29 Sep 2014

Love of Commander

I’ve mentioned in older posts my love of the Commander (originally known as EDH or Elder Dragon Highlander) play format for Magic the Gathering.
Commander 2014 symbol
by Wizards of the Coast

For those not in the know, EDH are decks of 100 cards from any set with a limited banned list. Each deck has only one of each card unless it’s a Basic – Land (i.e. Islands, Swamp, Plains, Mountain, and Forest) and one of the cards is removed from the deck to act as the ‘Commander’. Games tend to be a bit longer as each player has forty life points to start.

The commander is where the focus of the is centered. The commander must be a Legendary Creature. The commander can be cast from the Commander Zone to enter play. If the Commander is removed from play and sent anywhere but their owners hand, they return to the Commander Zone to be once more cast but with an additional cost of two colourless mana per incident. The commander also limits the type of mana a player can generate. The colour types in the cost of the commander are the only coloured mana generated, any other coloured mana is made into colourless mana. Last but not least if commander does 21 or more damage to a single player that player is killed no matter their life total.

You can play with most of the cards ever printed and the single copy of each card prevents any type of overused spam or broken legacy combos. It promotes lots of rare cards that don’t get used because of the cost to pick them up. Lucky for players of EDH, you’ll only ever see one copy – making it much more easy to swallow pocket book wise for players who are not wanting to dump buckets of cash into Magic the Gathering.

Wizards of the Cost jumped on the format and has since released three products for Commander; 2011 they made up five pre-built three colour decks, 2012 they published Commander’s Arsenal a limited set that came with every card In that set, and in 2013 Wizards released another set of five pre-built three coloured decks.
Commander's Arsenal by Wizards of the Coast
Also sells between 300-500 dollars - US dollars!
Now we wait for November’s release of the five pre-built mono coloured Commander decks.

26 Sep 2014

Mass Effect Journal - 09

It's been nine weeks of fighting. Nine weeks of entering into the world of Virgil Shepard.

Nine weeks leading to this -

The end of Mass Effect and the start of the greatest video game role-playing game trilogy of all time.

Ilos has been found. Saren is moving towards his end game. Virgil Shepard is near the end of his quest to stop Saren, the Geth, and Sovereign the Reaper here to kill us all.

As the SSV Normandy SR-1, sped towards Ilos the team had some time to deal with the very possible one way trip.

Shepard decided to share a few moments with his crew, his team, and someone who had become close to him since the start of this adventure.

Liara is special to Shepard.

She has been searching for clues of the past all her life. She turned on her mother to help save the galaxy and in those actions, lost her only family. She like Shepard is alone. Together they have trained and become an effective team. Her biotic abilities are hard to beat and she support Shepard in the fight better than anyone else he's gone into a fight with.

They have shared those feelings with each other and through those shared experiences they have come to appreciate each other and have come to care for each other.

She has changed his world. She has shown Shepard to keep that open mind. She has gone into his mind time after time and seen only the inner most thoughts and feelings that no one else can experience.

Shepard is a guarded man and no one has been able to stand next to him in his self-imposed martyrdom.

Liara has and she's stuck with him.

25 Sep 2014

About Khans and Clans

So I did the pre-release for Khans of Tarkir.

Khans of Tarkir by Wizards of the Coast
For those not in the know a pre-release consists of buy a pre-release pack and playing a seal deck format of Magic the Gathering. The pack comes with five booster packs and a seeded booster pack. The booster packs are the normal boosters that will come out the following week when the set comes out. The seeded booster is a booster pack that comes with specific promo card and the rest of its contents favor you’re pack selection, all coming from the new set.

Example: I got the Blue M15 pre-release event. I got five M15 boosters and a seeded booster. It had quite a few blue cards loaded in along with my fancy blue promo card, all of which were from the M15 set.

The event pack also comes with a colour specific spin down life counter, a fancy d20 that has the numbers in order. Some extra swag and a little info sheet or book on the set or the rules. M15 had a large format Garruk planeswalker card that allowed one player to play Garruk versus someone’s deck. It’s a neat little extra that makes the purchase of the pre-release pack that much more special.
So you have these six boosters (five plus the one seeded booster). You open the packs and make a 40 card deck with in in about 30 mins. So you look through your pool of cards, build a deck of 21-24 cards. You top up the rest with mana. Then you go play with that deck. You do have the option to swap cards out between rounds. You play and adjust as needed, but you’re only able to pick through the cards from your pre-release pack.

This demands more than being able to play well. It also forces a player to quickly build a deck with limited resources. There are times, a player will get a great pack and have excellent cards but if they are unable to build around that fantastic pool of cards they may fail even if they can play a great game.

So pre-release is pretty neat. If you’ve played a few games and you know the rules, playing a pre-release event or even a draft (another fancy format where you build you deck in store) will show you the breadth of play in Magic and it teaches you lessons about the game you may not have ever picked up on before.

So where did Khans go wrong and where did they go right?

23 Sep 2014

Inspire my Infinity Terrain - Table Top

When I think of Infinity I think of awesome looking miniatures, great crunchy rules that have plenty of breadth and depth, and terrain – the need for lots of terrain.
15mm Terrain by Impudent Mortal 

When you plant Infinity without the major amounts of terrain you feel constantly exposed, vulnerable. The feeling of cold war black ops mission gone wrong takes over from the feel of a Tom Clancy Rainbow Six mission. Playing Infinity like Warhammer 40k or like Warmachine/Hordes is simply not the way the game is played – the rewarding experience is lessened if not vanishing completely.

So terrain is a Big deal in Infinity.

Recently, Ontos and I were putting  together his 15mm terrain from his Kickstarted Backer package that his pitched into for his Heavy Gear miniatures. Once we had some of the larger buildings done and they sat next to the smaller tower, pillboxes, and scatter terrain – the table was awesome. Minutes later we were pulling his Southern Gears and NuCol Gears off the shelf and putting them next to or in the various pieces of terrain we had laid out in the table.

A well built table makes the games we play much better. We started going on about Infinity Terrain and we both research some options and the various official partners to Infinity and the non-official suppliers.

Wow what a sea of awesome looking terrain – and it is not cheap but if it makes my games that much more fun, I think of it as an investment. I also had to start thinking on what type of table I wanted to have. So I started to about things I’ve seen that would look good as an Infinity table – so I could buy and build towards that goal rather than have a hodge podge of random terrain.

22 Sep 2014

Mass Effect Journal - 08


Landing on Noveria
Geth, Cerberus, and emergencies are all done.

The crew of the Normandy must move on their last clue. Everything else has led to dead ends. Cerberus and the Geth have been stopped and they bore little intelligence to use.

Only Noveria has any clues left to search through to answer that burning question - where is Ilos?

Noveria is a corporate owned planet outside of Citadel space. As such they do not need to heed Citadel laws. Being a Spectre has some advantages but it's not the skeleton key that could be the most helpful in this situation.

So Shepard arrives and is greeted with armed hostility. Noveria is a private place and there are those who wish it to stay that way. Shepard is anathema; unclean and unwanted. Yet Shepard has seen the results of those who simply take what they need. He relents even against Garrus' advise. Shepard still needs to trust - these security guards don't know better and he has enough blood on his hands thanks to his hunt for Saren.

Saren is out there...

21 Sep 2014


My Brother, Brother Bear and his wife Sister Bear (as they are my brother and sister-in-law) had recently gone through a huge life changing experience. 

They had met Baby Bear. Their son of 5 lbs and 14 oz. 

That's right as of now the Bear Clan is no longer six, we be a proud seven. Papa and Mama Bear are now grandparents and yours truly along with Lady Bear are Uncles and Aunts - I'm the Uncle... just to make sure you're not confused. 

So welcome Baby Bear and Happy belated birthday. 


19 Sep 2014

Khans and Commanders - Table Top

Sorry for the formating issues with this post - damn kittens in tubes causing all sorts of cute issues.

So this week is the pre-release of the Khans of Tarkir the new Magic the Gathering set. Hopefully more of the new 2014 Commander set comes out post pre-release.
Acanis by Wizards of the Coast
First off the Khans;
I picked up the Khans duel deck simply because there was a new art foil version of a favorite creature of mine: Arcanis the Omnipotent. 
He costs 6 (3 and 3 blue), which is damn pricy for a 3/4 legendary creature. He can self bounce (where a card returns to it's owner's hand) allowing for some dodgy tricks, making him able to avoid spells and effects that might fuck him up at the cost of 4 (2 and 2 blue). It's costly and I'll need the mana ready at all times, but having 4 mana free as a blue player is a normal thought mid-late game. 
The real power of Arcanis is the tap to draw THREE cards.
Drop the mic. 

Grab a snack and I'll explain after the break.

18 Sep 2014

What is N3 - Table Top

With the corruption of a few pre-loaded posts due to kittens in tubes, I've had to rewrite a few posts - here is one that was due last week. Sorry again for the technical issues. - Dozer

Watch the video. 

For those of you not in the know, a few months back Corvus Beli the company behind Infinity told us that a new edition would be forth coming. Now many of the fans exploded with some rage, due to the fact that we have this thing called the internet and rage quitting is now a life thing folks have to deal with. Others who have their respective ears to the ground have been expecting this for a while, after the following post that Infinity put up in April.
Aragoto by Corvus Beli

You see they changed the official sizes of the bases for many of the larger miniatures. As I play with quite a few Aragoto who will now need to be re based... lucky for me I had already stripped them to redo the whole team of bikers I have.

Anyways... the changes of bases is the start of an avalanche of changes. Some of which have been slowly coming out thanks to the recent convention season and the folks at Beasts of War.

Lets take a look at some of the changes.

16 Sep 2014

Kittens in the Tubes!

Seems last weeks posts and this weeks posts have gone all sorta buggered up.

I'll have them fixed for Wed... I hope.



3 Sep 2014

Avatar Kora - TV

If you have not yet seen the three seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender you are missing out on some brilliant TV. Kids will love the action, animation, and story. Adults will enjoy the lack of treating the audience like a small child with no intelligence and grasp the subtleties of how the show touches on more mature subjects. 

The series deals with War, Family, Death, the Environment, Mental Illness, Handicaps, Tradition, Consequences, Violence, Honor, Friendship,  and even better growing up.

The wife loved it. 

The sequel to the original series with an older cast of characters set seventy years after the original three season masterpiece deals with the latest incarnation of the Avatar: Kora.

Now Season 3 just ended and I have to say the first season was pretty good, but each season got better as we watched Kora become the Avatar of her world. She is headstrong, rebellious, fierce - a truly powerful woman who is growing into her own abilities and adulthood. She is surrounded by a cast of characters that are each their own individual. Unlike the original series where the supporting team around Aang grew out of caricatures at the end of the first season and into full bodied individual people, the writers have made up a fully diverse and developed cast of supporting characters that shine in each episode. 

If you have kids go back to the original series, it's on the Netflix. If you've seen the original series enjoy the new story with Kora. If you're waiting to see the third season - get to it. The end of season 2 left me with a bad taste that the developers of the show would be unable to continue on the story and had back themselves into a corner with the plot and setting. 

Boy was I wrong. Season 3 is the best season of the series and has some of the strongest episodes yet... and the way it ends. So moving as you see the toll that Kora has endured show in the final moments of the season. 

Lets hope we get our Season 4 and the reported shenanigans behind the show allow the team to finish the series.


ps. Season 2 and Season 3 trailers for Kora are after the break. 

1 Sep 2014

Dying Light - Video Game

For those of you who know me personally I love me some free movement games with fully destructible, open world environments with dynamic AI and interactive objects. That game has yet come out... instead when I play games I look at my list above and it tends to tell me if I will like that particular game. Now if folks made the game above co-op I'd be the happiest gamer in the world.

Far Cry is a open world environment with dynamic AI and interactive objects. Assassin's Creed tends to be free movement open world environment. Battlefield has some great fully destructible environments. X-COM has some great destructible environments with dynamic AI. Mark of the Ninja has great free movement, dynamic AI, and interactive objects.

When I say free movement - I'm not always thinking parkour. I'm thinking options: vehicles (GTA, State of Decay), alternate routes (Hitman, Deus Ex), and verticality (Batman: Arkham, Tenchu). I want other ways to move around outside of the Call of Duty style of running down fancy corridor that's designed to look otherwise.

When thinking of destructible environment I'm once more thinking about options; Red Faction: Guerrilla I was able to finish mission by simply dropping a building on folks. In Syndicate Wars I cleared a street to remove cover for the enemy forces leaving them open to my agents fire. My favorite run in Battlefield: Bad Company 2 was running up to a building while firing my grenade launcher at the wall, reloading on the run before opening another wall to run through the whole building to arrive just in time to support my team.

I love dynamic AI, when the enemies react to environmental changes and adjust to player styles. Metal Gear Solid luring an enemy with a sound to take him out. In Mark of the Ninja, I've left behind a body in the open so the guards would approach it and walk over a trap. I want my enemies to come into the room and try to find me and flush me out as in Dishonoured. I want my enemies reacting and interacting with me on the fly - I want them to be dynamic.

Lastly I love me to interactive objects. Dropping chandeliers on my prey in Hitman, shooting a fuel barrel or even better putting a C4 charge on it and kicking it down the street to set it off next to the guards vehicle in Far Cry 3. Working the cage open to release a wild gigantic super mutant in a mercenary camp in Fallout 3. Give me and the enemies some toys in the world and see what we do with it.

... so let's talk about this game.

Nice no? Let look at some more on the other side