Batman: The Telltale Series Episode 1

Clearly I’m a bit behind the times when it comes to TellTale games, as this particular entry released back in 2016. I’m sort of over the whole style of game, though I’m still into their storytelling… and that probably doesn’t make sense. These adventure titles are great when you care about a particular IP, and are a nice diversion from more attention demanding genres, but game play that consists of QTEs and dialogue choices isn’t really game play. Again, when you care about an IP these things don’t tend to matter much. Tales From The Borderlands was a blast, and it was the same sort of game. I’m in love with The Walking Dead series. Batman is sort of hit or miss with me. So that’s why I’m just now playing this title, mainly because it was free with Playstation Plus for January.

That said, it’s not bad. It’s not entirely an origin story, and familiar characters are abound, but it’s definitely more early on in Batman’s career, as he’s only just meeting some of these folks, and people like Gordon aren’t Commissioner yet. If you have some familiarity with the Batman ethos you’ll know these characters and know more details about them than even Batman does at this point, and that’s fine — this is it’s own thing and we can accept that.

Graphically it’s on par with the other Telltale games I have played. It runs fine on the PS4, which is a marked improvement over their titles’ functionality on PS3, but these things are to be expected. The choices don’t seem to be all that difficult to make in this game though. Here’s mine from the first episode:

Literally none of the choices were gut-wrenching. I expect that there will be those sorts of choices to make before the season is over, but nothing here made me stop and think… nor did I necessarily do what I would do were I the person in the situation — I feel like I went along with my preconceived notions of what Batman would do. There’s a terrible bumper sticker idea — WWBMD? What would your bowel movement do?

I chose to have a private meeting with Falcone, who is the villain for this episode. That meeting was filled with veiled threats, but nothing too interesting. Later, the Wayne manor was being raided and a reporter named Vicki Vale took a quote from me. Dunno if that will make a difference later on. I chose not to break a thug’s arm. I chose to give sensitive data about Falcone to Gordon rather than Vale, which seemed the obvious route to go. Finally, I arrested Falcone instead of pounding him to a pulp. Overall boring stuff here. It appears that most of my choices were on par with other players, which isn’t surprising as they mostly seemed obvious.

I’ll report back with my results from the next episode soon!

The War Report: Oloro Pillowfort

I’ve been brewing this deck for quite some time, and it’s finally nearing completion so I thought it was time to share it. Like the Commander 2017 front-men, Oloro has an Eminence ability that functions even if he is in the command zone. Despite it not having the keyword, this was the first appearance of an Eminence ability which has been furthered in the C17 product.

Recently I have been trying to build decks that function differently than the norm. I’ve built a bunch of tribal themed decks and they all tend to have a go-wide win condition baked in. Each tribe might focus on particular key words and play differently (particularly due to the strengths and weaknesses of certain color combinations) but they all end up trying to win via combat damage, and that gets boring after a while. I have spiced things up with other strategies such as Voltron (Sram), combo (Locust God) and +1/+1 counters (Marchesa) but I’m always looking for new ways to win that don’t rely on combat damage alone. Lifegain decks aren’t anything new, but it seems that Oloro, Ageless Ascetic is a shoo-in to lead this deck.

Not only does he have a reasonable CMC for a 4/5 body, he has the eminence ability where each upkeep you gain 2 life for no reason, regardless of if he’s on the battlefield or in the command zone. If he is on the battlefield, you get the added bonus of paying one mana to draw a card and damage each opponent each time you gain life. This means you’ll be gaining life every turn and often times earning some extra card draw and doing some minimal damage. With this in mind, I have built the deck to focus on lifegain in all its forms, while using that high life total to benefit me in other ways including winning the game flat out.

Lifegain Themes:

The overall theme of the deck is to gain life as often as possible, and benefit from that life gain at the same time. Creatures in the deck tend to have some ability that will gain life, but in turn many of the creatures will also cause damage at the same time. In some cases I’ll have to gain life for the damage to occur, otherwise it triggers during upkeep or upon an opponent’s action. I’ve also added in lifegain doublers, like Rhox Faithmender and Alhammeret’s Archive that double the amount of life gained. Similarly, Beacon of Immortality will double my life total instantly, and Debt to the Deathless will do X damage to each opponent while gaining me that same amount back. There are also cards like Serra Ascendant, Serra Avatar, and Divinity of Pride that benefit from high life totals. A 6/6 or 8/8 flier for a small cmc due to having this high life total is great, and in the case of the Avatar, it has the same power and toughness as my life total, so it can get huge! Basically no matter what I do I’m gaining life constantly, which means opponents probably won’t be able to kill me via straight up combat, though I’ll still be vulnerable to combo decks that can win without touching me. Still, people are going to want to come at me so that I don’t have an infinite amount of life, and so I’ll be utilizing the “pillow-fort” strategy to try and limit what comes my way.

Pillow-fort Tools:

Pillow-fort tactics revolve around slowing down what’s coming your way. This means either forcing your opponents to pay mana to attack you (Propaganda, Ghostly Prison) or limiting their ability to attack outright (Crawlspace), or limiting what they can or can’t do. In the case of Solemnity, players can’t get counters and neither can creatures/planeswalkers. The Immortal Sun keeps planeswalkers from being able to activate their loyalty abilities along with providing boons for myself. So now that we see that I’ll be gaining a ton of life and pinging my opponents here and there while sitting behind my fort of pillows, you might be asking “how the hell do you win?” I’m glad you asked!

Win Conditions:

One way to win the game is just by having a high life total and casting a card. In the case of Felidar Sovereign, you only need to cast him and wait until your next upkeep, and if your life total is 40 or more you win the game. The same goes for Test of Endurance, though your life must be at 50 there. Finally, Approach of the Second sun must be cast successfully twice — after the first cast it is placed 7th from the top of your library and you must dig it out and cast it again. You’ll either have to live for 7 more turns or tutor it out.

A new combo that was discovered with the release of Rivals of Ixalan is Famished Paladin + Resplendant Mentor. The former card doesn’t untap during your untap step, but does untap when you gain life. The latter gives all white creatures “tap – gain 1 life” meaning that you can infinitely tap/untap the Paladin to gain infinite life (or stop whenever you see fit). You can utilize this life in a number of ways, including the aforementioned win cons, or you can do other things like use Aetherflux Resevoir to one shot one opponent and then do it again to the other opponent the next turn. A more convoluted way to win is using Azor’s Gateway. It’s difficult to flip this card, but when you do it taps for as much mana as you have life, meaning you can use a spell like Exsanguinate to one shot all of your opponents at the same time. It’s not likely that win-con will work all that often, but it’s there nonetheless (and would be fun to pull off!)

Alternatively, you can do fun things with the creatures I’ve mentioned, like Serra Avatar or the larger fliers to pick enemies off, or create a shitload of indestructible horses with the Crested Sunmare. There’s also Phyrexian Processor, where you can pay a large amount of life initially and then use the artifact’s ability to create big creatures to swing with. I’m considering other ways to use life to do things as well, and may edit the deck when I find something viable.

There are other cards on the list that I didn’t mention, you can peruse the full deck list here.

Starving Together (Don’t Starve Together)

At some point or another I picked up a copy of Don’t Starve for Playstation 4. I had already played it for a bit prior on Steam, but never really got into it. With some increased play time with the family as of late, I have been looking for easy to pick up games to play together. Since I wrote about Antihero the other day, I have played a few more rounds against the family and managed to win a couple, but I wanted to find something else that we could play together. For whatever reason, Don’t Starve came to mind as I had remembered the expansion, Don’t Starve Together had released at some point and could be another title that we could spend some time with. I went onto the Playstation Store to look into it, and it turns out if you own the base game, you can pick up the “Mega Pack” for only $10, so I went ahead and did that. Twas a no-brainer.

The Mega Pack includes both of the single player expansions for the game, Reign of Giants and Shipwrecked along with the Don’t Starve Together standalone game. Apparently there are differences between DS and DST, but the expansion content isn’t accessible (which kind of sucks). I’ll probably give the single-player game a whirl sooner or later, but for now I’ve enjoyed starving together with loved ones! DST is playable locally offline for 2 players, or online with servers hosting up to 6. We played offline at first to give it a whirl, then my girl and I went online later after I made her a PSN account. I left the server open to the public but no one ever jumped in. I haven’t yet tried to join someone else’s public game, but that might be fun particularly if they know what the hell they’re doing. Our record to this point is only four days, and I think I played two of those by myself endlessly searching for the ingredients to resurrect my partner.

Playing split screen works well enough, but the button combinations needed to be efficient took some getting accustomed to. Though I played several rounds, I only thought about taking screen shots when I was playing with the child. He picked up the controls and concepts well enough because he plays games like Minecraft so he understands what’s going on. My girlfriend had more issues with the controls but she got it down pretty good as well, and we managed to get some good starts but we’d always aggro something that would kill one of us and the other wouldn’t be long for the world.

As you can see, I had a ghost for a partner for quite some time. It didn’t help that this particular character, Woody, has a “terrible secret” in that he turns into a Were-Beaver some nights. This sort of protects you from the bumps in the night until shadow beasts start attacking… alas, I was not ready for them.

We started to figure out the optimal build paths and on our best run I managed to make a Science Machine but unfortunately we didn’t get much further in our building of camp. At this point we called it a night but it was still a fun experience. 10/10 I would starve again!

Has-Been Heroes

I caught wind of a flash sale on PSN this weekend, where a couple dozen random titles were pretty heavily discounted and saw one little gem that piqued my interest. Has-Been Heroes is credited to the same company that created the Trine series, of which I played the first two. They were fairly enjoyable-yet-linear adventure titles that focused on a trio of characters with distinctive abilities, and all of them depended on each other to complete the series of levels. This game has a touch of that same all for one and one for all sensibility, but repackages it in a completely different sort of game.

The game comes packed with a few different features, some of which I don’t quite understand yet. The Prologue is the tutorial that changes into the campaign mode after completion, and in true rogue-like fashion, when you die you have to start the quest over again. Challenges are runs set up with special rules, and I haven’t tried that out yet. The Epic Quest is also something that elludes me to this point, but appears to have something to do with collecting some sort of arch-portal things. You start the game with the three heroes pictured above, but by the look of the Heroes page, there are a ton to unlock:

I honestly don’t know how these other characters will be unlocked, but after seeing what the base characters do, I’m ready to try out some new ones! The game has a cartoon or anime style look which I rather enjoy, and the gameplay is smooth and responsive. This isn’t the sort of rogue-like title where it’s an Action-RPG level of twitchy fighting mechanics, rather think of it being more akin to Darkest Dungeon. Real-time and turn based elements are present, and at times it almost feels like you’re playing a rhythm game based on the button combinations pressed in rapid succession. Thankfully a much-needed pause system allows you to think out your moves at a more relaxed pace but at times you’ll still be feeling the pressure.

The cutscenes and intro were beautifully crafted and I imagine there are more to come as you complete runs or significant events in the story, but I could just be projecting what I would hope for. If it is only the little bit I’ve seen it’s a nice touch but more of it would have been even sweeter.

The tutorial plays out simply enough. The Monk and the Knight characters are the so-called “Has-Been Heroes” in that they had retired and were once again called upon by their king. You start off as a young rogue who wants to meet them, and heard the king’s call. You’ll learn the basic mechanics here and then meet up with the old guys who let you tag along to see the king. The king mistakes the young rogue as a fellow hero and lumps her in with the has-beens, forming your starting party. You’re joined by the king’s daughters who need a lift to school. They perform one simple function each: One collects coins while the other collects souls.

Souls serve the function of filling up a meter when you ascend to heaven. Upon reaching the prescribed number you’ll sometimes get a chest that unlocks items that will then appear in the game, which is part of the persistence or progression system for the game (a sort of typical subsystem of rogue-likes or lites of the modern era).

Combat is strange, but it somehow works. Each hero resides in a “lane.” Enemies will appear at the other side of each lane and slowly move towards the heroes. Think of games like Plants vs. Zombies where the enemies can only reach your side of the lane so many times before someone dies. However, the twist here is that only one of your heroes has to die and it’s game over. Kind of sucks and there’s a missed opportunity for resurrection spells, but it is what it is. Speaking of spells, each character has a starter spell unique to them, and you’ll pick up other spells as you clear the map. These can be activated at will, but have a cooldown between uses. Each level would appear to be randomized with different rooms that will have either a various encounter or nothing at all (we’re back to Darkest Dungeon themes here). Some rooms will have monsters to kill and others will provide a boon, such as stamina camps or merchants peddling wares. A key merchant is nice to run into, as most chest rooms require them. You’ll also come across gear drops that can help to boost stamina or provide other effects. Stamina is essentially the amount of hits a character can take, so it’s probably the most important thing to keep your eyes out for.

Eventually you’ll come to the end of the dungeon and face off against a boss. They’ll come with their own sets of challenges, and it gets rather complex using your characters to their greatest affect. Enemies have stamina as well, and you have to break through this “armor” of sorts to do damage to their health bars. Each hero does his own sort of attack as well, for instance the Knight has one mighty swing and the Monk hits two times but for less damage. However, damage doesn’t make a difference when it comes to knocking out stamina on enemies, so you have to perform combos. Let’s say the enemy in your center lane has 2 stamina plus health, you would want your Monk to make the first swing (let’s just say he’s in the center lane for simplicity’s sake) hitting the enemy for 2 stamina damage, then you can swap lanes with the Knight so that he can charge in and do maximum health damage to the enemy (oftentimes killing it). Unfortunately this isn’t always the situation, as enemies will spawn in all lanes and your heroes can only swap lanes during a combo. The game conveniently pauses after one hero hits, allowing any other hero to swap lanes as long as their attack gauge is full (this fills like an ATB meter – read: Final Fantasy Series). So sometimes your Knight will hit a high stamina enemy for only 1 damage, but then you can quickly swap your rogue into place and hit for 3 more, then swap in the monk for two hits for health damage. Once a combo is performed the enemies are either slain or knocked back to slowly charge at you again. Bosses don’t go down so easily though, and I have yet to clear the first dungeon. Doing so I imagine, will open up a new hero.

Overall I think it’s a rather unique title despite clearly having used concepts used in other games as building blocks for their own. I like what the developers pulled off here and I look forward to future runs! It’s on sale for under $5 right now, but I know the flash sale was ending soon so you may want to hurry!

TWR: Dinos are Finally Viable

Back when Ixalan released, there was a focus on tribes in EDH. Commander 2017 released a little while prior and we saw the tribal themes that Wizards would produce themselves. Ixalan promised a focus on four major tribes, two of which were old staples and two that weren’t really a thing just yet. The cards existed, but not in great enough numbers to build a proper EDH deck around. Merfolk and Vampires were bolstered with the release of that set, while Dinosaurs and Pirates could finally be considered a tribe. I used some of the vampires that came out in my Edgar Markov vampire deck, and I’ve discussed my direction with merfolk that I wanted to take (which has changed a bit with the arrival of Rivals of Ixalan cards). Pirates are all that interesting to me, but when I pulled a foil copy of Gishath during the Ixalan prerelease I knew that I had to build a Dinosaur tribal EDH deck.

I tried. I threw something together but while there were definitely enough dinosaurs between the new set and the errata’d older cards, it just didn’t seem all that viable. I would have been using commons and uncommons like crazy, and that’s not really something that happens in EDH all that much unless you’re playing pauper. I decided that I would wait, because we knew that Rivals of Ixalan was around the corner and perhaps there would be enough *good* dinosaurs to build a proper deck. I’m glad that I waited. I haven’t quite collected all the cards I need but I’m at least 50% there. I thought I’d share what I came up with, so here it is:


I chose to stick with Gishath as my commander, mainly because Zacama is a little more expensive and doesn’t cheat expensive dinosaurs into play the way Gishath does. Since Zacama still falls within the color identity, I’ve put him in the 99. The main goal here is to somehow make sure that you can get in for combat damage with Gishath whenever you cast him. This means either clearing the board before casting him or making sure that he has some other evasion. Trample helps, but you won’t get to go digging for as many dinos if you’re only dealing trample damage.


First and foremost, the Forerunners are amazing cards. For a small investment you get a body, a tutor for a particular tribe, and a bonus effect. In this case, we get to search up a dino and whenever we cast one while this guy is on the board, we have the option to do 1 damage to all creatures. Doesn’t sound all that great in theory, but with all of the enrage triggers I’ve packed into the deck, we’ll have a ton of awesome effects going on all the time. Another bonus: token decks will be in trouble as 1 damage just might kill off an opponent’s army. Otherwise I have the 3 human cards that synergize with dinos making them cost less to cast, 2 other humans that provide extra mana ramp, and two big spells that can pull off some nice tricks. Kindred Summons is essentially Gishath’s ability in spell form, and Rishkar’s Expertise pretty much goes in every green deck… you draw cards and get to play a 5 cmc spell for free. Easy.

Enrage triggers

These are in my opinion some of the best options for enrage targets. Each of these dinos will trigger an effect when they take damage. That means if they block, take combat damage while attacking, or are pinged with 1 damage by my Forerunner’s ability, they will cause an effect even if they die in the process. If they don’t die though, it’s free effects and there are plenty of ways to exploit these! Some will allow for counters to be distributed, some cause exile or sacrifice effects, others draw me cards or tutor up lands and one even copies itself just for the copies to make copies! So how are we focusing on making this enrage keyword work for us? I’m glad you asked!

Enrage Enablers

There are some versatile options when it comes to trying to trigger your own enrage mechanics. Some come on legs, and others in spell form, but there are various ways to go about doing this. Cards like Raging Swordtooth were obvious, as it’s ETB trigger does 1 damage to all creatures which should net you some positive results (and kill off pesky tokens). Other times it might be less effective, but using the Regisaur to ping one dino for 1 isn’t a bad option, and if the dino is big enough using Burning Sun’s Avatar to ping it for 3 is still a nice payoff. You can use Reckless Rage to kill off an enemy’s 4 toughness creature and get an enrage trigger for yourself in the process. Alternatively, you can use 1, 2, or 3 damage to all creatures spells for a similar payout though you might lose a creature or two in the process. If all else fails and you have several large creatures out, you can do a middling X cost damage spell to keep your big dinos while clearing out plenty of their board. Lastly, Pyrohemia is a blessing in disguise letting you ping away at will to make even more triggers go off. These tactics should help you to bring down your foes, but what are some of the built in win-cons?

Win Conditions

Outside of being able to outright beat someone’s face in with big dinos, or happening upon some cool combos (like Pyrohemia and Polyraptor for a ton of dinos to win the game with), these are the three big win cons that I could find. Beastmaster Ascension has the benefit of being a low cmc card that can have big implications, but if you leave it on the board that long someone will deal with it. It’s better played when you can swing with 7 creatures the turn it is played so that they all get +5/+5 and trample. If that’s not enough, then Savage Beating for its entwine cost or World at War should give you enough extra combats to win, especially if you get Gishath out and can drop even more dinos on the board while you’re at it.

That’s all for this edition of The War Report. You can see my full decklist here.