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Archive for February 9, 2015

Better call Saul

tvIt’s odd, I seem to be watching more television than I ever have before. At least more than I’ve watched a very long time, and this is in great part due to the fact that my wife is watching a lot of this with me. Ladies you know that saying that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach? Totally wrong. A way to a man’s heart is by watching his television shows with him.  Seriously sit down and watch an episode of Doctor Who with them or catch the football game with him on Sunday and then talk with him about it – I’m telling you it’s almost better than sex. It’s one of the things that my wife does with me that I love the absolute most.

better-call-saul-premiere-dateSo I watched the premiere of Better Call Saul this weekend, and it has some bad will TheWalkingDeadPosterimmediately because of the way AMC tried to shoehorn it in between Walking Dead and Talking Dead (especially considering how emotional WD was this week!) I understand trying to follow a strong popular series with a new series that you’re trying to promote, but to move the Talking Dead (which is basically the documentary on how each episode is made)further back, it’s too late in the night that for that nonsense and you lose momentum. Better Call Saul needed a very strong series premiere to build over come the bad will there.

This was not that strong Episode.

One of the things that made the Saul character work in Breaking Bad is that he was the comic relief.What I was really hoping for in  Better Call Saul was a single camra comedy with dashes of drama kind of taking itself seriously but still being funny. This is not what we got, and the character lacks the gravitas to really pull the levels of dram they are shooting for. Saul was always designed as a one-dimensional character in this attempt to go back and retcon him into some sort of layered deep character just doesn’t work. I will not be back for the rest of the series and quite frankly I think the entire conception was a Misstep. I realize we’re  following Breaking Bad, but Better Call Saul wasn’t the way to do it.  Better Call Saul would be better served as something lighthearted and funny.

gothamAmong other things you’re watching this weekis Gotham. There was a real misdirect here, I was looking foreward to the Scarecrow episode and to discove it was his father was a little disappoing.  I think the scarecrow could be someone older than Bruce Wayne, in fact I’d love to have seen him actually be one of Wayn’s  teachers, however, being homeschooled now kinda puts the kibosh onthat. The biggest misdirect however was  the way that Edward Nigma was suspended. I thought for sure this is the beginnings of the Riddler and it would make perfect sense for him to be disgruntled after being fired from the police force, but no, by the end of the episode the status quo was restored and he was back on the force. I’m not sure if that was a missed opportunity or not .

We were also delighted to return with Wizard Wars. This series really engaged me, and I think it’s got to do with the way it’s a competition and also with the stage and parlor aspects of it. I tried watch the show following it on SYFY a sort street magic kind of series NUP_159570_729.jpgwhich is interesting in itself,  but I’m not that into street magic I’ve always been drawn far more to parlor and stage magic, indeed that’s the kind of magic that I do.
Sci-fi did manage to raise my ire however. The series premiered the week previous and I missed it and there’s no way of me watching it on sci-fi without loggin in with some arcane credentials from my cable provider. I used to catch up with Hollywood treasure by watching online and it kind of pisses me off that site is making it so much more difficult to keep up onthier shows. Just another reason to hate the network I suppose.

I enjoyed the flash this week as well. The Flash has really been quite a discovery for me, I don’t think I wanted to like this as much as I do (I suppose a misguided loyalty to the 1990 series) but I caught up on the entire series over he Christmas break and found it to be really well done at whole lot of fun. The return of the series has been no exception. We’re back to monster of the week and in fact this a villian we’ve never seen in the comics, but The Flashthere is also another bit with the Pied Piper. The scene with his implants was horrifying and we can see he can be quite a violent character, and I think actually more interesting than anything we’ve seen in the comics.

Really I think this is where the Flash’s strength lies.

They embraced that this is a comic book, something that superhero shows in the past of really shied away from. Arrow even took a long time to get there.

You can see where they are trying to shoehorn Firestorm in to the series. We’re in full back-door pilot mode, though I can’t really see Firestorm carrying his own series. A miniseries or perhaps even setting up appearances in Justice league? This would be the smartest thing at DC could possibly do. Far smarter then steadfastly trying to separate their television and cinematic universe, but that’s a whole other tangent, we don’t really wanna get into that right now.

That’s it for this week, Gotham is on tonight and I will be seeing in front of the television with my wife seeing where we go with the scarecrow ! Can’t wait. (but since we have to, go check out todays Violent Blue!)


Illuminations: Competitive Vs Casual?

DC ClixI still have lots of friends in the game and I admit I still poke around HC Relms from time to time. I found this article recetnly and really liked it, and though I’d share it with all of you.
Competitive Vs Casual?
Jamie Macneil (Jmacneil1329)

When I first started playing HeroClix, it was purely for fun. I work with a group of teenagers, teaching them strategic games, and I picked up HeroClix to play with them and to have a cool game to teach. We had a lot of house rules, mistakenly messed up on a lot of power interactions, and had a great deal of fun. Most importantly, we were able to help the kids make friends, have a good time, and develop some life skills. We didn’t have many resources, but we tried hard to get donations for pieces and spare board games. We even bought discount bricks online to run tournaments for them. After a while, the other volunteers, Sam Nurge and John Elia, and I started playing by ourselves with all sorts of teams, reading over the ‘Realms, and having more fun making competitive teams and being more involved in the game.

The next step for us seemed to be going to bigger tournaments, but as we read the forums and talked to more people online, we got the impression that competitive players were a mean group who would stab you in the back and steal your dog if they got the chance. This led us to stay away from any big tournaments (no matter how much we wanted the chance to make our own figure or ATA) and make assumptions about anyone that went to big tournaments and events. I never wanted to find myself becoming “one of those meta guys.” I told myself I would have no part in being a jerk gamer and therefore wouldn’t go to any conventions. Just like most other HeroClix players, I found the biggest jerk who was semi-competitive and type-casted the rest of competitive clixers to be just like him. When we brought the teens that we worked with to weekly events, he was the type of guy who would cheat them with false rulings and short clixing when I wasn’t looking. It always made me upset and turned me away from the competitive scene even more.

A few years later, the Infinity Gauntlet came around right when I was headed back to college. The figures and Infinity Gauntlet were too good to pass up, so I found a group to go to near my school and started taking the drive to the store. I even taught a few new guys to play and brought them along. The store was called Comics and More and it was in the King of Prussia mall, the second biggest mall in America, so naturally it brought a large and diverse group. Every week these guys helped my friends and I build teams, gave us free figures, and even bought our entry fee for us sometimes; they were by far some of the best clixers I’ve ever met.

During one of these events, I was in the running to win, and I had never won before so I was pretty excited. I had figured out a tricky team based on BB Shazam and IH Hulk/SM Libra. Basically, I would convert Bruce Banner into Hulk (who ignores all damage unless the attack roll is doubles) and have two Libras there to re roll opponents attacks (because its not prob). I would get in people’s faces to tie them up, while Shazam would swing around with two AIM Agents and pick people off. In the second to last match, my opponent told me the Hydra TA didn’t benefit you unless the person shooting actually had the Hydra TA. The judge confirmed the ruling even though I argued against it, and it cost me the hit I needed to win. I ended up coming in fourth. When my opponent found out the ruling was wrong, he called me the next day, apologized profusely, and gave me a free Black Adam SR figure to make up for it.

I realized I was in the best play group ever. I was surrounded by people who wanted to benefit, not only the game they were playing, but also the people playing it. My friends and I were always invited back, invited to different events outside of gaming, and generally taken care of. What shocked me is that I was playing with some of the best players in the game.

I found out most of these people went to high level events, competed at a Worlds level tournament, and even regularly played with a Worlds winner at another local play group. I was perplexed. I thought Worlds players were wolves in sheep’s clothing! I thought Worlds players were all out to get me! I was told they were all jerks that couldn’t care less about anything except prize sharking and glory grabbing, but I realized that was wrong.

m_deadpool_sdcc12tourAfter that, I started to attend more events, went to all the local tournaments, and met a lot of great guys. When Realms Open Championship’s (ROC) came out, I started to go to those and even hosted one of my own. Again, some of the best players from around the world sat across the table from me and gave me a smile and a nice handshake. I won some, I lost some, but the game only got better. When I lost, I tried to be graceful and my opponents were friendly. When I won, I received the same courtesy and I always left tournaments with a smile and a sense of fun.

Eventually I made my way to Dragon*Con for the ROC Championship. The first day of the event was an absolute blast! I lost to Joshua Ernest (probably the nicest person I have ever met) in the final round of the ROC held that day and ended up coming in third. Even though I didn’t win, I made great friends. The second day was even better; I met people like Pat Yapjoco, Keenan Notae, and Matt Devine (all people who know the game in and out and can play better than almost anyone I know). Some of the funniest times I can remember happened sitting around a Hibachi table, all with the people I used to think were out to short their way to the top.

Later on in the day, Matt Devine and I had the unfortunate luck to be held up at gunpoint hours before we were supposed to play in the championship. They took everything… even Matt’s clix (that they probably had no idea what to do with). When the community heard about it, they came to life. I was expecting to get no sympathy from these people competing to win their share of the $15,000, but instead, they paid for our meals, helped us find the clix we needed that were lost, gave us cards and dice and tokens and markers and maps, and everything we needed. Majestix even offered to let us all stay in their room. I couldn’t believe I had judged these gamers so poorly in the past, and I became very thankful that I had these new friends in my life.

Whatever I had heard on the ‘Realms about the “evil meta-gamers” was dead wrong, and whatever was told to me about “not having fun at high level events” was even more wrong. If I had stayed in the bubble of fearing ROC’s and Regionals, I would never have the privilege to know these people, nor would I have had the fun of great competition. I’m glad I made the change. I’m glad I stopped judging people’s intentions from behind a message board, and started letting myself have a good time at great tournaments. I realized that being “one of those meta-guys” would be a huge compliment.

If there is one piece of advice I can give, it is to not limit yourself to local events. Don’t be afraid to try your dice at a ROC table or take a trip to a big event. Big events are the place where you meet new people, get new ideas, and have tons of fun. Don’t ever let anyone tell you differently.