In this primer we’ll review a few basic principles for approaching Two-Headed Giant and look at a few stand-out cards for the format. Let’s prepare for our collective escape from the underworld!
- Power Level: In a Two-Headed Giant Prerelease you get to build with twice as many cards and share what you open with your teammate. Your team will get a total of two Prerelease packs, so 12 booster packs and two date-stamped rares. Decks will have a much higher card quality on average and you should be more selective while building.
- Colors: It’s possible between both players to play all five colors. If one of your decks is in three colors you can theoretically play all the bombs you open. There is an argument for consistency over power, but your mana-fixing options will help dictate what’s possible. Don’t stretch your deck too thin and remember that games typically go longer. You’ll see more cards from your deck but you will be facing your opponents’ best cards as well!
- Strategy: There are differing ideas about whether you and your teammate should both share a strategy (both aggressive or both controlling) or whether you should each be aiming for a different goal. The most important idea is that you each have a strategy. A good collection of cards without a cohesive plan is generally much less efficient and more likely to fall prey to a synergistic team on the other side of the table.
- Evasion: With more creatures in play, board stalls can happen very quickly. Evasive creatures are critical! There are only two creatures with reach at common and one of them generally won’t be able to block (Flummoxed Cyclops) so be prepared to primarily engage fliers with other flying creatures. Wings of Hubris may be worth considering to keep your creatures in the skies.
- Countermagic: Being able to shut down an enemy spell is twice as likely to happen with two spell-casting opponents. With stronger decks there are more must-answer bombs overall and the risk of devoting a turn to counter an enemy spell (say with Memory Drain) is less problematic when your teammate helps advance the board. Even situational counterspells like Deny the Divine or Whirlwind Denial find their marks more often.
- Situational Answers: In a best-of-one match, cards with more specific functions can prove to be much more valuable. Specifically, you’ll want a few ways to remove troublesome artifacts and enchantments. Revoke Existence and Return to Nature are your prime options, though Mystic Repeal can be serviceable in a pinch. Removal is generally valuable of course but your more narrow cards like Triumphant Surge and Plummet are much more likely to find a target with two opponents.
- There are 22 common or uncommon Auras in this set. Many ‘combat tricks’ are Auras with flash, meaning that they can be removed with Disenchant-type effects. This also makes removal much more valuable when you can 2-for-1 opposing creatures.
- Your devotion to a color only counts mana symbols on your own permanents – no shared devotion on Theros!
- Cards like Arena Trickster that trigger when you cast your first spell during each opponent’s turn will trigger no more than once during the opposing team’s turn. While they’re two heads, they’re only one team with one shared turn.
- Play or draw: In 2HG sealed it’s often correct to choose to draw if your decks aren’t incredibly aggressive. Drawing two extra cards on your first turn can be a significant advantage if you plan for a longer game.
- Mulligan: Each player has one ‘free’ mulligan. Use it aggressively! If you have a sub-par hand, pitch it back and try again. It’s not worth risking a mediocre opening seven.
- “You” means You! If a card refers to “you,” it only impacts you as a player. This is most evident on cards that reference life gain – If one player gains life, the team’s life total changes but a teammate’s effects that look for life gain won’t trigger.
There are several cards that reference ‘each opponent,’ doubling their effectiveness.
- Arasta of the Endless Web – Twice the opponents means double the potential triggers. This is also an incredibly efficient defensive creature for slower games.
- Ashiok, Nightmare Muse – The token created by the +1 causes each opponent to exile, yielding more choices for the ultimate.
- Gray Merchant of Asphodel – It’s back and just as potent as before. This causes each opponent to lose life and you to gain that much life. You’ll want to pack as many of these as you open.
- Klothys, God of Destiny – More cards in graveyards gives you more potential targets. Plus you’re dealing 2 damage to each opponent for a total of 4 damage per turn if you’re exiling nonland cards.
- Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger – You probably don’t need much convincing that this Titan is a strong card. Its effect hits each opponent, yielding two discarded cards and a potential 6 lost life per trigger.
- Lampad of Death’s Vigil – If you can produce enough resources to activate this reliably, it can swing a lot of life over the course of the game.
- Mischievous Chimera – An efficiently costed flier is already fine value and converting your reactive spells into 2 additional damage can add up quickly.
- Pharika’s Spawn – This causes each opponent to sacrifice a creature when it escapes. It’s an efficient package that you’ll be happy playing.
- Tectonic Giant – Yes, you read that correctly. Any time this attacks or gets targeted by an enemy spell you can have it deal 6 total damage to the enemy team. This is absurdly powerful for this format.
- The Akroan War – This will pull most of your opponent’s creatures out of contention. If you’re ahead on board, this card will feel unbeatable.
- Underworld Dreams – 2 life each draw step really adds up, plus this offers the incidental benefit of penalizing any other draw as well!
- Wolfwillow Haven can be used on your teammate’s land to help them ramp.
- Shatter the Sky & Storm’s Wrath – Boardwipes get better in 2HG and these are no exception. Time their use correctly and you’ll gain huge resource advantages on your opponents.
- Tymaret, Chosen from Death is a great mana sink to keep both your opponents from escaping, and in a pinch you have more fuel yourselves if you really need the life.
- Karametra’s Blessing can also protect your teammate’s creatures (usually the hexproof trick can only target creatures you control. With more bombs to protect and more removal spells from the opposing team, this has a lot of utility for 1 mana!
- Conversely, keep in mind that some Auras can NOT be used on your teammate’s creatures. Aspect of Lamprey, Iroas’s Blessing, Setessan Training, Starlit Mantle, Warbriar Blessing and Bronzehide Lion.
- Nessian Boar – This card is the one I’m most curious about in this set. It has a huge potential upside in that all of your opponent’s creatures have to block it, but that same strength allows for huge blowout potential if it’s removed. It’s also massive card advantage for your opponents if your alpha strike doesn’t finish the job. I imagine you still play it based on its efficient stats with the awareness that things could go wrong.
These are the cards that generally won’t function how you want or are essentially not worth playing. You may be able to make these work in unique circumstances but they’re typically left in the sideboard.
- Enemy of Enlightenment – This counts the cards in each opponent’s hand, meaning that it’s unlikely to even survive entering the battlefield.
- Flummoxed Cyclops – a 4/4 for four mana with reach is normally a pretty good deal, but since your opponents will have twice as many resources, this will essentially never get to block.
I hope this has been helpful for you! Best of luck on your Prerelease and I’ll see you at the next one!
Kade Goforth is a Level 2 Judge from Oklahoma.