Monday, July 30, 2012

Game Review: Magic the Gathering Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013

So you might have been wondering, if you’ve followed this blog at all, why there hasn’t been much in the way of game reviews when it says “Where food, gaming, fashion, and basically everything else come to meet” right on the front page!

The reasons mainly revolve around me not having any time, me really not having any time, and oh, right. . .me not having any free time. The no time thing is because I am in the middle of moving to Hawaii.
You know what I did have time for, though? The Steam Summer Sale. It’s over now, thank god, because I could have gone broke. Skyrim was half off, for fuck’s sake. I don’t have a job anymore. THEY CAN’T DO THAT TO ME EVER AGAIN. Well, until the Holiday Sale, I guess. Anyway, since I’m moving to Hawaii, and I still want to socialize with my friends in Maryland, I grabbed Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013.

I like playing Magic the Gathering with actual cards but there are a few issues that prevent me from going all balls-deep into a physical card game:

Cards are expensive. No, seriously. A box of actual cards is like $90 and that comes with 36 booster packs. (So, 540 cards in all). You might be thinking, “WOW! I could totally build awesome decks with all those cards and defeat all my opponents and be the ULTIMATE SPELL CASTING WIZARD.” You’d be wrong, though. You can’t buy just one box of cards, much like you can’t get just one tattoo or administer one shot of heroin into your eyeball. If you want a deck where you can battle other wizards and, you know, actually win, you’re going to have to buy at least one box of every legal set for standard play. There are currently 8 sets you can draw from to make a deck, so that’s at least $720 and that’s if, and only if, you have incredible pack-opening luck.  You probably don’t, though, so after you open all 4320 cards from those 8 boxes and realize you got absolutely nothing of value, you have to go buy single cards online from chumps who had much better luck opening packs than you did. (Which really, is the most cost-effective way to buy a deck anyway, but I just really wanted you to struggle through opening 288 booster packs.)

Cards rotate out of legal play. Yeah, you read that right. Remember the $84988 you just spent to perfect your deck? Oh, well half of those cards are out of date now, you stupid chump. Wizards of the Coast are marketing masters and they know that if they can get you buying their cards, then you’ll have to continue buying their cards if you hope to keep your initial investment worth anything. It’s basically the ultimate ponzi scheme. Time to go buy another box of cards and build your deck again from the ground up! Hooray!

Magic is a game of mostly skill, with some luck. I, unfortunately, have neither. This makes buying all those cards kind of a waste of money because, at the end of the day, some greasy haired 8th grader in a Pokemon shirt is going to beat the fucking pants off me.

"Hey lady! Why don't you tap two mana and
get the fuck out of my way?"
Face to face interaction can be terrifying. Imagine yourself as a girl with some titties and some serious social anxiety.  Then, picture yourself walking in to a tiny, smelly room by yourself and realizing . . .
You are the only girl.

Everyone is staring at you like you like your fly is open. You check. It isn’t, but since you just looked down at your own crotch, now everyone else is looking there, too.

There is absolutely no way to cross the room without slithering under the tables like a snake or immediately losing 80 of your 145 pounds in order to squeeze through the chairs to get to your first opponent.

I would like everyone who plays Magic to dress as their favorite Tetris piece. 
I will be the "T" so I can be as inconvenient to you as humanly possible.

The fun only continues when you do eventually make it to the chair across your opponent and they’re so intent on winning that they don’t even look you in the eye or make any indication that you are engaging in some kind of game with another actual living, breathing human being. Oh, and did you know it’s totally fine to use cards in another language even though  you have no idea what the fuck they say? You have the option of looking like a twat and calling over a judge every 5 minutes or you can just believe the person in front of you and trust that they're absolutely here to have fun and play a game, rather than dick you over so they can get 6 booster packs and toss most of the cards in the trash can on the way out if they don't get what they want. 

"Oh, so that card says all my creatures die, you deal me 7 damage, and I give you a blowjob?
No problem, man. Sounds legit."
Look, if I wanted to remove the fun, social aspect of a face to face card game, I’d just play online.

Oh, wait, what a great idea.

Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 (The actual game review)

Improvements: The game has apparently gotten some upgrades since the 2012 version. New cards, yes, but now you have the option to manually select the mana you want to tap (press the left control key while mousing over the card you want to play- the game will highlight the different ways you can tap your mana). This comes in handy when you’re doing the Challenges part of the single-player campaign.

Encounters: Something I enjoyed about the single player part of the game was the encounters. Most of them are pretty easy, honestly. The exception to this is the Primordial Hydra encounter. I had to break away from my streak of unlocking cards for my green Garruk deck to use the blue Jace mill strategy in order to beat it. I am sure there are better ways, but that was the best way for me.

What will throw real MTG players off is the fact that the encounters aren’t your standard games. They have 934875 versions of the same card instead of just 4. This means that you’ll never be able to breathe that sigh of relief that normally comes in a Magic match when you’ve dealt with the last of 4 obnoxious cards.

Gripes:  Maybe I just don’t know what the fuck I’m doing,  but after I unlock a card in my deck (cards are unlocked as you play through the singleplayer campaign), I want to be able to use multiple versions of that card as I tweak my deck.  

Example: Blanchwood Armor. I think it’s a swell card that works well with my green creature deck. Maybe, instead of just one in my deck, I’d like two. Apparently this isn’t an option? If it is, and I’m missing the magical “duplicate card” feature, do a girl a favor and let her know.

The multiplayer part is a little annoying to work with. I’ve tried to play random matches 5 or 6 times (free for all) and each time it tells me that the match I want to join isn’t available. That’s odd, considering I wasn’t looking for a specific match. I was looking for any match. GRAWRG.

System Requirements: I can play this on my shitty $500 laptop from 2 years ago, so you can probably play it too.  It doesn’t look as pretty, but if you turn down the settings and turn off those obnoxious damage graphics in the options, you can still play. Oh, and it isn't for Macs. Yet.
OS: Windows 7/Vista/XP
·         Processor: 2GHz CPU (Pentium 4 or equivalent)
·         Memory: 1GB RAM (2GB for Vista and Windows 7)
·         Hard Disk Space: 1.5Gb HDD
·         Video Card: 512MB DirectX 9.0c compatible video card with Pixelshader 3.0 support

Cost: The game is $10. If you’re really a big spender, you can buy all the DLC and that will run you $30 all together. That means you get foil cards in the game. I don’t know why the fuck you would want foil cards in a video game since it does absolutely nothing for you, but I guess Wizards of the Coast knows that you’re a highly paid digital wizard and you like options. Either way, you’re still spending at least $710 less dollars than you would if you bought all those cards in boxes and that’s $710 you can spend on more games in the 2012 Holiday/Winter Steam sale. Hooorrrraayyyyy. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Spelling Fail: Week of 7/23

My fortune:

"Are you a Virtuous or a Wrong-doers?"

While this might be cheating, fortune cookies are always full of win. Someday, I would like to visit a fortune cookie factory and see where the magic happens.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Spelling Fail: Week of 7/14

This is more of a grammar fail, than a spelling fail, but whatever.

At least they spelled Methodist right...

Once upon a time, religion was for the educated. It meant power, as well as literacy and education. In fact, back in the day, the clergy were some of the only people who could read and write....and now look what we've come to. Or should I say 'too'?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Some thoughts on local food.

Hello, stock imagine of vegetables that has already
been used in a blog post this year..
It was one of my New Years resolutions, to start eating more organic/local food. Now, I am aware that organic and local mean two very different things....but frankly, local > organic > non-organic.

Local food means less energy put into getting my food to me in terms of gas/diesel, energy associated with running a grocery store for me to shop at, etc. It also means I get food that has been picked/harvested/collected a lot more recently than the stuff that's getting picked green and shipped here from other countries. The fresher the food, the more nutrients it retains.

I remember during my freshman year of college, there were little table toppers with info about the new program where the school was growing fresh produce to use in the dining hall. It had the staggering statistic that about 50% of the nutrients in fresh produce was lost within 7 days of being picked.

Think about that. 7 days. It can take days for food to get from a farm to a grocery store, especially if it's being brought across the country or from overseas. Thus, it's likely that a lot of the produce we get in the grocery store is not as nutrient rich as if we grew it in our back yard, picked it and ate it that same day.

Now, you might question that statistic, but after a thorough internet search, I found a scientific paper that supports this statistic. I might be overly zealous in the use of scientific paper search engines, but when google or bing yield nothing, it's time for drastic measures. Anyway, the paper I found studied the loss of nutrients in spinach. It found that, even when refrigerated, spinach lost 53% of its folate over the course of 8 days. At higher temperatures it hits that rate of loss a lot faster. Carotenoids were found to be lost a a similar rate, also dependent on temperature, with only 54% of initial levels remaining after 8 days.

So I may have just used to much science-y talk there, but the basic idea was that, even while refrigerated, spinach loses about 50% of some of its nutrients after 8 days. Just because this is true for some nutrients, doesn't mean it's true for all of them. In theory though, it makes sense. Heat and light destroy nutrients...when a plant is growing it is making more. As soon as you pick the plant though...all it has is what was there when it was picked....which steadily decreases as time marches on.

Ok, so fresher is better. Can we all agree on that point? In that sense, shopping local is better. At Farmer's Markets, food tends to be picked the day of, maybe the day before so it really is fresher than what you'd find at a grocery store.

"My life long goal is to be checker at Wal-mart and take constant abuse
 from customers who are pissed that the shitty plastic crap they are buying
 isn't ringing up as cheap as the sticker on the shelf said."
Local also means supporting the farmers around me. I'm not supporting Wal-mart and the truck driver who drove the food here and the laborers who picked the food. I am just supporting the farm that grew the food. Often, that means that stuff that is in season is cheaper than at the grocery store AND the farmer gets more money for what they are producing. That's pretty awesome, if you ask me. I might be supporting fewer jobs on a superficial level, you know, a farmer and the laborers he hires vs. all the employees at Wal-mart and everyone who worked to get the food there and the farmers who grew it, but the local farmer is getting paid a better wage. Besides, with a return to a smaller farming system and more local food consumption, we'd need more farmers and laborers. Those Walmart checkers can pick produce instead of bagging groceries! I mean, who really wants to work at Wal-mart anyway?

The problem I have begun to notice though, is that a lot of produce stands simply advertise that they are selling fresh fruit. Upon closer inspection, said fruit has a produce sticker on it. What. The. Fuck? If I wanted imported cantaloupe, I would drive my ass to Walmart. I don't want to stop by a roadside produce stand and PAY MORE for the same shit they sell at a big box store. Yes, I am supporting locals who are selling food from far away, but it feels like they are lying to me. If you are a produce stand, I expect you to sell food that you grow yourself. This is apparently not how it's done and that upsets me. Apparently, you have to look for the 'local' tag, to find local produce, even at a roadside stand. What is wrong with people?

I only want to eat food that comes from 10,000 miles away.
Moving on.

There are some though, that think the local food movement is actually a bad thing. When I talk about eating local food, I mean food that is in season and is available locally. I don't mean going to extreme measures to grow food in my area that normally can't be grown here. When I talk about eating local food, I don't mean eating ONLY local food, to the point where I spend all my time trying to figure out how to make a meal out of locally farmed dirt, the only thing in season during the winter months. I also don't mean eating ONLY local food to the point where I spend all my time and energy hunting for food that I can eat. I mean being conscious about what I am buying and where it is coming from and making a few changes.

When you stop being a soulless Walmart employee and
start farming, you can join THIS site!
My point here is that local farms are more transparent with their growing practices. When you know your farmer, you can ask them how they grow things. Just because a local farm isn't organic, doesn't mean their produce isn't better than Safeway's line of organic foods, because it probably is. Getting certified to be organic is expensive so many smaller, local farms might not pay the extra cash to get that certification. Keep in mind though, that also goes the other way. Just because a farmer is local, doesn't mean they don't use nasty pesticides. Ultimately, you need to be smart about what you buy and who you buy from.