Tag Archives: Wizards of the Coast

Returning to the Fold: MtG Core Set Pre-Release Thoughts

11 Jul

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

The numbering system may seem odd to newcomers to the Magic the Gathering game, but for others, the nineteen signifies the number of editions of the core set it has gone through since this game’s release 25 years ago. Ideally, I would have liked to see an M25 reference. It’s shiny since it’s a silver year, and to make the foil collectables released this year would have made this returning player happy.

At least the pre-release weekend showed players of all types are hyped for this product. Plenty of boxes were opened and the range of early release cards included a shiny Liliana planeswalker card and a Nicol Bolas. I did not get that box. I played against another who did, and he was beaming. Sadly, my pulls sucked. I got nothing spectacular to brag about during pre-release. However, since one favourite was Tezzeret, Artifice Master (which nobody got at the store I went to play at), I found my fortune after the event. I acquired the said Necromancer and one of the Elder Dragons (see below for picture).

Tezzeret, Artifice Master

I was tempted to take part in another game on the following day but had to weigh in on cost and if I wanted more cards than I know what to do with. I am more active with (playing the Beta version of) Magic Arena. I suspect this set will appear online very soon, in both this platform and Magic Online, with very little fanfare. Bugs still exist within this game and they are minor. I would rather get more cards to use there. The booster box was bought on a whim since I wanted to get the promotional card that came along. My den does not have a dedicated filming studio space, otherwise, I would have recorded a box openings to post on YouTube.

At least I can report the weekend had some hilarious moments. To witness reactions is why I attend gaming store functions over playing online, at home. With this set, players can get ground to death with a mill deck, a concept I fondly love using back in the early days of this game.

The Millstone (I find the artwork in this version far more intimidating than the original) helped me win. My six pack draw was light on the creature cards, so the balance was not there to keep me alive in other games. I needed more discard and denial spells to prevent artifact destruction to make this deck work. I do believe this meta will make a comeback.

Added to the game are more Horses. The Vine Mare is perhaps the best. Although rotation is coming soon, at the end of September, I will have to try my hand at a horse tribal deck with Crested Sunmare at its core. I’m sure other players will be experimenting with this too, and the box opening netted me half the cards (I needed multiples). As many deck tech experts have said, players are better off buying the singles needed for the decks than a booster box or two. Those folks who like the lottery system are there to experience the joy of pulling a $40 card from a pile than just shelling out for a pay-to-win experience. Given the trending values of these cards at the time of writing, opening a $90 USD box will not always net a return on investment. In Canadian dollars (paid $138 after taxes), I definitely did not get a return. I lucked out in Dominaria pre-release when I found Karn, Scion of Urza in my packs!

As for whether the horses will become big in tournament play, that’s hard to say. The Goblin Chainwhirler from the last set was huge and leapt in value because of its abilities in the metagame. The big question on some player’s minds will be what will be the defining card(s) for M19?

With at least half the cards reprints from the previous sets, I am not seeing anything standing out. The horses may have a slight impact. However, I’m not playing to find those killers. I enjoyed pre-release for the social camaraderie than to learn what cards are good. Friday Night Magic is one method to test decks, but I wish my store did not run them tournament style.

Ed's MtG

I believe this set serves as an entry point for anyone wishing to come back to playing, either at a local game store or at the kitchen table level even more than prior sets. Cards from the past five sets have been put in M19, making the final value (for those who bought them) ultimately not worth it. These core sets also get revisited every few years so new folks can hop on board with specific sets instead of buying every release that comes every few months. With the new goblins in this set and the return of the Death Baron, I think I have everything I need to further develop fun tribes to go battling with.  I did not get any with my booster box purchase so they will have to be bought individually.

Sorry Lily and Tez; For now, you two are just there to look pretty in my binder.

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Returning to the Fold: MtG’s Global Planeswalker Series

24 Jun

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

In concept, Wizards of the Coast announced a terrific idea: to get “a team of Chinese artists, writers, and folklorists to explore a new branch of Magic lore rooted in Chinese aesthetics and mythology.”

They released two new Planeswalker decks a few days ago—Global Series: Jiang Yanggu & Mu Yanling—to appease a new (re)generation of players, like myself who is part of that demographic and heritage they want to appease. I love works inspired by ancient worlds. My return to playing this game is because of Amonkhet. When that phases out, I do not know if I will continue. I hear Modern tournaments are brutal, and I am not sure if I want to play in that arena.

This release is not meant for serious competition or Friday Night Magic tournament play. Not everyone will know this detail. It’s not written on the accompanying story card. From WotC’s own mouth: “After much discussion, we settled on something unusual: these cards would be legal for Standard play in mainland China events. They will also be legal in Vintage and Legacy everywhere. They will never be Modern legal, because once they rotate out of Standard, the reason they were Standard legal no longer applies…”

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Returning to the Fold: MtG Arena & Hopes Before the Apr 26th Update

25 Apr

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Magic the Gathering: Arena is Wizards of the Coast‘s next digital iteration of Stainless Games’ Magic Duels. They have taken over development and have created a glitzier version which I appreciate. This update sports a new engine to allow for easier integration of new cards (and perhaps old too) when this product comes out of Beta testing. This change may happen very soon. On March 26th, new features will open up and Dominaria is being added. I am more excited to play this new set more so than owning the cards.

I played this set during the prerelease weekend and did better than expected. The practice I got in with the video game helped me win a few games than be smeared. WotC’s goal to bridge the two formats worked. Soon, I can ditch Duels in favour of Arena once the testing tag is removed. I may still continue to show up at some local game store events, but I feel like I’m done “paying” to play. As long as Arena has a mode for casuals, I will be sold on this new product. I have far too many hobbies where I sink just as much money into, and those I’m not too deep into will have to go. Daily quests for coin rewards are far more appealing to take on. Packs of cards now have wild cards that can be exchanged for specifics pieces. This feature is terrific, such that nailing any card is possible. To do this for the physical game means spending a lot of money for multiples of a killer card.

In the Beta product, this product focuses on player vs player battles. Coming changes include “best of one” events (no clearer definition is offered in the press release), an improvement in how to earn currency and added features. I am hoping narrative elements (much like in Duels for starting players) will be included, and perhaps also a test mode for experimental decks. Playing against opponents around the world is enjoyable, but I want a space where wins and losses are not recorded under DCI league. Supposedly, this feature is available in Magic Online; however, this iteration is as old as the Commodore PET displayed at the Royal BC Museum — it’s not a user-friendly system.

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Returning to the Fold: Playing Rivals of Ixalan Pre-Release & Ancient Civilizations

15 Jan

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

I do not always need to play every set release of Magic the Gathering, and I patiently waited for Rivals of Ixalan. I hoped it might offer a few gods inspired from Mesoamerican culture and make the game more of an archaeological adventure. That is, to include “traps” to trip up the opponent. While neither happened, it did not stop me from checking out the prerelease over the weekend instead of glossing over the cards online.

Sorry, Jace Beleren, but I forgot about you. I am more interested in finding the fabled El Dorado (Orazca). Six of the seven cards belong to Rivals, and these mana generators work well in both casual and competitive games. Path of Mettle flips to become Metzali, Tower of Triumph. This card deals direct damage to creatures while Azor’s Gateway transition to become Sanctum of the Sun can help bring out those high-cost Elder Dinosaurs into play faster.

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