Monday, May 21, 2012

[JT] Blender: #T'sBB, FNM/LR, and more M:tG

Soooooooo... I got a little lazy this week and haven't posted at all.  There also wasn't that much that I wanted to talk about.  So instead, I decided to kick off another series of posts on here: Blender.  This'll pop up whenever I don't have anything to say for a while.  I'll just post little blurbs on things that have happened that I want to talk about, but don't quite warrant a full post.  So, without further ado...

Pulse 1) #ToonamisBackBitches

Yeah... that's right...  it's back.  On the 26th (ok, 12:00 on the 27th if you want to be technical), Toonami will be making a return to the Saturday Adult Swim block.  This is huge news for me personally.  Back when it was on its first run (TOM 1.0-2.0), Toonami was THE place for me.  Because of how important Toonami was to me growing up, I wanted to give this piece of news its own post, but when I went to type it up, I just found myself blanking.  The programming schedule was released earlier today.  Check it and some other info out here on Anime News Network.

Pulse 2) FNM and Limited Resources (M:tG)

Like every Friday, I went to FNM, and just like every Friday, I went lackluster.  I always end up building a deck that seems to make it to the mid- to late-game, but can never quite close it out.  I have however come to realize over the past few weeks that I LOVE playing sealed and drafting.  Because of which, I started listening to the Limited Resources podcast.  Listening to just a few of their more recent episodes (the Avacyn Restored ones to be more specific), I feel like I can build a stronger deck this coming FNM.  Their in-depth analysis of each card and how it will (or does) perform in sealed is extremely enlightening and helpful.  Check them out.  I'll also be doing another post soon (maybe next) about other great sources of Magic information and entertainment.

Pulse 3) Game Day and deck tests (M:tG)

With Game Day coming up, I'm constantly going over deck ideas in the back of my mind (I am literally losing sleep over this).  I have three decks that I want to test out against each other.  Even as I write this, I'm going over decklists in the back of my mind and tweaking and retweaking combos.   I actually JUST thought of a new deck idea/variation.

I think I'll wrap it up here.  3 pulses.  My brain is in rough chunks I guess.  Let's see how jumbled up it is next time.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

[JT] The CGC: My Monsunos... Let Me Show You Them

Another day, another post.  Today I am kicking off another semi-regular series here on NerdPop: The Card Game Corner (a.k.a. CGC).  If you're asking what I mean by "another" series, the first was the anime reviews that I kicked off with Gundam AGE earlier in the week.  What's the title of that series? I'm not sure yet, but I'll have it decided by the next time it comes around.

But I digress.  I tend to do that a lot apparently.  Today, we are focusing on one (if not my single most) favorite hobbies: children's card games (I'll be TRYING to keep tired and cliched internet references to a minimum, but sometimes they just fit too perfectly too avoid ,,v. ~_^).  Through out my life, I have had many interests that come and go (and most just come again within a few months' time).  However the one constant interest of mine has been card games.  I've dabbled in a multitude of different games and would like to think that I am fairly knowledgeable in the T/CCG universe (but I am by no means an encyclopedia).  So for CGC, I will be talking about games new and old, giving my own insight into the games and reviewing them to some degree.

Airswitch, from the Core-Tech Manufacturer. Photo credit: Jas
This time around, I'll be talking about Monsuno (, a new IP from JAKKS Pacific that involves action figures, a cartoon series on NickToons, and a card game (I wouldn't be talking about it here if it didn't).  My friend, Jas (who you all will be meeting soon), and I took some time and tried out the card game and discovered that it takes a LONG time to get through the game despite it's simplicity, but I'm getting a head of myself.

Monsuno is simple game.  There are three factions, or Manufacturers, that the cards fall into: Core-Tech (blue), S.T.O.R.M. (yellow), and Eklipse (red).  Each have their own characteristics and traits in the game (for example, Core-Tech is more strategic and reactive than S.T.O.R.M., which likes to be aggressive and proactive).  The beautiful thing about this game is that their starter kits (which only cost $13 I might add) contain two decks, each of a different Manufacturer, as well as a booster to begin to "customize" your decks right away.  Jas and I picked the Core-Tech vs. S.T.O.R.M. kit.  After spending some time to read up and practice the game on my own, we met up, shuffled up, and I showed her the ropes.  Here's how it broke down.

Our hands, sprawled out on the table. Photo credit: Jas
Each deck comes with three Monsunos, the creatures of the game's namesake.  They start in "The Clip".  I like to think of it as the PokeBall that all the Monsuno live in.  (Yes.  If you couldn't tell by the name of this CGC, the Pokemon CCG is the closest game with which to compare the Monsuno TCG.)  Each player begins with their three Monsuno face up on the table, in The Clip zone.  After shuffling up the deck of  Strike cards, you randomly decide who goes first.  In our game, Jas went first, and we each drew our five card opening hand.  Since I was showing her the game, we played with our hands face up on the table so I could show her what to do and help her make decisions.

During the course of one turn, the active player is allowed to make one of three actions: (1) Move, (2) Attack, or (3) Recover.  (1) moves one of your Monsuno from the Clip to the Battlefield.  In order to move the Monsuno, the player must discard Strike cards who have a "Launch" value (printed on the card) that total or exceed the Launch requirement of the respective Monsuno.
The Launch requirement is highlighted by the red box.  Image from official site.

(2) allows a player to Attack with a (non-"tired", more on this in a bit) Monsuno, choosing either an opponents Monsuno also on the Battlefield or, if there are no such Monsuno, one of their Monsuno still in the Clip.  To battle, both players draw a Strike card and select one from their hand and place it face down on the battlefield.  Once both players have chosen, the cards are revealed and battle damage is calculated accordingly (this requires determining which Strike "dominates" the other.  For more info on this, see the rulebook on the game's website).  After damage is calculated and the battle itself is completed, the players have the option of attaching the Strike card they just used to the Monsuno it was was used with.  In addition to be the main source of strategy, the purpose of attaching is two fold.

The empowered basic damage and it's requirements.
Monsuno begin with a basic damage value which tend to be relatively low.  However, they have a stronger basic damage that can be "unlocked" with two Strike cards being attached, one that matches each of two corresponding Strike-types depicted on the Monsuno itself.  It's reminiscent of attaching energies to a Pokemon.  As a matter of fact, there were multiple times where Jas and I actually referred to the six Strike types as the color-corresponding energy types.  The other benefit to attaching the Strike cards is that some of them Upgrade the Monsuno, either increasing their speed or unlocking abilities.  Here is where the main strategy comes in: whether or not you want to attach the Strike to unlock the empowered basic damage, or hold out for an Upgrade as well.

Once a Monsuno battles with another, both Monsuno become tired.  We likened this to being tapped, like in Magic: The Gathering.  They also return to the Clip after battling.  (3) allows a player to refill his or her hand to five, as well as resting (untapping) their Monsuno [Note: there is an action known as a Free Recover, that a player is allowed to perform whenever one of their Monsuno's Hit Points drop to 0 and is defeated].  After performing one of these actions, the turn ends and the other player takes his or her turn.

One thing you may have noticed is that in none of the possible actions is there room for a player to play a new Monsuno.  That is because the starting three Monsuno a player uses are the ONLY Monsuno in the game being played.  There are no other Monsuno in the deck (as a matter of fact, Monsuno themselves have a black card back, while Strike cards have white).  Thus, the turn order and game proceed until one player has defeated all three of his or her opponent's Monsuno.

Jas's field.  Photo credit: Jas
While playing, I realized that it did not take Jas long to pick up on the game.  After a few turns of explaining the moves she or I were making and the reasoning behind them, she began to make moves and decisions both on her own and before I could even coach her.  Despite getting the hang of the game and not having to take as long with explanations, it still took us almost an entire hour to finish ONE game. "This game was developed by moms who wanted to keep their kids occupied for a looong time," as Jas put it.

The game itself though is very simple to pick up, and if we had played a few more times to get the strategies down a little bit more solidly, the games might have picked up the pace a bit.  If you are looking for a new, cheap game to try out, Monsuno is a nice place to start, especially if it is your first foray into card gaming.  However, if you are an experienced gamer, and like something that requires a bit more strategy and skill, I suggest avoiding it for something a bit more in depth.

One thing I'd like to note before signing off: If you remember, I put quotes around the customization that the added booster pack in the starter kit allows.  The reason there are quotes is because the decks are a little skimpy on cards right out of the box, so they are not actually legal, but still perfectly suited to give you a feel for the game.

That's the end of my turn.  You're move.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

[JT] NerdPop: The Seconding ... what?

So.  Time for the second post, so SURELY it's going to be my introductory post, right?  That would make perfect sense...

Yeah, no.  Not happening.  As a matter of fact, I don't think I will be doing an introduction post at all.  Instead, you'll be getting bits and pieces of me throughout my posts.  My co-authors will get introductions (What? Co-authors?), but since I'll be at the helm of this nerd ship, I'll have the most chances to really let myself show through my posts.  On that note, let me give you you're second piece of information about me:  I am a Gundam whore.

Yes.  I eat up anything Gundam.  I love every series and build Gunpla.  It's amazing.  As a matter of fact, it's Gundam that makes me want to go into engineering instead of chemistry and physics.  But I digress.  What I am going to talk about today is a particular incarnation of Gundam; more specifically Gundam AGE.

Right off the bat, I will say this: in ANY anime review NerdPop does, we will try and keep spoilers to an absolute minimum.  Since Gundam AGE is still showing in Japan, this means two things: some spoilers are potentially unavoidable and I am speaking from unofficial subs.  Ok, 4th paragraph and I'm still not talking about the series... Let's get into this...

Gundam AGE starts out like most Gundam series, an invading force launches an attack against the Earth (or it's equivalent at the time) and a young boy stumbles across a secret prototype mobile suit known as a a Gundam and proceeds to own the invaders even though it's his first time in the suit (or any suit what so ever).  The twist in THIS series is that our protagonist, Flit Asuno (our Amuro or main protagonist), actually designed the Gundam himself (he comes from a long line of mobile suit designers, who in the past had designed the first Gundam prototypes of their timeline, which happens to be Advanced Generation, or A.G.  Get it?  A.G.?  EiGi (in the Japanese phonetic)? AGe?).

As with every Gundam incarnation, there has to be a gimmick to the Gundam AGE-1, and in this series, it is the AGE-system, which collects real time data from the battlefield to create new weapons and armaments for the Gundam on the fly (think the Strike packs from Gundam: SEED, but only more customizable from battle to battle).  This is a nice way of allowing the Gundam to constantly evolve (which is how it is described in the series), but also kind of a cop out because it allows the Gundam to win every battle.  However, this is balanced out by the time for the system to analyze the data and develop the weapons (a nice way to prevent the Kira-esque beatdown that SEED is known for) to battle the reptile-like mobile suits that the Vagan forces (the bad guys of this series. A.K.A. Zeon).  Sounds like we have all the makings of a typical Gundam, series from here on out, right?

Wrong.  15 episodes in and the series does something that the other series never do until their sequel series: they pull a [spoiler (highlight to read):] 25 year time jump and rotate half the cast (This is known as Generation Two).  We see the return of much more mature characters from Generation One, as well as Flit's son, Asemu (G2's Amuro) as the pilot of the Gundam AGE-2.  Generation Two is also when we are introduced to our masked antagonist (Char) of the series: Zeheart, and anyone who knows the relationship between Amuro and Char knows that these two will be the focus of the series..[/spoiler].  This gimmick for the series occurs one more time, switching from G2 to G3.  Now, if you don't want to read the spoiler, it's not a big deal.  There isn't anything MAJOR in there, just a few small details about the back half of the first season.  However, if you watch the next episode previews, you will hear the narrator say: "Three destinies will form history."  This along with the name of the series gives you a hint as to what is going to happen.

Having watched all of the episodes so far, I must say I really love the series.  The gimmick of the series actually works really well.  It allows the show to be more fast paced and action packed (no flashback episodes like SEED).  My only problem with this set up is that we don't have as much development as other series.  Conversely though, we don't have all of the frivolous development of the characters that don't really matter to the story (I'm looking at you Sai... Thinking you can steal Kira's Gundam just because he stole your woman).  I would really love to see how this format can be applied to the original U.C. Timeline (G1 being Gundam 0079, with G2 and 3 as Zeta, and Char's Counterattack, respectively).

I'm going to hold judgment about whether or not the show is worth seeing through to the end until we actually finish G3, but I definitely think the series is worth checking out just for the new way of telling the story that it presents.  Once the series is completed, I'll probably revisit this review and give a bit more insight into the series as a whole, as opposed to just a summary.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

[JT] Introductions and Farewell

The first of anything should be prolific, or at least a point from which you can launch yourself into future occurrences.  So for the first post of this blog, I was trying to figure out what would be the best way to start things off.  There are the ubiquitous introductions I could perform; who I am, where I'm from, what I'll be talking about in here.  All well and good, and I was ready to sit down and type out some frivolous little "Get to Know Me"... until I got a piece of news...

Kevin Pereira is leaving Attack of the Show at the end of May.  Now, you may be asking yourself "Who [or what] is this guy talking about?"  I'm talking about the man who has been my inspiration for doing something like this.  KP has been with G4TV for 10 years now (he said so himself. ) and has been hosting Attack of the Show (arguably G4's flagship program) from the beginning.  Despite not having AOTS for a few years now (from a mix of being away at college and Dish Network no longer providing G4 to their customers), I have been an avid fan of the show since I first found it in '05/'06.  The hosts and the news they provide is presented in a way that is so enjoyable, so entertaining, that it drew me in.  I was hooked after the first episode.

Since then, there have bee a slew of revamps and refreshing of the show, its set, and its hosts, and each time the show went through a reincarnation, it came out looking better and more polished than its last cycle.  The one constant of AOTS (at least from a viewer's POV) has been KP.  Whether it's "Cottage Cheese Thighs", fat suits, bikinis, or hot sauce shots, he has done nothing but provide entertainment to the viewers.  To me though, he has done more than just host the show.  KP has been my inspiration and my idol from the very start.  It was because of him that I started the predecessor of this blog (the twitter account @NerdPop140), and now the blog itself.  It was because of him that I found the courage to start trying to report on all the nerd events and happenings that will be the focus of this blog.  His on screen charisma and all around obvious enjoyment for what he is doing, what he is talking about, shows that you can take what you love and make something of it; whether it be on a large scale (AOTS) or a small scale (my blog).   Without KP, I wouldn't be here.

So this is my thank you and farewell to Mr. Pereira; for entertaining me for all these years, for informing me all these years, and for enlightening and inspiring me for all these years.  Even though it doesn't mean much coming from someone like me, I wish him the best of luck, and I'm eager to see what he does next because there is no doubt in my mind that he will continue to be the man that shows me just what you can do when you do what you love.