Tag Archives: CCG Corner

Tabletop Game of the Year 2020: Magic the Gathering

Introduction

The tabletop game of the year 2020 should not be a surprise. I don’t remember if I gave it away in the last article, but I suppose I did by omission. Chris and I have recently shown an interest in Commander. Those who frequent the page know by now that I play Magic the Gathering Arena nearly daily.

Though I’m getting better, it’s more accurate that I swear at MTGA daily.

Heck, I even diligently posted notable card articles throughout the year. Continued to buy sets (including far too many cards of Zendikar Rising) in spite of the fact that I haven’t played paper Magic the Gathering in at least a year. So, yes, if you have read the page at all, it will come as no surprise that Magic the Gathering is our tabletop game of the year 2020.

Similar to the mobile game of the year article, I will present the top 5 reasons for the choice. While I could give 10 or even 20 reasons, I will keep it at 5 (7, tops!)

#5 – Commander

I’ve been saying for several months now that I’m a Commander player who never played Commander. Sure, I goldfished a deck here and there on xMage. But, I never got into a regular playgroup and Chris and I never really dabbled in the format all that much. The closest we got was a few games of Tiny Leaders a few years ago.

That all changed last month. Well, not all of it. I still haven’t played a game of paper Commander. I goldfished each one of my decks that I now own. How do I own decks, you might ask. I’m glad you did. I purchased a Commander gift box from Channel Fireball that contained two of the prebuilt decks and some other goodies.

Then, I bought a super epic mega bundle of Zendikar rising that contained two other decks. I’ve already told this story. For those of you who haven’t read that post, the short story is that I now own 3 Commander decks. Chris, perhaps inspired by my purchase and definitely inspired by the cool cards in the set, bought a box of Commander Legends. He’s built a couple of decks, too. Now, we wait the time that we can get together and play and record.

#4 – Nostalgia

Regular readers of the page know that I’m not much of a nostalgia guy in general. I often scoffed in my teenage years when they kept trying to make Woodstock work again. I cackled audibly when the last one flamed out in violence. Talk about missing the point.

Nerd nostalgia, on the other hand, always works on me. Chris said something the other day about Commander feeling like when he first started playing the game with his buddy. I don’t have that same feeling yet with Commander. However, there are times that I’ll see a card in Legacy or Vintage and it will take me back to my freshman year in college when I learned how to play the game by borrowing a friend’s deck. So, like comics, as long as there is that attachment, I’ll keep coming back for more.

#3 – Finally a Viable Digital Alternative

Chris adamantly fights against our digital overlords. I stood by his side for as long as I could before finally caving last year. I’m now all in with the next generation consoles. I mean, if I can get the latest tech for 400 or 500 bucks? I’m wiling to trade off the physical medium. They mostly just take up space in my closets at this point. I don’t have a room like Chris does to show off the artwork.

How does this relate to Magic the Gathering? Well, my longest holdout against digital was our favorite collectible card game. MTGO still required real currency to buy digital cards. The economy of the game was the exact same but you didn’t get to keep the cards if the servers ended up getting shut down. xMage costs nothing. However, you have access to all cards. It’s great for messing around with limited strategies, but feels stupid for any type of constructed since there’s rarely any jank.

MTGA fixed that with the wild card system. I can buy cards with gold that I gain by playing the game and finishing quests. Most cards that I can’t find, I can craft using wild cards. No actual money is needed to play the game. Best of all, there is plenty of jank. Disclaimer: I have spent money on the game, though. I told you I’m all in.

#2 – Kids

Look at those happy kids playing soccer in a group without masks.

Kids are usually higher on my lists. However, similar to Dungeons and Dragons, I haven’t been able to hook the older boys on Magic the Gathering. Liam prefers Pokemon. Once upon a time, Aiden played Yu Gi Oh and as recently as a couple of months ago, he organized the cards again. So, while I don’t consider them completely lost causes, it has been a struggle to get them interested.

Quinn, on the other hand, loves Magic. Christine calls him my little buddy and it’s not far from the truth. He and I have even played the board games Arena of the Planeswalkers on more than one occasion. Every now and then, he takes out his dinosaur deck that he created to tinker with it a bit. Part of the reason I stay in the game is to keep his interest until he’s old enough to play with some strategery.

#1 – The Game is Just Healthy Right Now

Many, including myself, have decried the power level of the game. However, having played MTGA repeatedly over the last year and a half, I can say that the power level of Standard and Historic are right about where they want them. You get to play with powerful cards, but you don’t often get blown out in games.

I joked earlier that I swear at the game and that’s not entirely untrue. I do still get frustrated by the perpetual issues of mana screw or flood. But, those games are honestly few and far between. Plus, the developers have gone a long way to trying to fix them with new ideas like higher conditional fetches and flip lands.

Or, whatever they’re calling these things.

Of course, oldbies will argue that the game is completely different from when they played. This always progresses to the game is not as much fun as when they played. I argue this is part of the health of a game that lasted over 25 years. You want to play old school? By all means, do it. Let us poorer nerds have our overpowered Standard so we can pretend we’re as cool as you.

The Verdict

Hopefully I’ve made my case for Magic the Gathering as our tabletop game of the year 2020. While there have been times that I thought I might stop collecting, I’ve always come back. I’m glad that I did. The game is fun. It has a vibrant and growing community. Next year, they are releasing a set based on Dungeons and Dragons. What more could I ask for?

Commander Legends: Cards I Love

Introduction

Commander Legends? Aren’t all commanders legendary? I am the first to admit that I have not played Commander at all. But, even I know that much. Okay, requisite dorky dad joke out of the way, let’s get to the actual introduction.

After all, I am a dorky dad and I have the photos to prove it.

As we often do, Chris and I texted about each new card that we found interesting or fun. I’m not sure who started the text chain this time, but I’ll be honest, I never expected it to persist for as long as it did. Mainly, we haven’t gotten together to play in almost a year (maybe even over a year) due to Covid.

As a result, I’ve seen Chris’s passion for the game die. I’ve been able to keep mine mostly alive by playing a game against the boys. Also, xMage and Arena have kept me going. So, I was more than a little surprise that Chris said that he ordered a box of cards. I followed suit by buying a Commander gift box from Channel Fireball that included two Commander decks. So, after years of saying that I’m a Commander player who never played Commander, we are both suddenly Commander Legends.

White

Commanders I’d Play

Both of these have similar effects. Akroma is just straight stupid with a card like Zetalpa, Primal Dawn that is keyword soup. Prava has the added bonus of being a tiny leader in addition to a possible commander. You could build one heck of a nasty token deck around that card. If Chris gets a copy, I might just buy or trade for it.

Other Cards of Note

Austere Command is just a ridiculously versatile control card that I would run 2 of in pretty much any deck that had white. Sure, it is expensive. But, all of the effects are devastating. In addition to just learning Commander, I have also learned about the Monarch, which was introduced in the Conspiracy set a few years ago. It’s a cool mechanic that introduces new strategies to the game. Akroma’s will works well with Akroma. Not surprising, but my eyes bugged when I saw the card.

Blue

Commanders I’d Play

Turning scry into draw is a seemingly powerful effect. Heck, I just got tricked into picking this card because of that effect. Now that I think about it, though, I wish that the effect was “may” or “scry and then draw”. The second effect might be too powerful. I picked the second because of the partner effect. Unfortunately, I can’t partner the card with my Kira because the CMC has to be below 4 cumulatively. Nevertheless, if both are in play at the same time, good luck casting any removal.

Other Cards of Note

WotC is just trolling us at this point with blue cards that are 5 CMC and have “Force” in the title. Sakashima’s Will is just a cool card. I noticed a card with a similar “choose” effect when I was looking through white, but I wasn’t impressed with the card. This one is a lot of fun. I texted Chris about Body of Knowledge as soon as I saw it. Look at this dumb card, I said. Not sure it is good, but it certainly is dumb. Just my kind of card.

Black

Commanders I’d Play

I have an “Empires” deck that I put together that was the throne, crown, and scepter of empires. Of course, I built a blue deck around them. I was thinking that I could adjust the deck to build around Armix. The only problem is that if I make it Tiny Leaders, I can’t run the crown because it is 4 CMC. Tevesh Szat is just a Commander that you run if you don’t ever want to play a game of Commander. He puts a huge target on you.

Other Cards of Note

Profane Transfusion reminds me of the card from one of the Phyrexia sets. Phyrexian Rebirth. Once upon a time I had the ridiculous idea to build a token deck around that card. Maybe with the Cat Leader from above, I finally can. As I was looking through the black cards, I noticed an elf theme. As elves are usually green, I found that interesting. Rakshasa Debaser is just one of those ridiculous cards that I get in my head will somehow work exactly the way I hope. Yet, it never does.

Red

Commanders I’d Play

I texted Chris about Rograkh, too. I think my exact question was, “exactly how broken is this stupid card?” Actually, that wasn’t my exact question. I think I said something about “speaking of stupid” and he replied with something along the lines of “Dear God”. Looks like we can Alena, then the next turn cast Rograkh and a ton of cheap enhance spells, get a bunch of mana and then cast fireball. GG no re.

Other Cards of Note

Wheel of Misfortune and Explosion of Riches just seems like dumb Hearthstone cards. I simultaneously hate the RNG nature of that game and love the RNG nature of that game. These two cards just feel like they’d end up with half of the table laughing and the other half crying. I texted Chris about Blasphemous Act, “When you absolutely, positively don’t want any friends.”

Green

Commanders I’d Play

(a) Did somebody say elves? I noticed an elf theme in black earlier. I surely would have been disappointed if green did not have a similar theme. Time to brew a GB elf deck of doom. (b) Cascade from hand?! That seems like crazy combo possibility with some of the green cards out there. I’m sure Chris has some ideas.

Other Cards of Note

We heard you like ramp, so we put some ramp in your ramp in Reshape the Earth. That’s crazy expensive and if you have 9 lands on the battlefield, I’m not sure what you’d do with twice that. Then again, I’m not a green mage. Court of Bounty is another interesting monarch card that gives some versatility. And not only does Apex Devastator cascade four times, but if combined with Kodama, you get a creature from hand.

Multicolor

There are only Legendary creatures in the multicolor pool for this set. Therefore, I’ll pick more than the two I had been picking for each color.

Commanders I’d Play

In my research about Commander, I learned about group hug strategy. I don’t entirely understand it. But, from what I gather, that bunny looks like a group hug type of guy. I picked the Boros guy simply for all you players out there who like to take notes. He tells you to do so in the text box. I texted Chris about Yurlok because he brings back mana burn. We joked about him scaring off the noobs with old school rules.

Averna let’s you ramp when you cascade. That’s a neat addition. That abomination is going in my mythical GB elves deck. And, that brings us to Nevinyrral. I texted Chris about this one because I recognized the name from the old disk card. This guy has the same effect with a sizeable body.

Colorless

I joked earlier that WotC likes trolling us with almost Force of Will cards. They have done the same with Lotus cards throughout the years. This one is the closest almost Lotus that we’ve ever had. It very well could see a banning in Commander and especially Tiny Leaders. I could put the Staff of Domination in my terrible Armix deck. And, there is a cycle of diamonds in this set. I just picked this one because it’s not Mox Diamond, it’s Moss Diamond. LOL. *ahem* Colorless sucks in this set. What do you want from me?

The Verdict (Commander Legends cards are fun)

Commander Legends offers some fun stuff for players of the format. Even someone like me who has only fancied himself a Commander player who doesn’t have a playgroup can find something in this set. I have to say that there might even be better cards in here than some of the other more recent standard sets. I mean, I have been having fun with MTGA, but the Zendikar Rising cards are mostly just annoying to play against. So, I commend Chris on his decision to grab a box of Commander Legends. He won’t be let down.

Cards I Love: Hearthstone darkmoon Faire

Introduction

Come one, come all to the Hearthstone Darkmoon Faire! If you’re thinking what I’m thinking then you’re thinking, “Didn’t we just have a Hearthstone expansion? ” Yes, it appears as if the Hearthstone developers have taken a page from the WotC handbook. They are releasing expansions once every 3 or 4 months now. That’s good to keep things fresh.

It is not goo, however, for my bank account.

Yes, in spite of my machinations to the contrary, I am still playing Hearthstone. Hell, Reno even screwed me in a game a couple of days ago. Those of you who are regulars remember that’s why I swore at the game and swore off the game. It’s another card game to keep me somewhat sane through this pandemic.

The Hearthsone Darkmoon Faire, as much of the Hearthstone card base does, takes inspiration from an even of the same name in World of Warcraft. Towards the end of my WoW career, I became an achievement hunter. The Darkmoon Faire filled far too much of my time as a result. But, the Hearthstone equivalent has a twist. Similar to MtG bringing the Eldrazi to Innistrad, the old gods spread their own twisted corruption into the Faire.

Demon Hunter

Felsteel Executioner: Speaking of corruption, our first card has one of the new keywords for this set. The corrupt triggers when you play a higher cost card while the card with corrupt is in your hand. It offers versatility. Honestly, though, it’s one of the weaker keywords.

Throw Glaive: Speaking of keywords, this is just “Echo” with more words. I’ve heard from several programmers who would know that Blizzard is infamous for their “spaghetti code”. Hell, even as an extreme novice to programming, I can see that their stuff is not optimized very well. Regarding this card, it’s gonna be situationally awesome.

Druid

Guess the Weight: In keeping with the faire theme, the name of this card is hilarious. The effect is pretty great, too. I like that Blizzard is willing to take the chance that they make an absolute trash card in order to give us something that we’ve never seen before.

Kiri, Chosen of Elune: At first glance, this card looks like garbage. After all, it does to lightning bolt. Mind you, that’s never stopped me from picking a card to be featured. However, I don’t think this card is garbage. Those two cards have synergy with druid and could lead to some fun combos.

Hunter

Mystery Winner: There was some talk about Hearthstone getting rid of the discover mechanic. I think that would be a very bad idea. Discover is probably the best mechanic to come out of this game. I think they wanted to (and eventually have) do away with the cards that have the ability to iterate the discover process infinitely.

Trampling Rhino: So, they use the keyword in the card name, but then write an entire phrase to explain what that keyword mean in the card description. Perhaps this is the only card that they have planned with this ability and they don’t want to waste the resources. Who knows?

Mage

Grand Finale: I love the elemental mage archetype. I’m not sure there are enough cards to support it in standard. But, I enjoy playing Wild better anyway. Give me all of the broken cards.

Deck of Lunacy: Can you play this card and all expensive spells to get a deck full of Pyroblast? Is that how this works? Well, I guess there’s also Puzzle Box of Yogg Saron. Either way, it’s dumb fun.

Paladin

Redscale Dragontamer: I picked this card because art is hilarious. Yes, Paladin cards this expansion are an absolute joke.

Snack Run: Hey, it’s got discover. That must mean you love it. Well, yes, discover is fun. However, it feels like any time I play the other card that has a similar effect, I get nothing but 1 and 0 cost spells to choose.

Priest

Insight: I think this is the type of card that they were envisioning when they developed the corrupt keyword. It is a decent card by itself with crazy upside if you decide to corrupt it. Compared to this, most of the other corrupt cards feel like an afterthought.

Palm Reading: In addition, this is the kind of discover card that I love. You discover something, plus you get a guaranteed good outcome. This is just a solid and fun card. Priest continues to get strong support cards.

Rogue

Swindle: 2 mana, essentially draw 2? Plus, it is targeted draw in both cases. Looking at the card now and thinking about it, I’m surprised they made it combo and not corrupt.

Tenwu of the Red Smoke: I’m about to go Johnny Combo on you here, but there’s gotta be a way to play this with either the new or old C’Thun to be able to cast the old God multiple times per turn. In fact, I think I’m going to workshop that deck once I get finished writing this article.

Shaman

Magicfin: This guy will fit quite nicely into my wild murloc shaman deck. What do you want from me? Like Paladin, the Shaman cards in this expansion are garbage.

Revolve: First we had evolve. Then we had devolve. Then we had turn everything into murlocs. Now, we have this trash heap of a card.

Warlock

Wicked Whispers: The old gods are back. Their whispers have returned as well. If you’ve ever been involved in a random whisper encounter in World of Warcraft, you realize just how creepy that is. Regarding the card, zoo was already strong. This is just going to make it more so.

Cascading Disaster: Another card with a reference to an MtG keyword in the title. It also almost has that ability. This is the only card I’ve seen that has the repeating corrupt. Once again, I think they missed an opportunity to have more multiple corrupt cards.

Warrior

Sword Eater: What power creep? Years ago, they nerfed Fiery War Axe to 3 and now for one mana more, you get a 2/5 body with taunt. Sure, it’s a turn late and you may lose tempo. However, warrior has so much targeted removal that you might not.

Tent Trasher: I’m not sure how often you’ll get the mana reduction on a regular basis more than one or two, but I like this sort of effect. I wonder if they tested as each minion type played and found it to be too powerful that way.

Neutral

Old Gods and a Bunny: I remember there being something in World of Warcraft with the Rabbit. I don’t remember exactly what it was, but I think it was made into a battle pet after that update. Whatever the reason, this stuff is making me want to play WoW again. Must resist the temptation. Other than that and the old gods, none of the neutral cards are very interesting.

The Verdict (Hearthstone Darkmoon Faire looks fun)

I liked that Ashes of Outland introduced dual class cards. Even if most of the cards were garbage, it is a fun addition to the game that I hope they expand upon with future sets. The cards in Hearthstone Darkmoon Faire aren’t nearly as groundbreaking. What they are, though, is fun. That’s all I ask when playing these games.

Zendikar Rising Notable cards: Miscellany

Introduction

Time for Zendikar Rising notable cards Miscellany. This most recent set of articles has taken significantly longer than anticipated. Maybe not longer than expected, but certainly longer than anticipated. Yes, dear friends, we are well into that annual tradition of back to school. When time is at a premium and that premium time ends up being time spent on the couch watching “Cobra Kai” or “Community”.

I end up striking last, a bit on the soft side, and show too much mercy. Still, for some reason, I relate to Johnny.

Yes, you could argue that if I cared so much about this web page and the content, I would make time while sitting on the couch. And, you’re right, to an extent. I do care about the web page and the content. I wouldn’t continue to pay 12 dollars a month to keep the domain if I didn’t. However, as this is currently just a hobby, well, it just is what it is. And, yes, with an attitude like that, it will most likely remain just a hobby. I’m comfortable with that. Let’s talk Zendikar Rising notable cards miscellany.

Multicolored (Nahiri and Omnath, et cetera, oh my!)

Honorable Mention (Nahiri, Heir of the Ancients): At the beginning of spoiler season, after I was done making a fool of myself by saying that the new Jace is broken af in Legacy and possibly Vintage, I texted Chris about this card. Fear not True Believers, I was not silly enough to call this one broken (or even overpowered) in any format. I simply said, “The new Nahiri looks fun, too.” And, that’s what these articles are all about.

Honorable Mention (Kargan Warleader): I often mention that, while I’ve never played Commander, I look at the game through a Commander lens. I have played a few games of Tiny Leaders against Chris, though, and I enjoy the concept thoroughly. One of my first TL decks was an Alesha, Who Laughs at Death warrior deck. This card would fit nicely there.

Omnath, Locus of Creation">Omnath, Locus of Creation: I don’t usually include actual broken cards in these articles. You can read previous ones to understand why. However, when it feels like WotC is just pushing the power level of Standard to new and ridiculous heights, I am 100% here for it. I watch Legacy and Vintage primarily to watch stupidly broken cards and combos. The difference between them and Standard is that I might actually get to play these stupidly broken cards thanks to MTGA.

Verazol, the Split Current">Verazol, the Split Current: Remember earlier when I said that I fancied myself a Commander player even though I’ve never played a single game of Commander? Well, this card is right up that alley. Technically, it could be a Tiny Leader, too. However, I really want to have the 99 card deck to see if I could truly do some stupid stuff with this card.

Colorless (A One Beast Party and Stupid Fun)

Honorable Mention Stonework Packbeast: I’m not entirely sure why, but as soon as I saw this jank, I knew that I had to include it in this article. I mean, it’s jank. It incorporates one of my favorite new mechanics in the set. Let’s go.

Lithoform Engine">Lithoform Engine: I texted Chris when I first saw this card, “Lithoform Engine is a potentially fun card. Bad, but fun.” He agreed. Well, if we’ve learned anything, that’s right up my alley. Can’t wait to play this dumb, bad, but potentially fun card.

The Verdict (Zendikar Rising Notable Cards Miscellany are just that)

There are some fun cards in this article. A few of the cards might even be competitive. Heck, there’s even a broken card that has caused one banning in standard. Similar to the rest of the set, it just depends on what you’re looking for. I know some people are crapping on this current era in MTG history, but I think they truly are threading the needle as well as can be expected. Sure, the competitive scene might not be as healthy as the past, but honestly, it’s kind of silly that they have a competitive scene for a children’s card game.

Zendikar Rising Notable Cards: Gruul Edition

Introduction

And now, let’s talk about Zendikar Rising Notable Cards: Gruul Edition. We finally got back into the rhythm (somewhat) of posting gaming content on the page here. As mentioned in the last article, school started back up. With the added pressure of Covid-19 this year, it’s been a bit more hectic than usual.

Honestly, I feel good about being able to get things posted only a week into the school year. Hopefully, I’m able to keep that momentum going forward. As you no doubt know, it hasn’t always been easy for me to juggle school and the web page. Seeing as how school is my actual job, that generally takes precedence.

And I’m pretty good at juggling. I will have to practice more.

Well, I’m making a commitment to keep posting at least once (and hopefully twice) a week. I would like to keep the 3 times a week, but that might only happen on comics weeks. Speaking of comics, I know it is severely late, but I’m hoping to make next week comics week. For now, let’s look at some Zendikar Rising Notable Cards: Gruul edition. I promise I won’t give you the spiel again this time. I’m getting sick of writing it. You’ll figure it out. If not, check out one of my other notable cards articles for the skinny.

Red (Is Red Broken in this Set?)

Honorable Mention (Grotag Night-Runner): Hey, look, it’s a sh*tty Goblin Guide. That’s what I thought when I first saw this card. There’s not a ton in this set for me in red, but that’s not surprising. I have never been much of a red player and I probably never will.

Leyline Tyrant – Either I texted Chris or he texted me about this card. I don’t remember how the conversation started. It was probably him. He is our resident dragon whisperer. However it started, I think my main comment was, “Uh, that feels broken.” I admit that I haven’t been paying much attention, but there hasn’t been much hullabaloo about the card, so I clearly was wrong on that. It still seems like a fun and dumb card.

Valakut Exploration: You are about to recognize a pattern. We’ve been talking about patterns in my Geometry class. That has nothing to do with MTG other than I’ve never been one to shy away from non sequitur. The pattern here is that when I first saw this card, I immediately Googled, “breaking valakut exploration”. I found some ideas and I might play around with them on xMage. Again, seems like a dumb and fun card.

Green (The Land Serves Me!)

Honorable Mention (Lotus Cobra): Yes, the subtitle is from a completely different game. A game that I, yet again, swore off from playing a few weeks ago. However, it’s immediately what I thought of when I considered the theme of the cards I picked. I more or less picked this one because it is a staple in my terrible Gx cube decks that I always draft.

Skyclave Pick-Axe – I thought this was neat, because I’ve never seen Landfall on a weapon before. I might be wrong. I mean, there’s over 25 years of MTG history, after all, and I’m often surprised to see a card that’s an established part of that history but just never got played before. So, if there is another weapon out there with Landfall, don’t @ me.

Scute Swarm – I played against a deck in MTGA that abused this card and ended up with something like 40+ tokens. I still could have won if I had drawn any of my mass removal spells. Alas, as is my luck, I did not and the deck ran me over while I held my removal spell in hand, unable to cast it due to drawing it too late. The main point is that they want to bring MTGA to mobile. How are phones going to handle 40 tokens on the field at once? I’m all for it. I’m just skeptical.

The Verdict (Zendikar Rising Notable Cards: Gruul Edition are also underwhelming)

Sure, there are some fun and potentially broken cards in red. However, aside from them, I haven’t been terribly impressed with the set so far. I think Chris is just right and they need to take a break from familiar settings at this point. Sure, there have been some new planes in recent sets, but we’ve gone back to Ravnica (again), Innistrad (again), and Zendikar (again). Heck, we even got another Theros set. I’m excited for new settings to explore.

Zendikar Rising Notable Cards: Esper Edition

Introduction

Well, we are finally getting around to our Zendikar Rising Notable Cards: Esper Edition. Apologies that it’s arriving a bit late. I’m back in school and the beginning of this school year has kicked my butt. You should be happy that I’m back to gaming after all that football the last two articles. Heck, I was only able to recently resume my workout routine and that’s just because we have remote Wednesdays at my school. We’ll see if it persists to Friday.

I mean, heck, I was just finally starting to see some definition in these muscles. Don’t want to lose that!

So, yesterday, I was outed to a colleague that I play Magic: the Gathering. I have installed it on my work laptop. I probably shouldn’t be saying that, but there you have it. Well, we had a Zoom meeting yesterday and I was playing some MTGA. Wow, this entire paragraph could get me reprimanded. Oh well, in too deep now. No going back. Long story short, she saw me playing the game and playfully acted shocked at my audacity. That has nothing to do with the set. I just thought it was a humorous story.

Before I get onto Zendikar Rising Notable Cards: Esper Edition, let me remind you that these aren’t necessarily the best cards. You might not even consider them good. Hell, some of the cards might offend you personally. But, it’s my page. I’m going to pick the cards the way that I want to pick them.

White (It’s my party and I’ll be the fun police if I want to)

Honorable Mention (Practiced Tactics): The new party mechanic is mostly here, I assume, to prepare for the Dungeons and Dragons crossover set that is coming next year. Whatever the reason, I think it is a neat idea with much utility. I’m just glad that I mostly play on MTGA and don’t have to manually keep track of my party.

Journey to Oblivion – I wish that they had given this flash. It’s still good if you can discount it, but I just love the imagined look on my opponent’s face when I cast a flash spell that exiles. Oh well, guess we can’t have it all.

Tazri, Beacon of Unity – Chris and I were texting the other day and I said something about fancying myself a Commander player. Now, mind you, I haven’t played a single game of Commander and only a few games against him of Tiny Leader. Still, I’m intrigued by the format and hope to get a playgroup together when this pandemic is over.

Blue (Tatsumaki Senpukyaku)

(Dis?)Honorable Mention – If you get the reference in the header, then you will understand the theme of my blue choices. This card intrigues me. I’m not sure if it is a misprint or they are just messing with us. If you don’t kick it, it does nothing. I mean, it adds to the number of enchantments you control for spells that rely on that. But, there’s better ways to achieve that. What a dumb card.

Into the Roil – This article is coming so late this time that I’ve actually had a chance to play and play against some of the cards. I haven’t played this one specifically. However I have it in the stupid ramp deck that I grabbed to complete a quest in MTGA. It’s just a “fun” effect and the kicker draws you a card!

Jace, Mirror Mage: Chris texted me this card early in the spoilers. I texted back, “That’s going to be broken af in Legacy”. I’m pretty sure I was wrong about that. Hey, I’ve never claimed to be a professional at any of this. If I’m right, though, I’ll take all the credit and this paragraph will disappear from the article faster than you can say, “SAD!”

Black (The Orzhov have taken over)

Zof Consumption – Chris and I were just texting. I noticed something over the last few expansions and I wanted to make sure it wasn’t just me. I won’t tell you how the conversation started. It is definitely not safe for work. Maybe not safe for any environment. In any case, lifelink is becoming more and more a part of black’s color identity. I first noticed it with Vito, the Rose Thorn or whatever. That’s only because it is an annoying card to play against.

Ghastly Gloomhunter – While the earlier card isn’t strictly lifelink, that’s where our conversation ended. That these cards don’t have lifelink, but they have an effect very much like it. This card has lifelink and more and more black cards are coming out with that keyword. I don’t know why that bothers me. I do know that this card has a stupid name. That’s really the main reason I picked it. I want a job naming cards.

Nighthawk Scavenger – Chris texted me this one, too with the message, “It’s kind of like Tarmogoyf.” I texted back, “But it dies to lightning bolt.” We both got a good laugh from that because his friend who is more competitive than we ever are said the same thing. I guess you had to be there.

The Verdict (Zendikar Rising Notable Cards: Esper Edition are underwhelming)

Other than Jace, there isn’t much to get excited about. And, Jace might not even be all that exciting. I mean, there are some neat drafting strategies. Maybe I’ll mess around on xMage some once the set releases there. Because I’m mostly trash at drafting and I’m not sure how popular sealed is on MTGA, that’s the place that I can do my trash drafting without losing much in the way of resources. I think Chris was right when he said that Zendikar just isn’t that exciting anymore. We’ve been back three (!) times now and maybe the setting is just getting old.

Adventures in Dice Masters

Introduction

Welcome to Adventures in Dice Masters! Honestly, though, I can’t promise that it will be all that adventurous. But, we are talking about Dice Masters. So, you are getting genuine retro content during our promised retro content month to celebrate the anniversary of the page. The only reason I know about Dice Masters is that I picked up a set so that we could review it when the podcast was still active.

You, uh, you do plan on having retro content on your promised retro content month eventually, right?

So, why now for Dice Masters? Well, we went on our annual family vacation to Cape Cod a couple of weeks ago. That’s why we weren’t around for a week. You all noticed that and missed us, right? Right?! Well, in any case, Liam suggested that we play Dice Masters. I don’t know if he was serious or if he thought I might forget or blow him off.

I didn’t. As soon as we got home and settled in, I pulled out the cards and started sorting through them. Life as a collector is generally getting excited that you received a shipment of cards or comic books before the sobering realization that you now have to organize and find a place to store your new goodies. And that, my friends, begins our Adventures in Dice Masters. I told you that it might not be all that adventurous.

My Strategy

I have to admit that I’m not very well versed in the strategy of Dice Masters. We have played the game a few times, but certainly not enough for me to know all of the key words and most of the cards like I do Magic the Gathering. So, when putting together my team, I started with the Green Dragon from Dungeons and Dragons. Why did I choose this particularly powerful (maybe?) and potentially game ending (not so far) card of doom to start my team? I just wanted to use an card not from the Marvel Universe. For whatever reason, we have a twice as many Marvel cards as DC and only a handful of Dungeons and Dragons. I wanted to vary my team with the three universes.

While reading the Green Dragon card, I noticed that it had an ability that allowed you to spin down the dice of your opponent. I thought that was an interesting addition that the dice allow that cards don’t. With card games, you can remove them, but there’s not the same level up or down effect. Unless you’re playing some of the older MTG sets (and there might be some obscure game that takes advantage of it, but I can’t be expected to know all the games) where they have the level up cards. And, so, the theme of my team was set in place. Also, for some unknown reason, I decided to make my team rainbow with one card for each color and two miscellaneous. And now, I present the team for your scorn and ridicule.

Rainbow Spin (A Noob’s Dice Masters Team)

Captain Marvel – Human/Kree Hybrid (Red): So far, in the two games that I’ve played, this has been the key to making the team work. I got her out in the first game and was able to hold Aiden off until he made a mistake and got too aggro one turn. I wasn’t able to field her the second game and his aggro blew me out of the water.

Sabretooth – Survivor (Orange): This one combo’d very well with Captain Marvel in the first game. I’m not sure if I was applying the rule correctly, but the two of them just held down the board for so many turns until I was able to set up for lethal.

Marvel Girl – Telekinetic (Yellow): I thought this character would be an integral part of the team, but I don’t think I’ve played it once. It would have been helpful in the second game against Aiden to save me a turn or two.

Green Dragon – Master Dragon (Green): Again, this is where the team all started. But, like Marvel Girl, I haven’t even had a chance to play the die. I don’t think that I’ve even bought one of the dice yet. Best laid plans, I guess.

Beast – Kreature (Blue): Along with Sabretooth, Beast provides relatively cheap defense while I try to dig for my more expensive dice. Again, combo’d nicely with Captain Marvel in that first game even if I’m not entirely sure that I was applying the rules correctly.

Psylocke – Ninjutsu (Violet): She was an unexpected MVP in the first game. Spun down a few characters. She even got a knockout or two. I will have to buy her more aggressively in the third game.

Giant Man – Original Avenger (Miscellaneous): This character is cheap for a lot of stats. Also, with sidekicks, you can easily spin him up to max level. I like this character a lot.

Doomsday – Unstoppable Rampage (Miscellaneous): Like Marvel Girl, I haven’t played Doomsday at all in the two games we’ve played. But, he is a strong character and the Iron Will keyword is a nice touch.

Action Dice

Smash and Shockwave: Both of these hope to take advantage of all the spinning down I am going to be hopefully doing. They are a bit redundant, but smash is cheaper and so far I haven’t had a need for any AoE. Maybe I will reevaluate after the third game to see if I can replace one of them with another card.

The Verdict

And, so we conclude our adventures in Dice Masters. The team fits very well with my personality. It is a possibly terrible team, but I have a ton of fun playing it. Stay tuned for more Dice Masters content as our two games have inspired me to buy more dice and cards. They’ll be here next week some time. Until then…

Just keep rollin….I’m sorry

Scholomance Academy Notable Cards

Introduction

Why am I doing a Scholomance Academy notable cards article? A couple of weeks ago, I texted Chris that I was done playing Hearthstone. He replied, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Ultimately, of course, he was right to question my commitment to quitting the game. However, if I’m being honest, I have no idea why I even play it anymore. I rarely have fun when I do and it usually ends up being a swear fest. And so it was with my latest threat to quit the game forever.

If you read the file name for this picture, it’s exactly how I felt.

I was playing as mage against a priest or a demon hunter, I think. Played the game pretty well. I mean, I’m not a pro player by any stretch, but I can usually hold my own in a game pretty well. That’s what I did in this game. I don’t remember how I ended up with an Archmage Antonidas on the board for lethal, but he was there. Well, at the beginning of my turn, Reno took care of all that. It cast Plague of Murlocs and I lost.

Live by RNG and die by RNG, right? Well, not so fast. Chris came up with an interesting conspiracy theory that I hadn’t considered. When I said something about the random effects, he responded, “Yeah, random.” I mean it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility. There’s literally a card coded to allow you to discover the “perfect” card for your situation. What if the whole game were coded similarly? But, that’s a discussion for another time. Let’s talk about Scholomance Academy notable cards.

The truth is out there.
Demon Hunter

Shuffle and draw effects are always fun. This one in particular could neutralize card advantage if it’s the last card in your hand and you are playing against a control deck that wants a full hand. Or, it could simply shuffle trash back into your deck to dig for better answers. I like this card a lot even if it doesn’t fit the Demon Hunter theme very well right now. Maybe they’ll move to a more control build in future sets.

Another shuffle effect, but this time it only targets your opponent. Hmm, maybe they are gradually moving to allow for a more control type build for Demon Hunter. I’d like that because the current aggro only builds are tired and I’m getting sick of seeing them in the game. Variety is the spice of life after all.

Druid

Druid didn’t get much in the way of druid only cards. A lot of their cards are dual class (yes, that’s a thing now) and I’ll pick a few of them last. Everyone else loves “Survival of the Fittest” of course, because it allows you to do broken druid things. However, I’ve mentioned in the past that I really like the discover mechanic and the discount on the next spell is so nice. The runner is cool because it virtually guarantees the card draw next turn.

Hunter got even less in the way of single class cards. At least, their list is much shorter than the first two classes. Back in the day, Huntertaker was the most broken deck, maybe in the history of the game. This card makes me think of that deck. Plus, it’s a discover and discount card!

Mage has gotten a couple of these cards in the past that are improved by spell damage. This one is neat because it ties card draw to the mechanic. Can you tell I’m a blue mage in Magic the Gathering? I doubt that it’s possible (Chris always keeps me in check when I ask about MTG), but I wonder if there’s a way to break this card. 2 mana, draw 9 or 10?

This is another one of those removal cards that is okay. It’s one more mana than Frostbolt and only does one more damage. However, with spell power it could be better. Also, like Betrayal, players have to think about positioning to avoid a potential board clear. Plus, it is versatile because it can be single target removal. It’s a well designed card.

Paladin

This card serves a couple of purposes. First, it lets me highlight that the Paladin only cards are kind of garbage if this one is making the list. Secondly, it lets me talk about Spellburst, which is the new mechanic. It triggers when you cast your first spell of the game. It is a neat idea with a lot of utility.

As long as the attack on this minion isn’t lowered in some way or another, this is a neat effect. It basically guarantees removal on any minion that you attack. The first one is guaranteed with rush. After that, you have to hope that you don’t run into some priest attack lowering nonsense.

Nothing about this card is new or interesting. It’s a “just priest things” card with Spellburst. However, it does combo nicely with some of the other “just priest things” out there and could make for some interesting interactions.

Speaking of interesting interactions, just once I want to combo this card with Myra’s Unstable Element to steal my opponent’s deck and then draw all of the cards. I know that Myra’s is a rogue card, but that would just be too funny in my opinion.

Shaman

This card is very expensive and it’s effect is on all minions. Even so, the lifesteal effect is powerful and can help late game against a wide variety of deck types. You know what. Honestly, I have no idea why this card impresses me so much.

I don’t know that there are a ton of lower level shaman spells that will cause this to be recursive in the way that some of the other cards with a similar effect are. However, those are the most fun cards. When you discover into discover into discover and then toss down a mana cyclone for a bunch of spells.

Warlock

All of the Warlock only cards are garbage.

Warrior

Warrior weapons have had cleave for some time now. This one is more difficult to trigger because of the Spellburst requirement. However, with something like Shield Slam, it more or less guarantees a board clear. I mean, is Shield Slam even a card anymore? I guess it could be in the right deck. Oh, the warrior studies card could be fun, too.

This is just a big dumb card that sticks around for 9 turns unless it is silenced. It’s like a persistent, er persist (keyword from MTG) card that is sure to get maximum value for one of my opponents sooner or later.

Neutral

I’m not sure what the running gag is at Blizzard that they keep printing these Rager cards. Every single one of them is garbage (other than the rush one is decent in Arena, or it used to be) but every so often, here comes another one. I guess this one could eat an Earth shock. *shrug*

I’ve seen this card played a few times on streams. I just like the design of the card. It’s card draw, tethered to a condition. However, that condition is generally met on any given turn by pretty much every single class. I have a feeling this one is gonna see heavy play in Arena, too.

Blizzard messed around with a scry like effect with the Demon Hunter card. This one is much more in line with actual scry. With that being said, a Mage played this against me on the first day of the release and lost. Granted, that’s a small sample size and he might have been a terrible player. Still, we have one data point!

Multi-class

I think I mentioned earlier that I would get to Scholomance Academy notable cards for multi-class cards. Now is that time. I’m not sure what about this particular expansion made them create multi-class cards, but I’m glad they did. These cards were some of my favorites when I played the old World of Warcraft TCG. So, let’s take a look.

I’m just going to talk about these quickly because this article is getting kind of long and you probably stopped reading about halfway through. Wave of Apathy is a great card and it combos well with priest stuff. Flesh Giant follows the cost reduction of other giants and fits with both of the classes so well. Lord Barov is instant removal if you can give it rush. Runic Carvings is actually kind of dumb. Not sure what I was thinking including it. The Demon Hunter/Hunter weapon is neat because it has versatility. Finally, I love the combo effect. Having it in other classes, especially mage (and discover to boot!) is fantastic.

The Verdict

Those are my Scholomance Academy notable cards. This expansion introduces some interesting and cool mechanics into the game. The dual class cards are a great addition that is long overdue. I was frustrated with the game because of the Demon Hunter screw ups (and 5 rounds of nerfs) and the previous expansion was kind of lame. But, they made up for it with this one and I might actually play more. No, I won’t. Eff this game. (Just between you and me, I will, but I don’t want to lose face in front of Chris).

M21 Notable Cards Miscellany

What are M21 notable cards miscellany? Colorless, multicolored, lands among others. I’ve already talked about the rest of the color wheel in two other articles I wrote this week. The link is for WUB. If you click below on either that or this article, you can find my picks for RG.

Looking at the spoilers, there aren’t many multicolored cards in this set. Plus, the ones that are in the set just aren’t that great. There aren’t very many colorless cards, either. Plus, being a core set, the lands are fine, but nothing worth mentioning. So, why am I going through with this review?

Well, I started the set reviews. I might as well finish them. Besides, it’s not like the cards are complete garbage. There are some hidden gems in there. Let’s find them.

Multicolor

Sanctum of All: As soon as I saw the promotion for the sanctum cards, I texted Chris about them. He, knowing me and my personality, responded with this card. I replied, “Yep, the one in a million payoff.” I got a few of the shrines in my MTGA packs and I also have shrines from the Historical Anthology cards. I think I’m going to try to build a janky shrine deck for giggles.

Honorable Mention (Experimental Overload): I’m a sucker for a dumb Izzet card every time. This one qualifies.

Colorless

Idol of Endurance: You thought I was going to say Ugin. Or, Sad Robot at least, right? Well, I’ve said numerous times in the past that this isn’t a list of the best cards. Hell, I don’t even pick good cards half the time. I pick cards that I find fun or interesting. This card is sort of like a strictly worse Lurrus. Maybe a post nerf Lurrus? I don’t know. It just looks like it could be a fun card.

Honorable Mention (Solemn Simulacrum): Okay, you were right. I did pick Sad Robot. However, the only reason I picked it is because of the new art. It doesn’t look like a sad robot anymore. It looks like a right fierce and pissed off robot.

Lands

There aren’t any cool lands in this set. No shocks, no cycles, no biomes or triomes, or fetches, either. But there are these sweet art lands. I’m hoping these are the ones that are included in the bundle. If not, I might have to order a playset of them. They are just too pretty.

The Verdict

Those are the M21 notable cards miscellany. Multicolored are a bit lackluster, but there are some decent colorless reprints. No exciting lands, but the art on the ones that I shared is amazing in my opinion. My excitement of the set has abated some, but I’m sure that will all change if I open an Ugin or Teferi when my product arrives next week. Until then, fellow MTGers!

M21 Notable Cards Gruul Edition

Introduction

Time for M21 notable cards Gruul edition. Of course, in the last article, I wrote about the white, blue, and black cards in the set. If you missed that one and you don’t want to go back to read it, I will give you the highlights here. There are a ton of cool reprints in this set. Teferi is blue and he does things at instant speed. I think that about covers it.

Actually, I do have a couple of other things to say. I like the set so much that I ordered both bundles on MTGA. I know that Chris is going to give me crap about that, but I like the game. It lets me play MTG, especially since I’ve had time over the last few months with the stay at home due to Covid. And, as I mentioned last month, there haven’t been any comics.

My other mention is that I went out of order this time. I like this set so much more than Ikoria that I skipped right over Ikoria to purchase my traditional box and bundle of M21. I will go back to buy Ikoria eventually. My completionist brain won’t let me not have that binder. However, for now, let’s see why I made this decision in the first place.

Red (Oh, you like your face? I like your face, too. However, let me rearrange it a bit for you.)

Fiery Emancipation: This card is stupid expensive and mono red will never see the payoff in traditional formats. However, in the right Commander deck, it could do some damage and potentially be tons of fun. I don’t know enough about Commander to know which decks, but I’m sure you nerds will find them

Subira, Tulzidi Caravanner: I have a terrible Alesha, Who Smiles at Death tiny leaders deck. I was inspired by Chris’s friends Darren and Jason. They’re the only “real” people I’ve played against besides Chris and randos at various prerelease events over the last few years. Plus, I really like the tiny leaders format. It’s fun. maybe I can do something similar with this card.

Honorable Mention (Gadrak, the Crown-Scourge): Speaking of tiny leaders. This guy qualifies. I have a feeling it would be quite easy to put together an artifact deck to make this guy work. I’m not the dragon guy, though. Chris is.

Green (You Want Lands? Well, here, play all the lands!)

Asuza, Lost but Seeking: I learned about this card during the Amulet Titan crisis of a couple of years ago. They sort of reprinted this in Theros Beyond Death with the Dryad of the Ilysian Grove and now it’s back in full glory. I just texted Chris that with both of those cards, you could play 4 lands per turn. I’m not entirely sure how to exploit that, but it will be fun to try.

Garruk, Unleashed: I am not a green guy. I’m a blue mage to my core. However, when playing cube, I often gravitate to Gx as my default strategy. Usually it is GB and there was a Garruk card that was always open. So, I’ve sort of adopted Garruk as my favorite green planeswalker. I’m glad there’s a Garruk in standard again.

Honorable Mention (Quirion Dryad): Hearthstone had a deck that was called Miracle Rogue. The same strategy has been tried in druid and maybe other decks. Druid and rogue were the two most popular, though. In digging, I found that the decks had roots in MTG with this card.

The Verdict

Thanks for reading my M21 notable cards Gruul edition. As with the Esper edition, there are some fun cards in this set. I think I get to open my product on MTGA tomorrow and then my paper product should be in the mail in the next week or so. Oh, and I can’t wait to see what this set does to the Cube in Arena. The power level is definitely going to go up!