Of Birds and Dragons

What have you played?

Format: Casual Golden Age (officially), new Modern strongly recommended (and used by nearly everyone)

So this week, in the first of several tournaments leading up to Canadian Nationals, our local group collectively decided that it was time to see what this new Modern format is looking like. I decided to test a theory: that control is overrated in the new meta, and that a strong, varied, offensive build is of much more value than a build that tries to shut everything down. And thus begins a tale…

Of Birds and Dragons

The Team:  Let’s fly.

To test my theory, I built a team with three offensive strategies built in.

The first, Gold Dragon + Ring of Winter, needs no introduction. James Blore brilliantly showed how this strategy can obliterate most players in the Two-Team Takedown. Get the Ring of Winter, buy the Dragon, use the Ring, attack with a massive Dragon while his Breath Weapon kills most things before your opponent can do anything.

The second strategy, Hawk and Dove, is also straightforward: Have Hawk and Dove active, KO dove, trigger Hawk’s damage. I used Stone Golem as a way of generating KO’s for this effect.

As for the third strategy, Batiri Battle Stack + Haymaker. Don’t underestimate those Battle Stacks! They get up to 5A when all 4 are on the field, and a well-placed Haymaker can deal a lot of pain with those guys.

Shriek, the always-useful blanker, is the sole control card of this team. Using her to neutralize a single threat is often all the disruption I need to keep my offensive going.

For ramp, I went with Heimdall + Resurrection. I know that I railed against using them together in the past, but for this build, a 7-die turn 3 with Ring of Winter + a character can do so much damage. You really have to be careful in how you run it though.

Speaking of which, how you run a strategy like this is key. You want to force your opponent into bad choices, get them to waste resources on control while you still hit them. I had two openings in mind with this team.

  • If I go first: since Gold Dragon can hit the field before their Shriek, I go aggressive and lean. Ideally, T1, I purchase Ring of Winter and use Resurrection’s global. T2, I hope for 5 sidekicks (hoping I don’t draw Ring of Winter), to use Ring of Winter’s global and 4 energy to buy Gold Dragon. T3, Ring of Winter to bring the dragon on the field. Depending on whether a Shriek is on the way, I may attack immediately and use Breath Weapon or hold back a bit and ramp (Heimdall, Res) with my remaining dice, and go from there.
  • If I go second: this is where it gets interesting. My T1 is to buy Dove. T2, I buy Ring of Winter, then use the globals for Heimdall and Resurrection. This means I roll 7 dice on T3, including Dove and the Ring. Also, if my opponent fields a Shriek on their T3, it forces them to choose: Who do I stop? Whatever they choose, I will then build on the other strategy. And this type of mind game is what this type of team needs.

With all of that said, on to the games!

Game 1:

I started off against an Attune build based around SR Yuan-ti. Let’s get this out of the way: Gold Dragon makes mincemeat out of most Attune characters. And to top it off, I was going first (allowing me to go for the more aggressive strategy outlined above). So I just went Dragons all the way and never looked back. She bought Attune characters, but they were getting knocked out all of the time, so she never got her strategy off the ground. I won by turn 6.

1-0

Game 2:

Next up, an Immortals build based off of Shadowmeld’s team from the recent Two-Team Takedown. Shriek came in handy this game; my opponent wasn’t using her, so I field her, name Hela, and without the lynchpin of the team, Immortals are slowed down substantially. Plus, I actually bought part of the Hawk+Dove combo, forcing him to waste resources on Bishop. All the while, I was setting up a large board. By the time he got Shriek off the field and got himself set up, I had a big enough board that he couldn’t finish me in one go. He still attacked, and hurt me quite a bit, but I had Stone Golem fielded, and he didn’t know Stone Golem’s effect and miscalculated his attack. The following turn, I Breath Weapon’d and swung in with a massive amount of attackers for the win.

2-0

Game 3:

For the final match of the night, time to face off against Infiltrate. Since I went second, and he bought Shriek, I went for my secondary opening strategy. Bad choices all around. He didn’t blank the Dragon, so I swung in with the Dragon every opportunity. Despite him stinging me for a bit of damage every turn, in the end, I outpaced him.

3-0

Post-Mortem:

-The first, and most obvious conclusion: This team-building philosophy works. Making aggressive teams where you pivot between threats and force control-heavy teams to be on the defensive is fun, and could be a staple of this meta.

-If I do this again, I’m using a different secondary win condition. Hawk and Dove, awesome as they are, take too much energy to set up to be a secondary win condition. They tie up three cards right now (Hawk, Dove, Golem), and if I put Doppelganger to make Batiri stronger (or copy the dragons depending on the situation) and choose a different secondary tactic with the other two cards (Collector + SR Boom Boom?), I could make this team even more versatile.

-Even if I plan on taking him out of this team, I really like Stone Golem’s ability. With the meta being pretty heavy in combat damage, he can make your life a lot easier.

Overall, I like what I’m seeing. But most of my opponents didn’t. I have a feeling I’m going to see a lot of Kate Bishops next week.

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