New Contender

Samsung Moment, another Android phone - with keyboard. I think this is what the Instinct Q became. It has a HVGA screen.

So far, I'm going with the Hero. I played with a Touch Pro 2 today, and it is a MUCH better phone than the Mogul. The onscreen keyboard has been vastly improved. Picture mail works now, like it should. The faster processor and increased memory really make it snappy. It's got a WVGA screen and GSM world capability. Other features, too, make it a good upgrade from the Mogul. Only one thing, really, brings it down - Windows Mobile. It's still the same crappy experience underneath everything.

The Hero is available as of Sunday, so I'm going to get one then. I figure I'll try it out, try to like it. If I like Android and can handle the lack of a keyboard, then I'll keep it. If I like Android but can't deal without a keyboard, I'll turn it back in and get the Moment on Nov 1. If I dislike Android, I'll consider a Pre or go with the Touch Pro 2.

In any case, I'll have a new phone. Anyone want to buy a used Mogul?

Chase Planes

Planechase is a blast!

So, I called up the local shop on Fri to ask about the launch party. I was told that it was a casual thing happening all day Sat and Sun. You come in, buy a deck, get a promo, and then hang out and play. Not organized, just there. Fine.

So we head over there on sat after lunch (and just after the store opens). We walk in, look around, and finally I ask "Got any Planechase?" Here's the punchline, wait for it.... "Nope, sold out." And goes on to say that they didn't expect it to be popular, so sold out to their regular FNM crowd in the first 20 mins. And now it's out of stock at the distributor level, so no more are available at all. Even though I did see one box sitting on the floor behind the counter. We did get the promos, at least.

Anyway, so we called another local shop, then headed over there are bought all 4, plus got 4 more promos. Looked over the cards, but then did other things for the rest of the day. Sunday, late, we finally sat down to play a game. And it rocked. The decks are slow, and it took about 1.5 hours for the first game, but it swung wildly back and forth the entire time. I love the 5 color artifact deck. Add in some cards from the AR artifact precon, and it would be even better I think... Or perhaps add 2 PC precons together, hmmm....

It's just wild, all the stuff that happens. You're dumping all your mana into trying to roll either chaos or to planeswalk somewhere that benefits you. The game stalls due to the fog or hippodrome, while you're building up your side of the board. You have to pump single creatures up to overcome the -5/-0 or work untap tricks.... Even playing the same decks against each other, it's going to be a wholly different game each time.


Other than that, still been playing Fallout 3. Bought and finished the PA ep2 game. It was a little faster and less irritating than the first one. Also some MTG here and there, plus reading. Bought a couple new games under $20. Did some shopping, ate at various places, the usual.

We also spent some time setting up the new tablet pc. I was pretty skeptical about the thing, seeing its price tag. Only now, after having played with it for a few hours here and there, do I see the benefits. Particularly if you need to draw, it's hard to beat. Pressure-sensitive pen to the screen and you're off just like on paper. Some of the other features are also nice, but that is, of course, the big one. It's also neat to use like an electronic book, magazine, or paper when you fold it as such. Not quite what I'd want for my primary system, but it wasn't for me, right?

Nice short week this week. Mon and Fri off. Flash mob Wed night, potentially. Not sure yet. Nothing planned for the weekend so far.


Forgot to mention that we went and saw Ponyo. I was a bit surprised at how light the whole thing was - recently, Miyazaki has been getting into fairly dark territory. Thoroughly enjoyable, if slow at first.

Hmm, I had something else, but forgot it.
  • Current Mood
    calm calm

Web Hostaging

Why do all web hosts suck?


I went against the cardinal rule and got burned yet again.

If you have a webhost, always, always, ALWAYS have a separate domain registrar. It doesn't matter if a free registration is included, don't do it. It never ends well. NEVER. Even if your webhost is otherwise just fine - great even. The fact that you have your domain registration through them will screw the works up somewhere, sometime, somehow.

So here we are once again, one of my domains is being held hostage. And I already have another one sharing the fate. I got the third one back, finally, at least. Although it was at extra cost at the time.


Anyway, Haha visited, it went well. I have a new dishwasher. Played some XBL games with Braindead Pan, Thenarus, and Yakumo. Bought True Blood on BR because I heard it was good and it was on sale cheaper than on DVD. We've watched the first 7 eps, and are thoroughly enjoying it.

Mostly just playing Fallout 3. I've also been reading. That's about it, nothing much exciting.

There are a couple events coming up, and I can't wait for the long weekend.

Vaca Sum Magic

So, vacation summary....

Left late Thurs, they were late getting out of work. It worked out okay, I took the first shift, they drove the bulk, then I finished off. Got stuck in some construction near the end, which was really annoying. Arrived around 2am I think ad RedneckNinja's. Then we were up awhile just chatting before crashing.

Slept in Fri for quite some time, then got up for food. Cracker Barrel, I believe. Went back to base for showers, then sat around a bit playing BlazBlue before heading out to dinner at Famous Dave's, stopping by Best Buy, and buying fireworks. We each ended up spending $50 on the booms. I only got 1 item - Bad Ass Shells. This was a decent sized mortar pack with 2 mortars and 12 shells. We grabbed the usual cheap rockets, candles, etc as well.

I don't recall what else we did Fri, night, but we slept in Sat for sure. In fact, we were very slow to move. RNN and I started playing through MTG DotP 2HG and the SO went to China 1 for food. We ate and finished off that mode and showered before heading out to the store for food to grill. Got quite a few things, then arrived at RNN's rents place for the deal.

We sat outside and chatted and waited for the food for a few hours, then set up the bottles for swords. Did some cutting, then decided to switch to booms since it was late. I must say, my mortars were awesome. Most of the cheap stuff sucked. The 300 shot batteries were okay. Next time, we're going to go for the bigger/better stuff. After setting all that off, we cleaned up and waited a bit before heading back to crash.

Slept in Sun, once again. Then packed and headed to Goofy's. We were nearing them when we got into stop-and-go. For several miles and too many minutes, we crawled. Finally, we saw the cones blocking 1 lane. For about 50 feet. No workers, no equipment, just random cones blockinb the road for no apparent reason. Causing a traffic jam. Nice. Anyway, got there late and ran out to Lee's for takeout then back to eat. Hung out for a little bit, then headed to Hayama's for the tour and then crashtime.

Mon, we got up and out to Perkin's and had a huge b-day breakfast. Then went back to base and Hayama was off, so we hung around a bit then headed to Goofy's. Miki drove us out to Uncle Yip's for lunch, with caching both ways. We stuffed ourselves at Yip's. Came back and vegged a bit, then went out with Goofy, Hayama, and J to Acapulco for dinner. Wow. We ordered fajitas for 2 and got enough food for 6. We ate until stuffed, and there was still over half left. Best value fajitas ever. Then we walked over to Arcade Legends Ohio, which was interesting but not as neat as I expected. $10 for all you can play was nice. We started with Moonwalker, and then played various stuff until we were bored and tired. Headed back, hunge for a little, then went back to crash.

Tues Hayama was off again. We hung out, then headed over to head to lunch. Miki and I had the great Indian buffet (mmm, vindaloo) while Hayama and the SO had Penn Station. It worked out well. We did some caching and then went back to hang for a little before heading back to Hayama's for some quiet time. Ended up back over at Goofy's then went to Moon Garden for bulgogi, which was excellent but took forever. Headed back to hang for a bit, then the screaming kids thing started and we left to crash.

Wed Hayama was back to work, so we packed up and headed out. Had IHOP, stopped at Meijer. Saw a Callpod in the clearance section, and some MTG stuff on sale that was tempting. Ended up not getting anything. Made the drive back to RNN's, unpacked, and then did some shopping. Went to 2 different Meijer's and grabbed 2 fat packs, 3 intro decks, plus some Unhinged. Was looking for the Angels/Demons Duel Pack that we saw in Oh, but couldn't find it. Caught up with RNN for dinner at Smokey Bones, then played MTG until crashing.

Thurs, went out shopping while RNN was at work. Had China 1 for lunch, tried GS, Target, and WM right there. Then hit up Meijer across the state line, which had the Duel pack. Also got more Unhinged. Dinner at Maido. Went back to veg and play MTG and BlazBlue then crash.

Friday we got started a little late, but packed and headed out in the late morning. Stopped for breakfast at a Denny's. We got shown the table, I sat down, but they noticed ants on the table. I saw even more, so we got up and left. Went down the road, ended up at McD's instead. They drove into StL, and we stopped at the mall for lunch and had Wow Wings. Then we did some shopping there and BB and UE before continuing the trip home. Stopped for dinner at Outback, then got home, unpacked and crashed.

Sat we slept in. Got up and out to meet relatives for lunch at Mac Grill, then went to the MTG pre-release. I had forgotten how long it takes to play in the tournament, so we were there for 5-6 hours. Starving when it was over, we went to Lucky for dinner then back home to prepare the bikes and gear then relax for a bit. We were a little later than preferred getting to the start point of the midnight ride, but we were ready and on time. Ride was good, only 2 crashes on the steep downhill into the caves. I was running out of energy on the way back, and fell behind until we all caught up at a light. Went to Denny's after for food, then home to shower and crash.

Sun, we obviously slept in. Went out to OTB for lunch and then did some shopping before returning to play some MTG and them I dropped them off, returned home, and crashed.

MTG 2010 Core Pre-release
5 forest
5 island
5 swamp

1 Cancel
2 Divination
1 Phantom Warrior
2 Ponder
1 Sage Owl
1 Telepathy
1 Tome Scour
1 Wall of Frost
1 Zephyr Sprite

1 Acolyte of Xathrid
2 Disentomb
1 Doom Blade
1 Dread Warlock
2 Gravedigger
1 Looming Shade
1 Unholy Strength
1 Warpath Ghoul
1 Weakness

1 Bramble Creeper
1 Centaur Courser
1 Emerald Oryx
1 Fog
3 Giant Spider
1 Naturalize
1 Nature's Spiral
1 Oakenform
1 Regenerate

1 Magebane Armor
1 Whispersilk Cloak

I went 3-1 with this deck.

R1G1: Quick death
R1G2: Quick death,ended at -6
Opponent's deck was very fast Green/?, and I didn't get going in time. Mana screwed on game 2 (a theme for the whole tourney) to seal it. Was done in probably 20 mins tops.

R2G1: 16
R2G2: -6
R2G3: 20
Opponent was a pretty young kid who knew how to play, but didn't get the draw needed to win. Again, mana screwed on game 2. I think it was Green/black, not sure.

R3G1: 9
R3G2: -2
R3G3: 12
Opponent played mono white and had way too many lands. It was fine when the life gains worked for them, but otherwise a bunch of dead draws. I had a perfect timing on milling their library to remove some really good cards that would have turned the game in round 3. Every time, 2nd turn dropped the 2/2 lions.

R4G1: 18
R4G2: ?
R4G3: ?
Opponent played white/blue. Kind of interesting deck, but the older player didn't really pay close enough attention to the cards. Round 3 was incredible, I had 1st turn Telepathy and they drew all islands throughout the match. If they had any plains, it probably would have gone much differently. We were both 3-1, so we battled for the prizes.

The SO played in Open, after much convincing. Let me just say that they only got started during the trip, and we had only played for 2 days before this tourney. They were nervous, but finally relented. They ended up 2-4 in Open, beating me and the random 6th player. Not bad at all.

Not sure how far back into MTG we are, but it's been fun so far. I don't regret selling off the bulk of my cards, really. I thought I would more, but there is so much fun new stuff that it really doesn't matter that the old is gone so much. With the exception of being able to whip up a few decks for them out of older stuff, but we've already got quite a few new cards to build from.

One Wrong Game of Magic

So, the other night, I was unlocking cards for the Elf deck in MTG DoTP on XBLA. I got about as good a draw as could be hoped for, and the deck just took off. So well, in fact, that the AI got completely confused and refused to play any cards - it would just draw and discard on its turn. For about 55 turns, until I was down to 1 card in the library and played Coat of Arms, 4 Giant Growths, and an Overrun to finish the game. The score difference was.... Monumental, to say the least. I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.

Collapse )
Rhys with token buff Rhys with token buff
Rhys with token buff
Board with only Rhys token buffed Board with only Rhys token buffed
Board with only Rhys token buffed - notice the stack of 19 token elves
My Status Post Attack My Status Post Attack
My Status Post Attack - 124 life, 1 card in hand, 1 card in library.
Opponent Status Post Attack Opponent Status Post Attack
Opponent Status Post Attack - -8007 life, 7 cards in hand, 26 in library. That was a HUGE hit for the game.


Patrick Buckland - Duels of the Planeswalkers: All about AI

Here's an email I just sent in response to the article on Wizards about the MTG DotP XBLA AI:

Dear Patrick Buckland,
Regarding your article "Duels of the Planeswalkers: All about AI":

The problem with the zen-state play you describe is that the included black discard deck has The Rack. So when the AI keeps drawing lands and playing them, it is saying that "right now, this has no consequence based on the state of the game." Which is true. however, what it should be saying is "no consequence, no other moves, but wait, there's The Rack, if I discard this card then next round I will have 1 less life than if I keep this card in hand since I have nothing else to play." That seems like a reasonable logic branch to take, and minimal in terms of additional time.

Speaking of time, and you said it yourself- after the first couple of creatures, blocking becomes very complex. So when there are 6+ creatures on the board, players (especially beginners) need more time to look at each card and ability and figure out how to block effectively. We had something like 8 creatures going, and my opponent ran out of time trying to decide blockers. That is not fun, seems like there should be a way to automatically give more time when there are more creatures involved or ask for more time, or something - especially in player matches.

Moving on to design decisions, I know there are a number of us who want to know about certain aspects of the game, why they are the way they are, and if they will be patched in the future.

There's no concede button, why is that? It is a basic part of the game, to our thought. If I know you're going to win, then I can concede. Maybe you're concerned about boosting, but that will happen regardless of this button. I could see giving it a couple turns before enabling it, just to be sure, but for player matches in particular, there's no reason not to have one that we could see.

Lack of online co-op and 2HG. All of us purchased the game understanding that we could play co-op and 2HG online. This requirement of a 2nd local controller does not meet that understanding at all. From our perspective, this is a huge miss that would add some variety to the game modes.

Small number of challenges. With the number of cards included, those are the only challenges the team could come up with? It seems very light, and the pacing is off for new players. It would be better to have more scenarios involving different abilities and less options to start with, so new players can see how to use them effectively to win in a tight situation. On the other end, having many esoteric multi-card combinations would give experienced players more to think about in terms of playing each deck. Which brings me to another point- It seems like 10-20 challenges per deck would be more reasonable, as it would help players understand the nuances of playing that particular deck and moving the sideboard cards in/out.

Quitting games in Ranked. This would be considered very unsportsmanlike in physical play, so why is it allowed unpenalized online?

Nonselectable Mentor. I am trying to get a friend into the game, they want me to help them through a game. This is what Mentor mode is for, right? Oh, wait, I can't select who I mentor? Who is this random person who just popped in? That's another mode where the understanding is far different from the reality.
Glitches. We've seen many glitches where we are stuck viewing cards, or are unable to select cards for discards, or select blockers, etc. These are very annoying, especially considering the timer keeps running.

Synchronous. Why is everything synchronous? If the UI is separate from the engine, then why do I have to wait when the 3rd player who is dead is watching the combat animations from the 2 players who still live? Why am I not free to look at any card on the board or in graveyard at any time? Many times, I just want to look around while others are playing, but I either pause the game to do so, or I get reset back to my hand.

Bugs/rules. These are all linked, in our minds. Things such as the double-regen for deathtouch are so counter-intuitive that many people think it is a bug. I understand, now, why it happens, but I didn't get the explanation in-game. New players need that explanation of the rules AS APPLIED, not just the rules text to try to puzzle out.

Game Summary. One thing I would really like to see relates to the above and comes in 2 parts. The first is that you mention an efficient way of stating changes to game state. Assuming that it is human-readable or decode-able, why not have an option to email that file to us at the end of a game? That way we would have a record of the game to post/share with others. The second part of that would be in-game replays of matches - particularly our own, our friends', or of top players, staff, leaderboards, etc. Could fast-forward, show from any player, etc. This would be a great way to learn more.

Are the rules going to be updated with the release of M10?

I don't expect a personal reply, but a post covering these and any other FAQs would be very nice.

Thank you.


The Wizards site email form kept erroring out on me, so I looked up a couple emails to send it to.
  • Current Mood
    annoyed annoyed
  • Tags

On MTG XBLA and Wave

So, MTG DotP on XBLA. Let's just say that, while it has been nice to play with RedneckNinja, Yakumo, and D4nte like we used to, the experience is sorely lacking.

Yes, you get to play MTG online with other people. That part is good. 1v1, 3p FFA, 4p FFA, great. No messing with physical cards, don't have to find a place to set up, rules are taken care of automatically so you just play - all fine.

Then the annoyances start coming in. Glitches. Freezing. Timer that is too quick for some situations, such as complex blocking with 6+ creatures. Lack of a "concede game" button.

Finally, you get to the severe problems. No deck builder. Limited pre-constructed deck choices. Limited customization. Grinding unlock system. Lack of online co-op. Lack of online two-headed giant. Opponents quitting in Ranked. Very few challenges. Necessity of playing through the campaign twice, without online options.

The game felt pretty good at first, then quickly started being annoying, and now finally is revealing itself as not very well put together, thought out, and probably rushed to production. MTG in its physical form has endless variety to keep things interesting. The XBLA offering is so limited and glitchy that it gets boring/annoying very quickly, especially if you are trying to get all the cards unlocked. Yet again, boosting appears to be the way to go to minimize the annoyance factor.

I feel like the $10 is a good price point for an introduction to the game, but the experience is lacking once you're trough the tutorial. I'm fine with addon DLC that includes more cards/decks/challenges/avatars/playmats/music/modes/etc, as long as they include enough content at a reasonable price. However, there still needs to be a free update that includes, at minimum, bugfixes, deeper rules and timing explanations (double regen on combat/deathtouch), increased timer depending on the situation, online co-op and 2HG with no local requirement, concede, and a fix for quitters.


Google Wave looks like an amazing concept. I watched that whole video, and am very enthusiastic about the possibilities. Once there is Wave integration with the discussion boards and major sites I'm interested in, I'm set. Just imagine a post here which is part of a thread on LAG, LeMed, and AGE, an email to those who may not read it here, and IM session with whoever is online at post time, and is also available at twitter - and anyone from any of those sites/systems can post replies to it to be seen by everyone else at each of those sites. That is amazingly efficient. Mobile, too.

I already find myself copy/pasting from site to site, or re-writing the same post 3-4 times on the different sites. And then I have to check back at each of them every time I want to see the updates. Not with Wave.

... That's the theory, we'll see how it plays out once it launches. I figure it will be a couple months minimum before the major discussion boards figure out their integration, then it will either be half-assed or rock. And probably a learning curve, too. Hmm, maybe a few more months to a year before it really comes into its own. Can't wait.
  • Current Mood
    blank blank
  • Tags
final fantasy

Buy 1 Gift 1

Amazon has an interesting sale today.

Give the gift of an Xbox LIVE Arcade game to a friend and get a little something for yourself! Today only, Monday, June 15, 2009, when you buy Puzzle Fighter HD, UNO, or Street Fighter II' HF, you'll not only get one Xbox LIVE code, but you'll receive a Amazon.com promo code that you can gift to a friend. That means you get your code today and then on Tuesday, June 16, you'll receive an email that you can forward to a friend allowing them to get the same game you bought, free. That means crazy multiplayer battles that you'll both be talking about for days to come. Supplies are limited for this promotion, so order yours before we run out! Limit one code purchase per household.

I've got the other 2, just need Street Fighter. Funny thing about that, though... I just got a new toy. Street Fighter II CE arcade cabinet. Pics to come later.

That said, I'd still probably be willing to split on it, or trade my extra Frogger code for it.
  • Current Mood
    busy busy
  • Tags
tf2, engie, engineer

8th and Ace and a Hat!

So I placed 8th in the Mega Challenge.... Over 15K increase in 30 days, and I was 12K from the lead. T4nd4r put up an impressive amount of points.

Since then, I've toned down my gaming for various reasons. I am burned out from crappy games and the pressure to 1K them. Also, there's been some other stuff to do. Anyway...

Mostly been playing Ace Combat 6, grinding the MP and I finally started through the SP on Easy. Decent game, MP is more fun than SP for sure. Impressive replays behind the score screen.

I've also been playing/idling TF2 on the PC. I finally got a hat! The Sniper's Trophy Hat. Not bad. The new stuff is great, I just want it all on the 360.

Speaking of 360. Next week, on the 17th - Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers on XBLA! All indications are that this was done right - up to 4 player free for all, or Two-headed Giant, plus the normal 1v1 and all that. The cards are all included, you just unlock by playing SP (if I recall correctly, the old DotP on PC was the same way). Of course, they'll add new sets/blocks via DLC. In any case, I expect to buy this day 1 and will want to play (RedneckNinja, D4nte, Yakumo, Hayama, anyone else?)

Which, if you didn't hear, Yakumo got a 360 and so can join us.