blast.  I think fondly on the experience, and hope to do it again sometime.

Oh Yeah!  And I got a freebie.  “The Wilds and the Deep” starter deck, which I will post as a SpartanNerd Scoop as my next post!