Some Fun Casual Formats

After like four years of playing Magic the Gathering, I have found that many of the formats that Wizards of the Coast Promotes aren’t as creative as they can be. For one, most decks have to be 60 cards with no more than 4 copies of any one card. Generally, these are the standard deck construction types. However, why not try something new? How about trying out a new format where you have to build a new type of deck? Here I have compiled a list of formats which are generally unsupported by Wizards of the Coast, but are fun to play at your kitchen table.

Special Deck Formats

Pentagram- Ever wondered what it would look like if hqdefaultthe five colors of Magic went to war against each other? If so, Pentagram may be right for you. In this variant, five players play a game of Magic the Gathering against each other, but are only allowed to use cards of their assigned color. For example, the player representing white is only allowed to use white cards, and so on and so forth for the other colors. play begins with the white player, then goes clockwise. The winner is the last person left in the game.

Prismatic- If you think a commander deck is too small, try this fun format. Here, each player needs a 250 card deck with at least 20 cards of each color. The game then plays like a normal game of Magic the Gathering, except for the minor difference that the big deck mulligan rule is added. The rule states that if the first player’s initial hand has 0, 1, 6, or 7 lands in it, that player can mulligan and draw a new hand of 7 cards (rather than the usual 6).

Tribal Wars-magic_expansion_elvesvsgoblins_other2pic_en In the tribal wars format, two players will each choose a creature type such as elves, goblins, merfolk, etc. and will need to put at least 20 of that creature type into his or her deck. The game plays like a normal game of Magic. However, some playgroups will add a twist and say that you can’t use some of the more popular creature types such as humans, goblins, elves, or merfolk, and instead use some tribe that doesn’t have as much depth to it such as gremlins, cephalids, or cats. Other groups will play with only standard or modern legal cards.

Draft Formats

Cube (Cube Draft)- Do you love drafting and being able to do it whenever you want but not have to pay $12 every time you want to draft? If so, you should build a cube. A cube is a set of around 360 cards that are built to make a fun draft environment. Players will begin the draft by shuffling the cards together, and dealing out three fifteen card “packs” to each player. The draft continues like a normal draft, and once the event is over, all players will remove all basic land cards that they added to their decks, and shuffle them back to draft again and again. Some players like to add really good and competitive cards to their cube, while others will only add in bulk cards that they have lying around in their collection that they have no other use for.

Reject Rares Draft- Some people have way too many cards that they don’t use. A lot of them have the rare rarity, yet they don’t have any function or value. Sometimes called bulk rares, these cards generally are good, but have some reason for not being played such as a different card doing its job better. A Reject Rares draft is a draft format where each participant donate 45 of these bulk rares to be shuffled together, then drafted. The cards drafted by each player are kept, or can be donated to a group pile to make a bulk rare cube.

I personally feel like these formats are fun to play, but what do you think? Have you tried any of these formats, or feel like trying them? What should I talk about next time? Let me know in the comment section down below.

My Thoughts on Each of Wizards of the Coast’s Sealed Decks

Wizards of the Coast has made many products over the years. Some of them are good and fun to play with, but others have fallen subpar, so I will help guide you through each of the products one by one. Quick disclaimer though, some of the products are discontinued, and others have been renamed and slightly changed.

Intro Deck/Planeswalker Deck:

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In my opinion, these are the worst products Wizards of the Coast makes. Why? These products cost $15 for junk, junk, and two booster packs. First, lets look at the deck itself. The deck is generally poorly made by using cards that people generally wouldn’t use, claims to contain not one but two Rare Cards, (neither of which will ever have a price above a dollar) and in the newest version it has a Planeswalker Card and easy ways to get them out. However, the planeswalkers are generally bad cards, and not even in the most casual of games, would they ever be used. However, I know what you may be thinking right now; “What about the new player who needs a deck easy to use and will get the excitement of opening up some booster packs?” Well, to answer that, there is  another product that I will talk about later, that addresses those issues.

Welcome Decks

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By far the least known about MTG product, these five decks serve as a starting point for entering the world of Magic the Gathering. These 40 card decks are generally balanced against each other, and are extremely easy to play. There is only one bulk rare in each deck, and the best part about these decks is that they’re free at most big local gaming stores. All you need to do is just ask for two, one for you and one for a friend, and enjoy learning the game of Magic. If they don’t have those decks in the store, the deck lists are online, and are easy to assemble. Keep in mind that these are not for people who actually play the game, as none of the cards can be resold for anything more than pennies.

Duel Decks/Clash Packs:

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Yes, I know that these are two completely different products, but hear me out why I think that they are extremely similar. Although the Clash Packs were priced at $25 and the Duel Decks cost $20, they’re extremely similar. For one, both products contain two decks that are fun to play against each other, and are generally really balanced. Plus, in each set of decks there are fun cards like planeswalkers and Siege Rhinos. However, the clash packs contained two similar decks that could be combined together to make one powerful deck that can put up a good fight against most decks at events such as FNMs or Game Days. However, sadly the Clash Packs have been discontinued, and now there are only three sets left in existence.

Event Decks:

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Up until recently, there used to be a series of event decks that cost around $25 that were generally good decks that were pseudo-top tier decks. The only thing that was different about them was that they tried to incorporate some new abilities into already good decks. In addition, they were one of the best ways to enter into the standard format, or a way to play even if you forgot your deck. However, they too have been discontinued.

Commander Decks:

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Although I have talked about these in a previous blog post Commander Products, Good or Bad? I will reiterate some of my favorite and least favorite parts about them. First off, for $40, you will receive a great arsenal of cards that are sure to crush even some of the most competitive decks without much effort. They are great and some of the best products Wizards of the Coast makes hands down. However, the one thing that I don’t like about them is the fact that they can make new cards with abilities that completely change the game and how its played. For example, making planeswalkers able to be commanders was a bad idea by Wizards of the Coast. Overall though I think that these decks are fun and easy ways to get into the commander format.

Thanks for reading all the way to the bottom. If I missed any sealed decks please be sure to let me know in the comments section down below, and please like and follow for more posts.

Commander Products, Good or Bad?

With the release of the new 2016 Commander Decks by Wizards of the coast, I feel like now is the time to speak what needs to be spoken. Dear Wizards, stop ruining the Commander format. Okay, let me explain where I’m coming from.

In case you don’t know, Commander started as a format known as Elder Dragon Highlander, and it was a bit different. For one, you can only use one of the original five elder dragons as your commander; those being Arcades Sabboth, Chromium, Nicol Bolas (The non-planeswalker version), Vaevictis Asmadi, and Palladia Mors. This was an extremely casual format, as Wizards of the Coast didn’t really support it and make cards specifically for it. However, as that group grew and started asking for DCI sanctioned tournaments, Wizards responded, and made it and official format. However, they changed the rules so that there was a ban list, and your commander could be any legendary creature. With this, they also released a set of five three colored commander decks to accompany this change.

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These decks however included new cards that specifically were only made to be commanders, and Command Tower. Command Tower is a card that allows commander players to play any color of mana with no drawbacks. This card is now the most used card in all of commander, and with a price tag of two dollars for a common that keeps getting reprinted, it’s easy to find, but ruins the format. While some people rejoiced that Wizards released a product that specifically benefitted Commander players, many more were hesitant that this would be too radical of a change, and that Wizards would in fact make these new cards must haves in any commander deck.

In newer commander decks (cough cough Commander 2014 and 2016) Wizards has begun to mess with the original idea of Commander; having one legendary creature who you think has a fun ability that you like, and build a deck for it. However, in the second Commander Deck product made by Wizards of the Coast, they printed three planeswalkers who could be your commander. This was an outrage to many people, as commander players didn’t want anything besides one legendary creature commander to be played as a commander. With this though, you can now have a planeswalker be your commander. Despite these being legal commanders to use, they are banned in many playgroups as they specifically are changing the rules of commander. The real question though was what will come next for these decks. Personally, I hoped that Wizards would take a step back and never make this mistake of allowing non-legendary creatures to be commanders ever again. So far, only legendary creatures have been commanders, for now.

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In these newest Commander decks though, Wizards has messed with Commanders once again. Now, you can have two commanders, as long as both have the new ability, Partner. Some of these creatures include Vial Smasher the Fierce, Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist, and Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker. All of these commanders can partner up with someone else who has this ability, and is able to somehow work together, even if they don’t share the same color identity. In all honesty though, allowing two creatures to be your commander is a bit awkward. While it does make some sense that Ludevic and his creation can command the deck together, I do think that it would be weird if Ludevic’s creation were to work with Ishai, a bird who translates Draconic for the monks of Ojutai. Ignoring the fact that this commander situation doesn’t make much sense flavor wise, I personally think that the idea that Wizards of the Coast can change such basic rules of the game is quite ridiculous and should not be done.

However, despite the commanders not following some of the format’s main principles, I do like the commander decks as a product. At least most of them are easy to play, and can hold their own against most decks that have a big name in the format. In addition, they are quite affordable at an MSRP of $34.99 and are highly customizable. In addition, they all have many needed reprints that help make more cards accessible. In addition, many of these decks can be upgraded to extremely competitive decks. I personally try to buy one of each from the different years. From the commander 2016 line, I have already ordered the Stalwarts Unity deck, and can’t wait to unbox it and play with it. These are fun decks, and I don’t want to see them be discontinued. I think that overall, they are among the best products that Wizards of the Coast makes, but I would like to see less Commander Specific cards, and more cards that can be played in modern 60 card decks with 4 cards of each copy.

Top 5 Flavor Fails

When it comes to Magic the Gathering, some things just don’t make much sense. After all, this is a game where your monsters attack your opponents monsters and they do the same. However, after almost 25 years of Wizards of the Coast making cards, there are some things that just don’t make any sense at all. Here are the top five of them in my opinion.

5. Alternate Win Conditions: While there are some cards such as Coalition Victory and Darksteel Reactor which sort of make sense why they would win the game, there are others that don’t make as much sense. After all, Coalition Victory looks like the United Nations just stepped in for you, and Darksteel Reactor is practically the Death Star from Star Wars. However, there are some cards like Chance Encounter and Biovisionary that don’t make much sense why you would win the game. After all, Chance Encounter basically just says that if your strategy involves flipping coins a lot, then you’ll probably win, and Biovisionary is some sort of human wizard mutant thing that only gets along with copies of himself…All I know about him is that he doesn’t make much sense, and using him in your deck is almost never a wise thing to do.

4. Scepter/Crown/Throne of Empires and Shield/Sword/Helm of Kaldra: So, I have no idea what Wizards of the Coast was thinking when twice, they thought everyone would want to play cards that you have to have as a three piece combo. Well, back then it was harder to find cards in your deck. In fact, the only color that had that capability at the time was black, and few decks would like to run artifacts in black because blue and red interacted so much better with artifacts. Now, despite no one ever using them, I would like to ask, how is it that your artifacts get better just because you have other specific artifacts? If I was an artificer, I would totally think to make a scepter more powerful only if you have my specific throne and crown as well. Oh yeah, and I know, what if we made it so that having all three out is really hard? This is one of the most ridiculous combo sets I have ever seen, and I’m glad that they don’t do it any more

3. Power and toughness of humans: There are some things that don’t make sense, and then there are some things that really don’t make sense. One of these things that really does not make sense is how strong humans are compared to other monsters and even themselves. Which do you think is more powerful, a generic human soldier, or a rat? If you said that most times the rat, you’d be shockingly accurate. Lets just take a moment to realize that a human soldier will without any buff spells will lose in a fight to a rat. This isn’t even a mob of rats, but just one rat. However, this is far from the only instance of a messed up power and toughness. Some humans such as Caller of the Hunt, Crusader of Odric, and Westvale Cult Leader all are humans who get bigger if you control many creatures, yet they aren’t one full and complete unit. I would imagine that these creatures being infinitely large is not what Wizards of the Coast imagined when making these cards.

2. Vehicles on Kaladesh: Yes, there is an artifact type called vehicles, and I have thought of some ways that they make little to no sense. The way that vehicles in Magic works is that if you control one or more creatures whose combined power is greater than or equal to the crew cost, you can tap them, and now the vehicle can be its how creature until the end of your turn. However, like many new and abstract mechanics, this comes with many opportunities for flavor fails. For example, because the crew cost for something like Sky Skiff which has a crew cost of one, almost any creature can crew it, right? Well, it would make sense that something like a Toolcraft Exemplar would be able to operate it, there are many things that I would find to be incompetent to fly it. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that Worldspine Wurm, Skysovereign, Consul Flagship, and Coral Eel would all have a hard time piloting this smaller skyship. Also, what happens if something unexpected happens and the vehicle is blown up while the pilots are inside? In the game, the creatures all have ejection seats apparently, so that they’re all safe, even if the vehicle is somehow destroyed like the opponent casting an Artifact Mutation on it. Also, one last thing to point out; the vehicles can be a legal target of Murder, so yeah. The concept of a vehicle probably shouldn’t have been brought to Magic in this way.

1. For the biggest flavor fail in all of Magic the Gathering, I’d say that it is none other than the idea of legendary creatures/planeswalkers. Both of these card types make absolutely no sense when both players have one of those out. The idea behind legendary creatures is that they are supposed to be the individuals who advance the story along. Some of these people make steadfast alliances and would never work with more than one individual at a time. How does it make sense that two players can each have a Captain Sisay as a member of their army? What would happen if the two would meet up? Is it that your legendary sneaks out when you aren’t looking and goes to your opponent when you aren’t looking? It also gets worse though, once you include the fact that your deck will most of the time have multiple copies of one or more legendary cards and planeswalkers. What is it like when your legendary dies, then oh wait, you play another? Ultimately, there are just some things best left unexplained.

Thank you for reading this blog post. While it is weird and unexpected that there are these flavor fails in Magic the Gathering, I do find it fun and entertaining to find more and more of them in a simple game. If you have any more bizarre flavor fails, please leave them down in the comment section for everyone to see. I would like to add a part 2 someday, and I’m open to suggestions.

Ulrich, Uncontested Alpha

*I do not own the names of anyone or anything in the story. They are all property of Wizards of the Coast.

Ulrich walked out of his home to see his village, Avabrook, in a riot. It was obvious that there was a werewolf attack the night before, as the town members were recollecting who was defending their homes from it. He knew though, that he must have been one of them, as he did not hear his name ever mentioned around. He also could figure out that if no one else could recall his presence, he would be hanged as well as other people who weren’t there. This must mean that he was among the attackers, as a werewolf.

That day, he paid extra close attention to the others in the town, as there were more from the town who weren’t there to help though. Was this his pack? his brothers? his kind? While he had noticed that there was no proof that he was a werewolf, he felt something inside of him. Was it guilt? sorrow? loss? His house was torn in pieces, many of his possessions were ripped to shreds. He had good reason to believe that he was a werewolf, and attacked his home, but he knew what would happen to him if they found this. He would be hung. To escape this, he escaped the town and ran. Running quickly, breathing heavily, dodging trees, he charged through the forest right outside of the town, and could not stop, he would just keep running.

As the sun was setting, he turned around. Maddened, he wanted to live in the forest and hurt no one else, yet he could not outrun what he already was. He was a werewolf, and the alpha. This was shown to his human side, as lone wolves embraced by the rising moon gravitated towards him, knowing how by night, he was their alpha.

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Ulrich, now embraced by the moon, knew who he truly was. He was a vicious predator seeking to feed. His pack was hungry too, and as the full moon was out for another night, his werewolf body dashed towards the village. He and his pack of wolves and werewolves slashed the town, feeding on them all. Their hunger, unfathomable. The town fought them, valiantly, but they were no match for the wolves. They all were slaughtered, as the wolves and werewolves did not want to be hungry any more.

That next morning, Ulrich woke up with the wolves and some other people near him. Startled, he asked them who they were. To that, they responded with “your pack.” He knew that they had to stick together, as a lone wolf would almost always be found by humans or would be prey for a larger beast. They decided to stick together, in the forest, where they could not hurt anyone, and they couldn’t be found by humans. They would be known as the Krallenhorde, and they would try to stay a peaceful group, and stay out of contact from people in any village.

Welcome to the Page

Hello, here at Blogging the Gathering I will explain many aspects of Magic the Gathering Magic the Gatheringa trading card game that I (and hopefully you) play casually. Although the game is fun and all, I feel as though the overarching story of the game is often times lost and ignored. Sometimes characters in the game itself will be ignored and never written about. For that, I’ve decided to write stories that may or may not make sense, trying to bring justice to characters who I feel deserve a spot in the story. Also, since the story isn’t everything, I also will be writing about certain decks running around the meta at the time such as vehicles, burn, and many more. To add on, I will also wright about my personal thoughts and opinions about this game. If you are interested, please follow my page, and more and more content is sure to be released.