#324: The Legend

city sky france flag

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Reaching legend rank in Hearthstone has been a dream of mine for awhile, though I’ve never quite achieved it yet. It’s still one of those few gamer achievements that’s eluded me, like getting above gold rank in Overwatch competitive league. At least in this case, this is a fairly achievable thing that I can imagine myself getting. It just involves a lot of grinding and working towards a goal, without stopping anywhere in the middle. If I actually put some effort into it, I’m sure I could reach legend some day with the right deck. And then I’d memorialize that deck forever, if it were to happen. I’d keep the deck in my collection as a standard and then wild deck, with the title “this is what got me to legend, I will never get this rid of this ever.” Although that’s probably too long a title to have at once. I think it only allows a few words at most!

I mention getting to legend because I’m currently playing Hearthstone, and it’s something I can maybe see myself achieving this season. It’s within my reach and I can almost taste it. Unfortunately for me, there are only a select few amount of days left in the season, as each season lasts a month and you’re given until the end of the month to reach legend before your rank is reset back down a bit and your progress is mostly lost. The rank reset has been more forgiving in recent months, after they updated it so that you didn’t lose all of your progress. Now that I’ve made it to rank 7 this season, I’ll probably drop down to about 13 or so when the season resets, unless I can manage to climb up the ladder higher before that happens. We’ll have to see!

Advertisements

#186: The Infinite

couple love romantic relationship

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Infinity. Not about Infinity War, we’ll be talking about “going infinite”: a process in Magic: the Gathering and Hearthstone that involves getting enough rewards from each limited run that you are able to keep going without paying for more gems or other in-game currencies.

Allow me to explain. In a previous blog post, I discussed what “limited” runs are. Sealed, draft, and more. In Hearthstone, there’s a mode called “The Arena” which is very similar to drafting, except you don’t keep the cards you collect there and you draft from picks of 3 each time. In the arena, you can pay either 150 gold or $1.99 to enter, and every time you enter, the price stays the same. When you wrap up a run, after 3 losses or 12 wins, whichever happens first, you get rewards at the end, including gold and dust and packs. The gold you can use to then purchase another arena run, thus going infinite. If you’re the kind of person who’s talented enough to always have an arena run going, it’s because the gold you earn from your runs succeeds the gold spent to play arena.

In magic, while doing sealed runs, I went infinite for awhile. Probably about 5 runs in a row. Not very long, but my sealed runs would consistently reach around 6 to 7 wins, thus earning about 2,000 gems, the requirement to enter a sealed run. Again, it’s going infinite because you’re always earning enough currency to enter another time.

The reason I’m discussing “going infinite” here is because it’s a really cool process, and if you do well enough, you can really just continue playing as much as you like. You can always have a limited run going regardless, depending on how good you are and how good the cards were that you got. It’s up to chance, in some ways, but it’s also up to you. I like to think the impetus is on you more than anything else.

#183: The Playmat

person rolling green gym mat

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

While playing Magic: the Gathering, it’s customary for Alex and I to set things up first. We take the magazines and plants off of the center table, and then we put pillows down on my side, by the TV, for me to sit on. Angus walks over and, as is custom, he brushes against us and the magazines and they spill over as we pet him vigorously, because he loves attention while we play magic. He always gets excited whenever we sit down together and start to prepare our things for card playing. His face perks up and he starts to pant, like he’s outside in the steaming heat.

Next, we unroll my massive Dark Confidant playmat, which I got in 2014 and which was signed by the artist, Scott Fishman, at a magic convention in Worcester-Boston. He signed it with a little fish next to his name, which is how I remember what his name is. It’s written in silver sharpie. When we went, Dan, Alex (different Alex this time), and I all got playmats from the same guy and for the same purpose, but I think I’m the only one who still uses his playmat. I think Alex sold his, and Dan uses a different one whenever he plays. I don’t even own a Dark Confidant card, but having the playmat makes me feel like I do, at least in some sense.

Alex (the first one, not the friend one) is looking to get a playmat for herself one of these days. We’re in the middle of researching the right one for her, and I think she’s looking for one with Deathpact Angel or Angel of Despair on the cover. I think either of those options would look amazing on a playmat, so to imagine them lighting up against my Dark Confidant playmat would be amazing. Darkness versus light, good versus evil, all that jazz. You know how it goes by this point.

#174: The Draft

architect architecture blueprint build

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Today, I’ll be discussing drafting in Magic: the Gathering, a format that most of us are pretty unfamiliar with. Drafting is the process of looking at packs of cards, choosing cards from the pack to build a deck with, and using your deck against other players who have other decks.

The picture included at the top here is not emblematic of what drafting looks like, but it’s the only (appropriate) picture that appeared when I typed “draft” in the search box for pictures!

Let’s break this process down. There are two major types of drafts: limited and sealed. Limited involves three rounds of passing around packs, with one pack per round. People sit around a table, each person opens a pack, and then they choose one card to add to their “deck” and then pass the rest to their right. And so on and so forth. The process continues until there’s nothing left, and then you open another pack and continue doing it again. The cards you acquired during this process are enough to form a 40-card deck, which you then have to pit against other players. If you win games against them, you’re given sweet rewards to bring home with you. It’s a ton of fun to compete.

Sealed is a bit different. In sealed, you open six packs and everything is fair game for you. The cards are then yours. What you do with the contents of those packs is up to you. Sealed decks are usually a lot more competitive than limited decks, and the quality of cards is higher because you are given literally everything you need from the start. I generally prefer sealed to limited, because I like being able to have a stronger deck to compete with, but it’s also more expensive to start playing because of the six pack minimum.

#164: The Mythic

person holding stay focuseds paper

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I spoke about Magic: the Gathering in another post recently, but today I’ll be diving a bit deeper into another part of it that resonates with me.

Pulling packs in Magic: the Gathering is one of my favorite, small wonderful joys. It’s fun because of the randomness that comes from it, and it reminds me so much of the loot boxes I spoke about in another post on here recently. It’s a kind of gambling, in the sense that you are spending money without knowing exactly what cards you’re going to get from the pack. You spend $4 per pack, and then whatever you get has to equal $4 in value in order to be deemed worth it. But to me, as a simple card collector, I don’t care as much about the money as much as I care about the experience and the collecting of cards. Maybe it’s not as cost-effective as I would like, but it makes the experience interesting and less stressful. I’m not as concerned about getting even as I would be if I cared only about the price of cards.

This all being said, I do care about the money to some extent. For example, a couple days ago, I went into Gamestop while Alex got her eyebrows waxed next door, and I pulled an Arclight Phoenix in a pack. It’s a mythic rare, meaning it’s even harder to find than a regular rare from a pack. I don’t know the exact odds of pulling a mythic but they’re especially difficult to find. The card is worth about $20 currently, and I have no intentions of selling it at the moment. I plan on slotting it into the Izzet guild kit deck I get and improving it further. Right now, it’s pretty damn powerful, so improving it more will just make it even more oppressive. I’m looking forward to seeing what it can do.

#162: The Commander

docked ship

Photo by Tobias Bjørkli on Pexels.com

Not the commander of a ship, rather I am the commander of an elite, 100-card singleton deck of Magic: the Gathering cards. You guessed it, another blog post about Magic! It’s been on my mind so much lately, so I apologize for writing so much about it.

I recently ordered another commander deck, for the first time in a while. I haven’t played commander in ages, literally years and years ago. This past weekend, my friend Dan said that he held onto one of his old commander decks and that we can play together if I construct one. So naturally, I took that opportunity and decided to make one for myself. I bought a pre-constructed Lord Windgrace deck, which features landfall mechanics and a planeswalker as the commander. It’s kind of exciting to have a planeswalker commander, considering most commanders have to be legendary creatures, not planeswalkers. This one has a special rule allowing it to be used in the format.

So, here’s how the commander format works: you build a deck of 100 unique cards, with one of the cards being your commander. None of the cards are able to be copies; they have to be singleton. You can play the commander at any time and from any position. The format makes for unpredictable, awesome multi-player games because you know your cards won’t repeat themselves, and you have no idea what you’ll be drawing at any one time. There’s a concept called commander damage, which means if your commander deals a total of 21 damage to any one enemy player over the course of the game, then they are defeated. For reference, you start the game with 30 life, as opposed to the usual 20 life in standard games.

Commander is awesome, and probably my favorite casual format in magic. I highly recommend giving it a shot if you’ve never done it before.

#135: The Card Expansion

close up of hand holding text over black background

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When I think about collectible card games, the first one that comes to mind is always Hearthstone, and for good reason. First of all, you can’t trade cards in this game, but you just collect them by opening packs. Secondly, it’s available on smartphones and computers and tablets, so it’s incredibly versatile and useful. When you open packs, it gives you five cards, with at least one being rare quality. There are other qualities of cards, though, such as epic and legendary, but those have a less likely chance of appearing when you open packs and they aren’t guaranteed, either.

The reason I bring all of this up is because a new expansion for Hearthstone has been announced, titled “Rise of Shadows.” It features lots of homebrewed villains from the Hearthstone universe forming an evil league to take down Dalaran, the city of magic in the sky. I have no idea what will actually take place in the adventure portion of this game, when the story is actually relevant to the gameplay, but I’m interested regardless. Whenever a new expansion is announced, I always look forward to the spoilers season, when new cards are slowly trickled in and unveiled by the development team through publishers. I always get caught in the hype and am interested in what’s coming next to the game. It’s so easy to get caught up in the hype when things are getting exciting like this!

My favorite time is when the legendary cards are revealed, as they usually have the most ridiculous, over-the-top effects and abilities. Those are usually meta-defining and absolutely shape and warp the way the game is played in standard and wild. The past few sets haven’t been that impactful, but with there being a rotation in standard with it being Year of the Dragon now, this new expansion set is bound to change things up.

Magic: the Gathering Grand Prix Providence

gp_Providence_wide

After days and weeks of long preparation and study, I can say that I am one day away from attending the Magic: the Gathering Grand Prix Providence event. Of course, my preparation has been minimal and my study nonexistent. But I’d like to think that, after all is said and done, I had an enjoyable experience playing a game that has occupied a good portion of my time in the past year and a half.

Magic: the Gathering (or Magic, as we call it for ease of use) is a Trading Card Game, playable in many different formats, and played with an unlimited amount of people. Generally, Magic players form small groups of fellow players, and trade, play, and draft together. Trading and playing seem like givens. Drafting, however, is an activity that probably requires explanation, as it is what I will be participating in this weekend at the Grand Prix. When I attend the convention center tomorrow, I’ll be drafting with two of my friends, on a team. Typically, I find strategizing as a team much more fulfilling than strategizing alone, as the chemistry that emerges from interacting with teammates who depend on your success makes for more anxiety, and ultimately more potential for unpredictable excitement.

“Drafting” involves opening booster packs, filled with Magic cards, which you use to make a deck. “Drafting” also tends to promote the “limited” format, in that players are limited to the cards they pull. It’s the most appealing structure to people who don’t want to spend tons of money on a structured, play-tested deck in one of the more eternal formats. Essentially, drafting is the most fun for me.

The Grand Prix takes place over two days, from Saturday to Sunday, with those who make it to Sunday having guaranteed to make money. We haven’t booked a hotel yet, but I imagine we’ll find a way to live…somewhere. I’ll be driving with two Eagle Scouts, so I don’t doubt we’ll end up somewhere in the woods camping between the days. How fun!

Tomorrow, I will be drafting with a team of two people, among hundreds of other teams of people. While I don’t expect to win money, I do think it will be a fun time with friends in a large, geeky setting. This will be my first GP, and hopefully the first of many more to come. I’ll hopefully be able to keep you guys updated amid the chaos and ruckus of thousands of people running around trying to trade each other cards and battling with them, too. In the mean time, that’s all for now!

I apologize for not writing often, even though I assume not many of you mind.