Friday, July 24, 2009

In The Groove

Yesterday it was the day when I would find out how my results might look like at the World Championships. For that we needed to head for Vienna to the closest In The Groove machine. I usually count five hours to get there.

After not so successful attempt at getting up at 6am (with the last two night with insufficient sleep) we headed to Prague with my father. I then proceeded to Hloubetin where I woke NX up. I later found out that we won't be heading directly to Austria but that we would stop in Policka to deliver a dance pad. I wasn't happy about it but why not. Our route took us to Policka, then Svitavy and then to Brno finally. From there we headed to Pasohlavky and made our stop to have some lunch, get the money from the machine etc.

I ordered a really good chicken breasts filled with ham and cheese but I did not feel well after eating it *sniff*. In the meantime I played few songs on pump. I played Mr. Larpus FS, Energizer CZ, Aliens in our midsts, Utopia CZ and some nightmares. That should be enough for warming me up? Believe me playing at 35 degrees celsius outside was really too much for me. I mean ... Energizer CZ is quite easy, but at this temperature and my body already sweating so much...(I managed to fail it, well I tripped twice in the stream at the end ...)

When our stomachs were full and everything settled we headed for Bratislava this time. We were told that the road from Znojmo to Vienna is bad one and it would take us eternity to get to Vienna. We decided to go via Bratislava which finally wasn't such a good idea after all (as it took us another two and half hours).

Eventually we finally arrived to Vienna at approx. 6 pm. In the arcades we met Mary, Alex and Leckse (another Alex^_~).

My first credit inserted and 3 songs played on doubles. I played High hard 98.27, Driving Force Classical hard 99.13 and then messed up On a day like to day 92.81. After that I tried Lors expert(98.xx), Euphoria expert (94.xx) and renessaince (68.xx). I realized that using the glass cleaner will be something that might decide whether I clear a song or not as my foot slipped while playing Renessaince and I failed it because of that. Otherwise that stepchart is quite funny. Reminds me of Mr. Larpus in some parts (and Dignity on FS).

Singles was a surprise as well. I needed to sync and see if I can still clear some elevens or twelves. I hardly played all of them even though I wished for it. First try was July as I hardly played the song since the first time I cleared it no bar years ago. Songs like !, delirium, monolith, xuxa, the beginning etc followed. I sometimes got angry because of an occasional pad miss. Especially the one on The Beginning. I was getting full combo all the way till I got few breaks (not mines) and one way off! I was pissed off I have to say---. Anyway this happened on other songs as well and it's probably better so I can see what my scores will look like with a miss here and there.

In the meantime I was looking at Mary playing and getting nice scores. I also realized why everyone is playing on Hallway!! I have to say that with Hallway I could probably do well on all those songs with crappy BPM for me like like vertex, pandemonium, energizer, lipstick kiss etc. I mean 5x Hallway is completely LEGIBLE! Ok well I never tried hallway before and I won't probably risk it at the tournament but I have to say it would save me a lot of trouble probably many times. I was also trying to figure out what I can read at what speeds. And it seemed that 130-170 should be 4x and the rest...who knows. I tried 200 at 3x no bar..and seemed to work more or less. But I'm not really sure about all this. I would a machine for that and more time to experiment with this.

After a dinner meal and some chat with Alex we decided to head home but a storm caught us on the road. We stayed at one gas station for some time and waited for the storm to calm down a bit^_~. It hopefully did and the looooonnnnggg way home started.

Thanks to everyone especially NX who got me to Wien and back in one piece^_~, to Mary as a really cool opponent, Leckse who tried to survive some songs with me and Alex with whom we had the chance to speak and see him play as well.

See you all at Worldcup guys!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Magic Alter - Black Lotus proxy

Today I was wondering what to do in the afternoon. I wanted a challenge but wasn't really sure what kind of challenge. I couldn't really move or anything so I decided to paint another Magic card. I couldn't decide whether I want to extent an art or something else. Later I came up with an idea - draw my own proxy of 'something'. And that 'something' ended up to be - Black Lotus.

I spent some time searching for an artifact card with CMC 0 and after some time I actually found one. I started with a rough sketch of some petals and some greenish/blackish background. I spent eons trying to make those petals look like petals. After that I spent ages to make the Lotus stand out and started tinkering with the background as well. After 3 hours the proxy started to look a bit like Black Lotus.

The result? Nothing awesome. I spent a lot of time and dedication on it but obviously I need to learn way more in order for the proxy to look good. Anyway after all the time it took me I achieved what I more or less had in mind and thus I consider this an achievement. I certainly learned something^_^. Hope you like it.(Not for sale)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hyperion by Dan Simmons

A science fiction book from 1989 that got the Hugo Award in 1990.

Hyperion is a planet on which Time Tombs can be found. This is the place where Shrike can be found. Some people worship this entity, some consider it the most fearsome creature in the universe. A group of seven chosen people are on a quest to meet this entity in hope that they can save the world (known universe).

The book tells a story of 6 (out of 7) pilgrims that take the last pilgrimage to the Time Tombs. Each of these pilgrims was chosen for this "mission" for a reason which we find out in the story they share with the rest of the travelers. Each of these stories is narrated in the style the book's character would use making them truly unique.

All the stories are dark and mostly make reference to things that are pretty harsh. You will find out that death is not the worst thing that can happen to you (in the first story). The stories are surely shocking and they make you think and wonder (especially about the meaning of death, religion, torture, political power, time travel and parenthood). Through the stories you will slowly make a whole picture about Hyperion and about the imminent war coming that will concern humans from the federation of planets, TechnoCore (AIs) and Outsters (genetically altered humans that fled to space believing in diversity and their own adaptation to the environment).

Personal Rating 4.5/5

Conclusion: This book is written mostly in retrospective (each story about one of the travelers) and even though the main plot hardly moves the book makes you want to read more. The story itself though is 'finished' (not everything is clear) in Fall of Hyperion (another book of 500pages).
The author was influenced by many world thinkers (mostly religious) and John Keats (a English poet from 19th century) which can be seen throughout the book and this sometimes feels awkward. What I did not really appreciate either were many love/sex scenes.

Friday, July 17, 2009

m10 draft, duel decks

Yesterday I found out that the release of m10 on Friday so it might be possible that some drafts would be held at some game stores that day. Later I found out that m10 draft is planned for Friday afternoon. I decided to go for it.

It seems that m10 is a fast set so I wanted to see how people would draft it and what would come out of it. I wished to draft something like black discard or blue control but I ended up drafting RG. I got Lightning bolt and Great Sable Stag so I had to go for these colors (at least that's what I thought would end up good for me^^). I got Stone Giant so I thought that Lightning Elementals would be sweet with this card. Fiery Hellhounds were capable of annoying my opponents quite a lot, Goblin Artillery was there to save the day and Rod of Ruin and Pyromancer showed that they can ruin the game as well. I also picked Howl of the Night Pack just because I wanted to play this card (after all two or three wolves could come handy and they did). In the mean time I was picking cards I did not want to see being played against me.

In round one, my opponent seemed to persuade all my lands to hide from me. I started with 5 cards not believing that I could do something to win the game. My opponent was playing B/W deck with quite a lot of soldiers (getting +1/0, or 0/+1 or the captain bringing 3 soldiers with him). He got 5 duresses, megrim, drudge skeletons that wanted to annoy me for some time. I decided to play all the cards before he would play mind shatter, mind rot or duress (or whatever he could have) which proved to be a good idea. After about 30 minutes I managed to get rid of all the soldiers, killed finally the skeletons with goblin artillery and waited for some creatures so I could trample through. I managed that. Second game was hopefully much faster even though it was not that fast as it could have been.

In the second match I played against R/G deck. He got the new Elf lord, birds of paradise, llanovars, overrun (for his 1 and 2 drops - few "grizzly" bears^_~, elven visionary). I got either rod of ruin or pyromancer in the game and managed to kill most creatures with it (with the help of my creatures). Goblin Artillery helped me against Trumpet Blast (otherwise it would be quite painful...I think 3 dmg instead of 11 was good, don't you think^^). Hopefully I did not see any other surprises that could turn the game.

Third game was against a blue/green control but my opponent was even less lucky than me with his opening hand. Sometimes in Magic the cards just won't come...

With 3:0 I won the draft (I got Twincast, Dragonskull Summit and Great Stable Stag)

Today I also got the chance to see the other Duel Decks. Goblins seemed to be quite fine even though they still lacked some kind of logic. Same would count for the elves. My opening hands were pitiful and when I searched for some elf with Harbinger I couldn't find any logic or sense to the cards in the deck either. I wished for some elves I could play that would support each other but they just did not manage to come in the correct order. Jace vs Chandra seemed to lack the same logic. First draw seemed like I would play an elemental deck. I got four flamekin guys that managed to do NOTHING and I got mana screwed as well. In the second game I drew flametongue kavu, 5 mountains and one flamekin. I put that in play and managed to kill my opponent with it quite soon. In the third game I managed to get the same flamekin elementals along with some other creatures. This time I got enough burn to get through opponents creatures (Fireball, Incinerate, Flame Javelin and!!! => 2x Fireblast, 1x Cone of Fire^_^).

Another surprise of the day was Martin who showed up collecting money for a cooling van for Cerny Rytir. He was asking people if they would donate few crowns for the cause. I decided to donate because I remember playing tournaments at Cerny Rytir and sweating badly (because of hight temperature and high humidity) and not being able to breathe much (because of the same reasons). Anyway I hope the people at Cerny Rytir will appreciate the fan.

And now it's time to build something for T2. Hm...Goblins, R/B Discard or B control?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Alara Unbroken - Doug Beyer

So well another entry log about Magic: The Gathering book. This I'd like to write something about Alara Unbroken.

The book title even though sounding really weird is actually pretty accurate. It describes well what happened to the plane of Alara in the past and what is inevitable for it. Other thing to note is that...well, I've read quite some Magic: The Gathering books in the past and I've never seen the name Doug Beyer written on any of them.

Nicol Bolas, a 20 thousands year old planeswalker is stuck on Grixis and wants to finally get more power to get out of that damned place. He wants to gain power from the collision of all five Shards of Alara. The collision should create a maelstrom of raw mana from which Nicol Bolas would draw power and well would do anything he likes with it.

The book consists of three parts each divided into short chapters (having the name of the shard the story is taking place at). For example Naya will be a story of Ajani Goldmane/Vengeant mostly, Grixis will be about Nicol Bolas (mostly), Bant about Rafiq and Elspeth etc. It helps you orient in the book but is not really necessary because the book itself is NOT meant for people who have no idea about Magic: The Gathering or Alara. Don't expect any descriptions about what is mana, mana burn, spell, blind eternities, Dominaria etc. You'll be presented with facts and that's about it. It is also evident that the author has no idea how to write a book and probably the book was written in haste or not edited/corrected at all. Because there are grammar mistakes, typos and punctuation is missing from time to time. The hell??

What I like about the book is its flavor. The book is more of a short story that has some quotes that are funny. I wasn't surprised when reading a bit info about the author of the book: "prolific flavor text writer and coordinator for Mtg creative text".

In overall this book won't please anyone else than a Magic: The Gathering fan (if it pleases a mtg fan). The book's text is simple and not really enriching. The quotes are funny though. You can see that the author probably has some kind of scientific (exact) background as many spells are described with 'precision' that makes you think of one specific spell. Also we are simply given facts that a mtg player already knows but which ordinary person won't understand at all...

Personal Rating: 2/5

Conclusion: Epic fail? I don't know I actually had quite some fun reading the book but I would surely NOT recommend it to anyone who is interested in a book or a good story. I gave this book the same rating as I gave to Agents of Artifice but I don't want to say that both books are bad. (read AoA conclusion). Considering this fact I would have to give Alara Unbroken something like -1.5 out of 5 (if I would have to compare the two books).
Alara Unbroken is NOT a book in my own definition of a book. Is written by someone who does not know how to write a book, does not have enough depth and does not give enough space for the characters and their personalities. (and the errors in the book!!! WotC what the hell are you doing?)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

M10 Prerelease - Create "Jarda judge" magic the gathering card

Today at the M10 pre-release the TO came up with an idea. A little design contest. We were supposed to come up with a card that would represent our judge Jarda K. We had to design it in both of the senses - drawing + card text.

There were 8 submissions. One was disqualified (thus not in the list below) and the other one missing was not really related to the judge (so I discarded it - it was my submission anyway).

I won the contest with Rightful Judge and as it seems it was the only card that showed the Judge in positive light.
(Got three boosters yay - opened Polymorh, Traumatize and Goblin Chieftain or what)

Click on the name of the card to see the submitted design.

Rightful Judge WU
Indestructible, Shroud
Rightful Judge cannot leave play.
"Damages don't go on stack" - Rightful Judge

author's note:
I should have probably use a different flavor text.
"If you see 'enters the battlefield' it's not a joke." ... Read More
"if you hear someone say "damages on" tell him that he's not playing according to the new rules or call me so I can inform the player about the new rules myself".
"you've probably read the rules on the internet. But I will go through them anyway."

The Corrupted 1BB
Planeswalker - ??
+1 Target player draws a card
-1 Target player gets 2 poison counters
-7 Target player loses the game
Loyalty counters - 4

Jarda K. 5UU
Legendary judge
Jarda K. is indestructible
If you control a plains you get a warning
If you control an island you win the gameIf you control a swamp exile
your opponent
If you control a mountain you gain any drink free in Joza's canteen
If you control a forest Jarda K. becomes an X/X creature token where
X is your age with trample and haste

Jarda the Silencer BBB
Devil Judge
2BB: Put a silence counter on each creature on the battlefield you don't control.
At the beginning of your upkeep creatures with a silence counter can't activate their activated abilities.
"He shouts and everyone becomes silent"
P/T ??

Human Warrior
When Joskator enters the battlefiled put a marketing counter on each
creature on battlefield. Whenever a creature with marketing counter
leaves play you gain 4 life.

Judge's WrathW??
Death starer??
This card comes into play with 5 warning counters on it.
At the end of yout opponent's turn, remove one of these counters. If there are no counters on the Judge's Wrath target playergets a game loss.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

WoW Raid #1 - Molten Core

Today I had the chance to play WoW TCG and well...

I thought that someone would explain me the rules of the game before letting me play it but as it seems the person considered that not necessary. In the end he was right about that^_^. I grasped the rules fast as it is similar to Magic: The Gathering. There are things that are different though.

One of them being the damages not going on stack (and there were few situations were I was actually swearing about not being able to deal damage + do something more). There's no life total of the player as the player is represented by a hero that has his own life total and ability. Instead of lands you've got resources here - be it either a quest card that can be fulfilled or a face down card you decide to use as a resource rather than what it normally does. There's not one attack phase but many of them. Each creature (allies and um what else?) can attack and these creatures attack one by one. One more confusing thing for me is that there are Abilities that can be played both as instants and sorceries but as enchantments (permanents) as well erm..quite confusing for a MtG player.

That's about it I guess? We played a Molten Core raid after few 1-on-1 games and managed to get to boss no.7 out of 10.