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Dominaria Art Preview

Happy Friday MTG peeps,

It is Friday and why not make it magic.  Get thee to a Friday Night Magic event at a local gaming store.  MTG Realm is attending OMG! Games, here in Barrie, Ontario and taking along one or more rogue decklists which, although designed to find vulnerabilities with the current meta-game, may simply fail to launch.  

Anywhoos, some Magic: the Gathering news out today from PAX Unplugged taking place 17th to 19th November in Philadelphia.  Here Wizards of the Coast was reported to preview four (4!) pieces of art from the upcoming set Dominaria, to be released in April, 2018.  

Understandably, there is a lot of player excitement and nostalgia for this, so it will not go unnoticed that any previews will be met with a level of raucousness.  It is unclear at this time what each of these arts may be, but we have lent our our prognostications below.

The fan community did indeed go wild over this one.  Thought to be Jaya (Ballard) by Yongjae Choi, who may have founded the fire mage academy on Regatha, where Chandra studied.

Linessa by Magali Villeneuve, possibly with the Academy on Tolaria West in the background.  Some claim this may be Narset travelling to Dominaria.

Absolutely gorgeous art here, and rather reminiscent of the Orzhov style on Ravnica.  Thought to be a Benalish Knight, illustrated by Chris Rallis, possibly shown within the Angelfire Churche of Serra and Gabriel.

Elf by Chris Rahn.  We think a dark Elf (green / black), possibly an Elf of the Thelonite Order from Havenwood who had manipulated fungus and dark magic to create sentient Thallids.



Rivals of Ixalan Art Spoiler

Happy Wednesday MTG peeps,

Viz Media had posted a video earlier today featuring ‘The Art of Magic: The Gathering - Ixalan’ chat with James Wyatt, Senior Creative Designed, Magic: the Gathering and Tyler Jacobson, a Magic: the Gathering Artist.  Viz Media and Magic: the Gathering is publishing ‘The Art of Magic: The Gathering - Ixalan’ Hardcover art book on January 2, 2018.  In the video, posted here, there are a few tantalizing sneak peaks of some art pieces we have not yet seen yet and may likely see printing in the next set, Rivals of Ixalan.

The book may be purchased through Amazon at this link.  For more information, pop on over to this link at Viz Media.

Here is the blurb for the book
Deep in the heart of Ixalan’s verdant jungle lies a treasure beyond imagining. Join the peoples of this plane in their search for an ancient golden city as you explore these pages, lavishly illustrated with the award-winning art of Magic: The Gathering®!
Here you can sail with daring pirates and call on the might of earth-shaking dinosaurs. The marooned Planeswalker Jace Beleren will be your guide in his search for the true power of the golden city. 
A whole world waits to be discovered. Come and join the struggle to claim the greatest treasure of Ixalan!


Standard U/R Flyers

Happy Wednesday MTG peeps,

There was an interesting standard format decklist recently on MTGO which had done rather nicely and had captured our attention.  In truth, we were looking at making some improvements on a Blue / White list chocked full of flyers with that lovely 2-drop blue enchantment Favorable Winds (Creatures you control with flying get +1/+1) at its core.  Instead, we found this nice list from gamer 'slapjackson' who went with a Blue / Red build and our initial thoughts are 'favorable'.  Here is the list now -

MTGO Competitive Standard League
Standard U/R Flyers by slapjackson

Creature 20
4 Glorybringer
2 Hope of Ghirapur
4 Maverick Thopterist
2 Pia Nalaar
4 Siren Stormtamer
4 Whirler Virtuoso

Spell 16
4 Aethersphere Harvester
4 Favorable Winds
2 Heart of Kiran
4 Lightning Strike
2 Shock

Land 24
2 Ipnu Rivulet
8 Island
4 Mountain
4 Ramunap Ruins
2 Spire of Industry
4 Spirebluff Canal

4 Abrade
4 Negate
3 Scavenger Grounds
2 Shock

This list does pack some of the better flying creatures available in standard right now such as Glorybringer, or provides flyers as is the case with Whirler Virtuoso.  We had very early on dismissed Maverick Thopterist as not being a rather good choice for standard play but may now be re-evaluating our hasty judgement.  A 2/2 Artificer for five mana better have some good text.  He does bring along two 1/1 Thopters and does more importantly have the 'Improvise' key word to assist in reducing that steep mana cost.  Given the artifact sub-theme to this list, we should think that one would be able to play this on the cheap in most games.

Supporting this are two important Vehicles - two Heart of Kiran and a full deck-set of four Aethersphere Harvester which provides the option to pay an energy to give it lifelink until end of turn.  The blue one-drop Siren Stormtamer provides a level of assurance that protects more valuable assets and is a welcome card even late-game.  Two Pia Nalaar packs some utility to pump an artifact creature as well as some control to prevent an opponent's creature from blocking, which sounds like a good addition in this list.  We had been fond of Hope of Ghirapur since it was previewed but have literally never seen anyone play this.  

Lightning Strike and Shock round out the list with some nice burn and in the sideboard two very decent inclusions are deck sets of Abrade and Negate, all of which seems to lend itself appropriately to a robust list.  Looking forward to using this to build upon and modify slightly to personal taste and local metagame.



The Longest Cycle

Happy Tuesday MTG peeps,

Funny / witty / waggish Magic: the Gathering previews continue today for Unstable, but we want to catch our breath and talk about a very long cycle -

No - not that kind of cycle.

A cycle in Magic: the Gathering is a collection of cards that have one or more relationships with one another, or share a common theme.  There are a number of types of cycles - vertical, horizontal, tight, loose, and more.  Often the cycles are within the same set or block, but sometimes may stetch over and not necessarily through some blocks.  A three-card cycle first started in 1998, leaping to 2004, and finally completing this year may be the longest stretch of time for Wizards of the Coast to complete a card cycle.

Click on over to Gathering Magic for today's Unstable preview of the third and final Magic: the Gathering player psychograph.


In an article by Mark Rosewater in 2013, he had indicated that there are three basic types of Magic players. The fancy term for these categories is "psychographic profiles." A psychographic profile separates players into categories based on their psychological make-up.  The player types of Timmy, Johnny, and Spike.

Timmy, Power Gamer (Unglued), illustrated by Edward Beard, Jr., August, 1998

Johnny, Combo Player (Unhinged), illustrated by Kensuke Okabayashi, November, 2004.

Spike, Tournament Grinder (Unstable), illustrated by Zoltan Boros, December, 2017

Here is what Mark Rosewater had provided in a brief summary of what characteristics of a player suggests inclusion into the three taxon -

Timmy wants to experience something. Timmy plays Magic because he enjoys the feeling he gets when he plays. What that feeling is will vary from Timmy to Timmy, but what all Timmies have in common is that they enjoy the visceral experience of playing.

Johnny is the creative gamer to whom Magic is a form of self-expression. Johnny likes to win, but he wants to win with style. It’s very important to Johnny that he win on his own terms. As such, it's important to Johnny that he's using his own deck. Playing Magic is an opportunity for Johnny to show off his creativity.

Spike is the competitive player. Spike plays to win. Spike enjoys winning. To accomplish this, Spike will play whatever the best deck is. Spike will copy decks off the Internet. Spike will borrow other players' decks. To Spike, the thrill of Magic is the adrenaline rush of competition. Spike enjoys the stimulation of outplaying the opponent and the glory of victory.


MTG Unstable Previews

Happy Monday MTG peeps,

Very long awaited but the day has finally arrived.  The first day of previews of of the upcoming silver-bordered 'Un-Set' has finally arrived.  Click on over to the Wizards of the Coast Magic: the Gathering site today to drink in all the nutty goodness.  This set is preceded by 'Unglued' (August, 1998), and 'Unhinged' (November, 2004).  These were fan favourites and a sense of nostalgia had only grown over the years since.  

Unstable is a booster-based card set for Magic: The Gathering that can not be used in legal Magic tournaments. It will be released on December 8, 2017 as a wacky standalone fun-set.  This is the third of the silver bordered Un-sets and is designed to be drafted.  Unstable is set on a steampunk 'mad scientist world' with 5 factions:

• Order of the Widget
• Agents of S.N.E.A.K.
• League of Dastardly Doom
• Goblin Explosioneers

• Crossbreed Labs

Returning to this set is a much discussed and highly popular mechanic ‘Contraption’.  Specifically, this is an artifact subtype and associated with the assemble keyword action.   Steamflogger Boss from Future Sight (May, 2007) was the only card for years to have this until Unstable.  Unstable looks to take this to quite another level and we suggest you read MTG Rules Miser Matt Takak’s article linked here about just how one may assemble a contraption.  

We will leave off for now, but here is a poster for the Crossbreed Labs showing a number of contraptions associated with that faction.  It appears that we have three of the possible nine contraptions accounted for within the awesome poster art now.



Wednesday MTG Miscellany

Happy Wednesday MTG peeps,

We have a mish-mash of Magic: the Gathering related items of interest to pass along for today.  You may find one or more of these even interesting, so let us get to it.  Since brevity is the soul of wit, And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, let us wear briefs -

First up - Unstable Packaging Preview -
We were not playing Magic: the Gathering when the 'Un' sets (Unhinged / Unglued) and really did not develop a semblance of humour until just last week, so we are certainly looking very much forward to the release of the upcoming silver-bordered 'Unstable' set and all of its nutty goodness.  The news here is that Ed Nguyen (store owner?) snapped a pic of an Unstable booster display box at the recent Southern Hobby toy expo in Nashville.  

Revel in these pixels !

Next - Explorers of Ixalan
This MTG card and tile-based game promises to provide a out-of-the-box multiplayer Magic experience and is (quite obviously) closely related to the current Ixalan / Rivals of Ixalan card sets.  In fact, the decklists, linked in this section looks delicious and fun to play for our play-group.  Of interest is a handful of cards printed in this set which received new card art.  Highlighting that is one of our old favourites, 'Zealous Persecution', with cool new art from Sara Winters. 

Speaking of Ixalan, be certain to drop by the mothersite today for Planeswalker's Guide to Ixalan, Part 2, linked right over here.  In today's offering from the R&D Narrative Team, we are treated to more back story to how the Vampires of the Legion of Dusk came to be, and the flight of the ancestors of the Bazen Coalition fled seeking freedom.

Lastly, some rather great humour developed over at Good Gamery lampooning the massive card leak a while back for Ixalan.  One should start much the same way as we did - hearing about a Rivals of Ixalan leak with this post on Imgurfollowed by the accompanying story at the Good Gamery site at this link.

A whole lot of really great creative work went into this and we will be enjoying these witty creations for days to come.  Here is the full visual spoiler in their Rivals of Ixalan gallery - linked right here. Our personal favourite - the rather naughty Mating Matriarch along with the great flavour text from our boy in green Garruk.



2017 Gift Pack Review

Happy Monday MTG peeps,

MTG Realm has been picking up the Holiday Gift Boxes since they had been released, and still use all the storage boxes (which can accommodate up to 2,000 cards each) for our Magic: the Gathering collection.  We even had picked up the Holiday Gift Box when Wizards of the Coast had some issues with the strength of the packaging.  We are a somewhat thrifty bunch and had found the contents to be rather decent value.  Here is the list of what we had purchased over the years - 

Return to Ravnica, November 2012
Theros, November 2013
Khans of Tarkir, November 2014
• Battle for Zendikar, November 2015
• Shadows over Innistrad, May 2016
• Kaladesh, November 2016

We DID NOT purchase this year's product offering, the 2017 Gift Pack, which appears to replace the Holiday Gift Box.  Instead, we had won the Gift Pack in a random draw at our local gaming store, OMG! Games, here in Barrie, Ontario.  Let's get to what one can expect to get for an MRSP of $20 USD ($25 here in Canada) - 

• 5 premium basic lands by artist Mark Poole (known as the "Shooting Star Lands")

• 2 premium creature cards (Metalwork Colossus and Kari Zev, Skyship Raider

• 3 booster packs (Ixalan, Hour of Devastation, Amonkhet)

• Spindown life counter (Planeswalker symbol)

• Exclusive mini-poster (Featuring art from Hour of Devastation)

Most recently with the Kaladesh Holdiay Gift Box which had an MSRP of $25 provided the following :
• one Card storage box 
• 5 Kaladesh booster packs
• 20-card Kaladesh basic land pack
• 1 premium, foil promo card (Chief of the Foundry)
• 6 illustrated plastic dividers
• one sticker sheet for customizing dividers

Although the previous product was five clams more expensive, we felt this was great value.  In comparision, we feel that we are just breaking even with no added incentive to pull out our wallet for this year's Gift Pack.  A small modification such as alternate art for the foil Metalwork Colossus and Kari Zev, Skyship Raider - paired with her foil Ragavan monkey token, would have swayed our opinion.

This product appears to have been designed specifically to be placed on a shelf in a big box store such as Walmart or Target alongside Yu-Gi-Oh product.  There may exist a small chance that this Gift Pack may actually be mistaken for a Yu-Gi-Oh product by a parent, relative or friend resulting in a measure of disappointment during Christmas.  This is not to say that there are not Magic: the Gathering players out there who are indeed pleased with this - we have personally spoken with several who have or who intend to purchase this.

Our final concern addresses the over-packaging, and carbon footprint of this product.  We realist that there is a new president south of our border and that the protection of the environment is clearly not a priority.  The fact that the Environmental Protection Agency has been seriously de-funded indicates that environmental protection is not even a consideration.  A company such as Wizards of the Coast, using the resources of its parent company Hasbro is encouraged to stand out with environmental consideration being incorporated into the life cycle of their product and packaging, which they have to an extent, but certainly not with this product.

Should Wizards of the Coast realise some commercial success with this product, we would be delighted as we want to enjoy playing Magic: the Gathering for years to come.  

Lastly, we want to remind folks that Nighthawk Counters has a Kickstarter project.  These premium hand-finished life counters and gaming accessories are quite functional and aesthetically pleasing.  MTG Realm had provided several of these counters a prizes at a recent Friday Night Magic event at our local gaming store, OMG! Games and were very well received by the players.  Please consider supporting this over here -



Wednesday Miscellany

Happy Wednesday MTG peeps,

Today we are all over the place (hence the article) and quite akin to a dog chasing a car (Joker quote there).  Let's get to it now - 

First up - Here at MTG Realm, we love a great Magic: the Gathering Story.  We also were very fond of the 'Planeswalker's Guide'  which used to get posted to the mothersite preceding a set's previews.  Better late than never we guess.  Today you should click on over to the Wizards of the Coast Magic site (linked right over here) to read 'Planeswalker's Guide to Ixalan, Part 1'.  posted by R&D Narrative Team.  We do very much appreciate this as there is physically only so much one may squeeze into the Magic Story series.

Next - we are most definitely excited about this
The Art of Magic: The Gathering - Ixalan releases 2 January, 2018.  We release that there was a lot of restrictions in play as to when to release this.  Obviously not to early as to conflict with previews, but why two or so weeks before Christmas.  Do you know what makes a great Christmas prezzie?  This book.  I guess we will be dropping hints for Gift Certificates instead.

Anywhoos, here is the full blurb -

The Art of Magic: The Gathering – Ixalan. is the fifth release in VIZ Media’s ongoing series of impressive hardcover art books presents the incredible illustrations of Magic: The Gathering.

The substantial 240-page tome will feature dozens of full-color works by an impressive array of talented artists, including Christine Choi, Daarken and Titus Lunter, and will be complemented with additional in-depth lore by bestselling author and Magic: The Gathering Senior Game Designer James Wyatt.

The Art of Magic: The Gathering – Ixalan invites fans to set sail for the uncharted jungles of Ixalan, where dangerous beasts, magnificent ruins, and lost treasures lie waiting to be discovered. Saddle up your dinosaur mount and brave the unknown as you search the plane for a prize forgotten by history… until now!


We want to yatter a little bit about a standard-legal card which is not seeing a lot of popular play - Solemnity.

Currently this very lovely card is seeing some sideboard action in some fringe decklists like Red / White (Boros) Approach or Red / White / Green (Naya) Dinosaurs.  We have seen a few White / Black / Green (Abzan) Token lists also have one or two in the sideboard as well.  

The question here is why is this not seeing more play considering all the top decks such as Temur Energy, Jund Energy - and even Ramunap Red uses Soul-Scar Mage - having the lion's share at the top tables.  Given the heavy reliance on Energy Counters (Bristling Hydra, Aether Hub, etc.) and even +1/+1 counters (Walking Balista, B/G 'Snek'), this should be a shoe-in as a weapon to turn their deck into a "mishmash of Limited-level vanilla creatures".  The answer we guess is that there is not a very decent existing shell for this to be inserted into. Solemnity has a lot of competition for slots and there does exist a level of control or enchantment hate to dissuade one from making this a serious consideration.

We are going to wrap up with some excerpts from a great 'Card of the Month' article written by Marina Casta├▒o Garrido on the Magic Judge Blog on this card - 
While Solemnity is on the battlefield, no spells or effects will be able to put new counters on the aforementioned permanents (artifacts, creatures, enchantments, and lands). Furthermore, already existing counters on those permanents will not be affected so they will get to stick around.
What are counters?The Comprehensive Rules tell us that a counter is a marker put on an object or player that modifies its characteristics and/or interacts with a rule, ability, or effect.