Return to Ravnica

Last night I got together with some people at work to play some Magic. What made this a little different is that I had never met any of these folks before. There’s been a mailing list for Magic around for a while, but it’s been long-dormant. A few newer folks joined it and organized a few games, and last night I went to join in.

Originally we were planning to do a booster draft, but one guy had not done a draft before, and another expressed a preference for sealed deck, so we decided to do sealed instead. We played Return to Ravnica, which I had already done one sealed deck game with my friend Subrata, and it was an underwhelming experience, mainly because our pool of cards was pretty lame. So I hoped that this would be a better one.

While we were opening our packs, I joked that I was opening rares that were useless in limited (like Grave Betrayal and Guild Feud, both of which I opened). Then I joked that it was time to choose the wrong colors for my deck.

I wasn’t too impressed with my deck when I built it, but it turned out to be an absolute powerhouse, winning all six games I played. Heck, arguably it was more my deck that won than me.

Here’s the 40-card deck I played:

# Cost P/T Card
1 2/1 Dryad Militant
2   Swift Justice
2 0/1 Centaur’s Herald
1   Giant Growth
1 2/2 Keening Apparition
1 2/2 Drudge Beetle
2   Sundering Growth
1 2/2 Precinct Captain
1 2/2 Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage
1   Avenging Arrow
1 3/2 Selesnya Sentry
1   Aerial Predation
1 2/3 Sunspire Griffin
1 2/2 Azorius Justicar
1 5/5 Deadbridge Goliath
1 3/3 Skymark Roc
1   Trostani’s Judgment
1 8/8 Risen Sanctuary
1 5/7 Angel of Serenity
1     Azorius Guildgate
1     Hallowed Fountain
1     Selesnya Guildgate
1     Transguild Promenade
7     Plains
6     Forest
1     Island

This might not be the very best deck I could have built – neither Aerial Predation nor Sundering Growth are great cards – but it still worked very well. Even those two cards served their role, killing a flyer and getting rid of a few pesky enchantments. I did not get much use out of either the Populate or the Scavenge mechanics on my cards (I think I Populated once in six games, and never Scavenged), but the Azorius Justicar’s Detain ability was handy multiple times.

This is an aggro deck with a wonderful curve: I’m usually laying down serious beatdown by turn 4, and I often have options to kill my opponent’s creatures, keep him from killing mine, or just to play my creatures in the right order so I end up with my best stuff on the table by the time he runs out of removal. Precinct Captain is a beast which runs away with the game if left unchecked, and Deadbridge Goliath is just ridiculous in limited. Inevitably I just overran my opponents with my sheer number of creatures.

I splashed blue for Skymark Roc only because I had filled 21 of my card slots and was hard-pressed for the last card. I decided the Roc was just so much better than my marginal white and green cards that I would try to shoehorn it in. It only showed up once, but it was the all-star of that game.

The only change I made to my deck was I removed a Plains and added a Forest after my first game; getting my small green creatures out on turns 1 and 2 was critical, so I think that helped.

I’ve been running 18 land in my 40-card limited decks since I read an article a few years ago about why this is a good idea. I wish I could find the article, but the basic argument is that you lose more games by being mana-short than by being mana-flooded. Ironically, for aggro decks like this one where the majority of the cards are cheap (16 of my 22 spells cost 3 mana or less), hitting your land drops can be even more important since you want to make sure you put the pressure on early and don’t miss an opportunity. But 18 land also gave me the flexibility to play 2 spells costing 7 (and the Angel of Serenity won a game for me singlehandedly; I drew the Risen Sanctuary once when I could have cast it, but it was superfluous by that point).

Anyway, the guys I was playing with were a lot of fun too. It’s been a while since I’ve met a bunch of new people at work, so this was a neat change of pace. And it reminded me how much I enjoy playing limited Magic, especially when everything comes together.