Tuesday, July 21, 2015

[JT] MTG Adversity


So, after a whole FREAKING YEAR (O_o)  I'm back.  No seriously, today marks exactly 1 year since the last post was put up on here, and it wasn't even mine.  How lame is that? Did you miss me?  You missed me, didn't you?  No?  Oh... well... ok then...  *shuffles off*

:P  Seriously though, a lot has been going on these past two years, and you can expect an update on ALL that later, but today I'm here to talk about something that has caught my interest lately: Diversity and adversity in the realm of Magic: the Gathering.  

Since this topic might bring in more than just M:tG players (Welcome, by the way!), I feel I should explain a few things.  If you do not know, Magic is a strategy card game where you build a deck of cards, shuffle them together and draw cards from the now-randomized deck to play against an opponent.  You have to manage your resources that you draw from the deck to best your opponent, who is trying to do the same against you.

Now, this post might seem cliched at this point with all the "recent" (meaning "since the last time I posted") discussion on the topics, and while I have my own opinions on those debates, they are rather large subjects.  Today, I want to focus on something a little smaller and more easily managed.  What I want to know is when you are playing against someone with something that impedes their ability to play in the way we perceive as normal, how do you handle the situation?  
"Ghostly Prison" art by Wayne England
Let me give you two examples.  The first extends back to June, at GP Charlotte (yes, I did go again! :3).  I finished up my match rather early and started wandering tables to see some other neat decks and catch up with my buddies from The Mana Pool.  While on this adventure, I came across something I had never seen before.  At one of the table ends was a match that included a player with some physical handicap.  I will not try to guess at what it was because I honestly have no idea, but he was confined to a wheelchair and could not even hold his cards.  He had to have an aide hold and play the cards for him after he pointed out what to do (Side note: cheers to her, as well!  She not only has to aid this person, but she has gone above and beyond and learned at least the basics of the game to know when he might want to play a card or do something in response).  

"Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts" art by Karla Ortiz
I found myself mesmerized for a few seconds when I saw this, wondering what would I do if I was this person's opponent.  Would I handicap myself to make it easier for him?  Would I pay more attention to the aide to make sure she was only doing what he indicated and not trying to influence his plays? Would I start talking more to the aide than to the player?  I'd like to think that the answer to the first and third questions is "no".  In the first case, I might slow my pace a bit to make sure both of them understood everything I was doing, but I do not think I would change how I played.  The third question though, I am not as sure of.  If I was, in a sense, interacting more with the aide, I may focus my dialogue to her instead.  I like to think that with my experience of speaking to groups of people, I would speak to both of them, but I can't tell for sure.  As for the second question, I probably would, just to make sure there was no cheating.

The other example happened this past week at FNM.  In the draft pod next to me, a player opened his pack and laid all his cards face up on his play mat in front of him (Note: for those of you who may not play Magic, drafting allows you to build a deck from random packs of cards instead of cards you already own.  You are usually not supposed to show anyone what you are drafting).  Someone in his pod probably assumed that he was new and pointed out that he did not have to do that (and yes, I am aware that I am making an assumption here myself).  That is when he revealed that he actually has a condition known as hyperhidrosis and so his hands get extremely sweaty.

Now, this scenario is extremely interesting to me!  Here was a player that is perfectly capable of playing, and a very good drafter (I've played against him in the past), but he has adjusted how he plays and gives himself a huge disadvantage by allowing everyone in his pod to see what he was drafting.  There is an argument that he is also sending the ultimate signals to the rest of the players to not pick cards in his colors, but they still have perfect knowledge of his deck.  What I find to be the extremely interesting part is when I tried to step back and think about what I would do if I was in his pod?  I've had players play with their hands tipped a little too low so that I can see what was in there hands, and I avert my eyes.  I like to believe that in this case, I would do the same.  Is that just me though?

"Call to Mind" art by Terese Nielson
What makes this topic so interesting to me is that, being a teacher, I have dealt with students with different mental capabilities; from honors to low achievement to IEP students.  However, I have never had to teach a student with any kind of physical impediment beyond casts or crutches.

These are my reactions based on what makes sense to me.  What I want to know from you all is how you would react in the above scenarios?  What kind of similar scenarios have you come across in your travels across the multiverse?  Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time, I'll be here mentally testing not only new decks, but now new types of opponents!

- JT

Monday, July 21, 2014

[Jas] The Week is for Anime!

[JT's intro:  Wow...  it has taken me so long to write something new, Jas has had to come back from her own blog to kick my ass into shape...  so  today she brings you a new anime round-up!  No notes from me this time since I am a little under the weather, but they will be in within a few days if I find the need to interject, as I usually do :P ]

I haven’t written a post on here for ages, but I’ve taken it upon myself to at least attempt a revival! Here again to talk about the new anime season, it is I, Jas! So let’s examine the weekly schedule that is clearly taking over my planner:

Mondays are for: Ao Haru Ride, Re-subbed Sailor Moon, and Master Chef! A girly anime based off a manga (that I’ve read, but now fallen out of) that was super cute! A girl who wants to stop acting “cute” so that girl’s in her school no longer hate her! She pretends to hate boys, eats a poop ton of bread, and generally acts in tom-boyish ways. Until, that is, she meets a boy she used to know (and had a crush on) now what is she to do?? (Clearly that was about Ao Haru Ride and not Master Chef) I’m also keeping up on the Hulu re-subbed version of Sailor Moon! I love rewatching the orginal, it’s really bringing back my childhood!

Tuesdays are for: Nothing! Free day! No shows for me to watch on this day! I guess I can just Hulu things, like old episodes of Master Chef Junior and Kitchen Nightmares

Wednesdays are for: Love Stage!! And Free! Eternal Summer. Aka the day of the bromance! Love Stage being an actual yaoi and Free being hard core bromance of the sports variety. Love Stage is also a genderbend, which is pretty cute! I don’t think I need to talk much about Free, everyone already knows everything there is to know about Free…though….the new ending song is WAY crazier than the first seasons, no joke.

Thursdays are for: Kuroshitsuji: Book of Circus Persona 4 the Golden Animation, Zankyou no Terror, Tokyo Ghoul, and Glasslip! The busiest anime day for me! Whoa! My favorites are Zankyou no Terror and Glasslip, at least, so far. Zankyou no Terror seems like it might be a little slow on the action, but I think it’s going to have amazing back story and deepness to it. The art is great and I love the animation! Glasslip is shoujo with the group of friends, love triangles, transfer student coming into town and messing up all the chemistry of the group, and a little supernatural flare that I did NOT see coming! (It’s explained in the second episode) Tokyo Ghoul is the token horror anime for the season, it’s got gore, and it’s got blood! It seems like it will be an interesting story as well, though I’ve heard the manga is 13 something volumes, so cramming that into 1 season might be rough. We will just have to see. Persona 4 the Golden Animation seems like it will be good, though I know nothing at all about the actual games. As for the new season of Kuroshitsuji, it’s what you’d except: more butler, more demon, more awesome stuff like that. I think it will be all right.

Fridays are for: Tokyo ESP, which had a JAM PACKED ACTION INTENSE SO MANY CHARACTERS INTRODUCED HOW DO I KEEP TRACK OF THEM first episode that I don’t even know what to think except that I have to watch the second episode obviously to figure out what the hell is going on. There are espers, there are bad espers, and there are regular people who don’t seem to like espers. Think X-men, it’s sorta like X-men. At least, that’s what I’m saying after episode 1.

Saturdays are for: SAO II and Barakamon! I HAD to watch SAO II, which is based off GGO (Gun Gale Online) an arc from the light novel series, so yes, this is still canon. Very cyberpunk, many guns, pretty awesome girl introduced who seems like a boss. Looks promising! Barakamon is completely different, being a comedy/slice of life type anime with an adorable small child who constantly annoys an older guy trying to perfect his calligraphy. It has an interesting cast of characters and it’s downright cute at times.

Sundays are for: Haikyuu!! And Gekkan Shoujo Nokzaki-kun! The first is a remanent of the previous season that is still running. I love this whole sports anime trend that is going on. Swimming with Free, Basketball with Kuroko no Basket, and now my precious volleyball anime!! Though, it doesn’t have the intense special move shounen aspect that Kuroko no Basket has, which is quite nice. No spikes on fire or shit like that. (Not that it wouldn’t be cool, but c’mon man, no way) The team is just too cute and I can’t, I love it to death! ADORABLE VOLLEYBALL FEELS! Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun is an adorable, you guessed it, shoujo about a girl who wants to confess to a guy who is secretly (well not so secret, no one believes him) the mangaka of a popular shoujo, but MAN IS HE DENSE! It’s adorable and hilarious! That’s a winning combo in my book.

So that’s my anime weekly schedule! Along with Sailor Moon Crystal, which airs every 1st and 3rd week on Saturday (and can also be watched on Hulu)! Another series of note: Yami Shibai has a second season that comes out on Sundays, it’s super short (about 5 min episodes) and is sort of like Tales of the Crypt Keeper in that it tells short creepy stories. I watched all of the first season recently, it’s pretty good! By good I mean creepy, and I like creepy. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

[JT] The Mana Pool Kickstarter! Come on in, the Mana's fine

Hey guys, I'm taking a break from [not] writing new content to share with you THE MANA POOL KICKSTARTER!

Yes, the podcast that has been bringing out free content for more than six freaking years is branching out.  Want to show your TMP Dork pride?  Now is your chance.  The KS is so they can bring us some merch we have been asking for for years now;  tokens, sleeves, t-shirts, you name it*! Check out some sweet art that you can get in different forms, done by Jars!

I am not doing this because I was on a few episodes, and not because they're my buddies, but because (as I have said many times before) without these guys, I would not have as deep a love for MtG as I do.  Every week, these dorks are a reminder of the reason we all started shuffling lands and spells together: the fun of the game.  So if you have ever enjoyed TMP and want to give back, or just want some sweet stuff, now is the time to dive in.

See you pool-side,

*DISCLAIMER: Brian's hot sister and magic-card bikini's are not eligible...  though we might be able to get Mike into the latter... hmmm...

Monday, February 10, 2014

[JT] CGC: Quick Standard Deck

Hey guys, just wanted to through up a quick list while I work on my Sphinx post.  I decided to try out a Phenax deck, and want to know your thoughts!

Doorkeeper x4
Murmuring Phantasm x4  

Wall of Frost x4
Phenax, God of Deception x3
Mind's Eye Drake x2

Syncopate x2
Rapid Hybridization x2
Triton Tactics x4
Dimir Charm x2
Curse of Swine x2
Mind Grind x3
Pilfered Plans x4

Nykthos, Shrine to Nix x2
Dimir Guildgate x4 (will become Temples)
Watery Grave x4
Island x9
Swamp x5

Under Construction

Things being considered:
Lavaz, Dimir Mastermind x2-3
Nighthowler x?
Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver x2-4
Mind Grind x1
Dimir Charm x2
Curse of Swine x2
Rapid Hybridization x2

Let me know what you think I should add or what needs to go in the sideboard in the comments below!

Monday, February 3, 2014

[JT] CGC: Crying for the Moon

It's been awhile since I talked about my pride and joy; i.e. my Moonfolk EDH deck (last iteration is here).  Unfortunately, there is not a lot of cards that have been released lately that either flavorfully or functionally make me excited to tweak the deck.  Here is where it currently sits though:

Patron of the Moon (Commander)
Uyo, Silent Prophet
Meloku, the Clouded Mirror
Erayo, Soratami Ascendant
Soratami Savant
Soratami Mirror-Mage
Moonbow Illusionist
Soratami Mindsweeper
Oboro Breezecaller
Oboro Envoy
Soratami Rainshaper
Soratami Seer
Soratami Cloudskater
Soratami Mirror-Guard
Kami of the Crescent Moon
Keiga, the Tide Star
Soramaro, First to Dream
Riptide Director
Riptide Shapeshifter
Roil Elemental
Lighthouse Chronologist
Azami, Lady of Scrolls
Tomorrow, Azami's Familiar
Kira, Great Glass-Spinner
Windreader Sphinx
Grand Architect
Graceful Adept

Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
Jace Beleren
Tezzeret, the Seeker

Counsel of the Soratami
Into the Roil
High Tide
Cyclonic Rift
Cryptic Command
Blue Sun's Zenith

Infinite Reflection
Spreading Seas
Inexorable Tide
Gravitational Shift
Training Grounds
Archmage Ascension
Parallel Thoughts

Mirror Gallery
Sol Ring
Isochron Scepter
Tatsumasa, the Dragon's Fang
Amulet of Vigor
Coat of Arms
Bident of Thassa
Storm Cauldron
Illusionist's Bracers
Ring of Evos Isle
Adventuring Gear
Everflowing Chalice
Sapphire Medallion

Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
Moonring Island
Riptide Laboratory
Academy Ruins
Seat of Synod
Ghost Quarter
Buried Ruin
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
Reliquary Tower
Cavern of Souls
Thespian's Stage
Minamo, School at Water's Edge
Tectonic Edge
Haunted Fengraf
Cephalid Coliseum
Faerie Conclave
Island x21
Maze of Ith
Magosi, the Waterveil

Some changes I want to highlight (and still make in the future):

- Infinte Reflection/Mirror Gallery  I decided to increase the flavor of the Soratami using mirrors as a source of power.  As such, I also want to include a copy of Tempt with Reflection from the new Commander products.  I'm dreaming of a time when I Tempt targeting Keiga, the Tide Star.  I'll let you figure out the fun in that one ;)

- Low Tide  So, as much as I hated to do it, i had to take out Tidal Flats, Tidal Wave, Moonlace, Deluge, and some other flavorful cards because they were just underperforming.  Some of them might make a return, but for now I wanted to use other cards to see how they work.

- Bident of Thassa Another method of controlling Tides, though I am still debating whether or not Thassa and the Moonfolk would actually get along... perhaps she should be the new Commander?  Nah.  Either way, will all of the flying, this can draw me a LOT of cards.

-Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx Speaking of lots of something, how about lots of mana?  This deck can already go infinite, but in a mono-colored, creature based deck, this card can produce stupid amounts of mana.

- Tidal Force I do not have a copy yet, but I feel like it is a pretty obvious inclusion.  The only problem I have with including it (and Tempt with Reflection) is just that there is no foil version, and this is the one deck I want to foil out, but i will suck it up.

- Whelming Wave Probably the one card other than the Bident I was most excited for for this deck.  Whether or not it will actually make it in or not is yet to be seen though.  First I need to get my hands on one.

 So there is my update on my Moonfolk deck.  Kind of short, kind of sweet, but wait until next week, where I go over my new and improved Sphinx deck :3 Theros has been really good for it so far.  And if that does not whet your appetite, maybe this will:  Theros allowed me to almost completely overhaul my Legend of Zelda EDH deck.  That's the one I am most excited to share, but we have to save the best for last now, don't we?

I will leave you with one quick match story with this deck.  Apparently, Tomorrow, Azami's Familiar  and Parallel Thoughts DO NOT GO WELL TOGETHER, especially when you put all of your possible outs into P.Thoughts.  The two create a replacement effect for the same event (drawing a card), and you choose which you do, and unless I am mistaken (which I will be double checking as soon as I am done with this actually), since Thoughts is a 'may' and Tomorrow is not, you must do Tomorrow, meaning you never get to touch the cards you have under Thoughts.  Learned that the hard way.

Do any of you know if that's the correct ruling?  Let me know in the comments.  Feel free to leave any other suggestions for the deck as well.  And don't forget, I still need your help deciding what deck to build next!

Well, until next time, I'll just be over here mooning you.

Monday, January 20, 2014

[JT] Don't call it a comeba- ... Ok yeah, It's totally a comeback...

Ok guys...  Here it is.  Another post.  I bet you never thought you would see the day.  Sorry I've been so quiet on new content; I've had stuff I wanted to get out, but I just could not focus enough to get them onto paper... err...  I mean a computer screen.  This is just going to be brief, but I need your input on something so I can work on a few pieces, so I figured I would give you all a small update at the same time.

First of all, I was lucky enough to be invited to do another guest spot on The Mana Pool this week!  We discussed the first wave of Born of the Gods spoilers.  You can find the episode by diving into the pool (i.e. clicking).


Over the next few weeks I'll be bringing you updates on all of my constructed decks (standard and EDH).  At the same time though, what I need from you guys is what you think my next EDH deck should be.  I have a few ideas I want you to choose from:

1) Sydri, Galvanic Alchemist / Artifact Control
Esper control in EDH with a heavy artifact theme.  Pretty much sums it up.

2) Venser, Shaper Savant
If you don't know by now, you should:  Venser is my favorite Planeswalker, but since I have not really done much with my Spellbook format in a while, I can't build an EDH deck for him.  So the alternative is his creature form.  Of the three ideas, this is the one I think I can make with the most flavor (something which, if you remember, is something very important for me to be able to keep and maintain an EDH deck).

3) Arcane
Either mono-blue with Uyo, Silent Prophet or an Esper build with Dromar, the Banisher.

So, like I said, I want to know which deck YOU want me to talk about.

For now that's the only definite stuff I have planned.  There are a few other pieces that might come up (a few anime reviews come to mind), and I am going to try and get the rest of my team back into action again.  Not sure how much time they all have for it now, but I'm sure you'll see them again at some point soon (I'm sure they all have some gushing to do over Dr. Who since they haven't in a while).  Speaking of which, Jas has actually started another blog of her own.  Check out a few Bookworms in Dresses.

Ok.  Short and sweet like I predicted.  I promise I won't leave you for such a long time again!
- J.T.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

[JT] Pokemon XYD (The D is for Disappointment)

Ok...  I've had a bit of time to let this stew and see if my opinion changes after giving some thought, which is why this post has taken so long (it has nothing to do with my laziness.  Nope.  Nothing.), and I am just going to get it out in the open right up front: I found Pokemon Gen. VI, a.k.a. X and Y to be a HUGE let down.

Go ahead.  Throw all the garbage you want at me.


You done?  Ok.  Now that that is out of your system, let me explain why I think this:

1) Storyline
Without a doubt, the biggest reason I was let down by the games was the lackluster story.  Black/White had the single greatest story line in a Pokemon game (which is a lot for me to say since (Heart)Gold/(Soul)Silver have always been my favorite in the series).  The story was one of the reasons I got as re-enamored with the games as I did, so imagine my disappointment when I reached the apex of X's story, expecting it to take a massive upswing or even continue on after the ridiculousness that is Team Flare (probably one of the worst Teams ever, if not THE worst), only to find a lackluster post game (that will not be a separate point since I will admit that I have not finished the post game yet.  I had to put the game down after the bad taste that was left in my mouth by the main game.  In fact, today was the first time I had started to seriously play it after finishing the main game a few days after it's release).

2) 3D
Let me get this out of the way: I like the 3D.  These are without a doubt the most beautiful games in the
series (though I do miss the mini sprites and graphics, but that's something that's just a personal preference).  The problem I have is with the seemingly random uses of 3D.  You get the opening cut scene with Prof. Sycamore in 3D, which gets you geared up for the adventure.  Fletchling flies through your house and wakes you up in your bed in 3D, and you start to walk around.... in 2D?!  You walk down the stairs in 2D, talk to your mom in 2D, and then walk outside, and get a 5 second cut scene in 3D?  The cut scene in and of it self is fine... something new for the series besides just sprite standing still or walking back and forth.  I am fine with those, but the fact that they seem to use these as a medium to show off the 3D, and only then (besides in certain battles and a few other select areas) seems like a cop out.

Again, don't get me wrong.  I love the 3D graphics... WHEN THEY ARE USED.  The Elite Four chambers are incredible, and watching the Pokemon World Championships are going to be a whole heck of a lot more entertaining if they use XY with the battle animations on, but the inconsistency with HOW they used the graphics is my main problem.

3) Poke Transfer
It has been a standard pillar of the past few gens that there is a way to transfer in Pokemon from previous gens into your new game, and that is no different in X and Y.  What IS different though is that there is no internal method of doing so.  From what I have gathered (and I will admit that it is possible I have not given this due diligence, but this is my understanding currently) is that starting in December, there will be a Pokemon Bank app/download you can get that will allow you to store up to 3,000 Pokemon to use in this and future gens, which is a great idea.  However, you get a free trial and then you have to pay a fee to use the bank.  It's something small (like $5 a year or something), but the thing that really irks me about it is that this is why things like Skylanders and the like have been something I have stayed away from.

Pokemon was always something that could stand alone; you buy the game, and everything is done in game.  You did not have to worry about buying figures or points or anything like that.  You invest in the new game and that was it.  Now you have to pay to do something that you've been doing for years.  Sure this is will (I hope) have a few other features that make it worth while, but we do not even have the option to do things the old way.   The other thing that bothers me is that we have to wait until December!  Two months after the game is released.  Why do I have to wait that long, especially for a game that has very little post game following a main game that can be completed in no time at all?

These are the three biggest things I have had a problem with.  There are some other smaller and more aesthetic/personal things I had a problem with (new Exp. Share for instance), but those are just me so I won't bog down this post with it.

Basically, TL;DR :

From Penny Arcade

So, what do you think?  Do you agree?  Think I'm just an old man that wants you young whipper-snappers off my lawn?  Let me know.  Until then, I think I'll be here waiting for the ability to transfer in old Pokemon -_-