Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Magic 2010

Well, first off, let me start with this: Magic 2010 should never have been made.

Magic 2010 brings back a card that I use, but don't think should be back, Lightning Bolt. Okay, here is my opinion on Lightning Bolt. The designers of Magic: The Gathering made Lightning Bolt, and then realized that it was too powerful, not so much so that it needed to be banned, but enough that they needed to get rid of it in Standard. So, while they had never banned Lightning Bolt, they didn't want it around, and thus created Shock, a card that is strictly worse than Lightning Bolt. For the exact same cost, you do 2 damage instead of 3. Still, Shock is a really good card, so much so that it was used in lots of decks and reprinted in core set after core set. There was literally no reason to bring Lightning Bolt back. Absolutely none. They had let it die before, and now they brought it back. Since the last time Shock was printed was in 10th, with 2010, Lightning Bolt is in Standard, where Shock isn't.

Magic 2010 brings back a concept that was used in the few Portal sets, making a card that does the exact same thing as something else, but has a different name so that you can then have more than 4 of that card in any given deck. Now, most people will recognize cards like Grizzly Bears or Remove Soul, which are commons that appeared in core sets. Grizzly Bears is a 1G creature that has 2 power and 2 toughness, with the creature type "Bear". Remove Soul is a 1U instant that reads "Counter target creature spell." Now, both are not game breaking, but both are very simple and straightforward, and good in any generic green or blue deck. With 2010, we got Runeclaw Bear, which is a 1G creature with 2 power and 2 toughness with the creature type "Bear" and Essence Scatter, which is a 1U instant that reads "Counter target creature spell." To me, who started around the time 7th edition came out, and even stopped before Mirrodin and got back in Ravnica, Grizzly Bears and Remove Soul were cards I knew and recognized and was fine with. I just didn't realize that they were also cards that were remakes of other cards. Grizzly Bears also has counterparts named Bear Cub, Balduivan Bears and Forest Bear, that all are the exact same card as Grizzly Bears, with a different name. Remove Soul also has counterparts named False Summoning and Preemptive Strike, that are all the exact same card as Remove Soul with a different name. So, while at first, I was just horrified at them creating more of that same card, I realize that it was something that was done before, and doing it now is just silly, and maybe allows reminiscing (and the best deck ever, which people I know will soon have to face, mwa, ha, ha, ha!)

They also brought the concept of making something better, with cards like Warpath Ghoul. See, in prior core sets, there was a card named Scathe Zombies, which is a 2B Zombie, with 2 power and 2 toughness. The card has been in every core set, starting with Alpha (being in Beta, Unlimited, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th), all with the exact same flavor text even. Warpath Ghoul is a 2B Zombie with 3 power and 2 toughness. The card costs exactly the same, with the exact same effect, except 1 more power, which makes it better. Warrior's Honor was a remake of other cards (like Remove Soul was), specifically, Virtuous Charge and Warrior's Charge, which are all 2W Instants with "Creatures you control get +1/+1 until end of turn." There was, in Mirrodin, before they had printed 10th, a card called Roar of the Kha, which was a 1W Instant that was "Choose one - Creatures you control get +1/+1 until end of turn; or untap all creatures you control. Entwine 1W (Choose both if you pay the entwine cost)." Even without the entwine, it is outright better, as it is cheaper for the same effect, but with the entwine, it is outright better. Why they reprinted Warrior's Honor is beyond me, but they didn't in 2010, replacing it with Glorious Charge, a 1W Instant that does everything Warrior's Honor did, except for 1 mana less.

This just brings me to the part that I hate the most (well, aside from Lightning Bolt). The rules changes that were made were just annoying to me. Let's go over them:
1) Simultaneous Mulligans - No reason to exist, as mentioned in the article, most people did that anyway. Doesn't change much.
2) Terminology Changes - Again, pointless, and only a few cards actually are affected.
2A) Battlefield - Annoying, as it is a longer, clunkier word, that doesn't help me (although could help others, maybe?)
2B) Cast, Play, Activate - Meh. I'm fine with play. Sure, I guess it helps some people could get a benefit between playing and casting, but honestly, not worth it.
2C) Exile - Again, annoying. I am used to "remove from the game" as it is just a term used. Exile just feels weird to use as a term. Oh, and while it affects almost nothing the wish cards (that could get cards from outside the game) can no longer get exiled cards, as they are no longer outside the game.
2D) Beginning of the End Step - The only one I am okay with. I understand end of turn, and was even able to explain it to my mother (who doesn't play M:TG) such that she gets the basics of it. Still, it is a confusing concept (where things that trigger at end of turn trigger before the turn actually ends).
3) Mana Pools and Mana Burn
3A) Mana Pools Emptying - Not something I really care about, but it can be annoying, if you have effects that add mana and you have to use it before points in time that you normally wouldn't.
3B) Mana Burn Eliminated - Annoying. While I don't like mana burning myself, I appreicate that the concept exists. So, when my friend uses his Elves and adds 14 mana to his mana pool with one card, he had to spend it all or take damage. Makes sense to me. Well, now it just doesn't matter. So, with my Naya deck, that gets too much mana occasionally, it doesn't matter, and I can let it go to waste, as opposed to getting guys like Spearbreaker Behemoth or Beacon Behemoth that have a 1 colorless ability that can be used any number of times.
4) Token Ownership - It actually makes sense, but for most of the time, will do nothing, but when it does, helps stop silliness. I approve.
5) Combat Damage No Longer Uses the Stack - Dear God, this is complicated. Their explanation is 6.5 pages long (sure pictures are involved, but still), for crying out loud! Now, I get where they are coming from, design-wise. It doesn't make sense that a guy throws a punch, vanishes, then the punch hits somebody, in terms of the story of games. Now, it does affect certain things, such as that I now have to try to kill as many things as possible (before, if you didn't want to, you didn't have to, provided that there was enough toughness, aka, you can spend your damage however you want to, putting it all on a guy who just got protection from your creature, because you don't want anything to enter the graveyard, or something), and now Mogg Fanatic (and other such cards) are much worse off. Honestly, it is just annoying, and I don't like it.
6) Deathtouch - Yes, it is simpler now that it is state-based. But, now it is also more annoying, as you can't get hit with deathtouch and then respond, you have to respond before. Not much changes, but annoying.
7) Lifelink - Sigh. Yes, it can now save your life in a game, as it is state-based, and so when you take the damage, you gain it at exactly the same time, still, I miss having multiple lifelinks, like with Battlegrace Angel. Now, I might take some out of my Bant deck, because I only need a couple in there, because I only need one now, and the others are just expensive Exalted creatures.

In short, I hate Magic 2010 because it has done stupid things. Sigh...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

San Francisco

Yesterday was amazing. Okay, so I grew up living in San Francisco, and never felt the need for a driver's license, considering how I could use public transportation to get where I needed in the city. When I went to college in Troy, NY, well, let's just say that the public transportation there is not dependable. You want examples? Fine.

When my friends and I went to see Iron Man last year, we decided to take public transportation to get from RPI to the Latham Crossgates Mall. When we looked at the bus schedule, we saw there was one that would leave at 10:10 AM and every 55 minutes. We thought, "Okay, we can catch the 10:10 bus and get to the mall around 11:20 AM, so that we can have some lunch, see the movie, and get back to Troy well before 5 PM, so that I could get to the one comic store in Troy before it closed, so I could get my free comic books for Free Comic Book Day. Well, we got to the bus stop before 10 AM, and then left the busstop around 11:05 AM, when the bus that was after the one we wanted took off. We eventually got to the mall, and were able to see Iron Man, have my friend buy a video game he wanted (after way too much hassle at Best Buy where he couldn't and it ended up being stupid, so we had to at GameStop or EB Games, I can't remember which), then headed back to take a bus back to Troy. We were ready to go at around 3:00, and got to the busstop at the mall, and at around 1 hour later, a bus came and we were able to get back to Troy. I was able to get my comics, although I got there 5 minutes late. The people at Aquilonia were nice enough to let me in and get what free comics I wanted, although the All Star Superman was gone, and it was basically just the things people weren't quite as interested in.

So, aside from running only every hour, which is a long time in between buses, they didn't even run that often, and ended up running every 2 hours or so. If we had a car at that point, it would have taken 20-30 minutes max to get to the mall. Instead it took us a couple hours in each direction, including the waiting. So, while there is public transporation in the Albany area, basically, it sucks horribly.

Yesterday was my first day off in 6 days, so I could have a break before having to go to work for 4 more days straight. I had gotten my first paycheck, but hadn't been able to deposit it, considering that the bank I go to has two branches in San Francisco, one downtown, and one on the other side of Golden Gate Park, about 20 blocks from where I live. Neither one would be possible to get to before, during or after work, so I had to go yesterday, or wait until next Saturday, which would be the next non-Sunday I have off, which would also mean I'd be depositing two checks, as my next one would be there. I also wanted to get Magic: The Gathering cards, commons, for the '07 Pauper tournament that was later that day. Basically, the Ravnica and Time Spiral blocks, along with 10th edition and Coldsnap were legal for play, but only the commons from those sets. I had designed a deck that I needed a few more cards for. I then needed to get to Gamescape, where I would play against friends, and then be in the tournament. So, I took the 44 from near my house through Golden Gate Park to 9th and Lincoln. From there, I was able to catch the 71 and take it down to 23rd and Irving, walk to 24th and Irving to deposit my check, then walk back to 22nd and Irving to catch the 71 going the other direction to 19th and Lincoln. From there, the 28 took me through the park to Park Presidio and Geary, where I took the 38 to 17th and Geary so I could get to Cards and Comics Central, in between 18th and 19th on Geary. I bought the commons I needed, then went down to 19th and California, where I took the 1 down to Divisadero, where I walked to the Cheesesteak shop to get some steak fries. From there, I took the 24 to Oak, where I walked half a block to Gamescape. Total amount of time taken, including the stopping for depositing, buying cards, buying steak fries, walking to and from stops and waiting around for the bus to show up? Under 2 hours. Sure, it took me a couple hours to get from my first destination to my last, but I had three separate stops that were not near each other, and I had to pick up a bus 7 times. Still, I was easily able to make it to my destination in under the amount of time it took me to get from one point in Troy to one point in Latham from one bus that would normally be well under 20 minutes in a car. The public transportation system in this city is amazing, and I love living here in San Francisco. If I want to get from Point A to Point B, it is amazingly simple, and easy, and even if it takes multiple buses, I should get there fairly quickly.
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