As you may remember, about two weeks ago I wrote an article about Dark Ascension, the new expansion for Magic: the Gathering. The new expansion has been released officially since that, and as many players worldwide I entered into a small Launch Party locally.

  I have to note that I haven’t been on any tournament for a long time, mostly because I spent my time on other things (roleplaying and boardgames), and because I’m more a casual player, even if I play Magic. However I was interested in the new edition, so I decided to try it myself. It seems I get a little bit lucky, as I finished on the second place on our small 11 player sealed-deck tournament.

Preparing the deck

  Since I knew that I lost my edge in Magic I didn’t planned to win, but rather try out as many interesting cards and interactions as I can. I received a lots of good-looking cards (including 2 rare and a mythic rare from my first booster), so I had a hard time to decide which colors to play. Black was an easy choice for primary color, not only because I had Bloodline Keeper and a bunch of useful common and UC cards, but it’s also my favorite Magic color.

  Choosing secondary color(s) was trickier. For green I hadsome good creatures and boosters, in white I had some good rares and token generators, and in red some cards to make my vampire theme stronger (Stromkirk Captain, Markov Warlord) and Devil’s Play. At last i ended up with a 45-card deck (as always for my sealed deck tournaments) with BRW colors, as well as a single Forest to Gavony Township. Take a look at the deck-list below.

 Lands (18)
1 Evolving Wilds
1 Forest
1 Gavony Township
4 Mountain
5 Plains
1 Shimmering Grotto
5 Swamp

Creatures (16)
2 Abattoir Ghoul
1 Angelic Overseer
1 Bloodline Keeper
2 Chosen of Markov
1 Doomed Traveler
1 Hinterland Hermit
1 Markov Warlord
1 Rage Thrower
1 Screeching Bat
1 Stromkirk Captain
1 Thraben Heretic
1 Vampire Interloper
1 Vengeful Vampire
1 Village Cannibals

Other spells (11)
1 Burden of Guilt
1 Cobbled Wings
1 Devil’s Play
1 Divine Reckoning
1 Executioner’s Hood
1 Fires of Undeath
1 Lingering Souls
1 Midnight Haunting
1 Spare from Evil
1 Sudden Disappearance
1 Victim of Night

Side (5)
2 Blazing Torch
1 Chosen of Markov
1 Silverchase Fox
1 Sudden Disappearance
1 Urgent Exorcism

I know it wasn’t a perfect deck, and I especially had much less creature removal I would like to. This was a big hindrance in the long run. As you ay recognize I had several themes, but I mostly planned to cause damage with evasive creatures (from spirit tokens to vampires), use my land-dwellers mostly in defense, and finish things of with Devil’s Play or an unblockable attack with Sudden Disappearance or Markov Warlord.

Round 2  (2-0)

Since I didn’t had an opponent on the first round I started the second round with 3 points already. It was an interesting twist of fate, that I faced my own brother, who played a powerful BUW control-deck, with lots of removal and disruption. In the first game he basically removed everything I played (including the Bloodline Keeper), so I lost very fast. In the second game I had my chance to turn the tables : while I was stuck at 4 lands I was able to play some effective creatures and keep some of them alive, despite his many tap/destroy abilities. In the deciding match however my brother didn’t had enough lands, so I was win before he could create a good defense, while I empowered my few creatures with Gavony Township.

Round 3 (3-0)

On the next round I faced another opponent, who played mainly W with some G as secondary color. We had some fierce fighting, as he had many removals, but thankfully I kept drawing creatures in both match. He had Rebuke, Bonds of Faith, but thankfully my deck kept running over with vampires leading the way, and on our second match I draw all of my removals too, including Urgent Exorcism.

Round 4 (3-1)

My opponent had a perfect 3-0 behind him when we started to play, and he played a very fast RG deck. However in the first game I was able to slow him down : I had my Burden of Guilt on his Splinterfright, and I caused much more damage than he could. At last I had 18 life, and I was able to bring him down to 4 with Markov Warlord. I was pretty sure that he won’t be able to kill me in the turn, and won’t be able to block my attack next turn, but it seems I was very tired and made a big fault : I didn’t kept mana open for the Burden. So in the end he attacked me, and Flinged the 7/7 Splinterfright, winning instantly. On the second match he draw a godly fast hand with cheap werewolves and Pyreheart Wolf, as well as several removals, and even my ghouls couldn’t slow the onslaught (because both of them were killed in the instant I summoned them). It was a fairly quick loss.


  I think my deck was running better than I expected, and getting the second place (grabbing a new Sorin in the proccess) was more than I predicted. Most of the games I seen and played was decided by an surprising amount of removals or quick rushes, and there were very few slow matches. In many games you never saw anything above 4/4, and where you did those was the slowest games around, both players building up power slowly.

The Dark Ascension Launch Party was really interesting, and thankfully I cannot remember any “bombs” which would ruin the gaming field with it’s unbalanced power. I hope we will get the same good experience with the next expansion.

Zoltán “Cain” Mészáros