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Monday, July 18, 2011

A rebirth for Magic: The Gathering?

I don't know about you, but my friends and I haven't been playing much Friday Night Magic lately.  It's the summer, I'm not working, so naturally I should be hitting up my local store and playing every chance I get, right?

Maybe when the Angels are pretty again.

Well, no.  Because I just hate the Scars of Mirrodin block.  It took a while for me to come to this realization.  I don't like any of the flavor, the art is meh, the cards haven't excited me too much, the infect mechanic is annoying, and Jace, the Mind Sculptor was haunting Standard pretty much the entire time.  I thought I'd start playing again after he got banned, but here I am. 
 
I hate you so, so much.  Still.   
"Well, no one's making you play with Scars cards, Leslie," you might say.  True.  But I still have to play against them, and look at them.  Maybe I'm still fed up that no one uses original decks anymore.  I played a tournament recently (the first one in months) and dueled a typical goblin deck, and of course got pummeled because my deck simply wasn't as fast as a goblin deck.  I got asked the usual, "oh, this is your first time, isn't it?" and had to roll my eyes and listen to him tell me what should go in my deck.  All the things he suggested were in fact in my deck, I just never got to it because, y'know, goblin decks get the job done by turn 4 or 5.  I expected as much.  Then he said he was proud of his deck's originality, and I was confused.  He was proud because his deck wasn't one of the "Kuldotha Red" decks all over the internet, because he uses Goblin Chieftains and no artifacts.  Well, good for you, kid.  It's still just a goblin deck.  The rest of the decks of said tournament were Valakut, two Vampires, Birthing Pod (this one felt like it was original, then I went online and there are Birthing Pod decks galore), Kiln Fiend/Chandra's Spitfire burn (this one was pretty original, as far as burn decks go), and I can't remember the other two.  Mine was a white/black lifegain discard combination featuring Sangromancer (one of the few cards I like in Scars). 


I'm not sure if letting me maybe draw a card is enough of a drawback.

You might now be thinking something like, "Okay, Leslie, so you hate unoriginal decks.  We get it.  So what's this rebirth you mentioned in the title?"  Well, Innistrad, of course!  The design team looks awesome, the tagline sounds badass, and there are a lot of interesting mechanics hinted at in the 2012 core set.  Reanimating looks like it's making a comeback, same with auras and enchantments, and the tribal card is for illusion creatures.

Well, that's pretty cool.

I'm really interested to see what kind of decks people come up with.  It's always fun to play in the beginning of a set's release, because no one's found the "Super-awesome-I-always-win" deck yet. 

I should just only play limited, shouldn't I?  :P 
 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Why X-men 3 makes kittens cry

I was genuinely excited for X-men 3.  Psylocke was going to be in it, as were tons of other mutants who were badass, including Phoenix.  Had I known that they all would have a couple seconds of screentime and not actually DO anything, and that Phoenix would be totally rewritten as a character, I probably would've avoided the movie (as I did Wolverine:  Origins).

Poor kitten. 

As this movie was totally an abomination, let's go over my main annoyance with it:  The Phoenix Force.  Jean Grey as Phoenix has been viewed as either totally badass or totally annoying in the past to True Believers.  Jean Grey is dead, Jeeeeze, let her stay dead.  But there's something about some alien, death-defying phoenix out in space that can randomly possess people that is totally badass.  Why couldn't they put that in the movie?  I'm pretty sure even the girlfriends who were forced to see the movie would've comprehended it.  It would've been way cooler than, "Um, yeah, Jean has this SECOND POWER DEEP IN HER MIND, and uh, yeah, YEAH OGOD ITS AWAKENIIIIINGGG!"  Call it what you want, but a badass alien force that enters your mind and turns you evil sounds way more interesting to me. 

Sigh.  Why did they even hint at a real phoenix force at the end of X2, anyway?  Oh yeah, they changed directors.  At least Wolvie got to take her down like he always does.  Awww.


Would you rather have this?
Or this? 
And, seriously, why fatten the movie up with all these mutants that don't even DO anything?  Sure, okay, do some cameos to make us smile, but . . . not when the whole promise of the trailers and the expectation we have for the WHOLE MOVIE centers around the belief that it will be filled with MUTANTS.  Read:  mutants--not random people running around.  Psylocke was only recognizable because there was a random Asian girl with purple hair.  Hell, maybe she wasn't even Psylocke.  And then there was talk of Dazzler, Gambit, Scarlet Witch, and others, but got canned once Ratner took over the film.  The new mutants who did actually do stuff are Angel and, uh, Quill.  QUILL.  And Callisto, I guess.  Juggernaut, too.  Okay, maybe I'm just mad that Psylocke didn't do anything and there was no sexy Gambit-candy. 
I have purple hair and can teleport to places with no shadows.  Yeah, I'm Psylocke!


Also, stick to one storyline, man, don't put like ten different arcs together.  I found some of Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-men in here, Dark Phoenix Saga, and House of M.  That's just what I caught.  Those are all huge stories that on their own would've been great to see on film.  But mashing them all together just felt rushed and confusing and wrong.

This whole movie just makes me a sad panda and makes kittens cry.  Do you agree?  Disagree?  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this movie, along with the other X films.  I personally enjoyed the first two, but I haven't watched them in years.  I haven't watched Wolverine:  Origins or First Class, but I do want to give First Class a chance. 

<3  

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Marvel movies are good again?

I know, right?  I shocked myself.  After Spider-Man 3, Fantastic Four:  Rise of the Silver Surfer, and X-men 3, I was pretty much done with life.  But I think Marvel has learned from their mistakes.  No, really.  Have you seen Thor?  That was wonderful (most likely because JMS had a hand in writing it).

This probably has a lot to do with Marvel appointing Joe Quesada to their new job of "Chief Creative Officer."  I know a lot of you hate Joe, but it's about time someone from the comics-side of things makes sure people don't get too crazy and make shit up (see above three movies.  I don't wanna talk about the first Incredible Hulk movie.  It never happened).

Maybe you're confused about why I hated those movies.  Maybe you've never read comics and would like to know why the nerd community complains about aforementioned films so much.  I will help you there.

Why Spider-Man 3 was an abomination 
Or, a lesson in why completely rewriting characters with immense histories kind of pisses people off. 

1.  Gwen Stacy
For those unfamiliar with the lore, Gwen Stacy was Peter Parker's first love.  She was a science major, intelligent, and tragically died at (arguably) Peter's hands.  The Green Goblin tossed her from a bridge, and Peter tried to save her via web, but she died because of his web.  It's cool, right? 

In the film, she's a stupid model.  Literally.  Sure, she goes to college, but she's in desperate need of Peter's tutoring.  She's barely even in the film.  I have no idea why she was even there.  What did she add?  Uhh, she was pretty.  And she made Mary Jane jealous and show her true colors as a detestable character.  Oh good, so what the film did was ruin a huge character in the history of comics AND make us hate one more than we already did.  Great.  Moving on.



Teehee!  I'm, like, a model, and like...yay!

2.  Sandman
As if destroying and totally rewriting Gwen's character wasn't enough, whoever was in charge of this abomination decided to totally rewrite Sandman, too.  They kept his origin the same, so high five there, guys.  You get a cookie.  But that's where the similarities to the real Sandman end.  You may remember the loveable villain with the terminally ill daughter that also killed Uncle Ben but he loved his daughter so much that you didn't care!  I hate to break it to you, but Sandman doesn't have a daughter.  He has nothing to do with Uncle Ben.  He became a supervillain because he got pissed at his school football coach, ended up in jail for beating the guy up, and then escaped to a nuclear plant with radioactive sand, got superpowers, and decided that a life of crime would be cool.  He does second-guess being evil for a little while, which I guess could be inspiration for whatever the hell they did with him in this movie.  Or maybe they just wanted to make up shit.


I'm only evil to save my dying child!  Pity me!

3.  Venom
Is supposed to be a bad-assingly terrifying thing that gives you nightmares, not a pussy crying about losing a girlfriend and a job.

He will eat you.

4.  Black Spider-Man
Someone somewhere got confused and thought the people paying him said "Emo Spider-Man," and it ended up staying in the film, black eye-liner included.

Life is pain.
5.  Pretty much everything else
Was there anything redeeming about this movie?  Teaching children the merits of forgiveness, I guess.  And that model-girlfriends are worth fighting for, even if they're not that smart.  Let's all hug each other as Sandman blows away into the wind, tears in our eyes, all sins forgiven.  Oh, forgiveness is so beautiful!

Yeah, no.

Now, any Thor-haters out there are probably itching to point out that there were many changes made to the lore.  Okay, Thor isn't a doctor, but there was a nice nod given to that.  He was Donald Blake for some of the movie, and you know it made you smile.  Much of the Thor comics nowadays deal with Thor knowing he's a God, so why take that away?  Also, Jane being a physicist instead of a nurse is a welcome change because, yknow, women can be physicists now.  The changes aren't drastic, totally-made-up-out-of-left-field changes, like giving someone a random terminally ill daughter and inserting him into another character's origin story just so you can rant about forgiveness.  Ehem.  



Stay tuned for my next posts on why Fantastic Four: RotSS and X-men 3 were also utter abominations.

<3!



(The hilarious emo .gif was taken lovingly from here).  

Monday, June 20, 2011

I can finally play Magic again!

YES THEY'RE BANNED.  Ehem.  Sorry.  I'm just a little crazy from hearing jubilant choruses of angels singing in my brain ever since I heard the news that Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Stoneforge Mystic have been banned from Standard play in Magic:  The Gathering. 

Why am I so excited about this to the point that I might be going crazy?  Because I haven't played Friday Night Magic for months.  Why?  Because everybody had effing Jace, the Mind Sculptor, or a stupid Caw-blade deck, and I was tired of it.  The notion that everyone plays the same decks now just kills what I like about the game--creativity.  I've had to deal with Jace's stupid face for almost a whole year.

I bet you're pissed you spent $100 on this now.

It wasn't so bad at first.  Jace was crazy expensive, so there were still many people not playing him.  I could deal with the 3 boring JMS decks during Friday nights.

And then came the Scars of Mirrodin block.  Fuck.

>_>
Trolls everywhere began rubbing their chins whilst looking at the poorly underrated Stoneforge Mystic and exclaiming, "Aha, wizards!  We've got you!  You have now given us something to tutor!  Meemeemeeeh!"  And, really, getting Argentum armor out on turn 3 is kind of terrifying, especially if you had a Kor Outfitter handy to equip it on turn 4.  It didn't happen all the time, so it was all right.
 I hate you.

Okay, so standard was getting pretty annoying about now.  Just about everyone had some sort of Stoneforge Mystic deck or a deck with Jace-face.  Kuldotha Red was getting annoying, too, but that stopped for whatever reason.  

Probably because of this.

Batterskull.  Seriously, fuck you.  Now all the Caw-blade idiots had yet another nice shiny to tutor out on the cheap.  I was worried Puresteel Paladin would only make matters worse, but that's what's really infuriating about Caw-Blade decks--they weren't equipment decks.  Their sole purpose was to get out one of their two fancy equipment cards with Stoneforge Mystic and then beat you to death with it equipped to a silly bird.  And it worked, because all their other cards were to prevent you from doing anything about it, Jace included.  Creativity?  Yeah, dead.

And why is creativity dead?  The internet, and people who don't play the game for fun.  The internet allows deck lists to be shared with the whole world, and greedy bastards who just want to win money eat that shit up and all make the "winning" deck.  I don't think I've seen a creative deck ever since Scars of Mirrodin came out.  Thankfully, Wizards have noticed and have expressed that they desire the game to be what it once was.


So I'm extremely excited, because now I can play Magic again and not feel my soul die as I play ten people with the same deck.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pottermore zomgz!

I know, I know.  I'm also tired of seeing all the crazy posts about "Pottermore," JK Rowling's new (but still secret) project.  I'm really hoping it's an MMORPG and not some silly new social networking thing.  A Harry Potter MMORPG would be awesome, especially if Rowling is directly involved with the story and questlines!  And you know you want thestral mounts.  I know I do.   

I'll take this as my starting character.

The most annoying thing for me about MMORPGS has been the fact that their stories usually go dry after the starting area.  There are always exceptions, but the main goal is getting to the level cap, and  when the game inevitably turns into a job where I hate my coworkers I finally have time to realize that I completely missed the story.  But with a real author that has lots of lore already under her belt, I think this can be -ehem- magical.

If not, there's always the upcoming Star Wars MMORPG.  That should make me happy.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

See, girls can kick your ass in Magic: The Gathering.

Behold!  http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtg%2Fdaily%2Feventcoverage%2Fptnag11%2FfeatureCar

I play Magic, and I've played at three different shops.  Of all of them, there were usually never any females besides me and whatever friends I brought along.  I say usually, because sometimes guys brought their girlfriends or Moms to play, but those women never came back.

Each shop I start at, there's always a ruckus about me being female.  Always.  It's a mixture of "Holy-shit-it's-a-chick" and "Haha-she'll-be-an-easy-win."  That second statement doesn't stick around for long, though.  After playing at my current shops (I fluctuate between two) for a while, the regulars finally treat me like "one of the guys," but new guys still give me the "Holy-shit-it's-a-girl" looks.  If you find yourself in a similar situation, just go with it.  Men like this will underestimate you, which gives you the advantage.  It always makes winning feel way better. 

 I call her "Grissa" instead of Glissa.  Say it like you're in South Park.

Frankly, even though it gives me an advantage and makes victory taste better, I'm tired of the "girls can't be geeks/nerds" thing.  What, our minds can't fathom complex rules and strategy found in Magic and other games?  Get over it. We just aren't typically exposed to games like Magic; I didn't even know Magic existed until my boyfriend introduced it to me.  I quickly fell in love with the game, and I don't have to have him around in order to enjoy it.

Now that a woman has made it to the Pro-Tour, hopefully it'll be less of a shocker to men at our local game shops that, hey, we exist, and we'll kick your ass.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

My Trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

First off, ignore everyone who tells you not to go because the place is "way too crowded."

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios (Harry Potter land from now on) has been open for over a year now, and the crowds have really calmed down.  I have friends who visited Harry Potter land the first month it opened and heard horror stories of huge lines just to enter gift shops, two-hour lines for rides, etc.  It sounded horrible.  When I finally announced plans for my trip in May, I heard a lot of "OMG YOU WILL HAVE HORRIBLE TIME121!!!one!" from friends.

I'm glad I ignored them.  The lines were tolerable, shops were a wee bit crowded, but it's friggin' HARRY POTTER LAND.  Of course it's going to be filled with people!


Doesn't it look badass?  It is.

My trip was in the middle of May, and I went to Universal Studios for three days.  For those of you planning a trip to see Harry Potter land, know that it is very small.  You need no more than a 2-day ticket to experience everything Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure have to offer.  Also, do not go on a weekend.  Lines for rides were pretty small on Tuesday and Wednesday, but by Thursday there was a noticeable increase in traffic and lines.   

The Harry Potter park itself is best experienced with fellow Harry Potter nerds.  My friend and I took our boyfriends and had to make them go away at times.  We wanted to savor everything, especially the shops, because the park is gorgeous.  There's such depth and attention to detail--Moaning Myrtle talks in the restroom.  However, there are only three rides and not much else for people who aren't fans of Harry Potter.  Our boyfriends quickly got bored while my friend and I were still squeeing about every little detail.  Definitely best experienced with true fans.


Sweet Baby Jesus it's Hogwarts.

As for the rides, I'm sure you've heard rave reviews of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.  The line for this ride is much longer than the others, but you simply have to do it.  The line takes you through various rooms of Hogwarts, which makes the line itself just as enjoyable as if it were also a ride.  There's talking portraits, Dumbledore's office, and the Defense against the Dark Arts classroom.  All of it was amazing and I squealed a lot.  I wish there was more Hogwarts to explore!

 Dumbledore's Office!  There was a 3D Dumbledore talking to us as we waited, and he was pretty realistic :D

  Ah, the Pensieve.  It's a good thing there wasn't water in it...

The ride itself was awesome.  I had my mouth open in delight throughout most of it.  It's a lot like the Spider-man 3D ride, but, y'know, Harry Potter.  You fly around, which felt very real, but most of the ride takes place in the Forbidden Forest with giant spiders spitting at you and dementors trying to suck out your soul.  I'm kind of a chicken, so I spent those portions with my eyes closed.  Unfortunately, as the wait for this ride was about forty-five minutes to an hour on a good day, I wasn't able to ride it again in order to try to actually experience the whole ride.
Take me with you! 

The other two rides were a super intense roller coaster and a children's ride that I didn't get to experience.  The coaster, formerly titled "Dueling Dragons" before being Potter-fied, was awesome.  We rode it twice, and both times my hair was frozen in a wind-blown state after the ride ended.  Since I'm pretty small (only 5'2"!), I generally can't take roller coasters.  They throw my head around too much because they're made for bigger people than me (I have no idea how small kids can stand it!).  However, this ride was very comfortable and enjoyable for me.  This and Revenge of the Mummy were my favorite roller coasters of all Universal Studios!  And a note for smaller women like me who don't like getting your heads tossed around like floppy pillows:  Do NOT ride the Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster.  I nearly cried because of much I was tossed around in my seat.
Ollivander!  <3

Ollivander's.  You simply have to see the small show in Ollivander's if you're a huge fan, or if you have children.  The line looks terrifyingly long, but it took about twenty minutes for me and was totally worth it.  However, I was actually chosen to take part in the show, so I have no idea if it's really worth it for onlookers.  I assume it is.  The show itself is a reproduction of the wand choosing scene from the first Harry Potter film.  Ollivander chooses someone from the audience to be chosen by a wand.  In most cases this is a small child, which irritates me.  Small children generally aren't big fans of Harry Potter, so why should they get this awesome experience that I've wanted since I was eleven?  Well, lucky for me I LOOK like a small child, so Ollivander chose twenty-one-year-old me!  I nearly died on the spot.  No, really, I was  shaking.  I knew it was all fake, but it was still epic.   Anyway, it goes just like the movie:  you "cast" spells and stuff happens.  When my wand finally chose me, cold air blew at me and lights changed and stuff.  I've read blogs and articles about the wand that chooses you being free, but it's not anymore.  There may be a discount, but I didn't look into it.  Besides, there's nothing really special about the wands in Ollivander's except that the box is dusty.  You can buy the exact same wands in any of the shops, and the character-based wands are way more awesome, anyway (I bought Narcissa Malfoy's wand instead).

   Zonko's was pretty lame, but looked awesome, so I forgive.

All of the shops have awesome decor and are worth a walk through, but generally sell all the same things.  The chocolate frogs at Honeydukes are $10, but huge and come with a card.  I bought two and got Godric Gryffindor and Helga Hufflepuff!  I think they're pretty tasty, but nothing mind-meltingly awesome.  All the best t-shirts are at Filch's Emporium (the shop at the end of the Forbidden Journey).  I was sad that class robes were $100, but the staff were totally okay with me trying on robes and taking pictures with them on, and many people were doing the same!

The Three Broomsticks was pretty meh for me.  I don't really like the "wholesome" kind of food, but it's a great option for people wanting something that is real food and not just hotdogs and burgers.  Actually, the food was a lot like the food you get at Medieval Times.  But even if you just get some butter beers and a small side dish, you need to go in the Three Broomsticks.  It's awesome!  Also, like you've probably heard a million times, I definitely recommend the frozen butterbeer.  It lasts a lot longer than the non-frozen one, and tastes like a frozen Dr. Pepper slushie with a shit-ton of sugar and a toffee/caramel-y splash.  It was so awesome that I bought two.  You really taste the sugar, though; it hits you like a truck.  So keep that in mind if you're not much on sweets. 

One of the shops.  See, I told you they were cool.


Well, that's it on my ridiculously long article about my adventures in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Please ask any questions about stuff I forgot, tell me about your own experience, geek out with me about Harry Potter, whatevs.