Four Letter Nerd

Category - Gaming

“In The Beginning…” – The Origin of 4 Letter Nerd

A long long time ago, on a Facebook thread hidden deep in the interwebs,  there was a little boy named Bill who wished upon a dying star that he could somehow work in the nerd community. And like the shadow of Xerxes’ arrows, 3 old guys and a tech genius descended upon him within minutes and began what is now known as Four Letter Nerd. That is where our journey began a year ago, and we’d like to invite you to read the thread itself for all it’s glory. Enjoy.

 

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Origin 14

 

As you can see by the main image at the top of this article, we’re throwing ourselves a Birthday party! We’re calling it 4LN’s BirthdayCon, and we want you all to come! Come party with us at our favorite comic shop, Comic Collector Live: the Store! Get more info by going here: on.fb.me/1ANqbfM

 

New Guardians of the Galaxy Heroclix Sets

(Editor’s note: This article was written by resident 4LN Heroclix expert Matthew Mason)

With Guardians of the Galaxy hitting theaters this coming Friday, NECA/WizKids is dropping two GotG HeroClix sets. A small movie-based set which was meh, and a full comic-based set that is scheduled to launch August 6th. The Heroclix Nation has waited patiently for a small taste of what will be in the comic set and our patience has paid off with the release of these previews. So here’s a look at some awesome pieces including a few Zombie chases!        

A special thanks goes out to Carta Magica Ottawa (https://m.facebook.com/cartaottawa) for releasing these previews throughout the Canadian National Championship!

Mortal Kombat X Trailer

670px-2,675,0,410-Slider_Mortal_Kombat_2011 I remember when I was around 10 years old, and I couldn’t play Mortal Kombat because of how violent it was for it’s time (turn it off!! I hear Mom’s footsteps!) Well, a new era is about to be unleashed in the new Mortal Kombat X that is set to release in 2015 for PS4. There hasn’t been a ton of games that have convinced me to make the move to the next generation of system, but WOW, this game may convert me yet. As you’ll see in the trailer below, there is some serious smoothness going on with the game play. With what opens up to look like another typical game/movie trailer, quickly kicks you in the face switching to what appears to be  game play seamlessly. Smoothly transitioning from live game play to 3d animation, this appears to be made of our Mortal Kombat dreams. I for one cannot wait for this to be released. Enjoy.

4LN Primer: HeroClix

Our first 4LN Primer focused on the Victorian/Science-Fiction world that is Steampunk.

What I hope to accomplish with the concept of Primers is to provide an basic introduction on different sub-sects of Nerd culture for what we like to call “Casuals” (casual nerds).  I myself am a Casual (Bill and Stephen are too far gone to be considered Casuals) and I always enjoy learning about new things, even if I don’t end up participating myself.  With all of that in mind, let’s turn our attention to the heroically clicky world of HeroClix.

Prefacing Statement: I have never played HeroClix, the point of this article is to cover the history and the basic gameplay so that we can all learn a little about it and decide if that’s something we would want to participate in – so if there are a few miscues, please forgive me.  Also, there aren’t going to be a lot of jokes in this article — it turns out HeroClix is really hard to joke about.

HeroClix was created by WizKids in 2002.  Over the last twelve years, HeroClix has been created, bought, sold and shutdown, but, like any good comicbook hero, it’s back with slightly longer hair and slightly different powers.  There are a lot of different franchises that use the Clix system – Lord of the Rings, Street Fighter, and Halo all have collections – HeroCLix focuses specifically on comicbook superheroes from both Marvel and DC as well as characters from independent distributors such as Image and Dark Horse.  Do you like Thor? Superman? Wolverine? Batman? HeroClix has all that and more — way more. There are a staggering number of characters from different continuities with which to build your superhero team.

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It might be a TAD bit overwhelming for beginners

Each gaming piece has a miniature figurine on top and a dial wheel on the bottom, which has been labeled the “combat dial system.” This combat dial system includes the character, name, point value, range, experience , speed, attack value, defense value, and damage.  When a gaming piece takes damage the player will click the dial a required number of clicks, which reveals altered stats for that character (for the most part the character’s power weakens the more damage it takes, but some characters abilities increase to show a beserker/rage mode).

Players combine these pieces to create their very own superhero team.  There does seem to a substantial amount of strategy in team creation.  Each piece has an overall point value assigned, and each team has a particular predetermined point total that cannot be exceeded.  This means that you have to make sure you create the best team you can given the point restrictions set for the team.  The more powerful the character, the less room there is for additional teammates.

Once you have your superhero roster filled, it’s time to find a foe to crush. HeroClix uses a standard war-game grid made up of 35mm x 35mm squares. Originally the maps were somewhat generic, but have evolved to include very specific locations pulled directly from the source material (Ra’s al Ghul’s Lazarus Pit and S.H.I.E.LD’ Hellicarrier are two options).

This HeroClix map is set in the Justice League's Watchtower.

This HeroClix map is set in the Justice League’s Watchtower.

Like I said earlier, I haven’t played HeroClix, so I asked our friend Matt, an occasional Nerdy Guest Contributor for 4LN, what got him into HeroClix:

I started getting into HeroClix after I came across some unboxing and tutorial videos by Glasscabinetfilms on youtube. Shortly thereafter I ordered my first set. It was the Watchmen: Crimebusters Fast Forces set. I was stuck in a weird spot though because I didn’t have a clue where to find people to play with. I had just moved to a new state and didn’t know a soul. Luckily I made a friend at work who was just as interested in learning to play as me. It didn’t hurt that this random town in Arkansas has an awesome comic shop that holds HeroClix events multiple times a month.

The first time I played I expected it to be a lot more complicated than it actually was. While some of the powers CAN be a little confusing, a little research can move things along pretty smoothly. The joy of K.O.ing a character after some patient strategizing is quite satisfying and placing in the monthly tournaments can provide some pretty sweet prizes. Way better than winning packs in Friday Night Magic. Unless you’re into that. Then yay for packs.

Overall, the game does seem rather intriguing. It has managed to merge two intrinsically nerdy genres — war-gaming and superheroes — in a way that is both accessible and collectible. If you want to find out more information watch the introduction video below and try to find a local game to attend (usually at comic shops).  Check back here later for some HeroClix reviews by Matt.

Batman: Arkham Knight Trailer

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It’s a great day for Batman and video game fans. Today the first “gameplay” trailer was released for Arkham Knight. I say “gameplay” because it seems like 80% of the trailer is cut scenes, but we’re not complaining. The Unreal 4 engine looks like it’s going full steam in this game, and it honestly looks like one of the most beautiful games I have ever seen.

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The new suit looks pretty cool

Scarecrow also looks like he is going to be an extremely terrifying boss in this game. For me ,Scarecrow is my absolute favorite comic book villain and I think this game will give him great justice. We also get glimpses of Penguin, Two-Face (who looks awesome!) and the much anticipated Arkham Knight. This game will be available on Playstation 4, X-Box One, and PC, it’s coming soon.

I’m going to be spend my summer playing through the series again, how about you? Leave a comment if you think you know who the Arkham Knight will be!

Brian Gaar: The World Warrior

I’m a long time stand-up comedy fan. I remember the very first time I ever heard stand-up was when I was 6 years old. I was with my parents at this yard sale in our neighborhood and I found a cassette of Bill Cosby’s “Himself”. I bought it for 25 cents and it changed my entire life. (Well, it changed as much of my life as one can realistically have built after only 6 years on this god-forsaken earth. Sorry. That got unnecessarily bleak.)

As I got older, I consumed everything I could. I listened to every stand-up album I could get my hands on, and watched every comedy special I could. I watched every comedian that was on Letterman, Conan, and Leno. I watched every “Comedy Central Presents”. I would watch BET’s ComicView almost religiously. I wanted to see and hear everything.

As an adult, having a connection to stand-up has been so much easier. Especially with Twitter around. I’d say that about 50% of the people I follow on Twitter are comedians. It’s an excellent tool for helping them stay connected with their fan-base, and allows them more opportunities to engage people. This is where I found Brian Gaar. Someone had retweeted one of his jokes and I immediately started following him.

 

His jokes about video games and superheros struck a nerve with me, mostly because… I like playing video games and reading comics (you’re surprised, I’m sure). But, I think one of the main reasons his jokes about that stuff resonate with me so much, is because there aren’t a lot (hardly any really) comedians doing jokes about the X-Men and playing Double Dragon for 4 hours.

 

Brian recently released his first comedy album, titled, “Never Gonna Be Famous”. There’s got to be something liberating about titling your album that. It’s like a declaration of “what do I have to lose?”. You’re basically giving yourself the freedom to say WHATEVER THE FUCK YOU WANT (and believe me, he does). But, it’s also a kind of ironic title as well. As of the time I’m writing this, Brian has the #2 comedy album on iTunes (a week makes a HUGE difference on those charts). That’s pretty fucking cool if you ask me. I’d say that there’s a chance you at least have a minor amount of fame to have achieved that.

 

I’ve listened to the album over a half dozen times already. I can’t stop listening to it once I’ve started. I can’t just listen to one joke, I have to keep going. Basically what I’m saying is this album is like cheap meth and it will absolutely ruin your life, but you’ll be trapped in a euphoric world of superheroes, cop-sanctioned house parties, and Street Fighter. So, it’s totally worth the loss of teeth and loving-human-relationships. Brian was cool enough to let me interview him without judging my Chris-Farley-Show-like-awkwardness. In typical 4LN fashion, it gets kind of nerdy. (Also, yes the title of the article is a reference to Street Fighter II. I considered calling it “Brian Gaar: The Animated Movie”, but I didn’t want to commit Brian to something he couldn’t deliver on…)

 

4LN – How long have you been doing stand-up?

Brian – I’ve been doing stand-up seriously for almost six years. Before that, I’d done comedy sporadically opening for friends’ bands in various small Texas towns. And those crowds were as open-minded and tolerant as you’d expect.

4LN – Can you pinpoint the time, or moment, when you decided to more seriously pursue stand-up?

Brian – Yes. I was coming off a video game bender that had lasted approximately two years. One day, I put down the controller, rubbed my eyes and thought, “That was awesome. I think I’ll try stand-up now.” Then I picked the controller back up and played for another two years. But eventually, at the tender age of 32, I went to my first open mic and gave it a shot. And here we are. Emailing each other when I should be working.

4LN – Who are some of your comedy influences?

Brian – Comedy-wise, David Letterman, David Cross, Jon Stewart, Bill Hicks, Jeff Foxworthy and Chris Elliott. And of course, the hit TV show Friends. Especially the one where Chandler got caught doing auto-erotic asphyxiation and everyone laughed (except for Chandler, who died and then came back in the next episode because it’s TV).

4LN – Do you think that having a talent for stand-up and being a nerd correlate for you, or do you think someones nerdiness serves their talent more?

Brian – I don’t know. I’ve never thought of myself as nerdy, I just like the things I like. Have I ever “had sex with a woman?” No. But I recently got a free download code for Mario Kart 8, so who needs love? Am I right, dudes reading this with porn open on eight other windows?

4LN – You’ve just released your first album, “Never Gonna Be Famous”, and listening to it at work got me reprimanded for laughing and “being disruptive”. Where are some other public places you’d recommend people listen to your album?

Brian – Ideally, after dinner surrounded by your family. My Elmo/911 bit is something to be enjoyed by children and racist grandparents alike. In fact, that’s my target demographic. Especially old people who think that things are so much worse now, even though they lived through institutionalized racism and homophobia, but they’re all “Waa waaa, everything sucks now because I’m about to die.” God, I hate old people.

 

4LN – I’d like to toss you some “lightening round” questions now… Best Street Fighter game?

Brian – Street Fighter II, the original one. Because that’s the one they had at Aladdin’s Castle at the mall in Wichita Falls, Texas, where I sadly grew up. One birthday, I asked my mom to drop me off there for the day. And she did, after giving me $10. Which was a lot of money back then. And at the end of the day, I was pretty good with Blanka.

4LN – What graphic novel or comic should everyone be required to read?

Brian – For me, it doesn’t get better than Chris Claremont’s run on Uncanny X-Men. Also, Infinity Gauntlet.

4LN – Most underrated video game?

Brian – Solomon’s Key. It was hard and the main character was a dude named “Dana,” which was illegal in Texas in the 80s. Also honorable mention for most horrible game is Hydlide for the NES. Which was a gigantic piece of shit and I’m still mad about that $50 wasted

4LN – I hear you’re a big wrestling fan. What’s the greatest injustice in the history of wrestling?

Brian – I’d say the Montreal Screwjob, but I read Bret Hart’s autobiography and by the end, I was ready to strip him of the belt, too. So much crying.

4LN – Best Nic Cage movie?

Brian – Raising Arizona. Also, all of them.

4LN – Pick one historical figure to battle one comic book character… who’s in your match-up?

Brian – George W. Bush vs. The Comedian from Watchmen.

4LN – Can you write us a brief obituary for any video game character of your choice?

Brian – RIP E. Honda. Once everyone figured out how to counter the Hundred Hand Slap, you were just a fat dude in a diaper.

4LN – Last thing, when I told the other guys that I was doing this interview with you one of them, a dude named Bill Clark, wasn’t as excited as the rest of us because you make fun of Aquaman, and he loves Aquaman (It’s an unhealthy obsession really). He even wrote an article for us about how Aquaman is better than Namor. Bill is a borderline basement-dwelling-neckbeard. Anyway, as kind of a “fuck you” to Bill, could you elaborate a little more on why Aquaman is terrible?

Brian – Look, Aquaman IS terrible. He lives in the ocean and talks to fish. What are they talking about? “Hey, I found some food yesterday, turns out I’m an idiot and got a hook in my mouth because I have a fish brain.” The only way Aquaman would be cool is if he lived in a fish bowl and the rest of the Justice League had to feed him periodically.

 

I highly recommend you follow Brian on Twitter, and check out his website, www.briangaar.com, for more videos and links to buy his new album on iTunes and Amazon!

 

– UPDATE – 02.06.15 –

Yesterday Brian released his first ever 1 hour special on Vimeo. It’s titled, “Jokes I Wrote At Work”, and you can download it for the low price of $4.99 just by following that link. Trust me, it’s 100% worth it.

Brian Gaar – Jokes I Wrote at Work – Trailer from Type55 Films on Vimeo.

Mortal Kombat: Some Observations

(Editor’s note: this article was written by Paige Clark – Cam’s wife)

First off, let me just say that Mortal Kombat is one of the single best pieces of film ever created, however, when I was watching it one morning I did notice a few things that just made me think. I don’t want to give you the impression that I am just some random person who happened across the movie while trying to find something else to watch. Out of everything that was available to me, I chose to watch Mortal Kombat.

I have been watching the movie, and it’s almost equally as impressive sequel Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, as long as I can remember. I also grew up playing the games on Sega Genesis with my older brother, as well as my husband. I have played and defeated many an opponent. Although, combo moves just seems to elude, so therefore, I became a master in the art of button mashing.

This is why my husband rarely plays fighting games anymore.

This is why my husband rarely plays fighting games anymore.

Here are some of the things I noticed while watching this great achievement in the cinematic arts.

Raiden is a useless Sensei or whatever the hell he is. When he first tells the three main characters, Liu Kang, Johnny Cage, and Sonya Blade (could you say their names without singing the theme song to yourself? I didn’t think so) he tells them to follow him then just lighting teleports himself up to the top of the boat leaving no trail…how the heck were they supposed to find him without some sort of trail to follow? You are supposed to think that Raiden is the equivalent to Jedi Master Yoda, but Jar Jar Binks is closer to being a Master Jedi than Raiden is to being a decent mentor or spirit guide (again, whatever the hell he is).

"Do or do not... or whatever."

“Do or do not… or whatever.”

I think what is the most frustrating thing about Raiden is that he never really helps them defeat Shang Tsung (the bad guy that takes fallen warriors souls, yeah yeah yeah, so what makes him so special). All he does is speak in riddles and lighting blinks at you. One thing he does do is conveniently leaves a bucket of water for Liu to use against Sub-Zero, which leads me to my next observation.

During a warm up round with Princess Kitana, Liu Kang is apparently pretty dense when she gives him a heads up and says, “To win your next match use the element that brings life.” Obviously she is talking about water. It then shoots to the match between Liu and Sub-Zero. As they are fighting I eagerly await for Liu to use his awesome bicycle kick against Sub-Zero that never comes. Instead Kitana shows up in the shadows and uses her newfound telepathy to remind Liu about the whole water deal. Then Liu is like, “Oh a bucket of water is conveniently placed right here!” He then slings it around way to many times and releases it at the right level to break through Sub-Zero’s ice bubble, some how (against the laws of physics) spills mid air, forms into a icicle point first and hits Sub-Zero in the gut. At first you’d think you’d be like, “Oh yeah, nice try Liu, this guy can manipulate ice. It’s in his name for goodness sake.” But OH NO logically minded movie viewer, you thought wrong. Instead of just absorbing the ice it engulfs Sub-Zero and the match is over with Liu as the victor. WTF, right?

Quick thought: Scorpion looks cross-eyed all the time, but then again it’s hard to tell with his cataract eyes. No wonder he couldn’t get his “get over here thing” to Johnny Cage.

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“Holla.”

Speaking of Johnny Cage, this guy is so full of himself he decides he is going to challenge the 500 year victor of the Mortal Kombat tournament, Prince Goro, the huge, ugly, high pony tailed, four armed monster. Well Cage has a few tricks up his perfectly rolled up sleeves. Goro mistakenly takes the $500 sunglasses off of Cage’s face and crushes them. Mistake numero uno for the BFM (Big F***ing Monster). Cage then does the splits, junk punches Goro, and runs away. Goro did not handle the pain well and whined like a deep voiced little, ugly, high-ponytailed, four armed girl monster. When Goro finally composes himself he chases Cage to the edge of a cliff. You know it’s the edge of a cliff because when you look down all you see is smoke with lightning (a huge crop dusting left by Raiden no doubt).

"Whoever smelt it, dealt it... or whatever."

“Whoever smelt it, dealt it… or whatever.”

Cage has the high ground and surprises Goro with a flying kick to the chest knocking him off the cliff. Cage looks over the edge and sees Goro hanging on to a small ledge with one hand. He suddenly loses his grip and falls into the Raiden death fart. I couldn’t help but think in those moments while he was hanging on by one giant hand, that at least one of his remaining three really powerful arms could have been useful in preventing his fall into the sulfurous pit of doom. But then again what do I know? I only have two arms. Let me also add that my 1.5 year old was playing while I was watching the movie, and the only time he really paid any attention to the movie was when Goro first fought someone. He was quite intrigued with him. So maybe I can see why Cage wanted to fight him.

Eventually, Liu and Cage go after Sonya who was taken by Shang Tsung to another realm and challenges her to the ultimate Mortal Kombat. On their way there Liu decided to fight Reptile (Reptile has been following him the whole movie, he’s the creepy little lizard, raptor guy). When Liu defeats him by using his awesome bicycle kick, Reptile inexplicably turns into a big pile of bugs. This confused me, mostly because bugs are not a part of the reptile family. It would have made a lot more sense if it was a bunch of tiny little geckos (I’d even be okay if a few of them had Cockney accents).

In the end, Liu being “The Chosen One” challenges Shang Tsung to Mortal Kombat. It’s a hard fought battle, especially when Shang calls upon all the souls of warriors he has collected. You’d think that it would be a done deal for him, but for whatever reason, the thousands of souls wrongfully stolen decide to mutiny against Shang and help Liu defeat him. Liu finally uses his fireball (about freaking time) against Shang sending him on to a spike.  Liu then says some infamous words, but the wrong infamous words. He says, “Flawless Victory.” Umm, how about NO Liu, that was not a Flawless Victory. It was very close but you nearly got the crap kicked out of you even before Shang called the extra souls. What you did sir was a “Fatality.” Get it right.

How-About-No.-Doctor-Evil-W630

That concludes a few of my observations of this cinematic masterpiece. I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Who knows, maybe we will get lucky and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation will come on this week and I can make some observations about that one too. But then again I can just watch the DVD considering I own it.

The Legend of the Atari Grave

Myth Confirmed. After nearly three decades the legend of the Atari Grave has been solved.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, over thirty years ago Atari’s E.T. was rushed through production in order to be out in time for Christmas, which left the game designer a mere five weeks to come up with a game. The rushed production schedule led to the release of a broken game that is considered one of the worst video games ever made. The game was so bad that it is thought to have contributed to the demise of Atari. Legend has it that while Atari was about to shut it’s doors for good they took the remaining unsold E.T. games and dumped them all in a landfill somewhere in New Mexico.

Lightbox Entertainment teamed up Xbox Entertainment Studios to become the modern day Hardy boys and film a documentary about their search for the missing E.T. cartridges. On April 24, 2014, they unearthed the Atari grave in a nondescript landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

E.T.

A former Atari manager named James Heller was invited to the dig site by the production team and said that the finding of the site didn’t surprise him. According to Heller, the company asked him with finding an economical way to dispose of over 725,000 games located at a warehouse in El Paso, Texas. This led to truckloads of cartridges being transported to an undisclosed landfill, and after there was word of scavengers taking the games and the media began asking question they poured it over with concrete. When asked why he never spoke out on the legend, Heller stated, “because nobody asked.”

The documentary is supposed to be released later this year on the Xbox Marketplace.

Magic; The Gathering: Building on a Budget

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Greetings PlanesWalkers! Every article I write is related to deck building because I like to consider myself a “Deck Architect”. It may seem funny but I enjoy crafting and brewing decks more than I enjoy playing the actual game of Magic The Gathering. I love to sit around and ponder about which cards have synergy, and how they can work together in a certain deck. I am so excited to put this deck together and test it out, I rush to the local card shop swing open the front door and then reality hits. I stare blankly at my written deck list and think to myself, “I didn’t calculate how much this deck is going to cost.” As we all know Magic can cost a pretty penny. You may not be looking to spend astronomical amounts of money to build a deck, but still want to play with friends and have a good time. It is entirely possible to spend miniscule amounts of money to build pretty decent decks, you just have to look hard enough. Today’s article will be all about building on a budget. I will cover the steps to building a budget deck and even give you two examples of some of my favorite ones!

Step One: There are a lot of card websites that display pricing of cards as well as their descriptions. But I prefer to use Star City Games due to the fact that most retailers price their inventory based upon Star City pricing. When you visit the site near the top of the page hover over the “Magic Singles” tab, then select English. From here you can browse any set ever released! You can see the prices and description/image of any card. Scroll through desired sets and look for the commons, uncommons, and cheap rares. Also be sure to look through your dresser drawers and shoe boxes, because you never know what you will find!

Step Two: If you wish to see “Budget” decks that have already been constructed you can go to Tapped Out. At the top of the page click the tab labeled “Deck Builder”. In the “MTG Deck Builder” box click the pull down arrow thats located on the “Browse By Hub” bar. From there scroll through the list of options until you see the word “Budget”. After clicking “Budget” press the enter key. Tapped Out will then pull up a list of “Budget Decks” for you!

Step Three: After browsing through cards you would like to use, make a list of all the cards you would like to use in the deck. Calculate the costs of every card and add the costs of all the cards together. Only spend as much money as you would like to!

The three steps listed above will help you the most when you are looking to make a “Budget Deck”. Follow the steps and you will be sure to conserve your sweet cash, as well as build an awesome deck! I am going to post two “Budget Decks” below that I find really interesting fun to play. I will also include the total cost of each deck below. (Prices are quoted from Star City Games)

Centaur Stampede

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Creature:

4x Centaur BattleMaster

4x Elvish Mystic

2x Pheres Band Raiders

2x Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice

Instant:

4x Giant Growth

4x God’s Willing

4x Rootborn Defenses

2x Druid’s Deliverance

Sorcery:

4x Call of the Conclave

Enchantment:

4x Unflinching Courage

4x Growing Ranks

2x Bow of Nylea

Land:

8x Forest

12x Plains

The total cost of this deck is 28.20. This deck is based around making “Centaur” Tokens with “Call of the Conclave” and “Pheres-Band Raiders”. After filling up the field with the mighty Centaurs you can “Populate” the tokens and create a massive army! “Growing Ranks” is a four drop enchantment that allows you to “Populate” every Upkeep. Multiple “Growing Ranks” can be in play at the same time, allowing to “Populate” as many times as you are able! Another card to help “Populate” is “Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice” Trostani allows you to pay three mana and “Populate”, her other ability is “Whenever a creature enters the battlefield under your control you gain life equal to that creatures toughness.” With her out as well as “Growing Ranks” you can create an army and gain massive amounts of life! Once the Centaurs have swarmed the field use cards such as “Unflinching Courage” and “Giant Growth” to make them hit the opponent hard! The pump spells and enchantments can also be used on “Centaur Battlemaster” to trigger his “Heroic” ability.

Gruul Smash!

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Creature:

4x Elvish Mystic

4x Burning Tree Emissarry

4x Fanatic of Xenagos

4x Ghor-Clan Rampager

4x Thunder Brute

2x Ruric Thar, the Unbowed

1x Borborygmos Enraged

Instant:

4x Gruul Charm

4x Giant Growth

4x Flesh/Blood

Enchantment:

4x Madcap Skills

Land:

10x Mountain

9x Forest

2x Gruul Guildgate

The total cost of this deck is 28.85. Ten dollars can be shaved off of the deck price if you choose an alternative card to replace “Burning Tree Emissary”. This Gruul deck is capable of a turn five victory. On turn three if you play “Fanatic of Xenagos” and the opponent pays his “Tribute” cost he becomes a 4/4. The card “Madcap Skills” gives target enchanted creature plus 3/0 and said creature must be blocked by two or more creatures. This makes “Fanatic” a 7/4 on turn four. On turn five you will have enough mana to unleash the finishing combo which goes in this order; swing in with “Fanatic of Xenagos” for seven, when you swing you will “Bloodrush” him with “Ghor-Clan Rampager”. The Bloodrush from “Ghor-Clan Rampager” will give the Fanatic +4+4 making him swing for 11. At this point you will cast “Giant Growth” giving the Fanatic an additional +3+3 making him swing for 14! Now the finisher is to play “Flesh/Blood” before the damage from “Fanatic of Xenagos” is applied to the opponent.   “Flesh/Blood” states that you can have target creature deal its power in damage to target creature or player. This means you just swung for fourteen damage and hit them for fourteen damage in the face. On turn five the opponent took twenty damage total! If the opponent has removal spells and you cannot finish them off early this deck has plenty of beefy creatures to close out the game. Cards of this nature would be “Ruric Thar, the Unbowed” and “Thunder Brute”. These big guys are meant to finish off the opponent when they hit the field, and they can do just that!

So there you have it, “Budget Decks” are inexpensive and pretty powerful! Some weeks articles will be dedicated to budget building so be on the lookout! Until next time this is Tyler McDuffee. May you walk the Planes with honor!

GUNNAR Optiks Computer Glasses: Are They Worth It?

For the last few years my job has entailed staring a computer screens for hours a day.  Over time, the office I work at began “going green,” by shifting the workload to paperless systems, meaning even more of my time was spent staring at bright screens under fluorescent lights, and it began taking its toll.  At the end of the day my eyes would dry out and I would have a pretty killer headache.  After spending more time staring at my computer screens researching possible solutions I found GUNNAR Optiks.

According to a report by the Vision Council, nearly 70% of Americans suffer from digital eye strain, and those adults ages 18-34 report feeling eye strain nearly double the rate of those 35 and up.  Let’s face it, we look at screens a LOT.  Video games, computers, Facebook, iPhones, e-Readers, whatever the current equivalent to Angry Birds is — we take breaks from our electronic devices by staring at other electronic devices and our eyes hate us for it.

GUNNAR attempts to rectify the issue for us computer-savvy folk by providing eye-wear engineered to reduce eyestrain while improving focus and contrast.

Lets delve into what makes these glasses so special.  The lenses are designed to protect your eyes from dry air which causes, you guessed it, dry eyes.  They are also designed to focus light in a way that relaxes the muscles around the eye, lessening the effect of eye strain.  The lenses themselves are made out of a custom-blended proprietary polymer, which is supposedly as tough as polycarbonate (I have had my GUNNAR Optiks over a year and there are no scratches at all) and clearer than traditional ground glass.  The lenses  also have an anti reflective coating that reduces peripheral glare which also helps relax your eyes and stop the constant straining.

There are three types of lenses for different applications – Amber, Crystalline, and Outdoor (meant for viewing your electronic devices outdoors).  If you already use prescription glasses, you are in luck — GUNNAR also provides prescription eye-wear.

Amber is the most efficient lens at reducing eye strain.  It’s yellow tint offers the highest contrast while also diminishing the harshest parts of the color spectrum and minimizing screen glare.  Unfortunately (at least for me), they are BRIGHT yellow.  I didn’t go this route purely because of the aesthetics of the lenses.  I didn’t want to be given a swirly by my coworkers (I am not saying my coworkers are inherently judgmental… except you, Gary), but seriously, I was just a little to self conscious to rock these bad boys:

Gunnar Optiks Vinyl Amber

Instead, I opted for the Crystalline lenses, which are designed for graphic designers, video/film editors –basically anyone who needs to see in true color, but still want to reduce eye strain and fatigue.  Since these are the glasses I have actually been wearing for the last year of my work life (specifically the GUNNAR Vinyl – Onyx glasses with Crystalline lenses), these are the ones I will be reviewing.  Please note: there are many different styles of frames that range from super-hip/slightly ridiculous to ultra-modern to standard eye-wear.  I just used the Vinyl’s because that’s what I am familiar with.

Overall, the frames are constructed well and feel solid, although they were slightly larger than I had anticipated.  They come with a soft cleaning cloth that doubles as a storage bag (mine has gotten a grass stain somehow, despite only being in my cubicle drawer… but it didn’t come that way). It does take some time to grow accustomed to wearing them (the only glasses I wore on a regular basis were reading glasses in 3rd Grade because my handwriting was so bad they thought I had vision problems — it turned out that I just had terrible handwriting).  The first few days I noticed slight headaches and dizziness as my eyes adjusted to the lenses, but after three days that went away.  Since then, the symptoms of digital eye strain (headaches, dry eyes, etc.) have mostly disappeared. In fact, if I forget to put them on I really notice a difference after an hour or two.

Bonus feature: my coworkers nicknamed me Clark Kent/Superman (except that Gary guy… he oscillates between Drew Carey and Buddy Holly — don’t be a Gary, kids).

At $99, the Vinyl’s I got are a bit on the pricey side of things, BUT if you suffer from any of the computer/gaming related eye strain I mentioned above, it’s totally worth it (you are paying for the SCIENCE). The glasses hold up really well (after a year of use there are no scratches on the lenses) and perform as advertised.

Conclusion: Yes, they are a little pricey and yes they are worth the cost.  I love the pair I have and definitely recommend them to anyone that works with/plays on computers and/or or consoles most of the day.