I like D&D. I like it very much, and it is one of the most enduring pastimes that I’ve had. Unlike nearly every other game or hobby I’ve had, I’ve never voluntarily put it on hold. I also like MTG very much. It’s a game that I can pick up and put down with relative ease, going to pre-release events and playing well enough every couple of months to feel good about playing. 

Well, I’ll be damned if they aren’t going to jam these two right together again with a new sourcebook for D&D – Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica

I cannot tell you how excited I am to get this into my hands! 

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A while back, I mentioned that my brother was making a MTG: Conspiracy cube.  A cube, for those like me who barely know any MTG parlance, is a pre-selected batch of singleton cards that  the owner of the cube has selected to create the draft style that they enjoy. Most cubes are power cubes: ones that ratchet up the speed and power of the game to 11, combining staples from all the constructed formats and turning them into a super-powerful Frankenstein of a draft. Another popular cube is the pauper cube, using only the best commons in order to create a very different type of powerful experience, though again they only have a single copy of any given card. These cubes enable people to draft wherever they happen to be with whoever they happen to have around, and have those people experience what the cubes owner loves most about draft.

To that effect, recently MTG came out with Conspiracy, their summer set that is generally about fun and noncompetitive games for us casual players. Feeding off of last years highly successful Modern Masters, a power-draft oriented set that brought a lot of out of print cards back, this years set was all about draft. For the first time, they included cards that interacted directly with the draft itself. These cards create some great affects that make drafting extremely interesting. Some of the

The cards range in effect from the Cogwork Librarian which allows you to trade a pick in your current pack, by picking him, for a pick in a future pack, where you return him to the draft. There are also cards like the Æther Searcher and Lurking Automaton that not when you picked them during the draft to make the best of their abilities. There is also my personal favorite, though its one that is hard to get correct, which allows you to trade all your future picks this pack for all the cards left in a given pack.

They also came out with a completely new card type, the Conspiracy. This card is colorless, manaless and essentially not part of the game at all. It sits to the side of the game, in the Command Zone, where they lurk to wreak havoc on your opponents and their plans. The Conspiracies are great fun to draft because they are cards of pure hope and strategy. If you get enough of the same ones to stack up, you can really turn a draft on its head. I managed to pull Brago’s Favor, Immediate Action and Muzzio’s Preparations all on the humble Highland Berserker.

All of this enables each draft and each game to be different. cheap, weak cards can become powerful, and slow powerful cards can become cheap, and every iteration in between. Its was a very cool concept that I was going to be unable to participate in.

Thankfully, my brother wanted to build a cube of Conspiracy cards and bring the joy of the Conspiracy draft to others! This was fantastic news to me, and when asked for help, I did everything I could to assist. It probably amounted to nothing, because I don’t know many cards, but it was fun to talk about broad spectrum theories. One of the things that was going to differentiate this from most cubes was that this was not going to be singleton. This cube, due to the nature of many of the conspiracy cards, would need to have multiples of a number of cards just to get the desired flow of the draft.

It ended up being a ton of fun, as I’ve now drafted it four times, and each time felt like a success. The first time through felt a little complex,but the second time felt really smooth. I drafted it more for archetype, too, testing out whether each color pair feels unique. The deck I played was extremely aggressive and topped out at 5 cmc. It was the kind of deck I really liked, but I sabotaged it on my own by including cards that slowed down my aggression to try and temp. The second draft was a allies deck and man that thing shot out of the gate. I was able to build up a massive life total of something along the lines of 53 life and was able just to outlast almost everyone, including casting Rout at an opportune time to be able to capitalize and move into the endgame.

This Alternate draft experience has been extremely enjoyable, and its one I’d want to repeat as often as possible, and I think that the capabilities of the cube-like format is really awesome and worth exploring, including leading it towards my favorite type of MTG to play: Flavor-based.

I am a sucker for a good, fun theme, and the Ravnica theme is just fantastic. I love the flavor that it gives each pair of colors and the thought process that is used for each one in order to try and win, and I love building themed decks during draft.

I’ve thought about trying to make a Cubnica before, but I didn’t know how successful it could be. With the Conspiricube being a whole pot full of fun, I think that one based on the flavor and style of the Ravnican plane would just be a blast. It is going to be extremely hard, though, as there are more than 700 cards out there that are watermarked as guild cards, and that doesn’t count lands and artifacts. Most cubes hit 360 cards (the total of a cubes interior angles is 360, hence Cube) for that 8 player experience. 700 is just extremely large and could really dilute the flavor of the guilds.

Instead, I am going to have to focus on how to make the important cards in the guilds, the Guild Leaders, Champions, and Runners, work within the context of the draft. I also want each of the individual decks that were viable in both Return to Ravnica Block and the Original Ravnica Block to have their place to shine.

I am currently torn between wanting to have a non-singleton deck that is much more watered down but consistent or a singleton, traditional cube that is more flavorful but less consistent and able to carry each guild. I know I want to use the guild cycles, and that I want to include guildless, good cards, but I don’t really even know where to start. While I can’t put a ton of time into building it right now, the time will come soon where I’ll be talking about the epic failures of my first cube and how to make it better!

 

 

These last few weeks since NOVA have been killer. I’ve not had the motivation, opportunity or drive to really get into a whole lot of gaming, and I think its creating an even further slump that continues to drive downward.

What I have done, I’ve not really been doing in detail, so I’m just going to rattle over some high-view stuff on what I’ve been up to, and what I am considering doing.

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This weekend was the Khans of Tarkir Prerelease event, and I grabbed my playmat, dice and sleeves and made my way out to take part.

I’d really missed the midnight pre-releases from the Return to Ravnica block, and I was finally able to attend one again, which I plan on making a habit. I don’t get to play to often, and the prerelease events are fun and flavorful. I’m lucky to have started playing MTG again when I did, because starting with Return to Ravnica, they changed the format and made it much more engaging and dynamic, with choices of colors, Guilds and Factions making the games more immersive and building the excitement for the set to come.

As I had mentioned before, This set is all about the wedges of the game: Three color combinations involving a single color and its two enemy colors. During the Shards block, they had allied combinations: Grixis , Naya , Jund, Bant and Esper. These have now come to mean simply more than the shards from the set, and to encompass any deck of the same colors. We will see if Jeskai , Abzan , Sultai , Mardu ,  and Temur can take the place of the current naming conventions of decks of their shared colors.

I knew I was going to be playing Jeskai at the Two Headed Giant with my brother, so for the midnight pre-release I decided on Mardu. Sealed, which is what the pre-release games are, tends to be fairly slow, with each deck at the mercy of its pool and only able to get off to a quick start if the stars align correctly. Mardu, but the virtue of its colors, is an exceedingly fast deck. With the piles of 2 and 3 drop creatures I expected to get, I was going to be able to get into the guts of an opponent quick and beat them before they could drop their big bad monsters. I was really banking on a few or more creatures with the signature raid ability, though, when I built my deck. My seeded pack, one in which they give you some cards that are guaranteed to be in your colors to ensure you can build a reasonable deck with the colors you chose, contained an Utter End, four raid creatures and a raid spell.

The rest of the packs contained 0, as I had somehow managed not to get a single raid card in my 5 other packs. I did get a pretty solid deck in my colors though, with 7 removal and a stack of 17 swift creatures. I was extremely happy with my deck, though there was a singe card causing me contention. Ponyback Riders. My deck wanted to be fast, to be aggressive, and to come in low. Ponyback Riders was none of that. At a hard cost of 6, it was way above the curve of the casting costs I wanted. Its morph cost was  5, but it was still high for what I felt I needed in the deck. There was going to be so very few times I would be able to cast this spell, even if it did give me 3 1/1 tokens to go along with it. But, it is the Clans signature card. At common, its given a premium spot in limited, and making due with the commons you have is the difference between wins and losses. I hemmed and hawed about what to cut if I was to put it in. Eventually, I just gave in and tossed the damn thing in my deck, repercussions be damned. I did to a ton of smack talk about the card, though.

It proved me wrong.

The format was a three round tournament, where if you won in any given round, you won a booster pack. Fairly simple, exceedingly fun, and limited time. Good all around. I went into my first match, hoping to get a quick win and a pack. My opponent was playing Abzan, and he ground it out as well as Abzan could be expected to, but as the game was starting to stabalize towards him, I managed to pull out a Ponyback Riders, tip the balance in my favor, and put pressure on him. I managed to get him to 8 life, and attack with just a pair of creatures totaling three damage, he feels safe, takes the damage, hoping to push through the next turn for the kill, but I hit him with an Arrow Storm. Man, I love Lava Axe Effects. The second game went much better for me, with his deck short on mana and I managed to get out a pile of creatures quickly. It was a short brutal set, but I took home the win, and the pack.

The second player was someone I’d played before, maybe once or twice, and was a real good sport. He’d decided to take Jeskai, and I felt it was going to be one of those games where we dueled it out a bit, each of us built for aggro. It turns out, though, that he’d built a slower, more controlling Jeskai deck. Once again, the tables were slowly turning on me as he built up an army of dudes to combat mine, and I was left with a sinking board state. Once again, Ponyback riders come to my rescue, allowing me to turn the tide again and get him for game one. Game two I was able to get in and underneath him again, taking my second win for the night!

The last guy I played that night was also a Mardu player, having the same philosophy that if he went underneath the other players, he’d be able to get a fair number of wins in. Turns out, he was right. His deck, both times, had more removal and more creatures show up, and I was just thrumpped. Man, is BloodSoaked Champion good.

My brother also won two games with his Temur deck, and we both headed out of there with a pair of packs. Its so late, I don’t even remember what I pulled!

With that, I made my way home to get some rest, hang out with my family, and get back to business the next day for the main event. Two Headed Giant.

The Brothers Grimm made an appearance again, and if you’d forgotten, let me remind you: We were terrible last time. This time, though, we were prepared. We chose our styles and our guilds, and were ready to roll. We’d talked about both playing super-fast decks that would be able to take advantage of the slow buildup of the opponents again. I took Jeskai, because I love the color combinations, and my brother chose Mardu for the speed and violence. I was really, really looking to get some cool prowess combinations going off, but it just wasn’t to be, as between our two boxes: My seeded pack and the 10 extra packs we’d opened, we managed to pull just 7 Prowess cards. Man, I was bitter, especially because it felt that my brother got a huge pile of Raid cards. Still, I had enough cards to make a good Jeskai deck, and make it really aggressive. I had 9 removal and 10 creatures, most of which flew, and my brother had some 20 creatures, all of which were cheap and effective.

What I’d have given just for one…

Our first matchup was against, it seemed to me, another pair of brothers, though much younger. What is crucial here is that Two Headed Giant is not a best of three format, its a single game, with everything hinging on how that one game is able to progress. We’d learned last time and made sure that we had enough mana, and mulliganed anything that seemed even remotely fishy. There was no reason to keep a bad hand with only one game. I won’t say we beat the other team easily, but it wasn’t a particular challenge, either. Both decks they made were in the traditional “battlecruiser” style that just stalled the first couple turns until they had enough mana out to start firing off their big spells and fatty bombs. Thankfully, between the spells, flyers, and raid creatures were were able to set up a slew of really advantageous positions and make sure they stayed on the backfoot. We went up 1-0

Our second matchup brought us against a pair of players that knew what they were doing, and though I kept us in the game, my brother managed to flood out with lands. We put up a valiant fight, but with only one player, it was extremely hard to overcome their decks.

The third match was against a person I’d played a few times before, and his teammate, who I’d seen around but never played against. While they were fine to play against, they bickered like an old married couple over every action! I admit, my brother and I would confer about certain actions, but each game (except this one) took around half the time in the round. They’d mentioned that they had gone to time every single game so far, and ours was no different. Add to that, at least in my brain, that we made a single, terrible mistake in the game that sealed our fate, and it expanded the magnitude. we had 29 life, and they had 9. We were at a significant advantage, and we knew it. We had a large pile of creatures on the table, and though theirs were larger, we could get through with a few. I had 2 flyers, and they had one big one, who we’d let through the turn before. We could, we calculated, get some 7 points of damage through and really put our feet on their necks. We attacked with everything we had.

Into the arms of a firestorm. Three spells and the blocks we expected later, and our team was gutted. what little there was left was just sitting there, waiting to be crushed under the bootheels of the army that was coming across the table in but a single turn. at that point we could have scooped, but we figured we’d play it out to the end, and man it was aggravating. It happens, we took our second loss of the night, dropping to 1-2 and got ready to face our last opponents, hoping to at least break even.

Sadly, we knew the people playing, and they were exhausted. They both were running on lack of sleep, and we were able to overrun them extremely quickly both from awesome draws on our side and tiredness on theirs. We even had enough time to swap decks between games, and beat them with their own decks!

I enjoyed both experiences, and unsurprisingly the Mardu deck felt more powerful. It was fast, it was unrelenting, and it was able to slide in under most opponents guards. The colors work really well together as an aggressive style of play, building on blacks power for a price, reds headlong abandon, and whites simple weenies. They all three, as well, have very powerful removal, often the best in the game, and this was no exception. Arrow Storm, Throttle, Kill Shot and Murderous Cut all live side by side in the same deck. it was a pretty heady rush.

However, the games with my brother were much more fun that the games I ran earlier that day. Besides having someone to talk to and confer with, the Prowess deck was just much more fun to play. I love combat, combat tricks, flashy spells and cool creatures, and Jeskai allowed me to do that all day. I love to keep people guessing when they play me, and though I am undeniably aggressive, I do so much love to cast those interesting spells that are blowouts once every other time. I’m a risk taker, and I don’t like durdling around with my decks, especially draft and sealed. It was great to be playing a deck that really exemplified my style, and I think I am going to have to look at adding a little more white to my decks

Honestly, Prerelease sealed deck is one of my favorite versions of any game to play. Its right up there with Draft and Warmachine,easily above Infinity and Malifaux. If you get a chance, if you enjoyed MTG once before or haven’t played it in a long time give the next prerelease a shot! Its a time travel block, and I’ll be there, playing along!

 

Its been an extremely long time since I played magic, and longer than that since I drafted. Thankfully, this seems poised to change here soon, with the onset of Khans of Tarkir, the newest MTG set to be release in just a few weeks. It seems to be that October is the best time for me to be able to sit down and think about drafting and MTG in general.

one of the things I’ve always enjoyed about Magic is how the colors interact. From the very first set I picked up Blue and Red were enemies and White and Green were allies. It was an ingrained portion of the game, and I really don’t remember trying to force a pair of colors to work together if they were not allies. Fast forward to the first time I came back to Magic from hiatus with the invasion block, and this color-alliance was the focus of the game. Invasion and Planeshift worked within the standard confines and dealt in friendly pairs, but when Apocolypse dropped, it turned my world on its head. Cards like Suffocating Blast and Mystic Snake, Flowstone Charger and Consume strength encouraged building decks that I’d never conceived of before, and it stoked my love of enemy color pairs that has flourished since then. Getting back into the game for Return to Ravnica was icing on that cake, with enemy and ally pairs being put together to form the guilds I had missed the first time around.

What had also happened was that MTG design had gotten crisper and more focused. That which I had originally decried as a loss of storyline – the moving on from the Weatherlight Saga – had creates a greater canvas with which to create original and cool stories, like Ravnica. I had also missed the extremely insane Shards block, where the allied color “shards” were prominently featured: Shards being the allied colors of a central color, ie Black-Blue-Red is a shard centering on black. It had left open the design space, simply by existing, of “enemy shards” or wedges as they came to be known. Instead of the multicolor focus being on the allies of a given color, they would instead be on the enemy colors. This has given us Khans of Tarkir, a set that focuses on five tribes fighting against each other for the control of an entire world.

The Inevitable Azban

Abzan

The Brilliant Jaskai

Jeskai

The Inevitable Sultai

Sultai

The Relentless Mardu

Mardu

The Powerful Temur

Temur

Each of these clans evokes an aspect of the long dead dragons, killed by the clans a thousand years ago, as seen on their symbols: Endurance (scale), cunning (eye), ruthlessness (claw), speed (wings) and savagery (claw).

What I find most interesting about these color sets is that the design decided not to center each of the clans thematically around the off color, but around whatever seemed right, the first color in the clans list. This seems to be to get them around having to really design some strange cards, but it throws me off at first.

In addition to the interaction of the colors through the wedges, the set also has six mechanics, which is a hefty amount. One, morph, is carried across all the clans and is meant to, in a manner, portray the aspect of the dragons. This interesting, returning mechanic allows some very cool attacking and blocking games that will be extremely fun to use on the table.

 I originally really dug the Raid Mechanic, as it encourages an extremely aggressive play style to be well rewarded, and I am nothing if not aggressive. It also comes in my favorite three color wedge: Red-White-Black. It has the best removal, the swiftest of creatures and the sacrifice for power theme of Black, so whats not to love!

But Somewhere in Wizards deep, deep dungeons, someone knew that I was about to abandon my beloved Izzet(Blue-Red) so they made Prowess, and man, do I really like it. I’m not a typical drafter, because I enjoy playing spells and doing neat things instead of just turning creatures sideways and winning. Don’t get me wrong, its a fantastic way to win, but I enjoy casting spells way, way more. I’ll genenraly draft 10 spells and 14 creatures instead of the 18+ creatures many decks enjoy. Izzets Overload and the preponderance of Scry and Heroic in both blue and red in Theros really fueled that play style, and I feel that Prowess can do the same in Khans. Thankfully, it also opens me up to Temur and their giant, huge creatures, but they just aren’t the same feeling as casting crazy spells to pump my whole boat and send them flying at my enemy. I’d ideally like to pull something like Dragon Style Twins or Howl of the Horde out of red, Sage of the Inward Eye and Narset could just flat out enable bonkers size attacks. I just see a ton of cool ways to enable, boost and take a Jeskai deck to the top.

Hopefully, my brother and I will be able to play in the Two Headed Giant tournament out here and do decently well, unlike last time. while its always good fun to get to game with my brother its always going to be more fun if we crush the enemy beneath our boot heals. The Preview week is still carrying on over at DailyMTG, so there are plenty more cards to see yet before the Pre-release the weekend of the 19-21st.

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 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.