(Editors’ note-

Welcome to the official GDC Year In Magic Sets Review.  We took an unofficial poll, and it turns out I complain a little too often.  (Okay…I complained about having to run out a poll, and Patrick just flat-out told me I complained too often.)  We wanted to start winding down 2012 in a light-hearted, fun and (hopefully) witty way for a change, and Patrick was quick to step up with the breakdown of Magic releases you’re about to read. 

And I decided to “help”.  So there’s that.  (Look for my helpful additions in bolded italics.) 

Anyway, before we get there, I wanted to let everyone know what’s coming up over the next few weeks content-wise.  With the holidays over the next two weeks, we’ll be scaling back on the content a bit in order to properly enjoy family and friends.  We’ll still be posting along the normal schedule, but we’ll be in “light faire” mode until the week after the new year rings in, with some re-posts, quick hits and things of that sort.   

Unless something comes up for me to complain about, anyway.

So with that, we here at GDC wish all of you a very happy holiday season, and we’re looking forward to coming back with a vengeance first thing in January. 

There’s lots planned for this year, folks.  We’re glad you’re with us, and we’ll continue to make it worth your while.

Cheers-

àCass)     

The end of the year offers lots of cheap opportunities for everyone and their mothers to write articles cataloging things.
With that in mind, here’s an article rating the Magic releases for 2013.
10. Commander’s Arsenal

Might as well get this over with, right?  In terms of the actual list of cards contained in the bloody thing, this is by far the best EDH product printed this year.  (And here I thought I was never getting a foil copy of Dragonlair Spider…)    
In terms of how it actually played out, this thing is a gigantic, steamy pile.
Look, I know there are WOTC apologists out there who insist this wasn’t a total flop.  I understand that not everyone can drive a Rolls Royce, or whatever illogical analogy you want to trot out.  I get that this is a premium product.  (That makes about twelve of us who actually did in fact get it.  But who’s complaining counting?)

However, it’s hard to deny that this was a great opportunity that was wasted on the decision to make it substantially more limited than any previous release of the last decade. 
I’ve already complained about this enough.  I’m done.  Way to drop the ball, yo.
This thing can bite my butt.
(Partially agreed, if only because as much as I do think this was handled about as badly as possible, I still covet about two-thirds of the cards in the darn thing. 

…NOT including Dragonlair Spider.)

9.  Duel Decks: Venser vs Koth

This came out this year, right?  Don’t get me wrong; budget foil planeswalkers are nice, although Koth is pretty EDH unexciting.  Also, it should be pointed out that non-foil alternate art cards are not going to get most EDH players worked up, and I honestly couldn’t tell you a single card that was in this thing other than the planeswalkers and possibly Sunblast Angel (which, last I checked, was not exactly a chase rare.)
Pretty underwhelming.
(This was an actual product?!?!  You weren’t kidding about that?!?!)

8. Holiday Gift Box

Honestly, this should probably be at the bottom of the list if I wasn’t so committed to bitching about Commander’s Arsenal that I was willing to make the symbolically pointless gesture of ranking it as the worst EDH product of the year, above a product that is nothing but a gosh-darn box.  See what I did there?
(Fair.  I’ll allow it.)

You know why this ranked above DD: VvK?  Because of the FOIL alt-art Dreg Mangler, baby!  Who gives a friendly squeeze that this thing is EDH unplayable?  I need to encourage Wizards to give me more of these by ranking this product eighth on some random year-end list that they’ll never read anyway!  Logic! Tight pants!  Yeah!
(Yeah…you lost me there.)

Also, nice box, yo.
7.  Duel Decks: Izzet vs Golgari

Theoretically, this should go higher because it allows an easy way to pick up Life from the Loam, a card that has been hit hard by the Legacy Tax.  However, this gets deducted points for the following reasons:
1)  It contains a foil Jarad.  Since he was the shiny new general when this thing dropped, everyone built a deck around Jarad.  Every single one of those decks contains Lord of Extinction.  Jarad/Lord of Extinction is the second most boring EDH thing released this year.
(Awesome Interjection pt. 1:

The other night, we played a five-person game at the shop.  There was a Jarad deck.  I didn’t obey the Cardinal Rule When Playing Against Jarad, which is Kill The Jarad Player Early And Often.

So I died early and often, as did everyone else, save Tyler playing his awesome creature-less land-based control deck.  Tyler was able to slip exactly one life above Jarad’s damage reach on the critical turn, untap, and play Beseech the Queen to find:
Jarad had twenty cards in hand off a Reliquary tower, and died to the upkeep trigger.

I’ll say it again – Jarad was killed by Iron Maiden.  Let that sink in a bit.)

2) It contains a foil Niv-Mizzet.  Everyone who didn’t build a Jarad deck built a Niv-Mizzet deck.  Every single one of those decks contains Curiosity, and possibly Ophidian Eye and Tandem Lookout.  Niv-Mizzet/Curiophidianlookout is the second most boring EDH thing of all time.
Axe me how I feel about combo, why don’t you?
(To paraphrase the venerable Dave Chappelle paraphrasing the venerable Rick James, I wish I had more hands so I could give these generals four thumbs down.  That’s how much *I* love combo.)
6. Dark Ascension

Ok, from a flavor standpoint, this set is awesome.  The end is near!  The monsters are winning!  My poor, monster-bitten face! Lookout!
However, from an EDH standpoint, this set is pure ass.  First off, the “fateful hour” mechanic, while flavorful, is terrible.  Second, the whole “sacrifice a human” subtheme, while flavorful, is terrible.  Third, this set loses big points for not containing a legendary Werewolf.  Seriously?
Don’t get me wrong; there is some hilarious stuff here (hey, Elbrus!). Tragic Slip is decent utility, and Flayer of the Hatebound is madly winning games because people don’t understand how Living Death actually works.  Most of the cards in this set, however, are much better to trade away for EDH playables, which arguably makes this set awesome for EDH.
I need a better rating system.
(I’m sorry…I dozed off for a third of the year there.  What’d I miss?)

5. Planechase 2k12

Ok, so “Night of the Ninja” is my favorite unproduced Lorenzo Lamas film of all time.  Also, did you know that you can buy “Night of the Ninja,” sell the two birdies for like $20, and then have a box that says “Night of the Ninja” on it?  Did you know there were three other Planechase sets released not named “Night of the Ninja”?  Would I have ranked this at #10 if not for the fact that one of the sets was called “Night of the Ninja”?
No, seriously…I appreciate that this set was EDH Precons 1.5, as it clearly was aimed at the EDH crowd.  It’s nice to get a new wedge general, some various new toys, a bunch of decent reprints, and new ninjas.  Did I mention “Night of the Ninja”?  Ok then!
(Awesome Interjection pt. 2:

I once convinced a co-worker that Lorenzo Lamas retired from acting in order to open a llama farm in southern California called “Lorenzo’s Llamas.”

I really wish I was kidding.)

4. M13

Oh hey, actual content!  It’s nice they have actually done work to make the core sets relevant, and honestly, since M10 they have done a pretty consistently good job of printing EDH winners in the yearly core sets.  True, this set did contain Worldfire, but who cares? No one was going to play that anyways, and now it’s gone.  M13 also benefits from the fact that it contains several high-dollar cards that are EDH marginal, which means you get pretty decent value here even when opening stuff you don’t want.
(Ask me how many Thragtusk I opened in drafts at GenCon this past year.  Now ask me how many drafts ended up being on the house when I sold them all.  You are not kidding about the value!)

The decision to print a cycle of legendary creatures was also nice, especially since four of the five are pretty wide open in terms of deck design space, and three of those are actually playable.  (I’m still trying to honestly figure out which is which here…)  Plus, the fact that the foil versions are in the precons means that everybody wins! (Mr. P may be a slight foil fetishist.)
Speaking of legendary creatures…
3.Avacyn Restored

Looking back to the fairly recent past, it seems clear that Rise of the Eldrazi was EDH Set 1.0.  The term they used to describe Rise was “Battlecruiser Magic,” which is about as perfect as you can get when describing EDH.  The Eldrazi themselves are a little boring, but that set is filled with stupidly high-cost EDH playables (hey Pelakka Wurm!), and the whole set is built around over-costed crap.
Just like EDH.
()

AVR is pretty much EDH Set 2.0.  In addition to the cycle of legendary creatures (all of which are pretty good and/or banned), there’s a ton of playables here.  Sure, you could argue that a few of them are kinda problematic (the header on this website should probably read “General Damage Control: F@$% Primal Surge“), but it also produced a bunch of cool EDH cards, including Go That Way, Bear!
Also, the Miracle mechanic is substantially less powerful in this format, which makes it far more fair (and subsequently, actually fun.)
(Seriously, I overpaid for my foil Sigarda, Host of Herons because I just had to make a G/W deck.  Every single time I complained to someone else about the price of the card, I was told, ‘It’s potentially Standard-playable’. 

Really?  For all the copies of Sigarda I’ve actually seen in competitive decklists, I could probably…I don’t know…sell every last one and still not be able to afford the dollar amount I paid for my foil Sigarda. 

Just saying…)

2. From the Vault: Realms

I know this is a little boring (being a reprint set and all), but after the disappointment of FTV:Legends last year, this is really pretty awesome.  Almost all of the cards are EDH playable, and the inclusion of a few that are only EDH-playable (hey, High Market!) was clearly a bone being thrown to the EDH crowd. 
Sure, not everyone got all the reprints they wanted (Still waiting for my foil Yavimaya Hollow, dammit…), but there’s a bunch of winners here.
Which brings us to…
1. Junior Johnson’s Moon

How did this get here?  Oh dang!  Seriously, what could be better than having some delicious drinks and playing Three-Color Smut?  (Let Mr. P know if you want the decklist on that one.  Or maybe you shouldn’t…)

Nothing!  Moon is smooth, delicious, and makes losing to Primal Surge 275% more fun! (What’s 275% of zero? Never mind!)
Also, at one point on the Midnight Moon website they had a recipe for how to infuse your Apple Pie moonshine with bacon, which is SO what all my friends are getting for Christmas this year, and which makes Mr P so profoundly happy that he is vegetarian.
(We’re cursing and promoting alcohol on this onel.  I blame society.)

Oh, fine, you want me to talk about Magic cards?  I see how it is.  Well then…
1.  Return to Ravnica

Seriously, what else was this going to be?  Reprinted shock lands, new generals, reprinted shock lands, a return to the guild structure, reprinted shock lands, the possibility of opening foil shock lands, and reprinted shock lands.  Did I mention that they reprinted the shock lands? (Although that new TempleGarden art…good lord.)  RTR was pretty much the most awesome thing they could have done this year for EDH players, and it gets me super psyched for Gatecrash early next year.
(Agreed.  And agreed.  Especially about the Temple Garden art.)

Overall, we got a lot of cool new toys this year.  Also, there is now a Blackberry Midnight Moon, which sounds stupendous.  I was seriously considering starting a Twitter just to hashtag #moonshinetracker, which sounds pretty awesome and maybe 20% legal.
Awesome!
How would you rank the releases of 2012?  Hit up the comments!
Oh, and have a nice end of the world tomorrow.
XO,

->Mr. P