A Magical Beginning!

I have decided on a new series of posts to do. It’s going to be a bit different than my typical, as I usually tend towards the “word” side of the spectrum. I’m going to be tagging it #MagicMonday. Here’s what inspired it and what to expect.

Last year Scent of a Gamer starting doing posts where he showcased artwork from various Magic: The Gathering cards and wrote a sentence or two about the illustrator or some fact about it. Not only was it interesting but it was nice to look at as well. It got me thinking about Magic and particularly how I’d gotten my start with the 4th Edition and how the images from the game just fascinated me along with the game itself back in ’95. Images from that time have imprinted themselves on my mind and shaped me in ways I can’t fully describe.

So I have decided to start showcasing the cards from the 4th Edition of Magic the Gathering. I’m not going to track down the artwork but just show the card. I will make the picture clickable for the larger version so you can see it much easier. I’m not going to write about it in the post. It will be a wordless post except for the title, which will be the card name and ” – MTG 4th Edition”. I plan on going through all 378 of them alphabetically. If I do have something to say about the card, I’ll leave a comment. It’s going to take a long time at just twice a month but since I doubt anyone is in any hurry, just sit back, look at the pretty picture (or not so pretty as is the case for quite a few) and enjoy the silence. It’s probably about the only time I WILL be quiet for a post 😉

[Repost] PSA: Honesty and Book Reviewing

PSA

I was browsing WordPress the other day and one of the blogs featured had a Tag, so I figured I’d read through it to see if there was any questions I liked that I could twist for my own fun.

Well, one of the questions was “What was your last 1star book” and the young lady answering it wrote something like “Oh, probably never. If a book is that bad, I just DNF it”, with the assumption being that it doesn’t get rated and I’m guessing, not reviewed. Another blogger also recently did a post where she talks about Negative Reviews and how she appreciates them.

This led me to think about this whole subject beyond my little comment on BVT’s post. It still comes down to Trust so while I’ll be talking about that, I’d like to talk about some of the other components too.

So, Trust first.

thank-you-for-your-honesty

If a book reviewer deliberately with-holds a review because it doesn’t get a particular rating, that is dishonest. Lying by omission is still lying.  A blogger might write completely honest reviews about all the fantastic books they read  but if they don’t publish the reviews about the crappy books, that is like someone doing their checkbook and showing only the credits  and not the debits. It’s honest, but it’s not the real picture. Just ask your bank.

debit-in-credit

Another reason that I won’t follow people who state they won’t do negative reviews is because it shows a paucity of character and a lack of integrity. If you don’t believe me, this picture from the INTERNET will show you the truth!

evidence.jpg

Now, there is a difference between being a dick online and calling a piece of garbage a piece of garbage. Exactly where that line is though, that’s a very tough question.  It’s also tangential to this discussion so I won’t discuss it further.

Another reason to write negative reviews is to help out other readers.  For the record, I want to state that reviews are NEVER for the author. N-E-V-E-R!!!!! They might get something out of them but it was never meant to be for them. Reviews are for other readers. If you are going review books, it is your duty to not only steer your followers towards the books you love, but to also steer them clear from the disasters, the broken bridges and the just plain bad books.  If you drive off that bridge, put up a freaking warning sign.  Its pure negligence if you don’t. Friends don’t let friends read bad books without warning them.

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Another reason that negative reviews are a reviewers duty is that unlike in Magic the Gathering, you don’t get extra turns in your reading life. You read that bad book, that time is GONE! Don’t let others repeat your mistakes. Let them learn from you.

Finally, a book blogger may feel virtuous for not having any negative content on their blog. That shows a lack of understanding of what is virtuous, what is right and is a paving stone far along the path to hell. Yeah, I’m not going to pull any punches here and nothing funny like the ending of the PSA post from last month. I don’t want to follow someone with that lack of understanding, it is just plain dangerous to be around them.

angel-1014564_500_299
This fairy is about to burn up in the fire. Good intentions not withstanding.
bookstooge
Bookstooge brings the FIRE!

Bookstooge Got’s Sol!

Earlier this year I gave my A History of …… Magic the Gathering. Since that time, because I’ve pretty much given up on playing, I’ve slowly moved into the collectible side of things.

The above picture features all the Revised Sol Rings I’ve bought since that last post. While they say things can’t buy happiness, these have certainly brought a level of enjoyment that I don’t get from buying groceries.

So if cardboard pictures don’t make you happy, then buy yourself a bag of chips and cry me a river. Because I’m just chock full of sympathy right now!

A History of …… Magic The Gathering

In which I get on my hobby horse and ride off into the sunset to tilt at windmills.

 

Magic_card_back

Back in 1995 a friend down the road introduced me to a new card game he’d discovered at his public school. It was called Magic the Gathering and was this fantastic card game full of math and fantasy, things both of us enjoyed. It had started in 1993 and had several editions already.

 

4theditionstarterpackI started my collection by buying a 4th Edition Starter Deck. It had everything I needed to start playing and had a wide variety of cards.  I bought several of those and then would haunt the local comic/hobby shop spending a lot of time looking through their boxes and boxes of bulk cards that I could pick up for as little as 10cents a card. When you are 17 and a diabetic paying for your own supplies, money isn’t something you spend profligately.  I had so much fun that I introduced it to a couple of friends at church and I remember one epic Saturday we had 7 of us all playing in one big group around the dining table.  It was a blast!

 

mirageboosterbox

I remember buying my first booster box. A booster box had 36 packs and each pack had 15 cards. When you measure the cards you own by the 60’s, well, that is a lot. I had to split the box because I couldn’t afford to buy it all by myself. I think it was $75 at the time? They now sell on Ebay for around $1100-1400.  Anyway, the cards had a very strong Dungeons & Dragons vibe and one of the parents took a look and decided their kids weren’t going to play that. He also was a regular speaker at our church and one Sunday talked about the game. He didn’t name the game or put blame on anyone but himself for allowing it into his household, but as I sat there in the front row, I knew who had introduced his kids to it and I knew that he knew. When you are 18, devout and taught to respect spiritual authority, it was as good a killing blow for my playing the game as it was for his kids. My parents didn’t care, but I did. So I gave up playing, got rid of all my cards and figured that my memories were all I was going to have from that time forward.

 

3ed-274-sol-ring

My memories of MTG were anchored on one particular card. Pictured above is a 3rd Edition (also known as “Revised”) Sol Ring.  When I thought “Magic”, that picture and the picture at the top of the post were what sprang to my mind.  That was the face of Magic to me. It still is in fact.

 

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Speed down the highway of Life to 2014.  I began working with a new coworker and it didn’t take long for us to realize that the way we thought and the way we handled the job was so different that it made life super difficult. To the point where I was ready to push him in front of a bus if the opportunity ever presented itself. Thankfully, for both of us, he mentioned that he had recently gotten back into Magic the Gathering. He brought in 2 decks and we began playing at lunch time.

 

By this time in history, Sol Ring had gone through various changes and had had special editions and premium versions, etc, etc.  I began collecting again so I could play with my coworker and keep the peace. Magic the Gathering gave us a common bond that allowed us to work together when it wasn’t really feasible.  He eventually moved on to other companies but we stayed in touch and kept on playing a couple of times a month at a local library.  By the end of 2019 I had tens of thousands of cards and over 16 Commander decks (Commander is a variant that has 100 cards in a deck instead of just 60, plus some other rules that make it the best version in my opinion).  Then my former coworker’s personal life took a dramatic turn for the bad and he had to retrench and move out of state. Then Covid19 hit and really put the kabosh on finding any new players who I could get along with at the local game store. My interest in Magic was on life support.

The following paragraph is where things get political. After the “Rest in Peace” card is where I go back to non-political stuff.

 

safespacefinal

Then in June of 2020, Wizards of the Coast, the company that owns and produces MTG (under the auspices of Hasbro) decided that their Social Justice Warrior Virtue Signalling hadn’t been enough.  They came out with the statement we will be removing a number of images from our database that are racist or culturally offensive,…”.  What this means is that any card that they deem to be culturally inappropriate they will ban from competitive play and will remove them from their online database. With this criteria being such a moving target, it means that any card, at any time, can be removed “because reasons”.  The only people who think that the cards being banned are problematic are the wokescolds who already think everything is racist.  This doesn’t make me angry, it makes me sad, because this signals the end of Magic. There is a reason for the quote “Get Woke, Go Broke.”

 

restinpeace

So this is the end of my playing Magic the Gathering yet again. I have the feeling this time it will be for good, mainly because I’m not having any desire to continue. However, MTG is what is known as a Collectible Card Game, or CCG, and that means that acquiring cards is as much part of the business model as playing. In that regards I do plan on continuing.  I currently own a complete set of 4th Edition (378 cards) and I plan on collecting Revised Sol Rings and storing them away in a nice binder.  My initial goal was 100 but since I’m almost there I think my next goal will be 500.  So feel free to blame me if the price goes up to $20 a card (which is outrageous by the way, but considering I’m seeing outliers at $15, it could happen).

solringbinder
My Pretties….

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

MTG: Lands Matter – The Ecology of Magic

Magic_card_backIt has been a while since I’ve done a Magic the Gathering Deck List post.  I just looked and my last one was back in April of last year.  So time to haul out the cards and list out a custom built deck.

This is a Lands Matter deck, and while my post title is jokingly subtitled, the mana base for any deck is very important. For this one though, it matters even more.  The point of the deck is to pull shenanigans with lands entering the battlefield and either get Landfall triggers from your cards on the battlefield or amass a large number of lands and burn your opponents to death. I got the general idea from the Commander 2018 precon, which was a disappointment no matter how you sliced it. I’ve also got a secondary “play lands from your graveyard” theme going on as well.

So without further ado, here’s my deck list with some of the more interesting cards in pictures.

 

COMMANDER: 1

Lord Windgrace

windgrace

 

 

PLANESWALKERS: 8

Nissa Who Shakes the World

Vraska the Unseen

Vraska, Relic Seeker

vraskarelicseeker

 

Ob Nixilis Reignited

Wrenn & Six

wrennsix

 

Ob Nixilis the Hate Twisted

Domri, Anarch of Bolas

Garruk Primal Hunter

 

CREATURES: 22

Archfiend of Ifnir

Jaddi Offshoot

Nesting Dragon

Ob Nixilis, the Fallen

Omnath, Locus of Rage

omnath

 

Oran-rief Hydra

Rampaging Baloths

Kozilek, Butcher of Truth

Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre

Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

Titania, Protector of Argoth

Ramunap Excavator

ramunapexcavator

 

Gitrog Monster

Multani, Yavimay’s avatar

Mina and Denn, Wildborn

Azusa Lost but Seeking

azusa

 

Wayward Swordtooth

Ob Nixilis Unshackled

Elvish Piper

Undergrowth Champion

Xenagos, God of Revels

Dryad of the Ilysian Grove

dryad

 

INSTANTS/SORCERIES/ENCHANTMENTS: 25

Scapeshift

scapeshift

 

Fireball

Lavalanche

lavalanche

 

Ghitu Fire

Kaervek’s Purge

Clan Defiance

Drain Life

Consume Spirit

Sorin’s Vengeance

Sanguine Bond

Exquisite Blood

Torment of Hailfire

tormentofhailfire

 

Worldly Tutor

Diabolic Tutor

Polluted Bonds

Splendid Reclamation

Boundless Realm

Pulse of Murasa

Unbound Flourishing

Treacherous Terrain

Repeated Reverberation

Explosive Vegetation

Red Sun’s Zenith

redsunszenith

 

Wildwood Rebirth

Violent Ultimatum

 

ARTIFACTS: 6

Crucible of Worlds

crucibleofworlds

 

Sol Ring

Arcane Signet

Eternity Vessel

Library of Leng

libraryofleng

 

Pyromancers Goggles

 

LANDS: 38

Nurturing Peatland

nurturingpeatland

 

Reliquary Tower

Terramorphic Expanse

Ash Barrens

Cryptic Cave

Taiga

Badlands

Bayou

Lotus Field

lotusfield

 

Swamps x8

Mountains x7

Forests x7

Blood crypt

Verdant Catacombs

Bloodstained Mire

Cabal Stronghold

Overgrown Tomb

Mossfire Valley

mossfirevalley

 

Shadowblood Ridge

 

 

And this my Lands Matter EDH deck.  Hope you enjoyed some of the pictures.

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

MTG: Fight & Flight: Dino Power!

Magic_card_backSo I’m working on my third Commander/EDH deck.  One of the recent blocks in Magic the Gathering took place in a world where dinosaurs were a huge part of every day life, for good and bad. Some of those dinosaurs are really, really big and so I wanted to make a deck where I could come out with massively huge creatures and just stomp all over my opponents.  I’ve spent the last month creating this deck in a word document.  Sadly, with our recent car situation (I’ll be talking about THAT bottle of fun’ness in my monthly roundup next week) this deck is going to go on the back burner.

This time around, I decided to add every single card in picture format. I won’t be loading them as individual pictures because otherwise it would take 5minutes for my site to load and that just isn’t fun for anyone.  For each category (in bold) I’ll be showcasing 1 of the cares I think is cool or cool looking and then doing a clickable grouping thing so you can check them all out, or not, as you so desire.

My Good Knight Sirrah deck, while I really like it, just hasn’t performed. I win about 25% of the time with it.  The Get Salted, I’m Exalted, while not competitive, has something closer to a 90% win rate and I don’t play it more than once now as it can be demoralizing to someone else to lose on turn 6 in a game that usually last 30+ turns. This deck I’m just hoping to stomp around with big dinosaurs and have fun killing things whether I win or lose.

There are several main parts of this deck. First and foremost, getting a lot of mana out quickly (with artifacts and sorcery/instants) so as to be able to get the big creatures out quickly, use the Enrage mechanic on half my dino’s to help boost me in various ways and then to use the Planeswalkers and the rest of the sorcery/instant cards to fight outside of combat using my dinos hopefully massive power and sweep away the competition. I’ve tried to make all the cards synergize with as many possible other cards so no matter what I draw I will be good. Only a real play test will tell though.

Without further ado, here is my deck list:

 

Commander:1

Zacama, Primal Calamity

zacama-primal-calamity
We will♪ we will♪STOMP YOU!!!!♪

 

Planeswalkers: 4

Huatli, dinosaur knight

Domri Rade

Samut the tested

Vivien of the Arkbow

 

 

 

 

Creatures: 27

forerunner of the empire

Kinjalli’s Sunwing

Sun Blessed Mount

Bellowing Aegisaur

Burning sun’s avatar

Etali, Primal storm

Gishath, Sun’s Avatar

Imperial Aerosaur

Majestic Heliopterus

Needletooth Raptor

Polyraptor

Raging Swordtooth

Ranging Raptor

Raptor Hatchling

Regal Behemoth

Ripjaw Raptor

Shining Aerosaur

Siegehorn Ceratops

Silverclad Ferocidons

Sky terror

snapping sailback

sun-crested pteradon

sun-crowned hunters

trapjaw tyrant

wayward swordtooth

Zetalpa, Primal Dawn

Ulvenwald Tracker

 

C-zetalpa-primal-dawn

 

 

 

Artifacts: 17

Tower of Fortunes

Sol Ring

boros cluestone

gruul cluestone

selesnya cluestone

boros signet

gruul signet

selesnya signet

commander’s sphere

seer’s sundial

staff of nin

Mindstone

Pillar of Origins

Worn Powerstone

Hedron Archive

Thran Dynamo

Dreamstone Hedron

 

A-tower-of-fortunes
The Power of Scyenze, errrr, Magic(!!) compels you!

 

 

 

Sorceries/Instants: 12

Cultivate

Nissa’s Pilgrimage

Skyshroud Claim

Rampant Growth

Kodama’s Reach

Farseek

Dromoka’s Command

Domri’s Ambush

Band Together

Gravitic Punch

Rabid Bite

Thrash

 

SI-dromoka-s-command
The first rule of Dino Fight Club is: You Always Pick the Fight Option TWICE!

 

 

Lands: 39

Command Tower

Terramorphic Expanse

Evolving Wilds

Myriad Landscape

Taiga

Wooded Foothills

Stomping Ground

Cinder Glade

Fire-lit Thicket

Savanna

Windswept Heath

Temple Garden

Canopy Vista

Wooded Bastion

Krosan Verge

Plateau

Arid Mesa

Sacred Foundry

Naya Panorama

Rugged Prairie

6 Forests

6 Plains

7 Mountains

 

 

 

 

 

So there you have it. A ton of pictures. Please feel free to make suggestions or comments or to ask questions.

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

December ’18 Roundup & Ramblings

12December-336600

 

Raw Data:

12 Books

3338 Pages

3.67 Average Rating (talk about ending the year on a high note. I’m pretty happy!)

 

The Bad:

Of Mice and Men – 1 Star (ugh, what a waste of talent)

 

The Good:

To Kill a Mockingbird – 5 Stars (it should REMAIN required reading in schools)

Hogfather – 5 Stars (Pratchett was bitter but he still wrote really funny books)

Seal of the the Worm – 4.5 Stars  (what a great ending to a great series)

 

Manga:

Shaman King is really revving up and I’m excited about continuing to read this series each month. This month I read all 3 volumes in one day and wrote the reviews between each volume (I was feeling in a VERY wordy mood) and then just scheduled the reviews for each monday. Just like in November, that kind of pace worked really well for me. I don’t know exactly why nor do I particularly care, as all I DO care about is it is  working.  Bring on the FIGHTING!!!

 

Misc. and Personal:

I totally slacked in reading this month. January is going to have me reading like crazy to get that 3 week cushion back. I used it all up this month 🙂  Of course, with the Parental Pods, Miss Betsy W & her friend and the Bombfunk’s and the Bookstooge’s all together for Christmas, for nigh on a week, I was doing a lot of things besides reading.

Christmas went well but I started getting sick the Sunday before and was flat out by Christmas. Mrs B caught it from me post-Christmas, so there’s not been much going on after Christmas except trying to recover and drinking of lots of herbal teas and hot water.

Thankfully, I was Tagged by Norrie and so had an easy post on a weekend. I also did another 6Degrees post and that allowed me even more breathing room.  Thank goodness for people who continually tag and remind me that I can do book related, non-review posts!

A lot of time was also spent on writing up my thoughts on 2018. I’ve got that mostly taken care of by now and my Annual Review should be coming out January 1st.

No Cover Love this month as nothing really stood out to me. I’m not going to throw a “pity” cover love to something that I don’t actually love.

The End.

 

bookstooge (Custom)