Tuesday, July 31, 2012

On Avacyngeddon

So I've been thinking a bit about Avacyn, Angel of Hope (seen here finishing the Kessig Wolf Run in under 12 parsecs).

Earlier today I played a game where I had Quicksilver Amulet in play and she was the only creature in my hand, and I realized that I probably don't want to actually put her onto the battlefield. See, I figured it would be so much better value to wait and drop her in response to removal, right? But now I'm wondering if I was being crazy. So I think this is an interesting scenario.

On the one hand, I had Spearbreaker Behemoth on the board, which was already doing work for my creatures. But on the other hand, I was holding a Catastrophe, which I could have used as a one-sided Armageddon if Avacyn were in play. I am still not sure what the best line was.

I ended up playing Catastrophe on creatures to clear the board, prompting the scoops from one of the two remaining players. Then my last opponent standing played Karador into Rune-Scarred Demon to get the shenanigans going again, and with him tapped out I did the math and saw that dropping Avacyn EOT put him dead on board to Kessig Wolf Run + Mirari's Wake, so I did that and won the game on turn 12, as you can see in the screenshot.

I'm not sure if that was the optimal line, though. It's possible I should have just gunned for the Armageddon plan first chance I got. The problem was that I had just won my last game on that same plan. I don't want to win all my games with Avacyngeddon. Some of them, maybe, but not all of them.

Well, I dunno. Something to ponder.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Zombie Shooter

So a while back I played Alien Shooter, a game where you shoot aliens. Alien Shooter was developed by Sigma Team, the same guys who made Alien Hallway, a game where you fight aliens in a hallway. Sigma Team, of course, well-known for its lineup of games such as Hallway Shooter, Shooter Shooter, Alien Tower Defense, Game With Aliens In It, and It's Just Some Game 2: Why Do You Guys Always Want Names For Everything. But hey, that's what happens when you get Leonard of Quirm to name all your stuff.

Anyway, I liked Alien Shooter. Thanks to Steam's summer sale, its also-aptly-named spinoff title Zombie Shooter was on sale for a dollar, so I picked it up to give it a try. It's pretty much the same game, but with zombies instead of aliens, right?

...Yeah, as it turns out, that's more or less an accurate description.

There are a few differences. One particularly noticeable change is that in Alien Shooter, the aliens are fast! They scurry and run all over the place. Zombies, however, are contractually obligated to shamble. (It's true--they have a union and everything.) There are some zombie rats and zombie dogs that are straight re-skins of identical enemies from Alien Shooter, and I suspect there will be "Elite Zombies" in later stages who are able to run, but your basic zombie mook has weaker ankles than an alien monster, which can give the gameplay a different feel.

Also, Zombie Shooter has a straighter level-up system: you collect XP, fill up a meter, and tick up your stats between missions as a reward for leveling up. In Alien Shooter, you could tick up your stats, but you did it by spending money on a permanent stat boost or by finding a permanent stat boost in, like, a crate. (Crates in video games have a union too. They're contractually obligated to contain money, health, and ammo pickups.)

But aside from those minor changes, it's more or less the same game as Alien Shooter. This is fine with me, of course, since I liked Alien Shooter, and that just means it's exactly what I was expecting. So I'll endorse Zombie Shooter as a solid example of why third-person shooter games are great. It's good, clean fun. Well, okay, it's good, ludicrously gory, wade-in-rivers-of-zombie-blood fun. Gibbing hordes of zombies with shotguns and grenade launchers is the spaghetti marinara of video games: you wouldn't eat it for dinner every night, but when you do cook it up, it's very difficult to go wrong.

Also, if you get a big lump of spaghetti marinara, it sort of looks like you're eating a brain!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Three Wishes

"Okay," said Bob. "For my first wish, I would like a tuna salad sandwich, please."

"It is done," replied the djinn. And lo, a tuna salad sandwich fell from the sky, landing neatly in Bob's hands.

"Oh no!" said Bob. "You forgot the mustard! I wish for some mustard."

"It is done," the djinn replied once more. And lo, up from the ground there sprouted a jar of mustard and a knife with which to spread it.

Bob picked up the jar and twisted the lid, but no matter how he struggled, he couldn't open it. "Can you give me a hand with this?" he asked the djinn.

"Try running hot water over it," the djinn suggested.

"There's no faucet around here," said Bob. "We're in a cave in the desert."

"Oh, well." said the djinn.

"I wish for a monster truck," said Bob.

"Your wish is my command," said the djinn, bowing, then vanishing in a puff of sparks. A pair of keys jingled to the ground at Bob's feet, and a brightly-painted monster truck crashed through the wall. The djinn's lamp crumbled into dust.

"Cool," said Bob. He took a bite out of his sandwich.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

How To Answer Smartass Frankie Peanuts Questions

What is it about Frankie Peanuts that turns decent people into smartasses? Is there some kind of subliminal message in the art? Is there a hallucinogen in the ink that makes people believe their opponents are morons? Or is it just one of those cards where people assume they know what it does without actually reading it, and end up misplaying because of it?

For some reason, there are folks out there who believe Frankie Peanuts is an instant-win card that allows you to use tricky logic to force your opponent to do anything you want them to do. This is, as anyone without their head shoved halfway up their colon will tell you, obviously untrue. Frankie Peanuts can't force opponents to do anything they don't agree to of their own free will. You can try to frame the question in such a way as to suggest a certain answer. You can try to "Jedi Mind Trick" them into believing they don't have a choice. You can try to do these things. But if the opponent is savvy at all, don't expect to succeed.

FACT #1: They can only give a truthful answer.

You can't use funky logic syntax to force them to give you a certain answer. They can only give an answer that's true. If they're not going to concede this turn, there is nothing Frankie Peanuts can do to force them concede, because any answer that amounts to "I am going to concede" would be untrue.

FACT #2: They abide by the answer if able.

"Oh, but I'm so clever, I'll use Paradox Haze to ask two questions, and I'll make the first question commit them to a specific answer to the second question! Surely now my opponents will do my bidding!" Yeah, no, it doesn't work like that. When you spring your trap with your second question, you'll only end up making the opponent unable to abide by his answer to your previous question, since doing so would make his second answer untrue. All you accomplish is wasting two questions instead of one.

Also, there's no point asking whether they'll cast a spell this turn. They'll say "Yes" all day long, then never activate any mana abilities.

FACT #3: He says yes-or-no question. He doesn't say yes-or-no answer.

No, really, read the card. He restricts the questions to yes-or-no questions. He restricts the responses to truthful answers. If the question can be truthfully answered in some other way, Frankie is totally cool with that. This means your carefully constructed "Will you do exactly one of the following two actions: answer 'no' to this question; and/or give me twenty dollars" logic knot can be unraveled as easily as your opponent can lift his middle finger.

If you start adding in a gazillion confusing conditional clauses and questions-within-questions, all your opponent has to do is answer from the inside out and clearly declare his intentions. For example, Frankie Peanuts asks: "Is your Yes or No answer to this question the same as your Yes or No answer to the question of whether you will immediately concede the game?" Here, if the opponent merely says "I'm not going to immediately concede the game," then the jig is up.

If I really wanted to troll the Frankie Peanuts player, I would answer any strategy-based question with "I don't know because I'm going to decide that by rolling dice."

"Will you block my Grizzly Bears with your Hill Giant this turn?"

"I don't know because I'm going to roll dice to decide my blockers this turn."

And then I would roll something ridiculous like 12D6 and only deviate from my real blocking plan if all of them came up 1. This would be kind of a douchey move against someone who's genuinely trying to play Frankie Peanuts fairly, so it should only be used as a last resort against those who could benefit from a healthy punch in the face.

So what can Frankie Peanuts actually accomplish? Best I can come up with is getting hidden information. For example, ask them if their face-down creature is a Zombie Cutthroat. If the one card in their hand is an instant. That sort of thing. I dunno, that's the best I got. It's not a powerful card.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Let's Play The Binding of Isaac

Aha, now it's working.

Django suggested that I do a video like this, so I roped him into commentating on it.

Duck Bills

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Binding of Isaac Top 666 (Part 2)

Top 6 Favorite Characters (Besides ???)

I don't think ??? counts as a real character. I think of him more as the "Hardcore Mode" version of Isaac. So he's not on the list. If he were on the list, he'd be between Samson and Eve.

Naturally, you have to play through with every character in order to unlock stuff, but hey, I can still have favorites.

6. Samson

Samson is my least favorite. His Bloody Lust ability just isn't very good. Well, I mean, it's not bad, since it does increase his attack power, sort of, I guess. But it certainly doesn't make up for his reduced HP and  firing rate, which are severe drawbacks. Samson is basically a worse version of Judas: Judas starts out with the same crappy HP, but he doesn't have a penalty to his fire rate, he doesn't have to work to get his attack boost, and he even has a free Book of Belial (one of the best activated items) on top of everything else.

So Samson's pretty bad.

5. Eve

Eve is hit-or-miss. If things go right, she's a powerhouse. Get an early Guppy's Paw, trade away all her hearts for soul hearts, and she'll be amazing. Maybe get a Razor Blade to keep her health low and pile soul hearts on top of that. If it works, if she can take advantage of the Whore of Babylon, then you're rolling. The problem is that you have to get lucky for her to work. If you get the wrong items, she ends up being underpowered instead. (The Dead Bird is nice to have, but on its own it's not worth the reduced stats compared to Isaac or Cain.)

That being said, if she gets going, it's fairly epic.

4. Magdalene

My opinion on Magdalene has changed over time. Initially, I thought her Yum Heart's free health restoration ability was awesome. As I got better and started taking less damage, it started to feel like dead weight. Nowadays, what I like most about Magdalene is that her big fat HP meter is perfect for making lots of deals with the devil. When I play as Magdalene, I'm mostly trying to find a Devil Room as quickly as possible. Spirit of the Night, The Mark, The Pact, Brimstone, whatever--if you think of Magdalene as starting with two life and a Devil Room item, she's actually pretty cool.

3. Judas

Playing as Judas is living on the edge. With only one heart, he's as fragile as they get, but not only does he have the highest attack power of any character, he can also double his attack with the Book of Belial. You need to be able to dodge, but the payoff is well worth it.

2. Cain

Cain only has two starting hearts and the lowest range, but his increased speed and power easily make up for the reduced HP, and let's face it, range isn't important anyway. On top of all that, his Lucky Foot is great! More winnings in the arcade, and no more worrying about negative pill effects! With other characters, you often end up cussing at the screen because you randomly got an HP Down pill, but with Cain, everything is upside, making playthroughs with him breezy and fun.

1. Isaac

When you first start playing, Isaac is pretty weak. With so-so stats and no special abilities, he's easily overshadowed by Cain and Magdalene and the rest. But once you unlock the D6 by beating the Womb with ???, he's a powerhouse. The ability to re-roll any item you don't like is game-breakingly awesome. Lemon Mishap? Mom's Pad? Holy Water? Screw 'em! Throw 'em back and get a real item instead! And that's why Isaac is the best character.

Monday, July 23, 2012


Oh man, I had this video entry that I was going to post, but I can't seem to upload it. Dunno what's wrong, it just says the file was rejected or something. That's too bad. Maybe I can get it on Youtube or something and try again later. 

I don't really know what I'm doing with this video stuff.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Top 10 Favorite New M13 Cards

10. Knight of Infamy/Knight of Glory

Given that Exalted was going to appear in both white and black, new variants on Black/White Knight make good sense, and I think they turned out great. Uh...I guess I don't have much to say beyond that. They're nice cards.

9. Slumbering Dragon

I enjoy the way this card captures the flavor of a sleeping dragon that you have to sneak past without waking it up. I guess it plays well against Exalted too, but I mainly like it as a cool standalone card.

8. Sublime Archangel

I think anyone could have seen this one coming, honestly. The "Give all guys mechanic X" card is a time-honored tradition, and as it didn't show up in Alara block, it's not surprising to see it here. That being said, I got the chance to play with this card at the prerelease and it was definitely a whammy. I am very happy it exists.

7. Mind Sculpt

Actually, I liked Jace's Erasure better. The repeatable effect is more fun. But this is cool too. I like that the mill deck gets to exist. I also like that the old casual favorite Glimpse the Unthinkable gets to make a pseudo-comeback at a lower rarity. And the Jace reference here is pretty cool too.

6. Ring of Kalonia

I'm a fan of these new magic rings. Growing a creature incrementally every turn is very satisfying. Ring of Kalonia is my favorite of the cycle because I like how the pumping works with the trampling. Also, green creatures are, of course, the best creatures.

5. Krenko, Mob Boss

What's better than making Goblin tokens? Making even more Goblin tokens! Tokens are awesome and doubling is awesome. Krenko manages to singlehandedly make me want to play goblins. Tap him, make goblins, tap him again, make more goblins, tap him again, make even more goblins...throw enough goblins at a problem and eventually you can solve anything, right?

4. Predatory Rampage

Overrun is awesome, but it has this problem where it's extremely powerful in limited. So in M11, we got Overwhelming Stampede--on the surface, a splashier version of the same effect, but really it was an excuse to move it up in rarity. M13 continues the tradition by giving us Predatory Rampage, which eschews the "Kill them right now" plan for a slightly more cautious "Kill all their untapped creatures" plan. And you know what? I actually like that plan. It seems more fun and interactive than winning the game on the spot.

3. Switcheroo

Okay, first things first, that's an awesome name. The art and flavor text are awesome too. And it's good that Mind Control is taking a break from the limited environment. What interests me about Switcheroo is that it's a lot higher-variance than your straight Mind Control. The lows are way lower, since having nothing to swap is going to be pretty painful. But the highs are higher, too, even though on the surface it seems like they shouldn't be--stealing their creature and giving them nothing is a strictly better effect, right? But when you switch their dragon with your Merfolk of the Pearl Trident, it's so much more awesome because it's like you got away with something. It's value.

2. Roaring Primadox

Oh man, memories. I remember Stampeding Wildebeests. Return Wood Elves to my hand, get all the forests out of my deck, return Multani's Acolyte to my hand, draw a million cards, return Blastoderm to my hand, no fading for you...simple combos, but so much fun. Roaring Primadox continues the proud tradition for a whole new generation of players, and it comes pre-packaged in the same expansion as Elvish Visionary! Now with multicolor support, so you can splash in those Ravenous Rats or Attended Knights! Good times, good times.

1. Chronomaton

Remember the clockwork creatures from Mirrodin? Clockwork Beetle? Clockwork Condor? Remember how much they sucked? Clockwork creatures aren't cool because they wind down. They're cool because they wind up. And nothing winds up quite like Chronomaton. Simple, elegant, flavorful, and fun. It's a perfect package of all that is cute and lovable in a card.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Top 10 Favorite M13 Reprints

10. Mogg Flunkies

It's got some great things going for it. First, it's a goblin, so it has explicit synergy with the sort of goblin tribal subtheme we see with Arms Dealer and Krenko, Mob Boss. Second, it enables niche decks in limited. It's one of those cards whose value changes drastically based on the deck you're drafting--that's the sort of thing that adds depth to a limited format. Third, it very deliberately doesn't interact with Exalted. I love that.

9. Tormented Soul

This is one of those ones that was good in its previous printing because of the environment surrounding it, and is now being reprinted in a very different environment where it's still good, but for very different reasons. In M12, you always wanted this on the first turn to power up your Bloodthirst guys. In M13, now it's partying with the next keyword mechanic, getting buffed up by Exalted to break creature stalls. I for one think that's cool.

8. Quirion Dryad

Quirion Dryad is a pretty fun card in general, and if it gets a chance to shine, that's something I'm happy about. In M13, Quirion Dryad is positioned to capitalize on the multicolor fun of the imminent Return to Ravnica block. We call that timing.

7. Rancor

Everyone loves Rancor! It's powerful, it's fun, etc. Not much to say except that it's a sweet card, and it's nice to see it in booster packs.

6. Gilded Lotus

Because you can't have Nicol Bolas without a way to cast Nicol Bolas.

Also, it even has synergy with some Scars of Mirrodin artifact stuff, which is a nice bonus. And we finally get a printing in a card frame that doesn't suck. These are good things.

5. Erase

With the return of Rancor (against which your vanilla Demystify is woefully ineffective), it's the perfect time to notch up white's targeted enchantment removal. Also, I really like the new art. This is from the ending of Beauty and the Beast, right? I'm pretty sure.

4. Reliquary Tower

Did you know this is worth, like, multiple dollars? I know, right? That's crazy! But we Commander folks love us some reliquaries. And let's be frank, Spellbook is a really bad card, so no love lost there. Kick out the zero-mana artifact and give us the land! Yeehaw!

3. Volcanic Geyser

Fireball is great, but it's also really, really strong in limited. Since it's basically the most splashable bomb in existence, you just take it every time, basically. But now in M13, we have Volcanic Geyser instead. It's still a crazy bomb that you'll windmill first-pick, but the double red requires a greater color commitment, making the card feel very different in an actual game. I appreciate that. I also like the new art.

2. Scroll Thief

One of my favorite blue cards returns for M13! Scroll Thief is so much fun to play with. Every time you hit with it, it feels like you got away with something. It creates a little mini-game within the game, where you have to try and connect with your 1/3 and your opponent has to stop you. It also perfectly embodies the philosophy of blue's creatures: it's powerful not because it's big and strong, but because it's smart and stealthy. Blue wins by outwitting and outmaneuvering its enemies, not by stomping on them until they die.

Plus, it gets even better in this format because with Exalted hanging around, you have a new way to push it through. Yay!

1. Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker

Okay, I'll be honest here, I'm only putting him at the top because he'd melt my brain if I put him any lower. You don't piss off Nicol Bolas.

That being said, he really is a great card. He never saw a lot of tournament play the first time around, but who knows? Maybe he'll make a splash this time. I'd certainly be excited to see him at the top tables of a Pro Tour. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Binding of Isaac Top 666

6 Favorite Passive Items

6. Brimstone

I think Brimstone got nerfed at some point so that it's no longer as insane as it used to be. Still, charging and firing that giant beam of blood is awesome. It shoots through obstacles, it shoots through enemies, it hits the whole screen, and it does a ton of damage. Most importantly, it's loads of fun to use. BLORP!

Unfortunately, someone told me that its icon looks like a pierced phallus, and now I can't un-see it.

5. Guardian Angel

The Guardian Angel is like the Cube of Meat/Pretty Fly/Halo of Flies in that it circles around you and blocks projectiles. What's great, though, is that it orbits you faster than the others, and if you have more than one familiar of that type, they all get the increased speed. Since there's so many Horsemen and they all drop the Cube of Meat, it's pretty easy to end up with at least two shield-guys like this, and they're much better in multiples, especially with the speed boost. Any time I go to the final bosses of the Cathedral or the Chest without a projectile-blocker, I feel naked.

4. Small Rock

I wouldn't say the Small Rock is the best item around. It boosts your damage output pretty nicely at the cost of lowering your speed. That's a good effect, but not exciting. No, what's best about the Small Rock is that you never see it coming. You just blow up a rock expecting maybe a key or some soul hearts, and BANG! Out of nowhere, jackpot! You got a free item! It feels like cheating. I love it.

3. Spirit of the Night

Spectral tears are okay and flight is great, but the combination of the two is kind of absurd. With Spirit of the Night, you basically get to ignore the terrain completely. Holes? Meh, fly over them. Rocks? Meh, fly over them and shoot through them. Enemies that can't fly or shoot at you? Haha, nice try, I'll just sit on top of this rock just out of your reach and cry you to death. It's one of the best defensive abilities in the game, and if I have enough hearts to buy it at the devil room, I'll almost always snap-buy it (assuming I don't already fly).

The Dead Dove has an identical effect, but Spirit of the Night is better because a. the visual effect is way, way cooler and b. it's a Magic reference so it wins.

2. Technology

If Brimstone is awesome, Technology is like...well, also awesome. Shooting laser beams instead of tears is a lot of fun. No more worrying about pesky aiming or timing--you fire in a straight line across the whole screen, zap, just like that. It pierces enemies--bosses like the Duke of Flies can't hide behind their minions anymore, and those annoying Knights that used to be a major pain in the patella are now a joke. Unlike Brimstone, it doesn't go through obstacles, but unlike Brimstone, it doesn't require a long charge-up; in fact, it fires pretty quickly. As much as I like Brimstone, I have to admit that Technology is cooler.

There's another version of Technology that's similar: Technology 2. The v2.0 fires a weaker laser beam constantly while you continue to fire your tears. That's cool, but I like the original much better. One of the big things I like about it is that you no longer have to worry about aiming your attacks, but that's not true with v2.0--you still have to fire tears in the right direction. It takes more effort to work. Maybe I'm totally off-base here, but I think the first one is more fun to use.

1. Mom's Knife

Stab stab stab! Stabby stab! If I find Mom's Knife, it's fist-pump time. Not only does it stab through enemies and stab over walls, but it deals hella damage! Most bosses go down in just a few hits. Yeah, even the end bosses. I guess the lesson here is that stabbing enemies with a knife is orders of magnitude more effective than crying on them. You hear that, kids? Next time you feel like crying, try stabbing someone instead! (See, this game is educational!)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fun fact, I haven't actually slept in two days. I haven't decided if that counts as one day for my self-imposed "Post every day" rule. Actually, I'm a little disoriented in that regard. I keep forgetting whether I'm writing today's, yesterday's, tomorrow's, or the day after's, or whether writing it at 1 AM counts as tonight or as tomorrow morning. Luckily it's my thing, so I get to make the rules...whatever they are.

Speaking of Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, it's that great weekly tradition of checking on the ol' clan citadel in RuneScape before the weekly build tick to make sure everything's running smoothly. I may not be actively playing the game right now, but that Fishadel is my pet, and doggone it, I am going to feed it. I've never missed a week. The place falls to pieces without me...last week I didn't double-check the day of the tick, and it turned out we were short on visitors and couldn't meet the upkeep costs. Before going to sleep tonight, I poked the clan chat and rallied the people there to go and pay a visit, and I think we're covered now. I like the place, but I do wish I didn't have to babysit like this. Oh well.

Okay, hang on, let me put on my "I'm too tired to think too hard about a topic" face. Eyelids exaggeratedly droopy, jaw just a little bit slack, and give it a touch of mumble, a dash of groan, and just a teensy pinch of grumble. Right, there it is. Tired, see? You can tell how tired I am because I've clearly forgotten that I don't need to make an excuse for anything here. If I were awake I would probably just delete this whole paragraph. God, this sounds awful and horrible and defensive and I'll scrap it all and start over in the morning. No, screw it, I'm going to sleep. Goodnight. Have a blog post.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Today I played some more Binding of Isaac.

I beat the Cathedral three times! Once with Judas, once with Isaac, once with Cain. Yeah!

I really hate Greed though. He always replaces the shop when I have lots of money. What an asshole! Here I am opening the shop door hoping for, like, a compass or something, and Greed comes in and is all like, "NOPE." And his little Greed-head babies are a pain in the neck too, hopping around all over the place with their stupid double shots that steal my coins. Jerks.

I also played Dungeon Defenders with Django and Miles.

I got my Series EV up to level 70, which is pretty cool I guess. It can wield the flamethrower better than my Huntress, since the Series EV can dual-wield an extra weapon with it to deal with any enemies that are immune to fire damage (which is a problem for the Huntress). I'm still not totally sure how I'm supposed to be using these lasers. Maybe I'm just supposed to stick to DPS. Eh...

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Binding of Isaac = Christmas

It's a nun with boils on her face riding a wooden horsey. A bright red fetus is floating in the air behind her, there's a cube of meat orbiting around her, and she shoots laser beams from her eyes.

The Binding of Isaac, folks!

The items in the dungeon are randomly generated. You never know if you're going start belching jets of blood, turn into a cyclops, or get bitten by a radioactive spider. That's what I like so much about this game: it's like opening a Christmas present every time you enter a new room. What's the item going to be? Can I shake the box? Maybe it's a puppy! A real puppy, not just a puppy's severed head like the last one!

The only difference is that instead of presents from Santa, you get presents from Satan, and instead of the smell of gingerbread and roasting chestnuts, you get the smell of poop and rotting corpses, and instead of peace, goodwill, and love, you have to kill your insane homicidal mother before she kills you. But other than that, it's exactly the same as Christmas. And you get to play it any day of the year!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Series EV + Wrath of the Lamb

I got some new DLC for my games today.

I started a Series EV character in Dungeon Defenders. The Series EV is a robot who defends with laser beams. Seriously, laser beams.

It can drop laser stun-tripwires, laser walls, laser reflectors, laser tower boosters, and of course the good ol' fry-em-up zappy lasers. It's also equipped with an exploding decoy function and a mana-absorbing Proton Cannon.

Oh, and dual-wielding ranged weapons. Yeah, that's pretty sweet. 

I also got the "Wrath of the Lamb" DLC for The Binding of Isaac, since it was on sale. It's pretty cool too. There's, like, new items, and this thing with Trinkets, and new levels, and, like, spiders, I dunno. I like it.

Anyway, that's what I did today. Durdled around with a robot in Dungeon Defenders, durdled around killing Mom in Binding of Isaac.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Not sure how the bird is holding those.

Also, I think it's wearing aviator goggles.


I'd say Golemancy is one of the most powerful skills in Dungeons of Dredmor.

Okay, you start out with a crappy first spell. Animate Blade Being is a mine that does a small amount of slashing damage if an enemy steps on it. It's awkward to use and not really worth the trouble. But you're not taking Golemancy for the damage spells. No, Golemancy is the ultimate defensive skill.

Level 2: Animate Mustache. Summons a mustache golem to fight alongside you. Here is a tip for you golemancers out there: for your first level-up, get the mustache golem. Mustache golems dominate the early game. Summon one golem and it can singlehandedly clear out the entire first and second floors (Zoo and all), hold its own on the third, and still be a valuable distraction for the fourth. Just like that. It's like a free pass.

Level 3: Unliving Wall. One word: overpowered. Unliving Wall allows you to create a wall at any location. Point, click, and shoom: instant blockade covering that square (and knocking back any enemy standing there). Being able to block off enemies from reaching you at will for only 3 mana is insanely strong. How are you going to die when you can wall yourself off from all the enemies and effectively become invincible? You can drop walls to create a choke point so enemies have to come at you one at a time (or force them to step on your traps). You can wall off a Monster Zoo completely and drop thaumites on them to sweep the whole room without taking any damage. You can just put four walls on each side of yourself and stand there in your mini-fortress while you digest some food to heal up. Basically, it's near-game-breakingly insane.

Then you get Invive Thaumite Swarm. What this does is it targets an enemy, and that enemy gets swarmed by thaumites, dealing damage over time. Then, several turns later, the thaumites leave their target and drop to the ground, where they'll go on to attack anything else that steps on them. A single swarm can spread to multiple enemies and potentially infect the whole room. It's reasonably potent, although it costs a lot of mana and there are a fair amount of enemies that resist the damage. The nice thing is you can do it even if there's a wall in the way, so you can drop four walls around an enemy, infect them with some thaumites, and let the bugs do the rest while they're trapped in your cage. And of course, for Monster Zoos, you can hide behind a wall and drop thaumites on the other side, which, on lower floors, is quite effective. Spells like Miasmic Putrefaction (from Fleshsmithing) or Tactical Pyre (from Promethean Magic) do this a little better, but thaumites have the advantage of being built-into the same skill tree as Unliving Wall, for your convenience.

The Mortal Machine is next. It summons a robo dude to fight for you. This guy is like a stronger version of the mustache golem. If you keep upgrading your Golemancy level, you can rely on your familiars to cover almost all of your combat for a pretty solid portion of the dungeon. The Mortal Machine can singlehandedly escort you safely as far as floor 7 or so, making a large portion of the game a cakewalk. As you get deeper, it'll become outclassed and you'll need to start pulling your weight, but until then you're essentially in easy mode.

Lastly, the final skill is Digging Ray. I really don't like this spell. What it does is it's a big beam that you point in a direction to destroy all the walls in its path. So you can cut a path, or whatever. Thing is, it costs approximately a zillion mana to use. I've never felt like I needed it. I guess the idea is you bust an escape route through the wall, block it off with an Unliving Wall to cover your retreat, and then skedaddle from whatever scary boss monster is troubling you.

Oh, and I guess I should mention that all golemancers start with a Golemancer's Cap, which gives +1 block, +1 stubbornness (equivalent to half a point of block and half a point of magic resistance), and +1 aethereal resistance. This is fairly weak, but it's free and it's better than nothing.

Overall, Golemancy is pretty busted. You get to have beefy golems do all your fighting for you, and you can drop walls wherever you like. It can work well in almost any build--just pump a level into Animate Mustache early on to sweep the early floors, pump another level into Unliving Wall to sweep everything else, and even if you never touch the skill again it'll be worth it. If you do want to max it out, I recommend doing so fairly quickly, since you'll want to get to that Mortal Machine ASAP to get the best mileage out of it.

Monday, July 9, 2012

M13 Prerelease Report

I opened Sublime Archangel and no other good rares. But that's okay, because Sublime Archangel proved to be:
  1. An amazing bomb and
  2. The most expensive card on the store's buylist.
I also got three Pacifisms, so my white was very good, and I ended up going 3-1 to earn four boosters (which I sold back to the store for $10). Then I swapped in my Archangel for another $10 cash. Works for me.

The first round I actually got creamed pretty soundly. I won one game, but my opponent had like five removal spells and an Archaeomancer in one game and quadruple Mind Sculpt in another--pretty nutty draws. I sideboarded into blue to see if I could get a shot at the achievement for milling them, but that plan was probably wrong; I'm fairly certain the white-green build was better, even against a deck with lots of answers.

Then I swept the next round against a guy who was pretty new to the game and played pretty sloppily because he didn't really know what he was doing. After the round, I tried to help him with his deck. It wasn't as much of a mess as I expected; most of his card evaluations were fine aside from an off-color Ring of Kalonia, he just had trouble cutting down to 40.

Round 3 was very tight. On the critical turn, he was facing down lethal from my side of the board thanks to a nice heavy-hitting Sublime Archangel, but I was at 9 against his two Bladetusk Boars and a Goblin Arsonist. He topdecked a Battleflight Eagle and slammed it to give the Goblin Arsonist +2/+2 and flying to swing for the win--but this was a savage misplay, as he had flat forgotten about my Deadly Recluse, which blocked the lethal flyer and let me swing back for the win on my next turn. He was supposed to target one of the boars just for the power boost, which would have killed me. However, there were multiple decision points earlier in the game; I'm pretty sure if I'd played tighter, there's a good chance he might have been dead a turn sooner anyway. Oh well.

Round 4 was not close at all. I crushed. I had good draws and my opponent had bad draws, and my deck steamrolled right over his deck.

My impression of the set was very positive. This is an awesome core set. There are some brilliant inclusions here. I love how Mogg Flunkies is juxtaposed with Exalted to make the drawback stick out even more. I love how they replaced Demystify with Erase so that it could answer Rancor. I love the Rings cycle, which is sweet. I am a fan of Nicol Bolas horning in on things. I...well, I could do without opening Battle of Wits and Door to Nothingness in my sealed pool, but meh.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

M13 for #MayaelFTW

Boundless Realms

Boundless Realms: The problem with this card is that you basically have to be on an all- or mostly-basics manabase for it to work. I think if that's the case, it's probably better than Mana Reflection for sure and maybe better than Mirari's Wake, by virtue of being a sorcery instead of an enchantment. But I am not convinced it's worth skewing my manabase to accommodate Boundless Realms.

Elderscale Wurm

Elderscale Wurm: The thing with this guy is that the ability just isn't all that relevant in this format. It's probably okay against certain matchups, but most decks won't care about it at all, and Blazing Archon and Gisela are far, far stronger versions of the effect. Elderscale Wurm will not be making it into my deck.

Mwonvuli Beast Tracker

Mwonvuli Beast Tracker: Oh joy, another tutor for Primeval Titan? No thanks, I think I'll be fine. That's pretty much the only guy worth tutoring for with the Beast Tracker here, and lord knows we get enough of Titan already. Plus, Fierce Empath already does the same thing better, and we're aren't exactly nuts about him, are we? Pass.


Thragtusk: This is one of those guys who fits in the "Baneslayer Angel" slot: the early-game lifegain dude. My initial thoughts are that it's worth testing, sort of a smaller version of Pelakka Wurm that's probably better than Mycoid Shepherd but worse than Baneslayer Angel or Wurmcoil Engine.

Thundermaw Hellkite

Thundermaw Hellkite: Not really worth a slot. He's just too low-impact. He'll come down, hit for 5, and then maybe durdle for a while. 5/5 is too small to race anything, but big enough that the guy you attack with it will want to kill it. And aside from being a body, he doesn't actually do anything. I'm putting him down as "bad".


Worldfire: "Ooh look at me I have a Greater Gargadon suspended." Yes, you're very clever. Next card, please.

Ajani, Caller of the Pride

Ajani, Caller of the Pride: While planeswalkers in general are tough to miss with, the Mayael deck doesn't really get much out of this effect. I guess you could play it if you want, since it's just a generically nice card, but I wouldn't.

Ring of KaloniaRing of ThuneRing of Valkas

Rings of Valkas, Kalonia, and Thune: I personally think these cards are really cool. They're not very strong, though. I mean, you could be running, like, Sword of Fire and Ice. Or any of the other four. Or, I dunno, Mask of Memory or something? Whatever. Point is, if you're gonna buff creatures, these are not exactly the prime options. I mean, I don't even run Loxodon Warhammer. Can't see running these.

Cathedral of War

 Cathedral of War: Exalted is nice, but it's not so nice that I'm willing to run a land that's colorless and comes into play tapped. You don't see me playing Llanowar Reborn, and I'm pretty sure this is worse than that.

Hellion Crucible

Hellion Crucible: We have enough manlands that don't require you to sacrifice them, and the "colorless land" slots are already very crowded. Nantuko Monastery is better than this card, and I don't run Nantuko Monastery. This is not making the cut.

Thoughts on some notable reprints

Serra Avatar and Hamletback Goliath: If you're in the market for "Creatures that are absurdly gigantic but otherwise vanilla", these are two of the best. Me, I like to get more utility out of my guys, but maybe your build wants them.
Fervor: I don't think the deck needs this effect. If it did, though, Fires of Yavimaya is the clearly superior choice.
Rancor: Notably, very good with those big dumb vanilla creatures like Hamletback Goliath and Serra Avatar.
Akroma's Memorial: This is an okay card for some decks, but I don't like it here. There are too many better options for mass pump effects. I have a long list of cards I would run in this slot before going to Akroma's Memorial; off the top of my head, Triumph of the Horde, True Conviction, Overwhelming Stampede, Insurrection, Craterhoof Behemoth...
Gilded Lotus: This is actually a pretty nice ramp spell, but being in green, we get to use Mana Reflection, Mirari's Wake, and Primeval Titan already, so this isn't something I'd be looking to run.
Reliquary Tower: I really like having this card in my deck just to deal with annoying Howling Mine effects, but over time the deck's been wanting new colorless lands, and Reliquary Tower has definitely been on the weaker end of the scale, and in my last update I ended up cutting it. It's still pretty good if you run a lot of card draw, though, like Garruk, Primal Hunter or Greater Good or whatnot.

The Verdict

There's nothing in M13 that I'm looking to add to my Mayael deck. The expansion has a fair share of decent, playable cards for the deck, but none of them are better than what we already have.

Maybe Thragtusk.