The MTG Corner – Top 10 Commander Cards from Kaladesh (Part 2)

The collectable card game Magic: The Gathering is played by over 20 million people worldwide. Welcome to The MTG Corner, a new feature celebrating, analyzing and discussing the greatest card game of all time. Shuffle up your deck and draw seven. Welcome to The MTG Corner!

Welcome to part 2 of our Kaladesh Commander Top 10 countdown! If you missed last week’s article here it is! We have five cards left. Let’s see what we have left!

5. Combustible Gearhulk

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What decks does this fit in? – All red decks?

Here is the first of our new Titans. And Titans they are. Wizards has been doing a great job of building up red’s chunk of the color pie, and Combustible Gearhulk is leading the charge. Card draw, even if it’s conditional, is amazing. This card is fun and unique. It’s a great design for EDH.

4. Noxious Gearhulk

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What decks does this fit in? – All black decks?

This thing has a lot going on. Life gain, removal and evasion on a well costed body. This is a creature that is begging to be returned from the graveyard into play repeatedly. This card is a BEAST.

3. Chandra, Torch of Defiance

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What decks does this fit in? – Mono-red decks.

Whoa. This card is a house. Four abilities, each seemingly better than the last.The two +1’s abilities are brutal. Kaladesh has brought a lot of big things to red EDH, even outside this list (look at Madcap Experiment for another example). This is the best Chandra yet. I’m feeling pretty defiant already.

2. Torrential Gearhulk

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What decks does this fit in? – Spell based blue decks.

MEGA SNAPCASTER MAGE. I love this card. A spell slinging blue mage uses one of their best spells to get value. Pay six mana to flash in Mega Snapcaster Mage and do it all over again. This is the best Gearhulk for Commander.

Here come’s number one. Any guesses on what it is?

1.  Rashmi, Eternities Crafter

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What decks does this fit in? – None. She commands her own.

Most sets give us a build around Commander for all of us to drool over. Rashmi, Eternities Crafter demands to be built around. Kaladesh is filled with a lot of utility cards. Rashmi is very unique in Simic colors. And the art! This will look absolutely beautiful in foil.

There is the Kaladesh Commander Top 10! Do you agree with all my choices? Any cards I rated to high or to low?

That’s for stopping by The MTG Corner!

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The MTG Corner – Top 10 Commander Cards from Kaladesh (Part 1)

The collectable card game Magic: The Gathering is played by over 20 million people worldwide. Welcome to The MTG Corner, a new feature celebrating, analyzing and discussing the greatest card game of all time. Shuffle up your deck and draw seven. Welcome to The MTG Corner!

Kaladesh, from a flavor, design and power standpoint, looks to be one of the most impressive sets for Commander in recent years. Artifact matters in a beautiful, colorful set? Yes please!

I’m very excited for Kaladesh in nearly every way (except Standard. Standard sucks). Before I get into the first four on my list, I wanted to address the Bastion Mastodon in the room: Kaladesh Masterpieces.

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In this case they settle for our Honorable Mentions. They are beautiful and will make major changes in lots of people’s foiled out EDH decks. For the most part they are reprints of older cards. So, save for some Gearhulks, they are disqualified for inclusion on the main list. Only new cards here! Today we’ll be going through 10. through 6. Without further ado, let’s dig into #10…

10. Armorcraft Judge

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What decks does this fit in? – +1/+1 counter focused.

If a deck is constructed around counters, than cards you shall draw. Green always loves effects like this. Deceptively powerful and full of utility. It also helps that this Judge is an Elf.

9. Panharmonicon

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What decks does this fit in? – Decks with lots of ETB effects (Duh Logan, we KNOW!)

I can’t wait to abuse this card. I can’t wait to see other people abuse this card. Yeah.

 

8. Ghirapur Orrery

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What decks does this fit in? – The Gitrog Monster!!!!

Extra lands are NEVER a bad thing. This card is a little to group huggy for my taste, but a deck built to exploit will very easily pull ahead.

7. Saheeli’s Artistry

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What decks does this fit in? – Blue based artifact decks.

A unique effect that gives you a copy of the best creature AND the best artifact on the field. This card, for six mana, is one heck of a beating.

6. Metallurgic Summons

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What decks does this fit in? – Spell based decks.

Decks like Melek and Mizzix need creatures for defense. And for five mana, this spell continuously creates them, also suppling you with a powerful effect if things are going well. This might be (without playing the set yet) my favorite new card. The card is awesome. The effect is terrifying. Home run.

 

That’s it for today’s list! Come back next week for number’s 1-5! 

That’s for stopping by The MTG Corner!

 

Hell or High Water (Film Review)

‘Hell or High Water’, while it’s not the high minded crime film that it wishes it was, does an adequate job of scratching that crime film itch (if you have one.) Many parts of the film, from the performances to the cinematography, do a lot of heavy lifting. Others, including the often rough script and the languid pace, don’t do it so many favors.

The plot, from IMDB, is as follows:

A divorced dad (Chris Pine) and his ex-con brother (Ben Foster) resort to a desperate scheme in order to save their family’s ranch in West Texas.

The central conflict, two brothers robbing banks, with Texas Rangers Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) & Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham) following behind, is very compelling. We have two primary relationships (between brothers and Rangers), that develop as the film unfurls. And I do mean unfurl. The film, as it switches between criminals and lawmen, gives us what feels like countless scenes of good ole’ boys drinking beer and looking out over the desert. These scenes are both a plus and a hinderance depending on the conversations at hand. The writer for the film, Taylor Sheridan, delivers monologues on the evils of the bank and other nebulous things with a bluntness that is often quite cringeworthy. ‘Hell or High Water’ has a lot to say. Unfortunately, we are often beaten over the head with it.

Chris Pine is the best part of this movie. It’s a nuanced performance that meshes well with  Ben Foster, his mentally unhinged brother. On the other side of the law is Jeff Bridges, who can play this kind of role in his sleep. The moral dilemmas on display, while clumsy, can be interesting.

I want to compliment the visuals here. I lived in New Mexico/West Texas for a little over two years. I actually auditioned to be an extra in this film (I didn’t make it in, but a friend did). These barren vistas and worn down buildings are a perfect representation for this kind of plot. Soaring skies. Dry fields and foreclosure signs. It has a rustic beauty that elevates a ‘Hell or High Water’ in a lot of ways.

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This film is the cinematic equivilant of an outlaw country song. It’s dusty and quiet. The key to a good crime film is a plot that ramps up as it plays itself out. Unfortunately, ‘Hell or High Water’ doesn’t quite make it there. It’s most thrilling sequence, a robbery gone wrong, is over much to quickly. This film has a lot going for it. It’s a feeling. It’s just not quite the right one.

Off The Shelf (For the week of September 5th)

Hello readers! Logan here! Welcome to ‘Off The Shelf’! In a world filled with entertainments, it’s quite often difficult to sort through the dredges to find something of merit. Every week I’d like to share what films, novels, video games & comics I’ve enjoyed and pass them on to you. Solidarity! I’ve carefully picked through the shelves of The Fiction and Film Emporium warehouse to supply you with what I’ve been enjoying/hating. Without further ado…

What have I been watching?

Panic Room (2002) – Directed by David Lynch

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I was feeling something suspenseful. And, after some surfing on the Xbox, this what I stumbled upon! And to think I’ve never seen it… It’s a very tense film filled with great performances. Forest Whitaker and Jodie Foster put in great performances. Also, Jared Leto’s whole acting job here feels like it’s Joker-lite. Which is kind of fun.

What have I been playing?

Battlefield 1 Beta – On Xbox One

I’ve never played a Battlefield game before. So, leaping into some WW1 action through the Battlefield Beta was pretty eye opening. The graphics, even this early on, are great. The game modes, Conquest and Rush, are fast paced and fun. The vehicles (planes, cars, horses, tanks) are a little overpowered, but that’s okay. I’m extremely excited to play some more of this when the full game comes out.

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What have I been listening to?

Stein on Writing on Audible

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‘Stein on Writing’ read by Christopher Lane, is jam packed with some great information. Stein is an incredible writer with decades of experience. Lane is a wonderful narrator. If you’re a writer and want learn more about the craft, this is a great audiobook to pass the time.

Anything else?

It’s going to be a great couple of months in the theaters. Look forward to some fun reviews and, maybe, (just maybe) some big surprises here on the blog…

That’s it! Until next time…

Why Batman V. Superman is Actually Just a Batman Film

Zack Snyder’s Batman kills people. He’s angry and misguided. He’s driven and vengeful. He is lost.

And I’m okay with that.

Batman is my favorite superhero. It’s no contest. He always has a plan. He deals in absolutes. He’s tortured by guilt and deals justice as he sees fit. Plus, he breaks criminals bones and looks awesome doing it.

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I hated ‘Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice’ at first. I saw a Batman that barely resembled the hero that I love so much. He has all the essential Batman qualities. Just with a killer edge. “Batman doesn’t kill!” Batman doesn’t use guns!!!!” Zack Snyder is a douchebag!!!!” All things I’ve said/thought. But I’ve grown to respect the newest version of The Dark Knight.

Bruce tells Alfred that he’s been Batman for 20 years. 20 YEARS. You get the sense that he’s seen some things. He’s lost some friends. He’s a Batman that has taken to murder and literal branding to try and fight the raging current of evil that exists in Gotham. He’s desperate. That’s why he takes after Superman so quickly and easily. The line, delivered so perfectly by Ben Affleck, sums it up. “If there is even a 1% chance…”

Christopher Nolan’s Batman preached about hope and the inherent good of the citizens of his city. Our new Caped Crusader, at least in the beginning of ‘Batman V. Superman’, has no hope. Before the CGI mess that is Doomsday appears, Batman throws down his Kryptonite spear. The Martha thing sucks. I won’t lie to you there. It’s silly and executed pretty poorly. But there is a lesson behind it.

Superman, as explicitly stated in ‘Man of Steel’is a symbol of hope. Batman has forgotten what hope is. He’s lost people. Friends. Bruce Wayne/Batman has come to see his enemies as inhuman. Is it any surprise that he treats Superman with so much hostility?

Make no mistake. ‘Batman V. Superman’ is in fact a Batman film. He has the arc here. He starts the movie as a husk of his former self, driven by fear and hatred. After the big throw down with Supes, Batman once again remembers that humanity (Superman has a MOTHER) is once again worth protecting.

I want to sum it up with one of the final scenes of the film. Batman has Lex Luthor pinned to a wall, his Batbrand ready to mark Luthor for death. When the lights flash, Batman punches the wall, leaving Luthor unscathed. Batman spares Lex Luthor.

It’s called growth. And ‘Batman V. Superman’ has it. Who knew?

Don’t Breathe (Film Review)

I was very pumped for director Fede Alvarez’s newest film. I’m a major fan of 2013’s ‘Evil Dead’ remake. It’s a violent and tense piece of horror film making. The question on my mind is whether or not Alvarez’s sophomore effort will work as well. Let’s dive in!

The plot, from IMDB, is as follows:

Hoping to walk away with a massive fortune, a trio of thieves break into the house of a blind man who isn’t as helpless as he seems.

‘Don’t Breathe’ comes in at a brisk 88 minutes. The first act of the film introduces us to our heroes (?) Rocky (Jane Levy), her boyfriend Money (Daniel Zovatto), and the mastermind of their capers, Alex (Dylan Minnette). After Money meets with his criminal contact, they identify a new house to rob. The city of Detroit is a perfect setting for a film like this. Overgrown lawns and abandoned houses are a perfect representation of Rocky’s mindset. One last job will save her and her little sister from an abusive mother. And it’s only a blind man! How could it go wrong?

The creativity on display in this film is really and truely staggering. The plot plays out pretty much in one setting with one antagonist. The camera dips and dives through every scene, finding ways to highlight even the most mundane set ups. Our heroes (?) and our villain (?) are not black and white. They both commit terrible crimes. But’s it’s the way they are presented, with complex histories and motivations, that makes them fascinating as characters. You feel bad for The Blind Man. For awhile at least.

Stephen Lang is a formidable presence. It’s a very physical performance, punctuated by whimpers and, later, grunts. He turns the tables on our able bodied protagonists with an ease that is both surprising and terrifying.

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The title here is very apt. I found myself holding my breath for long stretches of time during the film so I could listen for every inhale and exhale of our characters. It’s a film of meaningful silences. Every breath counts. It’s powerful.

I love ‘Don’t Breathe’ because of it’s breakneck pace. It’s a B-movie made exceptionally well by a  filmmaker that could very well be our new Craven or Carpenter. It’s a guilty pleasure horror film that you don’t have to feel guilty about enjoying.

Off the Shelf (For the week of August 22nd)

Hello readers! Logan here! Welcome to ‘Off The Shelf’! In a world filled with entertainments, it’s quite often difficult to sort through the dredges to find something of merit. Every week I’d like to share what films, novels, video games & comics I’ve enjoyed and pass them on to you. Solidarity! I’ve carefully picked through the shelves of The Fiction and Film Emporium warehouse to supply you with what I’ve been enjoying/hating. Without further ado…

What have I been reading?

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Coldheart Canyon by Clive Barker

Clive Barker has given the so much horror goodness. The Damnation Game! The Books of Blood! The Hellbound Heart! This book, centered around a haunted canyon in Hollywood, is as haunting as it is disturbing. Barker is really and truly a master.

What have I been watching?

The Office on Netflix

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One of the all time best television comedies, the dry genius of the office can’t be topped. Michael. Dwight. Jim. Pam. Classic characters that, even as the show gets more ridiculous in later seasons, feel very real. That show is endlessly quotable.

 

What have I been listening to?

The Vanishing by Wendy Webb through Audible

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I’ve recently started using Audible at work and in my car to sneak some extra reading. ‘The Vanishing’ came from my current obsession with Gothic Horror. This book, unfortuntly, was a poor representation of the genre. Not terribly interesting or scary. Onto the next book!

Anything else?

I went and watched ‘Don’t Breathe’ last night! Expect a review next week. The official Twitter account for The Fiction and Film Emporium is now up and running! Feel free to follow us @FFEmporium!

That’s it! Until next time…


Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013) – Better Late Than Never Reviews

Welcome back to ‘Better Late Than Never Reviews’! Reviewing some lesser known classics as well as a random crappy flick or two. Guard yourself, for there may be spoilers. It’s time to head deep into the chainsaw filled wilds of Texas. Without further ado…

‘Texas Chainsaw 3D’ is a cinematic fart. It’s loud, stinky, and made me want to flee the room to escape it’s presence. This movie angered me. This movie annoyed me. In other words, the newest piece of celluloid flatulence that is this franchise arrives exactly as I expected it would.

Our film this go around starts up moments after the original Texas Chainsaw film wraps up. The Sheriff of Newt, Texas arrives at the home of the Sawyer family, ready to arrest the  them for defaces of crime. But, because the sheriff is slow and inept, some locals arrive, armed to the teeth to get revenge. After a shot is fired by mistake, the Sawyer family find themselves at the wrong end of a molotov cocktail. As nearly the entire inbred Sawyer family goes up in flames, one lone member escapes, baby in her arms. One of the townspeople takes the baby to raise as their own.

Then we jump to what (I assume) is 2013 to the 20-something Heather (played by Alexandra Daddario) receiving the last will and testament of her grandmother who Heather has never actually met. You see, she’s that baby, all grown up after all that time. (That doesn’t even make sense! Heather would be like 40!) With a crew of dumb teenagers in tow, Heather takes the trip to reconnect with a family she never knew she had. Enter her cousin (?) Leatherface, who the deceased grandmother was taking care of. As Leatherface extremely violently murders her boyfriend and her other chums, Heather contends with some angry townsfolk and the finds her place in her long lost family.

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That’s right. That’s what this film decides to focus on! ‘Texas Chainsaw 3D’ takes a annoyingly long time trying to make Leatherface into some kind of hero, an ally to the confused Heather. Leatherface saws her friends in half. Splatters her with her own blood. And, as the film arrives at it’s stupid finale, Heather utters one of the worst lines I’ve ever heard in the history of horror cinema.

“Do your thing, cuz!”

The kills, when director John Luessenhop bothers to even show us them, are boring and pedestrian. The performances are bad even for a slasher. The script makes little to no sense, jumping from lame set piece to lame set piece. Even little moments of creativity (Leatherface rampaging into a carnival) are buried by so much BAD. The film’s incredible leaps in logic and coherent throughout are both lazy and depressing.

I rented ‘Texas Chainsaw 3D’ expecting a by-the-numbers kind of slasher film. Teenage kids go somewhere, get drunk, get killed. The film’s opening 30 minutes starts us on the right track off before veering off into unexplored territory. Trying to make Heather love (?) her long lost cousin after he makes a face from their flesh is asinine, misguided, and downright STUPID. At least ‘I Still Know What You Did Last Summer’, another bad slasher I reviewed for Better Late Than Never Reviews, knew it’s place. With all that film’s problems at least it’s FUN. ‘Chainsaw’ is terrible. Just bad.

Unless you are a member of the Sawyer clan, stay away. STAY FAR AWAY.

Book Review: ‘The Con Season’ by Adam Cesare

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Written by Adam Cesare

Published by Black T-Shirt Books

Plot is as follows:

Horror movie starlet Clarissa Lee is beautiful, internationally known, and…completely broke.

To cap off years of questionable financial and personal decisions, Clarissa accepts an invitation to participate in a “fully immersive” fan convention. She arrives at an off-season summer camp and finds what was supposed to be a quick buck has become a real-life slasher movie.

Deep in the woods of Kentucky with a supporting cast of B-level celebrities, Clarissa must fight to survive the deadly game that the con’s organizers have rigged against her.

Plot summary taken from the Amazon product description. 

‘The Con Season’ is a horror novel for horror fans. It’s takes a literary dive into the slasher genre, bathing us in gore and plenty of knowing winks.

Adam Cesare’s newest work operates on multiple levels. It’s outside is a highly inventive bloody romp, the written equivalent to so many classic 1980’s gorefests. After the blood begins to flow you start to see the hidden skeleton beneath. It’s clear that Cesare not only understands the tropes and cliches, but that’s he’s willing to subvert and morph them to deliver a thrilling adventure that never grows stale under decades of genre history and expectations.

Our characters are introduced as a variety of known horror archetypes. The mastermind, the killer, the final girl, the tough guy and the level headed leader. My concern going in was that Cesare would stick to those well worn cliches and that the book would suffer. Thankfully, he avoids it. Clarissa is a great character, layered with the all too real fears and concerns that an aging actress would have. The major slasher villain, The Fallen One (awesome name!) was terrifying in a very visceral way. The rest of the cast, mostly filled in with aging horror celebrities and other villains, do a fantastic job of fleshing out this horrific novel.

As horror fans we love to worship our icons. Any self respecting fan gets a little excited when Jamie Lee Curtis drops in for a cameo or when Barbara Crampton plays a leading role in some indie piece. ‘The Con Season’ plays into that nostalgia, lampooning horror conferences and demonizing the worst corners of the fandom.

Cesare is a very skilled writer, using a clear knowledge of horror pitfalls to make his high concept seem plausible at every turn. His open ending left me pondering where this story goes next. ‘The Con Season’ is a horror movie turned into a horror novel. What kind of ending are we getting?

‘The Con Season’ is a lean and mean novel. It pulls no punches. Filled with interesting characters and some truly thrilling sequences, this is a novel that everyone should immediately go out and download.

 

Off The Shelf: For the week of August 8th

Hello readers! Logan here! Welcome to ‘Off The Shelf’! In a world filled with entertainments, it’s quite often difficult to sort through the dredges to find something of merit. Every week I’d like to share what films, novels, video games & comics I’ve enjoyed and pass them on to you. Solidarity! I’ve carefully picked through the shelves of The Fiction and Film Emporium warehouse to supply you with what I’ve been enjoying/hating. Without further ado…

What have I been reading?

The Haunting of Hill House- Shirley Jackson

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A horror classic (like a dummy) that I’ve never actually read. I’m only about mid way through but it’s fascinating to read a novel that has influenced nearly every modern haunted house novel since.

What have I been watching?

30 Rock – On Netflix

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As far as laughs per minute are concerned, ’30 Rock’ is a TV show that is hard to beat. As funny as it is random, ’30 Rock’ has an amazing cast that is supplemented by some of the best guest stars I’ve seen on a TV show ever. If you like your comedy absurd and clever, ’30 Rock’ is the way to go.

What have I been listening to?

Traveller – Chris Stapleton

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Country music gets a bad rep. The new age pop direction the genre has taken is a little sad. Chris Stapleton looks to rectify that. With a whiskey soaked voice and some styling that bring me back to the greatness of country in the 1990’s, this is a album that I think can appeal to people who can’t stand the dumb hits that get played on repeat on the radio. Listen to ‘Tennessee Whiskey’, ‘Nobody to Blame’ and ‘More of You’ to see the gold that Stapleton has to offer.

Anything else?

We’ve got a bunch of great horror films coming out over the next few months (‘Don’t Breath’ & ‘Blair Witch’ for instance) that I can’t wait to cover. It’s a great time to be a fan…

That’s it! Until next time…