Memoirs of an Amateur Planeswalker #1: Avacyn Restored Pre-Release

(This highly irregular series will address my highly irrational obsession with pretty little collectible cards and the oft-confusing, oft-frustrating games I play with them.) 

This weekend, I took a quick trip out to my nearest comic shop to take in their pre-release Sealed tournament for Avacyn Restored (AVR), the upcoming expansion for tabletop card game Magic: The Gathering. At a Sealed event, players receive six booster packs of a given expansion and must design and play a constructed deck built solely from those cards.

Innistrad (ISD) and Dark Ascension (DKA) favoured the Spirits, Vampires and Zombies of the world. AVR turns the tables, finally giving the stubborn surviving Humans the champions they so desperately need at the cost of all else. Played on its own AVR proves problematic, however, as a sore lack of efficient removal spells boils most games down to a race for the first legendary beating-stick. The dominance of large critters has always been a sticking point for limited formats such as Draft and Sealed since their inception, and I’m fine with that.

Fortunately, I found one such beating-stick in my sealed booster packs for this event – Bruna, Light of Alabaster. Even without her combat-triggered ability she’s an ideal pick for a Sealed deck: easily played by the seventh turn, able to shrug off most defenders, and her vigilance ability ensures your opponent will think twice about attacking. I wanted to play a suicidal rushing build involving some of the great black common cards I’d opened, but quickly reminded myself that playing three colours in the same deck almost never works out for me.

With Bruna as my anchor, I set out a blue/white tempo-controlling strategy. A pair of Spectral Prisons, two Mist Ravens and a Peel from Reality could quite handily slow the opponent’s initial development. A pair of Devout Chaplains would take care of any Equipment or Auras in the early-going, and could provide excellent synergy with my Captain of the Mists for locking down whatever I couldn’t imprison or bounce off the battlefield. Scrapskin Drake, Emancipation Angel and Angel’s Tomb gave much-needed air support and early-game aggression, with Bruna and/or Goldnight Redeemer swooping in for the win late-game. I almost cut Deadeye Navigator, but that was before I realized how well it pairs with my Ravens. Too bad I lost my first round because I didn’t have time to test my initial build of 46 cards. I was down about it at the time, but at my friend’s suggestion I trimmed the fat between rounds to an optimal 40…

Bruna and Friends, AVR Sealed Deck

Creatures: 1 Bruna, Light of Alabaster, 2 Devout Chaplain, 2 Mist Raven, 1 Seraph of Dawn, 1 Captain of the Mists, 1 Tandem Lookout, 1 Scrapskin Drake, 1 Emancipation Angel, 1 Thraben Valiant, 1 Deadeye Navigator, 1 Goldnight Redeemer, 1 Goldnight Commander

Spells: 2 Spectral Prison, 1 Peel from Reality, 1 Stolen Goods, 1 Ghostform, 1 Ghostly Flicker, 1 Commander’s Authority, 1 Zealous Strike

Artifacts: 1 Angel’s Tomb

Lands: 9 Plains, 7 Island, 1 Seraph Sanctuary

…and proceeded to clean house from the second round onward. I went 4-1, ranking fourth in a field of 32+. Stolen Goods in particular was a game-breaker, usually stealing “that-one-card-he-or-she-needed-that-turn” while exiling land cards in the process. Deadeye’s soulbond ability was thoroughly abused in virtually every game, every round.

For my efforts and half-decent luck I scored four more AVR boosters and assorted Magic merch. Not quite as awesome as the T-shirt I won at the INS event back in October, but fantastic nonetheless for not having played competitively in months! As I emphatically exclaimed on Twitter, “I’LL F-ING TAKE IT”.

I hope to get back out to the shop for the next Sealed event, which probably won’t be until this summer’s 2013 Core Set pre-release.

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