Best of 2015

Well it’s a new year, so that means it’s time to look back on the Best of 2015. I’ll be looking at a number of categories where there were at least 2 competitors and talk about it for a bit. Also as a general rule this is will be stuff that came out in 2015, not what I discovered in 2015. You know, what one would expect from a ‘best of’ post. Let’s not waste any time and jump right in.

Best Album: All Hands by Doomtree-Ever since I was introduced to Doomtree via their appearance on Welcome to Night Vale, I’ve been a huge fan. Everything that I enjoyed about their previous album, No Kings, is here: crafty, politically aware wordplay set to an energetic beat/rhyme that’s different.

Runner Up: Positive Songs for Negative People by Frank Turner. I just like more songs on All Hands.

Best new TV show: Sense8-Whille Sense8 is a very mixed show. On one hand, it does a lot of things right. On the other hand, its diversity and presentation leaves much to be desired. That being said, the show is interesting (both in narrative and cinematography) and is the show I’m most looking forward to in 2016.

Runner ups: Master of None, Marvel’s Jessica Jones, the Expanse. All of these either had more elements that grated on me while I watched the show or they’re too new.

Best continuing TV show: Parks and Recreation- The final season was an unabashed victory lap for characters that we had come to know over the past seven years. While the rough parts of the season really showcased that the show needed to end, those parts could be overlooked for what amounts to uplifting, optimistic fanservice.

Runner Up: The 100. The only other show that fits the category.

Best Movie: Mad Max: Fury Road-No one expected Fury Road to gain the critical acclaim that it did, but it did and for good reason. At the film’s core is a very well done action movie. But more importantly than that, it’s smart. The worldbuilding, characterization and the way in which the film addresses issues such as disability and feminism are engaging.

Runner Up: Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This just barely lost out as I felt the action scenes were tighter in Mad Max.

Best Podcast: Girlfriend Bracket-Four women talk about competitive Magic: the Gathering and other related topics. It’s a hang out style podcast with cool people.

Runner Up: Qwerpline, Fight the Future. The former is LoadingReadyRun doing Welcome to Night Vale, except more over the top and no weather. The latter is a review of YA dystopia.

No games or books since I’m currently working through my backlog. Next week I’ll be talking about/reviewing Star Wars: the Force Awakens. Till then.

Best New Stuff of 2014

Well we’re into 2015 so that means looking back at the past year and figuring out what the best stuff from it was. If possible I’m going to restrict myself to stuff that came out in 2014 since that’s just more interesting in my opinion. If there are any categories that I feel like I should talk about and it’s about stuff I’ve discovered in the past year then I’ll talk about that a bit further down. Let’s get to it.

Favorite movie: Snowpiercer– I reviewed this movie a few months back and my opinion of it has only gone up. This is partly due to an increase of my general appreciation of it and partly because of the commentary I’ve read on it.

Favorite web series: Carmilla– This is basically what happens when you mix Buffy the Vampire the Slayer without Joss Whedon’s latent sexism, a moderately more restrained Welcome to Night Vale in terms of weirdness and I assume Veronica Mars(I never got around to watching it) It’s a really fun indie web series that’s easy to watch. The whole season is roughly an hour and a half, two at most and the individual episodes average out to five minutes.

Favorite game: 2048– In case you somehow missed this, 2048 is about adding blocks together to get to 2048. It’s very simple, very addictive and requires thought due to the element of randomness in it.

Favorite podcast: Constructed Resources- I talked about this two weeks ago so I’m not going to rehash anything here. It’s one of two podcasts I listen to that came out last year.

Favorite Live Action TV Show: the 100, if by virtue of the fact that I didn’t try many new shows this year. It’s not the greatest, but its fun.

Favorite Animated TV:  BoJack Horseman-Not only this is brilliantly dark and not so dark humor, it’s the only new animated series. All of the anime I’ve watched and liked came out in 2013.

I don’t have a favorite music related thing or book cause I didn’t consume anything that came out last year in those two categories. I can’t think of any other categories. Till next time

What I’m Listening to: Podcasts January 2015 edition

I’m chewing on a few other ideas for posts so I figured I’d start this year off with something on the fluffy side: podcasts. One of the advantages of getting a smartphone is that I have a way of actually listening to them in an organized manner instead of the sporadic manner that I had before. So I figured I’d talk about what I’m listening to. Let’s get into it.

First, I’m on Android and use Podcast Addict. It’s free, you can pay to get rid of the ads and it does basically everything I want.

The stuff I can listen to can be broken up into the following categories: Loadingreadyrun, Music, Gaming, Other

Loadingreadyrun: They’re a Canadian sketch comedy group who put out an enormous amount of content on a weekly basis. I suggest checking them out and if you like their stuff listen to their podcasts.

  • Lrrcast: Their normal podcast where they talk about random stuff
  • TapTapConcede: Magic the Gathering oriented podcast
  • Temple of the Lava Bears: A Dungeons and Dragons campaign

Gaming: This is heavily biased towards Magic podcasts due to wanting to keep my podcasts down to a somewhat manageable level and networking.

  • Drive to Work: Mark Rosewater, the head designer of MtG, talks about topics related to his job on his drive to work
  • Limited Resources: Marshall Sutcliffe and guests talk about Limited. I don’t really listen to this given my general low interest in Limited but there are some good episodes nonetheless
  • Constructed Resources: Marshall Sutcliffe and Jon Loucks talk about Constructed Magic. Finding Constructed and Jon Loucks to be more interesting than Limited, I enjoy this one a lot more
  • Victory Conditions: Jon Loucks talks to his coworkers about game design. I’m really enjoying this but wish it was longer.
  • The Dice Tower: This makes me feel like I’m connected to a wider range of board games than I am in actuality and there can be neat things from time to time.

Music:  Apparently EDM is really popular as podcasts. While I like the genre I only follow two since at a certain point the music is very samey. They’re Group Therapy and Sound of Egypt.

Other: I couldn’t think of a better way to describe Welcome to Night Vale; which is a fake pubic radio show set in the town of Night Vale, where weird stuff happens.

That’s all I got for this week, if you have any suggestions feel free to suggest them in the comments with an elevator pitch. Till next time where I do another Solforge draft.

 

One Year Anniversary

WordPress has informed me that I have had this blog for year/over a year(it’s not really clear which) so hat’s off to me that I kept a mostly consistent posting schedule and thanks to all my readers. I hope to keep writing interesting in the coming year.

Why I Game

Addressing the underlying issue of why I write on this blog just about every week seems like a good idea. While individual blog posts have their own idiosyncratic motivation behind them, I have never addressed the general reason for this blog. the most concise way to answer the question of why would be for the experience. This also covers how I game in all the various iterations.

What that experience is changes from game to game and the way in which that game is played. I can play Ticket to Ride or Duels of the Planeswalker on my computer in order to play the game and also just unabashedly win.* I still get the intellectual stimulation from playing the game but little else.

For the most part this is also true for playing games online, by which I primarily mean Magic Online and Dominion. While playing against other people does mean that I want to be a better player and be courteous. Otherwise it is still not really a social experience for the most part.

These two are fine, cause sometimes I just want to be able to play a game and not have to deal with people, or the physical components and all that entails as well.

Play By Forums and Play By Emails are a bit amorphous by definition. It really depends on the group and game in question. It’s still a matter of enjoying the game, but at this point on the spectrum you also start to enjoy the social aspect of gaming.

The natural end point of this progression would be face to face gaming**. This is where both the social and intellectual elements are present. However the intellectual element is decreased due to the time constraints of playing face to face compared to playing over the internet. There is less time to process every angle of a board state  and make the most optimal move based upon that. In practice is isn’t as large as it is in theory 99% of the time On the other hand, the people you’re playing with won’t be totally fixated on the game and conversation about the game will happen. Part of the experience of gaming is doing something with your friends, and through gaming I have become friends with some truly great people. I’ve also met some of the most insufferable and vile people that I”ve ever had the displeasure of knowing; but that’s the way it breaks.

Gaming is an experience and the ways in which you can game offer a variety of experiences that are all valuable in their own right.

*’Duels in particular is rather good for this as the AI being bad means that you have more leeway to win more and go deep.

**VASSAL basically counts for this as well, you just dont’ have to worry about the internet dropping when you play face to face.