Booster pack time!

I’m really not a big fan of booster packs – it just feels too much like playing the lottery. But, when my wife drags me shopping to Walmart, it’s about the only consolation I can get. I hate Walmart! And after today’s experience, I hate it even more. You can’t even browse their booster pack selection because it’s all safely put away behind a counter (not that there’s much to browse – it looked like a few Mirrodin Besieged, a few Scars of Mirrodin, and maybe an Intro pack or two were all that was available behind the counter). I understand that there are dorks out there who steal these kinds of things, but really! I slipped past the line to ask the girl behind the counter if she could just hand me one of the packs. Of course, she looks at me like I’m asking for Martian cow milk. Finally, she figures it out, grabs the pack (with a lot of direction on my part – “no, no, the one a little more to the right”), and then says, “You have to pay for it here.” Her line has like four people, and my wife is already checking out about five lanes down. This is not good enough for her: “Well, I can have a CSM bring it down to you there.” OK, fine, I get it, lots of shoplifting (I live in a pretty tame small town, actually), but come on, do I look like some teenage punk looking for the cheap thrill of the shoplift? I’m an overweight 30-something dad; do you really think I’m going to ask you for a pack, and then just conveniently forget to put it on the conveyor belt? There’s plenty of other stuff in the store, worth a lot more than a booster pack, that I could have done that with, which she wasn’t protecting!

Anyway, I bought a booster pack today. A booster pack. I often feel like Charlie in the old Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie (not the Johnny Depp one – I haven’t wasted my time on that one) when in math class, working on percentage problems, the kids are describing how many chocolate bars they’ve opened looking for a golden ticket. On his turn, Charlie says, “Two.” And his teacher responds, “OK, 200.” “No,” says Charlie, “just two.” “Well, I can’t do just two…” the teacher continues, and so does the scene. Everyone at this point is looking at Charlie like he’s just crazy. I can imagine going down to one of these serious game stores packed with tournament players talking about how may booster boxes and packs they’ve opened, and me saying, “I think I’ve opened ten packs total.”

But today’s pack was a winner! A minor winner, at least. I went with the Scars of Mirrodin pack, since there are more rares and mythics that I’m interested in from that set (Koth, Elspeth, Venser, etc.).  I have no idea how good the pack was from a Limited perspective (we draft pretty rarely around here), but from a small-time collector/player’s perspective it wasn’t bad, and it had a rare that I almost bought recently but didn’t because it seemed a little pricey.

Glint Hawk Idol

A second one for my collection. This is a card that I’ve wanted to do something with for awhile. I am brewing up an artifact deck, but I’m thinking that will only be blue. It could go in my Myr deck, except that it’s off theme (more on that deck another time). A 2/2 flyer for 2 seems pretty decent, but only if you can reliably turn it into one.

Flameborn Hellion

Completed my playset – not that I will probably ever play him. This is one of those obviously-made-for-limited cards which is one reason I don’t like boosters. A hasty 5/4 Juggernaut for 6?  As LSV would say, why would I play this when I could play an Inferno Titan for the same price? (not that I own an Inferno Titan…)

Sylvok Replica

Copy #6. Part of one of those filler cycles of cards. Don’t get me wrong, I like the cycles they do in each set. And this one is useful, except that if I want to kill an artifact or enchantment, I can certainly find cheaper options than 3G. It would take a pretty narrow deck that wanted a 1/3 artifact creature to go with this ability, but you never know…

Moriok Reaver

Completed the playset – another one of these thematic cycles of common fodder. I don’t think a vanilla 3/2 for 3 is all that good, is it? I think I’d rather have the Barony Vampire; at least it’s thematically interesting.

Perilous Myr

Copy #5. This is a good card. I think it has seen some tournament play, and I’ve tried it in my Furnace Celebration deck. It will surely have some uses over the years, so I’m not unhappy at all to get another one.

Vulshok Heartstoker

Completed the playset – unfortunately, the kind of deck that wants his ability doesn’t want to spend 3 mana for a 2/2, so this must be another obviously-made-for-limited card. I use Teetering Peaks in my Kuldotha Red deck, but that’s a +2/+0 for 0 mana.

Vedalken Certarch

Only my second copy, but I’ve considered tapping abilities to be pretty weak, and this one needs three artifacts to do so, otherwise you have a 1/1 for 1. Will it go into my mono blue artifact deck? Uh, no.

Copper Myr

Completed a second playset. It sure seems like there’s an inordinate number of these in the booster packs I’ve opened. I guess the five colors of myr all run together in my mind though. Anyway, 2 for a 1/1 mana producer is OK, although unless you specifically want the artifact creature, you’re better off with Llanowar Elves or Birds of Paradise. I have used a few of these mana myr in some decks, so it’s not terrible.

Tumble Magnet

Copy #7, but I’m happy to get more copies of a tournament stud. As I said above, I don’t particularly value tapping abilities, perhaps because I don’t have decks that can really take advantage of it. I definitely like this card with the proliferate ability. I have a blue-black poison deck, modeled a little on Kibler’s tournament deck, that finds this card useful.

Screeching Silcaw

Completed the playset – if it wasn’t so situational, I’d like this card for a discard/graveyard deck. There was a recent tournament deck that tried to deck people that I really liked and may try to replicate, but this card wouldn’t make it. Without a bunch of artifacts, all you have is a 1/2 flyer, and even with the artifacts, you still have to do damage or it doesn’t do anything. I’d be surprised to learn that people took this very high in Limited, although it does have evasion, so I’m sure it saw play.

Viridian Revel

Only my second copy, but this is another card that tempts to build around it, except that it’s probably not powerful enough to deserve such attention. Still, you get something to turn their permanents into artifacts, and then kill those permaments – that seems pretty good. Probably better just to play a cantrip to get your extra card, though. One of the things I have noticed is how the pros always seem to keep their hands full of cards, but this seems to be the result of uber-powerful, uber-expensive cards like Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Still, it has made me more aware of the power of card drawing, and I now watch for opportunities to fill my hand back up. I don’t think this is a very good solution to the problem though.

Trigon of Thought

Completed the playset. I wanted all these Trigons from Scars to be cool, but even my slow, clunky decks find these cards too slow and clunky. Even if you had a proliferate engine going, 2 mana to draw an extra card every turn might not be all that great. That’s six mana and three turns to get the original max advantage from a card that already cost 5 just to put out. Why not just play Jace’s Ingenuity?

Carrion Call

Copy #5. Tokens are so fragile, and wimpy tokens that cost 2 mana apiece are not that good. I tried to play this in my Phyrexian Poison deck, but these insects don’t even have flying. Master’s Call is one mana cheaper, and the Myr are more useful once you have a Myr Battlesphere out.

Tempered Steel

This was it! It’s been on my wishlist for while for my Myr deck, but since it has seen some tournament play (albeit Tier 2), it was always a bit pricey—not outrageous, but enough for me to hesitate. I almost ordered it in my most recent order (New Phyrexia cards! – watch for an upcoming post), but fortunately I did not (getting a second copy of a pricey rare isn’t of much use to me, since I was just going to proxy the extra copies I needed anyway.) Still, this wasn’t a super win—that only happens when the rare is worth more than the booster pack itself—but made me feel like I got my money’s worth from the pack.

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