Archive for the Movies Category

The Dynamics of My Multiplayer

Posted in Movies, Randomness, VS Ramblings on September 29, 2008 by omnicresence

Gargh.  Curses.  My colleague got to attend an exclusive Hasbro convention in Hong Kong, during which she got to see sneak peeks at the new toys they’ll be releasing for the Transformers 2 and G.I. Joe movies next year, as well as images from the movies themselves.  I, on the other hand, was shipped off to the southern point of the Philippines, where the highlight of my trip was the purchase of 11 kilos of pomelos.  And these were both work trips.  Life isn’t fair sometimes.

Ah well.  That’s not the point of this post.  What I really want to talk about is how my friends and I play a unique blend of multiplayer VS, in which decks that you would never consider playing even for fun have a chance to shine.  The rules are:

1)  Even number of players, at least 4, divide into two teams.  Each team starts with endurance equal to 50 times the number of players in a team, but no more than 150.

2)  Shared front and support rows, though no shared resources.  Recruitment and resource laying can be in any order that the team chooses.

3)  Characters that belong to different players cannot team attack.  However, characters can reinforce other characters regardless of team affiliation.  This rule was set to ensure that neither team would win by cheap shot breakthrough on weakling characters, and though I know it does make certain things easier, the fun factor is enhanced considerably.

4)  Effects that say “you control” can still only be played on characters you control.

5)  Burn effects that simultaneously affect all opposing players or all players, such as I.Q.’s draw burn effect, are counted only once for each team.

Clearly, this format takes a giant dump on all the Tier One decks that you’ve ever played, particularly those that try to force a stall or win the game by turn four.  The quantity of opposing characters that one has to deal with, even with potentially twice the allied characters, is daunting.  It gets worse if you miss a drop or two, though that’s just as likely to happen to the other side, as well.  Moreover, you quickly find, especially in the larger (3 on 3 and beyond) games, that you won’t quite have all the answers you need.  Sooner more than later, you will run out of combat pumps, negation and exhaustion effects, and extra cards to pitch.  Really, when you’re facing a full deck’s worth of effects from three different players, there is never a turn when you feel you’ve finally exhausted your opponents’ options.

Alternate win condition and crazy combo decks have it easy in this format, since they can concentrate on the alternate win while their teammates stave off the opposition.  The Secret Six Victorious win is quite easily achieved, I have discovered to my chagrin, when his teammate is drawing all the fire and keeping the SS characters protected at his expense.  Time can be bought for someone’s wacky combo to trigger.

Certain cards become monstrous in this format, such as Metropolis Marvel Superman and Bring It On.  Leader cards also become much more useful, able to dispense abilities to a wider variety of worthy recipients.  Teen Titans Go! in teams featuring two or more Teen Titans decks is practically cheating.

Naturally, team synergy will play an important element in victory, and a team comprised of Future Foe discard and Injustice Gang Hand Burn will have a much harder time winning than, say, an Avengers Leader deck and an Avengers Reservist deck.  Mileage varies with each pairing, but that’s the beauty of the format — no matter how fantastic your deck is, if you’ve got no teamwork with your partner or partners, you will lose out to weaker decks that happen to work well together.

It’s a whole mess of fun, and worth a diversion every now and then from the intensity of the one-on-one VS format.  If you enjoyed the Galactus experience, and wished you could band together to fight a common swarm of foes instead of single devouring conqueror, then give this format a try.

Advertisements

Stark Raving Mad

Posted in Movies on May 1, 2008 by omnicresence

Why are you still reading this?  Go watch Iron Man.  Nownownow.  It’ll be one of the finest comic book cinematic experiences you’ll ever relish.

Seriously, though, it’s been a while since the debut of a comics hero on the silver screen was done so right; with just the right amount of fan service for the comics geeks like myself, and enough of more conventional fare to satisfy the mainstream audience.  If you’d never heard of Iron Man before the movie trailers started showing up in theaters, this movie would probably have you careening down the street looking for the nearest comic book shop in a frantic effort to dig up all the information you could about this now-prominent billionaire playboy turned S.H.I.E.L.D. director.  Or not.  Possibly.

If you want a proper review of this film, I point you in the direction of the Rotten Tomatoes site (www.rottentomatoes.com), where you can find links to the minced words of the professional critics, whom you’ll find mostly have the same thing to say about Iron Man:  the movie is not without its flaws, and kind of veers into superhero cliche territory in the third act, but overall, it rocks hard.  And I’m certain any person who’s caught the trailers and has an IQ above room temperature can figure out the basic direction of the story, which is mostly origin but not without its thrilling action sequences.

I’m not going to gush (or at least try my darnedest not to), but I will unabashedly admit I was thoroughly entertained and will try to watch this a few more times before it rotates out of theaters.  Here’s why:

Robert Downey Jr. IS Tony Stark. Take note of that qualification; I didn’t say Iron Man, because at the end of the day it doesn’t take too much acting chops to play a guy in a flying metal suit.  But the moment Robert appears onscreen, he embodies the reckless genius in all his swaggering glory, equal parts ego and fun-loving socialite, who has enough awkward moments and Dexter’s Lab mistakes to endear him to all but the most cold-blooded of mammals.  My girlfriend didn’t have a clue who Tony Stark was before the film began, but when it ended, unequivocally stated that she couldn’t think of anyone else who could have pulled it off.

Oh, the Fan Service. Scattered everywhere like it was Easter Sunday are references to everything you could have asked for in an Iron Man movie without threatening to alienate the non-enthusiasts.  There’s S.H.I.E.L.D., Happy Hogan, War Machine, and… something too cool to spoil.  I beseech you, WAIT UNTIL THE END CREDITS HAVE RUN.  WAIT UNTIL THE END CREDITS HAVE RUN.  WAIT UNTIL THE END CREDITS HAVE RUN. If you’ve ever, ever made yours Marvel, you’ll be glad you stayed behind.

The Incredible Machines. The Iron Man suit undergoes a variety of iterations, all of which are believable enough given the state of today’s technology, and each of which is spectacular in its own way.  But the scene stealer of the film, of which a friend of mine wanted her own, is the fire extinguisher droid.  You’ll see what I mean, and you’ll want one too.

A Top Notch Supporting Cast. You’d think that all that star power, with Gwyneth Paltrow as the almost unflappable faithful assistant Pepper Potts, and Jeff Bridges as the sly, manipulative Obadiah Stane, would have ended up suffocating the film.  Instead, they enhance it thoroughly, as each member of the supporting cast delivers a solid performance that complements Robert’s Tony Stark brilliantly, playing off of various facets of the main character’s personality.

I’m not going to say Iron Man was perfect, of course – the typical superhero showdown that happens at the film’s climax came off somewhat cliche and too Deus Ex Machina for my tastes – but that didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the movie.

Well, there you have it.  Iron Man’s awesome.  Get thee to a theatre!

Iron Man Movie Day!

Posted in Movies on April 28, 2008 by omnicresence

Curiously enough, we here in the Philippines get to watch Iron Man a few days earlier than in another parts of the world, on April 30, 2008, which is set conveniently before Labor Day, so we expect the theaters to be flooded with film enthusiasts and comic book mavens alike to catch the feature length movie of one of Marvel’s oldest and (presently) most controversial heroes.

Iron Man is, to me, the Marvel/Avengers equivalent of Batman in DC/Justice League, as the one member of the group whose powers are not conferred by some supernatural origin or inherent in the character’s physiology, either naturally or through artificial enhancement.  Take away the suit and Tony Stark is just a man with excellent business savvy and astonishing intellect,  who would be even less effective in a fight than Bruce Wayne due to the latter’s martial arts background and constant workouts in the Batcave.  I realize that the Extremis upgrade has invalidated that premise somewhat, but it’s a fairly recent innovation that has not diminished the gripping humanity of the man in the iron mask.

More to the point, just as some people love the Batman character for the fact that anyone could be Batman if they had similar resources and some trauma-driven drive to combat crime, the same could be said for Iron Man, at least once technology catches up (if it hasn’t already been developed in some top secret military facility somewhere in the world).  I also appreciate how Iron Man’s constant struggle with alcoholism is a recurring issue in the comics, and handled realistically instead of simply being provided as a character flaw to make him more “interesting”.

Advance praise has been heaped on the movie by reviewers who were lucky enough to sneak into preview screenings.  So I’m keeping my expectations sober but also secretly hoping to be wowed.

I’ll be posting a review on the movie once I’ve watched it, so stay tuned.