Saturday, 31 December 2011


Wow, has it been a year already... I said in that blog post last year that I didn't have any plans, and have pretty much stuck to that, taking things as they come. So for the moment I'm going to reflect on the last year, and think ahead to the next year. 

Setting up Kobo using Linux (Ubuntu)

I got one of those Kobo Touch eReaders for xmas (yay) and have been using it for some reading (currently looking through some PPUK policy proposals to keep up to date, but have some more books loaded too). 

One problem I had was that I couldn't get it to connect to my wireless. Reading an FAQ, it said I had to set it up first (i.e. connect with an account) before it would connect to a wireless network (which seemed a bit strange as I wasn't home when I got it). Looking into it, their website had an installer for Windows (unhelpfully labelled "PC") and one for Mac. Not particularly helpful if I am running Ubuntu...

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Baby news

I have announced recently that my girlfriend is pregnant, but have not mentioned it in a blog yet. Not for any reason other than we didn't have that much to say outside the announcement. Now we know a bit more about what is going on, I do have more to talk about. 

First scan

In this post, I will go into further detail about what's happening. Basically, stop reading if you don't want to hear about baby stuff (follow the first link above for a brief summary). 

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Innistrad First Picks

After the last draft I did, I got one booster pack as a prize, and didn't have enough time to look through it last night, so will do so now. 

Interestingly, there are no white cards in the pack, but the other colours are fairly well represented. The top 4 cards are Unburial Rites, Rage Thrower, Mirror-Mad Phantasm and Mayor of Avabruck // Howlpack Alpha

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Drafting the Laboratory Maniac deck

I did another draft last night and, while I didn't do well with blue last time, ended up playing blue again. I had been reading about an archetype where you mill yourself and make many spider tokens over and over again, but didn't want to go into the draft looking to play the deck, and just went with what I saw. As it turned out, I ended up going with a deck very similar anyway. 

When I opened the pack, the first card I picked was Skaab Ruinator. Massive creature, evasion; generally a great bomb. Meant I was going to be in blue again, but I had a win condition, whereas last time I just had ways to delay my inevitable defeat. It also meant I would have to be looking into playing cards that filled my graveyard, so kept that in mind. I can't remember what my next pick or two were, it might have been a Victim of Night. But my pick either 3 or 4 was Laboratory Maniac, which looked so fun I took it and decided to build my deck around it...

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Time and time again

I have blogged about time before, and was thinking about it again recently. This time (ha) about the abstractions we place upon it, and the effect of that (so one week is made up of seven days, for example). 

Thursday, 24 November 2011


I have somewhat impressed myself with how organised I have been regarding getting xmas presents this year. I think I have brought most of presents I needed to this year, and it's not even December yet...

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Using Unity

I've been using Ubuntu for a while now, and updated at the last update to use unity. The last time I had updated I tried unity and didn't like it because it slowed my computer down a bit (it is a low power computer, similar specs to a laptop I guess). This time, however, it wasn't slowing down my computer noticeably, so I continued using Unity, looking for a couple of tweaks on the way. 

One thing that I didn't know how to do initially is was how to move things around on the dock on the left hand side. When I was using the old version (Classic I think it was called), I had some application links on the top bar, which were automatically transferred over, which was handy. I tried dragging them up/down to reorganise them, but that didn't seem to work. I eventually figured it out - I had to drag them outside the dock (i.e. drag them out to the right away from the dock), and then I could move them up and down. Not as obvious (to me anyway), but I figured it out in the end. Thought I would post it here in case someone else is trying to figure out how to do it. 

Overall, I'm not that bothered about Unity, and don't mind using it. Its alright and now I've used it for a bit, I've gotten used to it. Still haven't figured out how to move the 'close' buttons to the right hand side of the top toolbar (they are on the left by default) - I can change it for when it is minimised, but not for the maximised window, which uses the top toolbar (which is a bit weird, but OK). 

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Halloween Game Day

Yesterday, on Halloween (Monday 31st October), I went to the Game Day that a nearby shop (Chaos City Comics) was running. It was a standard tournament, so I took along a deck I had already made: Mono-Black Infect [1]. 

I had updated it quite a bit since the last time, and was taking a few things of the  evolving metagame into consideration (when I first made the deck, it was mostly for fun, and the only thing to really play against was Caw-Blade). I had taken out the battlecry aspect because, although it had a nice synergy with the deck, wasn't always going to come together (as I would need a creature with infect in order to make the battlecry relevant, so I decided to instead focus on cards that are good or at least alright on their own, as well as with others). 

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Innistrad draft

I got around to going to another Innistrad draft last night. I think the deck I drafted was very good, and I was doing well, but lost some close games in the finals. But it was fun to play regardless. 

My first pick was a Manor Gargoyle, passing Tribute to Hunger and Geistflame. The Tribute came round again so I took it late, which was handy as I had been taking a lot of black that pack. I had a few green cards and an Unburial Rites, so was looking into playing black with green/white as a splash. In the next few packs, I got more black cards and a few good green cards, but not too many white cards. I did also open a Gavony Township, so was thinking so splashing both green and white, even if only slightly, and looked for mana fixing some more. 

Friday, 14 October 2011

Innistrad First picks

I opened an interesting looking booster recently. Definatly something that has multiple good cards to consider for a first pick.  

This was the top 7 cards that there was in the pack. 

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

First experiences with Innistrad (and some first picks!)

Although I didn't make it to any of the official pre-releases and releases, I have been able to play some games now (including a draft!). 

So far I have done a practice sealed deck creating and playing with Liz, and started an Innistrad league, and done a draft at Hemel. Playing with Liz was the first time I used the double sided cards, and I tried both with sleeves and without using the checklist cards. I like the cards themselves, but so far think they are a bit awkward to play with. I didn't like them too much in sleeves because I wanted to be able to see the other side a bit easier when it was in play (and it would be a bit obvious what is in your hand if you try to look at the other side while in your hand). I didn't like the unsleeving it to transform it too much as it was a little awkward. Hopefully these issues will be lessened once I know what is on the other side of the card a bit better so I won't need to check the other side as much. Playing with the checklist cards was a bit better when they were in play because it was easier to check the other side, but I didn't like using the checklist cards while not in play too much. When I played a checklist card, I had an awkward moment when I didn't know what to do with the checklist card - I couldn't keep it in my hand as I had cast it, I didn't want to put it on the battlefield in case I mistook it for a token (I sometimes use the back of cards for tokens), so I ended up making an awkward pile away from my graveyard (again so I didn't mistake it for my graveyard pile). I also had the problem of not knowing exactly what the cards did by name when having checklist cards in my hand, with extra awkwardness when drawing multiples (image below is my hand from turn 2 or 3 when I was playing against Liz)

Summary: DFC's are a bit awkward

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Last M12 draft - Winston Star

At Hemel last night was probably the last M12 draft I'll be doing. As there was only 5 of us, we did a different format than usual. We did a Winston Draft between the 5 players, planning to play the Star Format as there was 5 of us. 

I started off the draft, with nothing particularly interesting in either pile, but opted to take a Plummet in the last pile as it is somewhat alright (and going to have some targets with multiple opponents) as I didn't want to risk getting something worse. In hindsight, I should have taken the card off the top as it was Sorin's Vengeance which the person after me took. 

When the pick came round to me again, the first pile hadn't been taken and now had about 6 cards, so I took it as there were a few slightly alright cards. 

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Magic Deck: Terravore

As past of my clearing up of the cupboard where I store games (including Magic), I have re-discovered a variety of decks that I've not played in a while. One of these was a Terravore deck which I made a while ago and was a particular favourite of mine for a while. 

As with some of my other recent posts, I will look into what is in the deck at the moment, and think about cards to take out and replace with other ones. 

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

M12 draft: splashing Overrun

I went to another M12 draft yesterday, where I went 3-0 again (yay). 

The draft started off with a couple of potential colours, but it turned out that I was going to be heavy black so I stuck with that, picking up a few cards from other colours in case I wanted to splash, which I did in the end (I don't think I had enough to make a mono colour deck). 

Monday, 29 August 2011

Lifegain deck update

After a look through a couple of recent sets, I found some cards to put into the first deck I made, a White lifegain deck (now with extra green). I initially singled out some of the cards I wanted to remove, then look for some replacements. 

Looking back: My first Magic deck

I started playing Magic back in my first year of Uni, I had started going along to the Sci-Fi film nights, and one of the people running it told me about the second night the club also ran, for gaming. 

When I went along with some friends, I think all the regulars were playing was Magic (there was a handful of people there, enough for a multiplayer game that wasn't too big). We watched a few games to get the jist of it, then borrowed some decks off people there (I think the first time me and my two mates piloted the same deck as one), and we borrowed other peoples decks for the next week or so to learn the game. 

Saturday, 27 August 2011

UBr Draw/Discard casual deck update

When I was last looking at my old casual decks, I said I would update them if possible, and I have done, albeit very slightly. 

This is an update on the Black/Blue/Red draw-discard based deck, build around Underworld Dreams and Megrim

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Fast M12 draft deck (& first picks)

I went to the usual Hemel draft yesterday. It was M12, so this would be the third time I have drafted it so far I think. Last time I had a fast blue deck. 

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

M12 (almost) mono blue Draft (and first picks)

After not being able to go draft for a while, I finally managed to get to Hemel to do a M12 draft yesterday. So this post will briefly cover that, and after look at the packs I won and think about first picks from them. 

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Old casual Magic decks

I have been sorting out my Magic card collection and came across some old casual decks I used to play, and thought I would have a look at a few and update some, ready for whenever I get a chance to play casually with friends again. 

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

M12 First picks

I did a practice sealed with Liz earlier today, to try and improve a bit after doing badly at the weekend. Deck I made was fairly similar to my last sealed deck, although with a bit less removal, but this time I had a Sorin's Vengeance - a card that I have nicknamed "I win" because every time I have seen it resolve, it wins the caster the game. 

Monday, 18 July 2011

M12 Release

I went to the M12 release event at my usual place, as the London pre-release I usually go to wasn't running, it was the first time I got to play with the new cards. 

In general, I think the set is quite fun. I didn't do very well on the day (a mixture of my opponents being very good, but mainly me playing badly). 

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Commander: Skullbriar, the Walking Grave

After seeing Skullbriar, the Walking Grave, I thought it was an interesting card and wanted to build a Commander deck with it. This post covers my thoughts about the card and the deck I built, including the cards that I used to build the deck, why I chose some of them and what some of the synergies are. 

I think it appeals to the three main player types (Timmy, Johnny, Spike) fairly well. It appeals to Timmy because it is a creature that can swing for huge amounts. It appeals to Johnny because of the keeping counters between zones. It appeals to Spike (although Commander is usually casual, I'm sure there are Spikes playing it) because it is aggressive and keeps its advantages (counters) between zones. 

I like it as a commander because you can play it early and attack with it, so it is relevant in the early game. Also, so long as you keep on hitting your opponents, it scales nicely with other creatures being played. Later on in the game, it is still a strong commander if it managed to get a few +1/+1 counters on it - it can be somewhat risky with low CMC commanders that they have less of an effect later on in the game, and on the other hand, commanders with really powerful effects usually cost a lot of mana, but this doesn't have those drawbacks. 

It also encourages attacking and using it aggressively because, well, if it dies (hopefully trading something), you can get it back and it is the same size (you don't have to start over again). The cheap cost means that playing it from the command zone a few consecutive times isn't going to be greatly prohibitive. 

After a bit of planning and searching through gatherer (and my current card collection), I put together a deck (deck list at the bottom of this post). 

Here are some of the synergies of some of the card choices I made for the deck. 

RancorAspect of MongooseFallen IdealLoxodon Warhammer 
These are a couple of things to boost the commander (or another creature if needed), that can be reusable. Three of them return to my hand to be re-cast, and the other is a decent equipment that I can re-equip when Skullbriar re-played. 

Noxious RevivalGolgari GuildmageEvolution CharmStitch TogetherRise from the Grave 
Returning things from my graveyard, to a mixture of my hand/library/battlefield. I sent an email to The Mana Pool recently about Skullbriar as I had concerns about  it getting a -1/-1 counter and not being able to play it again as it would die before I could do anything to remove the -1/-1 counter, so I ensured I had a selection to return it to my hand or library to remove the counters if I wanted. 

Some static effects that stay around regardless of whether Skullbriar is in play or not. 

+1/+1 Counters
The most common counter in Magic (I think) is +1/+1 counters, so there are a lot of ways to add these counters, and some other creatures that benefit from them (in the case that I can't put counters on Skullbriar)

Bramblewood Paragon
Most of the creatures in the deck are associated with +1/+1 counters, and while the first ability might not always trigger as I don't think there are many Warriors, anything with a +1/+1 counter will have trample, which ups the aggression in the deck considerably. 

Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
There are more green cards in the deck than black cards, so the effect to put counters on them is relevant a lot of the time. The downside is that it only effects creatures that entered the battlefield this turn, but Skullbriar can enter the battlefield multiple times if it dies, keeping the counters each time, so it is relatively powerful. 

Simic InitiateAquastrand SpiderFungal BehemothCytoplast Root-KinSoul's MightLlanowar Reborn
Among other cards, a selection of ways to add counters to creatures. 

My favourite combination is casting Soul's Might on a Fungal Behemoth :)

A few creatures that benefit from having counters (there is a lot of putting counters on my creatures, so if Skullbriar is unavailable, these will quite happily have extra counters). 

So far I have only managed to play one game since creating the deck, against Liz playing the Kaalia of the Vast pre-made Commander deck (since I got the set of pre-made decks to play with her, this has been her favourite; I don't think I've had a chance to play it myself). 

The game was close, I got to play Skullbriar a few times, and it was still relevant as the game progressed, and was slowly adding up some counters. Oran-Rief, the Vastwood was powerful, but did slow me down a little (as I needed to tap it for the effect, I was effectively a turn behind). 

In the end I lost against a free Angel, but it was a very close game and, most importantly, a fun game. 

This is the current card list, I think there are a few cards I am not too sure on so might replace later on (will have to see what's good in later sets). Doubling Season seems a bit too obvious (and is fairly expensive to buy), but is something I may consider in the future. I haven't included the 'Commander Staples' of Sol Ring (they're all in the pre-made decks at the moment, and a lot of the spells in this deck are colour intensive) and Lightning Greaves (commander already has haste, and I would like to target it to add extra counters). 

Some of the effects return cards from the graveyard to my hand or library, while this means Skullbriar will lose its counters, if it has a -1/-1 counter, I would like it to return to my hand or library to re-set it. 

Commander: Skullbriar, the Walking Grave

Scute Mob - A cheap creature that can be relevant in the later game
Simic Initiate - A great turn one play to follow with a turn two Skullbriar
Predatory Hunger - When I first started playing Magic, someone lent me a deck with this to play multiplayer with. It was awesome
Rancor - Reusable, powerful
Battlegrowth - Eh, it gives a +1/+1 counter if something needs it
Noxious Revival - Returns something, not great but decent enough

Aquastrand Spider - Early Graft creature, can be helpful as the deck doesn't have a lot of flying
Golgari Guildmage - Efficient. The green ability is great with the commander, the black ability is handy if Skullbriar dies with a -1/-1 counter on it
Bramblewood Paragon - Gives Skullbriar trample (if it has a counter), to help encourage more counters :D
Earthbrawn - Pump in a pinch, or just an extra counter 
Evolution Charm - A selection of options, helpful for a Skullbriar -1/-1 counter situation, or to get some more land to play more stuff!
Stitch Together - Some interesting recursion
Demonic Tutor - Go find something awesome
Golgari Signet - Acceleration 
Contagion Clasp - Kill opponents creatures, proliferate my +1/+1 counters
Aspect of Mongoose - Reusable enchantment to make Skullbriar harder to kill
Quest for the Gemblades - Add a load of counters to Skullbriar

Shambling Shell - Reusable counter adding
Hunting Moa - More counters
Spike Feeder - Use of counters
Fertilid - This likes having counters of its own, and is a great target for additional counters apart from Skullbriar
Dismember - Excellent removal
Grim Affliction - Removal and increasing my own +1/+1 counter, erm, count
Beast Within - Catch all removal
Putrefy - More removal
Beseech the Queen - Search for stuff (I think I play this in any Black Commander deck)
Cultivate - Efficient acceleration
Mighty Emergence - Once Skullbriar has a few counters, this triggers each time you re-play it
Beastmaster Ascension - Make stuff bigger. It likes the few proliferate spells, and the deck is mainly combat focused
Fallen Ideal - Reusable enchantment, and one of the few ways to deal with flying
Loxodon Warhammer - A powerful card that can be re-equipped when needed
Tumble Magnet - Appreciates the proliferate spells
Dragon Blood - A simple way to continuously add counters

Cytoplast Root-Kin - An awesome card to spread the counter love :D
Fungal Behemoth - Slowly adds counters and then benefits from them
Creakwood Liege - Pumps creatures, and creates some more if needed
Forgotten Ancient - An interesting way to use counters
Fangren Firstborn - The goal of the deck is to attack anyway, I may as well benefit from being so...
Sporeback Troll - More graft
Garruk Wildspeaker - Lots of options with a planeswalker 
Hunting Triad - Creatures if needed, or a load of counters
Vigor Mortis - Recursion, with added counter bonus

Vulturous Zombie - Gets counters of its own, and is pretty fun in multiplayer
Spiritmonger - Gets counters, regenerates
Ob Nixilis, the Fallen - Gets counters of its own (there are a few cards that get their own counters, but that doesn't mean they don't appreciate extra ones)
Plaguemaw Beast - Repeatable proliferation
Liliana Vess - Planeswalker abilities can be useful
Incremental Growth - Lots of counters! :D
Soul's Might - Adding a huge chunk of counters if you're lucky. Nice synergy with Fungal Behemoth
Spread the Sickness - Removal AND proliferate? Yes please
Rise from the Grave - Returning stuff
Angelheart Vial - Likes counters, card advantage

Vigor - Gives out many counters
Jugan, the Rising Star - Gives out counters
Simic Basilisk - Graft
Triskelion - Likes extra counters (fun with graft)
Brutalizer Exarch - Utility (the remove-a-problem-non-creature-permanent has been useful when I've played it before)
Contagion Engine - Kill an opponents creatures, multiple, repeatable proliferate. Sweet

Cytospawn Shambler - More graft

Decree of Savagery - Yay counters :D

Protean Hydra - Gets some of its own counters (tempted to replace with the one that doubles its counters that's been previewed in M12...)
Strength of the Tajuru - Addings lots of counters
Profane Command - Handy utility

Command Tower - Mana fixing
Rupture Spire - Mana fixing
Overgrown Tomb - Mana fixing
Llanowar Wastes - Mana fixing
Golgari Rot Farm  - Mana fixing
Terramorphic Expanse - Mana fixing
Evolving Wilds - Mana fixing
Vivid Grove  - Mana fixing
Llanowar Reborn - Extra counter
Oran-Rief, the Vastwood - Extra counters
Havenwood Battleground - Acceleration if needed
Slippery Karst - Can be useful
Vivid Marsh - Mana fixing
Polluted Mire - Can be useful
14 Forest - Well, kind of essential
8 Swamp - See above

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Perception of time

Having just done my first week back at work after a week and a half off, I've noticed that the time seemed to pass at different speeds each time.

Luckily, the time off seemed to last and the time working went fairly quickly. I don't usually notice it as the weekends seem to go at the same speed (or at least my perception of it), so its only really apparent when I have longer off. The only time I really notice the working week has gone fast is when its seeming suddenly got to Friday. Long term, it doesn't seem as though I've been working for as long as I have since finishing my masters (which, granted, has been less than a year, but it doesn't seem like anywhere near it).

As said, this is just my perception of the time passing. Maybe the seemingly quicker weeks is because my sleeping pattern has changed from late nights and sleep ins when I was a student to early mornings for work.

Part of me thinks I should be more productive in my spare time, albeit the small amount of it that I have, but the problem then comes of not being able to think of anything productive I can be doing for a few hours after work with less energy than I'd like as I've been at work all day. Think I'll just stick with relaxing in my spare time for the time being, seems to be working for me for the moment :)

Friday, 27 May 2011

New Phyrexia first picks

Now I have played some games with the new set, and done a draft or two, I thought I'd look over a couple of packs and see what I would pick if  had just opened it in a draft. I have four packs to look over today, what I usually do is pick out the top couple that I would consider picking and compare them before choosing one (and maybe a second, as in if that card wasn't in there or I had just been passed the pack). I only do the top few because it keeps my ramblings down, and there isn't too much to learn about comparing mediocre draft cards. 

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Drafting New Phyrexia

I have now done two drafts using New Phyrexia, so have a little bit of a better feel for the format. The first draft was triple New Phyrexia, which was just fun, I thought I was drafting infect, but most of that was the creatures that gain infect when an opponent is poisoned... somewhat deceptive! I did appreciate the green creature that puts stuff on the bottom of your opponents library, that helped me a few times. 

The second draft I did was doing it the proper way - New Phyrexia, followed by Mirrodin Besieged, followed by Scars of Mirrodin, so will be more informative to usual drafting of the set. We had a fair few people coming along so had about 13 people in one large pod. 

Friday, 13 May 2011

New Phyrexia!

I got some New Phyrexia cards in the post today, impressed that I got an hour window for it to be delivered and it came right at the start of the window. As I had a bit of time before leaving for work, I opened two packs to have a look at the new cards properly for the first time. I have to say I was very impressed. 

Thursday, 12 May 2011

(Probably) last Besieged First picks

Its unlikely I'll be drafting the Scars of Mirrodin block using Mirrodin Besieged set as the first pack again, but I got two packs from the draft last night as prizes, so thought I may as well. 

Last MBS/SOM Draft

I went to Hemel last Tuesday for the last draft before New Phyrexia comes out. Didn't manage to make it to a pre-release unfortunately so haven't played with any new cards yet. 

Monday, 25 April 2011

Thoughts on Phyrexian Mana

Since the whole of the next M:TG set (New Phyrexia) has been spolied early, I thought I'd have a look through the new Phyrexian mana and see what cards would be worth playing with in different formats. It's a shame the whole set was spoiled early, usually the whole set is available from Wizards the day before the pre-release, (which I think is a little too close as there's not much time to absorb all the information, a day or two earlier than that would be nice), butthis was unexpectedly spoiled a couple of weeks early, which I think is a bit too early as the pre-release isn't for a few weeks. The whole set is now available on the main site, a little while after it was unofficially spoiled on the internet.

In this posting, I am going to look at all the cards that cost Phyrexian mana (PX is one Phyrexian mana of the colour specified by the standard WUBRG notation); the ones you can either pay the one coloured mana for, or two life, and some of the artifacts that have an ability that uses this mana. In Mark Rosewaters column on the subject, he said "I'll write an article soon about the impact of Phyrexian mana on the color pie—it's too big an issue to discuss today", which is a pretty big understatement, as the spilling of effects is very severe in some cases (but hey, at least there's no 'destroy enchantment' that red or black can get to play). I will be looking at limited (drafting mainly), constructed (standard, I follow it a bit and use some sort of rogue deck when I do play occasionally) and casual (fairly general, probably thinking about multi-player as it's what I usually play if I'm not playing the above two formats).

Friday, 22 April 2011

New computer

I got a new computer the other day, a net top one. Quite cheap, just the base unit (although a mouse and keyboard came too which was handy). I set it up to connect to one of the two monitors I use for my other computer, which luckily has two input ports so I can switch screens if I have both on (although I confuse myself with both on as I have to remember which keyboard and mouse to use). 

Thursday, 14 April 2011

New deck: Mono-B Infect

Most of the time I have drafted since Scars of Mirrodin came out (which isn't a huge amount), I tend to be tempted towards playing infect, and have done so more often than not. This is probably also shown through some of the draft pick posts I've written. Infect is fun to play (at least I think so anyway), and I particularly like playing the strategy during the Mirrodin Besieged release, so I put together an infect standard deck. I've been putting it together for a little while, but haven't had much of a chance to play Magic at all recently, so have been unable to test it. At the draft I went to the other day I did manage to play it a couple of times between rounds, and it seemed to do OK, so I'm going to write about it here. 

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

What to pick... (MBS first picks again)

Its been a while since I went to a draft, but went along to Hemel last night and had some fun. Deck seemed to be mainly removal and infect creatures, and I had a couple of fast games. Won two of three rounds, so got two boosters as prizes and, as I've done a few times now, had a look through each one to decide what I would be picking first were I to start a draft opening each pack. 

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Some more MBS first picks

After playing a sealed for fun with Liz, we opened two spare packs I had lying around and picked out what we would take first in a draft (see photo below for the top 3).

Tuesday, 29 March 2011


Nearly 6 years ago, for my 18th birthday, my Mum hired a coach and a large group of family and friends went down to Southend for the day to celebrate.

Last weekend, it was my brothers turn for his 21st.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Star gazing

After my recent failed attempts at trying to spot the ISS, its orbit moved such that it wouldn't be visible from the UK. Earlier today I found a site that was recording the brightness of stars in the sky, to see the effect of light polution in different places.

I don't remember much in the way of seeing stars from my previous times I had gone out to look (although we did see the bright moon recently), so thought I would be able to contribute by informing them that Luton is pretty bad for star gazing. I went outside to have a quick look and was amazed... I could actually see some stars!

I went back inside to put some shoes on for a proper look, and made a quick sketch of the constellation the site was interested in (Leo). Returning to the garden, excited at actually being able to see something but clouds for once, I started searching the sky for constellation I had sketched...

From what I got from the site, I was supposed to be looking south, so pointed myself in that direction using the tricorder app on my phone (I already knew roughly which way it was, but it makes the Star Trek noises). While it was possible to see some stars in the sky, there were not as many as I was expecting, and not enough to make the constellation I was searching for.

I turned around to face north, in case I had made a mistake about the direction I should be looking in, but there were even less stars there, and the red glow coming from Luton town centre wasn't helping one bit. I turned around to search all over the sky, but accepted that the stars were not bright enough to be able to see that much.

Somewhat dissapointed, I went back inside, and filled out the form to indicate the visibility in this area, not the worse as I could actually see some stars, but the second worse as there were only a small few that I could actually see.

It is a bit unfortunate that there isn't much to look at in the sky in Luton, but I'm seeing the positive side that at least I got to see a few stars, instead of just dark clouds in an empty sky.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Releasing the Android App

After some further developments to the Life & Poison Counter app I've added to from an existing open source project, I uploaded it to the Android Marketplace, here:
As mentioned in the description, it is a free M:TG app with no ads that allow you to keep track of life and poison counter totals.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Looking for the ISS

Have started looking out for the ISS passing over Luton in the evening, to see if I could see it. Tried last night but is was too cloudy. Tonight me and Liz went out to see if we could spot it, but it was still fairly cloudy out. Liz commented that as it was cloudy out we wouldn't even be able to see a plane fly over (which is apparently what the ISS would look like). A moment later, I turned to the side and pointed out a plane landing at the airport about half a mile from the house, clearly visible and huge.

Obviously, it wasn't what she meant (she was talking about planes high up not landed), but the timing of it did make me laugh :D

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Android Developing: Magic life/poison counter

After years of having a fairly old mobile phone, I got a new one last week; HTC Desire Z. It has a keyboard which is handy (I've tried using the touch screen keyboard too, I prefer the physical one), and is defiantly a step up from the second-hand-off-my-cousin phone I previously had. 

I've spent a minimal amount of time looking over some of the applications on the android marketplace, I looked over some Magic: The Gathering life keeping apps, and eventually found one that was free, and didn't have ads (which apparently a lot of free apps do have): Life Counter. I was extra impressed as it was an open source app, so installed it and used it against a game or so with Liz, and it was quite handy, a low number of features, but all that was needed to help me keep the score. 

Well, almost everything...

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Some Mirrodin Besieged first picks

After playing some two person sealed deck with Liz for fun (and getting used to the new set), and after I got easily beaten three times in a row by a super-powered infect deck, we had a look through some packs to see what we would pick first and second, if we were opening them in an actual draft. For three of the packs, I set aside three or four that I would consider picking first, for some further analysis on here (feel free to add any comments about your thoughts!)

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Drafting, and the power of infect

On Tuesday me and Liz headed over to Hemel for drafting the new Magic the Gathering set. The drafting format was Mirrodin Besieged, Mirrodin Besieged, Scars of Mirrodin, and was the first time I had drafted with the new set, and the first time Liz had played with it at all. 

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Mirrodin Besieged Hemel Release

Went to the Hemel Mirrodin Besieged release last weekend, run by Rob. Had originally planned to go with Liz, but she was feeling unwell, tired and had work to do so stayed home that Sunday instead. 

Copyright in the current age: are we losing our cultural heritage?

For one reason or another, I recently had a few thoughts about copyright. I recall that I started thinking about it a few days ago, started writing this post, then left it for a bit to come back to. Its a subject I have followed in the news for some time (notably with the 'speculative invoicing' that has been in and out of the news sites multiple times in the last few years), and one I was interested in when it was covered in one of the modules I did for my Masters Degree. 

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Drafting Magic: Online

For the first time since I installed the Magic Online client, I participated in a draft online. Well, two actually (M11 followed by Scars of Mirrodin). The first one (M11) I didn't do too well in, but still had fun, and the second (SOM) I managed to win (both were Swiss drafts, i.e. 3 rounds, no knock-out). 

Saturday, 1 January 2011


2010 is over, and thus starts 2011. For the first time in a fair few years, I've not got much of a year plan. Although for the last 5 years my next-year plan has been along the lines of finish current academic year and start a new academic year. Now I am working, I have no such plans apart from continue working. Will have to see where that takes me.