Casual play in Magic: The Gathering is something that has been near and dear to my heart since the first time I ever drew my first card.
Various formats have come along in the history of this game, and some of them have become official formats that are now supported with proper rules, and even banned lists and products that cater to the format themselves.
The one thing that had always been a common thread in these formats was the idea that all of the players would have to either still be current players, or at the very least, would have to have their own decks.
That is where the recent collectors sets for Magic really come in handy, and in this article I will give my impressions of Planechase Anthology from Wizards of the Coast.
This product is fantastic, and I could just give it a review, and talk about all of the cards, and the ins and outs of how well it can play, and the quality of the product, the packaging, the boxes, and everything that is in between… but I will leave that to the professionals at the end of the article to do that part for me.
Instead, what I really want to talk about is what this kind of game and alternative format brings to the table when it comes to how as a veteran player that has gone from casual to hardcore and back to casual again, views this version of the game, and the merits that it really brings.
While this box set is not the cheapest thing out there, I have to say that the amount of fun it brings, and the sheer amount of possibilities that this box brings to the table, kind of makes it both worth the amount that you would pay for it ($150.00 msrp, but able to be purchased for much less than that depending on where you would want to buy it from) as well as worth having on hand.
While the box only comes with four (4) decks, it is possible to extend this to up to eight (8) decks if you have the cards on hand, or are experienced in building decks that would fit along with the balance of the decks that are included with the box. I would recommend looking into the Planechase decks that were issued in 2009 as you can purchase them on their own, or build them based on the published deck lists.
The downside of purchasing the 2009 series of decks is that you will get redundant plane and phenomenon cards as they are already in the Anthology box… as well as also hitting a price point of anywhere of $100.00 and up for each of the four (4) prebuilt decks from the 2009 cycle.
Another alternative is that you can get the complete 86 planes and phenomenon cards for around $60 on it’s own, and then get the “planar” die with matching spindowns for an additional $12.00 or so, making it more affordable, but sacrificing getting the nice box and the decks that come with it.
The reason that I bring this up is quite simple… Planechase is an extremely fun way to play Magic, and if you have the Anthology, it provides a level playing fied for two to four (2-4) players that may or may not play currently… and that is a great thing, as I am convinced that Planechase could easily get someone that used to play, to sit down and let them enjoy the game once more, without having to make the investment of buying their own decks.
As far as play style goes, I had the chance to play a couple of games with my Sunday Funday MTG Madness group, and the game being played with four (4) players really made a difference in how I wanted to approach this weeks article… I was going to give my thoughts on Aether Revolt, but instead, I thought it would be right to throw this article together instead, as my fellow players deserve to have a wee bit of a shout out here.
In my current Sunday group I play with a family that I have grown pretty close too, and it was through my Youtube series “Unboxing Magic” that got them into giving the game a try, and to a point I think they may have “gotten their evens” with introducing me to the Planechase game.
Scott, Sarah, and their son Zane are all new to Magic, but the amount of fun and the randomness of Planechase has allowed for expansion of their play preferences to go beyond the regular free for all multiplayer game, as well as doing more than Commander/EDH or even Two Headed Giant… but it has also had the added effect of making it so that they are able to expand on the art of thinking about working within the conditions of the battle field as each turn could result in a new in game condition, both with perks, and penalties.
It adds an extra amount of challenge to the game that can get stale if you are not careful, and that is what Planechase Anthology is all about preventing.
Magic: The Gathering has always been marketed, and has been able to pride itself on the idea that the games are not alike, but as someone that has played on the competitive end before, I can speak from experience that with some decks, and with some opponents, you can coast through a match on “autopilot”, but not with this box… it is impossible to coast through a match with this game because of the added mechanics, and this leads to an improved immersion to the game itself, and that alone prevents the boredom factor that can plague the mind of a grizzled twenty year (20) plus player like myself can fall into.
So, to wrap this up… if you have the interest and the means to do it, give this format a try, it is quite fun, and has an extremely high replay value.
To get a perspective from the professionals you can check out the reviews from Tolarian Community College: https://youtu.be/hRdxrl_Wy3c
And from MTG Headquarters: https://youtu.be/iiAQ98LzUhM