Monthly Archives November 2012

Portals of the Week

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Kickstarter Round-Up Epic Kitchen Edition: A Sword-Pan & Horn Goblet

Usually when we do Kickstarter rounds up, it is for great looking board games. This week though, we’re going to the kitchen for two that I automatically pledged my support for.

Combat Kitchenware

Status: Funded!
End date: December 13, 2012
Minimum Pledge to get it: $45 for a pan
Expected release date:  January 2013

What is it: A frying pan with a sword handle. And it it’s dishwasher safe! IT IS A SWORD-PAN!

Why you should pledge: What part of IT IS A SWORD-PAN didn’t you understand? I originally thought our Baker’s battle-whisk and our Chef’s frying pan buckler were good, but a sword-frying-pan? That is absolutely absurd but so incredibly perfect.

If you don’t want a Teflon coated pan, stainless steel and cast iron are available – and there are two different handles to pick from: the hero and the villain. As a project, I give them my highest praise: I wish I had thought of this.

As an added bonus, there are a limited number of cast iron Christmas pans available for a holiday release.

Das Horn: the Definitive Drinking Horn

Status: Funded!
End date: December 12, 2012
Minimum Pledge to get it: $35
Expected release date: February 2013

What is it: a plastic horn goblet with a stainless steel rim

Why you should pledge: I can’t be the only one who wants to be a viking. While I regularly feel like I was born in the wrong century, this is  the kind of chalice that deserves to be in your kitchen. Besides the fact that it holds almost two beverages (and it is shaped like a horn), it’s genius in its execution. Oh, and it comes with a neck strap since you can’t set it down.

With enough support, it will also include a display stand that will make this an epic accessory on your mantle. So go pledge your support!

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Portals of the Week

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Castles and Cooks Holiday Gift Guide

Buying gifts for gamers can be a real challenge. They are constantly picking up the newest games, Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: the Gathering might as well be foreign languages. So the Castles & Cooks brain trust joined forces to come up with 25 fantastic holiday gifts in a variety of price points.

Chocolate Dice – $8
If you need a stocking stuffer for any tabletop player, get them a delicious treat in the shape of a set of dice. It’s cheap, adorable and delicious. Available in white, 6o% and dark chocolate.

Bag O Zombies – $10
This is a bag of 100 zombies for $10, how is that not awesome? Any self-respecting DM can find a reason to use these, but when don’t you need a bag of zombies? It doesn’t matter if you play ZOMBIES or not – and they come in regular zombie gray or glow-in-the-dark!

LEGO Gandalf Arrives – $13
Lord of the Rings holds a special place in almost every geek’s heart, but as a desktop decoration, they don’t get more perfect than this. Gandalf’s cart is adorable and full of fireworks and a LEGO Frodo may be the cutest thing in the world.

Hogwarts Acceptance Letter – $15
Even if it didn’t arrive on your 11th birthday, getting a personalized acceptance letter to Hogwarts will bring a smile to any wizard’s holiday.

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Portals of the Week

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Looking back and Heading Forward

When Tom and I started Castles and Cooks, things were very different. We were both stuck in corporate jobs that eroded our very souls and we needed an outlet to express ourselves besides hiding NERF guns in our office desks (that may have been just me). The site has evolved into something I don’t think either of us ever expected.

Two and a half years later, we’re looking at a website that is the most twisted take on a chimera I’ve seen in a long time. Our fracture posts are incomprehensible and off kilter, but I kind of like it that way. But between Wizards of the Coast feeling the need to release a new Magic product every two months and some major changes in the lives of all our authors, something has to give.

In the beginning, Castles and Cooks allowed us to escape the confines of the corporate 9-5 grind. Drafting feasts and sending each other messages about how one would go about cooking a dragon was a fun way to pass the time, but in the last few months, Tom and I have both walked away from that path. Don’t get me wrong, we’re still playing games and cooking, but our changes have meant much less time to write.

In the last few months, I’ve gone from a soul sucking corporate job that was literally so mismanaged, I didn’t have a boss to tell that I was quitting to working for a local toy store. I’ve always loved toys (my other website might be a giveaway) and being able to spend my days talking about LEGO sets while getting paid is something I never could have imagined.

This change though means some aspects of my life have to relent. Sadly, I simply don’t have the time or energy to write about dungeons, castles, dragons and cooks every single day. Combined with the awful burnout I suffered during the Return to Ravnica spoiler season, I’m left questioning where I want Castles and Cooks to go from here.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Magic: the Gathering and I don’t ever see myself quitting the game (I know Tom, that’s a sunk cost fallacy), but I feel like Magic and I are at a crossroads and I don’t see us going the same direction. I do see us going alongside other kinds of tabletop games, but Castles and Cooks was never meant to be a site about Magic.

As for the cooking side of things, I’ve loved experimenting in the kitchen with new ideas but often those concepts are hard to give a fantasy twist to. Bleu cheese and steak pizza is delicious, but I don’t think dwarves are chowing down on it at the local inn. I would love to expand into true fantasy feasting that isn’t such a reach. I want Castles and Cooks to be a site where when people say they want to try lembas, blue milk or butterbeer, we are the place people direct them to.

Food and gaming are about the exact same thing at the end of the day: bringing people together. And while real life seems adamant at throwing us as many curve balls as it can, Castles and Cooks will prevail.

And this is where you come in. Castles and Cooks has grown far beyond what I imagined was possible, but now I’m asking you to give back. I want to craft a list of recipes across all fandoms and I need you to tell us what foods you want to finally taste.

While I may have deemed myself the Baker when we launched, I am much more than that and it is time to put the cooking back in Castles and Cooks.

Cheers,

Jesse

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Portals of the Week

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Custom Gaming: Batman Zombicide

Since posting this, we have revisited Gotham City for Zombicide and have updated this character. To see the new Batman, with revised rules, visit Zombicide: Gotham City.

The streets of Gotham have become overrun with a new menance. Gone are the Joker and his goons, but this new plague would make Black Mask shudder.

But they forget one thing. This is my city.

And I will do anything to protect her. I am the Dark Knight.

After the success of my last foray into customizing Zombicide, this weekend was spent playing Zombicide with a group of friends who had never gotten to play it. The biggest enjoyment people got was from the various thinly-veiled parodies that each character represented and they wanted more.

Originally the plan was to do an entire Justice League or an assortment of Batman’s rogue gallery – if anything would bring Batman and the Joker together, it would be the zombie apocalypse. But then I started designing Batman’s card and he’s a complicated (and awesome) hero.

So here is the Dark Knight himself:

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Portals of the Week

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Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Review: Gold, Artifact & Land

I know what you’re thinking, how can a Return to Ravnica review have gold cards when we already did the guild reviews (followed by how come it has taken this long to judge cards)? Well, one card didn’t have a guild symbol. So there.

Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Reviews
Azorious Senate  | Izzet League | Cult of Rakdos | Golgari Swarm | Selesnya Conclave
White | Blue | Red | Black | Green | Gold, Artifact & Lands

Vraska the Unseen

Planeswalkers are an interesting breed for multiplayer games. The normal test is can they defend themselves, but when facing down three or four opponents, defending isn’t a real option – until now. Vraska’s +1 evokes No Mercy with great delight. Taking a page out of the Azorious playbook, her ability lasts until your next turn so unless someone can one-short this gorgon, she’s going down with one hell of a fight.

Her -3 is great since everyone loves Vindicate (well, except the person it has been cast against). Then there is her ultimate which is hilariously over the top. Getting three 1/1 assassins isn’t great, but getting mini-Phages is amazing. Thankfully they only trigger off combat damage, but I’m just dying to play around with the assassins and Camouflage. Oh, and this seals the deal on my Golgari-Populate deck idea.

Chromatic Lantern

This is mana fixing! For anyone considering any multicolor (or even mono-colored) Commander deck, you probably want to run this. We may have finally found a replacement for Darksteel Ingot! But where this card interests me most is the weirder color combinations that don’t always get mana fixing support – like white-red-black. Oh, and this is a minor piece of mana acceleration.

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