Magic the Gathering Toolbox APP & Dark Ascension

Okay, first thing’s first.. Wizard’s has released the new Magic: The Gathering Toolbox app for the iphone. You can download it for free (yep, I said FREE as in F-R-E-E) at the app store. What all does it do? Wow, that’s a loaded question, you can use it as a life counter, a deck builder, you can add players to keep track of everyone’s life totals, you can search every damn card made (tho you do have to be connected to 3g or wifi to download the card art – but you can still be offline to read the card text). It will even tell you where the closest store is that carries Magic! It also updates itself with new Magic events that you can even push to your own calendar. If you like playing the game, I highly recommend this app!

Now.. yes, there is a small thing you gotta pay, when a new set comes out you have to pay a small price to download the new card set. I’ve not been able to determine that cost yet, however. OOOH! You can also download wallpaper! Who knows what else they will do with this one! All in all, go grab it and check it out!

Okay, now for Dark Ascension:

Prerelease Events: January 28-29, 2012
Release Date: February 3, 2012
Launch Parties: February 3-6, 2012
Game Day: February 25-26, 2012 March 3-4, 2012
Twitter Hashtag: #MTGDKA
Design Team: Mark Rosewater (lead), Jenna Helland, Zac Hill, Graeme Hopkins, Matt Tabak
Development Team: Tom LaPille (lead), Mark L. Gottlieb, Zac Hill, David Humpherys, Ken Troop

It breaks down like this:
158 card set.
White (26)
Blue (27)
Black (27)
Red (27)
Green (27)
Multicolor (9)
Artifact (11)
Land (4)

The coolest part is the new double sided cards. Yep, cards with two sides. Transforming cards.

But.. How do I play them in a deck, won’t it be considered a ‘marked card’? Is this going to force me to play with sleeves?

Nope! In most booster packs there is 1 transforming card. There is also a proxy card that has the proper Magic backed Back that you can place into your deck. On that card you mark which Transforming card you have selected and when you draw it, and cast it just put the other card into play.

Magic is in a state of constant change and as such is continuously needing to reinvent itself. This new one of being able to transform may take some getting used to, but here at GameMasters we have already embraced the Dark Ascension!

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Official Magic the Gathering App

Written by Monty Ashley on Thursday, January 5th, 2012.

If you have an iPhone, an iPad, or an Android device, we have exciting news for you. Say hello to Magic: The Gathering Toolbox, the only official Magic: The Gathering app. And it’s FREE!

Magic: The Gathering Toolbox is more than a life counter. It also lets you build decks, research strategies, and find events, all from your mobile device.

Life Tracker

Do you mostly play in tournaments? Or do you prefer Commander games around the kitchen table? Magic: The Gathering Toolbox comes with a variety of premade settings that you can tweak to your precise specifications. Track life, poison, floating mana, Commander damage, and more! You can track up to six players per game and their save profile information for later. And on iPad, you can track up to eight players!

Card Search

It’s like having Gatherer in your pocket! Search and filter all 10,000+ Magic cards, with new card sets automatically added!

Deck Builder

Build decks on the road! Share them via email or on Facebook! When Magic: The Gathering Toolbox launches, you’ll be able to build decks for every card for free, As new card sets get released, you can pay a small fee to update the deck builder with the latest content.

Article Reader

You like, right? It’s the website you’re reading right now! Magic: The Gathering Toolbox will let you get content from the official Daily MTG website delivered daily to your device. You can also add other RSS feeds so you can stay on top of your favorite websites.

Event Calendar and Store Locator

Looking for an event to play in? The most popular Magic events come preloaded in the app, and you can select specific events to move into your calendar. Head to the Store Locator link to find your local game store and see what events they have waiting for you!

The Magic: The Gathering Toolbox app will come out for iOS devices later this month, and a bit after that on Android. Keep watching the skies! Or, if that seems impractical, watch @wizards_magic on Twitter and like Magic: The Gathering on Facebook!

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Getting Characters Together: A Dungeon Master’s Nightmare

What are the odds that a Drow Elf fighter, a gnome magic user, a ranger from the outskirts of a haunted forest and a thief born of nobility will be in the same tavern at the same time all wanting to take on the same adventure?

Not likely.

Most DMs will agree that getting player characters together for the first time is not exactly an easy task. Sure, you can always throw them together and ignore their history and past, but where is the dynamic connection in that?

Many adventures start out as a notice tacked to the message wall in the local tavern, which is great for those few PCs born in that town, but what of the other PCs? One wants to be an elf from some forgotten era, one wants to be a barbarian from the mountains 200 miles to the north, while the last guy wants to be a nomadic ranger born in a major city on the opposite side of the realm!

Okay, it can be accepted that the party is by chance in the same tavern at the same time and they are each interested in the same adventure. It could be accepted, but it does not make for a very interesting game.

What if, instead, the ranger is tracking a band of thieves that took his daughter’s life? What if that barbarian from way up North had to go on a journey to prove himself to his peers? What of the elf rogue, perhaps she is undercover in the same band of thieves that the ranger is tracking (for they also stole her father’s prized dagger)?

That stands to hold more of a reason for the party of five adventurers to come together rather than ‘poof we just popped into existence knowing each other’.

“Yeah but who cares, we just want to play the game.”

Well, there is nothing wrong with simply rolling the dice scribbling down the numbers and jumping into the game. But keep this in mind: what if the scenario described up above happened three years ago? The elf need not play out her discovery of tracking down the rogues who stole her father’s dagger, the barbarian does not have to play out his 200 mile journey around the country side, he may have even returned home and proved himself but decided he enjoyed traveling the countryside than milling around the mountains all day. Then there is the ranger, he is a bit tough. The very nature of him dictates that he would not stay in one place for very long, but regardless, what if he falls in love, or someone has hired him to guard something?

The point is, regardless of the reasons, these backgrounds do not need to be played out. They are simply backgrounds and give the PCs more of a reason for being in the same place at the same time.

In the process of their background, each PC is able to meet each other PC. They spend time together and they all have likes and dislikes. Each one is able to flesh out the party and because of the background the PC itself is better fleshed out.

Three years, two years, even one year is long enough for a group of Five adventurers to get to know each other, but again, that history does not exactly have to be played out.

Of course, it stands to reason that as far as adventurers go, there is a much more diverse combination of PCs. Likewise, there are also many diverse backgrounds to come up with.

As far as all wanting to go on the same adventure?


The same guy that tacked that note to the tavern wall is the same guy that took the life of the ranger’s daughter, is also the one that stole the dagger from the rogue’s dad, and also is the same enemy of the barbarian’s clan of whom he must seek out to kill.

And what of the other two faithful PCs that grew up together in the same town? Not much was mentioned about them. Why? Well, we already know how they are acquainted, but of course that does not mean they cannot have backgrounds of their own.

The key element here is to keep in mind that assembling the PCs in the same place does not have to be a horrible thing. No Nightmare has to take place. It simply makes the idea of the adventure flow a bit smoother.

Think about it this way: the group that will play next week, how did they come to know each other? Not their Player Characters, but the Players themselves? Surely they did not all spontaneously ‘pop’ into existence sitting at the table, dice in hand, ready to play. Did one guy work at the pizza joint and saw your D&D hat and ask a question? Did the guy that sits at the far end of the table grow up three blocks away?

The point is your players have history that brought them all together to play. What history will their characters have that brings them together to adventure?

As a Dungeon Master, encourage them to develop that background and history and your nightmares will stop.

Then exploit that background and incorporate that into your meta-storyline. Three months from now they track down the guy that stole her father’s dagger and kill him… Two years from now that guy’s daughter tracks the party down and she is a very powerful mage…

Game on!

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Rubber – Review of a Tire Movie

Rubber is not for everyone. I first found out about it less than a week ago. The idea is simple enough, a tire wakes up in the middle of a desert to discover it has telepathic abilities and can kill using those abilities. Yes, you read that correctly, a tire. From a car. It doesn’t matter which one, front or back, driver side or passenger side. It’s a movie about just a tire. Except it’s not a tire (which it is – for no reason).

Rubber is directed by Quentin Dupieux and what he turns out is a very David Lynch style film; mix in a dash of irony, and a massive heap of things that happen for “no reason” and you have exactly what Rubber is all about.

When I discovered that this film existed, less than a week ago I wish to point out, I went to Netflix and added it to the top of my list. It arrived today and this evening I sat down to watch it…

A little slow in the beginning, actually very slow for the entire duration, but if you are watching it for fast action, you are watching it for the wrong reason. The reason this should be watched is for the storytelling. Everything in movies has been done before. Rubber is no exception, at least as far as the world of inanimate objects coming to life goes. We have an entire car (Christine), a child’s doll (Child’s Play), the list goes on and on. However (and no I’m not going to compare this movie’s story to that of Christine – Stephen King is by far the master, and always will be), what does set this movie apart from other so called horror movies, is the story itself.

There are, in essence, 2 different “universes” going on in Rubber. There are the Spectators and there are the Actors. I don’t want to go into any spoilers as to how everything is pulled off and executed, but suffice it to say this movie will stay with you after you have seen it. I’ll warn you now, it’s artsy. It’s not for everyone. It’s a “thinking person” movie. You have to have an open mind, and be ready to suspend disbelief.

Personally, I enjoyed it and give it 4 stars out of 5.

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Dead Island review

Everyone needs a vacation.  Work can stress you out, family can stress you out, friends can stress you out, and even the nightly news can be stressful to watch.  It’s times like these, when you are feeling stressed, that’s it best to remove yourself from the situation and plunge yourself deep into a hypnotic vacation of sandy beaches and refreshing beverages.

Ahhh… I can practically feel the sand between my toes and the taste of piña colada gracing my taste buds.  Never mind that drunken guy stumbling his way towards me.  Wait a second, let me sit up, is that blood?  Oh wow, this guy cannot hold his booze!  He has one massive head injury!  Whoah!  He is growling at me and inching closer!  This vacation is not releasing the stress at all!  Oh my, look!  There’s more making their way towards me!

Welcome to Dead Island, developed by Techland and produced by Deep Silver, this looks to be what zombie enthusiasts have been hungering for since the original Left 4 Dead.  That’s not to compare the two, but rather to say that while there have been other zombie games come out, none will match up to what Dead Island is going to do.

The game takes place on a fictional tropical island, Banoi, found in Papue New Guinea.  In essence you start off trapped in a hut on the beach with a few other survivors (3 to be exact).  From there you simply start your assault against the undead.  This is going to be a fully featured sandbox game, that is, you will be able to go anywhere and pick up almost anything.  It supports up to 4 players (more on them a couple of paragraphs down) in co-op mode, both on a local host as well as online.  There is a skill tree system (although it’s not exactly what you may think, it’s not set up like WoW’s), customizable weapons and vehicles, experience system, stamina bar, and loads of other features.

Stamina bar?  Yep!  That means that as you move through the game, performing certain actions or carrying certain items, you can get winded.  Just stop, sit down, and take a little break.  Let your energy build back up, just keep an eye out for flesh eating monsters while you are sitting there.

As with other games, there will be weak zombies and tough zombies.  The game also plays heavily with the environment.  Flashlights will be used at night, water will evaporate based on the amount of sunlight present, it can rain based on the amount of clouds (even snow or fog).  The elements will be generated based on the humidity and the time of year that is in the game.  Yes, they have made this a very dynamic game to play in.

Even the characters and zombies have several “layers” of bone, muscle, and skin.  What’s that mean?  From what has been said it means that if you pick up a small rock and throw it at a zombie, it may break the skin exposing the muscle underneath.  If you go swinging with an axe you may dig right though the skin and muscle and expose bone (or perhaps even cleave right though).  Gone are the days of just shooting in the general direction and the thing you are aiming for dies.  Did I mention this game was going to be quite dynamic?

You will get to choose one of 4 characters to play.  Xian Mei, female, works at the resort.  Sam B, male, rapper.  Purna, female, unknown.  Logan, male, surfer dude.  Yeah, don’t let the professions fool you.  It’s a random group thrown together.  It has also been reported that they are immune to the zombie infection.

Think your last vacation with the family was hell?  Next time go to Dead Island.  They can’t wait to give you a rip-roaring good time.  Just be sure to bring an extra pair of undies, you may very well need them.

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