Tag Archives: DnD

Cards I Love: Forgotten Realms Esper Edition

Introduction

Welcome back (after an unintended and extended layoff) to my Forgotten Realms Esper Edition article. Those of you who frequent the page on a semi-regular (as I make it difficult to visit on a regular basis due to not having a proper posting schedule the last couple of years) basis know that these articles are ways for me to highlight the “notable cards” of a set. If you want competitive cards, search for them. There are plenty of those articles.

No shortage of wanna be Spikes out there.

Okay, now for a quick explanation of where I’ve been. Again, those who are regular readers of the page know that I get busy at the end of school, so that is often a time that the page is lacking content. Usually, though, I make up for it by starting my summer blitz that lasts until about February, where updates become sparse again. This year, my wife and I went to the Florida Keys almost as soon as school ended. So, the dark period lasted a bit longer this year.

Know that we still thought and cared about you. And, yes, I meant to say “we” there. Twice, Chris and I planned to talk about the new Modern Horizons set. The first time, I flaked on the recording and the second, we planned it for Father’s Day, which interfered with my plans. And, so, unofficially, 2 Guys Gaming is dead. But, I put a few hundred dollars into this page, so why not continue to throw bad money after bad and keep seeing if something ever happens here. Besides, I like writing and I like writing about games. On to Forgotten Realms Esper Edition.

White: I want removal, a planeswalker that turns into a dragon, and a pet gargoyle that enters the dungeon

Honorable Mention: (Cloister Gargoyle and Minimus Containment): I start with containment, even though it is right most in the preview. I sent this card to Chris and he replied about not liking giving the other person mana. I can respect that, but it hits literally everything. Having played against far too many Ugins in MTGA, I replied, “Eff your Ugin.” “Ooooh, he said, that can be powerful.”

I chose Cloister Gargoyle because I don’t think I’ve ever previewed/reviewed a gargoyle card, but I often think the cards are neat. This one also showcases a new mechanic in Forgotten Realms, the dungeon. After all, the set is named after the iconic RPG, Dungeons and Dragons. How are you not going to incorporate both into the set? Well, they have, as you’ll see in future installments of this series.

Grand Master of Flowers: I doubt this card has very much utility. However, I became enamored with the fact that it turns into a big old indestructible dragon god. I also thought, what if we combined this with the new Kasmina in a Bant deck. Oh, what the heck, my Timmy mind went crazy. Why not put together a five color EDH Superfriends deck and have all the Planeswalkers. Look for that deck in the coming weeks.

Blue: Give me another planeswalker, an almost lich, and some card draw

Honorable Mention (Mordenkainen/Contact Other Plane): I also sent Mordenkainen to Chris, this time with the comment, “Overcosted as hell, but a fun card.” This one is definitely going in my Superfriends deck. I mentioned in a previous article (and never finished the cycle) that I like drawing cards. Contact Other Plane lets me draw cards. It also brings another iconic D&D action to MTG. Roll a d20. Not a spindown counter. An actual, factual d20.

Demilich: You guessed it. This one went to Chris. I actually sent it to him while we were walking through Laguardia airport to catch our connection to Key West. That’s how much I liked this card. I said something along the lines of, “It’s not Legendary, either, so you can chain them.” I don’t think it will be as powerful as Narcomeba or anything, but it is going to be a fun, fun card to play in many formats.

Black: Give me a warlock, an indestructible zombie god, and some card draw.

Honorable Mention (Warlock Class and Deadly Dispute): Another mechanic integral to D&D is the class system. After picking your character’s race, you inevitably pick their class. This card showcases one of those classes and also a leveling curve to improve the quality of the card. Very cool design.

This episode of “this card is black?” features Deadly Dispute. Look, I understand that they’ve adjusted the color wheel recently to include different strategies for each of the colors. I’m just having some difficulty adjusting, I suppose. This card is really just Village Rites with upside. Even so, I still think it should be blue. Of course, I do.

The Book of Vile Darkness: I might have shared this card first with Chris. I definitely shared it early in the spoiler cycle. They took until the end of the cycle to share the Hand and Eye of Vecna, so I had no idea even what abilities that zombie might have. As you see, they’re pretty damn good abilities. Fun stuff!

The Verdict (Forgotten Realms Esper Edition is good, but not great)

A few of the cards previewed here are fun. I definitely want to build that Superfriends deck now and go off with some Planeswalkers. Also, I love the idea of building a stupid Vecna deck and trolling MTGA players with that one. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones to see me in casual with it. Until then (and until next time for the Gruul cards), have fun out there, fellow MTG nerds!

D&D Horror Bundles: Great, Good, Decent

Introduction

Okay, this one is a lie, too. Sort of. Remember last time when I said that I would take this week to discuss games that we received for Christmas. Well, that’s not strictly true. I actually just pressed purchase on the D&D horror bundles from The Arcane Library about an hour ago. Since then, I’ve been looking at the adventures to see if they will, in fact, be good to try to get the family to play D&D again.

I mean, they do look pretty spoopy, not gonna lie. Picture cropped from The Arcane Library.

If this all seems to have come out of left field, you’re not entirely wrong. I mean, if you followed us on Twitter, you’d have seen that I was searching for an appropriate adventure to try to get the family hooked on Dungeons and Dragons. I want to get a weekly session going, if possible. This led me to purchase The Lost Mine of Phandelver on D&D Beyond before realizing that was the adventure we tried to play last year from the beginner’s set. Oh well, WotC can use the cash, I’m sure.

Well, Facebook ads finally got me this time. I saw an ad for The Arcane Library and visited it. Rarely does this ever result in me purchasing anything. However, this time it did. First, I downloaded the free adventure to see if the writing was any good. It’s very well designed. More on that in the review, obviously. Then, I bought the bundle meant to follow characters from 1 until level 20, I think. There may be some gaps needed to fill. Not entirely sure on that one. However, I then saw the D&D horror bundles. As the lone hold out from the first time, I think Aiden will get a kick out of some horror RPG. Let’s see if I’m right.

The Great

Writing: This doesn’t come as a surprise now that I’ve read the author’s biography on the web page. She’s a former journalist and English teacher. Nevertheless, and this will come as rich from someone who hasn’t edited a single post on this web page in several years, it is good to find web based content that isn’t riddled with spelling and grammar errors. Especially in a D&D adventure, that takes you right out of the fiction.

I did edit my 2 books. But, I wouldn’t call myself a good editor. Wait, you didn’t know I wrote two books?

Well Organized: Along with the good writing, the adventures follow the well established outline for adventures set by the official versions. Each adventure starts with a synopsis and some background. This is followed by some nuts and bolts to further explain. Each encounter flows smoothly, building a rich tapestry of the story. As I read, I saw how the encounters worked and, more importantly, how they worked together.

The Good

Minimalist: Piggy backing off that last point, the books contain only the information needed to continue the story. I feel like part of the reason our play session last year got bogged down was all of the reading necessary to run the adventure. As a DM, I try not to be a rules extremist when playing D&D, but I think I might have just been nervous. I really wanted my family to enjoy playing D&D with me. It just felt like a natural play group.

Maybe I just need to stop trying to make “fetch” happen. I won’t, though.

Horror: Granted, it is mostly up to me to set the proper mood. However, if you’re going to advertise an adventure as horror, there should obviously be the seeds of that horror in the adventure. These accomplish that quite nicely. I already said that I saw the story grow as I read the notes. The same can be said for the horror setting. These stories have great creep factor.

The Decent

Story: This may seem strange given all the nice things I’ve already said. However, even as a criticism, please understand that this is minor. To be fair, it’s said that there are only 7 types of stories that can be told anyway. This may even be more limited in science fiction and fantasy settings. Even the official adventures are limited in their scope. Just know that these stories aren’t terribly original. But, they are still very good.

How well did I straddle that fence? Eh? Eh? Meh…

Not beginner friendly: Look, I also understand that if you are considering a non paying career as a D&D DM, you probably aren’t a beginner. With that being said, everyone gets their start somewhere. But, if you are getting your start as a DM, I wouldn’t recommend these adventures as your first campaign. They’re just so sparse in their notes for DMs.

The Verdict

The D&D horror bundles from The Arcane Library are, overall, very good. The stories are compelling enough. They have a definite horror vibe, even just from reading through them. That can, obviously, be tuned to your individual play group. I don’t regret purchasing them or the other bundle one bit. Now, I just have to get my family to want to play them. Stay tuned for that.

Tabletop Look Back 2020: A year of Gaming

Introduction

This 2020 tabletop look back is going to be a bit one sided. As you will see, we branched out a bit from our traditional tabletop game of Magic the Gathering. However, in spite of our best efforts, my wife and I have not been able to get a board game night going for longer than a couple of weeks. The kids just have interests that are too varied right now.

I mean, Aiden is obsessed with anime about volleyball. How much more varied can you get?

Even so, we have been able to try some new games that became (temporarily and they might return) favorites for a time. Quinn, Aiden, and I went on an end of the summer camping trip and that led to us exploring two different games. I just have to be better about initiating. Then again, as I mentioned that doesn’t always work with our attempts at getting a board game night going. Okay, enough of the “woe is me” parenting. Let’s take a tabletop look back at 2020.

I will structure this article different from the mobile look back. The reason for this is two fold. One, there are only 3 games to discuss, so splitting them into categories doesn’t make sense. Also, I want to spend more time talking about each game.

Dungeons and Dragons

We tried to play Dungeons and Dragons as a family last year. It met with mixed results. Christine and Quinn said they had fun. Liam played along, but he could take it or leave it was my impression. Aiden, who I thought might enjoy the game the most, actually hated it. He complained that the game takes too long.

So, 3.5 out of 5 ain’t bad, right? Well, yes and no. I’m obviously glad that most of the family enjoyed the game. I grew up playing Dungeons and Dragons and have many great memories with my friends and even my brothers a few times. Being able to pass that on to my family is one of my dreams as a gaming dad. And, so, as we often do, I find myself obsessing over why Aiden didn’t enjoy himself. I downloaded some pictures and mood music on my laptop.

I even went so far as to develop my own adventure for the game. I wrote some dialogue, built the skeleton of a harbor city, and inhabited a village and abandoned mine with NPCs and monsters. Unfortunately, I’ve used none of it. We haven’t played a game since. Oh well, Christmas break is coming. Now that I wrote that, I’m furiously searching for the adventure that I wrote in order to have it for break.

Dicemasters

Regular readers of the page probably remember when we played Dicemasters. I posted an article about the team that I built. I actually promised more Dicemasters content in that article. I have not delivered on that promise. We played once or twice after that. I even built a second team.

Then, and this is a familiar refrain around here, school started. We all got busy with school work, so many of our games fell to the side. I thought this one might persist because the games go quickly. Alas, it was not meant to be. Well, another game added to the revisit over Christmas break list.

Because I genuinely enjoy playing the game. Given the opportunity, I’d play once a week. I put it almost on par with Magic the Gathering and I play multiple games of MTGA every day. Both Quinn and Aiden played Dicemasters. Heck, Liam even put together a team in August. I’d much rather play a game with my children then against randos online.

Chess

Unlike the other games, I can’t remember how we ended up playing chess. I remember that I purchased a board for school because some of my students last year wanted to play during office hours. Unlike one of the other math teachers at the school, I’m no expert. I played some as a kid and a bit here and there as an adult.

I do enjoy the game, though. Therefore, when one of them expressed interest, I took advantage. Along with the Dicemasters, I brought the chess board with us camping. We played several games. I taught them some strategy about the game. Mainly, I showed them that you should be thinking several moves ahead and considering how your moves will impact future turns.

As with the others on the list, talking about chess has me wondering where I put the board. I will have to dig it out and play some games with the boys. Of the three, this is the most likely to hold their attention, followed by Dicemasters, and finally (unfortunately) Dungeons and Dragons. But, hey, a guy can dream.

The Verdict

I thought about doing an honorable mentions for our tabletop look back 2020, but I’ll just toss some names in here. We also played Ticket to Ride and the Europe(?) expansion that we just got for Christmas last year. Liam has this “flag game” that requires knowledge of geography. Quinn and I played Minecraft: Builders and Biomes a couple of times. Overall, it was a decent year of playing tabletop games. And, now, because it took me so long to write this article, I have negative one days to get the tabletop game of the year done. Well, join us tomorrow, hopefully, for that one.