Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Trip Report: Buying The Dark Tutelage Deck

So I've decided to throw some more money into this hobby as I've been transitioning from Magic Online to cardboard. Today that was spending $50 on my Dark Tutelage deck that's been slick online. Its only other rares beyond Dark Tutelage are a set of Phylactery Liches, one Sword of Vengeance and a Vess.

This deck mostly plays on speed and the combo between Bloodtrone Vampire and Reassembling Skeleton. As you see with Dark Tutelage, I get an extra card at draw step for the penalty of the casting cost (Think of it as passing kidney stones if kidney stones were gold). From here I put down Liches (casting cost of 3) and make a bomb of

Each pair of mana = +2/+2 from the GY and back including what other skeletons I have in play.
Building on the skeleton I have Viscera Seer which can Scry 1 (I can see if I want to draw the next card with Tutelage or not).

If I choose that the next card will kill me on draw or that I don't want it, I can use the same chain of skeletons to find what I need.

Lastly, this is the engine of my life and early tricks.

It's a mono-Black deck and somewhat of a pauper, but that's exactly what I need... a deck to become familiar with the current Type 2 Standard. I used StarCityGames and I'll comment on their shipping... the prices seemed fair.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Returning Player's Observations on Magic

When I last played Magic: The Gathering, Wizards of the Coast were the formal owners of the franchise. They weren't bound by the will of Hasbro and could do whatever they wanted. I don't think Hasbro has entirely hurt WotC though I do pine for the days when TSR owned Dungeons and Dragons, which is another aside.

Overall I think the years which I didn't play Magic didn't really change or hinder the game play that much. I had known what planeswalkers were, only that the planeswalkers were supposed to be ourselves playing the game, not cards on the table.

Magic Online offered me my first foray into what had changed. I bought an account and was given a set of "planeswalker" cards which were not Type 2 Standard. "Huh", I questioned. "Are these cards much like the "Portal" series of the late 90s?" I asked the WotC employee. It'd taken them a considerable time to tell me that yes, they are the equivalent.

To me, Magic was never entirely about the card mechanics or the rules, it was something that you could engage in at a kitchen table and have fun with your friends. While I do participate in local sanctioned sealed and draft, this has always been what the major motivator to play was -- the social aspect.

I can understand the gripes with modern gameplay mechanics, but I can also point out when the earlier series got really dumb as well as with phasing and banding.

Suggestive White Overtones

I never used to dual White. Actually, I think when I was a kid, White was my least favored color out of the five. Now days when I find myself in draft or in limited I almost always take White. Honor the Pure, Serra Angel, the fliers, the control... it's just very good in a limited and draft format.

When I was a teenager however, I don't think I remember any overbearing overtones to the color war.

And some cards certainly suggested... a color war.

More like...


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Magic: The Gathering in the 1990s

When I began my endeavors into Magic: The Gathering I was about 11 years old and the set at the time was Mirage. I didn't know much about the mechanics of the game or really how to play. A few kids in honors 6th Grade English had used their allotted "activity time" playing Magic. I remember asking the fellows -- "How do you play this game?" And they had replied in a frank demeanor -- "It's too complicated. It would take a week or so for you to learn."

It was then that I didn't play until Urza's Saga / Urza's Legacy came out, which I was several years later. Only until M11 Core and October's Scars of Mirrodin have I played MtG.

This article will focus on a set I have a few cards from that was printed as the first expansion to the original game. The theme was the 1001 Arabian Nights and the cards reflected it offering unique abilities. I often wish that I had a full set of Arabian Nights cards just to see how their "Desert" land worked out and how its counter -- the "Oasis" functioned.

Here's a few cards from the Arabian Nights set that I find amusing.

To begin, I want to introduce City in a Bottle. As far as I am aware it's the only card that exiles cards of its own set excluding itself. It costs 2 colorless which if you were playing Magic in 1994, would offer a good sideboard response to people running the Arabian Nights cards. I shouldn't say exile, it was discarded from play... so even destroying City in a Bottle wouldn't bring back your Arabian Nights cards. I wish I had a copy of this card.

As far as I am aware, the only representation of the leper community in Magic: The Gathering. He offers nice removal and stays attacks. Costs 1 white and can destroy any creature. I imagine this card even gets First Strikers because the key word is "all creatures Abu is blocking or being blocked by are also killed". While First Strike trumps the damage, the card text explicitly states that ALL CREATURES BEING BLOCKED... So that effectively means if he had flying and all of the other effects just to say he could block it, he could kill it.

This card sells for hundreds of dollars because of the opportunity to siphon through your library at a blazing pace. Match this with Library of Leng and I'd have to ask a DCI judge whether or not Leng cancels it out giving you free reign to your library.

I played a friend recently who had a Fortune Thief in their deck. The elf deck couldn't kill me because of Fortune Thief. Fortune Thief looks like a reprint of this card, Ali from Cairo. He goes for about 80USD and keeps you in play as long as he is in play. A nice card.

Finally we have Diamond Valley which can convert any defending creature into life. It has potential for some sick lifegain.

As stated earlier, it's unfortunate that if you want to play with these cards it will cost you a thousand dollars or more total. I guess for every night you dream of playing this set, you can stash away 1$ so that when 1001 Nights have passed, you can play Arabian Nights with your $1000 USD.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Scars of Mirrodin Draft Tips

Here's a list of some cards that I see as very usable in the 30 card draft format.

2 swamp removal. Much better than Wild Growth in combat. You could even splash black for this.

Early aggressor which becomes a 3/3 with Infect if it's blocked. Attack with it every turn. Use a set of them to build up your poison counters on the other player.

Free to play. The defense is nice but it's really the early game vigilance that can shine in the draft format.

A Contagion Engine-lite (no poison). With the Ichorclaw Myr it can stack poison counters early. Without the Ichorclaw Myr, it stands on its own to either proliferate any effects going on, or with its -1/-1 counter, remove creatures or make it easier for you to get board presence.

Please comment with what you feel are the solid draft picks out of this set.

Trip Report: Scars of Mirrodin Midnight Release

So I met up with my fellow neckbeard gentleman at around 12:00AM EST to play some Magic: The Gathering and bought my entry for the 6 packs of Scars of Mirrodin. Of my six packs, two held mythic rares which turned out to be bombs.

I won some booster packs and in all, had 4 wins, 2 losses and 1 draw. I owe my wins to the following cardboard...

For a total of 5 mana, it mills the opponent for 10 cards... My first round had a win by mill because of this card and a 3/3 White flying creature. Not only does it mill for 10, it's also protection from Green / Blue, adds a 2/2 Wolf T-Shirt into play but it also adds +2/+2 to the creature it is equipped to.

So check it, if you ever see this card in a draft or in sealed... take it. I can say that wins were had from this card.

Next is the promotional card. Couldn't play with it, but here's what you get from WotC.

Finally, this, paired with the earlier Sword of Body and Mind is lethal. Absolutely lethal. I can see this being a very good Planeswalker along with Koth.

So tell me fellow neckbeards... how was your FNM draft? Scars Pre-release?
Share what decks you ran.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Drafting Unlimited in Microprose's Magic the Gathering

Here's a link to a video of some ManaLink 2.0 use in the classic Microprose game.
One benefit of this game is that you can play with the Black Lotus and not spend $300 for a torn copy of that card.