By The Numbers: Week 13, 2016

bythenumbers

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

mtg

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
smoldering1smoldering2

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
deranged_whelp

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

x2 Brazen Wolves
brazenwolves

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
embereye

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

steamawards

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:

1

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.

2

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.

3

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.

badge

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.

badge2

Did you participate? What games did you nominate?

By The Numbers: Week 12, 2016

bythenumbers

The skid continues. After a decent first half, only trailing 10-13, the Packers looked like they’d be able to close out a game for the first time in a month. But no, fate would not have it that way. By the end of the game, an 18 point deficit was too much to over come. It’s odd, considering we had Starks, Matthews, and a few other injured players missing in prior weeks back on the field, but it just wasn’t enough. The Packers are bombed and depleted, and it feels like the season could be over. But, there is still hope. The Vikings and Lions are both 6-4, and there are a few weeks left for them to drop a couple of games. At 4-6, the packers basically have to win out to even come close to hitting the playoffs, but could still go in with a 9-7 record if the rest of the cards fall just right. The only way they’re making the playoffs this year is if they win the division though, unlike other years where 10-6 or 9-7 would have been okay to get you into the playoffs as a wildcard. That doesn’t look to be the case this time around.

I thought I’d be really disappointed if we nosedived like this but it’s not bothering me all that much to be honest. You can’t expect to win all the time. You can’t expect to make the playoffs every year. If we don’t this will be the first time in 8 years, only missing the playoffs twice in ten years is something a Browns fan would kill for. It would also be kind of nice to get a higher draft pick for next year. I know injuries happen, but it seems to be the same song and dance year in and year out for this team. So here’s hoping they can pull some magic together to end this season. Hell, maybe we get hot in December and make a run. That was my thought early this season, and it hasn’t quite panned out but it is what it is. We shall see. Here’s my picks for the week:

Lions 27, Vikings 24
Cowboys 30, Redskins 20
Steelers 26, Colts 19
Falcons 27, Cardinals 20
Ravens 20, Bengals 14
Bills 23, Jags 20
Titans 26, Bears 13
Giants 42, Browns 7
Texans 21, Chargers 20
Dolphins 19, 49ers 10
Saints 32, Rams 20
Seahawks 28, Buccs 21
Patriots 34, Jets 17
Raiders 27, Panthers 16
Broncos 30, Chiefs 24
Packers 24, Eagles 17

My First Ten Hours With Civilization VI

I’ve already mentioned picking up and playing Civilization VI in my last post, but I wanted to share more of my thoughts on the game. Plenty of other people have already done so, and with the game having been out for a month or damn near, most of you probably already know if it’s a game for you or not. But perhaps I can sway a person or two who is sitting on the fence.

So, if you’ve played a Civilization game in the past, it’s likely that you’ll know what to expect already going into this new iteration. It is, in fact a Civilization game, so most of the base mechanics are similar to previous titles. This is still a 4x game. It’s still a long-term strategy endeavor. You still follow a budding civilization from it’s ancient roots into the future, and still have the traditional victory conditions. There are plenty of map types to choose from, plenty of leaders to play as (and different ones per civ, so if it’s a civilization that existed before, you will play as a different leader). Multiplayer is still available as well. In short, what you would expect is present.

People complained about Civilization V not being “done” until its final expansion released. I would agree that vanilla V compared to the game once Brave New World released are two different things. The addition of religion, new buildings and units and tweaks to the balance and AI all made the final product much better than the initial release. But these are the times we live in, and DLC/Expansions/Season Passes aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. I can say that Civ VI has taken most if not all of the ideas presented over the course of Civ V’s lifespan and included them in the base game. You don’t have to wait for an expansion to have a religion, that’s already built in. Lessons learned from prior games have already been applied.

The UI is different. The graphics and animations have been overhauled to a point where they look great, particularly if you zoom in a bit. There are idle animations all over the map, and the fog of war is more interesting than before. Unit stacking is back so you can manage your armies better and beef them up in ways that weren’t possible in the past. The research tree has been tweaked. Civics are a whole new bag. The perks that come with choosing a government are adaptable and able to be changed over the course of a game. I’ve stuck with the same militaristic government for over 400 turns and only changed individual policies when it was beneficial.

The biggest change is the way city building works. In Civ V, you would build wonders and other buildings and they would sort of be tacked onto your city in a half assed way. Now, you can see the individual buildings more clearly, and wonders and other districts actually take up tiles on the map, rather than just automatically being present on the city tile itself. This means planning your cities takes a bit more effort, and new additional build paths are available. I prefer this to just have 1000’s of farms on the free space, though finding the appropriate amenities and keeping up on housing is pretty difficult until the later stages of the game. I’m not sure how you would keep your people happy if you weren’t expanding, and were say going for a cultural victory. I suppose that would mean trading for optimal resources. Honestly, I prefer to blow shit up.

Combat hasn’t changed much, though it appears that the super death robots are no longer a thing. At least, I can’t find them on the research tree, and haven’t the ability to make them just yet. It seems that finding the necessary resources on the map is more difficult this time around. I never had a shortage of things that I needed in Civ V, but that’s a minor complaint and probably my fault that it was difficult. Really, there isn’t a whole lot new to learn, and Civ vets will pick up on the nuances fairly quickly.

I started my game as America, and using Teddy Roosevelt I have wiped both England and Norway from the map. Currently at war with the Turks, and as I set a domination victory as the only victory, it will probably take another 200 turns to wipe the remaining civs from the map. I probably should learn how to do something other than destroying everyone, but where’s the fun in that?

Here’s some screens of my playthrough thus far:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.