Monday, September 29

Shards review

In part for my friend J, who keeps telling me I should write tihs shit down so he has stuff to read.

I've been reading the Shards of Alara spoilerlist, and I'm pretty meh about this set.

Blue gets mega awesome stuff, because they've dipped into the artifact pool again. This time WotC isn't even trying to hide it; they're making blue artifacts. I realize that they have taken great pains to make the game more balanced, but every time they emphasize artifacts (and by relation, blue) they fuck it up, and the game suffers as a result.

And I only barely get why blue gets to lockdown searching of libraries. It seems like if you want to ensure the 'chaos' factor, red ought to have that. Fuck blue.

The silver lining here is that white gets some very strong stuff, being linked to blue-and thus artifacts-in this set. White has been needing a reasonable boost in power for awhile now, and slowly it looks like it's starting to happen.

Unfortunately, the other main white ability, exalt, is lame. It only works on attacking, so you want to load up one creature with all your eggs-and that strategy NEVER works.

Black also gets some nice cards, but that color doesn't need any help.

Red and Green get a focus on big creatures, but that theme has been plaguing those colors for ages, and is never successful. Or, it is when there is no viable countermagic in the format, however that's not the case here. Anytime you have a hard counter for less than four, and spot removal for the same, big creatures just won't matter. So blue and black once again look like the big players.

Worse, the 'abilities' that R/G get--devour--mean that they want to kill their paths to victory.
That. Is. Stupid.
If you're winning, this ability won't help you seal the deal, and if you're losing, this ability won't help you come back!

However, there's good and bad here, as with nearly every set. My problem is that I'm bored. This block is another multi-color set, and it's the 3rd such block in 5 blocks. There's too much of a good thing happening here, and it's becoming stale.

I'm glad the game is developing to help eliminate mana screw and color screw--two very frustrating ways to lose, especially for new players--but if they make multiple colors the best possible option, then it rapidly becomes the only one.

Issue number two: this set is probably the least focused set I've seen in years. At least it feels that way; cards that beg for 'support' cards that I just know are going to be released in the future--but for now we just have to suck it up and try and make these weaker cards work (shit like Resounding Roar. So many different things going on thematically that getting the set to form any cohesion is impossible, (cycling being smattered through the set, color themes bleeding over this way and that, 5+ power creatures mattering for some, but not all) and honestly, I'm just tired of it.

Sometimes, straightforward is good. I don't expect a block of monochrome, but the repetition of a theme like this has been visited too often, and the well is running dry for me.

Still; I loved Shadowmoor, but was disappointed by Eventide, so it's possible that the future of this block is still shiny.

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