Tag Archives: opinion

My Favorite MTG Angel Ever Printed

myfavoriteangel
As far as favorite creature types go, Angels are number one, and have been since I started playing the game. I’ve collected one of most of the Angels printed (minus a few of the really expensive/hard-to-get-hold-of Angels), and I even have an Angel deck put together. To say I’m an Angel fan in Magic is an understatement.

But who is my favorite Angel? Surprisingly, not Akroma, as awesome as she is. Instead…

empyrialarchangel
image credit: MagicCards.info
THIS not-so-little lady became my absolute favorite Angel when Shards of Alara came out. Sure, she costs 3 different colors of mana, but she has lots of fun things going for her as well:

  • Shroud, meaning she can’t be targeted even by burn and kill spells
  • The protective “redirecting damage” clause
  • That crazy high toughness; she might not have as much punch as Akroma, but she can take more damage!

In short, Empyrial Archangel is a different flavor of Angel–less ROAR and more steadfast, less aggressive and more defensive. She’s almost like a Planeswalker Lite, since she takes damage for you. In this way, she’s very, VERY different from most of the other Angels, especially the ones which were already printed at the time she came out, but this is another plus for me. I like playing high-defense, life-protecting stuff in Magic anyway, and having all that on a favorite creature type is just icing on the MTG cake.

Sure, she may not be a battle-leader; heck, you probably won’t be sending her into combat at all, either for attacking or blocking. But Empyrial Archangel isn’t meant for that anyway. She’s meant to defend those Life Points of yours in a very different way, an unexpected way (for MTG Angels, at least)–not with a sword, but with her wings. She is one of the few Angels that exemplifies a quieter, humbler power…even while she blocks your way with an 8 toughness. 😛

How to Agitate an Extrovert

agitateextrovert
Though these days I pass as an introvert in certain situations, I am at heart an extrovert, and have always been, even according to early childhood stories from Mom and Dad.

I enjoy being around people about 5,000 times more than I enjoy being alone with no one to contact (unless I’m very sick or very tired, and even then I still hate suffering alone). When something happens to me, I want to talk about it; I want to share my experiences, I want to hear what others have to say. I feel my most alive, my most vibrant, when I am part of a loud, boisterous conversation or group music/dance performance, where the emotional energy pings back and forth between us all at lightning speeds, and the more energy you give to the gloriously chaotic situation, the more you have.

But I realize my way of life is not the way everyone lives–because I love an introvert.

I certainly don’t begrudge introverts their chosen way of living. I just couldn’t survive living as my boyfriend does; I would literally go batpoo crazy being alone all the time, not speaking up as much, not being as active in social gatherings. It’s just not how my brain or emotions work, but I love him and so I try to understand as much as I can. However, there are some things he does that are classic “introvert” behaviors, which I’ve had the hardest time understanding.

This article is written as the “other side of the coin” to “How to piss off an introvert”. We extroverts are people, too, and sometimes introverted behaviors are agitating to us. (I wouldn’t go so far as to say they “piss me off,” but I definitely get worried!) Here are 3 of the most worrying introvert behaviors, PLUS a handy cheat sheet to figuring out the extrovert(s) in your life!

Worrisome Introvert Behavior #1: The Flat “Mugshot” Expression at Parties

It’s really hard to enjoy a party when you spot somebody else sitting off by themselves who looks like they would rather be enduring a root canal. I don’t know if this goes for all extroverts or if it’s just me, but seeing somebody with that expression immediately dampens my enjoyment. I’m a “fixer” and a “nurturer,” so my immediate instinct is to go over and see what’s wrong, because obviously something’s wrong if they’re sitting there unsmiling!

Before you start arguing with me in your head, I know the counter-argument already, because my boyfriend and I have gone back and forth (jokingly) about this many times. You’re “not mad,” and you “don’t hate everything and everyone at the party.” But it sure looks like it! You look like you could be on America’s Most Wanted with that face! How am I not supposed to worry and not assume that something’s wrong? And most of all, how can I leave you alone without worrying that you’re not enjoying yourself (which makes me feel like I’m ignoring your needs and being a really bad person)?

confusedface I think I can speak for all extroverts when I say that we do get confused (and subsequently worry) about this. I’m not sure if it’s because we wear our expressions so much more vividly or because we express so much more of our emotional state outwardly, but it bugs me when somebody (aHEM, boyfriend) keeps reassuring me that they’re fine, only to elect to sit alone and have that weird “not quite frown” on their faces. I end up thinking, “If you were really that happy to be here, wouldn’t you, I don’t know, LOOK LIKE IT?”

Worrisome Introvert Behavior #2: The “Silent Treatment”

Imagine this scenario: you have been riding silently in the car with me for 45 minutes. I have tried every small-talk conversation tactic I know, talking about the most interesting things I can, asking questions, trying to draw you out so that I can communicate with you and enjoy your different perspective on things. But no matter what I do, you stare straight ahead, not replying or adding anything to the conversation, and yet insist, when questioned, that you’re not mad at me.

This happens with more people than just my boyfriend–many of the introverts I’ve met in my life have done this, and I end up confused and agitated because I don’t know what to do or say to reach them. One thing about extroverts: we show love through communication. If we don’t like you, we don’t talk to you. If I’m bothering to try to talk to you, it means I really want to get to know you, and I want to make the best impression possible. It doesn’t mean that I’m trying to talk your ear off or see how annoying I can be in 10 minutes. I just want human contact, and introverts are exotic, because y’all don’t talk a whole lot but you usually have something awesome to say when you do.

nervous So when our best conversation pitches and jokes are met with silence, we literally don’t know what to do next. Is he/she angry? Have I said something offensive? We rack our brains through the stream of recent conversation, trying to find anything that might have been even passably annoying. Does he/she actually hate me and is just tolerating me?

OK, OK, maybe not all of us extroverts are as paranoid about losing friends as I am, but you get the point. You sitting there in silence makes me feel like I’ve done something wrong, and I start getting desperate for ways to fix whatever I’ve done. (Which usually leads to more blathering as I hunt for something, ANYTHING to say to reconnect with them, and I end up bothering the heck out of them without meaning to.) This is extrovert torture supreme!

Worrisome Introvert Behavior #3: Spending Lots of Time Alone

Being alone, to an extrovert, is punishment, plain and simple. A solitary extrovert is like a device that ought to be able to connect to the Internet but can’t. How much can you do on an iPhone that can’t make calls and can’t get on the Internet, for instance? NOT MUCH! Same with extroverts; we literally don’t know what to do with ourselves without others around. We might be able to get a few things done around the house or attempt to read a book/watch a movie, but it’s just not as interesting without someone else there to talk to. (Internet or text communications only partly alleviate this; face-to-face communication time is the best.)

So, when an introvert (like my awesome boyfriend) says they want some time alone, it’s an instinctive shock. You mean you actually WANT to be alone? You mean I can’t spend time with you at ALL? Am I that draining that you have to get away from me?

You think I’m exaggerating, but for the first couple of years of our relationship, I battled against these feelings every time my “wub” said he needed alone time. I actually worked myself into a full-blown anxiety attack once, lying there alone in my bedroom, nauseated and dizzy, scared to death he was going to call any minute and break up with me because he wanted even MORE “alone time.” I didn’t yet understand that the request for alone time had nothing to do with me; it terrified me because I thought it held a lot more significance than it did.

Maybe not every extrovert is terrified of losing relationships, but we still worry. When we like people, we want to spend time with them. And introverts are usually amazing people who have vastly different perspectives on life. Y’all are fascinating and interesting–and then suddenly, you deprive us of your wonderful selves because you say you need “alone time.” Know what that translates to in extrovert-ese? “REJECTION.” Like I said, if extroverts don’t like you, we’ll avoid you. When you choose not to be around us, we may just interpret that as “you don’t like us.” The resulting emotional state we end up in resembles the dog pound scene from Lady and the Tramp:

How to Put Our Minds at Ease

The two ways of life I’ve described here, however, do not have to be diametrically opposed or hostile to each other. Here are the best ways to put our extrovert brains at ease:

  • Take a little time to explain in words what you need from us as a friend or significant other. I recognize that introverts have different emotional needs, but extroverts won’t magically understand those needs without some communication. If something we’re doing is bugging you, we need to know.
  • Suggest things we can do together that aren’t so mentally draining for you. If you hate going out to parties because they exhaust you, for instance, would there perhaps be a happy middle ground of “being social without being in public”, like hanging out and watching movies at home?

Summary/TL:DR

  • Extroverts aren’t less mature than introverts; we simply relate to others differently.
  • Extroverts are usually other-focused and thus concerned about others’ emotional welfare, especially in social situations. If you don’t look happy, we feel like bad friends/significant others for not ensuring that you’re having a good time.
  • Extroverts use conversation as the primary way to show love and/or friendship. If you’re silent, our main means of showing you we care about you is shut down.
  • Extroverts choose to spend time with those they love and appreciate. If you want alone time, it literally requires a mindset-shift for us to not read that as rejection.
  • Extroverts just want to be friendly, and sometimes that gets misread as “annoying.” Just a little explanation, however, can stop us from blathering around trying to find out what’s wrong!

HeroClix Tournament Ideas

clixtourneyideas

HeroClix tournaments, at least in my neck of the woods, are a fairly big affair. Everyone brings their strongest figures (usually out of the very newest sets), and most people spend their team-building time (and most of the week before the tournament) trying to figure out how to break the format for maximum wins in 50-minute rounds. In other words, there’s a list of reasons why I’ve quit playing the tournaments; I’m a casual player, I don’t have the money for updated figures, and I hate trying to play within a time limit.

But what if tournaments weren’t always cutthroat like this? What if there were a few tournament days thrown in there where the competition is still there, but the challenge is a little different? Read on to find out what I mean!

Idea #1: Draft-ish Tournament Out of Somebody’s Extras

Most Clix players have a huge box of extra figures lying around, figures they normally wouldn’t play with much, figures they’d be willing to trade. What if there was a tournament where the judge brought a huge box of extras and everyone built their teams on the spot, strictly out of that box?

Rules

  • Could be either a free or pay-to-play tournament (see last rule)
  • Extras box should be edited carefully to take out obvious “power pieces,” instead focusing on lesser-known pieces
  • Roll a dice to select the order of figure selection; each player then chooses one figure at a time until they each feel they have enough figures
  • Players get an hour to fine-tune their teams once the extras box is brought out
  • At the end of the tournament, players can either offer to buy any figures they really liked (if the tournament was free), or can take any of the figures they liked (if the tournament was pay-to-play).

Pros

  • Stops players from being able to search out killer combos online and acquire the figures before the tournament
  • Forces players to get creative as they search through unfamiliar figures to build a team
  • Introduces players to figures they might never have seen before, let alone played
  • Gives new or casual players a chance to try new figures and to even acquire them later if they like them

Cons

  • More experienced players can spot the better figures right away and scoop them up before newer players can get a chance
  • How do you define “power pieces?” Some figures are really awesome even though they don’t look like much (Checkmate Knight White and Experienced Destiny, anyone?).

Idea #2: Build a Team–for Someone Else!

This is a pretty simple idea; for this tournament, pure chance decides who’s going to play the team you built, and what team you’re going to end up playing with!

Rules

  • No players are told beforehand about the “switching teams” rule, just so people don’t build terrible teams for each other
  • Players are simply told to build a basic team that they feel represents their personal HeroClix style
  • All players roll two d6s at the same time; players whose dice rolls match switch teams with each other. (In the event that 3 or more people match on dice rolls, reroll between them to decide who matches up with who)
  • Once all players have been matched up and their teams switched with each other, allot 30 minutes for players to exchange team strategy ideas (basically “how does this team win,” “what do these pieces do for the strategy,” etc.”)
  • Play a normal tournament format with the switched teams; prizes should ideally be split between player and creator, because they are both responsible for any wins/losses. (See “Cons” below)

Pros

  • Builds community and cooperation as pairs of players walk each other through their strategies
  • Gives players a double challenge: play someone else’s figures AND someone else’s strategy!
  • Exposes all players, especially newer players, to how other people construct their teams–this can help new players understand what Clix strategy is all about and how they can find their own style.
  • Gives each player a chance to appreciate how another player thinks

Cons

  • Requires mature players (i.e., people who won’t break each other’s figures out of spite, try to steal said figures, purposefully make the other player’s team lose, etc.)
  • Splitting prizes between player and creator could create tension; you may have to award prizes differently (prizes go just to team player, just to team creator, etc.). If the issue comes up, put it to a vote, and then be consistent.
  • Depending on the players, there might be a few high-dollar Clix pieces on the table; again, players must be mature enough to take care of another person’s Clix figures.

Idea #3: Tournament Loser(s) Pick the Next Tournament’s Challenge

This isn’t a tournament challenge per se, but rather a way to reward all players for playing.

Rules

  • At the end of the tournament, either the lowest-scoring person or the lowest-scoring 4 players are asked what kind of tournament they would like to play next
  • Ideas are written down on slips of paper, which are folded and put into a hat or box; judge picks out an idea at random
  • The chosen idea may be improved upon/edited as needed, and then implemented for the next week’s tourney; ideas which were not chosen may be saved for later tournaments

Pros

  • Gives people who didn’t perform well in this tournament a chance to suggest a tournament idea they would be better at playing
  • Depending on the venue, this may be the only prize for losing players; it could make the experience better overall
  • Encourages creativity
  • Is another form of prize, similar to “Fellowship” prizes

Cons

  • Could possibly create a “drive to lose” in the other players, just to have power over the next tourney’s format
  • Losing player(s) could choose a terrible tournament format out of spite (this is why the judge should have power to improve or edit the chosen tournament idea)

Summary

As the above ideas show, tournaments can be challenging enough and still encourage creativity to win. Think about how you could implement these ideas at your venue!

The Curse of Unforgiveness

unwilling
image source
forgiveness
image source
When we refuse to forgive someone, usually we think we’re punishing them in some way. “They don’t deserve my forgiveness!” we might think. “They hurt me, they betrayed me–they deserve for me to shun them the rest of my life!” And in those angry, bitter moments, our feelings seem completely righteous; we are hurt, so they deserve to hurt, too, and the best way we can think of to hurt them is to take our friendship and common courtesy away.

Unforgiveness as a Personal, Long-Term Struggle

I struggle with unforgiveness myself, as a victim of severe school bullying from kindergarten through 9th grade. I often said I forgave the people who verbally and physically abused me, but I didn’t–I held the grudge for years, silently judging each former bully by their action, remaining angry with them long after they even forgot what they did to me. The fact that they forgot even stoked my anger more; I found myself thinking “How dare they forget, like it didn’t matter, when they HURT me?! They deserve to be hurt by my hatred!”

Unforgiveness as a Futile Exercise

But therein lies the problem, one that I wasn’t able to wrap my brain around until just the last few years. Who am I actually hurting when I refuse to forgive someone? I’m obviously not hurting the other person, if they can forget what they did. I’m obviously not teaching them a social lesson, when no one else remembers the hurt done to me. What good is it to refuse someone else forgiveness, when all it does is keep refreshing the hurt in my mind, and keep me angry? Anger causes stress, and stress is a KILLER, as I have discovered with my recent stress-related illnesses.

Unforgiveness feels right, feels like exactly the thing we ought to do, especially when our lives have been changed by someone else’s thoughtless words or actions. But it won’t help us in the long run–it will only dampen our own life enjoyment, and potentially even shorten our lives, with NO effect on the other person whatsoever.

I am the last person who needs to give advice on how to forgive, since I’m apparently awful at it, but I do recognize that it needs to happen–first because it’s the Christian thing to do, realizing I too am a sinner in need of forgiveness, and second because I am tired of living with the burden of my own rage and bitterness.

I Hate Slideshow Articles!

hateslideshows

As an Internet user, I inwardly groan upon discovering that an article I really wanted to read is actually a slideshow. In fact, it’s one of my top pet peeves of Web content formatting!

I’m not alone in this opinion: there are articles about why slideshows should be banned entirely, as well as workarounds for those of us who hate slideshows and other multi-page articles. (There are a few people who defend slideshows as a practice, but even they admit that the format can be overused.)

Since I’m both a Web content consumer AND a Web content writer, I studied this problem from both angles. Why do slideshows bother me so much, as a user, and why might Web content formatters choose this format when so many users hate it? The 4 following reasons explain why:

Why We Should Stop Using Slideshow Article Format

#1: It’s basically a strategy for getting page ads to load more often per user.

Above all, this is what irritates me about slideshow articles: they are invariably riddled with ads (including that dadgum “Ad Slide” that always pops up right in the middle of my reading and disrupts my whole thought flow). It actually feels like the content formatters are highlighting the ads INSTEAD of their content.

News flash: users hate ads! As a user, I don’t care if those ads are “paying for your site”–I don’t want to be bothered with them, ESPECIALLY not when I’m trying to read your admittedly interesting content. Making me click through a 10 or 12-page article just so you can get a few more cents feels like a huge tease. (And as a content writer, I know that the LAST thing we ever want to do is make our users feel like we think of them as money-generators and nothing else.)

#2: Because each slide is so short, the articles end up feeling skimpy on content.

You’d think that if an article is 10 pages, it would actually have some decent content, right? But unfortunately, in the slideshow format, article content is often compressed and badly written to fit alongside or under pictures. Each slide usually contains maybe 5 sentences, which may be enough to satisfy some users, but leaves this English major feeling pretty cold. Explanations are often glossed over in favor of using a picture that usually doesn’t really explain anything, and so the whole article feels rather useless.

Being a largely text-based content creator, I don’t want to waste my users’ time with insipid articles like the ones I end up clicking through all too often. If I’m taking the time to write an article, I want my users to feel like they’ve really learned something at the end of it. And I’d rather not have the format of the article steal emphasis away from my content.

#3: Slideshows don’t work well on mobile devices.

I’ve noticed this while trying to read slideshow articles on my tablet and smartphone–slideshows (especially the pictures!) are usually so huge that the mobile screen has to be scrolled around the page to read everything. And what if the screen can’t be zoomed out or in? Sorry, this content just isn’t visible, and you wasted your time clicking on this article. (Trust me, it’s happened more often than not!) There are some websites I actually just don’t visit on mobile (though I’d like to), because all their articles are slideshows and I can never read the content anyway. (Not to mention that tapping your touchscreen to advance to the next slide is very frustrating when you have big fingers and are trying to target small buttons/text!)

I realize that there are quite a few hurdles to jump when it comes to making slideshows mobile-friendly. In fact, the whole slideshow format seems ill-equipped to handle mobile users in general, from what I’ve been able to see. With that in mind, why aren’t we moving away from slideshow format to something that actually works on all devices?

#4: It makes reading the article take a lot longer.

Admittedly, this is probably my impatience/A.D.D. talking, but I am a fast reader and prefer to scan articles rather than sit and read each line word by word. Having to stop reading to click on to the next slide is an unnecessary block in my information digestion process. Not to mention that the pictures take longer to load than the text, and sometimes the slideshow article software decides to hang in the middle of the article. All of these factors make reading slideshow articles much more of a drag than they ought to be.

Those of us who write and format content for the Web have to be careful of frustrating our users like this. After all, a frustrated user is a non-returning user. Do we REALLY want people turned off from our awesome content because of the way we formatted it?

Fat-Shaming is Pointless

yourresponsetomybody
image source

myonlyweightproblem
image source

The two images above explain exactly why fat-shaming is pointless. When people judge someone harshly based on their weight, insinuating that they’re lazy, disgusting, mentally slow/disturbed, etc., they are making all sorts of assumptions about them which have no basis in fact. The only thing fat-shamers are REALLY saying is “I don’t like how your body looks.”

I dealt with this a LOT during middle and high school, and I still get people occasionally who think that because of my size, I am something to pity or someone who needs “advice” on how to “live properly***.” I used to take people’s opinions of my body very seriously, because I thought they were telling me the truth about what I was–that I was disgusting and horrible and didn’t deserve to live.

But no more. Now my response to fat-shaming is: “WHO CARES?” Certainly not this big girl. If they don’t like my body, fine–it isn’t theirs to worry about.

***Note: Medical obesity IS a definable problem which keeps a person from being able to live normally because of body size. Recovery from obesity should be treated as seriously as any disease is treated, with the proper emotional support instead of just shaming the people who “ended up this way.” Why? Because there are usually multiple medical causes of obesity (thyroid problems, stress, hormonal imbalance, medicine reactions, lower body injury/instability, etc.). (And no, we don’t all sit on our couches going through boxes of Twinkies! If you think overeating is the sole cause of medical obesity, then please educate yourself.)

Medical obesity is not what I’m speaking of in this post; “fat-shaming” occurs mostly because a person’s body does not conform to current size standards of beauty, which are highly Photoshopped and thus unrealistic anyway.

Winning’s Nice, but Don’t Forget Fun

winningsnice

When was the last time you played a game and had fun with it?

Seems like a dumb question, but I’m quite serious. When did you last let go of trying to “achieve” stuff in a game, trying to “beat” the game, and just played?

Much of our gaming culture these days, whether we’re playing on tabletops, consoles, or even our smartphones, is about “beat this level, win this digital prize, beat the next level, finish the game,” and so on. It’s incredibly goal-driven, and that’s perfectly fine. But is that our only definition of “fun”–to work hard at defeating mental challenges? I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find the work of gaming to be just that–work. When you’re grinding out levels on an MMO, or desperately seeking cheat codes or walkthroughs to get through that one pesky level, sometimes it feels more like an obligation.

In those times, I seek out games that are less goal-driven, more exploratory (and some might say “boring”). But for me, gaming is not simply about showing that I can conquer challenges; it’s about giving my brain a little rest in a virtual world. And I think this is just as valid a game experience as the highly-goal-driven stuff we’re exposed to more and more. I’ve met players who seem so immersed in the culture of “winning” that their chosen game has become like a job to them, a huge yet non-fun part of their identity–it’s hard to play against them or alongside them, because of that, but I realize that I, too, can end up taking games way too seriously as well.

Don’t get me wrong, gaming goals are great, and sometimes fun can accompany the accomplishment of those goals…but don’t let the pursuit of those goals keep you from having fun. After all, it IS just a game. 😀