It’s our final look at Portal Second Age, and I’m keen to go out on a high behind the mono-White Martial Law. Sam comes full circle, cracking into the first deck we reviewed, Green’s Nature’s Assault. Can military discipline hold the line, or will nature overrun the best-laid plans of men?
When it comes to storytelling, pacing is often as important as having sympathetic characters and a compelling plot. Sometimes it’s better to jump right into the tale; other times, you want to set the table before introducing the hero. Consider Star Wars- the classic first film. The movie opens with a thrilling pursuit as a Corellian corvette (the Tantive IV) is being chased by the Star Destroyer Devastator. In the first scenes of the film, we’re already introduced to the major villain (Darth Vader), as well as some of the more important secondary characters (Princess Leia, C-3PO, and R2D2). It actually isn’t until later in the film that we are introduced to Luke Skywalker, whose transformation from a simple moisture farmer to saviour of the galaxy forms the crux of the original classic trilogy.
The Goblins of Caliman were the subject of the opening deck in our review of Portal Second Age, and they’re back now to serve as foil to the mono-Blue Spellweaver. Will they overrun the nation of the coast, or will Spellweaver sail to victory on the currents of the air?
In our previous looks at the dredge mechanic, first introduced for the Golgari guild in Ravnica: City of Guilds, we noted that of the many strengths of the mechanic, one of its weaknesses was that a pilot had to balance the need to kick off the dredge engine with the need to develop their manabase, leading to a particular tension between the two critical objectives. This was more of a pervasive weakness in the preconstructed versions of the Golgari decks, since anyone running it in constructed had access to Life from the Loam, a card created specifically to bridge the gap between these two divergent necessities.
With the Mountains and Forests now having been explored, it’s time for us to descend into the Swamps… to Dakmor! For therein lurks Tojira, the Swamp Queen, and her wicked minions, the Nightstalkers. Looking to defeat them is Sam, who’s wielding the mono-Blue Spellweaver. Can she survive the perils of the marsh?
There isn’t a great deal to get folks riled up in Magic’s introductory releases. The cards tend to be fairly low-key and introductory-level, though here and there you find a few that have broken out into general competitive play and command a pricetag to match (see: Grim Tutor). Indeed, you might almost say the most notable thing about Magic’s attempts at beginner-level versions of the game is that they aren’t all that notable. This isn’t meant to be unkind, but they are competing for attention in a richer, more dynamic environment and outside the circle of Magic’s Armchair Historian Society (of which we’re a proud, card-carrying member), there’s just little to keep them in the public eye.
We’re back with another round of Portal Second Age action, and this time I’m piloting the mono-Green Nature’s Assault. Sam’s selected The Nightstalkers, based around the cruel and wicked denizens of Dakmor Swamp. Can the forces of nature see it through?
As mentioned in our previous review, Portal Second Age followed a year later in the footsteps of Portal, which was designed as an introductory-level product for entry to the game. In an effort to bridge the gap between “Magic: the Gathering” and all other games, Portal’s designers stripped away much of the creative trappings that gave the game much of its flavour.
It’s our opening clash with the Portal Second Age decks, and while we’ve had a good look through we’re not quite sure what to exepct. How much fun can 40-card constructions filled with sorceries and a high proportion of plain, vanilla creatures be? As it turns out… plenty.
It is often true that the harder a thing is to accomplish in life, the more indelibly etched into your memory that endeavour will be. Approaching my fourth decade of life on this earth, my ‘memory filing cabinet’ is too stuffed full to make a full accounting of the smaller things, but certainly some of life’s greater challenges stand out. Having two hours to clean and sanitise the house after an all-night illicit party before Mom gets home, for instance.