Hello everyone! This week I am doing something a little different than the usual brew. Moonlight Savior has been out now for about 2 weeks and I wanted to talk a bit about the top 10 cards I have been most impressed with in testing. Not all of the cards on this list are cards I feel are potential for being top tier competitive. This is a list of cards that have impressed me in some way in testing, either being way more powerful than I expected or being much more payable and providing more value that I originally expected. Without further ado, here are the top 10 cards that have impressed me in the first 2 weeks of the set’s release. Read More
Hello! My name is Alex Gerdes and this is my first article here at Of Dice and Pens, but you might recognize my name since I am the host of the On the Chase Podcast. With the top 8 decks from the first two AGPs after the release of the Moonlight Savior, AGP Montreal and AGP Hawaii, being made up of primarily reflect there has been a lot discussion about a banning of reflect and how bad it is for the game. This article is going to be about why reflect isn’t actually as bad for the game as everyone makes him out to be and why I feel he shouldn’t be banned. Read More
Hello Everyone! I’m here today to talk about my experience at AGP Richmond. In the weeks leading up to the event, our team had been testing several decks to find what would be the best choice to bring to Richmond. We had 3 decks we felt were strong contenders for the event: Black/Blue/Red aggro (this color combination will be called Grixis moving forward), green Val 2.0, and Alice’s World. After seeing the results of the AGP in Italy, we first began testing the Grixis list and we were impressed with how powerful the deck was. While testing Val 2.0, we were very impressed with how the deck accelerated its mana quickly but felt the deck lacked something and we believed it was not as good as the Grixis or World decks. After the results from AGP Dallas, most of the team agreed that Alice’s World was the best deck to play at Richmond and began working to tune the deck for the event. One teammate suggested that we try running Gretel in the World list with Green stones instead of using Ruler’s Memorial. We agreed that this sounded like a promising idea and put the first draft of the deck together. As we began playing the first games with it, we were impressed with how fast the deck was at developing its stone base and how good Gretel was in the deck. We spent the final few days before the event trying out different pieces of tech and everyone decided to play 3-4 different cards that we each felt would help the deck. This is the list I registered at the event. Read More
The Depths of the Unknown is an attempt to reveal and talk about games that are not talked about: games that are only a few bucks, last only a few minutes, and exist to stand by themselves and the purpose of this segment is to shine light on those experiences and pull something out of them.
The name The Eldritch Teller stuck out to me. It’s a good name. It’s invocative of something grander than oneself, but it inspired quite a bit of apprehension in me because I’ve just grown tired of the “unknowable cosmic horror” tropes. I’ve grown tired of the unknowable because it feels like a waste of time to really concern oneself with what one can not know. Maybe that’s the point. Thankfully, The Eldritch Teller never seems to concern itself with that either.
The Eldritch Teller, by Arielle Grimes (@slimekat on Twitter), is a game with really one option and that’s what the player does when they hear their phone ring. The Eldritch Teller, of title fame, is a robed, antlered, faceless entity, that simply acts as narrator. The game looks as if it’s running on a faulty CRT run through a fish-eye lens. Pixelated geometry spirals and a space-scape acts as the letter box. The distortion makes some of the text hard to read, but the actual art in the game is well made. Silhouettes are vague enough that it doesn’t bring any strict definition to the “You” of the story, leaving the story open to anyone participating. There’s no attachment – The Eldritch Teller knows what it’s audience is. The game plays like a ghost story being told to you, about you. The Eldritch Teller has no time to really consider what you do. It knows what you’d do. The story being told is a vague enough story that it feels like “your” story and doesn’t suffer from being so vague.
The screen flashes to convey small story beats and focus from high detailed figures to explosive bits of pixelated lines portraying, well, the unknowable. The art is pixel art, but it’s not overly stylized pixel art – it’s a means to create indistinction. Nothing is very clear, as something set in a cosmic horror setting should be.
I had mentioned earlier that I had a slight bit of fear – not a psychological or primal fear, but a fear of disdain. Between friends, I’ve referred to the cosmic horror tropes as “Cthulhu shit.” There’s two camps: those that have been trying to separate the roots from the mythos and concentrate on the kind of horror that is found in those stories, a pure fascination and healthy fear of the unknowable that has no time nor regard for you, and those that find delight in the lore of the Cthulhu mythos – a paradox in itself. The idea of a mythos behind something defined as unknowable is silly, or maybe it’s expected. It’s putting structure around something one can not know and adding your flairs to it. The second worst thing HP Lovecraft did, after being a terrible racist, was describe Cthulhu and inspire an unknowable amount of merchandise to spawn after his death.
The Eldritch Teller falls squarely in the first, personally, more interesting camp. It’s the camp that is more interested in what it means to interact with the unknowable. It’s friendly, it can come in contact with you, but it feels less like looking over the edge of a cliff and more like being talked down to by a teacher.
The narrator’s tone is frank and casual, toying with the player’s expectation of, well, an Eldritch Teller. It’s a character that toys with the player’s expectations of itself. My favorite line in the piece is “You’re a cool adult who definitely deserves respect.” It’s that tone that I enjoyed. It’s not a narrator that’s going to blow anyone away, but I appreciated that. It brought levity to the parts that would be dull and got out of the way when action began.
The balance of the tones creates an interesting effect. The humor leaves the player just open enough to let the turn take you. When it switches to a bit of cosmic horror it’s a slow shift, easing you into it. The harder turn is a return to normalcy and that’s where the narrative is at it’s most interesting to me – The Eldritch Teller is a tragedy. It’s a comedy that trades not in the unknown, but uses the unknown to set up it’s ultimate joke and the punchline is depression. The story being told is about waiting for a phone call. The Eldritch Teller tells you that you await this call, but you’ve always wanted to adventure, just as most kids have. Regardless of which of the three storylines you choose (to casually get the phone, spring forward for the phone, or to sit paralyzed in anxiety), you’re ultimately ending the call to adventure. The adventure is the moment of “abduction,” of being taken away, but in the end, the phone call needs to be answered and the job needs to be taken. That’s the state of the world once you leave it. The extravagance of adventure is brief, fleeting, and wouldn’t accept you, no matter how much you crave it. There is really only one path where there is a true interaction between “you” and the cosmic horrors. The great irony is they’re quite polite. They’re not lording over you the fact that they’re of some higher headspace.
It’s a short little experience, it’s about 5 to 10 minutes. It’s not going to revitalize a joy for cosmic horror, but it feels like a good response to the exhaustion in those ideas. It treats it as window dressing, as opposed to the window itself. It’s the kind of way I want this setting and set of tropes to be explored. The initial idea behind the settings is a shallow well that can only sustain a few stories, or at least that’s my opinion. That’s because stories seem to want to constantly question the unknown, as opposed to interacting with the unknown. It’s limiting, narratively, when your only interactions you can have with the void are to go mad. What I liked about The Eldritch Teller is it felt like I had fallen into the void’s living room and it picked me up and asked how I was doing, sent me on my way, without any significant conversation. The Eldritch Teller is not going to change your life. It’s not going to unlock some big dark secret of the universe or lead you to an epiphany, but it’s entertaining – even if it’s whole purpose is to just let you know just how insignificant you are.
If you’d like to play this for yourself, you can go here. Pay a few bucks and you can experience all of the choices in the story. If you play for free, you’re restricted to whatever choice you pick – there’s no reloading the game and starting over to see the rest.
I was flipping through Kickstarter a few months back, and a project happened to catch my eye. That project was titled Modcube – Part Tokens, Part Dice, Fully Modular. I decided to back it, and tossed in roughly $60 for two sets of tokens and cubes, planning on getting the ones that were created for Warhammer 40k infantry and vehicles. Fast forward a few months, and they arrived in the mail! Excited, I eagerly dug into the package, and assembled my 16 cubes. Each cube can hold 6 different tokens. After careful planning (actually it was just me thinking “Oh this could work.”), I snapped my 16 cubes together. I had cubes with numbers showing how many wounds were taken, cubes showing what was rolled on the vehicle damage table, cubes showing if the unit needed to take a leadership test, and many other various useful status effects.
As you may remember, I brought them in to the Montgomery Mall one Saturday, and let Jay and Chris use them in their game. In the middle of the game, Jay commented on how useful they were, which I call a big plus.
I rather enjoy these cubes, and highly recommend them to others. They’re lightweight, durable, and can be rolled just like a normal 6-sided die. The cubes and the tokens come in an enormous amount of colors, so you can easily choose your favorite color, or mix-and-match to get multicolor cubes. They are very easy to customize with your own combination of tokens. As of this current writing, not only do they have tokens for 40k infantry and vehicles, but they also have tokens for Star Wars: X-Wing, Infinity, Malifaux, Star Wars: Armada, Warhammer 40k mysterious objectives, Warmachine/Hordes, Star Wars: Imperial Assault, and D&D Attack Wing, so there’s a wide range of tokens. On the downside is the fact that the colors can rub off on your hands if you handle the tokens themselves too much (Mine got a tad bit smudged as I was assembling them, but they’re still readable).
To sum it up, I’d give them a solid 9/10. They will be selling them to the general public sometime in November at their site, www.modcube.com, so keep checking there to get yours!