Tag Archives: Magic

Time’s Up

22 Aug

I had originally intended to make what I’m about to say in this post a topic for conversation on the next episode of my new podcast, but I felt like it might feel better to get these words and thoughts out of my head and on to paper – or the closest thing to paper that I have, which is my blog.  I feel like getting things off your chest feels differently, depending on the method in which you choose to do it. 

Lately I have been feeling very overwhelmed.  It started right around the time that the release date for Mists of Pandaria was confirmed.  The officers of my guild had decided that they would like us, the raiders to be 90 ideally within a week, but for sure within two weeks of release.  This coincides with the pre-release weekend for Return to Ravnica, a highly anticipated expansion of Magic the Gathering that I and many others are very excited about.  Since I have come back to the game, I have made it to the last two pre-release weekends without fail.  I had every intention of making this one, too, but with the race to hit level 90, I realized I may not be able to make it.  This really bothered me.

Then my boyfriend and I decided to reconcile and start down the path of giving our relationship another shot.  He lives in Chicago.  One of the issues that came up during our initial break up was the fact that we weren’t spending enough time together.  Back then we were seeing each other every other weekend, sometimes every third weekend, mostly due to his work schedule.  When we agreed to give things another try, it came up in conversation that we may have to try stepping things up to every weekend or three weekends out of the month.  This was something I was fine with at the time, but when combined with everything else that I have going on started to make me feel like I was suffocating. 

So, let’s see.  Three days a week raiding, plus Fridays for Friday Night Magic, plus my blog, plus my podcast, plus being a guest host on other people’s podcasts, plus finding time to socialize with my friends and to see my family, plus work 40+ hours a week, and have weekends to spend traveling for the occasional Magic tournament or other type of event, and manage to maintain a healthy relationship with my boyfriend.  How am I supposed to juggle all of this?

Even the first two weeks of Mists seem incredibly daunting to me.  The expansion comes out on September 25th, which is a Tuesday.  I’m not going to burn a vacation day on launch day, for various reasons.  I decided to take the one vacation day that I had available and use it on that Friday, instead.  So starting on Tuesday, I will be coming home from work around 4:30, eating dinner, leveling from about 6pm to 11pm, going to bed, and then doing the same thing on Wednesday and Thursday.  Friday through Sunday would be spent primarily leveling, most likely missing the Return to Ravnica pre-release, and then doing the same 6pm to 11pm grind every day the week after until I’m level 90.  Then comes the grind for gear and rep, so that I can be raid ready.  I’m exhausted just typing this.

Let’s say that I eliminate World of Warcraft from the equation.  Admittedly, this clears up a lot of my week.  Let’s say that I play only Magic and podcast, while blogging occasionally.  I’m already only playing Magic one day a week right now and that’s on Fridays.  Every weekend that I spend with the boyfriend rules Friday Night Magic completely out.  Typically I take the Amtrak to Chicago on Friday afternoons after work and I get down there around 7:30pm.  Most Friday Night Magic events start well before then.  I could start playing Magic Online and play during the week, but I’m leery about having to build an online card collection, in addition to an actual one.  I also worry that playing Magic Online will simply become a substitute for World of Warcraft and I’ll find myself tethered to the computer again during the week.  It would be like substituting one addiction or vice for another. 

Then there is the issue of traveling.  One of the things that excited me the most about getting back into Magic again was the opportunity to play in more large scale events across the country.  I had originally intended to stick to states that were nearby, like Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, etc.  But I have been very fortunate to meet people in states that are a bit farther away from me that I could go visit and even crash with, too.  I could visit Seattle if I wanted to, or Los Angeles, or even New York.  The possibilities are endless.  I can’t do those things if I have a boyfriend, or a boyfriend that my weekends are pretty much devoted to.  Most of the Magic events I’m interested in take place on the weekends.  How would I manage that?

I’m pretty sure this would be an issue, even if my boyfriend didn’t live an hour or so away from me.  Even if I met a guy locally, what guy is going to be okay with a girlfriend who is essentially booked a minimum of three days out of the week (for a computer game, no less) and possibly an additional day or even a weekend (for a card game), and who spends most of her free time working on a blog and a podcast about said games, even when she isn’t playing them?  Having all of this going on doesn’t necessarily make me serious girlfriend material.  It all leads back to the inevitable feeling that I have that something has to go.

I talked about this a little bit with the boyfriend last night and he didn’t have too much to say about it.  He is someone who was a hardcore gamer for a long time and made the switch to being extremely casual, to the point where he now only plays a handful of X-Box games and board games with friends from time to time.  That was something he was glad to do.  He was happy to give up the schedules and the responsibilities and to make other things in his life a priority.  I’m not so sure that I’m at that point yet.  I like my life the way that it is.  I also like being able to do things to the level of satisfaction that I want to do them.  I don’t want to do eight different things, just to say that I’m doing them.  I want to do them and feel like I’m doing them well.  I don’t feel like I can do that right now.  Something is going to suffer.  Something would have to suffer.

I really don’t know what to do.  I don’t know how I can pull all of this off.  I like where I’m at and I feel like I worked hard to get here.  It would be one thing if I weren’t enjoying something anymore and I chose to walk away from it because I hated it.  It would be one thing if something was being taken from me against my will, like Blizzard was no longer making expansions or Wizards stopped making Magic cards.  I have so many things that I love to do and so many people that I love spending time with and seemingly not enough time to spend on everything.  That doesn’t sit right with me.  It feels like a cop out to say that’s why I would be giving up something.

It’s just like Moroes says, “Time… Never enough time.”

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A Beginner’s Guide to Cockatrice – Part One

7 May

I meant to write a brief post about my thoughts on experiencing the Limited and Limited draft formats for the first time over the last two weeks, as part of the Avacyn Restored pre-release and release day events, but I felt like I really needed to write this post first, in the hopes that it would inspire more people to get on board with this and ultimately give me more people to play Magic the Gathering with online.

As of right now, I don’t get a lot of experience playing Magic outside of the Friday Night Magic events that happen once a week in my city.  There are card shops that run tournaments on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, but they tend to be ones that you have to pay an entry fee for and you typically want to have your ducks in a row before you show up.

So needless to say, I don’t really have anywhere to test my decks or decks that I have been thinking about building.  I realize that testing is a huge part of the process and one that I really lack in.  I tried looking into official versions of Magic the Gathering that you could play online, but I didn’t like the idea of either paying for virtual cards that don’t translate to real life ones, or the idea of having a limited pool of cards or pre-constructed decks to choose from.

Enter Cockatrice – a free piece of open source multiplatform software that you can use to play Magic the Gathering over a network, along with hundreds of other users.  After giving Cockatrice a try for myself one night, I decided that I really liked not only the layout of the program, but the simple and easy to use controls associated with it.  The users that I found online tended to be pretty friendly and now I’m trying to get more people into this, so that I have more people to play with.

Because new or unfamiliar programs can seem intimidating, I figured I would write a brief starter guide for Cockatrice and give people a taste of what they can expect. This won’t be terribly in depth, but hopefully it gives people some idea of what Cockatrice brings to the table and inspires people to try it out for themselves some time.  The first half of this guide will walk you through how to get Cockatrice onto your computer, how to setup and update your card database, and how to build your deck.  Part two will go into more detail about how to get a game started and some of the controls that you can use once you start playing.

Step #1:  Visit the Cockatrice home page.  It should look like this:

Step #2:  Download the program.

Click on the yellow circle at the top of the page marked “Download.”  This will take you to a page that looks like this:

I only have experience downloading Cockatrice as a Windows user, so I apologize in advance for not being much help in the Mac department. Click on the link found in the “Windows Users” section to download the .exe program, which will help you install Cockatrice.

Step #3:  Connect to Cockatrice.

Once you have installed Cockatrice to your computer you will see a mostly blank screen with two menus at the top.  Click on “Cockatrice” and then “Connect.”  Make sure to leave the host and port information as is and type in a name for yourself.  If you plan on using Cockatrice more than once, you can register your username on the main site and use it subsequently by entering in your username and the password you have chosen.  If you’re still not sure how you feel about the program, you can just enter in whatever username you want to go by without a password and that would be fine.  Successfully connecting to Cockatrice will take you to this area:

Step #4:  Run Oracle

Either during the initial download process or after, you will have to run the program called “Oracle” that can be found in the main Cockatrice folder and which allows you to upload all of the cards that you will use to build your deck.  On the Oracle importer screen, click “File” and then “Download sets information.”  A window will open, asking you to enter a URL, but one should already be located in the field for you.  Hit “OK.”  You should see a list of expansions with check boxes to the left of each name.  You will want to select “Check all” and then “Start download.”  This will give you access to every card from each set that you have selected.  Going forward if you want to just add one set, like for when a new expansion comes out, just select the box for the set you want, uncheck the rest, and then click “Start download.”

Step #5:  Build your deck.

Once you have uploaded all of the sets that you will want to have cards from, click on “Cockatrice” and then “Deck Editor.”  When starting off with a fresh deck, it looks like this:

Start by searching for the cards you want from the box on the left.  An image of the card will appear in the middle of the screen, to show you what it looks like and what the card does.  Use the green arrow to add those cards to your main deck or the blue arrow to add them to your sideboard.  If you add cards you later decide that you don’t want, you can click on the X button to remove all cards with that name from the deck.  If you want to increase or decrease the number of said card one at a time, you can click the plus or minus buttons, respectively to do that. Once you have your deck built to your satisfaction, click on “Deck” and then “Save deck as” to save your deck for future use.

Part two should be coming out shortly.  If you just can’t wait for me to publish it, feel free to poke around Cockatrice on your own, or even pop into the main chat room channel and see if you can strike up a conversation with someone there who might be able to help you out a bit further.  I’ve had some pretty positive experiences so far with folks that I have met through the server, so I highly encourage you to try and make a new friend that way.  Otherwise, keep your eyes peeled for the second half of my guide to Cockatrice and let me know what you think of the program, if you have gotten around to trying it.

May the cards be with you!