Tuesday, December 23, 2014

New Dalmuti location, a closer look

Last weekend was the first chance to play at the new Dalmuti's location in Suwon.
It's smaller and the security guard on the bottom floor seemed to enjoy sending people away and telling them the store was located in another building. After getting out of the elevator on the fourth floor it requires traversing a dimly lit maze until you find the front door.

It doesn't take many Magic players until the place feels pretty comfortable with a nice vibe, especially since the store is now 100% Magic. The store is now only running on the weekends except for special events.

Last weekend we had a full pod of 8 but there was a lack of English boosters (something which will be remedied by this Sunday) for Khans of Tarkir. They did have Conspiracy though and we jumped into playing that. Before the draft started I probably would have preferred Korean Khans of Tarkir as I love the format and know the cards fairly well. About 3 picks into Conspiracy I remembered that I loved it (enough to build a cube around it) and had assembled a combo of World Knit and Cogwork Grinder. I had perfect mana and an 18/18 six drop in my deck. 

Sealed Conspiracy is a lot cheaper than regular sets but has quite decent value inside. I think a decent amount of players enjoy it but others want nothing to do with it. So while semi popular I think play groups and stores have a hard time finding the critical mass of players to draft it. We are lucky in Suwon to have a lot of regular drafters who like to have fun rather than dream of winning the pro tour.
There was a lot of value opened, including Eunjae getting a Dack Fayden.
Being an old man,  I get a thrill from opening sealed packs with Brainstorm and Swords to Plowshares in them but my favourite take away from the draft was a foil Squirrel Nest.

That draft was followed up by drafting Dan Leonard's cube and the store provided free prizes. It was a lot of fun and I got to play Stoneforge Mystic fetching Batterskull on turn 2 as well as flickering my creature with the Planeswalker Venser before casting Wrath of God. Good times, even when losing to a brutal five colour control deck in round two.

To try and top those shenanigans the cube will be back for a 6:00 pm draft this week, but the main event will be backdraft. That is where you try and draft the worst deck you can and then it is given to someone else. You then get passed a pool that someone else has drafted and try but usually fail to build something resembling a deck. You score points based on your wins and when whoever got the pool you drafted loses. As well as the usual boosters and pride on the line the store is also giving away Garruk's Nerf Axe and some wall sized posters.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

This week in Korean Magic

It's been an interesting week for Magic in Korea.
Kindle shop in Seoul and Elder Dragon in Ulsan are set to close their doors. It's sad and the announcement about Kindle closing seemed to come out of the blue.
In retrospect it should not be that surprising as Magic shops in Korea aren't run very professionally. Kindle had a large playing space but didn't have a website, not exactly 2014 best practise.
Last minute scheduling or scheduling changes are fairly frequent at some stores and I have never seen a program designed at catering for new or casual players. There was an article on MTG Price about foreign cards (http://blog.mtgprice.com/2014/12/16/foreign-language-cards-for-dummies/) and the author laments not being able to find a single Korean retailer who ships overseas.
A lot of stores don't operate proper singles sales or buy lists. Giving up margins of 40-60% in favour of letting players handle singles and taking just 10-15%.
This reliance on the sale and price of sealed product (the prices are fixed and MSRP is never publicly broken by an individual store) means Korean stores are especially vulnerable to a wholesale price increase. Just recently Wizards of the Coast reduced the discount they offered to retailers on sealed product and within months we have seen the closure of two major Korean stores.

Despite all this negativity Dalmuti's in Suwon gave me a pleasant surprise when they announced they were not closing when their old lease expired. Instead they have moved to a new location.

Magic in Suwon now has it's own Facebook group. I don't think I am going out on a limb by saying it is the best thing that has ever been on Facebook.  (https://www.facebook.com/groups/303915966473798/)

Dalmuti's Suwon

Dalmuti's in Suwon has changed location.
The new store is now fully focussed on Magic and the location looks more convenient, especially for those who enjoy Belgian fries.

There is an English draft of the latest set every Sunday at 1:00 pm.

For information on additional events you can check out the MTG in Suwon facebook page (www.facebook.com/groups/303915966473798/).

Korean address: 경기도 수원시 팔달구 매산로1가 골든프라자 401호

Thanks to local legends Annalise and Dan we have these excellent instructions on how to find the new store.

Soju Alley

You keep going through the heavily populated part of Soju Alley. You have to press on past this intersection.

The building. Golden Palace. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Kindle the Flames

The heading might be in bad taste but I cant resist a pun and a segue no matter how dark the subject matter.

On Sunday I played in the last draft at the old Suwon Dalmuti's. Thankfully next week they will be open in a new location but the details we have are still pretty sparse. It seems to be very close to Sam Ryan's pub. While the location is convenient being so close to Sam Ryan's and with the Belgium fries place "on the way" I could be gaining a few kilos.

The new location will apparently kick things of with a special Modern tournament starting at 3:00 pm this Saturday (20th December). Hopefully I find out how to get there before then. Given what is happening at Kindle Shop, I am very thankful to Robbie (the owner of Dalmuti's) for keeping it going.

Today the owner of Kindle Shop 박민영 announced that his store will close at the end of this month. This really came out of the blue and Kindle is a very big part of the Korean Magic community.
Just one week ago the Korean team made the top 4 of the World Magic cup and qualified the entire team for the next Pro Tour. A fantastic achievement and a huge boon for the community. The captain Nam Sung-Wook got to ask on camera for Wizards to host a GP in Korea.
A week later and Seoul just lost one of it's premier play locations.

The FNM promotional foil for December is Stoke the Flames and I was lucky enough to get one yesterday. I think I still prefer the original art because I have a lot of fond memories of it from M15 draft but the foil is very pretty and I was stoked to get one.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Dalmutis in Suwon - Magic Extravaganza

The future of Dalmutis in Suwon is up in the air. The current store has been understocked for quite some time and the lease will not be renewed. There is talk of a new and smaller location but nothing has been found yet. There is a good chance that a new location won't be found and Suwon will be left without a Magic shop.

With the shop closing "some time this month", local players are treating this weekend as the fare well party.

On Saturday, players from Seoul will be travelling down for games of EDH starting at 1:00 pm. Bring your EDH deck if you want to participate in a mix of free for all, two headed giant and kingdoms. The store does have a few commander 2015 decks in stock if you need one. It's also very easy to borrow an EDH deck as most players will be bringing multiples. In the evening more EDH as well as a cube draft look to be on the agenda.
There is also an SCG event where you can win pins and tokens pencilled in for around 3:00 pm. The format will be modern.

On Sunday there will be a sanctioned draft using English Khans of Tarkir cards starting at 1:00pm. This will be followed by a retro grab bag draft using an assortment of old packs. I am super excited for the retro grab bag but the whole weekend should be a lot of fun.

I would not be surprised if a back draft happens some time that weekend as well. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

TPZ Shop

TPZ Shop is located in Incheon. It is near the Station (예술회관역) also known as the Arts Center. The shop itself is very close to Domino's Pizza.

They seem to have their own blog with much better pictures and directions.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

The five biggest FU’s in Magic

Everyone’s enjoying a great Standard format and one of the best limited sets of all time while cracking pretty fetch lands. I think it’s important to remember the not so good times, so without further ado.

This is my list of the five biggest FU’s from Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro towards players.

5- Limited Product Availability
Things like Commanders Arsenal and most of the From the Vaults product look great. Unfortunately a lot of people who wanted them either couldn’t get them or had to pay through the nose. MSRP was often ignored and members of the community felt left out because some were bestowed a good deal and others were told to take a hike. The one that hurt most was Modern Masters 2. They make an awesome set and tell everyone how awesome it is to draft and then hide it on the top shelf of the pantry. I love drafting and Modern, I got to draft Modern Masters exactly zero times and only got to play sealed once.

4 – White Ward
Seriously, I got this in my first ever starter deck. It’s amazing I didn’t quit this game on the spot.

3 – Old School Tourney Rules
Ignoring the fact that the player base was fairly dodgy back then, tournaments were also the wild west organizational wise. Sealed deck would use starter decks that came with a random allocation of lands. This was your pool and there was no adding of additional basic lands or land station. If you opened 23 green spells and one forest, suck it up princess. Travelled 2 hours to get here and lost in the first round, what a shame it was single elimination.
Have a single land in your opening hand, well that’s a locked in keeper because you were only allowed to mulligan zero land hands (after revealing to your opponent).

2 – White Borders
White borders were a nice way of differentiating between older printings and reprints. They didn’t just protect the expensive cards nor even just those worth more than a dollar. White Borders went all the way down to making sure you knew basic mountain number 3 was a reprint. I can understand trying to protect collectors or players “investments” but white borders didn’t really achieve that. All it ended up doing was making sure new players were branded as new. I guess the plan to make new players wear a mandatory “noob” t-shirt failed due to the cotton pickers strike of 95 and the introduction of white borders was an emergency fix.

1 - Taking away Leagues from MTGO
Magic Online belongs here and there are numerous reasons why. The program is the one thing on this list which does feel like a serious FU to players. My nomination for one thing that stands out is the Duke Nukem 3D like promising that “Leagues are coming back”. The emphasis should be on back because this is a feature Magic Online used to have. A great way for people to pick up and play when they wanted with little wait time between matches. This feature was too user friendly and made less money than forcing people to booster draft so it was removed.

They at least deserve points for creativity because this is the first instance of a 10 year old program having features actively removed.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Podcasts 2014

Last year I made a list of my favourite podcasts and since then my listening list has changed a little bit. So I thought it was worth revisiting for 2014.

Magic the Amateuring was a podcast recommended by Dan and at the time it was certainly a good listen. I think it probably still holds some value for newer players but since one of the main hosts Ben left, the show just is not working for me.
Limited Resources is currently going through a transition period as the excellent Brian Wong has departed from the cohost chair.
My enjoyment of The Deck Tease fluctuates with my interest in that particular guest. I don’t really care about what the childhood of someone I don’t know was like. When it is someone I am already familiar with, then bring it on.

I can’t think of a single podcast that I could recommend for new players, which kind of annoys me. Most Magic podcasts go for too long and need tighter editing. For new players I think telling them to listen to a 1,2,3 or even 5 hour long podcast is just too daunting.
If anyone knows of a 1/2 hour podcast that touches briefly on news and then talks a bit about draft and standard I would love to hear about it. I think podcasts are an unobtrusive way for people to think about Magic while traveling or at work.
There is a dearth of Limited podcasts in general, with Limited Resources being the only one that comes to mind. I listen each week and think it is a good resource for improving at Magic. It is long, dry and goes very deep on some topics which make it a big commitment for someone who may only draft once a month.
Magic the Amateuring do talk a decent amount of limited but it’s hard to gauge if someone will enjoy the sense of humour that show has.

I feel a nice and tight 30 minute podcast that features a decent amount of limited would fill a void in the community.

If you are looking for a podcast with a local slant then the Travelling Mages are hosted by Jose Lily who currently resides in Seoul. They have had a couple of Seoul regulars on as guests and dedicated one show to Magic in Seoul in particular.

Last years top 7 were:
Limited resources
The Spike Feed
Brainstorm Brewery
The Eh Team
Drive to work
The Deck Tease
Heavy Meta

I still listen to all 7 of those but certainly not every episode. The Spike Feed, Brainstorm Brewery and Heavy Meta seem as good as ever but the other 4 have all fallen a little in my eyes.
The Eh Team podcast and members seem at a crossroad with their involvement in Magic. The chemistry is just not right with only one joker and three straight men.
Mark Rosewaters Drive to Work is divided into different series and I have little interest in most of them. They are kind of repetitive and predictable. I am enjoying the meta series based on individual years of Magic though.

I have tried a lot of new Magic podcasts this year but most of them I have discarded or are in the “not sure” category. I have enjoyed some episodes of The Travelling Mages, Potpourri, Constructed Resources, Monday Night Magic, The Modern Enthusiast, Tap N Sac, Insider Stories, So Many Insane Plays and Money Draught. They have all had episodes or segments which weren’t so enjoyable though and I am not comfortable recommending any of them yet.

Two podcasts which I have locked into my regular rotation this year are Ced Talks and At Your End Step.
Ced Talks is hosted by SCG commentator Cedric Phillips. I don’t listen to the non Magic shows (which are clearly labeled) but it’s a great podcast and certainly in my top 7 now. I’m really enjoying At Your End Step but it hasn’t quite got the runs on the board for me to comfortably put it in the top 7.

My Top 7 for this year are:
1 – The Spike Feed
2 – Brainstorm Brewery
3 – Ced Talks
4 – Heavy meta
5 – Limited Resources
6 – The Deck Tease
7 – Drive to Work

The Spike Feed is very well edited and does not waste any of the listener’s time. The producer is a full time producer and has won an Emmy doing his day job. Features a lot of standard, legacy, finance, news and modern discussion.

Brainstorm Brewery is a finance based podcast with great chemistry between the hosts. Not as tightly edited as the Spike Feed but they usually cap the episode at an hour long.

I have already talked about Ced Talks but it does amaze me that Cedric and Patrick Sullivan can still be interesting even after I have seen them put in long hours on event coverage each week.   

Heavy Meta is a long, rambling, drunken mess. There have been some genuine my gut is hurting from laughing too much moments. Usually midget related.

Limited Resources is in a little bit of a lull for me but Marshall is the consummate professional. Once the new set is released or the 2nd host spot is sorted I expect this show to regain the fire.

The Deck Tease, still the best interview podcast that is Magic related. Insider Stories might threaten for this spot later on but is in its early days so far.

Drive to Work is the only podcast n the list that comes out of Wizards of the Cost. I have it seventh this year but that is still pretty amazing when you consider this is a one man podcast.

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Monday, November 10, 2014

1 year of English drafting

Last weekend marked the one year anniversary of Suwon's weekly English draft. We had 13 players, unlucky for some but not me. I opened a fetchland and went 3-0.
I took a Chief of the Edge pack one pick one hoping to finally try the black white warriors deck or even Mardu. It didn't work out that way though and I ended up in Jeskai after taking a Sage of the Inward Eye around 5th pick.

All 3 rounds were great matches, and this is definitely one of the best limited formats of all time.One of the new players to the draft, got to live the dream and drafted 5 colours while casting Villainous Wealth.

My prize boosters contained a total value of about $2.85 which was a lot better than last weeks 3 packs which were worth about $1.59. Meanwhile one player was excited to open what he thought was a foil Bloodstained Mire. After calming down, closer inspection revealed it to actually be a Bloodfell Caves. In an instant exhilaration became apathy. Solemnly his remaining prize pack was opened and apathy became exhilaration, this time a real Bloodstained Mire was present in addition to a foil Sarkhen!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Multi Cubing

Dalmuti's has a regular cube built and maintained by local legend Dan Leonard. It has nearly everything you would expect from a non powered cube and he has and still does put a huge amount of time, energy and resources into building and maintaining it.

Rather than try and replicate what he was doing I have built a multi player cube for those times when we have just a handful of players. The regular cube uses cards from throughout the history of Magic and features more mechanics than I can count. Every card is a singleton so it can be a very overwhelming but exciting experience for newer players.

With that in mind I have put a second restraint on my cube and that is to try and keep it simple. More in line with what a core set draft would be like. The amount of mechanics used will be limited (especially at common and uncommon) and the singleton rule is also broken at the common/uncommon level so that people don't have to read every card each time.

Those restraints risk making the cube a little dry. At the Rare/Mythic level I am prepared to be a lot looser. I have grouped the commons and uncommons together (pool A) and the rares/mythics/draft matters cards together (pool B). If I put more cards from pool B in a pack, the draft is probably more fun for veteran players but more daunting for newer players. Getting that ratio just right is probably something I will get wrong, but I plan to start with 3 cards from pool B and 12 from pool A in a pack.

The two times we have drafted so far the packs have been set up to replicate the retail conspiracy experience. We had fun both times, with the last match featuring a player dying from his Gamekeeper trigger revealing Phage the Untouchable.

That is not a combo kids.

Conspiracy does feel underpowered compared to Khans of Tarkir though so it is time to take the training wheels off and start adding and subtracting cards. 
The subtracting is pretty easy to start off with. There are a lot of cards that aren't drafted often, others that are traps for new players and some that don't bring a lot to the table but are fairly complex.

The adding cards is where it gets tough. I plan on adding a morph theme despite the mechanics complexity. Players should be familiar with it thanks to drafting and playing Khans of Tarkir and there are morph cards in all five colours. That one mechanic does a lot of work and seems a good replacement for the Morbid cards in Conspiracy which haven't really been pulling their weight.

I want to have cards that encourage players to be proactive so the games don't stall out for too long but also want everyone to feel like they got to play. I think Dethrone and Parlay are good mechanics for promoting that but am not sure how well morph will play into that until I see it in action.

The list so far is (http://cubetutor.com/viewcube/8529) and is now subject to change.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Places to Play - Red Dice

Dive Dice Hyehwa closed to apparently focus on their online business. Not many tears were shed and in it's place (literally) are new owners with a new name.

Red Dice is located near Hyehwa station on the light blue line (line 4) in Northern Seoul. Sometimes this area is also referred to as Daehak Ro (대학로).

Get out at Exit 4 and then follow that road until you get to the main street and then turn right. 

Contact Details
Phone number: 070-7581-3501
Hours: 2:00 pm to 11:00 pm 
Email address: qseop@koreaboardgames.com
Korean Street address: 서울특별시 종로구 명륜동 2가 211번지 유니지오 빌딩 3층 303호
Web site: www.reddice.co.kr

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Places to Play - M & A

M & A in Korean is written as 엠엔에이.

It's located near the Korean University of Foreign Studies. On the subway it's Line 1 (dark blue) and is called 외대앞 (named after the university).

I haven't been there but quoting one of the guys from Casual MTG Seoul (Facebook group)

"To get there, take the one line up to hankuk university of foreign studies station and go out exit 6. Get on the right side of the street and walk past a make up spot. Then, you'll see an alley next to a phone store. Go in the alleyway and in the door on your left. Go up four stories and there it is."

That's all I have for now. I haven't been there but I will try and get the goss from those who have as the store seems quite popular recently as a place to play casual games of Magic.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Khans is here

This Sunday at 1:00 PM, Dalmuti's Suwon will kick off the Khans English draft season.

I'm looking forward to it because the set looks deep. There are some build around cards as well A LOT of stuff to worry about and try to put together on the fly. I have seen some pack 1 pick 1 scenarios posted online and they all seem much tougher than normal.

It will be a lot of fun if you can make it and it's followed up by a free cube draft.

I don't plan on playing standard this season so there are not a lot of cards I am chasing apart from fetch lands. There are still plenty of cool cards though.

My top 10 favourites

10 - Siege Rhino
Quite befitting this is a Rhino rather than an Elephant. Rhino's seem similar but with a nasty pointy edge. Loxodon Heirach gave you 4 life, this guy only gives you 3 but sticks it to the opponent for 3.

9 - Murderous Cut
Cheap removal and decent art. I'm a simple man who just wants to play Murderous Cut's and Stoke the Flames every draft.

8 - Sidisi & Villenous Wealth
Ok this is two cards but the description is the same "barely playable but awesome fun".

7 - Sorin, Solemn Visitor
I had to read his plus 1 ability 33 times, but I finally figured out this guy is a great card and can fit into a number of strategies. I think he's better than Sarkhan.

6 - Rakshasa Deathdealer
A really cool little guy that is solid early and dangerous late. I love small creatures that stay relevant for an entire game.

Those currently $20 bills printed at rare that are eternal playable. Like everyone else I like pulling Legacy playables from in print booster packs.

Honourable Mention - Archers' Parapet. Vent Sentinels little cousin. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Pre Release Time

This weekend is the Khans of Tarkir (called just Khans forever more) pre release.

I have the schedule for the following stores who all should have some number of English packs.

Rolling Dice Hongdae
Advised to pre register on Facebook (MTG Seoul
Midnight Prerelease of Khans of Tarkir(1)
1:00 Prerelease of Khans of Tarkir(2)
6:00 Prerelease of Khans of Tarkir(3)
1:00 Prerelease of Khans of Tarkir(4)
6:00 Prerelease of Khans of Tarkir(5)

Midnight Prerelease of Khans of Tarkir(1)
1:00 Prerelease of Khans of Tarkir(2)
6:00 Prerelease of Khans of Tarkir(3)
1:00 Prerelease of Khans of Tarkir(4)
6:00 Prerelease of Khans of Tarkir(5)

Dalmuti's Suwon
No pre registration available
Midnight Prerelease of Khans of Tarkir(1)
2:00 Prerelease of Khans of Tarkir(2)
7:00 Prerelease of Khans of Tarkir(3)
2:00 Prerelease of Khans of Tarkir(4)
7:00 Prerelease of Khans of Tarkir(5)

Sealed is W32,000 everywhere as far as I know.

Friday, September 12, 2014

M15 rides into the sunset

This Sunday will be the last M15 draft at Dalmuti's before Khans is released.

I won't be present but M15 has been a fun ride. To celebrate/commiserate this occasion I know present the coveted Angry Hermit Awards for the good, bad and the ugly cards from M15.

Best Open; For the card I actually got to take home and keep from the set.
The Winner - Nissa Worldwaker, it always feels great to open the most expensive card in the set but Nissa is also a lot of fun.

Worst Open; The card that elicits the greatest gron when you open it.
The Winner - A lot of cards fit this test these days thanks to the millions of different pre release promos that always end up bulk. The winner though is ...um one of those artifacts I can't remember the name of, it always sucks to open them.

Most Coveted Reprint; For the card you were super hyped to come back.
The Winner - With past winners Thoughtseize and Mutavault and future winners Onslaught Fetchlands this is a prestigious award. Chord of Calling got all the hype but I am going to give this to Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth because you can squeeze it into more decks other than just Melira Pod.

Prettiest Card; for the prettiest card, duh.
The Winner - It's a bit of a cliche to pick an Angle but I do like the perspective the artist used, Absolute Arch Angel.

Ugliest Card; For the prettiest minus 268 card in the set.
The Winner: The prize goes to the dark blob ogre Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient who frequently occupied the rare spot in my booster a disproportionate amount.

Favourite Card to Draft; A smile every time this non rare goes into your pile.
The Winner: It was a tough tussle with Nightfire Giant but Forge Devil wins for mine. I really underrated this little guy at the start and he was the 23rd card in my first draft deck. Has been an auto include from then on.

I can't Believed You Played That; For that card other people loved for reasons I will never know.
The Winner: Ornithopter, I still cant believe I lost to this (Ensoul Artifact)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Korean World Magic Cup Qualifiers 2014

Fresh from watching most of the M15 Pro Tour coverage thanks to a bout of insomnia the fire is re-stoked.

M15 is a good set and thanks to getting Cone of Flame and then Hoarding Dragon pick one pack one in the last two drafts I have a few wins under the belt and am starting to get ideas above my station.

A new set and the Pro Tour coverage coincided with Hearthstone having a buggy expansion launch which wouldn't grant me access to the new cards but I had to play against them on the ladder. That was just a rub in. 

The details for the World Magic Qualifiers have been released  with the first tournament set for August 17th. The format will be standard and you need to have picked up 200 Planeswalker points in the previous Magic Year (~July 2013 to June 2014). Despite not playing in any big tournaments or doing particularly well I finished with 232 points just from playing a little less than once a week. There will be a beautiful Saint of Geist Traft foil given to each participant.

That pretty foil isn't enough for me to justify travelling to the event though because I have little prospect of doing well. W35,000 won to play constructed feels very steep and the prize structure is usually top heavy. Only serious competitive players can justify that.
I do feel guilty calling distance a problem when all 3 of the qualifiers are in Seoul and the rest of the country is ignored.

Instead of playing at the WMCQ I have set my sights a little lower and will be playing in the upcoming game day in order to get the full art Reclamation Sage promo for my EDH deck. Having only played Standard once this year it probably won't be pretty.

I wish I had more news but I haven't learnt of nay new Magic shops opening in Korea. 

Korean World Magic Qualifiers

Sunday August 17, 2014 9:00 a.m.
Seodaemun-gu Office Auditorium (5th floor) 
Seodaemun-gu, Seoul 168-6 Yeonhui
₩ 35,000

Sunday August 31, 2014 9:00 a.m.
Boramae venues Youth Center  
Seoul Dongjak Shindaebang 2 East 395
₩ 35,000

Sunday September 14, 2014 9:00 a.m.
SETEC (Seoul Trade Exhibition Center)
Gangnam-gu, Seoul 514
₩ 35,000

There is no on site registration.

Monday, June 30, 2014

One final Conspiracy

Dalmuti's in Suwon will be hosting their last conspiracy draft for some time this Sunday.
The week after that M15 season kicks off with the full spoiler due today.

I have been having a hoot playing conspiracy as there is a lot going on and many different strategies and combos you can try and put together. Feels like you can really go deep when compared to Theros block.

It's not for everyone though because it's multiplayer and more social. If that's not your bag you are not going to enjoy it. If playing magic while drinking beer is your idea of a good time then don't miss it.

I haven't been playing Hearthstone as much recently. I am waiting for the expansion to hit because after hitting the 12 win mark in Arena there doesn't feel like there is much more to accomplish as a FTP (free to play) player right now. Constructed is not bad but I don't have the time or the passion to grind to be ranked Legend.
I still think it's a fantastic game though.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Magic players guide to Hearthstone Part 1 (E - explicit language)

I held of on trying Hearthstone for a long time.
I don't have an Ipad and don't use my PC for gaming. Hearthstone is now the only game I have installed on it. I previously had Magic Online installed on it but it was hardly used and is now gone.
The other problem was that that there was a problem with my authenticator and it was out of sync so I had to jump through some major hoops to log into Battlenet.

It was worth it.
My first reaction, was to turn the sound way down. My second was "Wizards are lazy as fuck".
Magic Online has been around for 10 or so years and is a piece of shit program wise.  It does feature Magic the Gathering though and you can draft, which is still my favourite thing to do in gaming.

Hearthstones version of draft is a weird hybrid draft sealed thing. It's designed to give you that rush of choosing cards but without the need for 7 people.
It works pretty well but it's doesn't replicate match the fun I get from Magic drafting.
A Magic draft pulls from a bigger pool of cards and there are a lot more possibilities in addition to the social aspect.
Hearthstone like Magic Online can't really replicate that social aspect but you get a mini draft rush that feels pretty similar to what I get when making a pick in Magic. It's not as exciting but it's still good and it is A LOT cheaper and more convenient.
One costs me W18,000 plus travel time and the other is FREE.
I have solved this problem by playing both games. I still love drafting Magic in person and will continue to so, but I don't think I will ever ever EVER re-install Magic Online.

There is one more aspect about a Magic draft that adds a lot of excitement. You get to keep the cards.
In Hearthsone you only keep your prizes so opening a super duper legendary in arena is nowhere near the excitement of  pulling a $20 Planeswalker.

That said I am not exactly using any of my Magic cards post draft except for in some EDH decks. I don't have the time or drive to invest in standard and modern tournaments seem so far away that I'm thinking of cashing out on my modern collection.

On the other hand I am really enjoying playing constructed in Hearthstone (usually to complete the daily quests and earn more gold for arena runs). It feels like that time when I started playing Magic and everyone made their own decks. In the lower ranks I was playing and winning with level one Heroes (so weaker than a starter deck) and just having a good time unlocking cards.
Obviously the better ranks are more like standard with fewer viable deck choices and more expensive decks.

Most beginner guides suggest staying out of arena (sealed/draft) and ranked play until you have played against the A.I a bunch of times and got your heroes up to level 10 but if you have competitive Magic experience you can make the jump A LOT earlier.  I still haven't got round to unlocking all the free cards and am rank 17 in constructed while averaging about 60% in Arena.

So that is the end of part 1 which is basically my first impression of Hearthstone 1 week in. 

Journey into ...

Where is this blog going?

I have a lot of Magic related things I would like to write about with ideas for 20 plus posts. Unfortunately I am working 10 - 12 hour days  and have a young family that requires a lot of attention.
Also ... Hearthstone, I love that game.

I think the most important part of this blog I helping people find the closest Magic store to them and how they can connect with other players in Korea.

When I first wanted to play Magic in Korea the Wizards store finder was hopeless and I had no idea there was a facebok page (there may not have actually been one at that time). I think it's a lot easier now to find a place or people to play with.

Hopefully I can contribute a little more and give back to the game that has given me so much when my work life balance improves.

In the meantime I will probably just write about Hearthstone. Did I mention I love that game?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The challenge

Last Sunday I took the Chromanticore challenge. I feel it’s something people should try at least once and with 3 average picks before it a 4th pick Chromanticore was slammed down. At least one of each basic land was going to be in my final list.
It didn’t just stop with Chromanticore though, in total I drafted 8 rares with 6 of them making the cut. In a vacuum Spear of Heliod and Silent Sentinel were the most powerful rares I drafted; obviously those were the two I did not play. The combined value of those 8 rares was probably about $7.

My deck featured Chromanticore and Plea for Guidance (serving as Chromanticore number two). Perplexing Chimera for both it’s ability to protect Chromanitcore and create ridiculous rules interactions.
A Scourge of Skola Vale came late which to me signalled that green was open and that people just were not in a reading mood that day since they had already passed on the walls of text that are Chromanticore and Perplexing Chimera. With Chromanticore in my pile I wanted to be base green and with a decent early defence. Scourge of Skola Vale ticked both those boxes.
While I then tried to collect as many mana fixers and early blockers as possible the story would be a little lame if the trolling finished there.
In the Theros packs I added Akroan Horse and Colossus of Akros for an Akroanian theme. They were both artifacts and defensive. The horse could bog up the ground and in a deck built to go late the Colossus could serve as ridiculous finisher number 2. I had a couple of Pharika’s Menders in the deck to serve as insurance in case my Satyr Wayfinders binned all my win conditions.
So the deck had a plan but without the two Nessian Asps I managed to get my hands on there would have been significant holes. I am comfortable with a deck that trades in the early game and then slams a Nessian Asp on the table. Adding Chromanticore to that plan was just gravy.
I won 5 games and only lost 2 finishing second with Chromanticore being bestowed quite a lot.

Clearly a work of a special type of genius, the same type of genius that went home forgetting to ask for his prize packs.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Places to play - Papa Board

PAPA Board is located in Changwon in the South of South Korea.
It looks like they take the cafe side of the board game cafe part very seriously and it seems a nice place to play.
As you can see they have a LOT of plastic hammers and are clearly worth a visit if you are in the area.

I have never been there though and can't offer much advice on how to even find the place. According to their directions they are very close to the South East corner big intersection/rotary in the middle of this map. 
If you are near Changwon I would seek out t a little more information before trying to find this place. Hopefully they show up on Wizards store locator soon. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Finance - What makes a mistake worth money?

Some recent machinations behind the scenes in Korean Magic have shaken things up a bit.

For the first time since I have lived here stores seem allowed to price individually rather than sticking with a fixed price. There is now some decent discounting going on and the price of drafting has actually dropped.

I cant ever recall a regular price decrease in the cost of playing Magic previously.

That said compared to America it is still expensive but that is the case for most consumer products. Seriously Americans pay much less (like half in some cases) for Lego than Europeans and Lego is a European product!

So with my regular drafts going from 18,000 원 to 16,000 원 make no mistake about it, I am feeling pretty content.

Talking of mistakes (fantastic segue) there is no Ashiok like blunder on this crop of Korean cards. Brimaz has some funny wording that is vague about the number of tokens you get but I don't think it is the type of error to get people excited about. The Ashiok blunder was clear and obvious and involved the numbers printed on the card. This Brimaz mistake is more subtle and only accessible to Korean speakers. I don't think this mistake will add anything to the value of Brimaz. That said he will still be an expensive foil because it is a great card and a legend.

As a rule I would say any mistake or difference between versions that can't be explained just by pointing at it is not going to be a factor in value.
The Ashiok mistake was cool and created a visible difference between versions. If you need a linguist to explain why your version of the card is different than Joe's version the purpose of pimping has been defeated. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Faking it

Fake magic cards have been in the news lately with Chinese forgers grabbing the headlines.
I haven't seen them in person but a Youtube clip from MTGLion of the fakes had me less than convinced. They were made by a playing card company and it seems they just used the same process to make a playing card but with a Magic image on the front and back. 
A playing card feels and looks completely different than a Magic card so the current batch of fakes don't seem like something to worry about .... just yet.

I am sure if there aren't better fakes out there they will be coming. I own a lot of the cards that were listed on the "starcityshop" but don't feel concerned about their value. Ironically I paid less for my cards (fetchlands, dark confidants and shocklands etc) than what this shop selling fakes was asking for!
I sold most of my high value cards that I wasn't interested in playing so the cards I own now will always hold a lot of sentimental value to me even if the Magic apocalypse occurs (again). 

Wizards of the Coast have tried to counter this by updating the card face to make it harder to forge Magic cards. The hologram to appear on rares and mythics gets the headlines for the most obvious deterrent. In my opinion the slimming of the borders is the best change. In my old age any increase to the size of the text box and card art are highly welcome. The full art Magic Player Rewards are my favourite promotional cards and I much prefer them over foils. This change gets us a little closer (with emphasis on the little) to regular Magic cards looking like the extended art promo cards (which are awesome).

Wizards have been a bit slack on reducing the border size for a long time because it gives them a lot of leeway when cutting the sheets. I would love for them to switch to coloured borders (blue, black, red, green etc) and use all that extra real estate inside on extending the art.

The one aspect that annoyed me about the counterfeit discussion was players talking about buying them to use as proxies. I found this a little disingenuous because if you are going to proxy why go for fakes? Go big or go home is my approach to proxies. Don't give your money to someone leeching of the game who is never going to contribute to the game.
If you can't afford the originals (nothing to be ashamed of there) then get creative and go full or alternative art.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Korean Singles

Listening to the latest episode of the EH Team Jeremey Schofield lamented how hard it was to find Korean singles of the magical card variety. The other varieties are rather easier to find.

The Korean Ashiok was printed to incorrectly give plus 1 instead of plus 2 for the first ability. This has caused there to be extra demand for the Korean version even when it's not in foil. I remember the Portuguese Meloku made 2/2 tokens instead of 1/1's and to me that sounds like a much cooler misprint. 

To buy anything online in Korea you usually need a Korean ID number while only using Internet Explorer and downloading a bunch of weird extensions. I don't think you will get much joy from using the shopping cart tools on their sites and would suggest trying an email instead. Most of the store owners I have met speak fairly good English but may be a little intimidated on the phone and I wouldn't trust them to get all the details right regarding address and payment. 
Koreans tend to be much better at reading and writing English than speaking and listening, and an email gives them something they can examine multiple times.

There are 5 major online Korean shops that I know of:


I have ordered from them before and got great service but that was domestic shipping using a Korean ID.

This is the online shop for Dalmuti's in Kyodae. Very good singles selection but I can't see any option to ship overseas. Does not require a Korean ID to register which is a big plus.


K-MTG formerly known as Playfirst sell singles worldwide. This is the most foreign friendly website out there and a lot of people recommend them. I am a little hesitant as the only time I ordered from them they stuffed up my address thanks to lazy handwriting. I was lucky to get it thanks to a diligent courier.

This is the online store for Red Dice in Seoul.

Korean singles are not cheap and Korean players know the worth of their cards. They are not oblivious to the fact certain Korean cards (foils of legacy/modern staples) will attract a premium. Japan also has quite expensive prices for singles but is also well known for being a great place to sell cards. Korea,  not so much since most of the demand is for standard cards (Innistrad represents the first rotation out of modern Korean cards). Standard cards that aren't the top tier are hard to move and that is not just in Korea. Look at the buylists for Starcity and you will see the prices they offer is quite smaller for type 2 stuff than what you would expect.
It's possible that there might be decent prices available for those cards that have rotated out of standard because there isn't a lot of Modern and virtually no Legacy. This is something I will try and check out because I am only interested in Modern as a constructed format but I found it incredibly hard to get Liliana's of the Veil just a few weeks ago and ended up getting them from America.

I have been contacted a few times from people online asking me to get them certain Korean cards or sealed product. I'm sorry but I am not interested in doing that despite promises of payment.
I have various reasons for saying no, the main one being that I am very selfish. The others are because it's actually hassle that people from outside Korea probably can't appreciate. 
I live an hour away from the nearest store and I work during the hours the post office is open. It's also not easy asking for anything out of the ordinary to Koreans where they can't anticipate most of what you are going to say which makes dealing with the postal staff very tricky. 
It's all stress I don't really need in my life just for a couple of bucks and the joy of making a stranger happy (after I stress about their package arriving).

Cafe de BonBon - Bucheon

This is a brand new board game cafe located in Bucheon. Bucheon is on line 1 (dark blue) of the Seoul subway system.

They are very new so organised play doesn't seem to be set up yet but the owner seems keen.
Organised play isn't that important because you will be pleased to know that they pass the hammer test*.

They are open from 2:00 pm to Midnight, hours which are unsurprising in both Korean and gaming culture.
Their Korean address is 원미구 부일로 483번길 15 2층, Bucheon 420-822

They also have a facebook page, I strongly recomend it for people who are fans of fluffy dogs.

On a serious note they look to have a lot of enthusiasm and if I lived closer to Bucheon I would be really keen to support this store. Their advertising was really cool compared to a lot of Korean magic stores who announce themselves quite dryly and with a minimalist touch to providing information.

*They have a plastic hammer available for assaulting your friends and loved ones with.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Back from Down Under

Back from my January hiatus I showed up to Dalmuti's Born of the Gods pre release. A lot of people are down on the set but I think they are forgetting that this is what small sets are like.
They can't hit all the bases and with temples, gods and a couple of white cards I think it is stronger than a lot of past small sets.

Dalmuti now has a cube which is drafted regularly. You can check it out at http://cubetutor.com/viewcube/6673 if you are interested.
Dan is very keen to improve it and has been putting a lot of work into it so it is getting stronger every week.

After playing it the fire to finish my own cube was reignited and I settled on a format. Going to try and make the cube as powerful as possible while trying for a nostalgia kick.
I added a lot of cards from my first set (Revised/3rd Edition) which might turn some off with their white borders but make me feel warm and fuzzy.