First Duels with Gatecrash
The hardest part of writing about Magic is when you actually enjoy it.
I think that goes for writing about just about anything. I mean I could tell you in acute details a terrible experience at a restaurant when nine times out of ten I enjoyed my cheese burger, but this one time they put mayonnaise on it and I tilted so hard that I didn’t even want to finish it. I mean how hard is it to not put something on a sandwich?
I realize people make mistakes and that is the human element that is so often the focus of Werner Herzog’s films. (If you haven’t already check out “Into the Abyss”.) That being said I’m here today to talk about “Gatecrash”, the latest set in the widely successful Return To Ravnica block. The gimmick this time around is there are two “large” sets that each feature five of the ten two-color guilds from Ravnica. Personally, more of my favorite guilds are in Gatecrash than they were in Return to Ravnica so I’ve been anticipating this set’s release since the announcement.
I’m going to get through the negatives right off the bat. First, the set is at a slightly lower power level than Return to Ravnica. What that means is the mechanics and cards are not as easily slottable into existing archetypes in Legacy or Modern (the two formats with the largest card pool.) There was so much value in just cracking packs of Return to Ravnica. In fact, if you opened any random five packs of Ravnica you were bound to open a card that was worth the price of the pack or more. Obviously, not all sets are created equal and the value of Gatecrash is going to be more in the long term, casual style players who like combat.
Speaking of combat, the focus on many of the guilds in Gatecrash is dealing with creature combat. Boros, the red-white police military guild of Ravnica, focuses on a mechanic that is very fun to play called Battalion. This gives all your creatures a bigger effect if they attack in a squadron style of three or more. Judging from the buzz from this weekend’s prerelease this is the archetype that I would try to force in Sealed or Draft. But each of the guilds in Gatecrash have very powerful combat mechanics that will have you sending most of your creatures to the red zone frequently.
Wizards was kind enough to send us a sample of Gatecrash and I got my first duels in with the new set. Wizards sent us a Boros intro deck that features the Battalion. We played a few games with that against some of the other intro packs from Return to Ravnica and I have to say that I feel Battalion is one of the funnest mechanics that I’ve played with in a long time. When the original Ravnica was legal in Standard the first time around, I was just starting out on Magic Online and I was in a lull in the paper world because of college and life. On a limb, I decided to drop by the local card shop for Friday Night Magic that week and battle some Magic. Since I didn’t have a lot of cards from Ravnica or really any Standard deck of any kind of value. I made one on the spot. I bought two of the original Boros theme decks and kind of played up to the synergies and entered the tournament. I didn’t really expect to do that well as I was a little rusty and everyone else had much better decks than I did. But I actually made it to the finals and lost to my friends. I have loved Boros cards since and it is one of the few times that I actually enjoyed playing a weenie swarm style of deck. One of the moments I remember most from this tournament was when I ripped a bathe in light, that gave all of my creatures protection from my opponent’s entire squad. I alpha attacked for the win. One of the most satisfying experiences I’ve ever had playing a game of Magic and Battalion giving these kinds of bonuses when you attack is sure to set up more.
As for the sealed format for Gatecrash, Wizards ended up getting us 5 packs of Gatecrash so we had to make due with extra Return to Ravnica packs to round out the rest of the packs so we had enough to build decks out of it. I ended up with an even 3 and 3 packs of each set and Samantha ended up with more Return to Ravnica packs than Gatecrash with 4 and 2 respectively. We shred open the packs of cards and start building decks. I immediately saw the synergies that I had with black-white’s Orzohov guild and built a pretty good mid-range B/W aggro control deck. Samantha on the other hand was able to play kind of a three color R/W/B deck that was tough to stop because of battalion triggers on her aggressive creatures.
We played ten games with Samantha winning the majority of them. Going over the pool a few times I feel like there wasn’t a better way for me to build the deck while I was casting expensive smaller creatures, Samantha was curving out to giant creatures that I had a very difficult time with. I couldn’t remove them all and most games ended rather quickly when Samantha ended up at six or seven mana. I had a lot of fun using the “tax” mechanic of Extort. Which allowed me to grind out a win a few times. But overall I feel the synergies with boros and small threats is going to be tough for people to deal with in limited with this set.
I had a great time with Gatecrash and I can’t wait to draft the set on Magic Online when it releases in a few weeks. I would like to personally thank Wizards of the Coast for sending us some new packs of Magic cards and the timing was perfect. Gatecrash crashes in stores this weekend. You can find more information about Gatecrash at www.wizards.com/dailymtg .