Friday, February 19, 2021

Continuous Drafting

I've run into a curious situation with drafting the new release, Kaldheim.

I can't stop. 

I just ... keep.... drafting.

In all seriousness, I started the draft with 40,000 gold and using the gems from winning and draft tokens from the season pass and a couple draft tokens on sale for half price in the store, I've been drafting more than ever as I earn enough from winnings that I almost never completely drain the wallet. As a result I've done 23 drafts over a period less than a month; in comparison I did 35 drafts for Zendikar rising that went from late October to early January.

For some reason, I feel more successful in Kaldheim than I did in Zendikar, and I felt good about the latter to begin with. The stats support this: I had 5 trophies total in ZNR, and I'm at 4 in KHM. I think a big part of that is concentrating mainly on Best of Three drafts instead of Best of One. 

Although the reward structure is more skewed in Bo3 there are factors that mitigate this skewing and have lent to my better results.

1) Not Ranked - so I'm playing against any level player instead of increasingly better opponents

2) No Hand Smoother - so decks are less likely to "go off" on curve and games are longer

3) Variance Reduced - since its a best of three, a bad game or mulliganning down to 5 does not mean you have lost the match; the variance is spread over 2 or 3 games per match

4) Maybe I'm getting better?

Let's not put too much stock into that last one.

Whatever the reason, my enjoyment of drafting on Arena has increased with these improved fortunes as I rarely find myself grinding standard for gold and can just enjoy the game the way I like.

Now, time to see if I can break my trophy record...

Thursday, February 04, 2021

Welcome to Kaldheim

 


The new Magic the Gathering set is out two weeks ago and I had stored up 40,000 gold, enough for 4 drafts. This time I was planning to concentrate just on Best of Three instead of Best of One, so there was some risk that the Gem rewards were going to be more lacking, but I was willing to try as I've been finding the Best of Three format to feel less frustrating as I know the variance gets spread over 2 or 3 games instead of just one.

I went into the limited format feeling a little overwhelmed. There is a lot of words and mechanics and things at play and after enjoying the straightforwardness of Zendikar Rising I was worried it was going to end up being another Theros Beyond Death experience for me.

I'm happy to report that I've done better than I hoped:

KHM
2021-02-03 12:00UW2 - 1
2021-02-02 12:04WB2 - 1
2021-02-01 7:43UG1 - 2
2021-01-31 20:47RG2 - 1
WB1 - 2
UW3 - 0
2021-01-29 12:30RB2 - 1
2021-01-28 12:05UW1 - 2

One trophy and I've earned enough Gems for 5 more drafts (still have one draft to go so wish me luck) and I feel like I have a moderate handle on the format. 

So far my favourite deck was the RB Berserker/Giants that was pure gas fun.

Deck
2 Deathknell Berserker (KHM) 83
1 Demonic Gifts (KHM) 84
2 Draugr's Helm (KHM) 88
1 Elderfang Disciple (KHM) 93
1 Feed the Serpent (KHM) 95
1 Jarl of the Forsaken (KHM) 100
1 Karfell Kennel-Master (KHM) 101
1 Raise the Draugr (KHM) 105
1 Skull Raid (KHM) 111
1 Basalt Ravager (KHM) 122
1 Doomskar Titan (KHM) 130
1 Dual Strike (KHM) 132
2 Frost Bite (KHM) 138
1 Immersturm Raider (KHM) 141
1 Provoke the Trolls (KHM) 144
1 Run Amok (KHM) 147
1 Shackles of Treachery (KHM) 150
2 Tuskeri Firewalker (KHM) 157
1 Kardur, Doomscourge (KHM) 216
1 Blightstep Pathway (KHM) 252
2 Snow-Covered Swamp (KHM) 281
8 Mountain (KLR) 298
6 Swamp (KLR) 293

My trophy deck was a busted Blue White Foretell deck that won more than a couple games on the back of the Niko planeswalker who is very powerful in limited

Deck
1 Battlefield Raptor (KHM) 3
1 Clarion Spirit (KHM) 6
1 Codespell Cleric (KHM) 7
2 Doomskar Oracle (KHM) 10
1 Kaya's Onslaught (KHM) 18
1 Stalwart Valkyrie (KHM) 31
1 Starnheim Courser (KHM) 32
2 Valkyrie's Sword (KHM) 36
1 Augury Raven (KHM) 44
1 Bind the Monster (KHM) 48
1 Brinebarrow Intruder (KHM) 49
1 Cosima, God of the Voyage (KHM) 50
1 Depart the Realm (KHM) 53
1 Draugr Thought-Thief (KHM) 55
1 Giant's Amulet (KHM) 59
1 Karfell Harbinger (KHM) 65
1 Mists of Littjara (KHM) 67
1 Mistwalker (KHM) 68
1 Niko Aris (KHM) 225
1 Niko Defies Destiny (KHM) 226
1 Funeral Longboat (KHM) 238
2 Gates of Istfell (KHM) 256
1 Shimmerdrift Vale (KHM) 267
7 Island (KLR) 290
7 Plains (KLR) 288

I'll continue drafting and let you know in a month how things are shaking out.

IN OTHER NEWS...

Magic the Gathering Arena Mobile has been released for early access and I got it on my phone and I can confirm that it works pretty good. It uses the same account as the PC version and all my decks are there, I can play games with no issue against opponents on PC or mobile, and the experience has been pretty solid. 

That being said, I did a test draft on it, from Pack 1 to Pick 1 to all three matches and I found that more difficult. I like to build my deck as I go and this limited size made that much harder. And I found the gameplay in the more competitive environment more stressful. I noticed at one time that I had 5 fewer minutes left on the match clock than my opponent because it takes longer to do anything.

Overall, I'd recommend the mobile version for doing daily quests on the go, or just passing time. I'll stick to the PC for more competitive Magic games I play.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Entering the Golden Age

 My twin sons, Wilmick and Terrjo, are 12 and will be 13 in March. Although I'm not looking forward to the attitude and growing pains that come from raising teenagers, I have to admit I'm entering a kind of Golden Age because the twins like board games. Not just any board games, but complex board games like I like!

Last year we started playing and enjoying Terraforming Mars, and this Christmas I got Tapestry for a present and turns out the twins like that game too.

Tapestry Learning Game

Only one of the twins has a lot of interest in Twilight Imperium, but the other twin *loves* Axis & Allies and owns three of the games now (World 1941, Europe 1940 and Pacific 1940) and we played his new one, Pacific 1940) twice over the Christmas.

Twilight Imperium

Terrjo also got Carcassonne as a smaller board game pickup and its a hit with all the family, something that can be in and done in a hour and lots of fun.

Ah, all those years of missing board game nights and giving up Warhammer are finally paying off....

Monday, January 11, 2021

Zendikar Rising Sunset Post

 


As we enter the spoiler season for the next Magic the Gathering set, Kaldheim, which is due out at the end of the month, its time to set aside Zendikar Rising and start hordeing gold and gems. 

Zendikar Rising (aka ZNR) was by far my most drafted format, with 51 total drafts compared to 24 for Ikoria. Part of that is due to a slightly better win rate and a much better trophy rate, and part of it is that I really enjoyed the tribal / party decks a lot and had a lot of fun trying to put them together.


This is also the first set I dipped my toe into Best of Three and while my success rate there was not so hot, I find I enjoyed the games there more as the variance monster's effect is lessened by the multiple chances to face an opponent. 

My slight improvement in wins and trophies I think can be acreditted to finally starting to see the signals in the draft and read the table better than I used to. I still can sometimes tunnel vision into a colour pair but I think overall I'm getting better at paying attention and finding my lane for my seat. The next step is to actually trying to evaluate the cards and keep the valuations in mind as I draft.

Courtesy of 17lands.com, my most drafted cards are: 



Grotag Bug Catcher? Makes sense, I loved red/X party decks in this format. Utility Knife? I didn't want it a lot, probably just left over a lot in packs.

Uncommons:

Types!!!!!

And rares:


My favourite deck archetype? I did like the BW Clerics and UB Rogues, but my favourite by far was RW warriors with Kor Blademaster, Grotag Bug Catcher, Goma Fada Vanguard, and friends. Four of my eight trophies were that deck.

With that we bid ZNR adieu, and look forward to shenanigans with Vikings next month!


Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Visiting the Shipyards

December was crazy, but I'm back! And this post we visit my painting progress on my Battlefleet gothic ships.

My slow, slow, .... slow progress.

Back in August I was finishing up my Heavy Cruiser with its modular weapon bays and had primed the four cruiser that would form the bulk of my fleet. Time for an update!

Here is the four cruisers with their base coat of Cardinal Red paint.


Next we have them with their coat of Nuln Oil which is different than then black wash I used on the heavy cruiser. The oil paints accumulate more in the crevices and corners and give some definition to the model.

Closer look at the effects of the oil.

The next step is to highlight the raised and flat parts with the original base red to give the definition even more pop.

With that done, I moved on to the details of the contrast black markings and weapons.

If I'm lucky I'll have this fleet completed by next August!

Monday, December 07, 2020

Board Game Review: Tapestry


From the website, Tapestry is described as "a 2-hour civilization game for 1-5 players". Which is a lie; its not a civilization game, its a victory point generating mechanics game with a fake veneer of a civ game. Don't get me wrong though, you could change all the civ game trappings to gibberish and you would still have a great fun game.

At its heart it is a game where you compete to put together the best engine at generating victory points based on the civilization you start with. There are four different engines and you can invest in any of them but its usually best to invest heavily in one to get the most benefits.

The first time you play it is overwhelming. The sheer number of symbols, options, mechanics, it is truely gobsmacking how much there is going on. Even though the game starts slow and simple, the actions and choices build up until you either find your engine humming along or stalling in the starting blocks. There is some element of luck too, based on the civilization you start with and the tapestry cards you draw that give different bonuses throughout the game as you go through the rounds.

There is some player versus player interaction. On the map itself you can do a little "fighting" over tiles and controlling tiles is one of the engines you can operate for victory points. And on each of the four tracks there are three landmarks you can earn to place in your capital city for more points or resources that you can spend, but only the first player to get to that landmark's spot on the track gets that landmark. This is the biggest source of competition as those landmark buildings are invaluable to building up your city and not only gives you more resources, but is another one of the four victory point engines.

Besides conquering tiles and building up your capital city, the other two engines are developing technologies and exploring tiles. Each of the engines is closely tied to one of the four tracks and often a player will pick one track to invest heavily on and a supporting track to supplement growth and development as it gets more and more expensive to climb a track as you proceed.

This game is available on Tabletopia and Tabletop Simulator as well as a physical board game. My friends and I have been playing it recently on a weekly basis on the latter and it is a big hit with my group. I have definitely added a physical copy to my wish list for Chirstmas.

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Friday, November 20, 2020

Haven In Space

 I was looking for a new game to play when Magic The Gathering was not in the cards (Pun Alert!) and one game that I've had my eye on is Space Haven by BugByte.


What is it? From the Steam page:

Embark on a space voyage with your ragtag crew of civilians in search of a new home. Build spaceships tile by tile, create optimal gas conditions, manage the needs and moods of their crew, encounter other space-faring groups, and explore the universe in this spaceship colony sim.

You start off with a group of survivors on a bare bones ship, some supplies, and a universe to explore and extract supplies from. Over time you add to your crew, expand your ship and capabilities, and try to survive.

Its only still in Alpha but there is a lot of game here regardless. I've played over 11 hours so far in two different games. My first game I was going OK unitl I took on some refugees from a space station attacked by pirates and then got into a downward spiral where I was scrambling for food for everyone and did not realize I ran out of energy fuel until everything shut down, I lost my crops, and people started to freeze and starve to death. My second run has been more successful so far.

This is not my ship.

I like the micromanaging aspect of the game plus the fact you can choose to not micro manage too much. I love designing and redesigning the interior of the ship as it grows and new machines are added to increase my capability. I do not like how if I do not pay close enough attention I can lose a crop of food in a blink of an eye if the temperature goes out of control. Thank goodness for autosaves.

I'm looking forward to future updates.

I reccommend adding this one to your wishlist and maybe picking it up sometime when you need something relaxing like a fidget toy to fiddle with.


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