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Posts from the ‘Battle for Zendikar Block’ Category


Oath of the Gatewatch: Surge of Resistance Review (Part 2 of 2)

Last time we had a chance to game, we tested out the last deck we had to review of Shadows over Innistrad. Today, we’ll be bringing Oath of the Gatewatch to an overdue conclusion with Surge of Resistance, a Red/Blue deck that features- surprise!- the surge mechanic. Joining me at the table is Josh, who is running the Blue/Colorless Twisted Reality. Can Zendikar’s defenders keep the Eldrazi at bay, or will the relentless tide overwhelm them? Let’s find out!  Read more »


Battle for Zendikar: Zendikar’s Rage Review (Part 1 of 2)

If you’ve enjoyed fantasy and science fiction, you’ve probably come across Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” (also known as the “monomyth“).  In studying a number of world mythologies and legends, Campbell found that there was a template that came up in a large number of them. A simple summary might go as follows: a hero goes on a journey or adventure, overcomes adversity, and emerges transformed by the experience. (This is a superb illustration of the principle). This was in fact the template quite deliberately used for The Weatherlight Saga, Magic’s multi-block story arc that kicked off with Tempst (after having the table set with Weatherlight itself).

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Battle for Zendikar: Swarming Instinct Review (Part 1 of 2)

Today’s deck, Swarming Instinct, is in some ways a symbol of failure. It’s not the deck itself- we’d hardly make that kind of a judgment without looking through the deck first- but rather, it’s a failure that wasn’t at first apparent when Wizards released Battle for Zendikar. Indeed, only with the perspective granted by the passage of time (and good data collection) can we see just where things went wrong.

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Battle for Zendikar: Rallying Cry Review (Part 1 of 2)

Back in 2010, while reviewing The Adventurers from Zendikar, I wrote, “[Allies are] a solid and delightfully fun mechanic, one that I hope is revisited in future sets down the road.” Although it somehow feels like less time has elapsed somehow, it was just a six-year wait.

As initially designed, however, the Allies were a bit different than what we know to be their final form.

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Oath of the Gatewatch: Vicious Cycle Review (Part 2 of 2)

Departing the benighted plane of Innistrad for a moment, we’re back at the besieged one of Zendikar. When we last looked at Vicious Cycle, we found a sacrifice-style deck with some intriguing synergies. Of course, what looks good on paper doesn’t always play well, so we’re put it to the test. Joining me is Phil, piloting Concerted Effort, the White/Green support deck.  Read more »


Oath of the Gatewatch: Surge of Resistance Review (Part 1 of 2)

“May you know the joy of finding an untapped design vein.”

So Mark Rosewater, head designer of Magic: the Gathering, concluded his column of 21 July, 2014. Entitled “At All Costs,” the feature looked at all of the different cost-reduction mechanics available in the game of Magic. In many cases, such as using life as a currency for mana, much of the design space has already been mined, from Snuff out to Dismember. That isn’t to say it won’t be used again, but it’s not entirely new.

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Oath of the Gatewatch: Desperate Stand Review (Part 2 of 2)

It’s game time! I’ve been keen to put Desperate Stand through its paces following the disappointment from Battle for Zendikar, and at last I’ve got my chance. Standing between me and glorious White/Black victory is Phil, who’s going for the surge angle with Surge of Resistance. Can cohort carry the day? Read more »


Oath of the Gatewatch: Vicious Cycle Review (Part 1 of 2)

Nearly four years ago, we reviewed a deck called Slaughterhouse from Avacyn Restored. It was a deck that played in a space we’d seen before with preconstructed Magic, although not commonly. Following in the footsteps of Mirrodin’s Sacrificial Bam and Coldsnap’s Beyond the Grave, we summarized this style of deck as follows.

The objective of these decks is simple- take advantage of permanents that don’t mind dying to feed ones that reward you for when they do. Towards that end, many of its cards involve sacrifice and sacrifice outlets, along with the fodder that drives the deck forward.

If we were to summarize the objective of today’s Oath of the Gatewatch deck, Vicious Cycle, we could do no better.

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Oath of the Gatewatch: Desperate Stand Review (Part 1 of 2)

Black/White (“Orzhov”) decks seem to be having something of a renaissance these days. Historically one of the less-common two-color pairings in preconstructed Magic, they’ve been on the rise since Return to Ravnica block. Some of this shouldn’t be surprising- after all, Gatecrash brought back the Guild of Deals with all of its extorting glory, and the Orzhov made the 50/50 cut to have a second deck devoted to it in Dragon’s Maze.

But it didn’t stop there.

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Oath of the Gatewatch: Twisted Reality Review (Part 2 of 2)

It’s our next playtest for Oath of the Gatewatch, and this time I’m taking Twisted Reality for a run. Featuring Wastes and loads of Eldrazi, I’m up against Phil’s Vicious Cycle. Can the Eldrazi finish what they’ve started on the plane of Zendikar, or will they find a final, eternal sleep? Read more »

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