Archive | May, 2011

Online drafting for Magic the Gathering

29 May




So I decided to treat myself to a pre-release draft on Magic the Gathering Online and discovered a few interesting facts. The first is that New Phyrexia is a hell of a lot of fun (as I mentioned in my previous post). The second is that I was pulling some truly amazing Mythic Rares. The first game I played I pulled a Sword of War & Peace, which not only assured I won 2 out of my 3 games, but also sold for $25 dollars on the online classifieds. This promptly allowed me to play in another draft (I’ve shown the final deck above). In addition to pulling two mythic praetors and the black chancellor, I also opened a Batterskull and a Lash Writhe. After again winning 2 games out of 3 (I was horrifically mana screwed on the final game) I sold the Batterskull for $30 and promptly played a final match, where I opened yet another Sword of War & Peace.

Now call me cynical, but I never open that quality of good rares when I’m playing normal drafts (and I’m fairly good enough so that I can usually get at least 2-3 free drafts before I have to pay for another). It’s almost as if you’re being purposely fed really cool cards in order to ensure that you carry on playing online. Of course it might be a coincidence, but I’d love to know the findings of others.



New Phyrexia now available

28 May

The final part of the Scars block is finally here and it’s a bloody good set that adds massively to the mechanics introduced in both Scars of Mirrodin and Mirrodin Beseiged. All the previous mechanics including Infect, Proliferate, Poison and Living Artifacts are all present and correct, but you can now pay life for certain cards as well. Rather than pay a mana, you can instead pay 2 life. It’s an incredibly interesting mechanic, that adds an all new layer to what is already an extremely tactical game.

As good as the mechanics are it’s the cards that are really getting many gamers excited, and New Phyrexia delivers with some truly astonishing cards that will greatly shake up both the block and standard in general. Karn the Liberated is already drawing plenty of attention thanks to being the only Planeswalker in the set and having some truly trippy exile abilities, but there are plenty of other cards that are worthy of your attention.

The Praetors are ridiculously costly beasts (7 mana and higher) which have crazy abilities to match their insane casting costs. They’re not quite up to the power of the Eldrazi, but some of the abilities on offer are incredibly insane. Fancy having your opponent sacrifice one of his creatures on each of his upkeeps, while you put a creature from your graveyard into play during your upkeep? Perhaps you like the sound of a 7/6 trampler that has all your land producing double mana while it stops your opponent’s lands from untapping during their next untap phase, or perhaps you just want a 4/7 creature with vigilance that gives all your creatures +2/+2 while all your opponent’s get -2/-2? They’re all game changers once they come down in play and are all rapidly increasing in price on the secondary market.

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of this new set though is just how many common and uncommon cards are rapidly rising in price. These are mainly ones that allow you to pay life (greatly reducing their casting costs) but the insane amount of removal in the set including The Beast Within, Dismember, Noxious Revival, Whipflare and Mental Misstep are all worth seeking out.

Perhaps some of the best cards though are the new living weapons, with one in particular, Batterskull, being a real standout. For 5 mana you get a 4/4 creature with vigilance and life link, which can greatly swing games whenever if comes into play. You can also return it to your hand, making it extremely difficult to kill.

Needless to say I’ve already added it to my existing Knight deck.

Game Night

26 May

If there’s one thing I like it’s a good old-fashioned game night.

My six-year old has become rather upset recently, because everyone has been playing The Settlers of Catan and she’s too young to understand the rules. I promised her that I’d pick up a game that she could play with us and I discovered this little gem from Dice Maestro.

Wildlife Rescue takes elements from Yahtzee and requires you to rescue animals by rolling at least 3 dice of the same type. Animals have points based on rarity and you can earn bonus points by finding all the animals on your zoo card. Another nice touch is the ability to use a zoo transfer card to steal a creature from one of your opponents. It’s a fantastic little game with a fast pace and easy to learn rules.

After the girls went to bed, my friend Greg came around and we settled down for a couple of games of Khet 2.0. I won’t go into it too much here as I’ll be working on a more detailed review soon, but suffice to say it’s a very interesting boardgame that has you manipulating pieces to finish off your opponent. The nifty thing here though is that most of your pieces have mirrors on them. At the end of a turn you activate a laser on your sphinx and it will bounce off the other mirrors and hopefully destroy one of your opponents pieces. Khet 2.0 is a very strategic game that requires a lot of thought to play, but it highly enjoyable all the same. Again. I’ll have a more detailed examination of the game next week.

Last, but by no means least were a few games of Magic: The Gathering. It was a good opportunity to test out my new cards from New Phyrexia, but if I’m honest my new Knights deck needs quite a lot of work. It managed to hold its own against Greg’s red deck, but was quickly decimated by Caw Go. Needless to say I’ll be going back to the drawing board and rethinking my options.

I also played my first game of Elder Dragon tonight as well. I’ve never been keen on it in the past, due to the insane cost of the cards, but it turned out to be pretty good fun, and I firmly trounced Greg’s blue control deck with lots of red burn and plenty of goblins.

All in all a good night, although I’m desperate to get down and dirty with Wrath of Ashardalon. Oh well. Maybe next week…

Back from Montpellier

24 May

Sorry about the lack of posts (as if anyone’s reading) but I’ve just got back from Montpellier, France and I’m absolutely knackered. We had a nice trip to Ubisoft Montpellier (or The Villa, as the developers like to call it) got to play an incoming game and met the legendary Michel Ancel.

He doesn’t like speaking to the press much, so getting 30 minutes of his precious time was a real treat and you’ll be able to read more in issue 91 of Retro Gamer. What I liked about Michel was his passion, both for gaming and his family, and the fact that after all this time and the success he’s had, he’s still a very humble bloke.

The weather was unbelievably hot (31 degrees on the Monday, 33 today) but I was there with a nice bunch of people, and Korinna from Ubisoft was absolutely lovely. The city itself it truly beautiful, with an interesting clash of architecture and plenty of interesting sights to discover.

Here’s a pic to give you an idea of its beauty.

End of the world… Apparently

21 May

So the world is apparently ending today for what is now the umpteenth time, and I have to spend it at a bloody wedding. If there really was a god surely he’d let me spend my last day on earth doing something I actually wanted?

Unboxing The Settlers of Catan

20 May

Okay, so here’s the actual box.

Like a lot of board games it has a nice canvas feel to it and looks very classy.

Open the box and you’ll discover these 5 pieces of card and a very detailed instruction book.

The art is nice, if not exceptional, but best of all are the large number of pieces to punch out.

Hooray. More holes to punch out and there’s also a pack of cards, which contain the resources and development cards.

The set is finished off with a pair of dice, and settlements, cities and roads for 4 players.

And here’s the board set up in all its glory 🙂

The separate hexagons allow for plenty of variation, ensuring the no two games should ever be the same.

I’m heading off to France for the next few days, so this will be my final entry for the next few days. When I return I’ll be posting up details of my first play of the game with my wife and 10-year old and will also take a look at the very interesting Khet 2.0. One thing I have learned is that my 10-year old Emily is extremely devious when she plays.

The Twilight Zone – Season One Blu-Ray

20 May

If you’re a fan of science fiction then you should already be aware of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone. If you’ve never heard of the hit TV show (which was so successful it spawned 2 reboots) then you really need to invest in this superb boxset, as it will quite simply redefine the way you look at science fiction TV.

This brand new Blu-Ray release features all 36 episodes of the original first season and even includes the rarely seen pilot, The Time Element. It’s a absolutely stunning transfer, full of deep blacks and fine detail and it’s amazing to think that this was first filmed back in 1959. The Twilight Zone was famed for its cinematic sets and this newly remastered transfer captures its opulence perfectly.

Audio too is of an incredibly high standard, with each 30-minute episode featuring the original mono mix along with a brand new 5.1 offering. Audio throughout is exceedingly crisp, dialogue is well prioritised and the cult score (not the jangly, which came in during season 2) sounds superb.

To complement the stunning aesthetics, this new box-set is chock-full of truly outstanding extras, including the aforementioned pilot. There are numerous commentaries, a host of genuinely informative interviews, isolated music scores, radio plays, Serling’s very first pitch to the studio execs and much, much more.

It’s always a pleasure when one of your favourite TV shows or films is given the treatment it deserves, and The Twilight Zone Season One truly is superb. If you’re a long-term fan than this is the definitive version of the hit TV show. If you’ve never heard of it before, then what are you waiting for? Pick up a copy and enjoy one of the most ground-breaking TV shows of all time.