Yu-Gi-Oh: Master Duel

So, for folks who’ve played Yu-Gi-Oh before, and are wondering if they should play Master Duel, here’s my opinion in brief: Yu-Gi-Oh Master Duel can be fun, but only to the extent that you play against other people with decks that function at a similar power level. I can’t speak to higher level decks, because I never made one. I spent a non-zero amount of time being thrashed by players who did make high level decks.

A big critical note: Master Duel is ALMOST ENTIRELY PvP. There are some small PvE sections of the game, but they effectively function as tutorials.

As far as being a digital implementation of the physical game, it seems to do a solid job. I have some problems with how it handles certain mechanics, and there’s also very little flare compared to something like Hearthstone, or Legends of Runeterra. When an opponent searches for a card from their deck and adds it to their hand, the game only shows you the card for a brief moment, instead of keeping it revealed. I hate this, as the game has something like 5000+ cards, and I have no idea what a large number of them do.

Finally, its in-game monetization is fucking awful. I don’t give a shit about some “f2p btw top ranked” motherfucker. The only difference between this game and a crackhead with a knife coming at you in an alley is that the second one is being more transparent in their desire to obtain everything in your wallet.

I’d write more about this, but I already did. Master Duel is #4 on my Least Favorite Game Business Models list.

I’m going to be honest. I don’t have much more to say on Yu-Gi-Oh that provides value in the form of a review. Modern Yu-Gi-Oh is an incredibly alien beast to me. Opening turns can go through what feels like half a player’s deck, only to have any advantage gained be destroyed by one or two cards. First turn kills from the second player are common. The game’s balance seems to rely on handtraps, cards that you discard from your hand to negate your opponent’s effects, and quickly recognizing your opponent’s deck archetype. Knowing their combos and how to interrupt them is just a critical skill as knowing how to play your own deck.

I played 40 hours of Master Duel, and this review is the best I can offer. I know that I enjoyed playing against my friends who also installed it. I know I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone as a “single player” game, which it effectively is in many ways. I don’t like it as much as Duel Links, which had a lot of PvE content. I enjoy some forms of competition in card games, but I don’t enjoy grinding ladder, and that’s primarily what Master Duel seemed to offer.

But hey, it was free*. If you still want to play it, you can grab it here.

*Free to get your ass repeatedly handed to you by Eldlich the Golden Lord, seriously, fuck that card, and that deck.

MetaZoo – Why I’m Skeptical

Don’t buy into the hype without reading this first.

I wasn’t quite sure what to title this article. I’m still not sure even as I write it. In any case, the general purpose of this article is mostly to warn anyone who, like myself, has found themselves curious about buying into MetaZoo.

So for starters, let’s quickly define what MetaZoo is. This is a bit difficult, because MetaZoo wants to be a lot of things, but its core is a TCG (Trading Card Game), named, unsurprisingly, Metazoo. It’s this TCG and the elements around it that currently make me nervous about wanting to get involved or buy anything MetaZoo related.

If nothing else, there’s a single massive factor that has turned me off of MetaZoo so far: the several times I’ve actually sat down and tried to play the game, I didn’t actually have very much fun. And I consider that a really bad sign, because I really like card games and trading card games. I’ve played a ridiculous amount of Magic, Pokémon, and Yu-Gi-Oh, both in paper and in those games’ digital equivalents. And even when I’ve gotten stomped, even when things have gone wrong, I’ve still had fun. MetaZoo hasn’t been fun.

(A brief aside: MetaZoo, generally speaking, plays like a combo of Pokémon and Magic, using parts of Pokémon’s attack based combat, and Magic’s resource system and life points.)

This is the root of my skepticism of the game. From there, my skepticism grows when I start to look at everything else around the game’s ecosystem. Right now MetaZoo feels like it cares more about making as much money as feasibly possible than trying to grow and become a fun game.

There are a lot of examples of this, and so I’m just going to go through them in no particular order.

The MetaZoo NFT

There’s an official MetaZoo NFT. Because of course there is. Here’s the link to the OpenSea page. And here’s the link to the page the token was sold on. The long and short of it seems to be, “There’s a plan in the future to use these to give exclusive access to discounts and presales on future products!” For reference, each of these tokens cost a minimum of 0.3 ETH to mint, and CoinBase has Eth listed at about $4,500 for the date this was going on. But if you bought during the presale, “During the minting process, certain errors occurred! These error tokens include a damaged Jersey Devil Purple token, a double stamped Mothman Gold token, and other eccentricities that are significantly rarer than their properly minted counterparts. These error tokens will only be circulated during the presale event.” So, lets be clear: A MINIMUM of $1500 for the potential future ability to… purchase a blind box T-Shirt at presale. And maybe other undetermined benefits!

What incredible fucking value. They sold 2300-ish of these things.

Blind Box… Everything

You know those blind box T-shirts that the token above got you presale access to? Yeah, so, those are $50 a box. Each box contains… 1 T-shirt and a Promo card. I could almost understand getting a specific T-shirt and random Promo, but why would I buy a random T-shirt I don’t even want? And a single promo card? They also had blind box pins and promo cards available at one point. Oh, and “1 out of every 40 boxes contains a Super Rare T-shirt and promo card featuring the Nightcrawler and all 6 iconic MetaZoo characters!” You may be starting to see a pattern here: limited exclusivity everything, with lots of hidden and random promos, at ridiculous prices… but if you don’t buy now, they might sell out!

Playing Card Kickstarter

So, with the world in the absolute shitter, and supply lines being what they are, if you actually want to play MetaZoo, it’s a bit difficult. The first MetaZoo Kickstarter raised about $18,000 to do the print run of the cards. So the MetaZoo team recently ran a second fundraising campaign to… print playing cards.

It has raised, at time of writing… $1,520,596. Let’s be clear: this isn’t for copies of the actual TCG cards, it’s for decks of normal playing cards with art from the MetaZoo game/franchise on them. Of course, these decks also come with special blind box boosters, and if you pledge at the $1150 tier, you’ll get a special promo, one of only 250!

You can’t though, because all those slots are already taken.

Other Concerns

Rapid fire mode:

Ebay partnership promos for buying certified cards through eBay. Channel Fireball unique promos. Convention promos for exclusive convention plushies. A twitter account that seems to mostly retweet box breaks, giveaways, pulls and stats about card grading.

The point I’m trying to make here is that this company and community currently seems more interested in capitalizing on fear of missing out, impulsive collectors, and maintaining hype in the secondary market than their actual card game.

The Actual Game

Okay, so that’s enough about MetaZoo for now. Let’s talk about Magic: The Gathering for a moment, and some of the worst designed Magic cards ever printed. Specifically, the set of cards known as the Power Nine. These 9 cards are banned in virtually every format, and the only format that they can be played in, Vintage, only allows you to use a single copy of ONE of them in your deck. They are obscenely powerful with no downside, and have massive format warping potential. It’s actively admitted that it was a “Mistake” to print cards at this power level by the game’s designers.

Because of this, these cards have never been reprinted, exist in fairly small amounts, and are also some of the most expensive magic cards ever. For reference, at time of writing, the “Cheapest” Black Lotus on eBay is about $15,000. (Interestingly, a brief look at some older price guides show how much the cost has gone up. One price guide from 2002 has it at $300 at the time.)

In short, the Power Nine are incredibly valuable, while being toxic to the game of Magic if ever used in play. They are the poster child of “Cards you do not print” while designing a Magic-like card game. Of those 9 cards, 6 are mana rocks. These are the Moxes, and Black Lotus.

So why am I harping on about poorly designed early Magic cards in a article about MetaZoo?

This is why.

I mentioned up above that MetaZoo in many ways plays like a combination of Pokémon and Magic: The Gathering. And one of the things it takes from Magic is Magic’s resource system. You can play one “Aura” card per turn, you “fatigue” it to generate resources, and you “unfatigue” it at the start of your turn, just like Magic’s lands.

MetaZoo has a cycle of zero-cost cards for each element that look like this.

There’s one of these for each “Color” that can be played in MetaZoo, but they all function the same. A zero cost card that taps for 2 Aura.

Now, if you’re looking at this, and going “Wait a minute, that’s more or less just a cycle of strictly better Moxes,” then you’re thinking the same thing that I was when I when first saw them.

And this is another major reason I’m skeptical of the intentions of the MetaZoo team. Magic is close to 30 years old, and in those 30 years, the Power Nine have not been reprinted. While you could argue this is because of collectors, or fears of sullying the market, I’d argue that the core reason is different: the Power Nine ruin the game.

So if you’re making a brand new card game, why would you create more powerful versions of some of the worst designed TCG cards ever made? I can think of two reasons. Reason one is because you’ve never played another collectible card game before.

Reason two is because as you release your brand new card game, you want to immediately invoke FOMO by referencing the most infamous and expensive cards from the world’s most popular TCG.

From what I’ve written in the rest of the article, you can likely see which one I think is more likely. (Although neither are confidence inspiring)

This the vibe that seems to permeate MetaZoo for me. Underneath the wonderful artwork and 90’s video game box art vibe there’s a persistent drumbeat of “Fear of Missing Out,” “It only goes up,” and “Buy now! Limited edition!” This doesn’t feel the work of a team trying to create the most fun game that they can. It feels like someone trying to create a new version of the Beanie Baby craze, or Pokemon that they can cash in on.

And it’s why I’m currently very hesitant of engaging any further with the game or brand. If you’re looking at MetaZoo and going “Huh, that seems neat, I wonder if I can get some boosters,” I urge you to reconsider.

Inscryption

An incredibly interesting deckbuilder that takes the 4th wall and uses it as cardstock.

Let me save you a lot of time. Go play Inscryption. Here’s the game’s homepage. It is very good. That’s not to say I don’t have problems with it. I actually have one very large problem, but I’ll get to that later. Once you’ve played the game, obviously.

It’s okay, I’ll wait.

……………..

You finish it yet?

>NO, I haven’t bought it or started it.

>NO, but I started Inscryption .

>YES, I finished Inscryption

Your move.

MTG Arena – Historic Brawl Best Cards

The best cards until Wizard prints better ones, or half the list gets banned from the format.

Ah, Monday. The first and worst day of the week, when you realize that you really should have been productive over the weekend, and instead spent the entire thing playing games, lazing about, eating jalapeno naan, then chugging milk to try to stop the burning.

Maybe that’s just me.

In any case, you get to Monday, you realize you haven’t written an article for the week, so you end up trying to throw together some Buzzfeed-esque listicle to stall for time. Look on the bright side though: this article has no ads, and isn’t click-arbitraging!

  1. Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

Ugin gets the #1 spot on this list for a very simple reason: He’s a colorless boardwipe. In a format with a limited amount of control and board wipes, he gives every single deck access to a powerful amount of control, and every single other one of his abilities is strong as well. He’s also not banned in every other format, unlike a large majority of this list.

  1. Command Tower/Arcane Signet
    I’m putting these here as a pair, because they’re effectively the exact same thing: mana production in your commander’s colors. The only reason to not run both of them is because your deck is mono-color.
  1. Solemn Simulacrum
    Colorless land ramp, card draw, and a 2/2, all for 4 mana. Like Ugin, Solemn Simulacrum gets its spot on the list because it slots into pretty much any Historic Brawl deck.
  1. Field of the Dead
    Banned in Historic. Banned in Brawl. Banned in Standard. In theory, a card that makes you a 2/2 zombie every time you put a land into play while you control 7 differently named lands isn’t this good. But with the length of Brawl games, it’s just a powerhouse. Of cards on this list, I’d hold off on crafting this one primarily because I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets banned from Historic Brawl.
  1. Golos, Tireless Pilgrim
    Golos is an entirely reasonable card in every other format. In Historic Brawl, he’s one of only 9 five color commanders, and one of two colorless five color commanders. Combine this with his land fetching, and his activated ability, and you have arguably the single best five-color commander in the format. Golos is a Solemn Simulacrum on crack. It’s worth keeping in mind that Golos was banned in Brawl, so you may want to wait on crafting him. Or maybe craft him now before he gets banned. Regardless, arguably one of the best commanders.
  1. Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
    I’d like to think the creation process for Uro went something like this:
    MTG Designer A: All right, so growth spiral is a perfectly reasonable card.
    MTG Designer B: Sure.
    MTG Designer A: But what if it was also a 6/6 Creature that triggered it’s ability each time it entered the battlefield, or attacked?
    MTG Designer B: Wow. That seems like it might be too powerful. We better increase its mana cost by 1 and make it sorcery speed.
    MTG Designer A: Sure. But because it costs so much, you should be able to cast it from the graveyard, and maybe it isn’t a creature unless you do? And maybe it should give you life?
    MTG Designer B: Sounds good to me! Let’s get lunch.
    The end result is this absolute unit.
  1. Wilderness Reclamation
    It turns out untapping all your lands at the end of your turn in addition to the start of your turn is pretty good.
  1. Omnath, Locus of Creation
    I was gonna say that Omnath, Locus of Creation falls into the same space as Golos, but then I went and actually checked, and he really falls into more the same space as Uro, which is “Format warping god-emperor.” Seriously, this motherfucker got banned everywhere. Except Historic Brawl apparently. So enjoy him while he lasts I guess?

I honestly can’t think of anything else to add to this list at the moment, so yeah. Here’s some weekly content. Now go yell at me on Twitter about how I clearly missed Stormcrow, and Golos is trash because he dies to removal.

How much does Runeterra really cost?

Not expensive for a CCG, cheap for a digital CCG, still a lotta money.

Update 5/24/2020 – The initial table has been updated to clarify that this is the maximum a deck could cost you. This was how we intended the table to be read, but we can see that the wording was unclear, and so it’s been updated.

Hiding the conclusions about things at the end of your article is for people who need clicks, pageviews, and ad conversions. I have no ads, no clicks, and still haven’t set up google analytics. So let’s give the conclusion right here.

Cost to buy the base set if you start with nothing$450
Cost to buy the base set counting cards earned for free progression after about a week~$310-$330
Cost to buy the full first expansion~$210
MAXIMUM Cost to netdeck any Runeterra deck from scratch~$60
If I don’t put text here, the chart looks ugly. So, how are folks doing?

I’ve talked about some of the things I liked about Runeterra in a previous post, and one of the things about it is the fact that you can just buy the cards you want instead of boosters. It also makes it much easier to figure out how much it would cost to buy Runeterra.

So, that’s what this article is gonna be about. Figuring out how much it costs to buy Runeterra.

There are a few things we need to know first, so let’s just jump into it. I was gonna write a whole bunch of stuff, but that seems excessive. So instead, let’s just look at how much a card costs in actual US Dollars, at each of the price points that Riot sells Coins.

Card Rarity / Cost of Package of Coins4.999.9919.9934.9949.9999.99
Champion$3.15$3.00$2.93$2.88$2.80$2.73
Epic$1.26$1.20$1.17$1.15$1.12$1.09
Rare$0.32$0.30$0.29$0.29$0.28$0.27
Common$0.11$0.10$0.10$0.10$0.09$0.09
So, for example, if you buy a 4.99 package, it costs you $3.15 overall to buy a single Champion card. But if you spend 99.99, it only costs you $2.73 per champion card. Except you also already actually spent $100, and unless you have $99.99 worth of cards you want to craft, I’m not sure the .50 cent discount is that great.

Cool. So with this chart, it’s pretty easy to figure out how much it would cost to buy an entire set of the cards. For right now, we’re gonna just look at the base set, for reasons I’ll get to in a moment. A few quick maths later, and we find this.

Coin Cost4.999.9919.9934.9949.9999.99
Base Set Playset$512.45$487.31$475.66$467.62$455.80$443.41

Still, this assumes we could purchase coins at any amount we want. That isn’t the case. We can only purchase them in the amounts defined above. So instead, let’s look at what the cheapest we can get it.

I went through a few quick scenarios which assume that you need to buy all the cards, and each time I did my math, it worked out to about $450 to buy a playset of all base set cards of Runeterra. (Because you can’t buy half of a package or anything, you need to buy four $100 bundles, and one $50 bundle.)

However, this assumes you had to buy in to Runeterra, and that you had to buy every single card you ever got. And I don’t think this is super accurate either. I’ve been playing for just about two weeks at this point without spending any money. So I punched in my own collection so far, and what it would cost to complete it. And when I did, I came up with another number: about $320, maybe give or take about $10.

This is all well and good for the base set, but lets take a look at something more interesting: The first expansion for the game, the Bilgewater themed The Rising Tides.

After more QUIK MATHS, I ended up with about $210 to buy a full playset of the expansion, starting from nothing. I’m gonna write about whether or not I think that’s a fair price, but it’s good to know that for each future expansion, that’s how much it might cost you to keep playing, assuming each expansion is about the same size.

So, we have two numbers so far. $350 to finish the base set after you play for a bit, and maybe $210 for an expansion. So we’re all good right?

I say “No.” Runeterra is a card game. Ultimately the thing that matters with card games is how much it costs to play them, and for some people, that means the cost of making a competitive deck.

Decks in Runeterra have a maximum of 40 cards, and can only have 6 champion cards in them. So lets assume you needed to netdeck the new hotness, and it was a 40 card deck with 34 epic cards in it, and 6 champs. This runs us a total of about 5880 coins.

In order to buy that many coins, you’d have to spend just about $60.

That was a lot of math, and I was planning to discuss how I felt about this at the end of the article. However, since I now have done too much math, I think I’m gonna save that for another day.

Until then, stay safe my dudes.