Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Well Arena's A Bust (For Me)

So for the past couple of weeks I've been trying to get back into playing Magic the Gathering. Extra Credits came out with a couple of episodes about how to play and it got me interested in the game again, though I was mostly there already. For the most part that's meant that's been me trying to get back into the lore or the game, write out cards I like, and figure out what is the basic deck tech would and could use in standard. Basically, I've been mapping a lot of stuff out in my notes.  

But I've also tried getting into Arena and I think I kind of hate it. 

How Did I Get Here
Before I get started I kind of want to be clear that I don't think Arena is a necessarily a bad game but I don't like my personal experience with it and will probably drop it. Which is to say you very well may have a blast with Arena. I just didn't. And a lot of that has to do with the void left by Magic Online 3.0.

Okay so in college I played the hell out of Magic Online. I was slowing down a bit after I graduated because I couldn't afford new cards but I hadn't really quit the game until Summer 2014 when they forced everybody to switch to Magic Online 4.0 and I just could not reliably get it to work on my computer. Eventually, I did but I never got back into the nearly daily habit of playing the game mostly because even when I got it working again I was broke and couldn't afford new cards. A couple of times I tried playing with my old stuff but getting anything past standard going in constructed casual Magic Online these days is hard. I should probably start a playgroup or something but that's beside the point. 

Why Do I Play
Some of my difficulty of getting into Arena but not all it of has to do with the fact that Arena doesn't really deliver on the things I want out of my Magic game. 


Before I even started playing the actual game I read The Brother's War.  For those who don't know it is a novel based around the lore of the Antiquities set.  Part of me is sad that Wizards has basically given up on novels but that's another post. The point I like to build decks that represent an aspect of the story Magic the Gathering.

We're closing from a third Ravnica block but I can't really play any of the older Ravnica cards in this app. So while I can make a red-blue deck I can't really make an Izzet deck. And the same goes for Dominaria, planeswalkers and tribal decks in general.   

Deck Building

So honestly I mostly play the game as a way of testing and iterating interesting deck ideas. The interface of Magic Online blows in a lot of ways but deck building ain't one of them (with the exception of stats. 3.0 let you see your deck stats. but I like their deck builder. I hate Arena's. To be fair I didn't spend much time with it, but I couldn't find a way to easily remove multiple cards in a deck at a time. So, for instance, the thing that broke me is I decided to splice blue into a green and white deck because I wanted a card draw. And it was a nightmare taking lands out so I could have space to add blue mana, and worse when I changed mind and wanted to change the deck back. 

Moreover, Arena is really grindy. I've been playing for a few days and at the rate, I'm going I don't really think I'll have the cards to make a deck that passes what I call muster and play against actual people for a month unless I dump a boatload of cash into the game. I'm not even talking a super chase rare tournament deck either, just something that has the uncommon and commons I use for basic deck tech, the types of cards that in Magic Online are worth about a penny

I Hate Those Animations
Honestly, I'm so hard up to get back into the game that I'm actually willing to put up with the other stuff but the game chugs on my P.C. I have an old as tar computer and half expect it from games. But this is a card game. All the bells and whistles are not inherent to the core experience in the same way for shooters and real-time strategy games. It's made all the worse because I'VE PLAYED HEARTHSTONE ON MY RIG FINE!!!! I didn't like the feel of it compared to Magic but it runs. My instincts are telling me that the reason for all the particles and animations that slow down the game on my rig is that Wizards wants to compete with Hearthstone. But you know what? Hearthstone runs on a cell.

To be fair it's still in beta but as it is I kind of hate Arena. 

Sunday, July 7, 2019

The Moment

So for a solid week everybody was talking about how Kamala Harris challenged Joe Biden on race and at least at the time my take was what were you expecting. For months we've all known what Joe Biden's Achilles heel is. He's an older politician who's been around forever and over the course of his career has said and done some stuff that the new guard finds distasteful at best and repugnant at worse. 

What's actually surprising is that he didn't see it coming. From where I sit, something like this was virtually guaranteed to happen and Joe Bidden was to have memorized "the speech". 

"That was 40 years ago. I've seen other perspectives and taken in some new information. I was wrong and have I've changed my mind on that particular issue."

But he didn't.

And that he didn't sort of encapsulates the broader race as a whole. 

You have a wing of the party which hates Donald Trump because they have an ideology and resultant policy goals based on that ideology that has been very slow to have been enacted even before Trump was elected and since then has ground to a halt and another wing of the of the party that hates Donald Trump largely because he brakes the machinery of state by being actively disinterested in said machinery. 

And this was the rare moment where you had representatives of both of those ideologies talking to each other. 

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