Tag Archives: Review

[Seattle, WA] Sandy’s ACE Comic Con Journal — Was it … ?

28 Jun

By Sandy Sheehan

It seemed like forever for ACE Comic Con Seattle to arrive, but arrive it did. I drove from Spokane, Washington to this city on Friday morning, unaware that my VIP seat assignment was determined by my check-in time rather than by when I purchased the package or stood in line before the panel. It started on Thursday. Needless to say, I was much further back than I thought. VIP seating was also only good for two of the Marvel Entertainment panels.

I am no stranger to conventions and have been to a variety, from Creation Conventions (Star Trek: The Next Generation and more recently Supernatural), city-specific shows such as Mid South Con in Memphis (where I used to live) and more recently Lilac City Comicon (Spokane) and Anglicon (Seattle). I even went to things that would be hard pressed to be called conventions, such as answering phones for the Arkansas PBS station where Jon Pertwee (3rd Doctor from Doctor Who) spoke to the volunteers as well as Paul Darrow (Blake’s 7). ACE was by far the largest one I have attended.

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Returning to the Fold: MtG Arena & Hopes Before the Apr 26th Update

25 Apr

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Magic the Gathering: Arena is Wizards of the Coast‘s next digital iteration of Stainless Games’ Magic Duels. They have taken over development and have created a glitzier version which I appreciate. This update sports a new engine to allow for easier integration of new cards (and perhaps old too) when this product comes out of Beta testing. This change may happen very soon. On March 26th, new features will open up and Dominaria is being added. I am more excited to play this new set more so than owning the cards.

I played this set during the prerelease weekend and did better than expected. The practice I got in with the video game helped me win a few games than be smeared. WotC’s goal to bridge the two formats worked. Soon, I can ditch Duels in favour of Arena once the testing tag is removed. I may still continue to show up at some local game store events, but I feel like I’m done “paying” to play. As long as Arena has a mode for casuals, I will be sold on this new product. I have far too many hobbies where I sink just as much money into, and those I’m not too deep into will have to go. Daily quests for coin rewards are far more appealing to take on. Packs of cards now have wild cards that can be exchanged for specifics pieces. This feature is terrific, such that nailing any card is possible. To do this for the physical game means spending a lot of money for multiples of a killer card.

In the Beta product, this product focuses on player vs player battles. Coming changes include “best of one” events (no clearer definition is offered in the press release), an improvement in how to earn currency and added features. I am hoping narrative elements (much like in Duels for starting players) will be included, and perhaps also a test mode for experimental decks. Playing against opponents around the world is enjoyable, but I want a space where wins and losses are not recorded under DCI league. Supposedly, this feature is available in Magic Online; however, this iteration is as old as the Commodore PET displayed at the Royal BC Museum — it’s not a user-friendly system.

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The Vintage Tempest’s First Days with Star Wars: Legion

11 Apr

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

Fantasy Flight Games has a new miniature battle game for Star Wars fans to enjoy. Legion is different from Armada such that players are commanding soldiers than spaceships. The rules are the same; the dice are different coloured and length of time to play better than the space-faring cousin. It’s possible to play short skirmishes. I went to a demo at my nearby game store to get my Jedi on and instead went Sith!

I am impressed with the plastic figures which come in the base set. Vader and Luke command their respective forces, and the bits include barriers for the Stormtroopers or Rebel Forces to hide behind. With no surprise, since laser blasts are guided by the roll of an eight-sided dice, neither can hit the broad side of a barn. The rules are nice and simple. Those who have played Armada know how this game works. Combat moves fast.

As for how much larger these battles can get will depend on expansion products offered. Prop packs to recreate battles on other planets exist, and for the adventurous modeler, Mos Eisley can be recreated.

With only two major factions offered in the main box, the enjoyability comes in how many times can Vader lay the smack down on Luke. I normally side with the forces of good, but to know how powerful Vader is requires looking at this character translates into gaming. The abilities are by no means unique. For Vader, he has “Master of the Force,” which means one of the upgrade cards can be ready for use. Luke has “Jump.” Since both are Force users, they have “Immune: Pierce” to sidestep certain attacks and “Deflect” since they have lightsabers to bounce laser blasts.

This game is no different from the augmented reality cousin, “Trials of Leadership” in Star Wars: Jedi Challenge. The electronic version has you pointing your wand (lightsaber) to direct forces to strategic points to defeat the opponent. The miniatures have a lot of rules to consider and it is more turn-based to decide the outcome of the game. I enjoy this physical version more for the simple reason that calibration for the said stick is always fickle and the click from this stick feels off when compared to using measuring sticks to find out how far a team can go in the battlefield.

This game has potential when expansions come out. I’m looking forward to Hoth (Empire Strikes Back) and seeing AT-ATs enter the field. In the items offered now, the smaller AT-ST and RTs are available.

In what is available now, it’s possible to simulate the land fight from the Battle of Endor. No Ewoks are available yet, and as for whether Fantasy Flight Games will include them, fans will have to wait and see. Inevitable sets will include the Separatist Droid army commanded by Dooku, the Clone Troopers with Yoda and the First Order with either Kylo Ren; General Hux; Captain Phasma in command. The latter can be fun and perhaps this time, Phasma will not get her butt kicked. She is an embarrassment in the films.

For diehards, I can imagine a multi-table setup where players move from infantry battles to get to a waiting cruiser, and whoever captures that, moves on to a space-based fight in Armada. To play this sequence can be epic. However, to have all the miniatures needed to recreate it is a pricey investment. I’m sure the rules can be adapted so fans of LEGO Star Wars (the scale is almost the same) can use minifigs. It may be cheaper than buying Fantasy Flight’s products, and at least for me, it can be more fun than playing another TT Games licensed product.

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

9 Jul

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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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