Well, we all know what has been happening in the world over recent years and its impact on our ability to play in person, paper Magic as Richard Garfield PHD. intended.
But, as we begin to slowly move on and settle into our new normal, the return of in store, in person play has tagged along, like a neglected, starved hound begging for our attention.
This week, amid work and home commitments, a couple of the Beans found a free Tuesday evening to venture to our LGS to take part in the Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty pre-release.
Given the global pandemic, my most recent pre-release experience was Pollywaffle buying a box of Ikoria pre-release packs and 8 of us gathering, masked, playing a small event at his home. I still have mild PTSD from Stu casting Genesis Ultimatum on curve in two games.
But, now we are all boosted and scanning QR codes is second nature, we headed down to Games Portal in Ringwood and eagerly opened our packs. It was a strange feeling, opening packs and sorting into colours, identifying playables and synergies. Arena, for all its flaws around deckbuilding, does streamline this process. But, there is nothing quite like the process of finding your 40 card deck out of your sealed pool.
My pool was solid, if unexciting with Biting Palm Ninja as my promo and a couple of other Ninjas I immediately went to work trying to make a UB based deck to use these, however it came up short and unexciting.
In fact, my pool lacked depth in any particular colours. This was a real challenge when it came to deck building and I soon realised that three colours was something I needed to do. That and lacking any significant bombs as well as only having removal in black, which was my shallowest colour made me look for as many synergies as I could find.
Enchantments was the obvious one. I had Satsuki, the Living Lore and some decent Sagas in Bant but I also had three shrines and a Shrine Steward so leaning into these seemed like the play.
Fast forward fifteen minutes to fill out the rest of the deck with my best playables and trying to create a functional four colour mana base and I ended up with this.
I was confident the deck could function but not overly excited.
The other Beans had mythic dragons and Planeswalkers in their pools so I was a bit jealous, to be honest.
Round 1: vs UB Ninjas
My opponent was a super nice guy and we chatted away during our games. He was a great player who understood the game really well. He had a great flex of playing the fancy new basics he had collected from previous events over the weekend too.
He won the roll and started on a Silver-Fur Master backed up by removal and Biting Palm Ninja to take my saga. I was behind from that point and he refilled with Thirst For Knowledge and I was done.
Game 2 I managed to stabilise the board with a Blue Shrine to stop his attacks and him being constrained on blue mana. I eventually got the upper hand with Invoke the Ancients and rebought a couple of sagas with Shigeki, Jukai Visionary‘s Channel ability. This got me over the top and we were off the game 3.
This started out well with me Ninja-ing in Prosperous Thief off Spirited Companion for some sweet, sweet value. He played some good ninjas and removal and the game ground along until I flipped Boseiju Reaches Skyward as a 7/7 and Invoke the Ancients. Lion Sash started to do work and my bigger bodies eventually got the job done.
Game 3 I came out of the gates with Lion Sash making my guys huge and I dropped multiple sagas and once the blue shrine started feeding the Sash he scooped them up.
Round 2 vs Jund
Again losing the roll my opponent started with some early beats and obviously had some pump spells. I decided to get them out of the way early as I had an Invoke the Ancients in hand, this led to some card advantage for me as they had to use two spells to remove one of my 4/5’s
Bounce Ninja and Bounce Saga kept me ahead while I assembled the the green and red shrines that closed out the game.
Game 2 was very close, with the Boar pumping through damage and being rebought with Gloomshrieker who menaced through more damage.
My sagas slowly started to take over the game and I dealt with the Gloomshrieker by double blocking, he then channelled the Boar again to pump it, but I fired off my Repel the Vile to blow him out. But I was on one life at this stage.
Satsuki put my sagas in turbo mode and I was able to stabilise.
I drew the bounce saga and flipped Tales of Master Seshiro to discover the 5/5 had haste and had just enough for lethal. That was one of the closest 2-0 wins I have ever had!
Round 3 vs GBW (Cracker)
The final was a Beans off!
We chatted during deck construction and I knew his deck was really solid. He also had the white dragon, which was scary.
I won the roll and we both started developing our boards. I bounced his green shrine twice with my ninja and saga while growing my own. The board stalled out very quickly and I eventually found the Red Shrine to go with the green one and had the Repel the Vile for his dragon. I didn’t want to attack as he had two cards under The Dragon-Kami reborn so wanted to limit his outs.
After a number of turns I was able to Shrine Shock him dead and we were off the game two. It felt good to be the only person to get a game off him, just quietly.
Game 2 he had Biting Palm Ninja and took my mana fixer on his next attack. This left two cards dead in my hand. I tried to stabilise with Blossom Prancer but he had the white March and I was dead. Great choice to take the mana fixer.
Game three I mulled and only had green mana early, but finding Network Terminal fixed my mana and let me cast Invoke the Ancients on turn four. This gummed up the board and gave me time to draw my mana.
Lion Sash combined with the terminal to dig deep into my deck and the board stalled into a huge, messy state.
I again had the removal for his dragon and got huge value from Shigeki, that card was proving to be incredible.
Eventually, two Shrines and reconfiguring Lion Sash onto Moonfolk Puzzlemaker were able to close out the game. Crazy game.
So I was stoked to take down the event and had a very, very fun outing. This set is living up to the hype from a limited perspective, if you have not had a chance to draft or play sealed, I highly recommend it.
Of course, the Magic Beans Discord is a great place to share ideas and get advice.