Nemesis Prerelease: Why Laccoliths are good. - by Jim Grimmett

This Saturday Team PhatBeats attended the Bath, UK Nemesis prerelease. I went along hoping to get a winning recond, my team mates were looking to get into the top eight. We all had a great time, and we all found out about Laccoliths, luckily for me I didn't find out the hard way...

Although I play Type II regularly, Limited is a format I haven't had much practice with and consequently my performances to date haven't been that good. On the other hand I've attended all bar one of the prereleases since Weatherlite and it's probably my favourite type of Magic tourney: the thrill of new cards, the screams of delight when another broken foil rare is pulled from a booster.

To try and turn my luck around we spent quite a bit of time looking at the spoiler and trying to work out which cards would work well with the Mercadian Masques commons. Other members of the team picked out their favourite commons and uncommons, giving reasons why they are good picks. I didn't. I spotted some of them but by no means all, and not for the right reasons. At the end of the day I look at cards in terms of Type II. I build Type II decks all the time, a couple of decks a day normally. I dream about it, I admit: I'm an addict. When I see Seal of Strength I wonder how it'll fit into Speed Green decks. Do you play four as well as four Giant Growths? My initial thoughts were that they weren't that good. They're a threat your opponent can see - there's no surpise. I also didn't think Laccoliths were that good. How wrong I was.

The cards I started with were as follows:

Green: 21 (14 creatures, 7 others).

Red: 16 (10 creatures, 6 others). Blue: 16 (6 creatures, 10 others). White: 19 (12 creatures, 7 others). Black: 15 (6 creatures, 9 others). Land: As you can see, my selection of black and blue cards isn't that great. A couple of good spells (Snuff Out, Parallax Dementia, Shoving match, Dehydration) but only a few good creatures. White, red and green all have a lot of creatures, so I started looking at these for my main colours. I know from my team mates that white is quite strong in this environment, and I had Arrest, Seal of Cleansing and Devout Witness as permament control. I wasn't happy with the creatures though. Green and red had a lot more, much bigger creatures - including the lacccoliths, and in green I had three Seal of Strength and an Invigorate. I eventually chose to play green and red but with all the two colour casting costs I didn't want to splash for white (perhaps my inexperience shows here) to try and have a more consistent deck. At the end of the day my deck looked as follows: You can see that a lot of these cost a lot to cast. In fact in many games I didn't put down a creature until turn three but would often follow that with a four, five and then six casting cost creature on following turns. You can also see that I had four Laccoliths and two Laccolith rigs. Laccolith Rig makes creatures into laccoliths.

Right from the first game the Laccoliths started showing me how good they were. I knew that I could deal damage as a trigger when blockers were announced, so when I attacked with two, my opponent blocks with his creatures and they die - leaving my laccoliths unscratched. Even first strikers die this way! So we started calling them 'super first striking' - but they're better than just that.

After the first round I went to see a judge. We check that I could pump them up after putting the ability on the stack... I could. This means that I could attack, with my 2/2 Laccolith Grunt, get it blocked by a 5/5 creature, put the ability on the stack, sacrifice a Seal of Strength to give it +3/+3 and kill the 5/5 blocker - leaving my Grunt alive! Enough people didn't believe this throughout the day to keep the judges busy. I won the first round 2-1.

During the second round I had an idea and called over a judge. "What happens if I put a Laccolith Rig on a Laccolith?" I hoped that I could deal twice as much damage. The judge came back and said that you could put both the Laccolith's natural ability, and the ability of the Rig on the stack and deal twice as much damage. Almost immediately I started doing this and my Laccolith became unblockable. No one wanted to loose two weenies a turn by blocking with their walls - or even lose their bigger creatures. I won the second round 2-1.

At dinner we wondered over to the New Inn, a lovelly pub just by where the Bath tourneys are held, for a bacon sandwich and some chips. Team PhatBeats and Team Spike were (almost) all there and we talked a little more about the Laccoliths. Most people were finding them a pain. With an undertaker, a waterfront bouncer, or a kris mage on the table you don't want to block a Laccolith. The bigger (3/3) Laccoliths were causing the most problems - as they kill most Rebels, Mercenaries and other weenies without taking any damage. The Rig ruling just made them even better.

Round three was against a local player Liz Keogh, Liz helped me a lot when I started to play and is one of the best female players in the country. She had some slow starts and the Laccoliths caused her no end of trouble, the bigger creatures in my deck finishing her off. I won 3-0. After the match we chatted about the prerelease and some of the younger players there. The Bath tournament attracts a lot of younger players and in normal tournaments we try to help as much as possible - giving them favourable trades for their decks and going through their decks to try to help their construction skills. At a prerelease it's more difficult as you don't want to coach them or tempt them into changing their decks and getting into trouble. Liz spends a lot of time helping the younger players and it'd be nice to think everyone would, maybe we wouldn't have cries of 'Magic is Dying' every five minutes if they did.

Before round four I spoke to Andy Smith, one of our judges and he wanted to check the wording on Laccolith Rig. He thought that you might be able to put it on your opponent's creatures, and if they attack you can block them and, as the controller of the enchantment, choose to have the creature deal damage to another of your opponent's creatures. He was right, I told a few other local players and the rest of Team PhatBeats. Most of them were amazed, some of them had already spotted it. The Rig was getting better and better.

Round four was against Alice Coggins, well known for her columns in European Sideboard and the Dojo, also a member of Team Spike. The first game was won after I Laccolithed my own Saber Ants to give me a few more creatures. The second Alice won with Parralax Wave. She needed to draw a second plains and top-decked it. With only six minutes left we didn't have enough time to finish our third game. This left me on 3 wins and one draw. Looking at the standings I needed a win to get into the top eight, a draw leaving me in no-mans land.

My final round was against Tony Boydell, another magic player well known in the UK. Although I won the first game, Tony had two fast starts in the second two games, and plenty of creature removal. I lost 1-2. Tony is always fun to play against and I think this was the most friendly game I played all day.

At the end of the day, on 10 points, I came ninth, the best I've done in any Limited tournament. I attribute a lot of this to the tricks that Laccolith's gave me, the fat creatures and the three Seal of Strengths and one Invigorate. At the end of the day they'll be three things I'll remember about Laccoliths:

  1. They have super first strike.
  2. They become unblockable if your opponent is playing a lot of delicate creatures in his deck.
  3. Laccolith Rig is great - especially on a Laccolith or a regenerator.
I had a great time and I'm looking forward to watching my Limited ranking head back over 1600.

Cheers, Jim.
Team PhatBeats.