Hello everyone, how’s it going? Welcome back to my blog. It’s been a bit of a busy week in the world of Magic and I’m going to be talking in depth about one of the announced releases today.
I’ve managed to get some hobby progress done. As committed to last week I was able to unpack all of my Magic cards, as you can see below.
I’ve managed to catalogue around 35% of them so far, so I’m making good progress.
What’s not been going well is Project K. I’ve been dragging my heels on that and whilst I’ve done a little of it, it’s currently sitting at around 15% finished. I’m actually planning on focussing on it this week, so hopefully it’ll get done in time.
As mentioned last week, I managed to get a few more hours of FTL in. I’m trying to complete the game with every ship on every difficulty setting but have been having some problems with one ship in particular right now (Slug B on Hard, in case anyone’s interested).
This week’s hobby commitments are to continue with what I’ve been doing; sorting cards and finishing Project K. Hopefully, once I’ve managed to finish sorting the cards I can get going on building some decks, but that’ll only happen after I’ve finished the sorting.
It’s life, Jace, but not as we know it
As you might have heard, Wizards of the Coast announced last Monday their next year’s worth of Magic products that will be released. If you haven’t heard about it, you can read it here.
Frankly, pretty much everything on that list excites me. I’m looking forward to visiting Kaladesh, and very much looking forward to drafting Conspiracy – Take the Crown (I actually have a Conspiracy set Cube, which can be seen in the long, white card box in the photo above, as I’m a huge fan of that set and drafting format). I’m slightly less looking forward to Commander 2016, as I’m a little concerned that the theme announced, four-colour decks, is going to mean that we’re getting up to 15 shoehorned-in four-colour Legends when Wizards have previously said that it’s a tough area for them to work in. Nonetheless, I’ll still be anxiously awaiting any further news on C16.
Today, I’m going to focus on one of the other products announced: the Planechase Anthology. I’m a huge fan of Planechase, having gotten into it via Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 and subsequently buying each of the decks and, eventually, all of the promotional Planes.
If you’re unaware of what Planechase is, Planechase is a way of representing Planeswalkers duels (aka games of Magic) that take place on multiple planes throughout the multiverse, with the battle shifting from one realm to another in the blink of an eye as the Planeswalkers involved (I.e. the players playing the game) Planeshift from one plane to another.
Planechase is a variant of Magic that can be tacked on to any other format. Each player has a Planar Deck, consisting of at least 10 oversized Plane and Phenomenon cards, representing places in the multiverse that battles could take place on as well as random events that might occur during the skirmish, each of which has a unique mechanical effect on the game. Alternatively, a single Planar Deck might be shared amongst all players (this is the variant I’ve always played, since I was the only player in my playgroup with a Planar Deck). A special die is used as a randomisation factor to determine when the battlefield changes and when random “Chaos” effects happen.
I love Planechase, for the following reasons:
- It’s random,
- It’s immersive, and,
- It’s fun.
Planechase is an inherently random format. From the use of the Planar Die (which gives you a 1/6 chance of a Chaos event happening, a 1/6 chance of Planeswalking, and a 2/3 chance of nothing at all happening) to the random, global effect of the next Plane or Phenomenon, Planechase has a much higher element of randomness than other types of Magic. And I love it.
Some of the Plane and Phenomenon effects are super random, too. Morphic Tide, Planewide Disaster, and Reality Shaping are three Phenomena that are a free, uncounterable Warp World, Day of Judgment, and Show and Tell (with the addition of Planeswalkers) each. Cliffside Market can turn a losing position into a winning one, Grove of the Dreampods gives you a random creature each turn, and the Hedron Fields of Agadeem can give you some massive token creatures on the roll of the Planar Die.
For me, one of the benefits of playing Planechase is that you’re more immersed in the game. By travelling between various places in the multiverse and seeing cards that represent them you feel much more like an actual Planeswalker navigating the Blind Eternities as you attempt to overcome your opponent/s. You can visit well-known Planes, such as Ravnica, Zendikar, or Mirrodin, and visit new places we haven’t seen before, such as Azgol, Xerex, or Belenon.
Fun is a subjective term. For me I love both of the aforementioned aspects. I love that the next roll of the Planar Die could completely change the way the game is playing and turn winners into losers, or vice versa. I love that I get to take more of a roleplaying role whilst playing Magic. The whole experience is fun for me.
Having said all of that, I know that other people don’t like Planechase, for the following reasons:
- It’s random,
- It’s immersive, and,
- It’s not fun.
Planechase is an inherently random format. If you’re the sort of person who prefers to play games of Magic to show that you’re the best player around, you want to try and reduce the effect that randomness has on your game. Playing a format that INCREASES the amount of randomness isn’t one that you’re going to be a fan of.
For a number of people, Magic is just a game. It’s a bunch of cards that are used to play a game. They don’t care about immersion, they don’t care about the story, they don’t care about being a Planeswalker, and they don’t care about travelling through the multiverse. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that; people enjoy the game in different ways. But, for those people, the immersion that Planechase presents is not only not a positive but can be an active detriment.
It’s Not Fun
Fun is a subjective term. Some people don’t find the randomness fun and others don’t find the immersion fun.
Even I’ve had unfun times playing Planechase, and I’m one of Planechase’s biggest fans. I remember a four-player Planechase game that was terrible for all involved. We planeswalked to Lethe Lake very early in the game and spent the majority of the next few turns desperately spending all of our mana to try and prevent us from decking ourselves, but because of the randomness of the Planar Die we just couldn’t manage to planeswalk away. Most of us ended up with ten to twenty cards left in our libraries and next to no board state. It wasn’t a fun game for any of us.
We Come In Peace; Lightning Bolt!
Overall, if you’re more of a casual Magic player then Planechase is the kind of game for you. Spikier players can still enjoy it if they check their Spikier tendencies at the door or play with a like-minded group of people (I’d imagine that the core rules, where each player has their own Planar Deck, would be more appropriate for a Spike, since they can tailor their own Planar Deck to suit their own deck), but it’s not necessarily right for them.
Another variant of Planechase that I’d like to try is The Eternities Map variant. Instead of flipping a card blindly off of the top of the Planar Deck, there’s a grid-like map made up of a number of Planes that you can planeswalk to. It allows for a little more strategy and planning.
If you get the chance to pick up a copy of the Planechase Anthology when it becomes available then I’d wholeheartedly recommend doing so. It’s a fun way to spice up Magic games amongst your gaming group.
Oh… and one final thing. When rolling the Planar Die, make sure to take care about how high you toss it. This is the result one of my friends had when he tossed it a little too high and it came down point first…
That’s a visible dent in the card from where a Planar Die’s corner dropped on it from a height of a few feet. Don’t be that guy.
That’s about all I’ve got time for today. Thank you for taking the time to read all of it. If there’s anything here that you’ve read about that you’d like to discuss then please feel free to write a comment below.
May your Planar Dice always roll Chaos.
Liam, aka MT.