The War Report: EDH via Webcam

I’ve been a member of a few Magic: The Gathering and specifically EDH oriented groups on Facebook for a while now. I regularly see people post about groups they might be able to join up with in real life in order to play, but these posts are usually met with little in the way of answers. This is partially due to the fact that despite there being a very active playerbase, it is split up in several ways. There are folks like me who had their own friends whom they played with and as such didn’t really expand beyond that. Others (myself included here as well) go to events at local game stores like Pre-releases for new sets or specific Commander events where prizes are won. Not to mention there are folks who have given up on paper Magic altogether and play solely online via MTGO or Arena. I’ve tried my hand at the digital format and find that I don’t care for it, but I’ve had fun with both other circumstances. But after moving out here as of this year, I really haven’t played much MTG in person. I did make a trip out to where I used to live one time, and I have had some rounds at my house with my sister and her husband, otherwise there was the Vegas trip where I spent the most time actually playing the game.

On those posts where people try to find others to play with in person, most of the answers suggest going to an LGS but there are places where they don’t exist (where I live is one of those places, where the nearest store is 30 minutes away). Others suggest playing via Skype/Discord or whatever else people are using to communicate these days. Initially I was turned off by the proposition, but my old roommate decided to join an EDH Discord channel and told me that he had been playing games with strangers from all over the place and having a blast doing so. Having only a PC and not a laptop, I knew I was going to have to invest in some equipment. My friend said he was using an app on his phone that makes it act as a webcam, but after seeing it in action I’m glad I decided to pick up a proper webcam. It didn’t cost much either.

It took me the better part of an afternoon to get things all set up. First, I had to unpack the webcam and the hinged arm that I purchased for it as well. Then it turned out that my desk is too thick for the arm’s clamp, so I had to find a solution which ended up  being a thick book. Thankfully the webcam is tiny and weighs very little, so the book is enough weight to hold it into place. I’ve found the perfect desk for this sort of thing on Amazon and will likely pick that up after I move, so I can then mount it properly. Anyway, once I had the physical pieces set up, I discovered that the camera’s USB cord was pretty short, but thankfully I have a spare USB port on the back of my keyboard, so I was able to plug it in there. Initially it wouldn’t turn on for me either, and after some digging I found that I had access to the camera denied in Windows’ privacy settings, so once that was enabled we were good to go. My friend pointed me in the direction of two different Discord servers, but so far I’ve only really used one. If this sort of thing interests you, the server I use is linked in that last sentence.

After being a part of the Discord channel, there are LFG tools there to pick up players to get EDH pods going. Since the traditional pod size is four players, it doesn’t take long to get games up and running. I joined my old roommate and some random guys for the first time last weekend, and it was quite an experience. People generally use a free conference software via Whereby, and I have to say it’s a great tool. This reminds me of Zencastr which I used to record podcasts with, and I’m thankful for the Internet and the cool shit that comes along with it. Pictured above is my screen, where you can see me in the top left, my friend in the bottom right and the other two random guys we were playing with. One person logs into their “room” and then sends an invite link to Discord where the other players will join in so you can see their playmats. Obviously the video quality isn’t amazing and you’re not going to be reading cards off of the screen (instead, asking “what does that do?”) but you can see their general board state and it adds to the immersion. Otherwise Discord voice channels are used on the server so that you can communicate. I’ve worn my headset and I’m thankful for its noise cancelling because I’m set in the living room and the TV and other things are always going but I haven’t gotten any complaints about background noise. We had a couple of rounds that day, and then yesterday I spent a big chunk of the afternoon playing as well.

I’m not sure why the camera were set up weirdly in this picture, but it was when I was playing in the late afternoon with a group of random people. I ended up playing several games with these guys but for some reason some of our cameras were displaying weirdly. Perhaps there are some quirks in the system I’m unaware of. Whatever the case, it has been a blast to literally play MTG on demand. I haven’t had this sort of release in quite some time, and since I’ve barely played at all this year I intend to make up for it. This allows me to practice decks more often, and find ways to tweak them to make them better. I’m already tearing through my collection trying to make new decks that just kinda work just to have other things to play. I know now that I won’t feel like I’m wasting my time coming up with new builds and whatnot, because I’ll actually get to use the cards I’m buying and play the decks that I’m building. I’m looking forward to my next session already!

What’s really interesting is the difference in metas. Apparently the culture is a little different too, as proxies are allowed and people aren’t asking for proof that the players even own a copy of the card. I’m not down for playing proxies myself, but I can see how it can make a meta more competitive. Most of my decks are pretty well balanced, so we’ve been playing mostly in the “mid” power level group, and it’s been mostly fair outside of the above game where “Roons” was playing a deck that was probably more fitting for a high power room. Regardless it worked out fine in the end and we had a blast playing a bunch of different games. If you love paper magic, EDH, and don’t have a playgroup, I highly suggest checking this idea out. It’s as close to the real thing as many people can get.

If you’re interested in my webcam setup, here are links to the Amazon pages:

Logitech C615 Webcam
Neewer Suspension Boom

By The Numbers: Week 13, 2019

Well, that was a blowout. I thought the Packers would have been at least competitive versus the 49ers, and the only time they even looked like a decent team was during the only scoring drive and subsequent successful two point conversion. Otherwise we looked outclassed and outmatched. I thought the 9ers might have been a bit of fluke to this point, not really playing many challenging squads, but it seems they are the real deal. It was a little worrisome for our playoff look as well, given we’re likely to see them again when it comes down to it. But we’ve still got the month of December to see how playoff seeding goes. Anyway, let’s look at our picks for last week.

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

Week score: 10-4
Season score: 108-67

Not a bad week, but I would have preferred a win from my team over this personal scoreline. Whatever the case, it’s Thursday, and Week 13 has already begun. I know that the Bears and Lions are currently playing, and as such I’ll make my pick before the game’s over. A little late isn’t too terrible, right? Let’s make those picks now then.

Bears 24, Lions 21
Cowboys 23, Bills 20
Saints 28, Falcons 13
Ravens 20, 49ers 17
Panthers 27, Redskins 14
Jets 21, Bengals 10
Colts 20, Titans 10
Buccs 17, Jags 13
Chiefs 24, Raiders 21
Eagles 27, Dolphins 16
Packers 28, Giants 13
Rams 27, Cards 13
Chargers 24, Broncos 21
Browns 21, Steelers 17
Patriots 30, Texans 24
Seahawks 23, Vikings 19

Now let’s get back to watching some football, eating good food and spending time with our families! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

By The Numbers: Week 12, 2019

With last week being the Bye for the Packers, I didn’t watch much football. I kinda kept up on scores and highlights, but didn’t sit down and watch a whole game, save for most of the MNF match between San Diego and Kansas City. It was pretty sad to watch the Chargers put themselves into a position to win just to lose to themselves, but apparently that has been their Achilles heel all season. Whatever the case, I had a much better week with my picks this time, behold:

Steelers 21, Browns 20
Ravens 24, Texans 21 – Correct
Panthers 20, Falcons 13
Cowboys 28, Lions 23 – Correct
Colts 21, Jags 14 – Correct
Bills 30, Dolphins 21 – Correct
Vikings 27, Broncos 10 – Correct
Saints 35, Buccs 27 – Correct
Jets 17, Redskins 13 – Correct
49ers 24, Cards 13 – Correct
Raiders 30, Bengals 19 – Correct
Patriots 27, Eagles 24 – Correct
Rams 21, Bears 10 – Correct
Chiefs 27, Chargers 14 – Correct

Week Score: 12-2
Season Score: 98-63

The ratio improves a bit as a result. I’m on pace to at least match last year as long as I keep up weeks like this and don’t fall back into bad habits as far as predictability goes. Honestly with the only two incorrect picks, I’d have thought the Steelers would have beat up the Browns and that the Panthers could have held their own against the lowly Falcons, but any given Sunday, right? Let’s make picks for week 12:

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

This week is a big one for the Packers. We’re heading into San Francisco, and though the 49ers are no longer undefeated, they are still the #1 seed in the NFC with a 9-1 record, while we are sitting at 8-2 and hold the #2 seed. Either seed comes with a first round bye and home field advantage, but it would be huge for the Packers to get a quality win on the road against the top seed and there by taking that top seed. We could then be in control of our own destiny and would only lose it with a major stumble down the stretch. We’re a cold weather team though, so this is when the defense and run game become even more important, and both have been much improved over prior years, despite what stats may say. We’ll check back in next week to see how that goes. I’m looking forward to a good game!

By The Numbers: Week 11, 2019

I was thankful that Cam Newton was out of this week’s game, as the Packers were facing the Panthers who have had an okay year. It turns out, his backup is actually pretty good, and there were times I thought we might actually lose that one. Thankfully we did not, and we were able to go into the bye week 8-2. It’s been a good season, and I don’t see how we can’t still be competing come January. For a few weeks there it was getting pretty easy to choose who was going to win in games, but at this point in the season it’s anyone’s guess. I had my worst week of the season so far with my picks, and some of these weren’t a reach either. Take a look:

Chargers 27, Raiders 24
Lions 21, Bears 20
Ravens 31, Bengals 10 – Correct
Bills 24, Browns 10
Packers 28, Panthers 17 – Correct
Saints 35, Falcons 20
Giants 27, Jets 21
Cards 21, Buccs 19
Chiefs 28, Titans 17
Colts 25, Dolphins 13
Rams 21, Steelers 14
Cowboys 24, Vikings 21
Seahawks 31, 49ers 27 – Correct

Week Score: 3-10
Season Score: 86-61

Ouch. I think this might be one of the worst weeks I’ve had the entire time I’ve been doing this column. Seriously, 3-10? Looking at my picks prior to Sunday, most of these games looked like a lock. Sure the Chargers/Raiders game could have gone either way, same goes for the Lions/Bears, but the Browns beat the Bills? The FALCONS beat the Saints? Jets got another win, the Titans beat the Chiefs. The fucking Dolphins beat the Colts. Didn’t they beat someone pretty good earlier in the year? Anyway, I guess it’s coming out pretty random now, and my score has been affected. I’ll try better for this week, but it’s sort of a bye week for me too. My birthday is in a couple of days and I started celebrating already. My team doesn’t play so I may not watch football at all this weekend. Let’s make those picks.

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

Let’s see if I’m any luckier this time. We’ll check back in next week to see how I did. Until then.

A Post About Not Posting

I’d like to say that I’m still burnt out from the post fest that is Blaugust, but that would be a lie wouldn’t it? If nothing else, I could have used it as an excuse for September’s low post count, but then I went and had another low post month in October.

Honestly there’s still plenty for me to say. I still play games daily. There are new and recurring titles that see play but yet I’m not really pulling additional posts out of them. You’ll probably notice my pattern where I will introduce my thoughts on a new game and only get a couple additional posts out of it before it’s on to the next.

I was regular about my round-up posts, but they took a bit of a backseat when I stopped playing a ton of games and started to really focus on the backlog. Problem being is that once a game gets its hooks into me, particularly those kinds that don’t have an end (looking at you, MOBAs, FPS PvP, and Battlegrounds titles), I tend to play them for hours but there isn’t a ton to write about save for update news and the like.

I have been playing a ton of mobile games and Apex Legends primarily.

Other things not so much.

It’s not that I don’t want to play. I generally always keep up on daily tasks on mobile titles. I also try to do my daily challenges on Apex Legends. I recently discovered a coworker plays League of Legends and I spent a chunk of this afternoon playing Ultra Rapid Fire (the “URF” game mode). So things are happening. I’m just in a funk when it comes to writing. This isn’t my time struggling with it either.

Most of the time, when things get tense/stressful in real life I will hunker down and out off blogging. I have been keeping up with Football posts but that’s sort of an aside here on the page so I don’t want that to be all I’m producing. Whatever the case, some things have gone down at work and there’s a possibility I change departments. I also have an impending move on the horizon, which will happen in January. So things have been more focused on those fronts and something has to give.

On the positive side I have posts about commander brews and news. I really only found one legendary creatures out of Throne of Eldraine that I was interested in building and I finished that so there will be a post. I also want to talk about super early Theros spoilers and the coming year’s commander releases. It’s going to be a great year for the game, but I basically don’t play. Hoping to rectify this soon with an LGS visit. Also looking into playing paper magic via webcam with distant friends and randoms.

I am still working through Borderlands 3 with my best friend, but we wanted our first playthrough to be strictly together so it’s slow going due to our differing schedules. I’m really tempted to buy The Outer Worlds, but having been burned on Fallout 76 I was hesitant. I’ve heard good things though so I’m likely to pick it up eventually.

Whatever the case I have about 5 drafts that are semi done. I wouldn’t expect a sudden increase in output bit I hope to get some of my mojo back in coming months. I think post move I’ll be able to settle in again. Then perhaps a podcast and other projects can resume too.

Thanks for bearing with me.