The M14 Pre-release: Rotten to the Core?

A lot of people said that M14 was very underwhelming and that it lacked the powerful cards that M13 had such as Thragtusk and Thundermaw Hellkite. While we will definitely miss those cards when they rotate out of standard, there will be a more balanced playing field and it should bring a a lot more players into the game since M14 makes Magic a lot more accessible than previous core sets. M14 limited (draft and sealed) should also be one of the best in a long time. While there will still be some cards that will win the game for you single handedly (Jace, Memory Adept), building a deck seems a lot more streamlined. No more exiling with Oblivion Ring or other cards, we’re back to good old battling creatures, burning things, and killing them with Doom Blade.

Saturday, July 13th

I went 4-1 on Saturday at Amenity Dream in Nagoya.  I played Green/Red first, but then switched over to a Black/Red build after losing in my 2nd game.

My GR M14 sealed deck

My GR M14 sealed deck

Creatures:

  • 1 Predatory Sliver
  • 1 Rumbling  Baloth
  • 1 Sliver Construct
  • 1 Briarpack Alpha
  • 2 Advocate of the Beast
  • 1 Voracious Wurm
  • 2 Brindle Boar
  • 1 Pitchburn Devils
  • 2 Academy Raider
  • 1 Marauding Maulhorn
  • 2 Battle Sliver
  • 1 Scourge of Valkas
  • 1 Dragon Egg
  • 1 Blur Sliver
  • 1 Goblin Shortcutter
  • 1 Dragon Hatchling

Spells:

  • 1 Giant Growth
  • 1 Chandra’s Outrage
  • 1 Shiv’s Embrace

Land:

  • 9 Forest
  • 8 Mountain

The Green and Red build gave me a lot of power but it lacked removal. Advocate of the Beast the beast was a pretty good card to play with other beasts. It let me sit back and create a massive attacker/blocker that I could attack with at my leisure. I also liked the Brindle Boar + Voracious Wurm combo. I’d attack with the boar, sacrifice it, then put a 6/6 wurm in on turn 4. It was a pretty good combo. Scourge of Valkas was also one of my favorite dragons to play with at the pre-release. He acted as extra removal, especially if you have more than one dragon in play. The Battle Slivers also gave me a lot of power at the top end, but one problem with this deck was the lack of removal. Shiv’s Embrace and Academy Raider won me quite a few games. 

The BR build

My BR M14 sealed deck

My BR M14 sealed deck

Creatures:

  • 1 Pitchburn Devils
  • 2 Academy Raider
  • 1 Marauding Maulhorn
  • 2 Battle Sliver
  • 1 Scourge of Valkas
  • 1 Dragon Egg
  • 1 Blur Sliver
  • 1 Goblin Shortcutter
  • 1 Dragon Hatchling
  • 1 Festering Newt
  • 1 Corpse Hauler
  • 1 Child of Night
  • 1 Blightcaster
  • 1 Undead Minotaur
  • 1 Deathgaze Cockatrice
  • 1 Liliana’s Reaver

Spells:

  • 1 Chandra’s Outrage
  • 1 Shiv’s Embrace
  • 1 Liturgy of Blood
  • 2 Mark of the Vampire
  • 1 Dark Prophecy
  • 1 Quag Sickness

Lands:

  • 8 Mountains
  • 9 Swamps

After losing in game 3, I switched over to a BR build to give me more removal spells. This ended up being a great color combination. Blightcaster was a lot better in limited than I thought it would be, especially if you’re running more 3-4 enchantments. Corpse Hauler was also a pretty good card, getting me a creature back from my graveyard when I needed to, and Dark Prophecy was a good way to draw cards whenever a creature died. Mark of the Vampire ended up being really powerful in this pool thanks to cards like Battle Sliver and Marauding Maulhorn. It always hit for a huge chunk of life and got me back into the game if I needed it. It also made sure I didn’t die from my own Dark Prophecy. 

Sunday, July 14th

On Sunday at Big Magic in Nagoya I went with a RW Sliver deck that was pretty quick. I had 3 Shocks for removal, a Pacifism, as well as Celestial Flare. However, I went 1-3. I won my first game against a mono green build, but my next opponent had a GW deck with some huge creatures. My speed couldn’t save me and the 2 damage from shock usually wasn’t enough, so I switched over to a BW build in that second match. I ended up winning a game, but lost in 3. In the next round I led off with my black/White deck (which gave me more removal such as Liturgy of Blood, Quag Sickness, and also used the Angel token making enchantment Angelic Accord along with life gain in my deck). I ended up losing 0-2 against that player’s BR deck, but when I switched back to RW I beat it rather easily. In my final match I went up against a BUG (Black, Blue, Green) deck. I played both games with my RW deck this time, but lost 0-2 again. When I switched to the BW build for fun, I won. 

What I learned about the M14 draft format

Black has definitely gotten a lot better in draft, and there is a lot of removal in the set. Black/Red decks seem to do the best if you can get the right balance of creatures and removal. Slivers seem to be great for aggressive decks, and work really well with lower mana costed creatures. I liked the GR, RW, and GW colors the most for slivers. Blue has a lot of tempo cards that return things to your hand or top of your library, but I didn’t see any cards that were really worth playing. If I had to rank the power of the colors in limited right now, this is what I’d go with:

  1. Black – due to removal spells and versatile, deadly creatures
  2. Red – lots of creatures and spells you can pump up, a good amount of burn, a decent amount of flyers too
  3. Green – huge creatures, lots of anti flying cards, mana fixing for 3 color decks
  4. White – big blockers, good removal spells, life gain, anthems to boost everybody
  5. Blue – lots of flyers, lots of counterspells, lots of ways to mill an opponent out

It’s a good set to draft, but sometimes people will have bombs like Jace, Memory Adept or Angel of Thune and you’ll need to have removal for it. That’s why I would recommend black + another color when you draft in the future. I’ll be picking up my box next Friday and drafting over the weekend, and hopefully I’ll find out some more combos. It’s not as fun to draft as the Return to Ravnica block, but it is one of the easier core sets to play sealed with I think. I recommend using it to practice your drafting skills before Theros comes out in September. 

Let me know how you did at your pre-release! What colors did you use, what were your good cards, and how’d you end up doing? I’d be interesting in finding out. 

 

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