Viz Media Announces the Release of The Art of Magic: The Gathering – Kaladesh

Viz Media Announces the Release of The Art of Magic: The Gathering – Kaladesh

Viz Media Announces the Release of The Art of Magic: The Gathering – Kaladesh

Press Release
San Francisco, CA, December 13, 2016 –

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), a premier company in the fields of publishing, animation distribution, and global entertainment licensing, tantalizes fantasy art fans and players of Wizards of the Coast’s popular strategy card game with the January 3rd release of the third volume in VIZ Media’s series of hardcover books presenting the incredible illustrations of Magic: The Gathering.

THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING – KALADESH is a 240-page hardcover volume that features dozens of full-color works by more than 95 artists, including Adam Paquette, who also illustrated the cover, Cliff Childs, Winona Wilson and Christine Choi. The breathtaking illustrations are complemented with in-depth lore by bestselling author and Magic: The Gathering Senior Game Designer James Wyatt. THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING – KALADESH will carry a print MSRP of $29.99 U.S. / $50.00 CAN.

Optimism, innovation, and the spirit of creativity fill these pages, lavishly illustrated with the award-winning art of Magic: The Gathering! Welcome to Kaladesh – a vibrant, beautiful plane where anything is possible. Join the heroic Planeswalkers of the Gatewatch as they explore the Inventors’ Fair, and let your imagination soar alongside thopters and airships crafted by the best artificers in the Multiverse. Come discover the marvels of Kaladesh – its inhabitants, its inventors, and its artifacts. They all await you at the grand Inventors’ Fair!

James Wyatt is a Senior Game Designer on the creative team for Magic: The Gathering. Over the course of more than 14 years working on the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game, he wrote five novels and contributed to dozens of game sourcebooks, including Oriental Adventures, Eberron Campaign Setting, and three different Dungeon Master’s Guides. He is also the author of THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING: ZENDIKAR and THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING: INNISTRAD.

“This extraordinary series of books depicting the exotic worlds of Magic: The Gathering has been lauded by Magic players, art fans and pop culture writers alike and we invite them to explore this impressive new volume that opens 2017,” says Beth Kawasaki, Senior Editorial Director, VIZ Media.

Throughout its 23-year history, Magic: The Gathering has visited many richly imaginative worlds through card sets and stories. Developed by Wizards of the Coast, Magic: The Gathering has more than 20 million fans, is played in more than 70 countries, and is available in 11 languages. Magic: The Gathering has won numerous notable awards, including a Mensa Award and multiple Origins Awards, the Hobby Game industry’s annual top award.

THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING – KALADESH joins THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING: INNISTRAD and THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING: ZENDIKAR, available now from VIZ Media. Each contains specially curated collections of illustrations from Wizards of the Coast’s popular strategy card game, Magic: The Gathering.

For additional information on THE ART OF MAGIC: THE GATHERING® titles published by VIZ Media, please visit www.VIZ.com.

Build a Custom Gaming Table

Build a Custom Gaming Table

Build a Custom Gaming Table

iGeekOut

Whether you are playing a roleplaying game such as Dungeons & Dragons, or you are looking to create a battlefield for your next Warhammer 40,000 skirmish, you are going to need some space to lay everything out. This is typically where a gaming table comes into play. Now, while most gamers will use either a kitchen table or perhaps a folding table, why settle for the ordinary when you can create a table that is customized to your personalized tastes and needs? Here are some simple steps that you can follow to create a customized gaming table of your own.

Pick a theme

One of the first things that you will need to decide on is the type of gaming table you want. The easiest way to do this is to consider what type of games you typically play. For example, if you are playing Call of Cthulhu you will not need the same kind of table that you use for Magic: The Gathering. It is all about what you are wanting to play the most. Once you have this firmly in mind, you will then have the overall “theme” that you may want to go for. One of the best gaming tables that I ever saw was designed with Dungeon’s & Dragon’s in mind, and looked like it came straight from a tavern on some fantasy world. Now that you have the overall theme and game in mind, you can begin planning the overall dimensions.

Choose your dimensions

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you are looking to create a table for playing your Warhammer campaigns and skirmishes. In that case, you will probably need a minimum surface area of at least 6’x4’, though you will probably want to create one even larger (say 8’x6’) so that you have plenty of room. Now that you have the surface area determined, you can figure out the height. A standard table is roughly 29 inches tall, so you will want to make your table a bit taller so you can both sit at the table and stand over it comfortably. I would recommend that you have the top of your table be a minimum of 34 inches tall, with an “under-base” (the thick part of the table) being about four to six inches tall. This base will allow you to create a hollow area that you can use to store your gaming materials (i.e., books, dice, miniatures, terrain features, etc.) in without cluttering the rest of your room.

Customize the interior

If you are going to create a storage area within the table that you can use to put your materials away, you will then want to decide what type of table top you want. Some tables have a hinged top which allows you to easily lift the top up and retrieve the materials within. Others you can lift up, completely exposing the interior of the table. This is also a viable option since you could make the interior of the table the playing area. When you are done for the night, you can then simply place the top back onto the table, hiding the playing field from sight. I particularly like this method since you can easily leave the field in the exact same position that you want it for the next gaming session. Another option that you have is to actually have the “interior” side of your table top covered in a white board material and grid lines so that you have a ready-made playing surface by flipping the top over.

Customize the exterior

Remember back to when I mentioned you needed to think about a “theme” for your table? This is another part of the project where that is really going to come into play. For example, if you are interested in playing a Star Trek role playing game, you may want to make your table look like it would fit in with the rest of the décor of Quark’s bar on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, or perhaps a bridge or science station from Star Trek. This may seem a little difficult, but it all depends on the materials that you utilize, and how much time and effort you take in putting everything together.

Keep in mind that you have been provided some guidelines on how to build a custom gaming table. These are not step by step directions on how to make the table from the ground up. The reason for this is that such tables are going to be as unique as the person making it. As, was said earlier a table that has been made for TCGs may not be the best for roleplaying games, or table top games. Just use these guidelines to help ensure that you make your new table will truly enhance your future gaming sessions. Browse through the gallery of pictures to see some of the more fantastic looking custom gaming tables that we found online to get some inspiration as to what you can do with your own project.

Hearthstone: Whispers of the Old Gods

Hearthstone: Whispers of the Old Gods

Hearthstone: Whispers of the Old Gods

 Trace Jenkins

Hearthstone has finally released it’s much awaited third card expansion ‘Whispers of the Old Gods’. These new cards, as well as the changes from the patch that accompanied it, have swung some dramatic changes to the new Meta. I will be going over the major aspects that have been most apparent since its release on Tuesday the 26th. These topics will include, the Wild and Standard formats, the rotation of staple cards, predictions on how Aggro and Control decks will change, and some short class overviews.

First let us start with the new formats that have been introduced. Hearthstone will now be running on a rotating card pool based on the year the card expansions were released, if the cards were not released either the same year or the previous year it will not be playable in Standard but will still be usable in Wild. This first year is being known as the ‘Year of the Kraken’ and allows use of both the Whispers of the Old Gods and Grand Tournament card expansions as well as the cards from the Blackrock Mountain and League of Explorers adventure modes. Meaning all cards from Goblins vs Gnomes and the Naxrammas blocks are no longer usable in Standard (and by proxy, ranked play), which has huge implications on how the Meta will shape.

This rotation has been a much needed change for those who have played for a long time as the same decks have dominating now for almost two years which can be extremely frustrating, especially when many of the decks were not even that fun to play. Some major staple cards have moved on now, leaving spots in many decks where they were absolutely mandatory such as Piloted Shredder and Sludge Belcher in terms of neutral cards as well as major class staples like Muster for Battle for Paladin, Implosion for Warlock, and Death’s Bite for Warrior. Since these changes are so new there doesn’t appear to be any new auto includes to replace these former staples just yet.

Though there aren’t any new staple cards yet it is clear there are some staple decks (these decks are still fairly unrefined and will most likely be changing to adapt in the coming days and weeks). Most of these have been modified versions of the base deck ideas that Hearthstone gives you during deck creation such as N’zoth Rogue (which I have modified and have climbed from rank 22 to rank 5 at this point), Aggro Shaman, C’thun Druid, and Aggro Warlock.  All of these show great promise to become the major decks and all have been fun that I have tried. I do hope the introduction of these new cards really spurs the Meta towards a Mid-Range and Control based game rather than the aggressive/combo centered that has still left a bad taste in my mouth. Many of the new tools do encourage this control playstyle but several cards such as Darkshire Councilman and Evolve worry me for there may be a big Aggro comeback.

Lastly, I will be going over some of the major class specific cards that I foresee causing big changes it their playstyle and rankings (both in Standard and in Arena).

Mage:

Mages got some great cards in this expansion that imply a bit more control tools as well as some mid-range tools. The first major mention would have to be Cabalist’s Tome (Effect: Add 3 random Mage spells to your hand) this card was a huge headache to play against due to the high efficiency and quality of most mage spells which can allow them to reach for a last bit of damage, clear your board with a clutch AOE, or possibly get an Ice Block to prevent your lethal blow to them next turn. Though this card is an epic I see it being an instant pick in Arena when available due to the sheer value it can give. The other card I see having the most potential will be Demented Frostcaller (Effect: Whenever you play a spell Freeze a random enemy) this will only freeze characters that have not already been frozen which further increases its value. The reason I see a big potential for this is it is an amazing control tool especially due to complimentary spells that have been introduced such as Forbidden Flame which can be cast for no mana to get a free freeze, as well as Shatter which allows you to destroy a minion that is Frozen. A cool combo with this card against weapon classes is to pay Demented Frostcaller into Frost Nova to freeze all of the enemy’s minions. Then, because Demented Frostcaller will only freeze unfrozen characters, it will always target the enemy hero.

Hunter:

Everyone’s least favorite aggro machine got some interesting additions in Whispers of the Old Gods. The first and most infuriating is Call of the Wild (Effect: Summon all 3 animal companions) this gives you the three outcomes of the Animal Companion card which include a 4/2 charging minion, a 4/4 taunt minion, and a 2/4 minion that increases the attack of all friendly minions by 1. This is an amazing ability that can build a board from scratch as well as give you the possibility to push for lethal with the board buff and the charging minions. The second card is Forlorn Stalker (Effect: Give all Deathrattle minions in your hand +1/1), Blizzard seems to be pushing Deathrattle hunter to continue to be a powerhouse even after the rotation removed most of the baseline Deathrattle cards with the removal of the Naxrammas set. However this card could be especially powerful due to two of the major Legendaries of this set affect Deathrattle minions. The hunter legendary (Effect: Trigger a friendly minion’s Deathrattle), as well as N’zoth the Corruptor which summons all friendly Deathrattle minions that have died this game.

Druid:

Druids got many cards that are high quality but aren’t as exciting as some of the aforementioned from other classes the first one is Mire Keeper (Effect: Choose One – Summon a 2/2 Slime; or Gain an empty Mana Crystal) this card has been very effective for ramp decks as well as the ever popular C’thun decks. It has a great effect that is good at any stage of the game since you have a viable option in the 2/2 slime choice if you are already at 10 mana or are not requiring ramp at that moment. I see this card being run in very high rank decks as a very strong midgame card with huge flexibility. The other card that is very interesting but may still be working on finding a solid spot in a deck is the new Druid Legendary, Fandral Staghelm (Effect: Your Choose One cards have both effects combined) I can see this being a very solid card as it allows lower mana cards to become twice as valuable when they get the buffs from both effects.

Paladin:

There isn’t much to say about Paladins this expansion except Hearthstone seems to really be pushing the idea of an aggressive Divine Shield deck which uses Steward of Darkshire (Effect: Whenever you summon a 1-Health minion, give it Divine Shield) as well as Selfless Hero (Effect: Deathrattle: Give a random friendly minion Divine Shield). These have been infuriating so far due to the usual problem with aggro decks in Hearhstone is they are easily killed with AOE spells or effective trading but since Divine Shield absorbs one fit regardless of how much damage that hit was for, it is now very very hard to clear their board especially after they use Rallying Blade to give all of said Divine Shield minions +1/1. At least they got a solid control Legendary in the form of Ragnaros the Lightlord (Effect: At the end of your turn restore 8 health to a damaged friendly character). Hopefully such an amazing card like that doesn’t become eclipsed by how promising the aggressive Paladin archetype seems to be looking.

Priest:

It wouldn’t be a proper expansion without giving Priest’s ludicrous healing potential and the ability to take all the cards from your deck. Those are in abundance in Whispers of the Old Gods with the inclusion of Darkshite Alchemist (Effect: Battlecry: Restore 5 health) as well as Shifting Shade (Effect: Deathrattle: Copy a card from your opponent’s deck and add it to your hand). With the nice control cards given in this new expansion, the idea of copying a potential board clear or late game powerhouse minion can be very powerful especially when your opponent does not know the card you got until it is played. Priests however may be lacking this time in the form of a consistent legendary as Herald Volazj (Effect: Battlecry: Summon a 1/1 copy of each of your other minions) has yet to find a good spot and is more often than not just being played as it’s normal body with maybe a single 1/1 copy that doesn’t give any real game changing effects. I really hope it can find a solid addition in a deck that really makes it shine because I still feel this has a lot of potential.

Rogue:

On the first day of Whispers of the Old Gods release I think I saw Rogues more than any other class, and it’s hard to disagree with why. They now have one of the most cost efficient removals in the game in the form of Shadow Strike (Effect: Deal 5 damage to an undamaged character) as well as an incredibly strong Legendary with Xaril Poisoned Mind (Effect: Battlecry and Deathrattle: Add a random Toxin card to your hand) These toxins have a variety of outcomes from a damage buff, to card draw, to a minion stealth effect to name just a few. These have paired beautifully with the Rogue class effect which is Combo cards, which means certain cards have a combo effect where they gain an additional effect if they aren’t the first card played that turn which becomes a very easy thing to accomplish when you use the 1 mana spells given from Xaril. I think Rogue is in a very good place right now and these Deathrattle decks for them are getting much stronger and will hopefully have a solid representation in the forming Meta.

Shaman:

Some of you may be looking specific for this specific class review as it is definitely the wildest change between expansions. Shamans, once the joke of Arena and Ranked, is now an absolute powerhouse when it comes to aggro. All of this is due to their cards with a new effect that has just been referred to as “Evolve”. This effect is present in two of their new cards the first is simply called Evolve (Effect: Transform your minion into random minions that cost (1) more), this spell costs one mana. Let me repeat that ONE MANA. That is a sickeningly good effect as it is both godlike tempo as well as a full heal on any minions that were injured before it was cast. It doesn’t stop there they also have a minion called Master of Evolution with a similar effect except it only targets a single minion instead of your entire board which literally solves the only problem with Evolve which is it is hard to gauge how many minions should be the minimum to use it on. Basically every card Shaman’s got was a welcome sight for them but is quickly becoming a nightmare for everyone else and I do hope there will be nerfs coming at least in mana cost to these incredibly good cards that are way too cheaply priced for the board swings you can get.

Warlock:

To absolutely no one’s surprise, Warlocks also got additional aggro tools that have rocketed the infamous Zoo deck back to the legend ranks next to its new Shaman counterparts. This was due to 3 cards, the first is Forbidden Ritual (Effect: Spend all your Mana. Summon that many 1/1 Tentacles), every class got a “Forbidden” card but this one is without question the most effective one of the bunch. This is due to many of the aggro tools only requiring minions to be “Summoned” rather than “Played” meaning it can be done by a spell or a Battlecry effect rather than played directly from your hand. One of these cards is Darkshire Councilman (Effect: After you summon a minion, gain +1 Attack). This is one of the 3 cards that has ushered the comeback due to how out of control it can get in the course of just a turn or two. The last is a very simple on in the form of Possessed Villager (Effect: Deathrattle: Summon a 1/1 Shadowbeast). This card seems very unimpressive but gives Zoo another consistent and hard to get rid of turn one drop especially after the nerfs to Leper Gnome.

Warrior:

Lastly we have Warriors. Warriors have eternally been in this spot where they got every card they could ever need in the classic set and now anything they get now is just either going to see no play or is going to be rotated into Control warrior until something better comes around. However the one card they did get that has already become a staple in Control warrior is Ravaging Ghoul (Effect: Deal 1 damage to all other minions), this gives them the whirlwind spell effect on a well stated minion that can be very consistent and a more forgiving deck slot to fill. That’s all they really got in terms of cards that will heavily sway ranked games so let’s talk about the amazing theme they are trying to push this expansion for warriors, Pirates! Warriors got not one but two Pirates this block as well as their legendary Malkorok (Effect: Equip a random weapon) which also synergizes with Pirates due to their focus on weapon effects. I don’t know if this will turn into an effective ranked deck but I know people are going to give it a hell of a try and I will be the first one to play it should it get off the ground.

This pack has shown that Blizzard is not slowing down with their content especially with how creative they can be with it. I am so happy with it so far and really can’t wait to play more! Overall, for Whispers of the Old Gods I would give it 8/10 with my main qualm being the additions to aggressive decks that were not needed and devalued many of the new control cards.

Side decking in Yu-Gi-Oh!, What You Need to Know

Side decking in Yu-Gi-Oh!, What You Need to Know

Side decking in Yu-Gi-Oh!,What You Need to Know

Brian Peterson

One of the most common mistakes I find newer players make (and seasoned players for that matter) is improper side decking. Making sure you have a good first game matchup is important and most of your tooling should be to get an edge over your opponent. The side deck is your greatest ally in helping you win games two and three. Let’s dive in and talk about what you can do to improve your side deck game and increase your win percentage.

For those that are newer to competitive play let’s take it from the top. Your side deck is an extra 15 cards that can be added to your deck between games one and two, and games two and three. Your side deck has to have the same number of cards in it when you finish side decking that it had when you started, meaning that if you put five cards in from your side deck you have to take five cards out of your deck. You are allowed to side cards for your extra deck as well but keep in mind your main deck still needs to have a minimum of 40 cards in it at all times so you can’t side in an extra deck card without taking one out of your extra deck.

To be an effective player when it comes to side decking you have to know the meta for the event you are planning on participating in, this applies from everything from locals to a YCS. Over the years I have found that I personally have struggled the most side decking when I am unfamiliar with the decks in the format I am playing in. Take time to learn what is being played and what the weakness is, if you are playing against Kozmo you should know that Imperial Iron Wall is effective and why it is effective or why Mask of Restrict is great in the Monarch matchup. Taking time to do your homework will save you headaches during an intense game and will win you matches.

When the time comes to create your side deck I am sure some of you are as lost as I was at my junior prom. The thing to remember when it comes to your side deck is you need to include cards that help make your match-ups stronger. If a card doesn’t make a match-up stronger it’s not worth side decking. I am aware that people (myself included) will sometimes put tech cards in their side, but for the purpose of this article which is to help you become better overall at siding we will save that topic for another time. Things to consider when determining if a card will help in a match-up here are a few simple questions to ask yourself:

 

  • Do I have Spell and Trap removal?
  • What is my worst match-up?
  • What is my best match-up?
  • What would be effective in multiple match-ups?

I know this part of the process is at times frustrating because you may have trouble knowing what is a good choice. I can promise you this will get easier with time and practice. Something to keep in the front of your mind when it comes to siding against a deck is to determine if there is a floodgate that works well against it but doesn’t hinder you much or at all. An example of this would be siding Mask of Restrict if I was playing Kozmo or playing Fog King if I was playing Monarch. Stay away from cards that only make a matchup better in a VERY specific situation. An example would be to side three copies of Barrel behind the Door to stop your Opponent’s Ring of Destruction (which is restricted to one, and in 90% of situations will not kill you)

Probable even harder to do that picking the cards for your side is knowing what to take out of your main deck to put in perfect side card in. This is by far the hardest thing to learn how to do when it comes to siding, you can always netdeck what to side, but knowing what to take out is where you show how experienced you are. Do not sacrifice consistency for a side deck choice. While it may seem like an easy choice to take out your draw cards to put your sides in this is a mistake I have seen players make for over 10 years. Now I know your probable raging at your monitor saying, “Well how do I keep consistency and fit everything in that I want to side?” Try to keep the number of cards you side between three to seven. If you are like most players and playing a 40 card deck siding in 10 cards is 25% of your total deck and that will almost always be a self-defeating choice. If you keep the number to around 4 you are only changing 10% of your deck.

Take a second to look at your deck and think of you played any card or held any card that just was ineffective so far. Please don’t just say “Well I played my bomb and they played Solemn Warning so it was worthless,” that isn’t what I am referring to. A truly ineffective card is a dead card, something you just hold for eternity. These should be the first cards you side out. If you still have a couple cards to side in you can start looking at your triple of cards, there may be one or two of those you could cut down to two copies and fit the rest of your side choices in.

A concept that took me a long time to grasp was that specific cards are better when you go first and some are better if you are going second. A painful example is with Anti-Spell Fragrance, against a pendulum heave deck this can be a blowout because you can’t play a scale facedown. If you are going first and you can play Anti-Spell you had a real advantage. Flipping the situation and your opponent goes first and sets up their scales and you were holding the Anti-Spell the whole time, well words can’t really describe the rage that most of us would feel. This is where a choice of Twin Twister may have been a much better call because we were going second. Take time to look over your side deck and determine if a card is a going first pick or going second pick.

The last thing I want to mention is that you have to test with your side. If you are not gonna side during a specific testing session that’s fine, you need to know how your game one match-up is. Make sure you set at least half your testing sessions to be full side sessions and you can also play with the 40-minute time limit if you are concerned you will not finish your match within time. Remember you only will have two to three minutes to side between games so knowing what to side beforehand will help take some of the stress off the siding process.

I promise that if you can make your side decking game strong you will win more consistently and often. The key is knowing your meta and practice, practice, practice. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comment section below. Now get out there and get your duel on.

Why Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning is Good in Monarch

Why Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning is Good in Monarch

Why Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning is Good in Monarch

 Brian Peterson

Back before most of the current player base first touched a Yu-Gi-Oh! deck and said it’s time to duel there was Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning. Since this card came out in Invasion of Chaos (IOC), Black Luster has been one of the strongest and most game-changing cards in Yu-Gi-Oh! For players that played in the IOC times you will remember how clutch Black Luster was.

In the current meta, this card is often overlooked by players, which is frankly a mistake. With the new ban list, Monarch loses two of its upstart goblins. This was played in Monarchs for consistency and to help with the first turn brick hands. However, with the loss of consistency and some monarch players not wanting to switch to running Allure of Darkness (AOD), I feel that this is the perfect time to dust off your Black Luster Soldier and main him.

Now, I know most are screaming that you can’t search for him so he isn’t adding to the consistency and therefore shouldn’t be placed in the deck. Please…hear me out for before you start chase me out of town with pitchforks. He isn’t meant to add standard consistency to the deck, rather he is meant to add both burst and special summons to a deck that can really struggle when it has its normal summons shut down.

It is in the mirror match that Black Luster really shines. With him in your deck, you can get that added little extra push in the mirror that is sometimes needed. With the double attack you are able to get over your opponents Prime Monarch, or remove their monarch to break down their engine. It is good to know that if they have a Majesty Fiend in play you can still your Black Luster.

Against Atlantean decks, Black Luster makes Off Turn Kill (OTK) plays an option. He also is great for helping clear them off the board and establish board control. His ability to remove a monster is particularly good in this matchup as well. Black Luster offers a deep level of utility in the Burning Abyss Matchup as well, where removing monsters is much better that sending them to the graveyard.

Love him or hate him, you just have to respect Black Luster Soldier and what he represents to the game of Yu-Gi-Oh! I hope you will at least test him in your next deck, and see how he can bring utility to a deck that already has a deep toolbox.

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