Saturday, July 22, 2006

Friday was the official release date of Coldsnap, the latest expansion to Magic: the Gathering I went to the release tournament up in Burlington (of course). I didn't do great, but I could have been worse - I think I was 13th out of 22 or so.

But anyways, had fun, and I saw a lot of interesting stuff... my mind, it boggles.

For those friends of mine who don't play, or who did once but haven't in years, the company that makes these cards releases a block of three new sets every year, with common themes and play mechanics and a storyline linking them together and stuff. There's always the core set which changes very little and is very basic and general, and then there are expansion sets that... aren't. But it wasn't always that way. When I started playing, wow, more than 10 years ago probably, the pattern of blocks didn't exist yet. There were expansion sets, but except for one pair, they were unrelated to each other. And in a lot of ways, the production values were lower. Card uses and interactions were less well-planned than they are now and the art receives a lot more care today than When I Was Your Age (TM).

That trip down memory lane is because the Coldsnap set is meant to be the "lost set" of the Ice Age block. That's the exception I mentioned above, Ice Age and its sequel, Alliances. It's not a "real" block because there wasn't a third set and the themes were handled differently from what would become the norm. And at some point years later, the company decided to complete the block, publicized with stories about "finding" a detailed plan for a never-realized third set, and Coldsnap was the result. The same themes and storylines as its predecessors, and similar mechanics, but modern ways of putting it together.

So it's sort of funny that Magic has reached the point where the creators can indulge nostalgia, but the part that I was calling mind-boggling is just how they're doing that. Basically, there's a huge category of cards no one ever expects to see just because they're out of print which have come back. There's this weird rules thing going on where they didn't "officially" reprint iconic cards like Swords to Plowshares or low-key but ahead-of-their-time cards like Kjeldoran Pride, but still included copies in preconstructed decks. Plus new cards that echo old ones, like really fricking huge blue creatures that are almost impossible to use.

The point is... suddenly I wish my work schedule allowed me to go to the casual Magic nights on Monday, because it would be a lot of fun to dig into my collection for stuff like this, and I'm sure I'm not the only person who is thinking that way.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Posting from Algebars, the cyber café on Church Street in Burlington. This is not because there's a problem with my newfound Internet access at home. No, it's because the final, Newark-Burlington leg of my parent's flight home from their weeklong vacation has been postponed - from 8:20 p.m. to about 11:20 if they're lucky, or until tomorrow morning if they aren't lucky. As if the wait wasn't bad enough, apparently the airline has announced they would not be paying for hotel rooms if they do have to stay in Newark overnight. Ouch. Moral of the story: don't fly Continental.

And yet as bad as that is for my parents, it could be worse. Later tonight vs. tomorrow morning will depend on whether the plan flies out of where it is to get to Newark in the first place, which has already been delayed for about four hours, I think it was. During which time the travelers - well, "travelers" - are stuck sitting in the plane, on the runway, waiting for the windsock to come to a full and complete stop. Or something like that. For more than four hours already.

Tangential thought: all the Internet travel sites like or travelocity probably wind up helping the companies with crappy customer service. When you're buying your Christmas vacation tickets through a middleman, with three layovers to save money, will you really remember who screwed you over two years ago on the way to a class reunion in a completely different place? Well, I don't know, maybe someone else would. But four years ago now I was flying back from a visit to friends in Illinois, and like my parents right now, the flight into Burlington was cancelled, but in my case the airline did pay for a hotel room and a cab ride the next day. And I couldn't tell you which airline it was for the life of me.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Posting from my apartment. Which, yes, means I have Internet access here. So, as the kids say these days... w00t!

I'm afraid this may turn out to be too slow for games like World of Warcraft, because I only got the basic service. However, then again it might not, and either way I can worry about it later - I have "The Daily Show" clips to catch up on and stuff like that. :)