Monday, March 28, 2011


Some of these are from the week before, since I didn't post a news compilation last week.

Dragon Age 2 dev caught rating his own game on Metacritic.

On a more positive note though, a Dragon Age 2 Dev owns some pissed off straight guy with regards the game's sexuality options.

The 3DS is officially out now! I might want one in the future, but for now I have too many games to play already.

More Skyrim information!!!

Nazi Dinos!!!!!!!!!!

On Women and Magic: the Gathering.

William's Institute announces its new teaching fellow!

DOMA repeal is now officially underway. Granted, it will probably take years to undo if it even gets done at all.

"Girouex allegedly said as a youth pastor he felt it was his duty “to help (the teen) with homosexual urges by praying while he had sexual contact with him.”

New Study reveals a possible cause of RLS

Friday, March 25, 2011

4th Edition Review

Gamers as a whole are slow to embrace change. Whenever there is a sequel to a game that differs markedly from the original, there is always an uproar. So its no surprise that when Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition came out, it didn't get received well. Thats not to say that people absolutely hated it, but there were tons of people who continued to just play 3.5. Is 4th edition really that bad? Not really, but I wasn't a huge fan when I tried it.

Now, I'm by no means an expert on 4th edition. I ran a campaign that lasted a whole two adventures. I was going to wait to write this until after I had some more experience under my belt, but since Jason still hasn't started his online campaign, I decided to just do it now.

- The game is easier to learn. 4th edition is pretty heavily influenced by WoW (it even categorizes the classes by Tank, DPS, AoE, and Healer), which means anyone who has any experience playing an MMO can pick up 4th edition rather easily.

- The game has more options for classes and races. With just the first two players handbooks, you have like 30+ classes to choose from.

- The game uses a grid system exclusively, and spells and abilities often alter people's position on the grid system. This makes combat a bit more interesting since there is more movement on the battlefield, and its easier for the players to visualize.

- Encounters are easier for the DM to design. In addition to this, a lot of monsters are classified as Minions, which all have 1 hp. This makes swarms a lot easier to manage for the DM while still being relatively challenging for the PCs.

- The game is better supported. Wizards is constantly making minor balance changes and errata to the game. 

- Characters at level 1 are more sturdy and more powerful. Wizards won't just die to a lucky enemy critical like they would in 3.5.

- There are less ways to build classes. For example, in the Player's Handbook, it tells you that you can build a trickster rogue or a brawny rogue. All of the rogue powers fit into one of those two rogue archetypes. So while there are more classes to choose from, you are more limited in what you can do within each class.

- All classes get special powers now. For fighters, they manifest themselves as unique combat tricks. The problem is, you almost never make a regular melee attack because of this. You are almost always using a special power in some way or another. JSJ griped that his Fighter just felt like he was playing a wizard.

- Powers really make the game feel like your playing an MMORPG. During the game, most players just used the same powers over and over again. It really did feel like Jules' character was yelling out "Starstorm! Starstorm!" every time she casted. She might as well have been saying "Hot stuff coming your way!" (to get that reference, go here

- Non combat spells are now rituals, and casters only get a small amount of them. No longer can you make an interesting non-combat wizard/sorc. Your basically stuck just being a blaster wizard if you want to go magic, and I honestly can't tell the difference between all of the magic using classes anymore because of this.

- Since all enemies and PCs have increased HP, combat takes longer ... much longer. The introduction of minions helps this out a little bit, but not enough. 

- Character all having healing surges now. Healing surges are powers you can expend to gain by a small percentage of hit points, and all characters get multiples of these a day. The problem I felt, is that it makes the game too easy for the PCs. I had them enter a dungeon filled with traps that did high damage, only to just have them shrug off every trap using healing surges. Characters get all of their healing surges back with just a days rest, so unless you have them fight encounter after encounter, the PCs will never get challenged. 

Final Verdict: I wasn't too impressed with 4th edition. I think this is mostly because of my D&D playstyle. From the player's perspective, I like the freedom to do funky stuff with my characters and I like interesting non combat spells. 4th edition takes away both of those joys away from me. From the DM's perspective, I like my combat encounters to have a storyline purpose, and because of that I don't like to have too many encounters in a single adventure. Healing surges discourage this kind of DMing strategy, as the PCs were never once challenged in my adventures because of this. I do enjoy that they make things easier to run a campaign. I didn't have to flip through the book looking for obscure rules all the time. Overall, while I appreciate the changes they made in this edition, I just don't think the system is a fit for me.

On that note, I may have found that is: Pathfinder. I'll save my Pathfinder explanation for a different post, but its basically 3.75 edition. It took a lot of the things that made 4th edition awesome (like easy to create encounters and sturdier characters) but kept the game in a basic 3rd edition shell. Expect a Pathfinder review in the near future.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Music Nerds Are Nerds Too!

Long before I was ever a "gaymer," I was a music nerd; band geek, choir kid, and, perhaps most weirdly, a music chart enthusiast.

In fifth grade, I was given my first alto saxophone. In sixth grade, I sang a solo during the school Christmas play as the character of the "Christmas Bunny" (complete with home-sewn pink Bunny costume). That year I was also selected as one of four from Blennerhassett Elementary School to be in the West Virginia All-State Children's Chorus (during which my voice decided it was time to change). In junior high, I played alto sax in both concert and jazz bands, and created quite the school "controversy" when I skipped a state competition in protest of the band teacher's perceived tyrannical teaching methods (for which I received detention). In high school, I was a member of concert choir, chamber choir, and concert choir, and was the section leader of the alto saxophone section in marching band. (Yes, Zach, I had to attend every high school football game for two straight years). I decorated my saxophone accordingly for various holiday parades (tinsel, ornaments, stickers, etc.), pretended that
the cape on my band uniform was a real cape (which was amazing during our field performance of Phantom of the Opera), reveled in every second of the amazing experience that was week-long summer band camp, ate lunch every day with the choir teacher in the choir room, performed with fellow choir members in a choreographed (and costumed) rendition of a Sister Act music medley for the high school talent show, and traveled to Toronto and various West Virginia towns for an assortment of competitions and performances. The summer after graduation, seven friends and I formed an octet singing group called Messa D'Voce, and we sang at various functions around town on the weekends (sometimes for money!). And during my first year of college, I was a member of the WVU Choir.


Okay, now on to what I really want to talk about: my inexplicable love for musical categorization, organization, and pop knowledge.

The year was 1997. I was thirteen years old, living in Washington, West Virginia, and was woefully closeted. Given these then present realities, I spent a lot of time lost in thought/my own fantasy world. I've never liked total silence, which is probably somehow anxiety related, and I existed perpetually in a space in which music was playing in the background. Then, as now, I went through phases in which I would latch onto a particular decade or genre and absorb all there was to absorb. My earliest years were strongly influenced by '50s and '60s doo-wop, late '60s British Invasion/Hippie pop, and Motown girl groups. As I transitioned into my teen years, I "discovered" the '80s, and hence New Wave.

And then, in 1997, as Lilith Fair female folk rock was blowing up on the radio, I discovered VH1 (which apparently loved this genre). This was also around the time that my house "got" the internet, and I soon stumbled across this strange land of online music charts as I was looking for stuff by whom I can only now assume was Sarah McLachlan or Paula Cole. Inexplicably, I was instantly jealous. I wanted my own online music chart. And so I made one. Embarrassingly, the best that my thirteen-year-old self could come up with was Luke Sounds.

It started out as a pen-and-paper chart that I would sit down and compile once a week. In its initial incarnation, it was a weekly top 10 that included few rules regarding which songs were eligible to chart. But as the chart aged, I imposed certain qualifications: namely, only proper single releases could chart (since that's how Billboard was doing it at the time), and no songs that had been released more than a year prior could enter the chart as a "debut" (unless of course the song had been re-released by the artist or label). I kept accurate records for every pen-and-paper chart, and compiled year-end lists based on the points that each song received per year: each week, the #1 song would receive 20 points, the #2 would receive 19 points, the #20 song would receive 1 point, etc. Once the chart went online, this became much easier to keep track of, and I started compiling records based on artists, years, and even all-time rankings. I kept the chart updated, every week, for twelve years until it unofficially died on May 20, 2009 -- not coincidentally, at around the same time that I was bouncing around from coast to coast trying to figure out what to do with my life. I guess Alex trumped charting!

BUT IT DOESN'T END THERE. Now that my passion for music charting has decidedly died, a different obsessive-compulsive music disorder has taken over. I have an incessant need to create itunes playlists, organized by genre, decade, artist, general "feeling" (e.g. Sugar Sweet Happiness) year, favorites by decade, favorites by genre, all-time favorites . . . it goes on. I can't help myself. And worse, I've become a quality snob about the music that I have stored. I love pirating music, and will now only accept songs that have a bitrate of 320 (maximum quality).

Confession time: since Alex started school in January, I've spent almost every single night organizing my music as per the method above. I'm sick, and I need help. The good news, however, is that I have tons of amazing stuff. I just made an '80s/'90s House playlist this weekend, and I'm working on finishing up '90s Groove and DON'T BE TARDY FOR DA PARTY (which is, obviously, my hip-hop and rap playlist, and, more hilariously, was already started for me when I bought the ipod used at a record shop).

So now you all know. I used to be embarrassed about this odd hobby, but I've come to accept it as just another facet to my increasingly nerdy life. Thank you, blogosphere! Finally, it's happened to me. Right in front of my face and I just cannot hide it.

Favorite Magic Cards of All Time: Instants

Today, we're only going to go over ten instants. Most of these are blue, which makes sense since blue gets all of the good ones. Again, these are in alphabetical order, since ordering them by favorites would be very hard for me. At the end, I'll still pick my #1 instant just like I did sorceries. Lets get on with it:

Capsize: Buyback is a pretty polarizing mechanic. Cards with buyback either suck because they are over costed, or are super powerful. Capsize falls in the latter category. I have fond memories of getting infinite mana and bouncing back everyone else's permanents to their hands (although I'm sure they don't quite view the situation quite as fondly). Even if you aren't doing anything sick like that, its still a top notch blue defensive spell. If you're on the receiving end of a capsize, trying to play around is almost impossible, and you often are resorted to killing your own creature in response just so that the capsize gets countered and they can't buy it back. By the way, if you don't have capsize in your blue EDH decks you're doing it wrong.

Constant Mists: Continuing our theme of annoying buyback cards, we come to Constant Mists. You would think the buyback on this card would make it unplayable, but you really want this card in the late game, when you have a bunch of excess lands you aren't doing anything with anyways. Its so hard for an aggro deck to try to win through a constant mists once you get it going, and you'll usually be able to kill them before you run out of lands to pay for the buyback. Unlike capsize, there is nothing your opponent can do to play around it short of countering it. As with capsize, this card should be in your EDH decks if it can. 

Fire/Ice: Once upon a time, Alex Gord had me redo a blue/red deck of his, and I changed it to this weird Counterburn deck that had 4 Fire/Ice and 4 Prophetic Bolt. The deck was a blast to play, but to my surprise at the time, Fire/Ice was the best card in the deck. It may not look like much, but theres never a situation where it isn't useful and I was almost always glad to draw it. Its been in my U/R decks ever since. Also, its a fun card to imprint onto Isochron Scepter.

Firestorm: This card is more of a shout out to Josh than anything else, although it is one of the best red sweepers ever printed. It also only costs one, so its pretty high in the surprise factor. What you trying to kill me?! Fine. I firestorm, discard my hand, and deal 7 to each of you and kill all of your creatures. Self-destructing is always a hilarious way to end the game. On a more serious note, combo this with Necropotence.

Gift's Ungiven: This is one of those fun cards that gives you opponent the illusion of being able to hinder your plans, when in reality they are fucked no matter which two cards they decide to give you. My favorite combination is to grab: Mindslaver, Academy Ruins, Life From the Loam, and Moment's Peace. Doesn't matter what your opponent picks with that combo, since they're going to get Mindslaver locked within the next few turns anyways.

Hatred: One of my favorite 'opps I win' cards. Seems really really good in EDH since you can one hit kill with a general or with an infect guy pretty easily. Richard used to have a deck that was designed around trying to kill his opponent on the first turn by casting Hatred (using dark rituals) on a Raging Goblin.  Fun times.

High Tide: This card seems pretty innocuous at first glance, but blue really shouldn't be able to have mana acceleration this powerful. The card itself, wasn't very good until Urza's Saga, when the designers decided to give blue an untap lands mechanic. One of my favorite infinite mana combos of all time, is using High Tide alongside Palinchron and six islands. Even casting something like Time Spiral or Turnabout after a High Tide is  usually good game.

Meditate: This card taught me a very valuable lesson about Magic growing up: It doesn't matter what the drawback of a card is if you can win the game after you cast it. This card is usually found alongside High Tide when trying to do a storm combo. Storm combos are when you cast spells over and over and over again in order to kill someone with a storm card like Brain Freeze, which gets copied for each other spell played that turn. Usually takes the form of the following: I cast High Tide and tap my remaining 5 islands for 10 mana. I use 4 of that mana to Turnabout my lands and tap them again, leaving me with 18 mana. I Meditate to draw four cards, cast a couple Impulses, then a Time Spiral, which untaps all of my lands and gives me a new hand. 20 minutes later (still in the same turn), the game is over with a giant stormed Brain Freeze. Fun for me, not so much for anyone else playing.

Momentary Blink: 'Blinking' is one of my favorite mechanics in the game of Magic. While it looks useless at first glance (I'm sensing a theme here), it does a couple of important things: It can save a creature from removal and it can re-trigger 'enters the battlefield' abilities. That last part is particularly important, since creatures with 'enter the battlefield' abilities tend to be quite good and blinking is the easiest way to reuse them multiple times.  Favorite blink targets: Eternal Witness, Venser, and Avalanche Riders.

Remand: Best Counterspell Ever. Well not really, that title goes to Force of Will, but Remand is my favorite counterspell to be sure. Why is this spell so good? Think about what you do during your average turn. You untap your lands, draw a card, and maybe cast or attack someone. When you Remand someone's early play, what did you just do? You drew a card and stopped them from casting something. Its effect is very similar to a Time Walk. Granting you didn't get to untap your lands, but you did basically just take an extra turn. Easily one of the best 'tempo' cards ever printed. Too bad it sucks in EDH.

And there you have it, my favorite Instants of all time. I would pick High Tide as the winner for me in this category. Next up: Creatures

Nerd Rage Powers Activate!

Competitive gaming has always been one of the more intense areas of video gaming. It could be the using the perfect item to snatch first place from the lead in Mario Kart, or pulling off a 50-hit combo that just manages to kill the last character in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Competitive gaming can have this rush that solo games have a difficult time matching. However, there is a bit of a difference in beating an unknown person in a group of friends, and then facing friends who may share your passion.

Just the other day a couple of friends and I were facing off in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. While we have all put time and effort into playing the game, only two of us actually have the game, and throughout the matches it became apparent which two of us had a slight edge. (clue: it was the two of us who had the game)

At one point after a significant loss, a friend threw the controller down, and went into what we all know as a “nerd-rage.” He then stormed out of the room as the said he was done with the game.

I've ran into this issue before, with friends and boyfriends. When two people who are equally competitive it normally creates a unhealthy environment when the most obvious yet largely ignored reality sets in. Someone has to lose, and sometimes, lose a lot.

It's an uncomfortable situation for both parties, the loser must eventually come to terms to maybe they had a bad night, or that they need more practice, and most of all, that they just yelled at someone over a electronic device that shows pretty pictures.

I've had my moments were I go into a fit moaning about how I'll never be as good, or how they (somehow) use some unfair tactic that I cannot find a way around. Only to realize five minutes later that I have been acting like a complete idiot.

So due to my experience being on both sides I compiled a list of do's and don'ts about competitive gaming to keep in mind when the matches start to turn quiet and you see you're friend grasping the controller like its a floatation device.

1.Smack talk has always been one of the most “endearing” and sometimes infuriating part of competitive gaming, and most of the time its harmless. However, if you start to notice that you're friend/spouse is starting to get quiet, and fixated on the TV, you might want to watch what you say.

2.No matter what game you play, its never fun to feel like you don't have a chance. So if you're continuously pulling off that 50-hit combo with Zero (MvC) while you're opponent can't even leave the corner, you may want to quit before he launches you're fifty dollar controller at Fifi.

3.If it goes too far, and you're boyfriend bursts into tears running outside because you just spiked him at 0% (SSB) you might want to recommend you do something else. Cuddle and a movie maybe?

4.FOR GODS SAKE DON'T GIVE ADVICE WHILE THEY NERD-RAGE! I mean really, the least thing I want to hear after my tenth loss is that I'm not damn blocking, dodging, comboing enough, I can see the extent of my (or lack of) my abilities thank you very much. However, at a more appropriate time its okay to offer training and advice.

1.Know you're limits. Everyone thinks their good, until they face someone better. Sometimes we just have to realize that maybe that one hour every week isn't going to cut it. Back to the training mode with you!

2.Learn to accept all ways of playing the game. Sorry but its about winning, not some duel back in the medieval era. Get used to rush down, camping, combos, spiking, mindgames, and spamming.

3.Know when its getting to you. Contrary to what you may believe, losing ten matches in a row will not give you the magic gaming skills to kick ass. If you aren't winning, maybe its time to stop, before you start hating the person playing with you and thinking of ways to belittle their wins.

4.If you nerd-rage, remember. ITS JUST A GAME.

Anyway, its back to the arena with me! Still practicing that god-forsaken She-Hulk combo.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Confessions of a Sports Fan

I've established that I've done some pretty geeky things in my life. Anything involving miniatures is probably near the top of that list of shame, right there with watching an entire season of Chobits and that time Alex, Jason and I turned a Ravenloft adventure into an improv musical.

But the geekiest thing I've ever done in my life is something that takes up a significant percentage of my current time: Fantasy Sports.

I realize that anything with "Sports" in the title (that doesn't also include the word "Mario") is probably the last thing any readers of this blog want to spend time thinking about. Luke, you can look away now. Or just replace the word "sports" in the rest of this post with other words like _______ and ________ ala Mad Libs.

The inversion of cool over the past couple decades is something we've all noticed. And while Buffy's Dad is heading the all-anticipated avengers, and Comic-Con draws more and more people without neckbeards, professional sports has recently started hiring kids out of Harvard to head their organizations instead of the usual nepotism of handing down sports dynasties to old sports stars. Nerds at computers crunch numbers and tell the jocks what to do.

There's one commercial that airs on ESPN that probably none of you have seen. Stereotypical jocks are at a cafeteria table chatting up obscure sabermetric statistics when stereotypical geeks walk up to them and call them nerds. While not the wittiest joke in the world, this commercial is better than 99% of sports ads because instead of playing up to the mock manliness of unmanly men, it's actually really accurate.

If anything, the commercial fails to show just how geeky sports fans can be. The douchiest of douchebags walking into a bar, with his Tony Romo NFL jersey, flat-billed Yankee baseball cap, overly manicured beard and cocky demeanor, is probably harboring ten Fantasy Sports teams on his Blackberry app. He probably checks his phone for updated stats multiple times an hour and boasts about his insight into game theory. Most people will overhear the word "Arod" or "Kobe" and write him off as your typical jock jerk, and miss the irony that this dude in a sports bar is more of a geek than the kid wearing a blanket for a cape playing Dungeons and Dragons with video game soundtracks playing in the background.

"Fantasy Sports" is not a misnomer. This is a game invented by anti-jocks, writers and accountants with too much free time. Just as D&D players pretend to be knights and wizards, the Fantasy Sports enthusiast pretends to be the General Manager of a sports organization. It's a different kind of daydream, but it plays out the same way, with stats and attributes and the accumulation of points and trophies.

The easiest way to describe how Fantasy Sports works is that you invest in professional sports players in the same way that one invests in stocks. If your "stock" does well, your portfolio does well, and over the course of a season, you can buy/sell/trade assets in an effort to have the best portfolio in your group. There are zillions of variations on this theme, but in essence, that's how it works.

That may sound either dull or relatively ungeeky, but consider that it's really just a pen & paper version of playing a sports video game. When it comes to wizards and knights, the term "pen & paper" is pretty socially damning, but if you think about it, Fantasy Sports is worse. Traditional geeks play D&D to spend quality time with their friends during off hours, while sports geeks obsess over their fantasy team every hour of the day, not realizing that their relative inexpertise in the matter reduces the strategy of gameplay to nothing more than die rolls and heroism.

Consider also that the internet is infested with Fantasy Sports "experts" writing articles and blogs offering tips and advice to Fantasy Sports enthusiasts, an empire of gaming that has recently expanding into the billions of the dollars. The jockiest of jocks might follow the advise of one of these internet gurus not knowing that most of these sports bloggers are those same kids who played Magic: The Gathering during high school lunch hour (whom they would never have talked to at the time).

I am hopelessly addicted to Fantasy Sports. I am hopelessly addicted to sports blogs and podcasts and whathaveyou, and while it is true that I grew up playing sports and have always been a bit of a fan, my growing obsession with it these days has as much to do with my passion for geeky games and pen & paper competition as my love for the sports themselves. I am fascinated by obscure statistics in sports just as I am fascinated by obscure statistics in everything. It's the spiritual successor to Dungeons and Dragons in my life and I find it funny how 90% of Fantasy Sports enthusiasts in the world are completely oblivious to the similarities.

As I sit here at work reading sports blogs, Alex sometimes sends me a link to an article on Magic: The Gathering. Another friend sometimes sends me a link to articles related to Street Fighter. And I can't help but notice how identical they all are.

A Different Kind Of News Update

Last week was an intense week for me. Between two papers, interviews, and a class presentation, it was probably my busiest week of the semester (although I'm sure finals week will be hell too). So, because of that, I didn't really have time to post last week ... at all. I also didn't have much time to collect articles for the news today. So instead, I'm going to fill everyone in on some personal news that happened to me last week which made my week all the more fun.

I found last Tuesday that I never actually graduated from Santa Cruz.

What the hell?! How could you not know whether or not you graduated?! Well, I didn't walk (because I didn't want to), so I didn't really bother checking thoroughly whether or not my graduation material went through. My diploma never came. But, Zach's diploma took several years to get to him, so I had anecdotal evidence of the UC system sucking at diplomas. I turned in my graduation forms and I had just assumed that it went through. No one told me otherwise.

A couple of weeks ago, LMU sent me a letter saying that I although I was accepted to the MBA program, my enrollment was dependent on whether or not I can prove that I graduated from college. They requested a copy of my transcripts to be sent to their office by April 4th. I didn't think this was a big deal, although I was procrastinating in ordering transcripts since the process is such a pain in the ass. Then, last Tuesday, USC sends me the following email:

"Dear Alexander Gilbert Ruiz,

Greetings from the University of Southern California. We have reviewed your application for admission to graduate study, and are unable to proceed because of important items or information missing from your file. These items are listed below:

UC Santa Cruz: You indicate in your application that you graduate in June 2007 but your official transcript (issued in September 2009) does not show the conferral of a degree. Could you please clarify?
Your prompt response is appreciated."

The email made me fly into a confused rage. I immediately scavenged around the house trying to find my unopened copy of my transcripts I had lying around. I find it (with Luke's help) and sure enough, my degree isn't on there. Now came the challenge of trying to sort this out before April 4th to avoid getting kicked out of LMU.

After making a bunch of phone calls, I discovered that I was missing the finalizing form needed to complete the graduation process. I was told that I would have to reapply to graduate for Winter quarter. Luckily for me, I called during the last week of Winter quarter, so I was immediately able to reapply. I faxed the registrar my final form and doubled checked with Kresge and the Anthropology department to make sure that I had indeed met all of the requirements needed to graduate. They are going to be reviewing my graduation packet this week, but they don't expect any problems. My degree should be posted to my transcripts just in time for me to send my transcripts to LMU and not get kicked out of business school. 

I had always wondered in the back of my mind about whether or not I had actually graduated. I thought that maybe I still owed the school some money or there was a problem with one my course requirements (I got a class to count as something else during the graduation process the first time). I never imagined that the reason I didn't graduate was because I was missing some stupid form that takes two seconds to fill out. I still can't believe that I was never informed that I was missing it back when I was actually trying to graduate. At least it should be cleared up now. It just added a lot of stress to my already insanely busy week.

Now my transcripts will say that I got my degree Winter Quarter 2011 ... lol

Monday, March 14, 2011

Marvin's Take on Video Games and Gender

Among my friends there is a joke that I would be the “women” of the group. This references many aspects about myself.One trend I have always been known to be true, I have always used women in video-games. It becomes totally obvious to anyone what gender I favor when it comes to fighting games. Peach, Ivy, Rachel, Amy, Nina, Rose, and Trish are all characters I have chosen as my characters in various competitive games and its been pointed out many times that I favor people with boobs.

I don't really know why I always picked women. For one its always so much more common for male characters to be most prominent, and also just really boring. I mean Ryu has the personality of a paperweight, why would I chose that when I can be a Chinese super-cop who jumps up and down every time she kicks someone to death. Even if they have a “personality” its more in vein with Wolverine who's completely one-dimensional. (yes you're soooo badass....we get it)

One issue I do have is normally the women in these games tend to be over-slutified for obvious reasons. I've played all the Soul Caliber games and all I have to ask is I don't know how half those characters can stand up with those bowling balls strapped to their chests. Either someone in the 18th century exists the worse plastic surgeon or Ivy is using that black magic for more then just destroying Soul Edge.

This trend has continued in the most recent fighting game I'm playing, Marvel vs Capcom 3. Currently, I'm using She-hulk, who is close combat power house with great speed, Morrigan, a Stripper in a bat costume, and Trish, a leather. Any its funny to compare this with the characters my friends use who look like they were taken out of a bowflex commercial.

Kick ass women have always just have always been so much more interesting to me. I grew with Xena, Sailor Moon, Buffy. Maybe I relate to them more, women have always stood as a minority, and they always have to prove themselves twice as hard as a man needs to. OR maybe its just that I like to beat down straight guys with women and be like you just got beaten by a group of vaginas BAM TASTE THE RAINBOW!

Tom who often vocalizes the trend I have in fighting games, only chooses men. However, his reason for doing so makes sense, horrible simplistic and somewhat unnerving sense. “I like to look at hot guys”

This Week In Meowz

Retro says it has no plans for a Donkey Kong Country sequel.
DA2's resident gay.

Dragon Age 2 is officially out! Here are ten things you should know about it.

Ocarina of Time 3DS will also include the Master Quest.

Regular DS games apparently run slower on the 3DS.

Here is some more Skyrim info.

Lady Gaga breaks her deal with Target over its political donations.

Maryland marriage equality bill is delayed.

Fox News is obviously mad at Al-Jezeera.

The bond market shows that America is not nearly as broke as Republicans like to claim it is.

Florida is now debating an anti-evolution bill.

The Dalai Lama is awesome.

Interesting blog posts which states what we all already know: drug misinformation kills people.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Luke's Favorite Magic Cards: The Reckoning

So, I realize that I'm still very new to Magic. Some might call me a n00b, even. I've relied primarily on Alex for all of my deck building and card buying, and I don't have the years of exposure to the game that many who read this blog do. That said, I love making lists and I got extremely jealous when Alex rolled out his post on favorite sorcery spells. I don't have the knowledge base to compile separate lists for the various types of spells in Magic, but I feel like I know enough to at least make a list of my favorite cards more generally. Thus, I humbly present a concise list of my all-time favorite magic cards, based not on how "good" the cards are but just on how much I love them.

Soul Warden. For serious Magic players, I assume Soul Warden is "whatever" to laughable. But for me, Soul Warden was basically the first card I found myself liking after Alex introduced me to the game. I have a fairly passive personality, and defensive-heavy game play strategies appeal to me. When I found out that a creature could just gain me tons of life by simply existing, I was sold.

Day Of Judgment. Again, I love defensive game-play. Plus I get a huge thrill out of sitting back and annoying everyone I'm playing with. This card satisfies both of my primal urges. Also, this card harkens back to memories of the days when I would play against David and his swarm of vampires, and I would take great delight in foiling his plans. Slapping down creature-heavy decks with mass removal is the best. Honorable mention goes out to Fracturing Gust for reasons that should be obvious.

Putrefax. Putrefax is a cutie. When I see him I want to hug him. Can't you just imagine laying in bed cuddling a sweet little Putrefax? Yeah, I'm not gonna lie -- I like this card mostly for the artwork and its name. Though I also like the poison mechanic in general, largely because I suck at combat and tend to rely on alternate win strategies. Putrefax is special because it's like, "BAM!" You just got Putrefaxed!" And then he dies. Awww.

Boon Reflection. The only thing better than gaining life is gaining twice that much life instead. I only wish there were a Boon Reflection for every color.

Beacon of Immortality. Spoiler alert: life gain is my favorite thing about Magic. Alex and I recently played a game in which I finished with over 1000 life. It was awesome. So let's say, hypothetically, that I have 150 life or so and then I happen to play Beacon of Immortality. I can only imagine how infuriating that would be to my opponent, which is why this card makes the cut.

Sleep/Exhaustion. By writing this post, I'm starting to realize that I'm somewhat of a Magic troll. I find myself loving cards that serve mostly to irritate the other players in the game. These two cards especially lend themselves to such annoying abuses. Sure, I can envision a situation where I'm close to death and I play either Sleep or Exhaustion to buy myself some time. But the real thrill comes when playing these cards out of revenge or, even worse, for no real reason whatsoever. I have both of these cards in my Time, Space, and Mind deck, and I will not hesitate to use them back-to-back on the same opponent.

Reliquary Tower. Hands down, this is my favorite land in the game (followed in a very close second by Inkmoth Nexus). I should be permitted to have as many cards in my hand as I want. Always. (Honorable mention goes to Venser's Journal for both allowing me to have as many cards as I want and gaining me tons of life; it fails to make the official cut only because everyone hates when I play it and it's usually immediately destroyed). Over the past year I've constructed six EDH decks, and each is running this land. I realize that maximum hand size isn't a big issue for most players. I, however, find this card absolutely necessary in light of another card that I'm running in all six of my EDH decks:

Howling Mine. This was an early love in my Magic learning adventures, and I remain always loyal. Alex persistently stresses to me how important and great card drawing is. It's not that I don't believe him or feel otherwise, but I definitely tend to avoid putting a bunch of stand alone card-draw cards in my decks. I guess I just feel like card-drawing cards take up crucial spaces, preventing me from maximizing my health gain and creature destruction. Howling Mine, however, provides a consistent flow of extra cards, is inexpensive, can be played on the second turn, is a one-time commitment, and no one ever destroys it because it's amazing and benefits all who behold its glory. I can think of zero negative consequences of running this card in every deck I ever make ... forever.

Repercussion. This card has the potential to be both incredibly mean and incredibly fun. I'm currently running Repercussion in my Angry/Revenge deck (formerly the Natural Disaster deck). The deck's theme is basically burn, and its purpose is to punish opponents for the slightest perceivable infractions committed against me. "Oh, you attacked me for two? Well, in response, I Comet Storm you for 12." With Repercussion out, my deck's burn-based creature sweepers deliver a double whammy of incinerating pain. With enough Mana, Repercussion can outright win me the game.

Hallowed Burial. In addition to being an amazing board wipe, this card is especially delightful in EDH when your opponents have their Generals in play. Goodbye, Azusa, ALEX.

I don't want anyone to do anything to hurt me. I want to sit back, gain life, burn you, prevent your damage, put your creatures to sleep, and never be attacked. Please just leave me alone and let me win the game with Felidar Sovereign or Test of Endurance. Is that really asking too much? Be reasonable.

Rites of Flourishing/Oracle of Mul Daya. Just as I am opposed to limitations on the number of cards I can have in my hand, I'm also opposed to limitations on the number of lands I can play per term. There isn't really a whole lot to say about these cards given their self-evident super powers. Though I wasn't originally all that pumped about green as a Magic color, cards like these have made it more appealing.

Decimator Web. It could be simply that I'm still experiencing the euphoria of playing a card that I (Alex) only recently discovered, but I just really like this card. It's not like it's a particularly "good" card (or so I assume), but it simultaneously does three really mean things. How fun.

Time Reversal. And to close this segment of my homage to Magic, I present to you Time Reversal. This card was the inspiration for my blue/red Time, Space, and Mind deck, and I love it because the artwork is cinematic and beautiful. I love space, planets, and destruction, all three of which are prominently featured. Plus, forcing everyone to get a new hand in the middle of a game is ridiculous. Ridiculousness in Magic is part of what makes the game so fun.