Thoughts on Collections

At one point or another on the Couch Podtatoes podcast we recorded an episode about collections, and at that time I was surprised to note that I didn’t really have anything I was actively collecting. I did note that I had a small amount of Green Bay Packers memorabilia, and that I had collected Comic Books and cards when I was a kid. Needless to say, things have changed!

Within the last couple of years I started buying League of Legends merch, whenever it was that they opened up their merch store. I started picking up some of the collectible figures that they were selling, which are comparable to Funko Pop figures, though a little higher quality and a bit more expensive (though some of the Pops out there go for large sums of money).  At that time I was still playing League of Legends regularly, though I haven’t played it in over a year at this point. Regardless, I found the figures to be something I desired, so I started off the collection with those. Later I was gifted a Funko Pop figure, and that started a new obsession with trying to pick up more of them. Lastly, my girlfriend discovered some of these die-cast metal Street Fighter figures and has nearly completed the set for me. All of these are present in this picture:

From left to right, we have Urf, Zed, Nautilus, Braum and my newest addition, Ziggs (these are the League of Legends figures). Then there’s the Power Armor from Fallout, Jace the Planeswalker from MTG, Spider-Man, William Wallace (Braveheart) and Jon Snow (GoT). Above are a set of Poros and a Lucian mini-figure (also from LoL). The Street Fighter characters are on top — Ryu, Dhalsim, Vega, Bison, Ken, Blanka, Chun-Li and Guile. On the shelf below, I have my small Green Bay collection:

I’ve been getting Green Bay related gifts for years from friends and family, and have collated most of it here, with an Aaron Rodgers Pop, and other various figures and items. I do have a Jersey, hats and some wall hangings in the room as well. My girlfriend and I both have nerdy tastes when it comes to decor, so we have melded our interests together in our room and it’s become a home.

I also commissioned something extra for my room when I discovered like items online. My sister happens to be fairly crafty, and I set her to the task of making me some MTG Mana Symbols to hang on the wall. I purchased little wooden discs for her to paint which she did and the result was pretty amazing!

They look great on the wall, and the process didn’t take her too long, though I was pestering her for updates and she sent me pictures along the way:

I also had her make another set for my roommate as he is also a MTG nut like me, and I figured they would look great in the garage where we typically play the game.

For a very long time I didn’t put much stock in finding decor or things that I would want to collect, but now that I’ve started I really enjoy it. These items don’t necessarily get used, but they do add life to a room and it’s cool to be able to show off your nerdy interests with pride. What sorts of things do you find yourself collecting as an adult?

The War Report: Kess, Spellslinger

A few months back when I was still caught up in the hype over the new Commander 2017 decks, my girlfriend picked me up Arcane Wizardy and initially I wasn’t sure what to do with it. Eventually I threw together a Marchesa, the Black Rose deck which was one of the Legendary creatures in the pre-con. I traded away Mairsil, Inalla is collecting dust and I knew I wanted to build something out of Kess. I have finalized the build I’m going for at this point, so the time has come for me to share it with you guys. Let’s take a look at our commander:

Kess’s ability is fantastic, and its clear why she is now considered a tier 1 EDH general. Each turn, you can cast an instant or sorcery card from your graveyard, so she essentially gives every card of these subtypes flashback without the extra cost typically associated with that keyword. Just like with flashback, the card cast from your graveyard is exiled, but you get two casts of every spell in your arsenal at this rate, and that’s amazing. I knew that I would want to build a “spellslinger” style deck with her, which essentially relies on cheap removal and then either using a combo to win or burning your opponents down with X cost spells. I have several win-cons baked in, but let’s start by looking at the creatures I’ve selected, as there aren’t many of them.


Most of the creatures were picked due to their interactions with spells. For instance, Baral makes my instants/sorceries cost 1 less mana. Charmbreaker Devils recur my instants/sorceries. Guttersnipe pings my opponents each cast, while Young Pyromancer, Docent of Perfection and Talrand all create tokens per cast. Melek changes up the playstyle a bit but feels on theme, because you get to cheat spells casts from the top of your library instead of from hand (functionally card draw) and if you cast from your library you get to copy the spell. Early game you’re going to want to try and control the board until you can find combo pieces or win cons.


I tried to keep my removal spells cheap, so most cost 1 or 2 mana. The reasons are two fold; for one you want to be casting spells early and often, so turn one plays should be available to you — also you’ll be able to recur these spells so you always want to be able to have an answer, either in hand or in the graveyard. The other big reason for so many cheap spells is storm:


The Storm keyword allows you to copy the spell as many times as you cast spells before it. So let’s say you manage to cast 5 spells, and then cast one of these storm cards, you’ll get to copy that last effect 5 times. Kess’s ability means you can add on spells even if you don’t have them in hand, and tools like Twincast will allow you to make copies, not to mention Melek being able to as well. If played right storm abilities can be powerful. Lastly, cards like Aetherflux Reservoir interact well with trying to storm, because you gain exponential life with each cast trigger. You can use this artifact to eliminate enemies from the board, though you’ll have to be careful when you pull the trigger.

Extra Turns:

You won’t have to be as careful if you can successfully cast some of these beauties. Taking extra turns is mostly a blue thing, so the majority here are, and each has it’s own little caveats. Time warp is the most straight forward — you just take an extra turn. Beacon of Tomorrows can benefit you later if a game goes long enough, because it gets shuffled back into your library. Temporal Mastery is a great top deck due to it’s miracle cost being much cheaper (this can also benefit a storm run). Lastly the black option here can be stopped, but an opponent will have to pay half his/her life to do so, which most people aren’t going to want to do unless they are already at a low life total so clearly you’d want to play this one earlier in the game.

Infinite Mana:

One way we can affect our storm abilities, or burn down enemies with X cost spells is by generating infinite mana. One way to do so is with the combination of Isochron Scepter and Dramatic Reversal along with a 3-mana producing mana rock like Basalt Monolith or Thran Dynamo. Bonus, you can tutor up Dramatic Reversal with Mystical Tutor.


The rest of these cards fall under utility mainly because they help the rest of your board state or can be win cons in themselves. I’ve included a few tutors to get out combo pieces or answers, Jace’s Sanctum works like Baral in making my spells cheaper and Primal Amulet does as well, then once it is flipped it will copy spells. Swarm Intelligence also copies spell casts, while Secrets of the Dead provides card draw for all those spells that you’ll be casting from your graveyard. Metallurgic Summonings can quickly make an army of constructs if left unchecked, and Insurrection can steal you an army of creatures if your opponents have a bigger-than-you board state. Lastly, Sunbird’s Invocation also gets you more spell casts, and many of these effects can culminate in some crazy turns.

I look forward to finishing off this build and testing it out! You can see the full deck list here.

The Order 1886: Complete

In a strange turn of events, I’ve managed to complete another game from the backlog in under two weeks. I’m not sure how it happened but my focus was on this title and it was short enough I suppose that I finished it in a reasonable amount of time. In only a few short play sessions I managed to knock this one off the list, culminating in the finish last night. The story line was managable but not necessarily the best thing I’ve ever experienced. The Steampunk alternate time-line London felt realistic enough despite the existence Lycans, mainly because of the inclusion of real world locations and people. Nikola Tesla made his appearance early on and continued to be a staple throughout the title. The game takes place in Whitechapel and that’s a real world location as well. It felt firmly planted in reality and the supernatural and technological details were original enough that they didn’t deter from the game as being something you’ve seen a thousand times before — nor were they so over the top as to harm your suspension of disbelief.

The culmination of the conspiracy plot ended in a way that there was clearly the intent to make a sequel, though looking around I can’t find whether or not this is in the works or will never come to fruition. Clearly the devs were interested in making sequels when interviewed, saying “The Order was never written as a one-off story,” however it doesn’t seem to be in development either. Cliffhanger endings like this suck when they happen in any medium (more common with TV shows I’d say), but it is part of the business.

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We may never get to see what’s in store for Galahad and the Knights of the Round, but it can be concluded that the Order isn’t going anywhere, and Galahad will likely be up to his own agenda working as a sort of vigilante. Perhaps one day we will see for certain, but for now I’ll just say that the game was fair. It looked nice, played well enough, and wasn’t too frustrating. I would be interested to play a sequel if it ever comes, but either way I’m glad to have completed another game from the backlog!

Thoughts on Monster Hunter World

For the first time in a long time, I was hit by the hype train a picked up a game for its full MSRP. I went into this purchase pretty blind, not watching anything but the trailer on its Playstation Store page, which really doesn’t give you much of an idea of the depth that this title seems to pack. It shows some big beasts and various characters attacking them, and that’s about all you need to know I suppose, though the RPG elements add some needed feeling of progression. I had never played a Monster Hunter game before, but I knew that it was a successful franchise and people were raving about it. I was actually given a glowing recommendation by one of my long time blogging friends over at Socially Sour, and he compared it to Dark Souls, and that did it for me. My Internet has been spotty as of late so I decided to order the game from Amazon and avoid the large download, so I had to wait a few days to play after pulling the trigger. I fired it up the day I received shipment, but only ran through the brief tutorial, but managed another play session in between other things last week. You start out creating your hunter:

The character generation in this game is pretty robust in most areas, though I was disappointed to find that you couldn’t pick a different pet that follows you around. I would have preferred a dog to a cat, but that’s just me. You can also set yourself up in beginner gear — either leather or chain armor (I assume better variants are available later on) and pick a starting weapon. This is where I had my biggest stumbling block, but more on that later.

The tutorial was effective enough. I was surprised by the combat. It is sort of like Dark Souls in that you need to be semi methodical about your actions and try to avoid the enemy’s telegraphed movements. It feels a bit more button mashy, but then doesn’t at the same time. It’s definitely more forgiving than any Souls game I’ve played, but I haven’t pushed too far into it either.

As I said, there are various weapon styles you can choose from, ranging from the traditional to the absurd. Pictured above is a “bowgun” which looks like a fucking cannon. I stayed in this training area for a long time testing out the various styles and settled on the Spear with the bug launcher. It seems to suit my playstyle well enough, but perhaps I’ll change things around at some point.

I don’t know what it is about food in JRPGs, but between this game and Final Fantasy XV I’ve seen so many different things being cooked and consumed by my characters. Food plays a role in many games but it’s never quite as celebrated as it is in JRPGs.

I’ve also heard of comparisons to Destiny, in that the game sort of takes place from a hub city where all of the vendors and quest givers hang out — which also serves as a lobby where you can meet up with friends (or strangers) as the game is a co-op title. There are various NPCs that will give you quests or you can visit the quest board. You’ll be greeted with the above screen where you can select a mission and either host or join an instanced area where you’ll complete your objective.

Along the way you’ll pick up ingredients. They’re everywhere! Not only will you gather plantlife and mine minerals, but you’ll also be able to harvest meat and other materials from the monsters you’ll be killing. With these ingredients you can upgrade your existing weapons and armor or create new ones.

Eventually you’ll end up on missions where you have to fight a real monster like this huge lizard, and then the game becomes more like what you’d expect from a Souls title or even Shadow of the Colossus. The creature will be bigger and badder than the things you’ve encountered, and it will take a ton of effort to bring it down. One of my abilities allows me to vault into the air so I was able to hang onto this guy’s back and repeatedly stab him. There were still three separate times you had to fight him — he runs off in between each encounter.

When I quit after my last session this big ugly thing had just been revealed, and rather than being just a bigger version of something I had already seen, this looks like a proper monster. I’ll be heading off after him the next time I play!

When you complete missions you’ll earn various materials and watch various scales increase in value. Apparently my little cat buddy is level 4 now. It doesn’t appear that my character has a level though? It’s all so strange and new to me I really don’t know.

Overall I think Monster Hunter is unique enough to keep me entertained. It’s not my favorite title ever by any means, but I see enough potential here to play it through. Now if only I could convince one of my friends that they should pick up their own copy so I could co-op my way through it, that would be even better.

The War Report: Zur The Enchanter

Recently I became aware of the EDH “tier list” over on Tapped Out. I shouldn’t say I just became aware of it, because I had known of its existence, but it was recently updated and I started processing the information therein. It turns out that of the EDH decks I have constructed, the highest tier general is Reaper King, being a tier 2 commander. Locust God is tier 2.5. The others are tier 3 (which is considered “average” or lower, and that was surprising. Some of my decks felt like they would perform better than their given tier, but of course this information is pretty subjective and it depends on the pod you’re playing in. Regardless, a tier 1 commander deck should function better than a tier 3, despite the amount of money thrown at them. That said, I started thinking about how I’d like to have a higher tier deck.

It turns out that two of the decks I have under construction are actually high tier. Alesha, Who Smiles at Death is a tier 2 general, while Kess is a tier 1. Looking at the list, it seems that some of the generals in my playgroup were higher tier that I first believed, with my friend’s Ghave deck being tier 2 as well, which it definitely performed as during that recent commander event we went to. This brings us back around to the makeup of the pod, where I was his only real competition and the people we were playing against were pretty useless to help bring him down. With all that in mind, I decided I wanted to go to the top of the list. It’s tax return season, and I knew I’d have a bit of money to throw at this so I had a decision to make: build Kess who I already own or build another of the tier 1 generals. After careful consideration, I decided to build a new deck because I still am unsure about how to win with Kess, but the commander I picked was a shoo-in for my style of play, along with being something I could upgrade an existing deck into.

You may or may not remember a post I wrote about revamping the first precon I ever purchased. Daxos, The Returned was a great leader for this deck, and the enchantment focus was fun though the deck was never very competitive. Zur the Enchanter is a commander I’ve had my eye on for a long while, and it just so happens that a large portion of my Daxos deck would fit into his playstyle — plus I’d be able to add blue to the mix which means even more enchantments to choose from! Zur has Daxos beat with his abilities — he’s a 1/4 flyer for 4 mana, but every time he attacks he can tutor up an enchantment with CMC 3 or less, and it goes straight to the battlefield! This is great news, because a majority of the tools we’re going to want to use fit that CMC restriction. The majority of these enchantments will be used to pillow-fort; that is to help keep us protected because we won’t be running many creatures in the deck.


These cards are going to keep us from getting killed outright by making opponents pay extra mana to attack us, having their creatures come into play tapped or limiting things they can do (only one spell cast per turn). A nice combo here is Solemnity + Phyrexian Unlife. Normally the latter card will keep you from dying once you hit 0 life, but once you hit 10 poison counters you’re done for. With Solemnity out, you won’t receive the poison counters either, so as long as the enchantment stays on the board you can’t die! Other enchantments in the deck have other purposes:


So there are a few ways to win here. It seems that most people will use Zur’s ability to tutor up several enchantments to voltron up and go for commander damage eliminations. Using something like Steel of the Godhead gives him unblockable, so you put your opponents on a timer. Giving him a larger boost is possible with Ethereal Armor and a bunch of enchantments on the board, or you can alternatively use Empyrial Armor which gives him +1/+1 based on cards in hand, which combos nicely with Necropotence. If you have no max hand size, you can theoretically use Necropotence to draw a shitload of cards and swing for kills especially if he’s unblockable. You can quicken the pace if you enchant him with Pyresis – 10 poison counters come faster than 21 commander damage!

One trick I found was to use Reconnaissance to protect Zur, by triggering his on-attack tutor effect, then pull him back out of combat which will allow you to get the pieces you need out first and then you can go for the kill. Lastly, if combo pieces are destroyed and you have nothing else going for you, try Starfield of Nyx, which makes all existing enchantments */* creatures based on their CMC, so perhaps you can go wide for the win. So what about other creatures?


These are literally the only creatures I’m running in the deck. They each serve a purpose and add redundancy in places where its needed. Hanna and Sun Titan are recursion for my enchantments/artifacts/creatures, Daxos will help me to make blockers if I need, and the 3 enchantment creatures provide me with hexproof, and more limiting factors for my opponents. These can affect me too though, so they have to be used at the appropriate time. Lastly, let’s look at some of the other utility in the deck:


Typical of a control deck, there is plenty of removal and counterspell effects in the deck. I’ve also added more recursion in Replenish, Open the Vaults and Crystal Chimes. Additional tutor effects, such as Plea for Guidance will help if I don’t have Zur out at the time or want to fish up several enchantments at once. One card, Muddle the Mixture has a neat effect called “transmute” where you can pay a small mana cost and discard the card to tutor up something with a particular CMC. In this case, I can tutor up any 3 CMC card which could come in handy in a pinch. Lastly, Stronic Resonator can allow me to trigger Zur’s ability twice per combat, and each enchantment I cast will come with a 4/4 Angel token if I have Sigil of the Empty Throne on the board. All in all, I think this deck is primed to go off and I can’t wait to see it do so!