TWR: Commander Legends Spoiled

With 2020 being labelled “the year of Commander,” we’ve seen a ton of new options for the format at many steps along the way. We had the official Commander 2020 releases earlier in the year at the same time as Ikoria (which also added some spice to the format), there were new commander decks released with Zendikar Rising, and finally we have arrived at the first-ever draftable booster product dedicated to EDH:

An exciting time, indeed. This product comes with a number of layers as well, which has become par for the course with recent releases. There’s the “standard” booster box, which contains packs of 20 cards with two guaranteed legendary creatures per pack, also notably zero basic land cards. Then there’s the “collector” booster, which contains less packs, costs more money, but comes with a ton of foils (including 3 guaranteed “etched” foils which are a new thing in the set), full-art renditions, and otherwise “premium” cards. Lastly, there were two additional commander precons which follow the same formula as those released with Zendikar Rising. Each contains a new legendary creature which is the face card, and two additional new cards designed specifically for the product, along with a bunch of reprints. The value isn’t really there with these two, while those from Zendikar Rising actually had some valuable reprints. I didn’t buy those, and have no intention on buying these, but let’s take a look anyway.

New Commander Precons:

Reap The Tide:

The first deck was criticized for having a commander that does the same exact thing an existing commander does, while simultaneously being the same color pairing and being more expensive to cast. This is also a mythic rarity, while Tatyova was uncommon and is ultimately better overall. The new cards aren’t great either. The hydra allows you to potentially pump up a commander, but unless it’s an animar deck, this probably isn’t doing a whole lot for you. The kraken on the other had is decent removal, as it has a landfall trigger that goads opponent’s creatures. However, it costs 7 CMC and that’s just too slow. It’s also not an “I win” card so it’s probably not worth your time.

Arm For Battle:

The second precon isn’t exactly exciting either, but I do like the commander better. Boros has had a bunch of commanders that care about equipment, and this guy does the thing in a different way. He’s obviously bred for a voltron strategy, but you can just incidentally included him in an Akiri, Fearless Voyager deck and draw two cards off of a single equipment attached to him due to her ability. He also innately has trample, so beefing him up is in your best interest to clear a path. The new cards are slightly better here too, with the enchantment being decent protection for your commander at instant speed, and the equipment being alright as well. It’s not a huge buff, but it does have a low CMC. It also has a Brash Taunter effect tacked on, so it ends up being pseudo-evasion or a weaker double-strike.

Important Reprints:

Moving on, we have some important reprints that in many cases haven’t seen one in years. Scroll rack, Vampiric Tutor, Staff of Domination, Rings of Brighthearth and Fyndhorn Elves have all been lacking reprints, with the Elves going all the way back to Ice Age! Despite that, the Elves haven’t been expensive to purchase, but seeing them thrown in the common slot means you should get enough of them to fill out your mana dork packages nicely. The others I’ve mentioned here have all crept up in price, so the reprints should bring them back down to reasonable levels. Others have seen reprints but are still expensive — I’m looking at you Mana Drain. Swords to Plowshares gets its first new artwork in many years, and though Generous Gift is only a couple of years old, it’s a white staple and needs to see more play.

Partners:

Next we’re going to take a look at the new partners in the set, and I’ve broken them down into their rarities.

Mythic:

The mythic partners are probably the best in the set (outside of those super sweet etched foils of the original partner commanders — damn I want a Tymna and a Thrasios). Honestly though the only one that really speaks to me is Sakashima. His prior iteration was pretty good as it is, but getting the ability to copy legends and not have the legend rule apply is super spicy. I’m probably going to find a way to use him at some point, but for now I’m waiting til my box arrives to see what I pull. I have seen the new Akroma in action on Game Knights and it was pretty spicy but I just don’t really see it being all that reliable in realistic pods. The planeswalkers here are pretty lame. I do like Kamahl, but only because I have a mono-green stompy deck that would really like to slam him down and get the buffs on every combat.

Rare:

In the rare slot, there’s more of the same. Kodama of the East Tree will likely see some play, and I expect there to be some coin flip decks running Krark. But otherwise I’m not impressed by any of these, nor do I see myself using any of them.

Uncommon:

To be honest, there’s not a lot here either in the uncommon slot. I think these were all mostly created for the draft experience, and though I’m getting a box of the set, I don’t really fancy drafting. I’ve done it a few times and it was never that great of an experience. I prefer limited sealed like you do at pre-release, but oftentimes you just get hosed by the guy who got all the god packs. I’m aware that drafting takes a “certain set of skills” but it’s really just not for me. I’m sure we’ll see some of these floating around but I don’t really see anything I’m very excited about when it comes to partners overall.

New Legendaries:

Outside of the partners, there are still quite a few normal legendary creatures, and they are all multi-colored. It was refreshing to get more multi-colored commanders after initial spoilers looked like we might be getting a bunch of mono-colored stuff like we did with the partners. The real benefit of new partners means that new combinations can be made with the old ones, and in that sense they’re cool, but I really like some traditional 2-3 colored commanders and there are a few here that are worth taking a look at. Of most interest in the community is Obeka, Brute Chronologist, and I must admit I am fairly interested in building my first Grixis deck in high, but have not yet decided for sure if I will. She combos well with the red extra turn spells, which are cheaply costed but come with the downside of losing the game on the next turn. Obeka’s ability stops that lose the game trigger from happening, and as such can take infinite turns quite readily, but she still dies to removal and that can still lose you the game. Archelos, Lagoon Mystic is also turning heads because he has some built in stax effects in good colors for the strategy, but I’m betting most casuals are excited to finally have a legendary turtle for their tribal deck. For me personally, I’m interested in the the Abomination of Llanowar, a literal “elfball” along with Liesa, Shroud of Dusk as a potential Angel tribal build, something I’ve been attempting for a long time but haven’t ever had much success with. Also probably a good place to slot in that new Akroma.

My Chase Cards:

Finally, we get to what I’m really into. And these are the cards that I’m hoping to pull from my box. Jeweled Lotus, Opposition Agent and Hullbreacher are probably the most powerful and desired cards from the set. While these cards will see play in casual pods, I think their true viability comes in high to cEDH level games. Jeweled Lotus can power out mono or two colored commanders quite quickly, and though it’s limited in its use I can’t see a reason not to run it unless your commander is 4+ colors. Opposition Agent literally steals your opponent’s tutor, but you grab their best card from their deck. Then, while its on the table if anyone is dumb enough to tutor you’ll get to do this again. At that point it’s more of a stax piece, but it’s still an amazing card. Ditto Hullbreacher. The Smothering Tithe effect in Blue (did blue even need this??) is amazing, but it’s also similar to a Notion Thief. Creating treasures on opponent’s card draw is good enough, but this guy also just straight up shuts off the draw and gives you treasures. Another amazing stax piece, further fueling the mid-range disruptive meta we’ve been seeing as of late. Otherwise I want the etched voil versions of the above cards (but would be happy with the OG partners as well). Yuriko doesn’t have any alternative art, and though her and my Derevi are both already foil, I really like the new look of these. Ditto that on Zur, with which I ran the original art, then finally splurged to get the judge promo foil artwork, and now it’s even cooler with the etching. There are of course many other cards and reprints in the set that I didn’t discuss here, but these were the major talking points for the set. I was lucky enough to get a box pre-ordered for me for my birthday which recently passed, and the set officially released today so I will be receiving that in the mail soon enough. I can’t wait to slot in some new cards!

Two Months Later…

So. Yeah. It’s been almost two months since my last post. I honestly don’t know where my motivation to write went, and over the first few weeks of my time away, I wasn’t even really thinking about it. That nagging feeling that I have things to say and should write them down has come back around over the last week or so, and though it doesn’t really matter to many, I think it does help my mental state to jot things down, however irrelevant it may be.

Life changes happened a while back. I was let go from one job, and then started another. It included a pay raise, so that’s nice, but it’s also a more strenuous position so I have had less energy to devote to hobbies. I’m also back among the living, in that I no longer work a night shift, and instead work a normal 9-5 with Fridays and Saturdays off. This is a boon to my sleep patterns, but has adjusted my free time. Previously I was able to come home from work, and outside of adult responsibilities, I had the time to blog and watch YouTube and play Magic and play video games. Later I’d do dinner and then head off to bed before getting up early in the morning to work. Being on a new schedule is nice as I get more time at home with the family where I’m actually awake, but I also no longer have the same days off nor does my time off line up with the playgroup and other friends I used to spend my free time with.

As such, my typical work day ends at about 6:30 when I get home, and I usually just hang out before bed. I’ve watched more TV and YouTube than anything, but have played some games here and there. I almost solely play MTG on my days off, as it’s the only time players I know are around. Most of the guys I’ve played with throughout the course of this year are either east coast US or in Europe so they’re off to bed by the time I could play during the week. I suppose I could play with randoms, but I do prefer playing with at least one friend when I get the chance.

So this isn’t to say that I’ve haven’t had things to say, it’s definitely been more of a lack of motivation to sit down and do this. The last post I wrote was about MTG and the first one I want to post beyond this is about spoilers for the next set. I’ve brewed and played a bunch of new decks that I’d like to share as well. I’ve also been playing Apex Legends semi-regularly again, and have some commentary about a bunch of games I haven’t talked about here on the blog. I’m not sure how fast I’ll get around to these things, and honestly I’m not going to put any pressure on myself to do it. I don’t want to get to a point where this feels like work again, I’d prefer to keep it cathartic.

I’m working on a post for Commander Legends, which has been fully spoiled and I have thoughts. I have a bunch of drafts I’m going to try and clean up, as they are still sort of relevant. Also, I should note that I won’t be bothering with my football column this year as it’s already halfway through the season. Anyway, I’ll be back soon with stuff. Hello to those of you still around!

TWR: Zendikar Rising Spoilers

It’s September already, and with that comes the major fall expansion for Magic: The Gathering. This time around it’s a return to Zendikar, and with Zendikar Rising‘s release coming later this month, I thought I’d take a look at the spoilers and share some of the new cards with you. I formatted this post a little differently in that I’ve highlighted some features of the set, and then otherwise just lumped mythics and rares into categories rather than splitting things up by color. I didn’t bother with uncommons and below, mainly because there wasn’t much of interest there for me, and I’ve only highlighted the mythics/rares that I found to be the most interesting. Lists of the entire set can be found in a multitude of places if you’re interested in looking.

So this is another set that doesn’t have just one “buy-a-box promo,” instead it has a series of box-toppers. That is likely to be the new method going forward, as we haven’t seen a singular promo card for a while now. The proliferation of the collector booster and now with the inclusion of “set boosters” along with the whole draft booster boxes that are what we would consider “normal” seems to be the new norm. It’s confusing for sure, but what I can tell you is this: Draft booster boxes are the standard box buying experience. You’ll get one or two box toppers depending on which option you select. Otherwise you can expect 36 packs of normal and borderless/showcase cards (which is now the norm for sets as well). The Set booster is new with Zendikar Rising but doesn’t change a whole lot. I believe it’s less packs per box, yet there is a slot in each pack that *can* contain a randomly selected card from “the list.” That list is 300 or so cards not part of the normal set, but essentially reprints that could be worth something, or could be lame (like a wayfarer’s bauble). Then there’s collector’s boosters, of which a box contains somewhere in the ballpark of 20 packs. Each pack has more rare slots and foils, also can contain the box toppers, and you’ll get box toppers with the purchase. So basically, if you want to approach this as a normal set, you can ignore all of this and buy a draft booster box. If you want to increase your odds of getting more box toppers or other “cool” cards you can try your luck with the other stuff.

New Commander Decks:

Another new part of this set is the two commander precons that are releasing alongside the standard set. We’ve known this was happening, but were unsure of how it would come about. Now we have some extra details. Both of the decklists can be seen in full here. There are 3 new cards per deck, one of which is the face-card commander in foil. The other two are exclusive to this product, but nothing amazing is coming from it. This means there are a lot more reprints though, which could up the value. Current pricing suggests the lists are worth between $80-100, but we aren’t sure what they’ll sell for. The community seems to think that they’ll be priced lower than traditional commander decks, but we shall see. From what I’ve gathered, there isn’t a lot here to make me want to pick up the decks, but for some it will be a boost to their collections.

Sneak Attack:

The first deck is called Sneak Attack and is a rogue tribal deck. This is actually the first real commander that cares about rogues, and there are quite a few good rogues throughout Magic’s history, most of which are already included in the deck. It looks pretty solid, and could be tweaked to be a mill focused deck as well, if you chose to go that way. The new cards aren’t great but they fit in with the deck.

Land’s Wrath:

Land’s Wrath is the other precon, and it does less for me. I’m not really into naya, I don’t like making lands into creatures, and the new cards are kind of meh. Check out the list for yourself to see if it’s for you.

Box Toppers:

So WotC announced earlier in the year that they would be reprinting fetch lands. Everyone thought the logical place for that was in either Double Masters or Commander Legends, but then they released the list of box toppers, and there ya go. As I explained earlier, you’ll get 1-2 of these cards with a purchase of a box, and then have extra chances at finding them in collector boosters. However, we have like 4 different cycles of lands and a smattering of singular ones so you might not even get a fetch at all. Seems like a lackluster way of reprinting some of the most in-demand cards in the whole game, but I have to admit I REALLY like the artwork for these.

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Mythics:

And now onto the better cards in the set. Overall I’m not very hyped for any of these cads, although there are a few I can see as easy additions to some of my decks. There are also a few new legendary creatures that could be fun to build around, but nothing on the hyper competitive side from what I can see.

About the only card legendary card that will likely see play in more competitive formats is the new Tazri, which basically does similar things to old Tazri, and can probably continue on as one of the higher tier generals. I like red creatures here for easy extra combats and mana, while the Ancient Greenwarden is a Crucible of Worlds and a doubler on landfall triggers. The black demon is pretty spicy too, as for only 2 mana you can greatly speed up the game.

Rares:

I’m really into this new Akiri, and also the new cleric, Orah. Akiri gives much needed card draw in Boros, and as I already run an equipment based deck in Jeskai, this one will slot right in. Extra card draw in those colors is always wanted. Orah is screaming to be made into cleric tribal, and I’ve actually brewed a few lists in Orzhov that featured a bunch of clerics, so I think this needs to happen. It’s likely that an aristocrats strategy will be employed, as you can use Teysa Karlov and sacrifice outlets to create loops with this commander. Start off with a high cmc cleric that dies, and then return another lesser CMC cleric to the battlefield. Rinse and repeat, then use something else that returns the high cmc cleric and bob’s your uncle. I think there can be some exploitative ways to build the deck. Some of the other cards here are interesting too, but those two speak to me the most.

And that’s about all I have for today. Happy pack-cracking when the time comes!

Quick Look: Fall Guys

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout was a title that came out of nowhere for me. I honestly probably wouldn’t have looked twice at it, were it not for being part of the Playstation Plus free games this month. It was also a new release, which is the first time we’ve gotten a brand new game via the service for quite some time. Regardless, I typically try out most of the free games and 9 times out of 10 I’m done with them after a quick look. However, this game has a bit of staying power, in that I’ve played it several times over the month, even getting a few rounds in with my son.

Fall Guys sits in a weird place. It’s a multiplayer elimination style game, which mostly reminds me of Ninja Warrior or Wipeout which were obstacle courses that people would attempt to get through, and those that did make it through would then be judged based on their time — fastest gets first place. In this game, it’s the same sort of principle, however you play to be the last man standing, and individual rounds are timed or have a maximum amount of people who can qualify. If you run out of time during one of the team games, and your team has the worst score, then you’re out. If you fail to qualify before the set number of people do, then you’re out. There are various rounds and types of courses that you’ll experience, each picked at random. The overall collection of rounds is called a “show” and after each game you’ll get placed on a leader board where those eliminated will be popped off. I believe there are a total of five rounds, but I have yet to make it past a fourth.

As you can see, the game utilizes “cute” graphics and 90’s pastels and neons. Generally speaking it’s not really about the graphics, but I suppose keeping it light and fluffy was the way to go, as hyper realism probably would take away from its charm. Really though it’s a physics based game where falling down happens a lot, due to people running and/or jumping into you. You can grab other players too in order to get ahead or try and push them off of edges. Anything goes with these dastardly dudes.

I’m not exactly sure how many actual courses/events there are, but I’ve seen quite a few of them. Some of my favorites just involve running through the gambit, but I also enjoy the spinning platforms and the tiles that disappear from under you, where you’re constantly jumping from square to square like Q-Bert. I’m really not partial to the team based ones, where you’ll play soccer, try to hold onto your tails, or try to keep balls in your quadrant. Depending on a team and then losing sucks.

In between games you’ll earn rewards, the purple stuff being an in-game currency and the pink stuff being your experience. As you level up you’ll unlock color palettes and skins for your character, and you can also buy other bits and bobs from the in-game store. It does not appear that there are any sort of micro transactions, so that’s a plus. The skins and colors are all pretty basic though, so I assume at some point more will be added in or perhaps there will be some reasonably priced DLC. Honestly I don’t see much of a point in the customization but that’s the world we live in these days.

That’s really all there is to say about the game. If you have Playstation Plus you should grab it up for free while you can. If nothing else it can be a fun little romp for your friends, but I doubt it will have a long term lifespan for many.

TWR: Commander Collection Green

The year only has a few months left in it, but that’s enough time for Wizards of the Coast to squeeze in a ton of products — some we’ve known about for a while, like Commander Legends and some that were announced but little else was revealed. Today we’re able to advance our knowledge of one of these products a bit further. Introducing Commander Collection: Green.

A product that I feel most closely resembles the Signature Spellbook series, the Commander Collection series will assuredly provide needed reprints and fancy alternate art for powerful cards in the color, and more specifically, those that are legal in Commander. The spellbooks were awesome, and I have picked up the three that have released, while assuming that there will be at least two more, as Green and Black have yet to be represented. Ditto this product, I’ll assume going forward that we should get at least four more encompassing the game’s five colors. We now know that this product will release in the beginning of December, and while it is similar to the spellbooks, one key difference emerges: There is a “premium” version, which contains the same cards with the same artwork, but all of them are foil. Who knows what retail will run for that, but given the price gouging happening with all of the collector and VIP products over the course of the year, I assume the premium version will be a bit pricey. The regular version will hopefully retail in the ballpark of $30-40 which seems fair given the contents. Speaking of the contents, let’s get to that:

So I understand the inclusion of Command Tower and Sol Ring since those are staple cards that go in nearly every EDH build, but honestly I think they could have been other cards instead. Since the theme is green, they made a thematically green artwork for both of these cards that are cool (I’m all about the alternate art stuff to stand out from the crowd) but I still think a Nature’s Claim or a Song of the Dryads might have been the better cards to include. Otherwise we have some really great gems here. Worldly Tutor hasn’t been reprinted in ages, ditto that for Sylvan library and though I own them I’d like more copies that are guaranteed (rather than digging through packs or paying a lot for the singles). Bane of Progress is a great card, as is Seedborne Muse, and though I’m not huge on Omnath, he is a signature green commander. Freyalise is an interesting include, mainly because she’s only had 2 printings so I suppose she could use the reprint but I also don’t think she’s that important of a card in the color. Sure, my mono-green stompy mid deck uses her to throw out some dorks or for removal but she’s still sort of run of the mill. A mono Garuuk might have been more on point. Either way I’m not complaining, I love the new art and I think this is a solid product, I just hope it isn’t pushed out of my price range by the time it comes around.

Spoilers for Commander Legends have begun as well, so I’ll have more thoughts to share about that product soon. I also have a bunch of other drafts in the works, just needed some downtime as of late. Until then.