Completely Ignorant NFL Conference Championship Edition

(Editor’s Note: A�Well, those of you waiting for us to fall of the wagon, get your Nelson Muntz “Ha ha” finger pointing and “told you so”s out of the way. A�We have some football games to get wrong!)

NFC Conference Championship

The Falcons destroyed the Seahawks in a game that I was actually grateful to get wrong last week. A�I’m already sick of the Seachickens and their budding cross conference rivalry with the Patsies. A�Aaron Rodgers’ team won in the closing seconds against the Pokes and set up a dream matchup for me, even though I had the exact opposite teams in my picks. A�This is probably the hardest game for me to pick. A�I’m leaning Atlanta because they are playing at home, Matt Ryan is the pick for MVP because the other players in the running are either a rookie or missed 4 games for various reasons, and it is just a more fun story for the Falcons to finally make it to the Super Bowl. A�However, Aaron Rodgers’ team is hot right now, just knocked off one of the leading contenders to win the Super Bowl in their home, and I don’t know if you heard, but they have Aaron Rodgers on their team. A�I am genuinely split on this one, but I will take the Falcons in a high scoring affair, 35-30.

AFC Conference Championship

I was deathly afraid of the Chefs last week and it turns out that there was some basis for that fear. A�The Steelers squeaked out a win over the Chefs with one of the oddest football scores I’ve seen in a while. A�They didn’t look overly impressive in the game, only managed field goals as scores, and gave me no reason to be positive going into this week’s game against the Pats. A�I didn’t see the Pats beat the Texans as the only game that I got right last week, but I heard that they weren’t that impressive even though they won by such a large margin. A�As a Steelers fan, I feel like I’ve seen this same stupid game against the Patriots five times before and it always ends in a 34-14 score. A�I have no reason to believe that this time will be any different, so there you have it.

The Super Bowl, which will again be shunned in favor of the annual Lucas-Mullen film festival is going to be the Patriots against the Falcons. A�Look for our hastily written preview only hours before the game.

Here Comes the Sun (or Moon)

(Editor’s Note: A�We’ve been meaning to do a Noob and Sons podcast on Pokemon since our old one got lost in a shuffle of computers. A�The crazy part is that it was Episode 2, just like the Episode 2 of 2 Guys Gaming with special guest Kevin was lost. A�But, we recorded yesterday and it should be live tomorrow.)

I haven’t seriously played a Pokemon game since Diamond. A�I’ve told that story enough times and repeated it in the podcast, so I won’t tell again how love is allowing your child to delete your Pokemon save game data with a legendary Pokemon on it. A�Oops, I suppose I just did. A�That’s okay, though, because Liam returned the love, took care of me, and he captured Dialga again. A�I guess we can call it even. A�I will put him back in the will.

Congratulations, Son. You get all of my nothing! And more! A�Or, maybe less!

He’s the single reason that I’m even playing this Pokemon game after so many years. A�I mentioned that I was excited about Sun and Moon and that I might want to pick up one of the games. A�I asked him which one he wanted and he told me Moon, so I settled on the fact that if I was going to get one, it would be Sun. A�I still wasn’t positive that I’d actually go through with it. A�Then, we started kicking around the ideas that we would reboot the podcast, ultimately for the new year. A�Also, Liam got Moon and he made the comment that if people want to get into or get back into Pokemon, this is a good time to do that.

I’ll let him tell you why in his own words in the podcast, but I will give you my perspective now. A�Having not played Pokemon for a few generations, this wasn’t geared as much to me, but there is an extensive tutorial mode in the game. A�Thankfully, Game Freak and Nintendo have done what Nintendo usually does and weaved the tutorial into the introduction story. A�That is the part of the game that I found most interesting. A�I both appreciated the story–always a welcome addition to any game, in my opinion–and I was surprised to see so many new and different (to me at least) Pokemon during that introduction. A�I still have no idea what they are or what they do, but I know that they exist and that’s enough in a world where “you gotta catch ’em all”.

So, the short version of it is this. A�If you’ve never played Pokemon before, you are given an extensive tutorial to familiarize yourself with the controls of the game. A�If you haven’t played in a while but still remember the ins and outs of the game, the tutorial is story driven enough that you won’t be (too) bored by having to run through things that you already know. A�Plus, some of the new Pokemon are eye catching enough that they will keep you moving through the sometimes tedious exercise. A�If you are an experienced player, like Liam, there isn’t much here to keep you engaged. A�You basically just have to power through it or hold on to the story to anchor you as you plow your way into the heart of the game.

At least they now have the technology in the games so they don’t have this interaction anymore. Professor. I’ve know you your whole life. Also, the professor: See above.

As for the rest of the game, I assume that it is mostly just more of the same with regards to Pokemon. A�I can’t say for sure because I haven’t played beyond the tutorial yet. A�However, other than adding color when that technology became available to their handhelds and continually adding new Pokemon to the games, not much has changed since the first game. A�One of the more recent advances, that has come as a result of the DS touch screen technology is that the moves can be operated by using the touch screen. A�I know that it seems like a small improvement, and it is, but it makes battling much more intuitive. A�If, when they finally implement trainer battles in Pokemon Go, they use the same technology on the phone, it will go a long way to bringing players back to that game.

I mentioned color in the previous paragraph. A�Not only has color made the game prettier, as it has with most games, but the moves list is also color coded. A�Along with the ability to use the touch screen to select moves, color coding them allows you to better match up against resistance and weakness because you can recognize the type of move by using its identifying color. A�Again, a minor improvement, but one that has a fairly big pay off. A�That’s only counting the normal campaign mode. A�It might be even more helpful when battling against other people. A�Quickness isn’t a prerequisite for Pokemon battles. A�Still, any advantage is one that is worth exploring and exploiting, if possible.

Did I seriously just say any advantage is worth exploring and exploiting? I think I might need to take a break from watching competitive Hearthstone streams. It’s affecting me in weird ways.

In closing, I can’t wait to play some more of the game. A�It is classic Pokemon gameplay and story with just enough updated to make it feel fresh and new. A�Pokemon hasn’t quite reached the pantheon of “need to buy that new console just because they’ve released a new game” like Mario, Zelda, and Metroid, but I might now be convinced to buy the new Pokemon games as they are released. A�This game has also inspired me to take a look back at some of the Pokemon games of the past.

I’ve loaded up Pokemon Red a few times because Liam and I had the idea to either do a stream or a Youtube series walking through the game. A�I realize that we are probably a bit behind the times since Twitch Plays Pokemon made the game popular 3 years ago, but that’s nothing new for us. A�We mostly just play the games that we like and put out content that we’d enjoy. A�Hopefully it ends up being something that you all enjoy, too.

My Completely Ignorant 2017 NFL Divisional Round Picks

(Note: A�Some of you might point out that this is the second time we’ve been late on a publishing deadline. A�Some of you might not have known that until I just pointed it out. A�Well, yes, this is our second time and we promised not to make it a habit. A�But, in our defense, once is a mistake, twice is a coincidence. A�So, we have one more chance to prove ourselves.)

CFP Chamionship Game Recap

We expanded our sports related ignorance into college football earlier in the week when we picked the Championship Game. A�We really wanted to be the ones that went out on a limb and pick Clemson. A�However, the recent rise of authoritarianism and hard line politics across the world scared us off. A�If ever there was a right time for an evil empire to squash a plucky band of rebels, this is the time. A�Then again, if I had thought about it a bit more, it seems as if sports has been immune to this phenomenon and feel good stories abound. Perhaps I was too hasty in my flippant assessment that sports can cure society’s ills. A�Maybe I can explore that another day. A�For today, I was not only wrong about the game, but I was wrong about betting the under with my fake dime. A�I guess I need to be a little less ignorant about things before writing articles about them.

NFL Divisional RoundA�

Then again, I was 3-1 in my coin flip picks last weekend and I basically just troll picked the Giants for all of my Patriots fans. A�I didn’t see the Packers blowing out the Giants, but they’ve been hot recently and I thought they’d win. A� Therefore, I was more or less 4-0 with an asterisk. A�In the interest of time, and to avoid any further asterisks, I will forgo the usual nonsense and just make my picks.

The Picks: A�Pats, Chefs, Pokes, and SeaChickens. A�See you next week for the Conference Championships.

Puzzling Through Duelyst

(Editor’s Note: A�We missed our first publishing deadline of the new year. A�But, we promise not to make it a habit and will continue to crank out at least 3 new articles every week!)

We’ve been meaning to do a Duelyst article for some time now. Several factors have kept us from doing so. A�Most notably, I haven’t played the game much. A�When I first learned about it, I loved the concept and played through all of the tutorial missions as quickly as I could. A�However, I haven’t had the time to explore strategy in any significant way, so playing live opponents wasn’t that much fun, even with the gold rewards.

I still have played many live opponents. A�I’ve played against a few now and then to clear out my quest log, butt I still have no real grasp of the intricacies of the game. A�Therefore, this article will mostly be an introduction. A�I will also talk about my current favorite game mode, the daily puzzle.

If you’ve never played Duelyst, it is a difficult game to explain. A�It might also be difficult to understand the appeal of the game. A�Well, I’m doing a heck of a job selling it, that’s for sure. A�As I often say, there’s a reason that I’m no longer a salesman. A�Many reasons, actually, but the main reason is that I’m a terrible salesman. A�Though, I’m sure you deduced as much from that lame attempt.

Seriously, what do you want from me? It’s a 19 inch TV. It’s like every other 19 inch TV out there. It might have stereo, but do you realize how far away from the TV you’d have to sit in order to get the stereo effect? But this 100 dollar one instead. It’s probably the exact same TV made in the exact same Chinese factory.

In spite of my evident handicap, I will try to make a case for the game. A�First, let me see if I can even explain it. A�It has elements of a card game, but it isn’t exactly a card game. A�It plays like a miniature game, but it isn’t exactly a miniature game. A�It combines these game types into a not quite perfect conglomeration.

In an age where video games are pushing graphics, sometimes over story, Duelyst has chosen a different trend. A�The graphics have an old school 8-bit feel to them. A�This is charming and comforting to an old man gamer like me. A�It speaks to that part of my brain that responds to the “nostalgia” that I discussed in an earlier article. A�Your results may vary and the style might even turn you off.

As if all of that isn’t enough the game has (what I assume to be) a robust story and lore. A�I say that I assume because I have not actually read any of it. A�However, apparently the designers built a puzzle into the lore that took a few months to solve. A�So, they seem to be proud of their work. A�Perhaps I will read it one of these days.

Hmm, 100,000 gold, you say? Yeah, that might be worth a few hours of my time to read some silly stories.

So, what do you think? A�Old school (like way old school graphics) and an odd combination of card and mini strategy, all with a possibly decent story. A�Sound like your kind of game? A�Well, if you’re like me (and judging by the traffic, not many of you are), this is just about the perfect game. A�Even so, it has take some time to grow on me. A�But, it does finally have its hooks in me with the puzzle mode.

Before I give specifics on that, though, I should probably explain the general gameplay better than it is an imperfect combination of card and mini games. A�Okay, here goes nothing. A�There are factions similar to Hearthstone’s classes. A�Each faction has at least one general that acts as your proxy on the battlefield. A�Therefore, destroying the general effectively destroys the player. A�Now, here is where Duelyst plays more like a miniature game.

Once the minions have been summoned to the battlefield, they can move around and attack. A�The board is not a simple one tier, or even multi tier, playmat style. A�It is a chess or checkers like gameboard that allows for movement in 4 directions by both your general and minions. A�If this seems like a huge departure, it is. A�It adds so much strategy to the game beyond spamming minions or spells and pounding the opponent in the face. A�It is simultaneously a reason that Duelyst interests and intimidates me.

Me go face! Wait, where is face? This board is cheat!

As a result, I have spent much of my time in the game playing through the daily puzzle mode. A�You are faced with a, seemingly hopeless, situation and expected to solve it by the end of your turn with the resources available to you. A�It reminds me of the Magic the Puzzling page that I forget about for months at a time only to remember again randomly, like right now. A�That reminds me. A�I have a few months of puzzles to solve. A�The nice thing about the Duelyst puzzle mode is that you know right away if you have solved it or not. A�Also, there is a tangible reward at the end instead of just your name in lights on a web page.

I’m also pretty sure that the puzzles are supposed to show off mechanics in the game and potential combos in the game. A�It might also intend to give deck ideas. A�I’m not sure why, but my brain hasn’t been able to wrap itself around the first two in any reliable way. A�Sure, I understand how the cards work together and most of the time I can figure out the situation based on how those cards work, but I can’t for the life of me make those things happen without the guidance offered by the game right now.

However, I will say that I started to research (Google) different deck types in the hope of getting some ideas to start building something. A�So far, I haven’t gotten any farther than clicking a link or two, but it’s a start. A�I’d really like a practice partner where there isn’t any judgement or pressure. A�That way I’d be able to do what I do with the puzzles and make mistake after mistake until it finally clicks into place and I can figure out the different ideas that I have. A�For now, though, I guess I’ll just work on the puzzles and reintroduce myself to the MtG puzzles, too.

Last Minute (But No Less Ignorant) CFP Preview

(Editor’s Note: A�We may be last minute on this preview, but we promise that it won’t be any less ignorant than our NFL coverage. A�Plus, this is 4 articles that we’re on deadline for and that’s gotta be some kind of record!)

In spite of the fact that I tried to swear off football, I have a friend that has become a bro date for much of the college football season. A�Like many of you, we had a bit of a falling out at the end of last year. A�I will spare you the details, but I’m sure you can fill in the blanks. A�It’s only relevant because of the college football playoff championship game tonight. A�Relax, I’m not going to talk about the healing power of sports. A�We just want to expand our influence this year and I figured college football would be the easiest since I’ve watched so much over the last few years.

Granted, it was sports that finally broke the ice again. A�He texted me about some daily fantasy contest he got entered into for winning his season long fantasy league. A�I got a similar invitation last year, but I bombed out of the daily contest and I haven’t tried since. A�I barely tolerate the week to week tinkering. A�I could never draft a new team and keep track of them weekly.

But, I digress. A�the point is that apparently football, not time, heals all wounds. A�At least, college football does. A�The NFL is mediocre at best and usually just boring. A�Yet another reason not to play daily fantasy football. A�Egad, my digressing has led to another digression. A�Stop me before I digress again!

Okay, enough of that stupidity. A�Notice that I did say “that”. A�If that’s your thing, relax. A�I’m sure there will be plenty of other stupidity. A�Before that happens, though, let’s see if we can’t approximate some serious analysis. A�After all, if we’re known for anything around here, it is taking silly games seriously.

Clemson

I have, inexplicably, been a fan of Clemson since I starting paying attention to college football in high school. A�I have no specific ties to the school or state. A�Heck, I spent the first few months thinking they were in California or Nevada because their stadium is in Death Valley. A�Maybe it was a color scheme thing that attracted me.

I do know that part of the reason I started following “the U” was their color scheme. A�Since there are so many colleges in the country, it offers a wider variety of colors, mascots, and uniforms. A�The internet was still a few years from being widely available to the public, so UniWatch wasn’t a thing. A�Damn, another missed opportunity. A�Oh, well.

Also, Under Armour wasn’t yet a thing, so uniforms hadn’t gone Oregon bananas yet. A�All he budding uniform nerds had was the occasional Hurricane “mascot” or weird orange based color scheme. A�Miami had the added bonus of having started to push the envelope a bit with their uniforms by changing up the block numbers to a more sleek design and adding stripes to their jerseys. A�I may be remembering this wrong and giving them more credit for being more pioneering than they actually were.

That was the other reason that teenage me found a kinship with Miami. A�They had personality. A�They had swagger. A�They had cocaine fueled parties with guns and other questionably legal activities. A�Okay, maybe that last one wasn’t great. A�But, the rest of it spoke to a renegade spirit that tried my hardest to rebel against the rebel my father claimed could not be done. A�Turns out, in many cases, that was true. A�But, I still had Miami.

So, what does any of this have to do with Clemson? A�Who knows? A�What does any of my ramblings have to do with anything? A�Well, I don’t remember Clemson being overly swagtastic, so it must have just been the orange and purple. A�Hey, who knows what lights up the pleasure center in a teenage boy’s brain. A�I mean, other than the obvious.

Whatever the reason, fandom of both Miami and Clemson have paid off recently. A�With the team of the college of my birth city (Pitt, to put it more simply) moving to the ACC, I can now claim both schools as home conference schools. A�While Miami has only flirted with their former greatness, Clemson has been consistently at the top of the polls for the past few years.

So, what does Clemson bring to the game? A�Clemson isn’t quite the machine of Alabama. A�Other than a loss against Pitt, they had close games against Troy and NC State. A�The game against the Wolfpack even went into overtime. A�But, they did win them and 9 others and the ACC championship to impress the committee enough for a number 3 ranking.

Well, they absolutely destroyed Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl to advance. A�They only lost that one game (to my wildly inconsistent Panthers, I feel compelled to mention again) all season, have a Heisman trophy candidate at quarterback, 6 All Americans on offense, 2 on defense, and are all orange for the game. A�Hey, as we’ve seen, uniforms matter.

Alabama

I’ve also been a big fan of Alabama. A�Hey, cut and paste that for future blackmail. A�Taken in context, it is damning enough. A�Taken out of context and I might lose my dirty stinking hippie liberal membership. A�Oh well, that’s a chance I will have to take to make my art.

After my explanation of my fandom of Clemson and Miami, it might even be more inexplicable why I’d be drawn to a team like Alabama. A�They are the team of solid color uniforms, always block numbers, tradition, jerk coaches, run oriented offenses, and everything antithetical to what Miami represented at the time. A�I even rooted for them in the Sugar Bowl against Miami in 1993. A�Hey, what can I say, I’m a complicated individual.

I will say that I’m no longer a fan of Alabama and it is only for one of those reasons above. A�Well, more accurately, I’m a fan of Alabama as a college football team. A�I am not a fan of Nick Saban as a college football coach. A�During this time when it felt like progressive ideas were taking over society and even starting to seep into the cathedral of college football, Nick Saban represents the old school methods that just need to go extinct already. A�That they still work so well represents an anathema to me and much of what I hold dear, especially as an aging dirty stinking hippie. A�And, yes, that is pretty much a metaphor for everything else, too. A�Hashtag, Snowflake.

So, what does Alabama bring to the game? A�Alabama is a machine. A�They churn out draft picks, All Americans, wins, national championships, and pretty much anything else you might equate with success in college football. A�Not many of their players are household names, at least not in my household, but they’ve won 26 games in a row. A�Like I said earlier, I may not like him, but he somehow gets results.

They are the defending national champions. A�They defeated Clemson in last year’s national championship game. A�They also have 8 All Americans on the team this year. A�It’s cliche to say, but also true. A�Note: A�I saw that statement recently and hated it so much that I just repeated it in a mocking tone. A�This is Alabama. A�They’re the best team in the country and it isn’t even close.

The pick: A�Everything says that I should pick Alabama and I think I’m going to have to do it even though it pains me to do so. A�I’m rooting for Clemson with every fiber of my being and it feels like they could be the kind of team that comes back to win the next year after losing barely the year before. A�However, this is not the time for such optimism. A�This is the age of crushing defeats and near hopelessness. A�The rebels might eventually win. A�For now, though, the empire rules with an iron fist.

 

My Completely Ignorant NFL Coin Flip Weekend Preview

(Editor’s Note: A�Look for a detailed analysis of the season preview after Super Bowl weekend. A�Also, we hope to expand our reach of ignorant sports coverage into college with a preview of the BCS Championship game before Monday. A�Holy cow, this is an actual editor’s note and not an attempted joke. A�We’re either losing our edge or attempting to go legit or both. A�Personally, I hope it’s neither.)

A couple of years ago, I had the idea to pick the NFL playoffs. A�I went 9-2, missing the Broncos/Indianapolis game and getting within a Beastmode touchdown of getting the Super Bowl right as a preseason pick. A�I took that success and was going to pick the games for last season (or this or both) against a coin and compare those records to “experts”. A�Why a coin, you may ask.

Well, I’m glad you asked. A�When faced with the prospect of picking Wild Card games in those playoffs, I made the offhand remark that the teams were so close that you might as well just flip a coin. A�This year seems less random, which is always dangerous, especially when discussing the NFL. A�As most games are decided by one score or less, there is no such thing as a sure thing. A�Except, eff the Patriots. A�I can guarantee that. A�100%. A�Every time.

Oakland @ Houston (-3.5)

This game has the potential to be the worst playoff game in the history of the league. A�Look, I get that we live in a time when everything is either the best or the worst ever and there is no room for nuance. A�However, I’m not one for hyperbole. A�Let’s look at the evidence.

Oakland is a surprise team by making the playoffs after a fairly significant drought. A�That rarely ends well for a team. A�Their quarterback–a big reason that they are relevant again–got injured and they’re now relying on a far inferior back up. A�About the only team that can (and has) survived such a tragedy is New England. A�Eff the Pats.

Houston is the perpetually underperforming team that they always are. A�It’s just that this year, Indianapolis decided to give in to peer pressure and stink like the rest of the division. A�Houston didn’t lose their starting quarterback, but they might as well have with Brock Osweiler under center. A�They did, however, lose JJ Watt and I’ve heard less imaginative people call him the quarterback of their defense.

When you take all of that into consideration, I see no compelling reason to watch this game. A�Heck, I’m having trouble focusing enough to pick it.

My pick: A�What to you mean I have to pick it? A�Does that mean I have to watch it? A�Dear God, I hope not. A�Okay, I pick the Texans to get annihilated by the Pats round 2. A�Eff the Pats.

Detroit @ Seatttle (-8)

This game promises to be bad, but in an entirely different way. A�Then again, maybe it will have some of the same awfulness. A�Detroit somehow made the playoffs, even though they stink like the Raiders. A�Okay, I guess that’s only one similarity. A�It still promises a terrible game.

Seattle is one of the elite teams of the last 5 years. A�Detroits bores us to death every Thanksgiving Day for some reason. A�Seattle has a Super Bowl winning quarterback. A�Detroit has…a quarterback, I assume. A�I mean, they have to have at least one on the roster, right? A�Seattle has a home field advantage that is so notorious that people think a 7-1 year is akin to 5-3. A�Okay, that last one is a bit of a stretch. A�I know of one person (Cousin Sal) that made that calculus, but quoting “people that know things” is part of this post fact world.

My pick: A�No matter how much of an exaggeration that last “fact” is, Seattle should roll in this game.

Miami @ Pittsburgh (-10)

I usually spare you my pictures with witty captions in these sports article. I’m also not much of a selfie guy. However, this picture approximates my face when I saw that line for the Steelers.

Okay, Pittsburgh is my team. A�I know these guys and their tendencies because I watch them and pay attention. A�You’d think so, right? A�Nope. A�Similar to a trip to Pats (Eff the Pats) training camp a few years ago, I can only name 3 players on the team and one of them only because he inexplicably still plays for them (James Harrison). A�I’ve watched more college than NFL again this year and I was more excited about Pitt’s annual appearance in the Toilet Bowl than the Steelers making the playoffs.

However I did watch the “Christmas Day miracle” against the Rats. A�I kept saying during the game that they’d either lose that one and be eliminated or get destroyed by the Pats (Eff the Pats) in the AFC Championship. A�Recent events have diminished some of that optimism, but Vegas really likes the Steelers and other fans are afraid of them for some reason. A�I think it is all Antonio Brown and his fantasy prowess.

Okay, enough about the Steelers. A�The Dolphins are in the same situation as the Raiders with their starting quarterback. A�The only difference is that their starter is only minimally better than their backup. A�Also, they have the dirtiest player in the game, Ndamukong (I had to Google his name twice to spell it right) Suh. A�Okay, enough about the Dolphins.

My pick: A�I still think the Steelers will win this game, maybe even convincingly, but I’m much more worried about the Chefs round 2 than I was the Raiders 2 weeks ago.

New York Giants at Green Bay (-4.5)

Now we’re talking! A�This is a game that people are excited to watch. A�Not me, of course, but I’ve heard people say that it is the best game of the weekend. A�Eh, who knows. A�Maybe the social media hype will get me and I’ll pay attention to the game.

Chris and I were talking a few weeks ago and I said that it would be funny to see the Giants run the table again so that I could watch Pats fans poop their pants over losing to Eli once again because eff the Pats. A�He isn’t convinced that the Giants will make it that far, but I hold out hope. A�Apparently, the big news for the Giants this week is that Odell Beckham went to Miami or something? A�I have no idea. A�That’s all I could make out from captioned ESPN while I rode a stationary bike at the YMCA the other day.

As far as Green Bay is concerned, they have Aaron Rogers. A�He seems to have taken Peyton Manning’s place as the other guy to Tom Brady’s golden boy. A�He makes a ton of commercials and is still one of the best. A�Um, unlike Peyton, though, Rogers! seems to be doing it with duct tape and paper clips, MacGyver style. A�Other than Rogers!, I can’t name another player on the team, except for “blonde guy on defense who thinks he is Hulk Hogan, but isn’t Kevin Greene”.

My pick: A�I think I’ve picked all home teams, so I will pick this one as my odd ball. A�Giants in a close one. A�Start pooping, Pats fans.

Stay off the Mean Streets

(Editor’s Note: A�Hey, kid, come down this dark alley. A�I got some free card packs for ya.)

Instead of, once again, starting an article about Hearthstone with our undying hatred for the game, I will attempt a little positivity. A�I am positive that I hate every aspect of this game. A�There we go. A�I feel much better now that the positivity is flowing through this article and that I’ve balanced my chakras and stuff.

The latest expansion, Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, has only cemented my distaste. A�In fact, I feel like encasing this game in cement to sleep with the fishes. A�I haven’t even played it that much over the past few months. A�I checked out, mostly for good, during the height of aggro shaman and haven’t seen anything that makes me want to come back. A�I still “grind” to rank 20 for the card back and do the occasional quest with Tavern Brawl for the pack, but that’s the extent of my Hearthstone playing career recently.

To be honest (and I don’t know why I wouldn’t be honest about this), Duelyst has been my PC guilty card game pleasure. A�I have no strategy yet, so I don’t play competitively. A�However, they have a daily puzzle that rewards 5 gold and their quests are much more noob friendly, so I have been able to pick up some cards. A�Soon, I might try to build my own decks.

Well, this looks promising.

But, and I say this now with some trepidation, this article is about Hearthstone. A�So, what are the problems with Hearthstone? A�And, if the game is so bad, why is it so popular? A�Well, I will answer the second question first. A�Mainly, I start there because Liam and I just had the conversation last night and I’m proud of my conclusion. A�Mind you, it isn’t necessarily original, but I’m still proud of myself for tracing over connect the dots already completed by others. A�Hey, it’s the new American A�way, right?

For most people, Hearthstone is a nightmare to play. A�There is to much randomness built into the game. A�In addition, one of the primary spokespeople for the game promises that it will always be a focus because, he believes, that it adds to the skill cap. A�I still can’t square that circle. A�Then again, I’m not a programmer of a multi-million dollar gaming company. A�But, I digress. A�the result of this random nature of the game is that many players see it as inhibiting their progress in the game.

Some will (and have) argue this point, but they’re not wrong. A�If you are a weekend warrior in the game, the randomness is exaggerated and you will lose games because of it. A�This can be frustrating, so players stop playing. A�That’s what finally happened to me. A�Those who keep playing are the ones who have the time and money to invest in the game and play for hours at a time. A�Over the long haul, the randomness evens out and eventually you can even outgain it if you “git gud” at the game.

Okay, after that display of skill, here’s where it all comes together. A�Many of those players and Hearthstone have benefited from the rise of Twitch as an entertainment platform. A�the game is visually pleasing, has sometimes entertaining sound bites, and usually compelling gameplay. A�To make a long story short (too late!), for most people, it is much more fun to watch than to play. A�It joins games like Starcraft and LoL (though those games have a much higher skill cap) as spectator driven games. A�Viola! A�A game that many people don’t like is still very popular.

Now, other than randomness, what is so bad about the game? A�Well, I said that I bailed when aggro (and more specifically face) shaman was popular. A�The strategy, if you can call it that, consisted of spamming minions to the board and hitting the opponent in the face. A�After some nerfs, this deck eventually morphed into a more midrange one. A�That meta was initially more interesting as it was more about outvaluing the opponent instead of strictly punching face. A�However, as tends to happen, the net deckers took over and that was literally the only deck being played.

Enter the expansion! A�Enter new cards! A�Enter a new meta with new decks and a new class! A�While the last comment is intended to be a joke, in reality, the whole thing is a joke. A�Sure, priest is now viable when it wasn’t before. A�Yes, there are new cards and technically new decks. A�You know there’s a however coming here, right?

Psyche! Instead of a however, I’m coming at you with a big but!

But, the most powerful “new” deck is just a variation of an old deck (Renolock), many of the other new decks are simply carbon copies of one another (pirate *fill in the blank*), and miracle rogue is still a thing. A�So, Chris had a point when he said that the game won’t ever be much more than a card version of Rock ’em, Sock ’em Robots.

Bear in mind that I have not played the game for any significant amount o f time over the last few months and I am sick of it. A�I can only imagine how badly it triggers people who actually play the game every time they hear, “Who goes there?!” *Cannon* “I’m in charge, now!” as they face yet another stupid pirate deck. A�Personally, it might drive me to murder.

Just more evidence that Blizzard doesn’t give a crap as long as people continue throwing money at this stupid game.

You’re natural reaction at this point might be to ask if there is any reason at all to play the game. A�In all honesty, my answer is no. A�If you haven’t been playing and enjoying the game, there is nothing in this expansion that will entice you to want to start or return. A�i’m going to stick with my plan of taking free stuff and getting better at Duelyst. A�I’m also on break, so who knows? A�Maybe Chris and I can get together for some Magic and I can focus my energy on a real card game.

Pros: A�Um, yeah, about that. A�We always try to find the positive in games, but this one has exhausted even my good will. A�I mean Tavern Brawl is sometimes fun and the occasional Arena can give good rewards.

Cons: A�If you like repetitive gameplay, facing the same deck (no matter the class choice) over and over, and a lack of creativity in general, then Hearthstone is for you. A�I don’t, and the game is getting so monotonous that I’m even having trouble watching it.

The verdict: A�There are so many other card games to occupy your time. A�My advice is to play one of them instead.

Old is the New New

(Editor’s Note: A�Remember when…)

A few months ago, I saw an advertisement for an official Nintendo authorized mini NES. A�It comes programmed with 30 classic Nintendo games like Super Mario Bros 1-3, Metroid, and the Legend of Zelda. A�Regular readers of the page (welcome back to both of you!) will know why I mentioned those specific three games. A�They will also be shocked to hear that I have no intention of buying the console. A�I know! A�Believe me, I am just as shocked as you. A�This goes against everything that I hold dear about Nintendo. A�I am a traitor and a fraud! A�*loud noises*

For those who are new to the page, welcome! A�As always, I hope you enjoy yourselves and come back for more. A�To explain the end of that paragaph, I have often said that Nintendo need only release a Mario, Zelda, and Metroid game on a system and I will buy it. A�Heck, often times, they can just rerelease an old game via their Virtual Console and I’ll still buy it. A�But, I’m not doing it this time. A�My reasons are numerous enough that I won’t go into them, but the main reason is that I already own those games and can play them through questionably legal emulators.

The reason that I bring it up is that I did my version of research for this article and discovered a similar retro style Genesis system. A�now, I’m probably not going to buy that one either–because, emulators–but it got me thinking. A�I know, I know. A�What doesn’t get me thinking, right? A�What can I say? A�I have an active mind and I tend to follow it down every dark path it takes me. A�Sometimes it pays off. A�Other times, I get eaten by a grue. A�The best part is that we all get to find out what happens this time together.

As long as we stay out of the basement, we should be safe.

Neither of these should come as a big surprise. A�I’ve always known that nostalgia is big business. A�Well, perhaps, “always” is stretching it. A�Ever since I watched MTV (was it even MTV or am I remembering it incorrectly?) try to force nostalgia on our generation by attempting to revive Woodstock in the 90s and early 2000s, I knew that companies were in the business of exploiting memories for monetary gain.

It’s weird that I’m experiencing it first hand. A�When faced with the prospect of a strictly financially motivated Woodstock, even as a rebellious teen I was insulted. A�You’d think that I’d be even more insulted that it is my own memories that are now for sale. A�But, I’m not.

I’m mostly ambivalent about the phenomenon, as my attitude about the retro systems clearly shows. A�In other cases, I’m actually excited about, enjoying, and contributing to the commercialization. A�New Star Wars and Rocky movies that are little more than retelling the original story? A�Sign me up! A�An endless stream of Marvel entertainment in the form of movies and TV shows? A�Pleas, Sir, can I have some more? A�2D Mario games? A�Pokemon on my phone? A�A new version of Blood Bowl and Mutant League Football? A�Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!

Y’all got any more of that nostalgia?

This all begs the question, “Why was I more offended by the appropriation of a music festival that happened before I was even a twinkle in my parents’ eyes than by exploitation of my own childhood?” A�I think that I already know the answer, but I will give each theory the proper diligent analysis. A�It’s the least that I can do as a man of logic and reason. A�Plus, I have a reputation to uphold as far as word counts are concerned. A�Truthfully, and with some shame, I have to admit that I’m more worried about maintaining the second reputation under the guise of the first.

Wait, what?

Nothing. A�Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

These are the kinds of references you get when you are a theater dad.

So, allow me to present my logical and well reasoned arguments. A�Maybe I was too overcome with emotion to even notice. A�Take back to a simpler time when I didn’t have to worry about anything other than cereal and morning cartoons, I worried only about those things. A�This theory loses steam rather quickly. A�It is true that I was initially overcome with a deep sense of nostalgia as soon as the opening scrawl rolled on Star Wars. A�Creed took a little longer to trigger, but eventually I came around. A�I excitedly analyzed Creed’s fighting style, noting his weak side and that hte fight scenes exposed that consistently through the movie. A�However, through it all, I still recognized that they were feeding us the same storyline in both movies.

At least Star Trek had the decency to admit that the characters were the same and made no pretense of originality. A�It felt that much fresher when the storyline took a bit of a different turn and incorporated Leonard Nimoy into the movie. A�Maybe the Star Trek experience jaded me to the others because I already knew the trick going into them. A�In any case, I knew that they were manipulating me and I didn’t care.

Another possibility that exists is that I noticed the manipulation, but that I overlooked it because I am a proud father who wants to share these things with my children. A�This theory already holds more water than the first because I just spent a paragraph explaining that I noticed the manipulation. A�Now, I just have to spend another paragraph explaining why my love for my children did not overshadow that knowledge and set up the big reveal of the actual reason that I have concluded to explain this seeming contradiction.

The game is afoot. No reason for this picture other than I have an unhealthy man crush on Benedict Cumberbatch.

First, and this shouldn’t need to be said, but I will because this is the internet and everyone misinterprets on the internet. A�I do love my children. A�I know that it’s a controversial stance, but dammit, I’m not backing down. A�I also want to share these things from my own childhood with them. A�So, I suppose that is another point in favor of this theory. A�However, that love and desire to share did not obscure my ability (as seen in the previous paragraphs), nor recognize, nor care about the corruption of my youth by the darker forces of capitalism.

And, finally, we come to a conclusion. A�I leave it to you to judge if it is a satisfying one or not. A�My parents are hippies. A�”Long hair, freaky people need not apply” hippies. A�They owned the Woodstock on vinyl and I heard the album many times through their lens. A�I always felt that the original Woodstock was a pure expression of a love of music and humanity. A�When MTV brought the festival back, it felt like a perversion of that love in the name of money.

My childhood made no pretense of love for humanity or art. A�Comics, movies, cartoons, and even the cereal that I loved so much was only in existence to sell more comics, movies, action figures, and cereal. A�The whole lot of it was just one big commercial aimed at kids and their parents to spend, spend, spend. A�So, it was pretty much par for the course when the new money grab started up and targeted my paycheck and made the attempt to grab my kids for the long haul. A�Of course, all of this could be complete nonsense, but it’s how I’ve interpreted the situation.

What do you think?