SpartanNerd Review…Mega Construx Slime Pit

Back two years ago, when I decided to begin collecting the Mega Construx Masters of the universe, I frantically searched to find everything I could. But the hardest thing to get was this guy.

I’m talking about Battle Bones…Not the Wind Raider. (You can frequently still find the WR in stores.)

When building the Battle Bones (a San Diego Comic Con item), I couldn’t help but think, “They could re-purpose this head into a Slime Pit.). And I thought surely they would.

But that’s not what we got. Keep reading to see my experience!

We got a Skeletor Head Slime Pit.

Now this was an unexpected idea. I suppose I was thinking larger. But in scale, I guess this makes sense in context to the scale and size of Grayskull. But not in respect to the vintage toy, but in respect of the size of the Mega Construx minifigs. On the other hand, the Talon Fighter dwarfs this.

This Skeletor head is the same mold as the others, only this time in slime green. The picture on the package shows us Horde Zombie He-Man, and also the Slime Pit. At first I thought the green behind the mouth was a wall, but I realized that it was just the hollow inside of the Skeletor head. I kind of wish that was different. That it was a proper wall. Oh well! We are talking about something that costs less than $10. And I could build that wall if I really want to.

When you get the package off, this is what you see. The gray brick will be the floor. Here is the instructions with something else in there.

Here are all of the contents. I am thinking, “He-Man must be in the bag with the green stuff, with some other slimy pieces.” Nice extras, you know.

So I opened the instructions next.

It turns out that something extra in the instructions was rubbery slime pieces. The only slime that came with this set. BOO! Here are all of the pieces separated out. This is what I must do when I open a building set. Set them all out, sort them by type and color. But there aren’t many pieces with this Skeletor Head. The package said 70 pieces, but each minifig is around 20 pieces. (When I counted, I counted 73 when including the head and the floor. Am I wrong, Hub City Geeks?)

This is a cool, green slime He-Man. As I assembled, I couldn’t help but think about The Green Goddess, who apparently shattered when people opened her MOTUC package.

No extra slime pieces here. And here is the second thing I would improve about this set. There should be more “sliminess” to it. It isn’t even very gross. I remember the toy as a child really freaking out my mother. And she took that slime away from us and we never got to play with it. (Hope you are reading this now, Mom.). I believe this should have come with more things to make it even more gross-out. Maybe a can of slime. Or just more rubbery pieces. Or even green pieces. OH WELL.

Now on to the assembly. Let me preface this by saying that I prefer building LEGO’s to any other bricks like Mega Blocks/Construx. I have put together plenty of the different kinds over the years between the SpartanNerd and the Spartan Kids. Lego bricks have aesthetic principles and roundly stick to a certain vision of kid friendliness and pop sensibilities. (SpartanNerd takes a bow for that sentence!) It isn’t like Mega Construx doesn’t have this, but the Lego thing never does anything that involves winging a piece on a stud, or other questionable hi-jinx that might compromise the structural integrity or even make a more difficult build. The Mega Construx I suppose is aimed at an older audience, so I guess older customers might not even care. But who am I mostly writing this blog to?

It also is notable that LEGO doesn’t even acknowledge their competition. But right on Mattel’s website, you can see where people post their customs and proudly give the formulas, which mix the Mega Construx blocks with Lego, Kreo, and other brands. It is like Lego is the more serious “fun” brand. And Mega Construx is us casual fans. I just wanted to say this first and get it out of the way. I knew going into this I would encounter some things that feel questionable or are nonintuitive. (I built the largest set ever- Castle Grayskull. I know very well what I might see.)

BACK TO THE BUILD

We build the bottom first.

It began as I expected. Build the bottom first. These red pieces make me wish there was more red here. The Slime Pit is partially a Horde thing. Black, gray, and red are their thing. And with the bone pieces, you really evoke Hordak. (See an upcoming post!)

This connection is one of those that felt kind of janky. But after I snapped them together, it remained firm.

And here it is. Step 9. Notice how the four studs don’t line up with the five. This strictly seems to be the kind of thing Mega Construx does that Lego doesn’t seem to do. The solution works out in the end, but it just seems wrong when you are building it. That piece on top with the two studs and then the three studs is also an unusual piece.

Here are the drawn-on eyes. Tampograft I suppose. I remember when I did the Battle Bones eyes, and the Talon Fighter’s eyes, the eyes just kind of emerged from the build. This is a cheap trick, though. Yes…I know. >$10.

See those pieces that are at the nose? These are the stuff of nightmares sometimes. This time no drama. But when I did the Battle Bones and other sets, it seems like they would flick off, be backwards or hard to tell what to do from the instructions. Also, notice here that one has a different angle than the other. How are we supposed to know which to use? I figured it out, with the instrutions and all. But what if I lose the instructions? What if it is a kid building this? (What would happen would be I would help my kids build it, and then about an hour later all of the pieces would be mixed in to a giant bucket.

Here is the finished product.

I definitely see how I can improve this set. It isn’t terrible, and it is clear what is going on here. But could it have been better? Absolutely. “Horde Zombie He-Man” or “Slime Pit He-Man” is actually kind of obscure, being found only in like one mini-comic, but Mattel has made him ubiquitous as a toy in recent years. He is translucent green. Who doesn’t like that? But the rest of this set. I just feel underwhelmed. I actually said to my kid “I am thinking about getting a few more of these to add the slime pieces. And I could strip down the He-Man figures to make other zombies.”

Here are two other Skeletor Head sets to compare this to. I have them all, but these two are in the most presentable condition. And I’ll tell you why they are better!

He-Man and the Jet Sled. What wasn’t great about this? It completely captures what the original toy was. It even came with the exclusive blue armor. Placing it on a propeller at the top of Skeletor’s head makes for a goofy gimmick, but it makes good use of the real estate, and you can display your Jet Sled flying. I give it a 5/5. NEXT!

Here is something I don’t remember having as a child. But check out the diorama piece that this is! I don’t know why they chose to do Zodac this way. I would have rather had the 200x Zodak, especially since we got a Zodac with the Talon Fighter. (An astute MOTU fan will know the difference!). I guess he looks like he is wearing a scuba mask all the time anyway. Still, I enjoy the diorama. There is fun to be had here. I don’t remember this toy as a child, but it perfectly encapsulates the adventure. I will give this one a 4/5 really only because there aren’t more water features in this line.

But I feel I can only give the Slime Pit a 3/5. It is good to get the green He-Man. But the Slime Pit leaves much to be desired. It isn’t gross enough. MORE SLIME. The build has some weakness to it. I had pictured something like that Battle Bones head on a mighty horror movie wall, perhaps with some green pieces to replicate slime if not a rubber puddle or even actual slime. Instead, we get this sort of soul -less offering.

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

SpartanNerd…Catching Up…

Has it really been three years since I posted anything?

This means that throughout Corona…throughout the last several MTG releases…Throughout the ending of MOTUC and the new Masters of the Universe lines that have come out. I have written zilch.

Well, it isn’t because I stopped being nerdy. Believe it or not, online teaching and also attending classes took all of my energy out for this project.

So here’s a few new things that have happened.

Masters of the Universe.– As the Classics line ended, I began to realize I just didn’t have enough space anymore. MOTUC items are pretty large. And I got lots of joy especially from my He-Man and Battlecat and also Skeletor and Panthor. But also the Griffin was one of my favorites. Vikor. But some of the others…I decided I could part with them. And then I decided when I saw the price I could fetch to go ahead and sell my core items. All I have left is Vikor and my custom Battleground Teela. I sold it all in May 2020. For $600. I use that money to re-invest in MOTU Mega Construx. I have the Castle Grayskull and basically every item they have released in that line. A downsize in square footage, it is easier to get these just by walking into a store. There are other advantages.

Sorry about the backdrop-less pic. This is a very large item. Kitchen table will have to do.

I decided early on that the MOTU Origins figures look too crappy…I don’t like the colors. And the Masterverse figures on first reveal, I thought “That He-Man looks “gutsy.” Meaning, the way the belt is that pale color yellow, it blends in too well with He-Man’s skin color on his belly. It looks like he has a gut. The other figures, the one that came out with the new CGI Anime line, do not appeal to me at all. I hear fans (Scott Neitlich) accepting what is going on apologetically, that this line is meant to appeal to the kids. But kids just don’t watch the cartoons anymore. Trust me. I know. Middle school teacher. So they are messing around with beloved source material and creating something “corrupt.”

I have picked up some of the MOTU Minis, and the Hot Wheels.

Magic the Gathering- For something that took up so much of my life and my children’s time, this has become a much rarer treat. Since the COVID-19 lockdowns, there haven’t been as many tournaments. We pretty much decided that SpellTable pretty much stinks. Arena isn’t a strong alternative. Now some tournaments have returned, but we have to drive a long way to get to them. Mostly these are Commander League events. And we haven’t really paid into the leagues on account we can’t reliably attend. Just the same, we have played EDH some. But the thrill of the old Modern tournaments is gone. I have done a few drafts and sealed. But it is doubtful that we will go and draft Double Masters II this weekend. That is $50 or more. To play maybe three rounds. Which I will have to drive a distance to get to … meaning I can’t stay out late in my old age driving home sleepy.

Oh yes…Secret Lair. At first I bought it all. I bought the super bundle…the one with the cats and the goblins. The Walking Dead. After awhile, I realized that this isn’t sustainable for me. They have churned out so many Secret Lairs, each with an enticing value usually, but then if you start adding all that up, you better be rich if you are a completist. I figure the Wizards/Hasbro weren’t achieving their bread and butter anymore on packs because people stopped playing. And Commander is so popular, but you can play virtually any cards you can find competitively even, that they had to capitalize on that crowd the best they could by dangling lots of shiny, pretty, artsy, and seemingly charitable carrots in front of them. So I certainly had to start pacing myself on this one. The last one I got was the Dracula one. I got my kid the pixel art lands. These things…they take forever to arrive. All the shipping delays and production delays that have plagued the past couple of years…Which brings me to the next big one.

Playstation 5. I got the money together for this…in fact some of the money from my MOTUC collection, plus some gifts, etc. I had the funds in hand right before Christmas 2020. And went to buy it, only to find…THERE WERE NONE. ANYWHERE. When did I finally get mine? OCTOBER 2021. Used! I am grateful…it has performed like a champ! You wouldn’t know. It didn’t come with a proper stand, so I had to get a third party one, which was supposed to charge the controllers and add extra fan-power. But none of that seems to be working. Still, it stands very well. The best two games for me have been Horizon: Zero Dawn, Horizon: Forbidden West, and Gran Tourismo. But I have lots more games. Spider-Man, Terraria, Mortal Kombat. I paid for the streaming services, but haven’t hardly used them…which brings me to

DISNEY+. Since this launched, I bundled with HULU (Which I already watched) and this has been what I have watched on TV. I have hung on to NetFlix for Stranger Things and Masters of the Universe: Revelation. (More on that on a different day.). The Mandalorian has been a terrific show! Obi Wan was pretty good. The Book of Boba Fett might as well have been season 3 of the Mandalorian. I haven’t watched anything else much on the service, though.

Comics- I have moved back into collecting these. I picked up IDW’s “Best of” TMNT books. I am looking to get a frame to display them in.

I have been collecting all of the IDW Transformers books…this was actually how I got back into collecting comics. IDW decided to reboot the franchise, and I felt it was a good “jumping in” place. Highlights of this have been “Shattered Glass” and “King Grimlock.” The main story kind of meandered a little bit. I was introduced to a bunch of characters I didn’t know or had forgotten. I also got into “Beast Wars”… which was admittedly NOT MY CARTOON. Unfortunately, IDW passed on the license, and all of these stories have come to a wrap up, which has seemed very rushed. But my love of getting the covers and important/valuable books has become rooted again. I collected up all of the “Batman/Catwoman” story, got back into Spider-Man and Ghost Rider. But I have dropped DC for the most part. In fact, almost everything they have been publishing in any form is tripe that panders to anyone except the classic fan. I thought “The Batman” was a much slower slog than it needed to be. My next problem is the amount of room this hobby is taking up…

Gundam- I built my first Master Grade…EW EPYON. I am still applying decals. But this has been a terrific project! I eill post pictures when I finish.

It is good to be coming back to the blogosphere…an I hope to have a review tomorrow!

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony…SpartanNerd’s Music Review

          Nothing could taint the experience of finally seeing the Ninth Symphony performed live!  The Spartanburg Philharmonic absolutely nailed it…It may be the highest art Spartanburg has ever experienced, and this is an artsy place.  Worries about three of my students who didn’t arrive couldn’t scar it.  Neither the hazardous weather; neither the annoying synthetic buzz of the speakers in Twitchell Auditorium at Converse College: neither the horrible parking situation or record crowd audience.  No.  Beethoven’s music transcended it all.  This is a piece that I have purchased several times over the years, the first of which when I was sixteen years old and had my family scratching their heads.  A piece that I have taught about since my career began with glowing reverence.  A piece that I have never seen performed except in odd snips and pieces, and never with singers.
          The program started with the unconnected Modern piece, Charles Ives’ “The Unanswered Question,” which provided a point of variety and contrast, and set the stage for conductor Stefan Sanders’ remarks about the nature of life…the What, How, When, Why, and Where of life.  This piece has a pretty and controlled strings component, and “questioners” who played from the balcony, disconnected from the rest of the players, and playing with differing keys and tempos.  He explained that Beethoven strived to give us the answer that Charles Ives was also looking for with his greatest and final symphony.  He described the first movement as having an urgency, the second movement as a type of demonic dance, the third movement a tribute to love, and the fourth movement all about brotherly love.  I personally have always given deeper explanations of each movement…more technical ones.  But Mr. Sanders let his orchestra do the talking…
          As the first movement began, the straight sounds of open violin strings, the droning of the winds, the feeling of the orchestra being tuned, (a revolutionary idea in the great master’s day), the power of it all was too much for me.  My heart began to race and, yes, I began to cry.  How many times have I just sat and listened to recording of big-name orchestras?  How many rides from college back to Pacolet have I let this play?  (Yes.  Years ago.). I remember listening to this to go and pick up a pet rabbit with one of my sons, and I explained each movement and what was going on to him.  All of this crashed down on me at once.  To me the Spartanburg Philharmonic’s rendition was devastating, powerful, and unashamed to make statements in every way.  And the tempo that they played it in was perfect, not dragging at all.  And as annoying as that droning synthetic speaker sound in that room was, It was completely washed away by the raw strength of the orchestra.
          During the break between the first and second movements, you could hear a torrential downpour as a storm raged outside.  This was God smiling at us as we listened…the second movement evokes a tempest, and this heavy rain made a perfect backdrop.  As I listened, I noticed how perfectly balanced this orchestra is.  I have a few recordings that sometimes when I listen to, and feel like the recording or the players don’t sound as spot on as they could.  We had good seats for this concert…it’s true.  But the orchestra itself was pristine.  Never all night was there a single time that a horn was too loud, a section overpowering, or even a drum too tight.  I mention that I have never seen the Ninth Symphony performed live before, but I HAVE seen this movement performed a few times.  But the Spartanburg Philharmonic brought the greatest performance tonight.
          As there was another break before the third movement, something odd happened that I didn’t understand until later.  Four singers entered the stage and took a seat at the front.  For this event, the choir that was to sing the Chorale at the end was seated onstage for everyone to see.  But these four entered and took a seat up front, undoubtedly the soloists who would sing in the final movement.  And suddenly I had a slight panic.  There was to be no singing until the fourth movement?  Were they skipping the third movement? (Blasphemy!). No.  Nothing like that at all.  I felt my tension ease as the orchestra began to play the prettiest part of the the Ninth Symphony, the Pastoral movement.  I do enjoy the melody of this part…it reminds me of some of Beethoven’s other work.  But I will be the first to tell you as a teacher that this is also the least exciting part of the whole work.  After listening to the thing several times, you know the real treat is in the fourth movement, and sometimes it feels like some of the extended phrases and sections of the third movement are hoops Beethoven has you jump through to keep you anxious for the end.  The orchestra delivered this movement nicely, and then…
          So why did those singers come onstage so early?  Mr. Sanders had about a fifteen second break in between the third and fourth movement.  I don’t even think the players rested their instrument or turned pages.  He froze in place, as many times I have done in conducting different groups…and then, with more electricity than the raging storm outside, the fourth movement began, and I jumped to the edge of my seat!  And so the conversation began between the low strings and the rest of the orchestra, and it is like every single note is stamped on my soul.  I look over at the cellists and bassists at the right, and then back at the other players on the left, anticipating and reveling in it all.  Beethoven wrote this when he was COMPLETELY DEAF!  And the classic themes of the three movements before, Orchestra Tuning, Thunderstorm, and Pastoral are all shot down, and then the low players begin to play the hymn of the ages, the Ode to Joy, and the rest of the orchestra follows suit.  Then on cue.  My kinsmen, the singers, they all stand in one accord at the right moment…the same electric music that made me sit up in my chair had me moving again as they all sprang into action.  I was pleasantly surprised to hear that wonderful bass singer singing the classic German text as we hear the conversation yet again, with words.  And how did this great chorus sound?  I was worried about the balance.  But it was sparkling and as pure as the greatest recording I have ever listened to.  And did I mention that I was glad to hear them singing in German?  My wife, sitting beside me the whole time, elbowed me in the side during the Turkish March and asked me if I was alright, and I realized again that I was crying.  The quartet delivered part beautifully, and when It was time for the rest of the chorus to come in with those notes…the ones with the droning trumpet…the notes that let you know a cathartic moment is upon you, it was ecstatic.  And the coda section of the piece, (should we really call it that?). This terrific group made it the greatest “mad dash” of all time.  Literally, the second that it was over, the audience roared in applause and stood to its feet.  The clapping went on for…five minutes?  And then it kept going!  Of course there wouldn’t be an encore, not after all that.  But what a rush!
          Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was the closing performance of the 2018-2019 orchestra season for the Spartanburg Philharmonic.  I want more.  Our city needs more.  Please keep this happening Spartanburg!

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!)

 

 

Guilds of Ravnica Dimir Guild Kit…SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review

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I picked this up at my favorite comic book and games store, The Tangled Web in Spartanburg, SC.  The Tangled Web is the only non-big-box store where you can buy stuff like this in Spartanburg.

Some of the story about this product.  In case you didn’t know, there are five colors of Magic.  On Ravnica, a sprawling city world, there are ten different “guilds” that make up the society.  These translate into two colors for each guild.  So Dimir is one of those guilds, and happens to be Blue and Black.  The Dimir guild is made up of assassins, mobsters, ninja-types, and generally unsavory, seedy people.  In MTG, Blue is the color of drawing cards and control decks.  Black is the color of the evil stuff like zombies and demons and vampires…general horror…including killing things.  So the Dimir guild should be multi-talented at winning you games.

The box is adorned with the Dimir Signet…a spidery symbol.  the back of the box has some very general information, and features the two cards with new art treatment, and a picture of the new Dimir Swamp basic land.

Lets dig in and see what is in the box!

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Once you remove the box, you see this double blister package.  Opening that, you can remove the contents.

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You get…(from left to right)…a “pamplet” about the Dimir guild and decklist, a Dimir themed deckbox, a Dimir themed life counter dice, a nice Dimir pin, a Dimir sticker, the deck, and the premium foil Etrata, the Silencer with alternate art.  (the same on display at the front of the unopened box).

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The Dimir booklet features mostly flavor.  You would have to decode that in order to understand it.  Perfect for a group of spies!  Here is the decklist.  If you read my other MTG reviews, you know I care very much that they include this specific item.  Sure, you can find the contents on the web.  But your collection doesn’t seem complete without a decklist.  Furthermore, it can be handy to have when you organize your stuff.  (The SpartanNerd is anal about keeping his stuff organized.)

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The other side of that features Murko Vosk.  He is a particularly potent vampire.

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I’d like to talk about this deckbox a little bit.  It is just flimsy cardboard.  But thankfully they made it big enough to accomodate sleeved cards.  This is a huge improvement only added fairly recently.  I think the first deck they did that with was the Mind vs. Might Duel Deck, which also used the deckbox formation of the Planechase Anthology.  The lid features a little recess where you can open it easily.  One thing that is different is that this box stands upright.  But that is positive, because people will be collecting these and building “battle boxes,” a sort of Cube where you make these guild kits into duel decks for casual play.

They have made a more solid plastic deckbox for each of the Guilds of Ravnica decks.  But purchasing that is just extra bling for the player who is into that.  This deckbox is perfectly fine!

Lets have a good look at Etrata.

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She can’t be blocked.  You have to shuffle her into your library when she deals combat damage.  On damage, she removes target creature, and the player gets a hit counter.  Three hit counters, and that player loses the game.

This is a great and powerful card.  It hasn’t quite made it in Standard or Modern yet for competitive purposes.  It is very powerful with Helm of the Host, which makes a non-legendary copy that has haste.  Which basically means the turn afterward, if the player has a board presence, then they lose the game if they can’t remove Etrata.

But this deck only has one of this card…really only one of each card in general.  (there are a couple of exceptions.) . And Helm of the Host is from Dominaria, so it isn’t here!

So what’s in the deck.  Here a pictures of the cards, and I am going to point out the most significant cards.  First of all, most of the rares.

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Nightveil Specter is a personal favorite of mine.  I took my first top-8 playing Mono-Black devotion back in Return to Ravnica/Theros block, and this card was a key piece.

Lazaav, the Mastermind is one of SpartanKid’s favorites.  Making him a copy of something nasty is always a hit.

Consuming Aberration.  This is a great card in mill strategies.

Mission Briefing.  This is a new card…a Snapcaster Mage spell that lets you Surveil.  (Surveil is like Scry, but you can keep the cards on top of the deck or send them to the graveyard. where they are more useful or at least out of your way.)

The other legendaries are also pretty scary.  Szazadek, Lord of Secrets gets really big.  Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker makes your opponent mill cards from the top of their library everytime he hits them.

Next up, Tokens.  Double Sided.  (YES!)

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The same flpped over…

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These horror tokens are for Call of the Nightwing, a pretty cool card that creates flying blockers.

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This was the biggest, coolest surprise.  Special Dimir flavored basic Islands and Swamps!  These are fetching a decent price after-market, and are expected to go up!

The Dimir Guildgate sucks.  Dimir Aquaduct…some people love it and some people dislike it.  The Wizards could have given us four copies of Dimir flavored Watery Grave…

Next some creatures

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The best of these is either the Dimir Guildmage or the Moroii.  Dinrova Horror was a hit with Modern Masters Draft.  True story.  I kept looking for this card and was at pack three.  I opened a foil Damnation, which happened to have Dinrova Horror as well.  So I took the foil card.  And then someone killed me with Dinrova Horror.  Good times!

Here are the spells.

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I mean, you might want to Dredge…The deck wants some graveyard.  Surveil is nice…Notion Rain is sort of like Sign in Blood with Surveil attached.  Call of the Nightwing…Syncopate…This is all pretty useful stuff.  And is on flavor with Dimir.  The Dimir Charm…the charms were all pretty good cards.  Dimir Signet.  The Signets are one of the best “mana rocks” the Wizards ever printed.

Playing the Deck

This deck has a little bit of trouble deciding what it wants to do.  I really believe  it wants to mill the opponent.  You are stealing their stuff with Nightveil Specter.  You are getting big stuff like Consuming Aberration and Szasedek.  So it has control . It has evasion.  It has big beaters.  It likes the graveyard.  It wants to mill out your opponent.

That’s a lot of wants.

And yet, at the SpartanNerd house, it has mostly wins.  It beat the Jace (vs. Chandra) duel deck.  It beat the Journey Into Nyx and Face the Hydra challenge decks.  It beat the Second Sun Control deck.  Yet it lost to the Galgori Guild Kit deck.  (A review of that coming later.)

So it has been tested some.  If I have a complaint, it is that bouncelands and guildgates are terrible together.  Your guildgate enters tapped.  Your bounceland makes you return a land to your hand.  If your opening hand has a Dimir Aqueduct and a Dimir Guildgate in it, you might just consider mulliganning.  Because sprirtually, you have no lands.

SpartanNerd’s Rating

Strengths of the deck.  It is a good casual deck.  Lots of flavor.  A good deckbox.  Double sided tokens.  Interesting Guild Kit lands.  A collection of Dimir legendaries, each of which you can use to make a commander deck.

Weaknesses.  This deck can be inconsistent.  And the mana base is really slow.  I’d venture that this deck could stand up in a Modern tournament…if you swapped the Dimir Aqueducts and the Dimir Guildgates for fetches and shocks.  It still would need some more control elements, or mill elements.  Or graveyard elements….you see what I mean.  It is lacking in identity as far as strategy.

So, the SpartanNerd rates the Guilds of Ravnica Dimir Guild Kit a 4 of 5.  If the other guild kits are built the same way, they will make a great balanced Battle Box.  And like I said…it could be fitted for Modern.  (It might not be competitive, but it could work for an FNM.)

Do you agree or disagree, Hub City Geeks?  Leave me a comment of message.  I am writing this review as a part of my decision to return to writing review articles (or not.) . Feedback, please!!!!