The first weekend of February was the pre-release of Born of the Gods. It was the first time with an official Two Headed Giant format for pre-release sealed. My brother and I went into Saturday night hoping to get some good games in. Last time, with the Theros Pre-release, we did pretty well. This time.. We, uh, failed.

So, the change in the format allows for two 6 pack pre-release boxes between the team. 2 Color-skewed packs, 4 Born of the Gods Packs, and 6 Theros Packs. Normally you’d only get 8 packs to build your deck with, and my brother and I thought that these packs would help smooth the process out. Sadly, this was not the case. Instead of helping it created a ton of tension – Every color and every combination was solid.

We took green and black: Both colors had almost thoroughly solid rares. Black removal and green ramp were going to be where it was at.  We had a solid pull, however: Gift of Immortality, Fated Retribution, Purphoros, Hammer of Purphoros, Spear of Heliod, Mogis, Karametra, Nessian Wilds Ravager (Promo) , Flame Wreathed Phoenix, Eater of Hope (Promo), Curse of Swine, Heroes Downfall, Archetype of Imagination: one more,  but I don’t remember it having a great impact on what happened.

Unfortunately, with all the colors being so filled out with the 12 packs, we had a hard time cutting any. I built a black/red fast deck, and my brother built a green/white/blue heroic deck. we had to cut a ton of really good cards, and I think it hurt us a lot that we didn’t drop one color, probably blue. We argued a bit about the cards we wanted in each deck. With each color so rich there was always going to be something good left out. It was really much harder to make a 12 pack deck than it was an 8 pack. Next time, we cut a color early.

our first set, against our friend Dan and his buddy from CA,  ended out pretty poorly because I couldn’t get a second swamp on board. with three sips of hemlock rotting in my hand because I had only the one black source, the new Hero of Leina Tower dropped on turn 2 got real big, real fast, and we had no hope of stopping it. The ordeals and Aura’s targeting it made it really bad. We had a chance here and there, if I’d have been able to either asphyxiate it or Sip of Hemlock it, but we just couldn’t get it in.

Next, we got the bye, which is sad. You come to places like this to get some games and and hang out. My brother and I got to play each other, though, and hang out, which was awesome. However, with the decks built as they are, mine just out-removaled his, and I won most of the matches we played: But he wasn’t built to actually take any decks on alone, so it made sense. I just happened to have the removal deck.

The last set we played was against our friends John and  Ben. Turns out, that not having two mountains is just as bad as not having two swamps. Ben ended up playing Mogis, and we just couldn’t keep up between the 4 damage a turn or sacrificing creatures to appease the god of Slaughter.

We didn’t win a single game, and that was really alright, because I got to hang out with my brother and a few friends, and I did make out with some seriously good Pulls: Mine were Hammer, Mogis, Karametra, Heroes Downfall, Gift of Immortality, and Fated Retribution. I should be able to either put them into commander decks, or trade them off for good stuff, and honestly,  I look forward to starting to draft again in March. 

Until then!

As with the other XCOM articles, this contains my experiences from the game so will contain spoilers
See part 1, part 2, part 3, , part 4, and part 5 in my XCOM: Enemy Within Discussion
This’ll be the last Post for my Classic-Normal Playthrough! You can look through the Best Of Screenshots I took from the whole campaign here!

This is where we fight.
This is where they die!

The end is here. I can taste it. I have plasma, MECS, and the Hyperwave Decoder. With the building of the Hyperwave decoder relay, I am now able to see what type of ship each UFO is, alongside what type and how many of the aliens are on board.My next mission is simple: Intercept and assault the Overseers Ship. Sadly, the Overseer’s ship is fairly anti-climactic. I’ve fought Sectopods and Muton Elites before, and nothing in this wreck scares me all to much. I would go so far as to say that I might have completely crushed out this mission.

It turns out that the overseer has The (an?) Ethereal Device on his ship. Vahlen has some interest in it, so take it home and she starts some tests on it. Turns out, its some sort of Mind-globe that needs a super-psionic solider to access it.We also have to build a specific room for the damned thing, so I start on that immediately. Unfortunately, I don’t have any psionically powerful soldiers with which to use the Gallop Chamber.
Matter of fact, I don’t even have a single Psionic solider. Probably should fix that. As I work up to it, thought, I get sent on a unique council mission to France.

The setup is simple: It is a re-skinned bomb disarm, but with a longer timer. My team is making it across a bridge that the aliens have damaged, all the while releasing water valves to stop the whole thing from collapsing. they give you a more than generous time limit, and each valve gives you 2 more turns.

I was never worried.

I am racing to find the “bomb,” in this instance a convoy truck with a secret weapon inside. Aliens keep beaming down to try and stop me, but they have no chance. Moving and overwatching forward every turn allows me to really put a cramp in their style.

The Yellow Circles are overwatch shots. Poor bastard.

I get to the end of the mission, and out from this container jumps this psychic warrior woman who tries to run, but we calm her down via threats to her life, and she agrees to come back to base with us: With XCOM, she’d get a chance to kill aliens.

I finally get the Psionic Labs done and start testing test her up, along with Undercover, who has the greatest Will stat in the army, and thus a high likelihood of having Psionic potential.

While they are both out of commission being tested for powers, another council mission pops up. Also in France. Annette Durrant, the rescuee from the last mission, has friends that the aliens got to first. Time to negotiate with the aliens for their release.

Once again, this is a moderately unique council mission we have to get to the ship as fast as possible, try and sneak in, and get the hostages out. Of course it never works that simple, and the aliens set up the ships self destruct. We have only turns to plow our way through the ship and set the prisoners free. Thankfully, our troops are up for the task and we bring the three friends home. The Three furies: Alecto, Magaera, and Tisiphone are the trapped soldiers. They voulenteer to assist in the XCOM project now that I’ve freed them. I betcha, if I test them, they’ll all be psionically adept, and they don’t fail me. All three tested positive for psionic abilities once they were ready. Durrant and even Undercover both ended up being gifted as well, and I now havr five squad members who were gifted. I need to get at least one of them up to max psionic level and wearing a psi-armor outfit in order to activate the Gallop Chamber. It worries me, taking them out on missions this close to the end. high level soldiers are valuable, but I have to get them trained up and ready to fight the alien ship that I know is coming afterward. I am careful in my missions and make sure that each one it taken slowly and methodically. I risk no one, but I still have to reload a couple times in order to get the team I want to take to the end game ready.

I am finally ready to use the Gallop Chamber. I send in Durrant, because she really, really wants to kill aliens.

Annette Accesses the Ethereal Device

A ship appears, in her mind.

and a Uber Ethereal shows himself.

It is time.
The Temple Ship awaits.

This is one of the parts of the game that makes me kinda sad. The Temple ship is a really cool fight. Sadly, though, its a set piece fight that does not change from playthrough to play through. While it was fun, it was less than challenging.

I grabbed my Greatest Team: Durrant, Big Red, Grinder, Bullet, Jaws and Undercover. Undercover and Durrant both have Mind Control. This one is going to be a good day.

2013-12-29_00187

We get to the Temple ship, and I know its going to follow a very specific template. I am going to go straight through the ship while the Uber Ethereal tests me, summoning each different type of alien in turn. The first a Sectoids. They prove just about as problematic as you would expect them to, given the tech level I’d achieved. After them, a pair of cyberdisks with drones to repair them. They, too, drop like flies to Bullet, Big Red, and Grinder.

With each new alien species summoned, the Uber Ethereal tells me why they didn’t pass the tests that I seem to have. Secotids are cowards, Cyberdisks have no emotions. Floaters, who’s bodies failed to evolve enough, are next. They, too, are eliminated. As soon as I drop the last one, Cryssalids are summoned. Turns out they are completely incapable of being commaned, but they made damned good weapons. All three are easily overcome. A trio of Thin Men block my way for only a brief moment. Turns out that Thin Men just cannot have psionics. Interesting. Mutons are in the next room. Three Standard and a Beserker. This one takes some brief finagling, including the discovery that a standard grenade will set off a proximity mine. Resulting in 13 instant damage. Pretty useful to take away from this. The Mutons are incapable of independence, and are therefore also failures to the Uber Ethereal.

The next room is where the game has broken down for me completely. The first go round in Enemy Unknown, I stumbled into the two Sectopods. Since then, it has not happened. Its a unique shaped room that is easy to see coming. This run I have three stealth soldiers. Bullet, Undercover and Durrant all set up. Jaws, Grinder and Big Red Prepare to move forward to lay unrelenting fire upon them. Unfortunatly, I guessed wrong as to where Grinder could go, and I alerted the Sectopods to my position. One fires its beam cannon,thankfully missing Big Red, and the other wanders out of sight of the top platform.
2014-01-27_00017

My turn comes and I Fire everthing I have from Grinder and Big Red into the one I can see. Its just not enough, so I have to send Jaws in. One down. The the squad on the lower level, the hidden ones, turn their attention to the remaining enemy. While they aren’t able to scrap it, they come close. I was moderately worried here, because Durrant, the Chosen One, was standing next to the Sectopod. Thankfully, it used its cluster-bomb ability on Undercover and Bullet. This bought me a turn to run out of the area of effect before I got hammered. The Secotopod never had a chance.

2014-01-27_00045

At the end of the room with the Sectopods was a trio of Muton Elites. I took control of one, and killed the other two.
Again, we get to a position that is uniquely identifiable, and I set my squad up to end the game. With the Uber Ethereal lined to be lined in my sites shortly, I send in the ghost units.

2014-01-27_00054
Unfortunately, again, I screw up, and they detect on of the soldiers. The Ethereal moves before I can draw a bead on it. This’ll be the first time I actually fight the aliens in this room. 3 Muton Elites, 2 Ethereals and the Uber Ethereal. Fortunatly, I have a Muton of my own! I take control of another Muton Elite to balance the equation, and after a quick firefight, most of the enemies are down.

And that is when I realized I had a chance to do something awesome. I started running, with a bit of caution, Grinder towards the Uber Ethereal. Undercover gets mind controlled, but she can’t do enough damage in the time it takes me to free her – by killing the normal Ethereal in control of her – to change my plan. I sweep the rest of the room, putting down both standard Ethereals. Sadly, Jaws gets exploded towards the end, but thanks to her second heart, stays alive. I have only the Uber Ethereal left to kill.

Grinders got this.
I pop a few shots into him to soften him up for the inevitable end he’s going to meet: A giant Mecha-fist to the face.
2014-01-27_00109

After that, its all over but the Exploding. I get everyone back to base and take a look at my final scores.

Well, that is it for my play through of Classic-Normal. I really enjoyed the new aspects of the game. The new enemies were challenging, but not overpowering, and the missions were a welcome break from the same ones employed in the first. I think I am finally ready for the Ironman run. I know its not going to be easy, but I am going to try it out!

The Theros prerelease was this weekend, and I had a blast!

I really enjoy the sealed events of prerelease days. The sealed environment gives you access to all the flavor and mechanics of the new set, without having to commit a ton of memory for drafting or standard. Allowing you, in a casual atmosphere, to build a deck that is generally pretty good and can stand on its own with a little good play. It also gives you the thrill of opening a pile of packs and hoping for good stuff. Which I never got.

Ah well! It was still a fun time. I ended up at the local store right about 11:00 for the midnight event, and hung outside with some of the standard crowd before heading in to get going. I met my brother and a pair of friends there, and it was setting out to be good times. I signed up for the blue set, as it seemed the strongest, according to that one article I was able to read before heading out. It seemed pretty reasonable. A fatty 6/6 with a trigger to get it to 10/10 and tap down four creatures looks pretty good. The review also pointed out that blue had a stable of good cards, including uncharacteristic fattys in Shipbreaker Kraken, Bethnic Giant, and Precient Chimera. Appearances can be deceiving, but I was not deceived. Blue crushed the game out for me in the first round, dropped the second to a mirror after changing pair colors, and then picked up again on the final. I started out with a U/R deck in the first go, having Rage of Porphoros, Magma Jet, and Lightning strike, but a few anemic bodies and a couple larger ones, with blue rounding out in the fatty and flying department. My friends convinced me to run the green, but its against my nature, I wasn’t able to cast the spells I wanted, and waiting around for my giant green creatures did me in in the second round.

Speaking of the second round. My opponent was fantastic with his B/U deck. Flyers and removal, with 3 Pharika’s Cure, 2 Lash the whip, and a pile of Stymied Hopes and Dissolves. The Nessian Lion took one game over for me, paired with a Feral Invocation and monstrous to make him 6/6 hexproof and indestructible. I out raced the unblocked Prognostic Sphinx to just edge him out in the second. The third was less entertaining, as he dropped the Sphinx again and took me to town without so much as a whimper.

The Kraken was exactly as advertised, and every time I resolved him on the field, I ended up taking the game. He’s a bad ass in limited, and I expect to get beat by him every draft.

The best part of the prerelease weekend, though, was the Two Headed Giant that my brother and I entered as The Brothers Grim. We went in thinking to get some heroic work done, and appropriately chose green and white: the colors with the most heroic. We opened almost no heroic creatures, and even less triggers though. Instead we went with a, to me, clever strategy. He took all the ramp and fatties in a big, stompy, rampy, W/G deck. Two Anthousa, Vulpine Goliath, Arbor Colossus, Ashen Rider, the works. I took all of the removal, and a ton of B/R weenies. I was just there to clog the field, chump block, and clear the path. We took two of three, again, and ended with a positive record, which was good enough for us. The first game was the one we dropped. It took us long enough to put the decks together that we didn’t have a whole lot of time to shuffle, and with only one game, a lot was hanging on this one opening hand. My brother’s was a little light on mana, but we figured we’d be OK with his pair of rampy creatures. We could have been, as he ended the game with only four on the table, but his three mana producers in the graveyard. The first one we lost to a combat trick, and the others we lost to an ill thought out Anger of the Gods. The next two we took to town against a pair of kids, and a new girl and her boy. But, we emerged victorious, and that’s what counted. We each got a pair of packs, and I got to have a blast with my brother. I look forward to doing the Chosen of the Gods Prerelease in a few months time, and maybe getting a draft or two in in the meantime. Who knows, with a baby on the way!

The Sanctuary faction in Heroes 6 is pretty cool. I will say I was initially all bad mouth on the Sanctuary models, but after using them, I’m really fond of them. Sharks-at-Arms, Naga, Medusa, Water and snow spirits, and Frogmen? The Champion creature, each factions biggest and baddest, is the Kirin, which looks neat, has a huge hit pool, and comes out very fast.

It is much better than Haven, and almost on par with Necropolis in terms of fun factor. The elite naga troopers are pretty terrible which makes me sad though. The big problem is that they are on par with the Haven’s griffon troopers in terms of durability and damage output: which is to say both of them are 0. It is a huge disappointment for both of tthe units, as they are fantastic looking troopers. The upgraded Kenshi/Kensi is a four armed, katana wielding snake man! What is cooler than that? And Haven’s only Non-Humanoid creature is the Griffon, who leaps into the air and diving-assaults people! But both are extremely weak defensively, to the point where core units can break them apart, and their damage output against other elites just isn’t there either. Both have been relegated to the sidelines unless I could stack an enormous amount of them.

Also, My favorite unit, Coral Priestesses, get the hell shelled out of them by the opponent, causing me no end of grief. I only have one or two ranged units, and having one of them burned out by the opponent as fast as possible has been really frustrating.

I’ve made it to map 4, and I’m about to tear Gerharts heart out of his chest, which, for me, is just about as awesome as it gets. I also got to toy around with the Stronghold faction, in the last map, and that got me really pumped to play them.

A Couple Mid-game Observations

Extra Heroes seem redundant unless you need to transport armies. The Enemy armies are just to large for you to be splitting your troops

Chain Lightning seems like a game breaker, but It could just be a factor to try and get the area cleared better and easier.

Water as a spell school is terrible. Air is Amazing.

There are tons of ways to increase your Magic Power stat, but very few to raise you’re Might Power.

There is no good online Resource. Maybe I’ll make one.

Also, on Sunday I traded my perfectly fine, painted bane thralls for unpainted unassembled ones. This’ll be the 3rd time I have done this. I hope this one turns out as successful as the first two.

Last night I got to draft M:14. This was enjoyable because I ended up with slivers, again. This is not uncommon for me, but seems to be hard for others to do.

Its a deck that I really like, and once you see it start to pull together can be really satisfying. Grabbing the Galerider sliver first, and much later a Door of Destines really helped the deck out. And once I started cutting people out, I saw the blur sliver, the Hive Stirrings, and the Sliver Construct all table.
I was confident, but I knew things could get in my way.

Through late first pack and most of pack two, though, I was convinced that I wasn’t going to make it function. I’d started doing blue/green for a minute, and even ended up with a serra angel later on. Now I was probably doing green-white, and the green was astoundingly good coming through. Then the green dropped off, and I was left with some good Red.
I was going Naya no matter what, and it just happened that slivers came around pack 3 and made the deck into what I felt would be decent.

It was something like this:

Creatures:
Galerider Sliver
Striking Sliver
Sentinal Sliver
Manaweft Sliver
Predatory Sliver x2
Blur Sliver
Serra Angle

Spells
Lay of the Land x2
Hive Stirrings x3
Verdant Haven
Hunt the Weak x2
Chandra’s outrage
Lava axe x3

Artifacts
Door of Destinies
Sliver Construct x2

I was all set to play some games! it was going to be nothing but slivers and face-beats!
However, we had a 9 man pod of players, and I end up with a first round bye. I’m not a fan of them, even though they come with a win, and it can be really disappointing to not be able to play.
So, I went got a soda, and came back to play some more.
Round 2 I get paired up against the guy who walked in late, giving me a bye, and making us even numbers.
I give him some crap about it, and we carry on. I take him down with some very aggressive draws 2-0, though his mill deck takes out most of my good stuff fairly quick. At this point, I take in the tournament standings, and there are only 2 people who are undefeated. The protocol in MTG is to draw the last round if no one can catch you. Each player ends up splitting the prizes equally instead of one of the players risking being bumped to 3rd. So, the two of us Draw, and we take 1’st and 2nd.
I’ll just go here and say I got 2nd, because really, I can’t fathom that I would come in first after playing only two games and one match.

it boggles my poor mind. I picked up 7 packs, and I stored them for when Theros comes out, and was glad to do so, as the current set of cards just aren’t my cup of tea.

I don’t know about you, but getting second after all that feels just a little more bad than it should.

-Tio

Galerider sliver from James Zapata @ http://jameszapata.deviantart.com/art

Last night I got to draft M:14. This was enjoyable because I ended up with slivers, again. This is not uncommon for me, but seems to be hard for others to do.

Its a deck that I really like, and once you see it start to pull together can be really satisfying. Grabbing the Galerider sliver first, and much later a Door of Destines really helped the deck out. And once I started cutting people out, I saw the blur sliver, the Hive Stirrings, and the Sliver Construct all table.
I was confident, but I knew things could get in my way.

Through late first pack and most of pack two, though, I was convinced that I wasn’t going to make it function. I’d started doing blue/green for a minute, and even ended up with a serra angel later on. Now I was probably doing green-white, and the green was astoundingly good coming through. Then the green dropped off, and I was left with some good Red.
I was going Naya no matter what, and it just happened that slivers came around pack 3 and made the deck into what I felt would be decent.

It was something like this:

Creatures:
Galerider Sliver
Striking Sliver
Sentinal Sliver
Manaweft Sliver
Predatory Sliver x2
Blur Sliver
Serra Angle

Spells
Lay of the Land x2
Hive Stirrings x3
Verdant Haven
Hunt the Weak x2
Chandra’s outrage
Lava axe x3

Artifacts
Door of Destinies
Sliver Construct x2

I was all set to play some games! it was going to be nothing but slivers and face-beats!
However, we had a 9 man pod of players, and I end up with a first round bye. I’m not a fan of them, even though they come with a win, and it can be really disappointing to not be able to play.
So, I went got a soda, and came back to play some more.
Round 2 I get paired up against the guy who walked in late, giving me a bye, and making us even numbers.
I give him some crap about it, and we carry on. I take him down with some very aggressive draws 2-0, though his mill deck takes out most of my good stuff fairly quick. At this point, I take in the tournament standings, and there are only 2 people who are undefeated. The protocol in MTG is to draw the last round if no one can catch you. Each player ends up splitting the prizes equally instead of one of the players risking being bumped to 3rd. So, the two of us Draw, and we take 1’st and 2nd.
I’ll just go here and say I got 2nd, because really, I can’t fathom that I would come in first after playing only two games and one match.

it boggles my poor mind. I picked up 7 packs, and I stored them for when Theros comes out, and was glad to do so, as the current set of cards just aren’t my cup of tea.

I don’t know about you, but getting second after all that feels just a little more bad than it should.

-Tio

Galerider sliver from James Zapata @ http://jameszapata.deviantart.com/art

Its been a quiet couple days, at least for Nerding.

It took me three more days to beat Haven in Heroes VI. It was a grinding and brutal affair that forced me to restart the map at least three times before I got the hang of it and took the map. It wasn’t easy. There is a group above ground and a group below ground that you have to defeat. Each group had its own way to come at me from angles that I couldn’t stop, and it forced me to make a very difficult decision: sacrifice the upper world. I went underground, and took the whole map down there, while there was only one way in and one way out. I left every town and fort above ground abandoned, and they were all eventually captured. However, the sacrifice allowed me to gain enough ground, and create an unassailable underground base from which to strike. I eventually took back everything I had lost above ground, which allowed enough production to assault and destroy the final boss. I was pleased with the overall decision. Haven was a grind, and I am glad its behind me. Now I’ll grab on to sanctuary.
Reminds me that I didn’t go over the Necropolis Campaign. I should get to that.

Thursday was football night for my poor Ravens. What a shellacking. Well, that’s what the 5th Preseason game is for.

More spoilers for Theros popped up, and its looking better and better. Its hard not to appeal to a person what loves Greek mythology, though. Augers, Oracles, Minotaurs, Gorgons and Hydras: Whats not to like!

Malifaux 2e Beta Test Part 2 can’t come fast enough. I’ve a great desire to see what Abuela, the Pistoleros, and the Pale Rider all can do in this new edition. I also want some more options to play, looking at Zorida and McMourning. Zorida as a theme I liked back in 1.5, and McMourning as a model that can run a pretty neat guild grew.

Finally, I got my Croak Hunter from Sweden! He came with some delicious candy, as well. Maybe I’ll get back to painting here shortly, It’d be a nice break. Its so nice outside, too. Good time to primer some models while the humidity is about 0%. Speaking of which…

I’m gonna prime some models, and then get some Warmachine games in. I’ll probably deconstruct them tomorrow.

-Tio

The majority of the evening last night was spent Futzing around on various forums, solving a few puzzles of my own. Now that its done, though, there should be more time to nerd. A number of things popped up, that due to the way time flows linearly, I’ve not gotten to yet. I’ll address them soon enough, but here’s the short list.

Continue reading

NOVA is upon us!
And it can only be a good thing!

The NOVA open is a Convention in Washington DC (NOthern VirginA) that draws a pretty large crowd. I’ve been PGing there for Privateer Press for the last two years, this being my third. I’ll be judging Tournaments, running Iron Arena, and generally working my ass of for two days. My buddies Brian and Brendan will be there way earlier than I will, arriving on Thursday morning. I’ll be heading out of work early to get there around 5, and run the first of my tournaments – I don’t honestly know what it is I’ll be running, but damn it, I’ve got my bag packed and ready to rock. 50 Objective markers, 50 flags, 16 circular scenarios, 16 rectangular, and more scenario sheets than you can shake a book at.

I’ll also be judging Hardcore, Masters, and anything else being run.

Its always awesome to see the Masters Tournaments. But sometimes it can be a bit disheartening to know that people you know well and root for to win the thing will drop after being beat. I’ve really been wondering if a single elimination style tournament would be better overall. There can be only one!

In addition to what I run, and what the Pressgangers are going to go out and do, there are a HOST of other activities: MTG tournaments, Painting and Hobby Seminars, Warhammer 40k and Fantasy tournaments, a Vendor hall. I almost forgot my Infinity buddies! They will be running tournaments to! SO MUCH TO DO!

Its all pretty damned impressive for a convention that is only 5 years old.

It is a bittersweet time for me, however. Its the last convention I am going to be able to run or even go to for a while, because my wife will be giving birth to our daughter in October. Normally I also travel out and do both the Warstore Weekend and the Colonial, but this year, it looks like its gonna be out of bounds. It happens! I’ll be using it to get caught up in painting.

As I was Putting this all together it looks like I’m just shilling a product, but its just happenstance that this is what is coming up when this starts. You’ll see!

If you have Any comments, write em, I’ll read.
Also, Help me define a style. This is so.. Bland, but I’ve yet to make it my own. Color changes, modifications, whatever!

Now, off to the Adventures of Jerek of Jord!

-Tio