Category Archives: Uncategorized

Morte’s Planar Parade: Planescape

Introduction

I explained in the previous article why I defaulted to the reviews of the Planescape books instead of regaling you with mine and Quinn’s adventures aboard a haunted pirate ship. Relax. I promise that those adventures are coming. I promise. For now, let’s take a look at Morte’s Planar Parade.

The book, like the other three book collections in 5e, follows the tradition as a monster manual for the planes. In the introduction, it talks about magic and what happens when the some dies on one of the many planes. It then gives a description of how the planes affect the beings that live there. Finally, it shows some tables of different possibilities for encounters on the planes.

Your Humble Host

The conceit of this one is that the being that put together the bestiary is the handsome fella up there. Names “Morte”. He claims to be a Mimir, which is a magical construct that contains information about the planes that they tell to adventurers lucky enough to come across one.Morte, apparently, specializes in planar beasts. Or, so he says. I leave it up to you to judge for yourself if he is actually what he says he is.

The Bestiary

It lists 55 different beasts that can be found on the many planes. Since they gave the rule (you know how much I love this one) in the first book that basically, in the multiverse, “there are no rules” then 55 seems like a shockingly small number. Then again, I come from a time in the game where the monster manual introduced hundreds of new characters with each setting. But, I understand that publishing costs (like everything else) rose over the last 30 years and they give us what they can. For what’s included in the book, I like most of the monsters and can fill in the blanks.

The Verdict

Morte’s Planar Parade delivers on the promise of adding new monsters to the game. I also laughed more than once at the ridiculous commentary by Morte. He wasn’t as funny as Fizban. Then again, I have more history with Fizban. Perhaps old Morte will grow on me over the years.

Independent Comics I Love May 2023

Introduction

First, a few disclaimers for any new readers to the page. I ordered these comics in February, they got delivered the last week of May, and I wrote these articles into the first week in June. That is the process behind how I arrived at Independent Comics I Love May 2023. Secondly, the only non Marvel or DC comic I received this month was Spawn. So, I’m taking a look back at the TMNT Armageddon Game story finally to fill some space on the page.

In my previous article to return to the world of comic reviews, I wrote about Spawn, a silly Ric Flair one shot I ordered, and the most recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles issue. I wrote there that I needed to take some time to read through the story and give my thoughts. Well, somehow (Chris and I call it “just DCBS things”) I missed a few issues of the event and just ordered them on Midtown. Being Memorial Day weekend, I don’t expect them to fill the order until at least Tuesday. But, I wanted to give you something besides Spawn this month, so here goes.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Armageddon Game

Decent: It’s a talkie. While you don’t get the walls of text that Uncle Todd throws at us sometimes, there is a significant amount of dialogue and exposition. I read comics for the story, But, I don’t mind all the white bubbles. Also, the story makes you do your homework.I don’t know if it is exclusively because this is an introductory event or if they usually have the “* – check issue x for the story” in each issue. I just said to my wife, “This story is so good. Bummed that I haven’t kept up with the series the whole time.”

Good: After talking all kinds of shit about not being susceptible to nostalgia, I keep talking in all of these articles about how nostalgia grabs me every single time. The turtles are no different. Even though the lore is different and the tone is darker, I still recognized all of the characters in the books and it took me back to my time as a teenager myself watching them on Saturday morning. I mentioned previously that this is an introductory event. I know this because they do an incredible job of catching everyone up in the prologue series and filling in the gaps along the way.

Great: The story makes the wordiness of the book bearable for me. I breeze through each issue, devouring every single word before immediately moving on to the next issue. The story is well crafted and fast paced. They also potentially bit off more than they can chew with all of the moving pieces. However, I have the utmost confidence that they care enough about the characters to pull it all off. My other great follows from my minor critique above. I love getting lost in a lore rabbit hole, so I don’t mind a little homework to get caught up.

Spawn 341

Now that I already read one book in this series, I found this one much easier to follow. I still am not a fan of the heaven vs. hell angle of the Spawn mythos, but I like the character, so I’ll stick with it until they move on to something else, hopefully soon. I know it sounds weird to say that I don’t like the major storyline in the books. But, I prefer the earlier stories when Spawn worked as a hero and took care of more earthly matters. I know they’ll circle back around there eventually. I can be patient.

The Verdict

The actual independent comics I love May 2023 are only one book, Spawn. But, I also read the Armageddon Game issues I own for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I promise to finish the series for next month and write another review then.

Credits

Spawn 341: Rory McConville and Todd McFarlane, Writers and Carlo Barberi, Art

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (The Armageddon Game): Tom Waltz, Sophie Campbell, Erik Burnham, Paul Allor as writers and Fero Peniche, Pablo Tunica, Vincenzo Federici, Roi Mercado, Pablo Verdugo. Kevin Eastman, co-creator.

Thankful for Nintendo and D&D Club

Introduction

As you can see, I themed the page for the Christmas holiday season. Right now, I plan to use this for December and January, but I might change my mind when Christmas is over as this is a very December focused theme right now. Eventually, I want to have a rotating theme for each month, so what better month to start with than January? Okay, with all of that being said, I also wanted to write one last thankful post for Nintendo and D&D Club.

I gave my notice the week of Thanksgiving at my current job. I start my new job next week. So, this is my last week in charge of the two clubs. Now is as good a time to look back, think about the positives from the clubs, and express thanks for the opportunities they provided. If this entry becomes too personal, I apologize. It’s been about a month since I wrote in any of my journals.

Thankful for Nintendo Club

This year, I started with several stipend positions already.. I continued running Dungeons and Dragons club for the high school and picked up the middle school club, too. I became a LINK leader. LINK is a nationwide club for high school seniors to essentially “adopt” high school freshmen and help them in the transition from middle school to high school. Later, I became STEM team leader (mostly by default) and was supposed to run an eSports team. That never materialized due to time constraints.

The point of all that is wrapped in the first sentence of the paragraph. I already picked up more than my share of extra work. So, when one of the students came to me with the question, “Mr. Lucas, will you do Nintendo Club?”, I went to the school activities director and asked, “Does nobody else work here?” Then, of course, because I’ve only recently started to consider my own physical and mental health above that of others, I said, “Yes.”

Like most extracurricular clubs, this one started out chaotic. Eventually, we settled into a regular group and set some boundaries for everyone to follow. Two groups asked to use my projector in the room, which then became strictly a Smash Bros. station. I enjoy the interaction between all of the students, even when they require intervention because start to get out of hand. Tough they asked me once or twice to play Smash Bros., I never played any of the games with the kids. I gave them my standard answer of, “I’m trash at that game.”

Given more time at the job, I planned several improvements to both my classes and the clubs. One thing I wanted was to purchase large screen monitors for the students to use in the club. Alas, an abrupt end always brings some measure of regret.

Thankful for D&D Club

I took over the high school D&D club two years ago in the aftermath of Covid. The faithful group of 4-6 met on a weekly basis with others popping in every now and then. I always laughed during their sessions, which became ever more absurd as time went on. It reminded me of the times in high school when my friends and I gathered in my friend Kenny’s or Damian’s basement and played ourselves.

The group grew after the immediate dangers of Covid faded. Last year, they increased to a regular group of about 8 with as many as twelve dropping in some weeks. Then, I took over for the middle school club and things exploded. I can’t take all of the credit for it. Stranger Things definitely increased interest in the game.

And, now, this is one of only two sets I can’t afford to buy because it is a collector’s item. Oh well, I found the PDF online.

At any given time this year, there can be as many as five different groups running an adventure. I stepped in a couple of times to run a group for Curse of Strahd and then again this past week started a Dungeon of the Mad Mage adventure for a couple of kids who couldn’t find their way into one of the other groups.

The Verdict

While they took free time away, I am absolutely thankful for Nintendo and D&D club. Nintendo brought me joy and got me looking for my copy of Hades (I can’t find it and will end up ordering it again, I’m sure) and bringing home a Switch for the family to play. Dungeons and Dragons brought me fun and joy in the form of a game that I enjoyed as a kid. I will miss them both, but maybe I can get involved at my new school.

Thankful for Thanksgiving 2022

Introduction

Fear not, faithful reader. This week neither represents a rapid and sudden disinterest in the page nor one of our patented extended absences. I simply had no time this week to post the updates I wanted to post. In the past, I have used my time more wisely by scheduling updates in advance. Not even that happened recently. In a year that I thought we might begin to at least approach some sense of normalcy after Covid, it brought anything but that normalcy. And so, right now, I’m thankful for Thanksgiving 2022 coming up next week.

So Freaking Busy (C’Mon Thanksgiving 2022 Break)

I thought Monday might be a more relaxed day because of no after school meetings. I don’t remember why, but it ended up being just as busy as every other day and I made chicken patties for dinner instead of what I planned. I just remembered that Quinn was supposed to have swim that day, but he didn’t. That’s how crazy things are right now. I went to grab pellets and in the short walk to the back room where we store them, I completely forgot where I was going and why. I went into the pantry completely confused.

I think I came home on Monday and took a long nap because I’ve been feeling under the weather for the last week or so. Staff meeting Tuesday and still feeling sick. Then Nintendo club and Christine and I went for a wine tasting date on Wednesday after she attended Quinn’s parent-teacher conference. Dungeons and Dragons went a little bit over yesterday.

Wouldn’t Trade It For Anything

I rushed home to bring Aiden to try out for a travel soccer team. He took last year off after the chaos of switching schools and Covid. Then, he told us at the beginning of this year that he wanted to play again. We supported him, of course, because he always enjoyed the sport. He only played JV this year as a sophomore and swinger in a couple of games. However, it gave him enough joy and confidence (along with a conversation with a favorite teacher) to inspire him to try to get better and go to college to play, too.

Eventually, he started talking about professional soccer as a career path. Now for the cliche…being a parent is quite difficult sometimes. We tried, as all parents do, to support his dream while still trying to temper expectations. Based on his reactions, we felt (as I’m sure many parents do) that we failed miserably in both departments.

I know all too well the realities of shattered high school dreams. I legitimately thought that I would make a living writing and eventually become the “next Stephen King.”

But, we gave him this opportunity to work on his skills and face some tougher competition with this travel team. He played soccer, on a freezing night, for an hour and half. Well, he actually only ended up playing for maybe a half an hour. As he said when we pulled in, “There are a lot of people here.” From what he told me, he did okay and got to talk to one of the coaches. If he doesn’t make it this year, he’s actually in the youngest group of his league, so there’s two more years to practice and try again.

The Verdict

Linking that old article up above to improve my “SEO Score” reminded me of some of the other traditions that we wrote on the page in the past. Even though nobody reads this, I like having it around. It represents anther type of journal in addition to the other two that I keep. Thanks for anyone who does stop to read and probably more than any other recent year, I’m absolutely thankful for Thanksgiving 2022.

2022-2023 AFC Preview (Completely Ignorant Edition)

Introduction

Hey, guys. So, uh, what’s up? I know what you’re thinking. You walk out of our lives for 4 months and then just come back with a, “Hey, guys. So, uh, what’s up?” and expect us to put everything behind and read your 2022-2023 AFC Preview? What’s next? Your 2022-2023 NFC Preview. Well, forget it. It will take more than that to get us back in your good graces.

I get it. Plus, this latest comeback confuses you even more. The four months I disappeared are summer. Those are usually the months that I promise you that I will build momentum and keep the page alive through the beginning of the school year. And, yet, complete radio silence there and the return post during the insanity of the beginning of the school year.

Who knows? Maybe this Uno Reverse card of a relaunch (actual relaunch still pending) will be just the push I need to make this stupid page actually happen after all these years. It remains to be seen. For now, enjoy the 2022-2023 AFC Preview!

The Madness in my Method

I searched for an “NFL Schedule Simulator” and clicked on the first link that Google returned. I then used that app to try to figure out the result of each game. At first, I only picked the winner and loser. I, then, in the interest of journalistic integrity, inputted a score for each game. I wanted to be as accurate as possible if the page took into account scores for tiebreakers. It didn’t, but those are the lengths I’m willing to go in order to bring quality content to this page.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills ( 15-2): We write and read this already armed with the knowledge that the Bills absolutely demolished the Super Bowl champions in the Thursday season opener. Even so, I like this Bills team a lot. I started to jump on the bandwagon a couple of years ago and that playoff game last year against the Chiefs cemented my man crush.

New England Patriots (7-9-1): I picked the Steelers/Patriots game early in the season as a tie. I think the Steelers tied one game twice in the last five seasons. I think last year or the year before, they came within seconds of getting a second tie. I figured an early season game against the Pats offered the best chance for this year. Oh, you thought I would actually analyze this dumpster fire of a team? I’m just enjoying the slow decline of both Brady and the Pats.

Miami Dolphins (6-11): This one hurts. I like Tua. He won my heart when he came into relief in that National Championship game and threw that touchdown in overtime. Hell, my love for Tua extended out to become a fan of Alabama. That goes against everything I stand for as a fan. So, to watch him struggle so much in the NFL hurts. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t see things ending well for him.

New York Jets (0-17): Goodness. I couldn’t find a single win for the Jets on their schedule? I even got to the point where I just made every terrible team vs. terrible team match up 17-14 and I didn’t even give them 17 in any of those games? Well, enjoy the undisputed first pick in the draft, Jets fans. Can’t wait to see who you boo next year before they’ve even played a down.

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs (15-2): For the first half of the season, I picked the Chiefs to go undefeated. Not until their first game against the Chargers did I pick them to lose. That put the Chargers in first for much of the second half of the season until the Chiefs beat them in the second game. If all of that actually happens, it will be fun as hell to watch.

Los Angeles Chargers (15-2): Hey, I actually called them the LA Chargers the first time. Obviously, you can’t know if that’s true or not, but I don’t lie often and when I do, I admit it. It absolutely tickles me that Herbert and Mahomes set us up for a decade of amazing quarterback play in this division. Along with Allen and hopefully Pickett (I know, I know), the NFL is in good hands.

Las Vegas Raiders (8-9): Wow, I must be getting the hang of this NFL thing. I put the Chargers in LA and the Raiders in Las Vegas. Pretty damn amazing if I say so myself. Can you tell I’m stalling because I can’t figure out what to say about the Raiders? No, well, look over there!

Denver Broncos (5-12): “Quarter Billion Dollar Man”, Russell Wilson and I have the Broncos in last place in the division. I might be very wrong about this. Even Simmons and Sal showed some faith in the Broncos. If I am still active on this page in February, let’s revisit this pick at least.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens (15-2): Now that I look at this one, I may just have lost my mind. Sure, the Ravens find ways to win games every year, but 15-2? I need to go lie down.

Cincinnati Bengals (13-4): The Ravens 2 games better than the Bengals? On par with LA, KC, and Buffalo? I promise to still be active in February to come back and revisit this article. Cincinnati may have gotten lucky last year to make it to the Super Bowl, but they are good on both sides of the ball.

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8-1): Chris and I talked a bit about the Steelers last week at the Red Sox game for his bachelor party. He mentioned something about Trubisky being the starter. Honestly, this year, that’s the right call. As it often is, our offensive line is abysmal and I don’t want them killing poor Kenny Pickett before he even gets a chance.

Cleveland Browns (4-13): I admit over the last two seasons to growing fond of the Browns. As a Steelers fan, I swore a blood oath in the womb to hate them, but I like Baker. Well, the blood oath is back on. They did Baker dirty and then signed “alleged” sexual assaulter Deshaun Watson.

AFC South

Indianapolis Colts (10-7): When I started the article, I was going to write something about the standings being top heavy. Granted, only the South serves as a counter example, but it only takes one to make the statement false. I advocate for sending this entire division to Europe and this year is no different.

Tennessee Titans (7-10): The Titans had the best record in the (National Football) league last year. There is bound to be a fall off, but it probably won’t be as drastic as this. Nevertheless, I only found 7 wins for the Titans this year.

Houston Texans (5-12) and Jacksonville Jaguars (3-14): I just can’t do this anymore. These two teams broke me. Time to wrap this article up.

The Verdict on 2022-2023 AFC Preview

Thanks for reading my 2022-2023 AFC Preview article. As of right now, I have no plans for keeping the page alive other than occasional NFL content, but I will take some time over the next couple of days to come up with some ideas.

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!).

Dungeons and Dinosaurs: Gaming with Quinn

Only half of that title is correct. When playing, we definitely encountered dinosaurs (more on that later), we found no dungeons. I just found the term Dungeons and Dinosaurs funny. Probably funnier than it actually merits, but it’s my party and I’ll laugh hysterically if I want to.

Even if that laughter makes me look absolutely batty. Get it? Batty? Because Joker is a Batman villain. I’m an underappreciated comic genius.

Those who follow the page know that I treid to build the family into a Dungeons and Dragons playgroup. That failed in spite of my efforts. Only Quinn showed interest after the initial play session. It then took almost 3 years to realize the potential of our Dungeons and Dragons duet.

Dungeons and Dinosaurs Duet?

Assuming that you wait to click the link, let me explain. Late last year, I finally started to look for ways to play Dungeons and Dragons in smaller play groups. The above link came up as a way play with only two people. A husband and wife duo write the page and there are lots of great resources if you find yourself in need of playing D&D with only one other player.

Armed with these resources, I needed to find a setting for our adventure. I’m not sure what took me so long, but I finally came to the conclusion in a flash of inspiration. Jurassic Park. The movie blew me away when I first saw it in high school. Quinn loves dinosaurs and anything to do with the movies. What took me so long?

It was right there, staring me in the face.

And, Now for Something Completely Different

Not truly. I lifted heavily from Jurassic Park for the story of our adventure. Several times, during gameplay, Quinn said (completely thrilled), “This is just like Jurassic Park!” However, I also knew not to simply follow the story without any changes.

Okay, so maybe a tropical archipelago isn’t the best way to convince you this wasn’t a total Jurassic Park rip off.

I researched some Hawai’ian lore to add a bit of a different flavor to the campaign. I called the island with the dinosaurs, Nalala. A web site told me that Nalala meant dinosaur. I also called the prince in the story, Maneo (I borrowed from a former student for this) and a ghost pirate ship Mau Loa (“forever”) that lead to the second adventure that I’m in the process of writing.

We played through the adventure. As often happens, Quinn went off script during one of the encounters and I needed to quickly put together a battle and some loot. Honestly, though, that’s what I enjoy about D&D. The fact that you can spend a couple of weeks writing up an adventure (“All that time”, my wife said, “just for a couple hours of playtime.”) and the players still find a way to make you think and work on the spot.

Lights, Camera, Tape Rolling, 3…2…1…

As for the scripted adventure, I wrote in the notes to let Quinn take the lead when attempting to capture the dinosaurs. I wanted to let him use his expertise to find creative ways to capture them. Being low level characters, I knew we stood no chance actually fighting most of the dinosaurs. He came up with some interesting solutions to most of them. A couple, I had to bend the rules quite a bit. Then again, what else can you do when you only have one real player?

I took the advice of the Duets page and focused on the story, too. I made the trip to the ship take 3 days and then another 2 days on the water to get to the other island. I built in small encounters each day and even put together a random encounter table to keep things interesting. The fun part of that is that some of the encounters gave me ideas for future adventures. I already mentioned the ghost ship and Quinn going off the board when faced with some forest sprites in trouble. I also threw in the old D&D standards of a mysterious glow off in the distance, annoying begging monkeys, and magical leeches.

Dungeons and Dinosaurs: The Last Word?

All in all, we played a successful adventure with just the two of us. Once or twice, Quinn asked if you can’t play with two people because I put together two DMPCs to help him on his journey. No, I replied, it’s fine. These guys are just here in case you need some help. Then, I spent the rest of the time more or less staying out of his way.

We planned to play again this week because I’m on vacation. However, as I mentioned earlier, I wasn’t able to finish the next adventure. I’m pretty close, so we might play again over the weekend. For now, we tried a game that I got a few months ago after supporting it on Kickstarter. It’s called Roll Player Adventures and I will talk more about it Friday.

Best of the AFC 2020 Midseason

Introduction

I realize it isn’t exactly the AFC 2020 midseason. Some teams, including the Colts and Titans after last night, have played 9 games. However, the team of my childhood (and the surprising favorite team of a colleague I recently learned) the Steelers, have only played 8. While I take no joy necessarily in the fact that they’re undefeated, they are. We should show deference to that perfection.

Tried to find a humorous image using the search term “imperfectly perfect” and it was just a bunch of motivational crap. Nobody has time for that.

And, so that is how we have arrived at the “midseason” report for the AFC this year. For the quarter report, we did “awards”. This time around, because we like to focus on the positive, I’m going to do the best of the first half of the year for each team. I thought about doing best and worse, but (a) that’s twice as much work and (b) focus on the positive! So, let’s discuss the best of the AFC 2020 Midseason.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills (7-2): The best thing to happen to the Bills this year has got to be that Josh Allen finally seems to be rounding into form as a decent to good quarterback. He’s still not a top tier quarterback even though I might have him in my top 10 at this point. That’s actually an intriguing couple of questions. Maybe I’ll answer them before the end of the year.

Miami Dolphins (5-3): Anyone who has followed this page for any period of time knows exactly what I’m going to say here. Granted, it has only been two games and he wasn’t great in one of them, but Tua Tagovaiola has been my man crush since his first appearance at Alabama.

New England Patriots (3-5): I guess in a year where everything seems to be going sideways for the Pats, the best thing for them is that they aren’t “Eff the Pats” this year. I’m sure they appreciate it. The thing is, I don’t hate Brady without the Pats and I feel sorry for the Pats without Brady. It was just an unholy alliance I couldn’t allow to exist.

New York Jets (0-9): I mean, what can I say about the Jets? At least they have an inside track at Trevor Lawrence. Though, what does that mean now that the guy has had Covid-19? We’ve seen that might have lingering effects. I suppose that it is fitting that I’m having trouble spinning an 0-9 record into a positive.

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs (8-1): You might expect me to say Mahomes here. And, with reason because I considered it. After all, last year he became my main NFL man crush. But, the fact of the matter is…well, the fact of the matter is that I’m saying Mahomes is the best thing that has happened to the Chiefs this year and maybe ever.

Las Vegas Raiders (5-3): I didn’t want the Raiders to move. The Raiders are, and always will be, from Oakland. However, I’d be lying if I said anything other than “Vegas Baby!” when discussing the best for this team. It’s just perfect that there are now two teams in the gambling capital of America. It really puts a dent in the whole sports is about comradery and competition.

Denver Broncos (3-5): Denver is rapidly approaching the territory that Seattle occupied briefly a few years ago. If someone doesn’t remind me periodically of their existence, I forget. I guess the best thing I can say about them is that at least they have this year to avoid being the fourth place team in the division. Because, next year, Herbert is going to blow up and propel San Diego ahead of them.

San Diego (I know, LA, but eff that) Chargers (2-6): The Chargers don’t deserve Justin Herbert. But, they have him. And, like Mahomes, he’s the best thing to happen to this team in a long time. Sure, they had Phillip Rivers, but honestly, what kind of a life is that for a football team?

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-0): They are my childhood team. That’s a tough habit to break. However, I drift farther and farther away every year from this team. Perhaps that’s the best thing to happen to them as they are 8-0 this year. I refuse to admit their rapey helmetless motorcycle riding QB is great. Their receiving corps thogh.

Baltimore Ravens (6-2): The best thing for this team is that they aren’t the Browns anymore. Can you imagine? Having Baker Mayfield as QB instead of Lamar Jackson? Think about it. Just for a minute, Ravens fans, and tell me I’m wrong.

Cleveland Browns (5-3): I used to like Baker. I rooted for the Browns and tried to use the 538 playoff predictor to get them into the playoffs a couple of years ago. I might still like Baker. But, he’s not the best thing on the Browns this year. Then again, he just might be. I can’t think of anything better. How sad is that?

Cincinatti Bengals (2-5-1): I’d be insane to say anything other than Joe “Mothereffing” Burrow. The kid has lived up to the hype as the number one pick. Sure, the Bengals are in last place in the division and they have two games left against the Steelers and one against the Ravens. They can hang their hat on Burrow being legit and next year being better.

AFC South

Indianapolis Colts (6-3): I guess the best thing about the Colts is that they’re tied for first in the division in spite of being in salcap hell because of Andrew Luck’s decision to retire at the beginning of last season. By the way, I still support it 100%. Some things (meaning pretty much anything) are more important than football.

Tennessee Titans (6-3): Having trouble coming up with a best for the Titans. Until the Steelers beat them a few weeks ago, they were also undefeated. Since then, they’ve lost 3 out of 4 including one to the aforementioned Colts. I guess Derrick Henry is a beast.

Houston Texans (2-7): The best thing for the Texans is that they’ve gone back to their annual status of most disappointing team in the AFC. I mean, that’s not really a best, but it is a superlative. Great job, Texans!

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-7): Sure the Jets are winless, but I’m not entirely sure where I was going with that. The fact of the matter is that it is best for both of these teams that American sports don’t have European soccer style relegation.

The Verdict

I’m actually more interested in the conference now that we’ve reached the AFC 2020 midseason. The Chiefs no longer look to be the world beaters. The Steelers are surprisingly playing an effective heel as the only undefeated team. Tua! is winning hearts across Florida. Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow round out the great young QBs in the league. I keep saying to Chris that we seem to be going through another golden age for QBs and I’m here for it.

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!).

Zendikar Rising Notable cards: Miscellany

Introduction

Time for Zendikar Rising notable cards Miscellany. This most recent set of articles has taken significantly longer than anticipated. Maybe not longer than expected, but certainly longer than anticipated. Yes, dear friends, we are well into that annual tradition of back to school. When time is at a premium and that premium time ends up being time spent on the couch watching “Cobra Kai” or “Community”.

I end up striking last, a bit on the soft side, and show too much mercy. Still, for some reason, I relate to Johnny.

Yes, you could argue that if I cared so much about this web page and the content, I would make time while sitting on the couch. And, you’re right, to an extent. I do care about the web page and the content. I wouldn’t continue to pay 12 dollars a month to keep the domain if I didn’t. However, as this is currently just a hobby, well, it just is what it is. And, yes, with an attitude like that, it will most likely remain just a hobby. I’m comfortable with that. Let’s talk Zendikar Rising notable cards miscellany.

Multicolored (Nahiri and Omnath, et cetera, oh my!)

Honorable Mention (Nahiri, Heir of the Ancients): At the beginning of spoiler season, after I was done making a fool of myself by saying that the new Jace is broken af in Legacy and possibly Vintage, I texted Chris about this card. Fear not True Believers, I was not silly enough to call this one broken (or even overpowered) in any format. I simply said, “The new Nahiri looks fun, too.” And, that’s what these articles are all about.

Honorable Mention (Kargan Warleader): I often mention that, while I’ve never played Commander, I look at the game through a Commander lens. I have played a few games of Tiny Leaders against Chris, though, and I enjoy the concept thoroughly. One of my first TL decks was an Alesha, Who Laughs at Death warrior deck. This card would fit nicely there.

Omnath, Locus of Creation">Omnath, Locus of Creation: I don’t usually include actual broken cards in these articles. You can read previous ones to understand why. However, when it feels like WotC is just pushing the power level of Standard to new and ridiculous heights, I am 100% here for it. I watch Legacy and Vintage primarily to watch stupidly broken cards and combos. The difference between them and Standard is that I might actually get to play these stupidly broken cards thanks to MTGA.

Verazol, the Split Current">Verazol, the Split Current: Remember earlier when I said that I fancied myself a Commander player even though I’ve never played a single game of Commander? Well, this card is right up that alley. Technically, it could be a Tiny Leader, too. However, I really want to have the 99 card deck to see if I could truly do some stupid stuff with this card.

Colorless (A One Beast Party and Stupid Fun)

Honorable Mention Stonework Packbeast: I’m not entirely sure why, but as soon as I saw this jank, I knew that I had to include it in this article. I mean, it’s jank. It incorporates one of my favorite new mechanics in the set. Let’s go.

Lithoform Engine">Lithoform Engine: I texted Chris when I first saw this card, “Lithoform Engine is a potentially fun card. Bad, but fun.” He agreed. Well, if we’ve learned anything, that’s right up my alley. Can’t wait to play this dumb, bad, but potentially fun card.

The Verdict (Zendikar Rising Notable Cards Miscellany are just that)

There are some fun cards in this article. A few of the cards might even be competitive. Heck, there’s even a broken card that has caused one banning in standard. Similar to the rest of the set, it just depends on what you’re looking for. I know some people are crapping on this current era in MTG history, but I think they truly are threading the needle as well as can be expected. Sure, the competitive scene might not be as healthy as the past, but honestly, it’s kind of silly that they have a competitive scene for a children’s card game.

Minecraft Builders and Biomes

Introduction

Thank goodness for Minecraft: Builders and Biomes. I’ve been searching for a Minecraft tabletop roleplaying game for some time now. I found one a few years ago, but never got around to playing it because it seemed virtually unplayable when I looked through the booklet. And, so, the search continued

Why a Minecraft roleplaying game? Well, as you may have noticed if you are a regular reader of the page, I generally like to have a digital game and a tabletop game to review for each weekly theme. It goes back to the long defunct podcast which had a “Digital Playground” segment and a “On the Tabletop” segment.

Old habits and John McClain

I have been able to find other tabletop games for the other games that I’ve covered recently. Most notably, I was very impressed by the fan made Pokemon RPG that I looked at a few weeks ago. Also, WotC has done a good job with the MTG/D&D crossovers. But, Minecraft eluded me. Sure, the card game exists, but I think I’ve already covered that. If not, well, I guess I have something for a couple of weeks when I take a look at the Minecraft Dungeons update.

The Great

It’s Minecraft! – Well, not exactly. However, I couldn’t let one of these articles go by without going to my, well, go to, could I? And, with that being said, the game is as close to Minecraft as I imagine a Minecraft board game possibly could. As we were playing, I kept thinking to myself, “What are the core principles of Minecraft?” Mining, building, exploring. This game actually captures all three very nicely. Just thinking about it now has me excited and wanting to play again.

Homer knows what’s up.

Fun – Isn’t this the reason that we play games in the first place? I honestly can’t think of another reason that makes sense. And, I can confirm that Minecraft Builders and Biomes was fun. Towards the end of the game, Quinn kept delaying the end through strategy. How, you ask? Well, without giving away too much, the end of the game is predetermined by the rules and one of the strategies is to extend the game in order to get more points. Also, at the end of the game, we both said how much we wanted to play it again.

The Good

Easy Set Up – The instructions are only 4 pages. That is including diagrams. We were up and playing within 10 minutes. It cannot be stressed how much I like a game that has an easy set up.

Quick Games – The games are quick, too. Once we were set up, we were finished with the game in a little less than an hour. The box says 30-60 minutes for a game, so that sounds like we had an average game. While I don’t care as much about the game going quickly, it was nice for last night since it was almost bedtime for Quinn.

The Decent

No Main Board – I would have preferred if they included a main game board for set up. As you play the game, it gets degraded and you may not always know whether you are moving too many steps in a turn. That’s a minor squabble though and one that I could easily remedy by making my own.

Do I have to mine anything? Or, can I just craft it?

Maybe Too Quick – Again, I don’t care too much about the actual length of a game. Sometimes you want a sprint and sometimes you want a marathon. However, I did say earlier that Quinn was trying to extend the game. That might have been because he was delaying bedtime, but I think it was because he was having fun. I even found myself doing the same because I was enjoying the game so much.

The Verdict

If you’re looking for a fun and quick version of Minecraft away from technology, you definitely want to check out Minecraft Builders and Biomes. The game is fun. It feels like playing Minecraft. I would like to see how well it scales to more players, but that will come with time. See you in the Overworld!

Completely Ignorant 2019 NFL DivIsional Round Preview

Introduction

Well, Coin Flip Weekend lived up to its nickname. Now we are on to the 2019 NFL Divisional Round. All 3 games were decided by one score. The only home team to win was Houston and they needed a near miracle 4th quarter comeback to do it. I ended up going 1-3 in my picks, which is the worst outcome.

2-2 let’s me brag that at least I was .500 and could have won money. 3-1 means that I was only one game off from perfect. 4-0 keeps that dream alive. Hell, even 0-4 is cool because then I could shoot for the winless streak. But, 1-3 just means that I was bad. Or, the weekend was really weird. Probably a little bit of both. Okay, let’s make some more terrible picks.

Saturday Games

Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers – Chris offered me the option of the Seahawks or the 49ers a few weeks ago as the NFC representative in the NFC. I’m more or less 100% convinced that nobody is beating Baltimore in the AFC. I picked Seattle at the time because they were “the more complete team. San Fran has a good defense, but I wonder about Jimmy G”. Honestly, that hasn’t changed except Seattle has so many injuries that they’re no longer as complete. Regarding this game, I thought that New Orleans was going to destroy Minnesota. I should have done a bit more research at the Saints tortured playoffs past. I again have that feeling this week about the 49ers. The only thing that gives me pause is Jimmy G’s inexperience. If he holds up, 49ers roll.

Tennessee Titans at Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens have been the best team in the NFL, by far, since they lost to the Browns early in the season. Lamar Jackson is the run away MVP. I think their running back (who’s name escapes me and I’m too lazy to Google right now. Yes, I understand that I could have Googled it in the time it took me to type this, but that means switching tabs. Don’t judge me.) may come back this week. Tennessee knocked off the Pats, but that was their last hurrah. This game will be over shortly after halftime.

Sunday Games

Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs – This is another game that I can see being an absolute blowout. The Texans ruined my Bills dream this year, but that’s okay. The Bills will hopefully be back next year and the Pats, unless they make some great moves, will most likely take another step backwards. There are some arguments against a blowout. Andy Reid (though this isn’t the Championship yet), Watson can get hot, and the Chiefs defense is still suspect at best. Still, I think they get it done and give everyone the LJ/Mahomes matchup they want.

Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers – This is the only game that I don’t foresee a blowout. Both of these teams are pretty evenly matched. I did pick Seattle, as mentioned above, but I’m lukewarm on that pick. Maybe this is finally the game that the injury riddled Seahawks lose. I guess I’ll pick the Seahawks, still, as the lone “upset” road win for this week to stick to my guns.

The Verdict

The 2019 NFL Divisional round is a decent group of games. Three of them are going to most likely end in a blowout. The fourth very well could do the same. If I remember correctly, that’s sort of how the playoffs go lately. The first round is a coin flip. The second round is home field with several blow outs and the championship round and Super Bowl are decent games.

Well, if all goes according to plan this week, next week looks great. KC/Baltimore and Seattle/San Fran will be great games. They will also keep my Super Bowl pick alive. Alas, I put no money on that, so again, I’m left looking like a chump. Oh well, see you next week for the Conference Championships.

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!).