Wade into Battle

Today I present to the world the SpartanNerd’s third review of a Commander deck from the 2015 set.  This deck is titled “Wade Into Battle,” and features a red-white color scheme and a nifty new general named Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas.”  Read on for a complete review!

“Wade Into Battle” comes in the same kind of box as all of the other Commander decks from the past few years, featuring a large window showcasing the main card in the deck, oversized and in foil.  The package has a nice red-yellow look too it, like fire, or glowing metal, or lava.

Flipping the box over reveals some of the cards from the deck, and an inspiring message.  (All of the propaganda doesn’t really mean anything to me.  My big question is “how fun is the deck?”)

I am going to go ahead and apologize.  I had some technical difficulties with the pictures.  I’m not sure how, but I took some pictures, and only some of the image ever made it through.  Nothing too important, as this didn’t happen to the main part of the deck.  But the unboxing pictures fell victim of this.  Sorry!  But I assure you, that the deck was packaged exactly like the other two decks I have reviewed.

IMG_7909

IMG_7908

You get a nice deck box, with a plastic tray (trash) and a guide to playing Magic (also trash.)  You get a poster with a decklist and instructions, which I always keep.  And the cards wrapped in cellophane.

Who is this general?

A double striking, vigilant giant 3/3 soldier!

This chick is ooooozing with flavor.  Apparently in the early sets of Magic, there was a card called “Hill Giant.”  And he was a 3/3 red creature.  Kalemne captures that.  She also captures the flavor of the Theros block, Iroas being the god of war in Theros, who also had a red-white color scheme.  Double-Strike was prominently featured on cards during the Theros block as well.

It is the bottom ability that is all-new.  With this set of Commander, we get a new thing called Experience Counters, counters for the player that are permanent.  Poison Counters were the only kind of counters before this set.  But Experience Counters are a positive thing, and Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas gets +1/+1 for each experience counter you have.  And how do you get these?  By casting creatures with a converted mana cost of five or greater.  (It goes without saying, Kalemne must be on the battlefield for you to get the Experience counters.)

IMG_7912

IMG_7918

Sorry for the blurry pics.  But we get two other possible commanders.  Anya, Merciless Angel, and Gisela, Knight of Goldblade.

These other two generals want you to build around their abilities and the fact that they are ANGELS!  Gisela is a reputable Commander.  Anya is looking for other players to have a pretty low life-total.

 

Here are the cards.  I am going to drop some commentary below each picture.

IMG_7919

First of all, the RARES.  These pre-constructed Commander decks always contain an incredible amount of rares!  And notice the converted mana costs…most of them are five-or-greater!

Almost all of the creatures in this deck are GIANTS.  I would say this was a tribal deck.

We get two Titans.  You can’t sniff at any of the cards in that cycle!  Blade of Selves is a money card in this deck, giving the person it is equipped to “Myriad.”  This new mechanic causes all of your opponents to be attacked by a copy of the same creature it is equipped to.  Unfortunately, Myriad is a dead ability if you are playing two player Commander.

Hostility is an incredibly fun card that can get you tokens…but you have to be able to cast spells that cause damage.  Still, he is a 6/6 with a six CMC.

We get a giant legendary Leonin (to further add to the Theros flavor and offer a new white commander)  and Hamletback Goliath.  (This guy…they sell a promo version of him on three-pack sets at Wal-Mart…the packs are from Return to Ravnica block.)

Angel of Serenity…an Angel with an O-RIng ability for three creatures.

And tons more giants including Fumiko, the Lowblood…a legendary red creature with Bushido, and is a possible red general for another deck.

IMG_7923

Here are the lands.  (This is one of those pictures with the bug, luckily it was still usable.)

Teramorphic Expanse and Evolving Wilds are begging to be replaced by better fetches.  Command Tower is dedicated commander fixing.  There are a few dual lands, most entering the battlefield tapped…Boros Garrison is notable because it is a bounce land.  We get two vivid lands, that also enter the battlefield tapped, but have charge counters so you can produce the other color if you need to.  And cycle lands.

IMG_7921

We get a new rare dual land this time…Ancient Amphitheater.

(I am not showing you the basic lands.  They are…basic…)

IMG_7916

With these huge CMC cards, there better be some ramp.  And there is!  This deck has a ton of MANA ROCKS.  All of these are mana rocks except Lightning Greaves, which is equipment.

Notable here is Thought Vessel, a new mana rock that lets you have an unlimited hand size.  Also Dreamstone Hedron, which reflects the current storyline in Magic.  (The Current storyline is Battle for Zendikar/ Oath of the Gatewatch).

IMG_7920

IMG_7917

Other spells in this deck, and there aren’t that many, include Fiery Confluence, which is part of a new cycle where you can make up to three choices, and can choose something more than once.  This is a powerful card in this format!

Earthquake is a sweeper, as is Breath of Dirigaz.

There aren’t that many instants…(I noticed in one of the other decks there were ZERO instants.)  This time we get Crib Swap, which is just creepy.  Also, Orim’s Thunder, which can really hurt voltron style players.

Finally, this time I am going to show you the tokens.  They are double sided as in the other decks.  Here is the front side and back side.

$$$THE VALUE OF THE CARDS$$$

Not much here.  Blade of Selves is the money card for this deck.  I looked up the value of everything I thought might be worth something.  Nothing else really.  The titans here are under three dollars.  Rumiko the Lowblood is also.  Turns out that our “new” leonine giant is a reprint.  Gisela isn’t worth much.  And Kalemne is worth less than a dollar.

So if you are in the game for money, this deck isn’t for you!

EXPERIENCES PLAYING THIS DECK.

The first match was against “Call the Spirits.”  This deck came out the winner!  Call the Spirits created many tokens, but  Earthquake took them out, and then the giants coming in after that were just too much.

Matches two and three were solitaire against “Defeat a God” and “Face the Hydra.”  The first deck was just too much, too fast…several times in a row.  The Hydra deck was a blast..giant hydras against giant giants!  But Kalemne came out the winner.

“Forged In Stone” from Commander 2014 lost in a similar way to “Call the Spirits.”  Tis time is was Breath of Diregaz, followed by Kalemne herself and a few angel friends crunching in behind.  The thing about Breath of Diregaz, when it is kicked, it only deals four damage to each creature.  SO….the giants and angels survive through that!

And finally, a matchup against “Plunder the Graves,” this time piloted by the SpartanKid.  He discovered a combo, and made a REAL challenge for “Wade into Battle.”  The combo went like this.   Champion of Stray Souls plus Kraul Death Priest plus Terastodon= Churning through the graveyard to create card advantage.    Terastodon continually destroys things and replaces them with 3/3 green elephants.  I managed to break this combo by playing Angel of Serenity and exiling all three pieces of the combo.  It had taken awhile for the SpartanKid to get that combo going, and so he was at a low life-total.  Unfortunately so was I.  But I top-decked Fiery Confluence for the win!

SPARTANNERD’s RATING OF “WADE INTO BATTLE.”

It took me awhile to get this review out.  I haven’t had that much of a chance to play.  I also had issues with the pictures.  But it has been fun every time.  Kalemne is a great commander who makes great use of those experience counters.

The deck could have a better mana base.  And I wish the wizards would have printed the cycle of temples for us this time.  The new dual land is perfect for this deck.  And the inclusion of all those mana-rocks…that’s just dumb.  There should be a better way, or at least better mana rocks.  Why not Boros Keyrune, which can become a creature?  Why no man-lands?  If you are going to have fixers enter the battlefield tapped, they should do something.  Guildgates are useless outside of limited.

But the creatures in this deck are fun.  It is good to have no less than five legendary creatures.

And that ton of rares was also nice.

Like I mentioned, Myriad is useless against a single player.  You have to have multi-player games for that to matter.

But like I said, the deck has been fun overtime.  So I am going to rate it a cautious 4/5, because of the strange mana base.  But it is a winner, and is fun.

Do you agree or disagree…let me know in the comments, oh Hub City Geeks!

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

SpartanNerd-Thoughts on “Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens”

I have seen the movie three times now, and as it is a month since it was released, I am going to write as if spoiling it doesn’t matter….  (A fourth viewing might be imminent.)

so….SPOILERS AHEAD……

S

P

O

I

E

R

S

A

H

E

A

D

You have been warned.

WHO IS REY?

I think Rey must be Leigha’s daughter, but not Han Solo’s.  Making her Kylo Ren’s half-sister.  Either this, or she is Han’s daughter without him being aware.  (also possible and precedented.)

I draw this conclusion like this…

Han Solo doesn’t treat her like a daughter.  He waves off her capture when Finn tells him.

And I don’t think he would be too keen on Finn showing interest in his daughter either, because he saw right away that he was lying about being a resistance fighter.

Kylo Ren gives us the most clues, however.  First when it is mentioned to him that the droid escaped with FN-2187, and had help from a girl, Kylo Ren force pulls that soldier close to him and says, “What girl?”  It’s almost like he already knew the answer.  And as nervous as that soldier was in reporting, I have to wonder if he also knew it.

Kylo Ren begins to insist that they NOT destroy BB-8 in their search, but that it be brought to him.  Does he know that Rey has it?  General Hux even says something about him having “personal issues” getting in the way of the desires of the Supreme Leader (Snoke.)

Why is there this “call to the light?”  He sits in his “mediation chamber” basically praying to Vader’s helmet that he resists the call to the light.  I believe the call to the light is there because he is pursuing business on the planet Jakku where he knows his sister is.  (He feels a need to protect her.)

When Kylo Ren is interrogating Po Dameron, Po refers to his mask.  But he is unaffected.  When he interrogates Rey, however, she says something like “You are a creature in a mask.”  Then he removes his mask.  For her.  His main enemy.  Because she is his sister.

He says he “can take what he wants.”  And begins to Thoughtseize her.  But then, she reverses it on him.  And SHE says he is afraid he will “never be as powerful as Darth Vader!”

Later, while they are fighting each other on Starkiller Base, the fight is fiercely the fight of two siblings.  Maybe not in her mind, but I think so in his.  And he offers to “train her.”  Yet another step towards this conclusion.

Princess/ General Leigha Organa must have thought it best to keep her hidden.  I think there is some Sorceress/Teela action here.  She has too many greater calling responsibilities to be caring for a child.  I’m not sure about how she wound up on Jakku as a junker, though.  But I can’t help but think Kylo Ren had something to do with that.

Making Rey out to be Luke’s daughter would be too cliche.

WHO ARE THE KNIGHTS OF REN

So Rey is at Maz Tanabata’s castle, and she hears a little girl crying.  It was her own voice calling from the past through the force.  She follows the voice to a box, which she opens and finds has Anakin’s lightsaber.  (This is the same weapon that Anakin fought against Obi Wan with, and Obi Wan lifted from him after he became severely burned.  The one given to Luke, and lost when Vader chopped off his hand.)

When she touches the saber, she has a vision…it begins with a mechanical hand touching R2-D2, with Kylo Ren and who can only be the Knights of Ren in the background.

Han Solo’s story was that Luke disappeared after an apprentice turned against him and messed things up while he was training new Jedi.

What if the Knights of Ren are the other Jedi trainees?

Doesn’t it seem odd that Luke would disappear rather than fight and defeat them?

Instead, he pulls a Yoda, and finds a spiritual quest.  He searches for the first Jedi temple.  (Yoda studied the force on Dagobah after Order 66 and his failed fight against Darth Sidious.)

In star wars terms, Kylo Ren would have “killed” his fellow Jedi students when he showed them the path to the power of the dark side….

Hmmmmm…….

And the Knights of Ren must have been important.  This word is thrown around as a legacy of respect towards Kylo Ren.

MAZ TANABATA and SNOKE

We know nothing about either of these characters, really.  Maz says “you can tell a lot about people from their eyes” and goes on to tell Finn that his are the eyes of someone who wants to run.

Snoke and Maz have the same eye structure.  Are they the same species?

I don’t even think Maz is anywhere close to Yoda in being strong with the force, or we would have heard about her already, her being 1000 years old and all.  But she must have been around.

Which intensifies the mystery around Snoke.  If there were more Dark Side types around, wouldn’t Darth Sidious have had something to say about that?  At least in the old canon, Sidious was possibly around 200 years old.  They made such a big deal about their only being two Sith?  This prevented the Dark Side from being spread thin.  (Or something like that)

Snoke is definitely a mystery.  I believe Maz fills that need for there to be a little person who is strong in the force.  Luke will be the point man in the next film, and will take on Yoda’s role in training Rey.

THE NEW REPUBLIC

The first time I watched this, I thought they must have blown up Coruscant.  But I was wrong.  The Hasnian System was destroyed.  Some reading around on the internet revealed that the New Republic had a moving capital.  So, quite possibly the New Republic still stands.  But when I saw this first, I really thought, “they are declaring the old stuff dead, for real!”  Star destroyers sunk in the sand.  AT-AT walkers half-buried.  And blowing up Coruscant.  But they didn’t.  It just seemed like they did.

This part of the story is cool.  But doesn’t make much sense.  Wouldn’t the resistance have destroyed such a weapon. knowing what was up?  How old is “The First Order” anyways?  It seemed to take years and years to make a Death Star.  But here is an entire planet changed into a weapon.  True, a Death Star is a completely mechanical space station, while Starkiller Base is a hollowed out planet.  But still, wouldn’t knowledge of an entire planet being taken over by the First Order and converted into a weapon be known to the Resistance?

And what does the weapon do the first time it is fired?  It does what it is supposed to do.  (I suppose this was true of the Death Star as well.)

THEORIES ABOUT WHAT’S AHEAD

Rey and Chewbacca step into the smuggler role.  Rey becomes the next Jedi, but not without personal tragedy.  Either Luke or Leigha get killed off as a part of this.

Kylo Ren put his helmet down before killing Han Solo.  He doesn’t need it anymore.  He doesn’t need to fear not being as powerful as Darth Vader.  He is now his own Sith.  Killing Han was the sacrifice required.  Snoke tells the soldier to bring Kylo Ren to him so that he can complete his training.

I believe Kylo Ren will kill Snoke.  This is the ultimate conclusion.  We see someone who is a wannabe Vader actually become just as powerful.

 

THESE ARE MY REAL THOUGHTS ABOUT STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS.  Do you agree or disagree?  Let me know in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review…Lego Nexo Knights “Ultimate Lavaria”

IMG_7878

The SpartanNerd spent some time this past weekend at the Toys R Us in Spartanburg, SC, this weekend.  I was immediately drawn to the display right at the entrance….a new item, “Lego Nexo Knights.”  I don’t know why…I kept coming back to it.

A little research unearthed the fact that this line just launched on January 2, 2016.  (Saturday was January 9.  So the line was only a week old.)

I expect it will replace Lego Ninjago and Lego Chima.  Or maybe it will be an attempt.

There were a wide variety of different things for the new line, but I didn’t want to commit too much…or anything at all.  But since I kept coming back, I decided to make a purchase.

I purchased “Ultimate Lavaria.”  Keep reading for a review of my experience so far!

IMG_7879 (1).jpg

Lavaria came in this little box.  Above is what caught my eye, and then there is the backside, showing that there are things that can be done on tablets and phones with the figure.

IMG_7880

I’m not a Lego collector, and have talked about the price of Minifigures before.  But if there is even a CHANCE I am going to get into these, I want to have a system of keeping them organized.  So I opened the box carefully from underneath in order to preserve it as a storage space.

IMG_7885

As  expected, there was an instruction book and polybags with the bricks inside.

IMG_7887

The instructions are your general instructions.  Large simple pictures with arrows.  (I had a picture, but lost it somehow?)

There was also lots of cross-sell for this new line.

IMG_7890

And here was the parts list.

IMG_7891IMG_7894

I went ahead and arranged the bricks the exact way they are listed, because I’m insane like that…that’s why.  I found there were a few anomalies…

IMG_7895

These extra parts.  Also, there were some bucks with a long peg that weren’t listed.  I went ahead and began assembly.

IMG_7896

I don’t know why, but I decided to pause here, seven minutes into the build.  I took this picture.  I think this was right after I put the wings on.  Its a pretty ingenious idea, making a backpack out of a two-studded flat piece by adding a part that fits over the neck.  The legs here are on a thing that looks like a floating thing from a boat or something.  I have seen this design before on Ninjago things.

IMG_7897

And here is Lavaria completed.  Next, I put together the “base.”

IMG_7899

The base doesn’t really make sense.  The character is a spider, sitting on an amber thing, and there are two “wings.”  This is actually a weapons rack.  You can change the front of the shield to have the fireballs or the beetle on it.  The “wings” are a storage area for those.  Also, the right side had a shooting mechanism.  Only today, three days after assembly, has it dawned on me that that is another weapon, a crossbow!  (I would have taken a pic with Lavaria holding it if I had figured it out.)  The other side has two tiny rubber snakes either as weapons or as guardians over the beetle shield.  (who knows.)

IMG_7900

There is al alternate pair of legs, so Lavaria doesn’t have to be on four spider legs.  Also, you can turn the head around to get a different expression.

IMG_7901

I think what caught my attention with Lavaria is the similarity to Darth Maul.  The double sided spear.  The mechanical spider-legs.

It dawned on me that Lavaria is a female!  And I was pronouncing it “le-VAIR-EE-ah.”  But it must be LAVA-ria.

Remember I mentioned the electronic features of Lego Nexo Nights?  I have played through the first level, and this character has made no appearance whatsoever.  But all of the enemies have some “lava” component to them.  The main enemy is named “Jestro,” a cross between the Joker and Destro?

But that gave me a hint about the characters intended name, and also what that amber thing on the base is (it’s lava.  DUH!)

As far as the game is concerned, I have encountered a glitch already.  The game feels “unfinished.”  It is the kind of game that you just tap the screen to make the character attack the enemies.  So far, you can only be the “good guys.”  These are Clay, Lance, Macy, and Aaron, with the promise of another character coming soon.  The name of the app is Merlok 2.0, which points out the futuristic knight theme that these guys are to have. (Merlok’s voice in the game is the exact same voice as Sensei Wu from Lego Ninjago.)

How does the toy interact with he game?  Remember those different shield that came with Lavaria?  The app can scan those, and this adds special moves to your chosen Nexo Knight. (What does “Nexo” mean anyway?)  It is notable that choosing “beetle bomb” causes your Nexo Knight to suddenly have the four legs that Lavaria has, only in their color scheme.  So maybe she isn’t supposed to always have those spider legs on?

IMG_7902

The shield shown here is “incinerate.”  Basically it makes fire fall out of the sky to burn up your lava enemies?

IMG_7904

And you can see the Venom attack on this shield.

The game encourages you to “re-scan” your shields over and over to increase their power. I think this is to discourage people from “faking out” the app.  I could be wrong.  It seems it only let me scan in three within a few minutes.  (The game comes with two to get you started, so I have five special moves unlocked, basically.)

But it looks like there are dozens of moves you could unlock if you collected the whole line.

SO was this a good impulse purchase?

I’ll admit.  Whatever I thought was cool about it in the store has worn off a little.  Maybe it’s the simplistic game.  Or maybe it was that the kit wasn’t the least bit challenging.  Or maybe it is because this is the only thing I have from this set.  Not sure.

Will I get more?  Not sure!

I think Lavaria is cool looking.  She is pretty fun to play with.  She has to get a 4/5.

The app has to get a 2/5 for now.

So the SpartanNerd Rating of Lego Nexo Knights Ultimate Lavaria is 3/5.

Do you agree or disagree, Hub City Geeks?  Let me know in the comments!

 

SpartanNerd Review…Commander 2015 “Plunder the Graves”

IMG_7817

My unboxing experience of “Plunder the Graves” is similar to the last Commander deck I unboxed and reviewed, “Call the Spirits.”  I tried filming the sleeving…but failed at that miserably.  So, here is my review of the deck, post-opening.  I didn’t get far, so I reassembled the cards into the deck as they came.  But I did take pictures.  (I have lost the backside of the box pic, though.)

IMG_7845

You get this when you open the box.  I just threw away the rules reference card and the little tray.  The box is a nice box for storing cards, but it is too small to hold this deck when sleeved.  I think it’s an odd choice to use purple and black on the box.  But it looks cool!  Below are some pictures of the guide to playing this deck.

IMG_7846IMG_7847

Is this deck as good as “Call the Spirits?”  Keep reading…

IMG_7832

Here are the tokens.  They are two sided…so flipping them, you get…

IMG_7833

This deck makes heavy use of the tokens.  It is good to see all of these included.

CREATURES

IMG_7834

First, we get a lot of “utility” style creatures.  You just don’t play a graveyard deck without some of these.  Eternal Witness is an absolute staple in basically every green Commander deck.  Satyr Wayfinder and Sakura Tribe Elder are as well.  And most black commander deck’s I’ve seen include Shriekmaw and Pharexian Rager.

The only card here I haven’t ever seen, (I don’t think) is Skullwinder.  (I looked it up.  This is the first printing.)   You get a creature from your graveyard, and get to give an opponent a card back…”group hug.”

IMG_7835

These five cards are good utility.  All of them except for Acidic Slime were printed just for this set.  Banshee of the Dread Choir and Caller of the Pack have “Myriad,” an ability that creates a copy of the attacking card tapped and attacking each opponent.  (This discourages “group hug.”)  Thief of Blood is removal, he takes every counter and turns them into +1/+1.  This targets loyalty counters on Planeswalkers, charge counters, or any other counters on the battlefield.  This kills many creatures, whose power and toughness are tied to counters.

The Great Oak Guardian is a big creature with reach that can be flashed in. Printed for Commander, and only good for Commander.

IMG_7836

Not too many artifacts in this deck.  The ever present Sol Ring.  A reprint of Skullcap and Lightning Greaves.  (I love the flavor text on Lightning Greaves!)  Golgari Signet, and the new mana rock, Thought Vessel.

IMG_7837

Some more utility cards.  I am a big fan of Diabolic Servitude, and now own a copy of each printing!  Altar’s Reap is a fun card.  Go ahead and chump block away!  Then play Altar’s Reap and draw two cards.  Sick!  Purify, Grisly Salvage, and Golgari Charm are all very flavorful green/black utility cards, with Golgari Charm being a star.  Mulch is some good ramp, and Tribute to the Wild is a new card.  “Each opponent sacrifices an artifact or creature.”

LEGENDARY CREATURES

 

IMG_7838

Now for our legendary creatures.  Since I didn’t show you the unboxing, here is the oversized card for the commander that this deck was made for. Mere of the Clan Nel Toth.  She’s good!  Each time one of your creatures dies, be it a token or a “real” creature, and Meren is on the battlefield, YOU get an experience counter.  Experience counters work like Poison counters…there is no way to make you get rid of them.  In this deck, they let you return creatures either to your hand or to the graveyard.  In a “reanimator” strategy like we have in this deck, Meren is super powerful.

Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest is another new general.  Anytime someone sacrifices a permanent, all of YOUR creatures get a +1/+1 counter.  As good as Meren is, I can’t wait to try out Mazirek!  Just think…how many ways do people sacrifice their permanents…(fetch lands, sac outlets, payment requirements, triggered abilities, and on and on.)  And Commander makes combing off by sacrificing things really work.  With Mazirek on the battlefield, all of your guys can become immense quickly.

And then there’s Jarrad, Golgari Lich Lord.  I always liked him in the Ravnica block.  But he is also a value commander at two blacks and two greens, probably going to be huge.  And you can use him to really hurt your opponents, who Doom Blade your Terastodon…just sac him to Jarrad’s ability on his way to the graveyard, and drain them.  The other thing about Jarrad, he can avoid being put into the command zone.  He is easy to get back out of the graveyard if you can sacrifice a Swamp and a Forest.

RARES

It is amazing how many rare’s the Wizards include in these Commander sets!

IMG_7839

Scourge of the Nel Toth…you had me at “Zombie Dragon.”  Eldrazi Monument…lets make everything fly and have indestructible!

(This may be the “money card” of the future.)

Great to see one of the most underrated cards ever.  Lotleth Troll.  I love this guy!  You get to ditch creature cards from your hand to beef him up with +1/+1 counters and kill their attacker.  At INSTANT SPEED!  and if you have a spare black, you can regenerate him!  You have a way to discard creatures to your graveyard, create a fatty, and remove their creatures.  Incredible card!

Dread Summons…you can make yourself and you opponents mill.  And all of the creatures that made it into the the graveyard net you a zombie!

(2/2 zombie tokens.  Great blockers and bodies to sacrifice.  Which gets you experience counters….)

IMG_7840

These cards are amazing.  Bonehoard is a living weapon that cares about the number of creatures in ALL graveyards.  Eater of Hope….a big flying demon with awesome relevant abilities!  Verdant Force…you get a 1/1 sapling at each upkeep.  Terastodon….just give them a few green elephants instead of Isochron Scepters, Cavern of Souls or whatever other mess they have out!

IMG_7841

A couple of rare lands.  It is especially good to see High Market reprinted here.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen Grim Backwoods.  Both lands let you sacrifice creatures reliably.  Extractor Demon is just good.

IMG_7842

I’ve had the chance to play Victimize…it’s fun.  Spider Spawning can really scare you opponent with flyers.  Barter in Blood…one of the ways to make your opponent sacrifice their creatures.  Rise from the grave…incredible.  I haven’t had the chance to play Primal Growth yet, but I think it is a beautiful card…I can’t wait to play it!

IMG_7843

Of course we get some basic lands….

And then some utility lands.

IMG_7844

I said it before, and say it now.  Tainted Wood should be legal in Modern.  Every other land here is except Command Tower, (but it would have no use anyway…)

PLAYING THE DECK

I forgot how much I enjoy playing black/green!  I have played this strategy to some success back in the Return to Ravnica block.

My matches so far have worked best when I have chumps early game.  Loading the graveyard is a good choice in this deck.

In my first game, (Against Derevi, Empyreal Tactitian) , I was forced to ditch Lotleth Troll.  I was disappointed, to say the least.  But not too bad, because I got him back within five turns, and got to ditch Verdant Force and Terastadon.  And I took a pointer from the Graveborn deck, and put Diabolique Servitude on Terastadon, and it was GG for me when I cast Overwhelming Stampede!

I played it against the Defeat a God challenge deck.  As usual, Xenagos and his army of satyrs got me down to an almost game over life total.  But then  the deck’s ability to create tokens saved my bacon.  And 2/2 zombies are just the correct power and toughness to die when blocking, netting experience counters and letting you return basically any card you want from the graveyard to the battlefield.  The SpartanNerd might not be all that smart…all of this didn’t occur to me until it happened…..

The third and most recent match was a three-player game against Oloro, Ageless Ascetic and Nahiri, the Lithomancer.  A pretty striking contrast to Oloro…Plunder the Graves has almost NO WAY to gain life.  (And that is just about all Oloro does.)  But this deck has answers to Nahiri.  To start with, Golgari Charm just puts 1/1 chumps out of business.  And the deck has plenty of targeted removal spells for anything problematic.  Unfortunately, there are almost ZERO chump flyers in this deck.

Basically, it came down to Emeria the Sky Ruin is better at reanimating things, so Nahiri can get a Stoneforged Blade out, …  And so it took its first loss.

MONETARY VALUE?

I don’t see much here.  High Market?  nope.  TCGplayer has Meren of the Clan Nel Toth at around $10.  So all around, you get a good value if you paid  MSRP $35.

SPARTANNERD’S RATING

This deck is fun.  No question.  I love playing re-animator, and black green is a good combination for that strategy.

Could it be improved?  Oh yes.  Entomb would be insane.  Hero’s Downfall.  Raven’s crime?  Life from the Loam?  Treasured Find?  All of these could improve the deck.  And could have been reprinted…The wizards missed a chance.  Maybe they didn’t want to put all the good reanimators in one deck?  The new Liliana would also work really well here.

So I’m going to rate “Plunder the Graves” a 4/5.  It’s fun enough to get this rating.  I really like Meren!  But it could have been improved from THIS reanimators point of view.

The SpartanNerd rates Magic the Gathering Commander 2015 “Plunder the Graves” a 4/5.  Do you agree or disagree?  Let me know in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

SpartanNerd Review…Commander 2015 “Call the Spirits”

So what did the SpartanNerd get on his special day this year?  A full set of Commander cards!

Loyal, (probably bored) readers know that I have intended to do sleeving videos, and discuss the cards.  But that hasn’t worked out.  My first two attempts were with “Call the Spirits” and the graveyard deck, which means at least in the case of “Call the Spirits” that you are getting a review post sleeving, post playing.

I have played about six matches with “Call the Spirits…” is it any good?  Keep reading!

IMG_7813

Each commander deck came in a similar box as before.  There is a big window, where you can see the oversized foil commander card.  One thing I appreciate more and more about these big cards…I can easily tell who has what commander far away.  The guy at the end of the table with a non-oversized commander…I might not be able to see the card, and therefore also disregard.

The back has some cards from this particular deck.

IMG_7814

As with other Commander decks I’ve opened, it’s best to open from the bottom.

IMG_7822

You see this nice little plastic blister tray.

IMG_7823

and then this is the oversized card beside the box.

IMG_7824

Quite notable..the deck box has a plastic tray inside instead of the cardboard spacer from years past.  I just tossed mine, along with the blister.  I guess it could be a hot tub for GI Joes or something…

There is the general guide to playing Magic…(The rules reference card.)

The cards cellophane wrapped.  Notice the “Gold” token on top.

And a guide to playing this particular deck.

(I just toss the rules reference aside nowadays.  Good information for new players though, and conceivable as this is a sealed product sitting on store shelves.)

IMG_7825

The guide to playing the deck has some good information.  We get a little of “Daxos, the Returned” story, and the story on someone else called “Karlov, of the Ghost Council.”  I keep these papers for reference or fun later.

IMG_7827

The backside of the insert has the decklist.  Useful for taking inventory.  I get my sets back together every four to six months.  Maybe that’s anal-retentive.  But it helps me know what I have.  And sometimes as I read articles and things, a card will be mentioned, and I will be like…”Hey, I have that!”  Then I can use it somewhere else.  (Facilitating the need to keep inventory.)

Now my review of the cards.  Remember what I said at the beginning…this isn’t a true unboxing…rather a review of the cards.

IMG_7861IMG_7862

The tokens are double-sided.  I like that the Wizards started doing this last year.  The grown-up inside of me thinks that in order to print double-sided Planeswalkers, they had to meet a minimum quota of cards needing two sides…so this is how they accomplished that.  But it is a handy idea.  We are getting double the value!

(The question is, will Shadows Over Innistraad have transforming cards?)

IMG_7863

Here is Daxos the Returned.  I would like to take a moment and discuss the importance of the character.  Daxos was a side-character in Theros.  And many of the cards in this deck, (as well as in the Black Green deck) have flavor from the Theros block, which was a Magic set based on Greek Mythology, with a pantheon of gods that headlined as “enchantment creatures” as well as much more minor enchantment creatures.  The fact that creatures can also be enchantments is one of the tricks to this deck.

Daxos was killed over the course of the Theros story, and this is what happened to him.  He went to the “underworld”…we would say “Hades,” it was called Asphodel in Theros block, and “returned” as a zombie.

Daxos original card was pretty good, but didn’t see much standard play.  It was white and blue, and let you play extra cards if you did combat damage, or something like that worth looking up.  This card doesn’t give you any of that, but is more powerful as far as board presence.  Daxos the Returned gets experience counters whenever you cast an enchantment spell.  And Experience counters are something new.  Look at the tokens above…you get one token that is for keeping up with Experience counters.  They work similar to poison counters, but instead of making you lose the game, they do something positive.  Daxos second ability lets him make blockers.  At instant speed.  Quite important, because this deck is pretty slow otherwise.  There isn’t a single “instant” in the deck.  (There are some cards with flash.)  But the ability to get a BIG blocker for only 1WB ANYTIME,  is nothing short of handy, especially when you have a ton of experience counters.

IMG_7864

Besides Daxos we also get two alternate commanders, neither of which is to be sniffed at.  Karlov of the Ghost Council gets really big whenever you gain life.  I can’t wait to try him in Oleo, Ageless Ascetic’s deck.  (Oloro is one of my favorite commanders!)

Teysa has protection from creatures.  So in commander, she is also incredible.  But she is a little slow as a seven drop.  It is also a little sad that the creature has to do combat damage to you before you get the flying blocker.

RARE CREATURES

IMG_7866

All of these are really great in this deck.

Fate Unraveler never really saw Standard play.  But here in Commander she rocks!

Celestial Archon was an intro deck card.  That it has bestow, makes it wonderful here.  (You can cast an enchantment creature with bestow as an aura, adding its power and toughness and abilities to its target.)

Doomwake Giant saw lots of play in Standard right before the Theros block rotated out.  It has Constellation, an ability that triggers when an enchantment enters the battlefield.  In his case, he gives all other creatures -1/-1.

Mesa Enchantress.  An enchantress in Magic is typically a female character on a card that lets you draw cards when an enchantment enters the battlefield.

Treasury Thrull.  I have always considered a junk rare.  But not in this deck!  I think I’ll swap this for my foil…

Silent Sentinel, another intro deck card.  This card, like Treasury Thrull, lets you get enchantment and artifacts back from the graveyard.

Ajani’s Chosen lets you get a 2/2 cat token when you cast an enchantment spell.

Celestial Ancient…I hate the art on this card.  (I hate Treasury Thrull’s art just as much).  When you cast an enchantment, all of your creatures get a +1/+1 on each creature.

Bastion Protector is a new card, and it cites Commander creatures…the last set we got had cards with “Lieutenant”, a similar ability.

And finally, my favorite.  Nighthowler. You can bestow Nighthowler onto a creature, and give that creature +1/+1 for each creature in every graveyard. Incredible.  And if they kill the thing he is bestowed upon,  he falls in place as a creature that is a least one 1/1 bigger.  This card was really good in a devotion deck, requiring two blacks.  And with bestow it was adding even more devotion.

RARE SORCERIES

IMG_7867

There aren’t many sorceries in this deck.  And they are all fairly cost intensive.

Righteous Confluence is what is notable here.  This is a new card, part of a cycle.  You get to choose up to three of the options, and may repeat any of the options more than once.  Gild is how you use the gold token.  The gold token was rather rare during Theros block.  I think that is one of the greek stories that resonate with people, and make people feel that flavor.

The only sweeper in this deck is Deadly Tempest.  And Open the Vaults has generally been too risky to play in all of my matches so far.

SPECIAL LANDS

IMG_7868

Here are the interesting lands.  It is good to see Vivid Meadow and Vivid Marsh here.  There are only four dual lands.  We get Tainted Field.  This is a land that I think should be allowed in Modern.

RARE ENCHANTMENTS

IMG_7869

Because enchantments are so important to this deck, this part has to be solid.

And it IS.  Underworld Connections gets you card draw.

Sigil of the Empty Throne is a winner in this deck.  Dictate of Heliod…with flash in combo with Sigil makes you have surprise huge angel blockers.

Daxos Torment becomes a 5/5 flying demon each time another enchantment enters the battlefield.

And Karmic Justice evokes Karmic Guide.

Basically, you want as many of the effects to stack up in your favor as you can get.  Make an unstoppable army of angels or spirits.  And crush your opponent.

COMMONS AND UNCOMMONS

IMG_7871IMG_7872IMG_7873

The two seals, Seal of Doom and Seal of Cleansing are incredible in this deck.  And if you can bring them back over and over, this is how this deck does removal for the most part.  People who play Commander depend on artifacts.  Just get Seal of Cleansing over and over, and you can stop them. And guess what…they’ll try and exile it while it is on the battlefield.  You can just sac it in response, and target your own mana rock.

Banshee of the Dread Choir is a new card, with the “myriad” ability.  Whenever the Banshee attacks, a copy of her attacks each other opponent that isn’t the defender.  And when she hits…they discard a card.  This card discourages the “group hug” strategy.

Cage of Hands…another creepy Pacifism type of effect.

Crystal Chimes, sacrifice it and get all of your enchantments back from the graveyard to your hand.

I’m glad to see Burnished Hart here, use it to block, and then sacrifice it to get a basic land.  It’s good to see Lightning Greaves reprinted.  Underworld Coinsmith is great flavor and a good effect to help out Karlov of the Ghost Council.

Everything here feels like it belongs.  There might be ways to tweak it and make it better.  Maybe add Merciless Eviction, Erebos, God of the Dead, Heliod, God of the Sun, or Athreos, God of Passage.  But overall, a pretty good, solid deck.

$$$$VALUE$$$$

I don’t really collect Magic cards for their value.  I don’t really see that much money here, though.  Maybe not even the MSRP $35.  Black Market?  Here is one that has been rarely reprinted and could see more legacy play.  (This printing has caused the price to fall a little bit.)  Lightning Greaves is worth a couple of dollars.  A quick look at TCGplayer pretty much confirms it.  Not much monetary value here.

IS THE DECK FUN?

I have played out six matches with “Call the Spirits.”  Those that I lost, I lost to speedy strategies and mana screw.  This deck has a large percentage of four and five drops.  It doesn’t work against “Thoughtsieze” early game.  It doesn’t work against the guy who can smash you early with a giant Craterhoof Behemoth or Wurmcoil Engine.

If you can manage to get the seals on the battlefield, and use them over and over, you can win.  Casting them gets you experience counters. (As long as Daxos is on the battlefield.)  Casting them causes triggers.  And triggers are good.

I played against the Red White deck from the same set.  Sigil of the Empty Throne was what won the game.  It took less than fifteen minutes.

The deck has beaten the solitaire Minotaurs deck, but lost to Defeat a God solitaire deck twice.

And it took out Nahiri the Lithomancer’s deck by out-chumping it, using “Sigil of the Empty Throne” as well as recycling Seal of Cleansing over and over.

It is a fun deck!  It has some flashy rares.  It doesn’t give you much monetary value, though.

So what does the SpartanNerd rate Magic the Gathering Commander 2015 “Call the Spirits” deck?

I am going to give it a cautious 4/5.  I really like the Theros flavor of the deck.  I thought playing all of those enchantments might be a little boring.   Especially seeing how it had no instants.

But it has been fun to play and try out.  I don’t see myself taking many things out and changing it much…it isn’t broke, so I won’t fix it.

The SpartanNerd rates “Call the Spirits” a cautious 4/5.  Do you agree or disagree?  Let me know in the comments!