Go PAX West, Young Man

Invent your tomorrow, today!

2016-09-03-10-45-03PAX is PAX.

It’s a weekend long celebration of gaming and getting together with friends and making new ones. PAX is the one event every year that I’ll put almost everything else on hold to attend. In the past eight years of PAX, I’ve only missed once when my daughter had surgery (a few years ago, she’s doing pretty well now). I’ve seen the invention of the Magic Party, its evolution, to its final iteration last year. Now, Magic takes over an entire theater for a weekend.

I was one of the only people posting spoilers online in the first Magic Party on Zendikar (the first time around) to Twitter and now the multinational company is streaming high quality shows on Twitch dedicated to introducing cards and mechanics from the very people who designed them.

Every year WotC tries to go bigger and grander. Last year it was a section of the Convention Center that had a huge Eldrazi arm breaking through a window and smashing a car. It was pretty epic. This year WotC took over an entire building and threw a street fair (Inventor’s Fair) with a huge moving Elk (After the 0/4 Camel was previewed, I told a WotC employee that they should’ve had a real camel there too). That’s not out of place at this convention.

PAX is PAX.

WotC held the World Championship for the Pro Tour, which finally makes sense; now it’s right before a block rotates instead of at the end of the year when a new block has been in Standard for two months. The grand Paramount theater housed a variety of panels that you could watch both live and streaming live. If you didn’t want to watch what was happening onstage, you could spellsling with WotC employees and celebrities, play in numerous drafts, play Commander, Cube, or just the basic learn how to play this game all within the same building. There was merchandise sold in the lobby (with a surprising amount of variety of what to choose from), as well as a prize wall for those of you played in sanctioned drafts.

If you didn’t want to leave the Magic area for four days you didn’t have to.

I used to come to PAX because Magic was a part of it. It was something that I would do near the end of the day because of the party. Now, I go to PAX because Magic is there and I almost ignore the rest of the convention. Sure, I walked around once in the indie section and played a game in the Jackbox section, but PAX has lost its luster when it’s not Magic related. Maybe it’s because I feel it’s my duty to try and give you what it’s like while I’m there (I did a Parascope of the Inventor’s Fair).

Or maybe WotC is just winning PAX. Continue reading “Go PAX West, Young Man”

Introducing the Set Cube

Cards and Spreadsheets, a match made in Heaven

Cube P1P1 - 7-12
What’s your P1P1?

If I had to pick between design and development, I’m pretty easily sitting on the design side. Sure, I can hunt and peck and guesstimate development, but it’s not something that’s my strong side. I know that and I can live with the limitation. So why did I take on one of the most develop-y things I could do: building a cube?

Because it’s fun.

Plus, what else am I going to do with cards that aren’t in my Commander decks?

When I decide to get expensive/foil cards, Commander is still my preferred format. But I’ve wanted to get into some more drafting so I decided to build a cube. If you don’t know what a cube is, watch this helpful video from Tolarian Community College:

So I built a pauper cube and it was fun for a while. I followed around Adam Stybroksi’s pauper cube and it fun but I wanted more power, more umph. But I didn’t want to strip my Commander decks full of cards to get a cube going. So I set up some rules for myself:

Modern legal only

This was an easy one. Sure I might have missed some great cards if I dipped into Eternal formats but this way I only get a few broken cards instead of full colors. This allowed me to keep the Reserved List out of the cube and keep costs lower than what it could be.

No foils or exotic cards

Cube is the other format where players like to foil out their decks or get the Russian foil whatever to make their cubes stand out. Those type of cards are for my Commander decks. Plus, I feel as if I keep everything non-foil, I won’t hesitate to take it out for a better card. I’ve discovered I’ve had this problem in my Commander decks from time to time. Of course I feel that’s ok in Commander since I’m not a cutthroat kind of guy in that format (except when I play my Sygg, River Cutthroat deck).

Something else was missing. Being a Johnny, I wanted to make the cube unique. Building a Modern-legal cube seemed fun, but I had fears it wasn’t going to be too different than the rest of the cubes I’ve seen. So I started to think about what could make this cube different.

But, what if it was all one set?

I’ve seen people build set/block cubes, like with Ravnica and Innistrad. That seemed kind of fun. It wasn’t really what I was going after.

What if it was a set, like Modern Masters?

Well a cube is kinda like Modern Masters…

What if rarity mattered?

Wait, what?

What if each color, color combination, and colorless had so many mythic, rare, uncommon and common spots?

…Go on…

Continue reading “Introducing the Set Cube”

I’amrakul’s Complete Lack of Surprise

On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.

Emrakul Scooby
Those Meddling Planeswalkers

Today, WotC announced that Emrakul is the huge threat on Innistrad. This came as a complete non-shock to many and received a “Ho Hum” from the internet. All of the clues were laid out for those that wanted to follow them and it was pretty spelled out. Sure, I was on team Marit Lage (The Planeswalker/Cosmic Horror from Dark Depths), but I mean I knew it was the Great Spaghetti Goddess.

But players, like they always do, complain that this wasn’t some great twist. As if we were expecting something like a Sixth Sense ending (or to play off this title’s connection, Fight Club (Explanation of the other part of the title can be found here in the story)). Instead we get something that everyone was expecting; Mike Linnemann (@VorthosMike) had been going on this for a while. But, it makes sense storywise. Let’s all calm down breathe deeply and take a look at why this was an okay move for WotC. Continue reading “I’amrakul’s Complete Lack of Surprise”

When Story Dictates Design (Shadows Over Zendikar)

Hold your breath. Make a wish. Count to three.

tumblr_inline_o3oyizxtry1qhstyx_500Battle for Zendikar and Shadows Over Innistrad both have easy to digest stories: The Eldrazi are destroying Zendikar, something is making everything on Innistrad crazy. Two big objects are changing the plane (Eldrazi vs the Moon). Battle for Zendikar focuses on the things that are close to the Eldrazi while Shadows Over Innistrad focuses on the plane and its inhabitants. The design focus is then on the Eldrazi vs. the plane of Innistrad. Going big vs going wide.

Hey, let’s design everything around the Eldrazi (Going big).

Hey, let’s design everything around horror and madness is affecting the plane (Going wide).

Going big vs going wide leads us into two different directions of design. Neither of these ways of design are bad, they’re just opposite ways of thinking on how to approach the set. Continue reading “When Story Dictates Design (Shadows Over Zendikar)”

Tomorrow Comes Today – Announcement Day for Future Products

Way better than Big Block of Cheese Day

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Saheeli Rai, Planeswalker

Today on the Mothership, they announced an “Announcement Day.” In this Announcement Day, WotC announced the future products for the rest of the 2016 year. The announcements are as follows (announced release order):

  • August 26: Conspiracy – Take the Crown Draft Sets available at mass market stores.
  • September 2: Duel Decks: Nizza vs. Ob Nixilis 
  • September 30: Kaladesh – Fall Large Set. Previews begin PAX weekend (September 2)
  • November 11: Commander 2016
  • November 25: Planechase Anthology
  • Janurary 20, 2017: Aether Revolt – Winter Small Set.

And the following changes:

  • Intro Decks become Planeswalker Decks
  • Fat Packs become [Set Name] Bundle

Let’s take a look at each one and what all of this means. Continue reading “Tomorrow Comes Today – Announcement Day for Future Products”