Author Archives: AJ

Warhammer 40,000: Will of Iron #1 (Comics Review)

The fictional universe of Warhammer 40,000 is extremely rich and complicated. Since its inception, this creation of Games Workshop has taken on a life of its own and has spanned a variety of media in the form of movies, comics, novels, audio-dramas, and so on. Some of the best fiction has come with the likes of the Bloodquest comics or the Horus Heresy multi-media series and so on. I’ve been a fan of this setting for almost 15 years or now, and it has certainly been a journey that has had its ups and downs. Will of Iron looks to chart a bold new path forward.

Recently, Titan Comics was granted the license to publish fresh new comics in the 40K universe, and Will of Iron #1 is the first of these new stories that brings the indomitable Space Marines and their various enemies back to comics forefront. Written by George Mann, the new series focuses on one of the most secretive and oldest factions of these space-faring warrior-monks as many of their secrets are about to be exposed and their efforts to contain the spread of such knowledge begin. The first issue is a bit predictable and dry, but it is also very promising and for that I give it a big thumps up.

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Adventures In Magic the Gathering: Kaladesh Previews Week 3

The second week (third week for Kaladesh because of PAX) of spoilers usually has very little exciting stuff to reveal. Most of the good stuff comes out in the first week, often on the first 2-3 days themselves, and then it is all mostly some promising rares and uncommons, maybe a spicy mythic or two. The first big wave of spoilers for Kaladesh certainly proved to be very interesting, and it is clear that there are some really powerful cards in store for us when the set releases next week.

The beginning of the final week of Kaladesh brought us the most surprising news of the year: the Masterpiece series and the Kaladesh Inventions. A range of 30 premium foil versions of artifacts from across Magic‘s history, it seems that these are the new norm for sets moving forward. And not only that, but we got tons of exciting cards that are sure to shake up not only Standard, but also make a splash in Modern and Legacy! So let’s see what’s all in store for us as the Kaladesh preview season ends.

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Ravnica: City of Guilds by Cory J. Herndon (Book Review)

My first substantial introduction to the world of Magic the Gathering was through the comics written by Matt Forbeck for IDW Publishing. They introduced me to the planeswalker thief Dack Fayden through some really fun adventures across the Multiverse. Since then, I’ve taken up the game itself, and now I play fairly regularly and follow tournament coverage as well. Naturally, my interests would also lead me to other Magic fiction, specifically the novels, and I’ve read a few of them in the last couple of years, the most recent being Cory J. Herndon’s Ravnica: City of Guilds.

The first of the Ravnica Cycle trilogy, this novel follows a lieutenant of the League of Wojek, Agrus Kos, as he undertakes a murder investigation that draws him into a conspiracy that will shake up the entire world of Ravnica. As a fan of the setting, I really appreciated Herndon’s detailed descriptions of Ravnica and its many citizens, which really helped to bring the world alive in my mind. I’m not familiar with any of the characters here, but that’s the thing about Ravnica: City of Guilds, you don’t have to know anything about Magic the Gathering to enjoy it, though that does help.

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Black Wolves by Kate Elliott (Book Review)

It has been a while since I’ve done any reviews, largely due to the fact that I’ve barely read 10-12 novels in the last one year or so. Far cry from my regular 9-11 books a month before that. Just been a long period of “don’t really care, just want time off, too much work, ugh” and so on. Getting back into reading hasn’t exactly been easy since it is as if my reading mojo is gone. But thankfully, I’ve started to turn it around of late, and one of the books I’ve had the pleasure of reading recently is Kate Elliott’s Black Wolves.

Black Wolves is the first novel in the trilogy of the same name. It follows a multitude of characters in a (low) fantasy setting and deals with the ruthless politics of a kingdom forged by the sword and inherited by weaker successors where the loyalties of good men and women are commodities. It is a very different kind of novel than I usually read, but I have a fair amount of experience with Kate’s diverse works, and Black Wolves doesn’t disappoint. It is a fun and entertaining read, though it could have used some trimming here and there to be a bit more brief.

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Adventures In Magic the Gathering: Kaladesh Previews Week 2

Wizards of the Coast kicked off their previews for the upcoming set Kaladesh in great style at the PAX West convention, bringing us some fantastic new planeswalkers, new mechanics, and some really fantastic new cards that are sure to shake up the Standard format, and beyond. Against the backdrop of the Magic World Championship 2016, which was won by seasoned grinder Brian Braun-Duin (congrats, Brian!), the previews presentations were amazingly well-choreographed and it was certainly a unique experience as far as I’m concerned.

The second week of previews didn’t disappoint either, I must say. Not only did we get one more Planeswalker, we also got the planeswalkers for the Planeswalker Intro Packs, which have replaced the regular Intro Packs of old, and we saw some great new powerful cards that reintroduced characters who have been missing for some time. The world of Kaladesh looks as vibrant as the first round of previews suggested, if not better, and I certainly can’t wait to get my hands on some of these cards. So let’s get to it then!

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Adventures In Magic the Gathering: Kaladesh at PAX

Ever since about the end of May, it has been a rollercoaster few months. It is as if the spoiler season hasn’t really ended. First it was the spoilers for Eternal Masters. Then soon after that it was time for spoilers for Conspiracy: Take The Crown. And then, just a few days ago, it was time for Kaladesh, the upcoming set for the game, releasing by the end of the month. Taking place at the PAX convention over the weekend, we got a ton of spoilers for the new set, which is all set to shake up the Standard format, and even more.

Kaladesh is going to mark a very significant point in the history of the game since it will be the first set to bring us players firmly into the new era of two-set blocks which started with the Battle For Zendikar block last year, and progressed with the Shadows Over Innistrad block this year. Whether it be the planeswalker Saheeli Rai or vehicles or the new Energy resource, Kaladesh is chock-full of awesome cards and awesome mechanics and I can’t wait to get my hands on these cards and get on with some spell-slinging with friends. Read the rest of this entry

Adventures In Magic the Gathering: The Modern Metagame

More than any other year in the last several years, the Modern format was put under an especially harsh scrutiny, owing to the January Banned & Restricted Announcement from Wizards of the Coast. Coming out just before Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch, this announcement decreed that two key format staples Splinter Twin and Summer Bloom were banned. Such is the price to pay for having a Modern PT. Unfortunately, during the PT, Eldrazi decks of various builds dominated the tournament, and in the months following, they were everywhere. It was a display of performance almost unmatched in the format’s history, necessitating a ban of the archetype staple Eye of Ugin in the next B&R update, as well as the announcement that Modern would no longer be a PT format.

Now, we are about five months from that day, and the modern meta has shifted considerably since then. There was the brief rise of Abzan CoCo as a powerful deck, but that phase too has passed. Now, the utter dominance of a single deck has given rise to a more diffuse dominance, where no one or two or even three decks are clearly at the top. Various new strategies have come up, challenging the top tier decks for their crown. And this diversity was highlighted this previous weekend in the Grand Prix tournaments held in Guangzho (China), Lille (France) and Indianapolis (USA). Here’s how the meta broke down.

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Adventures In Magic the Gathering: Eldritch Moon Spoilers Week 2

The first week of spoilers fromĀ Eldritch Moon proved to be fairly good. Lots of interesting, flavourful cards were revealed and while there were a good number of misses, there were plenty of hits as well, particularly Thalia, Heretic Cathar and Tamiyo, Field Researcher among others. The whole cosmic horror feel of the set is coming across well in all the cards, and that’s definitely a plus, since Shadows Over Innistrad dealt with it a bit tangentially whereas Eldritch Moon is the full and final realization for it. The plane of Innistrad is definitely doomed…

…unless Liliana, the Last Hope can save the day as she believes she can. We finally have the new card for Liliana, and it is definitely something that you have to see to believe (more on that below). We also got to see some more cool cards this past week, which help fill out the slots in various decks that needed them, such as spirits, which have gotten a big boost, and even zombies, to a degree. Werewolves still look to be a below average tribe though, and that’s mighty disappointing, given how much a signature element they are of the overall feel of the plane, and that last time they were much more competitive. Here goes…

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Adventures In Magic the Gathering: Eldritch Moon Spoilers Week 1

Time flies in the world of Magic the Gathering it seems. It feels as if it was just yesterday that I was doing the spoilers for Shadows Over Innistrad, and now here we are, the first of official spoilers for the sequel Eldritch Moon already over. Spoiler season is one of the most anticipated aspects of a new set release for the game, and as many a time before, this past week hasn’t been all that disappointing. Before we get into the nitty gritty of the spoilers however, here’s the trailer for the set.

Since the reveal about the big bad of the set, and indeed the entire block, being the Eldrazi Titan Emrakul, it has certainly been an interesting ride. The reveal isn’t particularly that big since the powers-that-be were pretty hamfisted with the signals and following on from the Battle For Zendikar block, it isn’t that exciting a reveal either. However, putting that aside, some of the flavour of the set that has come out has been incredible, with some cool new mechanics, and a lot of the rares and uncommons look like they have serious potential. Not to mention the mythics, so let’s dive straight into the meat of the spoilers!

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Teen Titans: Earth One Vol.1 (Comics Review)

The Teen Titans are one of the most prominent of DC’s superhero teams, primarily because it is based around legacy superheroes such as Wonder Girl and Robin and other young heroes like Starfire and Beast Boy. Over the years, the Teen Titans have carved out quite a niche for themselves, even transcending the comics with shows like Young Justice and Teen Titans Go! which have proven to be popular as well. So it was no surprise that when DC began to roll out its series of Earth One storylines for its premier heroes like Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, that they’d delve into the Teen Titans as well.

Teen Titans: Earth One Vol.1 repositions the team in a timeline that is very different from the current comics storyline. This is a trend that follows on from the other Earth One graphic novels, where the characters and their stories are reinvented and have their own continuity separate from the main comics-verse. Written by Jeff Lemire and art by the Dodson Duo, it is an interesting read that brings together some classic characters such as Raven, Cyborg, Beast Boy and others, but it also falls short by a significant margin because the story can be incomprehensible at times.

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Warcraft: The Beginning (Movie Review)

If you grew up in the 80s and 90s then you were at the forefront of the big boom in the video game industry when it comes to Real-Time Strategy (RTS) games. There were some downright amazing games in those days in this genre, particularly Age of Empires, WarCraft, StarCraft, Command & Conquer, Homeworld and countless others. The mid-to-late 90s were a great time to be an RTS fan. Many of these games left a lasting impression on me, having to do with both story and gameplay, and I remember them all fondly. If there are two games here that particularly struck a chord with me however, those are WarCraft II: Tides of Darkness and the original Homeworld, and I’ve been a fan of both ever since I got my first copies of either, about 18 years for the former and 15 for the latter. Good lord, I feel old now.

My interest and fascination WarCraft II: Tides of Darkness eventually led to me becoming a near-die-hard World of WarCraft player, and I was absolutely stoked when news came out that the series would be getting a movie franchise. And that in itself has been a long, long journey. After many false starts, Warcraft: The Beginning is finally here and it is a movie that absolutely captures the heart and soul of the 22-year old franchise. One big caveat for any WarCraft fan is that the movie plays fast and loose with the established lore, and that there are some significant changes made for the cinematic audience, but if you look beyond that, then you see something that just totally fits the aesthetics of the overall franchise.

Note: This review contains some major spoilers for the movie, WarCraft: Orcs & Humans, and some of the concurrent novels, both old and new. Proceed at your own peril.

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Captain America: Civil War (Movie Review)

Marvel Studio’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which is the second movie in the Captain America series, is very much the best movie in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Iron Man and The Avengers come very close, but The Winter Soldier is a well-balanced mix of action and intrigue that superhero movies in general would do well to emulate. And it gets even better in comparison with its predecessor, Captain America: The First Avenger, which was a very lackluster and subdued affair with a boring villain and a boring plot. As such, the studio’s latest, Captain America: Civil War had a lot to live up too, and while it didn’t disappoint, it also left much to be desired.

Captain America: Civil War builds forward from the end of The Avengers: Age of Ultron from last year, and takes the overall story of the MCU forward in a plot that sees conflicts develop between the team members, conflicts that were hinted at in The Avengers and which are now magnified from several angles. As a pure action movie, Civil War does not fail to entertain and is right on point. But as an adaptation of the infamous Civil War storyline from the comics, it is unsuccessful and unsatisfactory.

Note: This review contains some major spoilers for the movie and even some for the original comics the movie is adapted from, so read at your own peril.

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