Author Archives: Crimson

Building a Tiamat Themed Commander Deck

27 Jul , 2021,
Crimson
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Tiamat is a being that is practically synonymous with Dungeons & Dragons. She is the ancient progenitor of the chromatic flights (making her the bona fide mother of dragons), and a deity who commands vast power in the Forgotten Realms. The Church of Tiamat is one of the established faiths in Faerun, and her followers in the Cult of the Dragon are nefarious plotters ever striving to further her dark agenda.

Since Tiamat is the subject for this week’s deckbuilding column, we decided that we had to do things a little different. Rather than simply picking thematically appropriate cards, we’ll be taking this a step further by trying to stick as closely to the events of the Rise of Tiamat hardcover adventure as possible (though some creative liberties must be taken), without busting our budget. If you’re currently playing this adventure, or intend to play it in the future, be warned! There may be spoilers!

At it’s core, this deck is a dragon tribal. In addition to several cards from the latest D&D Adventures in the Forgotten Realms set and Draconic Rage Commander Deck, we’ll be busting out pieces from the Tarkir sets – which had some of the most flavorful, dragon-themed cards ever printed.

Like our Xanathar and Volo lists, we tried to use a pool of cards that D&D fans thinking to get their feet wet might be able to find. The upgrades section expands on this pool, with more power cards from older sets.


Her Draconic Majesty (1)
1x Tiamat

Tiamat tutors for five Dragon cards with different names whenever you cast her. This also means that every time you summon her from her prison lair in Avernus (i.e. the Command Zone), you get to fill your hand with lots of new threats.

Sure, she doesn’t have all the powers of her CR 30 form, but she’s no slouch in the power and toughness department. Her 7/7 body allows her to overwhelm most creatures native to the Forgotten Realms, and she can definitely swing to win if you need to push damage.


The Flights/Dragon Creatures (25)
1x Adult Gold Dragon
1x Amareth, the Lustrous
1x Atarka, World Render
1x Bladewing the Risen
1x Darigaaz Reincarnated
1x Dromoka, the Eternal
1x Green Dragon
1x Hellkite Charger
1x Hellkite Courser
1x Immersturm Predator
1x Intet, the Dreamer
1x Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund
1x Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury
1x Lathliss, Dragon Queen
1x Mana-Charged Dragon
1x Prossh, Skyraider of Kher
1x Ryusei, the Falling Star
1x Savage Ventmaw
1x Scion of Draco
1x Scion of the Ur-Dragon
1x Scourge of Valkas
1x Silumgar, the Drifting Death
1x Teneb, the Harvester
1x Thunderbreak Regent
1x White Dragon

In Rise of Tiamat, there are dragons. Lots of them. The characters contend with several throughout the course of the hardcover, and even dragons from the metallic flights (the goodly dragons who are children of big brother Bahamut, with whom Tiamat has some serious sibling rivalry issues) eventually join in the fray.

Since Tiamat is all five colors, we settled on dragons that are impactful, regardless of their color identity. There was only one caveat – they had to be depicted in the art as one of the five colors of Tiamat’s children.

The Adult Gold Dragon, Amareth, the Lustrous and Scion of the Ur-Dragon may aid heroes hoping to thwart Tiamat’s plans, but even they can be cowed by her presence and pressed into service.


Dragon Cultists/Non-Dragon Creatures (5)
1x Dragonlord’s Servant
1x Dragonmaster Outcast
1x Dragonspeaker Shaman
1x Realmwalker
1x Vizier of the Menagerie

The characters are in a race against time to prevent the Cult of the Dragon from summoning Tiamat. Combined with the relics and powerful treasures (read Artifacts) they have amassed, these cultists accelerate the approach of Tiamat or one of her numerous children.


Wearer of the Purple/Planeswalkers (3)
1x Sarkhan Unbroken
1x Sarkhan the Masterless
1x Sarkhan, Fireblood

In Magic: The Gathering lore, the Tarkir planeswalker Sarkhan Vol is a bit of a dragon otaku, which makes him the perfect candidate for leadership in the Cult of the Dragon. All his loyalty abilities either help you ramp into casting a dragon spell, produce dragon tokens, or get you dragons faster, which suits Tiamat’s purpose just fine.

Now, all he needs to do is to change his name to Severin Silrajin, and he’d fit right in!


Tiamat’s Tribute/Artifacts (9)
1x Arcane Signet
1x Commander’s Sphere
1x Dragon’s Hoard
1x Fellwar Stone
1x Gruul Signet
1x Herald’s Horn
1x Icon of Ancestry
1x Orb of Dragonkind
1x Sol Ring

The adventure begins at the sound of the Draakhorn, a gift from Tiamat to her allies during the war between dragons and giants in ages past. In the absence of such a mighty relic, the Herald’s Horn serves in its stead. This set also introduces the Orb of Dragonkind, long a part of D&D lore, which serves to filter mana in the early game, and can be used to find a helpful dragon.

Amassing a veritable Dragon’s Hoard to please the Dragon Queen is all part of the Cult’s plans, and it’s entirely plausible that this stash of treasure includes baubles like the Arcane Signet and Sol Ring.

The Icon of Ancestry can be helpful as a mini anthem that also lets you sink excess mana to dig three deep.


Draconic Magic/Instants & Sorceries (17)
1x Banefire
1x Beast Within
1x Crux of Fate
1x Cultivate
1x Descent of the Dragons
1x Draconic Intervention
1x Dragon’s Fire
1x Earthquake
1x Farseek
1x Klauth’s Will
1x Kodama’s Reach
1x Migration Path
1x Patriarch’s Bidding
1x Red Elemental Blast
1x Return of the Wildspeaker
1x Sarkhan’s Triumph
1x Spit Flame

The ramp spells here reflect how quickly the Cult of the Dragon swept across the Sword Coast, and how, during the events of Rise of Tiamat, they’re still gaining ground. Instants and sorceries like Crux of Fate, Draconic Intervention, and Klauth’s Will can sweep away pesky adventurers, while an Earthquake (which wrecks the location in the final scene) can also lay opponents low.

Banefire is a plausible late game mana sink, Descent of the Dragons can potentially cement Tiamat’s victory under the right conditions, and assuming you have enough dragons in the graveyard, Patriarch’s Bidding (surely the work of Szass Tam of the Red Wizards) can bring them all back at once, potentially resulting in a quick and sudden win.


Setting the Scene/Enchantments (6)
1 Dragon Tempest
1 Frontier Siege
1 Garruk’s Uprising
1 Palace Siege
1 Sarkhan’s Unsealing
1 Temur Ascendancy

Dragon Tempest is a haste enabler that also makes every dragon (including tokens) entering the battlefield ping for damage, as does Sarkhan’s Unsealing. Sarkhan’s Unsealing turns those dragons into a burn that can go face, and every cast of Tiamat into a guaranteed board sweeper.

Frontier Siege and Palace Siege are included for their flexibility (and not just because they’re reminiscent of some parts of the adventure), while Garruk’s Uprising and Temur Ascendancy reward you for going big with card draw.

Cult Territory/Lands (34)
1x Command Tower
1x Evolving Wilds
1x Exotic Orchard
1x Frontier Bivouac
1x Haven of the Spirit Dragon
1x Jungle Shrine
1x Path of Ancestry
1x Savage Lands
6x Snow-Covered Forest
2x Snow-Covered Island
3x Snow-Covered Mountain
2x Snow-Covered Plains
3x Snow-Covered Swamp
1x Temple of the Dragon Queen
1x Temple of the False God
1x Terramorphic Expanse
1x The World Tree
1x Thriving Bluff
1x Thriving Grove
1x Thriving Heath
1x Thriving Isle
1x Thriving Moor
1x Unclaimed Territory

Temple of the Dragon Queen is a flavorful auto-include in this deck, while Path of Ancestry and Unclaimed Territory can help with generating colored mana for your dragon spells. Haven of the Spirit Dragon has some handy utility, and The World Tree can further fix any mana issues. Though the Thriving lands (such as Thriving Isle) come into play tapped, their usefulness cannot be underestimated.


For Cult Sponsors (Deck Upgrades)
1x Cavern of Souls
1x Chromatic Lantern
1x Descendants’ Path
1x Dragonlord Dromoka
1x Dragonlord Kolaghan
1x Dragonlord Ojutai
1x Dragonlord Silumgar
1x Ebondeath, Dracolich
1x Esika, God of the Tree // The Prismatic Bridge
1x Fabled Passage
1x Fist of Suns
1x Goldspan Dragon
1x Haunting Voyage
1x Hellkite Tyrant
1x Heroic Intervention
1x Ignoble Hierarch
1x Indatha Triome
1x Iymrith, Desert Doom
1x Ketria Triome
1x Klauth, Unrivaled Ancient
1x Morophon, the Boundless
1x Old Gnawbone
1x Ramos, Dragon Engine
1x Reflections of Littjara
1x Rhythm of the Wild
1x Scalelord Reckoner
1x Skyline Despot
1x Smothering Tithe
1x Steely Resolve
1x Terror of the Peaks
1x Urza’s Incubator
1x Utvara Hellkite
1x Vanquisher’s Banner
1x Vivien, Champion of the Wilds
1x Zagoth Triome

Unsurprisingly, enhancing the deck means getting your hands on nastier dragons that can synergize with the deck (and some would be cultists that can support them).

Fist of Suns and Morophon are one way to make Tiamat and her brood cost practically nothing, Cavern of Souls can help make your dragons uncounterable, and better real estate like the Triomes (or shocks and fetches) can beef up consistency where mana is concerned.

Descendant’s Path and The Prismatic Bridge can get more dragons on the table quickly, Reflections of Littjara lets you make additional dragons (some of which no doubt possess enter the battlefield effects), and Steely Resolve can keep those dragons protected.


And there you have it! We hope you enjoyed this deck idea as much as we did brewing it for you. If you decide to build this deck, be sure to let us know how you fare at the card table!

The Dungeons & Dragons Adventures in the Forgotten Realms set for Magic: The Gathering is currently available at your favorite local game store! If you’re a D&D fan who’s always wanted to get into spell slinging, you can snag some packs by checking out the link!

Building a Volothamp Geddarm themed Commander Deck

20 Jul , 2021,
Crimson
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The famous (or in some cases, infamous) Volothamp Geddarm is a self-styled authority on all things Faerun, having traversed the face of Toril, survived edition-changing calamities, and braved all manner of danger (from the comfort of the back line, of course). With his name attached to half a dozen published D&D books and numerous cameos in various adventures and video games, he’s practically this sets other poster boy.

Since Volo’s incarnation in Adventures in the Forgotten Realms is aptly named after his Guide to Monsters, we’ll be drawing inspiration from the table of contents of this book, as well as Volo’s many colorful (and oft dubious) exploits to flavor the deck.

Like our Xanathar’s Guild themed deck, we decided to keep the initial card pool relatively accessible for D&D fans thinking of trying out Commander for the first time. The upgrades section expands on this pool, with more power cards from older sets.


The Man (1)
1x Volo, Guide to Monsters

While Volo’s ability to weave spells isn’t much to write home about, this self-styled gentleman explorer, collector of stories, and scribe’s penchant for telling tall and grandiose tales goes unmatched.

Many of these tales are written in his Guide, which is a bestiary with numerous unique monster stat blocks – likely why his ability emphasizes creature spells of different types – and it’s just as well that we’ve got plenty of creatures to choose from in Blue and Green. Effects when they enter the battlefield (ETB) notwithstanding, they’ll also provide lots of soft cover for Volo to hide behind.


Bestiary Contents/Creatures (40)
1x Acidic Slime
1x Amphin Mutineer
1x Artisan of Kozilek
1x Avenger of Zendikar
1x Beast Whisperer
1x Deadeye Navigator
1x Diluvian Primordial
1x Displacer Beast
1x End-Raze Forerunners
1x Gemrazer
1x Genesis
1x Hornet Queen
1x Ilysian Caryatid
1x Keiga, the Tide Star
1x Kiora’s Follower
1x Kodama of the East Tree
1x Lonis, Cryptozoologist
1x Man-o’-War
1x Maraleaf Pixie
1x Meteor Golem
1x Migratory Greathorn
1x Momir Vig, Simic Visionary
1x Mulldrifter
1x Murkfiend Liege
1x Mystic Snake
1x Peregrine Drake
1x Quandrix Cultivator
1x Rampaging Baloths
1x Reclamation Sage
1x Reef Worm
1x Runic Armasaur
1x Sakura-Tribe Elder
1x Sea-Dasher Octopus
1x Souvenir Snatcher
1x Temur Sabertooth
1x Terastodon
1x The Tarrasque
1x Wandering Archaic // Explore the Vastlands
1x Wood Elves
1x Yuan-Ti Malison

With Volo, you’re looking at good stuff from Blue and Green. Lots of them are Commander staples and combo pieces (think Deadeye Navigator, Mulldrifter, Peregrine Drake, and Temur Sabertooth), or those with enter the battlefield effects that can help your deck snowball on value.

With infinite mana (an easy enough feat in these colors), the D&D iconic Displacer Beast becomes a viable win-con, as you drain the life out of your opponents by dipping in and out of Lost Mine of Phandelver‘s Dark Pool.

Some picks are also included for the flavor (like the Tarrasque), or because they synergize incredibly well with Volo’s ability. Keiga, for example, will almost always help you steal an unprotected creature when it comes into play, since you sacrifice the token produced to the legend rule.


Magic Items/Artifacts (5)
1x Altar of Dementia
1x Arcane Signet
1x Sol Ring
1x Tamiyo’s Journal
1x Twinning Staff

Despite his purported fame and numerous book deals, Volo’s always running from one bar tab to the next or mooching off goodly adventurers. Still, with his knack for finding trouble and treasure in equal measure, we wouldn’t put it past the man to stumble on a couple of ensorcelled trinkets during his travels.

That Altar of Dementia (which works as a sac outlet, and as a win-con if you can make an infinite number of creatures) looks awfully like one of those nasty Yuan-ti ritual sites in Chult, and what better place to pen his copious amount of notes than within the pages of a journal of Kozakuran design? The Twinning Staff is reminiscent of an ancient Netherese relic, and any self-respecting mage would surely possess an Arcane Signet or two.


Volo’s Spells/Instants & Sorceries (12)
1x Beast Within
1x Creeping Renaissance
1x Cultivate
1x Decisive Denial
1x Fact or Fiction
1x Misdirection
1x Nature’s Claim
1x Rampant Growth
1x Saw It Coming
1x Search for Tomorrow
1x Snap
1x Whirlwind Denial

Some ramp spells are included to help speed Volo along on his wanderings, while Beast Within and Snap help get him out of tight spots. Some flavorful counter magic has been included to beef up his repertoire (even if at first glance they appear just as unreliable as he is).


Volo’s Exploits/Enchantments (5)
1x Beastmaster Ascension
1x Garruk’s Uprising
1x Kiora Bests the Sea God
1x Ongoing Investigation
1x Propaganda

Considering everything that Volo’s been embroiled in, it’s little wonder he’s got more than a few stories to tell. Ongoing Investigation can help take care of unwanted cards in your graveyard, and Propaganda can help buy you time while you make an unhurried getaway.


Partners-in-Crime/Planeswalkers (2)
1x Mordenkainen
1x Vivien, Champion of the Wilds

Mordenkainen’s inclusion here is because he’s also a writer. His namesake Tome of Foes is the other 5E bestiary for D&D, and we’re sure that given Volo’s penchant for getting on the bad side of every other NPC ever published, he’s likely to cross paths with this Oeridian archmage at some point. Vivien is included as a low costed flash enabler, and can help you dig in a pinch.


Oh, the places I’ve seen/Lands (35)
1x Blighted Woodland
1x Command Tower
1x Evolving Wilds
1x Exotic Orchard
12x Forest
1x Guildless Commons
13x Island
1x Mosswort Bridge
1x Myriad Landscape
1x Simic Growth Chamber
1x Temple of Mystery
1x Terramorphic Expanse

Guildless Commons or Simic Growth Chamber, paired with Kodama of the East Tree (see above), can pave the way for some serious landfall related shenanigans (one of them being an infinite number of 4/4 beast tokens using Rampaging Baloths). With some cheap fetches included, there are ample ways for you to thin the deck and to fix your mana too.


For Discerning Patrons (Deck Upgrades)
1x Craterhoof Behemoth
1x Doubling Season
1x Elemental Bond
1x Finale of Devastation
1x Guardian Project
1x Heroic Intervention
1x Instrument of the Bards
1x Keeper of Fables
1x Lifecrafter’s Bestiary
1x Lightning Greaves
1x Manglehorn
1x Panharmonicon
1x Phyrexian Metamorph
1x Prowling Serpopard
1x Sakashima of a Thousand Faces
1x Sawtusk Demolisher
1x Scute Swarm
1x Simic Signet
1x Spark Double
1x Tamiyo, Collector of Tales
1x Timeless Witness
1x Tireless Tracker
1x Tooth and Nail
1x Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath

The cards in this section are included as an option for players who want to enhance the deck. Many of these are direct upgrades or provide additional ways for the deck to synergize, such as Sakashima and Spark Double.

Panharmonicon lets you get additional triggers, and Uro deserves special mention here, since he is instant value, and can also help you exile unwanted cards in your graveyard if you recast him using the Escape mechanic.

Heroic Intervention is also on the list, simply because it’s in theme for Volo to get bailed out by DM fiat.


And there you have it! We hope you enjoyed this deck idea as much as we did brewing it for you. If you decide to build this deck, be sure to let us know how you fare at the card table!

We’re also doing a POLL for our next Commander article! Come vote for your choice of Commander on our Twitter (poll closes 23rd July, launch day), and we’ll build that deck for our column on the 27th!

The Dungeons & Dragons Adventures in the Forgotten Realms set for Magic: The Gathering releases this weekend! If you’re a D&D fan who’s always wanted to get into spell slinging, you can snag some packs at your favorite local game store.

Building a Xanathar’s Guild Themed Commander Deck

13 Jul , 2021,
Crimson
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If you’ve been following our geeky endeavors, then you’ll know that we don’t just do Dungeons & Dragons. We also play lots of Magic: The Gathering.

That’s why we were doubly excited that some of our favorite NPCs from hardcovers such as Waterdeep: Dragon Heist and Tomb of Annihilation were showing up in Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, and that quickly got us thinking – what if we built some themed EDH decks to celebrate, using what we’ve got in the office?

Here’s a quick one based off Xanathar, an iconic beholder villain who heads a veritable guild of killers, smugglers and cutpurses, and has an eyestalk in every evil pie.


The Legend (1)
1x Xanathar, Guild Kingpin

Suffice to say, there’s a reason why Xanathar is still guild master. He’s got 5 power and 6 toughness, which means he’s capable of snuffing out most underlings itching for a promotion. His ability to stop an opponent from casting spells is also reminiscent of the antimagic cone projected by a beholder’s central eye, and being able to play their cards is likely a nod to one of their other eye powers – that of the charm ray.


The Guild/Creatures (26)
1x Agent of Treachery
1x Circu, Dimir Lobotomist
1x Consuming Aberration
1x Ghostly Pilferer
1x Glasspool Mimic // Glasspool Shore
1x Gonti, Lord of Luxury
1x Herald of Hadar
1x Hoard Robber
1x Hostage Taker
1x Krydle of Baldur’s Gate
1x Lightfoot Rogue
1x Mind Flayer
1x Nighthawk Scavenger
1x Nightveil Specter
1x Notion Thief
1x Sepulchral Primordial
1x Soaring Thought-Thief
1x Thief of Sanity
1x Thieves’ Guild Enforcer
1x Thieving Skydiver
1x Tribute Mage
1x Varragoth, Bloodsky Sire
1x Wizened Snitches
1x Yuan-Ti Fang-Blade
1x Yuan-Ti Malison
1x Zareth San, the Trickster

Xanathar’s Guild is big on larceny and vice, and that’s why we decided to go big on the roguish element, with a splash of fun shenanigans like gaining control and mill. Players of more recent sets will see a few familiar faces like Gonti, Soaring Thought-Thief (they’re either Thief Acrobats or Arcane Tricksters), Thieves’ Guild Enforcer (yep, Xanathar’s got lots of hired muscle) and Zareth San.

Other fun cards like Herald of Hadar, Krydle and Yuan-ti Malison (all appearing in this new set) add to the flavor and round the deck out with some utility. The Herald is a great sink for infinite mana, while Circu and Consuming Aberration can work with Dramatic Reversal and Isochron Scepter (see below) to mill your opponents out.


Tools of the Trade/Artifacts (18)
1x Arcane Signet
1x Charcoal Diamond
1x Dimir Signet
1x Goldvein Pick
1x Hedron Archive
1x Isochron Scepter
1x Lantern of Insight
1x Mind Stone
1x Prying Blade
1x Replicating Ring
1x Sky Diamond
1x Sol Ring
1x Swiftfoot Boots
1x Thieves’ Tools
1x Thought Vessel
1x Treasure Chest
1x Treasure Map // Treasure Cove
1x Worn Powerstone

Lots of rocks, as befits the treasury of one of the most wealthy criminal organizations in the Forgotten Realms. Their agents are also some of the most well provisioned, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them armed with Thieves’ Tools (which all rogues are proficient in). The Goldvein Pick and Prying Blade help generate additional treasure tokens (yes, these rogues are gold diggers), and that Isochron Scepter (which you can search for with a Tribute Mage) is both insurance, as well as a combo enabler.


Dirty Deeds/Instants & Sorceries (18)
1x Contract Killing
1x Devour Intellect
1x Dimir Charm
1x Dramatic Reversal
1x Drown in the Loch
1x Extract from Darkness
1x Eyes of the Beholder
1x Fascination
1x Feed the Swarm
1x Heartless Act
1x Malakir Rebirth // Malakir Mire
1x Malicious Affliction
1x Memory Lapse
1x Muddle the Mixture
1x Necromantic Selection
1x Stubborn Denial
1x Turn Aside
1x Windfall

The deck is beefed up with a handful of thematically appropriate instants and sorceries to protect Xanathar, punish interlopers, or make an example of the guild’s enemies by making them sleep with the fishes. Dramatic Reversal on the list stands out as an option for the Isochron Scepter, and can generate infinite casts and infinite mana with enough rocks on the field. After all, any self-respecting villain should have a way to turn the tables on those pesky adventurers traipsing through your lair, right? Fascination is a viable sink for infinite mana that can be tutored for using Muddle the Mixture, rounding out your combo win-cons. 


Done Dirt Cheap/Enchantments (2)
1x Revel in Riches
1x Rogue Class

Class cards are a new enchantment type, and you’d expect everyone in Xanathar’s Guild to have maybe one or two Rogue levels. Also, Revel in Riches is mandatory for a stylish alternate win-con as befits the most glamorous beholder of all.


Valuable Real Estate/Lands (35)
1x Command Tower
1x Duskmantle, House of Shadow
1x Evolving Wilds
1x Exotic Orchard
1x Jwar Isle Refuge
1x Myriad Landscape
1x Nephalia Drownyard
1x Rogue’s Passage
12x (Snow-Covered) Island
12x (Snow-Covered) Swamp
1x Sunken Hollow
1x Temple of Deceit
1x Terramorphic Expanse

Duskmantle and Nephalia Drownyard evoke memories of Skullport, where Xanathar’s Guild holds sway, while Rogue’s Passage is just too flavorful not to include. Depending on whether you prefer Waterdeep in the Springtime (which is the season you’ll face Xanathar in Dragon Heist) or in the winter, pick either Snow-Covered or regular lands.


For the Discerning Kingpin (Deck Upgrades)
1x Acquire
1x Dauthi Voidwalker
1x Deadeye Navigator
1x Demonic Tutor
1x Desertion
1x Expropriate
1x Fellwar Stone
1x Force of Negation
1x Helm of Obedience
1x Leyline of the Void
1x Mind’s Dilation
1x Mind Grind
1x Mystic Remora
1x Predict
1x Rhystic Study
1x Sire of Stagnation
1x Thada Adel, Acquisitor
1x Toxic Deluge

The cards in this section are included as an option for players who prefer a little bit more bite to their deck.

Helm of Obedience, together with the Dauthi Voidwalker or Leyline of the Void, can disintegrate an opponent’s deck, while Mind’s Dilation can nab you another spell each turn. Cards like Desertion too would make a fine addition. After all, if Xanathar makes an offer, who can refuse?


And there you have it! We hope you enjoyed this deck idea as much as we did brewing it for you. If you decide to build this deck, be sure to let us know how you fare at the card table!

Also, if you want to give the tie-in module for Adventures in the Forgotten Realms a shot, you can check it out here! It’s a neat little dungeon crawl, and we’re certain you’ll love it!

The Dungeons & Dragons Adventures in the Forgotten Realms set for Magic: The Gathering releases 23 July 2021. If you’re a D&D fan who’s always wanted to get into spell slinging, you can snag some packs at your favorite local game store.

MTG x D&D Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Modules

11 Jul , 2021,
Crimson
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With the upcoming set release of D&D Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, the awesome peeps at Wizards of the Coast have taken a new spin to their usual Magic Story column. Whether you’re a seasoned D&D player or an MTG fan looking to cut your teeth on some d20s, these exciting modules won’t disappoint.

Currently, two out of five episodes now available for download, and we’ll be updating this article with links to future episodes as and when they become available.

These adventures are suitable for a group of four to six Tier 2 (Average Party Level 8) characters, and all you need to start your adventure are the core rulebooks (which you can purchase from your favorite local game store or through official channels like the Wizards of the Coast Amazon store or D&D Beyond), and a party to go adventuring with.

Simply click on the title of each module to download them (in PDF format).

  1. Part 1: In Scarlet Flames 
  2. Part 2: The Hidden Page 
  3. Part 3: A Verdant Tomb
  4. Part 4: Deepest Night (released 21 Jul, APL 9)

Also, if you’re thinking of giving these adventures a try, but don’t have an 8th level character of your own, don’t fret! We have an adventuring party brewed using D&D rules that you can download and get started with right away (you will still need to refer to the D&D 5E Player’s Handbook for spells and some class features, however).

  1. Calmirri Wintersworn, Fey Knight – A warlock sworn to the Prince of Winter, who rains blades of ice and gusts of frigid wind on their enemies.
  2. Sir Durance, Deacon of War – A stalwart battle cleric devoted to the teachings of the God of Suffering.
  3. Eonus, Bard Dilettante – A charmer and trickster with bold dreams and a dark past.
  4. Hargatha Foehammer, Clan Avenger – A dwarven artisan seeking to avenge the massacre of her clan.
  5. Jomina Jomini, Numerologist – An arcane scholar who believes that cause and effect is governed by numbers and vectors.
  6. Rook, Wrath of the Wild Woods – An elven ranger who hunts the undead and those who despoil the forests he calls home.

MTG Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Gather Previews

7 Jul , 2021,
Crimson
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Thanks to the cool peeps at Hasbro, we were invited to be a part of an exclusive gathering of Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons fans, where we got the opportunity to preview some of the amazing cards from the upcoming Adventures in the Forgotten Realms set.

Delving through a classic console RPG style dungeon on Gather, we braved dangers including an adorable gelatinous cube, the terrifying chasm boss, several shades of dragons, and other fans to get these images to you. Check them out!

Don’t forget to share this with a friend who enjoys playing Magic: The Gathering or Dungeons & Dragons, and tell them that you saw these previews first on NTP!

Adventures in the Forgotten Realms brings fan favorites from one of the most iconic Dungeons & Dragons settings to the card table, and you’ll get to play with iconic characters both friendly and fiendish, and battle monsters like beholders, mimics, mind flayers, and more!

This set releases 23 July 2021, with prerelease taking place on 16 July 2021. Be sure to visit your favorite game store (ours is Game State Singapore) to pick up your prerelease kits and booster boxes, and let us know if you crack something cool!

AFA and GameStart team up to bring fans more awesome content

28 Feb , 2018,
Crimson
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It’s always amazing when conventions collaborate, and we were thrilled when we got wind that our two favorite shows – Anime Festival Asia (AFA) and GameStart Asia – are planning to join forces.

In a press release issued today, Japanese pop culture powerhouse SOZO and Eliphant, the organizers of SEA’s premier gaming event, formalized their strategic alliance “to further strengthen existing events, and to create and develop new events in Asia”.

The two companies aim to “be the first step to roll out an integrated support system to further strengthen the community”, and to “provide new and inspiring ways for fans to enjoy their hobbies in gaming, animation and beyond”.

“Southeast Asia emerges as one of the fastest growing markets for gaming and content, we recognised that both AFA and GameStart audiences have diverse interests in both gaming and anime. With our partnership, we hope to work closely to bring even more exhilarating content and holistic experiences to both fanbases across the regions,” said Shawn Chin, Managing Director of SOZO and founder of Anime Festival Asia.

“We are extremely excited to be able to bring our event to various regions, with the support of our partners. We are determined to support the regional gaming industry, especially in esports and game development. We are positive that our partnership will provide more events and enable us to bring awesome content to both gamers and anime fans, ” said Elicia Lee, founder of GameStart Asia and CEO of Eliphant Pte Ltd.

GameStart will also launch an Indonesia edition of the convention with the support of SOZO, and it looks like things will be seriously heating up in the convention sphere.

With two major conventions in Singapore working closely together, the competition really needs to shape up, or ship out!

We’re rooting for SOZO and Eliphant on this one, and can’t wait for more news of their upcoming plans!

7 FGO Tips for First-time Masters

26 Jul , 2017,
Crimson
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Fate/Grand Order has been out in the US for close a month now, but if you’ve only just jumped aboard the Fate fandom and started trying your hand at this game, here are some quick tips to help you maximize your play experience and get to a respectable level where you can enjoy both the story and the content.

Tip #1: Reroll, Reroll, Reroll

If you’ve been playing mobile phone games with a gacha element, you’ll be no stranger to rerolling in the hope of starting with a stronger unit.

As you play through the Prologue, you’ll get to make a welfare 10x Summon. This 10x Summon guarantees at least one 4* Servant (I ended up with two). You’ll also get to access your Present Box, pick up your commemorative Saber Lily, and some freebies (including 30 Saint Quartz) a couple battles after.

The Prologue teaches you all sorts of things, like how to utilize the Wall of Special Snowflakes. Luckily, it doesn’t take you more than 5 minutes to breeze through everything.

If you don’t know where the Present Box is, keep hitting the Back arrow in the top-left corner till you get back to the Terminal interface. It’s pretty self-evident where it is after.

With 30 Saint Quartz, you’re equipped to make some 10x Summon rolls and pray to the RNG gods that you get a 5* Servant that can help carry you, especially in the early game.

Keep doing this till you’re happy with the results.

That’s the button for a 10x Summon roll folks. Don’t forget to chant the summoning spell and place an offering in the magic circle while you’re at it.

Tip #2: Back up your Transfer Number

Fate/Grand Order tracks your account using a Transfer Number. If you like what you rolled, be sure to go to Menu > My Room, and select Issue Transfer Number to get one.

You’ll also be prompted to key in a password to go with the issued number for recovery purposes.

Lord El-Melloi II insists that you back up your data. 😛

Tip #3: Level up your 5* Servant immediately!

You should have received some QP (gold) and XP cards in your Present Box together with your Saint Quartz.

Go to Menu > Enhance > Servant, and feed those XP cards to your 5* Servant to bump up his Level before you begin the farming process. You don’t want to dive into the next part with your Servants at Level 1. 😛

Having a semi-decent 5* at a respectable level in your line-up will help in the next bit.

Tip #4: Raid the Treasure Vault (at least once)

Your Master level impacts the maximum number of Servants and Craft Essences you can bring into battle, and the speediest way to power level this is to do the Daily Quest maps.

If you’re fresh out of the third scenario in the Prologue, you’ll be maybe Level 2, with a maximum AP cap of slightly more than 20. This allows you to access Enter the Treasure Vault (Intermediate).

This is the first Daily Quest map (accessible from Terminal > Chaldea Gate > Daily Quest) that you will want to do because it hooks you up with some QP as well as enough XP to bump your Master level a couple times.

And of course, it’s gotta be Gil if a Treasure Vault is involved. 😛

Just be sure to bring along a friend with a powerful Rider because you’re kicking down Doors, and every one of them is a Caster. My personal favorite is Martha, but any Rider with an AOE (area effect) Noble Phantasm will do.

Slap on a Kaleidoscope, The Imaginary Element or Prisma Cosmos, and you’ll be firing that NP off pretty regularly too.

Tip #5: Do those Dailies!

Make sure you move on to Ember Gathering (Intermediate) once you have gotten some QP out of the Vault.

Farm Ember Gathering (Intermediate) till your maximum AP cap hits 30. This won’t take long as each completion will yield enough Master XP for you to level up, and that also instantly refills your AP gauge. The XP cards you farm can also be fed to your Servants to beef them up for the next part.

Farm Ember Gathering (Advanced) till your maximum AP cap hits 40, and start on Ember Gathering (Expert) as soon as you can.

Not only will you receive 15,690 XP for your Master Level, you’ll get 8 or 9 gold XP cards every time you complete the Expert map.

Of course, it helps if you (and your friend in the Support slot) are properly armed for the occasion.

Special events like the ongoing Nero Festival will yield a much higher XP payout (20,380 XP for the 30 AP map), so be sure to farm that instead when you can. Just make sure you’ve got a team (or friends) capable of taking on Servants with over 50,000 hp.

Tip #6: Watch those Affinities

This isn’t so much a tip, as it is common sense. Some Servants have Personal Skills that complement each other, and fielding a solid line-up to tackle those pesky Daily Quests will help speed up your power leveling process.

It also helps to level at least one Servant of every Class so you can keep your farming team versatile.

Decent 3* picks that can help fill gaps in your line-up include Julius Caesar (Saber), Robin Hood (Archer), Cu Chulainn (Protoype), Medusa (Rider), Medea (Caster), Jing Ke (Assassin) and Kiyohime (Berserker).

Or, you know, you could go with a full team of Berserkers like I normally do. :3

Tip #7: Make use of Mana Prisms

Since Mana Prism redemption in Da Vinci’s shop resets regularly now, you have the opportunity to get yourself some extra Summon Tickets, as well as Sun Fou (improves ATK by 50) and Star Fou (improves maximum HP by 50) if you have Mana Prisms to spare.

She’s here to take your money. Always try to clean out the shop and pump up your favorite Servants with the Fou cards if you can.

Doing your Dailies at the highest difficulty will get you about 11 Mana Prisms easily, and you can get as many as 26 each day if you do every single Daily Quest religiously.

You can also choose to Burn (Sell) unwanted Servants, XP Cards and Craft Essences. In fact, one of the easiest ways to farm Mana Prisms is to do Ember Gathering (Advanced), and burn any silver XP cards you gain after.

You’ll need several hundred Mana Prisms if you want to clear out Da Vinci’s shop on a regular basis!

If you’ve got plenty of friends (like me), you’ll always have at least 2 10x Friend Point rolls up daily. Burn any excess 3* Servants, silver XP cards and Craft Essences you don’t care for (like Black Keys) and turn them into Mana Prisms.

And that’s pretty much all there is to it.

Just keep doing your Dailies once you’ve completed your story maps, keep pimping out your Servants, and stock up on both Summon Tickets and Saint Quartz, because you’ll want them for special events with Rate Up like Nero Festival, among other things.

Happy farming! :3

Final Fantasy Brave Exvius: Producer Interview

22 Aug , 2016,
Crimson
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FFBE_Producers01

Fujimoto-san and Hirono-san (from left) were in the gumi Asia office Monday, and we asked them for the lowdown on what fans can expect in future updates.

You might have seen me talking about Final Fantasy Brave Exvius and posting screenies of my adventures this mobile RPG awhile ago.

It’s one of Square Enix’s more recent offerings, and rather than just a mindless grind with gacha elements, it’s got a rather compelling story in the vein of old 16-bit classics. Add to it retro sprites and a pretty killer soundtrack by video game music composer Noriyasu Agematsu and you’ve got a pretty polished app over all.

You also gotta give it to the folks at gumi Asia, who handled the monumental international rollout. The game has since hit more than 5 million downloads, bringing the total number of players for both the Global and JP versions to a whopping 12.5 million.  

When FFBE producers Kei Hirono and Hiroki Fujimoto dropped by the gumi Asia office Monday, we naturally jumped at the chance to pick their brains, and to find out what fans can expect in the months to come.

Hirono-san’s producer credits include PC-based browser game Imperial SaGa and the wildly popular live show Jitsuzai-Sei Million Arthur and is now Division Executive of Square Enix’s 8th Business Division, while Fujimoto-san has worked on numerous Square Enix titles since 1992, with multiple hits under his belt.

The interview was conducted in Japanese, with the help of our awesome columnist Haruta. Here are some highlights:

1. What can players expect in the future content updates?

Producers: Players can expect to see more of their favorite characters from Final Fantasy titles such as Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Tactics join the game. Some of these units are already available in Japan, and will eventually be included in the Global release. We have just released Kolobos, and the story of Rain, Lasswell and Fina will continue on Dirnado. We intend to have regular content updates, perhaps every month.

Screenshot_20160822-113819

The latest Visions to hit the gacha include FFIX staples and hot favorite Zidane, as well as ways to make these units more accessible to new players.

Screenshot_20160822-173946

Brace yourself. Dirnado is coming. 😀

2. Was Demons Unleashed too demanding for newer players?

Producers: Demons Unleashed was a brand new event for the Global release, and we hope to do better in future. We hope that the community will continue to give us feedback so we can improve the balance of events in future and to make the rewards worth their while.

Screenshot_20160822-172723

The latest Into the Abyss event tests your mettle in an expanded Earth Shrine, and rewards you for your efforts. You also don’t have to farm quite as many materials to craft the cool stuff.

3. New Co-Op Events?

Producers: We also hope to introduce more events to reward players. We are toying with the idea of a co-op event in the future. We want to create an event where there is a community objective, and all players will contribute to that objective. The event will also reward players with rare items and materials that will help them on their adventure. If the community is supportive of this idea, we hope that they can let us know.

4. Will we ever see Rain, Lasswell and Fina on the big screen or in animation?

Producers: That really depends on the fans. We cannot make any promises, but if community feedback is positive, then maybe. Would fans prefer a CG movie or anime? They should let us know on social media.

5. Are there plans for offline fan events in Singapore? 

Producers: Again, that depends on the fans. We’re doing an event in Japan soon, and if there’s demand for it, then maybe we will do something in Singapore too.


And there you have it. If you wish to see more improvements to the game, or perhaps an offline event at a gaming con near you, be sure to ping the official Final Fantasy Brave Exvius page on Facebook and let them know!

Wanna level in PoGo like a pro? Here’s how.

16 Aug , 2016,
Crimson
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PoGo’s been out for over a week, and it’s sure been a busy week for us at NTP. Because we want to be the very best, like no one ever was, we’ve been searching far and wide for the very best grinding spots in Singapore.

It’s been a helluva journey, and we’ve managed to break mid 20s with some clever strats and choice of locations.

The grind’s not pretty (and can get really boring), but if you’re the sort that wants to see your levels grow, here’s how:

1. Invest in Lucky Eggs

It's a great bargain!

When else can you put all your eggs in one basket? 😀

Pokemon Go is a game you can play without spending a single cent, but like many other mobile phone games, you may want to purchase quality of life improvements through the in-game store. If you have some gold to burn, be sure to spend it to upgrade the number of slots in your Bag (this is pretty important), and Lucky Eggs.

A Lucky Egg doubles the amount of XP you earn for 30 minutes, and is the foundation of grinding. A bargain bundle of 25 Lucky Eggs on the in-game store goes for 1250 coins ($15), and that ain’t half bad to say the least.

2. Hit the Intersection of Multiple Pokestops

They just keep spawning! :o

I feel like some seafood. How ’bout you? 😮

Where lures abound, those Pokemon keep spawning.

The best grinding spot is one with at least three intersecting Pokestops in close proximity to each other.

Our favorite spot has got to be VivoCity, where you’ll see Lure-induced cherry blossoms at all hours (even in the wee hours of the morning, which is kinda creepy).

Just make sure that you’re camping where you can handily swipe all nearby Pokestops, proc spawn triggers, and easily tap on all the cute Pokemon that appear on your cellphone screen.

3. Timing is Everything

You don't want to just TRY to be the very best. XD

You don’t want to just TRY to be the very best. XD

The cooldown for swiping a Pokestop is 5-minutes. That means you can’t benefit from a Pokestop till 5-minutes have passed since the last time you swiped it for loot and XP.

Be sure to time it so that you maximize your gains from the Pokestops every 5-minutes. You’ll need the extra Pokeballs since you’ll be catching Pokemon left, right and center anyway, and might actually run out.

4. Throw ’em a Curveball

Every bit of XP counts!

Every bit of XP counts!

Since we’re in it for the grind, every little bit of XP you can eke out of your catches counts.

Throwing a Curveball (tap and hold on the Pokeball, swish it around till stars appear, then release) nets you 10 XP, which is doubled to 20 XP with a Lucky Egg active.

Clearly, this Horsea doesn't want to get in the Pokeball.

Clearly, this Horsea doesn’t want to get in the Pokeball.

A Nice!, Great! or Excellent! throw yields additional XP too, so be sure to aim well, and let fly.

5. Other XP Bonuses (and the Pidgey Grind)

Make a new Pokefriend. Pick up that 500 free XP.

Make a new Pokefriend. Pick up that 500 free XP.

Adding a new Pokemon to your Pokedex gives you a bonus 500 XP (1,000 XP with Lucky Egg), and Evolving a Pokemon nets you the same.

That’s why there are stories of something called the Pidgey grind, where you evolve multiple Caterpies, Pidgeys and Weedles (they only require 12 candies each to evolve) with a Lucky Egg active to jump several levels at once.

Bear in mind though that each single instance of Pokemon evolution comes with a 30 second animation that CANNOT be canceled, which eats into your Lucky Egg duration.

6. Raw Numbers

Putting everything up there together, it’s conceivable for a starting trainer who spends a bit of money on Lucky Eggs to get from 1 to 20 in a day (and by a day we mean 12 hours of almost uninterrupted grinding).

Here’s the math:

4 Pokestops every 5 minutes – 400 XP every 5 minutes, or 4,800 XP per hour.

1 Pokemon catch with Curveball every minute – 220 XP every minute, or 13,200 XP per hour.

If we account for variance that’s anywhere from 18,000 XP to 20,000 XP per hour.

This means that if you’ve got an uninterrupted supply of Lucky Eggs, you’ll be able to hit Level 6 by the first hour, Level 9 by the second. In five hours, you MIGHT touch Level 15, and in a whopping 12 hours, Level 20, the break point where real life (and the real grind) begins.

You can hasten the process by evolving any caterpies, pidgeys and weedles you catch in batches of at least 10 (which translates to 10,000 XP with a Lucky Egg) or more. Naturally, the more batch evolutions you do, the better.

7. A Disclaimer

The math above is fairly accurate, but your mileage may vary depending on whether your Lucky Egg buff is active, how efficient your catches are, the location you camp at, and whether you get pulled away by other distractions (like rare spawns).

Most importantly, have fun playing the game, and don’t forget to join our Pokemon Go Photo Contest!

Pop-Culture Marketing: Banking on the Action

28 Jun , 2016,
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In last week’s column, we talked about how Japan was using manga to educate pop-culture fans about their moving options.

This week, we examine how pop-culture is changing the way several banks in Japan – traditionally known to be staid, stuffy, and uninterested in the geek dollar, are selling their credit card and loan products.

cardloan_01

Highschool girls are probably the last thing you’d expect banks to use as their mascots.

Known as the Card Loan Girls, these anthropomorphized cards represent products from consumer financial institutions such as Acom, Lake, Aiful, Orix, Mitsui Sumitomo, Mizuho, Mobit, and Promise, and are the latest in a long, long line of anthropomorphized objects to hit Japan.

Of course, the casual otaku should be no stranger to such things, what with ship girls a la DMM’s Kantai Collection or sword boys from Touken Ranbu dominating the doujin charts and at the forefront of fan consciousness in the past couple years.

What’s interesting though, is the way the Card Loan Girls site uses quality manga style illustrations and a presentation that’s almost akin to a dating SIM to woo the geeky demographic.

Entries even list the character’s height, attributes and favorite activities (which we assume represent a particular lifestyle or hobbies that might align with a particular loan policy).

cardloan_03

With the website's presentation, you might think it's selling a dating SIM.

With the website’s presentation, you might think it’s selling a dating SIM. Also represented above: The Lake mascot Rei Midorikawa.

Of course, www.cardloan-girls.jp does more than just flash waifu material at you.

It aggregates details about the participating bank’s credit cards and loan products such as interest rates, maximum card limits, even participating ATMs and outlets.

The site also lays out the pros and cons of each product in a nutshell, happily helping you to make informed choices about the card that’s most right for your lifestyle, income bracket and spending habits. 

bridal-loan-665x443

Car, housing, mortgage, even bridal loans are discussed on the site.

If there’s anything otakus need, it’s probably financial advice and this campaign might actually be doing a pretty good job at dispensing it.

Local banks have already seen the value of tapping on pop-culture. We curated cosplay content and a manga strip for DBS Marina Regatta last year, but we’ve yet to see them embark on something quite as ambitious. Hopefully, with pop-culture emerging as the marketing in-thing, we’ll see more diverse campaigns on the horizon.

Check out the Card Loan Girls site for yourself at http://cardloan-girls.jp.

If you have a lead on a site or campaign that’s a great example of pop-culture marketing, be sure to write us at info[at]neotokyoproject.com to let us know! We’ll be happy to take a look at it, and if it is a great fit for this column, we’d be happy to write about it!