Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Odds // Ends

So, a lot has happened since my Return to Ravnica review went up, yet, The Command Zone has remained eerily silent. What gives? Same ol’ batch of lame excuses as ever. I’m busy, mostly. But here we are, so let’s just jump in.

Commander’s Arsenal

I had rather a lot to say about the Commander’s Arsenal. I get that WotC wasn’t actively trying to piss people off, but that’s mostly what they accomplished. Anyway, I might have ranted and raved about it, but most of the rest of the internet was already doing that, and I didn’t have much of anything unique or different to say.

Then, I ended up getting a full Commander’s Arsenal at MSRP, and my angst dissolved rather quickly. You see, one of the LGS’s in my city had told me that they weren’t getting any Arsenals. Zero. But they wrote my name down anyway, I guess, because the night before the Arsenal was to go on sale, they called me and said they got in two of them, and one had my name on it if I was still interested. Of course I was! Once they told me they were charging the actual sticker price, no mark-up, I was in like Flint.

So yeah, that was a tale of woe and misery and angst, but I can skip all that stuff and tell you it had a happy ending after all!

Pricing and Distribution issues aside, what do I think about the actual product itself? Well, here’s a rundown:

1.       The Sleeves – As a value-added item, they’re fine, but I wouldn’t have paid a dime extra for them. These Ultra Pro sleeves with art or designs on the backs tend to be shitty as all hell. I am using them on my Wrexial deck now, just to see if they hold up any better. I’ll let you know after I’ve been playing with them a while.

2.       The + and – Chits – Stupid, worthless garbage. Bah. I so could have done without this chaff.

3.       The Life Counter – Pretty boss. It does tend to be a pain when you first start using it – the wheels do NOT spin smoothly at all. But I sat and spun mine for like 20 minutes and it started to loosen up nicely. That aside, it’s a nice throw-in. It’s cool that it goes from 0 to 99, and it is “bump proof” so no more trying to remember what your life total is after your opponent throws his deck across the table at you.

4.       The Oversized Foils – I have no use for these whatsoever. I really don’t. That said, I think the inclusion of Sliver Queen was pretty awesome, for what it’s worth. Also, I am pretty happy to have the oversized Mayael the Anima, as that is one of my favorite illustrations in the game. It’s quite lovely. Beyond that, this section of the Arsenal is useless to me, but I do think they did a great job on the spread of Legends they selected. There should be something here for everyone (everyone who cares about big, unplayable cards, at least).

5.       The 18 Foils – Ah, the REAL reason anyone gives two shits about Commander’s Arsenal. This portion was pretty excellent. I’m already using 10 of the 18 cards in decks, so that’s a pretty darn good ratio. Meanwhile the stuff I’m not using should get plenty of heat in the trade binder. I’ve probably got another $100 or so in potential trade fodder sitting on a single 3 x 3 binder page. (By the way, updating the trade page here on the blog real soon!)

One quibble I do have is that whatever foiling process they used this time is a bit dull and lackluster. I’m glad they didn’t use the From The Vaults process – those are way too glossy, but the Arsenal foils look considerably more flat compared to regular pack foils. It’s a minor, MINOR issue, though, considering that a dull Foil Scroll Rack is still sexier than a non-foil Scroll Rack.

Overall, I absolutely feel like I got my money’s worth and then some.

Deck Updates

Over the next few days I am updating the deck lists in my Active Decks Roster. I’ve already updated a couple, and the rest should follow shortly. Some got more love than others, of course, but everything got at least one new toy.

New LGS, New Friends

The big news, for me, is the opening of a brand new LGS. Unfortunately this new store is an hour away. Some folks might not blink at such a commute, but there are usually 4 or 5 stores within half an hour or less, so driving that far out of the way when it isn’t actually necessary is not a wise financial move, considering gas prices these days.

But, oh the things we do for love and Magic. Frankly, the Magic scene in my town is a bit played out, and I wanted something new and fresh. So, never mind the impracticality of it – when a couple of friends announced they were going, I was more than happy to join them on the voyage. I just pitched in for gas and went along for the ride.

We had a blast. 

We met a bunch of new people and played a buttload of Magic. It’s a shame the place is so far away, or it would easily become my main LGS hangout. As it stands, we intend to travel as a group at least once a month to hang out there for some all-day Magic marathons.

We played EDH mostly, of course, but we did bust out sixty-card decks of various formats for a big, stupid 7-player free for all game. Since then I’ve gotten the urge to build a couple multiplayer-oriented 60-card decks, just in case that happens again. I was the first player out, which I didn’t really mind because I knew my only 60 card deck (the mono-red Vampires deck) was not going to cut it with 6 opponents.

There was also a big, epic, six-player EDH game, wherein I played Maelstrom Wanderer to an extraordinary victory. On turn 5, a Jor Kadeen player took me down to 19 life, and probably could have killed me a turn or so later. But, in the spirit of fun, he allowed me to live – which I greatly appreciate. Watching everyone else play EDH for 3 hours while you sit on the sidelines is not fun – but in retrospect it might have been a bad move on his part.

Maelstrom Wanderer is just such an awesome general, but he’s also terribly overpowered. I was extremely vulnerable early on in the game, and could not have saved myself if everyone were truly gunning for me. But from the moment I hit 8 mana, to the end of the game 3 hours later, I never once felt like I was anything but safe, in complete control of the game.

Other games didn’t go so well for me. I played Thraximundar one game, and it seemed like I had that game in the bag too, until a timely Insurrection from the innocent-looking Zedruu deck took me out.

Later, I played a three-way game with my Vish Kal deck, where I pretty much had the table on lock-down right off the bat. SO much removal in that deck! By the end, I had my life total way up into the 90’s while both my opponents were at 6 life. I had an amazing board position, with nothing but a Niv Mizzet, Dracogenius equipped with like 3 or 4 pieces of equipment posing any real threat. Unfortunately I scrubbed out completely and failed to remember that A) 21 general damage is a loss, and B) I’d already taken 17 damage from the Dracogenius. I could have tutored up some removal for the dragon, but instead I got greedy and dropped Kokusho, then tried to Disciple of Bolas to put both opponents at 1 and draw me some cards. A Path to Exile stopped that play cold, and then I died to a really pissed-off and heavily armed Dracogenius.

One horrible misplay was not enough to ruin my fun. I did make them kill the same Wurmcoil Engine 3 times. They had to deal with the 3/3 tokens three times as well. I can’t begrudge anyone such a hard-fought victory!

The store was cool, the people were great, and the games were fun. I could not have asked for more!

On the Horizon

As I’ve previously mentioned, updates for all my current decks are underway, and an update of my Trade Binder page is coming shortly as well.

On the deckbuilding front, I’ve been kicking around two EDH ideas for a while now, and I am finally ready to start building on them, as soon as I get five spare minutes. They’re going to be Izzet and Bant colors, but that’s all I’ll say for now. I hope to have at least one of them sleeved up and ready this weekend.

I also really want to get some 60-card decks together, but my last two attempts have resulted in a big stack of cards that might have looked like a deck, but was in reality JUST a big stack of cards. I’m so stuck in the EDH deckbuilding mindset that it’s confusing to me to try and build regular decks now. I keep finding little sparks of inspiration, only to realize that I have no idea what else to put in the deck besides the initial few cards that inspired me.

One thing is for sure: If I’m playing multiplayer I want something with reach. Mono-Red Vampires just doesn’t cut it, even after I made a few changes specifically to try and give it reach. Back to the drawing board on that one.

One card from Return to Ravnica that really makes me salivate is Ethereal Armor. I’ve long been a huge fan of Enchantress decks, and my recent attempt at porting the archetype over to EDH was… less than successful by my standards. When it worked, it was fun and really damned powerful, but when it didn’t work it was frustrating and boring to play. Like, really frustrating.

So, porting the archetype BACK to sixty card sounds like a solid plan. The only problem is I’m not sure if I want to go W/U, W/G or G/W/U. Too many other cards pulling me in different directions, but one thing is for certain: there will be Rancors.

I also have a very strong urge to build a Golgari-colored deck, but beyond wanting to play those colors I don’t have a clear deckbuilding goal. That’s always a problem, as you usually wind up with a pile of good cards that don’t really do much. That’s fine for EDH sometimes, but it’s terrible in sixty-card Magic. Also, I don’t have any extra Pernicious Deeds lying around, which is pretty much the absolute best multiplayer card in G/B.

My third idea is to revisit the R/B Liliana’s Caress deck I built way back when. It’s a bit combo-ish but it is really fun to play.

In Closing...

Well that’s it for today. As you can see, I am still very much thinking about Magic, and playing it too, even if I haven’t been writing all that much. I hope to rectify this situation soon.



  1. Don't fear the one-hour commute if the store is worth it. I've got a shop about eight minutes from my house, but every Wednesday, I'm headed the full hour to Amherst anyway.

    Funny...I just got bitten by the bug and went Skullbriar for Golgari colors. The debut is tonight, so we'll see how it works. Sort of toying with both Izzet, and also mono-white angels...again. (I guess I just wasn't disappointed enough the last time.)

    Agreed nearly totally on Arsenal...I hate to play into the haves/have nots thing, but I was pretty disarmed after getting a copy too.

    The foiling process...seems to be the same (or *very* close) to the PDS foils. Dull to be sure, but not so thick and glossy. I'll take these anyday.

    Still coming around on the life counter. We'll see how it goes tonight once again.


    1. Oooh, can't wait to hear about Skullbriar. I have been really interested in making a deck for him ever since RtR came out, but my Savra deck has just been doing so amazing lately that I can't bear to take her apart. I don't think I have the cardadge to support two Golgari decks at once, but if I took apart Ghave I might... MIGHT. Dunno. Will have to look into that.