Three colour format… or is it?
After attending two pre-release events this weekend (for a combined result of 8-1-1 if I may add 😊 ), I wanted to share with you a few takeaways I took from the experience. A few cards exceeded my expectations, but I think what I got the most wrong, while reading spoilers is the amount of fixing. Before I played the set, I assumed mana fixing would be quite scarce in this format, thus it would be quite difficult to build good three colour mana bases. We had two cycles of dual/tri lands, one sub-par mana dork in green (Glittermonger) and a bit of treasure generation. As it turns out I understimated how prevelent the land cycles are. I looked i tup after the events and if you trust Frank Karsten (which I think you should when it comes to magic and math), an avarage sealed pool should include about 9 of those lands. Of course not all of them will fit your colours, but considering that one of those cycles is tri-colour, you should be able to include about 6 dual/tri lands in your final deck. This is more than in any set I’ve played previously. Those lands by themsleves should give you about 12 colour sources. For a balanced 3-colour mana base (assuming one of those colours is a splash), you need around 20 colour sources. That in conjunction with the incidental treasure you will get here and there makes building a 3-colour mana base trivial. What it also means though, is the fact, that building a 5-colour mana base with 0 mana dorks is quite doable. That’s what I’ve done in one of my events. My deck could best be described as 5-colour… aggro. Yes, aggro.
That brings me to my second takeaway of the prerelease. Aggro in New Capena sealed means something a bit diffrent than it did in previous sets. The fact, that everybody is playing 4-8 taplands in their decks influences tempo significantly. Most decks are quite durdly, removal is less efficient than we’ve been used to in recent sets and impacted by shield tokens. Murder, which in most sets would be the best common of the set, in New Cappena doesn’t make top3. Two commons that are clear stand-outs are quite aggresive (Inspiring Overseer and Jewel Thief). Red has some decent reach, UW has more than the avrage amount of fliers, RB mechanic of blitz is quite aggrisve in and of itself. All that lends to aggresive decks being good. The problem is, that you’re also playing those taplands. Sealed pools can’t really suport 1 or even 2 colour decks and without taplands 3c mana bases are not workable. Draft will be a whole diffrent animal and I look forward to trying a low to the ground streamlined 2c or mayby even monocolour aggro, but for sealed deck aggro is slower than what it has been in previous sets. That made my 5c aggro deck not a meme I was affraid it would be. One last thing to consider about aggresive strategies is the amount of sweepers this format has – 4. All of them are rares, but with that many, you have to take them into consideration.
For my parting thoughts I’d like to share with you a few cards that overperofrmed for me. First and foremost is Disciplined Duelist. That Brokers powerhouse won me more games than any other card. I though it was a C+ card (going by the Limited Resources grading scale), but after the weekend it’s in consideration for top uncommon. It has unassuming stats of 2/1. Double strike is always good with any kind of augmentation, but what really makes that card great is the shield token. Problem with doublestrikers and augmenting them was the risk of exposing yourself to a 2 for 1 if the oponent has some removal. Shield token takes care of that problem compleatly. There are only 2 instant speed removal spells on common/uncommon that can deal with it ourright (Deal gone bad and Out of the way) and 3 more sorcery speed ones (Whack, Buy Your Silence and Night Cluuber), so the risk of using a pump spell on your double striker is significantly lower than it has ever been. Pump spells admitedly aren’t great in this format… or mayby I should say, they wouldn’t have been great in other formats. Nothing feels better than using a Revelation of Power on your Duelist. Out of nowwhere you deal 8 flying damage to your oponent and gain 8 life. Good luck racing that. Majestic Metamorphosis is also a nice combo with our hero as is Darling of the Masses, which has the added bonus of never exposing you to a 2 for 1.
The card that supprised me the most though is one that makes a combo in and of itself with the duelist and that I originally rated as close to unplayable – Security Bypass. In any other set I would not give that card a second look. An aura that doesn’t affect the board the turn it comes in and exposes me to a 2 for 1 is not something I’d be interested in. Shield tokens change all that. Connecting with a creature like the Duelist or Rhox Pummeler is often game-winning and security bypass guarntees that. On the Duelist it creates a fast clock by itself as making a growing and unblockable double striker is always a good deal. Failing that it can dig you out of mana screw or just provide decent hand selection and pressure, if played on a 2-drop. It’s still not a top common, but it’s something that Im not embaressed to put into my aggresive deck.
I hope that helps you guys understand the format a little better before it premieres in on-line play. Let me know if you agree or disagree with my takes, I’d be happy to discuss them further.