Monday, June 27, 2011

Deck: Bird Stomp

This deck is very much a work in progress, and very much shaped by the particular cards I have available in my (still quite small) pool at the moment. It's essentially my answer to the question, "What's the best deck I can build around Garruk Wildspeaker with what else I have available?" The concept is pretty simple: Dump a bunch of small, cheap creatures onto the table and chip away at the opponent's health until I can lay down a universal buff or other devastating single spell that clears the way for an overwhelming strike. Generally that means either a powered-up Garruk Wildspeaker or Inspired Charge, but I've won a few games with a Knight Exemplar/Day of Judgement combo. Between Beast Hunt and Squadron Hawk, I almost always have more cards and more creatures than my opponent, though that's partly because my playgroup hasn't discovered the wonders of removal yet.

I'd like to pick up some more copies of Knight Exemplar, as well as more of Mirrodin Besieged and New Phyrexia's often rather excellent knights. I'd also like a few more Beast Hunt-type effects, to keep up the card advantage. Mostly, though, it just needs more playtesting, and more competent playtesting. As I mentioned, the people I play with are fairly inexperienced and generally not as interested in deckbuilding as I am, and this deck pushes way past the limits of what their decks can deal with. Sometime soon I hope to take it by my local game store and see how it holds up there.

3 Accorder Paladin
1 Beast Hunt
2 Cloud Crusader
1 Day of Judgement
4 Kemba's Skyguard
1 Knight Exemplar
1 Leonin Relic-Warder
1 Mirran Crusader
1 Mitotic Slime
1 Roc Egg
4 Squadron Hawk
2 White Knight

Other spells:
1 Accorder's Shield
1 Arrest
1 Back to Nature
1 Flayer Husk
1 Garruk Wildspeaker
1 Giant Growth
2 Inspired Charge
2 Naturalize
1 Red Sun's Zenith
1 Sylvok Lifestaff
1 Trusty Machete
1 White Sun's Zenith

1 Copperline Gorge
14 Plains
5 Forest
1 Mountain
1 Naya Panorama
1 Seaside Citadel
1 Secluded Steppe

Thursday, June 23, 2011

BrokeAss Gourmet

Have you heard of BrokeAss Gourmet? If not, you probably should go check it out, even if you're not "broke." (If you are, you should definitely go check it out.) It's not the simplest food in the world to make, and sometimes does take a decent time investment, but what I've made using Gabi Moskowitz's recipes has been consistently excellent. I am not exaggerating when I say that I have been amazed and delighted every time I've made her food.

That includes:

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Transitional Period

  • Lately I've been making an effort not to watch movies. I'm not really sure why. Possibly just because my family watches so many of them, and I find the compelling hold that screen-based entertainment has on my attention somewhat unpleasant. Partly it's just that it seems like movies aren't good anymore. The last time I was pleased with the results of a movie outing was Tangled, and I'm not sure what the one before that was. The last handful besides that have been pretty hideous.
  • I keep getting this weird urge to write a novel. Haven't decided what about yet; there are a couple of possibilities but I haven't settled on anything. This is good, because I'd worried for a while that college had killed my interest in writing altogether.
  • I just found out that a member of my high school D&D group and one of my oldest friends is going to be my co-worker. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that. Probably good, especially if it means the occasional lunch-break Magic game.
  • I've committed to not running a regular, weekly game for a while. Exploring the possibility of running a PBEM game, and I plan to keep up with the chat games, but I just need to do something else with my social life for a while.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fashion is a CCG

I've finally acquired what might be described as a work wardrobe. Amusingly, after going through nearly a dozen stores (with Dangerfox, whose eyes lit up when I told him there was nothing wrong with wanting to "play dress-up" with his girlfriend as a canvas, and is dogged in his pursuit of my perfect hat) I ended up buying everything except the shoes from the Gap. I would have been utterly incapable of spending that much time looking for clothes a few years ago. My interest (or perhaps tolerance) for fashion has slowly been increasing for the past year or so, and it's been helped along by a rather silly realization: Fashion is built on the same principles as a CCG.

A new set comes out every so often, full of reprints and variations on old ideas as well as entirely new features. Every set focuses on a different aspect of the whole possibility space for the enterprise. If you want a very specific piece, you need to be willing to spend a lot of time shopping or spend a lot of money (and often, spending a lot of time shopping turns into spending a lot of money), and you might even have to wait until a certain style comes back into fashion if it's really unusual.

You'll need to update your collection periodically to remain current, but if you don't, that can be a statement in itself. Some people just look to the trend-setters for the "optimal builds," while others use their collections to build unique combinations that showcase their personal creativity. Others just want to be as shiny as possible. Kids tend to get into it when they're 10-13, and what they do with it tends to horrify their elders and embarrass themselves when they get older.

Another Reason D&D Shouldn't Favor Shields

Building on comments on my post yesterday -- In my experience with western martial arts -- which is, admittedly, limited to longsword fighting from the 14th-ish century -- a swordsman doesn't use a shield. Instead, he uses his sword as what (3.5e) D&D would call a "hand-and-a-half" sword: he switches from one hand to the other as necessary, sometimes uses two hands on the grip, and sometimes uses his second hand to "half-sword," putting his hand on the blade (it's not particularly sharp in the middle, and won't cut anyway without the power of a swing behind it) to use the tip as a dagger in close combat.

My understanding of older styles is that shields were mainly used when the sword was a heavier weapon that didn't allow for much finesse, and in large, well-trained units where each individual soldier's use of the shield contributed to the defense of the unit as a whole. Neither of these situations really seems to describe D&D combat particularly well. My vision of it, at least, is a lot closer to the middle ages styles that involve a sword during the period of transition between the heavy blade of the dark ages and the light fencing blade it eventually became in the Renaissance.

Granted, my understanding of medieval fencing is pretty limited, and my understanding of the history of weaponry and western martial arts sketchier still. If someone who has a more thorough understanding of the topic can correct me, feel free to do so. The main reason I think D&D doesn't favor shields remains that split between offensive and defensive strategies, and honestly it's a pretty good one -- more offense means shorter combats, and shorter combats means more time for the parts of the game that I find actually interesting.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

On Shields

There's been a bit of discussion in the ol' blog-o-sphere lately on shields, and how to make them more effective. This is all well and good, and I might be trying a few of the suggestions myself, in addition to the ever-awesome Shields Shall Be Splintered houserule from Trollsmyth. Unfortunately, though, unless I get really weird with it, shields are pretty much always going to be inferior to two-handed or two-weapon fighting in D&D, outside of specific, controlled situations.

The best thing a player can do, survival-wise, is to stay out of fights. The second best thing is to make those fights short. Defensive power doesn't really help with either of those goals, unless it's absolutely overwhelming. Offensive power helps with both. It doesn't matter how good your AC, or how much DR you have, if the monster gets a chance to pull something screwy, so generally you're going to be better off figuring out how to deal as much damage as you can in as short a period as you can. Hence: Two-weapon fighting, two-handed weapons.