All posts by Noob of All Trades

Shawn Lucas is the self identified "Noob of All Trades". He is married and the father of three boys, two of whom help with their own podcast every couple of months. Raised on Atari, Nintendo, and Sega, he enjoys all games and will play all of them to the best of his ability, which is often average at best. Currently, he is most interested in Magic, Heroclix, and other games that he can play with Chris and his sons.

Comics Hunter

Introduction (My Brief History in Comics)

Over the weekend, I realized that I never edited nor posted the comics themed podcast that Chris and I recorded a couple of weeks ago. The realization came as my computer was out of commission during our scheduled recording time for the main title podcast. It works out for this week. I can just release it this week and we can record for next week. The only issue is that I did both of my “state of” articles last week. I might be able to do them monthly, but it will more likely be every other month. I certainly wouldn’t do them weekly. As a result, I had to come up with two different comic themed articles for this week to stay current with the podcast.

I’m not sure, other than the articles last week, if I’ve mentioned Chris and my newly discovered love of comic books. Mine is more newly discovered than his as he generally has a smaller reading list than me and thus doesn’t have to spend as much. I did find a cheaper way to read the comics digitally, but I found myself missing the hunt, so to speak. I’m a collector at heart, so it just didn’t feel right not having those issues.

To set the scene for new readers, I have been collecting comic books since I was in high school. I’ve been collecting Magic the Gathering cards for almost as long. Sounds impressive, no? Imagine all of the profits from those books and cards that I sold. I should be retired on some tropical island surrounded by beautiful people and sipping on a never ending line of drinks with umbrellas in them, right?

Alas the closest I have come is I drank way too many free mai tais on a sunset cruise during our honeymoon in Hawai’i.

Granite State Comics Fest (April 22, 2018)

Why am I not? The short version of the story is that I haven’t been collecting comic books the whole time. I do take breaks every now and then, one time for almost a decade. Another tiny problem is that I threw away all of my comics from when I was a teenager. My wife (then my fiancee) and I moved a bunch before we found our house. During one of those moves, I decided I didn’t want to move the comics anymore. If I had anything worth anything it was either poached by a dumpster diver or recycled into printer paper.

During this most recent break, Chris has been in constant contact. He’s told me about all of the cool stuff in DC’s Metal event. He’s tried to convince me, more than once, that Midtown’s discount is worth it. As a quick aside, he finally got me on board with that one. I’m quite stubborn sometimes, but eventually make the right choice.  I wasn’t ever completely out this time.

The true turning point came during our visit to the Granite State Comic Fest. Both he and I went to the larger convention several years ago. I saw that they were doing a smaller show and suggested that we go. He agreed and both Liam and Aiden expressed interest in joining us. It is one of the most fun days I’ve had in the last few months. More than that, it gave me additional reasons to want to collect comics books.

What’s Next? (Comics on my List)

Our trip to the comic fest and a costly trip to a local store inspired to update my inventory.  I’m a bit jealous of the set up that Chris has for comics now and I want one, too. With renewed purpose and focus, I can do that.

My first idea was to fill out my Spawn run as much as I could. That’s not entirely true. I said to Chris, “I want a full run of Spawn. Shouldn’t be too hard.” Spawn is the first comic not named Spider-Man that made a strong connection. Unfortunately, it has been much harder than I anticipated to pick up the missing books. I guess I still have a 1990s over production mindset and one of the times that I took off collecting must have been lean for Spawn. As Chris tells me, we’ll find them eventually.

After I fill in all of my interested titles from the Rebirth relaunch, I want to start working backwards to the “Final Crisis”. I have some New 52 titles and I have most of the Countdown books. Filling in the New 52 will be an impressive accomplishment. Chris told me this one might be difficult, too. I can fill in with trades. Not as interesting, collector wise, but I’m not going to be an issue snob in the face of overwhelming prices.

I have a few ideas for my Marvel collection. I’m only a couple of issues short of completing Totally Awesome Hulk. I also have most of the (She-)Hulk series that was just cancelled. Other than that, I went crazy on eBay and bought a whole bunch of Marvel Team Up issues and am going to work on finishing that whole run as I’m less than a dozen missing.

Conclusion

I enjoy reading comics. Especially now, the stories and art are great in almost every book that you get. I should know, I had a 50 dollar a week habit for a while. Like Magic the Gathering, which I enjoy playing, I am more of a collector. I love opening packs and seeing what cards I have and need to finish a set. With comics, I enjoy the books. There’s also something to be said for scratching that itch that you get when you realize there’s a book missing from your collection. I’ve been scratching that itch quite a bit recently. Stay tuned to see if I can keep the momentum.

State of DC Comics

As mentioned in my previous article on the state of Marvel comics, Chris and I have recorded a pilot for a new podcast. I am close to finishing the edit on that, so it should be available soon. I had hoped to take the occasion of the new show and my new interest in comics to write down a few words about the state of the two larger comics publishers. If you’ve read that article already, you know the deal. If not, here’s the short, short version. This isn’t an in depth analysis of the financial and social impact of DC Comics. It is simply the thoughts of one fan and the likelihood of that fan remaining for the foreseeable future. If that sounds like something you’d like to read, let’s get started!

The State of DC Comics (as I see it)

First, a little history. This is partly inspired by comments made in my Marvel comics article. It is also a result of my attempts to organize my comics. During those efforts, I ran across my issues of the 52 and Countdown weekly series. That led to a Google search for DC “continuity” surrounding those series and, more importantly, the series following. Apparently I stopped collecting comics after Week 41 of the Countdown series. In a conversation with Chris, I think that is because the local comic book store in town closed.

I was for years under the impression that these guys were just falling. Maybe their impact is what caused the final crisis and New 52? I may never know.

Chris got back into Batman during New 52. He also enjoyed Swamp Thing. I knew nothing about the actual plots of any of the books during this time. In the Marvel article, I touched on New 52 and Rebirth because Marvel seems to be in the same rudderless ship that DC was back then. I ignorantly made the assumption that DC used New 52 as a way to clean up their timeline and further ignorantly assumed that maybe Marvel was doing the same by rebooting so soon after their Legacy announcement.

In my searches, I found that New 52 was actually, other than maybe a few issues, an absolutely disaster. I don’t know if any of this is true, but I learned that Batman was actually his dad because it was Bruce who was killed and Wonder Woman declared war on Aquaman (maybe?) that destroyed all of Western Europe. It all reached a head when (as it often does when DC wants to reset continuity), Flash royally screwed up the timeline by going back in time to save his mother.

Seriously, there are a few things we can rely on in comics. Flash will mess up the timeline and any time Marvel wants to be taken seriously, they “end” the Fantastic Four.

That has led to Rebirth, which almost everyone agrees is the most successful relaunch of a comics line, maybe ever. It has been successful in one way that is personal to me. It’s kept me collecting comics. I might have gotten back into comics because of Secret Empire, but DC is the reason I’m still here. I’m enjoying nearly every story that I read from them. They have some of my favorite writers and artist working for them. Things right now are just really good.

My Future with DC Comics

I think I’ve made the point that I think that Rebirth has be overwhelmingly successful. It’s given me reason to keep buying comics and unlike previous times that I’ve gotten back into collecting, I have reasons to stay. First, DC Comics are really good right now. Secondly, the Rebirth reboot has given me a focus to the collecting. I might never be able to collect all 1000 Action comics, but there’s nothing preventing me from collecting the ones from the start of Rebirth. Finally, my kids are showing an interest in comics. Similar to my other hobbies, they are much more enjoyable when I can share with them.

In case you haven’t read my previous article, I’m much more optimistic about the future of DC Comics than Marvel right now. Chris and I have talked and I realize that the market is cyclical. Any time you have competitors, they generally take turns at the top. Right now is DC’s turn to be at the top. Thing is, I don’t see Marvel making the moves necessary to even compete, let alone make a run for that number 1 spot.

Speaking of #1, I just realized that they’re killing the Incredible Hulk line to make room for this one. Hulk has been so mistreated recently.

The one thing that worries me is that DC has given into market pressure and they’re raising some cover prices. While that might have been inevitable and that’s just what they believe the market can bear, it’s not an encouraging sign. I know I’m an old man who refuses to come into the present when it comes to game and book prices, but this is one thing that I truly can’t understand. Maybe I’m looking at it the wrong way. In addition to just getting with the times, I need to realize that this isn’t just a “32 page” book as I’ve said in the past. This is, often, a great story with accompanying art that should be appreciated. Besides, thanks to Chris, I now realize that only chumps pay full cover price.

State of Marvel Comics

Chris and I recorded a pilot for a new show this weekend about comics. In the episode, we mostly talked about our history with comics. For future episodes, we hope to discuss titles, possibly eras of comics (we both stubbornly still like the 1990s in spite of all the flaws), and of course the big two, DC and Marvel. I hope to take the lead in that last topic this week by writing a couple of article about the states, as I understand them,  of our favorite (or maybe just favorite to hate since this is is the age of internet trolling) comic book companies.

As a consequence of that parenthetical, I will lay some ground rules. Do arguments about politics in comic books excite you? You’ve come to the wrong place. If you want analysis of current trends and what they might mean for future decisions, look elsewhere. What about deep financial insight into the industry? I can’t provide that. What I can do is give you one fan’s opinion of Marvel Comics and how likely it is that I’ll continue to collect them beyond the ones that I consider necessary. For those keeping score, that’s Spider-Man and Hulk.

And, if Marvel ever wants to take all of my money, Spider-Hulk!

The State of Marvel Comics (as I see it)

Chris and I touched on this a bit during the podcast episode, but we didn’t dig too deeply this time. I don’t want to step too much over that conversation here. However, I know that in text conversation, we’ve both discussed our concern about Marvel Comics and that one of the episodes of the comics podcast will revolve around our thoughts concerning the company. My main problem with comics generally, and Marvel comics specifically, is cover price. As that is something that I can’t do anything about and Marvel has repeatedly said they won’t do anything about, I will leave that point for the next section.

Another topic of conversation between Chris and I has been the “reboots”. I was on board with Secret Empire story line. In fact, it was that story that got me to start collecting again. I was even with the for their “Legacy” reboot. Heck, I though, it worked for DC Comics with “Rebirth”, so why not try it. I just saw earlier this year (and it is reflected by the books being posted on my pull list) that they have another reboot planned.

Again, this is not entirely without precedent. After their Infinite Crisis event, DC launched the New 52. I have no idea if this was the plan the entire time or not, but those titles only had 52 issues and then led right into Rebirth. Also, this article isn’t about DC. That article is coming either tomorrow or Friday.

New 52 also introduced me to the dream team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, so I’m willing to give it a pass.

Back to Marvel, the rebooting titles soon after a reboot has happened before. Furthermore, it has been successful. However, and this is what bothers me slightly about it, now that I think about it, the new 52 into Rebirth makes sense as a planned event. This move by Marvel feels more like the panicky decision of people who have run out of ideas.

My future with Marvel Comics

First, let’s address the topic of cover prices. I already said that nothing is most likely going to be done about it. So, why bring it up? Well, they are the main reason that I took my most recent break from comics. I was fully ready to just let them be a part of my past with maybe the occasional visit to a flea market, convention, or dollar bin. Then, Chris convinced me to try Midtown because they offer cheap cover prices. He then found out about DCBS and their prices are even lower. Cover prices shall no more be a gate beyond which I can’t pass.

Because, DC might be drawing some cool things, but this line is no longer one of them.

It’s still too early in the process for me to know if the rebooting a reboot will work out for Marvel as it seems to have for DC. I will say that I’m keeping an open mind about it. If, in fact, it is a plan to remove some of the messiness of recent story lines and streamline their line up, then I’ll happily eat my words. I did say to Chris a few weeks ago that I was combing through archives of the page and found an article bashing DC for what Marvel is doing right now, so things can definitely change. I will finish with this. For the first time ever, as one of the most unabashed Marvel zombies out there, I have more DC titles on my pull list than Marvel.

Hearthstone Road Trip: Destination Witchwood

Introduction

It’s that time of year again. Blizzard has released a new expansion for Hearthstone. I did a quick preview of the set about a month ago when it was announced. Before that, I wrote a bit about the new things that we could expect with the new season. You don’t have to read either of those to understand what’s going on in this article, but it would be great if you did!

One of the rumors about the new set was that it would take place in Duskwood. I said at the time that I didn’t exactly get a Duskwood vibe from the design of the set teaser and that has proven true. However, I do give you some credit, internet. You did get the woods part right. Just the wrong bunch of trees. Also, whoever first posited that the “Year of the Raven” was going to involve dark and spooky themes, I say “Kudos to you!”

And a hearty high five on top!

I already talked about the new mechanics in my previous article. Echo is fun, but so far I don’t think there’s anything that is truly broken (yet, more on that later). Rush is much preferred to charge as that mechanic will hopefully become Wild only over time. Granted, there are classic cards with charge on them, but good old Blizzard could just send them to the Hall of Fame or easily change the wording on the cards. Even and Odd decks are cute and I think there might be something to Odd quest warrior. In addition, odd paladin makes that class even more annoying to play against. But, that’s not really our thing here, so on to what we do best. Playing games and having fun.

The Cards

Neutral

This isn’t necessarily a keyword, so it wasn’t covered in the preview. It also came as a bit of a surprise when I saw it as I hadn’t been watching the spoilers for this set very closely. But, I like the mechanic of this card. It isn’t the only one that swaps attack and health each turn that it is in your hand. It is just the one that I have seen used and used myself most effectively. It’s relatively cheap and can remove big stuff right away if it is in 6/2 mode. All in all, an interesting addition to the game.

Honorable Mention

A 3-mana removal spell in this meta? Only bad thing is that if you aren’t able to target it (with hero power or other cheap spell), the opponent can silence it. Still, playing it just to frustrate your opponent and make them check the history to see what was just played against them makes it all worth it.

Druid

Naturally, this card makes me think of Twilight Drake. For one more mana, it has taunt. Both of those points are relevant. As soon as I saw this card and a few of the other new cards, I started thinking about a druid odd taunt deck. I’ve heard rumblings about such a deck existing, but I have no idea if it is actually any good. Then again, I’ve never cared too much about winning. I just want to have fun with the game.

Honorable Mention

She’s five mana and can be played in my Odd Taunt Druid deck that I’m trying to make happen. Also, and this isn’t relevant to that deck. But,A� if you can get her to stick, you could play Ultimate Infestation, then Kun, and then another Ultimate Infestation all in one turn. I don’t know how practical that is, but it sure would be fun to watch.

Hunter

This is the kind of card that I love. On first look, it looks great. Upon further inspection, it looks pretty terrible. Upon even further inspection, it settles into a decent situational card. You can use it to make an army of 4/4 minions with rush or even charge. You can use it to attempt to blow your opponent out of the water with a whole bunch of 9/8 lions that leave 2/2 hyenas in their wake (if they ever die). It’s just a potentially wacky card.

Honorable Mention

I know what you’re thinking. That’s a terrible card. And you’re right. It is an awful card. But, look at that! A 6/6 rat?! That thing’s huge!

Mage

I am bit biased towards this card because it is the gift legendary that I’ve gotten on two of my accounts so far. Moreover, I’ve been able to play it a few times. Once I got Aya Blackpaw and another time I got Stalagg (or was it Fuegen?). Stay tuned for more! I could steal this card with Rogue, play it, Shadowstep it, play it again, and get both of them for the meme Thaddius dream.

Honorable Mention

Similar to a few other cards on the list, this one invokes feelings of another card. It’s a slightly worse improvement on arcane missiles. However, in a meta where everyone is playing 1 and 2 mana cards with only 1 or 2 health, throwing around one mana fireballs seems like a decent thing to be doing.

Paladin

A card that makes Quest Paladin viable! Not really, but I did see someone on low level ranked playing the deck and it ran all over my pile of Mage cards that I’ve been using to try to finish the quest. I have packs upon packs of standard legal cards, but I’m trying to save them to open them for a YouTube video. See, guys I do care. As far as this card, this isn’t an example of a broken Echo card, but it does come pretty close.

Honorable Mention

Hearthstone has bulk rares, too! Just like their big brother Magic the Gathering. The difference here is that you get useful dust from the card in addition to the hollow empty feeling of what the card might have been after opening it from a pack.

Priest

In addition to the earlier “that’s busted, wait that’s terrible, no actually that’s a decent situationally” card that I mentioned above, this is my other favorite type of card. It’s a card that does new things that we’re not used to in the game. Like the other type of card, it might just be terrible. Then again, it just might be brilliant and it hasn’t found where it wants to be yet. I can’t wait to find out.

Honorable Mention

This was a toss up between Squashling (but I didn’t want to mention two Echo cards back to back like this), Quartz Elemental (which could be fun in an Inner Fire deck, but ultimately isn’t all that interesting), and this card. Other than those reasons above, I chose this card because I like the Priest theme of using your opponent’s cards against them. Sure, rogue has those cards, too, but rogues are thieves on the outside. This confirms my suspicions that any priest in any fantasy setting is secretly a thief.

Rogue

Not a good card, but it is a Legendary minion that you can play multiple times in a turn (at least 3 on turn 10 and maybe more given coins), and it gives you a body and a card every time. Hearthstone understands that if they can’t give us great cards every time, at least they can give us fun cards.

Honorable Mention

This was a tough one and for the opposite reason of the priest honorable mention section. That one had too many good cards to choose. Rogue got some really awful cards in this expansion. I suppose that’s to be expected since they got Kingsbane last time and that card bordered on completely busted. As far as Tess goes, she doesn’t make Thief Rogue viable, but she does make it fun, in that unnerving Yogg kind of way that we all love.

Shaman

In Knights of the Frozen Throne, we got new hero cards for all of the classes. This hearkened back to the old WoW TCG where you got to choose your hero for your deck. This time, we just get poor old Hagatha. She’s got a decent battlecry, and a passive battlecry (which is always cool), but it pales in comparison to Valeera’s DK power. I choose cards because they are unique, not because they’re good.

Honorable Mention

What if they had made this 1 mana and given it Echo? Would it have been the broken Echo card that I know is coming sooner or later? I don’t think so, but we are definitely getting closer to it. What if it is still the exact same, but with Echo? That’s pretty broken, but you do potentially sacrifice your next turn for it. These are the things that keep me up at night.

Warlock

A 7 mana almost guaranteed board clear and you get a 4/4 minion out of it, too? I don’t usually pick good cards (and I might not have here), but this card seems crazy to me. This card is almost guaranteed not to see play because Cubelock seems pretty stable as a deck right now. So, nobody will ever suspect when I play this card on them. Muahahahahaha!

Honorable Mention

Another echo card that exists only to annoy your opponent? I’m sensing a bit of a theme here. This is kind of a weird card because it feels more like a Priest card than a Warlock card, but I’ll allow it. It’s just such a stupid and fun card that I could see playing two turns in a row against some silly aggro face deck just to prolong their misery.

Warrior

This isn’t a good card. This isn’t even a fun card. I mean, it has rush and that interesting twist of gaining +3 attack on the turn it’s played. This is maybe a decent Arena card. What gives with this pick? Well, that just goes to show you how terribly Warrior was treated with this expansion. If Rogue was awful, Warrior is off the charts terrible.

Honorable Mention

I seriously cannot come up with another Warrior card for honorable mention. This is not me trying to be cute or provocative. The Warrior cards are that bad. If you haven’t seen them yet and don’t believe me, just go look. There’s nothing good, nor interesting, nor fun. It’s just a pile of frightening garbage.

Shudderwock

You may have been surprised to not have seen this card in the Shaman section. It’s a crazy card that does crazy things. Seems like it would be my kind of card and I’d have been able to find some place for it. Well, I did. As with any new Hearthstone expansion, there is a busted card with busted interaction that makes a deck that does ridiculous things. This one is no different.

I had heard rumbling about this deck and how stupid and noninteractive it was. I played against it once and it seemed weird, but not overpowered. Then, I decided to do something that I haven’t ever done. I took all of my dust and I crafted the cards necessary to create the deck. Playing it only once was enough for me to see that it is the special kind of stupid that Hearthstone can be known for. I misplayed the deck and I was still able to win because the card is so silly. It just becomes an almost infinite series of interactions that can’t be countered by the opponent, not even by conceding. I have a feeling that something might be done about this card soon.

The Verdict

There are some decent cards in this set. There are also some possibly fun cards that might inspire me to make a few decks to try out during the season. Other than that, there isn’t much here. Overall, the set is quite disappointing and while it might change the meta a bit and bring back some old deck archetypes, I don’t see there being huge changes overall.

The few streams that I’ve been able to watch this week verify that. Kingsbane Rogue is gone and Druid is more of a taunt variety. However,Cube and Control Warlock still seem to be a big part of the meta along with different varieties of aggro Paladin and I don’t see those going away any time soon.

First Impressions of MTG Arena

Introduction

I used to be invited early to beta tests for new games. I invested a couple of times in somewhat top of the line gaming laptop computers, so I had the specs that game designers coveted. Test the game in the highest resolution with the highest FPS, and really put it through the paces. Since all of those computers have met with tragic ends after only months of use, I’ve gotten smarter and gone with a budget laptop that will allow me to do the bare minimum as far as gaming goes and is more focused on work. I can get a better gaming desktop for cheaper and I won’t be carrying that everywhere I go, so less of a chance of it falling down the stairs or being run over.

Still, with the recent push to mobile gaming, for many games specs aren’t as important. Either that, or it is later in the beta invites for MTG: Arena. Because, somewhat surprising, I received a closed beta invite to the game sometime last week. I do know that they were attempting to do a stress test on their servers, so maybe they just did a flood of invites. Whatever the reason, and for better or worse, I’m in the game.

The Good

Regular readers of the page know that one of my saying that has become cliche is that I say “It’s….” followed by some game as explanation for why something is good or bad. I almost always follow it up with some explanation, but at this point I feel like it is expected, so at the risk of being hack writer guy, I’ll start there. MTG: Arena is good because, well, it’s Magic the Gathering. Sort of. That’s not to say that there are elements of the game missing.

Before you ask, no Force of Will and, especially no Storm Crow (yet)…

Everything that makes Magic unique among card games and separates it from Hearthstone, the main digital card competitor, is there. I worried when I first saw the game that they were trying to make it too much like Hearthstone. They did…sort of. More on that later. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve grown accustomed to Hearthstone. I wouldn’t say that I enjoy it (not all of the time), but it can be a fun diversion.

It’s just that Magic is different and it always has been. One of the things that I don’t like about Hearthstone is that there is no interaction between players, really. You interact with your opponent’s minions and occasionally throw a fireball or pyroblast at their face, but you can’t interact or interrupt their turn other than secret cards and those aren’t targeted.

I’m here to report that the turn structure is still there. There are still two main phases, a combat phase that allows you to choose attackers and defenders, and an upkeep and cleanup. Those last two aren’t defined by the game. They happen automatically. Through it all, the game still has instant spells that you can cast at any time, even during your opponents turn.

Glory, glory, say blue mages. Draw, go, is a viable strategy in this new Arena.

I saw someone on Twitter say that the game is barely Duels 2.0. Maybe it is because I never played that particular game other than against the AI, but I don’t have that same impression. Sure, Arena is similar in many ways to Duels, but Arena feels meatier. It felt more like playing Magic the Gathering than Duels ever did. That’s what I like about it and that’s what will keep me playing. It’s not perfect, though, not by any stretch.

The Bad

I mentioned earlier that when I first saw screenshots for the game, I worried that they were taking too many cues from Hearthstone. Once, during a conversation with Chris, I even confused him by calling it MTG: The Hearthstone Update. It’s virtually impossible to get into digital card games without being compared to Hearthstone in some form or fashion, even for a 25 year old game like Magic. Hearthstone is just king of the hill of digital card games.

They definitely took clues from Hearthstone. There is an emote system that is set up almost exactly like Hearthstone’s. The backgrounds, while not yet interactive, have a similar feel and vibe to the tables that Hearthstone has. Aesthetically, my brain couldn’t figure out if I was playing Magic or Hearthstone because the look of the games is so similar.

See for yourself…

Additionally, the cards have animations and sounds. I understand that they need to separate this property from the more serious MTGO and that they’re trying to grab some money from players who only play Hearthstone. It’s a strange dynamic that MtG players will often cross over into Hearthstone, but there has yet to be many prominent Hearthstone players who have become competitive MtG players. So, I get it. They just seem to be trying a little bit too hard to emulate what they think makes Hearthstone different instead of highlighting what Magic does well.

The Ugly

Right now, the only mode that is offered is Standard. That’s it. I get that it is going to take them time to program all of the interactions of older cards and who knows how long something like that can take. However, there’s no draft mode, which is odd. There’s no commander and I don’t even see any indication that they’re going to update with the new Brawl mode that is being introduced with Dominaria. Come to think of it, I didn’t even see any mention of Dominaria in the game, either. Maybe I overlooked it. I will look again when I play.

First, if they want this to be viable as a Magic product, it has to update with or very close to new set releases. Nobody is going to play last year’s standard when this year’s standard will be available in paper and on MTGO. Secondly, as a fan of limited and eternal formats, standard only is not going to keep me entertained or engaged for very long. They could find themselves with another dead digital property on their hands.

…and not so shiny objects, and shiny non objects…let’s face it. I’m easily distracted by… well, easily distracted covers it.

The Verdict

This mish mash of Magic and Hearthstone is a little bit too much Hearthstone and not quite enough Magic the Gathering for me right now. As I said, I enjoy Hearthstone, but I don’t want it in my Magic. Those aren’t two great tastes that taste great together. Once upon a time, Chris and I experimented with a Hearthstone “rules” Magic the Gathering where you play from a mana deck each turn. It was supposed to remove mana flood and screw, which are two things that we (and many players) hate about the game. It did, but it wasn’t Magic, so we haven’t done it since.

Perhaps it will take some time and since it is closed beta, they aren’t at a finished product yet. Maybe with more games, more cards, more opponents the game will grow on me and it will become part of my regular rotation. After all, it took several years and many hundreds of games before I accepted Hearthstone as part of my daily gaming routine. MtG: Arena might just be on that trajectory.

I did say to Chris that this game seems to be their answer to Hearthstone. When I downloaded the client in anticipation of my beta invite, it was very small. So, not only have theyA� made it look and feel like Hearthstone, they have optimized it for mobile. So, I suppose that this parting statement sums up my feelings about the game. Again, to Chris, “If they do port it to mobile, I’d probably play it over Hearthstone.”

My 2 Cents on Penny Dreadful

(Editor’s Note: It’s been a while since I’ve done a terrible pun for a title and one of these editor’s notes. Just a little bit of nostalgia on this Friday morning.)

Introduction

I am always on the lookout for new ways to play Magic the Gathering. I’m not much of a competitive player, though I will join the occasional draft online and have even considered going to one of our LGS for actual human interaction while doing so. The thing keeping me from doing so now is that I’ve taken on another job and work 16 hours a day in addition to writing for the page and now releasing videos and podcasts. Don’t worry about me, dear reader, I do it all out of love.

When I first heard about Commander, right around the time I was opening my Return to Ravnica product, I pulled a Vorel of the Hull Clade. While not much of a Spike, this confluence of events opened part of my brain that I don’t often visit. This card, so cheap, 99 other cards, the evolve mechanic, blue mana, green creatures…oh my. You could probably abuse this card terribly in that format. I did stick to my not so Spikey roots because I didn’t go in search of Legacy and Vintage legal cards that would break it completely, but I did put in every evolve creature and proliferate card that I could find. I considered a doubling season, but they were too expensive. Chris and I played a game and I blew him out pretty convincingly.

One of the few times I’ve played competitive Magic against actual people, I learned about Tiny Leaders. While Vorel would make quite the Tiny Leader as well, I instead focused on the new hotness at the time, Khans of Tarkir and M15. I made two decks, a warrior focused deck with Alesha as my commander and a green “sort of” ramp style deck with Yisan, the wandering bard. Both decks are fun to play and given more time, money, and opportunity to play them against people, I might tune them a bit better.

More recently, I heard about a format called Penny Dreadful. It was sold as “not really dreadful, actually a lot of fun”. Easily persuaded by such salesmanship, I went on a search for this particular format. Magic the Gathering? With cards that only cost a penny? Less than a dollar for each deck? This sounds like my kind of format.

Wait, what? Only a penny?

Technically, it is all cards that are listed on MTGO for 0.01 tix at the release of a new set. The format isn’t standard, but the price list is determined using the release of a new set. While that might seem limiting because, it is by definition limiting, there are still a ton of cards available in the format. By the count on the following list, there are almost 10000 available cards.

There are old cards. Yes, as far back as alpha! There are new cards. As mentioned above, the list gets updated with the release of a new set and Rivals of Ixalan is in there. There are cards of all rarities, even Mythics. There are legendary creatures. There are Atogs. There are slivers. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there are any planeswalkers. But, there is such a wide variety of cards that you’d be hard pressed not to find a deck that you would enjoy playing. And, at less than a dollar (really, less than 50 cents probably), who cares if you don’t like the deck.

There’s even fake delver!

Ashiok is only a penny?

As I quickly learned, you have to be careful with the search terms at the Scryfall page. I clicked the link that took me to the Penny Dreadful list and then proceeded to just press buttons, thinking that it would keep the format while searching for cards of those colors and type. This led to a confused, though brief, conversation with Chris because I looked for UB initially and Ashiok showed up as one of the cards. I know that Ashiok isn’t played very much, but only a penny? No, turns out ol’ Ash is 4 dollars and, alas, not legal in our poor man’s pauper.

As an aside, if you are searching for anything and want to verify if it is legal in Penny Dreadful, you need to include the f:pd search term in your search. Maybe you are more internet savvy than this old man, but if you aren’t, that’s just a little PSA for you.

Okay, back to the cards that are legal. As I was doing the searches and listing all of the cool card types that were legal, my brain started doing it’s thing where it combines two things that may not be completely related. With Legendaries, we could have Penny Commander. Since there is such a wide variety of cards, why not Penny cube? I’m sure all of these things have already been done, but my mind boggled with the possibilities.

Zombies Reincarnated?

One of the first decks I ever built after getting back into the game was one to counter a deck that Chris pounded myA� face in with during our previous meeting. He had a life gain deck that outraced whatever I had played and I tried to think of a way to get to him without attacking his life total. As I researched ways to win the game, my devious plan began to take shape. Go ahead, Chris, gain all the life you want. I’m going to eat your library.

That deck is posted here. I won’t vouch for the competitiveness of the deck or even that it is any good at all. As I said, I built it several years ago. While my deck building prowess might not be that much more advanced now, it was almost nonexistent then. Still, for some reason, when faced with this new format, I searched blue/black first. Many of the cards that showed up in the search were those cards that I used way back when. This deck might not be viable in any actual format, but against other dollar store decks? Hmm, I wonder. Plus, as I mentioned before, it’s less than a dollar to build!

Stay Tuned…

I haven’t actually built or tested the deck yet. But, I have a vague idea and plenty of time over the weekend to search through cards, find potential combos, and attempt to make my fellow Magic the Gathering players miserable. Because, as we all know, Magic is terrible as a two player game, but solitaire, it can be a lot of fun. I should be back within a week or two to report whether the format, as promised, “isn’t dreadful at all”.

Feeling a Draft (RIX, RIX, IXN – 4/1/2018)

Introduction

A couple of days ago, I got inspired to go online and do a Magic the Gathering draft. I wish that I had taken notes, because after I realized that it would have made a great article. I still think, even without notes, that I can make it into a decent article. Instead of getting into the weeds too much, I can just talk about some general “ideas” that came from the experience. Hopefully, in the future, I will keep better notes and I can refine my writing to more accurately reflect my thoughts during the draft.

One of the things I do remember is that early in the draft, I texted Chris and said, “I’m drafting and I’ve gotten all of the vampires and cleansing rays.” He asked if it was standard. I replied that it was and he said, “Well, you’ve already won.” I agreed and it turned out to be true. I won the first match, though it was closer than anticipated, took a bye match 2, and then had to drop because Easter plans with the in laws loomed. Therefore, we unfortunately don’t know the ultimate fate of this deck, but I’m just going to live in the fantasy that I went easy 3-0 and collected my “no prize”.

I’ve never actually won a no prize. By extension, does that mean that I’ve actually won?

P1P1 – Snap Pick Bishop of Rebirth

Oh man, how lucky am I? First pack, I opened a Bishop of Rebirth. When I did a two man draft against Chris, we opened this card. I hadn’t anticipated at the time that it could be a bomb. Having somehow drafted it and played it against him, I now see that it very much is and can change the tide of a game very quickly.A� Of course I’m going to pick that one first and then worry about the rest later.

3-0, here I come. This Bishop of Rebirth is going to…wait, what is this? As you can see from the picture above, that’s not Bishop of Rebirth. That’s Bishop of Binding. It’s not a terrible card, but is definitely isn’t Bishop of Rebirth. Oh, crap.

Remainder of Pack One

So, what do you do when the bomb you thought you drafted turns out to just be Mentos and Coke? Well, if you are me, apparently, you just draft vampires. Seriously. I started down that route and realized about halfway through the pack that vampires were wide open. Not only that, but I did a test to see if anyone else was paying attention. I saw a Cleansing Ray early int the pack and thought about picking it to protect my vamps, but there was another card that I wanted, so I went with that.

Much to my surprise, the Cleansing Ray came back around. I definitely took it that time because now it was the end of the pack. What is going on with this draft, I wondered? Vampires are wide open and Cleansing Rays are not being drafted. Clearly, my opponents are not paying attention or they are focused on other strategies. I guess we’ll see.

Come to me, Ugly. You will not show up later on in these matches to destroy me.

Packs Two and Three

I just continued to draft vampires. I was also at the point where I just hate drafted every single Cleansing Ray that I saw (there were a total of five that I drafted). I think it was after the third ray that I texted Chris and we had our conversation. I ended up with 3 Conquistadors, a Legion Lieutenant, a couple of Oathsworn dudes, one or two Queen’s Commissions and other ways to make tokens for lifelink and a way to bring back the Oathsworn dudes, a Skymarcher Aspirant, and those are just the cards that I can remember 4 days out. Plus, I was able to get some removal. It really was a beautiful deck and I wish that I had been able to get a screenshot of it.

The Match

As I already mentioned, I was only able to play one match because I got a bye Round 2 and had to drop Round 3. The match wasn’t as much of a runaway as I anticipated. Game 1, I got the Legion Lieutenant to stick late in the game and finally ran him over. He was able to remove my only fliers in game 2 and stick one or two of his own for the win there.

He also removed my lieutenant early in game 3, but I was able to neuter his fliers effectively and control his ground game enough to hold on until I could give another one of my vampires flying and get through his blockers for the win. It was intense and I almost timed out, but felt good to get back into drafting.

The Verdict

Guess who’s back? Back again?

While I had a miserable experience drafting the latest Masters set, which Chris and I talked about on the podcast this past week, this draft went much better. I may be playing the results a bit here, but I think that I’m going to continue to draft in Ixalan for the next few weeks until Dominaria starts and then I can’t wait to see what experience that set provides in terms of drafting. It’s probably my favorite (and most accessible for me) way of playing the game and I’m glad that Wizards continues to support it in a big way.

Welcome Back?

Introduction

A few days ago, as we tend to do every now and then, Chris and I were talking about comics. This is only newsworthy because I haven’t been reading them for the last 6 months or so. You may remember last year that I had a 50 dollar a week habit that I had to quit because it was becoming financially untenable. I tried to go the same route as Chris and order from Midtown Comics, but I have been trained by Amazon to not pay anything for shipping and they charge. I then tried an alternate way of getting and reading them, but I didn’t have a good way to do that.

As a result, I have been out of the loop for quite a while. It’s not that I don’t like comics. In fact, I had been enjoying comics more than I had in a long time and more than many other fans seemed to have been enjoying them, Chris included. Oh, he’s solidly in DC’s corner, but has nothing but contempt for Marvel right now. I actually enjoyed most of the books from both companies when I was reading.

I was even in their corner through Secret Empire and Legacy. I may be faltering with their latest reboot of their most recent reboot of their reimagining of their lineup.

While we were talking, he mentioned that the final issue of the Dark Nights Metal series was imminent. I went into the series 100% on board, enjoyed all of the one shot tie in issues, and gave it a chance. However, as you will hear either in the “bonus” section of the podcast, we both got a bit tired of the series and the fact that it seemed to be getting a little out of hand. It isn’t explicitly why I stopped reading, but I did stop reading comics in the middle of the series. Chris assures me that it has gotten better and that I should give it another shot. As a result, in my words to Chris, “I’m acknowledging the existence of comics again.”

Marvel

Being an unabashed Marvel zombie for life (and it appears afterlife), I first checked out a couple of Marvel books. I went with two comics that I had really been enjoying in my most recent comics life, Dr. Strange and Old Man Logan. I don’t remember any of the other titles, but I think that there might have been a Spider-Man title in there and perhaps The Avengers (which Chris says is good). I looked into The Avengers, because I remember it being good before when Mark Waid was writing it and he still is, so it’s probably still a good title.

These guys. Perhaps not so much…

Dr. Strange was, as I said to Chris, Dr. Strange. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad, either. It was what Dr. Strange is supposed to be, I guess, and perhaps speaks to the holding pattern that Marvel comics is, and has been, for a few years now. They have not been able to translate the success of their movies and some of their TV shows into their comics. They keep trying things, but nothing is working.

The reason for this is obvious and both Chris and I have said it several times. It’s easy to get people into the movie theater. Every geek who’s ever gotten a girlfriend and had kids is an automatic audience. I speak from experience. I have taken my girlfriend, now my wife, to many Marvel movies. Now that my kids are getting older, I generally spare her and take them. She wants nothing to do with comic books other than for a while, she was reading Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Now, she just rewatches the shows with the kids.

All three kids did show an interest in the comics and they would read them after I was finished with them. Though, to be honest, Liam was only reading Secret Empire because he overheard me flippantly saying that Captain America is a Nazi and he’s at the age when he starts to learn about that part of history and was intrigued. Aiden only read Flash comics and much of what I got was too far above Quinn with the violence. But, and this is important, I only ever bought one copy of the books and rarely went out of my way to buy other books that I didn’t want to read.

Are we really going to discuss cover price again? You betcha!

Because, the fact of the matter is that the rate at which I was spending money on comics was absurd. I could not continue to drop that much money every week and I was at a minimum of books that I actually wanted to read. Truth of the matter is that I could have spent twice as much with all of the good content out there. Again, Chris had the idea of Midtown, which I probably should, but I haven’t taken the plunge yet. So, I just stopped buying.

I’m not completely back into comics, but I have taken that first step, so to speak. I think that’s usually in the context of quitting an addiction, but this is one from which I won’t ever be completely free. The other book that I read was Old Man Logan. Chris recommended it through his friend’s words, so I checked it out. This one was better than Dr. Strange and more in line with what I remember from last year when I was reading it. I’m not sure where the story is going, but it has an interesting take on the nature of reality and if it is just planned with no true free will. It’s always a question that has interested me, so I’m willing to keep giving it a read.

DC/Independent

After talking to Chris, I found the archives of one of my now defunct web pages. One of the articles was an article that I could have copied, done a fine and replace of “DC” with “Marvel” and released it as new content. It was during the time of the New 52 content and DC seemed just as rudderless and without direction as Marvel does now. I made the joke that in 3 years, if comics are still around, maybe Marvel will be good again.

Chris contends, and sales figures back him up, that DC is far superior to Marvel right now. I won’t argue that point. I will simply state that as I ease back into comics, I have not read a single DC title over the past two weeks. That is neither an endorsement nor a indictment. It simply is and I want to be intellectually honest about that. I haven’t read any independent books, either, but I hadn’t read nearly as many of them as DC and Marvel before the break.

What Does it all Mean?

Who knows? I should, but I don’t. I don’t have the money for comics. I don’t have the time for comics. I really enjoy comics and want to read them, but when? And, who is paying? I thought I found a way to solve both of those problems, but so far, it hasn’t worked as planned. I guess stay tuned to see if more review are forthcoming.

That, folks, it what we call a teaser.

MtG Road Trip: Destination Dominaria

Introduction

Chris and I got together this weekend via Skype to record the podcast.A� We discussed many things current Magic the Gathering.A� Our two main topics were our thoughts about the Masters 25 set and a preview of Dominaria, the set coming out next month.A� I already talked about my thoughts on Masters 25 and the dilemma I was facing regarding the set.A�A�Spoiler Alert:A� I didn’t buy a box of Masters 25.A� I bought an XBox One instead.

Without stepping too much on our discussion, I did want to do a companion preview piece for Dominaria.A� One of the things that we didn’t touch on too much in the podcast is that the reason we can discuss the set is that there was a huge leak that came out of Wizards of the Coast.A� Initially, we thought that it was all of the cards from the set.A� Now, though, we realize that it is about 150.

If you’re thinking that we aren’t usually ones to speculate knowing only a bit more than half of the cards from the set, you are correct!A� So, what did we talk about for over half an hour?A� Guess you’ll just have to tune into the show to hear it all.

That, folks, it what we call a teaser.

New Format! (Brawl)

One of the most popular formats in the game is Commander.A� If you don’t know what commander is, you choose a legendary creature that becomes your commander.A� You then must build a deck with 99 additional cards.A� The stipulations are that you can have only one copy of each card and all cards must be the same color identity as your commander.

The format is fan created and not officially sanctioned as a competitive format by Wizards.A� Additionally, at least one off shot called Tiny Leaders had grown out of the format.A� These two statements have come to a head with the recent announcement that Wizards is sanctioning a commander type format that was inspired by this set.

The format is called Brawl.A� Similar to commander, you may choose a legendary, your deck can only contain one copy of each card, and the cards must follow your planeswalker color identity.A� Unlike Commander, the cards must be standard legal.A� That adds an interesting new angle to the format that will hopefully bring new players into the game.A� One of the problems with eternal formats is that they are expensive and intimidating for new players.A� By limiting the cards, Wizards is giving players a chance to try something without having to make a huge time and money commitment.

Mechanics

So far, there haven’t been any new mechanics introduced in the set.A� As with most sets, there are recycled mechanics.A� Also, there have been modifications to other keywords and card types that may change the game in new and interesting ways.A� Let’s take a look at both of these in turn.

Kicker – This is an old keyword that allows for an extra effect for more mana.A� Some of my favorite cards in the cube drafts that I’ve done have had kicker and I really enjoy this keyword.A� It makes your opponent have to think more and plan around the additional possibility presented by the kicker.A� In some cases, it is almost like being able to cast two cards but only having to use one card slot in your deck.

For one more mana, you get a more powerful Ball Lightning. For two more mana, you get a permanent Ball Lighting. Still dies to lightning bolt, though.

Hexproof (from quality):A� Normally, hexproof just gives your creature protection from all spells or abilities controlled by your opponent.A� This new variation simply gives your creature hexproof from a something specific.A� The two cards that I first noticed with this on them had Hexproof from a color, which I found interesting because in the past, it has been protection from color, which also prevented you from casting those spells on your creature.

Haha, your opponent can’t dismember him. You can. I mean, if killing your own creatures is your thing.

Legendary Sorceries:A� Legendary has been a keyword in the game since the beginning.A� Traditionally, it has been there to give creatures a special quality, namely that only one of them was allowed to be on the battlefield at one time.A� That birthed the EDH, or Commander, format in which players build decks that are made up of only one copy each card in their deck.A� Now, if you have a legendary creature on the board, you can cast a legendary sorcery, which could potentially have a profound effect.

Or, it could be a weird perversion of an older (and IMO much better) card.

 

Saga Enchantments:A�A�Another introduction to the Magic universe with this set is Saga enchantments.A� Like the old cards that leveled up with mana, the card becomes more powerful as the game progresses.A� Unlike those cards, these enchantments level up automatically during your turn.A� I’ve always liked the idea of being able to change a card during the game while it’s on the battlefield or in your hand.

Morph, flip cards, split cards, and kicker are always mechanics that get me excited about the possibilities.A� Leveling cards take all of this to a new, uh, level (sorry about that).A� It brings one of the things that I enjoy about playing role playing games and brings it into Magic the Gathering.A� It also gives me something to do in my cube drafts when I’m flooding out.A� Nothing but a Joraga Treespeaker and forests in my hand?A� Use that mana to make more mana!

May be wrong, but this seems like it could become a modern or legacy sideboard possibility. (Is that enough qualifiers?)

As a result, I like the idea of Saga cards.A� Just like the legendary sorceries, I have no idea how many (if any) of them are going to be good.A� But, and this is more important to me personally, it looks like some of them will be fun.A� Being mythic, I doubt I’ll pull them from a pack.A� If I do, though, Chris better watch out because I’m going to try to build a deck around it.

The Planeswalkers

Each new set also brings with it new planeswalkers.A� In keeping with the theme of history with this set, we are getting some names that are familiar but that we maybe haven’t thought about for a few years.A� One of them, in particular, is well known and loved.

Jaya Ballard

It’s a red planeswalker that does red things.A� It’s almost as if Wizards wanted to do a Chandra card for this set, but didn’t want to do a Chandra card for this set.A� So, they made this card, named it Jaya instead of Chandra, and called it a day.A� Honestly, though, I’m not the best judge of red cards.A� I just can’t get into that mindset at all.

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

Now, this is more like it.A� As a blue mage through and through, this card speaks to me.A� It draws cards and untaps lands.A� It messes with the opponent’s tempo by removing things but not making it easy to recast them.A� I really like this card and I’d love to build a commander or Brawl deck based around him.

Karn, Scion of Urza

This is the name that I was talking about earlier that was well known and well loved.A� Karn is a modern staple in Tron.A� Personally, this is the first card after having gotten back into the game that I was truly impressed by seeing it played and the powerful effects that it can have on a game.A� Poor, poor Karn.A� As I said to Chris, they couldn’t just reprint the old card, but it feels like they nerfed this poor guy into the ground similar to how Blizzard deals with problematic cards.A� I mean, it’s not terrible.A� Compared with the old card, though, I’m starting to see now how old MtG mages feel when they see updates to older cards.

See You In April!

When Chris first sent me the link to the spoilers for the set, I was a bit underwhelmed.A� Similar to my reaction to M25, I had put big expectations into this set.A� We were going back to the beginning of Magic the Gathering.A� What could that possibly mean?A� Apparently, it means that we are going to be disappointed.A� At least at first glance.A� Then, when I looked at the set again and got to see it through Chris’s eyes, I started to see more potential from the set.A� I’m sufficiently excited.A� I want to draft this set.A� I want to build several Brawl decks.A� And, I want to buy and open some product.A� Come on April!

Hearthstone Road Trip: Destination Witchwood

Introduction

Last week or the week before, I did a quick post about the new season in Hearthstone.A� A few times I said that I refused to speculate myself, but I did mention a rumor that I heard that made sense to me. Someone made the connection between each Hearthstone season and the sorts of sets that we could expect from them.A� Their conclusion was that the Year of the Raven would be one of dark and mystical forces.A� While that part seems to be true with at least the first expansion, that’s the only rumor that has so far been true.

The extension of this thought was that Hearthstone might be travelling to the World of Warcraft zone Duskwood.A� I had my suspicions that wasn’t true that I wrote in the article.A� Admittedly, my only evidence for my theory was that the gem in the center of the card just didn’t put off much of a Duskwood vibe.A� Still, I’ll take a victory lap when I get something right.

Enjoy them.

Instead, we are going to a forest in (near?) Gilneas known as the Witchwood.A� Even having played World of Warcraft obsessively for almost 3 years and then off and on for another 5 or 6, I had to Google Witchwood to make sure that it wasn’t just some Hearthstone version of Duskwood.A� Sometimes Hearthstone adds to or modifies WoW lore in that way.A� They didn’t this time.A� This is honest to goodness WoW lore that they’re using this time, albeit, a somewhat obscure one.

So, what do we know about the Hearthstone version of Witchwood.A� Surprisingly, even though the expansion isn’t due until April and most of the major card reveals are still a week or two away, we know quite a bit from what has been released.A� Let’s explore the spooky forest, shall we?

Even/Odd Decks

One of the things that the Hearthstone team has been consistent is that they want to use Hearthstone to explore ways to make the game unique by doing things with the digital format that you can’t do in paper.A� I mean, I like Magic and I like playing Magic on the computer, but that’s all it is.A� It’s just Magic on the computer.A� Even the new game, Arena, which is supposed to be more user friendly and attract some of the Hearthstone crowd into Magic, is just Magic on the computer with a different wrapper.

That’s not true with Hearthstone.A� Once upon a time, Blizzard did have a paper World of Warcraft TCG and I still enjoy playing it from time to time.A� When Hearthstone came along, they stopped supporting the paper cards.A� I feared that Hearthstone might just become WoW TCG on the computer.A� The fear was initially supported by them recycling card art and mechanics from the game.A� But, the fear was put to rest when Chris tried to make a paper version of Hearthstone and found that it would be too bogged down by all of the RNG inherent in Hearthstone.

The point of this all is that the Hearthstone developers have been successful in their attempts to make the Hearthstone experience unique.A� That’s not to say that all of theirA� ideas have worked.A� You need look no further than these cards to realize that.A� As I said to Chris when he asked me about them, “The idea is interesting, but the execution so far is pretty terrible.”

I’m not the only one who thinks so.A� I was watching a streamer the other day who was trying to put together decks for the even and odd cards that had been revealed using the cards that are available in the game so far.A� He made sure to repeat several times that the card pool was incomplete and that there might be cards from the Witchwood expansion that could strengthen the decks.A� But, so far, none of the decks even looked to be fun.A� Certainly none of them would be viable in any competitive format, except maybe the mage deck that used the card that upgrades your hero power at the start of the game.

Mechanics

Echo – I recognized this one from Eternal.A� It doesn’t work exactly like it does in Eternal, but it is has some similarities.A� In Eternal, when you draw a card with Echo, it creates a copy in your hand that you can then cast.A� With Hearthstone, the card is copied when you play it and then you can cast it over and over again.A� For instance, if you had the Phantom Militia card which is the only one to have been spoiled so far, you could cast 3 2/4 taunts on turn 9 or 10.A� Depending on what cards they put the echo mechanic on, it seems like it could be much more broken than the Eternal version.

Rush – The designers have been saying for a few expansions now that they think the charge mechanic was a mistake.A� It really became apparent when Patches the Pirate was such an oppressive card in Standard and they realized that it would most likely continue into Wild.A� There was one other card that had charge but could only attack minions, so they must have taken inspiration from that one for the new mechanic.A� I realize that charge is common to all card games in one form or another, but it is especially annoying in a game like Hearthstone because it is one that is, according to the designers, predicated on board control and trading.A� Rush brings that aspect back to the game while still having minions that attack right away.

Solo Adventures

The release schedule for Hearthstone used to be two sets and an adventure released each cycle.A� I might be wrong about that.A� But, there were adventures released that allowed players who didn’t want to pay money and didn’t play enough to get gold for packs to get dust or cards.A� They did away with adventures recently, which I thought would have a deleterious effect on the game.A� Honestly, as with most decisions, it hasn’t had much of an effect at all that I can see.A� Perhaps those players who relied on them to increase their card collection more than I do would argue otherwise.

They are still releasing adventures.A� It’s just that the focus of them has changed.A� With Kobolds and Catacombs, they put together a solo adventure mode that allowed you to pick one of the established classes and build a deck through randomly offered cards.A� The mode also gave “loot” in the form of additional cards or game effects.A� It is a fun mode, but that’s all it is.A� There are no rewards for defeating all of the encounters and the boss.A� That’s a bit disappointing because even a tiny bit of gold for your first time with each class would be nice to have.A� Oh well, no big deal.

They’ve expanded on this idea with Witchwood.A� It is similar to the Kobolds and Catacombs solo mode in that you fight against a predetermined number of encounters.A� Also, after you defeat an encounter, you get loot cards to improve your deck.A� Where it differs is that youA� choose from one of the four new classes in the above picture instead of the established classes of the game.A� I’m pretty excited about this idea because I generally enjoy the single player modes of card games.

I’ve logged probably twice as much time in Eternal’s single player modes as competitive.A� I’m stuck on an encounter in HEX, but I did enjoy it while I was playing it.A� I don’t spend nearly as much time in the single player mode in Hearthstone compared to the competitive modes, but I do still enjoy playing through this game mode.A� I just want some rewards is all.

The Verdict

I’m not sure what to think about the odd and even decks.A� I like the idea of trying new things.A� But, this idea just seems bad overall.A� The new mechanics are cool.A� Echo seems like it is just waiting for the right card to be abused to a horrifying degree. A�Can’t wait for the first noob to try to point a rush minion at my face and “Whoops” him. A�More of a solo mode that is fun can only be a good thing.A� It also leads to the possibility of even more going forward.A� Stay tuned for the official 2GG preview once all of the cards have been spoiled.