Happy Monday, everyone!  I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend.  I enjoyed a wonderful anniversary dinner with my wife, finally got to see The Dark Knight Rises, and had a great time playing with my son.  I also damn near got heat stroke mowing the lawn and weeding the driveway (don’t ask), and managed to roll my ankle and pull a muscle in my back in the space of one hole on a golf course Sunday morning. 

It’s actually probably a good thing I’m back to work today; who knows what would have gone wrong if I had another day to work on my bathroom renovation…

Anyway, let’s complain about some things Magic-related, and then look at the details of what’s going to be happening when the GDC crew heads out to GenCon later this week.  There’s a bit of vacation scheduling that I’ll throw in there as well.
ABOUT COMMANDER’S ARSENAL…

I’m sure you’ve all seen last week’s Daily MTG update on the mothership by now, but for those of you who missed it, head over here to read up:

Let’s break it down step-by-step-

DOES THAT SAY ‘MSRP $74.99?’

Yup.  Since there have been no retractions from Wizards as of yet, it seems that’s a correct suggested retail price.  Hey – at least you don’t need to worry about buying a Premium Deck Series release this year, right? 

Or something like that…

We’ll get back to this in my closing thoughts, but I’ll say this right now: Damn, that’s a lot of money for eighteen reprinted cards and a big pile of random stuff.

FOIL ALTERNATE ART SYLVAN LIBRARY?!?!?

Yes.  It does seem that Wizards is delivering on the original promise of packing in some solid Commander playables in here.  The smart money is on “foil alternate art CommandTower” for that spoiler card image in there too.  If you follow the link at the bottom over to MTGCommander.net, you’ll notice that there’s a foil Mimeoplasm in there too.  I’m on the fence about that last include; there’s a ton of people that would love to see the generals from last summers Commander Pre-Cons available in foil, but it detracts from the general appeal of this set in my opinion.  (I don’t have a Mimeoplasm deck, so I’m shipping that card in a heartbeat.)

LOOK AT ALL THAT…STUFF?

Yup.  That’s a whole lot of other of odds and ends.  My thoughts in order:

-Sleeves.  That’s a nice throw-in, and some people will be excited.  I prefer Dragon Shields personally, but this seems fine.

-That life-counter thing.  Seems like a pretty cool throw-in.  Looks like it will be coming in different colors too, so that’s neat.  Not a bad idea.

-Double-sided “Battle Marks.”  Er, sure?  Kind of a good idea, I suppose.  Makes it easier for the rest of the table to figure out if the dice on your creatures represent plus or minus counters.  Not the worst throw-in I’ve ever seen.

-Oversized foils.  Some people will be very excited.  Especially those people playing Azuza right now that love carrying around giant cards that don’t fit easily in deck boxes and need to be swapped out for a normal card when someone plays Hallowed Burial.

The oversized foils from the Commander Pre-Cons sitting in the back of my closet are getting lonely, so this is a wonderful gesture for them.

GO AHEAD…OPEN THE FLOODGATES…

First, you’ll notice my liberal usage of the term “throw-in” above.  This is exactly what all of this stuff is.  Counters and spin-downs are nice in theory, but people want to buy these sets for the cards.  (The playable cards….not the oversized ones.)  I’m good with getting handed a bunch of extra things, but I don’t want to feel like I’m paying for them.  Let’s face it…everyone carries dice and everyone already has their decks sleeved up.  If Wizards told you those sleeves and counters and stuff added $25 to the price tag of this set, how many of you would rather just pay fifty bucks instead? 

My point is I want to see seventy-five dollars-worth of cards in that box.

The oversize cards are pure crap in my opinion.  I’ve seen approximately once person use them since last summer, so while I’m sure some of you are excited for these, I’m not sure it’s a proportionately high enough portion of the EDH populace to make it worth an include.  And it’s going to be interesting to see how they came up with the generals they decided to blow up too; again, we’re getting into a grey area where people are going to be paying for product they can’t use.  (Even getting past the fact that I hate oversized cards, I don’t have an Azusa deck.  I don’t want to pay for a big-ass Azuza as a result.)

Again…I want playable cards, dammit.
This takes us back to the price.  Seventy-five dollars is a lot of money to spend on what amounts to a supplement for a casual format.  I need to see that money show up somewhere in the eighteen playable cards to make it personally worthwhile, and that leads us to the next problem in my eyes. 

Here’s how I see things breaking down:

1. Whoops!  Wizards releases an image of the packaging with “MSRP $35.99” on the side, and an apology from whoever fat-fingered the write-up last week.

2. Wizards continues to amaze us by spoiling decent alternate-art card after decent alternate-art card.  High Market?  Nice!  Darksteel Forge?  Cool!  Survival of the Fittest?  Now we’re talking.  And so on.

3. Wizards continues a trend of spoiling the best card in the set first with that Sylvan Library.  Next up?  Another printing of Tormod’s Crypt, followed by Tidings and that sweet alternate-art version of Mirri the Cursed everyone has been waiting for.

Personally, I’m actually hoping for #1.  Since this product is slotting into the same place as the PDS series, and the Commander Pre-Cons were also in the same ballpark price-wise, I think it makes way more sense to shoot for this price-point.  It’s still affordable and interesting, and doesn’t need to be jam-packed with solid cards to be desirable and worth the cost.

I’m not sure if #2 or #3 is the worst-case scenario.  The second is a virtual guarantee that this set will redefine the use of the word “suggested” in MSRP.  This leaves to door open to some sort of important Eternal card getting a reprint (realistically something like Show and Tell, but maybe something horrific like Mana Drain), meaning casual guys who were the target of the release would now need to fight for pricing and availability from competitive players.

Or the third option.  Welcome back to From The Vault: Legends, except way more expensive.

So I’m a little nervous here.  Again, I don’t like hating on being given nice new things to play with for the most part, but this dollar figure is raising all sorts of red flags for me.  I’ll update as more info pops up.

GENCON!

It’s finally here!  This Thursday, at around 2:30 AM EST, I’ll be rolling out of bed and dragging myself into a shower, funneling a gallon of coffee, and heading out the door, bags packed and ready, to grab an early flight to Indianapolis.  (Hopefully, in that order…)

I’ll be journaling and updating social media feeds like a madman over those four days.  Here’s what to expect:

Twitter – @GDCCommander

This is going to be the catch-all, and will have a serious Magic-related slant to it.  You might see some pictures, and I’m sure I’ll be tossing in some thoughts and snarky comments along the way, but for the most part, this is going to be my main source of Magic updates.  As we head to events and try to keep folks updated on what’s happening, this is going to be the main place to find things in general as well.

I’m going to try to document the trip itself a bit more from here.  If you want to see how tired I look leaving my house at 3AM, what the view looks like from the rooftop pool at our hotel, and the sights and sounds of the convention, tune in here regularly.  There will be some Magic content to be sure, but not as much at the Twitter feed.

There’s not going to be a specific Thursday update this week; instead, expect to see some mini-updates over the course of the weekend.  I’m going to try to do some detailed updates each day, in more of a ‘trip journal’ sort of way.  It’ll be fun, irreverent, and hopefully entertaining. 

Feel free to reach back out to me using any of these as well.  We’re going to be enjoying the show and the city, and we’re always up for meeting people along the way if you’re there, or answering questions if you’re not.

IMPORTANT GENCON EVENTS-

Right now, there are two:

-Thursday, 11PM – Commander Constructed Event

This is the big EDH event.  Three rounds, three or four-player pods.  Each player you eliminate nabs you two packs, and the winner takes a box of current product, a copy of From The Vault: Legends, and is qualified for the GenCon Championships, which is some weird-ass tournament on the last day that pays out free rides to GenCon ’13.  The GDC crew will be on-hand and making a run at glory in our own special way.

-Live ‘Dear Azami’

We’ll be tackling a deck on-site for the next installment of my ‘Dear Azami’ series for StarCityGames.com.  Look here for the details.  The quick and dirty is that I’ll update people via Twitter, Facebook, and GDC as to where I’m at over the weekend.  Approach me, ask to be considered, and I’ll take your information.  By the end of the weekend, We’ll have come to a decision as to what lucky person gets the ‘DA’ treatment, and we’ll meet in the CCG hall and get to work.  Should be a really good time.

.   .   .   .   .

That’s about the meat of it.  I’ll be traveling with a crew for this trip, which is what I mean when I refer to “we” instead of “I” above.  Introductions are in order, and we’ll get there as things get moving.  For now-

Mr. P – You know him.  You love him.  Patrick and I go back twenty years or more.  (I’m too old and don’t remember specifics anymore…)  He’s my right-hand man in all things EDH-related, and he’ll be featuring prominently in the festivities and projects all weekend long.

Chad – Resident financial nut and draft/sealed aficionado.  When you hear me make mention of the friend that Mr. P and I ruined EDH for on GDC, this is the guy.  One of my oldest and closest friends.

Tyler – Ntropy online.  Has an unhealthy desire to play rogue Pox decks in Legacy, and may or may not be attempting to make a run at the Legacy Championships at GenCon with said deck.  Another EDH nut like Mr. P and myself, and a valued member of the entourage.  

More on these guys later in the week.

VACATION!

It’s all I ever wanted.  Just as an FYI, I’m headed of with the family to Nantucket for vacation next week, so unless I can sucker someone into find someone willing to create the content and run the updates, GDC will be off the week of August 20th through August 24th.  We’ll be back for regular content on Monday, August 27th.

Thanks, everyone.  Looking forward to the next few days!

àDJ