A collection of reviews that can be written by anypony! Generally it's done and overseen by Tyro The Fox but anypony is welcome to write up an article reviewing anything they like. Games, movies, Youtube videos, poetry, Fan Fiction, almost anything.

You could do an article on a brick, I suppose, but I can't vouch for anyone being fascinated by it.

Would you like to write in the Leather Bound Book?

I'm still figuring everything out but I will happily add you to the Blogs permission list or post the article under your name if you drop me a PM or at leatherboundbookreviews@gmail.com.
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  1. I've left this too long. How about a quick blast of stuff I've been playing on Nintendo Switch? Right, 3, 2, 1...

    Super Mario Oddessy


    This game made me glad I'd brought a Switch. I'd brought a 3DS and a Wii U and appreciated the hardware but the Switch is making me love it. Nintendo could be doing so much better right now but they're First-Party Games are not the issue here. Music is excellent, it's a genre I like that doesn't get much airing in today's market that manages to introduce new twists on established ideas and it's got some tough as nails parts in it to boot.

    The enemy capture mechanic is great fun to play around with, making plenty of puzzles varied and fun. Mixing up mechanics from puzzle to puzzle feels natural. It opens up some fun and often bonkers opportunities. A must have.

    Steam World Heist


    A 2D, turn-based strategy game where you play as a bunch of steam-powered robot space pirates looking for precious gallons of water, a precious commodity for the robots that need it to survive. Think Worms but if every character was a gunslinging cowboy as the most important elements of combat tend to be about cover and circumventing cover by the use of trick shots where the bullet bounces off the walls and lands a target. Surprisingly engrossing, Steam World Heist should keep anyone looking for a fun adventure through space happy till the end.

    It's pretty, it's decently funny and features cameos from Steam-Powered Giraffe, one of my favourite bands. It's normally dirt cheep and often on sale. Pick it up.



    The theme song alone gets me excited to play this creative and charming upgrade to Wii Boxing. Which you'll remember was the best game on Wii Sports. However, flinging your arms around to bash costumed crazies will need a little more temperament as the game expects far more from you than a simple dance. Characters all have unique abilities that can be further augmented with dozens of swappable fists, each with different characteristics to tune in what you're comfortable doing in a bout. Throw in a beautiful art direction, up-tempo music that gets you pumped up, co-op and online multiplayer, Arms give you an excellent package.

    If there's anything to dent it somewhat, it's not a whole lot of game for over £40. This is not a hugely single player game and you'll only be able to spend that time unlocking new fists to use in a Smash-style Championship mode. Bare that in mind.



    An adorable Hack 'n' Slash modelled after Link to the Past in terms of controls and appearance but centers around the journey of a shrine maiden attempting to use holy weapons to fight demons. A time honoured story, probably somewhere.

    Honestly, it's just good. Mechanics are simple but engaging as enemy placement and variety is large enough to keep you guessing. Bosses have fun quirks. And the game looks good. And on top of that, it's pretty cheep.

    Has-Been Heroes


    I played this for about ten minutes and put it down again. I was not interested I'm afraid. Imagine if Darkest Dungeon and Plants Verses Zombies was smooshed together into a vague RPG about repelling hoards of oncoming enemies. It feels a little overly complicated and didn't hold my attention for very long. More because it's not my thing than anything wrong with the game itself.

    Subsurface Circular


    A clever and enjoyable detective game about talking and collecting keywords to progress dialogue-based puzzles. It's a simple idea; you talk to people and get picked out words and phrases added to a list that you can then freely ask others to gain more information about them. It's simple but very effective with some funny and memorable moments as you attempt to unravel a mystery of a missing friend.

    The best achievement is giving character to scarcely featured robots. Though, the guy behind Thomas Was Alone seems to know a thing or two in that area.

    Mario and Rabbids Kingdom Battle


    BETTER THAN IT HAS ANY RIGHT TO BE! I make that statement in Canterlock because I'm sure you looked at it and dismissed it as another Rabbids game, desperately clinging to the Mario IP for sales but no! People cared on this one! Probably whoever came up with Rabbids, Go Home, the other Rabbids game worth writing home about.

    In short, it's X-Com for the Family Entertainment crowd but with changes that actually complement the characters involved. Movement is emphasised over everything and the shooting is simplified down to allow for positioning to drive every aspect of the combat that matters. It's honestly so much fun and I cannot wait for the DLC so I can go back to shooting things in the face.

    On top of this, the levels look gorgeous as well as manic, as it's supposed to be a world created by an experimental device going horribly out of control, transforming Rabbids and the contents of a young girl's mario themed room into a confused nightmare. It's also a pretty funny game, with Beep-o being the star with a surprisingly dry, sarcastic wit for a game like this. Also, the rabbids are actually funny. Mostly because they actually have jokes now. My favourite is Rabbid Peach.

    Bravo, the one team at Ubisoft being allowed and able to do a good job.

    The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild


    It is good. Bleat, bleat! Baaaaaaaaa! I am joined the heard and sing game praises! Baaaaa!

    OK, a little sarcastic but this is still good. And I'm sure you're sick of people telling you that. There's actual freedom, there's stupid bananas amount to do in just the vanilla game alone. But if you go for the DLC, there's one that lets you earn an ancient technology motorcycle in the shape of a unicorn.

    It's the most difficult aspect of the entire game and will put everything you've done so far to the test. But, weird, unsure-if-out-of-place motorcycle.

    Puyo Puyo Tetris


    BUY IT! IT IS BEST PUZZLE GAME! Again, use of Canterlock because I'm sure you've over looked it for it's cutesy look and the fact that you only recognise one of the games on the box. BUT! It's actually a mind-melting mash up of two puzzle games I never thought could ever go together. The first times me and my flatmates tried playing the game mode where you have Puyo Puyo and Tetris happening at the same time, on the game grid, caused the room to heat with the effort of our thinking.

    Puyo Puyo might be better recognised as Dr Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine as it's the same game but with a cuter skin on it. Multiplayer is fun, with a load of slower but still taxing modes and a single player mode with an absurd story about interdimensional travel I decided I didn't need to pay attention to in order to enjoy the many challenges it offers. Try it out and feel your brain have to vent steam within a few seconds.

    Splatoon 2


    It is Splatoon 1 with some tweaks and a new single player mode. It's all right. There's a co-op hoard mode that pops up occasionally, stats for gear has been messed around (there's no longer a generic 'up attack' or 'up defence' ability on anything) and there's improved matchmaking if you want to play as a group apparently (never tried it). I do like the fact that you can earn gear you want by taking abilities from one piece of gear you buy and adding it to others. I also like earnable boosts to experience and money gain, making grinds a little shorter. Otherwise, it's Splatoon Plus.

    That'll do for now. I'm playing through some other things like Pokemon Quest (feels more like I'm a gang leader than a 'trainer' or a 'treasure hunter') and Heart and Slash (seems fun through something about the Rogue-Like Elements seem off) and Disgaea 5 Complete (I keep imagining the voices of the Prinny sound like Zoos from Gravity Falls ("Uh, we can take on any demon if we believe and kick the crap out of them with the most dangerous weapons of all, dood: numbers bigger than theirs!")). Maybe Splatoon 2's DLC will be something special too. See ya about, doods!
  2. The very short answer is University.

    For anyone interested, malicious or otherwise I suppose, I'm studying at De Montfort University in Leicester, a good 3-4 hours away from where I normally live on the South East Coast of England. Y'see, I think I'm very good at coding computers to do things. Specifically, I think I have a knack for things revolving around Computer Games as it's been something of a passion for me ever since I were a wee cub getting to play Time Crisis on the Playstation all those years ago. From then on, I've been an obsessive, eccentric and proud dork that's pursued becoming a Game Maker-Type-Person as a thing I get paid to do like.

    The issue with such a career choice is, and any programmer can attest to this, is a matter of my friend calls 'bandwidth'. Ever heard of something called 'Decision Fatigue'? As I understand it, it's that thing where you come home and just can't be arsed to do anything. You sit down, stick on some crap YouTube and then gorge on that till you have to go to bed or the inevitable heat death of the Universe, whichever is soonest. You could watch that movie or read that book but your brain can't be arsed after a long day doing things and being busy at work/school/factory where they make nodding dogs and waffle irons. It also messes with your decision making process.

    For example, I'm writing this at 2 in the mor-actually no. I write everything at 2 in the morning. It would be more unusual to be up past 8am of my own volition but I'm getting off topic. It's also that thing that can ruin diets or trying 'to be good'. I can't be arsed to do willpower right now, I want a curry.

    Programmers appear to suffer from this quite badly, especially Game ones. They sit in front of a computer screen for hours and hours and hours making the worlds most sophisticated moron, the computer, perform operations that are so bullet-proof and straight-forward that even a computer could do them. That is really, really hard. Especially when it's not obvious what the issue is because the errors being suggested by the computer are unhelpful, or worse, there are no errors because the program is running fine, it just doesn't do what you expect. That means that your logic is all wrong which means you have to rethink everything.

    For me at this present time, it's been that for about 6-8 hours (with breaks for the loo or to stuff overpriced Uni sandwiches in my face) for over a month so I can remake Galaga for Android. And it's still not even finished. While I do think I'm good at programming computers, and other people agree with me on this (like the Uni itself who keep pestering me about things put on to promote the University. But they keep paying me to do it or put on a buffet so I don't mind.) it's still sitting around for around the same time people are in a real job for trying to make Space Bugs fly around a screen WHEN I TELL THEM TO YOU UPPITY SODS!

    This leads to a lack of 'Bandwidth'. Most programmers in other areas that concern themselves with different computer type things I've talked to tend to attest to this mental exhaustion that comes with the profession. We like it: we're using a computer to solve puzzles. It's like being a superhero only the only bit of it you have is the Batcomputer. Anyway, when I come back, I can't be arsed to do anything but sit down and play Splatoon 2 or Super Hot. The reasoning should be obvious by now and I'm not talking about how Super Hot is the most innovative shooter in years.

    If you get that, you are one of us...

    So, guess what? I haven't been arsed to write anything here or for the Community Post. My mind has been preoccupied with coursework, making sure I do things to blow off steam away from coursework and food. That's not to say I have no ideas left; they're either just slow to form or too long to be bothered with.

    So, why am I writing this? Well, partly because I didn't feel like sleeping right now. Probably a bad idea but whatever. Secondly, that Android Galaga/Galaxian clone I gone dun did is nearly complete so it's opened up a little breathing room because I went and did it early. It's called 'Galagalaxian' because I'm clever and it's a funny name. I just have to make an OpenGL diorama of an Airport, a Physics-Based Puzzle Game and program the AI for a tank in a truly limited and dreadful update of Combat for the 2600 in about a month and a half. Not out of the woods but certainly a little better.

    And also, I just felt like I was at bursting point. A neat time to do a blog: when you want to. Otherwise, I just don't have the write headspace or 'mental bandwidth' to handle that and studenting and being social and not going completely crazy from overwork. I want to do well here so I'm trying to be careful not to burn out. It's why I want other people to take up the mantle of Community Post writing so much: I think it's an important thing for this site, especially when we post it up on Reddit or Facebook and people come and read that then know we exist. I got a request to do that new Ducktails which is tricky as I've not really seen much of the original show to give the best opinion, though I guess as a newcomer, it would be interesting to see if it holds up without the Nostalgia.

    I mean, it's better than thinking about how I'm quite scared by the world and the UK right now. The media want to make sure everything is uber terrifying, the Prime Minister appears to be getting shirty with Russia over this whole nerve agent thing which seems uncomfortable. Brexit keeps popping up and no one's doing anything one way or the other so they appear to be half-arsing it, making an idea that already seems needlessly disruptive worse by trying to make deals that are kind of like being in the EU but aren't but sort of are. The Conservatives appear to have gutted Student Finance and University funding before I signed up again so I'm enjoying any financial stability at all only thanks to a Christmas Present from my Granddad. Everytime I look at the world around me, it makes me more and more miserable with the world I'm going to have to try to make a living in once University spits me out, unless I can drum up an idea for a Masters or PHD or something if I desperately want to. People in power right now seem stupid, arrogant or short-sighted. No one seems to be doing anything right, at all ever and it's getting distressing. I have had frank conversations of how I'd migrate out to somewhere else and where's the best place. Genuinely because nothing seems to be going right.

    But, I'm not there yet and I have friends, family and this place to my name, or the fake one I put on so that people don't immediately know who I am. It doesn't make all of the above go away, but it is something. And that's something.

    So, there. I'm going to go and ramble about a game on the Nintendo Switch that I rather like. I'll link it here when I'm done. Maybe a little while after, I'll write this Community Post idea.
  3. [​IMG]
    Pokemon Sun

    It’s good. You should play it. It’s a Pokemon main series game and they’ve been pretty decent with each new addition since coming to the 3DS. The boost in power and interest makes them pretty accessible, fuller versions of Pokemon Colosseum the series has always wanted to be. 3D fights, enjoyable mechanics and enough here that mixes things up to make Sun/Moon worth picking up.

    It’s accessible while still being a challenge. Wonderful! But how does it pull it off? Well...

    The first thing that comes to mind is that Pokemon, as a series, seems to be desperately trying to grow a personality. In games gone by, things such as stories or characterisation or even dialogue was costly. If you put in a diatribe about man’s inhumanity to man and pokemon alike, you might have to cut out a boss encounter. Give villagers too much to say and you may have to replace an entire town with it as there wasn’t enough on the cartridge. Pokemon lasted as a pretty basic looking RPG for many a generation while stuff like Golden Sun or Megaman Battle Network looked gorgeous in comparison. That pokemon database takes up a lot of space! Modern flash cartridges seem to have an acre of room for all the 3D rendered models and the lush looking environments. It seems there’s room for storytime with Uncle Pokemon.​

    And you know he has an epic tale to tell! So grab an eevee and listen.
    The story told is the one they’ve been telling for years now. Blah blah, you just arrived in town, blah blah, you’re a natural trainer, blah blah, go become a Pokemon Master. The difference is in the flavouring. Not-Hawaii location of the Alola Islands do offer a new lease on life for a tired plotline for your mute-ten year old to run through in the form of The Island Challenge. Instead of battles upon battles, sometimes you have to best a dungeon or photograph ghosts or find then defeat a powerful Totem pokemon. This is neat. While I don’t bemoan the older games too much for their reliance on the gym system, which made each a house where the boss lived while occasionally having a small fetch quest. Usually a fetch quest you need to do in order to face them at all!

    Here though, Challenge Captains and Kahunas interact with the world. They ingratiate themselves with the islands, which helps sell their supposed knowledge and skill naturally. Previously, Gym Leaders would have to have special quests and things to prove that they did more than just stand in a big house behind some elaborate set of traps.Challenge Captains and Kahunas are part of the community. They run shops or perform for tourists. They’re active in the world, meaning you’ll likely bump into them as you meander around. It works so much better to make them at least a little intimidating when you have to face them yourself.​

    Weirdly, not everyone gets rich off of unregulated betting on battles with random strangers. Which seems strange to think about but then again, it’s you, the rando wondering around aimlessly with money to burn, that they sell to.

    The other thing about the story is that there’s more characters. Somewhat like Pokemon Black/White you begin the game meeting with your new friends. They’re what replaces the ‘Rival’ of older games as they’ll challenge you to battles regularly like a surprise pop quiz. Hau is the trainer that tries to stack himself against you and he’s not bad. He throws regular challenges at you while also being an all right character. I like him but I also feel like he floats around the story at large without any major impact. He’s appealing enough; a hopeful, enthusiastic son of a Kahuna that likes to stuff his face and battle. Fair enough. He doesn’t get in the way but also does make you want to punch him, unlike Blue or N.

    He, and almost all of the game, is overshadowed by the adventures of Lillie, however, Lillie is positioned as something of an anomaly within this world: someone that abstains from Pokemon Battles. I mean, you assume they’re out there somewhere but it does appear to bite her in the arse regularly. I get the motivation of not wanting to see Pokemon hurt but in a world where the wildlife can, and frequently does, attack at random, you’d think she’d figure out that battles likely arose out of a need to protect herself. She’s fine not to want to take part in battles but we’ve seen time and time again that people should have a pokemon for protection at all times! Oak wouldn’t stand for it, Burch presented a lovely example of why you’d need one and Lille of this game gets attacked by a Spearow flock that she is powerless to fight off or flee from.

    Then take one of my pokemon and go get him then! I have running around in circles to do until my pokemon are all level 20! Vital, important work here!

    In short, she’s kind of an idiot that can never go anywhere unaccompanied. On the plus side, I can report that she’s quite a sweet person. Her care for Pokemon and everyone around her is genuine, making her somewhat endearing. This marvel was created because Pokemon’s writing has improved considerably. For once, they’re attempting jokes and jabs at things. Hau is a doofus but it plays into his character. Lillie is selfless and that plays into her character too. Their defined, distinct and decently memorable. I wouldn’t call them stellar or fascinating but I didn’t mind meeting them.

    This writing buff has permeated everything else, teamed with the 3D presentation to make a greater scope than I thought possible before. Pokemon Sun actually attempts to have ideas greater than ‘bad guys find sleeping monster and fail to control it’. I always found the attempted return of Team Rocket fascinating but Sun throws around the idea of Pokemon from other dimensions, Pokemon gangs, loyalty to family members and when you cross the line as a parent into being a child yourself.

    I’m not joking.

    While I will not say that this entirely works, I will say that it’s pretty out there for what I was expecting but I am so onboard for more. There’s elements that seem neutered or maybe didn’t connect as it should because it’s all still textboxes on a screen but there were clearly places where I was supposed to care but honestly didn’t.

    The game is trying though. You can give it that much.

    I can identity one major weakness with it’s story: it’s not mine, it’s Lillie’s. Lillie is the one that grows, goes through an arc and learns the magic of Pokemon Battles, if I might spoil that for just one moment. You are the silent protagonist that has a completely different story happening outside of the conflict between Lillie and the Ultra Beasts. Say what you like but older games placed you at the center of the story. You fought Team Rocket when you tangled with them and they declared you an enemy. You fought Team Aqua or Magma and put and end to their accidental damage to the weather they caused. You changed N’s mind and stopped Team Plasma.

    But it’s **Lillie **that has the final say that puts the bad guys in their place after she sicks you on them. _Sun _has two stories that meet up then part ways at regular intervals. Do some island challenges, then go fight some story-related goons, then back to the thing you care about because it’s your story. Lillie’s little journey is fine but it feels like something I have little investment in because I don’t get the benefit of advancing there, Lillie does. My reward is being allowed to go back to doing what I want to do; catch pokemon and win challenges. The game will handhold and corral you into their straight path regularly just so that Lille gets her time in the spotlight.

    If you could play as Lillie or fight your way through her story, then that would be something. But otherwise, I’m just her powerful trainer friend that she asks to solve her problems for her. And I ain’t that attached to her. A big problem when I’m a character that has no personality at all outside of my clothes.

    That deep, unwavering stare forwards as if paralysed in the brain and only capable of that mild, cheery smile. Enjoy that for most of the game.

    I love Team Skull though. The jokes and their personality was wonderful. Loved them! Keep them around.

    Gameplay wise, it’s mostly the same. There’s a long list of tweaks and changes from previous titles that matter but ultimately don’t bother me so let’s focus on the major changes.

    The pokemon here are a good selection of old and new that draws on the Hawaiian tie to spirituality and it’s tropical climate. Ghost pokemon have a real spotlight in this place, making it likely they’ll appear in most teams this time around, even giving a welcome return to Phantump and Gastly, two pokemon I had to go find when I heard they were in the game. I like Toxepex, a poisonous anemone that can withstand a beating, and I like Sandigast, a possessed sandcastle that eats life energy. Yes, that’s a thing.

    There are also regional versions of old pokemon, mostly in an attempt to make them a touch more appealing. Mostly, they’ve given dark typing to Raticate, Grimer and Meowth. Which is fine to me. I got a lot of use out of the new Grimer as it’s second typing allowed for more varied and interesting tactics. Dark works decently with Poison, I reckon. The other two are fine but are now fatter in design than before..

    Pokemon seems to be trying to make it’s new additions stand out more though. And their method this time round is to make their lives a little more miserable. There’s pokemon that feast on others, there’s pokemon said to possess horrid powers but the breakout star for me is Mimikyu. Not only is this pokemon a wonderful Physical Sweeper, it’s appearance is a point of self-awareness. It’s lonely and jealous of Pikachu’s popularity. As such, it wants some of that attention so dresses as Pikachu to garner some love. Aww...Makes me want to hug it till the horrible phantom inside claws my soul.

    Who’s my little hellspawn? You are! You are! Who sweeped half the opponent’s team?! You did! Good widdle snookums!
    You see? Pokemon is trying to grow a personality. Some of it works.

    Gameplay is also trying to aid in this: Pokemon may now call for help. At first, this sounds fine. More pokemon to fight means bigger payouts and you can always throw out a second pokemon to even things up, right?

    No! If a pokemon does this, you’re now outnumbered two to one. You cannot capture anything while the other pokemon is present. You also have a high chance that if you defeat one of the pokemon, the remaining one will attempt to call for further backup. Some pokemon have a high likelihood of receive help, giving the impression of fighting a pack that’s happy to wait in line for it’s turn. A good mechanic in theory but it drags out fights that you don’t want if it happens. It seems to have been implemented to allow for a new way of finding pokemon (Toxepex can only be found through coming to another pokemon’s aid) and to help make the relatively compact islands feel like their encounters have just as much impact as previous games as patches of long grass are often small with a clear path you can use instead. You have to want to go looking for pokemon to find them, usually, rather than having to wade through long grass that had overgrown paths you needed to cross to get somewhere.

    If you can’t force more random encounters, then give them the chance to increase in magnitude instead. Doesn’t entirely work.

    You must be the most popular Pokemon in the world if they’re still coming whenever you use ‘Call for Family’! Are you royalty or something?!

    What I am in full favour for is Z-Moves. These are special moves that act as an alternative to a Mega Evolution. Personally, I think they’re superior. Yes, having a big, nasty pokemon that boosted it’s stats and became more powerful when you needed it is cathartic. However, it’s limited to select pokemon and does nothing but change the pokemon’s capabilities. Z-Moves can be applied to any pokemon and any ability. While some pokemon have unique Z-Moves, all pokemon are capable of using them.

    The reason this kicks so much arse is obvious: more powerful move that’s based on the type of z-crystal you give and which move you decide to turn into a decisive finisher. Where this gets interesting is that it can apply to status moves too. Performing Z-Status moves often grants additional effects to the move, such as some moves doubling the effect it has on a pokemon’s stats. Heck, a Z-Move Splash increases that pokemon’s attack by three stages. Not insignificant. So, your choice is now a powerful slam or a tactical edge but you can only choose one per battle. I think this is a lovely idea that means that any pokemon can become worth something, rather than hoping they’ll be given a Mega Evolution.

    I like a game that can hand you a new tool to fiddle with and flip what you knew on it’s head.

    It helps that they’re all kind of bonkers.

    Oh! And there’s this thing where you can pet and feed your pokemon jellybeans. It is adorable. I’m not fully aware of how it benefits you but it’s cute to pet a Genga then feed him his favourite bean to make hearts appear. Bonus points from me.

    So, yeah. Get this. It’s a little more self-aware and ambitious than usual. Either they had a change in design team or they wanted to make _Sun _stand above it’s competition, which appears to just be Yokai-Watch right now. If you enjoy pokemon or you enjoy a relaxing and simple RPG, this is worth picking up.
  4. I did a this:

    I'm clearly a colossal idiot but I'm also kinda curious if anyone will take me up on this. I thought about Patreon and felt horribly silly. But, my situation where I'm getting more worried that my current situation of 'Sitting on Far Less Money Than I'd Like For A Student In My Same Situation' is getting more awkward and precarious so, I figured I'd cast a net and see what happens with this.

    Because I don't deserve a Patreon. I don't do enough. Fiverr seems more my speed. Patreon is for people that churn out work on a regular basis rather than the spod I am which only does things when a bolt of inspiration hits.

    I'm also cautiously interested to see if someone'll buy my gig with the intention of exposing me to some utter abomination of media. I know of plenty that would make excellent fodder. I've dictated what I cover and I don't get many metrics on whether people care about what I write about so...

    I am just rambling now but...I've been working on the Everypony Robot Pony Game mainly to post anything else review related at the moment.
  5. Yes, I've been working and being in some turmoil recently but I have still been trying to write stuff. I've been trying to write reviews.

    The issue is that I was trying to get them published off this site. I asked if I could write for another site and get stuff up and they'd agree to pay for whatever I sent them. Neat, I thought, I could spread myself out and get some money. It wouldn't mean that I'd stop posting things here. Instead, I'd have posted a link to the article I'd written, asking for the click and some encouragement. I'd try spreading the Everypony name around along with my own, hopefully getting to make something out of my reviews.

    However, I've had a lot of trouble trying to get things vetoed and through to their site. As such, I've given up a little and decided to just pop at least some of the reviews on here. A few are very out of date, such are the issues I've been having trying to submit acceptable material, so might need a touch up here or there. Even so, I'd like to release these things as soon as I can. I've been way to quiet on this site for far too long.

    Thanks for reading,

  6. [​IMG]

    I should hate this game, yet I haven’t put it down for a while. As a long standing fan of this series, I should hate it just by the description of it. And I was ready to rip it to shreds when I first started. It happens to borrow two previously used mechanics from the previous games to create a single whole here.

    Still, this is a series that's always trying something new. Usually, that's messing around with the relative simplicity of swinging a weapon at an enemy. Kingdom Hearts loves to dream of ways of messing with that. Whether they're putting it in a weird, hybrid menu or adding reaction commands, they're throwing a convoluted card system over the top with no thought at all, like in Re:Chain of Memories. You have to fumble through a deck of 20 to 30 cards to do anything! It's like pulling the aces from a deck while someone shoots at you with a magic bazooka.

    No! I will not shut up about that till the game apologises by having my PS3 dispense M&Ms. The crunchy or normal kind. Peanut is acceptable. I will settle for Smarties and a candlelit dinner with Ansem.

    In the right atmosphere, I’m sure he’ll open his heart. And then he’ll be all mine…
    *wistful sigh*

    Unchained X, because having over-the-top sounding names is as much a part of the series as wearing too many belts, is available on Android and iOS. The gameplay puts me very much in mind of Re:Chain of Memories' stupid card system and the Mission structure of 358/2 Days, yet does them both better. In almost every way.

    OK, I’m on the subject so, let’s talk fighting things first.

    For those not in the know, this is a Keyblade. It is a magical weapon that unlocks things and is the best weapon against monsters called ‘Heartless’. It looks ridiculous, appears impractical as anything other than a bludgeoning weapon and I’ve wanted one since I was 14.

    To smack stuff with your keyblade, you tap to target one thing or swipe to deal damage across multiple targets. However, your keyblade now acts more like a revolver, with a chamber that contains a medal. Making an attack consumes the medal in the current chamber of your keyblade, like firing off a shot consumes a bullet. Each medal has different elemental attacks and stats, each medal can be levelled up individually to improve its stats and capabilities and each element of attack deals more damage to certain types of enemies, that also share these three elements across the whole game. You swing till you run out of medals then it’s the enemy’s turn. If you survive, your medals are reloaded and the game continues for another round. Simple! For a phone game, that’s actually perfectly fine as it still feels like a Kingdom Hearts experience.

    As I said, this series likes to play around with how combat is constructed and this time, they’ve focused their efforts on getting players to see how efficient they can be. The elemental thing ends up necessitating that you need to pick your medals carefully for each encounter, so that you can deal with enemies more effectively. Each mission (we’ll get to that) gives a clue of what’s up ahead by showing the target Heartless and the elemental type of the enemy then letting you pick your gear going in. The game incentivises this by giving you objectives every single mission (we’ll get to them soon). A vast majority of them give you a doodad for defeating every single enemy in one turn. So, now you have to think of how best to lay down the damage across all the enemies to get the best damage output. Thought and forward planning, oh my!

    To add more to that thought process, you also have a special bar which allows you to use special moves. These are one shot alternatives to each attack which is unique to the medal, each consuming differing amounts of the special bar for a big flashy attack. Some are straightforward damage but others gain bonuses from attacking enemies with a stats ailment, some get boosted if you used more special moves beforehand, some are boosted just by having high health. It’s another consideration: do you pop the special move or just spend the medal normally. The combat is honestly got a lot going on and I’m deep into it for that reason.

    Also pretty cute visually. I like bright and vibrant games and this delivers. Look at the adorable little Shadows there! Wickle monster’s gonna render me unto the endless abyss, ain’t cha?

    And can I please express how much I like it being TURN BASED! You have no idea how often I have died and desired to feed the designers to rabbid turnips just because I couldn’t find a 0 card while Marluxia barrelled down on me.

    Medals are neat but keyblades now effect the power of badges of a certain element if they’re placed in the right chamber. This means that keyblades now specialise in outputting a particular type of damage and equipping them to deal with a particular set of enemies is key to doing well, like picking a club before a golf swing. There’s only three elements to worry about so it’s not overtly complex, like Pokemon, but does offer a little more going on than slap enemy A with giant key.

    One keyblade could be better at Power or one at Speed. The first keyblade you get can boost the power of all three elements, making it a good allrounder if you want to be prepared. Keyblades can also be leveled up through synthesis, which requires materials you pick up from all over the place in the game. That’ll either make the chambers that offer elemental bonuses offer a higher bonus to that medals power or even add more chambers so you can swing for longer each turn. The gear in this game is genuinely worth picking up. I like it! The medals work fine and the keyblades are neat. It’s gratifying to become strong and that’s really the basics of what you want in a game like this.

    Missions is where this game get’s a B- though. I like the structure. They looked at the mission structure of 358/2 Days, where you had a list of stuff to do to advance the plot and you checked off one by one. Each mission had extra objectives to accomplish, like the deceitfully tricky ‘getting through without losing any health’, for extra bonuses. It was nice enough, except that missions could easily drag on or simply feel empty. Go here, kill that, get milk because Luxord wants his Mocha with soy this time; that sort of thing. It had variety but the missions lasted alot longer than they needed to. They elongated a game where it felt like barely anything ever happened, stabbing a sword through the pacing mercilessly while you’re left with a sludge to wade through endlessly.

    Pictured: 358/2 Days’ pacing

    Unchained X drops you in a little environment and goes: “Here! Kill these things. See you in two minutes!” It does this for every single mission. The only variety is in what you’re smacking but, you know what? I think it benefits from being simpler. It’s a mobile game. You’re going to play this on a bus when there’s not much else to do. It’s bitesize chunks of slightly odd RPG that are over in far less than five minutes if you can tell your arse from your elbows! More than 358/2 Days was, this is intended to be picked up and played for a short while then left alone. It’s certainly meant to be dropped at a moment’s notice considering the length of most missions. You’re often lucky if there’s a second screen to visit.

    But I ain’t mad! It’s consistent! You know what you’re getting into: lots of quick, simple but engaging little fights. It’s not stellar, but I enjoyed it. It’s a few steps above a Clicker game, which are fine just very simplistic for my taste.

    Now, we get to the slightly odd decisions here and that means bringing up the plot. All I know is that this takes place before any other game in the series thus far and you play as a random 10 year old who’s been given an incredibly powerful mystical weapon known as the Keyblade. You’re job is to go around to other worlds and fight monsters.

    Because this is Kingdom Hearts, where the usual continuity divides between different Disney properties is ignored with reckless abandon, please read ‘Worlds’ as ‘Disney Movie’.

    And where this guy is the most powerful and skilled warrior we have ever known. I am dead serious.You are not ment to be laughing right now. Stop that and take this bonkers crap seriously!

    I don’t know much more about the general plot, despite playing through almost 200 missions so far, because the mission structure stretches out each plot point to the thickness of a human hair. It does this by making you play through filler missions where all you are doing is moving back and forth between locations. In any other game, you would either be able to walk back yourself or simply cut there but Unchained X figures it will try to be more like it’s bigger brothers and have you fight your way back after saving Snow White or whatever. It means something happens, you fight your way through five or six missions to get where you need to be to investigate, something else happens, then you battle to get all the way back to where you started over five or six more missions. I have experienced quicker boils by throwing a lit lighter in a swimming pool. The padding is biblical!

    You are playing for the sweet loot and the neat battle mechanics because the story and missions are all there to get you to fork up cash. Yep! It’s a Freemium game. A weirdly lax freemium game where I am approaching Level 60 and I’m now only barely feeling any strain on my resources at all. They have an energy system that you use to enter missions with. Filling it back up when it’s gone either costs jewels, the main in-game currency, or you level up to replenish it for free. I’ve only ever needed to do this more recently as I try for the event missions for rare drops or when I try blowing through as many missions as I can. Up until this point, I’ve been perfectly fine. My judge is that you get quite a bit for nothin’ in this game and I’m pretty certain it won’t get much worse till the level 80 to 200 mark. But at that point, I’m so far in the game, I wouldn’t mind forking over less than a pound for some jewels.

    What can I say? It’s money-grabbing is actually pretty tame so far compared to other titles I’ve played.

    I guess they already had the fanbase for this one so, they were guaranteed to have someone playing!

    Mainly when Pokemon Go wasn’t working but still, someone would be playing!

    The weird thing is that you can improve both your maximum energy level and max HP, allowing you to take on more things without needing to dip into the coin purse, by buying clothes and hairstyles. You unlock new ‘accessory boards’ which contain a chain of bonuses you pay ‘Avatar Coins’ for. You earn these on the course of your normal mission-completing activities and they can be spent on upgrades to your mission energy and HP. You also get avatar cosmetics from then aaand...they’re OK but they feel like something you have to buy in order to get all the upgrades to the things that let you play the game for longer. Like the game is bribing you to pimp your avatar out with a new hat; it feels supremely weird.

    ...If you buy energy and HP upgrades and you upgrade gear with items, what’s the point of levelling up? It refills your energy bar for missions but that is entirely it. Why is it still a thing then? Not a deal breaker, just curious.

    Regardless of some unexplainable decisions, I like this one. It’s a neat thing to fall back on when Pokemon Go’s servers pack in. It’s got some thought, it reworks old ideas that really didn’t work and it’s got a very appealing art style. It’s cute with tones of visual references for Disney fans that is spot on for the films. It does have a glacially paced plot but even I wasn’t that fussed with it enough to stop playing. It’s free. Pick it up and try it while Niantic try to keep their new franchise alive.
  7. [​IMG]

    Right. Rabbit wants to be a cop. Rabbit succeeds by overcoming her limitations. Rabbit still has to prove herself and takes on a huge case that tumbles into a larger mystery. She succeeds, the end.

    That’s what you get because I don’t want to spoil it. Sure, due to how late I make these, it’s for the benefit of those that buy the home release more than anyone else but I’m keeping tight lipped for now on that. Mmmhm! Nope! Not saying a thing. Honestly, the trailers probably do too much of that anyway.

    As per usual, da-di-da-di-da.

    But, further analysis? I don’t know if I can avoid spoilers but I shall try.

    So, Disney has been doing stellar work recently. Inside Out, Wreck It Ralph, Frozen. All movies which captivated audiences and have helped put Disney on top. More so now they’ve got Marvel with them too. It’s getting a little too incredible that these guys haven’t stumbled yet. Kick out Isner and look whatcha get!

    So, instead of a Sisterhood reunion, a protracted therapy session and a huge mental metaphor, now we're getting social and political commentary for 8 year olds!

    Time to sit and listen to the Teacher while they tell you all about how
    judging based on looks is bad.

    The theme at the centre of the film are simple enough: use your own passion and skill to overcome your obstacles. You have to prove yourself to get ahead and adversity can even be simply no one believing you're capable of anything. Our main character, Judy, is that little rabbit that could. She’s surrounded by huge animals in comparison and it’s quite clear she’s physically inferior to the lions, elephants and wolves around her. Yet, she succeeds, beats the odds and becomes an officer.

    It’s about dreaming big then doing big.

    This is a wonderful film. It's vibrant, it's full of neat ideas and it's funny as all hell. I love this movie. It's one of those few films I'd want to see again. Oh yes! It's 'Repeat Watch' good. Even 'My Cinema's going to know me by first name basis' good. This deserves your time and money.

    But everyone's probably seen it already by now. I do have something to add to the discussion.

    The only thing I could spot as a chink in an otherwise highly entertaining movie, it’s that it can be on the nose. There are many parts where it shows it wants to be a message movie. It is an Aesop’s fable with cellphones. The beginning is the big part where we’re told everything we need to know about the movie. It’s themes are flagged up and any subtext the film could have had is brought to the forefront nakedly. There is a speech about the joys of complacency, for crying out loud! As well as a direct confrontation with an example character contradictory to what she believes about the two species that populate this world: prey and predators. It does not pull back with the ideas it want’s to push, instead planning to rub your nose in them to ensure you know loud and clear what's up.

    A friend of mine quoted me as saying I hated the movie for it. Which is ridiculous but let me clear up any misconceptions. I love the movie. This part bothered me as weird as it seemed like the better of the available options. The movie is talking to kids the loudest and most directly than anyone else. It also has a kinda complex moral to convey as well as having to establish our world, the rules, the main character, whatever supporting cast is nearby and some stakes on the line for Judy should she fail.

    As if I'd hate a movie like this! HA! Now, I'm eternally miserable about
    Ratchet and Clank being crap (according to reviews as it's not out in the UK yet (I think))
    and I was holding out hope Angry Birds might have been fun. A foolish fox, I am...

    So, they be upfront with it but always trying to make something either memorable, funny or pull double duty as both character building and world building. The opening scene of Judy performing in the little school play about Zootropolis introduces the place to us and shows off how passionate Judy is about what she does. That continues in her conversation about her dream of becoming a Police Officer in the big city with her parents. The complacency spiel is square on the nose but it’s illustrating her parent’s panicky nature as well as being part of the mentality a lot of Prey species have in this. They’re not much for aspiring to the stars here. Judy seems like a huge outlier in that sphere.

    The confrontation with the fox cub was like a brick to the side of the head, especially when he's specifically talking about being a big bad nasty fox. I get it, he’s the personification of everyone else telling Judy she’s going to fail in her ambition. He’s the assumptions and fears that Prey have against Predators. He’s supposed to be that unspoken dominance Predators are alleged to command. But I got all that and so did everyone else. This is a new world and new characters. The movie hinges on you being onboard with Judy from the get go. You have to care about her and you have to know what’s up.

    Ah! Reference to a funny line in the movie and showing how literal the symbolism
    gets in this.

    Within about ten minutes, I know what Judy believes, what she’s like, what the environment she’s in is like, an inkling of what other Prey animals are like, an idea of what Predator’s are like, what our stakes are, where we’re going, how we’re getting there and the tone for most of this movie.

    Even better, because Judy bested the fox cub at the start, we know she can walk the walk too. The audience needs all of this going forwards for the rest of the movie to work. Ordinarily, you’d sprinkle that throughout your movie, because no one likes exposition dumps except fans and the person writing said dump. Zootopia manages to get away with it because it keeps things entertaining. There is comedy and drama right when it’s needed. This is a ton of information all for the benefit of the audience, so that were all on the same page for the adventure in the big city later on.

    In fact, being entertaining is heavily true for this film. This movie got me to laugh hysterically at barely anything happening whenever a sloth was on screen. It was able to keep me hooked from start to finish.

    Let’s also give it over to Max Wilde too, Judy’s cynical counterpart. Again, a natural fit but also a genuinely enjoyable character to be with. He serves as Judy’s foil and partner throughout the movie. He’s great contrast.

    The one issue with him was his own moment as a kid that mirrors Judy’s scene with the angry fox cub bully. All I was thinking was how much the movie vilifies these kids. I know, I know! We’re not supposed to like these kids and I can attest to how horrible children can be but bloody hell! They’re psychopathic! Is it really so weird that he'd want to join this damn club?!

    Heh, there's a Simpsons Quote for everything.

    Therein lies my issue with the movie. I think I fell into the same rough groove that a few other critics got to with this thing where they did see these little cracks. It's a little forced in places to ensure the characters get where they're supposed to do making the movie feel unnatural when it had clearly strived to make the world as believable as possible. It seemed over the top in a world that appeared so detailed and real, you could just drive there if you knew the way. This dissonance manifested itself the strongest when I was sitting there going 'Good grief, what's wrong with you people?!". It actually takes me out of the movie. I'm not angry with the kids, I'm angry with the movie itself for being so needlessly cruel. I'm a first-hand witness to how needlessly cruel children can be but what they did seems closer to cartoonish with how utterly humiliating it was.

    I'd still recommend you see this though. This is probably more me with my personal mindset where I pick things apart and study them. I like to. I find it makes things more rewarding if I know how they tick. Clearly this issue wasn't a deal breaker if I'm urging you to see it. It's a movie where I laughed hysterically at barely anything going on whenever a sloth was on screen. The movie got me to laugh at itself literally wasting time, loving every moment of it. That's an incredible feat all on it's own. Watch it.

    How about Hamster Business Men? Look at them! SO CUTE!~ I just want to snuggle one until their market share in hugglitude went up!
  8. It's been ages since I wrote one of these! I've got so much to talk about still!

    Deck Doctor #4
    Catch Up Time!

    So, what did I miss? Well! Everything!

    Seriously, I don't know what's happened to me. I think it's the inevitable lethargie that happens from looking for work. You jump through hoops for the benefit of getting your benefit, taking a special kind of enthusiasm or effort to do anything more useful than just fling CV's at people in the vain hope they'll be interested. It's draining. Add on to that a bubbling level of tedium as I wait for BUCK 2016 to finally arrive because thanks to my miniscule amount of income, I can't afford to do anything but save for that.

    So, if you've been wondering where these article have been, I've been streaming Kingdom Hearts HD ReMix and watching 3rd Rock from the Sun almost nonstop. I've also constructed decks in both MLP:CCG and Magic: The Gathering. Those being the only games I have any amount of cards in to make something halfway decent. I even tried to come up with a draft cube in MLP:CCG; the ultimate sign that you might have too many cards.

    So, now I have the start of a cube, a Zombie deck, a Human deck and a deck that tries to use the Random Keyword to super charge Pumped abilities. I'll come back to that. Oh! And enough John Lithgow to want to make a global religion based around him.

    I've also missed out on quite a bit so let's dig into this, shall we?

    On January 13th, we got 'Bulk Biceps, Extra Strong Masseuse' axed from the game. The reason the MLP CCG Wiki gives is something along the lines of 'it's pretty exploitable without many obvious counters so therefore, not fun'. Which I can see if you build a deck around it. It means that the deck I showed off last issue 'Sombra The Soul Engine' will be taking some uncomfortable chops to it. It might just get removed entirely but I'm not sure as of yet. I'll get back to you on that when I do get round to exercising 'Bulk Biceps, Extra Strong Moose' from my deck. Shame, I liked that card.


    You shall be missed, you basket case lawsuit-waiting-to-happen!

    We got other stuff too. 'Discord, Party Clasher' and 'Fancy pants, Respected Aristocrat' both got technical nerfs. Instead of their respective abilities activating when they enter play, it now stipulates only when played from your hand.

    So, not the jolliest message from on high but there's tournaments happening now! Oh boy!

    Apparently, there are UK regionals and I'm honestly kinda terrified. Mainly because I have to battle a lot of my friends who are all really good players if I have any chance of moving up the ranks but also because I have to put my decks where my mouth is. I'm the guy that rides in with the outsider chance decks. You've seen the way I build decks. I haven't got tons of rares to make every deck I have as horrible as possible to fight against. I just have solid decks with the most solid cards I have. Still, the best deck I run is pretty formidable so I could still clinch a few good wins.

    I have BUCK 2016 to see how good my decks actually are before the regionals. I am expecting to see Applejack's everywhere! So much orange, man!

    I'm expecting Diligent everywhere.

    Thank you Nurse! Let's have a shufty at some decks, shall we? It'll help me calm down…


    Case #1 - Let's Do The Time Warp Again! (Harmony) - KorenCZ11 - Submitted to the MLP:CCG Subreddit

    Well, let's get right bang up to date with a Mane Character that hasn't really been released yet. Say 'hello' to Doctor Hooves, a card that I am pretty much convinced is going to be banned quicker than crack cocaine Crunchy bars. I might be cheating a little bit here as it seems to be an experimental deck to see what can be done with this card but I think it's fun to talk about too.

    You don't mind, do ya Koren?

    The first deck I've seen that has it's own mandatory victory dance

    I mean look at this thing! It gives you extra turns! Extra Turns! The amount of screwing around you can do with this card is biblical as you plunder that mechanic as hard as you possibly can! The saving grace of the card that stops it from being utterly broken is how hard it is to flip, even using the few methods the game allows. Winning 5 Face-Offs is not very easy, even with Competitive cards on the field. You can get around this though, which the rest of the deck is entirely built around.

    I know, Nurse. This Mane Character frightens me a little. It's potential for value and agro is unparalleled if you can get that timewarp to work just when you need it to.

    'Relay Race', 'Rock, Paper, Scissors, Shoot!', 'Multi-Goof Off!' and 'Magic Duel' are all Showdown cards that are designed to automatically instigate an instant Face-Off, usually between either only select targets. 'Multi-Goof Off!' and 'Relay Race' are the only ones that start a Face-Off involving more than one character, while the others only allow a 1-on-1 battle between one of your friends and one of there's of either equal or greater power. The entire point of these is to boost the number of possible Face-Off victories to help the good Doctor get his Time Counters to instigate his special ability.

    Next up, we have a collection of Face-Off fixer cards to help sway the competition in favour of the player. 'Star Swirl Research' is a simple event that gives a guaranteed 7 power flip the turn you use it. Use it before you flip and you're more than likely to dominate any Face-Off. Even better, the card doesn't banish itself or get dismissed when it's played, it's put on top of your deck. So, you could use it to add power to cards that need cards to go on top of the deck for nothing, if you'd like. Though, here it's just a card that goes to the bottom of your draw deck when used because it counts as a flipped card in the end. Fair enough.

    If Koren doesn't have that, then we've got 'Scope Things Out'. This allows you to draw 4 cards then put 3 cards back on top of your deck. Notice I didn't specify that they had to be any of the 4 cards you just drew, allowing you to throw down anything from your hand down. Usually, we'd be using this to activate certain cards that gain power from cards being placed on top of the deck. But, Koren wants to use it to ensure we rig the draw deck in their favour by rearranging the cards they're about to flip. So far, so sensible.

    Next, let's pay lip service to the cards Koren is using to ensure this mad contraption doesn't explode. As such, utility cards such as 'Call in the Dream Cavalry' and 'Juggling Routine' have been mixed in. 'Dream Cavalry' grants Swift to all friends for that turn, allowing any deck to get a shift on far more efficiently than normal. An indispensable card for any budding Blue deck, regardless of intention, frankly. Think long and hard about leaving this card out. 'Juggling Routine' on the other hoof, is just to ensure your discard pile doesn't come back to bite you in the rear. Using all these events to ensure the pile of counters on The Doctor is always on the up can drain a deck pretty hard. 'Juggling Routine' forces both players to shuffle their discard piles into their deck then the user draws a card. Sure, your opponent get's their discarded cards back too but you get to draw a card. It also messes with any decks that attempt to fiddle with their draws using Meticulous. Potentially handy to ensure you always have the upper hand.

    I saw this picture to illustrate how 'Juggling Routine' is kinda like a janitor and now I want
    to go binge watch 'Scrubs'. If I reference Dr Cox in this article, I might just give in and do that.

    The problem with using a Mane this potentially powerful is that Enterplay have deliberately made him pretty awkward to get off the ground. Which is perfectly fine and dandy as Koren seems to get that the deck might get maybe one or two shots of the ability off before the game ends. 'Finger Snap' adds a Time Counter, reducing that daunting requirement for 5 Face-Off wins to just two at minimum if the cards can be found. 'Chaos Capital of the World' is ordinarily a 'Panic Button' kind of card. It flips everything. Every character on the field is now turned over, causing friends to be frightened and Manes to be flipped. That's the point, this flips The Doctor, just at the cost of everything on the field, 5 Pink requirement and 4 action tokens. The Chaos effect targets only both Manes on the field, again instigating everything we want the deck to do.

    This goes both ways, however. The Doctor has to be flipping end over end as often as possible to get the most out of it's ability. As such, 'Chaos Capital of the World' is also here to reset Doctor Whooves after his ability has been spent, seeing as he does nothing on his Boosted side other than grant 3 Blue power.

    The troublemaker 'Rover' is here to mine for extra cards and 'Twittermites' are just here to hopefully gain a few extra Time counters or just block the opponent from taking too much advantage with this odd deck. Koren's thought appearing to be that the possibility of this deck being out run often was prevalent enough to add a card that get's more powerful when you're behind on points.

    Lastly, because the game is pretty tricky to play without these, the friends. Which are all over the place to facilitate all of the above card choices. Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie and Princess Twilight Sparkle in 'Rainbow Powered' flavour is teamed with 'Cloudchaser, Flexible Flyer' to reduce friend costs and 'Kevin, Fitting In' to somehow keep on top of the wayward colour requirements on the field. To try and help, we've got 'Singing Barrel' and 'Makeover!' to help grant extra colours to characters. 'Gyro, Poindexter' then allows you to search your deck for an event, ensuring you have at least one guaranteed poke around for the card you need when played. Considering the vague plan, that's not a bad idea.

    Does anyone else get a 1980's 'Weird Al' Yankovic vibe off this character?
    Imagine a curly wig on his head and you'll see what I mean.

    Prognosis - It's a Bit of a One Trick Pony

    Pun unintended but left because it's awesome.

    This looks like a mess. Yes, Koren has built a fun casual deck and I commend that as building weird decks that do something specific but unexpected is my jam. But there's a lot you could try doing here.

    The most of the Blue cards in the deck are all about winning Face-Offs, which makes sense. You're doing things, being pro-active though trying to find colour for your various friends so you can keep this deck on track seems unwieldy. I believe Koren's claim that they've been able to get the colour on field pretty reliably but it seems uncomfortable for a deck to stretch to do so many things at once. Colour correction and Face-Off generation and Deck Fixing and Mane Flipping seems too much.

    Either way, I'd be looking at this thing and shaking my head if I didn't see it in action first.

    The reliance on Events isn't a terrible idea but the deck doesn't really do anything that other decks like it would do to offset the generally heavy cost of throwing all those Events around. There's no Action Token generation at all other than winning a Face-Off using 'Magic Duel'. Sure, some cards are cheap or even free but the deck would have to balance being able to keep up with the game in terms of consistent point scoring with trying to flip Doctor Whooves for that huge advantage an extra turn could give. It does come with extra action tokens and even flipping Troublemakers without your opponent being able to do anything about it.

    One looks like it would be harder to maintain than the other. There's a lot of plates spinning here but they don't look towards doing anything tangible. Um...It generates the extra turns but there's something missing. Nurse Foxy, thoughts?

    Excellent point! The deck has no bite otherwise. It can gain extra turns but who cares if it can't do anything in it except set up another turn straight after. If you're not gaining points, who cares? Just like any time machine, if all you can do with it is travel forwards in time by thirty seconds, you're going to look pretty lame compared to the guy cracking open beers with Sir Isaac Newton and Oscar Wilde.

    Actually, they probably wouldn't drink beer normally but if you were being taken on a journey to the future by some stranger with a box, wouldn't you accept a drink if it was handed to you?

    You'd also be in the running for Stephen Fry's best friend ever if you arrange a meeting.

    Prescription - Focus on Scoring, not Bending Time and Space into a Pretzel

    Oh, where to begin!

    In the post, Koren said that this Mane has them concerned over the 'sheer stench of combo that this card reeks of'. Which it does. So, I would suggest going ballistic in that direction.

    If you must insist on trying to get as many free turns as possible, then why not throw out a colour in order to squeeze in 'Fluttershy, Backup Vocals' along with a bunch of Yellow to facilitate it. On top of 'Singing Barrel' being able to return this card to your hand to allow you to reload The Doctor's ability, but Yellow cards have enjoyed being rather inexpensive for a while. The deck can then benefit from Critter synergies should you want to use them. 'Fast Food' or 'Critter Cavalry' come to mind in order to help boost the speed you rack up Face-Off wins.

    Combo this with stuff like 'Chaos Capital of the World' and you can make The Doctor regenerating more often than the constant rotation of actors playing him have.

    Why do I suddenly want a battle royal of every Doctor Who versus every James Bond?
    Wouldn't that be neat? It could be judged by every Sherlock Holmes we've had so far.

    For this, I'd take out the highly awkward Purple cards, possibly even the Blue cards and build mainly into the Yellow and Pink, using Doctor Whooves just for his ability. This is the most likely and obvious strategy. It is also the most ploddingly boring as taking extra turns annoys the player, proving that you really can't exactly think outside the box. Of course, you'd try to ramshackle the game in your favour as often as possible!

    It's just awkward as all hell to do, requiring most of the deck to pull off.

    Thank you Nurse! And I know of a way that seems far more fun. This involves almost everything I'm about to talk about in my own 'Doctor's Deck'. So, I don't want to repeat myself. In a change of routine that I've only done twice so far, let's jump to my own deck for Possibility Number 2.


    Doctor's Deck - Let The Alicorn Win

    Mane - Princess Luna, Princess of the Night (From Canterlot Nights)
    Colours - Purple and Blue
    Strengths - Has many tricks and abilities to gain the advantage in any Face-Off, Able to raise extra Action Tokens whenever it wins a Face-Offs, Plenty of Events for various uses, Powerful and Intimidating Troublemakers, Name is a Star Wars reference.
    Weaknesses - Deck is slow to get started, movement is inefficient unless an event is used, flipping the Mane is easily counterable if not careful, flipping mane is necessary for a strong early game.

    Strategy Summary
    No one is allowed to win any Face-Offs, by decree of Princess Luna as she storms every single one, fixing them all in her favour with the clever use of her Boosted ability to gain power at the cost of events and friends carrying the keyword Competitive. Luna is looking for competition so is more than happy to make it happen as often as she likes.

    At the center of this deck is Luna herself, arguably the most powerful card here. A difficult card to utilise but hiding a very powerful ability that might just beat back the onslaught of Diligent or Meticulous if you play your cards right. Literally! Luna's secret weapon is that she can gain +3 power during a Face-Off if you discard an Event. This turns a 3 power card into a six power card, making Luna pretty formidable in her own right. Very cool.

    We turn Princess Luna into Popeye. And Events are her spinach.

    This is an action you can take multiple times, as long as you have the Events to pay for it. Yes, this effect stacks! With a few events, you can shift a Face-Off heavily in your favour, allowing control of a very important aspect of the game. As a small bonus, this Luna still has a rather outdated Keyword called 'Studious', which grants an action token when you win a Face-Off. Not insignificant but, if you are going to build your own version of this deck (and we think you should), remember that 'Studious' does not stack. Unlike 'Inspired' or 'Meticulous'. Having extra cards does not net you more Action Tokens, only more chance of winning that singular token.

    The friends of the deck are hardly anything to be sniffed at either as they back up Princess Luna's conquest of all competition placed before her. The most noticeable are the blue cards that contain the keyword 'Competitive'. Competitive cards will gain extra power when they are involved in Face-Offs, so already we've a large advantage with all the extra power from no-where and Luna ready to consume Event cards.

    'Filthy Rich, Cold Hard Cash' is a bit of an outlier but still hugely useful in the right situation. Hasty allows that card to be played when the player has a priority window, whenever they like. So, like Immediate, it can be used to suddenly turn the tide in a Face-Off unexpectedly. It's three Action Tokens but the card does have Diligent to boot. If you win the Face-Off it turns up late to, it'll gain some permanent power from it too.

    On the purple side, 'Lady Justice, Judge & Jury' takes the opposite idea and lowers opposing card's power that are involved in a Face-Off at it's problem. Costly but invaluable card to have in this deck. Similarly, throwing down 'Rare Find, A Real Gem' is just as indispensable as it gains power for every opposing character at it's problem. Against a swarm deck or a deck that loves to dogpile problems, this card is hilarious as one action token gains some ludicrous amount of value. Plus, it can be deployed to deter a player from moving or playing characters there.

    Next, the Events themselves. When they're not being used as Princess fodder, the events are hardly anything to scoff at. 'ROYAL CANTERLOT VOICE' allows for free opposing friend movement, 'Star Swirl Research' fixes the flip from the deck to be a very high 7 power. 'Through the Ages' knocks down the opponent's power during a Face-Off, across the board so is most powerful in a Double Face-Off. 'Read the Manual' just grants extra action tokens. 'Magic Duel' sets up a Face-Off that could possibly win an extra Action Token without spending any. 'Call in the Dream Cavalry' gives all characters in play 'Swift', cutting their movement costs in half. 'Under the Wire' allows all friends in your hand to become Hasty but only until a friend is played, allowing for clutch moves to take the lead in a Face-Off.

    Perhaps a Lady Justice swoops in unexpectedly? Such is the power this deck wields.

    "Oooohh! That Lady Justice came out of nowhere! I'm so sorry!"

    Huh. If I actually acted like that, I'd want to punch my face just as much as my opponent.

    Lastly, 'Special Beam Cannon'. This is the deck's main defence against resources. This powerful card banishes them from the game, rather than just dismisses them. That could be an important distinction when dealing with a Fashion deck, for example, which is dipping back into it's discarded garments to gain more power. One action token and three purple requirement is pretty cheap for powerful resource dismissal.

    Speaking of resources, this decks two choices are very rare cards which I find work excellently but there are alternatives to these should you not have any of these. Which, I wouldn't be surprised by.

    'Utterly Drained' is the biggest slap in the face a player can give as far as I'm concerned. 'A Party of One' is irritating but there are decks which can recover from it. But many decks are built around the abilities of the Mane Character. Most play-based aggro decks which use Octavia's Mane card, for example, rely on that +2 power for that turn in order to get their cheap friends up to meet problem requirements. The Yellow Derpy Mane which limits players to one of each type of card per turn would be utterly neutralised until the resource was removed. In a deck looking for every advantage and trick it can find to win Face-Offs for it's own gain, that could be a particularly dastardly one.

    'Heart's Desire' in a deck about winning Face-Offs? Of course, it's a no-brainer! A card that can be discarded for double it's action token cost if you win any Face-Off is astoundingly powerful if you make room for it. Those four action tokens could be for tones of things. More friends to pound the opponent into submission with? More uses of events?

    What about those Troublemakers? A collection of highly unpleasant cards. 'Biff' can prevent a Mane Character from confronting it. It can also force a Mane Character to flip back to it's start side at the cost of the card itself and 2 action tokens. Not bad. 'Princess Mi Amore Cadenza' and 'Nightmare Moon, Blackest Night' are far more offensive cards. Sticking with the theme of picking as many fights as possible, Nightmare Moon can instigate a Troublemaker Face-Off as a Main Phase action for 3 action tokens. 5 power and 2 points bounty on her head are interesting stakes for your opponent to play for when you consider the possible chance to dismiss an opponent's friend should it lose. Nightmare Moon challenges opposing cards one on one, allowing the user to pick off unsightly cards that might be causing issues in their turn, if they can with the Face-Off.

    Though, a Lady Justice or a 'Through the Ages' ought to help out there.

    "Oh Duuude! A 'Through the Ages'! I did it aga- SMACK!"

    'Princess Mi Amore Cadenza' is honestly one of my favourite Troublemakers because she always has something of a psychological aspect to her. This is utterly subjective, I'm sure, but the card looks unsettling. Dismissing an opponent's card uncontestedly is not to be sniffed at. If the roadblock isn't working out with your Troublemaker, you can snatch up an opposing friend instead. The issue is that it's sent to your opponent's home and they gain control of it, like it was a friend. They are then able to do the same right back at you for the same cost, by which they then hand the card back to you, which then sits at your home until you use the ability again.

    This goes back and forth like a pistol duel where you only have one gun, taking turns to shoot each other. It's a chaotic thing to do for 4 action tokens. As a late game move, that could turn the tide of the game and snatch victory by removing an opponent's star player. It's often unlikely they will retaliate by using the ability themselves as 4 Action Tokens is very costly to take a friend but then load the dismissal sniper rifle to shoot back with.

    A little chaos throws off an opponent. At least, that's how I play.

    It can't be stressed how powerful control over Face-Offs can be in the right circumstances. This can upset Villain Farming decks but it mainly messes with decks reliant on Diligent. They have to win Face-Offs to gain power. It's able to slow a Diligent deck to a crawl if they can't get that powerful snowball rolling.

    Large amounts of Face-Off potential also forces a savvy player to think twice about their position before entering a Face-Off with you. They know they need to be on top form, countering every advantage you have with their own to stay within a shot of winning the bonus points. It's likely you're opponent will have to spend a little longer to set up suitable amounts of power or beneficial abilities before jumping in, which gives you more time to score points or move characters where they need to be. Or to throw down a 'Heart's Desire'.

    No. Not even close. Who is that?!

    The rest of the strengths of this deck tend to center around the little combos and tricks this deck is capable of. Most of which have been explained, such as Luna's Event burning for extra power, aggressive troublemakers and 'Utterly Drained' but the most interesting trick of the deck involves the showdown event 'Magic Duel' and a Competitive friend.

    'Magic Duel' stipulates that the Face-Off it creates has to be between two opposing friends. The opposing friend targetted can be of equal or greater power. There's also no limit on what friend you choose for your side, it just has to be a friend. Enter Competitive Friends. Let's say we play 'Magic Duel' and choose to make our 'Scootaloo, Daredevil' face-0ff against another 1 power friend our opponent controls. Ordinarily, this would be an even fight but Competitive kicks in as soon as the Face-Off starts. Scootaloo gains 2 power becoming three power. Instantly, we have a two power lead on our opponent, putting them at a big disadvantage right off the bat. 'Magic Duel' is only for one action token but it could mean all the difference when you're short of them and need the extra token to move up that last character.

    Also, throw down a 'Heart's Desire' before you start this, netting you 5 action tokens total for whatever nefarious deeds you have planned.

    The extra Action Token generation by this deck is tricky to plan for or counter for the opponent as it's not a widely used method. But, if you do so fantastically in such bouts, why not make a little more scratch on it?

    A weird choice for this deck is 'ROYAL CANTERLOT VOICE' which forces the opponent to move a card from a problem. Yes, what get's moved is the choice of the opponent, not you. The upside? If you control Princess Luna in any form, your action token is refunded after you play the card, making it very cost efficent. While there are far more effective methods of shifting cards out of the way, this one is essentially free. Why not use it? Plus, it's an Event, leading to even more Princess Fodder.

    'Princess Fodder'. That sounds like it ought to be an extreme but slightly confused breakfast cereal. Or maybe an action movie where a Disney princess snaps and kills everyone. Or was that Mulan?

    Unless Snow White learns black magic, Mulan is still the only Disney Princess able to
    kill hundreds in one move. OK, the Huns survived the avalanche but those guys seemed
    so nuts, disemboweling them would be shrugged off like a hangnail!

    We also shouldn't forget the potential havoc that a well placed 'Utterly Drained' or Biff can cause. Upsetting a deck by applying a strangle hold directly to the deck's only constant can cripple decks that rely on the Mane's ability. Many decks are built on their Mane Character's ability because they're certain it'll usually be available. It's a smart way to approach deck building but it's an exploitable chink in any deck.

    See? Fun! Well, for you. Though the best use of this is against a Bubbly Mare Mane Character and nullify the play restriction ability the card has. Awww...I can only play one card of each type per turn? Well, then that's an ability that needs to go! Right now! Before I spend most of the game throwing counters at your head for playing such a card.

    This deck's Mane is not for pansies. If you're going to do well with this deck, you have to concede that getting Luna flipped is a number one, hyper super duper, extra magic sprinkles priority. The issue is that it's ability to fix Face-Offs in your favour has the cost of 2 Action Tokens but only if you confront a problem. Yes! You have to confront and then have 2 Action Tokens left over! A deck that moves far faster right off the bat can knock this deck around quite easily. A lock-out deck can bugger up this deck if it can act quickly enough. Even a turn two Troublemaker reveal dents this deck's star player quite powerfully.

    But, let's assume that you get things off the ground nicely, which isn't very hard but it's not unreasonable to think that complications might arise. You still have your legions of cards that are mainly useful during Face-Offs. Your biggest problem is getting them up to a problem to take part in said Face-Off. Only 'Cloudchaser, Wonderbolt Trainee' has Swift, meaning that these other cards are a little cumbersome for an aggro deck which has a strong emphasis on valuable cards rather than tactics other aggro decks tend to use; either play cost efficiency or movement abilities. Only 'Call in the Dream Cavalry' does anything about this, necessitating all of the tricks this deck is capable of to beat down the opponent then win action tokens through rigged Face-Offs just so that it can mobilise it's forces more comfortably. Five action tokens seems pretty tight to move a Mane, a Lady Justice and at least one Competitive character with. 'Twilight Sparkle, All-Team Organiser' does help on a more reliable basis but it's not the most cost effective thing in the world.

    Let's also warn anyone that tries using this deck that Events are a precious resource. They can allow victory in almost any Face-Off but the deck has no means of retrieving events from the discard pile. A few problem cards can allow the deck to dig through the draw deck for them but otherwise, it would be advised to use Luna's ability carefully, as the Event cards are able to do more than just burn as fodder. Once they're gone, it's likely they're gone for good.

    Where To Go From Here?
    Well, that's the thing: this one we do actually encourage to build yourself and fiddle with because it's possible to play around with it rather nicely. Maybe throw in some Pink, focusing on a dismissal version. Which would be extra hilarious as you use 'Rock, Paper, Scissors, Shoot' to dismiss something in the event of a victory and collect the reward from 'Heart's Desire'. White would be particularly interesting, especially considering a character like 'Rarity, Breezified' that would be retired in exchange for extra points in the event of a victory. Though, the white 'Showdown' event is 'Fashion Week', which grants an extra point upon victory anyway. Not to mention 'Antiquing' which fishes for extra power in the discard pile. If you do keep the Luna mane in your version, those event's your burning for more power aren't quite as lost.

    That and powerful cards that can stop opposing friends from moving too.

    "Oh, no, no, no! That friend is in the wrong place! Here! Let me fix it for you, darling!"

    Though, if you're not quite as lucky as I am, it's possible you could throw in some cards instead of 'Heart's Desire' or 'Utterly Drained'. They are monstrously difficult to find cards for a beginner or novice without shilling out for them. Either by buying individually or buying more packs. The average player might not have such a risque taste in Troublemakers as I do. So, what do you do instead?

    Perhaps use 'Extreme Sledding', an event which moves up to two of your characters for two action tokens. A round about Swift, if you'd like. 'Rage Face' is a hilarious looking resource that not only moves a friend if you control it but it's also a Vexing card, allowing you to shift something up to a problem, ready to poop your opponent's party. 'Oh YEAH!' seems handy if you're confident you will always pull ahead by being an Event that frightens an opposing friend if you won a Face-Off by at least five power. A little insult to injury as you romp to victory.

    For Purple, I can think of 'Zecora, Forrest Sharman' that excludes Mane Character's from Face-Offs. Y'know, to get up the noses of Maud and Applejack players. The resource 'Saving the Day' would make defending problems and their bonuses a little easier should you need more time to mount a suitable group for a Face-Off by being not only a Vexing card but also able to reduce the cost of playing events by one action token, down to a minimum of one, while it sticks around. Potentially very useful. Perhaps you could try 'Ponyville Emergency' instead of 'ROYAL CANTERLOT VOICE'. While not as funny, it is able to move more opposing friends when played. It's also a movement that you decide, making it more tactically useful.

    Other weird ideas? Umm...'Amethyst Maresbury, Crystal Librarian'? It can build up cards underneath itself with Pumped then cash them all in for action tokens when you win a Face-Off. Not too bad. 'Awkward Silence' just to grab full control over any Face-Off by outright ending it there and then. 'Canterlot Archives'? Once it's in place, you can exhaust it to banish an Event under it. When a Face-Off kicks off, you can move one of the banished cards underneath it to the top of your deck and gain an action token from it. Not too shabby from a Canterlot Night's card. 'Private Journal' allows you to not only look at your opponent's hand to check for possible traps coming but also place them on top of your opponent's deck, forcing them to flip it in the Face-Off. Just the kind of underhandedness I like.

    But, finally getting back to Koren's deck once more, why not build a deck around this idea? Well, the issue comes in rebalancing colours. You might want to take out 'Spitfire, On The Wing' and go for either a 'Makeover!', 'Singing Barrel' or maybe even 'Pegasus Royal Guard, Elite Sentry' that not only has 1 Blue requirement but will gain power in a Face-Off. Alternatively, you have 'Cerulean Skies, Skyward Soarer' which gives you a weak friend with Swift that still allows you that attainable amount of Blue power to make up for the glacial pace Doctor Whooves will take to flip.

    "Hold on! I need to wind up to solving everything by being amazing and wonderful.
    Try not to die for five minutes, OK?"

    Y'see, we're only looking to make a robust deck that can handle it's Mane being less than useless for a bit while it winds up. Sure! It doesn't have Princess Luna to jump in and decimate everything with it's Event cannon. However, you now have an extra turn with which to throw down troublemakers or pick on the opponent. This plan focuses on getting points first, with The Doctor acting more like a special prize for doing really well at it. Pick your moment and throw in that extra turn, ready to capitalise on it as effectively as you can when it does roll around. Quality over quantity.

    Perhaps hold back till your extra turn is active and deploy a 'Call in the Dream Cavalry'? Storm ahead and win a second Double Face-Off in a row. That ought to feel pretty good.

    Still, you're all encouraged to try this deck out. Maybe you can create something far more monstrous than I've managed to here. If you do, let us know!

    I...I don't have any. Otherwise I would have.

    Case #2 - <Unnamed> (Harmony) - ponyboymlp - Submitted to the MLP:CCG Subreddit

    So, it's a hodgepodge deck. You know what these are! A relatively new player turns up and throws everything they have that looks vaguely powerful together in one deck in the hopes it will coalesce into something powerful. Like a Draft deck, almost.

    "I had to settle for a five colour Random and Teamwork deck, Rainbow Dash!
    If I die, I want you to burn the deck that killed me!"

    Now, sure! Not everyone has to build their deck around a gimmick or central strategy but it does usually help greatly as you look for an edge your deck can exploit for victory. White and Purple is a pretty decent pick for colours, both rich in cards that can deal some serious obstacles to an opponent. Both colours are usually attributed to being heavily 'Control' focused in my experience.

    Y'see Pony Boy, Purple usually works to alter the game state to it's own advantage. It's weird and unusual abilities usually render most other decks pretty heavily messed with, meaning they either pick themselves up or get left behind.

    'Lady Justice, Judge and Jury' I have already talked about but it's lovely ability is hampered by it's Action Token cost. A good if costly card. This is the only Purple entry in the deck unless a Face-Off can be won. Otherwise, we've got 'Princess Celestia, Gambit Planner'; a card that can be retired for 4 Action Tokens when another one of your friends is dismissed. It's a nice contingency plan if nothing else. Lastly, 'Moondancer, Page Turner'. This is a pretty powerful card in the right hands. First off, we have a Chaos effect where you can effectively flip a card indirectly from your hand to add extra power from a face off. So, that could be 3 power plus an extra 5 or even 7 if you give up an Event. Not to be sniffed at. The other ability is gaining +2 power for every card that's put on top of your deck. A rare but powerful card.

    The Mane 'Princess Luna, The Party's Over' is a tricky one. It's certainly a decent card that could boost further Face-Off wins later on. Though, it is a little tricky to flip. This requires winning a Face-Off to make use of it's Boosted side. You have to do that with a Problem Face-Off as there's no way of forcing a Face-Off with it using Showdown cards. The kicker is that it has to be a Face-Off that Luna is involved in. Though, -1 power to all opposing friends during Face-Offs is handy.

    The other half of this deck, White, seems more slanted towards denying movement or directly controlling the board. They have some overlap with other colours but their own spins on them. Purple, for example, can move characters around the board, quite commonly. White stops them from being able to move all together. Purple usually concerns itself more with Events and finding them. White often looks for Resources and finds them wherever they can, even the discard pile.

    "Oooo! 'Pony Charm'! And a 'Chic Beret'."

    As for White friends in this deck, well...'Aloe, Magic Touch' is useful, certainly. A card that will increase the power of whatever is played in the same place is pretty useful. Our only other entry for White being 'Sugar Twist, Twister Sister' - a 2 cost, 2 power card without any abilities - which does cover most of the friend requirements the rest of the deck demands.

    'Savoir Fare, Snooty Server' has the now a little outdated but powerful keyword 'Inspired', allowing the deck to alter the opponent's deck each turn. But this also can boost another character at it's problem by 2 power for the turn. Like a more powerful Aloe. 'Octavia, Virtuoso' is arguably the most difficult to play cards in the deck. While jacking up movement costs for the problem it's now sitting at by a whole 2 Action Tokens is very crippling for most decks, 4 power and that ability comes at the reasonable but still large price of 5 Action Tokens.

    Then there's the events, most of which we've discussed: 'ROYAL CANTERLOT VOICE', 'Star Swirl Research', 'Scope Things Out' and 'Through the Ages'. All cards we've seen before and should know have their place. The new cards are 'Back Where You Belong' a card that moves an opponent's character of your choice, with no quibbles or extra hurdles to consider. 'Stand Still' is a pretty powerful standard of a lot of White cards that's able to prevent a character from being moved. No matter what it is, you can send that character right back where they came from. Potentially devastating if deployed with the subtle cunning of a paranoid cat pouncing on everything that comes near it.

    For resources, we have the ever mildly annoying 'The Twilicane'. Playing it on an opponent's Mane Character forces all friends for that player to suffer -1 power during the Score Phase, screwing up most attempts to score points. Though, this is only if the Mane Character is at home. So, it's clear this is supposed to be used in conjunction with 'Stand Still!' and 'Back Where You Began'. You keep the opponent right where you want them while you march in and score all the points you want.

    "Here we go. MLP:CCG rules. Mm, AH! Here we are!
    'Rule 487 - B Sub-section F: Rarity wins always and forever. No exceptions.'
    Seems perfectly legitimate to me."

    Then, a few troublemakers. They're useful in any deck though it's been awhile since I've seen anyone use Quarray Eels. 2 points on a 4 power card is supposed to be balanced by an extra Action Token tax on any character movement. Hm...Still, 'Starlight Glimmer, Exposed Inequality' is more like it! A troublemaker that grants a free movement when flipped, then has 0 bonus points to win. That's pretty much indispensable. A perfect card for plenty of occasions. 'Trixie, Highest Level Unicorn' is Pony Boy's Villain, which makes plenty of sense. Villain's allow for a more potent break up of any Lock Out potential the opponent might be planning while also serving as some points you can try to pick up as well. Though, you might just shoot yourself in the hoof as this Trixie removes abilities. Sitting behind this with certain cards would yield no benefit other than power.

    Something to consider.

    Prognosis - Two Words: Focus!

    Right. Though, it could still do with a rather heavy tune up.

    I'm sure this is not the last deck we cover that seems to just be a rough chucking together of cards that look good with only a cursory plan in their selection. But, to give it credit, this is a deck that looks like it could be hammered into something decent if a good direction was picked. Right now, it seems in a kind of strategy limbo where it's effects don't coalesce into an overall plan of attack. Without that tactical throughline for the deck, playing it is likely to result in a pretty patchy performance. Sometimes, it'll to well but there's also times when it'll probably trip up hard. There's plenty of directions to go in though. Which makes any suggestions I can give very broad. But, here's what I came up with.

    Prescription - Get some Teeth in the Deck!
    Lessee, here...Welp! Your Mane suggests you ought to look at the deck I suggested right here as well. That Luna Mane would slot into that deck rather easily, though it would now have a lot more Events to play with than usual. It's debateable whether this Mane is harder to flip than the Princess Luna I suggested but it would have plenty of help once the Competitive friends landed.

    Your friends do lend themselves to a few other possibilities.

    The Purple in the deck could be turned into an aggro-combo idea that's powered by Meticulous. Instead of Princess Celestia, we could have a card like 'Mayor Mare, Vote of Confidence' which gains power whenever cards are placed on top of you deck. Couple that with a few more Meticulous cards, say...'Princess Twilight Sparkle: Ambassador of Friendship' or 'Owlowiscious, Reshelver' and you have a nice little engine that can not only ensure your deck is throwing up things you want to be drawing or flipping in Face-Offs at that point but also boosting the likes of Moonshine and Mayor Mare up to confront problems with confidence. Sure, it's only in your turn so you're on the back hoof if a Face-Off happens in your opponent's turn but then that's what 'Scope Things Out' could be for. You'd get the most out of that single Action Token you could by boosting the power of Moonshine and Mayor Mare three times.

    "Good luck with that. All my cards got buffed like crazy for this set.
    I'll let you finish before I show you how it's done."​

    With your inflated mares, just rumble on through problems (perfectly fine and dandy for most situations, by the by) like giant Japanese monsters.

    Your White on the other hand? Well, why not keep White as an off-colour and use it to prevent movement at every turn. You have 'Stand Stills!' in your deck, there is no reason to remove them. Though, where to go from there?

    One angle is to jack up movement costs for your opponent. The 'Tax' deck is a long standing archetype that takes advantage of a variety of cards that will demand extra Action Tokens from the Opponent for every action the deck can stretch to. The most common are taxations on movement. In this, we have tons to work with. The Resource 'Combat Hat', 'Fleur Dis Lee, Canterlot Socialite' and 'Aunt Orange, Distant Cousin' come to mind. Essentially anything that has Showy would work. For taxations on card play, 'Stack of Suitcases' might be the most useful to consider as it imposes a tax on any card played by your opponent, ratcheting higher and higher the more cards they attempt to play. It's a Rare so don't hope and pray you'll get it. I suppose 'Fashion Upgrade' would be useful in this endeavour too but it's only a tax on action tokens if the Opponent can afford it. It's useful to thin down the opponent's movements with no Action Token cost to yourself but can't stop an opponent by itself.

    However, this only slows down the march of the Opponent, not prevent it. Well, White has you covered further. Plenty of cards are able to prevent cards approaching, though usually at a heftier cost. 'Photo Op' comes to mind, instantly preventing the movement of every character the opponent has in play for that turn. They either play cards or do nothing. For a more permanent alternative would be 'Spotlight' which surprises the opponent during their Mane Phase by paying an Action Token, exhausting the card then calmly telling them that one of their cards isn't allowed to move. Do this on a key card and you're laughing. 'Preemptive Flick' is rather similar, if cheaper and disposes of itself when used. Not as fantastic but could be useful.

    In recent sets, White has been proving that it wants to be just as Aggro as the other decks. If you wanted, you could attempt to kick your deck into maximum speed and play cards like 'Daisy, Lilly & Roseluck, Wilt Under Pressure' which will start at 1 power but then gain 3 power if there's no opposing friends at the problem. A cheap card that can power you to a quick, inexpensive point boost if you can capitalise on the opportunity. Team that with maybe an Aloe or any of your Purple powerhouses and you have a lot of White cards you can take advantage of as long as your opponent isn't there. 'Solo Performance' will allow you to score extra points. 'On A Deadline' will grant +1 power to friends at the problem you play this on. Certainly worth considering. Especially if it's teamed with some movement prevention cards. That could be toxic for any deck facing it.

    Though, using Octavia as your Mane to accomplish the
    same goal might make just as much sense.

    Still, this is just my thoughts on this thing. There's plenty of places to go with these colours, depending on how you want to face your opponent. Practice, practice, practice is the key here. The more you play a deck, the more you can find it's little faults and try to patch them up. With a little focus, you'll have a vicious deck, I'm sure of it.

    Oh! And 'Rarity, Truly Outrageous' because White deck.

    Wow. That was truly a Jem of a joke, Foxy. Yes.
    I think that wraps it up for now. If you'd like to show us something you think would be interesting to write about, please let us know! If you agree or disagree or have thought of something we haven't thought of, please let us know! If you prefer porridge to waffles, please let us know?

    Thanks for reading.

    "Weeeeell! Not bad, Fluffy. Ya cracked off a few jokes and rammed no less than three
    narcissistic rants about your own creations while yammering on and-" Oh sod this!

    Foxy! Get me some munchies, stat! I'm booting up Netflix and I'm not turning it off until
    JD starts teaching!
  9. Welp! There were only two things that I could comfortably talk about that are within recent memory. Well, maybe three but it makes sense to talk about this before diving into Firefly, if only to compare and contrast. They're both things I have a great fondness for and a little nostalgia comes with them but Star Wars: Battlefield II can come on up another week.

    I'm feeling like some Buffy. Kinda relevant in 2016 when we're now living in a world that Joss Whedon helped shape.

    Buffy The Vampire Slayer
    So, in Space Year 2016, the Comic Book movie is riding high. At the time of writing, everyone that cares is looking forward to Deadpool, the next Marvel Studios movie after they became part of Disney. They've been decimating the movie world for a while and it's mainly down to a Mr Joss Whedon.

    So, a while back, I decided I'd revisit his first big TV show. Though not out of cultural relevance. Mainly because I've been paying for a Netflix account for a while now and this seemed like a good way to get my money's worth. Why not? Checking out a show I hadn't seen since I was a kid and try to evaluate it with my older eyes and sensibilities? I'm up for that!

    Though, I seriously shouldn't have been watching this as a kid. I know it's a TV show that span off from a lukewarm movie that no one really remembers because the TV show eclipses it, but this was one of the shows that was shown after Star Trek: The Next Generation on BBC Two in the late 90's to early 2000's. My family watched this after TNG then some Simpsons, then some Robot Wars and then Buffy before bed. Honestly, I'm staggered that we were allowed to watch this show because it's full of killing, weird imagery, grotesque monsters and...oh yes! All the bloody sex in this thing! Towards the later seasons, people are screwing like it's a bonobos mating season at the same time as an apocalypse. Which is a regular occurrence on the show, though tends to be placed in strategically to serve the plot going on at that point. Some how, all the boinking didn't register until I watched it recently. How I blotted that from my brain, I don't know.

    I remember it being the first gay couple I was exposed to. And no skirting around it, they were gay. I don't remember it being any kind of a weird thing either so, great?

    "Stop giggling at me or your walking! Y'hear me?!"

    Enough rambling, let's catch up those too young to know what I'm on about.

    The initial idea of the show is that there's a girl called Buffy Summers. She's a high school age Amercian student that spends her days rolling through classes, hanging out with her friends and training to fight monsters with the school's librarian. By night, she's the Slayer; a chosen defender of humanity against demons that are looking to do nothing less than destroy the world. All they care about, is killing everything. Evil is all they do. She's joined by Jiles, the school librarian and Buffy's Watcher. A Watcher being a mentor that dedicate themselves to supporting the Slayer as much as they can. But, this stiff, proper Englishman scholarly type can hold his own when he needs to but is usually a spout of information on the baddie of the week.

    Giles is able to be a cutting voice of wisdom. His age allows him to snipe down
    with a characteristic dry wit at the younger characters. Or be the out of touch
    grandad of the group. Both are fun to watch.

    Then there's Buffy's friends, Willow and Xander.

    Willow is shy, introverted and exceptionally nerdy. She's super smart, gifted with science as well as computers. She tends to be the one that hacks into places the plot needs information from to keep things going or a nice damsel for Buffy to save. Xander is our comic relief. A slightly doofy, cowardly dork that cracks jokes all the time. Honestly, he's a lot of fun as he's able to undercut the tone where it's needed with a little bit of added humour.

    Together, they have to fight against the legions of demons that are sprouting up out of the Hellmouth, a literal entranceway to Hell that the town setting of Sunnydale is built on top of. It's because of that that Sunnydale is a highly dangerous death trap that will find the weirdest or bloodiest way it can to murder you.

    Now, this probably all sounds like a silly B-movie and that's the idea. At least initially. Buffy strikes me as a teen melodrama that borrows from horror and action movies to make this odd little meeting place where a superhero is effectively fighting some big bad every week. It is very comic book, which isn't surprising considering Whedon's apparent love of the form, but I got the feeling that earlier series were definitely supposed to be high school related takes on horror cliches.

    The first lesson at Sunnydale High is taking publicity shots

    Or, probably, more the other way round. The anxieties and frustrations of being in the environment of a high school is the main focus point of the show's earlier seasons. Buffy was about relating to an adolescent's nightmare then pumping it up into a full blown apocalypse. The invisible girl that turns invisible from a lack of attention then goes on a revenge spree. The mother literally living through her child by stealing her body. Heck! Even the Vampires seem pretty hip, modern and downright necessary in this context. After all, what better dark fantasy would there be for a teenager than being able to live forever, happy to live as recklessly as you like while looking exactly the way you do right now?

    I'd say this kind of mentality rumbles on right up until
    Buffy's Mum dies unexpectedly
    . After that, the show is more about Buffy having to find her feet and support not only her life as a Slayer, but as the new head of the household. This still has it's very enjoyable moments though the sheer number of bonkers stuff takes it's toll on Buffy as a character.

    But even then, they're around to impact the character. They practically beat her into accepting the new responsibility of her life. At that point, she'd been granted a sister (long story), thrust into a position where she has to finance everything and save the world from yet another 'End of Days' situation. The point is a raising of the stakes in whats going on as well as keeping the series moving forwards. At this point, the characters have left school and have to figure things out on their own. That's why we shift to college, work and adult things. Makes sense, raises tension as things are more exposed now. Plus, we get more situations to pull story ideas from.

    One of the ones that stick in my mind being Buffy's first job: a burger joint. A bland, weird place full of nearly braindead luddites that shamble almost mindlessly through their day. All over seen by some creepy guy that takes his job far, far to seriously. The parallels of that episode to my real life stint working in a McDonald's was the most haunting thing in the entire show.

    Hang in there Buff! I know the pain of serving impatient, infuriating idiots in an
    environment of total boredom so thick that you can tangibly feel time solidify to the consistency
    of spray-on cheese. Just hang on for at least a season!

    Y'see, it's this central idea that I really clung to in Buffy: making the mundane horrible. A decent and well worked angle was to contrast the monster of the week against the drama the characters were currently going through. This is something later seasons did more than earlier ones as the character's lives grew more complex. One episode I'm sure anyone that enjoyed the show will remember is 'Once More, With Feeling'.

    Yes, you do remember it. It's the musical episode. There we go! See?

    At that point, Buffy had recently been resurrected and dragged out of Heaven forcibly after barely managing to pull together a good enough plan to stop Glorificus last season. Xander and Anya are together, planning to be married. Willow is getting staggeringly good with her magical studies, angering Jiles with her flippant attitude to simply playing with the universe's laws to suit her. After all, she resurrected Buffy. That's not easy...

    That's a lot of baggage to carry around. Let's also throw on that Buffy is being annoyed by 'The Trio' and struggling to make ends meet with her crappy fast-food job. Jiles is planning to leave Buffy because he's worried she's clinging to him rather than confronting problems on her own. Spike is going nuts, falling in love with Buffy. Oh! And Dawn is there, being a bit of a brat. So, there's a lot of pent up emotion all over the place. Occasionally we get episodes that make things fun to break things up. The melodrama can get a little much. Bring on the Comic Relief.

    'Once More, With Feeling' grants an outlet valve for the dilemmas being experienced by the characters of the show by forcing them to sing their thoughts. They're little worries are all left out in the open, each telling the story to not only work them towards a solution but also present it in a manner that keeps it interesting. Giles sings about how he's realised he's practically Buffy's father, pushing him towards doing the best for her. Though what that is isn't clear. Xander and Anya sing about their relationship. Buffy sings about being completely clueless about her direction. Even Spike get's a kinda-sorta punk/goth rock heartache thing to sing. It then ends with a swish and smooth dancing demon.

    "Somebody STAHP ME! Uh, just a turn'a phrase I heard in a movie I saw last week.
    You don't wanna kill the best part of the episode, do ya?"

    But the songs serve a purpose of clarifying the feelings of the characters for the audience so that the currently pivotal actions of the characters makes sense. After all, why sing in a musical? To express emotions in a thuddingly obvious but involving manner. Seeing as we're on the Hellmouth where all manner of horrors can come true, it's perfectly reasonable (if bonkers) that such a thing would happen. After this, Giles goes to England, removing Buffy (and the whole group of young adults) of sage wisdom that he's provided since day one. His reasoning is to allow Buffy to learn how to handle herself by herself.

    Which is admirable. It kinda works out...

    Oh! And Cordelia ought to get a mention here. She's a walking valley-girl popular girl cliche that actually get's bent into some interesting situations. She's in a horror plot so, of course, she's usually antagonising to everyone around her, often getting herself into trouble. Though! She does have a few good episodes surrounding her, notably an episode that get's a follow up where Buffy never came to Sunnydale. For me, she was used as a different form of comic relief that Xander couldn't give. She only sticks around for the first few seasons as fodder before vanishing off with Angel to enjoy life in a spin-off. I don't hate her character, certainly, though I'm not too fussed about her vanishing to L.A. either.

    Exhibit A for why Cordelia doesn't annoy me.
    She has a good line every so often.

    Though, speaking of annoying characters...

    If there's an issue I have with Buffy as a whole is that there are a few dud characters we are apparently expected to care for way more than we actually do. Talking about the 'Core' characters a lot is fine and dandy because they work. They play off of each other pleasingly, having little histories and trust that gets built up, broken in two then rebuilt because they have to. However, there's a few characters that turn up, don't entirely gel, then are dropped a little way down the road.

    Apologies to Seth Green, who I ordinarily like, but Oz is kinda boring. For those that don't know, Oz is a guitarist in a band that Oz considers kinda dumb, but he seems to enjoy playing so whatever. He's a high grading super genius type that's still in school for some reason. I don't remember why and couldn't care less. The issue is that his character and conflict doesn't quite work on screen, for me. The idea is that he's an unflappable type that tends to keep his emotions below the surface, usually coming off as calmly collected in danger. But, he's got a dark side where he's a werewolf. Y'see what the idea was? Calm, unflappable guy is forced to become an untamed beast regularly. Can his resolute control win out over the monster within?

    Couldn't careless. There's something in either Whedon's writing or Green's performance that seems to make Oz blend into the background. My first thought is that it's because he's trying to be included in the 'Scooby Gang', made up of the much more colourful 'Core' cast. Compared to them, he doesn't say much, does a bit to help his girlfriend Willow but ultimately leaves little impact.

    I think this is the most intense emotion he pulls for most of his screen time.

    I would level some of the same complaints at Tara, Willow's next big love of her life. At least initially, she seems to be a bit of a hanger on, it's just that she does try to be enjoyable. Her relationship with Willow was more entertaining as it was always attempting to actually impact Willow's story. No! It's not because they were lesbians! It's because they would fight, they would have fun, they would kiss and make-up, they would play, they seemed natural with each other. They were comfortable, which was a thousand times more interesting to watch than the human brickwall that Oz turned out to be. There were stakes building in Willow's story. She's involved in the addiction to power Willow builds over the course of Season Six, even so far as to put a spell on Tara herself to make her forget a fight. That becomes a nasty break up too, pushing Willow into a position of highly strung tension for the rest of the series.

    Why do you look so pleased to hear that? Top it with the horse teeth grin, Sarah!

    See? She has impact on stuff! The same could be said for Anya too though I liked her for more than her function in the story. She was quirky in a way that made sense. A demon getting used to being a human? That's interesting. Even so, I like Tara far more than Bland Flakes The Werewolf.

    Being grossly out of touch with the world made her charming, in my eyes.
    Actually impacting Xander's story like Tara did for Willow, made her indispensable.

    The thing I can't forget to talk about is the monsters. Oh, blimey! The monsters are so fun.

    So, the defining element I would level at the majority of the baddies in Buffy is that they tend to have some humanising elements. The tongue is never far from the cheek whenever the story rumbles by. Random mooks do have the capacity to emote or at least say something other than flat, boring fighting talk. A little comment here and there characterises these guys more than not at all. It's a little reminder that there are thinking beings that are being turned to dust on a regular basis.

    With big bad villains, it adds to their character in interesting ways. The Master's sense of humour grants him a confidence that both plays up an element of camp as well as a bit of menace in how trivial he finds most of his supposed adversaries. He couldn't give a monkeys about 'The Slayer', finding her frankly kinda pathetic. He also takes the mick out of his henchmen, much like anyone would if they were acting like idiots. For the first, big bad, he's kinda fun.

    Glory also comes to mind as pretty notable. I mean, how would you write a chaos deity stuck in human form but retains an incredible amount of power and strength? Probably some rampaging thug that loves to kill indiscriminately, right? I doubt you would have gone with full-on diva that demands that everything is served to them on a plate or she'll stomp you into the ground. The result is fun though. Glory's fashion-focused, dismissive approach to the Scooby Gang actually get's demonstrated as she beats up Buffy without much

    Yes, your supposed to find her a little intimidating. Sometimes.

    In fact, I'd even suggest she's like a proto-Loki from The Avengers. The link being that she could just smite Buffy but, she's a goddess. She just wants to be pampered and not have to exert her energies because of that one fact. She feels entitled to everything because of her power. It's an emotional rather than logical reasoning going on here, much like how Loki prefered to taunt the heroes more often than not. Glory believes she shouldn't have to do anything, growing more annoyed as things don't go her way. A simple idea, with a little more going on underneath. Good!

    The most human of the main villains, I would say, is The Trio. Oh blimey...It's interesting that they get an entire season to stamp their names on Sunnydale yet they wouldn't even come close to being the most dangerous thing all season.

    The Trio are made up of two character's we'd met all ready in previous episodes and a guy that's related to another guy we knew beforehand. I liked that idea, showing that not only were more people finding out that magic is totally a thing, but some would naturally try to abuse it. Anyone could be a villain. Scary in it's own way.

    Though you're supposed to laugh at these doofuses a lot.
    The geek jokes get applied thicker than Big Bang Theory.

    Andrew is the new boy and he's a dork. It's possible they're hinting at either repressed homosexuality or femininity in the character, as he often appears to come out with a few odd lines here and there about certain guys being pretty. He's demeanor often comes off emasculated even outside of school. Though, he's a demon summoner. Not sure why he chose that in particular if it seems like he'd have trouble asserting dominance over whelks with crippling shyness but there we go.

    Jonathan was saved multiple times by Buffy, even from shooting himself. His last big entrance was a spell that inserted him into the show as the most amazing person in the world. He craved the attention of being loved and adored for being amazing because he too is a dork. He's a mage as well, if you haven't guessed.

    Warren is a walking sack of *squee!*. Spoilers! But yeah, he's the actual villain here. The others are idiots that are childishly trying to claw together some semblance of power for themselves while Warren is genuinely a psychopath. Misogynistic to the point of making a literal toy woman with his skills in robotics, Warren ends up showing how dangerous normal people can be with the powers and such of this world. Playing at being super villains but ultimately managing nothing but being squashed by a rampaging witch.

    Yeah, Season Six is a mix of awesome and misery throughout, if you can't tell...

    There's one guy I haven't talked about yet and that's Spike. Spike's metamorphosis from Slayer Killer, to neutered monster to outsider ally to the Scooby Gang to Buffy's stalker to 'I have a soul now' is something you will either find annoying or utterly fantastic. Because this is Twilight before there was Twilight. And not written by an idiot. Spike's 'Draco in Leather pants' archetype gets room to not only breathe but get a little psychoanalysis too, making him not only the most long lived big bad but also the one that has the most impact. His evolution over time, without wishing to spoil anything, can feel like it started out of nowhere because it does feel like it comes out of nowhere.

    You'll be surprised how much they dissect this brawling thug​

    Buuut, unlike Edward Cullen or Draco Malfoy, Spike is fun to have around. A bad boy thug that lives mainly for the excitement of the fight. Debauched, disgusting and cruel, Spike has more to him that get's revealed over time. We even get to see why he became a vampire in the first place, seeing his fixation on the Slayer, even making a hobby of killing them. It's still rather more revealing than someone might expect on this guy. Some won't like it and others might find it interesting. I'm somewhat in both camps. I like Spike but it's jarring to see what he was before Drusilla got to him. Seriously jarring. Sure, there's hundreds of years between the 'present' and the flashback but bloody hell! It's like a totally different guy. That's the point but...still.

    Buffy is also dated as all bloody hell! I've heard characters use the term 'Wiggin'' and the Internet is introduced as some mystical future device. That's an inescapable element of the show which was set in the then present of the late 1990's. That alone makes some episodes feel a little silly, especially one where a demon is accidentally scanned into the Internet then ensnares people through dating chat rooms. It's a still relevant message behind the story though the show as a whole feels almost like a period piece because of how much the world has left it behind. The same goes for the special effects that mostly relies on practical effects but the few computer generated ones looked amazing when I was a kid. Now they're a little ropey. It's something which doesn't go away, especially with the numbers of vampires we have to see get dusted. Still, it does mean that the horror elements are never compromised by the prevalence of mobile phones!

    A period piece where the demon in the Internet has his ensnared lovers build him a robot body.

    You thought I was joking? Nope! This isn't concept art from a cancelled Doom game,
    this is actually in the show.

    Yeah, Buffy is campy in places. I still really recommend it. If you can jive on the see-sawing back and forth between daft and dramatic that the show keeps swaying back and forth on, you'll find a fun show with a decent brain in it's head. The characters are fun, with a camaraderie that makes the characters you watch more enjoyable as you go along. It's far from perfect. It's dated. It's daft in some places. Some conflicts feel overwrought.

    But I watched it all to the end. I'd even consider watching it all over again. I think it's that enjoyable. Not many other shows seem to want to be this gleeful or attempt to be this exciting in their execution. I responded to that more than anything else when I was a kid and I was right to. I'm sure it's shaped my preferences in writing and such but I think for the better.

    Now, Buffy lasted 7 seasons. However! Did you know that Season 8, 9 and 10 were made into comics? I didn't until I started writing this. Welp! I know what I need to go track down. You lot go check your Netflix queue and we'll reconvene once you've caught up and I've found these comics.

    Deal? Deal.
  10. [​IMG]
    Deck Doctor #3
    Simplicity and Sombra

    So, something amazing happened at the Pre-Release event in Croydon, UK that I attended: I actually came in the top 3. Seriously, that almost never happens for me! It was a simple, straightforward 'Limited' format where I was able to cobble together a rather steady blue/yellow aggro deck that could just storm ahead with a nice mix of competitive, swift and critter support. It was kinda relentless, playing to what I like to do usually: attempt to purely outrun my opponent.

    So, I'm a little more hip to the wise or however that expression is supposed to go in regards to these new cards. My favourite being a blue requirement event that causes all character's in play to gain Swift for a turn. That's bloody amazing as far as I'm concerned! That went into my blue/purple faceoff deck so fast, it was almost shameful. Maybe I'll show you that some time.

    Anyway, the up shot of getting 2nd place, was that I got an 'Angel Pack' or whatever they're called, which is mainly only made up of foil and rare cards. Lo-and-behold, I got me a shiny little 'Rarity, Truely Outragious', all of my own!

    EEEEEEEE! It's so beautiful!

    Awesome! The reason I spent so long trying to come up with ways of building decks strong or surprising enough to stand up to this thing and I finally have one! I did throw it in a deck but, see if you can guess where it went, ay?

    But for today! You ready to get your stethoscope on?


    Case #1 - <Unnamed> (Harmony) - Jonquil - Submitted to UK of Equestria's MLP:CCG Thread

    OK, OK! It's another bloody Crystal deck. I talked the hind-legs off of several donkeys the last time we looked at this thing but to kick things off as a sort of work in and nod back to all that stuff I said about Crystal decks and their mechanics.

    But, you know what Jonquil does that I've rarely ever seen anyone do? Cut out a couple of colours.

    Why don't we think of doing this? Because it makes a decent amount of sense. Go back to Deck Doctor #2 and you'll see that trying to get the bloody thing off the ground is infuriating, normally. Your trying to balance a lot of stuff as you make sure that your drawing entry, building up a decent pile of action tokens, laying down new coloured crystal to get the most out of the Prismatic keyword and hoping beyond hope that you're not against a dismiss deck. This is on top of winning points to stay in the game, keeping your opponent slowed down enough to keep up and trying to avoid having an aneurysm in the process.

    Geddit? Though, it needs more shiny rocks to work properly.

    Jonquil hit's on a very simple solution: cut down the deck. Focus what you have down to being reliable. And she has a point I think. The colours she's gone for are blue, orange, pink and yellow, with the orange Spike mane to compliment it.

    And yes, I do mean compliment it. Here, orange is the heavy hitter. The character front and center is that 'Applejack, Crystalised', which gains +2 power for every colour it possesses. Pretty sweet, though, it can only get up to around +8 power with only three reliable colours to play with. Then again, how often do you need a character higher than 9 power? Maybe to one shot some of the nastier problems but 9 times out of 10, you can just walk it with an Applejack that can buck you into next week. Or two!

    The other orange on display is here for defence. 'Applejack, Breezified' and Spike are both here for the express purpose of protecting the gigantic targets that plenty of the cards in this deck become as they lollop to 15 points. Honestly, I consider it a smart move, because knocking out one of the key crystal cards on the field is an expensive blow for any deck, let alone this one.

    The rest? Fluttershy digs for friends to play, which is pretty powerful in it's down right. Rainbow Dash gives everything else a kick up the flank to get moving. Pinkie helps fix face-offs in your favour. The new face here is Bright Smile, which is frankly essential for almost any crystal deck.

    Have you played Pokemon much? OK, remember when you use Sunny Day and then Solarbeam immediately because Sunny Day charges it up that much more quickly? Bright Smile is like that for this deck. It charges the other crystal prismatic cards with colours from your opponent's characters. That's important as you can now attempt to fish for the other colours you might not have. Seeing as white and purple crystal cards are missing from the deck, Jonquil can now slam back extra hard when she faces a deck with either of those colours.

    Pictured: A Crystal Deck being Dangerous. Not Pictured: Hell frozen over.

    Of the room she made by taking out Purple and White cards, it's mainly made up of handy tricks. 'Critter Cavalry' is still invaluable to have around. If only for the moment of "Ha-ha! You've activated my '*squee!* You, I get the points' card". 'Let's Get This Party' started is just card draw. 'Fingersnap' helps with both 'The Crystal Heart' and Spike, as I understand it. They're both vital components that have to be set up quickly to be of any use, so Fingersnap makes them both more immediately set up, ready to either save a card or grant it extra colours. Again, 'The Crystal Heart' can either help out in a colour shortage or boost a prismatic character. 'Hard Hat' is to allow 'Rainbow Dash, Crystallized' to still lend power when it uses it's ability.

    The fixer resources are here too and, in all the times I've played this deck, they've been handy. Resource dismissal, card draw and a cheepish frighten aren't bad if they also lend colour when needed.

    Prescription - We talked about this! The Crystal Entry cards suuuuuck!

    Three cost for only two power is not worth the price in this game! Laying down more crystal is lovely but staying competitive is so much more worth it. Granted, you lower the effectiveness of 'The Crystal Heart' but the ceiling of use for that card is kinda low. It's nice early game, which is generally where Crystal decks need that shot in the arm, but cheaper entry cards would do so much more.

    Which entry is...tricky. There's two schools of thought that have their merits.

    One side says to go for cheaper cards, which is what I'd recommend but take that for what you will. Cheaper friends tend to be more cost efficient but are still only one or two power at most. Most have nifty little abilities like helping with troublemaker face-offs or moving by exhausting itself. However, getting enough colour for a crystalised prismatic character is trickier as you now need to balance power verses cost. Cheaper friends tend to be less powerful, so you need more to meet requirements. More powerful friends tend to cost more.

    The other school of thought is to go "Screw it! I'm going to have fat stacks of colour to work from!". In Equestrian Odyssey, we were granted the 'Cutie Mark Consultant' cards. These are cards of each colour that are four cost for four power. Just straight up power in any colour you want. I've played against a deck that uses these instead, solving their problems but also rather stunting their early game as they sit around, waiting for action tokens. I'd say it's riskier. It does mean you have this big stodge of power to haul around though.

    It's up for consideration. Otherwise, a nice, simple, straight-forward deck. Nothing too fancy or nuts!

    There are two types of players. Which are you?


    Case #2 - Rambo Dash (Harmony) - Lovelyloribeth - Submitted to MLP:CCG Subreddit

    I tend to think I'm a hefty user of blue cards myself. They're simply the best at turbo-charging a deck to help it slam into an opponent. Swift is such a useful keyword, in my opinion, as it saves action tokens for something flashier. While blue can't dismiss or banish, it can frighten which attacks your opponent's action token supply by holding a card hostage. That's pretty cool.

    But Villain Farming is rather a new for blue cards. Thanks to Competitive, it can push back against powerful foes while still keeping costs relatively low. You might have to work harder to solve a problem, but you become a monster in a face off. Something you can work to your advantage if needs be.

    For those not in the know, Villain Farming is a rather odd and indirect way of playing the game. Rather than solving problems, you rocket up the scoreboard by beating up Villain Troublemakers. This strategy can be powerful in the right hands.

    Yeah...I think I can take that with a bunch of ponies.

    Firstly, to make the strategy work, you have to throw in lots of Villains. These naturally have strong power, making your flip average increase as a consequence. As such, you can take the monsters your throwing around that much easier. Next, the Villain keyword does more than mean it's going to sit on a problem like a dragon with a hoard. It's going to frighten all cards at it's newly found purch then sit there, ready to take on all comers. If you can plan around it, you can trump other normal troublemakers or take a hatchet to your opponent's plans in one fell swoop. Lastly, you need the power behind you to actually pack enough of a punch to defeat the Villain and nab the points. A trickier task than the others.

    Usually, this job was done by orange manes and for good reason. Maud and 'Applejack, Ambassador of Honesty' are able to climb to powerful heights just on their own and smack Villain's left, right and centre without any worry over being frightened in the aftermath of a villain drop. Maud required a hole hokey-pokey of card play and careful discarding to raise her up to the mighty heights of power she could achieve. While faster, she is more precarious as any card effect that causes the discard pile to be emptied kills her power outright. Applejack, on the other hand, is slower but snowballs into greater and greater power that she can spread around wherever it's needed. There's a reason they're usually used for the job over most other characters.

    Don't talk to me about the Fluttershy mane that neutralizes troublemaker abilities. She's more troublemaker management than full on villain farming. Doable, yes but not as efficiently.

    What does 'Rainbow Dash, Ambassador of Loyalty' have? Um...Raw speed, really.

    Competitive only activates during a face-off and this mane flips in face-offs. Face-offs are what it loves to do. So, the question should always be on getting it in one as often as possible. After all, an extra two power in a face-off is nothing to be sniffed at. The ability to move by exhausting the card seems arse-backwards but it does fall into the flow of laying down a Villain, moving to be there behind it then carrying on with the rest of the turn, ready for the Villain to flip. Being up and ready to go is the single, biggest advantage Rainbow Dash has over the behemoths of orange that dominate this strategy.

    Aye aye, sir! Exhausting Rainbow Dash!

    Next; friends! Ordinarily, an orange deck would likely throw in some Diligent cards to get more than just points from a successful villain takedown. Sometimes, there's 'Vittles Stand' to get some power moving around or cards that cause extra cards to flip. Purple has gained a few reasons to play troublemakers, even gaining the ability to summon them immediately with some cards. Yellow, as previously stated, seems to have become Troublemaker management while White just seems to want to get rid of them immediately if they're in the way. Pink has 'Bell Tower', which is hilariously powerful at the right moment as it immediately uncovers a troublemaker.

    But we're going for all out blue, I assume. The merits of which are that they're either extra powerful or fast when dealing with a troublemaker. 'Prince Rutherford' appears to be the only card interested in the opponent as it slaps an opponent card with a frighten when it lands after play. Everything else is about moving or face-off power to the max. 'Spitfire' even brings in reinforcements with the brand new token mechanic. So, it's pretty focused on killing stuff.

    The events are a smattering of movement to do with either a troublemaker or while trying to pound a troublemaker into the ground with some cards to gain extra card flips. Most of which only work because of Rainbow Dash herself. Fair enough. Again, this deck is focused on being a ballistic missile that's looking for every chance it can to kill villains quickly. It's so blunt force in its approach, it's actually kinda fun.

    Oh! And 'Trashed' to make sure that your resources can't cause any issues and 'Singing Barrel' for literally no reason at all.

    My reaction to Singing Barrel being in a Mono-Colour deck​

    The actual Villains chosen are pretty much your biggest choice as, well, they need to be both a problem for your opponent but just enough of a non-issue for you to be able to handle them. Ahuizotl and Queen Crysalis work perfectly nicely as they actively attempt to make the simple act of confronting them that much harder. Lord Tirek does the same by dismissing the weakest card among those facing him then gaining an extra point of power. The less you have fighting your troublemakers, the better!

    For, in my opinion, blue's main method of board control is troublemakers. They don't have much else that could manage to move or disrupt another player's plans other than frightening. At least, reliably. So, your troublemakers are important in blue especially. A Harmony deck can take advantage of plenty of troublemaker based events to give them plenty of abilities.

    Trixie is an interesting choice. The ability to drop it, frighten and then neutralize abilities does help, even if it works both ways.

    Prescription - Learn to Throw Curve Balls

    What the heck is 'Singing Barrel' doing in a deck like this? Get rid of it!

    Back to the main criticism; your deck is so rock simple, any decent player is going to see what your doing and be easily able to counter it. The point of this deck is to go 'Ramming Speed, Ms Dash!' and slam into every villain going, I'm going to guess. But I could think of a thousand different ways you could be stopped. Without much reliable frighten, your down to using your troublemakers at maximum effectiveness. This means you don't have to splash in some extra colour if you don't want to.

    "No! Ramming Speed is too slow. Let's go to Ludicrous Speed!"

    I think it's mildly underrated but why not go for an 'Applejack, Liar' set in here? Why? It allows you to bluff your villain placement. Think about it! Your main advantage over a normal villain farmer deck is speed. If you can misdirect your opponent into lining up in just the wrong position, then you can either nab the points first or lead them straight into a trap. Plus, we can't rule out the psychological aspect of dropping two troublemakers in one turn. Heck! If the opponent knows it's a villain farming deck, they'll be extra cautious, but you'll be in the know.

    What else? Well, how about some new problems? I know why you have 'Singing Barrel'. It's to deal with the problems that have non-colour requirements right? Yeesh! No, no, no! You have a thousand and one far better options! 'Ready to Fight' grants plus two power in face-offs. Just two power for nothing! And it's uncommon! You know what else would work? 'Under Lock and Tree' as that just gives your mane character plus one power for whatever! 'Blending In', 'Locked Out', or definitely 'Cult of Personality'! All of those are easy to find and easy to overcome.

    As for friends...Well, have you considered cards like 'Scootaloo, Fan Club Founder'? You see, it's a card that follows the Mane Character around wherever they go by exhausting it. Considering that this Rainbow Dash flies around in the same fashion, it would still be useful to get a three power card in the face off your about to enter, thanks to the aptly nicknamed 'Stalker-loo' here!


    If you can, look for 'Scootaloo, Flying High', who can butt into Face-offs as much as she likes though, she gets retired in the scuffle. It's valuable if you need that extra three power kick. It's super rare though.

    Another good idea? How about a blue Diligent card with Hasty? Oh yes! 'Filthy Rich, Cold Hard Cash' can swamp in and fight with the power of money! A few good rounds with any villain nets you a powerhouse you can roam around, letting you compete with anyone competently.

    Though, this assumes you want to stick with the Mono-Colour idea. I'm sure you can find plenty on how to play with another colours. Like I said, Orange has power and extra flips, Yellow has Troublemaker handling, Purple has handy little events everywhere and Pink has 'Bell Tower' if nothing else.

    Though, I do like the idea of this deck. Being a huge villain battering ram is not a bad idea. Certainly pretty formidable.

    "This isn't even my final form!"


    Case #3 - Ambassador of Friendship (Harmony) - Hodelino - Submitted to MLP:CCG Subreddit

    Welcome to Solid City, population: this deck.

    Yeah! This is just decent. Like, seriously decent. It's just powerful enough to play with but not stellar. It's a good, grounded base where it can generate action tokens decently while still remaining competitive. On one hand, Pink is around to lend colour so that various dismissal cards can be played.

    Something coming along that wants to kick you in the teeth? Bye bye! Though, most of these cards are only usable in Face-offs. Showdown cards get around the issue but it's an extra card you have to rely on, so Sod's Law dictates that it rarely will.

    Eh...Might just be pessimism.
    "You're not allowed to play that because no."​

    On the other hand, Purple is gaining Action Tokens and power for more face-offs. It's throwing cards around, stacking it's own deck, looking for all the events it can; there's some very powerful cards on display working towards some useful synergies. Having high numbers of events allows for 'Trixie, The Great and Powerful Showoff' to explode in power at the right moment. 'Twilight Sparkle, Ursa Vanquisher' just delays opponent characters, making it instantly invaluable while 'Moondancer, Page Turner' puffs itself up on the cards being picked up and then put back on the top of the deck by almost everything else.

    Oh! And, with 'Ancient Research' as your first problem, that's a turn two flip for Twilight. Neat!

    Lastly, 'Diamond Tiara, Breaking News' causes little Action Token bonuses in the event of a dismissal. 'Lemon Hearts' gains power while card drawing if you get an Event. Not a terrible thing I guess, though being Immediate is powerful enough to be interesting as you can fish for Events even on your opponent's turn.

    Yeah! It's pretty solid...Buuut!

    Prescription - Maybe a few Tweeks

    'Cutie Pox Scare'. The ability to drop an Event as soon as your opponent is about to score points you can just tell them 'No! You have to make up the work all over again!' like a fussy mother tipping a bucket of mud on a kitchen counter, just for the spite of it. A perfect card for this deck.

    You have no idea how irritating this card can be till you have it played
    three times.

    Another fun one would be 'Private Journal'. Attack their hand! Not only see their entire hand but also place something distressing out of reach by placing it on their deck. Or forcing them to flip it, thus sending it right out of their reach. Depends on the timing.

    If you're not feeling like being a complete git, 'Missed Teleport' is...OK, it's still a gitish move but it's useful. Sending incoming characters wherever you'd prefer you'd want them to be is pretty powerful.

    Next, you might want to consider how to deal with Resources because some decks will be using them but you have nothing to counter with. The more common approach is 'Special Beam Cannon' which banishes the resource, discounting it from the game entirely. Or, 'Rest in Pieces' if you get luckier with your cards. This miserable looking card can wipe out all resources your opponent has, cripping anything they were planning with them.

    "Those are nice resources. Such a shame if something were to - BAM!"

    Lastly, 'Ponyville Emergency' to send stuff home or 'Scope Things Out' just to put more things on the top of your deck for Moondancer's benefit? There's loads that you could utilise.

    The most devastating thing I can think of for a deck such as this is the rare Resource 'Utterly Drained'. This dementedly cruel card neutralizes Boosted Mane Character effects. Some decks rely on their Mane heavily so stunting that is a devastating blow. Other Manes can be weaker or less useful on their Boosted side, like Discord or the Orange Spike that saves things from being dismissed. With this they are now stuck the the side where they can't do anything useful.

    This deck doesn't desperately need a Troublemaker but some might be of use. Certainly, there's plenty of unpleasant cards to utilise. You can rarely go wrong with a 'Spike, Excessive'. It's seven power and extorts two Action Tokens out of the opponent to go away once flipped. Plus, no ventured points on offer either! 'Rover, Gem Hunter' might allow you to pick up any Events that get flipped during a Face-off. Plus, no points either! 'Starlight Glimmer, Exposed Inequality' could get you an extra push to your problems. 'Arimaspi' has his advantages too. Once he's down, you can be assured that no more Troublemakers will bother you at it's problem until the card is defeated.

    Riskier cards are 'Chimera', which negates the power of all cards of a single colour for an Action Token. Potentially powerful. Another is 'Biff', who can also turn over a Mane Character to it's start side for two Action Tokens as well as prevent a Mane Character from lending power to fighting it. Heck! You have plenty of Events so, how about a 'Wild Manticore'? They can flip an additional card when involved in a face-off, taking much better advantage of that hefty flip average you have.

    I do like Troublemakers. It makes me feel like this.

    But, only if you like to live dangerously, of course. They're all holding some pretty hefty point bonuses as a cost for their powerful abilities.

    One last thing: why are you running 'Which Pinkie is Which'? Only 'Twilight, Ursa Vanquisher' can activate its ability. I'd be cautious of it just because you'd be running the gambit of getting both of these cards in play but it's also awkward to solve. There's plenty you ought to have instead. 'Spell Showdown' is pre-packaged Event digging and perfect for your deck. You also have plenty of Unicorns, making 'Dark Magic Surge' decently useful as having the most Unicorns there gets a one Action Token reduction on Event costs. Pretty sweet, I think.
    Let's finish up with a deck I was asked about. Oh yes! It's time for a deck I built! Mu-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-haaaaa!

    Doctor's Deck - Sombra the Soul Engine

    Mane - Pinkie Pie, Ambassador of Laughter
    Colours - Pink, Orange and White
    Strengths - Able to gain abilities and advantages by retiring extraneous friends, able to steal friends then feed them to the various cards of the deck that consume them to get their abilities running, Pinkie Pie reduces the cost of some cards by one Action Token, King Sombra Friend, lots of dismissal potential during face-offs, mild Eccentric play.
    Weaknesses - Can be hard countered with movement abilities and the Yellow Derpy Mane, King Sombra's ability is mandatory so whittling down your playable characters is inevitable, reduced card costs only when Pinkie is flipped and only where Pinkie is.

    Strategy Summary
    Ride on the wild edge by attempting to make use of as many disposable friends as possible in order to rocket the deck's potential power skyward. Nothing is sacred and everything may be burned with the star of the show: King Sombra, which will devour cards in order to grow in power over time.

    This deck is rather silly. Oh! It's fun but it's still kinda silly. And yet, I'm surprised at how well it can work when it get's half a chance.

    The key element of the deck is flipping Pinkie Pie. Once you have that sorted, you then move Pinkie to not only cause some eccentricity but also rake in as many savings on Action Tokens as possible. She must have a little coupon book that she's using to reduce the Action Point cost of the first friend played per turn, to a minimum of one. In other decks, we'd be using this to swamp problems but not today.

    Nope! Everything is now kindling for the fire.

    Weeeeee! Throw another pony on the fire! I wanna go faster!

    'Breyburn, Two Left Hooves' is insane cost effectiveness, especially when played first on a turn when Pinkie is flipped. We can get that down to one action token for four power. Do we care about having to get rid of a card in play? No, not today! Much like how we're happy to throw a card away to power up 'Lilly, Panicked Pony' when she enters play. 'Snips and Snails, Joined at the Horn' is rather similar to Breyburn but the Hasty keyword does bump up it's cost. It's worth it for being able to plonk it whenever we like.

    Of course, we have 'King Sombra, Slave Driver'. A highly difficult card to build with but it's what the deck is pivoted around. Sombra devours a friend in play you control at the end of each turn, growing slowly stronger and stronger as the game progresses. While still four power just on it's lonesome, throwing it down early can grant that extra steamroller of power whenever it's needed.

    But you have to feed your despicable unicorn dictator and the fodder ought to pull it's weight as well. Cards like 'Dance Fever, Disco King' and 'Purple Waters, Prismatic Poet/Musician' are here to be cheap to play. 'Aloe, Magic Touch' is cheap and boosts the power of something else by two for a turn. The breezified Pinkie Pie and Rarity cards are practically free while still having handy little abilities.

    Seriously, Block Two have been slowly making older cards retroactively more useful than before. Now, we have cards that make great use of these free friend drops while still being just as disposable as we need them to be. Pinkie can provide some extra numbers to a problem while Rarity get's cashed in for an extra point when a Face-off is won.

    'Daisy, Mousy Mare' looks odd in amongst the Pink and White. She's here because she's reuseable. When retired, she's returned to the hand, not sent to the Discard pile. That means that she can be used as repeatable fodder for Sombra! 'Goldengrape, Popular Punster' is able to find friends in the deck that might be required at a moment's notice on the event of winning a Face-off. 'Pinkie Pie, PFF' does this too but when she enters play instead. That way, we can also keep on top of the demands of the deck for more cards to eat just to function properly. 'Featherweight, Editor in Chief' allows use to force a disadvantage on our opponent in a Face-off. Always handy as we haven't the best flip average in the world here.

    A deck about using cards like they're nothing? I swear I made this deck way before the finale of
    Season 5. Do I get an episode on the last deck I put up here where Twist inflates to ridiculous size
    to save the day?

    Speaking of key cards, the others are mainly here to take advantage of the opponent's deck. Because why should the opponent keep those cards to themselves when we've got a ravenous Sombra over here looking for an entrée? 'Sugar Bell, Takes the Cake' has this aspect covered as it takes hold of an opponent's card immediately once it lands in play, keeping hold of it until she leaves play. Perfect! 'Sonata Dusk, Siren's Call' can do the same but at the cost of herself being retired and banishing a card from hand. It's a small price to pay for being able to keep a card for a full turn. Plus, it's an Immediate effect. Oh, and 'Simple Mix' up, an event that gains control of a character until the end of the score phase. Not as much fun but still handy in the right place.

    Everything else is either offensive or picks up cards from the Discard pile for later use. 'Roseluck, Fainthearted Filly', is a necessary evil. Even with Pinkie Pie's coupon book of legendary savings shrinking her cost to three action tokens, making her cost effective, it's still a lot to pay when we're trying to throw down as many bodies as possible for the other cards to consume. But! Most of the actions of these other cards are classified as 'Retiring'. This means that Roseluck can just spin like a top every turn to fetch something new from the Discard pile, keeping the train going. 'Princess Cadence, Everlasting Love' is similar but it's only to replace whatever was retired from the Draw deck, not the Discard deck. Still useful.

    Huh...Who threw away the Pinkie Pie, PFF?

    'Bulk Biceps, Extra Strong Masseuse' is the intermediary here. When it enters, it dismisses something. When it leaves play, you fetch a card of your choice from the Discard pile. Perfect! Oh! And 'Tom, Rolling Rock' is just something to throw at a problem when it looks a little too well defended, dismissing something uncontestedly. It also adds a small booby trap to the deck. It's risky as the opponent might not have anything in play that's two power or less but we almost certainly will. The rest of the dismissal cards - 'Catch Me!' and 'Yoink!' - pick off more friends during Face-offs only. Mainly so that we can make sure some Face-offs tip in our favour while still thinning down the ranks of the opponent.

    Very lastly, 'Party of One' and 'Party Bomb' in case you need a panic button.

    Oh yes! We go full on war with this. Which in light of a certain episode seems like it's jumped right out of one of the alternate timelines, with Pinkie Pie as it's Captain of the deadly team.


    Everything is disposable in some way. Sure, some cards do hold some uses like Roseluck and Sugar Bell but most are one shot abilities. Once they're spent, you can do what needs be done with them afterwards. They're only power at that point. Only a few cards have longer abilities and there's plenty of ways of generating fodder if needs be to make sure they're not munched on.

    Sobra is the most powerful card in the deck, potentially. Throwing that down early then working to keep it happy and fed with spare cards means that you have a towering behemoth that rumbles through everything your opponent has to offer. If it becomes too powerful or it's advantageous for it not to be around, you have the means to dismiss the card while still making use of it. For example, Lilly could dismiss it, gain it's collected power for a turn then confront something for that turn.

    Then a 'Pinkie Pie, PFF' could bring out another Sombra for when you're ready for him.

    Another aspect of the deck being so disposable is that it's often hard to see where striking the deck's assembled friends would hurt it the most. Usually, these cards are often being disposed of left, right and center, so there's often not many cards that you couldn't do without. It's why they're being played usually.

    Reminds me of the Borg ships. Y'know, because they have redundant systems that
    means that there's no perfect spot to strike it. No little lights or cockpit or anything like
    a proper end of level boss.

    It's such a vicious deck in the right hands. It steals friends as well as dismisses them, often feeding them to other cards to propel itself forwards at the same pace. Even around Troublemakers. If you have something vitally interesting or powerful to play with, you ought to watch out around this thing. It might be gobbled up somewhere.

    Lastly, it's Problems are mainly unpleasant. They are largely dismissal so are all intended to force more dismissal of the opponent's more important cards while we could just throw something in the bin we're not using right now.


    King Sombra is a target so swollen and massive when at full power that it ought to have a neon sign saying 'YOINK ME!'. Other decks that have power gain as an advantage tend to have methods of avoiding dismissal, such as a Diligent deck and it's ability to distribute power across the cards evenly so that nothing is powerful enough to be a target. Sombra is just a walking monster that, while useful, can be taken out all too easily, so be careful.

    Even worse is the pace of play you have to keep up with when Sombra is out. His consumption of characters is every turn so you must be able to play something every turn if you want to keep Sombra growing in power or if you want a choice in what Sombra eats. If you want to keep Sugar Bell and her enthralled friend, you need to keep throwing the big, nasty beast a string of bones so that your not forced to get rid of either of them.

    There's no 'may' in that ability text. You have to do this per turn.

    "End of the turn? LUNCH TIME!"

    Furthermore, you don't have a great deal of power elsewhere. A couple of cards can cause Eccentric effects, slowing down an opponent and dismissal can cripple a deck if struck at just the right time. However, there's little else other than raw play efficiency to overcome Troublemakers or tricky lockout situations. The deck can fight as dirty as it likes but a decent Purple deck with specialisation in movement can mess up most of this decks plans. White is able to tax its actions while Yellow is able to strike right at those precious Action Tokens directly, stunting the deck and forcing it to stumble.

    Lastly, 'Bubbly Mare, Helping Hoof' is a Mane that restricts the opponent to playing one card of each type per turn. In a deck where friend play is vital, this is a bottleneck for the deck it could do without. A perfectly capable player can use this to choke Sombra to a standstill.

    Where to Go from Here?

    I'm toying with Token generation though I'm unsure if it's appropriate. Yes, generating extra fodder for Sombra and other cards is lovely but it's trying to find friends that will do it cheaply. Or at least, will do it constantly. 'Party Favor, Balloon Master' seems like a decent choice for this as it's entire point would be to be gobbled up then have something take it's place. If combined with an Aloe to double it's power, it could be highly lucrative.

    Other considerations are making use of 'The Old Switcheroo' as it plays into the idea of adding more fodder to the furnace. The ruling might be a little muddy on what happens if you dismiss the card you swapped for. Still, more cards for the card monster. That would work wonderfully with cards like 'Pinny Lane, Bowl 'em Over' which would not only dismiss something but generate Action Tokens too.

    Choo-choo! More coal for the Sombra train!

    I actually found this on Google Image search. What are the odds?!

    Now, some Hasty characters would be lovely, right? Boom! 'Pinkie Pie, Filli-Second'! Cards in hand now have Hasty until the end of the turn. It even has Hasty itself. They also gain that ability when the card is flipped in Face-offs because of it's Chaos effect. That's fantastic! It means you can strike even when it's not your turn. Lightning speed play! Might be necessary to keep ahead of Sombra's appetite.

    Oh! And if we wanted to be utterly unlikeable, 'DJ-Pon3, Loose Cannon' can dismiss everything at a problem if it's dismissed itself. That's kinda powerful if I feel like causing some extra havoc. If I wanted to push the vitriolic hate that bit further, I could add an extra card to steal characters with in the form of 'Hoops, Peer Pressurer' who gains more fodder or just something useful to attempt to confront a problem with. It also allows us another booby trap thanks to it's Chaos effect which steals a card for the duration of a Face-off. Tones of fun to be had.

    By the user of this deck only. Your opponents are going to be grinding their teeth in irritation. And in the end, isn't that what we all want?

    "It's a card game how am I meant to hack a -"


    There you go! Have some fun with this and I hope I helped out. Have fun guys and see you next time! Remember, you can contact me for any specific help as well as suggesting a new deck for me to pick apart on both Everypony.com or UK of E.

    I've also been thinking of moving into other games like Magic or Vice Shwartz but I haven't the expertise yet. Maybe you'd be interested in helping out? Even as another MLP:CCG Deck Doctor to write articles here would be marvelous. Talk to me if you'd be interested because, this isn't as much fun on my own...

    Spread this link if you enjoyed it! I'm done with the ending self-promotional thing.
  11. [​IMG]
    The Beginner's Guide


    This game isn't as good as the creator's previous work. That seems like the best place to start. Honestly, nothing could. The Stanley Parable is an unmatched satire of it's own medium that has elements that will continue to be relevant and funny long after it's memory fades. The Stanley Parable is funny, weird, endlessly quotable and fun. I love it. It's going to take a long to time before it's surpassed and longer still to get that song out of your head.

    You know what I mean! I bet it's playing in your head right now.

    How about now?

    The Beginner's Guide tries for something else, however. By Celestia, it tries! It wants to be sincere. It's not funny, it's wanting to be heartfelt. It strives to be insightful, touching even. It wants to be a tale of one developer enveloping you what made him love his craft by showing you what inspired him.

    Does it work? Eeeeeehhhh....

    Though, that is the extent of the story. Davey, one of the head guys behind The Stanley Parable, is using this game as an opportunity to show you - the player - a selection of games made by the enigmatic developer Coda. Coda started off messing around in the Valve built Source Engine but then slowly grew into a taste for making peculiar, idea driven games that are designed to evoke some emotional journey. Davey's magical mystery tour through all the games that Coda only ever let him play is narrated by Davey himself, allowing you to play through each game while Davey attempts to explain and contextualise everything.

    So, as a Game Development Student for many years and hopeful future developer, this is my kinda thing. Davey speaks my language and even though he's translating so that anyone can get the gist, I am eagerly ambling along, listening to my friendly and experienced tour guide chat about bits of this tiny, simple game. This is my idea of a museum! I can be hands on! I can see everything and experience it too but someone is still there, over my shoulder, pointing out parts that I missed.

    "I dunno Davey! Maybe we have to go deeper! *INCEPTION WHAOM! NOISE*"

    Davey would occasionally alter the code to show off other things or to allow access to stuff that the game wouldn't allow normally. The tour guide idea does give this added layer to every simple game, even offering a narrative where there might not be one otherwise.

    This part of the game was incredible to me! I was being steered around the games on display, learning as I played with a friendly, knowledgeable voice in my ear. It's like the developer commentary of Portal or Team Fortress 2.

    Yes! I'm one of the five people that enjoyed them!

    Please! Tell me why The Heavy is designed like that. Tell me all about the turrets or early versions of the Companion Cube puzzle. I want to know and it makes sense because it's similar to how Valve works. They play test to an endless degree, so they can just let a player wonder around with bubbles to help you understand how Wheatley was animated or the use of impossible spaces right when it's prevalent. I can't help it! I find it fascinating!

    It's the reason why I watch so many critic shows and write my own critical articles. I like poking around, seeing how things work. I get that extra layer of magic by knowing what's underneath.

    That would be great...If it was all The Beginner's Guide was attempting...

    Yep! It's time to get all artsy and stuff!

    Right! Spoiler Alert from here on out. Got it? Good.

    The Beginner's Guide is steeped in metaphor. To the point where I would struggle to believe that Coda is a real person. The games in the collection give me the sensation of having the veneer of being amateur created. The later games are too neatly picked in order to fall right into a pattern of depression. The theme if self imposed isolation that the collection dives into is far too clear cut to make me believe that this is anything but Davey's narrative through and through.

    Heck! A little reading at other critics seem to pan this out, suggesting anything from 'Coda and Davey represent a developer and the players that play the games' to 'Coda is actually Davey himself, before releasing The Stanley Parable'. I see some merit in both, honestly.

    As you play though the games, things change. The tones of experimentation in these abstract, curious little projects slowly sours. The turning point being a game featuring a lavishly furnished prison cell that Coda has spent many, many attempts to get right. This frustration appears to lead him towards making the game equivalent of comfort food where the game hands out praise for completing simple tasks. The next few games are angry, bitter cries of impotent rage as the imaginative drive of Coda slows to a complete halt. He's spiralling, trashing everything that he's made. He blames his mind for failing him. For sucking the fun and joy out of his work.

    Though, some games are seriously odd. This one is supposed to lock you in a prison
    cell for an hour before letting you out to continue on. Why? Because ART! Maybe...I really
    don't know...

    Distraught at Coda's recent games, Davey shows them to others against Coda's permission. While the response is very positive, Coda does create a game for Davey himself in order to respond.

    It's a gauntlet of deliberately frustrating mechanics, foreboding atmosphere and miserable bleakness, all in service of the gaming equivalent of a playable middle finger.

    But what does it mean? It's a metaphor right? What does it mean? Well...uuhhh...Uhhmmm...Honestly? I can't tell you outright.

    What your paying for in the end is a big ol' tangle of thoughts. Davey does plenty to communicate his part in everything, ultimately feeling distraught for forcing his friend and idol out of his comfort zone against his wishes. Heck! He actively says that he's stamping on the initial trust that Coda extended to him by creating The Beginner's Guide. Davey plays his part well in order to convey the tragedy of his position. He wants to help the person that's affected him so profoundly, even if they're not too keen on being helped. It's a gut punch that things did lead to decently, presenting a moment of utterly frantic thought Davey conveys on the nature of a fan.

    There you go! Have fun Brain!

    On the nature of being satisfactorily content just to create compared with satisfaction with a work coming from the praise of other. Both ultimately fall, leaving them both burnt by the fallout of Coda's creative fatigue.

    While I did enjoy the experience, I would level two major complaints at Davey's feet.

    One is that £10 is a lot to ask for a game that doesn't feel like I could get more than two playthroughs out of it before letting it rot in my Steam list. Sure, I could trot it out for others to enjoy but I can't say that it will tickle every person I know. Unlike The Stanley Parable, The Beginner's Guide is highly niche. It's an auteur project down to it's marrow. I would have to be very specific with the Tale of Davey and Coda because there are some people I know that probably couldn't be bothered with it.

    And that's because it's full message is a little muddy. Surface reading appears to be able to lead to thinking about the game. It does cling to your mind however it's heavy symbolism does lead all over the place with interpretation. On one hand, great! No interpretation is correct so you can argue over it. But that interpretive element is all there is. I could only ever recommend this to people that want a puzzle to chew over. For anyone looking for entertainment with a brain, I'd think of a bunch of other games first, then maybe The Beginner's Guide if they want something unusual or ponderous. Though, "not for everyone" isn't a criticism so much as a consideration.

    It's all about whether you like arguing over arty-farty stuff like this with others or not. Or at
    least can dig doing a surprisingly little amount of interaction but a lot of walking in
    mostly vacant voids.

    It's a niche game. Heavily so. Heck! I'd say it's more of a 'parable' than The Stanley Parable on the relationship between creator and fan. Thank Celestia I don't use a scoring system because I'd have to go with an "eeeeehhh out of ten". There's nothing that compares but then that's the appeal and turn off. It's an adventure that only you can decide to go on. I enjoyed it but then again, I'm weird. Throwing my brain a little tangle of metaphors is like Christmas to it so, I got some worth. But if your playing 'Super Awesome RPG/Shooter' of the moment, I can't exactly say if your missing out.

    It's a review of airy-fairy conclusions I'm afraid.

    That said: can we get more analysis games where you play a version of a game that's that's been altered to show a new side to it? Like a commentary where they show you new stuff as you play like a little tour. Heck! How about a game riff track where some group rips into the game as you play it? I'd love that! Would be great fun for a mod!

    MS3K mods for games. Is it too late to suggest that for their kickstarter?

    I would say that this is a screensaver from Windows 98 but it's actually a level from the game.
  12. [​IMG]
    Deck Doctor #2
    How to Make Your Opponent Miserable in Three Easy Decks

    So...I haven't done this in a while. So, let's change that shall we?

    We might be writing a proper summary of the new set - Equestrian Odyssey - at some point as well as High Magic after we've tinkered with it but I can put on a lab coat and pretend I'm a professional for a bit right now and help some people in need!

    Like Mario! Only with less drugs and more cards.

    So, as before, you can submit a deck - preferably using Ponyhead - and get it looked over by me and my team of experts. We'll write up a little article talking about it.

    Here we go!


    Case #1 - Crystals Shine Like Rainbows (Harmony) - jawsisra - Submitted to MLP:CCG Subreddit

    Right...A crystal deck. Right...

    Back in the Crystal Games set, there was a new character type released called 'Crystal'. Generally, Crystal cards are relatively expensive compared to other cards. The no-requirement cards in the set are not 'Cost-Effective' (which means that the amount we're paying for it isn't equal to or less than the power of the card, usually). The cards that have colour-requirements usually need or take advantage of how many other crystal pony cards you have in play. The prevailing wisdom is that you tend to need as many crystal cards as you can just so that you can reliably get a nice string of crystal cards to play with, boosting the abilities of all the other characters.

    Why bother with a crystal deck? The appeal is that you now have a swiss-army knife of awesome to inflict upon the game.

    "Yeah, I got some room left."

    Firstly, you're no-requirement crystal characters are able to synergise with each other. They gain abilities as long as their at a position on the field with at least one other crystal character. Some gain Studious or Swift, Stubborn and other keywords. Suddenly, these cards are able to pull out an extra trick, making them a little more worth their cost and far more multi-function.

    The characters with Prismatic are where crystal decks become somewhat hilarious to play with. At that point in the game, certain colours had gained some notoriety with certain abilities or play styles. Crystal cards with Prismatic cranks them to eleven.

    Now for those not in the know, Prismatic is a keyword that depends on how many colours you have amongst crystal friends. It grants the character that has the keyword all of those colours that spans between all crystal characters. So, it incentivises trying to play a variety of different colour crystal characters in order to boost these potentially devastating Prismatic cards which have abilities that are dependant on how many colours they currently have (including their printed colour, of course).

    Prismatic Fluttershy is able to dig through the deck for friends like she's looking for Australia in there. A Prismatic Twilight can pick and choose what it fights in a face-off. An Applejack with Prismatic can gain up to another 12 power just by being in the field with other crystal cards. The most vicious is 'Rarity, Crystallized' which can perform a potentially devastating form of 'Inspired' by editing up to six cards every time. A friend has once built a deck where he threw down three of the things and managed to edit up to 18 cards every turn.

    So, crystal decks are a synergy that grants hideously powerful abilities but demands crystal cards of multiple colours to get the greatest amount of use. That's a damn powerful tool but it can take a while to set up. While viable, it's a struggle to succeed against many aggro decks that know what they're doing. But, if you're in that position, you have a deck that can powerfully influence the game.

    "Don't worry! I'm going easy on you this time!"

    Why tell you all this Mr Jawsisra? Well, mainly to educate some new players as, frankly, this is a perfectly standard set up for a straight-up crystal deck. It's certainly powerful with the right cards but, honestly, there's little it's not doing differently from the typical template I'd imagine a deck like this would use.

    The mane ('Twilight Sparkle, Friendship is Magic') is a good choice as it can gain extra colours to help play more crystal cards by fulfilling its colour requirement. 'Twilight Sparkle, All-Team Organiser' also helps pay for new crystal cards, especially the rather costly no-requirement cards of the deck. You've even thrown in Shining Armour, Bright Smile, Mercury, Amethyst Maresbury, Crystal Guard, blah, blah, blah, which all add in more utilities as well as more crystal to play. It's the definition of straight-forward.

    It's not terrible. It's just not doing much other than the standard Crystal Deck strategy. Not much to talk about. This can be very powerful. It's biggest weakness outside of play speed would be anything that causes cards to leave the field. Some dismissal or a well-timed 'Party of One' would screw you over.

    Though...what wouldn't be screwed over by 'Party of One'?

    Banish everything except one card? Can I flip the table now or should I wait for it to actually be played first?

    If it can set itself up, the deck can be devastating but it relies heavily on being able to play just the right cards when you need them. Very often, you'll likely need to make do with only one or two colours for your Prismatic characters. But, it does allow for some room for creativity. Which, I consider a speciality!

    Prescription - You must construct additional colours

    Hmm...How about looking for more fixer cards to put into the deck to grant temporary boosts to all crystal cards with Prismatic? The issue with your deck is that you need to play cards to boost the Prismatic characters. They are your most powerful assets but playing those all important crystal friends is rather slow. Circumventing this when you need it seems like a top priority.

    Sure, it's only for a turn or even a phase depending on the card, but it's something you can attempt to use when your deck needs a good kick up the flank or a shot in the arm due to your draw deck's sudden desire to hoard it's best cards from you. Or your opponent is getting trigger happy with dismissal.

    I'd consider removing the extraneous cards, keeping just the entry requirement crystal cards and the Prismatic cards. That said, keep the Twilight friend because she is handy for helping with cost efficiency. In fact, you may wish to look at 'Truffle, Newsworthy' as well, because it's common and able to generate action tokens for you as well. The rest of the deck ought to be fixers, which are cards that can grant character's extra colours.

    I'd recommend Makeover like it's going out of style. Rainbowfied sounds handy for such a deck so I'd keep it. Then, I'd side more towards the various fixer resources that were introduced around the same time. They are able to plug holes in the colours you need for at least a turn, but they also offer extra utilities too, simply making your deck even more of a swiss-army knife of doom. Cards like 'Boneless' or 'Seabreezes' Flower' grant those precious colours as well as extra abilities. It's also because cards like 'Royal Guidance' can only be applied to purple and yellow characters. Now, yes, Prismatic would allow you to use these cards on such a character if you have a purple or yellow crystal character in play but I prefer not to risk it. It seems like a very late game move. Plus, trying to chain these things seems very risky but would allow you to grant all colours to one character for a phrase.

    With these little shots in the arm, your deck can leap forwards for a turn when you need it, making Prismatic just that little more reachable in a pinch.

    She's shaking because of how hard she's Inspiring your deck right now.

    Or, do what brokenimage321 said and use Crystal Headdress. I like mine better but, I suppose I would, wouldn't I? Just remember, both methods are trying to get around the sluggish speed of the crystal deck. A little lateral thinking, and you can get around such limitations.

    That being said, if you do go for brokenimage321's idea, I'd carefully consider two-colour friends. Mainly because their colour requirements are very risky to play. Granted, the pay off is a card that can grant two colours instead of only one to the pool of colours that Prismatic can soak up. Plus, two-colour cards are often decently powerful. However, in a deck made of likely 6 colours, trying to find the two you need to pay the colour cost is awkward. The Twilight mane helps. I'll leave the risk up to you.

    Before I end, I should talk about your problems. You see, again, you shouldn't be so specific with them, considering how hard it is to assume that you'll always have a particular colour on the field. While it's fine to count on having purple on the field, try looking for problems with either a not-colour requirement or a wild requirement to solve, simply so that you don't come up short when you need those all important points.


    Case #2 - Eccentric Laughter (Harmony) - Foxytail - Submitted to MLP:CCG Subreddit

    Yes, this is one of the things our other Fox-Themed Admin get's up to when not on her duties. She's also who I usually consult about these decks, making her effectively my 'Nurse'. And, I don't think she's too shabby with her deck building either. She wanted someone to look at it so, I thought I'd step in and see.

    In fact, knowing Foxy, the fact that this is deck with dismissal is not surprising. What is surprising is that it's a deck that takes as full advantage as it can of the new keyword 'Eccentric'.

    For those not in the know, Eccentric means that friends with the keyword add an extra wild-power requirement to the problem it's at. If you have 'Eccentric 1' on a character at a problem, then your opponent needs one power more of any colour to solve the problem. It's a simple mechanic that can force an opponent to need a greater and greater amount of power just to solve a problem. This can mean the difference between victory and defeat, just by how well you can strategically move the goalposts.

    So, not only does Foxy plan to spam as much of this devastating keyword as she can to ensure that you can't solve that problem, there's a few dismissal cards. Yes, this is intended to set up an impenetrable wall on one problem then snipe off the opponent's cards at all possible times from on high. From there, she tries to hold this position for as long as possible, scoring points, then probably just doing a double face-off when in a strong position.

    Everything in this deck suggests only one thing: "Come get me."

    It's a surprisingly powerful idea for a deck. Flooding a problem with Eccentric is despicably easy, especially with the Mane 'Pinkie Pie, Ambassador of Laughter' and it's ability to reduce the action token cost of any friend you play down to one. So, not entirely broken but still nothing to be sniffed at. This is exacerbated by 'Pinkie Pie, Everypony's PFF' which allows Foxy to search for what's needed in that moment when it's played. The problem 'Winter Start-Up' is here specifically to provide an instant 10 wild requirement to work from with the rest of Foxy's Eccentric cards.

    The curious thing is the necessity to flip Pinkie Pie. If Pinkie Pie does not flip, the pace of the deck is far more sluggish. It's 'control by use of swarm tactics' plan makes for a deck that can live and die on how many action tokens it has to play with. This Pinkie flips when she starts the turn with more friends in play than the opponent. This is what 'Torch Song' is for. It sets up a chain of card plays to ensure a steady stream of cards come through. Torch Song when played allows the user to search their deck for another Pony Tones card. Foxy's choices are either more Torch Songs, Singing Barrel or a Rarity.

    If flipping Pinkie is the priority then it'll likely be another Torch Song that's picked, mainly because it's relatively cheap and able to find another to Torch Song to play. When that's played, Foxy can find that Rarity, which it's arguably, rather powerful. Having that to hand could stifle any possible attack.

    Lastly, 'Rarity, Truly Outrageous'. Because having contempt for your opponent's plans is almost required to play this game competitively.

    It's quite incredible that this card is still devastating even after all
    the expansions that's been added so far.

    If the opponent dares trying to get around such shenanigans, then Foxytail has plenty of ways of smacking down such disrespectful behaviour.

    First, the problem card 'Get Lost' which can dismiss by itself. There's also 'Rolling Tones' for slightly expensive dismissal but it's still Immediate dismissal without any other strings attached, able to target anything on the field. The fact that it's Immediate is powerful enough as it can save a situation that's going sour in a second. 'Puppet Show' boosts the requirement of a problem for a turn, just to ensure that the problem isn't solved then and there.

    'Moving Mare' is a little odd though. It powers up cards but can then dismiss cards when they gain a certain amount of power. While a little odd, it's cheap on action tokens by itself. For roundabout methods of dismissing characters, it's variable on how powerful the target is initially. It's surprisingly powerful against cards with Diligent (winning face-offs gains +1 power tokens) that have been previously successful as it's a cheap way of culling anything that gets too powerful. This counter is similar for a lot of deck strategies so it's a decent pick for a deck that's all about setting up a position to dismiss constantly from.

    What else? 'Rarity, Soprano' edits the opponent's hand, culling potentially dangerous cards. 'Bulk Biceps' can dismiss and retrieve certain cards. Aloe lends a little more power. Seabreeze's Flower is only for resource dismissal. There's little of it anywhere else so, it makes sense. Lastly, 'Singing Barrel' allows for the re-deployment of Pony Tones cards as well as so that their abilities are repeatable on top of adding more colour to the Pinkie Mane.

    If all that is breached then BAM! Snips and Snails or Party Favour can force a problem change, pushing all characters away, giving Foxy a chance to rebuild at the new problem. BOOM! Cardboard Box renders characters (including the Mane) useless in a face-off. FOOM! 'Party of One'. Wipe the board, banish all affected cards, rebuild in the desolation.

    I'm sorry. It was too tempting to resist...

    This deck is just vindictive, like a kid that drops eggs on people from on top of a skyscraper.

    Prescription - A couple of tweaks

    The deck is pretty solid. Sure, a troublemaker can flumax it for a turn and some heavy frighten, dismissal or movement could render it disarmed long enough to counter it. A deck that can use a well-placed villain could render this almost tragically useless.

    Though again, there's little that isn't tragically useless in the wake of a good villain reveal.

    There are a couple of tweaks I can think off. First, why are you using Spike as a white, entry requirement friend. Why not something else? Perhaps something cheaper or has an ability too? Granted, pickings are slim but you could have 'Noteworthy' or 'Octavia, Star Cellist' if you want to live a little more dangerously. It gains power for a phase by exhausting a resource at home. It's riskier than the others due to its resource necessity.

    Everything else doesn't help you out much. Or at all. Still, Noteworthy seems like a better bet as it's cheap. If you want to flip Pinkie now and not when your deck feels like it, cheap friends are your best friends.

    If you're feeling a little dangerous, Foxy, I'd suggest 'Pinkie Pie, Remix Master'. Your own one. I'm not likely to trade either of mine because I'd like to use them somewhere but for you, you'd get a fighting chance of keeping a high-requirement problem. For any other player, it would be death to keep difficult problems around, but you use them to smite from on high! If you can keep your purch for longer, all the better! Though, that three white requirement and possibly four action cost isn't ideal. Not a deal breaker, just not ideal.

    Foxy's actual face after I showed her the above paragraph.

    No, being an ultra rare makes it a possible deal breaker. I wouldn't usually recommend such rare cards but for you, it could be enough to push your deck to something formidable. It just might cost quite a bit. Depends on what you trade it for. I wouldn't recommend trading blood, souls, stranger's emails, teeth or the ultra rare Fancy pants that gains points for everything underneath it.


    There, that looks good though, I do wonder if some will doubt my credentials. Hmm...I know! I'll show off one of my Harmony decks. I'm always making new decks. Usually very gimmicky ones but usually just to take advantage of a new or interesting way of making use of whatever cards I have. I'm not that interested in being competitive. But that doesn't mean I build pushovers!

    Doctor's Deck - The Miner Beat Deck

    Mane - DJ Pon-3
    Colours - Pink and Orange
    Strengths - Relatively Easy to Build, Unexpected Power, Powerful Troublemaker Lockout, Able to Roll Through Problems With Minimal Numbers of Friends
    Weaknesses - Can't deal with Troublemakers Too Easily, Has Little Defence Against Frighten, Dismissal and Card Dismissal, 'Pinkie Pie, Grump'.

    Strategy Summary
    Gain power through card draw and card dismissal to 'inflate' characters to huge levels of power.

    The Miner Beat deck is a particular favourite of mine because it's bloody hysterical to play on a good day, and surprisingly tenacious even when it's not feeling up to snuff. I have to admit, it pleases me that I can get quite so much power out of what are largely very common or easy to procure cards. You've probably got tons of these somewhere but I've weaponised them!

    The stars of the show are Twist and Babs Seed. If you haven't noticed, there's two events in the deck that can gain extra cards in the same turn. 'Let's Get This Party Started' and 'Surprise Party!' allow the player to draw a shed load of cards! That's an instant +3 or +6 respectively to add to either Twist or Babs Seed who gain power for every card you draw. Heck! If you're particularly lucky, it's possible to draw into another of these events after using it, causing another +3 or +6 to your characters. That can be topped off by DJ Pon-3's ability that exhausts it to draw another card.

    Behold! The tool of your complete decimation. OK, stop laughing!

    But what to do with your new found cards? This is where 'Applejack, Summer Sun Caterer' and 'Feedbag' is for. All those newly drawn cards can be dumped in the bin for just as large amounts of power on orange friends too. A decent choice for being fed like a suckling pig is 'Maud, Like a Rock', as it can't be moved or dismissed or put into my hand. It stays put so it's a handy dumping ground for any cards I don't think I need right now.

    But! If I change my mind, I have 'Juggling Routine'. It's a necessity in this deck as burning through the deck only to throw it away again is it's main aim. If the draw deck is looking low, a Juggling Routine could save the deck from bottoming out, rendering it utterly powerless.

    Yes, I'm using 'Pinkie Pie, Grump' in this too. Because if I can't agro my way to victory, I can sure as heck turtle up and spam card draw until your looking at a 40 or 50 power sour-puss pony instead. Oh! And remember that it's when both players draw cards that Pinkie grows more powerful! 'Surprise Party!' causes both players to draw cards, thus increasing the power of the card by twelve instead of six.

    Other handy cards are 'Apple Bloom, Re-Markable', because turning that card draw into free card play is so lovely. I have all these cards coming in, I ought to do something with them! Toe-Tapper adds to the card draw though, that's about it. Vittles Stand allows me to move generated power from one character to another without moving anything, saving action tokens for card draw or other cards. 'Too Much Pie' is here because sometimes, you just need to nullify something. Especially in a world where 'Applejack, Ambassador of Honesty' exists. Lastly, 'Rarity, Hoarder' seemed like a decent idea if played. There's no penalty to playing it and it increases innate card draw, boosting Pinkie Grump, Babs Seed and Twist every turn by two instead of one.

    Screwball is here, mainly to annoy the opponent. It's annoying, end of. It's easy to deal with if you have the space, but is still, at least, an action token penalty just to move it.


    Building a similar deck really isn't that hard. Sure, a few cards in here are rare and 'Surprise Party!' is only ever found in the 'Celestial Solstice' card box but they're all far easier to find than many 'game-winning' cards I could mention. This utilises a mechanic that is often overlooked and turns it into a hideous weapon.

    The way that it works is by 'inflating' characters to greater amounts of power until they can confront a problem for a single turn, then return to normal when the turn is over. Strategically, you now have a card that can steal bonus points very efficiently but avoids face-offs until it's ready to swat back with a greater amount of power to win. It's also a deck that doesn't need any more than one character to potentially solve a problem. This negates some tricky problem cards like 'Blending In' that increases the requirement for each colour used to confront the problem.

    "Ta-ta-ta, ta-ta-taaahh! Pony Powerrr!"

    On the flipside, increasing the amount of cards running through the player's hand also presents them with a greater range of actions they can do, obviously. It could save you in a pinch.

    Lastly, it's just hilarious to play. With only a handful of action tokens, there could be two ten power characters bearing down on both problems within moments. 'Surprise Party!' makes its use highly disruptive to an opponent's plans as they have to shuffle their hand away into their deck and re-draw as well. If you feel particularly vicious, a Pinkie Grump is here for you.

    Y'know, if you can live with the consequences of the aftermath.


    It's funny I should mention 'Pinkie Pie, Grump' because Pinkie Grumps are also one of it's most powerful and total weaknesses. For a deck that grabs card draw and runs with it, turning that asset into a choke hold that gradually suffocates the deck feels almost like a Judo move of some kind. You can try and defeat that troublemaker as quickly as you can, hoping to outrun its growth with your own then face it off, though this leads to another issue.

    Outside of a few cards, there's not much that can be done about troublemakers. Some cards like 'Maud, Like a Rock' can handle most threats, but the inflate strategy can only be activated in the main phase. Troublemaker phase only allows for one card to be drawn unless you have a 'Rarity, Hoarder' in play. All that power can only ever be utilised during problem face-offs. So, you have to sort of deal with them with everything but your most powerful cards.

    "Well, that's a big oversight, isn't it Mr Doctor Fox, hmmmm?!"

    There are cards that allow a player to take on a troublemaker in the mane phase where I'm likely to have the power to take on anything! Too bad most of the ones I have are blue...Bugger.

    Otherwise, dismissal can screw you over. Frighten can screw you over. Movement can screw most cards over. This is mainly why 'Maud, Like a Rock' is in this deck; to stay put in the face of control decks. Though, hand dismissal is it's other weak point. If you can force the huge amount of card draw to amount to nothing, then this deck is simply sunk. It can't get the power needed to confront and it could lose those all important 'Juggling Routine' cards or card draw events.

    And, yes, you've probably guessed it. 'Nightmare Moon, Deep Darkness' kills this deck stone dead. You get two cards and that's it.

    Where to Go From Here

    So, this deck, now that I look at it again, needs some method of dealing with Troublemakers and some dismissal. 'Too Much Pie' is nice, but it can't send truly problematic cards packing like a good dismissal card can. This could allow the deck to remove cards that are blocking it's inflate strategy like 'Nightmare Moon, Deep Darkness'.

    Also, something that allows for a better chance against troublemaker cards would be lovely. Perhaps Diligent cards. Granted, they're only useful when they win a face-off, but that could be what 'Barrel Through' could help with. The flip chance isn't amazing in this deck but doubling the draw is hardly a terrible idea.

    It could also benefit from 'Snips and Snails, Problem Solvers'. The deck's biggest strength is stealing bonus points so being able to simply replace the problem then scoop up more points with a Twist powerful enough to level cities with a sneeze could be a highly viable play.

    Even funnier, if I had it, 'Bell Tower'. Being able to magic up a Pinkie Grump on the same turn could be the saving grace of a game turning sour.


    Next in the list of cards I wish I had, 'Pie Family Rock Farm'! Yes, double the amount of cards drawn each turn, at the ready phase! All for only two action tokens!

    Lastly, 'A Vision of the Future' could be the edge needed when a nasty troublemaker comes knocking as it allows me to replace the card I would draw for a face-off, for a guaranteed six power card. And it's only an action token to play. Not too bad if it's prepared for.

    There! I hope that helps. Remember, if you'd like your deck featured on Deck Doctor, please contact me on either here on Everypony, UK of Equestria or post it up on Reddit and I'll find it eventually. I hope you'll come back next time!

    With this knowledge, you can spread misery and torment to your enemies! Just like the show always taught us.
  13. It's been far, faaaar too long since I did one of these! I need to get back to cranking these things out again!


    Splatoon is a huge, huuuge pain in the arse to review. Not because it's deep or requires a lot of thought or even a lot of explaining. It's that it's being constantly updated. Just like Minecraft or Team Fortress 2, unless you report on this stuff constantly, one shot reviews like mine are just going to appear rather dated. The good news is that Nintendo have mostly revealed their hand on this one sooo...I don't mind diving in right now. Because pending a huge upheaval of content like how Team Fortress 2 reinvigorates interest in itself with a new game type or extra mode to keep you coming back, Splatoon looks like it's going to just keep adding small stuff or polishing what's already there until it shines.

    So, now seems as good a time as ever.

    Splatoon is basically Nintendo's Team Fortress 2. I know the press have been comparing it to CoD but anyone that does it is a moron. I'm going to be blunt here because it's so much like Team Fortress 2, it's baffling that it's not more widely talked about.

    First off, it's a shooter with a less realistic edge. None of this realism nonsense. Instead, we have a game that bases itself in a fantastical world so that it's mechanics don't have to be explained at all. Your an Inkling, a humanoid squid that can transform into a squid and back to a humanoid again. Its set in Japan and you fight with water guns that fire ink.

    And sometimes, Pop Star Divas dressed like sushi. Did I mention this game was Japanese?

    There's no blood and guts or quite the same kind of comedy of TF2 but it does have it's own quirky charm to make up for it. Like I said, it's practically set in Japan. It's iconography is so hilariously and obviously Japanese that it gains this curious charm about it. The game's attention to detail on things such as adverts, the look of signs, the look of some character's clothes, the look of the building you fly around on. It's not in your face over the top but everything has just the right vibe.

    Though, it's a very suburban Japan. It's clothes are often fashionable wear with lots of trainers and hoodies and such. While it's definitely Japanese, it's a contemporary Japan that make's Splatoon the only main Nintendo IP to ever acknowledge the outside world that I can think of so fully and completely as to take bits of it and then place it in it's setting. It's exaggerated, but it's there!

    Kinda reminds me of something...hmm...

    Yeah, sorry. The image is a little big but it's kinda too important not to show!
    Splatoon's feel while still very fresh, does feel like it's been borrowing from places. Though, and here's the part where I might sound pretty mental, I'm fine with that. As far as I see it, it's picking up and then modifying elements of each game this chart says it's playing with. Aesthetically, it's very Jet Set Radio though throws out the cell shading that still looks good today in favour of a more realistic but still exaggerated feel. Like, these are cartoon characters, but it does look like you could just grab one of these little guys.

    Not a bad idea. After that Xbox 360 game, it's not likely we're getting another Jet Set Radio so, yeah! I'll happily take Splatoon instead.

    Mainly because it did the same calculations that Team Fortress 2 did.

    First, it's got a bigger emphasis on teamwork than other shooters. The way it works, for the three people that don't know, is that it's a sort of reverse Super Mario Sunshine. Instead of cleaning up a mess, your making one with as much speed as you can. It's literally about controlling the map, covering it in all the ink you can fire. That's roughly it. You just spray your copious amounts of gloopy liquid in all directions, hoping to cover everything you possibly can. No kill streaks, no emphasis on kill-death ratios, no points for doing anything but completing the objective. You can kill the other team but it doesn't help much. It does cause a small splat of coverage they're death causes, delay an opponent team member from being on the field and defends any spot you have covered.

    I have played a bit of Call of Duty and I got a more 'Individual Badass working alongside other Individual Badasses'. I barely had to interact with teammates at all. Unless you count accidentally shooting them interaction.

    Otherwise, your often better looking for places to cover instead of things to pounce on. It's not a bad strategy to fight the opponent directly but it's a very fringe plan compared to just finding efficient ways of throwing the brightly coloured gunge around.

    Actually, that is the thing that sets this apart from TF2. That had nine distinct classes that had abilities that could be shifted by their equipment to allow them to fill certain niches or specialities in their team. A character is still that character despite whatever they're equipment says they can or can't do now. They're just an altered version. So, a Medic can't ever have the speed of a Scout without doing something special and a Spy will always be able to turn invisible, they just might not be able to be invisible for as long. They're equipment gives them different buffs and debuffs to keep both the opponents guessing and the player trying new combinations to see what works when.

    Or does nothing but does look like he'd be able to jiggle around like jelly.

    Splatoon took this and simplified it by rolling Class Specific abilities into the weapons the character carries instead. Every single gun kinda locks you into specific play styles and abilities. They're generally pretty simple to grasp how each works, though.

    Rapid fire guns that are mainly an all-rounder that are good at both coverage and dealing with attackers.

    Blaster guns are slow and have a small range but tend to pack a mean punch when they hit something.

    Rollers are the best at covering ground as well as being able to plough through enemies with a huge amount of ease, except that they have barely any way of attacking at range.

    Chargers are this games sniper rifles as they have the greatest range, damage and accuracy of any gun but can't cover ground very well. They're mainly for picking off targets. Though, to gain their full power, you have to fully charge every shot.

    Buckets are able to efficiently cover areas as well as be quite offensive at close range but long range they completely suck. Their biggest advantage is the arc they throw ink at allows you to pick off targets that are behind cover a little easier.

    Brushes are just like rollers except they can paint much, much faster than a Roller. Though, they cover much less ground. Instead, Brush Users are the DPS melee damage dealers that can swat enemies out of the way with constant, quick strikes.

    And lastly, there's this games version of a minigun. Curiously, it can fire forever. The difference between this and the TF2 minigun is that it has to be charged up before it can fire. Refilling ink only allows you to charge up that much faster.


    But that's not all, gear is vitally important here. To further augment your character, you can buy clothes for them to wear. Each of these has an ability and slots to further increase the number of different buffs the clothing can give you. So, if you're looking for a tanky build, you'd look for as much stuff that'll keep you alive as possible. Rather simple.

    What I like about this system is that, unlike TF2, it's really up to you how to play. Sure, there's dominant strategies on what's considered powerful but one lone player can only do so much, even with help. This makes the game rather open and balanced, relatively, meaning that you really can go nuts to see what out of the stuff you just happen to have will do the trick for you.

    In TF2, even if you altered a class' gear, you did so in order to make it better at only one or two aspects of that character's class you wanted to focus on. Perhaps a 'Revengineer' or a 'Demoknight'. You worked with what you had and figured out synergies but it's always clear that Valve had tested these things to within an inch of their life so that no combination would cause too much damage to their carefully maintained meta.

    Nintendo doesn't seem so concerned and so, you feel more like you're in control of how your character plays. Your gun is the basis of the play style, sure. But your gear pushes it in the direction you want. You could equip a simple Rapid Fire Gun but then add as much into damage as possible, making sure each hit lands hard.

    You could put more into defence and respawn time reduction, allowing you to defend any territory you control with as much force as you can muster.

    You could also gain silent jumping and swimming as well as run speed upgrades, so that you can attempt to outflank and sabotage any attempt to co-ordinate against your team.

    Side note: Miiverse is everywhere in this. Though, it's got some real gems in it.

    You play with what you have and work with it. The reason for this is that each extra slot on a piece of gear unlocks a new, smaller bonus to your character when they wear it. The issue is that it's randomly selected from a pool relating to that piece of clothing. Some might find this awkward as it means that whatever gear they have is now kinda hard to predict as well as hard to plan for. A piece of gear you worked on for ages could gain a bonus that doesn't help your overall strategy. Therefore, it's ruined in your eyes.

    For me? I play lots of trading card/collectible card games. I'm used to getting randomly selected things then being told to try to make something of them. Heck! I relish the challenge of being asked to take a load of disparate bits and bobs that make me look like I've robbed a charity shop and finding something workable out of the mess of information.

    It's a thought that does take longer than you'd think, just because it's a smarter game than it let's on. Sure, it's all about spreading ink in all directions but how do you go about it? The advantages of having lots of your colour ink around is that you're limiting the space your opponent has to move in but increasing your own space. You can transform into a squid and swim in it, effectively becoming like a run button. It's your fastest mode of transport just below touching the Gamepad screen and jumping to the same location as a teammate. Swimming is also the only way you can refill your ammo while out and about so, you're fighting over how effective your team can be in any given area. This is a simple but hugely responsive mechanic as the player is getting constant, affirmative feedback on how well they're doing.

    You can't move around much and getting damaged everywhere? Your sucking this round!

    "Nyah-nyah! Everything proof shield, sucker!"

    Still, how you attempt to achieve the objective is important. Do you try to cover ground or defend it? Do you do what I do and load up a Charger with some Ink Efficiency upgrades and pick off my opponents so my teammates have a better chance of covering ground?

    Yeah, you're a git too. But you're likely an unsung hero of your team.

    Special mention has to be given to the controls, which feel awesome once you get to grips with them. It's similar to the shooting mechanics in the 3DS remakes of those two Legend of Zelda N64 games where the internal gyroscope is able to pick up fine movement of the hands but the majority of the aiming direction is done by the analogue stick. Honestly, it's very responsive, comfortable and doesn't screw you up, even in the thick of it. It's the only system I've used that can actually rival the accuracy of a mouse. Once you get used it it, it's that good.

    Ordinarily, I'm a crap sniper. In Splatoon, I knock them dead almost every time.

    To spice things up, there's other game modes too. My favourite being the Tower one where your team has to climb onto a platform that moves when it's stood on. You have to control that tower by keeping at least one teammate on it until it reaches it's destination somewhere in the enemy territory. For such a simple idea, it's tremendous fun as you frantically splat anything on the tower with everything you have, just to ensure that there's at least no one on there and the tower halts.

    Rainmaker is like rugby only the rugby ball is a gun that causes the wearer to loose some running speed. However, they now have a powerful gun that fires inky-tornadoes of death when fully charged. So, while you're not exactly a sitting duck, you're not almighty powerful either. It's a little like the Tower one though you have the choice of route instead of following the pre-arranged rail the tower follows. Get the gun to the spot in the enemy territory and you win.

    This thing actually looks too vicious to be in a Nintendo game. Like a fish-shaped BFG.

    The last one is just Area Control but you have only one or two areas that count towards your score. And you have to control them for as long as you can. It's not as fun as the others but it's still entertaining as you know have to decide between a strong offence or defence. Do you target enemy areas or try to defend the ones you have?

    Yeah, that's all I have to say about Spla....Wait, no. There's a single player.

    It's kinda dull, actually. It shows you the ropes and I do recommend you finish it though not because it's necessarily fun. It's mainly just to build up your skills so that they can be put to the test within the online matches. There's some challenge modes available with the Amiibo characters that let you use alternate weapons though, they don't bring much to the table.

    And now, that's all I have to say about Splatoon. In short, it's fun. If you like quirky ideas or love TF2, look for this. Seriously, it's good. Play it.

    Just be weary that I'll be gunning for you too if you do sign up.

    No comment, I just really like this one.
  14. [​IMG]
    Castle of Illusion
    Mickey Mouse

    This game...just...

    This game...I, um...

    This game is a little weird to talk about from where I'm sitting. You see, I'm old enough to remember the games this thing claims to have taken inspiration from. Disney branded 90's Platformers were a small goldmine for both parties involved. Generally, they were pretty good games. There's a few clunkier additions here and there but when your repertoire includes applebuckin' Ducktails you know you have a brand you can have some faith in.

    And of course, Disney Interactive could slap Mickey on anything and make a buck quick. So, it was nice of them to include some fun in the bundle too.

    While I've never played the original Castle of Illusion, I have played some of the other things they've made with the Mouse. Mickey Mania was a staple of the times I spent with my next door neighbour's Mega Drive/Genesis. That was a fun, challenging run-and-jump fest with levels inspired by different eras of Mickey's career. The 'Steamboat Willie' level is now burned into my psyche as a result. World of Illusion was something I picked up for curiosity's sake more recently along with a bunch of other games to fill out my collection of stuff I'll play when the servers for Splatoon are down. It's not actually a sequel to this. Weirdly, it's the only Co-Op 2D Platformer I know of on the console. Which is noteworthy at least.

    I would not necessarily recommend World of Illusion. It's slower than a glacier and the Co-Op is straight up awkward. Not recommended. Play Golden Axe or Smash TV.

    But the remake of Castle of Illusion has more than just the redundancy factor that most remakes face, which is: 'We have the old one, why are you doing it again?'. Oh no! The version I got was on Android despite being on PSN and Xbox and all that other stuff too. Greeeaaat...Touch Screen controls...

    OK, let's deal with that first. They're fine. They work OK but I did have to fiddle with them. The standard control scheme will create a 'Virtual Stick' that acts as a flat analogue stick that appears on screen, wherever you put your thumb down on the left hand side of the screen. You then slide your thumb around to move Mickey, lifting off to stop giving input.

    I hated this control set up. I don't like having to drag my thumb across my screen as the friction my skin will inevitably create as it squeaks over the glass makes my actions more sluggish than I'd like. Instead, I prefer my on-screen controls to work via tapping, like I'm using a D-Pad I can't feel. That let's be stay frosty and change directions on the fly as much as I'd like. So, with a change, I made the virtual stick become omnipresent while playing. Otherwise, you touch the right hand side for jumping. You have a button for throwing stuff. That's it. It works perfectly fine.

    Though, it wouldn't hurt to have a joypad to play with.

    Or maybe these stupid looking things...

    So, Gameplay. It's pretty fun.

    Not mind blowing or even that challenging in spots. It's just hard enough that it doesn't feel like a walking simulator but easy enough for Junior to feel just comfortable enough with his less developed skills. It really is more of a kid's game than anything else I've ever really played that wasn't educational. That does explain it's incredibly basic strategy in regards to mechanics.

    After all, at this point I had to mess around with time manipulation in Braid. In VVVVVV, I had no jump button, only the ability to flip gravity back and forth. Rayman Origins is built around running at a constant, steady speed then trying to bounce through the levels without any trouble. New Super Mario World had the design philosophy of making a 3D game play with the feel of a 2D game. Super Meat Boy was hard as a rock. Even Shovel Knight, a throwback inspired game from the same era Castle of Illusion was born into, had shovel moves, side-grade armour to collect and exploration aplomb! Lastly, the closest modern game to this in terms of mechanics is probably Time Surfer as bouncing around on things is a necessary and rewarding part of the game. And even that throws in a time rewind button to allow the player to correct mistakes.

    Up until this point, I've been drawn towards games that try and have a gimmick. They try and throw in a really cool idea that makes them stand out.

    It's bizarre for me to pick up a game from 2013 then get told that my big new mechanic to grapple with today is 'Jump on Enemies to gain height'.

    "Kids Game? Why don't we try chasing the Tweenage Demo like everyone else?"
    - Said By Hopefully No-One Making This

    ...Everyone else has long since mastered that. And yet, this is the crux of the gameplay here.

    I do say this as a curiosity, not necessarily a criticism. The Castle of Illusion Remake is still pretty fun. Sure, releasing a game this simplistic in at a time that everything else I just mentioned exists is kinda bonkers but then you realise they're kinda banking on Nostalgia here. Well, for anyone that remembers the Genesis/Mega Drive original, they are. For everyone else, there's Mickey's grinning frizzog beaming that the potential player to lure them in.

    In fact, I would say the recreation is pretty faithful to the old platformers Mickey starred in. Sega, the developers on this one, are pushing that Nostalgia button pretty strongly. Thankfully, this means they copied the controls of those games pretty well. Mickey does feel like he has weight, but I wouldn't say it was very much. The Mouse is not stocky in anyway, so his floaty and forgiving jumping arc feels justified. The thing isn't always utilised to it's fullest but fine because jumping on heads is still satisfying. Way more satisfying than it should be. Bouncing around is easy and straightforward as enemies puff out of existence, launching you skyward. Stringing goomba-stomps like this nets you extra bonus points which are very important because...

    Because...um...OK, that could have been left out and nothing would have been lost. But, jumping on things for height is mainly there for finding collectables. Diamonds are everywhere and are essentially coins. I guess when your Mickey 'I-Eat-My-Cheese-Off-Of-Platters-Made-Of-Dodo-Feathers-Because-Of-All-The-Money-I-Make-So-Why-Not?' Mouse, collecting coins doesn't seem worth your time when precious stones the size of your head are an option.

    So much money, he's cloning himself because he can. Meet his 'Mini-Me'.

    Anyway, they open up levels. You get so many of them that it's barely worth worrying about your diamond total because if you just finish the level, the next one will have a cost so low, you'd have to actively attempt to avoid the pick-ups just to find you haven't enough. Why the doors to each area couldn't unlock in sequence, I'll never know. The other use for them is concept art. Yay? I guess? I mean, it's pretty and all but...Finding them all is actually kinda taxing if your not careful so the reward is for completionist loonies only.

    For other stuff to collect, there's Playing Cards and Chilli Peppers. Yeah! Some Banjo Kazooie in here now. These...just unlock alternate costumes. Cool, I guess? They aren't bad. I like the Magician one but that's sort of it. It's a little underwhelming. Like, how about some extra levels or a harder Boss Rush mode or something! Maybe some unlockable 'cheats'? Like a Moon Jump or something?

    And this brings me back to Mickey's control himself. He, himself, is underwhelming in his abilities which gives a strange feel to how you play. Unlike Mario or Sonic or Rayman or whoever, Mickey is kinda defenceless. Yes, you have three hits you can take but due to Mickey's rather light feel, you get the impression he ought to be wheezing after one punch. This is also ties into Mickey's alternative method of attack: throwing stuff. Depending on where you are in the game, there will be throw-able items that you can toss to defeat enemies or break things. They're usually pretty small and, as such, have little apparent impact feedback. The enemies fall backwards then burst into sparkles. Some enemies do have decent animations for when they're hit like this and appear to take an apple or a marble to the face like it was a cannonball, but most just poof.

    "Oh shucks! Maybe I should have held onto that Keyblade..."

    Now, as a design choice, I find this underwhelming but that doesn't mean I want all enemies to explode when they're hit with a boiled sweet. Just, if another Mickey Mega Drive/Genesis game does get remade, make the effect of being hit punchier.

    Or maybe take out the abundance of ammo available. I was tripping over the stuff, even in later levels. Most obstacles are one hit kills so it's not like there's anything you need copious numbers of throwing fodder to attack with. So, almost every enemy is dealt with in seconds. They're rarely a problem and only awkward placement lands you any damage. Perhaps a limit could have made this game a little more exciting, as now I'd need to pick and choose my targets, rather than pelt anything that moves.


    The presentation is gorgeous and boss battles is an area where the game finally get's some life.

    First off, there's a nice variety of how you tackle a boss on top of their designs being pretty lively and expressive. Not to mention imaginative. Want to fight a Candy-Floss Coloured Milk River Dragon? I didn't even know that could be a thing! How about an evil Jack-In-The-Box? Sure, kinda done before but this thing is actually a pretty decent fight. What about a Tree Stump that's come to life and looks like what would happen in The Lorax had a child with an Ent? Actually pretty awesome looking.

    "I speak for the trees. And your life depends on their good word, boy!"

    Now that I mention it, the Jack-In-The-Box fight is an interesting case because it's where one of Castle of Illusion's main tricks comes into play. You see, the game is only 2.5D when it feels like it. This is generally most of the time. But, when it feels the game would be better off with more than two directions for movement, it'll open itself up into a 3D game. This where it begins to feel the most like Crash Banidcoot in my mind but the areas are generally pretty brief. A spot here, a jumping challenge there and the hub world make up the 3D parts. I will commend the level design to ease the player from one perspective to the other then back again almost every time so a player doesn't get disoriented while playing. It's a neat trick that makes what could be a very flat game feel more dynamic.

    One place where this doesn't work is the Jack-In-The-Box fight though but it’s good that they tried! In fact, the same trick works better in later bosses. Most of it is in 3D but for one attack, the perspective suddenly changes with little time to compensate or understand what happened. Just as the Jack-In-The-Box is about to throw a punch, 2.5D suddenly kicks in. Usually, this will mean that you'll still be in 3D mode for a couple of milliseconds, meaning that you'll still be holding your course. If your lucky, you'll end up ducking. If you're not, you'll be walking away from the boxing glove coming right for you with only a well timed jump able to save you from damage. Because everything else is at a gentler pace, this could have had a little more tweaks to fit the general difficulty level of the whole game.

    Coulrophobia for your whole week, right here. Enjoy! Post your favourite nightmares in the comments below!

    Later bosses get this transition much, much better so that it’s not quite as jarring.

    But let's go back to that presentation, shall we? First off, it's set up like a fairy tale. The game even has an omnipresent narrator that will chime in to give small bits here and their. Mainly just to give some outsider context to what's going on. Otherwise, it would be very pretty, well animated but ultimately rather barren expanses of platforming. While not aiming for much comedy, The Narrator's voice is still very pleasant. He set's the 'Kiddie' mood extremely well, almost as if this was a bedtime story you could play.

    Art Design is pretty good. Sure, the mechanics are as bare bones as a game of this nature can get but the colours are bright, lush and full of small flourishes. The forest is leafy, the toy room is generally a little surreal as Mickey seems to have been shrunk down to the size of a Lego Man, and the Library levels are warm but clearly cluttered with books. This Castle of Illusion has some pretty diverse level themes that really do make you feel as if you're rushing through an ever changing fortress of weirdness.

    Like I mentioned, there is a level that's entirely made of sweets where you have to jump across macaroon stepping stones in a river of milk. This game is delightful for that, especially as it comes right out of no where! One minute, Micky is running through a giant Library that makes him like the size of a...mouse, the next he’s in a five-year-old’s idea of Heaven.

    This is like the Carebears turning up in Citizen Kane. It's that unexpected and random. Mickey get's pushed into a bottle of milk and ends up here!

    Now, the Android had a few graphical oddities concerning swinging ropes but everything else looked stellar! Character designs were fun but definitely very 'Disney'. Even the main villain 'Mizrabel' had looked great when she transforms into a younger version of herself at the end. The fun part is that she get's the best line in the entire thing.

    Something along the lines of: "You think you can beat me? That would be a 'Castle of DE-lusion'!". Perfect! Hat’s off. It’s cheesy as all hell but it made me giggle. It’s just fun.

    There's even the flipside to Mickey's pathetic feel. You see, Micky does feel weak, underwhelming in terms of abilities, feeble when taking damage and lighter than a feather while jumping and has no method of augmenting his abilities at all throughout the adventure. The upshot is a sense of dread from the Castle itself. The things you're fighting are often waaaay bigger than you. All of the bosses are either bigger than you or outnumber you. The castle becomes intimidating because the Level Design and Aesthetic attempts a sense of grand scale with what little it actually has to play with to create this threatening grandeur.

    He's only an Unstoppable Machine of Destruction when Copyright is concerned.

    For example, Toyland and the Library are both played while Mickey has been shrunk down until the mundane environments of a playroom or a library are now daunting challenges through them. The Toyland’s best level starts the player off right in front of the level exit, but it’s locked. The Key? Up a huge mountain of wooden blocks, train tracks and mobilised toys. When you get the key right at the very top? You rush all the way down at top speed, avoiding all the enemies until you skip right into the end. Simple, but satisfying. It’s a gradual build up you earn and your reward is to go down the giant slide.

    The most intimidating and pretty neat level is when you have to rush though the parts of a Clock Tower. Running through each part of the moving, crushing and whirring parts till you get to the top. Everything is slamming against each other, grinding anything in the way into dust. Not only does it make for a more natural fit for a platformer challenge but it even feels dangerous. The shadows, the noises and the genuine actions of each part as you traverse seem to feel like it's hitting with some force when it moves.

    There’s even little bits of variation between levels and environments have their own gimmicks. The Ruins introduce water and swimming. The Forests introduce the idea that some things look like they can be jumped on but are actually a trap. The Library has high and low paths to explore for pick ups. The Castle is just straight up full of traps for you.

    Each level even has a few unique gimmicks. The Library will suddenly transition to Candy Land as mentioned, but The Forest has a small puzzle in the form of an impossible space. Walking in one path will make you appear out in the opposite place. The signpost in the middle will signify which directions haven’t been taken yet. You simply have to walk down each pathway until it lets up.

    At one point, it suddenly becomes Soul Calibur.

    A harder challenge is in Toyland because Toyland is best level. At one point, there will be a load of multi-coloured platforms laid out and the way forward looks pretty simple to cross. But! Walking straight across means that Mickey will just plummet! Why? Because some of the platforms are illusionary! If you guessed, there was a mirror near by that was showing the real path forwards, give yourself a cookie or something. I know it’s a cliche but it’s still done well, not exactly obvious, fits the theme of ‘Illusions, wooOOOooo!’ and actually caught me off guard till I figured it out. Heck! Even navigating via mirror is tricky!

    This game is full of little touches where they tried to break up the 2.5D side-scrolling with something new. The Library has a moment where Mickey falls into a cup of tea and has to swim away from a whirlpool coming right for him. Anthropomorphised cubes of sugar with creepy little faces keep jumping in and getting in the way. Toyland also has a little bit where you run across cards until you get to the end. The Ruins has a level where you need to build a face out of what’s represented on all the buttons surrounding Mickey to continue.

    There’s plenty of memorable stuff in here. Plenty! And you’ll likely get through it in a few hours. It’s very short. Which here is good. Dragging it out would have made this game far worse as, well, I'm not sure what else they had left towards the end. A few more sets of levels could have killed my enthusiasm but a short, sweet little game means it’s just that much more satisfying. No outstaying it’s welcome, just whip it out whenever your bored. Job done, play Toyland again.

    "Did he just say what I think he said to do when bored?"

    "Yes! You should have seen what he originally said you ate cheese off of."

    (Keep those jokes to yourself, OK ;3)

    If older players might not get the most out of it. The game is very gentle. Sure, some parts were tricky till I nailed the patterns, but lives and ammo are plentiful. You are highly unlikely to get a game over. The plot is barely worth mentioning, which is why I haven’t told you that Minnie has been captured by an old witch - called ‘Mizrabel’ - looking to do a Grunty by stealing Minnie’s youth and it’s Mickey’s job to save her, because it barely matters. In this, all the weird stuff you witnessed is more interesting.

    For a child or someone that likes Disney stuff but isn’t too great at Platformers, Castle of Illusion is pretty decent as a choice. With it’s feet firmly rooted in the original, this actually improves on the original that having all the wizzy-wizzy technology Space Year 2015 can provide improve and breathe new life into something. This is a remake of something I’d never played, yet I still had some fun.

    It won’t beat out Time Surfer as my favourite game on my Tablet right now. Nothing will because Time Surfer is awesome! If you see it, pick it up and hope for a Mickey Mania Remake in the same vain.

    Actually! Why didn't this get a remake? Wait...Is that a Sony Logo? Yeah...Marvel Studios is likely ticking them off so much, they'll never let them have the code for that one...
  15. So...I figured I'd do a smaller review idea thing for fun and because I thought that the gap between the last review and Kill La Kill was too big. So...How about a smaller thing?

    On Card Games? Because I've become hard wired that way over the last year. Plus, you guys do know that I will review pretty much anything under the sun if you ask me, right? I even did Five Nights at Nightmare Fuel for this site on request!

    Still, without a further ado, the Doctor is in.

    Deck Doctor - #1 - Frighten Decks

    So, because the My Little Pony: Collectible Card Game has it's claws in me pretty bad, we'll be reviewing a few decks I could find from the communities I frequent for this sort of thing.

    Yeah, none from here because no one else has submitted a deck yet. Sorry...If you play, I'd be more than happy to take a look.

    Case #1 - Jonquil - Submitted to UK of Equestia

    Ah! A most difficult and awkward of decks to construct within the game: the frighten deck!

    For those looking over without much of an idea of what's going on, let me explain: if you imagine that the game is like two opposing armies attempting to take control of at least one of two control points for as long as they can, then 'Frightening' an opponent's cards is essentially incapacitation.

    A frightened card can't do very much at all. They're turned face down and then simply languish in place. They can't be moved unless some cards allow it, they can't use abilities, can't lend their power for anything and ordinarily require 2 Action Tokens to return them to normal.

    Again, in normal circumstances. Orange decks tend to be the best at resisting frightening, especially cards like 'Megaphone' which will un-frighten everything you control if you flip a chaotic card. Not too bad but a little tricky to pull off.

    Finally! A deck for me!

    Anyway, this deck shows an interesting approach to a Frighten Deck: movement speed. The Rainbow Dash Mane is able to be flipped rather easily by being at a problem with two pegasi cards (even opponent's cards count). Once flipped, the keyword 'Swift' is added to the card, making it a breeze to get moving around. It's also teamed with 'Scootaloo, Fan Club Founder', a card that will follow the Mane Character at the cost of being exhausted when they get there.

    It's not called 'Stalkerloo' for nothin'.

    This means the card is unable to lend power that turn but it's still a cheap way of getting power across the field. In addition, there's 'Two of A Kind' which allows the movement of two characters for the price of one and the cost of laying a Troublemaker. Certainly not bad.

    Why do I mention this? Well, Frighten as a tactic is powerful and intimidating. You are rendering a character inert, exacting an Action Token penalty on your opponent on top of picking off parts of their strategy as it stands at that point. If you can get down at least one 'Rainbow Dash, Goosebump Giver' you are in business as you can chain that frighten action like a little plague!

    However, it's often very expensive. In the deck in question, to get a frighten ready, you'd need to get at least 3 Blue on the field, likely flipping Rainbow Dash. Then, you'd have to use at least two action tokens, which in early game, might not be so viable as you're often using that to move around. In a Dismissal Deck, at least the card you're getting rid of is out of the game and into the Discard Pile. Unless your against White or certain Orange cards, you're not seeing it again.

    Seeing as the action is so costly, factoring in movement speed is a good idea as, you can stun a key character in your opponent's strategy then attempt to move other cards around with the remaining Action Tokens. If you have a decent amount of cards with Swift or any other movement abilities, you might just be able to make something very viable.

    No all of us get to swim in Action Tokens like this guy up here in his money pool.
    Got to work within your means.​

    Lastly, I commend the troublemaker choices. While there are better ones available (a villain perhaps?), Parasprite Swarm is a natural choice for this type of deck. Sure, it's frighten ability if you sit there long enough is appealing but I always liked the ol' trick of adding a 'Fiery Temper' when it's counter reaches 7. That bypasses the check which only triggers at 8 and will carry on growing more powerful forever.

    Silly, but true.

    The Yellow Parasprite is a very reliable early game troublemaker. If you can hit your opponent with at least one, you can begin munching on their hand almost immediately. The Windigo, on the other hand, is a much more late game card. While weak comparatively, it prevents a certain number of characters to challenge the card. It's an effect that lessens over time but it means it does work best when revealed at a problem your opponent believed they had secure.

    The Prescription

    I'd consider finding bits and pieces from the 'Nightmare Moon' starter deck. Mainly, the Changeling Drone which gains power from all friends that have been frightened. Failing that, consider figuring out something else for your Purple cards to be doing than just offering off-colour.

    You can try the Nightmare Moon mane but I think it might hurt rather than help your deck.

    Aww...Don't worry Moonie! We'll get to a deck with you in soon.

    There are a few things that come to mind. One being a Token Generator like 'Twilight Sparkle, All-Team Organiser' or 'Truffle' to help pay for both movement and frightening. While they would likely only be there to be put at home then constantly exhausted, they are lending some much needed support.

    Another possibility could be 'Twinkleshine, Outside the Box'. With your Troublemakers comes the need to gain some advantage to ensure they stay for as long as you need them. Some do this with draw chance but it's possible to do so with the 'Inspired' keyword. Being able to see the top cards of a deck and alter them could give you just enough of an edge to ensure the opponent never get's what they need.

    Next, how about resources? At the more common end of the scale, we have 'Study Session' which is played to home. Now, if you frighten an opponent's friends and they try to just replace them with new friends, they will enter play exhausted, delaying them even further.

    Next, there's 'Monstrous Manual'. Yes, that sounds weird but it's not for Troublemaker's attacking you, it's for your own Troublemakers. You see, when a problem is resolved and then changed, this resets everything around it, including the removal of active troublemakers. Inactive ones are spared this, so, 'Monstrous Manual' can help you keep, say, a tenacious 'Parasprite Swarm' you happen to have out on the field, saving it from dismissal.

    Going up the scale of scarcity, we have 'I Can't Decide'; a Report Resource that will cheaply allow you to repel at least one opponent friend from a problem. There's always the dreaded 'Utterly Drained' that will remove a Mane Character's abilities but lastly, and likely most interestingly:

    'Golden Oak Library' is likely the best Purple Resource you will ever need for this deck. Once it's down, it will allow you to dig through your deck a little and pick out Event cards. Considering that you're likely to be anticipating your 'Thunderclaps' one of these could help the wait feel less like a needle in a haystack.

    I hope that helps.

    Case #2 - Metaphor - Submitted to UK of Equestia

    So, Metaphor...What did your opponent do? Did someone hurt you? Why are you lashing out like this? What did they do, Metaphor? What did they do?

    This is a Chill Pill. I want you to take it and then call me back in the morning. Trust me, I'm a Doctor.

    In this Article at least...

    For those not in the know, the deck contains the basic necessities for a decent Frighten deck ('Goosebump Giver', 'Celestia, Fair but Firm', 'Changeling Drone', 'Crystal Guard', Nightmare Moon Mane). All of these give plenty of oppotunities to frighten a character. While heavy frightening is certainly powerful, the concern with the deck is it's off-colour.

    Those black cards are 'Colourless' characters. While they can still be used to solve problems, these usually come with some harsh penalties that affect the entire game for both opponents. Usually, you might see one or two of these guys in a deck.

    Metaphor has put in three. Each with a crippling ability.

    Worst/Best case scenario is that both opponents can't score more than two points per turn, can't cause face-off's and can't draw any more than two cards. So, for both opponents, they will have to crawl to 15 points one point at a time.

    To make things worse (or better), Metaphor plans to not only be frightening opponent cards to render them useless but utilising various events and resources to make those frightens count as hard as possible. 'Unending Nightmare' wastes precious Action Tokens the opponent needs to un-frighten cards by automatically reversing the effect. 'Faint of Heart' can dismiss frightened friends, making it the only dismissal I know of that needs Blue. 'Train Tracks' forces a friend to become frightened for the entirety of an opponent's turn unless they exhaust two characters. Then, to cap it off, a further tax on recovering from a frighten by way of 'The Scariest Cave in Equestria'. Good grief! When a frighten lands, it's going to count.

    And yet, I can see pretty glaring flaws in this deck. A few of them are quite simple.

    Off-colour is necessary to satisfy the secondary requirement on problem cards. While a colourless character can do this just fine, Metaphor doesn't have very much of it in this deck. Yes, the deck hovers at a lean 45 cards but this doesn't change the fact that we're looking at about a 1/5 chance of getting a vital, incredibly necessary card because he only has two of the three Colourless character. Add onto that the fact that each card is 'Unique', meaning that only one of each card may be in-play at any time. If finding the colours you need is becoming a problem during a game, you may have to throw down as many frightens as possible.

    Which, as we've discussed, is expensive. Investing in all the Events and Resources to boost frighten capabilities can only do so much if your opponent is comfortably romping home with their star characters.

    And that's where I feel this deck fails. It desperately needs to lock down the game as hard and as quickly as it needs the breathing room in order to pick off cards while drawing in each point, one at a time. Forgetting the 1/5 chance of drawing one of these vital cards, dismissal decks could pick this apart easily as it would simply pick off each Colourless character then plough on as if nothing ever happened.

    A decent Troublemaker deck could cause some serious havoc with the plan to slooooowly rack up points just by appearing. Even more so if it's a villain, which would stomp through everything then frighten all involved. Which would waste Action Tokens for yourself as you un-frighten everything.

    Heck! Even a half-decent Aggro deck could punch through it with the right cards or the right Mane. Various Orange cards would laugh at the implication of being struck with such a thing and continue onwards, one powerful card being a particular version of Maud Pie. Plus, both Rainbow Dash Manes can move friends around very easily. Un-frighten one thing then rush up to whatever's dealing points.

    The Prescription

    I would consider having a bag of lollipops on hand to give to any opponents that have to fight this thing because, when working optimally, this is brutal. I struggle to think of a Tempo Deck better equipped to make people cry.

    There are somethings that offering tender gestures of love cannot fix. At the moment, this deck is neck and neck with Nonose McSuperEvil up here. And we know his hugs are crap!

    But as I said, watch out for decent players that will likely be able to throw their own strengths in the way of your progress. Plus, remember that your off-colour has a 1/5 chance of appearing, making getting them down for the basic task of solving your own problems (let alone imposing the game wide rule changes) that much harder. You can just spam your opponent's problem for points if you're in a pinch but you leave yourself wide open for dismissal, troublemakers, soft-dismissal, 'A Simple Mixup' plays, 'Pony Charms' and agro decks forcing face-offs and stealing points from you due to a not hugely exciting flip average.

    But, frightening is a mighty thing in this deck and that does deserve recognition. If you can bring a deck to a standstill, you're sitting pretty. Even so, I would recommend finding room for some more off colour to help the deck compete when it's not being very forthcoming with the cards you need.

    Of course, if this is a gimmick deck, feel free to ignore everything I said and have fun.

    Anyway, remember: I do take requests because I am but one dithering shut-in and can only find so much new stuff to talk about. If you want to see it on here, let me know! Or offer to write it yourself.

    Again, a thing that you've always been able to do.