Tag Archives: Magic the Gathering

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.

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.

Magic the Gathering JumpStart First Impressions

Introduction

I’m only giving my JumpStart First Impressions. I’ve only played through two trial runs of the set on MTGA. I noticed that it was live yesterday and was so excited that I texted Chris. I waited until today to play, though, since I had to do weekly quests. The TLDR is that the set is fun if you play it as intended.

You didn’t hear much from us over the last week. You also won’t hear much from us the week after next. Next week, I will do my comics reviews. Last week, we were in Vermont at a friend’s vacation house. Next week, we are doing our annual Cape trip.

Captain Trips ain’t so bad if you just wear a mask, folks.

Getting back to JumpStart, what do I mean by it’s fun if you play it as intended? Well, as Chris and I have discussed via text, there are some cool cards in the set. As a result, speculators are buying up the set for resale. I mean, it’s a free country and you can do what you want. However, this goes very much against the spirit of the set. Trust me, I will shun you for it. Now, with that nastiness out of the way, let’s talk about my JumpStart first impressions.

The Great

Fun concept – I’ve been frustrated with Magic the Gathering for the last few years. I’ve been working so much that I haven’t been able to get out and draft with real people at all. Chris and I have done a few sealed matches together and those have been fun. However, we haven’t been able to get together as much as we’d have liked. Now, with Covid, we hadn’t been able to get together at all for a couple of weeks. Christine asked why we hadn’t tried since things have settled a bit in our state, but I didn’t have a good answer.

What does that have to do with anything? Well, since when are we above non sequitur here at 2GG? However, this isn’t that. Because I haven’t been able to draft as much as I’d like, it’s made me frustrated. Drafting on MTGA takes some time that I don’t always have. JumpStart remedies that by allowing me to pick two packs, smash em together, and go. No fuss, no muss.

The Good

It’s Still Magic – When Chris and I were texting about JumpStart, he said something about fixing in the decks that would help against mana screw. While that is true, mana screw can still happen. One game in particular from my trial runs, I got screwed pretty hard on mana. However, my informal analysis is that mana screw will happen less on average than in a typical MTG session.

Well, I mean, mana screw is a metaphor. But, I guess this is cool, too.

The reason this is in the good and not the decent section is that there are good synergies in the various packs. I played Doctor Wizards in the first run. Talrand got me at least 5 drakes. I’ve never gotten that many when trying to build a deck around the card. The second time I played Berzerking The Skies or something like that. I didn’t see much in the way of berzerking, but I did fly over my opponent for the win.

The Decent

Speculators – I already touched on this earlier. Those who are regular readers of the page know that Chris and I are no fans of speculators. Sure, some of that is I’m a bit jealous of them and their ability to make money off of the misfortune of others. A recent example is that Chris texted about rumors of Twin being unbanned. So, speculators went and bought them up at a high rate. I wish I’d been able to spike that and make some extra cash.

Relating this back to the topic at hand, it seems that speculators are buying out boxes of the set and driving up the price. 200 bucks for 24 packs of cards is pretty steep. Especially since I still need to buy Ikoria product. However, JumpStart might be a fun way to try to get the boys playing Magic again. And, now I’m a speculator, but for a very different reason.

The Verdict

My JumpStart First Impressions are that the game mode is as fun as I had hoped. The only thing I didn’t like about the MTGA version is that I didn’t get a chance to flip through my deck to see what was in the deck. Actually, I guess there are a few things that I didn’t like. Secondly, you don’t get to keep your cards. You do get two cards as a prize, but you don’t get to keep your deck. Finally, it costs gold or gems each time you play. I thought it might be a promo thing where you paid your admission and then could play through various combos. No such luck. But, the good heavily outweighs the bad and I’m probably going to end up overpaying for a box. Thanks for reading about my JumpStart first impressions. Hope you see yo in the game!

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!

M21 Notable Cards: Esper Edition

Introduction

Time for my M21 Notable Cards Esper edition article. Another core set? Didn’t they do away with core sets a few years ago? Well, yes, they did. Then, along with several other decisions of the time, they reversed course. Core sets are back, Baby! I realize that not all of you are as excited about that as me. However, you may reverse course yourself after you see what this set has to offer.

Chris and I have been texting periodically over the last few weeks every time we see a card that either surprises or excites us. Trust me when I say there have been a lot of texts. This set is insane. Before I get to the part where I talk about the insanity, a few caveats. First, this is not a list of the best cards. There are plenty of those lists. It’s simply a list of cards that I find interesting. Secondly, starting with Theros Beyond Death, I started breaking the card reviews into parts. Hence, the Esper designation. Now, let’s look at some cards.

White (Unleash the Weenies?)

Glorious Anthem – Traditionally, white is either troublesome flying creatures or weenies pumped up with tricks. This card leans heavily in the direction of white weenies. I, for one, welcome our new 1/1 overlords.

Basri Ket – It used to be rare to get new planeswalkers. Well, it felt rare to get new planeswalkers. Now, it feels like the “spark” is being handed out like a clearance sale at the local Wal*Mart. Mind you, I’m not complaining. I like that they shake things up. And this guy looks like he’d get along quite nicely with Elspeth.

Honorable Mention (Nine Lives): This card has crazy Johnny Combo potential. Plus, that art is just fantastic.

Blue (Good Luck casting anything, Buddy)

Discontinuity: OMFG. This card is the bluest blue card that I’ve ever seen in my life. It…ends…everything. Plus it only costs 1U on your turn. I’m trying to think of a time that you’d use it on your turn. Maybe against one of those annoying flash decks that tries to cast everything on your turn. Man, I hate those decks.

Teferi, Master of Time: Who asked for more Teferi? Oh, I’m sorry. It was probably me. When I first started playing Magic again, my most asked question was, “Planeswalker abilities are only sorcery speed, right?” Well, I didn’t talk like a Magic dude, so it wasn’t exactly that. But, you get the point. Now, Teferi throws a monkey wrench into that, too.

Honorable Mention (Sublime Epiphany): This card is expensive. But, look at how many things it can do. That’s a lot of things. Shut up and take my mana!

Black (Countering is great, but removal is fun, too)

Massacre Wurm: This card has a place in my heart since I played a cube game. My opponent was on tokens and I slow played this until he had enough tokens on the board that I could play this and kill him. It’s those kinds of games that keep me coming back for more even as I play against the 13th mono red deck in a row.

Necromentia: Chris once called me a sadist because I said that I really liked Surgical Extraction. I mean, he’s not entirely wrong. And, this card isn’t that. However, combined with Thought Erasure, Agonizing Remorse, or Duress, you could really do some damage to a deck and avoid the drawback of creating zombies.

Honorable Mention (Pestilent Haze): If you are going to create more planeswalkers, you better create some hate. This card isn’t massive hate, but it does slow them down and might even remove one or two in a turn.

The Verdict

Those are my M21 Notable Cards Esper Edition. I very much like this set. In fact, I like it so much that I went out of order in my collection and bought this product instead of Ikoria. Like I said to Chris, Ikoria is nice, but the only real good cards there were companions and they got nerfed into the ground. This set, if I choose to try, could potentially make me some money. I won’t, of course, but it was a consideration.

MTGA Cube First Impressions

Introduction

My MTGA cube first impressions are that it is decent. There’s your TLDR right at the beginning of the article. See you in a couple of days for hopefully some Mortal Kombat content. I’ve been meaning to talk about the new expansion for a few weeks now, but it keeps getting put on the back burner for other material. Who knows? This week might end up being MTG and Pokemon again because I’ve been playing a ton of Pokemon Go. Plus, the expansion for that is coming out. Mortal Kombat coming soon(ish).

When I texted Chris about this after he told me that he was facing peer pressure to play MTGA, he said that his other MTG friends had just texted him the announcement. Guess we’re all excited.

I’ve only done one draft so far on my smurf account, so these are truly my first impressions of the cube experience on MTGA. I’ve played cubes before, mostly on xMage. However, I have done one or two on MTGO and I’ve watched numerous cubes on streams. Mostly, those are Legacy or Vintage cubes, so my sense of power level might be a bit warped. Bear that in mind as you read.

The Great

Trigger warning: I’m about to be cliche. It’s cube! On MTGA! Okay, so what does that all mean? Well, limited formats are my favorite, for sure. I don’t mind constructed, but there’s something about cracking 24 packs and trying to make a cohesive deck from the nonsense contained in those packs. I’m not the best drafter, by any stretch. Hell, I might not even be a good drafter. But, I love drafting.

And, now I can on MTGA. MTGA is my go to for Magic the Gathering right now. When it first got released, I called it MTG: Hearthstone Edition, but I’m eating my words now. I guess I just saw too many digital MTG products come and go with little to no support. This one got support and I’m glad. Especially with Covid-19, I can still play Magic on a regular basis.

The Good

And you draft against real players! Drafting against real players is awesome. The bots will usually just take the perceived best card without regard for what’s open, what you can hate draft, etc. Most people are like me, in the middle when it comes to drafting, but our decisions are based more in our priorities and perceptions of what others are doing.

The Decent

I mentioned that I’m used to Legacy and Vintage drafts. So, I’ve seen cards like Massacre Wurm (back in standard!), Elesh Norn, and Jace the Mind Sculptor. So, it’s a bit of let down when I look at the card pool for the MTGA Cube. Thanks to more powerful recent sets and some strategic reprints, there are some powerful cards like Mirari’s Wake, Thalia, and the pictured Liliana. Overall, though, the power level is what you’d expect for a Historic/Pioneer card pool.

Note: This might change with M21 because as I eluded with my Massacre Wurm parenthetical, there are some insane reprints coming with that set.

The Verdict

Like I said earlier, my MTGA cube first impressions are that it is decent. I enjoy the cube experience and I’m glad that it is in MTGA. With the power level being a bit lower and drafts still costing money if you want to draft more than about once a week, I don’t see it becoming my go to Magic the Gathering experience any time soon. I will still mostly just play Standard/Historic on MTGA and do my cubes on xMage where they are free.