Magic the Gathering Mini Master this Weekend

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Sep 082011

I just learned that Wizards of the Coast is sponsoring Magic the Gathering Mini Masters events at select stores (Magic Celebration) this Saturday September 10th.  Here are the locations.   What is cool about, I mean what makes it different from other mini masters?  It is free, while supplies last.  That is right free Wizards of the Coast is giving back to their customers.


So what is a mini master AKA pack wars?  It is one of the most inexpensive limited formats you can play.  Each player receives one pack (M12 on Saturday) and three of each basic land then they get shuffled together.  That is right you play blind, you don’t look at your cards.  Each event is three or four rounds.  Each round you win earns you another free M12 booster to enhance your deck with.  On top of that WotC is supplying retailers with T-shirts and a code card for Duels of the Planeswalker 2012.   I am not sure how the code is going to be distributed, but it is for the platform of the player’s choice.


I will be at Freedom Games in North Canton Ohio on Saturday playing.  If you want to duel me come on down.

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Sep 082011

As I taught a college level Ethics course for a local university I began to think about the interactions and relationships between the major ethical theories/viewpoints and the alignment systems of the role-playing games we all enjoy.  I like alignment systems, they help define a character.  However, these systems can be found to be lacking as is evidenced by the number of arguments generated between players and game masters concerning a character’s actions.  These debates can be great.  Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good argument.  But often such “alignment debates” degenerate into shouting matches without any resolution (other than the GM saying “do that and I’ll kill your character”).

Therefore I am sharing with you a very brief introduction to the major ethical theories.  Consider this a supplement to the alignment systems.  Once you understand the theories, I’d like you to try and see if and how they apply to your characters.  You could even reflect it on your character
sheet.  For example, in D&D it could read: “Alignment: Lawful Good (Utilitarian),” or “Alignment: Chaotic Neutral (Relativist).”

Each of the following ethical theories attempts to define that which is “good” by creating a philosophical/ethical system that can be applied to various situations.  To complicate matters further, one can mix all of this with any number of religious views.  In fact, many have grow out of, or in reaction to, a particular religious viewpoint.  Nonetheless, I hope that the following helps inform your character generation process, giving you a
deeper background, and informing your choices at the gaming table.

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The Origins of Game

 Gaming News, The RL  Comments Off on The Origins of Game
Sep 082011

A short time ago I was involved in a conversation about the “mentality” of gamers.  The basic perception that these people had about gamers is that they are “freaks” .  To be more precise they kind of thought gamers were a bunch of depressed anti-social people who could not follow the norms of society.  This is so far from the truth.  I mean the perception they had makes us outcasts, which is really the opposite of what we are as a whole.  You might be wondering why this is important.  With any luck I will cover that in the next few paragraphs.


Let us start with the meaning of the word game, more precisely its origins.  According to Dictionary .com we have this little bit of history


O.E. gamen “joy, fun, amusement,” common Gmc. (cf. O.Fris. game, O.N. gaman, O.H.G. gaman “joy, glee”), regarded as identical with Goth. gaman “participation, communion,” from P.Gmc. *ga- collective prefix + *mann “person,” giving a sense of “people together.” Meaning “contest played according to rules”
is first attested c.1300. Sense of “wild animals caught for sport” is late 13c.; hence fair game (1825), also gamey “having the flavor of game” (1863). Adjective sense of “brave, spirited” is 1725, from the noun, especially in game-cock “bird for fighting.” Game plan is 1941, from U.S. football; game show first attested 1961″
So the very nature of the word game tells us we are social beings.  In some cases our group might be  smaller, or we might even be a part of more than one group.  In fact it is hard for us to be a gamer with out being social.  It doesn’t matter what game you play they are you’re community, or if you are like me your communities.  I also found it it interesting that that before the meaning of game became a “contest according to the rules” it meant “people together”.

Wizards of the Coast anounces Planeswalker Points

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Sep 062011

Wow!  Wizards of the Coast has done it again.  They have changed everything.  For those of you who have not read the article on Planeswalker points yet, you can view it here.  If you are too lazy here is a brief (really brief) overview.

  • Points will have different  categories lifetime, competitive, FNM, and professional.
  • Each has its own function based off variables like number of players.
  • Wins and losses earn you points
  • Points give you invites based on your play.


So, the question I have is this “Is this a good change?”  I am going to say yes.   The concept behind the program is to encourage better players to play instead of sitting on their rating.  By doing this players will be playing against better players.  Who want to play better players.  The concept is the better players will kind of mentor the rookies.   In the end it will sell more Magic the Gathering and increase the pool of players.  Especially if Wizards of the Coast continues supporting events like Grand Prix’s.


I am looking forward to the new systemIt has a better balance than the current rating system because it really has something for everyone.

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Tabletop Quality a Miniatures Painting Guide.

 Gaming News, Miniatures  Comments Off on Tabletop Quality a Miniatures Painting Guide.
Sep 052011

Have you ever heard the phrase table top quality?  Did you wonder what it means?   Well, if you know or think you know what table top quality means read on and I will share with you my findings.  We will attempt to do this by not siding with any one view (I will still pick on stereotypes though), but instead by defining it based off reading articles, and forum posts from Dakka Dakka, Bolter and Chainsword, Cmon, and game manufacturer’s websites.


When I first decided to write this article I thought I had a good understanding of the phrase.  I was wrong.  I discovered that a  part of the “painting” community is loud enough that that they are heard.  Not only are these people loud they are rude.  You will find comments like”table top quality is just another way of saying ” , and “tabletop quality is just an excuse for you not wanting to play me”.  So if you are a new player or painter who plays you are forewarned that you will be up against this kind of mentality.  I suggest you steer clear of these people as best you can while you are learning to paint.

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Back From Magic the Gathering Grand Prix Pittsburgh 2011

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Aug 302011

Well, I am back from Grand Prix Pittsburgh.  It was a great event.   I am glad that I was a part of the staff serving 1400 plus players in the main event. But let’s back up.   I arrived in Pittsburgh Friday morning and left Sunday evening.  Here is a brief overview of some of the experience.

On Friday I herded players to the correct location for registration.

Saturday was a different story.  I was on the paper team for the main event.  The most interesting ruling I had was well I didn’t have any of the cool ones.  That does not mean that the event did not need judges, it just means the players have a good understanding of standard.   My favorite ruling of the weekend has to be: A player with 0 cards in hand casts preordain.   Instead of scrying 2, he makes puts both cards in hand and plays one of them, a land.  The other remains in hand as he passes the turn.  Ouch!  Drawing Extra Cards, nope the card is easily identifiable.   It was downgraded to a GRV and the card was returned to the top of the library.


Sunday, is never as busy as day 2.  I worked side events.  I floated around the floor as much as possible.  I was fortunate enough to HJ 4 of the events.  I think that is a fair amount considering we had divide the events up amongst about 20 judges.  The Limited PTQ had an amazing 379 players.  That is awesome


Special thanks to Mike Guptil, The Head Judges (Erik, and Kevin)all of the team leads, Wizards of the Coast, and all of the players.

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Magic the Gathering Grand Prix Pittsburgh 2011

 Gaming News, Magic The Gathering, The RL  Comments Off on Magic the Gathering Grand Prix Pittsburgh 2011
Aug 242011

Well, I really wish I had a lot more time to hype this Magic the Gathering event up – I don’t.  Here is the run down.  I am Leaving early Friday (Augus26th 2011) morning, after sending the children off to school, to judge at the Grand Prix in Pittsburgh (standard).  Between now and then I have to maintain my Dad’s Kitchen image for the kids, study more, shop for food (I always take some healthy foods just in case), and pack.  They are a very fun, and educating experience.  If you are a judge, Grand Prix’s are an awesome avenue for learning.  There are so many players and judges there that you will something new at every event, and most likely each day.   Since you are broken down into teams it is an excellent time to set a goal for yourself, like learning layering.  OOPS!  I’m rambling.  This event is going to be extremely busy.   There will be about 50 judges to handle about 1500 players.  That is going to be a lot of work.  I am looking forward to it though.


The artists attending are RK Post and Christopher Moeller.  I always look forward to getting some cards signed and buying at least one print.


Well enough about the Grand Prix for now.  I will Try and have a GP report up by Tuesday August 30th.

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Gen Con 2011

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Aug 172011

Every year thousands of gamers (geeks) descend on Indianapolis to take part in Gen Con. The best four days in the game industry. Here is gamers don crazy costumes, play games, buy, sell, trade, learn trade secrets, and more importantly just have fun.

If you are a gamer, of any merit, and you have never experienced Gen Con it is something you should plan on. There is something for everyone, even for non gaming significant others. Gamers can play almost any game of choice whether it is in print or out of print. While guests of honor and teachers host seminars and panels for more serious individuals who wish to break in the gaming industry.

This year I focused on the Writers symposium. I managed to sneak in a few questions with Matt Forbeck, Anton Strout (guest’s of honor), and many other authors on the symposium. We managed to meander through the Exhibit hall every time we had a chance. I have had the opportunity to demo or watch a few games (Dust Tactics, Mercs, Relic Knights, KoW).


The Writer’s Symposium

Matt Forbeck

Anton Strout

The Exhibit Hall

Games I Demoed/observed

Dust tactics


Relic Knights



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Back in the Saddle

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Jul 272011

Well, my summer has been absolutely NUTS.  As a result I have nit spent as much time on my blog as I would like.  I have however gathered a lot of firewood with my dad.  I have been busy judging and writing a short story .   That is on top of taking care of the three children.


Look for my new articles:

Origins  Game Fair review

Table Top Quality  What it means

Building 16k (living document for WHFB)

Serving food safe in the summer


New sections coming soon.

What I believe

Writers welcome -The name will change to reflect its nature

Game Reviews. Using the calculator that reflects what we look for in a game based on our experience form owning a game store.


Sorry,  I have been gone for a month.  I am back now.

Why I Never Play Characters in 40k

 Warhammer 40K  Comments Off on Why I Never Play Characters in 40k
Jun 192011

While the Warhammer 40k Characters are cool, most of them never make it to the table for my games.   There  are really only a couple of reasons for this.  The first is the cost, the second is the point cost, and the third is well they are fluff related.

The dollar amount for most single model characters is just too much.   Especially now that they are going to finecast, or should I say fine crap as it is being reported all around the globe.  They are just not worth that much money to me.  So it is my way of saying wake up GW we don’t agree with your tactics.

More often than not the characters are over pointed for what they do.  I and my friends are competitive – we play to win.  With that kind of mentality it is much more effective to take another squad over a character.  Why?  Because most of the time taking a squad over a character gives ten to twenty dice, depending on weapons, for about the same point value.   It is really the dice you are paying for, and the 40k game is more about numbers than it is tactics.


Lastly, I hate fluff.  Not because it is not good, but because it is not needed to play the game.  Actually it is not the fluff I hate.  It is the concept that fluff needs to be elevated to point where it should influence your game. Nothing is more annoying than having a player tell you that your army is built wrong because it does not support the fluff. My all time favorite is you can’t beat me because I am playing Space Marines and you have never beat us in the story line.  Man did I laugh when I destroyed his perfectly built fluff list.

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