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Back to Old Gaming Stuff (With a Little New)

Over the holiday weekend, I had a chance to dig out some dice, pull my old Players Handbook for Dungeons & Dragons off its shelf, and for the first time in 13-15 years, play D&D.

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I’d bought this volume when it was brand-new, back whenever that was (early 2000s!), and shortly after also bought the Dungeon Master’s Guide…though I never really got around to being able to use them. (It would be several more years before I snagged the Monster Manual after 3.5 had hit and it was "on sale" as an outdated edition.)

I was unable to actually find my old dicebag (having recently moved, and it being so long since I’d had need of the thing, I haven’t a clue where it’s wound up!)…so I scrounged up another bag from some USB multi-piece set, and managed to pull together a small assortment of dice from several different gaming bins (Heroclix, Shadowrun: Duels, D&D Miniatures). But then, not satisfied with that, I hit a comic/game shop and snagged a cheap set of 7 dice and then a number of random misc. dice to beef up my now-current collection.

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In rummaging through everything looking for the old dice, I found two large card boxes that proved to hold a number of stand-out Magic: the Gathering cards I remember.

Above: two "dual lands" from the Revised Edition. I’d at one point had a third, but I’d traded that to someone for a couple other cards I was more interested in. That was before these become such incredibly expensive cards. I obviously stuck them into card protectors, and for the moment, they can stay there.

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A couple more "fun" cards–the hydras! The Balduvian Hydra is from the Ice Age expansion, while the Rock Hydra is from the Revised Edition, I believe. I quite enjoyed using both, being a fan of the token-creatures and stuff, and just the rarity and air about ’em (the Ice Age card being the "new" or "poor man’s" Rock Hydra).

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Similar to the Balduvian Hydra, the Polar Kraken was–to me–a neat creature that seemed like a new version of an older one–and fun to use as one of the largest (if not THE largest) creatures in the game at the time, the Leviathan. I believe I traded or bought the two Leviathan cards from the The Dark set, and "inherited" the Fourth Edition one from a friend when he got out of the game.

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And then there’s my favorite subset of cards from the game: the Elder Dragons! (The Nicol Bolas pictured here is out of its case for the group photo…it was in the case in a photo shared several weeks ago.)

Chromium was by far my favorite of the five, if only for the art and concept, but probably also for its inclusion in some of the early comics. Nicol Bolas has come to be a favorite as well thanks to use of the character in the books (Time Spiral in particular) and for getting a toy made!

While probably not at all powerful nowadays, some 65 sets and 12,000+ cards later, considering I got into the game in early 1995 or so (the game had not yet been out for 2 years!), these were great at the time, and truly the stuff of legends.

Though they’re obviously not comic books, I may start "showing off" some of my old favorites as I come across them, sorting through all these old cards that I hadn’t realized were not in with what I’d thought was my entire collection (oops!).

Time will tell, though!

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Revisiting Elder Dragons – A Magic: The Gathering Legend

Full post at FantasyRantz.wordpress.com.

A 2012 look at Acclaim/Armada‘s 2-issue mini-series from the 1990s with a tale of the Elder Dragons from the Legends expansion of Magic: The Gathering.

Magic: The Gathering “Classics”

I’m honestly fairly surprised in a way that IDW has not published (that I am aware of) any Magic: The Gathering Classics volumes. They’ve got a Classics line for several other licensed properties, so why not MTG? Granted, the property doesn’t have quite the same quantity of “classic” material as the others, but surely they could get at least a few good volumes out of what’s there.

Given I’ve seen nothing whatsoever regarding any actual volumes, here are the six volumes I’d propose for a series of MTG Classics volumes.

Vol. 1 – The Shadow Mage
Collecting The Shadow Mage 1-4 and Wayfarer 1-5.

This would make for a nice-size 9-issue volume…a bit thicker than your average 6-issue book but not so hefty as a 12-issue collection. This would be–I believe–the complete run of issues featuring Jared Carthalion, and be all the issues that did not focus on a pre-existing MTG card or story.

I put these in the first volume as The Shadow Mage was the first series from Armada, and I’ve just always associated it as starting everything off. I believe Wayfarer picked up the month after, so this is essentially a 9-issue story anyway, which would make for a solid single-volume I think.

Vol. 2 – Ice Age
Collecting Fallen Empires 1-2, Ice Age 1-4, and Nightmare 1.

I’d put Ice Age and Fallen Empires together as they tied together a bit. To go chronologically I’d probably put the FE issues first in the volume–with the origin of a major character that appeared in IA.

I place these here as they were the next series to come out from Armada

I’ve got the Nightmare one-shot here mostly for lack of good placement elsewhere. This issue was a bit on the early side of the Armada run, and would seem to me out of place to be grouped with the various Legends issues.

Additionally, it being extra-sized helps fill out the pagecount for the volume as it’s otherwise almost two issues smaller than the first.

Vol. 3 – The Brothers’ War
Collecting Antiquities War 1-4 and Urza/Mishra War 1-2.

While it would have been great to have the full intended “trilogy” of series that would have been the “entirety” of the story of the Brothers’ War, it just makes sense to me to put these two minis together. While technically only six issues, the Urza-Mishra War issues were extra-sized, filling this out to approximately an 8-issue size.

Even if this wouldn’t quite reach 8 issues, it’d be very similar in size to the previous volume, and could always be filled out a bit with a selection from the The Brothers’ War prose novel.

There’s also (as with previous volumes) the Seer Analysis and such “backmatter” that would fill things out a bit.

Vol. 4 – Legends I
Collecting Arabian Nights 1-2, Shandalar 1-2, Homelands, and Fallen Angel plus material from Convocations.

This volume and the next are sort of catch-alls for the rest of the Armada stuff.

Arabian Nights and Homelands fit together as they’re short stories based at least in part on actual MTG expansion sets. Though Shandalar was based on a story from a computer game, in its own way that could be seen as another expansion.

Since that would still leave the volume a bit short, I’d go ahead and put Fallen Angel here, to begin the series of Legends-focused issues. The volume could be rounded out with a few pages from the Convocations “gallery” issue.

Vol. 5 – Legends II
Collecting Elder Dragons 1-2, Dakkon Blackblade, Jedit Ojanen 1-2, and Serra Angel plus material from Convocations.

This volume would finish out the run of Armada MTG issues with the rest of the Legends-based specials. Considering the prestige-format issues to be roughly double-sized, this would be about 8 issues, and the Convocations pages not included in vol. 4 would up the pagecount a bit for the volume.

Just as I associate Shadow Mage as kicking off the Armada line, I associate these with the end of the line–as of this typing I actually don’t even yet own the Jedit Ojanen issues, just acquired Serra Angel and only found the Elder Dragons issues a couple years ago–at least a decade after the issues first saw print.

Vol. 6 – Gerrard’s Quest
Collecting the Dark Horse mini-series 1-4.

This would obviously be the smallest of the volumes with only 4 issues–moving from the Armada comics to the 4-issue mini produced by Dark Horse Comics. This would basically be a reprint of the Gerrard’s Quest TPB with a new cover.

I know Wizards of the Coast has produced plenty of their own MTG material, and there are at least a couple graphic novels out from them. I don’t know that any of that would fit well here, and as those are relatively recent, they wouldn’t really fall into the realm of “classics” the way all these others do.

I’d expect these volumes to be at least $19.99 cover price…though that could feel a bit rough as Shadow Mage and Ice Age in particular seem to be pretty common bargain-bin issues. It’s the later issues that had smaller print runs and grew quite rare. As such, it would seem a bit on the expensive side for the content; but then in turn, the prestige-format issues were $6 or so apiece, and I don’t think I’ve seen any of those in bargain bins, so it would all balance out.

The sixth volume would seem to me ripe to be priced at $14.99 or so if not bargain-price it to $9.99, as with only four issues it’d be about half the size of the previous volumes.

So there you have it–the contents and collections I’d imagine as ideal for production by IDW, assuming they thought the sales warranted (of course, they probably don’t). Heck, these could even be shrink-wrapped with reprints of key cards from the time of the comics, with the old art. Whether playable or not, I don’t know.

Collection Maintenance II: Another Haul, Another Step

20120906elderdragonsI had two particularly great “finds” tonight going back through my collection. First, I actually managed to find the two-issue Elder Dragons mini-series that in large part prompted this week’s digging. I knew the covers looked familiar, seeing images online, as something I had physically handled at some point.

And sure enough, in the middle of one of the longboxes, I found ’em.

I also found a set (minus #12) of Solar: Man of the Atom #s 1-25 that I’d bought a couple years ago for about $6. Track down a handful of issues, and that pretty much gives me 20+ issues of X-O Manowar, Archer & Armstrong, and Solar. Plus a few other issues here ‘n there.

I also found some more Ultraverse issues, which between last night and tonight fills in 3-4 issues of what I’ve been missing.

Time-wise, I’m left with a couple other longboxes to dig out that I somehow managed to REALLY bury and neglect as I moved these others–so they’ll be a weekend or next-week project.

Next up will be sorting through what amounts to 4 1/2 longboxes of X-books to officially determine what my X-collection looks like, and purge duplicates.

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