29 Feb 2016

The Artists 'The Angelarium'

If you have not been to the Angelarium stop reading this post and take a look.

Angel of Deception
by Angelarium
This could be the simplest post I've written but that would be lazy. 

Angelarium is a project of Peter Mohrbacher. Who started the project to work on creating paintings and owning his own work. He works with a slew of other artists to support the project.

Eli Minaya - Who's done most of the Tree of Life work.
James Pianka - A contributing writer who has written the alternate pieces of poetry for all twelve of the original angels.
Julie Wilmore - The manager of Mohrbacher Art Ltd., the project and the storefront
Noah Bradley - Painted the original painting of Ein Sof and has helped with making Angelarium as an ongoing series.
Matt Mrowka - A contributing artist to the Watchers.

Some of the neat astpects of the Angels you'll see on his site include pansexual styled creatures. Those of a mixed or neutral gender. You'll also find that each of the Angels has a unique halo of sort. There is always a circular aspect to each head. The circle is in the head or a circle of energy or mist is seen. It's a nice non-traditional take on the idea of Angels and I'm a fan. 

27 Feb 2016

The Knightfall - Special Video Game Review

This post will be an odd duck. There are two reviews to the game Batman: Arkham Knight.

Why are there two reviews? Well the start of this post will be my full review of the game. I know it's all said and done but I waited for the DLC to come out before I posted on this one. The second review is while I was recovering from surgery and I ran into an issue. I wanted to show this original review to also show some glimpse of my process while I write. Writing posts is a long couple draft process before I feel comfortable to post.

So here is my review -

Final Score: SILVER

Batman: Arkham Knight is an ok game that was really well built. It looks pretty, the Batmobile is fun to play with, the story is long and expansive. Even though this is the largest game of the franchise, I never felt so much detail in the series since the original game, Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Even though this game is the fourth of the series; Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham City, Batman: Arkham Origin, and finally Batman: Arkham Knight. Arkham Origin is not made by the same studio, Rocksteady instead it was developed by WB Games Montreal.

Let me be clear I enjoyed the game. It's of high quality in most aspects but the pits of the main story were so rough for me that I a few times asked myself if the game was still very good, above standard instead of just being a good game. It still got a score of SILVER because most of my gripes are based on points that I like.

Love the detail in the world. Walking around the Gotham PD HQ was awesome. I spent hours exploring that area and I never felt board. I enjoyed the places like Wayne Tower and and the Stagg airships. The Clock Tower was a great location with lots to see and explore. I love the little details of mechanics in the Batmobile that get lost in the action but when you slow down to look you'll be happy you did.

The graphics were awesome. I like the visual style of the series. Since the beginning of the series the style has had a 90's comic big muscle feel, blended with a realistic presentation of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy. The wet effects were nice and the action was well presented.

The voice acting was series standard. Which means it was of the highest quality. Kevin Conroy returns as the voice of Batman and his experience with the character shows. When I think Batman, Mr. Conroy who has been playing the part since 1992.

Gameplay was brilliant. The fluid and chaotic but empowering hand to hand combat got some bumps that put it above the already high bar the series set with the original game. The Batmobile - more like Bat-Tank was fun to drive and shoot. Navigation through the city with the gliding mechanic was pretty good. I have to say the detective events were the best of the series. Also the Riddler trophies were well thought out and included many of the mechanics of the game.

Story was ok - some of the plot was brilliant and some was so, so. The whole connection to the Joker (spoiler free) and how Batman cures himself is well done, almost perfect. When the game was doing its thing it was doing it well, when it stumbled, it do so in a hard way.

I wanted to go back to the Batcave. It and the fast travel system in Batman: Arkham Origins were some of the best details that used Batman 'stuff'. Being stuck at the clock tower was lame. You could start the VR system and the challenges right from the Batcave. You could swap suits, and interact with Alfred. I was looking forward to visiting the place post Arkham Origins since that game was set in Batman's second year of activity. You saw the Batmobile under construction and parts of the save were still being sorted out or built ad-hoc.

The upgrade system was not clear regardingXP and you stop earning XP when out on the streets once you pass on point in the game. At the end of the game, I was missing a critical upgrade to complete the game - you don't get the ending unless you get 100% complete. I was lucky to have discovered that the challenges gave up more upgrade points.

Speaking of the Riddler trophies some were really good. The race tracks were crazy and well done... maybe to far out of his reach logistically but hey were playing a game with a guy dressed as a bat. The puzzles were pretty good, and the riddles were pretty good. I found a few just by looking around at the awesome details that litter the game. My only bitch is really simple, the Question Mark puzzles were some of my favorite in the first two games and I'd have liked to see them return. Also the riddler using only robots and a giant EXO suit was lame for the character. He has better ways to fight off Batman even if it's just a Predator Challenge.

Speaking of which, I missed those. There was simply not enough of those Predator Challenges in the main game. I would have loved to do more of them.

Lastly the Story. The whole situation with Batgirl was brilliantly done. The whole situation with the Joker victims was fantastic. The whole idea with Scarcrow taking over the city with a militia force... pushing the realm. It would have been better had the Scarecrow dropped an agent in the city turning the population into raving hordes that could be controlled by special minions to support the giant gang the Scarcrow put together. Hell breaking out the prison population to roam wild on the streets ala Arkham City would have been just as good.

Now the worst part of the story was the Arkham Knight. It was the Red Hood, aka Jason Todd, aka the second Robin. It was obvious and it was lame that the ads advertised a new character not seen in the comics. Hell while make the Arkham Knight persona, it could have just been the Red Hood.

Historically the Red Hood ran a tight gang, his return to the city and his history with the criminal gangs would have made sense. He's back working with Scarecrow - simple. Instead they added another lair of silly for no reason.

25 Feb 2016

Exploring the Formats - Star

Before I start on the last Magic the Gathering format I want to explore here is an update on my decks.

Dream Eater -
This is my mill deck and I've talked about it more than once. Seriously hit the magic tag and there are a few posts simply on this deck and the idea behind milling. This is my premier deck. It's designed for competitive play and is my most expensive deck in terms of card value around $100-$200 CND which I did not spend on this deck... I don't even think I broke $80 CND on this deck. If not for a slew of deals and bargain prices I'd never have built this deck the way it is. My last couple of Modern events have put me in the top half and I've prized 50% of the time. When compared to other decks that I've played that value from $300-$1000 CND, I'm happy with my placement and the way the deck is working. I'm still sorting out my side bar of 15 cards and it's a mix of anti-drudge, anti-delve, and counter spells.

Sorin -
As a fan of Sorin Markov, I've been working over the years on a Commander deck loaded to the brim with Sorin in style, theme, and his various planeswalker cards. I've finally found my stride and it's designed to be a multiplayer Black/White control with removal and direct damage. The concept is work from a place of superiority - much like Sorin would do. So far it's got lots of silly Black and some odd White spells that should juice things up. Plenty of curses and some great White controls styles spells are the majority of the mix. I'm just adjusting the mix, trimming the fat, and sorting out balance issues.

Partner -
I have an idea to build a deck specifically to support another player. A deck designed for Two-Headed giant as well as Emperor and Horde. I'm thinking Red/Blue or Red/White since I don't have a good Red/Blue deck and no Red/White deck at all.

The Cube -
Still under construction, still not yet tested, still picking the multi-coloured cards.

The other Blues -
I decided a while back to build a U/X Colour deck (That's Blue and Colourless) with Battle for Zendikar and Oath of the Gatewatch there are plenty of Eldrazi to work with. I built a Blue/Green sea-monster deck and it's being awesome. A fun kitchen table deck with plenty of Ramp, and Sea creature shenanigans.

Update is done, let's look at Star.

22 Feb 2016

Quick Videos for GoT fans

Seth Meyres has outdone himself once again.

What the duce am I talking about, well watch the two video's below and enjoy the laughs. If you're a Game of Thrones fan, pass it on.

First up a now classic skit, John Snow at a dinner party.

The new video for us this week is Melisandre at a baby shower. Enjoy the fire.

I hope you liked the laughs.

- Cheers


17 Feb 2016

Exploring the Formats - Hordes

This week I'm looking at the Magic the Gathering format called Horde. This is a follow up to last weeks post on new formats to play and a intro to the Emperor format.
Lord of Shatterskull Pass
by Wizards of the Coast

Now I own all three Challenge Decks from Theros. The second Theros set, Born of the Gods had my favorite challange to play, Battle the Horde. A single player takes on a horde of Minotaurs. Later on R&D at Wizards of the Coast added rules to the challenge deck for a group of players to take it on. 

I have a Minotaur deck that was Theros block and was Standard playable up to Zendikar getting rotated in. When that happened I added a pair of Lords of Shatterskull Pass to my deck and made it a casual modern deck to muck about with.

During my breaks at my old overnight job, I would pull out the challenge decks and play them. My favorite match up was always my horde of Minotaurs versus the Battle the Horde. It was a fun match up every time. When I played the multiplayer version, I always brought my own horde and took great pride as the two herds of monsters fought over who was best. 

So when I found out about the Horde format I've been playing is a full format on its own, I've been plotting a few returns.

15 Feb 2016

Batman. The end

When I started this blog one of the first comic reviews I did was on Batman. I'm reader of Batman simply because the creative teams are very good and some of the stories can be pretty good.

It was Scott Snyder who made me a fan of Batman, but only his Batman. When Snyder was the go to guy for the character other series like Detective Comics, Nightwing, and Batman and Robin all had something connecting them.

This has been my favorite run of Batman since... ever. I've preferred the characters around Batman. Nighwing, the Robins, Bat Girl aka Cassandra Cain, or I guess she goes by Black Bat now... I dunno.

Well Comic Vine reported some news a while back. Greg Capullo the artist paired with Snyder on this whirlwind of creative force is leaving the comic team and Snyder said he'd stay behind.

I guess something changed.

Now Snyder is saying he is done come issue 51.

I feel this will change the direction and flavor of the comic. Snyder brought a level of mature complexity wrapped in the common comic tropes. He worked stories of mystery, depth of thought, balancing the light and dark moments. He brought forward my favorite gang of Batman villains, the Court of Owls. He brought back Owlman, aka Thomas Wayne Jr. He made Dick Grayson and Hallie's circus more than just that place where Dick came from. He made Batman vulnerable and at the same time interesting. He made interesting characters, changed old faithful aspects of the Batman's mythos.

I wish the new team luck, because they will need it. Batman was 'the' flagship title of the 'new 52'. It has been the monthly series to beat for years. They do not have any easy task.

- Cheers


12 Feb 2016

The Artists 'Lindsey Stirling'

I've seen this lovely young woman ply her trade on the youtubes for quite some time now and I figured I'd send out word for those of you who've never heard of her.

Lindsey Stirling and William Joseph will start our introduction of the lady with their rendition of one of my favorite pieces of video game music. The Halo Theme from the Halo Franchise.

Next up her collaboration with Pentatonix

10 Feb 2016

Exploring the Formats - Emperor

Sickness be damned I'm putting this post out - Dozer

Now that Battle for Zendikar and Oath of the Gatewatch are done and gone I'm looking forward to seeing what and how else I can play Magic. I've always wanted to try out Archenemy but the decks are too expensive, and you need the special over-sized cards.
Looking for a new version of You!
Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
by Wizards of the Coast

The second block in Zendikar is done, which has been an odd trip seeing as Zendikar is one two planes that holds a place in my heart due to connections to three of my favorite planeswalkers: Gideon Jura (my favorite White planeswalker), Ugin (favorite dragon in most fantasy), and my top planeswalker Sorin Markov. This is funny since we're going back to Sorin's plane in the next set Shadows over Innistrad, and I love the idea of a fourth Sorin Markov card showing up.

Now that we're all caught up - I started on this set of new posts I had a while back while I was looking at other formats for Magic the Gathering. Format is the term players use when describing the various ways you can play Magic the Gathering. You know I play Modern, with my Dream Eater deck (that one where I mill). I built it only for the Modern format. I am also a fan of the Commander format. There is also Standard, Limited, Draft, Sealed... the list is long. I've built decks for Pauper and Tiny Leaders.

Tiny Leaders has been a failure for me. It feels less casual and my experience is the tighter deck wins. Pauper has been fun but I've got my one place holder deck and only Pale Rider has a pauper deck. So the desire to play Pauper is low due to lack of players in my meta. So while looking for new formats I had them follow a simple criteria.

1. No special cards needed
2. Allows use of the decks my friends and I already have.
3. Requires little work on my part.

The results are a few formats that will allow my current group of players to try it out without mucking about with their current decks and still enjoy a good game of Magic the Gathering.

First up is Emperor -

8 Feb 2016


Once more my weekend is changed and I have little to say about it.

This Saturday, I was to gather with Secondus Sergeant and Laughing Yasha to eat spicy Indian food, drink alcohol (probably get drunk), and play XCOM 2 into the week hours of the morning.

We were to eat, adjust the various XCOM agents to be named and looking like us and our friends., and play the game on Ironman - no take backs, live with every choice you make. This style of couch co-op is awesome and sharing the ups and downs of XCOM with someone just as invested as you are is a great time.

Instead, on Friday I started feeling a bit under the weather. By 10 pm I had broken out in a fever and we had to leave Big Red, and his wife so I could knock myself out to heal. It's Monday 0327 and I'm tired - but finally starting to feel better. Hell I didn't even get the game running beyond the first mission until Sunday.

This game is huge. I've never felt so lost in a game of XCOM before. I love the covert action, the mobile base, the named support staff. It's a great game from what I can tell and it's been loads of fun.

As I start to doze off take a look at this - the new trailer for Mirror's Edge Catalyst. It's looking good.

- Cheers


4 Feb 2016

The Artists ‘Concepts’

This post has been a long time coming since I decided to write a series to showcase some artists and their works in this post on professional miniature painters.

Artists come and go leaving only a mark of their imagination.

I want to take this post and show off some of the major works of art that have brought me joy and inspiration in the past years.

The following artists are concept artists. Their works inspire our imaginations and set the framework on the visual style of a particular setting or character.