Monthly Archives: October 2017

MtG Gift Pack 2017

With a rrp of £19.99 is the MtG Gift Pack 2017 good value for your hard earned pennies?

So what do we get for our money?

  • 3 boosters ( one each from Ixalan, Amonkhet and Hour of Devastation)
  • A spindown life counter
  • 2 foil creature cards
  • 5 foil basic land cards by the artist Mark Poole
  • A poster

With 3 boosters at my FLGS costing a tenner, a spindown life counter approx £2. Is the other stuff worth £8? I think converting the dollar price Cardkingdom price them at, the two foil creatures might get you maybe £4 if you are lucky. Not sure what you’d get for the foil basic lands. I think at best £2. The poster is nice but would I have bought it outside of the gift pack? I’m struggling to justify that the Foils and poster are worth that £8.

I think Chandra is my favourite Planeswalker. So to see the cool image of her on the front of the box makes me happy.

If it wasn’t for the poster this could have been in a smaller box. It’s mostly packaging. Nice packaging, but still something that will go in the recycle bin.

Despite putting my favourite Planeswalker on the front I don’t think that this Gift Pack offers value for money. Although if I had been given one under the Christmas tree or as a birthday present I wouldn’t be unhappy. But I think the Planeswalker decks offer better value, and would be a better gift.

These are the rares that I pulled from the three boosters:

A mountain short

“One more mountain and I would have won!”

That’s how I got to sleep last night after playing commander with Jeff, Jamie, and Lukas yesterday afternoon.

We had a 2 hour window to squeeze in a game of commander and teach Jeff the basics of Magic (he hadn’t played it before), before the hotel closed for the day. Jeff played with my Vampiric Bloodlust deck from Commander 2017. After a brief run through of how to play Magic, we started our game of commander.

I was playing the Heavenly Inferno preconstructed deck from the Commander Anthology set. The commander for this deck was Kaalia of the Vast (which apparently is going for £33 on sites such as Magic Madhouse, that’s a third of the cost of the set for one card!)

I was using Kaalia early on to cheat out other creatures in my hand for free. I can see why she is the price she is. 4 CMC (Converted Mana Cost) for a 2/2 and that ability. Cards like Akroma, Angel of Fury (8 CMC), Bladewing the Risen (7 CMC), Reiver Demon (8 CMC) and Lightkeeper of Emeria (4 CMC) that were sitting  in my hand were soon out on the battlefield doing their thing with Kaalia’s ability.

I was aided early on by cards like Return to Dust that enabled me to put the brakes on Jamie’s dragon deck (a tweaked 2017 commander deck) by removing his artifact and enchantment he had out that would have enabled him to get his big nasty dragons out earlier by making them cheaper.

It was funny because when Jamie did finally get a dragon out on the board I played Syphon Flesh which meant the other players had to sacrifice a creature, and I got a 2/2 black Zombie token for each creature sacrificed that way. The dragon Jamie had out was his only creature, so that went bye bye. Then Jeff had a creature out that had an ability that kicked in at the start of his upkeep that required each player to sacrifice a creature. Which basically stopped Jamie from playing anything for a few turns because he would have to sacrifice it after his turn finished. Luckily I had enough tokens and cheap creatures out that I didn’t have to lose any of my big flying hitters.

I actually held on to Lightkeeper of Emeria until near the middle of the game when I could bring her out using Kaalia’s ability when attacking, and kick her 4 times to add 8 health to myself. That put me in a pretty good position mid game, 48 health, and 4 flying creatures out on the battlefield.

Towards the end of the game, with the clock ticking away, Jeff took control of Akroma, Angel of Fury. Luckily he was unable to do anything with it to me before I killed it off. Sadly for Jamie he had to take 6 points of damage from it under Jeff’s control.

We all were under 10 health. I had hit everyone for 7 damage with Earthquake, and cleared out some creatures.

With less than 5 minutes on the clock, I had the final turn of the game before the hotel was to shut. I needed to top deck a solution that would give me the win. I drew Diabolic Tutor. That was a pretty good top deck. I could go and look for a solution. With the seconds ticking away, I didn’t have time to look through my whole deck. I came across Sulfurous Blast. That would get everyone down to 2 or three points of damage. I had 2 flying creatures to attack with. Jamie and Jeff had creatures, but they were tapped out, or would die before they could block. Lukas has no creatures out. I only had enough mana to fire Pyrohemia once. Not enough to kill Lukas off he would still have one life left. One more mountain or a third creature and I could win. I swung in and killed Lukas and Jamie (I was not going to have dragons win the game), and left Jeff with a couple of points of life and myself unable to defend him attacking. In hindsight without the pressure of the clock ticking, I should have killed Jeff and Jamie, and let Lukas live. Lukas would take his go, hopefully not have a creature with haste to play, pass the turn back to me, and I’d win. But that hit me on the way into work this morning, as the way I could have won. Instead I was killed by Jeff, leaving him as the last man standing and the winner of his first game of Magic and our game of commander.

It’s hard to get across how much pressure there was with that clock ticking away, knowing that we had seconds to finish, pack up and get out. I’d like to think without that pressure I would have spotted that optimal play to give me the win. But it did rely on Lukas not playing anything that could remove my last 3 points of life.

I really enjoyed this Heavenly Inferno deck. It was fun to play, helped by some awesome card draw.

It was a fun afternoon, Jeff enjoyed his first game of Magic. Who knows we may see Jeff at more commander sessions, he’s more than welcome to use one of my precon decks if he does want to come along again.

Finally a big thank you The White Lion Hotel for their generosity in letting us play there. It is really appreciated.

Achievement unlocked – Accommodation booked

Thanks to Jonathan reminding Fenland Gamers on our Facebook page this morning I’ve been organised and booked my accommodation for next years UK Games Expo.

The advantage of booking early (others including Jonathan had book ages ago, some straight after this years expo) is I’m not going to be hunting around for somewhere to stay, and I’m not going to be paying over the odds. 

We have both booked at the Birmingham Fort Dunlop Travelodge. So that’s gaming sorted in the evenings. Hopefully other club members will also chose to stay there and join us gaming in the evening.

Ok this is a car drive away (20 mins?) from the expo. But it has free parking. Which is important. It cuts out an expense. Yes I will have to pay for parking at the NEC, but the 3 day pass is very cost effective. And I’d have to be paying that anyway unless I was paying the big money to stay on site at the Hilton.

Ok Travelodge charge extra for WiFi access, that was a tenner. I’ve also paid the extra for the unlimited breakfast each day too.

But still I’m well under my £50 a day cost limit. That’s how much I’d spend roughly on petrol if I was to drive to the expo each day.

The draw back of the Travelodge compared to this years hotel (that was more expensive) is no fridge, microwave, or toaster. Which were handy to have because I could take my meals with me. So I had bread and stuff for sandwiches, I had my evening meals. So I was saving money not eating out, or buying expensive expo food. There is a solution, an electric powered cooler box. They aren’t too expensive. But how will I cook? If only I had camping stoves. Oh wait I do! So that won’t be an issue.

I’ve gone for 3 nights at the Travelodge instead of 2. So I’m there from the Thursday evening. It means no early start on the Friday. I can be civilised, get up at a normal time, breakfast and stroll up to the expo refreshed and chilled. I’m getting too old, early starts are a young persons thing.

If you are planning on going to the expo multiple days book your accommodation now. 

Friday Evening Gaming Half Term Edition

The last day of half term started off with Edmund, and Jonathan being regaled with my tales of woe about the Sub Terra kickstarter. I have to say the publisher ITB have left a very bad taste in the mouth, making me less than enthusiastic about the game. There is no way I will ever back or buy one of their games again. In the meantime all I want is for them to fix the mistakes and missing items in my copy of the game. Then I need to decide if I want to keep the game or sell it on. 

After hearing my tales of deceit, poor quality control, broken promises and general inability to organise a piss up at a brewery we switched to lying and bluffing playing the classic Perudo aka Liars Dice. Which thinking about it is the game that best describes ITB.

While we were partaking in this battle of wits, Diego arrived. By the time he had purchased his usual beverage, Edmund was on the brink of being eliminated. 

It was just Jonathan and I, and three dice between us. In the end I was proven to be the biggest liar and bluffer.

For a city I hate, I sure like London (Second Edition). This time we were playing with the full player count. And with the help of Edmund a correction to a major misplay from the first play last weekend.

The rules correction did impact how many times we ran our cities, well for Jonathan and I. It added another element to consider, hand size. Last weekend we hadn’t been adding in poverty for each card in our hand when running our cities. It did make us run our cities less.

London held up well with the maximum player count. I liked it as a two player game and at the full count. There aren’t many games that can do this.

Edmund won the game after having to go to a tie breaker with Diego. More importantly I was third. Only four points behind them.

And that was our Friday evening of gaming. 

First World CCG Problems

I wrote this Facebook update yesterday. 

Not my Dinosaur Tribal deck either. It looks like my first commander deck will have The Scarab God as it’s commander.

As you can imagine having the Scarab God as my commander I want to play creatures that are zombies. But not only that I’m going to generate zombie tokens. I’m also going to be getting opponents to discard cards and punish them for doing that. Plus I’m going to be doing some graveyard shinnanagins too.

I’ve been using the above paragraph as my guiding light in thinning out cards. It’s helped cut 50 cards so far. But now the decisions are getting much harder. Mind you it’s the same now when deck building with Star Wars:Destiny. The card pool now for Destiny with 3 sets is large enough that you easily have over 30 good cards that you want in your deck. You just amplify the problem when you have a bigger pool to chose from.

I’m off to make some more hard decisions.

Star Realms Year 2 Promo Pack Contents

Part of the Hero Realms Kickstarter was backers getting the Year 2 promo pack for Star Realms. This finally arrived with the Hero Realms campaign deck and two boss decks at the weekend.

So what does the promo pack contain? Good question, here is the list of the 12 cards that make up the promo pack.

  • War kite x 2
  • Federal transport x 2
  • Imperial smuggler x 2
  • Probe bot x 2
  • Stella ray
  • Cargo mech 
  • Knightstar 
  • Bounty Hunter

But that means nothing really. What you really need are some poorly taken photos of the cards. So here you are…

How often these will appear when playing the physical game I don’t know. Especially when I’m playing with everything. That’s a lot of cards. 

I’m still trying to work out if I should add in the first promo pack. But that is a different decision because with promo pack 1 I already had the majority of the cards. I know some of them are only meant to be one copy. But with 300 odd cards would a second copy make much of a difference? That’s the decision I’ve been wrestling with. 

Anyway I look forward to seeing these cards on the trade row.

False Summit! 

Monday Dale and I met up at The White Lion to do combat using cards and dice playing Star Wars: Destiny. It’s been a couple of months since we’ve had a chance to play like this. Our timetables don’t really sync that much this year at work.

While waiting for Dale to turn up (which wasn’t long) I threw together an Elite Thrawn and Darth Vader Sith Apprentice Deck. 

Dale was playing the nasty combo of Elite Mace Windu and Jedi Instructor.
That Mace die is nasty. 

The day got off to such a great start with Thrawn/Vader getting me the win. Everything went to plan. Vader was doing damage with hate, I got to use Maces dice against him.

But it went to pot after that. For once when you want Dale to roll badly and get lots of blanks, he decides to roll well. Blanks were few and far apart.

I did tweak the deck a couple of times, which included swapping Vader for an elite Kylo. But still my arse got handed to me.

These weren’t quick games. One or two were nearly victories for me. In those games the dice really did love Dale.

I think both my combos with Thrawn have potential just need to sort the deck out. It needs more removal I think.

Still despite lots of losses I had a lot of fun. 

Oh last night FFG decided to finally release a rules update. It’s massive. FN,Unkar,Phasma (2 player version) and Poe get their point costs adjusted upwards in what FFG are calling Balance of the Force. It’s a bit like the Netrunner Most Wanted List. There are some card errata as well. The main one nerfs Vibroknife. And the overwriting of upgrades gets changed to dial back FN and Rey. But in Reys case it’s still possible to do a big action cheat with Force Speed and an Ambush weapon and her ability, but there are tools to at least stop it now. Overall not a bad update. You can read it here.

Yesterday also saw the Justin and Liz alliance once more in full swing as we played our first six player game of A Game of Thrones the boardgame. We played with the A Dance With Dragons expansion.

The expansion replaced the combat cards from the base game. These cards could be used in the base game all the time if I wanted to. It also had starting scenario cards for all the houses. 

I liked the expansion a lot. The new combat cards shake things up a little for those that have learnt the cards in the base game. Whilst the starting scenarios jump you more into the action, speeding the game up a little. The game also plays over 6 rounds with the highest score being the winner at the end of the 6th round if no-one has gained the 7 points before then. So it’s a shorter game too. Forcing people to be aggressive and grab those castles and strongholds. 

In our game it almost worked out that it was one side of the table/board against the other side. With puppet master Justin trying to manipulate the unholy alliance on his side to his benefit. Luckily the Tyrell’s were placed on the Iron Throne denying the axis of evil. My last round was spent attacking Liz (Starks) to cut down her points. Which would deny her a shot at victory. A lesson not to side with Justin.

As the Greyjoys I was last. But I think everyone enjoyed the game. I think Cry Havoc would be a good game for Liz to try next.

Liliana Planeswalker – Death Wielder 

I’m a fan of the lady in black Liliana. I love the graveyard shenanigans that she does. I even have a commander deck in the design process that makes use of her special abilities. Yeah I know I haven’t finished the dinosaur tribal one yet. But that doesn’t stop me from thinking “oh I’d love a deck that makes use of that”. I’d also like to do a merfolk tribal deck too. And that’s after seeing a preview of the Ixalan duel decks that are coming out in November. 

So on my travels I saw the Liliana Death Wielder Planeswalker card and thought that’d be cool to play with. Can you believe there are folks on eBay that will sell you the foil Planeswalker card from this deck for more than it costs to buy this deck? Buyer beware indeed. It’s also the reason why I bought this preconstructed deck over just getting the card. I’d rather have the deck and add the other cards (eventually after playing with it) to my collection to use as potential building blocks for a commander deck for less money. 

We get the standard stuff in a Planeswalker deck.

Half the value of the deck is the two boosters, that if bought separately would cost between £7 – £8. The cardboard deck box is thankfully large enough to hold the deck sleeved. But at best worth a quid. Then the 60 card deck making up the rest of the value. 

For new and returning players these Planeswalker decks are great vfm. For the established player less so. Unless like me you want the foil Planeswalker. Then it’s amazing value. 

Here are the rares and full art basic land that I pulled from the two boosters.

The Only London I Like

Whose idea was it to do a 10am play session?  Getting dressed before midday on a Sunday such a silly idea. Ok it was the only time Jonathan was free for us to try the latest addition to his collection London (Second Edition) by Martin Wallis. Which I was pretty keen to try. There was the compensation for getting dressed of a full English with optional extra (75p addon) black pudding, and unlimited refill coffee at  Spoons where we were meeting to play.

The day before Jonathan had messaged me that he had to be back home by midday and that London as a two player experience a long drawn out game. Apparently there was a two player variant for the original version but not the second edition. With an eye on the clock we were going to play London and see how we got on.

I’d got to Spoons slightly early so I could have that traditional breakfast. Which I had  was just having the last bites of when Jonathan arrived. The coffee used by Spoons according to the menu is Lavazza coffee. It was awful. Not even sugar could hide it’s hideous taste. And sugar can usually hide most things. Jonathan had already had a bacon sarnie for breakfast so he too signed up for the unlimited refill coffee.

I really do think Osprey the publisher do a fantastic job with the presentation of their games. I love the graphic design of the box for the game. It’s simple, yet elegant. The component quality is usually pretty good too.

Jonathan had said people had complained about the cards in the game. But they were thick, not linen finish. Jonathan thought maybe a little sticky. They seemed ok quality wise. Not the best, but definitely not the worse either. However by the end of the game the were scuff marks showing on the edges of one or two cards. Not good. There is certainly an issue here. I wouldn’t expect this after just one play!

The game itself is very enjoyable and definitely not a long and drawn out experience. I think it was just over an hour including learning to play the game by reading the rules, and with the expected looking up the odd rule through out the game.

I’ll talk more about the mechanics once I’ve had a chance to play the game with more players. There are some nice mechanics here.

I did win the game, I scored massively with my city cards. Something Jonathan failed to notice I had been doing. The Westminster borough was also a useful one to own. I could draw 0,1, or 2 cards at the start of my turn. Most of the time I drew two cards. But the odd time I didn’t draw any. Like at the end to stretch out the game a turn or two more to rack up more points. 

I liked it as a two player experience. Glad I have a copy on the way. If you are paying £30 or more for this then you aren’t looking hard enough online. At under £30 this is good value for money, over less so. Mind you that money you save will have to be spent on sleeves for the cards.

While out playing London, my half term reading Rogue Trooper: Tales of Nu Earth Volume 1 arrived. I remember reading Rogue Trooper when he first appeared in 2000 A.D. as a teenager. So he was long over due a revisit to renew our friendship. 

Magic and Politics!

As a “palette cleanser” between MtG leagues we set up a Commander session.

Commander for those wondering what the hell it is, is a multiplayer variant of Magic the Gathering. Each player has a commander (a Legendary creature), a deck of 99 cards (apart from basic lands, you can only have one copy of each card), and starts with 40 health. It’s basically a free for all after that, last man standing is the winner.

But the thing is there is a political element to the game that a “normal” game of Magic doesn’t have. You are making deals, ganging up to remove the current big threat on the table. 

We had seven players turn up to play Commander. Which meant we had two tables with people playing Commander. 4 players on one table, and 3 on the other.

I was on the 4 player table. Which was made up of myself, Diego, Justin, and Jamie.  We were all playing with preconstructed decks. Justin was using the cat tribal 2017 deck, Jamie had the dragon tribal 2017 deck. While Diego and I had decks from the Anthology. I had chosen the Plunder the Graves deck, which I assumed was going to be putting stuff into the graveyard and doing stuff with it. Diego chose Freyalise Llanowar’s Fury that had a Planeswalker as it’s commander. 

Naturally dragons were seen as the biggest threat on the table. So we all smacked Jamie first, although the odd blow went towards each other as well. However that allowed Diego to make use of his deck, get commander out, work those combos. It wasn’t long before Diego had too much out, and was dominating things. Sadly no board wipes were coming. So the inevitable happened, he won.

Our second game started out the same way. Keep those big nasty dragons off the table. This game was looking like a win for Justin. He’d got 22 health left, Diego was on 8, I was on 10. I’d got some creatures on the board (after a great power play a couple of turns earlier) that made me less of a target than Diego. I’m not entirely sure I could have survived Justin swinging at me, but luckily I didn’t have to find out because he swung in with everything he had but 1 creature suffering from summoning sickness at Diego to finish him off. If I swung in with everything I had enough to win, even if Justin blocked. I’d won!

The tables then swapped round. The four player table was now Justin, myself, Josh and Michael. Josh was running the dragon deck. But the biggest threat was Michael and his constructed deck he built. Which meant a pact was made to target him first. I’d mulliganned most games during the afternoon. But I’d forgotten we were using the Paris mulligan, I could have been keeping a card or two I wanted in the mulligans. Doh! The biggest surprise for me in this game was that I lasted so long in this epic long game. I needed lands, particularly a forest so I could start playing cards. I had removal stuff in hand that would ruin Michaels plans, if I only had a flipping forest. 

Our alliance fell apart for a while after I was finally able to cast spells, and a failed attempt to remove Michael’s two creatures in front of him. I had played a card that forced everyone to sacrifice two creatures. I had none, so was ok. It got rid of the creatures in front of Josh and Justin. However it didn’t get rid of the one I’d hoped for with Michael. He flashed in a third creature and sacrificed that saving the threat. Justin soon developed into the biggest threat, and saw him with some nasty pumped up cats in front of him. We all managed to work together to take out one particularly nasty threat from Justin. Josh was getting salty about not being able to keep any dragons out on the battlefield. I don’t think it helped when I took control of one from his graveyard. Justin killed Josh first. I was next on his hit list. Not a surprise really. After such a bad start I was gobsmacked is lasted so long. At my death Michael had just triggered his threat.  He was no getting an extra turn after every other players turn. With his extra turn he somehow wrangled it so that after Justin’s turn he’d be getting 17 extra turns!!! That’s game over once he started taking them for Justin. Sadly for Michael he never got to take them. Justin smacked the life out of him to grab the win.

A great afternoon, some amazing game play. This was such great fun. 

Commander adds that extra political element, and multiplayer that almost makes MtG into a different game! If you don’t like “regular” MtG would you like Commander? It depends on what it is you don’t like about MtG. At the end of the day you are still playing MtG. However as my bad starts have shown that isn’t such a liability in Commander. The bigger liability is being seen as a threat. So if it’s the “I always draw badly” or “it’s down to luck of the draw” as your reasons for not liking MtG then give this a go. If it’s the theme and mechanics, that’s not changed.

A big big thank you to our hosts Fenrock for the use of their facilities, and great coffee.

Our next MtG league starts on the 4th November for anyone interested in joining in the fun. Details of time and location (Fenrock) can be found on the event set up on the Fenland Gamers Facebook page. Where you can also sign up to say you are coming (which would be handy to know so I know how many boosters to get in).