Friday, June 29, 2012

EDH thoughts...

I started playing EDH quite a long time ago. We followed the now official rules. But when I started to play Magic online via Cockatrice I realized that many people either play multiplayer games or 1 vs. 1 using the French banlist and rules. In Slovakia the players either play EDH multiplayer or german highlander and we got into disputes quite often about the banlist and non-campatibility of the decks.

This year I joined a german highlander league and build a 4 color (5cc) let's say control. This 4cc is quite fast, versatile and can beat the crap out of almost everything (except mono red with resolved blood moon - and I'm talking about the deck not me as the pilot^^). For quite some time I played only highlander and than suddenly I was asked to play EDH. I was like WTH? My deck was somewhere far away in a box. Anyway I played 1-on-1 games with my highlander adding Horde of Notions as a general. It seemed as a good choice. Good body, Vigilance, Trample, Haste and it occasionally plays Mulldrifter or Shriekmaw from the graveyard (and Lark and such). So far for 1-on-1 games it was ok. I only missed few cards one of the cards being Karn Liberated.

But then in a different store I joined a multiplayer game and this deck was incompatible. It was a really bad experience. So I decided that it is time to take Mimeoplasm out of the box and play with it.

I played with it even online and noted that I don't have it build using the French banlist. I played both multiplayer games and 1-on-1 games. In both cases the deck was doing relatively good. But I had to change my plan - I needed to be more of a combo otherwise I would soon lose. My deck was the one not having tempo but having responses to everything. But that gets frustrating (my deck is not entirely a control deck, see). Anyway I pulled off wins each time.

When I switched decks and played with my 5cc the games started to be more balanced and the lack of vampiric tutor, sol ring, strip mine and such also helped it a lot. I wasn't being called an idiot playing these cards or being kicked out of the room^^. I went through this in IRL and it wasn't nice.

After more games with the French banlist I found out that the decks are quite fast and can be pretty mean. I got killed by turn 5 in several cases. The games reminded me of german highlander but with one card that you can recursively play. My general is more like, play it once and win the game with it. That's what I had to do. Always tutored Buried Alive into Grave Titan, Skithiryx and some card that would be my second target if the first wouldn't win me the game. This was my only option if I wanted to win, my deck is too slow for 1-on-1 play in the French banlist meta.

You have some experience with these formats? What do you think about it?
I truly think that the French EDH is on a good way of being 'officialized' and I actually like it. But on the other hand it loses the charm with which EDH charmed me to begin with. But well it comes down to... a player plays a game to win it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Today (actually yesterday)I decided to take some videos of me playing ReRave. I just wanted to know how it looks like when I play. While trying to take a video of me playing ReRave I realized that this is much more difficult task than doing videos of me playing other music games like Beatmania, DDR or Guitar Hero.

At first I just sat on the sofa and tried to move the camera and ipad around to get a good view on it. But I was sitting in such an awkward position that playing became almost impossible^_^.

My second attemp was more successful. My setup follows. Just imagine myself sitting in front of the the books and playing.

It's not the best setup I could get. The camera was falling of the flashdrive, ipad was moving around (out of the scene) and the screen flipped upside down from time to time. After few tries of playing I managed to stabilize it and take a video^^. Here it goes!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Nicol Bolas defeated!

As of today I defeated Nicol Bolas Planeswalker in the DotP game. Now it's time for a more difficult mode. He played 2 Cruel Ultimatums and Grave Titan in one game and I still survived, hehe.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Duels of the Planeswalkers is out!

Well, I'm in Ravnica now. The game looks nice, had some problems managing my deck but I eventually found out how to do it. 23/23 Pridemate, 69 life and Felidar Sovereign nowhere to be found and 56 damage in one attack. That sounds like an achievement^_^. At least for a mono white aggro deck^^. I had to have bigger creatures against Garruk.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Dragon Age RPG

Photo belongs to

note: as usual I don't usually do distinction between me and my character^_^. But I guess you are used to that already

On Sunday afternoon those interested in what is Dragon Age RPG could come and play the introductory adventure in a game stored named Mephit. Some players were interested and came. We were told before that Dragon Age RPG is an easy system. All the player needs for this game is a character sheet, pen and 3 six sided dice. One of the dice should be of different color - this one is called 'dragon die' and plays a certain role in some cases.

Character creation
First what a player should do is create a character. Each character has eight abilities - Communication, Constitution, Cunning, Dexterity, Magic, Perception, Strength and Willpower. Each of those abilities has a certain number. Abilities can have a focus (specialization in something). For each ability you take the dice and throw them. You then check what the final modificater is. The modificator can be negative, 0 or positive. The maximum modificater for an ability at level 1 is 4. For that you need to roll 18 - so that's quite rare! In the end you can swap two numbers to suit your needs but you can really get wierd a Warrior with Magic 2^_^. The focuses are also chosen by random. (you also choose your race, age, weight, background etc.). This was surprise to me as I would expect the player to have more 'control' over what the character will be, especially when this is based on a CRPG where it is purely up to you how you distribute the points.

Each class can be easily distinguished. Mages can cast spells, rogues can backstab (otherwise they can hardly hurt anything with armor) and warriors can use heavy armor and weapons.

The actual system
The basic formula for actions is: 3d6 + ability score + focus bonus vs. target number. This is simple enough and is easily memorized. The dragon die plays a role in this as well. The dragon die is being substracted from the TN so it can help you a ton. It can also work as a randomizer in certain cases. It's actually a good thing.

The combat system
When combat begins you roll for initiative (3d6 + dexterity modifier). The attack roll is similar to the formula above. Light and ranged weapons use dexterity modifier and heavy weapons use strength modifier. Your attack roll is compared against passive defense. If you hit you roll for damage. Melee weapons add strength modifier and ranged weapons add dexterity modifier. During your turn you can do 1 major action or 2 minor actions. Major action is for example an attack or running a longer distance (twice your speed) or first aid to an injured ally. Minor actions are readying a weapon, activating an item, moving or aiming (you can aim even with melee attack, it adds +1 to your attack roll).

Inflicting damage is not as easy as it seems. I was playing rogue and soon I found out that I can most of the time hit my target but I hardly deal any damage. 1d6 + whatever modifier can get easily 'undone' by target's armor. If it is heavy mail (7) than my maximum damage is -1 + my modificator and I hardly roll 6. Backstabbing is the way to go, but rogue needs to make a move action and then roll a dexterity opposed check. If rogue succeeds he can perform backstab with a melee weapon. If he succeeds you add 1d6 to the damage. You can't successively target an enemy so you end up running all over the place trying to backstab. If you fail the dexterity check or the opponent just spots you, you are left with the only option of performing regular attack.

Playing rogue also brought up another question and that is about dual wielding. I couldn't find much about this in the rules but as this is one of the abilities you can have. D&D treats this relatively well and many other systems as well but here I could hardly think of anything. My rogue would surely want to dual wield (Short Sword + Dagger) and that could actually help with dealing more damage but how this would be treated (each weapon seperately with its own damage rolls, hmph)?

So here is the thing that makes the system stand out with something finally. While in combat it may happen that you roll 2 same numbers. If you do you get stunt points equal to your dragon die roll result. These points then can be used to perform stunts. This can be anything from piercing armor (halfing down the armor's stat), disarming, inflicting more damage, attacking 2 enemies at once etc. That's for those who fight. There are stunts also for spellcasters that allow you to cast one more spell, reduce the spell's cost to zero, increase the power of the spell, increase damage caused by the spell etc. Stunts can be really dangerous.

After playing the introductory adventure
When we started we asked the demon about the 'Dragon Age' and what year it actually so we could place ourselves in the timeline. He was unable to answer and that is because the book simply does not say so and does not give much information about the setting whatsoeever. After few told passages by the GM I started wondering why Dragon Age should be a dark fantasy. To me it seemed rather generic fantasy setting. Dark in the sense of brutal 'British' medieval period but that's not something I would consider 'dark'.

When our party left the Arl's castle and I saw Alenka drop a gold coin this rather confused me. I tried to figure out why she did it. She could have done that to see if we are corruptible or too honorable for something. This stroke me quite hard because this was suggesting that the scenario will be more about moral problems than beating creatures. But the adventure ended up a bit different than I thought. GM told us few things and let us speak with few NPCs, then we were on our way and first encounter with enemy happened. After an hour and 40 minutes of trying NOT to die we managed to slay the darkspawns. During the combat I realized that there are things not really explained in the rules. We did not use square/hex grid to see how we can move. We were telling the GM how we move. We knew the relative speed of the enemies so I knew that I can shoot twice till they will be on me. But then as a rogue I should really know where who stands if I want to move somewhere and backstab someone. It was fine in the end but I can't imagine inexperienced GM to solve this easily, especially when there are many characters for the GM to handle. Otherwise trying to come up with a combat tactic was rather useless as the rules don't simply count with that. GM can divine rules for that.

When we were searching the wagon we discovered a strongbox with coin inside. I was wondering if a rogue has a skill like lock picking ot anyone can try to open the box. Our mage tried by force but was not successful, my dexterity roll of 4 did not help much either. So can anyone try lock picking if he was never taught how to do it? Not to mention the lack of tools. Any general rules for skills (focuses) that you don't actually have? I was quite confused as I'm rather used to heavy skill/feats systems and this seems more random and generic. Many items players would want are missing so that was quite surprising.

During our session we had a small break and in during it we had the chance to peek inside the box set contents. We were also told that there is no usable bestiary and that no rules are given for creating a creature. Nothing like challenge rating either. When going through the GM stuff I also noticed lack of setting description, timeline, items etc. There's not so much you can learn about Ferelden (geographically, historically...stories and legends etc). That's quite sad if you would like to use this setting for an RPG.

But in general the system is simple and easy to grasp. The combat can be fun and requires cooperation. The introductory adventure felt more like walking from point A to point B to see a cutscene, beat some creatures and go on. I was trying to figure out where one could role play (except asking obvious questions and introducing).

The box set
The Dragon Age RPG is being sold in three box sets. Each set is for certain level of characters. The first on being for level 1 to 5. The second one for 6-10 and the last one os for levels 11 to 20. Each box set contains Player's Guide and Game Master's Guide. In addition there's dice and some other stuff you might need (map of Thedas?^_^ at least of Ferelden). The GM's guide also includes introductory adventure.

Overal the design is ok, sometimes a bit messier but otherwise it keeps its quality. The cover though is not that good. A really bad one in my opinion. If it would keep just the 'Dragon Age Dragon' I'd be happy with that. Especially now in this 'age' where less usually means better.

Other comments?
The game system is good and is easy to grasp. This can bring many new players to the world of paper-based RPGs. As you level up things get better even for more experienced player. The setting is nice and is not that strange as some fantasy worlds can be which can help recruit more players. It is quite 'A song of fire and ice'-ish which is now quite popular and that can help as well. So I hope that Green Ronin's Dragon Age RPG will become popular. I look forward for a book with more detailed setting and bestiary or at least some better guidelines about monsters in general.

I have to thank Sparkle for organizing the open gaming and our Game Master Vojtech for letting us play the introductory adventure from the quickstart guide.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

UltraPro Non-Glare Pro-Matte

I usually buy Dragon Shield sleeves or KMC Tournament sleeves for my decks and I plan to continue in doing so. When I want something cheap and quick I get Ultra Pro Standard Deck Protector sleeves. These sleeves though are not of a good quality. Corners bend fast, any dirt and sand scratches the surface. During one tournament I was asked to change my sleeves due to this (the sleeves were new). Also the sleeves are transparent and you can see the back of the card. That wouldn't matter much pre-innistrad but I have 4x Huntmaster in my deck and I don't really like using checklists. Also my experience is that the cards are not really protected. After one tournament and not using perfect sizes the cards usually scratched and show wear. That's not good.

At a new game store that emerged in Prague lately I bought two packs of UP None-Glare Pro Matte sleeves though as they were of the same price as the Standard ones. I did not expect much from the sleeves. Anyway the first time I took one of the sleeves in my hand I realized that they are really matte (and the surface is different). Not that I would care about that, I don't care if I see my cards clearly or not (already having cards in perfect sizes makes them less 'clear'). The second revelation was that the sleeves are even smaller than the Standard ones. Both packs I got were smaller compared to the Standard ones that are supposed to be the same size so I expect all the sleeves are of this size. Since that moment I knew that sleeving my cards would be a challenge as all of them are in KMC perfect sizes. It was tough but the cards are sleeved now. Shuffling is much better, the sleeves don't stick much but they are still pretty fragile. But in overall they are much better than the standard ones and feel way better in hand. I also tried using the UP Pro-Fit sleeves and tried to put such sleeved cards in the pro-matte sleeves but it was really difficult even using the same method I use with Perfect Sizes. The Pro-Fits are slightly bigger and thicker than perfect sizes and also differently 'put' together....well simply NO to these sleeves.

I know that the photos don't say nor show much and could be easily forged. But seriously the Pro-Matte sleeves are fully opaque! And they are really smaller...sad story. (for this reason I have fifth huntmaster and third garruk extra so I can use that one as the flipped card. I'm not going to be using checklists and I'm not going to be getting the cards out of these sleeves... - too much of an effort is needed for that)

So this time I have to say that Ultra Pro has done something right.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Reason why I should play Karn Liberated

There are games in which I really miss the possibility of having a card that can exile a permanent from the game. This was one of such games. I always tell myself that I should play Karn Liberated but the card is too expensive and the games most of the time end earlier. So I always decide against playing that card. T4 Tron was too much for me. The games were fun though.