I spent the Return to Ravnica Prerelease weekend in bed sick, so this past weekend was much more fun for me. Sadly, I didn't win a lot of matches, but I did learn a reasonable amount about Gatecrash. Given the number of Gatecrash Limited events I have coming up, I'll call that a success. I played in three Sealed Prerelease events and three drafts this weekend. This article will go over my Sealed pools, what I remember of how the events went, and some of what I learned in my drafts. I played Simic in the first Sealed and opened what I thought looked like a moderate to weak pool: 1 Wasteland Viper Of that, I played:
I spent the Return to Ravnica Prerelease weekend in bed sick, so this past weekend was much more fun for me. Sadly, I didn't win a lot of matches, but I did learn a reasonable amount about Gatecrash. Given the number of Gatecrash Limited events I have coming up, I'll call that a success.
I played in three Sealed Prerelease events and three drafts this weekend. This article will go over my Sealed pools, what I remember of how the events went, and some of what I learned in my drafts.
I played Simic in the first Sealed and opened what I thought looked like a moderate to weak pool:
1 Wasteland Viper
Of that, I played:
In the first round, I learned that you always trade with any creature you can when your opponent is playing Boros, even if yours might get better later. You have to do everything you can to stop them from getting battalion, and as long as you can keep that from happening, your creatures should outclass theirs later.
I lost a game in the first round because I didn't attack into my opponent's Daring Skyjek since I didn't want to trade my Shambleshark for it and then lost because I hadn't done that damage. I think there's a good chance I'd have won if I'd attacked that turn whether my opponent blocked or not.
I added Forced Adaptation after a friend told me he'd been having really good experience with it, and it was good for me as well.
The next round I lost because my opponent, who was also playing Simic, had the excellent curve of evolve creatures both games and I didn't. I narrowly won the next round against Boros.
The last round I played against Orzhov, and extort felt like a real problem because I couldn't lock up the board after I managed to get bigger creatures than him. Fortunately, I managed to threaten him enough that he had to Merciless Eviction to stay alive in two of the games, but in both games he got me to one or two life and then finished me off with follow-up extort creatures. I felt like I had a lot of trouble dealing with fliers. I think Crocanura and Cloudfin Raptor are extremely important for Simic because you need to be able to block fliers.
It's possible that I misbuilt my pool entirely and should have played Orzhov with a splash. But one doesn't choose Simic to play Orzhov, and the Orzhov deck had barely enough playables at best.
Overall, I don't feel great about Simic in this set. The good draws are amazing, but if you draw your evolve creatures out of order, really bad things can happen.
For my next Sealed, I played Gruul. Bloodrush looked fun, and their guild letter was awesome. I opened:
My first opponent lost by using Burst of Strength to block with a giant flier that was going to kill me the next turn when I was attacking him down to something like seven life with four mana, letting me kill his guy with Rubblehulk. I don't think there was any other single card that would have let me win that game if he had just taken it.
I don't remember my rounds after that. I know that I went 2-2 and that after losing to Boros rebuilt my deck as Boros. It seemed a lot better that way. Gruul felt all right, but in both events, I felt like the big cards were pushing my curve too high and making my draws awkward or making me lose early games. I think your deck really has to be set up for it to want six- and seven-drops in this format since Boros often wins games on turn 5 and blockers don't stop you from losing if Orzhov (or Boros with extort) already got you low on life. I think most of the seven-mana rares are a lot worse than they look or worse than they'd be in other formats.
I chose Orzhov for my last Sealed and finally managed to win all my rounds.
1 Alms Beast
And built an Esper deck that played out beautifully:
Sepulchral Primordial was the worst card in the deck, and I usually sided it out for Gift of Orzhova or the second Debtor's Prison, which I didn't play main because I didn't want too many expensive spells.
I could have built a much more aggressive deck with the extra white creatures, but this deck seemed better, which I confirmed in playing. I don't think I lost any games, but there might have been one where I just had a non-functional draw.
The card that most exceeded my expectations was Devour Flesh. I'm used to formats with so many tokens that Edicts aren't good, but there aren't many in this format. Cheaply and reliably killing opposing creatures is amazing in this format because Simic relies so heavily on early evolve creatures and Boros needs all their creatures to live to hit battalion. I played against a very good Boros deck and easily won by stranding him with cards that relied on the creatures he didn't have (or just by playing Alms Beast).
In my first draft, I opened Frontline Medic and then got passed Mugging, One Thousand Lashes, and Wojek Halberdiers. I took the Halberdiers, which is almost certainly the wrong pick, but I wanted to try pushing battalion. I often prefer premium creatures over premium removal in dedicated aggro decks more than most players, and I felt like it would be much more of a problem if my Boros deck ended up short on creatures than short on removal.
One Thousand Lashes is probably the correct pick there, and I got punished by passing a lot of great Orzhov cards in packs 1 and 3 and opening Obzedat, Ghost Council in pack 2. In pack 3, I opened Hellkite Tyrant and got passed Gideon, Champion of Justice fourth pick. My deck felt very good, but it could have been much better. My draws in the actual games I played were well below expectation, and I basically just lost to Magi, and the insane Orzhov deck I passed.
I'm pretty sure my deck was good, so it was disappointing, and there wasn't much take away.
In the second draft, I first picked Crocanura over Boros Charm and Ground Assault, which felt wrong, but I didn't want to commit to one guild. I felt like Crocanura might be this set's Blightwidow, which I usually took over removal. I second picked Cloudfin Raptor and third picked Ooze Flux. From there, I was looking for anything with counters I could find. Simic started to dry up a little, and I came up with a plan. I was going to play early Simic evolve creatures into giant Gruul monster five-seven-drops to keep my early Simic creatures evolving. While drafting, everything felt like it was coming together great, and I really liked the look for the deck I ended up with. Then I played some rounds.
That was a huge disappointment.
I don't know if I just got unlucky again, but I couldn't get anything to work. I played one game where I cast Urban Evolution and drew three lands, then lands for my next two draw steps, and died without really doing anything else. I played others where I just couldn't hit five lands, and I never really got to curve my little guys into my big guys. It felt like the deck should work, but it just didn't. This reinforced my fear that Simic is too draw dependent because it really has to play its creatures in the right order, but of course it will take more drafts to verify that and potentially learn how to draft to minimize the issue.
For my last draft, I drafted Dimir, inspired by a deck that crushed me in the previous draft. I first picked Grisly Spectacle, second picked Cloudfin Raptor, and tabled Wight of Precinct Six along with another that I picked up. This was a six-person draft in which I was the only Dimir drafter and no one drafted Simic, so it was pretty weird. I ended up with four Cloudfin Raptors, three of which I got in the back half of the packs.
I ended up with a very low curve and played sixteen lands. I had three Devour Flesh, which were excellent again, and several other removal spells. I had two Paranoid Delusions, two Sage's Row Denizen, and a handful of other cards to mill my opponent, alongside a healthy dose of removal, and Wight of Precinct Six was beyond amazing. It was regularly a 6/6 or so pretty quickly.
Dimir definitely didn't look good to me based on the spoiler and I know it didn't do well in Sealed overall at Prereleases, but I think it might not get quite enough respect. The black removal is a lot better than I thought because you can get it later than usual since it looks a little weak, and you don't really care because you're happy to kill any creature. I think Dimir might end up being my favorite guild to draft until other people pick up on it more.
Thanks for reading,
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