This time I’m going to do something different, rather than looking at a modern video game (if you haven’t noticed my pattern it’s classic sci fi, modern game/Wii onwards, classic game/gamecube or earlier then anime) I will look at a recently released Box game, in this case Magic the Gatherings Archenemy Nicol Bolas box.
Magic the Gathering is a… no THE trading card game. It was initially released in 1993 and is now increased to the point people can live professionally from tournaments. It is set around an expansive multiverse containing multiple worlds each with their own history and iconography and are for the most part completely separate from one another with no knowledge of other worlds. These worlds include the City of Guilds Ravnica a world covered by an entire city and has 10 guilds each covering a combination of 2 of the 5 colours of magic (more on that later), Mirrodin/New Phyrexia a planet of metal and flesh, fan favourite Innistrad a plane with a theme of gothic horror and many more.
In the universe there are 5 colours of magic: black, blue, green, white and red. Each colour has its own feel: blue has counterspells and card draws; green has big stompy things, also there is combinations of those colours and cards that have no colours. There are also beings called planeswalkers that can traverse the multiverse and are right now the main characters in the story with recently a group of them coming together called the Justice League… I mean the Gate Watch. Recently after their “victory” over the Eldrazi (basically multidemensional lovecraftian horrors) they discovered the location of Nicol Bolas a super powerful elder dragon planeswalker and the oldest villain in the setting (old as in earliest introduced) and he’s on the plane of Ammonkhet a plane with an ancient Egypt theme.
Ok enough with the plot (there are NOVELS of this stuff) the box is designed for multiple players, one player plays Nicol Bolas and up to 3 others play using decks for Chandra, Nissa and Gideon. It’s 1 v many, but Bolas has a few bonuses. First he gains access to exclusive scheme cards to give him the edge, but also he has more life than the rest, the Gate Watch need to work together to take down Bolas.
The box comes with 4 decks, one for Bolas, one for Chandra etc, a bunch of token cards, a scheme deck for Bolas, a life counter (I like that) smaller boxes for all the decks (and fit the decks when all of them are in card sleeves, also nice) and all fits in the sturdy box.
People have analysed that the value of the 4 x 60 card decks do indeed exceed the cost of buying all the cards individually so you are getting a somewhat decent value (because for some reason people are willing to pay insane prices for pieces of card with admittedly good art on them).
I managed to play a few games with the max number of people. I can safely say it was fun, it provides a different experience in magic to people who have only played the more regular formats, the one V many format forces your allies to take on someone who they wouldn’t be able to beat on their own while the scheme cards allow someone to take on many people at once (clothing to make yourself look like a supervillain not included).
The main advantage in this box is that you can play it right out of the box ( though shuffling the decks is recommended) which means anyone showing up can play, all you need is the box (and contents) and anyone can play, though best you play a few normal games of magic the gathering if you have never played the game before.
Each deck feels different and has a different focus, Chandra (red) is focused more on burn and being aggressive, Gideon (white) has much more on combat tricks and manipulating the board while Nissa (green blue) tends to build a stronger long game, building up to unleash giants. These three strategies need to fight Bolas (Red, Blue, Black) whose deck is more designed to fight multiple people at once. This does mean that after having a game you can swap decks with the other players and go again.
I was very happy to see them releasing another product with the arch enemy line since I had fun when they released some decks years ago and nothing since so I hope they release more because it would be nice to change the scheme deck to be what you want it to be rather than what is given. If you like Magic the Gathering this experience is a good one to have be it fighting against a mighty foe, or crushing those impetuous fools that think they can stand against your glorious visage.