Gen Con Recap
In general, I try to avoid playing Magic at Gen Con. Not because I don’t love Magic, but because it’s something that I get to do often, and Gen Con is some kind of crazy nerd Mecca where you can watch cosplay parades and try all kinds of new games out. Where else can I play D&D in a life-size dungeon or listen to Bill Willingham talk about writing comic books?
That said, I always end up going to the Magic area because that’s where my friends are. Once there, my curiosity gets the better of me and I’ll look at the program schedule and end up getting the itch, borrow a deck, and play at least one event.
This year that event was the Standard Champs, which fed into the Gen Con Champs at the end of the weekend. I played the UB list from my previous article with the addition of a miser’s Orbs of Warding, the idea being that we no longer have Radiant Fountain for the Burn matchup. Props to Tahsis Claus for pointing out that bit of tech in last week’s comments.
The field was full of Abzan and constellation decks.
The trick to the constellation matchup is knowing what matters. So long as you don’t waste your countermagic or run Ugin out without getting enough value, you’ll be fine. A good way to play it is to cast some number of Thopter Spy Networks, get them taken away by Banishing Light, allow the opponent to resolve a key spell on top of that (say Sigil of the Empty Throne), and then finally resolve Ugin and sweep the board for maximum value. Now, even if they have a Banishing Light for the Ugin, your Spy Network is still ending the game.
Abzan Aggro is about not dying long enough to stabilize (usually with Ugin). Don’t be afraid to cast removal as a sorcery. Care that Dromoka’s Command can eat Thopter Spy Network in game one, though they tend to board it out for game two.
Abzan Control can legitimately run you out of cards in game one, especially if you’re light on draw spells or if they get a Den Protector loop going. Post-board, Ashiok and Silumgar are better than whatever they’re bringing in, and overall it’s an enjoyable matchup.
The Abzan Megamorph list felt the closest since it had fewer dead cards and more pressure than the pure control list while keeping the deadly Den Protector loop.
I ended up winning the smallish (six rounds + Top 8) event, though I scrubbed out of Gen Con Champs that Sunday (MM2 Sealed). Still, the deck felt sweet, with few mulligans and lots of powerful draws.
Dragonlord’s Prerogative overperformed, and the next time I play this deck I’m going to try another over a Dig Through Time, though it’s possible a Jace’s Ingenuity would fit the draw curve better. While it’s not as efficient as Dig, efficiency isn’t everything, and there were a few times I was happy to tap out for Prerogative as a sorcery in order to hit my land drop and set up for a next turn Ugin.
The fewer Digs, the less the off-color fetch makes sense, and the Flooded Strand should go.
Silumgar might be a maindeck card again since it’s so good against Thopters and Elspeth.
I don’t have as much experience against Burn or UR Thopters as I’d like, but after the results of the PT I’d look to fit in 1-2 Annul and another 0-1 Orbs of Warding. It’s possible that you could even fit an Orbs into the main deck since it’s good against both Thopters and Goblins while shutting off Stoke the Flames, Shrapnel Blast, Ashiok and Ugin uptick, and Thoughtseize all while resisting the Ugin downtick and turning on Thopter Spy Network.
Overall, I was happy that I played Magic at Gen Con, which was refreshing. It’s clear that Pastimes has made efforts to improve the play experience over previous years. After taking into account that we had a lot of rounds go past time, the events went smoothly, and the judge staff was efficient. I saw people playing competitive Magic for the first time and having fun while doing it.
I do think Magic’s marketing team dropped the ball. From a promotional perspective, having a PT on the same weekend as Gen Con was a huge opportunity. There were thousands of gamers there talking about Magic, getting cards signed by the 20+ Magic artists, playing various side events, and visiting the slew of Magic booths, and even a single screen live streaming the Pro Tour would’ve exposed a serious number of hardcore gamers to professional Magic.