November Retrospective

Hey everybody,
The end of the year is fast approaching, and it’s been really great to have these monthly retrospective blogs to look back on the progress that I’ve made with all manner of projects – hopefully they’ve been as interesting to read as they have been to write!

For November, the pace seems to have been a bit slow, as we slide towards the festive season. I’ve been reading a lot of weird fiction this month, which has shown itself in two blogs covering a variety of stories from contemporaries and followers of HP Lovecraft, before then the man himself popping up last week with The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. I do love a bit of cosmic horror, and I think it’s been good to read some of the more extended mythos stuff this time around. It’s all very uneven, of course, and a lot of these stories could hardly be called masterpieces, though they are fun, which for me is the main thing. I am planning to read more of Lovecraft’s own horror stories over Christmas, of course, so do stay tuned for the traditional Mythos Delvings blog!

Reading so much weird fiction has, of course, gotten me back into playing the LCG. Having kinda planned out a series of games with Trish and Agnes, playing through some of the standalone scenarios, I’ve since pushed this idea to the side in favour of an actual campaign once again: The Innsmouth Conspiracy has well and truly started! I’ve built new decks, for Stella and Zoey, and hope to finish that in the coming week or so. I’ve got next week off work, so fingers crossed I can have more games then, if nothing else!

I have been trying to get somewhere with my painting though, and after a month off in October, I’ve been back to the Genestealer Cults, getting more Neophyte Hybrids painted up alongside an Acolyte Iconward and a Clamavus. These characters weren’t part of my original scheme, so it may mean that I end up not completing the 500-point list by the end of the year – that’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it! I’m hoping to move onto the truck next, and still have the 5 Hybrid Metamorphs to do something with. So, we’ll see how far we get. But hopefully it’ll be a nice-looking little force, so I’m excited for that!

The Genestealer Cult hasn’t really been languishing for it, but I have moved on a little bit to another little project. After starting to read the third novel in the Grey Knights series, Hammer of Daemons, I’ve obviously moved on to these fellas once again, as it’s now a bit of a tradition for me to see how far I can get with them! I’ve got another 5-man Strike Squad on the table currently, along with a Brother-Captain. My painted Grey Knights are currently somewhere on a par with my painted Genestealer Cultists, in terms of size, so I suppose there’s a nice symmetry there in terms of building up both of the smaller forces. While I did initially think 9th edition might mean a slimming-down of my backlog, both of these armies are quite beautiful, and I really feel that I want to keep them.

My big news for November is that I’ve actually played my first game of Warhammer 40k this year, at last! Lockdowns do get in the way of these things, don’t they? JP and I took the tried-and-tested Chaos Space Marines vs Necrons out for a spin, but as ever, we spent most of the evening talking about all manner of junk and didn’t get much gaming actually done! I’m still not wholly sure about 9th edition, if I’m honest – I think it might be the subject for another blog, but I’m still not entirely in love with it. Which is slightly concerning, because if the recent pattern still holds true, we’ve only got about 18 months left before 10th edition rolls around…

It hasn’t even changed a great deal from 8th edition, really, it’s just the additional stuff in the rules have made it feel like it’s an overly complicated game now. When I sat down with the core rules a while back to try to make sense of them, it really surprised me just how little has actually changed. It certainly isn’t the seismic change from 7th to 8th that I experienced as my first edition change, but there’s something just stopping me from really enjoying it. I think this is probably something to explore in another blog, though. I might have a smaller-scale game with the Genestealer Cult and my mate James’ Black Templars soon, though, so maybe playing with a smaller model count might make things a bit better to understand, etc! Of course, that has its own problems when playing with an older Codex for the Genestealer Cult. Hm.

At any rate, I have been thinking that I would like to get more of my Necrons painted – I do have a lot of Necrons painted, for sure, but I need another ten Immortals, 5 Lychguard and 5 Tomb Blades to be finished before I can say that I’m happy with the force as it is. I’ll then be turning my attention to the stuff that I currently have painted, but which could be done better – some stuff like the Annihilation Barge could do with a bit of work to make it a bit more visually appealing, I think. So, I’d like to try and get the models that I think of as “finished” up to a better standard. Then there’s all manner of other units I need to turn my attention to.

I’m really chuffed to have got my hands on the new set for Warcry, Red Harvest, and have already started to build up some of the models from it. The design team are really knocking it out of the proverbial right now with this stuff, and I am utterly bowled-over by how good this stuff is. I think the terrain is what got me interested in this box, but the actual game content seems to be really great, too. It’s always nice when you get something like this – essentially a box of plastic – and there is a great rule set to go alongside it! My current plans, though, are to build up the new Tarantulos Brood warband, then potentially try them out in some regular games of Warcry with the core set stuff. It might be quite some time before all of that terrain is built, after all!

I have no more plans to attach to any of my hobby things right now, though. I think I just want to concentrate on getting my Genestealer Cultists done, and seeing where I can get to with the Grey Knights and the Necrons. If I can build and/or paint anything else, then that’s a bonus for me! I’m looking forward to making my way fully through the Innsmouth Conspiracy, and will have some more thoughts up here when that is all said and done. Who knows what else the month of December may hold? I do have some time off to look forward to, so there could be many exciting things yet to fill 2021!

The Innsmouth Conspiracy

Hey everybody,
It’s been a long time since I have played through a campaign for the Arkham Horror LCG but, here I am! After a recent look through the stuff that I have for the game, and that quick game with the Curse of the Rougarou standalone scenario, I’d decided to build some decks and go for a proper campaign once again. I had already sleeved up the Stella Clark starter deck, but I’ve swapped out a few of those cards now for a little more bespoke play, and after a quick search online, I thought I’d pair her with Zoey Samaras, as that seemed like an interesting combo. My previous games with a Survivor deck were in the Carcosa campaign, and I don’t think the pair of Survivor/Seeker worked particularly well (despite coming through that campaign really well, I admit!) so I’ve gone for Survivor/Guardian this time. New for me, both decks are made up of pairs of cards as well, rather than the more random mish-mash of card types I like to build! So there ought to be a certain degree of consistency as I play my way through this campaign – but we shall see!

As ever with these types of blogs, I’ll be discussing spoilers for the story, so please beware!

1. The Pit of Despair
This is a very interesting set up for the campaign. The investigator(s) wake up in a tidal tunnel, with some pretty severe memory loss, and realise they need to get out of there before they drown – especially having called out for help and heard fishy growls in the darkness. The game makes use of key tokens, colour-coded, which have no inherent meaning but are placed on locations and claimed when said location is fully explored. When you go to another location, if you’re in possession of a certain key, you’ll be instructed to read a certain flashback from the campaign guide, and note down a recovered memory. Now, it’s very tempting to just try and escape from this tidal hell, but recovery of these memories is actually key (pun somewhat intended), as they will allow you to remove certain tokens from the chaos bag for the rest of the campaign, making things that little bit easier!


I was a big fan, anyway, and I think I can safely say that I made the right choice of campaign with Innsmouth! Stella and Zoey are both pretty terrible at investigating locations though, and it’s only through Stella’s mechanic of gaining extra turns, and buffs following failed skill tests, that we made it through! But blimey – Zoey with a survival knife is brutal…

Campaign Log
I successfully recovered all four memories – the meeting with Thomas Dawson, the battle with a horrifying devil, the decision to stick together, and the encounter with a secret cult. After a short interlude, where Agent Harper helps me to piece all of these things together, 5 VPs are mine, but I can’t spend it yet.

2. The Vanishing of Elina Harper
Five weeks prior, the investigators are recruited by Thomas Dawson to help find Agent Harper, who has gone radio-silent on a job in Innsmouth. We get to the blighted town, and split up to try to find her. What follows is almost Innsmouth Horror but in card form, and it’s a lot of fun! Much like previous times where we’ve gotten to explore Arkham or Dunwich in the card game, I’ve enjoyed seeing sites that I’ve known from the board game. This scenario is very reminiscent of The Midnight Masks from the core set, and even uses some of those encounter cards. We’re trying to find the kidnapper and the hideout where Agent Harper is being held, so go round the town gaining clues, which we use to draw cards from a Leads deck, one of which can go into play (but we can see up to three). So in true detective style, we need to keep track of what we’ve seen to narrow down where she can be – advancing the act deck is done by making an accusation, but if we’re wrong, bad things might happen! We then need to fully investigate the real hideout, and defeat the kidnapper (who gains a health bonus), before we are victorious.

This was a very nice twist on the core set scenario, and one that I enjoyed a great deal. Something that I think worth mentioning about this game is how each subsequent campaign has built on the core set so beautifully, it still feels like the same game, but my goodness, it’s come a long way since the Night of the Zealot!

Campaign Log
So we rescued Elina Harper, and Zoey has taken her into her deck. There is also a Thomas Dawson ally card that could have been claimed, though I don’t know how – I probably did something wrong at an earlier point! I’ve gained three more VPs, and the mission was successful, so I can finally spend that experience! I’ve upgraded Survival Knife and Vicious Blow for Zoey, and Granny Orne for Stella, as well as swapping out her A Test of Will for Sharp Vision. Stella has fast become my go-to clue gatherer, so I think it makes sense to try to bolster that where I can. I’ll also try to help Zoey the same, because I think it would be more effective to have the ability for both of my investigators to be flexible.

So far, then, I think this has been a very strong opening to the campaign. I don’t know where I’m headed, truth be told, but I would imagine there is going to be some sort of confrontation with Dagon (given what I know of the lore) and I would expect the final pack of the campaign to take me to the underwater otherworld of Y’ha-nthlei, but that’s probably getting a bit too meta about it. I don’t know what to expect, though interestingly I didn’t have the same feeling of utter doubt as I did during the Path to Carcosa cycle, where I was wondering just what the right / best choice might have been. It’s not that this is a more prescriptive campaign, or anything, but I think it’s going to be interesting to see how this one plays out as time goes on.

One other point before I sign off – The Innsmouth Conspiracy introduces bless/curse tokens to the game. Finally! It’s a classic mechanic from other Arkham games, and I can only assume they have been at a loss as to how to introduce it in this one because of the lack of dice. Basically, we’re limited to 10 of either token in play at any one time, and various card effects will allow us to add in blessed tokens to the bag, which are worth +2 to the skill test, but do require you to draw again. They aren’t returned to the bag when drawn, so you’ll need to keep playing cards to replenish them. So far, I’ve only encountered player cards that interact with the blessed side of things, but I’ve heard that subsequent scenarios do have more to do with both types of tokens, so it’ll be an interesting ride to see how that all works out.

The Changing Mythos

Well, folks, it’s perhaps the big news we’ve all been waiting / hoping for – the release model for Arkham Horror LCG is changing! And it’s quite the dramatic shift, really!

The next expansion has been announced, and we are indeed going to Antarctica – and it even looks like we will indeed be going to the Mountains of Madness. Elder Things, ahoy! I was really coming around to the idea of an Alaska-themed Ithaqua expansion, but this is just as good!

But this isn’t the important bit.

For years now, Living Card Games from FFG have followed the schedule of a big deluxe expansion, and a cycle of six smaller packs, for the co-operative games both products had a mix of player and scenario cards. Now, though, this mix is being divided in two, and the whole scheme is being schmushed together, so that we have an entire cycle’s worth (more or less) of content, split across two boxes.

I guess this means that we’ll see just one expansion each year, though it’s such early days who knows what else we might have in store as time goes on?

The benefits here seem to be that the player cards are dropped in one hit, so you have an almost instant collection to build decks from, to plan decks from, etc. The scenario box also means that individual scenarios can be much longer, and the interplay between them can, presumably, be much tighter. I mean, who’s to say we’ll still get eight individual quests to play? We might only have five, but they’re that much more diverse because they aren’t bound by the constraints of fitting into a mythos pack.

In the middle of all this new stuff, it’s nice to know that we’re still getting new investigators, and they’re still drawing from the classic Arkham stable. Lily Chen is a fan favourite that I know has been on many players’ minds for some time. We have also seen Norman Withers, so we’re not going too far off piste just yet. Daniela Reyes can also be seen on the cover of the box, though I’m not sure who the other two are.

Overall, a very exciting game development, making it feel much less like a living card game of old, and much more like a boxed card game with a big box expansion; which I guess the co-op LCGs were all along. It’s only now that we’re seeing them this way!

January Retrospective

Hey everybody,
January has come and gone, and just like that, 2021 is under way. With the world as it is right now, I thought it’d be nice to have a little retrospective blog at the end of each month, highlighting the things that I have been up to, serving to remind myself (if nobody else) that it is still possible to do cool stuff!

To start with, I’ve done quite a bit of painting this month, between the Dark Eldar Incubi (above), and making a fantastic start with the Ossiarch Bonereapers, my new army for 2021! I’m chronicling the army progress separately of course, and will continue to do so as I get deeper into both the lore and the models! I’m currently working to finish off the Mortek Guard, both to get the basic scheme sorted and because troops can sometimes feel like a chore to get through! Contrast paints have been a real boon here, though, so I’m hoping that I can sail through things fairly quickly.

I’ve already been buying reinforcements, which I should probably try to control myself with, but I do find it hard to do so when I’m so excited for a project!

For 40k, I’ve been thinking back to my Dark Eldar days, especially since we have a codex on the horizon, so that will hopefully be good to get hold of! I’m wanting to get more variety in my lists, so I definitely want to get more wych cult models painted up – I’ve been thinking about this for a while of course, but it’s a definite goal for 2021. Fantasy has certainly come back to the fore for me, though, as I talked about last week, although I’m not sure if I could get as many games in with AoS when everything returns to normal. I guess we’ll have to see!

Warcry has come back on my radar, although it had never really left if I’m honest. Still having only played it once, I’m just in love with the aesthetic of the game, and the feel of the whole thing. I’m not all that interested in the plethora of warbands that have come out for it, but I do have my sights set on getting hold of more of the regular Chaos stuff – including, of course, the new Slaanesh stuff that will hopefully be out soon! I’m not going to go crazy with that, but I am looking forward to getting my hands on some of the Slaanesh mortal stuff for use in Warcry.

From games that I’m not playing to games that I have played, now. This month, I’ve managed to get in some games with both Arkham Horror LCG, and the third edition of the board game that I had for Christmas! Blogs on both events are coming, but let me tell you, the new edition of Arkham Horror is quite good. As for the card game, I’ve started The Circle Undone, and I’m really impressed. It leans heavily on witchcraft and the supernatural, something that doesn’t seem to be as associated with Lovecraft as the cosmic horror, but it’s an absolute delight, and while I’m only on the first mythos pack of the cycle, I’m very impressed! Come back this week for more thoughts there, anyway!

Let’s talk about a different type of witch now…

Disney+ has launched their first MCU tv-series this month, WandaVision, featuring of course Scarlet Witch and Vision. I’d almost forgotten about this, but had been getting increasingly intrigued when friends and fellow bloggers started to talk more about it. I do like Scarlet Witch, as well – House of M is still one of my favourite comic lines – so I’m intrigued by it. I’ve only seen the first episode, but it’s definitely got something going on under the surface there to make us think just what on earth is this all about. It’s a delightful Bewitched-style 1950s American sitcom, on the surface, until the dinner party near the end has us asking deeper questions as to what’s going on. I have no real theories yet, as it’s all a bit too early to say for me, but head here to check out a more detailed discussion!

From television to books, finally! In January, I read the first Darth Bane novel, Path of Destruction. The book, now Legends of course, deals with the early years of the Sith Lord, as he moves from a life of hard labour, through his military service on the side of the Sith in their war against the Jedi, to his awakening in the Force and learning to use his power at the academy on Korriban. The novel ends with the climactic battle of Ruusan, which of course is dealt with in the comic miniseries Jedi vs Sith.

I was disappointed with this book. I’m in a Facebook group where people have given high praise to this trilogy, but I can’t see what all the fuss is about. Putting aside the fact that Darth Bane’s birth name is Des, I think the book fell into the same trap as Tim Zahn’s new canon Thrawn trilogy, showing us an evil genius when he’s at school. There were strong echoes of Kevin J Anderson’s Jedi Academy trilogy as well, which felt a bit banal. The whole thing just seemed so silly, somehow. Set against the backdrop of the war, I thought the best parts were definitely those that showed us the fighting there, although even that got a bit ridiculous after a bit.

This was, of course, part of the problem with the comic book (for me) was a lack of any kind of historical perspective, as we don’t know how the war started, or do we get any context for what’s going on. We’re just plunged into this situation, although it is perhaps good in that the book is definitely better than the comic in that it has more breadth to tell its tale, it still feels like we need more.

I also think it’s worth mentioning that the book didn’t seem to take great pains to distance itself, temporally, from the main movie periods. It takes place a thousand years before A New Hope, yet the tech feels, at best, similar to Phantom Menace era. No effort is really made to do anything more, which is quite sad, really. At least the Tales of the Jedi comic books actually felt like they had ancient tech in comparison!

What I did like was the way the book had me guessing throughout. Bane’s relationship with his fellow student Githany led me to wonder if she would become his famous apprentice, Darth Zannah, but suffice it to say – she doesn’t!

Bane is a big part of Star Wars, created by Lucas during production of Phantom Menace, and while I didn’t exactly enjoy the first book in this trilogy, I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and carry on with Rule of Two soon, as I’m really intrigued as to where the story is headed next!

For now, however, I’ve moved back to 40k for something completely different:

Warhammer: Invasion

Hey everybody!
It’s time for a celebration here at spalanz.com, as this post marks my 1000th post on my blog! Whoever would have thought? It’s also my birthday, so it’s a double celebration, and I thought that I’d mark it in style. Today, I thought I’d talk about one of my all-time favourite games. It’s one that I have mentioned rather a lot over the years, but have never gotten round to actually featuring on the blog until now. It’s time to delve into the Old World, with Warhammer: Invasion, from Fantasy Flight Games!

Warhammer: Invasion

This was one of FFG’s original line-up of living card games, and as such features the older distribution model of having one full cycle of card packs (called ‘battle packs’ here) where they didn’t print an entire playset of each card; rather, the first cycle has 40-card packs where 10 cards have the full set of three copies, and 10 cards are one-of. The game was designed by Eric Lang, who has worked a lot with FFG over the years (and, due to his design of this game, has earned the glorious reputation of being my favourite game designer!) and was published between 2009 and 2013. This is really why I have never gotten round to featuring it on my blog, as I didn’t start writing it until the year after it had received its final expansion.

It is a competitive game for two players, where each player takes control of one of the six great factions of the Old World of Warhammer Fantasy: The Empire, Dwarves, High Elves, Chaos, Orcs or Dark Elves. This is before Age of Sigmar shook things up, remember, so we’ve got the delightful Holy Roman Empire-inspired battlegrounds replete with legends such as Karl Franz and Sigvald the Magnificent.

I’ve played this game a lot, and while I have played as every faction, I have the most experience as playing Chaos, and so all of the photos I’ve taken to show this great game are from the Ruinous Powers’ perspective.

Warhammer: Invasion

Each player has a Capital board, which has three zones: a Kingdom zone, a Battlefield zone, and a Quest zone. These zones determine how you play the game. Each has a number of axe symbols there: you gain resources equal to the number of axes in your Kingdom zone; you can attack your opponent for a number of damage equal to those in your Battlefield zone, and you draw cards equal to the number of axes in your Quest zone.

There are a number of different card types in the game: mainly Units, such as fighters and wizards, but also Support cards, Tactics cards, and Quest cards. Support cards are a bit like locations or objects that you can deploy to increase your influence in the game. Tactics cards are basically Event cards, with a one-time effect. Quest cards are only ever played into the Quest zone, and represent a longer-term investment in your strategy – they have effects that will trigger if a unit is played onto the quest, and you can gain bonuses thereafter.

Warhammer: Invasion

The object of the game is simple: you must burn two of your opponent’s zones by dealing at least 8 damage to that zone.

So, on your turn you get three resources because your Capital board has got three axes in your Kingdom zone from the off. You can use those resources to play cards into your Kingdom zone to increase the axes you have there, which will net you more resources next turn, or you can play cards into your Quest zone to draw more cards on your next turn.

Resources are a bit funny in this game, in that there are two costs for playing a card: the actual printed cost (in the top left corner) and its Loyalty cost, displayed in symbols down the left hand side of the card. Each Capital board provides one loyalty symbol, and other cards, once played, will provide a similar cost. If you only have two symbols among cards under your control and the Capital board, and the card you want to play has three loyalty symbols on it, then the difference increases the cost of that card. It’s a good way to balance cards where players might want to combine races (though that isn’t such an easy thing to do anyway, so I’m not sure you’d want to do this very often).

The Kingdom zone gives you buying power, as we’ve seen, and the Quest zone increases your card draw as well as giving you useful options through Quest cards, which can grant useful effects when units are placed there on the quest. The Battlefield zone is, normally, the only way to actually fight your opponent and deal damage to them. During the Battlefield phase, the active player can declare attackers against his opponent’s zone, totting up the combined axes between all of the cards declared as such. The defending player then declares which if his units, if any, will defend from that zone, and the damage is assigned simultaneously. Once this has been done, it is actually applied so the attacker and defender can both lose units at this point. Any excess damage dealt by the attacker is placed onto the defender’s Capital board, and as mentioned earlier, 8 points of damage is enough to burn that zone. (Importantly, if the defender has the possibility to over-assign damage in their defense, that damage is not dealt back to the attacker’s Capital.)

Warhammer: Invasion

So in the above example, I’ve got six axes in my Kingdom zone, so I’ll be getting six resources per turn, and I get to draw three cards per turn, also. The Battlefield zone is quite impressive, having a Bloodthirster out that deals a massive 5 damage, as well as forces the discard of a unit from my opponent’s Battlefield zone before I attack. The Bloodletter also doubles all damage being dealt to units, which could potentially allow me to one-shot a zone in my attack phase. Nasty!

It’s a very straightforward game when explained like this, but there is a depth that comes from different card effects as well as the strategy of where you’re going to attack. For example, a player might be tempted to place a lot of his heavy-hitting units in his Battlefield in the expectation of using them to deal a lot of damage, but if his opponent attacks his Quest or Kingdom zone, there may be much weaker units there that cannot absorb the amount of damage coming through. Similarly, it sometimes doesn’t pay to double-down on attacking your opponent’s Quest or Battlefield zone if they’re building up a vast amount of resources in their Kingdom zone, which allows them to easily bring out something like a Bloodthirster!

There are a number of moving parts to a game like this, of course, with keywords that allow for some evil shenanigans on both sides. Toughness appears on some cards and acts as damage-negation, while Counterstrike allows a defender to immediately deal its damage to the attacker, reducing the overall damage being dealt. I said earlier that each zone will burn if it is dealt 8 points of damage; one way you can protect it is by playing cards face-down into that zone as Developments. Developments add 1 hit point to the zone that they’re in, and a player may only play one Development per turn. One aspect of the game that is particularly associated with Chaos is Corruption, which turns a card 90-degrees and removes its ability to act as an attacker or defender. You only get to restore one Corrupt card per turn, so if your opponent has Corrupted a number of your cards, then you’ll be facing an uphill struggle, from the off!

Warhammer: Invasion

With a generous life-cycle, Warhammer: Invasion had a lot of expansions. In addition to the initial Assault on Ulthuan box that brought High Elves and Dark Elves into the game (the core set only included four full factions, with just a couple of cards for the Elven races), March of the Damned brought us Lizardmen and Vampire Counts. The artwork on March of the Damned, as I have mentioned many times before, is what initially drew me to this game!

There were six full cycles each of six Battle Packs for the game:
The Corruption Cycle
The Enemy Cycle
The Morrslieb Cycle
The Capital Cycle
The Bloodquest Cycle
The Eternal War Cycle
Each of these worked on developing a specific aspect of the game, such as the Bloodquest cycle giving greater emphasis to Quests in the game. The Morrslieb cycle gave greater interaction with Developments, while introducing the Wood Elves to the game as a neutral faction, similar to how the Skaven had been introduced in the Corruption cycle. Hidden Kingdoms was the final deluxe expansion that then brought the four neutral factions to the fore, making each one a fully playable faction by giving small-scale Capital cards to allow you to play, for instance, all-Lizardmen:

Warhammer: Invasion

Perhaps one of the most important expansions was the Legends deluxe box, which brought a new card type to the game: Legends (surprising, that!)

Warhammer: Invasion

These cards are played into the centre of your Capital, and grant additional axes to each of your zones. Legends can be attacked instead of attacking a particular zone, and some of the more powerful ones might need to be dealt with before they can run away with the game for your opponent, so it can sometimes be worthwhile doing this! The deluxe expansion brought ways to interact with these Legends, however, and subsequent expansions even brought out new Legends, making them as close to a fully-supported type as possible. Hidden Kingdoms, in fact, brought us neutral Legend cards for each of the four factions.

Finally, the Cataclysm expansion gave us the option for multiplayer games.

Warhammer: Invasion

Cataclysm changed up the gameplay quite a bit, by adding these Fulcrum cards – sites of incredible magical power that can be channeled by a player during his turn to gain the effect on them. Cataclysm brings 3-4 players into the mix, and there are always 1 less Fulcrum cards than the number of players in play. In a four player game, three Fulcrums are in play – a player can declare an attack against a Fulcrum card from the common play area, and gain control of it, putting it into his Battlefield zone. During the end phase of the round, a player gains Dominance equal to the number of Fulcrums under his control: if a player has 8 Dominance at the end of the round, he will win.

Warhammer: Invasion

Cataclysm also changed the rules so that all three zones of a player’s Capital board must be burning for them to be eliminated. As such, the player cards included with the expansion all held a greater significance for burning zones, although these could obviously also be used in regular games, though given the fact fewer zones need to be burning, they would have a correspondingly lower impact.


Warhammer: Invasion is just a magnificent game. Before I discovered Magic the Gathering, it was my most-played competitive card game by a long shot. Something changed for me back in 2015, though, and the fact that Magic can be played purely with a deck of cards, and no need for all the tokens and Capital boards, it sort of struck a chord for me, and Warhammer: Invasion slipped down the ranks. However, I think with the End Times and then Age of Sigmar obliterating the Old World, there is something incredibly comforting about this game – I don’t mean that from the point of view of someone who rages against AoS, of course! I just love the low fantasy setting of the Old World, and I find it akin to coming home whenever I think about playing this game.

I mentioned the depth of gameplay that Warhammer: Invasion holds earlier, and I think there is something to be said about having a game where you begin with a deck of 100 cards! Games can be brutal, for sure, but they can also be quite long, as each side builds up their forces in the manner of true warfare. Sorties are sent to test the enemy, in case of any Tactics cards that might be played, before committing to an all-out assault in the typical carnage of Warhammer!

I haven’t played it for four years, though, which I suppose speaks a lot about my gaming habits in this day and age! Solo and cooperative games are a much better bet for me now, of course, but I’m hopeful that, when the world has returned to normal and we can see friends once more, I can convince my long-time gaming buddy Tony to break out his High Elf deck and once more demolish my attempts to Corrupt the world!

Dipping into Madness…

Hey everybody,
Today is once again game day here at spalanz.com, as I was lucky enough to get some time to myself yesterday where I could actually play some games! I know, it was quite spooky really! My daughter is now thirteen months old, and is certainly in more of a routine where I can plan stuff like this, so it was definitely time to grab that while I could!

I managed two games, along a similar theme, and it was just glorious.

First up, we have Eldritch Horror. This is one of my all-time favourite games of globetrotting mystery and supernatural dread, although it suffers somewhat for being such a juggernaut to set up! This time around, it took some time for me to get back into the swing of things, although I think it was literally just one round for each of the investigators – Mark Harrigan and Diana Stanley – before it all came flooding back, and I was off! I chose these investigators because I had finally actually read that little introductory blurb at the start of the rulebook, where it seems to be the pair of them looking into the weird occult mysteries of the world…

I followed this up with Arkham Horror LCG, a game that I have been trying to get back into for a couple of weeks now. I have built two new decks since I last played back in the summer of 2019 (when I actually ran through the entire Dunwich Legacy campaign). Roland Banks is the first investigator that I ever used, and even though I’ve not exactly played this game a lot, I have something of a soft spot for him all the same. Akachi Onyele is usually a very powerful investigator in the other Arkham games, though I’ve played two games with this duo now and it’s clear already that she really needs the right spells out to be any good. That’s probably a bit harsh, but in the game yesterday, I noticed particularly how she just couldn’t really do anything before I had Wither out, whereupon she became more of a tank than the Guardian investigator!

I’ve really gotten back into the whole Cthulhu mythos and Arkham Files games lately, and part of me is now really annoyed with myself for having sold off my Arkham Horror 2nd edition collection last year. I got a good price for it, don’t get me wrong, but it was such a good game, and I never got round to featuring each one of the expansions on the blog before it went.

However, I’ve found myself looking into getting the 3rd edition for Christmas, so that will be quite nice when the festive season is finally here! Definitely need stuff to look forward to as we’re on the cusp of a new lockdown, as well!

Eldritch Horror was just lovely to get back on the table, I must say. I’ve still got a couple of expansions for that game to feature up here, so I’m thinking that I’ll get back into the tradition of looking at those roundabout Christmas time! Indeed, playing yesterday’s game was mostly about getting back into the game so that I could look at playing the expansions – seems like I’ve only played some of them once or twice, but The Dreamlands box is still in the shrinkwrap! I’m really behind with the times here.

I kinda fell away from the Arkham Horror LCG last year, thinking that I was barely playing it anyway, so didn’t buy any of the Dream-Eaters cycle as I had three full campaigns still to play through. However, I’m now thinking that I need to catch up with it all! I’d spent a few days recently looking into it all as if from scratch, and have sleeved all of my cards and bought the ‘Return to’ boxes to make sure everything is stored up properly, so I’m really finding myself quite hungry for more now!

Having taken that time to get to know the game again, though, I can definitely see myself playing this one for a long time yet. It seems as though the Dunwich Legacy campaign is fairly tame in comparison to some of the later ones, and a lot of people seem to favour the Path to Carcosa set, so I’m thinking that my next proper foray will be there – everything is ready for me, anyway!

Interestingly, now that Lord of the Rings has finished, I’m finding myself almost moving away from that game in favour of this one. For sure, I’m not going to be sacking off my collection of the older game, as I’ve had far too much fun with it over the years to want to be without it, but I think that game did seem to suffer a little for the designers’ efforts in making it more challenging. Mirkwood and Dwarrowdelf are still the high watermark for me, although I’ve not played so many cycles from the game I could be selling it short. However, with Arkham, it seems to have been designed as fairly tough from the outset, but the variable difficulty of the Chaos Bag allows for it to still be enjoyable. In fact, as I think I’ve talked about before, the game really benefits from not being a simple kill-the-monsters sort of thing that Lord of the Rings can sometimes become – the encounter deck for Arkham is very often full of treachery cards, with just a couple of enemies to keep things interesting. There are so many different moving parts in the game that keep things moving, so that the formula allows for much greater variety on the whole.

Like I say, I’m not getting rid of Lord of the Rings, but I do feel that Arkham Horror has overtaken it in my affections lately!

Playing Magic: Cult of Rakdos

Hey everybody,
It’s been a long time since I have talked about Magic on my blog, but it’s been something that I’ve been drifting back towards in recent days, so I’ve been looking over some of the decks that I’ve had built over the years. I’ve written quite a few of these “playing Magic” blogs, focusing on a few of the Ravnica guilds such as Dimir and Orzhov, but not yet on the colour combination that I perhaps enjoy more than any other: red and black! So it’s finally time to get to “my roots”, as it were, and talk about the Cult of Rakdos!

Rakdos Lord of Riots

Rakdos is unlike any of the other Guilds on the plane of Ravnica, in that they’re a sort of madcap band of circus-folk who are all bound by their hedonistic worship of the demon, Rakdos. The black and red cult has appeared now in three different sets, starting with Dissension in original Ravnica back in 2006. The guild mechanic here was Hellbent, an ability word that gave additional or enhanced effects to a card if you have no cards in hand.

Return to Ravnica gave us Unleash, a mechanic that allows you to choose when casting a creature to place a +1/+1 counter on it. If you do, it then cannot block, but is obviously buffed for as long as it remains in play. (Indeed, a counter placed from any source will prevent the creature from blocking). As far as the link to Rakdos goes, it’s fairly thematic, given the fact that the creature will only be concerned with attacking.

Finally, Ravnica Allegiance has given us Spectacle, which is a sort of re-imagined version of the ability originally chosen for Rakdos – if an opponent lost life this turn, you can cast the spell for its Spectacle cost rather than its casting cost. It’s also thematic for being so similar to the ability of the guildmaster himself, Rakdos Lord of Riots.

Rakdos

So let’s get down to my deck!

Creatures
Rakdos, Lord of Riots
Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch
Spike Jester (2)
Goblin Deathraiders (2)
Rakka Mar
Kiln Fiend
Hellrider
Rakdos Cackler (2)
Rakdos Shred-Freak (2)
Gore-House Chainwalker (2)
Rakdos Drake (2)
Exuberant Firestoker

Instants
Staggershock (2)
Shock (2)
Showstopper (2)
Virulent Swipe (2)
Rally the Forces

Enchantments
Lightning Talons (2)
Deviant Glee (2)
Madcap Skills
Anthem of Rakdos

Artifacts
Rakdos Keyrune (2)
Rakdos Signet
Rakdos Cluestone
Veinfire Borderpost

Land
Rakdos Guildgate (4)
Rakdos Carnarium (2)
Blood Crypt
Swamp (7)
Mountain (8)

There are a couple of things that I’ve considered changing about this deck, but I’ve had pretty decent luck with it so far that I’ve not really done anything about it just yet.

The bulk of the deck is of course Rakdos-centric, which is a lot of attacking power and Haste creatures. A lot of people don’t value Enchantments much, because of the fact that they die with the creature they’re attached to, but I do like to have some in my decks for the abilities they can grant. And I do recall one particularly memorable game where I had the Hellrider deal just one point of damage to my opponent, which let me bring Rakdos himself out, and the pair of them consequently won me the game while equipped with Deviant Glee and Lightning Talons, respectively! By contrast, the only artifacts included in the deck are concerned with mana-fixing, which is probably something that isn’t going to be a problem with the majority of the cards included, but they’re also really on-theme, so I find it hard to argue with that!

I mentioned Hellrider being a useful way to ensure Rakdos comes out, but there are a couple of direct-damage spells (of course!) that can help to ensure I’m able to deal damage to my opponent if need be, as well as the Exuberant Firestoker who, for quite a while, was almost cut from the team. However, even with creatures that have Trample or Flying, I need to make sure I can get the big guy out as much as possible. There are plenty of ways to pump him throughout the deck, which can win me the game if need be – Rakdos with Lightning Talons was a 9/6 Flying & Trample demon badass, but with Virulent Swipe he can be an 11/6 Flying/Trample/Deathtouch nightmare! Add in a Rally the Forces and he’s giving out 12 points of damage in the air – Trample ensures at least some of it gets through, and First Strike will kill off any chumps before they get a chance to kill him as well. If Anthem of Rakdos is added into the mix, there is the potential to one-shot a player! He can be such an incredible threat, it’s worth adding in the additional insurances to make sure he can be cast!

Exava Rakdos Blood Witch

Of course, the deck isn’t entirely about the Lord of Riots. He’s not an expensive card to buy, normally, but his availability has decreased significantly since I first got into the game, it has to be said. So the deck was never going to be a showcase for my favourite cult leader. We’ve got Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch, who acts almost as a focal point for the Unleash mechanic, allowing me to play those creatures on the turn they come out as she gives anything with a +1/+1 counter Haste. There are plenty of creatures and plenty of direct-damage spells that I can still stand a very good chance here, even if the Lord of Riots is stuck at the bottom of my deck. I don’t need him to win, but he’s really great when he hits the table!

I’ve talked before about encouraging the aesthetics of the deck in having cards in the same frame, and so on, and here I wanted to keep that sort of look of the deck as having the pre-M15 frame. I should probably try to make another deck from the new Rakdos cards in the new block, as I’ve got quite a few that I think might go together to make a decent re-imagining of the classic combo of black and red. Might be a blog for another day soon!

Rakdos

Outside of the Ravnica cards, I’ve gone pretty wide this time in the deck, including stuff from original Zendikar block, and even Shards of Alara. I feel it’s worth mentioning here the Borderposts that I’ve included in the deck – I’ve come across a lot of hate for these cards online, as people seem to condemn anything that isn’t a fetchland as worthless. However, it’s worth noting that you can pay 1 generic mana and return a land to your hand to play the card, rather than paying the three-mana casting cost. Turn one, then, being able to play the post provides some immediate fixing on the same speed as a Guildgate. Again, I’m aware that Guildgates are hardly the go-to lands but, playing against a lot of land removal allows me to keep my colour fixing in artifacts like these and the Keyrune etc.

Of course, it’s basically an aggro deck, so there are a lot of creatures involved, with a lot of combat tricks to buff them (and keeping the Kiln Fiend happy!) I’ve been thinking of more stuff like this going into the deck, to have more value coming from casting spells – Guttersnipe springs to mind, of course, but as I’d said before, I’ve had decent success so I’m not in too much of a rush to change things for now. I also have only 9 instant cards in the deck, which I don’t think is enough to consider building a spells-matter strategy into it at this point.

Rakdos

It’s a lot of fun playing these sorts of decks, I find, as you usually don’t find yourself playing for very long, so can get in multiple games and, thus, get to see a lot more of the deck.

There are a lot of great cards that can find a home in a deck like this, although they do tend to lend themselves to a certain type of card as time goes on. I’ve found myself having collected a large number of Magic cards over the years, and so find it a lot of fun to physically go through the collection and build decks that include all manner of weird and wonderful cards and effects. It’s also one of the reasons that I think this game is always going to be around for me – I might not play it anywhere near as often as I used to, but it’s something that has been a big part of my life for quite some time, and will doubtless always remain there, ready for me to come back to it when life allows! I suppose that’s the beauty of the game, in that a deck like Return to Ravnica-era Rakdos (and we’re talking 2012 here) will always be fun to play, no matter what has happened in the game. There’s another reason why I keep coming back to Magic – that timeless quality of it just being a really good game!

Remembering Netrunner

Hey everybody,
Anyone who reads my blog regularly will know I’m mostly obsessed with Warhammer 40k, although of course I’ve long been a huge fan of all manner of tabletop boardgames, particularly those from Fantasy Flight. While it’s been almost two years, I’ve recently found myself feeling pretty nostalgic for Android Netrunner, that amazing living card game that came to an end in 2018 after six glorious years of expansions that served to deepen the gameplay and expand the universe.

Android Netrunner

 

I first featured this game on my blog back in 2015, after having had a couple of years’ casual play out of it with my regular gaming buddy Tony, who introduced me to it after we’d enjoyed a few of the LCGs from FFS’s stable. I think the original draw, for me at least, was how asymmetrical the game play is. The differences in what each side is trying to do made it pretty different from any game I’d come across, before or since, really!

At the time, I was quite heavily involved in web development, and was looking to pursue it as something of a career option. Perhaps this was among the things that attracted me to the Runner side of the game, particularly the Shaper faction. While I think I’ve tried out each of the Runner factions, the Shaper was the faction I kept coming back to, because of the tinkering aspect of the identity. Being able to do crazy-ass things appealed to me greatly, and it was for sure the identity that I had the most fun with!

Android Netrunner

I played in the Summer 2015 Netrunner tournament, using my favourite Shaper build alongside a hastily put-together Haas/Bioroid Corp deck that I hadn’t really used before. Indeed, playing the Corp wasn’t something that I was overly familiar with at that time, as I’d played almost exclusively as the Runner when playing against Tony. However, the tournament was perhaps a symptom of the success I’d had with infecting the local community with this card game, and opportunities for games became fairly regular over time with guys at the local store. As such, I was able to get into playing more Corp decks, and to see what the fuss was all about.

Android Netrunner

NBN is an identity that I had graduated towards shortly before their deluxe expansion came out, and they had a massive boost in publicity. For most of my time with the game, Jinteki seemed to be the dominant Corp that I’d played against, although Tony always favoured Wayland. At any rate, I started throwing cards together and, over time, came up with a really enjoyable deck to play – I think I won with it as often as I lost, so I think that’s a fairly decent yardstick!

Android Netrunner

I sold off my collection in December 2018, sadly, having not actually played the game for more than two years prior to that. It was actually quite a sad moment, really, as I’d had so much fun with the game over the years. As it happens, though, I turned it into more plastic crack, so I suppose I’ve managed to get something out of it.

I do feel, though, that of all the games that I’ve played, the games that I’ve bought and then sold, this is one that I really regret losing a hold of. FFG stopped publishing the game, of course, but I have recently thought about trying to get a hold of a core set again, maybe a couple of expansion packs, just to recreate some of those happy times! I think Tony has still got his copy though, so I can always raid that to build up some decks and try my luck again when the lockdown is properly lifted!!

We’re approaching GenCon now, of course, which always gets me thinking about the other games from my collection. Gaming isn’t all about the grim darkness of the far future – something that I think I’d like to try to recapture as time goes on. Fingers crossed!

Playing Magic: The Orzhov Syndicate

Hey everybody!
It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these “playing Magic” blogs, but in light of the fact that I’ve started to collect some cards again, and seeing as how we’ve just experienced another return to the plane of Ravnica, I thought it’s about time I wrote up a blog showcasing the Orzhov deck that I’ve been talking about in a number of my previous blogs! So without further ado, let’s get to it!

Orzhov Syndicate

The Orzhov Syndicate is a bit like the idea of a corrupt Church organisation, not all that far removed from real life, where the leaders are more businessmen than clerics, and who have a very temporal power through their control of all manner of deals. Indeed, one of the Guild-specific land cards in the original Ravnica block is Orzhova, the Church of Deals. There is a strong theme whereby even in death, a person’s debt is rarely paid, and so the Guild features a lot of ghosts and shades, with a few keywords that have come in over the years that play on that idea.

The original keyword mechanic for the Orzhov Syndicate was Haunt. Widely considered to be a terrible mechanic (head designer Mark Rosewater himself considers it “a mistake”), a card with Haunt will be exiled rather than placed in the graveyard, “haunting” another permanent on the battlefield. When the card it is haunting is itself then put into the graveyard, that action will trigger the Haunt effect of the original card, basically getting a second use out of it before both die.

During Return to Ravnica block, Orzhov had the mechanic Extort, which allows you to pay an additional white or black mana whenever you cast a spell, whereupon each opponent loses 1 life and you gain life equal to the total lost. Commonly referred to as “drain and gain”, it’s a great way to ensure cards have impact for you the whole game, and it’s the mechanic around which I’ve built my deck that I’ll talk about shortly!

During the latest Guilds of Ravnica block, the new Orzhov mechanic is Afterlife X, which creates X 1/1 Spirit creature tokens when the card with Afterlife X dies. I suppose you can think of this as a cleaner Haunt, or at least, a cleaner implementation of the idea of Haunt! It’s also extremely on-point for the idea of never quite paying off your debts to the Syndicate!

Unlike my Dimir deck, my Orzhov deck is all about the Guild, and goes heavily into the theme of Orzhov, using cards only from Ravnica and Return to Ravnica blocks.

Orzhov Syndicate

I’ll be the first to admit, this deck can be clunky as hell. Because of the fact that I’ve got the self-imposed limit of only including Guild-specific cards in the deck, it’s really difficult to reliably make the deck win. I’ve also included some cards in there for the sheer theme alone, and ordinarily wouldn’t consider using if I were trying to make the deck more playable. But it’s a lot of fun to build decks that are dripping with theme like this, so there is definitely that in its favour!

Creatures (25):
Obzedat, Ghost Council
Blood Baron of Vizkopa
Kingpin’s Pet
Treasury Thrull
Syndic of Tithes
Syndicate Enforcer
Souls of the Faultless
Maze Sentinel
Basilica Guards
Sin Collector
High Priest of Penance (2)
Tithe Drinker (2)
Orzhov Guildmage
Vizkopa Confessor
Thrull Parasite (2)
Crypt Ghast
Pontiff of Blight
Vizkopa Guildmage
Dutiful Thrull (2)
Basilica Screecher (2)

Instants & Sorceries (5):
Purge the Profane
Executioner’s Swing (2)
Obzedat’s Aid (2)

Artifacts (4):
Orzhov Signet
Orzhov Cluestone
Orzhov Keyrune (2)

Enchantments (4):
Gift of Orzhova (2)
Shadow Lance
Blind Obedience

Land (22):
Orzhov Guildgate (3)
Orzhov Basilica (3)
Orzhova, the Church of Deals
Plains (8)
Swamp (7)

Orzhov Syndicate

There are 15 instances of Extort as a keyword in the deck, though thanks to the Pontiff of Blight, every single spell being cast has the potential to gain Extort – and in case you were wondering, multiple instances of Extort on a card do indeed stack, so there is definitely the potential for some serious drain and gain shenanigans going on there!

Of course, Extort isn’t the only thing going on with the deck. There is a certain element of Control, thanks to stuff like Blind Obedience (a card I normally dislike playing due to the amount of hate it can attract) and the High Priest of Penance forcing some difficult choices to be made by any would-be attacker. The lifegain potential in the deck is high, due to the multiple instances of Lifelink outside of Extort, though one of the big areas this deck falls down is a failing to weaponize that. I’ve talked more in-depth on weaponizing lifegain in my Ayli Commander deck blog, though, and I think if I were to travel outside of the Ravnica block cards, it wouldn’t be too difficult to create a really punishing version of this deck.

Ultimately, this is meant to be just a fun deck that is really dripping with theme, and one that brings back fond memories for me when I was first getting into Magic the Gathering, watching Spellslingers and enjoying the interactions of the cards, as well as seeing just how much fun you can have playing this game!!

Games updates!

Hey everybody!
I may be in the middle of moving house, but I’m still trying to keep abreast of all the goings-on in the games world! There is, after all, quite a great deal happening in the world, and I feel like it’s a glorious time for us nerds as we move into the summer.

First up, I want to talk about Lord of the Rings, and the first pack preview for the upcoming Vengeance of Mordor cycle.

After your adventures in A Shadow in the East, Dorwinion seems to be bright and beautiful, free from the taint of evil that the mysterious cult had swept over the land. After a month of peaceful travel, your band of adventurers have made their way back to the capital city to enjoy one last night of the citizens’ hospitality before returning home. You are glad for the rest, but your thoughts cannot help but drift back to the horrors you witnessed in the shadow of Mordor, and wonder whether the evil has truly been rooted out.

Your fears are confirmed when you awake in the middle of the night to the sounds of clashing steel and cries of fear pouring in from the streets. The enemy has gotten Inside the Walls. Thane Ulchor, a traitor to Dorwinion, has returned to the city with an army of Easterlings. His agents within the city slew the guards and opened the gate to let them in, and now the battle rages in the streets. It is up to you to defend the helpless citizens, support the city guard, and push back the invading forces before the city falls into the clutches of darkness.

I feel very much like this cycle is setting itself up a little like Against the Shadow, which was an urban cycle focused on Gondor, and began with a pack set in the city with the task of rooting out a traitor. While comparisons can be made with controlling locations and Assault on Osgiliath, I think this one could be quite interesting, with the locations you control having effects on them that remain in play even after the card has left play.

Of course, the most interesting aspect of this pack is the new Tom Bombadil ally card, which is shuffled into the encounter deck if you manage to play a copy of the Tom Bombadillo! card from your hand. It’s an interesting way to bring in an ally like this – previously, they’ve been included in the encounter deck as Objectives. It’s exciting to see that the game is still bringing us new ways to play, even this far in the game’s history.

I’ve not been playing Lord of the Rings nearly as much as I’d like to this year, though I have rediscovered my love for the adventure card game with Arkham Horror LCG, and recently picked up the Return to Night of the Zealot box from my local store. While I’ve finally made it to playing The Dunwich Legacy, I think it might be fun to give this one a try and see how much more difficult the additional cards make things!

I’m still not caught up with the current cycle, which I think has now seen the final pack released, but I am looking forward to the next box already, as it looks really interesting with its dual-planes of play. I’ve already talked about this in a previous blog, of course, but I really need to catch up with this game and put some time aside to really investigate what it has to offer. I mean, it’s really not that I dislike the game, it just doesn’t seem to have the table-time that I think it needs. Symptomatic of the times, of course, as I don’t seem to be playing anywhere near as much as I’d like. I guess I’m mainly painting miniatures these days, which brings me on to…

Warcry, the skirmish game set in the Mortal Realms, the game I’d nearly forgotten about with everything else going on, has had another warband revealed, and it is just weird!

The Unmade are just…well, weird! They look like some wonderful Drukhari experiment or something, and I can probably see myself getting hold of some of these models simply to paint, though I’m not sure if they’ve taken the spot of the Iron Golems as my favourite.

They look… I don’t know, almost too-40k. Especially that elongated champion-like figure. Very much John Blanche-esque, make no mistake!

They could also make some useful Cultists for 40k, thinking about it…

Model of the set is probably this chap with the chain, though. The models coming out of Nottingham these days are all pretty amazing, but the sense of movement in these warbands is just phenomenal, and I thought it just looks really, really cool!

Of course,

Where the hell did this come from?! Talisman: Batman?! Not only a re-skin of the classic game, but a Super Villains edition, where you navigate the hallways of Arkham Asylum, evading Batman to free the inmates! Sounds hilarious, and it’s always interesting when you have the opportunity to play as the villains!

I’m actually trying to thin out the boardgames collection once more, as space is currently at a premium while we get settled in the new house and prepare for the arrival of the firstborn, but it is definitely very tempting, I have to say!!

Core Set 2020 is now out, with no real storyline as such (well, it’s a Core Set, so…) but focusing on the life of everybody’s favourite pyromancer, Chandra Nalaar. The set focuses on three-colour wedges, which I like because it’s the first time we’re seeing this since Tarkir block, the set that I really started playing in. I’ve not played in prerelease, of course, but I would like to get my hands on some of those cards for my decks!

There is always something quite nice about a new Magic set, and especially seeing a Core Set again. I’m really trying hard not to fall into the spiral of the cardboard crack, but Magic is probably the best one-on-one card game experience I can think of, so I think it will always be there in some form, and I enjoy collecting at least a few cards from each set and seeing what I can do with them!