The Gaming Barbarian Presents…’Android: Netrunner’

Hello and welcome to the lair of the Gaming Barbarian! Today we take a look at the struggles of cyberspace criminals and the megacorporations they target as we take a look at ‘Android: Netrunner.’

Published by Fantasy Flight Games

Gameplay
Gameplay in Android:Netrunner is very interesting as it has an asymmetrical system. On one side, you have the megacorporations. Massive companies with seemingly endless amounts of resources. On the other, the lowly runner(hacker) with just a computer, a lifetime supply of ‘Oaty Bars’ and ‘Diesel’ energy drink, and a single minded goal: take what the megacorps have and make it their own/give it to the pour(you know, if you want to look at them as the heroes). It is sort of like that old movie ‘Hackers’ just without a young Sherlock Holmes nor Angelina Jolie with a Vulcan haircut.

Above: What you will not find in this game.

At its most basic, A:N is a game of siege and defense. The corporations job is to do everything it can to protect itself and its resources from the runner. The runner’s job is to break these defenses and get the corp’s resources. While it is possible to be aggressive as a corp player, most of the time you will find yourself being defensive. The runner, on the other hand, MOST be aggressive. At a certain point if the corp is left alone too long, their defenses will become all but impregnable.

That is not to say that the corp’s only option is defense with some minor attacks. In fact, if you like to bluff and misdirect opponents, corporation is a perfect fit. Trap cards are a huge part of the corp’s strategies. If you a corp player can trick the runner into hacking into a trap card at the wrong time, they can end the game in one swift stroke.

Yes, there are traps in this game.

Action management plays a huge role in A:N. You have to spend actions as well as money to play cards. Now, you want to play all of your cards but you simply can’t. So you most optimize your turns. Even this action system is asymmetrical. The runner gets 4 actions a turn but doesn’t get to draw a free card. The corp gets only 3 actions, but MUST draw a card at the beginning of their turn.

For the corp, drawing a card is a two edged sword because if it ever gets to a point where they have to draw a card and their draw deck is empty, they lose the game.

Components
Artwork is good but not my favorite. Looked at individually all pieces of art are fine. But some of the drawings look like they belong in two different universes compared to each other. On cards that are supposed to depict something in the net world this is fine, but it’s when this same problem leaks over into the real world(for lack of a better term) cards that this becomes a problem.

Once again, rulebook is adequate. I always say that in order to play a Fantasy Flight game, you have to read the rulebook, then the official FAQ, and then the FAQ on Board Game Geek and then you will know the rules to playing the game. While not as bad as other games, that is certainly the case here.

Other Thoughts
Like the other games in this universe, A:N is dripping with theme! The dystopian future world created in Android feels like a real, living world.

A nice touch are the references made on many of the cards. From the corp names to the flavor text, science fiction references abound! Half the fun of this game for scifi fans will be realizing that a card has a reference to their favorite movie, book, or television series.

With several expansions already in the books and more coming every month, Android: Netrunner is a solid choice for anyone that is looking for a good card game. A strong theme back by great mechanisms makes this game a hands down winner!

Now this is Podracing

Now this is Podracing

(…what once was Standard is now Modern)

Birthing Pod

Hello again Magic players.  Today we’re going to talk about Modern.  Now before you all start booing the format because “oh it’s so expensive to play” keep in mind many decks in Modern used to be played in Standard.  Decks using Birthing Pod are such an example of this.

 

To start let’s take a look at my deck I used:

23 LANDS

4 Misty Rainforest

4 Verdant Catacombs

3 Razorverge Thicket

3 Gavony Township

2 Overgrown Tomb

3 Forest

1 Temple Garden

1 Woodland Cemetery

1 Swamp

1 Godless Shrine

 

30 CREATURES

4 Birds of Paradise

4 Kitchen Finks

2 Noble Hierarch

3 Voice of Resurgence

1 Restoration Angel

1 Archangel of Thune

1 Shriekmaw

1 Reveillark

1 Viscera Seer

1 Wall of Roots

1 Spellskite

1 Melira, Sylvok Outcast

1 Scavenging Ooze

1 Spike Feeder

1 Eternal Witness

1 Phyrexian Metamorph

1 Murderous Redcap

1 Linvala, Keeper of Silence

1 Ranger of Eos

1 Sin Collector

1 Orzhov Pontiff

 

4 INSTANTS and SORC.

2 Chord of Calling

2 Abrupt Decay

4 Birthing Pod

 

SIDEBOARD

1 Abrupt Decay

1 Entomber Exarch

1 Thrun, the Last Troll

1 Kataki, War’s Wage

1 Golgari Charm

1 Slaughter Pact

2 Path to Exile

3 Thoughtseize

3 Slaughter Games

1 Loxodon Hierarch

 

What you will notice here is the large amount of cards that are only single copies.  The deck revolves around two key pillars: Birthing Pod & Melira, Sylvok Outcast.  With Birthing Pod in play you get to upgrade each of your creatures on your turn, and often times benefiting from a triggered ability when the new creature comes into play.  This deck can play as a combo deck by assembling Melira, Viscera Seer, and Murderous Redcap to do unlimited damage to an opponent (or use Kitchen Finks as the 3rd piece to gain unlimited life).  With Birthing Pod you can also set up the combo between Archangel of Thune & Spike Feeder by gaining unlimited life.

 

While those are two of the ways to win with this deck there are times it can be ran as a midrange deck on the back of Gavony Township activations (which help your creatures survive blocks).

Regardless of how the deck is directing you to play keep in mind the creatures in the deck and how they can interact with your opponent:

 
Sin Collector- Taking their best instant or sorcery
Linvala- Shutting down their creature activations
Voice of Resurgence- Hard to kill, and provides you a bigger creature when using Pod
Phyrexian Metamorph- Copies the best creature (or artifact) on the board
Restoration Angel- Blinks a non-Angel creature on your side of the board
Orzhov Pontiff- Gives your creatures +1/+1, or their creatures -1/-1

 
In order to survive vs your opponent you will need to find ways to interact with them game 1, and these creatures do just that.  Your sideboard should be tuned to combat what they are playing.  In my version above I am trying to focus on disrupting their game plan, especially after sideboarding, with cards like Thoughtseize, Slaughter Games, and Deceiver Exarch.
Other types of cards that can be played in this deck should focus on destroying artifacts, enchantments, or further manipulating your deck.

That’s all for this week.  Have fun, and tap more mana.

Comic Book Collecting: the Fortuitous and the Frugal

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The goal of this article, as it is with all articles, is to inform you of something you didn’t know before. Today, I want to focus on, what I feel are, the important aspects to look at when trying to collect comics. For what ever reason you are going into your local shop each week, whether to read a good book, to speculate on a potential investment, or to simply collect for a hobby, the goal is to have fun while doing it.

Don’t Go Quietly: A Review of Death Vigil

STK645032

With all of the ongoing comics I currently read, I am usually hesitant to start a new series, but the art on the cover of Death Vigil #1 piqued my interest, so I figured I’d give it a look. And the art is beautiful, which I should have expected with Stjepan Sejic doing it all. You might know Sejic as the artist behind much of Witchblade, Artifacts, Aphrodite IX, and Army of Darkness. His painting covers are gorgeous, but it isn’t just the cover. He is the artist for the whole book, and also the series creator of Death Vigil. The art caught my eye, but the story kept me in. I was amazed at how good a book this is. It incorporates ideas from the world of the occult, but with a fresh twist.

death_vigil_page_1_and_2_by_nebezial-d70m4ha

Santa Claus got a lot hotter since last Christmas

 

The book follows a man named Samuel Lewis, who dies on page 1. He is greeted by the aspect of death herself, Bernardette the Reaper, who gives him the option to live again if he joins her fight against necromancers and all sorts of extra-dimensional creatures of old. Her order called…you guessed it, the Death Vigil, is not doing so well. Several new members have been killed in battle with their veil-rippers, the tools of their trade, confiscated by the enemy, and they need all the help they can get.

 

There are more and more necromancers and necromancer wannabes popping up everywhere trying to make contact with forces beyond the veil. And it seems like they’re becoming an organized effort, which bodes poorly for this so-far rag-tag group of defenders of humanity. In this issue alone are zombie vikings, a banshee, a shapeshifting Norse-named raven, and an eldritch horror. One wonders how they can stand against such odds. Surely Bernie, Sam and their lot will have something to say about that.

death_vigil__ewwww

Eww

 

I was thoroughly impressed, and will be adding this to my regular reads. It’s smart, it’s funny, and it kicks some serious ass. Pick up a copy for yourself, and you won’t be sorry.

Your Core set Planeswalkers

EN_M15KEYART

...and my axe!

Your Core set Planeswalkers
(aka The Sinister Six)

 

That’s right folks.  Garruk has offered his axe to join us on this quest through the Magic 2015 planeswalkers.  The pre-release is this weekend so let’s take a look at Magic: the Gathering’s offering of these walkers for us to use.

Planeswalkers have been a staple in design since the Shards of Alara block.  While the fab 5 made their debut in Lorwyn, it wasn’t until Shards where their presence seemed to truly impact the block, and the format they were legal in.  This is the second time we have had 6 (SIX!) planeswalkers in a core set (M13 being the first time).  Let’s take a spin around the color wheel and visit each walker in turn.

Ajani Steadfast

This is the 5th incarnation of Ajani, and the one with the least color intensive mana cost.  For 4 mana you get a 4 loyalty planeswalker who can immediately increase the loyalty on any other planeswalkers you control.  This is the ability that has been talked about the most.  Expect to see this version of Ajani hanging out with Elspeth Sun’s Champion at several tables.

Jace Living Guildpact

Jace!  AHH AHHHH!  Savior of the Universe!
 

Ok maybe not, however unlike his current 4 mana cost version, this one seems to be very interested in your graveyard, and keeping unwanted permanents off the table.  A 4 mana 5 loyalty planeswalker is nothing to disregard, and with the scry lands being in Standard still he can help get through land floods.  He could have implications in Modern as cards moved to the graveyard with his +1 ability are considered to be placed into the graveyard from your library.   This is one to watch.

Liliana Vess

We haven’t seen this version of Liliana since M11, and she could give control decks splashing black the edge they need.  The ability to either find another stabilizing piece, or have your opponent discard a card (after playing a board wipe) is quite significant.  While she is no Liliana of the Veil, mono black devotion players will enjoy looking for a game winning Gray Merchant with her.

Chandra Pyromaster

Chandra returns!  What I want to point out here is how well her 0 ability works with Liliana Vess.

Nissa Worldwalker

Nissa is back.  No longer associated with her elven tribe she now travels the worlds of Magic as a true druid tending to the land.  Notice her 1st +1 ability does not say “until end of turn”.  You also can keep targeting the same land if you want, however the 2nd +1 ability will make this the best planeswalker in the core set.  Mana is everything folks, especially in green.

Garruk, Apex Predator

Here he is folks!  The new Garruk.  Remember the last planeswalker with 4 abilities?  I sure do.  While I don’t think this one will be as oppressive as the one I mentioned, he will have a huge impact on the game.  Black already provides quality cards that target the opponent or their creatures, and green has plenty of mana acceleration.  He will see ample play.

 

That’s it for now.  Have fun, tap more mana!

 

How to build your Magic: the Gathering collection

How to build your Magic: the Gathering collection

(or how to build your own weights)

Magic collection

Hello fellow card floppers, and welcome to my first article about the game we love: Magic: the Gathering.  As we all are drooling over the new cards from this summer’s core set, M15, I thought we could start the discussion on collecting.  Every time a new set comes out, one of the first thoughts we all have is: “How am I going to get the cards I need?”.  For some, this may not be an issue, however this article may help steer to you in the right direction based on what you need (or to fill up your 5k boxes to work out with).

By the box

One of the quickest ways to build your collection is with the purchase of multiple booster boxes.  Who doesn’t like 36 chances to get the bomb rare they need?  The more boxes you get, the better chance you have of getting a playset of the cards you need (or the cards you can trade to get what you need).  As with everything in life there are pros and cons.  I bought a case of Innistrad, and did not open one Liliana of the Veil.  This unfortunately does happen.  If you choose to go down this path keep in mind the positives, and have a good idea what deck you will be playing.  You may even notice a lot of pieces for another deck you could build which would help you have several decks to play, or test against.

All the Single Angels

Another way you can build a collection over time, and more more slowly, is to buy only the cards you need.  When purchasing cards this way you are a little more focused, but your trade binder is quite slim.  This is a good way to go when you are on a budget, and don’t need to obtain many cards for a deck.  Your collection becomes only the cards you play though, so don’t get disappointed when you are unable to trade a lot.

Play the Pack Lottery

I’ve done it.  I’ve bought a pack just for that chance to get “the money card”, then rip a bulk rare.  Similar to above if you are on a budget this could be a good way to go.  Some friends even split a box (or draft a box) using this.  Others just buy a few packs at a time.  This one is inbetween the first two above, however it can eventually provide you a nice collection of cards.  Keep in mind you won’t have as much to offer in trades as the first option, but if you do choose this option don’t regret trading away that awesome card you opened (that you’re not playing with anyway).

As you can see there are many ways you can build a collection. Next week we will dive into all of the M15 previews, and speculate for the future.

Have fun, and tap more mana.

Fireworks for the Fourth – A Review of Hanabi by SoFrankly.com

Hanabi

Last year, I reviewed a game that I played on July 4th: Battle Cry. My son and I played it because of the holiday. The Battle of Gettysburg was fought 150 years earlier over the first days of July. This year I thought I would review a family game that tied in with the 4th. Hanabi is a game about putting on fireworks displays. It has won high praise, and is being highly touted as a fantastic family game within gaming circles. However, I think the last three words are important. Continue reading

The Gaming Barbarian Presents…’Battlelore: 2nd Edition’

Hello and welcome to the lair of the Gaming Barbarian! Today we will visit the fantasy universe of Terrinoth as we take a look at ‘Battlelore: 2nd Edition.’

Published by Fantasy Flight Games

‘Battlelore’ was originally designed by Richard Borg as part of the ‘Commands and Colors’ family of games. This second edition has additional design work by Robert A. Kouba. It takes place in Fantasy Flight’s universe of Terrinoth where several of their fantasy games take place. Is this one worth your time?

Gameplay
Right off the bat, ‘Battlelore: 2nd Edition’ does something with gameplay that I love: the two armies (The Daqan Lords and The Uthuk Y’llan) are different! They have different models, different special abilities, and different Lore decks (more on that later). Personally, I like the Uthuk Y’llan better because they’re red. But that’s me!

When starting a game of ‘BL:2′, each of the two faction have 7 scenario cards. They will shuffle these and draw 3. From these 3 they pick one. These scenario cards tell the players how their half of the board will be set up, where they can place their pieces, and their special ability and victory point condition for that game. This means that there are 49 different scenario combinations inside the box!

After the board is set up, players enter the draft phase. During the draft phase, players will use 50 points to make an army. This is done by first choosing the units you wish to put into your army(or pick one of the 3 pre-built armies that the game includes). You than place these along with several decoy cards on the board. This makes the game very replayable because even when you pick the same scenario, you can pick a completely different army makeup and play a different game.

‘BL:2′ uses the standard command card setup that is used in every ‘Command and Colors’ game: play card, move indicated units, attack. What makes this one different is the addition of lore cards. Each faction has a deck of lore cards. These cards can do everything from moving extra units to rolling extra attack dice to eating the opponent to regain health when you defeat them (yeah…gross but very useful). The lore cards, I feel, are the crux of this game. Play them at the right time and the battle can swing in your favor.

Components

Just look at these things! Awesomeness!

What amazingly gorgeous components! The models for the armies just look so cool. The Uthuk Y’llan really look demented and menacing and the Daqan Lords look like the stalwart defenders of mankind. And card quality is through the roof! Even without sleeves they will last a long while. Great components!

Final Thoughts
This is an amazing game! My absolute favorite two player game! And if/when they make the expansion – they got plenty more armies from the Terrinoth universe to make – that will just add to the awesomeness. Just think that if they do release just two other armies, each with 7 scenarios of their own, that is a total of (if my math is correct) 294 different scenarios!

Amazing game!

New Products!

Star Wars Age of Rebellion and The Villains Expansion for the Marvel Legendary Deck-building game are both in today.

 

star_wars_rpg_age_of_rebellion_core_bk-434481393406854d marvel-legendary-villains

Age of Rebellion is the second of three combinable, but stand-alone Star Wars Role-playing games from Fantasy Flight.  It focuses primarily on running a campaign of rebel fighters in vital missions against the evil Galactic Empire.

 

Marvel Legendary Deck-building Game: Villains Expansion lets players play as villains such as Venom and Magneto to battle against the Avengers and X-Men.  Customers who come in and pick up a copy will receive a free promotional card.

 

Legendary: Villains Promotional cards

Legendary: Villains Promotional cards