The Top 5 Sets of 2016

It’d be a little odd to do a Top 5 sets of 2017

emissarysployWhat follows is a list of the top 5 sets of 2016. Anything that was more than just a single product to buy qualified as a set (Like, a From the Vault or Anthology collection could not be considered a set). It could be a set with all new cards, all reprints, or something in between. Now, how I’m ranking these sets is going to be different than you’re used to. Sure, there’s going to be a design aspect bent to it, but I’m not going to favor a set on its limited environment, Standard viability, Modern impact or if it had the best Commanders. Ok, there might be a little Commander bias, but not much. Not one set is going to be ranked higher because of a single card’s presence; it’s got to be the whole package. Got it? Good.

#5 – Shadows Over Innistrad

Can you go home again? I don’t know but Wizards sure tried. In the follow up to the original visit to the Gothic Horror plane from 2011 and 2012, we went back to see what has happened since Avacyn, um, Restored it. Everything went back to the way it was and the angel that was assigned to protect the people were now being slaughtered by her? Great job, Sorin. You’re batting 1.000 with the women in your life. Continue reading “The Top 5 Sets of 2016”

Commander 2016 – Getting What You Asked For

As the Philosopher Jagger once said, “You can’t always get what you want.”

kynaiosandtiroofmeletisIt’s a little odd to have a Commander post on the design blog, but whatever let’s roll with it.

Four-color Commanders was one of those areas that I just didn’t care to see Legends printed for. To me, the whole exercise was nothing more than checking boxes. Players kept asking for four-color Commanders so eventually WotC was going to produce them. Believe me, WotC would go back and errata the Nephilim to be legendary so fast it would make Barry Allen look slow (Insert your own timeline joke here). Alas, they don’t do functional errata so that’s a no-go there. I didn’t want four-color Commanders, I didn’t need four-color Commanders. And now?

I’m glad the boxes are checked.

This Commander product wasn’t directed at me. There are those people that want four-color Commanders to play those types of decks. The designs of them feel alright but most don’t really work with my playstyle (though Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis tickles my fancy). And that’s fine, not every product is going to be directed at me and this was something that players have been asking about for years.

Doesn’t mean I’m not buying all five decks, because I totally am. Continue reading “Commander 2016 – Getting What You Asked For”

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”

Everything That’s Pretty Okay with Battle for Zendikar

Ugin's InsightEditor’s Note: I’ve been sitting on my PAX report for a while after some delays (my brother getting married, life and work). I’ll visit it later; it hasn’t come out the way I want to.

Earlier this week, Pro Player (and notably better Magic player than I) Paulo Vitor Damo de Rosa put out an article on ChannelFireball.com called “Everything That’s Wrong with Battle for Zendikar.” In it, he explains why he doesn’t like the philosophical direction that BFZ has gone and believes it’s a bad set. He came from the angle as a competitive player completely acknowledges that angle; that’s what I want when I read something from him. While I don’t fully agree with his position I want to take a look at this groundswell I’ve seen online about the hatred for BFZ.

There has been a little bit of an issue with Channel Fireball moving his article around trying to hide it so it doesn’t effect sales of the new set in their store. I’m not looking to comment on this as I’ve had my own issues with a large online retail site/store before with their content. I’m all for an author writing what they believe without being tied to sponsors; that’s the major reason why I don’t have advertisements on this blog. If I write something like Paulo had and a sponsor didn’t like the content and this article might hurt sells, I might be pressured into writing something different or censoring myself. Paulo wants to start a conversation while giving his thoughts on the topic, and I fully applaud that even if I don’t agree with him. Continue reading “Everything That’s Pretty Okay with Battle for Zendikar”

After MaRo – State of Design Response 2015

Profound JourneyAnother year, another State of Design response.

While I’ve tried to keep up every year that Maro has written one, I think it’s important to voice your opinion about what you have thought about the past year. I know Maro gets so much player response, especially on Tumblr where it’s short bursts of info, it’s also good to write something a little longer. If you’re giving feedback, there’s something you need to communicate that can be very hard to do:

Explain why.

If you liked something, explain the reason. Same for not liking something. There is nothing as useless as “this sucks,” but don’t explain why. “I didn’t like that there were too many aggro decks,” is a valid reason, “I don’t like dragons,” is a valid reason, “Because why can’t we have Counterspell back?” is not a totally valid reason but if that’s the way you feel, please respond that way. Be kind, be courteous. I’m not trying to “tone police”, but even if you disagree with what has happened you can still be respectful. If you want your voice to be heard, write something; WotC will read it.

I know that last year I kinda went into a “Theros wasn’t an enchantment block so it missed its mark” midset and in hindsight, I still believe that. It’s okay to disagree with how things turned out. Did I think Khans block turned out better? Let’s find out. Continue reading “After MaRo – State of Design Response 2015”