Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lorwyn/ Shadowmoor Block Reviews

I've been fully playing Magic the Gathering since the Odyssey block came out, but I had bought a few packs throughout my life before then, mostly from Tempest because my brother and I started out in Portal Second Age. Yet, as I may or may not have mentioned before, we stopped for a good deal of time missing out on the Urza block, which many people still consider one of the best blocks ever in the game. When I got back into magic, I'd have cycling decks beating the crap out of me with there life gain and their goblins and even still, that might happen. I'm no amazing Magic player. I think at least a few people would agree with me though that Magic as a whole after that point was a lot less broken.
Until now.
Lorwyn isn't really the problem with me although I loved Lorwyn. Nothing like having your Sliver deck get curb stomped by your opponent playing indestructible treefolk while all you can do is shed a tear because now instead of 7 packs, you can only get 2 or 1 (not even a Friday Night Magic collectors card since the local game store still isn't officiated), but I digress. Lorwyn was like a new Odyssey block (new creatures) trying to play like the Onslaught block with major creature bonuses. My biggest complain was that elves and goblins were involved because if they just been replaced with something new, centaurs and dwarves again per se, the block could have been a lot more self contained. I leave merfolk out though because as a whole, they have been shitted upon in the past except for a few cards and they needed a second chance like dwarves still do. Centaurs I can give or take. As for elementals, they worked well as did the kithkin, who now hold a special place in my heart. Faeries can go off into Glen Eldera or whatever and screw themselves in some sort of dream orgy. Changelings needed to be around in a greater number, I believe.
As a Vorthos player that I mostly am though, what I loved the most was the setting of the world. Lorwyn has produced some very scenic art especially after Time Spiral and I finally have another "Happy Swamp" with brightly colored flowers in the art. Take that emo kids. The idea of twisting around the goblins and elves still was creative, I loved the goblins as sort of sense junkies and the elves as racists( not that I love racists) because it was a step away from what we are used to. Now, I am going to say again, dwarves with their stereotype of being drunks could totally be the sense addicts and the black tinge would still go through and I'd love to see some corrupted centaurs. Elementals fit in well as sort of the spirits of the world and changelings were also a welcome change both adding a innocence in the world. The merfolk kept the basic merfolk "Oh, we are traders in the water, lets go swim" stereotype but that works well. Kithkin for a Vorthos player, didn't do as much for me as they did actually playing the game in this block, a bit too folky for me and the community idea was basically like halflings. Treefolk were treefolk.
Overall, Lorwyn and Morningtide were fun and then everything got screwed up by the goddamn fairies.
I'm preparing to leave for college and so I've been teaching my sister Magic and she has a kithkin deck but she also held some Vorthos like interest in the world. Essentially though, I had to boil down the Lorwyn/Shadoowmoor block to "You have Lorwyn which is your atypical fairy tale world with pretty much everybody getting along well. Then you have then entire world change and everything goes dark."
I don't know who wrote something along these lines but I think Shadowmoor fits the classic idea of, "the only thing we love to see more that peace is peace getting corrupted."
Vorthos wise, I really missed some of the innocence of the Lorwyn world with the bright pictures and happiness. We got more Magic dark art, which while it can be all fine and good, has been used to much. In some ways, it just reset the status quo with goblins becoming savages again and elves becoming the defenders of justice. That was a bit meh for me. Elementals got all mopey and/or filled with rage and started taking it out on everything. Merfolk went from traders to pirates and essentially followed the "Oh, we are pirates in the water, lets go swim," idea with a dash of elemental rage-mope. Fairies were fairies. Treefolk for the most part died out as did changelings but the kithkin vastly improved. They changed from a tight knit community to one of xenophobic people. I loved the change with their eyes becoming wide open and yellow and I think it helped to make them stronger. They also introduced some new races but really, I didn't give a damn about the story for this world anymore, straight on gameplay time had come.
As for gaming, I refer back to the original section on the Urza block in which it was broken and for many years the playing field was uneven. Shadowmoor went, laughed, and then said "I can't let you do that, Urza blocks," and then proceeded to make cards that have not only insured that they will continue to be used after the block en masse, but that they will also get you to pull out your Ravnica cards and stick them in for fun. When you make a card that gives +2/+2 and flying and indestructable for three mana, you are just asking for shit to go down. Autochthon Wurm anybody? Another great thing was that they simultaneously killed the indestructable ability with wither. Finally your weenie deck can seek revenge against those 12/12s. Also, grandeur is a great idea, but we needed more of it.
Now I realize that I barely wrote any notes about Lorwyn keywords and that is because in my memory, there was nothing too fancy. Sure you had racial keywords and changeling but nothing else that important comes to mind. The two blocks/mini blocks were radically different, to me at least, but a great point to start collecting or drafting. Hopefully Shards of Alara can make a mark too.
Also, new Magic the Gathering site is up. Give it a look and next week I should be back with something else nerdy to talk about.

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