Monday evening, sixteen Paupers answered [i]Shadowmoor[/i]‘s call, lining up along the walls of the BPDCCOM Conference Center. (Sixteen is quite a bit below the 28 present for BPDC 1.01′s [i]Kamigawa[/i] kickoff, but I’ll chalk it up to the incredible popularity of that favorite of blocks…) [b]SypherSun[/b] warned me before registration even began that new match tables and sideboarding had been lagging, but little did we know that the BPDCCOM Conference Center, and indeed the entire framework of MTGO v3, seemed to be under assault from a wrecking ball. Or so it felt. However, the patient and even-tempered among us waited through the ridiculous lag to eventually crown a champion of BPDC 3.01 — [b]Boin[/b], piloting “Warrior Sligh.”
The general consensus in the BPDC channel last night was that [i]Shadowmoor[/i] is a great set, especially for Paupers, and redeems the imbalanced and narrow [i]Lorwyn[/i] Block in a big way. As I have contended in the past, [i]Shadowmoor[/i] is chock full of tools for Paupers in all formats (though obviously the smaller the format, the more useful it seems), and last night certainly punctuated the point by demonstrating the sheer usefulness and versatility of so many of Shadowmoor’s offerings. We wouldn’t have been able to make that observation, however, if we had not seen so much [i]Shadowmoor[/i] to begin with. The sixteen players who did show up came prepared (and we’re hoping for more next Monday).
Despite initial expectations, hybrid served last night to push players into single-color strategies rather than toward multi-color. We saw several mono-white and mono-blue decks, and one each of mono-red and mono-green (although GW Shield decks are essentially mono-green, but their pilots don’t always acknowledge it). I had a long and facinating discussion with [b]Boin[/b] after the tournament ended, and he mused that, with hybrids around, mono-red gets access to the fat of green (Tattermunge Duo), mono-green gets the hard-to-kill guys of white (Safehold Elite), mono-white gets the frustrating tricks of blue, etc. What this reveals is the great design of [i]Shadowmoor[/i], tricking all the way down to us at common. It also enables for aggro decks with greater-than-average depth, which proved to define the evening’s metagame.
Four rounds of Swiss takes a while to play out, but it provides a couple advantages that make it worthwhile in my estimation. First, it allows everybody to play more matches. That’s where the fun is. That’s why we show up. My intent has always been for BPDC to be the “fun” PDC event, and by allowing every player to participate in four full matches, I’m aiming for that experience. Secondly, it gives players a chance to play their decks against a wider swath of the field, which increases not only their knowledge of their own decks, but also their experience competing against other archetypes. I am thrilled to see the Block Constructed forum buzzing with activity after the event, especially when I see players like [b]Alotrel[/b] and others remarking about specific plays they saw or made. That’s obviously the intent of those forums — to get Paupers talking about how to play Pauper Magic. We have a database for repositories of decklists — the forums should focus more on strategies, sideboarding, mulliganing, etc. At least that’s my not-so-humble opinion.
Four rounds of Swiss also gives us a clearer idea of who earned his or her way into the playoff rounds (due to more accurate tiebreakers), though we tend to get some pretty crazy drops at BPDC; perhaps because of that fun and casual atmosphere, we invite less commitment and competition. Those drops are the only down-side to BPDC, and if that’s the worst of it, I’ll take it. As long as they’re REPORTED drops. But I digress. Accuracy in promoting competitors to the brackets is important especially because we’ve been struggling to crack the egg of 18 players and thus we have to cut straight to semifinals. With only four elimination spots to fill, I want to be sure they’re going where they’re deserved.
Last night’s elimination brackets were filled with aggro decks: mono-white (Kithkin Steel), mono-red (Warrior Sligh), mono-green (Safehold Stompy), and red-green (a rogue aggro deck whose pilot declined association with the Warrior class). Of these, only the last deck’s pilot [b]Zipstein[/b] was undefeated. [b]nybaseb3[/b] and I were 3-1, and [b]Boin[/b] squeaked through on a score of 2-2 on tiebreakers. Boin’s speed and consistency trumped Zip’s bigger men, and nybaseb3′s unblockable and doubly lifelinked Zealous Guardian put the 3rd game of our match far out of my mono-green reach. (I had failed to board in my Elvish Hexhunters, which could have turned the tide, but I hadn’t seen the aura in either game 1 or 2…)
I didn’t manage to catch much of the finals, but instant-speed burn does have a way of trumping auras, creating a nice two-for-one in card advantage as well as a nasty hit to tempo. Boin’s deck races along as it is, with a far more aggressive curve than Kithkin Steel’s present incarnation, so the odds were in his favor in that pairing. And that’s the story of the triumph of the lucky 4th seed.
The future of the format looks outstanding. There is SO much ground to be covered that I can’t begin to express to you how excited I am about the Shadowmoor Season of BPDC. We saw a ton of innovation at BPDC 3.01 and I’m sure that will continue with each coming event. The format is quick right now — maybe somebody can come up with a way to slow things down? (Think lifegain, think W/U, think Merfolk tokens…)
I’m also happy to announce that [b]Skeletoy77[/b] will be cutting his hosting teeth as a stand-in for me when I’m not available, such as for BPDC 3.02. He has been doing his homework and he’s a sharp guy so you’ll be in good hands. I regret that I won’t be able to make it, but I’ll be following activity in the Block forum during my time here in Charlotte on a dubious wireless connection. (Maybe dial-up if the wireless fails…) Rest assured that I’ll be back as soon as possible with a new secret weapon…
Until then, happy designing and happy testing!