Magic: The Gathering: Avacyn Restored Set Review

Magic: The Gathering: Avacyn Restored Set Review / 2012 Wizards of the Coast / http://www.wizards.com

Avacyn Restored is the final set in the Innistrad block. With this set, the fate of Innistrad is shown. Liliana, on her trip to reclaim the pieces of soul she signed over to Griselbrand, gives Thalia a tough decision – save her minions or the Helvault. The Helvault shatters, releasing Griselbrand and Avacyn. With Avacyn restored, the zombies, werewolves, and spirits that haunted the plane are running scared.

This set brings a number of new mechanics into play. Our favorite has to be the Miracle card. This card has a much cheaper casting cost if one draws the card. Entreat The Angels is a three mana-plus card when cast normally, and is only a one mana-plus card when drawn and cast for the miracle cost. The second new ability in Avacyn Restored is Soulbond. Available only to creatures, Soulbond links two creatures, with the Soulbond-possessing creature granting a special ability to both. Silverblade Paladin is a three-mana 2/2 with Soulbond; after pairing the Paladin and another creature, both have double strike.

Two new planeswalkers are printed for this set – Tamiyo, the Moon Sage and Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded. Tamiyo’s abilities are great for a control or commander deck, while Tibalt is a great burn-deck or G/R aggro addition. Taken all together, Avacyn Restore is quite possibly the best-balanced and fun Magic expansion that we have experienced. Pick up a pack, box, or case at any Target, Wal-mart, or local gaming store. We had particular luck with the Solitary Fiends intro deck – the focus of which has individuals lay waste to their opponents with a small number of creatures that have been buffed considerably.

Rating: 9.7/10

Yu-Gi-Oh! OCG – Galactic Overlord Booster Box + Set Review

 

We have not had the chance to play much of the Yu-Gi-Oh! OCG up to this point. We were lucky enough to receive a booster box of the game’s latest expansion, Galactic Overlord. The expansion invigorates and expands upon the game.

While players had a chance to check out the game at the Sneak Peek Saturday last weekend, I feel that further explanation of the set is necessary. There is a high power level to the cards here, but these are properly moderated through a wide array of different Traps and on-character active abilities. The different levels of foils available really make the pack-opening process impressive. We were able to pull some crazy rares – Number 25: Force Focus and Number 32: Shark Drake, while the other rares coming from the box made the EV per pack perfect.

Where the Yu-Gi-Oh! OCG succeeds over other games on the market is that there are variation among the common cards that one will receive. While we did get a playset of Doom Donuts and a number of the Dragons, these are useful cards. In fact, we were hard pressed to find a card that could not be successfully utilized in a deck. The Yu-Gi-Oh! OCG has been around for a number of years, but I feel that the design team has done a tremendous job in keeping old fans while drawing in new ones through fun abilities, great art, and a large selection of different foil options. The expansion will be available at your local card store in just a few short days, so make sure to save your money and see how one can take up the role of Galactic Overlord. We’re Yu-Gi-Oh! fans for sure after checking out this expansion.

Rating: 9.5/10

 

Lords of Waterdeep Game Review

 

We have not had much chance to review board games at NeuFutur, but received a copy of the newest addition to the Forgotten Realms line. Lords of Waterdeep is a board game, requiring 2 to 5 (ideally requiring the upper bounds of that range) players.

The intricacies of the Lords of Waterdeep title are precisely the reason why this game will get considerably more play than other games in its genre. There are so many boxes, markers, and other trinkets to involve oneself with, while the different array of cards (role, intrigue, and quest) ensures that the game is never the same experience twice. The different classes of players will do much to make each iteration of Lords of Waterdeep memorable. There is no one right way to play this game, and the different interactions that can take place will keep players on their toes. I believe that the game does well in conveying the set of rules to players without assuming too steep of a learning curve. Despite having a physical limitation to the paths that each Lord can take, I feel that the rich storyline and sheer expansive of possible actions breathes considerably more life into this title than others in the same genre.

While the initial first few plays of Lords of Waterdeep will be on the slower side, a group of experienced players will be able to get from beginning to end in about an hour. Make sure to pick up a copy of Lords of Waterdeep at your local hobby store; online retailers’ prices are very competitive and may in some cases actually be cheaper.  Keep an eye out for the latest information and titles from Wizards on the Coast; they’re entering Q2 strong.

Rating: 8.3/10

 

Lords of Waterdeep / Board Game / http://www.wizards.com / http://www.wizards.com/dnd/product.aspx?x=dnd/products/dndacc/388510000

Magic the Gathering: Dark Ascension Reviewed

Dark Ascension is the second set in the Innistrad block, and Wizards of the Coast have added a number of twists and turns in terms of storyline and game play. Where the humans in Innistrad seemed to have some power over the hordes of zombies, spirits, and vampires, Dark Ascension shatters their hopes for a peaceable existence. In terms of gameplay, Flashback (pay a mana cost when the card is in the graveyard to cast the spell a second time), Morbid (stronger effects if creatures have died this turn) and double-faced cards (when a condition is met, the card is flipped to reveal a much stronger creature) make their return.

Check out http://www.Wizards.com/locator for locations to find Dark Ascension in your neck of the woods.

However, the Undying mechanic is something that is new to Dark Ascension. This ability allows a creature, if it has no +1/+1 counters at its time of death, to be returned to the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter. For those players that love their humans, the Fateful Hour mechanic provides stronger effects for spells if the player casting them has less than five life. The different groups of evil-doers are given their standard-bearers, with Diregraf Captain (Zombie), Drogskol Captain (Spirit), and Immerwolf (Werewolf/Wolf). Vampires get their keystone character in the Falkenrath Aristocrat, a 4 CMC creature with haste that has additional abilities to confer invulnerability and +1/+1 counters.

While being a vampire, planeswalker Sorin (of Innistrad) will have a number of uses in a variety of decks. With an ability to create +1/+1 Vampire tokens, +1/0 buffs, and creature/planeswalker stealing as an ultimate ability, Magic the Gathering players will be cracking open a number of packs. Couple that with an artifact (Elbrus, the Binding Blade) that can turn into one of the game’s strongest creatures (Withengar Unbound), and one will have a hard deck to beat. Wizards of the Coast has provided players with a number of counters to these incredible creatures (Tragic Slip, which kills a creature on turns with a creature death by giving them a -13/-13 debuff, and Grafdigger’s Cage, where spells cannot be placed on the battlefield from graveyards or libraries). Keep an eye out for Wizards of the Coast’s 2012 plans, which include finishing up the Innistrad block, a new Planechase set (June), Magic 2013 (July), and the beginning of the new storyline.

Rating: 9.3/10

Magic the Gathering: Dark Ascension Reviewed / http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Summoner/ /

Magic: The Gathering : Graveborn Review

Graveborn is the latest installment in the Premium Deck Series by Wizards of the Coast, after the stellar Slivers and Fire and Lightning sets that were releases the last two years. This set is mono-black (with a few huge creatures breaking that rule). Where most decks look to get the best draws, the Graveborn set is much more concerned with discarding and then resurrecting cards from one’s graveyard. This means that the deck can contain a Verdant Force (7/7, with token generation), Terastodon (9/9, permanent destroyer), and even a Sphinx of the Steel Wind (Flying, first strike, vigilance, lifelink, protection from red and green).

To do so, cards like Entomb, Sickening Dreams, and Buried Alive ensure that one can bolster graveyard numbers immediately. Cards like Dread Return and Diabolic Servitude decrease the mana cost of said creatures, and can ensure a game-ending array of creatures by turn 4 or 5. The all-foil composition of the deck, coupled with new art, makes for a visually stellar deck. The deck holds its own even against control decks; the mechanism by which the creatures make their way back on the battlefield does not trigger a counter summon effect.

The only drawback I would see would be the mana-heavy composition of the deck. I would prefer to see more resurrection cards in place of the land, but the Graveborn deck’s impact cannot be denied. The Graveborn set comes with a twenty-sided dice and a foil box that will ensure that the deck can block any environmental damage. The cards are not standard tournament legal, but I believe that one can make a case for the set in the Legacy tournament format. The Graveborn set would be a perfect gift as a holiday treat or for a M:TG fan’s birthday.

Rating: 8.6/10

Magic: The Gathering : Graveborn / Premium Deck Series / $32.99 MSRP / http://www.wizards.com

Magic the Gathering: Innistrad (Expansion)

Innistrad is the first Magic: The Gathering expansion that I have played since Tempest (1997). The additional features and darker feel to the set are the reason that I have entered back into the fold. For those players that have been away from the game for so long, there is little different from the fundamental game. Sure, there may be terms that I was not immediately familiar with, but the pre-made decks immediately allow players to be competitive against even seasoned veterans. The biggest addition to the Magic: The Gathering game play has to be the double-backed cards, which are all a variety of colors.

After some sort of action (discarding a creature card, having more than 5 Vampires on the board), the character becomes much stronger or provides players with a killer ability. There are a few additional twists and turns to Magic: The Gathering in the Innistrad set as well – Utility lands provide different colors of mana or additional buffs to one’s creatures, while there are quite a few late-game spells (Divine Reckoning, Devil’s Play) that have accessible flashback costs.

I feel that the Vampire side of things makes for a great nucleus to be formed around – the additional +1/+1 buffs granted them when they attack a creature or player makes them a tremendous force after a few turns of being on the board. Coming forth with a whole slew of older cards, I found it challenging to counter the pre-made Vampire deck; I would say to pick up a few booster packs to shore up any defenses you may have open. Keep an eye out in January for the next Magic: The Gathering set; Dark Ascension. It will be in stores at the beginning of February.

Rating: 9.4/10

Innistrad (Expansion) / Magic: The Gathering / http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Summoner/

Kard Combat: How to turn Magic: The Gathering Into Mortal Kombat (iOS)

Taking a cue from Activision’s popular Mortal Kombat series, HotHead Games has released their effort in the virtual CCG arena entitled Kard Combat. At first blush this just sounds like a vain attempt at stealing some thunder from Mortal Kombat, but I assure you it’s slightly more cheesy than that. A “Kard” according to the in game tutorial is something like a Legend or General in the Magic: The Gathering Collectable Card Game, it’s function is to give you a magic type, along with some cards that fit in well with that magic type, and sort of set the pace for your game. If you want to be the priest, the unholy machine mage, or the Dominator mage etc. People can take matters into their own hands by learning the skills to develop the next awesome game.

The similarities between M:TG and MK go on though. As a player you can choose one of three modes of play; a single hand mode, played against the computer, a multiplayer mode, and the very familiar tower mode. In the tower, you line up against other Kards, in a Kard Combat Tournament. Just like Mortal Kombat, the Tower mode does not really reflect the traditional Tournament tree, you just have idiot lined up after idiot for you to kick the crap out of until you are crowned King Kard, or something like that.

While my comments might seem a little bit venomous in regards to Kard Combat’s naming scheme and blatant borrowing from the two games I mentioned, like calling the spell points to cast spells “Mana” (who would notice that?), the truth is though, the game is pretty good. If you follow the eight page tutorial, or play the tower mode for the first time, you can read how the game is played pretty quickly. In short, there are a number of slots on either side of the battle field. You can select a card from one of a predetermined types of Mana types that your Kard Mage can use, and place it into any of the slots above. The way that the battles work is sort of like having a gun battle against an opponent. If nothing is in the way of your gun, Kard, then the damage goes straight to the player, like a bullet. However, should something get in your way, like the opponent’s Kards, then the damage gets soaked up by it instead. The effects of the cards are pretty self explanatory, and spell cards do pretty much what they say without much explanation either. Much like M:TG, Kards have a mana cost to cast, and above each mana stack (and that’s just what I’m calling them for right now, I don’t know if they have an actual title) there is a number of usable Mana. If your Kard costs less than what you have in Mana, you can cast it – it’s that easy. Also, continuing in this borrowing trend, there are cards that fight players and other Kards that have an Attack Power, and Defense Points. I’m sure you can see how that works. There are also Walls that you can deploy to block damage from coming through. Most have certain effects to help you kick some Kard even though they don’t do actual battle damage like most Kards.

With three types of play to choose from, and three different skill levels for battling against the computer, this game turned out to be a pretty decent game in the end. You can pick it up for free, and then buy the full compliment of Kards, or just some “booster packs” basically that has a mage and some extra Kards to go with it. The Booster is $2.99, and the full game is just under ten dollars. For a fledgling CCG, you could do much much worse. And for the price? Again it could be worse. It could be as bad as my debilitating addiction to Magic: The Gathering. I swear, sometimes it’s either pay the electric bill or get more M:TG cards… that reminds me I better wrap this up quick before the power goes ou_

Game Receives an 8 out of 10 possible points