Small Superhero Slugfest

(Editor’s Note: A�Sorry for being AWOL lately. A�End of the semester is always a busy time. A�You think that I’d learn from previous semesters and adjust. A�You’d be wrong.)

In my last article, I went through my, admittedly flawed and possibly crooked, thought process behind the team that I drafted in our first Heroclix game. A�Chris answered with one of his own, but he one upped me by giving a play by play of the actual game, too. A�I mentioned at the end of my last article that I might do the same. A�However, I am notorious for neglecting and ignoring deadlines. A�It is good, then, that Chris tossed the ball back to me. A�Otherwise, you might have been denied this highly entertaining and insightful commentary. A�No, really, I mean it this time.

When we last left our intrepid heroes, I picked Captain Marvel (100 points…really 150, but I either can’t read, can’t do math, or intentionally cheated. A�It isn’t entirely clear which of the three is true), Swamp Thing (200, 150, 100…that last one is perfect for a 100 point Captain Marvel), Recorder (35 points), Manphibian (60 points), and Dire Wraith (55 points). A�I knew nothing about Dire Wraith. A�I still don’t. A�I pretended that my decision was difficult. A�It wasn’t. A�Under the mistaken impression of a 100 point Captain Marvel, my team basically built itself. A�Spoiler Alert: A�Who the hell is Dire Wraith and why does he look so weird? A�Draft drafted, team chosen. A�Time for the action!

As I said, Chris included his version of what happened in the game. A�I’m glad for that because I only have a vague recollection of the events on the night in question. A�I’ve often heard about how unreliable eye witness testimony is, but never experienced it to such a degree. A�As soon as I got home, I thought about writing this article. A�I texted Chris the day after to tell him that I wished that I’d written down the important pieces from the draft and the game because I didn’t remember any of it. A�He saved my butt by giving me his draft order. A�That, along with his article, might just be enough so that I sound like I know what I’m talking about. A�No promises, though.

We had two maps as choices. A�I got one that came with my Avengers starter pack. A�Chris got two of the same map from one of his orders. A�I checked both maps to see if either had any water in the starting areas so that Manphibian could get a movement bonus. A�I know what you’re thinking. A�It’s not bad enough that I cheated when I put together the team. A�Now, I need to get even more of an advantage through terrain manipulation. A�Well Mr. (or Mrs., Miss., Ms, whatever) Judgmental, I will have you know that once I saw that there was no advantage, I graciously deferred to allow Chris to pick the map.

heroclix map
Similar map to the one that I brought.

He chose his map after we both agreed that the map that I brought would be awkward for our purposes. A�My map, as would be expected, centered on the Avengers. A�One side was Stark Tower and the other side was the Helicarrier similar to the one shown above. A�Neither of us wanted to consider what might happen if one of our characters got knocked off the side. A�Therefore, we found ourselves battling it out for superhero supremacy in Dr. Strange’s mansion. A�I’m glad that it wasn’t just some random mansion. A�I feel better about our heroes destroying the place.

heroclix map 2
The map that we used.

Heroes drafted? A�Check. A�Teams chosen? A�Check. A�Map selected? A�Check. A�Starting area and characters set up? A�Check. A�Now what? A�Time to figure out how the hell to play this game. A�Check the powers and abilities cards for each character and the reference sheet. A�Wow, some of these characters have a ton of abilities. A�This is how far they can move. A�That is their hit modifier. A�This is their range. A�Okay, got it. A�Go.

Chris wins the die roll. A�I think that he jokes that it will be “the last thing I win” or “I’ve got to win something in this game”. A�If only he knew how accurate that statement would turn out to be. A�He started by moving his characters to the entrance of the mansion. A�I saw this as an opportunity to get my tanky character in the middle to muck things up. A�I also took Chris a bit by surprise by applying actual strategy. A�While Man Thing kept a couple of his characters busy on the stairs, I sent the others to flank him on either side.

Wait, what did Chris just say? A�He asked about some color. A�I check the dial for one of my characters. A�Each number is a color. A�Oh, that’s why there are so many powers listed. A�Each power corresponds to a color and a symbol. A�Now I got it? A�Not completely, but enough to get through this game and familiarize myself more later.

His first character died very quickly. A�After that, it became a war of attrition with our guys trading hits back and forth while my guy (Manphibian) kept missing Spider-Girl. A�I finally got smart and broke off one prong of my attack by moving Recorder into a support role first in the middle. A�He did nothing to break that stalemate, so I sent him to help Manphibian, who continued to suffer from my terrible luck and couldn’t hit sand if he fell off a camel. A�Dr. Druid actually got stronger as he clicked down, so he broke through and KO’d Captain Marvel.

sand
Manphibian missed every single one of the millions of grains and broke his leg falling off.

That actually allowed me to stop messing around. A�I moved Man Thing into melee range and just started pounding face. A�He also has some kind of poison aura that caused extra damage. A�After finishing off Dr. Druid, he joined the fracas with Recorder and Manphibian. A�Overwhelmed, the rest of his team (it might have just been Spider-GIrl at this point) eventually got KO’d.

I enjoyed the game. A�I always like the draft strategy in games even though I don’t get to implement it very often against other people. A�I do a draft a week in Magic Online, but that’s about it. A�I have been thinking about going to one of the local stores for their FNM draft, too. A�Sorry about that. A�This article isn’t about Magic. A�It’s just that Magic is the only reference that i have right now to compare table top games. A�Back to the topic. A�I like that you have to make up the strategy for your deck or team based on the characters or cards available from the packs rather than getting to choose from everything in your collection. A�It forces you to focus.

As for the game itself, I enjoyed playing it. A�Even though neither Chris nor I implemented much of a strategy in our game, Heroclix obviously offers a much different set than Magic. A�The map, movement of characters, powers that may change as the dial is clicked, and the randomness of the dice all lead to an ever evolving strategy during the game. A�Look, I’m an a noob and all, but I know that each game of Magic offers multiple lines of play and that you have to adjust based on changing conditions. A�In the end, though, it is still just cards fighting cards. A�Don’t get me wrong. A�I still love Magic and will continue to play it, but I’m also enjoying the variety of the new games. A�(Side note: A�My sons and I have been playing a ridiculous amount of Dice Masters lately. A�More on that next week.) A�We started the web page and podcast to bring fun back to games. A�We’ve been successful with that. A�As sometimes happens with these ventures, there are unintended consequences. A�One of those is the introduction of these new games. A�The other is that I have gotten to share all of these games with my kids. A�So far, they’ve liked Marvel vs. Capcom and Dice Masters the best. A�We tried Heroclix when they were younger, but the game was too fragile and complex for them at that age. A�Maybe its time to try again.

Miniature-Sized Beat-down. ‘Nuff Said.

First of all if you want to read Shawn’s account of our first foray into the world of Heroclix, just click here.

As the title suggests my first Heroclix game went…not well.A� I’ll get to the gory details later on in this article but I want to talk about the actual draft for a few minutes.A� We decided a few weeks before that we would do a sealed draft to make it interesting and to throw us into the deep end. It’s kind of like learning a foreign language, the best way to learn is by complete immersion.A�A� Or by buying Rosetta Stone.A� But that doesn’t work in my analogy.

For the draft, I went with a booster of the Amazing Spider-Man and Shawn went with a Guardians of the Galaxy booster.A� Both boosters were decent, nothing too overpowered to really tilt the scales, so it would be a fair(ish?) fight.A� I had a strategy going into the draft, I was looking for any character that possessed Prob Control, Blades/Claws/Fangs, or Charge/Running Shot.A� Sounds like I know what I’m talking about doesn’t it? Muhahahahhaha….(clears throat)..I don’t.A� Alright so let’s talk about my draft picks shall we?

Pick 1: Doctor Druid

doc druid

I chose him because he had Prob Control and with my crap luck I figured that having the ability to re-roll or having Shawn re-roll would be necessary. He also has Mind Control and Outwit, which came in very handy when Shawn’s Man Thing was poisoning the crap out of him. That last sentence…was…awful.

……Moving on!

Pick 2: Crystal

crystal

At 75 points, Crystal seemed like a good value. She has Running Shot, Energy Shield/Deflection, Enhancement, and Prob Control (among other things).A� I think if I actually had been able to keep her in the game, she could have done some serious damage.

 

Pick 3: Werewolf

werewolf

Why the eff did I go with Werewolf?! I guess it was for a couple of reasons: Blade/Claws/Fangs, and then his Full Moon ability, which lets you use Shape Change on a roll of 1-4 or lets you go to click 11 on the dial if it’s a 5-6. Unfortunately, this is where the first error of the night for me came into play. I never checked to see how many clicks of health he has.A� FYI it’s only 4.

 

Pick 4: Deathurge

Deathurge

I took him because he has indomitable and he’s a flier.A� He also has 7 clicks of life..but I didn’t end up putting him on my final team as I thought 140 points was too much for what he had to offer.A� Looking back, that was a mistake, if I had to do it all over again, I would draft him and Doctor Druid as my team.

 

Pick 5: Spider-Girl

spigirl

I took her because it was down to the last pick and she was only 41 points and at that point I knew who was going to be on my team.A� I basically was only going to use her as a punching bag while my ranged attackers took care of business.

 

Whew! Okay, now that I’ve explained my (flawed?) reasoning for my draft picks it’s time to talk about the game itself.A� Since this was the very first game we’ve played, we looked at our ability cards and referenced the powers and abilities card multiple times a turn, it made the game longer, but not to an annoying extent. By the end of the game I felt that we both had a good grasp of the mechanics and even were able to use some powers without referencing the P&A card.A� Before the game we had opened an entire brick of the Hulk set, and I think I can speak for both of us when I say that we were a little nervous. What if the game itself was underwhelming? Yes, we have to cover a majority of games on the market for this website and our podcast, but still it would be disappointing to play the game and then regret spending money on a brick of something that we will never touch again.A� Thankfully, that was not the case. After the first game, we are hooked.A� If time was on our side we would have played again right away.A� I’m looking forward to playing in a couple of weeks, because I have to return the beating that Shawn (aka Cheater McGee) put on me.A� 100 pts my ass. 😉

So back to the title..how bad was the beating you ask? I only KO’d one of his characters.A� One.A� Stop laughing.A� I was so jazzed up that I rushed my characters right onto a staircase, ignoring the core concept of the game (strategy), and directly into the path of one angry Captain Marvel who was able to stay out of range (I think Shawn only moved that piece once or twice the entire game) and pepper Doctor Druid and Crystal like they were on a shooting range.A� Instead of trying to break away, again, another core strategy completely ignored, I sat in the pocket and tried to fire back like I was in a Tarantino flick.A� The only damage I was ableA� do was when I was able to successfully use Mind Control on Man Thing, and then had him poison Captain Marvel.A�A� Of course now I realize that I should have been trying to break away Doctor Druid instead of doing a piddly one damage a turn.A� Sigh.A� Shawn, not ignoring the core concept, flanked my sides with Manphibian and Recorder. After that, things are fuzzy, I know that Werewolf, with his awe-inspiringA� 4 clicks of health dropped like a sack of crap first, Crystal was next, which knocked the wind right out of my team as she was my 2nd most powerful piece. At that point I realized that I was in trouble.A� For some reason I had Spider-Girl off by herself facing off with Manphibian, with Doc facing down Man Thing and Captain Marvel.A� Needless to say, Doc didn’t last long,A� which was followed shortly thereafter by the inevitable demise of Spider-Girl.A� I know it’s a fairly vague recollection of events but stay tuned for Shawn’s version on Friday (passing the ball back to you, buddy), where he will fill you in on his strategy.

So what are my takeaways from our first game of Heroclix?

-Next time use strategy.A� Like an actual strategy.

-This game is amazing.

 

Thanks for reading, and leave a comment below if you have any team-building tips/strategies that you think can help me exact my revenge.

 

 

 

Mini Marvel Maulers

(Editor’s Note: A�Join the NoobA�as he defiles yet another strategic game with his own special brand of ignorance.)

We recorded Episode 6 of the podcast this past weekend. A�We also tried to record some videos of Heroclix openings. A�I got a new computer, so the videos aren’t of the best quality and we will try again next month. A�It also took us a few tries to figure out how the microphone interacted with the new PC and I’m not sure we completely did. A�If the audio is bad this month, I apologize. A�Bear with us as we iron out all of these wrinkles. A�I can’t keep using that excuse indefinitely, but I’ll take any slack you offer. A�We’re not professionals, after all, just 2 guys gaming.

Speaking of gaming (how about that segue), we took a break from Magic to play some Heroclix. A�One of us suggested the game as both a topic for the show and to offer some variety during our monthly game nights. A�It served both purposes well. A�Due to time restrictions, we only got to play one game. A�Still, I can say with confidence that it was the first game of many. A�Personally, I can’t wait to play again.

gotgspidey

We decided to initiate ourselves into the world of Heroclix with a booster draft. A�I brought my Guardians of the Galaxy pack that my four year old pried open, already putting Chris in a suspicious mood. A�This mood will pay off with actual shenanigans on my part, so stay tuned. A�Chris provided one from the Amazing Spider-Man series. A�On first glance, none of the characters in my pack looked terribly impressive. A�I should probably mention that I have been very busy with finals at school lately and have not been able to research the game at all. A�Even so, the characters in the other box looked way cooler. A�I think that it was mostly just Man Thing that had me all hot and bothered…no comments, perverts. A�As I found out, he is a bad ass, but I had no way of knowing that. A�Hell, while we played, I checked all of their abilities on the chart every single turn. A�The model just looked amazing and boy, was that Man Thing big….okay, I’m done.

Now, on to the draft. A�I will give the picks that Chris made each round after my picks and admittedly ignorant analysis. A�Maybe Chris can give his thought process in another article. A�*hint, hint* A�A final warning: A�Seeing as how neither of us ever played the game before, we probably did not adhere to time limits during the draft process. A�No one pick ever took longer than a few minutes. A�Still, we gave one another ample time to consider each choice. A�As with most of our gaming, we just took a more casual approach.

cmPack 1, Pick 1: A�My pack consisted of Captain Marvel (the Carol Danvers version), Crystal, Recorder, Deathurge, and Dire Wraith. A�This pick was easy. A�I took the most expensive–and strongest, I hoped–character. A�She took up so many points, but I figured she’d be worth it. A�Chris took Dr. Druid, a solid first pick.

Pack 2, Pick 1: A�Chris passed me Man-Thing, Werewolf, Spider-Girl, and Manphibian. A�mtI briefly considered Werewolf and Manphibian, but ultimately picked Man-Thing. A�He is just too strong. A�Plus, he has the flexibility of multiple point values. A�(I need to mention now that, at the time, I mistakenly read Captain Marvel as 100, not 150 points. A�Yes, a math teacher who can’t do math. A�’Merica! A�My team was illegal for a 300 point game. A�Dang. A�I tried so hard to put together the best team given the quota. A�All for naught.) A�Chris, not a cheater, picked Crystal.

recorderPack 1, Pick 2: A�After picking what I considered to be the core of my team, I started looking for support. A�Of the three remaining, Recorder had the strongest ability in that capacity, as far as I can tell. A�Chris takes Werewolf. A�Had I not been a cheater, I’d probably have taken him instead of Man-Thing, but who knows.

manphPack 2, Pick 2: A�Left with Manphibian and Spider-Girl, I take the chance that we might play an outside map with water so that he will have a movement bonus. A�I consider Spider-Girl for her support power, but I take the chance. A�Chris takes Deathurge, who I now notice has a point value of 140. A�He might be actually be strong. A�I will have to look at him again.

dwLeftover: A�I pass Chris Spider-Girl and receive Dire Wraith. A�Before this game, I had no idea that it was even a thing. A�If I read Captain Marvel’s point value right, he’d have become an integral part of my team. A�You can all see and understand why I cheated now, right?

I will write another article for post on Friday that discusses my strategy in putting together my team. A�I will also talk about the game that we played in that article. A�Tonight and tomorrow are reserved for editing the podcast. A�Until then, Excelsior and best of luck in your Mini Marvel adventures!

Between the Numbers – Grand Prix Shanghai 2015

Grand Prix Shanghai 2015 -5/16/2015 (Standard)

Top 8 Deck Types

3 Green Devotion

2 Gruul Dragons

1 Abzan Aggro

1 Abzan Control

1 Abzan Midrange

I found it interesting that the balance of power has started to shift in Standard. Although Abzan is still the deck to beat, R/G has crept onto the scene taking 5 out of the 8 spots.

1st Place Deck (Abzan Control)

24 LANDS
4 Sandsteppe Citadel
4 Temple of Malady
4 Windswept Heath
4 Llanowar Wastes
3 Temple of Silence
2 Plains
2 Forest
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
22 CREATURES
4 Courser of Kruphix
4 Siege Rhino
4 Deathmist Raptor
4 Den Protector
4 Satyr Wayfinder
2 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
12 INSTANTS and SORC.
4 Abzan Charm
4 Thoughtseize
2 Crux of Fate
2 Hero’s Downfall
3 OTHER SPELLS
3 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion

Top 8 Singles Breakdown

Card Total
Elvish Mystic 20
Temple of Abandon 20
Wooded Foothills 20
Rattleclaw Mystic 15
Sylvan Caryatid 15
Abzan Charm 12
Sandsteppe Citadel 12
Siege Rhino 12
Temple of Malady 12
Whisperwood Elemental 12
Windswept Heath 12
Dragonlord Atarka 11
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx 11
Thoughtseize 11
Den Protector 10
Llanowar Wastes 10
Temple of Silence 10
Hero’s Downfall 9
Polukranos, World Eater 9
Xenagos, the Reveler 9
Courser of Kruphix 8
Fleecemane Lion 8
Stormbreath Dragon 8
Thunderbreak Regent 8
Deathmist Raptor 7
Draconic Roar 7
Haven of the Spirit Dragon 7
Boon Satyr 6
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion 6
Crater’s Claws 5
Rugged Highlands 5
Anafenza, the Foremost 4
Ashcloud Phoenix 4
Goblin Rabblemaster 4
Mana Confluence 4
Rakshasa Deathdealer 4
Satyr Wayfinder 4
See the Unwritten 4
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon 4
Arc Lightning 3
Caves of Koilos 3
Dromoka’s Command 3
Genesis Hydra 3
Hornet Queen 3
Nissa, Worldwaker 3
Roast 3
Tasigur, the Golden Fang 3
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth 3
Wingmate Roc 3
Bile Blight 2
Crux of Fate 2
Heir of the Wilds 2
Sorin, Solemn Visitor 2
Surrak, the Hunt Caller 2
Murderous Cut 1
Outpost Siege 1
Valorous Stance 1

Between the Numbers – Grand Prix Toronto 2015

Grand Prix Toronto 2015 – 5/3/15 (Standard)

Top 8 Deck Types

4 Abzan Midrange

2 Bant Aggro

1 Mardu Aggro

1 Selesnya Aggro

1st Place Deck (Abzan Midrange)

26 LANDS
4 Temple of Silence
4 Temple of Malady
4 Windswept Heath
3 Sandsteppe Citadel
3 Llanowar Wastes
3 Forest
2 Caves of Koilos
2 Plains
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
14 CREATURES
4 Courser of Kruphix
4 Siege Rhino
3 Fleecemane Lion
3 Den Protector
16 INSTANTS and SORC.
4 Abzan Charm
4 Thoughtseize
3 Hero’s Downfall
2 Bile Blight
1 Read the Bones
1 Crux of Fate
1 Dromoka’s Command
4 OTHER SPELLS
3 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
1 Nissa, Worldwaker

Top 8 Singles Breakdown:

Card Total
Windswept Heath 28
Fleecemane Lion 27
Courser of Kruphix 22
Den Protector 22
Thoughtseize 18
Abzan Charm 16
Deathmist Raptor 16
Siege Rhino 16
Temple of Silence 16
Sandsteppe Citadel 15
Temple of Malady 15
Dromoka’s Command 14
Caves of Koilos 13
Llanowar Wastes 12
Temple of Plenty 12
Elvish Mystic 11
Hero’s Downfall 10
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion 8
Flooded Strand 8
Yavimaya Coast 8
Mana Confluence 7
Seeker of the Way 7
Bile Blight 6
Dragonlord Ojutai 6
Valorous Stance 6
Sylvan Caryatid 5
Anafenza, the Foremost 4
Bloodstained Mire 4
Collected Company 4
Crackling Doom 4
Draconic Roar 4
Goblin Rabblemaster 4
Mastery of the Unseen 4
Nomad Outpost 4
Rakshasa Deathdealer 4
Stormbreath Dragon 4
Thunderbreak Regent 4
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth 4
Warden of the First Tree 4
Brimaz, King of Oreskos 3
Disdainful Stroke 3
Temple of Triumph 3
Ajani Steadfast 2
Battlefield Forge 2
Foul-Tongue Invocation 2
Haven of the Spirit Dragon 2
Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury 2
Sorin, Solemn Visitor 2
Soulfire Grand Master 2
Surrak, the Hunt Caller 2
Ultimate Price 2
Wingmate Roc 2
Crux of Fate 1
Kolaghan’s Command 1
Murderous Cut 1
Nissa, Worldwaker 1
Rattleclaw Mystic 1
Read the Bones 1
Stratus Dancer 1
Temple of Malice 1

Between the Numbers – Grand Prix Paris 2015

Welcome to the newest addition to our article family!A� Between the Numbers is exactly that: numbers.A� Hey! I hear you yawning from here.A� This isn’t Trigonometry kind of numbers..this is MTG numbers.A� These articles will be focused on breaking down the Top 8 decks from major MTG tournaments card by card so we can see what cards saw the most action and which ones didn’t make the cut.A�A� Who knows? This might help you decide which cards you should include in your FNM deck and which ones you should leave at home.A� Enjoy!

2015 Grand Prix Paris 5/9/15 (Standard)

Top 8 Deck types:

4 Abzan (3 aggro, 1 control)

2 RDW

1 G/R Devotion

1 G/W Collected Company

1st Place Deck List (Abzan Aggro)

Main Deck:
4 Anafenza, the Foremost
4 Fleecemane Lion
4 Rakshasa Deathdealer
4 Siege Rhino
1 Surrak, the Hunt Caller
2 Warden of the First Tree
2 Wingmate Roc

2 Sorin, Solemn Visitor

4 Abzan Charm
2 Dromoka’s Command
2 Hero’s Downfall
4 Thoughtseize

2 Caves of Koilos
2 Forest
3 Llanowar Wastes
1 Mana Confluence
2 Plains
4 Sandsteppe Citadel
3 Temple of Malady
3 Temple of Silence
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
4 Windswept Heath

Top 8 Singles Breakdown:

Card Total #
Windswept Heath 21
Fleecemane Lion 20
Sandsteppe Citadel 16
Siege Rhino 16
Abzan Charm 14
Temple of Malady 13
Thoughtseize 12
Deathmist Raptor 11
Den Protector 11
Dromoka’s Command 11
Hero’s Downfall 11
Llanowar Wastes 11
Temple of Silence 11
Anafenza, the Foremost 10
Caves of Koilos 9
Courser of Kruphix 8
Elvish Mystic 8
Lightning Strike 8
Monastery Swiftspear 8
Stoke the Flames 8
Warden of the First Tree 8
Lightning Berserker 7
Rakshasa Deathdealer 7
Wild Slash 7
Eidolon of the Great Revel 6
Wingmate Roc 6
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx 5
Sorin, Solemn Visitor 5
Temple of Plenty 5
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth 5
Zurgo Bellstriker 5
Collected Company 4
Dragon Fodder 4
Foundry Street Denizen 4
Genesis Hydra 4
Mana Confluence 4
Rattleclaw Mystic 4
Sylvan Caryatid 4
Temple of Abandon 4
Thunderbreak Regent 4
Whisperwood Elemental 4
Wooded Foothills 4
Dragonlord Atarka 3
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion 3
Flamewake Phoenix 3
Hidden Dragonslayer 3
Hordeling Outburst 3
Mastery of the Unseen 3
Polukranos, World Eater 3
Searing Blood 3
Titan’s Strength 3
Bile Blight 2
Blossoming Sands 2
Brimaz, King of Oreskos 2
Goblin Heelcutter 2
Goblin Rabblemaster 2
Valorous Stance 2
Xenagos, the Reveler 2
Courser of Kruphix 2
Crux of Fate 1
Hall of Triumph 1
Hornet Queen 1
Read the Bones 1
Rugged Highlands 1
Surrak, the Hunt Caller 1

Lessons from the Kitchen Table: Vol.4 The Proxy Paradox

 

It's real..I swear.
It’s real..I swear. <cough, cough>

Yes, I’m fully aware that my cohort already wrote an opinion piece on the seedy world of MTG proxies, but I wanted to share my thoughts on the subject as well.A� As Shawn wrote in his article “My Case for Proxies”, he has brought up the subject of proxies to meA� a few times in the last couple of months.A� Each time I briefly thought about it before I shelved the idea thinking to myself, “What fun is that?”A� You see, I’m a collector at heart.A� My dad raised me on sports cards, which is basically one big stock market. It’s all about opening that pack or box and getting that big money card to flip for a profit. I try really hard to not see Magic that way.A� It’s just a game. Right?A� Despite that belief, I have to admit that I’ve always been remotely aware of the value of singles.A� I still remember standing in my local game store during the days of Gatecrash, buying 5 boosters, listening to the clerk say that he still hadn’t pulled a Boros Reckoner (which was selling for $15-$18 back then), opening one pack in front of him and pulling aA� Boros Reckoner out. There was a rush that I hadn’t felt since my sport card days.A� I’m sure you know what I’m talking about:A� we’ve all opened that one pack and got that rare thatA� we were looking for.

My point is that when it comes to proxies..there is no real excitement. There is no mystery of “what’s in the pack?” And there is absolutely no monetary value.A� It took me looking back at my banking statements and seeing just how much I spent last year on the hobby before I decided that the rush of possibly pulling a high value single was not worth the dent my bank account was taking. Shawn had been talking about proxies for Vintage and Legacy, but I decided to take it to the next level and say that I was completely done with buying actual Magic cards and I would proxy everything. I justified it by pointing out the fact that literally Shawn is the only person I play the game with.A� None of my other friends have an interest in it. If I’m only playing it with one person, why spend so much?A� At this point, the money I save can be put towards other games that we need to report on for our podcast.A� The decision was made. I was out.

After talking about it with Shawn and finding a rather useful proxy site, we agreed to split the cost of a printer and would begin our adventure into the world of fake cards.A� I found a nice printer on sale and eagerly drove home beyond excited at the prospect of finally playing a Time Walk or a dual land.A� Needless to say the first batch I printed consisted of the Power 9.A� I took land cards and pasted the proxies over them. I took a step back to inspect my work and thought to myself that they looked good. Real good. Too good.A� I sent Shawn a text with a pic of my Black Lotus and a Mox Sapphire . He agreed. They looked real. He was thinking more along the lines of printing in black and white (I didn’t get that memo).A� I’m an artist and half the appeal of MTG is the artwork so I didn’t want to sacrifice it just because I wanted to save some money.A� Besides I was riding the high of every single MTG being available to me for playtesting. I quickly put together the control deck of my dreams that consisted of vintage and modern staples and printed it out.

After a couple of hours of arts n’ crafts, I had a deck.A� I decided to play-test it against my Modern RDW.A� It was like a dream..turn 1 Black Lotus, Ruby Mox and a Volcanic Island right into a Monastery Mentor.A� The game only lasted 4 turns. My vintage control had out-aggro’d my aggro deck.A� I couldn’t believe how great the deck played.A� Easily the most dominant deck I have.A� I guess that’s to be expected though.A� It was a rush to play..but that rush was followed by a creeping feeling of guilt. Was what I was doing okay? I had basically declared that I was going to stop supporting the game that I love.A�A� In a way I felt like I broke the game.A� After playing the most powerful cards you can possibly play,A� how can you go back to playing whatever the flavor of the month is?

I had to take a step back and start working on some modern decks with my *actual* cards to get back into the swing of things.A� After a couple of conversations with Shawn and a few nights of deck-building, I came to the conclusion that Proxies are *needed* in theA� Vintage/Legacy format. There is no place for them in Standard/Modern..for the most part the singles are cheap enough and If I really want to save money, stop buying sealed product.A� Stick with singles.A� Yes, I lose the excitement of opening a booster pack, but to me it’s worth it to not feel like I’ve broken the game.A� Plus, I get to scratch that collecting itch that has stuck with me throughout my life.A� Will I proxy Vintage? Yes. Will I feel guilty?A� No.A� There is a huge difference between creating a proxy of Mana Drain or a Mox, and a proxy of Brimaz, King of Oreskos.A� What’s your opinion of proxies? Let us know in the comments below.A� Thanks for reading!

Free Comic Book Day 2015

(Note: A�The first ones are free, Kid. A�After that, you gotta pay.)

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I’ve been under the impression that our family made Free Comic Book Day a tradition and that we’ve gone every year for the last couple of years. A�Now that I look at this picture of our first (and only recorded) visit, I realize that memory is, once again, the worst witness. A�That was at least two–and maybe even three–years ago. A�A visit to Facebook to check the time stamp confirms that we took a year off from the annual celebration of five finger discounts on the funny pages and I’m not sure why. A�It might have been birthday parties or something. A�It definitely was not the quality of comics. A�Those were actually very good and quite impressive for free.

We missed last year, as mentioned, but I put it on the calendar this year. A�I also reminded everyone for days leading up to the big event. A�Some of he story of how the actual day went are told in my previous post. A�If you can’t–or don’t want to–read the story right now, I’ll give the TL:DR version. A�We got stuck in parade traffic, got to the comic book store late, got our comics, and didn’t stay for anything else. A�I almost got suckered into buying a set of Dice Masters. A�Bound to happen eventually.

So, what about the books? A�I don’t know if it was just because we were late, but the selection seemed quite underwhelming this year. A�Maybe it is because I haven’t been collecting for at least a decade. A�I didn’t recognize many of the comics. A�The ones that I did know didn’t look that appealing. A�I mean, really, they’re doing Secret Wars again? A�Come on, have some originality. A�In the end, I got TMNT (to see if the hype is real), Divergence, and Secret Wars because I’m a fraud. A�The boys got Pokemon, Transformers, Sonic/Megaman, and Teen Titans/Scooby Doo. A�Truth be told, their comics look more interesting, so I’ll leave those for last.

divergenceFirst up is Divergence. A�This is some DC book that contains three separate stories about their most popular characters. A�I’m a little frustrated that they’re rebooting again, but it is also maybe a good idea. A�How much are comics now? A�$3 isn’t bad. A�I’m intrigued. A�Wait, they killed Batman? A�And Joker? A�What the hell is this? A�I agree with Gordon. A�This is dumb. A�A reboot is good because it gives a good place to get back in, but will I? A�The next story is about Superman. The first thing that I notice is that JRJR is now with DC. A�That seems odd. Lois gave up his secret identity? A�Maybe I do want to check this out. A�The Wonder Woman story is also good and I actually write Chris that I’m considering a return to the comic book store. A�If only the Marvel books are as good.

secret warsYeah, about that. A�They are not. A�Secret Wars is terrible. A�Ultimate End is awful. A�Inhumans is ridiculously inane. A�These are all previews and none of them make me want to buy the actual book. A�In what universe do we live that I’m more interested in DC books than Marvel? A�Clearly Marvel has given up on comics and prefers to exist in movies and television.

tmntThat brings us to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. A�Both Chris and I had strong things to say about Donatello being killed off in a recent story line, but this is actually a pretty good book right now. A�The only name that I recognize is Eastman, but that might actually be a good thing. A�I still think that it could have been done without killing Donatello. A�Still, I might pick up some of the trades to catch up on the story.

POK_201502FCBD2015SolicitationCover.inddNow, onto the books that the boys picked up. A�Liam read Pokemon as soon as we got back in the car. A�He called it weird and said that it didn’t follow the main story. A�It is one of the comics that reads backwards, but I don’t think that’s what he meant by weird. A�Many of the Pokemon comics are like that. A�I suspect that he meant the same thing with both statements. A�I haven’t read it yet, but I trust his judgement.

transformersThe Transformers comic is a full story one similar to the DC books that I read and they illustrate just how old I am. A�I only recognize Bumblebee, but I suppose that many of the characters are from the Transformers Prime. A�I’ve always meant to watch the show. A�Maybe this will be the introduction and reason that I need to start. A�There is also an interesting little introduction to Transformers vs. GI Joe. A�The book isn’t bad, but it’s definitely a kid book.

sonicBoth the Sonic/Megaman and Scooby-Doo/Teen Titans books follow the same format as the Transformers. A�They are full story introductions into the new stories that are coming during the summer. A�One thing that I notice is that there are multiple Sonic titles. A�They also blatantly plug a new video game, which is to be expected, I suppose. A�Megaman is much darker and more intense. A�Seems like it might be better for older kids and I’m somewhat interested to see how the comics and worlds will cross over. A�Finally, Scooby-Doo is much more like the older TV show that I remember than some of the more recent TV shows have been. A�That’s a good thing. A�I couldn’t even do Teen Titans. A�There was far too much happening in that book, color and insanity wise for my old brain.

scoobyIn closing, other than TMNT the adult books were disappointing. A�DC was better than Marvel, but that’s not saying much because Marvel were awful. A�The kid books were all full story, mostly decent, fun, and more interesting than the adult ones. A�A�I doubt that I’d enjoy any of them as a month to month. A�There is some glimmer of hope. A�They are doing what Chris and I thought they should do and trying to hook young fans into comic books. A�I don’t know how successful, but both boys have asked to read some of my old books. A�I also asked them if they wanted to start collecting comics and they both said yes. A�Once again, they failed to hook me enough to get me to start collecting, but I might invest in trades of TMNT, at least, so that’s something. A�Also, definitely going to sign up for Marvel Unlimited because they have another free month trial. A�I’m not fully back and I might never be. A�However, I’m at least partly still in, so there’s hope for us old guys, too.

My Case for Proxies

(Editor’s Note: A�TLDR: A�Don’t counterfeit Magic cards, but proxies definitely have A�a place in the community.)

We went to our “usual” place on Saturday for Free Comic Book Day. A� I put usual in quotes because this has only be a tradition for two years running but we have gone to the same place both times. A�After getting our comics last time (we were the dorks in line before the place opened), we watched some of the parade. A�If you know Northampton, then you know what kind of parade. A�If you don’t know Northampton, then I will just say that there were many rainbows and the mood was quite festive.

Happy people parading!
Happy people parading!

An article about Free Comic Book Day is coming tomorrow. A�I justA�wanted to set the stage. A�Bear with me just a little longer. A�You have to admit that this exposition makes for a better story. A�Now, back to that story.

I noticed during one of my morning commutes that the sign on the highway warned of potential traffic because of a parade scheduled again on the same Saturday as Free Comic Book Day. A�I filed the notice away, mentioned it to Christine because she’s usually better at remembering these things than me, and proceeded to hype myself up for a weekend of not seeing the Avengers, but making up for it with free comic books and Lego sets for the boys. A�Perfect nerdy guy weekend on the week before Mother’s Day. A�I also suggested the idea to ride bikes, and we had a party to attend, so Christine would not feel left out completely.

It’s a good thing that bike riding came up as Plan B. A�Not that I forgot about the parade, but I tried to circumvent the warning and the traffic. A�I failed spectacularly on both fronts and we ended up on quite the detour through downtown Northampton in search of a parking spot during one of the busiest days of the year. A�We never found that spot and decided to ride bikes instead. A�As we pulled into the parking lot for one of our new favorite trails, someone pulled out of their spot. A�I glibly remarked that it was meant to be. A�While the rest of the family went to the bathroom and otherwise got ready, I used the time to see if another, more accessible, store was offering the free books. A�Nothing materialized from the Google search, but I did find a link for Worlds Apart, a gaming store in Amherst.

I’d seen the store but never went in. A�Intrigued as to why Gogole wanted to send me to a store without comics (as far as I know) for Free Comic Book Day, I clicked the link. A�No comics as I suspected, but several other ideas grabbed my attention. A�After the bike ride and finally getting to the store for our comics, we came back home. A�I did more research into the store. A�What I found blew me away.

Drafts on Monday and Saturday, Modern on Thursday, EDH on Wednesday, Standard on the other days. A�What caught my attention the most and convinced me that this might be my new favorite store was their Tuesday event. A�They offer unlimited proxy Legacy. A�Chris and I play Legacy. A�Well, I think that it is technically more Modern, though we place no actual restrictions on card use other than trying to limit the damage on our bank accounts. A�Legacy or Modern, proxies open a whole new realm of possibilities at a reduced cost.

I got so excited by the news that I wrote to Chris first and then posted to the Magic group on Facebook. A�I got several responses. A�As I hoped, many of them expressed support and I got more excited by the prospects. A�Chris inquired more into the nature of proxies. A�He found a page that lets you print proxies. A�It is the same page that I’ve used in the past.

Perhaps it is time for disclosure. A�I have used proxies for Magic. A�I have not bought nor sold them under any pretense, but I have created my own. A�I made proxies for Liam’s and Aiden’s commanders because I didn’t want to pay the prices that people wanted for those cards. A�I’ve been trying to convince Chris to use them over the last few months, but he has resisted. A�After our conversation in which we agreed that it might be worth the investment to get a printer, he realized the potential savings. A�We excitedly discussed creating no limit Legacy Decks and I suggested Vintage because why not? A�He sent me a picture of his first creation, a Black Lotus and I almost fainted from the image. A�He then printed a Mox Sapphire and finally a full Vintage deck. A�I’m still in the process of narrowing down 20 years of Magic into a workable 60 card deck plus 15 card sideboard.

This also gives me and Chris the chance to try out of the ordinary (or completely net decked) standard decks without having to pay a penny. A�Our group nearly expanded to feature more players but it is still just the two of us. A�Spare me the Will Smith, please. A�Oh, all right, but I insist on the Austin Powers version.

I will still buy my usual box and fat pack for each set to support the game. A�I have also been thinking about dipping my toe into the competitive scene (which often frown upon proxies for obvious reasons), so I will need to fill in cards for those decks. A�Those purchases will be a drop in the bucket, though, and proxies will result in massive savings.

Additionally, the no limit on proxies in the Legacy weekly at the store is a good starting point to see if I have the chops to compete with other players besides just Chris. A�I am also planning to join some drafts at another store now that school is out, so that will be another relatively cheap way to test my skills against other people. A�However, the most tempting is definitely Legacy with no limit on proxies. A�You can make a deck for free. A�There’s no initial investment other than the entry fee and that is minimal when compared with the price of the cards required to build some of these decks.

I am, by no means suggesting that you buy or sell counterfeit Magic cards. A�However, some formats of Magic shut out a large percentage of the player base due to the sheer cost of entry. A�This might seem like a good thing and it might even be a good thing, but I argue that it is not. A�Sure, you want to have gated content in your games, but they should be skill gates. A�I might not be the best Vintage player in the world (in fact, I’d argue that I’m not even close), but I won’t even get a chance to prove that I’m not because I refuse to spend upwards of $10,000+ on pieces of cardboard. A�It feels like the worst case of pay to win I’ve ever seen in any game. A�Sure, some tournaments offer 10 A�or 15 proxies, but why not have more unlimited proxy events at local stores? A�It would pull more players into the game, give new players who weren’t lucky (because, really, that’s all it is) enough to have played when these powerful cards were released a chance to play the cards, and improve the experience overall. A�All a pipe dream, I’m sure, but one worth dreaming.