Ben Calica

Ben is the owner of D20 Games.

Games-Special “stuck at home” Drive Up Mystery Loot Game Bags

Ok…two problems with a common solution.

  1. The next month is gonna be a tough one for us as a store as business drops to the floor.
  2. Its a stir crazy time for people who are home from school or work.

We know that new board games are a great solution, and we will be here to give good recommendations, and will work hard this week to see if we can try and become able to take orders online and we are going to try and see if we can actually spin up doing home delivery of nicely disinfected games.

In the meantime, we figured out something cool we could do right away.

Mystery Loot Bags.  These are bags that we are selling for a suggested donation of $60 that have at least 3 or more games with a retail value between $80-$120. (sometimes with bonus demo games thrown in.  These are $60 including tax, so if you have cash,  give us a call about 5 minutes before and then when you are down the street and we will bring it out to you.

If you can, we really appreciate the support over the next little bit.  It means a lot to us, and this way we can be here when this is all done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s a Responsible Game Store to Do?

I’ve been struggling with the right thing to do at the shop to be good ducks right now and it is very tough. We don’t wanna be over the top, but we also really want to make sure we keep people safe and do our part to help as we can.  And we can also see how we can shift the business so we are still around when the cough’s clear.

Last week we replaced our usual tablecloths with the not as pretty ones we had that we used for parties, since we can clean/disinfect them. And before we did the magic draft where we passed the cards around we had everyone use disinfectant hand wipes.  Seemed a bit overly cautious at the time, but not so much at this point.  We are trying to figure out the best ways to make events at the store as safe as we can, including lots of disinfectant and even limiting the number of people at the events to insure more space.

We also know that we actually have something to offer to help so that people who are stuck at home as an alternative to video games or getting utterly sucked into phones.  We are going to look into trying figure out how to get people games in ways that don’t necessarily require coming into the store. And we are looking at creating game events for (limited) amonts of kids during the days when they are off school.  We don’t want these to be lots of people coming in and out, instead we need it to be less people who are staying with  a small group for the day.

So here is what we are doing as of now:

  1. Friday Night Magic will be 4 pack sealed instead of a draft:
    For the next few weeks everyone will get a “prize” Pack with the normal 3 and then the prizes will be promo packs for the top 4 players.  Since we now have the Mystery Packs ($5)  in, and were gonna do the drafts for $20 anyway, this should still be plenty of fun, sort of a Chaos Sealed. –Limiting to 26 players to insure there is enough space to have between people.
  2. We are gonna be suspending the Pokemon League for the next 3 weeks at least.  Don’t think there is any way to insure the little ones keep their fingers out of eyes, and mouths between playing/trading.
  3. Enforcing the 6 person max for D&D so there can be space between folks at the tables.
  4. Well–don’t be sick.  😉  We are all doing our best through this, but one of the biggest things is if yer coughing etc, don’t take the chance.  The truth is that a pretty good percentage of the folks who come to the store are young enough that they will likely be fine though this, but that don’t mean that they might not inadvertently pass it on to another kid.  No big deal unless they end up inadvertently passing it on to their grandma.  So to protect all our grandmas…don’t take the chance…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Success!!! A huge pile of random kindness….The Great “Givings” Sale-holiday hours and Recommendations…

Success!!!!  After filling the box for the firefighters, we (you guys and us) ended up putting together about $650 worth of games to give to the  Midway Woman’s shelter!!!  Thanks so much for supporting us so we could do some random kindness together. 

We’re gonna do a clearance sale through the end of the year….a bunch of special, but the best is a buy one at regular price and pick one for $10 on some games up to $90 (the $10 must be equal or less then the purchased item…usual deal.)

New this year….We not be offering any savings for our sales this year…we’re doing Givings instead.  Instead of trying to out cheap Amazon, we’re opting for going for being good people.  There has been way too much of the opposite in the world these days.  And the best way I know to deal with selfishness and bullying is with fierce kindness.    So from now till the end of the holiday season, I’m gonna ask that you save a little chunk of your gift $$ to spend with us, and in exchange,  when you buy gifts from us, together we will give more gifts for those who are a little short of random kindness.  Spend $50 or more, put a $10 gift into the big box, $100 and put up to a $20 gift, etc.   We have a bunch of great games and goodies that we’ve hand picked for the holidays, including good games for getting everyone off of screens for both thanksgiving and the rest of the holidays.

-Holiday Hours

Date Open Close
Fri Dec 20th 3:30 pm 11 pm
Sat Dec 21st 11 am 9:30 pm
Sun Dec 22nd 11 am 9:30 pm
Mon Dec 23rd Noon 10 pm
Tues Dec 24th 10:30 am 7 pm (maybe later..call)
Wed Dec 25th Noon ???
Thurs Dec 26th 2 pm 7 pm


The great battle—Face to Face, not face to screen this year!
Thanks for supporting Local and our good excuse to do so….(swapping discounts for what counts) 
I know how hard it is to continue to make the choice to support local, particularly in the face of online places that end up selling things for often close to what we pay. And I really wanted to thank you for it.

Replacing Savings with Givings:
We decided to try and do something to make it easier to feel good about that, and are continuing our Givings vs. Savings approach this year.(For those of you who don’t know, what we are doing is for every 50 bucks someone spends, we get to put 10 bucks to a game to go into the giveaway box.  The world is full of people who had to leave abusive situations in the middle of the night with their families and not much else, with too many folks who lost everything in fires, or with just folks who barely have enough to scrape by, where a little random kindness goes a long, long way.)  From now till the end of the holidays, we will be gathering games for the Alameda Woman’s shelter.  When people need to get out of dangerous situations, they grab the kids and some clothes and go, they don’t wait to grab toys and games.  But when they are out, they have kids that are scared and displaced, so if there was ever a time to find some ability to get your mind off things and connect and laugh a little bit, that is it.  It’s one of the places where a small bit of random kindness can have a huge amount of impact.  We aren’t gonna be able to be cheaper then the online folks, but we can absolutely be kinder. 😉

Investing in Face to face (vs face to screen:
As we find our kids (and ourselves) getting more and more drawn into the siren’s call of the screens, it requires more and more effort to establish the patterns of seeing the smiles in each other’s eyes, not the emoji’s of them, of actually LOL (you know laughing out loud is actually better when it’s, well, out loud.).  I know I own a game shop, and my job is to sell games, but the real reason I like it is because games are a great excuse for people to connect with each other.
For parents, the sooner you can establish the regular game night, the more it will weather through the great cell battle to come.  And a big recommendation on my part is that you get a bucket/basket and make a big deal of dropping your phones in before you start. (set up an auto-response or send out a message to those trying to get through to you that you are offline except for emergencies during that time.  It’s the best way to model that there are times when it’s ok to let the flow of social media know that you are out of touch for a little bit.  It will pay off later.)  We have a bunch of games that are co-op…i.e. everybody together against the game that are good for different ages playing together.  And one of the best thing is one of the Legacy games.  These are board games that actually change with what happens every-time you play, so instead of “what will we play tonight” it becomes “what is gonna happen next?”.  A lot of these games work great for couples too.

We don’t tend to stock a million games, but we are pretty careful about the ones we pick and we have a number that we are putting in the spotlight this year that we stocked up on.

Advice gift guide for Magic/pokemon

Gift Guide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D20 Recommended Games

Recommended games  Who is it good for
Planet All , Families Image result for planet gameFrom the makers of Dr. Eureka and Photosynthesis comes a game that is like a 3d puzzle version of King domino (another recommended game)…simple yet pretty interesting.   see video review here  
Godsforge Tweens and up…anyone who likes MTG Godsforge Godsforge was Ben’s fav game at the last big game store owners show.  It’s kind of like Magic meets Yatzee. Extremely well designed and just a ton of fun.  Extremely highly recommended and a great game for magic players when you don’t know what they already have.
Tiny Towns Adults, Famlies, Party This is one of the first games I’ve seen where people can just enter and leave the game without it being a problem. Sort of like town building Tertris, the goal is to get the best score by making interesting combos of buildings with the block that the next person in line picks in turn. Want a better score, stick around a do another card.  Need to go check the pies, let someone else hop in.  The game is great and it is easy to imagine it being played by different people all day, with the top score on the fridge whiteboard.
Cover Your Kingdom (Cover your Assets follow on) All Image result for cover your kingdomWhen the all time fav game in the store (Cover Your Assets) gets an “absurdly ruthless spinoff”, you think it isn’t going on our recommended list?  Preview here 
Trekking the National Parks All
Mice and Mystics All Image result for mice and mystics Redwall meets self running D&D in this coop family game that is great to play with parents and kids together. More info here and here 
Coop games/Legacy Games 
Dark Souls Board Game
Mansions of Madness
Hogwarts Battles
Gloomhaven
Terraforming Mars

 

On Sale Reg Price Sale Price
Ogre $
Terraforming Mars

 

 

Thanksgiving Sales: Relax…go play…we’ll be here- ;-)

Enough…Thanksgiving is for being with people, not shopping….

(This is a mostly a repost…but hey…we’ve been doing the same thing every year)

New this year….We not be offering any savings for our sales this year…we’re doing Givings instead.  Instead of trying to out cheap Amazon, we’re opting for going for being good people.  There has been way too much of the opposite in the world these days.  And the best way I know to deal with selfishness and bullying is with fierce kindness.    So from now till the end of the holiday season, I’m gonna ask that you save a little chunk of your gift $$ to spend with us, and in exchange,  when you buy gifts from us, together we will give more gifts for those who are a little short of random kindness.  Spend $50 or more, put a $10 gift into the big box, $100 and put up to a $20 gift, etc.   We have a bunch of great games and goodies that we’ve hand picked for the holidays, including good games for getting everyone off of screens for both thanksgiving and the rest of the holidays.

We are Closed for Thanksgiving…Open at 1pm  on Friday the 29th. (maybe earlier depending on when I can get back…but that will be bonus.)

Black Friday =Family Friday
Every year. I do my traditional Thanksgiving thing, and stand up against the marketing Tsunami  and become a foolish business guy. 

I’m not going to be part of the industry that has done such an amazing job of implanting in our minds that it is SHOPPING time, that we have forgotten that this is a day where our family/friends have often traveled a big distance, are together and don’t have to go to work.   Don’t go shopping on Friday (or Thursday night, etc).  Not in the stores, not on line, none of it.

Go play!!!  Sure, I’m the board game guy, so that’s my auto suggestion, but go for a walk, hike, de-dust the football (and stretch first..those of us who’s memories of being 12 are a few times older then being 12.)  But go goof with each other, and have some (gasp) fun!  Relax, go back to the leftovers a bunch of times when no one is looking. Or just chill out.

I’m not saying we don’t want and need yer business.  We absolutely do.  Competing with the near cost prices of Amazon means that every sale from customers who appreciate that we are creating a home for community more then anything else is absolutely key for us.  (So save some of your gift money to spend with us).  But it does mean that I’m not going to make my sales last 45 minutes so you have no choice but to leave the house in order to get them.  We’ll be doing sales all week , but we’ll base them on how many we need to sell at that price so, you can come in this weekend, or next week, etc.

Our big thing is to make sure that we listen and can point you to things that will actually be fun to play and make people happy.  (And no fake reviews either.  Ok…that was a little shot at Amazon…couldn’t help myself.)

Coming…list to a page of our recommended gifts for this year, as well as any other special stuff.  But for right now, just think about special stuffing.  (Ok…if you come into the store today, you can get some great games to play over the holiday.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throne Of Edraine : Who you calling a Gingerbread Man?

Throne of Eldraine

Throne of Eldraine

Prince Charming vs. the Gingerbread man?  Yep!  In this new set, you get to adventure in Fairytale land, till the quest is complete or your golden goose gets cooked. (Yeah, I went there…I have in will continue to assert my store owner given rights to tell really bad dad puns at will.) 

The set looks super fun, with enough different fairytale mythologies to give Shrek a run for it’s (gingerbread cookies.)  The new mechanics include

  • Beanstalk GiantAdventure, which is a creature that has an option of casting the adventure(an instant or sorcery, and then later casting the creature part from exile.
  •  Adamant: where casting something with lots of a particular color land isn’t required, but sure gives some nice bonuses. 
  • Food:  This created artifact always has the ability to pay 2 and gain 3 life, but can also be used to feed the effects of other cards in the set. 

    Note:  This will be the second time we are adding prerelease events to the Firday as well.  The first one is an event for kids 14 and younger starting at 3 pm (It’s ok to be a little later…they have between 3-4 to build their decks).  And we are doing an adult (14 and older, at 7:30).  Even though we are running more events, we have the same limit on the number of prerelease kits.  This  way, there is more space for the players over the whole weekend. (So sign up in advance as much as you can.  As usual, online sales end an hour before the events start.)

The new events. 

A Friday 3pm Jr. sealed that is aimed at kids 16 and younger. (We are doing the standard Date Night Magic rules that adults can play, but any prize they would win playing against kids goes to the kids)

And a 7:30 pm Grown Up (17+) only event that will be a little more expensive, but have double prizes.

Both of these events will be 3 rounds, win a round, win a pack (two in the case of the adult event).


 

Magic Core 2020 : Angels, Demons, Dragons & Knights (oh, and Leylines

Core 2020

 

Core 2020

The biggest news with the Core 2020 set is that they have changed the rules for the Prereleases and we can now do events on the Friday.  So we’ve added two events.  That also means a big change in terms of the number of people in each event.  We are going to limit the number of people in each of the events over the weekend more then usual.  We are running more events, but have the same limit on the number of prerelease kits we have,  and this way, there is more space for the players over the whole weekend. So sign up in advance as much as you can.  As usual, online sales end an hour before the events start.

The new events. 

A Friday 3pm Jr. sealed that is aimed at kids 16 and younger. (We are doing the standard Date Night Magic rules that adults can play, but any prize they would win playing against kids goes to the kids)

And a 7:30 pm Grown Up (17+) only event that will be a little more expensive, but have double prizes.

Both of these events will be 3 rounds, win a round, win a pack (two in the case of the adult event).


 

Sword of Truth and Justice

Modern Horizons–MTG’s first direct to Modern Set

Modern Horizons

Modern Horizons

This is an interesting set.  Sitting between a standard sets($3.99) and the carefully picked reprints of the Masters sets ($12.99-29.99 per pack), this is their first set that introduces new cards that go directly to the Modern format.    For those who don’t know, standard is basically the last couple of years of sets, (think equivalent to being the best in your high school).  Modern is like the last 12 years, so the cards that get used in Modern are the best from a much bigger pool of cards.  So for Wizards to make a set designed to go straight to Modern, it shouldn’t be surprising that the power of the cards needs to be big time. 

From the wizards web site about the mechanics used

Slivers – Slivers, the favorite creature type of at least one R&D member, are back! Each Sliver contributes something to the hive, giving every other Sliver you control some ability, a power/toughness boost, or a related bonus. Sometimes the bonus isn’t for Slivers on the battlefield but, rather, Sliver spells you cast. Older Slivers were even friendlier, also helping out your opponents’ Slivers, but they’ve learned that isn’t always the smoothest path to victory.

Snow – Snow, the third-favorite supertype of at least one R&D member, is back! Snow acts as a kind of marker. It doesn’t have any inherent rules meaning, but spells and abilities can refer to it for various effects. The snow mana symbol is represented by S in rules text (it looks like a snowflake). It’s a cost that can be paid for by any one mana produced by a snow permanent . . . like the gorgeous full-art snow basic lands!

Changeling – A creature with changeling is every creature type no matter where it is. Its type line may say Shapeshifter, but that’s decorative. It’s also a Human, a Merfolk, a Goat, a Warrior, a Coward, an Ooze, a Bear, a Sliver . . . it’s everything.

Cycling – Cycling is an activated ability, letting you pay a cost and discard the card with cycling from your hand to draw a new card. Don’t have what you need for the situation in front of you? Cycling gives you another shot to find the perfect card.

Battle cry – Battle cry was a favored tactic for the scrappy-but-still-kinda-doomed Mirran resistance. Maybe this new guy will have better luck. Whenever a creature with battle cry attacks, each other attacking creature gets +1/+0 until end of turn. Great for aggressive swarm attacks and people who like arithmetic.

Buyback – Buyback gives you an additional cost, paid as you cast the spell along with all its other costs. After you follow all the spell’s instructions, if the buyback cost was paid, you put the card back into your hand and not into your graveyard. Note that this works only if the spell actually resolves. If it’s countered or it doesn’t resolve because its targets became illegal, buyback won’t work, and the card will end up in the graveyard. Caveat emptor.

Cascade – Cascade gives you free spells! Who doesn’t love free spells? When you cast a spell with cascade, exile cards from the top of your library until you exile a nonland card with a lesser converted mana cost. Then, you may cast that spell without paying its mana cost. If you do, it goes on the stack on top of the original spell, meaning it will resolve first. Before anything resolves, put the other exiled cards on the bottom of your library in a random order. If the new spell also has cascade, you get to do it all over again.

Convoke – While casting a spell with convoke, you can tap untapped creatures you control to help pay for it. Tapping a creature this way covers one mana of any of that creature’s colors. Useful if you have some board presence but find yourself short on mana for your top-end threats.

Dash – Dash is an alternative cost. If you cast a creature spell for its dash cost, it gets haste. The catch is if the creature is still on the battlefield at the beginning of the next end step, it’s returned to its owner’s hand. But if you need a quick strike, dash is there for you.

Delve – Like convoke, delve gives you a way to help pay for the spell with the ability. Each card you exile from your graveyard while casting a spell with delve pays for one generic mana. However, unlike convoke, delve can’t help you with the colored mana requirements. Load up that graveyard and cast massive spells for little mana.

Devour – Who’s hungry? As a creature with devour enters the battlefield, it can eat (that is, you can sacrifice) any number of creatures. For each one it eats (that is, you sacrificed), it enters with some number of +1/+1 counters (that is, the devour number). Yum!

Dredge – A Golgari original, dredge lets you fish specific cards out of your graveyard. Any time you would draw a card, you can instead put the specified number of cards from the top of your library into your graveyard. If you do, return the card with dredge from your graveyard into your hand. Ideally, you fill your graveyard with even more dredge cards, giving you potent options as the game goes on.

Echo – Cards with echo usually cost a little less than they otherwise would, or with an added bonus. The catch is at the beginning of your next upkeep, you either have to pay the echo cost or sacrifice them. But if you’re willing to stretch out payments over two turns, you can quickly develop a strong battlefield.

Echo – Cards with echo usually cost a little less than they otherwise would, or with an added bonus. The catch is at the beginning of your next upkeep, you either have to pay the echo cost or sacrifice them. But if you’re willing to stretch out payments over two turns, you can quickly develop a strong battlefield.

Entwine – Modal cards give you a menu of choices in the form of a bulleted list. When you cast a modal spell, you choose which mode you’re using. For an additional cost, entwine gives you a better choice: all of them!

Evoke – Evoke is an alternative cost, usually one more affordable than the creature’s mana cost. Casting the creature for its evoke cost gives you faster access to its enters- or leaves-the-battlefield ability, but you must sacrifice the creature just after it shows up.

Evolve – Growing an extra tentacle or spleen out of nowhere can be surprisingly effective in battle. When a creature enters the battlefield under your control that has greater power or toughness than your creature with evolve, the creature with evolve gets a +1/+1 counter.

Exalted – Honored are those who charge into battle while we sit back here and just watch, thank you very much. Exalted is all about attacking with a single, hopefully unstoppable attacker. Whenever a creature you control attacks alone, it gets +1/+1 until end of turn for each instance of exalted among permanents you control. Suit up, and get in there!

Exploit – Whenever a creature with exploit enters the battlefield, you can sacrifice a creature. A fantastic deal, no? Of course, we gave each exploit creature another ability that gives you a bonus for doing this, so you’re not just offing your own creatures for fun.

Fateful hour – Fateful hour is an ability word that highlights cards that get better if you’re almost dead. Your life total is a resource after all, so being at 5 or less life isn’t the end of the world, and hopefully fateful hour cards give you what you need to hang on and stage a comeback.

Flashback – Casting instants and sorceries just once is so late 1990s. Flashback lets you cast an instant or sorcery from your graveyard, after which the card is exiled. Just pay the flashback cost rather than the mana cost and you’re ready to go retro.

Hellbent – Cards in hand are just cards you haven’t used to pulverize your opponent yet, so what’s the point of a full grip? Hellbent is an ability word used on abilities that care about you having no cards in hand.

Hideaway – A permanent with hideaway enters the battlefield tapped, but when it does, look at the top four cards of your library and exile one face down for safe keeping. The hideaway card will tell you what you can do with the card once it’s in exile. It’s a secret to everyone. Well, not you. You looked at the card. It’s a secret to everyone else.

Kicker – Kicker is the purest form of many additional cost mechanics that followed. Simply put, pay more to get more. Kicker gives you an optional additional cost and some sort of bonus for paying it, or “kicking” the spell. A workhorse mechanic that can give early-game cards additional punch in the late game.

Level up – Levelers have a distinctive partitioned card frame with three sets of stats. They start at level 0 (don’t we all?), and the level up ability gives you a cost you can pay as a sorcery to give the creature a level counter. Increased levels give these creatures better stats and new abilities.

Manifest – To manifest a card is to put it onto the battlefield face down as a 2/2 creature. If it’s a creature card, you can turn it face up by paying its mana cost. Turning it face up doesn’t use the stack and can’t be responded to. Surprise!

Modular – Modular is found on artifact creatures and means two things.

“Modular N” means it enters the battlefield with N +1/+1 counters on it, and when it dies, you can put all its +1/+1 counters on target artifact creature. They’re like building blocks, but instead of making a giant castle or a spaceship, you make a terrifying artifact to decimate your opponents.

Monstrosity – Bigger is better, and monstrosity is a one-time activated ability that gives the creature some +1/+1 counters and makes it monstrous. Sorry, MONSTROUS! Some creature with monstrosity abilities also have other bonuses for being monstrous. For example, it might pick up flying. Flying would be cool.

Morbid – Morbid abilities have various effects, but they all care in some way that a creature died earlier in the turn. It doesn’t matter who controlled the creature, so while taking out your opponent’s forces is usually a good thing, decks that rely on morbid abilities tend to include a few sacrifice outlets and good fodder for them.

Ninjutsu – If you’ve seen Ninjas before, you’ve probably seen ninjutsu. Impressive. Ninjutsu is an activated ability you can activate when the Ninja is in your hand. As a cost, you pay some mana and return an unblocked attacking creature you control to its owner’s hand. When the ninjutsu ability resolves, the Ninja enters the battlefield tapped and attacking whatever player or planeswalker the creature you returned was attacking. Plot twist! The creature was a Ninja all along. Hopefully your opponent doesn’t see it coming.

Outlast – Sometimes your battle plan is less “hit ’em quick, get out fast” and more “stay alive until this horror show has past.” Outlast is an activated ability you can activate as a sorcery to put a +1/+1 counter on the creature with outlast. You pay some mana, you tap the creature, and you play a waiting game. The creature ducks out of action for a while and trains, and when it’s big enough, you can go on the offensive.

Overload – Overload represents an alternative cost of some instants and sorceries. These spells all have an effect that includes the phrase “target [something].” If you cast a spell for its overload cost rather than its mana cost, you replace that phrase with “each [something],” increasing the spell’s effect. For example, “destroy target creature you don’t control” becomes “destroy each creature you don’t control.” Remarkable what a little less restraint can get you.

Persist – For a creature with persist, death is only the beginning. Specifically, when a creature with persist dies, if it had no -1/-1 counters on it, it returns to the battlefield with a -1/-1 counter on it. This may read like a one-time get-out-of-death-almost-free card, but if you can find a way to ditch that -1/-1 counter (say, by putting a +1/+1 counter on it and watching the counters annihilate each other), persist can . . . well, persist over and over again.

Pitch spells – “Pitch spells” isn’t a named mechanic, and you won’t see those words on the cards. It’s a nickname for the “Force” cycle, instants you can cast by exiling a card of a specified color from your hand rather than paying the mana cost if it’s not your turn. Of course, if you don’t want to exile a card, or if it’s your turn, you can cast these spells by paying the mana cost as normal.

Proliferate – Speaking of counters, proliferate is a very useful keyword action. When instructed to proliferate, you choose any players and/or permanents with counters on them, and then give each one another of each kind of counter it has. This can be an effective tool of decay, spreading -1/-1 counters or poison counters. It can also boost your own forces, adding +1/+1 counters to your creatures or loyalty counters to your planeswalkers.

Protection – Protection comes in many flavors, often protection from a color, but protection can be tailored to almost any quality. Say a creature has protection from red. That means it can’t be enchanted or equipped by any red Auras or red Equipment. If it’s a creature, it can’t be blocked by any red creatures (although it can happily block any incoming red attackers). It can’t be the target of any red spells or abilities whose sources are red. Finally, any damage that would be dealt to it from red sources will be prevented. Note that it doesn’t stop effects that don’t do any of those things. For example, a creature with protection from white can still be destroyed by a white spell that says “Destroy all creatures” because that spell neither targets nor tries to damage it.

Rebound – Continuing the theme of “casting spells once is boring,” we have rebound. If you cast a spell with rebound from your hand, instead of putting it into your graveyard as it resolves, you instead exile it. At the beginning of your next upkeep, you may cast it again, this time from exile (so it doesn’t rebound again) and without paying its mana cost. If the original spell doesn’t resolve—perhaps because it was countered or its targets went away—the card just goes to your graveyard and doesn’t rebound.

Replicate – Continuing the theme of “casting spells once is boring,” we have replicate. As you cast a spell with replicate, in addition to its mana cost, you may pay its replicate cost any number of times. For each time you do, you copy the spell, choosing a new target for it if you want.

Retrace – Continuing the theme of . . . you know . . . we have retrace. Retrace allows you to cast a spell from your graveyard by paying all its normal costs and discarding a land card from your hand. After the card with retrace resolves (and usually even if doesn’t), it goes back to your graveyard, where it can be cast again using retrace. As the game goes on, retrace gives you something good to do with excess lands.

Shroud – So, you think you’re untouchable? A player or permanent with shroud is pretty close, as shroud means it can’t be the target of any spell or ability, even ones you control.

Splice – Splice is an unusual ability that allows you to copy the effect of a splice card onto another spell. Older cards could only be spliced onto spells with the subtype Arcane. Modern Horizons expands that a bit with a new twist (or maybe de-twist) that allows you to splice the card onto any instant or sorcery. To splice a card, it must be in your hand. Reveal it and pay the specified splice cost as you’re casting another instant or sorcery. The effect of the splice card gets added to the effect of the spell you’re casting, while the card with splice remains in your hand.

Storm – When you cast a spell with storm, you copy it for each spell cast before it during the turn. This includes spells any player cast, not just you. This doesn’t include effects that copy a spell on the stack, like the copies storm itself creates. It’s a storm, not a hurricane. Calm down. Of course, if the spell with storm requires targets, you can choose new ones for each of the copies.

Suspend – What if you could cast spells not with mana, but with time? You can suspend a card any time you could cast that card. To do so, exile it from your hand and pay the specified suspend cost. This will give it a certain number of time counters. At the beginning of your upkeep, remove a time counter. When the last is removed, cast it without paying its mana cost. If it’s a creature, it will gain haste. People sometimes forget about that haste part. Don’t be those people.

Threshold – Threshold is an ability word that appears before abilities that get better if you have seven or more cards in your graveyard. Doesn’t particularly matter how they got there, either. Putting cards from the top of your library into your graveyard (aka “self-mill”) can be a fast way to some powerful bonuses.

Totem armor – Totem armor is an ability of some Auras that give the enchanted creature a measure of safety. If the enchanted permanent would be destroyed, the Aura with totem armor can take its place and be destroyed instead. This will clear all damage that was dealt to it during the turn, so you don’t have to worry about the creature immediately being re-destroyed. Auras with totem armor will also have an ability that makes the enchanted creature better while it’s still alive as well. It’s not all about defeating death.

Undying – Undying is all about defeating death. When a creature with undying dies—we know—if it didn’t have any +1/+1 counters on it, it returns to the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter. New and improved! The trick we learned with persist also works here. Losing the +1/+1 counter is a little sad, but it does let you save the creature again, so it very well may be worth it.

Untap symbol, the – Denoted as Q in rules documents, the untap symbol is the natural opposite of the tap symbol. They operate under similar rules: both represent costs that can’t be paid if found on a creature that came under your control during or since your most recent turn (unless the creature has haste). To activate an ability with Q in the cost, the permanent must already be tapped. You then untap it to pay that cost. For example, if you attack with a creature that has a Q ability, activating that ability can give you a potential blocker your opponent may not have expected.

Vanishing – We end our list with vanishing, an ability that reminds us all that life is fleeting. A permanent with vanishing enters the battlefield with some number of time counters on it. At the beginning of your upkeep, a time counter is removed. When the last time counter is removed, you sacrifice the permanent. Well that’s kind of sad. We’re ending on this? There are no more keywords in the set? We couldn’t think of any cute wither designs? Just time’s up, list over, now you’re dead? Well then.


 

A planeswalker in every Pack?!? Really? War of the Spark is a Firestarter

War of the Spark

War of the Spark

PLANESWALKERS

Although not a named mechanic, per se, Planeswalkers are clearly the stars of this show. There are an unprecedented number of planeswalkers in War of the Spark, and players will undoubtedly encounter them in more Booster Draft and Sealed Deck games than ever before. In recent history, planeswalkers have only appeared at mythic rare, so even if you’re a seasoned veteran, you might have run into them only sparingly.

The uncommon planeswalkers have only two abilities, and neither of them increases loyalty. Unless you find some other way to increase their loyalty (see “Proliferate,” below), these planeswalkers may have a small amount of time on the battlefield.

In fact, every planeswalker in this set has an ability that doesn’t involve loyalty at all. It could be a static ability. These abilities are always “on,” functioning no matter whose turn it is and no matter if you’ve activated any of that planeswalker’s loyalty abilities. Tibalt shuts down life gain as long as he’s on the battlefield.

Liliana, Dreadhorde General

It could also be a triggered ability. These abilities trigger whenever their condition is met, again no matter whose turn it is and no matter if you’ve activated any of that planeswalker’s loyalty abilities. Liliana is happy to convert your dead into new cards, day or night.

The rules governing planeswalkers haven’t changed in this set. If you can get an opposing planeswalker to 0 loyalty, it will be put into its owner’s graveyard. Damage dealt to planeswalkers causes them to lose loyalty. You can attack them with your creatures. If you do, your opponents can block as normal. Some spells that deal damage may be able to target or otherwise hit planeswalkers. If a spell or ability says “any target,” it can target a creature, player, or planeswalker.

AMASS

There’s one new keyword in War of the Spark, and it’s on the side of evil: amass. Remember Bolas’s little operation on Amonkhet? It was all designed to create an army of undead elite the likes of which Ravnica had never seen before. Known as the Dreadhorde, this army is now amassing on the streets of our fair city. Uh-oh.

Relentless Advance

Amass empowers you to creature your own Zombie horde. Here’s how it works. When instructed to amass, ask yourself one simple question: does annihilating this world spark joy? Then, another question: do you control an Army? If you don’t already control an Army creature, you create a 0/0 black Zombie Army creature token. Then put a number of +1/+1 counters on one of your Armies equal to the number after amass. So, on an empty battlefield, Relentless Advance will give you a 3/3.

Dreadhorde Invasion

The Dreadhorde invasion we started continues with Dreadhorde Invasion. If you do control an Army, you don’t create any new tokens. Rather, you’ll put those +1/+1 counters on an Army you control. If that 3/3 (technically, that 0/0 with three +1/+1 counters on it) is still around, Dreadhorde Invasion’s triggered ability will add one +1/+1 counter, and your horde has grown to 4/4.

Zombie Army Token 1

Amass was designed so you’d control one Army at most at any given time. But there are several ways around that. You could copy an Army you control, or maybe you control a creature with all creature types. If you happen to control more than one Army when you amass, you choose one of them to get all the +1/+1 counters. Although players can respond to the spell or ability that instructs you to amass, once you start to amass, no one can interrupt you. This is true even if you’re creating a new Army—no player can do anything while the Zombie Army creature token is still 0/0, before it gets the counters.

Even though the +1/+1 counters represent the growing numbers of Eternals joining your ranks, the Zombie Army creature token is still a single creature. It has two creature types: Zombie and Army. There are some great bonuses for Zombie tokens lurking in this set, including on Dreadhorde Invasion. Remember, they work with any Zombie token, not just ones created by amass.

PROLIFERATE

War of the Spark features one prominent returning keyword: proliferate. Some fans may recall proliferate as a tool that spread destruction and decay. It was a Phyrexian innovation, after all. With all the planeswalkers and +1/+1 counters bouncing around, proliferate stands ready to serve a slightly different role in this war.

Flux Channeler

To proliferate, choose any number of players or permanents that have one or more counters on them. This can be any kind of counters: +1/+1 counters on creatures, loyalty counters on planeswalkers, even unusual things like time, charge, or doom counters. Counters that players get—including energy, experience, and poison—are all fair game. For each of the chosen players or permanents, give it another counter of the same kind it already had.

Remember that when you proliferate, you only put counters on the players and/or permanents you want to. If a creature your opponent controls has a +1/+1 counter, you can proliferate without fear of pumping it up.

There has been one small tweak to the proliferate rules this time around. Previously, if a player or permanent had more than one kind of counter, you’d choose one to add. Now, you just get all of them. Although unusual, this is most likely to happen with players. Say one of your opponents has both an energy counter and a poison counter. If someone proliferates, they will get both counters (one of each) or they’ll get neither, depending if the player who proliferated chose to include them.


 

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