SpartanNerd Vintage Unboxing and Review…”Obscure Ascension” Magic the Gathering Event Deck (Dark Ascension, French)

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The SpartanNerd has been on vacation!  In case any readers haven’t figured that out!  I have been shopping at places not local to Spartanburg.  I was looking for things I have never seen, or can’t get here.  No luck in some cases.  For instance, I would like a Star Wars Black Darth Maul.

At White Widow Games in Myrtle Beach, SC, I came across this gem.  It is the Dark Ascension Event Deck, only entirely in FRENCH!  A truly unique find.  And only $20!  Maybe the only one in South Carolina.  SEALED!  I have reviewed many Magic the Gathering Event Decks… Keep on reading to see how this one measures up!  This is the oldest event deck I have ever reviewed.

“Obscure Ascension” means “Dark Ascension.”  I have limited, and generally negative, experience with the French language. Just some singing in college that kicked my butt!  Interesting that the word “Obscure” equals “Dark.”  But that kind of makes sense, right?  The French would probably only use “dark” for absence of light, rather than meaning “mysteriously evil.”  One thing I picked up from the study of foreign language, is that English is just about the only language to have tons of different meanings for the same word.

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The back has all of this French wording.  I have no idea what it says.  Probably similar to what is on the back of the other event decks I have reviewed.  “The right deck for now.  Jump right in…this deck is competitive.”  They generally aren’t, however.  This deck is actually titled “Flammes Espiegel.”  “Flames of Joy,” or “Flames of Glee.”  Something like that.

So it is a burn deck.

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You get the exact same crummy box that the other event decks come in.  As much as I am down on them, I use them!  Here you can see what it looks like on the inside when you first open it.

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Here are the contents.  A deck with a sideboard, two pieces of paper…one a guide to playing Magic, and the other a guide to playing this deck.  Both in French, so I can’t read them.  Then there is the handy divider and the life counter, which has the Dark Ascension expansion symbol on the number 20.

I just threw away the guide to playing.  It probably says “You are a planeswalker!” in French.  I don’t have to be told that anymore!

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This deck is a mono-red deck.  A little odd..most of the Event decks I have reviewed are two color decks.  There are 21 mountains in this deck, each with the word “Montagne” across the top, and the text “Terrain de base: montagne”.  The lands are the same lands from the Innistraad block.

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You get five utility lands, including…WHAT’s THAT?!!!  “Nexus des enormities”…Where have I seen this…?  KABAAM!

“Ink moth Nexus.”  TWO COPIES!  Basically one of the greatest “man-lands” ever printed.  You can pay one colorless to transform it into a 1/1 flyer with infect.

These two cards make the deck TRIPLE THE VALUE of what I paid for it!  So, the SpartanNerd is a happy boy!

The other three lands are “Haunted Fengraf.”  You can pay three, sac the land, and return a creature to your hand.

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The creatures in this deck…I will just tell you who they are and what they do.

Forge Devil, top left.  When he enters the battlefield, you take a damage, as well as target creature.

Goblin Arsonist, top middle, When he dies, target player loses one life.

Top right, Flameslinger Goblin. tap him to send one damage to target player.

Goblin Gaveleer, bottom left, he gets an extra +2/+0 for each equipment attached to him.  He also has trample.

Torch Fiend, bottom middle, pay a red mana, sacrifice him, and destroy target artifact.

Hellrider, bottom right. the largest creature and about the highest mana cost in the deck.  He sends one damage to target player for each attacking creature.  He also has haste!  Not currently a valuable card.  However, back close to the time Innistraad block was about to rotate out, he was fairly valuable.  About a twelve dollar card.

So studying the creatures reveals to us that this deck is not only a burn deck, but almost a a Goblin Tribal deck as well.  And the creatures here exist for the sole purpose of smash, destroy, and damage.

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The other main-deck spells are…

Infiltration Lens, top left, whenever equipped creature becomes blocked by a creature, draw two cards.  An artifact equipment.

Faithless Looting, top middle, draw two cards, then discard two cards.  This one’s french name almost threw me…”Pillage sans foi.”  My thought was “Pillar of Flame.”  But that didn’t seem right…as the art didn’t seem to indicate it.  So I looked it up.  This is the card that really helped me figure out how to translate the others!

Goblin Grenade. Top right.  A sorcery, and one of your main game plans.  Sac a goblin, send five damage to your opponent.  The beautiful thing to do is attack first with Goblin Arsonist, who they generally avoid blocking, then in second main phase sacrifice him to Goblin Grenade.  BAM.  Seven damage.

Curse of the Stalked Prey.  Bottom left.  Aura Curse.  You enchant your opponent, and then any creatures that hit them get a +1/+1 counter.

Brimstone Volley, bottom center.  Your other “main plan.”  An instant with a “morbid” trigger.  Three damage to target creature or player.  But if something had already died this turn, then the spell does five damage instead!

Artillerize, bottom right  Sacrifice an artifact or creature as an additional cost, and then Artilleries deals five damage to target creature or player!

Playing the Deck

Playing this deck means using the goblins, and maximizing value with them by sacrificing them in many cases.

I like how solidly focused on that goal the deck is!  You have four copies of most creatures!  And four copies of other things you need, like Artillerize and Brimstone Volley!

This deck could be a little stronger if it used “Lightning Bolt.”  But I’m thinking that wasn’t allowed in Standard at the time.  Maybe a way to appease burn players who had recently lost their Lightning Bolts.

In its day, it probably was a great Standard deck!

There is a sideboard…

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Gut Shot, top left, a card with pharexian mana as the cost.  At instant speed, you get one damage to target creature or player.

Torpor orb, top center, this prevents “enters the battlefield” triggers from happening.  Important!

Act of Treason, top right, gain control of the opponents creature, untap it, and give it haste.  Then use it as your attacker for this turn!  Or even sacrifice it!

Arc Trail, bottom left, deals two damage to target creature or player, and one damage to another target creature or player.  Another card with four copies!

Dismember, bottom middle, the only black card in this deck, uses pherexian mana, and is handy to get an indestructible creature.  (Target creature gets -5/-5 until the end of turn.)  This card is currently a popular choice; it was re-printed in Modern Masters 2015!

Into the Core, exile two target artifacts.

Thinking back to what I know, this sideboard addresses affinity decks, cards with indisctructible, and land destruction., giving you something to do using Pharexian mana.  At the time of Innistrad/Scars of Mirrodin, this would have been really sound.  Scars was really before my time of playing Magic.  But I am somewhat aware of “Caw Blade.”

SpartanNerd Thoughts on “Dark Ascension Event Deck.”

I don’t play burn.  And I don’t play infect.  (Infect isn’t the main plan of this deck.  The Inkmoth Nexus is here so you can be assured to have a creature to sac..)

The SpartanTeen used to play burn, and Goblins when he used to play MTG.  If he ever comes back, he can use this deck!

I’ll admit, though, it is a fun deck to play.  I was tempted to take it to the Modern Tournament, just for its fun, and to test it some more for this review.  But I really wanted to win Path to Exile, (and I did!  With Esper Reanimator Control.)

This deck stands up against most of the pre-constructed decks I own.

It has beaten Elves (From the Duel Deck Anthology) as well as the Angel deck.  It has beaten the Monsters deck from Heroes vs. Monsters.  Not that it hasn’t lost some to these decks as well.  But it is competitive against them.  Oh yes.  It beat Chandra from Jace vs. Chandra as well!  That’s burn vs. burn!

Changing the deck

How could we update or change it for Modern?  First of all, I believe switching the strategy from Artillerize to Lightning bolt will be important.  Then maybe switching out Infiltration lens to faithless looting for card draw.  Then updating the creature bombs some.I would avoid any Planeswalkers.  I can’t think of any that would help with the goal of send as much damage as possible.  Maybe add some scry via Magma Jet or something.

SpartanNerd’s rating of “Obscure Ascension” Magic the Gathering Event Deck (Dark Ascension, French)

I can’t take off any points. For any reason.  And the fact that it is worth three times what I paid for it, and in French, makes this a SOLID 5/5!  It is by far the best event deck I have ever purchased, with four copies of each important card.  None of the other event decks I have purchased or reviewed even approach this deck.  Most of them have three copies or two copies of two cards.  Most of them feel like souped up starter decks.  This one, definitely competitive.

The SpartanNerd rates the French printing of the Dark Ascension Event Deck a 5/5.  Do you agree or disagree?  Let me know in the comments!

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SpartanNerd Unboxing, Playtest, and Review….Journey to Nyx Event Deck

All week I have been preparing for a modern MTG tournament at The Tangled Web, the only local comic book and cards store here in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

The only problem…when I got there..I found out it was a STANDARD TOURNAMENT!

So no “Amulet of Vigor/Primeval Titan” action for me…and furthermore, I hadn’t brought a suitable Standard deck!

Luckily there is a product for one such desperate weekender as me…an EVENT DECK!

(Many thanks to the store owner for knocking a little off of the price for me in my situation.  It was much appreciated, and I implore ANY reader to find this store and shop from there.  They are very nice people.  And the community of Magic players there are very competitive, generally kind, welcoming to new people, good sports, and challenging opponents as well.  You people who don’t live near here only WISH you were so lucky to have such a thing near you to regularly express your nerdery!)

 

All that said.  Here are pictures, and my review of the product!

Here it is.  Fresh in the package just before opening.  (It is sitting on my angel playmat.)

Here it is. Fresh in the package just before opening. (It is sitting on my angel playmat.)

 

2 box unsleeved

This is what the box looks like unsleeved.

 

3 box back

 

4 uninspiring message

You get this rather un-inspiring message…the deck is titled “Wrath of Mortals.” REALLY! (MTG has a famous card, “Wrath of God,” which supposedly destroys all creatures with one big move.) So this is kind of a lame title. Wrath or Mortals.

 

5 spindown counter

I’m glad the life counter actually matches the deck this time. (If you have been reading my blog, you know it kind of bothers me when the dice doesn’t match!)

7 divider

You get this divider

8 inserts

And these two pieces of paper. You know what is going to happen to the one on the right?

 

9 decklist 10 thaumaturge art 11 Harness By Force art

These three images show the important stuff on the papers.  Note the DECKLIST!  I really enjoy the art from “Journey Into Nyx”  That’s why I’m showing you this!

 

12 creatures

Here is the suite of creatures you get.  These are really good creatures, in general.  There are a few that I generally sided out, or just plain took out before the match.  More on that later.

13 chimera 14 Guttersnipe 15 YP

 

These three were the best creatures.  Especially “Spellheart Chimera.”  I have actually made a deck for SpartanSmurf #1 featuring this card before.  He wouldn’t ever play it…(he said he didn’t like the way the chimera looked…ingrate!)  But when I saw this in the deck at a full four copies, and that “Young Pyromancer” and “Guttersnipe” were in here, I knew that this wasn’t going to be an entirely new thing for me after all!  For once, it seems an event deck has a solid strategy!

 

16 Ogre 17 Aetherling 18 Daring Thief 19 Oracle 20 BThaumaturge

For this deck, I could take or leave these guys.  “Aetherling” is a great card always, and he got me one win.  I never saw “Ogre Battledriver” all night.  I actually added more “Battlefield Thaumaturge.”  But he isn’t all he’s cracked up to be.  Usually he would get burned off before you could use him.  And this deck has a curious lack of “strive”cards to allow his first ability to work.  You also probably won’t ever get his heroic to trigger in this deck.  There isn’t even a single aura spell in the deck.  “Daring Thief” was always killed off before he could untap.  I only saw “Oracle of Bones” once all day.  I did get a free burn spell out of him!

 

21 Chandra Phoenix

“Chandra’s Phoenix” is almost more burn spell than creature!  Too bad you only get one.

 

Now for the instants and sorceries.

40 edited sorceries

The most notable of these is “Lightning Strike.”  You get four full copies.  But it is rather generic.  The most fun is probably “Searing Blood.”  I mean, a card like this is really format warping.  Creature burn with player burn all for just two red…amazing!  Great for hitting those mana elves.  I was pleased to get a copy of the red board sweepers, “Mizzium Mortars” and “Anger of the Gods.”  I never saw “Steam Augury” all day.  But “Divination” was a star!

(“Searing Blood” is comparable to “Bile Blight”, in my opinion.  A card that really discourages chumps.)

Now for the lands.  This is where the trumpet says “WAA, Waa, waa.”

34 Land

You get 12 mountains, 8 islands, and 4….GUILDGATES.  REALLY?  NOT EVEN A SINGLE SCRY LAND?  NO SHOCK LAND? NO MANA CONFLUENCE?

Nope.  You get slow-butt guildgates for mana-fixing.  They might as well have just given us 4 more islands.

This is one of the areas where Event Decks in the past generally drop the ball as well.  The main deck cards are pretty good, so I guess they decided to skimp in this area.  Don’t want you to be too successful.

This deck came with a sideboard as well.

35 Sideboard

I sided in every card here at least once, except for “Izzet Staticaster.”  Not really sure why he is here.  I guess to flash in and block someone but not actually hurt them.  I think I will change this card to “Goblin Electromancer” when I get the chance.  The Elixir is always a star.  Basically, I swapped out the Battlefield Thamaturges whenever I sided, as well as “Ogre Battledriver”, “Aetherling”, or anything else that I only had one copy of and switched to a more “control” game.  It is hard to straddle the fence, though, playing burn and control.  The upside is, the “Spellheart Chimera” got to be a surprise big flyer a few times.  Too bad his toughness is only 3.  This makes him susceptible to being killed by bigger flyers, namely “Stormbreath Dragon.”

PLAYING THE DECK.

36 what I changed out

Before I began, I asked my opponent to oblige me in letting me get my head around the deck.  I had a few minutes to “improve it.”  First thing I did was swap two guildgates for “Mana Confluence,” which was in the modern deck I intended to play.  Next I added two more “Battlefield Thaumaturges” from my trade binder, and added “Keranos, God of Storms” and “Niv Mizzet, Dracogenius” from SpartanSmurf #1’s trade binder.  I can’t remember what I swapped out….  Regardless, I was wrong about Battlefield Thaumaturge.  He sucks in this deck.  Maybe not some other deck.  But this one isn’t a place where he shines.  Keranos was good.  He got me at least one win, but I never had my devotion high enough to make him a creature.  Niv Mizzet got me two wins.

Adding these cards got me some attention.  People said “Really?  That comes in the Event Deck?”  But I had to set them straight that I modified it so that I could have a fighting chance.

This deck performed well against green decks that depend on “Elvish Mystic.”  It did well against a Dimir deck that tries to mill you to death and hit you with “Consuming Aberation”.  It did well against red-green at least once.

The deck didn’t do well against “Courser of Kruphix”, who pretty much takes away your burn advantage.  It also didn’t do well against “Prophet of Kruphix,” who makes it so that your opponent can always respond to what you are doing and gives every creature flash.  So Kruphix is the enemy of this deck, it seems!  Also “Stormbreath Dragon” did pretty well against it, but I was able to “Fated Conflagration” him more than once, as well as a “Palukranos, World Eater” once.  Surprisingly, I didn’t see a Black Devotion deck for the entire tournament!

At the end of the day, I had five single wins.  Which means I went 2 wins 3 losses.  Not bad for a deck I never played before, and just bought so I could have something to do instead of pout about bringing the wrong deck.

 

The JOURNEY TO NYX Event Deck gets 3/5.  I took a point off for a poor mana base.  The other point comes off because Battlefield Thaumaturge would probably be better replaced with “Omenspeaker,” who at least lets you Scry 2.

Do you agree?  What would you rate the Journey to Nyx Event Deck?  Let me know in the comments!