Tuesday, December 25, 2012

[Caitlin] Fangirling: The Christmas Special

[JT's note: YAY!  Caitlin's back, and she's bringing her Fangirling series with her!  This time she's thrown in some holiday cheer with it.  Due to some special circumstances, I am going to leave this relatively unedited and without comment.  You'll see why in a second.  Just know that all numbers that look like this ---> [X], are placed there by me for a reason you will understand at the end.  I also just want to note that since Caitlin's love of Dr. Who has not yet infected me, I left out any spoiler tags that might be needed during editing since, well, I'm not sure what is a spoiler and what isn't.  Fair warning.  So without further ado...]

Merry Christmas to all my fellow nerds out there! If you hadn’t guessed already, I am a MAJOR Doctor Who fan. Christmas is a particularly special day for fans of this beloved series because of a British tradition known as “the Christmas Special.” I have been current with the series for only the past two Christmases, but I already know that it will be a personal tradition of mine to watch Doctor Who on Christmas day. Today has been an emotional roller coaster [1], as Christmas tends to be. There was the obligatory opening of presents, a lull in which sibling rivalry rears her ugly head, and then a wonderful day filled with friends, family, fun, and copious amount of alcohol [JT's note: Which is why I was so excited to see her write this ;) OK, I'm out for now.  See you at the end.].

Since this series is entitled “fangirling,” I suppose I should begin with the presents that made me fangirl, and made the rest of my family cringe. My favorite gift was Season One of Game of Thrones. Fortunately I was able to share my enthusiasm with my father; who has seen the first season and read the first 1.5 books (I have seen and read all of it, and this makes me very anxious because I have a compulsive need to share my obsessions (this explains why JT watches Bones). When present opening was done, however, no one would let me put on the special features. (even though my sister does it EVERY YEAR with any DVD that she recieves!! But I’m not bitter at all…) I had no one to share my excitement over Downton Abbey Season two, In fact, my entire family thinks I’m weird for that one… (I have an obsession with British Television and period dramas and I am not ashamed!!!)

This brings me to our afternoon festivities! My sister, who has recently been introduced to the world of musical theater (mostly thanks to Glee and shows like The Voice), actually wanted to go see Les Mis. Let me just say [1] that I have been looking forward to this for so long, and with every news update I wanted it even more! It was an emotional rollercoaster [2] to say the least [2]. To say [3] that I was anxious is an understatement; musical theater to film translations have not had the best track record.  The announcement that the actors were singing every track live was very promising, but out of context clips and the “highlights from the motion picture” soundtrack did not bode well. I have to say [4], that the wait for this film was an emotional rollercoaster [3] in and of its self; but the final product was well beyond anything that I could have imagined.

While I have never seen Les Miserables on stage, I can imagine that it lacks a sense of the personal connection necessary to capture the audience. On film this is absolutely not the case. Les Miserables pulled me in immediately, and did not let me go for three tearjerking hours. To say that [5] I was impressed would be an understatement. Initial critical reviews of the casting choices made me question my excitement, but I was not disappointed. While I wish that Amanda Seyfried’s voice had been more powerful in ensemble numbers, and that Russell Crowe’s delivery had been more powerful in general, this did not detract from the film’s emotional pull. On the other hand, Helena Bonham Carter and Sasha Baron Cohen were perfectly cast for the precise amount of comic relief. It took a while for me to recover from the emotional toll of the film; which was both depressing and uplifting [4.5] at the same time.After all of that, the Doctor Who Christmas Special still remained. I made the mistake of watching the end of the Fall finale before the Special, which after the emotional rollercoaster [5.5] I had already ridden, was a horrible idea. At least it put me in the proper, I love to hate Steven Moffatt, mindset.

Since I have access to proper viewing equipment, (AKA a DVR) I am able to do a proper review (AKA I can rewatch it several times in one night and pause, rewind, and rewatch as many times as I want). The opening sequence is certainly different from recent years. I immediately picked up on the translucent image of the current doctor, and recognized that it was a throwback to the earlier incarnation of the series. The new opening sequence is such a glorious combination of old and new, that any long time fan of the series should be excited for what is yet to come (along with a few scattered allusions to the original series during the episode). This is particularly exciting since this is the beginning of the 50th anniversary year for the show, and it shows that Moffatt really cares about the legacy that was left for him.

One reason that I love Steven Moffatt is that he seems to personally have his fingers on the pulse of the Docto Who fandom. Since "A Good Man Goes to War," the fall finale of season 6, fans have been clamoring for the return of Madame Vastra (A member of the race Homo Reptilia, the first humanoid inhabitants of planet earth) and her female partner. It was widely speculated that these two were a romantic couple (and also that they might be future companions of the doctor's), and this was confirmed in this year’s Christmas Special; marking the first time that an openly lesbian couple has been featured on the show. Since this episode takes place in Victorian England, there are a few comedic moments where it is unclear whether characters are more unnerved by the fact That Vastra is a lizard-person or that she is married to another woman.

This episode also features Jenna Louise-Coleman, who was first introduced (to much fan dismay) in the premiere episode of the 7th season.  Since Jenna was known to be portraying the new companion to the doctor,to be introduced during the Christmas Special, and Moffatt, yet again, introduced a character shortly before their demise (think River Song), this was bound to be an emotionally and mentally taxing episode. There are several moments of Pond era nostalgia, and a few AHA! moments. In true Steven Moffatt fashion, this episode answers every question with another question, and will leave every fan utterly unsatisfied; with an insatiable hunger for the next episode.

[JT's final note:  ...and that's where she left it.  I don't know about you, but I kind of want to see more of this tipsy Caitlin's writing.  I think it could be fun.  Oh yeah.  The numbers?

"Emotional roller coaster" Count: 5.5 ([4.5] was basically an occurrence)
"To say"/"Let me just say"/etc. Count: 5

... all during the first half. -_-

Anyway, tune in next time for the next installment of Fangirling and see which version of Caitlin we get then ^_^

Happy Holidays!]

Sunday, December 23, 2012

[JT] CGC: Holiday Edition

Happy Holidays, all!  So, my original intent was to do a holiday themed Group Therapy with everyone.  Unfortunately, that fell through at the last minute.  Not wanting to give up on doing something special for my very first Christmas holiday season with you all, I racked my brain for a long time (it's amazing how long two minutes can feel ~_^ ) about what I could do until it hit me like a brick: Holiday CGC!  So let's unwrap what I have for you today...

Commander: Karona, False God

Creatures (31):

Agadeem Occultist
Akoum Battlesinger
Bala Ged Thief
Bojuka Brigand
Graypelt Hunter
Hada Freeblade
Hagra Diabolist
Halimar Excavator
Harabaz Druid
Highland Berserker
Joraga Bard
Jwari Shapeshifter
Kabira Evangel
Kazandu Blademaster
Kazuul Warlord
Makindi Shieldmate
Muramasa Pyromancer
Nimana Sell-Sword
Ondu Cleric
Oran-Rief Survivalist
Sea Gate Loremaster
Seascape Aerialist
Stonework Puma
Tajuru Archer
Talus Paladin
Tuktuk Grunts
Tuktuk Scrapper
Turntimber Ranger
Umara Raptor
Vastwood Animist
Mana-Charged Dragon

Spells (9):
Vow of Flight
Vow of Duty
Vow of Lightning
Vow of Malice
Vow of Wildness
Alliance of Arms
Minds Aglow
Collective Voyage
Shared Trauma

Artifacts (12):
Conjurer's Closet
Coat of Arms
Signets x10

Lands: X

That's right.  I brought you a Karona, False God EDH deck.  I will be perfectly honest and tell you that I did what EVERYBODY does and got this for you at the last minute; meaning I thought up this skeleton in about as much time as it took me to decide to do a holiday CGC.  Now before you ask for a gift receipt, let's take a closer look at the deck for a bit, because while the deck itself was quick, I've been brewing it in the back of my mind for a while now.

My first thought when coming up with a holiday deck was a Red/Green Santa Claus themed deck with a heavy group hug feel.  The problem with this was that there weren't any Santa-esque R/G legendary creatures.  Soon after I realized this, I also realized Santa-esque is too restricting.  A general holiday gen- ...er... commander would be much more fitting (and politically correct), which lead me to five colors.  I looked at the 5 color legends for a group hug commander, and found Karona.  It has a nice little twisted group hug feel that I have loved for a while now (hence the "I've been brewing..." line above).  Now I had an excuse to try and flesh it out a bit more.

Karona's form of group hug is a lot different than others.  Instead of giving other people some kind of bonus (a la the most ubiquitous group hugger, Phelddagrif), Karona give herself to your opponents.  This can be a huge problem if it comes back at you, hence why I included the full cycle of vows, the ones that give the enchanted creature a bonus and keeps it from attacking the owner of the vow.  These will keep Karona from coming back at you in retaliation.  Karona's title as the False God is also a small play to my cynicism about the holidays and shopping, because, let's face it, a large number of people have forgotten the true spirit of the holidays: coming together to celebrate with your friends and family...

Which is why I decided to go ahead and include the cycle of Join Forces cards as well; the ones that when cast, everyone can add in any amount of mana they want, and all players get the sum of the rewards.  Everyone pulling their resources to better themselves and/or the group; becoming allies for a brief moment.  Speaking of which, as you can see, I took the camaraderie to another level by making the creature base the full suite of Ally-typed creatures, even the puma (it's the family cat).  What I love about these guys is that they rely on others to bolster their [very versatile] effects; i.e. the more the merrier.  I originally picked the Allies because I wanted a fun tribe that spans all five colors, and while there might have been others, I'm not sure anyone can argue with the flavor of this band of bros.

The last thing I want to discuss is that if you notice, I left the land base open (with 47 slots to fill).  The reason is that I fully expect that anyone who wants to give this deck a try to tweak the spell base; take out certain allies that don't fit into a certain game plan, include more instants and sorceries (removal, draw, tutor, etc).  If you enjoy giving yourself some restrictions and taking the camaraderie to another level, I have a suggestion:  if something exists as part of a cycle, use the ENTIRE cycle (as I did with the signets, the vows, and the Join Forces).  This goes for lands too, although that might be the most expensive part of the deck that way (unless you want to go all out on the holiday feel and use the Holiday Promos)...

Here are some ideas that popped into my head:

 Zeniths!  Absolutely.  Sweeper?  Creature tutor?  Draw?  Burn?  Dudes? Re-usability and versatility?  Great.  These are the first five cards I am adding.

Guildmages!  There are 20 now total, or at least there will be once Gatecrash drops.  They sort of breaks the tribal theme, hence why I probably won't be using them (I enjoy tribal way too much), but I can see why anyone else would.

"Hunted"!  These larger-than-normal creatures add an extra dimension of group hug to the deck by giving your opponent something in return for allowing you successfully cast the guy. Again, though, breaks the tribe vibe.


Titans!  No.  Primeval is banned :(  If you have a play group that would allow you to use him though, go for it!  I would be willing to break my love of a mono-tribe creature list (Mana-Charged Dragon alone makes me want to sadface, but he is there for the sake of another cycle) for them since they have synergy with Conjurer's Closet and any other blink effects you may want to include.

Medallions!  Could be fun, but I prefer the signets since they can always be used as colorless sources for the spells that don't fit into the color.

Kamigawa Patrons!  Again, if you want to break the tribal theme for them, and think it would be fun (I do), go for it.

As I said, this is a skeleton that I rushed together, and I think it shows.  However, I think for a rough skeleton, this could turn out to be really fun, especially once you add in your own little twist.  Have any other ideas for cycles or holiday themed cards to include?  Just let me know in the comments.

So with that, and on behalf of Caitlin, Jas, and Stevie, Happy Holidays from NerdPop! ,,v. ^_^

Friday, December 7, 2012

[JT] CGC: Now I Know My ABCD's - Pick Your Own Adventure

*deep breathe in*  Ahhhhh...  Welcome back to The Card Game Corner everyone.  Sorry I've been so silent with this lately.  Don't really have an excuse; just sort went M.I.A.  Anywho!  I'm back, and it feels good.
Subliminal hinting, but to what?!

Today's CGC is introducing a revamp to my deck discussions.  You see, I've recently rediscovered my love of budget decks for standard (more on how I rediscovered it in a bit), so we will be talking about our (my) ABC...D's; as in A Budget Constructed Deck.  Want to know what's great?  If I'm showing the progress of the decks, we can have the ABCDE's (Evolution).  Then for the last segment on that particular deck: ABCDEF's (Finale).  Yes, I like word play.  Deal with it ,,v. ~_^

Ok, back on topic...  You all know that I love my Deadeye Control deck, and that will be my focus for the majority of Innistrad's stay in standard.  However, it's not like I want it to go stale on me.  Which brings me to today's post and why I rediscovered my budget love.  I was thinking about a deck I could just randomly throw together to have fun at a random FNM in November.  Since it was just to take a break from my main deck, I wasn't going to put too much time or effort (i.e. trading for pieces I needed).  What I came up with is...

Night Terrors:

Creatures: (20)
Duty-Bound Dead x4
Diregraf Ghoul x4
Butcher Ghoul x4
Blood Artist x4
Diregraf Captain x4
Grimgrin, Corpse-Born

Artifacts: (1)
Runechanter's Pike x1

Spells: (19)
Bone Splinters x3
Ghoulcaller's Chant x3
Altar's Reap x3
Spectral Flight x3
Murder x3
Forbidden Alchemy x3

Lands: (20)
Drowned Catacomb x1
Swamps and Islands x19

This deck actually had it's beginnings as my very first draft deck.  It was a DKA-IND-IND draft, where I ended up with a sic UB Zombie build that went Turn 1 Diregraf Ghoul/Gravecrawler, Turn 2 Spectral Flight... deal with this (and an Endless Ranks of the Dead for good measure).  The original intent behind this 60-card build was to top out the deck at a converted mana cost of 3, but the more I thought about it, the more I fell in love with a singleton Grimgrin, Corpse-Born.

One thing you may notice is the lack of Gravecrawler's.  Well, if you remember I said I was just throwing this together.  I don't have the Gravecrawler's.  Now, I know what you're thinking:  why Duty-Bound Dead though?  I wanted another one drop in black, and Hunted Ghoul was my first thought.  Awesome!  Another zombie!  Then my eyes fell on DBDead, and I started to think:  DBDead would do a better job of supporting the deck as opposed to filling the deck by not only mucking up the ground, but also pumping up my early turn attacker.  Would Gravecrawler's be better?  Most likely (they don't muck up the ground).  Would I love to have them in the deck?  Definitely.  Will I try and add a few?  Well, that's where we get to the interesting part of this post...

YOU are going to decide.  I am going to do something a little different.  I have a second deck I am going to discuss with you in a few seconds, and I want you to pick which one I focus on for my ABCDE's.  Which ever one is the most popular is the one I will discuss and tweak.  Simple as that.  If you pick the Night Terrors, Gravecrawler's would probably be my first choice in upgrading the deck as long as it stays a budget card (which it barely is right now.  More on this at the end though).  Before you snap pick that deck though, let's talk about it's competition...


Mindshrieker x4
Bruna, Light of Alabaster x2
Archon of the Triumvirate x2
Drogskol Reaver x2

Thought Scour x4
Mizzium Skin x4
Unburial Rites x4
Rise from the Grave x2
Righteous Authority x2
Unhallowed Pact

Azorius Keyrune x4
Ring of Evos Isle x2


Any horror director worth his salt will tell you that things you imagine are scarier than any monster that can be put on the screen.  Well this deck has the chance to prove it with another of my favorite, underrated cards from IND block: Mindshrieker.  At first, I saw this card as Jace's go to creature instead of an illusion (tell me you can't imagine how majestic it would look to see Jace launch a wave of blue magic at someone, have it form into a bird that buzzes over the person, clawing at his head, not doing any physical damage, and flying back over and landing on Jace's arm like a falconer and his pet).

The problem with that though is you are at the whim of your opponents deck, you never know what kind of card you are going to mill with it.  With THIS deck though, you have full control, and what better way to take advantage of all the high costed cards you want to mill with the bird than to reanimate them after they have pumped it up?

 And so, Reani-Shrieker was born.  Now, I will say right of the bat (and it may/should seem fairly obvious) that this deck is not nearly as "fine-tuned" as the Night Terrors, simply for the fact that I've had that deck assembled for a while now so I can use it at this week's FNM.  It will look more streamlined after I've had some more time to think about it.

My first pick for a reanimation target was Bruna, which also allowed me to tap into another form of reanimation, and include the aura that just screams "BRUNA!" for me: Righteous Authority.  Other possible targets that I am considering are Avacyn and Griselbrand, but again, that's up to you and the whim of the budget.

So there you have it.  Now it is up to you.  Which deck would you rather see me evolve?  Or do you just want to see me evolve my Deadeye Control deck? Leave me a comment with the deck and any suggestions you have for that deck.  On the topic of suggestions, I am going to leave you with two criteria I will be basing my decisions on for whichever deck you decide on:

1) Price.  Obviously!  Each card should be no more than $10 (since different sites have different prices, this is somewhat flexible), hence why I called Gravecrawler barely acceptable.  I will mention that the closer the card is to $10, the less likely I will add it.  Lands do NOT count for this, but you probably won't be suggesting those anyway.

2) Availability.  I am TRADING for these cards.  I am not spending any actual cash on them.  As such, if I can't find them for trade, they won't be going in.  This is less likely to be a hindrance though, since I can usually find most cards on Pojo, the site I trade on.  You also don't know what the availability is for me, so this is more of a "if I don't use the card you suggested, don't think I ignored it" stipulation.  I will seriously consider each suggestion.

I'm going to leave you with one last comment on these decks I feel should be kept in mind: Gatecrash will have both Dimir (BU) and Orzhov (WB).  JUST SAYIN'.  I am really excited for both of these decks.  Now all that's left is for you to tell me which one to use.  Leave a comment or tweet me @NerdPop140.

Now, if you excuse me, I think I just heard a Bump in the Night...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Group Therapy: Evolution of Nerd

Welcome to the newest therapy session for all of the lunatics here at NerdPop.  It took a little longer than I had hoped to get this to you guys, but some people aren't as receptive to the therapy as others (I'm looking at you, Nyxiie >_>).  So we decided to just have today's session with three out of the four of us.  Now we're wasting time and this guy charges by the hour...  

Last time, we talked about our first exposure to anime.  Well now it's time to follow that path and discover how the term "nerd" has both changed over time and has come to describe us...  
I wasn’t born into nerdom. No. Hard to believe I’m sure but, I became what used to be considered a nerd back in Elementary school. Before that, I was a “popular” girl. Believe me…it isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. It’s more of a contest like “Look my house is bigger” “Look my basement is better than yours” “My hair is longer” “I’m allowed to use tinted lip gloss” “My mom paints my nails” blah blah blah like that. In fact, the whole popular girl thing boiled down to: Where you sat at lunch, where you sat in class, and meeting once a week to give little gift bags with girly things in them. [JT's note: Where do I sign up?!  ... Er... never mind... move along...]

Well that changed as soon as I went pretty much blind and needed glasses. WHOA! Immediately shunned by all the popular girls. Cause well….no one but nerds wore glasses. Bam. I was labeled a nerd. It wasn’t even like I did amazing in school or anything either, I just got glasses and BAM I was a nerd. Granted, I ended up fitting in well with the stereotype later on.

Back when I was a kid, being a nerd isn’t the same as it was now. If I had been into what I’m into now back then…I’m pretty sure I’d be considered a freak of nature or something by those popular girls….who….I want to just say, that in high school one of them came up to me wearing….FAKE GLASSES and asked me where I got mine and I smiled all sweet like and said “Oh you wanna try em on for a second?” And she was like “OMG YEAH!” And then she put them on and screamed, cause well, I’m like blind and you know MY GLASSES ARE REAL. So I pulled them off her face and said “I got them at a glasses store. Obviously.” And then I walked away. BAM. TAKE THAT! DON’T WEAR FAKE GLASSES IT DOESN’T MAKE YOU COOL IT JUST PISSES OFF ACTUAL SEEING-IMPAIRED PEOPLE LIKE ME!!!!! (I mean, you can wear them for cosplay or if you are actually seeing impaired and just want to wear glasses on an off day, because WE ACTUALLY KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE TO RELY ON GLASSES!!)

A-hem. So, basically. Nerd meant, to me, being scrawny and wearing glasses. In a way it still does. I don’t really think of nerd in the glamourized context it has today, since when I was a “nerd” it wasn’t glamorous at all….especially when I got that hulking hearing aid in third grade and became a social leper because of it.

Yep, I’m pretty much blind and pretty much deaf. Think of me as your grandmother. 

I have known that I am a nerd for as long as I can remember. I was that kid that always had her nose stuck in a book, and since I had pretty severe ADD it was amazing that a book could hold my attention for an extended period of time. It makes sense, then, that my first forays into nerdom were through books.
It all began with Animorphs. I surprise myself with how freely I am able to reveal that here, because very few people know how obsessed I was. I spent all of my allowance on these books, and for a little kid that is some serious dedication. The show came around long after I had moved on from the books, but I still watched it loyally. [JT's note: Mmmmm... Tobia....  wait... didn't I make that joke before?]

I started to share my nerdiness with others after I discovered Harry Potter. Finally, there were others who read the same books that I liked! That was a huge step for me, because I had been escaping into the fantastic worlds in fantasy books long before these other kids. I read the Hobbit when I was about seven having no idea what it was only to rediscover it again in my early teens. It is hard to explain how this phenomenon changed my life, and I truly think it did. I went from super nerd; the girl who got in trouble for sneaking books in school, only listened to country music, and could care less about clothes or her hair, to the girl who read Harry Potter before it was cool [JT's note: Ummmmmm... -See picture-]. It was as if I had been validated; for once I was actually interested in something that other people liked. Eventually I made friends with other people who liked the same books I did, and we went to midnight book releases and movie premiers. Many of those people never knew the full extent of my obsession. The internet allowed me to connect with other hardcore fans and I tried and failed miserably at fanfiction, but found my niche creating graphics for other users. I used to obsessively follow fan sites during the lulls between books and movies; searching for news, working out the puzzles on J.K. Rowling’s website for clues, and theorizing about the next book. I have yet to find another fandom to rival Harry Potter. Doctor Who comes close, but the secrecy surrounding Harry Potter made it so much more intriguing.

I have not yet fully embraced my love of Manga and Anime; JT calls me a “closet otaku.” I tend to be much more open about my more mainstream fandoms.

My current obsession is, without a doubt, Doctor Who. I discovered the reboot on Netflix a few years back, and it all went downhill from there. It has certainly replaced Harry Potter for me in terms of my level of dedication. Doctor Who also introduced me to the world of cosplay. Without ever realizing what I was doing, I recognized Amy Pond’s famous red hoodie on American Apparel and bought it on the spot. When I started to see other clothing Items that I liked and started to search for them, I stumbled into this whole other world that I never knew about before. Now, I had dressed up for Harry Potter releases before, but this was something completely different. I have never been to a convention or anything, so for now it is relegated to the obscure Halloween costume category. Like my fabulous Bones costume that no one recognized, and a pretty good Ginny that was downgraded to “Gryffindor student.” This year it will be “Oh, I’m this girl on this TV show who travels through time” and no one will understand. And I am perfectly OK with that.

 [JT's note: She's being lazy.  So stop back some other time and see if she ever responds...  You know, therapy won't work if you don't try :/ ]

I didn't chose the nerd life... the nerd life chose me.  No seriously... I was born a nerd: Half Korean and apparently some kind of extra mental capacity compared to the other students.  Now, it's a word I'm proud to be identified by (I named myself NerdPop for crying out loud), but it wasn't always like that...

In the beginning, back in late elementary/early middle school, when it started to become apparent I was a nerd, I viewed it as something terrible and derogatory.  I tried to hide it.  I acted and even dressed differently. No one could know my dirty little secret!  Buuut it's kind of hard to hide though when you're top of the class.  That sounds really boastful, I know, but it seemed like I was the only one who would even put in the effort (besides those in my immediate circle of friends).

After a while though, I started to come to terms with it, being the first one in my former group of friends to make it out of that awkward stage where you feel the need to be someone you're not.  I started to feel more comfortable in my pale skin.  Going away to college helped immensely as well.  I went from being the nerd at the top of the class to surrounded by other nerds, and you want to know something?  I was in good company *points to the three above me*.

Eventually I fully embraced it and have been living it up to the fullest (or as much as I can).  I went from nerd geek to nerd chic...

Or so I'd like to think : P

Before I wrap things up for me, I have one little thing I want to say.  Back in middle school, we watched Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in Social Studies (our teacher was an odd ball... but he was the best).  Naturally, I would always get teased with comments about how me and Hermione were meant for each other.  I'll admit that, at the time, I wasn't opposed to the idea.  There was no way I would admit it though since I was deep in nerd-repression.

My response now to all of those who would try and make jokes about it back then?  HA!

Shameless opportunity to show a pic of Ms. Watson XD
Ok.  That's all the time we've paid for this week.  Shame.  I was getting so comfortable on that giant couch too...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

[JT] This is Halloween! This is Halloween!

Happy Halloween everyone!  For some of you, this is like Christmas in October.  If you're anything like me, you love the whole month.  Something about it just makes the spooky, spookier; the scary, scarier; the horror, horrorie... er...   (?).  >.>

Anyway!  I'm not the type that goes out to Halloween parties or trick-or-treating (lack of a social life has nothing to do with this... I swear...).  Instead, I like to turn out all the lights and just drown myself in horror movies, books, comics, anything.  It's kind of fitting for today since Halloween was postponed til Saturday here (for those of you that don't know, I live on the east coast, so we've been kind of waterlogged.  Nothing extreme, but the city decided it would be better to be safe than sorry).  So I'll be talking to you about my favorite things to entertain myself with during the horrorday season, kind of like a Random Fandom: Halloween meets Blender.

Pulse 4) Movies

The classic.  Whenever someone thinks of horror, the first thing that pops into their head 99.9 times out of a hundred (I can do fractions : P) are movies.  There are plenty of classics to fill your time with: Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, etc., etc.  But I want to brag about my elitist/hipster (read as: personal and for no good reason) horror sensibilities and talk about a few that you might not think of:

Without a doubt my favorite horror franchise, the Scream series is the closest to iconic horror that this list will get.  I think everyone knows the story and the infamous line, so I won't spend too much time on it.  I have to at least mention it though because of how well it blends the horror meta with comedy and terror.

Resident Evil
The only possible movie series that has even given Scream a run for its money as my favorite.  I will preface this with the fact that I have not played many of the RE games (4 being the only one that comes to mind that I even attempted before just watching my roommate play in all of his free time).  Most of the RE games came before my appreciation of horror; back when I would avoid it like the plague.  As such, I am viewing these as their own entity, separate from the games in almost every way (and from what I have heard, that is pretty much the only way to watch the movies and actually enjoy them).  The mix of Alice in Wonderland references as well as the gradual mutation of the virus, as well as the general bad-assery of the lovely Alice (Mila Jovavich) make this series one I can watch over and over again.

Trick 'r' Treat
A collection of Halloween vignettes, Trick 'r' Treat is my favorite Halloween-themed movie, but I am not too sure why.  Perhaps it's discovering how each story weaves together with the others, or perhaps it is just nice to finally see the movie after it got delayed for two whole years, but this is the ultimate Halloween movie that "You've never heard of" for me, and I know this will be how I end my night.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Honestly, is there anything to say about Jack and his movie?  While not really a true horror movie in the sense we're used to, I can't think of a better movie to kick off any Halloween season, and the best thing about it is you can watch it all the way through to Christmas too!

Pulse 3) Comics

Cabbage poot.  YAY!
I've recently started reading the The Walking Dead comics when my love of the show left me wanting more after the season finale.  That by itself provides hours of material to read and enjoy, but there is another comic that I always get the urge to read around this time of the year: I Luv Halloween.  There is just enough comic gore and sick situations that you want to keep reading, but not so much that you end up disgusted.  There is a full color version that you HAVE to pick up if you want to feel all the effects of the stories... 

Pulse 2) TV shows

There are plenty of Halloween specials every year.  Some of my favorites are the original "Treehouse of Horror"'s from The Simpsons, but there are plenty of other classics; Boy Meets World had plenty of great Halloween episodes.   There are also a few series you might not have expected to have Halloween episodes, like Good Eats.  Yes, the Food Network show (still my favorite cooking show of all time) that mixed chemistry with the culinary had it's own Halloween themed episodes, including "The Bulb of the Night", where Alton tries to remedy a man named Vlad of his fear of garlic. O_o

Pulse 1) Creepypasta

I already talked about Creepypasta before in my very first Random Fandom, but it has to be mentioned again because they are the perfect thing to have on in the background while you are just mindlessly cruising the internet, or just too tired to do anything but lay in bed.  I also just wanted to reiterate how amazing Mr. Creepypasta's reading is.

Awh... we no longer have a pulse ( : P ).  So that's how I have been passing my time this month.  There is so much good horror out there that is just emphasized by the time of year.  I didn't even mention the After Dark Horrorfest series, or even horror anime.  Seriously, if you cannot find something creepy to send shivers down your spine, you're probably not looking at all, let alone hard enough.

How do you spend your Halloween?  Any epic costumes you were able to pull off this year?  Let me know in the comments.  And don't forget to tell me... What's your favorite scary movie?


Monday, October 29, 2012

[Jas] Casual Daze: Scaredy Meowths

This past Friday was my first "real" time playing pokemon. (LOL I KNOW! I ONLY COLLECT THEM OKAY!??!? I'VE NEVER ACTUALLY PLAYED BEFORE!) And also it was my first time going to Fright Nights at Kennywood (aka an amusement park in Pittsburgh...in case you weren't aware) So....as per usual, let's go through the day in pictures!

Jas's first Pokemon battle for real!! :O

Forcing Jt to listen to my NANOWRIMO plot ideas with the beautiful banana notebook

Fright Night time! Creepy!

More creepy things!

It was a great night, warm and a creepy moon to boot!!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

[JT] CGC: The one where I go Game Day...

Game Day was today, yaaaaaaaay!!!
You know the deal, just did a Google search.

So, you already know what deck I played today, but here is the exact list since it's gone through a few mutations since the last time I talked about it...

-Creatures (17):
Deadeye Navigator x4
Angel of Serenity x1
Lyev Skynight x4
Dungeon Geist x4
Geist of Saint Traft x2
New Prahv Guildmage x2

-Planeswalkers (2)
Tamiyo, the Moon Sage x2

-Spells (18):
Detention Sphere x3
Oblivion Ring x1
Feeling of Dread x4
Azorius Charm x4
Sphinx's Revelation x3
Think Twice x3

-Lands (23):
Hallowed Fountain x4
Glacial Fortress x4
Plains and Island x15

Redirect x3
Negate x2
Syncopate x2
Purify the Grave x2
Oblivion Ring x1
Ghost Quarter x2
Fiend Hunter x2
Detention Sphere x1

I have decided that I no longer pilot this deck.  I now navigate it.  So let's take a look and see how well I navigated it today.

Round 1 versus Wu Humans: He would beat me down to a low life before my deck could come on line in both games.  Then with my tapping and detaining, he couldn't make another attack.  Mixed in with his own deck stalling on him, I was able to bash back for a win, 2-0.

Round 2 versus Wu Humans:  Played out pretty much the same as round one, except his deck was built a bit better, and I couldn't claw back fast enough.  Loss, 2-0.

 Round 3 versus Golgari:  While I beat my opponent this round fairly soundly, he had me worried at a few points.  He would have either a Vampire Nighthawk or a Slitherhead (enchanted with a Rancor) with a Vraska, the Unseen that I had to prioritize my attacks and stall on, dragging the game out longer.  He actually got my life down fairly low both games (as in I won with 1 life left in game 2).  Win, 2-0.

Round 4 versus Bant Ramp: This was a fun round.  I want to preface this round with the fact that I saw this guy playing against a RUb Delver deck before the tournament, and he flooded ... hard.  We even had a little exchange about it and how he at least got it out of his system now before the tournament.  He came back with how with his luck, it will still happen....  So Game 1 he is flooding hard.  I'm bouncing and tapping all of his threats (Armada Wurms, Thragtusks, etc.).  I drop Angel of Serenity and he scoops.  Game 2, he ramps out and crushes me before I can get much in terms of a board presence.  Game 3, he starts to flood, but is keeping me from getting in for damage by Terminus'ing and Azorius Charm'ing my creatures while I'm tapping and O-Ring'ing/D-Sphere'ing his threats.  At this point though, he is flooding BADLY (He Sphinx's Revelation'ed for eight... and drew seven lands and a Farseek).  He then drops a Sigarda, Host of Herons on me.  I feel the game slipping away, until he lets me untap with a Deadeye Navigator soulbonded to a Dungeon Geist.  He swings in with Sigarda, I block and blink, saving my Geist (and me).  He drops Angel of Serenity, targeting my three creatures (including a Lyev Skyknight), I blink both Deadeye Navigator and Dungeon Geist, dodging the Angel's effect.  He Terminus'ed out of desperation, and I just followed up with another threat to end it.  Win, 2-1.

Round 5 versus RWB Control:  Game 1, I couldn't get anything to stick and he burns me out with Pillar of Flame after getting a Tamiyo Emblem.  Funny side note, I kept wondering how the hell he was able to end up with Cyclonic Rift's in his hand after bouncing back my stuff three end phases in a row, until I remembered he had the emblem -_-.  Game 2, I sided into a more control build via my counterspells, Redirects, O-Ring, and D-Sphere.  This turned into a long "Land, go." game.  There were sooo many D-Sphere's on the board.  Unfortunately, things got so drawn out that I couldn't deal with his tech'ed in Niv-Mizzit, Dracogenius and his pinging ability, especially after I made the stupid mistake of trying to Negate his Supreme Verdict *head desk*. Loss, 2-0.

So that's 3-2 overall, good enough for 8th place and three packs (our shop has a low prize pay out, but it's a guaranteed two packs no matter what).  I am once again surprised by how well my deck performed, and I am so happy with it.  I had considered making this the last time I pilot... err, excuse me... navigate the deck for now and focus on something that might be a little bit more competitive, but after today, there is no way I can do that.  I'm definitely keeping at this.  I have a few tweaks in mind, but can't really focus on any in any meaningful way right now, so I will hold off on that for now.

I really want to hear about how your Game Days went as well.  What did you run?  Any great matches?  Or even just awesome interactions.  Let me know in the comments.  In the meantime, I'll be tweaking this deck.

No witty sign off. Just... later!

Monday, October 22, 2012

[JT] CGC: I'm about to moon the hell out of you...

... No seriously, that's the alternate name to the deck I'm spotlighting in today's Deck Discuss.

This has been a long time coming.  You all know by now I have my Legend of Zelda EDH deck, Link of the Many, and with how much I talk about it, you would think it's my pride and joy of a deck.  You would be wrong.  As much as I love the flavor of the deck and tweaking in new story elements from the video games, my first love when it comes to my decks is my Patron of the Moon/Moonfolk EDH deck.

The Soratami have been my favorite tribe since I got started in Magic.  Ask anyone who knows me, and they will tell you I have an [unhealty?] obsession with the moon and the color blue, so it was kind of a no-brainer for me to identify with them.  It started out as a casual 60 card deck, but when I decided to make an EDH deck, it was kind of obvious which deck would get augmented first.  I now give you my baby...

General/Commander: Patron of the Moon

Creatures (24):
Uyo, Silent Prophet (alt. General)
Meloku, the Clouded Mirror
Erayo, Soratami Ascendant
Soratami Cloudskater
Oboro Breezecaller
Moonbow Illusionist
Soratami Rainshaper
Soratami Savant
Soratami Mindsweepet
Soratami Mirror-Mage
Oboro Envoy
Soratami Mirror-Guard
Soratami Seer
Keiga, the Tide Star (come on... a TIDE dragon... in a MOONfolk deck... there is NO better flavor than that...)
Kami of the Crescent Moon
Tideforce Elemental
Kira, Great Glass-Spinner
Azami, Lady of Scrolls
Hisoka, Minamo Sensei
Graceful Adept
Grand Architect
Trinket Mage
Adaptive Automaton

Planeswalker (3):
Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
Jace Beleren
Tezzeret, the Seeker

Spells (22):
Training Grounds
Gravitational Shift
Tidal Flats
Favorable Winds
Honden of Seeing Winds
Parallel Thoughts
Archmage Ascension
Mind Unbound
Cryptic Command
Tidal Wave
High Tide
Moonlace (it's flavor people... plus I'm waiting for that one moment where it does something to screw someone over)
Oppressive Will
Counsel of the Soratami

Artifacts (11):
Sapphire Medallion
Sol Ring
Storm Cauldron
Amulet of Vigor
Adventuring Gear
Moonring Mirror
Tatsumasa, the Dragon's Fang
Crystal Ball
Coat of Arms
Isochron Scepter
Ring of Evos Isle

Lands (39):
Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
Minamo, School at Water's Edge
Riptide Laboratory
Reliquary Tower
Academy Ruins
Magosi, the Waterveil
Buried Ruins
Faerie Conclave
Cephalid Coliseum
Haunted Fengraf
Seat of Synod
Islands x28

So let's talk about things a little bit.  First of all, why did I choose the Patron and not one of the actual Moonfolk?  Well, flavor was one reason.  Patrons are supposed to be the epitome of the tribes they represent (at least in my mind).  It's high (and ever increasing) mana cost can be seen as a deterrent from using it as a general, but his Moonfolk Offering ability allows you to cut his price in half.

The Patron of the Moon also has the unique ability of making up for one of the largest short comings of the moonfolk: the cost of their abilities.  Almost all of the moonfolk have some kind of activated ability that requires returning a certain number of lands you control to your hand, in addition to a mana cost.  With the Patron's ability, you can mitigate this by replacing two of the lands you returned, or just spam in lands at instant speed.

Yes... at instant speed.  Anyone remember a little mechanic from Zendikar known as Landfall?  How would you love to hit multiple Landfall triggers at once... on your opponents' turns?  Hence why I have Adventuring Gear and Tideforce Elemental in the deck.  Why just those two and not more, like Roil Elemental?  Because it got degenerate.  Thanks to two artifacts, Amulet of Vigor (searchable with Trinket Mage and Tezzeret) and Storm Cauldron, you can go infinite on mana, and yes, Landfall (i.e. "At the end of your turn, I use Roil Elemental's Landfall trigger to steal that creature... and that creature... and that creature... and tha- oh, you scoop?").  I allowed Tideforce Elemental to stay out of the sheer flavor (again, Tides and Moonfolk go hand in hand), and Adventuring Gear because while I can make the equipped creature stupid big, none of them have trample, so they can just be chump-blocked.

Now, here's where things get really fun, and where I am planning on taking this deck int he near future.  If I want to maximize the flavor of this deck (which is what EDH is for me: building with flavor), I think Arcane spells would be amazing additions.  I actually had them in the deck for a while, but everything was too spread out; trying to do too many things at once.  So I am trying to make it a bit more streamlined with the Arcanes, which is another huge reason I love having Isochron Scepter in the deck.  Besides being able to Imprint a High Tide on the Scepter, Imprinting an Arcane spell will allow you to continually have something to Splice onto.  Here are the Arcane spells I am looking to include:

Disrupting Shoal
Consuming Vortex
Eerie Possession
Psychic Puppetry
Veil of Secrey (Ok... so I lied about chump-blocking when I go infinite with Adventuring Gear ;))
Eye of Nowhere
Ideas Unbound
Murmurs from Beyond
Peer Through Depths
Petals of Insight
Reach Through Mists
Sift Through Sands
Stream of Consciousness
Toils of Night and Day

This is also why Uyo, Silent Prophet would make an excellent alternate General.  There are also a few other "Tide" cards that I am working on slotting into the deck.

So that's my Moonfolk EDH deck, and I love this thing to pieces.  It is the only deck I care about foiling out (I normal just pass on the foils since they go for way too much, just to fall off later), and I will trade things I need for other decks just to get pieces for this deck.  Case in point, when Sword of War and Peace was at it's peak (~$40), I traded it straight up for a foil Keiga, the Tide Star (~$25).  It is so much fun to play, and it's quite amusing to see the looks on people's faces when I reveal my General and they just sort of cock their heads a bit.

Now go out there and moon some people...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

[JT] CGC: Magic: the Blendering 2

I sat here for 12.5 hours watching Pro Tour - Return to Ravnica today.  As round 15 wraps up and the top 8 were announced, I realized: Crap!  I haven't written anything for my post yet! >.<  So here I am, not sure what to write about.  My original idea was to do a deck discuss about my pride and joy of an EDH deck, but that deserves a larger post that has more time spent talking about it, so that will come later.  What I always do when I want to post something but can't formulate a topic?  I Blend[er] together multiple!

Pulse 1) Innistrad BLOCK Draft

So I get to my local game shop last night for FNM, and I get greeted with the information that they are out of Return to Ravnica (>.<).  Because of that, they decided to do an Innistrad block draft.  That means one pack of Avacyn Restored, one pack of Dark Ascension, and one pack of Innistrad.  For those of you that don't know this, the three blocks were not designed to be drafted together!  So the entire thing was a huge clusterfu- ...   a huge mess.  I ended up at 2-1 with a blue-black zombie deck with a Blood Artist and Diregraf Captain, only losing to a deck that was just a little bit quicker than mine.

Pulse 2) Load file: LINK

I'm constantly looking for ways to tweak decks, especially if it has something to do with the flavor.  If you all recall, I have an EDH deck based around The Legend of Zelda.  I have just this week decided to make two 'groups' of changes.

If you recall, before deciding that (despite her lack of a legendary super-type) Dawnray Archer makes the best Zelda in the deck, I was debating between Thada Adel, Inquisitor and Elspeth, Knight-Errant.  I'm bringing this up because Elspeth has been re-introduced to the deck, along with Tamiyo, the Moon Sage and Nissa Revane (yes... Nissa).  Why these three?  Well...  we have a courageous knight, a wise moonfolk, and a ... powerful... elf...?  Ok, the last one needs a bit more explaining, but I'll get to that in a second.  For those of you familiar with the origins of the Tri-Force, you know that it was created by three goddess: Farore, Goddess of Courage, Nayru, Goddess of Wisdom, and Din, Goddess of Power.

I wanted to include Elspeth because she powers up Link/Rafiq so well, but I had to find a way to make her fit the flavor.  The fact that she's a planeswalker makes her a unique being in the universe.  From there my brain slowly came to the thought of "what if the planeswalkers were confused for gods?  Hmmm... what gods are in the LoZ unive-OH MY GOD!"  From there it because a snap decision to include Elspeth and Tamiyo, two perfect embodiments of Courage and Wisdom (yes, Tamiyo... not Jace.  They're goddesses don't forget)...  and then I got to Power... with the only female green planeswalker... Nissa... Revane.  *sigh*

>.>  <.<  >.>  Ok...  has everyone who hates Nissa and think she's totally useless left?  Good.  If you're still here, then you win the prize and get to see how I reasoned my way into a new found appreciation for this elf-chick.  I wasn't too happy with it at first, but then I thought about it... and thought about... and realized how she embodies Power is by giving you a creature every turn, searching out her Chosen (2/2 that puts itself on the bottom of your library whenever he dies, so you can search him out again), and then Limit Breaking out into multiple creatures.  In my "world view" of Hyrule that I created, Power deals with creature power (and toughness), so she actually fits perfectly.

The other big change in flavor is I have finally found my "four" (actually three) giants from the Majora's Mask game.  I'll back up for a second though to talk about something else: the Fierce-Diety Mask.  This item was chosen for me by a member of The Mana Pool forums.  Eldrazi Conscription is an aura that SCREAMS Fierce-Diety Mask, and if you look closely, it is actually a Tribal Enchantment - Eldrazi.  I kick myself for not realizing it before, but that was perfect.  The Eldrazi have the scale and awe needed for giants that can [spoiler (highlight to read)]hold up the moon[/spoiler].

Pulse 3) Game Day

I'm skipping FNM next week to hit a haunted theme park with Jas (Casual Daze maybe?).  However, Saturday is Game Day, so my CGC next week will be a look at how my Deadeye Control deck does after making some tweaks to it (assuming I can make it to the tournament)

Ok.  I think that's enough.  I spent a lot more space/time on the Link EDH flavor than I was expecting, but you know how I get with flavor.  It excites me and I just can't stop once I get started.  I'm exhausted though, so I am going to leave it at this.  Next weeks CGC will be up on Saturday or Sunday (i.e. definitely not Friday night like I have been trying to do), so I will see you then, if not sooner.