Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Kicking It Up a Notch!

Kicking It Up a Notch


Hello and good morning! Well at least it's morning as I write this. If it's night when you read it, I hope you're having a good night too! Today we shift gears into some good ol' MTG! That's right Magic the Gathering. Why am I writing about this topic when I so brutally slayed it in issue # 2?

Well, I can't ignore it. I spent quite a few years of my life playing it. So I thought I'd talk about my first experiences with tournament playing. And how much I got killed......So here-we-go!

But haven't you said at one time in you're Magic playing life: Man, I just need to take it to the next level. I need to kick it up a notch? Well, if you have ever said that you aren't the first. And I want to mention a big part of your education is case you haven't received it yet. Tournament. That's right, tournament.

If you have never done it, guess what, it's time. I can't stress enough how much valuable education you will receive from playing in one. And just to prove the fact I thought I'd share with you my first two tournaments with all the highs, lows, tears, and joys that went with it. More tears than joy I have to admit......

I played my first tournament in the Legacy format. Basically this format is for people who want to use pretty much any card from the card pool but don't have $10,000 to spend. It is a variation on Vintage format. That is a format in which any card can be used with only 3 or 4 cards banned to date. Vintage is pricey though because the power 9 are all legal. Legacy is for us poor players. So anyway, my first couple of tournaments were Legacy.

I bring to the table a deck. It relies on quick counters and burns to win with only 10 creatures in the total deck. (I would give you the deck list, but it's not together anymore. You will see why. Keep reading...) My main kill creature is Wee Dragonauts . Got 4 of them on board. They mesh really well with a spell deck. My idea's are solid, but right off the bat I lack one vital thing.....I don't have a specific combo. Sure I have some nice stuff including two very sweet Cryptic Command ! But NO combos.

Here's our first lesson....that's bad. Legacy is all about the combos my friend. Part one of my education as you can see. The way it's set up you play four rounds of best two out of three. If you win you get to play in the final match to see who is the winner of the night. So you get at least four opponents with the opportunity to play in a big game. So here we go!


My opponent is running a 5 color Zubera deck. He has pain lands and Ravnica lands too. His combo was that he used ones like the and the Zuberas to give himself infinite life & get an army of tokens. Examples of these: Silent-Chant Zubera and Dripping-Tongue Zubera . Nice combo. Would it work though?

Match 1: His mana base works nicely giving him access to all 5 colors in just a couple turns. He has pushed himself though and has lost some power as well. But unfortunately for my friend here he has too much mana and not enough creatures. Lucky him I'm not running that many either but it doesn't matter. First I hit him hard with some direct damage, then I counter B- smack my way to victory with my Dragonaughts. 1-0.

Alright! That wasn't so bad! Maybe my deck can do some serious damage!

Match 2: He does a lot better this time. Hits me for some damage then ups his life total. But the mana becomes a problem again for him. This time a little too few mana of the right color. He made a strong start but I come back with 2 pumped up Dragonaughts and knock him out easy. 2-0.Now the “rookie of the year” chants are coming into my head. Oh yeah going to be a good tournament!

Rounds: 1-0. Match: 2-0


This time I'm paired up with a guy who is running a Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker deck. How this works is he uses Tooth and Nail to dig up Kiki-Jiki and then sets it up in a combo with Sky Hussar. The two abilities play off each other and then you have to face down an infinite army of fliers! Nasty!

Match one: We trade early blows. I can't seem to get any creatures. And the ones I do he burns. Eventually he wins by wearing me down. 0-1.
Ouch. OK, I got one more chance.

Match two: He doesn't play any creatures at all till he tries to drop good old Kiki on turn 6 (I'm beginning to realize maybe my deck is a little bit too much on the defensive side...hmm). I Cryptic Command that sucker, only to fall to his later Tooth and Nail. Bam! 1 million Sky Hussars......sigh.0-2 Ow! Ok now things aren't going so hot.

Rounds: 1-1. Matches: 2-2


OK, time to take the power back. This round I am playing versus a deck. He was a nice guy but his deck was down right brutal. Goblins my friend. Goblins. A deck he has spent 5 years perfecting. Hmm this might not be good. As in “help here comes the runaway rhino!” not good.

Match one: It's quick. It's brutal. No matter how many counters I throw or removal I drop he bounces back. Finally a Goblin Grenade puts my misery to an end. 0-1. This is not cool. I already know that I have no hope this round.

Match two: You know that dream you have where you are at school, then suddenly you are naked? Remember how embarrassed you are? Yeah....... 0-2.

Rounds: 1-2. Matches: 2-4.

Here's where we stand so far, I took the first round then haven't even won a match since much less a whole round! It's time to get serious! Got one last battle to go.


So I beat the Zuberas so far, but couldn't stop the or the Goblins. The next girl I am playing is the daughter of the store owner. She has a treefolk deck.
How bad could it be? In my defense had just came out so I wasn't aware of how much danger I was in!

Match 1:

Before this match I would've said that goblins were the absolute fastest creature
type decks ever. Right. What about treefolk? Turn one she drops the Treefolk Harbinger which gets Doran, the Siege Tower on top of her deck and gives her a 0/3 blocker. Turn 2 comes another harbinger. Then on turn 3 here's Doran! I take 16 damage on turn 4 alone. Turn 5 is all it takes. Ok, so treefolk are the scariest. I'm not winning again tonight am I? 0-1

Match 2:

Her deck doesn't work as fast this time, but I fall into a situation every Magic player dreads! The field is open for me to take my revenge! But where the heck is all my mana!?! Yes my friends mana drought! Really it's the salt in the open wound by this time.....I'm done. I don't even bother to stick around to see who wins the main thing. What's the point you know? 0-2

Rounds: 1-3 Matches: 2-6

So much for rookie of the year! Ok though so where did I go wrong? What can we learn from this dismal start? Well a lot actually.
Right off the bat as I already stated I didn't have any specific combos. Sure I was using the Wee Dragonaughts with a ton of support spells, but that's not really a combo! A combo deck works by setting up a win condition. And all good combo decks have an alternate strategy if plan A doesn't go well. Having no combo is murder on your deck in legacy. That or you need a strong beatdown. You have to have a plan! I had none! I completely left my wins up to chance. The sub par Zubera deck I played fell to me but let's face it, it's a week combo in my opinion.

Another thing we can all learn reflects on the issues raised in my blog on Beatdown and Control. See I based my deck on the fact I would run low creatures and a decent amount of counters to keep the board clear till I dumped the Wee Dragonaughts out. Now compare that idea to the rules of beatdown/control.  Counter spells are obviously control. But Wee Dragonaughts would work better with burn (beatdown) spells. Why do I say this? Well think about it. The Dragonaughts work best when you play a lot of cheap spells then attack with them. That's when they receive the buff. Hmm. How are you going to use a lot of counter spells on your turn? Burn works better. Burn off their cheap chump blockers while beefing your flying men. If no blockers are in sight, you still can burn the other player! Perfect! It uses a beatdown set of spells with a beatdown creature. Now that makes a whole lot more sense! And my deck would've been loads better!
So a sad day for me loosing so bad. But at least I learned so much. I decided to bring that knowledge to my next tournament. This would be two weeks later.......

To Be Continued in another blog.....

Monday, December 20, 2010

Time For A Makeover....

Earth One and Superman's Makeover

Greetings to all the fellow geeks out there! Up to this point I have been largely ignoring the comic community as a whole. Not on purpose mind you, I just have had a
lot of other stuff to cover. So I thought I would rectify that today and hit the blog with a commentary on Superman.
Now Superman is probably one of the most recognizable superheroes. His distinctive outfit to his boy scout sensibility. But now DC has decided to go in a new direction with him. Why?

Well, for starters when the movie series was brought back after a hiatus of 19 years, it was a planned blockbuster. Superman Returns! A sequal to the first 2 movies. Basically the only good ones! Big promotion, big names actors. Grand story line. But while the movie did decent making over 391 million dollars, it wasn't quite the mega blockbuster that superhero movies are supposed to be now. (Considering the fact the movie had a budget of 209 million, you can see why it wasn't all that impressive money wise) It wasn't close to Batman DC's other titan. So what to do.... Well, DC decided a reboot of the series was in order. A dark reboot....

A Test, Repeat, This is a Test

In Oct 2010, DC released the much hyped Superman Earth One. A graphic novel of Superman's origin with some slight twists. Earth One novels in the DC universe are stories that are similar to the Marvel Ultimate universe. Basically a re imaging of the world without touching the continuity of the normal universe. One change in the book is it's much darker story. Instead of Clark Kent boy scout in his suit and tie, we see a brooding 18 year old guy who is trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life. He has the option open to being Superman, but he also might want to be a scientist or a sports star. He has always felt alone, so now he is trying to find his place in the world.
So does it work? In spades. This is the most human we have ever seen Superman.
When you're a kid and you watch Superman, it was all cool. But then you get a little older, and he's not a character you can relate to very well. I mean he is invincible and kind of aloof. He's always going to be better than you. But not this new Superman. He might have God like powers, but he's not invincible or not problem free. Anyone of us can see ourselves as him. That is what makes him so great. That's what makes the new novel so good.

Now the novel has taken some criticism. IGN says it's turned Superman into an angst-ridden cliche. And Comic Book Resource said that the new villain was boring to say the least. Now while some of this might be founded, overall they are wrong. This is a great read. I especially appreciate the reason why Sup doesn't wear a mask. It might be simple, but it's a powerful reason all the same. But despite whether or not it is loved, enough people put up the moolah that there is already a sequel green lit.

Superman 2.0

So what did it all mean? Well, it definitely gave DC comics a clear sign that a darker Kal-El would be a good investment. But ultimately is it good for Superman? In my opinion it is. While some will protest that this really isn't Superman because he is a lighter character than say the ever brooding Batman. And some might complain we don't need another Dark Knight movie. But I see it from the other side myself. Superman is a character that has lost a lot of relevance with the fans. Smallville in some part has helped bring him back though. Because we see what trials he faced as a teenager. So it's good to pass the torch on to a young adult version of Clark.

So bring it on DC. This is the time for a dark new Superman. Let's keep the legend going. And do it in style.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Beatdown Or Control?

(This blog deals with WOW CMG)

Hello Gamers!

Welcome to another exciting, action packed blog! OK. Maybe not super action packed but I had to get your attention somehow. In this blog we will discuss the intriguing statement I made at the end of the last blog. Namely that with strategy games the players break their forces, deck, etc, down into only actually two specific camps. Namely these are, 1. The Beatdown, and 2. The Control.
Interested? Then let's press on. First off I want to say this isn't my theory or anything. It is an established fact in gaming. All I am doing here is introducing you to the theory if you have never heard of it.
Think about how a game goes. Minis or otherwise. Someone is beating on one guy while the other plays crazy defense to try and gain the upper hand. As a matter of fact let's play out a scenario. Let's say you and your opponent have completed a draft. You both opened you're boosters and out of three figures you get to choose two. Here's the figures you took:

Phadalus the Enlightened


Now let's say you're into the game. Things are going well, and you are smashing some face. Phadalus has kept himself healed. He's hitting from range and melee as well. You jumped out to an early start and killed both of his toons right off the bat. What does that make you? Well clearly you are the beatdown player. You have established dominance. And he has had to play the defensive game making him the control player.

Now let's jump you farther on into the game. Your opponent has made a pretty decent come back. You need one more VP (victory point) to win. He needs 3. Phadalus was killed earlier so he's at the graveyard. And he won't have time to kill anyone or make it to a VP space. Your opponent's second toon is back at the graveyard as well. So It's all up to Dizdemona vs you're opponents down right nasty character..... Ji'lan . She has been unlucky though because she has only 2 health left and she's facing down a rogue. Not cool. Her defense isn't exactly the best versus melee. And this guy hits pretty darn hard! And if he crits, you are definitely done. What to do? In this case your opponent is now beatdown. If he can kill you're warlock on this turn he pulls off the win. And will brag about it for weeks because he has made such a good come back. Are you going to let him do that? Heck no!

Good thing you've got Fear on deck! Next thing he knows he's fled 3 spaces and you cruise to victory. In this case you had to become the control player. Dizdemona wasn't going to get it done with the beatdown at all. And to win he needed to beat you down for sure. Congratulations. Now that you won, it's time to brag.....maybe even for a couple weeks. Go ahead, you've earned it!

The important thing though is, did you see how the scenario played out? It illustrates beatdown vs control. The one doing the mediocre job at beatdown is going to have to become the control. Doesn't matter how you're deck or party is built. Even if they were a beatdown you might be playing control. And vice versa for building a control party. You might have to change mid game.
Now how does that work for us in practical terms as gamers? Well, really it gives you a starting point when you are constructing a party. Granted if you are playing a draft format that is a little tougher. But the same principles apply. Choose you're major goal between the two. You winning through beatdown? Or is control more you're specialty? Whatever you choose don't completely ignore the other aspect because you might get out controlled or out beaten! Basically I am saying, Don't put all you're eggs in one basket!
Let's say you took all toons that are range attackers. Well line of sight is going to be an issue for you before this game is up. What about if you take all melee? Then you are going to be running all over that field trying to get the VP s you need. Now that I have filled you're head with that though, I have to admit that you can still get around this rule. You can successfully run 2 guys of the same kind of attack and win. Just be aware of what you are doing and you should be fine.

Also logically you can apply this to all kinds of deck building or party building. When you understand the basic principles you see how it all connects. Coming in a future blog I will discuss this very thing. You will get to relive with me how my lack of focus in creating a tournament deck leads to my downfall. Good stuff. Make sure to be there.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Oh It's Magic...You Know

Hey everybody. This blog we are going to talk about Magic the Gathering. Figure I might as well start with the big Granddaddy of all TCGs. Let's face it, whether you love or hate the game is moot. It is responsible for a ton of other games. So it has left an everlasting mark on the gamers society. The game has evolved in it's 15 years of existence and there have been some missteps on the way. But it's still an amazing game. That being said I don't really like the game like I used to. And why I came to that conclusion has affected my viewpoint towards all TCGs. But let's start at the beginning....

Golden Age

My own journey into the world of magic began simply enough. I was hanging out with my best friend Fred's younger brother. He was telling me about this new game he was playing a lot of at school. And he showed me one of the cards. I'll never forget it. It's called Sulfuric Vapors. Urza's Saga was the set. The card was rare. The picture was awesome. A guy with goggles on being eaten up by this acidic mist. I didn't know anything about it, but I was determined to find out.
Just a couple days later I headed down to my local comic store to see what they had. They had pre-con decks, but those had no rules. So we got to start off playing wrong. Also all 3 of us bought decks of the same color. Made the game a little less exciting right away. Because most of our cards worked on non black colors! Yep we all 3 bought Nemesis pre- con Mercenary decks.

It's pretty funny looking back on it. We had so many rules wrong. Instead of the rule drop one land at a time. We used to drop everything we had in our hand and draw back to 7 cards! (Instead of the 1 card a turn draw you are allowed. It made some crappy cards pretty good though. Hey look, it's turn 3 & I just paid for a 8 cost creature!
At that time the game is incredibly fun. We all had fun playing it. No pressure. We played all the time. And more and more of us got into it too. Soon there were about 10 of us playing it every week. I call this time the Golden age of Magic for our circle.....

Silver Age

Eventually though even innocence ends. We learned how to play the game right. And it ended up getting a little more competitive. The game lost none of it's fun value though. It was still exciting. We still built crazy insane decks, and used 50 cent rares. Hell, back then not counting the power 9 (the 9 most powerful and expensive cards in the game), there weren't many expensive rares. That started to change when Prophecy came out though. And my favorite card was released....Avatar of Woe. I will never forget the first time I saw that card either. So awesome. Sure it was a later game card. But so sick. It had fear and could blow up any creature it wanted. I was in love. How could the game get any better?

Bronze Age

I ended up playing straight from the Nemesis expansion all the way through the Planeshift. About 5 sets or so. Then I drifted away. The game was fun, but I had RPGs to play and video games. Tons of other stuff really. So I quit for quite a while. I missed all of the Judgment block. Drifted back in for a bit during Mirrodin but didn't stay too long. Other than Akroma, Angel of Wrath, who along with the Avatar, are my all time favorite creatures.
Mirrodin, Kamigawa, Ravnica...I got into and out of Magic so much. I can only imagine how big a collection I would have today if I had stayed in it. Ok, so where were we? Oh yes......

Modern Age

I guess it was Zendikar when I finally started getting back into it. But this time was a little different. I had a really good friend in my old state I lived ( I had moved since then), that would play with me online. Things were going pretty good. But he made a decision that changed my Magic life. He decided to go pro. I played him game after game online (thank you Skype!) but I lost time after time. So one day I decided to average out the prices of our decks we both used. My ran $50 - $100. His ran consistently over $350! I slowly processed this information. Could it be that Magic has a fatal flaw? That a fat wallet is more important than a fat brain when you play? No couldn't be. After all I have seen some people with some pretty pricey decks that didn't know how to play them. And they are beat pretty easy. But still is it a game of money?

Frankly, yes. No matter how much people argue about Magic, there will be 2 classes of players. The casual and the pro. The pro spends money like water and will always beat the casual player because he doesn't. And that's why I quit Magic. As much as I love the game, if you are in either camp and don't have anyone to play with in the same camp, you're done. You just can't compete. This sucks beyond anything. But these are the cold hard facts. MTG was amazing at one time. But has now gravitated into this giant beast. A money gobbling giant beast which I feel will consume itself. Because while more and more people seem to be trying MTG out, how long till they realize it is one of the most expensive games to play. Most expensive EVER! That's where the game is headed.

So let's have a moment of silence for the best TCG of all time. Now dying a slow death on it's own megalomaniac greed. So long MTG. Thanks for being so fun for so many years. I'll burn a pyre in your honor.....