Review of Star Wars: the Clone Wars Season 1

As I mentioned a while ago, the second Clone Wars series is pretty awesome. I finally got around to finishing the first season and want to talk about it, so here we are. This is going to be a review more along the lines of my OITNB Season 2 review or The Honor of the Queen mainly cause it’s not so much a review so much as a discussion. Nonetheless, review is a catch all term these days so that’s what I use.

BEWARE OF SPOILERS YE WHO ENTER

Favorite Stand Alone Episode: Ambush. Honorable mention: Rookies, Hostage Situation 

‘Ambush’ is a really strong episode not only because of its own merits but it gives the viewer a good idea what’s actually going to be covered in this show. Yoda gets to be cool all on his own and the idea of clones as people is fairly important to the episode. It’s opening the door of possibilities of what this show can, and will do in the future. Rookies gets an honorable mention for being my second favorite by a very narrow margin. It provides a different perspective and is really fun on top of that. Hostage Situation on the other hand showcases a different side of the show. It makes the Padme/Anakin relationship believable as well as build up the Palpatine/Anakin relationship as well as some stuff on the homefront. It does all of this through a Die Hard scenario, which is never a bad thing if you do it right.

Worst Stand Alone Episode: Trespass

This episode has one glaring flaw in it that drags the whole thing down: the villain is a moron. While the fact that he stuck to his principles is nice from a narrative point of view, it’s just dumb.

Favorite Arc: Ryloth Honorable Mention: Malevonce

Ryloth is a really good war story that showcases a lot of different things effectively. It’s own downside is that the political element doesn’t come up until the last episode and makes the ending seem way too neat. Given how this all ends it’s honestly surprising that the Republic didn’t go back on its word and keep a GAR garrison on the planet. Revisiting this plot in the future is something I’m hoping for. Malevolence gets an honorable mention again for being my second favorite but it’s very different. Whereas Ryloth shows the Clone Wars as sort of its own thing, Malevolence feels a lot closer to classic Star Wars.

Worst Arc: Nute Gunray Captured

This sequence of episodes is terrible for one reason: it beats you over the head with the show’s limits. Nothing can have a lasting effect cause we know what happens to these people and it’s not an interesting journey. In comparison Dooku getting captured is engaging and doesn’t belabor the inevitable hanging over the characters’ heads.

Most frustrating episode: The Hidden Enemy

The Clone Wars has to walk a very fine when it comes to the Clones. On one hand, it’s actually interested in making them actual characters instead of faceless grunts. On the other hand, they’re child slave soldiers. Making that second part the motivation behind a traitor is incredibly awkward at best. if the show is going to remind the viewer that the clones are child slave soldiers in the future,I hope it does so with more thought.

Most Surprising Character: Jar-Jar

Funny how a comic relief character isn’t as bad in a cartoon. It also helps that he’s allowed to be competent, or I suppose a better would be successful, in his own way.

Most Boring Character: Assajj Ventress

I think I’ve just hit a saturation point with her over the years. She does one thing, and from a narrative/visual point of she does it well. It’s just meh. The most I can hope for is that her fate is different than what we already have.

Character I want to see more: Ahsoka Honorable Mention: Cad Bane

Ahsoka’s story isn’t complete and she’s the one variable the show has to play with. Not only that but she’s not a bad character in her own right. Cad Bane gets an honorable mention cause he’s a hyper-competent mundane who wins against the Jedi and i know he’s in the first arc of the second season.

Things that annoy me for no good reason: The Separatist Alliance

It’s the Confederacy of independent Systems.

 

That’s all the specific thoughts I have about the season. Overall it’s strong but there’s only so much to talk about. Join me next week when I talk about the latest deck building hit, Star Realms.

 

Solforge draftcap no. 4

A new set came out today and that means a new draft environment, especially since most of the cards from Alpha have been rotated out. Here is the first draft I’ve done of the new set.

Before discussing the picks here are my general thoughts going into it: Nekrium is the best faction, it lost the baggage that Alpha gave it while having new power. Alloyin was the worst since most of its power was tied to Alpha cards. Uterra is still solid and hasn’t really changed much. With that in mind, let’s dive in.

Pack 1:

Aether Root and Crypt Conjurer are not where you want to be since they rely on spells to properly function. Runbark Guardian is essentially a Fangwood Ravager with upside. Onxyium Alloyomancer and Oratek Warhammer are Allied cards, which I dislike taking first  and involve Alloyin at that, so really not where i want to be. Fleshreaver seems pretty sweet on its own and puts me into Nekrium, so easy pick here.

01

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 2:

On one hand, I really wanted to just force Nekrium/Uterra. On the other hand, I hate forcing with sub optimal cards, which is what i think of Lysian Hydra and Seal of Deepwood. In addition to that i have two powerful Tempys spells here and Tempys isn’t terrible. I take the Frostshatter Strike cause it impacts multiple lanes and can put me over the top to win a game.

02

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 3: This is an interesting pack, aside from the Ghastly Renewal all of these cards have merit. Dr. Frankenbaum is not very good on his own, but I already have 1 Abombination and it’s only the third pack, I can take my changes and tr to make that deck work. Xithian Rotfiend is just a really powerful underdrop. Ebonskull Warlord is also an underdrop, but one that assumes the game will go long for maximum value. I do not take the good doktor cause i’m a coward who doesn’t want to live the dream. I take Rotfiend cause I figure it’s better than the Warlord.

03

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 4:

This pack on the other hand is far less exciting. Gloomspire Wurm isn’t remotely a good card so that leaves Blight Witch and Spirit Weaver. I take the Spirit Reaver mainly cause I didn’t think very highly of Blight Witch or Consistent. In hindsight this was almost definitely a mistake borne out of me not realizing how this works in play. While it still needs pump to really shine, it does a fair amount on its own.

04

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 5:

I don’t think Seal of Kadras is all that good since it does so little until level 3. Ebonskull Warlord as mentioned before is a quasi underdrop and not a spell, so he’s the pick by default.

05

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 6: Wallbreaker Yeti is fine with some varying upside. Razortooth Stalker is powerful, just more reasonable after the nerf. Seal of Tarsus strikes me as one of the better seals but not what I want here. Duskspire Zombie is not what this deck wants to do. Cloudreaver Titan does a lot of work but I don’t think it’s better than Razortooth Stalker, the former can more easily trade and if left unchecked will take over a game, Titan just gets in there but doesn’t have as much impact. i take the Stalker

06

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 7: Gloomfiend is fine, Seal of Tarsus is also fine. Ruthless Wanderer doesn’t seem that good. Herald of Destruction doesn’t have a terrible body and can just wreck some decks, or at least limit their cards by a nonzero amount. Nyrali Ooze is fine if unexciting. I take Herald cause it seems like a powerful silver bullet.

07

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 8; Crag Walker is a perfectly fine French vanilla creature. Uranti Warstoker isn’t happening. Catacomb Spider seems like none of it’s numbers are high enough. Sorrow Harvester would stand out more if i had taken the Frankenbaum but is otherwise unexciting. Crag Walker goes into the deck.

08

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 9:Tremorcharge can be good but doesn’t really key off of a lot of cards i have at the moment and i want to hold off on spells. Dysian Broodmother seems basically useless if you aren’t allied Uterra; Scourgeflame Sorcerer isn’t exactly a card or effect I find myself wanting. Crag Walker still seems fine and is my pick.

09

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 10: Tarsian Pact hasn’t really impressed me, coming off as not enough bang for my buck. Glacial Crush can just randomly swing games in my favor and is a fine “sideboard” card to have.

10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 11: My cowardice from earlier comes back to haunt me with a second doktor. The problem is that having passed on the first one I’m a lot more inclined to pass on this one. Grave Geist is solid. Firemane Steed and Kadras Colossus are underwhelming for different reasons but both end up not doing much. I don’t want a second Glaciah Crush so Grave Gesit is the clear pick.

11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 12: Master of Elements is a Fangwood Ravager with upside and not terribly exciting. Cinder Colossus is not where this deck wants to be. Xithian Crusher is somewhat analogous to Stonefist Giant and is good enough for me.

12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 13: Byzerak Frostmaiden can muck up the board and be fairly annoying. Legion Titan strikes me as too swing to pay off, especially since it seems like attack is higher in general. Blightskull Phantasm is fine without the ability and the ability is fairly strong. I’ve never played with the Frostmaiden so I take it. In hindsight the Phantasm would’ve been better.

13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 14;

Corpulent Shambler is the best card here by a long shot and is the easy pick here.

14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 15: Contagion Lord is super interesting as a card. It has a playable body on its own and being a quasi Soul harvest is fairly useful. It does have a cost in adding two cards to your deck, but those guys aren’t bad. Not only does it seem to be super sweet, it’s better than the Wurm and the easy pick here.

15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 16:

The pick for me is between Fleshreaver and Grave Geist. I opt for Grave Geist cause it’s a known quantity. In hindsight I stand by that pick.

16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 17: Nyrali Symbiote is fine, especially if you can have it eat something. Primordial is unexciting at best. Spiritfrost Shaman is trading a point of attack at level 3 for an ability at all levels to just dome my opponent. i’l take that trade.

17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 18:

Flamerift Instigator is a powerful card, it’s going to trade for a lot with it’s body but if it can unleash any huge defenders than you’re in business. Zephyr mage is clunky at best. Graveborn Glutton is still a premier common and the pick here.

18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 19: Windcaller Shaman does the most out of these cards, eas pick.

19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 20: Spiritleash, while powerful doesn’t really have any combos with my deck thus far. Seal of Tarsus is an unknown and seems fine on it’s own.

20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 21: i have no idea how good Xithian Direhound is even though it seems like it’s fairly decent, especially in an aggressive deck ike this. I do know that Conflagrate is a good spell and I can stand to take a few of them.

21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 22: Ashuarian Brawler is a solid underdrop as is Nyrali Ambusher. Darkfrost Reaper is unexciting. Runespark Primordial strikes me as a worse Lightning Wurm, who was not that great. I take the Brawler since I feel like I’m more aggressive and want to capitalize on that as much as possible.

22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 23: Everflame Mystic is fine. Talin Stampede doesn’t seem like it’ll pump a lot of my dudes. Tremorcharge only needs to work with one though and is a big swing.

23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 24: Ice Torrent doesn’t do anything so time to find out if Xithian Direhound is any good.

24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 25; And here I’ll take the Instigator easily

25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 26:

Uranti Icemage does combo with Glacial Crush, but not much else. Spiritcleave is a conditional removal spell but i don’t feel ike the condition is that hard to jump through, especially since a lot of my creatures have low health. Cinderbound Barbarian is basically the new Magma Hound. I take the cleave cause I want an answer to bombs. i don’t know if this pick is objectively wrong but based on the games I played it was.

26

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 27; Oratek Battlebrand is not what you want if you’re not A/T. Spirit Torrent doesn’t do anything. Organ Harvester is another way to answer bombs and is my pick.

27

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 28:

Cinder Mystic is unexciting and i don’t want the game to go long enough where it’s upside is relevant. It’s either between Ebonskull Warlord or Conflagrate. I opt for the latter cause i feel like i get more flexibility out of it.

28

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 29: I take Burnout cause I want to see how it plays and don’t have a high opinion of blight witch. In hindsight I should’ve taken the Blight Witch to keep the spell count down.

29

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack 30:

Instigator is a fine aggressive card and probably shouldn’t be here.

30

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The draft did not go so well. Ended up 2-2. Part of it was a function of some poor picks that resulted in a deck that had individually had some powerful cards in it but a lack of overarching synergy that gave it a real kick. A lot of this was based upon trying to work through how the new mechanics play out. I’m sure there were some misplays as well. It’s an interesting format and the new mechanics are definitely upending the way we play the game. Should be fun.

 

Feel free to comment, next week I have a hunch I’ll be talking about Star Wars but that’s not set in stone. Until next time.

 

Puzzle Strike is if nothing else, super neat

David Sirlin is one of those names that sooner or later you’ll gain an understanding for in the gaming community. He’s famous for writing Play to Win, one part a gamer’s Art of War, one part apologia for the mindset of a Spike. We’re not here to talk about his book though, we’re here to talk about a game he’s made, Puzzle Strike, a deckbuilding game based off of Super Puzzle Fighter Turbo II. Lt’s dive into it, shall we?

First off, this isn’t a review. I don’t feel like I’ve played the game enough to develop a concrete opinion of it. instead I just want to talk about the game and what I find interesting about it.

Puzzle Strike has all the elements of a deck builder except for the part about having cards. Instead it uses chips*, which have two main advantages: 1. no shuffling 2. cheaper to produce. The fact that there’s no shuffling means there’s no basically no downtime, a common occurrence in deckbuilders is that the game is forced to stop as people shuffle their decks. Using chips eliminates that aspect and means the game plays out faster; combined with the central conflict should produce a pretty quick play time.**

There is a major downside to using chips though: you lose artwork and create a serious design constraint in space. Art is a quick visual shorthand of what a thing is. While a new player won’t know what a card does in either case, an experienced player can’t gain that advantage and speed up play. This is mitigated by Puzzle Strike using a fixed tableau of cards each game compared to a changing center row. The design space constraint is rather self explanatory, there’s a real upper limit on how complex you can do something.

The action economy is also interesting. Instead of a general action economy like Dominion or play everything like Ascension the game has multiple types of actions. On one hand, this creates interesting decisions as how to maximize your actions each turn. On the other hand it can also constrain the player and produce lots of terminal actions. This does mean that degeneracy is pretty hard to accomplish for more than a tun or two when you just win the game though. Which is one of the main reasons I tend to dislike tableau style deck builders. Anyone know of a good center row deck builder that has limited actions as a thing?

I can’t really comment on the characters. i think they’re all balanced? They’re probably a good starting point if you want to do characters in a deck builder?

All in all, Puzzle Strike is interesting. It does stuff that I haven’t seen before and is fun enough to play. It’s not something that i want to play a knock off though.

Next time, I”m not sure what I’m writing about, so think of it as a surprise.

*I’m aware that someone remade Dominion using chips before and Sirlin was accused of stealing the idea. That’s not really pertinent to this discussion.

**I’ve only played online against an AI.