SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review…Guided By Nature Commander Deck

Should I call this a “Vintage Review”?  Surely not!  I went on a hunt for this deck when I heard the news that the Wizards are going to be re-printing the deck as a part of next Summer’s “Commander Anthology.”  That product is to contain four reprinted decks, and by adding Freylise’s “Guided By Nature” deck to my collection, I already own three of the four decks!  (The other decks are “Invasive Manuevers,” “Plunder the Graves,” and the money-card loaded “Heavenly Inferno” which is the only deck I don’t have.)

I picked up my copy at Toys-R-Us.  Yes.  Still on the shelf.  I paid $40.  MSRP was $35.  But this deck is selling on the internet for way more money.  And I could piece it out and get well over my $40 worth of cards back if I wanted to.

I owned two of the Commander 2014 decks already, Ob Nixilis and Nahiri the Lithomancer.  I truly hadn’t stopped to appreciate Freylise’s deck until the Wizards brought so much attention to it.  I have found it to be a thing of beauty, and certainly worthy of a re-print.

img_9404

“Guided By Nature” came in this traditional window box packaging, showcasing the Planeswalker Freylise, who can also be used as a Commander.  We are told it is a 100 card deck, and there are 15 new Magic cards in the deck.

img_9405

On the back we see some of those new cards.  We get lots of propaganda.  You can see the names of the other two decks I don’t have, “Built from Scratch” and “Peer Through Time.”  This doesn’t really inspire me to get Deretti, Scrap Savant or Tefuri, Temporal Archmage’s decks.

img_9406

Freylise’s deck didn’t open any differently than the Ob Nixills deck.  You get the big splashy oversized card, a cellophane wrapped deck, a piece of poster just for this deck, the guide to playing Magic, and a pretty good deckbox, which has a tray inside that is more useful if you take it out.  The Guide to Playing Magic is completely useless for this Commander product, and should be disregarded by new players.  That guide only tells you how to play regular Magic, not Commander.

We get even more double sided tokens.  (The same cards are featured in both images, just flipped over.)I already expressed that I feel that it is likely more challenging to make double sided cards for the Wizards.  While they have access to the factory to do so, (for the main purpose of Origins Planeswalkers and Shadows Over Innistrad block), they have gotten lots of milage printing double sided tokens.  These are great!  And very useful as you play the game.

Should I show you a picture of plain basic lands…Nope.  I’ll skip that.

img_9410

We get these special lands.  Notable is Crystal Vein ad Havenwood Battleground.  These a “Sac Lands.”  Ghost Quarter, Haunted Fengraf, and Evolving Wilds are also quite useful.

So on with the real cards…

img_9411

So what does Freylise do?  Rolling her up gets you a mana elf.  You really want THAT in this deck!  Rolling her down will get you Naturalize.  And her -6 is important because that green card draw is hard to come by!

img_9412

We get two more commanders.  I have yet to try Titania.  But Ezuri is a super “elf lord,” and I couldn’t help but give him a try!

img_9413img_9414As usual, the rares are on top.  And you get an INCREDIBLE amount of them.  From Seer’s Sundial to Thunderous Baloth, to Beastmaster Ascencion.  The rares in this deck work wonders to bring you a win.  You get lots of regular green stuff too…stuff that should be in every green Commander deck, like Silklash Spider and Emerald Medallion.

img_9415

This deck is TRIBAL ELVES.  And that becomes clear when you look at the rest of the cards.

 

img_9416

Question:  How many mana elves does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

But you need this critical mass of elves to make some of the effects in the deck work.  Think by to Ezuri, the alternate commander.  Lots of elves means Ezuri wins!  It is also great that most of these creatures are small, with low converted-mana-cost.  That makes a card like Thunderous Baloth, with its Lieutenant ability, really shine!

img_9417And finally we get to some of the usual stuff.  Sol Ring has to be in EVERY deck.  Commander’s Sphere and Swiftfoot Boots.  Also worthy must includes.  Overrun.  How many times and different ways can you give your creatures +x/+x and trample?

img_9418

Here is the full decklist from the poster.

HOW DOES GUIDED BY NATURE PLAY OUT?

Great.  For real!  I haven’t seen this deck lose.  The mono-green elf strategy is tried and true, and the Wizards have given us one of the finest mono-green decks of this sort.

Can it be improved?  Absolutely.  Add some more expensive cards.  Craterhoof Behemoth.  Crucible of Worlds.  Gaia’s Cradle.  And so on!  Allosaurus Rider.  Nylea, God of the Hunt.

I see why this deck has elevated to Anthology level.  And am proud to own it.  I score it a 5/5.  I have found that “Evasive Maneuvers” and “Plunder the Graves” are also rated 5/5.  I can only imagine that “Heavenly Inferno” would be a 5/5 as well, but I think I can affort to piece that together rather than purchasing it.  Either way, I WON’T be getting the Commander Anthology this summer.  It would take some serious enticing, like foiling it out for me to change my mind.  I mean, I already own the bulk of the product!

The SpartanNerd gives Frealise’s “Guided By Nature” deck a 5/5.  Do you agree or disagree?  Let me know in the comments!

 

 

SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review- Commander 2015 “Seize Control”

So here I am at the final deck from Commander 2015.  I have unboxed and reviewed all of them at this point.  It is April 7, and I am finished reviewing my Christmas present!  (Did yours last that long?!)  Here are links to the other four reviews.

Call the Spirits

Plunder the Graves

Swell the Host

Wade Into Battle

The “mosaic” image above shows you the unboxing.  It was exactly as the other four, as expected.  The deck box looks really cool, but is inadequate for the job of holding the deck fully sleeved.  The pieces of paper are the guide to playing Magic, which is for playing conventional Magic and not commander…so that isn’t right here.  Good for new players in intro decks.  Not good for EDH.  The other is this poster.

IMG_8233IMG_8234

The front side shows off some story and bio information.  The back side has “playing the deck” and the decklist.

I don’t care for the art on this character.

Why did I wait on this one to be last?  Blue and Red are my least favorite color pair.  What “izzet” anyways?  (Get it!)

Before I move on, I want to say that I actually unboxed this weeks ago.  I took lots of pictures…and I have new backdrops, etc.  But I have another problem.  I am running out of space on my WordPress.  I will soon have to upgrade.  So I am going to go conservative with the pictures this time, and really just show you the gist of how this deck really works.

The Commander has an ability unlike any other out there.  He lets you net experience points for casting instants and sorceries, and those experience points make it easier to cast more instant and sorcery spells.  It is a special kind of ramp deck!

IMG_8266

Mizzex gets a few cards to help her out along the way.  Goblin Electromancer is perfect for this deck.  Mizzen Mastery is a new card, letting you get back and play instants and sorceries from your graveyard.  See that overload cost.  Yeah.  That’s what we’re talking about!  Epic Experiment gets you some instants and sorceries for free.  Awaken the Sky Tyrant is deterrent.  Steam Augery always has been and always will be lots of fun.  Call the Skybreaker, with retrace, makes sure that no land is a dead draw.  And with CMV of seven, you are getting more and more experience counters when you do, making things smoother for you all around as long as you have Mizzix on the battlefield!  (This deck came with plenty of tokens. Not pictured)  Aethersnatch and Counterflux are two just all around great control spells.  Aethersnatch…just take over what they are doing!  Counter flux interrupts the stack.  KABAAAM!  And finally, Firemind’s Foresight would normally be unplayable, but it is an incredible combo in this deck, where much of the colorless mana in the cost is blanked by the experience counter ability or the spell is casted for free.  (as an effect of another spell.)

IMG_8390

But these aren’t the only tricks the deck has.

IMG_8388

These five spells all do essentially the same thing.  They let you gain control of the opponent’s stuff.  This is where Serra Avatar isn’t good enough.  Just steal it from Oloro, Ageless Ascetic or Nahiri, the Lithomancer.  Or even steal THEM from their controller!  (Blatant Thievery says gain control of target permanent!)

Opponent putting up lots of tokens?

Sweep the board!

IMG_8389

These six spells sweep the board, usually by burning everything.  Mirror Match is the exception.  So they have fifty 1/1 white Kors…when they attack, cast Mirror Match (probably for less than 6CMV) and bam.  All their work is undone by a single spell.

The other thing this deck does is create access to the cards you need one way or another.  There are “wheel of fortune” effects!

IMG_8387

You are drawing and ditching cards.  Why would you want them in the graveyard?  There are ways to get them back.  And some of them have flashback anyways.  You have to be careful with these…sometimes you want what’s in your hand, so be sure you play wisely.  Arjun, the Shifting Flame is an alternate Commander for this deck.  I haven’t even tried him out, because Mizzix is so good.  The other alternate Commander is Melek, Izzet Paragon, a reprint from Return to Ravnica block.  He just gives you access to the top card of your library.

The rest of the deck is your general stuff.  Sol Ring.  Reliquary Tower.  The new Thought Vessel.  A Confluence card (A card with three options, and you can choose options more than once.)  A hideaway land.  Etc.

I have to give a warning about one card that is repeatedly a problem…

IMG_8386You don’t want to give your opponents something.  Ever.  They will abuse the privilege, I promise!  The promise of having a 5/1 token that can attack each turn sounds tempting.  But don’t fall for it.  Proshk will sacrifice it.  Someone will fling it at you.  When it dies, they will some how punish you.  Don’t do it!  In fact.  Take this card out and put in Storm Crow right now!

SPARTANNEND’S RATING OF “SIEZE CONTROL”

Now it’s time for a story.  And if you’ve been reading SpartanNerd for awhile, when I say that concerning Magic cards, it probably ain’t good.

I played against this deck twice before ever opening a Commander 2015 deck.  This deck is popular, and Mizzix is apparently a good card for Legacy and Vintage.  I have played against this deck numerous times online, sometimes winning, more often losing.  (My online Commander deck is Liliana, Heretical Healer.)

I finally opened this product around St. Patrick’s Day this year.  (I was out of work sick.)  And I proceeded to play this as my Commander deck against the SpartanKid almost every day.

This deck lost over and over to Proshk, Sky-raider.  I would seem to have him backed in a corner…no way out of this one, and then it would suddenly turn around against me.

I began to get discouraged, so I encouraged him to play a different deck against this.  Finally he used Nahiri the Lithomancer, who never ever has beaten Mizzix.  Nahiri relies on getting creatures and equipping them.  This deck steals creatures.

My personal feeling is that this is a good deck, but it needs some work to make it better for control.  It has no Cancel.  No Mana Leak.  No lightning Bolt.  (How did they leave THOSE out?)  More basic control spells are needed. The creatures it has are generally large, with some upside like getting you card draw if they deal damage.  But this deck generally can only cast instant and sorceries cheaper.  The other thing is that the deck contains a bunch of “X” spells.  You can’t cast these without paying an “X” cost.  So Epic Experiment can fizzle.  In fact it seems it usually does.

It has been a long road to cover all of these decks.  I have enjoyed it.  I can compare this deck to Swell the Host in the amount of fun it has brought me.  Even though there was a ton of losing for awhile.  I play Magic because it is fun.  I am the ambitious sort of player, and this deck is filled with ambition and fulfillment of trying to be a control deck in the zany format of Commander.

I am going to rate it a 3/5.  I can’t forget all those losses.  But the fun I have had has made up for it.  The other mark was taken off because of the lack of staples for this color.

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

 

SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review…”Swell the Host” Commander 2015

IMG_8024

So I am at my next to final unboxing and review of the 2015 Commander set, this time reviewing the green and blue deck “Swell the Host.”

Right off the bat I would like to say that the color scheme on this packaging is an eye catcher.  The general featured also looks very menacing.

IMG_8025

The back shows off some other feature cards from the deck.

I don’t believe I have ever made a Green-Blue commander deck before.  Keep reading if you want to see how it turned out for me!

 

I unboxed this product as I have learned to do it best…open from the bottom first.

Then you get a plastic blister, and you can see the deck box and the oversized commander card.

IMG_8029

And here is all of the product.  Left to right, Ezuri, Claw of Progress oversized general card, Swell the host box top.  Commander guide to playing the deck.  MTG rules reference card.  The bottom of the deck box, with he plastic tray standing, and the deck in cellophane with the new “experience counter” token on top.

The deck boxes are truly pretty crappy.  As I have accumulated all of these, I am finding that I am annoyed by trying to put 100 sleeved cards into one of these boxes.  They are fine for unsleeved cards.  But if you want to take care of the cards, these boxes barely cut the mustard.  I try side-loading them into the boxes and angling them, and then they fit, but I don’t believe that to be the best solution.  That little tray is even more useless than the old cardboard spacer they used to contain way back in 2013 and 2014.

I generally try to be optimistic about these boxes.  They look really cool.  But I now have something like twelve commander decks in these boxes stacked up in my “nerd closet.”  And there problems are showing.

This time I thought I would take a closer look at the rules reference card before tossing it.  I was curious if it gave us rules for Commander?  Nope.  Just regular magic rules.  Making this a big idiot thing to include for new players.

IMG_8033

Notice it says “Each player starts with 20 life.”  Wrong style of rules for a Commander deck.

IMG_8032IMG_8030

The other piece of paper is the guide to playing the deck.  More of that delightful color scheme found here, and images and story for this general.

Oh yes.  Also the decklist.

IMG_8034

Let’s spend some more time looking at this general.  “Whenever a creature with power 2 or less enters the battlefield under you control, you get an experience counter.”  This means this deck is going to be filled with useful chumps.  The second rules text is “At the beginning of combat on your turn, put X +1/+1 counters on another target creature you control, where X is the number of experience counters you have.  Oh yeah…Ezuri is only a four drop, so….

I am going to go ahead and tell you…this deck makes the best use of the experience counters than any of the other decks in this series I have reviewed.  Maybe it’s me, the player.  But I think not.  I believe you are getting lots of value from the cards in this deck.  Ezuri begs to be removed, because you can easily get those counters, and at your combat step, someone is growing huge!

Onto the reveal of the cards.

IMG_8036IMG_8037

First, tokens.  These are the double sided kind…I am showing both sides to you.When these enter the battlefield, you typically will get a counter.  The red dragon jumped out at me right away.  How can that fit in this deck?  Well it does!

I am revealing the cards in order of packaging.

IMG_8038

Each one of these cards gets you an experience counter if Ezuri is on the battlefield.  Very notable is Ninja of the Deep Hours.  I never had this card before, but he has “Bushido”, a neat trick that can get you surprise card draw.  The others all have some utility.  Eternal Witness gets you a creature back.  Elvish Visionary gets you  a card.  Lorescale Coatl, gets you a card.  Coiling Oracle.  More card advantage.  Wistful Selkie…draw a card.  In fact, I am impressed overall with the amount of card advantage this deck can get you.  Stingerflinger Spider will destroy a flyer.  Trigon Predator is a big flyer.  You get options with Noble Quarry.  Right away these are really good, low cost cards.  And any one can be a target for Ezuri.

IMG_8039

This batch off the top of the stack features some of the more ubiquitous cards in Commander.  Sol Ring, Krosan Grip, Swiftfoot Boots.  Etc.  Snake form is notable…this deck almost has a snake tribal feel to it, there are so many snakes.  Also Muldrifter is here, and the new mana rock, Thought Vessel…I like to call this card “reliquary rock.”  You get the effect of Reliquary Tower and an artifact that taps for mana.  Maybe my favorite new non-legendary from this set as a whole as a general addition to the game of Commander.

It is important that I mention that a lot of things in this deck can happen on top of the stack.  (Instant Speed).  The other Commander decks that I have unboxed and reviewed in this set were really light on instant speed.  I don’t even think “Call the Spirits” had any instants in the whole deck!  This deck has flash, instants, “cast only during the declare blockers step” etc.

Now for a look at the three legendary creatures.

Ezuri, Claw of Progress gets a regular sized card, of course.  Then we have Kasuto, Orichi Archmage, and Prime Speaker Zegana .

IMG_8041

I haven’t tried Prime Speaker Zegana yet.  She was the Simic boss from Return to Ravnica.  I have already spoken alot about Ezuri….Remember how I mentioned the Snake tribal theme…now the reason becomes apparent when you try Kasuto as your general.  You can reliably make your snakes huge and unblock able.  Kasuto has brought me a couple of wins!

IMG_8042

Next, a bunch of rares.  As always, the Commander deck gives us a ton.  And they do so much.  Someone who keeps coming up for me, Cold Eyed Selkie.  This card nets you a ton of cards in this deck!  Solemn Simulacrum is fun if you can destroy him right after he enters the battlefield, netting you a land and card draw (an an experience counter!).  Arbor Colossus is great for endgame.  Command Beacon is new…you can sac it to return your general to your hand from the command zone.  (Skirting the rules of Commander.)  Arachnogenesis can save your butt unexpectedly, as well as trigger a ton of experience counters if you have Ezuri on the field.  Mystic Snake has flash, and can counter a target spell.  (That’s just sick!)  Scythe claw can really scare an opponent.

IMG_8043

Bident of Thassa is an awesome card in this deck, and Orochi Hatchery lets you get snake chumps to trigger experience counters.  High Market is a land that is a sac outlet (use with Solemn Simulacrum)  Remember that red dragon token?  In a pinch, you can play Day of Dragons, and turn your critical mass of chumps into 5/5 flying dragons!  (Play carefully…I got a game loss with this card.)

IMG_8044

Basic lands.  Boring.  Following them were the non-basics.

IMG_8045

The only one of these that I really hate is Simic Guildgate.  Why not give us a scry land instead?  I never had Zoetic Cavern before, but it is a land with morph.  Since there is no other morph in this deck….(not sure it belongs here?)

 

PLAYING THE DECK

This is the funnest Commander deck I have played since Oloro, Ageless Ascetic or Derevi, Empyrial Tactician.  Those two decks were fun because their Commanders were so effective.  This deck is fun because not only is Ezuri, really good, but also Kasuto.  (He COULD be a tiny leader as well, if anyone cares.)

I believe it to be so fun because of the reactivity of the deck, and the consistently scary thing of always having a fatty on the board.  Because there really isn’t a way to remove experience counters, if you can get Ezuri on the board and protect him, you are never a player that can be ignored.  And because there is so much card draw here, you rarely gave mana screw.  Some of the other decks have Thought Vessel or Reliquary Tower, but I have scripted my head about why, they seem to rarely have enough relevant card draw.  Not a problem with this deck.

I have played this deck only against actual opponents, no solitaire this time.  It has a record of 4 to 2.  It lost to Prossk, Skyraider of Kerr, which is just a tricky deck to play with surprise win conditions.  And it lost to Forged in Stone, after a long and grindy match.  But it also beat that deck once.  The deck also beat Call the Spirits soundly, Plunder the Graves, and Wade into Battle from the same set soundly.  I believe it is because the plan of keeping chumps on the board and having them beefed up at instant speed or whatever is just a better strategy!

SPARTANNERD RATING

Besides my complaints about the deck box, this deck is really good.  It is quite fun!  I played Ob Nixilis for a long time, but eventually got bored with the mono black demons theme, which lost about seventy percent of the time.  This deck is almost the exact opposite of that deck.  And I never ventured to make a blue green commander deck before of my own, playing this one vanilla has been all new for me.

So I rate this deck 5/5!  It does the “Fun” thing better than any of the other Commander 2015 decks I have opened so far!

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!

 

 

 

 

 

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!