Lair of The Tark
So the new year brings new things.  I don't have much time for a big detailed post so let's get some things going.

1.  I'm still reading through Paranoia at a slow pace.  Sorry folks  I probably have enough to start writing a script but I want to be thorough.

2. I'm starting to write Beyond gods!  For realz!  Have the intro rough done and am now going through character creation.  Won't be long before I start looking for play testers.

3.  I like Eclipse Phase.  Will I do a video?  Maybe some day.  I think I'll do a bad game next.  Paranoia is unarguably a good game whether you like it or not.

4.  My baby's a girl due in febuary and we move in january. :)

The last thing I need to talk about is my sad and procrastinated search for a new website.  What I need is a place to drop videos, have my rarely updated blog and a place to advertise myself.  Weebly sadly no longer suffices for these purposes.  I think what I'm going to do is find some easy webspace.  If anyone knows a good place that would fit my descriptions and be either 1. Extremely Cheap or 2. Free.  I'd appreciate it.

Anyway this year looks to be a  great year for me.  Look forward to it. :)

At the time of this writing we have seen a small number of previews before the big chin of Deathwing drops and we see a cataclysmic change in the game.  Not only will many rules concerning totems, weapons, professions and forms.  Some good, some bad but undoubtedly changing.  The next cycle of core will of course see the most earth shattering change.

Many would argue, and there is wisdom in this philosophy, that it’s too early to speculate on just what kind of impact this cycling will have without viewing the entire set.  I find that these people are probably going to fall dangerously behind when the new set cycles in because the old sets will cycle out, and the meta will change so drastically they’ll be playing catch up where everyone else has already been play testing and speculating on what will remain effective.  This short series of articles will detail the decks that will go and stay while speculating on rising stars and crashing meteors.

Those who go:

Rip N’ Flip:  Marlowe is a hero that will be sorely missed by warlock players.  One of the few heroes whose flip can instantly win a game Marlowe’s printing along with the cards Azaloth and Ripped through the Portal seemed like providence. In classic the deck never performed extremely well particularly with the prevalence of mages capable of interrupting key cards like Abyss Walkers Boots.  On top of this sideboards and second games often allowed players to punish a Marlowe player’s for bad hands or wrong plays.  The core format allowed Rip N Flip players to get more match wins by going off on players not expecting the sudden hit.  Other variants played a more midrange game utilizing Ritual of Summoning as opposed to ripped through the portal and game removing effects.

Rip N’ Flip will go away purely because nearly its entire combo cycles out with world breaker.  This is actually a boon to decks like death wish that rely on armor or protectors to keep themselves from being killed.  Marlowe of course bypassed even damage prevention by going straight for the negative life.  However the midrange variant utilizing ritual of summoning is unlikely to go anywhere.  Pidge has already proven a worthy replacement to Marlowe and while she cannot instantly win a game like Marlowe and azaloth typically ritualing in a King Varian is enough for many players to pick up their cards.

Kuma Aggro:  Kuma rose with the coming of scourge war thanks to cards like Broderick Langforth, Spectral Kitten and Feral Spirits giving an amazing boost to aggressive decks.  Combined with already amazing agro allies like Offender Gora and Bloodsoul, Kuma proved to be an amazing contender and made top 8 in numerous major tournaments around the globe.  His explosive flip and amazingly aggressive curve ended the game within four short turns. Kuma did not merely exist in the meta he defined the meta.  When the meta seemed to conspire against him he pulled another trick out of his hat and continued to dominate and even midrange variants of the deck garnered some minor interest here and there.  If the deck had a weakness it was its lackluster draw.  A death wish or mage player playing defensively and intelligently could easily stall out his opponent and eliminate his allies before moving in for the kill.  Regardless of this weakness it’s consistency and sheer explosive power is not likely to be seen again for a while.

Sadly with the cycling out of the illidan block kuma has gone with it and even more sadly it seems the current replacement heroes aren’t up to par with kuma.  With offender gora, crackling purge, and others leaving the scene it’s unlikely for an aggressive shaman deck like this to continue existing.  That being said many elements that made kuma work are still very much around and while world breaker might not revive the agro enhance shaman it might give another class new tricks to make picking up kuma’s favorite cards a viable option indeed.

Traitor Anything: During realm champs and several other tournaments the defining finisher was Illidan.  Illidan might as well have text that says “Target Player Concedes the Game” which is what many players opted to do instead of weathering the merciless blows the master hero can lay on people.  On top of this traitor heroes often had very good flips and very good talent abilities making the decks very playable.

Almost all traitor heroes have seen tournament play at one point from the aforementioned Marlowe, to Seadog Nally, to Lionar the Bloodcursed.  However one of these heroes have helped define the meta; Vor’na the Wretched.  Using the ability suite of classic mage control alongside silvermoon city and her excellent traitor capabilities she could easily stall into illidan or heal with conjured cinnamon buns as time is called to get a time win.  Only Kuma’s relentless assault and deathwish’s armor and aggression could really give this deck many fits.

With the removal of the traitor cards many deck archetypes are going to disappear. Illidan is going to be replaced by the slightly less devastating Lich King, Kel’thuzad, and Tirion Fordring triad.  Illidan was an unparalleled finisher that helped define the format and give mage decks a dominating presence through much of the early history of core.

Warrior Orcs: Orcs never really proved to be a truly dominant deck in core.  It simply lacked the tools to effectively deal with death wish, mage and kuma.  That being said it was a very solid deck that could still take a major tournament by surprise.  The beauty is in its simplicity.  Every ally in its deck is an orc and every orc can be given ferocity by orgrimmar.  Combined with removal like sudden death to supplement that provided by the orcs (namely cromarius and munkin blackfist) the deck played more like a steady and stable burn deck that became more difficult to deal with turn after turn.

With the cycling out of cards like offender gora, the traitor suite and puncture the orc deck as we know it is going away.  That being said it’s not difficult to imagine another class taking its place.  Warlock, Death Knight and Hunter all have proven themselves already capable of taking the warriors place as king of the orcs and with the printing of a newer much more dangerous thrall it’s not difficult to imagine orcs coming back with new colors.

Combo Deathwish:  Combo decks do well in core because they often catch an opponent by surprise often times they play a hero known for a completely different strategy before coming out with a combination of cards that the opponent has not prepared for and cannot stop.  In the case of combo death wish it meant laying down a number of cards that were expected from a typical control variant of death wish before dropping Alard Schmeid and an often girdle’d Plasma Rats Hyper scythe tos tart an infinite attack cycle.  The ingeniousness behind the combo is the fact that up until plasma rats hits the board you are essentially playing classic deathwish until you drop the polearm.  This added not one but two potential win conditions to the deck.  Not only could you win by dropping the master hero or jin’rohk or even just plain beating an opponent senseless but you could also beat them to death with Alard Schmeid or combo out and win the game.

With the loss of plasma rat’s hyperscythe and pommel to help protect it the win condition goes away and with it the win condition.  Alard Schmeid might never see play again in core.  Though tanks for everything might not be leaving yet if a certain gnome hero has anything to say about it.

Renewal of Life: Renewal of life is yet another one of those fringe decks that always seemed on the verge of greatness. Using a number of self discarding, milling, and filtering effects the deck would quickly fill the graveyard with massive allies before using You, Robot to instantly drop a Renewal of Life at the end of an opponent’s turn and bring a number of very big and very dangerous allies into play all at once.

All of these decks had the same strategy and all of them used mostly the same cards.  The difference often lay in the cards they would drag back from the graveyard and those they used to protect their ring.  Most people would bring back the beefiest most efficient allies available in the format.  Others would use allies that worked well together such as Red Gladiators or Unique allies based on the argent crusade. 

So if renewal of life is still core why is it not going to even be notable?  The answer lies simply in how the meta has adapted to other decks.  Deathwish, Blue Shaman control, scourge decks, suicide rogue, and other minor instances of decks all have some sort of graveyard recursion that forces your average core deck to at least consider some kind of graveyard control to prevent them from being ripped apart by some kind of graveyard shenanigans.  To add to this with you, robot leaving the meta there’s no feasible and efficient way to sneak your ring into play.  Now, you must rely on your opponent to not have any equipment removal (a tricky proposition any time) before you can risk the ring.  Because of this a renewal of life deck will be forced to consider other win conditions and adapt their ally base accordingly.  While renewal of life is still a good card it might be possible that we’ll see it as merely a supplement to a strategy rather than the main theme.

“Black Ice”:  Hi Ho the gnome is dead!   With water elemental, myriam, marksman glous, giralo, and of course all the cards that never were a part of core to begin with gone the classic version of black ice is gone forever.  If you don’t know what black ice was than it might be time to read up a bit on the history of the game.

That being said other mid range blue mage decks are still looking good and with world breaker giving the alliance ferocity don’t expect blue mid range agro to go away anytime soon.   For now though we can celebrate that the little obnoxious gnome and his draeni friends are gone for good.

Who Will Stay

Triton Midrange: So far each new set has strengthened the power behind death knight.  Three sets, three great talents.  Right from the start peoples saw corpse explosion as one of the best cards out there.  For the cost of three you could remove an obnoxious ally from an opponent’s graveyard (like say Broderick) and blow up his board while hitting him for four damage.  Barring that you also had army of the dead which killed all allies and converted them to ghouls for you to smash faces with.  Almost immediately people tried to build decks around these cards and the equally amazing death charger.  The deck that eventually floated to the top was Triton Midrange.

Making up for the class’s weaknesses with cards like Cromarius, Munkin, and Tuskarr kite the deck was easily the bane of ally based decks.  On top of this they utilized the best allies that horde had to offer from Dethvir to Nathanos, to Vanessa Fairgraves.  With every new set more allies and more holes in the deck are filled up while the deck gets stronger. With control mage taking major hits with the cycling of the illidan block, Triton may go from a solid choice to a top contender.

Aggro Deathwish:  When the deck was first forming I among others considered that in an aggressive deck the card could perform very well.  Sadly it seemed not all the elements were in place to make that concept come true.  With wrathgate and now icecrown the deck has reached a point where it’s competitive.  Using an aggressive mix of allies, abilities and weapons the deck hits hard and is difficult to stop.

It might seem that with the loss of bloody mary, vindicator’s brand and puncture the deck would suffer.  However two heroes and perhaps soon three will be waiting in the wings to take over.  The foremost of these will be boarguts the impaler.  With the aggressive orc mount, and kazamon steelskin it’s likely that death wish decks are going to take on a shade of green.  On top of this even if the new set does not give warrior an effective answer to equipment ruination and payment of blood look to be slower but effective replacements to puncture.  Vuz’din was already a decent answer to ongoing abilities.  If the new set gives warrior a good way to handle abilities than death wish in its aggressive form is likely to remain competitive for quite some time.

Subtlety Rogue:  With the changes to finishing moves coming this deck actually looks to get much stronger.  It’s an odd hybrid of control and aggro that many decks find difficult to deal with.  With even more tools to rip into death wish with the coming addition of steal steel and likely more such abilities to come it’s likely the deck is sticking around for quite a while.

And who is to say what new subtlety hero will come with the new set?  For now we have troll, dwarf, gnome and orc.  Will it be a goblin?  Worgen?  Perhaps even undead?  And what of the new master heroes? 

Without question these are the decks that look to stick around at least for the foreseeable future.  In the next part we’ll talk about the decks that will rise or fall depending entirely on the full scope of the worldbreaker release.

Well what will hopefuly becomes a secondary source of income in addition to my writing and day job is finally up and running.  My first video was mostly experimental and has for the most part been well recieved.  There have been a complaint here and there about the gay comments.  But I ask all of you homosexual people this;  prove to me that vampires are not an analogy for homosexuality.

Seriously all of Twilight is filled with implied homoeroticism it's not even funny.   Anne Rice was even worse.  No I don't have anythign against gay people of any kind.  But, let's face it, the modern vampire might as well be hanging out at gay bars picking up dudes.

Anyway episode 2 is going to be about 9 myths that have been choking the life out of tabletops since they became popular in the 70's.  I'm going to say right off not to expect as much funny as the last one.  Primarily because the more research I did the less funny a found and more rage I felt.  Mainly because despite the fact that all the grassroots and church movements being utterly and decidedly debunked many of the arguments they made have remained in the mainstream mind.  This is mainly because the sensationalist media decided that the attack was more entertaining than the backlash.  This is why I'm thankful to god for the internet.  It gives regular intelligent people a chance of retaliation against a biased mainstream where there was none before.  Anyway,  I'm starting recording tomorrow with a goal of having the next episode out by next week.  See you then.
Well I've made thee decision to move my Pathfinder game from a real life to an online format using Maptool and Ventrilo.  This move came as kind of a disappointment in my local gaming community.  I literally live not far down the street from White Wolf Publishing and despite the fact that the community here seems active and willing I can't seem to attract players to my group.

I think in the end I feel it's because I simply don't know the community well enough to do anything.  With this in mind I've decided to take my current game online and just try and get to know my local community better.  This is just an object lesson that when you move to a new community it's best to play games rather than start one of your own.  From there you can pick players out from the groups you already know.  I think my mistake was that I'm rather hungry to start and run my own games rather then play in others.  Let's face it, I'm a born DM.  I prefer to create and facilitate stories rather than try to force my own upon another.  This is ironic as this is exactly how a DM typically operates anyway.

In other news my loving Fiance has gone back to work so this weekend I'm going to get back to work on my video review series and hopefully have something to show for it by the end of next week. :)  One thing I can warn the, oh, two people that read this blog is that my humor tends to be on the dry and sarcastic side so if you're  a fan of Spoony, Nostalgia Critic, or AVGN don't expect a plethora of dick jokes, profanity, or senseless screaming.  Will it be funny and entertaining?  Well, that's my hope.  Will it be informative?  You bet your ass.

In other news work steadily continues on cosmothea.  My NDA prohibits me from saying much.  But, if you're interested to see who could wrangle such a  jaded man like myself to work for them at 2 cents a word m I suggest taking a look at the site.  I'm finally getting my check from the Escapist.  Thank god.  I might take that small bit of money I'm getting from this and make this a legitimate site.  It'll all depend on how the video turns out and how much traffic it brings here.
Well, my problem has been that I never finish anything.  Part of this is that I don't have any income from the stuff I do.  

Anyway,  my column will soon be showing on an italian site.

Also for thsoe of you who like the World of Warcraft: TCG I'm also doing articles for

Also if I haven't announced it as of yet I'm working on a game called Cosmothea.
I'm not really much of a blogger, I admit.  But I figured I would but up a small bit of news anyway while I'm updating the site a bit.  First I'd like to let people know that I'm working on a project with a few other writers called Cosmothea RPG of which I have  a link on my projects page.  Second I'm signing up for Google AdSense because I'm poor.  I'll try to keep the ads to a minimum but I really need every scrap of pence I can get.
So what happens when you spend nearly half a month or so doing nothing?  You panic when you realize you need to be doing something.  Do not envy me, for I have a lot to do.  I really need to learn how to prioritize thigns and get them straightened out.  This is just the non job stuff I have to do.

This months column.
Work on children of Sin.
Various rpg related things.
Working on a Mod for Torchlight.
Clean the house so thoroughly no single roach like entity can possibly survive.

So, I better get to work.  Roaches won't murder themselves.
Someone asked recently about this and the answer is yes it is still going.  Currently it's shelved since right now I'm dealing with a ton of other things but hopefully as summer comes and thigns settle a bit I'll have time tog et soemthign solid to paper.
Must, find, the will to work.  Blargh.  So I have this months column, and another website article to finish for kobold quarterly I also need to get back in touch with Kobold Quarterly and the Escapist to find some progress.  Don't know how many weeks it's been but I would like to get some idea of what's going on.
After two false starts (stupid forefox stop crashgin goddamit!). Anyway, with valve saying they're going to return to the character of Adrian Shepher it got me to thinking what an Opposing Force 2 would look like.

He should be a Combine Elite.

Part 1: Drafted.

The game begins with you in a metal coffin thing on a train being awakened by the G-Man. He tells you that you are being drafted to finish the mission you first began or soething cryptic along those lines. He never says anything explicit like kill freeman or any of that. From there you your train arrives in Nova Propekt where you go through a rather painful looking sequence wher the corporals humanity is stripped away with in and out of conciousness images of stalkers and various robotic implements doing some rather horrible things to him. This is where he'll get his HEV suit type ability to see his health and armor and subsequently select his weapons. From there he's taken through a short training section that gives him his first two weapons, a Pipe Wrench and a Combine Assault rifle before being thrown into the fray during the portion where Freeman is infiltrating the prison. There are fights with antlions of all three varieties, zombies and plenty of squad usage as you now have combine soldiers working for you. (oh and now you can walk through combine barriers. :) ) The AI for these soldiers needs to be better then typical HL2 where the damn rebels dont bother with little thigns like grenades and cover. Along the way you should also get a submachine gun and the pistol.

This portion ends with a quick puzzle to get an engie combine to detonate the door leading to the teleporter just as freeman and alyx make their escape. The malfunction snatches you up in the teleporter as well and thus comes the second part.

Part 2: Counter Insurgency

This second part has you being teleported at sometime roughly after Gordon, Alyx and Dr. Kleiner exit the lab along with a good portion of the room you were in busting walls smashing equipment and opening up areas into City17 that were previously unexplored.

This is the aprt I've been wanting since the main game. Shoot me some rebels. You're not given an exact reason why you should be shooting at them but the fact that they're shooting at you while screaming "COMBINE!" is reason enough to shoot back. HEre the squad shoot outs become more prevalent and more weapon s get dropped into your hands including a Shotgun and, the ability to deploy Manhacks(!!!) that target your enemies but leave you and your squadmates alone.

At some point we should get into a very neat squad portion that gives you the command of a pair of Hunters. Their are a number of puzzles involving using the hunters flechettes to break some doors and things down for you that your pipe wrench doesn't seem to affect. IT also helps that said hunters are rather tough in combat however if both die you lose the game so it becomes a balance of sending them into situations where their toughness will triump but not into situations where they'll get killed.

The level ends as you get a great vista shot of the top of the Citadel getting blown up. Thus putting you into the events of Episode 1.

Part 3: Evac route

At this point you get back together with your combine mates and renew the chase for freeman. This portion is what I want to call, keep the tank alive as you'll basically be following a strider around with your squad while it shoots people and they shoot at it, you, and the squad with you. It's important to take out the rocket carriers as they'll eliminate the strider removing a good portion of the firepower you're running around with while making it impossible to progress (striders blow up obstacles).

After this sequence you find what happened to Dr. Breen. Rather you find his bloodied and broken corpse being chewed on by zombies. :D There's notmuch more to say about this other than you get glimpses of Alyx and Gordon running through the city or the aftermaths of their work.

Eventually you reach a point whre you pile into an APC (or Dropship) and go after freemans train. The citadel kerplodes and you black out as the vehicle is blown to bits.

This marks the half way point in the game and a turnin point for this character.

Part 4: Loose Ends

You wake up on an old airforce base strikingly similar to the one found in Adrians training tutorial. As a nod to the old expansion you see a man in a lab coat attempting to revive a fallen combine soldier. He expresses relif that you were alive and explains that he cut off your behavioral suppression systems (like you really ahd a choice in shooting rebels) so you are no loner under the combines sway. He explains that there were those who wanted to kill you and understandably but he values life. NAturally your weapons have been stripped from you. He explains that they're here to retrieve a nuclear warhead located deep underground to keep them

Outside the room you find a group of rebels trying to cross a barrier but failing miserably (sparks fly jokes are made). This is a training part where your employed to go after the plug that's out of reach to drop the barrier for the rebels. (Do it or we'll make your short remaining life so miserable...) They go through and that's that short bit.

This is a short part where you don't ahve any weapons (save a combat knife if you do a bit of exploring which the rebels comment on but do nothing about) essentially you're dodging zombies until you can drop a barrier and let the rebels come in and clean house.

This portion ends with a battle against a number of Pit Drones (DUN DUN DUUNNNNN Race X!) that actually teleport in and start killing off rebels.

This leads to a part where only one, maybe two people can progress. The surviving rebels argue for a bit agreeing that Shephard definitely needs ot go through since he can deactivate the barriers. The vortigaunt with them agrees to come with you simply because the others aren't willing to risk their necks to help combine scum.

Continuing in next post.