Last weekend was the fabulous PAX Prime in Seattle, where tens of thousands of gamers converged on the Washington State Convention Center to enjoy panels, previews, costumes, and more. This was my first PAX, so naturally I was more than a little nervous about the throngs of people that would descend on the convention center, but I had an interview with Wizards of the Coast, which I wouldn't dream of passing up. WotC was showing off the upcoming expansion for Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 in the Magic booth, with the D&D booth just next door. Now I haven't been an active D&D player for years, but when presented with the opportunity to talk to the people responsible for the games we love, I would be remiss to pass it up. The weekend had a kicker, too. The Return to Ravnica Party was taking place on Saturday night, and I was invited!
Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013
In talking to WotC about the new Duels expansion, I was pretty pleased to have anticipated the answers to most of my questions well in advance of the actual interview. There was still no release date set, as I had expected, but we should be looking at a Fall release all the same. That's just around the corner and I'm pretty excited to get my hands on some new multicolor goodness. They also revealed that the decks would be based on the Return to Ravnica guilds, meaning five new decks to play with and unlock. Naturally, some of you probably already know this, as the decklists have been floating around the internet for some time, since they were included in the Duels 2013 code on Steam which some curious gamers discovered.
One of my major issues with Duels 2013 was the fact that they introduced the new 'manual mana tapping' option, but only included a single multicolor deck to actually utilize the feature, and I wasn't entirely sold on the deck, so I didn't get to take full advantage of the new mechanic. With the expansion, every new deck is multicolored, so we'll have plenty of opportunity to play around with the new feature. During my talk with Wizards, I got to sit down and play a match with the Izzet (Blue/Red) deck, which was tons of fun, even though I almost got demolished. I was down to 8 life before I even got to swing, but with two Wee Dragonauts in play, I managed to take over the game. My favorite play of the game was casting Time Warp, swinging in with two pumped Dragonauts, then following up with a burn spell the next turn for the kill.
The Return to Ravnica Party
While PAX may have had gamers from all over gathering at the convention center for the weekend, Showbox was the place to be on Saturday evening for anyone and everyone into Magic. With giant-sized preview cards strewn about the club, music blasting, and all stripes of Magic players dancing to their heart's content, the entire evening was an absolute blast. On first entering the party, I was greeted by the latest iteration of Jace. I stopped to read, but was soon forced to move along by the pressure of the crowd. I kept catching glimpses of the card reveals in passing, but only got a good look at a few of them on my first run through. I committed to going back through the venue for a second pass, and a better look at each card once the party was underway, and the equilibrium allowed one to stand still for more than a moment.
I was super-excited to run into the Loading Ready Run crew early on at the party. I'm a long-time fan of their humor, and became even more so when they started introducing Magic into their sketches. Though they had to leave early for a panel, I had a great time chatting with them for a bit, and was pretty pleased to learn that most of them were familiar with Hexproof. One of the crew pointed out a guy sitting on a throne at the front of the hall. It was hard to identify him from the back section where we stood, but sure enough, it was none other than Magic Pro, Brian Kibler. I didn't get a chance to talk to him myself, but it was pretty awesome to see him mingling with the crowds, when he could have been safely tucked away in the VIP lounge.
Celebrities are all fine and good, but we came here for Magic, so let's get back to it! Most importantly, they finally confirmed that they are reprinting 'shock lands,' which are a cycle of dual lands which come in tapped unless you pay 2 life. They're special, compared to current dual lands like Isolated Chapel and Darkslick Shores in that they actually have basic land types, like Forest, Mountain, etc. This is important because certain cards let you fetch lands based on these sub-types, and currently we can only get basic lands with them. For example, Farseek lets you search for any card with the types listed, so we can grab an Overgrown Tomb with it. Liliana of the Dark Realms is another great example, where instead of just grabbing basic Swamps, she can actually act as a color-fixer now. It's pretty exciting stuff!
The spell that most caught my eye was Rakdos's Return. It's like Blightning for X, which seems kind of amazing. We'll likely need to find some way to ramp into it to get the most value, but if we can cast it for X=3 on turn 4, we should be able to get some serious value out of the card. Even in the worst case, it is always an X damage burn spell. There were a number of other cards revealed at the party, but it was the Rakdos (Red/Black) spells that really hit home for me. Another great spell that caught my attention was Dreadbore, which is unconditional creature and planeswalker removal for only two mana.
With spoiler season upon us, what is your favorite reveal so far? Is it the new Niv-Mizzet, the previously-spoiled Jarad, or something more common that you see a lot of use for, like Dryad Militant? Let us know in the forums! We'll pick back up next week with some additional spoilers and a look at some of the guild mechanics.