Time for another less-well-known Magic website/resource that I have recently found and enjoy quite a lot! Today I'm talking to Adam Hoffman of MTG Assist!
Who are you and Why do we care?My name is Adam Hoffman, designer/developer/marketer for MTGAssist.com. The site itself is all you should really care about, but it's worth noting that it's a one-man operation!
What is MTGAssist?
MTGAssist.com started as a hobby project to see if I could successfully create a site that can automatically detect cards similar to the one you are viewing. That idea was so successful that I went on to develop a full search engine with all sorts of powerful search features.
What makes MTGAssist stand out against other mtg search sites?
In addition to being the only site with a "similar card search," MTGAssist also has standard and advanced search features, pricing for both paper and MTGO cards, and a 100% responsive design (so it works great on your cell phone or other mobile devices). The other "big two" search engines (magiccards.info and Gatherer) have plenty of search features, but are either too confusing or don't let you narrow your search based on criteria that matters to you.
Beyond the site features, MTG Assist also has very active Facebook and Twitter followings. Card of the day, card guessing, random flavor texts... just about everything you can imagine to keep you entertained throughout the day.
Tell us a little about yourself and your history with the game. When did you start playing Magic?
I first started playing during Revised, right before 4th Edition came out. I only played for a while, up through Mirage, before I got caught up with other hobbies. I was re-immersed in Magic in 2010 with the release of Mirrodin Besieged and obviously had a lot to catch up on.
What is your favorite card?
Obviously I have different favorite cards for different situations, but I've always considered [card]Flickerwisp[/card] to be a very fun card to play. I love bounce effects and utility creatures, and this one fits the bill for both very well.
What formats are your favorite to play?
Nowadays, I mostly play either Pauper or Commander/EDH on MTGO. I'm a cheapass and these formats make it pretty easy to make budget decks. I love Modern as well, but have never wanted to make the financial commitment to start playing it competitively.
What types of decks do you like to play?
My decks always seem to revolve around removal, so white and black are a reoccurring theme, it seems. I enjoy a tempo-style deck; one with a lot of card interactions and effects to keep a card and battlefield advantage. Sometimes I enjoy a good control deck, but I always feel dirty after playing it.
Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions Adam and keep up the great work!
That's all we have time for this week, so until next time...
Use YOUR shoes as counters,
Wooberg has T-Shirts available now, thanks to the artwork of Nate Slover, FREE SHIPPING on all orders!
Hidden Gems (for those of you who don't remember) is a series where I highlight an up and coming website or resource inthe Magic community that I love and want to share with all of my readers. MTGCrossing.com is a great tool that I have been using for a short time now and involves getting "free" cards. Interested? Without further ado, I leave you with Frank...
Who are you and Why do we care ?
My name is Frank van Gils and I come from the Netherlands. Married, proud father of two kids and the creator of MTG Crossing. I wanted to give something back to the Magic community because I have enjoyed playing magic for such a long time. So I've built a free service in my spare time, MTG Crossing, which allows people to send and receive personalized booster packs.
What is MTGCrossing Exactly?
MTG Crossing is a website that offers a fun and unconventional way to exchange cards. A member is (semi)-randomly assigned to another member once he indicates he wants to do an exchange. The sender then creates and sends a personalized booster pack (15 cards) based on the profile and wishlist of the receiver from cards in their own collection. Once the pack is registered on the website by the receiver, the sender becomes eligible to receive a personalized booster from another (semi)-randomly chosen member. This process creates an exciting and refreshing way to send and receive Magic cards since you never know who you will have to send to and what you will get back!
So who all is involved in maintaining MTGCrossing?
Currently I'm solely responsible for MTG Crossing doing all design, development, and promotion. I get fantastic support though from my wife and friends to keep everything going. Most of my time is spent improving and expanding the service based on analytics and feedback from the community. I also spend quite some time promoting the service so that it continues to grow and attract new members from different countries.
Tell us a little about yourself and your history with the game. When did you start playing Magic, and what is your favorite card?
I started playing Magic around Mercadian Masques when I was in high school. A friend of mine introduced it to me and I have been playing on-and-off ever since depending on the time available. My favorite aspect of Magic is it's social component. You can play with anyone, anywhere and have fun even if you don't share a language as I have experienced in Japan when I lived there for a few months.
My favorite card is [card]Two-Headed Dragon[/card]. I pulled it from one of my first boosters and I was convinced it had to be one of the best cards ever. I really love the art and flavor of the card and I have always been a big fan of dragons in any game, book or movie.
What formats are your favorite to play?
I mainly play limited and commander. I really like attending the occasional draft or prerelease to be able to build from scratch and play with something different every time. I was introduced to commander in Japan and have been hooked since. I love the format for its crazy plays and the sheer time you can just spend thinking up new decks and strategies.
What types of decks do you like to play?
For limited I prefer to keep my strategies simple since I'm not the best player on the block and mainly play to relax, so aggro is normally my choice of weapon.
For commander I love playing tribal or challenging myself to build decks with weird requirements. For example my [card]Melek, Izzet Paragon[/card] doesn't contain any non-land permanents. So only lands, sorceries and instants. I'm also currently trying to get a [card]Mikaeus, the Lunarch[/card], only converted mana cost one cards are allowed, off the ground.
I'll be appearing on an upcoming episode of Commandercast once again. Look for it coming up!
I am well aware that this series is a bit...belated. Theros is now last years' block, but I wasn't playing Magic at all last year (other than with teaching decks with my 6 year old daughter) and so I didn't have a chance to play against these decks at the Prereleases, or really, at all until I recently grabbed one of each from Amazon.
As a reminder, Here is the deck I've been running against the Challenge Decks:
I shuffled up this deck, and the Minotaur Horde, and got ready to stomp it to a paste like I did the Hydra...and I LOST, hard.
Game 1, the minotaurs pounded me hard! This deck does not have the stipulation that, you win if there are no creatures in play. Even when I was able to cull the early parts of the swarm, the hastey minotaurs just kept coming. My burn was more valuable, because the minotaurs didn't respawn BECAUSE of the deaths of their guys, but they had some blowout turns. No artifacts showed up this game to make them flip play more cards this game. I went on an early aggro plan (as this deck clearly wants to do) and the minotaurs would just flip up a brutal set of creatures and swing for 5 while I was tapped out, and that was too much for me to recover from. The one sweeper (that deals 3 damage to all creatures) cleaned me and the horde out, but the horde killed me after that cleared the way for them to swing in for lethal.
Game 2 I got stuck on 2 land and got whupped again.
Game three was more interesting, and I won, a little more easily than I would have liked, but not any more easily that the wins tend to be when I play ACTUAL Horde Magic. This time I saw a couple artifacts too, later in the game and the horde was flipping up 4 cards in its last few turns, but it was too late in the game and I pulled out the win.
All-in-all, this deck is MUCH better and more competitive than the hydra was. It's also WAY more similar to traditional Horde Magic, and could be fun as a Horde deck, but the artifacts that cause more flips could get BROKEN fast.
I definitely suggest picking this one up, I haven't tried it with any other decks, because I still felt like anything more tuned would make it a walk in the park, but against limited decks or precons, the Minotaur Horde is just the right amount of nasty.
So until next time, use YOUR shoes as counters!
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.
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.