By The Numbers: Week 14, 2016

bythenumbers

The Packers win streak continues, but a huge challenge lies ahead. The Seahawks are coming to town, and for the past few years they have been a thorn in the team’s side. Having a home game in December when it could potentially snow could be advantageous — it was against the Texans last week. But the Seahawks are a good team and I find it hard to pick my Packers against them. However, us winning out is still needed to win the division (and I think Detroit has to lose one other game besides the game against us near the end of the season) so this is still a must-win game. Dropping this game will mean needing help from other teams to either win the division or magically squeak in as a wild card. I don’t want to even think about that after so many years in a row heading to the playoffs. Here’s my picks for the week.

Raiders 27, Chiefs 24
Steelers 28, Bills 20
Chargers 24, Panthers 17
Bengals 21, Browns 7
Bears 24, Lions 20
Colts 30, Texans 20
Vikings 31, Jags 13
Cardinals 26, Dolphins 14
Redskins 23, Eagles 19
Broncos 28, Titans 16
Jets 17, 49ers 14
Packers 24, Seahawks 20
Falcons 23, Rams 17
Saints 21, Buccs 20
Cowboys 30, Giants 23
Ravens 27, Patriots 24

The War Report: Theorycrafting – Master Trinketeer Deck

mtg

As I mentioned in my last War Report, I had intentions on sharing some of the other deck ideas I’ve brainstormed since my return to the game. My newest creation is a White/Green Thopter deck, centering around the new Kaladesh rare card, the Master Trinketeer. We’ll jump into the break down shortly, but first a small progress report. I managed to get in some playtesting this weekend, and found that not only does this deck work, but it works very well. I’ve tested and tweaked my White/Black deck the most, and it most definitely stands up to most decks, but this new creation stands to be one of my better ones. This weekend, my friend had another of his friends over who happens to play the game and I spent the entire night playing against his buddy. He had some reasonably powered decks that were standard legal, but he couldn’t beat either of those decks until he pulled out a modern legal colorless Eldrazi deck that had some mean cards in it. But that’s basically cheating, so I’ll call it a win. Still don’t know how the White/Green might stand up to my friend’s decks, but I’ll find out soon enough.

At this point, I think this deck is already mastered. My deckbuilding has improved to the point that I’m not having to make quite so many passes and tweaks on decks. The White/Black took over a month to hone down. The Blue/Black Zombie deck needs a little work still, but singles are on the way! The Red/Green Werewolf deck didn’t wreck face as much as I had hoped, but it does have promise. Some tweaks are on the way for that. This Green/White deck worked right out of the gate. Finally, I have an order being shipped that has what should be the finishing touches for the Red/Blue Energy deck I’m working on. I also dropped a little extra cash on a pretty sweet case to hold all of my decks for those times I’m on the go, and picked up some extra dice and tokens. So I think I’m done spending money on this hobby until the next expansion drops. Which is right around the corner. Anyway, let’s take a look at the new deck, shall we?

White/Green Master Trinketeer Deck

Creatures:

x4 Master Trinketeer
mastertrinketeer

It’s unfortunate that there isn’t a standard legal White/Green Planeswalker out at the moment, but perhaps the next expansion will rectify that. For now, this card is what the whole deck is based around. A 3/2 for 3 mana isn’t bad, but it’s his abilities that are what makes the deck. Combining this card with other cards that help me create servos and thopters, and suddenly I have an army. He can also create tokens himself, so when I have no other moves, I get instant 2/2 artifact creatures. 4 of these are present, and I’ve pulled one every game thus far.

x2 Toolcraft Exemplar
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I almost took this card out of the deck because it doesn’t innately provide anything for token generation. However, any servo/thopter will count as an artifact, so with one on the board this is a 3/2 for one mana. Add two more tokens on the board and he also gains first strike. It’s a no-brainer why this one works out so well, and helps this become more of an aggro deck. I’m considering adding two more of these in place of something else.

x2 Visionary Augmenter
visionaryaugmenter%5bkld%5d

I reasoned pretty quickly that using creatures with Fabricate would be very beneficial in this deck. Each time I drop one of these, it either becomes a 4/3 out of the gate, or I keep it and produce two other 1/1’s who could easily be 2/2 if a Trinketeer is on the board. Overrun them all!

x2 Cultivator of Blades
1x-mtg-cultivator-of-blades-kaladesh

The Cultivator of blades is basically the same as the more generic minion above, with Fabricate 2, however, this guy almost always wants the self buff, mainly because every time he attacks, all of your other attacking creatures get +X/+X = to his power. I.E., if he’s a 3/3 all your other minions get +3/+3. Throw a Larger Than Life on him, and say good night unless they have some instant board clear.

x2 Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter
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I don’t really like running more than one of any particular legendaries due to the rules about only having one at a time, but this card is a mini version of the Trinketeer. A 1/2 for one mana, but has the ability to create servos or hulking constructs dependant on rushing out tons of minions. Another way to help finish off the game quickly.

Artifacts:

x4 Snare Thopter
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The reason there aren’t a bunch of green or white creatures in the deck is because there are plenty of thopter options in the artifacts department. These 3/2 flyers with haste are going to be nasty with some of the passive buffs I have in the deck.

x4 Ovalchase Dragster
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I haven’t really used any vehicles in my decks yet. It’s an alright mechanic, but in most cases I haven’t seen where I’d rather have a Vehicle in place of another spell or creature. However, these ones feel like they will fit nicely with the deck’s theme. A crew cost of only 1 means any of my readily available servo/thopter tokens can crew this beast for an easy 6 damage, and depending on circumstance, that trample damage might end the game.

x2 Inventor’s Goggles
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I have had a few copies of this card lying around for a while. All of my creatures that are white or green are Artificers, so it felt appropriate to add some of these to the deck. It can help keep the important ones alive, and it’s cheap and reusable.

x2 Chief of the Foundry
chiefofthefoundry

Another card I’m considering adding two more of. Between these and the Trinketeers, I should be able to create an army of cheap to make but progressively stronger minions. Feels perfect for the deck.

x2 Pilgrim’s Eye
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Honestly, this card was thrown in just because it’s a Thopter. But a 1/1 for 3 that searches for land isn’t too hot. Will likely drop these for more Chiefs or Exemplars.

x2 Animation Module
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This artifact feels to fit in with the deck as well. Earning +1/+1 counters via fabricate should happen pretty often, and each time it does, I can create more servos. It also has the ability to multiply counters, so I threw two in the deck.

x1 Whirlermaker
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Another way to make thopters, just to add to the pain.

Spells:

x4 Servo Exhibition
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Another bread and butter card for the deck, this one gives two 1/1’s for two mana, and was a no brainer addition.

x4 Built to Last
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As most of my creatures are going to need some sort of pumping up at some point, and since I plan to make tons of artifact creatures, this spell felt right at home. Making a creature just big enough to get a kill but then also having the ability to protect an artifact creature from dying is amazing for 1 mana.

x2 Collective Effort
collectiveeffort

I really like this card but have yet to use it in a game. It has some synergy with cards like Animation Module and provides some control. I like the fact that it’s situational and can do multiple things.

x2 Engineered Might
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Another situational card that blends well and is the only dual color card I have in the deck.  The ability to make one creature huge or all a little bigger will come in handy.

For lands I have a pretty standard split of Forests and Plains, along with a couple dual lands from recent expansions. I also added in my lone Inventor’s Fair, which is a land you can tap for colorless mana, but also gives a little sustain by granting one life each turn if you control 3 or more artifacts. It also can be sacrificed to search for an artifact from the deck, but it’s likely I won’t use it for that.

So there you have it. I’ll be back again after I get some more games in. Til then, happy gaming!

 

By The Numbers: Week 13, 2016

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This year, Thanksgiving was spent with family and I didn’t even watch football. I did watch the Packers play on Monday night however, where the cheeseheads finally stopped their losing streak and put on a show in Philly. The defense definitely has holes. The running game is non-existent… but dammit if I’m not proud of what the team can do when it faces its toughest adversity. Give it up for Ripkowski, a full back (a dying position in the league) getting his first – and the teams first by a back (Rodgers has run in 3 himself) touchdown. Give it up for Adams, who’s head I was personally calling for earlier this season, who is finally turning into the player they said he could be. Give it up for Rodgers most of all, for putting the team on his shoulders once again, but this time willing them to victory. Let’s not focus on the shitty month of football they just had. Let’s focus on the fact that at 5-6, they’re still in the playoff hunt. And if this team gets hot like it did a few years back… look out!

This week’s opposition is the Texans at Lambeau, and I expect a victory. I expect the team to win week in and week out and we all know how hard that is to do. But they’re my team and I always feel like we will be victorious. It’s been hard to pick my team each week knowing that they would probably drop some, and a few weeks ago I would have thought the division would already be theirs and this game would be fairly meaningless (and an easy win). Knowing what I know now, it’s likely that this will still be a challenging game, particularly because the Texans are a game up on the Pack, but I’m fairly certain that we come out of the match 6-6. Time will tell. Here’s my picks for the week:

Cowboys 28, Vikings 13
Falcons 27, Chiefs 24
Saints 24, Lions 21
Patriots 30, Rams 10
Broncos 24, Jags 7
Packers 27, Texans 13
Bengals 23, Eagles 14
Ravens 21, Dolphins 17
Bears 20, 49ers 16
Raiders 31, Bills 19
Steelers 26, Giants 20
Redskins 30, Cardinals 21
Chargers 23, Buccs 20
Seahawks 33, Panthers 13
Colts 21, Jets 9

The War Report: Theorycrafting – Werewolves

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I’ve been consistently playing Magic The Gathering with my friend lately, and that’s meant plenty of playtesting for the various decks that I’ve created. We’ve stuck with “Standard” legality, meaning the cards from the current block and the last two are the only ones that we can select cards from. My friend has two decks so far and only one that is really dominant. I have been testing my decks against that one primarily and have had mixed results. One of the biggest (and most fun) parts of playing MTG is theorycrafting, which goes hand in hand with deckbuilding. For me, theorycrafting starts with a card or cards that have a large impact on a game. Building a deck around those cards or themes is more difficult than it might seem, but isn’t so difficult that it’s overwhelming.

In my time back with the game, I’ve managed to create a White/Black “Lifegain” deck that has been the most consistent. I threw together a Blue/Red control deck that has since been decommissioned in order to turn it into an energy themed deck. My Blue/Black Zombies deck has seen some iteration but feels pretty complete at this point. I’ve also slapped together a Red/Green Werewolf deck and am waiting on a shipment of singles to complete a White/Green Thopter deck. Each deck started with a handful of cards that had synergy, and was then filled with whatever sounded good. From there, playtesting occurred to the point where I could find weaknesses with my build and change the deck accordingly. This has been an ongoing process, but it has resulted in some pretty cool decks in my humble opinion.

My current labor of love is the Red/Green Werewolf deck. I saw that I had quite a few werewolf or werewolf-themed cards, and the majority of those were Red or Green. It turns out that many of the spells that would affect other werewolves affected normal wolves as well, so they were a shoo in for addition to the deck. Really, that’s all there was to it, but buying up singles to shore up a deck is definitely the way to go. I’ve had foundations for decks emerge from packs, but getting them dialed in requires particular cards, and paying $0.25 each for most singles isn’t breaking the bank.

I thought I’d take the time to break this deck down a bit, and go over the cards and my thought processes. I intend to do this for the other decks as well, but for now, let’s dive into it.

Red/Green Werewolf Deck

Creatures:

x1 Arlinn Kord/Arlinn, Embraced by the Moon (Planeswalker)arlinn-kord

Planeswalkers are just plain cool. They act as more of an enchantment than anything, though they are able to utilize abilities and also take damage. The only weakness lies in their inability to attack, though their abilities tend to make up for that. Knowing I was building a R/G Werewolf deck and finding this legal Planeswalker meant including it was a gimmie. Everything on this card will interact well with other cards that have been included.

x1 Shrill Howler/Howling Chorusshrill

Most of these cards that I only have one of were those acquired through packs. At this point, the deck theoretically works. Further playtesting will find which cards aren’t so hot and which ones I should add more of. It’s a simple process of elimination. Having a 3/1 for 3 mana isn’t great, but the fact that little weenies can’t block it is nice, and once it transforms it’s a nice token generator.

x1 Kessig Prowler/Sinuous Predatorkessig-prowler-sinuous-predator-p234495-200846_image

A 2/1 for 1 mana is a decent drop. Transformation is a bit expensive, but a 4/4 with menace isn’t bad. Given the waxing moon cards that I’ve included, it might be able to transform for cheaper, and that’s always nice. I like these werewolves that transform for mana rather than other circumstances, but they tend to be on the pricey side. I’m hoping the spells included in this deck will slow the game down to give me time to get a transformed army going.

x1 Hermit of the Natterknolls/Lone Wolf of the Natterknollshermit

I really like the Hermit, not only because it’s a 2/3 for 3 mana, but the card draw is nice. It gets better after transformation, but this is one of the cards where I can’t control the transformation, so I’m not sure how well these will work in practice. This will be reported on later.

x2 Smoldering Werewolf/Erupting Dreadwolf
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This guy feels like I should add 2 more to the deck. A 3/2 for 4 mana that also deals 2 damage on summon is great. After transforming you get the 2 direct damage every time it attacks. Good shit.

x2 Gatstaf Arsonists/Gatstaf Ravagersgatstaf_arsonists

Probably one of the first to go if they prove less useful, a 5/4 for 5 mana isn’t terrible, but the 6/5 with menace transformer is pretty good. We’ll see how this one pans out.

x2 Convicted Killer/Branded Howler
convicted1convicted2

Another common, and also one that might not make the cut. A 2/2 for 3 isn’t great, but getting that bonus from the transformation might make it worthwhile. It really depends on how the spell casting goes each turn. That’s one thing I’ll say about this deck, it should be interesting, but not necessarily the best.

x2 Ulvenwald Captive/Ulvenwald Abominationulvenwald

I actually like this one quite a bit. A 1/2 for 2 mana isn’t amazing, but having a defender is sometimes useful, particularly because it can be used to generate mana. Transforming it will give you two mana per tap along with allowing it to attack, and it’s beefed up to a 4/6. Feels worth it, and I think I’ll be adding 2 more of these down the road.

x2 Tangleclaw Werewolf/Fibrous Entangler
tangleclaw1tangleclaw2

This is another werewolf I rather enjoy. A 2/4 for 4 mana, this bad boy can block twice. Once transformed, he then has vigilance (no tapping for attacks), must be blocked, and can still block twice. Awesome.

x2 Silverfur Partisan
silverfurpartisan

Not quite a werewolf, and not quite a wolf, but this 2/2 for 3 mana is pretty nice. Trample seems a little silly at first, but given some of the other spells in the deck it will come in handy. The passive is the real bonus, where any of my creatures getting targeted by a spell gives me a free 2/2 token.

x2 Deranged Whelp
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A 2/1 with menace for 2 mana. Cannon fodder. Nuff said.

x2 Brazen Wolves
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These guys are nice as a 2/3 for 3 mana isn’t bad, but each time it attacks, it’s instantly a 4/3.

x2 Ember-Eye Wolf
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A 1/2 with haste for 2 mana is nice because that’s instant damage. Having the mana to pump him up means potential big-damage to the face, or at least the ability to kill a big creature of the opponent’s.

x2 Spirit of the Hunt
spiritofthehunt

I really enjoy this card. A 3/3 for 3 mana that gives an instant health boost to the rest of my creatures for a turn. It also has flash, meaning it can be cast like an instant, even on the opposing player’s turn.

I’m sure you can see by now the sorts of interactions I’m expecting to have with these creatures, as they all have benefits for each other or at least are the same type so that all of my other spells will benefit every last one. Speaking of spells, let’s jump into those:

Spells:

x2 Rabid Bite
rabidbite

I’m fascinated by the whole “fight” mechanic. This isn’t that exactly, but these are the types of cards I wanted to include in this deck. Basically you take the power of your creature and do that much damage to another creature. Nice way to destroy those pesky creatures with abilities that normally keep them out of reach.

x3 Prey Upon
preyupon

This is the actual “fight” mechanic. It essentially forces a creature to fight your creature, so used in the right circumstance, you will live and their creature will die.

x2 Waxing Moon
waxingmoon

This card is sort of a double whammy. Not only do I get to pick a werewolf to instantly transform, but all of the creatures on my board get trample. Good stuff.

x3 Larger Than Life
largerthanlife

This is the mother of all pump cards. +4/+4 plus trample to any of my creatures. Not as good as giant growth from back in the day when it was an instant, but still a nice addition to this deck.

x1 Howlpack Resurgence
howlpack

As enchantments go, adding a +1/+1 counter to every creature on your side of the board is nice. Getting trample in addition is also nice. What’s really great about this card though, is having flash attached to it. Between this and Spirit of the Hunt, the opponent is gonna have to watch out.

x2 Giant Spectacle
giantspectacle

These enchants coincide with the fact that I have plenty of other cards giving menace, trample and pumps. So why not add a few more?

x2 Structural Distortion
structuraldistortion

The only real form of control that I’ve added to the deck, I thought it would be nice to not only be able to destroy those pesky artifacts and vehicles, but also to slow the game down by destroying land. The direct damage is just a bonus.

x2 Creeping Mold
creepingmold

Essentially the green version of the same card, it swaps the ability to do direct damage with the ability to destroy an enchantment. Still nice.

Lands:
x2 Timber Gorge
x1 Cinder Glade
x9 Mountain
x9 Forest

Lands are pretty basic. I have 3 multi-colored lands, and the rest are normal.

That’s about it for this write up. What do you think of this deck? Think it will work out? I’ll be back with more deck breakdowns soon.

The Steam Awards

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Coinciding with the annual Steam Autumn Sale (not to be confused with the annual Steam Summer Sale or Holiday/Winter Sale) where discounts are aplenty, this year there was a new activity to partake in: The Steam Awards. Apparently Valve have decided that we should be able to nominate games of any age for various categories, and rather than restrict the categories to “best-evers” they have created ones with a little more character. I’m not sure if this will be a new annual tradition, but I assume that this is a lead up for the Xmas sale, and those games that get the most nominations will be put up for votes during that sale (or perhaps before). Then, we’ll see discounts on those sorts of games. This sort of defeats the purpose if we are in fact voting for games that will get discounts, because to nominate a game we probably should be familiar with it. Perhaps they will make sales revolve around that publisher or that game series if it is a part of that sort of thing. Or maybe they’ll just let us give some games awards, and then do it all over again next year. It’s interesting though, that there isn’t any sort of age restriction. The categories lent themselves to picking older games, but at the same time, the reason there are awards given each year is because they only judge games created or released during that calendar year. If we do this again next year, what would motivate us to nominate something else unless it was completely separate categories? Perhaps I’m overthinking this. Let’s talk about the categories:

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There are a total of 9 categories to vote in, and you can either search through your library or browse the store to navigate to each game’s page. From there you will nominate that game for whichever category you want to plug it into, and there you have it. There isn’t any sort of monitoring going on with the submissions, as it seems that you can willingly vote for things that you do not have in your steam library (but hey, maybe you played it elsewhere) and you can take liberties in putting things where you want them to go. So if you feel like the game that best stands the test of time came out in 2016, well you can go ahead and vote that way. I took the categories quite literally, and since there is no explanation given in these screen shots, I thought I’d break them down for ya.

From the top, we have the Test of Time award which I gave to Skyrim. I have played this game off and on for a few years now, still haven’t really touched the mod scene, and really want to jump into a special edition campaign but haven’t just yet. I still feel like I’ll be coming back to this one for years to come.

For I’m Not Crying, There’s Something In My Eye, I nominated the first season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead, mainly because it was the only game from recent memory that had some tear jerker moments in it, though I probably would have gone with The Last of Us if it wasn’t a Playstation exclusive.

Next was the Just 5 More Minutes award, which was a gimme. I could have easily chosen Civ V, but since Civ VI is newer I gave it the nod.

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For Whoooaaaaaaa, dude! I had to go with this year’s rendition of DOOM. id knocked this one out of the park. Loved it.

My Villain Most In Need of A Hug nomination went to Borderlands 2, because I absolutely loved Handsome Jack.

It was a hard choice to make, but I ended up going with a Call of Duty game for the Game Within A Game award. I really don’t want Call of Duty games getting much credit for anything these days, but I have to admit that Treyarch make a hell of a game within a game with their Zombies mode. So many easter eggs, puzzles and challenges to overcome. I love it.

For I Thought This Game Was Cool Before It Won An Award I gave the nod to Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide. I absolutely adored this game and put quite a few co-op hours into it with Eri. We had a blast. We seriously need to go give it another whirl because there have been new DLC additions that I have installed but have not tried. Will be back for more. Does this really fit the category? I don’t know. But you should play this game anyway.

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In the weirdest category by far, there is the Best Use Of A Farm Animal award. I’m thinking they were leaning towards games like Goat Simulator or some of the other farmy-crafty games but I just took the literal definition and gave a nod to a game I’d love to see get more recognition: Nuclear Throne. Where’s the farm animal angle you ask? Well, one of the characters is a chicken, and that happens to be one of my favorites. A chicken is a farm animal. So there.

Last but not least, was our own custom category. The FAQ points towards the most nominations for similar categories will win, or they will all be put into a hat and drawn from. I seriously doubt someone at valve is going to print out millions of suggestions and throw them into a hat, so it will likely be done electronically with some RNG. Either way, should be interesting to see what comes out of that. I was bland and boring, just wanting to nominate my most played Steam game to date: Awesomenauts. I called the category “Best MOBA,” and it’s likely the best MOBA (outside of maybe DOTA 2 — which I don’t play) on the Steam platform.

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Of course, as with most activities on Steam, this one comes with a checklist of tasks to complete to level up your badge. 1 Nomination, 9 Nominations, reviewing a Nomination and playing a Nomination earns you 100xp and a level 4 “Steam Awards Nomination Commitee” badge.

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Did you participate? What games did you nominate?