Magic: The Gathering: Dragon’s Maze Prerelease

I’ve talked about Magic a bit in the past and I got off my butt again a couple weekends ago and played some. I don’t seem to have written about it at the time, but I played in an M13 pre-release last summer. It was not entirely successful. While I’d watched and learned plenty about limited from Limited Resources, there were a lot of key decisions – how to build a deck in sealed, to when to mulligan, to how to sequence plays – that I was largely unprepared for. It was not a particularly successful experience (at least I opened a Lilliana of the Dark Reams which payed for a good portion of the event). Between my nervousness and my deck (an awkward black-white exalted deck that didn’t have anything on the high end to actually win with, but was too slow to be aggressive) I played really fast, and ended up having to wait a long time between rounds, on a hot day, in an improperly ventilated room. I went 1-3, not including one opponent who didn’t show up for our match (causing further waiting).

But, after having plenty of time to lick my wounds, I got back on the horse for Dragon’s Maze. I went to a different, more welcoming location. I had the guild-packs to guide me through deck-building (I ended up building a super-grindy Golgori-Orzhov deck with very solid removal and late game). And I was more relaxed overall and meticulous in my play. I won some really epic games. I got crushed in a few. I finished in the prizes (just barely, at 3-2-1) and had a lot of fun through the somewhat gruelling seven-plus hour event. So, a success. After the jump, I’ll talk some more about my individual rounds and my deck, mostly just to preserve them in my memory for posterity. Continue reading

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Games of the Year 2011, Part 2

There are two obvious absences from this list. I haven’t played Skyrim yet. Oblivion did eventually get its claws into me in a big way, and there’s every chance Skyrim will do the same when I get around to it. Also, The Witcher 2 almost certainly deserves a spot on this list. I’m playing it now, and I’m really liking it. It feels messy and complicated in a way that the Bioware RPGs never are. I am playing the console version, which came out in 2012, so perhaps I’ll be able to sneak it onto next year’s list.

Without further adieu, here’s the rest of the 2011 list: Continue reading

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Games of the Year 2011, Part 1

I’m getting this up a little late this year, but it’s just as well since I played a couple of qualifying games over the holidays that definitely deserve their spots on the list. To explain this list: I play games on a fairly idiosyncratic schedule, and tend not to play a lot of games just as they come out. So to give as many games their due as reasonable, I do these lists on a one-year delay. So these are my favourite games that were released in 2011. Continue reading

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Spec Ops: the Line and Player Identity

[This turned in to quite the rambling mess of a post, but it was good to write again, so I want to put it up anyways.]

When we play a video game, who are we supposed to be within the game? Are we merely supposed to relate to the character we’re controlling, or should we actually think of ourselves as being that character? And to what extent should we feel morally culpable for the acts that our avatar in the commits? Continue reading

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Syndicate: How to Make a Poor First Impression

There are two basic things a shooter can do to make a good early impression on me: let me configure the controls, and let me easily experiment with difficulty settings so I can find the one that works for me. Syndicate has failed me on both accounts. I’m coming off Crysis 2, which has very similar controls, but the crouch and melee buttons are the opposite of how Syndicate has it (which Crysis let me configure how I wanted). Syndicate does not give me this option, so I keep meleeing when I wanted to crouch. Worse, there isn’t a melee animation if there is no enemy to hit, so I don’t even get proper feedback when I make the mistake.

I started off on Hard difficulty, like I normally do in shooters, but found myself struggling after a few levels. So I wanted to drop down to normal. I figured I’d lose just the progress of the level I was in. So I went to Chapter Select, but was shocked to find that it’s only for replaying already completed chapters. To change the difficulty, I had to completely restart the game. How does that even happen? I guess I’m glad I found it out early on in the game, and I will keep going – the game has some nice style going for it – but it’s a frustrating way to start.

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Diablo 3: The Auction House

[Note that this post was written before the recent release of the 1.03 patch. While I’ve only played one night post-patch, things do seem improved.]
I enjoy Diablo 3 greatly and have played lots and lots of it, both solo and in groups, since its release. But there are flaws. I’m going to talk about two little ones, and one big one today. Continue reading

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Dark Void

[Yes, I’ve been away for a while. Things got busy, as they do from time to time.]
This is not a good game. It’s a shame, because it’s got some fun ideas in it, but it just gets too much of the fundamentals wrong. Continue reading

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