Tag Archives: Sealed

Proof of Evolution

(Editor’s Note: Poke A Man? Poke E Mons? I don’t understand any of these names.)

We are scheduled to get back on…well, schedule…with our podcasting this week with a new episode about Pokemon Sun and Moon and a look at the latest (as far as we knew at the time since I’ve recently learned that they are releasing Sun and Moon cards) card set, Evolutions. I already did an article a couple of weeks ago on my experience in Sun and Moon tutorial. However, I have to update that article because I hadn’t even made it through the whole tutorial as of the writing and I have made it considerably farther into the game. Look for that update in a couple of days. This article will focus on our recent adventures in the card game.

One of my favorite formats in Magic has become limited, as evidenced by my drafts with Chris. I am less fond of sealed than I am of draft, but sealed seemed like a better format to play with the boys as they have a little bit of experience from doing a Magic prerelease with me. There were some issues with the plan. First, how to compensate for the fact that Pokemon packs contain less cards than Magic packs. That one was easily remedied by mathing the situation. 6*15 = 10 * x.

I wasn’t told that there was going to be a quiz today!

(Spoiler Alert: x = 9. Give yourself a gold star if you got it right.)

That brings us to the second potential dilemma. We needed 36 packs, which is a whole booster box. Okay, no problem, I buy booster boxes of Magic all the time. Hop onto Amazon, eBay, where ever you can get the best price for a box, and get that box. Wait, what’s this? Pokemon boxes run about 110 dollars. That’s odd for two reasons. One, that’s about 20 to 30 dollars more than I’ve ever had to pay for a booster box of Magic. Two, and I already mentioned this, Pokemon booster packs come with only 10 cards as opposed to 15 (well, sometimes 14 because of lands in packs), so that makes them more expensive on two levels.

I hemmed and hawed and went back and forth. I will pick one up because it will be fun and maybe it will get the boys interested in their Pokemon and Yu Gi Oh cards again. No, that’s too expensive and we already have so many cards. Maybe it will get me interested in Magic again. The return on investment is nowhere near what a Magic box potentially offers. The boys are only young once, we haven’t had nearly enough time to game together, and it’s only money. Okay, fine, you win.

I don’t care. Even as a “good dad” who makes ample time for his kids, I can’t escape the feels from this song.

I ordered the box and it sat in storage for a month or so until we were able and willing to go through with the “event”. Since Christine has little use for our silly games, we chose a night when she was out. Or, maybe she locked herself into her room to watch Grey’s Anatomy or some other such nonsense. Whatever her excuse, we also had to work around the fact that when you have 3 children, often you have varied interests and each night of the week becomes a battle to get everywhere that they need to be on time and in a proper mood to conduct themselves.

We finally won that battle one night a couple of weeks ago. I pulled out the box, we distributed the packs, and opened them. The first thing I noticed, and this was a huge positive for me, was that the cards mostly were the original Pokemon. More than that, they were the original art. I said to Chris that it was almost like opening an original art Ancestral Recall. Almost, but not quite. Let’s not get carried away. It was cool seeing all of the old cards and the original art and it took me back to when I first introduced Liam to the game, but we were only opening Charmanders and Squirtles, after all.

What have you got against Charmander? Huh, buddy? I bet you wouldn’t say that about me if I was a Charizard or a Charmeleon, would you? You just wait. You will get yours.

After opening the packs and admiring the cards that we all opened, we got to building our decks. Before I talk about that process, though, let me speak a little bit more about the minor treasures that we pulled from the box. Remember when I was a bit surprised that Pokemon cards were more expensive by the box on two levels? Well, one of my theories was that it might be that the game was more popular at the international level (especially in Japan where Nintendo and Pokemon are very popular) that maybe there might be some return on investment into the box through resale of singles. While we got some good cards and some interesting cards, none of them approached the level of the cards that I’ve been able to resell out of Magic packs.

Mind you, I’m not complaining. I didn’t buy the box for that reason. I bought it strictly to play Pokemon cards with my kids. Still, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a tiny bit disappointed. Okay, with that out of the way, let’s get into some of the specifics. Aiden, Liam, and I all have some experience with sealed Magic. I’ve done two prereleases, one with them, and many, many other rounds on xMage and a few on MTGO. Quinn, of course, hasn’t done any partly because he’s only 5. Still, he is remarkably good at building decks for Pokemon, so he more than held his own.

Having done some research on the topic before diving right in, I expected it to be more difficult to find a strategy for my deck. Pokemon has 9 (? Okay, I didn’t do a ton of research) types while Magic only has 5 colors. So, I thought that the cards would be more spread out and it would be harder to build a 2 type deck (similar to the 2 color deck that is most common in a Magic limited setting. In fact, it was a bit harder to fill out the deck because of there being less of each type of Pokemon. However, Pokemon has more colorless trainer cards that made it a little easier to get a good amount of cards in the deck. It made the overall power of the deck lower, but that can be fixed with time and more experience.

Ultimately I got a Charmander and Charizard, so I started with fire type. I also got a Squirtle and Bulbasaur, so I complemented fire with water. It’s not a strategy that I usually play when I play Pokemon and it showed. I lost 2-1 to Aiden and then got destroyed 2-0 by Liam in the second round. Our impromptu tournament ultimately fell apart because Quinn lost in the first round and then threw a bit of a 5 year old temper tantrum about it. We almost talked him into playing again, but he refused. So, Liam and Aiden should technically play in the finals to see who is the Lucas-Mullen Pokemon Evolutions tournament champion.

The grand prize is neither a trophy nor a cash prize. We just play for the love of the game. (Actually, we just don’t have money for such luxuries.)

Overall, the experience was a good one. Even though I lost fairly convincingly, I can’t wait to try it again with Pokemon Sun and Moon, which I noticed has released over at Wal*Mart. So, I just have to order a box, figure out a time that will work with every schedule, and try again. I also did a little bit of research to put together a Pokemon cube that will allow us to practice more with the sealed format. We will have plenty of Pokemon fun to keep us busy over the next few months.

Making Friends

(Editor’s Note: Two straight articles about Origins sealed, new deck ideas, plus a possible new play group. Not bad for a set that neither one of us really likes all that much. The MtG universe is indeed a strange one.)

Neither Chris nor I are remotely sociable creatures. We’re both content with a small circle of friends, so two Mondays ago was a bit uncomfortable for the both of us. We both expressed our discomfort in the days and hours leading up to the get together, discussed a plan B just in case the other guys were douche bags, and marveled at the complex where the host lived. Perhaps an explanation is in order.

We both agreed that if you are going to play cards by yourself, this is probably the way to go.
We both agreed that if you are going to play cards by yourself, this is probably the way to go.

Chris and I have both written about our recent waning interest in the game. We have branched out into other tabletop games and I have discussed liquidating my collection. Chris went one step further and listed his cards on craigslist. He found someone local to buy the cards. They texted back and forth a few times about possible games. Initially, I worried about expanding the group for obvious reasons. When nothing materialized, I relaxed that things would just blow over.

There was a distinct possibility that we'd end up across the table from this guy.
There was a distinct possibility that we’d end up across the table from this guy.

Then, Chris texted me asking if I wanted to play some Magic the following Monday. The guy had a box of Origins and wanted to do a sealed Swiss tournament. As I do, I replied, “Yes” and then went back to worrying about meeting new people. Thankfully, we took a day trip to Cape Cod, so I was able to keep busy and forget about it over the weekend. Monday, as it tends to do every week or so, came and I started to hope that things might come through. If not, I frantically tried to come up with any excuse to get out. This impulse fought against not wanting to leave Chris hanging. Ultimately, loyalty won and we found ourselves driving to a super secret gated community in the middle of nowhere. I joked that if I heard banjos, I was out of there. I suppose that I could have made the Jim Jones/David Koresh (are those really the most recent suicide cult references? Wow) joke, too, but those are more difficult to pull off tactfully.

Much funnier than suicide cults. I'm a bad person.
Much funnier than suicide cults. I’m a bad person.

We sat for a while at a house across the street and joked some more about hidden snipers and cannibalism until the guy pulled up in his Nissan Z something or another. A quick anecdote about the car. This passenger apparently asked if it was some kind of sports car or something. we all got a considerable chuckle out of the poor kid’s ignorance and humiliation. Ah, male bonding, you never change.

Nissan something or another. I know next to nothing about cars.
Nissan something or another. I know next to nothing about cars.

Chris and I played a few games against our host while the other two guys played some Tiny Leaders until the other two showed up for the sealed tournament. At first it appeared that our worst fears might be realized because the guy played mostly infinite combo decks built with some of the best cards in Magic history against our cards we own decks, but things eventually settled down. We both dropped not so subtle hints as he stormed out on me turn 2 that we weren’t exactly having fun. I have no problem with those decks in a competitive setting, but casual? Please, keep it in your pants.

His deck revolved around this. I could have removed it, but didn't. He proceeded to storm out. I watched the other two guys play their game while he metaphorically rubbed one out.
His deck revolved around this. I could have removed it, but didn’t. He proceeded to storm out. I watched the other two guys play their game while he metaphorically rubbed one out.

We eventually got our six, worked out the details of payment, grabbed our packs, and went to deck building. I didn’t get much of note, but I opened a Nalaar parents card and Thopter Spy Network that pushed me in that direction when building my deck. We paired off. I went 1-2, dropping two games after winning the first. All three games were competitive, so I am definitely getting better at judging sealed pools and playing the game. I misplayed once or twice, so that’s still something that needs to be fixed because I’m tired of scrubbing out of these events.

My deck. In keeping with my Johnny nature, I might have tried to do too much.

Overall, though, the positives of the evening outweighed the negatives and I’m glad that we went. I got to play against live competition and didn’t get completely blown out. Chris brought a really cool Naya deck that I had a blast playing. Chris and I actually started to talk about Magic again. We even workshopped the Naya deck during the games and on the ride back to his apartment. I learned about Pucatrade and might make an account. I’m absolutely open to making this a regular thing. Maybe not every month, but every other month would be cool.

The experience has made me less apprehensive about going to one of the local FNM draft events. I should be able to put up a respectable showing and might even meet one or two cool people there. Either way, it got me back into paper Magic. The computer versions are fun, but no substitute for playing across from another person. For all of those reason, I’m grateful for the opportunity and look forward to the next time.

Quick Hit (MtG: Origins)

(Editor’s Note: We promised two new articles and Episode 7 of the podcast a week or so ago. This article was supposed to be 2 out of 3 ain’t bad, but it never happened. If that didn’t implant an earworm firmly into that part of your brain, enjoy the following video.)

I finally broke down and joined a an Origins simulated sealed pool. I know, I know. I have said a few times (once on the upcoming podcast) that I’m just not that into the set. However, unable to afford the prerelease events this weekend because I didn’t get paid until the week after, and having scrubbed out of my last two three Cube events, I decided to give Origins a try. Maybe I’ve misjudged it and it really can be fun. My first impression is an emphatic repeat of my initial thoughts through spoiler season.

Grumpy cat always knows exactly how you feel.

This is not bitterness. If I’m writing an article about how the new Holiday cube is not as good as last year’s–and I could–you would have a case. I’ve had an insanely bad experience with the 2015 cube events. Not with the Origins sealed. I won my first match in pretty convincing fashion and had to drop from the rest of the event to bring the boys for lunch. It’s not sour grapes. I simply did not have that much fun.

Nevertheless, I am a professional (not a journalist, but still), so I will give my thoughts on the set. Remember that this is only after one sealed match, so have that grain of salt at the ready. I may put together some standard decks and join a few drafts to see if they offer a more fun experience. Hell, at the least, it will be a way to cheat two more articles.

Now, finally, for my thoughts:

  • They are selling the core set as mono. I don’t have a problem with that. They seem to oscillate between mono and multicolored. However, I had to build my deck with three colors to get enough playable cards. Look, I understand that you won’t usually get a sealed pool that allows for a mono deck. Ideally, you want to stick to 2 colors since mana and mana fixing (especially in a mono set) can be tough to accomplish with more colors. The lack of playables was a bit of a turn off. Maybe it was just a weak pool. No matter what they say, it is a core set after all and the power level of core sets is usually lower.
I mean, who's not excited for this reprint, amirite?
I mean, who’s not excited for this reprint, amirite?
  • Elves are going to be a thing in standard. I’m not sure how much or what kind of thing, but they are definitely pushing elves in this set. I only had a limited amount of the little tree huggers, but the synergy was amazing. Building a deck to exploit that specifically will be easy. If it will be good remains to be seen.
They make damn good cookies, too.
They make damn good cookies, too.
  • White aura enchantments are very strong. I know that auras are a part of white’s repertoire, but there are some really good ones in this set. Along with elves, I thought that white weenies could make a come back. The auras don’t necessarily that confirm that. They do give me some ideas for a deck or two.
I might even get to play this guy in a deck.
I might even get to play this guy in a deck.
  • Nissa’s Revelation is expensive, but it is a powerful spell. I only got to see and cast it once. When I did, I was able to set up my deck and hand to close out the game very quickly. With mana ramp and fixing, the card can absolutely affect games in a big way.
  • I never thought much of renown, but it is a cool mechanic. +1/+1 counters are always fun. I didn’t like the condition of having to damage the opponent. Honestly, I never had any problems satisfying the condition and getting the counter.
Granted, this card helped quite a bit in pushing through damage.
Granted, this card helped quite a bit in pushing through damage.
  • I hoped that the focus on mono might break some of the Abzan this and Sultai that decks, but they’re still around for the foreseeable future. I wend Abzan colors for playables and the deck was stronger than it probably should have been.
This guy was there in spirit.
This guy was there in spirit.

Well, I suppose that the experience wasn’t all bad. As I’ve said, I’m not a huge fan of sealed. Maybe that’s why I didn’t have fun. That, along with my unfavorable initial impressions of the set, wasn’t exactly a great start.

I did a draft while writing this. That went much worse than the sealed. The deck was blue/red and heavy on counterspells and removal as blue/red should. Even so, I can’t yet judge the format as a draft format. I got mana screwed in the first game and misplayed the second game horribly.

PS – I got blown out by WG renown, so that strengthens my earlier argument. I will draft more and probably write that article in a couple of weeks. Chris and I recently did a live sealed and that article is coming later this week. I’ve got some standard ideas. If I get a chance to test them, I will write about that next week. There may be hope for this set after all.