All posts by Darren

Magic Bug Bites

I still have enrichment sessions with my students this year. So once again I approached WotC directly to see if I could get some of the 2017 (Amonkhet based) Welcome Decks for Magic the Gathering.

And once again WotC were generous enough to send me about twenty decks to give to students to learn to play Magic the Gathering with.

The Welcome Decks arrived Monday, so I started handing them out to students in this weeks enrichment sessions. Sadly for my level 2 students this has meant they have only been able to get a couple of the packs. The rest have been distributed to my level 3 students during their enrichment session.

I was not prepared for how hooked they would become. After the enrichment session they went to lunch. When I went through our cafeteria, there were some of my students playing with their Welcome Decks. They had even come up with their own format of 2 v 2, that was very close to a two-headed giant format. They had separate life totals and shared mana. Which was very impressive indeed.
Despite getting literally nothing, the Magic bug has also hit some of my level 2 students. I have had students staying in the classroom playing my Magic Duel decks over their lunchtime.

Naturally some are already asking how do I get more cards? So I am directing them to my FLGS The Hobbit Hole, plus apparently there is a comic shop nearby to where I work that sells Magic cards as well (although I believe they are not able to run official Magic events like prerelease).

But it is so cool to see this excitement about a game. I need more Welcome Decks, but asking for more like Oliver Twist with his empty bowl with WotC after they have been so generous already makes me feel a bit uncomfortable.

I’d love to be able to give some free deck boxes similar to the cardboard ones the stores give when you join a Magic League. However I know there is not a chance in hell of getting them out of WotC. They reserve that sort of thing for stores only. And for sure stores won’t give this sort of stuff away. They understandably want to use these things to get players into their stores. Maybe one day I’ll be able to solve this problem and give my dream starting experience to Magic for my students.

Fenland Gamers Monthly Meetup October 2017

These monthly meetups come around fast. This month Jonathan, Debbie, Katie and myself met up at The White Lion to play some games.

Before hand I had looked at my collection and was once more indecisive about what to take along. I think the only game I was positive about taking along was Red7. It didn’t help my indecisiveness that I wasn’t really sure if Debbie was coming along or not. She had asked where the meetup was taking place, but hadn’t really said “yes I’m coming”, or if her partner was coming along also.

I thought I would take along Lunarchitects. But could I find it? Sad thing was it was in a place I had dismissed it from being because I thought it was another game!

Jonathan was already at The White Lion when I got there, and Katie arrived seconds after I did. I bought out Red7 as a quick game we could play while waiting for others to show up. While teaching Katie how to play, Debbie arrived. So we dealt her in, and went over the rules again with her. After a couple of games of the basic game (which I won), we stepped it up to the advanced rules. Which Katie went on to win. I do like the fact that you have these two modes of play, plus optional rules you can mix in. So you can quickly teach the game using the basic rules, or just use the basic rules if you have a five minute gap to fill. Then you can kick in the advanced rules, or if you are experienced players just jump straight in with the advanced rules. That’s some nice flexibility.

We followed Red7 up with Sagrada. Which was new to both Debbie and Katie. So Jonathan and I taught them the art of making a stained glass window with dice!


Jonathan and I both mucked up and couldn’t complete our windows, and we both used up our tokens on the available tools. Whilst Katie and Debbie both completed their windows, and had tokens left over. If you are picking up that Debbie and Katie owned Jonathan and myself at this game, then you are right, they did. In fact they drew on the score, so it had to go to the tie breakers. Which gave Katie the win.

Another great evening of gaming.

The adventure begins…

A couple of weekends ago I started playing The 7th Continent solo. I’m attempting the recommended first curse “The Voracious Goddess”. Which will be my third attempt! The first two plays were with a second player (different each time). And we never got past a certain point. Which reminds me I am going to try and keep this as spoiler free as possible. But I don’t think  it will be possible to do that completely.

For the record I am playing this with all the expansions added to the game, including the bgg promos from GenCon. That means I can possibly come across rockworms (or devourers), plus there can be weather effects as well to consider.

For this first curse I chose the character Victor Frankenstein. Being able to hold an extra idea card is a handy ability to have. Plus I knew coming up one of his skill cards would prove really useful to have.

Because of the previous two plays, I knew exactly what I needed to do to progress past the stumbling block we had hit in them. While doing this streamlined route through the first section of the curse I was able to get three bits of food, build some snow shoes, and built some weapons.

By the time I had completed the first section I was looking in very good shape for my health. I think after eating the food and using one of Victor’s cards, I had only three or four cards at most in the discard pile.

I headed North East from the starting area when presented with three options for direction to travel in. My earlier decision to take the time to make some snow shoes proved very fortuitous. I wasn’t expecting them to be so useful so soon after making them.

It was here at my landing point that I managed to tame a platypus. I would love a pet platypus in real life, so when presented with the option of killing one for food (the easier of the two options) or attempting to tame one, I chose naturally to try and tame it. Now I have a platypus following me around that improves my chances of catching fish! luckily it hasn’t been scared off by the monster I have following me around either. Yeah I know a little cliched, Frankenstein creating a monster, but hey I’m all about the cliche.

All this took me a couple of hours play. I had promised myself that I would map out my route as I played. But I forgot all about it as I explored away. I enjoyed playing The 7th Continent with others. But I absolutely loved it more as a solo game. It also means playing solo I can make more progress because I can get it back to the table easier.

Look out for the next update on Victor’s adventures in the strange land of The 7th Continent.

My Commander Deckbuilding Homework

I’ve already pondered on here about the Commander I want to build a deck around.

But I’ve not build a Commander deck before. So this process will be documented on this blog in a series of posts (yes I’m going to bore you with more MtG posts, if you haven’t been bored enough with them already).

However there are some useful videos on building a Commander deck on line.

The first is from The Command Zone podcast. It gives a template to use as the basis for your own deckbuilding process. I’ll be using this template for the basis of building my first deck.

It’s definitely worth looking at the links in the description of the video. There is a lot of useful stuff there, plus a link to a list of essential cards for Commander decks.
They mention another channel that I enjoy Tolarian Community College. I like his style, light humour and honesty. In fact I think his “is such and such value for money” influenced my posts. I’ll say influenced because they are posts and not videos. But you could easily say copied as well, and I wouldn’t disagree.

Here is a video by The Prof about building a three colour mana base in Commander. Which is what I am going to have to do for my first Commander deck.
You can find a whole playlist of The Prof’s videos about Commander basics HERE.

While I am talking Commander, we have a Commander session planned for the 21st October at Fenrock for anyone (locally really) interested in playing. It’s free to attend, you just need to bring a Commander deck with you, which could be one you have built yourself or a precon. I know I will be using a 2017 precon myself if I haven’t finished building my first deck. You can find more details in the events section of the Fenland Gamers Facebook page.

Amonkhet League Finale 

Yesterday was the finale of the first Fenland Gamers Magic League. We had been using the Amonkhet set for this. 

My first game of the afternoon was Michael. Michael’s deck was a nasty one. I haven’t won against him all season, although I did come close once! I started off well this time. But it soon all fell apart and I was looking defeat in the face again. With 2 life left, and a Painful Lesson in hand, instead of waiting to take the beating from Michael I committed suicide. I played Painful Lesson on myself. 

Next up another player I had never won against, Josh. That was a very quick game. I spent most of that game waiting for a swamp to surface so I could play one of the cards I had in hand. 

Jamie threw down a challenge to play him next. But before I accepted I went to my sideboard and swapped in Harsh Mentor. I’m glad I’d pulled this card. It was a silver bullet for Jamie’s deck. Playing it early would disrupt his game plan. 


The corner stone of Jamie’s plan are these two cards.


Which usually chips away at you until he can swing in with his creatures. You take a bit of damage in the build up, and your creatures are stopped from attacking. Eventually at the crucial moment you can’t block either. This time I was able to get Harsh Mentor early, which forced Jamie to remove it with an instant spell which I think was Cut/Ribbons. That spell in the graveyard nearly won him the game. If he’d had one more mana it would have. But I get ahead of myself, back to the removal of Harsh Mentor. That scuppered my plan. I wasn’t worried I had a second, and hopefully would draw into it quickly. I even used my suicide card on myself to try and draw into it. Luckily I play with Wander in Death that allows me to pull back two creatures from my graveyard. While I was waiting for either of the two cards to turn up I was doing a pretty good job of making sure Jamie didn’t execute his plan and keeping his battlefield empty or not able to attack. So when I drew Wander in Death with Jamie on 7 health and myself on 8. I knew I had him. Harsh Mentor was out on the board, next turn bam! Jamie was shut down, he knew it was over if he couldn’t pull it out of the bag. He did the math, the Ribbons half of Cut/Ribbons was short by 1 mana for killing me. Jamie decided to make the futile jesture anyway of dealing me the 7 damage. I was on 1 health, my go. Unable to switch off my attackers with out hurting himself, or block me with creatures, I swung in for the kill and sweet sweet victory. I was a bit vocal, and a quick tease of Michael from Josh and me as I had beaten Jamie when he hadn’t been able to. 

After beating Jamie it was my turn to play Sarah. Harsh Mentor was returned to the sideboard, it had done its job. The game started out poorly. And I was soon in single digit health. But then my cards started kicking in. With my Cartouche  of Ambition out I had life link, and my life total started going up. I had weathered the storm and was hitting back. Somehow in a game I thought I was going to lose, I clawed my way back to get a victory. Two wins in a row! 

Next up was Jamie’s son Lucas. The cards were just totally unkind to Lucas. He just had no answer for the cards I was playing. By the time I’d won I had accumulated over 40 life. 

My final game of the afternoon was Chris. Another player I had not won against all season. Another big hitter. We traded blows. Scuppering each other’s plans along the way. But I ended up victorious. Bloody hell what was happening 4 back to back wins. What a way to end the season. 

I’ve really enjoyed our League. My final record for the season was 11 wins, 16 losses.

Michael took the Most Wins and the Most Plays awards for the season and walked away with two boosters as his prizes. Sarah got the friendliest player award and a booster. So congratulations to them both. 

For those interested here is the final version of my deck.

Deck: Fenland Gamers Amonkhet League 2017.dec
Counts : 30 main

Creatures:9

  • 1 Bloodrage Brawler
  • 1 Dune Beetle
  • 1 Gust Walker
  • 2 Blighted Bat
  • 1 Cursed Minotaur
  • 1 Wasteland Scorpion
  • 1 Emberhorn Minotaur
  • 1 Merciless Javelineer

Spells:11

  • 1 Blazing Volley
  • 2 Magma Spray
  • 1 Impeccable Timing
  • 1 Mighty Leap
  • 2 Cartouche of Ambition
  • 1 Faith of the Devoted
  • 1 Painful Lesson
  • 1 Sweltering Suns
  • 1 Wander in Death

Lands:10

  • 1 Cradle of the Accursed
  • 3 Mountain
  • 2 Plains
  • 1 Sunscorched Desert
  • 3 Swamp

A big thank you to our hosts Fenrock. Great facilities and just as important coffee. 

Our next Magic League will start in November, and will be using the Ixalan set. If you are interested in joining in on the fun you can find out dates and times on the Fenland Gamers Facebook page in the events section,

In the meantime we do have on the 21st a Commander session planned if anyone local fancies playing. Once again details on our clubs Facebook page.

Ixalan Rare, Mythics, and Foils I Pulled #6

Two more after this one folks. I know it’s dragging on. It’s getting boring. But I’m determined to see this through to the bitter end. I do like that Spell Swindle card though. I love that it counters a spell, plus you get lots of treasure artifact tokens too. That’s just rubbing salt into the wound if you ask me.

I can also see Priest of the Wakening Sun seeing some action to. Life gain, plus being able to sacrifice (at a cost) to find a dinosaur from your deck. Yep I’ll take that. I also like the look of Kinjalli’s Sunwing, basically stopping opponents blocking with newly cast creatures. Switches of that flash ability. Love it.

Winning the arms race

Somehow Jonathan, Edmund, and myself managed to fight our way through the trials and tribulations of life to get to the White Lion last night to play games.

One of the hardest things to do for a game night is deciding before hand what to take along to possibly play. Too many games competing for attention. Thanks to the “I’m going” option of the Facebook event for the evening it helps narrow the options down. But it’s still a hard decision. You have to cater for those going (taking into account their likes and dislikes) and potentially for anyone else that turns up.

In the end, after minutes of indecisiveness, I grabbed Tiny Epic Quest, The Manhattan Project, Love Letter: Batman and Red 7.

Our first game of the evening was the classic worker placement game The Manhattan Project. 

When I recorded that we were playing the game in the boardgame stats app it showed as a first play! So it has been around two years since Jonathan and I last played the game. That’s so shameful. A great game like The Manhattan Project deserves to be played more regularly. But with so many games between us, and new stuff coming in, it’s so hard to get everything to the table.

With there being such a long gap since our long play we were having to refresh our memories of the rules, whilst explaining the rules to Edmund. 

I have the expansion for the game, which is modula (you only play with the bits you want to). The bit we have played with is the Nations module, which are some cards that make each player unique, giving them an ability that only they can use. I combine the expansion Nation cards with the cards from the Nations mini expansion.

Jonathan had forgotten about testing bombs, which he remembered after I tested mine. But at that point it was too late he’d screwed his game plan up. I was the first to test a bomb, therefore picking up 8 whole points. There was some pressure from Edmund but I’d got a good engine going on my player board that meant I was mostly just doing actions on my board and not the main one.

I managed to grab the win. But Edmund and I had ran way ahead on the points front. 

We really are blessed with some great worker placement games in our collections. It’d be fair to say we enjoy that mechanic. We must try harder getting them to the table. But it won’t be easy.

Our second and final game of the evening was a learning game of Red 7.

I’d picked this up at the Expo. Since it’s release a couple of years ago now it’s had really good buzz. 

Having now played the game I can see why. At first it seems so simple. 49 cards, split between 7 colours each numbered between 1 to 7. Each colour is associated with a rule, for example for Red the rule is highest value wins. Each player starts with a hand of 7 cards, and a face up card in front of them called their pallete. On your turn you can play a card to your pallete, to the canvas (like a discard pile) to change the rule. Or do both. The only condition is you have to be winning at the end of your turn or you are out.

This is a real thinker. It’s great fun playing it in the basic mode, or the advanced. Basic mode is a single round game. Advanced is first to a point total based on number of players. With 3 players it was 35 points. The advanced mode sees cards being removed and kept to one side to track points. The winner of a round scores the cards that meets the winning criteria. They go under that players player reference. So removed from the game. Which adds another level of strategy you have to consider. Plus it’s possible to draw cards in the advanced mode. It’s so much fun in advanced mode. It gets even more thinky! 

Plus we didn’t use the optional rule that brings into play the icons on the odd numbered cards!

Oh Edmund rocked this game and won the basic game and the advanced one.

This was a fun game. Lived up to the hype. Will definitely be hitting the table again.

A great evening gaming again, with great people. Cliched I know. But it’s true.

Same time next week?