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Monday, 7 January 2013

2012 - The Magic Year in Review...

So, Christmas and New Year are over, I started to write this blog at the end of 2012 and then started playing on my Xmas present from Rob - Minecraft on the 360, and that was that.  The world didn't end on the 21st December and so we have a whole lot of Magic to look forward too.  As it will be New Years Eve when this goes live on the Internet it seemed only right to jump on the ubiquitous band wagon and do one of those "Review of the Year" things that they love to do rather than make new TV programs.  

Firstly lets have a look at the year that was on a monthly basis;


Standard was a tale of two decks (what a surprise) with UW Delver and Wolf Run Ramp.  People were pondering flipping their Delvers and Thrun the Last Troll was waving a bunch of burning swords around.  January also saw the Pre-Release of Dark Ascension the second set in the Innistrad block.  Sadly there were too few outstanding cards to follow on effectively from the monster that was Innistrad.

*Sigh* It had to be didn't it...


The release of Dark Ascension was both frustrating and disappointing.  What had been one of the best limited environments ever suddenly had one less good booster in it and the experience became worse not better.  At Pro-Tour Dark Ascension Brian Kibler faced John Finkel in an epic encounter.  Sadly John Finkel proved that no one blocks at Pro Tour and Kibler had triple Galvanic Blast for the win (yes really).  Meanwhile, Zombies started eating brains in standard.

One of the other things from Pro Tour was how good is this guy!


Rumour was rife in March with a new banned and restricted list due out.  Delver was too powerful, Snapcaster was going to be banned, Vapor Snag was going to be banned etc.  In the end they banned Lingering Souls and Intangible Virtue in block constructed.  Everyone said "Oh yeah, that makes sense".  

Suddenly every other word out of players mouth was "Tempo"

Would have been the biggest anti-climax ever, but then we had...


We had been told earlier in the year that we would no longer get promos or support for release weekend but would rather have a Release FNM Promo.  We were also told that we would have a new and unique addition to future pre-releases to offset this loss.  So we got to Avacyn Restored - a meh set if ever there was one, with a few stand out cards (Bonfire of the Damned, Terminus, Cavern of Souls) but not much else.  Pre-release was centred around opening the Helvault to claim its contents!  This was a fantastic piece of marketing, that with just a little more care and attention to the contents would have been a game changer.  Sadly as I predicted (smug mode on) the only thing it held was disappointment.  Wizards consider this a triumph as they got loads of people to pre-release and not many people complained about it!

I keep this at home, as a reminder of why we can't have nice things...

April would have been a massive let down all over had we not also had the news that the October set would be called "Return to Ravnica" - nice save WotC!


We had another Pro-Tour which was block constructed and won by Alexander Hayne with a highly tricky and technical miracles deck...

Lucky top decking seemed to be the flavour of the month and RUW miracles wasn't a thing unless your name was Rob Tinsley.  We had some Magic World Cup qualifiers - these didn't make up for not having any Nationals any more.

Can you deal with my mad top decking skillz?

June saw the latest instalment of the highly popular Duels of the planeswalkers on Xbox, PS3 and  steam for PC.  The promos were from M13 and came in a mini-booster with some other cards from the new core set.  Duels also featured planechase for the first time.  This was the first year that I didn't buy it on Xbox 360 and Steam (the PC promo was Serra avatar).  This was the month we also got a new set of planechase decks.  Sadly by this point I found the whole game about as enjoyable as having hot needles inserted into your nether regions and decided to give it all a break till M13 came out in July.

Planechase complete with Bloodbraid Elf and frickin' Ninjas!

M13 and FNM Relax.  This was a good time to be playing MTG.  A new slightly down powered core set with some great cards - Omniscience, Thragtusk, Far Seek, Tormod's Crypt etc.  We also instigated this blog and FNM Relax - an alternative FNM for those whole didn't want to play like they were at Pro Tour all the time and finish early enough to go to the pub.  That seems to have turned out quite well so far - but more on the future of FNM Relax on Friday (spoiler alert)!  On a personal note I also won Pre-release for the first time which was pretty sweet.

Combine with tokens and Kill You!


We got to see our first official Returm to Ravnica card in Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord.  People still maintained that Shock Lands would not be back in the set - boy how dumb do they look now!  It was announced that Pro Tour is coming to Ireland in 2013 - no wonder Rich Fuller keeps going to PTQs.

We also had announcements for Commander's Arsenal (I'm still going what the hell on this one) and we had Zombies Rising to tier one.  Another nice addition to the whole affair was Planeswalker points achivements.  Every Xbox owner will tell you we love achievements!

Getting there in Zombies.


Was all about Return to Ravnica.  Sweet shock lands and cracking cards like Abrupt Decay, Sphinx's Revelation and others.  The guild packs were flavourful and fun, enhancing the pre-release experience unlike the dreaded Helvault.  People had fun and FNM Relax got more players.  Delver also had its last hoorah as the imminent depature of Ponder and Vapor Snag spelt its doom.  I don't think many tears were shed as Scars block went bye bye to make way for Ravnica (part 2).

Oh they also unbanned Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle in Modern, cause that is a fun deck to play in a format.

Did we really ever need to see this monstrosity again?


Ravnica is on the shelves and Delver dies for lack of Tempo!  Everyone is very keen and no one really notices that Return to Ravnica is great for value but overall is a bit lacklustre.  We also started a new era in Sheffield MTG with the first Patriot Sheffield Invitational tournament and the creation of the Steel City Patriots from the top 6 at the invitational.

How good are these cards?


Undoubtably the best part of a great month in Magic was the Sheffield PTQ, not just a PTQ but the Carlsberg of PTQs.  Great turn out, top side events and a Sheffield local in the  final.  Thanks to Nick for doing the results table without a hitch, I had to say that as he is sitting next to me right now... (LOL)

Almost an auto win in limited.


Sadly we don't get another of the world's best PTQs in Sheffield but Manchester still have their PTQ that they have every season.  Thank god for Manchester the Gathering or is it Wizards of the Manc?  December ends with the first official spoilers from Gatecrash the follow up set for the Return to Ravnica block.

Sorry for the gap in blogs this was due to me needing a break over Christmas and New Year and then falling prey to MInecraft - please see my Pyramids below.  If I can keep off Minecraft for the week I will be back on Friday with more.  Don't forget this Friday it is the debut of "Proper" Pauper where any common goes except Frantic Search and Cranial Plating.

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