First Esper, then Gruul, now the Forgotten Realms Miscellany article. I am on a damn roll this week with content. Fear not, though, I have nothing planned for next week and the following week is the annual Cape Cod trip. So, the page will be languishing again in no time. Look forward to that!
But, for now, revel in the fact that we are here and providing you with at least second tier content. Chris texted me yesterday, “There’s a lot of good cards in the set.” I replied, “Yeah, it’s a fun set.” Of course, that reply came before I reviewed green, so I was grading on a bit of a curve. Nevertheless, I like the set and I agree with myself that they’ll probably make another D&D set once they see how popular this one is. Let’s see what fun cards are in Forgotten Realms miscellany.
Forgotten Realms Miscellany: Dungeons and Artifacts
I already touched on dungeons in one of the other articles, but I only showed one of them at that time. These three cards represent some of the most recognizable dungeons in the game Dungeons and Dragons. I can’t wait to put together my dungeon themed Tiny Leaders deck.
Speaking of dungeons, here’s a map! Plus, 50 feet of rope! But, watch out for that Mimic! Ah, mimic, the reason that generations of Dungeons and Dragons players have trust issues.
Forgotten Realms Miscellany: Multicolored
This section became a showcase for some of the most iconic names in Dungeons and Dragons history. Tiamat fills two purposes, one as a major geek-gasm and the other as a flavor win by being 5 colors. The alt art isn’t for Xanathar, but I wish it was. Maybe I will commission an alter to make it so. Finally, I never read nor played any of the Forgotten Realms setting, but even I know Drizzt.
Forgotten Realms Miscellany Gives Us Some Fun Cards
I love the dungeon concept. I wish they gave us more of them, but three gives enough variety now. Who knows? Perhaps they will make more or the MTG/D&D community will make more for us to use. Every single one of those artifact cards is going in my dungeon themed tiny leaders deck. I told Chris that I’m going to have fun opening my box of this set and I will. I just hope they make another D&D set and selfishly, I hope they base it on Dragonlance next time.
Yesterday, I rolled up into your life after 2 months like nothing ever happened with the first of my MTG Forgotten Realms articles. Today, I bring you Forgotten Realms Gruul Edition. These colors are always the most difficult for me to pick cards. I am in no way shape or form a red or green mage. Chris is, which is what makes our one-on-one duels so much fun. We end up on opposite ends of the color wheel almost every single time.
Though Chris has rubbed off on me a bit through our games and conversations, keep this in mind as you read the article. I pick red and green cards through they eyes of a blue (and sometimes black and white) mage. Don’t expect any one turn kills or massive mana spikes. No, for this Forgotten Realms Gruul edition, you may have to suffer through card draw and counter spells. It could happen! Red got Tibalt’s Trickery after all.
Red: Give me a quest, a baby Embercleave, and a possible 2 turn kill
Honorable Mention (You Find Some Prisoners/Dueling Rapier): I sent both of these cards to Chris. I like You Find Some Prisoners because it again illustrates a facet of Dungeons and Dragons. Since it is basically a cooperative storytelling game, as I explained to Chris, you often find yourself faced with decisions like this that are introduced in such a manner as “The party…”
When I texted Chris, I captioned “Dueling Rapier” with “Baby Embercleave”. Now that I look at it again, it is more like fetus Embercleave. Still, a fun card, just not the tiny broken weapon I initially rated it as. Now that I say that, someone will break it, most likely against me.
Minion of the Mighty: Yep, you guessed it again. I texted this one to Chris. My exact quote: “This is going to be a problem.” Sure enough, the next day, some web pages wrote articles about how it enabled turn 2 kill in some formats. Granted, it requires a specific set of cards, but most combos do. I just like to pat myself on the back when I get a card right.
Green: Give me a cursed idol, a neat trick, and a tiny leader
Honorable Mention (You Find a Cursed Idol/Wild Shape): Green cards in this set are pretty lame. I consider none of them good or even fun. These three represent the most fun and they are pretty damn awful. Cursed Idol, at least, has some versatility. Wild Shape, too, and it can be a fun trick to play at the end of the game to give you another turn to find an answer. I wish one of the options gave you deathtouch, but that’s neither here nor there.
Varis, Silverymoon Ranger: I have a tiny leaders deck with Yisan, the Wanderer Bard. It’s a fun deck that isn’t terribly tuned, but it was able to beat Chris’s even less tuned deck. As soon as I saw this card, I wanted to build a tiny leaders deck around a dungeon theme. Again, not a great card, but I guess if pressed I could call this one fun.
The Verdict (Forgotten Realms Gruul Edition weighs heavily in favor of red)
Red gets some of the most fun and powerful cards in the set. Green is all but forgotten in both cases. I suppose not all colors can be winners in every set, but they’ve actually been pretty good about printing powerful cards and balancing all colors in that regard. Maybe I’m missing something. It wouldn’t be the first time. However, thinking back on it, Chris and I didn’t share many green cards during our spoiler texts, so maybe green is just bad this time around. Thanks for reading my Forgotten Realms Gruul Edition and come back tomorrow for the miscellaneous cards.
Welcome back (after an unintended and extended layoff) to my Forgotten Realms Esper Edition article. Those of you who frequent the page on a semi-regular (as I make it difficult to visit on a regular basis due to not having a proper posting schedule the last couple of years) basis know that these articles are ways for me to highlight the “notable cards” of a set. If you want competitive cards, search for them. There are plenty of those articles.
Okay, now for a quick explanation of where I’ve been. Again, those who are regular readers of the page know that I get busy at the end of school, so that is often a time that the page is lacking content. Usually, though, I make up for it by starting my summer blitz that lasts until about February, where updates become sparse again. This year, my wife and I went to the Florida Keys almost as soon as school ended. So, the dark period lasted a bit longer this year.
Know that we still thought and cared about you. And, yes, I meant to say “we” there. Twice, Chris and I planned to talk about the new Modern Horizons set. The first time, I flaked on the recording and the second, we planned it for Father’s Day, which interfered with my plans. And, so, unofficially, 2 Guys Gaming is dead. But, I put a few hundred dollars into this page, so why not continue to throw bad money after bad and keep seeing if something ever happens here. Besides, I like writing and I like writing about games. On to Forgotten Realms Esper Edition.
White: I want removal, a planeswalker that turns into a dragon, and a pet gargoyle that enters the dungeon
Honorable Mention: (Cloister Gargoyle and Minimus Containment): I start with containment, even though it is right most in the preview. I sent this card to Chris and he replied about not liking giving the other person mana. I can respect that, but it hits literally everything. Having played against far too many Ugins in MTGA, I replied, “Eff your Ugin.” “Ooooh, he said, that can be powerful.”
I chose Cloister Gargoyle because I don’t think I’ve ever previewed/reviewed a gargoyle card, but I often think the cards are neat. This one also showcases a new mechanic in Forgotten Realms, the dungeon. After all, the set is named after the iconic RPG, Dungeons and Dragons. How are you not going to incorporate both into the set? Well, they have, as you’ll see in future installments of this series.
Grand Master of Flowers: I doubt this card has very much utility. However, I became enamored with the fact that it turns into a big old indestructible dragon god. I also thought, what if we combined this with the new Kasmina in a Bant deck. Oh, what the heck, my Timmy mind went crazy. Why not put together a five color EDH Superfriends deck and have all the Planeswalkers. Look for that deck in the coming weeks.
Blue: Give me another planeswalker, an almost lich, and some card draw
Honorable Mention (Mordenkainen/Contact Other Plane): I also sent Mordenkainen to Chris, this time with the comment, “Overcosted as hell, but a fun card.” This one is definitely going in my Superfriends deck. I mentioned in a previous article (and never finished the cycle) that I like drawing cards. Contact Other Plane lets me draw cards. It also brings another iconic D&D action to MTG. Roll a d20. Not a spindown counter. An actual, factual d20.
Demilich: You guessed it. This one went to Chris. I actually sent it to him while we were walking through Laguardia airport to catch our connection to Key West. That’s how much I liked this card. I said something along the lines of, “It’s not Legendary, either, so you can chain them.” I don’t think it will be as powerful as Narcomeba or anything, but it is going to be a fun, fun card to play in many formats.
Black: Give me a warlock, an indestructible zombie god, and some card draw.
Honorable Mention (Warlock Class and Deadly Dispute): Another mechanic integral to D&D is the class system. After picking your character’s race, you inevitably pick their class. This card showcases one of those classes and also a leveling curve to improve the quality of the card. Very cool design.
This episode of “this card is black?” features Deadly Dispute. Look, I understand that they’ve adjusted the color wheel recently to include different strategies for each of the colors. I’m just having some difficulty adjusting, I suppose. This card is really just Village Rites with upside. Even so, I still think it should be blue. Of course, I do.
The Book of Vile Darkness: I might have shared this card first with Chris. I definitely shared it early in the spoiler cycle. They took until the end of the cycle to share the Hand and Eye of Vecna, so I had no idea even what abilities that zombie might have. As you see, they’re pretty damn good abilities. Fun stuff!
The Verdict (Forgotten Realms Esper Edition is good, but not great)
A few of the cards previewed here are fun. I definitely want to build that Superfriends deck now and go off with some Planeswalkers. Also, I love the idea of building a stupid Vecna deck and trolling MTGA players with that one. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones to see me in casual with it. Until then (and until next time for the Gruul cards), have fun out there, fellow MTG nerds!
Yesterday’s Strixhaven Esper review marked a triumphant return to the page for me. Today, we look at the Strixhaven Gruul cards. Traditionally, as you all know, these colors have been my strong suit. Nevertheless, I soldier on and do my duty to pick the cards for this article.
If you read yesterday’s article, you know that many of the cards I picked fit right in with nonexistent, as of today, commander decks. I suppose that it’s time to brush off the old, “I’m a Commander player that has never played a single game of Commander.” Sooner or later, I’m going to have to stop saying that. But, not today, true believers!
Today, I pick the best cards from my worst colors. Red and Green are Chris’s thing. Maybe I should get his input for this article. Too bad he swore off this set completely in one of our last text chains. Oh well, I guess you’re stuck with my Strixhaven Gruul cards.
Red (Play a better color like black or blue)
Honorable Mention (Draoconic Intervention/Retriever Phoenix): The requisite phoenix in the set dies to all removal. However, it gives us another use for our Learn mechanic as long as it isn’t exiled. Being a blue player, I don’t know why you wouldn’t use Learn to cycle, but that is between you and your god. The other is just mass removal because, if I’m forced to play red, I’m playing it like black.
Conspiracy Theorist: This card is simply amazing. I honestly have no idea why this card is not blue. It does blue things. Everything it does is blue. I get that WotC switched up the color wheel and moved some things into new colors. It adds much needed diversity to the strategy of the game. Even so, I operate under the assumption that this card is blue.
Green (Some Johnny, Some Timmy, Some Spike?)
Honorable Mention (Accomplished Alchemist/Bayou Groff): That plant dog looks like he’s not a good boi. However, he hits the board pretty quickly in a token deck. If you get it out there and give it trample, it does some serious damage. Meanwhile, the elf shows up because the Johnny Combo that lives deep in the recesses of my brain wants it to be there.
Leyline Invocation: Admittedly, few universes exist where this card excites Spike. I wanted to complete the trilogy, but Spike avoids me. And so, I present a Timmy/Johnny bastard child that ultimately does nothing. What can I say? I like the Fractal token.
The Verdict (I warned you)
I told you from the beginning. I despise red and green. Okay, that’s not entirely true. However, I treated red like blue or black and basically memed all over green. If you want red or green picks this time, I guess we wait to see if Chris responds with his picks. Since he already said he wants nothing to do with this set, don’t hold your breaths.
Note: Spoilers courtesy of Mythic Spoiler. Check them out for all your spoiler needs!
Welcome to our Strixhaven Esper review. I tried something different with my most recent Hearthstone reviews. Unfortunately, that format isn’t conducive to Magic the Gathering reviews simply because of the number of cards in the average MTG set. Therefore, MTG reviews remain a single card (with two honorable mention) for each color, mult-colored, and colorless (plus land, if applicable). Chris chose to pass on Strixhaven. I ordered my usual box/bundle combo. However, I have yet to even open my Zendikar Rising product. Granted, I am on vacation this week. Even so, I have no motivation.
I promised to put up at least one YouTube video this week to try to build some momentum there. I noticed that my Shadowlands reaction video got 190 views. It gave me the idea to post some gameplay from the new Atari 2600 game, Circus Convoy. I ordered two copies because the cartridges don’t work with my emulator. I was going to give the non-collector copy away in an attempt to drive traffic/subscribers.
Chris agrees that the idea has both merit and potential. I still have time during the vacation. I just have to hope that the motivation loads before vacation ends. But, that’s a discussion for another time. Let’s take a look at these Strixhaven Esper cards.
White (Fun Police and Invisible Decks)
Honorable Mention (Study Break/Expel): The two honorable mention cards work well together in a fun police deck. We all know those are my favorite decks to play. Even alone they have some utility. Plus, Study Break gives me the opportunity to talk about a new mechanic, Learn. I like the flexibility of Learn.
Secret Rendezvous: This card combos quite nicely with Narset, Parter of Veils in my nonexistent Dragonlord Ojutai EDH deck. One of these day, surprise! Deck built and used to terrorize opponents on MTGO. More likely, look for the deck on xMage since I’m already invested in physical cards and MTGA. Who knows? Maybe if FNM in person ever returns, the deck makes an appearance there.
Blue (Draw Cards, then Draw More Cards)
Honorable Mention (Ingenious Mastery/Teachings of the Archaics): I like drawing cards. I know. We all like drawing cards. Drawing cards gives us more cards to draw more cards. But, me, I really like drawing cards. I like drawing cards so much that if they gave an award for drawing cards, I wouldn’t win the award because I’d be too busy drawing more cards.
Multiple Choice: This card is hilarious. From the ridiculous design to the apt name, this card is going into every single deck I run that’s blue. Those of you who visit the page often know that’s every single one of my decks. Especially that Dragonlord Ojutai deck. Maybe if I say it enough, I can manifest the deck from thin air.
Black (Show Some Love for Liliana)
Honorable Mention (Go Blank/Plumb the Forbidden): Go Blank is Mind Rot with upside! Plumb the Forbidden might actually overtake Ms. Liliana as my choice card. I just came up with an idea for another nonexistent EDH deck. This one builds around an as of now unknown Esper commander, but uses Bastion of Remembrance and possibly Jace, Wielder of Mysteries. Is there an Esper commander that creates tokens? Did I mention that I like drawing cards?
Professor Onyx: Have I declared my love for Liliana on the page yet? If not, let this serve as that declaration. She and Jace repeatedly top my list of favorite Planeswalkers. Sure, there was that brief fling with Teferi (3,4, and 5 mana cost all) and Narset plays in my MTGA decks. But, I have an Instagram post from a couple of years ago with both Jace and Liliana on the field. Hell, I used this card as an example of why I was excited for the set in a text to Chris. Toss it into my imaginary Esper EDH deck as well.
The Strixhaven Esper cards I picked for the article look very fun. All of them give me ideas for decks. I’m currently texting Chris about some NFL news and I’ve considered telling him that I want to deck doctor, especially these imaginary EDH decks I keep talking about. Join us next time for the Gruul colors!
In the first two articles of our Kaldheim review, we saw some underwhelming Esper cards and terrible red cards with a side of decent value greens. Now, we move on to multicolored and artifact cards. Sometimes I also choose land cards. Hence, the name Kaldheim miscellaneous edition.
As I looked through the list of cards to write the article, I noticed multicolored sage enchantments. I texted Chris to ask if they existed before this set. He couldn’t remember seeing them before. Now, if someone paid me to do this job I might actually research this. Since nobody pays me, we have to live with my wild speculation and conjecture.
After all, isn’t that more fun? There are so many other pages out there that will give you accurate and helpful information. We here at 2 Guys Gaming pride ourselves in focusing on the fun aspect of nerd culture. Come have some fun with me analyzing Kaldheim miscellaneous cards
Multicolored (Saga!, Planeswalker that made people big mad, and a Tiny Leader)
Multicolored Saga I Love: I just lied. I don’t actually love this card. In fact, out of all of the sagas in the set, this one is probably the most trash. Truth be told, I don’t love any of the sagas in this set. I love the multicolored border. If they’re all trash, why not pick the most trash of them to highlight that fact?
Multicolored Tiny Leader I Love: I love this card. You may remember me saying in the past that I consider myself a Commander player who hasn’t played much Commander. I now own a couple of Commander decks now, at least. I have played quite a bit of Tiny Leader, though, and prefer that format. It’s just so much easier putting together a deck of 50 as opposed to 100 cards. Usually Chris does these Johnny Combo type equipment decks, but I’d like to give it a shot with this guy.
Multicolored Planeswalker I Love: Technically, I lied again. I don’t love this card. It’s fine and I’m sure it has a home somewhere. It’s just not my style of UW card. Too much damage and not enough fun police. I love that Niko is nonbinary and that irritated some people. With the Potato Head reaction, people are just way too concerned with the non-existent genitals of fictional characters.
Land I Love
The World Tree: Last time, I promise. I lied again. Looking at the artifact card, I found none that impressed me. Instead, I decided to look at the lands. But, not the snow covered lands. Eff those things. Somehow I forgot about this card in spite of the fact that I texted Chris about it when I first saw it spoiled. I said, “Put this in my ‘Potentially broken card that will get repeatedly played against me on MTGA and get full value every time”. See Sanctum of All.
The Verdict (Kaldheim miscellaneous cards finish the underwhelming review)
So far, other than for collecting, I don’t see a need to buy any Kaldheim product. I collect more than play at this point, so I will purchase my usual set/bundle combo at some point. Hearthstone is releasing a new set and I play that much more than MTG at this point, so I will buy some cards there first, pay for my March DCBS order, and then think about finally dropping money on Kaldheim.
Spoiler images courtesy of Mythic Spoiler. Check them out for all your MTG spoiler needs.
In my previous article, I came to the conclusion that my assessment of Kaldheim as a lackluster set was correct. Seeing as how those are my favorite colors in MTG, I don’t see anything changing in this article. Nevertheless, in the name of journalism and completionism, join me as I review Kaldheim Gruul Edition. Perhaps I will call it Christmas edition.
Red used to be a minor nuisance to me. Now, I actively hate the color and feel rage building behind my temples when I see a mountain played. I texted Chris about my irrational disdain for snow lands. He correctly chastised me for my irrationality. “They’re lands…covered in snow.” He replied.
While I can’t explain the snow lands thing, my hatred for red is organic. Being a blue mage, red is a natural enemy color. Furthermore, all the try hard kids on MTGA play red. Every now and then they slip by my defenses (or I draw a seemingly infinite number of lands and/or uncastable cards). Most of the time, I destroy them and feel great about it. With all of that being said, I promise to be unbiased and choose some great Kaldheim Gruul edition cards.
Red (Tuskeri, Treasures, and Trickeration!)
Mechanic Spotlight (Tuskeri Firewalker): I said in the last article that I try to highlight the keywords included in any set. Boast is sort of like Raid from Ixalan in that you have to attack with a creature to trigger it. Of the cards with Boast in red, this one is the best, which should give you an idea of how terrible the mechanic actually is.
Honorable Mention (Goldspan Dragon): Chris texted about this card during spoiler season. Not a surprise as he is our resident dragoon guy. I responded, “That’s a damn red questing beast!” While not quite on that power level, I have had it played against me in MTGA. It is a problem if you don’t remove it quickly.
Red Card I Love (Tibalt’s Trickery): I truly love this card. It does blue things by countering a spell. It also does black things by milling cards. Then, it cascades into potentially stupid and broken things. The first time someone played this card against me, I refused to read it, simply waiting to see if I had to concede against this stupid combo. My opponent bricked, I won the game, and then I went searching for the potential of the card.
Green (Praetor, Poison and Ptroll – the P is silent)
Honorable Mention (Old-Growth Troll): In keeping with the theme of this set, the writers of this card made their money. Okay, okay, I promise to stop beating that dead horse. Seriously, though, FNM (if they ever happen again) matches are all going to go to time because people need to read the cards. I like this card because it does just about everything that green wants to do.
Honorable Mention (Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider): I texted Chris when I saw this card, “Looks like Praetors are back.” Well, I was partially right. One praetor is back. One is enough to continue the conversation. “Thank goodness they decided Phyrexian mana was a mistake.” Granted, they walked back other decisions in an attempt to make them more “fair”. Eldrazi, Part 2 anyone?
Green Card I Love (Fynn, the Fangbearer): Speaking of Phyrexia and annoying old mechanics that I hoped never to see again, I actually hate this card. When someone first played it against me, I texted Chris (of course), poison is back in Kaldheim. He expressed surprise and I texted him a copy of the card. First time, I never drew removal. Congrats to that person on their well earned win. /s Ever since, I’ve had removal and this guy folds like a cheap card table. Once I even stole it and used it against my opponent.
The Verdict (Kaldheim Gruul edition plays out as you’d expect)
Red cards stink. Green cards have some utility and can be fun. I doubt I will actually play any of them. Right now my only deck with Red and Green is a Historic sacrifice Jund deck that I only use to complete quests on MTGA. But, I did my diligence and wrote the article. Don’t say I never did anything for you all.
Spoiler images courtesy of Mythic Spoiler. Check them out for all your MTG spoiler needs.
Do you want to say it? Or, should I? I guess I have the floor. I will say it. What’s this? Actual gaming content on this gaming web page? Yeah, I know. Cheap joke. I still chuckle every time I write it. Okay, with the silliness over, I can concentrate on Kaldheim: Esper edition preview.
Well, maybe just a little bit more of silliness. If you’re new here, don’t fret. I promise we offer more than terrible Dad jokes. Admittedly, not much more, but this article reviews white, black, and blue cards for the latest Magic the Gathering set, Kaldheim. It comes after the set already released for several reasons. I apologize for that.
Instead of rehashing those reasons in detail (mostly that school keeps kicking my butt on a weekly basis), let’s concentrate on the positive. Of the recent releases, Kaldheim grabbed my interest the least. I have not embraced the lore of Vikings as much as the average geek. You probably expect me to say, “Boy, was I wrong.” Usually when I set it up like that, I then respond with the opposite. However, the truth is that I’m basically holding out for the MTG/D&D set. In the meantime, join me as I take a look at Kaldheim Esper edition.
White (A Wrath, Exile, and Big Butt Oxen, Oh My!)
Honorable Mention (Giant Ox): An ox with a giant butt that can pilot vehicles? How can I not pick this card as one of my favorites from the set? That answer, of course, is that I can’t not pick it. This card is so much fun that I just committed a double negative on its behalf.
Honorable Mention (Divine Gambit): Regular readers of the page know that I often speak out against the fun police. This represents a do as I say and not as I do situation. I absolutely love playing the fun police. Therefore, I allow nobody else to play this strategy.
White Card I Love (Doomskar): I usually try to highlight some of the new mechanics with my picks. This one has Fortell, which is probably my favorite new mechanic from this set. I won’t insult your intelligence by explaining it since they literally wrote it on the card. Chris and I both agree that the designers got paid by the word in this set.
Blue (Draw Cards, Punish Timmies, and Storm Crow?)
Honorable Mention (Alrund, God of the Cosmos and Hakka, Whispering Raven): Speaking of getting paid by the word. There’s eight words in the name of this card alone. Aside from that, you said, “You’re not usually one for god cards.” That’s true. Chris is our Spike/Timmy and he goes for the god and dragon cards. I just couldn’t resist having “Storm Crow” in my review article.
Honorable Mention (Icebind Pillar): I just said to Chris yesterday, “I don’t know why, but snow lands trigger me terribly.” I feel like he lost some respect for me after I said that. That’s neither here nor there, of course. I like this card because it messes with other people’s plans. It’s no Winter Orb. But it can make for a bad day for the occasional Timmy that sneaks one big creature by my counterspells and removal.
Blue Card I Love (Behold the Multiverse): This is probably my favorite card from the entire set. It fortells. Scries. Draws cards. In a standard where blue cards blue, this one probably blues the hardest. Granted, the requisite 1BB counterspell exists and that also fortells. However, that fortell is much less versatile in my opinion. Hence, this cards gets the edge.
Black (Can this be reduced? An enchantment? A good card?)
Honorable Mention (Blood on the Snow): I wish this card got mana reduced with devotion or something. I know that isn’t a mechanic in this set, but they have gods. They could easily break the rules. They have in more recent sets. Yes, I realize that would make this card extremely broken. That hasn’t stopped them. Oh well, it’s still a symmetric wrath that I want to see the animation on MTGA.
Honorable Mention (Draugr Necromancer): In keeping with my theme of “I wish”, I wish this card was an enchantment. Again, I know that makes it terribly broken. Isn’t it about time that black gets a completely broken card that they threaten to ban before it’s even released?
Black Card I Love (Withercrown): I really don’t love this card. I just hate it the least out of all of the black cards in this set. I mean, I’ve seen some stupid combos out of black in this set, but I’m not a combo player. I’d rather just kill you with a thousand cuts from a thousand pieces of paper. Yes, I’m sadistic when it comes to MTG. But, you already knew that.
The Verdict (Kaldheim Esper edition cards are mostly underwhelming)
I think the only Esper card I’ve played from the set with any regularity is Behold the Multiverse. As I just said, I have seen some combos with the Tergrid cards. Also, I got got by double vision and the card that makes 1/1s and gives you extra turns. I just don’t like playing combo decks. The point is that some of you out there might find some cards that you enjoy better. That’s the great thing about MTG and the reason it’s still going after over 25 years. There’s something there for every play style. Join me in a couple of days for the Gruul cards from the set.
Spoiler images courtesy of Mythic Spoiler. Check them out for all your MTG spoiler needs.
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.
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
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.
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.
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? 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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