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Pojo's Book Reviews



02.13.02  - Odyssey Block Limited is fun.

A bold statement perhaps, but one that I think most people would agree with.  For some reason this set really looks pathetic on paper... but actual game play has proven Odyssey to be a very well designed and thought out set.

Look at past Blocks and their new mechanics.  Buyback and Shadow from Tempest were powerful no doubt.  Masques brought us the powerful Fading mechanic and the abusable Rebel/Mercenary "search" ability.  Everyone remembers fondly the Gold cards and Kicker spells from Invasion that were flat out busty.

But that's the thing, up until now in Limited we've measured cards value based on how cost efficient they are or how much damage they can deal on their own.  Limited has for the most part in my mind been ruled by the "bomb" cards.  You know what I'm talking about, the cards that when they resolve cause your opponent to scoop.  Cards that single handedly win you the game when otherwise you were sure to lose.  

Odyssey is shaping up to be a format where power cards are not necessarily gonna win you games automatically.  The new mechanics in Odyssey (Flashback, Threshold and Madness) play off each other in seemingly innocent ways.  However, good deckbuilders are quickly learning that by designing your deck around these mechanics is what it takes to be successful.  Kudo's WOTC R&D, it looks like you've finally built a set where a good player has just as good a chance of being successful as the random scrub who happens to open Morphling!

Having said that, I wasn't such a good deck builder this past weekend.  =(

I guess I really shouldn't be complaining. I did go 5-2 against some tough players and came real close to the finals with an 11th place finish.  Really what I'm doing is just learning from mistakes and hoping you guys out there can benefit from them.  What am I talking about?  Let me post my deck first...

Chatter of the Squirrel
Barbarian Outcast
Filthy Cur
Blazing Salvo
Chainer's Edict
Flame Burst

Deep Reconnaissance
Fiery Temper
Krosan Avenger
Organ Grinder
Longhorn Firebeast

Pardic Arsonist
Centaur Chieftan
Famished Ghoul
Faceless Butcher
Rabid Elephant
Krosan Constrictor
Zombie Assasin
Waste Away

Centaur Garden
Cabal Pit
6 Mountains
5 Swamps
5 Forests

OK, so what did Aaron do wrong in deckbuilding?  Again, on PAPER my deck looks pretty tight!  Look at my creatures!!  I've got a whopping NINE creatures with atleast a power of 3!  That combined with 8 forms of removal... top 8 should be a no brainer right?

Well I didn't... and here's why.  My deck didn't use ANY of Odysseys mechanics to it's advantage... and the guys who beat me did.  

My deck could have had some serious tech if I had any way at all to abuse all the Threshold goodness.  Cards like Pardic Arsonist, Centaur Chieftan, Chainflinger, Krosan Avenger and the pain lands Centaur Garden and Cabal Pit are off the charts... but only if you got Threshold.  And that's the problem... I think out of 7 rounds and a total of 18 games my deck only achieved Threshold twice.

Pretty sad.  =(

Should I blame my cards?  Not really.  Yeah Wild Mongrel or some other tricks woulda been nice, heck I'd have settled for Clockwork Gnomes happily!  But I didn't get those cards... so I should have built my deck beter/differently.

My mana curve was off, I'm sure of it.  Here's my breakdown:

1-2cc  -  7 spells
3cc  -  5 spells
4cc and up  -  11 spells

I had nearly as many expensive spells in my deck as I had 1-3cc!  Right there was a BIG reason why I had a hard time reaching Threshold.  Many times my deck would really fall behind because I could only cast one spell at a time... and that's assuming I had all the necessary mana!  I should have found a way to use some cheaper spells or squeeze in some spells that let you discard but I was to tempted by all the solid high end spells.  The three Flashback spells didn't help hitting Threshold either... I probly could've been more patient on using the Flashback to keep cards in the grave to try and hit Threshold faster.  Zombie Assassin, Gravedigger and Organ Grinder didn't do me much good either in this department either.

I don't have much to report about the 5 games I won... but the two games I lost should be interesting and back up my earlier rating.  

Round 3
Opponent playing G/U

Get ready for a clinic in Madness and Threshold abuse.  I never thought I'd type Nut Collector and the word "Bomb" in the same sentence... but when combined with Sephalid Broker he sure looked like Hiroshima to me!  The broker was bad enough being cast on turn three thanks to Diligent Farmhand... but using the Madness cost of Basking Rootwalla AND Obsessive Search on its first activation really was plain rude.  Even then I wasn't completely out of the game but Nut Collector hitting the board soon after was pretty much lights out considering he ALREADY had threshold thanks to the broker.

Nothing fancy about game 2.  He just played Squirrel Nest on turn 3... then ANOTHER shiny one on turn 4!!  A deck like mine with very little evasion doesn't stand much of a chance versus an opponent who can generate 2 chumps a turn.  =(

Flash forward 3 rounds and I'm 5-1!  Despite some design flaws my deck does OK due to sheer simplicity of nice creatures and decent removal.  Mana screw wasn't a factor all day luckily and because of it I'm in 4th place after 6th round standings.  But as it turns out my luck had just ran out as I got paired against another 5-1 record who was in 9th place so he couldn't draw in to the top 8 like me.  =(  This round my deck really decides to crap out on me.

Round 7
Opponent playing R/B*

I come out slowly due to a bunch of 4cc spells in my opening hand.  At first I think I'm OK as he doesn't generate much early on either until turn 5 when he drops a Pardic Lancer.  Seemingly innocent, this guy brings my attack to a screeching halt as a 4 offense first striker takes out nearly every creature in my deck.  Even worse, the discard that's necessary to fuel the Lancer made his next turn Gurzigost look like Nagasaki.  A 6/8 with the lone wolf ability makes for a quick game, especially when all my removal is hiding at the bottom of my deck.  

Game two is just as embarrassing for me when I open both Cabal Pit and Centaur Garden in my opening hand.  I life total record shows I did 5 damage to myself that game.  Him jamming a Carrion Wurm down my throat doesn't make things any easier..  Even still, both his big fatties Carrion Wurn and Gurzigost required he have the ability to put lots of cards into his graveyard... and to his credit he built his deck to do just that!

* Another interesting fact worth note... both games I lost my opponent ran a two color deck.  A solid 2 color build seems to have a clear advantage over a solid 3 color build.  I can back that up with my 6-0-1 record from the Prerelease where I ran a 2 color build.

So anyway, instead of drawing into the finals I end up going home with not so much as a booby prize.  

And as you can see, when 2 good decks go head to head in Odyssey the mechanics (and abusing them) make all the difference.  With the difficulty my deck had reaching threshold I really shouldn't have played both the Pain lands, their special abilities didn't ever come into play and they ended up dealing loads of damage with no real compensation.  Ah well,  something to remember for next time.  Well, hopefully this gave you guys something to think about.  I know I learned quite a bit last weekend and hopefully I'll do even better at next months PTQ!

Hope this helps... have fun!



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