Dragon’s Maze: First Reactions (and a store review)

We finally got some spoilers for Dragon’s Maze, and to tell the truth it kind of snuck up on me. I have been so engrossed in current metagame, always tweaking, always brewing . . . that I haven’t had time to really think about the new set coming out. New blood is always good as it will breed further innovation and power up older decks, but is too much innovation frustrating? How many times have you gone to Friday Night Magic or other big tournament with a deck you thought would do well against the metagame, only to find out that the other players are using something completely different that you weren’t really prepared for? It can be frustrating to say the least . . .

New Dragon’s Maze Cards

Ral Zarek

Ral Zarek

I think that most players are already getting excited at the possibilities that the new planeswalker Ral Zarek could create. He’s an Izzet man though, which means he will most likely be showing up in RWU, Grixis (BRU), and to a lesser extent RUG decks. One thing is for sure: He’s going to give a lot more power to control decks. Teaming him up with Tamiyo, Jace Architect of Thought, and even Gideon Champion of Justice can really shut down your opponent. I think there’s a good chance we’ll see the Super Friends (planeswalker control) deck make a comeback after Dragon Maze, but the decks to get the most help will be those using RWU. RWU midrange, RWU control, RWU flash, and RWU tempo are going to only get more powerful. Let’s take a look at his abilities and how they can help those decks.

The +1 ability is strong. The tap ability isn’t as strong as Tamiyo’s, but being about to untap something makes even better. You could untap an artifact, a land (essentially making him only cost 3 mana so you can you can keep mana open for another spell), or even a creature you just attacked with. The possibilities are endless. I could definitely see him getting play in tempo or flash decks, especially alongside Geist of Saint Traft. You drop the Geist on turn 3, then Ral on turn 4 to tap their creature and attack for 6 without fear of being blocked. He’ll build up those counters quickly in a tempo deck alongside Azorius Charms and Unsummons, allowing you to finish off your opponent with his -2 ability (or to kill a blocker so your Geist can swing in for the last points of damage). His -7 is tricky since you need to flip a coin, but even one heads is totally worth it. That late in the game can end it for your opponent.

I don’t know if he’ll hit $40 like Jace, Architect of Thought did when Return to Ravnica first was released, but you can be sure that Ral Zarek will sit nicely in the $20-$25 range for the first few weeks, if not higher. I also think that the increase in Izzet colors will cause Sulfur Falls and Steam Vents to go up in value again, so if you don’t have your play set (4 copies) yet, now might be the time to bargain hunt. Last time I checked, Sulfur Falls were about $5-7 and Steam Vents were about $8. Buy them up if you can!

Nagoya Dragon’s Maze Information

Below you can find information about the cost of booster boxes and pre-releases around the Nagoya area as of 4/8/2013. While it’s not complete, hopefully it will let you put some dates on your calendar and choose a time and place you can go to. If you have any questions, please ask.

  • Amenity Dream – box 9990 yen, GP Beijing Trial 4/20 – standard – 2000 – 10am, can reserve spot now, DM pre-release – 4/27-12pm and 4/28 – 11 am – 2500 yen, 50 people max, can register now.
  • Hobby Station Osu – DM pre-release 2500 – no reservations – 20 people max – 11 or 12 start time, box 10300. Information was still undecided, so call before going and ask about the time.
  • Dvantage – DM box 10500, no tournament
  • Yellow Submarine – DM box 9900, 4/27 and 4/28 – 2400 – 30 people – can reserve a spot – 11:30 am
  • Big Magic – DM box 10,000 yen, 4/27 pre-release – 10:30, 48 people, 2:30 pm, 48 people, 2500 yen – can reserve a spot now
  • Card Brunch – boxes sold out, 4/27 & 4/28 pre-release – 10 and 4pm 20 people events – 2500 yen. It looks like their events will be at Higashi Betsuin Kaikan just a few minutes walk from Higashi Betsuin Station behind the Mei television building. 
  • Hobby Station Mei Eki –  Pre-releases they were on both Saturday and Sunday, starting from 11 am I believe. The price was also the same, 2500 yen. If you pre-register it’s only 2100 yen, but there are only 30 spots I believe. Call to find out more info. The space is limited, so be sure to register.
  • Mishimaya – Events are on both days, starting at 10 am and the price is about 2880 or so. Tourneys will be of 30 people each, and as queues fill up they’ll be starting more tourneys as long as time permits and people want to play. Boxes are 11500 yen, and promo cards are still available there. 

If any of my other readers in Japan have information on their local shops’ Dragon Maze Pre-release, please feel free to add it in the comments section. I also want to point out that Amenity Dream is having a GPT on April 20th for 2000 yen. It starts early (9:30 registration), but if you don’t play often but want to test your skills (as well as get a x3 multiplier for your planeswalker points) head on out.

New Store in Town

Dvantage outside

Dvantage outside

A new store has opened in town, and luckily you won’t have to work to hard to find it. The name of the store is Advantage, and if you’ve read through my other store reviews in the “Magic the Gathering” tab at the top of the page, then you might remember me saying something about how Fireball changed their name to Advantage. I believe it’s a chain shop out of Tokyo that has recently been expanding into the Nagoya market. This raises the total of card/Magic related stores to 6 in the Sakae/Osu Kannon area, which is great for players searching for a good deal.

Dvantage Store

Dvantage Store

The store itself is rather small. What you see is what you get. They have a wall for Magic cards, a wall for Yugi Oh and Vanguard cards, and in the middle are cheaper single cards to help you build your deck with. Their prices aren’t bad, in fact some of their single cards in the case were cheaper than at other places I had seen around town. They have booster packs, but only of the new cards, and they sell boxes too.

One of the drawbacks to being a small store is that it has no playing area at all. This means you’ll never be doing a tournament there (the other one near Kamimaezu station does Thursday night Legacy every week I believe). So why check it out? Well, location does account for a lot. It’s in a great location just across the street from Yellow Submarine and less than a block from Hobby Station Osu on Akamon Dori. In case you forgot how to get to these places and to Akamon Dori, please read below for more information.

Getting to Advantage

Just as it was with the other stores in Osu Kannon, to get to this new Advantage store head to Kamimaezu station. You can get there on the Tsurumai line from Kami Otai or Toyota City, or if you are coming from Nagoya station you can take the Higashiyama Subway line to Sakae and transfer to the Meijo line going towards Kanayama. It’s two stops away from Sakae on the Meijo line. Once you are at Kamimaezu station, take exit 9 to street level and keep walking straight. Right out of the station you should see an electronics store on your left side, and if you keep walking you’ll see a Starbucks on your left as well. You’re now in the heart of the Osu area. Keep on walking straight for another 2 blocks or so and you’ll come across a 7/11 on the corner of an intersection with a large red gate right next to it. This is Akamon Dori. Take a left and walk straight for about a block and when you get to the entrance to the shopping arcade, look up and you should see the shop on the 2nd floor like the picture above. 

Again, I hope these directions aren’t too difficult to understand. If you have problems finding it, let me know and I’ll write down better directions. 

Coming Soon

Well that’s it for today, but spoilers are going to start pouring out of Dragon’s Maze every day now. You can be sure I’ll be posting my thoughts about the cards, and as soon as the whole list is spoiled I’ll be talking a lot about limited. I’m not sure how limited/sealed with DM is going to work yet (it’s been said they are supposed to be opened with RTR and GTC, but I don’t think people are going to want 2 packs of each during the pre-release), but I’m sure that’s why Wizards decided to put Guildgates in each pack along with shocklands at 1 out of 10 packs. I might get another post out by the weekend, but I’m working on two other articles for MythicMTG.com and 60cards.com right now, so I’m not totally sure when I’ll post a new article. Whatever gets posted at the other sites I’ll be sure to link it here, especially if it’s new material!

Thanks for reading and as always comments are welcome!