Let's Play MTG: The Phalanx Edition!
Saw 300. I thought it was excellent, but I love history tons, so I'm biased. But what better follow-up than warfare between wizards!
...yeah, ok, that transition made no sense to me either.
Anyway, where we last left off, I decided to move into the larger world in search of the Sword of Resistance and some loots. The Sword of Resistance is one of the magic items you can buy at one of the cities. It lets you burn a white amulet to go to a city under siege. Sieges don't last very long, so it is basically the only realistic way to intervene in a siege, and is thus one of the most important magic items you can get.
Since town north of me was under siege, I figured I might as well go in that direction.
Remember how I said you didn't have long to respond? Case in point. I think modern systems might speed this up some, I don't remember it being this bad before, but whatever. The wizards need a total of three conqured cities to cast the Spell of Dominion and win the game (killing you.) There's a magic item you can buy that takes it to five. Two wizards have one each, so I'm not in too much danger now. (I can fight to free them, but the fights are sometimes quite hard.)
I decide to wander north anyway, and run into this guy.
I'm conflicted about Mind Stealers. On the one hand, their decks have good cards so the ante is often quite saucy, and if you beat them they sometimes let you dupe any card in your collection, which is about the best thing ever. On the other hand, they have a reasonable chance of having a Mind Control special event when you face them, which means they play with your deck and get your starting hand (though their draws differ.) This can be really irksome in the early game, since draws can make the game easily. Later on, especially with blue, it is not such a big deal, since you likely have a deck that you can play better than the AI can.
Regardless, this guy put up his Hypnotic Specter (broken!) vs my Sea Serpent (on the short list of "getting cut soon") so the risk was very much worth it. I decided to face him and got lucky -- no mind control.
I get a free Llanowar Elf due to beating some random elf lord that was such a pushover it wasn't worth reporting on. I only get him for this one battle, but since Hippe is on the line, it seems a good time for it. He should get me into my expensive bombs faster. Llanowar Elf is only a 1/1, but like a land he can tap to give a green mana, so I can use him for the colorless parts of my big guys, which is handy.
This looks like a good hand, but the Mind Stealer's deck is annoying, with things like control magic (an enchant creature that lets him take control of one of my guys) and other annoying spells, so I need to be on my toes.
I draw into Water Elemental to fill in the curve of reasonably powered guys, and he's facing down a large army.
As expected when he hits 4 mana, he takes my dragon! How dare he!
My deck agrees this is unacceptable and serves up a Boomerang. Shivan returns to his master long enough to get out of the way of the Elemental and Ghost Ship, which pummel the opponent thoroughly. Llanowar gets a kick in for the heck of it. I could have served in with all the guys, let the Elemental and Dragon trade, and finished him with the direct damage from Triskelion, but I decided to leave no man behind.
Well now. Three of these four cards are absurdly good, and the fourth (Sewers of Estark) is a promo card available only with Arena, the first ever Magic novel. Because of its rarity, the computer vendors pay around 1k gold for it even though it isn't very good and has way too much text. No accounting for taste, but those drops rule. Counterspell is a key card for the blue deck. It can stop any other card in the game (except for lands and a few oddballs), but only just as the card is being played -- it is useless against creatures, artifacts or the like that are already on the table. Nonetheless, at only UU (two blue mana) to stop any spell in the game, it is extremely good. As someone noted in the thread, it is so good that modern versions of this card cost an extra mana, and are still quite playable.
And to top it off, I get a duplicate card. Since I have a Mox in my deck, and nothing else I own is all that rare, this one is easy, and my Wizardess gets her second pearl necklace.
His friend shows up trying to take revenge. This time my ante is "second-string in the Special Olympics" Ghost Ship and his is the saucy friend of decks with lame creatures, Control Magic. I can go for this one.
Oh, the poor fool. I get a rape hand. Remember Black Vise punishes the opponent for having lots of cards. Strip Mine, which I have two of in my hand, is a land that I can sacrifice to destroy one of his lands. If I drop the vise and destroy his first two lands, he'll have a really hard time getting his hand size below four before the vise finishes him off.
Unfortunately he has plenty of land and an early drop, so the Vise isn't going to do the job alone.
Luckily, combined with Mishra's Factory, it does get him low enough for Lightning Bolt to finish it.
No dupe this time, but a second counterspell and a city of brass on top of the Control Magic! Ashes to Ashes is a potentially good spell too, if the life total goes up enough.
I also run into some ruins on the way. Some are better than others.
I refuse offer 1, but the Gargoyle immediately makes the deck, which now looks like this:
You can see I have been buying good cards as they come up, so I've ended up with some CoPs, a Dark Ritual, and the like.
This deck makes short work of random enemies that don't spam pump spells. This is most of them.
I get annoyed with the towns in my old area, and tell the helm to give me warp 9. The random jump burns a blue amulet (it pretty much always does at this difficulty) and lands me at a new exciting place!
At the lower right you can see the white castle. I would go in there to face the white wizard and defeat her once and for all, but I'm not ready for that yet. Instead I race towards the besieged town (which you can see mentioned on the scroll to the lower right.) I don't get there in time, but I decide to see what the resistance looks like.
This isn't bad at all. City defenders get "free" cards that start in play, and you aren't warned in advance what they'll get, but Mesa Pegasus is not something that scares me much.
Her deck sucks, and a free 1/1 isn't enough to make it not so. I kick her about in this deck's normal fashion. I'll try to get a video of me playing a match when it gets more interesting, but right now the play basically means "bolt the creatures, beat with the dragons."
The city is freed for all the creepy-looking people of Shandalar!
As a quest reward, I get "any blue card."
In retrospect Psionic Blast probably wasn't the best choice, Braingeyser might have served me better. (You can't take real power cards with the rewards, or else I'd have gone Ancestral all the way.)
I also managed to get my hands on a couple more Disintigrates.
At this point, I think I'm ready for a dungeon, so I'm going to go seek one out. I'll try to get a video of it, but I dunno how the video capture works, and it certainly won't have sound, so don't get the hopes too high.
We've now reached a fork in the road. I can start picking up black cards and lands before we get too deep into u/r if you all fancy the path of corruption, or I can keep going red, focusing on power over the flow of magic (counterspell and card draw) combined with savage burning fury (mana flare and damage spells.) What say you? (Note that I'm in no way going to get locked in to a lategame build here, and I'll keep collecting and hording good cards of all colors.)