-To buy a box of M25 or not? I wish the spoilers were flowing a little more freely since the boxes are below $200 at the moment and while the thought of possibly pulling a Jace, the Mind Sculptor out of a pack is dancing in my head, it’s not quite enough to make me jump and preorder. My prediction for the big ticket cards in the set: Enemy fetches, Tarmogoyf, Aether Vial, Liliana of the Veil, Wurmcoil Engine, Force of Will, Mana Drain and Crucible of the Worlds.
-The first DLC characters for Dragonball FighterZ have been announced; Borly and Bardoc. Bardoc is Goku’s pops so it’s essentially another Saiyan which is a little disappointing. While I have gushed uncontrollably about the game, I do wish they would bring in some more non-Saiyan characters. On the other hand Borly should be the largest character in the game so it’ll be interesting to see how powerful the character actually is.
-A Japanese bike company (Khodaa-Bloom) designed a really cool Megaman themed bike. It can be yours for the low, low price of $2700 USD. For that price, it better come with a friggin’ Buster Shot on the front.
-Not sure where I’ve been, but somehow I missed the fact that Gamestop managed to swing a deal to have a Secret of Mana remake for the PS4 be a Gamestop exclusive. Interesting to see if this becomes a thing, (i.e. Target gets exclusive games, Walmart gets exclusive games,..).
-Only 59 more days until God of War 4 is released. But who’s counting?
-For all of my Star Wars fans out there, you can preorder the largest Star Wars toy that Hasbro has ever made, Jabba’s Sail Barge, for a mere $499.99! This monstrosity is 4 feet long, a little over a foot wide, and a 1 ½ feet tall, and comes with either divorce papers or a letter from your child expressing their undying love and gratitude. There is a catch, Hasbro will only start production if they get 5,000 preorders by 4/3 (currently, as of this post, they have 1,259 orders). You can place your preorder at www.hasbrolab.com.
-Finally, I want to thank everyone who follows us on Twitter and/or Instagram!
It must be time for another release of Magic’s “Masters” set. Chris and I have started our prerelease ritual of texting one another box prices and our intentions to maybe perhaps think about possibly buying one. I started the conversation yesterday with the news that a local store is taking preorders at a decent price that they will honor until the week before release. I did some research and saw, again, that the box only includes 24 packs. That got me waffling a bit and perhaps thinking that my money was better spent elsewhere. After all, I still have to buy my Rivals of Ixalan sealed product.
We went back and forth, initially agreeing that it was a silly idea for either of us to buy a box. I suggested going in half and splitting one, though honestly neither of us was terribly receptive to that idea. Conversation turned to my van “Check Engine” light, which is a big deal in my life right now. I’m driving around with a rejected inspection sticker and looking over my shoulder like I was driving the getaway car in Baby Driver.
Then, as I was in my class, Chris texts me with a link to a place selling them for an even better price, but he was under the impression that it was only in bulk and that you’d have to buy a case of them. While that was true for the price he quoted, there was a slightly higher price for non bulk orders. He and I both agreed that we wouldn’t find a better price than that and stamped “SOLD” across the post in big, red letters. Even so, I’m still having second thoughts. Look, I get that this is one of most first world of all first world problems. But, I imagine that some of you out there might be having the same issue and it always helps to talk things out. Hopefully, by the end, I’ll arrive at some sort of conclusion.
Jace, the Mind Sculptor – This is the best argument that can be made for the set, especially now that Wizards has decided to let loose the hounds of hell and give Jace another shot of showing just how repressive he can be in Modern. Similar to Black Lotus, I have been obsessed with this card ever since learning of its existence. I mean, come on. It’s blue and it’s Jace.
Early on in my entry back into the game, its name was only whispered in darkened corners and never openly discussed. As I became more familiar with the game and more people argued for the unbanning, I started to wonder why (more than it’s blue and it’s Jace) the card appealed to me so much. Other than the previously mentioned reasons, it’s also 3 of the best blue cards ever printed on one card for only 4 mana. That’s true, but it doesn’t quite capture the essence of why.
Then, a streamer responded to someone in his chat who mentioned the potential that maybe the card could be unbanned from Modern. I told you the conversation has been gaining momentum. He said that he agreed with the banning, which got people going before he even had a chance to explain. That’s what reminded we that we were in Twitch chat and not Socrates discussion circle. On the internet, nobody can hear you, well anything, because they are too busy shouting over you.
His point was that the card was too good. Of course it is. Otherwise, they wouldn’t ban it. But, it was too good in the way that other cards aren’t. See, people lost to Jace, but they would have no idea that they lost to Jace. They would blame this card or that card, all the while neglecting to realize that Jace set all of that into motion 10 turns ago. A light went on in my head and all was made clear. Jace is the ultimate blue card. They’ve tried before and since to distill the essence of what it means to be blue, but this card nailed it. Sneaky good, beats you before you realize it, and then strings you along for a good while after. Just an amazing card design.
I’ve mostly only experienced drafting the Master sets from the outside. I watched streams of the GPs for the Modern Masters set last year, astounded that people were giving the player crap for taking a foil ‘Goyf with his pick. I have drafted a few of the sets, mostly Modern Masters 2015 in xMage since I didn’t know about the sets and especially not their draftability. Since learning of them, the cost of the packs has kept me away. Who wants to pay 30 dollars for cards and then give half of them away?
During one of our conversations when I realized that both Chris and I might end up buying a box of the set, I said, “Plus I could put 6 packs aside for a future draft.” Having had my interest again kindled by the draft that Chris and I did a couple of weeks ago, I’m more than willing to donate a few packs to get a chance to see what we can do with this set and these cards. Since he is a Modern player and I am obsessed with Vintage and Legacy even though I’ve only ever played the formats on xMage, I wonder how that might affect our draft strategy. Stay tuned
After Chris sent me the link of the better price of the boxes, I texted him back, “Maybe this will finally inspire me to do what I’ve always meant to do and just post an unboxing video.” He replied, “Yep, that would most likely get hits.” I agreed, especially if I can get it done on release weekend. As with many things, there are no promises on this front, but we have been good about updating articles and recording podcasts and uploading videos are part of Phase 2 and 3 of our eventual internet takeover.
Not Many Spoilers
We are still relatively early in spoiler season for the set. Other than Jace, we have Azusa, which is a relic of a Modern meta long past and Phyrexian Obliterator, which is fun to draft in cube, but not as much fun as, say, Massacre Wurm or Big Daddy Gris. So, in other words, other than Jace, there is literally nothing else that has me excited about this set yet. Jace is the only thing. It keeps dancing in front of me like some ridiculous dream that will most likely never be realized and yet, I can’t say no.
Sure, there will be other spoilers and some of those cards might actually get me to say, “Wow!” Honestly, though, none of them will be Jace. He’s my man crush Monday. He’s my tweet about this dude I love Tuesday. He’s my Hump Day dream. He’s my…okay, you get the point. Am I just buying this 200 dollar boondoggle simply because of the (I don’t want to do math, so here comes a made up statistic) one out of a thousand chance that I am blessed with one of the boxes that contains Jace? Maybe….
Because these sets are designed to be drafted, Wizards can’t make every card a bomb rare or mythic. For every Jace, there are (another made up stat because it’s Friday) about 3 dozen Waxmane Bakus. While they are cool when you are trying to put together a sweet spirit deck in your draft pool, they are miserable to continue to pull from packs that cost twice as much as any other Magic the Gathering pack.
As I said before, in the pantheon of first world problems, this is one of the first worldest. Nevertheless, it is not one that I’ve gone through before. Since these sets generally come at a time when I’m either on break or having just gotten off break, I’ve never actually had the money before to spend. Now that I have the money to spend, I have to figure out if I’m really going to spend it.
If I was truly thinking with my head and going over the Pros and Cons list that I just made, I think that I’d come to the conclusion that is isn’t worth the extra money. However, when it comes to games and gaming, I rarely think with my head. Most of the time, I go with what my gut or heart tells me and that’s telling me to stop being such a weiner and just preorder the box.
There’s a tiny chance that I can pull a Jace or some other really cool card from the box, which will make for great video. Sure, there’s also the chance that I might end up with a whole bunch of garbage, but that can happen with any box of cards and has never stopped me before, even when I was spending 200 on old boxes of Phyrexia and such. Chris and I have been really into drafting lately and I want to see what this set would look like in one of our two man drafts. So, let’s listen to the old heart and stop being such a weiner.
Hey gang! Today I wanted to share my take on a MTG Modern format mainstay, Bogles. Since I’m a cheap gamer, this is a budget-conscious version that cuts several of the more expensive pieces of a typical Bogles deck. Gone are the fetchlands and Horizon Canopy ($60 a piece?!), and they have been replaced with cheaper, but still reliable, mana options. I’ve also added in a couple copies of Sram, Senior Edificer which I’ve found to be a really useful piece that not many people run in other Bogles decks. Since this deck is essentially all aura spells, his ability to draw a card every time you play an Aura will help you find the cards you are looking for. So what do you do with those Auras? Well you play them on your hexproof creatures early and pump them up, since your opponent can’t target them individually it’s hard to deal with them. I’m aware that the lands I’ve added in to replace the fetches are painlands as well as City of Brass and Mana Confluence which will drain your life after awhile. Fortunately, with Daybreak Coronet, its really easy to regain that life. I’ve had really great results with this budget version and highly recommend that you give it a shot.
I mentioned in a previous article that the 2 Guys Gaming got together this past weekend. We played some of the old X-Men arcade title on Chris’s new Christmas present, the Pandora’s Boxx. We played about a dozen matches of Dragonball FighterZ. In fact, that’s what the last article was about. We also talked about playing some Magic the Gathering. Well, neither of us has a deck that has been updated (or even tuned) for a couple of months, so we’d have to figure something else out.
Inspired by this impending get together and with 20 dollars burning a hole in my pocket, I went to Wal*Mart to grab four packs of the latest MTG set. I figured I could combine them with two packs from my Ixalan fat pack (I’ll never get used to calling it a bundle) so that Chris and I could do a 2 player draft draft. What the heck. It had to go better than my disastrous xMage cube draft that I tried.
I also took the opportunity to open the rest of the packs from the fat pack. I have to admit that it was a weird feeling. For no particular reason, I had been hoarding them plus the packs from my booster box since I bought them months ago. I didn’t get anything worth value. Certainly nothing along the lines of the shiny Chandra that I opened from that set and promptly sold on eBay for 75 dollars. I got a new Vraska and a Wakening Suns Avatar in the last pack. So, a couple of fun cards that maybe I’ll do something with eventually.
I thought the format we were using was Winchester, but apparently it isn’t. It is a variation of that, too. I can’t remember where I found it, so I will just briefly describe it here. We shuffle all of the packs together, put them in a pile between us, and one person starts by dealing out 3 cards face up and one card face down. The person who didn’t deal picks one card, the person who did deal picks two, and the last goes to the person who didn’t deal. Continue until all cards are drafted. Build a 40 card deck and battle.
The reason that I went with this format was that I couldn’t figure out the math of the Winchester format. It felt like players would end up with different numbers of cards and that didn’t seem to make sense to me. I have not actually tested this theory, so maybe there is balance in the format that I’m not seeing. This format ensures that both players end up with the same size pool from which to build their deck. It does take some of the intrigue away from drafting, but if I’m being perfectly honest, I don’t pay all that much attention to what Chris drafts and what his plan is, so it’s all a surprise to me when it comes to playing the games.
It didn’t feel like there were many bomb rares or mythics in the pool. We did open a Huatli, which is just as bad on paper as I thought it would be when I did my Rivals of Ixalan preview article. While we were drafting, nothing else jumped out at me. I ended up going off board because there were very few blue cards and none of them were really worth drafting and went with Abzan. It was actually more WB with a splash of green for Hunt the Weak and Hardy Veteran. Chris put together a Naya deck with a heavy dinosaur theme. He ended up with Huatli, poor guy.
I said earlier that I didn’t see any bomb rares or mythics. As I was typing my deck into Tapped Out for the screenshot, it immediately recognized what I wasn’t able to see until I drew the card during the second game. Bishop of Rebirth is a draft bomb rare and don’t you forget it. Overall, the deck was good. A little creature heavy for my play style, but once it got cranking with that Bishop, there’s no stopping it. Add in removal for days and it should add up to a win.
So, yeah, about that win. I lost game two to some bad luck. I drew 2 of my three forests before drawing a single plains so that I could play the various white cards that were rotting in my hand. I ran Chris over in game 2 initially with my dorks before he recovered and stabilized. We played at a stale mate for a while until I could get my Bishop of Rebirth on the field and just remove all of his stuff while bringing mine back.
The last game was one of those epic affairs for which we will hopefully eventually become famous. We again went back and forth with me gaining the upper hand and what I thought was a two turn win when I drew my flying creature. He top decked a “pacifism” and I had to play some mind games with him to keep him from killing me for a few turns. I finally got rid of his big ugly and tried to stay alive long enough to get my Bishop out there. After the game, which he eventually won, I saw that the Bishop was two turns away. Oh well, he won this round fair and square.
Until Next Time…
I’m researching some other 2 player draft formats. One thing that we could do is just do a 6 pack sealed match, but I actually prefer the strategy of drafting, even if it doesn’t contain all of the intrigue due to the fact that cards are “known”. There are some other formats that do introduce that the unknown into the draft. Who knows? Maybe we will try one of those formats next time. Then again, we have something that we enjoy, it works for us, and why fix what ain’t broke.
Today, I bring you the latest deck that I’ve enjoyed great success with, Bushwhacker Zoo. Since this is an aggro deck there isn’t much to explain as far as strategy goes. You use Lightning bolt, Lightning Helix, or Bonfire of the Damned to keep the board clean on your opponent’s side and then pump up your zoo with Reckless Bushwhacker and swing for the fences. Pretty simple right? I didn’t include a sideboard list (I usually don’t), but if you twisted my arm and asked me for some good options, I’d say that you’re probably going to want a couple copies of Ash Zealot in case you’re playing Dredge or any other deck that interacts heavily with the graveyard. Also, maybe a couple Deflecting Palms would be helpful in a mirror match or against Eldra-tron. I’d also include a Grim Lavamancer or two just to be able to have extra removal on hand. Finally, Glorybringer is the real deal if the game gets the midrange stages and you need a finisher.
In December, I saw that Board Game Bento was having a sale. In case you don’t know, Board Game Bento is one of those subscriptions services that sends tabletop games every month. I’ve tried a few of the services. Some (the original Minechest and Tinker Crate) have been worth it, while others (Loot Crate and the Loot Crate Minechest) have not endured for longer than the initial shipments. Mostly, unless you like those Pop! vinyl figures, nothing from Loot Crate is worth it in my opinion.
I have seen the various “Bento” subscriptions come across my social media feeds. They have one for comics and another for anime. I have considered the comics one just because I like comics, but I’ve had to stop buying them again. A box of comics/TPB would be welcome. I never bit on it, though.
We play a lot of games as a family. You may remember my article about Ticket to Ride. The boys also like Clue, Stratego, Othello, and Scrabble. I want to teach them Backgammon and chess. Always looking at things through the lens of how it will affect us as a family, that was enough to get me to consider the board game subscription. When they ran the sale, there was little reason not to give it a try.
The first box that I got came with three games. The second box just came (even though I didn’t necessarily want it, so more on that later) and it also had three games. Two of them were board games and the third was a card game. The first game that we played was a board game called Flag Dash. The other game we played was the card game, which was called Water Balloon Washout. The third game, that we didn’t not play yet is called Cottage Garden. I suppose the theme of the box must have been spring or something.
(Note: I am going to go out of order for this particular article and do “The Bad” first. Always lead with the bad. Aside from that, “The Good” references “The Bad”, so it just makes sense.)
As I mentioned, we played Flag Dash first. Quinn wanted to play both that and the Water Balloon game, we had time on Sunday evening, and everyone else was busy. So, I grabbed the game and asked him to play. We sat down, I pulled out the instructions, and started to read. And I read, and I cross referenced, and I read some more. Quinn was getting antsy, so I started to set up the board to get him interested. That required me to read even more.
This is a bad sign. Sure the game recommended 8+ as the age range. But, any game that requires you to spend more than 5 minutes setting it up is not a game meant for children of any age. They simply don’t care about your stupid rules set and interactions. They just want to put their pawns on the board and roll the dice.
That’s the other thing. There aren’t dice in this game. It’s movement cards coupled with something known as a priority card. Basically, you establish turn order according to the priority cards and then move based on the move card. Call me old fashioned, but that is simply overly complicated. Quinn just kept wanting to move, but I had to keep reminding him that we had to establish turn order first. He got frustrated and it almost got to the point where I just put the game away to prevent a Sunday evening meltdown.
I’m not against a priority system. There’s one present in D&D and we spent 4 hours playing that the other day. It’s just that for a game that is supposed to mimic capture the flag, you’d think that they wouldn’t want to interrupt the flow of the game so much. I mean, capture the flag is about running around like crazy people and trying to grab a flag.
In that regard, it is a poor simulation of the game that it supposedly simulates. In other regards, there are just too many damn rules. I have no idea if we even played the game correctly because I just started ignoring the stupid rules and playing more simply. The game moved more smoothly and we finished quickly. Thank goodness because I didn’t want to spend a ton of time on a game that could ruin the last free hours of my weekend.
Granted the game is made for 4 players and we played two with one of them being below the age limit. As a result, we had to both act for two players and that might have bogged the game down. I don’t know. All I know is that this game was not an enjoyable experience and there’s no way I would pay the $17.50 that I saw quoted when I went searching for the game picture earlier.
We played the Water Balloon Washout game second. Okay, now this is more like it. I wish that we would have played it first. It was, by far, the better of the two games. I’ve often read that the best games are ones that don’t have a large rules book. While there might be exceptions, that was certainly the case with these games. Unlike the complicated rules of Flag Dash, the rules of this game were so simple as to be printed on a pamphlet that fit inside of the card box. We were up and playing in no time at all.
Quinn enjoyed this game far more than the other one. He didn’t get a chance to get bored during set up because set up took no time at all. He was able to grasp all of the rules immediately because there weren’t that many. He was able to put together a strategy that allowed him to compete in the game and eventually beat me. It was just a much more well designed game for kids.
This game was also suggested for 8+ and 2-4 players. It scaled much better to only 2. Also, I can’t see why it would be 8+ other than the reading required. Apparently our 6 year old reads at an 8 year old level. I knew that, but I just wanted to write it to brag that my kid is a super genius.
You’d think that with three games and three sections that the last game would go here. It would line up neat and tidy, but we didn’t get a chance to play the last game. It is a board game, though, so hopefully it doesn’t have the rules book similar to Flag Dash. It’s something about building gardens, though, so I doubt that there can be that many rules to placing garden tiles on a board.
No, the ugly of this service is the same as most of these other services. They set you up for autorenewal and you have to go in to the page to actively cancel it and avoid being charged for a second subscription. I only signed up for a month and I thought that I had canceled. Then, the charge appeared in my account again.
What the hell? I wondered. In case you are wondering, no, they aren’t the type of company to charge you without your consent. I had signed up via PayPal and while I had changed my subscription status on the Bento website, I never did so through PayPal, so I got hit with a second charge and a second box. It’s my fault and I could look at it as a positive because now I have a second box to weigh and decide if I want to continue with the service.
One good, one bad, one unplayed. One additional box with three more games to try. Overall, I’m happy with the service, even if it is a bit on the expensive side when it comes to these subscription boxes. It is 50 dollars plus 12 dollars shipping and handling. But, you are getting 3 games. The MSRP of the 3 games in the “Spring” box was 17.50 for Flag Dash, 39.99 for Cottage Garden, and the Water Balloon Washout isn’t commercially available right now. So, just taking the two games into consideration, you are getting almost your money’s worth from the box.
It also introduces new games into a house that sometimes can’t decide what games to play because we’ve played them all multiple times. That’s a service that can’t be given a price. While I haven’t kept the subscription to every service (I just don’t like what Loot Crate has to offer monthly), I do keep the ones that I enjoy and that seems worth it. I can’t say yet whether this one seems worth it, but we did get great enjoyment from one of the games and I’ll be able to make a more informed decision after trying the latest box.
-C’mon UPS, bring me my copy of Dragonball FighterZ. I’m tired of watching all of the gameplay videos on Youtube, I just want to play the friggin’ game!
-Scott Snyder is taking over Justice League after the next Justice League event. How the heck are they going to fit all of the those character in that book with all of those text boxes?! Hah! I kid, I’m sure it’s going to be really good. I’m definitely adding it to my pull list. I am a little confused as he and Greg Capullo kept teasing fans on Twitter about working on a Swamp Thing series. Hopefully that’s something that’s still in the works. I personally think his cerebral style of writing would fit Swamp Thing much better than Justice League but hey, what do I know?
-Speaking of the next Justice League event, it starts up after Dark Nights Metal concludes and during the event the title will be going weekly. Much like the Avengers: No Surrender storyline. Hey, I’m all for more comics and competition is healthy but how about a price break? I would have to think that having an expedited deadline on each book would cause the quality to suffer a bit. Do you really want to spend $20 a month on just The Avengers or even $12 for just the Justice League? I know I don’t.
-Looks like Rivals of Ixalan has lit the fire of 2 Guys Gaming again. This weekend we will have a sealed draft and I’m pretty excited for it. Quite a few cards in the set have my brain churning out some deck lists.
-I know that my random thoughts are supposed to be rapid but something has really bothered me today. Usually I listen to Boston sports radio station WEEI maybe once a day for an hour or so just to see what the topics of the day are. I tuned in this morning just in time for Tom Brady to call in and, in a really restrained way, tell them that he felt disrespected and that he was going to evaluate whether he wanted to continue his weekly interview with them. This was apparently due to a comment that a host, Alex Reimer, had said about his 5 year old daughter. Last Thursday night, after watching the Brady Facebook documentary series, he decided that he would call Brady’s little girl an “annoying little pissant”. Dude. Really? A 5 year old who is just excited about playing a soccer game? What the hell is wrong with you? Of all the things he could have talked about pertaining to the first episode that’s what he came up with? That’s his hot take? No, that’s his cry for attention and notoriety in the world of sports media. My guess is that he wanted to go for “funny” shock value but it ended up ruining his career. Or at least it should. He has since been indefinitely suspended as the big dogs of WEEI tear out their hair since Tom Brady basically flipped them the verbal bird this morning and hung up. Tom Brady is a public figure so he is under the media’s microscope at all times, but to sink to insulting his kid? That crosses a line.
I don’t blame the guy at all, to be honest he probably should have done so a long time ago. The morning guys he talks to are two of the biggest idiots in radio with one of them, Minihane, always going for the hot controversial take in order to keep his name in the papers, keep the ratings up and foster this new culture of shock value that is becoming more pervasive in the halls of WEEI. At this point, the morning show doesn’t even talk about sports, they talk about other journalists, politics, and most of all other hosts of the station. WEEI has turned into nothing more than childish in-fighting between shows with younger hosts saying dumb crap in an attempt to emulate Kirk Minihane. I’m essentially done with the station at this point, let me know when it gets back to sports instead of hosts calling each names and criticizing each other. It reminds me of my days working in a warehouse with each shift claiming to be better than the one before it.
This is the reason why I stopped watching ESPN. I can’t stand Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman, both of which personify all that I can’t stand about sports media. Mindlessly shouting “hot takes” at each other and arguing over each other for an entire show and collecting a paycheck for it doesn’t take talent, it takes the masses approving of this kind of “reporting”. “Hey! Shannon Sharpe and Skip Bayless like to yell and say dumb stuff too! Let’s give them a show!” Good idea Fox! Not that I should expect anything less from you.
Aren’t we better than this people? Do you think these hosts really believe half of the garbage they are spouting? You don’t think it’s fabricated?! Is watching Stephen A. Smith/Max Kellerman trying to form words to eloquently debate their points and shouting them at each other really entertaining? Whatever happened to just reporting the news and reporting it accurately in order to make a name for yourself instead of always going for the hot take that will get your name out there? It seems like having journalistic integrity is no longer important in our society as all of these shows have decent ratings. Apparently I just need to stay away from sports media all together.
I was going to design this deck as a Tron deck but thought that it would be too vulnerable to Ghost Quarter or Spinal Extraction, so I went with a green/white ramp shell and included spells that let you create tokens that get buffed from your Planeswalkers as well as help ramp into Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh, which is a great finisher. Much like Tron, this deck is susceptible to the aforementioned Spinal Extraction. If your opponent removes Oath of Nissa (the key card in the deck), then you can still use Aether Hub, Cryptolith Rite, or Chromatic Lantern to generate any color of mana needed.
2x Cryptolith Rite
4x Oath of Gideon
2x Oath of Nissa
4x Utopia Sprawl
2x Call the Gatewatch
2x Deploy the Gatewatch
2x Attune with Aether
1x Ajani, Caller of the Pride
2x Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
2x Garruk, WildSpeaker
2x Nissa, Vital Force
1x Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh
1x Vraska, Relic Seeker
Way back in September, for the 42nd and 1/3rd time, I lost interest in MTG. Yes. Again. I know, I know, you guys most likely laugh at me and Noob when we proclaim that the game has gotten boring for us only to come back and say that a new set has relit the fire. I’d like to think that’s part of the charm of our website, we are not afraid to share our honest feelings about a game with you guys. We are gamers after all and who hasn’t become bored with a game only to rediscover it at a later point?
I had just bought 10 packs of Ixalan on a whim and joylessly opened them. I kept thinking about what cards in the set I *actually* could use in my various decks and couldn’t name one. Why did I just drop $40 on these packs? I couldn’t answer either question. There was no answer, I was basically on autopilot when I walked into the LGS and threw down my hard earned money. At that point, I realized that there was no point in buying cards anymore. All of my decks were formidable the way they were currently constructed. As I gazed on my boxes of singles stacked up in my closet, I decided that I would pursue a side gig selling on eBay. This worked to a certain extent. I felt like my cards had a purpose again and that purpose was to recoup some of the money I had poured into the hobby.
To my surprise, this actually worked, I easily made a good amount of money back, and quickly to boot. Starting a business only served to increase the sense of apathy towards the MTG. I didn’t see it as a game, but as product. I basically bombed out my entire collection with no regrets. I saved two decks, my green ramp and my storm, (both of which I’ve shared the decklist with you guys), and sold everything else. Why keep those decks? Well, if on the off-chance that someone wanted to play a game or two I wanted to have a couple of the decks that were actually fun to play. More on that later. I didn’t need the rest of my Modern decks because, to a certain extent, my gaming group dissolved. One of the members had a baby so that obviously takes priority over cards and his free time/free money dried up. Two of the other guys had a bit of a falling out so they stopped, and then one of the members, who takes the game very seriously, tried to insinuate that I was cheating during a game we played via Skype. To me, that was a complete turn-off from the game. Cheat? At MTG? During a friendly game no less? Or any game for that matter?! It’s just a game. At that point, the last guy I had to compete with was Shawn, and his free time was at a premium since he teaches and has 3 boys to take care of with his wife, so our nerd nights were few and far in between. The last one we had, we didn’t do any gaming. Instead, we watched Logan and Deadpool and ate calzones, which was just as fun as any other nerd night we had. My decks started to collect dust and I stopped thinking of the game entirely, besides a few texts here or there with Shawn. For me, the game was dead in the water and that was okay to me. It had been a good run and I had made a couple of good friends, as well as had some really fun times.
Fun, there’s that word again. Because that’s the key; I wasn’t having fun playing the game anymore. I hadn’t in a long time. I didn’t know how to put it into words until I was chatting with Shawn yesterday. He used a phrase that summed it up perfectly. “Keeping up with the Jones’s”. That’s been the problem for the last couple of years. Everything I was doing, everything I was buying was to remain competitive in the group. Since they all had Tier 1 Modern decks (Jund, Burn, Death’s Shadow, Elda-Tron,..Etc.), I couldn’t just show up with some wacky tribal deck because I would lose every game. Let’s be honest, no one wants to lose every game, everyone wants to remain competitive to some extent and win as much as possible, the game wouldn’t be fun if you lost all the time. But it’s also not fun when you are worried about building Tier 1 decks that you don’t even really enjoy playing just to rack up a “W” or two. I hated playing Tron, yes, it won quickly, but it just wasn’t fun. Same for Burn. Shawn and I always played really great, evenly matched games. We always had time to hatch our strategies and really enjoy the game without worrying about mistakes. This is because we didn’t play Tier 1 Modern decks. We were strictly kitchen table only..essentially anything goes, we didn’t care about banned/restricted cards. We just played the game. Thinking about it now, I miss those games. I would play with my buddy Phil (re: from the very first article I wrote for this site), and those games were fun too. Somewhere along the way, I had lost the fun. Opening packs. Not fun. Playing Modern games. Not fun. Going to Modern nights. Not fun. It just was something that I was doing just to do it.
I think Ghalta, Primal Hunger from Rivals of Ixalan did it. It got me at least thinking about the game again, and not in a negative way. I had mentioned it to Shawn about a month ago after one of the guys in the old group texted me a pic of it after it was spoiled, but then I forgot about it until Shawn texted me about it a couple of weeks ago. I instantly found myself wanting to add it to my green ramp. The same green ramp that had spent the last few months sitting on a book shelf in my game room. I felt reinvigorated in a way, not as in ”I want to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on booster boxes”, but in a “I wouldn’t mind playing a game or two” way. After chatting with Shawn and talking about just playing kitchen table, (he had mentioned that his boys enjoy Two Headed Giant), I spent some time with the few cards I have left and put together a 3 color Jund energy deck. Hardly the most competitive deck right? Maybe, maybe not, but I think it’s going to be fun to play and finally, after a couple of years, I’ve learned that’s what matters.
P.S Everyone is different and has a different philosophy of the game. I know that some of our loyal readers do enjoy Modern and as that’s the case, I will still be posting budget friendly Modern deck lists for you guys to check out.
Well, it’s that time again. Chris texted a couple of weeks ago saying that his interest in Magic the Gathering was growing once again. I texted back, somewhat jokingly, “Just in time for the new set.” The second set in the Ixalan block, Rivals, is very close to being released. In fact, the prerelease might even be this weekend. Or next weekend. Or it was last weekend. 2 Generations Gaming, always on the cutting edge!
Regardless of when the prerelease happens (It was last weekend. The set releases tomorrow.), it happens during a month when I’m not getting paid. One of these years, I’m going to get smart and just squirrel away 30 bucks for the January set prerelease. Ah, but I digress. As Chris is showing more interest in the game, there are rumblings of the original 2 Guys getting together to game, and I actually played a disastrous game on xMage the other day, now seems like as good a time as any to take a look at these cards and see if I’m going to spend hard earned money on them.
Those of you who read my latest Hearthstone article know that I set my preview of that set up slightly differently from my usual “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” format. I highlighted certain things that I found interesting about the set. Since that seems to work pretty well for a preview, I will continue with that format here.
The Mechanics (Or, What Does “Raid” Mean Again?)
One of the best things about a new Magic set is seeing what new mechanics they are adding to the game and what old ones they are recycling from previous sets. One of the more recent examples has been scry. Scry was a part of the game, but it recently fundamentally changed and became an evergreen for blue mostly. Then, it changed the actual rules of the game by being included in the new mulligan rule. For a player like me who is into the wonkier elements of the game, that was a really cool evolution to watch.
There are still dinosaurs, pirates, merfolk, and vampires from the first set in the block. The recycled mechanics that I can see from glancing at the spoilers are enrage, explore, and raid. Of those, I’m most interested in raid. That one debuted in the Tarkir block and you might think it odd that I’d chose a more aggro mechanic over the other decidedly control oriented ones. I can’t explain it. The heart wants what the heart wants.
The new mechanic for the set is Ascend. According to my research and some 3rd grade reading comprehension, when you control 10 or more permanents, you get the city’s blessing for the rest of the game. This ascension gives some cards that you might play a bonus effect. I’ve mentioned in a couple of my recent articles that I’m glad that Wizards of the Coast is willing to treat Magic the Gathering as a game. I get it that we humans like to make our games into serious competitions that we then discuss in very serious and important terms for hours on end.
However, and Chris and I (and perhaps some of you out there) struggle with this quite a bit, these are just games. We all grew up playing them. Very few of us made any kind of living from them. Now, it seems like every kid with a webcam and a microphone thinks that they are a “pro gamer”. There are leagues forming. It sounds ridiculous and it might be ridiculous, but I imagine people said the same thing about professional baseball, football, basketball, and hockey back when those players were associating and leagues were forming.
The point that I’m finally getting to is that even companies like Wizards of the Coast have gotten into the act by promoting their tournaments on Twitch. So, it’s nice that they haven’t sold out completely to their competitive players. It looked for while, mainly around the Tarkir block, that they might do just that. But, they caught the power creep, backed off, and even started to cater more to the casual crowd. I’m not saying that Ascend won’t be competitive. In fact, they might have designed it exclusively with competition in mind. All I’m saying is that this filthy casual loves the design and I can’t wait to play around with it.
After the mechanics, the next thing that I like to watch out for are the planeswalkers. They aren’t often the best cards in a set, but they are fun cards and they are a different card design from pretty much anything I’ve ever seen in any game. The loyalty mechanic adds new and interesting strategies and even, in some cases, fundamentally change the way the game is played. Plus, it’s just cool to open one of these guys. The planeswalkers in this actual set are new ones. It appears as if they are listening to players who were sick of seeing the old guard of Jace and company.
The first comment on Mythic Spoiler for this card starts, “This card is bad.” It very well might be. In fact, I agree with every point that the comment makes. However, anyone who does any sort of searching on the web page knows that doesn’t matter one bit to me. Is it fun? Again, probably not, but would I still try to build a deck around it if I happened to pull one from a pack? For a third time, no. Pretty picture, though.
Okay, now this is more like it. The card does what RB wants to do. It discards, steals creatures, sometimes kills them, and deals direct damage. I don’t usually play RB because, ew, Red, but if I did, this would be a card that I could get very excited about. The card is good and fun for at least one player. Now for the payoff. Would I attempt to build a deck around the card if I pulled it from a pack? Absolutely. And the first attempt would be absolutely horrible.
Now for the obligatory mention that this will not be a list of the best cards. I’ve already made it abundantly clear in this article that I care nothing about competitive play. I will just pick one card from each color that jumps out and speaks to me.
This one immediately jumped out at me as I was reading through the white cards, but I did go through the rest of them to see if anything else might be cooler to me. I did take a close look at Sphinx’s Decree because I love playing the fun police, but that card also punishes my playstyle, so ultimately, it wouldn’t be fun for anyone. This one, on the other hand, exiles cards and buffs another vamp. It is very easy to remove, but that little bit of extra oomph from the plus stats has my brain dancing.
White Honorable Mention
Just because the keyword vomit makes me think of the card that I made for Chris.
This is a blue card with a heavy dose of red. Similar to the card I highlighted earlier with Raid, this one draws cards, which is what Blue does. But, it also gives plus stats and basically requires you to attack every turn. Those are both what red does. Very cool card designs in this set overall.
Blue Honorable Mention
I told you I live for this weird stuff. If this thing had flash, it would absolutely be my favorite card. It also might be broken as hell.
Okay, I’m not immune to big, dumb, shiny creatures as this pick shows. It’s a potential bomb mythic in draft and sealed, which I generally tend to avoid for these picks because I want to go a bit off the beaten path. But, this guy is just insane. Look at that ability! Each turn, you just ping one of your opponents creatures and they are basically racing you to 6 mana at that point. Just brutal.
Black Honorable Mention
Well, a big dumb idiot and a little dumb idiot. It just so happens that in black in this set, Wizards has made their idiots interesting. Flash? Deathtouch? Immediate board effect? I love all of those words individually and together, they have me thinking UB. See, I haven’t lost my way.
What in the name of Robo Rosewater is this card? I mean, it isn’t quite at Defcon 1 levels of the random magic card tweeting bot, but it defintely has that je ne sais quoi flavor that makes me wonder if someone took the day off at the office and just grabbed this one from the old Twitter feed. Some kind of WR life gain deck? Who knows, but I love it.
Red Honorable Mention
What has gotten into them over there in the WotC offices? Blue cards that do Red things? Red Cards that do Blue and Green things? I mean, I guess this one is more in line with something like Cathartic Reunion or that other card that is escaping me at the moment that makes you discard to draw. I’m sure there are a couple. But, that mana ramp is cool and on more than just this one card.
Another card that borders ever so closely to the old Robo Rosewater territory. In a ramp deck, late game, there are just dinosaurs hitting the board, fighting other creatures, clearing the board, setting up for a possible lethal on the next turn. Again, maybe a bulk uncommon, but I could have so much fun with this thing.
This is the first card from the set I think that I texted Chris about when I saw that it was being offered as some promo. He had texted me about it earlier and that must have stuck with me and triggered something when I saw the card. It would be fun in a ramp stompy deck and I would laugh uncontrollably if someone were able to bounce it out after their hatchling died.
Another big, dumb idiot. Virtually worthless in any format other than maybe EDH, but it would just be one of those WTF cards that has you doing a bunch of crazy stuff on your turn every time you were able to cast it. Off to xMage to build this terrible EDH deck!
A silly restriction? A ridiculous (and maybe ultimately stupid and pointless) payoff? A mention of Jace in the flavor text? Where do I sign up?
I have to say that I wasn’t anticipating getting back into main Magic any time soon. I’ve been very satisfied with the off shoot Magic games and other games that I’ve been playing with the boys. When Chris mentioned that he was feeling the itch again, it got me thinking. I also had a free spot on my “daily” article routine that was right around the prerelease/release of the set, so I figured that it wouldn’t hurt anything to take a closer look at the set.
I’m glad that I did. It feels like it has just the right amount of jank to get me interested and deck building again. Once I pick up my box and bundle combo of the set, then I can have a huge pack opening party with the boys. I know that they love to open cards as much as I do, so it will be fun to get their thoughts on the cards, too, as we go along. Well, I guess I’m right back into the cardboard crack.
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