All posts by Noob of All Trades

Shawn Lucas is the self identified "Noob of All Trades". He is married and the father of three boys, two of whom help with their own podcast every couple of months. Raised on Atari, Nintendo, and Sega, he enjoys all games and will play all of them to the best of his ability, which is often average at best. Currently, he is most interested in Magic, Heroclix, and other games that he can play with Chris and his sons.

2021 NFC Preview: An NFL Love Story

Introduction

And, now, time for the 2 Guys Gaming 2021 NFC Preview. I got back to writing for the page after an extended absence and, frankly, a bit of an identity crisis. However, as I said to a friend the other day, I like to write and this page (and my http://www.2guysgaming.net/outdoorsother page) are the only sources of inspiration for that creative outlet right now. And, so, here I am typing once again into the void.

If you’re a regular to the page, you know my story with the NFC. If not, let me take this paragraph to explain. I grew up in Pennsylvania. Born in Pittsburgh, then moved to Erie while still in elementary school, I defaulted to being a Steelers fan. As a result, I paid little to no attention to the NFC other than watching with chagrin as they pummeled the shit out of my AFC teams in the Super Bowl. The Bears gave me one year of respite in 1985 and I watchd with glee that year as they absolutely destroyed the Pats.

LOUISIANA, NO – JANUARY 26: William Perry #72 celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the New England Patriots during Superbowl XX at the Louisiana Superdome January 26, 1986 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Bears won the Super Bowl 46-10. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Yes, it’s true. I have been an anti-fan of the Patriots longer than most people. Their most recent run of success with Belichick and Tom “Terrific” “Golden Boy” Brady only fueled that hatred and crystalized it into the unhealthy obsession you see today. Hell. You might be thinking, “He’s talking about this team in the NFC preview even though they sucked last year and Brady is at Tampa.” Trust me. We’ll get to that.

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys (6-10, 3rd place in 2020): I want to like Dak. I understand that, as a Steelers fan, I am legally bound to despise the Cowboys and all they stand for. However, I’ve mentioned before, I’m far less of a Steelers fan these days. Hell, I even rode Dak a couple of years ago in fantasy football. I combo’d him with Amari Cooper. What can I say? I’m a master on the waiver wire.

New York Giants (6-10, 2nd place in 2020): Okay, now that I got rid of about 90% of you and will get rid of the remaining 10% now that I’m talking about the Giants, I can put my secret to a long and healthy life in this paragraph and nobody will ever know it. MUAHAHAHAHAHA!

Philadelphia Eagles (4-11-1, 4th place in 2020): Remember when the NFC used to be the “best division in football”? Yeah, that’s not true anymore. At least it wasn’t last year. Admittedly, I don’t pay a ton of attention to the offseason. Nevertheless, I don’t see that changing this year.

Washington Football Team (7-9 , 1st place in 2020): The only thing I ever have to say about this team until it changes is, “Dan Snyder is a dick.”

NFC West

Arizona (?) Cardinals (8-8, 3rd place in 2020): Are they still in Arizona? I feel like they moved last year. This is the team that should be in Vegas, not the Raiders. Oh well, neither here nor there. I like their quarterback and I accidentally noticed while visiting family in Pennsylvania that they made some moves. Might be able to sneak in past the overachieving Rams.

Los Angeles Rams (10-6, 2nd place in 2020): Speaking of the Rams, I have nothing else to say. Once upon a time I really liked Sean McVay. Now that I realize he’s just another con in the long history of this country, he offends me to my very core.

San Francisco 49ers (6-10, 4th place in 2020): God, there are a lot of bad teams in this league. Other than the possibility of Trey Lance, I have nothing good to say about the 49ers, either.

Seattle Seahawks (12-4, 1st place in 2020): Thankfully the Seahawks are not one of those terrible teams because, otherwise, one of those terrible teams might win this lousy division just like the Washingtons are the shit that rose to the top in the East. Here’s to you, Seahawks. Thanks for keeping Jimmy G and Jared Goff out of the playoffs.

NFC North

Chicago Bears (8-8, 2nd place in 2020): I think the Mitch Trubisky experiment is over in Chicago. Yes, a quick Google search confirms that. Too bad because I liked Mitch. But, I’m also ready to see what Fields can do once Andy Dalton and Nick Foles both go down with an injury.

Detroit Lions (5-11, 4th place in 2020): You could tell me literally anything about the Lions and I’d believe you. I have paid no attention to the Lions other than the fact that they are on in the background for 3 hours on Thanksgiving every year.

Green Bay Packers (13-3, 1st place in 2020): I sold out completely in rooting for Green Bay/Kansas City in the Super Bowl last year that when the Packers lost to Tompa, I all but gave up on the season. Given the Chiefs injuries, Green Bay probably would have rolled them, too. But, at least I wouldn’t have had to watch Tom Brady win another damn Super Bowl.

Minnesota Vikings (7-9, 3rd place in 2020): The Vikings defense was almost historic a couple of years ago. This year, I only heard about them because their quarterback is an idiot anti-vaxxer. So, should be a good year for them, right?

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons (4-12, 4th place in 2020): For a few years there, I wanted to ship the entire NFC South (and AFC South) to Europe as my plan to expand into that market. Glad to see the Falcons are still upholding that fine tradition.

Carolina Panthers (5-11, 3rd place in 2020): I had two different layovers in Carolina cities this summer. Also, my wife wants to visit the Outer Banks. None of that, obviously, is relevant. The same can be said for the Panthers recently.

New Orleans Saints (12-4, 1st place in 2020): Before Aaron Rodgers, I wanted Drew Brees and the Saints to end Tompa’s inevitability. Obviously, that did not happen. Now, Brees is retired and Jameis Winston is the quarterback. If nothing else, the Saints will be exciting this year.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5, 2nd place in 2020): Eff the Bucs.

The Verdict

Other than a few noted exceptions, I can go back to my childhood habit of ignoring the NFC until they break my heart in the Super Bowl.

Note: All teams and the single logo used on this web page are the property of the NFL. They are used without consent (written or otherwise), but only in good fun. If you’re feeling litigious, please refrain from throwing your vast legal resources at this small page that caters to my kids, Chris (Hi Chris!) and about 25 Russian bots (Hi Sergei!).

2021 AFC Preview: An NFL Love Story

Introduction

It has been nearly two months since you heard anything from us here at 2 Generations Gaming. That begs a couple of questions. Why were we gone for so long? Why are we back now? So, before I give you our 2021 AFC Preview, let me answer those questions for you as best I can.

Why were we gone for so long? I’m nothing, if not honest. Therefore, I will give you the honest answer here. The truth of the matter is that we here at the page had an honest to goodness identity crisis. Chris and I planned, twice, to record another episode in an attempt to get the podcast rolling again and both times, we failed. I take full responsibility for this failure.

One time I simply forgot. The other, it ended up being Father’s Day.

Why are we back now? As a result of that, we came to a tentative agreement to consider the web page dead. I lapsed on the payments until they sent the email telling me that they shut it off. I considered calling it then. Truth be told, I probably should. This page has had almost no reach and I honestly have no clue how to find my way in this new online environment.

I realize that none of that explains why we are back now. It actually explains better why we would consider never returning. I suppose the only viable answer to the question is that I’m both stubborn and hopelessly optimistic. As Marc Maron derisively said once on his show, “Without any gatekeepers, anyone thinks they can do this.” So, let’s keep this delusion going for a little while longer, at least.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills (13-3, 1st place in 2020): I enjoy when Buffalo is good. Most of it is because I grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania and Buffalo was one of our “home” teams. Cleveland was the other. Curiously, Pittsburgh, in the same state as Erie, was only shown when the other teams were blacked out. NFL TV rules are sometimes weird.

Miami Dolphins (10-6, 2nd place in 2020): Regular readers of the page (all half a dozen of you) know that I have a major man crush on Tua Tagovailoa. Immediately after he threw the touchdown in the National Championship game, I texted my friend Craig to tell him Iwas in love. Last year was a mixed bag for my man. Hoping he turns it around this year.

New England Patriots (7-9, 3rd place in 2020): Chris, the other names participant on this page, is a Patriots fan. I grew up a Steelers fan, but consider myself more of a nomad these days. Nevertheless, we text about the Patriots and Steelers on the regular. Surprisingly,the news of Cam’s release only elicited a single text and reply. Then again, maybe not all that surprising.

New York Jets (2-14, 4th place in 2020): I freely admit my shrtcomings on this page regularly. One of those is that I will periodically forget that teams exist. As I ran through the 4 teams in the East, Ihad to look up the fourth team, the Jets. I know precisely nothing about the team this year.

AFC West

Denver Broncos (5-11, 4th place in 2020): I should have done some research before writing this preview. In my defense, Simmons and Sal haven’t done their week 1 “Guess the Line” show, if they are still doing it. I haven’t been able to find anything online about it. Hope it’s still happening. They get me through the Friday afternoon commute.

Kansas City Chiefs(14-2, 1st place in 2020): Mahomes was my first man crush of this new crop of young QBs and looked to be the guy to retire Old Man Brady. Alas, injuries to his offensive line and Tompa selling out to win last year derailed that storyline for the moment. But, I still love my man and forever will.

Las Vegas Raiders (8-8, 2nd place in 2020): So, I watched the The Hangover Trilogy again a few weeks ago. Then, on my shuttle to the Logan to fly to Pennsylvania to visit family, two ladies were excited about their trip to Vegas. I imagine both are infinitely more entertaining than anything the Raiders will do this year.

San Die…er, Los Angeles Chargers (7-9, 3rd place in 2020): They will forever be the San Diego Chargers to me. Aside from that fun fact, I’m all in on Justin Hebert, but it’s not a man crush. I’ll drop him like a bad habit if he can’t stay in form this year.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens (11-5, 2nd place in 2020): I mentioned earlier that I used to be a Steelers fan. On some level, I always will be. However, I also consider myself a bit of a free agent. Given autonomy over my fandom, I might actually like the Ravens and Browns more than the Steelers. Talk about an about face.

Cincinatti Bengals (4-11-1, 4th place in 2020): Even though I like Joe Burrows and want him to succeed, I will not root for the Bengals. Fuck them guys.

Cleveland Browns (11-5, 3rd place in 2020): The Browns, on the other hand. Love them Browns. I’ve loved Baker ever since college. The talking heads shit on him for being too much of a college student after they shit on Tim Tebow for not being enough of one. Hoping the North comes down to a race between the new and old Browns.

Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4, 1st place in 2020): My grandfather (and possibly my father) is rolling over in his grave after my comments about the Ravens and Browns. I don’t want to break their hearts even further, so I will leave it at that.

AFC South

Houston Texans (4-12, 3rd place in 2020): For a few years there, everyone was enamoured with JJ Watt and picked the Texans to win the AFC. And, every year, they finished under .500. Thankfully, that trend seems to have passed.

Indianapolis Colts (11-5, 2nd place in 2020): If you asked me to give you the Indianapolis Colts record to save someone I love from a Jigsaw style trap, they’d be the one dead before the opening credits.

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-15, 4th place in 2020): They have a new stud quarterback. They have the new hotness as head coach. They had a new running back. Well, they still do, but he’s on the injured list for the year, so he’s not going to contribute much. The past few years I advocated for sending the Jags permanently to Europe to start expansion into that continent. They can stay this year.

Tennessee Titans (11-5, 1st place in 2020): I liked the Titans as the Bills nemesis in the playoffs last year and look forward to that rivalry blossoming into the future. Aside from that, I don’t have much to say about them.

The Verdict

Thanks for reading my 2021 AFC Preview. I expect more of the same out of the conference. KC will toy with everyone and maybe flirt with an undefeated season. The AFC South will disappoint me and I’ll be talking about shipping them all overseas by midseason. One thing that will be a surprise is that I might actually root for the Patriots this year. I want Mac Jones to be successful and that’s been enough in the past for me to bury the hatchet and start rooting for a team. Join me soon for the NFC!

Note: All teams and the single logo used on this web page are the property of the NFL. They are used without consent (written or otherwise), but only in good fun. If you’re feeling litigious, please refrain from throwing your vast legal resources at this small page that caters to my kids, Chris (Hi Chris!) and about 25 Russian bots (Hi Sergei!).

Cards I Love: Forgotten Realms Miscellany

Introduction

First Esper, then Gruul, now the Forgotten Realms Miscellany article. I am on a damn roll this week with content. Fear not, though, I have nothing planned for next week and the following week is the annual Cape Cod trip. So, the page will be languishing again in no time. Look forward to that!

Rest In Peace – 2 Guys Gaming (2014-2021)?

But, for now, revel in the fact that we are here and providing you with at least second tier content. Chris texted me yesterday, “There’s a lot of good cards in the set.” I replied, “Yeah, it’s a fun set.” Of course, that reply came before I reviewed green, so I was grading on a bit of a curve. Nevertheless, I like the set and I agree with myself that they’ll probably make another D&D set once they see how popular this one is. Let’s see what fun cards are in Forgotten Realms miscellany.

Forgotten Realms Miscellany: Dungeons and Artifacts

I already touched on dungeons in one of the other articles, but I only showed one of them at that time. These three cards represent some of the most recognizable dungeons in the game Dungeons and Dragons. I can’t wait to put together my dungeon themed Tiny Leaders deck.

Speaking of dungeons, here’s a map! Plus, 50 feet of rope! But, watch out for that Mimic! Ah, mimic, the reason that generations of Dungeons and Dragons players have trust issues.

Forgotten Realms Miscellany: Multicolored

This section became a showcase for some of the most iconic names in Dungeons and Dragons history. Tiamat fills two purposes, one as a major geek-gasm and the other as a flavor win by being 5 colors. The alt art isn’t for Xanathar, but I wish it was. Maybe I will commission an alter to make it so. Finally, I never read nor played any of the Forgotten Realms setting, but even I know Drizzt.

Forgotten Realms Miscellany Gives Us Some Fun Cards

I love the dungeon concept. I wish they gave us more of them, but three gives enough variety now. Who knows? Perhaps they will make more or the MTG/D&D community will make more for us to use. Every single one of those artifact cards is going in my dungeon themed tiny leaders deck. I told Chris that I’m going to have fun opening my box of this set and I will. I just hope they make another D&D set and selfishly, I hope they base it on Dragonlance next time.

Cards I Love: Forgotten Realms Gruul Edition

Introduction

Yesterday, I rolled up into your life after 2 months like nothing ever happened with the first of my MTG Forgotten Realms articles. Today, I bring you Forgotten Realms Gruul Edition. These colors are always the most difficult for me to pick cards. I am in no way shape or form a red or green mage. Chris is, which is what makes our one-on-one duels so much fun. We end up on opposite ends of the color wheel almost every single time.

Unless we’re doing sealed. Then, I always go 5-color good stuff. Picture courtesy of TCG Player.

Though Chris has rubbed off on me a bit through our games and conversations, keep this in mind as you read the article. I pick red and green cards through they eyes of a blue (and sometimes black and white) mage. Don’t expect any one turn kills or massive mana spikes. No, for this Forgotten Realms Gruul edition, you may have to suffer through card draw and counter spells. It could happen! Red got Tibalt’s Trickery after all.

Red: Give me a quest, a baby Embercleave, and a possible 2 turn kill

Honorable Mention (You Find Some Prisoners/Dueling Rapier): I sent both of these cards to Chris. I like You Find Some Prisoners because it again illustrates a facet of Dungeons and Dragons. Since it is basically a cooperative storytelling game, as I explained to Chris, you often find yourself faced with decisions like this that are introduced in such a manner as “The party…”

When I texted Chris, I captioned “Dueling Rapier” with “Baby Embercleave”. Now that I look at it again, it is more like fetus Embercleave. Still, a fun card, just not the tiny broken weapon I initially rated it as. Now that I say that, someone will break it, most likely against me.

Minion of the Mighty: Yep, you guessed it again. I texted this one to Chris. My exact quote: “This is going to be a problem.” Sure enough, the next day, some web pages wrote articles about how it enabled turn 2 kill in some formats. Granted, it requires a specific set of cards, but most combos do. I just like to pat myself on the back when I get a card right.

Green: Give me a cursed idol, a neat trick, and a tiny leader

Honorable Mention (You Find a Cursed Idol/Wild Shape): Green cards in this set are pretty lame. I consider none of them good or even fun. These three represent the most fun and they are pretty damn awful. Cursed Idol, at least, has some versatility. Wild Shape, too, and it can be a fun trick to play at the end of the game to give you another turn to find an answer. I wish one of the options gave you deathtouch, but that’s neither here nor there.

Varis, Silverymoon Ranger: I have a tiny leaders deck with Yisan, the Wanderer Bard. It’s a fun deck that isn’t terribly tuned, but it was able to beat Chris’s even less tuned deck. As soon as I saw this card, I wanted to build a tiny leaders deck around a dungeon theme. Again, not a great card, but I guess if pressed I could call this one fun.

The Verdict (Forgotten Realms Gruul Edition weighs heavily in favor of red)

Red gets some of the most fun and powerful cards in the set. Green is all but forgotten in both cases. I suppose not all colors can be winners in every set, but they’ve actually been pretty good about printing powerful cards and balancing all colors in that regard. Maybe I’m missing something. It wouldn’t be the first time. However, thinking back on it, Chris and I didn’t share many green cards during our spoiler texts, so maybe green is just bad this time around. Thanks for reading my Forgotten Realms Gruul Edition and come back tomorrow for the miscellaneous cards.

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!

Strixhaven Gruul: Cards I Love

Introduction

Yesterday’s Strixhaven Esper review marked a triumphant return to the page for me. Today, we look at the Strixhaven Gruul cards. Traditionally, as you all know, these colors have been my strong suit. Nevertheless, I soldier on and do my duty to pick the cards for this article.

If you read yesterday’s article, you know that many of the cards I picked fit right in with nonexistent, as of today, commander decks. I suppose that it’s time to brush off the old, “I’m a Commander player that has never played a single game of Commander.” Sooner or later, I’m going to have to stop saying that. But, not today, true believers!

Today, I pick the best cards from my worst colors. Red and Green are Chris’s thing. Maybe I should get his input for this article. Too bad he swore off this set completely in one of our last text chains. Oh well, I guess you’re stuck with my Strixhaven Gruul cards.

Red (Play a better color like black or blue)

Honorable Mention (Draoconic Intervention/Retriever Phoenix): The requisite phoenix in the set dies to all removal. However, it gives us another use for our Learn mechanic as long as it isn’t exiled. Being a blue player, I don’t know why you wouldn’t use Learn to cycle, but that is between you and your god. The other is just mass removal because, if I’m forced to play red, I’m playing it like black.

Conspiracy Theorist: This card is simply amazing. I honestly have no idea why this card is not blue. It does blue things. Everything it does is blue. I get that WotC switched up the color wheel and moved some things into new colors. It adds much needed diversity to the strategy of the game. Even so, I operate under the assumption that this card is blue.

Green (Some Johnny, Some Timmy, Some Spike?)

Honorable Mention (Accomplished Alchemist/Bayou Groff): That plant dog looks like he’s not a good boi. However, he hits the board pretty quickly in a token deck. If you get it out there and give it trample, it does some serious damage. Meanwhile, the elf shows up because the Johnny Combo that lives deep in the recesses of my brain wants it to be there.

Leyline Invocation: Admittedly, few universes exist where this card excites Spike. I wanted to complete the trilogy, but Spike avoids me. And so, I present a Timmy/Johnny bastard child that ultimately does nothing. What can I say? I like the Fractal token.

It’s so cute!

The Verdict (I warned you)

I told you from the beginning. I despise red and green. Okay, that’s not entirely true. However, I treated red like blue or black and basically memed all over green. If you want red or green picks this time, I guess we wait to see if Chris responds with his picks. Since he already said he wants nothing to do with this set, don’t hold your breaths.

Note: Spoilers courtesy of Mythic Spoiler. Check them out for all your spoiler needs!

Strixhaven Esper: Cards I Love

Intrroduction

Welcome to our Strixhaven Esper review. I tried something different with my most recent Hearthstone reviews. Unfortunately, that format isn’t conducive to Magic the Gathering reviews simply because of the number of cards in the average MTG set. Therefore, MTG reviews remain a single card (with two honorable mention) for each color, mult-colored, and colorless (plus land, if applicable). Chris chose to pass on Strixhaven. I ordered my usual box/bundle combo. However, I have yet to even open my Zendikar Rising product. Granted, I am on vacation this week. Even so, I have no motivation.

I promised to put up at least one YouTube video this week to try to build some momentum there. I noticed that my Shadowlands reaction video got 190 views. It gave me the idea to post some gameplay from the new Atari 2600 game, Circus Convoy. I ordered two copies because the cartridges don’t work with my emulator. I was going to give the non-collector copy away in an attempt to drive traffic/subscribers.

Chris agrees that the idea has both merit and potential. I still have time during the vacation. I just have to hope that the motivation loads before vacation ends. But, that’s a discussion for another time. Let’s take a look at these Strixhaven Esper cards.

White (Fun Police and Invisible Decks)

Honorable Mention (Study Break/Expel): The two honorable mention cards work well together in a fun police deck. We all know those are my favorite decks to play. Even alone they have some utility. Plus, Study Break gives me the opportunity to talk about a new mechanic, Learn. I like the flexibility of Learn.

Secret Rendezvous: This card combos quite nicely with Narset, Parter of Veils in my nonexistent Dragonlord Ojutai EDH deck. One of these day, surprise! Deck built and used to terrorize opponents on MTGO. More likely, look for the deck on xMage since I’m already invested in physical cards and MTGA. Who knows? Maybe if FNM in person ever returns, the deck makes an appearance there.

Blue (Draw Cards, then Draw More Cards)

Honorable Mention (Ingenious Mastery/Teachings of the Archaics): I like drawing cards. I know. We all like drawing cards. Drawing cards gives us more cards to draw more cards. But, me, I really like drawing cards. I like drawing cards so much that if they gave an award for drawing cards, I wouldn’t win the award because I’d be too busy drawing more cards.

Multiple Choice: This card is hilarious. From the ridiculous design to the apt name, this card is going into every single deck I run that’s blue. Those of you who visit the page often know that’s every single one of my decks. Especially that Dragonlord Ojutai deck. Maybe if I say it enough, I can manifest the deck from thin air.

Black (Show Some Love for Liliana)

Honorable Mention (Go Blank/Plumb the Forbidden): Go Blank is Mind Rot with upside! Plumb the Forbidden might actually overtake Ms. Liliana as my choice card. I just came up with an idea for another nonexistent EDH deck. This one builds around an as of now unknown Esper commander, but uses Bastion of Remembrance and possibly Jace, Wielder of Mysteries. Is there an Esper commander that creates tokens? Did I mention that I like drawing cards?

Professor Onyx: Have I declared my love for Liliana on the page yet? If not, let this serve as that declaration. She and Jace repeatedly top my list of favorite Planeswalkers. Sure, there was that brief fling with Teferi (3,4, and 5 mana cost all) and Narset plays in my MTGA decks. But, I have an Instagram post from a couple of years ago with both Jace and Liliana on the field. Hell, I used this card as an example of why I was excited for the set in a text to Chris. Toss it into my imaginary Esper EDH deck as well.

The Verdict

The Strixhaven Esper cards I picked for the article look very fun. All of them give me ideas for decks. I’m currently texting Chris about some NFL news and I’ve considered telling him that I want to deck doctor, especially these imaginary EDH decks I keep talking about. Join us next time for the Gruul colors!

Hearthstone Barrens Part 5: Great, Good, Decent

Introduction

Hearthstone Barrens Part 5 brings us, at last, to the end of our journey into Horde territory. It represents an arduous week and a half long trip through dangerous terrain. During our last entry, we fought against sneaky rogues and shaman wielding the very power of nature itself. I’m proud of our successes. We will learn from our failures. Overall, the journey made us stronger.

Nietzsche was a notorious ass, but this quote is pretty dope.

The final leg of our trip looks at Warlock and Warrior cards from the set. While I hate Rogue and Shaman, I always loved playing Handlock. Plus, any version of Wallet Warrior gives me a big happy. Neither of those archetypes appears in this set. However, wild exists. Maybe some cards from the set make it into those decks.

Speaking of Wild, I play that format almost exclusively. You think I’d (a) be better at it and (b) build decks around my favorite cards in the set. Let me answer in order. (a) I don’t care enough about the game to git gud. (b) That’s actually a good idea. Maybe after I review the new MTG set this week, I will revisit that idea. Thanks, random reader! For now, lets finish this set with Hearthstone Barrens Part 5.

Warlock

Decent: Broken record time. Look! Another ranked spell. This one is especially awful. Even if you get the fully ranked version, maybe you’ve exhausted all of your opponent’s removal. Highly unlikely, but that’s the only hope you have if you’re running this card. Honestly, the outfitter isn’t all that terrible, but this feels much more like they included it in the game to put it into Battlegrounds.

Good: A sub theme of Shadow spells for Warlock here. Similar to the sub theme of elementals for Shaman in the last article, I slacked on research. Therefore, this may be a strong archetype with other cards in the format. I will say that I haven’t seen much evidence of that. Who knows? Maybe they’re setting it up for a future set.

Great: As I mentioned, I loved Handlock. I tried playing Discolock a couple of times and performed terribly. Zoo is always there when I want to finish a Warlock quest quickly. But, my all time favorite deck was probably Mecha’thun Warlock. This strategy plays right into that deck. Another reason to revisit these cards in Wild.

Having played a mill strategy in both Hearthstone and MTG and also realizing that I said in my last article that I despised mill strategies, especially in Hearthstone, I find it funny that Blizzard forced Warlock into a mill strategy in this set. Yikes, how’s that for a run on sentence? I’d hate to diagram that almost as much as I hate mill strategies. On that note, I probably won’t ever play this deck. Oh yeah! How’s that for a transition? Ready for another, less smooth one?

Warrior

Decent: Okay, I won’t even say it this time. Instead, join me for story time. Once upon a time, Paladin utilized a strategy known as Hand Buff Paladin. I’m confident in your ability to figure out the base line of that strategy. These cards read like a worse version of that deck.

Good: Unlike some of the more recent classes, the good cards for warrior share little synergy. Perhaps I need to rethink my assessment of these cards. Honestly, it makes little difference. However, if I want to be taken seriously, I have to take myself seriously. When I redo my ranks in a few weeks, remind me to reevaluate Warrior more seriously.

Great: Blizzard pushing me to build a possibly terrible Frenzy Warrior deck. I’m more than willing to take that bait. It seems that others have, too. I faced more than one Frenzy Warrior during my recent play tests.

This deck combines Rush with Frenzy and the one taunt minion from above for some late game protection. It also is a deck that I shamelessly stole from Hearthstone top decks. The originator of the deck is Dekkster. Sorry for that, but I wanted to get this article done. 9/10 ain’t bad and you get at least one good deck from this all.

The Verdict

Hearthstone Barrens Part 5 wraps up the review of the set. Overall, I’m happy with how the new format worked and I may try it with my MTG Strixhaven review, hopefully starting tomorrow. MTG sets have many more cards, so I doubt I’ll include every card in the review, but I’ll try. Okay, off to swear at Hearthstone. I have some new decks to play!

Hearthstone Barrens Part 4: Great, Good, Decent

Introduction

Hearthstone Barrens Part 4 brings us 2 of my least favorite classes. I both hate playing and playing against Rogue and Shaman. It hasn’t always been like that. When the game first released, I enjoyed playing Shaman. I’ve never been able to figure out Rogue. I remember watching a stream and asking the streamer how to survive hitting everything with my face. Warrior and Druid both have armor to mitigate their attacks on minions. Shaman has healing. Rogue…has aggression? I guess. Kill the other player before you kill yourself.

Rogue started to annoy me with Kingsbane and the fact that everyone who plays Rogue in wild chooses mill. Hearthstone mill annoys me even more than MTG. At least in MTG, you have the option to recur your cards from the graveyard. When they’re milled in Hearthstone, they’re gone. So, yeah, screw Hearthstone mill.

Aggro Shaman became a deck a few years ago. Then, evolve Shaman burst onto the scene and continue to annoyingly bubble up into the meta. Finally, battlecry Shaman with Shudderwock made me want to claw the skin off of my face. While I don’t react as viscerally to Shaman, it still ranks at the bottom of my list of classes. Let’s get this Hearthstone Barrens Part 4 review out of the way.

Rogue

Decent: I suppose that Yoink! can have some utility, depending on the hero power choices you get and the situation. Oil Rig Ambusher is overall terrible unless maybe you combo it with Shadowstep? Even that feels underwhelming.

Good: Wicked Stab deals 6 damage at top rank. Field Contact might work in the right deck as a pseudo miracle effect, but it dies far too easily to removal to be consistent. And, the Octo-bot has a good Frenzy effect that might actually trigger. Frenzy pops when the minion first survives damage. It just doesn’t fit my “Poison Rogue” build I made.

Great: Once upon a time, Rogue ran a weapon that received +1 durability when you played a card from another class. Usually, you only put one in your deck because the other cards synergized so well that you went infinite with the weapon. Well, other than the fact that everyone else played rogue, too, and nullified the effect. Okay, what does this “Poison Rogue” that can’t quite go infinite look like?

This deck might actually make me change my mind about playing Rogue. It looks like a lot of fun. The cheap spells and topping off at 5 mana with Secret Passage ensures that there might be some crazy lethal turns out of nowhere. I might have overdone it with the removal and probably should have Eviscerate instead of Brain Freeze since it can go face. Especially since I have Ironbeak Owl and Coerce already in the deck. Now that I read it, I think that might be a change that I have to make. Join us in a month or so when I revisit these decks to see if I actually do that.

Shaman

Decent: Once again, the effects of the “Decent” cards look and feel too situational for me to consider them for my deck. At least for Shaman, they synergize pretty well. I with that Chain Lightning worked like The Lurker Below, but that would be busted as hell.

Good: Elementals! Elementals everywhere! Not really. There’s only 3 in this set and I’m not sure how many others in Standard right now. And so my laziness, and frankly stubbornness perhaps, you are stuck with murlocs instead. Let’s see the murlocs!

Seeing that murlocs in Standard are currently grossly underpowered, this deck is sure to lose more than it’ll win. I can’t even promise you that you’ll have fun as you’re losing. Why build this deck then? Why? Mglrlgglrlrlrlrlg!

That last statement translates roughly to “Eff Shaman, that’s why.” I jammed all possible murlocs in the deck. Put in some buffs, a bit of removal, and viola! We have a deck. Mgrglglglrlglglrgl!

The Verdict

I said that Hearthstone Barrens Part 4 brings two of my least favorite classes. They might even be my least favorite. The rogue deck actually makes me want to play the class more this expansion. The Shaman deck makes me laugh because it’s so terribly bad and I’ll never play Shaman other than if my random number generator makes me for Tavern Brawl. As I am trying to get back on track with my articles, hope to see you tomorrow for the finale, Part 5!

Hearthstone Barrens Part 3: Great, Good, Decent

Introduction

Hearthstone Barrens Part 3 covers Paladin and Priest cards. Slowly, but surely, we are making our way through the new set. So far, I’m happy with the new format. Sure, I often build terrible decks with either no synergy (or too much), but that’s part of the fun of the page. Once again, you can find meta decks at a variety of pages. Where else can you find ridiculous decks and occasional self deprecation?

In this day and age, there’s plenty of that to go around, too…Picture found here.

Once upon a time, in the recent past, I loved Priest. Blizzard unleashed the scourge of Demon Hunter on Hearthstone. I found a Galakrond Priest deck that absolutely destroyed them, so I played that exclusively for the last half a year or so. I never loved Paladin. It stems back to the PTSD caused by Secret Paladin. I never forgave the game for that meta. Even today, unless absolutely necessary, I refuse to play Paladin even to complete a quest.

More recently, Libram Paladin haunted me to the point that I automatically conceded every game against Paladin. I mean, Demon Hunter has become the new hotness in classes nobody wants to play. But, Paladin (and sometimes Priest) are the OGs when it comes to annoying archetypes. Hell, even now I play Galakrond Priest more than anything else and I still concede quite often because I’m in Priest ELO Hell. Let’s see what Hell Blizzard unleashed with our Hearthstone Barrens Part 3 review.

Paladin

Decent: Oh look, another terrible ranked spell and a worse Survivial of the Fittest. I considered Sermon for the “Good” section, but too many other good cards in the set reduced it to “Decent” status. Rank is a new mechanic and often times, they take a set or two to come up with some good cards for a new mechanic. Perhaps the next time they design ranked cards, they’ll come up with some better ones.

Good: To be fair, these cards might not all be better than Sermon. I just put them in this section because the synergy made me consider building a “Holy” deck instead of a secret deck. I nearly lost my mind when I thought that secrets might be “Holy” spells. Thankfully, they have no spell type, so that saved me from having to make too many decisions about my deck. Maybe I will revisit the “Holy” Paladin deck in a future article.

Great: I already talked in the introduction about the old Secret Paladin. Because this deck hasn’t annoyed me nearly as much as that deck, I’m willing to give it a chance and build it myself. I especially like the effect of Cannonmaster Smythe. I played it a few times and it was so much fun. What does this deck look like?

This deck has it all. There are secrets that are versatile, but hopefully won’t trigger immediately so that we can take advantage of Smythe. Both Fordrings can sync together if you draw Alex before Taelan dies. We need to search for Mankrik’s wife, which is a fun little Easter egg for those of us who played way too much World of Warcraft 5 years ago. Finally, Kazakus makes a return.

Priest

Decent: Both of these cards are very situational. I could see Soothsayer’s Caravan being good in a meta with high spell focused decks. Power Word: Fortitude only works with a high concentration of spells. Even then, consider what other spells it beats in any of the mana slots.

Good: Void Flayer fits in with that spell heavy deck I just discussed. However, the stat line is just good enough that it might be slotted in to some Priest decks as additional removal. Serena Bloodfeather is funny because it makes players do math, something that I’ve found CCG players to be surprisingly bad at. Hey, look! A ranked spell that is in the “Good” section. How did that happen? I was going to joke that this could have gone in the “Decent” section and what rule meant I couldn’t have 3 cards there? Instead, I’ll grudgingly admit that the card is pretty good late game.

Great: It appears that the theme for Priest this time is healing. Admittedly, not that inspiring of a theme. However, a timeless theme and less annoying that the theme they often unleash on unsuspecting Hearthstone players, resurrection. Accuse me of plagiarism if you must, but this deck will look a lot like the Blizzard deck in the Tavern Brawl preview for Forged in the Barrens.

As many of my Priest decks do, this one leans fairly heavily into the control aspect of the class. There’s ample removal, card generation, and finally healing to trigger the Xyrella for a big board removal. I might want to put in some of those annoying resurrection effects like Raise Dead, but Veilweaver and Palm Reading do give me a chance to add them to my hand. Hmm, come to think of it, Veilweaver might not be a good choice for this deck since the only trigger in the deck is Apotheosis. I will have to consider that for my revisit.

The Verdict

Paladin made out quite well in our Hearthstone Barrens Part 3 review. Priest is less fun as far as I can see, but I might be missing something. I have seen rumors of a Miracle Priest out there, but I didn’t see a ton of support for the cards I picked in my Great section. Then again, we’re not here to win games. We’re here to have fun and laugh at our ineptitude! Join us soon for Part 4.