Tuesday, December 17, 2013

MTG - Enlarging the cube!

I listened to Episode 14 of Joy of Cubing while marking at work and decided to enlarge my cube.  Also the Commander 2013 decks provided some cool cards you can't normally find easily.

In the beginning I made my cube 450 cards so that it could draft 8 people with a few extra left overs so each draft would be different.  It was a good size for my group but I had a hard time fitting everything that I wanted.  So things like cool creatures, or cool spells or answers to said cool creatures/spells were sometimes hard to balance.  If I included too many cool creatures they needed answers or games came down to who could play their bomb first as no one had an answer to it.  Similarly if I had too many answers, no one could run the bomby creatures as they would come in and then leave before anything would happen.

Playing sealed was also kind of strange as the pools were kind of all over the place.  No one really got enough of any one theme and we would end up with weird decks that had little or no synergy.  Mind you that is kind of what Sealed is like at times but at least in regular sealed formats the card pool is limited and you can get multiples of cards in regular sealed.  My Cube is highlander (I think most cubes are) so the kind of redundancy in normal sealed is non-existent.

Of course enlarging the cube can dilute some themes but at the same time allows me to add more cards for each theme and in different colours.  Some deck types might even emerge that I didn't think about.  Regardless it should be lots of fun.

On to the additions!  (The full cube list can be found here)

Monday, December 9, 2013

League of Legends - S4 changes and my roles

Had some time to play some more League in the past few weeks and some thoughts about how season 4 changed some of my champions and their roles.  Now since starting ranked play, my champion pool has become incredibly focused (or small).

I used to play jungle with a handful of champions (Jarvan, Udyr, Volibear, Xin, Warwick and some others) but have since focused on just two, Jarvan and Xin.  Their mechanics are similar so if one gets banned or picked I have the other.  Thankfully neither get banned or picked that often at the level I currently play at.

I also play support a lot now too and have focused on playing two as well, Sona and Leona.  They play differently from each other but are so strong in lane and in team fights.  They also have the benefit of not being banned too often (or picked for some reason)

The Season 4 changes to gold flow for both junglers and supports makes both roles a lot more impactful.  It's possible to build big items in both roles and you can really help carry your team.

For example as a Jungler I used to only get tanky items like Spirit of the Ancient Golem and then a Randiun's Omen and that's about it.  Now I have enough gold to add a big damage item like Trinity Force or Black Cleaver so I can do more damage in addition to the massive amount of crowd control in both Jarvan or Xin's kit.

As support I can get more than Locket of the Iron Solari and wards.  With Leona I can often pick up a Sunfire Cape or Randiun's Omen and with Sona you can add some AP items to help boost your heals and power chords.  The unfortunate thing is the 3 ward limit as I can't just light up the whole map now.  Not sure if that is worth the extra items but time will tell (and hopefully teaches the other 4 players to ward too).

Sadly I still don't practice the other roles so I'm pretty bad at them.  Though that's mostly because I can't last hit very well (but I am getting better!) and that puts me behind my opponent.  Oddly enough I am very good at trading with my opponents and I can usually secure a kill on them before they get one on me.  Unfortunately I have a hard time translating that advantage into a win for my team.

Oh well, things to work on for Season 4.

On another note, I think I've spent more on LoL skins in the past year than I have on Warhammer in the past decade.  Can't decide if that means my hobbies have just changed or Warhammer has gotten to the point where it's prices are too high and I'd rather spend that money on digital goods which are individually much much cheaper.  I've almost decided to drop the hobby altogether and get rid of my stuff.  That might mean a name change for my blog as I will have no Deathwing anymore.

Monday, December 2, 2013

GP Vienna Coverage

The folks at MTG Madness got some nice video coverage of GP Vienna.

I don't normally follow standard but this has some interesting implications of what to invest in for the next few weeks.

Go visit their YouTube channel at MTG Madness to view their coverage.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

MTG - BR Aggro in my Cube

Another aggro archetype I wanted to support in the cube was BR.  This time moving away from white and going the more aggressive and risky but in my opinion better able to close out games due to the direct damage capabilities of red and removal of black.

Black, much like white, is blessed to have an abundance of aggressive creatures but they tend to have drawbacks.  Compare say Elite Vanguard to Vampire Lacerator.  Both are 2 power creatures for 1 mana, but the Vampire Lacerator can potentially kill you (the tradeoff is that it has 1 extra toughness over Elite Vanguard).  Similarly Diregraf Ghoul is also a 2/2 creature for 1 but comes into play tapped.  Not as big of a drawback as the 1 life per turn but useless late game if you need a blocker right away.

Red also has a lot of efficient creatures like Firedrinker Satyr and Reckless Waif.  These ones don't have as big of a drawback as the black ones so they are easier to use.  The amount of cheap creatures gives the deck a plethora of early plays so you can guarantee some early damage from creatures early on as most decks don't want to trade their early creatures (either because they help ramp or are their main source of damage in the case of another aggressive deck)

The better early creatures you would want, aside from the ones mentioned above, are:
The downside of the deck is that since all the creatures so small if the game persists to mid-game or late-game you lose a lot of power as they can be easily outclasses by the larger creatures available in the cube.  At this point, the removal power of both red and black make their presence known.
Adding cards like
gives the deck ways to clear away troublesome creatures and force through more damage.  The red cards also do double duty in that they can be pointed at your opponent's head to finish them off.

Alternatively there are some larger aggressive creatures in both colours that can be added to give the deck some more mid-game punch.  Things like
provide the deck more power in the mid-game and some extra reach.  Tymaret, the Murder King makes your small creatures useful again as fodder to throw at your opponent and Carnage Gladiator can make blocking your attackers a dangerous prospect especially when combined with the zombie king.

BR aggro is definitely an all-in balls-to-the-wall deck that rewards aggression.  In my experiences, the archetype tends to win big (especially if it curves out properly) or lose big (when it can't curve out properly).

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sponsored by MTG Madness!

I'm proud to announce that MTG Madness is now sponsoring my blog!

MTG Madness is a growing site which specializes in selling Magic the Gathering cards with a growing team of writers and top players all around the world including this years World Champion Shahar Shenhar and recent Pro Tour Theros winner Jeremy Dezani.

They offer some nifty bonuses occasionally and for the next little bit they are offering 20% off your next order with the code MTGMAD so if any of you play MTG and are in the market for new cards do check them out!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

League of Legends - End of Season 3 thoughts

Season 3 ended a little over a week ago and I did not make my goal of getting to Gold (made it Silver 4 though).  I vastly underestimated the difficulty in climbing Silver and also vastly overestimated my own skills.  Not a bad thing as I've been forced to get better by refining a lot of my skills as a League player.

Here are a few things I learned while trying to climb Silver to Gold.

  1. Learn to play as a Support.
    This has got to be the best thing that happened to me in my solo-queue adventures.  I used to play as a jungler exclusively and if that was taken, I would play ADC or top.  I got frustrated though that as ADC I rarely got a good support who knew how to ward or how to peel or how to initiate and as such made laning much more difficult.  Didn't help that at the time I was not a good ADC (my last hitting skills and positioning were horrid so my terrible laning phase was not all due to the poor supports I got)
    I decided to play the other side one day and picked up Sona (my only other support was Janna but I gave up on her after going on a massive losing streak with her) and proceeded to play a bunch of ranked games with her.  Having a good support made such a difference with how the ADC performed (I tried my best to emulate good support players like Xpecial and Krepo).
    Good ward placement meant my ADC almost never got ganked and even helped our jungler gank for us as they would know when/where the enemy wards were.  I've actually taken to just buying an Aegis (and eventually Locket) and wards as my items for the entirety of the game.  If I get more gold I'll look to get a Frozen Heart or Randiun's but that's about it.  I almost never leave base without 2 pink wards and 2 green wards or an Oracle's and wards.
    Similarly knowing when to initiate with a good flash + crescendo meant we could secure lane dominance very well and really helped ganks out.  I currently have a 60% win rate with Sona over ~50 games.
    But it got even better once I started playing Leona.  She is so much tankier than Sona and her style of initiation is very reminiscent of Jarvan (who is my favourite champion).   I have a 70% win rate over ~30 games using Leona and most of the time I get congratulated by my ADC or the other team for my outstanding play.  I can obviously get better at the role as I am only in Silver 4 but playing Support has certainly boosted my win rate immensely.
  2. Ward everywhere.
    This is important no matter what role you are.  The pro's tell you do it, the YouTube tutorial videos tell you to do it, and the Riot Teamwork OP videos/posters tell you do to it.  Surprisingly very few people ward oustide of the support and then wonder why they get ganked or get no jungle support.  For those who top lane or mid lane, junglers generally don't want to gank your lane if you don't have wards up.  It just begs to be counter-ganked or have your targets flee and waste the junglers time.
    On the flip side, I can't remember how many times my team (or the other team in some cases) has set up good initiations based on all the wards thrown around the map (I almost always have 4 wards on me when I leave base and I throw those around at the good spots so my team has great vision).
  3. Don't rage or dwell on a loss but always reflect on what could have been better.
    The hardest thing to do in this game is accept a loss or accept that no matter how well you do, some games just weren't meant to be won by your side.  Whether it was because I initiated a bad fight or just misclicked/missed an ult or someone fed or whatever, I've learned to accept my losses (most of the time), reflect on what I could have done better and then move on.  Because of this attitude I've improved my ability to peel for my carries (I now try to use each of my crowd control abilities on a different champion so I can maximize their effect on a team fight or chain them properly so when one effect ends, the next effect starts), I've improved my ability to initiate (I am better at gauging when I can initiate and survive) and improved my overall game awareness (I'm better at predicting a jungle gank or where the enemy is so we can hit an objective).
I'm surprisingly happy about being in Silver 4 despite being 4 divisions out of Gold and I think that's because my attitude has changed considerably since the start of my ranked play.  I'm looking forward to Season 4 and I might have some duo-queue partners as a few of my friends want to take the plunge into ranked games.  My friends and I have been playing some normal draft games and practicing some team compositions and we've even considered starting a ranked team once 5 of us hit 30 (4 of us are at 30 and we have two other friends in their mid-20s).

I'm especially excited for the increased gold supports and junglers are going to get as that means I can buy things other than wards!  I am not looking forward to vision being everyone's job as people are going to take a while to adjust to that and if I can only place 4 wards total (3 greens + 1 pink) the amount of vision I can give my team is going to be very limited compared to Season 3.

Can I hit gold in Season 4?  I hope so and if not I will definitely be a better player throughout this next season.

Monday, November 18, 2013

MTG - Wx Aggro in my Cube

This was perhaps the hardest archetype to try and include in my cube.  Mostly because Wx aggro decks tend to be composed of a bunch of small creatures and these small creatures tend not to be that cool looking at first glance.  Think of say Elite Vanguard vs a dragon like Moltensteel Dragon.  One card is a vanilla 2/1 creature while the other is a 4/4 flying fire-breathing monstrosity.  For a newish player, who isn't familiar with all the MTG archetypes, the choice tends to lean towards the dragon.

So a good majority of the good aggro cards would not get picked up because my cube contained a lot of dragons and other large creatures.  That's partly my fault though as my first cube incarnation was very Timmy focused.  I've since moved away from that and have started to put some more support for fast aggro.

With that said, my cube can support Wx aggro quite easily now I think.  There are a number of fairly efficient white creatures like
and a lot of support cards like
Many of the white creatures also come packed with Heroic abilities so auras and combat tricks are doubly effective.  With that as your core you just need to fill it out with either more white creatures or pair it up with another colour.

I don't think there is a best partner as each colour provides a unique quality to the aggro deck but here are few cards I would look for in each of the possible colour pairings with white.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

MTG - Tokens in my Cube

Tokens decks I've found are always fun decks to play.  Making a huge horde of creatures and then just overrunning your opponent always appealed to me so I made a concerted effort to include enough token generators and token helpers to make Tokens a viable archetype in my cube.

To start, you'd need token generators like the following.

With cards like that it provides a good base of token creatures as well as some support (the Splicers bonus abilities make the golem tokens better and Captain of the Watch makes the soldiers better).

To make the deck better it needs some good support cards.  Usually things that globally pump creatures or make more tokens.  Once the core token producer cards have been taken, support cards like the following are drafted next
This gives the deck a lot of punch as the Spear of HeliodPhantom General and Collective Blessing make each token scarier.  Those 1/1 birds suddenly don't look so tiny with pump effects like that in play.

At some point though you need something to bust through so a few finisher cards are necessary.  That's part of the reason to grab a card like Victory's Herald that can make all your tokens flying.  Similarly a card like Predatory Rampage can be enough to force through enough tokens for the kill.

This archetype is fairly obvious but for some reason no one but me seems to draft it whenever we draft the cube.  Tokens is a lot of fun and if allowed to grow their army, hard to stop.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Warhammer - New Tournament Format?

I'm in the final stages of preparing for this years Orktoberfest and it just dawned on me that I really ought to change the format.  Not so much in the actual rules of the game, but in how people select their army lists.

Currently (and in previous years) I opted for a fairly large points value for the area (2500 points for Warhammer Fantasy and 2000 points for Warhammer 40k prior to the double FOC rule).  That might have limited the number of people who wanted to participate as a lot of them thought it was a bad thing to have so many points.n

One of the chief arguments was that making army lists was a no-brainer as you could take anything you wanted.  I never saw this as a bad thing because it meant that you had an answer to whatever anyone brought and it was up to you to deploy that answer in the proper way.  Most people in the area prefer smaller points values (around 1500) so they have to think carefully what they put in their list.  Most arguments against this points value (and I agree with these people) is that the smaller points values tend to favor certain armies/lists and if you aren't prepared for it, those lists just steam roller you.

A good example of this was the dual-lash chaos list from a few years back.  At 1500 points it was nigh-impossible to beat if someone wasn't prepared for it.  Similarly triple raider lists at that points values were hard to deal with unless you specifically tailored your list to fight it.  Now if you aren't prepared for that kind of game, those lists would just steam roller everyone at a tournament.

So to solve this problem, for next year's event I might opt for a smaller points value with 2 flexible detachments.  For example in Warhammer 40k I would play 1500 point games with a 1000 point core detachment and a 500 point flexible detachment.  The core detachment would contain the required 1 HQ and 2 Troops and then the player would have 2 flexible detachments of 500 points.  The idea being that you would have the option to switch your flexible detachment based on your opponent.  So maybe one flexible detachment would contain lots of melta/plasma to combat monstrous creature spam while the other contained massed templates to fight hordes.

I'd have to figure out away of how the players choose which detachment to use against each other without giving either player a huge advantage.  Like using an anti-monstrous creature detachment against a Tyranid player only to have them switch all their monstrous creatures out for hordes.  Might have to tie it in to the deployment roll (i.e. player who deploys first chooses his detachment first) or the player's placement in the tournament (i.e. player who has a higher ranking in the competition chooses his detachment first).  Alternatively it could just be blind pick and both players reveal their choice prior to deployment.  Could create a Sicilian argument which could be fun.

Doing it this way is similar to how Warmahordes tournament players have two lists or how Magic: The Gathering tournament decks have sideboards.  This would allow people to fight against cheese lists with their own list and will make list building more involved as opposed to just cramming as many monstrous creatures into 1500 points as possible (or in my case Terminators).  I haven't read of any other Warhammer tournament that does this but I've been out of the loop as far as checking on the big events goes.

One of the sponsors to Orktoberfest is wanting to put on some smaller in-store events so I might try to convince him to let me run this style of tournament for one or more of those events as a test run for next year.

Monday, October 7, 2013

MTG - Bx Reanimator in my cube

Second deck I wanted to focus on was my attempt to incorporate a reanimator deck.

So the basic idea for a reanimator deck is to dump giant creatures into the graveyard and cheat them out with spells.  To facilitate this you need cards like:

These cards help you dig through your deck for the pieces or chuck the giant creatures into the graveyard or both.

The follow up to chucking big things into your graveyard are some reanimator spells like:
These will bring things back from the dead and generally faster than hard casting them.

So what makes a good reanimator target?  Well basically anything that is big and bomby.  Some of the better ones in my cube are:
These creatures are all from different colours so reanimator decks tend to be  at least 2 colours and most likely 3 and maybe even 4.  Some of the better combinations are Black/Blue cause blue gives you lots of card draw and some large creatures as well as the most options of throwing stuff into your graveyard.  Black/White gives you lots of reanimation options and lots of good early stuff to keep you alive.  It does lack in ways to dump stuff into the graveyard though.  Black/Green gives you ways to abuse your graveyard even more.  Cards like Jarad's Orders, Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord, Varolz, the Scar-Striped and the scavenge creatures provide more things to do with the stuff in your graveyard in addition to reanimation.  Not to mention green provides a lot of mana fixing so you can easily go 3 or 4 colour reanimator.

The biggest drawback to a deck like this is that the early game tends to be slow and there is a great danger to just flat out dying before you can get the deck going.  This makes removal spells and resilient creatures a high priority.

This deck is not an obvious choice to make but it's quite fun cheating out giant creatures and smashing face.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Warhammer 40k - My Deathwing assault again!

Excuse the pun but I finally broke out my Deathwing for a game last night against an old hobby friend.  I need to get as much practice as I can for Orktoberfest 2013.  Not because I'm playing but because I need to be up on the rules more than the players.  Being the organizer I am also the rules lawyer and dispute mediator among the competitors.

Anyways, I was playing 1000 points (mostly because all the big tables were being used at the place we played at and we got stuck with a smaller table) with the following list:
  • Belial - Sword of Secrets, Storm Bolter
  • 5 man Deathwing Squad - Assault Cannon, 1 Thunder Hammer & Storm Shield, 1 pair of Lightning Claws, 1 Chainfist
  • 5 man Deathwing Squad - Cyclone Missile launcher, 1 Thunder Hammer & Storm Shield, 1 Chainfist
  • 3 man Ravenwing Attack Squadron - 2 meltaguns, Attack Bike with multi-melta
  • Ravenwing Land Speeder - Typhoon Missile Launcher, Heavy Bolter
  • Ravenwing Land Speeder - Typhoon Missile Launcher, Heavy Flamer
My opponent brought out his Tyranids and had the following list
  • Swarmlord - 4 biomancy powers (Endurance, Quickening, Hemorrhage and Life Leech)
  • 2 Tyrant Guard
  • 3 Hive Guard
  • 30 Hormagaunts
  • 30 Termagants in a mycetic spore with the dual shot S4 guns.
I had a big advantage on the table as I a was able to score the deployment zone that had a clear view of a large open field in the centre of the table and I had him deploy first.  The quickest way to get to my forces was through the open field and I was able to just blast his big guys away with the krak missiles and clean up the bugs with my bolters.  If he opted to go through the cover it would have taken longer I think and even with his termagant spore attack, the Deathwing terminator armor just shrugged it off.  Admittedly, I find Deathwing armies to be rather overpowered in small point matches.

Going to try and get some more games in before the event.  Despite not buying any Games Workshop related items, pushing around their army men is still fun.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

MTG - UR Izzet Blitz in my Main Cube

When I updated my cube I made a more conscious effort to include specific archetypes in the cube.  Before the update there weren't many archetypes that saw play.  I think I saw tokens (which I almost always played as those cards always got passed), mono-red burn (only because one player would always force this) and mill the most often.  Everyone else kind of just had a hodgepodge mix of whatever they could draft.  All good, but no real synergy.

With this latest update I've hopefully added more archetypes into my cube so everyone can have a decent deck to play with rather than a hodgepodge of spells.

The first archetype I wanted to focus on was the UR Izzet Blitz deck that is possible.  Alternatively this could be called the Spells Matter archetype (or the Kiln Fiend deck as Kiln Fiend kind of popularized this style of play a few years back as well as on the MTGO Pauper scene) as it depends on getting enough instant and sorcery spells to power the creatures that kind of depend on it.

The main idea behind this deck is to draft the following creatures (hopefully most, if not all of them):
and then enough instant and sorcery cards to support them.

I figured flashback and rebound cards would be useful as they are effectively two for one spells and they can activate the creatures abilities twice.  So you would want spells like:
After that, the rest of the deck should be filled with more bounce, counters and removal and maybe some cards that recycle spells like Archaeomancer or Mnemonic Wall.

The basic plan then is you want to clear the way for your creature(s) with spells (which incidentally makes your creatures bigger), then attack and burst your opponent down with your big creatures.
If that fails, you can hope to draw into a big finisher like an overloaded Dragonshift or Teleportal or just constantly ping them to death with a Guttersnipe or Fire Servant fueled burn spells.

This archetype isn't as obvious though for new players so it might not see play but I think it would be fun and I will probably try to force it next time my group plays just to see if it will work.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

MTG - Main Cube Update

The Theros pre-release and release weekends came and went and I managed to pick up a bunch of new cards.  Got lucky in my pre-release and got XenagosErebos, a FOIL Steam Augury and I managed to go 3-1 to get a few more packs.  My streak of breaking even continues (ever since Mirrodin Besieged I've broken even or been in the plus at every event release I attended).

With the new cards in hand I proceeded to update my main cube.  I ended up updating my noob cube as well but I'll write about that later.

One of the first things I decided to do was remove some of the more powerful token cards in my cube.  It was becoming quite evident that if you drafted tokens in my cube, you pretty much won.  The constant stream of two creatures for one spell that could be had was just insane.  At the time it would be something like Intangible Virtue into Attended Knight into Master Splicer into Sensor Splicer into Courser's Accord/Collective Blessing/Captain of the Watch.  Other times it would just be a constant stream of creatures from Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage or Trostani, Selesnya's Voice and yeah, if you didn't draft one of the sweepers you were kinda dead.  So I removed some of the cards that made the tokens crazy like Intangible Virtue and I added a few more sweepers like Divine Reckoning and Rolling Temblor.  I have a Crater Hellion and Winds of Rath in my consideration pile so I might try to fit them in if token swarming still seems too overpowered.

I also removed all the infect cards as I felt that mechanic was too narrow.  Basically there was nothing I could add to that archetype from new sets as the Infect mechanic has only appeared in one block and probably won't appear for a while.  In it's place I've tried to incorporate a different theme for BG, namely that of abusing +1/+1 counters with scavenge cards, Corpsejack Menace and evolve cards.  Removing Infect also allowed me to add some more aggro cards so Bx or Gx aggro should be better supported and I've also been able to add some more green and black fatties (like Nessian Asp and Bloodgift Demon) so those colours have more finishers.  Black, especially, I felt was underplayed in my cube and maybe by adding some better black cards it would see more play.  If I had gotten some of the double black Theros cards I might have tried to push a mono-black devotion deck so I might look for things like Grey Merchant or Abhorrent Overlord in the future.

Anyways, here is my new updated list which I hope to draft with soon.

There are a few archetypes/decklists that I am trying to push but it might not be totally obvious to some so I will write about those decks at another time (hopefully in the near future).

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Summer is over and new school year

So over the summer I decided to make a gaming to do list which I will put up here again with the status of their completion.
  • Finish painting my Deathwing squads.  I think I have two and a half squads to finish.
    • Only got around to priming them.  Never got into the mood to paint or play as GWs whole pricing structure just put me off the entire hobby.  I don't understand how they are still in business given the price of their kits but I guess there are enough fans who want the latest models.  To be fair I really like their new models (the Riptide is really cool) but I've got better things to spend my money on that don't feel as much of a waste but probably are just as much of a waste, but at least it doesn't feel as big of a waste.
  • Get the Road to Orktoberfest 2013 League running and hopefully smoothly.
    • Not enough interest in 40k so this never really got off the ground.  Again this was mostly due to how I felt about GW so I had no drive to try and get this off the ground.
  • Get all the Orktoberfest 2013 details finished.  The sooner the better so I can advertise it to the local gamers. - completed 8-2-2013
  • Finish LA Noire
    • Bought Dead Space through the amazing Humble Bundle deal and played that instead.
  • Complete my MTG Noob Cube - completed 7-7-2013
  • Rebuild my old desktop into a mediocre gaming PC
    • Couldn't set aside any money for this but I did get a new laptop from work so that tided me over as far as new technology is concerned.  I still want to build a mediocre gaming PC as laptop gaming just isn't that great (my personal laptop is in its 3rd year of service and the work laptop isn't meant for gaming)
  • Continue my Outlaw Shizzle D&D Campaign
    • A few key members of the group moved away and we all decided to just play online games instead.  Might try to find new blood though as RPGs are still really fun (and way cheaper than GW games)
  • Get to Gold division in League of Legends
    • Harder than I thought.  I think I may have screwed up my climb as I went on tilt one week and had a massive losing streak (something like 15 losses over 20 games) so my MMR is fairly low.  Lately I've gotten better and over the past month I've been winning more than losing so I may yet be able to hit Gold before Season 3 ends.  If not, there's always Season 4.
  • Finish one of the Imperial story lines in Star Wars: The Old Republic
    • Sadly only got to the end of Chapter 1 on my Bounty Hunter.  Still, being free to play I'm not too concerned about my progress.  A friend wanted to start a commando so we all rolled new Republic characters as well.
So my progress on my to-do list was really poor but I did have other things outside of gaming to attend to.  My daughter (2 years old) can now recognize famous space ships (the USS Enterprise, X-Wings, etc.) and has a vested interest in a lot of fantasy stuff (sword fighting) so maybe next summer she can actually help me with some of my gaming related stuff.

For now, I've rekindled my interest in MTG with the Theros release and I'm going to stir up more interest in 40k for Orktoberfest 2013.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

MTG - Noob Cube complete

One of my summer to do list tasks is complete.  I've completed a cube for MTG designed for newer players.  The cards are all fairly straight forward with not a lot of complex interactions.  No super complex combos, only evergreen abilities and a focus on creatures and creature interactions.  Now just need to find some new MTG players to test it on.

For those curious the complete list is here.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

General Gaming - Summer To Do List

Woooo!  School is done for another year so I have a few weeks to relax a bit.  So between doing my normal house duties and dad duties I've got some gaming related things I want to complete this summer.  Hopefully I can incorporate my dad duties into some of them so that Penny can be exposed to the gamer side of the family and appreciate the little army men I play with.

In no particular order, here's what I want to accomplish:
  • Finish painting my Deathwing squads.  I think I have two and a half squads to finish.
  • Get the Road to Orktoberfest 2013 League running and hopefully smoothly.
  • Get all the Orktoberfest 2013 details finished.  The sooner the better so I can advertise it to the local gamers. - completed 8-2-2013
  • Finish LA Noire
  • Complete my MTG Noob Cube - completed 7-7-2013
  • Rebuild my old desktop into a mediocre gaming PC
  • Continue my Outlaw Shizzle D&D Campaign
  • Get to Gold division in League of Legends
  • Finish one of the Imperial story lines in Star Wars: The Old Republic
I might add to the list, but I don't want to get too far ahead of myself.  Hopefully I will be able to do all of those during this summer and hopefully Penny can assist with some of it and maybe learn a thing or two.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My Gamer Bibliography

On the drive to work one morning I had some time to think about being a gamer.  It amazed me at how long I have been playing and the types of games I have played in my time as a gamer so much that I tried to chronicle when I started gaming and what I played throughout the years of my life.  I came up with the following list.  The list is by no means complete nor accurate but gives a sense of what I have been playing all these years.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

League of Legends - Duo-Queuing

As I mentioned in an earlier post (Grouping Up) my friends and I started grouping up in League of Legends so we could avoid some of the toxic behaviour from grouping up with random people.  As a result I've been duo-queuing with our Blitzcrank player a lot.  Mostly in an effort to get him up to lv30 and maybe we can start duo-queuing ranked games or something.  At the very least our group will be completely lv30 so everyone should be on a level playing field.

Due to LoL's matchmaking mechanics it is sometimes awkward when I play with my lv30 account and he's only lv10.  Pairs us up with a bunch of 20s who are way more skilled than he is.  So I made a second account to level with him.  However because he plays Blitzcrank support almost exclusively (he does a good job at it), I've been playing ADC a lot.  I normally jungle when I solo-queue but there's not much to coordinate between jungle and support during laning.  Not a total loss though as it has improved my last-hitting skills and positioning skills and if someone else jungles when I solo-queue I will have another role I am decent at.

My ranked play has been really good lately.  I'm currently on a 4 game winning streak for ranked games and I'm only 25 league points from my next promotion series (promo from Silver V to Silver IV).  Haven't been grinding as much as I used to but work has gotten in the way lately.  End of semester is coming up so lots of last minute marking and catching up of marking because of students panicking.  If only they just did the work when asked.  Once this friday hits, no more assignments will be accepted as that is the end of the semester.  Which means more hobby time!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Video Games - Things I Bought with Diablo 3

I bought Diablo 3 about a year ago not because it's a good game, but more of an economic experiment.  The real money auction house (RMAH) intrigued me as it was the only game at the time (and I think still is the only the game) that allows people to sell their loot to other people for real money without having to go through a third party like eBay.

I wanted to see if I could make an appreciable amount of money by playing the game whether through actual grinding of content or auction house flipping.  To start things off I bought the game using money from selling a bunch of MTGO tickets.  For those who don't play MTGO, tickets are sort of an unofficial in-game currency.  You normally obtain them by buying them from the MTGO store but if you speculate on card values well, you can actually gain tickets which I did rather successfully (an aside, when I figured this out I financed an entire year's worth of drafts and online release tournaments with an initial investment of something like $20).

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Warhamer 40k - New Deathwing models

I managed to find some time to start putting some new Deathwing models together (from the box my sister sent me a few weeks ago).  I have to say that the box was quite impressive considering all the parts and weapons and stuff on the sprue.  Here's a preview pic of what I did.

Sadly I still don't think the box is worth the price tag GW is asking (no disrespect to my sister, it was a very thoughtful gift and I will enjoy it immensely).  The hobby has really become a luxury that I definately cannot afford on a regular basis.  Thankfully I have a large 40k army already so I won't need to actually buy anything for years to come (when they make Deathwing terminators 15 points a piece, then maybe I will need to buy more).

Friday, May 3, 2013

League of Legends - Grouping Up

League is getting fun again.  After a few days of struggling to climb Silver V and getting nowhere, I decided to stop playing ranked and try something else.  As I mentioned in my last League of Legends post, I convinced my friends to get futuristic skins/champions and we could all play as a themed team.  It was quite fun and we managed a few wins against some random folk.  No ranked play as only two of us have lv30 accounts (our midlaner is almost 30 but our top laner and support are only 15 and 8 respectively).

Our current set up is (our summoner names in brackets)
Mind you if we're not all together we just play whatever.  I've gotten really good at playing Miss Fortune, especially when paired up with our iBlitzcrank support.  Those rocket grabs and power fist knock ups give me so much time to just unleash Miss Fortune's abilities on to the poor unfortunate soul.  Of course almost any ADC will work well with Blitzcrank's style of support.  Salcomine plays a lot of Malphite which works really well with my junglers (usually Xin or Jarvan) so we have some awesome initiates which are devastating if our team capitalizes.

Did I stop my attempt to get to Gold division?  Hardly, I just don't grind ranked games anymore.  I've taken to playing one ranked game every day or every other day.  So far it's been working great and I'm on a win streak (finally!).  Still in Silver V but slowly earning league points and about half way to the promotion series.  In the meanwhile I've taken to playing ARAM games.

I'm very glad that ARAM queues got implemented too as it gives me something to do in between ranked games that's kind of relaxing.  It's strangely satisfying to roll a totally random champion and then just fight the other team.  No jungle to worry about, no ganks to worry about, just fighting.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Warhammer 40k - Deathwing Terminators & Orktoberfest 2013

So my birthday came and went and I got a pleasant surprise from my sister (who happens to live on the other side of the country).  She was kind enough to send a box of Deathwing Terminators in her care package to our parents (who live in the same city as me) and I picked it up while having dinner at their place.

Haven't quite gotten a chance to open it up and start building but quite excited as I've been wanting them for a while now but between the price and GW's business practices have been totally put off.  Getting the box was also great as I had just gotten into talks with the folks who run NPC-Con and we decided to run both NPC-Con 2013 and Orktoberfest 2013 at the same venue.  This does a bunch of things for both parties.  We can share the cost of the venue, share sponsors and share players.  Win-win for everyone involved.  The only thing is I might have to cap the participants for Orktoberfest due to space limitations but that's ok as I've never hit the maximum of 32 in the past 3 years.  Always around 20-24 which is just right for the venue that NPC-Con is using.

Unfortunately though, with GW's recent behaviour towards Faeit212 and BoLS, not sure if I want to promote 40k as the system for Orktoberfest 2013.  Seriously considering switching to Warmachine/Hordes as there are a lot of those players in northern BC.  The only thing stopping me is that I don't play that system and I don't want to shell out a bunch of money to start playing that system.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

League of Legends - Adventures in Silver Division V

A few weeks back I started my trek into League of Legends ranked play and I have to say it's been quite an up and down ride.  Getting out of Bronze Division I was easy enough (only took 15 games I think?) but I'm having a hell of a time climbing Silver Division V.  Currently I've played some 20+ games in the new division and I haven't gotten anywhere.  Seems like I win one or two games but then lose 3 or 4 right after.

What bugs me is that the opponents I'm facing are no different than those I faced in Bronze Division I and I had a way easier time against them when I was in Bronze Division I.  Even more frustrating is that I haven't really run into a lot of ragers/afkers/toxic folk so the games are actually decent (except for the losing part).  One thing I did consider is that I'm not playing my favourite/best role as a jungler in a lot of my recent games.  Getting used to a new role takes a bit of learning and my first few games as an ADC (attack damage carry) was not the greatest.  I'm getting better though especially after I decided to practice some of the basic skills (like last-hitting and positioning) in normal games.

Gonna try and rank up some more and hope to hit Gold by the end of Season 3 (I want that shiny gold name plate!).  In between ranked games though I've been playing with my friends in duo or trio queues.  One of them picked up Blitzcrank and the cool iBlitzcrank skin and I got the brilliant idea to convince everyone to get a champion with a cool futuristic/mechanical/space like skin.  Each of us thankfully has a favourite role so it just came down to finding a champ that fit each role.  As such our proposed team is going to be composed of the following champions
We've yet to actually all get together as a full team but it's quite fun even duo-queueing with themed skins.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Outlaw Shizzle - The Story so far (episodes 4-6 recap)

Been a bit behind with the story of Outlaw Shizzle.  Lots of stuff going so what I present here is just a quick recap of what occured in the last 3 episodes.

Episode 4 - The Fall of the Fox
The group manages to fight their way through the Fox's undead minions and his magical traps and eventually confront the Fox in his lair.  A vicious fight ensues with the elite undead guards of the Fox and the Fox himself.  The adventurers use every technique in their arsenal and manage to bring the Fox down.
Looting his lair, they learn that the Rage's family has been sending food stuffs and other supplies to the denizens of the Northern Reaches, a mountain chain east and north of Babel Gilga.  In return, necromantic reagents are being smuggled into the city.

Monday, March 25, 2013

League of Legends - Ranking up

With the price increases by GW and the general lack of anyone playing Warhammer in the area (either fantasy or 40k) I've been spending more and more of my free time playing League of Legends.  I've even started watching some of the more prominant streamers as I want to improve my game play.  That last bit baffled my wife as she didn't quite understand why I would want to watch someone else play.  At which point I told her it's just like a sport (the only real difference is LoL is played on a computer and most other sports are played in a larger arena).  To be honest, after watching some of this weekend's European LCS, you'll think League of Legends was a major sporting event.

Anyways, the most interesting aspect I find about competitive LoL is their impressive ranked play system which I never did participate in when it was first introduced about 3 years ago.  Since I'm currently on my spring break it was only natural I spend some time gaming and I managed to grind out enough in-game points to get enough champions so I could start playing ranked matches.

Oddly enough ranked matches are really no different than normal matches and I actually really like the draft format of the ranked matches (reminds me of drafting MTG which I don't do enough of either).  After my 10 placement matches I managed to land in Tier 1 of the Bronze Division which in layman's terms is basically the best of newly ranked players (see my profile here).  Will I play enough to get higher?  I dunno, but I do want to try and hit Gold division (at that point I think my nameplate becomes a cool golden colour).

So begins my journey through all the ragers, haters, leavers, afkers and feeders to try and reach Gold division.  For anyone interested my summoner name is Deathwing40k and I like to jungle (though I have played every role now and it has dawned on me that I need to get a few champions for each role)

Monday, March 11, 2013

League of Legends - Returning to the League

So as mentioned in my last post, I have recently gotten back into League of Legends (otherwise known as LoL).  Not entirely sure how or why to be honest.  One of my friends just asked if I played and I said yes and he invited me to a game.  I kinda felt bad though as I have a lv30 account and he just started so the skill disparity was quite obvious (even if I had not played in about two years I stopped just before season 1 started).

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Outlaw Shizzle - Episode 3 - How they found the Fox

Alright, so it's been a while since I wrote about Outlaw Shizzle mostly because it's been a while since we all got together.  To give an idea of our group, we're all old gamers around our 30s (maybe not as old as some gamers and definately not as young as some) so we've got obligations outside of gaming.  Being a teacher, I tend to have a bunch of stuff to mark or plan (and this planning isn't about what monster or insane dungeon to throw at the party) so some weekends just don't work for me.  Others in the group have out of town jobs or kids or work late or whatever.

We're all still gamers at heart so we try to get together as often as our schedule permits to game out.  If we can't get together, well there's a lot of online games we play (lately the group has been playing a lot of League of Legends).  Speaking of League of Legends (or LoL as it's come to be known as), I've been playing the game since it got out of beta off and on and I am amazed at how popular it has become as well as the plethora of champions available (I remember when Udyr, the first non-beta champion, came out). Currently I've been playing as a jungler with Xin Zhao or Jarvan IV mostly because of their way awesome Warring Kingdoms skins.

Anyways on to a recap of Outlaw Shizzle Episode 3 - How they found the Fox.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Outlaw Shizzle - Episode 2 - How they got the Silver

This week's adventure was interesting considering the last adventure kind of ended on a sour note with the Fox getting the better of the group.  It was the first time I think I ended a session where the PCs thought they had the victory but it turned out it was what the villain wanted.

When last we left Outlaw Shizzle they had finished burning down The Red Herron in the southern district of Babel Gilga.  However, from the ashes of the burning tavern the group saw the dead patrons rising up from the inferno as zombies with the Fox taunting them in the background.

Now the group had not only the Fox to deal with, but a newly arisen army of the dead....

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Sometimes I HATE Games Workshop

The Dark Angels up for advance order on the Games Workshop page and with it the realization that I will probably no longer support the company that produces them with the same gusto as I have before.  Now I won't go out and say that I won't buy any of their overpriced goods (those Deathwing models are too awesome looking to not buy at least one box, just not sure when) but their prices have really driven me to consider where I spend my hobby money a lot more carefully.

When I was in high school my mom always said that my money was spent long before I actually earn it (and back in those days any money I made was hobby money) and even now after being married for almost a decade my wife says the same thing (and even though I make more money now than in high school, my disposable hobby money is about the same if not slightly higher due to other expenses).  One of the worst parts of being older is that my hobby time is a lot more valuable and as such my hobby money too.  I can't just spend it willy-nilly on a $70 box set of 5 figures when I could put that money to good use elsewhere for a lot more value.

Friday, January 4, 2013

My MTG Cube Archetypes

This holiday season saw me run my cube a few times for my gaming friends and they seemed to enjoy it quite a bit.  Most of them have played Magic: The Gathering before but it's been years since many of them picked up a deck so for all intents and purposes they are pretty new.  Regardless of the MTG experience at the table, everyone seemed to have a great time and due to the nature of the cube, everyone had playable cards to make a decent deck.

For reference my cube list is here.

From what I observed in the sealed deck flights and drafts that I ran the following decks were quite common: