Category Archives: On the Tabletop

Adventures from cards, miniatures, pencil and paper RPGs, and other old fashioned games from before the internet ruined everything.

Throne of Eldraine Notable Cards

Introduction

Welcome to 2 Guy’s Gaming’s presentation of Throne of Eldraine notable cards. As you know, this isn’t going to be a list of the best or most playable cards from the set. There are plenty of other pages for that. Here’s one if that’s what you’re looking for. Instead, these will be cards that speak to me in one way or another.

I am mostly a Johnny with some Timmy mixed in. Rarely do I rise to the level of Spike unless Chris is kicking my butt over and over again and I need to reassert my manhood. Keep all of that in mind as you read my article about Throne of Eldraine notable cards.

White (You Want Stupid Win Conditions? We’ve Got Stupid Win Conditions)

What even is this card? I don’t know if white is necessarily known for dumb win conditions. What I do know is that I’ve become so conditioned to them that I actually texted Chris about this card with the comment, “Here’s another white card with an insane ‘win the game’ condition.” He replied with, “I’m not even entirely sure what that all means.” I’m positive that if I played this card in paper, I’d miss the win trigger every single time. Still, the stories I’d be able to tell.

Honorable Mention – I do love an arrest card. This one isn’t as good as my favorite, Pacifism, because of the condition. However, it is pretty close. Plus, that flavor text is a win.

Blue (Magic is a fun game. You should play it sometime)

No Spell for You! – I’m, at my heart, a blue mage. Counterspells are my all time favorite cards in Magic the Gathering. One of the reasons I can’t enjoy Hearthstone is that there is only one counterspell and it isn’t even satisfying to cast. I’m happiest when my opponent concedes after the 5th or 6th counterspell. Chris might be right. I might be a sick individual.

Honorable Mention – In addition to counterspells, I also like big, dumb, slow, pretty much unplayable blue cards, too. What can I say, I’m complicated.

Black (Seriously, Magic is fun. Why aren’t you playing?)

What’s not to love? This is a terrible murder card with the awful upside of creating a Food token. This card is just dumb. That is why I love it. Besides, that flavor text is frigging hilarious.

Honorable Mention – Do you want to make a terrible reanimator deck? Of course you do! Well, have I got the card for you!

Red (Pew, Pew?)

1.21 Gigawatts! Can’t believe it’s taken me this long to pick an adventure card. But, I was thinking. If I cast the adventure portion and then the creature portion, the creature goes on the stack first. Does that mean that I can target the creature with the buff? Let’s break Magic!

Honorable Mention – Can this card be broken? Probably not. That stipulation that you can only cast two spells per turn is pretty limiting. I just texted Chris something about this and Experimental Frenzy being a jank ass combo. However, I don’t think it is what I hoped it would be. Oh well, this dream is just a meme.

Green (Where are my big stompy dinos?)

What is this playable nonsense? When I first saw this card, I texted to Chris that it seemed straight busted. We both agreed that it could be banned in Modern. That doesn’t appear to be true. So, I guess I’m just sharing that story as more evidence that I’m terrible at this game and shouldn’t be trusted.

Yay, recursion! Okay, I know for a fact that you can use this card to make mana to cast itself. It is completely superfluous. But, that’s how I sometimes like my Magic. Hopefully I pull this card when Chris and I draft because I’m making that happen.

Multicolored (I missed Garruk)

Welcome Back, Big Man. Ridiculous slow casting cost? Check. Possibly unattainable ultimate? Check. Welcome back, Garruk. I, for one, missed you and can’t wait to cheat this out in my Gx ramp stompy deck in Legacy cubes.

The Verdict

I couldn’t come up with an honorable mention for Multicolored and nothing in colorless really jumps out at me. The carriage is a really bad card. The spinning wheel is fun for the lore aspect. But, none of the cards really speaks to me.

Overall, as Chris and I have texted a couple of times, the set looks like a lot of fun. I can’t wait to get together with him to draft and build my latest Frankenstein’s monster of 5 color good stuff to beat him with. Thanks for reading my Throne of Eldraine notable cards article. See you in three months for the next set!

Building a Pokemon Cube Part 1.5 (of 2)

Introduction

What do you mean Building a Pokemon Cube Part 1.5? In my previous entry into the building a Pokemon cube series, I highlighted the cube I was going to try to build. Also, I reported that I am only 50% of the way done in building the cube. If you thought that nothing would come of this experiment, you are partially right.

Progress

While I haven’t made any progress in obtaining more cards, I have been thinking about how to add the cards. I actually read reddit, against my better judgement, to see what the creator of the cube I picked did to get the cards.

That article provided a lot of helpful information. However, it was almost an overload of information. They give several places to buy the cards. I need to parse that information better. Then again, I’m sure I do what I always do and just order from the place that I know best, no matter the cost.

So, there isn’t much of an update on the construction of the cube. However, know that I haven’t given up on the project just yet. I need to do some research for card prices. Once that is taken care of, it’s just a matter of actually purchasing those cards.

I don’t think that the purchase will happen this weekend. The last article, I said that I wanted to get it done this past weekend. That obviously didn’t happen. I don’t get a check from my new job until next week. So, the earliest that it might happen is next weekend.

Stay Tuned…

Thanks for reading the Building a Pokemon Cube Part 1.5 article. I promise you that this won’t all be in vain. It might not happen until the game is released in November, but I assure you that it will happen. I am fully committed to making this web page active and fun again. If you have any ideas, be sure to let me know.

Building a Pokemon Cube Part 1 (of 2)

Introduction (BUILDING A POKEMON CUBE PART 1)

Why am I writing this building a Pokemon Cube Part 1 article? There’s a new Pokemon game coming out this year. Well, technically, there are two, but you get my point. As a result, I wanted to do some preview content this month. Then, in November, when the game releases, we can revisit and give some first impressions of the game.

In between in football (and futbol) season and Halloween. After is December and Christmas. We have plenty of content planned for the rest of the year. Perhaps, at long last, we will be able to get this page back on track for the new year.

None of that answers the original question. Well, to begin this flurry of content, I have decided to put together a Pokemon cube for me and the boys to draft once or twice. Bear in mind that none of us have played the Pokemon trading card game for several months. Mostly, we just collect the cards. However, with the new video games coming out, it seemed like the perfect time to give the card game a try again.

What is a Cube?

Not to get technical, but it is a 3 dimensional shape with six square faces.

You might be wondering exactly what a cube is. I, too, wondered this several years ago when I first got into Magic the Gathering Online and saw cube events. The concept intrigued me so much that I even played a few. Now, I’m not going to go into a huge explanation. There are plenty of resources out there to learn about cubes and why they might interest a father and his three sons who have a couple thousand Pokemon cards lying around in their playroom. This page is the first one, for example, that comes up when you ask the Google machine about Pokemon cubes.

Why a Pokemon Cube?

Okay, this is more like it. The question is more personal and it requires a personal answer. Well, first, I wanted something to kick off our Pokemon coverage this month. Second, the boys and I got it in our heads to organize the Pokemon cards again. All of them are older, so it is more likely that they will stay organized this time instead of being thrown all across the floor.

Then again, both Chris and I have been known to throw our cards on the table and floor and we are both considerably older than my children, so this could easily become commonplace in our house. Except with Pokemon cards instead of playing cards. Use your imagination.

As I was organizing the cards alphabetically, I thought several times, “Wow, we have a ton of Pokemon cards.” I wonder if we have the right amount and variety of cards to make a workable cube. Like I said, I’ve been interested in the concept since those days on MTGO. More than once I’ve texted Chris that I want to put together a Magic cube. However, the ones I like to play are Legacy cubes and I can’t afford half of those cards.

Well, I thought, we have a heck of a lot of Pokemon cards and I’m not predisposed to any particular format in the game, so maybe I can just put together a starter cube for me and the boys to get our Pokemon coverage started. I found just such a cube here. Well actually, I found it on reddit via the Google machine.

Why is this article about building and not playing?

What an astute and timely question. Have you been reading my notes? (Actually that won’t help as I only jotted down a few notes for the first couple of paragraphs. Wait, are you reading my mind? Guess it’s time to work on my top secret mind shield exercises. I knew paranoia would pay off for me eventually.) However you came up with that question, it is relevant to the discussion and deserves a response.

As I went through the list and compared to the cards I have, I only got to maybe 50% of the list and not all of the cards matched exactly. Also, I just started a new job and haven’t gotten a paycheck yet. As a result of both of these, I am still in the process of putting the cube together. Hopefully, I can order the cards that I’m missing over the weekend and finish assembling the cube for some drafts next week.

Is this it?

While I can understand your doubt that anything will ever come from this building a Pokemon Cube Part 1 article, I will hopefully prove you wrong. Yes, it’s true that I often go missing for weeks and even months at a time, but I’m committed to using the free time that my new job gives me to bring this page back to some prominence. Again, I hope that you will join me on the journey into 2020 and beyond. Stay tuned for the update!

Core Set 2020 Notable Cards

Introduction

Those who have visited the page in the past know that this isn’t going to be a “best of Core Set 2020” article. I might end up accidentally or incidentally choosing cards that would be considered good. However, that is not the intent of this article. There are plenty of other resources out there that will give you those cards. Instead, I like to do things a bit differently around here.

In the realm of Magic the Gathering personas or whatever they call them, I’m a Johnny. Sometimes I’m a Timmy. I am almost never a Spike unless I start getting beat a bit too many times on Magic the Gathering Arena. As a result, I look through spoiler lists with a slightly different eye than the usual reviewer. My list of cards will contain cards that I (a) think I can build crazy combos around but usually (b) ones that make me say, “Wow, that’s a cool card!” If that sounds like your cup of tea, join me and continue reading.

White Cards (Did Somebody Say Angels?)

Yes, it’s a reprint. But, what a reprint!

Planar Cleansing – Those of you who visit the page on a semi regular basis know that I am a hypocrite when it comes to Magic the Gathering. I will rail against other people playing solitaire Magic decks until I’m blue in the face even as I tap my own blue face for mana to play cards that don’t allow my opponent to play Magic. Planar Cleansing has always been one of my favorite cards. The art is perfect. The effect is ridiculous. And, if you hate all the Superfriends love from Dominaria, here’s your answer.

So, uh, does this mean we are returning to Theros?

Starfield Mystic – As soon as I saw this card, I texted Chris about it. Looks a bit like a Theros card, doesn’t it? He agreed. We’ve been talking for a while now that it would be nice to travel back to Theros. I mean, they’ve been back to Innistrad and Zendikar. This last trip was the third to Ravnica. How about some Greek mythology love this time, WotC?

Oh, there’s a 2 mana penalty for removal on my commander? That’s cute

Sephara, Sky’s Blade (Honorable Mention) – i think it was Jeff Hoogland who was playing this one on his stream recently. The alternate casting cost didn’t go off as much as I had hoped, but this thing would be ridiculous in an EDH white token deck. I’m sure someone else already has theirs built and tuned but I’d love to put one together myself.

Only one of us will be playing Magic today.

Pacifism (Lifetime Achievement) – Remember earlier when I mentioned that I like to play cards that don’t let my opponent play Magic? This is probably my all time favorite card ever printed. I don’t like this art, but I will still play the card.

Blue (Oh, I’m Sorry. Did you want to play Magic today?)

Further enraging the community by giving blue players another reason to tap their islands.

Mu Yanling, Sky Dancer – This card might as well just say, “Blue. Blue blue blue blue blue. Blue blue blue.” Everything about this card says to me, put 20 basic islands in your deck and play this card on turn 3. The only thing missing is a counter ability, but that’s tough to do when Planeswalkers activate at sorcery speed. Nevertheless, drawing 20 cards a turn, you’ll get a counter eventually.

Someone posted online that whoever came up with this card needs to be fired or promoted. On the name alone, promotion.

I saw this card on a Gaby Spartz’ stream, I think. She was playing limited and it seemed like every single person was playing this card. The card itself is a blue beast token with upside, but that name is absolutely magical. I’m putting four of these in my Mu Yanling deck just so I can repeatedly say, “I cast Octoprophet.”

I activate Teferi’s +1. Uh, just a minute there, Buddy.

Tale’s End (Honorable Mention) – This is a very specific counter and ultimate useless in most cases. However, it has that quality of blue Johnny cards that just speaks to me. Being able to either counter a Planeswalker or a particularly annoying activated ability of that Walker if you get it a turn late is oddly satisfying. You’ll still lose the game, but a turn or two later.

All my spells have flash? Perhaps I don’t want to draw all those cards with Mu Yanling.

Leyline of Anticipation (Lifetime Achievement) – One of the surprising reprints in this set was the Leyline cycle reprint. I’m not sure why they would have been reprinted now, but maybe because they are Enchantments and Theros was all about enchantments, that’s one more clue that we are going to go back there in the next sets.

Black (Your graveyard is looking a bit empty)

Why not just give it trample, too, and make you discard 2 cards a turn?

Rotting Regisaur – This is another one that I texted Chris about. 3 mana 7/6 with minimal draw back? And, as he said, one of black’s identities is sacrificing cards for stronger effect, so even if you discard something, chances are it will be back later. Sometimes I think the fine folks at WotC are just trolling us with these cards.

Half of a duress that exiles on a stick feels real nice.

Yarok’s Fenlurker – This card seems like it could be a limited all star, but I’m terrible at evaluating cards (as the next section will show). A 1/1 body that exiles a card from the opponent’s hand? Sure, the opponent gets to choose, but that’s still a great upside. Plus, it can be a grizzly bear for only 3 additional mana! See, I told you I’m terrible at evaluating cards.

4 mana 1/2? Sure, why the hell not?

Sanitarium Skeleton (Honorable Mention) – This card is absolute garbage. Sure it might be nice on turn 1 as a blocker for those pesky goblins that basic mountain decks like to play. And, it can sit in your hand for a few turns to be fodder for Regisaur. Why am I including this card in my article then? Who knows. Sometimes, a card just speaks to me.

If I can’t counter your stuff, I’ll just kill it.

Murder (Lifetime Achievement) – The caption to the picture says it all. I’ve been playing a UB no fun deck on Arena the last few weeks and it’s filled with counters and removal. This one is just such a tidy answer to pretty much anything that the opponent sneaks through my counter spells.

Red (Aw, man, do I have to?)

I hate red, but this is the kind of red I can get behind.

Chandra’s Regulator – Another card that necessitated a text to Chris. I think my exact words were, “This card might be garbage, but I love it.” We then had a discussion about Chandra planeswalker cards, how they are always garbage, and as a result, so was this card. Oh well, I still want to play it.

It might be red. But, the art and flavor text make this card solid gold.

Reckless Air Strike – There is so much wrong with this card. First, it’s a sorcery. Second, many flying creatures have so much more than 3 health. Third, we’ll just slap some artifact hate on the end there. Still, I’m sure to end up with this card in draft and it’ll prove just how unplayable it actually is.

We heard you like dragons. Well, we’ll dragon your dragon until you got a dragon.

Drakuseth, Maw of Flames (Honorable Mention) – I really include this card as an homage to our fallen homie (oh, he’s not dead, just inactive on the page), Chris. He’s a dragon guy. And this is quite the dragon. Hell, even that subtitle is ridiculous.

A red card that is sort of like a blue or black card? Of course this is my favorite.

Act of Treason (Lifetime Achievement) – Oh, you got a creature past my counter and I don’t have removal? Well, I guess I’ll just take it from you and beat you with it, then. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve used this card to steal someone’s giant creature and beat them.

Green (Giant, Stompy Dinosaurs!)

If Mu Yanling is blue, then this card is GREEN.

Vivien, Arkbow Ranger – This is another card that I texted to Chris about. I mentioned how I thought the card was sexy and he told me to calm down. Our conversation then went on to other NSFW content. Seriously, though, this card is dope.

He looks like he might live in Theros.

Loaming Shaman – I’m only including this guy as another possible hint that we’re heading back to Theros soon. That ability it kind of neat. What really grabs me is white horse guy with white hair and bear has gotta live on Theros.

A generic 7/7?!

Vorstclaw (Honorable Mention) – This thing is just a big dumb creature. It doesn’t trample. There’s no ramp. No text at all other than for flavor. And that’s even that isn’t much of a flavor. Earlier there was a 3 mana 7/6 with minimal draw back. Now, we have a 6 mana 7/7 with no upside. What is happening in this game?

3 mana now for 1 mana later? Sure, why not?

Gift of Paradise (Lifetime Achievement) – This is probably the slowest ramp in the history of the game. But, it is ramp. And ramp helps you to get to those 6 mana generic 7/7s that much faster. So, get out there and start ramping.

Multicolor (Or, the gold border always makes me think it’s Mythic. Yes, still.)

Now, this one is Mythic. However, many of them are not.

Omnath, Locus of the Roil – If you have “I texted Chris about this card” for this one, then I’m pretty sure you have BINGO. However, I didn’t see this one during spoiler season. It wasn’t until Jeff Hoogland was playing an interesting Elemental deck that I texted him about this card. It looks like such a fun card.

Jeskai is as Jeskai does.

Kykar, Wind’s Fury – Back when Tarkir was the new hotness, I was drawn to Jeskai. I ended up trying to force Mardu in the prerelease event that I went to, but Jeskai is my first love, espeically when they got rid of the pesky red from their color scheme. This card screams Jeskai. And, so, it gets a spot on my list.

No Honorable Mention or Lifetime Achievement – None of the other cards jump out at me as interesting and there aren’t any reprints that I recognize.

Colorless ( Weren’t these cards brown before?)

A colorless card that is actually WUBRG? Mind blown…

Golos, Tireless Pilgrim – If you already got BINGO last round, go for Super BINGO this time. Or, you could play how was this message delivered? “This card is probably garbage, but I can’t wait to build a Commander deck around it.” I love the fact that it is an artifact, but also five colors at the same time. That’s all you need to get me to love a garbage card.

Bag of Holding – A second way to get me to like a garbage card is to name it after a Dungeons and Dragons item. When WotC first took over D&D, I was a little bit worried, but they’ve done a good job with the game. I haven’t played the Ravnica cross over yet, but I saw that they are releasing a 2 player version of D&D for losers like me who don’t have more than one friend.

Um, Time Vault is an artifact, yes?

Manifold Key (Honorable Mention) – Another sure fire way to get me to love a garbage card is to make it so that it reminds me of a card played in my favorite format to watch, Vintage. There’s a combo that allows you to go infinite with Time Vault and Voltaic Key. However, both of those cards are restricted. This one isn’t. Not yet. I’m not sure if there are 3 cards to remove from the deck to add 4 of these, but there’s a chance.

And stay dead!

Grafdigger’s Cage (Lifetime Achievement) – I was watching Modern the other day. And, yes, I did text Chris about it, but this card wasn’t involved in the conversation. Rather, I was telling him about the Hogaak deck that was casting the title creature on turn 2 or 3. WotC was quick to ban Bridge from Below to slow it down. But, thinking about that deck made me think about this card.

The Verdict (Core Set 2020 is a Core Set)

There are some good cards in the set. At its heart, though, Core Set 2020 lives up to the name. There was a time when WotC killed off core sets and nobody, aside from collecting nerds like me, seemed to miss them. I might be off base here, but I don’t remember a ton of complaining when it happened.

Therefore, I, for one, am happy to have the core sets back. I am a bit behind in my collecting, so I just recently picked up my box from Core set 2019, but it should only take a month or so to get up to speed with Core Set 2020. Until then, maybe I’ll do a draft or two on Arena.

Yu gi oh!

Introduction

Those who know me know that I have always loved trading card games. I have been playing Magic: the Gathering for a long time. Recently, I discovered that might have been since the beginning of that particular game. During my ill fated semester as a student the first time at the University of Pittsburgh, I had a couple of friends who introduced me to the game. I then bought a beginners “Portal” deck to try to get Christine to play the game.

I had just moved from Erie to Massachusetts at the time and I didn’t know many other people. Ultimately, that experiment ended in futility for one reason or another. I’m not sure exactly why and it doesn’t matter in the context of this article. There are several reasons. First, I met and then reconnected with Chris, who became my nerd (and MtG) buddy for the last decade. Then, the boys have grown up and started to develop some of the same interests as me, including the card games. Finally, Christine has also come around and joined us for a few of our nerdy pursuits, most notably a Dungeons and Dragons game.

You got MtG in my D&D! You got D&D in my MtG! Two great tastes that go great together? I honestly don’t know because I haven’t tried it yet, but I really want to!

For the Love of the Games?

I mentioned my love and enjoyment of card games in the introduction. I only “proved” that love by sort of humble bragging that I’m old enough to have possibly seen a Mox or Lotus played at face value. Oops, I did it again. I can’t say one way or another. If I was truly bragging, I’d say it unequivocally. All I can say is that I’ve been playing MtG since 1993, so the possibility exists that I either saw a Mox played or played one myself.

You’d be correct to assert that as proof of my love of “trading card games” is flimsy and inconclusive. At best, it simply shows an enjoyment of one particular game. I can assure you that I have played (and sometimes simply collected because I couldn’t figure out the convoluted rules set of some of them) any and all trading card game that I could find over the years. Many of them have suffered the same unfortunate fate of my old comic collection and ended up at the bottom of a recycling bin, so I can’t remember most of them.

One that I have in mind is an old out of print Star Wars card game. I could only find one person (before kids and Christine started to show interest again) to play MtG in my life. There was no chance of finding anyone at all to play that game. I often thought that I was the only person in the world to have purchased the game. Thanks to the magic of the interwebs, I can no longer make that claim. There is at least one community out there that is developing expansions for the old game and it might just be enough to get me interested again. Check them out at https://swtcgidc.wordpress.com/

This is not the set that I had, but it is the same game. It always looked like a fun game but, as I say, I never actually got the chance to play it.

The Good (Yu Gi Oh is an established game)

None of that was ever a problem with Yu Gi Oh. Aiden was the first to find the game because he is like me and likes to try new games. He introduced us to Heroclix. He introduced me to Yu Gi Oh. Liam may have already known about the game, but has always been a PokeKid at heart, so he never gave it a second though. The point is that we got into Yu Gi Oh after it was already proven. There was little chance that the game would go defunct (or at least in a deep sleep) after I became invested in the game.

Even with that reassurance, it took me a while to actually become invested in the game. Aiden does try new things but, sometimes, his interest is short lived. I might still be left with cards that I bought for a game he no longer finds interesting. In fairness, that did happen a couple of times, but he has always come back to the game eventually.

After all, how can you stay away from a game that releases cards like Exodia?

It also took me a while to warm to Yu Gi Oh because of things I heard from other people. There were the warnings of power creep, but that doesn’t bother me too much. It does to an extent because in my time in World of Warcraft. I saw critical damage go from the low hundreds to over a million before they scaled that back. Numerous warning to keep my kids away from the game kept me away from the game. I never got a good reason why other than maybe the aforementioned power creep. The warning was so ominous, that it did build a nest in the back of my brain and settled there.

The Bad (Yu Gi Oh is complicated)

I did finally break on Yu Gi Oh and buy a preconstructed deck. I actually bought two, but I’ve only ever played one. Aiden was helpful and made the deck better by combining both of the decks for me. Even with that help, I think I can count the number of times that I’ve actually won a game of Yu Gi Oh on one hand. Note Pun absolutely not intended.

Some of that is traceable to the fact that I’m not that interested in the game. I only started to collect because by that point both Aiden and Quinn were collecting cards and I’m always looking for different ways to spend time with my kids. Might as well jump on the Yu Gi Oh train before it leaves the station for good.

Would you look at that? There is an actual Yu Gi Oh train.

The main problem is that I find Yu Gi Oh confusing. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not dumb. I’m not a professional at any of the games that I play, but I can understand the intricacies of those games quite well. Not so for Yu Gi Oh. I don’t understand how to build a deck properly. Up until recently, I didn’t completely understand how the turn structure worked. I still am not certain how to tribute summon monsters. I am just a disaster when it comes to this game. But, it does give Quinn a kick to know that he’s beaten me every single time we’ve played.

The Ugly (Yu Gi Oh still has a short shelf life)

Aiden still enjoys Yu Gi Oh enough that it devastated him when the washing machine destroyed his number cards. We bought him some new ones for Christmas. He, Quinn, and I played a three way match the other day (not with his number deck as he can’t find the rest of that deck. Quinn had a bit of a flip out because he lost that match. I actually won!

The point is that I don’t know how much Aiden will still enjoy the game once he goes off to middle school and his time is devoted to sports. I’ve already seen it a bit with Liam and his dedication to theater. We hardly ever get to do anything together However, he did ask to record some video this weekend because I got a new cord for our video capture card, but we didn’t get around to it. Either next weekend or the following, for sure.

We’ll get together then…

The Verdict

While Yu Gi Oh isn’t by any stretch of the imagination my favorite trading card game, I wish that I hadn’t waited so long to get a deck so that I could play against the boys at least. It can be a fun game and it gives me another excuse to have quality time with them. As kids get older, their interests change and you become less and less of a part of their lives until you don’t exist at all for a few years during high school and college. That has changed some in recent generations, but there’s still that risk. Oh well, for now I will appreciate the time that I have and try to get better at the game to give them more of a reason to want to play.

MTG Monday Night Modern Vol.2

A few weeks ago I decided that I was going to make my triumphant(?) return to a Monday night Modern event at one of the local game stores near me. I won’t name them because they haven’t thrown us a sponsorship along with a lifetime supply of gaming goodies. C’mon! You know I’m in this for the free stuff! I kid! I kid! Ahem.

The one part of going to game nights that causes me anxiety is picking which deck to play. I basically went back and forth between Bogles and Storm for the entire week before. Bogles is annoying and one of those Tier 2 modern decks that sneaks into Tier 1 from time to time, while Storm is more fun to actually play with and can lead to some quick kills if your opponent doesn’t recognize the important cogs of the deck but I did have the “Weird Paradise Mantle” combo in the deck and always felt slightly sheepish playing it. In the end, after talking with (at?) Shawn (Modern isn’t his thing), about which deck I should play, I decided to go with Bogles.

Having played at the same spot many times, I know who the regular attendees are and which deck that they tend to play. Unfortunately, Lantern Control is one of those decks that always seems to be present. I can’t stress how much I HATE Lantern Control. I loathe it. Ensnaring Bridge is such a piece of ******* ****. You know a control deck is too controlling when Shawn, king of the blue mages, hates it too. I fully support a new rule that says if your opponent brings Lantern Control to a game night, you are well within your rights to take that deck outside, light it on fire, and then piss on it to put the fire out. I had joked with Shawn about having crap luck and knowing that I would have to play against someone who was running Lantern Control….

Round 1: Lantern Control. Yup. Very. First. ****ing. Round.
My opponent, who was actually the judge of the event, was a really nice guy. I think people at these game nights tend to think that they are going to be paired up with “Serious Sam” and just get down to business with no friendliness. He was very formal to begin with but once he plopped down a Codex Shredder only to be met with a stream of expletives from the other side of the table, he relaxed and joked around a bit with me which made playing this piece of crap deck bearable. The first game was actually close because he had trouble getting his hand empty and I had stopped pumping up my Bogles and was just swinging with 1/1’s. I was able to get him down to 8 life before he was able to get that last card out of his hand and then lock me, and the game, down. The 2nd game went worse for me, he started with the necessary pieces in his hand and basically had me locked down by the 4th turn. Just to be a dweeb about it, I made him play the entire game out instead of conceding. God, I hate this deck.

0-1

Round 2: Druid Combo
From Lantern Control right to an infinite combo deck! LA DEE ****ING DA!

I made several misplays in the first game and he beat me without even getting the infinite combo of Devoted Druid and Vizier of Remedies out on the table. For those of you not familiar with the combo, Devoted Druid taps to add 1 green mana to your pool but also has the ability to untap if you put a -1/-1 counter on him. Vizier of Remedies basically prevents your creatures from getting -1/-1 counters. Yep. Infinite Mana to do fun things like use Duskwatch Recruiter to search endlessly through your deck until you hit the stompy favorite of your choice and play it. In this case my opponent went with Walking Ballista, which gets infinite counters on it, which in turn does infinite damage to me. I don’t think I even hit him once in this game. Complete and utter blowout.

0-2

Round 3: Elves
Ok, I’ll be honest, this isn’t an official match. My buddy and I both had byes this round and decided to play each other instead of wandering around aimlessly for an hour waiting for the next round to begin. Against Elves you know you have to take it down quick by either outracing it or remove the little guys immediately once they hit the table. Since I was running only 2 copies of Path to Exile in my deck, (mistake), I had to outrace it. I lost the first game but won the next one and we left it as a tie.

0-2-1

After our match, we both decided to pack it up and call it a night, we both were in the running for last place as he had gone 0-2 as well and wasn’t really happy about it. Most likely we would have ended up paired with each other in the last round anyways. I wasn’t surprised at all that I had not done well. Modern is like swimming with the sharks. Some nights you eat and some nights you get eaten. Hindsight is a cruel mistress and I realized that if I had brought my Storm deck I would have done slightly better against Lantern Control since I had burn spells along with Guttersnipe. So basically, I could have just used all of my one mana cantrips and pinged away at my opponent with ‘Snipe’s ability. Most likely I would have still lost but damn it, I can dream of putting up a better fight than I did.

For those of you who are curious, these were the decks that were played that night:

Eldratron, Burn, Elves, BG Elves, Jund x2, Lantern Control x2,
Druid Combo, and my bitch ass Bogles.

I believe a Lantern Control deck won the whole shebang. #banthebridge

Thanks for reading! I look forward to sharing many more stories of getting absolutely pummeled at Modern nights with you all!

Magic the Gathering Retrospective: Return to Ravnica

Note: This is the final part of a 6-part series. At last, we Return to Ravnica for our retrospective.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Introduction

When Wizards of the Coast notified us that we were going back to Ravnica for the next three sets, my initial reaction was excitement. Then, I thought about it and had a brief text discussion with Chris and we both came to the same thought almost simultaneously. That seems early. I don’t think that either one of us thought that it was a bad thing. We just both got over the initial excitement at nearly the same time and concluded, “Why Ravnica again?”

As you may have guessed, the story doesn’t end there. Do our stories ever really end around here? We almost always seem to have more to say if you just give us time. I, especially, suffer from what Stephen King used to refer to as diarrhea of the word processor. Chris is much more vocal about his opinions, so you’ll have to tune into the podcasts and videos to hear what he thinks.

Besides, you really need them all to get the true 2 Generations Gaming experience.

At the very least, the announcement got me feeling nostalgic. Initially, I was going to do a top 5 or top 10 Magic the Gathering sets. Then I got the crazy idea to rank all of the sets. I finally settled on this retrospective to look back on all of the sets since I got back into the game. Initially it was going to be a 5 part series, but now you hold part 6 in your greedy little hands. I told you to just give me time and I’ll find more to say. Enjoy!

Some Quick Notes About Core Set 2013

This was my first exposure back into the game. I was wandering around Wal*Mart before the redesign and I noticed that they were still making Magic the Gathering cards. Though I didn’t buy them at that time, but the next time I was in the store, they suckered me in with their “Deckbuilder’s Toolkit” set which more or less spoke to the noob in me who hadn’t played the game in nearly two decades. I brought the set home, opened it, and was hooked almost immediately. At that point, it was mostly just a collector’s hobby since I didn’t know anyone else who played. My kids were too young, Chris hadn’t started playing yet, and my wife and I were too busy with babies to even consider playing against one another.

This photo is a lie. Either these people are all on drugs (the baby included) or they are delusional from a lack of sleep.

I still thought about the game and what was possible. Several cards made an impression on me. First and foremost was Talrand, Sky Summoner. At heart, I’m a blue mage and the card represents everything I want to do with Magic the Gathering. If I had known about Commander back then, that would have been the first deck that I mad scienced into existence. Instead, I learned about Krenko and that started my love/hate relationship with goblins in the game. More recently, I just learned that Door to Nothingness is in that set, too. While that is probably to most definitely a terrible card, that never stopped me from trying to make something out of nothing.

Why Should We Not Go Back to Ravnica?

I’m a bad news first kind of guy, so I’ll start with the reasons that I came up not to go back to Ravnica. The first reason is pure selfishness. Having missed out on most of the game due to my absence from it, I feel personally slighted by this decision. Instead of taking us back to one of the planes that I missed (see the last section for more), they are bringing us back to Ravnica.

I’m about to borrow a phrase from my kids for this one and I’m not above acting childish. It works for our President.

Furthermore, it just seems like overkill at this point. This is the third visit to Ravnica in 13 years. I was able to brush up on some of the lore and I will talk more about it the “Why” section. In short, it’s a great story. But, what more can the have to tell about Ravnica right now? Perhaps that’s why they’re professional writers and I’m a struggling self published author.

The final point is one that Chris made on the podcast. With Red and by extension Red/Black being so powerful right now, a Ravnica block might only strengthen that. The block is two color focused. In the past, Rakdos has not been one of the color combinations that they’ve given a high power level. What if they decide to change that this time? Are we going to live under the tyranny of an extended RB reign for the foreseeable future? I hope not, but fear we may.

Why Should We Return to Ravnica?

I’m not sure that I made a compelling argument against going back to Ravnica. Truth be told, I’m not all that against the decision. I really like Ravnica. It’s the time that both Chris and I got back into the game, so it holds sentimental value to us. It will be fun to see if we really can go home again.

Since Presque Isle (aside from family, of course) is the only reason I can ever find to go back to my actual childhood home town.

I mentioned lore in the previous section. Over the weekend, I was able to look back at the “Player’s Guide” booklets that they include in every Fat Pack (because that’s what they are WotC, I don’t care if you changed the name) for the Ravnica block. I forgot how much I enjoyed that story. The guilds get the most focus and for good reason. By giving the color combinations names, people are able to relate more to them. The proof of this is that they are used as descriptors for decks in the tournaments that I watch. It’s just more interesting to hear Mardu (I know that’s Khans, but it’s the same idea) Pyromancer instead of RWB Pyromancer.

With the guilds, there have been new mechanics during each visit to Ravnica. Will that continue, or will they reprint some of the old mechanics? If they do the latter, that might be a slight point against the return. Will they reprint all of the mechanics so that they are all Standard legal at the same time? That might actually be a valid argument for the return. Maybe don’t listen to me. I’m often a fan of chaos, especially in Magic the Gathering.

Finally, what other cards or card types could be reprinted. Chris is a fan of the shock lands. When he said that, it made me think of the bounce lands and the possibilities of having them standard legal again. I’m not usually a fan of reprints, but both of those land types make the head spin with the possibilities. Even if they don’t reprint cards, they can bring back old favorites with new abilities. Going back to Ravnica could be a good thing indeed.

Where Else Could We Return Besides Ravnica?

…in no particular order, which I guess is just a list of 5, but everyone likes Top “X” lists, so there you have it.

Alara: Inspired by Chris, I went through and tried to think of some planes that I’d rather visit than Ravnica. This led me to think about recent sets and what I enjoyed about them. One of my favorite recent blocks was Tarkir, but it would be even sillier to go back there than Ravnica. So, instead, I went back a little bit further. Alara is three color focused, similar to Tarkir. Those color combinations are named and the set seems to rival Ravnica’s popularity in some circles. I think that a Return to Alara would be nice.

Ice Age: This one is a purely emotional decision. Chris and I started playing the game during this block. Maybe that’s a stretch. I go back a bit earlier than Chris, but we discovered on the comics podcast that we both frequented the same stomping grounds way before we ever officially met. Besides, who doesn’t want snow lands and Skred back in the game?

Antiquities: Chris mentioned this one in the podcast. He said that it felt like a natural extension to the Dominaria set. I didn’t admit it at the time because I didn’t want to sound dumb on the podcast, but I freely admit now that I didn’t know what he meant. I don’t remember my time in the game during the first Antiquities set. However, having now looked at the card list, I can see what he was saying. It’s a classic set with some classic cards and if WotC is feeling nostalgic, then why not take it all the way back?

Kamigawa: This was my one big idea. First, I have an abnormal attachment to the set due to many of the cards being used in one of the storm decks that I built a couple of years ago. Also, some of the cards are in the cubes that I draft. They are just fun cards. Finally, I thought since they have been doing recent sets based on ancient civilizations, why not an Asian theme? Well, I’m going to hold on to this suggestion for the future. With the release of the Chinese planeswalker decks, I might have been on to something.

Well, not only could I not do a Top 5 in order, but I can’t even think of a fifth to round out my list. If any of you have any ideas, I’d love to hear about them and discuss. Leave a comment, write an email, or Tweet at us!

Conclusion

While there are other times during Magic the Gathering’s history that I’d rather visit, I’m not mad about going back to Ravnica. The story is fantastic, the mechanics are almost always at least fun, and I get to revisit my Vorel of the Hull Clade Commander deck to see if I can improve it with the new cards. Who knows, there might even be stuff for my Alesha, Who Smiles at Death deck. As always, we keep on the sunny side of life here at 2 Generations Gaming.

Magic the Gathering Retrospective: Dominaria

Note: This is now part 5 of a 6 part series. I have decided to make Return to Ravnica it’s own article.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Introduction

Welcome to part 5 (of 6 now) of my retrospective on Magic the Gathering since Scars of Mirrodin. It’s been a fun trip for me to look back at all of the sets and it reminded me why I love the game so much. Not that I needed the reminder, but familiarity breeds complacency. Every now and then, it’s appropriate to reminisce on the good times that you’ve had.

Relationship advice from your Friendly Neighborhood Noob of All Trades.

Noob’s History with Magic the Gathering

I’ve probably mentioned this several times, both on the web page and in the podcast, but I wasn’t initially impressed with Dominaria. Chris sent me a text with a link. The link was an early and unauthorized leak for the set. After making the joke that someone was definitely going to lose a job over this, I clicked the link. Before I tell you my initial impressions (Spoiler Alert: I already did in the first sentence of this paragraph), let me set the scene.

I’ve been playing Magic the Gathering since the beginning. I don’t have any cool Alpha or Beta collecting stories to tell, but I got into the game when I met someone in college who played the game. When I left school the next year because I met my future wife and moved to be near her, I tried to teach her the game. It wasn’t something that interested her and I didn’t find anyone else who played the game. When combined with the fact that I hadn’t fully developed my commitment to collecting, I moved on to other interests.

I miss my Ice Age cards. Hopefully someone gave them a loving home.

I won’t go into the whole story of how I got back into the game. Just know that it involved an initial missed connection at Wal*Mart, a sheepish admission, and 2 other dudes. Let your imagination chew on that one for a while. Once you’re ready, I’ll continue. Back with me? Okay, let’s continue the story.

As someone who played the game from the beginning, but took a nearly 20 year break from the game, I was excited to be going back to the beginning of the game. It gave me a chance to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. When I finally saw some of what we were getting, it was uninspiring.

Dominaria First Impresssions

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this is the set that was supposed to take us back to the beginning of Magic the Gathering. We were supposed to be transported back 25 years to our college, teenage, or even childhood years to reminisce about all of those games of Magic the Gathering we played against friends and family. Instead, after clicking the link to the spoilers, I was transported to just another mediocre Magic the Gathering set. Where was the history? What about the recognizable names? Why not even a reference to Black Lotus?

Heck, I’d even take a Grizzly Bear for old time’s sake.

I should have known better. Any time I take Wizards of the Coast literally in their descriptions, I end up letting myself down. I can’t blame them directly. They are in the business of advertising. As a result, they are doing everything they can to sell their product. It’s not their fault that I fall for it every time and over hype myself.

It happened with Masters 25. It could be any card from Magic the Gathering’s 25 year history. With that one simple statement, off my imagination went. What could possibly be in that box that I’m (or Chris and me together) are going to buy? They recently unbanned Jace. Could it be a defective box containing only Jace the Mind Sculptor, allowing me to live out my dream of retiring on sales of Magic the Gathering cards? It could be literally anything! (Disclaimer: It cannot be any card on the reserved list.)

It could even be a boat!

Both early spoilers and comments from the community cured my hype. One comment in particular stuck with me. “Remember,” the person wrote, “Island is a card that was printed in Magic the Gathering over the last 25 years.” That brought me crashing back to earth. Sure, there are great cards, but there are also not so great cards and even terrible cards, too. I braced myself for Dominaria being another let down.

Final Verdict on Dominaria

The one card that became my focus of the set was the new Karn. Karn Liberated is one of the best cards ever printed in the history of the game. Along with Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, It is the backbone of Modern control decks, not that any of them exist anymore. Karn, Scion of Urza might be a good card and I’ve never argued that it isn’t, but it’s a shadow of his former self, in my humble opinion.

Aside from that card, nothing jumped out at me from that initial spoiler reveal. As a result, I wasn’t looking forward to Dominaria. It wasn’t until Chris started to look closer at the set through the remainder of the spoiler season that I started to see the potential of the set. He made the point that as the set filled out, it started to look and feel like classic Magic the Gathering.

Mox Amber quickly became one of his favorite cards, though he had to explain his thinking to me about it’s potential power level.

In addition to getting a new Mox for the first time since Scars of Mirrodin, the set gave us a potential Tron/Storm killer in Damping Sphere. The also introduced saga enchantments (Phyrexian Scriptures hasn’t proven to be as popular as I hoped, but it’s still my favorite) and as a result, a mechanic known as historic. In a set that lives for flavor, that’s quite possibly my favorite inclusion.

Initially underwhelming, overall Dominaria is a great set. Chris and I have gone back and forth a few times on whether it is the best set in the history of the game. Obviously, having missed a great deal of the game’s history, I can’t make that claim. What I can say is that it is probably my favorite set since coming back to Magic the Gathering. That’s it for now. Join me, hopefully tomorrow, as I finally (for real this time!) wrap up this series with the Return to Ravnica block.

Magic the Gathering Retrospective: Kaladesh to Rivals of Ixalan

Note: This is part 4 of a 5 part series.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Introduction

After revisiting Zendikar and Innistrad in the first four sets of the new block structure, WotC felt inspired to bring us to three new planes in the next 6. First, we went home with our favorite firebrand. Then, a dragon became a god in the desert. Finally, they must have given a 7 year old kid a 2 liter bottle of mountain dew and a set of sharpies before releasing him into the R&D office. Because Ixalan is a magical tapestry of pirates and dinosaurs woven together with vampires and merfolk.

Pirates and dinosaurs?! What more do you need?!

As with all of the Magic the Gathering sets, there are things that I like and things that I dislike about these six. Because I want to stay positive, I tend to focus on the things that I like. Overall, that was easy to do with this block of sets. There is a lot to like about the current state of Magic and I’m optimistic about the future of the game. Join me as I tell you why.

Kaladesh/Aether Revolt

As I mentioned above, this is the first new plane introduced for a couple of cycles. In addition, as I eluded earlier, this is the home plane for Chandra Nalaar. As a result, we finally got a great planeswalker card for her. When it was spoiled, some referred to it as Chandra, the Mind Sculptor. While I hesitate to agree with that sentiment, it is a good card and it has seen play as recently as this past weekend PT.

Plus, I pulled a foil from my first pack and sold it for 70 bucks on eBay a couple of days later. So, I’m not going to complain about the hype.

Kaladesh is also home to the mystical force known as aether. It is used for magical purposes, but also incorporated into constructs to simulate technology. This latter use of aether introduced a new type of card to the game in the form of vehicles. While their introduction excited me as all new mechanics and card types do, they weren’t the feature of the plane.

Kaladesh is also home to everyone’s favorite token, the thopters, but shockingly, they don’t represent the epitome of this marriage of magic and technology either. Sure, many (perhaps all) of the denizens of Kaladesh utilize thopters in every day life. And, I come here not to bury the thopters. I come to praise them. But, they don’t come close to the cool factor of the giant loveable magic fueled robots, the Gearhulks.

What happens when you fuse the soul of a Snapcaster Mage with a hunk of metal and zap it with some Aether? Oh, this isn’t a riddle. You get this guy.

Two final points before leaving Kaladesh for the deserts of Amonkhet. First, do you love infinite combos in standard? Because, thanks to Kaladesh and Aether Revolt, we got an infinite combo in standard! It was fun while it lasted before WotC banished Guardian to eternal formats. Finally, I mentioned in my previous article that I wasn’t paying close enough attention to see the Eldrazi coming. Granted, I might not have been paying attention here, either, but I was able to fortell the coming of Nicol Bolas.

Amonkhet/Hour of Devastation

This pair of sets had a similar feel to Theros. I’m not as much of a fan of Egyptian mythology as Greek. Still, I find anything based on ancient civilizations fascinating. I once made the joke, after buying a Dremel multi tool, that ancient civilizations were able to build such remarkable structures without such modern amenities. Clearly, they were better men than me. But, I digress.

How is this just like Theros then? Well, you have the return of gods to the game. Just like Theros, each of the gods has a like god from the actual pantheon of Egyptian gods. The big difference is that our favorite (possibly) immortal dragon, Nicol Bolas has taken up residence on the plane as the big boss man, er, god.

Where there’s Bolas, Ugin can’t be far behind and vice versa. Perhaps there will be a reckoning on Ravnica?

Three mechanics introduced in the sets are absolute flavor wins. The first two are embalm and eternalize. Both involve the afterlife of a creature. As we all know, that’s a major theme in Egyptian mythology. Those were neat to see included in the sets. The third gave both Chris and I “WTF” moments initially. I thought the cards were either a joke or misprinted.

We’ve had cards that flip upside down. They have “fused” and “melded” cards together. There have been double sided cards. That format has been the most resourceful for them. They’ve used it on creatures, planeswalkers, and even lands now. So, the concept of a card becoming another card is not new to the game. It’s just that the latest iteration of the concept initially looked…let’s say, odd. I know you’ve seen them, but look at them again with an innocent’s eyes.

I seriously thought the cards were misprinted. It’s just such a jarring design.

Ixalan/Rivals of Ixalan

I already made the joke about the development of the set earlier. Don’t misunderstand me. I actually loved the concept of dinosaurs and pirates. Can’t forget vampires and merfolk, but they’re not nearly as cool as the others. Funny enough, I also already referenced one of the other major developments of the set in the previous section, double faced lands. Certainly not as exciting as pirates or dinosaurs. Not even really as exciting as the less exciting vampires and merfolk. Still worth a mention.

Let’s talk about the dinosaurs for a minute. There are your normal run of the mill dinos. You know the ones, The velociraptor who bags your groceries at the super market, as long as it isn’t chicken. Then there’s the old lady T-Rex who hangs out on the park bench and eats the pigeons. And we can’t forget about the dilophosaur children who attack the bus driver every morning and never actually make it to school.

Adorable.

Then, you have your Elder dinosaurs. You might wonder why the old lady from the previous paragraph doesn’t get consideration for elder dinosaur. Well, quite simply, it’s because she isn’t epic enough. Elder dinosaurs don’t sit on a park bench! They have word vomit for keyword text, or increase your hand size to inifinity, or kill everything on the board, or exile cards from your opponent and give them to you, or…have trample? Okay, so that last one doesn’t seem quite so epic. But, I assure you, it is!

Or, they are uncastable and have little to no impact on the game if you do happen to get to 9 mana.

Lastly on the plane of Ixalan, and most important to a filthy casual player like me, is the hybrid board and card game that Wizards of the Coast released. I’ve gotten to play it a couple of times with the boys and it is a fun way to introduce people to the game of Magic the Gathering. Even as a more seasoned player, I liked the addition of the strategy of the board game element. I’m glad that they will be doing more of this.

The Verdict

All three of the new planes brought innovation into the game. As Chris and I discussed on the podcast yesterday, the two set structure tends to make the second set weaker. It isn’t as much of a problem in the 3 set blocks because you expect one of the sets of the three to not be as strong. But, in a 2 set structure, that means that half of the block is weak. It’s just simple math.

Nevertheless, as I said in the beginning, I like to focus on the positive. There’s plenty from each of these sets that I enjoyed. It may not sound like it on the podcast, but I’m mostly optimistic about where Magic the Gathering is right now and where it is going in the near future.

I have only Dominaria and the Return to Ravnica block to cover before I’m done with this retrospective. I wasn’t sure exactly how, or even if, I would pull this off and it’s a bit of a relief to be at the end. It’s been a fun look back at my time in the game. I hope that you’ve enjoyed it, too, and will come back in a couple of days for the final article.

Magic the Gathering Retrospective: Origins to Eldrich Moon

Note: This is part 3 of a 5 part series.

Part 1 | Part 2

Introduction

This is the time in Magic the Gathering history when the game was supposed to change forever. They made an announcement that there would be no more core sets. Admittedly, I don’t always have my finger on the pulse of various communities, but I never heard a huge outcry during the announcement. Granted, as a collector, I mourned the loss of those sets, but I’m not sure that many others did.

Aside from that, they reduced the number of sets for each block from 3 sets to 2. In response to this announcement, I did hear quite a bit of murmuring from the crowd. Perhaps it was a bridge too far so soon after the abolition of core sets. As we’ve discussed several times, some portions of the nerd community have become resistant to change. Furthermore, they are quite vocal about it.

Actual quotes from Star Wars fans after every new movie.

Magic the Gathering Origins and Competitive Play

In the previous two articles, I’ve included the core set with the block. I change that here for two reasons. First, with the core sets being discontinued, WotC assured us that there wouldn’t necessarily be “blocks” of sets anymore, even though there were for the next six cycles. Second, since Origins was supposed to be the “last” core set, they promised something innovative for the set.

As with most of WotC’s promises, this wasn’t entirely true. While there were some new things in the set that I will talk about briefly, at it’s heart, Origins was a core set. I think in my article about it, I called Origins the “corest of core sets”. I don’t blame them. Core sets existed for a reason. If you’re going to have core sets, then it should fulfill that purpose. Just don’t promise that you’re going out with a bang and then offer a slightly exaggerated whimper.

Okay, enough of my own “Grumpy Cat” impression. As I said, there are things that I enjoyed about the set. Before I get to those, I will just write a quick note about competitive. I’m not a competitive player by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t aspire to be one either. I do enjoy watching Magic, though, and this set was very kind to competitive players.

Plus, as an added bonus, it gave us the earworm, “I ain’t no Hangerback girl”. Just me? I can live with that.

My Thoughts on MtG Origins

Finally, we get to my positives from the set. Not to give too much away, but they’re what you have come to expect from a filthy casual such as myself. I might be mistaken here, but it’s the first time that I noticed that WotC made the story front and center in the game. I know that there has always been lore. It’s one of the things that we love about Magic. But, this is the first time that I saw them pushing that story on their web page and through the cards. That story focused around five main Planeswalkers and their journey through Magic history.

Speaking of those Planeswalkers, they lived up to the promise of “something different”. None of them start off as Planeswalkers. Instead, they are cast as younger versions of themselves. Then, through a mechanic associated with their color identity, they “gain their spark” and flip to become a Planeswalker. There has been at least one other flip Planewalker since, but this was like nothing that I have ever seen in the game before this set. I don’t know if they have plans to do so, but I would love to see more cards like this in the future.

Of course, I have to stick to my roots and use our friend Jace as the example.

Battle for Zendikar/Oath of the Gatewatch

I have to admit that I was surprised when they announced this group of sets. While the first Zendikar block might have been popular at the time, the only thing that I ever heard from players was how much they hated the Annihilator mechanic. Wizards of the Coast even publicly admitted that Annihilator might have been a mistake. I think I wrote in my previous article that we haven’t been back to Mirrodin, mostly likely because of infect. But, now, we’re back in Zendikar with an even less interactive mechanic? Okay. Let’s do this.

Yes, the Eldrazi are back. No, they don’t have Annihilator. Most of them don’t have Annihilator. Okay, none of them have Annihilator, but Ulamog is hungry and he wants to eat your deck. In keeping with the colorless theme, this set has colorless colored cards. Yeah, I know. For a game that prides itself on its adherence to logic, that might be a tough circle to square. Hear me out on this one, though. I mentioned earlier that WotC was choosing to incorporate lore more into the game. The Eldrazi are colorless creatures that consume all in their path. Zendikar is a rich source of resources. It makes sense that as the Eldrazi consume Zendikar’s resources, there would be those that were in the process of being converted.

This card has two colors, but is still colorless! Madness!

Maybe I thought too much thought into that. I’m sure that I put too much thought into it. Okay, I’m positive that I thought about that way too much. But, it was a fun train of thought for me and who knows? Maybe I’m on to something.

Back to the sets themselves. You can’t just have colorless spaghetti monsters (Actually, she’s not even here. More on her in the next section. Spoiler Alert.) destroying all in their paths. Well, you could, but that’s not much of a narrative. In addition to the old mechanic of landfall to symbolize the land itself fighting back, there’s also a mechanic called converge that pumps the ability of cards based on the different types of mana used to cast them. Multicolored v. colorless. Great flavor win!

Shadows Over Innistrad/Eldritch Moon

If it was a surprise that we returned to Zendikar, it was a relief to go back to Innistrad. I said several times in my previous article that Innistrad was right in my wheelhouse. If you haven’t read that article, I will summarize here. Having grown up with fantasy and fantasy horror, Innistrad reminded me of times playing the D&D campaign Ravenloft with friends as a teenager. The addition of flip cards, the lore win of graveyard interaction, and a strong story overall cemented Innistrad as one of my favorite blocks. I’m glad to be back.

Okay, but what are those shadows over Innistrad? Who knows? Who cares? It’s probably just witches or giant bats or something like that. It’s certainly not a giant spaghetti monster that has come to consume this plane that we all love. To be honest, I had no idea during the first set that there would be Eldrazi on Innistrad. I mean, I did find it odd that Emrakul was missing from Zendikar, but I wasn’t paying full attention to the story at the time. I was just happy to be back on Innistrad.

It appears that there may have been clues if I had been paying attention.

You got Eldrazi in my zombies! You got zombies in my Eldrazi! Two disgusting things that go great together? I admit that it was a complete surprise when the reveal of Eldritch moon showed that much of the madness on the plane was courtesy of Emrakul’s influence. I wasn’t sure how the crossover might work and felt skeptical that it would be any good. I’m happy to have been proven wrong. While not as strong as the other Innistrad sets, in my opinion, Eldritch Moon delivered enough fun to be a solid filler set if nothing else.

The Verdict

The “new era of Magic the Gathering” as ushered in by the end of core sets and the switch from 3 set blocks to a less rigid construct for sets got off to a mostly successful start. While Origins was, at its heart, just another core set, it did introduce some cool new things into the game. My favorite from the set was the flip Planeswalkers. I hold out hope that we will see more, but to this day they are unique to Origins. Kudos to WotC for keeping things unique.

I never got to play the original Zendikar. I wasn’t even able to collect it as boxes were pushing 300 dollars at the time that I was trying to put together sets. It was nice to be able to see some of what I missed without having to deal with the annoying Annihilator mechanic. I’m not as much of a fan of the Eldrazi as maybe Chris is, but I’ve developed a soft spot since these sets for the big lugs.

Emrakul, in particular, has a goofy triggered ability that I enjoy.

The revisit to Innistrad wasn’t as much fun as the first. Guess you really can’t go home again. The Eldrazi only partly played a role in making the Innistrad not as fun. I actually enjoyed the story and some of the weird creatures that came as a result. It was just too much of a good thing perhaps. That’s what I fear from a Return to Return to Ravnica. This will be the third time on the plane in just over a decade of time. What could they possibly have that will make it worth it? I suppose time will tell.

3 down, 2 to go. Next time, we visit the 3 newer planes introduced recently; Kaladesh, Amonkhet, and Ixalan. After that, it is Dominaria and Return to Ravnica to finish the series. I hope you all have been enjoying reading this as much as I’ve been writing it. See you in a couple of days.