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Conspiracy Review June 10, 2014

Posted by James in : all, reviews , trackback

There is so much going on in Conspiracy that it is hard to describe fully. I believe it exists with three main reasons:

  1. Reprints. It is like Modern Masters in that it has reprints, but has older Magic cards. It gives people a chance to get fun older Magic cards for their Commander (EDH) decks.
  2. Multiplayer. It was developed with multiplayer in mind. I would like to see more multiplayer events. So far this is the only set ever made with an official push for multiplayer events. The game has been around for over twenty years, so it is actually kind of surprising it took this long.
  3. Draft only/un-set. There are cards and effects that are not “tournament legal.” The set is considered to be for “casual events,” which means that they are not sanctioned. Why? Because Conspiracy cards do interesting things to the game, but are best used while drafting. Also, other cards also have interesting wacky effects while drafting, which should bring Unglued to mind. In fact, I suspect that many of the cards were intended for Unglued 3 at some point.

So, we have a set that is basically Unglued 3, a reprint set, and a multiplayer set all in one. Maybe Wizards of the Coast originally intended to make three different sets, but decided to combine all their ideas into a single Magic set. Did it work? I think so. I would say that the set is as fun as anything else I’ve played. I would give it at least a 9/10 along with Innistrad, Time Spiral, and Modern Masters. (Which are my favorite sets so far).

A quick run down of the new elements: Conspiracy cards are great, draft mechanics are fun, the multiplayer elements are a nice touch, and a lot of the reprints are quite nice.

My biggest complaint is how the events are run. Players draft the set (which takes about an hour), then they play a single game (which takes maybe another hour or so). That’s not enough games after drafting the set. I would really like some bigger events that have at least a few games. There should be a way to shuffle the players around to let people play against new groups of opponents.

A small criticism I have is that small creatures are not as good in multiplayer games, and playing small creatures can be punished severely by board wipes, like Volcanic Fallout (which deals 2 damage to each creature and player).

Let’s consider some of the elements that are involved in more detail: (1) Conspiracy cards, (2) draft mechanics, (3) multiplayer elements, and (4) reprints.

Conspiracy cards

backup plan

Backup Plan is quite a free advantage. Everyone would want one of these if it was legal in regular Magic events. The whole point of having cards like this in Conspiracy is that you are taking this card instead of something else during the draft. That means you will probably have some pretty good cards in the pack that you will have to overlook in order to take it.

Keep in mind that Conspiracy cards are not actually tournament legal. They might as well be silver bordered cards. They are pretty much Unglued cards without the silly humor attached.

Draft mechanics

cogwork librarian

Cogwork Librarian lets you draft an extra card, but (once more) you have to be willing to draft it instead of another card (which is also likely to be pretty good.) I like to think that I thought of this card first (back in 2008 or so). This card is very similar to Demonic Lawyer (a card I thought of). Go here to take a look.

lore seeker

Lore Seeker is just pure fun. It is a bit of an advantage to the player who uses it since that player can get the first pick out of a new booster pack. (Of course, the point is that you have to take this over other potentially good cards.)

Lore Seeker is somewhat similar to another fan favorite (from Unhinged):

booster tutor

I suppose if we ever get Unglued 3, there will be another card that requires players to open a booster pack. I would personally want more of these (or to have them be commons) because everyone wants them to happen. One group that drafted Conspiracy was so disappointed not to get a Lore Seeker that they decided to add an extra pack to the draft anyway.

Note that the cards with draft mechanics are legal in certain types of tournaments, but those events won’t actually have a draft. They are pretty boring cards in those events, but it looks like Wizards of the Coast found a creative way to make tournament legal Unglued cards.

Multiplayer elements

The multiplayer elements range from very subtle to rares that are obviously better in multiplayer games to keyword abilities. My focus here will be on the keyword abilities.

Selvala's Charge

Parley lets players randomly determine how powerful the card will be. I like the idea, but I have only seen it work out well once. Almost every time anyone ever played a Parley card, the player got nothing or only revealed one nonland card.

council's judgment

Will of the Council tends not to be very strong, but it was a fun idea for the multiplayer format. By the way, we know that voting was originally intended for Unglued 2 several years ago. Go here for more information.

scourge of the throne

Dethrone was a pretty good idea to encourage players to attack whoever is doing well (rather than ganging up against the weakest player). I haven’t done much of anything with Dethrone, but it is an interesting mechanic.

deathforge shaman

Probably my favorite multiplayer mechanic is multikicker. It is somewhat subtle, but multiplayer games tend to last longer and you can end up getting a lot of mana. This gives you something to do with all the extra mana you will likely get at some point during the game.

Reprints

exploration

Exploration, Stifle, Swords to Plowshares, Mirrari’s Wake, Brainstorm, and Misdirection are probably the most notable reprints. I already have pretty much all the cards that were reprinted, but a lot of them are very useful to Commander/EDH decks, and I can understand how important it is to give players a somewhat affordable way to get a hold of these cards.

In conclusion, a lot is going on in this set. There were three main reasons that Conspiracy was made. Reprints are nothing new but serve a purpose, multiplayer is new, we haven’t had an unglued set for a really long time, and we’ve never had draft mechanics until now. I think the set was very well made and is very enjoyable (despite a couple of minor things I can criticize about the set or the events).

Unrelated: I made a fantasy card game called Crazier Eights, and it is now up on Kickstarter (which I hope will help provide needed funding to manufacture the game, and gives you an opportunity to get your own copy of the game). Crazier Eights is one of the easiest card games that can exist with really fun and interesting card effects. It is somewhat inspired by Crazy Eights (the game Uno is based on). Go here to take a look.

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