SpartanNerd…Catching Up…

Has it really been three years since I posted anything?

This means that throughout Corona…throughout the last several MTG releases…Throughout the ending of MOTUC and the new Masters of the Universe lines that have come out. I have written zilch.

Well, it isn’t because I stopped being nerdy. Believe it or not, online teaching and also attending classes took all of my energy out for this project.

So here’s a few new things that have happened.

Masters of the Universe.– As the Classics line ended, I began to realize I just didn’t have enough space anymore. MOTUC items are pretty large. And I got lots of joy especially from my He-Man and Battlecat and also Skeletor and Panthor. But also the Griffin was one of my favorites. Vikor. But some of the others…I decided I could part with them. And then I decided when I saw the price I could fetch to go ahead and sell my core items. All I have left is Vikor and my custom Battleground Teela. I sold it all in May 2020. For $600. I use that money to re-invest in MOTU Mega Construx. I have the Castle Grayskull and basically every item they have released in that line. A downsize in square footage, it is easier to get these just by walking into a store. There are other advantages.

Sorry about the backdrop-less pic. This is a very large item. Kitchen table will have to do.

I decided early on that the MOTU Origins figures look too crappy…I don’t like the colors. And the Masterverse figures on first reveal, I thought “That He-Man looks “gutsy.” Meaning, the way the belt is that pale color yellow, it blends in too well with He-Man’s skin color on his belly. It looks like he has a gut. The other figures, the one that came out with the new CGI Anime line, do not appeal to me at all. I hear fans (Scott Neitlich) accepting what is going on apologetically, that this line is meant to appeal to the kids. But kids just don’t watch the cartoons anymore. Trust me. I know. Middle school teacher. So they are messing around with beloved source material and creating something “corrupt.”

I have picked up some of the MOTU Minis, and the Hot Wheels.

Magic the Gathering- For something that took up so much of my life and my children’s time, this has become a much rarer treat. Since the COVID-19 lockdowns, there haven’t been as many tournaments. We pretty much decided that SpellTable pretty much stinks. Arena isn’t a strong alternative. Now some tournaments have returned, but we have to drive a long way to get to them. Mostly these are Commander League events. And we haven’t really paid into the leagues on account we can’t reliably attend. Just the same, we have played EDH some. But the thrill of the old Modern tournaments is gone. I have done a few drafts and sealed. But it is doubtful that we will go and draft Double Masters II this weekend. That is $50 or more. To play maybe three rounds. Which I will have to drive a distance to get to … meaning I can’t stay out late in my old age driving home sleepy.

Oh yes…Secret Lair. At first I bought it all. I bought the super bundle…the one with the cats and the goblins. The Walking Dead. After awhile, I realized that this isn’t sustainable for me. They have churned out so many Secret Lairs, each with an enticing value usually, but then if you start adding all that up, you better be rich if you are a completist. I figure the Wizards/Hasbro weren’t achieving their bread and butter anymore on packs because people stopped playing. And Commander is so popular, but you can play virtually any cards you can find competitively even, that they had to capitalize on that crowd the best they could by dangling lots of shiny, pretty, artsy, and seemingly charitable carrots in front of them. So I certainly had to start pacing myself on this one. The last one I got was the Dracula one. I got my kid the pixel art lands. These things…they take forever to arrive. All the shipping delays and production delays that have plagued the past couple of years…Which brings me to the next big one.

Playstation 5. I got the money together for this…in fact some of the money from my MOTUC collection, plus some gifts, etc. I had the funds in hand right before Christmas 2020. And went to buy it, only to find…THERE WERE NONE. ANYWHERE. When did I finally get mine? OCTOBER 2021. Used! I am grateful…it has performed like a champ! You wouldn’t know. It didn’t come with a proper stand, so I had to get a third party one, which was supposed to charge the controllers and add extra fan-power. But none of that seems to be working. Still, it stands very well. The best two games for me have been Horizon: Zero Dawn, Horizon: Forbidden West, and Gran Tourismo. But I have lots more games. Spider-Man, Terraria, Mortal Kombat. I paid for the streaming services, but haven’t hardly used them…which brings me to

DISNEY+. Since this launched, I bundled with HULU (Which I already watched) and this has been what I have watched on TV. I have hung on to NetFlix for Stranger Things and Masters of the Universe: Revelation. (More on that on a different day.). The Mandalorian has been a terrific show! Obi Wan was pretty good. The Book of Boba Fett might as well have been season 3 of the Mandalorian. I haven’t watched anything else much on the service, though.

Comics- I have moved back into collecting these. I picked up IDW’s “Best of” TMNT books. I am looking to get a frame to display them in.

I have been collecting all of the IDW Transformers books…this was actually how I got back into collecting comics. IDW decided to reboot the franchise, and I felt it was a good “jumping in” place. Highlights of this have been “Shattered Glass” and “King Grimlock.” The main story kind of meandered a little bit. I was introduced to a bunch of characters I didn’t know or had forgotten. I also got into “Beast Wars”… which was admittedly NOT MY CARTOON. Unfortunately, IDW passed on the license, and all of these stories have come to a wrap up, which has seemed very rushed. But my love of getting the covers and important/valuable books has become rooted again. I collected up all of the “Batman/Catwoman” story, got back into Spider-Man and Ghost Rider. But I have dropped DC for the most part. In fact, almost everything they have been publishing in any form is tripe that panders to anyone except the classic fan. I thought “The Batman” was a much slower slog than it needed to be. My next problem is the amount of room this hobby is taking up…

Gundam- I built my first Master Grade…EW EPYON. I am still applying decals. But this has been a terrific project! I eill post pictures when I finish.

It is good to be coming back to the blogosphere…an I hope to have a review tomorrow!

Pokemon Square Off…..Fennekin vs. Froakie

I’ll admit now that my knowledge of Pokemon is sort of limited.  I have been playing the TCG with my boys for about two years…I have a humble collection.  It all fits in one little tin.  

Prior to that there was a cartoon on, of course, and then there was the video games.  I didn’t care for the original game, which I had on my Gameboy Color way back in the day…I think the cartoon is a bit cutesy…And we saw a movie about MewTwo, which made the then five year old SpartanSmurf #1 cry it was so emotional.

So if if I seem a little off on these reviews, excuse me!  Also, readers should note that there are no sanctioned Pokemon TCG tournaments within a hundred miles of where we live…So we usually just play casual, where anything goes…irregardless of what would be legal in a tournament.  )I do not think either of these decks would hold up in a serious tournament anyway)

My two children recently got these two decks.  You can read my unboxing reviews here and here!  They matched a two out of three, and here was the results!

SpartanSmurf #1 wins coin toss
The new rules say if you go first, you can’t attack first on that turn
The basic Pokemon out, Fennekin on SpartanSmurf #2, Froakie on SpartanSmurf #1 Honage and Farfetch’d on the bench.
SpartanSmurf #1 plays Tierno, kind of like Cheren…(You get to draw three cards)
Fenekin gets the first attack in, with Scratch.  This requires only one Fire energy.
SpartanSmurf #1 gets the first evolution….His Froakie becomes Frogadier.  He uses “Water Dripping” Which requires only a water energy.  Fennekin is weak to water.
Live Coal from Fennekin to Frogadier….a two energy attack.
SpartanSmurf #1 Aqua Waves…..Knocking out Fennekin.  (Not surprising)  That required two water and one other.
SpartanSmurf #2 does nothing.
SpartanSmurf #1 Aqua Waves again, knocking out Pansear
SpartanSmurf #2 plays Furfrou, and attacks with Tight Jaw, which paralyzes Fogadier.  This buys some time for SpartanSmurf #2.
SpartanSmurf #2 Sharp Fangs Frogadier for 50, a three energy attack, which knocks out Frogadier.
SpartanSmurf #1 puts out Pawniard.  He cuts Fufurfrou for 20.
SpartanSmurf #2 uses tight jaw, paralyzing Pawniard (and hitting for 20)
SpartanSmurf #2 knocks out Pawniard with sharp fang.  Looks like Furfrou is a BEAST.
SpartanSmurf #1 plays Honage, a steel Pokemon.  His attack takes two energy, including a steel.  This is a dangerous attack, which lets you flip tip you get a tails to hit for 30X.  But he fails.  (Continuous Slash)
Furfrou knocks out Honage
SpartanSmurf #1 plays Panpour.  He tries fury swipes, which is similar to continuous slash, but does 10 X each head from three flips.
SpartanSmurf #2 plays tight jaw to Furfrou  again paralyzing him.
SpartanSmurf #1 wins plays a poke ball, and wins a flip.  He gets out another Honage
SpartanSmurf #1s next Pansear attack was collect, which apparently isn’t as good as it used to be.  (SpartanSmurf #1 says it used to let you draw three cards.)
SpartanSmurf #2 knocks it out with sharp fang.
SpartanSmurf #2 does tight jaw, but loses the flip.  So no paralysis.
SpartanSmurf #1 evolves Froakie on the bench.
SpartanSmurf #2 used sharp fang, knocking out Honage.
SpartanSmurf #1 advances his Froadier from the bench.  He plays down a Pawniard
SpartanSmurf #2 tight jaws SpartanSmurf #1’s Frogadier.
SpartanSmurf #2 sharp fangs the Frogadier, drawing his last prize card!
SpartanSmurf #1 wins the coin toss.
SpartanSmurf #2 plays Inkay as his first Pokemon
SpartanSmurf #1 plays Pawnard and Bidoof on the bench, with another Pawniard as his attacker.
SpartanSmurf #1 puts a steel energy on Pawniard
SpartanSmurf #2 puts a darkness on Inkay, and pecks for 10
SpartanSmurf #1 cuts Inkay for 20
SpartanSmurf #2 pecks for 10.
SpartanSmurf #1 plays Tierno
SpartanSmurf #1 evolves Pawniard into Bisharp…Then uses Wicked Jab.  This costs only 1 energy, and allows a coin flip to paralyze the enemy, but he loses the coin toss.
SpartanSmurf #2 now has Furfrou and Inkay on the bench.
SpartanSmurf #1 plays crushing hammer, and takgets the Furfrou on the bench.
SpartanSmurf #1 knocks out SpartanSmurf #2’s Inkay
SpartanSmurf #2 advances his other
SpartanSmurf #1 does Tierno, and loads his bench with Froakie, Skitty, and Farfetch’d  He Metal Claws Inkay, knocking it out. 
SpartanSmurf #2 plays Furfrou, and sharp fangs Bisharp to knock him out.  SpartanSmurf #1 advances Froakie
SpartanSmurf #1 wins a flip with a Poke ball and evolves Froakie into Frogadier. 
SpartanSmurf #1 Water drips Furfrou.
SpartanSmurf #2 uses the new Pokmaon catcher, to switch out Frogadier with Pawniard.  (nowadays this card requires a coin flip)  SpartanSmurf #2 tight jaws and wins the flip paralyzing Pawniard
SpartanSmurf #1 plays Poke ball again, but loses the flip.
SpartanSmurf #2 sharp fangs the stunted Pawniard for 50, knocking it out.
At this point, the two trainer are at a tie with prize cards
SpartanSmurf #1 plays a Froakie to the bench.  Then uses his active Frogadier to aqua wave Furfrou for 40 plus 20 more by winning the coin flip once.
SpartanSmurf #2 tight jaws and wins the flip, paralyzing the Frogadier
SpartanSmurf #2 tight jaws again, but loses to flip.
SpartanSmurf #1 uses Frogadier to water drip Furfrou and knock him out.  SpartanSmurf #2 advances a slugma from the bench.
SpartanSmurf #2 plays Tierno.  Then Poke Ball, but loses the flip.  He combustions Frogadier.
SpartanSmurf #1 then aqua waves, and knocks out the slugma, finishing off all of SpartanSmurf #2’s pokemopn.
SpartanSmurf #1 wins the toss
After Lunch!
SpartanSmurf #1 gets two Froakies.  SpartanSmurf #2 gets Fletchling and Furfrou.  Fletchling is the active Pokemon
SpartanSmurf #1 plays Tierno, and gets Farfetch’d and the stage 1 andStage 2 of Froakie, Frogadier, Greninja
SpartanSmurf #2 gets another Fletchling.
SpartanSmurf #1 aqua-edges Fletchling for 80.  SpartanSmurf #2 advances another fletchling from the bench.
He razor winds.  It deals 20 damage to the Grenninja
SpartanSmurf #1 aqua edges the fletchling, knocking it out.  SpartanSmurf #2 advances Furfrou.  He Tight Jaws Greninja, paralyzing it.
SpartanSmurf #1 Poke ball, loses.
SpartanSmurf #2 puts energy on Slugma.  Then tight Jaws.  But loses the flip and fails to paralyze.  the Greninja.  IT now has 60 damage.
SpartanSmurf #1 has been evolving the other Froakie on the bench.  Now he has two Greninjas!  (It should be noted that SpartanSmurf #2 has accused him of cheating.  I am not so sure.)
SpartanSmurf #1 Aqua-Edges Furfrou.  Now it has 10 life left.
SpartanSmurf #2 tight jaws but fails to paralyze again.  Looks like curtains for Furfrou
Naturally, the Furfrou gets knocked out.  SpartanSmurf #2 advances a Slugma.  Weak sauce.
SpartanSmurf #1 swings for 160 (Slugma is weak to water.)
These two decks are balanced against each other pretty good.  The Fennekin deck really took advantage of the Furfrou, colorless “blah blah blah” Pokemon.  I never got to see Fennekin actually get going.  But it stood no chance agains the water attacks of Froakie and his evolutions, and I predict that most of the time it never will.  So the champions of the Fennekin deck are the colorless Pokemon, and Froakie and his ilk are the champions of the Froakie deck.  If these decks were taken to a tournament, they would lose.  They don’t have enough synergy.  And at least to me, that is what wins the Pokemon TCG…cards that work together.

Pokemon XY Kalos starter deck unboxing and review! Froakie!

SpartanSmurf #1’s deck came in the mail, (finally….)  Was it worth the extra four bucks?  (To be fair, he didn’t know that I would find it in Target…He thought he would have to pre-order!)
Here is the front of the box.  Froakie is the main Pokemon being promoted here.

Here is the back.

Here is what you see when you open the box.

This divides into two dividers.  You can see the promo cards here…Froakie, Frogadier, and Greninja.  All a set.

Here are all the pieces.  Notice that the booster pack is from Pokemon Black and White.  (XY Boosters will not be available ’til next year.)  The coin is bigger than the old coins.  The counters are of a cheaper quality.  And because of Power Creep, I suppose they started printing 100 point damage counters.

Here are the cards spread out!  This deck is only 57 cards…You are supposed to add the promo cards.  It is of all Pokemon that have been released before, so you are not really getting anything new exept new artwork.

So now we are going to square the two decks off against one another….See the next post!

POKEMON XY Kalos Starter Set unboxing and review! Fennekin!

Pokemon cards.  This is what is great about Pokemon to me.  Not the video game or cartoon.  But the cards.

SpartanSmurf #1 wanted the “Froakie” box, and ordered it off of Amazon.  Big mistake.  I saw it and this at Target, on the SHELF!  So I snatched up Fennekin and gave it to SpartanSmurf #2 early….

Front of the box!

Back of the box

When you open the box, this is what you see.

The special foil Fennekin and his evolutions are in a separate piece.

beneath the promos, you see this.

Smaller flatter counters this time around, but a bigger coin!

Here are all of the cards that came with the deck.  The booster pack was from “Black and White: Legendary Treasures”  None of the cards here are of Pokemon that have never been revealed….

So, tomorrow the “Froakie” box should come, and we are going to match the two decks against each other.  I will post the results!

More about Shadow Era….Dark Prophecies

Dark Prophecies expansion

I dropped some Shadow Crystals on some booster packs of Dark Prophecies today….Here are my thoughts about the expansion….

One thing that is new is the idea of weakness…..For instance, some allies might be resistant to Ice damage, but hurt more by fire damage. Certainly not a new idea in fantasy stuff, but new to Shadow Era.

I put some new cards in my Majaya deck.  “Meteor Shower” is one of my favorites, hitting someone for 3 damage and setting all of the allies on fire.  SCORE!  My best trick has always been to use the “Voice of Winter” as my weapon.  This thing freezes any new allies.  So they might be frozen and burned if the cards fall right!  But now there is another new card, “Kelvin’s Charm,” which allows you the chance to make any weapon have the ability to freeze things when they are hit.  Wicked touch for a weapon like the “Wrath of Summer,” which also sets things ablaze.

I won four matches in a row today, with a 40 card deck, In every case, my life total was whittled down to almost nothing, and then Majaya’s spells really started their work.  I made a poor calculation once, and was still able to recover.

One of the coolest tricks was the “Scrying Eye.”  You play this as a support item, and then you can see the next card your opponent has on top….and you can use a shadow energy to shuffle his deck.  Needless to say, at the end game when card advantage is key, this tips the scale for Majaya.  “Boris Skullcrusher” has “Kings Pride” up next, pay out and shuffle.  Then he gets “Rain Delay,” a useless card against an all support user!

You see, the way it was before the expansion, Majaya couldn’t do what I wanted her to do….to be an all powerful loner.  She was too weak.  Now it seems that there are enough offensive spells, weapons, armor, and support to make this happen.  And this isn’t a common strategy in Shadow Era.  Everyone seems to be all about the YuGiOh style “Summon Monsters.”  No one is taking the “Blue” magic approach like me.  And that is going to be my beat for awhile.  I am leaving “Gravebone” and “Boris,” along with “Ogloth the Glutton,” because this is not my vision for the game.  Finally things seem to be right.

He looks awesome!  King He-Man, anyone?

Another thing….The Shadow Era website has some articles about two LEGENDARY CREATURES. One is “Karlstrad, Ruler of Gaderi” and the other is “Scourge Colossus.”  I have not seen these two in the merchant….(the in game store.)  The article mentions people finding them in booster packs…I bought ten boosters today, and got three EPIC cards, but neither of these LEGENDARY creatures.  Did someone say one of them was 4200 in-game gold in the comments?  Wow.

Well, I haven’t seen them in action, either.

I wish you really could trade your cards.  If there is a way, I haven’t figured it out.  This might be a way of scoring one.

“Five card stud, nothing wild. And the sky’s the limit”

Shadow Era: Call of the Crystals and Dark Prophecies review

My introduction to Trading Card Games, (TCGs for those not nerdy enough to know,) was actually not Magic: The Gathering, World of Warcraft, of Pokemon.  I knew OF these, but did not play them.  Then one day I got the itch to start playing cards.  I had been playing poker and such as that on the computer, and somehow came across a Macworld article about Shadow Era when I was doing research about cards.

I began to play Shadow Era, which was still in beta testing mode.  I jumped in apparently after the second big update was pushed out.  I had a hard time figuring the game out.  I mean, I read the rules, and sort of knew what to click…the game lights up the available cards, and in about two weeks I had it down.  Before we knew it, I climbed the ratings ladder up to near 200.

Then, I would get knocked back down every time they updated the game.  This happened sort of frequently.  What struck me the most was that they were still evolving the game as people were playing it!  My favorite card then (and now!) is Majaya, but poor Majaya started out as too good of a card, then they weakened her too much, until finally finding the right balance…..

You see, I can’t really explain this game without just talking about my experiences with it.  Basically, you have your cards, you draw a hand, make a sacrifice, which becomes your “mana pool” (to use a Magic term, Shadow Era calls it Resources)  and you can play your cards with the resources you build up.  Only certain cards go together, so Human and Wolf  cards won’t share the same weapons and armor, etc.

The creatures you play in this game line up with their hero’s card type.  So Majaya can play “Shadow” creatures.  Boris, on the other hand must play Human creatures.  DarkClaw must play wolves, etc.  These creatures are called “allies,” and can attack.  Your hero, in my case Majaya, can’t do much of anything except use Shadow Energy, which builds up every turn….

So there you have it….You are confused already….But this game isn’t confusing.  Just hard for me to explain.  It is really very deep.

I ordered some of the physical cards last year….They had sort of a “kickstarter” thing going on, where you could pre-order the cards and you would get bonuses.  This was the GREATEST VALUE EVER.  These physical cards were great, and perhaps I will review them one day, but they sent two whole sets of foil cards in addition to all that I ordered!  And slowly but surely, I received even more stuff, both by mail and on my Shadow Era digital account.  I still have a ton of “Shadow Crystals” to spend, which brings me to the next point.

This game can drain your real money, for digital goods.  It is a FREE game to play, but if you want better cards, you have to either grind against the AI, (boring,) or fork over the cash for shadow crystals, which you can use to buy digital cards.  So warning there!  But this isn’t sooo bad.  In fact, it makes it more like the card games you can buy at the store!

Shadow Era was my jumping on point.  After I started playing this, I introduced the boys to the correct way to play Pokemon, then we went on to try YuGiOh (didn’t like so much) and Magic the Gathering. (Love it, but stink at it!)

So, get on over to this site and start playing!  They just recently released their first expansion to the game, called “Dark Prophecies.”