Bioshock 2: Remastered

As I mentioned recently, I finally got around to finishing up the original Bioshock Remastered. Feeling the mood still, I decided to jump into the sequel right away, since I know these sorts of moods are fleeting with me. I’m finding a rhythm again, and I’m finding ways to optimally use my spare time to finish off some of these older titles. It feels good to clear out the backlog! I don’t know what it is about the fall, but I’m typically playing more games and spending more time at home. I’m in California so it’s not as though we have a real fall/winter cycle, but it still gets a bit chilly compared to what we’re used to and more time is spent indoors. I also find that priorities change as my life changes, but I’m straying way off point. Back to the game!

Bioshock 2 picks up where it’s predecessor left off, except that it’s only loosely related to this point. Granted, I’m only a couple of hours into the game but as the original did, this game sprinkles you with information as you go. It’s clearly rapture, there are clearly similar enemies and level design. But in the end of the original, your character clearly lived to old age and died, so this is no continuation (unless there’s a twist ending I’m unaware of). Regardless, it feels like the same sort of game, but now you’re a Big Daddy, and you’re searching for your missing little sister, who they refer to as your daughter. Journals point to the fact that there is some sort physiological bond between the two, so you can’t stray too far or end up in a coma. The new villain has already mentioned Fontaine, and seems to be carrying on with some sort of research that pertains to the little sisters. Tenenbaum is a recurring character (right? I’m not imagining that am I?) that is trying to save the little sisters from Lamb (the villain) who is also the “mother” of your “daughter.” Yeah, it’s a bit convoluted but it makes sense as you play it.

The visuals are on par with the original. The Remastered bit is clearly just an upres on the textures and whatnot, but it runs buttery smooth. My one complaint to this point was the fact that the control scheme is changed around entirely, so I had to do some remapping. No big deal, but it threw me off nonetheless. I’ll leave you with some screens of my progress thus far, and will return once I’ve completed the game.

By The Numbers: Week 13, 2017

What a game that was. Facing the 8-2 Steelers on the road, and Hundley puts on his best performance yet. He’s still no Rodgers, and there were still mistakes but managing to keep up with a red-hot team like that is impressive for a backup quarterback. I was impressed, but at the same time disappointed as we gave the Steelers too much time in the 4th quarter so they got into field goal range and kicked the winner. Had we not missed a long FG earlier in the game they would have needed more to win. Sad, but true. I have faith that the team can cobble together wins in the next two — we face the Buccaneers and the Browns, so we shouldn’t have too much issue there. Afterwards Rodgers just might be able to come back and lead us to the playoffs once again. He was on the field throwing balls this past weekend, so it appears that he’s on the mend and doing well, which is faster than expected and much like what happened back in 2013. Here’s hoping for his return and that playoff march. Let’s see how I did with my picks last week:

Vikings 30, Lions 21 – Correct
Cowboys 24, Chargers 14
Redskins 28, Giants 24 – Correct
Titans 21, Colts 13 – Correct
Eagles 27, Bears 10 – Correct
Panthers 31, Jets 16 – Correct
Patriots 30, Dolphins 20 – Correct
Falcons 27, Buccs 23 – Correct
Bengals 35, Browns 7 – Correct
Chiefs 23, Bills 21
Seahawks 30, 49ers 14 – Correct
Rams 21, Saints 20 – Correct
Jags 27, Cardinals 21
Raiders 28, Broncos 24 – Correct
Packers 27, Steelers 26
Ravens 26, Texans 16 – Correct

Only 4 missed picks this week, one of my better weeks overall. Really wish the Packers would have pulled the upset, but alas. Let’s see what’s going down this week:

Cowboys 21, Redskins 13
Vikings 28, Falcons 24
Titans 27, Texans 21
Chiefs 28, Jets 10
Dolphins 20, Broncos 10
Jags 23, Colts 14
Packers 30, Buccs 17
Ravens 23, Lions 19
Patriots 31, Bills 20
Bears 27, 49ers 7
Chargers 30, Browns 10
Raiders 27, Giants 13
Saints 27, Panthers 26
Rams 32, Cardinals 21
Eagles 35, Seahawks 24
Steelers 31, Bengals 20

Go Pack Go!

Bioshock Remastered: Complete

It was about a month ago that I first wrote about Bioshock: Remastered, and despite playing other games and spending time on Magic, Football, Work and Family life, I’ve finally completed it. All things said and done it only took 13 hours so I guess that tells you that I didn’t really put my mind to it, though about half of those hours were spent wrapping the game up last night.

Bioshock is a great game. Reminiscent of titles like Half-Life before it, it is a story-rich first person shooter with some interesting elements culminating in your character being the hero and saving the world so-to-speak. In my case, I went the route of saving the little sisters, so at the end of the game they came to aid me during the final battle. I’m not sure how much of a different ending there would be had I chosen to harvest them instead, but at the end of the day I’m not going to bother playing through again. I’m content to let it lie as it does and move on to the second title in the series.

I recall reading about the sequel and that it was not nearly as good as the original. I also remember reading about playing as a Big Daddy in that title, but I’m not sure if that relates to the original, in that at the end of the game you make yourself into a Big Daddy so that the little sisters will help you make your way to Atlas (Fontaine). The final movie also alludes to your little sisters growing up, having families and being present on your death bed, so perhaps it isn’t the same character at all, though it was an easy conclusion to make. I hope to dive into the sequel soon, because regardless of how it goes, I already know I’m going to enjoy Bioshock Infinite and am looking forward to getting to that. But either way, the backlog rejoices as I move a game from the unplayed column to the completed one.

Here are some screens of the latter half of the journey:

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I really enjoyed this one, and also enjoyed the fact that I didn’t have to spend more than a month playing it. Had I really pushed I could have finished it in a weekend. Perhaps I’ll try to do that with the next game. Either way I’m happy to be making progress on the backlog and hope to continue my pattern of buying next to no games and finishing off the old ones. I’ll probably never complete every game I own, but I can eliminate ones I do and scratch those off the list that don’t meet my approval. Progress is progress.

Thoughts on Tomb of Annihilation

Tomb of Annihilation is one of the other games I was gifted around my birthday, and I finally got around to trying it this weekend. It released fairly recently and I recall seeing it in my discovery queue on Steam and adding it to my wishlist. That was all I really knew about the title — it was based on a D&D campaign/board game, and it appeared to be fairly standard isometric RPG faire. It turns out that my original assessment was fairly spot on, but I would add that it is a turn-based strategy game, so I’d compare it more closely to something like Final Fantasy Tactics rather than Baldur’s Gate. Instead of freely roaming or clicking to move, you will be restricted to moving within a tile and then passing turn so that new tiles can be discovered. You move more freely as things begin to open up, but some cramped corridors littered with traps can prove to be time consuming. As you begin the game, you’ll pass through a tutorial as with most games.

This is pretty straight forward, but the tutorial does a good job of explaining the nuance of the game, which includes a set of phases between each characters’ actions. Villains move during their phase. One of your heroes will move per Hero phase. The Exploration phase happens after you end a turn with a hero, at which time if they are standing next to the edge of the current tile, a new adjacent one will be discovered. Lastly, the Encounter phase is a random dice roll after each turn that will either help or harm you. These can be avoided with Adrenaline or certain spells. You can only perform one move and one action per turn, or move twice the normal distance, so you have to think through your strategy as you go, and it becomes a pattern of rhythmic button clicking similar to the likes of Diablo, though much slower paced. Leveling up happens across all four characters, though you don’t have access to them all immediately. As you level you earn chests and materials to craft new gear for the crew. It’s nothing too drastic, and there isn’t any RMT factored in either, though the DLC packs give a nice chunk of gold and a few legendary items to make the beginning of the game pretty easy going.

After the tutorial you’ll head out on new missions. Some are story related, and others a little side quests. All follow the same fashion, you’ll open up the map piece by piece and complete objectives at which point the mission will end and you will return to the map. You’ll fight bosses along the way and things will get messy. If you don’t have the legendary items boost, I imagine you’ll have some difficulties with certain encounters. Each map comes with separate difficulties, so I imagine later on you’ll want to play them again on harder levels to get increased rewards. The map is fairly big, about two times the size of this photo:

The main quest appears to head south in a straight line, with the side quests (in blue) sprinkled about, though they appear to be completely optional. There seems to be quite a bit of area that isn’t being used, but that means one of two things: There will be some sort of additional content added to the game at a later date, or perhaps more is added later on as you progress. I guess there’s a third option too, where it just is what it is and that’s okay too. I feel like you’ll enjoy the game if you like this sort of turn-based endeavor, are a fan of D&D or simply like slower paced RPGs. If taking your time and strolling through this title doesn’t sound appealing, then maybe look elsewhere. Either way for the money being asked ($16, $12 on sale right now) it’s worth taking a look.

The War Report: Works in Progress

There have been some recent acquisitions of late and I thought I would start the column off this time with some minor tweaks and updates to existing decks before jumping into my hopes and aspirations for some that are under construction. Recently I finished off building my Goblin deck after starting with a base made from the Merfolk vs. Goblins Duel Decks release, and then I brewed up a Merfolk deck from that same base. I also put in a miscellaneous order before the holiday, and received a few magic related belated birthday gifts since. One gift was a lot of random rares that my mom procured for me via Amazon, and the other was three boosters of the new Iconic Masters set that just released courtesy of my roommate. I also purchased a couple additional packs from the set (one more was courtesy of my lovely girlfriend). I managed to get some decent pulls throughout, and wanted to take a short look at some small changes I made to some of my old favorites:

My “money pulls” so to speak (cards that I pulled from packs that are worth more than the packs themselves) were Flusterstorm, and the above Grove of the Burnwillows. The former was going for $30 when I pulled it, and the land about $15. I traded Flusterstorm to my roommate for the Avacyn, Angel of Hope that he pulled, and though it is worth less at $15, I instantly added it to my Kaalia of the Vast deck. I also removed Conqueror’s Flail from that deck in favor of Elbrus, The Binding Blade. I did not realize that the flip side of that card is black by color-identity (the small black sphere next to the Legendary Creature type-line), and had this card in Temmet, so I removed it in favor of a Daring Saboteur, a card I happened to own that would fit in with the established themes of that deck nicely. Besides, Withengar Unbound is a big ass demon that belongs in Kaalia. Conqueror’s Flail was moved over to Sram, as the bonus effect gives redundancy to my Grand Abolisher. The land card ended up in my project Werewolf deck that I mentioned here previously (but have yet to complete). I picked up Herald of Secret Streams for Marchesa, as it fits perfectly with the counters matter theme. Finally, I removed the janky infinite turn win condition from Goblins and put in Herald’s Horn and Vanquisher’s Banner (plus an extra mountain) as that combo would fit better in Kess anyway. Speaking of Kess, there are a bunch of EDH decks I have sitting around in various states of completion, but the nice part is that I keep procuring cards that I need either from random orders, packs, gifts, or via trades, so they are all coming closer to completion. I’d like to share those now and go over my goals.

Generally speaking, my decks are all built with a similar formula:

  • ~38 lands – unless I can justify less due to things like Kaalia’s cheat creatures into play ability, or I include a shitload of mana rocks.
  • ~3-5 mana rocks minimum – prefer around 8.
  • ~10 removal – destruction, exile, or counterspells
  • ~5 board wipes/mass bounces
  • ~3-5 ramp spells if possible, or additional ramp via artifacts
  • ~5+ card draw effects
  • win-cons

A win con can be something like going wide with a lot of creatures, in which case I will usually run 25+ creatures. If I’m spell slinging, I’ll try for 40 spells and less than 10 creatures. Each deck is different but the sweet spot is usually around 25 creatures and 25 spells, including enchantments. 10ish artifacts and the rest is land, which all of these numbers varying to some degree. With this in mind, you can expect that I’m building each of the following decks in different styles but they will mostly adhere to the above averages.


Hailing from the plane of Ixalan, Gishath is a hulking dinosaur tribal commander that I intend to use as such. His ability to pull dinosaurs from your library onto the battlefield is amazing, and they did include a number of very fun, very playable dinos with the first set of the block, but I feel like despite having a working build drawn up that there are going to be some fun additions made during the second part of the block which comes out in January. I’m going to wait on this one to see what else it can do, but I look forward to getting it done.

Kess is one of the alternate commanders that came packed with the Wizard tribal deck from Commander 2017. I knew immediately that I wanted to build her, but at first I really didn’t know how to go about doing so. I ended up focusing my energies on Marchesa instead. I have since figured out what I want to do with her, and as her abilities allow her to essentially cast every spell twice, I’m going the spellslinging route, meaning very few creatures (but instants and sorceries matter!) and tons of spells. Should be fun to play in a completely different playstyle than I’m used to.

This creature has seen absolutely zero play despite the fact that I’ve owned it for quite a while. I originally picked it up for use in Temmet, but as I explained a while back, that deck was partially rebuilt with a different focus and this was just a “good stuff” card that happened to share colors with that commander. Back during Hour of Devastation, there was a Sphinx lord added to the game and initially I thought about building him but then decided that I didn’t want to build a mono-blue Sphinx deck. Having this creature on hand and enjoying the thought of regular extra turns meant this should be my commander, opening up white to help support my Sphinxes with powerful Azourious spells. I’m looking to control the game and then start taking more turns regularly to close out games with this one.

I’ve had this guy in my sights for a very long time. I’ve built and tweaked his deck on MTG Goldfish over and over as new sets have added new options to the build. I finally picked him up in a recent order and have a handful of cards for the deck. It’s another “different style” than my usual sort of deck, with the win conditions revolving around having a certain life total and flat out winning the game, while building a pillowfort until that win condition can come to fruition. I can’t wait to try him out.

When I start thinking about a new brew, I’ll oftentimes look at things other players have done, and there are some common themes in the community. Things like Voltron and Tribal are build types and slang all the same, but these builds have formed the meta. “Super Friends” is one such style and is called such because it focuses on planeswalkers and the ability to quickly get to their ultimate abilities by abusing certain mechanics that allow you to add or double the counters on them. Many people play Atraxa as their Super Friends commander due to her proliferate ability, but because she is only four colors I didn’t use her. Instead I opted for Ramos, Dragon Engine as the commander, mainly because he is 5 colors but also because he will benefit from additional counters and can get me big mana here and there. Seems legit. I look forward to building this, as I have several planeswalkers that aren’t currently being used but they are a pretty big investment so I’ll likely put this one off for a while.

Back when we were waiting for teasers for the Commander 2017 decks I was sort of hoping for Cleric tribal, as there are so many interesting Clerics throughout Magic’s history. Unfortunately, we got Wizards instead, but I ended up benefiting greatly from that precon so perhaps I shouldn’t be ungrateful. Regardless, I decided to build my own Cleric tribal deck and it looks to be pretty fun. There are Clerics in every color but the best ones tended to be Orzhov so I went with that. It was difficult to pick a commander at first, but Ravos, Soultender seemed to be the most on point with what I was trying to do. Having partner is a nice bonus though, so I put him together with Tymna the Weaver as they keep me in Orzhov but I have the added benefit of two commanders. Thankfully I owned both, one from Daxos and the other from Saskia, so I threw them and the other good Clerics I had on hand into a pile and this one is a fairly budget build so I’ll be putting it together soon enough.

Yet another commander option built from the Wizard precon. I didn’t give Taigam much thought at first, but I have some experience with Dimir and what it can do. I was intrigued by his ability to scry but also self mill, with the added bonus of spot removal if needed. Initially I wanted to exploit this further by using other cards that also want you to skip your draw step (like Necropotence) and I did to some degree, but where I found real value was by cheating in big fuck you Eldrazis by dumping them into my graveyard and using shenanigans to cheat them into play. Honestly think this deck will be a lot of fun with the cards I’ve included, but I’m not sure that it will be tier 1 like Kess could be.

I have a card called Assemble the Legion which basically makes a shit ton of soldier tokens if left unchecked. I wanted to build around this, and prove that Boros isn’t as shit as some people make it out to be. Turns out that Tajic, Blade of the Legion is from the same set and built for the aforementioned card so I decided to build a soldier deck. This revolves heavily around going wide as most tribal decks do, and also seems to be one of my favorite things to build. Lots of tokens, effects, and the ability to overwhelm with cheap creatures should be fun if nothing else.

After writing my article about brewing my Simic Merfolk, I put in that miscellaneous order that I have partially talked about, and the remainder of that order contained this commander herself, along with some of the cheap cards I needed for the deck. Shouldn’t have to invest too much more to be able to complete it. I had no real theme or wincon here as I discussed, but I think it might go off on its own accord. We’ll see.

And finally, my Werewolf tribal deck. This one is actually close to being done as I did some trading to get some cards of importance, and had much of it already from the standard deck I had built last year. I don’t need too much more and this deck will probably be one of the most complex to pilot but I still think it should be fun!

Overall I have far too many decks built and not enough money to get them all built, but they each keep taking shape and they keep getting finished off sooner or later. I just wanted to jot down some notes on what I have been working on, and I hope to go into more detail on these as time progresses. That’s all for this time!