Kalamax, the Ultimate Dinosaur

Last month, I spent $250 on Magic the Gathering cards. I’m sure some of you are thinking, “how could she spend that much money on cardboard.” Magic the Gathering is the only deck-building game I’m currently playing and I wanted new cards from the Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths set. Plus, I spent this money at my local game store and during a time like this, we need to support local businesses. In my Magic the Gathering haul, I bought three commander decks. I was able to play Kalamax, the Stormsire who is the ultimate MtG dinosaur.

Kalamax: the Elemental Dinosaur.

Before I begin this discussion, there’s one point I need to make. Wizards of the Coast has been under fire recently for racism and mistreatment for their African American employees and players. Wizards of the Coast needs to hire more POC writers and illustrators to alleviate this situation. By buying the Ikoria set, I did provide profit to my local game store along with Wizards. Since this is the case, I will link at the end of my post a couple of charities to donate to because Black Lives Matter.

Kalamax, the Stormsire is the commander in this Ikoria commander deck. Kalamax has a converted mana cost of four for a 4/4 elemental dinosaur. Kalamax aims to attack other players as this activates the special ability. If Kalamax is tapped, whenever an instant or sorcery spell is played, the spell is copied. Whenever a spell is copied, Kalamax receives a +1/+1 counter. Kalamax’s main goal is to copy spells I play which in turn makes Kalamax more powerful.

When I first played this deck, it was unorganized. I had to spend time planning out my turns to make sure I played my spells in the correct order. After a few turns, I was able to catch on how I needed to play Kalamax to make this card the most effective. I played with a friend of mine and I almost lost to her cat deck. Somehow, I managed to defeat her after killing her cats and boosting Kalamax. I ended up swinging at my opponent with Kalamax being at 25/25. There’s a land in the deck that allows me to give Kalamax trample. Trample means even if Kalamax is blocked by creatures, Kalamax can still “trample” over the creatures and hit the player with life.

Kalamax is a blast to play. The deck is already built and it runs well which means I didn’t need to purchase any other cards to play it right away. This deck is ideal for any players who plays instant or sorcery cards. If you’re a beginner to Magic, this deck may be challenging to play at first, but after a couple of practice games, you will be able to thrash through your opponents to win the game. Kalamax, the Stormsire can be purchased online or at any local game store. It’s retailed at $41.99 if you purchase the deck at Target. Prices may vary depending on where the deck is purchased.

As I discussed, here’s the link to ways to help the Black Lives Matter movement. If you’re not able to financially give, there are other ways to help. This includes voting, signing petitions, protesting, and other resources to be an ally in this movement.

Saving Halloween in Costume Quest II

Costume Quest 2 **image from Steam**

During Quarantine, I bought Xbox Game Pass. Xbox Game Pass has over 100 console and PC games to play. Besides more popular games, there are quite a few indie titles here as well. I recently downloaded What Remains of Edith Finch, but I also finished playing Costume Quest 2. Costume Quest 2 is one of my favorite games I played in 2020 because it appeals to my joy towards Halloween.

Twins Wren and Reynold are getting ready to trick or treat on Halloween night. Suddenly, dentist Dr. Orel White teams up with a time wizard to go back in time while also unleashing orc-like creatures on their town. The goal for Dr. White is to rid the world of Halloween forever. This can’t happen because Halloween is the best holiday that’s not a holiday. Wren and Reynold jump around in time to stop the infamous dentist and bring Halloween back.

Costume Quest 2 is made by Double Fine Presents. Costume Quest 2 was my first Double Fine Presents game, so I did a little research on the company. In 2019, Double Fine Presents became absorbed by Microsoft Game Studios, so they sadly won’t be making any more games. I’m disappointed as this studio is one I’m watching for. I followed the developer on Steam as I do want to play more games they made.

One of my favorite parts of the game is the battles. As you encounter the orcs, you enter into battle with your Halloween costumes. Each Halloween costume has a different ability. My personal favorites were the dinosaur, the pharaoh, and the wizard. The battles themselves remind me of Pokemon battles as you take turns using your attack move until you build enough to use your special move. There are also attack cards that provide additional bonuses in the game. I forgot to use them when I had them, but they did help me win my battles.

I’m an achievement hunter by trade and I liked that most of the achievements were fairly easy to unlock. I’m only missing one, but it’s a difficultl achievement, so I do intend on going back in the game and playing it on a harder difficulty setting.

I cannot recommend Costume Quest 2 enough. If you love Halloween as much as I do, this game has to be on your gameplay list. I love this game so much that I would buy this game on Steam to play it again. Steam does have the first Costume Quest game where the Xbox Game pass does not. If I do play both games, I will buy the Steam bundle where you can buy both for only $20.

Dating Monsters in Monster Prom

In Quarantine, I was looking for new games to play to occupy my time. I’m playing Jedi Fallen Order currently and while I’m enjoying the game, it’s a game that’s best to be played on weekends. I was looking for more casual PC games to play during the week where if I had a stressful workday, these games would relax me. Monster Prom fills this fix as it’s the perfect casual game to play during the week.

Monster Prom is a game in which you have three weeks to secure a date to prom. The exception is you’re a monster at a high school filled with other monsters. During each round, you can pick which part of the high school to interact at which allows your predetermined monster to socialize with the other monsters. At each social interaction, your character makes a choice and this choice earns you hearts with the monsters. The more hearts you have, the more likely that when you ask this monster to prom, they will say yes.

Monster Prom is a well made, dating simulator game. In the character creation, you can pick your pronouns and it includes they as a non-binary pronoun. This is a small feature to add, but it leads to gamers feeling more accepted while playing the game. All the monsters are unique in their own way. Damien is the angry devil, while Liam is a hipster vampire. The monsters combine high school stereotypes with their monster counterparts.

While playing through Monster Prom, there are secret endings to unlock. The secret endings are the prom outcomes for example if you’re date says yes or if you’re left without a date for prom. Combined with the Steam achievements allows more replay in the game.

Monster Prom is a fun dating simulator game with detailed dialogue and interesting monster characters. Let me know if you have played Monster Prom in the comments below. If so, let me know who your favorite monster is. Monster Prom can be purchased on Steam for $11.99.

Kingdom Hearts 3

Last Friday, I spent four hours and drank four hard seltzers to beat Kingdom Hearts 3. Kingdom Hearts is known for having brutal boss battles and Kingdom Hearts 3 is no different. I almost quit, but I persisted and I finally defeated Master Xehanort. Since completing Kingdom Hearts 3, I wanted to reflect on my favorite levels and general thoughts about the game.

Kingdom Hearts 3 shows our memorable key wielder Sora as his strength is at an all-time low. He travels with his companions, Donald and Goofy to regain his strength and learn the “power of waking” the ability to restore lost hearts. It’s revealed how Sora has Roxas’s heart along with two other hearts bound to his. This power will be useful to prevent Xehanort from opening Kingdom Hearts casing the world in darkness.

Look how cute Sora is!? He looks like a toy. Image belongs to Square Enix.

Kingdom Hearts 3 has levels in many of the newest worlds from recent movies. Olympus and Port Royal make a reappearance, along with new levels from Toy Story, Monster’s Inc, Tangled, and Big Hero 6. The best level was the Toy Story level. Starting in Andy’s house, the toys make their way to a major toy store. Sora can enter these gigantic toy robots to fight heartless while wandering the toy store. As a 90’s baby who grew up with older Pixar movies, Kingdom Hearts 3 appeals to my nostalgia for these movies.

The last level is where all the boss battles begin. Sora has to fight his way through all the major characters in Organization XIII. When I reached the final battle, I had leveled up Sora to level #43. In the future, I would have stayed on the Big Hero 6 level for longer to level up Sora to be more prepared for taking on Organization XIII. Before taking on Xehanort, I would recommend having at least 4+ hours of free time. There’s one final save point before entering the town and entering into Xehanort’s territory. Kingdom Hearts 3 has designated save points and you don’t want to lose progress in the fight and have to redo it.

Ultimately, Kingdom Hearts 3 is filled with nostalgia. The story isn’t the main reason why I play this series. I play for the characters including Sora with Aqua being my favorite key wielder. Besides the Toy Story level, I liked the Monster’s Inc level too. I’m impressed with the voice acting in this game. Without having the original voice actors, the characters do sound like the original characters from the movies. Kingdom Hearts 3 was worth the wait.

Game Knights, University Sims & Fortnite.

Gaming has been the perfect distraction from the current environment. Video games, board games, card games, it doesn’t matter. All forms of gaming have provided me a way to distance myself from all things Covid-19. Therefore, I wanted to share a couple of updates as to how gaming is providing me happiness throughout this time.

Winning the Game Knights Contest

Screenshot of the tweet saying I had won. I’m @bizzarebrunette

Shortly before entering Quarantine, I found out through Twitter I had won the Game Knights contest in February 2020. It was exciting! I received a signed Forest playmat, bright yellow sleeves, a green deck box, and a couple of booster packs. I used the green deck box to put my new deck in, but the sleeves and playmat have remained untouched. I have touched on recently how I’m back into playing Magic, and this added to my excitement. A special thanks to the Command Zone cast who sent me these items.

Partying in Sims #3 University Life

Jessica Day. The screenshot was taken by me.
Schmidt is in the fancy purple blazer. The screenshot taken by me.
Nick Miller. The screenshot taken by me.

Sims 3 is iconic. During a blizzard or in quarantine, Sims #3 passes the time. I purchased the University expansion pack from Steam. I’m in awe at how improved the University expansion is versus the Sims #2 version. It’s more realistic and my sims get invited to social outings. I created the cast of New Girl which includes Nick Miller, Jessica Day, Schmidt, and Winston. It’s been a blast.

Playing Fortnite Online

I never thought I would be saying this, but I have been playing Fortnite. Fortnite is a game I had written off as a game I would never play. A couple of friends from work invited me to play Fortnite and it was actually fun. To be clear, I wouldn’t play this game alone. Fortnite is meant to be played with friends and it’s one of the few games that’s cross-platform.

Next, I hope to complete KH3 (Kingdom Hearts III) along with getting further along in Jedi Fallen Order. I’m playing Monster Prom on Steam and I want to unlock all the bonus endings. Finally, I’m trying out Xbox game pass and I downloaded a couple of games on Xbox. I’m trying to make mini gaming goals, so I can be more productive as a gamer, wish me luck!

MtG Ikoria Preview

Quarantine has had an impact on my social events this year. The biggest was the cancellation of Emerald City Comic-Con. I say canceled even though it was postponed. However, I don’t think I will be able to go in August, therefore, to me it’s been canceled. Another smaller event that’s been postponed is the Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths pre-release which was supposed to happen this month. Instead of playing in the pre-release, I wanted to preview the latest set because there’s a lot to say.

One of the main reasons I play Magic is for the story. Each set has a story with the characters on the cards being a main focus to the set. In this set, it features mythical creatures such as dinosaur cats, Godzilla and nightmare squirrels. The story is told through various “field notes” written by the characters. All of these notes can be found through the MtG website Additionally, Magic has been releasing books coordinating with the launch of the set. The latest book titled Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths – Sundered Bond has been released on Amazon. Although, I read a review down below warning of animal cruelty, so I will be passing on this book myself.

Now let’s move on to the cards! When I look at new cards for a set, I browse based on color. I typically play black/green when I make a deck. Besides the color, I look at the artwork and what each card does. This card below is an example of one of the dinosaur cats in the set. In this set, there’s an ability called Mutate. This card can be combined with a human, so imagine a human riding this cat. Their abilities are combined including power and toughness. I don’t typically play with white, but I like that this card has a cheap cost with one red and one white mana.

Another mechanic with this set is companion. Companion sets rules on what kind of cards can exist in your deck. With our menacing dinosaur hippo, you can only have cards with a casting cost of three or more. Whenever a creature enters the battlefield, you may draw cards for each other card you control. Card draw in Magic is important. I have had it before where I was about to lose a game, and then I drew the card that saved me and I ended up winning. Any card that allows you to draw cards is necessary.

Here is the Nightmare Squirrel I mentioned before. This squirrel looks evil. If I had this in my deck, I would probably give him a flying counter because I would want to launch my flying squirrel at my opponent.

This post has already gotten way too long. All the cards can be found by this link from the MtG website. I already messaged my local game store to see if they’re doing pre-orders for this new set. If I have to play with friends through Zoom, so be it. If you do play Magic, I highly recommend pre-ordering from your local game store. This quarantine is hurting local businesses and I know I want my local businesses to re-open after this quarantine has been lifted. Let me know in the comments what cards you’re looking forward to playing with Ikoria.

Spyfox: In Dry Cereal

Spyfox in “Dry Cereal”.

Last week, I was browsing the games on Steam. I usually don’t like playing my console games during the week because I have terrible time management. I will start playing Kingdom Hearts III and three hours will go by. Therefore, I play my PS4 on weekends. Steam has a wide variety of shorter games to play. I stumbled upon Spyfox: In Dry Cereal and all of my childhood memories flooded back to me. It was a major deja vu moment. The game was only $7, so why not buy it? This game was so much fun playing as an adult even though it was aimed for kids.

Spyfox stars our favorite international spy who happens to be a walking and talking fox. He is sent on a mission to stop William the Kid from destroying the world and stealing all the milk. Who wants to eat dry cereal??? Each game has gadgets Spyfox has to utilize in his missions. As you progress through the story, you start to utilize the gadgets and solve puzzles. I will be completely transparent, some of the puzzles took me a little bit of time to solve. There was one puzzle with lasers and it took me at least twenty minutes to figure out. For a computer game that’s catered to kids, I still found this to be engaging.

Spyfox has many spy puns from pop culture. Spyfox’s boss is “Monkey Penny” aka. Moneypenny from the James Bond franchise. Professor Quack is the “gadget” duck which references “Q” from the James Bond franchise. Some of the quips from the game include making fun of people who don’t drink dairy milk. For a game that was released in the late ’90s, the quips were actually pretty good.

Spyfox: In Dry Cereal took me two hours to complete. I purchased the game on Steam and there’s an incentive to keep playing the game by unlocking trading cards of the characters. I still have one more to unlock. Spyfox is suave, funny and the ultimate fox.

The Command Zone

Usually, I don’t watch gaming streamers. If I want to play video games or board games, I want to do it myself versus watching others play. However, The Command Zone Youtube channel is one of my exceptions. The Command Zone is a Magic the Gathering channel where they almost always play Commander. Commander is a format where one card is your “Commander” and your deck compliments this one creature. This is the form of Magic I play mostly because I can utilize every single card since the game’s existence in the early ’90’s. If you play Magic the Gathering, I cannot recommend this Youtube channel enough.

One of the best episodes of Game Knights. Found on the Game Knights Youtube Channel.

Hosted by Josh Lee Kwai and Jimmy Wong, they bring two other players onto their show to play a round of Commander. These players vary, but I like how they bring a variety of players with different play styles to their videos. I’m currently watching the episode where they bring a fan onto their show to play. This episode has been my favorite as the fan they chose is super good at the game and giving both Josh and Jimmy a run for their money.

Each episode of “Game Knights” where they play against each other can range from 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. I don’t have the attention span to watch an episode in one sitting, so I watch 10 – 15 minutes of each episode whenever I have free time. I have the Game Knights playlist in one of my internet tabs, so I can return to it at any time.

Discovering The Command Zone / Game Knights has inspired me to start deck-building again. I’m building a red/green big creatures deck with the new cards from the Theros Beyond Death set. I haven’t built a deck in at least 3-4 years, so it’s exciting to be inspired to return to crafting my deck. This inspiration has come from the Command Zone and I’m thankful for discovering their gaming space.

I have had a love/hate relationship with Magic the Gathering for a while and watching The Command Zone has invigorated my love for the game. It’s not often where I become this invested in gathering cards from my collection. If you’re a Magic the Gathering player, this is a Youtube channel you need to subscribe to. They do have a Command Zone podcast if you prefer podcasts over Youtube channels. The Command Zone can be found on Youtube or through their podcast available on Stitcher or Apple Podcasts.

Pilot like Scoundrels in Star Wars: Outer Rim

Once a month, I get together with my brother, uncle and our family friend to play games. It’s either a whole day spent playing Magic the Gathering or it’s a day entirely devoted to board games. Towards the beginning of January, my uncle brought out Star Wars: Outer Rim for us all to try. This is going to be repetitive, but my favorite way to enjoy Star Wars is through gaming. I mentioned this in my Star Wars Destiny article I typed out recently. Star Wars: Outer Rim is no exception as it’s a strategic game meant to be played with a decent sized gaming group.

Star Wars: Outer Rim focuses on the planets within Star Wars that are filled with villainy and chaos. Each player picks a pilot, a ship and a scorecard to track progress. Picking a pilot was easy when I saw Jyn Erso was included in this game. Jyn is easily my favorite female Star Wars protagonist to date. Seeing Rogue One representation in Star Wars: Outer Rim gives me a great first impression of the game.

Star Wars: Outer Rim Game Board. Photo taken by me.

The board is designed in a half crescent shape designed with planets and travel routes for suggested movement. The goal of the game is to be the most famous flyer in the whole galaxy. This can be done by completing jobs, defeating various patrols or adventuring with more complex quests. Sometimes skill checks are required to complete a job which makes the game more complex. For example, Jyn starts with skills, but none of those skills include piloting. I had a mission where I had to use the piloting skill to complete the mission. I spent multiple turns rolling and failing my roles because I was at a disadvantage of not having the piloting skill. This is a huge reason as to why I lost the game we played.

Star Wars: Outer Rim isn’t an easy game, but not too difficult either. As I mentioned with my failed skill check, it can be difficult to complete missions without having the proper skill. Although, you can pick up crew members who have varying skills to help you succeed in missions. One of my fellow players stole K-2SO from me and I’m still salty about it.

Jyn Erso’s character board. Photo taken by me.

One benefit of this game is having the freedom to do what you want with your character. With Jyn Erso, I ended up taking down a couple of tie fighters which lowered my reputation with the Imperial fleet. However, I could have taken out rebel fleets and lowered my alliance with the resistance. It doesn’t matter who you partner with, but having alliances or enemies will impact how you fly throughout the Rim.

The only minor complaint I had turns can go on forever. We had four people in our group and I found myself feeling bored when it wasn’t my turn. I don’t think this is something that can be fixed with Star Wars: Outer Rim. The game is strategic, so game turns will take a little longer.

Star Wars: Outer Rim works best with more players. I would say three players would be ideal, recognizing that with four players, turns take a long time to be completed. Star Wars: Outer Rim is made by Fantasy Flight Games and can be purchased through FFG’s website or your local game store.

The Discontinuation of Star Wars Destiny

One of my favorite ways to enjoy Star Wars is through gaming. The Star Wars movie fandom can be too toxic at times whereas the gaming community is more about bonding over the fandom and playing board games. A card game I used to play, Star Wars Destiny, is officially being discontinued by Fantasy Flight Games. It’s a shame because this game was incredibly fun, but I’m not surprised to hear it’s being discontinued.

Darth Vader ruled. Picture taken by me.

I was introduced to Star Wars Destiny in 2016. My friend worked at a game shop while we were in college. She called me and told me to come try out Star Wars: Destiny as the pre-release was happening that day. I was completely broke thanks to getting my degree, but I borrowed cards from other players to create a deck. I was enthralled with the game mechanics.

However, Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) didn’t do the best at judging how popular this game would be. Our game store ran out of stock immediately. This puts a damper on playing a deck building game if you can’t buy the cards. It took FFG a long time before stock became available.

In summer of 2017, I started working at a game shop as a side gig. My store had trouble selling Destiny because of lack of interest and the decreased ability to be able to purchase product. By the time FFG got around to getting stock in stores, interest had declined to the point where my store stopped selling Destiny because it wasn’t profitable.

The fact that Destiny has lasted this long in production completely shocks me. If only FFG could have predicted how popular this game would be, I don’t think they would be stopping production of the game.

Recently, I gave away all my Destiny cards to my brother as he still actively plays with friends. I have great memories playing Destiny and being introduced to the Star Wars gaming fandom. The Covert Missions boosters haven’t been released yet, but they will be the last boosters for the game. The Star Wars: Destiny championships will occur on May 1st thru May 3rd at Fantasy Flight Game Center in Roseville, MN.

Learn how to play Star Wars: Destiny!

Lastly, if you would like to learn how to play, I have posted a video from FFG’s youtube channel describing the game play. With the discontinuation of the game, I would purchase product before it becomes unavailable.