Welcome back to the Epic Experiment!
Boy, oh boy, does it feel good to be back at it after a month off. Off from the podcast and only submitted a single article in order to work as a director of a summer camp north of Mont Tremblant in Quebec. However, summer camp has come and gone. Now, rotation approaches.
Today, I thought I would share with you some of what the experience was working at the camp, from a Magic: The Gathering stand point.
In 2018, I was working up at this same summer camp when some of the counsellors expressed a lack of interesting things to do after hours. I suggested that we play some Magic. At the time, many of the staff didn’t own a collection but were willing to buy cards in order to learn how to play.
Well, summer 2021 arrived and I suggested a similar setup, in no small measure because the staff were completely isolated from the rest of the world due to COVID protocols. In previous summers, staff could go to the local village and grab a snack after hours, hit the grocery store to buy some toiletries, or make use of the local services (like the golf course) on a day off. However, 2021 and COVID denied the staff these simple diversions. So, they were looking for something to do after hours and playing some Magic seemed like an excellent option.
Eight counsellors opted in and we ordered a smattering of Zendikar Rising, Kaldheim, and Strixhaven. Three Kings Loot was also generous enough to provide some extra goodies in the delivery to help bring some extra smiles to the faces of the counsellors. The guys were all very excited and as soon as I passed out the boxes the guys got to work. Everyone loves the smell of fresh booster packs.
The rules were simple. Build a Limited deck from the cards in your pool, however I did allow guys to trade cards between pools. I figured since we were playing for fun… why not. But they couldn’t add anything from their regular collections.
The trading was almost as much fun as playing the games and the guys got right into it. The result was there was a very interesting deck from one of the players where they played every version of Heated Debate and Curate he could get his hands on. We had another player go to great lengths to trade for Landfall parts and to build a pretty formidable Green/White Landfall deck. I believe the competitiveness of the decks were marginally changed by the acts of trading and that the games still remained fun and interactive.
Another point worth mentioning is the absurd power level spike that the Mystical Archive cards held in Strixhaven. The fact that we could open things like Mizzix’s Mastery or Natural Order in your pool was cool, but also kind of scary. Seeing a T4 Beledros was pretty scary and was totally unexpected. I think, going forward, such re-prints need to be handled carefully because they do create a very tangible power increase and are challenging to balance in the Limited format. However, they still made the games fun and spicy, so I didn’t mind particularly.
Playing the Limited format also gave us a chance to see a few of the cards in action and gauge how useful they might be if we ported them to Commander. In our group, a Shadrix Silverquill, a Galazeth Prismari, and a Beledros Witherbloom were all opened and were bombs. But we knew that. However, there were some excellent cards that were able to see the light of day. Let’s have a check.
- Blex, Vexing Pest – This looks pretty tame because the front is pretty meh. However, I found that playing the Search for Blex was outstanding and potentially very back breaking. Yes, the amount of life lost was tremendous, but in a Commander deck where your life total is much more forgiving, it could be excellent. Heck, in a 20 life format, it was crazy good despite the life loss. Having this be a 5 for 1 was ridiculous in Limited, so why not in Commander?
- Wandering Archaic – We knew this was good, but playing it in Limited further reinforced this. Watching a player attack into a board state with a Wandering Archaic, try to cast a pump spell to win the combat, only to have the opponent reverse it was a pretty rough thing to watch. But it happened all the time and further reinforced the value of a Wandering Archaic. This is well worth the price, whatever you pay.
- Natural Order – We all knew this was good, but the fact that this card was even available in the Mystical Archive slot of Strixhaven is pretty ridiculous. This resulted in many T4 Beledros’ and the outcome was a foregone conclusion. While on the whole, the actual Strixhaven cards were very medium in terms of power, the Mystical Archive cards introduced a very high rate of variability and power.
I would like to once again thank Three Kings Loot for so generously supporting our little Magic: The Gathering sealed league this summer. I made the staff members involved very excited and happy to spend time together. Many of the guys hadn’t been friends prior to the league, and over the course of the three weeks of August session, they became close friends. I provided hours of entertainment and was well worth the small investment made by the staff. Thank you very much and the staff can’t wait for summer 2022 to reprise the league and make some more memories.
Well, there we are folks. We had a load of fun this summer up, and hopefully we can make this a yearly tradition. If you want to hear more about my thoughts on Commander picks or any other Commander related topic, please check out our weekly podcast on iTunes, Google Podcast, Spotify, Amazon, and anywhere else you find better podcasts. Just look for the name The Epic Experiment Podcast! We’d love to have you join us!
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