Avacyn has finally been Restored! If you’ve been following Magic news, you might know about the Helvault promotion, which was Wizards’ attempt at adding an interactive element to prerelease tournaments. In the weeks leading up to the prerelease, I had the opportunity to chat a bit about it with a number of players and game store managers about the Helvault. Basically, each store got a big cardboard “thing” that has a bunch of stuff inside. As players accomplish random achievements during the tournament, the seals on the Helvault will be broken, and, when all the seals have been broken, all the players receive a portion of the loot inside the piñata.
The #1 problem with this concept is that Wizards was completely silent about what was inside the Helvault, threatening to cut support if a store was found to have broken open the vault early. Since stores and players didn’t know what was inside, wild speculation ran rampant all over the Internet. Of course, with the amount of hyping being done, there was almost absolutely no way what was actually inside would ever meet expectations, so all the secrecy just served to undermine either stores’ attendance numbers or the fee for registration. Players who were concerned with receiving loot from the Helvault were calling around to different stores to see where they could go to guarantee getting loot, and some stores were increasing the tournament fee if a Helvault was involved. It seemed like lose-lose for everyone, really. I hope Wizards gets the correct feedback and plans a better event in the future.
Drama aside, I have to say the actual experience of completing achievements to open the Helvault was surprisingly fun. If you’ve participated in a prerelease in the last 2ish years, you may have seen those achievement cards being handed out with weird things to accomplish, like attack for 15 damage in 1 turn or play 3 creatures with a bloodthirst trigger or something. The achievement concept is the same thing, except that, based on the number of players in the Helvault event, each player must accomplish X number of achievements in order to break 1 seal. I don’t know how many seals there were on the Helvault, but, in 2 4-round sealed deck event with 50+ people (10 achievements per player), the vault was opened after round 2-3, and much half-hearted cheering was had. It was pretty neat, so no complaints from me.
Now, on to the meat and potatoes: card pool lists and deck lists!
I played in the midnight sealed at Misty, got home a little before 5 AM, feel asleep, woke up at 9:15 AM, couldn’t fall back asleep, checked the clock, saw 9:45, and figured I could probably make the 10 AM sealed at Misty (15 minute drive, yay cutting it close!), so I did 2 sealed events in the space of 12 hours :3 neither pool was particularly ridiculous, I ended up 2-2 at midnight and 3-0-1 in the morning. Here are my card pools:
For the midnight, I played the first round with a blue/black concoction aiming to run out Demonlord of Ashmouth and hopefully control the board with random removal spells and deathtouchy flyers. It didn’t end up going so well when my opponent went turn 3 Trusted Forcemage into turn 4-5 Silverblade Paladin both games and completely demolished me, so I looked at my pool, saw both of those cards with a fair amount of support, and switch to green/white beaters. Round 4 was quite unfortunate since we traded blows most of the game, then I drew 6 land in a row while he drew gas, so he was easily able to overwhelm my board. My soulbound deck was:
9 Plains, 8 Forest
Bladed Bracers, Joint Assault, Righteous Blow
Moorland Inquisitor x2, Nightshade Peddler, Sheltering Word, Wandering Wolf
Gloomwidow, Lair Delve, Moonlight Geist, Silverblade Paladin, Trusted Forcemage, Wolfir Avenger
Goldnight Commander, Holy Justicar, Midvast Protector
Geist Trappers, Spectral Gateguards, Wildwood Geist
Pathbreaker Wurm x2, Revenge of the Hunted
Relevant Sideboard: Eaten by Spiders, Cursebreak, Geist Trappers, Grounded x2, Natural End
My morning sealed pool was a bit easier to build, since I had a lot of good cards in blue and green. It was tough passing on the white, since I finally opened up a number of angels, which is always good, but splashing was too greedy and my synergy was just better with green/blue.
9 Island, 8 Forest
Joint Assault, Ulvenwald Tracker
Nightshade Peddler, Spectral Prison, Timberland Guide
Angelic Armaments, Borderland Ranger, Captain of the Mists, Gallows at Willow Hill, Galvanic Alchemist, Ghostly Flicker, Gloomwidow, Scrapskin Drake x2, Trusted Forcemage
Elgaud Shieldmate x2, Mist Raven x2, Stern Mentor
Howlgeist, Pathbreaker Wurm
Relevant Sideboard: Rain of Thorns, Abundant Growth, Joint Assault, Lair Delve, Natural End x3, Snare the Skies x2, Terrifying Presence
Turns out Stern Mentor is absolutely ridiculous, especially with Elgaud Shieldmate since your opponent has almost no way to deal with it. Captain of the Mists is also very, very good, since, in a board stall, you can slowroll humans to get 3-4 taps out of him every couple turns. Wildwood Geist was an all-star for both events, as well, just as a 5/5 for 5. Vanilla creatures are a lot better in this format because of soulbound. Obviously having abilities is better, but soulbound is completely bonkers.
I did get to do a fun Ghostly Flicker combat trick though! My opponent had a ton of 2-drops and was just aggroing me out. He drops a Fervent Cathar, making my +1/+1 Mist Raven unable to block, then swings with his team when I’m at 4. I can’t block his flyer now was the idea and he has an extra ground creature, so he would win. I Ghostly Flicker my Mist Raven and Timberland Guide, bouncing his flyer and putting the counter back on the Raven, wipe his board while only losing a few durdles, and come out ahead by 3-4 creatures. From there, I drop a Stern Mentor and just mill him out (he’s at 28 life, I don’t want to risk attacking in case he has other haste guys or Righteous Blow). That was quite cool.
Well, that was my first foray into Avacyn Restored. I’m quite excited to see how drafting turns out, since I feel like everyone is just going to wrestle over the power soulbound creatures and black gets ignored (black is pretty bad, really). We’ll see!