Friday, November 11, 2011

Tiles Vs. Cards

Saw an awesome Geeklist on Board Game Geek today.

My brain doesn't seem to have the wiring to deal with sports discussions or celebrity gossip. But a lively discussion about cards and tiles…that is the kind of "trainwreck" I will slow down my car and even roll down the window to keep track of.

"There was a period where I actively avoided card driven games due to a fear of investing in a game that will wear out in a fraction of the time."

The OP then goes on further to say cards as a design choice inevitably "cheapens" a game.



I like tiles, and I like cards. Both of these things will, eventually, wear out under enough manipulation. I wish I had a game I played so much the cards broke. The closest game in my collection is Snap, whose pieces are in a configuration that Mr. Miller could only dream in his darkest, deepest colby-jack-and-salami fueled nightmares.

Jigsaw Puzzle!

So of course after many, many play-throughs the cardboard layers are starting to separate. You know what I am going to do after the game has lost it's playability? I'm going to buy another copy!

Expensive you might say. But really, any game holding you and your group's interest long enough to wear out its pieces probably deserves a little additional investment. How many pristine game boxes are sitting in your closet right now? How many have you played more than 2 or 3 times?

In addition, thanks to the Magic: The Gathering cultists and their card-protecting fanaticism, anyone in the world can purchase these things called sleeves. If you really need to.

I buy my zombies at Radio Shack

Saw the Graveborn deck spoiled today, and…past the 3 Animate Deads…one card jumped out of the pack for me.

Diabolic Servitude

Alternate arts will be Crosis the Purger, Animate Dead and Cabal Therapy. Meaning we'll get the above scene, unchanged, wrapped lovingly in the new Magic card borders.

Sometimes its hard to identify with the villians in today's Magic story lines. In Wizard's rush to make their art grittier and more realistic, artists often end up handing over horrific creatures who have lost all sense of humanity. It is hard for me to empathize with Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur or Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre.

But this anonymous Phyrexian minion in the art for Diabolic Servitude, more than just about any other card, espouses a belief all black mana-using mages have always held.

Sometimes, it feels good to be bad.

Sure all the "emergency" midnight appointments at the cemetery really cut into your party time. But that pile of body parts doesn't just lay around the office stinking up the place. You bring that stuff to life!

Despite Innistrad being 25% all about lightning-charged science zombies, we have to dig back to Urza Block tp see one actually controlled by a sweet thumbstick remote. Especially boss when you have to fashion your own double A's out of aether and meteoric nickel.

The guy takes pride in his work.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Advertising Advice

So, in addition to Magic and board games, I'm going to dabble in the occasional small writing critique. You can avoid them easily if so desired.

At my work email, I just got invited to some sort of web seminar, or "webinar". This happens quite frequently. The writers of these invitations think of themselves as the ultimate pitchmen, the Ron Popeil of  webinars, or "Webinpeils."

"I know your time is valuable. So I won't waste it. I'll get right to the point."

Looking here, we have found actual evidence of some sort of shadowy mirror universe lurking beneath the English language. When you start your email with the previous 3 sentences you are magically saying the exact opposite.

1) your time is not valuable.
2) I am wasting your time.
3) I'm not getting to the point any time soon.

If you are going to lie 3 times in the first 3 sentences, why should I continue to the 4th?


Over Halloween, they spoiled 5 cards from the upcoming Graveborn collector deck. Didn't find out about it until I finally got around to listening to Monday Night Magic…but here are the cards:

1) Crosis, the Purger

 Graveborn is supposed to be a reanimation deck. First turn you get something like Crosis into your graveyard. Second turn you reanimate him to the battlefield. Third turn you attack and hopefully have enough mana to activate him and make your opponent discard a large portion of his or her cards. There are quite a few better cards for reanimation. But on the other hand I really like Crosis's style. He's obviously a Highlander staple. And I don't have one yet. So this card gets a big thumbs up times three.

2) Buried Alive

I was really happy when this card was reprinted in one of the recent pre-constructed Highlander decks. Then I was sad when I ended up buying a different deck. Than I was happy again when I got a Weatherlight version of Buried Alive in the mail. Buried Alive is certainly not as powerful as 1-mana Entomb. But putting 3 creatures into your graveyard sets up a lot more shenanigans, especially in Highlander. Combined with Living Death, Buried Alive can take over the entire table in a single turn.

3) Animate Dead

Chewie on Monday Night Magic brought this to my attention. Animate Dead is going to be reprinted, and Wizards must have figured out a way to smoosh the current oracle wording onto a physical card. Making me very happy, because this is the classic reanimator tool. I remember using this to reanimate Lord of the Pit

Now about the oracle wording. This used to be an "enchant dead creature" card. Then it used to be a straight enchantment that changed to an enchant creature once it entered the battlefield. It's gone through lots of revisions. Here's a quick parlor trick: If you take a drink every time you read the word "enchant" "creature" and "battlefield," you never actually finish reading the card.

"When Animate Dead enters the battlefield, if it's on the battlefield, it loses "enchant creature card in a graveyard" and gains "enchant creature put onto the battlefield with Animate Dead." Return enchanted creature card to the battlefield under your control and attach Animate Dead to it. When Animate Dead leaves the battlefield, that creature's controller sacrifices it."

4) Entomb

This is a huge money card, since one mana is about as efficient as you can get. Also an instant, so you can search during your opponent's turn. And…I just noticed this…you can bury any card, not just creatures. Making this a one mana tutor for spells with flashback.

5) Avatar of Woe

I am familiar with this card for one reason. It's a pillar of my friend Greg's hellish Emperor deck. Combining counterspells, bounce, damnation, pestilence and this to create an unstoppable terror machine until you give up in frustration. The amazing and degenerate thing about multiplayer is it ensures cards like Avatar of Woe will basically always be cast for 2 lousy black mana. Really. But hey, if you cant beat 'em, join 'em. I'm sure Avatar will be just as good in Highlander.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Stealth Spam

Here's how it went:

"Thank you for your wonderful blog."

Not very promising…and very suspicious.

"I spent an hour on your blog, reading your posts with pleasure…"

Highly suspicious!

"I really like the Picture of the Day: Jabba the Hutt"


Photon Torpedos…Away!

"I really love my job! We have a friendly team and good management. But unfortunately I have no idea how to convince a blogger to link to us, I'm afraid I might lose my job because of it. :("

It is with some pride that I look back on my blog and realize I've been operating long enough to establish a parasitic presence on at least a few people's RSS feeds…and also have begun to attract some of the higher quality spam lurking out there. Probably the most well written I've ever seen.

Anyway, more high-flying content to come!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Maybe They've Run Out of Things to Do with One Sided Cards?

I've recently caught a bug for the long-running podcast "The Dice Tower" and will gain no relief until each episode is listened to. Main contibutor Tom Vassel is tireless in his reviews of board and card games, examining (and even playing) more titles than I would have imagined humanly possible. And he has about 10 kids, too. I have 2 and that seems to absorb a pretty decent sized chunk of time.

Episode #225 gives a good example of the standard podcasts, reviews of games they've recently played contrasted with news of upcoming releases. And boy are there a lot of releases! Perhaps confining one's interests to a single collectible card game makes more sense after all.

Dice Tower #225 - Profound Influences

Interesting for Magic players, this episode provides a bit of an "outsider's perspective" on Innistrad's double-sided card mechanic/design feature. Tom stresses that he is a casual Magic player, but he does enjoy the game greatly. The choice to start messing around with the backs of cards is really a mystifying design decision.

I've never been a huge fan of "Party Games" but the next party I'm at, I want the traditional role of "The Great Dalmuti" replaced by "Hart an der Grenze," the electrifying game of customs enforcement. Trying to smuggle contraband through airports, combined with a working "bribe" mechanic sounds like the cat's pajamas especially with everyone acting the roles out.

Talk of Hart an der Grenze can be found at 38:00
Talk of the Innistrad expansion can be found at 42:40

After I'm all done with the audio podcast stream, there is a completely independent video podcast. He must seriously never sleep.