Gatecrash Set Overview Part 1

Well it’s one of those times of year again, a new Magic set is upon us and this is one is interesting to say the least. This week I’ll be looking at things in broad strokes while next week will have some more precise thoughts in it. Let’s get started

The Guilds and Their Keywords

Boros: The Boros Legion have the Battalion mechanic this time around, which is when the creature that has it and two other creatures attack , it gives you a special effect.  Some of the cards that have are freaking nuts, like Legion Loyalist while others aren’t as flashy. The context of the board means everything and judging it its hard. When it works, it works and when it doesn’t it really doesn’t.

Dimir: House Dimir have Cipher, after you cast a spell you can put the ciphered spell on a creature and when they do damage to a player the spell effect triggers again. So its basically a way to make Auras better and in order to compensate for that all the spells are really expensive. Are you going to pay 4 to cantrip and then turn a creature into a Scroll Thief/Stealer of Secrets? Hexproof( and shroud actually since it doesn’t target) will want this the most. Even then its not all that great since it doesn’t make Ethereal Armor better. Everyone else can make use of this in limited if its a big enough dude.

Gruul: The Gruul Clans have Bloodrush, which basically means you have a creature that can also be played as a pump spell for less. I really like this ability, it smooths out your mana(well the best ones that you can reasonably expect to cast both ways) in that it still lets you use your cards even when you have mana problems, it helps with top decking them late game, and the abilities they grant are pretty good in the world of pump spells.  It also can’t be countered.

Orhoz: the Orhoz Syndicate have Extort, which is when you cast a spell you can pay either a black or white to do 1 damage to your opponent and gain that much life. It’s a kicker variant, where its all about incremental advantage and using up your mana. This is also a reasonable mechanic that comes on good cards to support it.

Simic: Last but not least, the Simic Combine have Evolve, whenever a creature with greater power or toughness enters the battlefield under your control put a +1/+1 counter on target creature. Keeps your creatures relevant throughout the game and Simic has counter shenanigans to go along with it. This is probably the mechanic I’m looking forward to the most in terms of actually playing with it. Its powerful, it does what green/blue likes to do and it keeps my early game creatures relevant. Its also a terrible top deck late game for that same reason.

the Guilds as Archetypes

I’m defining best card based upon the watermark and ability, they’re not necessarily multicolored 

Boros: At first glance they’re the other half of the token theme from Return to Ravnica and also have not inconsiderable part when it comes to auras. MoreQuantity is its own quality and haste is fairly important to turn on battalion. Skyknight Legionnarie is probably the best Boros Common.

Dimir:   Their thing is actually mill, like mill that might actually be viable in the sense of there’s more cards that support milling and they’re not terrible like say Chronic Flooding is. On the other hand, that gets said about every format before it sees play, so who knows? Horror of the Dim or Deathcult Rogue stand out to me as best commons for their synergy with cipher.

Gruul: As much as I like G/R aggro it still boils down to kill your opponent before they kill you by smashing in their face. Best common: pit fight: instant speed Prey Upon is nothing to scoff at.

Orhoz: Stabilize and use Extort to push through the win. Any of the common extort creatures seem good and somewhat interchangeable.

Simic: Grab all the lands and make all your creatures bigger. Best common seems to be Cloudfin Raptor.

More Generic Thoughts

This is a multicolor block and the fixing is still bad. On one hand there is prophetic prism, on the other hand gates, keyrunes and shocklands are kinda poor for limited as it turns out.

Speaking of gates, they matter a lot more in terms of other cards caring about them.

Looking it over 4 is still the magic number when it comes to toughness.

The Gruul are the new Rakdos in the sense of they’re the ones who want to beat in your face early while everyone else wants to hang around.  Everyone else wants to hang around for a while and build themselves up. Boros are kinda midrange in that they wan to be attacking but their attacks are more surgical in nature in that you want to se up battalion triggers.

Combat tricks are also important in this set like they were in RTR due to removal being tricky to work with.

Contaminated Ground seems to be really freaking annoying to play against, like close to Stab Wound level annoying, only not as not good.

There’s a rogue subtheme in the set, which is just really freaking odd.

Its hard to say much about the set at this point but I’m honestly skeptical about how good it will be as a limited format for no other reason than gut instinct. Also I really just want to see how dragon’s Maze ties all of this together.

Next week, I read other people’s thoughts on the internet and mix them with my own to get a better idea of this set actually works.

*This is also the reason that I’ve soured on RTR, it doesn’t do what I feel a gold block should do I and I can still play m13 anyway.

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Land, Land Everywhere, except when its not

Lands are one of the things that make Magic what it is. You need lands to play your spells and the main form of luck is in whether you get flooded/screwed on mana. While lands are the most boring part of Magic, they also guarantee that the game works.

What do I mean by lands are boring? Exactly that, lands aren’t spells, they don’t do cool things, they exist to let you do cool things. Which is why having the best art is important, you might as well have the versions that appeal to you. Leaving aside the lands that do more than that do in fact exist, they have a tendency of rare, which means that I usually don’t have any experience with them.* Lands annoy my inner Johnny and as a chronic result my Constructed decks tend to be short on lands. On the other hand fetchlands are awesome as they allow me to get more lands out of my deck, which means I’m more likely to draw spells and do cool things.

Of course lands being the way they are is very important, they’re the main way to have luck in the game. If you didn’t need lands then you could run all spells and run more spells which makes your deck consistent. Meaning that getting either mana screwed or mana flooded while being personally miserable is also good for he game as a whole. Pure skill in a game like Magic, where you are never just playing one game, but also the game of how you build your deck as well. I wasn’t playing Magic while Caw Blade was a thing but it sounds like an insufferable thing to play against but cool to watch two pros. Luck keeps the game accessible to newer players. So while  mana problems suck, they also make the game better. **

 

*Non basic lands should also have feasible land destruction for them and only them

**Tangent: people on mtgo who complain about the shuffler, that’s actual randomness at work, deal with it.

Blood and Chrome: Well that’s a thing

For better or worse the re imagined BSG series was one of the big shows of my teenage years. While the series did leave a bad taste in my mouth I still feel the desire to watch more of it, which lead me to watching Caprica as well as Blood and Chrome. Of course one of the advantages that Blood and Chrome had was its something I had wanted to see since the mini series. The final product is…okay. It has its highlights and it also has the same cancerous stupidity that plagues this franchise. Beware of Spoilers ye who enter

 

 

The Good: Stylistically this show is very much in the BSGverse in that its a pretty show*. While some of the special effects are a bit choppy towards the end it doesn’t detract. The plot and characters are well written and well played for the most part; well the actors are fine, but I’ll be coming back to the story. William Adama is believable in that he will grow up to be the Commander.  The action scenes are rewarding.

The Annoying: Calling references to Caprica and never expounding on them. Which is really a problem when an mention of the Ha’la’tha has the roots of beginning a plot line that never goes anywhere.** Bringing up Graystone Industries actually has me wondering what happened to the company and the whole Daniel Graystone plot; a show shouldn’t make me more interested in other shows. Which can be said for this as a whole, its trying to be both a pilot and a self contained thing but the result is somewhat of a dud. The technological downgrade that is talked about in BSG hasn’t happened yet so seeing the CIC elicits a more of a ‘what the hell am I looking at?” then any sort of nostalgia. Holobands have a similar problem although at this point it just seems that the writers don’t care about that detail from the original series. Or the Twelve Colonies undergo a Butlerian Jihad after the war.

 

The oh dear god, the stupid it burns:  Speaking of things the writers forgot, we can add the flashback from Razor as well as the entire reason that the Final Five were able to do anything to stop the First Cylon War to the list. The fact that they can already create realistic cyborgs means that the entire thing is ridiculous. I was willing to be far more lenient about this in Caprica because 1. it wasn’t related to the main Cylon plot and could have given more exposition on why the Cylons want human forms anyway and 2. there was a brief scene to show that at all, there’s nothing to really judge and by the end of it I was willing to go along with it.  But here it was just dumb, really dumb.

Is it worth watching: Yes, its entertaining, just not the best thing I’ve watched. And in a strict comparison Forward Unto Dawn, which can be said to have encouraged SyFy to stop sitting on this, Forward Unto Dawn wins.

Would I watch it if it was a full blown series: Yep, its still exactly what I want and every pilot has its rough spots.

*Even at its worst this franchise is always stylistically pleasing

**I guess Bill Adama grew to hate his father after everyone asked about the Ha’la’tha

Review: Reccetear: An Item Shop’s Tale

Capitalism ho!

Reccetear is an indie JRPG for the PC that you can buy through Steam. Based upon the last few steam sales its also one of those “franchises”* that will get a daily/flash deal price on it. So what does this strange game actually entail? Let’s get down to it.

Plot: So your dad ran off, took a huge loan and is presumed to be dead, or at the very least is lost. So you’re stuck paying the loan. While the loan company could just repossess the house its agent due to the power of friendship/narrativium has decided to help you by turning it into an item shop. Now you have to pay off the loan or you become homeless. Along the way you meet people and have adventures. The writing is light hearted and humorous.

Gameplay: There are two different modes in which you’ll be playing, the part where you run an item shop and the part where you go plundering dungeons for loot that you can sell for pure profit.

  • Item Shop: You lay out items in order to attract customers and then haggle with them. As you increase your merchant level you can do more things such as buy things form customers, redecorate your shop and have vending machines.
  • Dungeon:  this is rather standard action rpg stuff, you have a character who has a normal attack and a variety of special attacks. You kill stuff and take their loot. 

All of this has the end goal of paying off a larger amount of the debt each week. If you fail then its game over, but you can loop or start over. You get to keep just about everything other than your ending money, so it gets progressively easier.

User Interface: Perfectly serviceable, with the main complaint being that game was designed with a controller in mind. While you can use a keyboard with no problem, a mouse doesn’t do anything.

Sound: Generic jrpg sounds, if you like jrpgs then you know exactly what that means.

Replayability: Very High, its not that hard to clear the debt once you’ve looped once or twice. Instead a lot of the game’s value is in unlocking everything. There’s also survival mode, where the debt never ends and endless mode, where you can just play.

Final Thoughts: This is not a hard game for the most part. It is a fun game with plenty of content that will keep you entertained for hours on end.

Final Grade: 4/5

*Its not so much a franchise so much as the translation company has their catalog lumped together.