Category Archives: magic


Sunday Surprise

I knew that my second order from Card Kingdom was somewhere between their location on the west coast of America, the Atlantic and our postal system. So when the 2 battle decks, rookie deck, and sideboard starter turned up today I was a little surprised. Like the latest MtG duel deck I was expecting it next week sometime. But both early on a Sunday. What a pleasant surprise.

I’m a fan of the MtG duel decks. They are great for casual players who just want that MtG experience without all the investment and deck building etc. I’m really looking forward to playing this latest set of Merfolk vs Goblins. Especially when I’m hoping there are cards in the merfolk deck that I could use in a merfolk tribal deck for Commander. Yeah I have a merfolk deck on my list of Commander decks to build. I think Ixalan will be inspiring lots of tribal decks for Commander players. With this duel deck, Explorers of Ixalan and the next set Rivals of Ixalan there will be plenty of options to build tribal decks around merfolk. Naturally I’m not counting cards from earlier sets, because I don’t have many. So I build from what I have. Besides I won’t break up a duel deck, so if there are cards I want I’ll have to target buy or buy another copy. Anyway I digress.

These duel decks are my “let’s play a game of magic” for my friends and myself. Or sometimes for my students to use to play with.

The battle decks from Card Kingdom are their version/equivalent to the official Planeswalker decks. So I went with their new merfolk and dinosaur decks. After that digression earlier I bet you can guess why I got these two decks. Which might eventually be their final destination. But in the meantime they are going to fill the same kind of job as the duel decks which I think they are ideal for. Naturally at $10 a piece you are not going to be getting any high value cards. But used as I intend to they are a bargain.

The rookie red deck is just a basic deck I can use along side Welcome Decks to teach the game. Whilst I wanted the sideboard to introduce the concept to my students.

Naturally it goes without saying I’m rather keen to try these decks.


Yesterday Justin, Jonathan and myself played a couple of games. Our first game was Sub Terra. The baggage this game has is a nice source of banter at my expense. But then again it’s banter if you give it, you also have to receive it. This was a first time in the depths underground for Jonathan and Justin. Jonathan was designated first player by the fact his arm had been down a manhole recently. Which sadly was the nearest any of us had been to being underground. The criteria for choosing the first player in the rules is the person who most recently has been below ground. Thematic but still.

Jonathan and Justin both went off exploring in one direction while my two characters went off in another. A Horror didn’t turn up until the second half of the game. Unluckily for me the exit was on the side of the cave complex that Jonathan and Justin were on. Even worse for me was there was not a chance I’d make it over to them in time before we were out of time. Which didn’t matter, even with two horrors on their tails, both my cavers became unconscious. Still 4 out of 6 escaped. So we won the game!

Our second and final game of the afternoon was London (Second Edition). Which to cut along boring story short I won. Justin thanks to having lots of poverty ended up with a negative score. I think played right his tactic of 7/8 stacks could work. But when you ran the city you’d have to have zero cards in hand by the time you got to the calculating poverty stage.

A great afternoon gaming, and once more a big thanks to our hosts The White Lion for allowing us to play there.

Seeking solace in a booster – Random booster opening #2

I wasn’t expecting to do one of these so soon. But after the day I had yesterday I needed something to cheer me up. Yesterday the clutch on my car decided it wants to see what is awaiting for it on the other side. I managed during its death throes to drive it from work back to Wisbech and my regular garage. But it was close. I feared junctions, and the evening traffic queue spots. Somehow I managed to get through March. A miracle, and evidence if there was any required of a higher power. If you didn’t see my driving home last night you missed some of the best driving ever. But my worst fear was nearly realised less than half a mile from the garage. I just couldn’t get the car into first when I had stopped at some traffic lights. Eventually after a long struggle with the dying clutch I managed to get into first and crawl that last bit of the journey to the garage. Parked the car, and as I got out I half expected it to just implode as it gave it’s dying breathe. But it didn’t, it stood there, not moving for anyone unless they pushed it.

So here we are with an opened feel good booster.

Let’s go straight to the rare that I pulled:

Next up the 3 uncommons:

Finally the 10 commons:

On another MtG note, I did introduce some students to Commander yesterday using the 2017 Commander decks. One of the students was playing the Vampire deck and used Blood Tribute  on his fellow student who was playing the big cats deck. Sadly for the cat player earlier the Vampire player had cast Sanguine Bond on them. So with the Blood Tribute also being kicked, the cat player was dead. And the Vampire player was somehow sitting on 80 health. That meant myself (playing Wizards) and the dragon player ganged up on this monster vampire deck.

I cast Memory Plunder to play Blood Tribute on the vampire player, which was funny. It would have been even funnier if I had been able to kick it to get the life as well. I drew a Clone Legion, and played that copying the vampire creatures on the vampire players battlefield. Which meant I had a vampire. I then drew and played Izzet Chronarch, which when he entered the battlefield allowed me to pull back an instant or sorcery. Oh dear Memory Plunder was an instant, and I had the mana spare. So I cast Memory Plunder for the second time, and used Blood Tribute once again, but this time I was able to kick it. So I got life gain as well as do some serious damage to the vampire player. Naturally between the dragon player and myself we were able to put the vampire player out of his misery very quickly after that. But wow what a combo.

I was impressed with that Blood Tribute and Sanguine Bond combo, that was a very nasty play. It meant next game the vampire player was getting all the attention damage wise from the cat player. But it was oh so funny to use Blood Tribute twice against it’s owner.

Random Booster Opening #1

The problem with buying booster boxes for our Magic League is temptation and I’m weak willed.

Between league days I have an open booster box. The temptation to open the boosters is so great. It’s so addictive cracking open boosters. The anticipation, the crackle of the wrapper as you open it and peel back the foil. Then fanning through the commons and uncommons quickly to get to that magical rare/mythic. Was that a flash of a shiny? That moment when you glimpse that rare/mythic. The rush when it’s a card you really wanted, or is worth a bit of money.

So here we are, I gave in to temptation yesterday and cracked open a booster. And I thought I’d share the contents of that booster with you all.

This is a booster from Ixalan.

Ok let’s jump in with the headline act of the booster, the rare that I pulled.

Next up the uncommons were:

Finally getting the least attention the commons.

I’ve given this post a number just in case I want to do a similar post in the future.

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.

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.

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.

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).

Amonkhet Bundle Pack

I can’t believe that I missed getting this bundle in for Amonkhet.

Let’s jump in with more content lite. You already know what I think about the vfm for the bundles from previous posts.

In the players guide it has The Top Ten Coolest Amonkhet Cards. So how many of them do I have?

  1. Nissa, Steward of Elements
  2. Kefnet the Mindful
  3. Trial of Solidarity
  4. Liliana, Death’s Majesty
  5. Never/Return
  6. As Foretold
  7. Glorybringer
  8. Honored Hydra
  9. Wayward Servant
  10. Channeler Initiate

I actually like the look of that Nissa too. I think she could fit into the unconstruction Dinosaur tribal deck I’m playing. Getting the 5 or less converted mana cost creatures out for free would be a very useful thing to have. Scry 2 isn’t a bad ability either.

But what did you pull Darren?

  • 3 full art lands

  • 3 shiny Foils

Followed by the following rares/Mythics…

  • 2 Legendary creatures

Well apart from a couple of target buys like Nissa and As Foretold, this is my farewell to Amonkhet.

The art on a lot of these cards has been amazing. It’s been fun. I enjoyed playing with the cards in our league. I will pay a little visit to Hour of Devastation, so I won’t be saying good bye completely to this plane.

Gisharth’s Army

Welcome to the start of a long and laborious series of posts where I work through building my process (based on the template suggested by The Command Zone, with input from The Prof at Tolarian Community College).

My Commander is…

Considering the title of this blog post, is it really a surprise? So I am running a three colour mana deck. As the rather crude image at the start of this post says, this will be a dinosaur tribal deck. I think it has to be to make use of Gishath’s ability.

Here is The Prof with a short information film about how to choose the right commander.

Obviously I have followed The Prof’s most important rule when selecting a Commander to play with:
I want to play dinosaurs, I want a big fun dinosaur commander. Who in their right mind doesn’t want to play dinosaurs right now? Nope pirates are not even close, so don’t go there. Just for the record in the current set Ixalan, it’s dinosaurs, merfolk, then vampires, and finally the over rated pirates. Why do I hate pirates? Those awful (and that’s the most positive word I can think about them) movies in the Pirates of the Caribbean series.

Unlucky for me I don’t seem tick some of the other factors that he hints we might like to consider.

Gishath is not a cheap commander to cast, at a converted mana cost (cmc) of 8. Which means I am breaking his following advice:

But considering this is the only dinosaur commander, then I have no choice but to accept that I won’t be getting Gishath out on to the battlefield early.

I do know that being red, green and white I have ticked one of The Prof’s recommendations.

Having access to those three colours of mana means I can use, or at least have access to all the dinosaurs that are in Ixalan. Which is what I want in a tribal deck (I think).

I’m not sure in what universe Gishath would not be considered an immediate threat when it enters the battlefield. Gishath has trample, vigilance and haste. Plus when it does damage to another player you draw cards and get to put into play any dinosaurs drawn! So I kind of break the following rule from the Prof.

I have to consider the following questions that The Prof raises:

  • is my commander my win condition?
  • does my commander enhance the existing synergy of my cards?
  • is my commander a tool that strengthens my position in the game?

That first point is important, The Prof says that your commander shouldn’t be your win condition because your commander will always be a target and get removed. He recommends you have multiple win conditions, and that you are able to win without your commander. The Prof suggestions a commander that enhances an existing synergy within the deck is the stronger route to go. Considering I haven’t built the rest of the deck yet it’s a hard one to say whether Gishath will do that or not. But it’s something I will need to consider when looking at cards.

In my next post in this limited series I will start looking at constructing my commander deck, starting with my mana base for the deck.