Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Christmas 2013

Compared to last year, our Christmas was a lot quieter. It was just me, Liz and Kaleb. In the morning when Kaleb got up we took him downstairs to open up some of his presents. We had planned to have sausages for breakfast but found out they'd been put in the freezer so I took them out so they'd be ready later and we had bacon instead.

Kaleb opened a couple of presents and talked to Liz's mum on the phone. A bit later we did a hangout with Chris at mums house and Kaleb was greeted with my mum in a Santa hat signing carols. 

While Liz was busy getting dinner ready, I took Kaleb outside into the garden for some fresh air. When the last bit of dinner was in the oven, Liz joined us and we had a wander down the road with Kaleb.

We had dinner with a bit left over for tea and did another hangout with Chris who was now with dad and his parents. Kaleb opened some more presents before having a nap.

Me and Liz played the winter version of Carcassonne that she got me for X'mas while Kaleb napped. After his nap we finished opening Kaleb's presents and had some tea (leftover turkey).

On boxing day, we were picked up by my mum and went to her house where Kaleb opened a box of chocolates because he decided they required moving to the lid instead.

Once my grandparents arrived we had dinner and pulled some crackers, however Kaleb didn't like the idea of wearing a cracker hat. After dinner we opened some presents with Kaleb before heading over to my aunts house to see some of my dad's family. 

Dad gave us a lift home after a quick bite to eat at his house and we got Kaleb to have a sleep after a long and busy two days. 

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Theros first picks

Due to doing well at a recent tournament, I have some Theros packs to look through, so I'll think about what I would choose if I opened it in a draft (as I don't get to draft very often, just doing the thinking about it helps).

Pack A
This pack has: Fleshmad Steed, Breaching Hippocamp, Fleetfeather Sandals, Aqueous Form, Nylea's Presence, Divine Verdict, Traveler's Amulet, Two-Headed Cerberus, Setessan Griffin, Pharika's Cure, Triton Tactics, Battlewise Hoplite, Shipwreck Singer, Abhorrent Overlord

I think Cure and Verdict come under consideration as removal, as does Triton Tactics which can potentially be more effective given the right circumstances. The Abhorrent Overlord is expensive, but given the right deck can be quite powerful. For me, it's quite close between Verdict and Overlord and my answer would probably depend on what mood I was in :) Verdict is good for consistency, but the overlord seems fun so I'd probably pick that. My last couple of drafts seemed to end up Green and/or black so for me the black card would be better as I'm more used to that play style.

Pack B
Battlewise Valor, Feral Invocation, Boulderfall, Loathsome Catoblepas, Griptide, Gods Willing, Omenspeaker, Sedge Scorpion, Prescient Chimera, Timed Ox, Magma Jet, Heliod's Emissary, Horizon Chimera, Celestial Archon

I took cards out of this pack when I found an interesting one. The first was Feral Invocation, which I like as a persistent surprise. Next was Griptide which is good for tempo and better on a target with an aura, but between the two I'd probably pick the Invocation.

Then I set aside Gods Willing, which is good as it will protect against the already small amount of removal in the format. Sedge Scorpion is also one to consider as the death touch makes it close to removal. Magma Jet is also powerful, killing smaller creatures and smoothing the next turn or two.

I think, however, that Heliod's Emissary and Celestial Archon are the two more powerful cards in the pack. The Elk has the benefit of being possible to splash in a deck and the creature side is cheaper, but I think the Celestial Archon is the pick here due to the higher power. The bestow cost is essentially the same, but for a more powerful effect.

Pack C
Nessian Asp, Nimbus Naiad, Messengers Speed, March of the Returned, Unknown Shores, Benthic Giant, Returned Phalanx, Silent Artisan, Satyr Hedonist, Traveler's Amulet, Spellheart Chimera, Stoneshock Giant, Insatiable Harpy, Nepotism Charlatan

The 4 I like from this pack are Nessian Asp, Nimbus Naiad, Stoneshock Giant, Insatiable Harpy. The Asp and Giant are quite similar, but I think I prefer the Asp here as the monstrosity is cheaper and larger, and the reach is going to be useful over multiple turns as opposed to the one off effect of the giant. I quite like the Harpy here, as it is possible to increase the power and get a better effect from the lifegain. The Naiad is aggressively costed which I think gives it the edge over the harpy, but for this pack I think the asp is the best choice here.

Pack D
Boon of Erebos, Deathbellow Raider, Breaching Hippocamp, Bronze Sable, Nessian Courser, Fleshmad Steed, Wavecrash Triton, Wild Celebrants, Opaline Unicorn, Evangel of Heliod, Witches Eye, Centaur Battlemaster, Chained to the Rocks, foil Ordeal of Erebos

I have seem Evangel of Heloid make a lot of tokens so I know it can be powerful. Wavecrash Triton looks good if if can be repeated, but I think Centaur Battlemaster is the most powerful here, the bonus it gets even if targeted once is impressive.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Tournament: Modern Infect

This Friday I went along to a Modern tournament. I'm trying to get some Magic playing in occasionally when I can, and having a selection of formats that I can play in means I am more likely to be able to play in an event at a time that suits me. 

As I have blogged about previously, my go-to Modern deck is a modified infect deck back when infect was in standard. I have changed the removal around a little bit after thinking about what I needed, and changed a sideboard around a little bit. Here is the decklist:

4 Vampire's Bite - A good amount of extra pump. The lifelink later on can be sometimes handy

2 Mutagenic Growth - A nice surprise (for me). This is one of the card on the "edge" - cards that I like, but are one of the first for consideration if I am looking for something to cut. Didn't really use them all that much this tournament. 

1 Thoughtseize - I opened a Thoughtseize! Just the one. I am currently trying to figure out how many I want of these and how many Inquisitions. Whenever I cast Thoughtseize, I note whether I could have gotten the card with just an Inquisition, if it is a fairly common occurrence, then I don't mind not having a full 4 Thoughtseizes if I can't get a full 4. Obviously Thoughtseize is generally going to be better, but there are a couple of places where I am already paying life which I would like to keep to a minimum if possible, so don't mind playing under 4 if Inquisition is "good enough". 

3 Inquisition of Kozilek - The other half of checking out the Thoughtseize/Inquisition split is noting down whenever I cast an Inquisition and saw I card I would have rather gotten but had a converted mana cost greater than 3. Inquisition is usually good enough against most decks, apart from Tron. 

2 Bonesplitter - I've had one game where I had two of these and no creatures, but as there is a limited amount of Infect creatures I'd like to run, I think 2 is enough for now. I don't think more than two is good though. 

4 Plague Stinger - Mainly here to up my Infect creature count, but it also has evasion which is useful. 

3 Devour Flesh - A lot of the decks I have played against seem to just get one creature out, in which case this will get it, with a bonus of being able to get hexproof and indestructible creatures. As I win by poison counters, I don't care about the lifegain at all. 

2 Rime Transfusion - I have not seen a snow creature played against me so far. 

4 Phyrexian Crusader - My favourite card in the deck. I have talked at length about this card on a number of occasions, and don't really have anything to add. 

3 Dismember - This is the replacement for my previous targeted removal. I think it should cover most situations, but didn't really draw it in the tournament. 

3 Read the Bones - While I did have one game stuck on two lands with this in hand, I much prefer this to Night's Whisper. 

1 Tezzeret's Gambit - I might replace this with another Read the Bones; I played it once and I don't think the extra poison counter really mattered that much. 

4 Phyrexian Vatmother - I don't often see many creatures bigger than this. If I do, they usually don't stay that big...

1 Liliana of the Dark Realms - I think one here is better than the two I was playing previously. 

4 Inkmoth Nexus
19 Snow Covered Swamp

1 Dismember - Just an extra one really - this is a sideboard slot that I don't know exactly what  I want

2 Sadistic Sacrament - I think I would like one more if I can get it. It can come in quite handy. 

3 Infest - I think it it more I don't get to play against decks that they're good against than anything against the cards themselves. Whenever I sideboard them in, I don't seem to draw them. 

1 Damnation - An improved Infest, gets bigger stuff. 

4 Pithing Needle - Probably my most sideboarded in card, to the point where I could consider playing them main deck

4 Nihil Spellbomb - This is in a similar camp as Infest; good against some decks, I just don't seem to play against them that often. 

The tournament was 4 rounds long, but I can't remember exactly how many people were playing. It was less than the huge tournament that had previously been held, however. 

Round 1 - Hexproof
My opponent had planned to play another deck, but didn't get the cards in time, so were playing a slightly modified pre-rotation hexproof deck. Unfortunately they had some bad draws so lost both games. 

Sideboarding: I took out the Dismembers as they can't target anything and I think I put in some Infests and the Damnation

Round 2 - BR Death trigger
This deck was fairly efficient creatures with a sacrifice/deathtrigger subtheme which was interesting to play against. First game was a turn 3 Liliana of the Veil, and I don't really have enough creatures to fight that properly, so I lost eventually. The second game was a lot closer, but I think I may have played too aggressively, and lost to a hasty vampire. 

Sideboarding: In went the pithing needles for the Liliana (I think I named a Blasting Station in the second game). They had a couple of smaller creatures in addition to Geralfs Messenger, so I took out the Devour Flesh as my opponent gets to choose and seemed to want to sometimes sacrifice some creatures anyway. 

Round 3 - White lifegain
I think I was probably the worst matchup possible for my opponent. There was a close first game as they created some large creatures, however the Crusaders could attack and be pumped without worrying too much. I also won the second game after my opponent had a low land start for a couple of turns. 

Sideboarding: Infest for Devour Flesh (didn't want them gaining extra life, plus they had a lot of small creatures)

Round 4 - Tron
Probably one of my worse matchups (I suspect Maleria Pod might be worse, but I am yet to play against that). I was able to get through a beat a turn three Tron, I think with the Inkmoths and pump mainly. In the second game, I slowed them down dramatically (turn three Sadistic Sacrament, saw they didn't have a Tower and found all 4 in the deck, so removed three of them; I also played three Pithing Needles naming some of the cards they had out), but eventually succumbed to Wurmcoil Engine tokens. I think I was a turn away from losing the third game, but had some extra pump on a Crusader with Rime Transfusion, so won with two hits. 

Sideboarding: Pithing Needles and Sadistic Sacrament. Dismember and Inquisition are less good here so I took them out. 

Final record: 3-1. I think I came 4th. 

I did a lot better this time around then before, so I would like to think the extra changes help. I am more pleased with the numbers of a couple of the cards that I had too many of before, and really like Read the Bones. 

The next lot of changes I'm considering are just really minor ones; mainly trying out more Thoughtseizes and an extra Read the Bones. I may consider the removal suite more, but I am happy with it for now. 

Thursday, 31 October 2013


I've enjoyed myself immensely since becoming a father. It's great watching Kaleb grow and learn. He seems great at figuring out how things work. Enjoying it so much that we're going to have another little one in March.

Having gotten used to chasing Kaleb around as he runs around the house, it will be interesting to be able to put his sibling down somewhere and for them to not move anywhere.

We wonder if Kaleb picked up on it as he has occasionally rested his head and blown rasberries on Liz's tummy as though he knows a little person is in there. He doesn't do it to anyone else, but I don't in new if I'm reading too much into it.

once we found out and had the first scan, it was later on than we initially thought, so the second scan came about a lot sooner than before.

It'll be interesting if it is born on it's due date, as that is Liz's birthday...

It is all very exciting :-D 

Monday, 23 September 2013

Theros Prerelease

As usual, I picked the Sunday prerelease at the Comic Shop for the Theros prerelease, mainly as it means I don't have to stay up as late (I have a son who is teething to do that...). As a change from my usual preparation, I didn't have time to finish listening to the Limited Resources podcast beforehand. 

I arrived in St Albans fairly early on, so wandered around briefly before waiting around outside for the shop to open. Before registration, I let Kaleb have a wander around before his granddad picked him up to look after him for the day. This did involve a couple of dashes outside to the courtyard (and to some probably wet socks). 

Getting started, I picked the green path. I was considering the black one, but wasn't impressed by the promo. Well, I wasn't blown away by any of the promos really, and green looked interesting, plus I liked the Hero card. 

Opening my pool, none of my colours seemed particularly deep, with a lot of just random bits in all the colours. I was going to be green regardless, just because I had more cards in that colour, most of which were decent enough, so went around narrowing down a second colour. Blue and White didn't seem to have a high amount of playables, and black seemed a little too thin. Some expensive removal and 2 Read the Bones, but nothing that exciting, so I went with red. This choice was helped by a number of removal spells in red.

My deck was fairly aggressive, with a little bit of reach for longer games, and overall I think I was helped by a lot of removal that I could use, and some sizable creatures. 

To be honest, I thought the deck was fairly mediocre. But I managed to go 4-1 (lost in the finals), so it can't have been that bad. 

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Modern removal

This is sort of a follow on from my last post about the mono black infect deck I've been putting together. So far I have found a good sideboard card to try out so will try to get two more copies, this card being Sadistic Sacrament. Three mana is about the top end I want to be hitting for sideboard cards, and this is one that doesn't require a card to already be in my opponents graveyard.

I have also taken out a Liliana and a Rime Transfusion for two extra Plague Stingers. I've been thinking about replacing the Night's Whispers too, initially with Tezeret's Gambit, but that new card in Theros (Scry 2, draw 2, lose 2) looks equally interesting so I want to play two of each to see if one is better.

Also in Theros is Thoughtsieze which I mentioned I would like to get. Will initially just replace Inquisition with them as I get them, but I'd ideally like to play 4 Thoughtsieze and 2 Inquisition, but I'm not sure what to take out for the two extra.

I've been mulling over my removal suite. I've taken out Devour in Shadow and Disfigure for an extra Devour Flesh and Dismember (3 of each). My reasoning is that I'm usually going to be wanting to remove just one creature, so Devour Flesh does that fine while getting around indestructible and Hexproof and, as previously mentioned, the infect deck doesn't care about life gain.

I've put Dismember in as it is a good Disfigure replacement as I can cast it for one mana if I really need to, and it will kill a lot more. The bonus over Devour in Shadow is that I can spend less life sometimes and it gets around indestructible in addition to regeneration (which Devour in Shadow also gets around). Devour Flesh should handle anything over 5 toughness, but -1/-1 counters from my creatures will also shrink things down into Dismember range. The big creatures that I saw at the tournament aren't affected by Devour in Shadow anyway (both Eldrazi, one indestructible, one has protection from coloured spells, so Devour Flesh is better here as it will actually do something).

I'm not sure what I need for mass removal. Infest seems reasonable for now in the sideboard, but I'll have to play some more creature heavy decks to make up my mind. I'm not sure whether Damnation would be better here or whether the extra mana is too much of a drawback. Similarly for Mutilate, but I think Damnation would be better in that case anyway.

I'm not sure when I'll next get a chance to play the deck, hopefully I'll be able to update it some more first.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Modern Infect

After the popularity of Modern Masters, Chaos City (St Albans) decided to hold a modern tournament. It was announced well in advance to allow everyone to build decks if they didn't have one, and get cards etc.

Not sure what to play, I went with an old standard deck I had, which I had updated once already.

In the second incarnation, I lost the Vampires Bites as they had rotated out, but I could add then back in to update the deck to play in modern. I also changed it a bit to make it more efficient.

On the night, I went 3-2, coming 14 out of about 30, which I'm fairly happy about, it being the first time I've played modern and all.

Here is the deck list, somewhat organised into sections, with commentary of the reasons I put it in the deck and what I thought about playing it.

The main core of the deck; the path to victory. I think I need to play a couple more, although I think I did OK with this number.

2 Plague Stinger - this was an extra source of infect, cheap and with evasion. I think the deck needs more creatures and this is on my list of creatures to add to increase the numbers. Did have one get Pyroclasm'd as the only creature out, so if my opponents are that desperate to get rid of it, it is certainly worth considering

4 Phyrexian Crusader - I've said before this is the best card in the deck, and it's still true. A short list of spot removal in modern this dodges: Lightning Bolt, Path to Exile, Lightning Helix, Doom Blade, Victim of Night.

4 Phyrexian Vatmother - this is the top end of the curve and mainly here to finish games. It's hard to find something bigger for a similar cost, and if you do, this will shrink it down significantly. I had two out at once one game and didn't get close to poisoning myself.

This is to speed up a victory with the creatures. Some as a surprise and some on board.

4 Vampire's Bite - a decent amount of power for one mana. On an unblocked Crusader and they're on 5. On an unblocked Vatmother will do 7 in one hit. When the target is 10, those are good numbers. The lifelink can occasionally be useful, but as this deck runs no shock lands and no fetches, I don't often “start” on 17 or 15 so don't always need to catch up.

2 Bonesplitter - picked up these in Modern Masters drafting. I think they worked OK; a decent turn one play (better than just playing a land), and efficient equip cost. I can usually equip and play something else in the same turn which is nice. Plus activating and equipping to an Inkmoth Nexus only requires 3 land (for the same amount in poison counters).

2 Mutagenic Growth - nice as a surprise, even when tapped out. Part of me would like to play 4, but I'm not convinced on that. Don't think I got a chance to play one this tournament, but it has finished games for me before.

3 Rime Transfusion - wait, what's that? Coldsnap was an interesting block to say the least. I don't think I saw any snow creatures at all, which effectively makes one of my creatures unblockable, with a permanent boost (Crusader hits for 4 unopposed, Vatmother ends the game in two unblockable swings). This gives the deck inevitability. I think 3 is the correct number to play here; costs more than the other pump, less of a surprise and less mana efficient, but it is nice to see once in a game, especially if it is going on a bit longer.

2 Liliana of the Dark Realms - not the best Liliana, but works well in this deck. 4 mana is the top end anyway, but it is nice to get card advantage, and be sure you can play everything you draw. The middle ability is the important one, either getting rid of a problem creature, or a decent pump to one of mine,  possibly to finish a game. Even playing 2 I managed to get both in my hand one game and I seemed to want to be playing cheaper spells instead. I think I'll keep one for certain, but I'm unsure about the second one.

This is just a category for everything else. 

2 Devour Flesh - Good against hexproof/indestructible creatures, cheap, instant, and I don't care about my opponent gaining life. While I was playing, my opponents didn't have many creatures out that often anyway, so this would either get something good when I cast it, or, as it is cheap enough, I can cast it early enough that it will get their only creature on the board. 

2 Devour in Shadow - I had only found out about this one recently. Kills something unconditionally, which is great. Double back is doable in this deck (only 4 colourless lands, everything else gets me black mana). The life loss can be bad, but as I've mentioned, not running shocklands/fetches puts me in a good position against a lot of the other decks that might expect their opponents mana bases to lower their life for them. Can work nice with the Crusader - put -1/-1 counters on with first strike damage, and lose 2 less life when destroying it before it deals damage to the Crusader. 

2 Disfigure - These only cost 1 mana and can get a lot of annoying/utility creatures. Can also be handy to slow down fast starts, or even improve combat for my creatures. 

4 Inquisition of Kozilek - Nice to mess with my opponents early plays. As the deck is mono black, this is one of the ways to get rid of stuff I would otherwise have trouble with. The theory is that by turn 3 or 4, I should have a powerful infect creature out and ready to win in a turn or two. Unfortunately my first match was against a deck running the Urza lands, so I think Thoughtsieze would have been better here (maybe both would work well together). Heres hoping its in Theros :-)

4 Night's Whisper - Card Draw, helping me draw into extra creatures/pump. Sometimes helping smooth out land drops as I'm running 23. I chose this over Sign in Blood because I'm not killing my opponent with life loss so will hardly ever want to target them, and I can cast this off a Swamp and Inkmoth Nexus whereas I need two Swamps for the Sign in Blood. 

Need something to cast spells. 

19 Snow-Covered Swamp - Black mana, allows me to activate the ability granted by Rime Transfusion

4 Inkmoth Nexus - Extra infect creatures, and I have enough coloured mana that the colourless rarely affects what I can play. 

I had no idea what the meta game would be (I read about Modern decks sometimes, but the store hadn't run a Modern tournament so I didn't know what people would be playing), so got some more generic answers. 

2 Disfigure - For a total of 4. Kills less, but it means I have one drop removal which can help against really fast decks. 

1 Devour Flesh - For a total of 3. I had read about the hexproof deck recently, so wanted an extra spell that can deal with those

1 Devour in Shadow - For a total of 3. Just another targeted removal spell. 

3 Infest - I never sided these in, but then I never played any aggro decks that they would be useful for. If sideboards were 16 cards, I would probably play 4 here. I went down to three for the extra Disfigure though - it is a smaller version and as it is cheaper I can get one creature instead of many, but that will hopefully slow things down enough. The aggro strategies are more likely to be White or Red based, so Phyrexian Crusader will do more work than normal in those cases. 

4 Pithing Needle - I really like this card, usually in the sideboard (although I really enjoyed playing a Standard deck a few years back with this and Goblin Guide). It is my generic answer to something I might have trouble with otherwise. Mainly going to name a Planeswalker, although if I see a fetchland with Inquisition of Kozilek...

4 Nihil Spellbomb - Generic Graveyard hate. The instant speed card draw was useful when I sided it in against a discard deck

Sunday, 14 July 2013

M14 Prerelease

Following my now somewhat tradition of sporadic Magic playing, I went along to the M14 pre-release in St Albans earlier today. My preparation had been going over the visual spoiler a few days before and listening to most of the Limited Resources set review. 

As it was a nice hot day, the tables were outside instead of in the shop, in a sort-of-tunnel that goes from the road to the shop, so we had some shade to play in. A nearby shop seemed to be doing well by selling slices of watermelon, which was welcomed on the hot day. I had wandered around the farmers market before the tournament started, picking up a small lavender plant for Liz to cook with. 

When I opened my boosters, I came to the conclusion that all my colours were fairly strong. Blue was less strong and a colour I don't play much anyway, so set that aside. I set aside most of black as there wasn't too much there either, and half my white cards, so started putting together a red/green deck. 

I originally build the deck splashing just Doom Blade for black, but also splashing three white cards (2 Pacifisms). Just before the first round started, I decided that it was being a little too greedy, so took out the white. 

Here is the deck I played at the end of the day:

1 Shock
1 Wring Flesh - this performed a lot better than I thought it would. Mainly helping out in combat as opposed to killing a creature outright
1 Rangers Guile
1 Lay of the Land - I mainly played this because I wanted to limit the number of lands I had for the splash, and also I had a lot of double colour costing cards in both Green and Red
1 Scavenging Ooze - This did really well - I got 12 or so counters on it one game
1 Doom Blade
1 Green Doom Blade Deadly Recluse
1 Kalonian Tusker
1 Goblin Shortcutter
1 Predatory Sliver
1 Flames of the Firebrand
2 Advocate of the Beast - The main issue I had with this is that I usually wanted to attack with it and a beast to keep the pressure up, so often lost this in combat before I could get something really big
1 Rumbling Baloth
2 Chandra's Outrage
1 Marauding Maulhorn
2 Pitchburn Devils - My opponents didn't block these very often, or attack into them. Not complaining too much about that
1 Enlarge - I can haz trample?
1 Woodborn Behemoth
1 Shivan Dragon

End result: I went 4-1 and came 4th overall. I'm happy with that result considering I don't usually perform well at sealed and had done minimal preparation (the one opponent who did beat me had an agressive red/blue deck that had a lot of good tempo plays; they had also played in two or three other M14 prereleases beforehand so knew the set a little better).

Monday, 8 July 2013

Modern Masters Draft 2

I was lucky enough to play another draft of modern masters the other week. Kaleb was being looked after, so both me and Liz could go which was nice. Also nice was seeing everyone from Hemel as we hadn't been for a while.

I started off the draft with a bit of OK blue cards, but also picked up some green, to keep my options open. In the second pack, I stopped seeing blue, but got some good black and green cards, including a Worm Harvest, so kept an eye out for other support cards. In the third pack, I continued on like this, picking up a couple of blue cards again.

While putting the deck together, I could just about do a two colour green/black deck, but would either have to play a bad 23rd card or an 18th land, or splash a third colour. I took the later option as some of the blue cards I wasn't playing were good even later on.

The deck looked a bit like this: Bonesplitter, Executioner's Capsule, Thallid, Peppersmoke, Mothdust Changeling, Rathi Trapper, Blightspeaker, Echoing Courage, Nacromeba, Death Denied, Stinkweed Imp, Moldervine Cloak, Mulldrifter, Kodama's Reach, Auntie's Snitch, Syphon Life, Nantuko Shaman, Greater Mossdog, Penumbra Spider, Worm Harvest, Giant Dustwasp, Riftwing Cloudskate, Sylvan Bounty, Tombstalker, Walker of the Grove, Dakmor Salvage, Vivid Grove, Terramorphic Expanse

A fairly small graveyard theme, but some fun cards nonetheless. I had more than enough fixing to support the blue splash too, which was nice.

I lost the first match playing against faeries plus Skeletal Vampire, and lost the second match to an aggressive black/red deck with a lot of goblins. Ended one game with Oona too.

I had really fun games in the last match. I got the worm harvest on the graveyard by dredging a stinkweed imp, and got to retrace it using a Dakmor Salvage, ready to retrace again. At one point, my opponent made all his lands, which were all forests into creatures to attack with, then playing Echoing Courage on them...

My main focus with drafting the set has been to play something I'd find fun. It's a shame the set is so hard to get as if I could draft it more, I would try out some of the other archetypes.

On the way home, I had a weird realisation with Liz. We were walking to our house from the train station and I realised that whenever I have walked that bit of road previously, it was either on my own, or with her and Kaleb - I had never walked that bit with just her, which I found novel for some reason.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Playing Magic (Standard)

It has been a fair while since I last played Standard (I play less Magic in general now I have Kaleb to look after, and when I do it is usually draft/pre-release sealed), but I made the effort to go and play at the St Albans comic shop at their Friday Night Magic event.

Even though I haven't played Standard in a while, I still had a deck in construction, mostly made up of cards from draft decks. Part of me thinks I enjoy deck building compared to playing more than usual (which would explain why I like draft), so I didn't have to rush to get something ready to play (although I did make a last minute adjustment while getting ready to go). 

There were two tournaments ongoing on the night; one with prizes, and one without (it was free). The one with prizes would be more competitive, so I opted for the free one (like I said, haven't played Standard in a while, and certainly not the current standard environment). 

The deck I put together was originally based around Ruric Thar, the Unbowed, but evolved while I was tinkering with it. The main premise is playing out creatures that have dual use (bloodrush or scavenge), which act similar to spells, but don't trigger Ruric Thar's ability. Here is is:

Two drops
4 Zhur-Taa Druid: No one drops in the deck, and I start ramping on turn two. Not as fast as some other decks, but my curve gets better at 4 anyway, so I'd rather play a 4 drop on turn 3 than a 3 drop on turn 2. I did have the one drop elf that untapped lands for a while, but added things like Rootbound Crag, so I might not always have a forest to untap. I think if Llanowar Elves or similar was legal, I would consider playing one of those instead. 

2 Scorned Villager: Put in when I took out the one drop elves. I tried a couple of other mana generators, but liked this one the best. 

4 Lotleth Troll: Doesn't work as well with bloodthirst, but alight with scavenge. I mainly added it in for the regeneration more than anything else. 

4 Mayor of Avabruck: This was the last minute change I did. I realised that, while I wasn't anywhere near Human or Werewolf tribal, I had just enough humans to make it useful. Plus getting a couple of tokens would help. 

Three Drops
1 Varolz, the Scar-Striped: I really liked this one, but only have the one. Would add a couple more if I get my hands on them. Good to use with bloodrush creatures, and lowers the actual scavenge cost of some of the creatures that normally have it. Also regenerates which is nice (I think I was worried about Day of Judgement style effects)

4 Dreg Mangler: Quite handy to have a couple of things with haste really. Efficiently costed too, plus the scavenge is a decent amount. 

1 Mwonvuli Beast Tracker: Can get a couple of creatures in the deck, plus a couple in the sideboard. Might have played more, but I only have the one. Still undecided on this, it did let me get a useful creature the one game I did play it, but that creature was not needed to win in the end. 

Four Drops
3 Ghor-Clan Rampager: Would play another one of these if I had it. Saved some of my creatures a couple of times, big on its own, and a nice scavenge target. 

3 Deadbridge Goliath: While I only have 3, I'm not sure whether 3 or 4 is the right amount. I think I would like to try the deck with 4 as it is a big creature and always welcome. While I didn't get to do it, Varolz lowers its scavenge cost, which is nice.

2 Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch: I started the deck with more Unleash creatures, but took them out in the end. Haste is nice, first strike is good, if I can play a creature and scavenge something onto it in the same turn it randomly also gets haste. A human so gets pumped by the mayor. 

Five Drops
1 Wolfir Silverheart: Only played it the once, but was good when I did. I have a second one now so will put it in (whether I play standard again before rotation I don't know, but if I do I have a second). 

1 Vorapede: Seems good, anti-combo with scavenge the first time it is played, but when it comes back with a counter from undying, Exava can give it haste. This was just a card I threw in as it seemed big and fairly resilient. 

1 Bloodgift Demon: This was a last minute addition to allow be to gain a little bit of card advantage later on. Never drew it, so I don't know how well it works in the deck. 

1 Wrecking Ogre: I don't think this is rated highly for constructed, but I like it. Did have two in at one point but took one out, might see if it will squeeze back in. 

Six Drops
2 Ruric Thar, the Unbowed: I had three (possibly four) in the deck at once. Took some out to lower the top end of the curve slightly. Nice creature to play, works well with scavenge (and bloodrush too), puts a bit of hurt on control decks (and none in this deck as it is all creatures and lands)

1 Sire of Insanity: Really helped me come back from a bad board state one game. I lost that game in the end, but this made it a close game, as opposed to me being trampled over. 

I basically played the on colour lands I had access too: 
4 Stomping Ground
4 Rootbound Crag
3 Overgrown Tomb
2 Woodland Cemetery
3 Blood Crypt
2 Kessig Wolf Run: Another way to use mana in a spell-like way, without actually casting a spell
3 Forest
2 Mountain
2 Swamp

The sideboard was me just guessing as to what the meta game would be. I had read about control decks and re-animator decks, so had a few aimed at those, but also some generally useful cards:
1 Predator Ooze: A bit harder to cast in a three colour deck, I had Supreme Verdict and Putrify in mind with this

1 Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord: The double black is a bit tough here. Some good reuse, which is nice, and pumps with bloodrush. Anti-synergy with scavenge (and Varolz). This might be useful against decks that also run a lot of creatures, as I can win without having to attack. 

2 Crypt Creeper: Might be useful against Snapcaster Mage, but mainly there in case of reanimator

1 Ash Zealot: There for Snapcaster Mage, plus first strike is always handy, nice if this can get counters. 

1 Skylasher: I would put 4 of these in the sideboard if I had them. Maybe I just dislike blue...

4 Acidic Slime: When I was putting a sideboard together, that deck that won with Mazes End kept on appearing online, which is my main reason for wanting this. Hits a lot of other permanents as well, which is always good. 

1 Glaring Spotlight: The creatures losing hexproof isn't as useful as I have no spells to target anyway, but making my team unblockable is always nice. 

1 Creeping Renaissance: One of the few non-creatures. If everything else I have is a creature, this could restock my hand very well in long games. 

3 Pithing Needle: Really like this card. I remember a deck that used this and Goblin Guide together

There were three rounds in the free pod, as it was the smaller one. I was not doing great in the first game, after a bit of a slow start. My opponent had some largeish creatures, and some I couldn't block. I was one turn away from losing to something I couldn't block, but had a lot on the board. My opponent played two spells which flipped back the Mayor to its human side on my turn, which pumped a couple of my creatures. That and an Exava pushed the damage up to a big swing which won the game. I had a more aggressive start to help win the second game. 

In the second round, I lost the first match, but stabilized (just not enough) with Sire of Insanity (they topdecked a Huntmaster of the Fells which helped them a lot). I boarded in a couple of cards as my opponent was playing Snapcaster and counterspells, and won the next two games. 

In the final round, my opponent had an interesting spell based deck, I won the first game with some larger creatures (but was on 1 life when I won, so a close game). In the second game, I got out a lot of big creatures quickly and there wasn't much my opponent could do about it. 

Even though it was the free pod and there were no prizes, I got some promo cards for winning, and one of the leftover badges from the Dragons Maze prerelease (which is nice, as I wanted a Gruul one but didn't have one yet). 

Modifying the deck
I'm not sure where to start modifying the deck. In theory I should take out all the Innistrad cards as they'll rotate out soon, to see how well it will do in Theros standard. That being said, I did get a Wolfir Silverheart and Huntmaster of the Fells for trade, so might pop them in while they're still legal. I now also have one Dryad Militant, so might look out to get some more. I prefer this one over Rakdos Cackler, even though the Cackler might have a bit more toughness if unleashed, and can be cast by both halves of the hybrid cost in this deck, I get an extra counter if I scavenge the Dryad with Varolz. Plus, I don't care about the cards it exiles as I don't have any in the deck. The sideboard could also do with a bit of work, I want more Skylashers, but that's just me. I don't really have a sideboard plan (i.e. what to take out against certain matchups, which I know you're supposed to), so the sideboard is less of a priority; its more just some cards that might be good in certain cases. 

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Android App: Holiday Checklist

As part of my preparation for my recent holiday, I wanted to be able to keep track of everything we were taking away with us so I could be sure we brought back when we returned. The design I had in mind was a very simple check list with two checks - one for when something was packed and one for when we brought it back. 

I did the initial implementation and sent it to my brother who was also coming on the trip. He suggested a few modifications which I tinkered with while on holiday as I had my netbook with me. 

As I was developing on a small netbook, I could only get a small device running as an emulator, which is why I aimed it at a smaller API level. It also has the bonus of being available for older devices (my phone is quite old as it is). 

When I got back from the trip, I finished off a couple of improvements and put it up on the Play store for free: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=lhsi.holidaychecklist

As I said, it is a very basic design, but it does what it needs to do. 

Now I just need to have another trip away...

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Henley Holiday 2013

We got back from our holiday in Henley on Thames yesterday. Kaleb has had quite a week, as he had a sleep in and a very long nap today. It was the first holiday we have had with Kaleb, and two years since me and Liz last went to Henley.

As I knew we had a lot to bring along with Kaleb, I wanted to make sure we had everything we needed, so quickly threw together an app for my tablet to keep track of everything we wanted to take with us, whether we had packed it, and whether we brought it back with us when we returned. I tinkered with it while we were on holiday as I had my netbook with me, and might put it on the Google play store at some point.

The plan was that I would go to dad's club as usual and be picked up from there, with Liz and my Dad putting everything in the car, but we were running late so I helped pack things into the car before heading off and getting a pub lunch on the way.

Not as late as my cousin and brother, however, who took the same wrong turning as last time...

We did a wander around the local supermarket after getting there and unpacking a bit, Kaleb was asleep so he went around in his car seat. We got a BBQ and fire pit as the concrete ones had been removed, and our plans for Sunday needed a BBQ.

Preparation for the Sunday BBQ included constructing the BBQ, putting up the gazebo, and clearing some of the garden of goose droppings so Kaleb could crawl around the grass a bit. My dad stayed for most of the day, but went home that evening for work that week.

We slept in for most of the morning on Monday and Tuesday, having a big breakfast each day, but it did mean we didn't do much until after midday, having a wander around Henley each day. We did discover that it was a bit chilly in the mornings, but as we only had pyjamas for Kaleb and not a sleep suit, we fashioned our own by tucking socks into his pyjama legs, which seemed to work well.

Another BBQ was planned for Wednesday, which was a lovely sunny day. We got Kaleb's paddling pool inflated for him, and after the initial confused look wondering why he was suddenly wet, he had fun splashing around in it.

On Thursday, me and Liz went to Reading for the day, to look around some of the shops there. At the last craft fair we went to, we found out about another one in Henley while we were visiting, so went to that on the Friday, after which we started to tidy up the house so we had less to do the morning we were leaving.

After a final evening fire, with marshmallows, we went to bed quite late, so it was a good thing we didn't have too much to do the next morning.

We all had a lot of fun that week, I think Wednesday was my favorite day. Kaleb seems to have enjoyed himself as he had a big sleep the night after we got home, and a very long nap this afternoon.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Modern Masters Draft

As rare as it is, I was lucky enough to get to draft the Modern Masters set. By the time I got to St Albans to meet up with Liz to take over from looking after Kaleb, I had just about finished listening to the Limited Resources podcast on Modern Masters. 

Looking over the set once spoiled, I liked the look of the BG graveyard archetype, so would keep an eye out for it. 

I started off with a Cryptic Command, but then got a Murderous Redcap second, followed by a couple of red removal spells, and then some decent black removal spells. I was also able to pick up a Worm Harvest, so kept the graveyard deck in the back of my mind. I finished off the pack with a couple of leftover green cards. The second pack started with a Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, soon followed by another Murderous Redcap. I picked up some good Green cards and some more black cards, before finishing off the draft with the third pack for more of the same. 

I had the minimum necessary to get some good graveyard interaction (Worm Harvest, Stinkweed Imp, Moldervine Cloak, Dakmor Salvage), which was nice as a side interaction, but my deck was mostly value and removal. 

Two Drops
2 Mogg War Marshal
Sudden Shock
Warren Weirding

Three Drops
Stinkweed Imp
2 Eternal Witness
2 Rift Bolt
Moldervine Cloak
Citanul Woodreaders
Drag Down
Kodama's Reach

Four Drops
2 Murderous Redcap

Five Drops
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Worm Harvest
Warren Pilferers

Six Drops
Pardic Dragon
2 Death Rattle
Sylvan Bounty

Land included Vivid Marsh and Dakmor Salvage, with about 6 of each land type needed (Swamp, Mountain, Forest). 

First match (against Islands)
I drew the first match, just winning the second game before time was called. My opponent got Vedalken Shackles out both games, playing mono-blue artifacts... Not too much I can do in general, which is why I lost the first game, but was able to get enough damage early on, followed by just lots of small creatures so the one they stole didn't matter. 

Second Match (with tokens)
In the second match, I lost the first game but won the second one quite quickly. I did quite well in the third game, using Kiki-Jiki to make tokens of Murderous Redcap a couple of times  before finishing the game with some Pardic Dragon tokens. 

Third Match (value)
In the final match, my opponent was playing Red/Black Goblins, and we both got out a lot of tokens, before I eventually wore down his side to win. 

I gained quite a bit of card advantage. This was my start:
Turn 2: Mogg War Marshal (including token)
Turn 3: Don't pay echo cost (get another token), cast Kodama's Reach
Turn 4: Warren Pilferers, returning Mogg War Marshal (attacking with haste)

A couple of turns later, having killed the Mogg War Marshal again and the Warren Pilferers, I cast Eternal Witness to get back the Warren Pilferers, which I used the next turn to get back the Mogg War Marshal again. 

In the second game, he got out two Mad Auntie's early followed by a couple of goblins and I couldn't get enough of a defence up so lost. 

The final game went to the final turns, and my opponent killed all my remaining creatures when I had the on 2 life. Stuck on 4 mana with a couple of cards I couldn't cast in hand, I lucked into drawing a second Forest that I needed to cast Eternal Witness... returning a Murderous Redcap, which I could play next turn (turn 4 of final turns) to do the final 2 damage. 

All in all, it was a fun format. It would be nice to be able to draft it again, I may be able to get one more chance, but I doubt I'll get many, so am happy to have had the opportunity at least the once. 

Tuesday, 4 June 2013


It's amazing to think that it's been one year since Kaleb was born already. We had a little family BBQ to celebrate.

Liz's family arrived early and we had a little bout of opening presents, as to not overwhelm Kaleb at once. My dad and brother arrived with the BBQ to set to while I was pushing Kaleb around in the trike we got him.

Around lunchtime once everyone had arrived I started making a mango curry, mainly for Kaleb as he couldn't really have much of the BBQ food, plus I had some too as I don't make it very often. I did make sure I had some of the BBQ ribs when they were done however, before my cousin ate them all ;-)

Into the afternoon, my brother spent some time trying to inflate the bouncy castle my dad got for Kaleb. As he can't even stand yet, let alone bounce, Kaleb crawled around on it a bit while some of us bounced the ground near him.

Liz had made a lovely cake for Kaleb, a nice bear shaped one, so we sung happy birthday to him with it. The candle was relit so everyone could then sing to me, and relit again for my mum.

It was a very pleasant day, the weather was nice - it was a great way to celebrate a year of being with Kaleb.

A very fun year, I have to say. It's great having little Kaleb around, watching him grow and develop and become not-so-little. He had such a zest for life and is seemingly always happy, which I think is a great mindset, and hope he continues as he is.


It was my birthday the weekend before last. I've gotten somewhat less interested in it in recent years, however as Kaleb's birthday is two days after, I have been rather distracted with that and it sort of crept up on me.

We had a little bit of a sleep in, by our current standards with Kaleb around anyway (some nights he'll sleep in quite late, others he'll be up early). We then sorted out getting ready to go out and eventually was on the train to st Albans.

We wandered around some shops and visited Liz's workmates before getting ready to get a lift from my mum to Watford. I got a milkshake for Liz and myself while we were waiting as it was a lovely, sunny day.

In Watford, we visited my grandparents as my cousin was also visiting and she was on business for Kaleb's birthday so we met up in advance instead. Kaleb had fun crawling around the living room before we went out to eat with my mum (it being her birthday too).

While waiting for our order, we caught up a little on the salad bar as it was a slightly later than usual lunch. We ordered various ice creams for dessert that were a little bigger than anticipated, but nice nonetheless.

One of the benefits of going out to lunch with my mum on my birthday is that, as it is her birthday too, we both avoid telling the waiter as neither of us want the candles and singing.

Of all the exciting things to do on a birthday, we ended going to Costco instead, which we mainly used to get ready for Kaleb's birthday BBQ, and the fair Liz was preparing for the following weekend.

On the way back we grabbed something to eat quickly from a nearly empty Tesco, ready to sort the house out the next day for Kaleb's birthday...

Friday, 24 May 2013

Relative size

(Found this in a draft folder from last month, posting it now as I hadn't then apparently)

Thinking about it, I should find it odd that I think two opposite things at the same time, but it makes sense to me.

Whenever me and Liz talk about Kaleb's size, I think he is both big and small. It's all relative to various factors though. Compared to other children his age, he is quite tall, and compared to when he was a newborn, he has grown a lot.

However, when he's sitting on the floor, especially if I'm standing up, he looks so small (and when he's crawling across the floor I wonder where he stores all that energy).

One minute I can see him clapping his little hands with his tiny fingers, and the next I'll be wondering how long it's been since he could reach the top of the table...

Saturday, 11 May 2013

First Dragons Maze Draft

Unlike the last set, I actually found time to draft this new set, which I'm happy about as I usually prefer draft over sealed. Due to the numbers at the comic shop, we had a number of smaller pods, so I was drafting with 5 others. 

Opening the first pack (Dragons Maze), I found a Warleader's Helix, but was more interested in the foil Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch, which I took. This sort of set the tone for the draft, and I picked up as many red and black cards as I could. I also like playing green, so took a few late, but also knew that white could work well too, so kept an eye out for those. At the end of the first pack, I had Blood ScrivenerCarnage Gladiator, Punish the Enemy, Ubul Sar Gatekeepers (but no gates...), Riot Piker and Phytoburst, as well as two cluestones. 

In the second pack, first picking a Stomping Ground from a fairly weak pack, I picked up of note a Scorchwalker, a Pit Fight and a Gruul Keyrune. I did also get a Wojek Halberdiers, but didn't really have much white to play, and the card needs to come down early so isn't a great splash. I did know, however, that if I was in black red, and possibly green black, I would have more to choose from in the final pack, where I did pick up a Korozda Guildmage, Electrickery, Giant Growth, Dead Reveler and Gore-House Chainwalker

Building the deck, I did need to include green as I didn't have enough black red cards to stick two colour, which is not entirely unexpected. I did have three mana fixers (four if you include the shock land), but didn't want to add a fourth colour just for two cards, so stuck with three. My curve topped out with one card at 5, so, with the mana artifacts I played 16 lands. 

I won both games of the first round, the set is a fun one to play. Some of the games took a surprisingly long time, considering I was in theory playing a fast deck - the games were very attrition heavy. 

In the second round, I won two of three matches, playing some very close games. One game my opponent tried to get the upper hand in a trade with Weapon Surge, so I played my own one to even things out. In the last game, I narrowly won a race, getting just enough creatures on the battlefield at the end so my opponent couldn't do much about them. 

In the final round, I won a close first match being dead on board next turn. My opponent had played a Sluiceway Scorpion, as the only blocker (a good blocker to have), and to win I drew my second additional green source so I could activate Gruul Keyrune and play Phytoburst on it to trample enough damage through. I was running out of steam at this point, but luckily had done enough early damage that I only had a little more to do to win. 

The second game I faced a turn two Pack Rat. I started racing a bit, but think I should have thought ahead a little more. I saw it in the first game, but killed it with Electrickery before it could do anything, but didn't have anything this time. 

In the final game, I was ahead after my opponents slow start, but they were starting to stabilise. They ended up having a good blocker that they could pump, so I could only profitably attack with a Wasteland Viper, getting in a little bit of extra damage before he played a creature to trade with it. Then, with them on 7 and me on 18, time was called and we had to start 5 extra turns. My opponent calculated that he couldn't win, but by returning a card to give his pumpable creature lifelink, he could get a draw instead. He had to tap out to do this, and I had played out my hand (hoping to get some value out of Blood Scrivener, but it was killed before I could draw). I drew for the turn and attacked with my 2/2 and 2/4. They blocked one so I used the bloodrush from Scorchwalker on the unblocked creature to deal the exact 7 required to win.  Another very close, but fun game. 

I do enjoy this set, hopefully I'll be able to draft it again at some point. There seems to be a lot of scope for many different decks, which looks interesting. Again, playing in the last round made me remember why I prefer drafting over sealed; the final round in sealed is usually the 5th, so including deck construction it is a long time to be concentrating while playing. Drafts are generally 3 rounds, so even though the pre-game part may be longer as it involves the draft and deck building, the draft is finished before I get to the point of starting to lose concentration (like I did at the pre-release, losing only in the final round). 

Plus, this draft I did have Liz and Kaleb there to keep me company.  Kaleb more active than the last draft when I had him on my lap, so I gave him a token card at one point to entertain himself, which he decided would look better folded in half and chewed...

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Dragons Maze prerelease

Being busy with Kaleb, I don't play Magic as much as I used to, but still try to get some games in when I can. I only managed one draft after the Return to Ravnica prerelease, and only played Gatecrash once at the prerelease for that. I generally try to get to the prerelease events when I can at least, even if I can't get to anything else, so for the Dragons Maze one, I ensured I registered in advance.

In the morning, before getting ready, I thought it would be fun to write a little app that could flip 5 coins for me, on the off chance I needed to due to the new Planeswalker (Spoiler: I didn't, but it was fun to code nonetheless).

Liz and Kaleb were not going to be playing, but travelled down with me so they could go shopping. We arrived almost exactly on time; good train picking skills on Liz's part there.

I had picked Golgari as my main guild (wearing the guild T-shirt I got too), with part of me hoping for Gruul as those are the two guilds I picked for the other two prereleases. My actual secret guild was Orzhoz, so I started to get into the mindset of having some longer games.

Opening the pool, I think I got a decent set of cards. I figured my guild packs were good enough that I would probably play them, so decided I would start thinking from a different point of view, and pick a colour to not play, if possible. The first colour eliminated was blue, as I didn't really have all that much worth playing.

I almost eliminated red, but really wanted to play Ruric Thar and Warleaders Helix, so thought I would see if I could keep them in. I almost set aside Advent of the Wurm before realising that if I was paying green-black and white-black, I was also playing green-white...

My big Orzhov bomb was the mythic Blood Baron, and I had Alms Beast too. Other good cards included Dread Mangler, Toil & Trouble (and I could play both halves with my red splash), and two Ubul Sar Gatekeepers, which I was happy to play as all 6 gates I got were in my three main colours.

About half my deck needed black mana, so I played 6 swamps, the rest being covered by gates, and a couple of plains and forests, as they were also covered by the gates. I played one mountain and two red cluestones (boros and rakdos) to cover my two and a half card red splash, but I think I could have gotten away with just the cluestones and a prism in retrospect.

I won all four of the first matches I played, my deck seemed to play quite fast. Not by number of turns as it took me a few turns usually before I had played that much, but whenever I did play something, it was usually really good. One game I was able to play a turn three cluestone into a turn four Blood Baron. I think in those four matches I only lost one game to a madcap skills creature with double strike and a flyer, but being hit for 17 in one turn isn't something I was expecting.

The whole day I had been having fun and feeling relaxed, but come the last round (the finals), the games were very tense. Very fun, but still very tense. I lost the first game, I think it was close though. The second game I won, but that was close too. In the third game I think I made a few mistakes and lost, but was impressed with my record part the first round really, so didn't mind that much. One mistake was I was being attacked with a 5/2 and 5 power of double strike and temple, I had a 5/5 to block and blocked the one with double strike, I should have blocked the other one to trade as I took 10 in any case. Another mistake I think was that I held on to the gatekeeper waiting to draw my second gate (all other games I played I had two gates out quite quickly), when I should have played it earlier to either trade or hold off some damage. I did spend a turn playing two cluestones and not developing my board which was also a mistake.

All in ask it was a fun day. I'll see if I can actually get to draft this set unlike the last one when I didn't have the time. I wasn't too good when I last drafted a set that encouraged more than two colours, but I think this one supports it better, so hopefully I'll be OK :-)

Sunday, 21 April 2013


A few weeks back, we went along to visit Liz's family in Lincoln for a few days, to attend the wedding of Liz's sister.

On the day of the wedding, I was on Kaleb duty while Liz and her mum got ready. We got a taxi to the church and were the first people there. I carried Kaleb around showing him the inside of the church, taking him over at one point to read some of the children books in the corner of kids stuff. More and more people started arriving and we got to our seats ready for the wedding to start.

The ceremony was lovely, and Kaleb mostly behaved himself but did want something to drink during it (luckily we had planned ahead and had some with us). We then went to the hotel near the castle in Lincoln for the reception, where we also got photos done before the meal. We all got an egg cup Jayne had hand painted every guests name on, including one for Kaleb that we're keeping specially for him.

We got an extra plate of food for Kaleb during the meal, which he enjoyed. Afterwards, there was some dancing, and Kaleb got to have the second dance with the bride. He also had a bit of a boogy on the dance floor, mainly shaking his arms up and down, occasionally shuffling across the floor a little bit.

After a few hours we got Kaleb dressed into his sleep suit so, if he went to sleep, we didn't have to wake him up changing him. He didn't fall asleep in the end, as there were too many people, in particular people saying how cute he was, which he always enjoys.

Starting to get late, with Kaleb looking tired, we went to our hotel room and got Kaleb settled for the night.

It was a long and busy day, and a tiring one for Kaleb, but not tiring enough that he slept through breakfast...

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Sunday Economy

Over the last few years, and in particular the last few months, there is talk going around that high street shops are closing down (and recently some of the bigger ones have). One of the blames for this is internet shopping (in particular that some get out of paying taxes that high street shops do, but some high street shops are also creative in how they pay their tax,so it is not specific to internet shops). 

My theory is otherwise - they are not open enough. Not always by their own choosing however; a lot of shops have restricted opening hours on Sundays. Even worse, most shops can't open on Easter Sunday for some reason I don't know. I can't imagine it is a good one. 

Monday, 25 March 2013


Kaleb got his first pair of shoes yesterday. We got into St Albans for 9am (no thanks to the trains), and learnt about baby foot development before measuring up Kaleb's feet. His size are around the smallest that they do shoes for, and we got a nice pair for him to wear to his Aunty's wedding.

He was happily rolling around the floor, being popular with the staff (standard Kaleb really), but got a little upset when he tried a pair on and I held him up to see whether they fit ok or not.

The second pair he tried on didn't seem to bother him as much, so we kept those on and brought them.

We got a little photo of 'baby's first shoes' too, and a card to track his feet sizes.

Saturday, 9 March 2013


The biggest transition I've gone through recently is going from not being a parent, to becoming a dad. Pretty big transition. Kaleb is only 9 months and he has been through many more bigger transitions than my one.

Aside from the obvious huge one of living inside Liz to becoming his own entity, he has had a number of major changes in his life - drinking only milk to also eating solid food, not being able to move to learning to roll over and then crawl along the floor are quite massive changes to go through. Having no teeth to having some pop out your gums is probably the most painful transition I've seen him go through.

Learning all these new things aren't all major changes, some are small on their own, but together indicate a big change. Earlier today Kaleb was having fun crawling round his room. He's still doing his "commando" style crawling instead of the conventional style and for a while has been able to go from sitting to laying on his front to crawl. Today, however he went from crawling to pushing himself up so he was sitting again. Before he could only transition the one way, but now it turns out he can do both. A fairly small change, but part of the bigger, and still ongoing transition of starting still to moving about on his own.

One thing I am glad about is that I don't see being a dad transitioning away from being interesting any time soon

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Baby show, one year on

Last weekend, Liz, Kaleb and myself went to the baby show at the Excel center in London. I had been to this one before with Liz while she was pregnant with Kaleb, so this was the first time for Kaleb to come along too.

We went with a similar set up to the last baby show, me carrying Kaleb in a cloth wrap, him facing outwards so he could see where we were going. We brought a big rucksack too so wouldn't hurt our hands carrying too many carrier bags.

We went on a Sunday this time, so have now gone to a baby show on each of the days of the week it is on. We got the train from Flitwick, noticing one benefit of a Sunday trip to the Friday one was the ticket prices being half the Friday fair...

Into London and a couple of tube rides later, we arrive, discovering due to train announcements that there is a beauty convention and a comic convention happening at the same time.

Starting our first walk round the stalls, we learnt from our last trip that while marking down which stalls to go back to at the end so we're not carrying round a lot of bags all day, we should use the map in the guide and not the map that becomes part of a competition entry, so we don't risk not having the map when we want to use it (again).

We marked down a couple of places and then Liz entered a raffle, winning a fairly decent prize which was lucky of her. We signed up to some child development research from a uni that was there, and continued making places.

First round done, we got some lunch and reviewed our stall markings, putting extra stars next to the ones to go to first. Liz went to feed Kaleb, so I had a quick wander on my own, finding something else to look at later.

We did the second round, picking up what we wanted pretty quickly. Some reusable face wipes, gates for the stairs and kitchen door, swim towel, and a cape style towel with a hood and felt spikes down the back so the wearer looks like a dragon. Hopefuly Kaleb will like that when he is old enough to wear it.

Liz was starting to struggle with the bag getting heavy (she came down with the flu the next day which might explain it), so we got our final purchase that I spotted earlier - a cheap stroller. One benefit of the Sunday seemed to be extra discounts on the special show prices. We wanted to get a spare pushchair that folded up a lot smaller and was easier to travel with, and I had found one that looked alright and was quite cheap, so we brought it and asked one of the stall assistants to help up unpack it as we couldn't take it boxed, so Kaleb got a ride home in it.

I think he liked it, and enjoyed the day overall as he was a little tired on the train home...