Cool New Dice (now imageless!)

Edit: After fighting with blogger I have given up on getting the images to work. I'm going to go back to imageless posts until I can get a reliable way of displaying the images.
At Gen Con I picked up some new dice.

First I picked up a set of hand carved Fudge Dice at the Q-Workshop booth. They are pretty sweet looking. They have a few flaws (I got the last set) but they are still a really great set.

I also picked up a new Fudge GM set to use when I play Spirit of the Century. I know I am a little geeky about dice but I am super pleased with this set because the sets of fudge dice are all either left or right handed. The last Fudge GM set I purchased had a mixture of left and right handed dice in each set which drove me crazy. [editors note: I am seeking help.] The dice were also super cheap - about 25% less than I can get them locally.

Finally I picked up a World of Warcraft dice set. The dice are meant to be counters for the World of Warcraft card game. The container for the dice is a chest like you would find in the game. The set looks Great.


Gen Con 2007

Edit: Something is going wrong with the images so I have pulled them and I will republish with the pictures once I know what is going wrong.

Edit: Images fixed

I had the pleasure of going to Gen Con this year.

I was volunteering at the tNook booth but I managed to escape the booth and spend a good deal of time and money on the exhibition floor.

Some of my favorite places to visit:

The IPR (Indie Press Revolution) booth. I purchased both Spirit of the Century and The Burning Wheel. I got to speak with Greg Porter about EABA and I got to meet Ben Seth Ezra and ton of others.

I also got to meet a young lady named Julia. Julia Bond Ellingboe write a new game called "Steal Away Jordan". Based on slaves and slavery it is a well written and well done book from all I have been able to see. It might be a bit scary to actually play the game but discovering some of the scarier bits of a life of slavery might not be a bad thing for a middle aged white Canadian. I never got to play the game with Julia as I had hoped to but I hope that this one is a big success for her and that she keeps writing new games.

I also got to meet Rob Donoghue, Fred Hicks, and Lenny Balsera and each of them offered to run a demo of "Spirit of the Century" with me. My biggest regret of the Con was not playing with them. Maybe next year. Each were really great and were good enough to sign my new hard cover. Lenny even asked me to bear his children.

I also got to meet Luke Crane he was demoing Burning Wheel and I got to watch a demo and got to talk to him a bit about the game. He also signed my burning wheel.

I seemed to visit the IPR booth everyday except Sunday. Sunday was the UDE volenteer meeting - more on that in another post.

I also spent some time watching a demo of Fudge by Ann Dupuis. Ann has done more for FUDGE over the years than maybe any other publisher.

I also got to see a lot of pretty cool new toys. UDE had the next raid and expansion set on display. One of the biggest surprises is that the booster packs will go from 15 to 19 cards with the Legion expansion. The UDE booth had a quest challenge with 8 questions and if you were one of the top 50 to complete 5 of the 8 questions you got a Fires of Outland playmat. Since tNook had 5 of the 8 answers in the WoW card database so it was pretty easy for me to complete the quests.

UDE also has BIG plans for VS with the release of a Galactus deck that is designed to be battled like a raid deck in WoW. I am learning to play VS just so I can play against the Galactus decks.

Wizkids had a bunch of really cool things on display including the Halo Action Clix Scarab vehicle. They had the Fin Fang Foom again for sale and it is a really nice looking giant size piece. I can't wait to take a team against him to see if we can tame the dragon.

Blizzard had the new expansion available for people to try and it was almost always packed to the rafters in the Blizzard booth. I got to watch for a bit but did not get to play. They also had Starcraft II and it looks completely awesome. I wish my PC was even close to playing that game.
One surprise was a game called the continuum. I took a quick look at it but later on Sunday both myself and Troy went and got to play in a demo. It looks really cool. It is not a splashy game but the tactics and strategy of the game will keep me interested. I spent close to a half hour playing the demo and it was a lot of fun. I didn't know it at the time but the guy stepping me through the demo was the CEO of the company.

I think some of the most fun came in the tNook booth. After I had purchased Spirit of the Century I put it out on the table and several people stopped to talk about the game or ask about it. Especially after it had won an Ennie award. We got to meet a lot of really great people. Some people would stop by a second or third time to ask more questions or because they had an idea about something else. Now I am in contact with some of those same people as I build new tNooks, which is totally cool - more on that in another post too.

To cap off the weekend I me a young man named Alex at the Indianapolis airport. He had gotten several loot bags at Gen Con and each bag contained a World of Warcraft starter deck. Along with Troy I was able to teach him the basics of the game and coach him in a game against Troy. I hope Alex keeps playing and had as much fun as I did.

The Con really sparked in me a new desire to roleplay on a regular basis again so I hope to have an online game of Spirit of the Century or Burning Wheel up and running in the near future as time allows.


"Gatecrasher" and "Believe It Or Else"

For some reason I missed the part about the recent transfer/sale of Seraphim Guard that said that Gatecrasher reverts to Richard Gazely. I am curious what will become of these games. I really liked the mix of fantasy and technology presented by these games.

I never quite liked the slapstick nature of the setting (I liked the humor but I would rather it be a bit more muted than the books portrayed) but playing the game serious or with a comedic flavor could be done.

There were some things about the setting I really liked:
1. Magic and Technology together.
2. The back stories were great.
3. The humor - Church of the Game and all.

There were some things about the game that I didn't like:
1. It is the crunchiest Fudge game I have ever seen.
2. More technology means less magic and vice versa.

I just grabbed the books from my bookshelf and I am going to re-read them as soon as I am finished reading through "Spirit of the Century".


Writing Software

I am looking at treating myself to some new software for NaNoWriMo this year but I am having difficulty finding a package I like. I am looking at the different writing packages and seeing if they fit my needs. One difficulty I am having is I am not 100% sure of what features I want. I am looking at portable wikis as well as professional writing packages.

I also am looking at what the professionals use. I am more than a little surprised that many of the professionals use simple text editors or plain word processors.

In a perfect world the tool would also let me write blog posts.

For portable wikis:
I have used WikidPad before. I stopped using it when I started using jotspot and google docs. I might give it another try. I liked the tool but I found I was spending a lot of time learning the tool and its secrets. I also struggled with adding a spell checker. I ended up building my own. I know a similar spell checker has now been made for the tool so I might have to take another look at this personal wiki.

Instiki is a ruby wiki. I like the idea of using a ruby based app. I might be able to put it on my thumbdrive too.

MoinMoin Desktop
It might be a bit before I give this one a try as it requires a separate python install.

TiddlyWiki is a javascript wiki with tons of tools and addons. The community is very active and community support is excellent. I have used it before and found it okay but not excellent.

The professional packages I am looking at are:
I am looking at WriteWay which got a very good review. Unfortunately the installer for the demo is failing and I have not been able to reach their support group. It looks like a polished version of the yWrite software. i am really interested in the story boarding part of the software.

yWrite3 is a free tool written by Simon Haynes. It is available at Spacejock software. The software seems very feature rich but I am not sure that it suits my style. There seems to be a lot of pop ups and dialogs. I am going to give it a try but I think I want something simpler.
I like the storyboarding component and may keep it just for that reason alone. I also like how each scene in the story has a rating for Goal, Conflict, and Outcome. So the structure seems to work really well but the writing part to me is too cluttered and busy. Maybe I'll keep this for hte structure and planning and just write in a plain editor.


Wil Wheaton at PAX

Wil Wheaton gave an amazing keynote at PAX recently. I have listened to it several times and it is incredible. While I have been a fan of Wil's for a few years my interest waned a bit this spring as his blog drifted away from topics I found interesting and his style seemed to slip a bit. Over the last few weeks he has started to capture my attention again.

The PAX keynote is simply.!@#$ing.awesome!

Wil's Blog:

Wil's PAX keynote:


ArenaBowl XXI

The Arena Football season ended yesterday with the San Jose SaberCats defeating the Columbus Destroyers in New Orleans. The SaberCats last lost on April 13 when they lost to Voo Doo in New Orleans. They then won 10 straight to finish the season 13 and 3 and then won 3 straight playoff games to capture the 2007 Arena Bowl.

The Destroyers were called a Cinderella team all afternoon. They qualified by defeating the New York Dragons on June 23. Qualifying 6th in the National Conference they traveled first to Tampa Bay and defeated the Storm by one point. The following week they visited Dallas and defeated the heavily favored Desperadoes, in part because they recovered 2 consecutive kicks deep in Dallas territory when the ball took a favorable bounce off the nets. Finally they reached the arena bowl by again defeating a heavily favored opponent when they visited Georgia. For quarterback Matt Nagy it was especially sweet to eliminate the team the traded him away after he lead the Force deep into the playoffs and set several season records for the team last year.

The Destroyers kept the game close but were chasing the SaberCats for almost the entire game. San Jose had several defensive stops and the Destroyers were not able to match the SaberCats defensive pressure. San Jose seemed to score every time they had the ball and the San Jose defense forced mistakes from Nagy and the Destroyers.

Watching the game on TV was a treat after watching many of the games online. I love AFLNet but watching the game on the 40 inch wide screen vs the 17 inch PC screen is a big difference. I did lose interest at times as the Destroyers seemed to be destined to lose from the second quarter on. The Destroyers didn't seem to be able to match San Jose and slowly the SaberCats took control of the game.

I can't wait until next year. I plan to renew my AFLNet subscription next year but I am also going to look at getting access to more TV feeds for the games.

The Missing posts

For reasons I have not been able to determine all the posts I have made in the last six weeks never made it to the page.

I am trying to track down what went wrong, but I seem to be missing 4 football posts, a World of Warcraft post and a HeroClix post.

I will try to get the recovered posts back if I can.


AFL - The home stretch begins.

Week 13 results (my correct picks in bold, my incorrect picks in italics)
New York Dragons 69 New Orleans VooDoo 63
Philadelphia Soul 76 Austin Wranglers 66
Chicago Rush 53 Arizona Rattlers 47
Colorado Crush 56 Grand Rapids Rampage 58
Tampa Bay Storm 38 Georgia Force 52
Dallas Desperados 56 Columbus Destroyers 47
Los Angeles Avengers 56 Kansas City Brigade 62
San Jose SaberCats 48 Nashville Kats 34
Utah Blaze 65 Orlando Predators 62

So in a week that I really had no time to read and prepare I manage to go 6 and 3 (57 and 41 on the year). I was particularly surprised by the Grand Rapids win over Colorado.

This week the AFL enters the home stretch as teams start playing for playoff position rather than just the playoffs. As was the case at the beginning of the year the Dallas Desperadoes look like the team to beat and a Chicago Rush team I thought was destined for another .500 season is 8 and 3.

Week 14 games
Dallas Desperados (11-1) at Philadelphia Soul (6-6)
Earlier this year this looked like it might be a battle of the titans but now the Soul are just trying to fight for post season berth and Dallas is the team to beat. The Soul will still be looking for help after the Desperados leave town with another win.

Orlando Predators (7-5) at San Jose SaberCats (9-3)
San Jose wins at home still looking to take first in the American Conference.

Kansas City Brigade (7-5) at Grand Rapids Rampage (4-8)
Grand Rapids gets back to losing after a surprising win last week against the Crush.

Columbus Destroyers (6-6) at Georgia Force (10-2)
Georgia wins at home and makes a strong case for a first round bye.

Austin Wranglers (3-9) at New York Dragons (5-7)
The Dragons win another game to move a bit closer to a .500 record. Something I thought would be impossible after the first few weeks of the season, New York is currently IN the playoffs and if they keep winning they will be playing in the post season and you saw what Chicago did last year with a 9 and 9 record. Go Dragons!

Tampa Bay Storm (5-7) at New Orleans VooDoo (4-8)
Tampa Bay beats the VooDoo and puts pressure on the Dragons for that final playoff spot in the3 National Conference.

Chicago Rush (8-3) at Los Angeles Avengers (6-6)
Chicago continues to make me look bad for doubting them early in the season and wins again.

Arizona Rattlers (3-10) at Las Vegas Gladiators (2-10)
Another case of someone has to win this game. Vegas wins, barely.

Colorado Crush (8-5) at Utah Blaze (6-7)
The crush visit Utah and come away with another win .

Nashville Kats (5-8) have the bye and will spend their week off cheering for Colorado.


Another addiction

I have been posting less often than usual. Partly this is because I have been a bit busier at work. Partly I have been setting doing demos for the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game and setting up a monthly game night at Happy Harbor comics.

Mainly I think it is because I started playing the World of Warcraft online game.

I have been playing far too much - about twice as often as we were playing Guild Wars. I don't want to turn this into a WoW vs GW post though. The main reason I am playing World of Warcraft is because the people I know playing slowly switched to WoW. So I tried it out.

I am playing a Druid. I picked a Druid because I like the shape-shifting aspect and the class is very versatile. The druid is a spell caster and healer, and can do direct damage like a mage or heal like a priest. They can also tank like a warrior in bear form or sneak around like a rogue. So I thought that it would give me a good range of the game play experience.

So far I am very pleased. I sometimes feel almost over whelmed with the number of quests available. I prefer questing to grinding (which may be why I am a few levels behind the people I play with). I love bear form and I just got my sea lion form - my daughter likes when my bear dances.

The only thing I don't like is the time I have been spending in the game. I am hoping that once I catch the group and start running raids that the number of hours I need to spend to keep up with the group will drop.

So if you are on the Pernolde server look up Chickaquack.


AFL Week 13

Week 12 results
New Orleans VooDoo 34 Philadelphia Soul 78
Orlando Predators 46 Austin Wranglers 45
Kansas City Brigade 56 New York Dragons 62
Grand Rapids Rampage 44 San Jose SaberCats 69
Georgia Force 51 Los Angeles Avengers 57
Nashville Kats 44 Chicago Rush 27
Columbus Destroyers 40 Colorado Crush 58
Las Vegas Gladiators 54 Utah Blaze 53
Arizona Rattlers 50 Tampa Bay Storm 59

Week 13 scheduled games
Utah Blaze (5-7) at Orlando Predators (7-4)
Utah was upset by Las Vegas last week - unfortunately they will not fair much better against the Predators losing by a large margin.

San Jose SaberCats (8-3) at Nashville Kats (5-7)
The SaberCats clinch a playoff berth with a win on the road.

Los Angeles Avengers (6-5) at Kansas City Brigade (6-5)
A strong KC team is upset at home by the visiting Avengers.

Tampa Bay Storm (5-6) at Georgia Force (9-2)
The Force bounce back from the upset loss last week to the Avengers and beat up on the suddenly resurgent Storm.

Colorado Crush at Grand Rapids Rampage
Colorado gets a win on the road and grab a playoff spot (because of the Utah loss)

Dallas Desperados (11-1) at Columbus Destroyers (6-5)
The Desperadoes roll into Columbus and grab win number 11 on the season, clinching a playoff berth for the Georgia Force.

Chicago Rush (8-3) at Arizona Rattlers (3-9)
Chicago defeats the Rattlers and thanks to the Utah loss they clinch a playoff berth.

Philadelphia Soul (5-6) at Austin Wranglers (3-8)
The Soul are lucky to visit the struggling Wranglers this week giving them a shot at a 500 record. Philly wins in Texas.

New York Dragons (4-7) at New Orleans VooDoo (4-7)
This is the game I hope to be able to watch. New York wins behind another massive game by Andy Garcia.

Las Vegas Gladiators (2-10) have the bye, but they might still find a way to lose this week.

Missing last week was probably good for my record leaving me at 51 and 38.


AFL The missing week

As both regular readers have probably noticed I missed posting an AFL prediction for Week 12. Time and travel prevented me from getting a post out. I will post the results from week 12 and predictions for week 13 this week.


Week 11 - Arena League Football Guesses

So week 10 was a disaster. I wnet 4 and 5 and dropped my season record to a dismal 51 and 37 (58%). I'm not even going to bother reviewing last week. The only games I got right were the obvious (Dallas, Georgia, and Chicago wins and Las Vegas loses are not that hard to pick).

This weeks matchups:
Grand Rapids Rampage (3-6) at Columbus Destroyers (5-4)
Columbus take a step back into the playoff picture by defeating the struggling Rampage.

New Orleans VooDoo (4-5) at Orlando Predators (5-4)
The Predators win at home defeating a VooDoo Squad that finds itself near the bottom of the Southern division.

Colorado Crush (6-4) at Nashville Kats (4-6)
Colorado bounces back from a loss to Chicago last week to beat the Kats in Nashville.

Utah Blaze (5-5) at Kansas City Brigade (5-4)
Utah continues to fall losing to the Brigade.

Austin Wranglers (3-6) at Arizona Rattlers (2-8)
Austin and Arizona are both struggling - Austin continues to struggle losing a close game to Arizona.

Tampa Bay Storm (3-6) at Los Angeles Avengers (5-4)
Los Angeles gets a win against a visiting Storm.

Las Vegas Gladiators (1-9) at San Jose SaberCats (6-3)
San Jose will have no trouble at home against the visiting Gladiators.

New York Dragons (2-7) at Philadelphia Soul (4-5)
New York is still having difficulty winning even with Andy Garcia. Philly tries to get back into the race after 5 straight weeks without a win. Philly wins a close one at home.

Chicago Rush (8-1) at Dallas Desperados (9-1)
In a potential Arena Bowl preview the Rush lose for the second time this year. This was a Friday Night game but was moved to Monday night by the AFL and EPSN. I hope to be able to see this game but it is unlikely I will be able to catch unless they add it to the AFLNet schedule.

Georgia Force (9-1) have the bye


Week 10 - Arena Football

Week 9 was a good week. I finally got my head free of my ass and made some decent picks. Here are the results (my correct picks in bold - my incorrect picks in italics).

Philadelphia Soul 43 Chicago Rush 54
Orlando Predators 69 Las Vegas Gladiators 34
Columbus Destroyers 32 Tampa Bay Storm 34
Utah Blaze 48 San Jose SaberCats 69
Grand Rapids Rampage 71 Los Angeles Avengers 75
Arizona Rattlers 45 New York Dragons 67
Nashville Kats 62 Dallas Desperados 69
Georgia Force 72 New Orleans VooDoo 57
Colorado Crush 45 Kansas City Brigade 42

W00t! a 7-2 week. That is the kind of week I needed. This takes my year to 47 and 32 not spectacular but at 59% I am getting back into the realm of actually picking the winners and getting out of pure guessing range. The experts at arena football all have me beat by percentage but I am creeping up there.

Michael Murillo 69.84%
Gary Reasons 68.25%
Jenn Boehm 68.25%
Wayne Morris 68.25%
Peter Schwartz 68.25%
Mike Rose 66.67%
Ryan Altizer 65.08%
Nate Boudreaux 61.90%
Ray Bentley 60.32%
Me 59.49%

This week watch for Dallas and Utah, Predators at Georgia, and Colorado visiting Chicago to be big games. Each one features a team with only one loss against a team with a winning record. Orlando, Utah or Colorado can do a lot damage by getting an upset this week. New York looks like they can make some noise with the return of Andy Garcia - the playoffs might be beyond reach for the dragons but the next few weeks will show the kind of team they will be next year. The bubble teams like Columbus, Utah, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Nashville andLos Angeles look to start making a run to the playoffs. I think the best game this week will be the Monday night game between Colorado and Chicago. Colorado is chasing Chicago in the central division. The Crush can get within a game of the Rush with a win.

Week 10
New York Dragons (2-6) at Columbus Destroyers (4-4)
New York with Garcia back is a different team than we saw in the first half of the season. Columbus is not going to be able to take this Dragons team lightly. The Dragons with Garcia take another game keeping hopes of a 500 season intact.

Orlando Predators (5-3) at Georgia Force (8-1)
Georgia beats the Predators keeping the pressure on Dallas and Chicago.

Dallas Desperados (8-1) at Utah Blaze (5-4)
Dallas dominates the Blaze.

Kansas City Brigade (4-4) at Philadelphia Soul (4-4)
Philly stops the slide and wins at home to keep a winning record.

Nashville Kats (4-5) at Grand Rapids Rampage (2-6)
Nashville gets back to 500, Grand Rapids is already looking at next year.

San Jose SaberCats (5-3) at Arizona Rattlers (2-7)
San Jose pulls further ahead of division rival Blaze with a win over the struggling Rattlers.

Tampa Bay Storm (2-6) at Austin Wranglers (3-5)
Tampa Bay fails in the quest to gets a third win against the Wranglers.

Los Angeles Avengers (4-4) at Las Vegas Gladiators (1-8)
Las Vegas loses to the Avengers becoming the first team to guarantee a losing record this year.

Colorado Crush (6-3) at Chicago Rush (7-1)
This is a tough game to call - both teams are capable of winning. Most of the experts at are picking Chicago except for Michael Murillo who thinks that the Crush can pull off the upset. I am going to call for the upset and call for Colorado to tighten up the central division race.

New Orleans VooDoo (4-5) has the bye this week


AFL Week 9

Reuslts for Week 8:
Wow... I have managed to sink even further. I went 4 and 5 last week bringing my year to date record for this season to: 40 and 30. Only 2 more weeks until I drop below 500 for the season. The only high point for me last week was that I picked the Dallas loss correctly.

Here are last weeks results with my picks in bold.
Philadelphia Soul 21 Columbus Destroyers 44
Los Angeles Avengers 49 San Jose SaberCats 73
New Orleans VooDoo 38 Austin Wranglers 45
Kansas City Brigade 40 Nashville Kats 49
Chicago Rush 75 Grand Rapids Rampage 54
Dallas Desperados 63 Georgia Force 78
Las Vegas Gladiators 53 Colorado Crush 63
Arizona Rattlers 83 Utah Blaze 69
New York Dragons 47 Orlando Predators 52

Predictions for Week 9

This looks like a week where the power teams push for bigger separation form the pack teams. Georgia and Dallas look to take a stranglehold in their divisional races. While Utah and Chicago try to pull away from the pack.

Colorado Crush (5-3) at Kansas City Brigade (4-3)
The Crush win at Kansas City putting pressure on the Rush in the central division.

Georgia Force (7-1) at New Orleans VooDoo (4-4)
Georgia wins easily putting themselves 4 games ahead of the second place team in the southern division.

Nashville Kats (4-4) at Dallas Desperados (7-1)
Dallas comes of their first loss with a big win at home. Like Georgia they will have a comfortable lead in the eastern division.

Arizona Rattlers (2-6) at New York Dragons (1-6)
New York wins, which should make me feel better about things in general

Grand Rapids Rampage (2-5) at Los Angeles Avengers (3-4)
Los Angeles loses another game to an opponent they should be able to beat.

Utah Blaze (5-3) at San Jose SaberCats (4-3)
San Jose defeats the Blaze to make the western division the closest race in the league.

Columbus Destroyers (4-3) at Tampa Bay Storm (1-6)
Tampa continues to struggle and Columbus tries to keep the playoffs in sight.

Orlando Predators (4-3) at Las Vegas Gladiators (1-7)
Orlando win in Vegas but are still need some help if they plan to catch Georgia.

Philadelphia Soul (4-3) at Chicago Rush (6-1)
The Rush put a big beatdown on Philly at home giving Philly its 4 loss in a row after starting the season 4 and 0.

Austin Wranglers (3-5) get the bye


World of Warcraft Demo on Free Comic Book Day

Jay over at Happy Harbor Comics has a great line up of events for Free Comic Book Day. Included will be demos for the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game.

There will be costumed characters you can get your picture taken with, local artists doing custom portraits and live professional wrestling.

I will be there running the demos for WoW and James Klatt will be teaching Heroclix as well.

I have to say I am quite excited to be part of what looks to be a pretty entertaining day.


Week 8 - Arena Football

I don't have a lot to say about last week, a quick review game by game;

Philadelphia Soul 41 Dallas Desperados 51
Me - Desperadoes (1-0) vs. Chris - Desperadoes (1-0)

Las Vegas Gladiators 68 Georgia Force 69
Me - Force (2-0) vs. Chris - Force (2-0)

Colorado Crush 49 New York Dragons 48
Me - Crush (3-0) vs. Chris - Crush (3-0)

Nashville Kats 62 Arizona Rattlers 36
Me - Kats (4-0) vs. Chris - Rattlers (3-1)

Grand Rapids Rampage 41 Kansas City Brigade 52
Me - Brigade (5-0) vs. Chris - Rampage (3-2)

Tampa Bay Storm 37 Orlando Predators 61
Me - Storm (5-1) vs. Chris - Storm (3-3)

Austin Wranglers 49 Columbus Destroyers 72
Me - Wranglers (5-2) vs. Chris - Wranglers (3-4)

Los Angeles Avengers 63 Utah Blaze 76
Me - Avengers (5-3) vs. Chris - Blaze (4-4)

San Jose SaberCats 54 New Orleans VooDoo 67
Me - SabreCats (5-4) vs. Chris - SabreCats (4-5)

So I went 5-4 again and my season record is now 36 and 24 or 60%. Chris went 4-5. This week I am just going to pick the games, I am not going to read the power poll, the expert picks, or the what to expect articles. I need to get myself out of this slump.

New York Dragons (1-5) at Orlando Predators (3-3)
The Predators are happy to see a struggling Dragons team visit Florida as they have stumbled after a string start and need to pick up some wins in the next few weeks to get back into the playoff hunt. The Dragons play well but lose again and the Predators pull themselves back above 500.

Arizona Rattlers (1-6) at Utah Blaze (5-2)
Arizona will continue to struggle and the Blaze will pull farther ahead in the western division standings.

Las Vegas Gladiators (1-6) at Colorado Crush (4-3)
There seems to be quite a few games like this one. A struggling team like the Gladiators take on a Crush team that needs a win to push for the playoffs - and the struggling team here will lose - giving the Crush a much needed win in the tight central division.

Chicago Rush (5-1) at Grand Rapids Rampage (2-4)
Chicago comes off the bye and visits Grand Rapids. Grand Rapids is a team that really needs a win to try to turn the season around but they will fall to the powerful running offense of the Chicago Rush.

Dallas Desperados(7-0) at Georgia Force (6-1)
This is a big game and could decide home field advantage in the playoffs. I am going to pick Dallas to finally lose a game.

Kansas City Brigade (4-2) at Nashville Kats (3-4)
Nashville absolutely needs to win this game if they want to have even a faint hope at the playoffs. Chicago, Kansas City, and Colorado all have better records in the central division. Kansas City has been playing very well this year and Nashville will lose again at home this week.

New Orleans VooDoo (4-3) at Austin Wranglers (2-5)
The VooDoo go to Texas and beat the Wranglers.

Los Angeles Avengers (3-3) at San Jose SaberCats (3-3)
Sombody leaves San Jose with a winning record and will pull into second place in the western division behind Utah. The Avengers look to get revenge on a San Jose team who visited LA in week one and left with a victory. I'll give the Avengers the edge here and pick them to defeat San Jose.

Philadelphia Soul(4-2) at Columbus Destroyers (3-3)
I'll take Philly to get back in the win Column in this important divisional game as both the Soul and Columbus try to keep pace with the powerhouse Dallas Depserados.

Tampa Bay Storm (1-6) have the bye this week


Warlock Pets: Old School vs. New School

I am going to focus on the Warlock pets for the World of Warcraft trading card game. The Heros of Azeroth provided 4 pets (Grimdron, Helwen, Infernal, and Sarmoth) and Dark Portal gives the Warlock 3 more (Doomguard, Morfiel, Piztog).

First I'll give a quick overview of the cards:
Old School
Grimdron - a 1 cost pet with 0 Attack and 1 Health. Grimdron is elusive and has the ability to exhaust to deal 1 damage to a target hero or ally.
A pretty useful small ally that I did not play a lot He was generally pushed out of my deck by removal abilities like Shadow Bolt and Vanquish. Can be a powerful card when facing a weenie rush as he will destroy Apprentice Teep, Vesh'ral, and Leeroy Jenkins.

Helwen a 4 cost pet with 2 Attack and 2 Health. Here ability is to exhaust and take control of an ally. Helwen is a very powerful card especially if you can get her into a party that contains Mezzik Darkspark. Using her ability to take control of an opponents ally. Use it to attack and then destroy the ally with Mezzik. She is difficult to keep in play with only 2 Health.

Infernal - a 6 cost pet that was the rare card included in the warlock starter deck. This 6 Attack and 6 Health ally is a massive beast that also deals 1 damage to all opposing allies. When I first built warlock decks this was my victory condition. When he hits the borad you are looking at a 2 for 1 exchange or better for your opponent to remove him.

Sarmoth - a 3 cost ally and the best protector in the game. Sarmoth has 1 Attack and 5 Health and if an opponent can attack Sarmoth they must attack Sarmoth. This little voidwalker can buy you a turn or more to build up. I can't think of the last time I built a warlock deck without 4 Sarmoths incuded.

New School
Doomguard - A 7 cost ally that is a true beast. 8 Attack and 8 Health and destroys a target opposing ally at the end of your turn. The downside of this is that you destroy a friendly character in your party when the Doomguard enters play. This is another potential victory condition.

Morfiel - a 4 cost with 4 Attack and 4 Health. While in play Morfiel forces opposing players to pay 1 extra resource for abilities. A 4/4 ally is pretty good and the added control benefits. Add a Morfiel to a pair of Curse of Tongues as your opponent is looking at a 3 resource penalty to play abilities.

Piztog - a 1 cost, 0 Attack and 2 Health pet. Piztog buffs other allies in your party with +1 Health. The same benefit that Nerra Lifeboon grants for the Alliance but much cheaper. Like Grimdron he is also elusive and can make a difference against rush decks.

On the surface the old school seems to have the advantage here. Sarmoth is a must have in every warlock deck. Helwen is more likely to show up in Alliance builds. Infernal will appear in many decks. Grimdron will show in some decks but not a majority. The new school has Piztog that, like Grimdron, is not going to appear in many decks. Morfiel will likely appear in more decks than Helwen. The big hitter from the new school is Doomguard and the possibility of self desctruction when the card enters play will mean he doesn't show up in as many decks as he would otherwise.

I put Sarmoth by himself - this card is too good and will not be replaced by a card in the new set. Sarmoth is the best tank ally in the game everything must attack him and even though he does only 1 damage per attack his 5 health means that of the 202 allies in the game only 37 have the 5+ Attack value to defeat him without help (this does not include allies like Stitches or Tewa Wildmane that might have a high enough attack value). And unlike protectors he doesn't have to be ready to stop an attack.

The other 6 cards can be paired together in 3 sets. Early game (Grimdron vs Piztog), mid game (Helwen vs Morfiel) and late game (Infernal vs Doomguard).

Grimdron vs Piztog
Both these little imps cost 1 resource to bring into your party. While a +1 Health buff to your other allies is an excellent effect, Piztog is not a game breaker in any deck. Were you able to bring in multiple pets his +1 buff would be very powerful indeed but because you can not stack his effect it limits his effectiveness in the game. One thing he will do is keep Vesh'ral and Apprentice Teep from being destroyed by a Frost Nova. Grimdron seems to be the better of the two early game pets. He is very fragile with only 1 health but he can take out a lot of early game allies and he has a chance at destroying a Searing Totem if he is on the field before the totem is played. I am not a fan of either Grimdron or Piztog, I have to give the edge to Grimdron as he has an small outside chance of getting into my side deck.

Helwen vs Morfiel
Helwen is a great ally, if you can protect her for a turn, and you can get control of a good ally, and you can then use that ally against your opponent. Too many conditions. If I play Helwen turn 4. Turn 5 I take control of an Ally. Turn 6 I can use the ally to attack. By turn 7 or 8 the game is usually getting close to completion. So if the controlled ally is destroyed on turn 6, I need to capture another ally turn 7 and then hope to use it on turn 8. I think her power is great but takes too long to have an effect. If I can capture ferocious allies or have other tools like Into the Fray, Mezzik Darkspark, or Sever the Cord she becomes a bit more useful as I can use her each turn past turn 5. Morfiel also costs 4, but with 4 health is a lot tougher than Helwen and its effect comes into play immediately and remains in effect until Morfiel is destroyed. Having your opponent pay extra for abilities is a good effect but really the effect of Morfiel is to force your opponent to play a turn or more behind you. On turn 5 you can play a 5 resource ability but your oppoent is forced to wait for turn 6 - the effect is multiplied if they failed to drop a resource on one of the early turns. I have played Helwen in a Mezzik Darkspark combo deck but I will give hte edge to Morfiel as i can see this pet sneaking into quite a few of my warlock builds.

Infernal vs Doomguard
Infernal was my favorite card early on. I liked the area of effect damage dealt at the end of each turn and with a 6 attack value and Radak Doombringer's flip power you can deal 12 damage in a single turn. With 6 Health he is pretty much guaranteed to be a 2 for 1 exchange and with 6 Attack he can take out almost anything. His only drawbacks were a high resource cost of 6 and a potentially high upkeep cost - discard one card or he his given to another player. Late game the upkeep payment for Infernal can be a bit of a problem but if this is your winning condition you should be able to hold onto him long enough to win the game. Doomguard is more expensive at 7 resources but his payment cost can be devastating. When Doomguard enters play a random friendly character is destroyed. This could include your hero ending the game with a loss. If your hero survives the processes you get a monster 8 Attack and 8 Health ally in play that destroys target ally at the end of your turn. I will probably split deck space between Infernal and Doomguard and will add in a few more little allies to help increase the odds of surviving playing Doomguard.

When I started looking at the Warlock pets I was thinking I would have to conclude with who "wins" old school with Sarmoth and Infernal or new school with Morfiel and Doomguard. Now that I have spent some time looking at these pets the winner is the warlock class. Anyone who wants to play a warlock can build a pretty effective deck. Rush decks with Sarmoth and Grimdron and Piztog. Control decks with Sarmoth and Morfiel and Helwen. A power beat down with Sarmoth and Infernal and Doomguard. The big conclusion I have found is that Sarmoth is the best pet getting the player at worst a one card and one turn advantage and potentially mush more. So for the warlock heroes out there, use your pets wisely.

Note: I have reviewed the cards linked in this article on tNook. If you disagree with my assessments, feel free to post your own reviews of the cards on tNook and post a response here telling me how wrong I am.


Google "Office"

I have been using Google docs since it was Writely. I am starting to put more and more of my documents into Google docs.

Although I still use Open Office for many docs, I try and use Google for as many applications as I can. The functionality for the documents in Google Docs is growing and they recently added charts to the spreadsheets.

As more tools and features are added to the "web 2.0" tools there is less and less reason from me to have a USB drive and thick client applications.

I plan to use Google Docs for NaNoWriMo again this year and tonight I will more a few more open office spreadsheets up to Gogole as the charts can now be built online.


Arena League - Week 7. The week I hide my shame

Last week after going 2 weeks for a combined total of 10 - 8 I decided to have a little fun and make my picks then flip a coin and see who is smarter - me or a coin.

A quick breakdown - head to "heads or tails":
Columbus Destroyers 51 at Dallas Desperados 53
My Pick: Dallas (1-0) vs Coin picks: Dallas (1-0)

Utah Blaze 64 at Austin Wranglers
My Pick: Wranglers (2-0) vs Coin Picks: Wranglers (2-0)

Arizona Rattlers 45 at Los Angeles Avengers 64
My Pick: Rattlers (2-1) vs Coin Picks: Avengers (3-0)
Great the might coin pulls ahead of me...

Colorado Crush 44 at San Jose SaberCats 72
The Crush visit California and get a much needed win in San Jose.
My Pick: Crush(2-2) vs Coin Picks: Crush (3-1)

New York Dragons 53 at Grand Rapids Rampage 66
My Pick: Dragons (2-3) vs Coin Picks: Grand Rapids (4-1)
I would be embarrassed but it is a remarkably bright coin.

New Orleans VooDoo 43 at Tampa Bay Storm 66
The struggling storm find a way to defeat the visiting VooDoo.
My Pick: Storm (3-3) vs Coin Picks: VooDoo (4-2)

Chicago Rush 66 at Nashville Kats 54
My Pick: Rush (4-3) vs Coin Picks: Nashville (4-3)
Peanut Butter Jelly time! I get back even with the coin!

Kansas City Brigade 65 at Las Vegas Gladiators 31
The Gladiators will be able to handle the Brigade at hope to pull back to 500 on the year.
My Pick: Gladiators (4-4) vs Coin Picks: Galdiators (4-4)

Georgia Force 57 at Philadelphia Soul 49
My Pick: Force (5-4) vs Coin Picks: Soul (4-5)
So after a weekend of pretty good football ruined for me because of the fear of being out done by a quarter I end up with the same crap-tacular record of 5 and 4 sinking my season of mediocrity to 31 and 19.

So how bad will it be THIS week? This week a friend of mine who doesn't watch or follow arena league has agreed to make his picks.

My picks for the week
San Jose SaberCats (4-1) at New Orleans VooDoo (2-4)
The VooDoo started string but are struggling now. San Jose visits the big easy and wins the game.
Me: San Jose vs Chris: San Jose

Los Angeles Avengers (2-3) at Utah Blaze (4-2)
The Avengers put up 64 last week against a weak Rattlers team. I will call for the upset and give a third loss to Utah.
Me: Avengers vs Chris: Utah

Austin Wranglers (3-3) at Columbus Destroyers (1-4)
Austin comes to Ohio and beats the Destroyers - after losing last week to Dallas and this week to Austin many Columbus fans start to say bad things about Texas.
Me: Austin vs Chris: Austin

Tampa Bay Storm (1-5) at Orlando Predators (3-2)
In a rematch of a game from week 1. In week on the Predators took it to the Storm and won easily. This week the Predators will win again but the Storm keep it closer.
Me: Storm vs Chris: Tampa

Grand Rapids Rampage (2-3) at Kansas City Brigade (3-2)
Grand Rapids beat New York last week. This week they face a much better team in the Brigade. The Brigade, coming off a big win in Las Vegas will be more than the Rampage can handle. Kansas City come out with another big win.
Me: Kansas City vs Chris: Grand Rapids

Nashville Kats (2-4) at Arizona Rattlers (1-5))
Early in the season I though the Rattlers would be in the pack by mid season but they have struggled to put up wins. Nashville who is also having a poor season gets what it needs a trip to the desert and a win.
Me: Nashville vs Chris: Arizona

Colorado Crush (3-3) at New York Dragons (1-4)
My woeful Dragons serve up another win to a visiting team.
Me: Crush vs Chris: Colorado

Las Vegas Gladiators (2-4) at Georgia Force (5-1)
The Gladiators lost last week to the Brigade and there fortunes will not be any better against the powerful Force. Georgia continues to chase Dallas for the league's best record.
Me: Force vs Chris: Georgia

Philadelphia Soul (4-1) at Dallas Desperados (6-0)
I had circled this game as a potential loss for Dallas but after the play of Philly last week I have to once again play it safe and pick the dominant Desperados. Some one will beat Dallas this year but I don't think it will be the Soul.
Me: Dallas vs Chris: Dallas

Chicago Rush (5-1) have the bye

tNook - Trade Anything With Anyone

I am really excited about tNook (disclosure - I am good friends with and I am related to the owner). I have been working with it for over 6 months and it seems to me to be an interesting and effective means to track and trade your collection online.

I only use one tNook - World of Warcraft Trading Cards, but there are currently five tNooks:
Comic Books
Wizkids Pirates
World of Warcraft
and more tNooks are coming. You can also request a new tNook if the one you want is not there.

I have been posting reviews here and on tNook reviews for cards in the Heros of Azeroth set for the card game. I am going to continue to review cards and items on tNook. And if anyone doesn't like my tNook reviews they can always post their own as any tNook member can post reviews and rating for items on tNook. Here I am going to change and start posting a regular post called Old School and New School. These posts will continue to reference reviews that I will be posting on the tNook site but they will combine a couple of related cards together and review not only the card but a look at a comparison in the cards. For the most part the reviews on tNook will focus on the cards while the posts here will discuss and compare similar powers and effects from one set to the next.

I primarily use tNook to keep track of what I have in my collection, in what I want, and what I am willing to trade. Right now with the release of the Dark Portal set for World of Warcraft I am busy updating my collection and adding all the new cards into my collection. I am also reviewing what I want to put up for trade and what I need to list in my wants. One great feature is the tNook match. Each night tNook looks to see who has items for trade that I have listed in my wants. This is a great tool for me so I do not have to constantly look for people that have added new items to their trade list. I can also manually run this matching process afcter I have added items to my trade or want list.

I am constantly amazed at the implementation from the tNook team. I make comments about the interface and in a week or less in some cases the changes are in place and ready to use.

The only down side I can find in the site is that there are not enough people using it for World of Warcraft. I think there are only 5 people with their World of Warcraft cards in the system - but that is most likely because World of Warcraft is new, the more established tNooks like Comics and HeroClix have more users and more traffic. So go and sign up, put in your cards and lets get trading!


Kurt is up in Heaven now

I just read a post that shocked me. I was looking at Indexed and I thought that Jessica Hagy had captured perfectly the wit of Kurt Vonnegut. I tagged the post and moved on. Then I started to notice that in my RSS reader there were a number of Vonnegut posts and references.
I knew it wasn't Mr. Vonnegut's birthday so I was a bit surprised that a whole bunch of people decided to write about him at once. Then I got to Cory Doctorow's post on Boing Boing. I am not a fan of Mr. Vonnegut's work like I am of someone like George R. R. Martin or Douglas Adams and as a Catholic I do not agree with his religious beliefs. However, I have read Slaughterhouse-Five and Cat's Cradle several times. Both books are brilliant and timeless and should be read by everyone at least once in their lives. I find myself completely entranced by the Bokonon and by Billy Pilgrim. Every time I re-read these stories I find myself time traveling back to when I was a young man, reading Mr. Vonnegut's words for the first time.

I am sure everyone has heard the urban myth commencement address falsely attributed to Mr. Vonnegut. For many that was the first and only thing they have read by this wonderful author - which is unfortunate as he had so much more to say to the world. I am happy that that particular Internet myth swept through as it reminded me of Mr. Vonnegut's work and I went back and read Cat's Cradle again.

On a weekend I was planning to read all about Carl Sagan in Skeptic and maybe finish off the latest On Spec magazine I think I might find myself back on the island of San Lorenzo.

Kurt is up in Heaven now.


Soul Link

As a warlock you should really consider having a Soul Link in your deck. This Demonology Hero Only (Radak Doombringer and Zenith Shadowforce) ability allows you to place a damage onto an ally in your party to prevent 1 damage to your hero this turn.

This can be used defensively (obviously) but also on offense. If you attack with Ya'mon then buff his attack by putting a couple of damage on him (Ya'mon has +1 Atk for each damage on him). You can buff Blood Guard Mal'wani in the same way. CArds like Arnold Flem and Vexra Darkfall can be damaged to activate thier destruction effects. If only Life tap damage could be prevented...

Overall this 4 cost ability is a pretty good card to pack in a warlock deck.

This post was posted both as a review on tNook and as a Church of the Game post.


Local World of Warcraft Sneak Preview

Recently Gamers Lair held a sneak preview sealed deck compitition for Dark Portal expansion fo the World of Warcraft the card game.

Stormtiger gives his view of the event here.

I was the judge at this event so I can't say how much fun it was to play in the event but anyoine i have talked to has mentioned that it was a great time. The only bad thing at the event was the tournament software failed after the first round so myself and the store owner had to manually pair the remaining rounds. Then after the tournament I had to manually calculate the tie breakers.
It was exciting to see the new set and watch as the players opened their packs and looked through for the card that might be a game winner. I got to see a lot of new cards as players asked me how the powers would be affected.

Through out the afternoon I was called a couple of times to rule on plays. So far I have only found two errors I made during the tournament.

1. Someone asked me the effect a card IN HIS HAND would have when he played it. I told him the card would be unaffected by an ability in play on his opponents side of the board. This was incorrect as I was NOT judging but advising the player. The correct course of action would ahve been to tell him I could not rule until he played the card.

2. The length of the effect of Korthas Greybeard's effect. "Exhaust: Prevent the next 1 damage that would be dealt to target hero or ally."

I ruled that the effect lasts until the end of turn but according to the comprehensive rules
"714.3 A continuous modifier from a link usually has a specified duration. If no duration is specified, that modifier lasts until the game ends."

Fortunately neither of theses mistakes meant the difference in a game.

Next time I hope to have a camera and do a better job of recording the experience. I the meantime stormtiger did a great job chronicling his experience.

Regionals will be back at Gamers Lair in June and weekly tournaments are held on Wednesday nights.


When you absolutely need to clean the board there are few options that work as well as a Multi-Shot. Multi-Shot is a 5 resource Hunter instant ability that deals 2 damage to up to 3 targets. Parvink, Ka'tali Stonetusk, and Warden Tonarian are all cheap protectors. But even Warden's elusive will not save them from the damage dealt by a Multi-Shot.

I like this card as a mid to late game answer to allies on the field. It clears the way for Fury to attack or it sweeps the field clean to remove threats to your hero. Either way the value of the card is difficult to overlook.

I can say without any fear of exaggeration that Multi-Shot won me a match at a regionals tournament. My opponent had brought out a Parvink from his graveyard and had the opportunity to recurse a second via a Medoc Spiritwarden (He chose to put some armor on the field instead). When my turn came I was able to remove his little gnome protector and deal an additional 2 damage to his hero. After that there was nothing he could do to stop me from using Fury or Sentry Gwynn from taking his hero out.

For a hunter deck, the value of Multi-Shot should not be overlooked.

This post was posted both as a review on tNook and as a Church of the Game post.

Arena League Football, Week 6 - Or the week I challenge a coin.

Some quick hits to post before the games starts tonight. I was horrid again last week going only 5-4 for the second straight week. Although I was close on some game that I picked wrong. THis leaves me with a 26 and 15 record for the year. My goal this week is to be better than a coin flip (heads = home team).

Columbus Destroyers(1-3) at Dallas Desperados(5-0)
Dallas continues to roll over the competition and finishes the week at 6-0.
Coin picks: Dallas

Utah Blaze(4-1) at Austin Wranglers(2-3)
The Wranglers gave the Desperados a scare last week. This week they defeat the visiting Blaze.
Coin Picks: Wranglers

Arizona Rattlers(1-4) at Los Angeles Avengers(2-2)
The Avengers give a solid performance but lose a close game to the Rattlers.
Coin Picks: Avengers

Colorado Crush(3-2) at San Jose SaberCats(3-1)
The Crush visit California and get a much needed win in San Jose.
Coin Picks: Crush

New York Dragons(1-3) at Grand Rapids Rampage(1-3)
New York wins a game, New York wins a game... I won't be able to say that very often this year so I just had to say it twice.
Coin Picks: Grand Rapids
Coin Picks: Heads

New Orleans VooDoo(2-3) at Tampa Bay Storm(0-5)
The struggling storm find a way to defeat the visiting VooDoo.
Coin Picks: VooDoo

Chicago Rush(4-1) at Nashville Kats(2-3)
I have become a believer in the Rush. I thought they were over rated earlier in the season but they will defeat the Kats.
Coin Picks: Nashville

Kansas City Brigade(2-2) at Las Vegas Gladiators(2-3)
The Gladiators will be able to handle the Brigade at hope to pull back to 500 on the year.
Coin Picks: Galdiators

Georgia Force(4-1) at Philadelphia Soul(4-0)
The Soul lose their first game to the Force.
Coin Picks: Soul

Orlando (3-2) has the bye this week.


Week 5 - Arena Football League

Week 5 starts tonight.

As much as I would like to forget week 4 (5-4 for the week and 21 and 11 for the year) lets take a look at what happened. No one should be surprised that Dallas and Philadelphia both won. Georgia won but only by two points against San Jose. The big surprises for me were the Avengers beating the VooDoo. New Orleans is playing very well and I didn't think they would have any problems with the Los Angeles team. Of course nothing could have been as shocking as seeing the New York Dragons win one in Florida. Not only did the Dragons (my favorite team) prove that they can win without Andy Garcia they drop perennial contender Tamp Bay to 0-4.

I only go to see part of the first have of the Dragons game. I was pleasantly surprised by the play of Rohan Davey. He played a pretty solid game and got the Dragons into the win column. I still think that the Dragons will struggle waiting for Garcia to return from injury but they might be able to complete if Davey continues to improve his game.

Week 5 looks to have some really good match ups and the separation between the great teams and the merely good will continue.

Georgia Force(4-0) at Columbus Destroyers(1-2)
The Force come into Columbus with a 4-0 record. As much as I like Columbus this year I don't think they can over come the Force. So the Detroyers drop to 1-3 after this match.

Arizona Rattlers(1-3) at Kansas City Brigade(1-2)
Kansas City is playing really well. Well enough to beat the Rattlers.

Orlando Predators(2-2) at New Orleans VooDoo(2-2)
Orlando gets back above the 500 mark by winning in New Orleans.

Austin Wranglers(2-2) at Dallas Desperados(4-0)
Mike Rose picks Austin to defeat Dallas in a monster upset. This battle of Texas is going to be a battle from start to finish. Dallas is so powerful I am starting to wonder if anyone will be able to beat them this season. I am going to go out on a limb and side with Mike Rose. Austin wins to drop teh Desperadoes to 4 and 1.

Tampa Bay Storm(0-4) at San Jose SaberCats(2-1)
Something is very wrong in Tampa Bay. I can't see them leaving San Jose with a win. San Jose will translate some strong play especially on defense into a win against the struggling Storm.

Philadelphia Soul(3-0) at New York Dragons(1-2)
Does New York have enough to upset the Soul? I don't think so. The Dragons will do better than the 60-7 shelling they took from Dallas but they will not be able to beat the Soul.

Los Angeles Avengers(2-1)) at Chicago Rush(3-1)
Okay I am starting to believe in the Rush. I will take Chicago to beat the Avengers in a close scoring game.

Nashville Kats(2-2) at Colorado Crush(2-2)
Nashville beats the Crush to go from a 0-2 team to a 3-2 team. Expect a big game from Dan Alexander for the Kats.

Utah Blaze(3-1) at Las Vegas Gladiators(2-2)
Utah continues to shine and goes to Vegas and defeats the Gladiators by a big margin.

Grand Rapids Rampage(1-3) has the bye


Wraith Scythe

Wraith Scythe is a very useful weapon, and one of the few healing option available for the Hunter and Warrior. While anyone can heal with Freya Lightsworn or Deacon Joanna the options for healing without resorting to allies is limited outside of the Priest and Paladin classes.

A bit pricy at 4 resources but relatively cheap with a strike cost of 2. As this weapon deals 2 damage and heals 2 damage (without any modifiers) that is really a 4 point swing. And by allowing your hero to heal this axe opens up some attacks that might have been avoided without it. It has enough power to destroy Parvink and heals enough to negate the Gnome protectors attack.

If a Warrior manages to equip this axe, drops a couple of Demoralizing Shouts and then adds a Heroic Strike - suddenly the axe is dealing 5 damage and healing for 5 damage. If attacking an ally the Demoralizing Shouts reduce the damage being dealt back. A couple of turns of that kind of muscle and anyone will be looking for a way to neutralize this weapon.

I can't see this axe supplanting Annihilator as a staple in most solo decks - but it should remain a solid second or third choice among players that are looking for weapons.

This post was posted both as a review on tNook and as a Church of the Game post.


Caught Off-Guard

Caught Off-Guard is a pretty basic (and common) ability card. For a cost of 1 it allows you to reduce the attack of one target by 2.

I have never seen this played in a competitive tournament but I have faced it a couple of times in casual play. It is a nice common card that unfortunately doesn't see a lot of play because so many other cards seem to bump it out of decks during construction. The biggest benefit for this card is that it lasts the entire turn so once played it will reduce all the attacks form that source. So played against a Feral Thangral, or a Windseer Tarus, or a Galeway Steamwhistle buffed Warrax the effect will carry over to the second (and in some cases third and fourth) attacks as well.

I can't see this card getting a lot of play because it just doesn't give you a lot of bang for your buck.

This post was posted both as a review on tNook and as a Church of the Game post.

Stronghold Gauntlets

Stronghold Gauntlets are a a crucial piece of equipment. I faced a warrior at regionals that used these gloves to do some serious damage. This armour card not only gives you 1 damage prevention they also give your weapons +1 attack and block your opponent from targeting your weapons for removal. All that for only 3 resources.

I had problems finding ready answers for my opponent once these hit the table. It meant that playing out something like Moria Darkheart or Shattering Blow only got rid of the gauntlets and left the weapon on the field ready to do more damage.

I would rank this card as one of three that should be in any warrior deck. Along with Deathbringer and Deathdealer Breastplate this is a card that will make a warrior deck something to contend with. For someone like me that does not play a warrior or paladin one redeeming quality for the card is that it is limited to those two classes.

This post was posted both as a review on tNook and as a Church of the Game post.

Lessons Learned: Regionals

I finished 6th overall at the regionals last weekend.

This is frankly better than I expected to do as my deck is not a powerful deck. I played an Elendril rush deck but I tried to beef it up and remove some of the weenie elements. I did not want to play a cookie cutter Elendril deck, but there are elements of the deck that work well. I ran a very ally heavy deck with 4 furys and 4 Bloodclaws. I also had limited abilities. 4 Aimed Shots were ready for a late game push or for instant ally removal.

Round 1: Gorebelly. I was a little worried as I have played this player before but I had never faced his solo warrior deck. I started out okay, but I knew that the early turns would be in my favor as he built up. I managed to rack up quite a bit of damage but I stalled late in the game and could not get the final damage done. His buffed weapons tore through my defense and I did not have a late game answer. Game two went much the same way as game one, but I was able to clear away some of his weapons but I was blocked from doing any real damage by his armor. I managed to come away with the victory because an aimed shot top decked and I did just enough to end the game. Game three did not go my way. I did not get any early game advantage and again his weapons started tearing through my allies. He also got defense up early that negated any attack I might have mounted. A feeble late game surge did not do enough to allow me to get a victory. So match one ended and I had a 0-1 record.

Round 2: Timmo. I know this player and deck very well. We play at least one a week and sometimes as many as 5 or 6 times a week. The first game went perfectly in my favor. My opponent made a tactical error when he got threw and did damage but did not have the resources to poison my hero. He conceded when I had enough board control to defeat his hero and he had no defense available. Game two I got a near perfect draw. I dropped multiple allies turn two and turn three and even with my opponent destroying allies as fast as he could I had a overwhelming board advantage and was able to rush my was to the victory. At the end of round 2 I was 1-1.

Round 3: Warrax. This was actually a type of mirror match. We both had rush decks. I put myself in a huge hole when I misplayed and was assessed (correctly assessed) a game loss penalty in game 1 of the match. I was very worried as we started game 2. I drew poorly and after a mulligan had a below average hand. I managed to weather an early Latro and Teep attack and took control of the board. Late game I managed to top deck Aimed shot again and evened the match. I drew well for game three and started out with a lot of small allies. My opponent cleared the board but I was able to keep grinding away. I used two Aimed shots to take out 1 health healing allies. Late game I had Fury and Sentry Gwynn out. he was very low on health so was looking to block my final attack. He top decked Skullflame Shield and played it and a Parvink. He later expressed that he should have taken a second Parvink from his graveyard and put it on the board. It would not have mattered. I was sitting with a Multi-Shot. I pulled a card, laid it as a resource and hit his hero for 2 and destroyed his Parvink. He conceded the game as once Parvink was destroyed either Gwynn or Fury would do enough to finish his hero. This was a significant match for me as it was the first time I have beaten someone at a tournament that is not part of my gaming group. After round 3 I was 2-1.

Round 4 (final round): Sen'zir. I have played against this deck before and had not performed very well at all. This match did not take long, nor did I put up much of a fight. I was defeated on turn seven of the first game, and after turn six of the second. I could not keep allies on the field as he managed to clear any threat I managed to bring out. I tried stalling late in game two but he was able to remove any obstacles and deal me a lot of hurt. So the day ended with me at 2-2.

So I finished 6th over all.

So I came away with a very nice Zy'lah playmat and some new goals. I want to finish a tournament over the .500 mark. I think I might have been able to do that playing a more traditional weenie rush, but I still want to play a more powerful deck, and be able to withstand a few Frost Nova like splash effects. The competition was a bit more serious compared to the other tournaments I have played in. I was issued a warning (illegal play - targeting a weapon when stronghold gauntlets were in play) and got the game loss penalty for my moronic mistake with Parvink on turn two. Going forward I think I need to put a few more defensive cards in to answer for the solo decks and perhaps that Arcanite Reaper can find a place in my hunter deck.

Overall it was a lot of fun.

Unfortunately I could not stay for the Lazy Peon tourney that followed the regionals. I think I will build a lazy peon deck around Radak or Dizdemona and see how it performs.



Starfire was my first rare card. I got it in my first starter (Moonshadow). I was quite excited as I looked through that first deck. I built my first strategy around Starfire as a game winning condition.

I like this card. Other than Pyroblast it is the highest direct damage ability in the game. Other cards like Backstab can do more damage but they rely on other cards or effects to be in place to be able to do that kind of damage. Chain Lightning and Multi-Shot do more damage (6 each) but they spread the damage over multiple targets.

So Starfire is the biggest ability you can pack in the game. At a cost of 5 it is a little expensive but there are not many allies that can withstand the damage inflicted by Starfire, in the Heroes of Azeroth set only 13 allies (not counting Tewa Wildmane) have 6 or more health. And you get to draw a card to boot. The biggest limitation is that it is not an instant, so you need to play it during your turn and you can't use it to respond to a big threat.

One interesting Moonshadow combo available is Starfire and Nature's Swiftness. On turn 3 you can play Nature's Swiftness for 3, which allows you to play your next card for 5 less than the regular cost. A big 5 damage Starfire on turn three can really put a dent into your opponents plans.

Contrary to my first plans Starfire is not an effective victory condition. It can help with pesky cards like Lady Jaina Proudmoore. In my druid deck I run a couple for ally removel in the mid to late game stages. It can be as good as a vanquish against most decks and can turn the tide of battle.

This post was posted both as a review on tNook and as Churchof the Game post.


Vesh'ral is one of the most valuable allies in horde rush decks. He is fairly cheap at a cost on only 3 and with 3 Attack he can do some damage. With Ferocity he can start dealing the hurt as soon as you play him.

However, Vesh'ral is on the weak side as this troll mage has only 1 Health. This leaves him open to the mass damage effects of Frost Nova and the Skullflame Sheild. So although he can dish out the damage he just can't take it.

It is pretty easy to see why this card is popular in many players decks. You play him on turn 3 and start hammering away at your opponent. It doesn't matter that he is easy to kill, with an attack of 3 he is usually a 1 for 1 trade.

Of the ferocious allies Vesh'ral is my pick for an early game card because of his big attack and with a protector in play to keep him around he can become a problem to your opponent. An effective grouping is Vesh'ral with Voss Treebender and Guardian Steelhorn. You use Voss Treebender to get Vesh'ral through protectors to your opponents hero and Guardian Steelhorn to keep Vesh'ral around for a turn or two.

This post was posted both as a review on tNook and as Church of the Game post.


Arena Football Week 4

Looking Back
Week 3 had some excellent matches. Unfortunately only got to see the second half of one game on AFLNet, the rest of the games I only got to see recaps or read about the results and this weekend looks to be the same as I have several events to attend on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

I wish I would have been able to watch either the Dallas or Nashville game last week. Dan Alexander (Nashville) and Josh White (Dallas) both had 5 rushing touchdowns. I don't think I have ever seen 5 rushing touchdowns in a game never mind by a single player. I think this is a direct result of the new substitution rules.

Looking Forward

Week 3 was a much better week for me. After spending the time to look at the matchups I went 6 and 1. This gives me a record on the year of 16 and 7. Unfortunately as I write this the site is still featuring a lot of Week 3 content so my research for many of these games is limited. I never realized how much I relied on the information I could get from the arena football site until this week.

Colorado Crush(2-1) at Philadelphia Soul(2-0)
The soul have not done well against the Crush in the past but a strong defensive effort will allow the Soul to defeat the crush in this weeks Thursday night game.

New York Dragons(0-2) at Tampa Bay Storm(0-3)
In this someone has to win game it is quite simple - no Garcia means no win for the Dragons.

Grand Rapids Rampage(1-2) at Utah Blaze(2-1)
Michael Bishop makes his Rampage debut. Utah is doing very well. I am going to go out on a limb and go with Grand Rapids for the upset.

Las Vegas Gladiators(1-2) at Arizona Rattlers(0-3)
Both the Gladiators and the Rattlers come into this game after losing in Week 3. This is the week the Rattlers get into the win column.

Chicago Rush(2-1) at Columbus Destroyers(1-1)
The Destroyers come off the bye and host the defending champion Chicago Rush. I keep seeing Chicago high in the power poll, but I don't see why. Sure they won it all last year but they were only 7 and 9 in the regular season. I will take the Destroyers over the Rush this week.

San Jose SaberCats(1-1) at Georgia Force(3-0)
Even this early in the season there is a lot of talk about the Dallas Deperadoes but the Force are also a team to watch. Even though San Jose is 5th in the Week 4 power poll, I think Georgia is too strong for San Jose and wins this one by a large margin.

Los Angeles Avengers(1-1) at New Orleans VooDoo(2-1)
The VooDoo are playing extremely well. I think that while the Avengers are playing well they will not be able to beat the VooDoo this week.

note: Looking at the stats for the Avengers they seem to have had the bye last week, but apparently so did the Columbus Destroyers and the San Jose SabreCats.

Nashville Kats(1-2) at Austin Wranglers(1-2)
I will take the Kats to upset the Wranglers this week, proving that I don't hold a grudge against a team that beat the Utah Blaze and kept me form being 7 and 0 last week. The Kats have a great defense and I think this week they can head to Texas and return home with a 2-2 record.

Dallas Desperados(3-0) at Orlando Predators(2-1)
This will be a real battle. It is also probably the toughest game to pick this week. Orlando is a very good team and I would pick them to win against almost any team this week. However, Dallas is too goods and is going to win a close game against the Predators.

Kansas City(1-2) has the bye this week.

Kor Cindervein

This is the first in series of short card reviews for theWorld of Warcraft Trading Card Game.

Kor Cindervein seems to be a pretty plain Alliance ally. A simple 3 resource ally with 3 attack and 3 health. This Dwarf Paladin is included as part of the Moonshadow,Timmo, Elendril, and Graccus starter decks (from Heroes of Azeroth Set). At first glance this common card seems pretty boring and uninspiring. However, if you look at the card more closely Kor does have some good in game value.

While Kor does not have any fancy powers he is a valuable assets.

  • With 3 attack he will take out a significant list of allies on a one for one trade. Of the 52 alliance allies 29 have 3 or fewer health, on the horde side 34 of the 52 allies have 3 or fewer health, and 8 of the 12 neutral allies and pets have 3 or fewer health. Some significant allies that fall into this category are Latro Abiectus, Parvink, Tristan Rapidstrike, Confessor Mildred, Guardian Steelhorn, Vaerik Proudhoof, Windseer Tarus, Fury, Helwen, Landro Longshot, Saltwater Snapjaw, and Thunderhead Hippogryph.
  • With 3 health he is above the damage threshold of Fire Blast, Frost Nova, Frost Shock, Multi-Shot, and Skullflame Shield he also performs well against Chain Lightning, Cleave, and Sinister Strike.

So if you are concerned that your Apprentice Teep and Sha'lin Nightwind will be vulnerable to any of the "deal 1 damage to all allies" effects then consider this dwarf as a replacement. I pulled Apprentice Teep from a deck I am building for regionals and I have been happy with Kor as a replacement. I did and now I have learned to like this card a lot.

Now that I have played with him I would rate him as a very good support card. He does not supplant Parvink as my favorite 3 resource ally, and he will never be the first ally I think of when building a deck, but I can see now why he was included in so many of the starters. He can be very effective in game even without special effect powers.

This post was posted both as a review on tNook and as Churchof the Game post.


The Show - Ze Frank

Ze Frank posted his last installment of the show today (first episode - last episode).

As I watch this episode for the third and forth time I am sad to see it go, as it gave me a lot of joy each day. I was not one of the lucky ones that was watching form the very beginning. It was a post on bOingBOing on June 21, 2006 that made me aware of the show and about a month later I started tuning in each day.

I also make note, as I watch this last episode that although I am not a hard charger I am also not really a sports racer. Ze took us all on a tour of his world and invited us to build something. And people did build things. I think what makes me the saddest about the end of the show is that I realize that I am an outsider looking in. As with so many things in my life I took form this community but I did not really contribute anything of merit. I read the forums, but never posted. So in this year long ride that Ze finished today I was an observer instead of a participant.

This strikes me as something I need to be aware of, something I need to act on. I need to start doing more and talking less. I need to become more active and open and outgoing. As I was writing this post i started writing how I would have to go back and watch the older episodes I never got a chance to see... but I think I need to go out and make something instead.

I have finally gotten into a regular habit of posting here, but I need to do more. I need to start interacting.

So I close with a big Thank You Ze! the show was fantastic, and in the end it not only entertained me and made me laugh, but it has opened my eyes and hopefully put me on the road to being a better person.


Lessons Learned

I am really enjoying the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game.

Now that I have been playing for a while I am starting to see some of the errors I made when I was just starting the game. When I started the game I saw all these cards that allowed you to interact with your graveyard. There are cards that let you pull allies from your graveyard and put them back into play or back into your hand. Cards that pulled allies out of your graveyard (or better yet your opponents graveyard) for an in game effect.

Early on I focused on this aspect of the game. I loaded my decks with 4 Chasing A-Me 01 quests. I had 2 Call the Spirit in every deck I built. I made sure that the horde decks had Ophelia Barrows and alliance decks had Medoc Spiritwarden.

I also put at least 2 Blueleaf Tubers into each deck because I thought that would allow me to reuse cards that I have put into the graveyard earlier in the game. I was thinking... it doesn't matter that I only have 1 Starfire. IF I use it I can always use Blueleaf Tubers and reuse the same card again.

The first lesson learned: focus on your deck not your graveyard.

Then I shifted my focus to abilities. I saw that the abilities had a really big in game effect. Pyroblast, Chain Lightning, Starfire, Healing Touch, all of these can turn a game around. So I started to remove allies from my decks to allow more of these abilities.

Unfortunately, this justified my original mix of graveyard scouring cards. I could put in just a couple of Sarmoths and keep bringing him back again and again. I added a lot of protectors because I could stall the game with them and have some slow burn (Curse of Agony) or big splash (Pyroblast) abilities for a quick end game.

Finally I started to notice that I was being beaten by decks because I was focused on at best stalling techniques and at worst purely defensive mechanics. Stalling can be a valid game strategy but stalling is best suited to take control of the board and then take some action. My decks were stalling and after I had control of the board I didn't really have anything to act with, so I would gain the upper hand and wait for my opponent to take it back. A purely defensive strategy is likewise fairly weak as you are preventing your opponent from winning but you are not making any progress to winning yourself.

Second lesson learned: focus on your victory conditions, not on blocking your opponents victory conditions.

So I have started to rebuild many of my decks nearly from scratch.

I started by looking at the decks that I play against in local tournaments and casually. In tournaments many of the decks I have faced have been rush decks. Casually the decks are more of a mix with more burn decks than I see in tournaments.

So I started by building a Warlock control deck. I started by stripping out the extra quests and abilities that were not giving me some board advantage. I stacked my deck with some bigger allies for my end game, and dropped quite a few protectors. I kept some early game protectors to allow me to develop the game I wanted. I dropped a few of the slow damage over time abilities and pared down the abilities in my deck looking for viable removal.

What I ended up with is a fairly effective warlock deck. I also built the deck so that it could easily switch to horde or alliance.

The next step was to rebuild my hunter. This deck had been quite effective casually but did not preform well at the one tournament I it in. I looked at the deck and again took out the extra quests and the unimportant abilities. I realized when I started rebuilding the deck that I had built a deck that on paper would perfrom well but that did not match my personal play style. SO I started to pull out allies like Apprentice Teep and replace her with bigger allies that would survive a Frostnova or a Skullflame Shield.

So after a few months of playing I am starting to get of the rust on not playing a CCG in many years and I am starting to see the better strategies of the game. I am focusing on my own victory rather than preventing my opponent form working towards his victory. I am concentrating on my deck rather my graveyard. I am also focusing on the current game rather than trying to force the current game into the pattern of previous games.

I find the game tremendously fun to play and I look forward ot the lessons I will learn in up coming tournaments. I look forward to the new expansion and can't wait to see some of the new cards that will be released with the Dark Portal set.


Sneak Preview

After Regionals Mark at Gamers Lair has a sneak preview of the new Dark Portal expansion set.

March 31st, 2007 9:00 am at Gamers Lair

Sealed Pack with 4 Dark Portal Boosters and 2 Heros of Azeroth boosters.

Looks like I will be spending another Saturday at Gamers Lair.


A new site for collaborative writing was started recently. Ficlets lets authors write short fiction snippets. The stories grow by others writing sequels and prequels to the existing stories.

Looks like a real fun way to share and build stories.

AFL Week 3

Week 3 will have some excellent matchups. The Soul visit Grand Rapids in a game that will feature some fantastic offense. Dallas trvels to Kansas City and this year the Desperadoes are going to bring an exciting game no matter where they go. The VooDoo continue to play well representing New Orleans, and they travel this week to Las Vegas for a game with the Gladiators.

I didn't do as much research for week 2 and it showed. My record last week was 3-6 putting me at 10-8 for the year.

Utah Blaze(2-0) at Nashville Kats(0-2)
I really want to pick tha Kats this week but the experts are giving the edge to Utah. Utah has been a suprise this year jumoing out to a 2-0 start. I have to go with the experts and give Utah a third win this season.

Philadelphia Soul(1-0) at Grand Rapids Rampage(1-1)
The soul should win to start the season 2-0. The Soul started the season with a bye but last week were very strong against the Kats. This week the Soul bring their string defence to Grand Rapids and will leave Michigan with a 2-0 record.

Austin Wranglers(1-1) at Orlando Predators(1-1)
Last week the Predators lost in overtime, this week they won't let the game stay that close. Ryan Altizer at predicts this to be an exciting southwest division battle.

Dallas Desperados (2-0) at Kansas City Brigade(1-1)
Although Mike Rose at picked Kansas City to upset the Depesperados. I can't see the Brigade pulling the upset the week so I am going to pick safe and put Dallas at 3-0 on the season.

Arizona Rattlers(0-2) at Coloroado Crush(1-1)
Colorado has been very string this year and will make it look easy against the visiting Rattlers.

Georgia Force(2-0) at Tampa Bay Storm(0-2)
The Force travel south to Tampa Bay and will leave the struggling Stgorm with a 0-3 record.

New York Dragons(0-1) at Chicago Rush(1-1)
The Dragons without Garcia are not going to beat anyone. Chicago is not going to have any trouble winning this one. New York is going to wait a while to get a win this year.

New Orleans VooDoo(1-1) at Las Vegas Gladiators(1-1)
The VooDoo win again. The key to the game is going to be defense. A big play, turnonver, or defensive stop will lift the VooDoo to the victory.

Columbus Destroyers(1-1) have a bye this week.

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