Category Archives: Digital Playground

From 8-bit to whatever-the-hell-bit we are in right now, plug in and take a ride with us.

Zendikar Rising Notable Cards: Gruul Edition

Introduction

And now, let’s talk about Zendikar Rising Notable Cards: Gruul Edition. We finally got back into the rhythm (somewhat) of posting gaming content on the page here. As mentioned in the last article, school started back up. With the added pressure of Covid-19 this year, it’s been a bit more hectic than usual.

Honestly, I feel good about being able to get things posted only a week into the school year. Hopefully, I’m able to keep that momentum going forward. As you no doubt know, it hasn’t always been easy for me to juggle school and the web page. Seeing as how school is my actual job, that generally takes precedence.

And I’m pretty good at juggling. I will have to practice more.

Well, I’m making a commitment to keep posting at least once (and hopefully twice) a week. I would like to keep the 3 times a week, but that might only happen on comics weeks. Speaking of comics, I know it is severely late, but I’m hoping to make next week comics week. For now, let’s look at some Zendikar Rising Notable Cards: Gruul edition. I promise I won’t give you the spiel again this time. I’m getting sick of writing it. You’ll figure it out. If not, check out one of my other notable cards articles for the skinny.

Red (Is Red Broken in this Set?)

Honorable Mention (Grotag Night-Runner): Hey, look, it’s a sh*tty Goblin Guide. That’s what I thought when I first saw this card. There’s not a ton in this set for me in red, but that’s not surprising. I have never been much of a red player and I probably never will.

Leyline Tyrant – Either I texted Chris or he texted me about this card. I don’t remember how the conversation started. It was probably him. He is our resident dragon whisperer. However it started, I think my main comment was, “Uh, that feels broken.” I admit that I haven’t been paying much attention, but there hasn’t been much hullabaloo about the card, so I clearly was wrong on that. It still seems like a fun and dumb card.

Valakut Exploration: You are about to recognize a pattern. We’ve been talking about patterns in my Geometry class. That has nothing to do with MTG other than I’ve never been one to shy away from non sequitur. The pattern here is that when I first saw this card, I immediately Googled, “breaking valakut exploration”. I found some ideas and I might play around with them on xMage. Again, seems like a dumb and fun card.

Green (The Land Serves Me!)

Honorable Mention (Lotus Cobra): Yes, the subtitle is from a completely different game. A game that I, yet again, swore off from playing a few weeks ago. However, it’s immediately what I thought of when I considered the theme of the cards I picked. I more or less picked this one because it is a staple in my terrible Gx cube decks that I always draft.

Skyclave Pick-Axe – I thought this was neat, because I’ve never seen Landfall on a weapon before. I might be wrong. I mean, there’s over 25 years of MTG history, after all, and I’m often surprised to see a card that’s an established part of that history but just never got played before. So, if there is another weapon out there with Landfall, don’t @ me.

Scute Swarm – I played against a deck in MTGA that abused this card and ended up with something like 40+ tokens. I still could have won if I had drawn any of my mass removal spells. Alas, as is my luck, I did not and the deck ran me over while I held my removal spell in hand, unable to cast it due to drawing it too late. The main point is that they want to bring MTGA to mobile. How are phones going to handle 40 tokens on the field at once? I’m all for it. I’m just skeptical.

The Verdict (Zendikar Rising Notable Cards: Gruul Edition are also underwhelming)

Sure, there are some fun and potentially broken cards in red. However, aside from them, I haven’t been terribly impressed with the set so far. I think Chris is just right and they need to take a break from familiar settings at this point. Sure, there have been some new planes in recent sets, but we’ve gone back to Ravnica (again), Innistrad (again), and Zendikar (again). Heck, we even got another Theros set. I’m excited for new settings to explore.

High Score Episode 3

Introduction

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.

Checkmate, mad nerds.

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”.

Who can beat the twist of the Creator ending? Plus, he is cute for a murderous demagogue.

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.

I mean, simply the quote at the top, “Vaporize politicians! Zap skinheads!” makes it worth the download.

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.

Pokemon Go Summer 2020

Introduction

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.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one. Yes, that’s an inkjet printer.

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.

Why now?

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

Scholomance Academy Notable Cards

Introduction

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.

If you read the file name for this picture, it’s exactly how I felt.

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.

The truth is out there.
Demon Hunter

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

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.

Paladin

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.

Shaman

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.

Warlock

All of the Warlock only cards are garbage.

Warrior

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.

Neutral

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!

Multi-class

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.

The Verdict

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).

Magic the Gathering JumpStart First Impressions

Introduction

I’m only giving my JumpStart First Impressions. I’ve only played through two trial runs of the set on MTGA. I noticed that it was live yesterday and was so excited that I texted Chris. I waited until today to play, though, since I had to do weekly quests. The TLDR is that the set is fun if you play it as intended.

You didn’t hear much from us over the last week. You also won’t hear much from us the week after next. Next week, I will do my comics reviews. Last week, we were in Vermont at a friend’s vacation house. Next week, we are doing our annual Cape trip.

Captain Trips ain’t so bad if you just wear a mask, folks.

Getting back to JumpStart, what do I mean by it’s fun if you play it as intended? Well, as Chris and I have discussed via text, there are some cool cards in the set. As a result, speculators are buying up the set for resale. I mean, it’s a free country and you can do what you want. However, this goes very much against the spirit of the set. Trust me, I will shun you for it. Now, with that nastiness out of the way, let’s talk about my JumpStart first impressions.

The Great

Fun concept – I’ve been frustrated with Magic the Gathering for the last few years. I’ve been working so much that I haven’t been able to get out and draft with real people at all. Chris and I have done a few sealed matches together and those have been fun. However, we haven’t been able to get together as much as we’d have liked. Now, with Covid, we hadn’t been able to get together at all for a couple of weeks. Christine asked why we hadn’t tried since things have settled a bit in our state, but I didn’t have a good answer.

What does that have to do with anything? Well, since when are we above non sequitur here at 2GG? However, this isn’t that. Because I haven’t been able to draft as much as I’d like, it’s made me frustrated. Drafting on MTGA takes some time that I don’t always have. JumpStart remedies that by allowing me to pick two packs, smash em together, and go. No fuss, no muss.

The Good

It’s Still Magic – When Chris and I were texting about JumpStart, he said something about fixing in the decks that would help against mana screw. While that is true, mana screw can still happen. One game in particular from my trial runs, I got screwed pretty hard on mana. However, my informal analysis is that mana screw will happen less on average than in a typical MTG session.

Well, I mean, mana screw is a metaphor. But, I guess this is cool, too.

The reason this is in the good and not the decent section is that there are good synergies in the various packs. I played Doctor Wizards in the first run. Talrand got me at least 5 drakes. I’ve never gotten that many when trying to build a deck around the card. The second time I played Berzerking The Skies or something like that. I didn’t see much in the way of berzerking, but I did fly over my opponent for the win.

The Decent

Speculators – I already touched on this earlier. Those who are regular readers of the page know that Chris and I are no fans of speculators. Sure, some of that is I’m a bit jealous of them and their ability to make money off of the misfortune of others. A recent example is that Chris texted about rumors of Twin being unbanned. So, speculators went and bought them up at a high rate. I wish I’d been able to spike that and make some extra cash.

Relating this back to the topic at hand, it seems that speculators are buying out boxes of the set and driving up the price. 200 bucks for 24 packs of cards is pretty steep. Especially since I still need to buy Ikoria product. However, JumpStart might be a fun way to try to get the boys playing Magic again. And, now I’m a speculator, but for a very different reason.

The Verdict

My JumpStart First Impressions are that the game mode is as fun as I had hoped. The only thing I didn’t like about the MTGA version is that I didn’t get a chance to flip through my deck to see what was in the deck. Actually, I guess there are a few things that I didn’t like. Secondly, you don’t get to keep your cards. You do get two cards as a prize, but you don’t get to keep your deck. Finally, it costs gold or gems each time you play. I thought it might be a promo thing where you paid your admission and then could play through various combos. No such luck. But, the good heavily outweighs the bad and I’m probably going to end up overpaying for a box. Thanks for reading about my JumpStart first impressions. Hope you see yo in the game!

Minecraft Review: Nether Update

Introduction

Welcome to our Minecraft Review: Nether Update. I feel like Quinn has been talking about this update for a while now. Some of the YouTubers he watches must have gotten early or beta access and were showing it off. Every couple of days when we loaded up the game, he would remark, “I wonder when we’re ever going to get the Nether Update.” Well, we finally have.

However, I have to admit that we haven’t been able to explore the nether as much as we hoped. We actually tried the other day and it ended quite poorly. First Quinn died with a bunch of good armor and gear. Then, I went to help him and I died with a bunch of good armor and gear. Rinse and repeat a few times.

So, we did discover one thing. Mobs in the Nether now spawn much faster than before. I don’t think that they are any tougher necessarily, but there are so many of them that you can become overrun very quickly. So, a word of warning there. However, bear in mind that our experience was in a Nether Fortress. Outside of the fortress, all we encountered were zombie pigmen and I think Quinn called them striders.

So, apologies that I haven’t been able to do my due diligence on this update just yet. File in under “U” for “unsurprising”. In the meantime, I will work on some recon and also the videos of worlds promised a few weeks ago. And stay tuned for an actual Minecraft Review: Nether Update soon.

Hearthstone Trial By FelFire Review

Introduction

Hearthstone Trial by Felfire just proves that someone at Blizzard is a frustrated poet. And that they want the entire world to know it.

Hey, I’m not one to cast aspersions. After all, I have written my own version.

What is all of this rhyming about? Keep reading and you just might find out.

The Great

Free: Normally there is a fee. This time, the adventure is free. I am glad there is no charge. I didn’t want to pay 20 large. sure, I could have used gold. However, using it for that instead of packs gets old. And so, I played. And discovered the true prize is the friends I made.

Packs: Actually, the adventure comes with a quest. And, what is there in that chest? For your trouble, you get three free card packs. They can be won without any hacks. Simply complete Chapter 1. There, now you are done.

The Good

Variety: There is a variety of fights. It isn’t all about might. Sure, some are a race. That require you just to go face. Others require a different tact. And, that is just a fact. Against one boss a fatigue strategy works well. After drawing his last card he faces the death knell.

Length: Even though this adventure is free. There is plenty in Outland for you to see. Four rounds of four bosses. Be careful for some may cause losses. Then, at the end. You face off against one who was a friend. In order to escape Outland, you must take a stand.

I was prepared…

The Decent

Reward: Other than the cards, all you get is a card back. Compared with other adventures, that’s kind of wack. Again, I realize that it’s free. But it just seems like to me–that they could give more. Instead they put a bundle in the store. Like a sucker, I paid. But it included some packs, so better decks can be made.

The card back isn’t even that good of a design.

The Verdict

Overall Trial by Felfire is fun. Even if you don’t do the adventures, you should try this one. The story is decent. You won’t be sad you went. To the plane of Outland. Just make sure you have a plan. You wouldn’t want to get lost. And captured by some demons and tossed–into a pit of despair. Or maybe they’d just set fire to your hair. So pay my warning fair heed. And get on over to this adventure via your trusty steed.

Pokemon Go June 2020

Introduction

I’m back to playing Pokemon Go in June 2020. I started playing when it first released and then got bored. It was an unfinished product, there were many bugs and exploits, and nobody else I knew really played it. I’ve checked back in with the game periodically over the last few years, but never got back into it completely.

Well, that changed a couple of weeks ago. I noticed that my older sons were playing the game. There was also a community day around Seedot where the appearance rate of the Pokemon was increased. There was also an increased chance of shiny. Aiden got like 4 of them that day. Liam grabbed one or two. I…got zero, of course. Nevertheless, I had so much fun that I’ve been playing Pokemon Go again daily.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I did take an unintended week long break. Other than that week, though, I’m back into the game in a big way. In case you’re not entirely sure what Pokemon Go is (and if you’re here, I’m not sure why you wouldn’t), it is a mobile game that allows you to catch Pokemon in the “real world”. You can also hatch eggs, defend gyms, and complete quests. It’s not exactly Pokemon, but it’s pretty dang close.

It does have an AR function, too, but I don’t use it much.

The Great

I’ve already gone into this in the introduction. You walk around and you catch Pokemon. As you walk, you can incubate and hatch eggs to get more Pokemon. Various tourist destinations are Gyms or Pokestops where you can fight to control the gym or receive items to help you in your journey. A professor approaches you periodically to offer quests for experience and loot. It’s not exactly a Pokemon game in real life, but with every addition it gets closer and closer.

The Good

Whereas Pokemon is traditionally a 1 player game, Pokemon Go really requires you to have an active social life to truly appreciate the game. Many of the raids require several players. Your friends can send you gifts for more items to help you level and level your Pokemon. This is partially me being a socially anxious person who lives in a small town. However, I can’t help but feel that I’m missing a big part of the game.

The Decent

As a follow up to the previous post, certain Pokemon are only active in certain parts of the world. There have been spoofing programs that people used to “travel” to get some of the more rare Pokemon. Thankfully, Niantic and Nintendo worked to ban people who did that. However, I can understand the frustration at having to travel across the world simply to find a digital monster. Sure you could trade people. But, see above.

I don’t think that all of these are region specific anymore or maybe the regions change. Still, it’s one of those details I wish the developers would have ignored.

The Verdict

Pokemon Go in June 2020 has me walking more. It gives me another topic of conversation with my two older kids. My youngest son has also expressed an interest in playing. It’s a fun diversion. That’s all I ask from games lately. Will it entertain me and let me forget for a little bit about everything else?

MTGA Cube First Impressions

Introduction

My MTGA cube first impressions are that it is decent. There’s your TLDR right at the beginning of the article. See you in a couple of days for hopefully some Mortal Kombat content. I’ve been meaning to talk about the new expansion for a few weeks now, but it keeps getting put on the back burner for other material. Who knows? This week might end up being MTG and Pokemon again because I’ve been playing a ton of Pokemon Go. Plus, the expansion for that is coming out. Mortal Kombat coming soon(ish).

When I texted Chris about this after he told me that he was facing peer pressure to play MTGA, he said that his other MTG friends had just texted him the announcement. Guess we’re all excited.

I’ve only done one draft so far on my smurf account, so these are truly my first impressions of the cube experience on MTGA. I’ve played cubes before, mostly on xMage. However, I have done one or two on MTGO and I’ve watched numerous cubes on streams. Mostly, those are Legacy or Vintage cubes, so my sense of power level might be a bit warped. Bear that in mind as you read.

The Great

Trigger warning: I’m about to be cliche. It’s cube! On MTGA! Okay, so what does that all mean? Well, limited formats are my favorite, for sure. I don’t mind constructed, but there’s something about cracking 24 packs and trying to make a cohesive deck from the nonsense contained in those packs. I’m not the best drafter, by any stretch. Hell, I might not even be a good drafter. But, I love drafting.

And, now I can on MTGA. MTGA is my go to for Magic the Gathering right now. When it first got released, I called it MTG: Hearthstone Edition, but I’m eating my words now. I guess I just saw too many digital MTG products come and go with little to no support. This one got support and I’m glad. Especially with Covid-19, I can still play Magic on a regular basis.

The Good

And you draft against real players! Drafting against real players is awesome. The bots will usually just take the perceived best card without regard for what’s open, what you can hate draft, etc. Most people are like me, in the middle when it comes to drafting, but our decisions are based more in our priorities and perceptions of what others are doing.

The Decent

I mentioned that I’m used to Legacy and Vintage drafts. So, I’ve seen cards like Massacre Wurm (back in standard!), Elesh Norn, and Jace the Mind Sculptor. So, it’s a bit of let down when I look at the card pool for the MTGA Cube. Thanks to more powerful recent sets and some strategic reprints, there are some powerful cards like Mirari’s Wake, Thalia, and the pictured Liliana. Overall, though, the power level is what you’d expect for a Historic/Pioneer card pool.

Note: This might change with M21 because as I eluded with my Massacre Wurm parenthetical, there are some insane reprints coming with that set.

The Verdict

Like I said earlier, my MTGA cube first impressions are that it is decent. I enjoy the cube experience and I’m glad that it is in MTGA. With the power level being a bit lower and drafts still costing money if you want to draft more than about once a week, I don’t see it becoming my go to Magic the Gathering experience any time soon. I will still mostly just play Standard/Historic on MTGA and do my cubes on xMage where they are free.

Felfire Festival Week 1 Post Mortem

Introduction

Felfire Festival Week 1 Post Mortem already? Surely, it isn’t dead. Well, yes and no. The week is technically over. However, the ramifications continue to reverberate through the game. At least, I assume they do. I thought I might play the game more now that it’s been updated.

However, I have not. I’ve tried playing a couple of times. I just can’t get into it. Battlegrounds is frustrating and boring. It takes almost all of the strategy out of a normal auto battler game. In most cases, that has worked to Blizzard’s advantage. Without a coherent strategy, the game just becomes ovals banging into each other.

The Great, The Good, and the Decent? No, just a verdict

No, I’m not even going to give lip service to these categories for this review. I could go back to the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly for one article, but that seems suboptimal. And, so, I will leave the reader to decide for themselves if it’s worth it to come back if you left. In the humble opinion of the writer of this article, it very much is not worth it.

There are plenty of other autobattlers out there for you to play instead. I would suggest either Autochess or TFT if you’re on mobile. Underlords is also on mobile, but I’ve found that it is a better PC experience. In any case, don’t waste your time on Battlegrounds.

Thanks for taking the time to read my Felfire Festival Week 1 post mortem. Some of you more astute readers might attribute my snark to salt. Honestly, you’re partially right. I’ve played 3 or 4 matches to try things out and I have yet to crack the top 4 in any of them. So, yes, I am frustrated. But, I also have many other things to keep me occupied. In any case, I hope next week is better!