SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review…Commander 2014 “Forged In Stone” EDH Deck

This time I didn’t have the luxury of unboxing the product for you, oh Hub City Geeks.  The “Forged in Stone” Commander deck has been in play at the SpartanNerd’s house for some time, and I didn’t get a chance to unbox it for you.  Sorry!

The unboxing was similar to the unboxing of “Sworn to Darkness” from the same set, which you can see my review of here. (click the link)

Regardless, I am including a video of the cards.

I also have the main insert.

a1 insert frontIMG_5601

The art features Nahiri, the Lithomancer.  This has been a mysterious character in Magic the Gathering fiction, evidently.  I’ve only recently begun to read the online stories, but evidently Nahiri was the one who created the prison for the Eldrazi at the behest of Ugin, the Spirit Dragon.  Fans have long said that the person featured on the card Stoneforge Mystic was the Lithomancer, though she was never named or had details officially given to her.  So now the wizards have made it official…

The art is good, but it was too much work for me to try and read that white text over that white background.  Come on. Wizards.  You know better than that!

The back is more of the same, but gives you a decklist as well.  Here is that image, extra large so you can read it!

IMG_5603

The “Forged in Stone” deck features a mainly white strategy, with an emphasis on artifacts.  Nahiri, the Lithomancer, is the main commander, a planeswalker that has a very dangerous ultimate ability…you get a sword called “Stoneforged Blade” that adds +5/+5 and double strike to a creature.  OUCH!!!

Her other two abilities are also very relevant, because as a mainly white strategy, the deck can get a lot of token creatures out easily.  And equipment cards can be attached to them for free.  That’s crazy!  Her -2 ability makes it possible to get equipment out of the graveyard in case it gets removed.

Nahiri is a great commander…Not as good as Ob Nixilis, though.  For instance, her abilities are conditional..you have to have an equipment card on the battlefield or graveyard in order for her top two abilities to be relevant.

The other possible commanders in this deck are Jazal Goldmane and Kemba,Kha Regent.  Jazal lets you pump your creatures, while Kemba is the real danger, putting new 2/2 Cat creatures out each turn for each equipment she has attached.

The other creatures do things that white creatures are supposed to do.  Sun Titan is here to get things back out of the graveyard upon entering the battlefield or attacking.  There are some clerics, angels, mentors, priest…each doing something classically white.  The angels are especially relevant…usually big fliers with abilities.  You know how I feel about angels in Magic!

In addition to the mana rocks that always seem to be included in these commander decks, you get some really good equipment.  You get Moonsliver Spear and Loxodon Warhammer…both really good in the hands of either a chump or a fighter. There is also Bonehoard, a card that can get rediculous in a multiplayer game with lots of board wipes.

The instants and sorceries are really good, with comeuppance usually being a star.  Basically you redirect damage back to either an attacker or a player.

This deck includes the double sided tokens…an idea that I hope the wizards use more in the future.  The packaging was cool, with tasteful white and black styling, but the box is the same box that all the other commander decks came with. It can’t hold the deck when sleeved.

When pitted against Ob Nixilis, Nahiri’s deck has problems with board wipes.   Because there is really only a token strategy for the early  game.  But usually when she can stage a turnaround, Nixilis will lose.  It’s usually an angel that causes the win.

Remember when I said some of Nahiri’s abilities were irrelevant sometimes?  They usually aren’t irrelevant.  There are enough equipment cards for her to do what she needs to do.  I haven’t played this deck in a multiplayer match yet..as I get the chance I will let you know.

The other deck I have played it against is a modified “Eternal Bargain” deck from Commander 2013.  Oloro,s life gain was significant, but Nahiri was able to pull off a win!

SpartanNerd’s rating of Magic the Gathering “Forged In Stone” Commander 2014 EDH deck is 4/5.  I am knocking the point off because I think Ob Nixilis’ deck is better.  Maybe that is bias, because I favor black over white.  But white is my secondary color, so…

The other thing might not be as relevant…it is difficult to read the text on the insert material.  Someone botched it when they decided to use white text over a white background.

Do you agree?  Let me know in the comments!

 

 

 

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SpartanNerd…The End of an Era (Convergence)

Back in 2011, I was getting interested in comics again.  I had discovered “Comixology,” and was reading Conan the Barbarian and other titles lightly.  This was new to me…I had never read this stuff before.  But I thought it a good alternative to Marvel, who’s take on Spider-Man had pushed me away, and from DC whose universe seemed so large and old that I was intimidated by it.

When the news that DC was going to relaunch it’s whole lineup and re-number to #1s came down, I thought, “now is the time.” I began getting the digital copies, and enjoyed it really too much, probably.  So I subscribed to the physical copies of the titles I liked best, Detective Comics, Batman and Robin, Batman, Justice League, Action Comics, and Aquaman.

Eventually I pared this down to only the Batman titles, and Masters of the Universe, of course.  And Batman has been a part of my life for several years.  I didn’t mind that his universe wasn’t completely re-booted.  I figured they would have alienated a ton of fans if they did.  I had little trouble getting into his universe…most of his enemies and allies did receive new treatment.  The only thing that jarred me at first was Damien, and I think he grew to be my favorite Robin, though.  I really felt wronged though, when they killed him off in the only title I wasn’t reading, “Batman Inc.”  And I wrote about that here on SpartanNerd.com extensively.  (I also think they gave haven’t written Tim Drake correctly.)

Still, this wasn’t enough to make me stop reading.  And I have enjoyed “Forever Evil” “Gothtopia”and all of the other “events” that involved Batman.  Also, Batman snd Superman has been a really good title, tying back to the beginning of the New 52 with connections to the Justice League story.  I wouldn’t know as much about Wonder Woman, Supergirl (Power Girl) or Huntress.

Finally, I thought the resurrection of Damien was really good.  And am happy, even ecstatic that he is back, and that he has super powers now as a new twist.

But DC Comics is voicing dissatisfaction with the New 52 universe.  I don’t know why…I guess just re-naming it wouldn’t be enough.  I heard things like they are out of ideas.  Or there are continuity errors.  The idea thing is a croc.  But there is no denying there are continuity errors.  Batman Eternal is busting with background noise from the Robin Rises story…for instance, this past week Raj Al Ghul referring to Batman’s leaving him in a frozen ravine…and in the same issue Batman looking longingly at one of the future Batmen and saying “Damien…”  Other continuity errors have come up as a result of writers leaving and other problems.  Geoff Johns just needed to keep a tighter reign on everyone.

And maybe that is what’s going to happen.  I have been lightly reading “Multiversity.”  I actually have the first issue and the guidebook.  What “Convergence” is supposed to do is do away with the Multiverse, and leave only the continuity established by the DC New 52.  They will use this event to correct some inconsistencies.

I am OK with this, but I feel a little bit of loss.  With the end of the Multiverse, that will take those Earth 3 “Heroes” out of the picture.  And what about the “Obama Superman.”  He will be gone.  No more Earth 2.  I never even read Earth 1.  The Multiversity guidebook presents a lot of cool characters.  Are these all going to be gone?  DC never has explained how Masters of the Universe fits into the New 52 universe.  He-Man “killed” Superman for crying out loud!

I think it will be cool to see the Flashpoint universe characters again.  I think it might be cool to see the old universe characters again.  The Convergence is supposed to bring these popular ideas back.  (I read the Flashpoint Batman stories after getting into the New 52…creepy!)

But I think I might just step off after the Convergence.  Maybe cherry pick the stories that interest me rather than subscribe.  Already I am forking over to get to the end of Batman Eternal and Future’s End.  I have a ton of comics now.  And I will have a complete collection of New 52 Batman books.  I hear that Marvel is doing something similar, and if they give us a clean starting point with Spider-Man, I will be back to reading that again.

SpartanNerd…For the Love of Liliana! (help!)

IMG_5423

I have put together a home-brew black discard deck built around Liliana Vess…and I have been playing it…competitively I might add, at the Tangled Web* for the past three weeks.

It has done reasonably well…averaging a win half of the time and splitting that other half with losses and draws.  The problem is, I want to make it a star.  I’m just not sure how?  Here is my decklist.

Lands

  • 22 Swamps

Creatures

  • 4 Black Cat
  • 3 Master of the Feast
  • 1 Erebos, God of the Dead
  • 2 Gray Merchant
  • 1 Abhorrent Overlord

Spells

  • 4 Thoughtsieze
  • 4 Despise
  • 3 Hero’s Downfall
  • 2 Sign in Blood
  • 4 Dark Deal
  • 2 Murderous Cut

Enchantments

  • 1 Whip of Erebos
  • 4 Waste Not

Planeswalkers

3 Liliana Vess

Sideboard**

  • 2 Dark Betrayal
  • 1 Hero’s Downfall
  • 4 Bile Blight
  • 1 Pharika’s Cure
  • 1 Nighthowler
  • 4 Staff of the Death Magus
  • 1 Master of the Feast
  • 1 Liliana Vess

How I’ve been playing the deck…

In my opening hand, I am looking for two lands (of coarse), 1 removal spell…probably Hero’s Downfall, Black Cat, Waste Not, and either Despise or Thoughtsieze.  I generally mulligan if I don’t have some kind of disruption…for instance, Master of the Feast might be good in an opening hand against some Jeskai chump decks.  But our meta-game has shifted away from that it seems.  And the Master is generally removed before he can get two attack phases.

I ideally want to get Waste Not online, and really stick it to my opponent.  Lately there has been ZERO enchantment removal in the meta-game.  And Waste Not seems innocuous, until three Zombie Tokens are staring at you.  The deck plays great against most aggro decks, and Master of the Feast makes sure that they have a card in their hand for you to discard and get value from your Waste Not in the mid-game…(The ideal mid-game has an opponent top-decking.)

A couple of cool things that happened over the past few weeks…Liliana ultimate-ed in three matches last week!  This week I was able to produce 20 Zombie tokens on turn five!  (two copies of Waste Not, into a Dark Deal).  Someone Aetherspout-ed Master of the Feast, and said “will he go to the top or the bottom of your deck.”  I chose option C, which was Dark Betrayal, sending him to the graveyard! And the first week I played this deck, someone tried to cancel my Murderous Cut, only to have me cast another copy on top of the stack!

The problem is a new deck has emerged…a near mirror that uses Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver instead of Liliana.  This deck has two big advantages…Dig Through Time, and the planeswalker herself.  I have played against “Esper” variations that also used Elspeth, Sun’s Champion but this past week it was “Sultai” that was taking the stage, featuring Kiora, the Crashing Wave and  Pearl Lake Ancient.  These decks basically are designed to hold off any strategy with Cancel type spells, get a lot of card advantage out of Dig Through Time and scry lands, and hope to eventually drop that bomb…casting the cards exiled with Ashiok, just good old Aertherling style beatdown with the uncountable and hard to kill Pearl Lake Ancient, or ultimate-ing either Elspeth or Kiora, which is generally Good Game.

The past two weekends I have bumped into these decks, and either lost or came to a draw with them.  Lilliana isn’t good against burn decks, and generally I have to side in removal for the small creatures like Goblin Rabblemaster for game two.  I don’t mind losing to those decks…they do what they do, well. What bothers me is what I am playing is pitting black based long form Magic the Gathering against other players who want to go long, but the losing and tie-ing should be able to be overcome.  My “Early Game” and “Mid Game” are good…the “Long Game” is what is in question.

I have made minor adjustments to get the deck where it is now…I added a second Gray Merchant to play this week.  And that was a good choice.  Someone might wonder why not a full four copies, but it stops being a discard deck and wants to become a full on devotion deck.  I specifically switched Brain Maggot out with Black Cat because the Brain Maggot is just a bad Oblivion Ring.  It is really better in devotion decks.  The Black Cat is deterrent.  Unless the person has a hand that they don’t mind getting randomly wrecked and activating Waste Not triggers.

I have found that four copies of Dark Deal are just unnecessary.  This is the first thing I am changing…bumping that down to two copies.  I am also considering dumping Master of the Feast.  He is great for getting cards in the opponents hand.  But he is usually removed after (or during) the attack phase in late mid-game.  I heard a seasoned player, correctly say…”You don’t want control players to have extra cards in their hands.”  He’s right.  That is why the enemy deck is running Dig Through Time and Jace’s Ingenuity.

I am considering switching the Master of the Feast out for Sign in Blood, and using that only to target my opponents when they don’t have cards.  (I am guilty of hitting myself with Sign in Blood.)  This would mean main-decking that other copy of Liliana Vess…or would it?  Another whip or another Erebos?  Erebos is good for that corner card advantage, generally a non-threat to the opponent but I love it when he activates.  I have never ran more than two whips.  Actually, I don’t ever want two of either in my hand, ever.  And that’s why.  Also, this past week for the first time, I really wished I had a Bile Blight to tutor up with Liliana main-deck.  So that will be added.

Hub City Geeks, HELP!  Send me your advice on how I might improve this deck. I’m not sure if I’m playing this Friday night or not…I have a class on Saturday.  Next time I get to play standard, I want Liliana to be at the top!

*Be on the lookout for brand new SpartanNerd Business cards!  If you played me, then you got one!

**(That sideboard is really to protect against Burn and some of the beatdown trick decks that have emerged.  Sometimes I have to side in over ten cards, depending on my opponent.  I am siding in Staff of the Death Magus, which makes it harder for them to be effective.  Usually I am taking out one copy of Waste Not, and this past week a couple of Dark Deals.  Also I prefer not to Thoughtsieze against that fast burn or Red Deck Wins.  Also, I usually switch out Murderous Cut for Dark Betrayal if I am playing another black deck.)

SpartanNerd… Thoughts on Toyfair Reveals

Toyfair usually has a few things that catch my eye.  This year though, I think is going to get me to purchasing.

To start with, there is a new MattyCollector Subscription being offered…a “200x Masters of the Universe Classics” line.  (Not sure the official name.Oh yeah.  Club 200x.)  I think I am going to subscribe.  I skipped on the Anniversary Line, and the Filiation line, AND the minis line.  But considering the figures planned, I am game.  Revealed so far is Calix (he needs a red shirt), Ceratus, and EvilSeed.  I speculate that we will get Old Man Marzo, a Skeleton Warrior, and Stratos’ sister or similar.  There is also a head pack coming, with the 200x head for Snout Spout (AWESOME!), Buzz Off’s 200x head (ALSO AWESOME!)  I figure we might get 200x Prince Adam in the main Classics line, as this subscription specifically says that the characters will be never-before-released.

I’m so excited I went ahead and purchased the Snake Armor He-Man and 200x King Hsss two pack today…(review coming as soon as it arrives!)

(I could care less about Peek-a-Blue and Angela.  Angela could be much more awesome.  Mara is cool though, maybe the best New Adventures side character so far.)

SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review…Kahns of Tarkir Holiday Gift Box

I purchased two Theros gift boxes for the SpartanKids last year.  I didn’t bother reviewing them.  But I purchased the Kahns of Tarkir gift box for myself at Friday Night Magic on Feb 13, and thought I would share my unboxing experience with the world!

1 box front

The front of the box is pleasant, featuring the Zurgo Helmsmasher art with a red wash over the image.  Note the price…$19.99.  I actually got this for $16 something.  There was a Valentines Day special! (at the Tangled Web)

2 box back

The back shows what you get.

What is actually going on is there is a sleeve over the actual box.

3 whats in the box

Sorry.  Too big a shot to keep the kitchen table from appearing!  I was surprised…there was what looked like a seeded pack with a special foil on top!  You got four regular packs, a pack of artsy dividers, and a label sheet.  Oh yes, also a nice box with three sections.

9 dividers

Here are the dividers where you can see them.  They are really pretty!

7 not a seeded pack8 foil Sultai Charm

That “seeded pack” wasn’t a seeded pack after all…(sadness.)  It was a pack of lands, with a premium foil Sultai Charm on top.  I believe this card is exclusive to this Holiday gift set.  I think that is one copy of each of the basic lands printed for Kahns of Tarkir.

I am going to open the packs so you can see them just as I did!  I will reveal the commons, then the uncommon, and finally the rare and extras from each pack.

PACK 1!

10 pack I commons 11 pack I uncommons 12 pack I rare and extras

Nothing too notable in Pack 1!  Clever Impersonator hasn’t seen that much play, surprisingly.  I like Kin Tree Invocation.  But even in the warrior deck, it hasn’t been used much.

PACK 2!

13 pack II commons 14 pack II uncommons 15 pack II rare and extras

I noticed right away that there were less commons in this pack…meaning a special surprise in the back!  Of the commons and uncommon, I like Gurmag Swiftwing the best.

My rare was Mardu Ascendancy.  What was that special card?  A fetch land?  No.  A premium rare?  no.  A foil Singing Bess Strike.  Really a pretty good card.  But not a fetch land.

Pack 3!

16 pack III commons 17 pack III uncommons 18 pack III rare and extras

Another situation like before!  But no fetch.  This time my rare is really good, Blood-soaked Champion.  A fighter who just won’t die!  Horde Ambusher was my foil card.

Pack 4!

19 Pack IV commons 20 Pack IV uncommons 21 pack IV rare and extras

And things round out with Sultai Ascendancy.  A pretty good card for Sultai decks.

Packs are packs.  They are always a gamble.  If I had purchased these four packs, I wouldn’t have been too happy.

Finally, how good does the box hold cards.

22 box is functional

I stocked it up with more cards so you could see.  There is enough room for sleeved cards.  This box has already helped me consolidate some of the odd and end boxes in my nerd closet!

What do I rate the Kahns of Tarkir Holiday Gift Box?

This is really a terrific product.  If a person did not know what to get a MTG player, then this is a pretty good gift.  The box works good, but the packs are a gamble.  The label sheet is the only thing I haven’t mentioned.  Check this out!

5 information stickers

6 set stickers

The labels are not really my thing.  What I really like about them is the educational value for new players!  I didn’t even know about different formats when I began playing.  Here is a good way to create awareness.  Guess what?  There is even a label for “Cube!”  (Among the newest formats, players find enjoyment in making booster packs for people to draft.  Then they collect the cards and reassemble the cube.)

I wish there was a guide for what set each symbol  represents.  This is something I can’t do yet.

Then there are blank labels for you to write whatever you want when organizing your cards.

So I guess I will give it a 5/5.  The packs are a gamble, so I easily could have gotten a Sorin and a Sarkahn. (I heard of someone opening a Holiday Box and getting these two.)  But I didn’t.  Otherwise, it is a good general product for MTG players, and a good starting product for new players, giving you four copies of the basic lands.

What is your rating?  Do you agree?  Let me know.  Even better, let me know what you opened in Your holiday box!

SpartanNerd Scoop…Marvel’s Star Wars Darth Vader #1

Out sick on a Wednesday…giving me a chance to pick up a release day comic or two. I picked up Darth Vader #1 instead of that Harley Quinn kissing Batman thing…

I skipped on Star Wars issue #1. Don’t get me wrong, I have never been a fan of Star Wars comics. A huge movie fan. I read some EU novels, usually really enjoying them.  But all the comics I have read have been lacking. Of course, the news about Disney owning Lucasfilm and rebooting the EU interested me, but didn’t disgust me as it did many other fans because I haven’t been that involved. But I can say that I have been turned off by some of the product offerings so far… Especially the new toys. (The new toys are reminiscent of “green army men”, but cost a ton.)  And I haven’t been immersed in the clone wars cartoon, nor the new cartoon, but many of the represented characters haven’t appealed to me much. Probably Anakin’s apprentice most of all being what turned me off of that. (Ashoka Tano was far too “pre-teen brat” in the Clone Wars movie that kicked the whole thing off.)

But the cover of Darth Vader #1 looked cool, and the alternate cover looked cool as well, but not so much cooler that I bought it instead.

This story takes place right after the Death Star was destroyed at the end of “A New Hope.”  It is about Darth Vader’s penance to the Emperor.  Because it IS a new story today, I don’t know how much I should spoil.  But it isn’t a resolved plot or anything.

The first thing I took away was Jabba the Hutt apparently considers himself EQUAL to Vader.  I am saying “Vader just got downgraded.”  I don’t like it.  He is supposed to be THE VILLAIN.  There is an opening scrawl on the back of the front cover, and it is interesting because it takes the Sith’s viewpoint in explaining things.  I should think this would give us a Vader that is at least as strong as we saw him in the movies.  But Jabba regards Vader as his chump.  As does the Emperor.  And he just took a defeat at the hand of Luke Skywalker.

This issue dwells on the situation.

But what annoyed me the most was that the story is told OUT OF ORDER.  Apparently for no reason at all.

Out of order storytelling is becoming so CLICHE in comics.  I’m about sick of it, to be honest with everyone out there in Hub City Geek land.  Batman Eternal has been the CHIEF OFFENDER.  But all of those titles are doing it more and more.  And here Marvel’s first issue of Darth Vader tells us the present story, then two days ago, and then one day ago, and then NOW AGAIN.  Why not just start the story at two days ago?

The art in this book was really good.  The characters looked like their movie counterparts.  Vader’s mask had the old school, more asymmetrical look to it.  Jabba was a fat slob, the brief picture of the rebels looked good.  There was an annoying scene where we saw ALL of Jabba’s entourage, as we see them in “Return of the Jedi.”  And Bobba Fett was there.  I always had the impression that Bobba Fett was a well traveled man.  That he didn’t spend all of his time hanging out on Tattoine with the low-lifes.

So apparently Vader is on assignment from the Emperor, as a punishment.  And there is a new agent who we have no details about.  Everyone knows that there is jealousy from Vader.  He suspects, of course, that there is another apprentice being brought up to replace him.  And the gears for future story are set.

I am highly skeptical.  Did reading Darth Vader #1 catch my interest enough to want to purchase more books in the series?  I’m not sure.  I told the sales-lady at the Tangled Web not to hold these books for me monthly, that I would try it out first.  Maybe I will get to the end of this story arc.  But if issue #2 doesn’t wow me, it will be another Star Wars title that I ignore.

The art gets a 5.  The book gets a 2.  My average rating must be 3/5.