Played yesterday at Galleria. With a whole bunch of people: three from the Zu crowd and I think five or six from the office. Insane number of people, as expected. I got there about ten minutes after the mall opened (I came from work), and I was already preregistered, but I only got to sign up for the sixth flight (Flight F). They had to buy extra tables from a nearby Office Warehouse. I finally got to crack open packs around 12:30PM.
Only bomb in my sealed deck pool was an Avatar of Woe, but my black was too weak to support it. I went for a U/W aggro build to take advantage of a Serra Sphinx I opened.
Damnation seems easy to get – 3 of the people I knew who were playing opened it.
I opened 5 rares in 3 Planar Chaos packs, one was a foil Shivan Wumpus.
My first round opponent was apparently a prerelease virgin; after giving a beating with his creatures for most of game one, he played an Oros the Avenger hoping to finish me off. Luckily for me, he was playing the actual prerelease card, which is a no-no. I won the second game, game record: 2-0; match record 1-0.
Second round opponent was red/white again. I've never played against Giant Growth in limited, but one would expect it to be a house. After getting hit by Brute Force twice, I'm inclined to agree, and have now learned to play around combat tricks when the opponent only has a mountain. I won 2-1. Game record: 4-1, match record: 2-0.
Third round opponent… some red also. First game I only saw an Avalanche Rider and the 7/7 echo guy. Second game he put up more of a fight, and the “free echo” goblin helped him a lot. He get out the Goblin Advisor and went all aggro on me before I managed to stablize. Those exploding goblins can't get past a Dream Stalker! Game record: 6-1, match record: 3-0.
Fourth round opponent… well, it seems everybody but me plays red. First game I played out all the tricks my deck had with a Clockwork Hydra. Auramancer's Guile + Hydra meant I could attack without losing +1/+1 counters. He bounces the Hydra, I play it again. He shoots the Hydra, I save it with a lion. He forces my Hydra into a bad block, I blink it out. He tries to Lightning Axe, I flashback the blink. This game was way fun on my end.
Second game goes long, but he later drops a Pyrohemia. Bomb enchantment! And I had no way to remove it. I tried to play around it, but his Paradise Plume eventually gave him enough life that he could just burn me out with the red Pestilence. I quickly gauge my options: ten minutes left in the round, but my deck is more aggro. I still have enough time to win game 3, so I concede and shuffle quickly.
Third game I draw a hand with five lands, a morph guy and the Serra Sphinx. The morph guy doubles as removal (gives +2/-2), so I figure this is good enough, as I don't miss the 3rd-turn creature drop. Bad decision, as I draw into even more lands, and he's more aggro than usual. The game goes long again, and eventually he surprises me with a Teferi I didn't see the first two games. I sigh and realize I'm probably going to lose when he flashes the Sorceress Queen-timeshift at end of my turn. We go to time. And I try to stop him from killing me in three swings. Not enough blockers.
Final game record: 7-3, match record 3-1. I had good enough tie breakers to finish 4th in the pod, and I hoped I could still get a shirt for such a good performance. No such luck though. I take my 3 packs anyway, hoping I get good stuff.
I did. (1 Angel of Fury, 1 Groundbreaker, 1 Timbermare)
My flight finished at around 6PM. By this time I had gone with around 2 hours sleep in the past 14 hours, and the only food I had was two ensaymadas for a late breakfast before the flight started. Yeah, dead tired.
Notes on specific cards:
That 3cc blue common morph guy, the one that gives +2/-2? He's awesome. I'd pick him high.
Saltfield Recluse was a card I initially underrated and did not play main. However, I ended up bringing him in every time I could. That -2/-0 really screws the combat odds in your favor, and saves your guys from the occasional bad block or combat trick.
Speaking of combat tricks: yeah, Brute Force is pretty good.
Whitemane lion is essentially a combat trick with a free bear.
Pongify is fun as expected. I loved it when my opponent attacked with a 7/7 he had just paid echo for, and I shake my head, show him the card and say: “Monkey?”
Overall, the set is awesome for sealed deck play, the block environment looks good. The design of the cards isn't particular innovative since everything is either a throwback or a reprint, but the choice of cards and abilities to bring back… everything is awesome. I'm definitely going to play the release tournament.