From the Vault: Transform…SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review

I’ve been playing Magic, the Gathering for some years now, but this is the first time I’ve purchased a From the Fault product.  I DID purchase the dated “Graveborn” Premium Deck, which was an all-foil set.  I was highly tempted to get From the Vault: Angels last year, but never saw it anywhere for retail price.  (I had most of the angels anyway.)

 

This being my first one, I thought I would really take a look at the packaging.  This roduct feels like something a collector might like to keep MIB.  I don’t see the fun in that, but it is what some people do.  After spending time with this package, I’ve decided I am going to keep it to store the cards that I am not currently using.  It looks very nice.  The front is glossy and colorful with blue and orange graphics.  The back show off an image of one of the sides of each of the cards in the set.  There is a contents list on the bottom, and a message about the nature of the transforming cards.

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It opens up nicely, revealing the frontside of Huntmaster of the Fells, the backside of Liliana, Heretical Healer, and the frontside of Delver of Secrets.  You totally could stop here and just prop this product up on display somewhere.

The box feels like a display box, and upon further exploration, I discovered the correct way to open it.

 

There is a magnetic flap!  So you don’t even have to destroy the package.  NICE!

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Here’s what’s inside.

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The cards come in three cigarette wrappers.  There is a spindown life counter with a special From the Vault Transform symbol, and a nice informational poster.  Let’s look at that.

 

Nice art, with a description of each card and the story that goes along with it.  That is a nice picture of the new Delver of Secrets art, and yet another picture of Gideon on the other side.  (Gideon is very often depicted in promotional media like this.)

Now let’s look at and discuss the cards.

First of all, upon opening each pack, I discovered that they were stuck together.  I mean.  STUCK. TO. GETHER.

These cards have a special foil treatment, on both sides.  I have owned a couple of FTV printings, one of VESUVA and another of AKROMA, ANGEL OF WRATH, and those cards have the same foil treatment, but only on one side.  These cards being double sided…I guess what I’m saying is the foil treatment being on both sides is what made them glue each other together.  And it was pretty stout.  I mean, Bruna, the Fading Light was stuck to Elbrus the Binding Blade and Chandra was stuck to the Ixalan card while I began photographing.  I hadn’t even noticed!  Now separating them wasn’t scary, and there didn’t seem to be any accidents…no scratches or anything.  I just want to point out that this happened to the SpartanNerd the first time he opened a sealed From the Vault.

So here are the cards with some commentary.

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Garruk Relentless//Garruk, the Veil Cursed.

The first double sided planeswalker, and notable at that…he flips when he has a loyalty for two or less.  He is a token generator, and essentially a planeswalker with five abilities not counting the transform mechanic.  Having said all this, this is the least played of all of the cards in this set.  It is nice that they paid some attention to Garruk, however.  He hasn’t been seen since M14, when he was killing other planeswalkers all over the place.  The Wizards have decided to feature Nissa mainly as the green planeswalker mascot.

Chandra, Fire of Kaledesh//Chandra, Roaring Flame

This set features all five of the Magic Origins planeswalkers.  These each have a creature card on one side, that transforms into a planeswalker.  Chandra is the mascot for red burn strategies.  This card is a slow shock effect, and frankly a little hard to get transformed into the planeswalker form.  IF you do ever get her to level up to Chandra, Roaring Flame, you still don’t have that great of a planeswalker for all of your effort.  I supposed if you made Chandra a Commander, you might be able to do something with her.  I am placing her in my Archangel Avacyn commander deck.  (I played a match that heavily featured Chandra.  In Commander, she isn’t so bad when you have a board presence and every little bit of damage you can deal counts.)

Liliana, Heretical Healer//Liliana, Defiant Necromancer

I have been slowly building an entire foil mono-black Liliana tribal deck.  I have the stamped foil of this card, and thought that would be the prettiest version.  I was wrong.  The From the Vault printing with the extra awesome foil on both sides wins.  So I guess I am going to upgrade!

As far as all of these cards go, Liliana is the most popular commander.  She saw some fringe Standard play in her day, and still sees some Modern play sometimes in rack and zombie decks.  It is pretty easy in black to get her to flip, and then Liliana Defiant Necromancer is pretty close to Liliana of the Veil, clearly the best and most useful of Modern-legal planeswalkers.

Speaking of my Liliana tribal commander deck, the rules change that came with the release of Ixalan now lets me have multiple Lilianas out at a time.  And since I have each printing….

Huntmaster of the fells//Ravager of the Fells

A card that beat me a ton when I first began playing MTG.  I began playing in tournaments during Dark Ascension.  The Huntmaster is the definitive werewolf.

I haven’t seen this card played in Modern in awhile.  Modern wants to be a three-turn win format (It remains a four turn, teetering on three turn.), and because this card is a four drop that doesn’t have haste, it’s a little slow.  But if you can get it going, then it can win games all on its own.  Remember Kalitas?  Kalitas himself is just good enough.  And the Huntmaster of the Fells is also.

Arguel’s Blood Fast//Temple of Alcazotz

When I saw this, I said, “What??? Whoever heard of that card?”  Turns out that it is a new card from Ixalan.  This one transforms from enchantment to land.  I think this will be a nice addition to my Liliana tribal commander deck, as Necropotence is one of the things.  (Pay life for cards is a sub theme.)  The backside of the card is a powerful sac outlet.

Is this card a thing in Standard right now?  I’m not sure.  I have been out of the Standard scene for awhile.  I do have a Tezzeret deck, but have only played in two Ixalan standard tournaments.  This card has definitely not been on my radar.

Is there a precedent for this?  A Standard card in a From the Vault set?  I think they used to actually put preview cards in From the Vault sets.  So that would be pre-standard…

Arlinn Kord//Arlinn, Embraced By the Moon

Here’s one that I saw played in Standard back before the last rotation every now and then.  The “Shadows Over Inistraad” block didn’t feature as strong of a werewolf mechanic as did the original Inistraad.  Here we have a werewolf planeswalker.  She is also a planeswalker with five abilites, like Garruk, and she also makes wolves.  (Like Garruk.)  For werewolf tribal purposes, Arlinn is a must have.

Unfortunately, there is only one viable werewolf commander, Ulrich Krallenhorde, and he isn’t too great.  Still, if you are into that, jam Arlinn Kord into your deck.

Nissa, Vastwood Seer//Nissa, Sage Animist

Here is an Origins planeswalker that did see play in standard.  Really, anything that ramps for cheap works for green.  People would cram four copies of this in their deck, and play it to get out the lands they needed, and eventually they would do this and flip one of them, and proceed to have huge advantage on the board. This is one I was glad to see rotate out!

I haven’t seen her play in Modern, however.

Kytheon, Hero of Aroas//Gideon, Battle-Forged

Nothing to see here.  Move along.

(Just kidding.)  Really, this card didn’t see much play in Standard, and hasn’t in Modern or Commander either.  I think he is under-appreciated, and he probably would have fit better back in M13 standard.

He is basically a one-drop planeswalker.  That isn’t Tibalt.  So that’s something!

I think he is waiting for the right White Weenie moment to come along.

Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy//Jace, Telepath Unbound

And here is the money card in the set.  Jace can be had for about $25, regular printing, and $35 in foil outside of this set.  Back when he was Standard legal, he fetched $4o or more for the regular, not foil version.

Why is he so good?  He is a two drop looting creature.  You can play him early game or late game, and he is still good.  When you do his loot ability, if you have five or more cards in the graveyard, he becomes an incredible control planeswalker, with a negative three ability that lets you reliably snapcaster an instant or sorcery from your graveyard.

Is he better than Snapcaster Mage?  I don’t think so.  Almost nothing can beat the flash-in flashbacker, who becomes a great surprise chump blocker and lets you get something out of your graveyard.  Jace has to sit there for a turn before you can even activate his ability.  But he is still useful, and if you can get him to flip and keep him on board, you get great card advantage.

I’ve heard of Jace played in almost every format, even Commander.  This might be the best card in this set.  Except it’s not…

Delver of Secrets//Insectile Aberation

This probably is (the best card.)  Not many Magic the Gathering cards are as good as Delver.  And he’s a common!  So this card doesn’t cost a ton to own four copies.  But this special art special foil printing is bound to be popular with people who relaly like hitting their opponents hard and fast.

Delver is great.  He gets you card advantage.  You don’t have to trigger his transform ability if you don’t want to.  If you do want to, on turn  you can begin wrecking your opponent in the air.

Check this scenerio.  Turn one, shock in Breeding Pool.  Play Delver of Secrets.  Turn two, reveal Giant growth from the top of your library, flip your Delver  Play your Forest as land for the turn.  Declare attack for 3 in the air.  Hit Insectile Aberation with Giant Growth twice, (Because you started with one in your opening hand.)  You brought nine damage in the air on turn two.  Congratulations.  You are a jerk!

Delver is played in every eternal format.  Because he is eternally good.  That’s why!

Archangel Avacyn//Avacyn the Purifier

This is one of the funnest cards in the set.  She has Flash.  Flying.  Vigilance.  Makes things Indestructible, Sweltering Suns.  All in one Legally Blonde package.  Lots of flavor here, too.  If you followed the story of Shadows Over Inistraad, you saw Avacyn twist into a self-righteous evil.  When you Flash her in (Angel to the rescue!) everyone else on your team has indestructible until the end of turn.  And incredible shock to your opponent if you played her from your hand.  An incredible threat if she is your Commander.  And when she flips, (because one of your non-token cratures died,) she hits everything on the board for 3, and lightning bolts your opponent (s) as well.  And yes.  That’s Commander Damage!

Fun!  If you like a card that does stuff, look no further than this card.

Bloodline Keeper//Lord of Lineage

Here is the card that I think I will have the least use for.  Maybe not.  I like Vampires, and played Black Red vampires occasionally in the last Standard environment.  And here is where I think I am not that interested in building a Vampire Tibal Commander deck.  Vampires are OK.  But how often have I had a ton of them?  Not that often.

This guy is good, if you are interested in buiding such a deck.  Most Vampire decks have Olivia VOldaren as their Commander.  (She’s just sick!)  But maybe Kalitas would be good.  (No.  I know he would be good.  See above!)

Elbrus the Binding Blade//Withengar Unbound

I remember the first time I saw this card.  I knew I had to have it!  The flavor of the thing is pretty cool.  This was in the very early days of playing MTG for me, and the idea of getting that giant flyer out and smashing people was just awesome.  I had alot to learn…it is pretty hard to get seven mana to play an equipment.  Then pay to equip that to a viable attacker.  It really is pretty hard.  (I was playing this in Standard, belive it or not!)

Now Elbrus remains one of my favorite cards.  And to have this incredibly cool foi printing is just great.  And it is something else to put into Liliana’s Commander deck!

I left the weirdest for last…

Bruna,the Fading Light//…//Gisela, the Broken Blade/////Brisela, Voice of Nightmares

Weird.

Basically, the Wizards pushed the transform mechanic as far as it could go, inventing the meld mechanic, and making six cards with the ability.  Melding pieces two halves of a card on the backside of two creatures, combining them together into an eldrazi.  Brisela here represents that, as she was the best example of a played meld pair in Standard.

Gisela actually made her way into decks that didn’t feature her other half.  She is a good angel, with Flying, First Strike, and Lifelink.

It is Bruna that makes this a devastating thing.  Say you played Gisela early on, and the opponent doom bladed her.  No problem.  Play your Bruna in your second main phase (turn six or seven) and at the end step, you have Brisela!  An incredob;e 9/10 flying vigilance lifelink first strike hate machine!

THE SPARTANNERD’S RATING OF FROM THE VAULT TRANSFORM

Well.  A couple of things.  The cards sticking together is a little unnerving.  I don’t know when these were printed and packaged, but I imagine the problem might be worse if they sit unopened on a store shelf for a long period of time.  I immediately put “snugs” on mine.  (form fitting side loading card sleeves for double sleeving.)

What’s here is good.  But I think there is a glaring ommision or two.  How about Westvale Abbey//Ormandahl, Profane Prince?  I could have taken this over the Vampire, or over the Arguel’s Blood Fast.  Thing in the Ice…Hello!

The Wizards also ignored Morph and Champions of Kamigawa Flip cards.  Maybe it was economically better for the Wizards to print the double sided cards instead, but if they wanted us to get maximum power out of similar mechanics, when we could have done with Nazumi Graverobber or Willbender.

But I am happy enough.  The new printings of Liliana, Jace, Withengar, the three angels, and Garruk make me pretty happy.  I don’t play much red-green, but I am glad the Wizards printed Huntmaster of the Fells, which is about a $12 card.

The value I got for $39.99 (retail) at the Tangled Web in Spartanburg was very nice.  You already can’t find this product cheaper than $65 on TCGplayer.com.  And if the story of From the Vault Angels happens to From the Vault Transform, then it will eventually make its way above $80.

So I am happy to rate this product at 4/5, marking off because the cards sticking together worries me a little bit.  It is a great selection of cards, that came in a nice, displayable package.

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

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Jace Beleren and Chandra Nalaar Funko Legacy Collection unboxing and Review…SpartanNerd

Way back in January of 2015, I reviewed Funko’s Liliana Vess.  You can read that review here.  So do Jace and Chandra stack up to my favorite planeswalker?

I received these two as gifts from the SpartanChildren.  I happen to know that they were marked down to $5.00 a piece at Ross (discount store), which tends to happen when a figure warms the shelf at a mainline retailer for over two years.  (Notice I paid $25 for Liliana.)

(I am doing both reviews at the same time for the sake of WordPress memory…as these are largely the same unboxing experience…)

First of all…check out the new PLAYMAT!    Also a Christmas gift…from the SpartanWife!  The art shows none other than Jace Beleren groveling at Liliana for help in dealing with the Eldrazi during the “Battle for Zendikar” storyline.  I will be photographing Magic The Gathering related items on this mat from now on!

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Jace and Chandra both come in the same window style boxes.  The circlular bubble does NOT depict the card Jace Beleren nor Chandra Nalaar.  Jace’s art depicts “Jace, the Living Guildpact” and Chandra’s depicts “Chandra, Pyromaster.”  Not sure the reasoning here…Jace’s figure appears to be “Jace, Telepath Unbound.”  Chandra appears to be “Chandra, Flamecaller”, neither card was released quite yet when these figures first came out.  Maybe some insight into the design process can be found here?

The boxes use the M15 black and white styling for the packaging that you found everywhere when that set came out.  It is striking…a nifty design, really.  M15 was an interesting set…The Wizards talked at length about finding an identity for “the core set.”  M14 was largely a failure…M15 wasn’t much better, and aside from the “flip walkers,” Magic origins was also a little weak.  M15 was the first set to put holofoil stickers on the rare and promo cards.  Not that that has anything to do with these figures.

On the other hand, the M15 story was cool, showing the fight between Liliana and Garruk a little bit more intensely, and detailing how Ob Nixilis gets free.

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The back lists the other figures in this line.  As far as I know, there was only this one series of MTG figures.  Maybe I will be able to complete the collection with Garrk, Ajani, and Nissa someday.  I certainly will if they are this cheap!

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Each figure was wired in with Barbie style bread-tie wires.  It wasn’t too hard to get them out.

I tried to stand each figure up as best I could without “primping.”  These figures do not stand on their own easily, with Jace being the worse offender.  He cannot stand without being stooped over.  This was similar to Liliana, if you will recall I had to put her weight on one side.

Both figures have rocker ankles, that feature some ankle swivel.  But the way their shoes are designed, the articulation is limited.  This doesn’t help with the standing issues.

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Chandra comes with a fireball.  And Jace’s cloak is removable!  Who knew?  Notice, he doesn’t look like his picture on the playmat…must be a different cloak.

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Here are some alternate poses.  Notice that Jace just can’t do that much.

Chandra doesn’t have that much trouble holding that fireball.  She doesn’t “grip” it.  But it is sized correctly to match her fingers.  I love that they included this.  I wish she could have more flames, though.

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Both Chandra and Jace have beautiful, detailed scuplting.  And the paint is very nice as well.  I think Jace’s face could look a little less like a manequinn.

Below is each character beside their deckbox from Duel Deck Anthology….The card art depicted is “Jace Beleren,” known as “baby Jace” amongst players.  (I went and looked.  The original card art does resemble the figure.  The Duel Deck has alternate art.)

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On the other hand, Chandra doesn’t look like either version of her card art.  She looks like Chandra Flamecaller.

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These figures are pretty cool.  I am going to rate them the same as I rated Liliana.  3/5.  The whole issue of not being able to stand is really the problem.  The sculpting and painting are fine.  They are more statue than action figure, though…they look incredible, but their articulation suffers because of the extreme detail.  They could have better accessories.  Jace’s cloak is more of a liability.  Chandra could have more fire.

So the SpartanNerd rates Funko Magic the Gathering Legacy Collection Jace Beleren and Chandra Nalaar both at 3/5.  They look like who they are supposed to represent.  But they suffer as action figures.  They are really more like mini statues, that have trouble standing.  (Liliana is forever propped up in my office at work.)

Do you agree with my rating of 3/5?  Let me know in the comments!

 

 

SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review- “Ajani vs. Nicol Bolas” Duel Deck (Vintage Review)

If you can call decks this young “vintage,” that is.  It has only been about five years since they were first released.  That was around the time I was discovering trading card games.  Bolas was THE BEAST back then, and he recieved a reprint in M13 when I began playing in tournaments, and I would see him on my opponents side of the table, and be envious.  Good times!

I saw the Ajani vs. Nicol Bolas” duel deck at the Tangled Web behind the counter, and asked about it.  I purchased it for $45…let’s remember this is an item you just don’t see on a shelf anymore….I was looking for stuff like this when I went to the Hickory Con, but just couldn’t find anything, at least that I  could afford…

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Ajani vs. Nicol Bolas comes in this foil box.  We get some information about this story…clearly Ajani is outmatched…but at least you can play him on turn four.  Bolas is an EIGHT DROP.  Bolas destroyed a plane called Alara, and Ajani is mad.  That summarizes it.

For this review, I hope to show some of the older elements that I find.

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Here is what you get in the box.  The deck boxes are pretty, but once again useless for sleeved cards.  This time I am going to cut these up and glue them to Dragon Shields boxes…Ivory for Ajani, and Maroon for Bolas.

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The artwork here … we see Bolas from a different angle in this art.  We see what might be the size difference between the two characters.

Here is the deck list for each deck.

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Here’s one of those old elements I was talking about…the guide to playing magic!  This poster gives you a lot of information.  In fact, I believe when me and the SpartanChildren began to play this game, we kept this same item on hand for reference.

Nowadays the wizards just use a tiny little card that doesn’t explain much.

OK ALREADY.  LETS UNWRAP SOME CARDS!

First, Ajani’s deck.

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Kird Ape.  The poster boy for red-green decks.  I was surprised to see green cards…I guess Ajani held is battle on the shard of Naya.  Wild Nacatl, a posterboy for Naya (red-green-white.)  Wild Nacatl has a legacy of being banned in modern, but recently was taken off of the banlist.

We’ve seen the pridemate printed a few times it seems.

IMG_9300.jpgQasali Pridemage has been printed a few times as well.  He is good…with exalted and a control ability.

IMG_9301.jpgLightning Helix…now we’re talking!  a great card.

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Here we have useful to rediculous cards.  Naya Charm…if it’s a charm, it’s good.  Titanic Ultimatum…the opposite of Cruel Ultimatun…a spell of rediculous power, that demands intense color loyalty.

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Ajani goes after Bolas with lots of different land options.  Notice “Evolving Wilds…”  The Jungle Shrine is a Tri-Land, one that I didn’t have.  Sapseep Forest…is a FOREST.  You can tutor for it with a real fetch.  (Not with evolving wilds.)  I belive I had Vitu-Ghazi, the City Tree already.

Ajani’s deck is a dedicated aggro deck with a few tricks.  It yells the colors of Naya.  And it does what those colors do.  The green makes bigger creatures.  The white gains life.  The red does damage.  All of Ajani’s stuff can impact the game in a big way.

Nicol Bolas’ deck

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Bolas’ deck is obviously of Grixis…the shard that represents his evil alignment.  From Faerie to Toads to Hounds.  Bolas deck looks to be slower right away, and that is because his deck is poised to be a control deck.  Each card has a fun controlling effect.  The Morgue Toad is a card that scrams “GRIXIS.”

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I never owned a Moroii before.  Apparently an infamous flyer that hurts you each turn.  He has a drawback for all the power he has to offer, similar to the demons in the duel deck with Lord of the Pit.  Shriekmaw…this guy belongs in every casual black deck.  Blazing Specter unsurpsingly makes someone discard a card.  The specter family of cards typically do something with cards in hand.

Vapor Snag.  NICE.  I have a foil from Modern Masters, and I think I will make my first swap.

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More control.  Countersquall.  Recoil.  Undermine.  Icy Manipulator.  (The manipulator has brought me a few win!)  Just more control.

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And even more control.  Profane Command could only be supplanted by Similagar’s command, which wouldn’t be printed for another five years.  Come on guys.  Why not Cryptic Command?  🙂  Turn/Burn, Pain/Suffering.  Bolas has to cheat.  So why not draw two different cards when he was only supposed to draw one!

And then the imfamous Cruel Ultimatum.  Wow.  The card that won MTG pro finals back in 2011.  But like the other Ultimatum in this collection, it is color intensive.  You have to have everything lined up just right to get it to work.  Cruel is better than Titanic because Titanic is meant to be announced before attackers are declared.  Your window of opportunity is wider with Cruel Ultimatum.  Take away their life irregardless of blockers.  Make them ditch cards, and get one of Bolas’ few but great creatures back from the graveyard.

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Bolas doesn’t have as many special lands as Ajani.  He gets two Tri-Lands.  (That’s only fiar.)  He gets two copiews of Terramorphic Expanse (See what they did there.  The two cards have opposing flavor but are functional reprints.)  And then there’s Rupture Spire, which is a City of Brass with the caveat of entering tapped and having to have a many spent on it.  (You don’t have to lose life.)

So who’s better?  Playing the decks

I say, Bolas’ deck has a better plan.  Deal with whatever Ajani throws at him.    That’s what makes this deck fun.  But Ajani can “run over” Bolas before he can win.  And that means these two are perfectly balanced.  So far, I have played eight matches between the two, and both have four wins.  GREAT WORK, WIZARDS (Five years later.)  The decks are fun.  Just remember, AGGRO for Ajani.  CONTROL for Bolas.  Have small fast creatures in your opeing hand with Ajani.  Have fast removal and card draw in Bolas CONTROL deck.

DID THE SPARTANNERD GET A GOOD DEAL.

Here is what some of my readers is asking.

The Duel Deck version of Ajani and of Bolas, in premium foil, are about a $6 value.

Wild Nacatl and Kird Ape get you about $4 (together).

So I’m at $16…

Lightning Helix will get you about $6.00.

So I’m at $21…

Changing tactics.  That was TCG player.  Lets look at MTGprice.com

Basically, I got a $70 value for about about $45.  Not bad!

I rate this great product 5/5.  It has wonderful flavor, and I got a great deal.  I will happily add this to my Duel Decks collection!

 

 

 

 

 

SpartanNerd…Early Thoughts on Planeswalker Packs.

The Wizards decided to discontinue the age-old practice of putting out “intro decks.”  They seem to want new players to be able to learn the game, become competitive, and eventually successful in local area tournaments.  The intro deck was the beginning of this ramp, but it had some problems.  First of all, virtually every intro deck ever put out is weak…They are generally missing mana-fixing, and generally have only one or two copies of cards that would be essential, but are often easily replaced with better options.

I, the SpartanNerd, have reviewed several intro decks.  And in virtually every case, the booster packs that came with the deck had more usefulness.

Not that no intro deck ever came with useful and valuable cards.  The intro-deck with Spear of Heliod comes to mind.  That card saw legitimate play in Theros block.  And I famously picked up a Dark Ascencion deck that came with two Inkmoth Nexus, and Hellrider to boot.  But most of them…have been lackluster offerings.  Decks that frustrate new players, especially kids, when they try and play them in constructed tournments and get their face re-arranged by someone who built their deck to work against a metagame.  Throw in that other sealed products, like Duel Decks and Commander contain cards that aren’t Standard or sometimes even Modern legal, and new players can hit a brick wall of confusion and frustration.

This is why the Planeswalker Pack is already destined to be a failure.  And I haven’t even seen the contents!

I want to talk about what we have been shown from the “Kaledesh” block Planeswalker packs.

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These two cards are pretty.  They are flashy.  They WILL  capture the young player’s attention.  When I started playing, you couldn’t find Planeswalker cards anywhere.  Now you get fresh new ones that come with a deck.  Fresh new FOIL ones at that.

But these two cards are instantly nerfed.  They both cost six…so say for instance on turn six you play Chandra, Pyrogenius, and you get to “shock” an opponent.

The problem with this of course is this…

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You are getting a six drop, sorcery speed “Shock.”  And while Shock isn’t in the Standard game right now, there are better burn spells than Chandra.

But SpartanNerd, She will be at 7 loyalty.

This is true.  And this is why Chandra, Pyrogenius will work as an intro product.  She will be fun against the Nissa, Nature’s Artisan deck.  You can even bump her down and she will be at 2 loyalty…she lives for another turn at least.  She might be fun in a duel deck type of situation.  But not against a metagame of Battle for Zendikar block, Shadows Over Innistrad block, and Kaladesh block.

Nissa, Natures Artisan suffers from the same problem.  How many better ways in all of MTG are there to gain three life? Filtering for land?

Chandra becomes a sweeper with additional burn if she ultimates, and Nissa becomes “Overrun”.  But you have to get to ten loyalty counters.  Not going to happen in a real tournament environment.

Now we haven’t seen the rest of the decks.  But we are promised at least five more cards designed to go with these planeswalkers specifically.  Those cards might make it possible to play these in a tournament successfully.  We’ll just have to see.

But I say the Wizards are going about getting new players ALL WRONG.  I am a teacher, and I love teaching kids new skills.  I love it when the light comes on and they “get” a new concept.  MTG is a FUN game, worthy of brainpower and thinking through strategies like deckbuilding, etc.  I like playing against new players, and helping them to see their triggers, phase changes, combat tactics, etc.  New players are LUCKY if they play against me.  I remember when I started, too many players were cut-throat, and beat me on what I thought were technicalities.  Problems that I didn’t see, and wasn’t sure they were even playing fair.  I just loved the game, so kept on playing with determination.

But news flash.  Kids don’t like to lose.  And you pay, say $5.00 of your allowance to play in a tournament for 4-6 hours on a Friday night, only to get smashed in every game, and it becomes clear why new players don’t feel successful.  All this is WORSE if you happen to be running illegal cards that you JUST PURCHASED in a Commander deck.  A deck that costed $35, and took your birthday money.

I propose a completely different approach than just putting out new eye-catching product.

The Wizards should go back to the CORE SET.  But this time, structure tournaments around it for NEW PLAYERS.  A product like Planeswalker Packs (and intro decks) could fit right in with what I propose.  Core Set tournaments would LOCK OUT anyone who has a DCI number oder than say, two years old.  This would have to be policed by the TO.  But I believe this to be the best way for the Wizards to help the new players learn the game and find some success.  Such a tournament would be independent of the Standard environment.  I remember seeing the words “expert set” on some MTG expansions.  (Dragon’s Maze comes to mind.)  Standard would be made of “Expert Sets.”  The Core Set beginner tournaments would play like Magic in its purest form.  Just use the evergreen keywords, and examples of each card type.  Use basic lands and Evolving Wilds.  Or maybe tap lands.  The most successful Core Set in my opinion was M13.  This set reprinted the Titans.  It had Legendary creatures.  It had staples.  It was great fun!  This set captured my kids’ imaginations.  But when we played decks make from this set against Innistrad block cards, we would lose.  I think we would have had a good shot in a closed off, core set only environment.

So when the Planeswalker Pack bites the big one, and the Wizards try a different plan, just point them to the SpartanNerd Blog!

 

Why I Choose AZORIUS

Why I, the SpartanNerd, chooses AZORIUS

When I began playing Magic: The Gathering, It was right when the Magic 2012 Core Set was released.  I found some Magic 2011 cards on sale also, and scooped them up.  Right away I identified with the Zombies and such.  I am drawn to the black magic.  That’s me in general.  I find that stuff entertaining.

But Azorius is Blue and White!

When Magic Core Set 2013, came out, many of the cards I had come to love became illegal in standard.  So I began to experiment.  The Green style of playing just doesn’t work for me.  And neither does Red.  I found that I do as well with White as I did Black.  But the Blue style magic reminded me the most of Majaya from Shadow Era.  With lots of control spells, etc.

So Azorius was pushed out in Return to Ravnica, is a combination of Blue and White, two styles that I play well.  How well?  Well last night I won half of my matches and would have been top eight if I wasn’t forced to take a loss for being late.  AND I BEAT A CAREER PLAYER!  So I’m feeling good today.

When I think about who beats me the most, it is usually Gruul (Red and Green).  So my Azorius deck is designed to keep Gruul specifically under control.  The Gruul players like to bloodrush, Titanic Growth, etc, but they can’t if you are armed with defensive spells.  And that is what Azorius is all about.  A good defense is your offense.

You see, I really believe that, way down in my heart.

read DEFENSIVE LINEMAN!  NOSEGUARD!

So I detain the attacking creatures, and shut down Gruul.  Do I win every time?  No. But I am ready for these aggressive strategies.  And some of my deal is I’m an idiot player.  My two actual losses last night came from bonehead decisions.  AND, I forgot that “Ruric Thar, the Unbowed” penalizes non-creature spells….New Card Syndrome!

But it was very satisfying when one of these Gruul players had five attackers, and one bloodrushed, and I had been holding “Aetherize” in my hand.  NOT GETTING THROUGH!  This was him being a bonehead.  He should have known something was up when I didn’t attack him.

And I took two wins by attacking with small, cheap creatures.  “Azorius Arrester” gave one guy 18 damage.  “Azorius Arrester”….a 2/1 wimp hit him at least 9 times.  My opponent couldn’t touch me.  Also “Lyev Skyknight” did well for me.  I was able to detain “Fog Banks”, other flyers, etc.  I had four “fatties” hit the board at the right times last night.  They served their purposes well.

I got milled one time.  I couldn’t do anything about that.  This was a time I should have mulliganned on down to five.

My Azorius strategy didn’t do well against stuff with haste and flash.  “Yeva, Nature’s Herald” became a problem for me.  It didn’t do well when the proper manna wasn’t available (no one does, right)   Just the same, I really believe in this strategy.

Think about it.  I am a teacher.  I am always saying….”Stop that.” (Negate)  “No Talking” (Render Silent) “Go to the office” (Oblivion Ring, Detention Sphere). “I know you didn’t just…” (Rain of Blades)…

See what I mean.  I might be drawn to the Black Magic for entertainment purposes.  But I AM AZORIUS.

Until I decide to switch, I guess.