Saturday, January 30, 2010

Worldwake Prerelease Strategy (Red Blue White Black)

Again, this article is for people unfamiliar with Zendikar and haven't been doing much Magic Limited in recent years. I go through each color and evaluate it as I would in Zendikar x6 Sealed. And then add notes on how Worldwake will enhance each color.

I'm still working on a comprehensive set review, so hold on for that.

1. Red is usually the color of aggression, so red decks are commonly aggressive, but since removal is also the bread and butter of control decks, it's not always so
2. Red has a lot of removal spells in Zendikar, which makes it a common Sealed color; Burst Lightning is the best burn spell at common. It is easiest to splash red removal, so if you want, you can splash a few Burst Lightnings or whatever else and give your deck more power. Searing Blaze, the new Worldwake common removal spell, is very strong, but not splashable since it costs RR.
3. It is incredibly (see what I did there) common to pair red with black in Zx6 Sealed. Both colors fit the aggressive strategy very well, while combined have access to the most removal in the set.
4. Plated Geopede is nuts. This is a good example of the power of Landfall. It gives you a lot of value for every land you can play. While every turn you miss, you're stuck with a 1/1. As a result, running as many as 18 lands is not unusual. With Worldwake, this is even more true because of Multikicker.
5. Some cards like it when you play a lot of Mountains. Spire Barrage, for instance, is very strong when you are almost mono-red. In Worldwake, multikicker costs are often colored, so a red multikicker spell will want lots of Mountains. To maximally utilize these spells, you should keep that in mind.
6. I like Tuktuk Scrapper; it looks very playable in a non-Ally deck. There are a lot of artifacts to target.

1. Blue is about evasion, card draw, and controlling the board. However, it's not very strong by itself and always needs a supporting color.
2. A reason to go into blue is having lots of large fliers, which can act as bombs in the deck. Living Tsunami, for instance, is very powerful and helps with Landfall triggers.
3. Blue's removal is very weak and thus kind of fails at really controlling the opposition without a support color with actual removal. It tries to make up for this by having "blockers" like Kraken Hatchling and Gomozoa. Worldwake gives it Calcite Snapper, which is fairly strong at swinging and blocking.
4. Blue gets more powerful pseudo removal in Worldwake. Vapor Snare is a powerful Mind Control effect. Permafrost Trap is like an Instant Sleep, which can actually be used aggressively and defensively. Tideforce Elemental is a tapper that can potentially tap multiple creatures with landfall. Having a lot of these "tricks" will help your blue deck and give you more options.
5. There are no blue fliers at common other than Wind Zendikon, which is slightly unfortunate. But Wind Zendikon is a very nice, cheap flier. Just don't play it early because if they kill it with a Disfigure or something, you'll lose your land drop for the turn. It's just very bad. Don't do it. Welkin Tern is a better, safer way to get a flier out early.
6. Card draw like Treasure Hunt and Mysteries of the Deep is VERY powerful in Limited, so value these. Even Ior Ruin Expedition always made it into Sealed decks, and that is one of the worst draw spells in Limited. I am very happy they gave us better options.
7. Calcite Snapper is going to be the bane of many an opposing deck... a shroud creature at common with reasonable stats. Sure, every color has ways to deal with it, but it's not going to be a cake walk.

1. White has a few things going for it. Small, aggressive creatures called Weenies. Some fliers. Tricks. Card advantage. It's kind of becoming blue 2.0. But like a bizarro version.
2. White often has a very nice curve. It has solid drops at each converted mana cost. It's not AS aggressive as red - and certainly doesn't have quite the number of removal spells. But playing white is a tempo-based game. Cards like Kor Hookmaster can slow your opponent down while you get to swing in. It's a fun strategy.
3. I like white because white gives you value - or at least, has the potential to do so. For instance, if you play Journey to Nowhere, put the trigger on the stack, bounce it with Narrow Escape, you can exile a creature forever AND get Journey to Nowhere back in your hand. To use on something else!
4. Kor Skyfisher is a great card - it lets you bounce back lands to activate landfall again. Or you can bounce anything else that you want! Goblin Bushwhacker for tons more damage, Kor Hookmaster to lockdown another creature, etc etc. The synergies continue.
5. White has no problem getting in early damage, usually. The issue is more late game -- they need to get in the last points of damage, but since all their guys are small, they get quickly outclassed. That's why you have spells like Windborne Charge to give your dudes a kick in the pants. It's like a mini-Overrun.
6. White gets even more fliers with Worldwake, though, so this really helps push in the damage. Fledgling Griffin and Apex Hawks should see lots of play.
7. Also Ruin Ghost -- this card will probably be nuts. Look out for just about any combo or synergy with this card! It can do crazy, nutty things with your lands. Triggers landfall at instant speed! This will be very important with some of the cards in Worldwake.
8. Perimeter Captain is the other card. White is also all about gaining life, sometimes. It helps when racing for damage. This little blocker is like a Kraken Hatchling on crack. Crackin' Hatchling? It'll be very annoying for your opponent, as it keeps gaining life throughout the game, as you block. Combine with Guardian Zendikon for shenanigans.

1. No doubt black gets awesome with Worldwake as well. Black has a tribe called Vampires; it's pseudo-aggressive, pseudo-removal heavy. This makes it pretty good for Sealed. Since it packs a lot of removal into neat packages. (Gatekeeper of Malakir)
2. It also has some of the most powerful removal in Disfigure, Hideous End, Marsh Casualties, and Heartstabber Mosquito. Creatures that can kill other creatures by getting played are called Nekrataals. These kind of creatures can give you lots of value, especially if you recur them with Soul Stair Expedition or other graveyard retrieval.
3. Oh, I shouldn't forget to mention. But Vampire Nighthawk is the BEST card in Zendikar draft and probably about as powerful in Sealed. Keep your eye out for this uncommon.
4. Black gets even more crazy removal in Worldwake. Dead Reckoning, as I mentioned, goes great with Nekrataals. Smother and Urge to Feed are also very powerful. Urge to Feed is fine even if you don't have vampires.
5. The slight caveat with black cards is that many of them require lots of Swamps (or lots of Vampires like Feast of Blood) to be effective. Crypt Ripper, Mind Sludge, etc. So when you build, you have to be careful with your decisions. What cards will be most effective in your deck with the amount of Swamps you're willing to run? Do you run more Swamps to compensate? Do you play some crappy, borderline black cards to make your other cards stronger? Things like this will come up.
6. Black has so much removal in Worldwake, more than I mentioned. So I kind of think at the Prerelease, Everyone and Their Mother will run black... Seriously just... just look at how much removal they have. It's sickening. Don't be surprised if you face a deck where every other card is just removal. "I kill your creature." "Ok, I kill your next creature." Etc etc. A lot of the removal is uncommon, but still, you can open that kind of pool.
7. As a result, I think Marsh Threader will see a lot of maindeck play. Swampwalk is more akin to unblockable in Worldwake!