In January of 2010, Magic players could be forgiven for their looks of puzzlement when cracking open the brand-new packs of Worldwake and finding a mythic rare called Eye of Ugin. It wasn’t entirely useless on its own at that point, but its power level certainly didn’t seem to correspond with either its rarity or its activated ability’s cost (seven mana to tutor up an artifact creature?). More puzzling still was the cryptic reference to “colorless Eldrazi spells.” Obviously all of these factors- combined with the fact that it was legendary- pointed to the card being a strong one, but it was not until the following set, Rise of the Eldrazi, that its full impact would be felt. Although the card was initially something of a curiosity, veteran players knew it for what it was: a plant.
It’s our third tilt with the Intro Packs of Avacyn Restored, and Sam’s been waiting patiently for her chance to pilot one. She gets it today with Bound by Strength, acting in the role of opposition to my Fiery Dawn. For my part, it’s a third stab at the Humans tribal deck for the block- how will it stack up to its predecessors?
Gamers of a certain age might recall with fondness some of the great computer and console games when the RPG genre was in its relative infancy, like Wizardry, Bard’s Tale, and Might & Magic. One element that many of them had in common was a reliance on the old “random monster tables” from the role-playing games they evolved from. Exploring a new room? Need a monster? Roll a die, consult the table, and voila! Instant villain! Of course, the cost of such convenience was the virtual abandonment of any sort of flavourful cohesion, for what possible reason could there be for encountering a band of two faeries, an orc, a stirge, a rust monster, and a brown pudding all in one room, and all united in their singular desire to destroy you? Although such things may keep the flavour-focused Vorthos up at night, for most gamers it was good for a chuckle before you commenced your attack.
To represent the inhabitants of Innistrad inspired by Avacyn’s return and coming together to defeat their monstrous foes, Wizards has given us the soulbond mechanic and a 60 cards to showcase it. A deck comprised almost entirely of creatures and land, can Bound by Strength live up to its name? To find out, Jimi grabbed Solitary Fiends and sat down at the table to do battle.
In 2007, Magic players long accustomed to the now-traditional three-set block were in for a surprise. Indeed, going back to 1996’s Mirage Wizards had settled on a formula of an annual cycle of blocks consisting of a large set in the Autumn followed by two smaller sets, a fashion which endured all of eleven years. By that point, many players had never known a Magic that was any different, a game made up of a string of unconnected, self-contained expansions. And so when Lorwyn arrived, it was something novel and unusual- a block made up of only two halves, itself connected to a subsequent block made up of two halves.
At last, the much-anticipated moment has arrived, and we’re ready to crack into the Avacyn Restored Intro Packs and take them to battle. We’ve given Angelic Might a once-over, and it’s time to see how it holds up in practice. Playing the opposition’s role today is Jimi, who has enthusiastically grabbed for the Boros deck Fiery Dawn.
As we’ve often touted these past four months, 2012 is the “Year of Firsts.” From the first set to release Theme Decks (Tempest) to the first-ever block to see Magic: the Gathering Online-only deck releases (Mirage) and a number in between, we’re kept to that theme even as we’ve made allowances for new releases like Dark Ascension and Duel Decks: Venser vs Koth. Right on schedule, we now move on to the third set in Innistrad block, Avacyn Restored. And unless we really want to warp the spirit of our initiative and claim that Avacyn Restored falls within the Year of Firsts by merit of being the first Magic set with the name “Avacyn” in the title, we’re completely fine with the set being another departure from theme.
But is it?
Fresh from Gleeful Flames’ hiding in our last meetup, I’m back to put Spiraling Doom to the test. Joining me at the table is Jimi, who- given her affinity for mono-Red and Boros decks- is excited to give Flames a try. We sat down for a match of three games to pit the Dark Ascension Event Decks against one another, and here’s what resulted.
We couldn’t return to a plane like Innistrad and not expect to escape at least a little fighting, and with the release of two new Event Decks (numbers nine and ten overall) we’re well equipped for it! Jimi’s piloting Spiraling Doom, looking to push my mono-Red burn deck to its very limits. Will she manage to hold out for victory, or will she go down in a sea of flames, 5 damage at a time…