Friday, September 28, 2007

Geeking Out - RPG's, Magic, Superman, Robot Chicken, Heroes

All in one 24 hour period.

Geeking out.

My private boards have been quiet lately. They used to be used mainly for talking about whatever game it was we were playing. Organizing dungeon crawls, explaining the reasons why you want to start with a hundred wisdom when making a new character in Asheron’s Call, debating what we were going to do about Blood, why Thanes are the best class ever and everyone should make one, no no, why Paladins are the best class and if everyone made one we could do epic content solo, god damn it I’m sick of gaming and can’t wait for WOW to come out so we can all game together again.

Ah, good times, good times. Geek times.

The boards have been quiet lately as many of us have moved on to other things, like Spain or sailing around the world or having a child or going back to college or doing a triple tour of duty in Iraq. Sure, some people still play WoW and those discussions are cool, but not like the old days of a dozen posts a day discussing ad infinitum the details of classes, quests, in game politics and how much we hate cheaters.

The boards have been used for other things throughout the years. We have a Spam forum for geeking out and movie reviews and general day to day life reporting and a Flame bait forum for discussing politics and global warming.

Okay, this is getting way off topic and coming out like crap. I’d erase the whole thing and start over but then, what else would you have to read when you show up to work Friday morning?

The point of this long worthless diatribe was I’ve been geeking out a lot lately. Okay, yesterday I geeked out. And in similar fashion, my boards have come back to life in the past two weeks with one member needing discussion and reassurance on the choices he’s making in his life, and another needing advice on talking to women. Some good discussions brought on a feeling of nostalgia for the days when we wrote every day and were a close knit little community.

/face punch.

Yesterday was a pretty geeky day. I started off the day determined to get in a lot of Spanish lessons. Once my mind turned to mush from learning so much, I logged into Magic Online and found a tournament about to start. Not an 8 man. A tournament. Time to put all of my hard work to the test.

Magic still blows and is still wonderful. I’m a bitter old fart longing for the simpler days of crappy expensive counter spells, creatures that were busted just by being 4/4 fliers, and creature elimination wasn’t quite as insanely cheap, plentiful or flexible as it is today. Ah the early days of only 4 Wraths in the environment and when Giant Growth was used as a strategic spell to use after blockers were declared and kill three of your opponents gang blockers and watch him groan, or to save your elf from a lightning bolt. Remember those days?

Here’s what the past two tournaments top eights have looked like –

HiKiKomoRinGo plays Steam Vents
_Figar plays Shivan Reef
cwllc plays Hallowed Fountain
dosukoifait plays Plains
Ober plays Underground River
STARMINE plays Stomping Ground
Kengur plays Shivan Reef
wings for marie plays Shivan Reef

Lucindo plays Llanowar Wastes.
HumbertP plays Watery Grave.
Ace of Drafts plays Treetop Village.
Noll3n plays Island.
rastaf plays Island.
duotianshi203 plays Steam Vents.
jcuvelier plays Forest.
a.c.a.i_20006 plays Island.

Admittedly, one of those island plays is for the dredge deck and only uses a very few blue cards, but as you can see, blue and its evil Remanding ways is still a massive force in Standard.

There is almost no combat in the top eight decks. The decks that do focus on combat are in the loser’s bracket. You can see them in the replays during the tournament or if you play and end up in the losers bracket (like I frequently do).

The decks that are winning are combo and control. The top tier control decks appear to be the Lightning Angel decks, the Teferi, Vesuvan Shapeshifter “Pickles” deck, the Martyr of Sands, Crovax, Pegasus decks (all with major blue components) and the combo decks. The combo decks are Hatching Plans storm combo deck that kills you in one or possibly two big turns, the G/R goblin and saproling Overrun deck and the G/B/u dredge deck.

So, it’s not like there isn’t some diversity in the top tier decks, but it is all control or combo. And yes, I do consider emptying your hand on turn 4 and casting Overrun a combo. A combo I happen to love by the way.

That said, I’ve been working on a bunch of different decks myself. Since I hate two color decks and I love Overrun, this is the deck I was playing before I saw the G/R version of it with Greater Gargadon and Mogg Fanatic, which is so much better than mine.

19 Forest
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Overrun
4 Scatter the Seeds
4 Treetop Village
4 Baru, Fist of Krosa
4 Boreal Druid
4 Gaea's Anthem
4 Indrik Stomphowler
4 Scryb Ranger
4 Tarmogoyf
1 Verdant Embrace

1 Dodecapod
3 Hail Storm
4 Tormod's Crypt
4 Krosan Grip
3 Quagnoth

Its garbage but much more in my style. I like the ability main deck to kill a Loxodon Warhammer or a Teferi’s Moat. The Verdant embrace is there just because at times, it is just a monster and I had one slot left. I’ll be moving to the G/R version along with everyone else.

This next one is also fun and filled with great stuff but is really only about third tier because creatures are just too vulnerable and too slow.

4 Birds of Paradise
4 Creeping Mold
23 Forest
4 Llanowar Elves
3 Mirri, Cat Warrior
4 Troll Ascetic
2 Baru, Fist of Krosa
4 Boreal Druid
4 Gaea's Anthem
4 Mwonvuli Acid-Moss
4 Ohran Viper

1 Dodecapod
4 Hail Storm
4 Tormod's Crypt
3 Krosan Grip
3 Quagnoth

Sometimes the Land Destruction just wins you the game. But then, the other cards don’t really matter when that happens, do they? I just love decks with 4 Moss and 4 Mold. I love decks with powerful second turn plays like Ohran Viper or Troll Ascetic. And God forgive me, I love Baru, Fist of Krosa. He’s not that good, he never works the way you want him to, but I still love him. But you know, those guys aren’t really all that fat. I remember thinking “It’s always the last fattie that kills you.” And I’ve been away from that theme for too long. Remember when you used to be able to cast a Verdant Force on the third turn thanks to Gaea’s Cradle? Well, Scryb Ranger isn’t that good, but it’s a close second.

2 Creeping Mold
20 Forest
4 Llanowar Elves
2 Serrated Arrows
4 Treetop Village
3 Verdant Force
3 Verdeloth the Ancient
4 Wall of Roots
4 Boreal Druid
4 Indrik Stomphowler
2 Jedit Ojanen of Efrava
4 Scryb Ranger
4 Spectral Force

4 Hail Storm
4 Tormod's Crypt
3 Essence Warden
4 Krosan Grip

See how you have Scryb Ranger, Llanowar Elves, Boreal Druid AND Wall of Roots? Just imagine how much mana you can get to in a short amount of time. Notice the massive, all by themselves game winning creatures that cost a lot of mana? Now just imagine what can happen when you draw a bunch of huge fatties and not enough creature mana sources. Or those creature mana sources get killed by Dark Blast over and over again. Yeah, it’s not good.

So, taking the current environment into consideration, this is what I chose to play in yesterday’s tournament. I had seen two of these types of decks make top eight in a tournament a few days ago so I thought would try my luck.

4 Birds of Paradise
4 Brushland
6 Forest
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Loxodon Hierarch
4 Overrun
5 Plains
4 Temple Garden
4 Treetop Village
4 Watchwolf
4 Wrath of God
4 Heartwood Storyteller
4 Indrik Stomphowler
1 Serra Avenger
4 Tarmogoyf

4 Essence Warden
3 Harmonic Sliver
4 Jotun Grunt
4 Quagnoth

You know what two cards are really powerful right now? Wrath of God and Overrun.

Here’s the failed logic of this deck.

If they’re playing lots of Counterspells, then a turn two Heartwood Storyteller is a beating.

If they’re playing Hatching Plans storm combo or goblin + saproling Overrun then Wrath of God is pretty damn good. (If hatching plans tries to win with the Goblin Warrens route that is.)

Indrik Stomphowler can take out those nasty enchantments and Loxodon Warhammers that are so prevalent and sometimes game ending (Teferi’s Moat.)

Tarmogoyf – heh. Like I need to explain this guy. Combine him with Watchwolf and you have early (and cheap!) beatings. Mmmmm beatings…

Notice the lots and lots of guys? Twenty-nine to be exact. That’s a combo with Overrun right there! And if they Wrath, I have Treetop Village and hopefully draw more creatures.

And check out that sideboard!

Jotun Grunt can be a beating against dredge. Quagnoth rocks against the Rack discard decks. Harmonic Sliver against the Pegasus decks and Essence Warden against the G/R and Storm Combo decks (because they’ll let her live so long…)

See, it is prepared for everything, has built in blue hate, some nice 4/4’s and possibly 5/6’s

What could go wrong?

Let’s take a look.

My first round opponent is playing black red. More burn than American Chili. You know why I say American chili and not Mexican? Because Americans are addicted to spices. You go down to Mexico and the food is blander than American food. They taste our chili and wonder “Why so spicy?” I saw it on Anthony Bourdain so it must be true. A Mexican in Mexico said it. I’m lyin I’m dyin.

One of the things America does well, and that I really like, is dressings and spices. In both Spain and France and Germany, sandwiches come with no dressings and no toppings. Sure, you might get some butter on your ham sandwich in France, but that’s it baby. Bread and meat. No lettuce, no tomato, no choice of mustard or ketchup, no salt, no pickles no olives no hot peppers. Just a naked sandwich of bread and meat. Sure, this is a generalization, I know it. You can find places that will make you an American style sandwich (Subway) but it’s not the norm. As for spices, you go to a restaurant and order a steak; you have to ask for salt. Or pepper. Or ketchup. Or A-1 sauce. Or horseradish. Ah who am I kidding, you ask for horseradish you’ll get “Que?”

Wait, wasn’t I talking about Magic? Oh yeah, American Chili Burn Boy.

In game one I keep a one land, one bird, and one elf draw and pray for land. I draw three in a row, a nice mix of forests and plains and when he plays a Magus of the Moon it has no effect on me. I play a Loxodon and go up to 22. He Chars it. I play a Stomphowler he Chars it. You know what’s good in this situation of him filling his graveyard with Fanatics, Seal of Fire and Char? Tarmogoyf. Then Overrun.

Admittedly, he drew a lot of land. That my friends, is Magic. The random element of him drawing and playing a land every turn and me, luckily doing the same for only three turns, wins me the game, and I don’t care. I won. I must be a damn genius. My deck building skills rock. I don’t care that it’s a good pairing. I don’t care that I got awesome draws and his sucked donkey sweat, I won. I am the man.

This my friends, this is why we continue to play this totally random game. Because even awful players like you and me can score a win once in a while

I side out my Wraths since I want to keep my creatures and as soon as I can, I will win. I won’t need to Wrath because there’s never going to be a time when his creatures are bigger than mine. I add in Essence Warden thinking, he doesn’t have any enchantments I need to kill; does he? Nah, I can just leave out the Slivers.

I drop an Essence Warden which he dispatches with mafia like swiftness via Mogg Fanatic. I drop a Bird and he does the same thing again. I drop another Bird; he uses Seal of Fires on it. Then he drops a Rain of Gore. Wow. Never seen that before. I would imagine that would be good against those Martyr of Sands decks. I’m pretty happy he killed my Essence Warden now. I think I will play my Tarmogoyf now and hold onto this Loxodon Hierarch for later. Like, after I draw a Stomphowler or after he or I are dead.

He Chars it. I play a Stomphowler, he Chars it. Treetop village starts its inexorable beatdown. Magus of the Moon stops that but now he’s at two. Tarmogoyf comes online again and he concedes.

That was fun. What a perfect match up. I love Magic. My hard work has paid off. I am going to make top eight today.

Refreshed and happy with my good fortune, I return to my Spanish lessons for forty minutes and wait for the round to end.

The dice are rolling and once again I am playing this sixty card lottery ticket I love so much. Sure, it’s not a lottery ticket for Finkle and Budde, but for me, it’s a six dollar scratchy that rarely pays out.

Guess what I play round two?

That’s right. The same deck. Oh my God do I love good pairings. I love Magic.

Game one was just plain perfect for him. Rift Bolt x2, Dark Confidant x2, Seal of Fire x2 Giant Solifuge x2. I am dead before I have even stopped smiling at my good fortune. Blinking, I shake my head and mouth the words “What… the fuck…”

Admitedly, thinking back, I did make a mistake. I wrathed away a lone Dark Confidant on the board, not wanting him to draw extra cards. Then he played another one and then a Solifuge and another Solifuge. I look wistfully at my Wrath in the graveyard. I sure could have used that Wrath to better effect.

Okay, since Wrath could have been so good for me, I think I’ll keep them in this time when I sideboard, only pulling in a few Slivers.

Wow. That was a scary fluke. Oh well, it’s over now and I’m just going draw well, play well, and smash this deck that has no chance against Heartwood Storyteller, Loxodon Hierarch and Tarmogoyf. No chance.

Well the second game was mulligan to six, keep a five land and one elf draw then draw land and weenies while Rakdos Guildmages and Slaughter Pact, well, slaughtered everything I played and Giant Spiders (I’m sorry Evan, I can’t call him “Capt Tickles” that name just creeps me out) ate my face. The Cryoclasm on one land and the Slaughter Pact on a Treetop Village sure didn’t help either. Oh and not drawing a Wrath. Or a Loxodon Hierarch. Or a Storyteller. Or a Watchwolf. Or a Tarmogoyf until the turn I lost. So not fun. I hate Magic. This is a stupid game and I would do better to be flushing six dollars down the toilet. Not as much fun, but I don’t feel like smashing my fist through a wall after flushing. Who needs this stress? Who I ask you? Who?

I fume and try to go back to Spanish lessons since I’ve just be smashed in under ten minutes and have a long time to wait for the next round to start.

Round three.

My opponent is playing a deck I’ve never seen before and if it’s his design, then he has a pretty cool take on things. It’s Black white using Epochrasite, Teysa, Ghost Council, and just enough elimination to take out my blockers. Wrath just makes his Epochrasites into 4/4 guys with haste in three turns and his black creatures into 1/1 fliers It’s quite a puzzle as I can never get rid of the Epochrasites no matter what I do. He has enough elimination that I can’t keep enough guys on the board to Overrun and his slow but relentless army grows and my guys aren’t big enough to get through never dying 4/4’s. It is complete frustration for me from the word go.

Fuck! Fuck! I hate this fucking game! Fuck!

Oh well, it’s a small tournament, maybe a 3-2 can sneak in. I’ve done that before. And even if I don’t a couple more wins under my belt will improve my mood tremendously. Let’s get a beer, a shot of Jack, a tranquilizer, smoke a quick joint, a massage, a long lingering hot shower and see if I can calm down and get back to work. (Totally kidding, you know that right?)

Round four. The laughs continue.

Mono Green beatdown. You have to be kidding me. You have Moldervine Cloak, Giant Growth and Might of Old Krosa, I have Heartwood Storyteller. You have a bunch of untargetable guys, I have Wrath. You have early damage, I have Loxodon Hierarch.

You my friend, have no chance. I admire your courage though. Oh wait, but you are 1-2 and like me. Courage or something else? Hmm, I think I know the answer to that being a Mono Green kind of guy myself. Anyway, you are a fool and I am playing with Wrath and therefore, you will lose.

Ten minutes later I am attempting to uninstall Magic Online and nothing is happening. I don’t know why the uninstall isn’t working, but I give up after three attempts and think maybe it’s a sign. Lorwyn is coming and WOTC clearly doesn’t have enough of my money.

I am a moron.

I work the rest of the day and then Wendy makes us some Apricot Mustard Chicken which I gorge myself on. Supposed to be enough for two meals and I eat all but 5 little pieces, too small to even be called a hand full. While we eat, we watch Ultimate Fighter 6 episode 2.

This season is fantastic so far. The rivalry between the two coaches is fantastic. Two completely different personalities, different styles, both of them utter whack jobs. And I mean that in the nicest possible way. They are both very entertaining and mean well, but are inherently flawed and have no idea.

Matt Hughes actually brings his guys bibles and before practice has them read a passage from Isaiah and when they’re done, he wants them to explain who they thought he (Matt Hughes) resembled in the story. One of the fighters looks right at the camera and goes “um, God” to which we roared.

“Now, you don’t have to read it” says Matt Hughes to his fighters. “But it’s a good story.”

Wendy and I go ballistic Sure you don’t have to read it. The thing I, the coach, a guy you all look up to, is suggesting you do though. And while everyone else is reading, and you choose not to, showing your individuality and choice, I’ll come over and pressure you to read it again.

Are you fucking kidding me?

Matt Serra is no better. Embarrassing a friend of his on national TV, and telling everyone to keep training, he’s going to the house to kick a pussy off his team. All of which is totally justified actually, but not something you do when you’re the coach and the footage is going to be shown later and “your boy” is going to see it.

The cast is excellent so far this season with the exception of Matt Serra’s friend “Joe” who is so annoying and such a crybaby he makes me want to smack him. Of course, he could probably kill me, but hey, I’m in Spain and on the internet so I can say what I want.

After that we watch some “Camera CafĂ©” which is a comedy entirely shot in front of a coffee machine in an office building. It’s all in Spanish and I’m trying to learn from watching. The cast is excellent, the skits clever, and understand a bunch of what’s going on, but miss quite a bit as well. I’m told it’s a great way to learn.

After that, Heroes!

Flicking through the channels we find "Heroes" on Sci Fi. It’s season one, episode one and we can watch it in English with Spanish subtitles. Also helps my Spanish. Some good. The first episode last year I found to be so awful that I turned it off twenty minutes into it. Then I gave it another chance later in the season and found it to be interesting if not excellent. Then, I really started to enjoy it.

After that we find some Robot Chicken. Wendy watches it for a couple of minutes and looks at me “What… the… fuck…”

“It’s geek pop culture. That’s Mortal Kombat.”

“What’s that?”

“About the most popular video game of the 1990’s. That’s Karate Kid. That’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. That’s Voltron. That’s Snake Eyes from G.I. Joe.”

Wendy looks at me like I have seven heads then turns back to the T.V.

“Brittany Spears” Wendy says. “Joey Fatone from N’Sync”

Ah, geeking out. I love it. It’s been a great day.

Friday morning I get up and Wendy has an important client meeting so I put on “Superman: Doomsday” and watch that.

While not as awful as it could have been, it isn’t anywhere near as good as it could have been either. Really, for a treatment on the comic that sold the most copies in comic history, it’s a pretty lame attempt to bring it to the screen.

Ready for the spoilers? They’re coming next so look away.

The Good – It’s rated PG-13 so they can do stuff in here they don’t do in many animated films. Like kill people. Like show Superman and Lois in full frontal nudity. Wait, strike that last part… Okay, they don’t have nudity but they do have Lois and Kal in robes in the Fortress of Solitude and it’s clear they have just done the super nasty. Doomsday is pretty vicious. He kills soldiers by twisting their heads off. He tries to kill a little girl. He kills a deer. Later in the film, an evil Superman starts killing villains. Honestly, I welcome the reality. Sorry people, but the fact is, bad people kill things. The storyline, while adapted from the original, is pretty good. Superman dies. Doomsday dies. Another Superman rises to take his place. Superman comes back. It’s a different story line but the bare essentials of the original, well, sort of happen.

It was also nice to see the reality of destruction that is two super beings fighting. I’ve addressed this before. The physics and morality of the DC and Marvel universe are ignored a lot of the time. If Doomsday throws Superman through an entire building, people are going to die. A lot of people. The movie does a good job of showing that hey, these are Gods living in a paper machete world. Humans are a bag of water to beings made of substances harder than diamond and stronger than a blue whale crossed with a crane.

In the DC and Marvel universe there are beings that cannot be stopped by any weapon we have. If Doomsday wasn’t stopped by Superman, he would have gone on a killing spree that nothing in humanity’s arsenal could have stopped. He could do whatever he wanted until he died of old age. Humanity would be extinguished.

I gotta get me a copy of "The Boys."

The Bad – Look, this is the most bought comic EVER. It’s too long to do the full treatment? Why? It’s a straight to video release! Have it come on two disks. Have it be a mini series. Release it in chapters like the Lord of the Rings. Making this less than 90 minutes does a disservice to the comic. There’s no excuse for this. DC and Marvel need to show more respect for their wares. For their art. For their product. The other bad is the writing. Some of the dialogue is painful, other times, not too bad. And, Doomsday is turned into a machine like the terminator instead of being an organic life form. Dumb. And Superman is drawn poorly. He has some jagged cheek lines that look retarded. Like he’s 90 years old.

The Ugly – No Justice League. COME ON! They were a major part of the original story and the denouement is when Superman shows up. The Justice League got their ASS KICKED fighting Doomsday and it was Superman’s shining moment that sometimes, only another unstoppable force could get it done. An unstoppable force willing to give his life for the cause. Also, some of the logic in the storyline broke down so badly that it pulled you out of the movie and made you think “Okay now that is just stupid.”

Doomsday can’t fly, he can only jump. At one point, Superman flies him into the upper reaches of the atmosphere and then rockets back to Earth with him and slams him into the ground.

Why not just throw him into outer space? Voila, problem solved.

Why bring him back into the city? Rocket him back to Earth in an empty field miles from the city and stop causing property damage and loss of human life.

Lex is smarter than that. He has one failsafe that the bad Superman discovers and neutralizes so Lex loses control over his creation. Lex is, um, Lex. Cure for Cancer, Aids and MS in the DC universe. Multibillionaire. Smartest guy on the PLANET. I think he knows better than to have one failsafe against an unstoppable Superman clone.

Bad Superman uses heat vision to perform brain surgery on himself. And there’s no blood, and it heals instantly. Pretty dumb.

Despite its flaws, I still give it a “C+” It wasn’t awful, it wasn’t great, but it was worth the rental.


  1. magic is .... werid
    sometime its the best game ever.
    and your at 2 and hes at 3 and there is an army on the field. and its a great game.
    Other times everything you have done has been stopped because you didnt draw enough threats to layer through the counters.
    and is sucks

    soo you know what i did?
    I stopped playing anything but sealed.
    that way i can always go to tourney and i can always be assured that my deck building skills wont be negated by a 26 counterspells POS

  2. Hey Jamie, this is Andy, I used to play MtG at in Middlebury and I dragged you to Glens Falls a couple of times to play. Shoot me an email at rograndom (at) gmail dom com sometime.

  3. Hey Jamie this is Amy from JSC I just stumbled onto this and thought I would leave you a quick note. Email

  4. They say the mind is the first thing to go!! email is

  5. Joey Fatone. He's got his own TV show called The Singing Bee.

    And Fatone. Fat-One. I love that last name. He must have caught a ration of $h!t for that back in high school.

    Good luck with the Spanish, err that Es-PAN-Yole.


  6. Jamie - I was looking for a way to email you - you might like today's shirt-woot. (Woot is a site where they sell one thing a day until it is sold out - stuff is pretty cheap on it and nearly always of a techy nature - well, they also have a t-shirt site (one a day until sold out)).

    So if you read this on Oct 11th - check out

    Today's shirt just made me think of you and Wendy. 8-)

    A long long long time "fan" - Dave from Harrisburg, PA

  7. Jamie,
    after forever i have finally found a copy of your book via, ordered it, recieved it currently reading it, hopefully you get most of the money from it :) as it is my little way (aside from this) of saying thank you for writing your stuff that made me look forward to the next article, that helped get me through a very "interesting" shall i say teenage life all those years ago

    once again thank you for being Jamie Wakefield