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Archive for April, 2010

How do you make Timmy-sized creatures playable? Pay for them slowly.

It is pre-release day, and sadly, I cannot attend due to a sudden change in work schedule. I don’t actually play Magic these days, but a sealed event really sounded like fun. Maybe I’ll make the release.

In the meantime, I’ve looked over the RoE spoilers over at MTG Salvation. RoE is weird. It seems pretty different from what we’ve seen so far. While I’m not going to try and figure out how the new card will affect the standard meta just yet, I do have some opinions on the new mechanics and themes of the set.

Levelers

I don’t like the leveling creatures. Most of them are awful and it just doesn’t “feel like Magic” to me at all. However, some of the levelers are pretty good, and leveling is probably better than I want to admit. You can power your monsters up in installments instead of having to have a lot of open mana at once, such as the case with Figure of Destiny.

Jorga Treespeaker was the first leveler to catch my eye. She doesn’t actually cost you anything to level her the first time, and there’s probably no reason to level her past that. Student of Warfare is pretty decent as a 3/3 with first strike for 3. Mono red might find a reason to live with Kargan Dragonlord. Others might turn out to be better than they look at first. After all, you eventually get a pretty massive guy or game-changing effect if they sit there long enough. Levelers will probably be sneaky like that.

Rebound

I love rebound. It makes me think of cascade. I get a beneficial effect for doing nothing I wouldn’t do otherwise, which is a bit like cheating. Most of the rebound spells are reasonably costed for what they do, and so getting to play them twice for the same price is great. The drawback of having to play the free copy during your upkeep could hurt you some times, but on other occasions it might actually help.

For example, Consuming Vapors on the rebound might keep your opponents from playing a creature during their turn. If it misses the second time around, the first sacrificial effect and the life gain is well worth 4 mana. Staggershock could also prevent your opponent from playing a creature, and the recurring spell can always hit the player.

Totem Armor

Totem armor seems like an interesting idea to spice up auras, which don’t usually see a whole lot of play. These new enchantments provide not only a bonus, but get around the two-fer effect when an enchanted creature gets zapped by a single spell. They also offer creatures the ability to fight usually bigger things without dying. This being said, none of them are really that exciting.

Hyena Umbra is pretty cool, giving a +1+1 boost plus first strike, not to mention the secondary totem effect. The untap all lands effect of Bear Umbra might be useful in some sort of combo deck.

The Eldrazi

The Eldrazi themselves seem like Timmy’s wet dream to me. They are huge, overpowered creatures. All Eldrazi have annihilator, which is ridiculous and will probably turn tides even with the smallest values. The “bigger” Eldrazi all have a Feldon’s Cane effect if they go into a graveyard from anywhere, so they can’t be cheated into play via graveyard games, but others effects still work fine.  It also gives them the opportunity to end up in your hand again. The big guys all have some ridiculous effect just for playing them too. Even the “smaller” Eldrazi do some pretty cool things.

I’m scared of these guys. Luckily the “smaller” Eldrazi are still pretty expensive and don’t have the protection or effects of the “bigger” guys. The bigger ones will likely cause a scoop, especially the insane Emrakul. They make great finishers, if you can pull off the mana.  There are all sorts of cards who spawn Eldrazi critters who can be sacrificed to produce the colorless mana it takes to summon these beasts.

I’m not a huge fan of the Eldrazi myself. I don’t want to see games evolve into everybody playing mana ramp, first one to Emrakul wins. Flavor wise they are what they were intended to be; invincible assholes. The spawn producing cards are mostly bad, though the ones that net you a creature and the 0/1 tokens are kind of interesting, though most are overpriced. 

At the moment, I don’t see Eldrazi mana-ramp being a hot strategey, but I do see some of the Eldrazi getting play. Kozilek is a resonably priced finisher with a great “when cast” effect, which is perfect for the kind of decks I think he will be played in. The Artisan of Kozilek is pretty neat too, and probably under priced for what he is; a big, scary Eldrazi who brings another monster back from the dead. Lets not forget there are other things to do with scads of colorless mana other than cast Eldrazi.

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The Rise of the Eldrazi spoilers have been steadily rolling out at MTG Salvation and other sites. More of what the new set has to offer has been revealed. So far, it looks pretty ridiculous.

I mean rediculous in terms of individual card power. Look at this stupid thing.

Yes, Emrakul is ridiculous. I think he/she/it just might be the biggest, meanest monster ever printed, though rumors abound about an even bigger Eldrazi. Sure, Emrakul is far from invincible, but he is damned close. Other Eldrazi monsters are already pretty burly already; just look at Kozilek or Ulamog. It is safe to say giant, game winning monsters with crazy powers and even crazier mana costs are at least a sub-theme to this set. It is Rise of the Eldrazi, after all.

A new and ridiculous mechanic has been introduced as well; level up (or leveler, whatever the hell you want to call it). Some creatures can now gain levels by paying an activation cost. Various new abilities and power/toughness upgrades come with different level brackets. It works somewhat like Figure of Destiny combined with the flip cards from the Kamigawa block.

Also ridiculous, the two new planeswalkers; Sarkhan the Mad and Gideon Jura. Both bring something completely new to the planeswalker archtype. Sarkhan has no ability with which to add loyalty counters to him. He ticks away slowly until the last counter is removed. Gideon is the first planeswalker to have the ability to attack players directly as a creature can. It is pretty exciting.

There also seems to be a small colorless mana side-theme to Rise of the Eldrazi as well, which is to be expected when the blocks flagship creatures are colorless. However, it wasn’t clear how it would be implemented aside from the Eldrazi themselves. Now we see lots of cards which create minions with the ability to sacrifice themselves for 1 colorless mana. It appears there will be plenty of  spells available to “Dark Ritual” the ridiculous Eldrazi creatures into play, or pay X mana costs.

Finally, something else ridiculous; Starcity Game’s response to my letter. I have never seen a more blatant “non-answer” to a specific question. Good work.

 My letter:
I was wondering if Starcity Games might consider allowing customers to consolidate multiple pre-orders now that singles are being sold as spoiled.
In order to get the best prices, customers will have to buy early and buy often, which will lead to multiple shipping costs. I am also curious; why you are selling singles as spoiled? I know the eBay market does this, but I also don\’t pre-order product on e-bay because the prices are driven by mostly baseless speculation and new-card hype. I would hate to see the same at Starcity Games. Being able to buy new product as early as possible may appeal to some, but I
think it was just fine when pre-order day was after the pre-release.

Response from Starcity Games:
Thank you for your inquiry.  Our Pre-Order policy is to not combine orders once they are placed.  We do understand your feedback and issue with the
singles being put up at different times.  We do try to work with our customers as best we can. Unfortunately, we do not know at the beginning of pre-order sales what the single cards will be.  Once they are discovered we do make the decision whether or not to make that card available for pre-order.

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