A year late, I know, but I finally broke down and bought the Theros Challenge Decks and I just recently played the Face the Hydra one. I had originally intended to play against it with different decks of varying levels of power and complexity and report my findings, but if you keep reading, you'll see why that was unnecessary.
The other obvious comparison is to Horde Magic, a popular variant coined by Peter Knudson over on Quiet Speculation, I am going to compare and contrast the two formats and let you know how the Hydra challenge deck sizes up.
So, upon buying the Face the Hydra deck, I knew that it was intended for "standard decks" and along those lines, was likely build for sealed or draft pools because of it's debut as a side event at the Theros prerelease/release events. I wanted to push the limits of what could be played against it and see how it held up against varying decks that casual players might have.
I started with a deck I build to teach my 6 year old daughter to play magic. It is NOT powerful, in fact, it is pretty weak, but it is consistent. Likely able to easily defeat any limited pool, but it wouldn't stand up to any deck that has more than the one keyword mechanic in it. Here is my list, albeit a little out of date because we recently had added more cards and a few with haste because her reading and understanding of the rules have improved dramatically, the picture below however is the full deck I used:
I played 3 games against the hydra, and I won all three. There was one that was a tiny bit close, but this weak tutorial deck cleaned up against the hydra, no contest.
So as I said before, I didn't bother playtesting with stronger decks, because it was WAY too easy. I don't have a playgroup at present either, so this will be a review of solo play. That being said, any co-op game CAN be played as a solo game with similar results, and while I think more players would increase banter, it would not change how easy it is to defeat the hydra.
I also did not use any of the Hero cards, which I did go to the trouble to obtain because I simply did not need the power boost.
Horde Magic and How to Make the Hydra More Fun
When I read about these challange decks on the Mothership, I immediately compared them in my mind to Horde Magic. When I got mine, and read the rules, I realized this is much more toned down than Horde Magic, and even less of a challenge.
One of the few complaints about Horde Magic is how easy it has been to defeat the Horde, and the Hydra deck only draws 1 card per turn and more if you cut off a head. I would like to propose using 4 of the Hydra decks merged together AS a Horde deck and combining the rules. Here is my take:
Face the Hydra WOOBERG Style
You can battle the Hydra alone or with friends (just replace "you" with "each player" in these rules). At the end of any turn, if there are no Heads on the battlefield and no cards in the Hydra's deck, you win! Use the regular Magic rules with the following exceptions:
WOOBERG Style Hydra Challenge Horde Decklist
30 Hydra Head
10 Ravenous Brute Head
5 Savage Vigor Head
5 Snapping Fang Head
5 Shrieking Titan Head
Sorceries (this list is three short, add 3 sorceries from this list at your discretion)
5 Disorienting Glower
5 Distract the Hydra
4 Grown from the Stump
4 Hydra's Impenetrable Hide
3 Neck Tangle
4 Noxious Hydra Breath
2 Strike the Weak Spot
5 Swallow the Hero Whole
4 Torn Between Heads
6 Unified Lunge
I recently bought all the Theros block Challenge Decks to give them a go and get back into Magic without a playgroup. I ran through the Hydra deck a couple times and plan on writing up the format in review in the coming days. Keep your eyes peeled.
The WOOBERG.net Patreon campaign is live! Show your support by contibuting, or contact me about donating your time, writing or artistic skills, or Magic products!
Thanks for your support!
P.S.: I have a special article in the works after having bought Defeat the Hydra, and the other two Theros block Challenge decks. Look for some "best practices" when using those decks vs. different levels of pre-constructed, limited and constructed Magic decks!
Since 2006 WOOBERG.com/net/whatever has been providing the Magic community with a complete and (mostly) current listing of every known alternate way to play Magic the Gathering.
After 8 years, WOOBERG has started to dwindle, less articles have posted to the site, many formats are in serious need of updating, and there are tons of upgrades I have planned as well.
I am launching a Patreon campaign in the near future to try and raise some funds to reinvigorate WOOBERG and turn it into the MtG resource I know it CAN be, but never actually made it to.
My goals for the campaign are as follows:
- Replace the WOOBERG banner: After all these years, the same banner I used for WOOBERG.com and with images my original graphic designer stole without permission are still partly in use, with terrible photoshop patches from me. I want to either commission or otherwise obtain a legitimate, nice looking banner that will make WOOBERG look more professional.
- Streamline and update all format pages to be workable with the current MtG comp rules and all new card types, sets and mechanics. I also want to supply the name of the inventor of formats, helpful links for each and any other relevant information that could help players looking for info on a MtG variant. This may involve obtaining help via hiring and/or volunteers. I would also like to maintain a Banned & Restricted list for every format that needs one to be maintained and does not already have a ruling body in place to do so.
- Create a Forum: I would love to have a WOOBERG community once again, back in 2008 I lost all of my work on WOOBERG.com when my web guy at the time stopped paying for the domain without informing me. Since then, I have learned how to be my own web guy, but I was never able to recover the WOOBERG.com forums and since they have been gone, every forum I have created has had little to no activity.
- Content and more creators: I would love to have a weekly article rotation like all major Magic websites do, but there is no way I could do this by myself. I'd love to get volunteer writers, but even better, I would be able to pay writers to produce content for WOOBERG.net. I want to have a weekly article for Tribal Wars, 5-Color, EDH, Pauper or Peasant, and a 5th article that rotates through all the less popular variants.
- Other Improvements: WOOBERG's Random format generator and search engine could use some work. Also, I'd like to have a "format of the week" widget on the site. I can think of all manner of little tweaks like this that I'd love for WOOBERG to have, but again, all that development takes time, and time is money!
I know WOOBERG has a store link and a donate link on it already, but the store is just spare promos I have lying around from running events and generates little revenue, and I recently lost the only sponsor I had. Domain hosting costs me money, and I keep the site running for love of the casual MtG community, but if WOOBERG is to be a truly great MtG website changes need to be made. Please consider making a donation to WOOBERG if you use the site as a reference. If you can't make a money donation, there are plenty of writing and other volunteer opportunities. Also, any amount of cards that are donated could be used to run contests to promote the site.
For any of these alternate methods of assistance, contact me using the "Contact" page.
Thanks for your support of WOOBERG, and until next time....
Use YOUR shoes as counters!
Every November, teh interwebs charges me to keep the wooberg.net domain alive and kicking. I'm not playing Magic much these days, and it seems from my side of things that the number of eyes hitting WOOBERG has dwindled.
I have 2 different simultaneous reactions to this, one is to cut my losses and stop paying to keep WOOBERG alive and take the site down, (likely ceasing updates, but still hosting on a free domain wooberg.weebly.com where I was for a brief period in the past) the other is to try and rejuvenate the site and turn it into something better than it has ever been before.
This is where you, theoretical viewers, come in. Leave a comment on this post if you want to see more WOOBERG, if you are a Magic author or would like to be one and write on WOOBERG about one or many of your favorite variant formats, drop me a comment here as well.
I think MTG variant formats are a blast, but not having any way to recoup my costs to keep the site going, combined with dwindling usage by the Magic community make me want to either go big or go home with WOOBERG.
Let me know which it should be,
WOOBERG has been relatively silent lately, but today I am announcing my official Magic store on TCGPlayer.com! Currently inventory is small, due to selling restrictions on new sellers there, but keep your eyes peeled for great deals that also help keep WOOBERG up and running.
Well, it looks like WOOBERG will have to begin searching for a new banner graphic, after contacting the owner of the little spell casting squirrel, I've been priced out of using the image.
Anyone who is involved with artwork and magic is welcome to contact me with submissions.
Even better, anyone who can digitally finish pencil sketches who wants to finish the image below it would be greatly appreciated.
I don't play much Magic anymore, but mainly because the price to play has gotten too high for my blood. I spend most of my time and money on board games and RPG system material these days.
Recently, my neighbor and fellow gamer, got the Magic bug and his co-workers play at lunch so he tried out the Duel Decks: Heroes vs Monsters boxed set. He likes the game, but isn't interested in investing any cash-money or time beyond the boxed set, and I totally get it. While i love deck-building, the time-consuming nature of the process, combined with the cost of cards would crush any new player's soul these days.
What I AM trying to get at, is that Magic doesn't HAVE to be an expensive hobby. Whether you are just tossing around the newest Duel Deck product, or are playing Big Box with a giant pile of commons and basic land, Magic can be, just another board game, and not crush your soul or your wallet.
If you are the type who is unwilling to try a CCG, you probably aren't reading my site, but if you are, give the game a fair try as JUST a game, and then if you like it, buy a Duel Deck set. The game doesn't HAVE to be the infinite time and money sink it is perceived to be by most hobby gamers that don't do CCG's
In the recent months, it's no secret that I have stashed away my Magic cards in favor of cheaper and less aggressively competitive games/hobbies. I play semi-regularly with my children using incredibly simple decks, but otherwise, I don't flip the cardboard around much anymore.
That's not to say I don't miss the game, and time willing (yeah right) I'd love to get back into playing Magic again assuming I can find the right group of players (uhg, finding a gaming group is like dating, except without the "happy ending" :P).
One of the main things that got me to put down the cardboard crack-pipe, is the snowballing process of EDH/Commander has begun to push the format in a much more competitive direction that is less fun for me and for many others.
This thread, and others like it have been popping up intermittently since I would guess around the time that WOTC started promoting EDH/Commander to the masses. It is to those who have become a bit disenfranchised by Commander whom I speak now.
Godzilla is a fantastic format that started in Springfield, MO, where I went to college for a year and I LOVE the format. I have taken it upon myself to promote it as best I can and help the format keep growing and becoming better. A few years ago, I took my experience of what players loved and hated about the format and made some tweaks to the format. Since then I have unfortunately had less and less opportunity to play it, and more and more desire to whip out the fatties.
Godzilla brings the feel that pre-mass-popularity EDH brought to the kitchen table; Giant splashy spells (that don't feel like one card combos), Huge monsters combating one another and multiplayer fun. Godzilla also manages to do this while still allowing you to play 4 copies of your favorite cards, so things like [c]Stomping Stones[/c] (or your other favorites that need more than one copy to do their thing) work.
Finally, my strategy on banning cards is different from the EDH RC, if games are being ruined by a card en mass, it needs to be banned, if the card is stupid good, but not ruining games, there is a restricted list as well. The other glorious part of the deck-building rules is that it restricts combos that don't involve fat creatures (total power and toughness of 8+) due to your deck requiring at least 25/75 cards to be the aforementioned fatties.
One last point, the creatures that are legal fatties have gotten STUPID FUN in many of the recent sets! With all the fatties in Rise of the Eldrazi, Avacyn Restored and now the Monstrous creatures of Theros, there are a ton of fun giant monsters to sling around.
So, if you find yourself disenfranchised with EDH/Commander and need a new multiplayer format, try out Godzilla. If you want to play 4 copies of a card in a casual multiplayer game, try Godzilla. If you love the fatties, try Godzilla!
That's all I have for today, so until next time,
Use YOUR shoes as counters!
A long time ago, I started considering a new banner using commissioned art for WOOBERG. My wife drew me a sketch and I love it, but I don't know if it will ever make it to finished form, but here is the awesome hilarious sketch. The concept is mine, but the art is all hers.
Gotta wonder how [card]Talon Sliver[/card] can manipulate anything more complex than a wooden block.