arena tagged posts

Arena Review: Duel Decks: Heroes vs. Monsters

My love of Duel Decks isn’t a well kept secret. I know, it sounds absurd to say that I love these little pre-constructed decks that draw across the planes of Magic, but I really do love them! With the September releases acting as a preview for the upcoming set, Heroes vs. Monsters is a good, old-fashioned battle of giant creatures. While Sorin vs. Tibalt soured on me as time went on (well, mostly just Tibalt – even I can’t get him to work), Izzet vs. Golgari are both intact in my deck box because they’re so much fun!

Suggested Ages: 13+
Suggested Players: 2 players
Contents:

  • Two ready-to-play 60-card decks
  • Two deck boxes
  • Two creature tokens
  • A strategy insert
  • A Magic “Learn to Play” guide

Retail price: $19.99 available at Amazon.com

Duel Decks is a series of decks that Wizards releases biannually in the spring and fall. In the spring, they are based around a duel of two planeswalkers from the previous block, while in the fall they act as a preview of the upcoming fall release. In the case of Heroes vs. Monsters, both decks are drawing a great amount of inspiration from the upcoming Theros set.

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Magic 2014 M14 Casual and Commander Review: Blue

Core sets in Magic have been interesting for a few years now, thanks to the fact that Wizards is printing new cards in them. But at the end of the day, core sets are about introducing people to Magic to the sheer insanity level of cards like in Return to Ravnica block, but that doesn’t mean every card in Magic 2014 isn’t worth looking at.

As a reminder, this review only covers cards that are new in M14, so all reprints are ignored.

Magic 2014 (M14) Casual & Commander Review
White Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts & Lands

Colossal Whale

What a beautiful way to start! My initial annoyance is that this is a whale, so it doesn’t work in my Quest for Ula’s Temple deck! I want to love this card, the flavor is perfect with it being a giant whale that can devour ships (and it has the wonderful new exiling language like Banisher Priest to make it very interesting in multiplayer), but how is this creature only a 5/5?

Dismiss into Dream

I wish this worked with Overload, but sadly it doesn’t. Dismiss into Dream is a clunky, almost unbearable enchantment that is probably perfect for a Nin, the Pain Artist deck. In multiplayer, it can get really fun when all of your opponents’ spells become removal against everyone who isn’t you.

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Magic 2014 M14 Casual and Commander Review: White

I didn’t end up reviewing Modern Masters from a casual and commander viewpoint for two reasons. 1) The set is ungodly expensive and under produced. 2) The entire set is reprints so when I eventually do my review of every Magic card ever, I’ll talk about all of them then (I’m not kidding). But with a new core set having just been released, that means some new cards.

So here’s the plan, every new card will get reviewed. Every reprint will get ignored. I mean, what else is there to say about Giant Spider besides it is one of the most perfect Magic cards ever?

Magic 2014 (M14) Casual & Commander Review
White Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts & Lands

Ajani’s Chosen

The big white cat returns with some new followers in M14. Ajani’s Chosen is the perfect rare for the kitchen table. The build-around-me nature of these cats allows it to find a home in your WG Enchantress deck, or create an entirely new kind of deck that mirrors Kemba in a weird way. Creating armies out of nothingness and the mega weird aura moving ability make this just a fun card. Easy combos include Flickering Ward for a free cat for only two mana and offers up better combo potential than Sigil of the Empty Throne since you don’t need to cast them.

In Commander, Ajani’s Chosen needs to play a support role with a commander. Thankfully, plenty of legends care about enchantments – like Hanna or Bruna. Or Uril. Gulp.

Angelic Accord

Whenever I read the word “each” on a Magic card, I start paying attention. Angelic Accord is a fine card but way too much of a board threat. Either this card is pumping out an angel every turn – while your life total keeps getting higher, or your opponents will unite to put a target on your head. It reminds me a lot of Luminarch’s Ascension, but that’s another card that drew too much hate to be playable at the kitchen table more than once.

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Arena Review: Marvel Legendary: Dark City

Legendary quickly became one of my favorite games at the beginning of this year. The combination of an incredible license, solid game play and a terrifying amount of options were enough for me to put its expansion in a must-buy-immediately category. Plus Tom was coming up the weekend after it was released, so I knew I was going to have a captive teammate.

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Arena Review: Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Deck-Building Game

I’ll be the first to admit that I have a problem. It seems like every time Cryptozic releases a new game, we get swindled into picking it up and end up disappointed. I don’t know why I keep doing it. Well, I have an idea. With Penny-Arcade: the Game – Gamers vs. Evil, it was my blind faith in Gabe and Tycho that didn’t really steer me wrong, it just had some kinks to work out.

The DC Deck Building game looked like the blend of excellent licensing and Ascension-like game play but it came up short when it came to depth and interesting choices. So when Cyrptozoic announced Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring Deck-Building Game, I originally was going to pass since it looked like little more than a reskin of the DC game but Rachael was interested in it and we had some extra Amazon dollars thanks to our affiliate sidebar. But I was wrong and the game surprised me in ways I didn’t quite expect.

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Arena Review: Zombicide Season 1 Survivor & Zombivor Add-Ons – Claudia, Ivy, Marvin & Eva

When Zombicide was on Kickstarter the first time, they offered special, optional add-on characters. There were only four in total, which is relatively tame compared to the 17 that got released for Season 2. But here’s where things get weird. The original add-on characters all dove into the deepest part of the copyright infringement pool and were able to come out unharmed. Not everyone here survived in quite the same way.

Two of the figures got changed from the original prototypes, which are fine by me since I knew I was buying them based on prototypes, not finished products. Ivy and Claudia emerged unscathed, but Marvin and Eva underwent some visual modifications.

From a post on Kickstarter, we were told this:

At Miramax’s request, Guillotine Games made some modifications to the costumes for Eva and Marvin – if you ordered them and don’t like what you got, we’ll be happy to take them back, just drop us an email.

For me, the changes weren’t much. Marvin looks a bit less like Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction. His hair is bigger, his tie is missing and he has a beard – that’s it for changes. Sure, the card shows him in a brown suit but a coat of paint makes him any color I want him to be! Eva was changed about the same amount. Her original design as the Bride from Kill Bill got shot down and her new figure is well disguised… by her wearing a jacket and a hat.

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Arena Review: Zombicide Set #1 Survivors and Zombi’vors

It’s crazy to think that Zombicide hasn’t even been out for a full year. The first Kickstarter ended just over a year ago and the Season 2 Kickstarter was insane to say the least. But as the original stretch goals mounted and add-ons continued Guillotine Games and Cool Mini or Not realized they wouldn’t be able to send everyone everything at once. So instead they sent out a second package of survivors.

First up is the set that everyone who backed the Abomination package on Kickstarter got: Set #1 Survivors and Zombi’vors. This package is compact (though assembled oddly – the back is upside down) and comfortably holds three new survivors, six zombivors (yeah, we’re dropping the apostrophe already), seven double-sided character cards and seven level trackers.

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Magic: the Gathering Dragon’s Maze Casual & Commander Review: Green, Golgari & Gruul

The final piece of the Dragon’s Maze casual and commander review takes a look at the green offers (not much), explores the undead Golgari (so much fun) and unleashes the Gruul clans on some unsuspecting individuals. As an added bonus, I also talk about a land!

Dragon’s Maze Casual & Commander Reviews
White, Orzhov & Selesnya | Blue, Simic & Azorius
Black, Dimir & Rakdos | Red, Izzet & Boros
Green, Golgari & Gruul

Gatecrash Casual & Commander Review
Orzhov Syndicate | House of Dimir | Simic Combine | Gruul Clans | Boros Legion
White | Black | Blue | Green | Red | Other

Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Reviews
Azorious Senate  | Izzet League | Cult of Rakdos | Golgari Swarm | Selesnya Conclave
White | Blue | Red | Black | Green | Gold, Artifact & Lands

Battering Krasis

LAND SHAAAAAAAAAAAAAARK! A decent little beater, I wouldn’t mind trying out the fish beast in some version of 10-land stompy, but he’s more limited than I’d like.

Kraul Warrior

The newest Invoker, Kraul Warrior doesn’t do a whole lot and is hampered by his creature types.

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Magic: the Gathering Dragon’s Maze Casual & Commander Review: Red, Izzet & Boros

Personally, when it comes to Commander, this entire block has had a lot of disappoints for me. But that’s because I run a monored Jaya deck in the format, so multicolored options limit me a lot. But when I’m not playing Commander, I love basking in all the colors – and Boros is one of my favorite color pairings.

Dragon’s Maze Casual & Commander Reviews
White, Orzhov & Selesnya | Blue, Simic & Azorius
Black, Dimir & Rakdos | Red, Izzet & Boros

Gatecrash Casual & Commander Review
Orzhov Syndicate | House of Dimir | Simic Combine | Gruul Clans | Boros Legion
White | Black | Blue | Green | Red | Other

Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Reviews
Azorious Senate  | Izzet League | Cult of Rakdos | Golgari Swarm | Selesnya Conclave
White | Blue | Red | Black | Green | Gold, Artifact & Lands

Awe of the Guilds

Mostly limited fodder, Awe of the Guilds can make for some interesting plays due to its limitations. But being sorcery speed means you can’t use it to screw combats you aren’t directly involved with.

Clear a Path

Well, you now have a way to stop Wall of Deni- nope, you still don’t.

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Magic: the Gathering Dragon’s Maze Casual & Commander Review: Black, Dimir & Rakdos

This review takes the darkest color and pairs it up with its two natural allies in a delicious Grixis blend. Black is always fun in multiplayer, but when combined with red or blue, it is a combination of colors that can do pretty much anything. So whether you like the secrecy of Dimir, the recklessness of Rakdos or the selfishness of black, this Dragon’s Maze review is for you.

Dragon’s Maze Casual & Commander Reviews
White, Orzhov & Selesnya | Blue, Simic & Azorius
Black, Dimir & Rakdos |

Gatecrash Casual & Commander Review
Orzhov Syndicate | House of Dimir | Simic Combine | Gruul Clans | Boros Legion
White | Black | Blue | Green | Red | Other

Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Reviews
Azorious Senate  | Izzet League | Cult of Rakdos | Golgari Swarm | Selesnya Conclave
White | Blue | Red | Black | Green | Gold, Artifact & Lands

Bane Alley Blackguard

This is an odd vanilla creature. But Wizards is shifting black into the higher toughness than power bracket with this set. But for me to care about a vanilla creature, it has to do something special.

Blood Scrivener

The power of this card is absurd. Being a 2/1 zombie for 1B is already solid, but that ability is exceptional. As someone who’s playstyle regularly goes all-in, having a quick way to refill your hand is nice. It pairs wonderfully with Hellbent in a twisted way, but what I really love is that it triggers whenever you would draw a card – not just during your draw step.

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