Sunday, September 28, 2008

Because 5 Is Better Than 1

Well, I experienced my first Magic: the Gathering prerelease today (actually yesterday, since it's 1:29 AM right now). It was an exhilarating experience. Let me tell you all about it.

Let me start with my journey to Tampere. I was down in front of the store by 7:44 AM, 26 minutes before opening. I spent the time listening to music and wondering if they'll open on schedule. They did. I bought myself a couple of sandwiches and a bottle water for the road. I was in the bus stop by 8:06 AM, 14 minutes before the arrival of the bus. Again, I waited listening to music. Now comes the fun part. At 8:18 AM, a strange bus appears. It was green on the sides, and I didn't recognise the company. So I was wondering if that's the one I should take. While I was wondering, it passed by me. Here in Finland, you have to wave for the bus to stop, even thought if clearly you are waiting for it in the station. After it passed, I thought to myself: "What if this was the bus I was supposed to get on and I missed it?" I had the jinkies for the next 4 minutes, till I recognised the ExpressBus coming. I waved, and... surprise! the guy just showed me to back up, and passed me. I was shocked! I realised that I wasn't standing at the correct stop. Now I was really sure that I had missed my bus, till the Valkeakoski Liikenne bus came, not a minute later, I waved, it stopped, I got on, and was on my way to Tampere. After having reached Tampere, it was an adventure finding the right bus to take me to Hervanta, where the university campus is, and once I got there, the hassle to finding the place where the tournament was held. However, when I saw all those people gathering, I just followed them, and I got there, eventually.

I was surprised to see so many people. There were more than fifty participants. It was all so exciting. Enough with the introductions, let's get down to the tournament.

Shards of Alara is a set which story-wise revolves around a plane, Alara, which for some reason got torn apart into five shard-planes. The proportions of the five colours of mana differ from plane to plane, which resulted in the divergent evolution of these planes. Mechanics-wise, this means that each plane is represented exclusively by one of the colours, and it's adjacent "ally" colours. Brings back memories of Invasion. However, unlike Invasion, here each shard-plane has it's very distinct feel. Bant, the white-centred shard, has many small creatures that buff each other up. Esper, the blue-centred shard, has coloured artifacts and each creature is an artifact creature, with many effects that affect or care about your artifacts (I realise I just used the word "artifact" three times in that sentence). Grixis, the black-centred shard, is all about undead, reanimation and creature kill. Jund, the red-centred shard, is all about small goblins and big dragons (so typical), with mechanics which involve feeding the small to the big to make them even bigger. Naya, the green-centred shard, is all about big creatures (with power 5 or greater) and small mana-producers or synergy creatures that buff your gargantuans even more.

After opening the tournament pack and the three boosters, I came down to two options. Either playing an Esper deck or a Naya deck. After drawing Spearbreaker Behemoth, a 5/5 indestructible for 7 mana, and also some pretty good biggies (5/5 vigilance, haste for 6 mana; and 5/4 vanilla for 3 mana), as well as a very good mana base (one tap-land, one obelisk and two panoramas), not to mention that crazy Titanic Ultimatum (a sorcery which for 7 mana gives all your creatures +5/+5, trample, first strike and lifelink until end of turn), I just couldn't resist playing the Naya deck. The Timmy in me was crying out from the bottom of his lungs. He got the best of me. I ended up losing my first two matches because of it. After that, I switched to the Esper deck. I didn't have any real solid card in that deck, but all the small cards worked very well together. My mana curve was highest in the 2 and 3 cost range. I also had a ton of removal, ranging from 2-mana, to 4-mana, as well as some powerful card-drawing. I won the following three matches, and lost in the sixth round to a solid Grixis deck (and an experienced player).

Overall, I had a great time, and can't wait to play in next week's, release tournament.


dr. Vincze-Nagy AndrĂ¡s said...

For me MTG was always one of those things that are famous for the hype around it and not for the thing they actually are.

But I can understand people who are getting caught by these megahypes, cause I'm a little bit like that too.

I'm glad you were able to go to that prerelease, I remember you telling stories about this card game, and the parties kept under the name of it.

I bet it is a precious memory to you, so Congrats :)

Viki Rosenzveig said...

That's the same thing you said about DotA. Now that I've convinced you that there really is something about it, I'm pretty sure you'd have a different take on MtG as well. We'll try it when I come home. ;)

Anyway, thanks! And also, congrats for you're officially becoming an M.D.! Give it some time, and soon you'll have your own TV series! ;)