SpartanNerd and SpartanTeen Review…Master Grade Zaku II MS-06S (Char’s Zaku II-S)

Another Gundam Review and Rating by the New Types, SpartanNerd and SpartanTeen!

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Here’s the box.  As much Japanese as possible!  This was ordered from Amazon, for $30-$40.  (Memory is sketchy)

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Here is the Gundam, fully assembled.

The SpartanNerd would like to go ahead and say, “I am very impressed with the solidness of the figure.  It also has impressive articulation!  This Gundam approaches my gold standard for action figures, Marvel Select Deadpool!”

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Articulation?  The fingers are each independent, and have three joints!  When you turn the head, this eye moves with the head in an awesome robotic way.  He has basically all of the articulation of a human!  You can make virtually any pose with him.

For example, it was the SpartanTeen’s desire to give him this classic bazooka pose…

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He does have a little trouble balancing.  But no problem making this pose.  And he is holding the pilot..”Char Aznable.”

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He came with this classic piece of equipment for the pilot as well…an elevator stand for the pilot.  Just so you know, there is another copy of the pilot in the cockpit.

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He also comes with another gun, and this axe.  Note that the flight stand was meant for a different gundam, but Zaku II S fits fine on it.  The shield is removable, but he generally keeps it on!  It has a hinge so that it is articulated as well.

The SpartanTeen would like to say a few things…

“It wasn’t hard to build.  I am getting more used to building them, so that contributes.”

“He is a little bit “back heavy.”  This contributes to some balance problems.  For instance, he can’t stand on one foot like most other Master Grades I have built.”

“The Heathawk (axe) didn’t come painted in the correct color.”

SpartanNerd and SpartanTeen Rating…(We use this checklist)

Each item gets a score…
1 Too wrong
2 not right enough
3 could be better
4 pretty good, but…
5 perfect
There are five areas that we will score for our models… Construction, Articulation, Accessories, Playability, and Figure-Specific features. Each area has five criteria.
Construction
Was it difficult considering the level it is supposed to be?   5
Stupid problems?   5
Instructions easy to read?    5  (japanese  Benefit of the doubt!)
Diagrams clear?    5
Stickers? Paint?    4   (water slide decals didn’t transfer completely.  Wanted to tear.  Good for battle damage!)
Articulation
stands easily?   5
moves without falling apart      5
posable/interchangeable hands      5
lots of articulation points     5
Dynamic poses     5
Accessories
Weapons      5
holds weapons/appropriate weapons      5
Stand      1
expansions         1
Weapon storage        3
playability
durable     5
photogenic      5
holds weapons?       4
Reasonalbe Facimile to media representation     5
Aesthetics
Figure-specific features       5
morph/ transform/ change form      1
action feature        5
LED lights        1
Diarama
Pilot included? Does he fit in the cockpit or is he in scale or not.      5    (Elevator stand!)

SpartanNerd and SpartanTeen Final Score for Gundam Zaku II-S is 5.2!

Let us know what you think in the comments!

SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review…Magic the Gathering Modern Event Deck

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Nobody panic!  The SpartanNerd purchased something he originally said he had no interest in!

But there is a story…

First of all, I didn’t pay $79.99.

I am going to take a moment to talk about how wonderful the folks at the Tangled Web Comics and Games are in Spartanburg, SC.  I came to their store yesterday with two cards to trade, Inkmoth Nexus from the French Event Deck I recently purchased and reviewed.  I won’t divulge the details of our trade.  But these decent folks made sure I had a good deal.  This was the last copy of the event deck they had, and I needed five of the cards in the deck.  As well as I didn’t have the sword or the Elspeth.

The Tangled Web is just good, small business.  They are forever nice.  And reward their loyal customers.  Daniel, Anna, Danny, and Josh, this is a shout out to you.  Thanks for being so nice!  I have visited a ton of different similar shops and gaming places, but The Tangled Web stands a head taller than everyone else.

I have done tons of reviews of event decks since I began the SpartanNerd blog.  And I purchased all of them from the Tangled Web except for the French Event Deck.  Links to some of my reviews are below.

M14 Event Deck

Theros Event Deck

Born of the Gods Event Deck

Journey Into Nyx Event Deck

Dark Ascension Event Deck (French)

So, back to the review!

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This event deck starts off like any other.  With some inspiring information of the back.  This time what is different is the cover sleeve feels like an essential part of the packaging.

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Removing the sleeve reveals this SICK box.  It has foil detailing.  I thought it might be a bait and switch kind of situation, like you might encounter in some Magic products, where there is some kind of cardboard spacer or something.  Nope.  This box is a solid two piece construction.  I think I will get a lot of use out of this box!

The top slides right off, and this is what your see.

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Notable…this deck comes with sleeves!   The life counter features the Modern Event Deck Set Symbol on the #20.

This time you only have one piece of paper.  Finally, reason prevails!  No general guide to playing Magic.  A person doesn’t just walk into a Modern tournament without a deck, never having played Magic before, and drop $50+ on a product they don’t even know how to play!

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Here is the ever-important decklist.

I am going to go through the cards, with comments.  I have been hesitant to purchase this product because I had so many of the cards anyway.

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I had these cards already.  The Tidehollow Sculler is similar to the Brain Maggot.  He has stronger power and toughness, but at white and black in the cost, he is harder to cast.  I recently encountered Soul Warden when playing against a deck called “Soul Sisters.”  Basically, mostly female characters that amount to little advantages, as well as some “hate bears.”

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Path To Exile…One of my main reasons to purchase this.  I recently won a copy.  I need them for my Esper Control Deck.  (I will cover that deck later.)

Inquisition of Kozilek.  Another big reason for me to purchase this deck.  Basically a Thoughtsieze effect, with a restriction that the discarded card has CMC of three or less.  Think how much better than Gitaxian Probe this is.  Of course, that is a cantrip, but still, if you put this in your Rack deck, or Waste Not deck, then you didn’t have to pay the two life for Thoughtsieze as often for the same effect.  And then you might know if it is worth Thoutsiezing.

Shrine to the Loyal Legions…the first true White Weenie card in this deck.  The Soul Warden and the Tidehollow Sculler are the only real creatures in this deck.  Everything else is spells that generate tokens.

Lingering Souls…a wildly fun card.  I already had four copies, and made that the base for my Esper deck.

Honor of the Pure…an anthem effect.  You could put the Spear of Heliod here for an even better effect, and with he added bonus of removal.

Intangible Virtue…this card was insane during the Innistrad block!  One of the best cards I remember from when I started playing Magic.

Raise the Alarm…another chump token generator.  Again, a card I didn’t really need.

Zealous Persecution…a great way to suddenly boost your white weenie army’s power, while at the same time weakening your opponents creatures.

Spectral Procession…I only had one copy of this card before.  It is just right for this deck, which is really a white-based deck.

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I didn’t have either of these cards.  I like how this Elspeth has a lower mana cost than the more recent one.  But she isn’t as good either.  She’s still pretty good.  She can suddenly pump one of your guys and give him flying.

The sword is broken.  It always has been!  I didn’t own this card either.  The Sword and the Elspeth are a good portion of the value in this deck.  Both cards are around $15 dollars apiece.

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The lands…I already had four copies of Caves of Koilos.  This is being reprinted yet again in Origins, so I don’t see that much value.  I only had two copies of City of Brass, neither of which had as good of art as featured here.  So that’s good!  (I like City of Brass better than Mana Confluence.  Mostly for flavor reasons.)  I only had one Isolated Chapel, a buddy land.  I had Vault of the Archangel,  but I didn’t have Windbrisk Heights.  That land is a great source of on-the-battlefield card advantage in this deck.  Then there are five plains, all of the same art, and three swamps.  Same art.

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This deck, like all of the event decks I have reviewed, comes with a sideboard.  The question is, what metagame is it addressing?  Here are some ideas.

Dismember can take out indestructible things.

Kataki, War’s Wage is meant to slow down Tron and Affinity decks.  Burrenton Forge Tender is meant to cost a burn player two cards.  (if you play both copies.)

Relic of Progenitus will shut down Lingering Souls and Unburial Rites.  It is also good against a mirror match, (concievable!)

And then Durress, a general thoughtsieze effect, but it can’t get creatures.  Good against Planeswalkers, burn spells, etc.

For the first time ever, I get to review how a deck plays before ever playing it!  I guess I’m a little late to the unboxing party!  I have faced this deck a few times in tournaments, with occasional slight modifications.

The way this deck works is, “overrun your opponent.”  Get lots of chump tokens on the field.  Use the Lingering Souls to block flyers.  Reach critical mass, get the sword on a flyer, and GG.  The Soul Warden works against burn.  The Intangible Virtue doubles the effectiveness of your creatures.  And then the anthem effects are very strong.

The Elspeth is dangerous.  Many times I have seen players substitute the newer Elspeth, Sun’s Champion.  And it’s possible to slide in a large creature, usually an angel.

I have beaten this deck a few times…probably more than I have lost to it.  It is weak against a turn one Thoughtsieze.  It has no response to Blue…it hopes to move faster than blue.  But you can easily remand these spells, and then prepare for them.  The creatures don’t have haste…so you get a second to remove them.  It becomes a race against green.  Sometimes it can beat green with a larger number of creatures.  And green doesn’t have too many flyers…

SpartanNerd Rating of the Magic the Gathering Modern Event Deck…

My colors are white and black.  This deck is mostly a “White Weenie” strategy, but it is a pretty strong take on it.  I don’t have many gripes about it in that respect.

The box is excellent.  It came with sleeves and an exclusive spin down counter.

If I have any complaint, it is that there are no foil cards in this deck.  I love me some foil.  But this really isn’t enough to take a point off.

So I am going to give it a 5/5.  It is the best event deck I have seen, except maybe the French thing.

Do you agree or disagree, oh Hub City Geeks?  Let me know in the comments!  And go by and visit the Tangled Web sometime!

SpartanNerd…Dual Deck Anthology Vacation matchups.

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The only Magic cards I took with me on my recent vacation was pre-constructed decks.  I took the entire Duel Deck Anthology box, and stuffed it with loads of Commander, other duel decks, and the solitaire decks.  The box was great for transporting my cards!  (I removed the tray for the first time, and discovered a Serial Number!

I held two memorable Duel Deck matches with the SpartanKid, before our interest shifted to testing the French Dark Ascension deck I purchased.

Following is a record of what happened during those two matches!

Elves Vs. Liliana

The match was generally unfair at first.  I was piloting Liliana, of course, and knew what I was up against.  I kept a hand full of removal!  I knew it would be important to keep as many elves from sticking to the board as possible.  At around turn six, the SpartanKid wasn’t having any fun.  He began saying,”This isn’t fair!”  Deathgreeter ensured that I kept gaining life as creatures died.  Lucky for him, I was out of removal.  But I had Enslave ready because I knew eventually the SpartanKid would try for Allosaurus Rider, one of the Elf deck’s most insane cards, controlled by one of Liliana’s most broken cards!

True to form, he played that Allosaurus Rider, and then I hit it with Enslave.  .

It was Lys Alana, Huntmaster that landed next, and I had no response.  The game became very grindy, eventually getting lots of traction for the elf deck.  That Allosaurus Rider went down to the Voice of the Woods token.

Down but not out, I cast Rise from the Grave, getting the Allosaurus Rider back, and even better than ever late in the game, with ten lands on the field!

But all of this effort was not removal.  Imperious Perfect and Ambush Commander hit the battlefield, and the game was pretty much over.  In fact, Liliana Vess was the final thing I cast.  Too little, too late.  It was GG.  Elves took the victory!  I was two turns away from Mutilate, which would have totally shifted the game back in Liliana’s favor.

Later, we would play Divine vs. Liliana.

It all seemed grim.  The Angels were truly beating down Liliana’s deck.  (Recently, when I read the fiction put on the Mothership Site, Liliana would remark that Angels were “goody two-shoes.”)

Then I drew Liliana, and used her to tutor up Mutilate in the face of Twilight Shepherd and Akroma.  But Twilight Shepherd has that pesky persist ability, and also brings things back to the battlefield from the graveyard that died on the same turn.

And that was pretty much it.  The Divine Deck truly is a casual masterpiece of destruction!  Really, almost none of the decks can stand against them except for Jace and Chandra…Jace who controls and cancels and bounces angels, and chandra who burns everything except Akroma, (but it doesn’t matter, because it takes so long to cast Akroma.  However, the life gain of the Divine deck can be frustrating against burn.)

(I posted a review of matches between Liliana and the Angels once before, and had different things to say…)

The Duel Deck Anthology has proven to be one of the greatest gifts for a Magic player.  It was reasonably priced.  Resaonably rare.  Reasonably cool.  And nicely archival.  I hope the Wizards release more of these Anthologys in the future.  I am a dedicated purchaser at this point!

SpartanNerd Vintage Unboxing and Review…”Obscure Ascension” Magic the Gathering Event Deck (Dark Ascension, French)

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The SpartanNerd has been on vacation!  In case any readers haven’t figured that out!  I have been shopping at places not local to Spartanburg.  I was looking for things I have never seen, or can’t get here.  No luck in some cases.  For instance, I would like a Star Wars Black Darth Maul.

At White Widow Games in Myrtle Beach, SC, I came across this gem.  It is the Dark Ascension Event Deck, only entirely in FRENCH!  A truly unique find.  And only $20!  Maybe the only one in South Carolina.  SEALED!  I have reviewed many Magic the Gathering Event Decks… Keep on reading to see how this one measures up!  This is the oldest event deck I have ever reviewed.

“Obscure Ascension” means “Dark Ascension.”  I have limited, and generally negative, experience with the French language. Just some singing in college that kicked my butt!  Interesting that the word “Obscure” equals “Dark.”  But that kind of makes sense, right?  The French would probably only use “dark” for absence of light, rather than meaning “mysteriously evil.”  One thing I picked up from the study of foreign language, is that English is just about the only language to have tons of different meanings for the same word.

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The back has all of this French wording.  I have no idea what it says.  Probably similar to what is on the back of the other event decks I have reviewed.  “The right deck for now.  Jump right in…this deck is competitive.”  They generally aren’t, however.  This deck is actually titled “Flammes Espiegel.”  “Flames of Joy,” or “Flames of Glee.”  Something like that.

So it is a burn deck.

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You get the exact same crummy box that the other event decks come in.  As much as I am down on them, I use them!  Here you can see what it looks like on the inside when you first open it.

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Here are the contents.  A deck with a sideboard, two pieces of paper…one a guide to playing Magic, and the other a guide to playing this deck.  Both in French, so I can’t read them.  Then there is the handy divider and the life counter, which has the Dark Ascension expansion symbol on the number 20.

I just threw away the guide to playing.  It probably says “You are a planeswalker!” in French.  I don’t have to be told that anymore!

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This deck is a mono-red deck.  A little odd..most of the Event decks I have reviewed are two color decks.  There are 21 mountains in this deck, each with the word “Montagne” across the top, and the text “Terrain de base: montagne”.  The lands are the same lands from the Innistraad block.

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You get five utility lands, including…WHAT’s THAT?!!!  “Nexus des enormities”…Where have I seen this…?  KABAAM!

“Ink moth Nexus.”  TWO COPIES!  Basically one of the greatest “man-lands” ever printed.  You can pay one colorless to transform it into a 1/1 flyer with infect.

These two cards make the deck TRIPLE THE VALUE of what I paid for it!  So, the SpartanNerd is a happy boy!

The other three lands are “Haunted Fengraf.”  You can pay three, sac the land, and return a creature to your hand.

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The creatures in this deck…I will just tell you who they are and what they do.

Forge Devil, top left.  When he enters the battlefield, you take a damage, as well as target creature.

Goblin Arsonist, top middle, When he dies, target player loses one life.

Top right, Flameslinger Goblin. tap him to send one damage to target player.

Goblin Gaveleer, bottom left, he gets an extra +2/+0 for each equipment attached to him.  He also has trample.

Torch Fiend, bottom middle, pay a red mana, sacrifice him, and destroy target artifact.

Hellrider, bottom right. the largest creature and about the highest mana cost in the deck.  He sends one damage to target player for each attacking creature.  He also has haste!  Not currently a valuable card.  However, back close to the time Innistraad block was about to rotate out, he was fairly valuable.  About a twelve dollar card.

So studying the creatures reveals to us that this deck is not only a burn deck, but almost a a Goblin Tribal deck as well.  And the creatures here exist for the sole purpose of smash, destroy, and damage.

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The other main-deck spells are…

Infiltration Lens, top left, whenever equipped creature becomes blocked by a creature, draw two cards.  An artifact equipment.

Faithless Looting, top middle, draw two cards, then discard two cards.  This one’s french name almost threw me…”Pillage sans foi.”  My thought was “Pillar of Flame.”  But that didn’t seem right…as the art didn’t seem to indicate it.  So I looked it up.  This is the card that really helped me figure out how to translate the others!

Goblin Grenade. Top right.  A sorcery, and one of your main game plans.  Sac a goblin, send five damage to your opponent.  The beautiful thing to do is attack first with Goblin Arsonist, who they generally avoid blocking, then in second main phase sacrifice him to Goblin Grenade.  BAM.  Seven damage.

Curse of the Stalked Prey.  Bottom left.  Aura Curse.  You enchant your opponent, and then any creatures that hit them get a +1/+1 counter.

Brimstone Volley, bottom center.  Your other “main plan.”  An instant with a “morbid” trigger.  Three damage to target creature or player.  But if something had already died this turn, then the spell does five damage instead!

Artillerize, bottom right  Sacrifice an artifact or creature as an additional cost, and then Artilleries deals five damage to target creature or player!

Playing the Deck

Playing this deck means using the goblins, and maximizing value with them by sacrificing them in many cases.

I like how solidly focused on that goal the deck is!  You have four copies of most creatures!  And four copies of other things you need, like Artillerize and Brimstone Volley!

This deck could be a little stronger if it used “Lightning Bolt.”  But I’m thinking that wasn’t allowed in Standard at the time.  Maybe a way to appease burn players who had recently lost their Lightning Bolts.

In its day, it probably was a great Standard deck!

There is a sideboard…

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Gut Shot, top left, a card with pharexian mana as the cost.  At instant speed, you get one damage to target creature or player.

Torpor orb, top center, this prevents “enters the battlefield” triggers from happening.  Important!

Act of Treason, top right, gain control of the opponents creature, untap it, and give it haste.  Then use it as your attacker for this turn!  Or even sacrifice it!

Arc Trail, bottom left, deals two damage to target creature or player, and one damage to another target creature or player.  Another card with four copies!

Dismember, bottom middle, the only black card in this deck, uses pherexian mana, and is handy to get an indestructible creature.  (Target creature gets -5/-5 until the end of turn.)  This card is currently a popular choice; it was re-printed in Modern Masters 2015!

Into the Core, exile two target artifacts.

Thinking back to what I know, this sideboard addresses affinity decks, cards with indisctructible, and land destruction., giving you something to do using Pharexian mana.  At the time of Innistrad/Scars of Mirrodin, this would have been really sound.  Scars was really before my time of playing Magic.  But I am somewhat aware of “Caw Blade.”

SpartanNerd Thoughts on “Dark Ascension Event Deck.”

I don’t play burn.  And I don’t play infect.  (Infect isn’t the main plan of this deck.  The Inkmoth Nexus is here so you can be assured to have a creature to sac..)

The SpartanTeen used to play burn, and Goblins when he used to play MTG.  If he ever comes back, he can use this deck!

I’ll admit, though, it is a fun deck to play.  I was tempted to take it to the Modern Tournament, just for its fun, and to test it some more for this review.  But I really wanted to win Path to Exile, (and I did!  With Esper Reanimator Control.)

This deck stands up against most of the pre-constructed decks I own.

It has beaten Elves (From the Duel Deck Anthology) as well as the Angel deck.  It has beaten the Monsters deck from Heroes vs. Monsters.  Not that it hasn’t lost some to these decks as well.  But it is competitive against them.  Oh yes.  It beat Chandra from Jace vs. Chandra as well!  That’s burn vs. burn!

Changing the deck

How could we update or change it for Modern?  First of all, I believe switching the strategy from Artillerize to Lightning bolt will be important.  Then maybe switching out Infiltration lens to faithless looting for card draw.  Then updating the creature bombs some.I would avoid any Planeswalkers.  I can’t think of any that would help with the goal of send as much damage as possible.  Maybe add some scry via Magma Jet or something.

SpartanNerd’s rating of “Obscure Ascension” Magic the Gathering Event Deck (Dark Ascension, French)

I can’t take off any points. For any reason.  And the fact that it is worth three times what I paid for it, and in French, makes this a SOLID 5/5!  It is by far the best event deck I have ever purchased, with four copies of each important card.  None of the other event decks I have purchased or reviewed even approach this deck.  Most of them have three copies or two copies of two cards.  Most of them feel like souped up starter decks.  This one, definitely competitive.

The SpartanNerd rates the French printing of the Dark Ascension Event Deck a 5/5.  Do you agree or disagree?  Let me know in the comments!