Thursday, April 16, 2015

Looking Back On... FNM 04.10.15

RW Token Burn

Main Board:
4x Goblin Rabblemaster
2x Soulfire Grand Master
4x Monastery Mentor
2x Purphoros, God of the Forge
3x Outpost Siege
4x Chained to the Rocks
3x Hordeling Outburst
3x Valorous Stance
4x Stoke the Flames
4x Lightning Strike
4x Wild Slash
3x Temple of Triumph
4x Battlefield Forge
1x Evolving Wilds
10x Mountain
5x Plains

Side Board:
2x Glare of Heresy
3x Erase
1x Temur Battle Rage
3x Banishing Light
2x Mastery of the Unseen
2x Stormbreath Dragon
2x Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker

The deck is quite simple really: flood the field with creatures, burn opponents' creatures or life totals, have indirect damage dealt from creatures entering (or leaving) the battlefield. One of the most frequently asked questions is why I don't use Seeker of the Way in place of Monastery Mentor. My deck build is inspired by Purphoros's "as a creature enters the battlefield" triggered ability. I choose to play Mentor over Seeker because Mentor is a token generator and can become more powerful. I believe there are enough noncreature spells (burn them! BURN THEM!) to consistently trigger his prowess. Lifegain? I'm usually not too concerned by about it. My deck should be aggressive enough early game to not have to worry about taking a hit or two. By turn 6 I should be winning or have a set up to be able to win.

For the most part, I've been running a version of this deck since January. This is the specific deck list I made to compete in Grand Prix Miami back in March. To be honest, I've been a bit lazy to update my sideboard, even before the Dragons of Tarkir release. It's built to deal with Abzan and U/B control decks, which my friends and I had anticipated to see a lot of when we had gone to GP. There are a few minor changes I'd make to to the deck but even without being updated to include the latest card set, it has been doing quite well.

My most recent FNM has been the best yet for myself and the deck! For the first time since attending my current LGS, I made it into Top 8! -dance it out- Typically my goal is to just make it into the top 10; always so close but not close enough. Deck piloting aside, I'm pretty sure this girl right here is the reason for my success that night. (I'm a huge Game of Thrones/ASOIAF nerd). The only deck I lost to was my mirror match up, which surprised me that there is even a mirror match up now! I have been the only one at my LGS playing this build of Tokens. Ever since the DTK prerelease, a few others have started to try it out.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Gamer Origins: EM

Before exploring innumerable fantastical realms, let me share my "gaming origins."
Stop laughing at me!
     My mom was a single-mom until I was about 7. She worked numerous jobs to care for herself and me. As a result, my life seemed to be split between her apartment and my grandparents' houses. Whenever we were at our apartment, I'd play with toys, dolls, the usual. I don't remember when but at some point my mom got an original Nintendo. To this day I'm not sure if she got the console for herself or for me. Aside from Bejeweled, it's the only game I remember her ever playing. We had the Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt game. I loved it: the music, the animation, the puzzles, the challenge. I was always bamboozled by how she knew the locations of secret coins, rooms, anything.  I would always try to jump as high as I could onto the flag at the end of the levels. We would co-op and try to race each other. Duck Hunt I may or may not have stood as close as possible to the screen. Even as a youngin' I knew I wasn't cut out to be a shooter. I liked making fun of the hound whenever he popped out from the bushes. Or yell at him to not make the ducks move; little did I know that my mom was able to move them around with the 2nd controller. My mom wasn't the only person I played with. My grandparents also had a neighbor with a daughter around my age. Often I'd spend afternoons at her house playing Super Nintendo or running around not falling into canals (this might be an exaggeration). I think we played a lot of Donkey Kong and Mortal Kombat. We were awful at it but had a lot of fun. These early systems I don't remember very well since they're memories from before I was 7. At the time we were living in Miami, so most of my memories are in Spanish. Sadly, my Spanish isn't as great as it used to be. What's the saying? "If you don't use it, you lose it." Remembering them is like watching a silent film.

Never figured out how to aim...
     My mom eventually remarried. All of a sudden I had a dad and a brother my own age. Not only had our family doubled, but we had moved away from Miami. Until then, I had grown up speaking mostly Spanish at home and in public. Let's just say I had some cultural and emotional shock.  My world had been flipped upside-down. I feel what really helped my dad, brother, and I bond together was the N64 they had. Countless hours were spent playing Mario Kart, Donkey Kong, and Diddy Kong Racing. We had a few of the Star Wars titles for the N64, but I didn't care for them. Visually, I found them striking. Gameplay was a little too difficult. My first time playing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was a complete and utter disaster! I couldn't figure out the controls or understand how to use the map. The furthest I got in game was the scrub room in the Deku Tree. I wouldn't pick up that game again for years. We tried to get more games for the original Nintendo, but it didn't age well. Having to constantly blow the cartridges wasn't quite the gaming experience we wanted. Eventually, the N64 started to go too.

     Growing up, holidays and birthdays usually meant our getting a new game or console. Our first Christmas as a family, my brother and I each got a GameBoy Color and Pokemon game. For him: special edition Pikachu GBC and Red Version. For me: purple GBC and Blue Version. Now, this was not my first experience with Pokemon. I had watched the show; it and Sailor Moon were part of the "getting ready for school" routine. I had collected the cards, even if I hadn't understood how the trading card game worked. For me, Pokemon was truly my gateway drug into nerdlife, my love for fantasy and sci-fi aside. It has been a difficult fix to break. Whenever a new GB game came out, we got each of them. I'm glad we did, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to trade with anyone. We stopped playing after Ruby/Sapphire, essentially when we started high school and were trying to become attractive for future colleges/universities. Our GameBoy experiences weren't limited to Pokemon. I realized my deep love for RPGs by playing Fire Emblem and Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones. Hand-held consoles hold a dear place in my heart. They were the first gaming experience I truly delved into as well as being the one I spent the most time playing. Until I entered high school, my family was involved in a lot of extracurriculars, meaning we spent a lot of time driving around from place to place. My GameBoy, and then later my PSP, was always there to keep me entertained and challenged.

     The system I fell completely head over heels for was the PlayStation 2. I don't remember when we
got it, but it must have been soon after it released. This is the system I truly grew up with and never get tired of playing. Although my dad, brother, and I loved to compete, most of the games we played were single-player. We'd compete by seeing who could get 100% completion. The guys usually beat me in this regard, but it only increased my incentive to play! Crash Bandicoot was one of the first games we played, but we didn't purchase too much of the series. My dad was a big fan of the Ape Escape, especially since my younger siblings were able to watch and enjoy the silly gameplay. I loved Ratchet and Clank. My brother loved Sly Cooper. The only co-op games we played together were SSX Tricky - the only sports game I enjoy - and Guitar Hero. I might not be able to strum a tune on a real guitar, but I can impress quite a few people with my GH skills. Now, you might be wondering where such staples as Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts are on this list. Sadly, they are not. Reasons being, my parents were very strict on the kinds of games we could play. We were not allowed to play anything over a T-rating. If we did have a violent game, were were only allowed to play it when our younger siblings were sleeping or not home. My mom wasn't a FF fan because of the outfits. She was afraid that I'd start to dress like Riku from FFX-2. One of my classmates got me the game for my 13th birthday. The first time I played it my parents had to watch just in case they changed their minds about it being "age appropriate." I refused to play Kingdom Hearts. Yes, you read that sentence correctly. How does someone refuse KH goodness? By wanting nothing to do with Disney at the time. I come from a very Disney-oriented family. We became more "obsessed" after my mom started working for the company. I was a teenager. I rebelled. Rawr. To this day I have yet to play KH. I'm starting to play the FF series. Slowly but surely we'll get there.

     Hand-helds and the PS2 might be my preferred gaming systems, but they were not the only systems I grew up with. We also had a GameCube and an XBox. The only games I can remember having for the GameCube are Pokemon Colosseum, Animal Crossing, and Super Mario Sunshine. I got pretty far in Colosseum. There aren't too many Pokemon games that I don't enjoy. Animal Crossing was a guilty pleasure. I can't tell you how many times my dad made fun of me for running around and doing errands and yardwork in the game instead of doing so in real life. Sunshine was a big pain in the rear since I couldn't quite master the controls for FLUDD. I never became an XBox fan. At the time, there weren't many games my brother and I were allowed to play due to my parents' strict rules. Another reason we never really played on XBox was because we did not have the online capability on ours. My parents refused to get it. Partly because of the creeps online. Partly because of the money. I only ever really played Knights of the Old Republic on the system. No Halo. No Call of Duty. Sorry folks I'm not much of a FPS player. No practice and poor eyesight does that.

     As you can see, I've missed out on a lot of classic games growing up and am hoping to catch up. I just started PC gaming and will be scouring the Steam store for deals. I own a PS3 and a XBox 360, but until recently never had much time to play. Honestly, I'm not sure where to start! I'm open to most game suggestions and love playing with others. Looking forward to playing and sharing my experiences with all of you. <3