30 Days of Game: Elements

About two months ago, a friend sent me a link to Elements.  I played around with it for a few days to see if it would be something I was interested in, and it was.  So I backed away from it and then came at it fresh for 30 days.

If you’ve ever played and enjoyed collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering, then this is probably right up your alley.  When you begin you pick an element from Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Light, Darkness, Entropy, Gravity, Time, Aether, Life and Death.  Don’t worry about picking wrong, you can change later if you like, or just make a new account.  You’ll be given a starter deck and your first Quest: to defeat a Level 0 foe.  This first quest works like a tutorial, explaining how to play the game.  A coin is flipped to see who goes first, on your turn, if you aren’t first you draw a card, then you can play any resource cards you have and any cards you have the resources to play, and then you end your turn where any monsters you have will attack, any effects you have will process, and you’ll collect a round of resources.  The goal is to reduce your opponent to zero hit points before he does the same to you.

There are too many cards to spend any time talking about there here, but you can go to the bazaar and see them all.  You’ll earn money from winning duels, and sometimes even win cards in bonus spins after a win which you can use or sell, and you buy cards to continue constructing your deck.  If you are worried about spending money on the wrong cards, go play in the trainer that lets you have unlimited money but you can’t save your deck.

I started the game with a Death deck, built mostly on poisons and infections and boneyards (that produce skeletons when monsters die).  If you can survive long enough with this deck, you can kill just about anyone… its the surviving that is the trick.  After a while, I switched to playing Darkness, which I enjoyed more as it was definitely more active.  Basing the deck around Drains (a card that sucks life out of the opponent and gives it to you) I started regularly ending matches with 100 health and earning double the winnings.  I really ended up liking this slim deadly deck, but I felt I should also try out some others.  I played in the trainer and eventually I decided to build a deck based entirely on quantum pillars/towers (random 3 resources instead of 1 specific) and drawn resources (1 of each resource), and even went so far as to look up the ultimate god killing deck which was similar to but much better constructed than my rainbow deck.  Now I take turns playing my god killer for cash and my darkness for fun.

To be honest, this would never be a game that I played “seriously”, as in “for hours straight a day”.  But it is a very nice throwaway game to keep running in the background while you work (if your work doesn’t mind you playing games and they don’t block the site).  As a programmer, I know I occasionally need a momentary distraction from work in order to let my brain wander away from a problem so I can approach it from a new angle later, and Elements is perfect for that.  The only negative I would say exists in the game is that it is very grindy in that it takes quite a lot of time to be able to upgrade cards and build a better deck unless you play a certain way (Google “elements god killing deck”).  One “would be nice” thing is I would love to be able to build multiple decks and switch them out easily instead of having to rebuild them every time.

Overall, the game is very well constructed, it doesn’t appear to have any game breaking balance issues, and since it is free to play there is no harm in giving it a shot.  And if you enjoy playing it, feel free to throw a few dollars at the developers via their PayPal donation link.

Hellboy: The God Machine

Finally finished reading Hellboy: The God Machine. The length of time it took to read had nothing to do with the content of the book, but more to do with the time available to read. The Holiday season is always rough.

But I did finish, and it didn’t disappoint. Like the other Hellboy books I’ve read, this one, written by Thomas E. Sniegoski, had a style all its own while still retaining the nature of the Hellboy universe. I think that’s what I enjoy most about these books. Each author has a slightly different take on the narrative, but it doesn’t mess up the fact that its a Hellboy book. Its like having a bunch of different painters paint the same bowl of fruit.

This book is about a group of people led by a man who speaks to God. Well, I should say god, little ‘g’, although its close. God wants the man to build a machine to bring him to the world so that he can help them make it a better place. Or at least that’s what the voice says. In reality, the god isn’t God but Qemu’el, one of three archons created by God (big ‘G’) to destroy the world if the world needs destroying. Only God decided he liked us humans and put the archons to sleep for eternity since he didn’t want the world destroyed. Two of the archons went quietly, while one, Qemu’el, managed to rip a tiny hole in the fabric of reality so he could stay awake and monitor the world, just in case God was wrong. And of course, he thinks God was wrong. Humans are messing up the planet and don’t deserve God’s gifts, so Qemu’el wants to do God a favor and wipe out the world so that it can be started again.

Meanwhile, Hellboy and his team are on the trail of missing artifacts of worship, and it just so happens that these items are being stolen by the group mentioned above to power their God Machine.

I enjoyed the book. Sniegoski has a good writing style, and while its not as good as the Tim Lebbon book I last read in the series, its good enough and certainly worth the read. I give this book a thumbs up.


When I run pen and paper compaigns, one thing I hate most is people who want to play a paladin. This is partly due to the the fact that most people really suck at playing a paladin, and partly due to the preconceived notion of a paladin.

The white suit of armor, lance, flag, holy, goody-goody… the restrictions set forth in the book descriptions and the fairy tales… its just… boring.

To me, a paladin is simply a devout warrior of the faith, and its that second part that is the rub. What if you are a devout warrior of a god that desires the subjugation of all people under his will? Under those conditions, would lying to someone be against your faith and cost you your powers?

This is where the true essence of roleplayin comes in. A good GM, in my opinion, will work with his player to outline the tenets of his faith and determine the shape of the paladin’s persona. From this, the GM will be able to extrapolate what constitutes challenges to the faith and what would cause the paladin to lose the favor of his god.

Now… you may be wondering why the heck this even comes up. Over an EN World, someone posed the question: If Dudley DoRight is entering the city of an evil overlord, and at the gates the guards are asking people if they are paladins, would the paladin lose his god’s favor for lying in order to get into the city?

Really, its a stupid question involving a contrived situation created by a lazy GM who simply wants to trap and torture his paladin player. What reason could an evil warlord have for instructing his minions to ask “Are you a paladin?” of each person who enters the gate? But further, this whole situation would only work if the player was indeed a Lawful Good paladin who followed a god that holds honesty in high regard. It would be better if the warlord instructed his people to keep a lookout for certain crests denoting paladins and their deities. Even better, if its just the Lawful Good Dudley DoRights that he fears, would be to hire a spell caster to guard the gates with Circle of Protection from Law and Circle of Protection from Good spells, preventing the DoRights from even approaching the gate.

There are just so many better ways to handle every aspect of this.

Monday Morning Philosophy

Throughout my life, I have attempted to encapsulate large groups of my beliefs into one or two phrases that I feel sum up the whole of the thing. Religion is one of the places that I’ve done this, however whenever I say my summed up phrase to someone, they never get it.

“I don’t believe in God, but god believes in me, and sometimes that’s enough.”

The first part is misleading, intentionally, and loses a bit when its spoken because I can’t speak in uppercase and lowercase, I’m stuck with just speaking. I don’t believe in God, big “g”, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc… Organized religions, in my experience, fail, not because they accept certain limitations in their system, but because they preach and teach those limitations to others, and to a degree their structure is designed to support the continuation of the church, the physical buildings, over the continuation of the faith. But I do believe in a god. I believe that there has to be something out there greater than all that I can see, because if there isn’t… well, I don’t like the idea that this is it. Even if the “next world” is just another go round on this one, or its to spend a term as undefinable quantum energy sliding through the time space continuum until I pass through a singularity and report for my life in a negative universe… Doesn’t matter, I believe in “something”, some days its more definable or specific than others, but its always there.

The next part is the meat of it all… whatever exists out there, whether it be a scientist looking in his petri dish swirling around some chemicals or an undeniable force that guides and binds the universe, its smarter than me. And hey, I’m pretty damn smart, if not always the most intuitive. And since it created or guided or is the universe, it will never give to me more than I can handle. I might disagree sometimes, and there are days when I have broken down in tears because of the strength of my disagreement, but I do always manage to get back up, bear the new weight and survive. I even win sometimes and lighten my load. There have been times that solutions are a long time coming, or were obscured by other problems. But never, not once, have I, when it comes down to facts, ever been given a life that I cannot handle if I choose to handle it. God has given me this because it has faith in my ability to handle it.

That leads us to the final part… Given the other two parts, that I believe in something out there greater than me and that it will never burden me more than my ability to cope, my faith in those two tenets mean that no matter how rough life may get or how crappy a situation may be, I know that given effort and time I will be okay.

And sometimes that’s enough…

A Number of Reviews

Lets start with the beginning… Spider-man 2.

Oh my.

And I mean that, really. Its very rare… in fact, I’m not 100% I’ve ever encountered it… this sequel was better than the original. And when you consider how good the original was… damn. It was just simply awesome. I was amazed at the first film with how well they took Spidey from the comics to the screen, and with this film I’m just floored with how well they continued it. When Batman came out, one of the actors (I forget which) from the TV series said, "I would have gone to see Batman 2, and 3, and 4, and so on… but Batman Returns?" That’s how I felt about the Batman series, and when X2 came out, I had the same reservation. But X2 was as good as X-Men, so when hearing about Spidey 2, I thought "X-Men pulled it off… but…" I should never doubt Sam Raimi though. All my reservations vanished as the movie unfolded… I was literally on the edge of my seat at some points.

Rock on Sam Raimi… I’m in, Spider-man 3, and 4, and 5… I’m in.

Now, some quick NetFlix reviews…

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Not bad. It wasn’t like super totally mega awesome, and Jodi didn’t like the ending, but I’m satisfied. It ended how it had to end. Quality.

The School of Rock. Jack Black is god… a god of what, I’m not sure, but he’s got to be one. And the movie was good, but after seeing it, I don’t want to see it again. It wasn’t side-splittingly funny enough for me to want to own it. A thumbs up, but only one time.

Seabiscuit. I had no desire to see this movie in the theater. Horse racing? Bah! But there was buzz about it, Oscar nominations and stuff, so I was intrigued. Well, I finally saw it, and it was good. A very solid movie… a testament to the will of the person who will never give up, never quit. Two thumbs up.

Pieces of April. A good, oddly funny film about a disfunctional family at Thanksgiving. I enjoyed it. Oliver Platt is the man.

The Core. HA HA HA HA HA HA! Oh wait, its supposed to be an action thriller? … HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!! Man, oh man.. I couldn’t stop laughing at this movie. It was ridiculous, but fun.

Honey. For a movie about a dancer who gets into the music biz while trying not to leave her roots behind and open a dance program "for the kids", it wasn’t too bad. It helps that Jessica Alba is hot.

The Missing. This was good. I remember the previews. It came out at a time when there were a few horror movies out, and the preview, in its attempt not to give anything away, made it sound like a monster or ghost movie. But its not. I liked it. Ron Howard doesn’t disappoint.

And that’s all I can remember for now…

12 January 2000

I’m still alive… and still .plan’ing.
Mostly all I do these days is play EverQuest, so that’s really about all I tend to talk about. That’s why I have dedicated 2 pages to it, and am working on a third.
Outside of EQ though, I still do have the random thought, and I’ve jotted a few down. I’ll get to fleshing them out and putting them up here when I get the chance.
Also outside of EQ, I downloaded the Quake source code, and pour over that when I can. Its very interesting actually. John Carmack is a god. He throws out more (and better) code than I’ll probably ever write.
But anyway… off to play more EQ.