From the computer to the tabletop, this is all about games. Updated each week-end.
Part of my recent visit to CanCon 2013 involved participating in the Gatecrash pre-release for Magic: The Gathering. Gatecrash is the latest set to come out, and is the ‘second half’ of the Return to Ravnica set.
Ravnica is a world-sized city that is run by 10 guilds. In the first set, Return to Ravnica, five guilds were covered. Gatecrash brings us the other five. These are:
Boros – the police force of Ravnica, very aggressive, and represented by the colours red and white
Dimir – the secret keepers and spies, these are blue and black
Orzhov – moneylenders and extortionists wrapped around a church, they are black and white
Gruul – this guild rejects the city and attempts to return derelict sections to the wild, and make derelict any other sections they come across. The Gruul are red and green.
Simic – these biomancers constantly mess with creatures to create new custom types for their own purposes. Simic are Blue and Green.
The other five colour pairs in magic were represented by guilds from the first set. There will be a third set later this year, called Dragon’s Maze, that will feature all ten guilds together.
The pre-release events are a great initiative of Wizards of the Coast. They allow all players, from casual to competitive, to try out the new set at the same time and get a feel for what is new and interesting. You can go to get a heads up on where the competitive game might be heading, or simply to pick up some random interesting cards to add to your decks.
For Gatecrash players were asked to choose their guild. This meant your deck would most likely be themed around one of the five guilds above. If you choose Boros, for example, you would receive a special pre-release card for that guild, a pack with cards only for Boros, and then five other booster packs from the Gatecrash set. In a pre-release you are asked to build a deck with a minimum of 40 cards, including land.
I chose Dimir, the blue/black guild. I’ve always enjoyed playing this colour pair, and the guild seemed underrated to me in the chatter leading up to the pre-release.
As things turn out, I didn’t get some of the blue and black commons and uncommons I’d hoped for, but was still able to build a reasonable deck. Each guild has its own mechanic, a game rule that appears only on cards for that guild. Dimir has the Cypher mechanic, which allows you to encode a spell you have just cast on one of your creatures. Whenever that creature deals combat damage to a player, you get to cast that spell again, for free. The typical tactic is to cast the spell, and encode it on a creature you know your opponent can’t block, and then get the spell once more.
Dimir features a number of creatures that are difficult to block, and I had enough in my pool to make things work. The three rounds I played resulted in two wins for me. My loss was against a Simic deck piloted by someone who was simply a better player than me. I can’t begrudge the loss, since I would typically draw the cards I wanted but still be unable to stop his own deck from killing me. I enjoyed all three rounds, and it’s true that you tend to learn more from your defeats than from your victories. Losing the first round gave me a good idea of what my deck could and couldn’t cope with.
I had fun at the pre-release, and well done to Wizards for putting so much thought into how to theme the event around this set in particular, you did a fantastic job!