Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The First Week of HATE

Due to other commitments, only 2 people turned up for the first practice week of the Highly Antagonistic Tournament Event. Disappointing, but at least if that continues, working out the maths on the prize winners should be easy ;)

They played three games, using three different teams each. The first game;


Thor 150 fast forces
Loki 150 fast forces
300 points Asgardian theme team.
I'm not a fan of this team. It might be ok taking down a tentpole, but if the tentpole is able to take down Loki while a tie-up piece holds off Thor, then that's probably all she wrote. Equally, a balanced team probably tears Thor apart before Loki can do any good. Also, if Thor gets hit to his mid-dial, his stats are a little poor til he takes more damage. So a couple of well timed hits can mess up his day.

Nightcrawler 86 web of spider-man
Atrocitus 202 dc75th
288 points.
Again, this team is not so hot. I'm a fan of Atrocitus, but he can be beat down if swarmed. Also, Nightcrawler seems to not have much of a role in this team. Bringing people to the already mobile Atrocitus? Nightcrawler is good, but needs to be taking targets back to something that can kill the target in one turn.
The Asgardians won this game. I believe this being due to Nightcrawler not pulling his weight. Still, an interesting pair of teams.

Next game;

Benjamin J Grimm 100 secret invasion
Reed Richards 100 secret invasion
Sue Storm 100 secret invasion
300 points Fantastic Four


The LE Fantastic Four. I don't like either version of the Human Torch, so I'm not surprised to see him absent here. Sue is better than the Invisible Woman as a secondary attacker, and her trait is gravy when it works. Reed and Mr. Fantastic are comparable, the choice comes down to wanting Outwit or the +2 Perplex. Ben, however, is the weak link. Giving the team Toughness is nice, but The Thing is a much better primary attacker, which is what the team needs. Get the balance right, and the team is Primary Attacker, Secondary Attacker and Support Piece. But for that to work, all three need to be the optimum choices.

Jason Blood 44 brave and bold
Sinestro 249 dc75th
293 points
This is the epitome of tent-polling. A piece whose sole role is to tear the enemy apart,  and a figure who is there simply to provide re-rolls. A mid and final click of a power that stops damage and gives access to Regeneration makes Sinestro hard to take down. Jason Blood has the option of turning into The Demon, giving you a Secondary Attacker as well. This looks like the team to beat.
And it was, Sinestro took no damage (did I mention he has Quintessence) while demolishing the Fantastic Four. Even Jason was pretty much unscathed.

The final game;

Hogun 100 fast forces
Fandral 100 fast forces
Volstagg 100 fast forces
300 points Warriors Three
Like with the LE Fantastic Four, the problem I have with these guys is the original versions. While it's nice that this Volstagg gains Charge, and the special power on their final clicks is nice, the loss of Fandral's Outwit hurts them. I've played these guys against the originals plenty of times and the originals always win. I guess that doesn't make these guys bad, just not what I'd field.

The Atom 50 dc75th
Steve Rogers 99 captain america
Kilowog 145 green lantern
294 points Soldier
Steve is pretty good, but I think he's better at the core of a team built to benefit fully from his trait. Kilowog, on the other hand, is a beast. I'm yet to be disappointed in him. The Atom seems like filler, a slot that others can try for in the limited points left. With practice and tweaking, this team might be ok.
The Warriors Three won, though a lot of that was inability to hit when they were on thier final clicks. How much of that was luck and how much of that was stats remains to be seen.

So, a couple of potential teams have been eliminated. Hopefully, next week more players will show up and the metagame will open up. Equally, if the late-comers have read this post, they know what to expect and what the teams to beat are. Let's see what happens next week.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

HATE

Due to being highly sort after by our many local fans of Nextwave, I've been inspired to come up with a great tournament series for the leader of the Highest Anti Terrorism Effort

Highly Antagonistic Tournament Event

As he is locally highly sought, Dirk Anger as convinced me to run a competitive series of tournaments for the "Succesful" Dirk Anger LE. So here is how it will run:-

All tournaments in the series are 300 points Modern Age

Week 1:-
The first practice week, bring any number of teams, 3 rounds practicing competetive play.
Week 2:-
The second practice week, same formula as the first, as you try and adapt to the percieved metagame.
Week 3:-
The final practice week, same formula as the previous two, but at the end of this one you must register your final team.
Week 4:-
The 1st week of competition, 3 rounds played.
Week 5:-
The 2nd and final week of competition, 3 rounds played.

Whoever gets the most wins over the 6 rounds of the final two weeks wins not only the LE, but a Scorpio Key special object. If there is a tie for wins, then most points within the tie gets the prize.
After the winner of the series is determined, whoever amongst the remaining players has scored the most points wins the LE.

That's two chances to win, so scoring points is as important as winning games. Go forth, in the name of HATE!!!


Each week I'll post details of what's been going on and critique on the teams used.  Checking these posts will be a good way of getting a jump on the metagame, or ideas for improving your team before the final registration. Wonder if the players will catch on to that...

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Nationals Disaster - the true story

So, back from Nationals, with the sour taste of multiple defeats still fresh in my mouth. I've submitted a report to mtgUK, but thought I owed my regular readers (do I actually have any?) the real story. This is my blog and I reserve the right to rant and be emo :P


This year, the GB Nationals were held in Sheffield. Four days of gaming, trading and meeting people in the Ponds Forge sports hall. This marks my third visit to the Nationals tournament, and I sucked balls this year. Here are my tournament reports.

Thursday

The afternoon was our attempt at qualifying. Enough people entered that the top 18 would make it into the Nationals. Most of our group did well, with one of us (Dan Eggle) coming in 19th. My personal performance was poor...

STANDARD LCQ
Played mono-White Quest. http://www.essentialmagic.com//decks/View.asp?ID=884574

Round 1
I've lost my paper notes,so I have no idea who the opponent was. He was playing U/B control. Crushing loss for me.
0-2 (0-1)

Round 2
Ben Flounder. He played Green/White/Black Pod. Crushing loss again.
0-2 (0-2)

I wasn't playing well at all. I was keeping hands I shouldn't have and throwing away games. I haven't been feeling happy with the deck since the Regionals. I'd been considering switching to Vampires but upon testing both decks, suddenly Quest was working. Despite a good performance the previous weekend at FNM and the M12 Game Day, I sat down with next to no confidence in the deck. 0-2 drop. Not the correct attitude for an LCQ. A result of the massive slump I've let myself get into and something I need to rectify.

Friday

I spoke to friends and visited the traders, then entered an Generic Grand Prix Trial, with the format being Extended.

GENERIC GPT – EXTENDED
Played original Jund. http://www.essentialmagic.com/Decks/View.asp?ID=888886

Round 1
Richard Bryce playing mono-Black. Game one, Sprouting Thrinax and Raging Ravine got there, with help from Garruk Wildspeaker's Overrun. Phyrexian Obliterator got played to stop me, but like all good Jund players, i had Maelstrom Pulse in hand.
Game 2 he mulled to 5, and didn't recover from his early mana screw. Blightning probably didn't help
2-0 (1-0)

Round 2
Rob Wagner playing Caw-Blade. Recognized his name when I saw it on the pairings. He writes for mtgUK, as was confirmed by both his t-shirt and asking him. Game one he crushed me with a Batterskull. Game two, we hard a hard, long fight. I eventually won that one. Ten minutes left for game three, he took it down.
1-2 (1-1)

Round 3
Dan Griffiths playing Dark-Blade. Game one is a cake walk. His life total goes 20-16-13-5-dead. I end the game on 14. Game two I'm hit by a flurry of discard spells and go down fighting. Game three, i crush him again. I think the standard blue-white is better against me.
2-1 (2-1)

Round 4
Craig Barnes playing Caw-Blade. Pretty similar to the match against Rob Wagner, but didn't take as long. Seems this deck is a weakness.
1-2 (2-2)

Round 5
Mark Pinder, playing Jund feat Demigod. I pull out game one with the standard beatdown plan. Game two and three i get him to 10 with him beating me, game 2 off the back off chameleon colossus.
1-2 (2-3)

Probably should have done better. Need more practice/tweaking with the deck but no-one locally cares about the format. Could be a lot happier with the result, but feel OK for a GPT at a high level venue. My biggest mistake, over the lack of testing, was calling an audible. I had a Green/White list built, that had won the Extended LCQ for the Italian Nationals. However, my experience in Standard had me craving a deck that was familiar and comfortable rather than one that had potential. While I love Jund with an unnatural passion, it's probable that the new deck was better positioned for a Caw-Blade metagame. I didn't even try and tweak Jund to take Caw-Blade into account.

For reference, here is the other list:-
http://www.essentialmagic.com/Decks/View.asp?ID=883839

Sunday

After a relaxed Saturday, it was time for one final day of Nationals. A group of us had decided to enter the Legacy Championships.

LEGACY CHAMPIONSHIPS
played Eva green http://www.essentialmagic.com/Decks/View.asp?ID=882866

Round 1
Ben Coleman wearing a judge badge and playing Hive Mind. My first turn Dark Ritual into Hymn to Tourach discarded a basic land and a Pact of the Titan. Big clue there to what he is playing. Used Sinkhole, Beast Within and Wastelands to keep him mana screwed. He discarded an Emrakul to shuffle his lands back in, but couldn't recover before i beat him to death. Game two i was getting in the beats and land disruption, got him to 4 life before he cast Hive Mind and Pact of the Titan for the win. Leyline of Sanctity left me a hand full of Thoughtseizes and Inquisition of Kozileks. Interesting chat during sideboarding about using Manamorphose as sideboard tech to pay for the pact costs. Game three he again has opening Leyline of Sanctity and combos off really early. The turn he wins i cast Beast Within, which would have killed the leyline. If he'd been a turn slower I'd have been in with a chance.
1-2 (0-1)

Round 2
Alistair Kennady playing NO-RUG. Game 1 we had a creature battle as i kept him off Natural Order. Dark Confidant gave me card advantage and a well timed Dismember allowed me to get in for lethal. Game two we got deck checked. My deck was fine, while he got a warning for writing Scalding instead of Scalding Tarn on his sheet. He won the creature battle that game. Game three he cast Natural Order and i couldn't stop him. Progenitus killed me.
1-2 (0-2)

Round 3
Andrew Jagger playing Zoo. Met Andrew last year at London Nats. He stomped me to death both games. As in standard, Vampire Nighthawk carries a Lightning Bolt magnet on his back. My answers were too slow.
0-2 (0-3)

Round 4
Had the bye. Spent the round playing against Dan Eggle who had built Battle of Wits but was unable to make it to the tournament on time. Went 1-1 against him. Game one he beat me to death with the Thopter Foundry/Sword of the Meek combo. Game two i hit enough disruption and large guys. We still need to have a game three at some point. Luckily he is one of the players that came up with us from Plymouth.
1-1 technically (1-3)

Round 5
Dan Perkins playing Boros Slivers. Shame to meet one of our locals on such a bad record. Game one he beats me to death with fast Slivers and removal spells. Game two i have enough removal and get some Vampire Nighthawks online while he is mana screwed allowing me to run away with the game. Game three is close, but he is flooding and i take control of the game. Dark Confidant is starting to kill me. I pop Pernicious Deed for two to stop Dark Confidant killing me and remove his lone blocker so Tarmogoyf can get in for lethal. Then remember Tarmogoyf costs 2 as well. Savage misplay. Luckily I'm able to recover with a double Beast Within on my own lands while he can never get more than one Sliver in play.
2-1 (2-3)

Round 6
Amar Dattini paying NO-RUG. I'd seem him playing in the Legacy GPT the day before, where i had seen him beat two of my friends with Progenitus. Game one i fought hard to keep the hydra from appearing and died to a swathe of Tarmogoyfs. Game two he found a window to cast Natural Order and i lost to the hydra again.
0-2 (2-4)

My record could have been a lot better, but i enjoyed this legacy tournament a lot more than the other i played in 2 years ago (10-Land Green). Want to tweak the deck a little, especially in the sideboard. Definitely a deck to work on and improve with, while i trade for cards to splash out into a more Rock/Junk build. This was my best tournament of the weekend, despite the bad result. Need more practice against the popular decks of Legacy and also want to change some of the cards in my sideboard. Choke doesn't seem to do much against the field. 

Basic solution to my suckitude: take a break from playing. There are no major constructed events between now and the release of Innistrad. Next month's FNM promo is Teetering Peaks, which I don't need due to the Premium Deck - Fire & Lightning. This will give me some time off without worrying about what I'm going to play each week, or if my deck is still good enough. Then I can re-focus as rotation hits. The overall goal is to do much better at next years Nationals. 

So, that's the challenge. Do better at next years Nationals. Through research, playtesting and hopefully regular writing for mtgUk as well as maintaining this blog more frequently. I want to either qualify next year, or at least walk away from the LCQ feeling like I had a shot. Then, Top 8 a decent side event if there is the chance to play in one.

I will do better....

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Dynamic Duo

After two months off, and in the crucial fortnight leading up to MTG Nationals, I'm back.

Recently Heroclix has seen the release of the Captain America set. We've started the tournament series, and this week was 300 points Modern Age. So I built a team I've been hesitant about playing for a while.

See, after my review of Sinestro from DC75, I really liked the figure. Shortly thereafter, however, I had the opportunity to trade him for the Iron Man/War Machine duo figure. This was a character pairing I really wanted to obtain, but they came with a problem. At 300 points, the are a one-figure-army. Not really my preferred style of figure. But I do really like War Machine as a character and we didn't recieve him as a Free Comic Book Day figure. So, as much as I've wanted to try them, I held off.

This week showed how perfectly awesome they are.

Round One

Played against:-
Nick Fury (cap)
Maria Hill (cap)
Kitty Pride (cap)

Somehow, I won map choice, and since we are limiting ourselves to the Cap maps, I chose one end of the Helicarrier. This was a worrying game, as his team had range, Psychic Blast, Outwit and plenty of damage. However, no move and attack meant I was largely able to outmaneuver the team and take them out. Took 4 damage from one soak ignoring hit though(!)

Round Two

Played against:-
The Parademon (B&B)
Parademon Drill Sergeant (B&B)
and enough Parademon Grunts (B&B) to fill the points (4 i think).

This time, fighting on the other end of the Helicarrier, I took to the high ground, one-shotting a Parademon Grunt on the way. This was a push, meaning I was open for 2 full turns. By the time I had cleared, due to a combination of their combat values and my Impervious, the Duo had taken 1 damage. One activation of their All-Out Assault trait, and all but The Parademon were dead. Finishing him off was easy.

Round Three

Hulk (GSX)
Wolverine (GSX)

The Horsemen of the Apocalypse. This was over far too quickly. An Outwit and a Running Shot onto Elevated Terrain did 4 damage to Hulk. Wolverine bases the Duo. An Outwit and a Duo Attack KO him. Hulk bases the Duo. An Outwit and a Duo Attack KO him. Nuff said.

Still not a fan of teams where all the eggs are in one basket, but this pair nearly have me convinced.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Deathwatch Session 4

Welcome to the forth session of Deathwatch...

For easy reference I'm going to start using character names.

Brother Griswald, the Black Templars Sergeant
Brother Yoric, the Space Wolves Assault Marine
Brother Rathan, the Blood Angels Assault Marine
Brother Drake, the Dark Angels Devastator Marine
Brother Loker, the Dark Angels Apothecary.

The Planetary Govenor takes us to the Astropath's tower. Letting us in to see her, we set up a message to be relayed to the nearest Imperial Fleet and to our masters in the Deathwatch.

No sooner is the message being sent when we are attacked by hordes of cultists coming through the walls. Yoric uses his Flamer to attack one, backed up by Drake's Heavy Bolter. Their return fire dealt him some damage, but only just clipped Yoric in the arm.

Our fight goes well, but I trigger Psychic Phenomena, nearly knocking myself unconcious. Luckily, I manage to make my Willpower roll. We soon reduce the 3 hordes to their leaders, which prove to be just as little trouble.

The Astropath gets the message out, and we discover where the Broodlord's nest is. We plan our method of getting there and rest to remove our fatigue. The nest is under a Promethium Factory in the heart of enemy territory.

En route, we pick up a distress call from some nearby PDF in a pub. We reconnoitre the area and discover a cultist stronghold with several hordes and some Heavy Stubber teams. After missing 3 times, Loker finally fells one of the gunners, and the Assault Marines charge over to the other two nests. Drake opens up one one of the hordes, damn near killing half of them. The combat goes pretty succesfully, but due to time considerations, we take on the other areas of the stronghold next session.....

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Spring Dawning

So, as of tomorrow, 15th May, Heroclix Modern Age reaches rotation again. The fact that Neca have retired sets shows that they are going to keep with the annual practice, which took a longer hiatus than the break between owners.

So, this time around we lose four sets, the first major sets with cards for the figures. This is also an important quartet of sets to lose because they take with them the major colossal figures. The ones from Giant Sized X-Men are far fairer to play against, compared to the likes of Galactus and the Sinestro Corps Anti-Monitor. These sets are:-

Avengers
Justice Leagure
Monsters and Mutations
Crisis

While we still have plenty of legal sets and figures within Modern Age, it is with mixed feelings that we say goodbye to these sets. Let's go through the figures I will miss and the figures I am glad to see the back of.

Avengers
They shall be missed;
Captain America
His sculpt was awful, but he was a potent 100 point fighter. Much maligned on the internet for his potato head, I always found him to be worth the points.
The Young Avengers
Most of this team leaves before we get a Speed to go with them. That's a shame, especially given the recent sets giving us full teams.
The Invaders
Another them leaving, this time a much more playable one. They were especially good during the 5 weeks of Sealed Booster play that happened for the set.
Winter Soldier
The inspiration for the title of this post, and possibly the figure I've used the most from these four sets. 70 points gets you the most lethal sniper the game has ever seen. This is the figure I'm going to miss most, but he shall be replaced in the Captain America set by a new dial and his Bucky-Cap sculpt.
The Heralds of Galactus
We fought long and hard over 5 weeks for these bad boys. All of them are pretty good in their own right. These events are also the start of my judging career, so I also have the alternate Judge promo versions.
Glad they are gone;
Moon Knight
So, these were the first figures in a main set with special powers. And if this guy uses his Perplex, it damages him. Which them removes the stat bonus... Somebody dropped the ball when designing that power, and he received no errata to fix him. It's a sham because he was otherwise good for his points.
The Liberators
No wonder these guys lost the fight. Not only does this set supply the only two members of this team the game has seen so far, but it also gives them such terrible stats. It's like the designers wanted them to auto lose any fight. They even made one of the two a Super Rare :(
Galactus
Identical dial to the original version, but being able to make one less action a turn makes hin weaker. Also, something is wrong with the paint on these. If kept in the box, the paint melts onto the plastic. This was still happening to them a year later. Mine isn't sticky anymore, but I don't keep it confined either.

Justice League
They shall be missed;
Hector Hammond
He looks like Richard Nixon, and if you hit him for just enough damage he becomes 0 move. This allows you to spend the rest of the game dancing just out of his range while he can do nothing about it. And he looks like Richard Nixon.
Justice Legion A
A cool team, pointed to make a variety of teams at a variety of points level, it was a shame that all but one of these guys was Super Rare. They were cool enough to make me get they comics they are from,  to find out more about them.
Starro
He had some interesting abilities, especially his healing ones. Shame that his dial was too strong for the points, especially if your opponent is unprepared
Glad they are gone;
Batman
Overrated and overused. We had five weeks of sealed, where he dominated because he was common and the map for the events was covered in the hindering terrain he needs. After that, we quickly adapted and he was never a problem again. In fact, no-one got much decent use out of the character until his Arkham Asylum versions were produced. Glad he is gone though, because as easy as it is to deal with him, it makes it no less annoying to see him every round in a tournament.
Parasite
Overcosted and doesn't do anything. His powers are badly worded and confusing to use. Then, in the next set they produce the Super-Adaptoid with the same special powers for the same points. However, the Super-Adaptoid also has other powers and abilites, which Parasite doesn't.
Deadman
See Parasite above but replace confusing with cool and Super-Adaptoid with Jericho.
The Starro Slaves
Cheap versions of the characters makes them weak versions of the characters. Also, the only thing that lets you know they are slaves of Starro is the starfish over their faces on the sculpts. They have no powers to represent this and keyword via the Justice League of America keyword. Seems like a missed opportunity.

Mutations and Monsters
They shall be missed
The Cuckoos
Awesome special powers gives a team with built in synergy. I ran these guys at the last Nationals and they are awesome.
The Marvel Zombies
A chance for those of us who didn't get hold of the original chases to play the team. They are also pretty good, if you pretend Iron Man doesn't exist.
Professor X
Cerebro is an awesome special power, and he is especially good with the Cuckoos. He also has range 12.
Glad they are gone;
The Hood
He doesn't do anything. He is 28 points of do nothing. I know he was made before the character became a powerful mob boss with help from Dormmamu, but surely he wasn't worth doing like this. Might as well wait for a time he would be more relavant then give him this dial. He doesn't even fit the themes of the set.
Warbound
I'll admit I used this feat at Nationals, but that was the problem. It was broken. Somebody figured out how to use it to hide behind a Barrier every turn. I used it to make Hypersonic Speed attacks with the same figure every turn. I broke a fundamental rule of the game, 2 actions in every three turns, without giving a drawback. Glad feats are gone from the game as it's harder to regulate what figures they will be used on.

Crisis
They shall be missed;
The Metal Men 
A cool team, glad to see them all make a set. They were even quite playable if used carefully.
Darkseid
A little overplayed, but just the right power level for his points, and beatable unless used properly. Not an auto win piece, but hard to lose with.
Psycho-Pirate
At Nationals I used him to back up the Cuckoos and I wasn't disappointed. A tie-up piece with Mind Control and great defensive powers. His -2 Perplex is also amazing.
Batman
Azrael as Batman, awesome sculpt and ok dial.
The Teen Titans
So, my favourite DC team. This set gave it some awesome figures. And then at Nationals my 1st boosted for sealed had a complete team of them. It's a shame so many are leaving Modern Age, but DC75th gave us some awesome figures to replace them on the roster.
Glad they are gone;
The Royal Flush Gang
The whole team is here, and they are rubbish. I'm not sure who's foes they are meant to be but I feel like nearly any good guy figure could take them on single handedly, let alone with back up.
Star Sapphire
So it mentions in the background on the card that there is a Star Sapphire Corps. This is fine, she was made after this was revelaed in the comics. They are since made two more members of this corps. So why has she got no keywords? She can't even theme with the Injustice League as suggested by her team ability. There doesn't seem to be a reason for this, which really let the figure down, especially since the Blackest Night pack came out.

Mourn for the allies we have lost. Rejoice for the foes that are gone. The battlefield of Modern Age has changed and we have more recruits coming this year...   

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Foreshadowing Revisited

So, it's a week and a half since I set myself the task of 7 posts in one week. How did I do?

Not well.

For a myriad of reasons, I only managed 3 of the 7 articles. Taking it from the top:-

Building A Legacy - I will attempt to write this article later this week. I'm making steady progress and want to discuss the methodology behind what deck I am building and how I am going about it.

Leak Gets 4 for 1 - This was an astounding success. Not only did I get the article written they way I wanted, I even got it published on a UK magic site.

http://www.manaleak.com/mtguk/

Basically, when I linked it on Facebook, I was asked by the person who runs Manaleak if they could run it as an article. I said yes, they edited it, addded pictures and published it. This makes me happy, but also makes me want to ensure that any further magic posts I make are good enough to get published. We shall see if I can continue to meet that high standard.

Standard Report - I've got to be honest, my last couple of standard tournaments were terrible and as a consequence, I haven't played in a month. I think this article should wait until I get some NPH play under my belt, to see if I'm in a slump or if the metagame has turned against my deck.

#banJace - I've left it a little late to discuss this topic. I'm not convinced I want to dedicate time to talk about the pros and cons of banning Jace, especially when I don't personally care either way. I'll leave it to the myriad of people out there that write articles and champion one side or the other.

Deathwatch - It took two weeks, but I got the article written. The delay wasn't actually my fault, and I wrote a filler article to replace it. I'm not convinced by the writing style for it, but will attempt to improve on that as the sessions go on.

Winds of Change - This article was written, and I feel it was fine. I let the link explain the changes, while I went over what they meant for my players.

Spring Dawning - This is the biggest failure on my part. This article should be fairly easy to write, but I kept letting other stuff get in the way. Hopefully I can also get this one done this week.

So, it was technically three and a half out of seven done. A little disappointing, but at least it's a start. Maybe I was a little ambitious, but by setting a big goal I managed to set up a precedent. Now I have to try and post three articles a week minimum. It even nicely segregates into one for each of the main themes for my posts. Hopefully I can maintain that momentum going forward.

So this week:-

Deathwatch - wherein I recount the third session of this game. Already posted this entry, and the result (spoiler alert :p) is that Genestealers nearly kill us all...

Spring Dawning - wherein I look at what figures Modern Age Heroclix loses with next weeks retirement.

Building A Legacy - wherein I explain the process behind my chosen Legacy Magic decks.

Deathwatch Session 3

Well, on to the session....


We entered the Warehouse, wandering the corridors. Making our way around crates filled with Lasguns, we came to a T-junction. The Sarge suggests splitting the team into two groups so we can explore both directions efficiently. One Combat Squad comprising of Sarge, the Apothecary and the Blood Angel, meanwhile I'm put in charge of the  Devastator and the Space Wolf.

We head left, while the other group head right. Sarge's group travel for 10 minutes before their Auspex gets a ping. There is a group of life forms coming up behind them. Led by an Officer with a Power Weapon and a Plasma Pistol right into the Apothecary's sights. He fires his Boltgun on full auto, but fails to hit the Officer. Only Sarge's shot hits, but doesn't seem to do much damage. Meanwhile the cultists hit the Blood Angel. The second turn is even less effective for our heroes, with the Blood Angel taking more damage but no one managing to retaliate. The third turn yeilds successful damage, but the cultists pass their morale check. Luckily, the fourth turn yields better dice rolls and they wipe the cultists out.

Meanwhile, our group run head long into a group of cultists. The Space Wolf charges towards them, but gets hit three times, including twice to the head. Heavily wounded, the Space Wolf opens up with a flamer, doing a little damage to the cultist group. However, as the Space Wolf enters close combat, the cultists rip off his kneecap. I charge into the fray but spectacularily miss. Our retaliation takes out the group....eventually. (Force Swords are awesome).

This cleared the warehouse of cultists, and we met back up to heal our wounds. Moving on to the Govenor's Palace. We find a group of nobles in the entrance hall being pounced on by Genestealers. Engaging them in combat, the Apothecary takes a kicking. Most of us take small injuries, but I retaliate and destroy my opponent in one hit. Force Swords are pretty lethal, especially one-on-one.


The Devastator takes his opponent out with a Bolt Pistol but the Assault Marines flounder. Luckily the Apothecary doesn't get hit, so isn't finished off. One hit and he is probably dead. I charge over to save Sarge, but fail my attack. Sarge finishes his opponent off, and I charge over and save the Blood Angel, who had his eyes ripped off by his opponent. The Apothecary tries to fix his leg, but fails his roll. The Devastator takes down another, but that leaves the Genestealer that is chasing the Planetary Governor. The Space Wolf gets to him first, outside the Governor's office,  with me in hot pursuit. We take it down quite easily.

The Apothecary starts healing up the rest of the team, while we talk to the Governor. He takes us to the House of Echoes to meet the Astropath....

To be Continued....

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Deathwatch

Unfortunately, due to a member of the team being ill this week, there is no session this week. So instead, I shall bring readers up to speed on the events of the first two sessions.

Our squad is :-
A Black Templar Sergeant,
A Space Wolves Assault Marine,
A Blood Angels Assault Marine,
A Dark Angels Devastator Marine,
A Dark Angels Apothercary,
and An Imperial Fists Librarian; Brother Absalom (played by yours truly)

We've been sequestered to the Deathwatch,  a branch of the Inquisition. They take the best Space Marines availablefrom all chapters and train them specifically to deal with Aliens. As time goes by, they specialise in defeating Xenos menaces, until they either die or their time is up and they return to their home chapters.

Our squad has been briefed that on a nearby planet, an Inquisitor has been investigating a suspected Genestealer infestation. Contact has been lost, and a civil war has broken out. We are going in to rescue the Inquisitor, quell the war and eradicate the Xenos.

The ship taking us to the system jumps in, only to be ambushed by scouts for a Tyranid fleet. They blew up our ship, but not before we jumped into a Drop Pod and made planetfall.

Crashing into a church, the squad deploy and run into a small PDF unit being assaulted by rebels. The Assault Marines grab the leader of the PDF to help ascertain which side is corrupted. "He" turns out to be a Callidus Assassin who quickly explains the situation. The Inquisitor has gone missing, and the Xenos have nearly won. Also a nearby Hive Fleet is incoming.

We rapidly wipe out the cultists, and move on through the city. Finding the spaceport, we are equally adept at clearing out the cultists there and providing relief for the PDF. There ended the first session, only minor injuries despite a couple of Genestealers being hidden umongst the cultists at the spaceport.

Session two started great for our Apothecary. He rapidly sorted out all the wounds,  though he did fail to effect the Devastator who had only lost one hit point. This single point of damage refused to heal. Could it prove to be his undoing? Only time will tell.

The pendulum swung against him though. Moving on to the armory building, we decided to opt for a little stealth. I started sneaking along, as I have some how managed all game. Despite being an 8 foot tall combat machine in large, clanking, powered armour, I am able to pass any stealth rolls I want. Luck of the dice so far, don't really want to push that given what happened next.

Our Apothecary decided to also go on a scouting trip. However, his dice roll was so appalling he essentially decided to attach tank treads to his boots and a rocket pack to his back. His sneaking amounted to double timing down the middle of the street yelling marching songs.

This led to our joint discovery of cultist weapon positions about to launch an assault on a PDF defensive position. While I noticed siege weapons preparing to open fire on the defensive wall, the Apothecary got noticed by the cultists. This led to the nearest group opening fire on him, which would have been ok if they hadn't been packing heavy weapons.

In tabletop, the ubiquitous Heavy Stubber is the heavy weapon for those who can't afford better. An analog for the Heavy Machine-gun, it's stats aren't that impressive, being only slightly more poweful than a Lasgun and only having a slightly larger rate of fire than a Boltgun. Turns out here though, that a large group of them is dangerous, even fired by untrained cultists.

Our Apothecary dropped like a stone and actually nearly died. Actually nearly died. The short round of firing has left him in a position where, even after trying to sort out his on wounds post-combat, getting into a serious fight will probably finish him off. This is a precarious position for anyone, but he is the team medic. Losing him could rapidly be followed by losing the rest of the team, especially as we currently have no way of contacting back up nor getting off planet.

It took some effort, but we managed to shift the cultists and stop the seige weapons. Making sure the PDF were ok, we moved on to the next objective, which would unfold next session...

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Winds of Change

Oh no, the sky is falling.

Wizkids announced that they are changing the rules for Heroclix. Obviously, this means the sky is falling, we all need to relearn the game and this inferior rule set will have us all uitting in droves.

In reality, the changes are all tweaks rather than full rewrites, and not a whole lot changes. In actuality more things make sense. To download the new Rulebook and Powers And Abilities Card, while reading NBPerps explanation of the changed powers, go to :-

http://heroclix.com/blog/2011/04/08/rulebook-2011-%E2%80%93-the-whole-enchilada/

I'm going to talk about how the changes actually affect the way we play the game, especially locally.

Close Combat Expert
This can now be combined with Super Strength to get the object damage bonus on top of the CCE damage bonus. Rule of Three still applies. There aren't a huge amount of figures we commonly use that benefit from this and most of those have move and attack powers as well. The best thing I can see about this is taking more light objects for those figures that can use both, while providing less heavy objects for their opponents. Otherwise, since most objects are used up in the first few attacks, no one locally will care.That said, I do like the change as it always seemed odd that a super strong expert of close combat couldn't use his full skill with the object, while others can use the object to exploit your weaknesses.

Earthbound/Neutralised
This really isn't going to make much of a difference on existing figures. This is a power that is rarely relavent in local games, though sometimes flyers that gain it can be knocked into terrain. This change is more to clean up the power vs special powers. Now if you are Earthbound then you are stuck without combat abilities, regardless of what your trait and special powers say. Keeps it simple, in my opinion, as now light green on move = no combat abilities. That's all you need to remember for that power, no exceptions.

Phasing/Teleport
So now this is a move action that ignores other characters completly. It gets around the rarely seen Hypertime team ability while now comboing with team abilities that give Move actions with out using up actions from your allotted total. A subtle change, as most teams aren't large enough to take advantage, and none of the keyworded Modern Age Brotherhood have the power. Could be useful in larger games though.

Leap/Climb
This also becomes a move action, which gives it most of the same benefits as above. Again, not something that will be hugely relevent. People should use this more locally cause I love using Elevated Terrain to gain a commanding fire point.

Battle Fury
This got a boost. it now ignores Incapacitate and Shape Change. This is a huge benefit, as Shape Change has appeared on a lot of figures recently as a defensive power. Could spell trouble for figures such as Nightcrawler if you can get such a figure to him. Not sure what figures this affects, but as long as people remember it, it's a good change. Unfortunately, I can see people remembering this as often as they remember Shape Change in the first place.

Energy Explosion
This power no longer causes damage on a fumble. A small benefit that will often be forgotten as it comes up too infrequently to be memorable. Especially as this power sees little play locally.

Incapacitate
This power no longer causes damage on fumbles, nor extra damage on crits. Again, not something that's going to get a whole lot of notice locally, due to the probability of those dice rolls and the frequency of this powers use.

Quake
Now when using this power, your damage becomes 2. Doesn't matter if it was higher or lower before you activated the power. Not sure how many figures this affects currently, but I can see there being more figures with this power and a printed damage value of 1 from now on. I like this change.

Shape Change
Now this power is worded better, everyone understands what happens when the roll succeeds. I remember when we thought that somebody using Hypersonic could move on to attack someone else if their first attack was foiled. Now they can't, if you can't choose a new target for the attack from where you are you are stuck. A nice simplification.

Leadership
On the downside, this now only triggers 2/3rds of the time rather that 50%. On the upside, it now trigger multiple times in a turn and remove action tokens from adjacent cheaper figures. This means teams that use cheap leaders like Samuel L Jackson can take another leader as a back up and get even more actions, while the recent slew of high cost figures that have Leadership actually get a benefit from the power without needing to be in a million point game.

Pulse Wave
You can now use this while based. That make the power much stronger, and might actually have it see more play. I can't remember the last time someone used it locally. I'm pretty certain it involved Black Bolt.

Stealth
This is only active during your opponents turn. Makes sense, as during their turn you are more likely to be hiding. Really only affects uses of Probability Control as little else your opponent can do can happen during your turn. A nice change,

Telekinesis
Probably the change that affects me most, as I have always been the bigget proponent of the power. The changes to line of sight are minimal, as it just requires slightly more thinking on your positioning. Most of the figures I  move with it have some form of move and attack, so my opponents positions mean little. The big thing is that when throwing an object, this targets the square and not the figure. This allows it to get around Stealth. As if I needed more encourgement to use Magneto :)

Move and Attack
This is now Hypersonic but worse. They've added the half range from that power, but kept the -2 attack and the inability to use the power if already based. This makes Transporters much worse and will see the use of this power fall away locally.

Great Size
This removes some of the weird differences there were between Colossal and Giant figures. Now Colossals are Giants with added benefits. No longer do Giants break away easier than Colossals. This change is important now there are Colossals that are playable in smaller games with out being dominating like Starro and Galactus.

Knockback
This has been simplified so more people can understand how to work out the knockback path. Never a bad thing.

Multiple Elevations
A complaint people had with the Web of Spider-man Bridge map was that the bridge is on the same elevation as the water. That doesn't make a huge amount of real world sense, but was needed to allow for action to happen on top of the towers. How else would your Green Goblin be able to kill off your Gwen Stacy bystander token at this iconic location? Now, with multiple elevations, they can make a wider range of more interesting maps. Hopefully the local players will learn to use elevation to their advantage now.

Cancelling
Now powers can't be cancelled. An important change, but rarely relevant.

Free Actions
Now all free actions are once per turn unless stated otherwise. The majority of these already were, especially the ones we used,  so this doesn't change a much. I can see it having a major affect on Gen Con level tournaments though.

Double Power Actions
Giving a name to something they intend on doing with Special Powers. It will be interesting to see what new powers this lets them come up with.

Wild Cards
Now wild carding is a repeatable free action during your turn. Whatever you choose last sticks for your opponents turn. Not a huge change for the locals as no one plays wildcard abuse teams anyway.

Theme Teams
This reduces the benefits of having a themed team. Now you can't give somebody the Probability Control if they have already used the power that turn. You also get less attempts at this dependant on build total. Also, above 400 points, you need more figures on the team to get the bonus. This is going to hurt the expensive figures that are already difficult to build thematic teams with. I feel it comes from the online backlash towards generic keywords. This will be the biggest change locally, and the one I can see people needing reminding on the most. People still need reminders on the old rules without them now changing.


The majority of these changes are positive ones and I'm in favor of them all. The big problem with the changes is that they are not being accompanied by a printed rulebook. There is no word currently on when the next starter is going to be out. While the rules are freely available for download, I personally prefer a hard copy. It means I can read it without having to carry the Netbook around. I also prefer reading books rather than a computer screen. It would also have been nice for a starter to be announced so we can look forward to new figures :)

What I don't look forward to is reminding people of the changes every five minutes, especially to those with little time/net access to read the changes for themselves. The lack of starter feels like a complete lost opportunity.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Leak gets 4 for 1

Possibly the strongest card advantage swing for a Mana Leak...

So, just before WOTC were about to start spoiler season, the pdf file containing images of the whole New Phyrexia(NPH) set hit the internet. This file, known as a Godbook, contained everything in the set, all the cards and artwork. This meant that everyone had access to the information before WOTC could start it's usual planned spoilers.

Their response was to post the entire visual spoiler, usually reserved for the end of spoiler season, right at the start of the week. This solved the information problem, but didn't tell us what had gone wrong. Had the Godbook been released by an angry member of staff or somebody at the printers?

Then, on Thursday, we got this announcement from WOTC:-

http://www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/news/042811a&dcmp=ilc-mtgrss

And it was revealed that the leak came from the current World Champion, the 2nd place runner-up and two of their friends. Guillaume Matignon writes for a French magazine, and gets sent the Godbook to provide a set review as an article. He gets sent it early so that the article can get written and printed in time to be published with the set, not a month later when such information would be out of date. Fine so far, but how did that translate into the world getting it, especially since presumably he has been doing this for several sets.

http://www.channelfireball.com/ provided us with the answer, via an article by Caleb Durward:-

http://www.channelfireball.com/articles/legacy-weapon-a-troubling-leakage/

wherin he details chats where the Godbook popped up, and his personal investigation into who was involved.

This has caused quite the furore amongst the MTG community. For many people, they see this as Pro players getting sent information to keep them at the top of the game. That maybe this is WOTC's way of promoting personalities amongst the Pro Tour, to in turn promote the game.

The reality is probably less conspiritorial than that.

For years, WOTC have used printed magazines as a form of subtle advertising. Basically, every time a magazine does an article about Magic the Gathering, it advertises the game. The same applies these days to websites. Obviously, magazines/websites that specialise in gaming want to do set reviews. As a new set comes out, it's pretty much all the readership are going to be talking about, so why not give them your writers views.

The problem faced is that while a website can write an article and post it in the same day, a magazine can't do that. I don't know the lead time on such things, but a writer has to write an article, submit it to the editor, who then checks it and sends it off to the typesetters who put it in the magazine. It then has to be printed, the copies sent off to the distributors, who send it to the shops. Then at some point you buy it and read it.

If a writer has to wait for a set to release to see the set, then they have a problem. Given that many magazines are monthly, the next issue after a set is revealed by WOTC could be up to a full month later. By then, players have been to a pre-release, a launch party, bought boosters and started playing with the cards in their constructed decks. If a review comes out then, nobody cares because anything you say was said by you a month ago. Any opinions have already proven to be accurate or inaccurate.

The chosen way around this was to send select publications the Godbook early, so they can get the articles done in a timely fashion. This is fine as a concept, but leads to a large problem.

With early access to the set, a player can make proxies and get a jump on playtesting. They can explore the card combos and interactions before anyone else, therefore knowing which cards they need to pick up when the set releases to make the most competetive deck. They can also get a jump on speculating on card values, grabbing pre-order bargains before everyone else realises how good a card is.

WOTC make the people they send the Godbook sign a non-disclosure agreement meaning they can't show it to anyone else. This also curtails advancec playtesting, as it is hard to get decent testing done without a partner. However, this presumes that WOTC find out you've shown someone the cards.

It's a safe bet that the Guilliames had been doing this for a while. It's not like they were going to report each other. It seems that this time round they invited the wrong person into their circle of trust and paid the price. A three year ban for Matignon, and a one and a half year ban for the others involved. That punishes the transgressors, but what does it mean for the future?

Obviously the problem isn't limited to Pro Players who write for magazines. Anyone who gets sent a Godbook might have friends who play. Anyone could gain an advantage from the information if they are smart enough with the right group of people. It doesn't make up for skill, but practice and testing can lead to skill increasing. So getting the jump on the competition can help anyone, especially for the first few weeks. And if your group aren't stupid with the information, then WOTC never find out.

This leads to a difficult position, which could potentially lead to WOTC having to end their policy of sending the Godbook to article writers. The damage done to the integrity of Pro play alone is bad enough, without the damage done to the marketing machine. It's hard enough for magazines to compete with the daily content of the Internet, and this could prove to be the death knell for magazines such as Lotus Noir. We've already lost both Inquest and Scrye to the Internet.

As for the Guilliame's integrity; while they may have consistently had the cards a month or two before everyone else for the past few years, they would still need personal skill to be able to take advantage of this. Such information really only helps for the first couple of events after a set releases. It's not even a huge help for limited as you don't know the print runs. It's a shame this will be a blight on their careers, but if they can get through the ban period they are probably skilled enough to work their way back to the top of the game. And they will have learned to be careful who they trust, even if they take nothing else away from the experience.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Foreshadowing

In an effort to motivate myself into more regular content, I will announce in advance the posts I am going to attempt to make each week.

This week:-

Magic
Building a Legacy - a look into the decks i am looking at playing in the Legacy format, and how I'm going to get the card pool.
Leak get 4 for 1 - a brief talk about the leak of New Phyrexia.
Standard Report -  how I've been doing in Standard recently and what cards from NPH I'm looking for.
#banJace - my views on the powerhouse of Standard.

Roleplay
Deathwatch - my first attempt at chronicling our adventures as a group of Space Marines sequestered to the Deathwatch.

Heroclix
Winds of Change - a look at the rules changes, and how they affect figures I love.
Spring Dawning - a fairwell to the Winter Soldier as Modern Age retirement gets announced

That's SEVEN posts planned. If I can pull this off, then maybe I can start giving regular content. Maybe then I can start promoting the blog and obtaining a larger readership.

Shout-out to Jamie Wetherill. I don't know if anyone else reads this, but I know he does :D

Thursday, 7 April 2011

GSX - Quick Hits

Giant Size X-Men has finally released. I've play a couple of games with a couple of figures, and shall give some quick notes on the set.

Madrox - not used him yet, but managed to get 3 and 3 brick figures (bought 3 bricks obviously). He might be alright, but that trait could end up giving away more victory points than it gains you, assuming it succeeds to activate in the first place.

Mindless One - these are awesome in multiples. Low defense, but decent soak and the Mystics team ability make up for that. Can't wait to try 3 in 300 points, as once my dice stopped betraying me they were great in 200 points.

Cyclops - this guy is insane. I can see little reason to play X-Men with out him now. His trait means that the team ability heals figures two clicks instead of one, on top of the usual dice roll to avoid taking damage for using it. If him and another X-man get injured then can get away, both can reach their starting clicks pretty quickly. The options for the team got much better with this set, but you have to start your build with him.

Gideon - not used him, but I will. Never thought I'd see this classic X-Force villain in Clix form. Same goes for Stryfe but at least he's ben in comics recently.

Professor X - another awesome trait, In Contact with Cerebro allows him to act, while never leaving your deployment zone. Back him up with some decent figures and your opponent is left with a choice; deal with your team while Xavier acts with impunity, or charge off and hunt him down while your team runs interference. A properly constructed team will not let your opponent do both.

Predator X - so I get 3 bricks, including a complete case, and fail to get this figure who is only a Rare? That distribution doesn't make sense, compounded by the Super Rares randomly replacing either Commons or Rares in boosters. Obtaining this will be difficult as well, since it's trait wants you to field multiples.

Magneto - Finally....Magneto....Has come Back to Modern Age Heroclix.... Before Armor Wars left Modern Age, I can safely say that 90% of the teams I built and played outside of Sealed started with a version of Magneto, and 100% of my competetive teams started the same way (apart from that time Thanos forced me to use him. I didn't even play that game, I just moved him around the table and rolled dice when he told me to. I won one game due to him allowing the opponent to hit with knockback, moving him out of line of sight and onto his regeneration clicks. One regen roll later...). Alongside him sees new versions of Sabretooth, Pyro, Blob and Mystique. Add those to the few other members from slightly older sets, and we shall see what I come up with ;)

Cable/Deadpool - these guys could have zeroes for all their stats and still be my favourite Duo figure of all time. The fact that they are actually playable is just gravy.

Nextwave - I managed to get the whole team, even the Super Rare. Tried them in a four way game. They met the team of Sentinels and kicked thier faces, then raced over and mopped up what was left of the other two teams. Didn't lose a figure, though Bloodstone was near death. Can't wait to play some more 500 point games to try them out some more.

Apocalypse - I got him, Nemesis/Holocaust, and 2 of his 3 Super Rare Horsement. My favourite villain of all time (Magneto is a good guy and Doom is neutral ;) even if they counted, they still aren't him) now has a collosal version. We shall see how good he is at some point. He is 500 points though.

We have a winner

Wizards of the Coast have announced the winner of the war on Mirrodin and the name the real name of "Action".

Welcome ladies and gentlemen to New Phyrexia

It would seem that I was right (lucky then that my analysis was the previous post :p )

I said that they would move Infect into all the colours. They said this week that there would be Red infect cards, and all but one of the colours would have access to Proliferate. A version of the Sword of War and Peace has been shown. It's not an official spoiler, so I won't reveal the whole card, but the White ability is said to be give a +1/+1 counter to target creature, which would have the side effect of being able to heal -1/-1 counters as well. This, to me, seems in line with it being a tool of the resistance, to stave of infection.

Not only are the Preators revealed in this set, but it looks like they are getting cards. The two spoiled so far suggest that they are a cycle of Legends, one for each colour, with a static ability that buffs your creatures and a second static ability that debuffs  your opponents creatures. If nothing else, they will probably make awesome mono-coloured EDH/Commander generals.

The major theme of the White cards in the set (the Phyrexian aligned ones at least), is the new religion of that faction, which Suture Priest is a part of. No mention of what the Pristine Talisman is about thematically, at least not yet. They do however say that there is a resistance movement, that still hold a small fraction of the territories available.

This post is largely self-congratulatory, but we all need one of those every now and then :D

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Action

The third set in Scars of Mirrodin block is code named "Action", following the prior two sets being called "Lights" and "Camera" respectively. Normally, WOTC would have revealed the name of this set, but in an effort to keep people guessing the outcome of the war, they have registered two names.

Mirrodin Pure
New Phyrexia

The outcome is decided and thus far WOTC have kept a lid on things. I believe that the winner is easily deduced though.

My pick:-


New Phyrexia


My reasoning is multi-faceted. If the third set is Phyrexian based, it allows them to add infect to Red, a colour which has very few Phyrexian cards. This would also justify the Mirrans needing to make the final sword in the Sword of X and Y cycle, as this would have to be protection from Red and White. It would be a tool crafted by the Mirran resistance. It's possible that the Phyrexians could make it, but that would bring it out of sync with the rest of the cycle, which is Mirran made.

In the players guide, available in the Mirrodin Beseiged Fat Pack, they talk about the 5 Phyrexian Praetors. Each one is aligned with a colour, which means we haven't really seen what the Red one is up to yet. Also, the images of each is done in silhouette. This means they are likely to be revealed in the next set. I feel this makes more sense if they are the winners. It sets up things to deal with a five faction civil war in the wake of their victory.

The Mirrodin Beseiged Game Day has two Faction promos available. Both appear in the next set, but as promos are aligned with the two different set choices. Suture Priest has the set symbol for New Phyrexia and I feel makes more sense in that set. While it could be a straggler on the way to Phyrexia's defeat, it makes more sense setting up the religious overtones of the White Phyrexian faction, which lead to that faction coming to blows with the other five. Pristine Talisman however, has the set symbol for Mirrodin Pure. I feel the name gives things away. It is more remarkable for the talsiman to be pristine, if the rest of the world has fallen prey to Phyrexia's corruption. This gives more credence to the idea that in the wake of Phyrexian victory, the Mirrans will set up a resistance movement.

It will probably take advantage of the Phyrexian civil war and lead to a story for another block. The final set of that block could easily be called Mirrodin Pure, as WOTC would still have the trademark. The Mirrans reclaiming their home would take a long time, so would be perfect to re-visit further down the road.

Another idea for a future block could be a return to events similar to the Phyrexian invasion of Dominaria. Possibly even repeating their efforts, which would open up a block to return to that plane. While this might seem like repeating story ideas, Maro has often said things work in cycles, and it's not hard to believe that the Phyrexian's would return to finish the work Yawgmoth started. Given that he might not even be dead, this would lead to more interesting stories.

Finally, it would be a shame for the Phyrexians to return, only to be dealt with in the space of one block. They were the villains for such a long time that it would be nice for them to return to prominence. It also gives Nicol Bolas a break from being the villainous focus, while continuing to allow him to work from behind the scenes. Also, the Eldrazi were around for one set, if they were defeated then they were not the threat they seemed.

That's my reasoning. There is evidence to support my theories, as well as compelling future story reasons for the war to go that way. Guess we will find out if I'm right when the set comes out.

Friday, 25 February 2011

EDH - Doran Rock

Here is the current configuration of my EDH/Commander deck

General/Commander 1

Doran, the Siege Tower
The main card. The deck is built more around the power of his colours than his own ability, but having a General that is a 5/5 for 3 mana is pretty good on it's own. Five succesful swings kills anyone. I use a foil one currently, though I am searching for an affordable full-art foil.

Creatures 18

Serra Ascendant
A cute one drop. Played early, he is huge,evasive and his lifelink helps keep him that way. Played late, he is a little disappointing, but I like to live the dream. Plus, he often eats a removal spell so stops something else dying later on. I've only got a normal one of these.
Nissa's Chosen
A recursive early drop, that I can tutor up with his Planeswalker. He rarely gets permanently dealt with, and with all the shuffle effects in the deck he often comes back without tutoring. I use a full art promo one from the game day.
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Dead snake guy :) An early chump blocker who happily heads to the graveyard to fetch me a basic land. Turn two him can often mean turn three Doran. It's like a better Rampant Growth. I use the FNM foil promo.
Necrotic Sliver
This guy is awesome. I run enough recursion that some games I can just make this guy every turn and Vindicate a permanent. That can put me far ahead in the long term. Outside of that he can often as a one-off just deal with something annoying. He also gets better when others are playing Slivers :) I use a foil one from Premium Deck Slivers.
Eternal Witness
She gets me back any other awesome card I have used, then either chump blocks or goes on the offensive ( for a mighty 2 damage a swing). She is awesome for three mana. I use a foil FNM promo.
Chameleon Colossus
Pro-black, pumpable, all creature types, cheap-ish to cast. This guy does it all. He's a Sliver when I need it, protected from some removal and when I have lots of mana, can win the game on his own. I just use a standard one.
Masked Admirers
Four mana for an ok body. When it comes in to play I draw a card. If he is dead, I can pay double green as I cast another creature spell to get him back in my hand. That's a lot of cards drawn if a game goes long enough. I use a foil one.
Linvala, Keeper of Silence
This lady flies and shuts down opposing creature abilities. This can slow down other decks or stop certain Generals. She's also good against Slivers. I use a normal one.
Acidic Slime
Deathtouch and kill an annoying non-creature permanent. This guy is really good. I use a foil one.
World Queller
This guy can stop other decks getting out of hand, killing something every turn. He often gets killed before his first upkeep, but he can clear the board pretty well after a few turns. I use a normal one.
Oversoul of Dusk
5/5 for 5. Protection from 3 annoying colours. Awesome. I use a normal one.
Primeval Titan
He fetches me two lands when he comes him, and then if he gets to swing I get two more. He thins my deck and accelerates me, while being a Trampling beatstick. I use a normal one.
Netherborn Phalanx
He is expensive for a rubbish body. However he makes my opponents lose a life for each creature they control, so sometimes he just wins the game. However he truly shines with his Transmute, allowing me to tutor for my more powerful six drops. I use a foil one.
Eternal Dragon
Plainscycle him. Return him to hand from the graveyard. Repeat. Deck is thinned and then I can just make him as an evasive guy. I use a normal one.
Grim Poppet
He shrinks other creatures, and Proliferate lets him get out of hand really quickly. I use a normal one.
Woodfall Primus
A large Trampler who kill something annoying when he comes into play. If he is killed, Persist lets him do it again. I use a normal one.
Akroma, Angel of Wrath
She is the embodiment of Awesome. Flying, First Strike, Vigilance, Trample, Haste, Pro Black, Pro Red. She can be such a beating for certain decks. And she always puts Jack on Tilt :p I use the foil one from Duel Deck Divine Demonic.
Reya Dawnbringer
She may be expensive, but if she lives to see and upkeep I start getting my other creatures back. I use a normal one.

Planeswalkers 4

Garruk Wildspeaker
My favourite Planeswalker. He helps with mana, makes me creatures and casts Overrun. What isn't there to love? I use a normal one.
Nissa Revane
She gets me her Chosen every turn, gains me a small amount of life, and her seldom used ultimate finds me the small amount of Elves in the deck. So, I generall just use her for the first one, but the others crop up occasionally. I use the foil Duels of the Planeswalkers promo.
Liliana Vess
My second favourite Planeswalker (despite my love of Elves). She makes an opponent discard, she tutors up stuff for me and she can animate all graveyards for me. I use the Duel Deck Garruk Liliana foil promo.
Sorin Markov
The dark horse of the deck. People always seem to forget he exists. He can gain me life, kill annoying small creatures, set an opponent to 10 life or Mindslaver someone. He is feared like real vampires should be. I use a normal one.

Instants 9

Wordly Tutor
I run few creatures, and the ones I do run are mostly for utility. This allows me to find the one I need, when I need it. I use a normal one.
Vampiric Tutor
For the cost of two life, I can tutor up any card to the top of my deck. Yes please. I use an Italan one.
Realms Uncharted
It pulls four lands out of my deck, at instant speed, and puts two of them in my hand. Given that I often search for four Fetchlands, it effectively pulls six lands out of my deck. I use a normal one.
Krosan Grip
Split Second Enchantment/Artifact kill. Always useful. I use a FNM foil promo.
Putrefy
Kill a creature or an Artifact. Again, always useful. I use a full art promo.
Mortify
Kill a creature or an Enchantment. It's almost like I've seen this spell elsewhere in the deck. I use a full art promo.
Unmake
Exile a creature. Can stop really degenerate creatures from coming back. I use a full art promo.
Consume the Meek
This instantly kills swarms of tokens and leaves the big boys to play. I use a foil one.
Fracturing Gust
So I get to destroy all Enchanments and Artifacts at instant speed. That's kewl. Oh, and I gain two life for each one? Can I cheat and run two please. I use a normal one.

Sorceries  20

Crime/Punishment
Using Crime I can steal the best dead creature or Enchantment. Using Punishment I get a Ratchet Bomb-style effect. Using this card, I get my choice of either when I need it. I use a foil one.
Dwell on the Past
I can either use this to get dead cards back into my deck, or occasionally use it to get scary recursion targets away from the graveyard. I use a foil Asian one.
Regrowth
Gets me a card back. Simple recursion. I use a normal one.
Gaea's Blessing
Anti-Mill insurance. If I draw it I can use it like Dwell and draw a card. I use a Time-Shifted one.
Demonic Tutor
The best tutor, two mana gets anything straight to your hand. I use the alternate art one from Duel Deck Divine Demonic
Maelstrom Pulse
My favourite removal spell ever. I use a normal one.
Chain of Acid
I love this. Destroy something annoying, then see if the controller wants to destroy something else. Thus far no one has sent it onto another target, so it usually just functions as spot removal. I'm waiting for the day that it kills everything :) I use a foil one.
Harmonize
Simply four mana, draw three cards. Never a bad thing. I use the full art promo one.
Wrath of God
Destroy all creatures. Okay, if you insist. I use the full art foil promo.
Damnation
Deja-vu. Even down to using a full art foil promo.
Day of Judgment
And again. Though they can Regenerate from this one. Still use the full art foil promo though.
Diabolic Tutor
For when you can't run two Demonic Tutors. I use a normal one.
Primal Command
My favourite command. Gains life, puts away something annoying, puts my graveyard back and/or tutors me a creature. I love it. I use a foil one.
Rebuking Ceremony
Some Artifacts refuse to die due to Darksteel. This gets them out of the way temporarily. I use a normal one.
Akroma's Vengeance
Sweep the board or Cycle. This card is really good. I use one from the Planechase decks.

All is Dust
Because sometimes regular sweepers aren't good enough. I use a normal one.
Praetor's Counsel
This card is insane. So it puts your graveyard into your hand and removes your maximum hand size? By the time you can afford to cast it, that's Ludacris. I use a normal one.
Profane Command
My second favourite Command. It usually finshes games, or at the worst kills something annoying. I use a normal one.
Genesis Wave
With a little mana acceleration, this is insane. It can flood the board with stuff and put me miles ahead of the competition. Sometimes it can miss though. I use a normal one.
Death Cloud
I use this to end games. Main plan is to get into a position where I'm so far ahead I can either cast this to win, or cast this and put everyone else to virtually dead. I use a normal one.


Enchantments 10

Mirri's Guile
A free Top every upkeep sounds like a plan. I use a normal one.
Bloodchief Ascension
This can happily sit there doing nothing, but then suddenly become active and put opponents in a precarious position, which can lead to me winning. Works well if it is active and I use Death Cloud too. I use a foil one.
Prismatic Omen
This fixes my mana, brings Emeria online and makes me weak to Landwalk creatures. I'll take that downside for those upsides. I use a normal one.
Cream of the Crop
It rises to the top. It never eats a pig cause a pig is a cop. Or better yet a Terminator like Arnold Schwazenager, here to play me out as if my name was Sega. I use a normal one.
Oblivion Ring
Spot removal. Might be permanent, might be temporary. I use a FNM foil promo.
Phyrexian Arena
Draw an extra card every turn. What else is forty life for? I use an original one.
Pernicious Deed
The threat of sweeping can often be enough. And it sweeps what I want it to sweep. I use a normal one.
Mirari's Wake
Doubles my mana and pumps my creatures. Allows me to get pretty silly pretty quickly. I use a normal one.
Mana Reflection
Makes my mana silly, especially with the Wake. If I get both out I should be in a ridiculously good spot. I use a normal one.
Debtors' Knell
If I see an upkeep with this in play, I get the best dead creature back on my side. Consequently, it rarely survives a round. I use a normal one. 

Artifacts 7

Sensei's Divining Top
You know this card. Everyone runs it. I use a foil From the Vault Exile one.
Voltaic Key
Untap my more powerful artifacts for one mana. Leads to awesome stuff. I use and original one.
Relic of Progenitus
Nukes all graveyards. There are often people doing sillier stuff with thiers than me, so I'm happy with that. I use a normal one.
Contagion Clasp
It might kill a creature. But Proliferate is uber-powerful, especially with Planeswalkers. I use a normal one.
Lux Cannon.
If this starts getting active, things start dying. Proliferate gets it active quicker. So does Voltaic Key. I use a normal one.
Contagion Engine
If Proliferate is uber-powerful, then what is double Proliferate? I use a foil one.
Mindslaver
Because just having Sorin do it isn't enough. This is awesome fun to do. I use a normal one.

Lands 31

Murmuring Bosk
Doran's home, taps for all three colours. I use a normal one.
Dual Lands
I only use a Scrubland. It's a French revised one.
Ravnica Dual Lands
I use Temple Garden, Overgrown Tomb and Godless Shrine. They are all normal ones.
Gilt Leaf Palace
It usually comes into play tapped, but it taps for two of my colours, so it is fine. I use a normal one.
Filter Lands
I use Wooded Bastion and Twilight Mire. They are both normal ones.
Pain Lands
I use Brushland, Llanowar Wastes and Caves of Koilos. They are all normal ones.
Fetch Lands
I use Misty Rainforest, Arid Mesa, Polluted Delta, Verdant Catacombs and Marsh Flats. They are all normal ones.
Basic Lands
I use three Forests, three Swamps and 4 Plains. They are all foil.
Terramorphic Expanse
This is for extra basic fetching. I use a foil one from Premium Deck Slivers.
Emeria, the Sky Ruin
If I get this active, my creatures are near immortal. It also taps for white mana. I use a normal one.
Volrath's Stronghold
My main Necrotic Sliver engine, shame it's Legendary. I use a normal one.
Miren, the Moaning Well
Good with the Stronghold out, also gains me life and can save creatures from exile. I use a normal one.
Mystifying Maze
It may cost more mana to activate than Maze of Ith, but it taps for mana and it also blinks the creature which is great with Taurean Maulers and other creatures with counters on them.


There is my deck and reasons behind my card choices.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Valentine's Rage

So, the tournament only had 2 players due to Uni schedules and sickness. Still this allowed me to get in two games with the Red Lantern Corp.

To remind you:-

Atrocitus 202
Guy Gardner 110
Mera 85
387 Red Lantern Corp theme team.

One player was running late, so Round one I played the other (he walked in just as we started)

Larfleeze 202
Lex Luthor 160
362 point team

The Orange Lantern Corp need 400 points for you to play them both, but then refuse to theme. That's pretty exasperating. Also, both pieces need to be used carefully as our game attested to.
We fought on the Hawkworld map and the game was over pretty quick. Gardner shot Luthor when he came into range, then Atrocitus Charged him with a Heavy Object to finish him off. A couple of turns later I caught Larfleeze with a Charge from both Atrocitus and Mera.

Round 2 they played each other to see who won Gleek.

Round 3 I played the winner:-

Dr. Strange 149
Green Lantern 145
Detective Chimp 62< Jason Blood 44
400 point Mystical team

This one took longer, and illustrated the weak defenses of the Red Lanterns. The new Alan Scott is pretty good and he threw Atrocitus a kicking. Dr. Strange fell to the combined effort of the team, but Gardner single-handedly took down Green Lantern with a well timed Charge after a fumble had put him on his second click (to be fair, the attack that fumbled was targeting Jason Blood, sohe would have been on that click if I had succeeded). Then, after a few turns chasing him down the conveyor belt, his final attack knocked Green Lantern onto his final Regeneration click. Luckily, I rolled doubles and the was knocked back into the edge of the map for the kill. My opponent then scooped, as he felt Detective Chimp and Jason Blood couldn't deal with my Guy Gardner on their own.

All in all, I feel that the Red Lantern Corp are a great team at 400 points. They can deal out a lot of damage between them, so their only fear is Super Senses, as Atrocitus' trait deals with Impervious. However, their dwindling defense values mean that as they take damage, they are going to take more damage. Use carefully, and don't get swarmed.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Heroclix Valentines Tournament

Tomorrow I'm running a Clix tourney on Valentines day. The format is simply 400 points modern age. I tried looking at Titans, but couldn't find a build I was happy with in the short time I was allowing for building. I only play during the bye and my matches only count towards personal pride. So I built the following instead:-

Atrocitus 202
Guy Gardner 110
Mera 85
387 Red Lantern Corp theme team.

Shame I had no room the the Red Lantern special object. The plan is simple; hit things until they die from it. Gonna try and hold Gardner back as a cannon for his few shooty clicks before sending him in to support the other two monsters. All three are starting attack 11, damage 4. Add Atrocitus's trait and this could be an awesome team.

Equally, it could get out-manouvered and shot to pieces. I'm hoping theme bonus gives me the map choice, which will allow the Hawkworld map to really shine. An all flying team should let me choose where and when the fights happen.

We shall see...

Saturday, 12 February 2011

The Road to Worlds

This current weekend is Magic Weekend
It's being held in Paris, France and sees back to back both a Pro Tour and a Grand Prix. It also held the play-off for last years Player of the Year race (spoiler alert - Brad Nelson won)

That coincides with the announcement of the local Nationals Qualifiers, and Plymouth's one is in 6 weeks. This means the next few posts will largely be dedicated to my quest for Magic fame and stardom.

Step 1 - qualify for the GB Nationals
Step 2 - qualify for the World Championships
Step 3 - Win and bask in the glory :D

While my chances of qualifying via rating look pretty good, I'm still going to enter the local qualifier as it is practice. It's pretty high risk/reward though.
If I qualify, then I don't have to worry about my rating between now and Nationals, allowing me to find more events to play in for practice.
If I fail, then the high value of the event could devastate my rating, making it harder to get it back up via WNM.

Still, no risk, no reward.

I will detail playtesting efforts as and when they happen :)

Comparing the Lanterns - part three

Better late than never, here is  the artist formally known as Ion:-


Kyle Rayner


Crisis gave us Rayner at Rare. DC75th also gave us Rayner at Rare. This made them both relatively easy to get within their respective sets. Fans of the character will probably have both versions by now, allowing them the choice of which one to field, if like me they care about Highlander during team building.

Both figures are ranked as Veteran. The Crisis version represents Rayner as Ion, while the DC75th version is once again Rayner during the Blackest Night storyline, like many of the lanterns in the set.
This gives neither much of an edge in themery, as both seem to be Rayner not really doing anything specific.
Like with Sinestro and Gardner, this only denotes two important things about the pair. You can run multiples of either figure, and you can't run them in Rookie-only tournaments.

Both figures have the following Keywords; Green Lantern Corps and JLA. This allows you a choice when fielding thematic teams with either of these keywords. Equally, they are the only keywords they have. This continues to make them seem equal and can put them in direct competition when looking for that last figure to go in your team.


Crisis Rayner is 182 points. DC75th Rayner is 169.
This is only a differance of 13 points. Interestingly, this is the same amount as the two Gardners. It's not much of a clincher when deciding which one to fit in a team. So the decision, if not based on Keywords, comes down to capability.


Both figures are Fliers with one lightning bolt, range 8 for DC75th, range 10 for Crisis. They also both have the Green Lantern Corps team ability. DC75th Rayner has two advantages. Firstly he is Indomitable and secondly he has a trait;

The Artist Once during your turn, if Kyle Rayner has no action tokens, he can use Telekinesis (option 2) as a free action.

This allows him to act two turns in a row without pushing, which is a hallmark of the current Green Lanterns. The trait allows him to reposition friendly figures or objects whenever you can meet it's conditions. This is a powerful ability when used properly as he can make sure your figures are where you need them when you need them there, all by planning ahead a little.

On his starting click, Crisis Rayner is the more powerful. Move 10 is paired with a special ability;

Ion Kyle Rayner can use the Quintessence team ability.

This makes him immune to Outwit and lets him push for no damage, negating his rivals Indomitable advantage.  Attack 11 Telekinesis (Power Ring expect a lot of this name again), Defense 18 Impervious (Ion) and Damage 3 Perplex (Torchbearer).
He has no move and attack but makes a very good static cannon. He can fire team mates at your opponents force or he can shoot opposing figures directly with decent attack and damage, augmented by Perplex. This is a fine starting click for any team to have on it. The special power is what really makes it stand out, and gives you a reason to try and keep him there, as it's the only place it appears.


DC75th Rayner's starting click is more normal by comparison, though they both lend to the same purpose. Move 12 Phasing/Teleport (Green Lantern of Sector 2814.4), Attack 10, Defense 18 Energy Shield/Deflection (Green Aura) and Damage 3 Perplex (Lingering Ion).
Again no move and attack ability, and lack of soak can be a problem, though it is ofset by a high defense. Again, he is a static cannon, filling the same role as his counterpart. It's only the Quintessence and soak that make the other one better.

Crisis Rayner loses Ion and switches to Running Shot for two clicks, then has no power for two clicks before Phasing appears on his last three clicks. The value slowly drops til it hits 7.
From his second click, he gains Energy Explosion (Power Ring) for two clicks before switching back to Telekinesis for two clicks. He then has Incapacitate for his last 3 clicks. His values steadily drop to 8 though.
His second click brings us another special power;

Constructs Kyle Rayner can use Barrier. Any opposing character adjacent to a Barrier terrain marker placed by Kyle Rayner that attempts to move (or would be moved by a power, ability, or effect used by another character) must attempt to break away; this effect ignores powers, abilitys and effects that allow a character to break away automatically.

This is an interesting power, as it can trap opposing figures where you want them for a turn. However, it gives Rayner no defensive options. It lasts for 3 clicks before 2 clicks of Toughness (Power Ring) and finally 2 clicks of Energy Shield (Power Ring) end the dial. His values drop to 17, have a mid dial return to 18 before rapidly dropping to end on 15.
Perplex stays for 3 clicks, before being replaced with Ranged Combat Expert (Power Ring) for 2 clicks. Then there are 2 more clicks of Perplex and a final click of Ranged Combat Expert. His values stay 3 for a few clicks and then remain 2 for the rest of the dial.

 DC75th Rayner switches from his second click to 3 clicks of Running Shot (Defend the Power Battery) before 2 empty clicks and a final click of Phasing. His move drops slowly, never dropping below 9.

His only attack power is on his forth and fifth clicks; Incapacitate (Giant Green Lasso). His values fluctuate wildly, going as high as 11 before ending on a 9.
His two clicks of ranged defense become three clicks of Invulnerability (Honor Guard) then two clicks of Regeneration (Unexpected Return) making him quite resiliant. His defence stays at 17 until his last two clicks which are 16.
He keeps Perplex for three clicks, with values switching between 3 and 2 at various points.

The Crisis version has an extra click of health, but the Regeneration on his counterpart can give him more life on the table top. Their values are pretty comparable down the dial, again, both figures appear to be built to do the same job. I guess that's what Rayner does in the comics.

In summary, I believe that the DC75th version is slightly superior down the dial, with better defense powers and values. However, don't discount the Crisis Ion click. If you can keep him there, he might do enough heavy work that youur other figures can do the rest.

I think both figures are good, and would play either based on points left. They are so close that if I wanted a team with a Kyle Rayner in, I would leave choosing which one until I have built the rest of the team and then choose which ever one complements the rest of the team best.

Sorry for the gap between updates, I'm a busy man. Will continue to try to post as often as I can.