New set out for Magic meaning another pre-release!

I was really excited to play in this pre-release because of all the dragons that were going to be in the set.  And my pool did not disappoint (more about my pool later).  Penny had to come with me for the first bit though as my wife had to work and the in-laws couldn't babysit for her right away due to church commitments.  Penny did a good job helping me sort the cards into their colours and even picked out the sleeves she thought I should use.  The selection turned some heads and I'm not sure whether my opponents thought I was a scrub or not because of it.

The great and powerful Trixie will help smite my opponents!

I picked Atarka because I liked the Red and Green pool in the set.  Lots of big power creatures who gained additional abilities for being big (thanks to the new rule Formidable).  Sealed deck in my experience comes down to whoever has the biggest creatures or the most evasive creatures.  Rarely do you encounter a deck with a ton of answers to all your big creatures so eventually you can just run your opponent over.

Notable cards in my pool were

Dragonlord Kolaghan
Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury
Kolaghan's Command

Twin Bolt
Tail Lash
Roast x2
Atarka Pummeler
Atarka Efreet
Dragon Fodder x2
Lose Calm
Dragonlord's Servant
Sarkahn's Triumph
Volcanic Vision
Tormenting Voice x2
Mardu Warmark
Sprinting Warbrute
Summit Prowler x2
Qal Sisma Behemoth

Pinion Feast
Stampeding Elk Herd x2
Atarka Beastbreaker
Glade Watcher
Ainok Survivalist x2
Sheltered Aerie
Salt Road Ambushers
Aerie Bowmasters
Whisperer of the Wilds
Dragon-Scarred Bear x2
Ruthless Instincts
Tread Upon
Ambush Krotiq
Revealing Wind
Inspiring Call
Segmented Krotiq

Deathbringer Regent
Virulent Plague
Foul-Tongue Invocation
Self-Inflicted Wound
Silumgar Butcher
Sibsig Host
Mind Rot x2
Reckless Imp
Qarsi Sadist
Hand of Silumgar

There wasn't anything super exciting in White or Blue that would have made me want to switch.  Especially after opening those Red and Black cards.  It's a shame I didn't get enough good black to run straight RB.  Would have made the mana base way more stable.

My final deck ended up being
Dragonlord Kolaghan
Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury
Kolaghan's Command
Twin Bolt
Tail Lash
Roast x2
Atarka Pummeler
Atarka Efreet
Dragon Fodder x2
Sarkahn's Triumph (though this was often sided out for Pinion Feast)
Stampeding Elk Herd x2
Atarka Beastbreaker
Ainok Survivalist
Sheltered Aerie
Salt Road Ambushers
Aerie Bowmasters
Whisperer of the Wilds
Dragon-Scarred Bear x2
Jungle Hollow
Swamp x2
Forest x8
Mountain x7

Match breakdowns after the break.

Match 1 vs. UW - Draw
Game 1 - Long grindy affair.  I managed to stall his flying attack with Aerie Bowmasters and then I started beating down with Dragonlord Kolaghan and Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury but the latter got tapped down and the former got pacified.  He was eventually able to overcome me with an army of Djinn tokens and other flyers.

Game 2 - I beat him down on the backs of the Stampeding Elk Herd and some megamorphs.  A clutch Jungle Hollow allowed me to survive the flying assault of his two megamorphed Misthoof Kirin.

Game 3 - Had 5 turns, so match ended in a draw.

Match 2 vs. UB - Win
Game 1 - Opponent mulliganned to 5 and then got flooded.  No answers to my creatures so was over quickly.

Game 2 - Pretty even and I would have lost but my opponent played Reckless Imp normally instead of with dash.  It was the last 2 power needed to finish me off as I did not have enough fliers to block everything going my way.  My counter-attack on my subsequent turn won me the match.

Match 3 vs. UB - Loss
Game 1 - Opponent curved out perfectly with a bunch of death touch creatures going from Hand of Silumgar to Ukud Cobra to Sidisi, Undead Vizier to Dragonlord Silumgar.

Game 2 - Got stuck on 3 forests and drew lots of red cards.

This guy would go on to eventually win.

Match 4 vs. RB - Win
Game 1 - Got to 4 lands but drew all 5 drops afterwards and didn't see the 5th land.

Game 2 - I curved out nicely and got a bunch of high powered trampling attackers that he couldn't deal with.

Game 3 - Much more interaction this game.  Game changing moment came when he cast his Dragonlord Kolaghan after I cast mine but I had a Tail Lash in hand so mine killed his and eventually swung for the win.

Match 5 vs UW - Loss
Game 1 - Opponent got stuck on 3 lands.

Game 2 - Almost won this game but I misplayed an attack terribly.  I was at 3 life but had a vastly superior board position.  My mistake was when I played Tail Lash in response to a hexproof instant to clear away a blocker.  What I forgot was that Taigam's Strike was just cast and waiting to be rebounded.  If I used Tail Lash in response to Taigam's Strike the following turn I could have weathered the ensuing attack and struck back for lethal (I had Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury in hand with three other 4+ power creatures and he would have had to alpha strike for the win)

Game 3 - I got flooded and did not draw any spells beyond the first 4 in my opening hand.

The game 2 misplay here still irks me even more as I write this.  It was the only loss that I felt I could have prevented with smarter play.  Oh well, I suppose that's what I get for playing MTG only at pre-releases and the occasional cube nights.  I used to do a lot better when I played more often on MTGO or at FNMs.  I would usually a top 8 pre-releases.  Not so much these last few events.  I miss too many little things (like the Rebound on Taigam's Strike) that I think can be avoided simply by playing more.

The day wasn't a total waste though.  I rolled a 22 on the Dragonfury game so got all the promo cards.  Sadly the Foe-Razer Regent wasn't foil so I ended up trading it to someone who had the pre-release foil version.  Also picked up Dragon Whisperer and a pre-release Necromancer Dragon.  More things to add to my cube!