Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pauper Perspective: Rise of the Eldrazi

Well folks, it's that time again when everyone who writes about Magic does their mandatory review of the new set. I try to take a little different road at these times, as my article will primarily focus on the common cards of the set, which are often overlooked by other writers. These cards tend to flex their muscles most often in the Pauper format, Limited (Sealed/Draft), and the casual table. So off to the races!

There are only two commons in the Eldrazi category. Hand of Emrakul will really depend on value of other cards that make spawn tokens, because 9 mana for a 7/7 beater, even with annihilitor1 is a bit over costed. Ulamog's Crusher on the other hand, a 8/8 annihilitor2, is on or above the curve. Oh it has to attack each turn if able, but we all know that really isn't a draw back. The only common land in the set is Terramorphic Expanse hiding from it's creditors under another name. Prophetic prism is an artifact which does color fixing in the colorless matters set?? Reinforced Bulwark is a wall with even more life saving ability.

White has a total of 40 cards, ~18 of which are spoiled as commons. Of these 9 are creatures, all are weenie sized, and only one has evasion. Some of them are Level-ups, and get better with a bit more effort, but still don't push the envelope. White also has 5 instants (2 removal, 2 combat tricks) to offer. The onesided effect of Harmless assault will shift some games around. The removal is cheap, targeted, and restricted, but really not bad. White also has 3 enchantments, (2 auras, 1 removal-ish). Hyena Umbra makes any creature relivant, granting +1/+1 and first strike. Guard Duty is removal-ish, giving a creature defender, which is usually as good as removal. In this set, it be less effective against a defender matters deck, and may even be something you would want to play on your own creature, in the right deck.

Blue also has 40 cards, and ~18 commons, and has to be the most disappointing group of commons in the set. Nine creatures, only one of which nudges into being relevant in size, and only 2 have evasion. Instants, where blue usually shines, gives one combat trick, and 5 disappointing card draw or control spells. Enchantments are stereo typically lack luster, even for blue with one flash combat trick, and on removal spell. Blue also has a sorcery comabt trick, which isn't a trick, since you would have to cast it in your main phase.

Black is where the commons really begin to shine, 10 creature (6 beaters), that bring removal, evasion, or even spawn tokens. Enchantments are also pretty good, bringing land disruption, and decent auras. Even Sorcery is very good. syphoning life, granting evasion, control, removal, or creating spawn. Instants are fairly one dimensional, but it's a good dimension to have bringing 3 removal spells to the table.

Red is another great color for commons. 11 creatures (6 weenie size, and 5 beater size), and some have removal-ish qualities. Sorcery and instants bring a nice mix of removal, direct damage, and even spawn production. Red's enchantments may be the most interesting commons in the set. Lust for War, forces a creature to attack each turn, and then deals 3 damage to the controller when it is tapped. Raid Bombardment makes all your attacking weenies, deal an extra unblockable damage, simply by attacking.

Green is where the creatures live, 11 in total, 7 of which are beater size. Some bring with them death touch, fog effects, and spawn tokens. Sorcery are pretty mediocre, and the instants bring an assortment of restricted removal, lifegain, and combat tricks. The auras not only make the creatures stronger, but also bring aspects of card draw, and reach.

So that is pretty much it. I know what I'll be hoping for in my limited pool. Hope to see you all at a Prerelease this weekend.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Repack Potential: Relearn

I've been getting a lot of reader feedback not only about Repack as a format, but also the educational articles I've been putting out on the subject. The last series Repack Walk Through, was what I think was a huge hit, and created a lot of buzz. It appears now though, that people get the point of the lesson, so I'm moving on to another topic. Folks seem to get what cards were best in the packs, but have been asking more about the why. To try an address this, I'm taking up a new Repack article theme.

Simply put, each week, I'm going to use the "random card" feature on Gatherer to pull an interesting card, and then exhaust myself talking about it from a repack perspective. I think this weeks card is fairly appropriate for Repack, as many of our drafting, playing and card evaluation skills have to be relearned as applied to this unique format. First off, since this is an uncommon, odds are this will not been seen again in another pack, and it's power level makes it unlikely to wheel, so if you want it, better take it. Seeing this later then say fourth or fifth pick, signals blue is fairly open.

The casting cost of 1UU makes this a fairly dedicated blue spell, you won't be able to splash this with very much success. It may pair well with a splashed spell from another color, potentially allowing you to use it twice. This card will lend itself mostly to a UR deck, for example to get back a key red removal spell. For instance, you could use your Fireball or Blaze, both easily picked up and splashed in repack these days, early to take out an early creature that was causing problems. Your opponent is going to feel pretty good dropping later creatures, confident that you won't have another X removal spell.

What ever you return with this will need to be good enough to overcome to factors. First, you probably won't have enough mana to cast relearn, and the returned spell on the same turn, so you have potentially time walked yourself, at least for the main phases of your turn. If you are stable in control, or on the beats, this may be less of a factor. Secondly, you have telegraphed your next move to your opponent, who knows that the card is back in your hand. Odds are, your opponent won't fall for the same trick twice, or will attempt to play around your efforts.

So there it is in a nut shell, hope this little example helps you out. Come on back next week, and we will do it again.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Newbie News: Rise of the Eldrazi Spoiler

Q: What is Rise of the Eldrazi?

A: Well M.T.G.(Magic the Gathering) releases new cards in sets. Rise of the Eldrazi is the newest set. Well, actually, it's not out yet.

Q: What is a spoiler?
A: Spoilers are basically a preview for a new set that hasn't come out yet. It tells about new things like cards and other stuff, but mostly cards.
Q: What's new in Rise of the Eldrazi?
A: Rise of the Eldrazi brings several new abilities including: Annihilator, Rebound, Totem Armor, Level Up, Colorless Eldrazi creatures and spells.

So the set is called Rise of the Eldrazi, right? So where's the Eldrazi? Got it right here for ya'. Readers, meet Emrakul. Oh, yeah. LOOK AT THAT BEEF!!! Annihilator means that when the creature attacks, the defender sacrifice's that many permanents.(A permanent is a land, creature, enchantment, planeswalker, or artifact.) That is pretty sweet! And, when it attacks, he has to sac 6 -yes, I said 6- permanents. It doesn't even matter if it does damage, just so it attacks. What the card SHOULD say is: "When you play Emrakul, you win the game." Cuz' that what happens! You might think Emrakul is hard to get, but you can get one at the prerelease just for entering!

Those level up creatures are so AWESOME!!!!! That Student of Warfare is UNBELIEVABLE. A 3/3 first strike that can swing on turn two!? Magic has gone mad. This does also mean that you have put all of your effort into this one guy, but what a guy! Level Up creatures can be found from Commons to Mythics, and everything in between. Leveling has to be done "at Sorcery Speed" (or only during your turn) so knowing if or when is a real skill to develop. But the big man is the awesome Beastbraker of Bala Ged! This dude can become a 6/6 trampler on turn six. They shouldn't be able to do that until turn seven!!! Again, the madness. But, it will have to do.(Giggle)

Rebound is a special ability on spells that let you play them twice. Yes, twice! Just look at Virulant Swipe. When you play it, it makes your creature bigger and gives it Deathtouch. Then, at the beginning of your next turn, you can play it AGAIN for FREE! That is pretty hot! Rebound is a "may" ability, so if you don't want to, you don't have to cast it the second time. For instance, if you cast a rebound spell that kills a creature, and next turn all the creatures are yours, you don't have to kill one of them.
Totem Armor is a new ability that basically enchants a creature with the spirit of an animal.Take Drake Umbra, for instance. Most drakes in Magic are 3/3 fliers. So Drake Umbra gives the creature +3/+3 and flying. But the cool part is that if the creature is destroyed, the animal spirit sacrifices it's life and the enchantment is destroyed, but sadly taking the bonus with it. This prevents the "two for one". When an enchanted creature is destroyed, the enchantment is also destroyed. But with Totem Armor, only the enchantment is destroyed, preventing card advantage for your opponent.

Q: Want to see even more?
A: Of course. Check out the official spoiler from Wizards of the Coast, or the unofficial spoiler provided by MTGSalvation. Oh, and thanks for reading The Newbie News, telling the stuff, so you don't have to.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

March Madness

Another stellar month here at Planeswalker's Stronghold. Not as much content as I normally like, as many folks have been busy, including myself. Despite that, we did have another break through month on readership, with nearly 2200 views for the month, and putting us over 10,000 total views.

We had a great Repack event in the month of March, with old friends coming out, and several new folks also. The current pack mix appears to be working well, and we have far more consistent packs. This improved pack consistency has made the "snow covered" rule less important, as the cards don't appear as frequently, but the current thinking is to keep the rule around as long as Coldsnap is in extended, and then go from there. Aprils pre/release schedule puts April's event right around the corner, so we may see a little slip in attendance, but we will have to see.