Hello, readers. It’s Az.
Before I move on with my article today, I just want to say I hope you’ve been enjoying reading Rappy’s and Scotsperson’s reviews in my absence, and I’m sorry to have disappeared for so many months. -.- The truth is, both my writing and drawing muses are fickle, fickle creatures. As an artist, it’s my personal opinion that the vast majority of my work is terrible, even if most people who see it say otherwise. I guess you could blame a combination of my upbringing and my Asperger’s Syndrome for that one. >.>; I’m very much a perfectionist, and that ain’t gonna change anytime soon. So if you ask me why I’ve been gone all this time, then I’m gonna say, “I just didn’t feel like writing.” I’m not gonna lie to you and say I was too busy for it. My schedule’s actually very lax right now. This one’s squarely my fault. -.-
Now, I can’t promise that I’ll post super-often, as I’ve never done so in the first place. As of right now, the only promise I’m breaking is Rappy’s advertisement of me as the resident alien in charge of D&D 4E coverage. So far, the only D&D article I’ve ever posted is a retrospective about the big, big numbers involved in 4E mechanics compared to 3.5 ones, and now that I’ve started playing 3.5 again and gotten reacquainted with the old mechanics, I realize it was a stupid retrospective to make. Even stupider were the two Magic: the Gathering articles that followed, which were curmudgeonly and served more as a reflection with my frustrations about my local Magic metagame. But now that I’ve gotten that idiocy out of my system, there is only one logical course of action to take: Improve the quality of my articles. Having written two short stories and seen the difference in quality between the first and second, I feel that raising the bar is a promise I can keep, to all of you and to myself.
Still reading? Great. ^^ Thank you all again for letting me vent. Let’s move on and talk about Rise of the Eldrazi.
Kozilek, Ulamog, and Emrakul. These are the true names of the three gods worshipped by Zendikar’s merfolk. But if gods they are, the Eldrazi are the biggest, baddest, least benevolent members of the Magic Multiverse’s pantheon.
Colorless frames are so smexy, uva? :3 Emrakul here is the prerelease foil this time ’round.
I must say, just going by ballpark estimates because Eldrazi haven’t hit the streets yet, I think Wizards has done a pretty decent job of designing them. They’re one part deadly infestation on the level of StarCraft’s Zerg, and one part eldritch horror from the mind of H.P. Lovecraft. And for creatures that are so hard to cast (or even cheat into play), you certainly get some well-deserved bang for your mana. My only worry is that, even with all the different ways in the set to help you cast something so big, scary, and game-ending, the Eldrazi might even be too expensive. But given how much better the designers have gotten at playtesting their own product since the horrors of Mirrodin block left Standard, I trust they know what they’re doing. Eldrazi decks might not be tournament-caliber, but they’re going to be really fun to watch.
But the thing that really pleases me about the Zendikar creative block as a whole, and has pleased me since day 1 of the set’s release, is how well the world evokes that classic D&D feel the game’s been missing. The last time Magic had a completely new setting with such rich flavor was Ravnica, that titular overgrown metropolis teeming with everything you’d expect to see in a fantasy cityscape. Zendikar, by contrast, is what happens when you leave the confines of the city and go out to the unforgiving wilds and ancient ruins in search of adventure. It’s that sense of discovery (the designers are always talking about that in their articles for some reason :p) that lies at the heart of any D&D campaign, reincarnated in hundreds of cardboard bodies.
So logically, the only way to come full-circle and complete Wizards’ porting of D&D concepts into M:tG is by giving this treatment to its mechanics as well as its flavor. It is with this (read: not Yu-Gi-Oh) in mind that I present to you one of the first batch of spoiled Level creatures:
Now don’t the denizens of Zendikar look more like PCs rather than NPCs? :3
Functionally, Level Up works as something of a delayed kicker, another expensive thing to do with all that extra land you searched out to set off landfall triggers. Of course, this also depends on whether or not your creature stays alive, which in a multiplayer environment like mine is suicide since a Wrath effect goes off once every three rounds. >_>; Still, if anyone remembers how Figure of Destiny helped put the Red Deck on the boogeyman pedestal alongside Faeries during Time Spiral-Lorwyn/Shadowmoor Standard, then you should know there’s precedence to the idea of Level creatures being not just playable, but competitive. I have high hopes that this mechanic will go somewhere, and personally can’t wait to play it, or the Eldrazi. ^^
Until next time, may you not tell Mark Rosewater I ripped off his sign-off. >.>