Sunday, December 20, 2015

Christmas EDH Tournament

note: this is more of a emotional post rather than a tournament report.

After a long while I decided to give an EDH tournament a try. Since cards that I need for my Mimeoplasm deck are being banned (Entomb, Mystical Tutor etc) I decided to finally play with a card I found really cool since day one I saw it - Tasigur. Since it is not banned (yet) there was nothing that could stop me from trying it.

When I played at some tournaments when Tasigur was new many people had this card as their general. To me the card seemed overpowered on its own and with BUG rock shell this deck seemed to be the number one choice. But I did not play that because last time I tried doing something like that (twice actually) the respective generals got banned (Oloro and Derevi). So I sticked with my reanimation combo. This time I really wanted something special, not to win but to have fun and play what I want. This also meant that I would need to play against players I don't usually play against. But since the last tournament was quite big I felt that there is a high chance that I would play against such players.

Few days ago I spent some time figuring out how the deck should look like and I wasn't really sure about some cards. In order to see how it works I created the deck on modo. Deckbuilding on modo is not the same as IRL because I don't really own all the cards I would want. So I just put all those I have there, bought the really necessary ones (Life from the Loam) and the rest I just replaced with cards I have. That is how it ended up looking like this containing cards like Complicate, Glen Elendra Archmage, Scatter to the Winds, Scavenging Ooze or Forbid. Some of the cards actually proved to be good but some turned to be 'cards to be cut'.

When putting the cards in my deck I also found out that Upheaval is obviously banned in multiplayer version. Well, the card is very strong and certainly not fun in multiplayer.

When my deck stopped showing the exclamation mark I tried to join few games or host a Commander game. Usually it went like opponent played about two spells that one of them usually got counterspelled and then my opponent conceded. I wrote 'competitive or french' in the comments field and tried again but the following games were all the same. All I wanted was to try what this deck does, but obviously my opponents knew better.

Then a friend of mine played few games against me. He's playing elves (Ezuri). I finally got the chance to finish a match and I'm very grateful for that. After the match I knew that I should be wary about my green sources and probably cut some of them since the deck is more of a UB control deck rather than BUG. Also I knew that no matter what the starting life total is it is about 6 swings with Tasigur. The sixth one being the most difficult one usually.

On Friday/Saturday night I started looking for the cards in their physical form because the upcoming tournament was a real life one. It took me over 3 hours of searching boxes full of cards and binders (my arms ached the day after ... the cards are HEAVY!). But still some cards were missing, I couldn't find them even though I knew I should have them somewhere. I always forget about some secret stash or some completely obvious source of cards I want (usually a deck I forgot that I keep sleeved up for someone else etc.) This time I had hard time finding lands and some other cards (Venser for example). Only after three hours of looking for the cards a revelation came to me...I have Holiday Cube and Legacy Cube in a paper version. Since I only own two copies of Venser that are mine it was quite logical that those two copies would be in the Cubes. And well obvisouly the lands I was looking for were there as well..actually majority of the cards I needed were there (but it is better to keep the cube whole). That's also were I found Upheaval and was realy glad for it. Because I was pretty tired and already past my 'get to sleep' time. I facepalmed myself because once again I forgot about Legacy Cube and once again I told myself that I should just take it apart because I'm not really willing to draft it after my experience on modo. Holiday Cube is just better.

In the middle of the night I went to sleep hoping to get up in few hours time.

I woke up because my flatmate got up and started building his deck from my cube. I came to the kitchen wanting to eat something but I changed my mind and went back to my bed. I fell asleep and woke up about an hour and half later - past the time I was supposed to get up in order to get to the tournament on time. I was a bit confused because I set up alarm clock on my iphone (two actually). But it did not wake me up. Then I realized why. The sound was turned off. The Android phones I had earlier even with sound turned off just turned the sound on for the alarm clock so I did not expect my iphone to act differently. Well, I panicked a bit because I spent ages with Tasigur that night and really wanted to participate. I told the organizer that we would be late and we both hurried to catch the following subway train. (I guess I could just be glad that I woke up only 25 minutes late and not an hour or more later because after those long three hours I took to put the deck together I really wanted to participate and make the tournament worthwhile. When I found out that the entry fee is 200CZK - a lot - I really wanted to get my money back - thus get a good record and win some credit since I already payed for the tournament^_^)

We arrived more or less on time. The players I really did not want to play against were not present which was pretty cool for me. I ordered some coffee and hoped to really wake up finally so I could play. I hoped to play against something less control and not blue if possible. And I guess for that particular reason I was paired against Azami player.

Round 1 (Azami)
I looked at Azami and grinned. My opponent looked at Tasigur and grinned as well. I knew that this round would not be short and that I would really need to wake up in order to win. The first game was taking ages. I did not really have much to do because all I had were lands and I was facing Vedalken Shackles and later my own Tasigur. But I hoped that discarding all the cards my opponent had in his hand would help me win. But I needed to draw something as well (notably something that would get rid me of the Shackles, then I could win with Tasigur or Creeping Tar Pit). So I managed to search for Raven's Crime and Life from the Loam. My opponent was in top deck mode but I still had nothing. And then...two Wizards were on the table and two cards in his hand. I knew that this would be the moment to click 'Concede' on modo but I decided to wait for a while if by a chance my opponent wouldn't screw up. I felt the defeat and it came hard. It seemed that at this tournament I actually wanted to win. After a series of really unlucky drafts I deserved some luck finally. It was time for me to win something. I decided to give my opponent two turns and then concede so we could finish two more games. In the second turn a miracle for me happened, he tapped out. He realized that this was not a good idea and that showed that he probably does not have Foirce of Will in his hand but it was already too late to take all his plays back. One of the cards in my hand was Upheaval waiting exactly for this moment even though I did not expect the moment to happen because I practiacally couldn't win the game. So after this happened I played it, payed for a counterspell and then finally replayed Tasigur for 8. My opponent conceded then.

After this game my brain woke up and tried to win the following games. My draw was good and certainly better than my opponents who got stuck on 2 lands for a while. His only threat being Voidmage Prodigy. But nothing could stop my 4/5 then. Even one missed land drop was what I needed in order to win.

Round 2 (Geist)
We exchanged very anxious looks with my opponent. But after seeing that the Geist player seriously thought that he can't win I started to suspect that this matchup should go well for me. I guess 4/5 can block a 2/2 all day. I kept a really bad hand though. I had Underground Sea and Wasteland as my only lands. The only spell I could play was Dark Confidant and the rest I could very hardly play. I knew that if my Confidant gets counterspelled I'm screwed. I managed to get rid of Geist the first time. I played my Confidant but the card was sent to oblivion. I tried my best to survive Geist enchanted with Steel of the Godhead and I was one turn from turning the tides but unfortunately for me my opponent top decked Acqueous Form and killed me with it. That was the second time I really wished I put Nature's Claim in my deck. After looking back at the game, if I would have won the die roll and the game would go exactly as it went I would have won the game. So my terrible 5 cards opener wasn't that bad after all? Or was it just Tasigur being that good?

Game 2 my draw was ok nothing good, but not bad either. I won this game even though it was rather close. In game 3 my opponent got stuck on three lands and couldn't produce a second white source he needed (I helped wreck his mana base since I had Life from the Loam and Wasteland) but at that time I did not know that a single plains he would have drawn could easily mean a game over for me. After he conceded he showed me his grip. Before he showed me his hand I was glad that I won but after I actually saw his hand I felt lucky that I got that Wasteland and felt a bit bad in the end about it.

Round 3 (Vendilion Clique)
Another blue deck that can even turn its general into Emrakul. That wasn't something I wanted to happen so I also grinned at this general. My opponent is a person who does not really show much emotion nor cares what others play. But this time he looked at the general and said 'this is what I would be playing if I would have money for it' (he actually said that after the match). What I wanted from my hand was a counterspell and instant removal for when Polymoprh would happen (and some lands so I could play it). At that time I did not really realize that Clique would easily get rid of that. Anyway I managed to counter the Clique few times so I was safe for a while and could try to threaten my opponent with something and that is how Jace, Vryn's Prodigy happened equipped with Sword of Feast and Famine.

When it was Tasigur's time the cards in my graveyard were quite epic. The worst card among those was Force of Will. We both knew that and I could count with FoW being returned to me each time. 'Still had all DEEZ'

In the following game I managed to get my opponent in top deck mode but then I was unable to find an answer to his Ancestral Vision. Even though mine resolved a turn earlier the cards I drew were 3 lands and Mana Leak. Mana Leak did not seem to do much but I hoped that this card would still be relevant. After my opponent drew 3 additional cards, he played Dig Through Time, Serum Vision and Ponder. After this I wasn't sure if I could win even though I had all I needed - removal spell and one conditional counterspell. But my opponent had to kill me on that turn because he was down to 2 life and I had Tasigur and Creeping Tar Pit in play. He played Proteus Staff then, animated his Faerie Conclave. I played Go for the Throat that I was saving for this moment (while almost letting Vendilion Clique kill me). He played a counterspell on my Go for the Throat but that cost him all the remaining mana sources. So I lay down Mana Leak. He checked the situation and with 'That means I'm dead' scooped.

I couldn't believe what happened (my opponent also couldn't because he thought he could not lose this game). So I was anxiously awaiting the next round expecting my first loss and that is probably why it actually came...I was pretty nervous because during the last game I made a colossal mistake. I was also incapable of concentrating on the actual game and hoped that my opponent would not play my own Clique on me since that would mean almost certain game over for me (he didn't). After I won the game I was even more nervous because I did not really deserve to win that game but it happened. I tried to pu myself together but I did not manage it till the next round started.

Round 4 Keranos
This time my opponent showed a lot of hate towards Tasigur right away but he ended up with saying that he's glad he did not play against all the Tasigurs that were present there at the tourney. I mulled to five and wondered if I can do something with a deck full of counterspells and a general I can't actually deal with. So I tried to be aggressive and kill my opponent before Keranos happens. Unfortunately the lands I had in my opener were pretty bad. Rather ...they could fetch for a dual land just fine but against a deck running Blood Moon effects and Ruination this wasn't good. Both of the fetches could only fetch for a forest. Blood Moon did not happen but I lost the game anyway (why everyone just steals my general? Yeha, because it is the best way to deal with a general...). In the second game my opponent was quite screwed but at least he had an Island in play. I on the other hand started with a mulligan into those two damn green fetchlands once again. I managed to play Tasigur before Blood Moon happened. But well I knew that 6 turns is a lot and all my opponent needed was an Island to deal with my Tasigur. He drew it unlike me (to be honest it was pretty likely he would draw it unlike in my case). I managed to draw a Swamp and tried to kill Venser that was slowly killing me but all my attemps ended in vain and I lost the second game as well.

After this I tried to finally calm down and focus on the following round I needed to win. I really hoped for something not playing blue and my wish came true - I played against Ezuri player.

Round 5 Ezuri
During the whole tournament I was the one playing second and in this case I wasn't really glad about it. My opponent though started with a Forest and passed. That was good for me. He then played Titania that I counterspelled. He tried to play few more elves but I played Tasigur and tutored Toxic Deluge in the meantime. After my opponent had finally enough mana via his elves he played all he could. Then faced the harsh reality - elves die to global removal - and conceded the game.

I'm not sure if he was tired or what but he managed to mess up a lot in both games but still even if he did what he could I would have won the match since my draws were actually pretty good and always contained a global removal (I run three which is not much, but there is so much disruption that I have time to look for it). The second game was similar to the first one. He couldn't do much. I had to do some pretty strange plays in order to save my planeswalkers and have enough resources to deal with possible Behemoth or Overrun but it was pretty easy to win.

Zurgo Bellstriker
Ever wondered if Zurgo could be vialbe for competitive play? Well maybe yes but most probably not in a field full of Tasigurs. 30 life is most probably a lot for a deck that tries to win via direct damage. If there is not enough cards an opponent cannot deal with it just can't win I guess. But those games were really fun. My opponent played Mana Barbs but the damage I could take was actually quite big and my general usually costs 1 black mana + cards in my graveyard. That's 1 damage compared to way more damage my opponent had to take to deal with Tasigur or with my life total (middle column). In this game I dealt about 8 damage to my opponent the rest damage he took was from his own Mana Barbs^_^. A turn 3 Tasigur was way too much for this deck to handle since it can hardly kill Tasigur with a single card and Deathrite Shaman seemed to be a serious problem as well (third column). Even though the games ended with the lowest life total for me that day Zurgo had hard time dealing the last 10 damage in all those games. A pity for those really liking aggressive decks and burn^_^.

After these games the tournament was over and players were slowly leaving for their homes. I was afraid to look at the standings but when I did I was surprised. There was no one winning all the rounds so I ended up with two more people having one loss. We received 1100CZK of store credit which is nice.

I decided to stay in the LGS so I could play Holiday Cube but then something else happened. Another Magic player came to the store (and saved me thus those 10 tix^^). He brought type 2 cards to sell to the LGS. He had some free time so he started to chat with us. About Magic in general, about the aspect of fun, tier 1 decks and playing Magic competitively (and the cost of it). He then wanted to go home but the earliest bus was leaving at 11 pm. We went to eat to one of the Chinese restaurants at Florenc and continued in our chat. Even though this time we talked about life and society it was very nice and my mood did not change to the pretty sour one when I start to talk about these matters with some other people. My mood usually changes fast because those people don't usually understand me and can't imagine my point of view. This person on the other hand went through quite a lot and he knows how to accept the reality and try to stay sane in it. This is something I lack but it was inspiring to hear (actually both inspiring and depressing). What he described is exactly what I need in my life but I never managed to grasp it or accept it. But he is the very first person to actually describe it with words and reason and he is right. He also looks positively on this era and seems what good it brings without being the slave of it. And if he is he accepts that but won't let that change him to be a mindless automaton.

It also seems that his fiancé is also one of the people with sense that eludes many in this society. I'd love to meet her one day.

During the evening I also got the chance to hear a story about me. A story from his point of view when we played against each other in a tournament for the first time. I was one of the unfortunate people not being able to play white at the Theros prerelease and that is the reason my record was bad. I ended up playing against someone (him) with similar record (not a good one). I won easily but I knew that this person is no silly player. I rebuild his deck and told him to play with that because I knew he could do way better than he did up till now. Then I just continued in the tournament with my crappy deck and an absense of the white prerelease promo. This tournament is one of the ones I'd rather erase from my memory but after hearing his story from his point of view I have something else to remember. How a guy feels when someone looking like a 15 year old girl beats him, rebuilds his deck and tells him to play cards one would not consider good? I can hardly imagine that but it reminds me of the differences and prejudices there are between male and female players and well all the problems I encounter in general not just in Magic. Most problems stems from the way I look but there are many that stem from the fact that I do not really behave like a girl and do not consider myself to be one. Stories like this remind me though that people still see a girl in me and treat me that way. Some may forget about that later but the vast majority does not. I'm different and it is up to you to see that. I digress now (the whole post is one big diggression) but this day was very important to me and will always be till I die. I experienced too many emotional shocks that day. From feeling lucky, feeling utterly defeated, hearing someone say that I actually play good (if I feel alright) to this kind of a story. It all leads to one thing. People see me differently. Many just don't see me who I am or the reasons behind my actions. I should see this myself and try to help others see who I really am or at least not make it more difficult for them since majority won't ever see who I am. This might be sad but that is how the society and many people are.

If you managed to read this far I thank you for reading this. It was important for me to write since there is not so many people I can talk to and I really want this day to be written in my own imaginary 'history book'.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Painting Exercise - Cat

This was supposed to be Dr. Sheldon Cooper, my parents' cat but it did not turn out the way I wanted...seems like there's a lot to figure out for me before I paint another cat...erm.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Painting Exercise - Liliana Vess

Yesterday I wanted to do 2 things. Reinstall Magic Online and see if I still all my issues persist and reinstall my tablet drivers so I can paint/draw in my flat. I started with the first because I was tempted to play some BFZ draft. MODO was so nice that it did not even want to install. After only a third attempt I managed to get it working but I was welcomed by a message that events don't run due to some issues. So I tried my luck with Wacom drivers instead. I tried running the application and settings of the previous Tablet drivers and it did not want to run. After some troubles I managed to uninstall it and I downloaded the correct drivers (twice as big?). I installed them and waited for something bad to happen...well nothing really happened. So I restarted my computer to see if that would help. While Windows was loading the tablet started to work for a while and then the Windows Install Wizard or whatever tried to reinstall the device. You can't imagine the horror I felt! Anyway after two minutes of staring at this installer ... I opened Adobe Photoshop and tried few strokes...IT WORKED!

This also means that I can use Open Broadcaster Software to capture the process of me 'painting'. Since I'm not good at drawing in general it might not be worth watching...but I personally am quite interested in how such a process will look like.

Anyway here is Liliana Vess, an attempt at something looking like a human being...^_^. Now it is time to figure out how an eye looks like etc.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Colorless vs Generic mana

Some time ago when Kozilek and Mirrorpool were spoiled (18th of November?) there was a discussion about what is the diamond shaped symbol. Many players were like 'oh sixth color!'. I, on the other hand, was like 'no, it is not a sixth color, it is colorless mana'. At that time everyone was staring at me like if I was crazy. I was probably looking at others the same way as I tried to explain that this isn't a sixth color since it will most probably just be a forcing of a colorless mana. Not many people understood, actually only one person understood what I was saying - my flatmate. (Colorless Mana - {C}, Generic Mana {number})

In the end we both were right (me vs other players). Only now I came to terms with 'colorless mana' being the sixth color even though I really don't like calling colorless mana this since it is not anything new. It feels silly, the same way I feel about Devoid creatures. Yesterday I still wasn't really sure if those creatures are colorless in all zones (their color identity was obvious, but the Devoid of color was still too much for me to accept even though both Magic Online and Magic Duels treat those cards as colorless no matter what zone they are in).

There is one thing I really do not understand. Battle for Zendikar contains creatures that give colorless mana, are colorless or devoid of color thus colorless. The diamond symbol representing colorless mana was introduced in Oath to Gatewatch though. This means that we will have to deal with the colorless vs generic mana confusion quite a lot. 'Oh, I can pay Kozilek's cost with my Eldrazi Scions?' or 'Erm, Kozilek's Channeler taps for CC, right?' But maybe this is what WotC wanted - let us deal with this in such a mess so we get used to it. Later all the cards producing {C} will have the new symbol making things actually easier.

After seeing the part of WMC coverage talking about colorless mana I stared at Basalt Monolith for a while. It taps for CCC but can be untapped for 3 generic mana. To all the Magic players being used to playing some mana rocks this is pretty clear. But even I couldn't come up with an easy example how to explain how I think the colorless mana works. Here on Basalt Monolith or Grim Monolith we see both colorless mana and generic mana. The monolith give us colorless mana that can pay for CC in Kozilek, the Great Distortion's cost for example. But the Monolith can be untapped by paying any colored or colorless mana, no matter the color (or absence of it). This also leads to another thing - the fact that all the cards producing colorless mana should have errata. This means that some Battle for Zendikar cards will need errating and with 'some' I don't even count all the Eldrazi Scions one can produce during a game of limited.

So is introducing this distinction between colorless mana and generic mana good? Yes, certainly it is because in the long run it really makes sense. We are used to say colorless when we actually mean generic mana, but a newcomer might actually look at you and ask you 'Why do you call the mana colorless when you payed GGG?'. Also and that is something I welcome more is the fact that colorless cards can be designed in a different way - avoiding something that used to happen in the past. Some of you know or remember my hate towards powerful artifacts that were printed in modern magic (that means 8th edition+). For some reason I could never come to terms with those artifacts. Now after 12 years I can actually voice why I had problems with artifacts. Take for example Umezawa's Jitte. I will digress a bit. When Betrayers of Kamigawa was to be released, it was a very cold winter. Or at least in my area. My local store was about 15 km away from my place but I could cover only 12 km by public transport. The rest I had to walk across a field to reach the town where the store was located. It was early morning, snow covered the ground and it was pretty chilly. When I got off the train and saw the field in front of me I was dazed. I was used to crossing the field alone but this time it was different. I wasn't even sure if all those people I saw on the field could fit in the store. I couldn't understand what was going on. I found it out soon after I caught up with the rest of the players. I heard all of them talking about one card - Umezawa's Jitte. Nobody was interested in anything else. This card brought so many players to the local prerelease that part of us was not let in. I was one among those people. But that is not important...

Why I tell you this story? Because this shows something. It was clear that Umezawa's Jitte would be a strong card. But one of the reasons why everyone wanted the card was its cost. The card costs 2 generic mana. That means that any deck can play it. I think that many of you can clearly remember the times when all decks were running 3-4 Umezawa's Jitte's just to get rid of opponent's Jitte no matter what deck you actually played. Those were really frustrating times and it drove me crazy sometimes. Something like this should not be happening. Some cards simply should not be available to any deck.

Now imagine the very same card but costing CC or 1C instead of 2 generic mana. All this would have never happened, right? And that is the reason why I hated artifacts. There were many overpowered artifacts printed and since any deck could play them we saw those cards way too often (now I should not write about artifacts only instead I should be using 'colorless cards').

The distinction of colorless mana and generic mana will allow Wizards of the Coast to print powerful colorless cards that won't be abused by any deck (with any I mean ALL) and thus solve this problem. Only those decks that can produce true colorless mana will be able to play them. I personally think that we will see the most colorless cards like this being played in EDH because many decks simply run certain amount of rocks generating colorless mana. If a standard deck or any other will want to play the new Kozilek the deck will need to dedicate some part of its manabase or other cards to cards generating colorless mana. Some decks though already run such lands - Urza Tron is something that produces CCCCCCC. So this deck won't have problems paying for abilities or cards requiring colorless mana.

One thing I disagree with WotC is that doing this distinction will be easier for new players. Actually it is not about new players as those will most probably figure this on their own, but players playing for a longer time will have a hard time explaining this to others or grasping that themselves. After trying to explain what I think the diamond symbol is and seeing the reactions of other players I think it will be a pretty nice mess at OGW prerelease and maybe not just there. With time people will get used to it but I can see some players not being able to figure out that they can actually pay for a certain card requiring colorless mana. You don't want to know how many times I messed my deciding game because damage did not go on stack anymore or that I could win a game by just slamming Garruk on the table and putting Craterhoof Behemoth in play. I just did not realize that I can have my own copy of Garruk in play without him dying to my opponent's Garruk.

I welcome this change even though I really have NO IDEA why it had to be now and not in BFZ or Magic Origins. Maybe it is because Devoid spells are already brain teasers sometimes. It wasn't only once that someone tried to wipe my board with Ugin only to find out that all my creatures stayed in play because they were colorless.

Note: I hope I did not mess up using 'colorless' and 'generic' in this post^_^. Note: If by a chance you are wondering what happens now in EDH (Commander) if you produce a mana of the color that does not match the color of your general's identity it will produce mana of that color not colorless mana.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Magic:The Gathering Puzzle Quest

In 2007 a game called Puzzle Quest caught my eye. It was an RPG game that used a match-3 mechanism to resolve encounters. I became very quickly addicted. A player chooses a class and then walks on a map where they complete main quests and side quests. I spent countless hours playing this game and crafting items (playing this game on Nintento DS will clearly show since the grid will be forever scratched into the surface). I wanted more games like this and later we even got a sequel for this game. At that time I had no idea how many different Puzzle Quests would be produced later on. Unfortunately none of the later released Puzzle Quest matched the quality of the original one. The quality went downhill pretty fast. Galactrix tried something new by introducing a hex grid but it simply wasn't THE Puzzle Quest.

Lately there were three different licensed games named Puzzle Quest. Marvel Puzzle Quest, Adventure Time Puzzle Quest and Magic: The Gathering Puzzle Quest (released yesterday). Starting with the Marvel one the games are free-to-play. The first free-to-play Puzzle Quest was actually ok. Adventure Time Puzzle Quest though on the other hand was more of a joke. Not only the game looked terrible, it was very poorly done. It did not even offer any kind of a story or challenging battles at least.

After experiences with the newer Puzzle Quest games my expectations for Magic: The Gathering Puzzle Quest were pretty low. I did not know how the Magic element would be incorporated in the game so I was surprised with how the game actually turned out. What I expected was an RPG game set in the Magic multiverse, but there was actually way more to it than that. Magic is a trading card game that requires a player to build a deck and that is something I did not expect to be part of the game.

The game has two modes a classic campaign Mode - Story - and a battle mode - Quick battle - in which you play against other players online. To win a battle you need to reduce your opponent's life total to zero.

Each player starts with Nissa, Sage Animist but other Magic Origins planeswalkers can be bought. The planeswalker color limits the player in deckbuilding. Only cards of the corresponding color or colors (white, blue, black, red or green) can be played in the deck. Each planeswalker has unique abilities that can be gained by leveling up. After each battle the planeswalker's hit points need to regenerate (welcome to F2P). You can either wait till this process ends or buy an instant regeneration.

A player chooses one of the Planeswalkers to play with. A planeswalker can cast spells or summon creatures. Casting spells is different from the original Puzzle Quest and it is something that really surprised me. Each planeswalker has abilities that can be used once per turn if the player has enough loyalty. Each planeswalker also has a deck of ten cards. Each turn the planeswalker draws a card at the beginning of their turn. You can choose the order in which the cards are played by simply dragging them around. The topmost card will be played first. The cards have a mana cost. In order to play it the cost has to be paid. To pay for it you need to generate mana by matching mana symbols. Each planeswalker gets different number of mana by matching 3 mana 'crystals'. For example Sorin, Lord of Innistrad is black and white planeswalker. Thus matching white or black crystals produces the most mana (6 for each 3 matched). Matching different color crystals won't produced that much mana (the number can even be negative, -1 will produce 2 mana). As in other Puzzle Quest titles matching more symbols than 3 has an additional effect. Matching four will make a whole line disappear and matching 5 will give you another turn.

Cards that can be in a deck include three different types - creatures, spells and support cards. Creatures after being played stay in play until they are destroyed. Creatures that come into play have summoning sickness which means that they cannot attack that turn unless they have an ability named Haste. The creatures are of three different types. There are creatures that attack the opponent (attackers), defenders (block opposing creatures) and berserkers (attack opposing creatures). These creatures can also have abilities. If a player knows the cards from Magic they will probably have an idea what certain card will do. Spells have one time effect after they are cast. Casting of the spell can be delayed (if the effect wouldn't do much). Certain spells target so a target has to be chosen first. Support cards stay in play and do something until they are destroyed (matched a certain number of times, they are disguised as a mana symbol).

As you can see Magic: The Gathering Puzzle Quest is actually about deckbuilding. And for deckbuilding one needs cards. These need to be unlocked and bought though (via real money or in game money one earns). You cannot buy single cards, you buy packs from which you get random cards.

Graphically the game is a mixture of high quality paintings from Magic: The Gathering and low quality graphics created for this iteration of Puzzle Quest. What doesn't help the game is the fact that animations take quite a while and while they happen you cannot do anything except wait till they end.

The game can be quite buggy at times, so sometimes you also need some patience.

For a free to play game, this game is good. Magic: The Gathering Puzzle Quest is a surprisingly good game mechanics-wise. You need to think about deck building, how to play your cards, how to match mana symbols (you can either generate mana for yourself or try to lock your opponent out of mana) and how too use abilities. Graphics-wise the game does not look good even though you can enjoy high quality illustration for Magic: The Gathering. If you are looking for a new Puzzle Quest experience and you like a bit more strategy in your games this may be the game for you since it offers more than just match-3 mechanism.

S'Tsung (stsungjp @ Twitter)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Painting exercise - S'Tsung

I tried to be productive and paint myself to see if it could possibly look like me and to learn something about how a face looks like. Maybe if I do this 1000 times I might be able to draw or paint a good looking portrait...^_^ I couldn't figure out my right arm though....Anyonce can fix that for me?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Jubeat Saucer Fulfill - CanCan EXT

CanCan was the very first song I played on Jubeat. That was back in 2009. It feels like ages ago. Since that time I never had the chance to play on anything of arcade size controller. I have played Jubeat on ipad and iphone but this cannot be compared to the real experience after which one a whole body can ache.

So yesterday a miracle happened. I had the chance to play Jubeat once again. To bring back memories of my first arcade experience I had to play CanCan. So here is a video of my shaky hands playing CanCan on Extreme difficulty.

Thanks Xsoft for taking the video.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Power Nine Challenge

Last month (EDIT: a month and few days ago...) Wizards of the Coast introduced Power Nine Challenge and I decided to take part in the upcoming events. I put together a Delver deck because simply I own the cards for Legacy Delver. Affording 5 pieces of Power seemed ...well... affordable. I went through all the cards that were on my modo account and managed to get about 190 tix out of it (out of the crap cards that is, I found out that cards like Emeria, the Sky Ruin or Windbrisk Heights actually cost something o_O, also I managed to sell Wasteland for roughly 70 tix and buy one immediately for 35 or something). All I needed the very day I decided to buy the cards was 220 tix but this went up by a hundred the day after. The Mentor deck was there in my Vintage decklists for quite some time but I did not have all the cards I needed and did not expect to get them any time soon.

For some reason there are 3 Volcanic Islands instead of Tundras and Snapcaster Mage which was supposed to be Jace, Vryn's Prodigy.

After a while I got both decks ready (I still don't own the cards but if Mentor will prove itself, I will get them). I played with both the UR Delver and the Mentor deck. I wasn't really sure if the Delver deck is/was/could be a thing in Vintage so I wasn't surprised that the Mentor deck was more successful even in my hands. It was way more difficult to pilot though so I decided to play the tournament with the Delver deck (I have more experience playing that). I knew that the state I would be in during the Vintage Challenge would be pretty pitiful (I can thank the nature for that!) so it seemed as a better choice to be beating with Insects and elementals. Few days before the challenge though I started to run into completely different decks than before. It was no surprise that Workshop decks disappeared more or less and were replaced by more artifact Time Vault decks. Against these, Null Rod/Stony Silence running deck should be better.

The surprise to me though were Grixis Thieves deck variants. It probably has something to do with the fact that these decks performed well in the last Vintage Challenge. My results with Delver got even worse but I still decided to play this deck because I have certainly more experience with playing Delver than Mentor. The primary reason why I chose this deck was that the Delver deck is more consistent and Null Rod does not kill it. I couldn't figure out how to beat a deck that starts with Key+Vault combo and if that goes awry puts Sphinx of the Steel Wind into play (Consecrated Sphinx is not particularly nice either) and if that even does not work just plays Yawgmoth's Will and casts Voltaic Key again. To deal with this I added 3 Swords to Plowshares to the deck because Bolts just can't beat cards Sphinx of the Steel Sphinx. This way my deck had to play a bit more white so I added Stony Silence and Rest in Peace to the sideboard (instead of Null Rod and Grafdigger's Cage). This seemed to help but still tournament practice is far from tournament play I guess^_~. Among real competitive Vintage deck I encountered decks that were anywhere between old time legacy decks to standard decks with power nine. Some cards though seemed good in Vintage even if they came from Standard. One of those cards is Jace, Vryn's Prodigy. That is not a big surprise and I wrote about it earlier. The second card that surprised me (if I don't count Seeker of the Way dealing lethal damage to me) was Dragonlord Dromoka. Facing this in Standard is not a big deal (unless one plays mono red burn) but when this showed up on the stack during a Vintage game I slowly started to realize how much this card screws my deck...and not just my deck. Any Blue deck.

With all those information and experiences from previous games I looked forward to the tournament. I expected to do pretty bad but I wanted to gather more information and see how competitive Vintage can look like. Because all those decks can do really crazy stuff, except the deck I decided to play with^_^ (even though I consider playing Gush crazy/broken as well..)

On Friday I woke up ill though so I wasn't sure anymore if participating would be a good idea. On Saturday I felt a bit better and tried to take care of myself. But I knew my brain wouldn't be able to think straight for too long (if at all). I spend the whole Saturday wondering if I want to pay 25 tix for a tournament in which my record would be somewhere near 0:6. An hour before the tournament was supposed to start I joined the event with URw Delver hoping to win at least one game by accident. With the moral support of my flatmate I awaited the first round.

As usual in my very first round I encountered The Perfect Storm. I lost the first game without being able to do anything. Just stared at Mind's Desire and wondered if my opponent can hit Yawgmoth's will that would 'instantly' kill me. Well the first card was Yawgmoth's Will, obviously. In the second game I seriously messed up and thus lost my chances to actually win. At this point I was still in a good mood, laughing (streaming the whole thing) and looking forward to the next round.

I don't remember much from the second round actually. I lost one game, I won another one. But in the final one I got to the point that I could win, I knew it but went all wrong. I managed to screw my Flusterstorm and counter my own copies. I guess this has never happened to you^_^. Just try doing that on purpose and you won't even be able to do that (I tried)^_^. This affected my mood quite a lot but I still I wanted to have some fun and hoped to play against something rather fair than Dredge or TPS (I've seen enough Dark Petitions for the few upcoming months^_^).

Then I played against some hyper crazy Time Vault deck. I had a good laugh but well..I lost the match anyway due to Trinishpere.

The following round wasn't any better. I played against another Storm. Then something strange happened - I won my first match! And then another one! (and also the last round as well)

In the last round I played against BUG Fish. In the first game my opponent pretty much played Dark Confidant after Dark Confidant. I really did not want any of those Bobs to stay in play. It led into a Mental Misstep fight, over one of them but fortunately for me I had Young Pyromancer in play already (and I did not really fear Engineered Plague main deck).

In game two I mulled to four and expected to terribly die. I played Gitaxian Probe to see my opponent's hand. I did not really like one particular card - Wasteland. But my land was safe for one turn since he needed to play Dark Confidant first. I was wondering if Confidant could win me the game (backed up with Delver) and this is how it ended.

In general all the games (I actually mean matches, some games I couldn't win at all) I played were 'winnable'. All I had to do was pay attention to what mana I put in my mana pool (putting White in my mana pool does not do much) and what spell I counter (I wouldn't really mess this up in real life). It would also be cool to actually sideboard in the cards I need, in some games they would help me. In some I could do without them. Two MUDs top 8ed which was quite a surprise. When Chalice became restricted everyone seemed to abandon Workshop decks to play more blue decks that can play Thirst for Knowledge (also this meant the resurgence of storm decks because in a format without Lodestone Golems and tons of Chalices of the Void the deck does not need to fear that much). On the other hand some of the players with 3:4 or 4:3 are players that I played before and they also played very strange decks so many decks can work or show up at a tournament. The tournament was really nice even though I could hardly play after midnight. I hope to participate once again in the future.