Thursday, August 19, 2021

What If We Had More Time?

I recently talked about how terrifying my impending end is to me, and I said it's because of how little time I have compared to how much I'll miss.

I'm not sure that's the whole story, though, so I asked myself, "What if I had more time?"

The answers I found were enlightening, but it did take me through a rabbit hole to get there. I'll invite you to come along for the explanation, but again, the existential dread warning applies.

Let's start with something reasonable, like a medical breakthrough that doubles my life expectancy. Say by the time I'm 60 they can add 40 more years to my life. Then, by the time those years are up, they've figured a way to add another 25, and so on. We could almost believe that's possible. And for sake of simplicity, they're all healthy years, not just living on a machine years. I imagine the same medical breakthroughs are helping everybody, so I don't have to worry about outliving my kids or anything depressing like that. Everyone gets to live like the average 60 year old for an extra hundred years. How much would that change?

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

If You're Reading This, I'm Already Dead

Statistically speaking, that is. But more on that later.

Before we really get started, a warning: This is going to get heavy, so if you're prone to anxiety or existential dread, maybe now's the time to turn back.

Death has really been on my mind lately. Some days it's all I can think about, but that's kind of hard to avoid when you've lost as many family members recently as you can count on your right hand. Within about a year, I lost two grandparents to just time, two uncles prematurely to cancer, and a third uncle in a freak accident decades before his time should have come. That's not even the scary part. The scary part is looking at the fingers on my left hand that I know I'm about to count with. Likewise, of course, is the realization that at some point I'm the one that will be counted.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Grand Prix Legacy Report

Well, I took my Mono-Black Clerics deck out again, this time to the Magic Grand Prix. I avoided the main event as I'm not one for sealed, but I entered into two Legacy side events. Each event was an 8 man, single elimination tournament. The winner would claim a box of gatecrash; the runner up would earn himself free entry to another event. It sounded like a great deal, so I signed up. I expected the competition to be even harder than what I faced in my last event, because the Grand Prix could draw people from all over.

In the first event, my first opponent was a deck with red sleeves. My turn one play was Cabal Therapy and firing from the hip I called Lightning Bolt. He turned up his hand to reveal Combo Elves (ooh, that sly devil!). He played a forest and Fyndhorn Elves. I returned with a Dark Ritual and double Hymn to Tourach. That play ripped out his good stuff: a Green Sun's Zenith, Wirewood Symbiote, Deathrite Shaman, and another Fyndhorn Elves. He was basically left with mana producers, lands, and no cards in hand, but I wasn't drawing much either. He played Crop Rotation for Gaea's Cradle and I laid my Graveborn Muse down. He looked like he was going to come back with a Green Sun's Zenith for a Craterhoof Behemoth, but he had to tap out to play it so that was the only thing that could attack. I took its damage that turn, but was able to chump it for the rest of the game. For sideboard, I brought in Pithing Needle. In the early turns I made him discard Green Sun's Zenith and I dropped a Pithing Needle on Wirewood Symbiote. I looked to be in a dominant position, so when I played Umezawa's Jitte he just sighed "that's enough."

Monday, November 19, 2012

Homebrew vs Legacy

This past Sunday I went to my first actual competitive Legacy event, and I brought my cheap ass homebrew deck. Honestly, the entire deck cost less than a pair of dual lands. I went in expecting to get stomped and was pleasantly surprised with the results. Thirteen people showed up that night; I came out in sixth place. Arguably, I should have had fifth or higher, but I will get to that in a few minutes. First, this is the actual decklist I ran:
Dechs Mono-Black Clerics
2 Cavern of Souls
16 Swamp
2 Cabal Pit
4 Cabal Archon
4 Cabal Therapy
4 Rotlung Reanimator
3 Shepherd of Rot
4 Priest of Gix
4 Skirsdag High Priest
4 Dark Ritual
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
4 Hymn to Tourach
3 Graveborn Muse
2 Umezawa's Jitte
SB: 3 Leyline of the Void
SB: 4 Surgical Extraction
SB: 4 Pithing Needle
SB: 4 Unearth
You will see a lot of synergies here, but the basic plan is to turn sideways enough to bring the opponent into range of an Archon kill. I have the Skirsdag High Priest to create flying creatures if that becomes relevant, but honestly he is often just a sacrificial creature. Rotlungs enable overrun with a bunch of smaller tokens too. "Turn sideways" also includes the ability on Shepherd of Rot, with the Jitte and Archon to keep me ahead of the death clock. I've received criticism that the deck has too many win conditions, but I think that's what I like about it the most. The idea is that I should not get hosed by any one deck out there.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Secret World

Remember when I asked myself "What now?" Well, now I have a solid answer.

I will be making a new home in The Secret World, which I've been playing for about a week now. The game is extremely new as MMOs go. Hell, they're still offering a lifetime subscription (which could be a good or bad thing). So far, I'm really enjoying myself, I just haven't had much time to get really immersed.

My favorite thing about this game is that it is skill based, as opposed to class or level based. In The Secret World (TSW), as you gain experience, you get ability and skill points. You can learn any ability/skill you want so long as you have the prerequisites. That is to say, there's no reason a "wizard" can't learn how to swing a sword. There's also no limit to the amount of ability and skill points you can obtain, so eventually, your character can learn to do everything. Right now, in game Dechs wields a sword, a pair of pistols, and a fedora. I expect to add elemental magic next.

There are typically two downsides to such a free form character building set of rules. The first is that it becomes incredibly easy to gimp a character. TSW doesn't allow you to refund spent ability points, but because there's no ceiling to the points you can learn, your character is never permanently gimped. It takes more effort to fix a gimp than to start out right from the beginning, but there's no reason to reroll a character. The other common problem is the "tankmage" build. If there is one optimized build that just outperforms all the others, then every character will be the same. As long as the game developers balance the abilities well, this won't be a problem at all. The game might end up with very powerful characters, but as long as there are difficulty levels to accommodate, again, it's not a problem. I haven't been playing long enough to know how well this was handled.

My least favorite thing about the game is the "limited" character appearance options. I use quotes because I'm used to City of Heroes where you could make just about any bipedal thing you wanted, but it's really not so bad. In TSW, I can't have wings and I can't have spikes coming out of my head. I have to be a human, but I can still dress him up just about any way I want. Aside from weapons, gear doesn't have any affect on appearance, so there's no wearing a trash can just because it has good stats.

Overall I really like the game and I can see myself staying a long time, so much that I'm even considering that expensive lifetime subscription. If any of you are looking for a new game after the City has shut down, TSW gets all my recommendations. If you're interested, just try the game out. There's a free trial on the first page that's apparently longer than the refer a friend version.

As always, thanks for reading. I hope to see you around.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

My Magic: the Gathering History

I realize that before I start telling anyone about what Magic: the Gathering I'm doing now, I need to talk a little about what I've done.

My first games of Magic were in middle school and it all started with a pile of boosters from Portal 2nd Age and some from Fifth Edition that we found in a Goodwill. Back then, my friends knew me as the "best player" just because I ran Counterspell. We didn't know what dual lands were; we hardly understood the stack. Those days were ignorant, innocent, and blissfully fun. I put my cards down for four years, though, while I went to college.

At my first job I met a guy who had been collecting cards for as long as I'd known about Magic. When I told the old glory stories of my awesome deck, he coaxed me into dragging the cards out of storage for a game over lunch. The problem was, my new friend actually knew how to play Magic and build a good deck. This guy wiped the floor with me using a mono white cleric based control deck. Parallax Wave and Monk Idealist became the bane of my existence. I felt like total crap after the first couple games and I almost gave up on Magic altogether, but my friend saved me from making a terrible decision. Instead of gloating over a win, he started to teach me and explain his card choices. This is where I first started thinking about Magic on a technical level and set my mind to creating decks that had a plan.

What now?

It's old news by now, but for those of you who haven't heard: City of Heroes is being shut down. I'm told the lights go out November 30th. It's no secret that the majority of my blog content has been about City of Heroes, so that leaves me with a very important question to answer for anyone still reading this. What now?

Before I get to that, I need to say this to all my friends in game that haven't seen me in a while: I'm sorry. When the news hit us over a month ago, it took something away from the game for me. I logged in once and tried to have a bit of fun, but that knowledge of the impending end just wouldn't go away. I simply haven't had the heart to log in since. I had always claimed I'd be there until the bitter end, but I had no idea how bitter this could taste.

That said, I'm still here. My writing is still important to me. The stories I started are incomplete, and I won't stop until they're done. More than that, I won't stop sharing my knowledge of the games I play. Since City of Heroes has closed, I've been able to focus much more time into an old past time of mine, Magic: The Gathering. Right now I'm very much into Draft and EDH, I've been getting into Legacy again, and we'll see where it goes from there.

I have found a new MMO that I really enjoy: The Secret World. If you care to meet up with me in game, the name is Dechs, and I'm on the Arcadia dimension. More of my thoughts on the game can be found here.

Thanks for reading,