Sunday, 1 May 2011

Stoke-on-Trent Elements Release and Noblegarden [01/05/11]

Another day, another Sealed and Noblegarden. I cracked some packs and they weren't nearly as terrible as yesterday's, though I did open yet another Wyvern Sting - I've quite literally opened about 15 of these. Why couldn't it be 15 Sava'gin or Rolan Phoenix?

I had a last-minute crisis of faith, switching from Warlock (Nether Inversion, 2 Dread Touch, Maazhum, Fel Covenant) to Warrior (2 Merciless Strikes, Intercept, Shattering Throw, Peerless Guard, and crucially, Poisonfire Greatsword). Peter Hottelet got sleeved up because let's face it - it's pretty difficult to justify Dual Wield over 'all your weapons get really stupid'.

I opened Wyvern Sting, Searing Pain, Rufus Claybourne, Poisonfire Greatsword, Mystical Refreshment, and Rend and Tear. Rufus and the sword made the cut. A quick bit of insight on the rares:

Rufus was only really relevant once - it's nice to be able to play your two-drop at the end of the opponent's turn so you can avoid removal; his power was only ever relevant for me once though, preventing a whole one damage from a Steady Shot.

Poisonfire Greatsword is... well, it's a melee weapon. Its power allows you to put your allies to good use if you don't want to sacrifice them to a protector, but I'd still rather just have Warmace of Menethil for the extra two resources. I paired it with Peter Hottelet, which makes any weapon playable to a certain extent, but I doubt this will see constructed play any time soon.

My pool was definitely more satisfying than yesterday's either way! Three rounds.

Round 1 vs Burnsy from Shrewsbury, playing Aric Stonejack

I'm not allowed easy first rounds any more it appears. Burnsy comes out of the blocks at blistering speed, playing a load of Nature guys, recurring them with Zuur, and then recurring Zuur with Zuur. Turn five I drop the sword, kill something with it and then find myself facing down Al'akir the Windlord with dangerous amounts of damage on my hero. I play Heroic Throw, hurl the sword at the Epic guy and breathe a sigh of relief, only to see the second Zuur recur Al'akir from the graveyard. I play a couple of allies, hurl the sword at the freshly reanimated corpse of Al'akir but while I've been busy dealing with that, everything else has got a bit out of hand, he's flipped and is getting a free 3/3 every turn and I scoop rather than show Burnsy any more of my deck.

Game two I play the textbook sealed game - one drop two drop three drop etc. Game three goes much the same way though Al'akir lands uncontested and gives me fits for a couple of turns while I work out the best way to kill him without a weapon.

"More allies!" apparently. [1-0]

Round 2 vs a Stoke Local whose name I forget, playing Mage

Mage is a class I've never tried in a limited format - I've gone Priest during the 6x Wrathgate Sealed days but the tiny health pool always puts me off. My opponent had opened a bunch of quality burn spells including a Draconic Flames, but the big thing in his deck was the Rare location, Deepholm. When a hero or ally in your party deals melee damage with Deepholm in play, you can exhaust it and two other resources to make a 2/1 elemental ally token... which also deals Melee damage. If left unchecked it can generate ridiculous card advantage.

It didn't help his deck was full of melee-dealing allies. The objective switched from 'create a board that lets me deal with any situation' to 'remove Melee allies from the table at any cost'. Luckily Deepholm only works on your turn, so after the initial barrage of 1/4 melee guys were taken care of with a timely Merciless Strikes, I was able to take board control and stop the card advantage machine rolling too much. Much the same happened in the second game - he kept a hand containing no Deepholm, and then was visibly relieved when he drew it off the top of his deck on his second turn. Big thanks to Dan for being so vocal about how ridiculous Deepholm can get if left unchecked - that was a definite help in winning this match! [2-0]

Round 3 vs another Stoke Local whose name I have also forgot, playing Baxxel Geartooth

The first game was an epic. A few turns in my opponent drops Gispax the Mixologist, discards and searches out a Tesla, having flipped his hero the turn before. This meant that the next turn I was facing a 7/3 Tesla, and when he searched up another one the next turn things were looking dire. I dropped a Ruby Protector and another ally who could deal three damage and this did the job stalling him out for long enough and making him delay playing his Teslas.

Eventually he had to play them to get rid of the protectors. I bounced his remaining ally with a Shadowseer Calista, dropped an Azure Skyrazor, and managed to untap with both of them in play, and drew for turn - my second Merciless Strikes to go with the other one I'd been waiting for an opportunity to use. My opponent was sat on three damage after his turn one Rosalyne Von Erantor, and that was enough.

Pay 3, Merciless Strikes. Opponent to 6. Pay 3, Merciless Strikes. Opponent to 9. Abilities boost Azure Skyrazor to 6ATK (opponent to 15), Shadowseer Calista to 8ATK (opponent to 23), Hero to 4ATK (opponent to 27).

He dropped a Protector the following turn but couldn't prevent all the damage I had on board for the next turn, along with the Ruby Enforcer I was holding just in case. I was sat at around 20 damage at this point, having been struggling to stabilise for the entire game. [3-0]

No prizes! Gutted.

I went 2-2 in the Core constructed tournament having two amazing matches vs Burnsy (Death Wish) and Amy (Ymirheim/Phylactery) that were back and forth for ages - me digging for one card each time that would have let me stabilise and probably win out, and failing to find it both times :)

The following two games were against Ryan from Stoke, who has only been playing for a week - I ran out of space on my playmat due to failing to draw Spark in the first game but still being able to control his board, before drawing two cards off The Boon of Alexstrasza and then drawing for turn, only to find that all three of them were Sparks. I comboed out that turn for almost 70 damage :)

The second game I dug out a Lazy Peon deck I've been working on - let's just say that him being Rekwa caused it a problem or two, but I eventually managed to seal the deal with overwhelming board presence.


So, Elements then.

Better than expected: Merciless Strikes

It's like a not-quite-as-good one-off Muradin Bronzebeard. The thing that makes this really playable though is that it's instant - and with the amount of 1/4 Protectors in this format, it's a great way to make use of your 2/1s in that situation. Timriv is better, but costs one more; I would happily play both.

Not as good as expected: Rufus Claybourne

I didn't play against any classes who used an abundance of direct damage, but in such a tempo-oriented format I don't know if his cost is a little too much. At the same time, there are very few allies that cost more than five in War of the Elements (and none that aren't Epic that cost more than six) so once you hit seven resources he could come into his own. Basically didn't shine for me today, will probably be much more useful in constructed formats.

War of the Elements Limited - first impressions

Just a quickie for now. Haven't played with the entire card pool so this is by no means definitive!

Worse than expected: Bronze Drake

There appear to be quite a lot of 1/2s and 2/3s in War of the Elements, and as a result Bronze Drake's ideal use of taking out your opponent's one-drop when going second often didn't work as intended. I would probably play him again but I had high expectations of him and often found him lacking instead, and probably would have preferred the second Arvos Jadestone in my deck instead.

Better than expected: Nessera Gildenrose

Remember Dhoros Ravestrike? He was a ludicrous finisher if you could untap with him in play while you had a bunch of resources in play. Nessera is less efficient than Dhoros on resource cost per Assault, but her extra health makes her much more survivable and she is also quite useful to help you trade up.

Still as good as ever: Bayner Cogbertson

Even a Savage Raptor can't kill this guy in one hit. Still a major problem for any board.

Current best Uncommon in set: Crown of Chelonian Freedom

Having seen this played with an Emerald Emissary on board, it can dominate a game. Its static 1 DEF is just the icing on the cake.

Joint current best Uncommon in set: Timriv the Enforcer

Pay 4, execute all those good trades you did earlier, get a 3/3 that needs to be dealt with immediately? Yeah, ok.

Ripley Noblegarden and Elements

Yeah! I'm not jetlagged any more so this should be awesome! Let's play with some War of the Elements!

Four boosters of War of the Elements, two boosters of Worldbreaker. I only really started getting into playing limited around the time of Scourgewar/Wrathgate, and due to the shortages of Scourgewar product, the majority of sealed I played last block was 6x Wrathgate.

Those days are very much gone now, so I was pretty excited to crack open a real release celebration-style sealed pool. Let's start with the Worldbreaker. Pack one... Steal Steel. "Yeah!" I exclaim, and flaunt my shit rare to the other six attendees.

Pack two... Steal Steel. "No!"

The War of the Elements packs weren't much better and after much deliberation I went Rogue - and didn't play the Steal Steels. All this while Julian, who was sat next to me, opens a Warmace of Menethil, followed by a Bloodied Arcanite Reaper, followed by a Savage Raptor, followed by a Wild Hammer...

Edwin Blademark

Nathar Wilderson
Arvos Jadestone
Varandas Silverleaf
2 Nessera Gildenrose
Andrew Ulric
Brimi Tinkerblade
Wazix Blonktop
"Zooti" Fizzlefury
2 Shadowseer Calista
2 Erama (Boobie Lady)
Bayner Cogbertson

Bronze Drake
2 Bronze Guardian
Azure Emissary
Emerald Acidspewer
Bronze Skyrazor
Bound Inferno

2 Sap
Aggressive Exploitation

Challenge to the Black Flight
Counting Out Time
End of the Supply Line
Elemental Energy

Round 1: vs Guy from Shrewsbury (which is in Wales, honest) playing Paladin

I'm not Jetlagged! However, I forget that my hero's flip gives my allies Stealth and that the Crown of Chelonian Freedom, which I'd read the previous turn and gone 'oh god that's good' prevents damage to non-Horde, non-Alliance allies.

So I run my ally into the neutral guy with Protector. It wasn't even close. As we were de-side-decking for the second round, Guy shows me the Crusher of Bonds he's sided in, just so I could Steal Steel it. Such a gent.

Number of times Steal Steel included in deck: 0 [0-1]

Round 2: vs Liam from Stoke playing Blue Hunter

During the first round there was a bit of commotion from Liam's table, largely due to the Ragnaros he'd pulled. Something to watch out for then. Game 1 was pretty straightforward - I played a Daze on turn 3 and put his Prized Beastmaster's Mantle in the bin, then dropped Boobie Lady, then won.

The second game saw me take almost complete control after a fast start from Liam - seeing him run out of cards while I dropped several five and six-drops, slowly advancing towards a victory, and Sapping an Emerald Lifewarden to enable me to continue to make favourable trades.

His final turn of that game involved him playing Ruby Enforcer, then Bronze Drakonid to ready the Emerald Lifewarden, who swung for exactly fatal. Gutted.

Luckily Game 3 saw me curve out and win in a few minutes flat, in an entirely uninteresting manner.

Number of times Steal Steel included in deck: 0 [1-1]

Round 3: vs Morgan playing Red Warlock

Morgan has a habit of building super-aggressive limited decks, so with my "err I have about 30 cards" deck I wasn't looking forward to this one. Luckily, Sardok, which had given Julian so much trouble in his previous game due to all his amazing weapon cards dealing melee damage, was no trouble whatsoever for the mighty Arvos Jadestone. Following this strong start things started to go downhill as whenever I wanted to play a Shadowseer Calista, Morgan had usually just played a Maazhum, rendering the tempo boost somewhat redundant.

The big turning point came where I was one turn away from winning the first game, and just needed some way to deal with Morgan's board of guys for a turn. I did the maths - I had enough guys to clear his board, bar one 5/4 man. I attempt to Sap it, and he destroys a Windlord's Gift to deny me.

Number of times Steal Steel included in deck: 0 [1-2]

That left me in a rather disappointing fifth place of seven, so hoped to redeem myself in the Noblegarden event running straight afterwards. I don't have an exact list right now, but wanted to run a deck that contained a load of new cards I'd got my hands on - some Feral Spirit tokens, and some crafted cards - Leggings of the Tireless Sentry and String of Beaded Bubbles. I ended up putting together a version of the Spark Shaman decks that have been doing well recently - not a complete netdeck but heavily inspired by.

Round 1: vs Bye

I really needed a piss anyway. [1-0]

R2: vs Amy, playing Phylactery/Ymirheim deck

This is the deck I (unsuccessfully) played against at Realms. Having an idea of what it did in advance was pretty helpful!

I went first, dropped an early Truncheon to take care of Sardok, and Terina Calin on turn 3 to deal with the Phylactery. Her turn 4 Ymirheim Chosen Warrior was thwarted by an Elekk, Resource and swing with the weapon.

The cycle of Ymirheim Chosen Warriors and me having to find inventive ways to kill them continued for a while until I'd killed about six of them. By this point Amy decided I'd spoiled her fun and just hardcast King Varian instead, for -3/-3 to my board (Hero/Ally/Quest).

I completed The Overseer's Shadow before he hit the board to make the most of my Totem, and drew the remaining bits of the combo I needed. Lucky for me, Great Elekk has four health, so I made the decision to combo out while I still could - burning for 24, to cries of "how much?!" from Amy. I took a full 9 to the face from King Varian the following turn but another Spark or a String of Beaded Bubbles sealed the deal the following turn. [2-0]

Round 3: vs Morgan, playing Hunter Aggro/Control
It's really good

Having lent Morgan a load of Snipes and Bombards for this deck, I knew roughly what it did and what to look out for!

He tapped out for the first few turns, playing Nature dudes and an Aspect of the Wild, piling on the damage; I drop a Truncheon and a Kite while he is tapped out before on my fifth turn he leaves two open.

I have a full hand of cards and basically need to try and offer up something that's good enough for the Snipe he's [probably] holding, so that I can play the Voice of Reason uncontested, as I'm without Wind Shear. He bites on a Signet of Manifested Pain, a couple of turns later I land a Leggings of the Tireless Sentry and left unchecked it wrecks Morgan's guys for long enough to let me Spark out for more than enough. [3-0]

R4: vs Julian, playing Stuart Wright Gyro

"Oh, you've won this" Julian tells me as he mulligans in to a bunch of shit. He follows that up for a few turns by rowing and passing before he runs into a streak of discard, stripping all the good stuff out of my hand before dropping Dimzer to start refilling his.

Turns out I have a bit of trouble with Dimzer when I'm without Elekk. Luckily I make a Kite stick and am able to keep my hand topped up enough to drop a Voice of Reason at exactly the right moment - Julian follows that up with a double-Dimzer and Adam attack which takes me to 27. I ready, heal 10, and eventually Spark him to death after he turns into Kel'thuzad and interrupts the first Spark with a Shuriken of Negation.

With Julian's board exhausted, I quested, dropped a Wavestorm Totem to bait out the Shuriken again, and it did the trick - a lose-lose situation. Interrupt the totem and die; don't interrupt it and die in the very near future.

This made up for double Steal Steel-gate earlier! I win a Bunny Egg Mat! It is BEST.