SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review…Battle for Zendikar Holiday Box

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Once again, it’s time to get a new box for all of my MTG goodies.  I purchased the Battle For Zendikar Holiday Gift Box from the Tangled Web with some Web Bucks that my mom gave me for Christmas.  Thanks Mom!  (Web Bucks are basically a gift certificate.)

So is this a great gift for a MTG player?  How did it go for me?  Keep reading!

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Flipping the box over, you get to see the contents.  (So why am I doing this?)

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You remove the cellophane, and then this cardboard sleeve.  I am throwing this sleeve away.  It is just something obstructing me from getting to my cards.  Some people might not want to.  But I have no attachment.

 

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So this is the image I will see every time I use the box!  Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger squaring off with Gideon, Avenger of Zendikar.  Ugly…

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Opening the box, I saw…this…(It is an extra piece of cardboard meant to shield the contents from getting bumped around.)

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Here’s what was really there.

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This is a nice box.  I considered buying the box alone, which would have been about $8.  But I wanted to write on my blog and talk about the cards some.  So it was worth getting the sealed product.  I have the Kahns of Tarkir Holiday box from last year, and there are two Theros Holiday boxes floating around my house somewhere.  They are terrific boxes.  Good and sturdy, with two dividers to help in organizing the cards.  I’m not sure the exact number of cards a box like this can hold.  But each row can hold more than a “fat pack” box.  So a good many.  A great place to put “bulk cards,” pieces of decks, organizing lands, or whatever.  I hear that some people use these boxes to hold their “cube.”  Since I don’t have a large enough pool of playing friends to care about making a cube…

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Here are the other contents.  I like how this year we get the stickers on card sized paper!  The big thing from years past is just in the way.  In fact, I don’t use these stickers because that thing is just annoying.  But already, I have used some of these, (I am writing two days after my unboxing.)

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We get these beautiful dividers.  I really like the art from Zendikar.  That one on the very bottom right is “blighted” something.  It is really pretty.  Zendikar has floating islands, towering mountains with waterfalls, and of course corrupted areas of “dust” produced by Ulamog and the other Eldrazi.  These dividers are handy in almost any deck box.  I tend to use them exclusively with the Holiday boxes to create a concrete reference for how I organized my cards.  For instance, I had a bunch of special lands in a spot, and then put down a divider, and had my pieces of “tiny leaders” decks next.

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This box came with this exclusive printing of Scythe Leopard.  This card is equivalent to “Steppe Lynx” from the older Zendikar set.  He’s not quite as good, but he sees some play in constructed.  Standard nowadays has five fetch lands from Kahns of Tarkir block, as well as Evolving Wilds, which can really pull a lot of value out of a 1/1 kitty cat for only a forest.

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This box came with these also…

Normally this wouldn’t be all that significant.  But it is this time because every other product released for Battle for Zendikar has featured “full art” lands.  This is the only time I have seen regular basic lands for this set.  I was aware of them because they were in the card image gallery, and wondered why I had never opened one.  Now I know.  And I wonder if the intro packs also have these lands.  (confirmed)

Basically, full art basic lands sell for $1.00 apiece, helping make each and every booster pack of BFZ all that much more valuable than boosters from other sets.  I suppose the Wizards thought it might be a bad idea to print one of each full art land and put them in the holiday box.  (The sealed product would gain a ton of value on the third party market.)

So what was in my five booster packs?  I will show you a photo of each pack fully opened, and then make some commentary.  (Spoiler:  No Zendikar Expedition this time 😦  )

PACK 1

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I am really partial to the full art island.  The token is for Kiora.  Retreat to Coralheim is notable…a great way to get reliable card draw.  And the rare…

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Fathom Feeder has seen some play in Blue-Black Aristocrats.  I am glad to add another to my collection.

PACK 2

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This pack has a great gold ally, Resolute Blademaster.  Dispel is a great card for Modern…(last time I played against a Splinter Twin player, he sided in Dispel, and it gave him an edge.)  Also notable is Angelic Gift, to those casual angel players.  This can make an Icarian Priest fly, and net you a card!  The token is an Eldrazi Scion.  It can be an attacker, OR be sacced for a colorless mana.)  The full art land here is a swamp.  My readers know that my color is black.  But the Swamps are the least exciting and interesting of the BFZ full art lands.  Orion Rief Hydra…I could take him or leave him.

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PACK 3

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Notable in this pack is Brilliant Spectrum…a card that I believe will become more commonly used when the next set comes out.  Its “confluence” effect counts how many colors were spent to cast it, and then you get to draw that many cards.  It is a sorcery, so it isn’t great.  But in a five-color deck, it can net you some good advantage.  We get a Kor Ally for Gideon, a good full-art island featuring an EPIC waterfall, and…

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Major score.  Prairie Stream!  This is about a $3.00 to $4.00 card.  And as a Plains Island, can be fetched with either Windswept Heath, Flooded Strand, Marsh Flats, and on and on the list goes.  No…it isn’t a “shock land,” but it is what the Wizards have given us for Standard.  I think of these as “budget” lands for Modern.  (It is the fetches that are valuable.)

PACK 4

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This pack contains Hedron Archive, one of the cards that gets featured in propaganda art for this set.  This card sees some play in mid-range or control decks.  Vestige of Emrakul gives us some things to speculate about…Emrakul is not on Zendikar…and the next big set is called “Shadows over Innistraad…”

No token this time…a tip card instead.  BOO.  The full-art Plains reminds me of a shot from the new Star Wars movie, (the one where Rey is on a vehicle flying in front of a downed Star Destroyer.)

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I love this card!  With X in the mana cost, you get exactly what you pay for!

PACK 5

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Maybe the best pack for the SpartanNerd….Zulaport Cutthroat is the main reason.  This card goes great in Blue Black Aristocrats…It is in fact the enabler of that deck.  Brilliant Spectrum, explained in an earlier pack.  Smite the Monstrous has been called the most underrated card in the BFZ Standard environment.  So many targets!  Altar’s Reap is one of my favorite cards.  Imagine chump blocking some giant thing with a 2/2 zombie token, then before combat damage resolves, casting altars reap, sacrificing the zombie, and drawing two cards.  SCORE!  I have had new players accuse me of cheating with that one.  But it is totally legal, however wrong it might seem.

So what was the rare?

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I have heard people say that this guy is the spokesman for slowing the format down.  We did have Elvish Mystic, and Sylvan Carytid.  And this is who stands in their place.  Sure, he can swing or be tapped on the turn you play him, but he is a TWO DROP, and his mana can ONLY be used for creatures, most of which don’t have haste.

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Here are the cards plus some other cards so you can see how well the box works!

What’s soon to come for the SpartanNerd and MTG reviews?  I have all five new Commander decks coming my way!  And I think I will approach reviewing them differently…Keep reading!

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SpartanNerd…250 Blog Posts!

Yep.  The SpartanNerd is getting on up there in age!  250 posts.  There have been ups and downs.  I have covered “all things nerdtainment” that I could afford.  I have made mistakes, as well as hit home-runs.  I’ve had times of not being inspired or having energy or time, as well as times where I felt a real need to blog.

I thought I would celebrate this milestone with a little pastiche of different stories of interest!

My first ever customized MOTUC figure.

Teela

My own Teela, of course!

It has bothered me for some time that I didn’t have a female figure worthy of wearing the extra bit of snake armor that came with one of the weapons packs.  I always felt that it could fit Battleground Teela;  I was reluctant to remove her hair.

Well I’m glad I did.  You can see from the picture that it worked out pretty nice.  It took me over an hour of using a hair dryer and other tools to remove the hairpiece, which is really a hard piece of plastic glued on with some incredible adhesive.  Unfortunately, it left a hole in her head all across the back.  You can’t see it from the front, which is what is important to me.  I might try and customize a backside to the hood sometime to completely cover the ugly.

Yes, I can put the hairpiece back on!  So its like I have two Teela figures now!  pfffttt to all you people who own one figure that cost over $100!

I know what else you’re thinking, and yes I DID remove the bra-armor piece to see if I could make her appear more comic accurate.  The problem is…it just doesn’t look right on this figure.  She seems too…Well, your eyes go right to her bust.  And then it doesn’t look right.  She isn’t “that accurate,” ahem.  She looks better with her stock armor underneath the hood piece.  And no, I’m not interested in doing ANY painting on this figure!

Moving on, moving on.

Unicorn vs. Sinanju

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The SpartanTeen hasn’t played Magic the Gathering in quite a while.  This is fine.  I have had to find other ways to bond with him.  One of those ways is the appreciation for Gundam models.  Here is a pic of his best two.

He got the flight stands in the mail, and put them in this pose.  We kept them this way on the kitchen table for several days!  I love the action that you can sense between the two characters, Gundam Unicorn and Sinanju.

Speaking of MTG,

I bought a box of Battle for Zendikar.  And I have been incredibly pleased with my investment.  I don’t generally buy cards for their monetary value, but you just can’t overlook it when each pack gives you a full-art land, (in time will be worth $1.00-$2.00.)  But aside from that, you also get a rare as in every Magic booster.

But I have been blessed.

I’ve opened TWO Gideon, Ally for Zendikar, and one of those was a “bounty” at The Tangled Web!  (They give you a second copy if you open one.)  I traded both in for a Snapcaster Mage, which I really NEEDED.  (I figure Gideon will come and go.  Snap is forever!)

Then I traded the other for an Ugin today, to build this deck for Standard….A Re-Animator deck.  It needs some work.  Suggestions are welcome!  (I modeled it after the four-color reanimator I have been playing in Modern…where the snap caster went!)

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The SpartanKid also built a Standard deck (with my help)….He is quite pleased with it.  The only thing we tried to do really was use the colors of Omnath, Locus of Rage.  We put a lot of landfall in there.  And Scythe Leopard and Sliderunner have done all of the work pretty much!

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While on the subject of MTG cards and customizing stuff, check out what I did with my Father’s Day present…I made a Commander deck, and used the inadequate deck box that “Graveborn” came with to pretty up a Commander box!

New stuff….

I bought a Battle Droid figure at Mighty Dollar for $1.00.  The full real thing!

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I purchased and intended to review the Deckbuilders Toolkit for Magic Origins.  Maybe I still will.  But I’m not feeling it.  Here is a pic of the janky deck I put together with it though!

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I made a chessboard for MOTUC and similar figures!  Don’t steal my idea!

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The SpartanKid purchased this incredible item at Toys-R-Us…

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You get all of this variety of Halo mini-figures.  And a ton of weapons.  It comes with a display stand to boot!

Some parting thoughts….

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Remember the unfortunate situation with this very expensive figure….  He is still holding up after all this time!  His wrist hasn’t let go even once!

The SpartanKid wanted me to mention his Mega-Man Art Book.  I have never reviewed this item.  So here are two pieces of art…

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I about shouted for joy when I saw this page of a recent He-Man and the Eternia War comic!  That comic keeps surprising me with its twists and turns!  A review of issue #10 is coming soon!

Death of Hordak

Vikor remains my favorite MOTUC figure.  Maybe my favorite action figure of all time.  While I give serious props to Marvel Select Deadpool, Vikor is continually all that an action figure should be.  Incredibly detailed and articulated.  Fits any fantasy.  Is a MOTUC design.  Armed to the teeth.  I love to photograph him!

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So will the SpartanNerd make it to 500 blog posts?  Time will tell!  Hopefully the upcoming Star Wars season doesn’t make me go broke!  I keep getting tempted to purchase new things.  But I have decided that I will only purchase the best things.

So keep reading, Hub City Geeks!