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Posts tagged “Magic: The Gathering

Top 10 – Necromancers

GeekOut Top 10s

“A Necromancer! I hoped I’d never have to lay my eyes on one of your kind again” – Gheed.

Yes, the Necromancer is a powerful spellcaster who is capable of bringing the dead back to life. With a penchant for the macabre, these dark magicians are able to manipulate bone, flesh and even go so far as to cause disease and further. Typically though, we’re going for those who bring the dead back to life. As such, we’re not focusing on disease or any of those aspects of this dark art.

So buckle up and get ready, for it’s time that we count down our Top 10 Necromancers. (more…)


Top 10 – Righteous Heroes

GeekOut Top 10s

The Righteous Hero is someone who has a rather strong sense of justice; to the point where you question how they can be so… Well… Righteous! They’re often overbearing, self-promoters who talk a big game. Worse still, typically these do-gooders know how to back themselves up.

But hey, you’re here to see who our favourite Righteous Heroes are – So buckle up, this is our latest Top 10!

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Review – Elder Scrolls Legend

Can’t afford the millions of cards required to get competitive at Magic? Don’t have space for a collection, or friends with decks? Well why not play Hearthstone?

I kid, I haven’t played Hearthstone either. I hear it’s free, but I look at a multiplayer game that big and I’m immediately put off, and to be honest I haven’t been enthralled by a Blizzard game in decades, the lore is lost on me and their style doesn’t draw me in like it used to when I was younger.

I had been dipping into Mojang’s card-game analogue Scrolls for quite some time, it had some great mechanics, but like everything that they try and do that isn’t Minecraft, it vanished in obscurity. Gwent sits firmly on my to-do list, but it does so along with the rest of the Witcher trilogy which I keep trying to get back into, alongside a few dozen other computer collectable card games that ought to be tried at some point, one day. (more…)


Hidden Gem: Firestorm Games

There are a lot of companies out there that promote gaming in all shapes and sizes; from video game companies, to board game companies, tabletop wargaming and oh so much more. Recently, Jake and I went for a trip to Cardiff, as we were just sight seeing, but we wanted to go and find a shop as per the suggestion of a friend through Facebook. We decided to seek out Firestorm Games, a shop that’s out of the way, but within a short walking distance of Cardiff station – and boy oh boy, was it ever worth the visit?

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Kitacon Quest – The Journey Begins

A very short article, as by the time you read this I will already be on-route to Kitacon Quest 2017. I think I’ve undergone more preparation for this convention than any before, and even as a non-cosplayer I’ve undertaken more work than one might call necessary for – what some might call a holiday.

In my hubris I have elected, not only to prepare a one-shot Pokethulu game, but to create a full Pokenomicon filled with horrors of my own creation, featuring alongside a handful of competition entrants from last month’s GeekOut Shrewsbury competition. And because I am the sort to over-do things when I’m organising a game for people whom I’ve either never met or see very infrequently, I had to invest in a better audio recorder to immortalise the game for all to hear, and high quality paper just to really finish the job.

If you’re interested, come find me today (Thursday) and volunteer. I have five places to fill, and once all are claimed and we have a quiet place to sling dice then we shall begin. If asked nicely a second game may be held over the weekend.

Disclaimer – If you join in the Pokethulhu game your voice will be recorded and you are likely to be photographed. Also I stand up while I run games, that’s apparently a thing I have in common with Patrick Rothfuss. You have been warned!

I’m currently finishing a few talking points for the DMing 101 panel. After last year – where I worked through my prepared material in about twenty minutes – I have more plans and more to discuss in order to give my second effort at hosting a panel the semblance of better organisation. We’ll try and keep the panel on topic until we run out of material and questions from you guys, and then I reserve the right to have the whole thing descend into story-swapping, which can be educational in its own right.

Tim and I will be completing the Top 10 for Sunday 27th in person! Based on the results of your vote in our last list, and we will be recording the efforts of compiling the list at the Warwick Art Centre this very weekend, meaning that you will get to hear the bitter arguing, the deliberating, the nitpicking and quibbling. The Top 10 will be based on your second place winner from the last poll.

I will also be coming equipped with Magic decks, Raid passes for Pokemon Go, and a general willingness to talk to anyone.

Time draws near, I will see you soon…


UKGE – The Best Bits (Part 2)

Moving on

RPGs

Chris covered some of the RPGs on show in his article last week but while he covered what was on the shop floor, I wandered the Hilton, who had mostly filled their rooms with tables equipped with DMs, GMs, Storytellers, and enough rulebooks, character sheets, dice and assorted other accoutrements to keep dozens – maybe hundreds – of people entertained all weekend. As someone who is obsessive over tabletop roleplaying it was amazing to see so many games going off at once, I mean just look at this:

Most of these photos may look like identical rooms, honestly it’s just the decor and layout. People were flooding into the sign up room, and I had to edge my way around the queue to get a photo inside.

Competitions and Tournaments

One of the NEC main halls was given over fully to competitions for the more popular games, on a national and international level. Wandering that hall I think I heard as much German, French and Polish cast around as English. There were games I expected, like the Magic tournament, the Pokemon tournament, I even fully expected to see people competing in the X-Wing miniatures skirmish game, but I wasn’t expecting to see Infinity or Dropzone.

Vikings

I already talked about what these guys got up to, here’s a few images from the guys over at the Living History Camp, and the time they went to war against a pillaging horde of small children:

Being Press

Yeah, the best part is just wondering around wherever we pleased (up to a point at least). This has only been my second occasion as a member of the press so I’m still never certain what I can and cannot get away with, but dammit if I’m getting all-access I’m going to work hard for it.

It was incredible wandering the hall before and after the horde joined us. The difference was simply astounding, the freedom to walk the floor reduced to swimming through a crowd; strange echoing silence turned to a cacophony of voiceless sound. These events are made by hard working people who put their livelihoods out on trestle tables to be judged, exhausted staff and volunteers fighting to keep every moment organised and controlled for the good of everyone involved, and by the people who keep coming back year after year to make it all worthwhile.

Here’s what we saw:

Pictures will be on Facebook soon enough, if you see yourself, tag yourself. In the mean time, so long UKGE, see you next year.


Resources – Mana Screwed

While I love Magic: the Gathering to an unreasonable extent – like a borderline addiction if I’m honest – I’m not under any illusions that the game is not without a rather glaring flaw, and it’s the erratic progression of the resources you have to spend. For those not aware, mana is spawned from land by tapping (turning) the land cards, to spend on the cost of a card, for example to play this card:

Would require the player to tap one each of white, blue, black, red, and green mana. Presumably if a player has built a deck with this card as a central figure they would have a wide variety of ways to either find the pertinent cards from the deck or to otherwise generate the mana through other means. Even so that’s no easy feat, and a lot of your deck has to be devoted to creating a wide variety of mana types. Now most people will build decks around one or two colours to make this job a lot easier but it’s still a possibility to find yourself stuck without enough mana of the right type, no matter how well you proportion your deck.

In short it’s a flawed system, essentially functional, but often as cruel and fickle as dice.

Which brings me neatly onto a game I sampled at UKGE as I was wandering the floor exchanging business cards and quietly gathering freebies. I was handed a carrier bag which I found later had two cards in the bottom for Dragoborne: Rise to Supremacy, they were very simple, immediately understandable, and featuring some truly epic artwork, enough to draw me in and drive me to find the stall again and try it out.

Dragoborne manages its resources far more effectively at the cost of some of the otherwise useful cards. Once you’ve drawn your first card in a turn you then draw a second which you commit to your resource pool. It means possibly losing a good card to resources, but it leaves you with a considerably better increment of resources throughout the game. You won’t be caught with an expensive card sat in your hand while your life slips away, just waiting for the resources to arrive. You always begin the fight with enough of your various resources to play any card you might possess, so long as you can wait a mere handful of turns.

Mojang’s CCG, Scrolls, has a similar incrementation method, where every turn you may choose to sacrifice a card of your choice in favour of either more resources, or more cards in hand, giving you an effective way of managing both key components of your game, and if my experience is anything to go by, leaving you screwed one way or the other.

Resource management is one of the hardest things in any given game to balance and still keep creative. With Magic: the Gathering, it’s something of a contract between players and designers, so long as they can produce cards that help manage your mana supply and we have the presence of mind to build our decks with due care and attention, we have a game. A resource management system gives us limited progression allowing for a game that grows organically and fairly. Making them balance well is a task that can bore you beyond tears, and I respect any game that approaches it with a different method.

I’m back to working on an old game design, spurred on by the many enthusiastic playtesters at UKGE, every one of whom had a full table and a captive audience. Management of resource in my game is going to be easy for the players… once I’ve gotten them balanced across several imbalanced factions. Wish me luck, see you next year.


GeekOut Shrewsbury Meet – It Began

Y’know what? For a first try that wasn’t bad at all. Quite the reverse in fact.

Let 30th March 2017 go down in history as the day we finally got round to bringing GeekOut to Shrewsbury! It sounds like we had a lot of competition for the day, and certainly lots of curiosity if not overwhelming attendance, but who cares about numbers when everyone had a damn good time? It’s worth mentioning that Shrewsbury does not want for board gaming groups, but for the first meeting there’s nothing wrong with falling back on familiar territory.

The party started at noon in the basement of the Shrewsbury Coffeehouse, which was a little warm, extra air-circulation will certainly be brought in as the weather gets warmer, but damn if those brownies aren’t worth it. (more…)


Top 10 – Inspiring Leaders

GeekOut Top 10s

To be inspired; to be led by someone you can look up to. Sure, their goals might not be noble, their vision might be distorted, or they might literally have light shining out of their butts, it doesn’t matter. These are people that should be looked up to, whether or not they are actually an effective leader, or a good or a bad leader makes no difference to us. They inspire their people to the best of their abilities.

So join us as we count down our Top 10 inspiring leaders. This is going to be quite a hard fought list! (more…)


Top 10 – Ice Attacks/Moves

GeekOut Top 10s

Oh the weather outside is frightful and the fire is sooo delightful, when there’s simply no place to go… Oh, who put this massive ice wall outside of my house?

Yes, that’s right, we’re looking at the Top 10 Ice Moves & Attacks this week, a very specific kind of attack. The only rules we have for this is that it has to be the actual ability that is ice. It needn’t be aggressive, but the user needs to have been able to manipulate ice to some capacity. Therefore, we won’t be allowing a weapon that’s made of ice, unless it requires them to maintain its iciness.

FREEZE! You need to cool off… Er, no more puns. Let’s get on with this list.


Top 10

10) Smash (Ice Climbers) – Super Smash Bros. Brawl

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Notoriously cute, the Ice Climbers are a duo of eskimos who have teeny tiny little hammers in their hands. Named Popo (in blue) and Nana (in pink), they come from a game released back in the mid 80s simply called Ice Climber. Normally, you’d play as Popo, with Nana being controlled by the CPU – and in Smash Bros, this is no different. You control Popo, with Nana mimicking Popo’s actions.

They make this list, but only just, as their ultimate ability in Smash Bros. is to summon a huge mountain of ice. When their opponents touch it, they can freeze up completely, becoming immobilised and being moved around by physics alone. Their ability however is all they really have going for them as they are by far one of, if not the hardest character to learn in the game. Nevermind little Eskimos, you’re still amongst the cutest characters in game.

Uh, forgive me, Pikachu and Jigglypuff…

9) Wall of Frost – Magic: the Gathering

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Pretty much a must have card for any blue or blue mixture deck. If you need to buy yourself some time to drop some cruel trick on your opponent, want to give them pause for thought when deciding whether or not to attack, or want them to be left wide open while you slip past their big guns, there is no reason not to want a wall of frost in between you and them. Crazy low cost, high toughness, and freezes any creature that touches it.

Only one MtG card in the game is more useful and/or iconic, the indestructible (and flying) Fog Bank, but that barely needs a whif of damage before it’s dispersed. The Wall of Ice is not only one hell of a nuisance for your enemies, they’re also tough to shift. So sit back, relax behind your freezing fortress, and counter every attempt to pull it down with all that mana you’ve left untapped.

8) Hyoten Hyakkaso/Frozen Heavens Hundred Flower Funeral – Bleach

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As captain of the 10th brigade, Toshiro Hitsugaya is in possession of one of the most devastatingly powerful Zanpakuto in all of Soul Society. In the sword’s final released form – Daiguren Hyorinmaru/Grand Crimson Lotus Ice Ring – the sword forms a kind of armour formed of ice, in the shape of a dragon, sculpted around him. This in itself would be awesome enough, but it’s still technically an item, not a power. Hyoten Hyakkaso is a power only available to Daiguren Hyorinmaru.

A hole opens in the sky, and it begins to snow. Everywhere the flakes touch their sprouts a flower with petals of razor sharp ice crystals. The snowflakes settle on any surface they contact, such as his enemy’s weapon and body, finally encasing them fully in a tomb of ice. This is not his only power to encase his enemy in ice, but it is the most inescapable, insidious, and devastating power he weilds…

Almost.

7) Ice Block – Warcraft

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Probably the most iconic Mage move bar for the mighty powerful Pyroblast, Ice Block is a highly defensive move, allowing the Mage chance to get some much needed survivability. This is a move mostly used in Player vs Player combat in World of Warcraft, Ice Block is best used when you can get some backup from other players on your team, so you can then release yourself back into the middle of a group fight.

However, Ice Block has been in more than just World of Warcraft; it’s been around in Warcraft lore for a very long time. It’s by far the most important survivability move a Mage can have. Still, it was later ‘replaced’ due to talents, but it’s still in game, so don’t worry fans of Vanilla!

6) Mei’s Ice Wall – Overwatch

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Let me be honest; I didn’t see this coming myself. However, when we were considering the ice moves and attacks, this was actually a much improved version of Wall of Frost from Magic: the Gathering, simply because it’s portable! It’s a great big wall in the way of the opponent’s, blocking Mei and her teammates from incoming pain. It must be great to hide behind a wall of frost.

Mei dresses in warm clothing, but she’s not an Eskimo. Nope, she’s Chinese in nationality, but it seems she learned how to be cold as ice (HAH) in the process. Her Ice Wall has 5 pillars, each with its own 500 health. To be fair; that’s a lot of health for a basic wall that can be put up anywhere. Lasting for 4.5 seconds, this is a very strategic support ability which can change the pace of a game.

5) Blizzard – Pokemon

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Oh we had a lot to choose from here.

Actually it came down to two of the best ice-moves from Gen 1, but while Aurora Beam is beautiful, clever, and has rather nice lingering effects, Blizzard is so much more iconic, and frankly it was the first move to spring to mind when we even considered the list. Incredible power, high accuracy (because you can’t outrun the storm!!!) and a chance to freeze your opponent where they stand, it’s about as icy as you can get.

In Red/Blue versions, blizzard is surprisingly only available to two pokemon, Jynx and Arcticuno. It has only been out-weighed by a couple of ice-moves from Gen 5, and has long been the crown jewel of an ice-type’s moveset, and is a great TM to add to your high-powered team members.

4) Mr. Freeze’s Freeze Gun – Batman

We all probably remember the Arnold Schwarzenegger rendition of Mr. Freeze, as it is highly memorable unto itself, but let’s not take away from the character here. Mr. Freeze is one of Batman’s most famous enemies, as noted by the fact he makes up part of the Rogue’s Gallery. Often depicted as having fallen victim to an industrial accident whilst trying to save his wife’s life, he’s a tragic character who is prone to saying things like “Chilled to perfection.”

One-liners and Arnold’s performance aside, Mr. Freeze has one of the most powerful ice-manipulation weapons I think I’ve just about ever seen. He just misses out on our top 3, to which we have some real crazy abilities, however this gun is elegant in its simplicity. Able to freeze an opponent completely, the ice gun is one weapon you do not want to get on the wrong side of.

Sheesh, talk about giving your enemy the cold shoulder!

3) Heat Death – “Iceman” Bobby Drake

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X-Men founding member Bobby Drake’s ability to turn water vapours into solid blocks of ice is fairly well documented, and his distinctive power to change his entire form into ice. By and large he does this by slowing the vibrations of water molecules to reduce them to freezing temperature. It’s a rather useful skill, to be sure, but lesser known fact is that Bobby is reducing the vibration of molecules to a complete stop.

The universe strives to reach equilibrium, ending all energy and motion and reaching a state of absolute zero, a terrible expanse of darkness, nothingness. Now, Iceman’s ability can accelerate the process in its own little way, but at his peak of power he can actually bring about the total heat death of the universe, classifying him as an Omega Level mutant. A mutant capable of bringing about the end.

2) Ice Form – Skyrim

Before I start this one, please do watch the above video. No, no, seriously – I’ll wait right here. You go on now. Okay, has your laugh-tank been depleted? Great, let’s continue.

Ice Form is a rather powerful shout in the smash hit, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. You assume the role of the Dragonborn, a powerful entity who is able to speak in the language of dragons. Your role is to go and kill the dragons that have returned, take their souls and use their souls as a fuel to power your Shouts. Of course, there’s a bit more story to it, but that’s the jist of what being Dragonborn is about.

Ice Form is one of these shouts. You shout at your enemy until their frozen, however this is where the move stops being a cool move. It crystalises into something that breaks the game in the funniest of ways. Well, breaks enemies and yourself in the weirdest way anyway. If Ice Form is shouted on you or an opponent, the body hits the ground in a bizarre way… And the game can’t physics any more.

It forgets how gravity works and it thinks that you’re going to go on a jet-speed flying trip around the universe. Because, y’know, Bethesda Quality? (We do love you, Bethesda. No harm meant~) Oh and if you want one more video, check out the above.

1) Sub Zero’s Ice Clone – Mortal Kombat

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Whether Sub Zero is the more popular MK character than Scorpion, that’s another article in itself. However, let us discuss one of his more potent and versatile moves, a statue of himself made of solid ice. If your opponent so much as touches the clone they become flash-frozen, leaving them wide open for a follow up attack, but so what? They can just move around it, right? Well Sub Zero can actually throw the frosty figuring straight at his enemies, making it far harder to simply side-step without getting frozen. If Sub Zero has a clone out and suffers a deadly injury? No worries, you were beating up the clone this whole time and I was over here staying really still.

While some may feel the ice puddle is more memorable, or the tombstone teleport looked cooler, I say that leaving a perfect copy of your body that’s cold enough to freeze a human being fully on mere contact is too cool to pass up and you can just throw it at them. It’s a power shared by both incarnations, Bi-Han (now Noob Saibot) and Kuai Liang, and is way more awesome than making the ground a bit slippy, and for that matter, any other ice-powers you care to mention.


Honourable Mentions

Have you had the time to cool off, or are you feeling a little cold from all of these puns? Well, Icy that you need to have some time out, so here’s some honourable mentions for this list. These are our picks for honourable; not getting to the main list due to their lack of oomph.

Ice Crown – Adventure Time

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More of an object than a move or power, but if we’re discussing icy powers then it’s absolutely worth a nod. At the cost of your memories and sanity, the bearer of the crown of ice created by the first of the Ice Elementals – Urgence Evergreen – gains immortality, and complete access Evergreen’s magical powers. Bolts of ice are the most basic skill, but the icecrown’s powers seem quite limitless, including freezing the entire world for 400 years without the need for a living bearer.

Shaping and creating ice into whatever shape is useful to the host is a given, shields and weapons with which the host actually possesses greater ability than with normal weapons, a skill called “Fridjitzu”, weather shaping (although only one type of weather), facial hair based flight, and dominion over the ice-based life that seems to occupy the snowier regions of Ooo. All in all there’s no one power the crown possesses that’s of particular remark, but it is remarkable in itself in how it parasitically dominates its wearer.

Ice Man’s Ice Slasher- Megaman

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One of the original Robot Masters, Ice Man is one of those bosses that you can’t help but remember from the original Megaman title. However, he wasn’t a final boss or anything; he was just one of the Robot Masters. He was pretty good too – Design wise and ability wise as well. Designed by Dr. Light, he was created for good, until Dr. Wily got ahold of him and the other Robot Masters and reprogrammed him with the intent to take over the world, Pinky.

However, Ice Man’s main ability is Ice Slasher, which when used by Iceman takes the form of a large sword made of ice, which is spat from the mouth. On touch, this can freeze anyone. When you defeat him, you acquire this ability, but for Megaman it turns into an arrow head for… reasons? Perhaps more bafflingly is the fact that Ice Man’s Ice Slasher is the most effective move against Fire Man. No, that’s not just some physically fit guy in flame retardant clothing, stop it.


Ah, we’re finally sat by the fire now, able to heat back up after this rather frosty reception you’ve given us. I mean, just because we’ve been making ice puns throughout the whole of this list doesn’t mean you should be so cold! Nevertheless, we’re here to do a damn good job of these Top 10’s and so we hope you’ll now pick our next Top 10 which will be ready next Saturday. You might notice a theme with the lists this month!

That’s it for this week, hopefully you’re going to stick around through this festive season and let us know what you thought about the above Top 10 list. Do you agree with Sub Zero being our number one choice on this list? For the record, between Joel and Timlah, the choice of Sub Zero was 100% undenied. We could not justify anything else that made our list getting the number one slot, but the Ice Form shout getting number two only made it there through game-breaking comedy. Was that the right move? Let us know what you think in the comments below, or over on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.