Sunday, November 16, 2014

Video Games - Adventures in Disney Infinity 2.0

My wife has the fortune of working for a company that was kind enough to reimburse her for some of the cost of completing her registered pharmacy technician program.  Most of the money ended up going into savings but she decided to set aside a chunk of it as some fun money to sort of reward herself and her family for putting up with her horrid schedule while she was studying, working and being a mom.

She bought herself some dishes as we needed new ones and the rest of the money went into an Xbox One, some accessories and games.  One of those happened to be the new Disney Infinity 2.0. I had written about my experiences with Disney Infinity 1.0 on the Wii earlier this year and I was looking forward to see what the new version could do, especially on the more powerful Xbox One.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

League of Legends - Quest for Gold Division still ongoing...

Season 4 is almost over and unfortunately no luck in getting to Gold division.  That's ok though I'm still happy with where I got to (Silver 2, and almost Silver 1 mid-season, sadly dropped back to Silver 4 late in the season) and I'll try again once Season 5 starts up.  Starting to realize that what separates me from Gold is that I just don't play enough games of League.

I think my mechanical skill with the champions I play is good but I don't understand all the match-ups that well.  Match-up knowledge is really only gained through a large number of games played.  For example I play Jarvan IV a lot so my skill with his kit is pretty good.  I know his limits and when I can and cannot start a fight or when I can dive and survive.  But I don't know his lane match-ups well enough to dominate my lane when I play him top or who/when to gank for my laners as I don't know some of their matchups that well either.  I can get a general feel like who has an escape, who has CC, whose lane is pushing, where will the enemy jungler be, etc. but little things like when does a certain champ hit their power spike still escape me especially if I am unfamiliar playing with or against the champion.

So for next season, I think I will just focus on my three best champions, Leona, Jarvan IV and Thresh.  Since I already know their kits well, I can focus on understanding the match-ups in the game and hopefully get to Gold in season 5.  I still need to find a mid-laner though and an ADC that I can play comfortably so that in those odd cases I get stuck with that role I don't feed and can at least go even in lane.

On an unrelated note, I think I'll start streaming my game nights as some pretty cool/funny things happen.  I almost got a hexakill in my last game night (with Yasuo no less) but wasn't streaming/recording it so lost that moment.  Similarly there were some funny moments when my friends and I were playing co-op Interstellar Marines against the freaky robots.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

MTG - Khans of Tarkir Cube Update 1

Another big update with the release of Khans of Tarkir.  My previous cube post had my thoughts on what I was planning on adding and I pretty much stuck to it with a few minor deviations.  I also took the opportunity to add a few things from Conspiracy and a few other sets.

Of the mechanics in Khans I added three (really only two because I only added one card)

  • Outlast - Mostly added this because a few of the outlast creatures gave creatures with +1/+1 counters extra abilities.  I have a lot of ways to give creatures +1/+1 counters so these creatures would benefit those decks a lot.  The actual Outlast ability was secondary.  
  • Ferocious - Works well as there are a lot of 4 power creatures in the cube or ways to get 4 power creatures.
  • Prowess - Only added one card with this ability, Monastery Swiftspear, as it plays well with the Izzet Blitz archetype I have present.  Blue has no cheap Prowess creatures and I don't really think going Jeskai Blitz would work well in limited (white has a few cheap Prowess creatures).  Admittedly there is a lot more fixing in my cube so it could work.  Something to think about in the future.
On to the actual update!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

MTG - Khans of Tarkir First Impressions for my Cube

Fetch lands!  This alone makes the set exciting.  Then more mana fixing in the form of the wedge lands, and then more mana fixing in the form of the paired coloured lands.  I'm going to have to do a lot of thinking as to what I'm going to take out and add in terms of land.  And the whole set isn't even released or fully spoiled yet!

Anyways on to a more organized breakdown of how this set will impact my cube.

Friday, August 22, 2014

D&D - 5th Edition Reboot part 1

As part of my vacation I visited my sister in Ottawa to see what our nation's capital had to offer.  A strange coincidence was that Wizard's Tower also happened to be in Ottawa (which I totally did not know despite having subscribed to their email mailing list for a few months).  I found a way to get myself there and to my surprise they had the D&D Next Player's Handbook available (it wasn't supposed to be until a week or so later) so I picked it up.  I spent a few evenings reading over the rules and the new character options and was quite impressed.  It was the first D&D book I had purchased since I think 2nd edition AD&D.

With the Player's Handbook in hand I proceeded to round up the group and decided to roll up new characters for a new adventure.  So far the party has a Tiefling Warlock and a Dragonborn Paladin and both players sort of half-rolled half-picked their background which I'll describe a little later.  One of my favourite features of the new handbook are the pre-built backgrounds which really helped my players generate a background for their characters.  That's one aspect of RPG games that we often overlook as a group and with a bunch of them already presented it's not hard to find one that you like and roll or pick the details from the tables provided.  Absolutely great in my opinion.

Now on to the two characters so far! (no names yet though)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Video Games - XCOM Ironman mode

The 2K Games Humble Bundle came and went and I made the decision to purchase it for the $20 price so I could get X-COM: Enemy Unknown.  I got a bunch of there top notch games as well (the entire Bioshock Series, more X-COM games and Spec Ops: The Line) and most of the money I donated to charity so in my opinion a very well spent $20.

Anyways, I've never played any X-COM games before but I read about the Ironman mode and it intrigued me.  Basically you can't reload your saves and the game saves basically after every decision you make, whether it is buying a new gun or moving a soldier on the battlefield.  Also since soldier death is permanent, you can't reload your save to try a new strategy.  Very reminiscent of old games where you had a limited number of lives and continues to go over a level.  The game has a warning that you should not attempt Ironman mode if you are new but I did anyways as I fancy myself as a decent strategy game player and I wanted a more difficult challenge considering most newer games give you an infinite number of retries to do something right (see Assassin's Creed 3 or the Arkham games that I've been playing recently).

The first few maps were quite interesting as I did not get the tactical strategy quite right and I ended up positioning very poorly so lost quite a few rookies and later some of my higher ranking officers (though I swear it was just unlucky crits that got those officers).  As my troops died I found myself getting more attached to the ones that did survive because I did not want to train a whole new one (it takes a lot of missions and kills to get a high ranking officer especially if they get injured).  When I started giving them my own nicknames (soldiers get nicknames once they hit Sergeant rank) it really made me want to ensure they survived each mission.  Not that I cry over every death, but it does hurt a little when one of my soldiers dies because I ran him/her out a little too far or forgot a muton was on overwatch or something equally silly.

I managed to keep one of my soldiers from the first tutorial mission alive (of the 4 that are deployed only one of them survives) over the past 11 hours of game play and if I lose him that would be quite sad.  Not only because he is the highest ranking officer I have but also because he's been with me since the beginning.  Still slogging through the campaign and I've no idea how far I am in but I'm hoping this soldier makes it until the end (I think I get an achievement for it).

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

League of Legends - Get fit with League (inspired by #GetFitWithSnoopeh)

Let's start by showing this video.

Snoopeh has been a big reason as to why I have started to be a little more active this past year or so.  Shows that not all gamers are fat slobs who live in their mothers basement (see here).  Fun to incorporate a little exercise after a game or two of League and has had a lot of positive impact on my overall health as well as how my day starts.  Unfortunately I have not been consistent with physical activity since the teacher strike as I've had other things to worry about.  But now that it's summer I can choose not to worry about job related stuff until at least late August.

This coming school year I am going to be a Physical Education (PE) teacher for at least 2 blocks out of the 7 that I teach in the school year.  This came about mostly because that's what was available if I wanted a classroom.  I had spent this past year as a distance education teacher (really I just marked assignments for the whole year and did not interact much at all with students) and I really wanted back in a classroom.  None of the science teachers at the high school were going anywhere but the senior math teacher retired and for some bizarre reason a bunch of junior PE classes were left over so they mashed the classes into a bizarre senior math/junior PE position which I ended up getting.  Strange, I know, considering there were a few junior math classes that ended up being rolled into a social studies position.

Regardless I've got 2 PE classes to teach and I would be a bad example for the kids if I wasn't in good shape myself.  Unfortunately I'm not the most active of people and have relied on my naturally high metabolism to keep me relatively thin.  At first glance you wouldn't think I'm unfit but any amount of strenuous physical activity tuckers me out quickly.  With this in mind and the fact that I want to be able to at least keep with my future PE students, I will do my best to get fit over the summer.

As a result I've devised a series of exercises to do before and after each game of League of Legends.  Why before and after each game of League?  Mostly because I have been playing League consistently every day in the morning for the past year or so (became my morning routine on my quest to get Gold last year as I couldn't play any other time because of family and I don't play ranked with my friends on our gaming nights).  This habit just carried over into the summer.

Before game
Queue Wait time and Champion select - Wall sit until game queued, then wall sit for duration of your champion select (not the whole champion select unless you really want to work your quads)
Game load - Jumping Jacks until game loads or a set time passes like 45 seconds or 1 minute (if a player has a toaster you could be doing jumping jacks for a long time, which isn't necessarily a bad thing)

After game - Take a rest of about 10-15 seconds after each set.
Kills = # of Pushups, x3 if below 10, x2 if below 15.
Assists = # of Russian Twists, x3 if below 10, x2 if below 15.
Deaths = # of Squats, x3 if below 10, x2 if below 15.
Kills + Assists = # of Triceps dip, x3 if below 10, x2 if below 15.
Kills + Deaths + Assists = Plank for equal number of seconds, x2 if below 30
Kills + Deaths = # of Burpees (currently without a jump or push-up)

The order is designed to work different muscle groups and the amount of each can be adjusted to your level of fitness.  The multipliers are there to ensure I actually do enough of each exercise to have some appreciable effect.  None of the exercises require any special equipment, though the triceps dip does require a non-spinning chair or something similar and the Russian twist should be done with a weight of some sort like a text book.

Let's hope I can keep up with this routine as from what I've read, consistency is key when trying to get into shape (an adjustment in diet helps as well).  6 weeks before school starts, let's get fit!

EDIT: I failed to mention that if you attempt this, you probably should not do the After Game routine every day.  The muscles you work need a day to recover in order to rebuild themselves properly.  If you find your legs hurt are getting sore from the wall sit, you can do that every other day as well.  The jumping jacks are fine to do every day though.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

General Gaming - Summer to do List 2014

School year is over and although it ended on a really sour note (see BC Teacher Strike) at least I'll have the summer to do some gaming.  Not as much as last year though as I am going on a 3 week vacation with my family mid-summer (see here)

Alright so in no particular order here's my to do list for this summer.

  • Finish painting my Deathwing squad.  Carry over from last year, they are primed and ready for painting at least.
  • Get to Gold division in League of Legends.  Currently at Silver II so just need to get into Silver I then from there it's on to Gold!  Better than last year where I ended the season in Silver IV.
  • Finish Assassin's Creed 3.  - Completed July 9th
  • Finish one of the Imperial Story lines SWTOR.  Still working on my Bounty Hunter but at least she's now past chapter 1!
  • Show Penny how to play D&D with rules!  Currently she plays a rule-less version where we just throw down random minis and she knocks them over with her hero mini.  Time to introduce some structure and dice!
Smaller than last year but again I'm on vacation for 3 weeks this summer so less time.  Hopefully I can cross more off this list than last year's list.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

D&D - Learning from Critjuice

I had the pleasure of driving myself to work on Monday so rather than listen to the radio stations I decided to do what I usually do when I drive by myself: catch up on the episodes of Critjuice that I missed!  Note: my work commute is about an hour both ways and I carpool on most days.

For those that don't know what Critjuice is, it's a podcast of a bunch of professional actors and comedians playing Dungeons and Dragons while drinking.  I don't remember why I started listening but in the two years I've been listening to them play (I think I'm one of their first listeners now that I think about it), I've always had a good laugh and they always make my drive home very entertaining.

The DM, David,  is great and from listening to him (and Chris Perkins' PAX games) I've become a much better DM myself I think.  While my games always had a lot of free flow in terms of rules (I regularly throw out rules or adapt them if it makes the current scene cooler) it lacked a lot of NPC involvement.  Since listening to Critjuice my NPCs have a lot more character now as I've attempted (with varying degrees of success) to give them voices and mannerisms different from my own.  It's really changed the feel of the games I play in my opinion.

Anyways, what I really wanted to write about today was the new Team Up mechanic that David introduced in the last few episodes.  To me it reminded me a lot of the Chrono-Trigger dual-tech abilities.  The visuals described by two heroes combining their techniques into a super powerful technique is just really cool.  This would  give players a reason to understand the other characters abilities and allow a lot more role playing during a combat encounter which is always great.  Too often my players just say "I'm going to swing my sword at him." or "I cast magic missile at the goblin.".  While there is nothing wrong with that, it can make for a boring game if that's all you do or say for every combat encounter.

While the net effect in Critjuice is just a damage modifier I can see it leading to all sorts of other in-game effects.  Imagine a ranger letting loose a flurry of arrows while his mage buddy imbues them with some sort of magical power like ice.  Upon impact, in addition to the damage of both attacks, the impact of the ice arrows might make an area of difficult terrain or encase the targets in ice for a round.  The possibilities are quite endless and I am excited to bring this mechanic into my own games of D&D in the future.

I wonder if any of the players in Critjuice will try a triple or quadruple team up move at some point in the future...

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Warhammer 40k - 7th edition Allies

A friend of mine (@beahealthygeek) tweeted this out earlier

and it actually got me a little excited for the game again (my interest in 40k has waned a lot over the past few years but some releases have changed that).  The biggest thing is that all Imperial Armies are now considered battle brothers.  Imperial armies encompass basically all Space Marine chapters, Imperial Guard forces and Inquisition forces.

Why is this important?  Well I've always wanted to do a joint Dark Angels and Space Wolves army as the two marine chapters have so much rich history with each other.  Despite what current Wolf and Angels players say now, I am a firm believer that their rivalry is one of mutual respect and not one of malice or hatred.

This new alliance matrix means this pipe dream army of mine can actually come true without having a significant disadvantage in the actual game (the non-scoring Troops from 6th are a big hindrance I think). To be honest I'm not sure if I will add anything to my collection but things like this will encourage me to try and pick up the hobby again.

Now to decide what Space Wolf units will go best with my Deathwing forces.

Friday, May 16, 2014

MTG - Journey into Nyx Cube Update 1

Big update this time.  With the full set of temples available I've found a way to include them.  I have a large gold section so having the proper mana fixing is important.  The temples are a great addition while not breaking the bank.  Drafting 5 colour good stuff will now be more feasible in my cube!

I also removed the following mechanics as they were kind of confusing to my friends who don't play MTG outside our cube nights or conflicted with other mechanics in my cube or I just felt were under performing.

  • Bestow - A very cool mechanic and gives so many options.  You could have cheap aggro creatures that had late-game impact and they trigger Heroic as well.  However, the rules behind it were very complicated and the intricacies of the mechanic are beyond my playgroup.  I did keep Chromanticore though as it is just a fun and powerful card.
  • -1/-1 counters - Goes counter to all the +1/+1 counters that are present.  Again the interactions between the two types can be confusing so I chose to remove them.
  • Scavenge - The timing of this ability caused a lot of confusion in my group so I removed it.  I did keep Varolz, the Scar-Striped as it is a fairly strong card and with only one instance of Scavenge it would be easier to explain.
  • Detain - Fairly lack-luster and I wanted to try new things in the UW slot.

So on to the actual changes!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

MTG - Journey into Nyx Pre-Release Report

Found time to play in the Journey into Nyx Pre-Release on Sunday.  I originally wanted to play white because the promo (Dawnbringer Charioteers) had pretty cool art, was a good beater in sealed and goes well in my cube.  Unfortunately I registered late so all the white was taken and I ended going blue (the promo was Scourge of Fleets which has cool art and I figured was a pretty bomby card when played).

The pool I opened was ok but nothing spectacular.  I did not have many of the powerful blue commons and uncommons (no Hour of Need, no Voyage's End, no Griptide, no Sea God's Revenge) and no removal from any colour (aside from some enchantment removal in green).  I had a lot of good 5-drops but no acceleration of any sort to ramp into them, so the deck I built ended up being some weird mid-range aggro/control style deck with a bunch of powerful 5-drops and some cheap tricks/filler creatures at the lower casting costs.

My deck consisted of
Not the greatest deck but considering the cards I got, it was the best one I could come up with in my opinion.  My full card pool can be found after the report.

Game 1 - Won 2-0
Faced off against a GW deck that had no real synergy.  My opponent must have had a bad pool as I don't recall any real bomb card and I was able to play my flyers and win that way.  He did have an Athreos, God of Passage out early on game 2 but I managed to play around it.

Game 2 - Lost 1-2
Played a GW deck packing a fair amount of removal.  2x Time to Feed, Deicide, Banishing Light and some good creatures (Mistcutter Hydra absolutely wrecked me in game 2 and 3).  I managed to take the first game as I was able to hold off his early rush until I got a Humbler of Mortals followed by my Scourge of Fleets and then shortly after that I was able to drop an enchantment and play Mischief and Mayhem on both of my fatties to trample over for the win.  The 2nd and 3rd games though I couldn't find my fat creatures fast enough to overcome the early removal and Mistcutter Hydra.

Game 3 - Lost 0-2
Another GW deck but this one was super fast.  Not a lot of removal but just a lot of fast aggressive creatures like Golden Hind, Eagle of the Watch, Oreskos Swiftclaw all backed up by a Dictate of Heliod and other auras.  Both games I could not keep up with the early beats.

Game 4 - Lost 0-2
A fast aggressive RG deck.  Lots of 1 and 2 drops backed up by auras and combat tricks.  At this point I didn't really care too much if I won or lost so I played pretty badly and made some horrible plays.

First time since Scars of Mirrodin  that I didn't Top 8 a pre-release event but oh well, that's the nature of sealed sometimes.  Hopefully at the next event (M15 release I think) I'll get a better pool.  In the meanwhile I'm already thinking about what cards from Journey into Nyx I want to add to my cube and what they will replace.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Travel - Civilization 5 World Wonder Tour

While planning our summer vacation this year my wife asked me if there was anywhere I would want to visit in the world.  I thought about it for a brief moment and told her that there wasn't anywhere in the world I really wanted to visit for the sole purpose of just visiting.  I mean I like travelling, but if all I am doing is just sight seeing, it's not that great for me.

I like attending events so a lot of my previous travel plans were centered around events, whether it be family reunions, funerals (these are unplanned by the way in case anyone was wondering), gaming tournaments or whatever.  Case in point, for the past few years I've tried to plan a summer trip to Edmonton because of a big annual Warhammer 40k/Fantasy tournament (It Came From Out of the Basement) arranged by some former Prince George gamers (hasn't worked out yet though as things always seem to get in the way) and late last year I thought about going to Seattle just to attend PAX Prime 2014 or to see We Will Rock You.  This year I was even considering trying to go to Cologne because Gamescom (and coincidentally the League of Legends EU LCS Summer Playoffs!) happens to happen after our week in Paris is done (though not sure if the rest of my family would share my enthusiasm about the event)

A few moments after my wife asked the question it dawned on me that I could relate our travel plans to some of the games we play and I suggested we do a Civ 5 World Wonder Tour - basically visit every World Wonder in Civ 5 that still exists.  This would help us plan future vacations and for me it wouldn't just be sight seeing; we could actually visit the wonders we build in our games of Civ 5  (we play Civ 5 together a fair amount)

It's going to take a very long time though to hit all the Civ 5 wonders (here's a list of all of them but it's an interesting family goal to have.

This summer we'll be heading to London and Paris for two weeks so we'll hopefully be able to cross off the following:

  • Oxford University
  • Stonehenge
  • Big Ben
  • Globe Theatre (though the original doesn't exist they did reconstruct a new one not too far from the original location)
  • Eiffel Tower
  • The Louvre
  • Notre Dame
Penny probably won't understand any of our plans but she'll have fun regardless (she's only 3 at the moment and she likes going places outside her house).  As she gets older she might have a better understanding/appreciation of why we our vacation plans are the way they are.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Video Games - Adventures in Disney Infinity (Wii version)

This week Walmart had a big sale on all the Disney Infinity starter sets (normally $75 but this week was only $49).  So we made a fairly impulse buy and picked up the Wii starter set (and Rapunzel and Woody as Futureshop was selling them 2 for $15).  This was mostly because my wife realized I like to game and wanted a game that the entire family could enjoy.

A little more background about our gaming environment at my house.  I am a big gamer and no matter what my wife tries, she cannot stop me from gaming.  I've tried to get her to game with me with mixed results.  Tabletop wargames were totally ineffective and MMORPGs too.  We did find some common ground in Age of Empires 3 (and Age of Mythology before that) and the Civilization games (when Civ 5 went on sale a few weeks ago on Humble that was a godsend!)  Unfortunately Penny couldn't really join us when we played as she just didn't understand and couldn't really participate in any way.

One thing Penny did like was Disney movies though and she knows many of the characters that are available in Infinity.  We figured Infinity would be a good way that we could play something that Penny could relate to.  Unfortunately the Wii version is kind of limited as there is no online capability but we could still build stuff in the Toy Box mode and at Penny's age (she's only 3.5 years old) she won't know any better.

The game plays very much like any 3d platformer just with Disney characters.  My favourite aspect of the game so far has been the world building in the Toy Box.  Penny watched me play as Rapunzel as I worked through the Mastery challenges and really wanted to play but the Mastery challenges were out of her league.  So I fired up a toy box and built her a simple cave complex (we managed to land the Cave of Wonders entrance so it looked pretty cool) with a room full of smashable crates at the end.  I told her she had to get through the cave and then smash the crates (she liked watching me smash stuff while I played through the Mastery challenges).

She was quite frustrated at first as she wasn't holding the controller properly and couldn't maneuver Rapunzel the way she wanted to.  I showed her how to hold the controller properly and how to use the analog stick to move Rapunzel and what button to press to smash things and before long she was able to move through the cave to the room of crates and start smashing.  When she cleared the room she asked to do it all over again.

Her video game skills are still developing but seeing how quickly she learned to move Rapunzel around was encouraging.  As I play with the Infinity Toy Box I'm excited to make more challenges for her.  Penny on the other hand is more excited about getting Anna and Elsa after I ordered them online as no stores in town had any.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

MTG - MBC Pauper

I wrote about two decks I wanted to take, a UG infect deck and an Izzet Blitz deck.  I couldn't find the cards for the Izzet Blitz deck and although I had the cards for the UG infect deck I decided not to bring it.  Instead I put together a Mono-Black Control deck (MBC) as I was more familiar with that style of deck than the UG Infect deck.

So I brought the following based on what I could cobble together the night before from my boxes of cards

The deck is a little sub-par as it is missing some staples like Chittering Rats and Hymn to Tourach so I kind of had to make do with similar but not quite as powerful cards that I had in my collection.  I did start playing back in the Revised days so I knew the cards well but I periodically liquidate my collection so never have that many cards in the house.  In that respect I prefer MTGO as I don't have to physically store anything.  MTGO has a lot of other advantages for me but I can write about that later.

Unfortunately not enough people showed up to play.  Still I managed to play a few pauper games with people to see how my deck fared.  The people who did show up though only brought aggressive infect decks which my control deck kind of rolled over.  I just had too much removal for them to handle and although they came close to beating me several times, I was able to stabilize with all my removal and smart chump blocking to allow me to win.  I was really hoping to play against more people but I guess that will have to be another time.  In the meanwhile I guess I have MTGO if I want to play Pauper.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

MTG - Local Pauper Tournament

Busy spring break for gaming events as I found out recently one of the local gaming stores is hosting an MTG Pauper tournament.  For those who don't know MTG Pauper is a format where only commons are allowed in your deck.  Lots of people online have come up with different types of Pauper formats like Modern Pauper or Standard Pauper but generally Pauper is a legacy format so commons from all sets are allowed.  As long as the card was common in one set it is allowed (so Rancor is allowed as it was common at one point)

I've played Pauper a lot on MTGO but never in a live event.  Most people here play either random legacy fun decks or standard.  Myself I've moved away from competitive MTG and mostly just cube with friends and the occasional pre-release tournament.  Seeing a Pauper tournament is kind of cool and I'm going to try and play in it.  The only problem is my live Pauper collection isn't nearly as big as my MTGO Pauper collection when it comes to having cards that will make an actual competitive deck.  I mean I have lots of commons (who doesn't, especially after having played for so long) but whether those commons can make a good deck is another matter.

There are two decks I want to try and bring.  One of them I have the cards for but isn't as fun to play in my opinion, while the other is super fun to play but I'm missing a fair amount of the key cards.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Warhammer 40k - FLGS 40k League!

Finally, a Warhammer 40k event going on at one of the FLGS in town.  Only took a few months.  Regardless, I am going to try and attend as it is an escalating league.

For those unfamiliar with an escalation league, it basically takes place over a period of X weeks and every week or two the points value of the games goes up.  This particular league will be done over 2 week intervals.  The first 2 weeks will be 600 point games (with a 50 point bonus if your army is painted!), the next 2 weeks will be 1200 point games (with a 100 point painting bonus) and the last 2 weeks will be 1800 points (with a 150 point painting bonus).  It will give me a reason to finish painting my unpainted Deathwing squads.

Now on to the first army list I plan on using!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Warhammer 40k - Imperial Knights

Since Orktoberfest 2013 I've been away from the Warhammer hobby but this model has made me want to maybe buy something from Games Workshop.  Mind you it's not so I can use it in a game as many wargamers in the area have moved away from the Warhammer universe.  The model brings back so many nostalgic memories of playing Epic: Titan Legions back in the 1990s.

A friend and I had split the Titan Legions box.  He got the Orks I got the Knights and Imperator Titan.  Lots of fun moving those guys around and playing on a massive scale compared to regular 40k.  We always thought it would be cool to see those models in 40k scale but that would require a lot of work (or money if you bought the old Armorcast models) so the giant walkers were just a pipe dream.

The release of this

has brought back a lot of the feelings of what made me get into this hobby in the first place:  the cool background and imagery of humanity standing against the tide of xenos.  For a moment I forgot all the money related issues surrounding my lack of enjoyment of the hobby and remembered all the cool stuff I liked about it.

I have no idea what the rules are for this thing but from what I've read it appears to be really expensive in game (~400 points) and can be used by any Imperial army.  It also appears to be a super heavy so might require the Escalation book.  That aside the kit's value isn't that bad from a $/points perspective compared to some other kits (I'm looking at you Imperial Guardsman).

Will I go and buy this kit or not?  Probably not any time soon.  After all it is $170 CDN and I could buy a lot more stuff with that (both hobby and non-hobby related), but this is the first thing that has come out from GW since last year's Dark Angels release (I still haven't bought the new Dark Angels codex) that has me wanting to buy from them and that's quite a change considering last year I was all but ready to give up on the company.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

League of Legends - Reaching a Plateau

Since the start of Season 4 I've had a pretty decent time in my ranked games.  My placement matches went 8-2 but for some reason I was still placed in Silver 4 (my ranking at the end of Season 4).  However I did really well in my next few games and managed to climb into Silver 3 relatively easily playing support or jungle.

It was here that I ran into the same problem I did in Season 3.  I could not get any higher.  I would get to around 90 LP and then suffer a string of defeats that knocked me back down to 0 LP.  This process repeated itself for several weeks and was quite infuriating.

I eventually realized I had hit a plateau with regards to my skill in the game.  What clued me in was my massive losing streak with Leona.  At one point I had a whopping 80% win record (over 20+ games) with Leona but then lost a bunch of games in a row.  When I started to play Thresh I started winning again and I attribute that to learning new skills that helped me move on from my plateau.

While some skills are universal, like map awareness, where to place wards and wave control, there are some skills that are specific to champions.  For example with Thresh I had to learn to better predict champion movement because of the short delay with his hook.

Learning to play Thresh also improved some of those universal skills.  A good example is map awareness.  With Thresh's lantern, having good map awareness is even more important for setting up ganks or saving team mates.  With Leona, map awareness was mostly useful for avoiding ganks, so I did not really pay attention to the position of my team mates.  After playing with Thresh for a while I've become much more aware of my team mates (especially my jungler) and I've pulled off a few lantern ganks and lantern saves that have swung fights in my team's favour.

With that said, I made it into Silver 2 earlier this week and I'm hoping my skills have progressed enough to get me further.  Going for Gold by the end of this season!

Friday, February 21, 2014

MTG - Born of the Gods Cube Update 2

Since the release of Born of the Gods I picked up a few more packs and made some more minor changes.

With the addition of Graverobber Spider in the last update I felt I didn't need more reach creatures.  More land-fixing never hurts especially with the abundance of gold cards and especially if I want people to try and play some of the shard cards or even Chromanticore.

Taking out Goblin Wardriver will make R/x aggro decks easier to work with.  Everflame Eidolon also has a better late game than the goblin does.  Archetype of Aggression is very aggressively costed and makes your whole team better.  When combined with some of the firebreathing creatures it will give R/x decks more reach.

Finally got one and I think the hard counter will be better than the situational counter.

I did manage to get my hands on a Temple of Plenty as well but still not sure where to fit the temples in without taking out the keyrunes/cluestones.  Now I just need to find a Brimaz, King of Oreskosz and Scourge of Skola Vale and I think the Born of the Gods update will be complete.

Friday, February 14, 2014

D&D - Dungeons and Princesses

So this past weekend was BCs Family Day long weekend.  As such I got to spend some time with my daughter when I normally would be at work.

My wife had gotten her some Capsule Books a few months back and she decided to introduce one of them to Penny.  Penny chose the Disney Princess one and her mother read her the story.  Each book had a bunch of thick cardboard cutouts of the princesses as well as cutouts of the princesses dancing with their princes.  Penny had a lot of fun moving them around on the included playmat and was having a good time.

But I noticed something about the cutouts as she played with them.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

MTG - Born of the Gods cube update

I got to play at the Born of the Gods prerelease and managed to get 2nd place.  Not bad as I got a few packs of the new set.  To be honest though, not much in the new set excites me.  Regardless, I picked up some stuff from the prerelease that I felt would be good additions to the cube.

I took the dragon as my pre-release promo because the art looks cool and the ability is quite relevant.  Charmbreaker Devils was kind of a niche card and although it helped the Izzet blitz decks, it cost too much.  Izzet blitz wants to win quick and a 6 mana creature just doesn't do that.  The dragon also makes Utvara Hellkite and Scourge of Valkas more useful.

I decided to remove Foundry Street Denizen because I removed a lot of the cards that made the goblin more effective (Goblin Rally and Krenko's Command).  Impetuous Sunchaser is still aggressive and with the right auras can be quite scary.

Phalanx Leader was hard to use outside of a dedicated mono-white weenie deck and I felt that Akroan Skyguard would make for a more consistent GW heroic deck.
Loyal Pegasus added more consistent aggressive evasion as it only requires 1 other creature instead of 2 other creatures.  It does kind of become useless though if it's the only creature you have but in an aggressive weenie deck, that probably won't be likely.
I liked Ornitharch at the pre-release.  Either it's a 5/5 flyer or a 3/3 flyer and 2 1/1 flyers.  Both forms are good in my opinion.

Courser of Kruphix is an interesting card and I don't have anything like it in my cube.  I still don't fully understand its uses but from what I've read it makes green decks better.  At the end of the day it's a fairly efficient creature and will help with mid-range decks.
I like tokens and Fated Intervention is one heck of a token generator.  Instant speed for surprise blockers or if played on your turn can help smooth out your draws.
Raised by Wolves provides more tokens and another useful aura.  Should make heroic decks easier to build with more auras.  Also it goes well with Howl of the Night Pack.
Karametra's Favor pretty much does everything Gatecreeper Vine does and then some.  The aura ramps and is a decent heroic trigger.  Does dilute the defender theme a bit so makes Overgrown Battlement and Axebane Guardian slightly worse but I think the trade-off is fine.

Herald of Torment makes early black aggression even better.  Plus it has awesome late-game potential compared to Arrogant Bloodlord.

Despite me not liking to play against counter spells, I felt my cube needed a little more.  I originally wanted Nullify but I did not get one in any of my packs.  Thassa's Rebuff does encourage playing permanents though which is what I want.
Although Sudden Storm isn't strictly better than Frost Breath, I felt the scry addition is powerful enough to make the swap.

Chromanticore is such a fun looking card I couldn't resist.  No idea if anyone will ever try to make a 5 colour deck but this could fit in so perfectly.  Gonna miss Ulamog's Crusher as it is a good creature and fits any deck but it will be fun to see if anyone will make Chromanticore work.
I was never fully happy with Korozda Gorgon as it's ability depended a lot on whether you could get enough scavenge or green evolve creatures.  With Graverobber Spider you can at least use its ability without depending on anything else other than creatures dying (and creatures will die).

I managed to pick up 2 of the 3 temples for this set at the pre-release but I haven't included them in just yet.  I'm probably going to wait until I have all 10 temples (currently I have 7 of 8) before trying to figure out how to include them.  I currently have all the Keyrunes and Cluestones slated to be replaced by the temples but I'm not sure about that.  I really want a way to fit the Keyrunes/cluestones and the temples so I can have lots of colour fixing and some acceleration.

There are a few other cards from Born of the Gods that I would like to add to my cube but I will have to wait until the set is fully released before I can pick them up.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

MTG - UB Mill in my Cube

The dreaded mill deck.  Frustrating to play against for the most part and sometimes you just feel dirty for winning with it.  Mostly because it's such a passive deck for the most part.  You don't need to attack your opponent's life total in any way to win with this style of deck.

UB can sometimes also be built as a control deck where you eliminate your opponent's threats until you can drop your own and win, but I'll focus on the milling aspect of the two colours for this deck.

The following are the cards you want to look for and draft

These are the main milling cards in the cube and if you can grab a few of them (especially the recurring ones) you can easily mill your opponent out as the decks are usually only 40 cards (And of those 40 cards you only need to mill away around 30 or so).

In addition to the actual milling cards it helps to pick up some defensive creatures like Wall of FrostFog Bank and Mnemonic Wall so you can stall your opponent.  Some kill cards like Doom Blade or Murder are also useful for taking care of things your walls can't stop.

There are a few cards that may not seem like they would fit but are actually really good for the deck.  Jace's Archivist and Prosperity can help you achieve your goal of milling your opponent.  Jace's Archivist may not seem useful but if you are milling your opponent they most likely will not have as many lands as you so their hand will be fairly large.  The added cards will usually be more beneficial to you than it will be to your opponent.  Similarly Prosperity can force your opponent to draw more cards than he intended and bring him closer to being milled while at the same time filling your hand with more useful spells.

Of course if you can't mill your opponent to death, you do have the option to go on the beatdown, especially if you can land a few large creatures like Oona, Queen of the Fae, Frost Titan or Lazav, Dimir Mastermind.  If you've milled your opponent early enough it will be easier to drop one of these bombs and just take over the game.  This alternate strategy is also advisable after game 1 where your opponent might side in more cards to make his deck bigger and harder to mill so for your own sideboard you might want to add some unblockable creatures like Keymaster Rogue and Deathcult Rogue to your sideboard and switch strategies between games.  These creatures also work well if Trepanation Blade is already in your card pool.

Like the other decks I looked at it is a fun deck to play, especially if you like frustrating your opponents.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Holiday Gaming

Christmas break is always great for gaming.  Even more so this year as I did not bring any marking or other work with me (normally I bring a boat load of marking or planning home over the holidays).  The majority of my gaming this year was online games with friends, mostly League of Legends but we did also delve into Team Fortress 2 a bit and I played a little bit of Star Wars: The Old Republic (finally got my Bounty Hunter past the first chapter)

Anyways, while playing League with my friends I quickly realized that it would be quite a while before most of my friends get to my level (and I'm only Silver at the moment!).  Sometimes it's frustrating I suppose but I've decided that I just need to get better so I can carry them harder whenever we play normal games.  I've become quite a good Leona player and can set up a good deal of plays to help feed the carries on my team.  I also can't wait for the Season 4 LCS to start.  Will give me something to watch again.

On the MTG front I did enlarge my cube (see earlier post) but due to various issues I never did get a chance to try it out.  I'm thinking of starting some kind of MTG cube league at one of the local gaming stores so I can play more cube with more people.  I just have to be careful no one steals anything (I'm thinking of buying some unique sleeves to help prevent this).  Thankfully there are no big money cards in my cube.

Family gaming has become quite a thing in my household too as my in-laws have been coming over to play games on a weekly basis.  Generally it's board games like Ticket to Ride or Settlers of Catan.  This holiday season we got the Seafarers of Catan and the 5-6 player expansions to Settlers so I am thinking of inviting my sister-in-law and her husband to join in.  It helps that their son is around Penny's age so the two can play together while we play our own game.

Steam had massive sales this holiday season as they usually do and I got a Steam gift card from my sister (she always gets me gaming related gifts which is great as no one else does).  I picked up a few games I had been wanting to play (Hitman: Absolution and Assassin's Creed 3).  I missed out on the 75% off Skyrim sale on the last day because of the alleged DDOS attacks but oh well.  I'm sure that sale will happen again in the future.

Work also gave me a reimbursement for my internet which I turned into a new desktop that plays games better than the laptop I was using.  It's hardly a super gaming computer but it does play all the games I want to play at medium-high settings and some games at high-ultra settings.  The biggest bonus is that I can upgrade it fairly easily with a relatively cheap graphics card (it's got an AMD APU processor so I can pair it up with a graphics cards to get better mutual performance).

I'm looking forward to this year as Penny is getting older and learning her numbers and is getting quite an imagination.  All this translates into a great opportunity to teach her how to play RPGs and other games.  She already likes playing with my dungeon tiles and rolling dice so it should be an easy transition.