SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review…Chandra Planeswalker Pack

img_9432Now for my second review of the new Planeswalker Packs…Chandra Pyrogenius.

If you read my review of Nissa, Nature’s Artisan Planeswalker Pack, then you know exactly what I am about to unbox!  Only this time flavored with Chandra, the reddest of the planeswalkers.

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You get a different blurb on the back of this one.  It accomplishes the goal of letting you know what the deck is all about.  And it mentions the uniqueness of the cards in this deck.

Things were packaged exactly the same.  In fact my pictures look eerily similar.  Almost like it wasn’t worth wasting WordPress memory…

Here is the Decklist.

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So here’s Chandra herself.  Take in this Jank!  You get a “Shock” as a +2 ability.  Or “Flamelash” as a -3 ability.  For six mana.  The -10 ability is a sweeper, which is of some interest.

The Wizards purposely “nerfed” this card.  It isn’t supposed to be big in Standard and Modern, though it is legal in those formats.  In other words.  They made a janky card on purpose.  BUT WHY?

True story.  The second time I visited a comic book store to shop for MTG cards, I asked the store owner about planeswalker cards.  Not only did he not have any, he said they were expensive to obtain.  And he was right.  Five or six years ago, when I started playing this game, planeswalkers were relatively new, and there weren’t that many even printed yet. (I started playing in tournaments during Dark Ascension, though I wasn’t really that aware of sets and blocks.)  The Wizards are doing a smart thing by printing Dual Decks that contain Planeswalkers, and it is also smart to make Intro Packs that include planeswalkers.  It helps new players feel that they have something nice.  And she is nice and splashy, and foil.  All of the things that the premium cards that were included in the now defunct intro packs generally failed to be.  (other than being foil.)

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Being a “burn” planeswalker, you would think that Chandra’s deck would be loaded up with Lightning Bolts and similar.  Not so much.  Instead, she has lots of creatures.  Chandra has vehicles, while Nissa didn’t.  Some of these cratures are really good.  Fleetwheel Cruiser is awesome right away, and might be the most valuable card in this deck as far as tournament play is concerned.  Speedway Fanatic has Haste, and Gearshift Ace has First Strike…these guys pretty much force players to learn the rules of combat.  Chandra has flyers, something else that Nissa’s deck didn’t have.

Here are the rest of the spells (and lands.)

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Flame Lash, Stone Quarry, Liberating Combustion, and Renegade Firebrand can all only be found here in this deck.  Liberating Combustion lets you tutor out your Chandra, and as I said in Nissa’s review, it serves an important role.  I don’t think Renegade Firebrand is going to matter that much.    But what might matter is Flame Lash, a four-drop instant burn spell that does four damage to a creature or player.  No, it’s not as good as Lightning Bolt.  But this could be an important card in Standard.  Recently Stoke the Flames was very relevant, and it had a similar effect.

HOW DOES THE CHANDRA PLANESWALKER PACK PLAY?

Like Nissa, I have tried this against several decks, and it generally wins.  A good bit actually.  It isn’t anywhere near as good as the Chandra Nalaar Duel Deck that was balanced against Jace.  But against other duel decks, intro decks, and challenge decks, this deck usually wins.  I think MTG has powered down since the Dual Deck anthology decks were printed.  But this deck does fine against anything printed since Return to Ravnica.

I have the opportunity to tell you now that Chandra, Pyromancer has beaten Nissa, Natures Artisan” soundly every time.  The two decks feel like they were meant to be a duel deck balanced against each other.  Maybe I’m just better with Chandra’s deck.  Not sure.  But I haven’t seen Nissa get a win yet when playing against Chandra.  Partly because there is sufficient creature removal in four copies of Flame Lash and in rolling Chandra down. The first striking and vigilance (and flying) creatures in Chandra’s deck are just better than the tramplers in Nissa’s deck.

So I am going to give Chandra a 75/100 as far as this is a playable deck.

I RATE THIS DECK A 5/5!

The Wizards are doing a good thing by printing this as an entry level product.  Planeswalkers have lots of appeal to new players.  Especially in foil.  The deck works well against most pre-constructed decks.  The after-market value of this deck is better than $15 with the inclusion of Fleetwheel Cruiser and Flame Lash.

The SpartanNerd gives Chandra, Pyromaster’s Planeswalker Pack a 5/5.

So do you agree or disagree?  Let me know in the comments!

 

 

 

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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 Unboxing and Review…Magic the Gathering Duel Decks Anthology

Couldn’t wait.  Had to open my first OFFICIAL Christmas present!

It came in this massive box….I picked it up at the Tangled Web in Spartanburg SC for MSRP…(thanks guys!  It is reported that many places are marking this up.)

 

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That was just the shipper!  But it indicated that it contains a HUGE product!

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The real box looks like this.  I love the foil treatment that the box has…it really makes this feel like the premium product that it is.

The back has this propaganda on it.  Upon removing the cellophane, I discovered that the stuff printed on the back is actually a separate poster.  I think I will hang that on my office wall…  You get a shot of the art featured on each deck…”Elves Vs. Goblins” “Divine vs. Demonic” “Jace Vs. Chandra” and “Garruk Vs. Lilliana.”

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Opening the box reveals all eight decks, in premium foil deck boxes, seated in the proper recesses of a plastic tray designed to hold them.  You can also see two official counter dice, one silver and one bluish.  Both of these feel a little lighter than the counter dice usually feel…not as much heft.  Maybe I’m just imagining that?  Then the other issue, is I can’t really read the silver one, my vision being so bad.  Still, they are a nice inclusion.

 

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I was opening this at midnight of Saturday December 6, and basically was bouncing with excitement, as well as my children.  The SpartanWife was also very impressed.  She said, “I didn’t really know what to expect…it is much larger and more impressive than I expected for sure.”

So those are all of the first impressions.  Me and the SpartanKid decided to go ahead and crack open Divine and Demonic and give them a late-night-early-morning quick test.  I took pictures before the match, but it was getting late, so I didn’t unbox them properly for you to see.  Still, here are some details…

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The deck boxes are designed to hold all 60 cards…sleeved.  I was afraid that the boxes would be the general boxes that usually come with the dual decks which can only hold the unsleeved cards.  So this set my mind at ease at least.  The decks have a spacer to help hold the unsleeved cards in place until you can get some sleeves on them.  Each deck is cellophane wrapped, of course.  You can see “Akroma, Angel of Wrath” and “Lord of the Pit” featured on top of the decks.  These cards are foil, in the “new card frame,” featuring a holofoil sticker on the bottom of both rares.

The SpartanKid wielded the Divine deck, and I took on Demonic; those angels were just too much in our initial test.  It hadn’t been a good MTG night for me, so thinking that was all it was, I decided to do more testing in the morning….

So what happened?  Here is the beauty readers.  Keep on reading, and I am going to test each deck against the others, as well as against other decks not in this set.  And I will let you know how it turns out, right here at SpartanNerd.com!

My rating of Magic the Gathering Dual Decks Anthology so far…

I am only going to grade the experience of receiving the package and unboxing it, as well as other logistical details.  I can’t comment much on the contents of the decks yet.

  • The box is huge…as well as beautiful.  It is a premium product.
  • The tray inside is very welcome, giving you a way to keep your decks safely shielded from getting bumped around.
  • The deck boxes are very nice, featuring foil artwork.  And they are large enough to accommodate 60 sleeved cards.  Not sure if they will hold the tokens as well, yet.  I suspect there won’t be too many tokens.  But there will be some.  And then there is the clasp.  This is the worst thing I can say about the deck boxes.  The boxes close by that stupid weak cardboard clasp that the event decks have.  “Divine” and “Demonic”‘s deck boxes both will not close tightly after the initial opening.  (sadness)
  • Two spin-down counters are included.  They are nice.  I don’t prefer the coloration of the silver one, but that is my personal preference.  Other people might like it.  Personally I have a hard time seeing the numbers on it.  The blue one is just fine, though.
  • The rares are placed in the modern card frame, with a holofoil sticker on the bottom which screams “I’m a Rare!”  These rare’s also feature alternate art from the regular circulation.
  • The poster on the back is nice, and wall-hangable if you are a SpartanNerd

So my rating of the Magic the Gathering Dual Decks Anthology so far is 5 out of 5.  I don’t think the weakness of the deck box clasp is enough to take any off.  At any rate, if I love the box enough to use it in other places, I can and should put velcro on it, at least.  But I suspect the boxes won’t be going anywhere.

I have the urge to keep this product in tact, making no changes.  Don’t get me wrong…Lilliana is definitely going to see some play in the current Standard environment.  And who knows what other card might.  But these decks are not going to be modified.  The counters are staying put.  The boxes.  Everything.  I am treating it like its own game for the time being.

My rating of Magic the Gathering Dual Decks Anthology is 5/5, at least as far as the PRODUCT is concerned.  I will be placing more reviews and post information about the different match-ups that happen at my kitchen table as I can!

Do you agree?  Let me know in the comments!