J and I are pretty far along Monster Hunter, so for a change of pace we started another playthrough of The Division. We're hoping two years of fixes have solved some of the endgame/pvp stuff. There's also a bunch of dlc that might be worth checking out.
Last night we did four way edh madness at Corey's house. It had been a little while but I had some commander decks I was building and excited to try out.
I started with the Oloro deck hoping that the lifegain and passive lifesteal would work against three opponents. In some ways it did - Soul Warden netted me a bunch of life, especially when Martin put out a dude that would spawn a token whenever a spell was cast. On the down side, I became the defacto target when no one looked like they were building anything crazy. Still, I stayed above water for a while, in the 50s health-wise.
I had a bit of a mana screw going (my shuffle was pretty haphazard). I was behind the mana curve and had no swamps (and three black cards in my hand). This is despite putting all the fixing and two color lands I could legally fit in the deck. When I eventually got a second plains I was able to put out an Archangel of Thune - buffing everything I own for each (frequent) lifegain. But Martin killed her as a response to my equipping of Swiftfoot Boots that would have kept her somewhat safe.
Soon after, Kaz's Inalla deck managed to do a triple cast of Cruel Ultimatum to hit each of us and clear some of our creatures and hands. I was pretty well done for, though the command zone lifegain kept me in better shape than Martin and Corey (health-wise, anyway). I finally got Oloro out with no expectation of keeping him. Sure, I could put the swiftfoot boots on him, but Kaz had some unsummon combos going on and Corey's Beckett deck would just need to hit me twice to take the boots then Oloro. I didn't want to go full possum but also held out hope that the card draw with Oloro out might have given me something.
Game two went a little better. Having frantically transferred my shared cards I again didn't shuffle well. I ended up with two lands (although they were multicolor!) for quite a few hands. What's worse, the entire time I got to stare at two three-cast mana rocks that were the basis for me not mulliganing the initial draw. This made me the involuntary possum - I got considerably more pity than attacks.
Eventually Kaz had a play that would ostensibly solve my problems (but also serve his purposes) and put out a Dictate of Karametra - basically making my two (now three) lands good for double. At this point I was tempted to put out Narset or both mana rocks and go positive...
... but the board had gotten too heavy - Corey's Derevi shenanigans was about to begin so I played Hour of Revelation which naturally only required three to cast now that I had enough mana for the full cost. The board wipe bought me some time, so I was able to slowly get my mana rocks out and eventually Narset.
I had Seeker available to allow Narset to attack without dying, this is pretty useful in 4up games since someone's got to have not white/artifacts to block. Additionally I had Quietus Spike ready to equip.
I instead went with Gaseous Form; either the mana wasn't right or it felt like better protection. I wasn't going to cry over the meager damage Narset wouldn't do to one of my three opponents if it meant she could be protected from combat damage on top of her natural hexproof. My damage was going to come from four free spells, not my commander.
At this point the game was really interesting. Kaz had two stupid-big dinosaurs out, Martin had a creature with like 15 +1/+1 counters, Corey was getting to use his lands twice a turn with some Derevi/drake craziness. The real mvp for me here was keeping four mana on tap and a Horn of Deafening and Mirage Mirror with an Axis of Morality insurance policy. Basically I could fizzle an attack and copy another so I was safe against a board with a few large creatures. If everyone went after me I'd be done for, but it was in their immediate interest to keep blockers up or attack someone else - both Kaz and Corey's commanders needed to deal combat damage to a player to activate their ability.
In retrospect, if they knew what was coming they probably would have eliminated me. And that's why this deck is probably no good for multiplayer, I'm either out early or, well, read on.
I think the first Narset activation was pretty mild, I had to exile some stuff that wasn't noncreature spells. I put out an artifact and enchantment or something. Interestingly, something made me scry and there was Beacon of Tomorrows, ready to be drawn for turn and not cast for free. Luckily I had enough mana to cast it normally, meaning two rounds of free spells and one round of normal casting. Since I had to leave four mana available for defense, I was pretty much only buying the second Narset effect.
One of these draws gave me Enter the Infinite. Having just thrown the deck together I didn't actually fully consider this one (I shotgunned a combination of edhrec.com and mtg gatherer sort-by-expensive selections). It sounded cool but with a risk of decking myself, which is a serious prospect when you have to kill of three players in one-ish turn. With a little help from the rest of the table, it became evident that Beacon of Tomorrows would prevent decking. But since I hadn't figured this out myself and since the board was so cool otherwise I was happier just to leave it in exile.
My next Narset draw gave me two extra turns. At this point everyone decided that a combination of my stupid broken deck and numerous long turns had killed what was otherwise a great edh free for all. I had a few fun effects on tap, too:
Honestly, winning with this deck seems unclear, at best. There are definitely ways to do it, but the most straightforward one rests on Aetherflux Reservoir or Felidar Sovereign. There's plenty of lifegain synergy and a few creatures that will get big, but the general strategy seems to be to maximize lifegain and take them down using a few creatures (yours or theirs) and convenient spells.
So the main mechanic, of course, is four free spells. That means get all the crazy-expensive enchantments and sorceries available and hope to draw them after Narset comes out. Creatures, interrupts, and lands remain in exile. I threw in all the mana rocks, since it'd mean a quicker ramp and fewer wasted free castings. As described above, this was a major weakness.
The progression goes like this:
1. Use board wipes when necessary/possible, but ramp mana production to get Narset out.
2. Protect Narset using equipment and enchantments. She has to attack to get her effect.
3. Grow power based on what comes in the free spells. There's lots of enchantment/spellcasting synergy. Having bonus turns is always nice.
This one was pretty fun to put together - basically it was shopping for the most expensive cards and focusing on enchantments that don't get a lot of credit.
Since Jes enjoyed rafting, I thought maybe she'd like an ocean kayak for her bday. We did a sunset paddle before going to see Isle of Dogs.
This, of course, meant rigging a pulley system in the garage to easily store and load the vessel which she christened Gamora.
I did some bday photos for Lil'B down at the Cove. Since my hotshoe connection is loose I pretty much have to use the sync cable. It's not so bad since off-camera flash is better (except in bouncing scenarios). But after the session I realized I really needed to pull the trigger on a flash bracket.
Without much in the way of research, I ordered the Vello Quickdraw. At $20, it's a pretty solid ROI as photography equipment goes.
Its first live action was shooting Lil'H and family up in Poway. It was useful and convenient with the exception of the sync cable always getting in the way. The other are for improvement was the shadows created by a straight-on flash shot.
Thankfully the bracket is highly adjustable. So by turning the joint part around I can get more flash angle.
And without a flash, it just folds over the top of the camera. I'm pretty happy to add it to the default camera setup. Having a substantial left grip is nice and the only downside is the knob on the bottom that prevents setting the camera down on its bottom side.
J and I bagged our first elder dragon.
And the Gentleman's Beer Explorer Society finished Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime.
Sea of Thieves
On the virtual seas, we haven't gotten in nearly enough sessions to bump against the content wall that everyone's complaining about. We're getting slowly more competent at pvp.
For the last adventure we tried the skull fort for the first time.
Basically you follow the big skull in the sky until you get to an island with some serious skeletons.
It took us awhile to get there, we could see there were other players already raiding.
We weren't sure whether to engage or try to ignore them and go for the treasure. Kiet made the decision for us, fire away!
We boarded them but they put powder kegs in the water and got us back.
Still, we got a few men into the fort and battled some of the dead.
We returned to find the successful plunderers running from another ship.
We drew alongside the pursuer, not sure whether to join them or attack them.
It was a little of both.
Both superior seamanship and antagonistic pursuers meant the treasure ship made it to the outpost with a little time to spare.
We swung around the island and sank their ship after they'd turned in the big chest. We picked up some leftover spices.