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Every year Wizards of the Coast release a Core set, which is a more basic level set for newer players to get into the game, while keeping veteran players up to date with fundamental skills. The big summer release coincides with the Duels of the Planeswalkers game (which we will be reviewing soon), and is accompanied by the usual array of Intro Decks and Fat Packs. Every Core set also brings with it the release of a Deck Builder’s Toolkit.
The Deck Builder’s Toolkit comes with everything needed to learn how to build a good deck, including 100 basic land cards, 125 common and uncommon cards and 4 booster packs from sets currently legal in the Standard format. The combination of these resources allows players to build a variety of different decks, from casting big creatures and smashing face, to countering the opponent’s spells and damaging them with cheap burn spells.
The Deck Builder’s Toolkit comes with a guide containing the various different deck archetypes available to players within the pack. The Deck Builder’s Toolkit sets out the six basic steps for players when building a deck and advice on how to make it competitive, by tweaking and playtesting it. The guide also has a list of useful deckbuilding terms, so players can understand common phrases when they go to tournaments or discuss their deck with their friends.
The Deck Builder’s Toolkit is a product squarely aimed at beginners and those who have been newly introduced to Magic. The cards contained within the pack are excellent for beginners for both deck construction and strategy learning purposes. The Deck Builder’s Toolkit also combines well with the Intro Packs as a great way to get into Magic. For more accomplished players, or those looking to get into the competitive scene with a pre-built deck as opposed to building their own, the Clash Pack is worth a look, as it contains numerous higher power level cards combined to make two focussed decks.
The Intro Packs, as mentioned above, combine excellently with the Deck Builder’s Toolkit as a way for players to get introduced to the game. While the toolkit is an excellent tool for building decks, the Intro Packs provide readymade decks for players to battle with. As with the release of every set, Wizards have released 5 Intro Packs, one for each colour.
We were able to get hold of the Blue deck (Hit the Ground Running) and the Red deck (Dragon’s Hoard). The two decks each contain plenty of useful cards for the new player. While there are spells generally restricted to casual or Limited format tournaments, there are plenty of cards that will no doubt see play over the next year or so in Standard Tournaments, such as Shrapnel Blast, Reclamation Sage and Restock as well as cards that were previously a little expensive for their rarity and used in Modern, such as Ornithopter and Darksteel Citadel.
Hit the Ground Running features numerous creatures that have an immediate effect when they enter the battlefield, from destroying artifacts or enchantments, to drawing cards. These creatures can be used in combination with cards that return them to your hand to get value by playing them again, such as Roaring Primadox and Peel from Reality. The deck’s promo foil, Mercurial Pretender combines both of these effects by entering as a copy of a creature with the added ability to return to your hand by paying 4 mana.
The deck is able to use these recurring abilities to generate advantage over a longer game, where it can eventually kill the opponent with fliers such as Illusionary Angel or the powerful Stormtide Leviathan, which will likely render the enemy’s creatures unable to attack or block.
Dragon’s Hoard meanwhile uses the blue and red cards in the set which reward the use of artifacts. The deck contains numerous cheap artifacts, such as Ornithopter and Bronze Sable in combination with Ensoul Artifact (to turn your artifacts into 5/5 beaters) and Shrapnel Blast (to throw the artifact at your opponent or their creatures for 5 damage). The other cards in the deck are great at combining with the existing artifacts or finding more. The deck’s promo rare (Hoarding Dragon) helps the primary strategy by being a powerful threat that if killed, allows you to get an artifact of your choosing. This creates a dilemma for the opponent – be killed by the dragon, or the artifact he hoards!
The two decks are well balanced, going 3-2 in favour of Dragon’s Hoard in a best of five series we had in the office. Intro Packs come with two booster packs included, so opening any relevant coloured cards will allow players to immediately strengthen their deck. Players lucky enough to open the mythic Planeswalker cards will find their win rate increase greatly, as Planeswalker cards are able to generate significant advantage which increases exponentially the longer they survive in play.
With the release of each new set, Wizards of the Coast have been releasing an Event Deck. Event Decks, released the day before the Game Day for each set, contain a 60 card deck and 15 card sideboard built with the aim of getting players ready for tournament play. The decks tend to be more synergistic and powerful than Intro decks, and contain more ‘4 ofs’ (4 being the maximum of a card allowed per deck) to increase consistency. In comparison to an Intro Deck’s two rares, Event Decks contain 10 – further cementing the increased power level.
With the announcement of Magic 2015, came the introduction of a new product: the Clash Pack. Clash Packs are not replacing Event Decks; instead, Clash Packs will alternate with the Event Deck, meaning that you’ll see a Clash Pack for Magic 2015, and an Event Deck for Khans of Tarkir, the Autumn Set. The Clash Pack will then return in the February 2015 set.
A two-player product, the Clash Pack contains two sixty-card decks designed to be played against each other. It’s a great way to introduce new players to Magic while containing cards allowing inspiring competitive players to compete effectively against top decks. Clash Packs differ from Event Decks by containing six premium foil cards with alternative art. Notably, the foil Prophet of Kruphix and Temple of Mystery look absolutely stunning and are amongst the best foil I’ve artwork seen since From the Vault 20’s Cruel Ultimatum.
The Clash Pack comes with instructions that show players how to combine cards from each of its decks to create a new deck designed to be equal in power to what you would expect from an Event Deck. But this is only one combination. There are countless ways to make a deck your own.
In addition to the foils, there is excellent value in the Clash Pack, with plenty of tournament staples, such as Courser of Kruphix (which dominated the last Pro Tour), Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and Prognostic Sphinx.
Both decks compete with one another on an equal power level, but in very different ways. The blue/green deck looks to use fliers and instant speed creatures and draw spells to gain a tempo advantage over the opponent. Meanwhile the green/red deck seeks to ramp out large threats and overwhelm the enemy with sheer power. It is testament to the design team that two very different decks can combine with each other to make a deck on a similar power level to an Event Deck.
If this Clash Pack is any indication to the quality of future Clash Packs, Event Decks have some serious competition on their hands! The combination of quality foils, powerful cards and a product that can be enjoyed by one or two players is a great piece of design by the Wizards team and results in a product that can be enjoyed by all players, no matter how competitive.
Sony are offering customers a $10 refund for those ‘stung’ by the pre-order price drop.
Price cuts are, in general, a great thing for gamers. But Sony recently lowered the pre-order price on The Last of Us Remastered on PS4 by $10. This led to people who had already pre-ordered at the original price of $59.99 being upset, as simply waiting would have saved them $10.
Even worse, the description page said “customers may not cancel a pre-order at any time and refunds are not available.” Fortunately, Sony’s Vice President of Publisher and Developer Relations, Adam Boyes, has stated on Twitter that a $10 refund for those affected would be coming in the next week.
Avoiding a PR disaster (of their own making) and keeping customers happy. Nice work Sony!
Larian Studios announced today that the editor for Divinity: Original Sin, will be available as part of the Early Access beta on June 26th.
Not only is the Divinity: Original Sin editor the first multiplayer game editor since Neverwinter Nights, it comes with a sample module called Cow Simulator 2014.
Cow Simulator 2014 is perhaps the finest cow simulation ever released. It serves as an example mod for would-be creators and permits users to play as a cow (even in co-op with up to 4 players) and complete a quest or fight in the arena.
The Divinity Engine Toolkit allows players to:
• Make new adventures that you can play in singleplayer or multiplayer
• You can modify the main campaign or create your own
• Manipulate terrain and edit existing models and textures
• Write your own stories and dialogs
• Create behaviors and scripts with easy-to-use scripting language
• Alter existing or add new skills, stats and spells
• 1-click export to Steam Workshop
• Add and manage your mods via Steam Workshop or inside the game
Modders looking for lessons need only tune into Twitch today starting at 18:00 CET where Larian artists will be using the editor to mod Cow Simulator 2014 into an epic mod worthy of the cow simulation crown.
For more information on Divinity Original Sin, visit www.divinityoriginalsin.com/.
FIFA 15 will be the first game in the series since 2000 that won’t be released on PS2.
Eurogamer reports that FIFA 15 will be released on PS4, Xbox One, PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Vita, 3DS and Wii some time later this year (almost definitely September).
As with last year, despite being released on Wii it appears no FIFA game will be released on the Wii U. The PS4, Xbox One and PC versions of the game meanwhile, will be receiving EA’s full raft of updates and functionality tweaks – with the PC game being based on the Ignite engine for the first time – whereas other platforms are getting what EA describes as “a version of FIFA 15”.
In addition, the box art for the 3DS, Vita and Wii versions of the game carries a “Legacy Edition” label. Though it has not been detailed what this will entail, it presumably means extra squads and kits.
The team behind Quantum Rush Online had recently announced that they would soon be launching a Kickstarter campaign for “Quantum Rush: Champions” – and today they made good on that promise. Also since today, you can support the team’s new project by voting for the game on Steam Greenlight.
The idea for “Quantum Rush: Champions” came from the Quantum Rush Online community. After having received many requests for an offline version of the original game, the developers reached out to their community, asking everyone for their opinion.
Eventually, they decided to take up the community’s idea and started to make plans for a new project. This marks the beginning of the development of “Quantum Rush: Champions”.
The primary difference between the original online game and “Quantum Rush: Champions” will be the latter’s extensive single-player content. The new Career mode will come with 3 independent campaigns, each featuring a variety of exciting challenges. Mastering those challenges will unlock upgrades for your racers, boss challenges and more powerful racers for higher tiers.
Because the focus of this new game will be on the single-player experience, the development team is also looking to further improve the artificial intelligence of the AI pilots.
According to the team, one thing is going to remain the same though. As with the online racer, they want to stay in close contact with their community throughout the game’s development process. So make sure to send them your feedback!
Here are links to their Kickstarter and Greenlight.
Crystal Dynamics, developer of Tomb Raider, will be debuting a new game at E3 next week.
The information, which appears in the GameTrailers’ schedule of events states that Crystal Dynamics will appear on TV channel Spike to announce their new game at 11am-noon PST (7pm-8pm UK time).
Crystal Dynamics revealed it was working on at least two separate titles as of August 2013, one of which is a sequel to Tomb Raider intended for new-gen systems. The studio has kept quiet about what the other project might be.
Crystal Dynamics executive producer Scott Amos said in June 2012 that it was starting “with a blank page” in creating its next project.
Crystal Dynamics’ Legacy of Kain series has been revived in the form of War for Nosgoth, a free-to-play assymetrical shooter developed by Psyonix.
Last weekend was Grand Prix Manchester, the only Magic: The Gathering Grand Prix in the UK this year. You will recall a few weeks ago, I wrote how GPs are fun for everyone and that I would be there.
Despite losing my win-and-in for day 2, I had a great time in the Main Event and participating in side events over the whole weekend. The saying goes “A picture is worth a thousand words”, so here’s a 9000 word essay:
(Click on an image to view it and its caption and use the arrows to browse the album)
Whilst I happily concede that I’m better at many things than photography, hopefully my small album shows the sheer scale of Grand Prix events. It is also worth noting that Block Constructed is not Magic’s most popular format, and had it been a Standard, Modern or Limited event, the attendance would have been even higher. However, the Tournament Organiser and Wizards staff did an excellent job choosing the venue and it would have comfortably held more people.
To find out when the Grand Prix circuit is next visiting your country, click here.
Swarms of the undead will be taking over Steam Early Access in what is possibly the greatest number of zombies ever seen in a game.
Indie developer Loren Lemcke has teamed up with UK independent publisher Mastertronic to bring Over 9000 Zombies! to Steam Early Access this July.
Over 9000 Zombies! is a retro-style, top-down zombie shoot ‘em up. The zombie apocalypse has arrived and you must annihilate them to survive. Tons of AI enemies powered by Zombie Swarm Intelligence launch themselves in marauding hordes of fiendish pests for insane zombie killing action! Choose from a massive array of weapons, build a fortified base with automated turrets, and blast the relentless rogues to cling on to life as long as possible. The crisp clockwork breakbeats conceived by Clearside Music create a cavalcade of sound that punctuates your murderous missions with its increasingly intense dynamic. Call for reinforcements with cooperative multiplayer that lets friends join your fight against the multitudes of zombies!
Loren Lemcke, developer, commented: “The greatest plague of our society is not hordes of zombies, but those who kill zombies thinking it is justified because there is no humanity left in their souls. I contend we humans are not that different from our zombie brethren. Do we not also hunger for the unobtainable? Do we not also grasp and claw at any shred of happiness of which we happen to catch scent? Are we not also inspired by the brains of great men and women? Please, my brothers and sisters, if you choose to slay zombies, hear my simple plea: do it not because of our minor differences, but rather, do it because it is fun.”
Andy Payne, CEO of Mastertronic, said: “When we first saw Over 9000 Zombies! we knew that Mastertronic should be the meat shield for this wonderful game. I am glad Loren let us be part of this apocalypse.”
Over 9000 Zombies! will be unleashing soon on Steam Early Access for Windows PC.
Independent UK developer Rebellion has given its social media followers a heads up to NOT buy its award-winning World War Two shooter, Sniper Elite V2 in the coming week.
The advice on artwork for the Sniper Elite and Rebellion Facebook pages show the series’ signature Eagle symbol with the tagline “Don’t buy V2 this week” while tweets and posts on the Sunday re-iterated the line:
“We’d advise against buying Sniper Elite V2 on Steam in the next few days, but we WOULD advise scoping out potential snipers to play with … news soon.”
On Friday Rebellion teased a ‘significant’ announcement for their award-winning Sniper Elite franchise, promising to extend the reach of the series to a new audience. They also confirmed that the news would not centre on the forthcoming Sniper Elite 3 due June 27th.
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