Friday, December 30, 2011

Bad Neighbor Deck

The second of the two decks I've been wanting to build.  Intended for multiplayer games versus creature decks, it's called the Bad Neighbor because I take you stuff and don't give it back.  A lighthearted control deck. 

I'd love to add Word of Command, but it costs too much money.  Decklist is tentative as it has not been played.

(The) Bad Neighbor Deck
60 Card Format
Black, Blue, White

1 Sen Triplets
3 Grinning Totem

2 Thought Dissector
4 Helm of Obedience
4 Telemin Performance
4 Callous Oppressor
4 Preacher

1 Halfdane
4 Shape Stealer
2 Quicksilver Elemental

3 Innocent Blood
3 Martyr's Cause

3 Obelisk of Esper
4 Felwar Stone


4 Exotic Orchard
2 Vesuva
4 Arcane Sanctum
4 Islands
4 Plains
3 Swamps

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bedlam Deck

This is one of the decks i've been gathering cards for in the last few months.  I've always had an interest in Bedlam.  Innistrad's vampires reignited the concept (even if they later were cut).  Like the Shadow Deck, I can't block (if things are working) and I have lots of defenses.  Unlike the Shadow Deck, it's two colors, my creatures can get bigger, and no one can block (if things are working at all).

this list is tentative, as I haven't played it.  i foresee it being a mid-to-late-game winner.

Bedlam Deck
60 Card Format
Red, White

4 Bedlam
4 Order/Chaos
3 Curse of Stalked Prey

4 Blinding Angel
4 Windborn Muse
2 Falkenrath Marauder
2 Slith Ascendant

4 Magus of the Moat
3 Worship

2 Enlightened Tutor
2 Argivian Find
2 Tithe
2 Armillary Sphere
4 Traveler's Amulet


2 Ice Floe
2 Maze of Ith
1 Kor Haven
Multicolor Lands

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

RAGE Review

Game:  RAGE
Year (s):  2011
Company:  dev.  id Software
            pub.  Bethesda Studios
Engine:  id Tech 5
Type:  First-Person Shooter (with some RPG elements), Racing

Price (as of December 24, 2011)

Regular price on Steam:  $29.99
Lowest Buy-It-Now on eBay (new, with shipping):  $24

Game Time (first time, on normal): 33 hours

Obligatory Trailer:


In 2004 observations indicated that the asteroid Apophis had a small chance of hitting Earth.  RAGE begins with the asteroid hitting.  Selected people were put in underground Arks, kept in suspended animation by "nanotrites".  You, one of the Ark survivors, wake up about one hundred years after impact.  It's a phenomenal beginning, with great cinematics, music, and dialogue.

The rest of the game has almost no plot.  Shoot stuff that shoots at you.  A novel and a set of three comic books flesh out the plot, but these don't come with the game.  Many people have been understandably unhappy with the lack of story.

id Tech 5

I ran the game on nearly the lowest settings, and it looked as good as anything else that I've seen in the last five years.  I'm sure on the highest specs it's a bombshell.  A noticeable aspect of this engine is very short load times. 

Some complain that the engine is buggy, but they're idiots.  The game never crashed.  Occasionally graphical errors occurred on an area load, but re-loading the last save (typically the auto save that occurred on entering the new area) fixed it easily.  I had no other problems. 

Voice Talent/Audio

Most notably, we have John Goodman.  Several other voices are ones that you will recognize from other games, but probably won't know the name of the actors offhand.

The score is done by a guy named Abernathy, and really shines during cinematic cutscenes.  Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees, Queens of the Stone Age) did a song that plays during the end credits. 

Combat and Gameplay

This is my favorite part of the game.  Like old shooters, you have lots of weapons and infinite inventory.  Except for two guns, all have multiple ammo types.  Ammo can electrocute, explode, or mind-control an enemy to turn them in to a suicide bomber. 

All weapons can zoom and be used in melee.  RAGE adds quick-use items (bound to Q and changed by the F keys ) ranging from medkits and grenades, to boomerangs, sentry bots, turrets, and RC bomb cars.  Using these in conjuction with your standard weaponry is a blast.

Quick-use items and some ammo types can be built by the player, from parts found or purchased.  This engineering system is simpler and more accesible than that in New Vegas or BioShock. 

Life regeneration is featured, albeit unlike other games, there's a sci-fi explanation for it.  The "nanotrites" that kept you in suspended animation now repair your body!  This also accounts for a limited come-back-to-life mechanic.


Two races are part of the main quest, and you'll be driving between locations as soon as you have a vehicle.  Lots of additional races are purely optional.  The parts upgrade system for cars is very simple, and weapons (many with parallels in Mario Kart) can be purchased.  All the racing together isn't as long as an actual driving game, but it's an enormous contrast to the shooter genre's typically limited use of vehicles. 

Game Time

I tried (and failed) to do everything in one play through.  This included side quests, racing, vehicle jumps, a handful of mini-games, optional areas, and achievements.  This made the gametime 2-3 times as long as most modern shooters, or a fraction as long as the big modern RPG shooters.  This amount of content is another complaint made by players.  However, RAGE doesn't have all the similar (repetetive) quests to do.  Different groups of enemies in RAGE have different AI and tactics.  Lastly, RAGE is already 21 gigs, with the promise of additional content in DLC form. 

Easter Eggs

The player can find Pinkies, which have a description like Twinkies but make a distinctive growl upon picking them up.  Vault-Tec bobbleheads can be found, so can a guy with a Doom 3 t-shirt, a few id logos, signs for Doom 3's Mixom company, a Half-Life 2 nod, and probably several other references that I didn't notice or didn't find.  

Expansions / DLC / Sequels

id plans to create DLC, but there is no information yet.

Final Thoughts

What we have here is a beautifully rendered, good-length shooter with top-notch voice acting and audio.  The game makes a huge advance in combining shooters and racing.  While there's no plot, I have a hard time remembering the last time I had this much fun with a combat system.  RAGE is pretty sweet.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Aliens vs. Predator Review

Game:  Aliens vs. Predator
Year (s):  2010
Company:  dev.  Rebellion Developments
            pub.  Sega
Engine:  Asura
Type:  First-Person Shooter

Price (as of December 5, 2011 )

Regular price on Steam:  19.99
Lowest Buy-It-Now on eBay (new, with shipping):  13.95

Game Time:  13 hours, first time on normal

Obligatory Trailer:


Humans, Aliens, and Predators each have their own single-player campaign.  Events in these occur at the same time, at the same facility.  The Weiland-Yutani Corporation, with their androids and machinations, play a role in each campaign. 

As a human, your squad of marines drop down to help the distressed colony.  The Alien infestation is overwhelming, and your mission quickly becomes a rush to rescue your CO and escape.

As an Alien, you bust out of a laboratory and establish Alien domination.  The Queen gives you orders telepathically.

As a Predator, you are responding to a distress call from an Elite Predator.  The Predator battles to regain artifacts looted by Weiland-Yutani, detonate the area, and kill the alien/predator hybrid. 


The Asura engine looks much like anything else I've played in the last five years.  I sometimes had lagging problems, which could be due to the engine, to Steam, or just be a sign that my computer needs an upgrade. 

Asura uses DirectX 11, and is Rebellion's in-house engine.  There is little information online about it, and a great deal of speculation without citation (mostly on forums).  The bottom line: it looks good, but is more system-intensive than most games.


Each race has a different set of weapons, abilities, HUD, view of the world, etc.  Each one is unique and therefore requires a different approach to the same situations.  This is most interesting in areas shared by each campaign.

Human gameplay is pretty standard.  There's a handful of weapons, but you can only carry a few.  Flares, a flashlight, a short sprint, and up to three stimpacks on-hand.  Nothing new here.

Aliens can climb on every surface (I love the concept, but it's quite disorienting).  They can see in the dark, and rely on stealth to kill targets one at a time.  No ranged attacks.

Predators are somewhat of a middle ground, with both ranged and melee attacks, and the ability to be invisible to humans.  They can jump great distances, making them the middle for maneuverability too.  At the end of their campaign, when I had all of the Predator's weapons, they seemed to be the most powerful.

Audio and The Movies

Voice actors from the movies are featured (most recognizably Lance Henriksen), as well as some of the same sound effects.

Motivations of the corporation remain true to the movies.  Aliens and Predators behave just like in the movies, with the same methods of attack.  The human's motion-sensing radar is featured, straight out of the movies, and the plot seems to fit with what has been established before.  Rebellion stayed true to the franchise enough to satisfy strict fans. 

Expansions / DLC / Sequels

There are currently two DLC map packs that add new content to multiplayer only.

Aliens vs. Predator held sales records in the UK, on Steam, and on the PC charts.  Rebellion's CEO has stated he is in discussion with Sega in regards to a sequel, but there have been no announcements yet.

Final Thoughts

I like the Alien and Predator movies well enough.  This game is much like playing a movie.  The graphics are great, but the game itself is rather average.  So much potential yielded no fear factor, and zero firefights that really fulfilled me.  Overall:  if you like the franchise, it's alright.  Otherwise, don't bother with this one.