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Gaming posts

Unearthed Arcana – Class Abundance

So Wizards of the Coast are busy pouring out Unearthed Arcana articles, their playtest material articles that give us access to things like new spells, rules, magic items, races, and subclasses that allow us to make an ever more diverse cast of characters to bring to the table. And currently subclasses is the key term, the pace of articles has picked up with a new subclass introduced for two classes a time, so far: (more…)

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Magic: the Gathering – Drafting M20

So, same as last year, I picked up a box of the latest core set from Magic, because while Throne of Eldarine looks very pretty, I can’t say I’ve seen enough to draw me in past the hydra-turtles. Usually for me that’d be enough, but finances are what they are.

M20 has a very particular theme. Actually it has several, elementals, goblins, birds, wolves, knights, the recurring leylines and cavaliers, a conspicuous return of Theros favourites and temple-lands, and a definite lean towards the commander format, all shine through in the setlist, but there’s a bias here that’s impossible to ignore, especially when you reach the list of red cards.

While each colour has a Planeswalker to represent it, red has three, all of whom are Chandra Nalaar at varying stages of her rise to power. Four of her key spells immediately follow in the set list, and much like with the return of the Theros cards, it rather feels like a nod to Magic’s future, as the upcoming TV series by the Russo brothers is expected to be heavily centred on the pyromancer.

My Deck

A quick reminder on how to draft cards if you weren’t already familiar.

Here was my first draw:

Unusual to grab a land as your first card, but scrying is a useful mechanic no matter the deck, and it does set the colours for my deck… so I was hoping. Unfortunately both of my opponents were keen on white and black, seemingly both throwing in a healthy dose of green just to scupper me. No one went blue… at all, until I started coming up with some beguiling options:

Ok, so I guess I’m building an elemental-heavy deck, I’ll put these with a collection of my red picks, heavy on the goblins to supplement the goblin deck I’ve been assembling. Surprisingly it wasn’t too difficult to assemble a synergistic draft based on the Temur colours: red/blue/green, and something that does what those colours do well. The deck I ended with filled the ground with creatures that support and feed off one another.

Lavakin Brawlers make the Creeping Trailblazer far more daunting, Scorch Spitter and Scampering Scorchers make it cheap and easy to bulk up the bonuses on each, and having drawn a Ripscale Predator and some goblins, it wasn’t too hard to make a rather daunting red-heavy deck, with green and blue supporting heavily.

The Game

I’d like to say that I won… we played four games between three players, of which I think we each won a game, but most of my experience was brief moments in which all of my horrible elementals worked together to swing for tremendous amounts of damage… before losing it all after one glorious push and dying horribly before I could rebuild. Overgrowth Elemental helped give me a drop of durability, and those Cloudkin Seers made it easier to keep a hand together and make plans round to round. But it took a genuine balance of good luck on my part and bad luck for my opponents for me to squeeze out a meaningful win.

Feral Abominations held me at bay, giants with deathtouch always blunts someone’s will to dive in to slaughter, and Griffins made it hard for me to slip flying through to their life totals. I was also facing down some green giants like Silverback Shamen and Thicket Crashers that dealt with a lot of my bigger nastier horrors, and while they left the battlefield for trying to get in my way, they took some of my teeth out as they fell.

Next

I like M20, and while I didn’t see many of the more interesting cards come out of my booster box I did pull Gargos, Vicious Watcher for whom I have the perfect deck, and Yarok the Desecrated who I immediately fell in love with for the sake of the mechanics, lore, and the colour combo that suits my playstyle to a tee… and yet still very easily traded away. While Yarok was right for me, one of my opponents pulled this:

Based on the colours I’d just put together, how could I not?

Now, Omnath howls Commander to me, and while I have about half a deck built in front of me, I still have a long way to go. I think there’ll be some awaken spells from Zendikar added to bolster the ranks of elementals from my land pool to make Omnath all the more powerful, maybe some flicker mechanics to have him bouncing in and out, some more land-draw effects to ensure that landfall ability of his comes into play.

I also foolishly passed on the Lightning Stormkin as a friend would benefit from having her in a wizard deck, and I’ll need to keep an eye out for a Thunderkin Awakener, and there’s a host of other mechanics that I’ve been mulling on that could really support a Commander. Apparently the Yarok deck I pitched against myself is already completed… guess I have some catching up to do.


Ratchet and Clank Original Trilogy Retrospective Part 3

Ratchet and Clank 3: Up Your Arsenal – or just Ratchet and Clank 3 in other places – was released in 2004 on the PlayStation 2, once again one year after the game before it. The game opens with Ratchet and Clank enjoying life in the Bogon Galaxy, before revealing that Clank is now a Holovid star playing “Secret Agent Clank”, a news story plays showing Ratchet’s home planet of Veldin being invaded by Tyhrranoids under the command of Doctor Nefarious…

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Top 10 – Hunters

GeekOut Top 10s

Shh, do you hear that? It sounds like the trees rustled over this way, quickly, hide in the underbrush. Now, careful, for today we’ve got to keep on the low-down, lest we become prey for them. Whether you’re a vampire, a beast, or even just an ordinary human, today we’re going to check out the Top 10 Hunters across all pop culture. Video games, Film, TV, Literature, you name it, we’ve got it covered. (more…)


My Thoughts on Minecraft PE

A while back I bought Minecraft Pocket Edition (or PE for short), but my phones just could never handle it. Now that I’ve got a phone that can handle it, I decided to play about with Minecraft PE and I couldn’t believe just how far it had come along. I’ve had a few days playing around with it now and I can see some issues, as well as some areas where it truly excels. In all honesty, I love Minecraft and just about everything about it, so here’re my thoughts on Minecraft PE.

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Opinion: Was Free-To-Play Inevitable For The Games Industry?

Throughout history, we’re told that change is inevitable. Whether it’s changes to your work, or changes in the form of a balance patch in your favourite fighting game, change is inevitable. However some change is a lot more necessary than others. Some change is born out of a need to move from the status quo, whereas other changes are to try and improve and innovate. So in an industry filled with innovation, was Free-To-Play simply inevitable?

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Video Game Review: DragonBall FighterZ

Steam sales means that I get to pick up titles I’ve sought after at a great price; let’s be honest, we’ve all been extra tempted by Steam sales – And recently, Steam put up a sale for all DragonBall related games and lo and behold, the fighting game DragonBall FighterZ came up in that list. Anyone who’s ever read this website before will know that I do love a good fighting game. When DragonBall FighterZ first came out, I was hugely interested. It was a massive success story that was able to quickly rival the other 3v3 or ‘tag’ style fighting games, especially as it’s been a while since the last big one.

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Top 10 – Rocks and Stones

GeekOut Top 10s

Hey, it looks like we’re on a roll. Whilst you may be rocking away, things are going to get a little cold, a little stone cold! Ahh, I crack myself up, so whilst we boulder towards this week’s list, let’s get some ground rules out of the way with. This list must at least feature the rocks, stones, boulders or otherwise in a fashion that they stand out. That’s about it, so let’s get ready to rock and roll!


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Kickstarter Highlight – Muffin Time: The Random Card Game by Big Potato

Not going to lie, I have to blame Joel entirely for finding out about this. Asdfmovie is a series of random comedy skits by YouTuber, TomSka. Last month, they released the latest asdfmovie, asdfmovie12. These short animated clips always get a chuckle out of us and admittedly, there’s little I can do to support the guy except maybe buy some merch. Until I watched asdfmovie 12, that is, as I’ve now seen that he’s been working on his own card game – and considering as of the time of writing there’s only 7 days left (6 by the time you read this), I figured it’d be good to share it with you all.

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Magic: the Gathering – Different Win Conditions

“How To” videos for Magic are in high demand right now, with Arena being featured as a sponsor for a lot of YouTube series right now. Well here’s one I’ve yet to see, one we’ve yet to address, and one that’s actually quite interesting.

The basic rules of Magic are astonishingly easy to learn. Your opponent(s) and you have a life total, and from your deck you draw the resources and tools you need to get rid of the opponents’ life and keep your own, and the last of you with anything left to fight with, wins. For most people that works fine, but some of us have opened a booster or perused set lists and noticed a card along these lines:

Except without a date attached to it, thanks MTG Goldfish… I guess.

Doesn’t matter that your health is firmly in the single digits, your field is practically empty, and your opponents are about to clear you out of the way so they can start the real fight… you just beat them all. How did you get there? Why weren’t they paying attention to where your Hedrons were going? There are dozens of these cards, meaning that there are masses of different ways to win that circumvent the need to pay attention to your life total.

Many of these require you to build your entire deck around them, or offer a backup plan to your major tactic. Take Hedron Alignment as an example, how does it work and how does it help:

It’s a blue card with a simple blue mechanic, Scry which allows you limited control over what card you draw next.

With it in hand, and two untapped mana on the field, your opponent will always wonder if you’re about to counter their next spell, or dismiss one of their creatures, destroying a valuable play; a cruel but valuable psychological tactic that also contributes to the alignment.

Blue decks are very well suited to manipulating the cards, including ways that allow you to discard cards to power better spells, or take some of your deck, remove unwanted cards to the graveyard, and leave the cards you want on top. With these cards somewhere in your deck, it’s not all that hard to put them where you want them.

And with all of those abilities to move and shift cards around with only a handful of cards, you can also create a deck that does other things. Cards that play from exile, feed from graveyard content, or benefit from controlling the content of your hand, which brings me to the card I found recently:

More manipulation of cards, another possible win condition… actually the two could really bounce off one another… I think I need to be building a deck.

These are not the only paths to victory. Some cards function as countdown timers, relying on a certain number of counters being placed on them, others rely on achieving certain states of play, like having twice your starting health total, being able to pay certain mana combinations, or running out of cards altogether.

Finally, there’s one more win conditions that requires no single card to tell you that you’ve won. Nevertheless it still requires a deck dedicated to it. If a player’s deck runs out of cards, that’s (usually) it.

The term Milling refers to a card called Millstone, but has come to refer to any card tat forces players to put cards from library to graveyard, but thanks to far more vicious cards like Traumatise and Consuming Aberration, the tactic has become a viable, if risky thing to attempt. Most players suffer greatly as their best cards pour from their deck and out of reach, while some only grow stronger and gain more options with a swollen graveyard. And if your primary goal is to see your player cardless, it can leave you open to faster, more aggressive tactics, or vulnerable to the bigger creatures amassing on the other side of the field.

That, and no one likes a mill deck. If you enjoy painting a massive target on your back then go ahead.