“Breed Lethality” Commander 2016…SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review

FOUR COLORS.

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

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

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

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

Well anyway.  Here’s my review!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So…On with a review of the cards!

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First of all, here are the generals.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Playing the Deck

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Modern Masters 2017…SpartanNerd Experience

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

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

How did I fare?

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

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

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

So what rares did I pull?

The notable ones were.

Marsh Flats

Gifts Ungiven

Linvala, Keeper of Silence

Griselbrand

Cavern of Souls

Goblin Guide

Abrupt Decay

Zur the Enchanter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ajani Planeswalker Pack…SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review

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

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

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

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

Let’s have a look at the planeswalker.

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

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

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

Here are the cards…

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

But am I getting ahead of myself?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Round two.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Tezzeret Planeswalker Pack…SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review

Aether Revolt snuck up on me this time.  I wasn’t able to attend the pre-release, but did draft on release weekend.  I went to the draft “cold turkey,” having not researched any of the cards.  Believe it or not, I drafted two “Fatal Push,” probably the most important card released in the entire set.  In case you didn’t know, “Fatal Push” is a one-drop instant black kill spell.  A card that is bound to be useful in Modern, as the only cards that have filled that role until this point have been Path to Exile and Lightning Bolt.

I went through all that, hanging out at the Tangled Web all afternoon, and I never even saw the new Planeswalker decks.  Maybe they were there…maybe they were sold out?  The first time I even had a clue that such a thing had released was when I saw it at Wal-Mart.  I snatched up Tezzeret, and here was my experience.

The Tezzeret Planeswalker Pack came in the same style of packaging as the Nissa and Chandra Planeswalker Packs from Kaledesh.  Aether Revolt takes place on the same plane, (is actually an expansion of the set Kaledesh,) and so this deck adds more to the entire experience of the block.  Tezzeret is obviously foreshadowing the upcoming “Amonkhet” set, which is going to heavily feature the great villain of Magic the Gathering, Nicol Bolas.  (Tezzeret has been something of a henchman for Bolas, along with Sarkahn, at least as far as I understand.)

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Not pictured is the plastic case that is the main part of the packaging.  It forms a nifty little tray…I just haven’t figured out how to use it yet.  The contents of the box are really in this  deck box, which prominently features Tezzeret, Master of Metal for its art.  This is the same style of box that Nissa and Chandra came with, and it is a great little box to carry sleeved cards in.  I personally think the Wizards are hitting a homerun when they make these Planeswalker Packs.  New players want planewalker cards, rare cards, and new players want to feel like they fit in when they come to a tournament.  Most tournament players have fancy deckboxes, etc.  So this is an all around great product for the new player.  The only thing lacking is actual sleeves.

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Here are all of the contents.  Two packs of Aether Revolt.  One foil Tezzeret, Master of Metal (which can’t be acquired officially any other way than opening this product.)  The deck sealed in cellophane wrap.  And two pieces of paper.  One is the guide to playing the deck.  The other is the Magic the Gathering Quick Reference Guide.  If any Wizards product should include the Quick Reference Guide, it is the Planeswalker Packs.

Let’s have a look at this splashy card.

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Tezzeret is the strongest Intro Pack planeswalker I have seen.  His +1 ability could be a game changer.  It is so-so in this deck, but imagine a deck where there were four copies of some incredible artifact.  (Here’s a list.  Platinum Angel.  Sword of Feast and Famine.  Elbrus the Binding Blade.  Black Lotus.  Need I say more?)  Tezzeret can plus up and get that in your hand!  And all the extra cards you overturned?  You just shuffle them and put them on the bottom without consequence!

To -3 Tezzeret on what is likely turn five or six won’t be that great.

But the bottom -8 ability is bonkers.  And because the +1 ability, and the starting loyalty is 5, it’s not even that hard ultimate Tezzeret.  And then it’s GG.

What else is here?

The guide to playing the deck is a big pretty poster, featuring Tezzeret and giving us some story.  We also get the decklist, in case we modify the deck, or want to keep it together.  This information is available online, in case you lose it however.

So what cards are here?

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There are some cards here that are exclusinve to this set.  These are Standard Legal, too, incidentally.  They are Submerged Boneyard (the blue and black tap land), Pendulum of Patterns (four copies), Tezzeret’s Simulicrum (which gets a bonus if you control any Tezzeret Planeswalker), and Tezzeret’s Betrayal which lets you kill something and tutor Tezzeret Master of Metal.

I’m a fan of decks like this because the cards have lots of value built in.  Many of the artifacts here have card-draw effects attached to them.  Notable, when Treasure Keeper dies, you get to cascade!  Because tricks like this are built in, Tezzeret doesn’t have to rely so much on cards like Reverse Engineer.

Another feature of the deck is Tezzeret’s Touch.  This card is reminiscent of Ensoul Artifact from M15…a card that made the “death scissors” a fringe winning strategy during the Kahns of Tarkir period.  This card has an advantage on that one, though, in that it has the ability to return the artifact to your hand if it gets destroyed.

The creatures in this deck are value-types.  Tezzeret’s Simulicrum is just good stuff.  And even better if you have a Tezzeret on the board.  (Lightning Bolt every turn.  Ouch!)  Augmenting Automaton has the classic pump ability built in.  I will say that I don’t get much out of Improvise as a mechanic.  It is just bad Convoke.  Most artifacts have “tap to activate ability.”  If you tap them to pay for a ridiculous creature, then you just lost value.

How does it play out?  Well, this deck really works!  I have yet to test it against the other Planeswalker Pack, Ajani.  And I think that will be the true test.  So far the deck has taken out the SpartanKid’s Tron deck, BUT, he did have a bad draw.

I suppose this time I will let you in on what I pulled from the booster packs.  Prepare to be JEALOUS.

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Yep.  The other Tezzeret!  And ANOTHER copy of Fatal Push to go with the other two I drafted.  (How is it that I drafted 2?  I opened one in my first pack.  First pack first pick.  In second pack, the player to my left must have pulled an incredible rare, because they passed me my second one!)

It might be early to rate this deck because I haven’t played it that much.  However, I suspect I will be rating it a 5/5.  Like I said, this is my style of deck, with lots of tricks.  And it is black and blue, two of my personal best colors.

I will update my rating after I get my hands on the Ajani deck, and have them play each other!

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!

Planechase Anthology…SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review

From now on, I am going to title what product I am reviewing before the ever prevalent “SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review”.  I fear people can’t see what I am unboxing on the index page…One more thing…this is my 300th post!  (I have deleted 13 posts in the past.  Making #287 actually #300!)

I have heaped praises on the “Duel Decks Anthology.”  Rightly so.  Of all of the decks I own, I get more use out of having those decks just ready made, ready to play, and having them handy in that box.  It plays like its own board game.  It was a reprint of valuable cards, Demonic Tutor and Ancestral Vision, AND Akroma Angel of Wrath, among many others.  I also just enjoy Duel Decks, and have collected many of them apart from what is in the Anthology.

The Planechase Anthology aims to do the same things, but bring Planechase back into the front of the public again.  Planechase is a CASUAL FORMAT.  Like Commander and Duel Decks.  I have owned one Planechase deck already, “Primordial Hunger,” featuring Thromok the Insatiable.  That deck was the cheapest at an MTG store way out of town somewhere, that had alot of old sealed product.  (You can read my review here.  Sadly, I have removed the pictures.)  And so I have limited exposure to Planechase.  The Planechase Anthology is going to bring all kinds of MTG goodness to the SpartanNerd kitchen table.

Let me say right now, the old decks cost around $50 after market, give or take sealed.  The $149.99 price tag on the Planechase Anthology is automatically a good deal.  Besides that, each plane card individually costs about $5 on TCGplayer.  But the six promotional cards included cost more…BUT I do have a complaint.  This set only comes with Planechase 2012 theme decks.  The original decks should be included…they could have been included.  (The original decks are worth way more money.  One of them is an affinity deck, pushing it up to around $150 after market value.  THe zOmbie Empire deck is about $100 to piece together!)

OK,  more information about the format.  Planechase is a special Magic the Gathering variant where oversized “planes” cards are added to the game creating an additional layer of complexity.   You roll the cubic planar dice, and change which plane you are on.  (Planes are analogous to stadium cards in Pokemon TCG).   Originally, the Wizards envisioned each person brings their own planes to the game…making it possible to play against another players constructed planar deck.  (No one plays this way anymore.)  What really happened was people found it more fun to put all the planes in a single deck, and then just see the craziness that resulted.  Planechse is super fun when paired with Commander…

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What’s this?  The SpartanCat really enjoyed the new shipping box before I removed the product!  For my unboxing and review today, you will be seeing some of my kitchen table.  Apologies.  But Planechase IS a kitchen table format…(Really, the box is very large.)

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Here the box is, in all its cellophane sealed glory.  I love the shiny foil treatment the Wizards gave it.  This time it is purple and gold…a color that is difficult for me to describe…It isn’t brown at all.  it is … shiny purplish purple-and-gold.

The back of the box displays a poster, which might find its way on my office wall at work…

The bottom picture shows you that the box is exactly the same size as the Duel Decks Anthology.

This box is important because it helps give this set the feeling of a premium board game.  Want to quickly set up a game of Magic with some friends…just break out the Planechase Anthology.  It also will make for nifty storage.

Now for the opening…(cue the angelic choir!)

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Notable, five spots for the dice, ordered in the same way as the decks…and what was that?

The Planar die is twice the size of the conventional Planar die!  (pictured on the right is a comparison shot.)

These dice are life-counters.  I wiI will keep these in the box and not take them out to tournaments.  I am partial to the green one and the orange one because I can see them more easily.  (I was partial to one of the dice in the Duel Decks Anthology for the same reason.)

Lets open some cards!

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Not quite yet.  It looks like there is some propaganda hiding under the planar deck.

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The poster features some of the planes…why these?  They chose these because they are the planes that are best seated in the minds of players.  Really new players are probably aware of the “Origins” stories.  Zendikar and Innistrad are currently in Standard.  Bolas’s Meditation Chamber is important because he IS the villain in MTG.  But I think also the Wizards wanted to include something that is going to be important in upcoming sets.  Amonkhet is the next big set, and is going to be all about Bolas according to the Wizards’ press releases.

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The back of that insert tells you how to play.  And remember what I told you about the way the Wizards originally intended players would play?  This rules insert doesn’t mention that at all, which I suppose means that  style is just about officially dead.  There are some suggestions for playing in a variety of ways.  Drafting the planes as a cube…that is an idea I hadn’t considered!

CARDS! CARDS! CARDS! CARDS!

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“Slide Deck Box” eluded me…you have to experience it to get it.  Turns out that it is exactly what it says it is.  Notice the slanted top of the inner box.  This is reminiscent of the “Bundle Box” design that is replacing “fat packs.”  This makes it easier in THAT product to open the box.  In this case, it makes it easier to grip the cards in order to remove them.

Without question, this deck box can’t hold sleeved planar cards.  It’s a good thing I didn’t purchase sleeves for them in anticipation.  (I really did mull it over, but decided to wait.  Wise decision, SpartanNerd!)

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After breaking the cellophane seal, you can see that the “phenomenon” cards are on top.  These function as powerful effects that change the game.  Chaotic Aether can really shake up the game if people are willing to pay the tax to roll the Planar die  (to roll the die at any time, a player must pay a land at first, then two lands for a second roll, then three for a third, etc.)  Morphic Tide can be devastating!  And it can totally turn the tables in a game of Magic.

After the Phenomenon cards come the planes.

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Onnake Catacomb…this is the place where Liliana got the Chain Veil!

Llanowar is funny…it makes all of your creatures into “better-than” Llanowar Elves.  (Lannowar Elves taps to add one green mana to your mana pool.)

There are over 70 different planes!  I haven’t heard of most of them.

The thing about this set…it is all about FLAVOR.  A person might not know anything about MTG.  Having them sit down and play the game this way will immerse them in the basic lore and the basic “What is this game Magic the Gathering all about?”  The game becomes more than just fun decks to play with cool art.  It becomes a story.  And that is very good because the flavor or MTG is really awesome.

A little rant.  It has been said that Mortal Kombat (and its associated video games) isn’t that great as far as fighting games go.  But it is so cool in flavor that it remains appealing, even though it is trumped by the mechanics of other games in its genre.  MTG has the opposite problem sometimes.  The game is so cool and fun, but people don’t have to be aware of the story surrounding it for the game to work.  How many times have I seen new players ask about the flavor text of a card, and what purpose does it serve?  It serves no mechanical purpose…it is only there for extra fun.  Extra flavor.  Extra points in the coolness department.  At one time I didn’t care about the story.  Over the years, I have picked up on some of it, and even read through some of it, like the Battle for Zendikar story and the way Nissa and Chandra drew up a “Channel-Fireball” combo to kill the titans.  I still have a lot to learn about the story.  The Planechase Anthology is without a doubt going to inspire me to look up information about the different planes and locations in MTG.

Onto the rest of the decks.  Each one comes with its own “slide deck box.”  The colored “Planeswalker Symbol” is the only indication of which deck is inside besides the label on the flat side of the inside box.  Notice the one of the far left…the “orange” symbol.  That box has extra items inside.

One of those items is the basic guide to playing Magic (quick reference card).  Which is not a guide to playing Planechase.  So I’m not sure if including it was a good idea.  (I just threw it away, as usual.)

The other item is the tokens.  Double Sided.

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I am showing you one side, then flipping them.  Notice a ton of Goblin tokens, and Saproling tokens.  If you have ever played decks that produce these kinds of token creatures, then you know you might just need this many.  Saproling token decks can get out of control!

NOW FOR THE INDIVIDUAL DECKS.

Each deck is called a “theme deck.”  What this means is, each deck showcases a mechanic, and has cards that support that mechanic.

I will be showing you the eight rares (YES!) from each deck first.  And then I will show you notable things about the decks as well.

PRIMORDIAL HUNGER

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This is the only deck I already have spent time with playing, and you saw what I had to say if you clicked the link in the top paragraphs.  Since I wrote that review, I have played this deck on numerous occasions.  The Dragonlair Spider is ALWAYS a winner.  Lots of times, people underestimate him.  Hellion Eruption is also an amazing win-con.  The Devour mechanic, showcased in this deck, requires a little work.  You have to sacrifice things…you are giving up board presence in order to make a big creature.  This is risky, and sometimes doesn’t pay off.  I think it better to “go wide,” load up the board, and then either over run the opponent, or do the Hellion Eruption.

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Of the Devour creatures, this one is the most playable.  On turn three or four, you can have a fatty that can’t be ignored.

Most of the pre-con decks the Wizards put out contain mana-fixers.  This deck has “bounce lands,” and a few other things.  Skaarg the Rage Pit can be a really good mana-sink.

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These other spells can’t be ignored!  Overrun, Fires of Yavimya, and Fling are excellent finishers.  Fires of Yavimaya is like a trap…people tend to forget that you can sacrifice it to give all of your creatures +2/+2!

One more incidental thing…Will the deck fit in the “slide deck box” when properly sleeved?  (Drum roll)

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YES!!!

NIGHT OF THE NINJA

This is the deck the SpartanKid is most excited about.  I looked at purchasing this about a year ago for him…he is very interested in Ninjas.  After-market, the deck gets about $7o.  It came down to either Night of the Ninja or some Mega-Man thing.  He went with the Mega-Man…

But now, I own a copy, and he can play it all he wants!

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The theme of this deck is Evasion.  Virtually every creature in this deck has some form.  Flying, Intimidate, Fear, Shroud, Deathtouch, Hexproof, and the feature mechanic, Ninjutsu.  With Ninjutsu, you can swap out an attacking creature that doesn’t have a blocker with the creature with Ninjutsu from your hand.  Surprise!  Throw on a “when this deals combat damage” effect, and you get some cool advantages.

Notable here, is Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni.  This guy is the general for a rat-tribal commander deck!

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Baleful Strix.  One of the best Two-Drop creatures in all of MTG.  Flying, Deathtouch, AND card draw.  Sick.

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Here are the lands.  Nothing noteworthy here.  (Why didn’t we get Rogue’s Passage?  I think it’s because every creature here already can’t be blocked at least without consequences.)

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The other spells.  Farsight Mask…that’s hilarious!  Why would it be tapped unless an opponent tapped it?

CHAOS REIGNS

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A little story…The original picture of the eight rares was very blurry, so at 3:00 AM I retook the picture.  And this is when I noticed that the “slide deck boxes” all have outline artwork for their featured rare card.  So this is why these cards are sleeved, and why I included the inner box.

Maelstrom Wanderer.  A Three-Color creature, with “Cascade, cascade.”  Yes.  This isn’t a typo!  Chaos Reigns is aptly named because of the Cascade mechanic.  When you cast (important!) a spell with Cascade, you get to reveal cards off the top of your library until you reveal a card with a lower mana cost, and then you cast that card for free.  So Maelstrom Wanderer lets you Cascade twice.

(The other use of the Cascade mechanic is to wash your dishes.  HA HA HA!)

Cascade is one of the flashiest mechanics in MTG, and also the most unpredictable.  It is at the heart of “Restore Balance” decks, as well as “Living Death” decks.

The other thing about the Maelstrom Wanderer.  Three color creatures, especially in the combination of BLUE RED GREEN, are rather rare historically.  We got a few recently in Khans block.  But this guy seemed to stand alone for a long while.

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The Shardless Agent…This is a ten-dollar card!  In the right deck, it can almost be a Collected Company.

It seems I forgot another important picture…Bloodbraid Elf.  (Banned in Modern!)

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It was recently brought to my attention that this guy is banned in Pauper.  I wonder why? (It’s obvious.)

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Here is a notable card.  Do you want to know what a vanilla creature is if it takes a mana of every color to cast?  Fusion Elemental provides that standard baseline.  8/8.

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This is a five color deck.  Such a deck has a hard time finding the resources it needs.  Shimmering Grotto and Rupture Spire help with this.  Vivid Creek and Terramorphic Expanse are also always useful.

But even this wouldn’t be enough.

img_9516The five spells on the left also help you fix your mana.

Every other spell is pretty good.  Our main plan, though is to smash the opponent with our creatures.

SAVAGE AURAS

This deck is based on enchantment auras, specifically Totem Armor.

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The Kor Spiritdancer is important…It is a strong piece of the Hexproof deck in Modern.  Maybe I can make my Bogles deck work better now that I own a copy.  (I will need three more, of course.  Do-able…it is a ten-dollar card.)

Krond, of the Dawn-Clad.  If you can get this guy going, you have no business losing.  You can exile their permanents all over the place.  He is a flying, vigilant threat.

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I thought these two notable…Silhana Ledgewalker has the aforementioned Hexproof.  If you get a few auras on it, there is little that the opponent can do.  It also is hard to block…

Dreampod Druid…remember all of those Saproling tokens?

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Nothing spectacular about the lands.  The City Tree is a notable inclusion.

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You might have noticed that this deck is a little light on creatures.  This is because it is heavy on other spells, especially auras…especially totem armor.  The deck also generates tokens, helping ensure you aren’t holding unusable “dead” cards.  (Totem Armor.  If enchanted creature would be destroyed, destroy the aura with Totem Armor instead.)

SOME FINAL THOUGHTS AFTER UNBOXING.

This is a terrific product.  Thanks to the SpartanWife for getting it for me on our anniversary.  Thanks to the Tangled Web as well, who gave me a discount.  A great thing too, because today I have been fighting a Kidney Stone.  And the store owner, Daniel Macabee, is a super nice guy.  If you ever find yourself in Spartanburg, SC, go by the Tangled Web Comic Book store.  You won’t regret it.

As I have been typing into the wee hours of the night/morning, dealing with my problem, I have spent some time thinking about it.  There is only one physical problem with the Planechase Anthology.  There is nowhere to put the 35 double-sided tokens.  I sleeved them in transparent Dragon Shields.  But even if I didn’t, the slide deck boxes wouldn’t accomodate them.  And besides that, which tokens go with which deck?  This is a nit-picking thing, but notable.If the Wizards hadn’t put that giant Magic The Gathering logo on the plastic tray under the dice, but instead gave us another deck box for the tokens, that would have been better.  True, I could remove the tray and store the tokens underneath, but that takes away from the convenience of the the thing as a dedicated board game.

The only other negative thing I could say is…we don’t have Planes cards for Tarkir, Kaladesh, or Theros.  All of these planes have been introduced to us since these decks were originally printed.  The Wizards could have given us some exclusive planes cards featuring those locations just for this set.  And that would drive some collectors crazy…crazy enough to purchase this product even if they already owned the rest of it.

But besides those two items, I haven’t got any complaints.  I really had to dig for that second one…but maybe its the pain medicine.

I give the Planechase Anthology a 5/5!

It is a terrific box set that promises hours of fun at the kitchen table in the future.  It is a great collection of re-prints, including some scarce rares.  It is four ready-to-play decks for anytime.  It is good Magic.  Plain and simple.

THE SPARTANNERD GIVES THE PLANECHASE ANTHOLOGY A 5/5.  Do you agree or disagree?  Let me know in the comments!