SpartanNerd…Thoughts on Frontier MTG

Surely, Magic the Gathering readers, you have heard about Frontier?  The “new format” being pushed by fans of MTG.

MTG seems to be struggling recently.  The Wizards made a mis-step in messing up the way Standard rotates, in an attempt to grab more money be more creative.  Something.  Regardless, fans dropped out of Standard, and effectively out of the game, because of the raw expense that the new 18 month schedule would demand.  Throw in that Modern has been discontinued on the pro tour level, and lots of fans are finding distaste for what is going on.

They posted apologies, and fixed the rotation after they realized the fans were voting with their wallets.

The wizards brought back “player rewards.”  (NOT).  They started something called “Showdown” which rewards winning players with a booster pack that guarantees three cards, two of which are definitely rare, and the other is “premium foil.”  meaning Expeditions and Inventions are included!  However, I have yet to see someone open one of those high-dollar cards.

It seems the fans are doing what the fans do…promote something new as a suggestion for saving the game.  Commander was the first example of a fan created format.  And the Wizards have done the best job of supporting that format.  Commander lives and thrives as maybe the second most popular MTG format after Standard.  The only problem is that tournaments are a rare thing to come by.  Other fan efforts haven’t fared as well.  Do you remember Tiny Leaders?  It seemed to be a blip on the radar around here.  I think Frontier might meet a similar end…Keep reading to find out why.

I first heard of Frontier at a Modern tournament at the Tangled Web.  The store owner and tournament organizer asked for a vote if we were interested in them scheduling an event. Most of the people in attendance were in agreement.  So late January/Early February is when it will be happening, apparently.  This kind of reminds me of exactly how the Tiny Leaders thing went down.  After playing in one tournament, where only a handful showed up, I have never seen another scheduled.  I put a ton of effort into making that deck…I even over-paid for some cards (that were inflated because of the sudden demand…”Abrupt Decay” for $35 anyone?)  Tiny Leaders was an Epic Fail…it was a fad. Maybe there are some people out there still playing that?  But even the “Sultai” colored tiny leaders general printed in Conspiracy: Take the Crown didn’t revive interest.  Will Frontier meet a similar fate?

WHAT IS FRONTIER ANYWAYS.

I suppose I shouldn’t assume you know what I am talking about, reader.  So here goes. Frontier is a fan created, non-rotating format, that allows all cards printed for Standard since M15, which was the advent of the current MTG card frame.  (A black border with holofoil stamps on rares and promos.)  There is NO BAN LIST currently.

Read that again, and think about it.

Keep thinking.  Recent cards.  No Ban List.  Did you arrive at what I arrived at?

All sets since M15 are…

M15 (core set)

Khans of Tarkir

Fate Reforged

Dragons of Tarkir

Origins (Core set)

Shadows Over Innistrad

Eldritch Moon

Kaladesh

Jeskai Black and all varieties of Azban are now going to be front and center again in the Frontier format.  Those two strategies were so good, they aren’t going to get any better. Abzan was good at control, mid-range, and aggro levels.  Jeskai Black is a control deck that wants to combo off.  We will also have the Eldrazi strategy rear its head again.

Why won’t some of the current decks in standard work?  Let’s take SuperFriends as an example…”Ruinous Path.”  “Utter End.”  “Anguished Unmaking.”  Three ways to remove Planeswalkers.

Throw in amped up token makers that improve Jeskai Black…”Hordeling Outburst” “Raise the Alarm”…See where I’m going.

These decks were crushing in Standard, and Abzan made Standard very stale…so stale even the SpartanNerd was turned off from it for awhile.  But these decks only get more tools to work with by adding in sets that rotated before they actually became a thing.

BUT WHAT ELSE.

Frontier aims to solve one of the problems that Modern has.  Card prices.

After-market, MTG cards gain value because of the economic laws of supply and demand.  “Liliana of the Veil” and “Damnation” cost so much ($100) because they have only ever received one printing, and both cards are sought after and useful in certain Modern decks.  On the other hand, no one cares about “Path to Exile,” which is a useful enough card in some of those same decks, but it has been reprinted eight times.  Path costs about $10 on a good day.

But if we keep on this line of thinking…Frontier will end up in the same place soon enough.  Fetch Lands…Frontier now only has half of the fetches that Modern has.  Modern’s fetches cost $50-$75 for the oldest lands.  Won’t Frontier’s fetches reach that level in a few years?

Snapcaster Mage.  He is about $50-$65 because of demand in Modern.  Jace, Vrynn’s Prodigy remains at $40, post Standard rotation.  In Frontier, he is bound to become the next Snapcaster.  Liliana, the last hope is currently $40 in Standard.  Won’t she become another Liliana of the Veil in Frontier if we give it a couple of years?

Frontier might currently be cheaper.  But that won’t last.  So that makes it a “Band-Aid” for this problem that MTG is facing.

Remember, NO BAN LIST

Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time.  Yep.  They are legal in Frontier.  Good thing I held on to my copies after the bannings…These will be Power Nine style cards in Frontier.  if the format catches on (which I doubt,) these will surely be the first cards banned.

Fans don’t have “market research.”  The Wizards test and test and test for Standard.  They admit they test much less for Modern, but they let Modern figure itself out, mostly.  Their Commander products work so well because they test them in a lab over and over, and see how new cards work in different situations before unleasihing them on the world.

But fans lack all that research, and that is another reason why this experiment is set up for failure.  The Wizards timed cards to rotate out before introducing new cards.  This can be EASILY SEEN if you read any of their “Making Magic” and “R & D” articles online.  And I am going to walk YOU through an easy to see one.

Back in Khans of Tarkir block, “Morph” was brought back.  As a returning mechanic, old fans were sure to know how it worked, and welcome its return.  New players might not “get it.”  When Fate Reforged came out, they added Manifest, which was an expansion on Morph.  But now the top card became a 2/2 creature, and that card could be anything.  A basic land.  A spell.  A bomb.  Or a 1/1 shrimp.  Who knew?  But this was an added layer of complexity to what is actually a pretty simple mechanic.  Finally, when Dragons of Tarkir came out, they added Megamorph.  Just Morph with the creature getting a counter when it flipped.

You see a smooth evolution here?

And during this time the fans are starting to hear about the Origins Planeswalkers.  There was going to be a concrete way for us to see them “gain their spark.”  That turned out to be the “flip” walkers.  And an article surfaced explaining how this mechanic flowed smoothly from Khans block to Origins, and connected to the block afterwards, Shadows Over Innistrad.  (I have been trying to find that article.  That would be helpful!)

The Wizards had to be sure they could teach players how to flip their cards in a non-confusing way.  Never mind that some players were playing when Morph was first introduced, or some players played during the first Innistrad block, where double-sided cards were introduced.  They had to capture the new players for standard, and teach them all about flipping cards, and how that doesn’t use the stack.  (Flipping a creature to a Planeswalker worked differently, exiling the card and then returning it transformed.)

All the while, from a business point of view, I can see them printing double sided tokens way out ahead of time.  And I know now that it has something to do with contracts at the factories that print their cards.

The point is…there is tons of logic to what the Wizards have done in designing the game called Magic the Gathering.  And there is tons of logic so that each new expansion can come out as its own individual game.  And as a standalone game, it has to be able to be fun for established players as well as accessible to new players.

And when fans say something like, “Lets make a NO BAN LIST MODERN.” or make a thing called “FRONTIER: NO BAN LIST RECENT SETS,” they are defying some of the research and development work that the Wizards used when they invented the cards.

A format like Modern makes sense.  It is curated.  It allows almost any card when you look at it as a whole, as long as it was printed for Standard during Eighth Edition or later.  When a deck like Splinter Twin or Amulet Bloom or Caw Blade or (insert busted deck here) takes over Modern, they ban the most offensive card to nerf the deck, in a way that doesn’t have a huge impact on the rest of the game.  Hence, Summer Bloom was banned, not Amulet of Vigor or Primeval Titan.  The ban list is full of cards that seem inoccuous.  Summer Bloom seems kind of harmless to a person with no experience tapping lands for double manna and bouncing them back.  And once in awhile, a Stoneforge Mystic or Jace, the Mind Sculptor comes along…But still, the wizards have kept the format going and healthy for the most part.

There is a definite attractive “punk rock” element to fans wanting to make a new Modern. The format could be better, if they allowed more sets.  Maybe go back to the first Innistrad block.  Imagine playing a competitive all-innistrad deck. That would be fun!  Imagine getting to mess with Devotion again, seeing how the gods of Theros worked with cards from all of these sets that they rarely see a competitve play with?

I am all for Frontier.  I hope it does revitalize the game.  I just don’t see it happening.

And that’s my two cents about Frontier.  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!

SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review…Guided By Nature Commander Deck

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So on with the real cards…

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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Here is the full decklist from the poster.

HOW DOES GUIDED BY NATURE PLAY OUT?

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

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

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

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

 

 

SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review…”Swell the Host” Commander 2015

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So I am at my next to final unboxing and review of the 2015 Commander set, this time reviewing the green and blue deck “Swell the Host.”

Right off the bat I would like to say that the color scheme on this packaging is an eye catcher.  The general featured also looks very menacing.

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The back shows off some other feature cards from the deck.

I don’t believe I have ever made a Green-Blue commander deck before.  Keep reading if you want to see how it turned out for me!

 

I unboxed this product as I have learned to do it best…open from the bottom first.

Then you get a plastic blister, and you can see the deck box and the oversized commander card.

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And here is all of the product.  Left to right, Ezuri, Claw of Progress oversized general card, Swell the host box top.  Commander guide to playing the deck.  MTG rules reference card.  The bottom of the deck box, with he plastic tray standing, and the deck in cellophane with the new “experience counter” token on top.

The deck boxes are truly pretty crappy.  As I have accumulated all of these, I am finding that I am annoyed by trying to put 100 sleeved cards into one of these boxes.  They are fine for unsleeved cards.  But if you want to take care of the cards, these boxes barely cut the mustard.  I try side-loading them into the boxes and angling them, and then they fit, but I don’t believe that to be the best solution.  That little tray is even more useless than the old cardboard spacer they used to contain way back in 2013 and 2014.

I generally try to be optimistic about these boxes.  They look really cool.  But I now have something like twelve commander decks in these boxes stacked up in my “nerd closet.”  And there problems are showing.

This time I thought I would take a closer look at the rules reference card before tossing it.  I was curious if it gave us rules for Commander?  Nope.  Just regular magic rules.  Making this a big idiot thing to include for new players.

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Notice it says “Each player starts with 20 life.”  Wrong style of rules for a Commander deck.

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The other piece of paper is the guide to playing the deck.  More of that delightful color scheme found here, and images and story for this general.

Oh yes.  Also the decklist.

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Let’s spend some more time looking at this general.  “Whenever a creature with power 2 or less enters the battlefield under you control, you get an experience counter.”  This means this deck is going to be filled with useful chumps.  The second rules text is “At the beginning of combat on your turn, put X +1/+1 counters on another target creature you control, where X is the number of experience counters you have.  Oh yeah…Ezuri is only a four drop, so….

I am going to go ahead and tell you…this deck makes the best use of the experience counters than any of the other decks in this series I have reviewed.  Maybe it’s me, the player.  But I think not.  I believe you are getting lots of value from the cards in this deck.  Ezuri begs to be removed, because you can easily get those counters, and at your combat step, someone is growing huge!

Onto the reveal of the cards.

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First, tokens.  These are the double sided kind…I am showing both sides to you.When these enter the battlefield, you typically will get a counter.  The red dragon jumped out at me right away.  How can that fit in this deck?  Well it does!

I am revealing the cards in order of packaging.

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Each one of these cards gets you an experience counter if Ezuri is on the battlefield.  Very notable is Ninja of the Deep Hours.  I never had this card before, but he has “Bushido”, a neat trick that can get you surprise card draw.  The others all have some utility.  Eternal Witness gets you a creature back.  Elvish Visionary gets you  a card.  Lorescale Coatl, gets you a card.  Coiling Oracle.  More card advantage.  Wistful Selkie…draw a card.  In fact, I am impressed overall with the amount of card advantage this deck can get you.  Stingerflinger Spider will destroy a flyer.  Trigon Predator is a big flyer.  You get options with Noble Quarry.  Right away these are really good, low cost cards.  And any one can be a target for Ezuri.

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This batch off the top of the stack features some of the more ubiquitous cards in Commander.  Sol Ring, Krosan Grip, Swiftfoot Boots.  Etc.  Snake form is notable…this deck almost has a snake tribal feel to it, there are so many snakes.  Also Muldrifter is here, and the new mana rock, Thought Vessel…I like to call this card “reliquary rock.”  You get the effect of Reliquary Tower and an artifact that taps for mana.  Maybe my favorite new non-legendary from this set as a whole as a general addition to the game of Commander.

It is important that I mention that a lot of things in this deck can happen on top of the stack.  (Instant Speed).  The other Commander decks that I have unboxed and reviewed in this set were really light on instant speed.  I don’t even think “Call the Spirits” had any instants in the whole deck!  This deck has flash, instants, “cast only during the declare blockers step” etc.

Now for a look at the three legendary creatures.

Ezuri, Claw of Progress gets a regular sized card, of course.  Then we have Kasuto, Orichi Archmage, and Prime Speaker Zegana .

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I haven’t tried Prime Speaker Zegana yet.  She was the Simic boss from Return to Ravnica.  I have already spoken alot about Ezuri….Remember how I mentioned the Snake tribal theme…now the reason becomes apparent when you try Kasuto as your general.  You can reliably make your snakes huge and unblock able.  Kasuto has brought me a couple of wins!

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Next, a bunch of rares.  As always, the Commander deck gives us a ton.  And they do so much.  Someone who keeps coming up for me, Cold Eyed Selkie.  This card nets you a ton of cards in this deck!  Solemn Simulacrum is fun if you can destroy him right after he enters the battlefield, netting you a land and card draw (an an experience counter!).  Arbor Colossus is great for endgame.  Command Beacon is new…you can sac it to return your general to your hand from the command zone.  (Skirting the rules of Commander.)  Arachnogenesis can save your butt unexpectedly, as well as trigger a ton of experience counters if you have Ezuri on the field.  Mystic Snake has flash, and can counter a target spell.  (That’s just sick!)  Scythe claw can really scare an opponent.

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Bident of Thassa is an awesome card in this deck, and Orochi Hatchery lets you get snake chumps to trigger experience counters.  High Market is a land that is a sac outlet (use with Solemn Simulacrum)  Remember that red dragon token?  In a pinch, you can play Day of Dragons, and turn your critical mass of chumps into 5/5 flying dragons!  (Play carefully…I got a game loss with this card.)

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Basic lands.  Boring.  Following them were the non-basics.

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The only one of these that I really hate is Simic Guildgate.  Why not give us a scry land instead?  I never had Zoetic Cavern before, but it is a land with morph.  Since there is no other morph in this deck….(not sure it belongs here?)

 

PLAYING THE DECK

This is the funnest Commander deck I have played since Oloro, Ageless Ascetic or Derevi, Empyrial Tactician.  Those two decks were fun because their Commanders were so effective.  This deck is fun because not only is Ezuri, really good, but also Kasuto.  (He COULD be a tiny leader as well, if anyone cares.)

I believe it to be so fun because of the reactivity of the deck, and the consistently scary thing of always having a fatty on the board.  Because there really isn’t a way to remove experience counters, if you can get Ezuri on the board and protect him, you are never a player that can be ignored.  And because there is so much card draw here, you rarely gave mana screw.  Some of the other decks have Thought Vessel or Reliquary Tower, but I have scripted my head about why, they seem to rarely have enough relevant card draw.  Not a problem with this deck.

I have played this deck only against actual opponents, no solitaire this time.  It has a record of 4 to 2.  It lost to Prossk, Skyraider of Kerr, which is just a tricky deck to play with surprise win conditions.  And it lost to Forged in Stone, after a long and grindy match.  But it also beat that deck once.  The deck also beat Call the Spirits soundly, Plunder the Graves, and Wade into Battle from the same set soundly.  I believe it is because the plan of keeping chumps on the board and having them beefed up at instant speed or whatever is just a better strategy!

SPARTANNERD RATING

Besides my complaints about the deck box, this deck is really good.  It is quite fun!  I played Ob Nixilis for a long time, but eventually got bored with the mono black demons theme, which lost about seventy percent of the time.  This deck is almost the exact opposite of that deck.  And I never ventured to make a blue green commander deck before of my own, playing this one vanilla has been all new for me.

So I rate this deck 5/5!  It does the “Fun” thing better than any of the other Commander 2015 decks I have opened so far!

Wade into Battle

Today I present to the world the SpartanNerd’s third review of a Commander deck from the 2015 set.  This deck is titled “Wade Into Battle,” and features a red-white color scheme and a nifty new general named Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas.”  Read on for a complete review!

“Wade Into Battle” comes in the same kind of box as all of the other Commander decks from the past few years, featuring a large window showcasing the main card in the deck, oversized and in foil.  The package has a nice red-yellow look too it, like fire, or glowing metal, or lava.

Flipping the box over reveals some of the cards from the deck, and an inspiring message.  (All of the propaganda doesn’t really mean anything to me.  My big question is “how fun is the deck?”)

I am going to go ahead and apologize.  I had some technical difficulties with the pictures.  I’m not sure how, but I took some pictures, and only some of the image ever made it through.  Nothing too important, as this didn’t happen to the main part of the deck.  But the unboxing pictures fell victim of this.  Sorry!  But I assure you, that the deck was packaged exactly like the other two decks I have reviewed.

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You get a nice deck box, with a plastic tray (trash) and a guide to playing Magic (also trash.)  You get a poster with a decklist and instructions, which I always keep.  And the cards wrapped in cellophane.

Who is this general?

A double striking, vigilant giant 3/3 soldier!

This chick is ooooozing with flavor.  Apparently in the early sets of Magic, there was a card called “Hill Giant.”  And he was a 3/3 red creature.  Kalemne captures that.  She also captures the flavor of the Theros block, Iroas being the god of war in Theros, who also had a red-white color scheme.  Double-Strike was prominently featured on cards during the Theros block as well.

It is the bottom ability that is all-new.  With this set of Commander, we get a new thing called Experience Counters, counters for the player that are permanent.  Poison Counters were the only kind of counters before this set.  But Experience Counters are a positive thing, and Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas gets +1/+1 for each experience counter you have.  And how do you get these?  By casting creatures with a converted mana cost of five or greater.  (It goes without saying, Kalemne must be on the battlefield for you to get the Experience counters.)

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Sorry for the blurry pics.  But we get two other possible commanders.  Anya, Merciless Angel, and Gisela, Knight of Goldblade.

These other two generals want you to build around their abilities and the fact that they are ANGELS!  Gisela is a reputable Commander.  Anya is looking for other players to have a pretty low life-total.

 

Here are the cards.  I am going to drop some commentary below each picture.

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First of all, the RARES.  These pre-constructed Commander decks always contain an incredible amount of rares!  And notice the converted mana costs…most of them are five-or-greater!

Almost all of the creatures in this deck are GIANTS.  I would say this was a tribal deck.

We get two Titans.  You can’t sniff at any of the cards in that cycle!  Blade of Selves is a money card in this deck, giving the person it is equipped to “Myriad.”  This new mechanic causes all of your opponents to be attacked by a copy of the same creature it is equipped to.  Unfortunately, Myriad is a dead ability if you are playing two player Commander.

Hostility is an incredibly fun card that can get you tokens…but you have to be able to cast spells that cause damage.  Still, he is a 6/6 with a six CMC.

We get a giant legendary Leonin (to further add to the Theros flavor and offer a new white commander)  and Hamletback Goliath.  (This guy…they sell a promo version of him on three-pack sets at Wal-Mart…the packs are from Return to Ravnica block.)

Angel of Serenity…an Angel with an O-RIng ability for three creatures.

And tons more giants including Fumiko, the Lowblood…a legendary red creature with Bushido, and is a possible red general for another deck.

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Here are the lands.  (This is one of those pictures with the bug, luckily it was still usable.)

Teramorphic Expanse and Evolving Wilds are begging to be replaced by better fetches.  Command Tower is dedicated commander fixing.  There are a few dual lands, most entering the battlefield tapped…Boros Garrison is notable because it is a bounce land.  We get two vivid lands, that also enter the battlefield tapped, but have charge counters so you can produce the other color if you need to.  And cycle lands.

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We get a new rare dual land this time…Ancient Amphitheater.

(I am not showing you the basic lands.  They are…basic…)

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With these huge CMC cards, there better be some ramp.  And there is!  This deck has a ton of MANA ROCKS.  All of these are mana rocks except Lightning Greaves, which is equipment.

Notable here is Thought Vessel, a new mana rock that lets you have an unlimited hand size.  Also Dreamstone Hedron, which reflects the current storyline in Magic.  (The Current storyline is Battle for Zendikar/ Oath of the Gatewatch).

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Other spells in this deck, and there aren’t that many, include Fiery Confluence, which is part of a new cycle where you can make up to three choices, and can choose something more than once.  This is a powerful card in this format!

Earthquake is a sweeper, as is Breath of Dirigaz.

There aren’t that many instants…(I noticed in one of the other decks there were ZERO instants.)  This time we get Crib Swap, which is just creepy.  Also, Orim’s Thunder, which can really hurt voltron style players.

Finally, this time I am going to show you the tokens.  They are double sided as in the other decks.  Here is the front side and back side.

$$$THE VALUE OF THE CARDS$$$

Not much here.  Blade of Selves is the money card for this deck.  I looked up the value of everything I thought might be worth something.  Nothing else really.  The titans here are under three dollars.  Rumiko the Lowblood is also.  Turns out that our “new” leonine giant is a reprint.  Gisela isn’t worth much.  And Kalemne is worth less than a dollar.

So if you are in the game for money, this deck isn’t for you!

EXPERIENCES PLAYING THIS DECK.

The first match was against “Call the Spirits.”  This deck came out the winner!  Call the Spirits created many tokens, but  Earthquake took them out, and then the giants coming in after that were just too much.

Matches two and three were solitaire against “Defeat a God” and “Face the Hydra.”  The first deck was just too much, too fast…several times in a row.  The Hydra deck was a blast..giant hydras against giant giants!  But Kalemne came out the winner.

“Forged In Stone” from Commander 2014 lost in a similar way to “Call the Spirits.”  Tis time is was Breath of Diregaz, followed by Kalemne herself and a few angel friends crunching in behind.  The thing about Breath of Diregaz, when it is kicked, it only deals four damage to each creature.  SO….the giants and angels survive through that!

And finally, a matchup against “Plunder the Graves,” this time piloted by the SpartanKid.  He discovered a combo, and made a REAL challenge for “Wade into Battle.”  The combo went like this.   Champion of Stray Souls plus Kraul Death Priest plus Terastodon= Churning through the graveyard to create card advantage.    Terastodon continually destroys things and replaces them with 3/3 green elephants.  I managed to break this combo by playing Angel of Serenity and exiling all three pieces of the combo.  It had taken awhile for the SpartanKid to get that combo going, and so he was at a low life-total.  Unfortunately so was I.  But I top-decked Fiery Confluence for the win!

SPARTANNERD’s RATING OF “WADE INTO BATTLE.”

It took me awhile to get this review out.  I haven’t had that much of a chance to play.  I also had issues with the pictures.  But it has been fun every time.  Kalemne is a great commander who makes great use of those experience counters.

The deck could have a better mana base.  And I wish the wizards would have printed the cycle of temples for us this time.  The new dual land is perfect for this deck.  And the inclusion of all those mana-rocks…that’s just dumb.  There should be a better way, or at least better mana rocks.  Why not Boros Keyrune, which can become a creature?  Why no man-lands?  If you are going to have fixers enter the battlefield tapped, they should do something.  Guildgates are useless outside of limited.

But the creatures in this deck are fun.  It is good to have no less than five legendary creatures.

And that ton of rares was also nice.

Like I mentioned, Myriad is useless against a single player.  You have to have multi-player games for that to matter.

But like I said, the deck has been fun overtime.  So I am going to rate it a cautious 4/5, because of the strange mana base.  But it is a winner, and is fun.

Do you agree or disagree…let me know in the comments, oh Hub City Geeks!

 

 

 

 

 

SpartanNerd Review…Commander 2015 “Plunder the Graves”

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My unboxing experience of “Plunder the Graves” is similar to the last Commander deck I unboxed and reviewed, “Call the Spirits.”  I tried filming the sleeving…but failed at that miserably.  So, here is my review of the deck, post-opening.  I didn’t get far, so I reassembled the cards into the deck as they came.  But I did take pictures.  (I have lost the backside of the box pic, though.)

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You get this when you open the box.  I just threw away the rules reference card and the little tray.  The box is a nice box for storing cards, but it is too small to hold this deck when sleeved.  I think it’s an odd choice to use purple and black on the box.  But it looks cool!  Below are some pictures of the guide to playing this deck.

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Is this deck as good as “Call the Spirits?”  Keep reading…

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Here are the tokens.  They are two sided…so flipping them, you get…

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This deck makes heavy use of the tokens.  It is good to see all of these included.

CREATURES

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First, we get a lot of “utility” style creatures.  You just don’t play a graveyard deck without some of these.  Eternal Witness is an absolute staple in basically every green Commander deck.  Satyr Wayfinder and Sakura Tribe Elder are as well.  And most black commander deck’s I’ve seen include Shriekmaw and Pharexian Rager.

The only card here I haven’t ever seen, (I don’t think) is Skullwinder.  (I looked it up.  This is the first printing.)   You get a creature from your graveyard, and get to give an opponent a card back…”group hug.”

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These five cards are good utility.  All of them except for Acidic Slime were printed just for this set.  Banshee of the Dread Choir and Caller of the Pack have “Myriad,” an ability that creates a copy of the attacking card tapped and attacking each opponent.  (This discourages “group hug.”)  Thief of Blood is removal, he takes every counter and turns them into +1/+1.  This targets loyalty counters on Planeswalkers, charge counters, or any other counters on the battlefield.  This kills many creatures, whose power and toughness are tied to counters.

The Great Oak Guardian is a big creature with reach that can be flashed in. Printed for Commander, and only good for Commander.

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Not too many artifacts in this deck.  The ever present Sol Ring.  A reprint of Skullcap and Lightning Greaves.  (I love the flavor text on Lightning Greaves!)  Golgari Signet, and the new mana rock, Thought Vessel.

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Some more utility cards.  I am a big fan of Diabolic Servitude, and now own a copy of each printing!  Altar’s Reap is a fun card.  Go ahead and chump block away!  Then play Altar’s Reap and draw two cards.  Sick!  Purify, Grisly Salvage, and Golgari Charm are all very flavorful green/black utility cards, with Golgari Charm being a star.  Mulch is some good ramp, and Tribute to the Wild is a new card.  “Each opponent sacrifices an artifact or creature.”

LEGENDARY CREATURES

 

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Now for our legendary creatures.  Since I didn’t show you the unboxing, here is the oversized card for the commander that this deck was made for. Mere of the Clan Nel Toth.  She’s good!  Each time one of your creatures dies, be it a token or a “real” creature, and Meren is on the battlefield, YOU get an experience counter.  Experience counters work like Poison counters…there is no way to make you get rid of them.  In this deck, they let you return creatures either to your hand or to the graveyard.  In a “reanimator” strategy like we have in this deck, Meren is super powerful.

Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest is another new general.  Anytime someone sacrifices a permanent, all of YOUR creatures get a +1/+1 counter.  As good as Meren is, I can’t wait to try out Mazirek!  Just think…how many ways do people sacrifice their permanents…(fetch lands, sac outlets, payment requirements, triggered abilities, and on and on.)  And Commander makes combing off by sacrificing things really work.  With Mazirek on the battlefield, all of your guys can become immense quickly.

And then there’s Jarrad, Golgari Lich Lord.  I always liked him in the Ravnica block.  But he is also a value commander at two blacks and two greens, probably going to be huge.  And you can use him to really hurt your opponents, who Doom Blade your Terastodon…just sac him to Jarrad’s ability on his way to the graveyard, and drain them.  The other thing about Jarrad, he can avoid being put into the command zone.  He is easy to get back out of the graveyard if you can sacrifice a Swamp and a Forest.

RARES

It is amazing how many rare’s the Wizards include in these Commander sets!

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Scourge of the Nel Toth…you had me at “Zombie Dragon.”  Eldrazi Monument…lets make everything fly and have indestructible!

(This may be the “money card” of the future.)

Great to see one of the most underrated cards ever.  Lotleth Troll.  I love this guy!  You get to ditch creature cards from your hand to beef him up with +1/+1 counters and kill their attacker.  At INSTANT SPEED!  and if you have a spare black, you can regenerate him!  You have a way to discard creatures to your graveyard, create a fatty, and remove their creatures.  Incredible card!

Dread Summons…you can make yourself and you opponents mill.  And all of the creatures that made it into the the graveyard net you a zombie!

(2/2 zombie tokens.  Great blockers and bodies to sacrifice.  Which gets you experience counters….)

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These cards are amazing.  Bonehoard is a living weapon that cares about the number of creatures in ALL graveyards.  Eater of Hope….a big flying demon with awesome relevant abilities!  Verdant Force…you get a 1/1 sapling at each upkeep.  Terastodon….just give them a few green elephants instead of Isochron Scepters, Cavern of Souls or whatever other mess they have out!

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A couple of rare lands.  It is especially good to see High Market reprinted here.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen Grim Backwoods.  Both lands let you sacrifice creatures reliably.  Extractor Demon is just good.

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I’ve had the chance to play Victimize…it’s fun.  Spider Spawning can really scare you opponent with flyers.  Barter in Blood…one of the ways to make your opponent sacrifice their creatures.  Rise from the grave…incredible.  I haven’t had the chance to play Primal Growth yet, but I think it is a beautiful card…I can’t wait to play it!

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Of course we get some basic lands….

And then some utility lands.

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I said it before, and say it now.  Tainted Wood should be legal in Modern.  Every other land here is except Command Tower, (but it would have no use anyway…)

PLAYING THE DECK

I forgot how much I enjoy playing black/green!  I have played this strategy to some success back in the Return to Ravnica block.

My matches so far have worked best when I have chumps early game.  Loading the graveyard is a good choice in this deck.

In my first game, (Against Derevi, Empyreal Tactitian) , I was forced to ditch Lotleth Troll.  I was disappointed, to say the least.  But not too bad, because I got him back within five turns, and got to ditch Verdant Force and Terastadon.  And I took a pointer from the Graveborn deck, and put Diabolique Servitude on Terastadon, and it was GG for me when I cast Overwhelming Stampede!

I played it against the Defeat a God challenge deck.  As usual, Xenagos and his army of satyrs got me down to an almost game over life total.  But then  the deck’s ability to create tokens saved my bacon.  And 2/2 zombies are just the correct power and toughness to die when blocking, netting experience counters and letting you return basically any card you want from the graveyard to the battlefield.  The SpartanNerd might not be all that smart…all of this didn’t occur to me until it happened…..

The third and most recent match was a three-player game against Oloro, Ageless Ascetic and Nahiri, the Lithomancer.  A pretty striking contrast to Oloro…Plunder the Graves has almost NO WAY to gain life.  (And that is just about all Oloro does.)  But this deck has answers to Nahiri.  To start with, Golgari Charm just puts 1/1 chumps out of business.  And the deck has plenty of targeted removal spells for anything problematic.  Unfortunately, there are almost ZERO chump flyers in this deck.

Basically, it came down to Emeria the Sky Ruin is better at reanimating things, so Nahiri can get a Stoneforged Blade out, …  And so it took its first loss.

MONETARY VALUE?

I don’t see much here.  High Market?  nope.  TCGplayer has Meren of the Clan Nel Toth at around $10.  So all around, you get a good value if you paid  MSRP $35.

SPARTANNERD’S RATING

This deck is fun.  No question.  I love playing re-animator, and black green is a good combination for that strategy.

Could it be improved?  Oh yes.  Entomb would be insane.  Hero’s Downfall.  Raven’s crime?  Life from the Loam?  Treasured Find?  All of these could improve the deck.  And could have been reprinted…The wizards missed a chance.  Maybe they didn’t want to put all the good reanimators in one deck?  The new Liliana would also work really well here.

So I’m going to rate “Plunder the Graves” a 4/5.  It’s fun enough to get this rating.  I really like Meren!  But it could have been improved from THIS reanimators point of view.

The SpartanNerd rates Magic the Gathering Commander 2015 “Plunder the Graves” a 4/5.  Do you agree or disagree?  Let me know in the comments!