Legend of Korra: Season Finale

Beware of Spoilers ye who enter for Legend of Korra and Avatar the Last Airbender 

So here’s the season finale, and in thinking about it, it helps a lot to remember that they thought this was going to be it. 1 season, 12 episodes and then the story is done. Since a lot of things make a lot more sense on a meta level when you keep this idea in mind. So without further ado let’s get started.

So it turns out that Team Avatar has been hanging out with the hobo from the park in Hoboville for lack of a better term. Which serves as a nice sequence since it really serves as a contrast between Asami and the others in a humorous way. It also really drives against Amon’s ideals, but I’ll do a review of the Equalists later on.

“WHERE DOES HIROSHI FIND THE TIME TO INVENT ALL OF THESE EVIL MACHINES?” Hang that lampshade, cause damn if that isn’t a part of the Equalist operating procedure is basically throw out new toys to win. And well this episode hasn’t broken that chain. This line also reaffirmed why Bolin is awesome.

And General Iroh the Younger and his fleet. First, the ship designs are awesome, if a bit impractical. Why do the guns channel firebending? Avatar had catapults with more than just fire. This action sequence was alright, it was forgettable more than anything else. The fog really didn’t help the visuals, since it wasn’t eerie or setting a depressing mood, it just made it harder to see things clearly and sup the surprise of the planes.

Back at hoboville it’s time to split the party, cause if RPGs have taught me anything this is the best way for shit to happen and by shit I mean bad things for the PCs.

I’m just going to cover this now: Mako and Asami as a relationship got screwed by the pacing, making the love triangle more awkward than anything else. Especially since the episode that was primarily about their love triangle wrapped it up rather well.  it’s not a matter of Mako being a bad person, he just sucks at relationships, like a teenager. So it’s not a matter of hating either one of them,it’s just that their relationship is a definite dud. It’s not like Avatar had spectacular relationship stuff going on either so this is par for the course. Pacing of the relationship wasn’t all that good mainly because it needed to get to a certain point by the end of this episode but it feels more forced and less how an actual person would react. Seeing as how “I care about” is the shorthand for them effectively breaking up, Mako-Korra relationship is also incredibly forced and feels completely disconnected from the rest of the show.They just needed more time to actually show it instead of relying upon tv shorthands, but that can be said about a lot of this show unfortunately.

And we get to the heart of the episode,  Tarrlok and Amon are brothers and Amon is actually a blood bender. On one hand, this really wasn’t all that unexpected since it explains why Tarrlok was so important as well as Yakone. There’s also the issue of the internet has predicted that, but the internet has predicted just about every outcome by the time this aired. It’s the kind of thing you expect from a miniseries. Again given my opening statement about how this was written as ending this week for good, it makes sense.  It’s a good backstory, aside from Yakone getting plastic surgery. The bad part of this is that bending, and this super special blood blending is basically like the X-men and not something that has been the case. You can argue that Zuko had similar issues but that was far more spiritual in nature.  Tarrlok is less living up to Yakone’s legacy and more he’s messed up by Yakone and dealing with the ghosts of the pasts; which is a major theme of the season(this might still be the case in season two but I don’t think so) I mean my biggest issue is that the whole blood blending issue is just used to set up the situation although it really feels like there should be a bigger explanation as to how they’ve refined blood bending into a total ‘I win” button. And then there’s the ancillary problem of Amon has been blood bending. Seeing as how everything else we’ve seen of blood bending is an ‘I win’ button, so  it technically works. It could be something like physically blocking chi points or something closer to a lobotomy. At first it bothered me but again cardinal rule of this show: only meant to be a miniseries. And the thing is that blood bending is a big enough of an ‘I win’ button that it works in this role. Mainly since there are two things that do beat blood bending: better blood blending and the Avatar State. ANd with that info dump the episodes ends.

End game opens up with the others finding the airfield and walking into an electric fence. Given that Electricity is the main gimmick of the Equalists, I have to wonder how Asami at least didn’t see this coming. This episode also really likes to jump back and forward in following the two groups which means shorter paragraphs.

Back to the rally, Korra attempts to discredit Amon. Seeing as how his father had plastic surgery, why didn’t he do the same for the scars? And because we’re really cutting it close, Tenzin and his kids are next on Amon blood bend list. All I have to ask is why? Why did you feel the need to invalidate the last five minutes of Turning the Tides? Why rob yourselves of that? And after that we’re back to the airfield and then right back to Korra.

How does a direct blast of lightning not kill or severity wound Amon? Physics doesn’t work the same way in the Avatar universe, but we know what lightning does a person in this universe. Well that’s a bit of a recurring problem in that electricity can be lethal but gets used a lot.  Anyway, cue nice action sequence and what most people were expecting with Korra getting debended.

This entire sequence with Iroh the Younger, Bolin and Asami is the best action sequence in the episode. And Hiroshi Sato is a 3rd place contestant for the Gendo Ikari Parenting Award, only being beaten by Ozai and Yakone. Make of that what you will. Iroh the Younger make take after Zuko in temperament but Azula in skill.

Cutting back to Korra we see the other thing that had to happen in that Korra can airbend. On one hand this is a bit of author fiat in that it can happen given she was debended. On the other hand, she is the Avatar, so normal rules don’t have to apply. Her bit of airbending is admittedly anti climatic but it does show something good about the show from an eye candy perspective. Aang is not Korra and vice versa, they have radically different fighting styles and application of bending.  Since Amon just had paint for a scar, once it gets washed off he’s discredited and flees.

Now is as good a time as any to talk about the Equalists. When I started watching this show the Equalist as villains bothered me, and this post  does a good job in explaining why. The other main thing is that the Equalists are objectively wrong on some level. There are benders in hoboville, Mako and Bolin were street urchins and Hiroshi Sato and the head of Cabbage Corp. are both non benders. On the other hand Tarrlok’s draconian measures were easily passed and the council is presumably made up of all benders. The politics never really got fleshed out, at all. The way I see it there needed to be at least one more episode dealing primarily with fleshing out the Equalists and making them more than faceless mooks, the lieutenant, and Amon. More concrete information on how Republic City works both internally and in relation to the other countries  would be really helpful in lending credence to Amon or just as importantly not lending credence and establishing firmly that he’s just a traumatized man who’s exploiting social unrest.

Season two needs more Gen. Bumi. Given that tease of his intro and Tenzin’s reaction, more is needed.

Amon is discredited but he still has Tarrlok, so the two of them flee on an Equalist boat and then Tarrlok commits murder-suicide. if you haven’t seen the episode then I’ll repeat that part Tarrlok commits murder-suicide. On screen and unambiguously kills himself and Amon.This was unexpected to say the least but it works for Tarrlok. Ever since he became a bender his life sucked, and then his brother ran away changing his life to a different kind of suck. So he finally has his brother back, and while his bending is gone, it’s not like that was a gift as far he was concerned. So in order to preserve that emotional high he kills them both.  Amon and Tarrlok are damaged people, and they can’t overcome the past. That’s the key point about this scene, like a lot of other people in this series the past trap them and they couldn’t escape it. The end product is that Tarrlok and Amon are incredibly well developed characters in a way that their initial presentation really didn’t allude to.

We cut back to the good guys as Katar can’t heal Korra. Then Korra goes off ot be alone after Mako confesses his love. And at first glance Korra breaks down , Aang appears and everything is better. Except the issue is that Tenzin is wrong, Korra wasn’t going ot spend anytime adapting. She was contemplating suicide. Which is the whole point of the tear falling down the cliff shot. Korra embraced being the Avatar, the first scene we have with her is her proudly proclaiming that fact that as she bends three elements,. Then the White Lotus take her to train. The whole reason why she went to Republic City was to force Tenzin to teach her, because she needed to know how to airbend to be the Avatar. Her comment to Mako about not being the Avatar so he can just leave really underscores this point, being the Avatar was Korra’s primary means of identification and self worth. But her inability is hers alone, her body is unable to bend but the Avatar can still break the rules and bend everything.  Her life as she understood no longer exists because she is no longer that person. Aang’s appearance makes sense in that Korra is just really lost and hurt, she wants help but as far as she knows no one can help her. Aang’s statement of  ‘when we hit our lowest point is when we are open to the greatest change.’ is that Korra can be the Avatar but not be defined as the Avatar. The show is about her personal growth and her becoming the Avatar, by being stripped of the Avatar’s most distinctive feature she hit her lowest point and found that she had more than that. This is why Mako has to be there, why their relationship has to be at that point. Her ‘I love you’ is essential to getting this point across.

The last scene is restoring Lin’s bending and a callback to the end of Last Airbender with Aang being called Avatar Aang. Which is alright. If anything I’m annoyed at how Lin got her shining moment of heroism and then had two lines after that. But it does get the point across that Amon’s debending is going to be undone.


All in all, Skeletons in the Closet was better than Endgame, since the former didn’t have to wrap everything up. While the season really needed at least two more episodes, one for political stuff and one for the falling act and resolution to not be 7 minutes long. I also really wasn’t expecting it to be that dark in a kid’s show. Not so much that kids can’t handle it but more I’m surprised that was greenlit to be aired. I found Legend of Korra to be a good and fun show. It’s very different from Last Airbender while at the same time being familiar. In ranking them I prefer it slightly to season one of Airbender but less so than the seasons two and three. Now there’s nothing to do but wait for season two.


And talk about Mass Effect 3’s new endings. Oh god the extended cut.


Legend of Korra: Turning the Tides

Beware ye who enter for spoilers regarding Avatar the Last Airbender and Legend of Korra; you have been warned  


So the last episode before the finale and it sets that up really well, in a way that the franchise hasn’t really done outside of Avatar’s season finale in Sozin’s Comet. Mainly due to the fact that Sozin’s Comet is an hour and a half long and the Waterbending Master and the Guru didn’t have the same structure to work off of. Nonetheless  it was awesome.

So the whole Tarrlok/Yakone thing is probably the seed for season two given how quickly it got pushed aside by Amon declaring all out war by bombing the city.Which is a really great way to show that Amon is evil, there’s no reason to suspect that aerial bombing is anymore precise than it was in WWII so he’s just killing people. And Hiroshi Sato’s entire existence shows that non benders aren’t denied wealth. So yeah, I guess once you have enough forces you can kill everyone who isn’t with you and take over.

Speaking of Equalists, they basically have three advantages and I think this episode does a really good job in showing them, numbers, surprise, and new toys. Lin ad Tenzin’s fights show that they can hold their own but numbers will overpower them. Surprise is rather straight forward and the new toys were in the form of the magnets used by the mechs. Seeing as how Team Avatar+Tenzin dealt those mechs plus foot soldiers no problem. Speaking of that fight, two points: 1. I really like Tenzin, so more of him is always a good thing; as is seeing airbending in a way that well Aang never really did. 2. Living in Republic City requires an insane amount of discipline if Mako can also redirect lightning. Also with the exception of Sparky Sparky Boom Man, I think that’s every new technique that was created during Avatar or seen as new on Avatar.

So Mako and Asami are really getting the short end of the stick with only twelve episodes to work with, and they’re probably not getting any screentime relationship wise in the finale. The whole relationship is just getting rushed and works more by reading tv shorthand than something that actual people do.  Speaking of Asami, I like she’s the resident non bender and different than Sokka. While the other three members of Team Avatar don’t map to the GAang due to bending differences, Asami feels like her own character. Which is something you really see with her fight scene, more training and more precise than Sokka.

The episode really becomes about Lin once she gets to the island and says she’ll protect Tenzin’s family. It’s a really enjoyable sequence all things considered. It’s also a really well done emotional set piece.  While ti works really well as a self contained thing, Lin needs to remain a part of the cast for it have consequence outside of this episode.


And new Iroh sounds just like Zuko, which has given me the theory that the reason for Republic City have representation based on everything not Republic City is due to the fact they control a multinational task force. Which makes sense as a part of not having the 100 year war repeat itself, or Chin the Conqueror etc. Which in a way adds to my desire for Korra to go global so we can see how the rest of the world is working. Also seeing as how season two is probably going to be about the spirit world it could give a reason to travel.

Also wasn’t Naga unable to carry all of Team Avatar?


All in all I really liked this episode aside from the relationship stuff. Now to wait for the two part season finale, which shouldn’t disappoint given this show’s track record.




The dud of Avaycn Restored’s flavor

Monday’s post about the narrative in games is a prequel in a way to today’s post. Mainly in that AVR inspired the idea in the first place. So instead of just alluding to my complaints in cryptic hints, I figured I’d just look critically at the set.

The story leading up to AVR is that long, long time ago, Sorin Markov created the angel Avacyn so that humanity wouldn’t be killed off and vampires wouldn’t starve to death. For a time things were good, as Avacyn rallied the humans around the Church of Avacyn with her  angels and humanity was able to fight off the werewovles, geists, zombies and vampires. Enter stage right, the demon Griselbrand who decided to deal with Avacyn by fatally wounding her and trapping her in the Helvault a.k.a. bad guy prison. Now humanity is getting pushed against the wall as the Church of Avacyn is losing its power. the worst of it being the capital of Thraben being ransacked by a zombie horde.

Meanwhile Griselbrand is being hunted by Liliana Vess who is in turn being hunted by Garruk. Interspersed are a bunch of gothic horror tropes and allusions to stories such as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Sounds like a good set up for a finale, what we got skipped the third act and went straight to the epilogue. Since there are several distinct elements, I’ll just break them down part by part instead of doing some monstrous summary.

Overall Story: So the basic idea of the good guys not dying off and kicking ass is a nice refresher, I may be new to Magic but it doens’t take that much to look back and see how things have a tendency to go poorly.  The problem is in the execution though.

Tone: I think that the set’s tone can explain why it feels like hte third act is being skipped. While humanity is meant to be on the rise and kicking ass; it feels like they already did that and we’re playing out the cleaning act.  The presentation of the tribes and by extension the color pie aren’t a clash but rather the cleaning act.

Planeswalkers: If they aren’t named Garruk or Liliana then they’re kinda just there. Sorin is responsible for creating Avacyn and upon returning to Innistrad he’s pissed as hell about what’s going on…so he does nothing except lecture the vampires. His plotline has just been stopped in the middle. Not to mention that when he finds out that Avacyn is trapped in the Helvault he’s determined to free her; only for Liliana to do the honor.  Tibalt is a native to the plane but doesn’t really do anything, he’s flavorful to a certain extent. Tamiyo makes sense due to the importance of Innistrad moon, but her storyline starting in the last block of the set means it has no room to go. Liliana is able to kill Griselbrand wile Garruk is unsuccesful in killing Liliana, he’s also still available for a future block. All of the planeswalkers except for Liliana didn’t do anything that lasts; they’re exactly where they were when the block started.

Tribes: While Innistrad and Dark Ascension had a tribal theme going on while Avacyn Restored means that these tribes are either heavily downplayed or wiped out. The Cursemute is Avaycn’s magic that solves the werewolf problem in one nice tidy effect by turning them into wolfir a.k.a wolfmen. This wouldn’t be so bad except there’s a total of 2 wolfir cards in the set. Instead we have some spirits and some random animals that could have just as easily been wolfir. Werewovles also got most of the attention, as their destruction is accounted for, while the other monster tribes don’t have a reason for dropping off like they do.  Zombies are still present, it’s just that most of them are in black, which lacked a flavor aside from Reanimator. The skaabs worked off of a self mill theme, but self mil isn’t a mechanical theme, so they had to go. Zombies are also constructs, so they have to be made, and that’s a separate issue.  Vampires are marginalized as demons and humans squeezed them out of their colors. Spirits/Geists were more of a creature group than a fleshed out tribe and felt kinda scattered. Some of them like the Geist of St. Traft are good while cards like Mausoleum Guard present them as a threat. Humans have branched out to a degree that they hand’t in the block and are in every color but black for AVR. So what happened to all of those cultists?  While breaking the tribes is meant to show Avacyn and humanity’s victory, the manner in which it was done leaves something to be desired.

Color Pie: Mark Rosewater has stated that the color pie is one of the three most distinctive features of Magic, so how the color pie works out in a set is important. The primary color at is black, since black has explicitly been evil this entire block, while white has been good and the other three colors vary. As mentioned before, black is a pretty terrible color, it seems to work best as a mono black, which on one hand is a nice intersection of flavor and mechanics. Good is winning and no one wants to be on the losing team. It also produces another result though, that evil is beaten and on the run. It’s not a clash for the ages but a clean up operation. The problem is that it’s really hard to have one without the other, and I honestly don’t know how you could do it in the same structure.  Possibly by approaching the flavor on cards in a very specific manner. Black also has the problem of its cards are forgettable, partly cause their bad, but partly because they don’t appeal to my inner Timmy of that’s cool at all. Red being filled with humans does nicely encapsulate the feeling of rage and fighting back though. The other three colros don’t really have all that much, white is still good, green has become a lot more beastial, in a non horror kind of way, and blue is just there. It seems to have the weakest theme out of the five colors aside from a need for it to be good compared to the darkness that the past two sets had.

Set Mechanics:  There are three set mechanics: loner, soulbond and miracle, and I’ll go through how well they uphold in terms of flavor. The loner mechanic refers to cards that revolve around having only one creature in play. It’s the loner mechanic that gives the impression of evil being on the run instead of a fight. Soulbond is the exact opposite, in that’s its supposed to represent teamwork and the forces of good banding together. Which makes the fact that blue and green having it primarily loses the point. A fact that isn’t helped by the fact that none of the soulbond cards can afford to have flavor text; the reminder text for soulbond takes up half the card. Miracle is exactly what it says, a miracle when you topdeck it, considering that there are no cards like ponder (technically there is amass the components but that’s a corner case.) So the most flavorful of them all is Miracle, but it’snot like the competition was all that fierce to be honest.

Characters: Innistrad is more than just its setting, but it also has a cast of characters that have been driving the action. While some like Mikaeus got their own plot arc and cards, others did not. Remember the part where Thraben was laid siege to? that was the product of crazy necromancer siblings as a friendly contest. Yet Geralf and Gisa only have quotes of flavor texts instead of their own cards. Edgar Markov, the man who created vampires and Sorin’s grandfather, could have worked as a big, probably unplayable, mythic rare.  A legendary wolfir wouldn’t be uncalled for either. The angels and Griselbrand work from a flavor point of view.

Artwork: The artwork is top notch and is rather awesome. And because it has to be addressed, I think Triumph of Cruelty and Triumph of Ferocity are thematic and appropriate given the characters involved.

Taken as a whole, the flavor is underwhelming. The story ends on a vague but happy note while at the same time the ending is unsatisfying as the plots started in the first two sets aren’t concluded while other plots are started. The mechanics are a far more mixed bags that while having some things that work rather well; also have some failings, some of them being greater than others. In comparison to the flavor that the first two sets of the block provided, Avacyn Restored’s missteps stand out all the more as a result.

If you have any comments or feedback than feel free to respond. I’ll do another one of these with RTR in October.

Ticket to Ride (Steam) Review

Ticket to Ride is one of those boardgames that stands as an example of how to port a boardgame into a digital medium and have it work rather well; with their iOS version. Last week a PC version was released on Steam and for the most part it delivers.

Gameplay: The gameplay is a faithful adaption of the boardgame with a tutorial and manual in game to help new players. I’m not going to cover how the game plays out, as that’s outside the purview of this review. The game has the original map as a default, but Europe, Switzerland and USA 1910 are available as DLC if you want some more variety. It allows for both online and offline play with anywhere from 2-5 players. I’ll break down the unique parts of each.

Offline: Select any number of players and you’re pitted against the needed number of AI players. While the AI is fast enough, their level of competence is a bit off. Certain AI characters are better than others and there’s no way to customize this as far as I can. The most challenging games are going to be 4 or 5 as the third character is the toughest to beat. The result is that the game can be a bit solitaire as the hardest part is getting everything to work out for you. While turns can take a bit of time it stills goes reasonably fast.

Online: Here you can either pick a certain player amount or just let the game sort you into a game. It uses the ELO ranking system, which I assume is used to sort out games. It also has a karma system to punish people who disconnect during a game, but I don’t know if you can check it.  Not having any friends who own this I can’t tell if you can choose to play against them. I haven’t spent all that much time online but it seems to be perfectly functional.

User Interface: Hand management, and placing out trains is seamless. When selecting Destination cards the relevant cities are highlighted. My two major problems are that it’s not easily clear whose turn it is, and the game is a bit screwy in relation to the steam interface. So far it only seems to work when I’m in windowed mode, which is good since the fact that has a working windows mode is a major plus in my book; bad cause it isn’t needed. When I tried it fullscreen the steam interface wouldn’t work. However the actual gameplay part of the UI are perfectly fine.

Sound: The music is thematically appropriate for the era that the game takes place in, and is also incredibly annoying. Since I prefer to listen to my own music when I’m playing this, that’s perfectly fine. There are also sound cues for when it’s your turn and the like, while they’re useful and compensate for some flaws with the user interface I drown them out with my music.

Final Thoughts: Ticket to Ride offers a faithful adaptation of the boardgame with plenty of bells and whistles. While the offline game can only be challenging for so long, the possibility of online play and DLC means that this game has plenty of life. The game’s shortcomings are, in the grand scheme of things, rather small and can be overlooked. The game is well worth its price tag of 10 dollars.

Final Grade: A-

The importance of flavor and theme

Games have always been about more than just their mechanics or their narrative for lack of a better term. A game is the culmination of both of these broad elements. Even chess has a narrative structure to it on some level, but for various reasons that narrative has been removed over time. While in non videogames the mechanics are far more important than the theme or the flavor, the narrative is still important. And games that are made today don’t have the same luxury of being chess. There’s a lot more competition and a lot more people with differing tastes. (Note I will be referring to flavor and theme collectively as the game’s narrative)

On one hand you have a game such as Dominion, where the narrative is that your parents have died and you, unlike them, are actually going to build up your kingdom/realm/fiefdom.  The flavor is really easy to forget and this doesn’t really change with the expansions. While there is a certain theme to each set, the unifying factor tends to be the mechanic, such as Intrigue being about choices.  On one hand, Dominion is a really well built game; on the other hand, some people dislike Dominion because it’s just the mechanics.  Depending on what type of gamer you are, that last sentences has just made you roll your eyes, or say of course, or something in between. The thing is there’s noting wrong with that, gaming is an incredibly diverse field that makes both happy.

While Dominion has very little flavor, it still has a flavor. A Village is a Village and not 3 cost action card no. 2. for instance and this matters. It gives players a way to play the game with ease by clearly and concisely defining every card.  There is still a narrative present and some cards are rather flavorful, City from Prosperity comes to mind, it grows as the game goes on as things build up. However the general rule of thumb for Dominion is that the narrative exists so that players have something to work with when they’re actually playing the game and not just design designations.

One more point about Dominion, the deck building genre that it spawned does have more flavorful games. So it isn’t something that is restricted by genre.

Conversely, there’s a game like Mansions of Madness where the flavor is rather strong, or at least can be strong for a certain type of player. The mechanics are a decent base surrounded by crud. For someone who wants a flavorful game experience then MoM fits, for someone who wants a well balanced game, then they should try something else.

These two extremes don’t represent the only options with gaming however. Take Twilight Struggle for example, it’s steeped in the history of the Cold War and playing it out can be fun. On the other hand, you can not know anything about history and still enjoy it because it’s a good game.  Ignoring the difference of genres between the two games for a moment, the player who can’t get into Dominion will have no problem getting into Twilight Struggle.

So this all raises the fairly valid point, so what? Well a narrative is important in both designing a game and marketing a game. In design it gives you direction and constraint. In marketing it allows you to appeal to a wider audience.

Admittedly part of this is purely speculation on my part, but it’s also important speculation. As I’ve seriously begun the process of creating my own game, in designing everything from the the names to the effects, a certain narrative begins to build. Forging it into a cohesive narrative can only improve a game, not hinder it.  But there may be elements to this that I’m missing for some reason or another; whether it’s a lack of experience or just not thinking of something. Regardless a game needs a narrative, and there’s no reason why that narrative has to be bad.

Until next time this is a horrible pondering on good people saying horrible things.

M13 Spoiler Season

Ah summertime, school’s out, the weather’s nice, and oh yeah it’s time for another spoiler season of mtg. I tend to use mtgs since I lurk there now and then anyway.  With a passing interest in pauper the most this set is really going to mean to me is anyway new cards they print and reprint( I can always hope of a reprint of serrated arrows and rancor can’t I?) Exalted being the set mechanic will help that along, mainly since gold cards aren’t really a thing in core sets. I have no plans in drafting this since I can still do DII on mtgo or I can just wait for RTR, which is going to either be awesome or bitter disappointment.

All that being said, spoiler season is still fun because I’m a lurker and when not reading posts by hostile jackass on the internet, it’s fun. So happy spoiler season everyone.



Avacyn Restored Limited Thoughts

So MTGO finally has AVR up and I’ve done a few drafts in order to stave off boredom and to see if I like the format.  The first point has been succesful, the second one not so much.

First some background: I started playing Magic in October/November of last year and have been doing some drafts periodically on MTGO.  While at first I really sucked at triple ISD, I got the hang of it and can at least acquit myself well. It’s also really fun(I can’t say if it’s a fun format or not because I have no frame of reference) Also I know I suck.

AVR on the other hand? Well my first draft went well but every since it’s been kinda disastrous, and by kinda I mean really.  At least I kinda know what I’m doing wrong, but that’s not much of a consolation.

So in AVR there are two really important things that weren’t so important in DII. One of them is the actual drafting part and the other is mulligan. I’ll break down these two parts.

When it comes to the actual draft, I seem/know I’m not reading the signals right or picking sloppily. These are always important things, but in AVR they really matter because of several factors. First, the cards are bad taken as a whole and in a vacuum.  But in the set there are good and bad cards, just more of the latter than the former. So your picks are really important.  This is not only compounded by the card quality, but also by the fact that changing colors is really hard. Add in the fact that mana fixing is really  rare, off the top of my head I can think of four cards that help with this, and two of them are rares. One last point, not all colors are created equal, go check out this article for some mathematical breakdown.  It should be noted that Mark Rosewater has stated that black is the hardest to play, which might stabilize once people understand the format.  And if people are avoiding it like the plague then it should be easy to get the good pieces.

The other issue that stands out is when to mulligan. Tempo is the name of the game, and your hand needs to reflect this, so hands that were playable in DII may not be in AVR. It’s another thing to learn about.


In all of the games of AVR I’ve played, I can’t really say I’ve had fun in the same way that I did with DII. The format hasn’t really grabbed me. In the few drafts I’ve done I’ve also picked up close to playsets of stuff that seems to be worthwhile in pauper(I’ve been slowly building up a pauper collection so I can get into that, the fact that I’m cheap kinda hurts this progress)

Until next time, this is good people saying horrible things.