Monday, May 16, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

GoT - Hold Your Khalasar!


Hatch already!

In anticipation of Alex's and Luke's visit this week, I will not be posting a response to the Game of Thrones episode Sunday, because I haven't seen it. I am saving it to watch with the aforementioned losers. Stay-tuned for a blockbuster double-episode post next Tuesday.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Road Trip

Hey everyone, I will still be MIA all week, as Luke and I are driving up to Santa Cruz to run around the forest some and then hop over to San Francisco to visit Zach and Mele.




I'll do some real posts next week I swear.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

GoT - The Song of Arya and Arya Series



Another note: I've been rather melodramatic in my responses to the goods and bads of the series thus far. So much so that Mele finds it outside of my character to develop such strong emotions for a series that thus far can best be summed up by the word Boring. The answer to this is simple: when Josh originally lent me A Game of Thrones in 1996, it quickly became my favorite fantasy series, and Josh and I counted down the days until the sequel, A Clash of Kings, came out in 1998. With each new book, I reread the previous books, and this continued for each ensuing sequel, to this day, as we all await A Dance of Dragons (and if you're keeping score at home, yes, I have read A Game of Thrones over five times). There's something about being there from the start, for sure, and while Martin was winning awards for the The Song of Ice and Fire series, it wasn't until 2011 that it reached a best seller list. But the main reason, at the time, was that I was reading these books that were told mostly from the points of view of children my age. As a fantasy nerd whose dream was to write fantasy novels, I emailed George R. R. Martin, and he responded to my questions, and this obviously meant a lot to me - enough that there is a piece of me invested in the show whether I am enjoying it or not.

The Good
  • The main subject of those emails was Jon Snow, because Jon Snow was a boy my age. The Jon Snow in the HBO series is a bit on the older side, but I find myself still being drawn to him. Last episode I expressed concerns that his presence wouldn't be able to buoy the scenes at The Wall, but so far, aside from way too much foreshadowing about spookiness, I found the scenes at The Wall to be rather enjoyable. However: where's Ghost?

  • Of course, the best moments of the last two episodes belong to Arya, and I don't see that changing. She just makes you smile, which is exactly when she did in the books, and it will be interesting to see how much of that adorableness she is able to maintain as her character progresses. That said, Syrio the Dance Master will always maintain his adorableness.

  • Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish is cast perfectly. Maybe that has to do with him already being a politician in my head from The Wire, but either way, both him and Varys (one of my favorite characters) are looking to be pretty awesome and accurate portrayals of key characters in King's Landing, and that's vital. (My only problem here is that Littlefinger seems to be getting more screen time that I would have guessed appropriate.)

  • I think Eddard/Sean Bean has improved in episode three. All he really needs to do is be worried about Robert, annoyed at politicians, and earnest about fatherhood, and he'll fill the bill. The scenes with Arya should go a long way to make him a tad more likable, which would be good for the show in general. (They could stand to go easier on the Petyr/Cat/Ned triangle.)

The Bad
  • This episode took a step back in quality, and I kind of know why. We arrive in King's Landing, and all of a sudden audiences are introduced to a whole bunch of new people (yay Renly!) and scenarios, and this has got to be disorienting for those of us who haven't read the book half a dozen times. Because of that, the first fifteen minutes of the episode is full of fake dialogue that would never actually be said. The characters are used as puppets for the writers to summarize things for the audience and I'm not really sure this is the way to go about it. And not all of the actors can make "Hey remember when we had a mad king" comments look as real and engaging as Mark Addy.

  • I have to pause a moment to shake my head at Joffrey. The development of his character isn't all that inaccurate, though he's showing signs of being a little more evil than seems realistic. But it all goes down the drain because Joffrey is supposed to be, on a superficial level, prince valiant. He's supposed to be this beyond-handsome teenager on his way to becoming a paragon of royalty. Doofusface is changing Joffrey's identity by simply looking like a Doofusface.

  • Meanwhile, back with the Dothraki... Dany is becoming a little easier to root for, but the whole setup is just so hard to grasp. So much of Dany's story in the books requires her inner monologue and interaction between herself, her brother and the knight. The show is pressed for time, so instead of showing Dany slowly gain confidence and win over her subjects, they decide, hey, let's have her stop the caravan all of a sudden and sum up months with just one scene. Effective, I guess. Are there better, more subtle ways to deal with this? I think so.

Episode 3: C-.. I am still very excited to see The Hand's Tourney, and to be introduced to all of those characters. I think it would be awesome if the show spent an entire episode on the Tourney in King's Landing and ignored Dany, Winterfell and Jon Snow until the following episode, to allow time to pass in those storylines.

Monday, May 2, 2011

FINALS WEEK

I am in finals this week!!!!!! Yayayayayay!


But seriously, this means that I won't be posting all week. I realize my posts have slowed down greatly recently, but that was mainly because most of my classes have papers due on the final and I was trying to get those out of the way. Anyways, thanks Zach, Marvin, and Josh for helping me fill me some downtime lately. I'll write a detailed report of how my first semester of grad school went next week. I'm out for now.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Top Ten EDH/Commander Cards From New Phyrexia

I wanted to take a break from my favorite cards series (even though its almost done) to talk a little bit about New Phyrexia, since this set is pretty amazing. I'm going to be writing about the set in the context of EDH since thats the format that most of the readers here who care about Magic play pretty exclusively at this point.

For those of you who don't know, New Phyrexia was spoiled in its entirely like a month in advance before its release because some pros got a copy of a pdf containing every card in the set in order to write about it for a paper magazine (I don't know why paper Magic magazines even exist considering they are usually outdated by the time they hit the press but I digress). Anyways, these very well known French Pros decided to share it with a couple of people in their test group, one of which happened to be this arrogant teenager who just made it onto the pro circuit. This guy ended up sharing it on an IRC chat room in order to gain some e-penis and now we all have the spoiler. All of the guys involved with the leak are now banned from playing in tournaments for a long time. Anyways, onto the list:


10. Life's Finale: Black has a bunch of relatively situational or expensive wrath effects that make its mass removal options a little bit dicey at times. This card gives black another good wrath, and since I doubt highly it will see any relevant tournament play, this card will be worth like a dollar, meaning its a cheap alternative to those of us who can't afford things like Damnation.


9. Sword of War and Peace: The swords have all been centerpieces to aggressive EDH decks, and this one is no different. Its abilities are only alright (although hitting with it while someone has over seven cards in their hand can be pretty devastating), however the protections it offers are extremely relevant, since both of those colors are heavy in spot removal.


8. Jor Kadeen: He is a pretty obvious 'build around me' general, and I like him better for aggressive red/white decks than some of that color combination's other options. Why couldn't this guy be a knight? My Knight deck can use a better general than Sidar Jibari.


7. Elesh Norn: Here is another sexy white general introduced in this set. She single handedly shuts down entire strategies (tokens) and generals (like Azusa and Azami) as soon as she hits the board. Even though she shuts down tokens and aggressive strategies pretty well, she actually has a decent home in those kinds of decks since they can benefit from her huge creature boosting ability.


6. Praetor's Grasp: This deck should go into most black decks, even if you are mono black. If your opponent isn't playing your colors, you can still grab a good land or artifact from them. Stealing people's Cabal Coffers, Sol Rings, and Swords out of their decks is good times.


5. Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur: This guy is just hilarious, and Wizards already stated that he was made with EDH in mind. You wouldn't necessarily use this guy as a general, as you would generate about the same amount of hate as using Iona would. Regardless, its still another gigantic blue spell that can end the game as soon as it lands, much like Time Stretch.


4. Chancellor of the Spires: All of the Chancellors are quite good in EDH, but blue gets the best one. Ignore his first ability, its garbage. Instead just realize that he is a memory plunder on a nice body. Memory Plunder is already one of the best cards in EDH, and putting the ability on a creature, even an expensive one, is going to be easy to abuse. If your opponent has something like Rite of Replication in his graveyard when you cast this, then congrats, you just got yourself infinite 5/7 fliers. Fun times.


3. Sexy Karn: His first and third abilities are more cute than anything, since restarting the game in EDH seems like a good way to get punched in the face. His main draw comes from his second ability, which allows every color to have access to a double Vindicate. This block gave Black and Red so many ways to get rid of enchantments its not even funny.


2. Caged Sun: This is a one sided Gauntlet of Power, and Gauntlet of Power is already an auto include in every mono colored EDH deck. Its safe to say that Caged Sun will also make its way into every mono colored (or mostly mono colored) EDH decks. Its power level should be obvious.


1. Beast Within: Green gets an instant speed Vindicate in this set ... ummm WTF. Now, green can nuke anything it wants! Whenever it wants! Its drawback is basically negligible in a multi-player format where everyone starts at 40 life. Throw these in every green deck ASAP.

Honorable Mentions: Phyrexian Ingester, Phyrexian Obliterator, Melira (for her interactions with Persist), Sheoldred, Moltensteel Dragon, Slag Fiend, and Brutalizer Exarch.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

FUCK-YOU-KEN!




Well, here it goes, my first post on this blog. I said I would eventually make a post about Street Fighter, and now seems like the perfect time to do it. Way too much Swords-and-Sorcery kind of fantasy going on around here, and not enough Feng-Shui kind of fantasy. You know what I’m talking about. HA-DOU-KEN!, that’s what. Before I get into the meat of the thing, I want to say that the main focus of this article will be on Street Fighter IV. Sorry, I ain’t acquainted with the parry system. Henceforth, every time Street Fighter is written in this article, replace it with Street Fighter IV (sorry, my legal writing has gotten a bit rusty since Shadowloo fired me from their unpaid intern position.)

Anyways, to put it simply, Street Fighter is a strategy game wherein two players control an avatar in a two-dimensional plane. Each selectable avatar has a set of multiple options for attack/defense that are unique to the avatar itself. These individual differences mean that each avatar must play with a different strategy against every other avatar. For example: A player who chooses “Ken” can win with fireballs, but using that strategy, cannot win against “Ryu”, whose fireballs are slightly faster. Sounds simple, but for me, it’s been a lifelong learning process. Here’s the concise timeline:

As a child, I always chose Ryu. Why? Because fuck Ken! Not only was my rival about six feet tall in the second grade, he knew how to do a dragon punch! My simple mind couldn’t comprehend the difference between DOWN-RIGHT-FIERCE and CHEAP!





Fast-forward to middle school. New places, new friends. Being raped by Ken taught me a few things. I laughed like Sagat every time I showed Zach his place.







Blur into college. WTF Zach, my new(old) rival (read:punching bag) somehow can beat me at 3rd strike? Must be the Asians.

Canfield haha I didn’t even know what a tech throw was.

And then I came here, the Land of the Dojos(aka smoke-filled arcades). One dollar at a time I attempted to beat these masters, only to realize I was nothing. Neither the length of my beard nor the height of the mountains from whence I came made any difference. I still lost to the subtly changed Hadouken-Hadouken-Shoryuken! strategy from before. Then I got mad. Psycho Science is the best science...





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