Masters of the Universe Hot Wheels and Matchbox- SpartanNerd’s Collection

Here is the most recent “toy-etic” Hot wheels set. Only He-Man and Teela seem to be possibly real-life cars. The others are patently ridiculous. But a kid would really enjoy them, and they roll very fast…faster and smoother than I remember Hot Wheels did when I was a kid.

I got these in a box set for really cheap off of Amazon. This might be the third time I opened it.

While these are cool, and certainly identifiable as the character they represent, This isn’t what I want the most out of Hot Wheels. This is what I want!

And we only have these three so far. I thought really hard about getting the Comic Con two pack that included a tiny He-Man and Skeletor, but I didn’t really want it for the price, when these were on the Wal-Mart shelves for $5 or $6.

They need to come out with one of these for each and every vehicle…guess who would buy them all? The SpartanNerd would, that’s who! Do you know that we haven’t had an Attak Trak in FOREVER. In any form. There was going to be one in the Mega Construx Advent Calendar last year, but look what happened there…

Most of my collection isn’t as extravagant. I will list these in order from oldest to newest.

You can see I got these at Big Lots, and I got them right around the time the 200x property was winding down. Each comes with a post that I have been tempted to open, but NAH. It is that little picture you see beside the blue burst.

I picked these up in the past five years. The cards were in pretty bad shape when I got them. I know there were more in this line because their is an eight back on the reverse side. Could these be real cars? It seems like they are. There is a brand, title, and model year beside the vehicle.

Why did they choose these specific vehicles is a question I ask myself more recently, as I have been playing Gran Tourismo 7, and you can edit the “livery” of your cars. (If I ever figure out how to do Masters of the Universe graphics, I will share here!)

I picked up He-Man, Skeletor, and Teela at Ingles Grocery Store. I got Evil-Lyn at the Barnyard Flea Market. All within the same six months. But Beast Man was elusive. I went to conventions, toy stores, flea markets. I couldn’t find him. It seems that Hot Wheels collectors go after Volkswagens. And then you have the MOTU collectors going after Beast Man, and this created a bottleneck. When I ordered the most recent Mega Construx, I ordered it along with them for a steep price. All in the name of completion…

I mention above that I wonder why they chose the cars they picked for each character car design. I don’t know, but at Ingles right now on peg they have Superman, who is the same Mercedes Unimog truck. So either it is the heroes get this truck, or maybe it is the graphics.

I am in no way an MOTU die cast car completionist, but there IS one out there I am still looking for. It is a box truck with the simple Masters of the Universe logo on the side. I saw it somewhere for $10, and didn’t pick it up. (Oh I should have…). So now this is what I am on the lookout for.

I really enjoy looking at my Hot Wheels/Matchbox collection. How about you, Hub City Geeks? Let me know in the comments!

Selesnya Guild Kit…Guilds of Ravnica…SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review

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I am continuing my series of reviews on the Guilds of Ravnica Guild Kits.  So far  have reviewed the Dimir and Golgari Guild Kits.  This week I will review the Selesnya guild kit.

The front of the box is another window box, this time featuring a foil alternate art of Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice.  You can see the Selesnya pin at the bottom of the box.  (This pin looks especially snazzy…The tree looks professional and eye catching.)

The back of the box has three pics that show off some of the product, and some information…and in bold…KNOW THAT YOU FIGHT WITH THE MIGHT OF LIFE UNITED!

In the story of the city-plane of Ravnica, there are ten guilds.  The Selesnya Conclave  (Green and White) are about working together for the greater good.  These cards are known to produce tokens quickly…lots of small creatures that work together to summon larger creatures or do other effects.  They also use musical terminology.  Like the word “Chorus”

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The box opens and a transparent tray slides out…this is useless packaging, by the way, for all the effort that went into it.  Here’s what you see.

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And here are the contents loosed.

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You get, from left to right in a circle…the deck, a “pamphlet” with information and artwork about the guild, as well as the all important decklist, a Selesnya pin, a Selesnya symbol sticker, a deckbox, and the foil featured card.

Here is a closer look at the pamphlet.

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I am especially fond of Tolsimir Wolfblood.  That is a pretty painting.

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The inside of the pamphlet contains a poetic and flavorful description of the guild, and also the decklist.

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Here is a look at Trostani.

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The important word here is POPULATE.  Populate means you can copy a crature token by paying that price, one colorless, one green, and one white.  Trostani would make a great commander.  But she is going to get jammed into Atraxa commander decks.

So what other cards are there?

Here are some pics, with commentary about the most important cards.

First, the rares.

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I am not real familiar with some of these cards.  I have a few of them, but have never played them competitively or causally.  But there is one standout here that I have seen across the table…Privileged Position.  Other permanents you control have HEXPROOF.

So…Black doesn’t easily get rid of enchantments…I generally play black…so guess what this means?  The person I was playing against that had this card whipped me bad!  My kill spells were useless.

I suppose I should mention Glare of Subdual and Growing Ranks.  Growing Ranks produces a copy of a token at every upkeep.  8/8 Grove of the Guardian token with Vigialance…No problem…Have two!  But it is Glare of Subdual that is backbreaking.  Your opponent works hard to build a big crature base, and other stuff.  But you can just tap your saprolings or other creatures, and tap down their big stuff in response to moving to combat…You can really frustrate some opponents this way.

Next, the tokens.  Double sided!  One side Saprolings.  The other…different other creatures.  Centaurs are sort of iconic for Green and White.

 

Next the common and uncommon creatures.

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Not bad.  I have sided Dryad Militant in a few times when playing White Weenie.

The lands.  Four Selesnya Guildgates…duals that enter tapped, Selesnya Sanctuary, Duals that enter tapped AND require you to return another land to your hand, with the upside of producing one of each color when you finally get to tap it.  And last…GREEN AND White GUILD LANDS.  (Awesome.)

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As I said in my last two reviews.  The wizards should have reprinted four copies of the shock lands here.  Or at least included one copy.  They wouldn’t even have broken the market.  Those lands are worth about $8.00 apiece.  And they are needed in Modern, and currently legal in Standard.

The last pics of the cards are of the other spells.

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Everything here is functional.  But not outstanding.  I am a fan of the charms.  Selesnya Signet and the other signets are the best “mana rocks” generally available…(I mean Sol RIng and Black Lotus are better…arguably…Lions Eye Diamond…But those are a different game than Kitchen Table “Guild Kit”)

 

 

PLAYING THE DECK

This deck’s record at the SpartanNerd house.

Dimir Guild Kit.  (two wins)

Golgari Guild Kit (One Win)

Jace (V. Chandra) duel deck (Two Wins)

Face the Hydra challenge deck.  (One win, One loss)

Defeat a God challenge deck. (one win)

Ajani (Vs. Nicol Bolas) Duel deck.  (One win, One Loss.)

The Selesnya Deck is selling at some online stores for 50+ dollars.  And the secret is Priveledged Position.  Some people are buying this deck just for that card.  It was a much needed re-print, and was around $25…(That value has tanked because of the reprint about 50%) . And why?  You resolve that card…all those tokens you have get hexproof.  No fun for your opponents except for when they force you to sacrifice, or when they can match you in battle.  The Hydra challenge deck thing…that is what it is…it starts off with creatures before the game even begins.  But the combo of quality, efficient cratures, plus token generators, plus populate, plus convoke, plus Priveledged Position…the odds are against other casual decks winning.

But it is th las match that is of the most interest…Ajani’s deck is mostly the same colors with a splash of red.  We found this to be a terrific match-up!

SPARTANNERD’S RATING OF THE SELESNYA GUILD KIT.

This deck is amazing as a preconstructed product.  BUT…it doesn’t seem to be balanced well against the other decks in the Guild Kit series…at least the other two I own.  Which takes the fun out of that Battle Box idea, doesn’t it.

The deckbox is the same as the Dimir and Golgari boxes.  Basic card-board with a top loader design.  Nothing great, but it can hold sleeved cards plus the tokens.

I rate this one a 4/5 only because of its seeming unbalance.  It is great to get a great pre-constructed deck, though.

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

 

(Remember, the SpartanNerd is gauging whether or not to let SpartanNerd.Com go dark, or not.  You feedback is valuable!  So far, I think I am hanging on.)

 

 

Golgari Guild Kit…Guilds of Ravnica…SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review

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I am continuing my series of reviews on the Guilds of Ravnica Guild Kits.  Last week I reviewed the Dimir set.  This week I will review the Golgari.

The front of the box is another window box, this time featuring a foil alternate art of Izoni, Thousand Eyes.  You can see the Golgari pin at the bottom of the box.

The back of the box has three pics that show off some of the product, and some information…and in bold…Let your foes fear the wrath of the underworld.

In the story of the city-plane of Ravnica, there are ten guilds.  The Golgari guild is all about the synergy of life and death.  (Green and Black.) . There are cards about rot and fertilizer and decay.  And cards that show how life is born from this process.  It is the home of insects and gorgons and zombies…and similar.

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The box opens and a transparent tray slides out…this is useless packaging, by the way, for all the effort that went into it.  Here’s what you see.

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And here ate the contents loosed.

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You get, from left to right in a circle…the deck, with the incredible Deathrite Shaman on top, a “pamphlet” with information and artwork about the guild, as well as the all important decklist, a Golgari pin (NICE!), a Golgari symbol sticker, a deckbox, and the foil featured card.

Here is a closer look at the pamphlet.

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The decklist.  SO HANDY.  I know I will be borrowing Abrupt Decay, Golgari Charm, Deathrite Shaman, and so many other of these cards in the future.

Here is a picture of Izoni, Thousand-Eyed, which is big enough for you to read.  AND I feel this art is better than the regular art.  You can see some of Izoni’s figure.

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The Undergrowth ability is OK in decks that load their graveyard easily.  In Standard right now this isn’t that hard with Stitcher’s Supplier, a one-drop zombie that makes you mill cards when he enters the battlefield or when he dies.  (But this isn’t a Standard Deck, and Stitcher’s Supplier is in a different set.)

Izoni might make a good commander, or at least fit well in Maren, Nel Toth’s deck.  (A deck that cares about your creatures dying.)

So what other cards are there?

Here are some pics, with commentary about the most important cards.

First, the rares.

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And I knew all of these cards!  Deathrite Shaman…so abusable he is banned in Modern.  Lotleth Troll…discard cards to pump him.  And he can be regenerated.  Savvra…she wants you to sacrifice your stuff for advantages…and Jaraad, Lich Lord…you can get him back easily from the graveyard.  Abrupt Decay.  At one time the best removal in Modern that wasn’t white.  AND when Tiny Leaders was a thing, this card skyrocketed in price.   And Deadbridge Chant…a card that looks like a creature but is actually an enchantment.

The amount of rares here is impressive, with three of them being additional Green and Black commanders if you want to try and build it…or just awesome things to add to Maren.

Next, the tokens.  Double sided!  One side insects.  The other saprolings.

Next the common and uncommon creatures.

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Also an impressive lineup, with little repetition.  I particularly like Plaguecrafter…who beats Fleshbag Marauder because he also causes players to discard a card.  And good old Stinkweed Imp.  Dredge 5 is broken.

The lands.  Four Golgari Guildgates…duals that enter tapped, Golgari Rot Farm, Duals that enter tapped AND require you to return another land to your hand, with the upside of producing one of each color when you finally get to tap it.  And last…GREEN AND BLACK GUILD LANDS.  (Awesome.)

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As I said in my last review.  The wizards should have reprinted four copies of the shock lands here.  Or at least included one copy.  They wouldn’t even have broken the market.  Those lands are worth about $8.00 apiece.  And they are needed in Modern, and currently legal in Standard.

The last pics of the cards are of the other spells.

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Golgari Charm and Treasured find are the awesome cards here.  Treasured find.  Get whatever card you want back out of the graveyard and put it in your hand.  Golgari Charm does three things at instant speed, and all of them are good.

PLAYING THE DECK

This deck’s record at the SpartanNerd house.

The Minotaur Horde challenge deck.  (One win)

Face the Hydra challenge deck.  (One win, One loss)

Defeat a God challenge deck. (one win)

Dimir Guild Kit deck.  (three losses.  But two of them were close.)

What does this say?  It is a pretty good deck.  In all of these, I don’t believe I have ever resolved Izoni.  Savvra was pretty good, and Jaraad is always good.

The deck has slowness issues because of the bad interaction between bounce lands and guldgates.

Abrupt Decay is a star!!!  And so is Deathrite Shaman.

SPARTANNERD’S RATING OF THE GOLGARI GUILD KIT.

I think it is terrific.  I am a fan of the color combination.  I like the reprints of the legendaries.  You know I felt that Dimir was kind of trying to do to many different things at once.  But this deck wants to attack, attack, attack.  And if something dies, it is probably good news because it will be back, or serve some use.

The deckbox is the same as the Dimir one.  Basic card-board with a top loader design.  Nothing great, but it can hold sleeved cards plus the tokens.

I rate this one a 4/5.  Mostly because of the slowness problem.  And it isn’t even that big a deal here, but there is a Boros one out there…that is where it is going to matter.  Red White just wants speed.  (But I am not reviewing that one…at least yet.)

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

 

(Remember, the SpartanNerd is gauging whether or not to let SpartanNerd.Com go dark, or not.  You feedback is valuable!)

 

 

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!

Goblins Vs. Merfolk Duel Decks…SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review

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At this point, my favorite sealed MTG product seems to be Duel Decks.  I own a ton of them.  And the only ones that I haven’t purchased since I began getting serious about the game are Mind vs. Might, the one released earlier this year.  That one was widely panned, and I couldn’t get excited about a Storm deck vs. a Beatdown deck.***

But Merfold vs. Goblins.  That’s different.  First of all, Elves vs. Goblins is incredible fun.  What made that so successful was not only the intense tribal flavor, but also the gameply, where you really felt like you were piloting an army of elves vs an army of goblins.  Merfolk Vs. Goblins seemed positioned to do the same thing.  Does it?  Keep reading for my full review!

PACKAGING.

The box comes in the same kind of box that Duel Decks have been released in for awhile. It makes a nice display.  (pictured above)  Not sure why you would keep it MIB, but it looks like a sell-able product.  This box shows off the flashy foil rares.  The back of the box has good information.  I think this is to really sell the product to new players.

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The box isn’t easy to open and get the product out.  (unlike Commander boxes.)

I opened mine before a draft tournament.  So I took hasty pictures on the Tangled Web table sized playmats

Here’s what’s in that package.

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The main product is sealed in two trays that make up the bulk of the box.  THis is covered by a plastic blister that shows off the foil rares.  Behind the tray is the Quick Reference, a guide to playing the decks, and the two new boxes intended for each deck.

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Here are those deck boxes assembled.  Notably, these boxes are big enough to hold SLEEVED CARDS.  (Can you hear the SpartanNerd crying tears of joy?)  Virtually all of the other duel decks we have ever gotten have come with pretty “poker card” type of boxes.  The exception was the Duel Decks anthology.

These boxes still leave a little to be desired, but that they can hold sleeved cards is BIG.  The wizards apparently took cues from the design of the Nicol Bolas Archenemy set.  These are also side loaders, but they have the janky folding flap that tucks into the main box.  However, there is a slot for easy opening.  The boxes have art on them reflecting what they are intended to hold, and they also feature the set symbol on the other side, which the SpartanKid pointed out is a trident and an axe head combined.  After saying all of this, these boxes are still made of thin cardboard…thinner and cheaper than what the actual cards are made of.  And they couldn’t possibly stand up to heavy use if a person decided to say, carry around this box to alot of tournaments.  (Sleeving out the cards fills them to the max.  There is enough room for 60 cards plus the tokens in Dragon Shields, but you wouldn’t be able to carry a full sideboard.)

But if you are like me, and your duel decks stay together resting in an organized fashion, waiting to see some light play, then these boxes are just fine.

The other things…the quick reference guide is a must include, as this product will definitely find its way into the hands of beginning players.  This isn’t an intro deck, but new players are bound to be drawn into purchasing these at the low price point.  (Mine was $19.99 at the Tangled Web.)

The poster features nice artwork, and importantly, a DECKLIST.  (The last sealed product I opened for the SpartanNerd blog didn’t include a decklist. BOO.)  I keep my decklists all in one place for when I inventory my cards about three times a year.  (Occasionally I might borrow a card from a pre-con deck for Standard, Modern, or Commander.)

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You get two life counter dice, and that’s about it for the packaging.

THE DECKS.

Longtime Hub City Geeks will know that that SpartanNerd is running out of photo space on WordPress.  So I have minimized my pictures a little.  Here are the decks with the flashy rare cards.

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Warren Instigator.  This one wasn’t on my radar.  This is how you get alot of Goblins on the field, and trigger Enters the Battlefield effects.  Oh yeah.  DOUBLE STRIKE.  You Get TWO triggers.  Sick.  This is one of the sets money cards.  This foil printing is already worth around $5.

Goblin Diplomats.  This showcases the funnyness of the Goblin deck.  And they are hilarious.

Master of Waves.  Here is one from my favorite THEROS BLOCK.  Master of Waves is a BEAST.  in the Merfolk deck, you will definitely have a ton of devotion to blue, and so will get a bunch of elementals when he enters the battlefield.  And this new art makes it look like he’s been working out!

Harbinger of the Tides.  And iconic merfolk that is removal on a stick.  Amazing.

So I am going to show you a mat full of the strategy of each deck, starting with Merfolk.

MERFOLK

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Merfolk in Modern is a strategy that depends on lords, which are creatures that give others of the same type +1/+1,  and Islandwalk, which is a type of evasion.

The Merfolk deck here highlights this by including three merfolk lords.  If you get all three out, you win.  (But the odds are against you.)  The evasion piece here is Aquatech’s Will, which is a busted spell that makes an opponent’s land into an island (in addition to its other types) and also lets you draw a card.  There are FOUR COPIES in this deck!  That’s how important it is.  One of our lords, Master of the Pearl Trident, gives all merfolk you control islandwalk.

What else is here?  Some iconic merfolk.  In addition to Master of Waves, we also get Cold Eyed Selkie, who is big in Commander.  We get Scroll Thief, who would be an automatic inclusion into any merfolk deck, and is an important core set type of MTG card.  Harbinger of the Tides.  And Tidebinder Mage, who was important a few years ago in standard.  (M13-Innistraad-Return to Ravnica-M14 Standard).

Then this is a blue deck, so it also has plenty of control.  Notably here is Essence Scatter, because you KNOW your opponent is going to cast creature spells in this duel deck environment.  Concentrate and Misdirection, which are classics.  Tidal Wave, which gives you a quick, big blocker, and Engulf the Shore which is a sweeper.

GOBLINS

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It’s hard to put your finger on the strategy of goblins.  There is a randomness to it, that finds success anyway.  And they are also always pretty much hilarious.  In this deck, you want to build up a critical mass of goblins before the merfolk are able to get out their evasive lords.  So board presence is the key, rather than evasion.

There aren’t that many goblin lords, but they are still about spiritually the same.  Goblin Wardriver has Battle Cry, which means whenever he attacks, other attacking cratures get +1/+0.  Goblin Chieftain is a goblin lord.  Goblin Rabblemaster makes goblin tokens with haste everytime you get a combat stage.  (Rabblemaster was important in Khans block).

Other ways to get out tokens?  Krenko, Mob boss makes a ton of goblins if left unchecked. Goblin Ringleader lets you get goblin cards in your hand.  (Tribal instants and sorceries count as goblins!)  Also, when paired with Warren Instigator, this is just incredible.

Blue has control, but red has burn of course!  Very notable here is Goblin Grenade.  (This card wasn’t in the first Goblin Duel Deck.  It wasn’t a thing yet.)  Goblin Diplomats makes the merfolks swing into a bunch of goblins that can black and eat them up.  Tarfire, the aforementioned tribal instant which was in the previous duel deck, as was Gempalm Incinerator.  I haven’t got to see the Goblin Razerunners do his thing yet.  (I have played seven matches.  He seems busted though, as a goblin burn spell on a stick.)  Tokens are so important here that we have four token producing spells.  (Three copies of Krenko’s COmmand and one copy of Hordeling Outburst.)

Goblin Charbelcher.  Ahh.  The Eternal Masters art.  With Black Lotus among other things flying out of the cannon.  The way this works is, you pay to activate it, then reveal your cards until you hit a land.  The number of card revealedis the amount of damage assigned to target creature of player.  Now out there in the world, there is a Modern and a Legacy version of this strategy as a whole deck.  Basically, you will build a deck with only a single land, probably Stomping Ground.  You build up your mana base using Simian Spirit Guides and borderposts, or other fast mana tricks, and then you activate the cannon and reveal all of your cards.  Hopefully at least twenty damage is sent to your opponents face!  But here, you will probably only get a few damage ponts in as the deck has a bunch of lands.  But it is a flavorful and important inclusion.  This is reliable removal that the merfolk deck can’t stop.

Ghostfire.  A colorless burn spell that costs two generic and a mountain.  Why?  I think the wizards just wanted to reprint it.  But it is handy against something like Master of Waves, which has protection from red.  This card is important also historically, as it gave the wizards inspiration for the cards with DEVOID in the recent Battle for Innistraad block.

HOW THE DECKS PLAY OUT.

So far, the Goblins beat the Merfolk most of the time.  These decks are INCREDIBLY balanced against one another if both players hit a land drop every turn and play a spell every turn.  The experience here is not unlike Elves Vs. Goblins.  You just about have the same experience.  While the Elves work differently, trying to power out big green monsters, the Merfolk work organically together to create evasion and hit the opponent hard.  The Goblins work about the same as the previous decks, with the new tricks of Goblin Charbelcher, Goblin Grenade, and Goblin Rabblemaster.  DIfferent bosses, with the same strategy of go wide and do whatever it takes to damage the opponent.

It is pretty much hilarious when someone gets Master of Waves out and gets a huge board presence, only to suddenly lose it to Ghostfire or Goblin Charbelcher.  On the other hand, it is humorous to make the Goblins have a Mountain Island and then hit them hard with islandwalkers.  Also, the Merfolk get that sweeper spell, which does away with the tokens.  It also wipes their board, but they don’t rely on creature tokens as a base strategy the way Goblins do.  (I really think Master of Waves is here for the new players.  He is splashy and flashy and fun.  But another merfolk lord would have been better.  Or a devastating artifact along the lines of the charbelcher.)

THE SPARTANNERD’S RATING OF DUEL DECKS: MEFOLK VS. GOBLINS.

Maybe you think I’m a fanboy.  But I’m giving this a 5/5.  The WIzards must be listening.  They improved the deckboxes and included a decklist.  Mind Vs. Might was poorly received because it was considered unbalanced, and therefore unfun.  This set is the opposite.  So the Wizards ARE LISTENING.

The SpartanNerd rates Merfolk Vs. Goblins a 5/5.  Do you agree or disagree?  Let me know in the comments, oh Hub City Geeks!.

 

***I eventually DID pick up the “Mind Vs. Might” Duel Decjs.  As told by everyone else, one there is no balance at all.  One deck gets early advantage and then pancakes the other.  However, notable that each deck contained ten rares, and also the storage boxes are of the same design we have with Merfolk Vs. Goblins.  Incidentally, I got mine for $8 off of TCGplayer!  I am going to piece these out, and am excited about making a commander deck with the blue/red legendary.

 

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!