Category Archives: On the Tabletop

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

My 2 Cents on Penny Dreadful

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

Introduction

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

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

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

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

Wait, what? Only a penny?

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

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

There’s even fake delver!

Ashiok is only a penny?

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

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

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

Zombies Reincarnated?

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

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

Stay Tuned…

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

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

Introduction

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

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

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

P1P1 – Snap Pick Bishop of Rebirth

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

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

Remainder of Pack One

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

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

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

Packs Two and Three

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

The Match

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

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

The Verdict

Guess who’s back? Back again?

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

MtG Road Trip: Destination Dominaria

Introduction

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

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

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

That, folks, it what we call a teaser.

New Format! (Brawl)

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

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

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

Mechanics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

The Planeswalkers

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

Jaya Ballard

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

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

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

Karn, Scion of Urza

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

See You In April!

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

Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time

Introduction

A couple of months ago, I wrote about my brief subscription to Board Game Bento.  They had some a discount code for the holidays and I always wanted to try the service.  Unable to pass up a deal that gave me a chance to do just that, I signed up.  I already wrote an article about the first month’s box.  Due to a mix up with my Paypal account, I got subscribed for a second box even though I meant to cancel after only one.

As Bob Ross is fond of saying, that was a happy little accident. I wasn’t sure that I would continue with the subscription beyond that first month.  I’m still not sure if I will and the subscription is currently on hiatus until I determine if it will be worth it.  I think that I might have mentioned that the dollar value more or less checks out, but maybe not all of the games are ones that our family will play.  In addition, Christine made the point that we already have a ton of games and not much room for storage right now.

As a result, the current answer is leaning not very heavily in the “no” column.  Even if only one of the games is playable by the family (and so far, we have found at least one from the first two boxes that we’ve received.  You may have deduced, therefore, that this article is about the game that we played from that second box.  Brilliant deduction, Sherlock!

Yes, you are also correct in assuming that I only said that so that I could post a picture of my man crush.

The theme of the second box was time.  There were two card games that looked interesting.  One can even be played solitaire.  However, we haven’t tried either of the card games yet.  Christine noticed the board game, Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time, said that it looked interesting, and she, Aiden, Quinn, and I played through the game.

The Good

The game is a cooperative game, which is great for our family.  None of us are really that competitive except for Aiden.  I mean, we all have our competitive streaks as all people do, but we temper it with an overall attitude of just have fun with it.  While it may not be effective for everyone, it has fostered a safe environment in which to play games.  I’ve also been able to appeal to Chris’s charitable side and get him to adopt more friendly rules during our Magic games.  I also think that he gets a lot of his competitive juices out during his games against Darren, so he’s often just looking for kitchen table fun when we sit down together.

My mother got us a game for Christmas a few years ago that was a cooperative game that we played a few times.  It was a pretty good game, but I think that this game captures the spirit of games better than that one ever did.  You work together as a team in an attempt to recover stolen artifacts from the mansion of Professor Evil.  There are several obstacles in your way; traps, time and the professor himself.

But, if you are successful, you win one million dollars.

The Bad

This seems like a common theme for board games that we’ve played recently and here we go again.  When Quinn and I played Flag Dash, the set up for the game took longer than our play through and the payoff was not worth the time invested.  This game suffers from a similar issue.  Christine took about 15-20 minutes to simply set up the game.  I thought that was a bad sign and that we’d be in for another disappointing experience.

Luckily, unlike Flag Dash, once the game was set up, it was much more intuitive to play the game.  We all picked up on the turn order very quickly, used strategy and teamwork when necessary to win the game.  It looked a bit grim and that we might lose.  Instead of giving up, though, we formulated a plan that worked and got us the victory just before the Professor escaped with his stolen goods!

The Ugly

I said earlier that I was slightly leaning “no” with regards to signing up for a longer subscription for Board Game Bento.  I haven’t changed my mind completely yet, but there currently is a bit of an ugly internal battle going on inside of me.  Logically, I know that I probably shouldn’t.  Inside my gamer’s heart, though, I’m pretty positive that I’m going to make the illogical decision.

Nonsense is so much more fun.

I mean, really, we’ve gotten two boxes and have gotten at least two playable games from them.  That’s all I’m looking for right now.  As the boys get older and get involved in more things, as I work two jobs that keeps me out of the house for 12-16 hours a day, and as we all enter that time in our lives when we all are drifting apart for a few years, the time that we do get together is precious and I’m always thinking of ways to increase that time and make it more memorable.  So, perhaps it isn’t such utter nonsense after all.

The Verdict

This was a fun game.  Initially, we sold it to the boys and ourselves as a game similar to Clue.  Since they all enjoy playing that game so much, it wasn’t hard to convince them to give this one a try.  It wasn’t as much like Clue as we thought, but it was still a fun game.  I especially liked both the cooperative nature of the game and that the game had a win condition.  That was missing from the last cooperative game that we played.  Though, to be fair, that game was mostly just for little kids to teach them about good sportsmanship and sharing, so probably not the best comparison.  We haven’t played it again since that first time, but it should become a regular in our rotation for family game nights.

As far as the overall subscription, I’m no longer certain that I won’t sign up.  I’m not even leaning in any significant way towards “No”.  For the reasons discussed above, I might just give it another few months to disappoint me.  Then again, Aiden is a fan of the Tinker Crates,  those are much cheaper, and we can work together on those, too.  Plus, I just bought a whole bunch of ebooks about designing video games, building robotic Lego structures, and making drones.  I have a feeling we’ll be quite busy for the foreseeable future.

Yep…

Rapid Fire!..Random Thoughts 2/19

-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!

Masters 25 Dilemma

Introduction

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.

Wait, are we allowed to reference Kevin Spacey projects any more?

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.

The Good

Guess who’s back? Back again?

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.

Drafting!

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

Unboxing Video!

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.

The Bad

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….

The Ugly

Drafting?

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.

The Verdict

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.

Deck List! MTG Budget Bogles (Modern)

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.

Enchantment (22)
4x Ethereal Armor
4x Hyena Umbra
4x Rancor
4x Daybreak Coronet
2x Spider Umbra
3x Spirit Mantle
1x Unflinching Courage

Land (22)
5x Forest
3x Temple Garden
2x City of Brass
2x Plains
4x Sunpetal Grove
2x Fortified Village
4x Brushland

Creature (14)
4x Gladecover Scout
2x Sram, Senior Edificer
4x Silhana Ledgewalker
4x Slippery Bogle

Feeling a Draft (2-3-18 RIX, RIX, IXN)

Introduction

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.

The Draft

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.

I would hate draft that card, but I’m honestly not sure if it’s something you need.  But, I’ll draft it anyway because strategery is one of my strengths!

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.

The Deck

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.

The Games

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.

Deck List! MTG Bushwhacker Zoo (Modern)

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.

Creatures (31)

4 Reckless Bushwhacker
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Experiment One
3 Ghor-Clan Rampager
4 Flinthoof Boar
4 Bloodrage Brawler
3 Vexing Devil
4 Monastery Swiftspear
1 Combat Celebrant

Spells (11)

1 Mutagenic Growth
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Lightning Helix
2 Rancor
1 Bonfire of the Damned
1 Boros Charm

Lands (18)

2 Forest
3 Mountain
2 Sacred Foundry
1 Temple Garden
4 Stomping Ground
2 Wooded Foothills
4 Rootbound Crag

Board Game Bento Impressions

Introduction

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.

Unless, maybe, it’s this comic book. I Googled “comic book sad” and got this. I, I’m not even going to argue.

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.

Oh, Spring, how I’ve missed you. Please come back soon.

(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.)

The Bad

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.

The Good

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.

The Ugly

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.

The Verdict

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.