Four Letter Nerd

Category - Gaming

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,, 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.



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.


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.


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.

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.



Hopelessly Devoted to “Devotion”

magic(Todays article is brought to you by a nerdy guest, Tyler McDuffee!)

Greetings PlanesWalkers! I would like to start today’s entry with a few questions: Are you tired of playing the same old deck against your friends? Are you wanting to break out in the local competitive scene? Are you wanting to play something interesting yet frightening?! If you answered yes to any of these questions, or if you answered no and are just along for the ride, then I have the deck or decks for you. They are Mono Colored “Devotion” decks. “Devotion” is a mechanic introduced in the “Theros” Block. Your “Devotion” to a certain color is based upon how much of that color you have in the mana costs of permanents that exist on your side of the field. For example, let’s say you summon “Twin Headed Cerberus”. “Twin Headed Cerberus” has a mana cost of two “Red” mana and one mana of any kind. So that means the two Red mana from his mana cost will give you two “Red Devotion”. “Devotion” doesnt only come from creatures, it can come from “Enchantments” as well!



The question you may be asking now is what about devotion makes it so special that it has a deck built around it? That question has many answers! Some of them will be answered along with a deck list of a few mono color Devotion based decks. The reasoning for this is that each Devotion deck has different style and way to be played. But an upfront reason I can give you as to why “Devotion” is special are the Gods. The Gods are Legendary Indestructible Enchantment Creatures with two unique abilities. When a God is summoned it is treated as an “Enchantment”. If the God is an Enchantment you may still use it’s abilities but it may not attack or block. At anytime if you meet the “Devotion” cost for a God it becomes a creature, allowing to swing at your opponent or block his/her creatures. forge

“Devotion doesnt only apply to the Gods! There are actually Instants, Sorceries, and Creatures that benefit from “Devotion” as well.


Now that you have a pretty good idea of what “Devotion” decks are about I am going to post some different deck lists for you to examine, choose whichever one you like best!


Mono Red Devotion


2x Purphoros, God of the Forge

4x Stormbreath Dragon

4x Fanatic of Mogis

4x Frostburn Weird

4x Ash Zealot

4x Burning Tree Emissary

4x Boros Reckoner


4x Magma Jet


4x Mizzium Mortars


2x Hammer of Purphoros


2x Nykthos Shrine to Nyx

22x Mountain


The purpose of “Mono Red” devotion is to burn into your opponent’s health as well as his creatures with your burn spells, while summoning beefy blockers such as “Boros Reckoner” and “Frostburn Weird” to keep the opponent at bay. Then you finish them off With “Stormbreath Dragon” or drop the big boss “Purphoros God of the Forge”. Alternate win conditions for this deck can be the use of Purphoros’s burn ability. When you summon a creature while Purphoros is on the field he deals two damage to each opponent! That ability also hits PlanesWalkers! (Elspeth I’m looking at you.) If you happen to be stuck on a pocket of land you can use “Hammer of Purphoros”. By paying 3 mana and sacrificing a land you can make 3/3 Golems, and since Hammer is on the field they have haste! Mono Red is a fantastic match up against the hardcore control players. “Stormbreath Dragon” has “Haste”, “Flying”, and “Protection From White”. No “Detention Sphere” for that lousy Azorius Mage! Sorry Azorius Mages I got a little excited…


Mono Blue Devotion


4x Thassa, God of the Sea

4x Cloudfin Raptor

4x Judge’s Familiar

4x Frostburn Weird

4x Nightveil Specter

4x Tidebender Mage

4x Master of Waves


2x Jace Architect of Thought


1x Cyclonic Rift

2x Rapid Hybridization


2x Bident of Thassa


20x Island

4x Mutavault

1x Nykthos Shrine to Nyx

master of waves

Ah yes Mono Blue Devotion. Mono Blue Devotion has one purpose. His name is “Master of Waves” The guy is an absolute monster, “Master of Waves” has “Protection from Red” He gives Elemental creatures you control +1/+1, and when he enters the battlefield you put a number of 1/0 “Blue Elemental” creature tokens onto the battlefield equal to your “Devotion” to Blue. WOAH THATS CRAZY! I know right? what is even crazier is his synergy with “Thassa God of the Sea”. “Thassa God of the Sea” allows you to pay two mana and make a target creature you control “Unblockable”. If you have enough mana you can make your “Elemental” army unblockable and swing in for lethal damage! “Thassa God of the Sea” along with “Bident of Thassa”, and “Jace Architect of Thought” allow you to draw and “Scry” away to all of your answers to the board state. Whether it be “Cyclonic Rift” or another “Master of Waves” this deck will get you there!


Mono Black Devotion


4x Desecration Demon

4x Pack Rat

4x Nightveil Specter

4x Gray Merchant of Asphodel


4x Hero’s Downfall

3x Devour Flesh

3x Bile Blight


4x Thoughtseize


4x Underworld Connections


18x Swamp

4x Mutavault

4x Temple of Deceit


Mono Black Devotion is very sinister deck. Mono Black Devotion can win very early game and race aggro decks with the card “Pack Rat”. “Pack Rat’s” Power and Toughness are equal to the number of “Rats” you control. With “Pack Rat” you can pay three mana to discard a card and put a token onto the battlefield that is a copy of “Pack Rat”. This means that every “Pack Rat” you have on the field will have Power and Toughness equal to  the amount of “Rats” on the battlefield. So if you control four “Pack Rats” every single one will be a 4/4. A cool combo do with “Pack Rat” is to use “Mutavault”. “Mutavault” is all creature types. So That means he is a “Rat” as well! More “Rats” more power! Mono Black Devotion also allows you to control the board with it’s kill spells such as “Hero’s Downfall” and “Devour Flesh”.  Mono Black is the only “Devotion” deck with hand disruption. The card “Thoughtseize” allows to look at your opponents hand and pick a nonland card from it, that player then discards that card and you lose two life. The deck is known for it’s immense draw power. The “Underworld Connections” enchants a land. You may then tap the “Enchanted” land to draw an additional card. Much like Mono Blue, Mono Black is another “Devotion” deck that lets you dig for your answers to the opponents board state. Mono Black also has the incredible “Gray Merchant of Asphodel”, when he enters the battlefield your opponent loses life equal to your “Devotion” to Black and you gain that much life! (The list doesnt include “Erebos, God of the Dead”, but at least get one. He is so cool!)


You may be wondering why I have not included “Sideboards” into each decklist. This is because I believe that a “Sideboard” is strictly up to interpretation. Make whatever “Sideboard” that fits the situation and decks you are playing against.!

Well that about wraps it up! The question that stands is what color will you be devoted to?! Until next time this is Tyler McDuffee.  May you walk the Planes with honor!

Batman: Arkham Knight Announced

Rocksteady, the company behind Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, has announced the next installment, Batman: Arkham Knight. The first two games revolutionized freeflow combat and really were some amazing games.  Rocksteady is apparently trying to out do themselves with this next one.

The teaser trailer is unbelievable and promises something everyone who played the other games has always wanted — a chance to drive the Batmobile!  The design of the Batmobile is fresh and looks incredible..  The streets of Gotham will be wider to accommodate the new driving mechanics, and its supposed to integrate nicely with the already established grapple and glide travel from the previous games.

The game is set a year after the events of Arkham City and, according to Game Informer, might just be the end of the Batman’s journey.  Based on the teaser, Scarecrow, Harley Quinn, the Penguin, and Two Face will make appearances and I imagine there will be many others from the Rogue Gallery.

As of right now, Arkham Knight will release for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 14, 2014.

Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available and check out this awesome trailer.




How to Build a Fun, Casual, Magic Deck

 (Todays article is brought to you by the 4LN Magic contributor, Jason Hill. Please enjoy.)

The holidays are over and a new year has begun. Along with the new year, comes a new deck to build. With thousands of different cards to choose from, how do you narrow it down to a mere 60 card deck? Should you limit it to only 60? The rules say you can have more if you want. Do you need spend a ton of money on new cards? Are older cards better than the newer ones? How much land should this fun deck have? Is it possible to make a deck that doesn’t suck while at the same time doesn’t make your friends hate you? The answers are: yes, no, maybe, the square root of seven, and the holodeck aboard the S.S. Enterprise. Wait, what were we talking about? … Ah, yes!

First, a disclaimer: This isn’t an article on how to make a deck that will beat all other decks. There are enough of those floating around the internet without my input needing to be added. This article is about making a deck that is fun, not only for you, but your friends as well. Unless, of course, you want to be the kind of person who doesn’t want your friends to have fun. If that’s the case, then stop being a jerk! Nobody likes the person you try to be, no matter what your mother says.

Back to the matter at hand. How to build a fun deck.

Step 1: Figure out what you like. There is a card for almost anything you can imagine. Do you like elves? Knights? Giants? Jellyfish? Unicorns? Ducks? Well too bad! Wizards of the Coast hasn’t made any ducks yet. (Come on, Wizards, what are you waiting for?) If this isn’t helping you figure out what you want, think about your play style. Do you enjoy drawing cards? Do you want to do damage that your opponent can’t block? Do you like to make your opponent discard cards? Maybe not letting your opponent do as they please is your thing. Whatever it is …

Jace, Memory Adept

This card will make your friends really hate you.

Step 2: Pick two or three of these things and start building a deck with them. So you want to have a giants and jellyfish deck that makes your opponent discard cards? Sounds like a fun deck to me. Maybe a cat and elephant deck that has a lot of artifacts in it could be interesting. Just don’t go overboard. A zombie, wizard, ninja, shark, and warrior deck that lets you draw cards, gains you life, counters opponent’s spells, and destroys artifacts might be a bit much. A deck that tries to do too much usually ends up doing nothing at all.

Step 3: Try to narrow your selection down to two or three colors. If you need to go into four colors, don’t fret, but try to stay away from going into all five colors. (tasting the rainbow can be a bit spicy) Five color decks are feasible, but difficult to pull off. The more colors you have, the more types of land you have to include into your deck, resulting in a more difficult time getting the mana required to play your spells.

Step 4: Land ho! Put some land in that deck. Land, being the main mana producer, is incredibly important to balance. It ought to be about a third of your library, meaning anywhere between 18 and 24 cards of your deck. A recommended ratio of spells to land is usually 36 spells : 24 land in a 60 card deck. While this is an excellent mark to build most decks by, each deck is different and that ratio might not suit your selection of spells.


Here is a good representation of what each mana type will do, and how they can work together.

I usually use between 20 and 22 land in most of mine. There are 2 exceptions for me, one for more and one for less. When I use more, (24 – 26) the spells I’m using usually rely on having land as basis for the rules of that particular spell. Example: “Gain 1 life for each land under your control” or “… deals 1 damage for each Mountain you control.” When I use less, (18 or 19) it’s because most of the spells in my library cost less than 3 in their converted mana cost, and I’m able to fit more spells in.

How much of each color is going to depend on the spells you have chosen. If you have kept your spells to one color, then it’s pretty much a no brainer. Just add the number of land you need and start playing. If you have more than one color, a little more work is involved. First separate out your spells by color. If you have 2 colors, try to split your land evenly unless you have mostly 1 color and only a few of the other. If that is the case, use mostly the land of your prominent color with 2 – 5 of the lesser color and maybe one or two multicolor land that share both colors. If you have 3 colors, again try to split the land evenly, but use common sense, and definitely put in a couple of multicolored land or an artifact that can give mana.

If you have more than 3 colors you should rely on multicolored lands fairly heavily along with mana giving artifacts and creatures. This should help keep you from getting the wrong colored mana when trying to cast spells. It sucks having nothing but plains and islands out with a hand full of forest cards. A word of warning though, most multicolored land have to come into the battlefield tapped, so you aren’t able to use them that turn.

Step 5: Keep your deck as close to 60 cards as possible. Yes, I know, the rules say you can have as many as you like over the 60 card minimum, but they advise that you stay as close to the minimum as possible for a reason. The reason is the more cards you have in your deck, the less likely you will come across them in a game. Now if your deck consists of 61, 62, or even 65 cards, no one will come and force you to go to magic kindergarten or exile you and put you in a dungeon in the land you were exiled to. You may relax and have a whimsical time with the deck you have made. If you have something in the realm of 75 or more, then you might want to start making some cuts. If you don’t, it might be real difficult to get out that awesome minotaur you built your deck around.

Step 6: Play with friends. Time to test out your final creation. See which cards you enjoy drawing, and which cards you aren’t so excited to see. Switch out what works with what doesn’t, and remember, this deck is about having fun, not about always winning. Anecdote time!


Don’t get so competitive that no one wants to play with you.

I remember this one specific moment where my friends and I were having a 4 on 4 free-for-all battle. I was using an earlier incarnation of my Angel deck. I don’t remember what decks they were using, but I do remember that they kept killing my angels. Angels, for the most part, are expensive. So I was only able to get one out per turn, and each time I did, someone else would get rid of it. After my third angel was Doom Bladed, I was frustrated and fed up.

I tapped 4 mana and slapped down the last card in my hand. I said, “Fine! If that’s how it is, then destroy all your creatures!” It was Day of Judgment and the text on the card literally says “Destroy all creatures.” Everyone was flabbergasted. None of them had seen the card before and didn’t realize that all creatures could be destroyed at once like that. The room filled with exclamations of “What the …?!” and “No way!” The card was read by each one in turn and they put all their creatures in their graveyards. I didn’t win that game, but I will always remember the look on their faces.

Now to settle the dispute of which is better, old cards or new cards. The answer is both. New cards are awesome, but don’t dismiss the older cards thinking that they are outdated. The possibilities with combining the old with the new are endless and can have awesome, weird, or just down right hilarious results. Also, good decks don’t have to cost millions, they don’t have to be filled with mythic rares, they just simply need to reflect you and how you define fun.

My goal in building decks is to build a deck that can win, but isn’t one that is to be feared. When I have a deck that is feared, I either find myself the target of everyone playing me (I usually play in group free-for-alls) or not being played against at all. My philosophy is “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s the memories you make playing.” So play on, and have fun!

(While Jason Hill excels in building fun, casual decks, he fails spectacularly at building fun, casual card houses.)

Nintendo, Sega, and the Demoralization of a Generation

Sega Genesis is the system that got me into gaming.  I was given one for Christmas when I was around 5 or 6 and it absolutely blew me away.  I still remember sitting on my Power Rangers beanbag, with my Power Rangers pajamas, playing Power Rangers on the Sega on Christmas morning at my grandparent’s house.


Astute observers will notice a copy of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 sitting next to me, but the rest of the picture still suggests I was playing Power Rangers.

Last week, whilst partaking in some craft beer, Cody and I hooked the Sega up and played through several of our favorite games.  On about the third or fourth game we began to notice a trend in almost every single one of them – they were soul crushingly difficult.

There were no save games and no checkpoints, which we have grown accustomed to over the years.  You could play all day long trying to stop Dr. Robotnik (side note: I wonder what his doctorate is in… I imagine he has a PhD in art with an emphasis in mechanical engineering), pause the game when you had to go to school or run errands with the fam, only to return and die almost immediately. When you died you see Game Over then its right back to the title screen with a snarky hedgehog smirking at you.   There was no consolation prize for getting to the final level, there was no partial credit for coming so close, you either won the game or you started at the beginning with nothing to show for it.

Over the course of the last few generations of gaming consoles the games have gotten more complex (see photo below), yet they have also gotten easier and more accessible.


Throw in at least 8 more buttons, an analog stick, and a D-Pad just to be sure.

Gameplay for systems like the Sega, Nintendo, and SNES were all based on arcade systems.  If arcade games were easy or allowed you to have checkpoints or saved games, you would spend less coinage, which cuts into the profit.  So they make their games frustratingly difficult so that you will continue to grind it out until you can finally win and, with any luck, you could input your three initials in the high score list (or just put ASS in the high score list, which was way more prevalent).


Working together to crush the spirit of 7 year olds since 1991.

Modern gaming has transitioned from that big, euphoric, payoff, which requires the player to persevere through gaming adversity to a series of smaller payouts that keep the player hooked using a reward-based system.  When you die now you either respawn if you are playing online, or you simply revert to your last saved game.  So instead of having to start back at the beginning you just have to go back a few minutes.

A clear evolution from this older arcade-based system to the modern achievement-based system can be seen with one of the forefathers of video-gaming: Mario.  The first Mario was extraordinarily difficult.  I am sure most of those who played it got really good at the first few levels, because that’s all we ever got to play.  Mario 2 was so difficult it didn’t even get released in the United States at first and Mario 3 was no walk in the park.  In Super Mario World the checkpoint system began to be implemented and instead of going all the way back to the beginning when you died, you would just have to go back to the beginning of that particular world (or wherever your last saved game was).  All of the levels were playable in Mario 64, you just had to find the right mirror to get to it, and if you died you just went back to the main area to pick another world to play without losing much progress.  The current generation is so easy that Lycan, the resident video game expert, dominates it easily at 6 years old.

It’s much easier to win now than it was then.  Instead of the enormous feeling of relief and pride you get beating Bowser for the final time and rescuing the princess, you get achievements for smaller actions, or you unlock certain abilities or additional options that weren’t available before so you still get that feeling of accomplishment without having to sacrifice your self-esteem on Mario’s altar.

Modern gaming and those old systems both have their advantages. There is something incredibly nostalgic about hooking up the Sega, pressing the power button, seeing a blank screen, turning it off and blowing the dust off the cartridge, then seeing that blue Sega logo (Seeeeeggaaaaa).  It is almost impossible to have a bad time playing those old games with friends, and if you haven’t done so recently you should go find your old system and play it (or find some friends, that would be advantageous too).

Throwback Thursday Review: Super Smash Bros.

For the first edition of Throwback Thursday I want to take a look at one of Nintendo’s most popular (and one of my favorite) series – Super Smash Bros. I cannot tell you the amount of hours I have spent playing this series, an estimate might land in the months… I would say I am not proud of that, but I am not exactly ashamed of it either. What I am saying is that Nintendo freaking nailed it, and it all started with this awesome commercial.

Remember that? I remember watching that when I was a kid and being completely engaged. What were these gaming icons doing skipping through this field? Whoa, why is Mario such a jerk (Luigi was right all along!)? I remember this commercial vividly 14 years later, so I guess their marketing director is great at his job… well done, sir.

When I was in Jr. High, I played the original Super Smash Bros. religiously after school. I would go to my friend’s house and three of us would play until we wanted to kill each other. A decade later I was in college and I played Brawl so much I am surprised the disc still worked by the end of my senior year. While other college students were studying the intricacies of the university tradition known as “beer pong,” I was Falcon Punching Jigglypuff off of Hyrule castle and introducing Mario to the cold steel of the Master Sword. Unfortunately there was a flood in Nashville the day I graduated and my Wii was murdered by floodwater.

Enter (reenter) the invincible N64. With my Wii gone and the hours spent unlocking characters destroyed with it, I dug out my old N64 and dusted it off. The first game that I found was none other than Super Smash Bros. –the original that started it all. I blew the dust out of the cartridge as is customary, fired the system up, and was Marty McFly-ed to over a decade ago.

Even after all these years I still get a kick out of playing it. Occasionally I hook it up when I have some of my friends over and it always leads to a lot of laughter and the occasional smattering of swear words.

For those that have never played it, Super Smash Bros. takes famous Nintendo characters and pits them in an entertaining battle royale mixed with some good old-fashioned King of the Hill. It’s similar to the Hunger Games minus the dystopian government and the death of children. There is not really a health bar like you find in traditional fighters. Instead, the game uses a percentage point system. Every hit increases your damage percentage, and the more damage you have the farther you fly when you are hit. Each stage “floats” in mid air and when you are knocked off you have to try to double jump back to the board. If you can’t grab the edge you lose a life and respawn at the top of the map.

When playing with newer players I generally put it on timed matches as opposed to having a finite number of lives. This ensures that newer players can continue to learn without being thrown off the map every 5 seconds.

The game also has items from other games like Mario’s hammer from Donkey Kong, the Bob-omb, turtle shells, and Pokeballs. It’s a creative way to bring additional nostalgia and mayhem to the game.

The game itself has aged as gracefully as it could. The graphics can be jarring, but that’s not why you play it. I remember when I was younger and went from my Sega Genesis to the N64 and was blown away by how “real” everything looked, but now it looks like the N64 is vomiting polygons and that’s totally okay. The control scheme is tight and easily remembered, but can be slightly confusing at first for the N00bs out there (do people still use this word? If so, should they be? I doubt it.)

If you have access to an N64 you should definitely check out this game if you have never played it. And if you haven’t played it in a while, then what are you waiting for? This is by far one of the best games of that console generation (Goldeneye was great too, but this isn’t about that so settle down), and it has held up incredibly well.

I am going to go gorge myself and play Super Smash Bros. Have a Happy Thanksgiving, Nerds.