Thursday, October 15, 2020

I Am Not Dead

 Last post was Sept 4, wow. Time has flew. I thought that being back in the office would give me more time to blog but honestly I've been working extra hard lately on some new projects with new teams and finding the 20 minutes to write something down has been difficult.

But I've decided to ressurect the blog and try to get content out again. 

Gaming? I've been gaming for sure. Still doing the Magic the Gathering thing online with Arena, drafting as much as I can and the latest release Zendikar Rising is a blast, lots of different archetypes and directions to go, I'll have a post on my results in the last three formats coming up soon.

I've also been dipping my toe back into Heroes of the Storm as just a way to pass some time. Its a fun diversion and it makes me wonder about trying something with a larger playerbase like League of Legends, but as long as I'm having fun in HoS I don't see the point of learning a new game.

For a few weeks in September I was playing Into the Breach that I got in the Epic store for free. This is a smaller game like FTL where you go as far as you can with a team of mechs you upgrade as you fight the bug aliens, and then restart when you die with one mech pilot only. Its a lot of fun for a small game, highly reccommend it.

Like everyone else in the world I tried Among Us. Its ok just playing by yourself with random strangers, but the game is awesome with people you know. Going to be playing it tomorrow at lunch with friends. Its like Battlestar Galactica Lite with the cooperation and the traitor mechanic.

Until next time... watch out for the vents....

Friday, September 04, 2020

Drafting Magic

 Drafting on Magic Arena continues to be my favourite pastime this long long quarantine. Last time I talked about it here I was lamenting my frustrations with Theros Beyond Death format:

Almighty Brushwagg

With that said, I did not have fun drafting Theros Beyond Death. I ended up at 55 wins and 60 losses after the many drafts I did, and only once got to 6 wins out of 7 before losing three times. I had many 0-3 results and generally felt flummoxed even when I thought I had a deck that could compete. it really killed my joy in March.

The Ikoria Lair of Behemoths was a 180 degree turnaround for me and I had a ton of fun in that format and was sad to see it go. I finished it at 73 wins 68 losses and got to 7 wins three times in 24 drafts. I think the biggest factor in the turnaround is that archetypes I used were very obvious and decent wide support so you could force a lane whereas in Theros you needed to have extremely good card evaluation skills and reading the drafting signals in order to make the best working deck.

But after Ikoria came Core Set 2021 (aka M21) and I have not had a great run again. Only 58 wins to 56 losses and no 7 win drafts in 20 tries. The win percentage was slightly better than Theros but no trophies (as 7 win drafts are called). I think the same thing as in Theros was plaguing me in m21: trying to find an open lane that had the support to make a strong synergistic deck.

That being said, I still had fun and much prefer drafting with other humans instead of the Arena bots. My goal for the next set, Zendikar Rising (which looks awesome by the way) is to continue to work on that skill of drafting decks as opposed to piles of cards. Let's see if I can get back to getting some trophies!

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Going Old School

Reading Dragonlance novels to the twins has brought me back on a wave of nostalgia to the old SSI D&D Gold Box games I played in my youth. 

Pool of Radiance was my first introduction to role playing games ever. I nearly finished it after playing it for hours but the final boss was too much for me. I then played the sequels of Curse of the Azure Bonds, Secret of the Silver Blades, and the one in the same engine based in the Dragonlance realm, Champions of Krynn. 

I couple years back I tried to go back to Pool of Radiance but the old mechanics of healing turned my off pretty quick (how many times to I have to case Cure Light Wounds and then memorize it again!??!?) but that was addressed nicely in later versions so I visited Good Old Games and plopped down some cash for the Krynn series of games. I booted up the Champions of Krynn with low expectations and was pleasantly surprised.

I'm having fun playing the old game in DOSBox and alt tabbing to the journal and manual. Leveling up my 16 bit characters and finding new magical weapons.Sure the graphics are nothing great and the gameplay can be frustrating at times (how many clerics and mages do they have?!?!) but I'm in a groove and having fun (hint, save often).

Will I go into the next one in the series when I finish Champions of Krynn? I don't know, probably not, but we'll see.

Thursday, August 06, 2020

Remembering the Paintbrush

After having a good time painting my 3D printed imperial fleet, I decided to get a small Chaos fleet to have something to play against if the twins want to learn to play. I purchased a resin cruiser and battleship from Aliexpress that was a little more expensive but the quality is close or better to Games Workshop orginals, and I went back to my friend Chris for 4 cruisers. 

I then put together the resin cruiser and got to work on a paint scheme. I decided to go with classic dark red and black and since I had all the parts to make any of the cruisers or heavy cruisers, I went hogwild and used small rare earth magnets to make it configurable.

Pictures! First up we have the completed hull of the cruiser beside one of the 3D printed ones (the files from Thingaverse). You can see the launch bays on the table getting ready.

And here we have the completed launch bays and dorsal lances on the hull, held by magnets (which, to be honest, was a pain in the royal ass to get right).

While its not 100% the best work I've ever done and I made some rookie mistake (like spraying the finish on too thick on the launch bays grrr) it still looks fine for what I've got planned. Now to finish all the other weapons platforms so I can make any of the seven base cruisers and heavy cruisers with it!

Then on to the four printed crusiers (no magnets this time thank god).

Friday, July 17, 2020

Revisiting Dragonlance

When I was a teenager I got into fantasy novels in a big way and the gateway drug for me was the Dragonlance Chronicles.

Its not writing that will get people to hail it as a literary classic for all time a la the Lord of the Rings or Dune (the latter of which is overrated by the way) but it was amazing to teenage me at the time. Magic, swords, sorcery, dragons, Good, Evil... and characters that were more than one dimensional tropes (eventually).

Its been a long time since I read those book, but I remember them so fondly I proposed that I would read them to my almost teenage sons, a chapter a night before bed when we have time. Yeah, they are strong readers and could read them for themselves but I wanted to relive the experience again through their eyes and enjoy the story together.

And its been amazing. They are hooked on the story and characters (one twin wants to create a Kender D&D character as he loves Tasselhoff) and I am loving reading a story that I have mostly forgotten. We are halfway though the first novel and I hope they continue to want to hear the story as I definitely want to finish the trilogy again.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Modeling and Painting is Still Addicitive

I had a lot of fun painting the other five printed ships I had to add to the Seeker of Truth:

Not the cleanest models to paint but the cruisers turned out well so I was inspired to do more. I had an old set of dice from ~20 years ago that were speckled white, red, and blue with yellow numbers. They were impossible to read from any distance over 2 inches. I painted them to a simple black and red scheme.

Then there is the story of two chaos ships I ordered from China back in April. I waited months for them to arrive, but the tracking showed them getting to British Columbia and then disappearing into the Canada Post system. I finally submitted a refund request as I was running out of time to dispute the order and I got my money back. Then a week later the models arrived after all!

Nice resin models of forgeworld quality. If I didn't know better, I would have said they were from Forgeworld! Here is the chaos cruiser with all the bits to make it any of the variants.

And the battleship which turned out to be a Nurgle Despoiler much to my disappointment! Oh well, I'm sure I can make it work.

Having all the spare bits for the cruiser led me to think, "Wouldn't it be nice if I did not have to pick one configuration?" Followed quickly by, "Hey, don't I have a ton of tiny rare earth magnets?"

So yeah, I'm setting up the cruiser to be fully modular before I paint it. I do kind of hate myself for the extra effort required (such as trying to keep track of what side is north versus south on those itty bitty magents when I'm going to glue them) but it might be worth it to be able to fool around with a Murder versus a Hades versus a Devastation class cruiser.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The Quarantine Spring and Summer of Axis & Allies

The Twins turned 12 this spring and there has been a lot of interest in World War II. The boys have been reading youth novels about the war, the Holocaust, and what the world was like back during that time period and the conversation turned to the war as a strategic event in history and I broke out some books and eventually my copy of first edition Axis & Allies.

Boom. They were sold. This led to us picking up an updated version of Axis &Allies which was a simplified version of the original and they enjoyed it.

We borrowed Axis & Allies: Pacific (1st ed) from my best friend and that went over well, so one of  my sons used his birthday to ask for Axis & Allies: Europe (2nd ed):
This version was a lot more complicated then what we previously had played and took some false starts to learn all the rules (for example, the US cannot build a factory in Sicily :P ) but we enjoyed it and its on the top of our list. 

With his birthday money my son then bought Axis & Allies: D-Day, a very different version but still enjoyable and smaller scale to finish in a smaller amount of time.
But wait! There is more.

My son, completely obsessed at this point, decided to use more of his birthday money to buy the latest version of the whole world version, Axis & Allies: 1942:

It like a cross between the 2nd edition Europe version with more pieces and complex rules and the World 1941 with the full map. He's very excited to try it out. 

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