I’ve been playing a ton of Warmachine lately, but its not all I’ve been doing. Its been too hard to keep up with all my hobbies, but I still get in what I can, when I can. I’ve left a bunch of quick events unwritten, and I’d figure I’d try to put them in quick, Wednesday, digest I’m going to call Bitesize Nerd. I’m going to try to keep them under 500 words, just for brevitys sake and for my sanity. I am having trouble finding the time talking about everything I want to as it is – the last thing I need is to spend another few hours a week trying to write more long articles.

So, First off! Conspiracy!

The summer set of magic is generally one that is lighthearted and fun, something that is not tournament legal yet still has an impact on the players through reprints or some other expansion of the non-standard game. They do a similar thing in the fall, and I’ve really enjoyed them, in theory. A few weeks ago I was able to experience this event as I think it was always intended to be.

Last years Modern Masters showed that people love to draft one off and strange sets designed exactly for that purpose. This year, Conspiracy turned that concept on its head, bringing a set that messed with the drafting mechanic itself. My brother bought a box and quickly drafted it, but then he started constructing a cube out of the drafted box. A cube is a self made set of cards that is meant to be quickly drafted and played, and maintained by its owner. Cubes started out as a way to get the most powerful, absurd combos and cards into play that normally would not see play in a draft, and has blossomed and exploded since then.

The Conspiracube had input from friends, and we all kind of built the card list together. Its a non-standard cube in that it is not singleton, with only one of each card, but is a standard booster style draft with commons, uncommons and rares. When we finally sat down to draft, we had what we thought would be a pretty awesome set, and we weren’t to far off.

The first draft I ended up going with a Red – Blue burn/tempo deck that just wasn’t able to get off. All I needed was 5 mana, and I’d be able to drop a 6/6 Lurking Automaton, backed up by Secret Summoning. Alas, my deck only provided me 4 mana, and I was unable to contest with a pile of Ally tokens and my brothers giant wall of cards.

The second time, I was able to draft a pretty solid blue – something deck, but the other color never got on a roll. I ended up dropping 4  Marchesa’s Emissary on the board with three Muzzio’s Preparations, but was unable to get past that state and one of the guys came over to top to end me, first out of the game!

Whats really cool about Conspiracy, especially in cube, is that unlike normal drafts, it works extremely well when playing with just about any number of players. They mentioned in one of their articles that it works best with 4-5 players per game, which means that a drafting group of 3,4,5,6 and 8 all work extremely well. 7 is strange, but that’s OK – don’t have 6 other friends.

After the first test run of the draft, there was a ton of conversation and dissection of the cube into what was good, bad and terrible. I’;m really excited to play again with the new version we’ve all thrown in to create, and its likely to end up one of the most fun games, let alone cubes I ever play, and man has it got me excited to build my own Ravnica Cube.

Follow me on Twitter, @seethingginger, for even more nerdings and happening!

Bonus MTG Announcement post!

On Saturday, Wizards top Nerd Mark Rosewater (@maro254) unveiled the barest of information about the fall set for MTG and the block that will follow – Likely Warlords of Tarkir and Dragons of Tarkir. Unlike RTR (Large set, Large set, Small Set) or the Current Theros Block (Large, Small, Small), it will repeat the Innistrad block set mode (Large, Small, Large). In Innistrad this meant that drafting was shaken up when the third set drops, and I think that could be very exciting.

Khans of Tarkir is an all new setting based on the homeworld of Sarkhan Vol, one of the Planeswalkers from the Shards of Alara Block. Though nothing specific was spoiled,  though this pretty badass art by Jason Chan is the cover for all of the adverts as of right now.

Khans Poster

We do know, from the background of Sarkhan, that all the dragons are dead on this plane and were hunted to extinction. Its why Sarkhan has a love for dragons and worships them as semi-gods (from what I’ve managed to glean of his character), leading to all the dragon based abilities on his cards.

Its name gives the set an automatic Arabian/Mongol flavor and I think that’s really, really cool. There have been many original worlds that Wizards and MTG have conceptualized, but I’ve always enjoyed ones that tap into history and myth.  Arabian Knights, Legends, Theros, and even Innistrad, even though I am not a horror fan, had some really great homages to history and literature that made me smile. Khans has, potentially, a vast and untapped tapestry of lore and flavor. I don’t know where they are going, personally, but Mark mentioned in the video interview that they are bringing back something that the fans have been clamoring for, and also that they are doing something never done before that the fans have been clamoring for. 

I’ve been sifting through the rumors, but I can’t really make heads or tails of what mechanics or even broader genre of MTG function this could be: I’m not as in touch with this as I am many other nerd aspects of life, and I apologize. However, the popular Fetchland reprint is getting the most buzz, being something that bars the way into the newly-pushed Modern format. Enemy Color “wedges,” like the Shards world,  is also getting a lot of hype, and I can’t blame them. Just look at the colors of the art above, does that not evoke a Black-Red-White Wedge? Each banner going down the side is all three colors.

Then, We would have:




Thinking about it, all of them seem pretty cool to me, with Red-Blue-White being the strangest combination I’d like to see in play. Each of these would also give me some very cool Generals to play around in with EDH, and I am excited I could get a really fantastic general for my Stax deck.

Looks like I’m hooked for another go round of drafting!

 

Back, in the dark ages of the past (last year), when I was allowed to have as much free time as I desired, because I didn’t have a child, I drafted for a whole block. Return to Ravnica black was a blast, and I enjoyed learning how to draft, especially because I did it pretty much on my own. I picked up a few drafts during the summer, beat some face with Slivers, and then stopped. I loved the coming set, as Greek Mythology is an awesome concept to base a M:TG set on, but there was no way I was getting time out with a newborn.

Now, 7 months later, I was able to get out and draft again. Two entire sets have passed without me drafting a single pack. I’ve heard from some placed that Full Block drafting is the way to go because its the full concept in card, and it gives me hope that that is where I’ll be starting in again.

The draft was small, with 12 people signing up, in 6 man pods. I’d drafted with three of the others before, including a good friend of mine, but the other two were strangers. I had read a little bit about the sets, what they did, and has a pretty solid basis for drafting from last year.

It helped, but not to much.

I grabbed one of the better uncommons, Hour of Need, which put me solidly in blue. The next card was one I hadn’t seen before: Fleetfeather Cockatrice. Passed from my friend in the third pick was the Green/Blue God, Kruphix. Normally, I wouldn’t dedicate myself to a color this early, but with no experience with the set, I had to use something as a guide, or I would just subject myself to to analysis the whole time. none of that! I dove completely into Blue and Green, grabbing what I thought would be the best in each pack for those colors and ignoring the rest. I made a vital mistake, though, by picking to many high cost creatures. Theros had originally been dubbed as a slow grinding format, so I figured I’d err on the top end. bad news for me.

Horizon Scholar

One of those big top ends…

The first round, though, gave me a pile of (unfounded) confidence. I dropped a big giant bastard in Sealock Monster the first game on turn 4, and proceeded to run through him. Second game I repeated with a Sealock monster, but a bit later. I did, however, give it flying. Turns out, a giant flying Kraken is no joke!

The second round, we will say, was a bit rougher. He’d been in one of my last draft pods I’d played before my daughter, when I’d surprised the hell out of him on turn 8 with 24 points of unblocked damage, and he was a pleasant fellow. This time, I was on the receiving end of a withering onslaught of dangerous white heroic cards. It was simply brutal. I managed to stabilize, but he just kept pounding in and beat me to death. between the second and third game, he remembered who I was.  We reminisced, rekindling our (fake) enmity, and got down to the second game.

Where he proceeded to beat my ass again, with almost the same cards that he’d beat me with the game before. I think, if I get to go and draft again, I am going to try for the W/R heroic. Seems pretty good!

In the third round, I played against my friend. He helped me craft my deck, and new that I was a touch top heavy. I think I took the first game, but it was a fluke. He then proceeded to fly through the air and beat me to death in the next two games with the same card, Stormchaser Chimera. I sadly had not taken one earlier on the thought that it was a Spellheart Chimera. Turns out, one is vastly better than the other.

Realistically, my deck just couldn’t cut it. I wasn’t going to be able to get enough cards onto the board quick enough to make a difference to anyone who’d drafted a decent deck. But it was a load of fun, and I ended up with a few cards I can play in EDH when I get to it again. All in all, it really got me wanting to play MTG again, which is bad. Because I have a ton of Warmachine yet to play, just got my bane riders together, and Lock and Load is right around the corner! I have so many new lists to try and combos to build. As my friend said last night: I like to use my brain to solve puzzles. M:TG and Warmachine are some really fun, similar puzzles, and they hit the same buttons. At least in Draft.

Bring on more drafts!

 

The first weekend of February was the pre-release of Born of the Gods. It was the first time with an official Two Headed Giant format for pre-release sealed. My brother and I went into Saturday night hoping to get some good games in. Last time, with the Theros Pre-release, we did pretty well. This time.. We, uh, failed.

So, the change in the format allows for two 6 pack pre-release boxes between the team. 2 Color-skewed packs, 4 Born of the Gods Packs, and 6 Theros Packs. Normally you’d only get 8 packs to build your deck with, and my brother and I thought that these packs would help smooth the process out. Sadly, this was not the case. Instead of helping it created a ton of tension – Every color and every combination was solid.

We took green and black: Both colors had almost thoroughly solid rares. Black removal and green ramp were going to be where it was at.  We had a solid pull, however: Gift of Immortality, Fated Retribution, Purphoros, Hammer of Purphoros, Spear of Heliod, Mogis, Karametra, Nessian Wilds Ravager (Promo) , Flame Wreathed Phoenix, Eater of Hope (Promo), Curse of Swine, Heroes Downfall, Archetype of Imagination: one more,  but I don’t remember it having a great impact on what happened.

Unfortunately, with all the colors being so filled out with the 12 packs, we had a hard time cutting any. I built a black/red fast deck, and my brother built a green/white/blue heroic deck. we had to cut a ton of really good cards, and I think it hurt us a lot that we didn’t drop one color, probably blue. We argued a bit about the cards we wanted in each deck. With each color so rich there was always going to be something good left out. It was really much harder to make a 12 pack deck than it was an 8 pack. Next time, we cut a color early.

our first set, against our friend Dan and his buddy from CA,  ended out pretty poorly because I couldn’t get a second swamp on board. with three sips of hemlock rotting in my hand because I had only the one black source, the new Hero of Leina Tower dropped on turn 2 got real big, real fast, and we had no hope of stopping it. The ordeals and Aura’s targeting it made it really bad. We had a chance here and there, if I’d have been able to either asphyxiate it or Sip of Hemlock it, but we just couldn’t get it in.

Next, we got the bye, which is sad. You come to places like this to get some games and and hang out. My brother and I got to play each other, though, and hang out, which was awesome. However, with the decks built as they are, mine just out-removaled his, and I won most of the matches we played: But he wasn’t built to actually take any decks on alone, so it made sense. I just happened to have the removal deck.

The last set we played was against our friends John and  Ben. Turns out, that not having two mountains is just as bad as not having two swamps. Ben ended up playing Mogis, and we just couldn’t keep up between the 4 damage a turn or sacrificing creatures to appease the god of Slaughter.

We didn’t win a single game, and that was really alright, because I got to hang out with my brother and a few friends, and I did make out with some seriously good Pulls: Mine were Hammer, Mogis, Karametra, Heroes Downfall, Gift of Immortality, and Fated Retribution. I should be able to either put them into commander decks, or trade them off for good stuff, and honestly,  I look forward to starting to draft again in March. 

Until then!

The Theros prerelease was this weekend, and I had a blast!

I really enjoy the sealed events of prerelease days. The sealed environment gives you access to all the flavor and mechanics of the new set, without having to commit a ton of memory for drafting or standard. Allowing you, in a casual atmosphere, to build a deck that is generally pretty good and can stand on its own with a little good play. It also gives you the thrill of opening a pile of packs and hoping for good stuff. Which I never got.

Ah well! It was still a fun time. I ended up at the local store right about 11:00 for the midnight event, and hung outside with some of the standard crowd before heading in to get going. I met my brother and a pair of friends there, and it was setting out to be good times. I signed up for the blue set, as it seemed the strongest, according to that one article I was able to read before heading out. It seemed pretty reasonable. A fatty 6/6 with a trigger to get it to 10/10 and tap down four creatures looks pretty good. The review also pointed out that blue had a stable of good cards, including uncharacteristic fattys in Shipbreaker Kraken, Bethnic Giant, and Precient Chimera. Appearances can be deceiving, but I was not deceived. Blue crushed the game out for me in the first round, dropped the second to a mirror after changing pair colors, and then picked up again on the final. I started out with a U/R deck in the first go, having Rage of Porphoros, Magma Jet, and Lightning strike, but a few anemic bodies and a couple larger ones, with blue rounding out in the fatty and flying department. My friends convinced me to run the green, but its against my nature, I wasn’t able to cast the spells I wanted, and waiting around for my giant green creatures did me in in the second round.

Speaking of the second round. My opponent was fantastic with his B/U deck. Flyers and removal, with 3 Pharika’s Cure, 2 Lash the whip, and a pile of Stymied Hopes and Dissolves. The Nessian Lion took one game over for me, paired with a Feral Invocation and monstrous to make him 6/6 hexproof and indestructible. I out raced the unblocked Prognostic Sphinx to just edge him out in the second. The third was less entertaining, as he dropped the Sphinx again and took me to town without so much as a whimper.

The Kraken was exactly as advertised, and every time I resolved him on the field, I ended up taking the game. He’s a bad ass in limited, and I expect to get beat by him every draft.

The best part of the prerelease weekend, though, was the Two Headed Giant that my brother and I entered as The Brothers Grim. We went in thinking to get some heroic work done, and appropriately chose green and white: the colors with the most heroic. We opened almost no heroic creatures, and even less triggers though. Instead we went with a, to me, clever strategy. He took all the ramp and fatties in a big, stompy, rampy, W/G deck. Two Anthousa, Vulpine Goliath, Arbor Colossus, Ashen Rider, the works. I took all of the removal, and a ton of B/R weenies. I was just there to clog the field, chump block, and clear the path. We took two of three, again, and ended with a positive record, which was good enough for us. The first game was the one we dropped. It took us long enough to put the decks together that we didn’t have a whole lot of time to shuffle, and with only one game, a lot was hanging on this one opening hand. My brother’s was a little light on mana, but we figured we’d be OK with his pair of rampy creatures. We could have been, as he ended the game with only four on the table, but his three mana producers in the graveyard. The first one we lost to a combat trick, and the others we lost to an ill thought out Anger of the Gods. The next two we took to town against a pair of kids, and a new girl and her boy. But, we emerged victorious, and that’s what counted. We each got a pair of packs, and I got to have a blast with my brother. I look forward to doing the Chosen of the Gods Prerelease in a few months time, and maybe getting a draft or two in in the meantime. Who knows, with a baby on the way!

The Sanctuary faction in Heroes 6 is pretty cool. I will say I was initially all bad mouth on the Sanctuary models, but after using them, I’m really fond of them. Sharks-at-Arms, Naga, Medusa, Water and snow spirits, and Frogmen? The Champion creature, each factions biggest and baddest, is the Kirin, which looks neat, has a huge hit pool, and comes out very fast.

It is much better than Haven, and almost on par with Necropolis in terms of fun factor. The elite naga troopers are pretty terrible which makes me sad though. The big problem is that they are on par with the Haven’s griffon troopers in terms of durability and damage output: which is to say both of them are 0. It is a huge disappointment for both of tthe units, as they are fantastic looking troopers. The upgraded Kenshi/Kensi is a four armed, katana wielding snake man! What is cooler than that? And Haven’s only Non-Humanoid creature is the Griffon, who leaps into the air and diving-assaults people! But both are extremely weak defensively, to the point where core units can break them apart, and their damage output against other elites just isn’t there either. Both have been relegated to the sidelines unless I could stack an enormous amount of them.

Also, My favorite unit, Coral Priestesses, get the hell shelled out of them by the opponent, causing me no end of grief. I only have one or two ranged units, and having one of them burned out by the opponent as fast as possible has been really frustrating.

I’ve made it to map 4, and I’m about to tear Gerharts heart out of his chest, which, for me, is just about as awesome as it gets. I also got to toy around with the Stronghold faction, in the last map, and that got me really pumped to play them.

A Couple Mid-game Observations

Extra Heroes seem redundant unless you need to transport armies. The Enemy armies are just to large for you to be splitting your troops

Chain Lightning seems like a game breaker, but It could just be a factor to try and get the area cleared better and easier.

Water as a spell school is terrible. Air is Amazing.

There are tons of ways to increase your Magic Power stat, but very few to raise you’re Might Power.

There is no good online Resource. Maybe I’ll make one.

Also, on Sunday I traded my perfectly fine, painted bane thralls for unpainted unassembled ones. This’ll be the 3rd time I have done this. I hope this one turns out as successful as the first two.

Last night I got to draft M:14. This was enjoyable because I ended up with slivers, again. This is not uncommon for me, but seems to be hard for others to do.

Its a deck that I really like, and once you see it start to pull together can be really satisfying. Grabbing the Galerider sliver first, and much later a Door of Destines really helped the deck out. And once I started cutting people out, I saw the blur sliver, the Hive Stirrings, and the Sliver Construct all table.
I was confident, but I knew things could get in my way.

Through late first pack and most of pack two, though, I was convinced that I wasn’t going to make it function. I’d started doing blue/green for a minute, and even ended up with a serra angel later on. Now I was probably doing green-white, and the green was astoundingly good coming through. Then the green dropped off, and I was left with some good Red.
I was going Naya no matter what, and it just happened that slivers came around pack 3 and made the deck into what I felt would be decent.

It was something like this:

Creatures:
Galerider Sliver
Striking Sliver
Sentinal Sliver
Manaweft Sliver
Predatory Sliver x2
Blur Sliver
Serra Angle

Spells
Lay of the Land x2
Hive Stirrings x3
Verdant Haven
Hunt the Weak x2
Chandra’s outrage
Lava axe x3

Artifacts
Door of Destinies
Sliver Construct x2

I was all set to play some games! it was going to be nothing but slivers and face-beats!
However, we had a 9 man pod of players, and I end up with a first round bye. I’m not a fan of them, even though they come with a win, and it can be really disappointing to not be able to play.
So, I went got a soda, and came back to play some more.
Round 2 I get paired up against the guy who walked in late, giving me a bye, and making us even numbers.
I give him some crap about it, and we carry on. I take him down with some very aggressive draws 2-0, though his mill deck takes out most of my good stuff fairly quick. At this point, I take in the tournament standings, and there are only 2 people who are undefeated. The protocol in MTG is to draw the last round if no one can catch you. Each player ends up splitting the prizes equally instead of one of the players risking being bumped to 3rd. So, the two of us Draw, and we take 1’st and 2nd.
I’ll just go here and say I got 2nd, because really, I can’t fathom that I would come in first after playing only two games and one match.

it boggles my poor mind. I picked up 7 packs, and I stored them for when Theros comes out, and was glad to do so, as the current set of cards just aren’t my cup of tea.

I don’t know about you, but getting second after all that feels just a little more bad than it should.

-Tio

Galerider sliver from James Zapata @ http://jameszapata.deviantart.com/art

Last night I got to draft M:14. This was enjoyable because I ended up with slivers, again. This is not uncommon for me, but seems to be hard for others to do.

Its a deck that I really like, and once you see it start to pull together can be really satisfying. Grabbing the Galerider sliver first, and much later a Door of Destines really helped the deck out. And once I started cutting people out, I saw the blur sliver, the Hive Stirrings, and the Sliver Construct all table.
I was confident, but I knew things could get in my way.

Through late first pack and most of pack two, though, I was convinced that I wasn’t going to make it function. I’d started doing blue/green for a minute, and even ended up with a serra angel later on. Now I was probably doing green-white, and the green was astoundingly good coming through. Then the green dropped off, and I was left with some good Red.
I was going Naya no matter what, and it just happened that slivers came around pack 3 and made the deck into what I felt would be decent.

It was something like this:

Creatures:
Galerider Sliver
Striking Sliver
Sentinal Sliver
Manaweft Sliver
Predatory Sliver x2
Blur Sliver
Serra Angle

Spells
Lay of the Land x2
Hive Stirrings x3
Verdant Haven
Hunt the Weak x2
Chandra’s outrage
Lava axe x3

Artifacts
Door of Destinies
Sliver Construct x2

I was all set to play some games! it was going to be nothing but slivers and face-beats!
However, we had a 9 man pod of players, and I end up with a first round bye. I’m not a fan of them, even though they come with a win, and it can be really disappointing to not be able to play.
So, I went got a soda, and came back to play some more.
Round 2 I get paired up against the guy who walked in late, giving me a bye, and making us even numbers.
I give him some crap about it, and we carry on. I take him down with some very aggressive draws 2-0, though his mill deck takes out most of my good stuff fairly quick. At this point, I take in the tournament standings, and there are only 2 people who are undefeated. The protocol in MTG is to draw the last round if no one can catch you. Each player ends up splitting the prizes equally instead of one of the players risking being bumped to 3rd. So, the two of us Draw, and we take 1’st and 2nd.
I’ll just go here and say I got 2nd, because really, I can’t fathom that I would come in first after playing only two games and one match.

it boggles my poor mind. I picked up 7 packs, and I stored them for when Theros comes out, and was glad to do so, as the current set of cards just aren’t my cup of tea.

I don’t know about you, but getting second after all that feels just a little more bad than it should.

-Tio

Galerider sliver from James Zapata @ http://jameszapata.deviantart.com/art

Its been a quiet couple days, at least for Nerding.

It took me three more days to beat Haven in Heroes VI. It was a grinding and brutal affair that forced me to restart the map at least three times before I got the hang of it and took the map. It wasn’t easy. There is a group above ground and a group below ground that you have to defeat. Each group had its own way to come at me from angles that I couldn’t stop, and it forced me to make a very difficult decision: sacrifice the upper world. I went underground, and took the whole map down there, while there was only one way in and one way out. I left every town and fort above ground abandoned, and they were all eventually captured. However, the sacrifice allowed me to gain enough ground, and create an unassailable underground base from which to strike. I eventually took back everything I had lost above ground, which allowed enough production to assault and destroy the final boss. I was pleased with the overall decision. Haven was a grind, and I am glad its behind me. Now I’ll grab on to sanctuary.
Reminds me that I didn’t go over the Necropolis Campaign. I should get to that.

Thursday was football night for my poor Ravens. What a shellacking. Well, that’s what the 5th Preseason game is for.

More spoilers for Theros popped up, and its looking better and better. Its hard not to appeal to a person what loves Greek mythology, though. Augers, Oracles, Minotaurs, Gorgons and Hydras: Whats not to like!

Malifaux 2e Beta Test Part 2 can’t come fast enough. I’ve a great desire to see what Abuela, the Pistoleros, and the Pale Rider all can do in this new edition. I also want some more options to play, looking at Zorida and McMourning. Zorida as a theme I liked back in 1.5, and McMourning as a model that can run a pretty neat guild grew.

Finally, I got my Croak Hunter from Sweden! He came with some delicious candy, as well. Maybe I’ll get back to painting here shortly, It’d be a nice break. Its so nice outside, too. Good time to primer some models while the humidity is about 0%. Speaking of which…

I’m gonna prime some models, and then get some Warmachine games in. I’ll probably deconstruct them tomorrow.

-Tio