Monthly Archives: June 2013

My perfect job is in China

A couple of years ago I posted about a job in China that was riding a scooter to a client stuck in traffic, he takes the scooter on to whatever meeting he needs to get to, while you sit in his car waiting for traffic to clear and then driving it to his location, picking up your scooter and  moving on to the next traffic jam. I thought this was a perfect job, until I came across this article.

http://gizmodo.com/5995425/chief-porn-identification-officer-the-best-job-youll-never-have

Apparently, the Chinese government pays people to look for and at porn on the internet. How is this not the perfect job? Okay so technically your job is to deny others their masturbatory needs, but I think under the circumstance, I could forgive myself.

This kind of reminds me of an odd statement made by one of my teachers when I was in High School. He said, one of the reason censorship of pornography failed in the 1950’s was because the people who liked porn the most simply became censors and they had unfettered access to everything being denied to everyone else. There is some evidence now that suggests many censorship groups were in fact porn distribution networks. That right there is what you call irony.

The Got Identity

Something like 6 months ago someone who seemed to be a total stranger tried to friend me on FaceBook (FB). I of course said no with prejudice. A few days later at our weekly D&D game, my friend says hey that “Got” guy who tried to friend you is me. We then had a conversation about why he has two FB accounts, one under his real name and one under this fictitious name. He explained it started out as a way to pump up the various FB games that give you points for trying to recruit other FB members to their games and now he uses it to post political rants. So in a fit of amusement asked him if I could become Chris Got and he said sure, thus was borne The Got Identity, which I then promptly forgot about. Last weekend The Got Identity appears on PezWitch’s “People You Might Know” and this profile picture quickly drew her attention.

 

This is the picture I use pretty regularly as my online avatar and she recognized it instantly. This brought what I am sure was a moment of anxiety in the time between her realizing the account was mine and her asking me what this was in a very judgemental fashion. After all the internet is rife with stories about cheating husbands who have alternate FB accounts used for picking up women. My first reaction was, what are you going on about woman? When she showed me the profile pic, I remembered where the account came from and then had to explain the whole thing and in retrospect, it probably sounded kind of silly and lets be frank, it was pretty silly, but no one can accuse me of being a terribly serious person. The upside was this lead to a hilarious FB exchange where I was arguing with my alter ego about which of us was the real person.

MTG, 2013 Core Set

The current set of Magic the Gathering is going to be replaced in just under a month and I realized I have not messed with the 2013 core set much. Usually with each set I try to put together what I think is a basic iconic deck for each color, with 2013, I had only done black. This deck cost about $30 to put together including shipping. The basic strategy is 20 cheap creatures backed up by Murder/Mutilate to get rid of enemy creatures and Duress/Mind Rot to empty your opponents hand and keep him from implementing his strategy. Sign in Blood is used to accelerate the card advantage built into this deck. The only tricky thing here is the Phylactery Lich depends on the Chronomaton, I am inclined to wait and put them into play at the same time late in the game after you opponent’s hand is empty. Alternately, you can put the Chronomaton into play early, pump him up out of Lighting Bolt range and then play the Phylactery Lich.

4 Chronomaton
4 Knight of Infamy
4 Ravenous Rats
4 Vampire Nighthawk
4 Phylactery Lich
4 Duress
4 Sign in Blood
4 Mind Rot
4 Murder
4 Mutilate
20 Swamp

This deck has a very nice mana curve on it. Only Mutilate costs more than 3 mana to cast, which means most of the cards in this deck can be cast in the all important first 3 turns of the game. This deck is fast and if your opponent does not establish his offense before the mid game, he will likely not get the chance once he starts discarding cards out of his hand and anything he manages to get out can be dealt with.

The Magic Dojo

When I was first introduced to Magic: The Gathering back in 1995, the internet had not yet come into wide use. The only deck sharing there was came from magazines like the Duelist and from looking at and playing against other peoples decks. Because I was in Germany at the time, this made our pool of skilled players and deck builders very small. We figured out land destruction, discard, control and ramp decks pretty much on our own. Out of this environment came the Blue Cheese, a Blue/Red Control deck, which was my first entirely original deck that was successful in our meta game. Some scrapes of information got through, for instance, I had heard about ErnieGeddon and NecroDecks, but none of us had ever actually seen them, so we built our own versions of them. So when the Black Summer came I was dominating play using my own version of the NecoDeck, it was only later I found out my version was not well built and I was not playing it very well either.

I came back to the states in 1997 and got my first dialup internet connection and I found  a website called The Magic Dojo which had all sorts of articles concerning Magic:The Gathering. Tournament reports, strategy columns and most importantly, deck lists. I also played my first real tournaments with a much larger meta game than I had previously been exposed. The first few tournaments I was massacred. The decks I had been using were slow and unfocused, at one point I was beaten by a very stupid Timmy deck built around Prodigal Sorcerer and Zuran Spellcaster. However, using the Dojo and experimenting within my new environment, it did not take me long to get up to speed and start developing decks that could consistently win. Unfortunately by 1998 I started to drift away and by 1999 I stopped playing completely.

Now of course there are dozens of website where one can go for deck lists and  game analysis, but back then, there was only the Dojo and nothing today seems to match that early enthusiasm those players had. To the credit of modern deck designers, back then this was all new and each tournament season brought not only new cards, but new players with different ideas and we figured things out in the chaos of the time. Today, everything seems to be very ordered and the meta game is dictated by Wizards of the Coast because card design is now a science rather than an art and very few cards actually break the game in any meaningful way.

Sigh! I feel old, I wish I was back in Ric’s apartment in Karlsruhe Germany playing our awful decks against each other.

The website is now long defunct, however it has been preserved for modern players to learn from the past.

http://www.classicdojo.org/

Bored of the Rings

I just bought Bored of the Rings on my Kindle. My life is now complete. The humor in this book is a bit dated, but it is still funny as hell. This influenced my early D&D playing, heck, it influences my gaming today. Bored of the Rings is, to me the ultimate novelization of a RatShit D&D game. Bruce and I still quote it to each other.

Amazon – Bored of the Rings (Kindle Edition)

Uh, NO!

Over at io9, they ask the question, why was Hal Jordan picked to be Green Lantern rather than Superman or even Batman. The theory goes, that Superman or Batman with a power ring would be just AWESOME!

http://io9.com/why-the-hell-didnt-the-green-lanterns-pick-superman-512852750

They do go on to explain it in a not very convincing way. My take on it is pretty simple, while both Superman and Batman have formidable wills, neither are in Hal Jordan’s category in this area. I point to the old DC Superhero RPG by West End Games as a good indicator. In this game the scale for attributes is roughly 0 to 25, where 0 is an average man and each level you go up on an attribute is roughly double the previous, basically going up in a logarithmic fashion. In this game Superman’s Strength is 25, his will is 20. Hal Jordan’s Will is 25, while Batman is a mere 12. Again keep in mind 0 is an average man, by that standard, Batman has an impressive Will, however, even Gnort, the most incompetent Green Lantern in the universe, has a Will of 15. Superman comes much closer, but on that scale, Hal Jordan has as much Will as Superman has Strength. Face it, when it comes to ring slinging, Hal Jordan was the most qualified candidate in the space sector.

All of this has pretty much played out at one time or another in the comics, both Batman and Superman have ended wearing Hal’s ring, but neither have ever been able to use it as effectively as he has. At one point Hal Jordan takes on the rest of the GL Corps……..AND WINS! This was not a sneaky sneaky bullshit plan, this was a head on full frontal assault. Meanwhile, Superman has been pretty consistently been fought to a stand still by small groups of GL’s. So yeah, no, Hal Jordan was the first best choice for the ring.

RE: Friday Night Dice

My usual Friday night game is currently on hiatus. My job and old age have conspired to make playing the game on Friday nights difficult to say the least. My intention is to start playing again this fall with some changes.

First, I plan to move the game to Sunday afternoon starting at 12:00 PM central time. This was actually the time we played when I first started the group and somewhere along the way we switched to Friday nights. Unfortunately, this leaves us a man down most likely. David works 3rd shift, making Sunday afternoon impossible for him, so I will be looking for a 4th player and maybe a 5th as well.

The second change will likely be the game we are playing. While GURPS is a great game, it does not have nearly the support material AD&D/HM have and if I run out of my own stuff, I can always fall back on one of hundreds of modules out there, for that reason we will be playing AD&D when we come back together. I feel comfortable with this decision, most everyone I know owns a copy or if they don’t, they can get a used copy off ebay for $5 or buy one of the new reprints. My only question now is what books do I allow, I have 3 choices; Player Handbook or Player Handbook+Unearthed Arcana or Player Handbook+Unearthed Arcana+Wilderness Survival Guide+Dungeon Survival Guide.

My last decision I have not decided yet. What game world, what setting should I use. I have a few options. First there is always Caldoom, a place everyone is familiar with and has a full and rich history built primarily by player characters. Second, I can go for the Points of Light campaign world, this was the setting I was going to flip to before we moved to GURPS, it is well written and looks like there is a ton of opportunity for PC’s to die horrible screaming deaths. My third option is to build something from scratch. Plop a town down at the mouth of a river emptying into an ocean, with a distant smoking mountain and see what happens.

Cyber war made easy

I think these guys are a little late, the term Script Kiddie has been around a long time. Anyone with a basic understanding of computers and networking can surf the internet for a few hours and find many pre-made exploits to deploy against the target of their choosing. I also remember seeing a virus tool kit at one point way back in the 90’s, which allowed you to build a virus from Chinese restaurant menu items.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2013/05/pentagon-cyberwar-angry-birds/

RE: Earth 2

So I have been re-reading Earth 2 the last weeks or so, this is probably my 4th read through of the series. This afternoon, I was thinking about how bland the Justice League line is right now, then it dawned on me that the Captain Marvel backup story in JL has been pretty all right, although Billy Batson is kind of a jerk. Then as my mind meandered through the dark roads it travels occasionally and it occurred to me, why isn’t Captain Marvel on Earth 2 instead in the main DC universe.

Earth 1 has plenty of paragon style super heroes, Superman, Supergirl. Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Mon-El, just to name a few. On Earth 2, Superman and Wonder Woman are both dead, Supergirl is on Earth 1 as Power Girl and so far none of the heroes that have appeared on Earth Two have been paragon style heroes. Captain Marvel would have fit in beautifully on Earth 2 as so far all the origin stories have been based on magic and mythology. On Earth 2, he would not be over shadowed by Superman, he would have the chance to shine be what he was meant to be, the worlds mightiest mortal. This would also bring a major bad ass villain to Earth 2 in the form of Black Adam and Doctor Sivana could be that worlds Lex Luthor.

Even if DC wanted to maintain the Captain on Earth 1, they could build an Earth 2 counterpart in the form of Captain Thunder, a moniker that DC has used for him in the past on at least three occasions. It is all so clear to me now. Sigh! Too bad DC does not invite me to their editorial staff meetings.

Proof Microsoft is truly EVIL

Microsoft has applied for a patent on the idea of awarding achievements for watching TV. If true, this is positively the most insidious idea in the history TV watching. Anyone who has played video games in the couple of years knows what an achievement is, basically, it is an in-game reward for doing pointless tasks like killing 10 Orcs or collecting 40 boggie scalps. My guess is this will become a reward system for sitting on your ass watching TV. I wonder what I will get for watching 25 Crest commercials? Or watching a Doogie Howser marathon start to finish? My worry is how will they know you actually did it? If it were not for the creep factor here, I’d probably think this was a better idea.
http://kotaku.com/microsoft-thinking-about-giving-you-achievements-for-wa-509961989

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2013-05-24-microsoft-applies-for-patent-on-tv-achievements?utm_source=feedly

Earth 2

The current DC line of comics has so far ranged from Meh to “Well at least nothing major has changed”. The Justice League line falls into this category, the line is just not that interesting. The Green Lantern line falls into the latter. I have always enjoyed the GL series and perhaps I am enjoying it now because it is the book that has least changed when they rebooted the DC universe.Anyway, in the middle of all this there are two comics that are truly excellent reads, Earth 2 and Worlds Finest. Earth 2 is basically a reintroduction of the Justice Society where Alan Scott is Green Lantern and Jay Garrick is the Flash.

The basis of the story is, the history of Earth 2 resembles that of Earth 1 up until Darkseid invades the planet. On Earth 1, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman and Cyborg band together and defeat him, forming the Justice League along the way. On Earth 2, only Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman emerge and a bloody 5 year war ensues. In the end the three sacrifice their lives to win the war and in the process the Robin (Helena Wayne) and Supergirl are thrown into Earth 1 to become the Huntress and Power Girl, which is where the Worlds Finest comic comes in.

On Earth 2, a new generation of heroes is emerging, so far we have seen Green Lantern, The Flash, Hawk Girl, Doctor Fate and The Atom. This last week in Earth 2 Annual #1 they introduced several new characters, Steel, Mister Miracle, Barda and a new Batman.

So the next question is, if Bruce Wayne died 6 years ago in the war with Apocalypse, then who is the new Batman. Dick Grayson seems like a good choice, but keep in mind on Earth 2, he was never Robin, however this Batman’s costume does some what resemble the Earth 1 Nightwing’s red on black ensemble. There are a couple of other options as well. A FlashPoint style Thomas Wayne, perhaps Damien Wayne (Bruce’s son with Talia Ghul) or Paul Jean Valley are all possibilities. If the quality of this book keeps up, it should be a lot of fun finding out.