In a Rut…

I was listening to the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast last week on my commute to work. ‘ One of their topics was about being in a pop culture rut and how to get out of it. ‘ As the topic rumbled through my brain and searched for a connection, it finally dawned on me. ‘ I am absolutely in a rut when it comes to my digital gaming life. ‘ It isn’t the first time that I’ve been in a rut in my life, but it is the longest and I’m not sure how to break the cycle. ‘ Maybe through the act of admission, I will be able to come up with some ideas.

I was in the same thing with Magic for a few months. ‘ The summer, a less than inspiring block in Theros, and other things to keep me busy had me wondering if maybe the game had run its course and maybe it was time to move on to other things. ‘ I even went to a nerd night and forgot my bag of cards at home. ‘ Thankfully, Khans is being released and I’m really excited about the prospects. ‘ Even though I did horribly at the prerelease, it was still fun to see new cards and strategies and it has absolutely energized me to play again.

Here’s the dilemma. ‘ I come home from work, open my laptop, check Facebook (and do the daily spin reward thing for Bejeweled Blitz), then open Hearthstone. ‘ Actually, the ritual starts in the morning when I open Hearthstone to check on daily quests. ‘ Less often than I used to, but it still happens. ‘ If the quest is win 2 with a certain class then I will start the quest in the hopes of finishing it to get gold for packs. ‘ I will play Hearthstone, even if I don’t really want to play the game, and it will often frustrate me. ‘ If it frustrates me to the point of tilt, then I will open Marvel Puzzle Quest to see if there is anything there to keep me occupied until I calm down. ‘ In between cooking dinner, administering baths and showers, and giving kisses before going to bed, the routine follows more or less the same pattern.

How do I know that I’m in a rut? ‘ Well, to begin, I don’t even really like Hearthstone all that much. ‘ After playing the World of Warcraft trading card game and realizing how much more Hearthstone could have been, I just don’t have much fun playing the game. ‘ When I lose, it causes me frustration and when I win, it isn’t joy. I just feel relief that the game is over and yet I keep going back to it over and over again. ‘ While I do enjoy Marvel Puzzle Quest, there’s no reason that the game should dominate my gaming as much as it does. ‘ Like Hearthstone, it is meant to be an interlude while you’re on the toilet or taking your lunch break at work.

It’s not like I don’t have other things that I’d like to do. ‘ I posted last week that as a cheap gamer, I’ve built up quite the library of games that I haven’t finished. ‘ Heck, my library of games that haven’t even been opened is very impressive. ‘ Yet, these two mobile games suck me in and suck up all of my free time. ‘ I think that is part of the danger. ‘ Because they are able to just be picked up and played for a few minutes, they become the go to in between all of the night time activities. ‘ It is much harder to just pick up Skyrim or Fallout 3 for ten minutes at a time and they aren’t exactly kid friendly, either. ‘ Granted, some of the things that I’m grumbling at the screen during Hearthstone aren’t kid friendly, but those are out of ear shot of the kids and I’m not as concerned about swearing because we often have the conversation about right place and time.

I’ve identified the trigger. ‘ Now, I just have to figure out how to break the cycle. ‘ The obvious solution is to just not log into the games anymore, but that’s one of the symptoms of being in the rut. ‘ If it was so easy, I’d have already done that. ‘ I have tried (not with Marvel Puzzle Quest, because I enjoy that game and the conversation and imagination that it sparks in the boys) to uninstall the game and I just keep coming back to it time and time again. ‘ Usually, it is my brain saying, “Go ahead, see if it has gotten any better”, which it never does and, at this point, I’ve just resigned myself to playing the game the way that it is and complaining about it at every turn. ‘ I really am turning into one of those old guy gamers.

One of the things that I’ve heard are to go outside of your comfort zone. ‘ I have done that in the past and it has shaken me out of my funk. ‘ I picked up 3 really interesting and cheap games on Steam last summer and they showed me again what can be good about gaming. ‘ Another thing that I’ve heard is to go deep into my comfort zone, i.e take out Portal 2 and just immerse myself in the wonder and beauty that is that game. ‘ I was able to break back into Magic with the release of a new block, but there’s nothing that exciting I know of that on the horizon when it comes to games. ‘ I just don’t know which way to go to shake things up. ‘ What about you? ‘ What do you all do out there to get rid of the gaming blahs?

Currently Playing…Vol.4


Spoiler alert: This guy shanks me off of the bridge. Sonofa...
Spoiler alert: This guy shanks me off of the bridge. Sonofa…

Double Dragon (NES) What?! Another Nintendo game?! Damn right! I actually play my Nintendo quite a bit so don ‘ t be surprised when NES games frequently show up in future editions of ?Currently Playing ?. I have a love/hate relationship with Double Dragon. I love the first few levels as it ‘ s nothing but face-punchin ‘ and baseball bat swingin ‘ but then it gets exponentially frustrating as the game progresses. Right around the 4th mission, where you have to jump from ledge to ledge like you ‘ re godamn Mario in that ****ing cave, is when the hate takes over. I can ‘ t tell you how many times I ‘ ve jumped directly into a pit like a bungee jumper without the cord. I ‘ m just embarrassingly bad when it comes to jumping in this game. I ‘ ll be honest, even jumping across that puny little bridge in the 3rd mission used to be a challenge on some days. I would play this game a lot with my dad when I was a kid and basically once we got to that bridge, he knew that he was flying solo for the rest of the game, as he watched me sink like an untalented stone over and over again, until the suffering was over (Ed. Note: I was too stubborn to just let my dad do it for me). Still, besides the platforming aspects of the game, (You couldn ‘ t have stuck with one genre, Tradewest?!), I actually really enjoy it. I guess that ‘ s why I dust it off every few months or so and play it until I get dangerously close to impaling my Nintendo with the controller.



Yup, just one game this week ‘ I ‘ ve been focused on a project at work (being an adult was totally worth the wait..<deep sigh>), the Khans of Tarkir release and ‘ . (drumroll please) ‘ preparing notes for our first podcast which we will be recording this weekend. You ‘ re psyched. We know it.

Boros Battalion Control (Legacy)



"That better be a gardenburger dammit.."
“That better be a garden burger dammit..”

Here we go..another deck list by yours truly. This deck is pretty well-rounded in my opinion; it has the best of both worlds: a strong offense that combos well together, and a suffocating control-based defense. There is nothing more fun than seeing the clenched jaw of your opponent as they helplessly stare at their creatures pacified, chained to the rocks, and arrested while your critters march right in and whack ’em in the face. Play this deck a few times and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Hopefully by now you are all familiar with our disclaimer (we can’t guarantee that you will win every game..blah blah blah..) so we can stop posting it. Without further ado…we present the Boros Battalion Control deck.

Strengths: Big on control and removal, well-rounded.

Weaknesses: Other control decks can be a problem sometimes.

The List:(60 cards)

Creatures ( 18 ) Spells/Enchantments( 24 )

1x Iroas, God of Victory 4x Pacifism

4x Boros Reckoner 4x Arrest

1x Tajic, Blade of the Legion 4x Chained to the Rocks

4x Firemane Avenger 2x Madcap Skills

2x Banisher Priest 2x Boros Charm

2x Viashino Firstblade 2x Titan’s Strength

2x Frontline Medic 1x Aurelia’s Fury

2x Wojeck Halberdiers 2x Lightning Strike

Lands(18 ) 2x Annihilating Fire

2x Clifftop Retreat 1x Into the Maw of Hell

2x Boros Guildgate

8x Mountain

8x Plain

The strategy is pretty simple..lock your opponent down and hit them in the face. That’s it, nothing to see here..go home.

Mono Green Ramp (World Eater Edition)

I can’t take full credit for this deck. I’m not very good at deck tech, but I really like to play with cards to see how they can work together and make life frustrating for my opponents. The original idea for the deck is based on the green ramp Eldrazi deck “Chant of the Mul Daya” from Duel of the Planeswalkers 2014. I thought that the same idea could be used with Polukranos, World Eater as a board wipe and to set up for the win.


Forest – 22


Mending Touch – 2

Green Sun’s Zenith – 2

Explore – 4

Rampant Growth – 4


Khalni Heart Expedition – 4

Bow of Nylea – 1


Elvish Mystic – 4

Grazing Gladheart – 2

Farhaven Elf – 2

Oracle of Mul Daya – 2

Polukranos, World Eater – 1

Sporemound – 2

Primeval Titan – 2

Pelakka Wurm – 2

Vastwood Hydra – 2

As you can see, the deck is all about the ramp. All of the typical cards are there; Elvish Mystic in case you somehow end up with mana screw in the beginning, Rampant Growth and Explore to both find and play multiple lands in the early game, Landfall creatures and Khalni Expedition to benefit from all of the lands flying, life gain in case you need to turtle for one, or two, or ten turns, and some fatties at the end to crush any remaining hope from the soul of your opponent. I’ve said to Chris that this is my “I’m done losing deck”. Even without the Eldrazi over killing the board, the deck is still very strong and an absolute blast to play and basically a “Choose your own adventure” range of win conditions.

Give the deck a try and let me know what ways you’ve destroyed that last glimmer of hope in your friends.


Note: Read the title in your best/worst Shatner voice for the full effect.

Friday (September 19, 2014)

1:25 pm: The student that revealed himself earlier in the week at a Magic player says, “Have fun and good luck” on his way out. I doubt that he told his other professors his reasons for wanting the homework early. It’s almost like Magic players have a sort of “gaydar” like ability to sense another player without a word being said between them.

5:48 pm: Chris sends me a message saying that he’s going to try to show up to watch us play. I joke that I will have them save a spot for him in the “Player Wives” section. I probably feel a little too proud of the comment, but it works on more than one level.

Saturday (September 20, 2014)

7:44 am: Today is the day. I don’t feel as excited as I should. I remember being more excited when we went to the Theros prerelease. I couldn’t sleep last night, but that was more a function of my addiction to technology than excitement. Am I growing up? Getting too old and grumpy for Magic? I wasn’t the oldest guy at the last event, but I am pushing forty. Damn. Maybe I just haven’t had enough time to focus on what makes today special. I’m going to be there with the two big boys and Chris said that he might be able to show up for an hour or two.

11:38 am: While we drive to the store, I tell the boys about the clan structure and we talk about which clan we’re going to pick. Initially, I thought Mardu (because goblins!), and then maybe Sultai (because control!) to give Aiden a chance to play with the less strategic aggro deck. However, as we’re driving, Liam decides that he wants to play Sultai. Aiden goes back and forth until he settles on the patriotic Jeskai. I’m starting to get excited about the event and understand why I wasn’t excited about it in the first place. I’m nervous…about a friendly Magic event. I went 2-2 in the last event and want to do at least that well this time, but why the heck am I so nervous?

12:03 pm: We pull into a parking space in Greenfield. I hope we aren’t too late for the event. As we walk into the store, people are sitting at tables and the counter is already going. I was half joking about being late, but this is ridiculous. They started the event at exactly noon? I walk up to the counter and the guy (who looks baked out of his mind) asks if he can help me. Mind you, he’s the same guy who signed me up on Tuesday. Okay, no problem. Not everyone has a memory for faces and names.

I explain the situation to him. He gives me some run around about the times not officially being posted early enough and the event actually started at 11 am. It was too late, but they could get me into another event at 5 tonight or tomorrow. I’m seeing red, so I don’t hear the whole issue. Instead, I’m trying to contact Christine with a phone that refuses to dial for some reason and that is frustrating me more.

I finally just leave the store and get in touch with Christine, but I’m not thinking straight and bounce between asking for my money back, wanting to spend the time with the boys who still want to do the event, and wanting to throw a phone that continues to act up. I finally settle on the long shot of grabbing the boxes and never doing business with the place again.

They give me some other story about not being able to do that, so I concede and sign up for tomorrow’s event because the boys are adamant about wanting to play. We take the opportunity of being in town to go to the dollar store and they pick up an axe and sword that made them happy and the trip somewhat worthwhile. Plus, we can play Magic tomorrow.

2:30 pm: I soothe my irritation by sorting through my cards. I have so many (that’s an upcoming article) that I need to start thinning the herd, so to speak. I’m also talking to Chris and we both come to the conclusion that I probably need to find another store for the next event. This conversation reminds me that they do a release event. In searching for information about that, I am led to the online client for Magic. I download it and discover that they’ve started something new in the months that I forgot about it-New Player points. You are able to use them to get into events to get used to how the online game functions.

11:53 pm: I’ve spent the better part of the last ten hours playing Magic The Gathering Online. I use ten of my new player tokens to buy into two “sealed” tournaments and win about 150 cards for my trouble. Chris jokes that I’ve found my new drug, which is just my old drug on the computer, and he’s right.

Sunday (September 21, 2014)

6:40 am: I’m awake because I have to use the bathroom. I don’t want to be yet, but I slept downstairs with the boys and they take my temporary consciousness as a cue to turn on the television. Very well. I’m still not excited for today, now for different reasons, but I will try to find my enthusiasm.

7:18 am: The boys want breakfast, so I play some Hearthstone. After having such a good time with Magic last night, I am reminded just how much Hearthstone sucks. Why do I continue to play it? More on that in a future article.

8:24 am: Liam just mentioned that he can’t wait for Magic today. I will try to use their excitement to get through the day and then start looking for another nerd cave for my winter hibernation. Hopefully, there will be as many kids there again today for the two of them to have a chance of winning a game or two.

12:20 pm: Off we go again. Here’s to hoping that things are better today.

1:03 pm: We’re back at the store, again about 3 minutes late. Here goes nothing. Oh, Bubba is running things today. Awesome! “Prerelease today?”, I ask. “Yep,” he confirms. “1 o’clock, right?” “Yep.” Excellent. As he’s checking me in, he confirms one more screw up. The guy charged me tax on the prerelease boxes, so I now have a $4.66 credit at the store. WTF? If I keep coming back, I need to just deal with Bubba from now on. Sundays it is.

1:10 pm: Bubba messed up and put my name wrong on the form and I am now Mardu. After the last day, it is a mistake that I’m willing to laugh at. Also, as I will soon learn, nothing could be further from the truth. I am not Mardu.

1:45 pm: Deck built. 0-3, here I come!

1:53 pm: Time’s up! There are a few kids here. Hopefully, the boys get paired up with them. Nervous excitement is finally starting to set in. My brain seems content with putting everything off, even feelings, until the last minute.

And now for the actual matches. There were only 3 rounds this time with each win getting a booster pack.

First Match: I should have gone with a control clan. I’m playing Mardu as control. “Battle with Speed”? Not if you’re me. I hold the guy at bay until time is up, but I just don’t have enough of the “speed” built into the deck to mount a sustained attack. Even though we battle to overtime, he overwhelms me for an 0-2 first loss. Well on that way to 0-3!

Second Match: The guy has an awesome deck. This certainly is not his first rodeo. After trying to reset my mindset to aggro, I put pressure on in the first game, but there’s not much I can do about his morph creatures that become 6/6 and he just steam rolls me.

After the second match, Aiden said that he felt hungry and tired and wanted to go home. I now have remorse over my choice, so I’m more than willing to leave. I am not an aggro player by any stretch of the imagination. In the pantheon of CCG players, I am firmly planted in control. It is one of the reasons that I don’t like Hearthstone very much. Well, now I know for certain.

So, there you have it. My experience playing in the Khans of Tarkir prerelease. I tried something new, and failed miserably. Homer Simpson is right. “The lesson is to never try.” Seriously, though, after thinking about it and talking to Chris, Jeskai is definitely the way to go in the next event. Hope you all had better luck than me.

Lessons from the Kitchen Table Vol.2 : Noobs


Last May I decided to stop at a game store just to browse and kill some time before I had to pick my wifey up (domesticated duty calls, my friends). The owner of the store had set up a few tables out front to promote, at the time, the release of Journey into Nyx, and these tables were packed with people of all ages playing casual games of MTG, and while most were having a good time discussing the new release, deck changes they should have made..etc, there was one middle-aged guy who caught my eye. He had a perma-scowl painted onto his face, his brow furrowed in deep concentration and from his body language; you would have sworn that either he was 3 days deep into a battle with constipation or was in the final round of the Pro Tour . Far from it. He was sitting across from a boy that, in my estimation, was maybe 10-12 years old. I couldn’t help myself, I had to stop and watch. Why does this guy look so pissed? Is this kid a friggin’ MTG prodigy? I thought to myself. After a few minutes of observing their game, the answer to the latter became crystal clear: this kid was very, very new to the game. During what was clearly his last turn, (he was down 18-3), he drew a card, immediately looked up at his dad standing behind him with a quizzical look on his face (this drew a sigh from the other side of the table), and his dad gave him a smile, shrugged and pointed at the table as if to say, it’s your game. So he hesitates, taps for mana, and throws down a card (Give me a break, it was months ago, I don’t remember which one it was), then immediately says, Wrong one, sorry. and scoops it. What happened next made me almost ashamed of being an older player, I literally wanted to stop playing forever in that moment. The guy, with a smirk on his face, tells the kid in short order, no way, not happening, you played what you played. At first, everyone at the table had a chuckle, because, well, we thought he was just kidding around. Turns out he wasn’t. He was serious. He angrily and quite loudly explained that it was against the rules and that if this kid ever pulled that crapa in a tournament he would have been disqualified. 1. Are you ****ing kidding me?! 2. No, he wouldn’t have been disqualified, he would have just been told that he couldn’t swap the cards. 3. This isn’t a tournament, sh**-bird, and finally, 4. Are you ****ing kidding me?! Other players chimed in that it wasn’t a big deal, let the kid play the card he wanted to, he was done on the next turn anyways. The guy argued back and in the end, ultimately refused. The kid kept the card on the table, passed his turn and was taken out immediately. The kid’s dad stared a hole through the man and finally just shook his head in disbelief as his son boxed up his deck.

In my opinion, not even taking in consideration this kid’s age, I would like to believe that most people would let a new player get away with correcting a misplay. Cripes, even Shawn and I, the grizzled veterans that we are, let each other correct misplays. There is a reason why it’s called a casual game, why not take the opportunity to treat it as a learning experience as well? I don’t know about you, but I don’t get off knowing that I beat my opponent because he/she spaced out and played the wrong card. I rather win because my deck performed better and I made the correct plays.

“So what’s your point?”, you might be asking. Well if you want to be impatient about it, here it is: in order to achieve a victory that was a lock in the first place, this guy’s actions might have possibly scared this kid off of the game for good. So what? It’s just one kid right? Wrong. Word of mouth really is a powerful marketing tool, (Hey! Tell your friends about this website! And add us on FB and Twitter!), this kid could have showed the game to some of his friends at school, who in turn each buy a starter deck, and then show a few of their friends how to play…and just like that, the next generation of players grows. So, don’t bash the noobs, encourage them, if you are playing one and they make a mistake, let them correct it. There are absolutely no bragging rights when you smash someone who only has a game or two underneath their belt. Oh, and If they ask a question on a forum, just answer it for the love of god, and skip the snarky remarks. Remember, they are the next generation that will keep the game you love, alive and well. Don’t alienate them or refuse to share your knowledge with them. Without noobs, the game will eventually grow stale, and when you least expect it..poof! it’s gone the way of the W.o.W card game






Graveyard Dredge (Legacy)


Here it is..our 2nd deck list for your viewing pleasure. As the title suggests this is a black and green graveyard deck, I’ve had pretty good results with it (9-2) but once again, we will post our disclaimer: we cana’t promise you that you will win tournaments, or in general, that you will win every game that you play. What we can promise you is that it’s a fun deck to pilot. Without further ado, we present The E.C’s Graveyard Dredge:

Strengths: Dominant mid-range deck, lots of removal, big creatures quick,

Weaknesses: Control decks can be an issue(when are they not?) , or any deck with a lot of removal.

The List: (60 cards)

Creatures (22)

 Spells (20)

2x Nyx Weaver

2x Strength From The Fallen

1x Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord

4x Putrefy

4x Nemesis of Mortals

4x Grisly Salvage

2x Nighthowler

2x Murder

1x Avatar of Woe

4x Commune With The Gods

2x Dreg Mangler

2x Treasured Find

1x Ghoultree

2x Drown in Filth

2x Sedge Scorpion

Lands (18)

2x Slaughterhorn

2x Overgrown Tomb

2x Deathrite Shaman

10x Forest

1x Lotleth Troll

8x Swamp

2x Deadly Recluse

The Strategy

Nyx Weaver, Commune with the Gods, Grisly Salvage and Drown in Filth are the backbone of this deck. Use them to self-mill into your graveyard. Once you’ve milled a few times, you should have enough creatures in your graveyard to pump up Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord and Nighthowler while also casting Ghoultree and Nemesis of Mortals for next to nothing. Don’t panic if your opponent gets the jump on you, save your removal spells for clearing a path for when you drop a big creature onto the board. Use Treasured Find to save anything you didn’t want to mill.

Circle of Protection: Bank Account


mtglogo brokeguy


We’ve all been there: a new expansion is on the horizon, you eagerly scour the internet for the spoilers that are leaking everyday, anticipating the holiest of all Magic days: new expansion release day, and by god, you are prepared to let your wallet recklessly explode all over your local game store’s counter. Well, hold on a second, with the upcoming release of Khans next Friday, I figure that now is as good of a time as any to give you a few tips that I use to enjoy the hobby while not denting my bank account.

1. Shop for singles: This tip has saved me the most money by far. Instead of buying sealed product, make a list of the singles that you are interested in owning and go to and/or eBay. When I started playing again, Gatecrash had been out for a couple of months and I wanted two Boros Reckoners (as well as a handful of other cards), so I went to the game store and bought ten
packs and ended up just pulling one plus another two of the other cards I wanted. Well that wasn’t enough, I needed one more. So instead of going straight to eBay I bought five more packs and pulled none. Again, instead of just buying the ****ing card online, I went back and bought five MORE packs and finally pulled the second Reckoner but nothing else I wanted. So all in all, to pull four cards out of the ten or eleven that I wanted, I spent 79.80 + tax. At the time Reckoners were going for $25.00-$35.00 for a set of four on eBay. Ouch.
Of course now he only goes for around $3.00 a piece (sonofa…).The point is that in my experience, I’ve been able to get 90-95% of the cards I’ve wanted for the price of 10-20 booster packs, and you are GUARANTEED to get what you want. “But Blondie, opening boosters is fuuuuuunnnnnn!” Stop whining, yes, I agree but so is building up a savings account. It’s a different kind of fun, it’s fun in a financially responsible way. Ok, ok, it’s not fun, but you’ll thank me when your
car craps the bed and you get the repair bill. What? You thought your mechanic took payment in the form of Thoughtseizes and Mutavaults?

2. Wait for the block rotation to buy the high end singles: I know, I know, pick your jaw up off of the floor. I’m well aware that this tip requires a certain amount of patience (and a massive amount of willpower) and if you are a regular participant in Standard tournaments, this obviously won’t work for you. For the rest of us that play Modern and Legacy this one will save you some scratch. As I illustrated with Boros Reckoner in tip #1, after a block rotates out of Standard (or even if it’s about to), the value of the majority of high end cards in that block drop significantly as people are looking to unload them. This is your chance to swoop in and grab those cards that at one point were financially unattainable. Now with next year’s changes to the block rotation format, this money-saving tip is more feasible than it was in the past.

3. Sell to buy: If you absolutely insist on buying that booster box that you just can’t live without (you can but I won’t argue with you, junkie), and you apparently enjoy looking at the same commons and uncommons over and over again. ZING! Well, put down that debit card and make your existing collection buy it for you. Sell those unused rares and boxes of commons you have sitting in a closet on Craigslist or eBay. You’ll clean up some clutter and also get some
return back on your initial investment.

As I said before, I’ve used these tips myself for the past year and it has made a huge difference not just financially but how I feel about the hobby in general. It doesn’t have to be the money pit that some people make it out to be if you just take a step back, breath, and really think about if you need that box or those ten packs or even those five packs, or can you get the cards that you really want by just going singles shopping? My last bit of advice for you is to remember that these cards are not serial numbered, there are literally thousands and thousands of each one, budget yourself, they’ll still be there when you can comfortably afford them.

Communication Breakdown

(Note: Fake Surgeon General’s Warning – Hearthstone May Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health)

I was playing Hearthstone the other morning as I sometimes do. Usually, I will log in to check what the daily quest is and if it is one that doesn’t look like it will take too long or I am close to that magic 100 gold mark (free packs!), then I will try to complete the quest. While the quest was not necessarily and easy one (Hunter or Druid dominance – because my druid deck is not the most efficient win wise as it is a troll deck designed to frustrate hunters and I despise playing hunter because it is basically face roll), I decided to play the druid deck because I haven’t played it much lately. I tweaked it to make it slightly more competitive, but it still works mostly only as a way to get the opponent to use the “threaten” emote as much as possible in the time that it takes me to ultimately lose. Childish? Perhaps, but it is all just meant to be harmless fun.

On this particular morning, the plan backfired big time. Instead of facing hunters, who were no doubt unleashing many hounds on their last minute pushes to legend rank before the nerf bat smacks them, I went up against a priest, a face warrior that somehow drew every weapon in his deck in his opening hand, and then another priest. These are all terrible match ups for my poor druid deck and I lost every single game. Good, you might be thinking, sometimes you are the troll and sometimes you get trolled. Serves you right. I respect that sentiment and agree with all of it. That’s not the point of this post.

As an aside, I should have a drinking game where you take a shot every time I say “That’s not the point of this post” (and chug a beer for every parenthetical phrase) in my articles. Then again, we do want this to be a form for everyone and that disqualifies our younger readers. How about Bingo? Is there a non-old people equivalent to Bingo?

But, I digress. (Aha, that’s another one for Bingo!) The point of this article is that as the losses mounted, my mood turned worse and worse to the point that I was actively cursing the screen and the anonymous person on the other side of it. So, you’re a sore loser, you might respond, why write an entire article about it? I’m usually not. I lose, quite often, to Chris in Magic during our games and I take those losses in stride. Granted there was the time that I called his Quicksilver Amulet “bull…stuff” but that was more a commentary on my inability to properly counter it and it has led me on a crusade to build a deck to do just that. Forget games, I’ve lost plenty in live (most notably jobs) and I just get back out there and “fail up”.

Another piece of this puzzle is that it isn’t just me. Chris stopped playing Hearthstone completely because he didn’t like the person he became when he lost. I have seen more than one Twitch streamer have a meltdown on camera after a prolonged losing streak. I’m not proud of this, but I also rage added an opponent to my friend list simply to type some of the curses directly to him. Mind you, I come here not to bury Hearthstone. Granted, I’m not exactly here to praise it either. While I think that the game relies entirely too much on randomness (a reason that I hate poker and to an extent fantasy football), it isn’t the game alone that elicits these responses.

I once played two Hearthstone games against a Twitch streamer and lost one of them on a fluky play that normally would have caused a tantrum, but I congratulated him and went on completely unfazed. I have also played friendlies against Chris and others and those losses were also handled with my normal good nature. That leaves the question, “Why can this game turn a normally mild mannered gamer into a foul-mouthed verbal assassin?”

The previously mentioned randomness and imbalance of certain cards and classes does not help. You can go from a very strong position to a very weak one in the span of only one draw or turn and it happens regularly. I have seen the phenomenon in other card games, but it happens more infrequently in those games than in Hearthstone. Watch or play enough of this game and you will hear or utter the phrase “top deck” as a curse at least once a game. No doubt that adds to the frustration (I had that game won and it was the last one for the quest. Son of a –) but it has just as much chance of going for you as against you, so there has to be more.

Enter “zoo” warlock and hunter. There are others (like the priests and warriors against my druid deck), but those are the two major offenders right now. Sure, the decks are consistent, cheap, and fast. I’m not even that good of a player and I can win 75-80% of my games with those decks. I finished the hunter quest later in the day with a 5-1 streak as hunter. I cheer when the warlock dominance quest shows up because I know it won’t take more than 15 minutes to complete. So, I can’t blame people for using them. Still, Web Spinner turn 1, then face plus hero power turn two, buzzard plus unleash on turn 5 (this one will change because the only way that Blizzard knows how to balance is with the nerf bat), or Voidwalker, coin blood imp turn one, then two flame imp on turn 2, and then Harvest Golem turn 3. The decks are so damn predictable and that’s boring and frustrating. Warlock has the added bonus of two card potential per turn in a game that features 30 card decks. You can stonewall hunter. As I mentioned earlier, my druid deck does well against them because of removal. If you somehow remove the onslaught of zoo, no worries, they have plenty of one and two drops to replace them. Random plus boring times severe imbalance equals streams of obscenity at some anonymous person that is just as easily a wanna be pro neckbeard as a 12-year old kid trying his first card game.

That brings me to my last, and most important, point in the article. There’s a reason that people hate Twitter. When you can easily create an anonymous account and spew forth any stupid opinion in 140 characters or less, that’s not exactly healthy for intelligent discourse. The same problem plagues Hearthstone. When I played against Chris or my other friends, I knew my enemy and the chat function allowed us to communicate during the match. Even if I wasn’t friends with the streamer, I had watched and interacted with him via chat enough to build a rapport. Normally, the other person in Hearthstone is completely unknown to you and some days you just feel like the world is out to get you. The only way to react to something is through a friend request at the end of the game. Because of rage adding, of which I’ve already admitted to being guilty*, most people won’t even respond or they might try to beat you to the rage with some venom of their own.

A chat function (and there have been many requests and good ideas of how to implement one that Blizzard has routinely ignored in favor of using updates to swing their nerf bats) would solve these problems. you would know if your opponent was a dink worthy of ridicule, scorn, abuse, or simply being ignored. You could react to a good play with an actual comment instead of a preconceived “emote” that more often than not sounds sarcastic. Who knows what could happen? I’ve made connections with people through World of Warcraft that extend beyond the game. A game supposedly built on social interaction might actually foster meaningful and healthy social interactions instead of bouts of furious swearing and the threat of broken monitors.

Do you want to swear at or be sworn at by me? Meet me in Hearthstone and bring your zoo deck. Or, would you rather Blizzard stop nerfing hunter (while completely ignoring the warlock hero power) long enough to implement chat. Show your support in the comments and in forum posts with poor spelling and grammar. Trust me, those are the ones that get the attention of the “Blues”.

*I felt so guilty after swearing at that person that I added the very next person that I played. He pulled off some insane combo with Raging Worgen, Elven Archer, and Power Overwhelming to kill me, so I added him and said, “Awesome combo.” He admitted that was the first time he was able to pull it off and we have chatted a few times since. See…chat. To the forums.

Currently Playing…Vol.3


Gears of War: Judgment (360) I’ll admit that based on several negative reviews that I had read about this game, I passed on picking this title up for months. However, that changed a few weeks ago when I saw it sitting in the ol’ bargain bin at Gamestop with a nine dollar price tag. Nine bucks?! For a Gears game?! ?Man, it must be god-awful…just a complete dumpster fire, I thought to myself as I rescued it from the land of misfit games. I figured I own the first three Gears of War games so why not? Turns out, that while there really isn’t much new about this game, it’s still Gears, and it’s still really, really fun. Shawn and I had a blast with it on our last a nerd night we actually played the Survivor(Horde) mode for a good chunk of the night, which is rare for us as we usually like to cycle through games pretty quickly. My only complaint about this game is that the multiplayer options are pretty weak compared to its predecessors. Other than that, I didn’t find anything else wrong with the game. Our bulletproof (bullet-riddled?) strategy of Shawn running around like friggin’ Rambo and my character protecting the E-hole? (insert snickering here), actually seemed to work for the first 8 waves. After that, things got ugly fast: our AI amigos were busy being useless somewhere,? Shawnbo? and I were used for target practice by Boomers and Maulers, and the rest of the Locust basically had our “E-hole” for breakfast (insert high-pitched laughter here).