Monthly Archives January 2013

Arena Review: Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game

I’ve always balked a little bit on dueling miniatures games. Partly because restricting a game to 1 on 1 doesn’t really do a lot for me when hanging out with a group of friends, but also because I’ve never found them a lot of fun. But I love Star Wars, so when the X-Wing Miniatures game was released, I was somewhat interested. Then I saw the ship models and everything changed.

Suggested ages: 13 and up
Number of players: 2
Playing time: 15 – 20 minutes
Contents: Rulebook, Quick-start rulebook,  1 X-Wing and 2 Tie Fighters with stands & bases, ship tokens, dice, range ruler, obstacle markers, maneuver templates, 3 maneuver dials, damage/upgrade cards, ship cards, action tokens, mission tokens.
Retail price: $43.99 available on Amazon.com

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Gatecrash Casual & Commander Review: House of Dimir

Dimir isn’t real, right? Or is it? Either way, it introduces something new.

The House of Dimir in Gatecrash introduces two main concepts to Magic: Grinding and Cipher. Grinding is the new milling X lands ability that seems to be specially made for casual mill decks and gives multiplayer millers some impressive spells.

But more exciting is the ability Cipher. Turning sorceries into Auras in a way, Cipher allows you to cast the same spell again and again off combat triggers. And yes, it casts the spell which allows for some great abuse.

Gatecrash Casual & Commander Review
Orzhov Syndicate | House of Dimir | Simic Combine | Gruul Clans | Boros Legion
White | Black | Blue | Green | Red | Other

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

Hands of Binding

Cipher Detain? Oh I hope that becomes a thing when Dragon’s Maze happens! Hands of Binding is a neat little trick, but the value really comes from Cipher. Encouraging attacking is nice, but getting essentially auras that can’t be two-for-one’d is much better. As far as an ability, this isn’t great but could be awesome for limited.

Last Thoughts

How much would you pay to turn a creature into an Ophidian? For older players, I see the allure of this card being much greater. But the casting cost is just painful. 3U for a Curiosity that can’t be Disenchanted? That feels expensive.

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Gatecrash Casual & Commander Review: Orzhov Syndicate

A new Magic set is about to be released. Normally, I look at all the cards in the set (and I’m still going to do that), but to start things off – I’ve got to say wow. Wizards really knocked it out of the park with Gatecrash and there really is something for every kind of player. Like with Return to Ravnica, I will be going through each of the guilds first (WBUGR), then each unaffiliated set of cards so the final review will probably be 11 parts in total!

First up is the crime syndicate masquerading as a religion: Orhovz! This white-black guild introduces a new mechanic that is beyond multiplayer friendly. Extort allows you to pay a W or B whenever you cast a spell, to drain all your opponents for 1 life and you gain one. And to make it even better, the hybrid in it doesn’t apply to color identity rules in Commander! And it doesn’t hurt that this color combination is the best when it comes to removal either.

Gatecrash Casual & Commander Review
Orzhov Syndicate | House of Dimir | Simic Combine | Gruul Clans | Boros Legion
White | Black | Blue | Green | Red | Other

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

Basilica Guards

While not the most exciting card, getting additional sources of extortion is a good thing. For multiplayer, the defender aspect is a plus. It holds down the ground early game and is deceptive about just how much damage it is dealing.

Blind Obedience

Kismet is a great card… to draw a lot of attention to yourself. Blind Obedience gives you a cheap way to slow the game while you whittle away at life totals, but after a turn or two stalling the board… this card becomes the clear problem.

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Portals of the Week

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Portals of the Week

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Picking Up the Paintbrush: 6 Tips for Getting Started

Months ago, I backed Zombicide on Kickstarter. My friends and I play it regularly still (though not as much as I would like), after a few games, we got annoyed that all the zombies were the same shade of gray. The abominations and fatties were nicely differentiated, but the runners and walkers were all too easy to mix up as the hordes got massive.

So I decided to start painting my set (and if you like us on Facebook, you may have seen some of them already). All of them, which is over 100 miniatures. Here’s the catch: I’ve never painted miniatures before.

I’ve dabbled in customizing action figures in the past, but miniature painting is a new subject. Here’s what I’ve learned after painting over 100 figures.

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Crafting a Compelling D&D Delve

I can’t think of many better ways to ring in the New Year than DMing a dungeon delve. Especially when Jesse is one of the players that I can terrorize entertain and the party decided to venture to Athas and the frankly underutilized world of Dark Sun. (Editor’s Note: LEGOs make FANTASTIC minis for use in live games.)

I crafted my delve by adapting a full campaign that I had been developing, but never had the chance to execute. In doing so it led me to consider some of the essential principles of creating an engaging and fun delve that fits into a set play time. In this case, we were going to be delving for about 4 to 5 hours.

Some of the elements of a traditional campaign just don’t fit into a delve. Have you ever had a poor delve experience? If I had to guess, the reasons may have included poor time management and the game feeling less like D&D and more like miniatures combat.So, here are some tips for successfully crafting an engaging and fun dungeon delve.

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Armory Review: Fred & Friends Polluted Glasses

Over the years, I’ve accumulated an eccentric assortment of glassware. It seems to be the standard fallback gift for me (besides LEGO sets). So over the holidays one of my friends got me a set of glasses that is absolutely toxic.

Roll out the barrel and you’ll have a barrel of fun. There’s no better way to get wasted than our Polluted glasses and your favorite brand of poison. Totally intoxicating.

Like most of Fred’s products, the Polluted Glasses are a perfect gift for the person who won’t grow up (not for actual children). Shaped like toxic waste barrels and etched with a radiation symbol, I can’t guarantee drinking out of these will give you super powers, but it can’t hurt. Each glass is 10 ounces, making them a smidge too small for a bottle of beer but fine for a mixed drink.

But there are two issues I see with the glasses. First, they are thin. I’ve grown accustomed to drinking out of hearty pint glasses lately and find myself concerned about how fragile these are. They are also hand wash only, but that’s just me being lazy.

A toxic themed drink recipe is included as well, giving you a neon green that is disgustingly fun (and guys, if you really like appletinis, you can drink them out of these without any ridicule). I really like these glasses, but oddly, I find myself wishing they were made of plastic.

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Portals of the Week

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Armory Review: Robocup Measuring Cups

My assortment of kitchen utensils keeps getting weirder and weirder. What started with just some nerdy mugs blossomed into fine items like Pastasaurus and Mix Stix – it makes my kitchen look like someone stapled together Think Geek and Williams-Sonoma catalogs. It also means I own a lot of weird stuff that looks cool.

The Robocup Measuring Cups by Kikkerland sound like a great idea. It is four plastic measuring cups (quarter, third, half and one) that stack up to form a 50s-looking robot. Robocup looks great all stacked together on my shelf, but there is more to measuring cups then just how they look.

Made up of ABS plastic, Robocup is a solid construct – too solid for my liking. The oddly shaped pieces mean actual measuring isn’t the easiest. The awkwardly sharp angles make for items that just aren’t that useable – measuring cups have handles for a reason! If Robocup was made of a softer, more flexible rubber, he would work a lot better. At least it’s dishwasher safe!

While I don’t see myself using Robocup very often (I’m sticking with my beaten set that originally belonged to my grandmother), there’s no denying how cute the guy is. If you have a kid who wants to help out with baking (or you’re trying to find a way to get the kid to be interested in helping), these cups are a fun way to do that.

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