Category Archives: magic


Climbing Magic

After a fun (for me) morning of opening a booster box of Star Wars: Destiny Awakenings and filing them away yesterday, it was the second attempt at the Fenland Gamers Magic the Gathering League.

After the first attempt to start this league I was left feeling a little bruised. So I was really relieved when people started showing up. 

The night before I’d been given the heads up that a couple more players would be coming along. My mental head count said there should be 10 of us playing. I was hoping I hadn’t forgotten anyone. The Amonkhet booster box of 36 packets would cater for 12 players. I had breathing room for 2 unexpected players if need be. 

We would be following the Magic the Gathering League format (rules here) that usually runs over 4 weeks. Ours will differ slightly, instead of weeks it’ll be meet ups. Otherwise we are exactly the same. So everyone buys 3 booster packs (¬£7) and builds a 30 card deck from them to play with. Then each meet up you are allowed to buy a booster pack to strengthen your deck with. If you loose 3 games in a row you can also buy an additional booster pack to help improve your deck.

What I like about this format is that it’s accessible to new, casual and experienced players. It doesn’t rely on having spent lots on cards (although we do have to use extra lands for the decks). It’s also a format you can join at any time during its running and just start playing and not be at a disadvantage.

We all cracked open our three packs, started organising the cards we’d pulled, and started building our decks. 

I think Justin got the find of all the packs opened. He pulled an Invocation. I should have took a photo (which I only just thought about as I write this post). It’s potentially worth a bit of money. 

My first game of the afternoon was against Charlie. Which I lost. But at least during the game I was able to remove his hand of two cards by forcing him to discard them. Which delayed his plans by getting rid of his two 7/7 flying creatures. 

My next game against Chris saw me do better but still loose. One more lose and I can strengthen my deck with another booster. 

The following 3 games were against the least experienced players in the room. I walked away with victories but they felt hollow. I always feel like the school bully when I win these games. 

My final game of the afternoon was against Michael. His deck was just nasty. He enchanted a flying creature so it had life link. I had not drawn either of my two bats, he’d forced me to discard five (iirc) cards from the top of my deck to my graveyard. Which got rid of the one card I could have played to kill off his flyer. It was an achievement I suppose that Michaels health was 21 when I died and not 35 (which was his final health when he defeated Charlie).

The feedback I’ve been getting was people had a good time. Which I’m chuffed about. I’m also chuffed that at last one of these events was a success.

A big thank you to Fenrock for hosting the event. We really do appreciate it. 

A very big thank you to those that came along and making this a success and so much fun.

The next league day is the 12th August, same time and place. 

A Magic Afternoon

Wizards of the Coast were very kind and sent some of their Welcome Decks from the recent Welcome event to me for my students to learn Magic the Gathering.

This afternoon a group of my learners that take part in my Monday enrichment session learnt how to play Magic the Gathering using a Welcome Deck of their choosing.

They have really enjoyed themselves learning Magic and playing the game. There has been a buzz, laughter, delight in discovering the creatures in their decks.

Think we will run a mini league using these decks. Then hopefully if I can get a booster box cheaply I’ll run a league for them based on the Magic League rules (after half term). I must get some extra life counters for them too. 

A big thank you to Wizards of the Coast for your generosity. The students were really really chuffed that they could keep their decks.

House Magic and Prophecies

So like Wizards of the Coast (or WotC as they are abbreviated to) came up with this cool idea. Well giving them credit for a business plan used by drug dealers for like ever is a bit generous, but still it seems innocent enough. That idea is to give you a free mini deck, teach you how to play, and give you a promo card. All in the comfort of your FLGS. Or in drug dealer terms, here’s a free sample, this is how you shoot up, here use my living room. 

WotC are calling this cunning stolen plan “Magic Open House”.

This event is for people who have never played Magic before, need a Magic refresher, or want to introduce a friend to the game! Show up, get a Welcome Deck, and play Magic against other newer players. Thousands of game stores will be hosting Magic Open House events to welcome players to Magic, one day only, on April 15.

Yes my FLGS The Hobbit Hole was taking part in this event of epic proportions. 

It would have been rude of me not to turn up.

So I went for the red Welcome Deck. Mainly because I’d caught the end of a live Facebook broadcast the day before the UK community manager for Magic the Gathering. The bit I saw was the end of a brief look at the various Welcome Decks. I came in where the last pack she was looking at was red, and the sentence (I paraphrase here) “if you like dragons”. I thought I like dragons. And it was that thought that went through my mind when choosing my Welcome Deck upon arrival at The Hobbit Holes Open House.

I have to admit when I saw the Stalking Tiger card in the green Welcome Deck I was envious. I really did like the art work on that card.

So I got some games in with a “Magic Expert” to teach me the game. Our first couple of games just used the thirty card mono colour deck from our Welcome Deck. Then we combined those cards with the other thirty card deck that’s included in the box, which is a different colour. So I was playing a red/blue deck. I lost that match up.

I then played against another “Magic Expert” and lost that game too. My final game before having to leave was against John (the store owner) which I also lost.

But it was fun playing those decks. Although I never did get my dragon to the table. Didn’t draw it once.

It really was a nice intro event. If you get a chance you should go to one and try Magic the Gathering. You don’t have to get heavy into it. I play the Duel Decks when I can. Plus there was that new league format that didn’t require having lots of cards. Which I hope starts up again soon.

Having collected my foil full art land card as my final reward for taking part, I dashed across the Fens back to Wisbech. I had some time jumping to do.

Here be Dragons…

SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! There may or may not be spoilers for the third scenario Prophecy of Dragons.

When I arrived at The White Lion everyone was there already. Including the walking wounded Will, who apparently injured the ligaments round his knee whilst recreating the classic Undertaker and Mankind Hell in a Cell match (see YouTube clip below) by jumping off the top of his wardrobe (ok I may have taken a little bit of artistic licence there in what actually happened. But frankly my version is far more exciting and credible.)

Anyway this was our first time back together since our first attempt at Prophecy of Dragons. Which was a good couple of months back. Our memories aren’t that great. So we pressed the rest button and approached the game as if playing for the first time.

Whilst going through the scenario one or two things started to come back to us. But we still ran out of time on our first run through.

But Jonathan had been sneaky and had made notes where the three fairies could be found. Just in case like. I hadn’t even noticed him paying extra attention to the cards.

So while resetting we decided to change tact from our initial run, and the majority of runs in the long ago previous failed attempt, and collect the fairies.

This got us to the portal with plenty of time units, we got through the swimming bit. Which was shocking because this had defeated us so many times. But the dice were really kind to us. Amazingly so.

We had done it. We were now into undiscovered country and the mysterious mystery black deck.

We were inside the castle! A new map, new locations to explore. Wow. This was unreal. 

We explored the castle and ended up in the final conflict. The big battle was a little easier than it should have been because we were able to use a beacon on the big bad that killed him straight away!

However the final act to complete the mission fell upon my character as it could only be done by a magic user. Luckily earlier decisions meant I was rolling seven dice for magic skill tests. So in about three rolls I had completed the task and won the day! Yep it was me, I was the hero, and I didn’t need a naked woman or girly mag to do it (see earlier T.I.M.E. Stories write ups).

OMG! We had done it. Prophecy of Dragons is fun. Is it the best one? It’s less puzzly for sure. I like the introduction of magic. But I think I’m hard pushed to say it’s the best. It’s very reliant on the first half of finding that optimal path through. But still lots of fun.

Ancient Egypt next time.

Waiting for me at home…

Tech and Magic

Yesterday six people with nothing better to do than play a few games of the rather excellent asynchronous living card game Android Netrunner gathered at The Hobbit Hole to compete for the Summer game night kits main prize of some plastic tokens. 

Match 1 Phil 2 – 0

The cards were really against me in this first match up. 

Take for example our second game when I was the corp. Two back to back runs on R&D hits three agendas for the win. Well that is the danger of the high value agendas. Up until that disasterous moment I thought everything was going to plan!

Phil does take part in a lot of the organised play like regionals etc. He also is an Ashes player. So that makes four I know in the area. That almost makes a local meta if we all managed to play together! Sadly we are dispersed a little over the area. So will need to work on how we can get together.

Match 2 Kar-Fai 1 – 1

Two runner wins this time. Kar-Fai is fantastic at deck building. He proves you don’t need every card going to be competitive. With core sets, a deluxe set I believe he builds very strong decks. His deck building and playing skills beat mine hands down.

Match 3 Jamie 1 – 1

At last facing off against Jamie. We managed not to play against each other in the last tourney.

I was confused a bit initially by Jamie’s tactics during our plays. For instance he happily took tags against my NBN deck! 

Which has in other games been an issue. Because most now know to avoid that with my deck, because that then allows me to start messin with the runner and eventually scorch earth them.

Which is exactly how I killed Jamie for the win.

Jamies Jinteki deck is very punishing. Making runs and scoring triggers damage of some kind. He leaves servers open, plays lots of little agendas, daring you to run and score. Black mail allowed me to hit servers easily, and with Same Old Thing and Deja Vu made it seem like I had more than two copies.

But then Jamie returned the favour killing my runner!

Two corp wins for the record.

Finished joint 4th with Jamie

Phil was the winner. So being beat comprehensively by the winner of the comp wasn’t too bad.

Final thoughts…

There was definitely a bias towards Jinteki and Shaper decks this time round. A lot of fun was had. Sadly the next tourney will be in the new year. Once Esdevium manage to get their act together and send the kits out.

So while waiting for the Netrunner tourney to start yesterday I caved and joined the new Magic the Gathering league that’s started up at The Hobbit Hole. 

Yes I know I’m an ultra ultra casual Magic player. Mainly playing the duel decks, I have a green/black deck I built. Which I played once, but the deck I think isn’t currently legal for standard, but might be for modern.

So why have I entered a league? Have a look at the rules below. As the way it’s been setup, it’s ideal for new players, and ultra ultra casual players like me.

You buy three boosters and construct a deck of thirty cards from them. It means I don’t have to have a large collection of Magic cards, or have been buying lots of the latest set to take part and stand a chance of doing well. It eliminates that how deep is your pocket element.

In my three packs I got one shiny and a Planeswalker. The Planeswalker according to Chris (a much much more experienced Magic player than me) in this format is potentially a very powerful card to have in a deck. 

Looking at the Planeswalker if she is going to be in my deck then she has made my deck a blue/red which after a quick Google is known as Izzet. 

Luckily with this colour combination I have enough cards to make up the suggested numbers from above. How well it plays is another thing.  

Now all I need to do is get along to the store and play some games!

Duelling Decks

It was Tuesday, not a Formula D league night, so must have been Warlords Chatteris club night.
A new prospective member turned up last night with his Magic deck. We had chatted on the clubs Facebook page, so I acted as “host” for the evening. Heck the things I do for the club like having to play Magic with some-one.
We played our own preconstructed decks to start with, with Chris sitting in coaching the other person. Well we were/are still both relatively noobs to the game.
I was able to win by chipping away four points at a time.
Our second game was using the Blessed v Cursed Duel Decks from the new Shadows Over Innistrad set. These are prebuilt decks designed to battle each other. My opponent chose the black/blue deck, which was zombies and vampires. Whilst I had the White/blue deck, so angels and humans. I got an early advantage with flying monsters ie angels that weren't getting blocked. But that ground to a halt once my opponent got a couple of flying monsters, and stared building up a few monsters to eventually attack with. Neither of us attacked whilst we were building up our battlefields waiting to get the tactical advantage. Which fell to me first with having not just a superiority in number of flyers, but the total damage that would get through after being blocked was enough for me to deliver the knock out blow.
Our third and final game of Magic was another duel deck but this time from Zendikar. In fact it was easy to see I hadn't played these two decks because the cards were still sealed! There was some nice nback and forth. My opponent cleared my battlefield down to one monster with an instant, it also removed his token monsters he had out. But my single left monster and a land I could turn into a monster were enough for me to take the win again.
A great evening for me. A clean sweep of victories, I won't get that for a while playing Magic.


Use the force Luke

Yesterday was the Hobbit Hole's X-Wing Store Championships. Which because of the required playing space (each game play area is a 3' X 3' space) and number of players was being held at the local working men's club hall (also home of the Chatteris Warlords).

I wasn't taking part, I dropped out of buying the X-Wing expansions and keeping up with the meta just before the Scum and Villiany expansions hit. Which was the around the same time Imperial Assault came out. I wasn't getting to play X-Wing, still not selling my collection as the models are amazing, plus I can only afford to follow one of these type of games, and I thought I'd stand more chance getting Imperial Assault to the table.

The new Ghost model from the Star Wars Rebels cartoon is beautiful. And what surprised me the ship is bigger than the Falcon. I may be tempted to get this one, for its model factor.

So why was I there then if I wasn't going to take part in the tournament? Well rumour before hand was there might be some other games being played as well on the fringes. So with some games and decks in a bag I had turned up in hope of playing some games.

My first game was against March Jamie (and yes I do give him some banter about being from March) and a friendly game of Magic the Gathering. This time my green/black deck worked! The two previous times I played this deck I struggled to get the lands needed to play cards. This time I got after a couple of mulligans I got a starting hand I was happy with, and was getting cards I could play, and the lands I wanted. The game ended up being very close. I was left with one point of health, as I delivered a finishing blow to get a win!

The second game I got to play was a three player game of Colt Express, once more with March Jamie and a third anonymous party. The third party was very keen to play this game, because they wanted to play with the time machine promo, and I knew the rules for it. Maybe a little too late we discovered the anonymous third party may or may not have been influencing the cards that appeared in their hand of cards to play! Not surprisingly that anonymous third party won! This was a casual game, and played for fun.

After that March Jamie and I continued the earlier Magic the Gathering theme by getting Arena of the Planeswalkers to the table.

At last!

I didn't win a single game of this out of the three we played. But I had a blast playing it. After each game we swapped to a Planeswalkers that hadn't been played yet.

There were some great moments, like when I was playing Jace and using his spells and enchantments to frustrate Jamie by sending his squads back to his reserves. Or when March Jamie found out about Ob Nixilis and his ability to simply destroy an adjacent enemy once a turn. That was funny, because he had moved a single unit strong water based creature next to him to attack.

Ok that last game there was a little bit of time pressure because the it was getting dangerously close to the end of the time the hall had been booked for. So I did a mad rush in with Ob Nixilis to take on the opposing forces when I should have moved everything up together.

But still as I said there were many fun moments that made the game very enjoyable. It's is such a shame that Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro are not getting more behind this game. This game needs more expansions fast. Such as a landscape expansion adding more landscape to the game, the 3D element makes the game much more interesting, not just visually but game play wise. It affects line of sight, bonuses when attacking and defending, and also movement.

A major element of this game is also the squad building, or would be if there were more squads. That's the other expansion this game needs, more so than landscape. Not being able to build squads or tailor your spells deck is really limiting the game.

The models are really quite impressive in their detail considering the cost of this game. Not the best quality, but surprisingly good. The play area is quick to setup, but you do need a large table to play.

Arena of the Planeswalkers is a blast, but let down by poor support. Which is a shame, it deserves to be better supported, FFG would have done so much more with this. Actually I'd love to see PlaidHat licence this to make an Ashes version.

So glad this got to the table, will definitely be playing again.


A Pleasant Afternoon Gaming

Despite loosing my two games of Netrunner this afternoon, which were a repeat of Tuesday's games where I won. I had a blast playing. I said previously that these are going to be my decks for the regional at the UK Games Expo. Yes my Corp deck will be seeing some work, but only after I've played it some more.

Now it's play, play, play, and learn how to play my decks properly. What cards do I need to hit early? How do I fair against the different factions? What's my best play when X happens?

Yes my opponents are playing “basic” decks with the odd data pack adding to their pool. As my results are showing their decks are still competitive.

So yes I lost today. But I learnt something whilst losing.

After my defeats, we played a couple of games of Magic the Gathering, allowing me to test my first constructed deck.

Our first game I was royally destroyed. I drew two lands, and that was it, I kept drawing creatures. So not able to do anything. Our second game I faired better and provided more of a challenge. I even landed damage on my opponent.

The afternoons gaming was rounded off with a game of Colt Express. I think this was my best score in the games I've played so far with 2600 points at the end. Which wasn't enough to win, but enough to get me second place.

So that's how I spent my first afternoon post my last official day in the office. Technically I'm still an employee for another sixteen working days. But they are holiday I was owed.


My First FNM

For many stores Friday Night Magic (FNM) is their life blood, their bread and butter. If it wasn't so popular our FLGS would most likely not be able to stay open, our hobby would be poorer, and most likely not as popular.
Previously I've written words confessing that I had dipped my toes into the darkside. Nath and I played our first game of Magic over Christmas using the two taster decks we had been given. And I wrote words about that experience briefly at the time also.
So it was only a matter of time really before my experimenting with the darkness saw me making an appearance at my FLGS The Hobbit Hole in Chatteris at one of their FNM events.
I'd avoided going to last weeks pre-release events for Oath of the Gatewatch, the current set of Magic cards that continue the story of events started in the previous release Battle for Zendikar. I didn't have the resources available. Which sadly meant I missed any promos available. But hey thems the breaks.

Earlier on Facebook I checked with the FLGS if noobs were welcome and there would be folks around ok with playing against a noob. I also reserved a Fat Pack and box of boosters for the end of the month.

At last nights FNM the main event for the veteran players was a draft using booster packs from Oath of the Gatewatch.

I had with me the intro deck I bought when the previous release came out. But temptation got the better of me, and somehow an exchange between me and the FLGS resulting in a green/black intro deck for this new release in my possession.

I observed the draft with interest for future reference. There was some banter particularly aimed at a player taking a tad too long deciding which cards to draft, causing a backlog. During this banter it emerged that another player was from March. Well it was only natural and just that even though I was not part of the draft, that some banter was directed at the March lad.

After the drafting had finished it was time for the tournament to begin. They had an odd number of players. Which meant one player would have a buy. It was this player that would be able to test their newly drafted deck against this noob and his just purchased green/black intro deck.

For a noob the intro decks are great because they allow a noob to try out different coloured decks to find one they like playing. From there they can start constructing a deck based on those colour(s), even basing the initial decks on the intro deck they had been playing, swapping out cards etc.

As luck would have it the veteran with the buy, and testing their draft deck was the March lad.

For a person from March he was quite likable and swapped banter while also guiding this noob through the game of Magic. I got my butt kicked royally in our first game. The March lad was drawing white creatures. I hate being on the receiving end of a deck with white in it. Nath had a white deck at Christmas. I had the land but not enough to get the creatures out in my hand.

Our second game I did much much better, I was not land rich, but I was getting creatures out, blocking attacks even did a couple of points of damage. But in the end the inevitable result happened and I lost.

So I've played Magic three times, and lost three times. However I've had blast each time.

I've enjoyed my first time at FNM and will definitely be back again. Maybe with my own constructed deck.

Two Days of Christmas

Christmas Eve saw Nath and I at the cinema to see for the second time Star Wars The Force Awakens. Although we were only watching the 2D version of the movie, I had to get the 3D glasses the Vue Cinema are selling.

They look so blooming cool. Apparently Odeon cinemas are doing Star Wars branded Google Cardboard so will have to find time to visit one of them.
After the movie we ended up in Sainsburys for some very last minute veg buying, and somehow this piece of Lego ended up in the basket too.
I think it helped that it had been reduced by a fiver. But this is a great little model of Rey's speeder from the new movie. I also love the Rey minifig, especially with the head gear on.

After I had built my little Lego treat, I finally caved and bought Nath the full version of the Star Realms app and its expansions. He's been playing the app but just not online. So now father and son can play Star Realms while apart. Oh if you wish to challenge Nath on Star Realms his in game name is banjo.

Christmas Day, the miracle for me was how Nath cleared his plate! Our plates were piled high. I couldn't clear my plate, yet Nath wiped his clean.

Before Nath performed his man verses food Christmas challenge, we played a couple of games of Star Realms Colony Wars. I won our first game when we played with gambits also. While Nath took the second game, which was just a plain vanilla game. There are some awesome cards in Colony Wars, however in a later post I will look at the cards.

Nath and I also played our first Magic the Gathering card game. We used the two thirty card taster packs I was given. Nath had the Gideon Jura White Planeswalker deck, while I had Nissa Revane Green Planeswalker. I got hammered by Nath. I never even got a point of damage in. I nearly had a mighty fourteen points hit land. I had a Terra Stomper fielded, which had trample, and is an 8/8. I summoned Yeva's Forcemage that is a 2/2 creature, but gave a +2/+2 to a target creature when fielded until the end of turn. Which I naturally directed at my Terra Stomper. I then played Titanic Growth that pumped the Terra Stomper with an extra +4/+4 until the end of turn. I then attacked with my fielded 2/2 Prized Unicorn, and 14/14 Terra Stomper. Nath had to block the Prized Unicorn with his creatures because of the text on the Prized Unicorn “All creatures able to block Prized Unicorn do so.” Which meant I'd be smashing Nath for fourteen massive points to his face!

Nath plays the instant Divine Verdict that destroys target attacking or blocking creature. Bam!! That super beefed up Terra Stomper sent to the graveyard.

Two turns later I'm dead, I had nothing to stop Nath's attacks with. That instant by Nath won him the game. I had a chance upto that point.

Oh well we both enjoyed playing the game which is the main point. A fun first experience of the game. Swap colours next time I think.

Oh what games did I get Nath for his Christmas present? Dead Panic, the zombie themed version of Castle Panic, Marvel Legendary Villians and Star Realms Cosmic Gambits.


The Week Before Christmas Arrivals

Ever since seeing Kingdom Builder played with rule fubars (who hasn't made mistakes when playing a game?) that sparked some interesting finger pointing on Tabletop, I thought that looks like an interesting game. I'd like to play that sometime.

So when the opportunity to get the game second hand popped up on that Facebook selling page at a nice little saving, I thought it was worth a punt. Said punt arrived at the start of the week.

So my addiction continues, I found a cheap way to build up my collection of Magic cards. This deck builder kit got me 185 cards and 100 lands for £12! Considering a tenner normally gets you four booster packs of fifteen cards each, that's a pretty good investment in my book. But I'm sure a more seasoned Magic player will point out the floors in my logic here.

Still in the postal system somewhere…

  • Neuroshima Hex promo army
  • Star Realms Colony Wars and the new Gambits expansion
  • My misplaced Tiny Epic Galaxies card sleeves