Friday, March 30, 2012

Star Trek: Dream Crew Bios

A few months ago, I did a blog series on my Star Trek Dream Crew (here and here). Then, at Skiltao's suggestion, I did a bit on my least favorite crew to act as a foil for them, even going so far as to do write ups for this evil, bizarro crew (Pt 1 & Pt 2). I've finally decided to write down the bios for the "good" crew.

The crew are non-Federation, with some conflict in the past having recently forged a trivial stellar nation with a handful of second-class vessels to undertake border defense, official transportation, keeping order, and exploration. Caretaker is a second-hand Star Fleet Nebula class vessel.

CO: CAPT Chakotay (post-Voyager)
XO/Science: CDR Nyota Uhura (post-TOS)
Ops: LCDR Natasha Yar (post-TNG, didn’t die)
Tactical: LCDR Tuvok (pre-Voyager)
Engineering: LT Scott (pre-TOS)
Medical: LT Katherine Pulaski (pre-TNG)
Conn: ENS Ro Laren (pre-Maquis)
Other: Elim Garak (pre-DS9)

Chakotay's long fight for independence didn't go unrewarded. His nascent Star Fleet training and time on the front-lines make him an excellent commander, though he's wary of the intentions of the new government. He isn't sure if the back room deals and moral compromises are necessary evils or signs that opportunists have hijacked his dream. His position as captain forces him to hide his doubts in front of his crew.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Linkstorm: The Kids Are All Screwed

Scientists say we need to change things now to save civilization. Ah well, I'll be dead by then and won't have any kids to worry about. Have fun you and yours.

Here's a list of 100 people who would murder their own children if they were gay. Enjoy that.

Monday, March 26, 2012

It's the Magic: Standard Tour of San Antonio - Dragon's Lair FNM

While the internet is full of ways to find game stores in your area, it does very little to tell you about the real character of those stores: their atmosphere, their product, their staff, or anything else a curious gamer might want to know. To help others out, I've started a week-by-week survey of the stores in my area, playing a Friday Night Magic at each one as a way of familiarizing myself with it.

Last week, I started talking about Dragon's Lair, its intimate atmosphere, and its dazzling array of comics and games. I ran out of time, but this week I'm finishing up with a description of its Friday Night Magic.

I was running late, but there was still time to sign up for the event. It took the last $5 of cash I had on-hand and I forgot my DCI number, but the staff offered to look up my number and answered all of my questions about the timing, the seats, and how things were generally organized.

Round 1
I was placed opposite a guy named Josh, because it's always a Josh. He had a ramp deck that put lands into play faster than I could, so he dropped massive titans onto the board before I could  respond to them. I managed to push him back with a Rolling Tremblor after landing my first mountain on turn six or so. But it only lasted for a turn, and after that turn he attacked hard enough to kill me. I stabilized once in the second game, bringing enough vampires out to threaten him, but I was met with a Black Sun's Zenith, a nice bit of removal that swept my little dudes from the skies.
For the toughest stains.

Josh was nice and polite. Our two games ended before the time limit for the round was up so we got to talk a bit. He was proud of all the money that he and his friends put into their decks. He said that he was sorry that he was my first opponent for a FNM, as he considered himself one of the better of the regular players. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday Morning Soapbox: Why You Should Probably Give to Charity

In 2006 and 2007, Marvel Comics' event of choice was Civil War. It was a mess, with Tony Stark being a dick and Captain America trying to punch out legislation because the tactical genius who embodies American democracy couldn't think of a better way to overturn a law he didn't like. Like most events, a few unmissed characters died, important characters have since had their mean behavior explained away (extremis), and no one really talks much about it anymore.

We were promised an even-handed version of post-9/11 America, and got...well, a comic book treatise on post-9/11 America, with all of the subtlety that implies. We got a few words from 40-something white guys on how important standing up for freedom is, even when it's really, really hard and Captain America gave his dumbest speech since I started reading comics:
"Do not check yourself; wreck yourself."

In the end, Captain America gave up because the people (five "the people," technically) were against him and jesus, he didn't want his principled, uncompromising struggle to actually hurt anyone, especially anyone that wasn't Tony Stark's smug, bastard face.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Stopping Kony

You guys have heard about this by now. There's a 30 minute video that dramatically states the terrible things Joseph Kony has done and the importance of stopping him this year. The campaign is called Kony 2012, and it has garnered a lot of excitement on the internet. I didn't have enough time to cynically complete a countdown to the nay-saying push back before it kicked in. Maybe I'm an optimist.

There are a lot of reasons people cite as to why we shouldn't worry about Joseph Kony:

Monday, March 19, 2012

It's the Magic: Standard Tour of San Antonio - Dragon's Lair

Just moved up to San Antonio from Louisiana a few weeks ago. The place I lived didn't have any game stores, so having not just one, but three game stores within driving distance of my house is a whole new experience.

While the internet is full of ways to find game stores in your area, it does very little to tell you about the real character of those stores: their atmosphere, their product, their staff, or anything else a curious gamer might want to know. To help others out, I've started a week-by-week survey of the stores in my area, playing a Friday Night Magic at each one as a way of familiarizing myself with it.

At 7959 Fredericksburg Road, you can find the Dragon's Lair. It's a great place for both comics and gaming. Better yet, it's in the same shopping center as an Einstein Bros Bagels. 

I know; it sounds perfect.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Massive Mass Effect Week: Simply the Best

I said a lot of nasty things about Mass Effect yesterday. I stand by those things (even the ones I had to look up), but I wouldn't have devoted five days to a video game trilogy I've only played 1.5 games of if I didn't think it was the best damned game out there right now.

Okay, one of the best games out there (I forgot how good Fallout 3 is. Also...Portal? How do you even compare that?). None the less, if Mass Effect isn't the best, it's one intelligently-placed bomb away from being the best. Is it perfect? No. But if it wasn't so great, no one would care about it, its warts, or its ending.

The best thing Mass Effect has going for it are its characters and the relationships you have with them. You guys know I love Mordin Solus by now and that Garrus is my bro. You may have picked up on the fact that I'd leave Chief Ashley Williams to die on Virmire twice if I could. Even when you hate them, you hate them for being believable, consistent people, consistent enough that every conversation with them rekindles that fire of loathing. I was yelling at Josh just this week over how he'd let Mordin die in one of his ME2 games because Mordin is awesome! I ask Garrus about his calibrations every time I come on board the Normany in ME2 because I wanna see how he's doing. The characters in Mass Effect engender feeling in me, which sets it apart from almost any game at all which failed to engender more than hate for an exposition character in me.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Massive Mass Effect Week: Nerding Out

As much as I love Mass Effect, there are some serious flaws with it. Sexism, racism, thematic inconsistencies, grinding, and the morality system all periodically mar my enjoyment of just gettin' missions, shootin' dudes, and leaving Ash Williams to die.

In some respects, it's intellectually difficult to bring up The Asari as an example of sexism. With only one gender, you can't really call them "female," but they' can see...

Granted, there are fewer questions to be raised about Asari gender roles than about the evolution of a race designed to breed with species from other planets. A species which is completely hairless, but still mammalian enough that most of their members possess what I can only describe with my limited experience as "rockin' tits." Even though few to no Asari are ever portrayed as victims, many of them work in the contextually respectable fields of table-dancing-as-implied-stripping and consorting-as-implied-prostitution.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Massive Mass Effect Week: Gaaaaaaaaay

I mentioned Monday how high the expectations for Mass Effect 3 are. The quality of its predecessors poses a challenge for the series' third installment, not just to carry the torch forward  or raise the stakes, but to cap all the details and plot threads of a game that's known for its nearly-inexhaustible supply of detail and dozens of responsive, interwoven plot threads.

I'm often careful about not creating too many expectations about things. If The Avengers is great, that's fine. I'm not anticipating "that scene between The Black Widow and The Hulk" or "the reveal of the alien menace." I'll experience these things in time. I don't need to go hoping for my perfect Hulk/Black Widow scene that Joss Whedon would never want, think, or choose to make. I will rip on how much better it could have been and/or write fan fiction about it later, but I'll give the vetted creative professional first swing at it.

So I had no expectations of Mass Effect 3 until I heard male Shepard could have a relationship with a guy in ME3. And it was a dudes-only guy. This was a teaser that engaged me and I wanted to know who the other man would be. If it was a new character, I couldn't really speculate and my engagement ended. If it was an old character, though, I could go wild. It couldn't be a character that was available to femshep in a previous installment (sadly, no Garrus). I never explored romantic options in ME, though I maintained healthy bromances with Garrus and Mordin whenever possible. I floated the possibility of Mordin past my boyfriend, and he countered with a jaw-dropping surprise: Joker.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Massive Mass Effect Week: Talk Like a Renegade

The Citadel
Shiara: “Appeal to his honor as a soldier. Remind him he used to be a general.”
Horum Shepard: “Hey, don’t tell me how to talk soldier to soldier, and I won’t tell you how to pleasure men for money.
                                                     …not that I couldn’t give you a few pointers.”
Ashley Williams: “Nice lake. Think anyone ever drowned in it?”
Horum Shepard: “….what’s wrong with you!?”
Horum Shepard: "Wait. I can't move! This elevator's a trap! Everyone, draw your weapons!"
Tali: "Have I ever told you about my life as a space pariah?"
Horum Shepard: "Worse! It's character development! Everyone, run away!"
Ambassador Udina: “…jeopardizes your entry into The Spectres…”
Horum Shepard: “Don’t care.”
Horum Shepard: “Straighten up general.”
General Oraka: “She deserves it. I’ll go to her…after a cold shower or two.”
Horum Shepard: “Sounds good. Also…eeeeuuggghh!”
Acolyte: “My brother’s part of The Alliance back home!”
Horum Shepard: “And you’re a prostitute on The Citadel. How's Christmas? Awkward?”

Monday, March 12, 2012

Massive Mass Effect Week: Meeting Expectations

When I first played Mass Effect 1, I soaked up everything: read the codex every time it updated, examined planetary write-ups, and hit every point I could on my dialog wheel. The universe was surprisingly deep, even if some of the dialog ended up coming off as campy.

The characters built in it were great. The members of your squad came off as different people, even disregarding their powers. Garrus is sullen and dissatisfied with the failure of law to ensure justice. Tali is dealing with her people's status as the pariahs of the galaxy. The game focused on humans getting used to being part of an interstellar community, and the interstellar community trying to discern a real threat from the human race's background level of belligerent, self-important bitching about their status.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Linkstorm: Big Wins for Order, but Just for Order

Since Massive Mass Effect Week is starting tomorrow, and all my links will be out of date by next week. This is getting done on Monday.

Some of Anonymous got caught by the FBI lately after one of their own members flipped. In addition, wikileaks' activities have lost it a lot of friends.

In a similar vein:

I'm sure the sound jammer is something Putin, or--y'know, anyone who would rather silence the people they don't want to hear--would want right now.

Friday, March 09, 2012

It's the Magic: Standardized

New Hotness
The guy I'm currently seeing doesn't know much about Magic, but did express an interest in playing. So last week, before driving up to Austin to see him, I made a pair of well-matched beginner decks. I could have gone for starter decks, but opted for something more interactive.

Fight on Delivery - With plenty of massive, vanilla creatures and a fistful of X-cost removal spells in the form of Fireball, Savage Twister, and Windstorm, it manages to hit hard and leave a mark while still not doing anything more complicated than Borborygmos' triggered ability.

And a few combat tricks.

Life and After - Smaller, creatures, mostly humans and spirits wield basic equipment and swing in versus locked down defenders. It's more technical than its opponent, with triggered abilities and counterspells, and in a testament to the difficulty of balancing decks like these, it's managed to lose a balance of the games.

This guy hasn't seen a battlefield since before it was called a battlefield.

But overall, they worked. He picked up the game rather quickly and was eager to play more. So, if I can play Magic on dates, that makes them the best decks ever.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Blog in Exactly 1000 Words: Tolerance

Sorry for the sketchy updates this week. Things are weird. I've got legit content in the chamber.

Maybe next week.

Friday, March 02, 2012

It's the Magic: Drafting Dark Ascension

So, I'm living with two other people who play Magic. It's good times because I can occasionally do a draft. If you have seven friends who play Magic and haven't killed yet, kill your friends.

This week's draft was straight Dark Ascension. Technically, it's supposed to be a pack of Dark Ascension plus a pair of Innistrad packs, but we went straight up DA. Katie drafted a White/Green/Blue deck I call 3-Geist, Terry drafted the White/Blue Increasing Spirit, and I cleaned up the Black and Red, adding a splash of Blue in Grixistrad.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Videos from Home

I promise that if I show you adorable video of Terry's baby learning how to retrieve Nerf darts:

I'll also show you videos of explosions.