Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Uncharted 3 Review

Drake's back, this time in search of the Lost city of Brass. If you've played any of his other adventures you'll know all too well what it's all about. If not I encourage you to read my previous Uncharted series review, as I won't be going over it again.
However, I can say we are back to an action packed adventure, which while short in length more than makes up for it in impact. We start in the streets of London, but it is not long until we are treated to a flashback showing some of Nathan's earliest adventures and how he met Sully. I must be honest in saying out of the three Uncharted games so far, this was my favourite way to lead the game. The end result is us going on a search once again.
The basic combat and navigation has not changed. What has though, is important. In previous iterations of the series I shied away from the AK47 and weapons in that tree - they were simply too unwieldy for too little gain. This has been solved here, so I don't complain to pick one up, Its actually rather nice. We also see improvements to close combat. Grabbing now takes place fairly frequently, so an extra layer is welcomed. I would say that it has pretty much integrated combat into gunplay perfectly. But that would be lying. Its close, but if you want to roll away from an enemy to avoid sniper fire, you may find yourself instead grabbing them. In the heat of battle such an important control issue can be important, as while sometimes you can roll fine other times your stood there waiting to be sniped. With the ability to throw back grenades, while useful, sometimes conflicts if there's a weapon nearby, prompting you to instead change weapon, leading to an untimely death. Other than these (which both turned up at multiple points) the game play is perfect. Fix these and it's golden.
We also see graphical enchantments. Some areas look amazing first time round, and it is not hard to see the detail on each character has again been improved upon. It's a wonder to see. The UI is as clean as ever, with only ammo being shown, and you don't need anything else. You are pretty much guided where to go, so it's still a linear beast, but during the action scenes it seems this is not so as your naturally guided to make the right choices. It works for the kind of game. I would say I was longing for more, but I didn't feel a need - I was just left with nothing.
Now this may be personal, or perhaps because I saw a fair bit of footage for this game before its released compared to the first two games. But it felt rather short. It seemed as if not as much happened, and while I know the series is not quite known for it's length it felt just a bit TOO short. Again, perhaps this is because of my recently completing a 50 hour epic. But regardless, I'll comment on it. And finally, a crushing blow... repetition is starting to set in. It still feels awesome the majority of the time, but in the "epic" finale felt against it's aims. We have seem the massive civilisation being destroyed and falling apart at your hands. Seeing it for the third time felt like just an expectation rather than an epic finish. other than this though it all plays fresh and fine.
And finally, I finally felt a disconnect with Drake. I know that we are meant to use a bit of imagination - Drake will have killed thousands of men by now, more it seems than the villains themselves. But they are evil minions, so it's fine. Indeed, when infiltrating a museum in Uncharted 2 they used stun guns instead, so I felt at least he was unwilling to hurt innocents... But unless I missed a plot device, it seemed to me that Drake killed many airport security guards. Sure, they were trying to kill him, but seeing as he is trying to board a plane with weapons illegally, can you blame them? Ever since this point, regardless of the airport staff intentions - I felt it was just too much. A man who kills good people to save his friend... seems a bit like a villain.
I may seem fairly negative in this review. As indeed, this is how I came out of the game. But perhaps that lies in how I have already said all the good points previously. They carry over. As a standalone game this is fantastic. Must have. But as a third in the series... it's still epic. Yet I did feel elements of dissapointment. I would be lying to say I did not enjoy the game all the way through. Perhaps I have been too negative. This is an A* game for the PS3. Certainly a definite purchase.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Yugioh VS Magic Round 3

Finally, we finnish!

Difference in playing:
I can’t say much for this, but I wanted to touch on it – for my experience of magic at least, it seems a lot more…planned. You can have a game plan of turn 1 preordain, turn 2 squadron hawk, turn 3 sword, turn 4 equip, attack, mana open to leak, etc etc, and have it work out half the time. It can make for similar games. Yu-Gi-Oh has this to some extent, but I find most of the time you take your cards as you get them, with more of an overall plan than turn by turn basis. However, this is countered in commander, where generally the only play you have is when to play your commander and everything else is up for grabs. But it seems to happen in standard – minimum deck size games. It may not always, but it seems to often enough that I should comment on it. For example, my flyers plan is T1 vault skirge, T2 Squadron Hawk, T3 Aven Mimomancer, T4 2 Hawks, T5 Grav shift for game. And while it can alter slightly or slow down a turn, it rarely makes a massive change in game plan.

Now this is pretty much completely opinion reliant. Yu-Gi-Oh opts to adopt the manga style of Japan. Magic takes the western fantasy style. Both work very well in the respective settings and I like them both, where which I prefer depends on the independent card. Both good styles, for different reasons, and since its so depending on context I can’t say much more than this.

Finally, I come to this. Both have elements. In Yu-Gi-Oh, there is no overall set theme, instead many mini themes. Each monster type typically has a or multiple themes within it. The advantage of this system is that you start off with a decent ground, and can add an odd card here and there as sets go on. If you make a theme about say, Vampires in Magic, and they didn’t work quite as well as planned, for the standard game at least you just have to deal with it. Since Yu-Gi-Oh has no ban list, you can just add it in later and help out. Which is nice. But I digress.
The mini themes are nice. Gladiator Beasts to Six Samurai to Frogs. You can make a theme deck if you want, or you can go on random cards, or a more subtle theme such as Chaos. It’s nice to see these mini themes over all the sets. But magic takes a different approach. Each set of non-core set sets is creating a new world or revisiting another, creating an overall feel rather than odd pieces. You could argue here that this makes Magic have improved flavour. And I’ll agree. The effort it puts in is awesome and can really create a different feel – and that’s all good. But it can be limiting. A designer has a really good card idea but it does not quite fit, so they may wait several years to see it. Yu-Gi-Oh can always find space, and this can be really helpful for subtly helping an old theme become apparent again. And each mini theme still has a distinctive, fun playstyle. Both have merits, but for outright flavour Magic comes out top, but the likes of Gladiator Beasts should not be discarded(geddit).

I actually almost forgot. An essential part of magic. It has a similar representative in Yu-Gi-Oh, but not one that matters nearly as much. The colours. Magic is splint into five colours that really each do their own thing. This is one advantage of the mana system I forgot to cover. It allows you to limit what decks can do what – If you want to draw cards with blue and destroy creatures with black you might have to miss out on Red’s direct damage. This is something I can only really see as good. It does leave certain colours out of the game a bit – White has little way to gain actual card advantage alone with very few draws, but it has board wipe to cover that, which means before deck building even begins choosing colours is a deciding factor. Sure, Yu-Gi-Oh has attributes, but these do not affect what does what but rather what the category the card fits under. They have some flavourful execution in certain requirements for cards like Chaos Sorcerer or Frozen Fitzgerald, but have a pretty passive role overall. It’s a defining feature of magic and gives restrictions otherwise impossible. A decision must be made when making card choices, to ensure more than just interacting with each other to being able to have the right colour mana to cast consistently. A card might be a perfect fit, but if you have to dedicate another colour it might be worth a pass. Sure, Yu-Gi-Oh has similarity. In Chaos, every non-light/dark creature you take is an opportunity for frustration. And you must consider the balance. But it feels much less influential – you could still get use out of an off-attribute card, but in magic it’ll probably be useless. And many decks don’t even consider attribute or monster type at all, yet still work fine. The colour system has disadvantages, but overall is pretty fun that separates it.

So what’s better? Neither and both. Both are great games that are very fun with lots of advantages and disadvantages to both. Indeed, I’m at over 3700 words and I believe I could still cover much more. But I’ll end with this. In my opinion, Yu-Gi-Oh is better for both single player and competitive games, but this may just be from experience, and Magic is better for Sealed, Casual and Multiplayer. I really love both games and I doubt that will change, so if you are currently only playing one I would really recommend giving the other a go(Especially if your names Ollie) – there are ways to get a decent deck for both with a relatively low price tag. I hope you enjoyed my first three part article, and feel free to let me know if I’m wrong.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Xenoblade Chronicles Review

2011 has been dark times for Nintendo's Wii. Personally I can't recall a single game worth buying on British shores. I could say it's to be expected towards the end of a consoles life, but then I see Portal 2, L.A. Noire, and countless other games on other consoles, so this can't be the case. Luckily enough, the Wii has this. While Wii owners may have spent the better part of a year finding their consoles simply collect dust, once again we have a gem to play.
The premise is quite unlike any game that has come before. The star of the show, Shulk, is a homs(this world's humans) who lives atop a giant titan, the Bionis. It once waged war with the Mechonis, another titan but eventually the battle ceased and life prospered on both titans. The inhabitants of Mechonis, the Mechon, launch an assault on the Bionis city of Colony 9, which for reasons I won't explain due to spoilers result in Shulk leaving on a quest to defeat the Mechon. All hope seems lost, but there is a sole hope in the Monado - a powerful blade that has the ability to seamlessly destroy any Mechonis threat where other weaponry would fail. It may seem like a typical JRPG storyline of Boy with powerful sword beats overwhelming odds, but there's so much more. This game's plot took me and didn't let me go until the very end. It's gripping. I won't shy away from admitting I shed a tear multiple times. I won't spoil anything of course, but once you enter you need to find out what happens next. Some of the plot elements are predictable, but many are not and nonetheless it is interesting throughout.
So the story gets 10/10, but gameplay must match it. It was widely believed that combat had stagnated in JRPG's, but Xenoblade Chronicles throws away this idea. You have a series of "arts" that you can execute in battle on various cooldowns to smite your foes. Each character will specialise in something different, and you can choose which arts to take to battle, so while one persons Reyn may be there to absorb damage another could just hit hard. I really can't do it justice through words alone, but it's fun. Really fun. It does not tire as the game goes on thanks to new tactics needed and new skills acquired. I have a criticism that the main character, Shulk, has little customisation as to which skills to use. While you can choose where your specialisations lie, the arts themselves stay the same. You'll probably be playing as Shulk, so it's annoying to have a lack of customization where there are several spare skills on each other character where you may not know which is best. Regardless, this is a small qualm, as I still enjoyed the game with the skills I had, and thanks to the Monado he does have more skills at any one time than each of his comrades.
For a Wii game, it looks good. Perhaps I've been spoilt by seeing how well Final Fantasy XIII can run on the PS3, so I had to adjust to the Wii's level. But this fault is not with the game but the system, so is irrelevant for the review. For its console, it looks good. Even with the restrictions, there are some simply breathtaking views in the game that really do make you question which console you're on. Elsewhere production is a little off, with occasional discrepancies between what characters are saying and what the subtitles read. Sometimes the voice synch is a little off too. But I only noticed because I was looking, it really does not matter. Where the game really excels is in its soundtrack. All the songs fit the mood perfectly, and some are truly awesome. When entering an expansive field not only does the view impress, but the music alongside it really gives that epic feeling.
All in all, this game is brilliant. I have so much I could say, but in doing so would ruin something for you. I'll end with this. Buy it. It's one of the best Wii games out there. I hope America gets it soon.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011


Well, Im a bit late in posting (and writing) but ill get onto that.
Early morning rise as is usual for a busy holiday. I did say how ridiculous the train fare was - but there are more changes than that of the UK system than I expected. For one, seats are ordered. Yes, you have a number that you must sit in, much akin to a cinema. This was certainly a change. It is also noticeable how the train was quiet, no one seemed to talk at all. Mysterious. And perhaps the biggest difference is that our train was delayed. Bu quote a margin. If I was in Britain I would find myself lucky to receive a bus ride free as transport home, but the French were kind enough to provide another train at such short notice, seeing as we had a connection. Was a nice surprise to be honest, perhaps heightened by the fact the station seemed in the middle of nowhere and my extent of speaking the language lies in "Je suis Anglais."
Paris itself? Well, as tourists we perhaps took a rather surprising visit to... the Eiffel tower. How surprising. But you would guess as much when your with people who have never been to Paris. However, we took the rather unconventional method of walking the long way the entire way. Obviously hindered by shops along the way it took multiple hours. Now might be the time to point out the station had trading cards which pleased me. Perhaps a bit late, but now seems to work. Anyway. Saw a few sights, took a few wrong turns, crossed chaotic roads(literally) and ate some rather nice ice cream. I'm not usually a fan but it was brilliant, regardless of hot weather.
Speaking of which, the forecast was rain, so twas odd to find sunshine at every corner. But as if by omen, the moment we left the tower bloomin thunder called down. We didn't climb it and damn glad too, couldn't see the top due to mist, wouldn't have liked to be up there. We just went for a look and it's an awesome piece of architecture like much of Paris I had yet to appreciate, where it literally felt like there was a landmark on every street corner and such amazing works that I have new respect for the French. Some of the sights were literally breathtaking, a feeling I have rarely felt while abroad, so to find it so close to home was rather astounding. Speaking of which. I was never really one to for the French language, perhaps with aid of forceful teaching in school, but as soon as I arrived unlike any country I suddenly wanted to learn. I used what I knew where I could. It's not something I'm going to pursue, but I saw it as an interesting observation
Anyway, dat weather. was funny to have a thunderstorm within a minute of sunshine and no less for about half an hour before the sun shone again. Was odd.
Few other things happened. The walk back to the station took half the time it took to get there. We ate food, surprisingly. Nice, but not 18 euro nice. Thanks for reading!
P.S. Pretzels at station ftw, England needs dat.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Day 2

Day 2
Well, today a few notable things happen. Whether your interested or not I'm bloggin it!
First off, we attempted to go to Paris. This was indeed the aim of today. But at the train station only first class was available... £400 for 4 people. So that makes paris tomorrow at £200... still massively expensive... And I complain about my £5.30 to the local tournament! I guess you'll hear about Paris tomorrow, but today you'll have to leave that.
Secondly, I saw a dude just chilling with a flamethrower. He appeared to be using it for some development work on the pavement, but at the time I saw it there was little other use than just to look badass. I just thought I had to comment on it.
Reims Cathedral... there's a site to see. It really is a stunning piece of architecture of enormous proportions, which looks as if it would be a massive feat to build now, never mind back in the day of its origin before cranes and the like were apparent. I highly respected whoever designed and co-ordinated that. Truly impressive.
French keyboards... Blargh. Very annoying. My touch typing skills were questioned when I saw that I had a few letters off, but looking at the keyboard showed indeed the locations were different. It was fairly... interesting.
And Champagne making. Went to a place and saw that. Rather interesting how far down it is and the process, but I'll let you go on your own tour to see that. Nonetheless they had bottles from 1893 with all sorts growing on it which was... interesting.
I won't keep you long, so that's it!

Sunday, 23 October 2011


Sooo, a journey to France. I figure why not follow the actual definition of blog and talk about the day. This may be my only entry depending on how interesting the other days are, but I have a few things to talk about here as it is.
I'll start with the end, our hotel. It's odd. It appears grand and whatnot but I notice theres like 60's floorboards which really take away from that feeling... completely. check in was about 20 seconds long which is quite fast, but getting to the room, odd. We literally went up a flight of stairs, up another flight of stairs, across a hall then down another into what seemed like a box with entry to our room and another. The rooms themselves, as my sister described "Seem like the walls are closing in on you." I don't quite mimic the feeling, but there's some odd paintings throughout the rooms... It's odd to say the least. Theres sponge on the back of our doors with a reasonable size gap... The architect of this place was either tight on space or fairly... unique. And a window view of a wall is always brilliant, but I can't complain as that's not exactly a rare occurrence.
On our drive we missed a turning and ended spanning 6km of motorway to get back to Reims which is always fun. On the ferry over one of the tables had glasses shaking like... I'm running out of metaphors, so I'll say it shook LOADS. Was quite unnerving. I can't comment much more, so I'll pause for now and see if night gives anything else. Or it'll end here. I may or may not edit later... I'm good at this whole blogging thing :D

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Lack of posts

Basically, my wednesday feature was battles, but my partner moved to uni so it's much more problematic to play. And for friday, I want to review Xenoblade Chronciles but its a long game and I have to play it, so updates may be infrequent.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Magic vs ygo, part 2

This is a key difference between the two games. Yearly now, Magic has new formats released with new ways to play that interact with every card printed. Off the top of my head Single, Multi, EDH, sealed, draft, planechase and archenemy name but a few. That’s not even getting into formats within some of these such as standard or modern. Yu-Gi-Oh sits with just a lonely two formats – advanced and traditional, or to those not in the know with and without banned cards respectively. While the advanced format is fun enough, being able to choose in Magic is arguably better. Different formats appeal to different people, so the casual players can stick to Multiplayer EDH but die hard competitives can learn the intricacy’s of a draft or craft a brilliant new 60 card deck. Most of the games in Yu-Gi-Oh are played on the standalone Advanced format, so finding your place in the game is often much harder with every player fitting under the same bracket. Magic’s many formats generally work for it, allowing you to do whatever you want whenever. It’s multiplayer support is also great – Yu-Gi-Oh has tag team rules, but no official setup for odd number of players or even an all versus all game. Magic has to win here in sheer terms of what you can do with the game. Speaking of which…

This format exists in both games, but to a far greater extent in magic. A Yu-Gi-Oh player can be expected to do this no more than once every three months, as a “Sneak Peek” at the new set before it’s launch is held, where you get 5 packs, make a 20 card deck and duke it out. You’ll find a fair few of your cards require others to work, which leads to a pretty small pool. And at the end of that, you have little left other than early cards. And then nothing for three months. Put simply, the packs are not made with this format in mind, but it is simply thrust upon it. Magic embraces it. Drafts are regular events at most FNM venues, and limited(6 packs+basic lands = deck) is more less common, they still happen. I have done three drafts at the time of writing this article, and you will have already read what I think of limited. They are great fun. A card you otherwise saw fit for no deck – this still stands – except for limited. A lack of options make some lesser cards a much greater threat. The passing of the cards themselves in a draft is a game in itself, and one Yu-Gi-Oh is certainly lacking. Some people are annoyed to see a fair few cards made just for the draft – but it’s a format arguably almost as important as constructed play – as seen in that most Pro Tours have it as a mandatory element of the day. At least they have a place, Yu-Gi-Oh just sees card existing for the show and the shoebox. This format is a MAJOR reason to play magic, as it’s really fun, gives a reason to buy packs, as even if you pull rubbish you still get a good time out of it. I always look forward to a draft, arguably much more than a regular gaming day as you get the tournament with it too, and possibly the best part of drafts is how it simply negates price. You must pay the entry fee, yes, but that’s not much of a problem. Getting a constructed deck to the top tier could cost several hundred pounds, but you know a draft is never going to cost you more than £15. So you can turn up knowing everyone has a fair chance of winning down to skill more than wallet size. Indeed, A series of lucky pulls can give you an advantage, but skill prevails over all in this format, even down to the picking of packs, and I love the game for this. And if that £15 is an issue, some draft groups sell the money cards the pull and put the price back into the next draft, making it even cheaper. Indeed, a few lucky pulls could see the event turn a profit! And this £15 is just standard for FNM magic events. If you find eight people willing to play you can make it cheaper with prices, or even get it down to £7.50 each. (For those wanting to know,, its £30 for 12 packs, two lots is a full draft set and £7.50 each.) if you disregard them altogether. So if you so choose you can keep playing a fun format for free – or use it as an excuse to buy packs – whatever works! So really, for sealed, to put it bluntly, Magic kicks Yu-Gi-Oh’s arse.

Competitive Play:
I won’t lie – I’ve read about the respective competitive metagames for longer than I’ve played in them myself. Across both systems I’ve played in relatively few competitive events, so I guess I’m a causal. However, I think I’ve seen enough to give my verdict. I rather Yu-Gi-Oh. Both the games certainly have their respective mind games in the form of mana open and face downs that make the game more than just open information. Both games contain bluffing that could separate a good from great player. Both have intricacy’s of play and careful combos to execute, and both are fun to play even at the highest level. Yet one MAJOR problem stands out for me – lands. I’ll come back to it. In Yu-Gi-Oh, the only resource you really need depends upon your deck – and you build for it and face the consequences. Sure, every deck has bad hands and draws in every game system, but that’s why we have match play over single games. But if you get multiple bad hands in a match in Yu-Gi-Oh, its either a very bad day for you or you could do with altering your deck construction. Magic has the same problems ignoring land, but bring it in… and things can get frustrating. You could build the most efficient and brilliant deck in the world, yet fail. Pulling lands is a frustrating prospect, as in a competitive environment losing because you drew too few or many during a game even with the perfect balance of lands in deck just happens. I’m not denying Yu-Gi-Oh has these problems, as indeed leaning towards one type of card over another can lead to a frustrating game – but again, Magic can also see this as annoying when not drawing any creatures or spells. So they both have the problem here, just magic has the additional hurdle of lands. My view may not be concrete due to lack of experience, but from an outside view this seems a frustrating issue. It does reconcile this however…

I can’t imagine playing Yu-Gi-Oh casually. Perhaps it’s because I have played the game for over ten years I can’t bare to pickup a bad card, but it’s a fact. This is an article on my opinion after all. But there is other evidence. Magic just has more to suit the casual crowd (as I see it.) I’ll go back and say they can still take part in drafts and have fun. But there are many cards designed with the casual player in mind, where a fun game is much more important than a winning one. Perhaps the biggest motivator to casual play to me and people I know is the presence of multiplayer. Having a few people round for magic can see a big game with politics aplenty and good fun all around, win or lose. EDH is another format I simply love, 100 cards, all different (other than basic lands) but kept together by the consistency of your commanders prescene. It’s a long, fun, crazy ride where all matter of things could happen. Again, Yu-Gi-Oh has no generally recognised equivalent. Perhaps someone in a remote area of Britain has come up with a brilliant format to rival EDH, but until then multiplayer is master in magic. If you want to go casual Yu-Gi-Oh, I’m sure its possible, but I’m not the right guy to ask. The competitive casual place of making a fun deck that can with against people, sure, that’s great, and – yes, it’s great fun – more than single player magic – but for casual it can’t quite match up. But I will point out it’s still more fun one on one for me, personally.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011


Video Online, but still processing! will add here tommorow.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Innistrad Draft

Drafting Innistrad
Hey guys! Taking a break from yugioh to get back to dedicated magic, but expect that next week. For now, heres my first Innistrad draft!
Now I must confess, a few cards may have muddled up so the below list may not be complete accurate. I remember having 42 cards yet this list only shows 40, so I must have missed two somewhere.
Anyway. The drafting process was interesting. First pick I was gifted with a awesome mythic, essence of the wild. That got me in green, no contest. My second pick was Cackling Counterpart, which is an awesome card in itself, but I picked it mainly because my standard deck wanted it. I can't recall every pick, but I tried to force green and it simply was not happening. I found a good few blue cards so that became a colour to go for, but afterwards green was gobbled up by the table. I was still trying to force it with a first pick ulvenwald mystics pack two. But eventually it was pretty obvious half the table was going green, and black seemed completely open. So about half way through I decided to change and ended up with a decent number of decent cards. I was especially surprised how low my curve was for U/B, it felt more like aggro than control!
The draft itself was fun. We had 8 people and everyone played everyone... with the result being me going 7-0! A first for me and very pleased. Some games were VERY tense, and some unfortunate. I'll quote my game with Alex as tense, game 3, he's on one life. Yet he has a bunch of creatures including an angelic overseer. I think I'm gonna lose, as I only have a swamp in hand, but attacking with my typhoid rats forced him to block, allowing my skirsdag high priest to get a demon to let me squeeze in a win. Very tense, especially considering the other two were just as tight. Another is my game versus Ollie, both won a game than last game he mulligan'd down to four and then played cards in the wrong order - a bit anti climactic for a tense game, as I've never beat him in a paper draft before.
How is Innistrad itself? Plays well. Is fun. the draft itself seemed to pass as usual for me, having no clue on colours til the end of second pack then having a go. It was fun. Although I must confess, when it comes to draft talk I don't know what to say more that what I have. Perhaps I could expand, perhaps I've said it all. beyond battle reports I can't say much else! So I'll talk about a card I love that's vaguely related.
Cackling Counterpart.
Why so good?
I love it. Its a clone. and It's three mana. That's a good start! not quite phantasmal images cheap, and not able to retrieve with sun titan. The first is of course a problem, the second irrelevant since my testing with this has been in U/B. It has flashback, which is certainly relevant in drafts and can also be in standard play, and there's no harm! Perhaps it's biggest drawback is that it can only copy your creatures. This can be a problem, being slightly win-more in this respect, but not always. If you can control your own creatures this problem should mitigate, so its fine. And you can always use regular clone backup. The best thing about this card. One word - Instant.

This does so much for cloning. Your opponent plays doom blade, assuming the upper hand. You screw that and clone it so they are down a removal spell, and you're down a card (unless you copy something like Wurmcoil engine!) but you can flash it back later for that all important card advantage on any ol' card. Other uses? Your creatures tapped! So they attack with less fear. But oh, its back, and its untapped and ready to block! Or even my personal favourite use, its like a much more threatening think twice. Whereas that is play a card for me to mana leak or I'll draw a card, this is play something for me to counter or you'll be staring down another 6/6. All of these are superb, so I freaking love my testing of this card so far. It's no definite replacement for regular clones, but it's certainly worth trying!
Raszero out.

A shoutout to my brilliant friend who splashed green for Moonmist and Full Moon's Rise in U/W with the only flip card as cloistered youth <3

Monday, 3 October 2011

Magic VS Yu-Gi-Oh, part one

Yu-Gi-Oh! VS Magic: the Gathering

A few words before I start. This could be an incredibly bias review of both systems, highlighting good parts of one and bad of another. But I won’t be doing that. While I have many more years experience in Yu-Gi-Oh! I feel that I am now at the stage where I can fairly compare them. It is also for this reason other TCG’s are not included in this Article such as Pokemon, as while I have had some experience I cannot give enough knowledge to ensure I believe what I say. I’m going to write about the various systems and comparisons, and eventually give a verdict. I will be assuming you know how to play both games to make for easier reading.

Mana system
Arguably, the biggest difference between the systems. Since magic has it, I will comment on this first – it is the games greatest strength yet also its biggest downfall. It’s wonderfully diverse in it’s use – It allows for different balance of cards by cost. This means that you must have an additional layer to your deckbuilding – can you get your cards out in time? Will you have the resources to choose from? My favourite thing about this system is that it allows cards of massively varying power levels yet all are useful. A 1/1 is pretty underwhelming by itself, but couple it with a decent ability and a low mana cost and it competes with cards such as get 13 2/2’s instead thanks to a lower mana cost. This allows for some crazy fun, expensive cards that simply couldn’t exist in Yu-Gi-Oh. While there is balance within the game, such as tribute summoning and effects that require certain conditions (such as 3 darks in the graveyard) allows for some balance for specific cards, but mostly the only way to have crazy cards that are not broken is with a very wordy explanation. In this respect, the mana system does justice to magic. However, on massive problem with it is… the lands themselves. You always seem to draw them when you don’t need them and vice versa. Losing a game because your land to actual card ratio leans one way or another is not very fun. And there’s little you can do to stop it – it’s going to happen and at the worst of times. Your powerless in deck building in that you have to have so many. There is a mulligan rule(get a new hand -1) to stop this, but even then luck can (and often does) relay the situation but with one less card to play with. Essentially, the player is being punished for a flaw in the game itself. Mulligan can have other uses other than to redistribute land numbers, but I’ll come onto that later. Yu-Gi-Oh has no significant problem. While a hand that leans heavily towards one card type can be frustrating, if your deck is built right it’s still playable – a two or five land hand is often not. Sure, it’s a card game so Yu-Gi-Oh is a card game so you’re going to get a dodge hand every now and then, but the frequency is much lower with proper deck building. However, Yu-Gi-Oh does have the disadvantage of cards being harder to balance, as there is rarely a neutral medium that allows for guaranteed balance. However, it seems that generally things go alright within each other.

Price and Cardpool
As I was writing these two seemed to merge, so I’ll cover them together. As in any game, how much it’s going to cost you probably matters. At the sealed level, price’s are relatively the same – Yu-Gi-Oh packs are generally cheaper, but have less commons as a result – and let’s be honest, people don’t buy packs for the commons. The sealed format itself is much superior of Magic takes advantage of these commons, but ill talk about that later. For the most casual of play sealed is probably where your going to get the majority of cards for your deck from. Here you may think Yu-Gi-Oh Probably has the better idea, with more rares, yet, I can’t say that’s right. In Magic, every card seems to have its place, whether in sealed or constructed or casual. A large majority of cards won’t see a competitive table, but at least they have a place. In Yu-Gi-Oh, it is incredibly common for a large majority of the cards in a set to be complete rubbish. In the most extreme of examples, you can point to the booster pack Cyberdark Impact – where only one “good” card was released, and at common. Perhaps this is a flaw with the system, as a large percentage of print is adapted from the tv series, which are made to fit, not be playable. Also, in Japan Yu-Gi-Oh packs are sold in lots of 5, so this system is far more forgiving to the rubbish commons – but people in the west pay for those commons, so why wouldn’t Konami want to make more money? I digress. The sealed contents of magic are far superior. But I must get onto another issue with the cardpool. One major gripe I have with magic is that the rarer a card is, the more leeway for power it has. You can compare cards such as Serra Angel to Baneslayer angel, look at the rarity, and justify that as fair enough. That’s just not right. I understand its benefit for sealed, but rarity should be the place for unique cards to take shape, not just outright – near – strictly better. There are gems at common such as Squadron Hawk and Ponder, but not as much of a balance as there could be. For non-sealed play, this is bad but does wonders for it, as my sealed section will cover. Now, Yu-Gi-Oh has a rather different view on the matter. The best cards in a set are often common, but again easily the rarest. A major gripe I have here is how the raritys of top cards are bumped up to increase there demand JUST for the western market. Yu-Gi-Oh does seem to balance good cards across raritys though. Now… the price of the second hand market. Yu-Gi-Oh is abysmal. A newly released card often can hit £100 if its particularly good, a ridiculous sum. Even lesser cards often stabilise at higher numbers. When I see people in magic saying “Walletslayer Angel” at about £10 it feels a bit ridiculous. Magic is not without it’s expensive, essential cards, but at lease Yu-Gi-Oh eventually re-prints cards to make them cheaper, the good-uns of magic generally stay high. I’m not going to comment on vintage, because that’s just ridiculous. Both games are expensive yes, but it seems Yu-Gi-Oh costs more for “standard” play. But the difference of format in magic makes the difference, as I will come onto now. A final word on the second hand market – with the rarest cards in the set. “Mythics” in Magic and “Secret Rare” in Yu-Gi-Oh. A large percentage of Mythics in a magic set are surprisingly often worth less than or with little difference to the pack itself. You may buy a pack for a chance for the rare cards – but that you can buy these for cheaper than the pack online seems silly. It is indeed good for the casual Mythics to get into the hands of their intended audience, but seems odd. This does not seem to happen in Yu-Gi-Oh, as far as I’m aware. And while it may seem odd to argue for more expensive prices.

TBC next week!

Friday, 30 September 2011

Uncharted review

Beware of spoilers!

Back in January, I got a PS3. I could have been happier, as from a few years prior my gaming consisted of WOW and the odd DS or Wii game. The console seemed to have little to offer other than a few games such as FFXIII. Yet barely half a year has passed and my library already exceeds fifteen games, and I have played more. How wrong I was. And one of the top stand outs? Uncharted.

I heard it was good, but never thought to try it until I traded in Portal 2 and had a fair sum of credit from it, so went to the 3 for 2 section and got Uncharted 1, 2 and Darksiders. I am very glad for that decision. The series is fantastic.

You play Nathan Drake, a man of many talents. The most appropriate, if a bit misleading, description for him is treasure hunter. Assisted by a varying cast of allies and villains across the two games you are taken to a remote island, across vast mountains, the streets of a city at war, not a selection of places you would likely think would correspond with each other, never mind fit together in such a way that it all seems very natural. I lie a bit in that the remote island is basically the first game with no other locations, but the games are in fact similar so hence why it makes sense to review them together. Both feature a tale with real historical background, from search for El Dorado to the chintamani stone. While some of the elements are highly exaggerated, as I’ll get onto, they seem credible and this really pulls you into the story, disregarding the characters themselves. While quite a… unique twist is added onto the end, it’s worth it as I will draw upon later.

The characters themselves hold interest, with various acts of betrayal and loyalty throughout, and in moments of near-death that the so often find themselves in, while not quite causing the heart to skip a beat, certainly seek you to care. One of the principles Naughty Dog wanted to work on with Drake was that rather than the lead being a superhero with perfectly fluid movements he is instead much more human. He makes mistakes. His movement is not perfect, as like any human, with certain traits apparent. Some of his jumps hardly look flattering, quite the opposite to the distinct confident lunge found elsewhere. And best of all, he makes mistakes, often not having an answer to the situation. He’s still more than your average human, completing far more death-defying stunts than usually healthy, but since this is kind of essential to the genre it can’t be helped. Speaking of which, I’ll digress a bit.

This is a shooter. Drake kills HUNDREDS of people. That kind of action is hardly represented by your average human. And he shows little remorse. Sorry, none. The game simply wouldn’t work if you had to lament each kill, but it does kind of conflict with the character they are trying to build. This problem is even addressed late in the second game, where when faced with the option to kill the head honcho of the operation, whereas he has already cold heartedly killed several hundred lackeys just doing their job, he hesitates under confrontation. Sure this is probably trying to get across that human quality, and indeed his personality aligns so this would stop him killing, he does not come across as the cold hearted killer he really is. But again, the genre does not allow for that – killing hundreds doing their job actually classifies you as a hero. But the game couldn’t exist without this suspension of belief, so I’ll stop complaining here and admit that it’s necessary for the game. Anyway.

The actual system used for shooting is largely cover based – if you run out in the open, even with the most powerful of guns, don’t be surprised if a shotgun or sniper knocks you down. Of course you generally have time to carefully hop between cover, you can’t just run in and hope for the best. Generally. The first game allowed you to duck out of cover and shoot, which works, needing to pick your time to strike, but also shoot without it. There is no marker given on screen for this, so it is pretty much a wild guess. The second game has both these features but with a wide marker in grey, giving a vague idea of where your shooting, so while its still inaccurate it can actually be used to some benefit. While it still exists in the second game, it is more or a problem in the first, in that if your hiding behind some cover, and someone is on the other side, so you could shoot them without getting out of cover in reality, you must leave the cover or face the inaccurate shot penalty, which is fairly annoying. This rarely comes up though and otherwise the controls are perfect, always feel fair and allow you to do what you want. Unlike some other games, you know if you die its always your fault and no control issues can be blamed.

But finally there’s one part of the game I have yet to talk about but I can’t ignore it. In parts, its like a high budget blockbuster movie but all the more tense with you in control. Several times simply amazing stunts are performed, more often than not under your control, which simply feels epic. From running across a bridge collapsing underneath you to – my personal favourite moment – riding on the back of a train, with a carriage fallen off, spinning towards you, it looks like it’s gonna crush and kill you, but at the last second you enter a tunnel and it’s cut-off. These moments all feel genuinely tense, and at times it feels the bad scenario is going to happen. It feels like your right in the centre of an action movie, and that makes it so much more epic.

I’m approaching my word limit and I still have so much more praise for the series. I’ll say it’s brilliant and if you have a PS3 there is pretty much no reason not to have played both games including the upcoming Uncharted 3. I’m not sure I can award higher praise than saying it’s an essential purchase. And it’s just one of the games that make me immensely glad of the decision for me to get a PS3.

Monday, 26 September 2011

5 Suprising Limited Cards

Now, I must admit, I've been a bit silly. When I first thought to write my article on limited, I was going to go over what each of my packs gave to me and why I did what I did. But I may have accidentally mixed up all the cards, so that options out of there. Instead, I'm going to write about 5 cards that stood out during the event, mostly in my deck but also a few elsewhere.
Think Twice
I must confess, I didn't have to think twice about adding this card to the list. It's just so good for puns! And disregarding that it's still pretty awesome. Looking at the spoiler it's just a card I skimmed past, but in game it was simply brilliant. It gave you something to do with your mana, and if you had a bit left over gave some nice card advantage along with it! Sadly counterspells were few and far between in Innistrad, and I only pulled one, but decided not to use it due to restrictive conditions. Thus there were very few shenanigans you could play with this or that instant. But I certainly look forward to the mana leak and Think Twice "combo" so you get advantage from your opponent whatever happens. I was not sure if I was going to go blue before, but now I want to so I can play this card!
I really liked this card going into Limited, so was happy to see it in my pack. I still liked it coming out. But during... No. I may have made a mistake to add him in alongside the blue zombies so he rarely had a target, but I can only remember playing him twice... as a 1/1 and a 0/0(I really should have checked first...) So in limited, he probably aint the perfect card to be playing. But he's still pretty fun.
Snapcaster Mage
Like Splinterfreight, I had high hopes for this going in, so I was very happy to see one on my pack. Yet in limited, unless your fairly lucky he just don't shine. Most of my instants either had flashback themselves or were not ideal targets. I can see he's going to be awesome in constructed across the formats, but in limited he really does not meet the mark. Still, having that flash can make him useful, so hes probably a good addition anyway - just not nearly as good as he should be.
Villager of Estwald
Less this specific card, but werewolves in general. I was at first sceptical of how Werewolves worked, but I can now say that their mechanic is awesome. I found myself playing one, and missing a go gave me a beastie, and it's harder to deal with that you may think, either over-exert yourself or deal with it. And the missing a go don't really matter much either, being able to think twice during your opponents turn and then play another card on yours. I look forward to seeing more of these guys, and although with ponder and the like making it easier (I imagine) in constructed, it's something to look forward too.
Bloodgift Demon
My final card comes with a story. I was playing the last round. I was 2-2 so really wanted the win. My opponent mulligan'd to five, and I felt a bit more confident. Then they went to four, and I was like... this is bad. For me. I don't know why, but going down that low implies you kinda know what your doing. So he continually hit his land drops until T5, when he had a 5/4 flyer, I had no removal, and no way of dealing with it. So he slowly drew all those cards back and regained his loss, eventually winning the game. So it's brilliant for this format, if I didn't want one so much I'd consider first picking over Garruk. Maybe when I get my play set of that. On a side note, in limited I never get any removal and my bombs tend to not go further than Vastwood Gorger, so I'm not too lucky in that sense - I just get mythics after. I think I came about 37th/57, not my best attempt but still pretty good for a first bash at limited.
I hope you enjoyed the article. Finally, a shout out to Ollie, who is a Powerful Planeswalker!
See you next week... and may the Heart of the Cards be with you for that!.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Top 5 Fun Combos

Hi, and welcome to this week’s edition of Magic Monday. Now, I must confess, the actual content of this article is quite in contrast to the title. It should really be “Top 5 combos that have randomly happened in a commander game without intending them to, but hey, it just happens and is fun when they do.”… But that don’t have quite the same ring to it. You also probably would have dozed off by then from title alone. So pretty much, these ain’t the best combos in the world, but its just some I’ve come across through commander, regular, non-combo decks, that are great fun. More mini-combos than game winning, but still fun, and that’s what matters! (I must also note these are in no particular order.)

Conquerers Pledge + Nomads Assembly

Now this one should be fairly obvious. Get a BUNCH of tokens with Pledge, hopefully kicked, then quadruple that number for a very scary field. Not quite as cool or as unobvious as what’s to come, but it really made me grin whenever it comes to light, so I had to include it.

Kresh the Bloodbraided+ Momentous Fall + Praetors Counsel

Now, as anyone who’s seen Kresh in all his might would know, In a relatively short amount of time during a commander game he can go from 3/3 to a monster, certainly commonly over 20 power. Combine this with Momentous Fall is nice by itself, as you can respond to a removal spell by drawing about 20 cards, leaving your opponent down a card and you up by many, without a difference to your field status (seeing as a Kresh Commander deck can’t really run any counters.) But oh no! You’ve gotta discard it all at the end of turn  So your opponents may be annoyed at a large improvement of card quality, but the best has yet to come. Out of the blue, Praetors Counsel can bring them all back and prevent your end of turn discard, so suddenly you have an absolutely massive force to be dealt with. The best thing is, if you wanted to, you could make this fairly consistant. There are loads of cards that can allow you infinite hand size, from Venser’s Journal to Relinquary Tower. If you chose to take enough, it would be a reasonable guess that you could pull one from the 30 or so cards you can draw. I’d almost consider it, but I’m already strapped for card space 
I’ll also note that Soul’s Fire can slot nicely within this combo, but not an essential addition.


Liquimetal Coating + Unwinding Clock + Mirrodin’s Core(?)

The next combo is not one I executed, but rather a friend who I’m sure would rather remain nameless. I’ll call him BearDylan for the sake of argument. Anyway, Mirrodin’s Core requires you tap it for a charge counter, which in exchange can be exchanged for any colour of mana alongside another tap. This can be a good card by itself, but can also deprive you of mana when you really need that certain colour. Not anymore! Liquimetal Coating can turn Mirrodins Core to an artifact during an opponent’s upkeep, allowing Unwinding Clock to untap it, ready to tap before the next upkeep again letting you get another charge counter, pretty much meaning you have whatever colour mana whenever you want it. The scary thing is this is quite tame application of it. The charge counters amassed, but once youre past 3 or 4 it’s going to make little difference. At first I didn’t really like Liquimetal Coating, but now I must confess I see its potential in this combo. You could combine it with other cards like Imperious Perfect to amass a token army in a few turns, Royal Asssassin to really push off that big attack, or tap out your opponent with a Stun Sniper or Gideon’s Lawkeeper to prepare for your big attack. It’s a nice thing to get, and could really help out. Heck, at worse it allows you to give a creature pseudo-vigilance, which aint all that bad!
Also, as I posted this I thought of another alright combo to add on. Combo with Rakka Mar and Ancient Den for plenty 3/1 tokens for free :D


Animar, Soul of Elements, Inexorable Tide, Garruks Horde

Another combo not at home with myself, but someone who seems less bothered about other people knowing he enjoys himself, Alex. This combo can work in a variety of ways, but these 3 cards seemed to epitomise what it entails. Animar makes people cheaper to cast every time a creature is cast, Inexorable tide then makes him more powerful and also makes creatures even cheaper. Combine this with Garruks Horde and having cards in hand does not become an issue. Animar also renders the need for mana almost needless. With a lucky set of topdecks you can quickly amass an army of powerful creatures from nowhere. The abudance of Bloodthirst in this deck only adds fuel to the cause, creating a monstrous army… and you can even combine this combo with planeswalkers to create either sheer survivability or access to a planeswalkers ultimate the turn it enters play. Scary stuff!


Fleshbag Marauder + Butcher of Malakir+ Nim Deathmantle

Nasty combo. Start out with Butcher of Malakir and Nim Deathmantle on the battlefield, late game, when you have lots of mana open, preferably 15. Play Fleshbag Marauder, and sacrifice itself to force each opponent to sacrifice a creature. As this happens, Butcher of Malakir kicks in, forcing another sacrifice. But then you active Nim Deathmantles ability, returning your Fleshbag Marauder to the battlefield, and the cycle continues while your opponent has creatures and you have mana. With the 15 advised, That’s 6 creatures. This is the point to say Grave Pact would work just as well as Butcher of Malakir. Now destroying 6(in a typical 4 player game) opposing creatures is obviously nice, and even gets past shroud and indestructible and the like, making it an even better deal for the cost of a single card. However, the most fun part comes in an optional bonus – Kresh the Bloodbraided. With this little combo your getting +13/+13 alone, ignoring what everyone else sacrifices. Assuming there are 3 players left, and they all sacrifice 6 1/1s(giving scope for people having less, more powerful creatures) that’s still a total of +31/+31, Enough to take someone out with Commander damage now they have a blank field. At that’s probably being too generous. Thanks to this little combo I had Kresh end the game with over 100 +1/+1 counters on him… That’s fun.

Friday, 16 September 2011

4 things that don't make sense about Warhammer 40'000

Warhammer 40000 has quite an complicated rule system to master, with a rulebook of essential information spanning over 100 pages. Yet, with all that detail, there are still things that don’t make sense or are missed out. Now, I’m not going to comment too much on specific rules (such as wound allocation) in a balance sense, but much more in a fun way that you will surely find out soon. Like, now.

1. Grenades
Now, I don’t know about you, but over my time as a (video) gamer I have experienced quite a few shooters. Not nearly as many as most of you, but enough to know vaguely what I’m on about. Now, don’t get me wrong, but quite often I’ve used grenades to, y’know, kill people. They are pretty effective at throwing, and if you’re caught close enough, instantaneous death. Yet Warhammer allows for no such possibility with its most common grenades, frag and krak. You may use these on vehicles, but why not men? They have strength values, it’d be fairly easy to imagine a 6” range with a 1D6 scatter. Now you could argue that in most of these shooters are generally far more lightly armored than you average combatant, but I disagree. Take the imperial guard – they are about the same. It is hardly realistic to believe if some Space Wolves came across renegade guard they wouldn’t consider throwing a grenade. Frag to same point is represented in that it can draw enemies out of cover, but it has no chance to kill, regardless of whether you even consider krak. I think it silly I can’t do this, as it really does make sense. If I can blow up an armored transport with this grenade, has no marine really considered throwing one at a mob of orks instead?
2. I’m close to you… I miss.
The battles raging. Shots are firing everywhere. A missile shot renders that speeding Land Raider immobile, a lucky sequence of events. Even luckier, theres a tactical marine with a meltagun nearby, so close that he could practically touch it without so much as a step forward. He takes aim, at a massive chunk of metal, unable to move. Aaannd… he misses. It’s happened to all of us at some point. For some reason, this chosen warrior out of 1000, trained to the finest art of combat, with potentially thousands of years of experience, misses such a shot. How does that make sense? I understand the rules in most contexts – it does indeed represent a moving battlefield. A unit has moved 6” last turn, and even though it appears to be sitting on the tabletop, down on the battlefield it’s still in motion, only reaching it’s destination in time for your next turn, so obviously I an allow some discrepancy for shooting a moving target, even if the models themselves are barely an inch apart. What I cannot stand is that my battle-hardened veteran could miss a huge, immobile, chunk on metal from so close. Its baffling. Did he forget to pull the trigger or something? Did he not notice the massive, roaring beast as it approached? Was he simply too busy reading a text to take aim? They all sound a bit silly don’t they? And so does this interaction.
3. I’m a battle hardened space marine. Trained and blessed by the emperors embodiment, I am ready to fight and kill any enemy. Into combat I charge… but wait, a lowly ork grunt has more attacks than me? Crap.
Now really. The vanilla marine book sees a tactical marine with a measly one attack, and no close combat weapon to bolster his power. WHY? An ork grunt, even when holding a shooter, bolsters two attacks. I get they live to fight and all, but this can be represented by low cost, furious charge, and an option to have close combat weapons. That my regular marine cannot put out as much damage seems ridiculous to say the least. And the main problem is that, for some unknown reason, the imperium can’t be bothered to give the majority of their fighters a bloody knife. You’d think these sacred warriors would all at least have something to deal with hand to hand combat. Even in the (logical) case of the Space Wolves, where each man does indeed have the brains to carry a chainsword, they are still matching these orks holding a shoota. I personally don’t like the whole feral feel of Space Wolves, but I play them because they seem to be the only chapter to add logic into their battlegear choices. Building on that, but a bit of a digression – they can take special weapons in units of 5. Ironic how they are the most tactical of tactical squads and they don’t even bare the name, having to run around in units of 10 for a single melta is a bit underwhelming. And, y’know, you think a TACTICAL squad, able to fill any role, would carry around the bare basics to take part in 1/3 of the game. But that’s more mechanics than anything. Anyway.
I’m actually being kind. Every player should know the flavour behind marines. Each man is indeed amazing in their own right. They could arguably swing the tide of battle with a lone soldier, and a whole squad could take down an entire army. But I know for gameplay this does not work without going to movie marine levels, and I accept that. What I disagree with however, is how you play the newly released Space Marine. You find yourself ambushed by a horde of Orks, at least 30. Yet with a bit of tactical thinking massacring them all is relatively easy. On the table top however, it would take all of two seconds(depending on how fast your opponent rolls) for all of these to just die. I understand gameplay balance, but such a change as this really is a bit too far. Especially seeing as most troopers ain’t learned to carry around a flippin close combat weapon in 40’000 years.
4. Our unit has taken more casualties than intended – we are down to six men. We are currently being chased down by a Chaos Rhino. In my hand I hold a meltabomb and to my left a Power Fist – but our meltagun took a casualty. If we can face this foe, we can easily crush it. But we running away from a threat we could easily take out. Why? Orders from above. Why? Not a clue.
It’s got to have happened to everyone. At least marines have some leeway – they can survive under half strength, which is both useful and flavourful. Other armies may not be so lucky, but most also lack the faith in their leader to get them through, no matter the odds. So again, this will focus on Marines. I understand tactical retreat, but the aforementioned situation is possible and has probably happened in a similar situation to every marine player. I can understand running for it when you’re facing down a Carnifex – indeed, again shots can be fired which is probably the most human-like response to deal with it. But when the threat lies in a flimsy vehicle – or in some cases, a lone guy lucky enough to survive shots, it’s a bit ridiculous. I don’t believe an actual space marine would not attempt to at least throw that damn meltabomb at the vehicle at he’s running, but even more likely would a marine feed the Rhino a Power Fist. But nope, they keep running. This rule is more of a situational nitpick, as they are indeed human and will be outright scared and flee from time to time, but Marines could have some sort of last stand move – they can assault the unit chasing them, but if they fail to at least win combat that round they meet an untimely end. This is hardly the best solution as it is pretty illogical versus a big beastie or even a moderately sized squad, but a lone Rhino sees little reason why, in the battlefield we want to believe, this is not possible.

I’m sure there are many more silly situations you can think of, but this is my top 4. Let me know of anything far more illogical!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Magic Celebration

As I’m sure many of you will know, Wizards celebrated Magic on the 10th September, with the imaginatively named Magic Celebration. It seems the basic idea was to allow people who had only experience Duels of the Planeswalkers to take to the printed game at no monetary expense (unless of course you have to travel.) Anyway, I’m sure this happened but me and some friends took the opportunity to give some feedback, and I’ll see what I can remember about my games.

Before we began I had a pack wars with Japanese packs and won by quite a margin thanks to a lucky stream of aggro, but my opponent was the real winner pulling both Doom blade and Solemn Simulacrum. I had a battle report, but I think I’ve lost it ><

The actual event was mini-master, where you get a pack, add 3 of each lands, have a game, and get another pack to add to your deck if you win. This instance saw two lots of 3 rounds. My opening pack contained a Elvish Archdruid as my rare, hardly the best for the format, so I got two losses in my first round. However, I recovered afterwards with a win, and was happy to pull Gideon Jura(my 3rd from M12!) A vengeful Pharoh was in the last pack, which I traded off. The second pod saw me pull a Dungrove Elder, possibly one of the worst cards for this format. I added another forests to power it up after my first game, but due to lack of numbers faced someone with two packs and lost the game – yet I managed to win my next game with the single pack.

Well, I imagine THAT was a fun read. I imagined it would go slightly differently, but my memory’s a bit lacking so that’s it! What I can offer instead is feedback – the day was brilliant. Free packs is not something to refuse anyway, but almost everyone I went with pulled at least one mythic, with the sole unlucky person making it back in good trades instead. I wouldn’t take it over a draft if I had to purchase packs myself, but as it is it’s a pretty good idea to get people in store, having fun, and earning a whole Planeswalker Point =O

Another aspect of the day was the purchase of the new Two-Player packs. It was an alright experience, but in hindsight the 20 cards (consisting of 10 lands, 9 commons and an uncommon) is not really worth the extra pound each over packs unless you’re desperate for those extra cards. I pulled a bloodthirst theme at least, so I’m glad with my Stormblood Beserker.

I feel a bit off to end at just under 500 words, but I’ve said what there is really. I’ll be attending the Innistrad Pre-release, so hopefully I’ll have more to say about that! Then at least I could offer some deck building insight… Until Wednesday!

Friday, 9 September 2011

New Facebook theme tune

I wanna be the very best

Like no one ever was...

To friend them is my real test

To know them is my cause

I will travel across the land

Searching far and wide

Each facebook friend to understand

The power that's inside

facebook friend!,(gotta friend em all!) its you and me

Plus another 493!

facebook friend!, oh, you're my best friend

In a world we must befriend!

facebook friend!,(gotta friend em all...) profile so true

Our status will pull us through

You friend me and I'll friend you

Facebook friend, gotta friend 'em all

gotta friend 'em all, Facebook friend!

I'm so goddamn cool...

Monday, 5 September 2011

Top 5 Keywords

So yeah, I’ve decided to make this a regular feature – Monday Magic. I’m quite interested in the game at the moment, so for the foreseeable future look forward to Magic on Mondays!
Anyway, this article is about keywords. Magic has literally hundreds of keywords, all that do different things and affect the game in different way. So for this article, I’m going to list 5 keywords that so far I’ve really liked and say why. Might not be for you, but who knows!
5. Exalted
A nice add on for quite a few cards, that rewards flavourful play… Well, I can’t exactly see some cards being exalted as such, but the flavour is there regardless! Allows for some good, fun plays. A turn one Akrasan Squire can lead to a nice early advantage that can be passed onto a more powerful creature a few turns later.

4. First Strike
Evergreen still count! In a list like this it could be easy to forget about the evergreen keywords, so I have to cover my favourite one. It’s pretty influential, seeing as alongside Double Strike it has an entire phase of the combat step dedicated to it. I don’t know every keyword, but I can’t think of another that has the game stop for a second to consider every single turn. Beyond that, it’s a very nice mechanic, it allows for a card to be a completely different threat. It allows for nice design like Porcelain Legionnare, which looks extremely fragile, but you have to get the hit in first – this is seen elsewhere, yet also shows a simply amazing warrior. The best evergreen mechanic for me.

3. Kicker
If I could choose to make one keyword evergreen, this would be it. It’s brilliant, allowing a card to serve a dual purpose, or gives a way to spend excess mana in a long game. There are some crazy fun designs like Conquerer’s Pledge with crazy numbers, yet still serves a purpose while low on mana.

2. Suspend

This mechanic by itself is cool, but does not earn second place by itself. It’s use in Delay does that. I love the idea of rather than dealing with the threat, sending it to the future either to be dealt with later, or when make it turn up when it’s too late. There’s not much more to say than that I love this interaction.

1. Cascade

Number one, the short lived cascade, but it pretty much sums up everything I love about magic, or to an extent card games in general. The first, I love multicolour cards, and cascade was exclusive to multicolour, so there’s reason to like it from the start. I like random events making each game different, and while you can control the cascade effect, it is pretty random as to what you get.(This may also be why I love commander.) And finally, I like card advantage, and you’re nearly always going to get it from playing a cascade card. These three factors combined into one word makes Cascade my favourite mechanic, earning Bloodbraid Elf and Bituminious Blast a place in my Kresh commander deck.

Thanks for sticking with us. Next week - a report on how the Magic Celebration with Pack wars went!

Monday, 29 August 2011

Innistrad Previews

So it’s finally Inistrad preview time. I’ve been looking forward to an dreading this time in equal measure. It’s good for the obvious reasons, new set, new themes, new monsters (quite literally in this set.) Yet is also marks the summer holidays drawing to a close, which is hardly a fun time. I can’t dwell on that though, but instead I CAN talk about some of the cards revealed at pax.

One of the most important reveals was the night and day mechanic. It’s like flip, but with a twist – there’s something on both sides of the card. Meaning you use proxies or sleeves. It’s interesting, and to be completely honest I’m not sure how I feel. It seems that’s going to have to wait until my first draft event to truly see what it’s like, and drafting, with cards being open, should provide an altogether different experience. Rather than write 500 words on a single card, showing it’s uses in many decks etc, I’ll do a paragraph on a few reveals that I particularly liked or otherwise had reason to pay attention too. I may post a few decks once the whole set is revealed, but basing a deck on a card when half the support is unrevealed seems a tad silly :D
And before I start, a word on how I play. Commander mainly, so I’ll keep that as a main idea, but also play constructed60 and sealed, so I’ll look from all viewpoints really but dedicated competitive. I’m not quite there yet…

Ludevic’s test subject

The first D/N(day/night… hey, Death Note!) card that I really liked the look of was this. Starts off weak, but with a small(well, commander wise) investment you get a massive 13/13. Sure, they could take it out by then, but the same can be said for every card. It seems that blue and green and having a good time bleeding their colour pies as of late – green has been taking a bunch of draw power, and blue has fatties. Don’t believe me?
Take a look back. Stormtide Leviathan is fairly fat, and there are very few other creatures with over 8 power. Who knows, we could be onto something here! But I digress. It’s not quite the Frankenstein’s monster I was expecting from the first blue, but I like it even more. I like how they have shown this mechanic makes sense for more than just werewolves, as forcing an egg to hatch into this is quite fitting.

Elite Inquisitor
It should be noted one of my commander decks is mono white soldiers. I play Kazandu Blademaster, cause he’s awesome, and I look forward to having him gain an ally in this Elite Inquisitor. He’s pretty good anyway, with a nice set of abilities that really look like they belong to a higher mana cost. His protection for the major beasties is also gonna make him a potential threat in the format, certainly in drafts. And outside of the gloomy depths of Innistrad, it’s bound to come in useful here and there.

Olivia Voldaren

Until this card, I didn’t know what top down design was. Not in the sense that I didn’t understand, but that I literally didn’t know. I looked it up, and thought this was a pretty good example. It could have been executed better, but I still love it. I’m self professed to love multicolour cards, so this already has my vote. But then I actually read it, and it’s awesome. You take a bite, gain power from it, and then bring that creature over to your side. Quite fitting. Now, maybe you should have powered up their creature from it becoming a vampire, but maybe that would be a tad overpowered. And you know what, it has construted potential. For a measly two mana it can power itself up and kill a weak creature, or if it survives take control of it. It’s going to be a massive threat for commander perhaps, but I’d like to see how it plays out. If the vampire subtheme is well enough supported this could be a surprise winner. But I hope not so I can pick up one cheap myself!

Enemy Dual Lands

The reason I quote the set, and not the individual revealed Woodland Cemetery, is because they really are similar and what can be said to one will really apply to all, so it’s fair to deal with them all at once. Personally, these are my species of dual land. The reliance on basic lands means you still have to keep the fundamentals in your deck, but allows for some mana fixing when the need arises. Looking back through magic’s land history the bounce lands are perhaps my favourite for longer/multiplayer games due to the card advantage(not technically, but essentially works out that way. I don’t really count mana gen-lands as cards, but that’s another story for another time.) These are definitely my land of choice for constructed. Balanced pretty well and, if I may say so, are the best balance of dual lands to date. There only flaw is that you can only have 4, really wanting some other form of mana fixing, and as a rare opportunity for enemy colours as is I doubt we will see it. All around brilliant though, I’ll be glad to pick up whichever I can find.

Hollowhenge Scavanger

I looked at my previous card choices and saw I had represented every colour but green, yet when it came to choosing one I found myself struggling, even though we have seen 10 green cards, the most so far. I obviously can’t say this speaks for the set as a whole, as 10 cards is a minimal amount, but at least this selection is limited.
And to be honest, I didn’t choose this card because I like it as much – to be honest, I find it quite underwhelming. Yet it is the only card that shows off the morbid ability so far – and that I like a lot. In its current form it is underwhelming to say the least, but It has potential I really like. There could be a card that says “Morbid- Whenever a nontoken creature dies this turn, put a 2/2 Black zombie into play”. Perhaps not in those words, but you get my meaning. It has potential to do some really fun things for the game, and making your opponent think twice about killing your creatures is always a good thing to do – perhaps not in a graveyard set, but none the less! It’s a mechanic I look forward to reading more about as the weeks pass.

I hope you enjoyed this little slice of my mind in relation to the new set. I don’t really have any magic-liking followers (yes, that is a hint) so the standard “If you like it, I’ll do more” can’t really apply. Instead, I’ll say that I WILL being doing more magic related articles in the future. I actually rather enjoyed writing this, so don’t be surprised to see a top 10 cards of the set or even top 5 of each colour – or whatever – come the full spoiler. Until then, *insert cheesy card-related good luck pun here*.

Oh, and by the way, here’s my preview card for the new set. Didn’t I mention I had one?

I doubt I got you, but worth a try. We will probably see SOMETHING like this… but meh, who knows!
Thanks for reading.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Lack of posts

I lied.
I've been making a MC adventure map, hence lack of posts.
It'll be on here once its done.

Grand Theft Auto IV Review

Getting a PS3 certainly has been an experience. Before January of this year my gaming of the last few years consisted of WOW, Wii and the DS. While each is good it’s own respect, a gaping void was opened by this period. While the wii certainly has some killer titles, they are certainly not as plentiful as other formats. And again with the DS, there are many good titles but for a gamer like me a dry spell was placed over the last few years. So picking up a PS3 lead to the purchase of several Nintendo-unfriendly titles I had missed. And this, arguably, places above them all.
This was my first game of the Grand Theft Auto series, yet this was rarely a hindrance at any point during the game. At first my lack of experience with the genre lead combat and driving a bit of a mixed experience, yet it was not long until I had got to grips with these controls. No alienation can be found in the story either, as you start afresh as a Serbian immigrant to Liberty City named Niko Bellic. You start slow, running errands and driving taxi’s, but it is not long before a darker side to the city is revealed as you assume the role of a hired gun. There are a variety of characters that keep the story interested throughout, and as usual I won’t talk too much about specifics. It’s no Heavy Rain, but it’s certainly enough to prevent me from skipping a single cut scene. The tech is hardly impressive when compared to L.A. Noire, but considering the release date it does the job. Now may be a good time to note my way of playing this game – I’m a story man. I’ll play though the missions and sub events and rarely venture off on a tangent of killing. Indeed, many reap enjoyment from taking arms and wrecking havoc among the city, and while after a few frustrating missions it can be a change, I do not see it as a pivotal point of the game for me.

Combat is rather different to what I expected – there is a large emphasis on cover and shooting by default is automated, with your aim instantly locking and following a target – placing importance of not the accuracy of your shot but the timing. Sometimes it’s hard to resist the urge to bugger it and run in all guns blazing, which can work if your careful so it’s not set in stone how you approach each mission. The auto-aim system is far from perfect however, as every now and again your drawn towards a far off target when there’s someone shooting your ass, resulting in a swift yet annoying death which doesn’t always seem like your fault. This is worsened by ineffective use of checkpoints – often you must waste several minutes getting to the location again just to have another go. Of course there should be some penalty to dying(I don’t expect an instant replay) but it seems a bit unnecessary. You also don’t recover body armour or health if you try again, meaning there are only a few mission’s you can take advantage of what limited time saving there is, as walking into some areas without body armour is suicide for your average player. While the expansion packs fix the checkpoint issue, the body armour problem is often left unchecked, which can make a frustrating mission(in a good way) even more frustrating(in a bad way.) Ignoring this though, the core game play is very good – and that’s only the combat. There are races held around liberty city as well, with and the driving is not quite the best I’ve seen, but it does the job and is overall an enjoyable experience.
Getting to browse Liberty city on the go really shows how much Rock star cares about the product – it’s gorgeous. I played the majority of the game without HD, yet I was still impressed with what I was seeing. It feels like a living, breathing city in contrast to some other places I’ve visited (E.G. No More Heroes’ Santa Destroy ) and other than cab drivers, you never seem to see the same face twice. The same can be said for idle conversation overheard as passing by and even the complaints as you barge past a group of bystanders – it always seems like something different is going on. A completely optional touch that I loved is the variety of people you can happen to walk by and interact with. From a spoiled youth giving away money to an old friend from the war, you need never interact with these people but it shows that these characters do have a past beyond the games natural progression. In between that, the variety of cars, a mass of radio stations, and carefully constructed recognisable landmarks I would be lying if I said I was anything but extremely impressed in Rockstar’s efforts at making the game what it is.

Yet, while playing it I felt that it was not as good as it’s reputation made out. I enjoyed it, yes, but it was far from the best I had played. Then I played something else. I realised something was missing, and it soon dawned on me just how good GTAIV was. It’s a game everyone(mature enough at least) should play. Don’t like the story? See the sights or kill some time seeing the city. Like it? Sorted. It’s strange to realise how good it is after completion, but looking back I enjoyed my time in liberty city enough to revisit it not soon after in the expansions. But that’s for another time. I highly recommend you play this game, take in the city, and be amazed by the amount of effort placed to create Liberty City. It’s far from a perfect game, but it’s got the closest I’ve seen on the PS3.
A word on the expansions.
Taking Liberty City from an outside view of either a member of the lost bikers gang or a right hand man to esteemed nightclub owner is certainly a side to see. It gives a different perspective on the same city, and fix some of the originals problems. Bikes were fairly annoying in that a slight tap could sent you flying in the original, but TLATD fixes this and makes bikes the transport of choice. Both give new weapons and events that are well worth playing. I won’t say much, but I waited to review this game until I had completed both expansion packs, and they certainly make for a full collection. Issues like lack of body armour still remain, but it’s still a great play.