It’s been a long time.
I have been sick off and on for many months (and I blame my one-year old son for that), so it’s been a while since I’ve written anything for this blog. Today, we’ll take a quick look at what I’ve been up to over the summer, and my thoughts on Magic so far since my last post.
I used to think I had a pretty good immune system. Once every year and a half or so, I would catch a cold, but I’d be back up on my feet again within a few days. And I work in a business with lots of people in enclosed spaces, so we constantly breathe each other’s air.
Then I had a son. And he went to daycare.
From the point where he started daycare this year, we’ve all constantly been sick. Roughly once each month, he’d catch something, and my wife and I would of course get it too.
It was humbling to see just how non-bulletproof my immune system actually is. Apparently, I’ve just been lucky and dodged everything all these years.
Luckily, despite all illness, Magic and EDH have been quite good this year.
DOMINARIA AND BATTLEBOND:
With the exception of Rivals of Ixalan and the Masters reprint sets, this year’s Magic sets have been uncommonly good.
I’ve already written about each of these sets, but I wanted to quickly mention them again, since I’ve had all summer to play the cards printed in them and reflect. It’s worth reiterating: Dominaria is possibly the best set that Magic has ever produced, full stop. I loved the various throwbacks and callbacks to older sets, I adored the scads of new legends for EDH, and I enjoyed the draft format. The set was just a joy for me as an entrenched player, and I think we will all look back at it very fondly in years to come.
For me, it gave me Boros general Firesong and Sunspeaker, and a direction for our Boros deck that didn’t just involve the combat step. So that was pretty exciting.
Battlebond was also excellent, but I found that it flew under everyone’s radar. As this year’s ‘draft matters’ set focused on Two-Headed Giant play, it was honestly hard to get drafts going locally for it (and I’d assume the same everywhere, since that’s not really a format that people play). And that’s a shame, since Battlebond has a fantastic set of new cards and great reprints for it, and is possibly one of the best sets ever printed for EDH players.
And when it’s printed in the same year as Dominaria, that’s saying something.
Both of these sets were fantastic, and I’ve really enjoyed playing all the cards from them this summer in my decks. They gave me high hopes for the rest of the sets this year, after the disappointment from Rivals of Ixalan and the Masters sets.
This led to:
CORE SET 2019:
I actually really liked this set, and that’s coming from someone who normally skips whatever the core set is. I enjoyed an alternate look at the Elder Dragons from Legends, and I really like how Arcades, the Strategist will play (our buddy Darby is planning to build that deck, and I’m looking forward to it).
As a big Nicol Bolas fan, it was also quite exciting to see a transform version of him. I love when villains are actually a threat to the heroes, and Nicol Bolas has proven time and again that he’s no joke. I look forward to seeing what he does going forward in RTRTR. (I also look forward to eventually owning a copy, since I can’t open one out of a pack to save my life and no one locally will trade him, heh.)
Having the new Elder Dragons, of course, really pumped up our Dragon tribal EDH deck, The Ur-Dragon. It’s been much stronger since this set.
This was a good core set, and a great way to bring core sets back to Magic. All the reprints were useful at bringing prices down (looking at you, Crucible of Worlds) and I think this set will also be looked at quite fondly going forward.
The Commander 2018 precons will go down in Magic’s history as one of the most polarizing products for EDH players released to date. EDH players, either those just getting into the game or those firmly established, love the yearly precons for their shiny new cards and awesome new generals, and I am no different. The amount of hype these decks generate is unreal, and it’s no surprise that they sell very well for Wizards.
Having said that, this year’s precons were different. Everyone loved the announced themes and the new cards, but Wizards really dropped the ball when it came to reprinting anything useful in the decks themselves. Every reprint was one that’s been reprinted to death in other precons and other sets before (cards like Rampaging Baloths), and all of the reprints that would have actually made the decks useful right out of the box were absent.
There were also some disconnects with the themes in each deck. For the Jund “Lands matter” deck, two of its new generals didn’t even care about lands, which made little to no sense.
To say these irksome things aggravated the MTG player base is an understatement.
There were immediate calls to boycott the precons, and just ‘vote with your wallet’ by witholding money from Wizards. After much deliberation, I ended up buying all four, because I liked the new cards enough to justify the purchase. Like every player who’s been around a while, I have enough copies of each of the reprinted cards to create a small fort from.
The new cards in these precons were amazingly good though, and have proven to be super fun.
Overall, I consider this year’s precons to be a huge failure, and I really hope Wizards steps things up going forward. But since I mentioned the new cards…
THE NEW GENERALS FROM COMMANDER 2018:
For all of its flaws, the Commander 2018 precons got one thing very right: its new generals. Nearly every one addressed something that the EDH community has been asking for in a general, which is unheard of. In this one product, we got these themes on build-around generals:
-Izzet “artifacts matter”
-Izzet “token shenanigans”
-A Dimir Ninja legend for Ninja tribal
-A Jund spider legend for Spider tribal
-Jund “lands matter”
-Esper “top of my deck matters”
-Not one, not two, but THREE(!!) Bant enchantress generals
Those are a lot of very different themes for one group of precon generals to hit, and I thought they were all executed very well. It’s quite impressive just how many boxes Wizards managed to check off with this group of generals. (Now we just need a playable Boros general that doesn’t care about attacking, heh.)
After playing with the precons a few times, there were actually four generals that I ended up wanting to build EDH decks around, which is a pretty good percentage for one year’s precons.
I ended up transforming our Golgari deck The Gitrog Monster “lands matter” deck into Jund, adding red for Lord Windgrace; our Izzet deck became Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer; our Rakdos deck finally got a general I can be proud of in Xantcha, Sleeper Agent; and our Bant deck finally got a general I like in Tuvasa, the Sunlit (lists for these new decks are forthcoming).
All of these generals were super fun to play and great fun to play against, and I look forward to having them in my collection for some time to come.
RETURN TO RETURN TO RAVNICA:
So this Sept we finally return to the greatest setting in Magic, Ravnica. Both original Ravnica block and RTR block ended up giving us some of the best EDH cards ever printed, so I’m really looking forward to Ravnica 3 and what it has in store for us.
From the spoiled Ral planeswalker cards, to the fun new mechanics (though spoiler alert, Boros only cares about attacking!), to the return of shocklands, this set promises to be a good one for us EDH players.
Worth mentioning, with The Gitrog Monster being dissassembled, I need a new Golgari general, so here’s hoping RTRTR delivers!
And amidst all of this, sickness and new MTG sets, I’ve been packing for a move at the end of September! I’ll finally be leaving apartment living, and getting an actual place of my own, which will be nice. My boy is growing rapidly, so we knew that we’d need more space for him asap.
All the packing has definitely reminded me just how much I hate moving though. What a hassle.
I can’t guarantee how much content I’ll be able to produce this month with this move in the wings, but I’ll be working on this site as much as I can.
So there’s a quick look at what I’ve been, looking at for EDH, and where we’re headed going forward. The past year has seen all sorts of ups and downs for EDH as a format, so here’s hoping Wizards can keep things moving in a positive direction going forward.