Category Reviews

One-Hour Library Review: Numenera

When I first started playing in D&D, I didn’t start out in a “standard” fantasy setting like Greyhawk or Forgotten Realms. I started off in the weird, nightmarish, wonderful, though-provoking realms of Planescape, traveling from the City of Doors through portals to all corners of the multiverse. Behind this remarkable setting is a man named Monte Cook who started his own company years ago and created a number of fantastic d20 products like the epic-scaled urban setting of Ptolus and the psionic adventure If Thoughts Could Kill. When Monte joined the development team for D&D Next, I was excited and eager to see what his reunion with Wizards of the Coast would yield. When he left the project suddenly and without much explanation, I was disappointed but curious what else he had planned.

That’s when I started to see teasers for Numenera. It looked strange and confusing and intriguing and bizarre. It looked like everything I loved about Planescape, and every subsequent teaser is even more interesting. Now I have the pdf in front of me and I can’t wait to delve in for my first hour with the book. Come on down the rabbit hole…

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One Hour Library Review: Shadowrun Fifth Edition

In our One Hour Reviews, we set a clock for sixty minutes and analyze the book. When time is up, we stop. The goal is to try and look over as much of the book as possible, without getting bogged down in any one section. Similar to how you might leaf through a book in the store, with some specific granularity, but mainly to focus on gaining a high level understanding of everything the RPG has to offer. Set the clock and let’s go!

Out of the big-name, long-running roleplaying games, Shadowrun has had an impressive and persistent run considering the many different banners it’s been published under. It started in 1989 (not as far back as Dungeons & Dragons but farther than Vampire: The Masquerade or Rifts) under the FASA Corporation. It was sold in 2001 to WizKids which was then bought by Topps which then licensed the rights to the RPG to Catalyst Game Labs, the current producers.

Recently, the latest edition of the game – Fifth Edition – was published and I quickly bought myself a copy to see what new mechanics they had, what strangeness of the digital and Astral realms awaited, and what craziness was in store for the Sixth World. Considering the tumult of Shadowrun‘s history, you might expect and even forgive a little choppiness in the book. To my delight, the book is anything but choppy and has some great changes. Check out what I found during my first hour with the new book.

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Magic 2014 M14 Casual & Commander Review: Artifacts & Land

What secrets are hidden inside M14 for the colorless crowd? Normally I have some elusive comment giving a hint but I’m flying blind for this one. Maybe I need to pay more attention to spoiler season since quitting… Anywho, here are the artifacts and lands of M14 through the eyes of the kitchen table! Will they hold up (usually not) but every now and then, something comes along that turns a head or two.

Magic 2014 (M14) Casual & Commander Review
White Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts & Lands

Bubbling Cauldron

This card is hilariously awkward and part of a beautiful mega cycle. Part of me wishes the second ability worked on any newt, but the card benefits from not being 100% useless without newts. Add in the exceptional Soul Feast ability and you’ve got a card that can be very dangerous with a copy effect or two.

Guardian of the Ages

Yep, everyone has been clamoring for a colorless version of Elder Land Wurm. While I love the continuation of giant but slow creatures, the 7 mana cost makes this one a tough pill to swallow. Still, a 7/7 trampler for 7 isn’t awful and in multiplayer game you can easily hide behind one of these late game for a turn or two.

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Magic 2014 M14 Casual & Commander Review: Green

As we wrap up the M14 review for casual and commander, we look at the last of WUBRG: Green. Traditionally in core sets, Green is a bit on boring side. It has a lot of creatures and a handful of spells, but rarely does it do something really exciting.

Magic 2014 (M14) Casual & Commander Review
White Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts & Lands

Advocate of the Beast

This feels like a card that should have come out in Shards of Alara or Onslaught given the creature types. In a dedicated beast deck, it is an okay creature but it doesn’t wow me the same way Ivy Lane Denizen did.

Elvish Mystic

Llanowar Elves is finally replaced with a singular elf! Elvish Mystic is a great creature, and I don’t think anyone is complaining about Llanowar Elves 8-12 (thanks Fyndhorn Elves!).

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Magic 2014 M14 Casual and Commander Review: Red

I am a red mage a heart, even after playing Magic for nearly two decades. Sure, I enjoy a cold, calculating control deck but that the end of the day, no play is more satisfying then tapping a Mountain and saying, “Bolt.” M14 follows the trend of new cards for Red, but also introduces some new and refined mechanics for my favorite color. As always, this review only covers new cards printed in M14, not reprints.

Magic 2014 (M14) Casual & Commander Review
White Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts & Lands

Academy Raider

The Red Ophidian, Academy Raider is a fascinating little common. While the power level isn’t quite good enough for the kitchen table (three mana for a 1/1? That isn’t happening.), I love the combat ability on this card. Red’s reverse looting is slowly building up and I really like the idea of being able to pitch a dead card in hopes of drawing something better. It’s just too bad that Academy Raider isn’t quite there.

Awaken the Ancient

Giving haste is a nice touch, but makes the card feel overpriced. A 7/7 for 4 and a land drop is decent, but this card really opens you up to too much 2-for-1 disadvantage. Against one player in limited formats, it’s a bomb, but when three or four turns may pass before you get your next untap step, it isn’t worth the risk.

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Magic 2014 M14 Casual and Commander Review: Black

Black is always a fun color at the kitchen table when it comes to making enemies and the short-term-allies. The color of death, destruction and selfishness often provides lovely card advantage and iadds some new toys to the necromancer’s toybox! As with the other M14 reviews, this will only cover new cards in the set, not reprints. Spoiler alert: Doom Blade is still really good.

Magic 2014 (M14) Casual & Commander Review
White Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts & Lands

Accursed Spirit

Mathmatically, this card is fine. It is basically a buff Dross Prowler, which is great in limited but at the kitchen table, it has to compete against every other four drop in the history of Magic… which makes it less impressive.

Artificer’s Hex

It has been ages since the notion of a “Cursed Artifact” has been in Magic and Artificer’s Hex brings back the ability with a bang. Historically, black is very weak at artifact removal but giving them this new skill is appreciated. While Artificer’s Hex doesn’t outright destroy the equipment, it does make wielding it much more dangerous.  It’s a neat little card and makes living weapon weird, but I see it being fringe play at best. In Commander, it could be more valuable depending on your playgroup. Oh, and it allows black to get around protection from black!

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Magic 2014 M14 Casual and Commander Review: Blue

Core sets in Magic have been interesting for a few years now, thanks to the fact that Wizards is printing new cards in them. But at the end of the day, core sets are about introducing people to Magic to the sheer insanity level of cards like in Return to Ravnica block, but that doesn’t mean every card in Magic 2014 isn’t worth looking at.

As a reminder, this review only covers cards that are new in M14, so all reprints are ignored.

Magic 2014 (M14) Casual & Commander Review
White Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts & Lands

Colossal Whale

What a beautiful way to start! My initial annoyance is that this is a whale, so it doesn’t work in my Quest for Ula’s Temple deck! I want to love this card, the flavor is perfect with it being a giant whale that can devour ships (and it has the wonderful new exiling language like Banisher Priest to make it very interesting in multiplayer), but how is this creature only a 5/5?

Dismiss into Dream

I wish this worked with Overload, but sadly it doesn’t. Dismiss into Dream is a clunky, almost unbearable enchantment that is probably perfect for a Nin, the Pain Artist deck. In multiplayer, it can get really fun when all of your opponents’ spells become removal against everyone who isn’t you.

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Magic 2014 M14 Casual and Commander Review: White

I didn’t end up reviewing Modern Masters from a casual and commander viewpoint for two reasons. 1) The set is ungodly expensive and under produced. 2) The entire set is reprints so when I eventually do my review of every Magic card ever, I’ll talk about all of them then (I’m not kidding). But with a new core set having just been released, that means some new cards.

So here’s the plan, every new card will get reviewed. Every reprint will get ignored. I mean, what else is there to say about Giant Spider besides it is one of the most perfect Magic cards ever?

Magic 2014 (M14) Casual & Commander Review
White Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts & Lands

Ajani’s Chosen

The big white cat returns with some new followers in M14. Ajani’s Chosen is the perfect rare for the kitchen table. The build-around-me nature of these cats allows it to find a home in your WG Enchantress deck, or create an entirely new kind of deck that mirrors Kemba in a weird way. Creating armies out of nothingness and the mega weird aura moving ability make this just a fun card. Easy combos include Flickering Ward for a free cat for only two mana and offers up better combo potential than Sigil of the Empty Throne since you don’t need to cast them.

In Commander, Ajani’s Chosen needs to play a support role with a commander. Thankfully, plenty of legends care about enchantments – like Hanna or Bruna. Or Uril. Gulp.

Angelic Accord

Whenever I read the word “each” on a Magic card, I start paying attention. Angelic Accord is a fine card but way too much of a board threat. Either this card is pumping out an angel every turn – while your life total keeps getting higher, or your opponents will unite to put a target on your head. It reminds me a lot of Luminarch’s Ascension, but that’s another card that drew too much hate to be playable at the kitchen table more than once.

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Library Review: Ice Sabers 30 Chilled Treats Using the Force of Your Freezer

We can find recipes anywhere. In fact, given the unbelievable access to information that we share, a book might be the last place any of us going looking nowadays. With that being the case, a cookbook really needs to have something special to grab my attention – like lightsaber Popsicle molds. Let’s just say “[they] had me at hello.”

Chronicle Books and author Lara Starr return to a kitchen far far away with Ice Sabers, the latest entry in their Star Wars cookbook series. Like Wookie Pies, Clone Scones, and other Galactic Goodies which focused on pastries and baked treats,  Ice Sabers narrows its focus to frozen desserts and refreshing beverages.

Ice Sabers continues the series goal of trying to encourage more young people to participate in the kitchen and the entire construction of the book emphasizes that. The introduction is directed at young Force users and explains all sorts of tips about being safe in the kitchen, handling equipment with care, and having fun.

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Arena Review: Marvel Legendary: Dark City

Legendary quickly became one of my favorite games at the beginning of this year. The combination of an incredible license, solid game play and a terrifying amount of options were enough for me to put its expansion in a must-buy-immediately category. Plus Tom was coming up the weekend after it was released, so I knew I was going to have a captive teammate.

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