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=", 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=" 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.

I would walk a quarter mile

I am fat.

Okay, I’m not fat. That is a rude thing to say. But I am not happy with my weight. I could blame The Medication. If anything, though, I have had less of an appetite ever since going on the medication for depression. Perhaps it is just a lack of exercise. That bastard, exercise.

Who am I to call exercise a bastard. Perhaps it was born in wedlock. Again, I am apologizing a lot today.

But I walked the other day. And my thighs are now b-b-burning like a hunk of love. Except replace love with pain. And hunk with eternal. “Burning like a eternal of pain.” That is some shitty grammar.

There is pain. Which is life, I do suppose, so I’ll just remedy that with what I can. Drink your water, children. It'll get that body hydrated. Sweet, sweet hydration. Important even during the winter months.

Which I have to say other than being fuck-cold this year have treated me well enough. No colds. I think my last one was around a year ago. I binged Archer when I could not get out of bed. So that was a pretty good cold as far as colds go.

We are in the last half of February. Time for shit to get warm. Then it will get too hot and I can can complain about that, but for now I can look forward to “Not too hot”.

Ah, life.

Game Day(s): 2017.02.12

I wrote this up on Sunday, but then life stopped me from posting it until now.

I heard it was going to be a big one, but the cold must have kept people in. Fourteen players, the smallest amount I saw this weekend.

I wasn't sure whether to go GB or Copy Cat, so I flipped a coin. It came up Copy Cat but my gut said GB so I went with that

Round 1: Temur Eldrazi 2-0
Gonti, Lord of Luxury stole two Thought-Knot Seers game one. So luxurious. Then my opponent rammed Reality Smasher into Gonti. This confused me. But they had not realized everyone's favorite Lord of Luxury has Deathtouch. Whoops. Game two I stole yet another one but he dumped his hand so fast there was no value. I did clear the board and then drop a Winding Constrictor, pump up my Walking Ballista and then swing for a hell of a lot. Ballista blows to face. Good game.

Round 2: GB Aggro 2-0
My poor opponent. He got mana screwed twice. Game one he just called it after a mulligan and I went turn three Rishkar onto a Snake. Game two went longer. But I stole a Blossoming Defense with Gonti, Lord of Fucking-Your-Shit-Up. Then a Swamp protected my Snake from his Fatal Push. The amount of faking out you can do with Gonti's grabs is just too good. He dropped another Fatal Push the next turn, but the beats just began coming too fast.

Round 3: Abzan Control 0-2
I broke the cardinal rule about not tilting. I missed an opportunity to at least buy myself some time. Although when your opponent draws Ob Nixilis and Gideon off of Ajani Unyielding… While you have been top-decking lands for the past five turns... It is easy to forget that your Walking Ballista could ping Ajani to prevent him from doing his ultimate. An ultimate which in turn makes Gideon's token a 7/7 and gives an Ob Nixilis emblem. That is pretty much a lost game. The amount of answers I had remaining in the deck makes me want to cry, but that is Magic. And speaking of Magic...

Round 4: Aetherworks Marvel 1-2
Fucking Ulamog gacha-gacha. Fuck. That's the game. Sometimes there's some random shit to it and sometimes your opponent just gets the shit they need. Oh, I had answers. But then Ulamog slammed 20 of my cards into the exile and hey, look, the first one was an answer! Oh well.

Made top 8. Got another promo. Yay? Someone actually bought the store out of Aether Revolt packs so our prize pool was Kaladesh. Yikes. Nothing good in the pack I got. Oh well.

The event was over early and the day was mine! So I went to another one nearby. Entry was free! So hey, that's cool.

Round 1: BR Dredge 2-1
Ah, game one I got him with the combo but game two just dragged on. I couldn't hit a sixth land. Trying a version withoutAnticipate this seems to be a potential problem. Thing is, I just hate Anticipate so much. Putting removal instead to deal with aggro decks is a good idea. But it just doesn't work out if you don't draw the stuff at all.

Round 2: Jund Vehicles 0-2 Just smashed. I didn't have enough time to get anything going, and Unlicensed Disintegration stings hard. Both games were similar. Mulligan a one or no-land hand and then try to play stuff but nothing happens.

Round 3: BR Discard 2-1
This one was just annoying. My opponent seemed to have a mishmash of cards. Game 1 was a lot of little creatures that I didn't see games two or three. What he did have was a lot of discard and Goblin Dark-Dwellers to recur it. I had to stabilize each game. Twice I did, once I didn't. He made me discard Gisela early game three but later on when he was down to topdecking I found Bruna. That ended things.

Round 4: UR Control 2-1 All games involved us making our land drops and not doing much else. Until one of us made a push and then the counter wars began. He was playing Baral, Chief of Compliance, who seemed not so great. Yeah, he got some filtering off. I also had to count his mana for the potential spells that he could play. But Baral died to Harnessed Lightning or Immolating Glare the few times he did attack. I just had to save counters for his big spells and counter wars.

Then I somehow made top 4.

Top 4: Aetherworks Marvel 2-0
This felt like revenge. Now to be fair, my opponent whiffed with Marvel game one. I put out a Saheeli Rai followed by Nahiri, the Harbinger. Then it was just a game of "try and protect my board best I could with counters" until Nahiri used her ultimate to get a cat. He scooped. Game two was similar except I there was a conundrum. Do I cast Nahiri turn 4, leaving him the option of dropping a turn five Marvel? He didn't have much energy, and would have to wait to dig into the gacha-gacha anyway. I decided to go for Nahiri. He did have the Marvel, but he never got it off. I just plussed my planeswalkers, kept up mana for counterspells. When I used Nahiri’s ultimate he just showed me a hand of lands and two Ulamog.

So I got lucky. Which I have to realize is part of the game for both players. If I hadn't taken advantage of his low energy situation to play Nahiri, he could have drawn something. A Lost Legacy or Transgress the Mind would have ruined my plans. I had to push, guessing why he hadn't played anything. He had bad luck, but if I had not thought to capitalize on it, I could have risked my own situation.

Top 2: Temur Eldrazi It was late. I knew my opponent from one of the shops I go to. A high school kid, so he was already looking at the clock, not having expected it to go as late as it had. I asked if he wanted to split. Someone gets the mat, someone gets the Planeswalker Points. He seemed fine with that. I didn't need the mat, and I want to get the points for Grand Prix byes. I “won” and then gave him the mat.

I know there have been bans for “bribery”. So I was careful about my language, although I don't think it matters. There was nothing on the line but the mat, which I didn't want and is worth more than the 6 Planeswalker points. Plus, I made a suggestion, not saying who gets what and he forfeited to me. I don't think that’s bribery. People seem to do it at Grand Prix Trials and the like all the time anyway in front of judges. Not to mention the stakes here are much lower.

Biggest flop of the weekend was Gisela. I sided her in so many matches and never saw her. I guess she just did not want to come out to play. So disappointing. I wanted to at least see what it was like to have her against vehicles and the like. Yes, they'd blow her up. But then I'd have a turn 5 play and a turn 6 play instead of just doing nothing on turn 4 because I had none of my removal. I think Anticipate has to be in the deck. The digging is just far too important. I don't like it, but it just seems to be the way it has to be. Negate is pretty good. Disallow can be costly, but countering something like Haunted Dead’s activation is devastating.

Gonti carried so much that I think I might focus on the Green Black deck more than Copy Cat. By the time Grand Prix Shizuoka rolls around things might change. Hell, there is a ban announcement five days before the event begins. So we’ll see. I'll be practicing with both decks.

I forgot my iPad

I have been using my iPad a lot for work this year. Yet somehow this morning for the first time since I bought it last year I forgot it. I meant to put it in my bag. But in my bag it did not end up.

So I get to work and realize that I am doing something every day that requires the iPad now. The students got used to it. Shit. What am I going to do? Well, I have my iPhone, but all my apps are on the iPad.

Except I have Xcode on my computer. And I have the projects for those apps. So I build them for my iPhone and they run. One needed a bit of a layout change but other than that they were up and running in seconds. And then I just used Air Play from my iPhone instead. Classes went great.

I just love a happy ending.

Game Day 2: 2017.02.11

It is a fucking holiday in Japan and I am going to play me some Magic, dammit.

I decided I needed a break from Jeskai Copy Cat and would play the Black and Green Aggro deck at the evening Game Day. I was going to need coffee for that one, though, as it started at 7pm and was going to run for five rounds and then cut to Top 8.

So for my sleep, Top 8 would not be ideal.

Round 1: ¿Superfriends? 2-0
I have no idea what this guy was going for with his deck. Is that insulting? I apologize. He had mana issues both games. He hardly cast any spells except for a Yahenni's Expertise game to kill two of my creatures. He then removed Winding Constrictor with Lost Legacy. I'm not sure Lost Legacy was good choice here. The beats I am delivering come in the way of Verdurous Gearhulk and Walking Ballista. Not that those can be selected, but that’s the point.

I only saw his deck thanks to Gonti. I pulled two black removal spells (Ruinous Path and Grasp of Darkness) game one. Then two Planeswalkers (Jace, Unraveler of Secrets and Ob Nixilis Reignited) game two. I played his cards against him. Gonti's good. Real good.

Round 2: UB Control 2-0
This was a nail. biter. Game 1 I just went nuts with Snakes and Ballistas. Then I stole a Disallow with Gonti. Then he tried to cast a Gearhulk. Whoops. I had his counter. Game me. Game two he had two Torrential Gearhulk when I hit him with a Transgress the Mind. But he also had Yahenni's Expertise. Not good for my board. Especially knowing he was packing Liliana. So I took that and tried making a board. He cleared me out and was beating me with the Gearhulk until I drew a Pokédex. Then it was on. That scry is amazing. I had all the lands I needed. I just kept drawing creatures and playing lands, drawing cards. Filled my hand back up and took over. Keeping watch for when an Expertise could waste me. But it didn't happen. I just kept stealing stuff from him.

Round 3: UR Control 2-1
Game one I did the thing. Game two was painful. He used Shock, Harness Lightning and counters on everything I played. I topdecked land. Didn't see a single Pokédex. Game three I did, but he countered it. He couldn't find red after his mulligan and I just took advantage with Energy Bob and a Servant of the Conduit. Push, push, push. Although I did not play a Fatal Push except for game 1.

Round 4: BG Aggro ID We figured the numbers out and it seemed like we'd both get in if we drew. So we did. I played the games but didn't think about my mulligans game three. How would had the match been on the line? I'm not sure.

Round 5: BG Aggro 1-2 I made a real big mistake here in game 3. I played a land before using the draw from the Ob Nixilis I stole. I ended up drawing a Swamp. This would have let me put in a Walking Ballista at 3 which could have killed their Tireless Tracker. It would have been at 1 to ready to receive glory from a Verdurous Gearhulk the next turn. I should have killed the Tireless Tracker even if I didn't draw that land. They just put my Gearhulk on the bottom of my deck and swung into Ob. It went downhill from there. Games 1 and 2 were many similar games from today, just beneficial for either one of us.

So 3-1-1. Should be enough to get into Top 8. And I was in fourth! So I got to pick to go first in the top 8.

Top 8: UR Control 1-2
And we have the reverse of the last time I faced this guy. Game one just got away from me, game two I took it quickly. Then I got screwed with mana.

Would I play the deck again? Heck yeah. It’s fun and Gonti is a champ.

Game Day 2017.02.11

Decided to play Jeskai Copy Cat for this event. I liked the three Immolating Glare I had put in, but was not a fan of the lack of removal for aggro, so -1 mainboard Negate, back down to 2 and then +1 Raidant Flames.

Round 1: Jund Vehicles 2-0
Got the combo both games. Lost one Saheeli to a shock but was able to recover by digging for another one when they tapped out. Both games were just looking for the opportunity to combo. Having Negate for Fleetwheel Cruiser was great. Saved Saheeli and let me combo next turn.

Round 2: Abzan Landfall Aggro 2-1
I'm not entirely sure what was going on here, but game three he overran me with Battle for Zendikar block enchantments that created 1/1s on landfalls and pumped creatures and did all sorts of things. Game three I managed to Gideon to face. The packing of Ballistas in this plus expecting some sort of dicard made me side into the Jeskai control variant, and that seemed to take out the board pretty well. This is a fine exampel of paying attention to board states. I put down the wrong land and was unable to cast Tireless Tracker on a Tireless Tracker that basically took game 2 for them with all the drawing they got out of it.

Round 3: Black Red Aggro 1-2
Oh, I digged. But then game three was a mulligan down to five and I just could not keep up with the recurring Scrapheap Scrounger. Fucking sucked. I sided in the Angel package to hopefully delay the game and get some life back. Didn't see them. Did see Gideon, who got his ass blasted. Perhaps I should not have dropped him without extra mana to protect him. That was a mistake. I could have probably lived a bit longer and maybe even won. But going down to five I got cranky and had already resigned myself to the loss. Bad mindset.

Round 4: Red White Humans
I felt bad for my opponent. I saw him earlier in the day and he seemed normal. By round four he wasn't speaking. Just pointing and making grunts. He squeaked out "Humans" after playing a Metallic Mimic. It seems he had some sort of pain in his mouth. He didn't seem entirely focused and drew poorly, or at least he seemed frustrated by his draws.
Both games ended with me doing the combo after draining his hand out with various Gearhulk beats.

Top 4: Four Color Green Goodstuff?
I don't know how to describe this deck. Other than it smashed me. Gideon, Avacyn, Walking Ballista, Sylvan Advocate, Felidar Guardian. I actually give on up on tagging that stuff. Way too much. That sounds mostly white and green, but there were red and blue lands of which I don't quite know he was doing. I didn't see it, but he didn't need it. Game one I open with a Gearhulk, two Anticipates, two lands a Glimmer of Genius and an Immolating Glare. So, hey, I think. This isn't bad. I play. Topdeck a land on turn three. Feeling good. Dig with thoser Anticipates. See a lot of Glimmers of Genius. Do not see land. Get stuck at four and while I can kill one or two things, he drops his sixth land with a Sylvan Advocate, I try to blow it up and he plays Avacyn. I scoop.
Should I have? I was at 13. He had a Ballista at 2, and was hitting me for a total of ten. I could have cast a Glimmer but then he would not have dropped Avacyn. So even if I got a fifth land and Fumigate, I was done for. Bad beats. It happens.
Game two went a bit longer but he plays a Rishkar and he almost plusses Rishkar, but then stops himself and plusses two creatures that don't have summoning sickness. I should have counted his land. Guess what he had next turn when I played Fumigate? If you guessed Avacyn, then you are right. I was without anything to counter Avacyn and his board was going to do me in next turn. This time I had no choice but to scoop.

Prize packs were Top Tier Garbage. The promo cards look cool, though.

I need to remember to look at my opponent's cards a bit more. I have gotten into a habit of asking how many cards are in their hand, but I am not counting mana often enough and thinking "What is their out?" instead of freaking out about what mine is.

But hell, I made top four in Game Day. Plus I won a GPT last week. My Magic playing is clearly imrpoving.

I hate Anticipate. For some reason I originally thought the card was put one in hand, one on the bottom and one on the top. That might be nice. There are times where it would be not nice. But always having to shove the other two cards on the bottom is not good fun.

Disallow does not feel great as I can deal with creatures that hit the board in other ways and I want to deal with them interrupting my board or trying to drop things. I may go down to 0 on this. Increase Radiant Flames main and go up on to a 3 Negates and 4 Immolating Glares. Immolating Glare has been great. Would Disallow have stopped Avacyn? Oh yes. Did I have Disallow or three mana at that time? I did not. So, I don't know what the answer is. More thinking? I did have Linvala, the Preserver in hand. I could have played that, had a Gearhulk, her and her angel buddy and then he likely would have slammed into me and dropped Avacyn to save his creatures. Then I could have wiped the board. Ah, hastiness. And hindsight being 20-20.

Digging with the Pokédex

So there is an Early Friday Night Magic at the one store I like going to.

I usually try other decks out during this. Tonight I played this.[^ Sorry for those of you not SSG subscribers. I think the deck is in the paid part.] It's not as competitive and a smaller group. Tonight was four people, so I played everyone once. I went 2-0-1. And the draw was because game two took a long time against control.

But Lifecrafter's Beastiary is absolutely nuts against control. [footnote]Did you know it was called Pokédex during testing? So awesome.[/footnote] Scry every turn? Draw a card for every creature you cast for G? Yeah, the control deck countered my creature. Boo-hoo. I replaced it for G. G! It is ridiculous.

All three decks were control variants. Game one I usually took it with pure speed and then game two I took out the slower stuff in the deck and went with a package of 3 Beastiaries, discard and artifact destruction. And if game three did not go to time during round 2, I feel like I would have gone 3-0. But I still got first place in the little tournament and it felt good. Real good.

In fact, I'm not sure if I want to run Copy Cat during Game Day. Well, I managed to schedule so I can go on both Saturday and Sunday, so maybe I'll go practice Copy Cat Saturday and then play GB Aggro depending on how I am feeling on Sunday.

Negating the competition

So I was looking at the lists of the top performing decks at the PT. I noticed that Negate would counter anywhere from 8 to 16 of the cards in the majority of the decks.

So, do I up from 2 Negates main deck to 4?

Now, Copy Cat runs other counters.Disallow hits anything and has its other uses, but is 3 mana. Revolutionary Rebuff doesn't hit artifacts and gets worse as time goes on.

I tried searching for some math on this, but was coming up with nothing. But the deck has Harnessed Lightning and Immolating Glare (which I think should go up to 3 from 2) to deal with the creatures. upping Negate to 3-of or even 4-of seems like a solid way to deal with the both Mardu Vehicles and GB. If it is time for the combo to go off, it’s some of the cheapest protection that you could ask for. Other than Dispel, but Negate hitting planeswalkers and artifacts. Artifacts which are often vehicles. Negate seem like a good deal.

Dealing with a resolved Gideon was the biggest issue I had outside of pure aggro smashing at me. And the side has an extra Fumigate and Radiant Flames for aggro.

This is all just thoughts which I’ll be putting to the test over this weekend. Aether Revolt Game Day is this weekend, so I’ll see how Copy Cat performs. I expect even Japan will hop on the Mardu Vehicles train.

Grand Prix Shizuoka Trial 2017.02.05

Grand Prix Shizuoka Trial 2017.02.05

Spolier: I won.

It ended up only being an eight person tournament. This meant only single elimination rounds. One loss and I get some packs at least. Well, roughly $15 for a pack if I lose round one. Two if I lose round two. I think it was six packs for coming in second and eight for first? Something like that.

But I won round one versus Jeskai Dynavolt control. Then I won round two versus Black-White control. Then my final opponent said that all he wanted was packs. I asked if I could have one. He agreed. The pack was nothing, but now I have two byes for Grand Prix Shizuoka.

I was lucky today. Game one was a lot of back and forth until I attempted the Copy Cat combo to lure out some counter spells. I ran my opponent down on resources and began beating with a Torrential Gearhulk. Game two he just didn’t draw land. That sucks. But last week I lost by only drawing land. Such is Magic. Perhaps there is more to these losses and wins, but often I am not able to see it.

Round two I the effectiveness of Gifted Aetherborn surprised me. It kept things at bay and made it tough for me to just get in Gearhulk beats. Removal plus Gearhulk beats did win out.

I missed a few things. I dropped Gideon, Ally of Zendikar with a Gearhulk out against a tapped out opponent. All I had to do was make the Emblem and win. I still won, but that was a silly mistake. I am not used to using Gideon.

I also forgot the Oath of Jace trigger several times. I did the same thing in GP Chiba with Delver of Secrets. I need to get in a habit of putting a die on top of my deck to remember upkeep triggers.

I didn't use the combo once in my four games, but who can complain. I just need to practice the deck a lot, especially against Mardu Vehicles, before the Grand Prix.

Assuming Felidar Guardian remains unbanned.

Casual Standard 2017.02.02

I am gullible.

Or Mulder-like as in I want to believe. Nah, let’s go with gullible. I let my opponents string me along in Magic. Even if they don't think they are doing it. Or maybe they are. I don't mean to insult anyone’s intelligence. Except my own.

Standard last night was six people.

Here is what I brought.

(The name Copy Cat has stuck but oh how I want to call it Frosted Flakes. Oh well. I smell a cat-ban soon.)

Half of us were on Copy Cat. One third of the group was playing a Black-Green variant. The last lone feller was playing an Esper Improvise deck. When I beat him round two, that was his second loss to Copy Cat. I didn't combo him out, though. I just had Gearhulk beats game one and Gideon beats game two.

I think my control play is improving.

The guy seemed frustrated by having lost to the same deck twice. I get that. So he dropped. I wish he didn't. Now, if my round one opponent had won, I’d have played round 3. He did not so I got a bye. Hoo-ray. I love paying money to not play Magic. The store clerk gave me a promo card as an apology.

I love Japan.

Looking at my round notes, I noticed a few things. I was not good at writing down Saheeli Rai pings. I would often scry and then forget. Now, the proper order for Saheeli is to scry and ping. This can matter in cases of redirecting the damage to Planeswalkers. But I was just flat out forgetting to write down my opponent taking damage. Not good.

I also believe I forgot the Oath of Jace upkeep trigger. That’s right. The card is more than just “Draw three, discard two.” That upkeep scry is important. Especially with Saheeli or Nahiri on the board because that means more digging.

I also countered a Spell Queller when I shouldn't have.

I love the card’s name in Japanese. 呪文捕らえ (Jumon-torae) which one could translate as “Spell Captor”. Now, the English name sounds better than “Spell Captor”. But the “torae" part kind of sounds like “try” when said fast. And I always loved it as “Jumon-try” or in my head, “Try and cast that spell!”

Anyway, I digest.

I cast Saheeli. Opponent has five mana. I have a Disallow. Opponent casts Spell Queller on my Saheeli. I Disallow it. What was I thinking? With a hand full of cards my opponent counters the Disallow with a Dispel. Untap, upkeep, draw. He plays land number six and does the combo. Cats all up in my face.

Why did I try to counter the Queller? I was at twenty. I could have handled the Queller some other way. Then I would have had Saheeli. Plus, he would have had to protect that Queller hard or I could combo. Alas, I fell into a trap of my own mind. I did not need Saheeli then. She just would have been nice. Should have played it slower.

Tuesday Modern 2017.01.31

I'm bad at Magic the Gathering.

I want to get better, though. So I play. But I need to think more about my play. So I’m going to do that. And I’m going to try to be as honest as I can about my playing. That will be the hard part.

Modern Tuesday

Ah, a Tuesday of Modern. Which I would prefer on Monday because of alteration. But this is Japan. It’s on Tuesday.

I moved some cards around to play Grixis Delver better. Less Bloodstained Mires and more Polluted Deltas. Fulminator Mages and Engineered Explosives to deal with a variety of things. Tokens and Tron which I was expecting. I saw none of this.

Well, some of it. The tokens, that is. Plus the guy sitting next to me wsa playing Tron. He died. He needed an Island one game. But that is another story that someone else should tell.

Round 1: Burn?

Okay, so this guy is running a version of burn I’m not too familiar with. Lots of artifacts, lots of goblin token making. Monastery Swiftspear, Goblin Guide, Atarka’s Command, Signal Pest. It was fast. Game one I’m down to under ten life before I stabilize and my playing Tasigur makes him upset.

I have trouble trusting people. He could have been realizing he was about to lose, but my mind tells me he is playing tricks and is going to win. Tasigur plus a soon flipped Delver take the game.

Game two I mulligan twice and as I draw my third hand I make a note that I had done so. “I won't need a third mulligan!” I think as I draw no lands. Going down to two fetches and two Serum Visions seemed okay enough. Then he turns a Mox Opal into three Goblins turn 1. I just cannot find an Engineered Explosive or anything to take over the board again. Game three repeats the first one. Delver plus Tasigur. I’m feeling good. I win.

I’ve noticed people often write down how many times they mulligan. And how many times their opponents mulligan. This seems like useful information. I decide to write it down.

Round 2: Grixis Control

Only one mulligan this match. Game two for my opponent. Game one he rips my hand with three discard spells. Then it is back and forth with land drops until he starts putting out creatures and a Bedlam Reveler sticks. I dig for answers but I can't find them. Trying to reflect upon this game, perhaps I kept an opening hand that didn't do enough. Both of us played land after land. He just had a threat that stuck.

Game two I do what Delver decks do. I play a threat and protect it. I regret not remembering much about this match.

Game three I learn again that having three Lightning Bolts is not impossible in Modern. I have a Fulminator Mage with Snapcaster Mage in hand and Lightning Bolt in the graveyard. He swings with Tasigur while I’m at 13. I let it through. He drops three bolts and I look at my Snapcaster Mage and Mana Leak and sigh. Why didn't I kill Tasigur? It wasn't just a Gurmag Angler. He was going to get Tasigur activation value each turn I let it pass. My only outs were battle tricks. I wasn’t going to double Bolt Tasigur. Maybe I could dig out a Terminate. Maybe he had enough counters. But I didn't try. He did.

Round 3: Kiki Chord

I had never played against this deck before and was not sure what was going on. Kiki never showed up. Except for when I used Kolaghan’s Command to kill his Eternal Witness and make him discard his one card in hand. My siding was bad. For some reason I thought taking out Tasigur, Gurmag Angler and the Thought Scours was smart. I replaced them with Fulminator Mage and more counters. Disrupt his mana base! Counter that shit! Perhaps somewhere in my brain I thought I was running Young Pyromancers like in my Legacy Deck. Perhaps I thought Delver and the Mages, Snapcaster and Fulminator, would be enough. I was wrong, and he beat me with creatures while I had plenty of counters to stop things.

What I needed to take away from this was to jot down more notes, perhaps sooner after the tournament. I need to play slower. Or at least look at the board and my opponent’s hand before just saying “Okay”.

A New Drug

Last year I went on medication for my anxiety. Last week the doctor looked me straight in the eye and asked “Do you want something for the depression?”

I’ve heard such bad things about depression medicines that I had resisted. I had resisted for so long. Not that I think medication is a joke. There’s just the side effects, especially my favorite of “May cause depression”. Plus there’s always been that voice in the back of my head going “Well, perhaps other people need it. Sure they do. You’ve never attempted suicide, or even thought about doing it. That much.”

That voice was likely Depression. Or Anxiety, who is pretty fucking quiet these days.

But daily medicine feels like exercise to me. If I have to make myself do something every day, I could just be working harder. Oh, no. I do not judge you who does it. You have your reasons. I’m just a person without reasons. You know. I’m worse than you. You, you do what you have to do. I do it because I’m selfish.

Again, likely the nasty voice of Depression.

So, I am on a drug. A drug for Depression. I can tell that nasty fucker-of-relatives is still hanging around back there. But it’s a little quieter. A little more subdued, or at least a little more overwhelmed by a part of my brain going “Fuck you, Depression. And you too, Anxiety. Fuck you both.”

Saying that I’m well or that I’m “fixed” after a week would be a lie. Saying that I’m not worse, or at least not the same would be a lie. I am better. Is it a lot better? Scales are weird. Am I different? Yes, and for that I am a bit grateful.

Roughly $10 a month for these two meds. All hail insurance. And as far as I can tell, I’m lucky enough to just be a little sleepier. but then again, that could be the occasional staying up until 2 or 3 am playing Magic. But let’s blame the drugs. It can be our little secret.

Breaking Traditions

Every year I play Chrono Trigger from start to finish. (Well, define "finish" as one of the various endings. Sometimes I used New Game+.) I have done this for… Well, a long time now.

This year I didn’t.

I started. I intended on finishing! But at the last minute I decided to spend New Year’s Eve in a different way. So I didn't finish the game. I broke tradition.

Well, I played the game. And 2017 includes me finishing the game. And I might play it again this coming December. The thing is, this bothers me. As if I have broken some cardinal life rule that, well, I just fucking made up.

2016 was a lot of that for me. I tend to log the games I complete and write a post about each one. I started, but didn’t. Then I got into Magic: The Gathering again. And my blogging tapered off until I tried again and then lost track again.

So I don't know.

One thing I do know is this: I enjoyed playing Chrono Trigger on the train December 31. And again while lying in bed January 1, hungover. And Ending 6 (Spoilers?) where you see Robo and Atropos playing out the Crono and Marle bit was adorable. And then Tata runs in after Magus but there is Crono, Marle and Lucca. What? That was interesting, but I sure wish there was more to it. Was this just a quick idea tossed out to give extra endings? Or were there limitations that prevented us from getting more?

That is what I would like from a Chrono sequel. A short RPG with a whole bunch of time paradox and twists and turns where everything you do has some weird effect.

If this game does exist, I want to play it. If it does not. Hm.