High Score episode 4 out of 6. I said it several times in the article, but thank goodness for episode 3. It renewed my faith in the series that I thought was going to end up being a one hit wonder. I know that sounds harsh, potentially jettisoning a series because of only one episode.
I mean, there’s precedent for such a thing. I stopped watching Walking Dead after a particularly violent opening scene. I think it was the season premiere for season 3. I’m not entirely sure. But, I haven’t been back since. It’s worth noting that I did the same with the comic. No, not Glenn. I stopped long before Glenn. Like most of this “shock factor” entertainment, it just becomes too much at some point.
Nintendo – “The 900 lb Gorilla”
So, I mentioned in the Nintendo episode review (that’s the one that was so bad that I thought I’d have to avoid the rest of the series, or at least endure it simply to talk about how bad it was) that they never mentioned Sega. I think I said something at the time about them wanting to give Sega their own episode.
Now, of course, I know that part was true. I also understand that it might have been a conscious decision on their part to set it up that way. For those of us who didn’t care much about market share, we had no idea that Nintendo was the “big bad” in the scenario. To have mentioned Sega in their episode would have been punching down. More on the console wars later.
Sega Guy – “Rock the Rock”
I made the mistake of calling the Nintendo World Champion “Nintendude” and it’s not just because there’s a contemporary streamer named that today. He just wasn’t much of a “dude”. His whole story had the antiseptic feel of the rest of the episode.
Not so for Chris Tang or his conquest of “The Rock”. True to form, Segga went over the top for their championship. It was held on Alcatraz. MTV was there with Bill Bellamy and Daisy Fuentes. I watched with bated breath at the thrilling conclusion. Our hero was the underdog in the final round! What isn’t there to love about Sega? More on that in a bit.
Gordon Bellamy – “True Gamer Inspiration”
In keeping with both underdog stories and, “Hey, I know that name!” recognition, I present the story of Gordon Bellamy. The story started with Trip Hawkins, a name that most from the 90s will recognize. I never played the original Maddens on consoles. It wasn’t until the Playstation that I discovered sports games. I did play Madden on my Commodore 64 (yeah, any of you who question my OG gaming credentials can kindly Eff off) and discovered a glitch that allowed me to score a touchdown every time I touched the ball.
Okay, enough of that. Let’s talk about Gordon Bellamy. He basically got his job by annoying the developers at EA until they gave him a chance. He repaid them by changing video game history for the better. He introduced alternate skin colors into Maden so that all of the players weren’t white anymore.
Sonic the Hedgehog – SEGA!
During the great console wars of the 1990s, I was a definite Sega guy. Sure, Nintendo always speaks to the child inside of me. But, Sega screams at the reckless teenager. Let me start by saying that I’m generally unimpressed by marketing.
However, watching the plan that Sega put together to “take down” Nintendo and then watching that plan unfold before my eyes was pure nostalgic bliss. I know that people think there are console wars these days and there are. But, it’s mostly just fan boys screaming at each other on message boards. Sony and Microsoft feel like co-conspirators in the whole charade. Yes, get off my lawn.
For some reason, it won’t let me embed, but I did go into Quinn’s room to scream “Sega!” at him, so marketing does work on some level.
The Verdict – “High Score episode 4 is awesome
The subtitle is the TLDR of this one. Sorry it took so long to get around to it. But, it makes it no less true. High Score episode 4 is amazing. It reaches the lofty heights set by episode 1 and makes me excited for the rest of the series again. Join me in a couple of days for episode 5.
Thank goodness for High Score episode 3. After episode 2, I was worried that it was a one hit fluke. Even early in this episode, I started to wonder if it was going to be worth my time. Even though it took a bit to warm, up, eventually I was sold again. Plus, it looks like episode 4 is about SEGA!
This one centered around role playing games and their impact on video gaming history. I have been a role playing game enthusiast since I discovered Dungeons and Dragons through The Elven Nations trilogy. I then read the Dragonlance Chronicles and Legends and I was hooked.
Ken and Roberta Williams – “Nerds in Love”
This is the part of the episode that I thought was going to continue the slide into mediocrity. It was a story of a man and a woman who bonded over their mutual love for both role playing games and programming. Actually, I think only one of them was a programmer. Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised.
I don’t know if I just had a hangover from the Nintendo episode or what. But, initially, I reacted quite viscerally to this love story. However, as they both told their story and the episode incorporated more stories into the tapestry and I walked out with a warm and fuzzy feeling for these two people. Good story and great story telling.
Dungeons and Dragons – “Cult Following”
As soon as they mentioned Dungeons and Dragons in the episode, I knew they’d drag up the old Satanist fears. Granted, they telegraphed their move a bit by calling it a “game with a cult following”. Plus, the mention was minor and barely even registered. I was much more bothered by their coverage of the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. I don’t mean how they covered it. Simply, it brought up bad memories and made me realize, yet again, that we simply don’t learn from our pasts.
Random Fact: It’s been a while since I’ve had one of these. But, it’s one of the few “fun” facts that I have from the wild and crazy D&D games of my youth that people will actually care to hear. The “Satanic cult” rumors about the game traveled so far and wide that the company (TSR at the time) chose to change the name of their Wicca to Wokani out of respect to the witches. So, those of you who say that WotC are being to PC. They might be, but D&D has a long history of being inclusive.
Final Fantasy – “Born of Art”
Final Fantasy has been with me almost as long as Dungeons and Dragons. I played the original Final Fantasy Legend I and II on the original Game Boy. Yes, that green screened monolith of portable gaming entertainment. The Final Fantasy Legend I, along with Final Fantasy 3 (V in Japan, I think…nope, VI), are two of the best games that I’ve ever played. I don’t know if I’d put them both in my top 5, but they’re definitely top 10.
The most interesting part of this story was the way that they introduced the game. They showed and talked to an artist. Even though I didn’t remember his name, I knew as soon as I saw his art exactly what game they were talking about. It’s just so iconic. Even though back in the 8-bit days, it barely did him any justice, you could still see the seeds of that art in those tiny sprites. Also, he was a good sport about it and said the conversion process made them “cute”.
Gay Blade – “The Game is the Quest”
I alluded to this section earlier when I talked about their coverage of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. It is told through the context of a gay and lesbian RPG created by a programmer named Ryan Best. I’d never heard of the game before, so the entire story behind the creation, loss, and subsequent discovery of the game again was truly inspiring. I’ve found a link to the game, so I’m probably going to download and play through.
Well, during the story, they went through the 1980s and the reaction to the AIDS crisis. There was the whole gamut of the “AIDS is God’s retribution for homosexuality” from the right wing nutters of the day. Note: Many of those nutters or their proteges are still alive today. So, I’m not sure why I expected things to have changed. But, this story affected me deeply and I found myself crying during the telling.
The Verdict (High Score episode 3 is a redemption)
After the let down of episode 2, I was questioning my undying support of the series. Even early in High Score episode 3, I wondered if the first episode was just a fluke. I’m glad that I didn’t overreact and turn it off. This episode was amazing. And, I can say with utmost confidence that episode 4 is fun as hell, too. Join me next time when I review probably my favorite time in history, the Sega/Nintendo rivalry.
A word of warning about High Score episode 2. I didn’t find it as entertaining or engaging as episode 1. In fact, the episode was so uninteresting to me that I’m reconsidering my effusive praise after the first episode. I appreciate that they’re trying to mix lesser known stories with the history that we probably all know. However, something was missing from that mix in episode 2.
I’m not entirely sure what went wrong. I can say for certain that one big name was missing from the episode. As far as I saw, there was no mention of Sega. I assume that’s because they are waiting to give Sega their own episode. I thought they might start with the Sega/Nintendo rivalry. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.
Jeff Hansen – “I’ve Seen This Story Before, But Better”
High Score episode 2 follows the same formula as episode 1 in at least one way. They chronicle Jeff Hansen through his experience as a competitor in the first Nintendo World Championships just like they did Rebecca Heineman in her pursuit of Space Invaders glory. But, here’s where the theme of the episode comes into play again.
His story just wasn’t as interesting as hers. They tried to play him out as an underdog. He didn’t advance in his first attempt and then he had to travel to Tampa Bay for one “last chance”. But, he just wasn’t as much of a personality as she was. It was just weird overall to follow up with almost the exact same storyline only not as interesting.
Gail Tilden – “Dragon Lady”
I had a feeling that I might not enjoy this episode as much when they first introduced Gail Tilden. She worked in some department or another for Nintendo. Advertising, maybe? Who the hell knows. She was titer testing wine in her first scene. Yeah…
But, they pulled off the seemingly impossible. Even after I rolled my eyes so hard, I thought they might get stuck there at her introduction, they made me sympathize for her. Granted, it is probably just my personal bias against even casual misogyny. However, one of the guys called her the “Dragon Lady” and then they showed her as overbearing and intimidating. *sigh*
Shaun Bloom – “Nintendude”
Speaking of Nintendo Power, before the magazine, there were the Nintendudes. That wasn’t their actual name, but that’s a missed opportunity for sure. In my opinion, the most entertaining part of the episode was the story of Shaun Bloom. Shaun is just an entertaining guy.
I mean, he lived during a time before streaming and YouTube influencers. It was a time of, “Dude, I can get paid to play video games!” I mean, there’s still some of that, but it was truly a time where such a career path was enough to blow your mind. And, Mr. Bloom played that part perfectly. Even if you don’t watch the rest of the episode, definitely fast forward for his part.
Super Mario is everywhere (But where is Miyamoto?)
One of the major complaints that I have about episode 2 is that Shigeru Miyamoto plays only a minor role. I get that they are trying to focus more on some of the lesser known stories in video games. However, if you are going to use Mario to sell the episode, you have to give his creator more than just a passing mention.
Look, I get that you are probably still “Yeah, but”ing me. And, that’s fine. Everyone has a big but. We can talk about your big but. My big but is “But, having Miyamoto in the episode more would have made it infinitely more entertaining.”
The Verdict – High Score episode 2 makes me less excited to watch the rest of the series
I was very high on this series after the first episode. It was just the right amount of information and entertainment. Episode 2 fell off a bit for the reasons I listed. I’m still going to give it a second, third, and however many more episodes there are, chance. It’s just too tempting to not watch. I especially want to see if they do an episode on Sega since they missed the opportunity to talk about the great console wars of that time. Join me in a couple of days for episode 3!
I watched “High Score” Episode 1 yesterday while I was working out. It was suggested to me by Netflix when I logged into the account to watch another docuseries I had been watching, “Champions”. Well, not one to pass up history of video games, I switched for the next week or so. Look, I realize that this isn’t at all related to Nintendo or Pokemon, as promised earlier in the week. However, TLDR, it was good enough to inspire me to write this review.
Space Invaders – “Grandpa”
There’s a reason that I went gender specific with the subtitle and it isn’t strictly personal bias. They mention in the episode that women felt left out of the realm of video games. I think the exact quote was, “There are no games for women.” That’s not a surprise. For much of the history of math and related subjects, women have been a footnote of that history. Unless, they are seen as consumers to be exploited. But, more on that in the next section.
My favorite part of the Space Invaders story is that a woman became the first Space Invaders world champion. And so, once again, a woman ignored the restrictions placed on her by society and proved herself as the “best man for the job”. Congrats, Rebecca Heineman, your story was inspiring and I genuinely smiled at the conclusion.
Before we move on, a couple of notable factoids. The game was so popular that arcades were often called “Invader houses”. Also, Japan suffered a 100-yen coin shortage because of that popularity. Crazy.
Pac-Man – “A little somethin somethin for the ladies”
I will give the compsci nerds credit. When they realized that women weren’t playing video games, they tried to do something about it. Generally speaking, that segment of the population (be it women or men like me) aren’t attracted to games that are simply shooting at things. Enter Pac-Man.
The creator of the game insists that the iconic shape is, in fact, inspired by a pizza with one slice missing. No idea if that’s actually true, but it does validate years of speculation. During the segment, they talk to two teenage girls from the time that seem to uphold the theory that Pac-Man brought girls into video games. I’m not sure what it says about me that I’ve always preferred Pac-Man from that generation of video games.
I hadn’t planned on ending each section with a random factoid, but I have one for our round yellow friend. His name was originally Puck Man, which makes more sense. However, as Puck very easily becomes a well know obscenity, they changed it.
Father of the Cartridge – Jerry Lawson
They interviewed his kids in High Score episode 1. Unfortunately, he passed away about 10 years ago. However, when his son said his name, I paused briefly and said, “Hey, I know that name.” It’s no wonder why. For a generation of gamers my age, he revolutionized the way we played. No longer were consoles restricted to one game any more.
With cartridges, as his son says, your library increased exponentially. Alas, other than video game historian nerds like me, his name has been relegated to an afterthought. Once Atari got into the cartridge business, nobody else stood a chance. More on that 900-lb gorilla in the next section.
Random Factoid: When I was younger, I split my head open and had to get 14 stitches. My parents, so impressed by my handling of the situation, let me get a gift. I chose Jungle Hunt because I played the game in the arcade and enjoyed it so much. Incidentally, when we got the Atari 7800, I bought the game again, making it the first game I purchased more than once.
Atari – “Big Bad”
Like most people at the time, I loved Atari. Even after they crashed and burned with ET (see next section), I still loved the company and support them even today. I haven’t ordered their new console, yet. However, one of the first things I do when I get a new computer is download Stella and a few of my favorite games.
I probably should have, but I had no idea that they were such bullies in the industry. It started innocently enough as a bunch of guys making video games. Then, the company sold to Warner and its a tale as old as time. The suits tried to squeeze every last penny out of the company. They sued a bunch of college kids for making improvements to their games. They bullied Midway into allowing them to release a version of Pac-Man using pretty much the same technology that they attempted to end with the lawsuit. And then, their come uppance.
Random Factoid: I promised a conversation about ET in the next section. Before that, I did want to speak on the process. Apparently, the programmer had 5 weeks to program the game. At the time, it took anywhere from 6-8 months to develop a game. Also, when meeting with Steven Spielberg (after only 36 hours to develop a pitch), the programmer said that Spielberg wanted the game to be more like Pac-Man. See, it could have been worse.
ET – What’s Love Got to Do With It?
Apparently, you can’t have a video game documentary without mentioning ET. Hell, they made a whole movie about that single game. As is often the case, the story is a bit more complicated than just ET killed Atari.
But, for the sake of this article, I’m choosing to be poetic about it. Karma can be swift and furious vengeance. Atari paid for their hubris when they made the “worst game ever.
Random Factoid: I know I’ve told this story before, but here goes. I liked the ET game. Yes, the controls are frustrating. Sure, given more time, they could have polished it a bit more. But, I played the hell out of it and beat the game. Hell, it is one of the games that I download first after configuring Stella. It certainly doesn’t deserve the reputation it’s gotten. Alas, that’s how myths grow.
The Verdict – High Score episode 1 makes me want to watch the rest of the series
If you read the TLDR at the beginning of the article and you are still here, it bears repeating. High Score episode 1 is entertaining and engaging. I’m looking forward to watching the other five episodes. If you like human interest stories or video games, then I think you’ll like this series. Come watch with me!
What have I been doing in Pokemon GO Summer 2020? Well, first an explanation. We took an unintended break for a couple of days. I meant to post this on Saturday, but then we were on a last vacation of summer over the weekend. Then, if I’m being perfectly honest, I forgot about my plans for the page for this week. I was going to do DOOM this week and I think Nintendo next week for our retro week.
I swear that I didn’t just mention DOOM so that I could share the inkjet printer running the game again. Okay, it wasn’t the only reason. The point is that I haven’t prepared properly to write about DOOM this week, so I’m pushing it back to next week and talking about Nintendo this week.
Yes, Pokemon GO isn’t strictly retro. However, the source material certainly is. I remember when I was first introduced to Pokemon. I was working at K-Mart and a woman inquired about the game. Having heard a news report, I diligently repeated back to her what I had heard about the “Pocket Monsters”. A few weeks later, I bought Pokemon Red for my original GameBoy. Yes, I’m intentionally leaving dates out, but those subtle clues should lead you in the right direction. Nevertheless, let’s see what’s up with Pokemon Go Summer 2020.
That’s a valid question. We haven’t talked about Pokemon GO on the page in over 3 years. Well, that’s not entirely true. I did do a quick update article in June. It might have been under the same circumstances as this one. I should also probably read that article to make sure that I’m not just repeating myself. Okay, that article was a review, so there’s no chance of a repeat. Now, let’s answer the question.
But, those of you who are regulars at the page know that isn’t always as simple as I just made it sound. Oftentimes, answering a question means meandering from topic to topic before I actually give a succinct answer. So, meander with me. Part of the reason that I forgot about the web page was that I’ve been working on another of my recent hobbies.
A few years ago, I learned about microprocessors and I saw that I could get an Arduino board and some components for a good price. I did a few of the projects from the book, but life got in the way and it’s too easy for me to make excuses to not do anything, so I ignored them for a while. Aiden had taken his out (because I bought one for him and Liam) and that inspired me to mess with mine again. I asked Aiden to join me, but he and Liam have been battling it out in Pokemon X and Y for the last few days.
Well, something reminded me that I was going to write about DOOM this week on the web page. Simultaneously, I remembered the stories that I had been writing up until last week. I have too many hobbies and not enough discipline to plan accordingly. So, to answer the question. It’s now because I forgot and then I remembered.
What’s Changed in 2 Months?
In all honesty, nothing. I’m not sure why I planned this article for the weekend. Maybe I just forgot that I had written the review in June. Oh well. I need to get back in to the practice of writing and this article will help with that.
So, what’s happened? They tried a virtual Pokemon GO Fest. I wasn’t able to get the full experience because we were on vacation. Something went wrong and they did a do over. Again, I wasn’t able to partake because we were on vacation. Other than that, I finally got 50 km walked in a week and the game is still keeping me entertained on a daily basis. Get out there and join me
Welcome to Adventures in Dice Masters! Honestly, though, I can’t promise that it will be all that adventurous. But, we are talking about Dice Masters. So, you are getting genuine retro content during our promised retro content month to celebrate the anniversary of the page. The only reason I know about Dice Masters is that I picked up a set so that we could review it when the podcast was still active.
So, why now for Dice Masters? Well, we went on our annual family vacation to Cape Cod a couple of weeks ago. That’s why we weren’t around for a week. You all noticed that and missed us, right? Right?! Well, in any case, Liam suggested that we play Dice Masters. I don’t know if he was serious or if he thought I might forget or blow him off.
I didn’t. As soon as we got home and settled in, I pulled out the cards and started sorting through them. Life as a collector is generally getting excited that you received a shipment of cards or comic books before the sobering realization that you now have to organize and find a place to store your new goodies. And that, my friends, begins our Adventures in Dice Masters. I told you that it might not be all that adventurous.
I have to admit that I’m not very well versed in the strategy of Dice Masters. We have played the game a few times, but certainly not enough for me to know all of the key words and most of the cards like I do Magic the Gathering. So, when putting together my team, I started with the Green Dragon from Dungeons and Dragons. Why did I choose this particularly powerful (maybe?) and potentially game ending (not so far) card of doom to start my team? I just wanted to use an card not from the Marvel Universe. For whatever reason, we have a twice as many Marvel cards as DC and only a handful of Dungeons and Dragons. I wanted to vary my team with the three universes.
While reading the Green Dragon card, I noticed that it had an ability that allowed you to spin down the dice of your opponent. I thought that was an interesting addition that the dice allow that cards don’t. With card games, you can remove them, but there’s not the same level up or down effect. Unless you’re playing some of the older MTG sets (and there might be some obscure game that takes advantage of it, but I can’t be expected to know all the games) where they have the level up cards. And, so, the theme of my team was set in place. Also, for some unknown reason, I decided to make my team rainbow with one card for each color and two miscellaneous. And now, I present the team for your scorn and ridicule.
Rainbow Spin (A Noob’s Dice Masters Team)
Captain Marvel – Human/Kree Hybrid (Red): So far, in the two games that I’ve played, this has been the key to making the team work. I got her out in the first game and was able to hold Aiden off until he made a mistake and got too aggro one turn. I wasn’t able to field her the second game and his aggro blew me out of the water.
Sabretooth – Survivor (Orange): This one combo’d very well with Captain Marvel in the first game. I’m not sure if I was applying the rule correctly, but the two of them just held down the board for so many turns until I was able to set up for lethal.
Marvel Girl – Telekinetic (Yellow): I thought this character would be an integral part of the team, but I don’t think I’ve played it once. It would have been helpful in the second game against Aiden to save me a turn or two.
Green Dragon – Master Dragon (Green): Again, this is where the team all started. But, like Marvel Girl, I haven’t even had a chance to play the die. I don’t think that I’ve even bought one of the dice yet. Best laid plans, I guess.
Beast – Kreature (Blue): Along with Sabretooth, Beast provides relatively cheap defense while I try to dig for my more expensive dice. Again, combo’d nicely with Captain Marvel in that first game even if I’m not entirely sure that I was applying the rules correctly.
Psylocke – Ninjutsu (Violet): She was an unexpected MVP in the first game. Spun down a few characters. She even got a knockout or two. I will have to buy her more aggressively in the third game.
Giant Man – Original Avenger (Miscellaneous): This character is cheap for a lot of stats. Also, with sidekicks, you can easily spin him up to max level. I like this character a lot.
Doomsday – Unstoppable Rampage (Miscellaneous): Like Marvel Girl, I haven’t played Doomsday at all in the two games we’ve played. But, he is a strong character and the Iron Will keyword is a nice touch.
Smash and Shockwave: Both of these hope to take advantage of all the spinning down I am going to be hopefully doing. They are a bit redundant, but smash is cheaper and so far I haven’t had a need for any AoE. Maybe I will reevaluate after the third game to see if I can replace one of them with another card.
And, so we conclude our adventures in Dice Masters. The team fits very well with my personality. It is a possibly terrible team, but I have a ton of fun playing it. Stay tuned for more Dice Masters content as our two games have inspired me to buy more dice and cards. They’ll be here next week some time. Until then…
Why am I doing a Scholomance Academy notable cards article? A couple of weeks ago, I texted Chris that I was done playing Hearthstone. He replied, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Ultimately, of course, he was right to question my commitment to quitting the game. However, if I’m being honest, I have no idea why I even play it anymore. I rarely have fun when I do and it usually ends up being a swear fest. And so it was with my latest threat to quit the game forever.
I was playing as mage against a priest or a demon hunter, I think. Played the game pretty well. I mean, I’m not a pro player by any stretch, but I can usually hold my own in a game pretty well. That’s what I did in this game. I don’t remember how I ended up with an Archmage Antonidas on the board for lethal, but he was there. Well, at the beginning of my turn, Reno took care of all that. It cast Plague of Murlocs and I lost.
Live by RNG and die by RNG, right? Well, not so fast. Chris came up with an interesting conspiracy theory that I hadn’t considered. When I said something about the random effects, he responded, “Yeah, random.” I mean it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility. There’s literally a card coded to allow you to discover the “perfect” card for your situation. What if the whole game were coded similarly? But, that’s a discussion for another time. Let’s talk about Scholomance Academy notable cards.
Shuffle and draw effects are always fun. This one in particular could neutralize card advantage if it’s the last card in your hand and you are playing against a control deck that wants a full hand. Or, it could simply shuffle trash back into your deck to dig for better answers. I like this card a lot even if it doesn’t fit the Demon Hunter theme very well right now. Maybe they’ll move to a more control build in future sets.
Another shuffle effect, but this time it only targets your opponent. Hmm, maybe they are gradually moving to allow for a more control type build for Demon Hunter. I’d like that because the current aggro only builds are tired and I’m getting sick of seeing them in the game. Variety is the spice of life after all.
Druid didn’t get much in the way of druid only cards. A lot of their cards are dual class (yes, that’s a thing now) and I’ll pick a few of them last. Everyone else loves “Survival of the Fittest” of course, because it allows you to do broken druid things. However, I’ve mentioned in the past that I really like the discover mechanic and the discount on the next spell is so nice. The runner is cool because it virtually guarantees the card draw next turn.
Hunter got even less in the way of single class cards. At least, their list is much shorter than the first two classes. Back in the day, Huntertaker was the most broken deck, maybe in the history of the game. This card makes me think of that deck. Plus, it’s a discover and discount card!
Mage has gotten a couple of these cards in the past that are improved by spell damage. This one is neat because it ties card draw to the mechanic. Can you tell I’m a blue mage in Magic the Gathering? I doubt that it’s possible (Chris always keeps me in check when I ask about MTG), but I wonder if there’s a way to break this card. 2 mana, draw 9 or 10?
This is another one of those removal cards that is okay. It’s one more mana than Frostbolt and only does one more damage. However, with spell power it could be better. Also, like Betrayal, players have to think about positioning to avoid a potential board clear. Plus, it is versatile because it can be single target removal. It’s a well designed card.
This card serves a couple of purposes. First, it lets me highlight that the Paladin only cards are kind of garbage if this one is making the list. Secondly, it lets me talk about Spellburst, which is the new mechanic. It triggers when you cast your first spell of the game. It is a neat idea with a lot of utility.
As long as the attack on this minion isn’t lowered in some way or another, this is a neat effect. It basically guarantees removal on any minion that you attack. The first one is guaranteed with rush. After that, you have to hope that you don’t run into some priest attack lowering nonsense.
Nothing about this card is new or interesting. It’s a “just priest things” card with Spellburst. However, it does combo nicely with some of the other “just priest things” out there and could make for some interesting interactions.
Speaking of interesting interactions, just once I want to combo this card with Myra’s Unstable Element to steal my opponent’s deck and then draw all of the cards. I know that Myra’s is a rogue card, but that would just be too funny in my opinion.
This card is very expensive and it’s effect is on all minions. Even so, the lifesteal effect is powerful and can help late game against a wide variety of deck types. You know what. Honestly, I have no idea why this card impresses me so much.
I don’t know that there are a ton of lower level shaman spells that will cause this to be recursive in the way that some of the other cards with a similar effect are. However, those are the most fun cards. When you discover into discover into discover and then toss down a mana cyclone for a bunch of spells.
All of the Warlock only cards are garbage.
Warrior weapons have had cleave for some time now. This one is more difficult to trigger because of the Spellburst requirement. However, with something like Shield Slam, it more or less guarantees a board clear. I mean, is Shield Slam even a card anymore? I guess it could be in the right deck. Oh, the warrior studies card could be fun, too.
This is just a big dumb card that sticks around for 9 turns unless it is silenced. It’s like a persistent, er persist (keyword from MTG) card that is sure to get maximum value for one of my opponents sooner or later.
I’m not sure what the running gag is at Blizzard that they keep printing these Rager cards. Every single one of them is garbage (other than the rush one is decent in Arena, or it used to be) but every so often, here comes another one. I guess this one could eat an Earth shock. *shrug*
I’ve seen this card played a few times on streams. I just like the design of the card. It’s card draw, tethered to a condition. However, that condition is generally met on any given turn by pretty much every single class. I have a feeling this one is gonna see heavy play in Arena, too.
Blizzard messed around with a scry like effect with the Demon Hunter card. This one is much more in line with actual scry. With that being said, a Mage played this against me on the first day of the release and lost. Granted, that’s a small sample size and he might have been a terrible player. Still, we have one data point!
I think I mentioned earlier that I would get to Scholomance Academy notable cards for multi-class cards. Now is that time. I’m not sure what about this particular expansion made them create multi-class cards, but I’m glad they did. These cards were some of my favorites when I played the old World of Warcraft TCG. So, let’s take a look.
I’m just going to talk about these quickly because this article is getting kind of long and you probably stopped reading about halfway through. Wave of Apathy is a great card and it combos well with priest stuff. Flesh Giant follows the cost reduction of other giants and fits with both of the classes so well. Lord Barov is instant removal if you can give it rush. Runic Carvings is actually kind of dumb. Not sure what I was thinking including it. The Demon Hunter/Hunter weapon is neat because it has versatility. Finally, I love the combo effect. Having it in other classes, especially mage (and discover to boot!) is fantastic.
Those are my Scholomance Academy notable cards. This expansion introduces some interesting and cool mechanics into the game. The dual class cards are a great addition that is long overdue. I was frustrated with the game because of the Demon Hunter screw ups (and 5 rounds of nerfs) and the previous expansion was kind of lame. But, they made up for it with this one and I might actually play more. No, I won’t. Eff this game. (Just between you and me, I will, but I don’t want to lose face in front of Chris).
Welcome to my Umbrella Academy Season 2 Top 10 list. Sort of, but not really. I’m not much for lists, especially not top 10 lists. However, I wasn’t sure what to do about this article. Originally, I was going to have it be a review. The problem with that is (and I know I’m overwhelmingly positive to begin with) there wasn’t much that I didn’t like about the show. So, instead of calling it a review, I figured I’d just list everything I love about the show and this season.
I do love this show. I’ve watched Season 1 three times. I think I might have fallen asleep at times during the first viewing (mind you, that’s not an indicator of the quality of the show, just that I was working 60 hours a week and very tired) because I saw things the second time around that I’d missed. Then, I watched again because I thought that Aiden would enjoy the show. Spoiler Alert: He did.
And, so, we continue our travel through retro articles for the anniversary of the page with a brand new television show. Hey, I said I respected you too much to phone it in. I never promised that we’d actually stick to the topic at hand. Do stay tuned, though, because retro content is coming. I know I said this week. But, it’s getting pushed to next week. For now, let’s discuss Umbrella Academy Season 2!
I never read the Umbrella Academy comic. I never even knew it existed until I saw it on the Netflix menu. So, I took a chance on it. Completely sight unseen. I told everyone I knew about it after the first two episodes. I described it as a f***ed up X-Men. And, who are these f***ed up X-Men?
They are seven children, adopted by an “eccentric billionaire” shortly after they are born. They all have powers that are revealed through various vignettes and flashbacks in the first season. Moreover, they are all richly entertaining characters by themselves and in their interactions with one another.
At different times in the first season, I had a different favorite. As with most of you, I’m sure, number five remains my absolute favorite even if he was way more of a dink in the second season. However, I loved Klaus’ Vietnam story. I relate far too well to Diego as the one who always has to clean up the mess. Luther’s and Allison’s romance was great in the 2 “Days” episodes. Ben provides much needed comic relief and Vanya steals the show at the end.
Umbrella Academy Season 2 gives us more of all of it. Ben plays a huge role and gets one of the most emotional send offs I’ve seen in a television show. Vanya gets to be happy. Allison gets the socially aware storyline of the season. Diego is still cleaning up after everyone. The only stories that had minor quibbles with are Luther and Klaus. Especially Luther. I feel like he got robbed this season. Maybe he will get redemption in Season 3.
My lifelong obsession with the Vietnam war and an appreciation of the hippie movement plus enjoyment of the music all notwithstanding, I’m not as much of a fan of the 60s as a decade. I mean, they’re better than the 80s and I liked the 90s, which were basically the 60s redux. Okay, maybe I like the 60s just fine.
However, I was born in the 70s. So, I guess it makes sense that I relate more to that decade than the 60s. Growing up, I loved Saturday Night Fever and I railed against anyone who would listen that disco wasn’t dead. 90s rap vindicated me on that one a bit when they sampled many disco beats. Speaking of retro, I also like 80s and 90s video games better. What do you mean they didn’t have video games in the 60s?
What’s the point? Who the hell knows anymore? Oh, right, the choice of the 60s as the setting for season 2. If I had any questions about the setting, I was wrong. For the most part, the stories were fund and entertaining in spite of the fact that they were simply trying to stop the apocalypse again. Heck, they even made the “Save JFK” story entertaining even though it’s been done many times before.
So, other than JFK, what are the stories? Well, without going into too much detail, Luther is an underground fighter with ties to the mob (that already gives away a lot if you know history), Five is still dealing with the commission (and if you remember season 1, very familiar faces from the past/future/both?), Klaus is a cult leader, Ben learns that he can possess people, Vanya is working as a live in babysitter (it’s more interesting than it sounds), Diego finds love in the nut house (again, there’s more to it, but that about covers it), and Allison…
Allison finds herself in the middle of the racial strife of the time. Again, this isn’t a particularly original story. But, given the current political environment, it hit me pretty hard. Even Aiden said, “Why are people so dumb?” And, I never have an answer to that question.
I mean, I understand racism from a “scientific”point of view. However, I will never understand how things break inside of people’s brains and make them so angry, bitter, and hateful. Actually, that’s not entirely true. What I don’t understand is why people can’t change their beliefs when presented with contradicting evidence. No, wait, I get that, too. If I’m being honest, even though I understand each component individually, I don’t actually understand any of it. Does that make any sense? Probably not. Then again, neither does racism.
With all of that being said, the story was interesting. And, if can help some people learn that racial injustice didn’t start in the last year, or decade, or even century, then that can only be a good thing. I don’t know if a super hero show on Netflix can have that kind of impact, but I remain hopeful.
One of the great things about this show is the moral ambiguity of many of its characters. You don’t truly know who is a hero and who is a villain in most cases. Sure, a guy like Diego runs counter to this theory. But, there will always be exceptions. What about someone like Hazel? Is he a villain because he is a hit man? Is he a hero for giving all of that up to be with the woman he loves?
Even one of my favorites, Number Five. He’s on the side of the heroes most of the time. However, he does fall in with The Commission and becomes one of their best assassins. Plus, as I said earlier, he’s just a dink overall. Some of that can be attributed to time travel “madness” or whatever, I suppose.
The point of it all is that characters that I would universally define as a villain like our lady friend that I used as an example up there are still compelling and worth watching. Yes, she is detestable. She is manipulative. Her only agenda is herself. And, yet, when her fate is revealed in season 2, I cheered because I genuinely like having her around. Maybe that says something about me as a person. But, admit it, you cheered, too.
Umbrella Academy Season 2 is an absolute success. Someone asked on Facebook if it was better than season 1. I responded that I wouldn’t say better, but a different energy and still fun. I haven’t watched it a second time to see if I missed anything. But, winter is coming and coronavirus has halted all production, so season 3 won’t be around for a while now. I have time to watch a second, third, and then binge the whole series a 4th and 5th time if I want.
Welcome to DC Comics August 2020 review! I mentioned in my last article that we are doing some “retro” content this month and next to celebrate the anniversary of the page. Can you believe that it’s been live for 6 years? Me neither, but here we are. So, how are new comics retro? Well, they’re not. But, comics and Dungeons and Dragons both helped to start me on my journey to geekdom.
So, today we’ll take a look at the latest batch of DC Comics. Then, on Friday, I’m going to give my thoughts about the new season of Umbrella Academy. How’s that for retro content! I promise, it’s coming. Next week, I’m going to revisit DOOM and then I’m going to take a look back at another of the influential companies from my childhood, Nintendo. So, stay tuned for all of that! For now, let’s talk about these DC Comics August 2020 that I enjoyed so much.
Batman 94 and 95 (James Tynion IV and Jorge Jimenez): Initially, I wasn’t impressed with the great Tynion on Bats experiment. In fact, I dropped the book from Great to Good a couple months in a row. However, that all changed with issue 93. I really enjoyed King’s take on the Joker, but Tynion looks like he’s going to do the Joker War justice. The Bat seems truly broken this time.
Justice League Dark 24 (James Tynion IV, Ram V, and Kyle Hotz): I think that part of the reason that the great Tynion on Batman experiment was floundering was due to the fact that he was also still writing Justice League Dark. It felt like much of his focus was on this title. Now that they have Ram V cowriting, it hasn’t missed a beat. He did great on Cats and now this title. Versatile writer!
Aquaman 61 ( Kelly Sue Deconnick and Miguel Mendonca): Aquaman was good and then it was great for a couple of issues and then it was good. I might have even put it in the decent category a couple of times. I just wasn’t feeling the story. However, it is getting good again. Mera took a DNA test, and she is 100% that “B”.
Action Comics 1023 (Brian Michael Bendis and John Romita Jr.): If I was not impressed with the Tynion run on Batman, I absolutely hated the Bendis experiment with Action and Superman. I nearly took both titles off my list. I’m glad that I didn’t. It appears as if old BMB is hitting his stride with both books. This one wasn’t as much fun as the last one, but it’s still almost there.
Detective Comics 1024 (Peter J. Tomasi and Brad Walker): I was actually more impressed with how Tomasi took over Detective Comics and made it his own than with Tynion and Batman initially. I’m sad that this story is ending. I very much enjoyed Two Face and will miss him. However, maybe Joker War is the unifying force these books need. I’m excited.
Superman 23 (Brian Michael Bendis and Kevin Maguire): Went back and forth on this one from Good to Decent. Probably just my Superman bias and my bias against Bendis on this title to this point. But, I loved the JLD crossover and want to see more.
Catwoman 23 (Sean Murphy, Blake Northcutt, and Cian Tormey): All I wrote was “Bring back Joelle”. The book has been in steady decline since she left, with a brief respite by Ram V. I usually like Sean Murphy, but this story was just weird.
Justice League 48 and 49 (Robert Vendittie, Eddy Barrows, and Eber Ferreira): The book is fine. I wrote that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Not sure what I meant by that, but Justice League is probably my least favorite book right now.
Wonder Woman 758 (Steve Orlando and Emanuela Lupacchino): They sucked me back into Wonder Woman with a surprisingly entertaining movie and Greg Rucka as writer. I’ve stuck with the title because I genuinely like the character. This issue is fittingly a fine conclusion to a fine story. However, I’m glad that I stuck around because next month Mariko Tamaki is taking over. Can’t wait for that!
DC Comics August 2020 weren’t as much fun as Marvel. However, they were still very good. I’m excited for Joker War, Mariko, and to see if BMB can continue to improve Action and Supes. I said last time that I wasn’t sure if comics were getting better or I just missed them. Chris insisted that it was because he missed them, but I’m going to err on the side of optimism and say that they’re very good right now. Go out and buy comics!
It’s time for Marvel Comics August 2020. So soon after Marvel Comics July 2020? Well, yes. We took last week off for our annual family trip to Cape Cod. During that trip, I was unable to play any games. All I could do was read comics. And, read comics I did. I finished my entire shipment in the first two day. Like I texted to Chris, “Either comics are really good right now or I just missed them.”
He leaned more in the direction of missing them. That’s fine. I respect his opinion. However, mine is that the books are very good right now. I have 3 “Great” Marvel books this month and (spoiler alert) 2 for DC. But, more on that on Wednesday. For now, let’s talk about what makes Marvel Comics August 2020 such a great month.
Fantastic Four 21 (Dan Slott and Paco Medina): As you can see by the banner, this is an Empyre tie in. I was going to skip this Super Summer Crossover event. Then, I saw that it was being written by Al Ewing. Plus, Dan Slott nails this issue. Gotta hit up Midtown for the main series.
Immortal Hulk 35 (Al Ewing and Michael Hawthorne): The last few issues of Hulk have been slower. This one focuses more on the psychological side of Hulk/Banner. My wife, trying to show interest in my hobbies, asked me why I liked this book so much. I love the psychological side and feel like books rely too much on Hulk Smash. This one has been a good balance. Plus, exploding Hulk (spoiler alert?) is a hell of a cliffhanger.
Venom 26 (Donny Cates and Iban Coello): It looks like at the end of the book, Eddie and his son are dropped into the Ultimate Marvel universe. I was late to the Ultimate Marvel party, but I enjoyed most of what they did. This could be interesting.
Amazing Spider-Man 44 (Nick Spencer and Kim Jacinto): I like the new villain. I also like that they are slow rolling it a bit. This issue had some of the old school Spidey/Peter dichotomy and also a bit of MJ drama. It was close to being great, but was missing just one small thing and I’m not sure what it is.
Avengers 34 (Jason Aaron and Javi Garron): This issue is a good pay off for the Khonshu/Moon Knight beat em up of last month. I also like the ending with the Tony/Carol babysitting scene. According to my notes, I considered putting this one in the great column, too. Okay, maybe some of it is because I missed comics.
What’s this? No decent? Nope, not this month. I enjoyed every one of these books and all of them bordered on great. Sure, I am an unabashed Marvel zombie and mark out for nearly everything they do. However, there have been times where I enjoyed DC more. So, I can be “objective”. I’m just really liking comics right now and I think you should give them a try! Start with Hulk and Venom in Marvel and then branch out from there. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Articles, podcasts, videos, and more about games and occasionally pop culture