SpartanNerd Scoop…Journey Into Nyx Starter Deck Unboxing and Review

I got a freebie at the Tangled Web Journey Into Nyx Pre-release tournament…”The Wilds and the Deep” starter deck from the new Journey Into Nyx expansion of the Theros Block in Magic the Gathering.

Here is my unboxing and review!

I like this color scheme.  My color blinded self originally thought this was blue...then after studying it...I saw it as purple!  The box showcases a foil promo version of "Heroe's Bane," a Hydra card that I knew SpartanSmurf #2 would love!

I like this color scheme. My color blinded self originally thought this was blue…then after studying it…I saw it as purple! The box showcases a foil promo version of “Heroe’s Bane,” a Hydra card that I knew SpartanSmurf #2 would love!

 

The back of the box...

The back of the box…

Let’s dig in!

When you open the box and remove the contents, this is what you see.  Two pieces of paper, the main deck with cellophane wrap, and two booster packs.  I decided to save the booster packs for last...You all can share in my excitement about getting the new cards!

When you open the box and remove the contents, this is what you see. Two pieces of paper, the main deck with cellophane wrap, and two booster packs. I decided to save the booster packs for last…You all can share in my excitement about getting the new cards!

If you have been reading the SpartanNerd Blog regularly, then you know that I threw that blue paper in the trash right away.  But this paper is the important one.  I really dig the art from this set so far.  The art on the pre-release pack was cool, and the art in the whole set is generally good.  This poster thing shows off some of the best art from the set.

If you have been reading the SpartanNerd Blog regularly, then you know that I threw that blue paper in the trash right away. But this paper is the important one. I really dig the art from this set so far. The art on the pre-release pack was cool, and the art in the whole set is generally good. This poster thing shows off some of the best art from the set.

 

Flipping that poster over reveals the deck lists from all five starter decks.  Here is a closeup of "The Wilds and the Deep" deck list.  Basically a green and blue strategy that is neither aggro nor Simic.  These starter decks in general just show off the cards, but don't make a deck archetype well.  (I find this to be the case anyway.)

Flipping that poster over reveals the deck lists from all five starter decks. Here is a closeup of “The Wilds and the Deep” deck list. Basically a green and blue strategy that is neither aggro nor Simic. These starter decks in general just show off the cards, but don’t make a deck archetype well. (I find this to be the case anyway.)

Now for a look at the cards.

6 creatures

Here are the creatures and the lands.

7 notable creatures

Here are the notable creatures. Golden Hind is a mana chump, Bassara Tower Archer has hex proof, Ravenous Luerocota has Monstrosity, Swarmborn Giant is basically a green Desecration Demon, Fleetfeathered Cocatrice is the oddball of the group. And then Heroe’s Bane, with its exploding counters song and dance.

Here are the other spells in the deck.  (meh...)

Here are the other spells in the deck. (meh…)

This is a pretty good deck all around.  I mean, it certainly can be improved…but that is the point, isn’t it?  It is a deck archetype that the wizards suggest and serves as a starting point, especially for a beginner.  So I gave the deck to SpartanSmurf #2, knowing that he was going to LOVE casting that Hero’s Bane Hydra and making him huge!

Now for something I have never done before.  I am going to open my booster packs and slowly reveal the contents to you, Oh Hub City Geeks!

9 booster 1a 10 booster 1b 11 booster 1c

Of these, I would like to point out Satyr Gravedancer, one of my new favorites simply because once I wrote a song called “Gravedancer”!  My opponents played Sigiled Skink against me during the Pre-Release.  I personally don’t think the Font cards are that good, at least for the most part.  You are generally paying more in the long run for something other cards can do faster and better.  I guess since Constellation is a big deal, it is good to have access to those abilities as enchantments.

This pack had a Rare and a Foil…

12 notable cards from this booster

The Eidolon of Blossoms is touted as a new Enchantress type of card.  I’m glad to own her!  And I guess Triton Cavalry is alright too.  (I don’t generally play the Merfolk.)

Time for pack two….

13 booster 2a 14 booster 2b 15 booster 2c

The cards in this pack “speak to me” a little more.  The white cards really got a boost this time.  This pack has a few things with Strive, and also Heroic, two mechanics born for each other.  I like the Golden Hind, though it’s no Elvish Mystic, and also the Cloaked Siren, who can flash in.

The rare in this deck is “Bearer of the Heavens.”  A totally unplayable card in Standard.  This pack came with a Spider token.  What I need is a Snake token!

16 notable cards from this pack

All around I was happy to be one of the first to unbox one of these starter decks for the whole internet to see.  I grade this deck as a 2/5 as far as playable in standard right out of the box.  But as a product as a whole, it gets 5/5, because it does what it says it does well.  And I was glad to give the cards to my son.  (I gave the Booster Pack cards to my other son.)

 

What would you rate “The Wilds and the Deep?”  Let me know in the comments!

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SpartanNerd…What happened at the Journey to Nyx Midnight Pre-Release Tournament?!

I left my home for the 20-30 minute drive (traffic really makes a difference!) to the Tangled Web Comics and Games store in Spartanburg at about 10:45 P.M. on the night before the pre-release.  Before I left, I loaded up on my new favorite drink, Mountain Dew Kickstart, and thought about how crazy this was.  I was now taking my MTG fixation to a new level…attending an all-nighter tournament.  Luckily there was little traffic…a lot of Proms were going on in the Hub City, so that kept people off the road on the west side, evidently.  (I wanted to get there early and buy some new sleeves.)

Anyway, I got there plenty safe, and spent a little time talking to folks before the event.  The TW really started to fill up.  This would be the largest tournament I ever played in, with 63 total participants!

So here’s what I got!

I chose Black as my color.  I thought a ton of people might have chosen black…We were called last.  It seems that almost no one chose red…probably the weakest preview this time.

1 Box

This is what my box looked like. No peeking until the boss says so! “Forged in Tyranny.” The wizard are referring to the fantasy that Erebos tyrannically takes everyone’s soul in death.

This tournament is the hardest kind of tournament…basically a sealed deck tournament.  You can only play with the cards you get.  And you have no idea what they are except for that you chose black and get a Doomwake Giant.  He has potential, but isn’t stellar.  Luckily a faithful player is familiar with half of the card in this box…you get two Theros boosters and one Born of the Gods booster.

2 Box contents

Here are the contents of the box. Sorry, not much room. I took this picture at the store on my Angel playmate!

3 Hero card vanilla

One of the draws on the pre-release is the Heroes path. This is the special Hero card you get to play with the challenge decks, “Face the Hydra” “Battle the Horde” and the upcoming “Defeat a God.” Black gets a whip. I know this is a blurry pic, but it says “Equipped Creature gets+1/+2 and has death touch.” The big blank space is so you can customize the weapon to your liking…which I will show you later!

4 Insert front

There was this insert…It features the Promo art for Doomwake Giant. Like the Dual Deck art that recently came out, this is also excellent artwork.

5 Insert back

The back of that insert has some information for the new players. It explains the stance of Orzhov as a a drain type of deck. Dimur as a tricky type of deck that takes the other players card advantage and kills there creatures, The black and red Rakdos style deck features aggressive creatures and especially minotaurs in the Theros block, and the Black and Green Golgari style deck that uses the graveyard as a source of cards.

6 counter dice

I was glad to get a dice that matched my deck well and I can read easily! Of course the 20 spot has the symbol for the Journey Into Nyx expansion of the Theros block.

7 Forge a Godslayer card

Back to the Hero card. Each time you finished a match, you got to get a sticker-seal thing. You put the sticker according to the chart at the bottom…This was how you indicated what text you wanted on your Hero card. I wanted double strike, so I got all three brown stickers. I imagine in a massive tournament of this type, of maybe several hundred people, this would have been more challenging. I personally enjoy the challenge decks and playing them on GameDay especially. But lots of people were just ignoring this mini-game.

Before I begin showing off cards, I want to explain my thinking going into this thing.  I knew I wanted to get Athreos or Pharika as a rare in my sealed pack.  My intent was to go either Black-White or Black-Green.  I had scoped out the cards ahead of time, and knew this was what I wanted to do.  Additionally I have been playing Mono-Black devotion, but recently created a Green Black deck using Deathrite Shaman for SpartanSmurf #2.  But I also have a good experience with Black White from Ravnica.  And I thought Athreos was the best new god card coming out.  (Lots of other people think so too…he is pre-selling for over $20.)

My sealed pack had Pharika, and when I weighed out all of my cards, Black-Green was my best choice.  Here is the deck I put together.

 

8 My creatures

These cards formed my strategy…

9 Star cards

Before it was over, these were the standout cards for me. The Nyx Weaver has reach and can stop those flyers…He also loads your graveyard to fuel Pharika’s ability. The two of them were a powerful combo the few times I got them out together. Pharika has the ability to make 1/1 death touch snakes, which are what Pharika’s chosen is, for a lot cheaper. In this deck I was lucky to get two copies.  Mogis Marauder is one that I haven’t paid that much attention to before…In constructed he is only so useful it seems.  But in this limited environment he was really good.  Font of Return was good for getting stuff out of my graveyard, as well as Pharika’s Mender.  Returned Reveler would have been good in multiples.  Milling your opponent who probably doesn’t want to be, and you who does!  Finally Doomwake Giant, who was good at killing off Mana Elves as he entered the battlefield.

10 unused JOU cards

These are the cards I rejected.  It seems I didn’t photograph all of the white ones for some reason.  But the white cards became my sideboard which I didn’t use.

11 useless rares

The bummer thing was that I couldn’t use most of my rares. Pyxis of Pandemonium. (eye roll). Ephara has blue, and Psychic Intrusion hasn’t ever been a home run. Deicide and Launch the Fleet might have been good if I played white instead of Green.

12 cards that were a problem for me

These are some of the cards that people played against me that gave me a problem. It just so happens that I had a copy of these. The Sigiled Starfish was really troubling. Not only was it too big for my deck to kill, opponents usually wouldn’t block with it. And it allowed them to scry. In fact 3 out of my four opponents played this card. Kiora’s Dismissal was another one. I go through effort to play something, say Pharika’s Mender, and then it gets put back into my hand.

I left the tournament at 5:15 A.M. after four rounds.  I’m sure it would have lasted until 10:00.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  And my weariness was effecting my playing and even my ability to do the simple combat math involved.  I came home and crashed until about 11:00.  But it was a blast.  I think fondly on the experience, and hope to do it again sometime.

Oh Yeah!  And I got a freebie.  “The Wilds and the Deep” starter deck, which I will post as a SpartanNerd Scoop as my next post!

SpartanNerd Awesome Lightbox photos

Taking pictures like these is a new art to me!  Send me some feedback!

 

SpartanNerd…Journey Into Nyx Excitement!

I am officially signed up to play in The Tangled Web’s midnight pre-release tournament for Journey Into Nyx!

I ordered black as my sealed deck.

So I know I have a Doomwake Giant coming…Not bad for a two for one big creature.  And I am excited about getting that Heroes Path card to play on GameDay.

I intend to make a Black and White deck with my sealed cards.  At least that’s what I hope.  Who knows!  That’s the beauty of playing a card game!

This time Black seems to have a lot of hate for everything else besides control.  It’s odd.  Black has been a “creature” strategy in Theros, dropping that Grey Merchant and draining your opponent with devotion to black through permanents.  The Whip of Erebos has also been a star.  And all of this supported with the Pack Rat from Ravnica, and the Mutavault.

But Journey Into Nyx is going to diversify things a bit.  I still think Mono Black is going to be boss.  But now White has a lot of awesome stuff…Stuff that can work with the Black stuff.  (And White, with its hope in the Heroic Mechanic, has been weak, but will now really shine along with the Strive Mechanic, I think.)

Of course Green and Blue are also getting a boost.  It seems red is the weakest this time…In my opinion.

Of the Gods, I hope to get Athreos or Pharika.  Really, Athreos.  Long live Drain!

As far as how I am going to build my card base this time…I am going to do it smarter.  Rather than buying a box, I am just going to get the cards I care about.  Rather than going the route of booster packs all the time, I am going to cherry pick.  I think I am going to be happier this way all around.  The Nerd Closet is getting to be harder to maintain, and more Magic Cards than necessary isn’t welcome.  (I stopped buying Fat Packs.  Why?  Not because I don’t like the value.  But because you get all this unnecessary land!  I generally acquire the box without the extra stuff.)

 

SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review…Minecraft Steve with Diamond Armor

Someone’s been a hopping down the Easter Trail at the SpartanNerd household…and bringing brightly colored, low rez goodies!

Lets have a look at Steve..the hero from Minecraft.

I am going to have to admit something.  I don’t really get Minecraft.  And I remind the SpartanSmurfs constantly that there must not be a point to a game if you don’t score points or save a princess.  But they contend that it is the lack of a mission that makes the game fun.

Whatever.  I’ll say it again.  Kids these days don’t know how to game!

OOPS.  A little rant.  Back to the review.

This toy comes in this box.

boxfront

You can clearly see the contents.  Notably, there is only the word MINECRAFT on the bottom, with no character name or description.  Instead that information is at the top of the blister card.  The #2 at the top indicates that this toy is from series 2.

And the back?

boxback

Here you get a little more info, a battle pose for “Steve”, and a look at some other products in this series.

So, lets open this up and throw away the box!

statue steve

Here is Steve, fully assembled and standing on his block.

Here is a shot of all the pieces.

accessories

The SpartanSmurfs tell me that this block isn’t a block.  It is “Diamond Ore.”  OK.  Looks like a block to me.  Notice the helmet and sword.  They are blue…this is supposed to be the diamond color.  This Steve is in Diamond Armor, after all.

I assure you readers, that the parts of the a figure come apart easily for customization.  But SpartanSmurf #2 forbid me to take him apart and photograph him….

This helmet almost got lost on Easter, when SpartanSmurf #2 was running down a hill at my grandma’s house, while holding the figure, and fell down, dropping the helmet in some thick clover.  Good thing I have sharp eyes…(this time I was just lucky.)

Here are a few more poses by said SpartanSmurf #2.

sitting steve

They sit around and play Minecraft. Now Minecraft sits around and plays you!

limbo steve

It is apparently funny to make every action figure do the limbo…

 

fighting steve

Remember this, from the back of the box?

 

Because I am so clueless and unenthusiastic about this game, I asked them to give me 10 things to say about this figure.  Here is the information, verbatim.  Keep in mind, I don’t pretend to purport this information as accurate.  And because an 8 year old and a 12 year old told me what to write, it might have some opinion and bias, as well as inaccuracies.  That disclaimer delivered, her goes:

  • Steve has Diamond Armor
  • a diamond sword. It can hit for seven hearts of damage. against any enemy. a skeleton and villager take 3. You can fight against other players….Ender Dragon takes about 200 sword hits. The Wither takes about 300. However, the SpartanSmurfs are not truly certain. Herobrine takes 307
  • Removable helmet. Made of diamond. Provides protection from his head…adding 2 to his armor class. The rest of the armor is diamond. The chest plate is about 4. The leggings are about 3. the boots are about 2. All of this is the most protection you can have.
  • To get the armor you have to mine a lot of diamonds. Maybe about 20 diamonds to get the full armor. Diamond is very hard to find. It is the second rarest item on the game, after emerald.
  • I am told there is a command that lets you switch between game modes. This is how SpartanSmurf #2 has acquired such a rare armor.
  • When you are hurt, your armor loses durability. Your hands, you face, and back of your neck are unprotected.
  • SpartanSmurf #1 says that he saved a village from 1000 zombies that he spawned in creative and then switched to survival with the diamond getup.
  • You have to modify the diamond armor and sword with an enchantment table….You can make it have thorns for instance. Or the weapons can deal fire damage.
  • An Anvil lets you use a spell book, which you can use to specifically enchant something. And you can even give unlimited enchantments.
  • It looks very cool, and becomes sky-blue and shiny if enchanted. This is the best thing about the way it looks.

 

OK.  Now for my opinion.  About the figure.  I mean, that’s all I can really do.

Steve has less articulation than a Lego Mini-figure.  But he still gives you the vibe that he could be one if he were smaller.  His arms move on a circular joint, he has no wrist articulation.  His legs also only move back and forth.  He does have a torso/waist twist.  His head can turn all the way around.  He comes with a helmet, a shield, a sword, and a piece of “Diamond Ore.”

I personally wouldn’t buy or want to buy something like this for myself.  I prefer super articulated figures.  And let’s face it.  I have NO ATTACHMENT TO MINECRAFT!  Did I mention that this guy is valued at around $15?  Why?  Demand, I suppose.

I tried to play it a couple of times…I don’t get it.  And I wasn’t immersed in the world like a game should do.  However, the kids nowadays really are into it.  And It seems to be a clean game.  I know that there are some hoaxes about the game going around…the aforementioned “Herobrine” is one of them apparently.

So my rating for Steve with Diamond Armor from Minecraft is 1/5.  What’s yours?  (This is the lowest I have ever rated anything, I believe.)

SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review…Magic the Gathering Dual Decks- Jace Vs. Vraska

OK.  First of all, let me say that I kept putting this purchase off.  When this first came out, I decided to get the new event deck instead, yadda yadda yadda, so this has been out for awhile.  But I am sooooo sorry!  This product is very, very nice.  I’d say it is the best of the Dual Decks I have seen.  (Granted, I haven’t seen many all of them, but i have seen many.)

So let’s dive in and see why!

boxfront

This deck has a very shiny foil quality…one that appears on the two main cards.  Jace, Architect of Thought, and Vraska the Unseen.

boxback

The back gives you some general information, and shows off some of the kinds of cards here.

The overall presentation of this dual deck is more appealing than the last dual deck, Heroes vs. Monsters.

What’s inside?  Here are the contents when you take everything out of the box.

contents

from left to right, You get propaganda and instructions, two decks.  Two foil cards of Jace and Vraska, and two deck boxes.

Jace and Vraska marriage

Lots of things to say here!  The foils are very nice.  Jace is clearly seen to be the good guy here.  While Vraska is the villain.  She looks especially creepy in this foil.  Her eyes look like they might turn you to stone for real!The deck boxes are beautiful.  In fact, throughout this set the art is some of the best art I have seen in MTG.  The two papers…I just toss the blue one.  To me, that is a waste of paper.  The instructions are important as they contain a deck list and suggestions for playing each deck.  And do you notice anything odd about the two decks, as presented here still in their cellophane?  Study for a minute, and then I will return to this subject after a couple of pics of the instructions.

inside paper

Jace and Vraska never looked better!

great artwork

I don’t know if my picture is doing it justice, but the art depicted here is really great! Especially the updated art for “Night Whispers.” (creeeeepy!)

jace decklist

Jace’s decklist

vraska decklist

Vraska’s decklist

OK.  Back to the decks.  Did you notice that there is an Assassin token on JACE’S DECK?

You see, the ultimate ability of the Planeswalker Vraska the Unseen gets out three assassin tokens, that are 1/1’s, and have “If this token causes combat damage to a player, that player loses the game!”

The thing is, the Assassin token itself has been sort of a rare item.  In all of the booster packs I have opened, this token has only ever come up once!

So I was exited…I mean, now maybe I can have three!  But I was disappointed.  Only one was there on top of Jace’s deck.  Now stay with me for awhile longer.

You see, normally in these pre-fabricated decks, all the spells are kind of roped together by type.  So instants and sorcerys usually get one “clump” in the original package, as do the creatures and lands.  And tokens.  So my thought was, “Rat’s Rump.  Only one token.”

The Assassin token became a mini-game in itself, as I continued to open the set to photograph!

So I continued with Jace’s deck.  I mean I removed the cellophane and all…

Jace creatures

Here are Jace’s creatures.  Of note, “Jace’s Phantasm” has been a card played a lot in the past at the SpartanNerd household.

Here are the rare creatures.

Jace rare creatures

These are pretty good.  Body Double is my favorite, turning your opponents creature on its head under your control.

Jace is blue right?  Time for some Instants and Sorcerys.

Jace instants

Jace rare spells

These two are the rare instants and sorcerys.  However, the one that has been getting all of the attention in the world of “Modern” tournaments is “Remand.”

Jace remand

You get to send a creature back to its owners hand!  This knocks off the counters and enchantments.  And of course let’s you know at least one card that your opponent has.  AND you might just be putting your opponent behind if they are trying to combo you.  On top of all this goodness, you get to draw a card.  And for only two mana!

Jace gets three special lands.

Jace special land

Dread Sanctuary add’s an illusion to your creatures for on turn.  And on top of that, pumps some guys who’s power and toughness are related to the number of illusions you control.  Halimar Depths is basically a land with scry 3, except you don’t get to put the cards on the bottom of the deck if you don’t like them.

Neither land is a huge game changer.  Halimar Depths is slow.  And Dread Sanctuary asks a lot of you for what it does, four mana.

No more tokens showed up.  Not even a Illusion token, which the Jace deck seems to want to have…

Now for the Vraska deck.

vraska creatures

Exept for Reaper of the Wilds and Acidic Slime, Vraska’s creatures are sort of un-glamorous.  Wight of Precinct Six sees a lot of play at the SpartanNerd House…One of the kids likes to play green-black.

Here are the rare creatures.

vraska rare spells

Reaper of the Wilds can cause trouble….

Oh Yeah.  Back to the tokens.  Would you believe another Assassin token was sitting on top of Gatecreeper vine?

Vraska has a few Instants and Sorcerys.

vraska instats

Night Whispers gets you about the same power and information as Read the Bones.  Treasured Find WOULD be a key card if this deck tried to play out of the graveyard, which Green-Black does very well.  But my favorite here is “Underworld Connections.”  And I needed another copy.  So now I have that!

And after the instants and sorceress, who was mixed in?  Assassin token!

So here is Vraska, for the very first time in the SpartanNerd house, with all three of her deadly chumps!

vraska assassins

Here are Vraska’s special lands

 

vraskaspecial land

Golgari Guildgate.  YAWN.  Rogue’s Passage; pretty nice.  Tainted Wood.  What’s that!  A dual land from a set that doesn’t seem to be allowed in Modern!  (It was originally printed before the sets allowed in Modern)

All in all, considering the two foils, Underworld Connection, Remand, and Reaper of the Wilds,

So how did the decks play out?

I played against SpartanNerd #2, who really just wanted to do something else…:(  The Golgari deck here isn’t really a graveyard deck.  (The Wizards said they designed this deck NOT to behave in the way most Golgari decks work.)

Basically, though the Jace deck is a monster of a Jace deck.  I could totally imagine him playing every card in the deck!

I won with no problems whatsoever!  And I decided to just keep drawing until every card got to touch some play.  At least for this match, Jace was able to lock down the creatures, delay them by sending them to the top of the library, or canceling them somehow.

The Jace deck seems to overpower Vraska.  But in the coming weeks and months, if I find out different  I will keep you posted, oh Hub City Geeks!

So what do I rate this Dual Deck?  5/5!  This is the best artwork I have seen on a Magic product.  And the decks are fun to play and pop with the personality of the character they  are identified with.

I give the Dual Decks a 5/5  What’s your score?  Leave comments!