Recapturing the Magic


I did an article a few weeks ago about the Nicol Bolas Archenemy set after playing it with Aiden and Quinn. While we still haven’t had a chance to play all four of us, we did simulate the experience recently. I played as both Bolas and one of the Gatewatch decks. What I found is that the encounter is tuned for 3 players to face the dragon. Not a huge surprise, but fun to see how precise Wizards has gotten in tuning the game. There are still powerful cards and decks in all formats, but they have come a long way since the overpowered Tarkir block and Standard is the most open that I’ve seen in the 3 or 4 years that I’ve been watching. In either case, once we get a chance to play the game as it is intended with all four of us, I will give another impression. This article is about the latest expansion, Ixalan.

The Good

Chris and I have been texting a bit back and forth about the recent sets. Nothing really jumped out at us from Kaladesh or Amonkhet, even if he was excited about the theme of Amonkhet. I think I might have mentioned it in my last article, but it didn’t even look like Ixalan would get me back into the game. Then, a few things happened. One, I stopped collecting comic books again. I enjoyed the stories and the community that I was starting to build, but I just couldn’t justify the cover prices anymore, especially at the rate I was buying the books. That freed up some money for other nerd pursuits. Then, I ran the idea of the set by Liam and he said, “Cool!”

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

So, I took that saved comic book money and I blew it on a booster box and Fat Pack (now called a “bundle”, I think) for Ixalan because that’s how I roll. Primarily, I’ve been a collector and that usually gives me the most bang for my buck. I get a majority of the cards from the set for my binder and usually enough to add some cards to the couple of decks that I still have.

Granted, I still have to open the product. Some of that is neglect on my part. It took me forever to open my Amonkhet packs. I might even have half of a box that wasn’t opened. I know for a fact that we have Dicemasters left to open from the box that I purchased for the draft that we did a few months ago. Most of it, though, is that Liam was so excited for the cards that I wanted to open them when he had a chance to help us. He’s been in play, which has been intense over the last two weeks because it was showtime, but now that’s all over. In addition, I’d like to capture some content for a YouTube channel that has been criminally ignored for the better part of 2 years.

Actual footage from our YouTube channel. Actually, this would get more views.

So, this whole review is a bit disingenuous. When has that ever stopped us? I can definitely say that it is a good thing that I’m back into the game of Magic, even if I haven’t actually played against Chris in several months. He, too, has seen his interest in the game grow through his online business selling cards, so it might only be a matter of time before we get together for one of our infamous nerd nights and bust out the Magic cards.

The Bad

Knowing very little about the set, I can’t really give much in the ways of honest impressions, as I said earlier. However, I will say that no matter my chosen nerd hobby of the moment, I tend to go overboard. I was spending almost 200 dollars a month in comics for most of the year. I bought a box of Dicemasters and Heroclix to prepare for a podcast episode that was supposed to be made several months ago (and finally hopefully will this weekend). I always buy a booster box and fat pack of every Magic set (including going back in history to the first Mirrodin set when I started getting back into gaming all those years ago) and I’m now trying to resist purchasing an XBox One, even though it would make for good gaming partners with Kevin, maybe Chris, and the boys.

Tom gets me.

So, it is bad that I’m back into Magic. It isn’t as bad as if I decided to start buying comics again. I think I might have even said as much to Chris during one of our conversations. Something along the lines of Magic might have been expensive, but at least it was only 200 dollars every couple of months instead of every month and the cards have more utility than the comic books. The comic books are easier to display, but who the hell do I have coming to my house to look at my comic book collection? At least with the cards, I can play the game against my kids even if Chris and I are too busy to hang out.

The Ugly

You know, I put together this format early in my blogging career…wait, can you call it a career if you’ve never made a dime from it? Nevertheless, this format worked well for my Steelers page because there’s almost always at least one good thing, one bad thing, and one really terrible thing that you can take from a sporting event, if it is properly framed. However, being critical of creative projects is a much trickier proposition and I don’t always have something terrible to say about them. I understand that people often put their hearts and souls into the creative pursuits and therefore try to find the good in them. Usually I can stretch to find a bad, but “The Ugly” is usually just me explaining myself or making an awkward joke.

Worst. Critic. Ever.

Maybe I will try a little harder to find things that I don’t like for these reviews. Maybe I will better research a product before posting a review of it. After all, Googling “Ixalan spoilers” isn’t exactly the epitome of responsible journalism. Maybe I will tweak the format to more appropriately match my overall optimistic and sunny demeanor. After all, it is based on a 50 year old movie and probably not speaking to the demographic that we should be courting.

The Verdict

Pirates and dinosaurs were enough to get me interested in Magic again. I can’t speak personally on the overall quality of the set, but having watched a few Twitch streams recently, I do think that the Standard meta is healthy and that Wizards has recovered nicely from the stale experience that the overpowered Tarkir block brought. It’s a bit bad for my budget that I’m into Magic again, but not nearly as bad as comic books were. Overall, I’m excited about the game again and that’s a positive.

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