SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review…Eldritch Moon Fat Pack

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True story.  I attended the Eldritch Moon pre-release.  It was my hope to score a Liliana, the Last Hope.  I did not during that event.

The LGS (The Tangled Web in Spartanburg,) does random rolls for the losers.  I was one of those losers!  I won an extra pack.  My wife picked me up, and I opened it on the way home, and what was in that pack?  Not only a Liliana, but a FOIL LILIANA.

At the time, that card was worth over $100.  Now it is hovering around $70.  But hey, that was fun!

My most recent problem has been storage.  I didn’t buy a fat pack box for Shadows Over Innistrad.  Instead, I purchased a booster box.  That box has held all of my cards from that set.  It is a flimsy box, but serves its purpose…the problem is I have a fat pack box from every expansion set since Return to Ravnica.  So….

Making the problem worse, I decided with Eldritch Moon that I wouldn’t get any boosters I didn’t draft or obtain in sealed products.  My Shadows Over Innistrad box was a real stinker, and just about swore me off of booster packs.  (The only legendary creature I got was The Gitrog Monster.  And I got no planeswalkers.)  So I have been storing my Eldritch Moon cards in Pre-Release boxes…which have eventually become inadequate.

I also swore off the “Fat Pack” back during Theros block.  Fat Packs come with a ton of lands.  I have a giant box of lands!  I started finding the Fat Pack boxes here and there.  Sometimes the Tangled Web sells them for $5.  Sometimes people don’t want them and donate them to whoever wants one.  And this is how I have come to get half of the Fat Pack storage boxes that I have.

But recently, my land collection has been dwindling.  The SpartanKid has been making lots of decks.  And that’s great.  So I needed the box.  I needed the land.  I like Liliana alot.  So I went ahead and shelled out the money.

Notably, this is the final Fat Pack I will get to unbox and review.  From Kaladesh forward, the basically same product is called “Bundle Box” or similar.  (It is a better storage box, too!)

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The Players Guide.  I almost forgot about this important piece.  The players guide fills the player in on the story, and has a catalog of all of the cards availiable in the set.  Here are some pictures.  Actually, when I removed the cellophane, the package fell apart, and this fell out into the floor, giving me a sudden reminder.

This time the guide takes a moment to explain the “meld” cards.  Basically you get to pair two cards with meld instructions together to make an oversized card.  The most notable is the combination of Bruna and Gisela, sister angels who become Eldrazi-ed up and combined into Brisela.

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The sleeve for the box unfolds to make this poster.  Which is really nice.  Especially since it depicts the SpartanNerd Liliana.

The storage box looks like this…

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These boxes are pretty good.  Sometimes if they get overstuffed, cards on the ends can be damaged.  I use these Fat Pack boxes to store my common and uncommon cards.  I keep all my rares sleeved in binders.  (Incidently, I organize my cards by CMC, grouped by name, alphabetically.  Is that excessive?)

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Here is the package contents.  The only thing I am not showing you is the cardboard spacers that helped the package maintain its girth.  You can see the deck boxes.  The Spindown Counter.  The stack of lands.  And the nine booster packs.

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These deck boxes are good for a sixty card deck without sleeves.  Good art.  But I have said repeatedly that the Wizards could do better.  And they have proven it by giving us better boxes in some other products.  (Duel Deck Anthology, Chandra and Nissa Planeswalker packs, Commander decks, and Planeschase decks.)

At least it has Liliana on one!  (The other is Emrakul)

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The only way this spindown counter could be better is…I guess this is as good as they get, besides my lucky one with a skull on it from “Graveborn.”

img_9457Here are the lands I assured you I would get.  And YIPPEE.  Checklist cards.  I needed more of those too.  (not)

img_9458Now for the MAIN EVENT.  Nine (9) booster packs.  I wonder what they will contain?  Here is alot of hopefulness.  Liliana is the most expensive card in this set..about $40 for a regular printing.  Emrakul is second place, at around $15.  Thalia is worth about $5.00, but is expected to go up.  Tamiyo is worth about $10. Gisela is worth $10. Not much else of value in this set.  So what did I get?

NONE OF THE ABOVE.

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About $7.20 (TCG Median) worth of value.  The most valuable card I pulled was Summary Dismissal, which exiles the cards on the stack.  It will never be a Remand, at four-drop.  The two foils I got were not worth more than fifty cents combined.

In short.  This box was a stinker.  Adding everything up gets you about $17.20.  The Fat Pack costed $4o, so….

Now it could have gone the other way, of course.  I could have had a TON of Lilianas.  Fat Packs are supposedly even more randomized than Booster Boxes.

But it didn’t.  I gambled, and lost.

Is the product worth it?  Now I have an Eldritch Moon box that matches the size of all my others.  It is making me want to seek out and find a Shadows Over Innistrad Fat Pack Box.  SO there’s that.  It has great arwork depicting Liliana.  We haven’t had that since…I guess we had it in Origins, and in the first Innistrad block.  But this is the one I now own.

The guide…all of that information is available on the internet.  The lands and checklist.  Meh.  My boosters were lame.  So…

This Eldritch Moon Fat Pack gets a D+.  It could be a higher score if I pulled better cards.  (you CAN pull up to three rares and mythics from a pack if Eldritch Moon and Shadows Over Innistrad packs….the regular rare.  A foil.  And a double-sided.  But none of this happened for me this time!)

The SpartanNerd is going to rate his Eldritch Moon Fat Pack at 2/5.  The box is the best part.

 

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

SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review…Guided By Nature Commander Deck

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So on with the real cards…

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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Here is the full decklist from the poster.

HOW DOES GUIDED BY NATURE PLAY OUT?

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the deck list for each deck.

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

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

OK ALREADY.  LETS UNWRAP SOME CARDS!

First, Ajani’s deck.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nicol Bolas’ deck

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So who’s better?  Playing the decks

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

DID THE SPARTANNERD GET A GOOD DEAL.

Here is what some of my readers is asking.

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

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

So I’m at $16…

Lightning Helix will get you about $6.00.

So I’m at $21…

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review…Star Wars Black Series Darth Maul (Chinese Version)

Once again, a blog entry about an item from the Hickory-Con!

I have been looking for Star Wars Black Darth Maul for some time.  And while I was at the Con, I was looking for figures and noticed almost NO Masters of the Universe Classics figures.  However, Star Wars Black Series was everywhere.  And I asked around until I found him.

Darth Maul is my favorite Sith Lord besides Anakin/Vader.  I have mentioned before, I am PARTIAL TO the prequel trilogy.  And Darth Maul was good enough to make all of Jar Jar Binks’ problems in The Phantom Menace into small details.

This figure was on the top shelf…right beside another.  This one was marked $30 and had “Chinese Version” labeled on it.  The other was marked $95.  They were virtually identical.  So which one did I get?

 

Notice..There is no way on Earth to tell this might not be the genuine article.  (The general consensus on the internet is that this is a near perfect bootleg copy.)  There is no chinese writing…the figure looks exactly like “the original” “American (not really)” version.

I am the guy who throws away the boxes.  Do I care?  I am a cheapskate.  Paying $30 for a perfect copy of Star Wars Black Darth Maul doesn’t bother me one bit.  That was an extra $60 I had left to spend on other stuff!

The box is slightly different than a genuine Star Wars Black box.  The Star Wars logo is a little off in color.  But the back showcases Darth Maul’s only line in “The Phantom Menace”

 

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So I ripped open the box.  Everything was in this blister.  I could tell that lightsaber was bent already…

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Here is Darth Maul standing for the first time with his accessories.  He has two lightsabers, Star Wars classic binocular system, and an alternate head.  Notice how incredibly bent the lightsaber is.

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Darth Maul can hold the binocular thing in one hand.  He cannot use both hands to hold it to his eyes, as he is too bulky.  The sculpt is amazing.  This plastic robe drapes over the figure perfectly, and he forever has a wind blown look.

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It is really hard to make Darth Maul hold the saber wth two hands in “I’m about to off Anakin Skywalker” mode.  The lightsaber doesn’t want to stay together, and his bulkiness keeps his arms from gripping it properly.

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Now you CAN remove the robe, supposedly by removing the head from the ball joint…it turns out though, that the bootleg version (if that is what this is) doesn’t have the head glued to the cape.  So Darth Maul has a second, bald head.  I must say, the Spikor effect happens when you try putting the head on the ball joint.  (The spikes hurt your hands.)  The other thing…Darth Maul’s neck seems to be a little awkward.  Just a little.

So enough playing dress up.  Let’s get down to business.

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Darth Maul continues to impress as far as his sculpt is concerned.  Some soft goods are visible as a part of his skirt.  This really adds to the figure, as it allows him to move his legs better.  The lightsaber…you see what’s going on.  The hilts connect together, but the only way to get them to do so stiffly is to make the buttons face in opposite directions…which seems it shouldn’t be.  The red blades suffer from being bent.  I might have to get the hair dryer after them…

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I tried putting the cloak on some other figures…Skeletor seemed to be a natural, but I thought it likely to fit Teela.  It actually doesn’t fit either.  Skeletor is too big.  Teela…it doesn’t fit right even with the hair chopped off the way I customized her.

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I found YouTube videos of people pointing out the differences between the genuine and the knock-off version of Darth Maul.  They all said the same thing.  This must be made from a batch of declined figures because of QC, or using tools that were discarded, or something.  The sculpt is perfect.  The paint here is right on the money, except for maybe the horns.  Reportedly, there is a different neck joint and different hip joints.  The neck joint seems a little obvious, but since we are not looking up his skirt…

I am going to rate this based on what it is as a figure.  An excellent Darth Maul figure.  The best I’ve ever owned.  It does have problems with the Lightsabers.  So I have to take off for that.  Darth Maul is articulated very well.  Sculpted and painted near perfectly.  Stands on his own.  Looks good on the shelf.  I have to award him a 4/5!

And as bootlegs go, there couldn’t be a more perfect item to purchase as the not-so genuine product.

So the SpartanNerd rates Star Wars Black Series Darth Maul (Chinese Version) 4/5.  Do you agree or disagree?  Let me know in the comments!

 

SpartanNerd…Vintage Cards Opening

So, at the Hickory-con I picked up several vintage booster packs.  I am going to start with the Magic the Gathering pack from “Fallen Empires.”  I paid $5 for an eight card pack.  NO RARES.  I believe this to be a re-pack.  Maybe not, though, after reading up on Fallen Empires.  From what I gather from the internet, Hymn to Tourache is the best card in the set, and I opened it…

I had the Homarid and the Homarid Warrior already.  Goblin Churigeon also.  But I got a cool land and the Hymn to Tourache.  meh.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cards!  These are from the first cartoon show, 1989-mid nineties-ish.  Actually, these cards chronicle the first seven episodes of the cartoon, which even in my adult memory I remember being INCREDIBLE.  (The foot soldiers were worthy foes even as robots.  The turtles just barely thumped them in later episodes and they would explode, so it seemed.)  You can see the gum was still intact!  There is a puzzle piece here too, which you could collect and make a big picture.  I remember having these as a child, but seeing them in the wax pack there, I knew I just had to have them.  The backs just give a little synopsis of what the front portrays.

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The MAIN EVENT.  These are the ones that caught my eye first.  The seller had about five more packs…but at $6.00…These cards are basically the same as the Ninja Turtles cards.  But the gum was melted to the back of one of the cards.  😦   By the way.  Don’t try and eat that gum.  The MOTU trading cards are interesting because they have a mix of ways they portray the characters.  For instance, the “Like Father, Like Daughter” title card depicts Sorceress armor Teela, but the episode shows Filmation art.  The sticker art depicts box art from the toys.  Who drew that He-Man on the front of the wax pack?

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And finally, The Simpsons cards.  I definitely remember getting these from a teacher at church…he used trading cards as his classroom management technique.  He was always careful we didn’t get cards that had curse words on them…but I knew they were out there because I bought my own packs.  My parents didn’t like me (and my brothers) watching The Simpsons because of the profanity and the bad influence of Bart Simpson.  These cards really capture those early days of the show, where Bart and his misbehavior seemed to be the focus of the show  The sticker (with Bart in army gear) has Bart writing “Krusty the Clown is not God” on the chalkboard a hundred times.  Homer Simpson calling Bart a Smart@$$ is on one of the cards.  These, and the Ninja Turtles cards, were the ones I remember from my childhood.  I don’t have a memory of the Masters of the Universe cards though.

SpartanNerd…Early Thoughts on Planeswalker Packs.

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

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

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

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

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

en78skld   e96swa5

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

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

The problem with this of course is this…

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

But SpartanNerd, She will be at 7 loyalty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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