Tag Archives: Review

Returning to the Fold: Playing Magic the Gathering’s Pre-release Hour of Devastation

9 Jul


By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

I have not played the customizable card game, Magic the Gathering (MtG) for a very long time. In the past, I enjoyed how this game played with the legends from an ancient exotic world or looked at a genre (especially horror) in new ways. The best legacy era expansion sets are Arabian Nights and The Dark. I eventually stopped playing because folks with plenty of money to buy those great cards made me feel I could not compete and I did not find the world they created for MtG all that engaging. Finding casual games at gaming stores was tough.

Also, I wanted Wizards of the Coast to offer a new Middle Eastern themed set. The legends and lore of Ancient Egypt are the most requested and everybody knew it. Twenty-three years later since the release of Arabian, this company finally delivered with Amonkhet. The subset Hour of Devestation looks great. I saw cards showing the designers were looking deep into to Kemetic lore get the mystique right. The first set only whetted many enthusiasts appetite.

Pre-release challenges at gaming stores occurred over the weekend and I thought why not, let’s jump in. I know the core game mechanics and I am playing Magic Duels. Hopefully, I will not suck going up against experienced players. At least the field is level in the sealed game-play format. I went to a store where I did not feel intimidated. Out of the four stores in town, only one looked hopeful. It was not an overstuffed operation and it smelled clean. I plan on playing again this coming weekend (July 14-17) when this expansion hits all retail outlets.

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There’s No Injustice 2 Mobile’s Improved Gameplay!

15 May

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

Warner Bros Interactive and DC Entertainment released a mobile edition of Injustice 2 (for Android and iOS) well ahead of the console edition due out May 16th, and I did not get any other work done over the weekend because of it.

The gameplay is familiar, and the story mode kept me engaged for hours, while watching Paul Dini and Bruce Timm’s Batman: The Animated Series in the background. While the Mortal Kombat / Street Fighter-like mechanics will always be awkward when played on tablet-like surfaces — tapping and swiping for to activate certain moves — but this game does something to improve the momentum of the character’s moves. I find the controls a lot more intuitive to figure out, especially when I’m the type who does not pay attention to the tutorials much.
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Powfolio Wants to Netflix Up the Comic Book World

20 Nov

DavidBy Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

Powfolio is a mobile app for iOS and Android looking to change how people look at comic books. This software has been out since early 2016 and they are making a new push to be known throughout the industry. Back in a different century, when printed versions could be found nearly everywhere, at corner stores and supermarkets, this era is distinguished by being able to find digital content very easily. While some towns may see a few supermarkets carry Archie paperbacks, to find that is very few and far between. CEO David Campiti (pictured top right) of Glass House Graphics (a talent agency / studio of artists who are hired to produce work for comic book companies like Dark Horse) fondly recalls those days when they were far more accessible. Today, the only place these rags can be found are at speciality operations.

“There was a McNamara’s drugstore right up the street from where I lived that carried almost everything, From Marvel, DC, Classics Illustrated, Gold Key, Harvey, Warren … If you name it, they had it,” recalled Campiti. “Skip forward to now, [the distribution of] comics have been shrunk down into a very niche market of 1800 shops scattered across the US. This means an entire generation of children has never held a comic book in their hands.”

As a father who delivered presentations at his young daughter’s school, talking about his job in the comic book industry, he’s seen the result of the times. In today’s digital age, he sees more children tuned to their mobiles than a paper product. As he was handing out free products (Marvel Comic’s X-Men) to the kids, he was astounded to hear one boy say, “You mean there’s a comic book too?”

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What Kind of Strange Magic Can Be Found in Doctor Strange (2016)?

4 Nov

doctor_strange_posterBy Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

Anyone who has followed Marvel Comic’s attempts to bring Doctor Strange to life will recall not only the made-for TV 1978 pilot but also the knock-off Doctor Mordrid (1992). They were made by other studios, under some guidance by the company. But when you flash forward to 2016, this definitive version by Marvel Studios will certainly bury the past and have more people swoon at the possibility of seeing Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston share the same space on the big screen sometime in the future! I can not say when, but I went into this movie thinking of this possibility minutes after the introductions and seeing just how perfect Cumberbatch is for the role.

After all the pre-requisite introductions and set up, including an explanation why Strange went to Nepal (not Tibet) which the advance preview did not reveal, I became enthralled with the real world tie-ins to books of occult lore that the good doctor had to study. In the list is, of course, the Lesser Key of Solomon. Other tomes were named, but I’m not as familiar with them and I’m by no means a sorcerer myself. In what I do know, spell casting requires a combination (or one) of verbal and somatic gestures, a detail this film gets right, and other invocations require special ingredients.

The philosophy can be considered by some occultists to be mixed up. The soul is generally regarded as eternal. Upon death, it is released from the prime material plane and is free to move on to the next emanation of life. The soul is also visible in the Astral Plane, and in traditional lore, there is a silver cord connecting it to the physical body. This type of detail is missed and not explored in the film. Too much would have detracted from the hero’s journey. Strange’s arrogance defines him for most of the first act and his faith hinges on science providing all the answers. The irony of him losing stable control of his fingers is that he looks towards experimental procedures and pseudo-science to repair the muscles in his fingers.

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