Tuesday, July 21, 2015

News: Cipher Deckbox Included in July Issue of Nintendo Dream Magazine

As part of a cross-promotion with Fire Emblem Cipher, it's been announced through Nintendo Dream's official twitter that today's issue of Nintendo Dream magazine will include a deckbox themed after B01: Warblade of Heroes. Featuring "Princes of Altea, Marth," "Lodestar, Marth," "Swordsman Known as Marth, Lucina," and "Protector of Ylisse, Chrom" the plastic deckbox comes packaged with every sealed volume of the July 21st issue, and is capable of holding up to 50 single sleeved cards. Whether double or triple layer sleeves will fit the box has not been addressed, but photos from Dream's official account suggest that at least double layers will fit the box.

Nintendo Dream has a history of promotion with Cipher, conducting an unboxing party livestream last month. The magazine's publisher, Tokuma Shouten, will be launching an official Cipher guide on July 24th, which comes with the exclusive "Enigmatic Tactician, Robin" promotional card.

News: Tiki, Marth, Lucina, and Gaius in Second Set of Fire Emblem Cipher Sleeves

The next set of Fire Emblem Cipher sleeves have been announced for a September 10th launch date, just seven days prior to the launch of S02: Godflame of Light and Dark. The sleeves will feature "Hero to His Country, Marth" "Knower of the Future, Lucina" "Princess of the Divine Dragon Tribe, Tiki" and "Sweetest Assassin, Gaius." Tiki and Gaius were both voted for by fans during the game's prerelease livestream as the cards they would most like to see used as a sleeve. Each sleeve measures 67x92 millimeters, and 65 sleeves will come in every sealed package. Packs of sleeves will retail for 760 yen before tax, approximately $6 at the present exchange rate.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

News: Second Wave of Cipher Packaging Shown on Official Site

Today the Japanese Fire Emblem Cipher portal updated with images of the upcoming starter decks S03: Birthright and S04: Conquest, as well as the second booster set B02: Soulful Flames of Light and Dark. The starter decks will provide full support for the colors white and black, representing the Hoshido and Nohr factions from Fire Emblem Fates, and will retail for 1300 yen each (approximately $10.50 at the present exchange rate). The second booster set, which launches in Japan on September 17th, will likewise include cards designed to enhance each color. Like Warblade of Heroes before it, Soulful Flames of Light and Dark will include ten cards in each booster pack, and sixteen booster packs in each sealed box of the set. MSRP for the booster packs is 350 yen each (~$2.83) and 5600 yen per box (~$45).
The Hoshido and Nohr factions supported by Soulful Flames were originally introduced as promotional cards packaged with Warblade of Heroes boxes. Cipher is handling the split version mechanic of Fire Emblem Fates by representing the protagonist of Birthright as the male incarnation of Corrin, and the protagonist of Conquest as their female incarnation. So far all known Corrin prints can also be treated as having the Hoshidan or Nohrian symbols, allowing white and black decks to be efficiently mixed together, though each of their skills still draw power boosts from their respective black and white colors.

The third booster set, which has no formal title nor announced launch date, will continue to support the factions from Fates while also introducing Tellius cards from Path of Radiance.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

News: A Tribute to Iwata Satoru, Dead at Fifty-five

Today Nintendo announced the death of Iwata Satoru on July 11th 2015, from a cancerous growth in his bile duct. It was this same condition which prevented his presence at E3 last year, for which he had undergone surgery. Born on December 6th 1959 (Shōwa 34), Iwata died at the too-young age of fifty-five, making his thirteen years the shortest reign of any President of Nintendo. Since 2002 his radical vision for the future has repeatedly redefined the company's position in relation to the rest of the market, and set it above and beyond the scope of competing developers. Nintendo has lost its greatest President, and the fans have lost one of their best friends.

Iwata is someone that we cannot write about impersonally. Composing an exhaustive list of all the games he contributed to in life is likely impossible; Iwata was a constant presence working alongside Nintendo's development staff even after ascending to the position of President, and for every game he worked on there lies a story and more uncredited work behind it. Several of his contributions only became known years after the fact, and there's likely still more that will never be public knowledge. While Iwata is famous for reprogramming EarthBound from scratch midway through its development, for this editor Iwata's greatest accomplishments were in the late 90s and early 2000s. We first came to know Iwata through his work on Super Smash Bros. Melee, on which many sleepovers and afternoons were spent. Even now the arguments over whether Marth or Roy was better still come to mind. The handheld Kirby games filled many long car rides across the United States, and in each of his games a small piece of Iwata's soul touched our lives. His revolutionary direction as President fundamentally changed Nintendo into a developer for more than just gamers, achieving a level of proliferation with the Wii that the press could never have anticipated. His policies of openness between developers and fans lead to the creation of Iwata Asks, a column hosted on Nintendo's official site in which he would interview game developers about their upcoming projects. With Iwata gone, the future of the column is uncertain.

Iwata was the first President of Nintendo to cut his teeth on programming video games before ever ascending to the position, but what characterized his career most strongly was how he retained a developer's mindset even after succeeding President Yamauchi. Setting him apart from the distant Yamauchi was that while Yamauchi died having never played a video game, Iwata had hands-on experience with both playing and developing games. To prevent new titles from languishing in obscurity, he gave his seal of approval to games that would have otherwise struggled to find funding. (Of note is that several years prior to his presidency, Iwata was one of the executive producers for Doshin the Giant. Could such a bizarre game have ever existed if Iwata and Miyamoto hadn't done the executive coordination to get it funded?) His constant involvement with a huge variety of Nintendo's titles left Iwata's mark everywhere. The compression tools he created doubled the content of Pokémon Gold & Silver, and the debugging work he did over the course of three weeks on Melee was some of the most important ever done in the field. His code now lives on forever in the screens of the annual Apex and EVO tournaments.

Following his sudden departure, Iwata's place is being filled by representative directors Takeda Genyo and Miyamoto Shigeru. Our prayers are with them during this difficult time. Several insensitive comments have already been made regarding Iwata's death and this year's E3. Please be respectful of the Iwata family's grief in the days ahead, as well as that of his friends' and coworkers'.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Feature: Booster 1: Warblade of Heroes Box Opening

Our Cipher orders arrived earlier this week, so it's high time we get on with our first box opening. In addition to the Warblade of Heroes booster box we also ordered a War of Darkness starter deck and 25th Anniversary sleeves. We made our purchase on AmiAmi prior to the game's availability over Amazon; AmiAmi's base price was the most competitive online at the time, but once shipping is factored in it only becomes worthwhile if you're ordering additional products (or multiple boxes) on top of that.

Whether Amazon is worth your money now that there's several import services getting in on Cipher depends on your order; several Amazon sellers are offering free shipping but charging ~$70 per item, while AmiAmi is doing EMS shipping that will generally work out in the range of $30~36 depending on how many items you order and their combined weight, but only charging ~$40 per box. So if you're ordering multiple boxes, AmiAmi will generally work out as a better deal than buying through Amazon--two boxes on Amazon is ~$140, whereas on AmiAmi that would work out to ~$110. But if you're only ordering one, Amazon is better suited for that.

Our promo for the box is "Princess of Nohr, Corrin (♀)." Each Warblade of Heroes box comes with a print of either Corrin (♀) or Corrin (♂).

Each side of the box contains eight packs, with ten cards in each; depending on which card is the Rare or Super Rare, there are either 5 blue and 5 red cards in each pack, or 4 of one color and 6 of another. Each side contains six Rares and two Super Rare or higher cards.

Our first Super Rare was actually a signed Super Rare+! "Angelic Advocate of Affection, Caeda."

Our holos broke down as follows: "Eldest Pegasus Sister, Palla" (R), "Middle Pegasus Rider, Catria" (R), "Youngest Pegasus Sister, Est" (R), "Princess, Minerva" (R), "Angelic Advocate of Affection, Caeda" (SR+), "Gentle Flower of the Shepherds, Sumia" (R), "Pegasus Knight Paragon, Cordelia" (SR), "Wellspring of Youth, Nowi" (R), "Demure Dancer, Olivia" (R), "Man of Flower's Fragrance, Inigo" (R), "Sweetest Assassin, Gaius" (SR), "Guardian of Rosanne, Cherche" (R), "Exalted Strategist, Robin (♀)" (R), "Princess of Ylisse, Lissa" (R), "Chosen Warrior of Hope, Owain" (SR), and "Stoic Swordsman, Lon'qu" (R).

Overall the total value of the box's contents ranges from $70~$92 depending on whether you're looking at averages or peak highs for each card. Caeda and Cordelia together pushed up the cumulative value immensely. The pulls were about as blue as you can get; 11 blue holos and 5 red.

All of our red Normal and High Normal pulls.

All of our blue Normal and High Normal pulls. In total we're 14 cards short of having every nonsigned card in B01.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

News: Marth Decks Dominate Tournament Results, Tops Akihabara Tourney

Chrom didn't make the cut in Super Smash Bros., and he's not making it in Cipher.

Ten new tournaments took place between June 2nd and July 6th. Of the eighteen tournaments that have been reported on since the game's launch last month, twelve of them have been won by Marth decks. Accordingly, red is also the most consistent top in the game. The second most played deck of the Warblade of Heroes format is Inigo Harem, which has easily surpassed Chrom as the primary deck of choice for blue. Marth decks cumulatively account for more than two thirds of tops, while Inigo makes up 17% of the top decks. The rest is spread between rogue decks that have only topped once. An index of the most recent tournaments is provided below.
What should be kept in mind with these results is that more than a hundred shop tournaments took place in June, and a hundred more will have finished by the end of this week. Only about 8% of all tournaments that happen are reported, and so we are generalizing from a very small sample of data that may be skewed by the low number of reporting card shops. Provided that it is accurate, the first two weeks of tournament play should not see this kind of gulf emerge between Sword of Light and Mark of Naga decks. An ideally diverse format would be split 50-50 between the two colors.

Image credit
On July 8th, Card Kingdom Akihabara held a 16-person double elimination tournament, which became the second consecutive top for Lyndis, winner of the previous Akihabara shop tournament. Lyndis' deck underwent several major revisions between tournaments, most notably removing her cost 2 Tikis in favor of running cost 1 Nowi to accelerate her bond zone instead, as well as cutting Sumia to make room for the Tharja line. Tharja has been an unpopular choice in both pure blue and multicolor decks, requiring heavy reversal costs and restrictive handsize conditions in order to force the opponent to discard and gain attack bonuses.

With particular regard to "Mage of Dark Obsessions, Tharja," the costs and difficulty of setup can be worth the investment. If Tharja's cost 3 print was class changed from either her cost 1 or cost 2 variants, her reverse 3 skill forces the opponent to discard 3 cards, which effectively counters most forms of acceleration due to the low availability of true card advantage in the game. Without cards in hand the opponent can't place bonds, deploy units, discard for evasion, or discard for critical hits; at best they must choose two of those options to be available to them, and sacrifice the rest.

King TCG held its second shop tournament over July 2nd, and uploaded the results of the tournament to YouTube on the 4th. While the previous tournament was won by a conventional Marth deck, in this tournament finals Ogma made a surprise appearance as the champion's main character of choice.  The majority of players stick to Marth because of his ability to move an opponent's unit, controllign their field and exposing them to attacks. It's this very quality that has reinforced the use of units with Flying, as their shared support skill allows one to move units without setting them to the actioned state, allowing them to move and attack in the same turn.

By playing Ogma instead, the tournament winner gave up these qualities for a better offensive game. Basic Ogma becomes a 60 attacker as long as there are two other cost 2 or less allies in play. In his promoted state as "Steel Swordsman, Ogma" he both gains +10 attack every time a cost 2 or less ally is deployed and gives +10 attack to the deployed unit, preventing the opponent's defensive checks from blocking their attacks. Steel Swordsman can also become a range 1~2 attacker by reversing one bond, which gives him comparative levels of field control to "Lodestar, Marth" since the opponent can't move their units out of Ogma's range. This also gives him the freedom to move to the rearguard area and attack from there, where the opponent can't reach him.

The Chrom player in the finals ultimately lost the game as a result of mismanaging their bonds, being unable to play the cards they had in hand due to a combination of not having the right colors face-up at key times, and not having enough to pay the costs. They were also unable to ever take the lead in orbs due to their preoccupation with attacking allied units rather than Ogma himself, whose power skill benefited from needing to deploy replacements.

Card Kingdom (Akihabara branch) shop tournament
First place: Lyndis/リンディス
Cost 5: 4
x2 Hero to His Country, Marth
x2 Manakete Princess, Tiki
Cost 4: 10
x4 Lodestar, Marth
x3 Angelic Advocate of Affection, Caeda
x3 Mage of Dark Obsessions, Tharja
Cost 3: 7
x3 Wellspring of Youth, Nowi
x4 Pegasus Knight Paragon, Cordelia
Cost 2: 7
x3 Princess of Altea, Elice
x2 Bewitching Plegian Shaman, Tharja
x2 New Exalt, Chrom
Cost 1: 22
x1 Crown-prince of Altea, Marth (Main character)
x2 Ascetic Saint, Lena
x4 Crown-princess of Talys, Caeda
x4 Practitioner of Dark Arts, Tharja
x4 Young Prodigy, Cordelia
x4 Tomboyish Manakete, Nowi
x3 Liberation Army Archer, Gordin

News: Nintendo Hosting FE0 Event at "25th Anniversary of Love and Courage"

The official Fire Emblem Cipher portal updated today with new event information for the end of July. On July 25th Nintendo will be hosting a special concert in commemoration of Fire Emblem's anniversary, "The 25th Anniversary of Love and Courage," and Cipher will have its own special gallery at the event space featuring prints of illustrations created for the game. Fans of Cipher will also be provided a space to play the game in, but only individuals aged twenty years and older will be able to attend. The anniversary will be held at the Tokyo Dome Hotel, and it will cost 4000 yen to enter.

The 25th anniversary concert is set to include a variety of merchandise, including a 2000 yen folding fan decorated with the body of the divine dragon Naga, a 12000 yen replica of Azura's pendant from Fire Emblem Fates, and a commemorative "One Hundred Poems of Heroes" (英雄百歌 Eiyuu Moka) box containing illustrations that tell the stories of the Fire Emblem cast across twenty-five years in the form of waka poetry.

Modeled after traditional poetry sets used for karuta matching games, the Hundred Poems will contain two hundred cards with each complete poem split between two cards (and thus two illustrations). The first hundred are intended to be read by a poetry reader, while the remaining hundred are used for two players to try and matching the second half of the poem to its first half before the first half can be read. The Hundred Poems box will also come with a booklet and a CD that can recite the poems in place of an actual reader. It will cost 8424 yen, approximately $70.