Monthly Archives: January 2017

Return to Caldoom

In a couple of weeks I will be starting a new campaign. I have chosen to go with Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition. I have been wanting to play it since it came out and  the few times we have played it, I have enjoyed. The plan for the campaign is to run a city centric campaign with little in the way of dungeon crawling. I gave my players a choice between a thieves guild based game or a city watch style game and predominate choice was city watch. Some of my players expressed a concern that playing thieves would bring out too many anti social tendencies and make for a difficult campaign. Being city watch on the other hand makes everyone at least pretend to have the interests of the greater society in mind.

So the next thing I had to decide was where to place the game. In the last couple of campaigns I pretty much made shit up as I went along. For this campaign I felt I needed something that would feel familiar to the players. The city should be almost like a home town and the best way to get to that was by returning to our old game world Caldoom. We left Caldoom behind several years ago to experiment with new settings, the primary one being Edgewood and cyberpunk Billings. BronzeHelm is the largest city on the continent and has a very long and sordid history in the game world and this seemed like a good pick. In the past when I have used BronzeHelm, I have based it on Judges Guilds City State of the Invincible Overlord.

To give an overview of what has been happening in BronzeHelm over the last few years. In 2009 Arbusto the Invincible Overlord, turned out to be not so invincible, the city was attacked and subsequently sacked by the Army of Arcanis. The battle lasted only a single night, with the BronzeHelm City Watch surrendering in the first 15 minutes. Arcanis stepped over the dead body of Arbusto and became the new Invincible Overlord.

Since that time, Arcanis has solidified his power base in the city. He once again outlawed the Thieves, Assassins and Beggers Guilds. He raided all three guilds and had all known member arrested in a single night, effectively eliminating them for several years. He also cleaned up the notoriously corrupt and incompetent city watch, turning them into a very effective force of law and order. Arcanis has also created the worlds most complex bureaucracy, there is said to be buildings dedicated to housing all the rules, regulation and laws governing everyday life in BronzeHelm.

Arcanis’s newest project to revitalize the city watch and build up the defenses of Bronzehelm centers around building a special task force unit comprised of unique individuals who can be developed. Arcanis realized years ago that there was a small percentage of people who were capable of rising beyond being one of the “Little People”, he recognized that he himself was one of those people and the history of the world has been scorched by such individuals. Arcanis’s plan is to build a special Boot Camp designed to find and exploit these people, then provide them with additional training and equipment that would allow them to deal with anything that might harm Bronzehelm.

This is where the campaign will start.

Sky Pirate Deck Draft 1

Since Aether Revolt came out I have been fascinated with the Kari Zev card and her card economy potential, never mind her Disney Princess vib. So I have been looking at interesting deck ideas that incorporates the sky pirate theme. This is probably a good exercise that shows my thinking when I am designing a deck.

So Obviously I am going to start off with 2 Kari Zev, Skyship Raider cards, she is a legendary creature, so I cannot have more than one in play at a time, so no reason to have 4 in the deck. I also put in 2 Kari Zev’s Expertise because it has her name on it and its a pretty decent utility card, but it is not good enough that I need 4 of them. Next Kari needs a ship and Sky Skiff fits the bill nicely, its has flying and can be crewed by Kari by herself, I put 4 in the deck. Next Kari needs a crew of misfits to help her with her various capers. I decided to go heavy on vehicle pilots because they add extra abilities to vehicles they crew, so Speedway Fanatic, Gearshift Ace and Veteran Motorist to give our Sky Skiff that extra punch. Since I have 12 pilots in the deck, it is probably a good idea to have a few more vehicles for them to crew, so in goes 4 Renegade Freighter. To round out my creatures I added Trusty Companion because Ragavan needs company. Finally I added Shock and Built to Last as solid utility cards. Here is the first draft of the deck, after playing it a couple of times I will probably alter it, there are couple of obvious weakness that I see.

Creatures (18)
2 Kari Zev, Skyship Raider 1R
4 Speedway Fanatic 1R
4 Gearshift Ace 1W
4 Veteran Motorist RW
4 Trusty Companion 1W

Spells (10)
4 Built to Last W
4 Shock R
2 Kari Zev’s Expertise 1RR

Artifacts (8)
4 Renegade Freighter 3
4 Sky Skiff 2

Land (24)
4 Stone Quarry
12 Mountain
8 Plains

The nice thing about this deck is it costs about $15 to put together, there are no particularly expensive cards in the deck. This deck is entirely Kaladesh and Aether Revolt, so it will be legal in Standard for quite some time to come.

MTG Deck Building 101

Some co-workers are starting to get into Magic the Gathering and I am trying to give them some helpful deck building advice. As I was going through the basics, it occurred to me I should write this down. Keep in mind this is deck building at its very basic level and is intended for absolute beginners. As you get experience you will deviate from this guide and to most experienced players, this is extremely simplistic.

  • Land: You need enough land to produce the mana you need to cast spells. As a general rule you should put 20 land into a mono colored deck and 24 land into a two color deck. Obviously if you are playing a mono colored deck with nothing that costs more than 3 mana, you can probably go down to 16 or 18. If you are playing 3 or more colors, it is probably wise to go up to 26 land.
  • Creatures: As a general rule a basic deck should have between 16 and 20 creatures. Creatures are going to be your primary method of damaging your opponent so the deck should contain enough to keep your battle field full.
  • Spells: A beginners deck should contain 12 to 16 spells, your first choice when choosing which spells to use, is what I call solution cards. Solution cards are spells that remove threats from the battle field, anything that can kill or destroy a creature and to a lesser extent artifact or enchantment removal is also a good idea. Finally cards that pump creatures or produce mana are good choices as well.
  • Mana Curve: One of the mistakes beginners make is not balancing out the mana distribution of the deck. You need to have cards in your hand that you can cast early, even on the first turn, however you also need finisher cards that will end the game decisively later in the game, those cards tend to cost 4 or more mana. Of the 36-40 non land cards, you want a pretty even distribution of 25% 1 mana, 25% 2 mana, 25% 3 mana and 25% 4+ mana cards.
  • Play Sets: A play set in Magic is 4 of the same card. There are plenty of reasons to play 3 or even 2 of a specific card, but there is never a good reason to have just one copy of a card in your deck. If it is good enough to be in your deck you should have a minimum of 2 and if its good enough to have 2, you might as well have 4. When I am building a deck, I will almost always do 4 of every card I want in the deck, this makes the deck play consistently and I am almost never waiting to draw “That One Card” I need. The only reason I would add only two is in the case of a Planeswalker or a very expensive creature that I don’t want in my opening hand and I generally do not want to see more than 1 copy during any given game.

The thing to understand about this deck building strategy is the most important time of the game is the first three rounds, your first 10 cards. The first three rounds are the early game, the time in which you have few resources in play and many cards in hand. During this time you do not want to miss any land drops, you absolutely must play a land every turn, which means at least three of those first 10 cards need to be land cards. This is why everyone recommends at least 1/3 of your deck be land. The second thing about the early game is you want to be able to cast something every single turn, you need to start establishing your game from the very beginning. So of the seven cards left after your three lands, you must have at least three cards that can be cast on three or less mana. Realistically, you’d probably rather have three one mana cards in your hand than three three mana cards. So if I were going to alter the suggested mana curve, I would definitely do so in the favor of low casting cost spells.

Things I have been doing

The last couple of months (November 9th if you must know) I have been working on securing my technology, I am trying to do better in keeping myself safe. Here is the list of things I have accomplished;

  • Encrypted my smartphone and iPad
  • Encrypted the hard drives on both my computers
  • Added two factor authentication to Lastpass, Steam, Dropbox and my Google account
  • Downloaded and installed the TOR Browser

I am not going to lie to you, this has added a new level of “Pain in the ass” to using some of my technology, however, I feel considerably safer now that it is done. The thing I am having the most trouble with is TOR. While it is easy enough to get going, using it is just slow. I don’t mean a little slow, I mean SSSSLLOOOWWW!!! Some days are worse than others, but even the good days still suck really bad. For right now, there is no way I can use TOR for normal day to day stuff. For the foreseeable future TOR has been relegated to the “Just experimenting” bin.