Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Today I decided to play a bit of Jubeat. I wanted to get A or S on all Extreme difficulties but well there are few songs that I can't really score quite well.. they share a level 10 difficulty. One song was showing me rank D since I actually started playing this game on ipad. That song is Evans. I managed to clear most tens on my first try but this one even after a 100th time I just couldn't pass (I most probably did not play it that many times). Anyway my problem with Evans was that I just couldn't read it well enough to be able to pass it.
I spent the last week by playing Beatmania IIDX. I needed something to play to ease the stress from sending Magic: The Gathering orders to people who try to complain about everything. It's not really that bad, but some cases really upset me a lot and I don't have the energy to deal with it. But to be angry is good for bashing some buttons^_^.
So today after Aing some level nine songs (this time I speak about Jubeat) I realized that I play with a certain ease I did not before. So I tried playing Evans...
Sunday, October 13, 2013
Without any prior experience with Theros draft I expected to end up last. Anyway being top 8 in all this means drafting for free and getting some other free booster packs (prizes). So I came to this draft with the intention of having fun.
Before the event started we played a round of Planeschase and I have to say that it was quite fun. I played a zombie deck and had Shepherd of Rot in play. I let us lose some life. Later I had to stop doing that otherwise I would die. After few turns of drawing land I decided to play Phyrexian Arena, hoping that I would draw Consume Spirit and kill the rest of the players with the Shepherd. Anyway this did not really happen as I drew lands and yet another 2 lands etc. In the meantime two affinity decks had quite a big board presence and the last player playing Devour for Power deck also had quite a lot of tokens and some HUGE creatures. One of the Affinity players decided to threaten this player and thus was eliminated from the game by him - he cast Fling on his 16/16 or so creature. It was up to me to do something I drew Ascendant Evincar killing majority of the tokens in play. In the meantime I was being attacked by one flyer each turn. When I was at 2 life the Devour for Power player decided to alpha strike choosing me as the target. The affinity player played a card that forced the attacker to sacrifice a creature, this allowed me to block everything and not lose a single life (as that single life loss would kill me during my upkeep). I blocked 12/12 trampler with all I had chumping the rest with the remainder of the creatures (minus 1 creatures). And finally this time...I drew one card...being at 1 life...it was Consume Spirit...drew another card ....it was Profane Command. So I won in the end ^_^ (I would win even without the help).
Top 8 Draft
After this we started our draft. My first pick was Stoneshock Giant. This pretty much decided what I would be playing. I liked my first pick but the rest of the first pack was catastrophic. My second pick was Magma Jet which I did not really want to pick..but well. Later I picked Satyr Hedonist, Spark Jolt, Minautaur Skullcleaver, Hunt the Hunter, Warrior's Lesson and Savage Surge. I also got some off color cards ofcourse but these were possibly cards I could play.
I pack two I picked Erebos and passed the rest. The following picks weren't stellar either, actually they were but in Black. So I thought that I could switch. When it came to the sixth pick I finally got to some cards I could play - I picked Centaur Battlemasters, Karametra's Acolyte, Nylea's Disciple.
I hoped that in pack 3 I would get my keycards and actually I managed to get cards I wanted. I first picked Voyager Satyr over Anthousa not entirely sure if this was good idea, but I really needed the satyr and my 5 mana slot was already pretty crowded. Then I got Nessian Asp, Nemesis of Mortals, Titan's Strength, Spearpoint Oread, Leafcrown Dryad etc...
I ended up with this deck...
Hunt the Hunter
Ordeal of Nylea
Agent of Horizons
2x Centaur Battlemaster
Nemesis of Mortals
In round one I played against a stalling deck with Sedge Scorpions, Baleful Eidolon and such. I didn't mind as I had Stoneshock Giant anyway. I played my creatures and passed the turn. I when I had about 26 power on the table I made the giant monstrous and killed my opponent. In game two it wasn't going that well. I was drawing lands for a really long time and my BIG Centaur Battlemaster was killed by Sip of Hemlock. My opponent also started playing bigger creatures and started attacking me. My other creatures were small so I had to chump block or trade. I was still drawing lands. When the time was called I had three attacks to survive. I survived the first two...but in order to survive the last attack only one card could actually help me - Boulderfall. After drawing lands for like 40 minutes and being down to 1 life I finally top decked the card I needed - Boulderfall!!!
In round two my opponent started attacing quite early with 2/3 minotaurs and such. But I survived till I could start playing my fatties and that worked. I somehow survived the second game as well.
Since round 3 everything went wrong^_^. In this round I played against the winner of the draft. His Horizen Chimeras were really annoying. Life gain and bounce were not good for me and I died quite soon. Round 4 I played against a boros deck that I could possibly beat. But ideal hand from my opponent was simply too much. Hammer of Purphoros is what killed me the last game. I just couldn't cope with that. In the last round I played against Izzet tempo deck....No idea what I could do against that. Just die I guess^_^.
After this we got our prizes. I got 4 booster packs and opened 3 mythics in it and I wasn't the only one. Two other players had more than 1 mythic in their 4 or 8 packs. Quite insane^_^.
Time for a cube draft came after this. This time my first pick was Oblivion Ring. I was deciding between Raging Ravine and Oblivion Ring and finally picked the Ring. The rest of the pack was mostly for combo and I did not want to play that. In the pack I was passed I got Treetop Village. There were some counterspells and some other cards I would prefer more but nothing striking. Then I gor Master of the Wild Hunt so I started that I could be picking some Gx midrange cards. But no...I was passed Silverblade Paladin, Mother of Runes and Thalia so I started picking weenies.
In the second pack I wasn't getting any weenies so I started picking different cards. I picked Sorin, Lord of Innistrad, Go For the Throat, both Gideons, Doom Blade and some aggro creatures
In the last pack I opened Jitte so I picked that. Then I got Baneslayer Angel o_O. I got few more creatures, Glorious Anthem, Mirari's Wake and that was about it.
My deck was quite a mess but a playable one.
In Round 1 I played against something I had no idea what it was actually. It had majority of the combo cards there were in the packs but I won both games without being able to see what the deck could possibly do. In round 2 I was paired down and played against Mono Blue Control. That was not a deck I would want to play against. I won the first game pretty quickly as I managed to draw my aggressive part of the deck. The second game seemed pretty bad for me till I managed to resolve Baneslayer Angel that tried to race my opponent with Batterskull in play. That relatively worked till my opponent played Keiga which ruined my game. In game three everything was simply wrong from the beginning till the end but it was Miscalculation that killed me^^.
In the last round I played against the winner. He played midrange Jund. In the first game I managed to kill him with Gideon, Champion of Justice as this was more difficult to deal with than my creatures (those were dying quite soon usually). In the last game it was Gideon Jura that won me the game as I did not need to care about Sword of War and Peace attacking me each turn.
It was fun^_^.
When I got back home we played all common. Me playing Wee Friends (actually Nivix Cyclops, Kiln Fiend and Delver) against my ZEN block Vampires. It was fun as well. Both decks could win even though that the Izzet deck uses cards from more sets. Well, the black deck has quite a lot of removal and discard so it can deal with ocassional creatures...but it can also die to one single attack.
It was a really long day ...but full of Magic and fun.
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Every now and then (more like every two years) changes are made to the rulebook and the wording on the cards changes as well. But usually the changes made even bigger mess. This time with Ivory Edition the changes are much bigger and this time they finally make perfect sense (even though I don't like changes, especially big ones). (And by the way...graphically and artistically the sets are awesome. That is my opinion but I like this change...especially when all the games try to have so digital looking and hyper-'tech' feel to everything)
We no longer will be seeing 'Bow this card' written on it but there will be an icon representing this. Costs will finally be distinguishable right away and all cards will be playable and not restricted ONLY to a certain keyword. Keywords that actually DO something are in bold now. Followers no longer have Honor Requirement. There are big changes in rules as well though..like gold produced by a holding or stronghold can be now divided as we wish. No more Border Keep (we can still take mulligan) and Bamboo Harvesters and once again 5 cards on our opening hand. Equip as an open action (WTH?? but it makes perfectly sense after playing the 'imaginary' Romance of the Nine Empires game I can tell...). Clan discounts are gone...we'll just pay what is printed on our clan personality. Thus proclaim changes and off clan personalities simply cost 2 more. Two sided strongholds (one for going first and one for going second) and only ONE per arc. To diversify we can add a sensei to our deck. These aren't mandatory but well surely we'll choose one. And wait that's not all. Straighten Phase, Events Phase and End Phase are gone, so Events with Limited action will be actually something normal. Celestials and Regions also gone (that's why they don't have Ivory Bug now). Fortification Holdings are going to be reintroduced though (alongside the Sensei card).
Finally someone made a 16 card booster packs that will contain the stronghold needed for drafting (EACH PACK will have it) and the way the cards are designed now...there won't be that many dead picks as before. There are many changes that I like and now finally the cards are not a complex wall of text. Now a player can concentrate more on the game itself then math and reading skills.
The power level was brought down much more than I expected but that also means that there will be more diversity (hopefully). It seems to me that many decks were just killed (at least Blitz and ecowarfare) but I see where the designers are going (it feels much like Modern in Magic, at least it felt). If this brings new players to the game I'll be glad. L5R is a very good and solid game but needed to be redesigned to be more understandable and easier to teach and those are finally the changes that can achieve this. I hope that from now on the rules won't be undertaking big changes and will keep to this. It looks very promising. Hopefully "R&D" will test their ideas and cards in both constructed and limited so what happened in the last arc (I mean the current) won't happen once again. I have no idea what made AEG to open their eyes (Gamers 3?) but it was about time for this changes to come.
When Ivory Edition comes out I'll probably get some starters and a box and try to start anew. But for that, one needs other players to join. I hope that Ivory Edition will be a new start and new players will grab this and start enjoying this wonderful game and become part of the awesome L5R community that is already here.
Now I'd like to share a documentary done by John Harkless. YouTube proposed me to watch this video for some reason so here I propose you to watch it as well. It is about L5R community.
And here's a much shorter video of our L5R community (this is not a documentary).
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
For several weeks I wanted to come up with a custom playmat. I wanted to draw/paint something I'd like but I just couldn't come up with an illustration I could use and I'm not good that good at drawing myself...But well something original would work as well but I couldn't come up with that either. So I was deciding between Kratos in a dashed style, Liliana of the Veil or Snuff Out Liliana. There were other possibilities as well. For few days I wanted to do a Legend of the Five Rings or Romance of the Nine Empires playmat but again I couldn't decide what I would like on the mat. I really like Shadow's Talon illustration for example but it's not something I would want on my mat. I'd rather have there some personality I like to look at (like Kachiko for example) or like (Agasha Kokiden).
I started browsing Legend of the Five Rings personalities (images) randomly... and this personality showed up.
This card is really out of place...it reminds me of Planar Chaos in Magic: The Gathering but well with sets named Coils of Madness and Gate To Chaos..what to expect? Anyway I really like this personality and I also like the art. So I tried drawing that myself...Well as expected it did not end up looking as beautiful as the original art but in general it does not look bad^_^. Thanks David Horne for painting Kuroko. I really like the art.
Monday, October 7, 2013
At the annual Board Game event in Prague I got the chance to try this game out. There wasn't anybody around who would explain the game so I just grabbed it and started reading the rules.
Lord of the Rings LCG is a cooperative game by Fantasy Flight Games and it's been around for a while (two years). This game can be played either solo or cooperatively with 1 to 3 players. The main objective of the game is to complete all the quests in a scenario. If a player reaches 50 threat level or loses all his heroes he is eliminated from the game. Each player has 1-3 heros at his disposal. Each turn each player gets some resources (including one card) and his threat level is heightened by 1. Resources can be spend to play either allies (that help mainly in combat), events (one time effects that can be played more or less anytime - when the card says that is) or attachments (equipment). After this heroes can commit to a quest. This is very important as this is the only way how to progress in the game. The will power of commited heroes is then compared with the threat level of all cards that are in 'the staging area' (when players commit one new card from encounter deck per player is placed in the staging area). The difference is either added on a location/quest (if heroes) win) in the staging area or is added to the threat level (if threat level is higher). If they commit to a quest they become exhausted (tapped) and cannot fight. Readied (untapped) heroes can defend or attack or use other abilities. Heroes can also travel to a location. That is needed because if there is a location in play the counters from the questing are put there (instead of being put directly on the quest). If a hero travels to the location he can explore it (if the number of quest counters reaches the number that is printed on the card the location is explored and then discarded). This more or less describes what happens in a turn.
From this you can see that there are all kind of resources that you need to manage and mainly it's about the heroes. Almost each action requires a hero to tap which means that the hero cannot do anything else till the end of turn. Heroes also generate points that can be spend to play cards, thus if one dies it will hurt your deck in more ways. In a multiplayer game the roles can be divided - mostly by spheres. Because one sphere is good for questing but can hardly fight. That is the reason why you can decide to let your heroes attack enemies (before checking which enemies will attack whom). This requires quite a cooperation from the players but if you are going to play with the core set preconstructed decks you'll see this quite soon.
There are four spheres of influence - lore, tactics, leadership and spirit. By choosing heroes of one of these spheres a player decides what kind of flavor, play style etc his or her your deck will have. Not to mention the fact that choosing heroes from different spheres of influence limits the player (as playing cards from your deck will be a harder). This box (Core set) contains 226 cards from which a custom deck can be build. The box contains 3 different scenarios. One is introductory and is relatively easy (if played in a two player game and you choose 2 spheres of influence that support each other - thus you have enough will power to quest and enough 'attack power' to beat enemies). The other two scenarios are more difficult (difficulty level 3 and 7).
I did not spend much time playing and exploring this game but one thing is clear. Playing this solo can be pretty difficult. Certain spheres are more or less incapable of actually gathering enough will power to win in the questing phase. And those who actually can gather the power die in combat. This probably is good because this forces the player to build his own deck that contains cards and heroes from two spheres. In more players this game should be easier as players have access to a wider variety of stats and cards. Still if you get stuck at one point and you start getting more location in the staging area the threat level can be getting higher quite fast.
Even after the first game it seemed to me that this game can become pretty repetitive and that is also an incentive to buy new Adventure Packs. These contain 60 cards including new quests for players. Another thing that we are used to already is that some cards can be found only once in the core set. So if you want more of them you need to buy a new box. If you want to build a solid deck from two spheres you need to get a second copy of the core set. A deck has to contain 50 cards, and is limited to have a card in 3 copies maximum. The PCDs contain 30 cards. If you have only one box you basically take all of the cards of the corresponding spheres and set aside five from each sphere (or well just you won't be playing 10 cards from no matter their sphere of influence). Not much of a deckbuilding...
The graphical design of the game is pretty neat and it is an original design. Thus no movie rip offs or based on it. This is a nice change I have to say but it also made it a bit confusing sometimes because I could not distinguish an elf from dwarf^_^. The counters and other stuff in the box is nicely done and the quality is higher than I expected.
The game is actually quite complex which I did not expect for a cooperative game. I'd rather play this game alone because I could focus more on deckbuilding and figuring out how the game works. But that's my take on the game. I'm not really into cooperative games.
Sunday, October 6, 2013
I played my BUGw aggro/control and was ready to keep the deck the way it is. But due to the banning I might reconsider. Even though that Natural Order does not play a major role in my deck the card is simply too powerful and thanks to it I won few games. Even though in the first game it was completely useless and in the second one I lost the remaining two games so it was useless as well in the end^^.
Anyway in round 1 I played against aggressive mono black. Few zombies showed up and my life total went down pretty quick. But I was able to deal with the little creatures and win. In game two I was pretty lucky. I played Noble Hierarch on turn 1. Later in the game my opponent played Thoughtseize on me. I couldn't counter it but I had Brainstorm so I played it so I could safe Vindicate and Mana Drain for later. I did exactly that and showed my opponent a hand with Karakas, Wasteland, Qasali Pridemage and Enlightened Tutor. The discarded card was Qasali Pridemage...I was wondering what would come up next... it showed up to be Contamination. My top card was actually Vindicate, I drew it, played a land and destroyed the annoying enchantment. My four color deck is not really happy to see such cards. After this I tutored Sword of Feast and Famine and the game ended soon after.
In round two my opponent played Duress on me on turn 1. My only plan for the game was to play a mana dork, play some Sword on T2 and attack a turn later. But Duress ruined my plan. I got flooded but my opponent had similar problem. He had a lot of cards in hand but wasn't playing anything (it was all removal and lands). My Lotus Cobra was targeted twice with a removal spell. Next creature I played died as well. But then I drew Natural Order, found Primeval Titan and some manlands so I could end the game with them if Titan wouldn't stay in play. In game two it seemed I would lose at some point. But from there we both were drawing lands and nothing else. In the meantime I drew Path to Exile and Memory Lapse that should give me time. I played both cards on Protean Hulk and then soon after I top decked Dark Confidant. My opponent couldn't deal with it and that cost him the game quite some time later. At 13 life that I lost due to my own cards and effects I started getting lands of Confidant and nonland cards from draw step. Those were Aven Mindcensor, Restoration Angel, Phyrexian Metamorph, Thragtusk and bunch of other creatures that couldn't attack (as there was also Thragtusk and other creatures on the other side).
In Round 3 I played against my own deck. It was Naya aggro build from my Cube before the tournament. As there was another deck build from my Cube this deck lacked Swords to Plowshares and Path To Exile but played more burn instead of it. In the first game I mulled once and kept a hand with fetchland, one mana dork, Natural Order and 3 black cards (and one white). I top decked lands in those following turns so I played NO on my third turn again fetching Primeval Titan. I won soon after. In the second game my hand lacked any creatures that could attack and I simply lost. In game three my opponent showed me a hand with Koth, Boros Charm, Incinerate, Flinthoof Boar and Stomping Ground. Goblin Guide and Loam Lion were already on the table. That was not good...
In the following round I wasn't really happy as I played against elves and with no global removal...what can I do? Anyway I played Sword of Fire and Ice on t2 and then I was attacking with it each turn always killing one or two elves. My attackers were also mana producing creatures so they usually died in the combat as well. But I had enough of them. Later Garruk showed up on the other side putting Beasts in play. Those were annoying I had to send one to exile so my attacker (Geist of Saint Treft) would't die but he died anyway. The Angel managed to deal with Garruk though so everything looked good. Soon after I won.
In game two I countered Lightning Greaves as this card could really kill me anytime. I was watching as my opponent played elf after elf..having Elvish Harbinger and Elvish Visionary in play (with Wirewood Symbiote). So I bet everything on Lingering Souls. I played those as early as I could and hoped this card could win me the game. I played all the creatures I could and kept on my hand two counterspells - Mana Drain and Spell Snare. I was saving Spell Snare for Wellwisher and Mana Drain for any real threat. When my opponent cast Chord of Calling for like 7 mana I had to counter that. Later when my opponent was down to 2 life, he tutored Wellwisher and I countered it with my remaining card on my hand - which was the mentioned Spell Snare. (I would be dead if he would tutor Ezuri I guess even though I tried to have as many creatures on the table and keep my opponent out of mana - like killing Elvish Archdruid and similar creatures)
After this I was rewarded an opponent piloting High Tide. Hopefully he missed some land drops and couldn't play Gauntlets of Power soon enough. I played discard on my opponent discarding High Tide. Later on I countered one desperate Turnabout and won soon after. In game two I tried to have a good hand but it ended up as not really that good. I drew Thrun though and then I was waiting for quite some time for the fourth land. Helm of Awakening though was helping me play my own spells even though I was colored screwed (I lacked White and Black). I was trying to play as many threats as I could to keep my opponent tapped and play some counterspells to do the same. Forcing my opponent to tap lands worked well for me as Thrun managed to deal the remaining 8 damage.
Five rounds passed quite slowly for me and I was hungry so I left to get something to eat. When I came back I found out that I placed third. I guess I did not really deserve that but well...probably my deck wanted to tell me not to stop playing Magic as that's my plan for the upcoming months.
The tournament was really nice though. It was lots of fun and even talking about the games with my flat mate was fun. We both had a great time. Unfortunately this brought us to discussing power level of cards in SolForge later. I really hope Stone Blade will do something with that...
1 Avacyn's Pilgrim
1 Aven Mindcensor
1 Baleful Strix
1 Birds of Paradise
1 Dark Confidant
1 Deathrite Shaman
1 Edric, Spymaster of Trest
1 Elves of Deep Shadow
1 Eternal Witness
1 Fauna Shaman
1 Fyndhorn Elves
1 Geist of Saint Traft
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
1 Knight of the Reliquary
1 Llanowar Elves
1 Lotus Cobra
1 Mother of Runes
1 Noble Hierarch
1 Phantasmal Image
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Primeval Titan
1 Putrid Leech
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Restoration Angel
1 Shadowmage Infiltrator
1 Snapcaster Mage
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Viridian Shaman
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Kitchen Finks
1 Abrupt Decay
1 Snuff Out
1 Ancestral Vision
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Detention Sphere
1 Enlightened Tutor
1 Evasive Action
1 Force of Will
1 Gitaxian Probe
1 Green Sun's Zenith
1 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Into the Roil
1 Lingering Souls
1 Maelstrom Pulse
1 Mana Drain
1 Mana Leak
1 Memory Lapse
1 Mental Misstep
1 Mox Diamond
1 Natural Order
1 Path to Exile
1 Spell Snare
1 Sword of Feast and Famine
1 Sword of Fire and Ice
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Sylvan Library
1 Timely Reinforcements
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Breeding Pool
1 City of Brass
1 Creeping Tar Pit
1 Flooded Strand
1 Godless Shrine
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Marsh Flats
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Polluted Delta
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Stirring Wildwood
1 Temple Garden
1 Treetop Village
1 Tropical Island
1 Underground Sea
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Watery Grave
1 Windswept Heath
1 Wooded Foothills
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
It seems that in the fourth book Esselmont developed his writing style and figured a bit more something about tension. The book seemed much more solid than the previous ones (but maybe that's also because I don't remember them much).
Blood and Bone is once again...longer (around 560 pages) and much more dense. The story takes place on a continent known as Jacuruku. The western part of the continent is under the power of Thaumaturg mages and the eastern part is a huge and hostile jungle Himatan - the territory of goddess Ardata. The Thaumaturgs decide to invade the Himatan jungle and find and conquer the mysterious and famous 'city' of Jakal Viharn. While Thaumaturgs are on their way to the jungle, desert tribes unite in a unlikely alliance under the leadership of a mysterious foreign warleader (who in the end is not that foreign to this region). The (not so) last are the members of the Crimson Guard both Avowed and Disavowed.
Esselmont managed to well develop the different storylines, the characters are truly alive. The description of the jungle and the life in it is really well done even though it is much more direct than from S. Erikson. But this direct approach is something that really suits the environment of Jacuruku. Esselmont uses many references to something we already know from both his and Erikson's books. The characters in the book make discoveries of such information and that is something really nice to a Malazan Empire fan but can be pretty confusing to a newcomer. As usual there are some parts and information tossed at you that lead nowhere. But maybe one day even those will be used in a book and we might find out more.
The book even though that it is pretty harsh (and really ... some parts are really NASTY and I don't speak about the oppressive, hot, humid atmosphere there) has its own humorous moments and will certainly entertain you for quite some time. The best Esselmont book out there so far (from those I read)