5 Ravnica Thoughts…   Leave a comment

So! Return to Ravnica will be the Autumn set, as announced as PAX this past weekend. To get you in the mood, here’s 5 tidbits of information to get the juices flowing..

1. Gideon Jura was last seen heading to Ravnica

Not brought up too much, but Gideon was last known to be heading there to speak to the Infinite Consortium, seeking help to deal with the Eldrazi ravaging the plane of Zendikar.

2. Several other Planeswalkers are attached to Ravnica

Not even counting Gideon- we have Jace, Lilliana, Chandra, Nicol Bolas and Tezzeret also tied in to the plane via the aforementioned Infinite Consortium. Consider that Nicol Bolas is all but confirmed in M13…and we could be heading for a great showdown. Maybe we should expect many multi-coloured planeswalkers? Also, the Infinite Consortium had a cell on Kamigawa- and a Kamigawan has just randomly shown up on Innistrad- worth remembering…

3. Modern Reprints

R&D has said that they want to reprint the key staples of Modern in order to help the format grow- with many people assuming it’s accepted fact that the shocklands will see a return. With it clearly being geared toward muti-colour again, what other Modern staples might return- or be brought back because of Innistrad? There’s not too many reprints they did in Scars Block- although a lot of riffs of them- but ones too look out for may be Lightning Helix (R/W Aggro is a big player in Innistrad Block which also may prompt this), Chord of Calling, Cremate, Dark Confidant, Empty the Catacombs, Mortify, Protean Hulk, Putrefy and Wrecking Ball are just some off the top of my head…

4. Will Guild Mechanics change?

This is a really interesting one- presumably, the same guilds will return from before- but will they keep their mechanics? While some are clearly well liked by R&D and have been brought back already (Bloodthirst), some have been said on record by R&D members (I’m 99.99% sure it’s been said, but cannot find the links) that they do not like Haunt and they particularly dislike Dredge- so I can’t see them returning. Especially Dredge, considering the possiblities they’d most likely end up making that deck absurd(er) in Legacy. Will new mechanics be made? Will old mechanics not from Ravnica be used? Maybe they won’t need that many mechanics- maybe guilds will merge…

5. Possible Standard Implications

Now any set changes the face of Standard. Ravnica could do this in huge ways- we may see a lot more “crazy” decks, as presumably the set will provide crazy good manabases and a lot of good gold cards- so maybe 5 colour control is primed and ready? With Nicol Bolas around, will we see the return of Cruel Ultimatum? Time will tell…

Redesign Alpha #2: Air we go…   Leave a comment

So, after a long look at Alpha on Gatherer, that ran through at least one box of tissues as I wept at the task ahead, what became apparent is that there are quite a few problems facing me in this task. I’ll lay out a couple in this week’s entry, but others will flare up at times. Still, c’est la vie, restriction breeds creativity…

Can you count to (Power) 9?

Not just the Power Nine, but a whole host of other extremely powerful cards- Armaggedon, Balance, Control Magic, Counterspell, Dark Ritual, Demonic Tutor, Mana Vault, Mind Twist, Sinkhole, Sol Ring, Swords to Plowshares, Time Vault and Wheel of Fortune are all going to be running around, some of which wouldn’t see print today for their strength, but even discounting that- some could have an extremely adverse effect on our proposed draft format. However, I still want the cards to have that special feeling- I’m aiming for Black Lotus to still be a popular, sought after card- just without it being as powerful as it is.

Thankfully, unlike Richard Garfield, I will have the added benefit of several years of Magic Development to give me some insight into how to tweak these cards to make them fair and fun, although I’ll be eagerly trying a lot of different things. Keeping cards within their great heritage and the bounds of fairness will be key to a successful redesign, so the power 9 and friends will most likely be receiving most of my attention.

Another obstacle during the redesign is that some cards, while not totally overpowered- are too powerful for their commonality. Disintergrate, Fireball, Pestilence and Sinkhole are main offenders for being really out of place, but there are others, which we will have to revise and rejiggle around to not only make the cards fair, but balance out removal at certain rarities for our draft format. Most of the uncommons are seemingly just shoved in there for something that may have seemed correct before, but in the modern era, doesn’t fit at all. Rares vary from correct (Birds of Paradise) to bizzare (Elvish Archers- a 1/2 First Striker for 1G).  It will be interesting to tweak this- remember, one rule is to keep the same amount of commons, uncommons and rares.

So Much Hate

Now, I appreciate the necessity of hate cards, as they’re part of the fabric of Magic. That said, they got off to a very rough start in Alpha, generally being too frequent, too punishing and plain miserable. Obviously, that can be corrected- but the issue for us will be to have these hate cards not only be unoppressive, but to retain the flavour of their original card names.

The main problem is that the colour-hate cycle is a bit too overboard on cards of the mass land destruction variety, which never makes for a fun playing environment, so there will be heavy changes to those. There’s also a few more “troll” cards running around that will need changing- Gloom, which makes White spells cost 3 more. Not fun, and not conducive for the draft environment we want to foster. Even worse is Lifeforce, a GG enchantment that for GG, counters any black spell, which is not only a horrible card for play but just all over the place colour pie wise. This will be something that we need to tackle.

The Power Nine…walls

There are nine walls in Alpha. This is going to be a problem, because there’s not much I can do with a card name that has “Wall” in it. The problem I have with Walls is that the more there are in a set, the more boring gameplay will be. Sitting behind walls has it’s purposes, but it’s not particularly fun for the players on eitherside. Making these walls flavourful, playable and something that doesn’t drive you into boredom will be a fun little challenge. By no means the biggest, but I feel it’s worth it’s own mention.

So, let’s look at our first card in the set. It’s Air Elemental!

Air Elemental

So, we’re getting off to a solid start on this project by having one of the better designed cards in the set that still holds up today- while not being a particularly interesting card. It’s been reprinted 17 times, with the most recent being M10- and it’s not hard to see why. It’s simple, carries the flavour of blue and can be a strong uncommon in Draft formats that is fair and balanced.

Air Elemental, alongside pretty much every other blue creature in Alpha is something that is not particularly tangible- creature types include Clones, Djinns and Phantasms. It sets a tone that has kept with blue for all of Magic’s history- dealing mostly in conjured creatures, rather than natural ones. The only exceptions to this in Alpha are Prodical Sorcerer, a Wizard- also a natural fit for blue, two Merfolk cards and a ship – which are fine- because considering you’re setting the colour out with “Islands” as it’s source of mana, having creatures that live in or on water seems more than acceptable.

We also get our first taste of blue’s role in gameplay – having a route of attack consisting of smaller, lesser numbers- but with evasive abilities.  Air Elemental is a card that needs an answer fairly quickly, particularly with a lack of fliers and creatures with reach in the set- but doesn’t get it done in a couple turns, allowing opponents time to find an answer, or a way to win before the elemental gets them to zero.

For now, the verdict is that Air Elemental goes into our Redesigned Alpha file unchanged.

ReDesign #1: Alpha   Leave a comment

Hello! In an attempt to get myself writing regularly again, I’ve decided to undertake a project. A redesign, if you will. Thinking about this, I wanted to do something a bit different- not designing sole cards, or creating a new set- there are many others out there doing that. So what about Redesigning a set?

Imagine the scenario, if you will. R&D have decided that they’re going to not do M13 this year. Instead, they’re going to re-run Alpha. The task has fallen to you to update the set- so that the templating works, it’s fun and still a great introduction to the game. You have almost free reign to change what cards do, but there are some rules…

1) All the card names must stay the same.

2) Cards must try and stay faithful to what the original card did, even if it is not the same execution. (Ante cards, I’m looking at you.)

3) The set is to be designed to be as beginner-friendly as possible.

4) Cards cannot be added or removed from the set.

5) A cards colour can be changed- but when the set is complete, there must be the same amount of cards in each colours as there was in Alpha.

There’s probably other ones that will come up, but those are bridges we’ll cross when we come to them. I want the set to be a great intro for beginners, as the original Alpha must have been to launch Magic so well. I also want it to be a viable draft format- that might prove a trickier prospect, as draft didn’t exist when Alpha was first made. I want everything to be as close to Alpha as possible- just without the outdated templating and bizzarely complicated cards. I’ll be launching things off on by going through the set card-by-card, examining in great depth the changes to make- or not make and other avenues of change. It should be fun, so hopefully you’ll join me on next week when we start by taking a look at the basic composition of the set and the first card: Air Elemental (Here’s a hint- it’s probably one of the better designed cards in the set already.)

It’s not an April Fools!

Jamie

@drafter_il_dal

DKA-DKA-DKA Draft 1: Geist Who!   Leave a comment

I know it’s not the most relevant of formats, but I always quite like these small-duration draft formats. It’s good writing practice for me too, in addition to making it easier to build up my Dark Ascension collection and get used to playing with some of the cards and mechanics.

Pack 1 pick 1:

So. Quite a deep and powerful pack here- we’ve got Lingering Souls, Fires of Undeath, Death’s Caress, Skirsdag Flayer, Dungeon Geists and a Mythic. Okay, an unplayable Mythic, but still! My first eliminated card was Death’s Caress- it’s the most expensive and colour committed, which means I’d like to avoid it as my first pick. The next one I ruled out was Skirsdag Flayer- which although good is really at it’s best in a specific archetype, B/W- which if we want to go into, we’re better served taking Lingering Souls than Flayer. Like Caress, it’s good- but I don’t want it first with the other options. The next card I ruled out was Fires of Undeath- although it is great removal, I don’t want to commit to a two-colour card (kind of) first and I feel the same with Lingering Souls, despite its ridiculous power- normally I’d slam it, but we also have Dungeon Geists in the pack. It’s a powerful body, being a 3/3 for 4 as well as being pretty much removal too. Throw that in with being in my favourite colour for DKAx3, Blue- and we have a first pick.

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 2:

We’re faced with another tough choice here- for my money the best three cards are Soul Seizer, Elgaud Inquistor and Niblis of the Mist. Elgaud is the biggest body and lifelink is not to be underestimated in this format- there’s a lot of aggressive decks running around, which the Inquistor can act as an effective roadblock against and getting a spirit out of the deal isn’t bad either. Niblis of the Mist is a decent flier too, but the tapping ability isn’t always as good as you want it to be- in a way it’s almost White’s Crossway Vampire. However, we’ve just taken a blue card, so we’re going to stay the course with Soul Seizer- it’s a weak body admittedly, but a mind control is always tough to pass up- so we won’t.

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 3:

So we seemingly have the same common run here- or at least some similar ones. Again it comes down to Niblis vs. Inquisitor- with precious little else in the pack. It’s a close one, but I’ve opted for Niblis- hopefully we can develop an aggressive U/W fliers deck. Fliers are particularly strong in triple DKA- no One-Eyed Scarecrows, very few fliers in anything that isn’t U/W and only one specific way to remove fliers in the format, which costs 2G. For that reason, Niblis get the nod- although if this were INN-INN-DKA, I’d go Inquisitor.

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 4:

Hm. There’s no playable card in either Blue or White here, which is slightly worrying. There’s some interesting choices- Falkenrath Torturer is good if you can grab a bunch of humans, whereas the other good Black card is the fairly solid Wakedancer. Beast and Wurm are two large bodies that are hard to deal with, with Stromkirk Captain being quite tempting- if it were not in the two colours we’re not. Markov Blademaster is better in the format with no Geistflame- but it’s still very weak, as well as being double red. That ends up with me choosing to go for Dawntreader Elk- it’s a decent beater and if need be, we can use it for fixing if we end up green and wanting to splash our White or Blue.

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 5:

Another pack with no Blue, which isn’t an ideal signal to be recieving. Thankfully there’s a good White card here to alleviate that though, in the form of Midnight Guard- which has psuedo-vigilance with a 2/3 body that is fairly difficult to breakthrough, and we’ll be aiming for a low curve too, so he fits in with that.

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 6:

Well, this is a great signal- Burden of Guilt coming this late is a good indication White is open, so we’ll snap pick it here. Also encouraging is seeing some decent Blue show up in this pack too, so prehaps the last couple packs were just empty of Blue cards. Also worth noting there’s a Scorned Villager here, so Green might be there as a backup plan if either of our current colours dry up.

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 7:

Or

Or maybe it was a false dawn. There’s only one decent card here, and it’s name is Ulvenwald Bear. We already have a Dawntreader Elk, so if Blue totally dies on us, we will at least have the makings of an escape plan.

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 8:

Very much worried now. Taking the only playable card.

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 9:

The worrying trend of no Blue and White continues. Forge Devil is I should’ve taken here, but I keep looking at it and getting it confused with Torch Fiend, hence overlooking it. Not a great habit to have fallen into. So we end up with a Potato Wolves.

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 10:

This will be very good against us. The less there are, the better off we are.

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 11:

Took a Saving Grasp here- didn’t think it was playable, but I was willing to have it open to me, just incase.

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 12:

Meow.

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 13:

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 14:

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 15:

My Pick:

So an uneasy start- we have some decent fliers in Blue and White, alongside a couple of cards in Green too- with Blue and White seemingly getting cut. Hopefully pack two gives us some cohesion and a direction to push into, because at the moment everything is quite up in the air and our deck has no real strategy, as it stands.

Pack 2 pick 1:

I don’t really need to say much. It’s a planeswalker in limited (and a very good one at that), being in one of our colours, easily splashed and worth a ton. Sorin it is! Now I really want to try and build a flying team with the next couple packs- Sorin’s emblem ability is just so good if you have evasive creatures that it’s well worth trying to build around a little.

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 2:

So naturally we follow up a WB card with…a double Blue card. Right? Again, I want to go fliers, particularly with Sorin’s emblem and Stormbound Geist is just the plain best card (in this format- not a fan of Deranged Outcast in Triple DKA) in the pack. It’s very hard to deal with and having multiples will have an opponent having kittens.

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 3:

This is a tough one. I really do love a Seakite due to it’s decent body combined with the large amount of times people will happily just throw things into combat when you’ve got 3U untapped. However, Death’s Caress is unconditional removal- and even if we’re only splashing Black, I want one to deal with opposing bombs.

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 4:

This is an easy pick for me here, with it being the Skaabs- although expensive and needing to be skaab-fed, the high mana cost means you’re almost guaranteed to have a dead creature in the yard for it when you get to 5 mana- then you have a 5/5 that gums up the ground well if you need to defend, or can really smash through an opponent’s creatures, with Undying just putting it over the edge. We’re getting a lot of good blue now, which is a relief.

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 5:

I still love the Skaabs- but having two might not be too favourable and our curve is beginning to look a tad heavy- so we’ll go for the also excellent Seakite to lower it, even just a fraction. Keeps us on our flier plan too.

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 6:

So now it’s White that’s totally dried up on us. Green is still flowing, as seeing a Briarback Alpha this late is frankly, ridiculous. However, it’s also fairly surprising to see a tapper arriving this late too with Nibbler of the Breath, making him the easy choice.

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 7:

Another Stormbound Geist? Fantastic. Blue is flowing and our flier plan is getting on track. Undying all night long.

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 8:

Maybe I got a bit blinkered at actually having seen a white card here, as I took Loyal Cathar- not the right choice. It makes our mana a considerable amount clunkier, even if it is a good card. Should’ve been Griptide.

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 9:

I don’t mind Skillful Lunge, but Chant of the Skifsang is always a handy card to have.

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 10:

Already got a Grasp, so Break of Day gets the nod so we have more versatility in our sideboard.

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 11:

Nice to pick up a counterspell. On a sdenote- when playing DKA-DKA-DKA, remember that there’s only two counters in the format- this, which only hits creatures; and Counterlash- which is rare and costs 6.

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 12:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 13:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 14:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 15:

My Pick:

So pack two went fairly well- we got a lot of Blue, some decent fliers…oh. And Sorin. I mean, he can’t be that good, right? (Spoiler: he is.) Now we just want to fill out our curve, lower it slightly and continue to pick up fliers.

Pack 3 pick 1:

Well, this has been made quite easy for us. There’s very little choice for us in the pack which is fine- because Niblis of the Urn is just a huge beating. Although it doesn’t get in for much, being able to tap guys when it attacks is extremely handy- especially in our flier-heavy deck, bceause if someone does have a flier to block our airborne team, we now have another way to deal with it.

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 2:

I might have an un-natural amount of love for Loyal Cathar, as it’s really not the pick here as it isn’t as good as Seakite, nor is it great for our manabase. I did consider Helvault for a moment, but in the end, I just decided that it’s probably just too slow for what we want to be doing- and too slow in general.

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 3:

(The broken image is Seance.)

Geist is the pick for me here, although in hindsight it’s probably closer than I thought it was- in triple DKA, Thraben Heretic is an absolute monster as it can turn off all your opponents Undying creatures- and because it’s 3 packs of Dark Ascension, there are a lot more Undying creatures than in INN-INN-DKA. Maybe the wrong pick, but another Geist isn’t too bad.

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 4:

Another Deranged Hermit running about, which is worth noting- VIllage Survivors is also a huge guy we’d like to avoid. I think even in INN/INN/DKA, it’s quite underrated. Midnight Guard is what we’re taking though as the best creature in our colours. It works well in our deck and like before, is a solid body. Thought Scour doesn’t really fit with our deck too well, so it doesn’t get too much consideration.

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 5:

I love an Avacyn’s Collar, but we don’t really have the deck for it- and there’s nothing else in our colours. Jar of Eyeballs is probably too slow for us, but I’ll take it and have the option open to me- it is slow, but it’s deceptively powerful too.

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 6:

Blue. Flier. Picked. Shriekgeist is okay if you can get it down early, but otherwise can be a bit underwhelming- however the ability isn’t irrelevant, especially when you have Griptides- return it to the top their library, then mill it away.

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 7:

I like this Nibbler of the Mist, so he’s getting the nod- another flier who taps things down is always welcome. Would be nice to get a Ray of Revelation though, as it’s always nice to have those in the board. We have a lot of Undying creatures who opponents will seek to deal with via Enchantments, so we can prepare for that.

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 8:

If we’re splashing Sorin and a Caress, we’ll probably want this- as much as I hate passing Griptide.

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 9:

A big durdly blocker is always welcome- this guy is Fortress Crab with added oomph. Although after seeing how good Faith’s Shield is, if you offered me this pick again, I’d slam it everytime.

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 10:

And here it is! Glad I got this- in the DKA/DKA/DKA drafts I’ve done, this card has been amazing. Can’t wait to try it out in INN/INN/DKA as well.

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 11:

May come in handy.

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 12:

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 13:

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 14:

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 15:

My Pick:

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So that went quite well for us, as we ended up in a good U/W/b Fliers deck with some a lot of good bodies, some removal…and a Sorin. As always, let me preclude that MTGO doesn’t save replays (And I don’t really like tracking what happens during the game, because it breaks my concentration.)

The 40 Played:

Match 1, Game 1 went well for us as we got off to a quick start with our fliers, having multiple Stormbound Geists on board to race what seemed to be a land-stalled start against another Esper deck. We didn’t see much apart from Reap the Seagraf and quickly got the win. Game 2 didn’t go quite as smoothly- with our opponent gumming up the ground with Relentless Skaabs and Geralf’s Mindcrusher. We had a sizeable army holding him off but he could still beatdown. However he dropped us below 5, meaning on his next attack we were able to score a huge blowout with Faith’s Shield that he never really recovered from as Sorin soon arrived to mop up.

Match 2 started well with us taking the first game off a fairly quick start that had Dungeon Geists and Soul Seizer arriving fairly quickly against a slow draw against (another!) U/W deck. However our good fortune ended there- two sketchy keeps in a row followed up by starts involving a lot of White fliers, Burden of Guilts and Lingering Souls put paid to our dreams of winning the draft.

The deck was okay- but mana ended up being a huge problem due to those cathars. Still, I did find that Faith’s Shield is often a huge winner, Thraben Heretic can cause all kinds of problems for an undying deck and that opening Sorin makes me scream in a high-pitched voice.

DKA/INN Sealed #1: A Hell of a Pool   2 comments

And by hell of a pool, I mean hella awful.

This was my first dip into the water of Dark Ascension/Innistrad limited, as I didn’t want to waste extra money on the rather inflated prerelease prices and I haven’t been able to get to my local playgroup recently. Here’s the pool (click for full-size):

 

 

As you can imagine, I wasn’t thrilled at first glance. Still, to pick out the bones…

White:  There are some decent cards here, but the colour is just too shallow. The only really exciting cards are the Niblis of the Urn and Loyal Cathar, with the rest of them being very average, which doesn’t really draw me to the colour. We didn’t really open any bombs in it either, so it looks like White is out.

Blue: Although we have a lot more cards in Blue, it’s very shallow. The geists, both Stormbound and Tower are very good and I wish there were more of them, but there isn’t Claustrophobia is also nice. But the rest devolves into a mish-mash of Frightful Delusions and Saving Grasps. Let’s hope things pick up…

Red: They do! Red seems to be our best colour, with one good rare in Flayer of the Hatebound and one bomb in Hellrider. We’ve also got some removal with Wrack with Madness (A card that everytime I play, I can’t help but think “Stop hitting yourself!”) and Geistflame, with some bodies that I don’t mind sticking in my 40, such as Nearheath Stalker, Ashmouth Hound and Hanweir Watchkeep. The strongest colour so far that I’ll be keeping my eye on- but it’s still a bit shallow.

Black: Aha! There’s a lot of removal! A Boneflinger and Banshee, backed up by a Dead Weight and Tragic Slip is exactly what I’m looking for- a lot of card that play well together in the same colour, making Black stand out straight away. Things improve even further with Falkenrath Noble, one of the best cards to get in Black and a pet card of mine that I think is slightly underrated, Undying Evil. For one black mana, the card pulls a lot of weight and can make a lot of games swing completely in your favour.

Green: There are only 9 Green cards. 3 are Crushing Vines. Will not be playing.

Gold+Artifacts: Diregraf Captain doesn’t have enough support here unforunately, as it’s one of the better lords, but the artifacts provide some good offerings with Warden of the Wall, Blazing Torch- and of course, Galvanic Juggernaut.

After some time looking, it seemed that our biggest problem was a serious lack of depth to our pool. Black and Red seemed the best colour combination- ending up like this:

The deck wasn’t looking great to me. We had one great bomb and a fair amount of removal…but if we didn’t draw Hellrider, how were we winning? (As it turned out- unless we were flinging a Flayer, we weren’t). There was a serious lack of 2 and 3 drops, leading to the somewhat questionable inclusion of Erdwal Rippers, which as you can imagine…didn’t end well. Things went a 1-3, although I believe all of them were 2-1’s- and most of the time we won a game it was because of Hellrider- that card is seriously good. All the games it won, I was seriously behind- but it forces your opponent to get on the defensive, quickly.

 

I’ll be back with more sealeds soon, hopefully. Starting a new job that is taking up a lot of time!

Posted February 29, 2012 by drafterildal in Sealed

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Non-MTG: Where did all the bad guys go?   Leave a comment

This is something non-MTG related here as I just felt like  putting it up- an article I wrote for a competition recently in which we were restricted to 500 words to write about something in Video Games we hated. This is what I come up with:

Ocelot. Ganon. Arthas. Three of the most memorable bad guys in the history of gaming. Compelling and hateable, they were satisfying to defeat and made the time you spent on a game worthwhile. These days, I hate that the art of the great villain is a lost one, with even some of the better games of recent times failing to deliver us a great bad guy to get our teeth into. Recently, when I finished Mass Effect 2 and beat the giant Human-Reaper under Harbinger’s control, I felt empty.

Because I couldn’t care less about the Collectors, Harbinger, or the Reapers.

They just don’t make them like they used to.

The strange thing is, Mass Effect’s universe is diverse and interesting- but when it comes to it’s villains, they’re bland and unexciting- the generic “powerful alien race that wants to destroy everything.” What’s to get excited about there? We’ve seen it all before and it just doesn’t cause me any excitement. The Reapers are just another in the long list of generic antagonists we get in our games today. What happened to the Sephiroth’s of the gaming world? A fantastic bad guy can turn a good game in to a great game, because finally defeating a truly great bad guy felt satisfying- but these days bad guys are one-dimensional and forgetable, seeming more like objectives than characters.

The gaming world isn’t delivering on great bad guys not only in terms of personality, but not even giving us great final boss battles- once the true cause célèbre of games. How can some of the biggest games of the past year, Mass Effect 2 and Gears of War 3, produce such bland final boss fights, when the likes of Metal Gear Solid provided several memorable ones in each game? Great boss fights are some of our most cherished moments in gaming and I still have vivid memories of taking on Psycho Mantis for the first time and being blown away. It was on a new level to anything I’d eve experienced, because it didn’t feel like Mantis was attacking Snake- he was attacking you personally and getting in yourhead.

I’m sick and tired of beating boring bosses in the first couple of attempts. It’s completley forgettable, unlike some of the greats from the past- Sephiroth for example, is still remembered fondly fifteen years later, because he felt like a true challenge, taking the combined efforts of your team, aswell as your enemies to kill him. Even then it took three battles. Combined with the fact he felt inhumane and extremely powerful- destroying villages and killing your friends. In a way, he made Final Fantasy 7 the great game it was. The likes of Saren pale in comparison.

The industry is capable of delivering better, yet it constant disappoints Give me somebody to hate. Give me somebody I can feel good and happy about sinking my time into defeating. Anything else just smacks of laziness. I swear to god, the next game that has “It’s AI that’s gone wrong and turned on it’s creators” is going to get a slap in the mouth for being dull and lacking in any amount of effort. I hate the lack of well-created bad guys in gaming at the moment- it needs to change.

Posted February 19, 2012 by drafterildal in Uncategorized

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Quick PT Dark Ascension Thoughts   Leave a comment

Some quick thoughts about Pro Tour Dark Ascension…

The coverage was miles ahead of what we’ve previously been offered, with the main benefit being live games from start to end. Maintaining a steady stream of about six thousand viewers throughout is great news and I was impressed how there wasn’t a huge amount of downtime, filling things in with deck techs and interviews so that people weren’t switching off and coming back all the time- the best of this being when they got Aaron Forsythe and Zac Hill into the booth. The extended coverage means you get to build up the event as a big deal and can begin to get people used to players- one way this worked out well is how the team successfully made Jon Finkel look like a huge deal. Now obviously to a lot of us, Finkel already is a big deal and one of the worlds best- but for those who are new to MTG, they really sold him as a legend of the game. If you can build up players that people want to watch, it can only improve the game and viewing figures.

The constant coverage also helped catch some great moments and more magic. Without the new improvements, we’d never have seen Estratti’s ice-cold levelling of Tom Martell and the ability to swap between games was pretty nice, meaning instead of having to watch a judge sort out the Kibler/Finkel ‘extra wolf’ situation, we could just flip over to the Nagai/Da Rosa match. I also can’t help but approve of the addition of two extra commentators. I love Rich and BDM, but Sheldon Menery and Rashad Miller both add a different dimension- Sheldon in particular is fantastic on commentary and having a judge emeritus who is well respected by all in the game is a huge boost. It felt professional and had some neat little touches- using Cover it Live to update people on their particular favourites, down to the little intro video going to the booth to the games (which really helped get me in the mood.) All together it was a vast improvement and a great step into the next iteration of Magic coverage and although there are still kinks to work out, it was the stand out winner of the Pro Tour. If there was one thing they should really work on for PT Avacyn Restored, I would say maybe having a live results ticker in the webcast layout and giving those in the booth a better image of the board- it seems the commentators were having trouble deciphering what was being played and in player’s hands sometimes. I have to agree with Matteo Orsini-Jones’ article on Blackborder in that they could really do with a pro doing commentary too.

The top 8 of the tournament was fantastic. Three members of the Hall of Fame, one of which being arguably the best to ever play in Jon Finkel. Another dead cert hall of famer and one of the best in Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa and three unknown, but possible future stars in Costa, Nagai and Rachid. The match ups were fairly varied too, which only added to the spectacle. It was a good showcase for standard with the final being contested between team-mates and two of the best against each other in an almost 75-card mirror in an enjoyable final, with a fan favourite in Brian Kibler taking the crown, even though the tournament had already ‘peaked’ so to speak with the frankly absurd Kibler/Finkel match that is going to be talked about for years to come. It was also good to see quite a diverse field in terms of nationality, with five countries present. Also, it’s worth noting that a good outside bet for the Magic World Cup in advance might be the Czech Republic. They can put a team together from Blohon, Juza, Jurkovic, Cifka, and Jaklovsky which could be quite formidable.

Metagame wise, I think it’s tough to say that any one archetype really dominated things- we did see a lot of Delver builds but that seemingly might be down to sheer numbers than the quality of the deck- the decks that put up good results are quite varied- R/G Ramp and Delver are your front runners now, but a lot of people were saying how Todd Anderson’s Mono-Green deck was very powerful and may have been a perfect call for the meta. Amazingly, Shouta Yasooka once again manages to put up a great beformance with a Tezzeret deck when seemingly nobody else can. For me, other things of note were Channel Fireball being regarded as having a bad weekend, yet three of their players made it to the Top 8, with PV and Kibler contesting the final- although LSV going 1-4 is always a shock. There was a lot more talk of people testing and playing with teams which is interesting, especially as (if you missed it), Aaron Forsythe said that WotC are looking to get team events going. That’s big news. All-in-all, a fun PT- roll on Avacyn Restored.