Games I beat in 2017 #11: Kamiko

When I reserved my Nintendo Switch I reserved Breath of the Wild. I tried, but I hated that game. Blaster Master Zero made me feel like the system wasn't a waste. Kamiko made me excited for more things to come.

Kamiko doesn't use any of the Switch’s “unique features” but that doesn't matter. It is a short, Zelda-inspired action game with three different characters to choose from. One has a sword and shield. One has a bow and arrow. The third has a boomerang-thing and a dagger she can stab with while waiting for the boomerang to return.

So, pretty Zelda-like. There are keys and mystic orbs (balls) that you have to carry to certain points. If you get hit while doing so, the item will crash to the ground and disappear. Whoops. Time to go back.

The game definitely feels like it has speedrunning in mind. There's an option to display your game time on-screen. There's a trick with enemy spawns, too. By leaving one enemy from a group alive, the group won't respawn when you run back through that area. (They would if you had taken out the entire group.)

I’m not going to go down that path - I am horrendous at action games. But it’s a short enough game that I can see people starting to speedrun it. The three different characters do make the game feel a bit different, which was nice. I ended up playing it to completion three times.

My one complaint is that I either missed or they don't tell you that there’s a charge attack available. Hold down attack and you'll use some of your gems to do a more powerful attack. The (spoiler!) final form of the final boss can only take damage from these attacks. So this confused me on how to exactly beat it until I looked up a video.

Oh, I didn't mention those gems much. To complete each stage you need to “purify” four shrines. To do so you need to have enough gems, something that all enemies drop, to do so. So there is a balance here. Kill enough enemies to get the gems you need and make sure paths are clear enough so you can backtrack with a key or orb. An interesting little balance if you want to play fast.

As a sub ¥1000 game, Kamiko delivered value well above its price tag. I can't see myself going back to it, but I’m glad I played it.

Games I beat in 2017 #10: Helen’s Mysterious Castle

Ah, RPG Maker. How you tease me. Since I can code, I feel like RPG Maker is cheating. Then again, what is the point of reinventing the wheel. People have made pretty successful games with these “Maker” engines, and on top of that, people have released games. Something I've yet to do with my “”dream”” game of an RPG. So I always approach these games with a bit of jealousy. Why haven't I done it yet? And that clouds my experience. But it’s all in my head.

Helen’s Mysterious Castle was fun. It’s battle system is one-on-one. Your character versus the enemy. But each move, be it an attack, defense, or magical spell, has a time. And the same with all enemy moves. Making sure the timing is right so you take little damage and deal lots is important. Learning how the enemies will respond to the actions you take is important. It feels a little rock-paper-scissors in ways, but is much more complex. You can mess with some enemy AI, but I said some and maybe it’s all but I just couldn't figure it out. And that was part of the fun.

You control Helen a mute girl who can't even read, and go fight monsters. The plot develops in an interesting way. I’m not sure if I would say I “saw the twists coming” nor that they shocked me, but it wasn't bad. Care was taken to keep the necessary backtracking in the game to a small amount of annoyance. Plenty of pathways back to your main hub abounded. It gave the world of the game an intertwined feeling that made it all feel larger than it probably was.

Helen gains experience but it isn't used for her. Instead you use it to upgrade her weapons, shields and spells . At first this makes experience points feel like a tight resource, but by the end of the game they were abundant. This did make for an interesting mid-game because healing spells lose a level if Helen uses them outside of battle. An interesting little twist that made me watch my HP and try to heal during battle if it would benefit me.

Helen’s Mysterious Castle isn't exactly a long RPG, but its length is quite right. It felt challenging, but hardly ever too challenging. It was a fun little romp that I’ll probably never play again, but I’m glad I did.

Games I beat in 2017 #9: Thimbleweed Park

As the years go by I find “looking forward” to something a bit… depressing. Because then it comes and goes and then what? I’m looking forward to something else. But I could not help but look forward to the release of Thimbelweed Park. I mean, it’s the folk behind Maniac Mansion.

That game was a huge chunk of my childhood. Even having completed it several times, I would still just boot it up and just mess around with what you could do in the game. Which makes it funny that I'm such a non-fan of open world games these days. I suppose it’s the limitations of these older games that made it enticing. It was seeing what you can do instead of what you can’t. When there are so many options as in the big open world games of today, what you can do is huge. What you can't is much smaller. Somehow this makes what you can’t do stick out much more and is more jarring.

Plus, Maniac Mansion only had so many verbs.

Anyway, Thimbleweed Park. I sure liked it. Played it twice, back to back. Completed both difficulty modes. I like how the easier mode streamlined the game and just let you get through it. The harder mode felt a bit more old-school. I had to look everywhere for things and make sure I missed nothing. That's not to say I didn't peek at some hints here and there when I was a little stuck. But I didn't feel too stuck that often.

Which is nice. Last year I played through some older adventure games and just kept a guide open that I referred to whenever a puzzle began to annoy me. Of course, there were no guides to this game upon release, so I had to work a bit harder, but I never really felt like I was missing stuff.

Except for one time. There’s a bathroom you access from outside of the convenience store, but there’s something one of the main characters said that made me think you couldn’t go in the bathroom. You could, and that was part of the solution, so I think tweaking that line of dialogue might have made things a bit better. Since there was no obvious door, just a sign, my misreading of that line led me to walking past the solution for quite some time. I figured it out, though.

Other than that the game went smoothly and I enjoyed it. It had just the atmosphere I wanted. It had humor, it was a bit Twin Peaks-y in a good way. If you think a little too hard, it doesn't make sense that the five main characters would be swapping items between themselves since they hardly have lines of dialogue together, but that gameplay mechanic trumps the flavor.

The game (spoiler!) gets a little meta at the end, but I tend to like that. There was one moment that literally made me jump - and I even knew it was coming. But it was a lovely homage.

I doubt Thimbleweed Park will bring back the adventure genre. It’s (spoiler!) clearly not designed for a sequel, but I sure hope the people behind it get a chance to make some more games. I’m itching for them.

Games I beat in 2017: #8 Blaster Master Zero

I don't think I ever completed the original Blaster Master. I knew that even numbered bosses could be taken out by dropping a bomb and pausing. Thanks whatever Tips ’n Tricks book I got that out of. But the North American release had limited continues, and I could never make it far enough without dying the limited number of times. Apparently the original Japanese version did not have this restriction. My guess is that it had something to do with renting laws differing between Japan and America.

Anyway, on to the new.

Zero is a nice remake. It feels like the original but adds some new things. There is a refilling energy bar that is used for the sub-weapons, so no worrying about picking up the right items or any of that. There are a lot more sub-weapons than the original, and Jason himself even gets a variety of bombs to use.

There are a lot more bosses and sub-bosses, even (Well, this is a spoiler.) bosses fought while riding around in the tank. Yup. That caught me off guard. But it was a nice addition and fun to play.

Save-points have also been added, so the stress of keeping enough lives and continues to finish the game is gone. That works for me now. I’d argue that Jason’s final gun upgrade is too strong, and since there’s an optional item that prevents the first damage Jason takes from knocking down his gun upgrades, as long as you can dodge pretty well you can keep the powerful gun.

It wasn't as hard as the original, but it wasn't too easy. There’s a lot more story in-game this time, but it's nothing to go crazy over. It wasn't so much that it bothered me, though. All in all nice game to enjoy on the Switch.

Goodbye, Magikarp

Goodbye, Magikarp

This was a quick flirtation with an app.

I had seen pictures of Pokémon: Magikarp Jump on Twitter. Mostly it was silly puns, but they made me laugh. Who’d make a game about Magikarp, I thought. I wondered how long until it would be pulled down.

But The Pokémon Company made it.

That’s pretty awesome. It’s adorable and poking fun at part of Pokémon. Of course, it's a… Honestly, I am so out of the gaming world right now that I don't know if there is a term for this kind of game. Freemium? Puzzle-and-Dragons-esque? You know the type. You can only do so much so often. And that’s the game. Sure, make a pathetic Pokémon jumping competition, add in decorations for your “pond”, a couple different kinds of currency, levels to level-up and you've got a game.

It wastes time. It’s cute.

I deleted it.

It’s fine. It really is. But wasting time what I want to be doing? There is a part of me that feels like I have to stay “in” with the gaming world, but another, aging I assume, part of me just doesn't care. I suppose a few hours lost to a little game isn't the worst thing I have done. Playing another game is no different. Except for how I feel in the end.

And perhaps that is worth caring about.

Sorry, Magikarp.

Games I beat in 2017: #7 Lifeline

When the Apple Watch released I heard about a game you could “play” on it, by responding to text messages. My good buddy Alex messaged me a while back and asked me if I played Lifeline. I hadn't and he wanted someone to talk about the game with. I said I was holding off on making frivolous purchases, but heh was kind enough to gift me a copy. So I played it.

The watch idea was cute enough, but it ended up being a little too much scrolling at times. Playing in the app was easier. I guess that was the destiny of the Apple Watch. Only to succeed where things are easier. And some things are easier. But not playing Lifeline.

The gimmick enough wouldn't have made it worth playing, but it has a neat story. You assist Taylor as they (their gender status is never mentioned, so use your) try to survive after their spacecraft crashes onto a planet.

It's a bunch of simple branches. You choose one of two options and the story plays out. Not everything is good advice, and you might end up killing Taylor by giving some poor advice. It can be a bit frustrating when you there are two choices, neither of which you deem appropriate. I didn't feel like being snarky to this poor lost person. But sometimes it was either snark or pushing them in a direction I didn't like either, so it could be hard to choose.

But choose I did, and Taylor only died once in my adventure. At this point I was able to “rewind” to any spot and disable the “real-time” waiting.

Oh yeah, so I suppose that’s another gimmick. It's “real-time” in that if Taylor says they are going to walk for an hour, it'll be an hour before you hear back. Which is interesting. It takes some pressure off of the game and you go and check the status like you'd keep off and on touch with a friend throughout the workday. Only this friend is stranded on a planet.

Of course it gets a little wonky when there is a split second decision to be made and you ignore Taylor for a day or two. But it's a game and the designers put gameplay above realism, so Taylor will wait, no matter how important the choice will be.

There’s a sequel, Silent Night which I picked up because I enjoyed the first one well enough. So that's my praise for the game. It’s a neat story told in a neat way.

2017.05.13

Finished watching Riverdale. It was... Frustrating. I know teenagers are annoying at times. That made it hard to watch. Perhaps it was remembering doing stupid things myself. Perhaps it was the show being a bit corny from time to time. But, hey. Give me a decent mystery and I'm there.

Comparisions to Twin Peaks could be made. I got that vibe. I have no love for the comics this is based off of. Just the passing cultural knowledge. But it sure did a few good cliffhangers. I don't regret watching it, even if I had to turn the volume down for some of the singing segments. I still get embarrassed for others. Weird how that happens.

The Fiesta is fast approaching. I'm getting ready. I'll never not be nervous, though. I want people to enjoy this event. They seem to quite like it. You never want to let your fans down. Ha. I have fans. That's hard to believe. But everyone enjoying the Fiesta is what really makes it. I just write some code and run some MYSQL. But we all have fun. And that's a nice thing.

Games I beat in 2017: #6 Final Fantasy Mystic Quest

Games I beat in 2017: #6 Final Fantasy Mystic Quest

There was a twelve hour challenge two months back. It's an interesting idea. Spend twelve hours learning how to speedrun a game. I decided to participate, but I couldn't do a solid 12-hour chunk, nor could I do it around the time. Who cares. I decided to spend twelve hours learning the Final Fantasy Mystic Quest speed run. And I got it. Not a ""respectable"" time, but I finished it and had some fun replaying a game I claim to like a lot.

And I still like it a lot.

There are a few bugs in the game, mostly doing with under and overflows because you can buy 0 of an item in a shop. A simple miss on the part of the programmers, but with this someone figured out that allows you to bypass a chunk of the game.

It’s these sort of things that remind me how human the “mythical beings" behind making games are. It reminds me to lower my own standards a little bit. Mistakes may be there, and they may just let people enjoy the game in a different way!

Goodbye, Marvel Unlimited

Canceled my subscription to Marvel Unlimited. It was a neat service, but I don't have the time and should not be spending the money right now.

Marvel’s site fucking sucks. For whatever reason it was loading slow as hell during the whole process. To cancel your account you have to first say why, then on a separate (also slow) page enter your password to confirm.

I didn't have a password.

Even though I use a password manager, I just used their option for signing in via Google. I'm not up to date on whether that is a problem, but it's what I did a year ago.

So you don't have a password. I set one in the account, log out and try to sign in. It rejects my information. I submit a password request and they let me know my account name. Which wasn’t my email address. Why do places still do this?

By the way, I wrote this whole thing while the pages were loading to perform my cancellation. I have no idea why Marvel’s site is so slow. Japan, maybe? I could browse other sites fine and download stuff while Marvel just chugged along.

2017.05.07

People chang9ing plans on me at the last minute bugs me more than it probably should. I suppose I just like having things decided and the sudden "freedom" throws me in a spin. I like planning things out.

I suppose I made the best of the day. Grabbed lunch with a friend. Took the train so I got to play some games. Played Kamiko on the Switch. I've completed the game three times now, once with each character. Pretty fun. I could see this being a game people like speed running. Not sure if I could do it. Action's not really my thing.

Booted up Zelda. Was stuck on a dungeon. Still not a fan of this game. Not sure why I keep trying and don't just sell it while the buyback price is good. Stubborness, I suppose.

I did have my 3DS with me as well, which I suppose is excessive. Played a bit of the first Mega Man game for the Gameboy. Surprisingly hard. I abused the savestates. No shame. I'd rather redo a part time and time again until I get it right with a bit of leeway. Hey, the technology is there.

And that's Golden Week. We are done. Now it's time for the long stretch of no days off and students slowly dreaming of Summer Vacation and not wanting to be in school. Probably the toughest time of the year. I've done it nine times before, though. It'll get done.

2017.05.06

Went to get ramen with a group of Magic players. I feel extra sleepy now.

I went to two tournaments today. Don't feel like I did that well. First was an eight person Grand Prix Trial. Limited. Six packs. I hardly got any creatures. Any two color combination gave me twelve or thirteen characters and not the best spells. So three colors it was. I tried to balance the best I could, but I got screwed hard. I did at least take round one so I got three extra prize packs. Woo.

Then I got me some lunch (delicious curry) and headed off to another tournament. Lots of driving. Lots of podcast listening. I think it clears my head.

I made some tweaks to my deck from FNM but it just wasn't working. Well, I had some mana screw as well. Just some bad hands that I figured could curve all right if I hit a land drop. And the chances should be good! But they weren't. Perhaps mulligans are something I need to work on. Or maybe it's just time for a different deck.

Super sleepy. Ramen is salty and salty sleep is beckoning me.

Random thoughts for 2017.05.05

Golden Week has ended. Well, not really, but the extra days off are over with. I am glad that I get them and that my job doesn't hve any "emergency" situations that would make me lose my vacation days. Godd stuff.

Sadly, I haven't been feeling that well. Spent most of the days in bed, feeling awful. Although I did get up enough energy to take the boy bowling. He even threw the ball on his own this time. As opposed to using the ramp-thing that they have for kids.

Even though I haven't been feeling "well" I don't think I'm sick. I have a hunch it's exhaustion from everything going on lately. So I made my way out to Friday Night Magic.

The banning of Felidar Guardian meant I needed a new deck. And that I was playing something I was unexperienced with. Well, I took white out of Four Color Saheeli, put in 4 Glorybringer, two more mana dorks in the form of Channeler Initiate. Fiddled with the mana a little bit.

It went okay. I lost to Sultai Control which just had answers for everything and then was recurring any Torrential Gearhulk I destroyed. I beat a black deck that was trying to use delirium. Then I lost 1-2 to a Red-White deck that was just playing a bunch of good stuff. I scryed with the new Nissa a few good times but couldn't find anything to close out the game. So I lost. Oh well. It happens.

The deck feels interesting and using Saheeli Rai to copy a Glorybringer is gross. Plus, her scry along with Nissa can lead to some interesting interactions. The deck just needs something else other than Whirler Virtuoso and Rogue Refiner. There might not be anything else though. Perhaps it is time to look elsewhere. It was an interesting night, at least.

Then I drove home. I drove the speed limit. This pissed off two cars who sped past me at a red light, running it. Thankfully there was no accident, but I find it hard to believe that it was that important to get past me in a non-passing area, while running a red light. But they wanted to get somewhere fast.

Games I beat in 2017: #4 & #5 Hidden my Game by Mom 1 & 2

They are free games. Here, I’ll even link you to the first one and its sequel.

The developer has a few other games out which are equally quirky, but these two are the best. They are absolutely worth completing because the endings are so worth the time spent.

Unfortunately, since the games are free you know there’s a catch. And that is the occasional fullscreen ad. Or animated ad that “has” to play out. I put that in quotes because a tap in the upper lefthand corner closes it out. Hidden close mark, I suppose. I can't blame the developer. It’s hard to make money off your games. I know that first hand.

These two games are “tap on the things to see what they do” mechanics-wise, but they rely on quirky humor to make its simplicity all the more fun. Your mother has hidden your gaming device. Where is it? It could be as easy as opening a drawer, or as complex as finding a string of items to solve a devious puzzle.

This leads to lots of game overs. But you want the game overs sometimes because they are humorous. Sometimes I walked right into a trap and as soon as I saw it I laughed. How could I not? It was so obvious and yet worth it.

A bit of “brute forcing” gets you through any puzzle that doesn't make sense. Only so much screen to tap on. But nearly all of them “make sense”.

I'm writing this up months after playing it, but I still smile thinking about it. They are worth your time. And you might even earn the dev half a cent.

Ham Man

Ham Man fumbled for the object on the ground. He knew he dropped something, but his pink hands grasped at nothing. His eyes half closed, he continued to reach. Leaning back for a breath of air, he then lunged forward again. No luck grabbing the item. It was there. He knew it. Ham Man had a thing. Now he no longer had a thing. But what could he do without the thing?

Ham Man closed his eyes. An eternity passed. It was about sixty seven seconds long. He opened his eyes. The thing! He must get the thing! He reached down again but the thing was not where his hands were. Ham Man smelled the air. He smelled of ham. But the thing was not ham. He was the source of the ham smell. But what was the thing?

The train conductor steps over Ham Man’s umbrella as he walks by. Ham Man sees this. Umbrella! The word comes to his lips. He lunges. Umbrella is now in hand. Ham Man was successful. Now for sleep. Ham Man will sleep.

Games I beat in 2017 #3: Hotline Miami 2

This one took a while. The macOS version would crash at the end of some levels. Why? It was looking for data in a folder. The Steam folder. I had the GOG version. As you can imagine, things did not work out well.

There is this level on a boat. And it is a long level. And I would beat it. And when I would go to finish it, the game would crash. And since almost every level in Hotline Miami has this “get out” part, the level isn't over until it is over. And the level would crash before saving my progress.

I liked the first one a lot. It took me a while to beat, but it was bizarre and twitchy. Hyperviolent, sure. Made me feel a bit awkward to be playing it? Sure. That seemed to be the point. And it stuck with me. That awkward feeling. I shouldn't be enjoying this. Yet in some way I am.

The sequel had some of that but there was an extra layer of frustration. Part of it was the bugs, but then you have some sequelitis going on. It wanted to be “bigger and better” but that went into the map design. Hotline Miami had tight maps that I did my best to learn as soon as possible. 2 had these wide maps that made it feel like I was getting shot from a distance without anything I could do about it. Was the game trying to make me feel helpless?

I checked in on the game once in a while. I found out someone fixed the bugs. It turned out I didn't have much left to complete. But I was already down on the game and the remaining levels didn't change much of that.

The other 472

I was 473 out of 2719 players in Grand Prix Shizuoka. That means I performed better than 2246 players. And yet I can only think about the 472 who did better than me.

This is not healthy. This is bad. I made mistakes, and I acknowledged them. I tried to have a fun time. But with a desire for perfection comes a problem of stressing out over failures.

This is a card game.

I am hoping that I can take these experiences from my fun time and turn it into a better life for me. Because I did better than 2246 players. Some of that was luck. Some of that was skill. And that’s why 472 were better than me. Luck and skill. And I have to acknowledge that the dice will lay will they will.

There’s a part of me that doesn't believe in luck. Thinks I should blame myself for each part. I rolled a two on two six-sided dice? Well, it was my fault for letting go the second I did. Grabbing the dice the way I did. Breathing the way I did. And these things are true. But there’s gravity. The air. The other people around me. Things outside of my control. And I have to try my best to remember they exist. Or I am going to lose my mind.

I have to be better in all ways. Both card games and life.

Grand Prix Shizuoka

This was a weekend of mistakes. And learning. When friends said they were shooting to arrive at 8, I figured 8pm the night before the event. They meant 8am the morning of. I should have looked at the hotel reservations closer. It was only one night. Not two! I thought the price was good. So when I went my own way because I thought people were taking off at 12 (pm) and not going to work on Friday, whoops!

So I arrive in Shizuoka at 7:30pm Friday without a hotel. Luckily a friend was also there and let me crash at their place. Otherwise that would have been a silly night. It’s been a while since I slept on a floor, but it worked out okay.

Saturday I start with two byes, but didn't want to pay the ¥2000 extra to “sleep-in”. I don't get why that was an option. Yes, in general the Grand Prix was cheaper than Chiba. But Chiba also offered free water and snacks on top of a no-charge sleep in special. They also had a working pairing app, but we’ll get into that later.

I was playing a Four Color Saheeli from someone I had chatted with at GP Chiba and on Reddit. It was a good list that I had practiced with online and felt confident about. The side was ready for Mardu Vehicles, but was luck going to be on my side?

Day One

Round One and Two: Byes

Round Three: Mardu Vehicles (0-2 : 2-1) Ouch. <a data-preserve-html-node="true" class="simple" target="new" href="https://deckbox.org/mtg/Gideon, Ally of Zendikar”>Gideon smash. I wish I could say there was some mistake that I made that I could learn from, but all my notes point to that they had it. Mardu does that. Just smashing away.

Round Four: Jund Control (2-0 : 3-1) Another die roll loss. I feel luck coursing through me. No mulligans for either of us these games, but I manage to squeak the combo through both times. Game two I was down to two life, but I kept putting out board pressure. They had to deal and I had the combo at when they were out of answers.

Round Five: Mardu Vehicles (1-2 : 3-2) Noticing a pattern? This one was all on me, though. Luck could have played a part in the end but I definitely lost because I made a mistake. Or did I? I should have called a judge.

After I’m shuffling game one, a judge standing behind me asks me to come and talk with him. Now I’m nervous. I tend to shuffle in a weird way. I table shuffle in strange patterns to try to set the cards all around and then I riffle shuffle like a madman. I’m gentle with my opponent's cards, though.

The judge asked why I shuffle my deck pointed towards me while I shuffle my opponent’s deck face down. I said that I wanted to avoid seeing any of my opponent’s cards by accident. Also that I found shuffling with the cards upright while looking away easier to do with my own deck. He seemed satisfied, but I got nervous. I missed a trigger game two for energy from a Bristling Hydra. Somehow I confused the rule of “not mattering until you notice ” with this. Judge says I missed it. So you’d think I’d be more careful.

Game three I use Harnessed Lightning on a Gideon token. Attune with Aether, drop a Whirler Virtuoso. Get out a Marvel Aetherworks. I am getting attacked with Gideon, Heart of Kiran and a 3/2 dwarf. When I go to spin Aetherworks I notice I only have five energy. I should have six. But I forgot to tick up my energy count for the earlier Harnessed Lightning. Whoops. Now I thought this was a trigger thing. But later when talking with the same judge, he said that should have been a thing noted by my opponent. Whoops. I think we both would have gotten warnings or maybe the game state was too far advanced. Either way, I was much more careful about my energy for the rest of the day.

Round Six: Four Color Good Artifacts (2-0 : 4-2) It feels like an insult to not know what my opponent's deck was. This of course comes when I win, and I sure did. He was dropping big artifacts and powerful spells like Unlicensed Disintegration. I kept applying board pressure each game. Game one I win with the help of Chandra, Torch of Defiance and a board of creatures. Game two he gets out a Tezzeret the Schemer and I deal via Chandra and Thopter tokens. At one point he has to tap out to deal with my board and I have the combo ready to finish him off.

Round Seven: Four Color Saheeli (2-0 : 5-2) This is when the day starts to become a blur. I know I got the combo off game one thanks to Aetherworks Marvel. He had Shock for my <a data-preserve-html-node="true" class="simple" target="new" href="https://deckbox.org/mtg/Saheeli Rai”>Saheeli. I had six energy. Spin the wheel and I got a second cat in response to his Shock. He scoops. I remember worrying that the mirror match was where I had to shine. I wanted to focus my energies on the toughest matchup in Mardu Vehicles. Game two I just go hard on creature beats and wiping his board.

Round Eight: Green Black Energy (2-1 : 6:2) Game one he just thrashes me. Creature after creature into a Verdurous Gearhulk. I had Saheeli poking at him while he had a Walking Ballista up so he was not worried about anything but reducing my life to zero. Game two he mulligans twice and I take advantage of this with an early combo. Game three he just doesn't see a Ballista or any removal and when I drop the combo he shows a hand of land and a Gearhulk. Whew. I’m definitely in day two, now. I hope for a good round nine so I can go in 7-2

Round Nine White Black Revolt (0-2 : 6-3) Well, so much for that 7-2 record. I just got smashed. Super smashed. Remember when I said not knowing my oppenent's deck felt like an insult? Not this time. Game one he plays a turn one Shambling Vent and I’m thinking Mardu Vehicles. Turn two he plays Hidden Stockpile and I’m starting to wonder what the hell is going on. Turn three I drop Saheeli, cat in hand, mana ready to go. He holds mana up, but I have a hand full of creatures and planeswalkers. So I drop the cat, ready to be playing stuff bigger than his 1/1s if he has the answer. He does. Then the next turn comes Gideon. It’s not going to go well. Another Hidden Stockpile comes. Then a third. Even though I kill off Gideon with Oath of Chandra and Chandra he drops another. He makes an emblem and is ready to make 3 2/2s a turn. I say it’s time to go to game two.

Now it feels like I'm playing against a different deck. He drops Yahenni, Undying Partisan after a 1/1 Walking Ballista. He then holds off until I over extend a little and then blows up the board with Fumigate except, whoops. Yahenni just became indestructible until end of turn. Great! Gideon comes down next turn and things just end.

But I’m 6-3! So that means I get to go on to Day Two.

Day Two

Round Ten: Temur Dynavolt (1-2 : 6-4) These were good games. It’s hard to complain. But I still can! In game three I spin Aetherworks Marvel into a creature, two lands and all my artifact hate. And he has two Torrential Gearhulk out. I could have used that Release the Gremlins, although who knows if he would have had a counter or not for it.

Round Eleven: Mardu Vehicles (0-2 : 6-5) My notes just show my life totals at 8 for each game. I didn't even bother to write down the -1 after Gideon and Heart of Kiran finished me off both games. Consistency makes for good decks and Mardu Vehicles sure is that.

Round Twelve: Black Green (2-1 : 7-5) I have “Combo Win” written down in columns of two and three. Game one I couldn't find an answer for his Ballista and he pummeled me down. Games two and three I just had the combo early and enough stuff to push through his answers and defend it.

Round Thirteen: Mardu Vehicles (2-1 : 8-5) No, that is not a typo. I beat Mardu Vehicles. Once. It felt good. It felt like revenge after the previous three losses. How did I do it? Game one he tapped out when I had the combo. Now, he had a field full of good stuff. He just didn't have removal for the combo. Game two I sided into the Bristling Hydra and Skysovereign package. But since he saw my Aetherworks Marvel he put in Release the Gremlins. And had one for each of my two Skysoverigns. It was hard to come back from those losses. Turn four game three I had a Tireless Tracker, and a Clue token. He drops a Ballista on his turn. On my turn I tap out for five and Release the Gremlins on his Ballista and my Clue token. Thanks to the rules, I still get two gremlins. Then I bring the beatdown.

Round Fourteen: Mardu Vehicles (1-2 : 8-6) Game one he gets me down to seven but I push through the combo. I do a total of three damage to him over the next two games. Guess who showed up a lot? If you said Gideon, congratulations. Go have a cookie.

Round Fifteen: Four Color Saheeli (2-1 : 9-6) He seemed to be on a more aggro version with Tireless Tracker in the main deck. Game one and three I got the combo through his answers. Game two he straight up turn four got me when I didn't have an answer. We played the combo. I just happened to get it twice.

So, triggers. Gotta remember triggers. Got to not get nervous when a judge asks me a simple question and I don't even get a warning. Making day two in my second Grand Prix was exciting. If Wizards’s site was not shitting the bed at the moment I would tell you what place I got.

I have to say that the GP did not feel as well run as Chiba. The online pairing system just didn't work. When my byes were up I noticed the announcements were saying not to check the app. They would show up a few minutes into the round. (I found this out as I had to wait for an opponent once since a person with the same name sat down in front of me instead.) There was also only one list printed out. I get that there are lots of people, but I do not understand why they made it harder to check our seatings. I’m sure the app had server issues or something. It happens. But it sure sucked.

This was a bit cheaper than GP Chiba, but. I didn't get a playmat. They were only available to the first 1800 people who signed up. There was no free water or snacks. The app didn't work. Hell, I’ll even say the tables sucked. That’s because I got lucky and sat at the end where the bars for these folding tables bumped into my knees. This happened many times in a row.

But I had fun. 9-6! Next Grand Prix is Modern in Kobe. Oh goody.

Crushing Finality

I have been translating with one company for two years. I was lucky. I hold no ill will to the work drying up. That’s the freelance gig. But it came as a shock. I was lucky because they helped me out at the perfect time. But now I do not know how much work I will get from them. So if you happen to know of places that need freelance Japanese to English translators, hi.

Now to return to rambling about Magic: The Gathering!

The reason I bring this news up is that I had a stressful day at work on Tuesday so I figured I'd relax by playing some Modern. Well, I got the unfortunate email a bit before the tournament started. So I was in a bit of a weird mood, but I found myself focused on the games of Magic. I won rounds one and two without much stress. Round one was against a new-seeming player with his own mill deck. It was pretty brutal to lose 13 to 26 cards in a turn due to Archive Trap. But he didn't have the resources to deal with my beats and I took him out in two games. Plus, Snapcaster Mage and Gurmag Angler like full graveyards.

Round two was Jund. I just played the Delver game hard and finished him off. Game two was a bit more interesting after siding because I decided to take out Delver of Secrets. He sided to defeat Delver, though. This gave him a hand of useless removal while Tasigur, the Golden Fang and an Angler tore him apart.

Round three I drew lots of lands. Lots of lands. I could have dropped a Snapcaster Mage recuring nothing to kill an early Geist of Saint Traft. I should have. It might have bought me some time. But I shocked my opponent when around turn 8 I played a Delver. See, I had lots of lands. He thought I was on control. Game two was similar, although I don't think I made a mistake. I just didn't draw anything to go with my counters other than cantrips and land.

And that left me feeling how I felt about my translation gig. Helpless. But I can take actions. I already did today and have found a little bit of work. I do hope one day I just have one thing I’m doing to pay all my bills. But it doesn’t feel like that’s how the world works these days.

Games I beat in 2017: #2 Anodyne

What a weird game. What a beautiful game. Anodyne feels like a Legend of Zelda game made by those who wanted you to question why video games are things.

I have a haunting feeling that I already wrote about this. I can't find the blog post. Was it a lost draft? I cannot find that either, and I am usually good about keeping track of those sort of things.

That haunting feeling sums up Anodyne. It feels familiar, but new. It’s some sort of dream that’s halfway towards being a nightmare but you've already woken up. Or have you? It’s a movie cliche except you're enjoying yourself. Until you're not sure what exactly is going on.

It breaks my heart that a dull game like Undertale can get so popular while a little gem like this passes by unnoticed. Well, for me at least until I get gifted a copy for Xmas.

If you like Zelda games (And I mean real ones, not the 3D disasters.) then I suggest you play this. You will enjoy yourself.

Net Decking

Ah, net-decking. A “hot topic” amongst card gamers because “There's no creative spirit!”

I don't mind it.

I mean, I think about it. What is the best way for me to proceed? I net-deck because then I know it’s on me. The playing part, at least. The deck is out of my hand.

So I took a modified Black-Green deck to last week's Friday Night Magic. I went 1-2. Round 1 was against an Abzan Revolt deck. I had thought about this exact kind of deck, but I didn't know the best way to build it. My opponent was also in a testing phase because the deck didn't seem to work too great. All the games were a grind, but I managed to pull out ahead.

Then I lost to Copy Cat and the mirror-match. The Copy Cat games were hard. He just had answers and draw. Didn't see my draw, although Copy Cat sure packs more. Mirror match was similar. He saw things that I didn’t. This is the problem with little events like this. I’m not sure if I misplayed or not. I think it was just a little bit of bad luck.

And I’ve got to roll with that.