Sunday, 29 January 2012

Dark Ascension midnight pre-release survivor

I have survived another Magic: The Gathering (MTG) pre-release, and this one was with a better record than my last attempt at a pre-release (with Innistrad), where I did not win a single match. In the pre-release for Dark Ascension, I came out with a record of 2 wins and 2 losses.

This time around, FrankieG, SpecialK, and Jarvo joined me. Everyone, except Jarvo, had a great time. Jarvo did not like the competitive nature of the event - but then again, this game and this type of way of playing it is not for everyone. He will be now sticking to either casual playing, or not playing at all. I hope he keeps playing. Strangely enough, FrankieG, SpecialK, and Jarvo all had 1 win each - and it was their first event of this nature. I would have thought any win would have been a good outcome for the event.

The format of the Dark Ascension pre-release was a sealed format. People competing in the event get 3 booster packs of Innistrad, and 3 booster packs of Dark Ascension. I believe the intention of this is to make it a more even game, as Dark Ascension's pool is small, but I did not find this to be a problem.

My strategy for the evening was creating two decks. I had a red / green deck based on werewolves and getting them to transform, and a blue / white deck that had many creatures that had flying. Both decks also has a splash of black for creature removal - something which is important in this type of format. My strategy was to start with the werewolves deck (which appeared initially to be the stronger deck), and switch to the flying creatures deck if I was beaten in the first game of a match up by a significant amount. Both matches I lost were to red / black decks, and it was not by much.

Once again, the event was hosted by the team at Games Laboratory in their new store in the Galleria Centre, corner of Bourke Street and Elizabeth Street, in Melbourne. I can truly say I enjoyed myself, and I look forward to the upcoming products and the next releases of this game.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Websites on strike

As mentioned in a previous post I made on this blog, SOPA is being considered by the US government. Apparently it is being "shelved" for the moment. This has not stopped websites like or Wikipedia (English version) from depicting a SOPA'ed web site: on strike on strike
While both "strikes" from web sites can be bypassed with browser settings, they do show what the websites could look like if SOPA was enacted.

SOPA is censorship. It will allow companies that feel threatened from loss of profits to accuse international web sites of piracy, and be able to block them. Seeing how the government of the USA has in the past had a mentality of "shoot first, questions later" (eg. weapons of mass destruction in Iraq never eventuating), it would be feasible to consider that web sites and businesses will be shut down pending further investigations.

For more information, have a look at the latimes article for a more comprehensive list of sites that are trying to fight this new form of censorship. If you are in the USA, do something about it - sign up on the petition with Google.

And for Australia -

Everyone - do something (useful (now))!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Summernats in Canberra for another 25 years

Summernats is something that needs to be experienced at least once in your life if you are into cars / being a rev head. It is a festival centered around cars - mainly Australian and American V8 cars. It is one of the best known car festivals in Australia, and it generates interest and revenue in Canberra - a dull city for most parts of the year. It also brings in a somewhat drunken exhibitionist type of person to the city, but this is a small disadvantage of the festival.

The Canberra Times recently published an article about how Summernats could be hosted in Canberra for another 25 years. It is also interesting to read some of the shallow and narrow mindedness of some of the commenters, who claim to live around Canberra when Summernats is on. They have said they do not want Summernats in Canberra - "Too much bad behaviour. Not good for the environment. Bad, noisy, bad..."

As mentioned, Summernats, for all its bad points, actually gives Canberra something to look forward to for the year. I will admit there are some other festivals as well, like Floriade, but nothing is to the same scale as Summernats. If Canberrians do not like Summernats, then I suggest they move away from Canberra. Try Karumba - population < 1000, on the beach, but then again they would find something to complain about that. Stop making Canberra duller!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Air Jordan 11s - but not the Concords

The Air Jordan XIs Concords recently were released to a world wide frenzy amongst sneaker collectors. This article is not about them. This article is about the Air Jordan XI Retro Low shoe.
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The main similarity with this shoe and its original incarnation is the sole of the shoe. The tread design is the same, and it appears that components that make up the sole are the same. There is a big shank of carbon fiber, but instead of the clear or icy sole, it is a smokey sole. This, I believe, is an improvement over the original soles. After wearing the shoe, I have noticed no yellowing of the sole, whereas the Air Jordan XI Concords and Space Jams that I own are already showing yellowing - out of the box.

The upper of the shoe does not have any patent leather, and this is where I think this shoe has an improvement over the original. Instead of the shiny leather, it has ventilation panels, and on hot days, it is greatly welcomed. The shoe stays breezy and my feet do not feel overheated. In comparison, my feet sweat and overheat in the Pewter Foamposites - but that is expected, as it has no ventilation to allow for the memory foam that makes up in inner lining of the shoe to mold to the shape of the wearer's foot.

I find these shoes comfortable to wear, but they have deteriorated quickly. I am hoping this is only confined to the pair I have. The left shoe appears to have bad glue or not enough of it, as it appears that sole has broken away from the midsole in the middle of the shoe. The edges of the sole are fine. What this translates to is that the shoe now squeaks when I walk. I am not impressed with the "Quality Basketball Products Inspired by the Greatest Player Ever" that have been recently made. I would have expected that from a fake / knock-off shoe, but these were purchased from the Nike Factory Outlet in Smith Street, Collingwood, so I doubt that would be fakes.

If I am willing to overlook the fact that my left foot squeaks when I walk, and I do, I do find these shoes versatile and comfortable, but I would not choose to play sports in them. I believe that is the general consensus on the internet.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

First win in the MTG League at Games Laboratory

In what seemed to be a basic to medium tier level match up, I have finally won my first match in the Magic: The Gathering (MTG) League at the Games Laboratory. The reason I say it is a basic to medium tier level match up was due to the opponent I was playing was using the store's deck.

To be honest, the store's deck was not extremely well made. It was playing the same colour as I was using - a green and black deck, but it did not really have any combat tricks. All it was trying to do was essentially a brute force attack with creatures, with hardly any removal. There was some enchantments that slowed down my attacks, but the real tipping point was that, out of nowhere, a creature with the infect mechanic would be cast to attack me. One infect creature out of the entire deck that did not have infect - not a very well thought out deck, and it appeared to be just cobbled together by just opening some boosters. The only late game interesting card was Sorin's Vengence, but by the time it was played, I had already established my main creatures I wanted to attack with. There was also good use of the Dismember card.

I think the store deck is meant more for a confidence boost for players that are just figuring out the game and the format - much like me. I wouldn't mind playing it with my other deck, which is white and blue. Hopefully I will have a chance to win with that too. I did say to one of the other guys I do play in the League that I have learnt more from playing him than I have from playing any of my regular friends that do play - due to the fact that he is always trying to win as quickly as possible. I have beaten him in only one game (possibly out of the 5 times we have played). Hopefully luck will be on my side and I will be able to win some more games.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The counterpart to the "Exception" deck in MTG

Some time ago I wrote about the "Exception" deck in Magic: The Gathering (MTG) - being the War of Attrition event deck. I forgot to mention that event decks come in pairs, and this article is about the counterpart to it - the Rot From Within event deck. The decklist for the Rot From Within deck is available on-line.
Rot from Within event deckRot from Within event deckRot from Within event deckRot from Within event deck

I have not had much experience playing with this deck, as I do not really enjoy playing mono-green decks. I have always equated with green items like creatures with trample, creatures that produce mana, and tutors that fetch lands (to produce more mana). I do not mind having green in my decks, but not as the sole colour in them.

From memory, this deck is enjoyable to play due to the fact it does not damage the opponent or their creatures in normal ways, but deals its damage in the form of infect - dealing damage in poison counters to opponents or in -1/-1 counters to opponent's creatures. If any player has more than 10 poison counters, then they loose the game - regardless of life total. -1/-1 counters on creatures can accumulate on creatures between turns, and while you may not be able to dispose of a creature this turn, you may be able to damage or destroy a weakened version of it next turn. This deck lacks the main mechanic to accelerate the demise of an opponent - proliferate. With proliferate (it does appears on some of the cards in the deck) you can add additional counters onto cards you choose to - including poison counters on your opponents, -1/-1 counters on your opponent's creatures, +1/+1 counters on your creatures, loyalty counters on your planeswalkers, and, in general, counters you choose.

While powerful, I do not enjoy using those mechanics. Therefore, I have used this deck the least. My only suggestion to improve this deck is to incorporate black into it, and hence more creatures that also have the infect mechanic. Head to head against its counterpart deck, War of Attrition, I would put the War of Attrition deck in front, due to the fact it is a much faster deck, and has a lot of responses for this deck. They are roughly balanced in the end.

When it comes to enjoyment, I would prefer using the Innistrad event decks. I would put the Hold the Line deck ahead of all others in terms of speed and efficiency for a win, and the Deathfed deck being more fun to play. I hope my fellow card floppers see my views as valid in my comparisons on event decks.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Back into the grind for 2012

As 2012 starts up, I'm back at work, along with all my work colleagues and the interesting challenges still face me. Even though it is a new year, it still has not changed much to the type of work I am doing - which makes you think that the whole new year celebration, while fun, does not actually alter too much in the day to day lives of people.

In Australia, we do not end the financial (fiscal) year with end of the calendar year, but with the middle of the year. There is no "clean slate" feeling of coming into the new year. The only thing I do have to be concerned about is car registration, and the expectation of another mouth to feed soon. More news when that happens.

I hope you all have a happy, safe, and prosperous 2012. And hopefully my teams will start winning.