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Adventures In Magic the Gathering: Aether Revolt Banned & Restricted Update

For every major booster set release for Magic the Gathering, Wizards of the Coast releases a special news update called the Banned & Restricted Announcement that seeks to inform the larger playerbase community on whether or not the powers that be have decided to ban, unban or restrict certain cards for the major sanctionable formats. Usually these announcements come just a week before the official paper release of the respective sets and outline how these formats might change. However, this past Monday some of this got thrown out the window for something that’s a real shake-up.

Coming in a full week early, the Aether Revolt edition yesterday of the B&R announcement has seen three premier cards banned from the Standard format, and two cards banned from the Modern format, with the other formats receiving no changes. The Standard bannings have shaken up the community in significant ways, and that is mostly what I will be talking about here, and touching on the Modern bannings as well. Overall, while I feel that all the bannings are deserved, there’s much to unpack here and it is not a clear-cut scenario at all.

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Ravnica: City of Guilds by Cory J. Herndon (Book Review)

My first substantial introduction to the world of Magic the Gathering was through the comics written by Matt Forbeck for IDW Publishing. They introduced me to the planeswalker thief Dack Fayden through some really fun adventures across the Multiverse. Since then, I’ve taken up the game itself, and now I play fairly regularly and follow tournament coverage as well. Naturally, my interests would also lead me to other Magic fiction, specifically the novels, and I’ve read a few of them in the last couple of years, the most recent being Cory J. Herndon’s Ravnica: City of Guilds.

The first of the Ravnica Cycle trilogy, this novel follows a lieutenant of the League of Wojek, Agrus Kos, as he undertakes a murder investigation that draws him into a conspiracy that will shake up the entire world of Ravnica. As a fan of the setting, I really appreciated Herndon’s detailed descriptions of Ravnica and its many citizens, which really helped to bring the world alive in my mind. I’m not familiar with any of the characters here, but that’s the thing about Ravnica: City of Guilds, you don’t have to know anything about Magic the Gathering to enjoy it, though that does help.

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Adventures In Magic the Gathering: Eldritch Moon Spoilers Week 2

The first week of spoilers from Eldritch Moon proved to be fairly good. Lots of interesting, flavourful cards were revealed and while there were a good number of misses, there were plenty of hits as well, particularly Thalia, Heretic Cathar and Tamiyo, Field Researcher among others. The whole cosmic horror feel of the set is coming across well in all the cards, and that’s definitely a plus, since Shadows Over Innistrad dealt with it a bit tangentially whereas Eldritch Moon is the full and final realization for it. The plane of Innistrad is definitely doomed…

…unless Liliana, the Last Hope can save the day as she believes she can. We finally have the new card for Liliana, and it is definitely something that you have to see to believe (more on that below). We also got to see some more cool cards this past week, which help fill out the slots in various decks that needed them, such as spirits, which have gotten a big boost, and even zombies, to a degree. Werewolves still look to be a below average tribe though, and that’s mighty disappointing, given how much a signature element they are of the overall feel of the plane, and that last time they were much more competitive. Here goes…

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Adventures In Magic the Gathering: Eldritch Moon Spoilers Week 1

Time flies in the world of Magic the Gathering it seems. It feels as if it was just yesterday that I was doing the spoilers for Shadows Over Innistrad, and now here we are, the first of official spoilers for the sequel Eldritch Moon already over. Spoiler season is one of the most anticipated aspects of a new set release for the game, and as many a time before, this past week hasn’t been all that disappointing. Before we get into the nitty gritty of the spoilers however, here’s the trailer for the set.

Since the reveal about the big bad of the set, and indeed the entire block, being the Eldrazi Titan Emrakul, it has certainly been an interesting ride. The reveal isn’t particularly that big since the powers-that-be were pretty hamfisted with the signals and following on from the Battle For Zendikar block, it isn’t that exciting a reveal either. However, putting that aside, some of the flavour of the set that has come out has been incredible, with some cool new mechanics, and a lot of the rares and uncommons look like they have serious potential. Not to mention the mythics, so let’s dive straight into the meat of the spoilers!

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Adventures In Magic the Gathering: Women of Shadows Over Innistrad Part 1

Over the last few years, there has been a growing concern about where Magic the Gathering is headed in terms of its representation of women and also how the game is becoming more inclusive for women. The conversation isn’t just limited to the two two genders that we are familiar with, but it goes beyond that into the nuances of non-binary genders and sexual identity and so forth. And all of that is just scratching the surface. In recent months, we’ve seen the game take some big steps forward, whether that be in the story, on the cards, or even as part of the community, which has been rather fantastic to see as a new player. Not to say that there haven’t been any missteps, but on the whole, there is ample positive development.

This column today is all about the women of the upcoming set Shadows Over Innistrad, which little over a week ago and which features two of the game’s most iconic characters, the Archangel Avacyn of Innistrad, and Nahiri the Lithomancer of Zendikar. Unfortunately, they are both also the villains of the story for this block, but if we dig deeper, we find a lot of nuance and subtlety that isn’t on the surface. And these ladies aren’t alone in leading the charge either, because there are mortals and immortals alike who are prominent in the new set. This column will be part lore, part commentary, and I hope you enjoy it.

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Adventures In Magic the Gathering: Rares of Shadows Over Innistrad

In my last Adventures In Magic the Gathering column, I went over all the mythics for the upcoming Shadows Over Innistrad set, which is due for release tomorrow, the 8th of April. The new expansion has a ton of great cards in it, and a lot of that awesomeness is concentrated in the mythics for the set, though there are ofcourse some duds there too. The same goes for the rest of the rarities in the set, which is par on course for every single set. The rares and mythics are usually the workhorses of the Standard environments for a particular set, while the commons and uncommons shape up the Limited scene for the same, though there is some cross-over definitely and it creates an interesting challenge for deck construction.

For today’s column, I’ll be going over some of the more exciting rares from Shadows Over Innistrad, cards that I’m personally intrigued about and want to play with in a Standard deck, and also a few that I think have been complete misses. This is not an exhaustive list, so please keep that in mind. With the return to Innistrad, we are seeing a return of tribal archetypes in the form of werewolves, vampires and humans, and all these deck ideas have given me a lot of thought on where to go for my next Standard deck. I’ve been playing Abzan Aggro for well over a year now, and with the rotation in two days, my deck is no longer going to be viable. I haven’t settled in on a particular deck as yet, though I’m leaning towards a vampires deck most of all, and a lot of the cards I’ll be discussing in the column are just right for that deck.

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Adventures In Magic the Gathering: Mythics of Shadows Over Innistrad

There’s been a lot of buzz in the Magic the Gathering community-at-large this month. About three weeks ago, we started to get the first wave of spoilers for the upcoming set, Shadows Over Innistrad, which will see players return to the world of Innistrad, where some sort of eldritch madness has gripped the angelic defenders of the plane and turned them against the mortals. Even the great Avacyn, the so-called Angel of Hope of Innistrad, has been affected, and she leads her sisters against any and everyone. Wizards of the Coast has done a damn fine job of marketing the new set, and as part of that, they have also released some great mythics which well and truly fit the flavour of the plane, and more besides.

Shadows Over Innistrad is a pretty interesting set because of two things: first, it has higher than the average number of mythics for a large set, and second, it has higher than the usual number of planeswalkers for a large set. With the reintroduction of the double-faced cards in the set, we are getting more mythics than we did in the last few large sets, eighteen in all, and at the same time we are also getting a whopping FOUR planeswalkers. Just absolutely crazy. Read on after the break to see what cool toys we are getting in two weeks’ time.

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Adventures in Magic the Gathering: Oath of the Gatewatch Spoilers Week 2

Last week I talked about a whole bunch of spoilers from the first week of the official spoiler season. There were lots of cards that were spoiled during that time, and they definitely set off a frenzy among the playerbase, since a lot of the rares seem to be really powerful, especially the Eldrazi cards. Ulamog’s brood is rather absent this time around while Kozilek’s brood is taking center-stage, but the Zendikari are also getting stuck right in, and it is definitely a great time to be playing with these sets.

Moving on from cards such as Linvala, the Preserver or the Oath cycle of legendary enchantments or the new manlands or goblins and what not, we have some more really exciting cards in the week 2 roundup. A lot of the best seemed to have been saved for the last, and I certainly don’t mind that. And now that we have the full round of spoilers from Oath of the Gatewatch out, it is also looking like the rares from this set are much more powerful than the rares from Battle For Zendikar, which is quite an interesting difference. So let’s get on with them!

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Adventures in Magic the Gathering: Oath of the Gatewatch Spoilers Week 1

It is finally that time of the year now. Despite all the controversy surrounding the massive amount of leaks for the upcoming set, Oath of the Gatewatch, in November and December of last year, we are finally in the official spoiler season mode, and things are looking pretty damn great. Sure, it is hard to match up to the mythics and the Expeditions that were leaked already, but there is still something about getting to see all the new rares and the mechanics and the commons and uncommons that will all go on to define both Constructed and Limited formats. And that’s where a lot of these cards really shine.

These spoilers are all from the first week of official spoilers, which was from 28th December to 1st January. In this period, we also got some confirmations of previous spoilers, many of which I talked about a while back, such as Sphinx of the Final Word, Sea Gate Wreckage, the new uncommon cycle of dual lands, and a small handful of others. However, there were also a ton of new cards, and many of them are really spicy, such as Jori En, Ruin Diver and Stoneforge Masterwork, Immolating Glare, Linvala the Preserver among others. Let’s get on to them!

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Adventures In Magic the Gathering: Oath of the Gatewatch Spoilers & Leaks Part 1

Spoiler season is on us again, and that means that we are going to have a hell of a time. Of course, you might be wondering why I would mention spoiler season since the new set, Oath of the Gatewatch isn’t being released for about a little more a month still, and the official spoilers haven’t even started as yet. The reason for that is the huge amount of leaks that have happened in the last couple weeks or so. It is an unprecedented level of information coming out unofficially from Wizards of the Coast, and that is indeed most surprising.

For the winter sets, the spoilers usually start just around the new year, culminating in the prereleases in the middle of January, and then the official release a week later. And usually, we rarely get any leaked spoilers until the official spoilers start. This time though things are very different. The powers-that-be were waiting until the World Magic Cup to start handing out tidbits it seems, but some unscrupulous persons have already seen fit to, well, spoil that. We got several big set mechanics leaks in November, followed by a bunch of legendary creatures last week, and just last night, we had pretty much the entire run down of the Zendikar Expeditions and the new mythics from the set. Mind-boggling all of it. So let’s get down with them.

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Lore of Tarkir: Spirit’s Return Part 1

The lore of Magic the Gathering is one that I find to be extremely intriguing. I’ve only sampled bits and pieces of the game’s lore over the last few years, and I’ve always been impressed with the inherent challenges that the writers often overcome to tell stories that engage your mind and hold your interest. For the last several months, I’ve been catching up on the lore for the current block, Khans of Tarkir, which deals with time-travel and mad heroes and epic, godly battles and, of course, dragons. Lots of dragons.

So, here’s kind of my first attempt at telling a story of Tarkir where I draw on all of the stuff that has come out from Wizards of the Coast on an official level and combine it with some of my own theories and things I’d like to see. To be specific, this story is set somewhat concurrent, but is also successive, to the latest release from Wizards, Uncharted Realms: Unbroken and Unbowed, which has Sarkhan Vol reuniting with both Ugin and Narset and the conversations that follow as they all try to understand what has happened to the world that they all love and cherish.

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Adventures in Magic the Gathering: GPT Nagoya (Modern)

Grand Prix Trials (GPTs) and Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifers (PPTQs) are events that I generally don’t attend, for the simple reason that when I can only get one day a month to play for any extended length of time and when these are usually on Saturdays, work day for me, then it is not possible for me to go for these. Or sometimes it will be that I am otherwise tied up when they are on Fridays or am just not in the country. I love going to these though, because there’s usually such a huge number of players at these events, possible the largest attendance I see outside of a Prerelease event, and that entire atmosphere is just too good to pass up.

This past Friday at Battlezone was the GPT for the upcoming Grand Prix Nagoya for next month, and the format was Modern, a format that I am still a complete novice in, despite having been invested in it for close to six months now. Modern is a very different beast than Standard, however, and I love playing the former as much as I do the latter. Especially when there are few Modern events in the region to begin with. I tweaked up my GW Hatebears deck for the event, borrowed the few cards that I could, and then had an awesome time at the event, even though I had a pretty mediocre finish.

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