Magic: The Gathering comes to D&D

The ever-wonderful Critical Hits is reporting that the setting of Magic: The Gathering, Zendikar, has come to D&D via a free PDF. What’s more, WotC is running a survey to gauge interest in a paid book for the setting as well.

Read more on Critical Hits. And/or get the PDF here.

The Failure of Spellfire

Here’s an interesting article about the history of Spellfire, TSRs failed answer to Magic: The Gathering from the 90s. To be honest, I’d actually completely forgotten about the game existing until I saw this. From the article:

TSR was looking to piggyback on Wizards Of The Coast’s success, and soon. The company gave its vice president of product design, Jim Ward, just six months to create a CCG good enough to compete with the burgeoning Wizards Of The Coast juggernaut. Along with fellow game designers Steven Winter, Zeb Cook, and Mike Breult, Ward set out to create a card game that would utilize TSR’s substantial creative resources and improve on Magic’s shortcomings. The goal was to introduce a distinctive, higher-quality game, rather than just a D&D-themed version of Magic.

via Not In The Cards | Feature | The Gameological Society

So Magic The Gathering 2011 is coming

Well it looks like the new edition of Magic is on the way. I cannot say I was paying attention to it’s arrival. I wasn’t. After investing in about all the releases that came out one thing always comes to mind that there is typically very little ‘new’ and a whole lot of reprints. It’s ok to have reprints. It would not be normal to not get a little nostalgia cards. However I think that with each release they need more new things. At PAX I bought some older sets like Shadowmoor and still managed to produce cards that I already had from all the newer items.  I think one of the more interesting releases was Planechase as it offered a new dynamic. Sure it had some cards in other recent sets but there was enough newness to make it worth the price of admission. Anyways, I would just like to see more effort into making totally original cards.

Now that I totally ranted off there here is the purpose of this posting. If your interested in procuring the latest edition you can buy a box at select participating stores where if your damn lucky, will receive promotional card entitled Birds of Paradise. Check it out!

Worldwake approaches so buy a box and get a promo card

Yes that is right Magic: The Gathering fans, you can now go to a participating retailer, buy a booster box and get a promo Celestial Colonnade card which has alternate art. I’m a fan of Magic but that certainly does not sell me on an expensive booster. I think they could kick up the promo package a bit but that is just me. Oh and to be more specific, this deal only applies to the first 20 people who purchase the booster box at the participating retailer.

RPG Hub Reviews: Magic: The Gathering Premium Alara Foil Pack

As of last week, Magic The Gathering fans may have noticed something new on the shelves drawing their attention. A new premium booster pack set is now available in the form of a 15 card booster pack featuring the Alara block (Shards of Alara, Con-Flux, Alara Reborn). I will be honest here, this is not so much a review as a look at. These are older products but with a new shiny coating.

Design: One of our card shops that we go to had a pack already open just for us to check it out which was pretty nice of them. Going through them I was not surprised that like other Magic cards that these were your typical foil cards. It was nice to have an all foil pack but it got me thinking of the following.

Contents: Like any booster pack, the Alara premium foil pack is no exception. It’s 15 randomized cards from all the parts of the Alara block. This means you will have commons, uncommon, rare and mystical rare cards. In reality now you have even less chance of getting something special. In fact 90% of the deck was common cards with only one rare.

Cost: The pack went for $12 Canadian which is quite a bit for a 15 card booster. This all begs into question if this was even needed as a product. I say this as a week ago I bought a tournament pack for Shards of Alara. I not only got 60 cards in this pack but two – three cards were foil and I had a mythic rare card. Foil is great for those hardcore collectors however the price does not make this pack worth it at all.

So let’s break this down

Liked

Design: I love the art, it’s no secret and I like foil cards as they add a little flare to the already awesome art.

Disliked

Cost VS Profitability: It’s hard to justify $12 for a 15 card booster where most cards are common across three sets. While they are trying to keep interest flowing through the Alara block before the rest of the Zendikar block is completed it is not needed. Buy individual packs and you will be rewarded more with the cards your more looking for.

In all I was rather disappointed. It does appeal to a niche group of fans but for the rest I highly suggest skipping it. As mentioned above you can simply buy into more individual boosters for a cheaper price, tournament decks or if missing that certain something just buy the individual card your missing. I really hope that Wizards of the Coast can make things a bit more appealing with future releases.

RPGHub Reviews: Garruk Vs Liliana

I was out with Mrs S on the weekend. We had both had a rough day with mini Carl and all the joys that parenting can bring. So I looked at Mrs S and said “Let’s go get some magic cards”. And that was pretty much it that led us all the way to the store. Once there we browsed their assortment of Magic: The Gathering stock. I originally had in mind to go and buy some Shadowmoor cards as it had a lot of red and black. I thought it would beef up that particular deck if not build up my individual black and red decks.

Then there it was..On the shelf…was it a Planeswalker…a Black Planeswalker. Damn did I need one of those. And not only was it one Planeswalker but two. One was Liliana for the black and the other Garruk which was green. So what brought these two together in one package and what was the price of this mystical artifact.

Have beckoned our man servant at the store we had him bring the box over. Low and behold this was a new duel package released only two ago. It was two tournament sized decks that contained a Planeswalker for both the black and green colors. It was apparently put together to show how powerful a Planeswalker and their cards can be.

Being on the Magic scene I knew that these two Planeswalker cards on their own would fetch between $10 – $15 each easily not to mention whatever else was in the deck. Speaking of which there was also eight rare cards for each color as well which is awesome all depending on what you get. Six cards have new artwork to tempt your eyes. Suffice it to say we wanted to know the catch..the price. The catch was the pack was $34CDN. I was floored as just the two Planeswalker cards alone sold individually could pay for the pack.

Obviously we picked the pack up. For me alone the Planeswalker and additional black cards was an easy sell. Once home we ripped open the box and enjoyed our goods. The deck itself was well constructed. I had a very good level of creatures, lands, sorcery and even a black artifact. Mrs S had roughly the same mix of cards on her side with the green deck. I found the black deck to be particularly powerful with my ability to resurrect the dead from graveyards, instant death cards and other sorcery.

We decided to play a game with these pre constructed decks rather then carefully plan out and alter our main decks. They both did a very good job in use. I was hit more with special land cards and sorcery while I attacked with more instant kills and eventually resurrecting from her graveyard. I ended up winning this particular battle but the test was done. This deck was a great package.

Liked

Price: For $34CDN  you cannot go wrong in buying the Garruk Vs Liliana package. Two Planeswalkers and six rare cards alone and the price of admission.

Great Start: If your wanting a tournament sized deck to battle a friend then this is a great way to start. You have literally all you need and then some.

Art: I think this is a staple of all M:TG cards is the incredible art. Also of a side note is that both the Liliana and Garruk cards have alternate art.

Disliked

Nothing: I couldn’t find anything about this package that was wrong. It was so well balanced and put together it’s impossible to really break down one thing that stands out as bad. If I had to nit pick at anything it would be more at Wizards of the Coast for not advertising this more.

After this one package and after altering my main deck for black I actually feel confident that I could compete in a tournament and do halfway decent. I am very pleased with this package and what it has to offer and I recommend anyone to jump into this. Visit your store, grab this item as it’s sure to sell out fast enough. I am even tempted to pick up another package.

RPGHub Reviews: MTG: Zendikar Intro Pack

After spending some time with Magic 2010, Mrs S and me have been looking to broaden our horizons. Magic: The Gathering has had a multitude of expansions over it’s introduction.  Each setting or plane of existence (if you want to be technical) has it’s own cards to add with it’s own little flavor. Zendikar is one of those settings. It’s a plane which is quite hostile however there are riches to be won and mana that all planeswalkers wish to acquire. If you want more of a background information on Zendikar you can go here.

The introduction packs come in a box with pre constructed deck based on themes in Zendikar. For instance the introduction pack I purchased was for Mrs S as she plays blue as her primary deck and sometimes a mixture of green. So in Zendikar the paired up colors under a name. So for my intro pack it was called Unstable Terrain while others are Kor Armory, Rise of the Vampires, etc.

The box boasted a nice 41 card deck and a special foil card entitled the Sphinx of Jwar Isle and a 15 card booster pack. It’s a great way to get into the game and with the latest series especially if you are into the idea of dual decks. However unlike other series like Alara Reborn, Ravnica, etc you have singular colored cards. For those who are not familiar totally with Magic yet a card can be one of the five colors (Blue, Green, Red, Black, White) or sometimes the card can be a combination color like (Black, Red). It’s good to have a series that takes things back to singular colors.

The Zendikar series itself is a 249 card set which will introduce some new concepts like landfall, quests, ally’s and traps. While these are new features we haven’t run into their use yet so the jury is out on how well they balance out. However from what Mrs S used, she finds that it’s very good extension to her deck that she is building. I can say it’s working as cards like Mind Control are pissing me off. I might go get the Rise of the Vampires as it seem’s to have what I am more focused on. For more details on the products and cards involved check this out.

Liked

Art: As always the art is fantastic, I think this can be true of any Magic card out there. I have yet to find one I find even remotely unattractive.

Singular Colored Cards: When you buy the intro pack which contains a deck with two colors, the cards themselves are singular colored.

Price: For what you get the price I paid was actually pretty good. I even found it $3 cheaper elsewhere. That’s a lot of bang for your cash

Disliked

All you need is the intro pack: If I made cards and did an intro pack I would arrange things so you had to buy boosters of this new set to flesh things out. After we got the intro pack we realized we were just missing one card from the list for blue / green. And we may have just misplaced that card. We managed to get one in a booster we got for the heck of it but we realized why even bother getting the boosters.

So you want into Magic and the latest thing. I point you no further then a Zendikar introduction pack. Do your homework in advance. Check out the related products, what you feel would be your interest. At $12.99 even if your feeling your way around is a great way to get involved. You will not be wasting any money.

A Night of Magic

Today we have our first review here on the site since our new incarnation. And that review is for Magic: The Gathering 2010 from a newbs perspective.

The lights are darkened and we let ourselves be guided to our candlelit table. We stare at each other longingly. Anticipations rise, our hearts beating and finally breaking the silence I utter the seductive phrase “It’s time for a night of magic”.

Here at the RPG Hub we always had a stigma where we played pen & paper games while card based games were foreign if not totally alien to us. It seemed wrong to play card games and dare I say childish. That was us being ignorant back in the day. But after all these years we still ignored them. Not out of some ignorance, simply our of not being diverse. Finally though I decided I would venture into that unknown land. The land of Magic and who better I try it with then a total non gamer, my wife.

So Mrs S and myself looked at how best to jump into a card game. There was so many various games out there. Call of Cthulhu, World of Warcraft, Spycraft and many others. But what to try first…Since my wife was not big into gaming both card or pen & paper we decided to go with Magic since it was fantasy themed and my wife being an avid fantasy novel reader would most likely relate to that.

With out decision made we searched for products. As of that period Magic 2010 was released. You essentially had a starter set for one of five colors (Red, Blue, White, Black, Green). Each color represented a play stay. White focused on protection, boosting creature abilities, etc. Red was more an all out destroy the other player style deck. We were not sure what style suited us as they all sound cool when you read into them so we bought a starter set for each one. I also took the liberty of buying the Magic 2010 core fat pack. This was essentially a box of boosters in a carry case and a D20 to keep track of health. Rather tacky but for the price but why not.

After two weeks of waiting for our order, it came in. And with glorious pleasure we unwrapped that foil and sorted all our cards by color. By the time we were done unwrapping the starter set with it’s accompanying booster as well as the core fat pack, we had a tournament sized 60 card deck for each color. For the purpose of trial I took the black deck and my wife the blue. She likes to control and she loves blue (as of this writing I am still alive for saying this).

The rules come on a fold out colored glossy paper. The rules basics for how to play are well presented with a glossary of terms. It might be daunting on first looks to see all those charts and being new but it’s ok. We selected our initial 60 cards which is a tournament standard sized deck. For those who have not played you take the role of a mages doing battle against one another. You have creatures, spells, enchantments and lands to select and use on the battle field. You might but wondering about lands? Like what the hell? Well land lets you summon creatures, cast spells, etc. It’s basically the potatoes underlying your meet. Your mage taps into these lands to perform these magical feats so it’s good to have quite a few of them in your deck as some creatures, spells and enchantments take a lot of tapped lands to bring them to the table and use against your opponent.

So the Mrs and myself played 4 games. The first being rather sloppy as we kept referring to the giant fold out to figure out the turns and get down to business but eventually we managed to get to a point where we referred less to it. I ended up taking 3 of the 4 games however we alternated decks to see what the colors were like. The balance is truly amazing. One deck is really not more over powered then the next. They each has their own strong points. Blue can control your monsters and smack you down with what you thought would obliterate your opponent. White can heal you while damaging making your opponent who just lost look at your nice 20 health.

Ah yes, health, how could I forget you. The goal of the game obviously is to defeat your opponent. But to do so you need to eliminate 20 of your opponents health. This is standard as well and why that tacky D20 was put in the game. We just used our noggins but if you don’t trust your friends or very forgetful then using the D20 is actually a good idea. So by using your land resources you draw power to perform spells, enchantments, instants or creatures summoning. When a creature comes into play you can’t immediate use it to attack as it’s still adjusting from the teleportation to your plane of existence however the following round it’s free to do whatever it pleases. Creates at times have sub abilities that can be activated of course by your resources. Each creature has it’s own health and defense. They essentially act as your wall to block any upcoming attacks. However sometimes depending on the creature they are unable to block as it’s not their function. All this is described on the creature cards and allows for some interesting plays during the game.

So after the games were done we looked at each other and came away with the feeling that this was an awesome game. It can be as complex as you want it to be by mixing colored decks which is perfectly legal or it can be as simple as you want it by keeping to just a standard starter. To say the least when we walked into it we had no preconceptions that this would be as fun as we thought.

Liked

Art: The art is simply fantastic and helps to draw you into your particular color selection. It feeds off the concepts and you can’t help but wanting to buy more cards to see what the others are like.

Pick up and Play: You can go out and buy two simple $10 CDN starter packs which will kick start you and a friend. He play can be quick or as complex. Flexibility to various play styles is always a plus.

Variety: There are many expansions out there for Magic over the years. If you’re a dabbler and want simple boosters, that’s ok but if you want to get unique cards from a certain event then they have those in boosters or fat packs as well. Everything has a story and that helps enriches the setting your dueling in.

Disliked

Card Clarity: Now it could be our initial newbness in playing, however we found some cards not very clear at all and not totally explained via the quick start for the game. For further information you can go to the magic site and download a larger FAQ / Manual which is quite huge and intimidating for people figuring things out,

Cheap Foldout: This ties to the issue above. We would have liked to have had a printed guide with all your detailed information for various instances and maybe a demo of play from start to finish. The fold out instructions can easily be lost / torn / dog eaten so something of more substance would have been much preferred. If competitors can do it so can Wizards.

I highly recommend trying this out with a friend. It opens up a different but quite rewarding experience. I know in the case of Mrs S and myself, our geeky fires were stoked and our romance blossomed. Happily ever after.