John-Michael Gariepy

Archive for the month “April, 2012”

The Top Ten Most Reviled Magic: the Gathering Cards, According to Gatherer – Part 1

Magic: the Gathering is a collectible card game, where players spellsling against opponents by crafting a customized deck out of 12,413 possible cards.  This article is about the ten worst choices you can make for your deck.

But it’s more than that, too.  There’s a number of articles on the internet that claim to represent the worst cards in Magic.  Most of those articles are bogged down by personal experience, by conversations with people the author knows, and swayed by popular opinion.  Here’s a card that often pops up on one of those lists:  One with Nothing.

For those of you who don’t know much about it, Magic: the Gathering isn’t a shedding game.  Unlike Uno or Crazy Eights, in Magic, you want as many cards in hand as possible.  More cards means more power and more options.  There are numerous strategy articles dedicated to achieving card advantage.  This card flies against one of the most powerful paths to victory in the game of Magic.  It dumps your hard earned card advantage, and it does it at instant speed.

But for every tenth player, this card reads as potential.  Sure, in most games, the card is terrible.  But there’s a subset of players who enjoy the challenge of finding situations where the card is perfect.  What if you had a creature that ‘turned on’ when you have no cards in hand?  What if your opponent packs four of Lobotomy, a card that not only rips a card out of your hand, but seeks your graveyard and library and pulls all copies of that card out of the game.  What if you just like to be funny, and insist on dumping your hand as a way to taunt people you’re about to crush?  Heck, One with Nothing even popped up in player’s sideboards to fight Ivory Crane Netsuke decks (a deck that jammed extra cards in your hand, then punished you for having extra cards in your hand) when those decks represented half the environment.

This article is not about cards like One with Nothing.  This article is about the cards that are so disgusting that no one is willing to defend them.  How can I be sure of myself?  Because I didn’t make the list.  The Magic: the Gathering community, as a whole, created this list.

You see, Magic has this website by the name of Gatherer, which operates as a database for its cards, but it’s much more than that.  On Gatherer, you can find out individual card rulings, how the card translates into different languages, see other people’s comments on the card, and give a card a rating from one-half a star to five stars.  It’s this last feature we’re focusing on.  I’ve sorted all the Magic cards in existence starting with the “lowest community rating” and worked my way backwards.  What we find is ten harsh lessons in design.  This dump is a direct warning to game designers:  These cards represent design that few, if any, players are willing to defend.  Brace yourself.

Read more…

Advertisements

Two Books: ‘Tale of Sand’ and ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, Century 1910’

Today’s Two Books are dominated by big thinkers.  Few people haven’t heard of Jim Henson.  He’s the driving force behind The Muppets in their various iterations.  Likewise, it’s hard to call yourself a ‘comic book nerd’ and not know who Alan Moore is.  The creator of ‘V for Vendetta’ and ‘Watchmen’ revolutionized the way we think and respond to pictures with accompanying words, dragging comics, kicking and screaming, out of the Bronze Age and into something more real, and more dangerous.  Both men were visionaries who saw the medium of television, films and comic books and demanded more.  They wanted us to think and to feel, and to come to a greater understanding of who we were and what we were capable of.

I don’t want to talk about Jim Henson and Alan Moore, though.  I want to talk about Ramon Perez and Kevin O’Neil.  An maybe a little bit about Jerry Juhl for good measure.

Who are Ramon Perez and Kevin O’Neil?  They’re the guys who took the time to illustrate ‘Tale of Sand’ and ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’, respectively.  They both walk in the shadow of the giants that they prop up, and don’t get enough attention for the work they put in.  I’ll be the first to admit it:  I don’t have as much a respect for artists as I do for writers.  Why?  Some of this stems from the comics news people who sit on the opposite side of the fence and talk about which artists are doing what for what book.  Honestly, I get a bit steamed when someone buys a comic book because their favorite artist is doing a guest run.  Is the story any good?  Who cares?  Humberto Ramos is doing the artwork!

Good artists make me skeptical.  I was an innocent teenager when Image became a comic book powerhouse.  A group of underpaid Read more…

Two Books: Mockingjay and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I don’t need to give you a review of these two books.  I’m quite sure that if you picked up a virtual rock on the internet and threw it, you’d hit someone with a virtual opinion on one book or the other.  I’m more interested in talking about reading books outside of your normal reading list because they happen to be popular.

The Hunger Games Trilogy gets a poor rap from people who haven’t read it or watched the movie.  I’ve seen enough comments from people who swear that they will never read it because it is a book aimed at teenagers, or because they don’t like Science Fiction, or because “The plot is evidently stolen from another book I haven’t read:  Battle Royal.”  Those are all legitimate reasons why you should not read a book.  I mean, I’m not really a fan of Westerns.  I’m not insulted by them or anything, but I don’t read Westerns that are popular with other people who read Westerns.  But, I’ve read Shane, because it was a good book with a long tradition of capturing readers who didn’t normally read Westerns.

With that in mind, if you haven’t read The Hunger Games, you should be reading The Hunger Games.  Why?  Because I’ve met a lot of people who’ve read The Hunger Games, and I’ve yet to Read more…

Dungeons and Dragons Random Encounters: Levels 23 and 24

For an explanation and introduction to Random Encounters, go to Why would anyone make a giant chart of Random Encounters?

Roll once for each adventurer in your party.  Whenever you roll a Brute, or a Soldier, add two of that creature and roll one less time total.  If the last creature you roll is a brute, or a soldier, your players will have to suck it up.  There will be more experience for them anyway.  Whenever Minions are rolled, add the number of minions shown to the encounter and count them as one creature for the purposes of generating an encounter.  Whenever an Elite creature is rolled, count it as two separate creatures for the purpose of generating an encounter.  When a Solo creature is a, stop rolling, since a solo monster by itself is a good challenge for characters of that level.  If you’ve already rolled up three creatures before the solo joined the party, you may want to indicate to your players that now would be a good time to run…

01- 05 Roll again in the Level 22 Random Encounter Chart.

06 – 10 Roll on the Random Hindrances Chart.

11 – 15 (Artillery) Efreet Cinderlord

16 – 19 (Elite Brute) Glabrezu (Demon)

Read more…

The Hunger Games: District 12 – Session Impressions

Hey!  The Hunger Games: District 12 podcast (Psst.  Click the link.) is up!

I do find it funny that our play group spends a fair amount of time comparing this game to the book.  Wasn’t there supposed to be some movie that Wizkids went nuts getting the rights to and publishing a gigantic pile of products over?  Oh well.

So here’s the quick and dirty for those too snooty to listen and laugh along with our podcast.  If you’re going to play one game based upon The Hunger Games, so far, this is your best bet.  I would call District 12 enjoyable.  Many would disagree with me.  There’s a lot of contention over the main mechanic which goes: “As we play the game, whenever a person falls behind, they put a number of ballots into a large glass ball.  At the end of the game, one name is pulled, that person is going to the Hunger Games and loses, and, out of the people who has not yet lost, the person who did the best wins.  By the way, everyone always has one ballot in the glass ball.”  There’s a lot of people who don’t like losing out of left field, and a lot who don’t like people who win by stretching themselves out beyond what should be rational.  Whatever.  The world of the Hunger Games is cruel and capricious, like this raspberry that I’m sharing with all those logic game purists.  Ppffffffttt!

To be fair, though, if you have no interest in The Hunger Games franchise at all, you should probably pick up another game.  This isn’t the most revolutionary thing I’ve ever played, it’s just a good translation for the book/movie.  Everyone else who isn’t completely turned off by this mini review, should probably listen to the podcast to figure out whether you will like the game or not.  To everyone who is completely turned on by this mini review… I’m free on Sunday nights.

Dungeons and Dragons Random Encounters: Level 22

For an explanation and introduction to Random Encounters, go to Why would anyone make a giant chart of Random Encounters?

Roll once for each adventurer in your party.  Whenever you roll a Brute, or a Soldier, add two of that creature and roll one less time total.  If the last creature you roll is a brute, or a soldier, your players will have to suck it up.  There will be more experience for them anyway.  Whenever Minions are rolled, add the number of minions shown to the encounter and count them as one creature for the purposes of generating an encounter.  Whenever an Elite creature is rolled, count it as two separate creatures for the purpose of generating an encounter.  When a Solo creature is a, stop rolling, since a solo monster by itself is a good challenge for characters of that level.  If you’ve already rolled up three creatures before the solo joined the party, you may want to indicate to your players that now would be a good time to run…

01- 05 Roll again in the Level 21 Random Encounter Chart.

06 – 10 Roll on the Random Hindrances Chart.

11 – 17 (Artillery) Rot Slinger

18 – 23 (Elite Brute) Bluespawn Godslayer

Read more…

Post Navigation