Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wicked Anime Reviews #5 Pandora Hearts

Anime reviews delivered directly to the face!

Who is it for?
Fantasy and mystery fans need to jump on this now. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass fans have already watched this twice.

Terms to know:
Abyss - A shitty pit world of shadows and chains. Much like my bedroom.

Chain - A being that lives in the hellish Abyss and can only live in the human world after making a contract. Much like Dick Cheney.

Contractor - The human who makes a contract with a chain. A seal is placed over their hearts with the symbol of a clock. If the clock hands move full circle, the contractor will die. Much like the true conspiracy behind Heath Ledger's death.

B-Rabbit - Black Rabbit. B-Rabbit is the nickname given to a very infamous chain who's name is in fact Alice. It's not about the street cred.

Four Great Dukedoms - Four royal families. They exist. Moving on.

How it begins:
Oz Vessalius is a carefree and intelligent young lad and he's turning 15. Apparently if you're in a Duke family, 15 is the age to be. A coming of age ceremony is being thrown for him and things seem fine and dandy. Oz invites his servant and best friend Gilbert to the ceremony even though it isn't normal procedure and Gil gets all misty eyed. Before the festivities begin, trouble starts to brew. Without revealing the events that lead up to it, the party quickly becomes Oz's demise as he is sent to the Abyss. Gosh I do miss those days; growing up and getting sent to the Abyss. You know, the good old days.

Oz meets Alice in the Abyss and they make their way back to be introduced to a group known as Pandora. They find out that it just so happens making contracts with chains is ILLEGAL. Oops? So things start off with Alice needing to find her lost memories, Pandora researching the Abyss, other groups intervening, the mystery of all the events that occur throughout the stories timeline as well as the mystery of who the Baskervilles are, and Oz being thrown into the middle of all of this and having to work for Pandora and assist his chain Alice. It sounds pretty ordinary right?

What rocks?
The characters are dynamic, have great character designs, and are very intriguing.
The story is a weaving of mysteries that the main cast is tasked to solve.
The music is something to look forward to each episode.

What sucks?
Fight scenes are honestly kind of bland at times. Sorry, action fans.
The last few episodes are rushed and honestly kind of terrible.
The story doesn't conclude. The Manga continues the story though.

I enjoyed it heavily. I recommend that everyone watch it. The only thing is that if you want to finish the story, you'll have to continue it in the Manga. So rather than this feeling like a series, it feels more like the greatest introduction to a Manga conceivable.

I was trying something different this time. Let me know what you think. SOUND OFF IN THE COMMENTS!

This is Kylak signing out.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Video Spotlight #1 Crater Face

Sharing videos I managed to find scattered across the internet.

Disclaimer: I do NOT own this and I did NOT make this. It's a video by Skyler Page.

HUGE EDIT: Originally I just posted the video and left it at that but due to request I am giving some background information for those that want it.

So I found this video and just like everyone else, had the initial reaction of, "I have no clue what to expect from this."

It's a tale of an Astronaut on the moon who finds two moon "pimples" of opposite gender and befriends them both. After discussing things with the male, he decides to risk it all to allow them to be together.

It's a giant mixture of wonderful comedic moments and a tale of love conquering all within the span of less than five minutes. It's a beautiful work of art and honestly made my eyes want to water. So get to watching already.

This is Kylak signing out.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Play It! Pure and Simple #1 Mega Man Legends

Games to get out and play! New and old.

Mega Man Legends... oh how we hardly knew ye...

I should start off with some kind of disclaimer here. Mega Man Legends 1 & 2 are old games. That's right, Playstation ONE old. So given, you're going to be going back to an old era to play these. Take that with a grain of salt. You can't compare them to something out now because it just isn't fair. It's like comparing the original Mario to Super Mario Galaxy or even worse, comparing Mario to Metal Gear Solid 4, which would just be silly to begin with. Apples to Oranges and Apples to Piles of Gold and all that.

There is good news about it being a Playstation One game: you can get it for cheap. There are people trying to sell it for the same price as a new game but there are many willing to sell it for five bucks or less and if you're lucky enough to find it in a local game store, it will be dirt cheap. Other good news: They are trying to get this series on PSOne Classics for the Playstation Network so that's great news for all PS3 owners. Be looking out for that. And there is word for a Wii Virtual Console download to hopefully be coming up since it was ported over to the N64 back in the day.

Almost everyone has heard of Mega Man but not many know of Mega Man Legends. While normally Mega Man games are of the Platform genre, Legends is a roleplaying adventure game. Think Legend of Zelda-esque here. You have a massively expansive 3D world (that's right, first Mega Man game in 3D) and the main character isn't even the Mega Man we all know. Think of this as being set in an alternate universe basically. The Roll for this series is also a different Roll. No other names return though. It's an all new cast and all new story. The fact that the story is more complex than just "Go beat 8 robot masters and Dr. Wily" is already a huge plus. The fact that Dr. Wily doesn't even exist in this storyline is also a huge plus. Sorry Dr. Light, that means you don't exist here either.

The main character isn't even a robot and he is only named Mega Man because it's Roll's favorite video game character. Mega Man Volnutt and his buddy Data were found during a dig by Barrell Caskett (Roll Caskett's grandfather so yeah, together they are Barrell Roll... gotta luv it... though I don't quite get the double l's). Dig's are the term for excavations in ruins. Brave individuals go about this task because of a very important fact about the world: THE EARTH IS FLOODED! Shit went down ages ago that caused the Earth to be flooded and only small islands exist throughout the world. A new energy source is used, known as Refractors. Diggers go in search of these for the obvious reason of how valuable they are to life as we know it. You start the game off as Mega Man Volunutt, the digger, many years after being adopted and raised by Barrell. You're already in a dig site at the beginning which is basically the tutorial level.

You have a pretty spiffy suit that is equipped with different adjustable weapons for each arm. Your left arm weapon is your main buster arm while your right is your special weapon arm. The left arm has different adjustments like firing rate, range, damage, and energy (ammo capacity basically). These are adjusted by acquiring different buster parts that you can plug into slots with different combinations much like the Materia system from Final Fantasy 7. Your special weapons are created by finding different parts that Roll will be able to combine (she's your mechanic) into a single weapon. So you can play around with different weapons for different jobs. You can also upgrade different stats and even upgrade your armor and more. Getting the hoverskate shoes later on is a blast.

There is tons of different mission types such as dungeon exploration, investigation, protecting the city, puzzles, and your typical fetch quests, fights, and boss battles that you would expect. Different parts of town that you can access after getting different licenses also reveal more side quests and mini-games.

After you get through the first dungeon, you are back on your airship the Flutter. How else do you expect them to get from island to island? Airships are the way to go. Shit goes down though and you are forced to crash land on Kattelox Island. Pirates show up known as the Bonnes and you decide to stop their efforts. You're such a nice guy. Look at you. So they get pissed and become recurring villains.

They're also the comic relief so learn to love them. There are other interesting characters introduced later and especially in Mega Man Legends 2 but you'll just have to play to find out.

If you like the idea of a Legend of Zelda game starring Mega Man so you can shoot and blow up things then go find this. Keiji Inafune, the creator of Mega Man and creator of the Legends series still finds this to be his favorite series and consistently tells the press that he wants to make a third. A Mega Man game with a more complex and mysterious story, roleplaying elements, and exploration? Yeah, it probably is the best Mega Man game. I haven't managed to play this game in quite awhile so I can't say if it has stood the test of time but not many games do so we'll see if I can find another copy since mine is lost.

It's pretty obvious that they want to raise interest in the series as this particular Mega Man has appeared in Namco X Capcom and Tatsunoko VS Capcom: Ultimate All Stars as well as cameos in Dead Rising (you can find the Servbot helmet and the mega man volnutt buster arm). So hopefully the PS3: PSOne Classics and Wii Virtual Console plans will work out. Let's hope that all comes together to make it even easier and cheaper to get this game. It may not be as great NOW but it's definitely worth looking into.

This is Kylak signing out.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Leak Sauce #3 Playstation Network Plus

Leaking info to you and bringing the discussion.

So basically, Playstation Network (PSN) and Xbox Live have been compared to each other since day one. And who wouldn't? PSN has been free since day one while Live will cost you $50 a year. Here's the important thing: it's always been worth it to pay the money. Sony announced a premium version of PSN and people freaked out. They were worried that they would have to pay money for something that's been free since the beginning.

Well my friends, freak out no longer.

PSN Plus (PSN+) is definitely a premium service but the regular PSN will still be up for all PS3 users. They will not be taking away anything from you. What they will be doing is offering a service that rivals that of Live. It should be noted that it will cost the same as Live.

Currently on the free version of PSN you get:
Cross-game chat
Video and voice chat
Internet Browser
Google search engine
Playstation Home
Life With Playstation
Lobbies for online play
Playstation Store (to buy downloadable content (DLC) and PSOne classics)
and some other services like Netflix
annnd a boatload of features like a block list, commenting, Facebook, etc.

and all the things you would expect like:
Multiplayer gameplay (up to 7 controllers locally or connect online)
Friends list (up to 100)
and more

That's the free list.

Here are some of the things that will be available for the PSN+:

Every Month (30 days or whatever) players get free shiz. You like free right?
Free Network games, free PSOne classics, and free Minis.
If you ever stop your subscription then you don't get access to the free stuff you had until you continue your subscription but that's kind of obvious right?

There will also be exclusive themes, avatars, early access to demos and betas.


The ability to download games to try before you buy!! That's freaking awesome.

AND - there's more???

Regular items in the Playstation Store are discounted.


Not as important to me personally but you can set your PS3 to auto turn on and download firmware and game updates.

That's a whole lot of shiz right there. $50 a year is only like... what... $4 a month? I'm sure you could gather enough pocket change each month to cover that.

So yeah... look forward to that.

This is Kylak signing out.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Decklist Ex Machina #3: Pri-aura-tize

Coming up with fun decklists so you don't have to.

So I was going to go on this tangent about how this used to be a green/white casual deck I played and how all the good green aura related cards in Magic have been rendered useless thanks to White taking over the enchantment department completely to the point that green isn't worth it but I realized, you don't want to hear about that. So we're going to trudge right along. Or skip right along if you're Auratog.

This guy was the original basis behind everything. The adorable ward eater craves aura munchies and it's our job to feed him. No veggies though cuz this deck cut out all the Green. Get it? GET IT?! Yeah... it's not very funny. So let's skip to the next card.

This was the second piece to the puzzle back when it first came out but did you see that top card earlier? Either my link is broken or someone might be wearing fog goggles. Kor Spiritdancer is like a backwards Auratog and a Mesa Enchantress combined. That's freaking awesome. She revived this deck from its ashes right around the time I was planning on revamping it. What are the odds right?

The bottom line is card advantage. Card advantage cranked up to eleven. More than your body has room for. Pumped up to the X-treme without an E because it's that hardcore. Yeah, I think you get the point. The beauty here is that auras would normally be the worst card type due to card disadvantage but this deck eliminates that flaw entirely and goes as far as asking if you would like moar... because moar.

It also has fun tricks. Tricks may be for kids but then you can just headbutt those kids and steal their tricks because your powers are far superior to those of children. After having creatures blown up, because, let's face it, it's going to happen, their auras will go with them to the grave and eventually create a different investment. One cards trash is another cards treasure and in this case, Retether is the recycler. I would make a joke about how this deck is going Green but it got rid of all the green to be a better deck so... shit... that ruined everything! Maybe one day Green will get something nifty and I can edit this thing and FINALLY take advantage of that joke. This used to be part of the combo with Moldervine Cloak's dredge but insert relationship failure joke here. Sorry, I got lazy on the jokes like how Green got lazy with your mom and so last night wasn't as special as they had both planned. I'm talking about a fishing trip. Is anyone following any of this?

So I figured Umbra Mystic sounds like a good idea. Everyone nodding here? So one last creature to add and I figured it should be Kitchen Finks just to remind myself even more about how Green no longer exists in this deck. If graveyard abusing decks are a problem in your neighborhood then I suggest Jotun Grunt. If artifacts are the norm then maybe Kataki, War's Wage suits your tastes? Just put in something that will work. Kitchen Finks is pretty universal here.

So now that we are so beyond sure that this is an aura deck, you're probably wondering where all the auras are?

These are totally up to you. No joke. Go nuts. I will give my list but I am not saying it's the best list ever. It's just a list that works for me and stop judging me!

Spirit Loop - With Rancor probably never having a chance at being reprinted, this works really well for what we need. Ward chomper (Auratog) combos with these Fruit Loops and he loves every minute of it.

Temporal Isolation - Because I like semi-removal in this deck and this is about as close as it gets. If you're confused with the card text, it basically translates to "target creature can't attack or block" at instant speed.

Oblivion Ring/Faith's Fetters/Prison Term - More semi-removal. Choose O-ring if you have to deal with Planeswalkers but be warned that it isn't an aura.

Armored Ascension - We're playing mono white now so why not?

Hyena Umbra/Griffin Guide/Guardian's Magemark - Choose one and choose wisely or go pick something else.
And now for some groovy tricks:

You use all of your Prison Terms and Temporal Isolations to leave them without any good blockers. Then your team swings in for the kill. The opponent declares no blockers and now you can sacrifice all Terms and Isolations to Auratog. He gets a crazy bonus and the game is over before they have the chance to blink.

You purposely sacrifice all enchantments on the field to Auratog and then play Retether.

If you have either the Spiritdancer or Enchantress out and an Auratog, you can play Spirit Loop to draw a card, place it on any creature, then sacrifice it to Auratog to give him a bonus. The card comes back to your hand so you play it again to draw another card and sacrifice it again to Auratog to make his smile that much more creepy. Repeat until satisfied or until you run out of mana.


So how about that decklist?

4 Kor Spiritdancer
4 Auratog
4 Mesa Enchantress
3 Umbra Mystic
3 Kitchen Finks

4 Spirit Loop
4 Temporal isolation
3 Prison Term or Oblivion Ring
3 Armored Ascension
3 Hyena Umbra
3 Retether

20 Plains
2 Emeria, the Sky Ruin

EDIT - May 21st, 2011 - UPDATED LIST

Kor Spiritdancer 4
Mesa Enchantress 4
Auratog 4
Squadron Hawk 4
Kazandu Blademaster 3

Hyena Umbra 4
Armored Ascension 3
Spirit Loop 3
Temporal Isolation 4
Prison Term 3
Retether 2

Emeria, the Sky Ruin 2
Plains 20

So make sure to pri-aura-tize and to never use lame puns like I do.

This is Kylak signing out.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Wicked Anime Reviews #4 Sengoku Basara

Anime reviews delivered directly to the face!

Looking for high octane action that's vibrant and never takes itself seriously while being set in Feudal Japan? Then look no further. This is the anime for you. Looking for a deep engaging plot that forces your mind to ponder? Sorry, not this time.

Sengoku Basara is for the action fans. Pure and simple. Over the top is the name of the game here and for anyone who has ever watched Gurren Lagann, that's just how over the top we are aiming. A few examples including one of the main characters wielding six katanas and flying through the air with slashes creating lightning, the other main character wielding two long spears that ignite in flames, a general stands upon two horses that literally run up a vertical wall, a female ninja that practically goes into orgasms from her general just looking at her a certain way, explosions from melee weapons, falcon punches, and whenever the main villain arrives, a storm cloud and epic music follows every time. Did I mention that one of the main characters rides a horse that might as well be a motorcycle?

*pause for effect*

That's right. Handlebars and mufflers. In the Feudal era.

It has its charms and it has its flaws but ultimately it does what it sets out to do. Even though I would prefer a decent story, it's a fun ride and it's only twelve episodes so it isn't a big investment or anything. It's just a fun little series with samurai, ninja, and feudal lords fighting for supremacy of the land. As almost always we have Oda Nobunaga as the main villain. That's right, the characters are named after real people. It's kind of like Dynasty Warriors but for Japan instead of China. Actually, that's exactly what it is because this anime is based off the game with the same title that is exactly what I just described.

Hence the reason there is very little story. It's based off of a hack and slash video game. It even tries to develop the characters further than the game's counterparts while having all of the same voice actors from the game. Which is good news because these voices fit like a glove. So that's a relief for sure. There's a huge diverse cast here to enjoy and each has quite the elaborate character design.

So I think you get the idea already if you're going to like this or not. If you do like it, watch it now. You've got almost two weeks before the next season starts. That's right, season 2 is coming out because this show did well enough during its first run. It's one of the many shows I'll be reviewing for the summer season. In the infamous words of Date Masamune, "PUT YOUR GUNS ON!"

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Musical Chairs #1 *removed* See link

The content of this post has been removed.

A link will be added to the new post soon.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Leak Sauce #2 Dark Sun

Leaking info to you and bringing the discussion.

Dungeons and Dragons fans get to look forward to 4th Edition's release of Dark Sun or run in terror hoping to survive. Remember kids, if you can't wait for Dark Sun release info, you can go to your local store that runs Dungeons and Dragons Encounters and get a sneak peak. I'm sorry for stating this so late into the month but June is Dark Sun month for D&D Encounters. Supposedly it's Dark Sun summer so maybe they'll do something nifty in July if you missed out?

For those who have no idea what the crap Dark Sun is or what a campaign setting is. Let me start right there. I'm kind like that. D&D has had many campaign settings throughout the years. Some of them they handed to other companies due to different issues like Rokugan (you will be missed). A campaign setting is basically the actual world your group can play in and how the dynamics work really. To give an example, Forgotten Realms is very similar to a Lord of the Rings setting except Hobbits are replaced with Halflings and Halflings are luckily nothing like the hairy bare-footed cowards that exist in Lord of the Rings. The setting itself and the dynamics of the different races changes dramatically in each campaign setting. To give you an overview of what 4th Edition has to offer so far to tickle your fancy:

Points of Light: This has no actual material for it and there's actually a good reason for that. No one knows where anything is! It's the default setting of 4th Edition and basically the renamed Greyhawk setting. Greyhawk was one of the first campaign settings ever for D&D. Points of Light is pretty much how it sounds. There are different points of peace and solitude scattered about the world but the world itself is not mapped out. Adventurers aren't as common due to the high risk and many aren't known to return. Sounds like a vacation to me. Oh wait... they didn't return because of death, not because the hot springs they found were so nice.

Forgotten Realms: The fan favorite really. This is the most common setting and it's the one you think of when you think Lord of the Rings as I said earlier. Dwarves, Elves, and the rest all act the way you think they would and adventuring is more of a norm. The world is mapped out but there are key areas that are way too dangerous to traverse to or through and this world is the most in touch with its Deities. There are other locations outside of the main world like the well known (and popular) Astral Sea that are less mapped out and more abstract. Genasi aren't too uncommon here. I guess you could call them demi-elementals for those wondering. You'll find me dwelling here quite often.

Eberron: This is where things start to get different. I like to joke that this is the Final Fantasy setting. Airships, Trains, and other technological advances exist but in a way that makes sense using elementals to power them. Some towns have buildings with multiple stories and social classes are very defined here. Races aren't necessarily what you would think. Halflings for example are more barbaric and ride dinosaurs in the wilds. Warforged are all over the place. Warforged are basically sentient golems. The setting itself is taking place during the aftermath of a large scale war. The Warforged themselves were built for that very purpose but now are left to live their own lives. Other races include Changelings and Kalashtar.

And now, Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition will have yet another campaign setting from D&D's past. This is THE most dark and gritty setting possible so no whiners allowed. Actually, let's make that a rule for every D&D game. No whiners ever allowed. Get out of here. Dark Sun takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting full of desert. The world itself is ruled by evil Sorcerer Kings and slavery is a norm. The world is harsh and no one survives in this environment alone or even as a small group. Your group will need to find shelter or travel with a caravan of some sort to make it across the desert world of Athas. Many beasts roam the deserts and some races thrive there. I'll get into races later. The most important thing to understand is that arcane magic is different here. While arcane magic is a norm in Forgotten Realms and Eberron, it's almost non-existent here. You know what else is rare here? Water and metal. Enjoy.

Arcane magic kills. I'm not kidding. If you were to cast a spell, it would literally drain the life of someone else somewhere on the planet or the very plant life of Athas. Due to this, there are two kinds of arcane casters. Defilers and preservers. Preservers try to preserve life while casting so their magic is weak sauce basically. Regardless of how good your intentions are, arcane casters are hated no matter how much you try to preserve and no matter how much your face resembles Patrick Stewart. The defiling magic is the reason that Athas is the sandbox of shit that it is. The Sun itself has been drained and Athas was abandoned by its gods long ago. This leads into the next interesting fact.

No Deities. You might think that's not a big deal but that means no Divine classes. There technically are some left but not in the way you would think. Priests draw their power from different elements and aren't much like Clerics or what you may be used to. With arcane magic being rare (and a really bad choice so shame on you for thinking about it) and divine classes pretty much being out, you might be wondering what could possibly flourish here. The answer is Psionics and they are everywhere. I would make some elementary school level joke about your mother's face being a psion except she's already dead but suck it up cuz that's normal here. Survival of the fittest is such an everyday part of life that all of the races here are faster, stronger, tougher, smarter, and ten times sweatier than in other worlds. Psionics are a part of everyday life and it's nice to see the change.

Races are a bit different here. Elves are marauders and scavengers that live throughout the desert. They are known for being tall (unlike their counterparts in other worlds) and capable of running long distances. Some wait for you to die before scavenging while others will steal or kill you outright. Halflings are savage and even cannibalistic. Dwarves are more like demi-humans that are focused on single tasks. Half-Giants are more intelligent than in other worlds and Thri-Kreen are quite common here. Thri-Kreen are a race of mantis people and there's no bug spray in sight. Other races exist but haven't been announced yet for 4th Edition's version of Dark Sun so we'll have to wait and see. Pterran may not exist due to Dragonborn. Who's to say?

Well I think that's enough for a primer. Dark Sun comes to a store near you in August. Prepare your mind bullets, shed some pounds, and bust out the sun screen. I sure hope they don't implement rules for skin cancer.

This is Kylak signing out.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Decklist Ex Machina #2: Chrono Trigger

Coming up with fun decklists so you don't have to.

By special request from a friend (Davey), I'm making a multiplayer decklist built around Lighthouse Chronologist. Just look at the card and you can see why he would pick it. At the end of each opponent's end step you can take an extra turn. The more players the merrier for you.

Before we dare take a step further into the land of screwing up the time space continuum, you need to be informed. Level up, can only be used as a sorcery, which is honestly some kind of terrible. That's what keeps this card from being top tier. You have to waste mana on your own turn and to make matters worse, he starts at level zero. Lame huh? You basically have to pay nine mana for this guy to do what you want. Just like any venture into time, you need careful planning. So one major tip is DON'T play this card too soon. You're just going to have to protect it for that many more turns before you can level it up enough. Always leave mana open to protect this with counterspells. You've got a lot to consider to keep Chrono alive. In the famous words of Dr. Brown, "As long as you hit that wire with the connecting hook at precisely 88mph the instant the lightning strikes the tower... everything will be fine."

Now that the warnings are out of the way, here's the keys to the DeLorean. Let's get that flux capacitor... fluxxing.

Funny enough, when I was looking at Chrono, the first thing that came to mind was strangely Fatespinner. I don't know why really but I decided to just take the idea and run. After tripping a couple of times I stumbled upon some ideas from the past. So I brought those ideas back to the future.

Does everyone remember the Brine Elemental and Vesuvan Shapeshifter combo made famous by the Pickles deck? For those that need a refresher or don't feel like raising their hands in class, the combo works like this. If Briney is turned face up, he skips all of your opponents untap steps. Our friendly neighborhood Shapeshifter decides it's a good idea to turn into Briney and pass the savings onto you. So you cast Shapey as a morph creature, then pay 1U to flip him up and copy Briney, activating the trigger to skip everybody's untap step. He also has the fine print of being able to go face down again during your upkeep so you just pay 1U again each turn to keep doing this over and over until someone throws a chair at you.

Then I remembered our pal Teferi.

Unlike the kind person he is in the storyline, his card is quite the jackass. So let's get a running total here. We've got a wizard that forces each opponent to skip either their draw step, main phase, or combat phase, a pair who constantly prevent each opponent from having an untap step, and another wizard that prevents them from playing instants or cards with flash during turns that aren't their own. To make matters worse for them, we're trying to get our Chrono to level seven to "trigger" (hence the deck's name) his ability. So not only are their turns ruined but we're playing around with time and getting extra turns. So I decided to add one last piece to this scary defense: Kira, Great Glass Spinner. Ridin' spinners indeed.

Other card choices include:
Sun Droplet. This card is always amazing in multiplayer. In fact, most groups have to ban this or else everyone will play them. If your group doesn't ban them then you get the added benefit that you can take even more turns and you will most likely draw into multiples with the different card draw spells that will be added. This will be an early defensive measure and later on will prevent most from ever killing you. Remember that the key is, it says "every" upkeep.

Echoing Truth. This is a swiss army knife. You can use this to wipe out an army of tokens, bounce one of your own creatures back to your hand to save it from being destroyed, or bounce back a major threat that someone slipped past your defenses. I have a bad habit of adding it to most of my Blue multiplayer decks.

Any kind of counterspell. Counterspells aren't usually that great in multiplayer because there are just too many opponents. Having a few though might save your life or prevent that blasted Wrath of God from ruining your day. It's best to find one that either draws you a card (cantrip style) or can be reused.

Sphinx of Jwar Isle. Also known as Jwar Jwar Sphinx. This is your major win condition but many other options will work just as well. Find something that works for you. This one is just handy due to having Shroud and some evasion.

The last card is one that hasn't come out yet. Jace's Ingenuity. It's instant speed card draw so you can play at the end of your opponent's turn just before it comes back to you again.

3 Lighthouse Chronologist
3 Fatespinner
4 Brine Elemental
4 Vesuvan Shapeshifter
3 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
3 Kira, Great Glass Spinner
3 Sphinx of Jwar Isle

3 Sun Droplet
3 Echoing Truth
4 Forbid
3 Jace's Ingenuity

21 Island
3 Halimar Depths

I'll say this much. This isn't my best multiplayer deck by any means but it is an idea I want to see playtested. There were so many cards fighting for spots in this but these are the ones that stood out to be more necessary. I personally like the theme of adding every possible way to screw up an opponent's turn while jumping through time. Davey, I hope you enjoy this one. Just don't play around with time to the point you don't exist after your friends throw enough chairs at you.

I'm not going to suggest expensive options for this particular deck. This is merely the first version of it and would need playtesting and fine-tuning before thinking about what could be taken out. Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Cryptic Command, and others are just kind of obnoxious anyways right?

Wicked Anime Reviews #3 Read or Die

Anime reviews delivered directly to the face!

This time, I'm reviewing an OVA for a change of pace. OVA stands for Original Video Animation. As far you're concerned, consider anime movie and OVA to be synonymous. Got the popcorn ready?

Our story starts off with the White House blowing up into bits of fire and dust. That's right. Wake up people. Shit is going down. Then we get a very 007-esque opening before switching scenes to spy on our main character. Yomiko Readman, is a book fanatic. You might think you're a book fanatic, but Yomiko has you beat hands down with your arms and legs tied behind your back as you're being placed onto railroad tracks in the most old fashioned cartoony-cliche way.

After just getting her little paws on a rare book, she's bombarded by a mecha grasshopper. Yes, you're still watching the same anime. Guess who's riding this thing? Jean Henri Fabre himself. The link throws you over to his wiki if you haven't heard of him. If you want to get technical, this isn't the original Fabre but a clone. You learn that several geniuses have had their DNA cloned to create beings known as I-jin. Historical fans will have fun with this. Fabre steals the book and Readman refuses to let it be taken. She manipulates paper as if by magic and takes out Fabre to reclaim her beloved novel that she huggles and squeezes like a puppy.

We're next introduced to Joker. His codename is more ironic then anything because he's a very stiff British man. He is head of the British Library Special Operations Division and he's got a job for Agent Paper (Yomiko Readman). The I-jin are wrecking up the place and it's her duty to stop them if she could just take even five minutes away from a book.

Now that you get an idea of how this begins, let me go over some things that make this movie rank literally in my top 10.

1) Drake Anderson. One of the three main characters of the movie. Almost every line he shouts is gold. He's the serious and experienced type but also part of the comic relief. He's the only agent without super powers but he's as tough as they come. His personality is a comfy contrast to Agent Paper's flighty and ditzy attitude.

2) Nancy Makuhari (a.k.a. Miss Deep). Our resident femme fatale. She's quite the badass and even jokes that her codename sounds like something a porn star would have. The title Miss Deep comes from the fact that she can pass through objects and people. X-Men fans could compare this to Shadowcat.

3) Art. Whether you are a fan of writing, music, poetry, or any of the arts in some form, you are going to be pleased. Art is a defining feature to the overall plot and you'll just have to watch the whole thing to understand.

4) Spy movies. While I'm not a fan of 007 personally this movie is dripping with the spy genre all over it. It manages to pull this off well and it's something rarely done in anime so I applaud it. Even non-spy fans like myself can appreciate it.

5) Dub. The dub is actually really top notch. I prefer it over the sub and you should at least watch it the first time in dub even if your preference is sub. There are many characters from around the world. Fabre's french accent and Otto Lilienthal's german accent (among others) are only going to be heard in the dub and you can appreciate the cultural diversity more when hearing it for yourself.

6) Story. A pretty unique story unfolds here with plot twists and all included. I can't talk about them here so go watch. Why are you still reading this?

7) Action. There's plenty for the action fan to enjoy here with tons of powers and creative fights to get excited over. Enough said.

So figure out a codename and get ready for your mission agent. I'm sending you into the field to watch this and report back here.

This is Kylak signing out.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Critical Playtesting #1 The Bard

Playtesting different classes and races so you'll give them a shot.

I could be horribly wrong but I feel that the Bard is one of the most overlooked classes of Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition. I find it hilarious since the Bard was well received in 3.5 and yet it was crap back then. Here it is, fixed, redesigned, repackaged, half the number of calories, the same great taste, and not many people are giving it a second look.

Some of the reasons people aren't playing a Bard:
The Cleric is a better healer.
The Warlord is better at dishing out the hurt.
The Shaman is able to summon.
The Ardent is psionic and new and shiny.
They don't know what the Bard does differently from other classes with a Leader role.

Some of the reasons people SHOULD play a Bard:
1) Multi-class master. Thanks to this, you can fill in almost any role.
2) You are the king of positioning allies and enemies.
3) You get almost every skill in the game.
4) You're the best Leader at debuffing thanks to being a secondary controller.
5) You're almost as good at enabling second attacks as the Warlord is.
6) You can lead from any position.

So let's get into details shall we? Some of these could use elaboration.

1) Other classes can only multi-class once. You laugh at them. You can multi-class as much as your heart desires and possibly the hearts of your friends if they really want you pulling off certain roles that they need for their team. Gotta love peer pressure right? The funny thing is, even the simplest idea of multi-classing with the other Leaders means you can gain access to better healing abilities. Normally the Bard is only average at healing but after multi-classing with the Cleric or another Leader, you can heal giant gaping wounds with the best of them. Another really nifty thing is, you can multi-class with different Defender classes and after grabbing some feats and other things, you can actually be a secondary defender. So you can be a Leader, Controller (right out of the box without much help), or even Defender. You are some kind of swiss-army sword my friend. Don't try to build a Striker version though. Better people have tried. Give up on it. You excel more at Leader and Controller though than Defender, just to make sure we're clear on this. Kapish?

2) You can literally move allies around to enemies that they might not be able to reach otherwise. There are so many strategic advantages to this you wouldn't believe. Anyone who has played Chess or a Tactics game will get this instantly. You can position allies out of tough spots like if they're surrounded and you can even position enemies. This always turns into fun when you can throw enemies into fire, pits, traps, their grandma, or whatever.

3) Who doesn't like getting skills? More skills means you get more street cred. Now that 4th edition has skill challenges (make sure your DM is implementing those, they're fun) you are ready for just about anything they can throw at you. You can also use skills in clever ways in or out of combat.

4) Some say that you could literally replace a Controller in the party. Other Leaders can't say that. You're just that good. Show off your stuff. Controllers weren't originally defined as primarily large scale debuffers when 4th Edition first came out. The design team realized that controllers would need to do more than just AoE (area of effect) spells and so they passed this little present on over to them to add to their repertoire. Being a Leader, you already can buff and heal while still having better HP than a controller normally would.

5) Warlord's are the masters of adding critical bonuses and generating second attacks for your allies. You're the second best at this and your allies will always appreciate you for this. Go you. Be ready for a lot of high fiving later.

6) Some Leader classes are forced to lead from certain positions. Whether it be from behind or in the front. Innuendos aside, not only can you use a large variety of weapons but you have different powers for those weapons as well. You can either focus on a specific range, like being a swordsman or archer, or you can learn all the tricks of the trade and use different weapons for different powers.

So there you have it. Those are some of the reasons the Bard deserves a second look and possibly a cookie. So start learning how to bake now.

This is Kylak signing out.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sony Playstation Move VS Nintendo Wiimote

It has come to my attention that most don't realize what the difference between the Sony Playstation Move controller and the Nintendo Wiimote is and honestly that's okay. That's what you have me for.

A little side note, I am NOT the definitive be all to end all when it comes to this technology. I am merely trying to explain this in a way that makes sense to the average user.

The Wiimote is based around an infrared optical sensor with the combination of motion sensing control thanks to an accelerometer. That's a mouthful huh? Let's break that down. Two things here: one is a shiny light that points at a sensor bar and the other is the control recognizes certain movement when you shake the crap out of it.

The Playstation Move on the other hand uses the Playstation Eye camera to track the position of the two controllers and the controllers themselves use inertia sensors to figure out how you're swinging your imaginary lightsaber. Thanks to the glowing bulb on the top, the eye can pick up exactly where the controller is in all directions and dimensions.

You might be thinking, "Wow... that sounds almost exactly the same. Sony must be ripping Nintendo off." But that is a blanket statement that doesn't take into the fact the actual differences in gameplay AND the different direction that Sony is taking their controller.

First of all, the Wiimote's infrared comes with some inherent flaws that most have never heard of:

Other lights can affect the sensor. Not just other infrared lights (though that can cause all kinds of issues I'm not even going to talk about) but even something as simple as Christmas Lights hanging on a tree in the house. Depending on what kind of light the sensor picks up, you can have issues ranging from the sensor getting confused all the way up to the sensor going ape shit.

Recalibration. The heat from your hand holding the controller can actually screw up the calibration over time. You can always reset the calibration but the fact that it happens is annoying.

Sound! Yes... I almost don't want to believe it but there are reports of sound frequencies conflicting with the wiimote in some way. I don't know if there is a definitive answer as to whether it's butting heads with the wiimote's bluetooth or what but it's kind of funny that this has come up at all.

I'm not saying that the Wiimote is going to fail on you all the time and that it's a piece of crap. Some people jump to that conclusion. I'm just saying that infrared has its flaws and these have come up. It's something to think about. They can be avoided with proper use.

In contrast though, from what has been tested, the Playstation Move manages to avoid all of these issues due to it using different sensor technology than what the Wiimote currently uses.

So now you're probably wondering how Sony is planning to take a different direction or if that is even possible. Sony has announced a hefty list of companies they are working with on projects for the Move controller. They haven't shown off much but what they have shown has managed to turn skeptics into gamers wanting Move in their living room. I'm specifically speaking about those who have actually tested it. Just watching someone use Move controllers is going to look about the same as watching someone use the Wiimote. That isn't going to impress you. When you actually play a game and the ratio is literally 1:1, you are going to be smiling. 1:1 ratio means that when you move your arm, the controller moves exactly the way you are moving. The Wiimote currently doesn't have perfect 1:1 so this is a huge step up in technology.

The next big thing you find out from actually using the Move controller is that they aren't trying to copy Nintendo on gameplay. In a Wii shooter, you will be using gestures for everything. If you want to throw a grenade, you have to swing your arm wildly and hope the controller doesn't throw it somewhere you didn't mean to. This is worse gameplay than just having a regular controller in your hand and pressing a button to throw the grenade for you. So far, the SOCOM testing has proven that Sony plans on making this as intuitive as possible. When you want to throw that grenade, you just push a button. They plan on only adding the Move controls in cases where it actually improves gameplay rather than just being a different kind of control scheme. In SOCOM's case, the only time that motion control is needed is in aiming your gun. The few that have tested have admitted that the Move controls improve their gameplay because they aren't trying to use an analog to aim. So not only can they aim more quickly but they can aim more accurately than any other control scheme currently available.

I'm going to cut this article short and leave things off here for others to ponder about this. Remember that this is all based on impressions and the technology isn't in people's homes yet. We'll have to wait and see for a final verdict.

This is Kylak signing out.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Decklist Ex Machina #1: Branch Panch!

Coming up with fun decklists so you don't have to.

Our first deck is Branch Panch! For those of you that don't know what a panching is, it's basically punching only ten times more manly because you can get away with spelling it wrong. This deck focuses on the card Reach of Branches. I was looking through cards that play around with the graveyard and found this and was immediately intrigued.

So the first thing to notice is that this card says, "I want forests." That's a steep requirement. That means we're pretty much going mono green on this one. You might ask, "But Ky, what do you mean by pretty much?" The answer is a card that some may have overlooked:

See the beauty of the card? It's a forest as well and it just so happens to love Treefolk in your hand. But don't get too excited. This isn't a basic land. The rules state that this is a nonbasic land that is still affected by anything that could affect a "Forest". Don't worry, I have some ideas for that.

I will admit, I was conflicted at first. I don't like Treefolk decks. I was going to build this as a monogreen deck that abused Reach of Branches but I thought of something really tempting: Doran, the Siege Tower.

Doran doesn't switch power and toughness, he reassigns damage. What this means is, Doran is basically a 5/5 and he's going to make all of our tokens 5/5's as well. That's all kinds of badass. Plus, have you ever known of a tree with a freaking title? "Siege Tower" invokes fear into the hearts of your enemies.

So let's jump into the ideas and break down the reasons these are important cards:
Fetchers (These will be finding lands for us)
Treefolk Harbinger: Most treefolk cost a ton of mana to cast (hence why I have a distaste for them as a tribal theme). This guy (or..girl tree?) is an exception to the rule. Harbinger also does exactly what this deck needs: searches for a "Forest" or a "Treefolk". One mana to get a blocker and either get our Murmuring Bosk or our Doran (or other threat)? You are a keeper. Did I mention that Doran makes this a 1 mana 3/3 creature?

Sakura-Tribe Elder: Still one of the greatest search for land cards green has to offer. The beauty of this guy, for those who don't know, is that you can sacrifice him at instant speed. What this means is, someone swings with their dude, Elder blocks, then you sacrifice him in response. You don't take any damage and you get to search for a land. This deck really needs to search for lands. You're going to need the right kind of mana to cast Doran and Ranch of Breaches is very demanding. Not only do you need the 5 mana to cast it but you need to be able to constantly chuck forests onto the field to keep returning it. Also, Elder allows us an interesting trick: After your opponent declares attackers, you sacrifice the Elder and get a Forest during their turn. Reach of Branches is an instant so you can play it and throw out a token they never saw coming. If Doran is out then you just gave them a 5/5 ninja treefolk. Say that with me, "NINJA TREEFOLK!" Feels good doesn't it?

Yavimaya Dryad: Not only does this search for a Forest but we get a nice creature out of it. If you're just sick of Forests or really just don't need another, you can target your opponent. Give your opponent a Forest and the fact that Dryad here has Forestwalk means she gives herself unblockability.

Sylvan Ranger: This is basically the opposite of Sakura-Tribe Elder since it searches when it enters the battlefield. Just like Elder, it gives us the option to search for any basic land if we need it. So we're putting in one Swamp and one Plains just in case for Doran's sake.

You're probably thinking, "Jeez Ky. That is way too many cards devoted to searching for lands." You would normally be right but remember the two most important things about this deck.
First - If we have enough mana, every time we put a Forest into play, we can cast a 2/5 creature that Doran will basically turn into a 5/5. You need to keep searching for lands to get that 5 mana you need and we need to make sure we can reliably bring back Reach of Branches over and over.
Second - Doran costs 3 different colors. If you can't search for them, you can't cast him.
There are options for our lands but you'll have to scroll all the way to the bottom for that.
Another thing to think about is the fact that searching for so many lands means we are filtering our deck. The less land cards in the deck means the less we draw into. Drawing into our actual threats is a great thing. Enjoy it.

Oracle of Mul Daya - This one is up to you honestly. I will admit that it's fragile and costs 4 mana. It isn't an amazing card as the rule always goes: If it costs 4 or more it better win you the game. Personally, I'm putting this one in. It's basically drawing cards almost every turn and allowing insane plays that normally wouldn't happen. It can potentially help us drop two lands during most turns and makes the deck even more reliable than just fetching lands. The fact it gives us card advantage is what makes it shine here. This is just an option but it's an option I like.

Vines of Vastwood
- This card is tech. It does everything we could want a utility card to do in this deck. Let's just go over "some" of the options this gives us:
1) Protects Doran from spot removal.
2) Pumps treefolk that normally would have low power if Doran wasn't around.
3) Potential to make Yavimaya Dryad deal 6 unblockable damage.
4) You can actually cast this on an opponent's creature. This prevents your opponent from giving their creature an enchantment, casting an instant or sorcery on their creature, equipping the creature, or even using beneficial abilities from their own creatures. I told you this card is tech.
5) It gives you versatility. Plain and simple.

Threats (We got the beat)
Dauntless Dourbark - Read that card twice and realize just how powerful it is in this particular deck. I don't think I need to say anything else.

Battlewand Oak - There are better options but I just want to throw this in here for the sheer fun of having Doran and Oracle of Mul Daya out which allows this guy to potentially be a 9/9 40% of the time. If this deck is running at anywhere near full steam then he's at the very least a 5/5 or 7/7 most of the time for only 3 mana. Or put in Leaf-Crowned Elder (see below).

Other options

Heartwood Storyteller - We do have a couple of spells and one of them we happens to return quite a bit so this guy isn't the best option but since you will probably get more mileage out of him than anybody else, he's very tempting. This card gives the potential for a lot of card advantage. Plus he's a treefolk.

Kitchen Finks - An amazing card in most decks as it is. This deck doesn't have any life gain right now and most decks can benefit from that. Life gain attached to this creature and the fact that Finks laughs at spot removal is a huge plus. Very solid.

Timber Protector - 5 mana to not only give our Treefolk army +1/+1 but make all Treefolk and Forest cards indestructible? You know what? He's going in the maindeck as a one of.

Leaf-Crowned Elder - Kinship for Treefolk and Shamans. All of our Treefolk, Sakura-Tribe Elder, Oracle of Mul Daya, and even our key card Reach of Branches (it's a tribal - Treefolk card after all) have the potential once per turn to get played for free? Forget it, don't look anywhere else. I'm sold. This is the card.

Nameless Inversion - Okay I lied. This might be "the" card. How many green decks get to have spot removal that also doubles as a Treefolk? Repeat after me, "NINJA TREEFOLK!" It feels good everytime.

Relic of Progenitus - I've been tempted to write an article solely based around this card. It has come to my attention just how much damage this thing does to so many different decks and key cards. Due to this, I put it in just about every sideboard I own. Yes it will touch your graveyard as well but if you can wait then just make sure to get Reach of Branches back to your hand before using it. If you can't wait then it's probably saving you the game anyways and a Reach or two gone is a worthy sacrifice.

Krosan Grip - Some people prefer Naturalize but I like having the final say.

Rootgrapple/Oblivion Ring/etc. - You need something to deal with Planeswalkers. Rootgrapple is a little expensive but you know how much I love the idea of a Ninja Treefolk taking out a Planeswalker and handing me a card before it disappears into the shadows.

There is still some room in the sideboard so just put whatever you want here. Nothing in the sideboard is definitive but they're options that I think give a lot of versatility. But you know better than I do. You know what your friends play and what most people play at your local shop. Put in what works against them. That's what the sideboard is for. The meta.

The Decklist
4 Doran, The Siege Tower
4 Treefolk Harbinger
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
4 Sylvan Ranger
3 Yavimaya Dryad
3 Oracle of Mul Daya or Nameless Inversion
4 Dauntless Dourbark
3 Leaf-Crowned Elder or Battlewand Oak
1 Timber Protector

Other Spells
4 Reach of Branches
4 Vines of Vastwood

4 Murmuring Bosk
16 Forest
1 Swamp
1 Plains

4 Relic of Progenitus
4 Krosan Grip
4 Rootgrapple or Oblivion Ring
3 Heartwood Storyteller, Nameless Inversion, or Gaddock Teeg

My favorite thing about this deck is that it laughs at spot removal. Having a reliable way to constantly get a 2/5 token is great and you have Vines of the Vastwood and the option to search for Timber Protector. Timber and Reach will also help you against mass removal. If mass removal like Wrath of God is a norm in your area, definitely put Gaddock Teeg in your sideboard.

*** An important note. ***
If you have the money to just throw around, go get Overgrown Tomb and Temple Garden. The reason is, Tomb is a "Swamp Forest" and Garden is a "Forest Plains". These would fix your mana issues for eternity and give you more options. With Murmuring Bosk, Overgrown Tomb, and Temple Garden together, you could put more multi-colored cards in this deck. Maelstrom Pulse for example is a great choice but that's another expensive card. Garruk Wildspeaker is an option to think about and yet another amazing option for this deck is Path to Exile. As I said, I build these decks on a budget but I will always try to give some advice on how to throw money into this if you really like the idea.

Panching with branches and ninja treefolk. What more could you want?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Wicked Anime Reviews #2 Nyan Koi!

Anime reviews delivered directly to the face!

This will probably be one of my shortest reviews of a series but that's mainly because I don't have anything bad to say about it and I don't have to defend any kind of reasoning to watch it. It's just a fun and adorable little series. Everyone I've recommended this to has enjoyed it so let's move on to the review.

To give you an idea of how this starts:
Kosaka Junpei (Or Junpei Kosaka depending on where you're from or how picky you are) is heavily allergic to cats. His Mother and Sister are apparently horrible people because they don't seem to give a shit. They own a cat and treat it better than they do Junpei almost out of spite. While walking home from high school, Junpei kicks a can in the hopes of getting it into a nearby trash can. What a guy? Most would just ignore it. Guess how he gets repaid for his good deed? The can defies all laws of gravity and physics and breaks the head off of a cat statue (see picture above). Wow. He quickly finds out that the spirit of the cat statue has put a curse on him. How does he find out you ask? He comes home and finds his cat talking to him. He learns the harsh reality of his situation. If he doesn't grant 100 wishes to different cats, he'll slowly turn into one. You might think, how cool is that? But then you'd be wrong! Do you not pay attention? This guy is allergic to cats! He'll die if he turns into one. That sucks. A lot.

This series falls into the romantic comedy genre and technically harem genre as well. You're probably thinking, NOT ANOTHER HAREM! Don't worry my friend. You can settle down. This isn't like most but I'll get to that last so just trust me for now. There are a lot of good things going for this series.

First of all, it has cats. You're probably thinking, but Ky, I hate cats! Well, these will prove you wrong mister. These cats have major personalities and steal the show a lot of the time. Nyamsus and Tama could have their own show but they instead play major supporting roles to try and help our main man Junpei make it through this shit storm he has stumbled upon.

Second, the comedy is top notch. This is one anime that doesn't fall into the same comedy routine like I see too often. The story takes some unexpected turns at times to ramp comedy up as well as keeping you on your toes.

Third, this shit is adorable. For those in a relationship, this is the perfect thing to watch with your significant other. For those not in a relationship, this is good for the laughs.

Fourth, it isn't your typical harem. There are parts where the other girls decide to stop trying to be with Junpei or they give him a break and try to help him get the girl he actually has feelings for. I've never seen that in a harem.

Go watch a couple of episodes. See what you think. What's the worst that could happen? You get a few smiles out of it? Oh no, how terrible.

D&D 4th Edition and why you should try it.

DISCLAIMER: I am not trying to say 4th edition is the greatest edition of all time (and I'm not trying to say that your edition is icky and has cooties) and I'm not trying to force my opinion on you. It is a well known fact that people get into a safe routine and rarely leave it. This is true for all things. People stick with what is familiar and safe even if they know all of the flaws that come with staying with that particular thing. To make matters worse, they aren't informed about the other options. I'm here to try to inform. Give it a chance, what do you have to lose? So put on your safety goggles. We're going in.

Uh oh! Things are about to get personal:
So for those of you who don't know me, I've been playing D&D since 2nd edition. When 3.5 was the standard, I switched over and before I knew it I was DMing. Throughout my adventures I've taught well over 30 people how to play D&D. After DMing for several years, I took an extended break. Gotta know when to breathe right? Then 4th edition came out and I admit I was skeptical. It was such a different experience and since I was so used to 3.5, it was like asking me to jump over a pool of lava. I was in my safe little corner. I knew the 3.5 system in and out. I poked at 4th with a stick for awhile and eventually I decided to jump that pit of lava. I have never gone back. I will say that personally, 4th edition is the best thing for me and I'll explain more about that later. I'm working on multiple campaigns as we speak and will be DMing soon for three different groups. Guess who's back?

So the entire point of this article is to get you to try D&D 4th edition so this is going to be rather extensive. Just to be clear, I'll be doing a few different types of articles here about 4th edition. So far, I know of three I'll be writing about:
1) Teaching people how to play.
2) Teaching people how to DM.
3) Playtests of different classes and races.

So what I'm writing about right now isn't going to go in depth about any of those topics. For those of you that are still playing 3.5 and have maybe tried 4th edition once or twice, you need to scroll down. For those of you that have never played D&D before in your life, this next section is for you. All for you! How nifty is that?

Haven't played a game of D&D? Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Have you ever played any kind of video game in your life?
Have you ever used your imagination to play games?
Have you ever been curious about D&D?
Do you like swords and/or magic?
If you've answered yes to any of these then jump into a session. There's a thing called D&D Encounters where you can go play at a local store and jump in without any previous knowledge or products what so ever. If you're afraid to go alone then bring a friend. Go read up on it if you want to know more.

What makes D&D so great? I'm glad you asked, voice in my head.
Here are a few things that make D&D stand out among other games:

Team Oriented Gameplay - You fight together and die together. It's one of my favorite aspects. There just aren't enough team oriented games out there. Most games are competitive head to heads. Even Nintendo, well known for its multiplayer titles, mostly consists of games where you play against each other. Backstabbers will be punished!

You get to play as whoever you want - Want to play as a half dragon who wields a giant weapon and loves to get into drinking games at the local tavern? Want to be a bounty hunter trying to make a name for yourself? Want to be an explorer and find secrets never before seen? You can do any of that and more.

A different experience every time - Want to play a horror genre where you're trying to survive the zombie apocalypse? Want to solve the mystery of who killed the King of a city and why the townsfolk don't seem to want to acknowledge it? Want to play a hack and slash where you bust in to a Wizard's tower and start kicking ass and taking names? Want to just sit back and play some cards or start up a shop in a new village to get away from your criminal past? It's all here and more.

If this pile of words I'm collecting here isn't interesting you yet then it may never happen. You could probably stop right about now. D&D just might not be your thing. It isn't for everybody.

To my 3.5 brothers and sisters!
The top 50 reasons to make the switch:

Fixed - Many issues that 3.5 players hated are now fixed. Let's got over a bunch shall we?

1) Balance - Nothing is perfect but the balance of classes and races far exceeds that of 3.5. For those who didn't know, the best three classes of the game were Druid, Cleric, and Wizard. No other class could match them and as levels went higher, it continued to multiply. If you don't believe me then we'll have a little chat later but this is basically considered fact among the entire D&D community. The creators of 3.5 literally admitted that their game was based around "system rewards". System rewards literally means, if you understand the system, you are rewarded by it. Easy definition right? If you know that this class is better than this one or this feat or race is superior to another then you are rewarded and the rest are left out in the cold.

2) The second issue you had with balance was that certain classes were not only crappy but just not all that fun to play. The Fighter is a great example of this. The Fighter in 4th edition is wonderful and has depth to the class with variety of gameplay. The Fighter in 3.5 was literally: press A to attack, press A to attack. You had maybe two kinds of attacks and that was it. Rejoice melee lovers, you deserve much better than that.

3) Races always had a minus to a stat choice. This meant that your Half-Orc would suck as a mage because he didn't have the stats necessary. Races now get a +2 to two stats instead. So while some races might be a better choice, no one is penalized. To make it feel like Christmas, some races that don't get the pluses they deserve for a particular class might get racial feats for those classes to still make them good options. How cool is that?

4) Ever wanted to have more options than just slash or spell? Every class gets multiple powers. There are at-will, encounter, daily, and utility powers for all classes. It gets even better because there are class features, feats, and other things that now give more abilities and powers as well. Tons of goodies to play around with.

5) Ever wanted to DM but it was just too much work? 4th edition has made it a thousand times easier to DM. For starters, the DM's guide is actually useful. I literally rarely needed the DM's guide for 3.5 but in 4th edition, you NEED to read it and will be coming back plenty of times. 4th has made designing encounters so easy your Grandma could do it. No offense Grandma.

6) There are new classes. There are literally classes never seen before that play differently than anything you had in 3.5: The Avenger, Warlord, Swordmage, and Warden just to name a few. All are wonderful additions to the game.

7) Combat is more interesting. Ever analyzed a 3.5 encounter and realized how uninteresting it is? I realize the movies playing in your head are made of wow but look at the table. Your character is just standing there trading blows with the enemy (or standing really far away in the case of mages). 4th edition promotes movement. For example, an enemy might swipe at you and knock you back. You cast a spell to bind his arms and your friend charges into the beast to push him off the side of the bridge. He falls off as well but you drop and slide to grab his hand and save him while seeing the beast fall in the distance. There were no game mechanics for this previously. There is just as much imagination involved but now you can create even more interesting encounters with actual gameplay mechanics.

8) The game is fun from level 1 to level 30. 3.5 players know it but don't want to admit it. In 3.5 the early levels suck. You are weak and everything relies on rolling the dice a bit too much. Your actual stats aren't that important yet and when you get to the higher levels, you have the opposite problem. Now you are too powerful and everything relies on "save or die". Make a saving throw against that spell or it's over. This leads to my next point.

9) Save or die spells and situations are gone.

10) Wizards and other casters no longer have the issue of only having a few spells per day during the early levels. Remember all those times where you ran out of spells? Happens all the time you say? Never again my friend. Never again.

11) Wizards and other casters are no longer as fragile as a piece of paper.

12) Ever wanted a fight with a dragon that involved an actual game mechanic to try and talk things out? It exists.

13) Saving throws don't exist. Armor Class (AC), Fortitude, Reflex, and Will are now the four types of defenses your character has rather than AC being the only one. Another great thing is that each of them can be dictated by one of two stats instead of just one. For example, I can put my Dex or my Int into my Reflex score. Purely awesome.

14) Stats don't work the same way and this is a good thing. For example, back in 3.5, every melee user wanted Str and every caster wanted Int or Wis. This is no longer the case. Stats are now different for each class. Enjoy the variety.

15) There is some kick ass software out there to help out with just about anything. You no longer have to exist outside of the technological age like your characters are.

16) Everything is core. No more arguments about what is core material and what isn't. No more arguments about whether or not we should allow X class or Y race in Z game. It's all legit and balanced.

17) No more abuse. Remember spells like shrink item where you could just shrink a giant slab of metal into a tiny pocket size item and let it grow with a simple word? Remember how you could just throw it up in the air and then say the word and squash anything that would stand in your way or throw it in front of you to be a giant wall to protect you? Never had a player do that? Once people figure out how to abuse spells, it gets annoying for everyone else involved. Shrink item is just one example. Powers can no longer be abused.

18) Paladins throw your hands up in the air. You are no longer forced to be lawful good. In fact, everyone throw your hands up in the air. No more alignment restrictions. The entire alignment system is changed. No more arguments about alignment anymore.

19) Health. Everyone has some way to take a breather to get back some health. You no longer need a Cleric to do this. You know all those scenes in the movies where the hero is almost defeated but after getting his second wind, he rises to the occasion to save the day? That works now. Healing isn't limited to bed rests and healing spells.

20) Health part 2. Hit dice doesn't exist. You get to add your entire con score at first level, not just the mod, the entire thing. Then your class you picked gives you a bonus and every level afterward is dictated by your class. So a Fighter gets more HP than a Wizard. No longer do you have the Barbarian rolling a 1 for HP and the Wizard actually having more HP.

21) No class is going to be the same as another. You get to pick class features right from the start so every class has several options from level 1. For example, there are several different types of rogues.

22) Paragon Paths. They're kind of like Prestige classes except fair. In 3.5 you could get as many Prestige classes as you met the requirements for. The DM stepping in to force you to only pick one would just make things even worse. Now everyone gets a Paragon Path at level 11.

23) Healers can jump around all giddy (really, you have my permission) and you guys who never wanted to play one might take a second look. You no longer have to waste turns healing and not fighting unless you really want to. There are powers that heal and attack at the same time and just so much more.

24) More interesting monsters and enemies. Remember how monsters were only different and more powerful if they had different spells and just tacked a giant unnecessary list of them on there? Remember DMing and when you controlled that beastie, you had to pause for a moment and look over the list of spells you had for options to cast? No longer. Monsters have different techniques and there are several different categories they can fall under. There are even minions now. So you can have an army of minions rush in to take on your players that can be taken down pretty easy and make your players feel like heroes.

25) Less skills. Rogues in 3.5 have to pick hide, move silently, and other similar skills just to get the added benefits to be stealthy. Now you have a stealth skill. All the skills were combined together so that each is more important and there is less to keep track of.

26) Stats. You no longer have to roll for stats. You can still do that if you want to but why? Every group had to make arbitrary home rules about re-rolling 1's and other bullcrap just to make that system even slightly work. Now you have stat arrays and a really nice point buy system. Stat arrays are basically a set of stat scores that you give out to all players and they just plug them into the stats they want.

27) Movement. No longer does the game tell you 30 feet and you have to realize that each square is 5 feet unless you move diagonally and in case it's a Tuesday in the middle of July and the Sun is out. New players just didn't get that system and old players knew it was just dumb. Moving diagonally is the same as moving in the cardinal directions now. Oh and we don't say 15 feet to mean 3 squares anymore. We just say 3 squares. Why was this never thought of before?

28) Effects don't last random given amounts of time. You no longer have to figure out if it has been 3 minutes in-game. Each round being 6 seconds and knowing how many rounds have passed which isn't even considering how fast time flies outside of combat. Effect durations work now.

29) Rules are no longer needlessly complex. Anytime that someone wanted to grapple the troll, you would need to flip out the rule book and make sure you weren't doing it wrong. Now, once you figure it out the first time, you've got it.

30) Spells can no longer drain stats or levels. I don't know who to hug for this. It was the most annoying thing to mid-combat get drained and have to figure out your new modifiers, HP changes, and other annoying crap that would happen because of this.

31) Magic weapons that can be thrown return automatically. No longer do you have to save every penny for your rogue just to buy that fancy dagger and then be afraid to throw it at someone's face.

32) You can retrain feats at every level. Found out something just doesn't work? Switch it out. It's core now.

33) Tactics. The combat is much more varied, fun, and complex in a good way. There are all kinds of tactics to come up with in a fight and I wouldn't have it any other way.

34) No level adjustment. Drow and Minotaurs can fight alongside Halflings and Half-Orcs.

35) Critical hits are fixed. A 3.5 critical hit was basically just doubled. If you rolled a 1 that meant your "critical hit" was just a 2. In 4th it's changed to max damage.

36) Damage, HP, skills, and everything else scales with level. The math is just better this time around.

37) Grapple rules are no longer laughable.

38) No required classes for any team.

39) More settings. Anyone want to take a trip to the Astral Sea tomorrow?

40) D&D Encounters. The fact you can just show up at a game store with a friend and jump into a game is awesome.

41) It's easier for new players to get into.

42) You aren't having to houserule everything because the rules actually work from the start this time around.

43) Titans aren't just larger targets. They're a threat.

44) Everyone gets tons of feats. It's no longer a Fighter only thing.

45) Things are no longer color coded. A red dragon isn't always evil and some angels work for evil deities.

46) Classes do way more than one thing. No longer is the Barbarian a rage machine, Paladin being a smite machine, and Rogue being a sneak attack machine. More variety than your body has room for!

47) Rules for low to no magic settings, high magic, or even steam punk. There are even rules to do away with the need for magic items.

48) Bard is no longer a joke class. It's proven that the Bard was the weakest class in 3.5 and the new Bard is made of win.

49) DM's have concrete guidelines to do just about anything they could want in their campaigns.

50) Out of combat spells and abilities: Rituals, Martial Practices, and Alchemy.

Didn't think I would come up with 50 did you? Well I'm spent. Oh and before I forget.
Don't comment if you're just going to flame 4th Edition. If you have an issue with the system and are wondering if I know of something that can fix it, that's fine. I will gladly answer questions but don't start making random claims of why the game sucks. Go out and actually try 4th Edition. Pick it up. Experience it with people who know what they are doing if you can.

This is Kylak signing out.

Update: Extended Format

This is brand new and I've got to say that I'm thoroughly disappointed:

The bad news:
Extended has been a long time favorite format of mine. Even after they changed the rotation to be every seven years, that was still plenty to work with. Extended has been my go to format for several years now whether it be for tournaments or casual play. Now with most sets that I actually own being discarded by the format, I find it less likely I could actually enjoy it. Even worse is that the Ravnica block gets taken out because of this (best block ever). I can already see tribal decklists of Faeries, Goblins, and Elves running rampant. Tis a shame.

The good news:
There is rumor of a NEW format that Wizards of the Coast will be releasing. Supposedly this one will rotate even slower than Extended did and have a well thought out banned and restricted list to prevent certain deck types from being the only viable option. The only issue is, this is merely rumor. This is the equivalent of daydreaming right now.

This is Kylak signing out.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Wicked Anime Reviews #1 Armed Librarians: The Book of Bantorra

Anime reviews delivered directly to the face!

If you're reading this, you probably don't know what Armed Librarians: Book of Bantorra is. That is the assumption at least. I've been known to make mistakes. Maybe you just like hearing me talk? I only know of a couple of people that enjoy that so that can't be right. Regardless, I'm going to assume you know what Anime is. Book of Bantorra (BoB from here on out okay?) is an anime that aired a few months back. I didn't have this blog at the time so I couldn't review it for you the very moment I was watching it but I realize a lot of people just haven't seen or even heard of this show.

BoB is about an age where when someone dies, they turn into a stone slab known as a book that others can read and learn about their past.
As you can imagine, this sets up for all kinds of shenanigans. BoB is unique in that there is no "true" main character. Many argue that it's Hamyuts Meseta but the story never focuses on her until the end. Throughout most of the series, the focus shifts around from character to character, to see things through different perspectives and continue to baffle the viewer with the mysteries surrounding different events.

The entire plot is arguably hidden from the viewer throughout the anime. Seems like a dick move huh? The series doesn't answer the burning questions until near the end. And if that burning leads to weird skin conditions then that just means it's working. Due to this, I have known a couple people to actually stop watching the show. They couldn't handle not knowing what was going on since there isn't a main character yapping about their goals and what they plan on doing like in other anime. I personally enjoyed this. I was left with hints to piece together for myself and was left with wonder as to how the series would go on and conclude. If you don't like the fact you aren't being spoon fed the plot and sometimes are literally not being fed at all to the point you're starving then you probably won't like this anime. Run away in disgust right now. Go find some food and eat it up. The show summed up in a simple internet meme: The cake is a lie until the last few episodes. Get it? Got it? Good.

The story takes many shifts where vital characters seemingly disappear or are killed off. Much like a roller coaster, the shifting may affect your stomach a little but it's a fun ride if you just let it takes its course instead of trying to change where the coaster is going. Telling you there are main characters who die off isn't a spoiler. It's obvious from episode one. A main character dies right off the bat and I think that's a very interesting move to take for a series since most would be afraid to take that risk. You could say the series has balls. I will admit, this comes with an inherent flaw: if you enjoy a certain character and they happen to die, you might feel a little peeved. Trust me, there is reason to everything that happens in this series. They aren't just killing characters off for the sheer hell of it and they definitely aren't going to allow you to think that the series will be predictable. This is the most enjoyable factor. Many mainstream anime have become stale. Many are predictable down to the letter. This series will laugh at your attempts to keep up with certain events and hand out bread crumbs to follow for others.

The pacing is very quick but again, this is a nice change of pace as most anime are drawn out on purpose to add more episodes in the hopes of making more money or because they catch up to the manga too quickly. The characters are diverse. You have protagonists ranging from those with a huge sense of justice, to utter scum that you want to see dead. That's right, protagonists that you want dead. Kill them with fire! The antagonists also benefit from a healthy range of sympathetic characters to utterly evil in all senses of the word.

The music is beautiful and adds value to the moods of different scenes. The drawing and animation is top notch which is to be expected as this was produced by David Production Inc., the people that offered production assistance to such famous works as Code Geass, Soul Eater, and Kuroshitsuji among others. They were founded in 2007 so they don't have a lot under their belt just yet. New kids on the block yo!

Moving on from the basic elements and moving further into subjective territory are my reasons why I personally enjoyed this series. I'm going to be flat out honest, there were a couple points where I thought about dropping this series like a bad habit. Earlier episodes were riddled with setting up subplots and leaving hints and red herrings scattered about. Trying to piece the puzzle together too early on will definitely leave you flustered. There just isn't enough info yet to piece together the motives and goals. Get over it and if anyone dare tell you they figured it out early, they're wrong. Punch them. Repeat if necessary. The reason I say this is because there is something at the very root of all things tied in to the branching storyline that literally isn't addressed until near the end. If you make it through the series, you'll get those puns.

I enjoyed the topics covered throughout the series: hope, love, purpose, religion, and justice. Oh yeah, there's probably more but those stuck out the most. I enjoyed the cast. Some are super lovable (not just the regular kind) and others are there for people with different tastes. Most of the protagonists are very likable even if many are flawed. I especially loved characters like Volken Macmani for the sole fact that they are in direct contrast with the world itself. The world portrayed is a world of bloodshed, disease, poverty, upper crusts of society taking advantage of the lower, and very twisted views of reality. The reason for this is that there is a major religion present in the show: The Church of Drowning in God's Grace. It is the rivaling force to the protagonists. Their ideology is that the only way to make it into heaven is to drown yourself in as much sin and happiness as possible. Sick and twisted huh? Due to this, the world is a much darker place and characters like Volken stand out because his sense of justice is pure and unrivaled. He isn't the only character of note by any means but I'm afraid to go into depth about characters since I want to avoid spoilers as much as possible.

Another major thing that kept me going was that certain episodes give out MAJOR hints as to what is really going on. If you pay attention, you can piece together things. I'm going to give out an example here. There is a moment where a seemingly complete stranger walks up to a main character and hands him a piece of a book that happens to be exactly what he's looking for. I'll be honest, at first I was thinking, "What the hell? What are the odds of that even happening? I call BS!" Things like this happen early on in the story but if you give it time then you find out how every last detail fits. The event I just described actually makes perfect sense later. Trust me.

Also, yes, I will admit, there are some freaking awesome fight scenes and some crazy powers shown off that also kept my interest. What can I say? A part of me will always enjoy a good action sequence. One of the first major fights in the series involves a guy with a God weapon that parries ANY attack and a woman with a sling that can launch rocks through freaking tanks from dozens of miles away by sensing where a target is through "sensory fibers". And she has the guts to say, "eff that noise" and meet the guy up close to face off against him. How many shows can offer you that?

So go check it out.


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