More DC!

Following on from the Rivals blog I posted earlier, I just wanted to mention some of the other stuff we’ve slowly been seeing that will be coming out for the game in the next few months. It was the New York Toy Fair last week, which is usually the first event of the year to start showcasing new games, and always worth checking out Twitter to see what’s on the horizon from your favourite publishers!

So let’s start with this bad boy! Looks like a big box version of the Rivals game, with four iconic pairings of heroes and villains! We’ve got Superman vs Lex Luthor, Wonder Woman vs Circe, Aquaman vs Orm, and Zatanna vs Felix Faust, it seems! Bit sad that there’s no Flash in here, vs either Zoom or Captain Cold, but this box looks like it releases in Q4, so maybe there’s still time for a standalone box? I’m kidding myself, I know…

Long before that, however, we’re getting a massive storage box for all of the current content, as well as room for future expansions. It’s not just a big box, though, as there’s a Crossover Pack inside that utilises cards from across the entire range of the deck-building game, which sounds like it should be pretty great! At a really good price, it’s going to be a must-buy for anyone who enjoys the game!

We’ve also got two more Crossover Packs due out imminently – Birds of Prey (which you can see at the bottom here) and The Rogues, which allows you to play as some of the iconic Flash villains!

I had been hoping that we’d be seeing another big box expansion for the game by now, but it looks like the above Confrontations could well be it. I’m not exactly disappointed, but I had been hoping for something… else. At any rate, I think it’s just great to be getting new stuff for the game, in general. It’s been quiet for a long time on the DC DBG front now, probably not helped by the Rebirth stuff going on within the comic book world itself – have you noticed all of these preview images have the new DC logo on them? New 52 is now old news, it seems! Perfect timing for that new big box, then!

Rivals!

Hey everybody!
It’s time for another game day blog here at spalanz.com, and what else could I possibly feature during DC week than the DC Comics Deck-Building Game from Cryptozoic?!

DC Rivals Batman vs The Joker

Today, I thought I’d take a look at the standalone expansion released back in 2014, the first in the Rivals subseries, showcasing Batman vs The Joker. It’s a rivalry that’s almost as old as comic book superherodom itself, after all, so probably the best way to kick off what seems to be a new set of small scale expansions to the DC line.

The game plays almost exactly like the main game and its tie-ins, with a new set of starter cards and main deck cards all centred around Batman and his arch-nemesis. These cards can be used within any of the main games, so you can either view this expansion as a nice source for new cards to shake up your games, or keep it separate as a stand-alone experience. What’s more, the main deck also comes with a number of super powers and equipment that are specific to the Joker, meaning you could slip these into Forever Evil and keep the theme alive there!

Where this game is really different is the Confrontation step. Rather than starting the game with your oversized Super Hero card, which grants a static ability each round, each player has three oversized cards, for Batman and The Joker, respectively. If you have amassed enough power to do so, at the very start of your turn, you can announce a Confrontation against your opponent. This is basically you attacking your opponent as if they were the Super Villain, as each oversized card has a health value in the lower-right corner – 9, 12 or 15. Once you defeat your opponent, the topmost card is discarded, granting a different ability thereafter, until the third card is defeated, whereupon that player loses the game.

DC Rivals Batman vs The Joker

It’s a really fun variant to the DC deck-building formula, and I love the fact that Cryptozoic are supporting the game like this rather than trying to somehow put together the pieces out of existing cards. That we also get new cards for the main deck is also very cool. While there were initial plans for a Rivals 2 box to coincide with Batman vs Superman, that seems to have gone by the wayside, and we’re left without much news (as of the time of writing) about the future of Rivals. Will we ever get Superman vs Lex Luthor? Or Flash vs Zoom? Who knows. 2016 seemed a bit sparse for the deck-building game, considering there were two huge movies for the DC extended universe, with more announced for the future. Maybe 2017 will see some more exciting developments to come!

Power Couple

Today, I read a #Superman comic for the first time. #DCComics #New52

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Superman and Wonder Woman make a really cute couple, I just want to put this out there now.

A couple of days ago, I read my first Superman comic, having had the above pair waiting on my shelf for about a year now. What Price Tomorrow? is the first volume in the New 52 series for the Man of Steel, and I have to say, I felt a bit bored by it overall. We see Superman take on three separate threats to Metropolis, which coalesce into a Superman clone or something, and it takes this clone beating up Supergirl to bring him back to himself and defeat this evil alien clone. Something like that, anyway… However, that was probably the more interesting part of the story. A lot of this book is taken up with the inner workings at the Daily Planet, which has now been bought out by a bigger news corporation, and there is a bit of a tug of war over printed news versus the more visual media of television and the internet. It all seemed highly strange to see in a superhero comic book and, while I suppose it’s pretty on-point for the world at large, I’ve kinda been put off investigating any further Superman comics because of it.

It was with some trepidation, then, that I picked up Power Couple the same day. Superman and Wonder Woman have something of a budding romance in the Justice League books that I so enjoyed last year, so it was interesting to see these two characters come together. We start off with the power couple facing off against Doomsday off the Norwegian coast, before the big brute just weirdly disappears. Superman believes that this indicates the barriers around the Krytonian Phantom Zone are devolving, and when another Kryptonian, General Zod, shows up in the Sahara desert, this seems like proof. The Justice League of America (Martian Manhunter, et al) attempt to contain him, but Wonder Woman lassos the general and she and Superman manage to haul him off to the Fortress of Solitude. Zod flatters Superman into revealing he has a Phantom Zone lens, which Zod uses to bring his lover Faora into the world. Wonder Woman has commissioned Hephaestus to make some armour for her and Superman in order that they might fight Doomsday, and during their time in Mt Etna, Apollo shows up and insults Wonder Woman, causing Superman to launch him into orbit. In revenge, Apollo assists the Kryptonians in gaining the strength they need to fight Superman and Wonder Woman, before Zod puts his plan to open the world to the Phantom Zone, and usher in the armies of Warworld. In desperation, Superman and Wonder Woman manage to set of a nuclear explosion that destroys the portal before anything can come through, nearly killing themselves in the process. Of course, two such powerful beings won’t go down easy and, after some rest and recuperation, they’re back together and enjoying each others’ company while Doomsday awakens in the Mariana Trench…

I really liked this story. Maybe it was because it had a lot more of a superhero vibe to it than merely reporters chasing ratings, I don’t know. Wonder Woman is such a refreshingly direct character, though, I really like seeing her in these comics. The storyline was also pretty epic, though there were a couple of parts that I thought could have benefited from a little more explanation, as we seem to jump a little too much. But it’s not entirely detrimental to the storyline, and I’m willing to overlook them. The only serious bug for me was that Wonder Woman used her lasso to bind the gates of Tartaros in one issue, and then the writers made a point of saying she didn’t have it during the showdown with Zod and Faora, then the next issue it’s there, dangling from her hip again. But if that’s my one serious bug, then you can hopefully see that overall I really enjoyed this book! Even if it was designed to fit in with the Twilight audience, or somesuch!

The book is also pretty important as it sets up the Superman: Doomed crossover event, which will be featured in another blog soon…

DC week!

Hey everybody!
It’s been a while since I did a theme week here on my blog, so thought I’d launch the next five days celebrating my re-discovery of DC comics earlier this month! 2016 was a great year for me getting back to my love of super hero comics in general, and over the course of a few months there, I built up quite a collection as I read my way through a lot of the New 52 books, as well as getting round to watching both the Arrow and Flash TV shows. Excellent times were had, let me tell you! But not a lot of it really made it into my blog, I feel.

Well, let’s change this!

Last summer, the New 52 continuity was re-booted back to the Flashpoint stuff, with the new Rebirth stuff coming out and taking up where the old books left off. It felt like a wonderful time to be a comic book fan, though there was also the vague smell of something a little less positive there, like DC was in some kind of crisis (no jokes, please).

At any rate, I’ve been reading more comics, and I’ve finally started to watch the movies of the DC extended universe, so that’s all been incredibly exciting, let me tell you! There will be blogs every day this week where I ramble on about these things, and for this week’s game day blog, we’ll be taking a look at another box in the DC Deck Building Game line!

Hopefully you’ll enjoy this theme week as much as I’ve enjoyed writing up all this stuff!

Sunday catch-up!

Hey everybody!
It’s been a busy few days for me, as I’ve been sucked into a lot of stuff with work and whatnot, and I haven’t had a lot of time to check out what’s going on in the world. Well, I thought I’d spend some time today taking a look at all the stuff that I’ve been missing of late!

Let’s start with Warhammer, because why not!

The Age of Sigmar releases continue with more Stormcast stuff, which I’m really no longer convinced by all that much. While at first I liked the idea of having new additions to the line, there is a vaguely unnecessary feel to them to my mind, coupled with the fact that they look almost exactly the same as the original Stormcast dudes. A lot of this Stormcast line has actually felt like GW didn’t really know where they wanted to take things – we started out with expensive five-man squads, now sold in tens, and they’re cheaper than they used to be! Which begs the question, why were they so bloody expensive in the first place, then?! Maybe I’m quite bitter because I spent £60 getting two more boxes, when I could have saved £22.50 if I’d have waited just over a year. Hm. It’s a similar story with the Retributors and the Prosecutors. They were either stupidly over-priced to begin with, or GW was intentionally gouging customers for the first 18 months of the new system to create an artificially good sales record.

Usually, I try to be really positive about GW stuff, and I did like the whole Age of Sigmar thing at first, but this has just left a bad taste for me.

Returning to these new releases, the new scout-type Stormcast don’t really look all that different – am I the only one who thinks the armour is actually the same as the regular guys? It’s not slimmed-down or whatever it’s supposed to be, it’s just the same, but with some wolf-pelts or whatever thrown over the top. Also, some of those bare heads make me think of Space Wolves. Hm. The bare heads are another aspect that I find quite interesting, as if GW is responding to the desire of folks to have Stormcast without the helmets, particularly after the amount of people who have been converting them up. Might be a bit far-fetched, as they do tend to work quite far in advance, but who knows. They look interesting, though I remain unsold on the idea of getting any to add to my force. If I ever see some with a discount, I may pick a box up, of course, but for now, I’ll pass.

The bird-riding guys look silly – more because of the fact that they’re riding lizard-birds or whatever they are. It’s almost like GW are intentionally pushing how far they can take things… At any rate, I’m not convinced, and have only considered getting the crossbow-wielding Raptors because I thought those birds might make useful Razorwing flocks for my Dark Eldar! But again, for now I’m resisting.

That said, the Vanguard-Palladors do have a wonderful sense of dynamism to them that was missing from the Dracothian Guard. At £35 for three models, I can’t honestly justify that expense, but again, if I found some for a significant discount, I might get some.

The one concession I’ve made to all of this right now is getting the new Battletome. Yes, it’s the third book for these guys in less than two years, but I thought it might be useful to take a look at the new units and see the developing lore etc, as well as the new rules for relics and whatnot. I forgot to pick it up when I was in my local store the other day, so will have to try and get back there soon for that, but anyway…

Has anyone been remotely tempted by the new Warhammer Quest game, Shadows over Hammerhal? I enjoyed the first one, but this one is less than interesting to me. I think part of it might be due to the lack of any new models, whereas Silver Tower felt more like an event, or something. I feel like this is a bit of an attempt to emulate the success of the first, and would have preferred to see something more original than using the pre-existing minis. It even seems like it doesn’t know what it wants to be, having minis from all four Chaos gods involved in some weird mash-up.

Again, a bit of a disappointing release, for me…

I suppose all of this isn’t helped by the fact that I’m just far more interested in what’s going on with 40k right now. While we’re still on the cusp of the third and final installment of the Gathering Storm series, which many folks think will be leading directly into 8th Edition, a lot of this AoS stuff feels a little too much like a distraction! I’m looking forward to seeing if there are plans for more accompanying models for the Gathering Storm than just the triumvirates, and I’m eagerly awaiting what else 2017 has in store for the grim dark of the far future…


I’m a little disappointed in the news from Fantasy Flight Games lately, I have to say. While the Arkham Horror card game seems to have taken over the world, I’ve not really seen anything more exciting to come from them for a while now. I find this curious, because I used to be such a huge fanboy for their games, and would incessantly check in with them to see what new amazing thing was coming out. Lately, though, it seems like they’re slowing down on what they’re doing – to me, at least.

The Runewars miniatures game appears to be the next big thing, and maybe they’re just like a wave pulling back before this thing launches – I believe it’s due in April. We’ve had a new expansion each for Eldritch Horror and, just this week, Elder Sign, so I suppose it’s not all exactly quiet. There certainly doesn’t feel like a lot of the excitement that I used to feel for the company, however. I can’t even say that the loss of the Warhammer licence for them will affect me that much as, aside from Conquest, I wasn’t really buying into any of the other things.

I suppose part of the problem for me is that they’re doing a lot of Star Wars games, though I don’t know anybody else who’s interested in these things. The LCG has died a death for me, and Imperial Assault has never even gotten off the ground. X-Wing had a brief surge, though I’ve since lost a lot of interest and am considering selling off at least a portion of that. And Destiny… Destiny still seems interesting to me, and I would like to try it out, but the fact that it’s been out three months or so and I’ve not been in any great hurry to do so does say quite a lot to me.

I do really like the look of their RPG, however, and have been thinking about diving back into that of late. Stay tuned!

I just find this quite curious, so thought I’d offer it up here and see whether 2017 will cause me to change my mind there.


The end has come… #StarWars #newcanon #Aftermath

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Speaking of Star Wars, though, I’ve been up to the elbows in the third Aftermath novel, Empire’s End, since I picked it up on Tuesday. What with work, I’ve not been able to read as much as I’d’ve liked up to this point, but I’m over halfway now, anyway. Expect a blog to come on that one once I’m done! I may even get back to that whole youtube thing…


On Tuesday last week, I posted about my triumphant return to playing Magic. Well, maybe not triumphant, but it was a return, nevertheless. I’ve been watching a lot of videos on youtube since, trying to catch up with what I’ve missed since before Kaladesh happened, and was struck by the little nugget that happened in December, where what is possibly the autumn set for this year was leaked:

It’s an exciting prospect for another plane, what looks to be a cross between Atlantis and Mesoamerican culture. I’m a big fan of such things, anyway, so could see myself getting into that quite extensively. Of course, we don’t really know if it’s going to be a thing – it certainly looks like it will be – even if this was for an internal survey that was more concerned with packaging than anything else, that’s original (as far as anyone can tell) artwork they’ve used, so it would be expensive just for a test. But who knows. Steampunk India followed by ancient Egypt followed by sub-aqueous Maya sounds like the dream, right there! Not forgetting, of course, we’re due for Archenemy in the middle of it all!

Based on all of this, I think WotC might be beating GW for the flavourful new releases right now…

The Magic Update!

So it looks like there’s a whole host of news coming out about Magic the Gathering right now – just as I’m getting back into playing the game after my winter hiatus! To start with, let’s talk the next set, Amonkhet!

This looks far too awesome for words! Liliana on Amonkhet, the home plane of Nicol Bolas? Well, I’m sold!

I’m very excited about this stuff, even though the idea of more gods feels like it might be a re-run of Theros. But I wasn’t really around for Theros, it rotated not long after I threw myself under the Magic bus back in 2015. So it could be really cool to get in on this stuff from the off…

The Planeswalker decks for this expansion feature both Gideon and Liliana, which I’m surprised by, as both have had very recent Planeswalker cards in Oath of the Gatewatch and Eldritch Moon, respectively. What’s more, the artwork in the article also shows Nissa, who also had a new card in both of the previous blocks. I was expecting for sure we’d be getting the evil dragon guy in this one, but maybe he’s coming out in the second set, Hour of Devastation. It seems like an interesting time, at any rate!

Am I the only player who dislikes full-art lands? Well, possibly. They do look nice, don’t get me wrong, and I love the fact that each one has the looming horns of Nicol Bolas in the distance – that, and the fact he isn’t one of the Planeswalker decks, make me wonder if this set is going to be more about anticipating his arrival rather than anything more. As beautiful as the art is, I’m relieved that it will only be one in every four packs that has full-art lands – I’d like one of each, but I don’t want to be playing with these cards, as I much prefer the regular lands. I bought all the Battle for Zendikar intro packs in order to get a good stock of the regular art lands, after all!

I’ve never played Archenemy,  but the Professor at Tolarian Community College made a video about it back in the day, and it sounds like a lot of fun, so I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of this! With all of this Nicol Bolas stuff going on right now, it looks like M13 all over again!

Archenemy comes with four 60-card decks that don’t feature any new cards, so it’s going to be interesting to see just what’s coming out here.

We’ve still not got anything for next month’s Duel Deck, Mind vs Might, and while I think it’s probably likely one half is going to involve Jace, I did have the thought recently that we might be surprised and get something completely unexpected, such as Sen Triplets, so I’m cautiously looking forward to this one. I do enjoy Duel Decks, at any rate!

Definitely feels like an exciting time to have gotten back into the game!

Aether Revolt

Hey everybody,
It’s game day here at spalanz.com, and today marks something of a triumphant return for me to Magic the Gathering, having taken almost the whole winter off from the game. I’m always quite conscious of the fact that I seem to have some extremely expensive hobbies within the niche of hobby games, but I still enjoy the fact that they’re by far some of the most immersive. With all that said, let’s get started!

Aether Revolt

Aether Revolt is the second set in the Kaladesh block, and the 73rd expansion for the game in total. It came out in January but, unfortunately, I wasn’t paying attention until last week, when I thought I’d take a look and buy a couple of packs to see what I’ve missed.

Kaladesh has seen the Gatewatch confront Tezzeret for his corrupt dealings as head of the Consulate on that plane, as well as delving into the backstory of Chandra (being, as it is, her home plane and all). Whereas magic is fairly prevalent on other planes, here all of that is kinda replaced by the aether that is used to power all of the automata of Kaladesh. There are some corrupt goings-on between Tezzeret and the Gatewatch, and Ajani shows up to lend his aid, becoming yet another member of the team.

This whole Gatewatch thing is a bit… gimmicky, I feel. I want to like it, but it just feels like they’re trying to formalise things between the Planeswalkers in a not too subtle copy of something like the Avengers or Justice League. I get that, but I just think it could have been done better, if it had to be done at all. I mean, Planeswalkers have worked together before without needing to create some kind of grand alliance. But it does mean that we get new Oath cards for each Planeswalker that joins… Hm!

In terms of new rules, I’ve already discussed the Kaladesh stuff back in the day; Aether Revolt adds a couple of new mechanics, Improvise and Revolt. Improvise is basically the same as Convoke from back in the day, using Artifacts to tap for generic mana rather than Creatures. Revolt is an ability word that will have a specific effect if a permanent you control leaves the battlefield that turn. They’re interesting enough, without shaking things up too much – precisely the sort of mechanics we’re now used to seeing from smaller sets in a block.

Anyhow. Kaladesh looks like a very pretty plane, with a lot of filigree on the automata that grace the plane, and I remember seeing some of the promotional stuff going on back in September that really went to town with this, and it looked awesome. However, it does all feel a bit overwhelming, and I’ve not really delved too far into any of that stuff. What has been interesting to me, however, is the new Aetherborn tribal stuff from the block, and partly why I’ve chosen to write this blog today!

aetherborn

Aetherborn are a by-product of the aether refinement process, apparently, and only have a short lifespan as their bodies dissolve into the aethersphere. However, they can sustain themselves by leeching off of others, and thus naturally fit into Black. Indeed, some of them have the subtype of Vampire, which somehow has become my favourite kind of tribal deck to play in Magic! So I’ve naturally found myself drawn to these guys.

I’ve been half-fiddling around with a black-white Aetherborn deck, though it’s not quite there yet. I’ve since seen The Mana Source’s mono-black Aetherborn deck, which looks like it might be a lot better than mine, and I do have all of the pieces, so I might go down that route before long. There are some other things that I’ve been tinkering with, but I’ve not really looked into anything beyond this with any kind of seriousness right now. Bearing in mind that this is very much a first-attempt and hasn’t been played, this is the deck I’ve come up with for Standard right now:

Creatures
Yahenni, Undying Partisan
Kambal, Consul of Allocation (x2)
Ironclad Revolutionary
Syndicate Trafficker
Aether Poisoner (x2)
Weaponcraft Enthusiast (x2)
Vengeful Rebel
Midnight Entourage (x2)
Aetherborn Marauder
Night Market Aeronaut
Maulfist Squad (x2)
Night Market Lookout (x2)
Gifted Aetherborn
Dhund Operative (x2)
Countless Gears Renegade (x2)
Noxious Gearhulk

Artifacts
Implement of Improvement (x2)
Renegade Map
Servo Schematic
True-Faith Censer
Mobile Garrison
Aethersphere Harvester

Instant 
Tidy Conclusion (x2)
Rush of Vitality (x2)

Enchantment
Hidden Stockpile (x2)
Call for Unity

Land
11 Swamp
5 Plains
Sandstone Bridge
Forsaken Sanctuary
Concealed Courtyard (x2)
Inventors’ Fair
Shambling Vent

It’s more black than black-white, which may make you wonder why I’ve got so many plains and dual-lands in there. Well, insurance. I’ve played far too many games of Magic with two-colour decks, and have been completely screwed on the right colour despite having what the internet has told me is “the right number” of the secondary colour. So I’m going more even than necessary, just to be on the safe side!

There’s a bit of a +1/+1 strategy going on with the Aetherborn here, as well as some classic black-white drain and gain style stuff. Deathtouch is a wonderful mechanic and I like to include it wherever I can, and so many people seem to dislike lifegain that I can’t help but include it whenever possible! This is by no means going to be winning me any notoriety, but I think it’s a decent enough starting point for getting back into the game after a couple of months off!

Speaking about starting points…

Aether Revolt

In addition to getting some packs of Aether Revolt, I’ve also bought one of these Planeswalker Decks, or whatever they’re called – the things that replaced Intro Packs back when Kaladesh launched in September. Back when these things were first announced, I was a bit optimistic, but I’m not so sure these days. Having bought the pack, it’s a nice way to get some interesting new cards, and I think the Tezzeret Planeswalker card in this pack is perhaps a little more useful than the two from Kaladesh, but even so, I don’t think I’m going to rush to try and build a deck around him.

While many people don’t seem to rate the Planeswalker decks, such as The Professor’s pretty damning review here, I liked Intro Decks, and I think I still like Planeswalker Decks, as you can pick up a bunch of cards for fairly cheap. One of my favourite things to do with Magic is build weird decks with lots of commons and uncommons, and I never really go too much for the splashy things that require me to spend a lot of money. Sure, you probably won’t have much fun if you buy these things and attempt to play them against other folks, though I always had a lot of fun playing Intro Decks against each other, and I imagine that these new iterations will have a similar experience. You can then use them as a base to trade up throughout the block, swapping out the “splashy” Planeswalker for the version that is part of the block and still benefiting from the uncommon card in the deck – for example, I can swap out Tezzeret, Master of Metal for Tezzeret the Schemer, and still benefit from the lifedrain of Tezzeret’s Simulacrum. (Tezzeret’s Betrayal would have to go, though). In fact, I think I might try and see how far I could take this Tezzeret deck!