MTG Modern Night

Hey guys and gals! Recently I took the time to attend a Modern Night at my LGS and I wanted to share not only the results of my matches but my experience as a whole. A�So what did I play? After some last minute hmm’in and haww’in combined with texts to Noob to get his last minute words of wisdom, I went with Tron, which is always a solid performer in competitive tournaments. A� I was going to go with Bushwacker Zoo as I’ve played in a few modern nights at this store and know that the regular participants usually run Aggro or Control decks, but I decided to go with giant colorless beatsticks instead.

Match 1: Tron vs Bogles

The guy I played kind of froze the minute I dropped an Urza’s Mine. A�”Yeah, I don’t do well against Tron”, he laughed. A�The minute “Tron” came out of his mouth, heads turned. I was enemy #1. A�Another player told his opponent that he hoped he got matched up with me in the next round because he wanted to see how his deck would do against Tron. I tried to ease my opponent’s nerves a bit by reassuring him that it was MY Tron deck, not the RG scourge of the tournament scene. A�By turn 3, I wished I had the RG version as I was staring at two Urza lands and an Eldrazi temple on my side with a wimpy Eldrazi Mimic as my only form of defense, and on my opponent’s side, a couple of Slippery Bogles each pumped up to Eldrazi-esque proportions with Ethereal Armor, Daybreak Coronet and Rancor. I quickly conceded. Game 2 went exactly like game 1, I wasn’t able to get the correct cards in hand to loot for the Urza Tron pieces and was dispatched of with ease. A� We shook hands and he gave me some tips for tweaking my deck to make it slightly faster. We still had another 18 minutes left before the next round began so we played a couple more casual games to pass the time. The first one went like the last 2 “real” games as he blew me out, although I sensed that he gave me an extra turn or two to get something going on my side. A�The 2nd casual game went my way as I took a chance and aggressively mulliganed to get an opening hand that I could work with. A�This tactic stuck in my head and I realized that I was playing my deck wrong. Always mulligan (well down to 5 cards if necessary) til you get an Urza land or two, a green mana source and Sylvan Scrying or forgo the hunt for the green mana source and have either the aforementioned 2 Urza lands (or 1 Urza land and 1 colorless source) with Expedition Map in your opening hand.

End of Round 1: 0-1

Round 2: Tron vs Infect

I hate infect. Just absolutely hate it. Infect is such a garbage mechanic. It’s basically the equivalent of you starting with 10 life. So yeah, I lost in 2 straight games. Hate the deck but liked my opponent as he was a really friendly guy that offered me some good advice on making my deck run better. Notice the theme? Since he won the match fairly quickly he wanted to play a couple of casual games. He suggested that I play against his Burn deck as it would be good practice for my deck. We played two really close games, he won the first and I won the second with Kozilek, the Great Distortion and basically used it’s ability to counter his spells. A�Seriously, how does Kozilek not get more love? He is basically a 12/12 counter engine that also lets you fill up your hand with cards. Total late game nightmare.

End of Round 2: 0-2

Round 3: Tron vs Grixis Control

I felt good going into this one. A�My friend has a Grixis deck that he likes to play often, so there wasn’t any surprises here. I mulliganed down to 5 to start the game and ended up with Tron in my opening hand. Unfortunately my opponent was mana screwed and only was able to put down a couple of lands. Even being screwed, Grixis isn’t a joke and he was able to fend me off for a few turns, countering everything I did, including using Remand on Kozilek back to my hand. Unfortunately Kozilek’s ability triggers when it’s cast and I was able to fill my hand with the necessary weapons to seal the game. A�On my next turn I dropped 2 Reality Smashers with an Eldrazi Mimic already in play and ended it. Game 2 was all him. Classic Grixis control game. He had an answer for everything I tried, and was able to use a devastating mix of burn spells, Snapcaster Mage and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet to take me out. A�Game 3 lasted quite a few turns as I had a hard time drawing a creature that could do some real damage. Game 1 repeated itself as my opponent was unable to hit his land drops and when he did, it seemed like I was drawing Ulamog, Ceaseless Hunger on the next turn. A�Even though it was being countered, his ability to exile permanents still triggered and I would exile his lands, keeping him at only 2 lands again. A�I ended up winning by playing Kozilek,A�and ironically, using its ability to control the control deck.

End of Round 3: 1-2

Well, I was happy that I was at least able to get into the win column, even though I knew that I wasn’t going to be a finalist as the tournament is 4 rounds and I had lost 2. A�I didn’t expect to make it to the finals even before I played the first game so I wasn’t terribly disappointed. I did regret not playing my Bushwacker Zoo as I think I could have started the tournament stronger but it is what it is. One more round to go..I was hoping to bat .500.

Round 4: Tron vs Esper Mill

My opponent was really friendly as A�we both knew that this was essentially a casual game as I was 1-2 and he was 0-3. I was battling to just finish in the middle of the pack and he was attempting to avoid being last. We chatted for a while even after the final round had started, sifting through each other’s deck and making observations. A� He told me that I should ditch blue in my deck and just stick with Green and colorless and include copies of World Breaker. I offered my opinion that although impressive, 4 copies of Liliana of the Veil didn’t fit with his deck and that there should be more Mill cards. A�Game 1 started with him casting Gitaxian Probe and looking at my hand. A�He laughed out loud because I had all the pieces of Tron in it. Nonetheless, he put up a good fight and was able to counter a lot of what I was trying to do but a Thoughtknot Seer removed a Path To Exile from his hand and a Reality Smasher ended the game as besides some Snapcaster Mages, he didn’t have much for creatures in his deck. Game 2 went his way as he milled me out after about 10-12 turns in which I had accumulated over 26 mana but had no creatures as he had milled or countered then all. A�Game 3 was all me as he had mana issues and I was able to use Ulamog to exile the few lands he had and then used Kozilek to counter whatever he tried to play.

End of Round 4: 2-2

Well I achieved my goal of at least breaking even. To be honest, even with not having the strongest showing I had an enjoyable time. I learned a lot about my deck thanks to everyone wanting to help me out between rounds. I used to be turned off of competitive Magic because of all of the horror stories of poor nerdsmanship I had heard over the last few years..but I can honestly say that I have participated in a few tournaments so far and haven’t experienced anything but good natured Magic players who are more than willing to offer advice. Now I can’t guarantee that it’s the same wherever you go to play, but I’m willing to bet that a majority of the players you run into are good people. A�And if they’re not, well, a throat punch solves everything.

Lights! Camera! Rawr!

(Editor’s Note: A�Please keep arms and legs inside of the vehicle at all times. A�If you don’t, they very well might get eaten.)

We are releasing the first episode of “Little Kid Podcast” this week. A�Yes, finally, for sure. A�I promise! A�As I often do, I started talking about dinosaurs last week and I’m going to finish up with this post about the Jurassic World movie. A�We have spent many hours in an attempt to beat the game 100% and the movie made quite an impression on him. A�Even though he’s growing up, he’s still our paleontologist in training and some part of him always will be. A�Dammit. A�I always say that I’m not going to miss it when they’re young, but I’m starting to tear up a little thinking that he won’t always be little Mr. Dinosaur.

I found myself in charge of three boys over the summer. A�This is not out of the ordinary. A�However, one of them was not mine and I was alone for the night. A�I can’t remember where my wife was, but Aiden had a friend over for his birthday and we swapped Liam and him for the night. A�I promise that all of this is relevant to the point of this post.

First, we tried watching Jurassic World a few months before and made it to the part in the movie where (spoiler alert!) the Indominous Rex went nuts and killed a bunch of people. A�Liam, who is very sensitive to that sort of violence, freaked out a bit. A�Even though some of you might consider that an overreaction, I can sympathize. A�I couldn’t watch We Were Soldiers, don’t watch Game of Thrones, and stopped watching The Walking Dead (far in advance of the most recent episode that has people in a bunch) because of gratuitous violence. A�As I said to a friend, I can get good story lines without it. A�So, since Liam was at his friend’s house and Quinn is so obsessed with dinosaurs, I thought it might be cool to try to watch it again. A�Also, I was getting close to bed time and all three were getting a bit rambunctious, so it had the added bonus of hopefully calming them down. A�I’m happy to report success on both fronts. A�We made ith through the whole movie and all boys enjoyed it enough to go to bed without incident.

Okay, story time over, so I will give my review of the movie. A�I am a huge fan of the original Jurassic Park. A�I was careful not to say series there. A�I loved the first two books and the first movie. A�I watched the second movie on the strength of the first, but quit and never watched the third. A�By the time, news of the fourth one surfaced, I was checked out completely.

More recently, I read that the original plot of the 4th movie involved human/dinosaur hybrids. A�I don’t remember if we knew that information when the movie was first announced. A�Either way, I’m glad that they never made that movie and that they waited so long to give the idea some time to few new and fresh again. A�Go back to what people loved, play on their nostalgia, and hook a new generation through their kids. A�It worked for Rocky and Star Wars.

Because, let’s be real. A�Each of these sequels is actually the original movie remade in every case. A�Sure, they changed some details to keep those of us who already saw it interested, but the overall plots are identical. A�Mind you, I’m not saying that the movies are bad. A�I saw all three of them and thought they were all entertaining. A�However, I’d be lying to say that I missed the obvious similarities. A�So, why spend time watching a movie you’ve already seen? A�While I am the type that doesn’t mind repeated viewings, I understand that some of you aren’t as forgiving. A�So, I will try to give you some incentive to see an old remake of a way older movie.

Is it too obvious to say that it is a good movie? A�It’s probably too obvious to say that it is a good movie. A� Of course you think it is a good movie, you reply. A�Why else would you be recommending it? A�Okay, I get your point. A�That being said, it is a good movie. A�I will stop being lazy and get more specific in my praise.

Pros

  • New Dinosaur – Though the name is pretty stupid and the prototype human/dinosaur hybrid with a bazooka in his chest is beyond ridiculous, the rest of the Indominous Rex story line was well executed. A�They used the time honored monster movie trope of not showing the monster right away. A�They did it right, with just enough time for the big reveal that made it satisfying. A�Plus, the kids love the dang thing so much they wanted to pool their money to buy the Lego set with the Indominous in it.
  • Raptors – I don’t remember when the velociraptors became the unoffical face of the franchise. A�I do know that the T-Rex was in the logo for the first one and Spinosaurus in the 3rd one (I know that from the Lego video game), then Indominous for the new one. A�But, the raptors have absolutely stolen the show and they are the reason that people keep coming back. A�I think it is because they show the most intelligence and people think of them as scaly carnivorous puppies.
  • Owen – I, like most people, have loved this guy since he was the goofball on Parks and Recreation. A�Then, he went and took one of my favorite comic book characters from my youth and gave him the utmost respect in Guardians of the Galaxy. A�Now, he is the lovable raptor trainer in Jurassic World. A�This guy is just having so much fun playing pretend and dress up and one of the few actors I know who could upstage the raptors as the main attraction in his scenes.

Cons

  • A bit violent – I’ve already covered Liam’s meltdown during the Indominous attack scene. A�Other than that, there is dinosaur on dinosaur violence, other dinosaur on human violence, and just a much more bloody movie than I remember the first two being. A�I’m not sure if that is just a reflection of the society or a conscious effort to ramp up the gore for some reason. A�Just be warned if you are concerned about that sort of thing.
  • Other characters – Other than Owen, the characters in the movie are either boring, one dimensional, or both. A�They certainly don’t have the same personalities as the first film. A�Look, I know that they’re selling CGI dinosaurs, but would it have killed them to flesh out the characters just a bit more. A�Who knows? A�Maybe they expected this one to flop and they could kill the franchise once and for all. A�Not likely, but stranger things have happened. A�I guess we’ll find out if the next one comes out and we are still “treated” to cardboard cutouts instead of living, breathing human beings.

Even with the drawbacks, which are minimal when compared to other movies and TV shows out there, the movie is a good one. A�I’ve watched it twice. A�It inspired us to play the Lego video game and buy a couple of the Lego sets to play together. A�If you haven’t seen it yet, give it a watch before exposing to younger or more sensitive kids. A�If you determine that it is acceptable, enjoy the ride!

Quick Hits: Jurassic World Mobile

(Editor’s Note: A�Aw, wook at the widdle bitty dinosaurs. A�Aren’t they just the cutest? A�Can I pet one? A�AAAAAAAUUUUUGH!)

I wrote in my “what I did” article that I played a lot of mobile games over the summer. A�I never considered my phone as a gaming device. A�In the past, I always played on tablets. A�I guess that I thought the small screen might make games unplayable. A�It certainly makes typing very difficult. A�Autocorrect and predictive typing are not merely responses to typographical errors. A�They are necessary to the preservation of the written (well, typed, I suppose) language.

After my latest screen related mishap with my tablet, I had no choice. A�Okay, that isn’t true. A�I could have replaced the screen again. A�But, really, what is the point. A�The tablet is 5 years old. A�This is the second time that I’ve replaced the screen. A�The most recent screen lasted only a few months before meeting a tragic end. A�I can take a hint, Universe. A�She’s buried with all of my other dearly departed electronics.

Are you there Hal?  It's me M4|?94|?3+.  Why have you forsaken us?
Are you there Hal? It’s me M4|?94|?3+. Why have you forsaken us?

I think I started by downloading SimCity Build It onto my phone as a test A�I’ve become alarmingly addicted to the game to the point of paying cash money for virtual goods. A�I swore that I would never do such a thing, but that’s the power of those tiny gibberish speaking digital beings. A�I spite of my reservations, the game played perfetly on the small screen.

I followed up with my other mobile obsession, Magic the Gathering: Puzzle Quest. A�I even played some Hearthstone. A�I know, but it is gone now because it takes up a ridiculous amount of space and the fun to space ratio was far too low to make it worth my while. A�I also tried a few other games, but none of them interested me for very long. A�Then, Quinn mentioned a Jurassic Park game that I should play.

I didn’t realize that there were two games and I downloaded Jurassic World when he was talking about Jurassic Park. A�I later downloaded Jurassic Park, but I have yet to play it. A�Therefore, I don’t know what the differences, if any, there are between the two. A�I will focus primarily on Jurassic World this time.

Pros

+ Impressive graphics for a mobile game

+ Interesting, though hastily written storyline with accompanying quests.

+ A combat system that seems easy at first, but does require some thought and strategy.

+ Probably the most generous free to play game I’ve ever played. A�A free pack every six hours contains a dinosaur about half the time.

Cons

– constantly tries to sell you packs

– PVP, if that’s your thing, is limited.

– Even though they improved it, the VIP club is still not worth the money.

Overall, the positives outweigh the negatives. A�Jurassic World Mobile is a good game. A� Whether you are a collector that has to catch ’em all, a questing adventurer who wants to play through the thin story, or a mighty PVP champion seeking the glory of the arena, the game will keep you busy on one level or another for some time. A�At least, it is worth a download and try.

65 Million Lego Bricks in the Making

(Editor’s Note: A�Rawr.)

We get back into the podcast game with the first episode of Little Kid Podcast, starring my youngest son. A�He wanted to talk about dinosaurs in the first episode, so this week’s theme overall will be dinosaurs. A�I will start the discussion with one of our favorite games over the past few months.

We’ve always been fans of the Lego games. A�So, naturally, after watching Jurassic World (more on that Friday), we had to try the game. A�I ordered it from Gamefly, as I do when we want to try before buying them. A�Hey, we’re cheap gamers!

It took me a while to finally get around to play the game. A�Aiden, Quinn, and LIam hogged it for the first month or so. A�More accurately, Quinn and Aiden played the game daily with Liam jumping in every now and then to help out. A�I didn’t start playing until they needed help on a particularly difficult mission. A�Once I played the game, I was hooked.

How can you not love a game that lets you stomp through the credits and collect coins as a dinosaur?
How can you not love a game that lets you stomp through the credits and collect coins as a dinosaur?

This should not come as a surprise. A�I have been playing Lego video games since I discovered Lego Star Wars on the Playstation 2 many years ago. A�However, the early games left much to be desired in the gameplay department. A�First, and they quickly fixed this, the original games had only one save slot. A�That became quickly apparent when the boys went to play the game and erased my almost 100% complete game file. A�I finally did finish the game 100%, but that’s still a pain in the neck.

As an aside, Pokemon games still only have one slot for save games. A�Numerous times I’v wanted to start a game only to realize that I will have to delete Liam’s or Aiden’s hard earned progress. A�Otherwise, I have to buy a new version of the game. A�And that’s really what they hope will happen.

Must catch them all. The Pikachus command it. Must put them all in a basket and apply lotion. The Pikachus command it.
Must catch them all. The Pikachus command it. Must put them all in a basket and apply lotion. The Pikachus command it.

Thank goodness that the Lego games learned from that mistake and fixed it. A�I will say that they are one of the best developers when it comes to fixing their games. A�The only other one I know of that tinkers as much publicly is Blizzard and their “balance” patches are sketchy at best for some of their games. A�Take Two doesn’t have that problem. A�Every change is necessary, in my opinion, and addresses a valid complaint.

First, these games are meant to be played cooperatively with your kids. A�I’ve already mentioned that they asked me and Liam to help them with difficult parts. A�Sure, you can plant them in front of the electronic babysitter and call it a day, but they will get to parts in the games that are difficult and frustrating for them. A�Hell, some of them are downright impossible because they were tough for me. A� When playing with a young child, the main frustration in the game comes from only being allowed to travel as far as the other player will allow you. A�When that player is constantly running into the “wall” at the other edge of the screen, you lose interest very quickly.

An artist's rendering of the offense, which used to be punishable by unplugging the controller.
An artist’s rendering of the offense, which used to be punishable by unplugging the controller. A�Then again, most offenses were punishable by unplugging the controller. A�The more serious offenses, of course, warranted a full reset of the console.

In order to prevent a plague of unplugged controllers and reset consoles, Lego fixed this issue by splitting the screen when one player gets to far away from the other. A�This broke the tether completely and allowed both players to explore the entire map independent of what wall your partner decides is his best friend. A�Makes the games infinitely more enjoyable and they were already illegal levels of fun.

The final quality of life improvement in the games is that they’ve made the main stage of the game more interactive. A�It used to be that they were mostly just for moving from level to level, occasionally hitting things for coins, or creating your character. A�But, they’ve added secret places, characters wander through the area and allow you to purchase them to play in the game, and even have their own missions to complete.

Overall, the Lego games have come a long way in the time that I’ve been playing them. A�Instead of resting on their laurels and pumping out game after game with the exact same graphics, story, and gameplay, Take Two continues to improve the game with each new release. A�The graphics get better, the controls get slightly more responsive, and the gameplay gets better by leaps and bounds. A�If you are someone who swore off the Lego games due to the limitations of the original releases, come back and play them again. A�You won’t be disappointed. A�And, if you are, go back to play some more Call of Duty: A�Good Luck with the VA department when you retire or whatever the latest version of that run down series is called.

Couldn't resist taking a shot.  Yep, we're back!
Couldn’t resist taking a shot. Yep, we’re back!