Archenemy: Nicol Bolas. SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review

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Long time no blog.  Sorry, Hub City Geeks.

But I’m back with a treat!  As you can see, for Father’s Day I got the Archenemy Nicol Bolas set!  And I am unboxing it for you today!

The top image is the front of the box.  Nice artwork.  And you know you are getting something nice!  Mine was actually slightly cheaper, as the Tangled Web in Spartanburg is holding a sale…everything 15% off!

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The back has some inspiring words, and a picture of some of the content.

Opening the box, you are greeted with this.  I was a little puzzled at first.

Also, note that upon removing the cellophane and the price tag along with it, you can see some information.  Ages 13+, 2-4 players, and 30+ minutes.

What I’m telling you and showing you is that this is the first really successfully executed MTG all-in-one board game style set!  While there is Arena of the Planeswalkers, which is “Heroscape” with Magic characters, Archemeny: Nicol Bolas retains the gameplay of Magic the Gathering.  And just like any dedicated board game, there is some setup.

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IMG_0112I was confused by the big white thing.  What that is is an envelope, and it contained the four deckboxes, which you will have to assemble.

IMG_0134Adding to the board game feel of the set, you also get a special life counter, which can go up to 100.  This is the “Commander’s Arsenal” style of counter, that hasn’t been released in a long time.  (Incidentally, if you get the Commander’s Anthology,” you get four of these.  I won’t be getting that product and reviewing it, however.)

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The first pack of cards I opened were the scheme cards, of course!  These cards are the same size as the Planes from Planechase.  I am showing you the front and the back…I really like the design.  And the back is almost like, “What if Magic the Gathering came out this year?”  This might be what the card backs would look like.  The front features more of that Egyptian style art, and a device resembling the “Talon Gates.”  (Apparently, Nicol Bolas was one of the first planeswalkers, and the gates are a trophy remaining from the first planeswalker duel on Dominaria.)

 

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The scheme cards are loaded with flavor.  And I think there also may be some spoiler content from the upcoming “Hour of Devastation” set.  Check out “A Reckoning Approaches.”  Is that Razeketh on the card?

The Included Decks

Next I will unbox each deck and show you a picture of the rares.  I will also point out the important commons and uncommons.  All of these cards are reprints.

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OK.  First let me say I am disappointed that these aren’t foil planeswalkers.  AT LEAST BOLAS SHOULD BE FOIL.

And while we’re at it, why didn’t they give us an oversize Nicol Bolas as well?

OK.  Rant over.  Let’s look at the tokens first.

They are double sided.  One image shows one side.  The other shows the same cards flipped.

It seems we should be making lots of horrors, zombies, and soldiers.

Now for Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker‘s deck.

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Wow.  This is a lot of rares!  And so many things fly.  Blood Tyrant…That guy’s a winner! Don’t have what you need?  Prognostic Sphinx will get you there.   Here is a needed reprint of Dreadbore. I almost think Harvester of Souls is a little boring at this point.  How many times has that been reprinted?  Icefall Regent was recently a big deal in standard.  Archfiend of Depravity has been there…but never really shined.  Bolas is a three color card, and it’s good that we get Dragonskull Summit, a buddy land.

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Here are the commons and uncommons.  Lightning Bolt.  YES.  Doom Blade.  YES!  Extract from Darkness has been fun in commander.  Slave of Bolas.  This is my first “upgrade.”  I picked up a foil over my recent vacation.

Because Bolas is a three color character, you get some mana rocks that help you fix your colors.  And you get these lands, notably Crumbling Necropolis.

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Each of the Planeswalkers in this set are pretty good, but Bolas is the most satisfying.  Still, he costs a ton to play.  Luckily, his deck helps get him out a little earlier with certain cards.

Gideon Jura  ‘s deck

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These are some all-stars in white!  (well, maybe not Aegis Angel and Lightwielder Paladin.)  As I looked at these rares…I knew them right away.  In the case of Fiendslayer Paladin, that guy was incredible in Theros/M15 standard.  Sun Titan.  Need we say more?  Odric Master Tactician is so good he right out finishes regular matches of Magic if he hits the board with some friends.

Gideon Jura is an OK card.  There are certainly better versions of Gideon out there.  But this version is good and balanced for this set.  -2 the Gideon to remove some of Bolas pesky fliers.

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These cards are also pretty good, with excoriate exiling tapped cards.  Fencing Ace was the title of my deck back in Theros/Ravnica standard.  Pairing him with Fiendslayer is great.  The Flickerwisp…It turns out that Bolas can steal your planeswalkers pretty easy using the scheme cards.  But Flickerwisp says “return to the battlefield under its OWNERS’s control.”  Which is just sick.  Bolas can steal your Chandra, and you can just steal her back!

The SpartanKid made an observation…cards from Amonkhet have the Amonkhet expansion symbol.  But cards from other places get a special Archenemy symbol…

(I thought of this because of the Aerial Responder, even though he has the Archenemy symbol.  Somehow that triggered my memory, maybe because he is in Kaladesh?)

Chandra, Pyromaster‘s deck

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Dualcaster Mage, Grim Lavamancer, and Inferno Titan.  These cards are terrific!  I don’t know if Dualcaster made a splash in Vintage or not, but this was one of the predictions when it was first printed in Commander 2015.  This is my first copy of Grim Lavamancer…he is a staple in the Modern burn archetype.

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Hammerhand and Coordinated Assault help your guys get through.  Searing Spear…this is NOT LIGHTNING BOLT.  Chandra now has at least three pre-constructed decks, and none of them have the best burn spell in them.  That said, Searing Spear isn’t bad, it just can’t outpace Lightning Bolt.  Volcanic Geyser.  Why not just include Fireball?  The geyser has the advantage of being an instant, but it is one red slower.

Chandra’s card is one of the best Chandras they ever printed..  Seeing that she has NINE DIFFERENT CARDS, that’s saying something.  But a great many of those are not really tournament playable.  This one is a contender.

Nissa, Worldwaker‘s deck

IMG_0126Gavin Verhey, who was the lead designer on this set, proclaimed in the now famous preview duel on the Mothership website, said that Nissa’s deck could do the best with a long game.  And that may be because this is a two color deck, while the other two are mono colored.

She does have more resilient threats, but it takes longer for anything to get going.  If Bolas sweeps the board and Thragtusk is there, you at least get a beast in his place.  Forgotten Ancient can get out of hand really fast, (He was recently included in the Atraxa Commander deck.)  Oran-Rief Hydra is big to start with, and just gets bigger.

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Additionally, this deck can draw cards more easily, and Vision Skeins is incredible in a four player game.  (Of course, Bolas gets to draw also.)

The Nissa card here is the best of the three Gatewatch planeswalkers.  She pays for herself the turn she comes out.  She makes lands into man-lands.  And ultimateing her can be GG, if Bolas doesn’t sweep the board on the next turn.

PLAYING THIS SET.

I just got it yesterday!  But there has been some playing here in the SpartanNerd Household.  Last night me and the SpartanKid sleeved up Gideon and Bolas and had a traditional one-on-one.  The funny thing is, that worked pretty good.  It was a cute match, where each side would gain an advantage one after the other.  But eventually, Bolas overpowered him.

Today, I ran the Gatewatch myself against the SpartanKid, who played Bolas as Archenemy.  This match lasted about 70 minutes.  It seemed everytime I would get some traction, the scheme cards would undercut my progress.  That big splashy spell every turn really makes this a special set.  But it is also HARD.

Eventually Bolas accumulated enough flyers to just start picking planeswalkers off one at a time.  And what do you do when all you draw is pump spells while you have no creatures?  The last man standing was Nissa, and two Turntimber Basilisks, and two Fertilids.  Nissa had a ton of lands as well.  Bolas had the abovementioned flyers, but all were tapped, making death inevitable.  But I wasn’t going down without a fight.  He had three walking threats.  I landfalled the basilisks several times by using the Fertilid’s ability.  And at least removed the threats on the ground.  But it was a loss next turn.  Bolas scheme card even made me lose life before the defeat! (The Mighty Will Fall)

This was a fun time, and it could only be more fun with more players.  I will have to keep you posted here on SpartanNerd.com about future matchups.

SO WHAT DOES THE SPARTANNERD RATE ARCHENEMY:NICOL BOLAS?

It’s a terrific product, and the Board Game feel of it is very nice.  Check it out.

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Here is my Archenemy packed up and ready to play.  But believe it or not, I had just put the top back on it and shook it around.  The tray inside is perfect for keeping this set contained.  Even the life counter has a well designed spot in the set.  I haven’t sleeved the tokens or the schemes, but they fit nicely in their original spot underneath the deck box un-sleeved.

So this is a well designed package.  Well designed experience.

And I COULD take for instance, the Grim Lavamancer to a tournament to play.  And that is one of the rewarding things about collecting the sealed products the way I do, at least for Modern.  Some of the included cards here are very nice.

I wish the Planeswalkers were foil.  That is one of my complaints.  You pay $59.99 for a MTG product, there better be some foils.  Because these are all alternate art cards, they won’t be printed in foils unless the Wizards decide to reprint them in the future somehow.  You could get foil regular printing but that shouldn’t feel necessary.

The decks included are tailored for multiplayer matches, and so that is one of the narrow focus things about the set.  But you could play any decks against Bolas you wanted to, I suppose.

So I am going to rate this product a 4/5, knowing that my opinion will change the more I play the set.

Do you agree or disagree with the SpartanNerd’s rating of 4/5?  Let me know in the comments!

 

 

“Breed Lethality” Commander 2016…SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review

FOUR COLORS.

Wow.  This was the selling point of Commander 2016.  The Wizards of the Coast put out five brand new decks, each with a four color general  And because designing four-color cards is such a difficult task, they created a new “partner” mechanic, that lets you mix and match a pair of two-color commanders, for some new EDH ideas.

If you have been reading the SpartanNerd Blog for awhile, you know I recently picked up Kaalia of the Vast, a three color “mardu” general.  I did this because I really like casting Angels, Demons, and Dragons.  But also…this is one of those cards serious EDH players should have.  And at this point, I do consider myself a little bit serious about Commander.  I think the “Breed Lethality” deck, with Atraxa, Praetor’s Voice will be the next deck along the same line as the Kaalia thing.  You can’t find it anywhere!  I have been looking patiently at the big box stores, knowing that they will stock it at MSRP.  But all I ever see are “Open Hostility” and “Stalwart Unity.”  Luckily, at the SC Comic Con I saw Atraxa’s deck…and in Japanese no less!

Because it is in Japanese, (Kanji I assume), I thought it a good idea to wait awhile and get some experience with the deck.  This was a great decision.  I feel like I have a thorough review for you today, chock full of experience!

This week has been Spring Break, and I spent a great bit of time playing Commander.   I saw “Breed Lethality” quite a few times…almost exactly the stock version.  I took my own baby out, the almost totally foiled out Liliana Tribal to a few tournaments this week.  There was one time that in a five player match, two players had Atraxa!  She’s good!  But there is also a little bit of sadness when a deck gets so popular “everyone is playing it.”

Well anyway.  Here’s my review!

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We get the same sort of box we always get.  This time, though, the writing is all in Japanese.

The window shows you a real clear view of the oversized foil general, Atraxa, Praetor’s Voice.  Flying.  Vigilance.  Deathtouch.  Lifelink.  At the end of your turn, Proliferate.  That is…add another counter of any kind on the board…on as many different permanents as you want.  This general is so good…, it’s no wonder people want to play it.  It is almost like a challenge for you to figure out how to use it!  Proliferate Poison Counters…Experience Counters.  Abuse cards that look for +1/+1 counters.  Suspense counters.  Time counters.  On and on.

Here’s the back.  It shows off some other cards.

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These three are the “Partner” generals.  You can mix and match them.  In fact, if you did buy the other Commander 2016 decks, you would have fifteen different cards to interchange all together!

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Here’s the contents of the box.  This time I am going to complain a little bit about the box.

This is the first time that I have DOUBLE SLEEVED an EDH deck.  This deckbox can’t accommodate Dragon Shields double sleeved.  It CAN hold Dragon Shields without the double sleeved system if you side load them into the box.  But not the double sleeved.  (Why did I double sleeve?  To write the english text in Sharpie on the card as an aid as I tested out the deck.)

The other items in the box are…The deck.  The General.  The box, along with a plastic tray that can double as a swimming pool for Lego Mini-Figures, a how to play reference guide, which is probably just as unsuitable in Japanese as in English for EDH, and then the insert which contains story, art, how to play the deck, and the all-important decklist.  But it’s all in Japanese, so I can’t tell you what it says!

This week while playing, I heard the Atraxa’s story.  Basically, four of the Praetors, Elesh Norn, Jin Gitaxias, Sheoldred, and Vorinclex each decided to transform an angel into a Phyrexian Horror.  Urabrask, the red Praetor, decided to stay out of it.  This is why Atraxa is all four colors except red.

This is a pretty cool story.  I don’t really know that much about the Praetors.  I do have Elesh Norn for my Gifts Ungiven deck in Modern.  And I have a foil Sheoldred coming in the mail to add to Liliana’s deck.  But really, neither would be all that great added to this deck…that’s not really how this deck wants to play out.

So…On with a review of the cards!

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First of all, here are the generals.

Atraxa, Who I already explained.  You get this smaller card to shuffle and be discreet with in your hand, in case someone out there was wondering.

Inkra Shidiqi, the Usurper…this person lets you gain life equal to the toughness of your creatures when they deal combat damage to a player.  I find this an odd ability in the colors Green and Black.  Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to play or play against this card yet.

Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker.  He flies, and lets you put counters on him whenever your opponents play a spell.  (And since this game is titled MAGIC….)

Reyhan, the Last of the Abzan.  This character gains the +1/+1 counters of other creatures when they are put in the graveyard.

I have partnered Ishai and Reyhan….they are an incredible combination!  I was able to 132 +1/+1 counters on Reyhan!

Here are the tokens…next in the deck.  How cool is it to have a Japanese “Germ” token!

Now for the main deck.  As before…I will really only comment on cards that I find to be really significant through my experiences.  But this time the deck is terrific, so…

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Thrummingbird.  A 2/2 flyer that lets you proliferate.  This is getting you there!  Abzan Falconer.  Do you like fliers?  I thought you did!  Tuskguard Captain…everyone gets trample if they have a +1/+1 counter on them!  Juniper Order Ranger.  Everyone deserves a counter!  Whenever another creature enters the battlefield, they get a +1/+1 counter, and so does the Juniper Order Ranger!

The Signets.  And Darksteel Ingot.  One thing about this deck…if you are playing Atraxa, and you can’t get all of your colors, you might just be behind everyone else.  The Wizards wisely reprinted the signets and Darksteel Ingot to help you fix your mana.  (Commander’s Sphere is practically the same thing as Darksteel Ingot.  It isn’t indestructable, however.)

Mortify and Putrefy.  This deck doesn’t have that much targeted removal.  These two do nicely, if not as well as Fatal Push, Path to Exile, or Vendetta.

Crystalline Crawler, Deepglow Skate, and Duelists Heritage…these are all new cards.  They all work really well.  You get to load counters on the Crystalline Crawler, who is colorless herself.  So you can play that without all of that fixing.  Deepglow Skate lets you double the counters on a permanent, and then Duelists Heritage helps you play politics, as you can choose an attacking creature to give double strike too!  Forgotten Ancient…He gets a counter whenever anyone casts a spell…even you!

Kalonia Hydra…double counters every turn!  Ghave, Guru of Spores.   I remember the first time I ever saw this guy as a general…wow.  He can make a ton of Saprolings.  Scavenging Ooze.  Need I say more about that card!

Of the cards on the bottom…Fathom Mage lets you draw a TON of cards.  Merciless Eviction and Spitting Image.  Merciless Eviction is almost the only sweeper in the deck.  Spitting Image…It is frustrating to see this card across the table.  Not pictured…Treasure Cruise…

There are plenty of basic lands, but here are the fixers.  You need the power of ALL OF THESE!

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Command Tower AND Opal Palace.  Bounce lands.  Tri-Lands.  And Evolving Wilds.

As I have played against this deck this week, I have noticed one of the most striking modifications is to add Fetch Lands and Shock Lands to help with the fixing.  This is something I have rarely seen in Commander…but it makes sense for these four color decks.

 

Playing the Deck

All week I have played this deck, and played against it.  In different places.  So I have a varied look at it.

The deck is great as is.  And I have seen it played like that some.  When I have played it, I like Forgotten Ancient/ Ishai Ojutai Dragonspeaker combo.  The Mana Fixing has to be right…But I haven’t had any trouble myself.  I have seen other people have trouble assembling the necessary mana base, however.

You want to be sure to get some creatures on the battlefield, and then to have some counters on those creatures.  Besides not assembling the colors you need, the other way to lose is to have “counter screw.”  This actually has happened to me, and it’s frustrating.  But it was all about the luck of the draw that time.

You want to get cards like Corpsejack Menace, which doubles the counters.  You have to be careful about the order of the triggers in order to maximize your value, however.

When playing against other people who play this deck, I have seen one standout strategy for a custom deck: infect.  In EDH, you still are dead with ten poison counters.  Not twenty as you would hope.  I saw one guy kill everyone at his table in one turn.  I was holding an excellent mono-black hand, and that guy ruined my game!

SpartanNerd’s Rating of “Breed Lethality” Magic the Gathering Commander 2016

I’m going to give this product a 5/5.  It’s goodness all around.  The Wizards were able to give us a functioning deck with cool new game play.  They didn’t have to reprint fetches and shocks, (which would have wrecked the product availability and after-market price even more.)  The four color commander Atraxa is great, and promises a future of creative deckbuilds.

I’m not sure how the “infect” problem should be handled, though.  Atraxa is well loved, and so a ban probably isn’t going to happen.  But getting killed off frequently by infect isn’t fun.  So there’s a problem for the EDH rules committee.

THE SPARTANNERD RATES “BREED LETHALITY” 5/5.  Do you agree or disagree?  Let me know in the comments!

 

Modern Masters 2017…SpartanNerd Experience

I pre-ordered my box of Modern Masters 2017 for a steep discount…(information respectfully withheld.  Thanks!  You know who you are!)  Put it this way, I got a serious good deal.

Like the other “Masters” sets, this box only came with 24 packs.  But every pack contains a foil.  AND this time the set was loaded up with re-prints people have been asking for!

How did I fare?

This time I only have one picture, which will tell most of the story.

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I already put my rares away…sorry guys.  These are the commons and uncommons.  The story is “Return to Ravnica/Innistraad” srandard.  You could even draft deck archetypes with this set.

Maybe you can’t tell from the picture, but the stack of “gold” cards is about 1/3 taller than the traditional cards.  This is a set that wants you to build multi-color decks.

So what rares did I pull?

The notable ones were.

Marsh Flats

Gifts Ungiven

Linvala, Keeper of Silence

Griselbrand

Cavern of Souls

Goblin Guide

Abrupt Decay

Zur the Enchanter

Notably, I didn’t pull Snapcaster Mage, Liliana of the Veil, or Damnation.  I didn’t pull a Serum Visions or a Path to Exile either. But two awesome lands, Griselbrand, and the angel were all great pulls.

I decided to build a “cube commander” deck for Zur the Enchanter.  Basically a singleton deck with Esper colors.  I haven’t played it yet, but I know it will be janky when I do because there are only two valid enchantments!  (Seal of Doom and Gift of Orzova)

So did I draft?  Both me and the SpartanKid did so at the Tangled Web…$35 per entry fee…that’s steep!  But at $10 a pack, that’s why.

I think we both drafted traditional draft style decks.  Mine was based on “bloodrush”  Which was incredible Green Red strategy back in RtR block.  The SpartanKid drafted mono-white.  Probably not a great choice…but he crafted a successfully annoying Soul Sisters deck.  In fact, mine was annoying too if you were lucky!  Giantbaiting + Dragon Fodder+ Revive = YOU WIN.  But most of the time the opponent just had an early flier that I could only hold off for so long before I was ran over.

I did manage to draft Terminus, Obzedat, Goblin Guide, and Misty Rainforest.  But since I was in red green only the latter two made the cut…This set is so good that Misty Rainforest was actually passed to me!  I don’t know what they pulled….???

I wound up trading for a foil Damnation, and so I am all around happy with my investment.  If you read my blog, you know I have been burned a few times buying MTG boxes.  I felt confident that it would work out, and it did reasonably.

However, I did see “Rudy,” some You-Tube guy open a totally wack box, and follow that up with a box that contained all five fetch lands, Liliana, and Blood Moon.  So the potential for this to have gone either way in the other direction was there.

I was encouraged as one of my regular opponents sat beside me while I opened the packs from my box.  I was unaware of some of what I had.  I have a foil Grafdiggers Cage now.  Somehow that is a card that hasn’t been on my radar.  But I see incredible play value there now.  That guy also proclaimed jealousy when I opened Goblin Guide, and then drafted him as well!

I don’t know that I will get to draft this set anymore.  Opportunity dries up as the supply will.  If you read my previous post, you know I was looking forward to drafting Gifts Ungiven, or possibly pulling a foil Liliana of the Veil.  But I also realistically knew those were long shots.

I am going to refrain from rating this set based on my experience.  I have opened 27 packs and played with 24 of the cards, rather unsuccessfully.  I was fighting against myself as well, as I was really sick and started to get tired at around 10:00 PM.  I was making bonehead mistakes, like Traitorous Instinct on Ogre Jailbreaker, when I didn’t own a gate, for instance.  That really doesn’t say much for me and my skills on that day, and so I can’t rate it.  I do think the draft environment really wants you to aim for three colors.  At the Tangled Web, there are a few “fixer hogs.”  They take all of the fixers, and then they get to pick the best stuff on the last pack.  I can’t draft that way.  Maybe I should try it out.  But it seems I would rather know my strategy from the first twenty cards I draft.

Legion of Collectors Box (March 2017)…SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review

The SpartanWife got me the subscription to the Legion of Collectors box, and I opened the January one without blogging about it.  It was terrific, featuring Green Arrow, Plastic Man, Aquaman, Batman and Robin, and Ace the Bathound.

Just so you know…

  • Green Arrow- A Pin and an iron-on embroidered Patch
  • Aquaman- A vintage comic reprint, which showcased the original origin story of Black Manta (Spoiler…”They don’t call me BLACK MANTA for no reason!”
  • Plastic Man- The Funko POP!  Vinyl figure, (A  POP! vinyl figure is to be included in every box.)
  • Batman and Robin- Ceramic Salt and Pepper Shakers in the Funko style.
  • Ace the Bathound- a T-Shirt.

Sorry I didn’t photo and review…I was so excited.

And you can tell the wife correctly ordered the DC Comics box!

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March’s box came in this nifty box…itself something you might want to re-use.  I am going to show you as I unpacked it.  This month’s box features only Superman.

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The inside of the box has comic-book style graphics printed all over.  Conspicuously placed is the patch and the pin.  The words “Welcome to the DC Legion of Collectors” greet you as you know you have much more nerdery inside!

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It’s like, I couldn’t wait to see what the shirt was this time!  I wore the Ace the Bathound shirt every week since I opened it in January.  Turns out that the shirt features the Funko POP! Superman.  (Sorry, you don’t get a pic of me wearing it…my identity is a secret, remember…)

You can see the “Classic Superman” Funko POP! figure beside the shirt.  As with Plastic Man, this item promises to be exclusive to the Legion of Collectors box.

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So then you remove those two items, and see this stuff underneath.

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Pocket POP! Keychain!  What a great bonus.  (Says the guy with a Powerpuff Girl hanging on his briefcase!)

And this 3 3/4 inch Superman action figure…stylized as Action Comics #1 Superman.  You can tell from the celebrated “S” design on his shirt!  This is another product that can’t be had except by getting this box!

 

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I intend to keep this figure on-card…I don’t collect 3 3/4 size figures…but those that I have, like the GI-Joe figures, are on display at work.  I will keep in box and feature it prominently!  It looks cool as it is.  (Which is the whole point of the POP! sensation anyway, right?)

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And finally the comic, which I have yet to read.  But it is the original telling of Superman’s origin, as far as I can tell.  64 pages…back in the day, they knew how to do it right!

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Here are a couple of final pics, with comments.

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Classic Superman is just that.  No long hair from the 1990’s.  No blue jeans from the New 52.  Not the animated version.  Actually, maybe the Christopher Reeves version.  Because he represents actually the most iconic version of the character.  I love the detail of the cape blowing behind him!  As with other POP! figures, the only articulation is at the neck.  He feels nice in your hands, and looks good on your shelf.  That’s about it.

The keychain…

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Basically the same figure, but only an inch, and huge head with undersized body.  There is no articulation here.  He is currently on my keyring, but it seems a shame for him to stay in my pocket.  I believe I will hand him on my bag beside Buttercup!

I can’t be anything but thankful to the SpartanWife for her gift, which will ensure I have something every two months to blog about!  I rate this box at 4/5…only because last month had a variety of characters, but this one was all Superman.  But I really like Superman, so that isn’t much to complain about!  The only complaint I can have is the shirt is just about the cheapest material that can be had…It isn’t warm at all, and it is just very thin stuff.  Before the day was over it took a pic from a cat’s claw.

So how do you rate the DC Legion of Collectors box (March 2017)?  Let me know in the comments!

Loyal Subjects Blind Box Masters of the Universe…SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review

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He-Man.org indicated that these were coming to Wal-Mart, and on that very same day I went to investigate, only to find that they only had Transformers and Power Rangers Blind Boxes by the Loyal Subjects.  I don’t live near Wal-Mart, nor do I like going there.  So it was another two weeks before I went back to look again.  And there it was.  I got the second figure from the case!  Why not more?  This little box has a steep price of $12.95!

The box is very nice.  It has a shiny treatment, that isn’t foil.  Instead, it is just…slick and shiny.  It makes the images of the figures and characters really pop!  There is a Filmation Castle Grayskull motif to the box as well.  And MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE is plastered all over the box.  It is nice to see the brand on store shelves again!

Let’t talk blind bag/blind box.

I have bought so many Magic the Gathering Booster packs, that I am done.  I am only buying the singles I want, unless the packs come with some other product.  (Think Planeswalker Packs, or Fat Packs.)  Other than that, the only way I am opeing a pack is if I draft it or win it.  That’s because you get burned so often.  And there is no telling what’s inside.  Blind Boxes/bags have the same problem.

I’ve only opened one Blind Bag/Box for myself in my adult life, and I did it for the school children.  It was a Nina Turtles Mega Block Mini Figure.  I gave them all a speech about how the picture shows lots of different characters, and kind of gets your hopes up.  But then when you open it, it won’t be what you wanted, probably.  I told them that my favorite was Donatello, but I was OK if it was someone else.  We also discussed the rare and chase figures that it could be, and how those are ways that the company gets you to buy more.  My turtle turned out to be Michaelangelo.  And now he sits on top of my white board.

So this is the second Blind Box/Bag I am opening.  Do I hope it’s He-Man or Skeletor? Certainly!  Do I hope it is a special rare flocked red Beastman.  Heck Yeah!  But realisitcally, I expect it to be something else.

The box is so nice, I decided to open it carefully. I intend to display the figure atop the box!

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Inside the box was a foil bag.  This is the second layer of security to keep prying eyes out!  The house doesn’t win if you know what figure you are getting.

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Here is what was inside!  Tri-Clops!

I don’t own Masters of the Universe Classics Tri-Clops…(who does?)  But I do own my vintage one still.  But I won’t be showing you that.  He is in WAY AWFUL shape.  his visor is busted off, so only the top layer remains, making him look eyeless but with some kind of deranged hat.

A little talk about Tri-Clops.  As a kid, I played with Tri-Clops all the time.  He was SO FUN. The eyes spinning thing was AWESOME!  But his sword was the other big thing.  Everyone knew this was the coolest sword in MOTU.  He-Man’s sword was shorter and lacking in detail compared to Tri-Clops.  And when I couldn’t find He-Man’s, and didn’t want to use Prince Adam’s LAME pink sword, I would use Tri-Clops sword in its place.

This fully posable vinyl figure comes with a miniature copy of that same sword!

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I am trying a new tactic in photographing Tri-Clops.  I am using the “Crafs Man”s method of having a trash can as a diffuser.  Great results!  You can see Tri-Clops very good here.This is just about as vanilla a pose as I can get you.

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You can see the holster on the back of the removable armor.  This removes just like you would expect, but you have to pop off his head.

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Tri-Clops spinning eyes works really well.  Not as loose as the vintage, but still pretty cool.  You can see he IS fully articulated.  As a two-and-a-half inch figure, it is pretty incredible how much articulation they got into him!  Ankles that swivel, hip-thigh joints, torso swivel, jointed arms, swivel wrist with hands that can hold weapons, and head on a ball joint.

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Most vinyl figures around my house are of the “Funko” philosophy.  Not much articulation.  Tri-Clops takes pointers from a different line of figures, I think.

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These Sonic guys, who I really like to photograph, have all of the same articulation points as Tri-Clops.  And are the same size, but not muscular, of course.

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I DO have the Tri-Clops sword that came in the MOTUC weapons pack.  The sword that isn’t painted green, but is painted like a traditional sword.  I thought it would be cool to see Tri-Clops hold it.

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He is larger than Mega-Bloks or Lego mini-figures.

But smaller than MOTUC figures.

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So what does the SpartanNerd rate the Loyal Subjects Blind Box Masters of the Universe Mini Vinyl Tri-Clops?

I think there is some “Masters of the Universe” fan tax added to the price.  I think this item is worth $12.95 on a blister card.  But not as a blind bag.  If I bought three more of these, I could have three more Tri-Clops.  That’s a bummer.  I don’t even want one more copy.  The one I opened here is enough.  And this is enough deterrent for people who collect stuff.

The product though is terrific.  These vinyl figures do real justice to their source material.  I have to complain about just a little bit of paint slop on the back of his furry shorts.  But otherwise, he has excellent features, and you feel like you are playing with a miniature Tri-Clops.  (you are, actually.

So I am going to rate the Loyal Subjects Masters of the Universe Blind Box Mini at 3/5.  This would have been a 4/5 if it was carded, and 5/5 if there wasn’t any paint slop.

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

 

Ajani Planeswalker Pack…SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review

Ajani, Valiant Protector is the foil for Tezzeret, Master of Metal as far as intro decks go for Aether Revolt.  I unboxed Tezzeret, and just felt I needed Ajani to complete the duel.

Ajani’s deck came in the exact same packaging as the other Planeswalker Packs have.  It is a printed sleeve, which covers plastic tray with a display window.

All the contents are actually inside a deckbox, (an excellent deckbox, by the way.)  The only piece that isn’t is the “splashy” planeswalker card.  Environmentally concerned MTG players can feel pretty good about the minimal use of packaging with these decks.

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Here is the entire contents.  The special Ajani, Valiant Protector card, a guide to playing the deck, a quick reference guide, two Aether Revolt booster packs, the nice deckbox, and the deck wrapped in cellophane.

Let’s have a look at the planeswalker.

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Right away I can tell you that this card isn’t as good as Tezzeret’s.  Tezzeret can reach ultimate after three turns.  It is going to take a lot longer for Ajani.  The upside is, getting two +1/+1 counters on a creature is not shabby at all.  His +1 ability lets you filter up your creatures. If you do happen to get to ultimate, you probably win.

The guide to playing the deck heavily features pictures of Ajani.  You also get a decklist.  And something I failed to mention about Tezzeret’s deck.  This insert kind of tells players what to purchase next if they really like playing MTG.

The Planeswalker Packs are great entry level products.  The only way they could really improve the experience is include sleeves…or even better.  Go ahead and sleeve the cards, so a person can crack the box and play in a tournament right away!  Pre-shuffle it even.

Here are the cards…

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It’s pretty clear that Ajani’s deck is supposed to depend on the Revolt mechanic.  Basically something canhappen if a permanent left the battlefield this turn.  In other words, the deck wants you to be able to bounce, sacrifice, or give up permanents.  But if you study the cards carefully, you will see tbat there aren’t that many ways to trigger revolt outside of losing permanents in combat.  There are a few exceptions…but not really enough in my opinion.

But am I getting ahead of myself?

There are a few cards that you can’t get anywhere else besides buying this product.  Ajani’s Aid is a big one.  And enchantment that lets you tutor Ajani out of the your deck or your graveyard.  (Hang onto that thought!)  You can sacrifice it to prevent damage from a singular creature.   Ajani’s Comrade is another, which gets a counter if you control a planeswalker called Ajani.  (Opening this card up to the other versions of Ajani out there.  Goldmane, Caller of the Pride, Mentor of Heroes, Steadfast, and Vengeant.  Did I miss one?)  Inspiring Roar is another card exclusive to this deck.  AND that card is indispensible for keeping the power level up against Tezzeret.  (Which is why there are four copies I’m sure.)  The other card is the white and green tapland.

This deck really only has one removal spell.  The classic, “Prey Upon.”  Everything you do in the deck depends on combat, pretty much.

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How does the deck play?  It is a weak white-weenie deck.  The creatures are typically slow.  While Narnham Renegade could be good in Modern if you cracked a fetchland on turn one, most of them aren’t that great.  They want Revolt to trigger, which usually means you have to wait until Main Phase 2 after you lost something in combat.  Which is a bad deal, typically for a deck whose card advantage rests almost entirely on the battlefield.

So, nope.  This deck isn’t as impressive, or effective as Tezzeret’s.

Planeswalker that isn’t as good.  Strategy that isn’t as good.  Let’s prove it!

Here is the showdown between the two decks, as promised.

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Round one.  SpartanKid (Tezzeret) vs. SpartanNerd (Ajani).

(Let’s keep in mind, that Tezzeret’s deck has Fatal Push and Tezzeret the Schemer added to it, which is fair because they were pulled from the boosters that came with the deck.  But this also means that his deck is 62 cards.  I could have added two cards from Ajani’s boosters, but I thought they were too skunky.)

Basically, Tezzeret only drew Islands for lands, giving Ajani the opportunity to get Narnham Renegade onboard and hit them over and over with Inspiring Roar.  Yes.  Three copies.

Round two.

This time Ajani’s deck began with three forests and drew into a fixer.  So a much slower start, made very clear as Tezzeret began to get things on the board.  Ajani loses round two to dumb luck.  The same way Tezzeret lost round one.  I held Solemn Recruit in my opening hand, who requires two whites to play.

Round three.  This is why we play the game of Magic!

Basically, Tezzeret, Master of Metal hit the board right on turn six.  It was another three turns before I drew into Ajani.  I played my Ajani, to a board where I had three creatures, including Solemn Recruit.  I +2 Ajani, knowing that Solemn Recruit has double strike, and would get ANOTHER counter because of revolt triggering.  This was my strategy to win!

Unfortunately, the SpartanKid had drawn Tezzeeret the Schemer, and went ahead to ultimate Tezzeret Master of Metal.  This meant he took control of all of my artifacts and creatures.  And then proceeded to swing at Ajani.  Keep in mind that Solemn Recruit still had summoning sickness.

I drew the best card I could have drawn in this situation.  Ajani’s aid.  I had enough mana to play that card, as well as replay Ajani, who I then +1 into nothing really. (Narnham Renegade) The SpartanKid then unwisely sent all of his creatures at Ajani once again.  I chump-blocked the biggest thing I could with my deathtoucher, and Ajani hit the graveyard again.  But my next draw was the second copy of Ajani’s aid.  Still, there was too much momentum going for the SpartanKid.  I sacrificed both of the Ajani’s aid for the prevent combat damage effect on the double striker, but that wan’t enough to stave off a loss.

Just some commentary.  Sure, this proves the Tezzeret deck is better.  But the way that I was able to get Recurrance out of Ajani, that was fun.  And that is why this is a great product for a new player.  I failed to mention…Tezzeret also got one tutor back out of the graveyard as well along the course of the matches.

I am going to rate the Ajani Planeswalker Deck from Aether Revolt a 4/5.  It is a fun deck to play.  You get an almost perfect entry level MTG product.  You get exclusive cards.  I took the point off because it doesn’t seem to be that balanced against Tezzeret from Aether Revolt.  If I had to choose one of these to take to a tournament, it would certainly be Tezzeret.

The SpartanNerd rates Ajani’s Planeswalker Pack 4/5.  Do you agree or disagree?  Let me know in the comments!