TWR: Rivals of Ixalan Prerelease

This weekend saw the Prerelease events for the newest Magic: The Gathering set, Rivals of Ixalan. I already had plans for most of the weekend, but was able to attend the Sunday event at 1pm. I attended at my LGS where I took part in the Ixalan prerelease as well, and just like the first time I was not disappointed. I have been very lucky with my pulls from packs over the last year or so. Not only have I pulled both an Invention and an Invocation from the past two masterpiece sets (Kaladesh block and Amonkhet block), but I’ve managed to pull some of the desirable cards from these past two Ixalan sets as well!

Unfortunately I was only able to stay at the event long enough to crack my packs, throw together a 40-card Simic Merfolk deck, and beat my first opponent 2-1. At that point I had to jet, but got a participation pack as well that also had a decent rare inside! I’m curious what would have happened had I stayed, as my roommate managed to essentially win the whole thing and earned extra packs. Regardless, it was a good time and I felt I got my money’s worth for the small $30 investment. On top of the normal chaff that is to be expected from a small pile of packs, I ended up with cards that I needed for decks that I’m constructing, and Dinosaurs are going to be amazing at this point. Once the set officially releases next week I’ll be placing an order for singles and finishing that deck off finally, along with getting some additional power for other decks.

My prerelease promo card was less exciting than last time, but it’s still a decent card. I don’t have a place for it just yet, but whenever you can use opponent’s spells against them, it’s a nice feeling. Were this card blue, I’d have a place for it but at the moment it’s going to sit until I find a use. The cards that I was excited for that I did pull were:

People were hoping that Zacama was going to be a 5-color elder dinosaur so they could utitlize the other five mono-colored elder dinosaurs, but I’m just fine with the card being Naya, and slotting right into the 99 of the Gishath deck I’m building. Not only is this card very versatile on its own, but I could use it as an alternate commander for the deck and that’s more useful to me. Zetalpa is going in the same deck, along with the Green and Red elder dinos. Amazing stuff. I managed to also pull Tetzimoc, but without being able to use black in the dino deck, that one will collect dust for a while. It’s a great card, but I can’t use it at the moment.

I pulled three of the Forerunners, but these are the only two I’ll use. The Pirate one is only good in Pirate decks, and that’s not something I intend on building, despite owning an Admiral Beckett Brass. My dino Forerunner was also a foil, so that’s a bonus and I pulled a foil Goring Ceratops which is an upgrade of sorts since I already had a non-foil version. There were some other rares that I pulled but nothing too exciting.

Overall I still managed to get my hands on some good cards, and I might be able to trade my roommate for some others that I need to finish off some of these decks. It’s a fun time, and I’m hoping to continue to go to these events as they come up. We’re also trying to use the opportunity to find some new members for our EDH group, and apparently a few people were invited from what my roommate said, so perhaps we’ll get the steady games going again. In the meantime I’m going to try and finish up the decks I’m working on to be adequately prepared when that day comes!

Thoughts on Antihero

Antihero was one of those random games that I discovered and had my eye on for a while, without really knowing much about it. It finally released last year, and though my initial impression was that it was sort of a 4x game, but it turns out that it’s actually a digital board game. Having had a fling recently with some video game inspired card games, I thought this would be right up my alley. My girlfriend agreed, and she actually purchased this title for us to play. We’ve been sitting on it for a couple of weeks, but we finally got around to playing it this weekend, and in short, it’s a lot of fun!

There’s a Campaign mode where you play against AI controlled opponents, and it essentially leads you through the various mechanics you’ll need to know. I played through a level of that to get my bearings, and then we jumped into a multiplayer skirmish, playing hot seat mode together. Most of the game takes place on the above screen, where you’ll move your “master thief” around the map, exploring and burglaring. You’ll earn resources like coin and lanterns, the former which you’ll use to hire goons and the latter is used for upgrades:

There are a few different trees, each of which has its own new units to unlock and abilities to grant your master thief. For instance, you start with two action points per turn, but can eventually unlock up to 5 points per turn. You can open up Urchins who infiltrate businesses, Thugs that guard areas or Gangs that can attack other NPCs and rival gangs. Truant officers will evict Urchins from a rival’s building, allowing  you to send your own Urchins in their stead.

There are several different master thief skins, though they don’t appear to have an effect on gameplay. There are also several different maps to skirmish on, but on the particular map we were playing, you had to buy bribes and deliver them to “The Agency” for victory points. There was a limited amount of them to be bought, along with two blackmail contracts that you could capture on the map.

For most of the game we didn’t interact much, but eventually it was clear that I had fallen behind, as my girlfriend managed to buy up most of the bribes while I focused on other upgrades. I moved in to take over one of her businesses, but then she retaliated by taking the blackmail I owned, which won her the game. It was close at the start but she ran away with the victory!

Overall I think it was a fun experience. It’s simple to pick up, and easy to play — no twitch skills required! You can play online in bigger matches as well, so I imagine things can get pretty hectic. I love the art design and the Victorian era themes. It’s not too expensive a title either, though I got it on sale. I’d recommend this for those who are looking for something a little different to play, particularly if you have a non-gaming partner!

Everquest 2: Housing

While running around doing various quests on my freshly boosted Wizard, I found that I was starting to fill up my bags with various housing items, and though he did own his own little Inn room in Timerous Deep, I really don’t care for the Inn rooms in the game. Each city has different themed Inn rooms that look a bit different but all have one thing in common — they’re tiny! A long time ago I decided to move my Paladin from his home in Qeynos to a new larger Manor in Halas, and at that point I didn’t have much to fill it with. As such, I decided that I would give “trustee” access to the house to my Brigand and combine all of their housing items into one place. Because of this decision, I thought it wise to also give that trustee access to my Wizard and put all of his stuff inside as well. This was basically a post I had through about writing years ago but never got around to doing so.

I did recall seeing some housing deeds in my veteran rewards however, so I decided that before I moved my Wizard into the Halas Manor, that I should check out some of these new housing options and perhaps move everyone into one of them instead. Three different deeds were on my account, so I claimed all three and went exploring.

Sprocket’s Interlocking Plane

This “house” actually came with the specific edition of the newest expansion. It’s not really a house per se, but it does have a couple of buildings on it that you could theoretically set up as your house. You can fly here (hence the screenshot) but I don’t really like the fact that it isn’t a house itself but your own little dimension. It did provide a portal house item that I placed in the Halas house though, so perhaps I can sort through my belongings and deck this place out.

Isle of Refuge

So for those of us who played the game at launch, this is a hit of nostalgia. They also brought back the original opening tutorial area of the game recently, but for a long while it was a thing of the past. They basically gave you the entirety of the zone to use as a house though it is not populated. There was a little kit of NPCs that came with it, so you can actually populate it a bit, but I don’t think I’ll ever have enough housing items to fill up an island.

Mistmoore Crags Estate

This is the only one that you could remotely consider a house, but it’s actually bigger than my Manor in Halas, and kind of drab. I was considering using this house because it is rent free, but at the moment I am not using it. I finally decided that I would just roll with the Halas house for now for all three of my characters. At this point, I thought I’d share the house, and take you on a virtual tour of sorts:

Main entry way
Opposite end of table, facing main door
The study, complete with L&L + HQ items on the wall
A bunch of various books and HQ items
The back patio complete with various older mounts I have collected.
Downstairs, more mounts, L&L + HQ items
The entry room from upstairs
One of the upstairs rooms where many of my pets were congregating, along with religious altars
The bedroom, also some mannequins with old school armor sets that used to be good
Plushie collection and fireplace
The last upstairs room that I designated as a bathing area

I feel like having an actual house is a nice touch, and seeing all of the cool items that I worked hard to get throughout the years is satisfying. I truly thing EQ2 has probably the best housing system out of any other MMO I’ve played. The newer houses feel more like the housing in Rift, where it’s more of a zone and not just a house. I may find a way to use those yet, as I added portals to them from the Halas house. Either way, I thought it was a cool trip down memory lane!

EQ2: Progress Report

I’ve been subbed to Everquest 2 again for about a month, and because of the holidays much of that time was wasted, but I’ve paid my next month’s subscription already and I’m making progress nonetheless. Initially I was torn with whom I wanted to use the level 100 boost on, and eventually chose my low level Wizard who has actually been around since 2009 according to my /played stats, but had only reached his mid-30s in that time due to being an alt and not getting much attention.

My Wizard “Fohs” on one of the fancy mounts that came with the expansion.

After using the boost, it turns out that boosting a character to 100 doesn’t quite work as well as one would like. Some of your skills and factions are unaffected, so there’s some potential for back tracking there. You also don’t get any of the boons you may have collected over the years like tradeskill pack animals, various teleportation devices, epic weapons, etc. You do get leveled to 100 and earn 320 AAs right off of the bat, and can also use a boost for your tradeskill level (which I did, so Fohs is also a level 100 Sage), but there are still things to work on and sometimes that means backtracking to learn languages or build faction here and there. I have spent the entirety of my play sessions doing just this, and haven’t even begun on the new expansion, but of course I don’t play as religiously as I once did. I’m still finding enjoyment in this and that’s rare for me; I typically burn out during the slog but being so close to new stuff (and actually the old stuff is still new to me) is a motivator, and seeing something new at every turn has kept me engaged.

The long and the short of things was that in order to be truly viable in the new expansion, earning “Ascension Classes” was optimal. In the last expansion, Kunark Ascending, these classes were added as another alternate form of advancement, as the prior two expansions did not raise the level cap. There are four Ascension classes, and it appears that any class can be any/all of them, and each can be leveled up using a different form of experience. Once you have unlocked all four there is a best-in-slot mythical trinket that raiders are still using even in the current meta, so apparently it’s a necessity. There is a list of prerequisites to get started here, and though my original two characters would likely have most if not all of those done already, my boosted character did not. This meant having to learn Draconic (had the tablet in the bank though, so that was less of a hassle), Goblish and Satherian languages, completing the Greenmist HQ from Rise of Kunark and also earning some faction in the Terrors of Thalumbra expansion.

ToT was an “overland” zone that was underground, and despite being mostly rock formations it still had some interesting sights to see, but I was basically in and out of there. After completing a few quests you earn enough faction to head into the city of Maldura, which is where the Ascension trainers are. Next, I had to start on the Kunark Ascending signature timeline, which sends you into ToT for a little bit before teleporting you to the Obulous Plains, the main overland zone for KA. At this point, I have completed 4-5 quests in the chain but there are a few more to go. Obulous Plains is another one of those throwback zones, much like in the original Kunark expansion where it hearkened back to EQ1 zones like The Overthere and Lake of Ill Omen, this new Kunark zone hearkens back to zones like Warslik’s Wood and I think that’s really cool. The zone design is pretty impressive as well for a 13 year old game, they seem to have figured out ways to improve use of the engine because the newer zones look damn fine.

The Kunark Ascending timeline is supposed to run me through the entirety of the zone and there are a few instances as well. After completing this timeline I will have access to the trainers, and at that point I can buy a bauble from a merchant for 100 plat that allows any alts to skip all of these prerequisites and get straight into the Plane of Magic to start on the newest content. However, I know that my Brigand is level 94 and had a couple of expansions to go before even getting to that point so perhaps he will see a bit of the older content and won’t even need the bauble. My Paladin will likely need the help though as he hasn’t been played with any regularity since the level cap was 70 or 80, so he’s probably missing some of the quests.

So far I’m enjoying my time spent in the game. I will finish off this timeline soon and immediately get involved in the new stuff. I think within a month or so I should have this character at level 110 and then can focus on bringing up my other characters. It would be nice to have three characters at the cap, so that if I do take a break again (let’s say by summer) then I can come back at expansion time and be ready to go instead of always playing catch up!

Lucky Number 13

Where does the time go?

It was back in 2005 that I started this blog and I honestly don’t know how I’m still doing it. It may not be as steady as some but it has stood the test of time moreso than others. It’s interesting to occasionally look back on old posts and find how much my thought patterns have changed in the last decade-plus; my life has assuredly changed as well. What was once something of a true “web log” has taken shape into a gaming blog that covers more than just those of the video kind. It’s been a long journey of self-discovery and perseverance, but I feel like I’d do it all over again given the chance. Barring some sort of post-apocalyptic or dystopian scenario, I hope to make this a hobby for life. It might not be regular, it might evolve, but it might also be something interesting for someone who knew me to read and take a journey through personal history and a life that might not be the most exciting but wasn’t exactly boring.

To those of you who have been around since the beginning, thank you. I’m proud to have entertained you throughout the years. For those of you who only know me in more recent years, I thank you as well. To anyone whose life I may have touched, thanks for being around.

As much as I write for myself, I write for you.