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.

Legends of Runeterra does some really cool shit every single other digital card game should copy.

More drafting. Buying Actual Cards. A tool that shows you how things resolve. Now you don’t have to read the rest of the article if you don’t want to.

As a brief disclaimer, I’m a massive fucking Dota fan. It’s my most played game. I watch TI every year, I play almost every other night. I’m one of like 12 people who loved Artifact, and I actually bought a playset of the cards in the game at like…. full price.

I do regret that last thing a little bit.

I mention this because I feel like some people might feel like I’m shilling here, and I’m gonna be honest. The odds of me shilling for Riot Games are abysmal. They are abyssal. I also suspect that the odds of Riot Games ever actually giving me anything ever are lower then the odds of me winning the lottery on the same day that the LHC creates a black hole.

So I don’t really have any special love for League of Legends, Runeterra, or the associated worlds/lore/etc. I only downloaded it because a friend told me that the games equivalent of drafting was way less expensive and you got to actually play it more.

So when I say that every single other digital CCG needs to steal these features, I mean it. I don’t mean “Oh these are cool.” I mean if you’re making a digital card game, just copy these straight over. So lets talk about them shall we?

The Oracle’s Eye

Right to side of the board for Runeterra is a small blue icon that looks like an eyeball. When you mouse over it, it shows you what will happen when the current game state resolves. Resolving in this case means spells on the stack, blocks vs. attacks, player life totals at the end of it, etc.

This is fantastic because it makes it much easier to see if you have lethal/will dodge lethal/board state when effects resolve, etc. And you have to spend a lot less mental time on those things. It’s also great because it makes it much easier as you’re learning the game to double check how mechanics will work and resolve.

Digital Card Games have the ability to really funky and complex, with neat and weird effects. There’s no reason not to take some of the mental load off the players for the boring stuff that the computer will do anyway, and to let them focus on the actual gameplay.

Actually Buy Cards Instead of Glorified Lottery Tickets

I like opening booster packs in the same way I like eating Oreos. Just because I want to do it doesn’t make it good for me. And one of the things that we should probably all just admit is this: booster packs are more or less just gambling.

Video games are at a weird place right now regarding in-app purchasing, whaling, and other bullshit. However, as regards physical games, Magic: The Gathering has been around since 1993, and it’s been selling boosters since then. And let’s be honest. Unless you’re playing a draft format, boosters are more or less just lottery tickets with a booby prize. Anyone who has been playing magic for any given amount of time has probably attended some sort of event where the excess commons and maybe even uncommons have just been left out on a table, or even just hurled into the trash.

There isn’t a real reason to port over the format of booster packs to online digital card games, unless you want to be encouraging those sorts of purchasing patterns. Runeterra does away with all this. While you still unlock and earn cards randomly, if you want to spend real money, you just buy the cards you want.

Maybe they did this out of selfless love for their community. Maybe they did it because Riot is smart enough to see the writing on the wall regarding randomized digital purchases, and is just making a smart long term choice.

I don’t really care why. I just like that if I actually want to buy and play a given deck, I can.

Run Two Drafts, Score Prizes for the Best One

I love drafting. I don’t mind if I get to keep the cards or not, but I do love to play the format on the whole. And one of the big downsides to drafting physical cards is that it’s always gonna cost money. Yes, you can put a cube together, but then you still need to find 7 other people who want to play a cube with you. So in theory, digital CCG’s would be great drafting, except most of them have put their draft mode equivalent behind a paywall.

Runeterra does sorta do this, but perhaps most importantly, each time you buy into a draft, you get to do two runs. You then receive prizes for the best one. In addition, you get to do three runs a week with payout rewards, and after that the drafts are free, letting you practice the mode.

But seriously, the two drafts thing per entry is great. Drafting is one of the few formats in CCG’s in which all cards, yes, all of them will get used. It’s a lot of fun to be able to play cards that might otherwise be too slow, ineffective, or die to removal in other formats. And letting you try twice means if you have a terrible early run, you get a chance at redemption. And if you have a great one, you can choose to use that second run to just mess around and try something riskier then you might otherwise.

That’s all for today, stay safe folks.

MIT League Challenge 3/7/20

So, whenever I have good and bad news. I usually ask for the bad news first. So I’m gonna start with that.

I did not do well at the League Challenge. In fact, I came in second to last.

However, there is some good news to this, and it is as follows.

Yeah, I somehow managed to come in 4th. As you might have guessed, this would have been more impressive if it hadn’t been 5 people competing.

So what happened, and what went wrong? That’s what I’ll be covering in the rest of this writeup.

DECKLIST

Pokemon – 20
4 Jirachi TEU 99
3 Mewtwo & Mew-GX UNM 71
3 Dedenne-GX UNB 57
1 Charizard-GX HIF 9
1 Reshiram & Charizard-GX UNB 20
1 Magcargo-GX LOT 44
1 Latios-GX UNM 78
1 Naganadel-GX FLI 56
1 Naganadel-GX UNM 160
1 Solgaleo-GX PR-SM 104
1 Mega Lopunny & Jigglypuff-GX CEC 165
1 Victini V SSH 25
1 Blacephalon CEC 104
Trainer – 28
4 Welder UNB 189
1 Professor’s Research SSH 178
4 Quick Ball SSH 179
4 Cherish Ball UNM 191
4 Switch SSH 183
2 Great Catcher CEC 192
2 Reset Stamp UNM 206
2 Escape Board UPR 122
2 Stealthy Hood UNB 186
3 Giant Hearth UNM 197
Energy – 12
8 Fire Energy 2
2 Psychic Energy 5
2 Weakness Guard Energy UNM 213

If this list looks familar, that might be because it’s an exact copy of Nico Alabas’s ( @LimitlessNico ) list from the Melbourne International a few weeks back. You can see more of the standings, and decks used here.

GAME 1 – LOSS TO PIKAROM
Game 1 was against a an electric deck, that appeared to be a variant of Pikarom using the Morpeko V and Morpeko V MAX. However, instead of using the V Max’s attack, it primarily used memory energy with it to allow it to blast with Electro Wheel, and then retreat and swap in a Lillies Pokedoll. Overall, I wasn’t able to hit hard enough, and simply got beaten down and outplayed.

GAME 2 – WIN VS PIKAROM

Game 2 was a win, but was a much closer match up. Despite playing vs Pikarom, I was able to hold on, and after two of my Dedennes got sniped, my opponent misplayed, and tried to use Tapu Koko’s V’s Thunderous Bolt twice in a row. Unfortunately, that’s not how that attack works. The game went to time, and with both of us having two prizes left, he retreated his Tapu Koko V on turn two, meaning I needed to either knock out both of his basics in play, or the Koko on the bench. I was just barely able to get the 200 damage from Mega Lopunny & Jigglypuff GX with Puffy Smashers GX, and take the game on turn 3 of time.

GAME 3 – LOSS TO MILL

Game 3 was against mill, and was one of roughest openings I’ve ever had piloting the deck. My opening hand had no draw, and my starting Pokemon was Dedenne GX. Despite this, of the match-ups, this felt like the most winnable one. However, I utterly botched first. Of my three answers to a mill deck, my Blacephalon got milled turn one. Then, I rather foolish put both my Nagandel GX, and my Magcargo GX into the discard at the same time. From then on, I just got locked out and milled down with Pal Pad, Lt. Surge, and Bellelba & Brycen-Man.

For me, this game felt the worst because it was a match-up I could have won if I had played differently.

SO WHAT WENT WRONG?

Of the three games, I feel like I definitely should have been able to win at least 2 of them. However, in game 3, I critically failed to understand how the control combo worked, and made what I’d consider to be several major misplays. They were as follows

  1. Knocking out his pokemon, allowing him to use Lt. Surge
  2. Discarding both my Magcargo GX and Nagandel GX at the same time, allowing him to remove them with Girafarig.

I think that if I had gone for one at a time at a maximum, I would have possibly been able to reset the prize card status, or go for a mill win with Magcargo GX mill 5. But I let my win conditions get removed, while helping him set up his prizes.

For game 1, I think I would have won if I had teched slightly differently. One of the biggest issues I had piloting the deck overall was having a very hard time grabbing psychic energy when I needed it. The deck only runs two, and venom shock is a really good tool for dealing with benched mons, and stuff like Morpeko. If I was to run the list again, I might try adding a Viridian Forest.

I want to stress I don’t think this would generally improve the deck for a larger event. It did, after all, win an international. However, I think that the deck most likely shines against ADP and Zacian V decks. At a smaller event, however, a Viridian Forest would help the toolbox nature of the deck set up a bit faster.

Finally, I also mispredicted the sorts of decks I expected to see. I was expecting to see a lot more goons, and maybe a few weird grass decks. But there wasn’t actually a single one.

That’s all for now, thanks for reading, and hopefully I can report better progress next time.