game tagged posts

Theros Casual & Commander Review: White

Theros is a weird set. Over the last few years, Wizards has really pushed limited formats but that comes at a cost of complexity in cards. But this also means a lot of cards that are only playable in limited and not even something I would consider fringe playable at the kitchen table. Theros’s Voltron-inspired design makes for some odd choices that just don’t seem to quite click just yet but I’m hoping it will come together in the next two sets.

Like all of our Casual & Commander reviews, I will be looking at each card individually and comparing it against all the cards in Magic’s history to see which ones make the cut to the kitchen table and which ones should just be tossed into your Bulk box now. First up is white.

Theros Casual & Commander Review
White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Multicolor, Artifacts & Lands

Battlewise Valor

Simple pump spell with a dash of scry isn’t bad, and the addition of Heroic makes this card a little more exciting than Mighty Leap. But it still isn’t terribly exciting. What a way to begin!

Cavalry Pegasus

As mentioned in our Heroes vs. Monsters review, Cavalry Pegasus is a new human lord… and a flying horse. In limited, this is good but outside of it, eh.

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Magic: the Gathering Duel Decks Review: Sorin vs. Tibalt

The newest Magic: the Gathering Duel Decks got released over the weekend, and like always, the price kept climbing so I waited until I spotted them for MSRP and picked up a pair. Once a year, Wizards release a set of Duel Decks focused on a pair of Planeswalkers battling it out and this year, we’re going back to Innistrad as Sorin and Tibalt go head to head.

Suggested Ages: 13+
Suggested Players: 2 players

  • 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

Like the other Duel Decks, Sorin vs. Tibalt is two 60-card decks specially made to battle one another. For the spring releases now, it seems like Wizards is sticking to two planeswalkers from the previous block which I love for two big reasons: it makes planeswalkers super accessible to casual and new players and it ties back in with sets you can currently buy. These Duel Decks also include two spirit tokens with Magic card backs (with the Avacyn Restored art),  two deck boxes (which can’t fit sleeved decks), a how-to-play insert and a strategy insert outlining how the decks work.

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Castles and Cooks Holiday Gift Guide

Buying gifts for gamers can be a real challenge. They are constantly picking up the newest games, Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: the Gathering might as well be foreign languages. So the Castles & Cooks brain trust joined forces to come up with 25 fantastic holiday gifts in a variety of price points.

Chocolate Dice – $8
If you need a stocking stuffer for any tabletop player, get them a delicious treat in the shape of a set of dice. It’s cheap, adorable and delicious. Available in white, 6o% and dark chocolate.

Bag O Zombies – $10
This is a bag of 100 zombies for $10, how is that not awesome? Any self-respecting DM can find a reason to use these, but when don’t you need a bag of zombies? It doesn’t matter if you play ZOMBIES or not – and they come in regular zombie gray or glow-in-the-dark!

LEGO Gandalf Arrives – $13
Lord of the Rings holds a special place in almost every geek’s heart, but as a desktop decoration, they don’t get more perfect than this. Gandalf’s cart is adorable and full of fireworks and a LEGO Frodo may be the cutest thing in the world.

Hogwarts Acceptance Letter – $15
Even if it didn’t arrive on your 11th birthday, getting a personalized acceptance letter to Hogwarts will bring a smile to any wizard’s holiday.

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Custom Gaming: Batman Zombicide

Since posting this, we have revisited Gotham City for Zombicide and have updated this character. To see the new Batman, with revised rules, visit Zombicide: Gotham City.

The streets of Gotham have become overrun with a new menance. Gone are the Joker and his goons, but this new plague would make Black Mask shudder.

But they forget one thing. This is my city.

And I will do anything to protect her. I am the Dark Knight.

After the success of my last foray into customizing Zombicide, this weekend was spent playing Zombicide with a group of friends who had never gotten to play it. The biggest enjoyment people got was from the various thinly-veiled parodies that each character represented and they wanted more.

Originally the plan was to do an entire Justice League or an assortment of Batman’s rogue gallery – if anything would bring Batman and the Joker together, it would be the zombie apocalypse. But then I started designing Batman’s card and he’s a complicated (and awesome) hero.

So here is the Dark Knight himself:

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Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Review: Gold, Artifact & Land

I know what you’re thinking, how can a Return to Ravnica review have gold cards when we already did the guild reviews (followed by how come it has taken this long to judge cards)? Well, one card didn’t have a guild symbol. So there.

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

Vraska the Unseen

Planeswalkers are an interesting breed for multiplayer games. The normal test is can they defend themselves, but when facing down three or four opponents, defending isn’t a real option – until now. Vraska’s +1 evokes No Mercy with great delight. Taking a page out of the Azorious playbook, her ability lasts until your next turn so unless someone can one-short this gorgon, she’s going down with one hell of a fight.

Her -3 is great since everyone loves Vindicate (well, except the person it has been cast against). Then there is her ultimate which is hilariously over the top. Getting three 1/1 assassins isn’t great, but getting mini-Phages is amazing. Thankfully they only trigger off combat damage, but I’m just dying to play around with the assassins and Camouflage. Oh, and this seals the deal on my Golgari-Populate deck idea.

Chromatic Lantern

This is mana fixing! For anyone considering any multicolor (or even mono-colored) Commander deck, you probably want to run this. We may have finally found a replacement for Darksteel Ingot! But where this card interests me most is the weirder color combinations that don’t always get mana fixing support – like white-red-black. Oh, and this is a minor piece of mana acceleration.

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Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Review: Green

Green is usually the most multicolor-friendly color thank to an abundance of color fixing. For Commanders, that usually means green becomes a cornerstone of any 5-color deck (or four color at the kitchen table – unless you like playing on hard mode).

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

Arial Predation
Green keeps getting more and more targeted flier removal. While strictly better than Wing Snare, Aerial Predation’s measly two life doesn’t compare to Eaten by Spiders.

Giant spiders are usually decent, but the combination of reach and trample just feels wrong. When monogreen has access to gems like Silklash Spider, why would you pay seven for a 5/5? It gets even more absurd when you go into the multicolor spiders that really defend you.

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Kickstarter Round-Up: Cards, Dice, Tiles and… Salmon?

There is no denying how absurdly popular Kickstarter has become in the gaming industry. But while anyone can toss up their idea, it takes something truly unique to catch my attention and earn my pledge. Here are four projects that Castles and Cooks will be backing.

Salmon Run

Status: Funded!
End date: Sunday October 28, 11:00am EDT
Minimum Pledge to get the game: $36
Expected release date: March 2013

What is it: A fast-paced racing game for everyone! Rapids, waterfalls, bears, & eagles all await the salmon on their quest upriver to spawn.

Why you should pledge: In the few years I’ve been active in the board gaming community, I’ve seen a handful of trends come and go. Orcs and goblins are always popular, and Zombies took everyone by storm. But when was the last time you got a game with a theme that is truly unique? Eric and Scott at Games and Grub (they are either our archnemeses or clones of Tom and myself, I can’t tell) did a fantastic interview with the game’s designer, Jesse Carton, about the game and also got the chance to test out a prototype. I’m interested in it because this looks like a fantastic way to introduce people to board gaming with a theme that isn’t quite as off putting as driving around as a deputized hobo punching shut portals in Arkham.

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Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Review: Black

Monocolored reviews in a set like Return to Ravnica is boring. All the fun cards are gold or hybrid, which leaves just a handful of monocolored cards to sift through. And it takes a lot of sifting to find the gold – and I don’t mean gold cards. I found those just fine.

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

 Assassin’s Strike

For a while, there was a time when the idea of black getting unrestricted creature removal was awesome. Now, black is able to kill pretty much any creature. At six mana, killing one creature at sorcery speed just isn’t enough.

Catacomb Slug

Main deck this in your slug deck.

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Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Review: Red

Unlike normal sets, the color wheel is slightly out of whack. Black and red have switched places so instead of black, red is getting reviewed after blue!

As that weird mono-red Commander who doesn’t play Kiki-Jiki, I always get excited when I see new red cards for my Jaya deck. And while Blue felt like more of the same, Red in Return to Ravnica is very, very exciting.

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

Annihilating Fire

And when I mean very, very exciting, I don’t mean this card. If scavenge, dredge, undying or persist are huge issues at your table, this is an okay removal spell (Disintegrate would cost 4 for the same effect). It really is one of those metagame dependent calls that I can’t make for you.

Ash Zealot

Last night I tried out my Crosis Commander deck which is all about reanimation from everyone’s graveyard. Then Josh played Grafdigger’s Cage on turn 2 and my deck was shut down. Ash Zealot is an amazing two-drop. Red usually doesn’t get two abilities on a 2/2 for RR. But the final ability is the perfect piece of table hate. When Memory Plunder, Snapcaster Mage or flashback spells become a hassle, she viciously punishes people with Lightning Bolts.

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Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Review: Blue

The second stop on this tour of the Return to Ravnica color wheel reminds me a lot of some older sets. Mainly that it opens with an amazing whimper. For blue mages who want excellent control spells, you’re going to be disappointed. For Johnnies looking for weird cards, you’re in luck!

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

Aquus Steed

Here is how I envision this card working:

Mage 1: “Look at my horse!”
Mage 2: “What in the nine hell is that?”
Mage 1: “Ha! Now you are confused and get -2/-0!”

End scene.


The art of Mr. Explodey Hand is wasted on this reprint. Also if you like counterspells, I don’t like you as a person.

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