Escaping the Phantom Zone

I remember the event only very vaguely: Two years or so ago, for some reason or other, Wizards gifted every Magic Online account (or maybe not every account, but all of mine were among them) a certain amount of phantom points. Those could, as their name suggested, only be used to enter phantom events (limited events where you do not keep the cards you opened).

Well, I’m not one to turn down free limited play and proceeded to use those points up as completely as possible. There were issues here, though: Phantom points could not be traded between accounts, so once I fell below the lowest entry threshold, they sat around useless. I guess Wizards‘ plan was that at that point, people would start to enter phantom events by the alternate method of paying real money (or the equivalent in tickets), but I wasn’t that stupid.

Then, a year ago, phantom points got converted into play points at a ratio of 1 to 6. The upside was that they could now be used instead of tickets for practically every event. The downside was that play points are still not tradable. However, it turned out that I was now again above the entry threshold for phantom sealed (60 pp) on one account, so my “dead” points had been reactivated! (Technically, I can now also use 20 pp to enter 2-player queues, but since I do not play constructed anymore, this leaves only Momir basic, and I haven’t yet tried to get such a queue to fire, which seems an unlikely thing to happen to me.)

So, Shadows over Innistrad phantom sealed it was! My first effort left me at 2-1, which gave me exactly my entry back to try again, and so I did. This time, I managed to rattle off the required 3-0, and I have now enough play points to enter a “real” draft, because flashback drafts cost only 100 pp. I successfully escaped the phantom zone! (For now.)

The deck that did it didn’t look to great to me, and I still don’t think it is really good, but it worked out well enough. It helped that I played mostly well and didn’t get unlucky:

Phantom Sealed

The madness tricks were, of course, the best thing about this deck. Welcome to the Fold did good work, but Slayer’s Plate turned ot to be my biggest trump, especially in conjunction with Call the Bloodline – racing a 5/3 lifelink creature that just comes back every turn is outright impossble. I played Triskaidekaphobia because I thought I needed another way to win unfairly, not trusting in my deck’s ability to grind my opponent out, but that turned out to be unnecessary. The one game it won me I would almost certainly have won anyway, and I found myself sideboarding it out repeatedly.

Another thing to note is that I actually won one game by transforming my Thing in the Ice – quite a feat considering I have exactly 4 insteries in my deck! Once again, though, I would very likely have won that game anyway if the Thing had just been a 0/4 vanilla creature, which was the function I expected it to fulfill when I sideboarded it in. I did so every game, and I now realize I should just have started it instead of the silly rare enchantment.

I won several games by milling my opponent with Manic Scribe, and here I’m not entirely sure if I would have won those games if the Scribe had been just a 0/3 vanilla creature. I think I would have stabilized the board and put myself in a winning position anyway each game, but then again, the presence of the Scribe changed the dynamics of each match so much that it is hard to say how they would have played out otherwise.

I just realized I have a small backlog of winning deck lists which I forgot to post as an addendum to earlier entries, so I’ll get that done now: The first is still from one of my last OOB drafts. OOB was in my opinion the best draft format in years, but I had to let go of it finally.

Esper Linvala vanilla

Note that I always cast Linvala, the Preserver as a 5/5 flying french vanilla creature (okay, in one case that was only because of egregious stupidity on my part). That was good enough. The mythic rare didn’t really stand out, though.

To Shadows over Innistrad:

Orzhov 3 Naya opponents

Not much to say here, I guess. This time, my mythics were as good as advertised (meaning they were bonkers). Interestingly, I played against opponents running exactly Naya colors every single round!


This, however, was a pretty normal SOI deck. Okay, 4 Ember-Eye Wolf is maybe a bit off the norm, but essentially this is fast, focussed aggro with a lot of 2-drops and plenty pump effects. This is how you do it when you have to do without bombs.

I haven’t done very much SOI drafting so far for a number of reasons, one of them being that I do not like the format too much, and another that I have been overplaying the set when I was hyped about the new leagues. Maybe I will get a few more drafts in during the next few weeks, before I will probably give Eternal Masters a shot. It doesn’t seem like a great format to me either, but it will be available for so short that it would be silly of me not to at least give it a whirl!

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