Battle Box Playtest

So last night I did a thing… and unfortunately did not stop to take any photos of said thing I did.  I’ve said before that we have a friend in town and have been occasionally meeting him for dinner.  This friend happens to play Magic the Gathering and last night we met up at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants that is not super busy on week nights… and commandeered the table for a significant amount of time.  In theory we got there around 5:30 which means it probably took until 6 for us to get our food and eat it…  then we hung out playing magic for a couple hours leaving sometime after 8.  Thankfully I am in there often enough and tip well enough that the wait staff did not bat an eye at us doing this.

Firstly I am pretty sure that my friend is a way more serious magic player than I am.  I would probably put me in the collector niche that likes to play weird and quirky decks but not really going to make much headroom at a Friday Night Magic because I am not super focused on the meta.  I did not however actually bring my “real” decks but instead something else for us to try out.  Some time ago I watched the above video from the Professor and it planted an idea in my head.  We have a bunch of folks at work that are former magic players or ones that were interested in potentially finding out more about it.  That said most people didn’t really have decks anymore… and most definitely not decks all at the same power level.

The theory was to assemble a series of decks that were of roughly equal power level and try and create a sort of starter magic experience out of it so we could drop in and play a few games over lunch without much effort.  This didn’t really gain much traction until I happened upon the Tribal Warfare Battle Box set from Card Kingdom.  One of the cool things for me personally about the Ixalan block was that it added a bunch of interesting Tribal cards and combinations, since theme decks have always been a thing I enjoyed greatly.  This set of decks included White Black Vampires, Red Black Pirates, Green Red Dinosaurs, and Blue Green Merfolk…  giving a pretty wide range of play styles and card types.  So I assembled this batch of decks into an Ultimate Guard Stack ‘n’ Safe box leaving two of the six slots for counters and dice and created a packaged experience.

I still need to get something to number the decks with but in theory the slots are going to be numbered 2,3,4,5 and each players start by rolling a d6.  Whoever rolls highest chooses “play or draw” but also begins the picking of decks.  There still need to be some working out the kinks but the theory is a little something like this…

  • Roll 1 – You get to choose the deck your opponent is going to play, after choosing re-roll to determine your own selection
  • Roll 2 – You play the deck in slot 2
  • Roll 3 – You play the deck in slot 3
  • Roll 4 – You play the deck in slot 4
  • Roll 5 – You play the deck in slot 5
  • Roll 6 – You get first pick from any of the decks

Now there are some problems with this…  I was wanting to go with the whole “botch” roll concept but it doesn’t seem like it will work out so I might shift things to the slots being numbered 1-4 and 5 being the choose any deck and 6 be choose your opponents deck.  That makes sense given that you want the quirky one to override the other options numerically.  Whatever the case I listed how we played last night and more or less it seemed to work out just fine.  We started off with three rounds of White/Black Vampires vs Blue/Green Merfolk and they seemed like extremely even match-ups with me winning the first one and not quite getting the cards I needed to win in the last two.  Next up we played Green/Red Dinosaurs vs Black/Red Pirates… and once again over the course of the three rounds the two decks felt extremely even.

I am super thankful to my friend for helping me play test this concept and I think it is finally read for prime time to start trying it out at work.  Ultimately the Card Kingdom Battle decks seem really fun, and while they were slower than the decks he is used to playing…  they still had just the right amount of power.  Ultimately what I was hoping was for matches that lasted long enough to allow players to get a feel of the game rather than simply getting shut down on turn three.  Feeling like you don’t have a chance is the sort of thing that makes learning magic against a veteran player an extremely frustrating concept.  These relatively balanced battle decks really do give the feeling that you have all of the power you need…  you just have to get things to work together in the right combination to build your win condition.  Regardless it was an extremely fun night and were the AC not on the fritz at the restaurant we would have potentially stayed longer.

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