Tag Archives: Magic the Gathering Arena

2023 Mobile Game of the Year Contenders

Introduction

I searched earlier in the week back to last year to see if I wrote preview articles for the new year. I did, but I wrote them in January as part of “New Year, New Games”. Next year, our 10th, the theme is “New Decade, New Games”, so I the previews come then. Therefore, I needed a Wednesday article for my look back series. Enter 2023 Mobile Game of the Year Contenders.

This article almost makes us look official like. While merely a web page run essentially by two guys as a hobby, I like to dip my toe into the professional writing scene every now and then. So, while I already picked the mobile game of the year for this year, I can pretend for the sake of this article.

Candy Crush/Soda Saga

I played these games regularly several years ago. I worked ridiculous hours and spent what down time I had with the games on my phone. For whatever reason, even though I enjoy Magic the Gathering and Marvel more, I played these match 3 games and spent more money that I’m comfortable admitting on boosters and extended levels.

More recently, I picked both games up again. I spend less time with some of the other games that I like. Plus, I can’t find a new time sink that satisfies me the same as these games. So, I’m back to logging in on a daily basis to try to finish the next level. Once in a while, I get inspired to keep playing for a streak or other bonus.

Hearthstone

Likewise, I spent a good amount of time on this game at the beginning of the year. Mostly, I played Battlegrounds, but I always tried to finish quests in the main mode, too, in order to advance on the rewards track. Over the last few months, as I mentioned, I spent less time playing. I finished the Battlegrounds rewards track pretty early this time and they only recently released a new one. So, I might find some recency bias and choose Hearthstone as my game of the year. Hey, there’s precedent. I picked Marvel SNAP last year in spite of only having played it for a couple of months.

Magic the Gathering Arena

In spite of my recent decrease in play time, I still play MTGA as often as ever. I found a new joy with the game through my play group with Chris and Jason, so I use the game as a way to keep my brain and plays fresh during the in between times. They also offer cool midweek Magic events to get packs and other cosmetics. This week they introduce the new “Vintage” format for the game, Timeless. I tried to make a deck but didn’t have all of the cards or wild cards. So, I just submitted my elf tribal deck.

Marvel SNAP

As mentioned, Marvel SNAP won game of the year last year in spite of the fact that it took me several months to play the game. I probably played it more this year than many other games. My play time might not be as great as MTGA or Hearthstone, but that’s only because games only take 3-5 minutes tops to finish. Though, I recently discovered Conquest mode and I’m trying to get the Hellfire Gala Thor variant from that.

The Verdict

You get the true verdict for the 2023 Mobile Game of the Year Contenders on Friday. We here at 2 Generations Gaming already know the results. But, unlike much of what we do here, we promise no spoilers for this one. Come back Friday to find out.

Mobile Gaming is a Gift 2023

Introduction

Last year, I finally came through on an idea I had at least 5 years ago. I decided to come up with a theme for each month and focus the page on that theme. The first one I implemented was for October (the very first theme I came up with) and then I moved on to December. What better theme than gifts? And, so, welcome to the first article of the second installment, Mobile Gaming is a Gift 2023.

I use this as a way to look back on the year that was and all the mobile games I played. Also, I just got the idea to look at my “look ahead” article from earlier in the year. Provide an update on all the games I played and (more likely looking at the list) that I completely forgot.

So, About That List?

Of these three games, the only one I played was Mighty Doom. It was fun for about 10 minutes and then I quickly grew bored. Looking at the reviews of the other two, I won’t be trying MK: Onslaught any time soon. Sounds like a money sink with a decent story. I can watch that on YouTube. Dark Alliance sounds fun, but it’s 10 bucks, so we’ll see if I end up downloading that. Cheaper than the Steam version, though.

The Warhammer game looks like vaporware after a quick search. Apparently, the GTA series got incorporated into Netflix somehow because that’s the only story that I can find right now. Reviews of Ever Crisis describe it as an annoying grind fest with little pay off. So, one for six and I’m not even going to go into the cluster that the Warcraft Rumble game looks like.

Any New Games, Then?

Well, in addition to Marvel SNAP, Hearthstone (with less frequency than before), and Magic the Gathering: Arena, I also played Candy Crush and Candy Crush Soda Saga on a daily basis. Magic the Gathering Puzzle Quest is a daily login just for the freebie, as I theorized. I played a few times to finish quests, but not enough to consider it a regular. Even though the other Warhammer game looks imaginary or perpetually in the developing stage, I played Tacticus, a Warhammer 40k game. While repetitive, I still have fun playing it.

Additionally, sparked by conversation with colleagues, I downloaded the NYT word puzzle app again. I loved doing the small crosswords and got my Wordle streak to 75 before losing it. Good news! I’m almost to 20 again. They also have a game called Connections or something that took me a few tries to figure out. The last is Spelling Bee. Well, all of this nerdy fun led me to download Wordscapes.

It’s, uh, not great. I played for a few days, maybe a week. I paid to get rid of the ads because they annoyed the shit out of me. Then, today, I just stopped playing and uninstalled. It’s just too easy and there’s not enough variety in the levels to make it interesting. I thought it was cool to see what words used the same letters but just rearranged. Other than that, the game just became a time waster.

The Verdict

While the claim that mobile gaming is a gift 2023 isn’t completely false, it does feel empty after sitting down and reflecting back. Really, the only two games that brought me any joy were Magic the Gathering Arena and Marvel SNAP. Oh, I also dug out my tablet and played some Teamfight Tactics a few times. I don’t like it on the phone, but it plays nicely on the tablet. So, overall, not a total loss. But, definitely not the golden age of mobile gaming right now.

How to Stink at Alchemy Without Really Trying

Introduction

Magic the Gathering Arena just released a new format called Alchemy. As usual, the community greeted this change with grace and dignity. They discussed the pros and the cons intelligently and respected each other and WotC and Hasbro. Just kidding, of course. As I wrote in response to a Facebook post, “Magic the Gathering players are becoming more and more like the old man that yells at clouds” in their interactions.

And, yes, you damn kids better stay off my lawn!

Eventually, I found some comments that restored my faith slightly in the player base. Apparently, even though Alchemy is supposed to be a new digital only format that exists in tandem with Standard, some of the changes have also affected Historic. If intended, which some rudimentary searching just confirmed, this seems like a short sighted solution to a problem that doesn’t even exist.

Alchemy: Do We Really Need Another Format?

In spite of all that, I signed up for the free event introducing the format. With little reason, I started to take notes of my games. Perhaps I knew I would be inspired to write on this page. I wanted to have receipts for when people call me out when I say that I feel persecuted by the game of Magic the Gathering. Now, bear in mind that this is just unfounded paranoia. The only one who will read this any time soon is Chris and he, too, often feels like the game punishes him for the transgression of simply wanting to have fun.

Granted, both Chris and I will occasionally fall into the role of fun police against one another, but those times are few and far between.

As I often do, I searched for some decks. On my Smurf account, I played one of the premade decks. For the actual account, I wanted to try an actual deck. I picked Gruul ramp because who doesn’t like mana and unbridled aggression? Well, after actually playing the deck and the event, I can tell you someone who has two thumbs and doesn’t. This guy.

Click for a larger picture of the deck. You know what? Trust me. Don’t. Play werewolves instead.

Saturday: My Introduction to Alchemy

Let’s forget for a minute that I just had to do a find and replace because I called the format Artisan for the first four paragraphs of this article. So, I suppose that answers the question about needing a new format. Kudos to WotC for trying new things to stay relevant and distinguish MTGA from the paper game. Honestly, that’s probably one of the things that’s kept Hearthstone afloat for so long. Bored of the main game? Play some Battlegrounds. Bored of that? Here’s Mercenaries? Don’t want to play Mercenaries? Well, there’s always Arena, Duels, and Tavern Brawl.

The difference there is that all of those modes are completely different from one another. Alchemy simply offers Magic the Gathering with a different card pool. I’d rather they put their resources into coming up with fun events instead of designing cards for a format that will most likely be dead in less than a month. And, no, it’s not just because I got beaten like a drum as you will see in my synopsis. Oh well, it’s not like I invested anything in the cards that will get converted into wild cards when the format dies.

For whatever reason, I kept a log of my last few games from Saturday. I guess I thought I might actually update this page. Certainly, I never anticipated doing so before writing the log. I will spare you the many curse words and much of the self pity and just give the run down. Out of 7 games, 1 went first once and my opponent 6. The chances of that happening are 5 percent. In keeping with that motif, I called my opponent’s removal in hand 3 times the first game, drew 2 lands in my opening hand in two out of the four games, and accidentally took a mulligan in one of them due to excessive salt.

Sunday: 30 Games to Finish Out the Event?

I saved two wins for Sunday because I finished my weekly 15 win quest with the first 3 wins from the event. I anticipated things going as poorly as Saturday when the first two games ended after two targeted removal on my Scute Swarm and then the second game lagged to a draw. After that, my luck changed and I ran over an opponent with Scute Swarm and then absolutely destroyed a red/white deck before finishing out a quest with a BW deck and another win. Satisfied with the results, I quit for the day.

Noob’s Impression of Alchemy

I made no secret that I don’t understand the need nor the purpose of Alchemy. After playing the format, that remains true. I’m glad to have gotten 2000 experience and cards that will give me wild cards when they kill the format in a couple of months. Otherwise, I will stick to my new found love of Commander. Yes, I finally have decks. Come back Thursday for that article.

Cards I Love: Forgotten Realms Miscellany

Introduction

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!

Rest In Peace – 2 Guys Gaming (2014-2021)?

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.

Cards I Love: Forgotten Realms Gruul Edition

Introduction

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.

Unless we’re doing sealed. Then, I always go 5-color good stuff. Picture courtesy of TCG Player.

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.

Cards I Love: Forgotten Realms Esper Edition

Introduction

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.

No shortage of wanna be Spikes out there.

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!

Strixhaven Gruul: Cards I Love

Introduction

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.

It’s so cute!

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!

Strixhaven Esper: Cards I Love

Intrroduction

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 Verdict

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!

Cards I love: Kaldheim Gruul Edition

Introduction

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.

No. I feel weird calling it “Christmas edition” two months later.

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.

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?