I’ve been vaguely hyping this up for a while, so I’m excited to finally talk about it.
A few weeks ago I had a lovely conversation Paul Yanover, the President of Fandango. I put together a Spotlight all about his career path from being a software-writing USC graduate to heading one of the largest names in the movie/entertainment industry, and it’s one of my favorite pieces.
Not just because he’s a big, recognizable name to promote either — though that does help. Mostly because he had a lot of great advice for anyone interested in managerial positions.
There he learned that he was better with interpersonal relations than programming, which led to him “making a positive difference” as an advocate for the animator clientele he and other engineers were serving.
He had a lot to say about the value of recognizing one’s emotional quotient as an indicator of leadership potential, while recommending those who aspire to lead teams make sure they practice working with diverse staff who learn in different ways.
Even with all that condensed from a 4,000+ word interview to a 1,000-ish word story, there was plenty more I couldn’t include.
Such as the quote that made its way into my Featured Image!
All-and-all, Paul Yanover was a great conversationalist with some excellent advice. I’m happy I got a bit of his time, even if it meant rushing to my car after class so I could lock myself in a quiet place, as the interview had been rescheduled once already. And also working some extra photos through corporate HR departments.
As is the life of a soon-to-be-not-student journalist.
Full disclosure, the way I got an in for this interview was because my Dad passed my interest along as an employee at Fandango.
He had nothing to do with the process beyond that introduction. The closest he came to being involved was when Yanover suggested I sound like the old man over the phone.
But wait, that’s not all folks!
I haven’t had the chance to talk about this yet either, but a Spotlight I wrote about Jason Ray, Senior Content Producer at HTC Vive, also got published recently.
Here he is being a total badass with some virtual reality gear. Because if you haven’t heard of Vive, it’s one of the more well-known virtual reality headsets on the market right now — a field that has been growing substantially (in gaming especially) for the last few years.
Jason Ray up there helps to create the games in said virtual reality, which is awesome.
I’m obviously more interested in the writing side, but I do have aspirations to work on video games. So getting to talk to someone in the industry was pretty cool.
Especially since he too has a long history of working with companies like Activision and Konami, which let him touch properties like Yu-Gi-Oh!
Ray also had some great things to say about working on teams, so it’s definitely worth a read! There’s going to be more coming from me on that subject down the line, so I won’t go too deep on the matter now.
It defined my life when I started back then, but I’ve completely abandoned the game after a nearly two-year streak.
I blame a combination of exhaustion with the gameplay and a distinct lack of time to pass around.
I’m not going to say I regret the decision necessarily. Plus it’s still on my phone, and can be reopened at any time.
But the timing felt poignant on the eve of this anniversary.
However, the more stand-out example of a recurring college experience happened when I stopped to get gas on the way home. Because I won’t be at that Shell station I use during my commutes for at least a week, I was thinking about how I might not have to use it much longer.
But don’t worry, I’m not actually getting sentimental about a gas station. Only a specific story related to that gas station.
About two-or-three years ago when I was News Editor at the Daily Titan, I found myself looking for things to drive our Copy Editors Kyle Bender and Ashley Haley crazy.
My favorite discovery was a completely misspelled word in the gas pump digital display. It was very obvious, and given the high traffic through that station I expected it to get fixed quickly.
Here we are in 2019 and that same spelling error is there:
It’s astounding to me that this is still there. I’m 100 percent certain they’ve changed out all the pumps since I saw this the first time, yet nothing has changed.
This is why we need Copy Editors, folks. Otherwise these mistakes live on forever.
That’s all I had to say. Go pay your copy editors.
In the meantime, I’m going to go start whatever semblance of a break I have.
Yet I have plenty of experience collecting Pokémon cards as well! Looking back at my most recent room renovation, you can actually see a Jirachi card hanging out with my other mythical wish-granter merchandise:
But that and the Gardevoir set I keep under my desktop keyboard for good luck…
… is only the tip of the iceberg.
My parents like to tell the story of how they had original card packs for one of the first sets in the Pokémon TCG, which would have been amazing collectors items today. However, I had no interest in them at that point.
So they got rid of them.
Hilarious considering how much I wound up getting into collecting the cards:
Back when I collected most of these, it really did just amount to collection. Like with my physical Yu-Gi-Oh! cards, I never actually played the game.
Watching it get played again inspired me to jump in. But this time I didn’t go back to my 3DS.
I re-downloaded the official Trading Card Game online.
I say re-downloaded because I did have a brief attempt at playing the game before (as you’ll see from my cringe-worthy screen name based on some half-assed character), but it didn’t stick quite as well as my recent deep dive.
For those of you who have never played the Pokémon Trading Card Game, I figure a very brief synopsis of how it works is in order.
Each player starts with a 60-card deck, out of which they draw seven cards for a hand and six prize cards. There are two primary win conditions in the game. You either draw all of your prize cards by defeating a Pokémon, or you defeat all of your opponent’s Pokémon so they can no longer play.
There are six kinds of cards in the game:
Pokémon: The monsters are your primary players. Each has a set amount of health, specific moves they can use when given energy and sometimes abilities that can affect your play environment.
Pokémon can evolve by placing the next stage card on top of a basic card, but not on the same turn that basic card is played.
There are also “EX” or “GX” cards that are powerful and have strong abilities, but allow your opponent to draw two prize cards instead of one if defeated.
Energy: Energy is required in specific typings to use an attack, unless that requirement is a basic white star — any energy can fill that requirement.
Items: Provide a variety of effects from healing to drawing cards. Can be used as many times as they are drawn per turn.
Supporters: Typically based off of major characters or NPCs from the video games, these cards are usually advanced versions of items that can only be used once per turn.
Tools: Can be attached directly to one Pokémon as a buff, such as increased damage or defense.
Stadium: Applies an effect to both sides of the field, similar to certain abilities. Only one can be in-play, and playing a second Stadium overturns the first.
The balance of Pokémon and energy placement, where only one is active at a time and players can set up the team in their back row, feels a lot more complex than Yu-Gi-Oh!’s basic gameplay style.
However, all of the Trainer cards seem a lot more focused on draw power and health restoration than Yu-Gi-Oh!’s Spells and Traps, which have a daunting amount of variety and often incentivize playing to a narrowed archetype.
That said, I love both games.
Here’s an example of me playing with a Psychic-type deck I built.
Video’s a bit choppy, so be warned. Though it shouldn’t be nearly as bad as my Armagetron video.
As you can tell, the primary focus of my deck is to build up to Gallade or Lunala (mostly the latter).
I don’t have quite as many GX or EX cards as a lot of players who have clearly been playing longer, but Lunala being a Stage 2 legendary means card designers balanced the trouble of getting her out with some powerful attack output.
It has worked wonders for me thus far, and I’ve been building up my digital card collection using booster packs from the Trainer Challenge mode…
… As well as theme decks bought using coins from Versus duels…
… To create a few different decks.
While I think the card game itself has some unique complexities that stand out compared to Duel Links (which I’ve fallen out of favor with and replaced my vice apparently), what really keeps me going with the Pokémon TCG is how amazing the card art is.
See Yu-Gi-Oh! cards are always the same for a given card, unless they get altered for balance down the line.
But Pokémon cards for each monster can have a variety of attacks, abilities and even types in different printings. Each of those new prints also has a new piece of artwork.
Here’s a small slideshow of some of the really cute cards I’ve found in my relatively short time playing.
That’s the real charm of the Pokémon TCG. That’s what keeps me playing.
I’m sure many of you saw ‘Jason plays the Pokémon Trading Card Game’ and groaned. Hopefully I gave you enough visual spectacle and explanation to understand why I’ve been so hooked on this stuff.
Because as much as I keep joking about how playing this game out of everything I could be doing in 2019 will ruin my reputation… What can I say.
It’s never a bad day when you get home at 3:00 p.m. Especially when there’s enough of an endorphin rush from getting a solid grade on that Sensation and Perception research paper rough draft to counteract the dejection of finding out thefinal exam won’t be curved like the midterms were.
I’m not at all bitter about being told about it just two weeks before the exam.
You can tell by the way I definitely did not start this post off with a paragraph-long rant.
But hey that being said, at least I got home early right? Which means I had plenty of extra time to get started on my homework for the weekend.
Ahaha, haha, ha.
Yeah no, I just watched YouTube all afternoon.
Don’t give me that look, viewing public. It was a long week, okay? I just wanted to go home and veg out a little.
Oh boy, here I am arguing with the empty void that I’m pretending is a robust audience.
Let’s just stop filling in empty space on this post and get to the point.
For instance, the YouTube videos I’ve been watching.
Yeah that’s right this is another recommending YouTube channels post. Don’t pretend like you didn’t see that coming.
Even if this is a makeshift post thanks to events I had planned getting cancelled, it is based on something I was thinking about in the shower this morning.
See I recently discovered a new video game reviewing YouTuber who has sent me down the rabbit hole of binging every old video out of sheer love for the great new entertainment.
His name is RadicalSoda, and for the most part he does a lot of Sonic-related stuff from what I’ve seen. But also his Kingdom Hearts 2 and bad Pixar PS2 games videos have stood out to me.
The reason why he’s relevant in the conversation I set up for myself is because a few videos in I found out that my new favorite long-haired dudebro is from New Zealand.
Land of the Hobbit and… Usurping old Zealanders. I guess.
I don’t know anything about New Zealand.
But that’s kind of the point! I know literally nothing about New Zealand, yet thanks to the magic of an open content creation platform like YouTube I’m able to see his creative energy and sense of humor come to life.
It’s kind of awesome to imagine, and I’m not sure I would have thought about it too much if I wasn’t already primed by seeing my own blog’s analytics.
Naturally I couldn’t help but think about other YouTube personalities I watch who aren’t based in the United States, because this would have been a very boring post if it was just lots of rambling only to have one recommendation at the end.
So I have other recommendations. For instance, Caddicarus is a channel I’ve been following for some time that’s based in England and also does video game-related content more often than not.
In a similar vein I’ve gotten very into watching another British YouTuber, I Hate Everything. He has a massive backlog of interesting videos just talking about dumb things in general or talking about dumb movies specifically.
His channel also got me introduced to Ralphthemoviemaker, who also does some fantastic movie reviews… But he’s in the U.S. so I’m not counting that right now.
The only other big international name I can think off the top of my head is RANK10YGO, but he’s arguably the most niche suggestion I can offer to a general audience.
All he does is Yu-Gi-Oh! videos. Specifically informational videos about different card archetypes in the game.
Which are fantastic if you want to find out more about the game like I did after getting real into Duel Links. But I imagine it isn’t for everything.
Unless you happen to like somewhat deadpan, meme-ridden humor. In which case he’s your man!
Also he’s apparently from Montenegro. Just in case you were wondering why he fit into this whole international shindig.
So yeah, there’s a bunch of (mostly) international YouTube suggestions that you can check out if you’re interested. For me it’s a pretty great reminder that the Internet isn’t just a cesspool of dumb crap.
It’s a place where people from literally all over the world can share their creativity for even random Joe’s like me to see.
Even if their creativity is just dumb crap, it’s still pretty awesome to think about.
If you have any international content creators you want to recommend, I’d be happy to hear all about them!
Everyone’s had those moments where they hear a song — be it in the background of a T.V. show, on the radio or a restaurant backing track, or whatever it may be — and can’t quite put their finger on what that song is.
If you haven’t had that moment because you have a photographic memory or something… Well the I’m sorry to be leaving you behind with this topic.
I have those kinds of moments fairly often, as I am a fan of a range of music but am not necessarily an audiophile like my Dad and sister.
But I’m not here to talk about remembering specific songs.
Rather, I’d like to talk briefly about what I would consider a much less discussed but equally prominent concern: Identifying exactly what category it sounds like that song should belong in.
I don’t mean something like “pop song” versus “rock song” versus”country song,” or whatever the overall genre might be. This is specifically about those times where a song sounds like other songs you’ve heard before, but you can’t quite put your finger on exactly what that similar sound is.
Now. This is an odd conversation topic on my blog I’m sure, considering I don’t talk too often about the particulars of music. I tend to just stick to the generals of “my sister played a thing” if I do bring it up.
But in this case the context suggests that it’s not a thing my sister played, because she doesn’t play video games anymore.
Yeah I’m still on that bit, Aly
See recently Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links got a major update. A much-needed one for me, as I was starting to drift away from the game.
Until they added on the next generation, 5D’s, and a novel (for me) summoning style called Synchro summoning.
Learning a brand new way to duel has gotten me right back into the swing of things. Synchros offer up an interesting level of field management that Ritual monsters attempted to hit but couldn’t, as you need to have a specific “tuner” monster on the field alongside a specific number of stars to summon a Synchro monster.
So many of the cards being added as a result are interested in flooding the field with monsters and augmenting the number of stars on a monster, that way you can summon things with specific requirements. It’s just the kind of micromanaging that makes me love to do things like deck build.
Which… Who knows, I just might do again soon.
Look out for some Synchro deck profiles, possibly.
But for right now that’s off-topic. The only reason I gave all that context is to get to the point that a new season of the anime being added into the game also means new characters to play.
New characters means new battle tracks. One in particular has caught my ear so far:
Meet Akiza Izinski. I know literally nothing about her because I never watched 5D’s.
But I do know that in Duel Links she has absolutely amazing battle music.
I have to say, as much as I like a wide range of music, video game soundtracks are definitely at the top of my list. I could go on-and-on about different songs I adore from various games.
In fact, I’ve been considering doing video game music posts around here. Just haven’t really had the time to hash out a specific style for it.
But Akiza’s theme here is a real prime example of the kind of tune I can just melt into.
Then the song continues to build until about 30 seconds in, when the real magic begins.
At that point, the piano is co-opted by some kind of Theremin-sounding track that gives everything a techno/haunted house feel.
Even when the Theremin bits disappear, the song keeps its haunting undertone despite somehow also bringing a lot of battle-ready energy to the table.
The song overall is just really well-done, and makes grinding for cards against Akiza a real pleasure.
My problem is, as much as I can (somewhat haphazardly) explain the emotions that this song elicits, it’s hard for me to place exactly what the song reminds me of. Because it definitely reminds me of SOMETHING.
It’s no surprise that I’ve become a bigger fan of mobile phone games in recent years.
I’ve been a hardcore GameBoy/DS fanatic throughout my childhood. Yet, despite certain phone games of widespread popular fervor like Angry Birds or Pocket God making their way into my gaming lexicon, overall the app market never truly broke into my big leagues.
That is, until big companies I already loved like Nintendo started to get into the market with more substantial titles.
However, even if the app market is getting more respectable with these kinds of big, time-intensive titles… It’s still not perfect.
Tons of games, even the ones I’ve referenced up above, still rely on gimmicky microtransaction bs that attempt to force players with no patience to spend extra money.
While many are free, to be fair, and some are even arguably worth spending money in for all the content they offer on a free model… It’s still a bit of a disgusting practice. Especially when we start to see it slip into mainstream console gaming with titles like Star Wars Battlefront II (the bad one, not the amazing PS2 one).
I bring all of this up to let you know that I recognize the flaws in the mobile gaming market despite my recent embrace of it.
Because it should give you all some context behind why I feel so disgusting with my latest embrace of Disney’s Crossy Road.
Man I feel like I need a shower just saying that.
Let’s be fair to the game and it’s developers before I just shit all over the whole model.
Hipster Whale, from my point of view at least, became a rather popular niche developer for the phone market by embracing the classic style of Frogger and using it to create a game full of wacky charm with Crossy Road.
It was quite literally a game where you were a chicken crossing the road. As if you were playing Frogger.
Completely silly and derivative, but honestly genius in a “I can’t believe I didn’t think of this idea” kind of way. That charm, along with about a billion unlockable characters set in a game where the goal was to obviously push little kids to spend money, led to a title that grossed well and spawned a billion spin-offs.
Disney Crossy Road is arguably the most despicable of these spin-offs. On the one hand because it’s quite literally just the original game with a new coat of paint. But also because, well, Disney is attached to it.
If that’s not the most money-grubbing thing I can imagine, I don’t know what is.
Yet, despite seeing this much just by looking at the game’s title screen… My sister and I are hooked.
We found the game while hanging out with our friends the other day and downloaded it on our Apple TV just for the memes. At the time it was perfect for that, especially when we picked up a totally random character from a movie we loved.
But then we both downloaded the game to our phones after that. The rest, as they say, is history.
Obviously the biggest draw to this game specifically is the Disney tie-in. Collecting characters from your favorite movies to play with.
Especially toward the beginning, it’s all fun and games as they clearly give you large rewards on a frequent basis to keep summoning new characters from a slot machine.
It’s about as blatant as psychological manipulation gets, as soon enough the “three minutes to next reward” becomes “one hour to next reward,” and so on.
Yet there’s also enough ways to get around spending money that I can inherently understand the appeal.
Coins are scattered throughout each procedurally-generated run, and collecting 100 of them allows you to roll for a new character.
The game also frequently gives players 30-second advertisements to watch for a free 20 coins. More obvious manipulation, but easy enough to set the game aside for half a minute just to score some extra cash.
My one significant problem with the lottery system comes from the fact that you aren’t guaranteed to unlock something new each time. Even when I had only unlocked about six characters out of the near-200 across a variety of popular Disney movies, I still got a second copy of The Sultan from Aladdin.
They do give you other collectible tickets for duplicates that can be spent on things like higher-end character lotteries, but still. I can tell it’ll be more annoying in the long-run.
Also, I just have to say it. There are also some really bad character designs. Like the single-pixel butt and breasts model of Mirage.
And don’t even get me started on Simba’s hilarious facial expression.
Some lame characters aside, the gameplay is simple and effective. Like I said, it’s just Frogger. But with Disney characters.
You tap to go forward and swipe to move from side-to-side and avoid obstacles.
Yet Disney Crossy Road actually stands out quite well because of how it utilizes it’s gimmick, in my opinion. There’s clearly a large amount of effort put in to make each world and each character unique to the movies they came from.
Just look at the variety in the different environments you can play on:
Each movie set not only brings aesthetic elements into this kind of janky Minecraft style, they also have unique mechanics.
For example, the Mulan world has a lucky cricket drop that can save you from death once.
The Lilo & Stitch world is covered with fruits that can be collected and turned into an old lady to add extra points to your run length without you having to actually go those extra steps.
The Jungle Book world is literally always on fire because of frequent lightning strikes.
There’s something like this in every world, and while the same three or four overall level gimmicks do repeat themselves, each is unique enough to stand out.
Characters have unique skills as well.
The Grand Councilwoman from Lilo and Stitch can find a special Prisoner Jumba character of she travels far enough.
Meanwhile, Calhoun from Wreck-It Ralph shoots her gun at certain cars in the road to give you a big score multiplier. You can’t control when she does it, but still.
There’s also a certain amount of charm seeing each and every character face plant against the side of a car (or a person depending on the technology of a given world).
The music in the game is also noteworthy. Each movie’s world utilizes a famous song recreated in a pretty great chiptune style. Beauty and the Beast plays “Be Our Guest.” Aladdin plays “One Jump Ahead.” Lion King plays “I Just Can’t Wait to be King.”
I do wish some songs appeared over others, like “This is Halloween” instead of “What’s This?” for Nightmare before Christmas. But that’s a nitpicky complaint all things being equal.
Despite being repeated in such a short segment to become ear-grating over time, all of the songs are well-constructed. The game itself pushes its own soundtrack, and I’d argue its worth downloading.
There’s only 23 worlds in the game, with some obvious choices like Sleeping Beauty or Hercules missing in place of obvious lame tie-ins like the Tim Burton Alice Through the Looking Glass. But, and I hate to say it, I’m interested to keep going and see if they add more down the line.
I know, I know. This strange review of Disney Crossy Road is out of left field. Especially when I haven’t even written anything on Hollow Knight, like I wanted to.
Hell, it just frankly feels wrong for me to be spending time on this obvious microtransaction bait of a game when there’s some phenomenal titles I could be playing. Like the aforementioned Hollow Knight. Or Enter the Gungeon.
After spending most of the afternoon melting into a puddle of goo on the couch, struggling to come up with something to write about in the heat-laden haze post-Gladeo meeting, I think I’ve finally just decided to give up for the night.
I really have nothing to talk about right now, and my brain is too mushy from the 100+ degree temperatures here in California today to feel my obligatory post is worth stressing over tonight.
So how about this. I’ll just use this post as a ‘things to come’ set-up of sorts.
People like that right?
With my work meeting this morning came the confirmation that both of the Career Spotlights and the Career Profile I’ve been working on are going through the editing process, so they should be published online any day now. As they come around I’ll be sure to talk about them in more detail.
However, if it’s anytime in the near, near future (though that’s somewhat doubtful from where they are in the process), I might hold off talking about them for a day or two. I have a pretty succinct idea for what my posts will hold for a period of time.
Tomorrow I’m going to go to Old Fort MacArthur Days with Aly and a few of my friends. I’ll probably throw out a post with a slideshow of cool things we see like I did last year – but this time I’ll know how to include videos, too.
Sunday I’m going to see Ant Man and the Wasp with my family. I’ll do one of my mini reviews on that after I see it.
There’s also an update to Fire Emblem Heroes coming on the eighth, but I haven’t quite decided whether I want to post two things on a day or whether I should hold off the mobile game update for Monday to take up some extra space. Supposedly there might be another new banner on the 10th as well, but I don’t have personal confirmation for that.
Though speaking of extra space filler, I also have a couple posts in my drafts folder. One is a slightly more extended discussion on Funko Pops I’ve been cooking up, as I have a personal issue with something regarding their business practices.
There might also be a couple Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links deck profiles I can throw together on some decks I’ve been having fun with lately. Especially one featuring Shining Flare Wingman, who I discussed my love for a bit ago.
Beyond that I’m also interested in doing a couple of ‘nostalgic’ sort of posts examining things I haven’t looked at in a long time.
Also also, I’ve begun to put some work into my Honors Project proposal, and especially with the help of my friends I’ll likely have something to chat about in regards to that once I have more succinct views about what my novel-in-progress will include.
Otherwise… Yeah. That’s about all I have to discuss in terms of forward-thinking blog post ideas.
Right now I’m just kind of sitting here in the lukewarm heat of the nightfall, wallowing in a food coma following a nice meal with my parents at one of my favorite restaurants and catching up on some T.V. shows.
Oh, speaking of, I suppose I also might expect a post talking about Luke Cage season 2 at some point in the near future. Because if we finish that show anytime soon I’m definitely willing to talk about it.
Otherwise let me know if there’s anything you might be interested in seeing around here! I’m pretty open to ideas if there are any going around you might want to see me discuss.
With the latest Tag Duel Tournament ending in Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links soon, I wanted to take the chance to talk about something regarding the event I’ve been interested in since it started.
It has nothing to do with the event itself, as I quite like how Tag Duels work in balancing two duelists fighting on the same team.
No, what I’m interested in is the new reward cards that came from the event. Namely, this one:
Say hello to Elemental HERO Shining Flare Wingman.
This pretty cool looking card right here, for all intents and purposes, is kind of useless when you give it a critical eye. It’s attack and defense stats are okay, but underscored by the fact that it’s a fusion monster that requires a second fusion monster just to summon it.
That’s a fairly difficult summoning condition for the uninitiated, as it means you need three different monster cards and two copies of polymerization just to get him out. His inherent abilities do help him stand out, as he gains at least 1200 attack instantly from all of the HERO monsters in the graveyard just required to summon, then everything he beats over inflicts damage once sent to the grave…
But still. The summon is a tough sell when he has no real protection from any kind of destructive spells or traps.
I’m not here to discuss the merits of this card as a viable battle strategy, however. Even if seeing him added into Duel Links has inspired me to try building a deck around him.
I’m here to discuss the reason why seeing Shining Flare Wingman brought a huge wave of happiness and nostalgia running through my system. Check this out:
I mean that too, I don’t think I ever seriously read through this thing. I just loved looking at the cool monster pictures on it and inside of it.
To this day, the Shining Flare Wingman edition of Beckett’s Yu-Gi-Oh! magazine is still the only one I own, and seeing his arrival in Duel Links brought the memories of it flooding back. Luckily it just took a quick dig through my 2006-ish era comic books to find the thing.
But those are a story for another day.
Now that I’m older and actually interested in the world of media, I actually perused the magazine with a more analytical eye.
That’s probably not a surprise to many of you, but I seriously never bothered to look it up before now. I just always thought of this magazine as “The Yu-Gi-Oh! monster thing.”
At its core, the magazine as a whole is just a conduit to show off what cards are available for what prices online.
In 2006 anyway.
Obviously that’s not all that useful for me anymore. So instead, the really fascinating thing about this magazine is what they fill the rest of this thing with.
It’s 88 pages long, and honestly a perfect feature-writer handbook for how to built an interested following with content related to what’s being sold.
Seriously it’s got everything. News about the card game:
Profiles on cards and decks, much like the Shining Flare Wingman deck that’s advertised on the cover:
But then there’s the more fun stuff that shows how interested whoever put these things together was in not only the card game, but the culture surrounding it.
There are articles all about things like the anime throughout the magazine, which I’m sure appealed to me because the anime was my route into Yu-Gi-Oh!
Top tens and episode reviews.
Seriously, this thing is like the perfect analog representation of exactly what you’d expect to see from fandom-driven sites online today.
It’s like Buzzfeed before Buzzfeed. Except all about Yu-Gi-Oh!
And much more my speed.
Of course there’s also other magazine mainstays, like this section all about reader-submitted fan art:
Shout out to Michael from Utah for truly capturing the anime mood.
Seeing this part of the magazine in particular reminds me a lot of the old Highlights magazines, those book-centric ones everyone would get from book fairs in elementary school.
All it needs is a few hidden object games and I would be 100 percent down.
On the bright side, in place of those kinds of games, this magazine also talked about Yu-Gi-Oh! video games.
So hey, it’s got my best interest at heart.
Most of the rest is just advertisements and and pages upon pages of sales figures for individual cards.
While those are interesting in their own right just to take a glimpse back at early 2006, as it seems these things came out bimonthly, I definitely think my biggest takeaway is how awesome all of the extra surrounding content is.
Seriously, looking through how much fun the creators must have had pulling together all of these feature-y articles kind of inspires me to be a bit more interested in the features side of the journalism spectrum.
And all because a mobile phone game dropped a somewhat useless monster that gave me a rush of nostalgia 12 years after a seminal moment in my youthful development.
Duel Links has kind of fallen out of favor in my phone app priority list for some time now.
It’s not that I don’t still love the game. I do. But Konami has a tendency to… Power creep a little faster than I’m comfortable with as a free-to-play user.
By power creep, I mean they add a new box of cards about once every two-to-three weeks. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand why that’s the decision they’ve made. New boxes mean a host of new cards that redefine the Player vs. Player metagame and keep the community thriving with new strategies.
It makes sense and is arguably a good business decision.
But because I don’t pay to buy the new boxes out, I wind up still stuck using a slowly accumulating set of gems to buy out older boxes while people are kicking everyone around with the newest stuff. While I still love the game for the computer-driven content that’s also constantly being added in, having myself be stuck in place on the PvP ladder because I can’t get past the newest, strongest card combinations without dumb luck is frustrating.
The PvP is half the draw of Duel Links, as it’s the real place to test out decks and earn good rewards. So it’s a shame that being so frustrated with it has taken away some of the fun of the game for me right now.
However, in the face of that frustration, I’ve decided to take a different approach than just giving up.
On April 26, the character level cap for every Legendary Duelist in the game was increased from 40 to 45. This meant a number of things for the game, but most notably: More gems and a new character-specific card for each duelist.
Many of the new level-up cards are just okay at best in my opinion. But two of them specifically stood out. Yami Yugi and Arkana both received a new support card for the Dark Magician archetype.
Seeing those two additional cards and remembering how much fun I used to have playing my Dark Magician/Dark Magician Girl combo deck inspired me to try to play a fun, nostalgic deck again rather than a purely meta-driven one.
Thus, my ‘Dark Magic Destruction’ deck was born.
It’s not the best deck in the world, but it has a bunch of super fun combo pieces that I’ve been enjoying playing more than most everything else since counter-fairies got a short-lived buff a few months back.
Because I’ve been having so much fun with the old DM, I wanted to bring back something from the days of old on my blog: Deck profiles.
I’m looking to write a lot over the summer, and I’m going to try new things with this post in particular using the knowledge of formatting I’ve accumulated via Fire Emblem posts and using my newfound video powers.
So perhaps deck profiles are something that can see a return more frequently with new decks I try out over the next few months. Let me know if that’s something you’d be interested in seeing!
For now, with that prologue about my current Duel Links journey out-of-the-way, let’s jump in.
Welcome to the dark carnival, everyone.
Obviously this isn’t your daddy’s Dark Magician. No no, this is the special red Dark Magician, utilized by Arkana the Rare Hunter during Yu-Gi-Oh!’s Battle City arc in the original anime.
For all intents and purposes, red Dark Magician is exactly the same as the original Dark Magician. Same stats, same description, same level, everything. The red guy is basically an angsty, cool teenage reprint of the classic monster.
A cool reprint with probably one of the best play mats in the game. Just saying.
So why use him instead of the classic, iconic DM?
Well… This version of the card has a special animation when summoned by Arkana specifically. And we’re using Arkana today, not Yugi.
See Arkana has a special skill called ‘Master of Magicians’ that helps grease the combo wheels of this particular deck. It allows him to draw one of three cards from outside of the deck (Dark Magic Attack, Thousand Knives and Dark Magic Expanded) after losing half his life points.
As you’ll see, it works perfectly with Dark Magic Curtain, one of his signature cards.
Now that you understand the skill helping drive the deck, let’s break down the actual cards making up that deck.
How could I start with anyone else?
Dark Magician is a normal monster that typically requires two monster tributes to summon. However, given the fact that it became the de facto mascot for Yu-Gi-Oh! as a whole through its use by the original protagonist Yugi Muto, the card has received a heaping helping of support throughout the years that makes it a still viable boss monster to bring out.
In Duel Links, that support has slowly come out through things like the level-up rewards for Yami Yugi and Arkana, as I mentioned before, as well as in part through support via Tea Gardner and Yugi Muto.
Most of the strategies he uses involve cycling through spells that both allow for easier summoning, for drawing cards and for dealing with the opponent’s board.
My deck is something of a mix of all three.
Skilled Dark Magician is one of the newer cards added for Dark Magician through Arkana level-up rewards.
He’s an effect monster that can be immediately summoned with a fairly chunky 1900 attack and 1700 defense point spread that allows players to tribute him off when three spell counters are placed on the card (via separate spell cards being used while he’s on the field) to summon DM from the hand, deck or graveyard.
It’s the ‘deck or graveyard’ part of that statement that makes our skilled friend here so special. In a deck that utilizes combining and chaining spells for large plays, it’s rather easy to build up those three counters in the right circumstances, which means you can have a powerful unit early duel that has utility and revival capabilities late in the game.
Trust me, when I explain how the spells work together, you’ll see why he’s such a good card. I do wish there were three available, but two is a solid amount for now.
Now THIS is the real combo-maker of the deck. Magician’s Rod is a fairly unique support monster for the Dark Magician deck that facilitates a lot of different things because it has a number of effects — more than making up for the somewhat slim 1600 attack and downright disgraceful 100 defense.
First and foremost, summoning the Rod allows players to pull a spell or trap from the deck that lists ‘Dark Magician’ in some capacity. In my deck specifically there are three spells that do so, and each are important at different points in the duel.
In other words, this is the card you want in your opening hand to start working a bunch of different combos, but when late game comes he becomes more of a liability due to that low attack.
The secondary effect is less useful, but it has potential to help. When Magician’s Rod is in the graveyard, if a spell or trap is used during the opponent’s turn (except during the damage step), the player can tribute one of their monsters to add the Rod back into their hand.
There’s some synergy to this effect in conjunction with the next card on my list, Blue Dragon Summoner. However, more often than not one use of the Magician’s Rod will lead to the exhaustion of most of its combo-making cards, so there isn’t a whole lot of point adding it back to your hand when there are no more cards to draw with it.
In other words, don’t be dumb like me and accidentally tribute your Dark Magician during your opponent’s turn to leave yourself open for the kill. Bad idea.
As I mentioned before, Blue Dragon here has some synergy with Magician’s Rod because of its primary effect: allowing players to add a normal monster (Dragon, Warrior or Spellcaster) from the deck to the hand when it’s sent from the field to the graveyard.
Obviously Dark Magician is the target for this effect. Being able to add that sucker to the hand is more often than not a benefit because it gives you a boss monster to summon and thins out the deck — or gives you cards not during your draw phase, thus making it more likely to draw other cards during said draw phase.
Yu-Gi-Oh! is a game of statistics, man.
What makes Blue Dragon special is that the drawing aspect works for both battle destruction and card effect destruction. Thus you can get a Dark Magician by using the Summoner as bait for an attack just as easily as you can get one by making him tribute fodder for something like Mgician’s Rod.
Theoretically Legion the Fiend Jester could also be an apt card to fill this slot over Blue Dragon, as he has the same draw effect and an extra assistance effect for tribute summoning.
But I have a soft spot for Blue Dragon, he’s an old favorite of mine. Plus his 1500 attack allows for a little more battle utility than Legion’s 1300.
In this Dark Magician deck, there are three spell cards that are useful specifically for the Magician himself, those that can be drawn out by Magician’s Rod. I’m going to go over those first in the order that I’d argue they’re useful to have throughout the duel.
Another Arkana level-up exclusive card, Dark Magic Curtain is a magical (pun slightly intended?) playmaker to have in your opening hand for a duel.
By paying half of their life points, a player is able to summon Dark Magician from the deck. However, for the rest of that turn, no other summons can be conducted — though monsters can be set.
If it’s turn one and this card is available, not only can you thin your deck one card by pulling out a Dark Magician, you can instantly summon it and start the duel with a 2500 attack monster on deck.
On top of that, this card is the primary reason to run the Arkana-varient of the Dark Magician deck. The average 2000 life point cost (half of the 4000 starting point) is just enough to activate his ‘Master of Magicians’ skill, which instantly adds an extra card into one’s hand.
As amazing as all of this sounds — and frankly is through proper execution — there are downsides. For one, if all of your Dark Magicians are already in the hand or on the field, Curtain becomes an instantly dead card unless somehow the boss monster gets shuffled back into the deck.
On top of that, not being able to summon for the rest of the turn kind of sucks. It means players need to choose between using the Curtain or playing a number of other combinations at once. Though Blue Dragon is a good card to set, to be fair.
Long story short: If you have this card starting out or can use Magician’s Rod to grab it right away, you’re golden. If it’s stuck at the bottom of the deck until its time has passed, it’s worth nothing.
This card is the newest Yami Yugi level-up reward that essentially inspired me to make this whole deck in the first place.
With Dark Magic Inheritance, players can banish two spell cards from the graveyard to add a ‘Dark Magician’ or ‘Dark Magician Girl’ centered spell or trap from the deck to the hand.
Because of how many spells are in this deck, it’s not hard to get two of them in the graveyard. Until you manage to do so it’s a dead card, but the second it isn’t a dead card it becomes a great way to thin the deck given that it’s a quick play spell, allowing one to activate it easily during whichever phase of the battle they prefer.
In my experience, the best practice with Dark Magic Inheritance is to summon DM using Curtain, then either activate the spell Arkana draws through ‘Master of Magicians’ or use an Enemy Controller, and afterward you’ll be able to draw out Dark Magic Attack from the deck for more deck thinning and the chance to wipe out the opponent’s field.
Unfortunately, the window to use Inheritance is a bit small considering there’s only two other cards in the deck it can draw, but that’s more on my personal decisions for what to include than on the card itself.
If you want to add more DM cards into the deck, it becomes wildly more useful. Nice returns on investment.
Honestly there isn’t much to say about this card. When you control Dark Magician, you can wipe out your opponent’s back row of cards. Every spell and trap they control.
Simple. Clean. Effective.
So effective, in fact, that I decided to use this instead of the similar monster-based equivalent, Thousand Knives. That spell allows you to destroy one monster on the field, which has much less utility in the long-run than a board wipe in my opinion.
Sure there are cases where the opponent can still activate their spells and traps in response to this wipe and mess with your turn, like using an enemy controller to stop you from attacking. But in my opinion, forcing those kinds of plays rather than letting them utilize the cards at an opportune moment is always preferential.
Now we’re into the spells that aren’t necessarily Dark Magician-specific.
Even if for the purposes of this deck, Ancient Rules may as well be.
Level-up rewards from Seto Kaiba’s younger brother Mokuba, Ancient Rules simply allows the player to special summon a level five or higher normal monster from the hand. Have a Dark Magician in hand? Well now it’s on the field. Plus you can normal summon that Skilled Dark Magician you’re holding onto for a totally fatal knockout.
Again, simple. While it may be another card that’s ‘dead’ with no Magician in hand, the deck has enough drawing power in my experience to make up for that.
Though I will admit at this point in the profile that a lot of the deck’s contents can be considered dead cards. Which is a seemingly unfortunate reality of playing around a single big boss monster.
So this card is here to help mitigate the risk:
I’ve talked about Enemy Controller a few times now, and that’s because it’s essentially the staple card that can be placed on any and all decks in Duel Links.
Few other cards offer as much utility as this. Change your opponent’s card to defense or attack position when desired. Tribute your own monster to steal an opponent’s monster. Complete either task during basically any part of the battle due to the quick play aspect of this spell.
It’s just endlessly useful for protection and offensive strategies. Always a good choice when thinking of something to add into a deck.
Champion’s Vigilance is another card that’s essentially dead when not used in conjunction with Dark Magician… But I love it so much that I couldn’t not include it.
When you have a level seven or higher normal monster on the field, anything your opponent does can be negated once.
They summon a monster? Negate and destroy it.
Activate a protecting spell card? Negate and destroy it.
Try to lower your attack with a trap card? Negate and destroy it.
I’ve had so many clutch moments where a field wipe with Dark Magic Attack leads to an immediate victory because you know the first thing they do next turn, likely summoning a monster, will just be a waste.
I do understand how unfortunately limited the card’s utility is, however. Not only is it a dead draw without Dark Magician available, but even if he’s available you still need a turn of placed face-down waiting before being able to activate it.
That’s why I only included one, to mitigate the risk of starting with three Champion’s Vigilance in an opening hand.
The last card on my list here is another solid, generic defensive card.
When Wall of Disruption is activated, every face-up attack position monster your opponent controls loses 800 attack points for each monster they control on the field.
Though that means defense position monsters are safe, anything not in defense position can lose up to 2400 attack, which will neuter essentially everything in the game. That includes any monster that would negate directly targeting cards, since the Wall is non-targeting.
So take that White Night Dragon.
I mostly just have one of these here since Dark Magician being the strongest thing on the board is a risky thing more often than not.
Gosh, that was a slog to write out. Hopefully it’s just informative and explanatory enough to help anyone who doesn’t regularly play the game, though!
As I briefly mentioned way up at the top of this mountain of words, part of the reason I went through with this small project was discovering the ability to upload videos to YouTube for my own personal use here.
But not just that. In this case, I also figured out a way to record what’s happening on my phone screen.
As a result, please enjoy this sizable duel that I recorded as an example of the Dark Magic deck succeeding:
Though I didn’t have the opportunity to utilize my 1-2 combo of Dark Magic Inheritance in this match-up, I was able to pull off the Skilled Dark Magician tribute, which is a much more rare occurrence in my book.
Plus it’s a good example of Enemy Controller coming in clutch and saving the day.
Of course the magic of editing and selection means you all don’t have to see the many, many loses I accumulated before getting this successful match-up. As I noted throughout this post, many of the Dark Magician-specific cards are dead draws if their combo pieces aren’t available.
Despite those loses, I still think the deck is a lot of fun. And boy is it fantastic when you happen to draw just the right opening hand to demolish an opponent.
For example, this other duel I happened to save:
On the one hand I feel bad about how quickly I was able to demoralize this Bonz.
But on the other hand… God what a satisfying victory.
Also, side note, amazing how both videos wound up with the same thumbnail image. Totally didn’t plan that out or anything.
With that said, I suppose that wraps up my thoughts and advice on using an Arkana Dark Magician deck in Duel Links. Hopefully someone out there found this interesting and helpful, and if you did please let me know in the comments down below!
At the same time I’m interested in doing some more of these, so if there are any decks or cards anyone out there wants to see utilized in some way, shape or form, I’d love to take a crack at it. Any and all suggestions would be appreciated!
… So long as I actually have those cards, of course. But I’m sure you knew that.
If you made it this far, thanks so much for sticking with me! Hope you have a great rest of the day.
This update came a little out of left field, but it’s exciting as a small new addition to the game.
Between Fjorm, Gunnthrá, Ike and Ephraim, we’ve gotten Legendary Heroes matching all four seasons that Fire Emblem Heroes cycles through (Water, Wind, Earth and Fire respectively). While it seems as though that would be the end of these characters being released, apparently there are going to be multiple heroes for each season.
Which in hindsight makes perfect sense from a ‘releasing hyped up units to get players to spend money’ standpoint.
But I digress.
Today we’re starting that second round with:
I’m just going to call her Grima instead of Robin because we already have other Robins and in my head it just makes more sense this way.
I know I’m not the first to make this connection, but Grima isn’t exactly a hero. In fact, the male version of Robin overcome by the spirit of Grima was a part of the villainous banner not too long ago.
But I guess now we’re just going to bring along the literal Fell Dragon, destroyer of worlds and civilizations, as a hero meant to lead our armada in the Order of Heroes.
I wonder how Lucina feels knowing that the force she’s spent her whole life hoping to stop can now be in charge of her and give her massive blessings?
… Yeah I’m not going to get a response anytime soon am I?
That said, I do actually want to say that Grima looks pretty beastly and powerful for a number of reasons.
On top of being a hero(?) who can confer the benefits of the earth blessing on her allies, Grima comes with a bunch of great skills. Her weapon is the same as male Grima. Expiration lets her hit regardless of distance and hit her opponents on their weakest defensive stat. She comes with the special attack Bonfire, which boosts her damage based on her defense, and three passive skills: Dragonskin, which grants her a defensive boost when attacked while also neutralizing her flying weakness, Cancel Affinity, which negates the effect of the weapon triangle, and Resistance Smoke, which lowers the resistance of everyone around an attack target by seven.
These skills, combined with the fact that this Grima is our first ever colorless manakete unit who also happens to be a flying unit (ala Myrhh) but with the natural ability to cancel out bow effectiveness AND weapon triangle effectiveness… Well, she just sounds incredible. Hopefully her stat spread matches and makes her a new meta staple, because that would be awesome.
The crazy thing is, this banner has even more great stuff beyond just the colorless flying dragon that negates half of her own weaknesses.
Considering it’s coming out just straight up in the middle of the spring heroes banner, you know Intelligent Systems is looking to siphon up all of our money at this rate.
On top of the Fell Dragon, this eight percent five-star banner also offers up:
I usually pick my character colors to fit who the character in particular is, but in this case I’m going to have the colors correspond with what weapon-type on the triangle they are. It’ll be easier with 12 units available.
Granted, Jakob has become one of my favorite units on my armored team, but still. I want my cute costumed girls, man.
Just don’t call the police on me… I know how creepy that sounds.
Because at least those three units are high up on my desire sensor, I’ve already spent a good few orbs on summoning from this banner.
My free summon has so far been the most lucrative pull, funnily enough:
Lyn may not be the colorless unit I wanted to pull considering I already have her, but she’s got some great skills to pass along if nothing else.
Nothing else has come of my efforts so far (though I’ve summoned normal cleric Sakura a number of times and that has given me multiple heart attacks). However, part of that is probably because I am trying to show some restraint.
I want to keep my orb count above 50, so I’m only summoning when I get to about 70 on the off chance that all five of the pulls in a session are worth going after.
Luckily, Grima also came with a few extra additions that have offered players orbs considering the Tempest Trials have now passed.
The first thing is a special map connecting to this Legendary Hero specifically.
A Legendary Hero-specific map for some extra orbs is a new thing entirely, and honestly I hope it’s a feature that returns. I quite like having the chance at some extra orbs and a special map – even if this one is the same special map from the aforementioned Tempest Trial.
Coincidentally, this banner also corresponds with the start of a series of special maps related to a DLC update for Fire Emblem Warriors.
Man… Fire Emblem Warriors… Talk about another game I wanted to play that I never got around to.
While it’s too bad I never did get to play the game (outside of one session thanks to my friend Kaleb), I suppose I can’t complain about having some free orbs.
Plus the song that plays is a top-notch Awakening remix.
That’s about the extent of what I’ve got for Fire Emblem Heroes today. Like I said, this addition was small but cool. I’m definitely excited to try to summon this new version of Grima.
Actually, that gets me thinking… What if I paired the two Grima together and created the ultimate destructive selfcestuous power couple?
Sheesh, that just made me more excited to summon her. Here’s hoping it works out I guess!
Also, here’s hoping I can balance doing that with work/school stuff. And with playing more Duel Links, since a new character just dropped over there.
You know you’re at an overpowered place in a game when you unlock a brand new character about an hour after the special event starts.
But now I’m rambling about a totally unrelated subject, so I’ll leave it here.
What do you think of the new Grima? How game changing is she going to be? Feel free to discuss it in the comments down below!