SpartanNerd Unveiling…Gundam Sweet Beats!

Girls.  Maybe I have girls on the brain?  I recently ordered some more “Fluttershy” My Little Pony card sleeves for my Liliana, Heretical Healer Commander deck.  I reviewed “Rey (Jakku) & BB-8.”  And today I decided to unveil my secret project, mentioned almost a year ago.

I have slowly worked on this project, with the SpartanTeen and SpartanKid hotly curious about what I was going to do.  (In their minds it was a kind of contest.)  I promised them I would do something they never saw before, something almost entirely original.  And something with a cheap budget.

The SpartanTeen put together a fantastic Master Grade Gundam Sinanju.  SpartanKid put together SD Build Burning.  But I went a completely different direction altogether.

Today I unveiled “Gundam Sweet Beats” to the SpartanChildren, and am revealing her to the world!

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Gundam Sweet Beats is a combination of spare parts from two different Super Deformed kits and also the Strawberry Shortcake “Sweet Beats” doll.  Review Here.

Sweet Beats usually just hangs around strawberry plants.

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Sometimes she rips it up on guitar.

But in a rare mood, she completely transforms into a glorious giant robot, powered with strawberry scent!

Now to talk about the project a little bit.  I mentioned in my review that the doll has an unsightly waistline, as well as hair that you can’t do much with.  Well I made the waistline problem EVEN WORSE by melting a slot into it so that the jetpack can fit on her properly.

The hair has been improved.  I tried to make it really straight, like typical asian little girls to match the anime idea.  I never could get the natural “wave” out.  But still, I discovered by combing it compulsively, it slowly improved.

The “crown” piece from the gundam…well I thought I would “implant” that into Strawberry Shortcakes head.  Bad move.  Then she just had a hole in her head, and the crown wouldn’t stay on.  I super-glued some hair in place to cover the new wound, and went to plan B, which was attach it to the sunglasses, which I didn’t care for anyway.  Remember when I said the sunglasses needed something else?  Super Deformed Gundam’s decal stickers were perfect!

I had to do some destructive modification to some of the gundam parts, and Sweet Beats has FAT FEET.  So it was hard to get those feet pieces to become shoes.  But they work.  Barely.  The waist piece had to be cut, melted, and shaped to fit around her properly.  Those little engine things over her shoulders are actually the jet engines from  somewhere else on a different gundam.  And the things on her wrist are wrist pieces.

Finally, I thought I would go all out with the hair bow, and there still is a little work to do.  I intend to super-glue that to a real hair bow.  I thought about using the little one that came with Strawberry shortcake, but decided I wanted to keep that like it is.

I complained a little bit about Star Wars Black Rey (Jakku) having sloppy paint.  But of course my painting is WAY WORSE.  So maybe I should stop complaining?

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I got the idea for this project from the end credits of Gundam Build Fighters, which features a child in Gundam armor doing things.

I designed the project so that the pieces can be removed, and the doll can be played with as intended, in regular Strawberry Shortcake mode, or rockstar mode.

There ARE some “Gundam Girl” figures out there.  I wrestled with the idea of doing one of those…I also considered things like getting a Harley Quinn figure or Super Girl and gundamizing it…as much as people want to say that comic characters are over-sexualized, it was actually hard to find a female figure “nude” enough.  (It was my idea to make a sexy figure at first.)  In the end, it was better to go with cute.  And the super deformed parts match the “cute” motif better.

Gundam Sweet Beats will be on display in my music classroom!  I keep a lot of toys on display, but as I mentioned before, I don’t have many girls toys.

I’m not going to rate my own work.  Leave a comment and tell me what you think!

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SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review…Lego Speed Champions

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LEGO SPEED CHAMPIONS!  These caught my eye at Toys ‘r’ Us in early spring as I walked through with the SpartanKid…bored out of my mind.  When I told the SpartanTeen about it, well…he was seriously psyched.

Finally, we had the chance to go together and pick one out.  I chose the Porsche 918 Spyder, and he chose a Ford Mustang GT.

Was all of the anticipation worth it?  Keep reading!  This will be a double review…

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The box for the Porsche looks like this, showcasing the car, driver, and the little flag in the background.  We see the target age of 7-14, and 151 pieces included to build the kit.

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The back of the box gives us some action views, and some specs for the real car.  0-60 in 2.5 seconds….WOW!

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The side of the box shows off the mini figure driver.  Not sure if he is supposed to represent a real person.  He’s cool in his green and black color scheme.

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The Mustang GT has a similar box, showcasing LAP TIME instead of a flag.  I imagine if you collect all of the sets, the little pieces will add a lot of details to your racetrack!  This set is notably 185 pieces…odd, because it was three dollars less expensive than the Porsche.  ($17.99 and 14.99, respectively.)  I theorize it has something to do with the pack-in ratio.

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We get some action poses on the back.  But no spec information like the other model.  And model is the operative word here…

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The driver sports blue and white.

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Both boxes have this easy access feature.  It is a perforated tab and flap to keep the box reusable.  So that’s nice.  If I was a kid, I would be interested in looking at this box over and over.  As a grown-up SpartanNerd, I am keeping the Lego boxes of all of the sets I open for organized storage.  I’m just crazy like that!

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Both sets have the pieces polybagged.  No numbers on these bags, like in the Ninjago Dragon.  Just all-business polybag.

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I won’t chronicle the build of the Mustang so much…The SpartanTeen put it together his own way.  I put mine together my way.  So I patiently organized my parts by color.  (He just free-for-alls with his pieces.)

After I built the car, I had these pieces left over!  Was it difficult to build?  Not at all.  Not the most interesting thing to build…I mean…it’s a car.  My only complaint is that the flag only had a sticker for one side…it clearly should have had two.

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Here is the final build.

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The wrench is a tool for the driver to hold, but it also serves another function as a separator tool for the hubcaps.  You can replace them with those seen above in the extra pieces.

Here are the leftovers from the SpartanTeen’s Mustang GT.  Not as many….He hit a snag in that one of his pieces was missing.  But he went to the spare lego parts and accommodated.

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And here is his final build.  (His driver is inside the car.)

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And the burning question I suppose everyone is asking, which car is faster?  We tested them by rolling them down a flat ramp.  The Mustang GT is fastest by a mile.  It is heavier, having more pieces.

So what do I rate these two Lego cars?  I mentioned that the build was kind of unremarkable.  It’s true.  But It IS just a car.

As a model, it looks like a lego version of the real thing.  BUT, there are a few things that could be improved.  The wheels stay straight.  There are no opening and closing doors.  No lights.  No spring action.  No working motor.  It functions as a push toy…like a big, plain hot wheels.

It is a great looking model.  It comes with exclusive mini-figures.  The extra accessory pieces could come together to make a great play set.  It was pretty affordable…the SpartanWife thought a little too expensive, but really, $15 is about par for the course when talking about basic toys nowadays.

I could see a grandparent buying ten of these for a grandchild at Christmas and keeping them busy for hours.

I have to rate it low because of what it lacks, but high because of how cool it is, and the playability.  Additionally, they are pretty durable, taking a pretty forceful hit against a paneling wall and only losing an exhaust pipe (In the case of the Mustang GT.)

So I am going to rate it 3.5 out of 5.  I don’t usually do decimals, but this is a little better than a 3/5.  I had fun doing something with my teenager, and tons of other adult fathers could have a similar experience with their child

I am catching a bug for building Lego sets…first Nexo Knights, then Chima, then a Ninjago Dragon, and now Speed Champions…What will I do next?  (I’m thinking about the girls oriented Elves!)

SpartanNerd Unboxing and Review… Shadows Over Innistrad Booster Battle Pack

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There is a new offering from Wizards of the Coast to help new players learn how to get into Magic the Gathering.  It is the “Shadows Over Innistrad” Booster Battle Pack.

I did what I shouldn’t, and picked up the Booster Battle Pack at Wal-Mart for $9.99.  This is important, because the Wizards say that they specifically made this product to sell in stores like Wal-Mart, Target, etc…not specialty comic book stores.

So what does the SpartanNerd think?  I’ll let you know, and also will let the SpartanKid fill you in as well!

So the Booster Battle Pack has a big picture of Jace looking at a clue…the same image that is all over the place on Shadows Over Innistrad products.

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The back of the box gives you a contents list, and some light instructions.  I like this box in general…and I liked it even more when I opened it!

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Inside was this cardboard sleeve…the sleeve held the two decks intended to battle against one another, and also two booster packs as well.  In fact…I considered just purchasing two booster packs instead of this…but it was barely more expensive at Wal-Mart…so that’s why I went ahead and got this…plus…I wanted to review something new.

The sleeve has instructions on what to do…Unwrap the decks.  Decide who plays what.  Open booster packs.  Add five cards of the decks color.  Shuffle and play.  Easy…right…

Keep reading.

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Here is the contents all on display.  The little piece of paper at the top right is the quick reference guide…not really too useful for this product as it is meant for 60 card decks.

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The two decks feature two special rares…these are legal cards in Standard as long as Shadows Over Innistrad is legal.  They are from a special smaller set, however, called Welcome 16.  Basically, specialty stores like The Tangled Web in Spartanburg get free decks to give to new players…these decks are those exact things.  But when you purchase the Booster Battle Pack, you don’t know what colors the decks will be.  Luckily for me, these are my two colors…Black being my favorite, and White being my secondary color.

Aegis Angel…why don’t you ever see play?  Because you are a six drop with an ability that is better handed out a different way.  Nightmare…I always say Black is best…this is because it can do everything every other color can do.  With an evil slant.  Nightmare is black’s version of a big green vanilla monster.  But at six drop…he isn’t very good.

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Here is the black deck…with its contents displayed.  Twelve swamps plus a Blighted Fen, and seventeen other cards.    The two Demons Grasp are strong removal against the white cards in the other deck.  Not too good in Standard, though.  This is the kind of thing you draft…a late pick usually.  Dead Weight is better.  Mind Rot is here…and I had thought that card rotated out.  But this is the Welcome 16 version.  So I will happily consider using it again!  Sengir Vampire represents Innistrad pretty good., as does Walking Corpse and the other vampires and zombies.  Zulaport Cutthroat is a star in Standard right now.

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The White Deck is just about perfectly balanced against the black deck.  It has twelve plains, a Blighted Steppe, and seventeen other cards.  Aegis Angel gets a few angel friends…Serra Angel is a classic.  You don’t get the same kind of removal here…Smite the Monstrous is the only card dedicated to removal.  You also get some pump spells, which are more in the spirit of white anyway.  There is some light life gain.  But overall, this deck is about as bland as the black one.

The SpartanKid has something to say..”I think the white deck is out of place in innnistrad right now.”  I believe he is correct.  Besides the angels, most of the flavor seems to be Oath of the Gatewatch/ Battle for Zendikar related.

 

Now I am going to show you the two booster packs.  And then we’ll have a laugh.  Here is the first one.

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Did you notice anything?  That’s right.  Only two white cards.  And three black cards.  Could we take five cards from this pack and add to our deck?  NOPE.

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I pulled a pretty good rare…only in red.  “Pretty irrelevant” said the SpartanKid.

 

Here is the second pack.

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Four white cards, and two black cards.  One awesome thing about Shadows Over Innistrad boosters is sometimes…a lot of times you get more than one rare.  In this case, I got two.  (You COULD have three if you happen to get a foil!)

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So I did the sensible thing.  I chose the five cards to add to each deck from the two booster packs.

Some kids whose parent buy this for them might have a problem sharing….This game is at its essence a trading card game.  But I could potentially see some kids having a problem.  And then there is the fact that one of the rares is white, and there isn’t an additional black rare to balance it.  And if you are sharing…who gets the other cards?  Since there is only a single blue basic land in one of them, a new player might not even know what red land or green land even looks like.

So how does the Shadows Over Innistrad Booster Battle Pack play out?

Me and the SpartanKid played a few matches…as much as we could bear.  The 35 card decks make it different than any other format.  The other thing…this is Magic the Gathering at its blandest.  You CAN get some sense of what each color (white and black) can do.  The decks are flavorful only in the most basic sense.  (Demons Grasp, Zombies, Vampires for black, Angels and small guys for white.)

I wonder how effective of a tool to teach Magic the Gathering this Booster Battle Pack actually is?  I tried to imagine myself…a brand new player.  And then put together and play these two decks…Let’s just say I did.  And somehow decided I liked it.  So I went to a tournament with my 35 card deck.  NOT ALLOWED.  You have to have at least 60 cards.  Let’s just say the store owner gives me a freebie deck to match.  Then I get smashed by someone with a real constructed deck.  Say…Blue White spirits, Black Red Vampires, LSV’s  Cryptolith Rite thing, or gasp…what if it were a Modern tournament!

The SpartanKid had something to say…and it sums up my feelings as well.

“It’s pretty boring to play.  So it might be discouraging for people trying to learn Magic.”

The mind of a ten year old!  (A seasoned player…he’s been playing for almost five years.)

I’m glad to add the rares to my binder.  Maybe I’ll use them in Commander.  Maybe.

I did enjoy the packaging!  I like the little cardboard sleeve that holds it all together with tension.  In fact, we used that the whole time we tested the two decks.  It works fine for that small amount of unsleeved cards.  And the larger box is pretty useful in general for whatever.  So the wizards do get an A for the packaging.

That doesn’t excuse the poor execution and reasoning behind this product.  If they wanted to teach new players…they should come up with a different way.    That the boosters didn’t contain enough cards of the colors required was annoying.  And that is supposed to be random…so how can they make that suggestion with confidence?  The Booster Battle Pack wasn’t worth $9.99.  It could have been worth more if the rares in the booster packs were better.  But they weren’t.  So the free deck from the comic book store, plus the two boosters are supposed to equal that price, but in this case they weren’t.  So…

One more thing…The Wizards assert that this little set is supposed to evoke some of the feeling of playing sealed deck.  BAH HUMBUG.  I really enjoy sealed.  Because it’s fun…(especially Shadows Over Innistrad sealed, where i’ve played three times since its release.)

So I give the Magic the Gathering Shadows Over Innistrad Booster Battle Pack a 1/5.

It might be a good starting point for a person…but if I were them I’d bank on starting with an intro pack…which will probably still fare janky in a tournament, but at least be legal.

Not only doesn’t it do a good job of teaching the game, as well as fails to give you a playable tournament deck, it also leaves some components to chance, including the after-market value.  In my case it wasn’t worth $9.99.  (Luckily I just spent my scraped up change I found in my office at work!)  Not only those things, it was also bland and boring.  I advise anyone who loves playing MTG to avoid this like the plague unless you just want some Welcome 16 cards.  I also advise you to tell other people…new players especially to try starting out a different way.  Finally, avoid buying Magic Cards at Wal-Mart, Target, Toys-r-Us, etc.  Get them from your local gaming or comic book store if you can.  This will be better for you SOUL in the long run.  This product just adds more of the bland stuff the big box stores sell to their inventory.  Send a message…don’t buy it.

So how would the SpartanNerd encourage new players to learn to play?  What suggestions could he offer to the Wizards?  I think I shall write my NEXT post about that.

 

SpartanNerd Review-Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice

Long time no blog….Should I drop some spoilers?  Not yet.  But I will give you some overall thoughts.

 

This movie is serious.  It is for the DC Comics fan.  It is long.  And it sets the stage for upcoming movies.  Exactly like DC does with its comics.  (Teasers for Convergence were WAY back in Action Comics at the beginning of The New 52.)

 

Since I am a comics fan, and have been vested in DC for several years, most recently absorbing all of the New 52 Batman stuff, I enjoyed this movie.  I had to explain a few things to the SpartanKid, who hasn’t been as invested as me.  (He just reads Sonic the Hedgehog and Megaman.)

 

(There is an odd scene where Batman is using a gun on some thugs.  I had to explain what was happening.  “Batman doesn’t use guns.”  And the way that scene ended with the what was apparently The Flash giving a warning.  This was obviously a reference to “The Flashpoint.”  There were other occasions, as well.)

 

The other BIG THING.  I think this movie has the best portrayal of Lex Luthor.  EVER.  He is totally psycho.  And he twists Christian imagery in a way to mock Superman as a “god.”  I especially like how he inverted the lyrics of “I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day,” with his final words being “Ding, dong, ding dong.”  Wow.  And switching the painting to show Lucifer throwing Michael out of heaven.  At least to the SpartanNerd, who is is HUGE FAN of that image, (the correct image where Michael is the victor will likely be my tattoo someday.) this was storytelling genius.

 

Ben Affleck was OK as Bruce Wayne and Batman.  Henry Cavil was the same Superman as he was in The Man of Steel, but much moodier.  This Batman was definitely not the same that we saw in Christopher Nolan’s films.  A Frank Miller inspired anti-hero, not such a good guy.  And then there was Wonder Woman.  Maybe the one who carried her role as a super hero was Gal Gadot.  Who is/was she anyway?  She was a knockout.  I almost thought she was The White Rabbit from “The Dark Knight” comics a few years ago.  A stunning, foreign beauty.  And she swung that sword exactly like Wonder Woman should.

 

Should I give away more?  There was the obligatory Batmobile chase scene.  There was massive city destruction.  We have all seen Robin’s costume spray painted up in teaser images…there is some reference to The joker in this film.  I have summed it up and given you the essence of the movie with few details.

 

I recommend it if you like DC Comics.  I recommend it if you like Batman, Superman, or Wonder Woman.  I suggest you sit this one out if you are looking for a Marvel movie.  Like the Man of Steel before it, there are few laughing moments.  I am also unsure how much you might not understand if you didn’t see Man of Steel.  There is mass reference to that movie in this film.  I only saw that movie once…I loved the Kryptonian scenes, etc.  But this movie depends on having some knowledge of what happened in that movie.

 

I rate Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice 5/5, being a DC Comics fan, and owner of every Batman/Superman comic since they began printing them in The New 52.  (I am referencing the comic where they work together, mostly against Darkseid’s daughter.)  You might disagree with me if you were looking for Thor, Deadpool, or Spiderman.  So I would like your opinion, Hub City Geeks!  Let me know in the comments!

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 Unboxing and Review…Zendikar vs. Eldrazi Duel Deck

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I for one am quite psyched about “Battle for Zendikar,” the next large set of MTG cards coming out in October.  I missed Zendikar the first time around, since I wasn’t playing at the time.  But the effects of that set have rippled through the gaming scene enough to where I know it was a big deal.  Everything from Fetch Lands like Verdant Catacombs, to full-art Zendikar basics are very sought after.  And this isn’t even adding in the eldrazi bosses!

The wizards have a little rotation…I should know by now.  I am obviously a collector of duel decks, and certainly wasn’t going to pass this one up.  The rotation goes like this…Duel deck in the fall just before rotation, that features cards with new mechanics,  Duel deck in the spring featuring two planeswalkers,  This duel deck is of the first type.  It features a few new cards from the upcoming set, and spoils some of the mechanics.  This time those mechanics are Devoid, Awaken, Ingest, Landfall, and Level-up, and Annihilator.

I purchased my copy of the deck at The Tangled Web in Spartanburg SC for $19.99.  I think you should go there now and get a copy…I don’t think this one is going to warm the shelves!

So how did my unboxing and initial play go?  Read on for a review!

Packaging

The Duel Decks, Zendikar vs. Eldrazi, came in the same kind of package as the last few.  It doesn’t use heavy plastic, but lighter more recyclable stuff.  It is made of thin poster-style cardboard.  Getting the seran wrap and the cardboard off reveals a thin blister covering a thicker black tray.  Here are the pieces that I removed from the package.

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You get two premium foil cards, “Avenger of Zendikar” and “Oblivion Sower.”  The Avenger has Landfall- Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, put a +1/+1 counter on each plant creature you control.  This card is a re-print, and the wizards stress that it will not be Standard legal.  Oblivion Sower is a new Eldrazi.  When it is cast, the target player exiles the top four cards, and you get to put any number of lands from the exile onto the battlefield for yourself.  (WHAT?  there is going to be some mill-exiling in the next set!)

The other things you get with this set are the two decks, (obviously,) two pieces of paper, one a reference card and the other propaganda with a deck list, two deck boxes, and TWO COUNTER DICE!  This is new, and quite a surprise!  These decks usually come don’t come with counters!  (The wizards recently began putting out fewer event decks, which usually included one.  I suppose this is a refiguring of their resources maybe?)

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The two deck lists…important!  While I generally throw away the reference guide, I keep these.  (I know…the information is on the internet.  This is how I am “prepping!”)

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The art is good.  Aren’t the Eldrazi ugly things!  They look like mutant-jellyfish-human-aliens.

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I am going to go over the Zendikar deck first, photographing the cards, and mentioning what is good about those cards specifically.

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The first cards are the rares.  This is something I have noticed recently about the intro decks as well.  Rares are on top.  No matter what kind of card they are.  Probably the most notable here is Primal Command, a real game-changer.  But none of these are junk rares.  Every one of them is good.  And Veteran Warleader has the potential to be HUGE.

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Lots of cards with landfall.  These cards would make Garruk very happy!  Large creatures that fight and love ramp.  Also notable, the card with level up.

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Khalni Heart Expedition and Harrow are two ways to trigger landfall on your opponents turn.  There are other ways, however.

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Repel the darkness….feels like a blue card.  And then their is Sheer Drop, a new card with Awaken.  (Awaken turns your lands into “man-lands.”

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You get these lands.  Pretty good…the non-basics are sort of average for Duel Decks, though.  (Refuges.  Gain life.  Evolving wilds, and then Forestlasher Grove, which is there for flavor.)

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And FIVE plant tokens.  Another new addition!  (If you’ll recall, regular readers.  I was quite critical of Elspeth vs. Kiora because it didn’t come with adequate tokens.)

Clearly Landfall has to work in order for this deck to win!

Now the Eldrazi deck.

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Vampires, Imps, Hellions, and Eldrazi.  Many bad guys.  Why the bad guys would want to side with Eldrazi is beyond me.  They consume everything, regardless of alignment.  Notable is Dominator Drone, who has Devoid and Ingest.  Devoid means it is colorless, regardless of its required mana cost.  Ingest exiles the top card of their library.  (Remember what Oblivion Sower does?)

We also have It that Betrays.  A reprint.  But notable.

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And now some of my personal favorites.  (Remember, my color is Black!)  Vampire Nighthawk.  AWESOME!  Read the Bones.  Terrific!  Smother.  Can you say “Tiny Leaders?”

There are also some more Eldrazi.  Ulamogs Crusher and Artisan of Kozilek.

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I’m highlighting Corpsehatch because it mentions the 0/1 Eldrazi Spawn.  They are essential to making this deck work.  This deck ramps with them, but also requires sacrifices.

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The lands.  Refuges, Fetches, and Eldrazi Temple for flavor.

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You get these five tokens.  Three different printings of Eldrazi Spawn, and a 4/4 Hellion.

Duel Decks are maybe the most flavorful regular releases from the wizards.  These tokens really add to the story of what is happening during The Battle for Zendikar.

HOW THE DECKS PLAY OUT.

Me and the SpartanKid have played four matches, and it is 2 and 2.  (2 wins for each deck.)  This makes it great for me to write a review!  But it also says something about the decks being balanced against each other.

Both decks are ramp decks.  Both decks use tokens.  Both decks have very large creatures, however the Eldrazi have an edge here.  On the other hand Zendikar can do something with its tokens besides sacrifice them.

The first two matches were won by the Zendikar deck.  Primal Command was an ESSENTIAL card to play correctly.  When Avenger of Zendikar entered the battlefield, lots of plant tokens were produced.  Then the Avenger was targeted and killed.  But the Primal Command lets you shuffle him back into your library and then tutor him back out.  Awesome!  So that meant even more plant goodness on the next turn.  The turn after that, Evolving Wilds became the important card.  (THAT’S RIGHT! Evolving Wilds is GREAT in this deck.  Probably the only way, though.)  When the evolving wilds entered the battlefield, it triggered Landfall on the avenger, and all ten of those plants got a 1/1 counter.  Then you crack the Evolving wilds and get another land, triggering Landfall again.  And GG!  You just swung for 20+!

And all of the ways the deck gets land and triggers landfall really make it work.  While it is a fattie beatdown deck, it is more of an overrun deck.  Even if the Eldrazi sweep away the plant tokens with Marsh Casualties or similar, the creatures in the deck are still pretty formidable.  And every game we’ve played there has been like fourteen or more land on Zendikar’s side of the battlefield.  Then there are tricks like Retreat to Kazandu…an enchantment that has landfall abilities that either put counters on a creature or gain life. Remember, Evolving Wilds is GOOD in this deck.

The second two matches were won by the Eldrazi deck.  The Eldrazi win by finding advantage by producing Eldrazi Spawn tokens, which can be sacrificed for colorless mana, or sacrificed for other purposes.  They also can just be blockers if you are in a pinch.  Which seems to happen quite a bit with this deck.  There are chump creatures, the tokens, and then the massive Eldrazi which are normally un-castable, so you have to buy as much time as you can.  

A couple of favorite tricks…Butcher of Malakir…whenever a creature you control dies, the opponent has to sacrifice a creature.  Meaning that the Eldrazi Spawn tokens become Cruel Edict, but at instant speed.  YAY!  There is synergy here with Bloodthrone Vampire…he gets bigger when you sacrifice things.  These kinds of tricks work really well in Commander.  But with the level of ramp found in this deck, you get to use them here!

So that tells you the other half of the story.  The Eldrazi themselves are winners.  Period.  They can be removed, Ousted, Etc. But they are winners if not answered.  Ulamog’s Crusher and It that Betrays have Annihilate 2.  The opponent has to sacrifice two permanents when they are declared as an attacker. Artisan of Kozilek has it also, but when you cast it you also get to reanimate something from the graveyard.  The new guy, Oblivion Sower, hasn’t shown up yet.  He is meant to have synergy with the new cards with Ingest.  The deck has a few Dominator Drones, and when they attack the player exiles their top card.  Playing Oblivion Sower puts even more cards in the exile zone, and then you can put the exiled lands into play for whatever nefarious purpose you have planned!

Of the two decks, I prefer the Eldrazi.  All those vampires and black cards are just really good.  But there is no denying the goodness of Primal Command and all of the Landfall abilities the other deck can swing.

I’d say this is one of the funnest duel decks I own.  It is every bit as flavorful as Elves vs. Goblins and Liliana vs. Garruk.

SpartanNerd Rating of Zendikar vs. Eldrazi Duel Deck…

I have to give this deck a solid 5/5!  The only real complaint I have is similar to the other complaints I have had about Duel Decks.  This time the deck comes with lots of tokens, but those tokens don’t fit in the boxes.  In fact, you can only fit two plants or two Eldrazi Spawn in either deck with the rest of the cards.

This product has flavor, is fun, has allternate art cards (I hadn’t mentioned that!) ,and comes with plenty of tokens and TWO life counters.  The Wizards went over the top this time.

SpartanNerd rates Duel Decks:  Zendikar vs. Eldrazi a 5/5.  Do you agree or disagree?  Let me know in the comments!