Tag: crack-a-pack

comments
Bruce Gray - May 10, 2016

SOI Crack a Pack #2

moonmist

Casual Encounters- Bruce Brews a Bad Deck #2

Welcome back looters! After a week of being all pensive I wanted to write about something a little lighter. I just wanted to crack a pack, see what we found, and then see if we can make a fun little brew that might get a few of you excited. Once again, my guidelines for the deck are that I need to use as many cards from the pack as I can, that it needs to be standard legal, and it needs to be pretty budget conscious. Seems simple right? We’ll let’s see what we have found here today and what we can brew up.

 

Rare:

 

Uncommon:

 

Common:

What struck me about this pack is a pretty interesting uncommon. Ulvenwald Mysteries is a powerful card advantage engine that has served me very well in limited. The thought has occurred that it might be a decent addition to a constructed deck, so I immediately was intrigued by the possibilities of this card. This pack also had a pair of powerful werewolves in the Geier Reach Bandit and the Breakneck Rider that wants to push me into red. With a few other little role players in the pack playing some sort of R/G werewolves deck seems very playable and pretty interesting.

Ok, so I need to use the Sanguinary Mage, the Magmatic Chasm and the Stoic Builder, which are a little disappointing. The Magmatic Chasm is a useful way to push through some damage with a pile of aggressive werewolves. The mage is just filler but could be a relevant early play. I like the idea of the Stoic Builder because I could play a little fixing and see if I can’t get access to a third colour. If I slam a bunch of Warped Landscape or Evolving Wilds in the deck I could use them early to get the land drops I need, but in the latter stages I could get them back with the Builder and reuse them to splash a third colour for something like a Fevered Visions. That seems like a reach, but might be worth it. There really isn’t anything else in this pack that is on colour, but some of the white cards seem like useful combat tricks.

The rest of this deck is going to be mostly red and green werewolves like Duskwatch Recruiter and Hinterland Logger.  My plan is to be pretty creature heavy as a way to trigger Ulvenwald  Mysteries as often as possible for extra cards and for human tokens to help plug up the board the short term. Here’s the list.

 

G/R (U) Werewolves

I’m not going to lie, playing Fevered Visions is just pure greed in a deck like this, but I can’t help myself .  The combination of a fixed Howling Mine and a Black Vise is too good to turn up and if I can create access to the mana then I see no reason why not.  Also, with the sheer number of creature spells in this deck I am really interested in the Duskwatch Recruiter as a form of card advantage to be activated on my opponent’s turn. I’m not quite sure what the math works out to on hit hitting, but I feel like the odds are very high when over ⅓ of your deck is creature cards.  

The deck feels unbelievably janky…and is totally something I am keen to build and run. However, there is a slight twist that I thought about that would be just hilarious.  Has anyone else noticed that Ghirapur Aether Grid is still legal in Standard?  So, how’s this for a little twist to this deck.  You drop the two Howlpack Resurgence and the two Cult of the Waxing Moon and sub in four Ghirapur Aether Grid with an eye towards having your creatures die in combat and then using the Clue tokens to power up the Aether Grid as an alternative way to get the win?  Honestly, how many creatures need to die before you’re leveraging those Clue tokens pretty handily?  I would wager 4 to 6 creatures need to die, but let’s be real, many of these creatures are there to die in combat so I would be happy to see them perish in exchange for Clue Tokens that can be weaponized. Those tokens represent cards in the mid part of the game if I need to draw answers, but make for a hilarious win condition if you need to go that route.   Here is version 2.0 of this list!

 

G/R (U) Werewolf Grid

 

Now, neither of these lists are very competitive and would not be something I would trundle out to play with anything real on the line, but as a kitchen table deck this looks and feels like it is just hilarious.  I’ve already started assembling the parts to piece together version 2.0 because I want the Aether Grid kill.  I figure  if you can get someone that way, even at a kitchen table, that you have unlocked some sort of achievement. The rest of the deck is essentially a massive pile of creatures that I want to turn sideways.

The one piece that is truly missing from this deck is access to a Moonmist effect that would allow me to flip my werewolves on command.  However, the Moonmist werewolf deck is coming for an upcoming deck list as I update my Modern-legal werewolves deck from our first visit to Innistrad.   It is shaping up to be a pretty fun update with some very fun new additions to help spice up the list.

Well that’s it for today. I’m pretty excited to try the Ghirapur aether grid version of this deck out in a couple of weeks when I sit down to play a few games with a friend of mine. I’m under no illusion that it is actually good, but I would love to get someone with clue tokens. If nothing else I hope these lists get you excited to build something for yourself. I suppose that is the reason I love to crack a pack one in a while…to see what new options can exist and what new and strange decks I can cobble together.

Thanks for stopping by and having a read. Be sure to stop by next time for another Casual Encounter.

Bruce Gray

@bgray8791 on Twitter

 

comments
Bruce Gray - April 20, 2016

Shadows over Innistrad Crack a Pack

Casual Encounters- Bruce Brews a Bad Deck

Ever-After-Shadows-over-Innistrad-Art

OK folks, I’m back and all excited for Shadows over Innistrad.  There is a just tons of sweet new additions in this set and new possibilities that are getting me all excited.  In the past I have started a new set with a number of Crack a Packs and approached them from a Limited perspective as if I was going to draft.  That is fun, but today I wanted to try something different.  I’m going to open up a pack and use as many of the cards in the pack to brew up something kind of fun and silly that might inspire you and get your brewers hat on and take a stab at brewing.  I won’t use every single card, and I will keep the deck Standard legal. It is invariably going to be a kind of a silly little deck that might have some play, but is more likely than not just going to falter.  However, I enjoy brewing decks like this and maybe something I do will inspire you to do the same.  Let’s see what I opened!

This is a pretty sweet pack.  Sage of Ancient Lore is a very strong draft card, but the card that got me really excited in this pack is Ever After.  The first time through Innistrad we got to see the power of Reanimator spells with things like Unburial Rites, and Ever After harkens back to some of that reanimator-type love.  So, what does a Reanimator-style deck want to do?  Why, it wants to mill itself, dump a ridiculous bomb (or several ) into the graveyard and then reanimate them at a considerable mana discount.  Now, Ever After is not a cheap Reanimator spell because it does cost 6 mana, but for that six mana you are getting TWO potential bombs, not just one.  So, let’s see what we can brew up with some of the cards in this deck.

The game plan is fairly simple.  You want to burn through your deck as quickly as you possibly can with things like Vessel of Nascency, Corpse Churn, and Crow of Dark Tidings as you dig for either your Inverter of Truths or the Bane of Bala Ged.  Now, Bane of Bala Ged is really a placeholder for just about any huge Eldrazi you want to cast and the bigger the better really.  If you can unearth an Ulamog, a Kozilek or any of the truly scary Eldrazi you are obviously going to target them with your Ever After or your Necromantic Summons, but Bane is a nice tidy budget option that can be run reasonably easily.  The real treat is the Inverter of Truth that is a very discounted 6/6 for 4 mana that I’ve been fooling around with since Oath of the Gatewatch dropped.  It could now be time for this ridiculous flying Eldrazi to shine now that we can mill our decks with surprising speed so we don’t deck ourselves.

    Some of the more interesting cards from Shadows Over Innistrad that are found in this pack are the Moldgraf Scavenger and the Pale Rider of Trostad.  The Scavenger is a surprisingly solid little creature that is an effective early blocker.  It blocks things with Skulk, survives Fiery Impulse and Fiery Temper, and when you hit Delirium can go on the offensive as an undercosted 3/4 .  Those are all very reasonable stats and make the Scavenger almost a reasonable addition to a Constructed deck that could play a similar, but different, role to Jaddi Offshoot.  Pale Rider of Trostad is a 3/3 for 2 mana which is a fine set of stats, but also gives the deck a way to discard something big if you don’t want to cast it yet.  I toyed with the idea of dropping something like an Angel of Deliverance  in this list to be discarded, but that felt very risky if I couldn’t actually cast the Angel. In the end I figured sticking to Eldrazi that could actually be cast seemed less risky.  

Sage of Ancient Lore is another really interesting card in this deck because it is an expensive rare card at 5 mana that has a ton of potential.  The fact that it says “draw a card” is the first dead give away that this is very powerful.  I have run much worse creatures that include that line of text and would happily do so again.  The real deal is when it transforms into a huge monster that can wreck the game.  This makes for another solid reanimation target, but is a little more volatile and riskier because it could flip back to being a human on any turn.  That said, it is a very strong card and would be another good target for reanimation.

The other cards in this list are just creatures that might allow me to hurry up and rush out some of my spells by ramping me, but also provide some measure of value if I need another valid target in my graveyard to make Ever After work.  Just about any value creature would work, but I opted for 3 Brood Monitors because 6/6 worth of stats across 4 bodies is very strong, but I could totally envision not playing this in favor of another value creature.  This slot is very much up for discussion and I would welcome some ideas if you had something  I could have run Gloomwidow as a form of aerial defense, and that might be a better option to give me enough time to hit enough land drops and be able to play an Ever After.

I weighed playing Vessel of Malignity and decided against it because exiling the cards from my opponent is not really what I wanted to do.  If I could have used it to target myself and discard something then I would have been more interested.  It would have been another discard outlet to allow me to pitch some other big scary creature, but alas, it exiles and can only be used on my opponents.  I can see Vessel of Malignity having a place in some decks because I feel like the hand destruction in this Standard format is very strong, but this is not that deck.

The rest of the pack is not on colour or theme for what I want to do with this sort of deck, but there is a little interest in some of those white creatures, notably the Apothecary Geist, and the Ghostly Wings because I think those might see a little fringe play if the right conditions are met.  

That’s all for tonight folks.  I hope you all enjoyed the different approach to a Crack a Pack. If you didn’t enjoy the weird deck and would rather I just crack a pack and focus on limited please let me know. Personally,  I enjoyed brewing something kind of fun and off the wall.  I know I might be stretching the self mill angle in the format with some of my selections, but if you are truly intent on milling yourself you do have some options.  Would you have used Ever After or would you have left it alone and opted to do something completely different? Share your brewing ideas down below in the comments or find me on Twitter.

Thanks very much and as always be sure to stop by next time for another Casual Encounter.

 

Bruce Gray
@bgray8791 on Twitter

comments
JP Vazquez JP Vazquez - April 13, 2016

Cracking Shadows

Optimum Jank – Cracking Shadows

IMAGE - TRISK - Willian Murai - Triskaidekaphobia

Fear Not, Player

It may not be Friday the thirteenth, but we’re in for some frights!

I originally wanted to do my Top 13 Shadows Over Innistrad (SOI) cards in honour of today being (unfortunately, not a Friday) the 13th… what with thirteen being of such relevance in the world of Innistrad). Ultimately, I felt that was a little too cliché.

Instead, I’d like to try something a little different. Hopefully you’ll all enjoy it. Since this week is the release week for Shadows, I felt that this would be the best time to do something we, as Magic players, all love to do: Let’s open some booster packs!

jpcrackapack

Fresh Pack Odor

Ah! That new card smell, that satisfying sound when cracking a pack, those sweet new cards. There’s a reason this game is colloquially referred to as Cardboard Crack.

I’ve set aside three packs to share with you. We’ll be cracking them for the fun of it, but we can also play “Pack 1, Pick 1”. Pack 1, Pick 1 (also known as P1P1) is a quick game Magic players will engage in when cracking packs. The purpose is to determine which card would be the “first pick” in a draft environment. Since we’ll be opening three packs, we can play this two ways: 1) For each pack, what would be our P1P1 if this were the first pack we would open in a draft and 2) What would be our pick if these were opened sequentially in a draft (i.e. pack 1, then pack 2, then pack 3).

Let’s dive into our first pack, shall we?

Here’s a look at our Common cards from our first pack.

No, we’re not jumping right to the rare. It’s called “building suspense”. If you really want to spoil the surprise, there’s nothing stopping you from scrolling down.

So what have we got here? Well, truthfully, nothing really stands out for me amongst these Commons. I’m a big fan of Vessel of Ephemera, which I talked about in my last article. It provides bodies on the board and fuels Delirium if we end up in a Delirium deck. The other Common I’m looking at is Howlpack Wolf. I’ve found the card to be extremely strong in Limited. Its “drawback” of not being able to block without another Wolf or Werewolf on the battlefield isn’t detrimental enough for me to not include it in a deck. More often then not, attacking is what I want it to be doing anyway. A 3/3 body on turn 3 in an aggressive RG (Were)Wolf strategy is exactly what I want. Like most Red mages say, “what is blocking?”

That’s all I’m really looking at in terms of these Commons, though. Let’s see if there’s something spicier in the Uncommons…

Eek, nothing fantastic here either. I like Tenacity. It’s a good combat trick that people often don’t see coming. I’m also a fan of Spectral Shepherd, especially in the Spirit deck. I really like his synergy with Apothecary Geist; Using the Geist as a blocker that I can bounce back to my hand with the Shepherd and then recast him again to gain life is pretty fun. I’m not sure, however, if either of those cards are first picks at this point. Let’s check out the Rare and Double Faced Card (DFC) and see if we’ve opened something exciting.

We opened a Mythic Rare! Seasons Past is a very neat card and I like the potential it harbours, but it’s a very difficult card to build around in Draft. Breakneck Rider, on the other hand, looks amazing right now. He’s a little more mana intensive than the Howlpack Wolf, but the Rider’s potential explosiveness when he transforms into Neck Breaker is worth it to me. That attack bonus is exactly what I want if I’m playing Red aggro. He’s a strong contender for P1P1, so let’s take another look at the pack before we make any decisions, just to make sure we’re satisfied with that pick.

Overall, not the best first pack to open but I feel the Breakneck Rider // Neck Breaker really saves it. I would be happy with P1P1ing the Rider. When this pack comes back to me in a draft, I would be hoping to “wheel” either the Howlpack Wolf for the synergy, Tenacity if I end up in White or the Wicker Witch if I’m in an aggressive deck.

So far so good! Let’s move onto our second pack!

Check it out, our second Vessel of Ephemera. This pack also has a second Vampire Noble as well… Wait a second! There’s only eight Commons here! This means we either have a second DFC in the pack or perhaps a premium card. This is exciting!

In terms of P1P1, if this had been out first pack, I like the Vessel, as I mentioned before, but I also like the Voldaren Duelist. I think it has a good ability on a solid body. If we view this pack as our second pack in the draft, following our Breakneck Rider pack, I like the Voldaren Duelist even more since he’s in our colours. Let’s take a look at the Uncommons, see if anything strikes us as better.

I love Silverstrike. I think it’s one of the best Common/Uncommon removals in the format. Sure, it’s a little expensive and it requires an attacking creature which isn’t irrelevant, but the three points of life has gotten me out of quite a few jams in games so far. I also like the Graf Mole. A 2/4 for 3 is an excellent defensive creature and he’s very solid in the Clue deck. That being said, if this were our P1P1, I’m definitely favouring the Silverstrike. If this were our P2P1, assuming I’m in Red with Breakneck Rider, I’d consider splashing White for Silverstrike. I don’t know if I could say the same about the Mole. I feel I would only pick the Mole if I was already in Green.

We’ve still got our Rare and DFC to check out! Will they be better than our last pack?

BOOM! Flameblade Angel, Accursed Witch and foil Silverfur Partisan. All of these cards are great. Personally, I’m really happy to have opened the Silverfur Partisan because he’ll be going into my Tribal Cube for the Wolf support. What’s a Cube you ask? That’s another topic for another time. But I digress…

For now, of these three cards, as much as I really like Silverfur Partisan, I do feel he’s the weakest of the batch. Accursed Witch is very strong and was an integral piece in my Release Day Sealed pool deck that lead me to a 5-0 victory, so I’m certainly going to give her pause. That being said, Flameblade Angel is the very definition of a bomb and will win games on her own. She’s currently my top pick, but let’s review the entire pack once more before we make a decision.

If this were my P1P1, I’d be hard pressed to choose anything over the Flameblade Angel. I definitely like Silverfur Partsan, Accursed Witch and Silverstrike, but I feel the Angel is the clear pick. Assuming this was our P2P1, following the Breakneck Rider pack, I’d be windmill slamming that Angel. She’s in our colours and she’s a fantastic top end to a Red deck.

This is going pretty well so far! Let’s see what’s in store for us in Pack 3…

Boo! Nine Common cards. Oh well; No foil or extra DFC for us. There’s the Apothecary Geist I was talking about before that could have combined well with Spectral Shepherd. If this were our last pack after our P1 Breakneck Rider and P2 Flameblade Angel, I have to say, I’m not a huge fan of either of these Red card. Hulking Devil is underwhelming and Ember-Eye Wolf is a 2 drop that I’m fine with including in my deck, but I’m not particularly excited to do so. If this were our P1P1, I’d be leaning toward the Murderous Compulsion. It’s cheap, efficient removal with a slight drawback that could be negated if we wheel that Stern Constable.

Let’s move on to our Uncommons.

Now these cards are a little more exciting. Pale Rider of Trostad is a very interesting card for the Skulk/Discard/Madness decks but I think I like Incorrigible Youths a little more. It’s a big beater with Haste and its Madness cost makes it an insane value card if you can cast it on turn 3. Youths is definitely at the top of my list right now. Let’s see if our Rare or DFC can beat it…

DISREGARD EVERYTHING. We opened the Man in the Popped Collar Leather Jacket on Top of a Hooded Cloak himself, Jace, Unraveler of Secrets. Lambholt Pacifist, you’re a pretty good card, especially in a deck with Breakneck Rider and Flameblade Angel, but I think the pick here is Jace. Just to be sure, let’s review the pack one more time.

It’s Jace, right? Jace? Yeah, I think it’s Jace. If this were our P1P1, it’s definitely Jace. If this were our P3P1, it’s still Jace because come on, it’s Jace. If Jace wasn’t in this pack, I’d be looking at the Youths or the Murderous Compulsion. That being said, he’s in the pack and I don’t think I have the fortitude of character to simply pass Jace, although I can tell you stories of those who have. But I digress…

IMAGE - SILVER - Lius Lasahido - Silverstrike

That Was Fun Now

I hope you enjoyed our very first “pack cracking” here on Optimum Jank. I’d be very interested to hear if you agree or disagree with my picks. Would you have gone in a different direction? Would you have passed the Jace in Pack 3 if you were already solidly in Red? Leave a comment in the Comments section and share your thoughts. If you’re in the area, Three Kings Loot hosts SOI drafts on Monday, Thursday and Friday. You should check it out if you enjoyed what you saw here and would like to try it yourself!

JP Vazquez – Optimum Jank

comments
Roy Anderson Roy Anderson - March 1, 2016

Nine Ways to Use Your Prize Packs

cardart_WheelofFortune

Nine Ways to Use Your Prize Packs

By Roy Anderson –

Hello fellow Looters, I’m back after my long hiatus ! However, before we jump into our main topic, I need to set the scene:

You finally sit down after finishing your FNM. Your final record is 2-2. You feel pretty proud of yourself as you decided to bring that brew you always wanted to try. 2-2 isn’t great but it is better than the 0-4 you expected. Now you are sitting there staring at your two prize packs. Your eyes are wide and your mouth waters like a magic player getting to eat his first meal after a full day at a PPTQ. You hear a cheer to your left and turn your head. You notice the new player in the store just opened a foil Nissa, Voice of Zendikar. This makes you even more excited as you turn your attention back to your own bounty sitting before you. You slowly start opening your packs, taking a small pause after getting the wrapper open as that new pack smell hits your nose. You thumb through the pack and finally make it to the rare. Moment of truth…Remorseless Punishment. You sigh… Sadly, the next pack follows suit with another lackluster rare. At least you can use that Stormchaser Mage

Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever thought that there has to be a better way to handle or get better value from you prize packs? Well search no further! I have helpfully sorted my suggestions in three categories: Value, Fun, and Third Category. Let’s dive in!

 

Value

Do you like value? Do you often play divination in limited? Is Baleful Strix your favorite Magic card? Then this category might be for you. The following ways to use a booster pack are all focused on getting you that sweet sweet value.

 

Get Store Credit Instead

The first, quickest, and easiest way to get value from your prize packs at events is to just take any store credit option offered. Now, I am aware that not all stores have this option available at events. If unsure, ask your store owner if they have any sort of credit policy. If they don’t, let them know that you are interested as this can be more profitable for the store owner as well.  

Let’s say that we are our friend from the story in the beginning and we decided to get store credit instead of those packs (most stores give around two to three dollars a pack). We could have picked up some lower end standard cards that we needed. We could have even put it towards our next event. Some players can even use this method to “go infinite” (play for free over and over) at their LGS. I got second place in a “win a box” at my LGS and decided to use this option. I left enough store credit to play in my next event along with taking eight packs home.

Either way, despite each pack being only worth a few dollars, you will consistently get a return from your prizes that has a lot less variance.

 

Save Them

The next thing that you can do to get value out of packs is to save them. Specifically, take them home, stash them away (I usually use an empty booster box), and save them. This can get you value in so many ways and is actually my number one recommendation if you don’t do it already. As a set is out for a longer period of time, they slowly become less available as stores stop ordering it. After a few years, printing stops. All this time, your pack will become more valuable (assuming it isn’t homelands). This is why saving your pack for a period of time generates value. In addition, you can also have this pack available to you to draft with which will save you money from having to buy it at an inflated price later.

There are even multiple ways to go about deciding what packs to save. At first, I used to save at least one pack from each event I went to. These days I simply make sure I have at least three packs from each set in my collection (some of the old sets I only have one). You can even save every prize pack you get if that is what you want. I have pulled from my collection of boosters and added to it over the years but it is always handy to have boosters sitting around. Especially ones that are out of print.

 

 

Sell Them Off

So this one is something that I don’t personally do but it would still be a valid option for getting more from your boosters. This option does take more time and effort as finding mediums to sell your packs isn’t always easy. On top of that, if you use an online platform, there are most likely fees and shipping costs which will remove some value from the equation. The best way to go about this would be to find someone you know who really likes to spin that wheel and open packs who may buy them from you for cheap.

Now, you can also get creative with this one. In my old playgroup, I was often the one who hosted drafts. I would charge about 10-15 dollars (depending on the set) to cover the cost of the packs. One time, I did the same thing but instead of using a booster box, I had used packs that I have saved from events. I want to stress this here, DO NOT TRY TO MAKE A PROFIT OFF YOUR FRIENDS. They will not be your friends for long. That being said, if it would cost the charged amount to run the draft in the first place, it should be fine. Transparency is really important here. When I did this, I even charged less than what a box would cost and my friends loved it because it was cheaper for them. This is a good way to get value from your packs and it is basically “selling them.”

 

Trade Packs for Cards

The last way to get additional value for your packs is to trade them for cards. This will require you to find someone who really enjoys the rush of cracking packs. Your local serial drafting group may also take this trade as a pack has more utility than a constructed playable card to them. I personally fall into both the aforementioned stereotypes so this method is not for me. That being said, I have traded constructed cards for a spin of the wheel so I can tell you that these people are there.

I hope you found a few new ways to get some value from your booster packs. Now, what about having some fun with your boosters?

 

ibhalfheart

Fun

Now, we all got into magic for most likely the same reason: we enjoy playing the game. This category is all about getting more play from your packs. Who doesn’t like to have fun?

 

Pack Wars

One of the quickest yet fun ways to use a booster pack is to play Pack Wars. This option option requires two packs, basic lands, and a friend to play with, but most Magic players/LGS should have these in abundance.

There are quite a few different rules for how to do a Pack War, but what follows are the ones I generally use. Each player needs one pack and ten basic lands (two of each color). Now, open your packs and remove the token without looking at the rest of the pack. Shuffle the basic land and the contents of the pack together (carefully if you value keeping your cards in good condition. I tend to pile shuffle as you can do it without scuffing corners and it also mixes the land well). Now, duke it out! I have done contests with this and even spent a good portion of a day Pack Warring an entire booster box. This is definitely a great way to open your packs that gets just a little bit more fun for your buck.

 

 

Draft Them with Friends

Out of all the suggestions I have made in order to get more value from your packs, this is the one that I love to do the most. Drafting is obviously one of the best ways to use a pack for fun as it is one of the intended uses. You can draft with 4-10 of your friends and this also allows you and your friends to save money. This option also allows you to play one of my favorite formats, Chaos Draft. A Chaos Draft is a draft that is done using packs for all different sets. This creates a completely crazy and unique draft format. Recently, at GP Oakland, my friends and I hosted a Chaos Draft in our hotel room after day one. At most Grand Prix, prizes come in the form of tickets which you can spend at the prize wall on many different packs from various sets. We each got four different packs during the day. Three were mixed in with the draft pile and one was saved for prizes. Some of the packs we had were: Ice Age, Innistrad, Darksteel, Return to Ravnica, and many more. It was a lot of fun.

Just saving one or two packs from each of your events would give you a draft set of packs every few weeks. If a few of your friends did this, there you have it! You can even save packs long-term in case you want to draft them for cheaper down the road. This leaves room for nostalgia drafting without breaking your bank.

 

Open It!

Ok ok…I know this article was supposed to be filled with alternatives to just cracking your packs. That being said, simply opening your pack is still one of the best ways to use it. It is also incredibly fun, (as most of you know). Don’t be afraid of losing value all the time as getting to simply crack a pack is awesome. That time you pull a foil Ulamog will far outweigh the 50 times you may pull something mediocre. We play this game for fun, so crack those packs every once in a while! (Sorry Marshall…)

Bearer-of-the-Heavens-MtG-Art-600x300

Third Category

I personally think “Other” is a boring category name and there were a few more on this list that I could not call valuable or fun. (Editor’s Note: Third Category would make an excellent Indie band name.)

 

Give Them Away

Now some of you may never do this, but I like to think the Magic community is awesome and I just want to share this option.

Let us go back to the example in the beginning. You got two packs for going 2-2. Let’s pretend that your last round opponent was one of the new players at your store who just had an event deck or some cobbled mass of draft cards and he was just there to have fun. You were 1-2 during the last round. He had no wins and just got matched-up due to people dropping. He is here to have fun though and continues to play. You beat him because it is clear he still does not have a great grasp on the game. I have encountered times like this all too often and sometimes, helping them out in a kind way or even giving them one of your prize packs can make them a member of the community for life. It may not be value or fun but I would say that it is very rewarding. Think back when you were just starting out. I am sure you can remember something incredibly nice someone did for you and it made you feel great about the Magic community.

I am not saying give away all of your packs you get, but just remember that a show of kindness every once in a while can be a great thing. Sometimes you can be rewarded back as well. I recently did this and then after the draft we went to go trade. He had some cards I wanted and he gave them to me as a very good deal because I did something nice. I then gave him a ride home because it turned out he lived a few blocks away from where my friends and I were headed. The Magic community is awesome! Let’s help keep it awesome!

 

Flip it or Rip it

This is neither value nor fun for people who are sane. Have you heard of this game yet? If not, good. Don’t look this up and never play it. If you do play it, shame on you! I’ve included it only because it is technically an “option.”

 

I hope this list gave you some ideas on alternatives for your future prize packs. There is no blanket way to use all of them but doing each option (short of Flip it or Rip it, of course) every once in a while should give you more value and fun from your prize packs.

Well Looters, that is all for this time. I hope you enjoyed my suggestions and if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. 

Until then, happy spellcasting!

 

Roy Anderson
@Sockymans on Twitter

comments
Bruce Gray - November 24, 2015

Crack a Pack MTG with Bruce – #30 Battle for Zendikar 3rd

Drowner of Hope

Crack a Pack MTG with Bruce
#30 Battle for Zendikar 3rd

By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

This is going to be the third and final crack a pack that I will be doing for Battle for Zendikar…at least for right now. Having taken a shot at a draft I really got a taste for the format. However, watching better players sink their teeth into the format has helped me solidify some of my thinking around many of the cards. There are so many things going on out there that I would like to try and touch on, so I’m going to do this pack and then take a little break from cracking packs and talk about a few of the other things going on in the Magic community in the weeks to come. So, let’s not waste any more time!

Let’s see what we’ve got this week.

Commons:

 

Uncommons:

 

Rare:

Murk Strider is a pretty reasonable card if you want to play the Ingest/Processor deck or the R/U Devoid deck. However, a 3/2 for four mana is not an outstanding rate and the ability of bouncing a creature is just decent because the set-up cost is quite high. If this was a mana cheaper or a bit bigger this would be a much stronger critter, but it trades with most two drops and is largely replaceable. This would not be anywhere near the first pick and I would expect I can find this pretty easily very late in the pack.

Sludge Crawler is a more relevant threat. 1/1 for 1 is not usually that relevant because unless you land it on turn one they often get blanked by a 2/2 or better. However, this one can scale in the late game to trade more profitably by pumping. The Ingest is also relevant. It is still not a first pick, but I would look at it ahead of the Murk Strider.

Kor Castigator is a pretty relevant ally. A 3/1 for 2 mana is very aggressive and can pay you off handsomely if you are in the ally deck by coming down early and threatening plenty of damage if unchecked. Also, since it is an Ally it also is not a dud in the late game to trigger a pile of Rally triggers. The last piece of text is that it can’t be blocked by Scion tokens which is very relevant in many matchups. I’m still not taking this early because I would expect to find this quite readily later if I am in the Ally deck.

Reckless Cohort is not a first pick by any stretch. It is a reasonable 2 drop and can play a role in the R/W allies deck. However, a 2/2 for 2 and a questionable drawback hardly makes this guy exciting.

Cloud Manta is just a solid reliable flier. Nothing fancy here but it is usually a useful card and you won’t be sad to run it. This and Shadow Glider are just two relevant fliers, sort of like Wind Drake, that decks running Blue or White will gobble up and love to run. Not a first pick mind you, but something that is likely to get snapped up fairly quickly.

Sandstone Bridge is another of the utility lands this set packs and it’s pretty decent. This not a first pick because the land just isn’t good enough but it will often be the pick over many of the other playables because it just offers a little more flexibility. Nice card…but still no.

Tajuru Beastmaster is the first real card we’ve seen in this pack and even at that it likely isn’t a first pick. It’s a big curve topper in an ally deck or a deck looking to leverage the anthem-esque effect of this thing. It is clearly the best card we’ve seen to date in this pack but I would be very displeased if this ended up being first pick.

Demon’s Grasp is bad sorcery speed removal. You don’t really want spells like this if you can help it, but sometimes you need stuff like this. I wouldn’t seriously look at this for a first pick and in this pack many of the other just “playable”cards would win out over this.  Sure, you might take it late, and you might even run it, but you don’t really want to if you can help it.

Skyline Cascade is just like the Sandstone Bridge. Decent card, not a first pick.

Eldrazi Skyspawner is the business. This is just a value creature and there is no other way around it. A 2/1 Flier and a 1/1 scion for three mana is very solid and stacks up with Sandsteppe Outcast or Ghirapur Gearcrafter from some of the other formats we have recently seen. This also goes in just about any deck playing blue and is pure value. Whether I select this over the Beastmaster is debatable, but I think I would be leaning towards this because this is quite a bit cheaper and easier to play, but I would need to really think about it.

Scythe Leopard is a 1 drop that I’d probably rather avoid. It is very good in a Constructed Landfall deck where it can consistently be cast on turn 1, but in Limited this doesn’t match up well in any other situation other than being cast on turn 1. Even with Landfall this gets outclassed by so many other creatures that it is hardly worth the pick.  I like the leopard, but just not if I intend to win.

Grovetender Druids puts me in two colours and with a creature that is good, but not insane. I don’t think the payoff is big enough for me to jump into two colours right away, so I think I’ll pass on this and opt for one of the other cards in the pack.

Cryptic Cruiser is another payoff for ingesting. However, as a first pick I don’t think it makes sense. If you want to go into the Ingest/Processor decks you really ought to start with the Ingest cards and then try to find your payoff instead of grabbing the payoff and then finding the Ingest cards. Not all Ingest creatures are equal and you want to be sure you have some good ones before you start looking for the payoff.

Drowner of Hope looks like it should be the slam dunk pick. Six mana for a 5/5 are solid stats and it makes two 1/1 scions so in essence you are getting 7 power and toughness for your 6 mana. The ability to sacrifice a scion to tap down an opposing creature is also an important ability. However, if you take this you need to ask yourself what sort of deck lends itself to maximizing this sort of creature. At first glance this looks it should fit in a B/U sacrifice sort of deck where this and Zulaport Cutthroat are your big time payoffs. However, how many 1/1 scions are you getting to maximize the ability to tap down your opponent’s team? Blue makes a few and Black has a couple, but you aren’t really getting a ton of them so the idea of sacrificing a bunch of scions and then reaping the benefits as you drain your opponent out is fairly limited. On top of that, B/U usually wants to play the Ingest/Processor game and not token production. Green is the colour that makes a pile of tokens and is the situation where this could be really explosive. Can you imagine sacrificing a pile of tokens, tapping down their whole team and then crashing in for a ton of damage? Sounds appealing to me. But is U/G really a powerful thing? Maybe with the Converge deck, but that can be tricky. Drowner might also want to go in the U/R Devoid deck because that is also a relevant choice. With so many deck options it is hard to pick one solid deck that this goes in, but Drowner plays reasonably well in all of them and it leaves you very open to a number of strategies. Drowner of Hope seems to be big time game and looks like the front runner in this pack.

 

Top 5 Cards

  1. Drowner of Hope
  2. Eldrazi Skyspawner
  3. Sludge Crawler
  4. Tajuru Beastmaster
  5. Cryptic Cruiser

First pick is very handily the Drowner. It is strong all on its own and fits in a wide variety of decks meaning that our options going forward are pretty good. The real question becomes where do we go from there?  There is almost no chance we’ll see the Sky Spawner come back around or the Sludge Crawler but you never know about a few of the other things in this pack. Even things on my top 5 list might make it back around depending on what other decks start to take shape around the table. As a result, it is very difficult to predict what might come back on the wheel and so our next couple of picks will be very important to help get us into a “lane” here and steer our future selections. The nice thing is that Drowner leaves us open and gives us lots of options and very sizeable top end to our curve that can help get us there.

Thanks very much for taking the time to stop in and read. BFZ is proving to be a very complex and difficult draft format. My own limited playing experience is proving to be a bit of an issue, but thank goodness that lots of other, more skilled, players are posting Draft vids all the time so I can see first hand what is getting picked and where.

Next time I’ll be back to brewing and I have a couple of budget decks that I’ve been working on that I’m ready to share with all of you.  So, until next time take care of yourselves and have a great MTG day!

 

By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

@bgray8791 on Twitter

comments
Bruce Gray - November 10, 2015

Crack a Pack MTG with Bruce – #29 Battle for Zendikar 2nd

Ruinous Path

Crack a Pack MTG with Bruce
#29 Battle for Zendikar 2nd

By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

Welcome back folks! Today we are back on the old Crack a Pack plan with an eye towards evaluating a pack of Battle for Zendikar for a draft. Let’s open up the pack and see if there is something interesting in here or if we are going to have a tricky time sorting out our first pick.

Commons:

Uncommons:

Rare:

 

Foil:

Land:

Mind Raker is a serviceable Hill Giant with upside. It passes the vanilla test just barely but I’m not convinced that the ability to discard a card is overly relevant. I get the sense that if you want to play Processors and Ingestors in your deck that you are looking for something better than making them discard a card. Now, if you don’t happen to have a lot of Processor payoffs and you just sort of jam this guy for the body to get the occasional upside of making your opponent discard then you are probably pretty happy with it. I’m not picking this early and I would expect that if I want it late it’ll likely still be there.

Territorial Baloth just does good work. He is a beefy creature, gets bigger with Landfall and can just make a mess of the battlefield quite quickly. This guy plays super well with things like Evolving Wilds, Blighted Woodland and any spell that allows for more than 1 land per turn at Instant speed. As much as I like this guy (and I had him as a 10/10 for a turn at the pre-release) I would expect that we can do better with our first pick and wait and see if we can find one of these later on in the draft.

Roilmage’s Trick looks like a bad card, but I think it actually plays better than it seems. I’m not thrilled about this being a 4 mana instant, but let’s face it most decks in this format will be at least 2 colours making the Converge ability fairly reasonable. Besides they can’t make this effect be too cheap when Hydrolash from Origins (which is very similar) is 3 mana. Many decks I’ve seen can handle a splash for a third and maybe a fourth if you are in Green. That means you are likely shrinking down your opponent’s creatures by at least -2/0. That means that those 3/2’s are only dealing 1 point. Those Grizzly bears ain’t got no teef! Imagine getting -3/0 or even -4/0? Think about the profitable blocks you could set up knowing that damage will be a minimum. I’m not saying go out and mortgage the farm for this one, but I do think that there is something here and it could be a suitable combat trick. If I find myself in Blue and need a mid-round pick I would look at this seriously.

Outnumber is a very solid Instant speed removal spell. My personal inclination is to say that this is perfect in a R/G or R/W strategy. That’s where you can get lots of inexpensive creatures then follow up by casting this to take our their bomb and then stampede through the hole for the win. I don’t have much to quibble with here and I would absolutely be looking at this early and often in this pack.

Snapping Gnarlid is the baby brother to the Baloth, but is much more playable as a two drop. Not a first pick, but most certainly something I’m going to be keeping my eyes open for if I find myself in Green or Green is showing as being open. I like this guy and likely over value him at this point in the format, but good two drops are always important in a draft deck.

Spell Shrivel is still a no. I’m not big on Counters and that hasn’t changed since last week.

Complete Disregard is still a yes. I would pull this to the front of the pack, slightly ahead of Outnumber at this point based on the fact that I would rather play Black than Red in most situations.

Scour from Existence is still m’eh. I’m not picking this early even if it is good catch all removal. Let’s be honest, how many times will I want to get to 7 and then Exile their thing? If I really need this I’m likely already dead. I would take this once my options start to dwindle or I need a sideboard card, otherwise I’m likely to move on.

Tajuru Beastmaster is the curve topper for a Rally/Ally deck. I’m pretty ok with a big body like this and the quasi Anthem effect could be very potent. This wouldn’t be a first pick, but it is a very solid selection.

Turn Against takes Act of Treason to a whole new level. Instant speed makes this potentially back breaking as you steal their creature, block their other creature (presumably killing them both) and you get to reap the benefits. How frequently that this will be that good remains to be seen, but it is appealing. I’m not sure I like the 5 mana needed to cast this, but at least it is only single Red meaning I could splash it or cast it with minimal strain on my mana. I would expect this to be a fairly early pickup around the draft table because the potential ceiling is very high with this one.

Bloodbond Vampire sort of feels like a payoff for the lifegain deck. Sadly she lacks evasion to truly make her devastating. The bigger perk might be that this is an Ally meaning you can trigger Rally yet again. While this could be pretty strong in the right build, it feels like it could be a bit underwhelming unless you can find it some sweet synergies to tag along.

Tide Drifter is the reverse of Ruination Guide in that it pumps your colourless team +0/+1.  That could be relevant and make you more adept at blocking, but that feels like it is a bad tradeoff because now you are inviting a couple of combat tricks to blow you right out. I would be far more inclined to take a Ruination Guide, but in the absence of the Guide this is a decent plan B.

Ruinous Path is a ridiculous bomb here. Sure it is Sorcery speed removal, but it really reads “3 mana make that bad thing go away”. The upside on the Awaken is also not trivial because in the late game this can make a very relevant creature that can shore up the ground game or join in on the beat down. This is very clearly the strongest card in this pack and is an automatic windmill slam.

Rising Miasma seems like it could be a strong card to wipe away an aggressive deck. However, I’m not taking it when I see the Ruinous Path in this pack. It isn’t even the second best Black card in this pack! No, there is little to no chance that I would be keen to pick this up.

 

Top 5 Cards

  1. Ruinous Path
  2. Complete Disregard
  3. Outnumber
  4. Tajuru Beastmaster
  5. Snapping Gnarlid

Ok folks, this is a pretty easy choice. Ruinous Path is the pick and highly incentivizes us to look at Black in order to make the most of this sort of highly efficient, extremely powerful removal spell. When this pack wheels there is almost no chance of seeing the Complete Disregard so we’ll need to look at other things. Bloodbond Vampire or the Mind Raker might be a choice as a reasonable body in Black, or I might have to look at another colour. B/G might be a fair colour combination and we might get either the Beastmaster, the Gnarlid, or the Baloth. That has some promise. The Blue in the pack looks a little underwhelming but B/U is a very strong colour combination if you can find the right pieces. So, I would be prioritizing Black at this point to try and cut off other players from jumping into Black but I would also have an eye towards keeping an open mind and spotting a strong second colour to pair with Black. However, if my next pack has some ridiculous strong card that I can’t ignore then I might need to re-evaluate my plan and try something a little different.

Well, there we have it. A pretty easy first pick Ruinous Path, but lots of options to weigh as we move forward as we try to maximize our deck. I can’t wait to get my next taste of the draft format because it seems to be so wide open and synergy based that it is fun, refreshing, and always challenging.

Thanks for taking the time to stop in and have a read and as always, have yourself a great MTG day!

 

By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

@bgray8791 on Twitter

comments
Bruce Gray - November 3, 2015

Crack a Pack MTG with Bruce – #28 Battle for Zendikar 1st

Ob Nixilis

Crack a Pack MTG with Bruce
#28 Battle for Zendikar 1st

By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

Hi folks! Today is pretty exciting because this will be my first Crack a Pack for Battle for Zendikar. With a new Limited format taking shape this is the perfect time to open up a pack and go through card by card to establish what you might take in a draft, if this was your first pack.

I have to say, on the whole, Battle for Zendikar feels very nuanced compared to some of the previous sets. Origins had very clear “good” cards and “bad”cards and even Dragons of Tarkir was fairly obvious. Battle for Zendikar feels much more subtle and it has a lot more conditions for the cards to be good, but once they are good your deck becomes pretty solid. The real danger comes if you aren’t able to grab enough of or the right synergy pieces then your idea starts to fall apart. Your first couple of picks become so crucial to provide you with strong playables, but be certain keep your eyes open to the synergy pieces that are passed to you. With all that in mind, let’s open up the pack and see what we find today!

Commons:

Uncommons:

Rare:

Foil:

Land:

Giant Mantis is just a solid playable card. It is just a Giant Spider and is nothing fancy. There is no way this is an early pick and will only make your deck for curve consideration reasons. That said, it is a useful card and when you need it you are always thankful it’s in your deck.

Anticipate is one of those cards that always sounds really good, but in a draft deck is often a card that under performs. It just doesn’t impact the board and eats up a valuable card slot. Yes, it is an  instant and can help smooth out your draw, but the cost of playing this over something else is real. I’m not a big buyer of this in Limited.

Kozilek’s Sentinel is a more interesting card because as a 1/4 for two mana this is an excellent blocker. The fact that this could gain an extra point of power (or two) is just extra gravy because it costs you nothing extra. This may not be an early pick, but don’t overlook this if you are in red because if you wait too long it’ll be gone.

Inspired Charge is not an early pick. This gets picked up if, you are in a token strategy and can use it something akin to an Overrun effect. I’ll pass on this early because it’ll probably be there late if I am the deck that wants this.

Scour from Existence is a fine card to deal with just about anything and fits in every deck. The exile is nice because a processor card could use the card exiled as fuel for a bit of a bonus too. Sadly, it’s 7 mana. I’m not in on this early, but if I see one later on I might be inclined to pick one of these.

Grave Birthing is something I’m interested in. Not first pick, but interested in. I feel like it starts to help enable you to to play the Eldrazi processor cards as a payoff without skewing your deck to ingest cards. The surprise blocker could also be real. Don’t get the wrong idea, this is a card that has marginal upside and some modest synergy, but I am interested and if I start to see myself taking some processor type cards then I might be more inclined to grab this sort of reasonable enabler.

Broodhunter Wurm is Green’s Summit Prowler-esque card.  He’s a very playable 4/3 vanilla creature and will make your deck regularly enough if you want it.  I’m not crazy about it, but I recognize this sort of card has definite value. I would be passing this and hoping to see if I can find one later on to fill out my curve.

Spell Shrivel is a counter spell. I’m not really big on counter magic in Limited decks and this is no exception. I’m going to say initially that this is a no but perhaps in a few weeks, after we’ve seen how the format shakes out a little more, I might be inclined to take this a little more highly. We shall see.

Here is the first REAL card I would look at. Complete Disregard is a very good spell. It is reasonably costed, Instant speed removal that even synergizes with Eldrazi processors. This is EXACTLY the sort of card I would consider taking first. The only downside is that it is a little on the conditional side of things with getting things with power 3 or less, but I think that is a reasonable drawback and something that I can work around. This parallels with Reave Soul from Magic Origins very nicely which was a very good common to pick up and I expect Complete Disregard to be similar.

Roil’s Retribution is a very powerful card. Yes, it is 5 mana, but this is similar in many ways to Pyrotechnics that we just got to play with in Fate Reforged. It is Instant speed and almost ensures that you can get a 2 or a 3 for one out of this spell. It is somewhat less flexible because you can’t target your opponent directly to burn them out and you can get punished pretty heavily if your opponent can play around it and make you leave up 5 mana on your turn to avoid getting blown out by it. I feel like those are manageable risks and not a reason to avoid this card. This one would be pulled to the front along with the Complete Disregard.

Ruination Guide looks pretty spicy. If you can get the Eldrazi Scion token swarm deck online this could be just a horrific beating. However, there is a pretty high set up cost to make this really good. I would rather to make sure I had a few other Devoid/Eldrazi cards in my pile first before I go for this guy. This would still be a fairly early pick, but not a first pick until I saw where I was with my deck.

Slab Hammer is a very solid artifact for an aggressive Landfall deck because you get to replay your lands for yet MORE Landfall triggers AND you get the bonus from this. I’m still not picking it highly. This might make my deck as a 22nd or 23rd card, but I can’t see myself prioritizing this too frequently.

Sunken Hollow is a pricey high-end rare that really only pulls its weight in Constructed. The real question is this: do you pass the expensive rare land and take a better playable or do you just rare draft the value? If this is in paper, I’m totally taking the land. If this is on MTGO, I’ll take the playable instead because this will most likely only be worth about half a ticket and not impactful for the deck most of the time.

Fertile Thicket as a foil sure looks pretty. Definitely not a first pick, but it sure is very pretty.

Can you believe the Swamp might be a consideration in this set? With full art basics being a real thing you might actually give this some consideration. I might question your sanity…but hey…maybe you’re a collector? I’m not really. This would be left for near the end of the pack.

 

Top 5 picks

  1. Sunken Hollow*
  2. Roil’s Retribution*
  3. Complete Disregard
  4. Ruination Guide
  5. Kozilek’s Sentinel

First Pick: If this is a draft in paper and I get a shot at a Sunken Hollow then I’m totally grabbing it. I love non-basic lands and go to great lengths to pick up as many as I can. Furthermore, the raw monetary value from this one card makes this very appealing and not something to be passed. Now, if this is an online draft the relative value of Sunken Hollow is minute compared to the paper version. I am also incentivized to win more with more/better prizes, so I would pass on the land and look to be picking up a playable card for my deck. I’ve made the mistake of taking the fancy land online and have no intention of repeating it. No, online I would most certainly be looking at the removal spells first. I think in this pack I would be starting off with the Roil’s Retribution even if it is a little on the expensive side.

This was a very interesting pack because of the presence of the rare land in the pack. The value represented in real life vs the online desire to win is very interesting and a key feature to keep in mind. However, I feel like the Roil’s Retribution is likely the BEST card choice if you are intent on trying to win and not value draft.

Thanks for taking to time to stop in and have read. Next week I’ll have another pack of Battle for Zendikar and we’ll see how things continue to change following the Pro-Tour & Grand Prix, SCGs and more heavy online exposure. But until then, have a great MTG day!

 

By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

@bgray8791 on Twitter

comments
Bruce Gray - October 26, 2015

Crack a Pack MTG with Bruce – #27 DTK Art Draft

Dragon Whisperer

Crack a Pack MTG with Bruce
#27 DTK Art Draft

By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

Hi everyone and welcome back to Casual Encounters. Today I am going to do something that I haven’t done in a little while. I have fairly regularly cracked a pack and gone through what I would be looking at if I were starting a draft, but today I’m going to crack that pack and look at for the ART. I call it my Art Draft and today I’ll be busting open a pack of Dragons of Tarkir. Let’s not waste any time, let’s get down to business and see what is in the pack!

Commons:

Uncommons:

Rare:

Have you ever really looked at the art on Qarsi Sadist? Have you? It is pretty amazing art on a card that is very marginal. The act of sacrificing the man on the altar is pretty detailed, but it is the masks of the guys pinning him down that are pretty chilling. These would be the type of ornate masks I would expect to find right out of some horror movie and are frightening while beautiful. However, look closer. Who’s is that in the background?  Yeah, that is Silumgar. I don’t think I’ve ever actually noticed because my eyes get pulled to the masks in gold and the white shroud on the victim, but therehe is lurking in the background. That’s crazy neat. I may not be a big fan of the card, but I’m on board when it comes to this card in terms of art.

Sabretooth Outrider is a fine piece of art where the art is essentially exactly what you were expecting. You get a big cat, plenty off red on account of the colour of the card and generally a pretty predictable card. Heck, I can even account for the first strike because of the lances they are carrying. This is just fine on a card that is also just fine, but no one is getting excited. The white in the background is kind of whitewashing the whole piece, the art is reasonably predictable, and nothing remarkable really stands out. This is just fine, but nothing more.

Champion of Arashin is a little more interesting. The hound in the foreground is very interesting and highly detailed if you look at the armor he’s wearing. The background is also pretty interesting with the other hounds joining the battle as well. However, the real winner here is the fact that they sneak Dromoka into the background breathing a big gout of flame. This is more my style.

Atarka Beastbreaker looks pretty bland to me. Sure, he’s pretty jacked but that is hardly noteworthy. The colors and contrasts are once again kind of washed out and there really isn’t much happening. By comparison, the Champion of Arashin is on the midst of a battle, while this guy is coming home dragging supper behind him. This really isn’t anything super cool even if the card is a fine little card for a draft deck.

Mystic Meditation offers us far more in terms of visual eye candy. The colors are a little sharper and the detail feels like it is just a notch above what we’ve seen done in the other cards. Look at the dragons above the figure in the center and tell me those aren’t detailed portrayals of dragons. The gold steamers coming down from the ceiling look to be floating, further capturing the moment that looks like “mystic meditation” so that the art truly matches the card. I think the aspect that really pulls me into this card is the quote from Narset in the flavor text. I’m a huge fan of this fairly simple card draw spell because the art totally appeals to me.

Butcher’s Glee is one of my favorite combat tricks in the set and art is almost as good. That little goblin just looks so funny coming lunging at you brandishing that huge machete. The big toothy smile says all I need to know about this goblin and what it is feeling. I also really like that the action shot is up close. The close up perspective adds an emotional dimension that reinforces the panic for the card, much like you might feel if you are the one trying to cast this. You don’t want to have this spell fizzle so the sense of panic is real. The flavor text is also pretty neat as we get to know a little bit more about the the little goblin Kneecleaver. I’m just a fan on the whole and feel like the emotion in the card art matches the emotions I feel as I play the card.

Ojutai Interceptor is one of those card that had me excited when the set dropped because I like the art, but I’m less thrilled with it now. Sure, the morph like cloud behind the bird is pretty cool looking but there really isn’t much else to look at. There is a monastery appearing faintly in the background, but even that can not save this card. The bird in the foreground just doesn’t look like much because even the colors are a little muted. Sadly, this one has slipped down my list of card art preference and is much lower than it was a few months ago.

Herald of Dromoka has a lot more of what I like. The foreground is a highly detailed character in mid action which is a good start. The background is very interesting as well with a pile of soldiers leaving the temple on the left hand side of the card frame. They are clearly in a rush because the fortress is under assault. The right hand side of the card frame is a huge Dragon trying to bbq the fortress. My only real complaint with this card is the horn. It just looks so ridiculous right there in the middle of the card. I think the piece of art would have been more powerful with a different horn, but they were looking for a common thread to tie this to the Abzan from Khans of Tarkir. However, I still feel like it looks a little silly and detracts from the rest of the cool art.

Segmented Krotiq is a pretty gross looking centipede but it’s the sheer size of that thing is what’s so neat. Underneath the Krotiq is a monastery of sorts and it is absolutely dwarfed by the size of this gigantic creepy crawley. While I appreciate the proportions of the bug, I’m not hugely enamoured by the art and wouldn’t be putting this super high on my list.

Tail Slash is one of my favorite removal spells from the set but I can’t say the same for the art. The portrayal of the dragon doesn’t seem to match with the images we’ve seen elsewhere in the set. It feels like this has been pulled out of a book on dinosaurs because it looks like a brontosaurus with wings rather than an honest to goodness dragon. Apparently this dragon also got a 2-for-1 out this deal based on the two guys being launched in nearly identical positions. No, I can’t get behind this art even if the spell is very solid removal.

Echoes of the Kin Tree looks like it is a poster for the Hobbit. The relative positioning of the figures in the foreground look like they have been taken right out a movie. Their uniforms are dull to start with and dulled further as our eyes are pulled to the ghostly figure in the background. The art does a good job of conveying the significance of the card because it becomes clear that spirits are supporting the living warriors of the Dromoka brood. The best part for me is the flavour text about the human warriors maintaining their tradition of worshiping the Kin Tree despite Anafenza being executed. This card is reasonable and the art is pretty, but the positioning of the characters on the card feels very cliche.

Dromoka’s Gift is much cooler. I think what appeals to me is the vantage point as you look up, past the soldier being rewarded, up at the face of Dromoka. This feels like the moment is pretty momentous and should be something to take note of. Sadly, the card itself doesn’t match the grandiose art, but we aren’t here to quibble about spells are we. Based solely on the art, this is something that I like and enjoy seeing. If only the spell itself was slightly better.

Self-Inflicted Wound is a grisly card if I’ve ever seen one. Our eyes are drawn to the man in the foreground and the anguish he is experiencing as he fights against himself to try and prevent harm. However, what is interesting is the combination of the corpse in the lower right of the card frame in purple mist and the pair of matching purple cloaked wraiths in the background in the top left. This man clearly has no hope and The Reaper is clearly coming for him. This is chilling and grisly art to say the least and something that is interesting to examine more closely.

Clone Legion is pretty cool simply because of the mirror factor that has matching forces on each side. This feels like a flavor success in the truest sense of the word because the art and name show almost exactly what the card says it does. When art, name and card all match life for the players is made easy and things make sense. When either the card art or the name don’t match, players get confused. Don’t believe me? Check out a card like Tormented Soul or Orchard Spirit which clearly floats because it is a spirit or wraith. It can’t be blocked except by a creature with flying. However, they themselves don’t fly. That’s something that newer players don’t always remember because both of them LOOK like they should be flying. Well, Clone Legion is a win because if you look at the name and look at the art you can get a really good sense for what the card does.

 

Top 5 picks

  1. Clone Legion
  2. Self Inflicted Wound
  3. Butcher’s Glee
  4. Mystic Meditation
  5. Qarsi Sadist

My first pick is going to be the creepy art on Qarsi Sadist.  The detail in the masks and the fact that Silumgar is lurking in the background pushes this over the top for me in this pack.  This wasn’t the best art pack I’ve ever opened, but there certainly were some pretty reasonable choices.  I always like looking at the art on these cards and this was fun today.

Thanks for stopping in to have a read!  Have yourself a great MTG day!

 

By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

@bgray8791 on Twitter

Categories

Browse by Author

Anthony Barbieri
Casandra Laneve
Dan Erickson
Daniel Clayton
Gerald Knight
Jonathan
Joshua Olsen
Kyle A Massa
Marc Olivier Plante
Norman Fried
Roy Anderson
Samuel Carrier
tdranov
thebagofloot
facebook like box Widget Not Active

Shop our store!

Shop our store!