By The Numbers: Superbowl LII

I finally managed to watch some playoff football this weekend, and wow, talk about controversy! Firstly, let’s check my picks and then we’ll get to the details.

Patriots 31, Chiefs 28 – Correct
Saints 30, Rams 27

I almost managed to pick both games correctly, but honestly the results should have been reversed. The Saints were completely robbed, when this happened:

How that doesn’t get called, I’ll never know. Whatever the case, this ended with them having to kick a field goal, and magically the Rams managed to get down the field in under two minutes in order to kick for the tie. Apparently the Saints didn’t put up much of a struggle in Overtime, but I didn’t catch that part. I did however watch the Pats/Chiefs game from start to finish, and it was turning into a good game by the fourth quarter. The Chiefs were simply fucked by officiating. First there was this:

Seriously, this is worse than the penalties to Clay Matthews that were happening at the beginning of the season. Where was he being roughed up? What a joke. Then to make things worse, this put the Patriots in position to tie the game and send it to overtime, but then a late flag comes down after the Chiefs intercepted Brady with under a minute to play in regulation. They should have sealed the deal right there, and honestly we should be seeing an NO/KC superbowl rather than the one we’re getting.

My pick for the winner of the Superbowl:

Rams 30, Patriots 24

I’ll probably watch it still, but I’m over this season. I can’t wait for September. After the big game I’ll do my tabulations for my season and this column will go back into hibernation.

The Walking Dead: Final Season Episode 3

We learned back in September that Telltale Games was going bankrupt. This meant that despite the first two episodes of The Walking Dead’s Final Season were out and playable, the game would not be finished. Thankfully, Skybound — a company founded by the creator of the series –decided to go ahead and make a games division specifically to finish off the series (and I assume, create other gaming experiences). This was good news for fans like me, who just wanted to see the end of Clementine’s story, a story that started way back in 2012 with the first season of the game series. I’ve talked about my experiences with the first two episodes already, but I recently completed the third and thought I would jot down some notes to chronicle this.

As with the rest of the series, we’re not seeing anything new here, just more of the same interactive story game that we’ve all become accustomed to. The Walking Dead is one of my favorite pieces of media. I’ve always enjoyed a good zombie horror story, but what I’ve always appreciated about the comics, the TV series, and this game series is that there is less of a focus on the dead, and more of a focus on the human struggle of living in this post apocalyptic world. The human element and emotions that have been stirred within me while consuming this media is second to none. I haven’t nearly shed tears with any other medium.

Clementine has grown into a capable young woman. She is no longer the child that Lee protected from the world, and instead is the protector of AJ — a child she has watched over for years. Now in Lee’s shoes, she even has dreams where she is able to commune with him for guidance, and his pride shows despite merely being a figment of her subconscious. It’s touching to see his reactions to her all grown up, compared to the child he once knew. He (I) did a good job in raising her, and now it’s her (my) turn to raise AJ. This has been tricky, due to the sheer amount of shit that is thrown our way, but I have done my best not to turn him into a little psycho.

As the last episode closed, raiders had taken members of our group, and the children at the school were shaken to say the least. I met a mysterious boy named James who is a “whisperer,” in that he is able to walk among the dead without alerting them to his presence. He reveals more of himself and his past in this episode, and I grew to like him despite his odd lifestyle choice. As the appointed leader of the school group, this episode focused on the plan to rescue our friends, and making preparations to do so. Without spoiling too much, it turns out that our friends are being held on a boat by the raiders, and Lilly seems to be the expedition leader. Despite letting me go earlier in the season, she is not willing to let us get our friends back. A plan is hatched and the attack on the boat happens and seems to do so without any issue until one of their soldiers (who used to be a member of the school group) spoils things. This leads to a confrontation with Lilly and ultimately, the death of another person. I simply wanted AJ to show some mercy, but Lilly wasn’t going down that road.

James got caught up in our struggle, and though I think he probably would have been a great addition to the group, unfortunately Lilly showed no mercy. However, the episode ended with a bomb that we had put into the boiler going off, and we really don’t know what’s happened to anyone. We can assume that the three characters we came to rescue made it off of the boat, but as I was trying to save AJ, Tenn was also involved and James was killed. The bomb went off and threw Clem into a wall, so we can assume she lives, along with the others, but it will likely take some time to gather everyone back up. My ending results showed that most of the other characters were MIA, along with some base stats like usual:

It seems that my choices were mostly in-line with other players this time around, but I don’t like the fact that we don’t really know where anyone else is. I guess that’s why there are typically cliffhanger endings between episodes, so we’ll be kept guessing until the next comes out. I know that I’m looking forward to the finale and the closure of the story, I just hope Clem doesn’t end up like Lee. But I supposed anything is possible. They haven’t said exactly when the next episode will come out, but I assume it will be released within the next couple of months. I’ll report back once I’ve completed it.

TWR: Judith Aristocrats

With Ravnica Allegiance fully spoiled, we’ve seen a handful of new legendary creatures emerge, and there are a couple of those that I felt were deserving of their own decks. Some look to be better in the 99 of existing decks as well, but I’m going to focus on one of the new legendary creatures in particular today: Judith, the Scourge Diva.

There are two reasons why I chose to brew a deck around this particular creature. The first, is because I haven’t really brewed a proper Rakdos deck before. There was that Grenzo budget build I put down on paper but never actually built, so I’m not going to count that one. The second reason I decided to roll with Judith is because she lends herself quite readily to an “aristocrats” theme, which typically revolves around sacrificing creatures to drain out your opponents (among other variations). Let’s take a look at her abilities. She’s a 2/2 for 3 CMC which is in “hate bear” territory (this card would also be a solid add to Alesha and Marchesa Decks (both of which I have)). She buffs our creature’s power by 1 each, but that’s not really a big deal. What really matters here is her second ability, which reads “Whenever a nontoken creature you control dies, Judith deals 1 damage to any target.” It would have been nice if that line of text didn’t contain the word “nontoken” but it is still powerful, particularly because you’re able to target anything with this ability. So this means we want to sacrifice creatures often and bring them back from the graveyard to make loops if possible. Here are some creatures that can make these loops possible:

Recursion Loop Creatures:

With Reassembling Skeleton, for instance, you can sacrifice him to your favorite sac outlet, and for the low cost of 1B, you can bring him back to the battlefield to do it again. With Phyrexian Altar you’ll only need one colorless mana to do this. If you have Ashnod’s Altar you’ll instead need to come up with the black mana to recur. There are ways around these mana limitations, but we’ll get to that later. Each of the above creatures can be brought back from the graveyard to the battlefield once particular requirements are met, and it’s not difficult to do so. As long as we have one of these creatures, a sacrifice outlet and our commander on the board, we can theoretically ping players to death, but it will take some time. Speaking of sac outlets, let’s get to those:

Sacrifice Outlets:

These are the majority of the sac outlets I’ve included in the deck. The two Altars I mentioned in the last section, along with Viscera Seer (allows us to Scry), Yahenni (gives himself indestructible), Sadistic Hypnotist (causes an opponent to discard two cards), and Attrition (allows us to destroy target nonblack creature). There are also two lands that help us out, Phyrexian Tower (gives BB) and High Market (gain 1 life). When you need a sac outlet, this many packed into the deck should assure you can find one quickly. But is it enough to just rely on our commander and sac outlets to win games? I think we need some added insurance.

Death Triggers:

Each of these cards has a trigger on the death of one of our creatures. So when we sacrifice something with our commander on the board, we get extra value, and if she has been killed off and we can’t afford the commander tax, some of these cards will do similar things. Blood Artist, Zulaport Cutthroat and Vindictive Vampire will all drain our opponents when creatures die, along with gaining us some life. Grim Haurspex and Harvester of Souls will both draw us cards on deal. Pawn of Ulamog and Pitiless Plunderer will get us tokens to sac for mana (and can aid in those mana costs for our loop creatures from earlier. Grave Pact and Dictate of Erebos will cause our opponents to sacrifice creatures when we do, and can be basically board wipes for us. Lastly, Black Market can get us some serious mana, but it will have to be used each turn before combat (which shouldn’t be a problem).

Cannon Fodder:

Despite the fact that Judith wants nontoken creatures to die, there’s no reason why we can’t use other token creatures to feed our altars and make us some extra mana! These three cards were added to the deck to do just that, because each will create tokens for us to use for mana. I didn’t want to include too many of this style of card but a few seems just right.

Other Recursion:

Because not all of our creatures can be recurred from the graveyard so easily, I’ve added some redundancy here. Balthor and Garna can single-handedly bring back a swathe of creatures at once, which Whisper is good in conjunction with the cannon fodder above. Sac two tokens and return a creature directly to the battlefield (and if it’s a token producer, even better!). Mikaeus is a great card that will give nearly everything in this deck undying, so expect him to be a target. Palace Siege will recur once a turn, and Phyrexian Reclamation can do multiple creatures in a turn provide you have the mana (and life) but each will only get those cards back to your hand, so it’s sort of slow (still welcome).

Other Fun Stuff:

This last section is some “good stuff” in these colors. The couple of bits of equipment that give deathtouch are meant from Judith, as her pings can kill anything with one damage. Nim Deathmantle is great for graveyard shenanigans and this is well documented. I added Mogis because he forces more damage or sacrifice down opponent’s throats and that felt on theme. Captive Audience is a new card that is simply fucked and I can’t wait to use it. I also added Sower of Discord just as a nice way to ping two opponents at once instead of just one, so it should help to speed things up, particularly if you get a loop going.

So that’s that. I’ve added a pretty standard Rakdos removal package (the new Bedevil, Terminate, Dreadbore, Hero’s Downfall, etc) otherwise. I think it will be a fairly decent build but nothing top tier. What do you guys think? What new legendaries are you excited from from the new set?

By The Numbers: Championship Weekend 2018

Somehow or another I still have yet to watch any playoff football. I did manage to keep track of the scores though, and this week I am happy to announce a perfect score for the first time ever, I think.

Chiefs 24, Colts 20 – Correct
Rams 30, Cowboys 21 – Correct
Patriots 27, Chargers 14 – Correct
Saints 31, Eagles 24 – Correct

I honestly believed that the Colts and the Chargers didn’t belong in the playoffs in the first place, despite winning their Wildcard games. The Cowboys losing to the Rams wasn’t a huge surprise, but at the same time I didn’t really know which way that game was going to go. I called the Eagles’ playoff magic being over correctly, but it actually looked like they might pull it off for a while there. Whatever the case, I did good for the week, and I’ll be happy to add these correct picks to my season total. Next up are the Championship games, and well, we’ve seen several of these teams in this position before. Here are my picks:

Patriots 31, Chiefs 28
Saints 30, Rams 27

I hate the Patriots. I think everyone in the country outside of New England feels this way. It’s unreal how many times Brady has been to the Superbowl. It’s unreal that they do this year after year. I’m always happy when another team manages to knock them down a peg, but in the AFC there just aren’t that many competitors it seems. The NFC has seen quite a few different teams come to this point, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen the Saints there. I would rather the Saints win than the Rams, and I would rather the Chiefs won over the Patriots. I see the Saints being able to do so. I don’t see the Chiefs surviving the weekend. Either way, we’ll see what happens. I’m fairly confident these picks are the way things will pan out. We’ll have one last pick to make going into the Superbowl, and by this time next month I’ll be able to go over my summary of the season. Until then.

Thoughts on Looney Tunes: World of Mayhem

I’ve been pretty happy with the mobile games I’ve been playing as of late. Clash Royale is still my #1 go-to and has been for over two years now — it gets regular updates and has improved over time for the most part. SEGA Heroes is a more recent addition to my phone, but I have been playing it diligently for almost two months. I don’t think I’ll be quitting anytime soon either, as it has a good balance of playability and time gating. It doesn’t feel overwhelming nor does it get boring. I’m actually pretty equally invested in this one as I am in CR.  With that said, I think I have finally found a solid third option for my rotation, and that game is Looney Tunes: World of Mayhem.

The general story of the game is that Marvin the Martian has come to earth and was up to something dastardly, and Bugs Bunny comes along and accidentally stops him. In the process, Marvin’s machine blows up and destroys the world to some extent. It’s up to you to “reatomize” the other Looney Tunes and put things right. What this means is that you’ll only start off with a couple of toons and have to find extra shards to reatomize the others. You’ll eventually be able to use teams of four toons to fight your battles.

I wanted to show off some of the combat animations (which are fairly interesting) but my screenshotting was a little slow on the draw and I couldn’t ever capture one at the right time. There is an assortment of basic abilities that range from clubs to canes to safes and other wacky shit you’ll remember from the cartoons. Special abilities are more lengthy animations and range from taunts to heals to buffs. This is really just what you would expect from an ATB JRPG. Turn gauges are under each toon’s health bar, and once that fills it’s that toon’s turn to act. Basic attacks don’t have a cooldown, but other special abilities do. You’ll open new skills and passives as you level up the toons.

Toons are separated by various characteristics, being attackers, defenders, or supports. They also have relationships with other toons, where sometimes their special attacks are able to affect particular enemies. For instance, Bugs Bunny has a special attack that does decent damage to any enemy, but if you target an Elmer Fudd character, you will also stun him. When I say “an Elmer Fudd character,” this is because there are multiple versions of the individual toons, which coincides with the mountain of source material (cartoons) from the years these cartoons were produced. One version of Daffy Duck might be an attacker, and another will be a support and so on.

Besides a story campaign, where you will earn star ratings (1-3 depending on performance), there are a couple of other game modes that are packed in. There is a sort-of PvP mode called “Brawl” where you try to attack other player’s chests to steal them. I guess I should mention that you will get chests delivered to you a couple of times a day and those chests are placed on “banks” where you have to set up a team of defenders. You can in turn attack other teams of defenders to steal crates for yourself, but you can only set them up with defenders if you have an open bank. You’ll start with only the one, but more will open as time goes by. There leaderboards for this Brawls mode and you’ll get rewards based on your ranking on a daily basis. There’s a league store where you can buy goodies as well. The banks coincide with the world map, where your toons go in between fights. You can set up their own unique burrows as well, and then send them on “tasks” which are time gated and will earn you more supplies, gold and shards. There are various supplies that are required to level up skills and passives for your tunes (along with gold), and then there are XP potions that are used to level them up individually. Obviously the gold is the in-game currency, but as there are a bunch of things that are time gated, this means there has to be an RMT currency (as is the norm). That currency is Gems, and of course there are plenty of ways to spend them if you’re impatient. There’s a store but I think it’s pretty fair overall (and I haven’t felt the need to speed things up because I’m used to other games trying to get me to spend money for nothing).

There are multiple pages of store offers, but there are bits and bobs that are available for free (daily login rewards and crates mostly) and some that are available for gold (XP potions). There are some reasonably priced packages that will get you some goodies but it seems like you can progress pretty well without spending any money. From time to time you’ll get golden tickets that you can spin a wheel for, and also get a daily ticket by completing the daily tasks every day which will get you more toon shards and whatnot. As you level your account, you’ll also eventually be able to join an Alliance, which does bring some benefits. Later still, Challenges and special campaigns open up and give you more options that flesh out the game. Overall I’ve been enjoying it and have been playing it the entire month and have already progressed quite well, but I’ll save that progress for a State of the Game post that will be coming soon. Until then, I bid you farewell. Happy Gaming!