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2009, A Year of Living Cheaply
We're in the interval before the first league round of 2010 and it's time for a short primer in Alara Block constructed, but before I do that this is a chance to look back on a year in the Common Sense clan league.
Round 2.1 Back in January we started the year with a Classic Tribal Wars round. Slivers were limited to 8 per deck, and this foreshadowed a developing dissatisfaction that the minor tribes were unplayable. We agreed to revisit tribal with 'major' tribes banned. Of course nobody knew which the major tribes were...
Number entered14
Prize pool16 tix
Matches played104
WinnerMooncalf
Round 2.2 February found us playing Lorwyn Draft and Shadowmoor Draft. On the PDCmagic site you will find the Draftling tool. This amazing app allows you to run online pauper drafts with random common only boosters. We managed several 4-man pods and people were happy to join in extra drafts so that the stragglers could make a pool too. Next time we should try harder to get 8-man pods so that the picks are more lifelike.
Number entered10
Prize pool15 tix
Matches played51
WinnerMooncalf
Round 2.3 This was the A-Z or Alphabet format round. Every card except basic land had to start with the same letter of the Alphabet. We also dabbled with a bonus point scheme, extra points for the letters J, K, Q, U, V and Z, or for matching your basic lands to the same letter too. Initially mountains got 2 bonus points, but the M deck was so good that was reduced. Wildman capitalised on this when he discovered that the K deck was pretty good on it's own merits, and beroken with bonuses. Despite being the most fun format ever this was a low point of participation in the year, which triggered a series of changes to try to fix that, and a recruitment drive.
Number entered8
Prize pool15 tix
Matches played30
WinnerWildman4420
Round 2.4 Into May, and the clan decided to play Classic, the most inclusive format, and we did attract a few more entrants. If you look closer though you see that players are picking and choosing which rounds to enter based on their favourite formats, and this round attracted the classic specialists like Izzet Guildmage.
Number entered10
Prize pool10 tix
Matches played56
WinnerIzzet Guildmage
Round 2.5 Still hunting for participation we next chose Standard, except that we managed to hit a set release after the first week, and there was some understandable confusion about what sets were legal. We also made the entry fee optional. Despite doubling the players, many of those played very few matches. I put a lot of this down to the time of year, July, when many people are on vacation or just enjoying the sunshine instead.
Number entered19
Prize pool15 tix
Matches played42
WinnerJMason
Round 2.6 After a bit of a break we returned to the 100 Singleton format, and found that the colours now known as Esper (white, black, blue) seem to still be top. Mind you the sample size was very low. Around this time our long term league guy, TimmyHill, found that his business needed more time, so he said his goodbyes and went on Magic hiatus. We owe him thanks for his contribution over 2 years and I hope he will return to the clan in time.
Number entered7
Prize pool10 tix
Matches played22
WinnerIzzet Guildmage
Round 2.7 Well we took another break to think things over. I redid the forum, giving it a much needed reorganisation. AndyMC1 popped up again and did some more recruiting (many thanks to Necrosavant543 for finding many good prospects). I signed up Empty_One as the new league organiser, then we voted in Classic Tribal Wars without major tribes to run from mid-November up to end-December. I dithered and decided to ban nothing, which was the cause of some netdecking, but other good decks with lesser tribes were seen, Andy's Elementals were particularly innovative, as were mono green Cats. And OMG it was a huge success! Thank you, thank you everyone who joined and made it the biggest of the year in every way. As for Classic Tribal Wars without major tribes, that's for another day. We do now know there are 85 viable pauper tribes available, and I urge you to join in the ongoing discussion on how to finally implement this format.
Number entered17
Prize pool35 tix
Lotus Cobra
Iona, Shieldof Emeria
Chandra Ablaze
Matches played89
WinnerMooncalf
Join us in 2010 as we play Alara Block in round 3.1, and Classic Creature Feature in round 3.2.
A Dummy's Guide to Pauper Alara Block
Now the problem I have with this is that I am the dummy when it comes to this format. I haven't played it much competitively, and I certainly shouldn't be giving you advice on it. Nevertheless there were no other volunteers (hint to you budding authors). The thing to bear in mind is that the card pool is very narrow, and despite containing some good utility cards such as Relic of Progenitus and Naturalise, there aren't that many realistic deck building strategies, and possibly one of them is a lot better than all the others. I'm pretty sure that Esper is the tier 1 deck to beat here, based off some high quality cards such as the Capsules, Oblivion Ring, Agony Warp, Soul Manipulation, Agony Warp. Did I say Agony Warp, it really is that good. The only possible weakness in Esper is deciding which of the possible builds to pick, they all have pro's and con's. So do you go with heavy artifact and graveyard recursion (Gargoyles), control (Architects of Will/Sould Manipulation) or a more rogue build? Another popular deck is based around Blightning, Dragon Fodder and the block theme ability unearth. Kathari Bomber, Viscera Dragger. You won't find good cheap burn. Make do with Resounding Thunder and Magma Spray. Good cheap removal in the form of Terminate. Red/Green has a shot at it with Borderposts, Branching Bolt, the Cats (Wild Nacatl, Wild Leotau), some hasty gold bordered guys, with Colossal Might. You may find you can do something in white/green and the exalted creatures, Qasali Pridemage, Rhox Bodyguard, Guardians of Akrasa. Other notable cards without good decks to be in are Cancel, Putrid Leech, Gift of the Gargantuan and, um, Violent Outburst? You decide. And good luck in the round and in the race for 2010 Champ. For a more informed view than mine, See what PiDave has to say about anti-Esper decks in Alara Block on PureMTGO
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