Currently Playing..Vol.13

shiningdarknessShining in the Darkness (Sega Genesis): Don’t be fooled by the “Shining” name, this game isn’t anything like Shining Force (2 of the best games for the Genesis by the way).  This RPG is unique as it’s entirely in “3-D” first person. The story is pretty generic..you and 2 friends, a warrior and a mage, join forces to take down Dark Sol, who has kidnapped the Princess of Thornwood.  The game takes place in 3 locations: the Castle of Thornwood, the village of Thornwood, where you buy weapons and items, and the Labyrinth, where you fight massive amounts of baddies in order to reach the next floor.  This game, while pretty decent, can be really frustrating as well. Each floor is a maze and there is no map, each hallway looks the same, and the battles are random so you can’t avoid them.  On more than one occasion I have launched into expletive riddled rants trying to find my way back out.   I actually remember watching a friend play this game in middle school (god I’m old), and he basically had to hand-draw maps in order to find his way around.  These days, there is Gamefaqs.com.   You can just download the map JPEGs…but I haven’t reached that level of desperation yet.   At it’s core, Shining in the Darkness is a typical RPG, your party levels up, learn spells, you buy weapons, etc…but it’s pretty challenging.  If you haven’t tried this game out, I recommend giving it a shot.  You can find a copy, complete with case, for around $10 on eBay.

sdark3 sdark4

Land Ho! (Modern)

I recently played against a mono green Standard version of this deck and I was so impressed by it that I decided to brew a Modern version.  This deck is all about searching your library for multiple lands and playing them every turn until you can drop something big and scary like Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, Gaea’s Revenge or something else that’ll ruin your opponent’s day.  I did stray away from mono green and splashed a bit of red for DragonMaster Outcast, which will let you start producing Dragon tokens ridiculously early on.  The deck can be weak against aggro, but is more than a handful in the mid-game.  Warning: You will take a beating in the first few turns, but don’t worry,  Jaddi Offshoot and Grazing Gladehart will keep you in the game and once you drop Ulamog or another Eldrazi on the 4th or 5th turn, the tables turn rather quickly.

Creatures (18):

2x Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

2x Gaea’s Revenge

2x Conduit of Ruin

1x Oblivion Sower

1x Bane of Bala Ged

1x Terra Stomper

2x Rattleclaw Mystic

2x Jaddi Offshoot

2x Dragonmaster Outcast

1x Shaman of the Forgotten Ways

2x Grazing Gladehart

Spells (17):

3x Nissa’s Renewal

3x Sylvan Scrying

4x Explosive Vegetation

2x Utopia Sprawl

4x Nissa’s Pilgrimage

1x From Beyond

Artifacts (2):

2x Hedron Archive

Lands(23):

18x Forest

2x Rootbound Crag

2x Evolving Wilds

1x Blighted Woodland

Here There Be Dragons..(Modern)

If you remember, waaaaay back in September of last year,  I posted our very first deck list, Mono Red Dragons.  It was a pretty fun deck, great for casual games against non-aggro, and tough to handle in the late game.  Well, consider this deck it’s faster little brother.  It really shines in the mid game as opposed to the late, with enough removal to make sure the game gets there.  The basic strategy is to use the aforementioned removal spells to keep the other side of the board clear, play Dragonspeaker Shaman and/ or Dragonlord’s Servant to get Stormbreath Dragon or Thunderbreak Regent out on Turn 3 and 4..and then keep dropping multiple copies of each every turn after.  Don’t be afraid to take damage, the key is to keep your Shaman and Servants alive in order to play dragons faster.  I’ve tested this deck list out against a modern Splinter Twin, a modern Slivers, and a mono green ramp and have seen success.

 

Creatures (22):

4x Dragonlord’s Servant

4x Stormbreath Dragon

4x Thunderbreak Regent

2x Dragon Whisperer

2x Dragonspeaker Shaman

2x Kilnmouth Dragon

2x Moonveil Dragon

1x Furyborne Hellkite

1x Balefire Dragon

Spells (18):

4x Draconic Roar

4x Lightning Bolt

4x Lightning Strike

2x Mizzium Mortars

2x Awaken the Ancient

2x Roast

Lands (20):

18x Mountains

2x Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

Rapid Fire: Random Thoughts Vol.4

Howdy gang!  I don’t have a clever intro this month so let’s just get right to it..

-It’s funny how playing MTG with competitive players changes how you play the game yourself. I recently joined a group consisting of two other guys who are regulars at essentially every tournament in the area.  After a few game nights consisting of MTG, beer and football, we’ve moved past the awkward “trying to kill me as fast as possible” phase and into the MTG mentoring phase. This is a much friendlier phase where they stop me from making misplays and give me advice.  For the most part I can hold my own against them at this point and it’s actually slightly renewed my interest in the game. Not in standard though. I’m modern all the way.

-Guess who has two sore thumbs and finally beat Soda Popinski? This guy! Who’s laughing now, punk?…He…he laughs..when he beats you..remember?…No?..Whatever, that joke totally made sense in my head.

-I recently bought a box of Dicemasters Age of Ultron from a well-known gaming company. Found it odd that it looked like the gravity feed had been previously opened. Even more odd was the fact that the box didn’t contain any super rares or chases. Hmmm…that wasn’t very “cool” of them.

-Finally got around to watching Avengers 2: Age of Ultron and I’ll say this; I thoroughly enjoyed it.   Although I will say if the Avengers present at the end of the film is the line-up they are planning on using for the 3rd movie…meeeeh.  Also I hope they do something about the make-up job on Thanos. Homeboy is Easter egg purple.

-I stand behind Shawn’s opinion that the Wii-U is pretty neat.  I for one am hoping for a good Cyber Monday deal on one.  My girlfriend loves anything Mario and I love anything Zelda. Win win.  I’m also looking to pick up a PS3 on the cheap as well. Yup. If you need me I’ll be firmly planted in the last gen of consoles.

-I was pretty bothered by the fact that the next day after the horrific attacks in Paris, CNN actually had a story on The Big Bang Theory on their main page two stories down from the terrorist attacks. What was so important that it needed to share main page space with 130 people losing their lives you ask? Well, Sheldon and Amy will be having “relations” in the new season! Gasp! Whaaaaaat!! How was this NOT the headline story?! In other news Jim Parsons’ jugular vein finally explodes out of the side of his neck next season. Seriously, watch him talk, it’s disturbing.

-I should have a couple of MTG deck lists posted this week for you guys..one is a really cool mono green ramp (well it does splash for red, but only for a couple of cards), that I’m really excited about.  Also I reworked the dragon deck that I posted last year into something much faster.

That’s all folks! Thanks for reading and as always we’d love to hear from you! Feel free to leave comments below!

 

-Blond

Quick Hits: Thankful for Gaming

(Editor’s Note:  There was supposed to be a weekly series this month in honor of Thanksgiving and to fight, just a bit, against what has been called Christmas creep.  As with most things around here, that plan has been completely ignored in favor of no plan.  Hey, it’s part of our charm.)

A couple of weeks ago, I posted an article about the things that made me thankful.   The list was incomplete and not only because I refrained from most mention of the usual reasons to be thankful.  If I truly listed everything for which I’m thankful, it would come in much longer than the usual 1000-1500 word articles that I usually write.  With more and more pages pushing video content, and the slow death of the written word as most recently evidenced by ESPN killing Grantland, I should probably refrain from such marathon articles.  Don’t worry, I won’t.  Because YOLO.  Are the kids still saying YOLO?  I really need to research popular culture more.

Apparently, Sam Jackson doesn't think that the kids should be saying that anymore.
Apparently, Sam Jackson doesn’t think that the kids should be saying that anymore.

Nevertheless, I did want to take a stand against “Christmas creep” this month and it has proven difficult to come up with topics for this particular holiday.  Unlike Halloween or Christmas, there aren’t a ton of Thanksgiving movies.  You decorate mostly in a generic Harvest theme like you would if you don’t want to go overboard for Halloween like we did this year.  I’m not desperate enough yet to do a Food Channel style “Top 15 sides or deserts”…yet.  Stay tuned.  It might be coming over the next few days.  There’s just not a lot that defines this holiday other than the “thankful” bit.

One of the things that I mentioned in the previous article that I’ve been thinking about is the bit about this being a good time to be a gamer.  The article didn’t specifically talk about games, but I’m narrowing the focus for this article.  My nerd cred isn’t as deep as it used to be.  I don’t read comics monthly.  I’ve all but given up on zombies.  All I have left is games.  In keeping with the spirit, I present some of the reasons that I’m thankful to be a gamer.

  • I will start with the obvious.  There are so many different types of games available and so many different games available of each of those types.  Just this year, I’ve discovered Dicemasters and Heroclix on the tabletop, too many free to play games to mention via Steam and mbile (some that I haven’t even played yet), and Fallout 3 on the XBox 360.
  • I know that some of you will disagree with this bullet point.  Two of my closest gaming friends do, but it is finally time.  Given my near allergic reaction to the thought of facing Black Friday crowds, I’m not sure how to do it, but I really want one of the Wii U bundles.  I know.  Wii U sucks.  It barely even gets mentioned in the fanboy console wars.  Just another terrible Nintendo gimmick with no real games.  Blah, blah, blah.  Liam and I are unapologetic Nintenerds, though, and the Wii U is one gimmick that has us both excited.
I've often said that Nintendo just has to make a new Mario, Zelda, and Metroid game and they've sold me a console. Whoever made this picture, please adopt me.
I’ve often said that Nintendo just has to make a new Mario, Zelda, and Metroid game and they’ve sold me a console. Whoever made this picture, please adopt me.
  • Times are especially great for cheap gamers.  I already mentioned the F2P and Freemium movement.  Again, you may have different attitudes about those games, but I love the idea.  Putting our differences aside, I think that we can all agree that finally getting a PS3 because they are so cheap is a great idea.
  • Fallout 4 and Star Wars Battlefront.  I haven’t played either but I’m completely obsessed with both.  The announcement of Fallout 4 had me more excited than any other game except for Portal 3 if it ever happens.  Star Wars wasn’t even on my radar until I started hearing reports from people that it felt like playing the movies.  Now, both of the games have me thinking that I need to find a way to get a PS4 instead of a 3.
Nevermind. Whoever made this needs to adopt me. Wait, you can both adopt me. It doesn't matter if you're both dudes, I live in Massachusetts and we're totally cool with it. We could be like that old TV show. Full House.
Nevermind. Whoever made this needs to adopt me. Wait, you can both adopt me. It doesn’t matter if you’re both dudes, I live in Massachusetts and we’re totally cool with it. We could be like that old TV show. Full House.
  • Gaming led me to create this web page and other accounts as a result.  It hasn’t had the reach that I hoped it would, but I’m having fun.  Similar to my other writing, hopefully people discover and enjoy it.
  • Many of the games that I play have given me something else to share with my kids.  Likewise, they discover and share games with me on a regular basis.
  • Still other games have rekindled old friendships, opened up aspects of friendships never considered, and have the potential to open up entirely new friendships.
  • Overall, as I mentioned, this is a great time to be a gamer.  There are just so many games of all types that bring together family and friends.

 

Literally (Figuratively) Go Into the Games!

(Editor’s Note:  Christine and I are admittedly ignorant when it comes to these types of games.  She asked the boys if they were playing Spyro, her quite dated reference since her only experience with that particular game is the original PS1 game, when she saw the game.  I’m slightly more with it, but only barely.  Keep all of that in mind as you read the article since ignorance has never stopped me from commenting on something.)

The boys were introduced to this new genre of games by friends.  I believe it all started with Skylanders, but I’m not positive.  That series is the first that I ever remember hearing about and certainly the most popular.  However, never ones to be left out, Disney and now Lego have jumped into the huge pile of cash waiting to be made from this.  I don’t even know what to call the games.  Officially they are part role-playing, part action adventure, part weird immersive technology that let’s you play with your action figures in the game.

I have to admit that, in addition to being ignorant, I was also skeptical about these games.  The past of video games, and our own home, is littered with the remains of previous attempts at changing the dynamics of video games.  Sure, they’ve made them more varied, added pressure sensitive controls, and offered other advancements.  At the end of the day, though, almost all controllers are simply a fancier version of the old arcade joystick.  Only Nintendo, generally willing to think outside the proverbial box at the risk of alienating a large portion of the audience, has been able to successfully push the limits of what causes Mario to run across the screen and jump on enemies.  Anyone else have a busted or working Kinect just sitting around collecting dust?

Not everything that Nintendo touches is gold. I have two of these things sitting dead in the basement right now. Because, I was going to get in shape, Man. Same stupid Kinect promise.
Not everything that Nintendo touches is gold. I have two of these things sitting dead in the basement right now. Because, I was going to get in shape, Man. Same stupid Kinect promise.

Nevertheless, the boys seemed excited about the games.  Therefore, when I saw one of the starter sets at Wal*Mart on clearance, I bought it.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  In terms of another cliche, nothing really to lose, either.  I thought the game was only a battle arena game and that they’d tire soon of playing it and that it would join the Kinect and Balance board in the purgatory for expired and forgotten electronics.

Unlike the Kinect, I’m glad that I made the purchase.  As soon as the boys loaded up the game, they started up an adventure mode game with a decent story and pretty good voice acting.  I was surprised when I heard Patrick Warburton of Seinfeld and The Tick fame.  Watching them has me interested and I want to play.  Liam even suggested that we do a play through to try to get more content for our Youtube page.  Be on the lookout for that, hopefully soon.

Imagine this guy shouting "Spoon!" or "Devils! Devils!" and you have the amount of joy that I got from hearing his voice for the first time.
Imagine this guy shouting “Spoon!” or “Devils! Devils!” and you have the amount of joy that I got from hearing his voice for the first time.

Shortly after getting the game, they traded with their friends to get more figures.  Because, of course, the game requires different “types” to unlock certain levels.  I’m sure that they hope that ignorant parents will simply buy the characters to keep their little angels quiet, but we got lucky and the boys were able to borrow the figures needed.

More recently, they pooled their allowance money to buy a 3-figure set, which I suppose is an extension of the clueless parent phenomenon.  However, since they earned the money, they made more of an effort to get a better deal.  The figures were already discounted because they were at Marshalls.  Still, the boys chose the 3 pack for 9.99 and took an extra figure that they didn’t want instead of buying the two figures they wanted at 4.99 each since both characters were in the 3 pack.  It made me proud as a dad and a cheap gamer.

So, Skylanders turned out to be a good purchase.  My cousin and his family have tried the Disney version, but I haven’t asked him if he likes it.  I can’t see that it would be as fun or engaging to our boys as Skylanders.  They like Disney, but given the choice, I’m almost positive that they’d want Lego dimensions instead.

Elsa - fun to sing along, but I'd rather tour Lego Gotham in my Lego batmobile, amirite?
Elsa – fun to sing along, but I’d rather tour Lego Gotham in my Lego Batmobile, amirite?

A commercial for the Lego version appeared in my Facebook feed several months ago.  Everyone laughed at the Batarang joke at the end.  If you don’t know that one, either watch the video or you can listen to my impressions of it in one of the “What have you been gaming” segments of the 2 Guys Gaming podcast.  After watching the trailer a couple of times, we more or less forgot about the game until I recently saw that they have a “Back to the Future” set with a hoverboard.  I mentioned the game to Christine and she responded with, “They’d probably like that.”  In a monumental show of restraint, I haven’t yet gone out to buy it, but I keep looking at it and hoping for a price drop.

So, Skylanders hooked them and they’ve figured out a way to save money even as they build a collection.  I don’t think Disney has enough to make it worth the investment.  Lego, however, are always a big hit in the house.  Lego games, too.  If I can find a good deal on the starter kit for that one, I will probably pick it up in the hopes that it represents the best of both worlds.

Pretty funny that I still do this, since nobody ever responds.  But, there’s always a first time, so here goes.  Have you tried Disney Infinity?  Lego Dimensions?  Are either of the games as much fun as Skylanders?  Either email, Tweet us, or leave your comments below.

Quick Hits: What I’m Thankful For

(Guest Editor’s Note:  55846706)

This is the time of year when many stores, and more recently even normally right minded people, want to skip right from Halloween to Christmas.  I’m not sure what is driving this Thanksgiving boycott other than blind greed in the case of the stores.  If you are people, Thanksgiving represents the best in alliteration; family, food, and falling asleep in front of the TV watching football.  I’m pretty sure that all of you can find at least 2 out of those three things enjoyable on some level.  We here at 2 Guys Gaming love the entire idea of Thanksgiving.  While we won’t judge you if you are an early Christmas riser, we will not skip over this month in favor of some premature “Ho, ho, ho”s.  In that spirit, I celebrate the first Friday (2 days late, of course) of November by listing some of the things that I’m thankful for, aside from the obvious ones of family, friends, and pizza.

Pizza is the love that keeps on giving and asks nothing in return.
Pizza is the love that keeps on giving and asks nothing from you in return.
  • Twitch ran a marathon of Bob Ross for at least a week.  I don’t think I watched anything else during that time.  Watching has even inspired Quinn and Aiden to take up painting.
Painting happy little trees.
Painting happy little trees.
  • I love my job and I’m not just saying that because there are only five weeks left in the semester.  Okay, I’m only partly saying that because there are only 5 weeks left in the semester.  I get to teach all levels of math, meet new and interesting people, and still have plenty of time for my family.  Plus, I’m close to the Holyoke mall and a great place to get gyros.
  • It’s a great feeling to be a nerd, geek, dork, freak, dweeb, or however else you define your particular lifestyle choice and have lived long enough to realize that we did, in fact, win the culture war.  Games, comics, fantasy novels, miniatures, and cosplay have all infiltrated mainstream popular culture to some extent.  Hell, even sports have been taken over by our stat crunching brethren. We are the meta.
  • I’m going to sound like a basic white girl here, but I love so much about Autumn.  I’ve always been more about the changing of the seasons and so much is changing during this time.  College football starts and finishes.  The leaves in New England paint the scenery all sorts of colors.  Pumpkin lattes lead to peppermint, eggnog, and gingerbread lattes.  Fire up the wood or pellet stove and snuggle in to your favorite sweatshirt.  It’s a great time to be alive.
  • I know that I said that I would skip the usual thankful stuff, but I think that I need to acknowledge this one.  I’m thankful to be healthy and alive.  I caused a bad accident on the way to work at the beginning of last week.  Nobody was hurt, but I totaled the van and am still experiencing some of the fallout with insurance and maybe a concussion.  But, I’m alive and for that I’m thankful.
I did a damn good job on this one.
I did a damn good job on this one.

See you next Friday for some more Thanksgiving fun.

Disappearing Act

(Editor’s Note:  Against my better judgement, we are going to run yet another “Magic just hasn’t got the same appeal anymore”, but this one feels different.  It just might be the last for a while as I explore other games.)

At this point, I’m not even sure that I can call it a lull anymore.  I am simply not interested in Magic:  the Gathering right now.  i have bought over 200 dollars worth of product over the past three sets and haven’t opened any of it.  Furthermore, I don’t have any plans to do so any time, soon.  I think that is the most telling indicator that something is different this time.

It’s no secret that Chris and I go through phases.  We are often excited about a set and what it can offer us during our monthly game nights.  That excitement can last two months and has carried us into the next set.  Theros got us back into the game on a regular basis.  Khans had us playing Magic in some for or another right through until the end.  There was the brief lull around the time of Fate Reforged.  More on that later as is might be helpful in explaining the current malaise regarding Magic.

It started in a big way during the Origins spoiler.  Neither of us found much promise in the explanation from Wizards that it “wasn’t an ordinary core set.”  Hell, as card released, it was the coriest (is that a word?) of core sets.  Sure, you got the flipwalkers, but other than that, what about Origins wasn’t a normal core set?  Another Wizards promo screamed form the (basic) mountaintops, “This will usher in a new era for Magic:  the Gathering!”  How exactly has it done that?

I mean, who's not excited for this reprint, amirite?
I mean, who’s not excited for this reprint, amirite?

All of the underwhelming reprints?  No, that’s absolutely par for the core set course.  Scry is a permanent fixture?  Cool idea, but who cares that it happened during this set.  Scry was already a big part of the game thanks to Theros.  Renown?  Oh, please, don’t even get me started.  I will sound too much like a jilted lover left at the alter on my wedding day.  Before I knew you, I loved you so, renown.  Let’s just leave it at that.  Every single one of these represents a common complaint about core sets.  Heck, even the aforementioned flipwalkers represent unrealized potential.  God, do I sound like a teacher or what?   Maybe I just sound like my old teachers.  Either way, all they really gave us was another overpriced Jace to add to my list of cards I’ll most likely never get to play.

I should say that I haven't played them in reality. Then again, I'm a blue mage, so reality is a bit of an illusion and overrated.
I should say that I haven’t played them in reality. Then again, I’m a blue mage, so reality is a bit of an illusion and overrated.

What about the story?  You are probably asking at this point.  Wizards made a big deal about that, too.  Is that just a huge disappointment, too?  Is there nothing to redeem this dumpster fire of a set?  Also, weren’t you one of the ones that actually liked Origins?  Let me answer those questions in the opposite order in which they were asked.  First, I don’t think I ever said that I liked Origins.  I had fun drafting a bunch (at absolutely no cost) and doing one sealed match with a play group that never materialized into anything more.  But, I never bought anything more than those six packs and one fat pack.  I freely admit to being one of the only players that enjoys BFZ, but I was never impressed by Origins.

In regards to the first question, you have a point.  Out of all of the promise attached to Origins, the story is actually good and lives up to that promise.  Story has never been central to the enjoyment of Magic and it still lags way behind as a reason to play the game, but I’m glad that they have made an effort to make it more central and consistent.  Even so, I do have one complaint about the story.

Heck, it might not even be a complaint.  It might just be an observation.  I suppose it all depends on your point of view.  You may consider it a complaint.  Whatever it is, I find it odd that the only way to fully experience this renewed commitment to story is by playing the Magic Duels Origins game.  Otherwise, you only get bits and pieces through the usual method of reading flavor text on select cards.  As a gamer who prefers games with a good story, I’m glad that they expanded the story’s role, no matter how platform specific they made that story.

Honestly, I don't know how else they would incorporate the story into the cards. Maybe if I figure it out, Wizards will offer me a job. Hey, a guy can dream!
Honestly, I don’t know how else they would incorporate the story into the cards. Maybe if I figure it out, Wizards will offer me a job. Hey, a guy can dream!

I suspect that the decision was not a mistake.  Even though they tried to make Duels more noob friendly and they mostly succeeded, the game was plagued by release bugs that broke the game to an unplayable state.  By offering the carrot of a story in addition to the simplified game play, they hoped to pull in gamers like me who play games for those secondary reasons.  Hopefully, if they find new players, they will be able to sell the other Magic:  the Gathering properties to these players and increase their fan base even more.  By all accounts, it seems to be working.

Now, finally, the explanation as to why things seem to be different this time around and why I may not come crawling back so readily unless it is to play the offshoot games like duels once BFZ releases or Magic Puzzle Quest when it comes out.  I said earlier that our lull during Fate Reforged, which is the longest time we went between playing Magic before now, might have something to contribute when attempting to explain what might end up being our swan song from the game.

Neither Chris nor I found Fate Reforged overly exciting when it came to spoilers.  We even had a conversation during one of the episodes of the podcast about how we crapped all over the set and it actually ended up being one of the best sets for competitive play in quite a while.  Therein lies the problem for me and Chris.  Neither of us has any illusion of playing Magic competitively and even actively despise the competitive Standard scene especially during the recent run of Abzan dominating everything.  Competitive cards usually mean a high price tag and therefore I won’t be able to collect them.

I was a good idea, along with Siege Rhino and fetch lands. A game of Magic should go to time and feature multiple rounds of reshuffling decks. That is the non-stop action and strategy we've come to expect from the game.
I was a good idea, along with Siege Rhino and fetch lands. A game of Magic should go to time and feature endless durdling behind big, dumb idiots and multiple rounds of reshuffling decks. That is the non-stop action and strategy we’ve come to expect from the game.

While pros almost universally hate the new set, it still feels like Wizards is catering more to the competitive crowd with the new set.  The inclusion of chase rare lands drove the price of boxes and fat packs to 125% to 200% of their MSRP.  Thankfully, Wizards seems to have issued a reprint and I was able to get a fat pack over at the local Wal*Mart for regular price, but I did slightly overpay for my initial box and fat pack to start my collection set.  Look, don’t get me wrong.  I understand the economics of scarcity (barely), but paying so much for a piece of cardboard seems like the ultimate exercise in futility.

Hmm, draw 7 cards or two tanks of gas? I could also feed my family for a week. Tough choice, but I'm not signing on that dotted line in blood any time soon, Griseldaddy.
Hmm, draw 7 cards or two tanks of gas? I could also feed my family for a week. Tough choice, but I’m not signing on that dotted line in blood any time soon, Griseldaddy.

I guess the logical conclusion is that Wizards has whiffed, big time, on the last two sets.  Pros have been not impressed with the quality of cards and only a few of them have been able to crack into competitive decks.  Filthy casuals like me and Chris just don’t see enough here to keep playing or watching for the foreseeable future.  As I end all of these articles, maybe I’ll find something about the game that will keep me connected and spending money, but right now I’m content with Duels every now and then and I’m sure Magic Puzzle Quest once it gets released.  For now, there are many other games to spend time and money.

Little Green Army Men

(Editor’s Note:  TLDR:  It’s not Saving Private Ryan, but that might be a good thing.)

An odd coincidence happened the other day.  I was sitting in my living room with a friend.  We were trying to find some motivation to go disc golfing.  Don’t misunderstand me.  We love to go out and throw frisbees around the forest.  It’s just that we are both getting older and require a little more to get going.  Also, because he and his wife went overseas for the last two years, we have quite a bit of catching up to do.

While conversing, he again noticed my Magic cards and we discussed teaching him how to play, he asked why some cards have the holo sticker and others don’t, and then he mentioned that we should put together an NCAA league (or whatever its called) for us and friends.  I replied that I’d have to pick up a new system and the game, but that I’d absolutely love to do something like that.  I’ve often done the franchise mode in those games, solo, and I think it would be a blast to have company as I ran a prominent college football program into the ground.

Go 'Bama. Roll (over and play dead?), Tide.
Go ‘Bama. Roll (over and play dead?), Tide.

Of course, none of this is indirectly relevant to the coincidence.  It is, as we say in “the biz” (What Biz? You might ask.  “The Biz.”  C’mon, keep up.) setting the stage.  We continued to talk about games and gaming and geek culture.  He’s not a full fledged member of the community, but he does share some of our passions.  Often, I’m surprised when he displays these geek tendencies even thought I should know better by now that we come in all shapes and sizes.  That reminds me.  We need to sit down and watch the new Godzilla movie together since it released while they were gallivanting around the Middle East and Europe.  Also, I think I might have talked him into a midnight showing of Star Wars Episode VII.  I’m not sure about that one.  After all, I did have to explain to him the sequencing of the first six movies.  Oh well, even if I don’t get a midnight showing, I will take the boys.

None of this is setting the stage, no matter what “Biz” you’re talking about.  That was all just my usual easily distracted  ramblings that will often interrupt my articles.  Still, they are all a part of the weird and wonderful stew of ideas, thoughts, and dreams that live in my head.  It may not all be relevant, but I promise that it is all important in one way or another.

My tendency to forget the geekiness of this particular friend manifested in other ways during the conversation.  Ultimately, it led to the surprising coincidence upon which this article is based.  See, all important and we eventually make it back to the point.  While talking, he asked me if I ever played “Company of Heroes”.  I had to verify that he meant that particular game because we had never discussed the game previously.

Another Steam purchase gone to waste? Perhaps not this time.
Another Steam purchase gone to waste? Not this time.

It was offered as a free weekend game a couple of weeks ago on Steam.  As I often do, I not only tried the game, but I bought it after only playing through the tutorial.  you can understand, then, my surprise when this friend who has little use for video games outside of the occasional NCAA football game asked about a game that I only recently discovered and began to play.  To be fair, he seemed almost as surprised when I answered yes and told the story of how I started playing.

As with many of my Steam purchases, I played the game extensively in the first two days, enjoyed myself, and bought the package with the game, sequel, and DLC.  Since then, I’ve loaded the game, maybe, twice for a total of about an hour and a half.  that’s not to say that I don’t like the game.  In fact, I found the tutorial enjoyable and the play through of the Normandy invasion was decent, though not as chaotic as presented in Saving Private Ryan.  Yes, having seen only that dramatized version of the events, this did not live up to the immersive experience.  Sure, it is a cheap game, but there are good voice actors.  Maybe they spent all of their money on that and did not have enough left over for cut scenes.

Actually, minus the river of blood, this scene resembles the game. Maybe I just wasn't in a mood to be immersed when I played.
Actually, minus the river of blood, this scene resembles the game. Maybe I just wasn’t in a mood to be immersed.

Additionally, and this came up in our conversation (I think), the AI sometimes leaves a bit to be desired.  More on that in a minute.  After coming to terms with our individual surprise that the other played the game, he cryptically referred to some part of the game that he absolutely despised.  “I love the entire game, except for this one thing.”  Like the Meatloaf song, he never identified the what this one thing was.

(Before you write in to tell me what a moron I am for not getting the Meatloaf song, just stop.  I get it.  I’m just taking a bit of poetic license to make my point.)

I’m fairly sure that he was referring to the AI sometimes breaking to the point of turning a sure win into a loss, but I can’t be positive.  He danced around the issue saying that he only played multiplayer against his brother.  When I said that my experiences in online gaming have left me scarred and unwilling to venture too quickly into such an environment, he scoffed, implying that people who play the game single player are noobs unworthy of consideration as serious pretend Army generals.  What can I say?  When you find a role that suits you, embrace it and play it to the best of your ability.  I dare say that few embrace the role of noob more fully nor play it better than me.

Maybe this guy. Then again, it is his name.
Maybe this guy.  Maybe.

While storming the beach with my little green army men, I saw some issues with the AI.  more accurately, issues with the AI interrupted the second part of the D-Day invasion as I moved inland.  My guys, who carefully followed every command while ducking bullets and mortar shells to get to safety (relatively speaking, of course) suddenly became so stupid and suddenly had no self-preservation instinct.

As I baby sat one group of soldiers in their attempts to eradicate the Nazi roaches from the map, another company of “heroes” calmly stood completely still while the Nazi scum that I had commanded them to eradicate shot them calmly in the face.  The whole scene was quite the calm massacre on the battlefield as I stared in complete disbelief at the horror unfolding on my computer screen.

These guys played pretty good noobs. Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised when they showed up in my company.
These guys played pretty good noobs. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised when they showed up in my company.

Ultimately, good triumphed over evil, but it was made much more difficult due to the accuracy of Dark Helmet’s assertion that “Good is stupid”.  I know the game was very inexpensive, so I shouldn’t complain,but that sequence was incredibly frustrating.  I can’t imagine how angry I’d be if the bug caused me to lose an online match against another person.  Losing to a timely top deck or costly misclick in Magic or Hearthstone is enough to push me right to the brink, so that might just send me over the edge.

Unfortunately, the game hasn’t been able to crack my daily rotation and I haven’t played a single minute of the game since the disaster on D-Day.  Surprisingly, that has not factored into the decision.  I just have a limited time to play and I too often make terrible choices about what to do with that time.  Instead of trying a new game, I spend too much of that time in a futile attempt to convince myself that Hearthstone is a fun game and not a complete waste of time and resources.  I won’t say that has inspired me.  Nor will I make any promises to play the game more.  Those promises too often go unfulfilled.  I won’t even mention Fallout 3 and how Fallout 4 is actually becoming a thing.

Fallout_3_cover_art

I will finish by saying that I really did like the game in spite of the potentially game breaking bug.  I’m not usually a fan of war games, but I do enjoy a good turn based strategy game once in a while.  The story alone might be enough to keep me playing.  Also, who knows, maybe we will actually follow through on getting together for some multiplayer action.  Do you notice a common theme among my recent articles?  I’m really itching to play some games against actual live humans.  Chris and I have not been able to have our monthly nerd nights and the family has been really busy with other things to even consider finishing our Star wars campaign that we started and I wrote about last week.  Hopefully that all changes soon.  Mid term is over for school.  As I write this, my friend who plays Company of heroes texted me saying that he wants to try to set up a game soon.  Guess I need to put aside the Hearthstone and practice with some Army men.