The War Report: Gideon’s Signature Spellbook

Last year, Wizards of the Coast introduced a new product line called “Signature Spellbook.” Most of us assumed this was a replacement product for the “From the Vault” series, as the two products provide reprints of older cards. In the case of the vault products, they always had a theme such as “transform” or whatever, and this meant only reprinting cards that made sense for that particular theme. In the case of the Spellbooks, WotC was able to pick iconic characters from Magic’s lore, and reprint a nice set of cards that were already indicative of the character, but with all new art. Each spellbook also includes one additional card — a foil version of any of the cards in the pack. This means you’ll get a total of 9 cards, and if I remember correctly it was priced somewhere around $20, which I found fair. Last year the first spellbook released, and it was all about Jace. This meant the original Jace Planeswalker was packed in, along with 7 other cards that were his signature spells. I picked one up just because I wanted some alternate art counterspells and a nice Mystical Tutor. In the case of this new product, I have a similar desire and will definitely be grabbing this product, which is due out next month (supposed to be released alongside War of the Spark). Behold, Signature Spellbook: Gideon:

The obvious two best cards included here are Path to Exile and Rest in Peace, and I’ll gladly pimp out my Zur deck further by adding those in (he already has the Jace spellbook cards that I could use in the deck as well). Blackblade Reforged is a great sword that I have in my voltron deck so that one will get used as well. I too believe that I have True Conviction in a deck or two, so I’ll find a spot for it. Otherwise, there are some edge cases here. I don’t see myself using the Planeswalker. Worship, Martyr’s Bond and Shielded by Faith are fine, but not great. I still rather enjoy the artwork, and sometimes you sit on cards like these for a while and then end up finding a use for them. It also means that I’m getting extra copies of cards that I can use in future builds, so I definitely see the value in this product and can’t wait to see who they give the treatment to next. I assume for black we’ll get Liliana, Chandra for Red and Nissa for Green, but there are so many cool spells that we’ll get new artwork for I’m sure it will be worth it. Maybe not worth the wait though!

The War Report: Mail Day!

In the past couple of months I’ve mostly spent my M:TG budget on packs and the guild kits from the most recent set. This month I knew I didn’t want to buy more of the same set, instead I decided to pick up some cards for existing decks along with a couple of commanders that I’ve been wanting to build. I think in coming months I’ll get at least a couple of these finished off. “Mail Day!” is a common phrase used in M:TG circles — it’s usually accompanied by a picture of cards that were just delivered via mail. Sometimes people add to it by asking others to guess the commander or other things along those lines. So today, I’m sharing my most recent mail day with you.

My Zur deck is my pride and joy. I love having a deck that is so powerful and full of great (expensive) cards. I’ve seen the judge promo foil before, and I can’t get over how much better this version looks as opposed to the original. I decided I wanted to have a copy of my own to further “pimp out” my deck. I was also technically missing one card: the most expensive fetch land in his colors.  So the new version of Zur and Marsh Flats made it into my tier 1 deck, and I’m happy to say it’s complete. About the only other thing I want to do is get all of his basic lands changed into full art lands (I think I’m missing one or two) and I’d also like to add in a Mana Crypt, but those are fucking expensive so I’m waiting on a reprint. You can see my current list here.

The other two cards that I slotted into a deck right away was Kozilek and Ulamog. They were recently reprinted with Ultimate Masters, and the prices have leveled off lower than they were prior to that printing so I figured now was the time to grab them. I have the newer versions of them both, along with the newer (not banned) Emrakul already in the deck. Jodah now has all of the best Eldrazi in the deck. I also slotted in Captive Audience and Smothering Tithe from the new set, as they just felt appropriate for the deck. You can see the updated list here.

The last three cards I picked up were three new commanders that I want to build. Karador is another competitive build that I shared a while back. I don’t really have many cards for it though, so it will probably be a buy-it-in-pieces kind of deck. The other two however are a bit more budget friendly and since I no longer have a Dimir deck and have never completed a Gruul one, I’d like to get them done sooner than later. Nikya looks to be a fun way to smash face and not really worry about spells (check out my write up here), while Lazav is probably a lower tier deck but still looks like fun (write up).

Another couple of projects I want to work on are Judith and Estrid. I’ll have some more new builds soon enough, because I haven’t brewed anything in a while and another new set is right around the corner.

TWR: Early Modern Horizons and War of the Spark Spoilers

A couple of interesting tidbits hit news feeds in the past couple of weeks. There hasn’t been the official “big product road map announcement” for this year just yet, but three sets have been confirmed. We already know about Core Set 2020 due out in the summer, and the next normal set to round out the Ravnica and Gatewatch story, War of the Spark. We can also assume there will be a Commander 2019 product, but otherwise the rest of the releases for 2019 are unknown. So when we heard what I’m about to talk about, there was some excitement to be had!

Modern Horizons:

Wizards of the Coast announced a new “modern focused” set that includes cards that will skip standard legality. We’re expecting a bunch of new cards specifically designed for the modern format, but we can rest assured there will be great cards for EDH/Commander as well. Reprints are rumored to be “nothing that’s currently modern-legal” so perhaps they will be legacy reprints? If so that is some potentially awesome news for Commander players along with those playing the other formats. So far we’ve only seen two spoilers, and they are interesting cards:

The Cabal Therapist is definitely a modern focused card. I don’t really see many EDH applications unless you’re doing a lot of “show me your hand” effects to really make use of this creature’s ability. Still a pretty decent card. The Serra Planeswalker is a pretty cool idea, taking a card we’ve known since the beginning and giving it a legendary treatment. It actually looks like a great fit in Kaalia or other Angel EDH decks, just because it’s pretty on theme and can keep you in the game if you get targeted. The set it supposed to release within the next couple of months, and it appears to be the Modern Masters replacement. I hope it brings some powerful cards.

War of the Spark:

The other big news was concerning the next expansion, War of the Spark. There was a teaser video that showed a bunch of Planeswalkers done up as stained glass windows not too long ago, and then WotC told us that every single one of those Planeswalkers will be present in the new set.

Unfortunately they will not look this cool — they specifically said that the stained glass art would not be on the cards in the set. However, there were a total of 36 given this treatment, and it turns out that all of them are cards we’ve seen before. It’s unclear if there will be reprints or new versions, but they did say that there will be a Planeswalker in every pack, much like there were legendaries in Dominaria. I’m torn on the idea. Planeswalkers were supposed to be something you only saw here and there, are are less likely to see play unless they fit a deck’s theme or you’re running superfriends. Some are very powerful — I’m sure most of you playing Arena are sick of seeing Teferi, Hero of Dominaria over and over. I think stuffing this many into a set could take away some of the magic that makes Planeswalkers special. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens there. This set is supposed to be out next month, so spoilers will be coming soon enough. I’ll be covering that as soon as it happens.

Until then.

TWR: Ravnica Allegiance Guild Kits

It was announced with Ravnica: Allegiance that shortly after the release of the set we’d see guild kits for the next five corresponding guilds. This happened with Guilds of Ravnica as well, where the other five guilds got their own guild kits. For whatever reason I wasn’t too keen on picking those up, but the new color pairings had more I was interested in. The guild kits are a neat little package. Each comes with a two color 60 card deck containing reprints of cards from the other two Ravnica blocks along with some inclusions from the current set. Also packed in are deck boxes, dice, pins and stickers featuring that guild’s logo and a foil alternate art version of a previously released Legendary creature.

I decided to pick up a bundle of all five that I got for a good deal on Amazon, and they arrived a couple of days ago. Pictured above, you can see the alternate art cards along with the pins. I really wanted to grab these because there are a ton of cool reprints that aren’t necessarily expensive to get singles of, but I like the alternate art cards, and the extra accessories are a nice added bonus. I’m not going to go into specifics about the full deck lists, but there are a few cards I wanted to highlight just because they are awesome additions to my collection and/or cards I had on my wishlist. You can however see the full decklists here.

The dice this time around aren’t as cool as they were for the last five guilds, with some having colors that don’t make sense. The pins and stickers are great though — the pins have already found their way onto my backpack that I use to transport Magic stuff when I go places to play, but I haven’t decided what to do with the stickers just yet. Next, I’ll highlight some of the cards that are going to be immediately useful:

First of all, the new basic lands with the guild themed artwork are amazing. These can be spread about multiple EDH decks as most don’t use that many basic lands. Next, there are the cycles of signets, charms, and keyrunes that are great additions to any collection as they will be used in multiple decks. The new alternate art generals are great too, plus foil so they can replace non-foil versions if you already have them, or can just get you an extra copy for another deck. The following are some cards that I felt deserved a few words, but that doesn’t mean these are the only useful cards in these decks. They just seem to be cards that I think I’ll find a use for in existing decks and projects.

Isperia, Supreme Judge. Isperia is an Azorius Sphinx, and there are plenty of these to be found throughout Magic’s history. I actually brewed an EDH deck around Sphinxes but next got around to building it. Perhaps with the additional ammo that has come from recent sets I may revisit the idea. Either way, this card is at home in control and pillowfort decks that want to discourage you from being attacked. I’m not sure I’d use this card as my general, probably opting for Azor, the Lawbringer instead, but Isperia would still hold a place in the 99.

Rakdos, Lord of Riots. I already have this version of Rakdos in my Kaalia deck, and just want this alternate art foil to replace the basic version. I do think that I can find a place for this extra copy though.

Ruric Thar, the Unbowed. I brewed a Gruul deck not that long ago and Ruric was part of the 99. He’s a beast of a creature and I think he’d even make a swell general, but I’m going to throw him into that deck for now.

Teysa, Orzhov Scion. The older version of Teysa is still pretty damn good, and seems to be a viable addition to the newer Teysa deck that I brewed recently. I think that I’ll try it out, if not I think she might slot into the Daxos token deck I am working on. Further testing needed.

Zegana, Utopian Speaker. This is the only alternate art foil that’s actually a new card and not a reprint. This card released with the new set, and given that my merfolk deck is simic, this card slots right in. The +1/+1 counter shenanigans were already a part of that deck but that part of the strategy keeps getting bolstered so I’m going to roll with it. Not sure what I’m going to cut at this point, but I’ll figure it out.

Ghost Council of Orzhova. I like this card for my Oloro lifegain deck. It could work with Aminatou’s blinking theme too, but I think it fits Oloro better. I’ve thought about buying this card for a while, so now I finally have it.

Dovescape. Another great control card in Azorius colors, but could also be something I throw into my Estrid stax deck just for additional control if needed — this sounds like it could work well particularly if I get her chain veil and plus ability combo going for big mana. I should be able to flood my board with tokens.

Pontiff of Blight. I love the extort ability, and this guy gives all of your creatures extort. Not sure where I’ll put him, but it’s going somewhere for sure.

Debtors’ Knell. A great reanimator card, I’ve included this in several brews without owning a copy. Now I do.

Master of Cruelties. I have a copy of this guy in my Kaalia deck, and he can put in some work, along with being able to cheat around his limitation of attacking alone. I think I’ll easily find another deck that can use him.

Birds of Paradise. Surprisingly enough, I don’t own a copy of this card, and it’s a staple mana dork. I’ll have this in a deck quickly.

Zhur-Taa Druid. Another mana dork that does some damage while giving you mana. It seems likely to find a place in a deck.

Borborygmos. This guy just looks like a solid beater that can give out counters. In a deck that cares about counters in these colors, it’s a great way to get ahead.

Protean Hulk. Too bad he’s banned in EDH. The things I could do with this guy.

Vorel of the Hull Clade. I’ve wanted a copy of Vorel for a long while now. He’s got an interesting ability that let’s you double up counters on a creature, artifact or land. This obviously works best with creatures, but there are edge cases to be made. Being a merfolk, I think I’ll be slotting him into my merfolk deck just to be able to do more with +1/+1 counters.

Momir Vig, Simic Visionary. He’s kind of like the older version of Prime Speaker Vannifar. They both let you do some tutoring but do so in different ways. I’m not sure what I’ll do with him, but he’s an interesting card. Perhaps a new deck is in order.

Simic Ascendancy. This is one of those alternate wincons that rarely work but are kind of like an achievement if you can get it to. I think I might put this in my merfolk deck, unless I find another deck better suited for it.

That’s all I wanted to highlight today. If you like any of these particular color combinations I’d recommend grabbing that guild kit, because the value you’ll get is worth more than the asking price. I love getting a good deal on ways to bolster my collection, because the brewing is endless in this household.

Life in 2019

It’s been a couple of months since I did an IRL check-in and because the amount of blogging I’ve been doing has tapered off a bit, I thought I’d take some time on my Sunday evening (which is actually Wednesday, but such is life when you work at a 24 hour establishment) to talk a little bit about what’s been going on. First, a quick recap:

We decided to move away from LA due to crazy cost of living to a more inland location which is a place I had lived a good portion of my life. This happened back in September of 2018. We knew that we were going to move by the end of December, and though I started looking for work starting back in September, I didn’t really get much in the way of progress going until December, in which I took a few days off of work to come out here and have some interviews. I essentially applied and had the interview for my current job all within the same month, but I didn’t have any solid answers about if I actually got the position by the time we had moved out here. Things were tense. Money was tight.

I kept looking for work, but then in mid-January I was called by my current employer who asked me to go in for a drug test. I was told I would be contacted by Backgrounds next, but the call didn’t come for a couple of anxious weeks. Once I received that call it was time to produce documents, get finger printed and jump through any other hoops they deemed necessary. Thankfully I passed all of the tests and was hired at the beginning of this month, and well, that should explain some of my absence.

I work a graveyard/early morning shift. The position is salary so there are days when I get to go home early and still get paid for my eight hours, which is a plus. There’s paid benefits, retirement, etc. The hours aren’t great but the salary is decent and cost of living is way down compared to where we were, so all in all its a move in the right direction. My girlfriend has managed to get some income as well, so we are doing well again, and the stress that I had has been relieved. My schedule however is another beast. I’m pretty much used to it by now, but it is a daunting task to go to bed in the afternoon. Sometimes I come home and take a nap followed by a waking period followed by another nap before I get up at 2 am to head in to the job. Other times I stay up until the evening and then get one bigger chunk of sleep. Neither has really been a preference, and being able to have that flexibility means I can always get things done or sleep, whichever comes first.

So bottom line, I appreciate your patience with me, I hope to get back into the swing of things, but blogging on the regular is hard when you don’t have as much time to play games to blog about. I had one advantage at my last job and that was the ability to occasionally blog at work, which will never happen here. It’s not a big deal though, I have had major life changes many times over the life of this blog, so I know I’ll settle into a new routine and find the balance once again. I haven’t had as much time to game/blog, but I have been doing some stuff, so I’ll break that down for you now, as it should outline near future posts.

I didn’t have the financial ability to attend the prerelease for Ravnica: Allegiance due to the above described scenario, but having an income again means the ability to dink and dunk my way into more Magic Cards. I still have a dozen or so decks in the works and I’m always finding cards from the new sets to brew around, or cards to add to my existing decks. As such, I purchased a Fat Pack, the Guild Kits and some extra packs from the new set, and I’m happy with the purchase. I happened into Teysa Karlov and Judith, the Scourge Diva which are two decks I’ve written about recently wanting to build, and the guild kits are excellent ways to supplement your collection along with packing in cool dice, stickers and pins. My girl also got me one of those mystery cubes they sell at the box stores and I got a handful of cool cards out of that as well.

I started a big MTG card organization project. I had done this is the past where I separated all of my commons/uncommons into boxes based on colors and took the rares/mythics out and put them into a binder. Over the course of the last few sets, I acquired a good amount of cards that I had thrown into a single box and needed to sort through. I completed step one of this today by getting those commons/uncommons into their appropriate boxes, and now the other box has mainly EDH staples and things I see myself actually using in it. Next up is going through those cards to put them into current decks and those in progress. Then I’ll have to pick the next deck I want to finish and purchase the singles necessary, though I have a wishlist a mile long for singles as it is, just to have them while they’re less expensive than they’ll eventually be.

On the gaming front, I’ve been crawling my way through Resident Evil 2, and haven’t played as much as I would have liked. I intend to play more this evening. It’s been a blast from the past so far, and I intend to share my thoughts once I complete both Leon and Claire’s campaigns. I’ve also played more Apex Legends, but not as much as my best friend. I went to his house the other day and we were taking turns on his account and rolled over level 26, while I’m a lowly 13. Apparently I’ve created a monster, as I was level 4 or 5 when I first saw him jump on. We’ve found another of our local friends that plays as well, so I might just have a dedicated team of three to play with so that’s promising. I have a pretty good knowledge of the map at this point and have had a few dozen kills spread about a few characters. Still have only managed one win to this point though, but I’ve been top 5 multiple times.

A while back on Twitter I bitched about wanting my job to start because I had RE2 and Magic cards and Anthem to buy, and obviously I accomplished the former two things, but I haven’t pulled the trigger on Anthem yet. I still think it looks like a great game, but there has been a fair share of positive and negative reviews along with plenty of opinion on how it could be better or why it’s the worst. I’m completely torn about it at this point, mainly because it’s a $60 title. I could justify buying it with my next pay check, and though some bloggers I trust have said good things, I’ve also fallen into this trap before with games like No Man’s Sky or Monster Hunter World. I don’t want to end up regretting the purchase, so I’m still on the fence. Plus, I haven’t completed the last two Bioware games, Dragon Age: Inquisition and Mass Effect: Andromeda are still on my hard drive ready to go… perhaps I should finish them first?

Honestly, I don’t know what’s going to happen. At this point I’m just enjoying myself as much as possible in my free time, and I’m hoping to get more settled to where I can blog more often and potentially podcast again. Thanks for hanging out while I checked-in. Happy gaming, where ever you find yourself.