Adrenaline started pumping as I walked through the door to the shop, seeing it filled with only a few people.  The owner of the store playing a match of magic at a table close by, he greeted my friend and myself.  I remarked that there weren’t as many people as last time, to which he replied “just wait, there will be more” and with that I looked up at the Harley Quinn clock to note there was still half an hour until the Born of the Gods pre-release was to begin.  Maybe he was right, maybe the field would grow.  It was always more enjoyable with more people.

The half hour passed with introductions of my friend to the locals of the shop that had already shown up, digging through the commons boxes for a chance that I would find those Slippery Bogle’s I need for my legacy deck, and deciding which sleeves I was going to buy for the event.  It is a tradition I started a while ago and keep to this day.  New cards, new sleeves.  My friend was going to do the same thing and of all the choices that were there he wanted the yellow shields.  Leaving me with Black, White, and Purple.  Black seems so plain and I have had them before, and White is so bland, so Purple it was.  I’m not a huge fan of Purple as a colour, but maybe tonight it would help me out. (ed. note – you had the lucky 3KL Purple !!!)

The store filled up faster than I had anticipated and before I knew it we were packed and starting to roll dice for our picking order.  Two d10 were set on the main table and we all took turns rolling.  I rolled a 54, which didn’t mean much more than I would be choosing from the middle of the pack of people.  My friend however rolled 99 which meant that unless someone rolled ‘aces’ he was going to get first pick of the box of 5, then the next person down got to pick until the box was empty at which point we opened a new box and continued the process.  It was fair and made sure that people didn’t just hoard all of the colours perceived to be more powerful than the others, such as Blue which is what my friend picked when the order was sorted out.

Arbiter of the Ideal

I lucked out when my number was called and we were fresh into a new box, only blue having been called and so I went with my second choice.  White.  The pre-release creature seemed rather powerful compared to all of the others, and it had the best common removal for the format that I could see with Revoke Existence, and there were going to be a lot of enchantments running around.

The rest of the packs are given out and we are told that we can open them and start building.  Excitedly I open up my “Destined to Lead” box and pull out the Quest card and look it over.  Target my pre-release creature or return an enchantment creature from the graveyard to the battlefield, sounded like an easy enough quest.  Then I picked up my seeded pack and proceeded to tear the plastic off.  It was filled with white, and a few blue cards and a red card.  But none of that mattered as I looked to the rare.  Hero of Iroas!  I couldn’t be more excited, and a little disappointed too, but only because I already had 4 on pre-order with 3KL.  Oh well, a fifth one won’t hurt me and it is a fantastic card to have in your sealed pool right?  Not to mention there was a Ghostblade Eidolon in the pack.  I opened up the next pack and feel a bit of joy and disappointment again.  Ephara, God of the Polis.  The second worst god in my opinion.  But it was a god, so who was I to complain really.  I didn’t hurt that there was an Archetype of Courage in the pack either, which is in my opinion the best of the Archetype cycle.  The last Born of the Gods pack gave a Temple of Enlightenment and an Ephara’s Enlightenment.  I think the Gods were trying to tell me something.

Ephara, God of the Polis

I quickly set all of those cards aside and ripped through the Theros packs to find anything that could compliment what was already starting to form into a very aggressive Blue/White Heroic deck, and I couldn’t have laughed any more when I pulled a Fabled Hero.  Number 5 for my collection like the Hero of Iroas, but hell, I didn’t care at that point.  Everything was falling into place and I couldn’t have been more giddy.  I worked through my card pool and thinned it down to twenty-three playables and this is what I came up with:

1x Ephara, God of the Polis – Cast a creature spell on your turn, draw a card on theirs
1x Fabled Hero – Double Strike – Heroic +1/+1
1x Hero of Iroas – Aura’s cost 1 less, Heroic +1/+1
1x Temple of Enlightenment – Blue/White Scry land
1x Silent Sentinel – Attack and return an enchantment to the battlefield
1x Archetype of Courage – Creatures you control get First Strike, opponents don’t
1x Ephara’s Enlightenment – Creature gains flying and gets a +1/+1 counter
1x Ghostblade Eidolon – Doublestrike, Bestow
1x Phalanx Leader – Heroic +1/+1 counters on all creatures you control
1x Akroan Skyguard – Flying, Heroic +1/+1
1x Battlewise Valor – Creature gets +2/+2 until EoT, Scry 1
1x Crypsis – Creature gets Protection from Creatures until EoT, untap it
1x Ephara’s Radiance – Creature gets 1W{T}: Gain 3 life
1x Griptide – Target creature goes back ontop of it’s owners library
1x Hopeful Eidolon – Lifelink, Bestow
1x Loyal Pegasus – Flying, can’t attack or block alone
1x Mortal’s Ardor – Creature get’s +1/+1 and Lifelink until EoT
2x Nyxborn Shieldmate – Bestow
1x Observant Alseid – Vigilance, Bestow
1x Omen Speaker – Scry 2
2x Revoke Existence – Exile target Artifact or Enchantment
1x Stratus Walk – Creature gains flying, can only block flying, draw a card

Overall, I was quite happy with this Heroic deck.  It had just enough creatures, of which five could be used to trigger heroic, and I only had to splash a moderate amount of blue.  I don’t think I could have built it any better or lucked out in the pool I received.  I was happy as anything and eagerly awaited my first match.

The store hushed as names were called out.  I listen carefully and then groan slightly as I hear my name paired up with Brian.  He is one of the locals in the store and is generally a really good player.  Looks like my road to victory wasn’t going to start easy.  Oh well, that just means it will be all the sweeter.  We roll off and I keep while playing first.  I get off a quick start with a Hero of Iroas and just start pumping him with bestowed creatures.  I realized quickly how powerful the Nyxborn Eidolon was as a cheap heroic trigger, and I start beating my opponents face in.  I think it was turn five or six when I beat him.  He sides into a few cards and we start match two.  The play starts off fast out of the gate for me again and I build outwards with a Phalanx Leader, an Archetype of Courage, and an Omen speaker each with a few counters and swing in to drop him to 3 life.  Next turn was death, my death.  I got tunnel vision and didn’t realize that swinging would leave me open to lethal.  I then realized that this wasn’t going to be as easy I thought and that I had to play smarter.  Third match couldn’t have started worse for me.  Turn 3 I met up with a Nullify on my Fabled Hero.  From there it was an uphill battle, but I managed to get another pumped up Hero of Iroas and Ephara out.  This was where my opinion on Ephara turned around, as I was able to keep a steady draw of cards going and my field built up enough that the stand off we found ourselves in could quickly swing my way.  At least it was that way until a Sudden Storm tapped them down during my declare attackers step and my opponent swung with two Arbiter of the Ideal’s in back to back turns to build out and finish me off.  But I did manage to get my quest done when in the last match I got the Sentinel into play and returned a Stratus Walk to play on the Hero of Iroas.

Hero of Iroas

Not a great start to the night.  I couldn’t believe that I had let him win that second match, and my confidence was almost shattered right there.  But I vowed that I was going to go into the next matches with my wits about me and the fog of drowsiness behind me.  I grabbed a Monster Energy drink and pounded it back.  This wasn’t going to happen again.

My next opponent , Cody, created an Orzhov deck with his pool.  My first hand after he shuffled was filled with all five of the islands in my deck, and two white cards.  I wasn’t keeping this, and then went down to five when my next hand showed no land.  This wasn’t starting out too well.  My third hand wasn’t too good, as it only had one land, but it had a Pegasus and a Hero of Iroas so I kept it.  My opponent started out with a quick Gorgon’s Head to match my Pegasus.  My next turns I lucked out catching a break with drawing into mana and being able to play out my Hero of Iroas while my opponent merely played lands and passed.  I swung in for some damage over the next few turns, putting the pressure on him until his fifth turn he dropped a Sentry of the Underworld.  My Pegasus assault was stopped and I could only attack with the Hero, slowing his demise.  Next turn he equipped the Gorgon’s Head and left mana open to Regenerate him.  Thankfully I drew into a Ghostblade Eidolon and with the help of Hero of Iroas aura reducing powers manage to Bestow it on him, to swing in for what would be lethal unless he blocked with the Sentry, which of course he did and he paid the three life to regenerate it, not realizing that because of double strike the Sentry was going to die anyway.  The next turn I found a Fabled Hero and that was game as he couldn’t draw into anything to stop it.

The second game went very much like the first except I managed to not have to mulligan down to five, and only mulliganed down to six this time.  So first turn he dropped the Gorgon’s Head, I dropped my Pegasus.  He played out lands while I played a Fabled Hero and an Archetype of Courage and a Stratus Walk.  Eventually he played out the Sentry again and equipped the Gorgon’s Head to it, but it was already too late as I was able to push damage through with an Akroan Skyguard after the Sentry had been dealt with.  It was a quick victory, and made me feel more confident about the deck and my choices.

Akroan Skyguard

Cameron was my third opponent who was also sitting with a 1-1 record.  He had built a Rakdos deck and started off our match complaining about how he had been getting hosed on mana almost every match.  Apparently he would get enough mana to cast what he had in hand, except that it was always of the off colour.  Inwardly I grinned because I knew that my deck was more streamlined than his, and shouldn’t have as many problems with mana even though I’d had to aggressively mulligan in previous matches.

Reflecting back on it, I only had five cards that were off colour, and 6 sources of blue mana, not to mention that I only had three cards over four converted mana cost.  It was a really well built deck, and I just knew that I could take on his deck if he was complaining about mana issues.

The first match went similar to how I battled Cody with the Hero of Iroas coming down on turn two with the next turn being followed by a Ephara’s Radiance to swing in for three damage, keeping two mana up for when he attacked, so I could Crypsis and kill his Nyxborn Eidolon.  Then swinging back the next turn after dropping an  Observant Alseid and eating his life total away.  He missed on a critical land drop and scooped game one.  The second match saw him sitting on two mana while I dropped Fabled Hero on turn three into a Stratus Walk on turn four, and my opponent struggling to keep up.  The match finished quickly after that when he couldn’t find a way to eliminate the aerial threat and I rejoiced and breaking above the fifty percent margin with one more match to go.

Fabled Hero

Between matches myself and a few of the guys in our grouping began to figure out how things were going to play out.  See, Brian had played and lost against the currently undefeated Barry and was the only other player to have a 2-1 record, which meant that unless the computer screwed something up I was facing probably one of the best players at the shop.  And I was right.  What made this more amusing was that we had been sitting next to each other when we were opening our packs and building our decks.  He knew I had pulled the two Heros and Ephara, and I knew that he was on RUG with the 6/6 Tribute pre-release guy.  It was going to be an interesting match to say the least.

So we sat down and rolled the dice.  I lost by one  Which in that building usually is a sign of good luck as I tend to win matches when that happens.  He played out an Island and for the first time that day got to play out my Temple of Enlightenment first turn and Scry’d away a land that would have put me over the curve of four that I already had in my hand.  He played a second land and passed while I played down an Akroan Skyguard.  He dropped a third land with no play, which is where the game started looking really bleak for him because I dropped a Pegasus, and Ephara’s Radiance to start the beat down from the sky.  He played down a fourth land and dropped down a Bow of Nylea.  This could have been bad, very bad.  I swing in for what damage I could get off before dropping an Archetype of Courage as a little bit of ground insurance.  His next turn he played down another creature, but failed to leave mana open for the bow activation to take down the flyer.  Which he paid for next turn as I played a Revoke Existence and removed it as a factor and swung again.  In his last ditch effort to slow his death he played the Nessian Wilds Ravager hoping he could get a creature taken care of, because lets face it, nobody wants to stare down a 12/12 with cards like Aqueous Form in the format.  But I was holding a Griptide in hand and allowed him to have the extra six +1/+1 counters only to return it to the top of his library next turn and swing in for lethal.


This was when he remarked at just how fast the deck was, and conceded that his probably wouldn’t be able to keep up, but wanted to try anyways for obvious reason.  I mean we were playing for packs.  The way we figured it we were playing for first and second.  There was honor at stake.  Well, there wasn’t actually, but why not see if my deck had what it took to take him down, right?

So the next match gets underway he drops a Satyr Hedonist into a second land, and I drop down a second turn Hero of Iroas, which I have to say really is the best card I played all day.  His third turn saw. Third turn he played a third land and passed, where I played a Stratus Walk and an Bestowed Nyxborn Shieldmate and swung for five in the air. His fourth turn saw the Bow of Nylea come out again.  I came back and swung for another five in the air and played down more land, with Ephara coming down to the board.  This was where his hopes came alive thinking that he could have the game swing in his favour and I had to applaud him for the neat little trick, because the Bow couldn’t deal enough damage to destroy the Hero.  He attacked in with the Hedonist making it an attacking creature and triggering off the Bow, and then cast a Fall of the Hammer to have the satyr deal damage to the Hero and kill it before combat resolved.  It was a cute trick and worked to get rid of the biggest threat he had seen.  The next turn I played a Revoke Existence on the Bow to ensure it didn’t happen again and put a Fabled Hero out in place of the Hero of Iroas. The next few turns saw nothing of consequence from him until he played down an Akroan Conscriptor, which had me worried because by that time I had built up a 10/10 Lifelink Double Strike Fabled Hero.  Mind you I was at fifty life by that point, so I was comfortable.  But I didn’t like the idea of him stealing it from me and keeping himself alive.  Fortunately that didn’t last too long as I played down a Sentinel and he scooped having no way to deal with it.

Revoke Existence

I finally breathed as the match came to a close and went to report to the organizer the results of the match.  He seemed almost surprised that I managed to take Barry down in two matches, but then again so was I.  All that remained was waiting to see how we seeded in the rankings and get our prizes.  I was pretty confident that I was going to go home with a bunch of packs.  I mean I only had two losses in games and finished with an overall 7-2 record having won six straight games and I beat the only undefeated third round player.  Then the organizer came out and handed the first stack of packs to Brian.  My first opponent.  He then handed the next pile to Barry, and I got the shortest pile having come in third.  Apparently we all had the same record and it came down to percentages and Cody and Cameron didn’t help my odds any.

I was a little upset, I will admit.  But I still managed a respectable third, and have every confidence that if I had to play more rounds or was in a GP or grander event that I could have continued to stomp face.  Though there was a certain irony of this pre-release that occurred to me as I opened my prize packs.  The last pre-release I participated in, Theros, saw me lucking out and getting the colour I wanted, Black.  It saw me playing four of my six rares, and I ended up third place with first place being the only guy that beat me that night.  What are the chances?

I hope you enjoyed the story and may the gods of the mulligan ever be in your favour.

~ Gerald Knight