Pauper Magic

I doubt anyone reading this post has not heard about Magic: The Gathering. This card game has been around since 1993. We began playing a couple of years later, and we stopped playing when we were old enough to realize they were just selling paper at outrageous prices.

Lightning Bolt card

 

I came back to it when I discovered “pauper”, a variation of the game where players can only play with really cheap cards. This post contains what I like and dislike of the game, and an introduction to Pauper Magic.

Fast and strategic

The game usually plays very fast, so you can go through several games in an hour. It works very well for those evenings you have nothing prepared, and allows for several players to compete against each other or in teams.

Very easy to learn the basics, but with deep strategic decisions. You make your deck of cards with a strategy in mind (damage, creatures, control, etc.) and you need to play each turn to develop that strategy. It is not a tactical game, a good turn will seldom make you win if your deck and play are not consistent.

Expensive and lazy

It is expensive. The competitive version of the game only allows you to play with cards published in the last year! A basic deck to begin is $20, but if you want to play in competitions at your local store and have any chance to win, then plan to spend $20 a month. A collection to play with a couple of your friends and make different decks to experiment and have fun, probably around $200.

Now they offer you lower prices if you buy them online. Now instead of paying for paper you can pay for small chunks of an online game…

The other famous drawback of Magic, at least for us roleplayers, is that it discourages game preparation. In order to play an adventure of most of roleplaying games you need at least a couple of hours preparing it. Some you get some of the heroics, magic and fluff of fantasy roleplaying games, with no time investment. I could say it kills the hobby, but the truth is that the players who sift to Magic were probably not really interested in roleplaying games.

Pauper Magic

In this version of the game you can only use the most common cards of the game. Most of people sell those cards in bulk packages because they have no use for them, but to a budget gamer they are still useful.

You can play online to Pauper Magic even cheaper, where there is an active community at PDCMagic.com. You can also read some of the internet guides to competitive pauper, like the one at MTGO Academy. Check those if you like competitive play but it goes beyond your budget.

This format is the only reason I have bought a few cards in the last 15 years. You can afford a few new cards, which add new tricks to your decks, and play casual games with your friends. The biggest budget no longer wins the game! 😉

Other card games

There are awesome card games, which are not collectible. If you try Magic but you don’t want a collectible game, try one of these. You buy the game and that’s it. Here are a couple which play fast, have a deal of strategy in them, come with nice illustrations, and are really fun:

Card games

 

I will post some reviews of these two games, because I like both a lot.

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Legacy of the Crystal Shard review

After almost a year of silence I come back! I’m afraid I may have to refocus my blogging activity. My current life doesn’t really leave me so much time for playing, and there are things I really want to write about which have nothing to do with games… we will see.

Anyway, back to the playing table. I bought a couple of months ago the Legacy of the Crystal Shard campaign for Dungeons & Dragons. After two sessions of play I want to give you my opinion about both the product and product line. In future posts I will describe how the sessions go.

Product cover

I had read some very good reviews, and it was the last product in the Encounter series to be edited in a physical format. Wizards of the Coast decided to publish from then on in PDF format, and I wanted to own one of the books. They are usually well written and illustrated, and the price was reasonable at Book Depository (you can still find it at 20€ including shipping).

This product belongs to The Sundering series, which is an effort by Wizards of the Coast to re-launch their fantasy franchise in a multiplataform event: books, role playing games, computer games, board games, card games, etc.

PDF-only policy

If you try to sell a new adventure or campaign every other week, at a price around $40, don’t expect sales to be huge. Depending on your distribution channels, and the low-quality expectation for a weekly campaign, you will probably lose money.

I understand why they change to a PDF-only sales policy. The price is around 15€, which is high enough that I will only buy the ones I’m almost certain I’m playing. The physical edition however included a beautiful game screen, which is worth more than 5€ by itself, so the price for the PDF is a little too high.

Good: A great campaign

Good plot, charismatic villains, references to the classic Icewind Dale book series, both city intrigues and tundra encounters… The plot evolves as the heroes deal with evil cultists, scheming wizards and warring dwarves.

I’m really eager to see how the heroes perform, what dooms they can stop in time, and which fall upon the people of the Ten Towns.

The adventure is very good, and the campaign book provides enough information to enlarge it at your will.

I recommend downloading some promotional NPC portraits which are not included. They provide a great visual help for players to get immersed in the adventure. You can find the portraits in the Dungeonmaster blog.

Akar Kessell

Bad: Preparation required

The campaign material is vast. Initially I tried to know everything about the Icewind Dale, but I soon understood it was impossible. This makes me feel somehow uncomfortable while running the adventure.

The complexity of the adventure is also very high. There are three antagonists with links between them, multiple locations, a complex timetable of events…

I followed some advice I found online and wrote down a timeline to know what is happening every day, with different colors for each of the factions.

Schedule for the new Dungeons & Dragons

My plan was to publish this week a review of the Legacy of the Crystal Shard campaign material. It is a Dungeons & Dragons campaign which I’m currently running, based on the playtest rules for the next edition of D&D. However, I have to delay it. And the reason is that today we finally have the final release schedule for the next Dungeons & Dragons edition, with price tags and product descriptions!

If you want to know the details you should probably head to ENWorld, the main gaming community for D&D and Pathfinder. Or you could even go to Amazon and check all the new products in pre-order.

 

In summary

In July they will publish a Starter Set. It worked wonders for other games like Dragon Age or Pathfinder, and the famous first edition of D&D. An expected move that brings the game up to level 5 at a reasonable price of $20.

Starter Set cover

There will be a Player Handbook in August, a Monster Manual in September, and a Dungeonmaster Guide in November. Three books as usual. But these at a not so reasonble price of $50 each!

Two complete adventures are also scheduled for this year. Within the The Sundering story arc Wizards of the Coast is currently publishing material. This arc is leading all the game material and novels to the Tyranny of Dragons event. With the new edition they plan to release lots of material about this new time in the Forgotten Realms, including these two adventures. And the surprising news is that these adventures will be produced by a different company, Kobold Press!

The adventures will be 96 pages long, and will be priced at $30.

The new schedule also includes several sets of miniatures, sold in boosters of random minis. Each booster will be $20.

 

My two cents

Do these people at Wizards expect me to spend $150 in a single RPG without a setting, and without a campaign book? I got the 3 books of 4th edition at $60!

I’m sure the quality of illustrations and edition will be very high. Full-color pages, thick paper, etc. The new logo and typography chosen for the game are nice, and choosing Kobold Press to design the adventures is a sensible business decision. They are better than Wizards at it, and they bring a great reputation to the product.

New D&D Logo

If the production quality of the Starter Set is good enough I’m certainly buying it. The rules we are playtesting are fun, and the final version is surely worth a try. But $150 is an absurd price for this game, and with the minis they are certainly not targeting me as customer. You will need a couple more of books or heaps of work to really enjoy it, so it can easily go beyond $200.

What do you think? Have you playtested the rules? Are you buying any of the books?

Ideas to keep you playing