Four Letter Nerd

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Beetlejuice 2 Confirmed

(Editor’s note: this is a guest article written by Whitlee Webb)

Good news Beetlejuice fans! It has been confirmed that a Beetlejuice sequel is indeed in the making! To some of you this isn’t a big deal, but coming from a huge, and I’m talking HUGE fan of the original film from 1988, I have to admit that I am nervous as can be about such news. Over the years rumors of Beetlejuice 2 have floated around, with no true results.

In 1991, director Tim Burton had the idea to create Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian, hiring
screenwriter Jonathan Gems (Mars Attacks!) to write the script. Based on what I have read on the tropical-themed never produced movie, I have to express an immense amount of relief that it never made it to the big screen. (Talk about a disaster!) To briefly summarize; the beloved ghost couple, the Maitlands, are nowhere to be found in the story. The Deetz family moves to Hawaii in hopes of opening a hotel dubbed
“The Deetz Paradise”, their goth daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder) falls in love with some surfer dude, and our favorite ghost with the most is working in a supermarket in the Neitherworld bagging groceries. (Uh, what?)

In the end, the plot matches the first film. Beetlejuice is summoned by Lydia to help her out of a crisis, he wreaks havoc, and is eventually put back where he belongs, the afterlife. I think we can all agree that such a movie would have been a disgrace to the original and Tim Burton probably would have never found work again. Since that failed attempt, all talk of a Beetlejuice continuation sort of died out until September 2011, when Warner Bros. hired on author and producer Seth Grahame-Smith, (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Dark Shadows) to write a script for Beetlejuice 2. Grahame-Smith complied so long as Michael Keaton would return to the role, and if Tim Burton deemed the script worthy of production. This particular sequel will be a follow-up of the first, set a good 26 years later after the Maitlands save Lydia from marrying Beetlejuice. Nothing has been said concerning the return of Winona Ryder as Lydia Deetz, or if Lydia will even be a part of it at all.

Just last month it was reported that the script is complete and Tim Burton is making the time to direct the much-awaited sequel in between other projects. A release date has not yet been decided, but if you are as obsessed as I am with anything Beetlejuice, then stay tuned for further updates!

Batman: Arkham Origins Review

arkhamoriginsBy:Micah Russell

A group of lowlifes are mercilessly laying into a couple of beat-cops towards the end of their shift. Suddenly a massive black figure drops down from above, overwhelming them with speed, strength, and fear. They scream as they realize that the rumors are true. The batman exists and he is darker than they thought.

Batman: Arkham Origins is the newest installment in the Arkham series, a prequel that expands on the familiar territory of its predecessors under the helm of a different developer: WB Montreal. Rocksteady handed over the title, coming out at the end of the current-gen systems’ life cycles, to the new company earlier this year, leaving little room for complaint. Even though the game is in new hands, if you loved Arkham City, then you won’t be disappointed.

I had been anxiously awaiting my copy of Origins from GameFly in the mail since its release almost two weeks ago. Once it finally arrived, I wasted no time in sitting down and starting my new adventure as a much younger Dark Knight.

The game wastes no time throwing you right into the action, dropping the caped crusader into the middle of a prison break at Black Gate, caused by the notorious crime lord, Black Mask. All of the controls and gadgets you start with are very familiar, since they are all items Batman had in Arkham City. The fighting system also has very little changes. The Dark Knight seems to fight like his older self in almost every way, except for a few minor changes. I almost wish his moves had altered a little, even if it was just making his moves more brutal, to help exemplify the inexperience of this early hero. Nonetheless, the best parts of the game that help the player understand that his is a much younger Bruce Wayne lie almost completely in the storyline, which is where the heart of the game also lies.

In my opinion, even with the amazing ending the previous game held, this is definitely the best overall story arc. The voice acting of Roger Craig Smith (Batman/Bruce Wayne) and Troy Baker (The Joker) is phenomenal. If no one had told me, I wouldn’t have even been able to tell that Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill hadn’t returned for this title. The much grittier voice of Batman is what truly made me feel that this was a very young, emotionally driven vigilante. My favorite moment of showing how inexperienced he is was a part where he accidently forces a henchman to pass out while choking him, attempting to obtain some information on Penguin (who by the way does not currently have the infamous bottle smashed into his eye). Then, once the Joker steps into play, you almost hate any scene that he isn’t in, mainly due to the fact that this is possibly the craziest version of him I have ever seen outside of the comics, really driving in where all of his insanity comes from. All in all as this story becomes more and more emotionally driven, each moment leaving you with a since of, “Holy s*** this game is crazy!” Though I loved every part of the storyline, the most memorable part was literally walking through the mind of the Joker (as the Joker) while having his first psychiatric evaluation from Dr. Harleen Quinzel (Holy foreshadowing B-man!) Though the story is really what seems to pull the entire game together, there are still plenty of holes that leave the player longing for something more. Since the main difference that sets the game apart from the other seems to be time, there truly isn’t enough “new” dynamics that set this game apart from previous entries. The map is twice as big Arkham City, but the only addition is an equally sized (and not very unique) island connected to the previous one by one lengthy, annoying bridge, that you will find yourself crossing constantly in order to complete the many side quests and collectibles. The only other real change from before is a new bad guy in the combat system, the martial artists, who can counter Batman’s counters and a couple of new gadgets, like the shock gloves and the zip line tool, which are picked up old school Mega Man style, by beating different bosses. One of the few highlights of the new combat mechanic is an incredibly long battle with Deathstroke, in which batman literally trades punches with the assassin, proving his combat ability. So the combat is pretty much the same, the side quests are pretty much the same (picking up Riddler stuff again), the gadgets are the same except for a couple of new toys, and the map doesn’t feel that new either, just bigger. So where are the pieces that make this a new experience besides the story? Mostly in the details.

The first difference that is the easiest to spot in the story mode is the new crime scene investigations. This has actually become one of my favorite parts of the game, mainly due to the fact that it makes the player get the feeling of why Bruce is nicknamed the world’s greatest detective. This was something the previous games failed to do and I hope it becomes a new staple in the series. There are several points in the main quest and side quests alike where the players will find themselves looking over a murder scene from first person view. Although the new mode is very straight forward, literally being talked through it by Batman’s inner thoughts, it’s very refreshing. The player will scan the body, do blood spatter analysis, and be able to rewind and play forward the crime as it happens, in order to catch any small details needed to close the case. Seeing a body reanimate and watching its death by a thrown air-conditioning unit in reverse is quite a thing of beauty. Once Batman has found enough DNA evidence to tie the killer to the body, he then has to track them down and take them out. Very satisfying.

The other big change to the series is the introduction of the all-new multiplayer, 3 vs. 3 vs. 2 mode, in which three members from the Joker’s gang, three members from Bane’s gang, and Batman and Robin, face off against each other in a bout to control territory. The gameplay mechanics of the new online mode are fairly straightforward, basically being a 3rd person shooter for the gangs while Batman and his sidekick roam the shadows above. On paper the idea is great, but there isn’t a lot of room for newcomers to be able to face off against others who have been playing a lot longer. The higher the opponents level, the more likely it is that their weapons over power a newbie, basically being able to mow down anyone who is not as experienced with ease. Nonetheless, one of the other enjoyable parts of the online is being able to create load-outs of different baddies on each side, choosing how they look and what the wear, along with being able to earn new outfits for the two heroes (I really want the 1990’s animated series costumes). Though there are a lot of good things about the online, the worst part is the lobbies. Within a matter of an hour, I was only able to successfully play about 4 matches, since the game’s matchmaking forces the player to wait until all 8 possible spots are full before counting down, leaving 45 seconds for someone to change their mind and back out, starting the process all over again.

In the end, the further into the story I played, the more I loved the game. But once the game was over, even with all of the side quests to explore and multiplayer left to attempt, I began to lose interest, feeling like most of these activities became a chore. Though the game is not as being as a jump as the one from Asylum to City was, it’s still fun to dawn the cape again and experience a much younger, darker knight.

I give Batman: Arkham Origins 8.5 gee willikers out of 10.

The Dark Knight Brought to Light

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Editors Note: Todays article is written by our good friend, Megan Smith. Enjoy!

Tragedy is the most common element shared in the chronicles of heroes. A tragic event is most often what puts them on their path to deal justice and protect the citizens of their various cities, planets or galaxies. It can completely reshape who they are, or in the case of Bruce Wayne, be their total definition.

 

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Everyone knows the origin story that birthed the Batman legacy. (If you haven’t I have to ask where the hell you’ve been.) The Wayne family leaves a theatre one night, hand-in-hand and happy. They’re walking down a gloomy alley when they are accosted by a robber, who winds up murdering little Bruce’s parents in front of his eyes. His world comes unhinged, and instead of acting as any normal person would, he grows up to dawn a costume in an obsessive pursuit of justice for those who think the law is optional.

Now of course, we’re talking about a fictional superhero that everyone knows and loves. But for the sake of this article, and my main point, let’s pretend that Bruce is a real person who went through real anguish. If he had gone through traditional therapeutic methods of dealing with his issues instead of putting on tights, we would obviously see a different Wayne. Just how different, is the question I have been mulling over the past couple days, though a lot of “ifs” and assumptions come along with the answer.

 

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The psychological benefits would indisputably be in Wayne’s favor.  He most definitely suffers from severe symptoms of post-traumatic stress which cause him to have multiple flashbacks, nightmares, and strong guilt about the fate of his parents. Psychotherapy with the accompaniment of certain medications has been proven to treat and drastically reduce the symptoms of PTSD. If he supplemented that with “as needed” anger management and underwent the therapy as a child and it was effective, we could assume that he would be leading a more relaxed life. Even if Bruce maintained his hunger for justice through the years, he probably wouldn’t turn into a violent, costume-wearing rogue. Without all of the flashbacks, nightmares, and loneliness permeating Wayne’s World (I’m not even sorry) we could envision a relatively vigilante-free Gotham.

 

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So we get it, mental stability equals no Caped Crusader. It’s pretty straightforward. But what about, you know, Bruce Wayne? Moving past Batman vs. no Batman and looking at his personal day to day life, most of what I’ve read assumes a man like Bruce would turn into a worse version of the privileged playboy/socialite that is portrayed as his alter-ego to Batman. On this assumption I must respectfully disagree. Bruce’s public appearance in the comics is a façade altogether so I would throw that out and start from scratch when building his newly formed psychological character. While there is a possibility that he would grow up to be a rowdy scoundrel of a man (I mean his parents were still murdered and all), I believe a more emotionally balanced version of him would surface to lead to an adequately stable life.

Wayne’s desire to crack down on criminals is an incredibly strong attribute to his character. A positive idea like would most likely have been encouraged as he walked through sessions with counselors or therapists in his life. He could conceivably grow to become a detective with his genius IQ, join the police force, or start his own organization to somehow aid in catching offenders like John Walsh did with America’s Most Wanted. A lifetime of striving for normalcy and balance makes someone think about consequences rather than disregard them. Regardless of what he would finally choose to do with his life, I doubt it would be along the lines of partying all night long and making a debacle of himself on television.

 

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So there you have it. A mentally and emotionally stable Bruce Wayne is… well, a boring Bruce Wayne. Sure, Gotham probably would’ve been destroyed dozens of times over by the villains that would have emerged with or without a Batman, but can you really put that above one man’s psychological health and happiness? The citizens of Gotham (and nerds everywhere) would say so, and I would join their chorus.

 

Dr. Gangrene Presents: 10 Classic Horror Movies on Netflix!

Greetings fright fans! Dr. Gangrene, Nashville horror host here, with a list of movie recommendations for the Halloween season. Netflix has a number of classic terror tales available for streaming, so I thought I’d put together a list of my favorites for you ghouls to curl up with on these cool October evenings.

 

Here, in no particular order, are ten films guaranteed to make your goosebumps get goosebumps!

 

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Black Sabbath – 1963 – Italian director Mario Bava. Anthology film that stars the inimitable Boris Karloff in a dual role – as a disembodied host introducing three terror tales, and as the lead in the final, and best, of the three stories –

 

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Rosemary’s Baby – 1968 – Director Roman Polanski. Stars Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes. A young couple moves to a new apartment in an old high rise in New York city, and become entangled in a web of evil concocted by Satan himself. Nominated for 2 Oscars, won one.

 

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Madhouse – 1974 – Director Jim Clark – Stars the merchant of menace himself, Vincent Price, as an aging horror movie star Paul Toomes, aka Dr Death, who has returned from a mental breakdown to make another movie – but people are beginning to die. Is Dr. Death to blame? Also stars Peter Cushing and Robert Quarry.

 

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Black Sunday – 1960 – another Mario Bava classic, this one stars the amazing Barbara Steele as a witch who is burned at the stake and returns for revenge!

 

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Dracula – 1931 – Directed masterfully by Tod Browning, this is the vampire performance that all others copied. Stars the immortal Bela Lugosi, adapted from the Bram Stoker novel. This one put Universal on the map as a horror studio.

 

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The Wolf Man – 1942 – Director George Waggner – Another Universal classic, starring Lon Chaney Jr. as a man cursed to become a beast by the light of the full moon.

 

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House on Haunted Hill – 1959 – Director William Castle – another Vincent Price film, (my favorite actor), this one is the quintessential old dark house story. A group of strangers are invited to stay the night in a haunted house and will be paid handsomely in the morning – IF they survive!

 

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Re-animator – 1985 – Stuart Gordon – Based on the H.P. Lovecraft novel of the same name, this stars Jeffrey Combs as mad scientist Herbert West who is searching for the key to creating life. One of the most insane Frankenstein stories you’ll ever see – and one of the best!

 

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Evil Dead/Evil Dead 2 – 1981/1987 – Director Sam Raimi – I lumped both together here because #2 is a bigger budget remake of the first, both by director Raimi. Stars Bruce Campbell as Ash, who goes to a cabin in the woods with his friends and resurrects an ancient evil with the power of the Necronomicon, an book of uncountable evil (another H.P. Lovecraft construct).

 

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Pumpkinhead – 1988 – Director Stan Winston – Stars Lance Henriksen as a country farmer who makes a deal with a witch to awaken an evil force to enact revenge upon the people who killed his son.

 

Those are my ten picks, fright fans. Hope you enjoy them, and if you have bad dreams afterwards, well – you were warned!!

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(Make sure to check out episodes of Chiller Cinema over at www.drgangrene.com. We here at 4LN are HUGE fans of the show and are eternally grateful to the ghoulish Doctor for concocting a delightfuly frightening list of great horror classics!)

The Walking Differences: TV vs Comic

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Written By Matt Mason

On Halloween of 2010 the world was exposed to one of my favorite comic books ever, The Walking Dead. I began reading T.W.D. a few years earlier and went into total fan-boy mode when I heard the news about the creation of a television show. I followed twitters, blogs, youtube channels, anything that could give me info on the show. For close to a year it was my obsession. One of the main conversations that people were having was “Will the show follow the storyline of the comics?” Most of the elitist fans wanted it to follow the storyline exactly while others wanted it to stay close but expand on things; maybe choose different routes for certain characters. One thing that we all agreed on was that the comics moved at a fairly fast pace as far as major events were concerned, which simply wouldn’t work for television.

 

So let’s have a brief recap and I’ll get to where it starts to veer from the comic.

When the show aired on Halloween 2010 we were presented right away with a perfect opening. Rick finds a little girl at an abandoned gas station. His initial instincts are to help the child until he sees the mangled flesh of her face. She begins creeping towards him with a blank look of a child with an uncontrollable hunger. We see the sadness in Ricks eyes as he raises his revolver and with a single bullet to the head… the little girl’s body, teddy bear in hand, becomes lifeless once again.

This was a perfect preview of what the first two seasons had in store emotionally. It was also brand new for the devoted fans of the comic; a great way to grab everyone’s attention. Roughly 5.35 million viewers were glued to their televisions.

The rest of the episode followed fairly close to the first issue (especially Rick waking up in the hospital). This was shot almost panel for panel with only a few small exceptions. We even got to see an awesome recreation of the “bike girl” zombie, the “god, forgive us” suicide family and the horde around the tank when Rick gets to Atlanta.

After the first episode things strayed away from the panel for panel storyline and started taking its own path. Rick met some key comic characters such as Glen and Andrea, as well as some new non-comic characters like Merle, and T-Dawg and the short lived Morales and unimportant Jaqui.

We also find (as we do in the comic) Shane, Lori, Carl, Dale, Amy, Carol, Sophia, and Jim at a camp outside of town with a few non-essential characters. Shane and Lori get horizontal and Carl starts to see Shane as a father figure.

The camp is where we start to see some of the first big changes that were made to character development with Carol and her family.

Carol in the show is married to the abusive sexist, Ed. She is timid, and quiet. After Ed’s death she is in a sense freedom, but becomes an emotional wreck when Sophia goes missing. After Sophia’s death she begins to toughen up and is currently teaching kids to kill. (**Spoiler** Zombies for now)

Carol in the comic is much different. When we meet her she is with Sophia but her (still abusive) husband has already committed suicide after seeing his parents eaten. She is best friends with Lori. Eventually she ends up in a relationship with Tyrese. Their relationship ends after Tyrese cheats on her and she begins to slip mentally. After attempting suicide she asks to enter into a polygamist relationship with Rick and Lori and is quickly denied. Then she feeds herself to a zombie after a nice little conversation.

“You’re probably not going to like it here, y’know. They’re nice enough people, at first they’re great…but they’re so goddamn judgmental. One slip-up…and that’s it really for you. I tried to kill myself. I did. It didn’t work, obviously, but I tried. They won’t let me forget it. Since then, I can see it in their eyes–they’ve lost all respect for me. All of them. Even my best friend. She tries to be nice but I can tell she’s just patronizing me. She hasn’t wanted to talk to me since I did it. She just feels like she has to. Everyone thinks I’m crazy. I don’t really have to, so I figured I’d introduce myself. I’m Carol. I think I’ll just talk to you from now on. You listen, you don’t seem to judge me. That’s really important in a friendship, y’know. Not judging people. I really hope you like me. Oh, good…you do like me.”

—Carol to a walker.

As you can see that’s a major difference in character development. The television version still has the potential to go crazy. I seriously doubt she goes that crazy but it’s totally possible.

Over the next 3 seasons we meet a few important characters and see some classic settings but none of them are as essential to both the growth and demise of the group as the force that is The Governor. Our TVs have given us a clean cut man rebuilding a community while concealing some fish tank heads and keeping his zombified daughter in chains. These two examples of a man gone crazy are just the surface when we meet him in the comics.

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But since we have not yet come to a close on the Gov’s story in the show I am not going to spoil his story (you’ll need to wait or read it yourself).

What I will do is give you a quick rundown of some small differences. Like first off The Governor in the comics looks like the stereotypical biker dude. Long black hair, scruffy goatee, and really makes it known that he’s the head honcho. One thing you learn from the novels that neither the comics, nor the show, changed completely is that The Govs name is not Phillip Blake. But that is getting way too close to spoiling some things for those who want to read the novels. Either way The Governor shows off his power in the comics, but is not who he would have everyone believe.

So from these examples I’ve given I hope that fans of the show go out and discover a much different storyline and majorly different group of people in these awesomely written comics. Robert Kirkman has given us an amazing story to follow and the writers of the show have done a great job of making them two entities. Go pick up the comics RIGHT NOW! They’ve printed re-issues and even written newer issues dedicated to revealing backstories of beloved characters. It’s worth the time and money and you will not be disappointed.

How Do I Get My Friends Into Magic; The Gathering

 

Editor’s note: this article was written by Jason Hill.

The question that has plagued man since the dawn of time. Well, 1993, to be precise, when the game was invented. I know, some of you that think 1993 was the dawn of time. (kids these days) The sad truth of it all, is that Magic the Gathering is for nerds … and the occasional devil worshiper … but mostly for nerds. Real nerds, and everyone knows this. Even the old grandmas who only leave their rooms for bingo know this.

There seems to be this barrier present in all our lives. A barrier in which, once crossed, there’s no coming back. Everyone seems to be afraid to enter the labyrinth of mana and spells. It takes a special, select few, who are brave and adventurous enough to take on this card game. But how did we do it? How do we convince our friends, loved ones, and strangers who don’t immediately run away from us to do it as well? Strap in because we have a lot of work to do.

The real problem is that Magic the Gathering has been lumped together with LARPing and D&D. People, even those who consider themselves nerds, see us and say “Oh, no. What are they doing? Do they realize how idiotic and weird they look (and or sound)? I’ve got to steer clear of this mess!” Now, to be fair, when an outsider sees all the different cards; hears all the complex jargon; surveys all the dice counters, card sleeves, and deck boxes, it can be a little scary. So it’s our job to raise this game from where it lies! Elevate our peers’ understanding of our obsession! We must imbue our ways as good and right among the populace wherever we may stand! Now that you’re motivated, we’ll move on to the solution.

Fair warning: You cannot force someone to play Magic the Gathering. Okay, don’t twist my words. I’m aware that you could physically force someone to do something against their will, but if the movies are anything to go by, nine out of ten nuns frown upon that line of thinking. If a person does not want to play, they won’t. The trick is to get them to want to play.

I can almost hear you shouting at your screen, “I’ve already tried this, and it totally backfired!” First, shouting at your screen makes you look like a lunatic. Please stop. Second, no one says “Totally” anymore. Finally, you went about it the wrong way. Let me guess, you were really excited and were telling them all about the cool cards, mechanics, and what not. Blurting out all the cool keywords that came to mind. Then they looked at you like you were not of this world and tried to leave as quickly as possible. I’m pretty close, aren’t I? You can’t do that. It’s like trying to convince a timid person to enter a haunted house by telling them how scary and realistic the monsters are.

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You have to use a little reverse psychology. Cool off. Don’t talk about it for a while. Only mention it casually. Like if they ask you where you’re going or what your plans are. Now, if you’re not a Blurty McBlurterpants and start off this way, then they will probably start asking you about it and maybe show some curiosity toward your hobby. This is where it gets difficult. The temptation will be to not only answer their questions but explain everything else the way only old Blurty knows how. Your goal is to answer as concisely as possible and ease any worries or fears with out more information than is necessary. The beauty of MTG is in the discovery. The more they learn on their own, the more likely they will want to be involved. It is good to be a source of information when they need it, but only when they need it.

Right, time to run the scenario where you scared them off. Follow the instructions in the above paragraph. Your path will diverge when you get a scoff instead of a question. This is going to take a bit more work. For the time being, leave that person alone and start working on someone you’re both acquainted with. The more amicable the relationship between the three of you, the better. Once that person starts playing, you have a chance again. The person who was scared off might be more willing to give it a try if he or she knows another friend is also into it. The more friends he or she has playing Magic, the more likely they will want to join in.

There will always be someone who will not play no matter what. Be it principal, religious reasoning, or just plain stubborness, they will abstain from the experience until the end of time. If this

is the case, do not continue to pester them about it. This will only strain the relationship. Conversely, do not abandon them for their refusal of a game that you love. For friendship is much more important than any game could ever be.

For the time being, let’s assume that you were successful in persuading a friend to join you for a game. What was that? No one has ever assumed that you would be successful before? Well, I ah … you see … I mean, I’m sure someone … It’s funny how words can be so illusive in an akward situation. Anyway, you got them around the table. What’s the next step?

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Teaching Magic 101

Lesson 01: Let them play. Finally, after all the pleading, bribery, and agreeing to seven months of dish washing duty, you have your self a student. The last thing you want to do is bore them to death by going over the rules. Showing is easier than telling. Give a quick tutorial by drawing a hand, laying down land, explain that tapping the land lets you use spells, (show an example spell) and try to make the connection between tapping land for mana and the spell’s cost. That’s it. Shuffle and play. Explain everything else as it happens. (without a condescending tone) It’s a good idea to have a glossary handy. That way you don’t have to explain all the keywords yourself. (remember, discovery is vital)

Important: Watch the face of the student during the tutorial. If confusion runs across it at any time, stop the tutorial. Say, “You’ll understand it better when we’re playing.” and start the game. There might be some confusion at first, but it’s easier to retain information when you’re doing instead memorizing.

Also Important: Go first. It’s a lot easier to imitate someone’s actions than go it alone. It also gives them more confidence knowing how a turn works before hand.

Lesson 02: Use casual decks. You don’t want to lend them the perfectly crafted, super complicated tournament winner your so proud of. Your storm deck will be useless in the hands of someone who doesn’t understand the storm mechanic. Their best bet will be to get a pre-made starter deck, but there are those who would rather not spend any money on an experience they are unsure of. If this is the case, try to lend them a deck that has only one or two mechanics in it. (flying and unleash for example) Basically, remember that while your student may not be an idiot, they might get overwhelmed easily.

Lesson 03: You don’t want to win. You don’t want to lose. No, I’m not suggesting a Platinum Angel / Abyssal Persecutor combo. (look them up. I promise not to tell anyone you didn’t know what they were) I’m saying that you want to control the game, but not with a control deck. What you want to control is the tempo of the game. You don’t want to crush your student in their first game. They will more than likely walk away, never to return to MTG. You don’t want to let them win either. They might feel pitied or inept, which might also lead to them walking away.

What you want is for them to have an experience. A chance to do some cool things during the course of the match. Let them drop a 6/6 bomb and try to answer it with your creatures before you Doom Blade it out of existance. There needs to be a sense of accomplishment with almost every action they take. There needs to be no fear on their part on whether or not they should play a spell. You’re fighting an epic battle, where both sides are nearly equal and one side has to eek out a victory or die trying. This takes a very keen sense of awareness. Don’t try to anticipate their moves, but rather react to what they do in such a way that doesn’t completely all down any avenues of strategy.

Lesson 04: Grace goes a long way. Beginners are going to make mistakes. A lot of them. Way more than you remember making when you first started. Now you’ll have to step down off you high horse for a second, cause you’re not on the Pro Tour yet. (If you are on the Pro Tour and your reading this, could you sign my hat?) If they ask for a re-do or if they can take something back, go ahead and let them. On

the flip side, if they’re losing pretty bad, you might want to make some “mis-plays” to give them a slight edge. If they’re down to 5 life, maybe you might “forget” the trigger that makes them lose a life or discard a card. The game becomes a lot more interesting when you do, trust me. You will also find yourself explaining the same things multiple times. Have patience. Once they get the hang of it, it’ll be worth it.

Lesson 05: There is no Lesson 05. Don’t overthink this one. It’s supposed to be very zen like.

Lesson 06: The first game is one on one. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to put your student into a group setting for their first game. There is one exception to this rule. If the group is focused on beginners, as in more than one beginner and more than one veteran, and the veterans are there only to help the beginners, then it’s okay. You may think, “But my Magic buddies are all really friendly and really helpful. My student will love them.” This might be true later on, but for the first couple of games, the student will be overwhelmed. Your friends will end up being too helpful, and with all those decks and mechanics working against eachother, it’s too much to information for a newbie to take in all at once.

Congratulations! You have just completed your first course in Teaching Magic. Unfortunately, these credits won’t transfer. However, you now have a 28% better chance of getting a friend, loved one, or complete stranger into a card game that you love. Best of luck.

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Do you have any tips or tricks that I may have missed? Are there any aspects of Magic that you’d like me to write an article on? Please let me know in the comments below. Thanks.

Jason Hill has spent many years trying to earn a PhD in Magic the Gathering, and eagerly awaits it to be a real degree.

Magic is Simple

Editor’s note:  This article was written by Jason Hill.

“LIAR!” you shout after reading the title of this article. “I’ve seen the game being played by some nerds. They turn their cards sideways, and then right ways up again. They put cards on the table only to take them off again later, but sometimes they don’t! They spout gibberish like, ‘Tap this for seven’, and ‘swing with everything’. I’ve even seen them put dice on their cards before. Who does that? And if that weren’t enough, the official online rulebook is 196 pages long, and that’s tiny type! TINY TYPE!” (Stop shouting. There might be people around. Everything will be okay.) Even veterans of the game would call me a liar, and tell me that it’s one of the more complicated games they have played.

Though it may be true that I am a liar, I’m not lying about this. Let me explain. The almost 200 word rulebook are the complete and comprehensive rules to help settle disputes and lay down special rules between more seasoned and serious players. For beginners, the rules that they give you can easily fit on a small sized poster, the type isn’t microscopic, and there are even some pictures to help give examples. I’d be surprised if Monopoly had more characters in it rule book. If you still don’t believe that it’s simple, I will break it down into three simple concepts and two simple goals. The concepts are as follows:

1. Land equals money
2. Play your turns carefully
3. Read the cards (this one is the most important)

Now, to explain land equals money. In Magic the Gathering (MTG) there are spell cards, and there are land cards. Spell cards cost mana, the game’s currency, to play. Land cards produce mana when you turn them sideways. Therefore, to play spells against your opponent, you must have land.

Play your turns carefully. MTG is set up in such a way that not everything can happen at once, but a great deal can happen during your turn. A single person’s turn consists of seven different steps which are explained on the “rules poster”. This is where the strategy comes in, for you can only play one land per turn, but you can play as many spells as you can afford. When you play your spells will be
the key to either your victory or defeat, and it’s not always a good idea to play them all at once.

Read the cards is probably the most important, yet most forgotten concept of this game. According to Wikipedia, there are 12,988 unique cards in print as of January 2013. That’s a lot of cards! There are tons of spells that do multitudes of things. You can do things like summon a creature, or enchant a player, or play a spell that doesn’t let your opponent play a spell, or summon an artifact that you can put on a creature, and the list goes on. STOP! Don’t get overwhelmed just yet. Breathe. Now, read the card. It will tell you exactly what it does.

There might be some numbers and symbols on it that you don’t understand. Don’t fret, the “rules poster” has a picture of an ordinary card and explains what all the numbers and symbols mean. You may stumble along a keyword you aren’t familiar with, like hexproof. It’s okay. The “rules poster” has a small glossary of the most commonly used keywords. If you can’t find the keyword on the poster, a quick google search will answer your questions. Everything else is pretty much common sense. Seeing as how you have stopped hyperventilating, we shall continue.

When playing MTG, you have two goals that you want to accomplish to win the game. They are as such:

1. Don’t die
2. Don’t go insane

Don’t die! Starting a game of MTG will yield you twenty points of life. If ever your life total should reach zero, you will be pronounced dead, and subsequently lose the game. “Who’s trying to kill me?” you may ask. Why, it’s your lovely opponent who wishes for your death. He/she will be hurling spells at you in order to deplete your life total to nothingness. Not all is lost, though, for you shall be attempting the same to them. You must use your wit and the spells in your hand to defend, attack, and trick your opponents before your life becomes naught. An easy task, when you really stop and think about it.

Don’t go insane. In MTG, the deck of cards that you draw from represents your mind. When you draw a spell it’s like drawing from your memory how to cast that spell. Keep taxing your brain over and over like that and eventually you’ll go insane. When you can no longer draw cards from your deck, you have lost the game. You might want to keep a straight jacket handy, just in case.

Words of wisdom to beginners:

• Play other beginners or patient and kind veterans, but you’re better off with beginners for the most part.
• Don’t worry over every little detail. It’s okay if you accidentally fudge some of the details or misinterpret one of the rules. Remember to keep an open mind and play fairly. If you find out you have been doing something wrong, tell those who’ve been playing it the wrong way with you so they don’t look like idiots to others. Lastly, if you let someone take back something they didn’t mean to do, they might be twice as likely to return the favor. (this is all in casual play, of
course)
• Don’t fill your casual decks with game winning, powerful cards. Sure, one or three wont hurt. I’d even recommend it, but if you continually stomp the living daylights out of your friends, one of two things will happen. One is that they will no longer wish to play MTG with you, and one really is the loneliest number. The other is that they will find a card to counter your deus ex machina (and trust me, there is a way to defeat every single card in the game. It’s called balance.) and then you will be on the losing end and have to find a solution to their deck to win
once again. It can become a viscous cycle.
• Set a budget BEFORE buying cards. Your wallet will thank me.

If you have read down this far in the article with out skipping most of it, then you need to try the game Magic the Gathering, or at least give it another chance. I hope you come away from this with a better understanding of the game and a new outlook on those who play it. If you read this in hopes of learning how to get a friend into MTG or how to teach it to others, I’ll write another article regarding that soon.

Is there anything else you would like to know about Magic the Gathering? Are there other things you would like me to try to simplify? (women is not a proper suggestion) Finally, what is the most important detail, if any, that I left out of this article? (I haven’t reached perfect yet)

Jason Hill has bought more Magic cards than his cousins, siblings, aunts, uncles, parents, and grandparents combined.

Shakespeare Wars: An Iambic Hope (Or, How a Shakespearean Take on Star Wars Just Allowed You to Die Happy)

Editor’s note: this is a guest post from Michael Wilson.

We here at 4LN are ardent supporters of spoiler warnings. No one wants their gleeful anticipation of a topic’s reveal marred by the unexpected gift of knowledge. That being said, if you’re at a website with the word “nerd” used endearingly in its title and are expecting a spoiler warning regarding the events of Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope, you may be at the wrong website. However, as a kindness, we will issue the following to preface this article:

WARNING! POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHOY!

There is an important period in literary history dominated by a name that has becomes its own sort of archetype: Billy Shakespeare, or William Shakespeare, depending on who you ask.

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We asked this guy. We always ask this guy.

Shakespeare’s works hardly need an introduction. Many of us were force-fed his plays as early as grade school. Some of us were even made to memorize famous monologues and sonnets to achieve certain grades. While there is a group for whom this subject brought on bouts of drug-like induced drowsiness, there is another group that felt quite the opposite. Relishing in the evocative language and thrilling to the stories of human behavior and history. The latter group seems to be the more persistent of the two, as Shakespeare has never seemed to fade in popularity.

It is because of this persistent popularity that we find so many of Shakespeare’s works reimagined with some sort of novel or modern take on the stories. Just look at the eloquence of 10 Things I Hate About You when Heath Ledger asks Julia Stiles if she owns black panties. (But really, that movie was an adaptation of Taming of the Shrew, and while I don’t remember there being a reference to “undergarments so dark as to be cloaked in shadows,” I’m sure there’s something like that in there somewhere.)

Aha! The wench prefers pastels as they are calming to her demeanor!

Aha! The wench prefers pastels as they are calming to her demeanor!

The same sort persistence also brings us unique looks at works having little to nothing to do with Shakespeare. Certain bright minds with a command of the English language take their time to create something beautiful for the rest of us wallowing in our grunts and belches. One such bright mind is Ian Doescher.

Doescher is the author of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope. What this brilliant and kind man has done is taken the story of Star Wars, Episode IV, a story memorized by every red-blooded human and wookie, and has retold it in the style most associated with Billy Shakespeare: iambic pentameter. This is a fusion of two huge nerd icons that, under the deft hand of Doescher, brings us something nothing less than fantastic.

He also invented the character Darth Classy. Because he could.

He also invented the character Darth Classy. Because he could.

Through this method of storytelling we are given an opportunity to revisit a story and characters from a wholly new perspective. Before even opening the book to begin this story there is a burden of knowledge in regards to the plot. That knowledge does not keep one from enjoying this story as though it were new.

With the use of several elements foreign to the movie, we are exposed to new depths of the story. The very first element we’re exposed to is the Chorus. This is a character, used especially in Elizabethan plays, whose function is to speak a prologue and give context to events taking place. We first see the Chorus speaking its version of the famous text scrolling from the original film:

It is a period of civil war.
The spaceships of the rebels, striking swift
From base unseen, have gain’d a vict’ry o’er
The cruel Galactic Empire, now adrift.
Amidst the battle, rebel spies prevail’d
And stole the plans to a space station vast,
Whose pow’rful beams will later be unveil’d
And crush a planet: ‘tis the DEATH STAR blast.
Pursu’d by agents sinister and cold,
Now Princess Leia to her home doth flee,
Deliv’ring plans and a new hope they hold:
Of bringing freedom to the galaxy.
In time so long ago begins our play,
In star-crossed galaxy far, far away. (Prologue.1-14)

Did you feel that? That mounting joy as you read that? The goosebumps culminating up to the very end, with “far, far away”? Yeah, you felt that.

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And you looked adorable feeling it.

As you read the play, having in your mind how this might actually be brought about on stage, the importance of the chorus increases. It introduces characters and scenarios in a way without the use of cameras and editing tricks. Here’s another bit introducing the Tusken Raiders while Luke and C-3PO are searching for R2-D2

While droid and man go racing ‘cross the sand,
The Tusken Raiders watch the two pass by.
Their banthas mounting, gaffi sticks at hand,
They heave unto the air their warring cry. (II.i.67-70)

It’s easy to imagine this scene from the movie, and the Chorus aids us in taking that imagination and applying it to stage play. This occurs throughout the play. We might see Luke and C-3PO standing close by the Tusken Raiders, but the Chorus gives us the context to understand that the audience is meant to interpret distance between the two, where one might still be oblivious to the presence of the other. It engages the audience by informing them of what they are seeing against what the story would have them perceive.

The chorus is hardly the only element engaging the audience. We also have the use of characters addressing the audience, destroying the fourth wall. The most noticeable instance of this is when R2-D2 (whose lines primarily consist of beeps, meeps, and boops–both in the movies and the play) turns to address the audience early in the play, just after C-3PO enters the escape pod destined for Tatooine.

This golden droid has been a friend, ‘tis true,
And yet I wish to still his prating tongue!
An imp, he calleth me? I’ll be reveng’d,
And merry prank aplenty I shall play
Upon this pompous droid C-3PO (I.ii. 57-60)

He (she? No, surely he.) goes on stating that “I clearly see how I shall play my part” (I.ii.66) in regards to the rebellion, but in the first bit of his short monologue we already see a character development of R2-D2 that we see play through the rest of the trilogy. He’s been established as an important component to the success of the protagonists, but he’s also being established as a prankster character, in a way reminiscent to Shakespeare’s Puck from a Midsummer Nights Dream.

This same technique allows us brief insights into the thoughts of other characters as well. When Luke questions Obi-Wan on the manner of his father’s death he speaks [aside:], as though to himself. Only the audience hears his words, and only they benefit from them.

[aside:] -O question apt!
The story whole I’ll not reveal him,
Yet may he one day understand my drift:
That fromt a certain point of view it may
Be said my answer is the honest truth.
[To Luke:] A Jedi nam’d Darth Vader–aye, a lad
Whom I had taught until he evil turn’d–
Did help the Empire hunt and then destroy
The Jedi. (II.ii.68-75)

Here we see mechanisms behind choices that would not normally be illuminated until much later, if at all. As an already established fan of the franchise this permits us a closeness of understanding that can be much more appreciated.

Of course, some of the best parts of this play that is Star Wars are some of the simple lines reworked from the movie. Obi-Wan’s description of a lightsaber is nothing short of awesome:

It is the weapon of a Jedi Knight:
If thou in thine own hand could hold a sun,
Then thou wouldst know the power of this tool. (II.ii.51-53)

And some of them dual wield two of these.

And some of them dual wield two of these.

Okay, so we’ve established that using a lightsaber is like welding a freaking sun. We didn’t get any of that from the movie. Just that it wasn’t clumsy like a blaster and that it was for a civilized age. Sure, that’s all true–but where was the part about holding a weapon that could be described as having the equivalent power of a celestial body generating 400 trillion trillion watts. Doescher gave us this, and for that we love him.

The play is filled with wonderful moments like the above. Monologues from the characters are scattered throughout the pages, and they truly offer an insight into the sort of characters and plots we’re dealing with here. Doescher knows when to have fun with the fans in other ways, though. Here’s the famous scene in which Greedo and Han have a shot at one another, let’s see who shoots first.

HAN:
Aye, true, I’ll warrant thou hast wish’d this day.
[They shoot, Greedo dies.
[To innkeeper:] Pray, goodly Sir, forgive me for the
mess.
[Aside:] And whether I shot first, I’ll ne’er confess!
[Exuent. (III.ii.160-65)

What a way to address the “Han shot first” rabble. No sides chosen, just a coy remark coneding no guilt for either party–the matter left to discussion. Well done. Just so well done.

We could spend another several hours giving favorite examples for this work of art, but the play itself, in its entirety, is a favorite example. You’ll just have to read it. This is one of those few books that you can pick up and after reading just the brief prologue you know that you’ll either love it, or that you are something soulless who can witness no happiness in the world.

WORKS CITED

Doescher, Ian. William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope. Philadelphia: Quirk, 2013. Print.

Knowledge, Dr. “How Much Energy Does the Sun Produce?” Boston.com. The Boston Globe, 5 Sept. 2005. Web. 6 Sept. 2013.

Pikmin 3 Review

Editor’s note: this is a guest post from Alex Baskette. 

After almost a decade and multiple starts and stops in production Nintendo has finally released Pikmin 3, the long awaited sequel to the beloved franchise. Those of us who purchased the Wii U have been eagerly awaiting strong titles like Pikmin 3, so we may knock the dust off the GamePad and not feel like we threw our cash down the Sarlac Pit. Right off the bat this game feels familiar, like returning home after long trip. A lot of the mechanics of the game remain the same from the first two titles, except this time you take control of three squidgy little alien explorers instead of just one. Along with the addition of the new playable characters there are two new types of Pikmin. The Black Pikmin are a rock type Pikmin and can be used to break through glass barriers or an enemy’s shields. The other type is a pink, flying Pikmin, while it’s not terribly strong in battle they are very useful in completing puzzles and getting to fruits and treasures that are typically out of reach for the other Pikmin.

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The game starts off by introducing you to a new planet, Koppai. It appears that the inhabitants of this planet have burned through all of their natural resources and will face certain peril if another source of food is not found soon. The leaders of Koppai send a team consisting of Captain Charlie, Engineer Alph, and Botanist Brittany to a far off planet known as PNF-404. Upon entering the planet’s atmosphere the ship encounters a system wide failure and Captain Charlie and Brittany are thrown from the ship along with the ship’s Cosmic Drive Key. The mood intensifies as our heroes are separated on a alien world making the first part of the game focused on being reunited. After coming to, we are introduced to the multicolored flower creatures known as Pikmin. The landscapes are rich and beautiful. Throughout the game, players encounter four separate environments before it reaches it’s climax in the final area. Within these environments you are tasked with collecting different fruits for your juice supply for you to drink at the end of each day. This also allows the astronauts to obtain seeds to take back to their struggling home planet. Completing these tasks all has to be done before the sun goes down. Once the night falls nocturnal predators come out, and any Pikmin that are not rounded up are violently consumed by these beasts. All of this while you hunt down the elusive Captain Olimar, the tiny, treasure-obsessed hero from the first two Pikmin games. Through picking up clues you find that Captain Olimar has made off with your Cosmic Drive Key, the component needed for you to get back to Koppai!

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The gameplay mechanics have not changed much since the first Pikmin game. This time around you have the ability to control three different squads at a time with the GamePad. Players are given three different ways to play, the GamePad, the Wiimote and Nunchuck, and the Wii U Pro Controller. Playing with the GamePad gives you constant access to the World Map allowing you to quickly switch between each individual squad. The only downside to using the GamePad is if you are a hunker down and play all night kind of gamer the battery only lasts between 3 and 5 hours. The Wiimote and Nunchuck provide the most accurate option during battle, and the battery lasts significantly longer. Using the Wii U Pro Controller is essentially the same as using the GamePad minus the screen. All three work great and it really comes down to whatever your most comfortable with. The game is relatively short compared to its previous counterparts. I would recommend taking your time and really take in what this game has to offer. It provides different endings depending on how much fruit you collect. My only real complaint is that there is not a multiplayer co-op for the main campaign. The multiplayer modes are Mission Mode and Bingo Battle. In Mission Mode you have the option of fighting enemies, defeating the bosses, or collecting fruit. In this mode you have an allotted number of Pikmin and are held to a 5 to 15 minute time limit. In Bingo Battle you play as Alph and Olimar. You are given a Bingo card with Bosses, Fruits, Enemies, and Marbles. The players battle one another to check off boxes on their cards, and also make sure their opponents do not succeed. Both multiplayer modes are enjoyable but the lack of online multiplayer is a bit of a disappointment.

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All in all this is a welcome addition to the Wii U catalog, and after it was all said and done I craved more from this title. Playing this game brought back so many great memories of high school and playing the original Pikmin until the wii hours of the morning. Many have said that Nintendo has not released any new original content in a very long time, to that I say so what?! This is what we want, we want that quality and imaginative engrossing storytelling that we as gamers have come to love. I hope that this is the beginning of the next gen Nintendo revolution we have been hoping for. I am so very excited for Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Brothers Wii U, and The Legend Of Zelda HD.

Pros:
• Lush and Vivid Landscapes
• Beautifully created creatures
• Endearing and meaningful story

Cons:
• No online multiplayer
• GamePad accuracy is sloppy
• Play time is WAY too short

I give Pikmin 3 for the Wii U 4.5 out of 5