Game Pile: Leather Goddesses of Phobos

Leather Goddesses of Phobos is a 1986 text adventure videogame, produced by Infocom, written by Steven Meretzky, and it exists entirely because of a whiteboard joke that nobody in the room said ‘hey, maybe let’s just not?’ to enough times. In this 1930s schlock sci-fi inspired ‘sex farce’ game, you get to explore locations like Mars, Venus, and Cleveland.

It was, ostensibly, one of a small number of sexy text adventure games from that period of time, produced by Infocom. It boasted a scratch-and-sniff feely, and a setting for its content ranging from ‘tame’ to ‘lewd.’

It’s also a sex comedy written by a couple of dudes that dates back to 1986.


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T-shirt: Candy Heart

First up, the design:

Candy hearts aren’t a thing here in Australia. But they are a thing that’s so American it’s a widespread meme, and I like the idea of them. I hope they taste nice. I bet they taste very plain and pastel, that kinda floral chalkiness, but not fizzy like a Fruit Tingle.

You can buy this design on Redbubble.

How To Be: Ukyou Kuonji (In 4E D&D)

In How To Be we’re going to look at a variety of characters from Not D&D and conceptualise how you might go about making a version of that character in the form of D&D that matters on this blog, D&D 4th Edition. Our guidelines are as follows:

  • This is going to be a brief rundown of ways to make a character that ‘feels’ like the source character
  • This isn’t meant to be comprehensive or authoritive but as a creative exercise
  • While not every character can work immediately out of the box, the aim is to make sure they have a character ‘feel’ as soon as possible
  • The character has to have the ‘feeling’ of the character by at least midway through Heroic

When building characters in 4th Edition it’s worth remembering that there are a lot of different ways to do the same basic thing. This isn’t going to be comprehensive, or even particularly fleshed out, and instead give you some places to start when you want to make something.

Another thing to remember is that 4e characters tend to be more about collected interactions of groups of things – it’s not that you get a build with specific rules about what you have to take, and when, and why, like you’re lockpicking your way through a design in the hopes of getting an overlap eventually. Character building is about packages, not programs, and we’ll talk about some packages and reference them going forwards.

Well, we’ve done some odd stuff with this section, some big ideas about maximising specific character quirks and hitting particularly niche interests like a transforming robot dinosaur, but what if your wants are more hey, what can I do with this simple basis? And, it seems that this month is full of references to Ranma 1/2 and twitter voted on it, and so, here we go, a return to Ranma 1/2 as an option: Ukyou Kuonji.

CoX: Cearmaid

Time to time, I write up an explication of characters I’ve played in RPGs or made for my own purpose.  This is an exercise in character building and creative writing.

Just a boy in a bar with a beer.  Continue reading

Story Pile: The Quintessential Quintuplets, Season 1

It wasn’t intentional by any measure but it turns out, to my surprise, that I became a fan of anime through the introductory template of the Harem Anime. For me, it was, in my early anime watching days, just a natural part of how anime worked where you’d have a character, then four or five people who really wanted to jump them. It was literally something that I think of as foundational to anime, because I mean, I watched Ranma 1/2 and then Tenchi Muyo and at that point that was my lens for how I thought the whole genre worked, and therefore I assumed that say, Sailor Moon must have harem stuff over there where I wasn’t watching in the episodes I missed. As a result, I watched a lot of harem anime, and it took me a long time to realise that the dynamics of a harem anime weren’t universal. Like, I didn’t realise that you weren’t ‘supposed’ to ship every Slayers character with Lina Inverse and I was equally surprised when there was a definite end to the relationship tangle in Ranma 1/2.

This genre tends to boil down to one [TARGET AUDIENCE GENDER] with a set of [THREE OR MORE] [TARGET AUDIENCE INTEREST GENDER WITH SPECIFIC DETAIL]s that want to [COMICAL INNUENDO INVOLVING RIDICULOUS WORD]. The template is that simple, but harem anime in particular have a few complications that come from what’s not common to them. Specifically, if you have three characters who can’t choose between one another, then all you’re looking at is a love triangle and those are kinda easier to resolve and much more about a small number of characters who relate to one another. A harem anime is instead about watching one character as they interact with a group of other characters, and ideally, it has something else going on like a sci fi story or an adventure or a fight tournament or just goddamn anything that isn’t just ‘which characters will get it in the end’ or it tends to get boring. They also tend to mix in some gimmick with the girls, either to add interest to the narrative or to sound the sirens about the author’s personal fetish.

With that said, welcome to Quintessential Quintuplets, an anime about one dude with a set of five hot girls with giant racks that want to ride his baloney pony. And you know the twist of this one?

They’re all related!

Wait, no, hold on, this is good, please, put down the broom!

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Buffy The Vampire Slayer Sucks At Enemies With Benefits

This started out so simply.

This article is a continuation on the concept from yesterday, where I described a trope, Enemies With Benefits. That article started out as ‘five romance tropes I like.’ Then I sort of reflected on what I’d written and went: Hang on, this is more about how much the alternatives suck.’

That led to me rewriting it as ‘five romance tropes I think are crap.’ And then when I was done I realised I’d just restated the same thing multiple times and one recurrent joke just kept taking over and eventually we came around to the fact that this one specific thing really pissed me off and I might as well make that the thing.

Then something happened in the news that made me a little 👀

CONTENT WARNING: I’m not going to be talking about Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a full series. What follows this warning, immediately, is a second content warning about something I feel is relevant to the article but also kind of outlines what I’m not making the article about. That warning contains mentions of potential sexual impropriety and a celebrity who it seems sucks and you may not want to be here for that, even in a content warning.

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Enemies With Benefits

There is a trope I have sometimes referred to as enemies with benefits, where, to use simplified terms, a hero and a villain bang. Like that’s the simplified version of it, because it’s never just that simple. I also use it in the context of a relationship not just a single incident, so this isn’t your ‘I have you now my pretty’ peril style thing. It refers to a pair of characters who are opposed, perhaps even through violence, who nonetheless through colossal bad judgment, wind up having some kind of romantic or sexual (or both) relationship.

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4e: The Passionguard (And A Kickstarter Promo!)

In 4th Edition D&D, a starting character has three large layered choices for making a character more conveniently.  You have their Ancestry (“race”), you have the toolset for solving problems they have for their basic skills (“class”), and then you have the little third layer, the layer where you get to refine those two things with extra stuff that isn’t worth a lot, but does bring with it some inherent difference: the theme.

For me, themes are a secret sauce component of 4th edition D&D. They’re a place that you can fill out things a character should be able to do, small bonuses that aren’t necessarily as uniformly available. If you have a striker who you think of as needing to be able to shield someone, one person in particular, the Guardian theme is there for you. If you want to add some sneaky stabbiness to a straightforward fighter, there’s a Yakuza. I’ve used the Werewolf and Werebear for a lot of stuff, and there are sometimes whole themes that carry a concept that are more important than the other two choices to make sure you can hit a specific feel.

But also themes aren’t ironclad, either. Some are very specific, like membership in a specific organisation and some are very general. Themes feel to me like seasonings: The biggest problem we have with Themes right now is not enough of them and not varied enough. Themes are there to do the job of helping you cement some element of your character design that needs to grow, but also can’t be done with the slow progress of feats.

And while working on this, I found this.

Art by Floh Pitot

This artwork rules. I have this problem when I see art and because I create in game spaces, I immediately think ‘hey that’s rad, I’d love to make a game that looks like that.’ And you can’t, that’s a thing, you can’t just take art you like and use it, even though people can just take rules they like and use them. Seems a bit rude on me, I guess. But anyway, point is, I saw this and went: Damn, that gives me ideas.

Thing is, this art is for something. It’s art from 2018 for a Zine called Dames. And that zine has an iteration, currently on Kickstarter, right now. With that in mind, here’s a link to this Kickstarter, and I recommend you check it out and see if you like it. It’s a zine full of knightly ladies. That looks cool!

And now, inspired by this bangin’ artwork, I’d like to present you with The Passionguard.

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‘Ship’ Building

There are a bunch of different board and card games that, in some way, relate to making things. Making things is cool, players like making things, and giving players opportunities to make things gives them something to engage with. This isn’t a unique observation: board and table games are awash with games about building things, both mechanically and thematically.

And there are some that let you, mechanically, in one way or another, make ships.

Merchant and market games often let you buy ships to transport goods. Some games let you make trade routes. Some games let you position an arrangement of ships so your opponents can attack them. And some games even let you build a ship out of specific little pieces, tiny tiles.

But what if we took some of these games about ships and made them about ships?

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Akane Tendo, Baudrillard’s Tsundere

There’s this idea I’ve talked about before, when I wrote about Ouran High School Hosts Club of The Simulacrum. The simulacrum is an idea covered under the concept of hyperreality. You don’t need to read that, but I want to use it as a place to start as we talk about something of a Smooch Month classic.

Who’s this?

Chances are if you’re a weeb my age, you’ll remember her as Akane Tendo.

And chances are good, you know her, and don’t know her. Not the real her, and there is a real her.

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Story Pile: Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun

You know it kinda amuses me how much I rubbish on webcomics when I keep doing story pile articles on webcomics that are either just good on their own, or that gave rise to other products I think are really good.

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun is a 12 episode (and some OAVs) anime based on a gag-a-day 4koma webcomic of the same name. The premise is a high school girl named Chiyo Sakura confesses to her crush, and thanks to a reasonable (?) misunderstanding, he thinks she means she’s a fan of his work.

Because he has work.

Because he’s a successful and renowned manga-ka who makes a girly shojo manga, and what ensues is Chiyo falling down into the gravity well that is Nozaki’s social space and the near constant commentary on how weird he is as a person, how weird his assistants are, and importantly, how weird Chiyo is by how all of these elements of the behaviour and personality of actual manga-ka are in some way, natural to her.

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Writing Polycules Is Tricky (And Interesting)

In a lot of media, a relationship is treated as a stable default middle to work from, and you can look to webcomics as a whole genre built around the idea where a relationship is either the stable end point you’re pursuing, or the stable middle ground from which all the shenanigans go. The Megatokyo Vs Ctrl-Alt-Delete spectrum, as it were. This pattern is true in most media too – with romantic comedies and family comedies being often two heads of the same horrible hydra, a creature that wants to show terrible people somehow redeemed by the credits when they get married, or lead off with a relationship that has clearly gone bad at some point as it pinwheels out of control. I didn’t need to make it a webcomic thing, but now you’re remembering that Megatokyo exists and it updated last week at least.

The banner still celebrates the webcomic being ten years old. Man, that whole fandom looks so strange from the outside. Still, good for them.

Anyway, I bring up Megatokyo because it is, first, funny to do so, but second because it feels like a wholly sincere artifact of this same concept space of storytelling in relationships that grew out of the 90s weebs who got into anime from a very specific place that probably featured Ranma 1/2 and Tenchi Muyo, the place where the harem anime was created and then immediately had its soul removed. In the very genesis of this is an entire generation of storytellers, often lonely and disaffected and creating in spaces without gatekeepers, made our own anime-inspired narratives that overwhelmingly still followed the idea that the story starts with no relationship and concludes when the relationship is obtained, and wow, we have some messed up views about women eh.

The thing is, one of the ideas that always got floated in these spaces was polyamory, second only to the horror of not straightness, which I kid you not, was cited as ‘cheap’ and ‘exploitative’ when introduced in serious discussions of fucking Ranma 1/2. Polyamory was seen as a cop-out answer, and was seen as untenable. After all, it either took the form of a bunch of girls who hated each other moving in together to live as Ranma’s wives, despite their animosity, or, suddenly and spontaneously falling in love with one another, which were both unrealistic outcomes.

This was literally all that was seen as the possibility of polyamory – and again, it was seen as the conclusion of the narrative. You couldn’t put those five characters under one roof! It would be a bad end to the story and they’d all fall apart! Terrible idea that!

I swear this month was not supposed to be so much about Ranma 1/2, but it’s a good grounding to work from. Because what I’m talking about here is in fact about how polycules, the cute term for polyamorous relationships, change assumptions about how you use relationships in media, based on the media you’re dealing with.

Specifically, writing polycules means that there’s just… stuff you kinda have to keep in mind. Characters in polyamorous relationships aren’t necessarily all going to pile into the same bed after the same 9-5 in the same house. Characters in polyamorous relationships don’t have this sort of media-sanctioned, pre-established trope-based ‘default space’ to work from. The binary monogamous pairing is so well worn that we can even signify the way characters interact with gestures and never need to explicate what their lives are like, but a poly relationship?

It’s inherently more complicated. Characters have always got an additional point of input and an additional observer. And that’s a good thing. It’s not that everyone should be in a polyamorous relationship in media work – that would be boring and silly and … let’s face it, would be used by a lot of media to just give the comedian boring man two hot girlfriends out of his league, ‘as a joke.’ But the thing is, fundamentally, polyamorous relationships, at least functioning ones rely on communication. You can’t just assume the two partners have nothing to do and will default to one another because there’s always at least one other person involved. They have to manage the way their lives intersect, who goes where and with what.

And that’s really interesting.

You get to see what people do with balancing commitments, and the thing is, you can do that. It’s not ‘well, I had to choose between A or B at some point, and B won, so A loses.’ That’s just such a… juvenile way to view relationships in any way, even in action narratives or jokey stories! Being in relationships is about communication and understanding, and relationships in media are handled well by giving characters reason to talk about things – why is this so hard to grasp as a bountiful field of exciting, interesting narrative?


Smoochy Audio Plays

Hey, here’s a type of smoochy media I haven’t spoken about.

The Audio Play.

Alright, you know, yes, podcasts, they’re a thing, but I don’t really talk about fiction in podcasts. Well, my podcasts are about fiction. This isn’t about those, which tend to be by definition, long form and serialised. This is instead about short, ten to twenty minute long audio plays of a conversation with someone who is implied to be not a love interest, but your love interest.

Note: I’m not going to provide any specific examples here. Just check youtube or soundcloud or your space of choice for Audio RP and look for tags that you like, because I can’t vouch for anyone in this space.

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3.5 Memories – The Smoochless Book Of Exalted Deeds

Back in D&D 3.5’s hey-day, which was, it seems to look at these printing dates, 2003, they were so convinced of their infinite expandability and the depth of their market that they made themselves a special label warning that this book was of the Mature Line of products. In the time of this line’s existence, as best I can tell, there were a total of two books Wizards of the Coast published on it, with the first being the perhaps obvious Book of Vile Darkness.

The most obvious joke, ‘vile dorkness,’ writes itself, and is 100% justified.

The other book in this line, though, is the Book of Exalted Deeds. This book got to be Mature because… of… reasons, most of which seemed to be to add a few dollars to its sticker price and, I suppose, to let it reference the Book of Vile Darkness, which it felt a need to do. Now, there’s a lot to be said about the difficulty of composing a book whose entire foyer has to be a treatise on how to not only ‘be good’ but also be really good in these proactive ways that translate to good game mechanics and engaging character beats for an ongoing story. You can really feel the front end of this book trying to park a bus in a bike spot, as it seeks to bring up things that are good things for a character to do, in a proactive and engaging way, while still buying into the slightly mangled moral framework of D&D as she is written.

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Postcard Ideas

Kinda thinking about postcard games.

If you’re not aware of a postcard game, it’s a game where uh, you play it on a postcard. This may seem a little confusing to those of us in the big board game spaces, where you kind of expect to get a box, and some pieces, and even simple games that can be played with just a deck of cards have to make some compromises. As you shrink down in the parts available to you in your design, some things get harder and harder to do.

When you think of a postcard game in its purest form, though, you’re asking for what kind of game you can make that fits entirely on one side of one piece of paper, and not a particularly big one. It’s ont uncommon to end up with something that looks like a fast food restaurant placemat – something you might have if you ate out at a fast food restaurant recently, and if you did, what, why.

I’ve done some games like this before – I have the game Grey Goo, which is a chess-like game where the rules are all printed on one side, and the board on the other, but you do need to provide your own dice for that one.

This is on my mind this month though because of Love Letter.

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Bleach: Tatsuhime

I don’t know if I’ve ever said it in so many words, but Bleach is a mess.

Hang on, I wrote about it on this blog, I can go back and check.

When you don’t have a sort of concluding paragraph, when you don’t have a point you were building to, though, there’s a certain freedom to it. I don’t think Tite really had a plan and if he did it didn’t matter because the author of Bleach, in a proper Barthes way, is dead, and that author had no idea where they were going.

Okay, so I did say something like that.

Bleach being a mess is part of why Bleach fandom is much like Star Trek fandom, a process of deciding what parts of it you’re willing to, or interested in keeping, and then just letting the rest sit over in a pile that gently steams. It is a sweater made almost entirely of dropped threads.

Let me tell you about the most inexplicably dropped thread, the ship known as Dragon Princess: Orihime/Tatsuki.

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Battle Couples

I freakin’ love characters who fight together.

I don’t mean this as like, a dismissal of couples (or thruples, or whatever) where one or more of the members don’t engage in high-pitched combat action scenes. Your ships are valid and all that. But for me, when we’re talking about action stories or movies where there are characters in it who you want to see do a smooch I love it when you get to see those two characters fighting mutual opponents, side by side.

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In Praise of the Yandere

Content warning! I talk about mental health stuff in a general way and there’s some talk of relationship violence and abusive behaviour. You should bounce if you’re not here for that.

In the parlance primarily of anime culture, but also its related spaces, there is the idea of romantic character archetypes. I’ve talked about this in the past, about the idea that having common language to describe media archetypes serves to make conversations about media (and everything else) easier, and genre media, as this under-examined place  full of shorthand and signifiers, is no different. When you have terms for archetypes, it’s easy to identify them, bring them together, talk about them, and compare them. Then we can talk about these characters as a category, and that’s interesting and cool.

I think the one that’s most widely known, outside of weeb space, is the tsundere, the idea of a girl who alternates between being very angry and very loving. But, if you’re paying attention to gamer spaces, you probably have heard of the other big archetype, The Yandere.

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Why Do Movies Have Sex Scenes?



Okay! No, no, it’s okay, we can talk about it, it’s not impossible.

Okay, we can talk about this. I don’t tend to talk about sex much, except in these kind of broad senses about orientation or whatnot, not because I don’t like sex or anything, but because I’m still holding a lot of churchboy damage that makes me uncomfortable describing this stuff in particularly ribald ways.

Don’t worry, we can get there, I’ll just need to take some uh


Meet me below the fold!

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Smooch Month 2021

Oh heck we’re doing it again!

It’s Smooch Month! It’s the month where I set some time aside to look at media that focuses on the intersection of lips, on stories where the reward is seeing the hot characters kiss, where the building, establishing and furthering of relationships is very important.

That kind of dispassionate phrasing aside, Smooch Month is when I go out of my way to try and find media to engage with and talk about that are about stuff I normally avoid! I’m not going to be so bold as to call it romantic media – because, well, romantic media is media about feelings and this is kind of media about specific feelings.

Last year when I did this, I ran through some truly dire movies – I checked out a bunch of stuff on Netflix that came up under ‘Romantic Comedy,’ and I picked out the dreadful Tall Girl to focus on. Smooch month was also when I got to talk about Crazy Rich Asians, a movie with a game in it that I really liked. What I can promise you this month is you’re going to see some more stuff like that, as well as some games I’ve been requested to check out.

So tune in and stay smoochy.


No, that sounds terrible. Don’t do that.

Story Pile: Always Be My Maybe

Okay, let’s give you the absolute basics before the fold here on Always Be My Maybe, a 2019 Netflix romantic comedy movie. This movie is part of The Discourse about representation, as one of a small number of movies that present Asian-American characters and their lives as normal and desireable. That is an interesting conversation and it is a conversation I’m woefully ill equipped to engage with. I’m not Asian (kinda), I’m not American (kinda), I’m not Asian-American (kinda), and unpacking each of those kindas is an essay in and of itself and still wouldn’t position me as relating to this movie and its discourse meaningfully, because conversations about what even is culture are not related to why is media so racist about Asians.

And trust me, it is.

I found Always Be My Maybe funny, and charming, and it’s a romantic comedy so that I didn’t find it very challenging wasn’t a big deal, but also that’s not what it wants to be, so you’re fine, trust me, you’re fine. The romantic comedy is one of those genres that’s so well structured at this point that you fill in boxes and do the things the audience is expecting in what way you’re going to. It’s all competent, there’s some awkward humour, some more standard punchline stuff, some fun dynamic stuff, all that. You know how it goes. There are fat jokes, and that sucks, and I would see that as a good enough reason to not bother with it, but if you’re braced for those things and find it interesting to look at, I’d say give it a shot.

Oh, and there is a cameo from a big name actor that I found really funny.

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January 2021 Wrapup!

Gosh, January’s already over! And some things that have happened in it that were not ‘literally everything getting worse the whole time forever,’ and like, that’s good to know.

What did we get in the Game Pile? We talked about Katana Zero, Tinderblox and Kittin, Wingspan, and two ‘meta’ Game Pile articles about What Left In 2020? and What Making Gaming Videos Is Like in 2021.

What did we get in the Story Pile? I talked about Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) which I liked a lot and I think my review with the shocking idea of ‘what do you iexpect ithis kind of thing to be like,’ Star Trek Discovery, Season 3 which I also liked a lot, The Bletchley Circle  which, again, I liked a lot, and and a meta article about the stuff from 2020 that was so bad that I ditched it, Flushing 2020.

There are some other articles I like a lot that I put this month. I reflected on the funny story of the The Beaver Drop. I put out a long form article on an idea I have for developing White in Magic: The Gathering, with The Case For White Copying. We talked about D&D with both a piece on The Paladin’s Plight and a piece on The Cleric Archer. I also ruminated a bit on what we say when we wear a mask right now, with What Does A Mask Say? I also spent some time to finally put down some thoughts about one of my favourite arcs in the Haruhi Suzumiya idea space with this article about the Endless Eight.

Also, despite my desire to keep out of politics, I did write a piece explaining What’s a Condorcet Winner?

In fancy-pantsy academic making and writing, messaging and signalling studies, I talked about Fuzzy Games , which relates to my ongoing studies, Practicing Practice which is how I approach helping students engage with making, and an oblique interrogation of interfaces with Does the Audience Play?

Here’s this month’s T-Shirt, modelled on the Blue Shell of Mario Kart fame.

I feel like overall, this month, I did a lot of work – the articles are longer than usual. But I also was able to bring my backlog back up to a healthy 32, rather than the lower number it was languishing at. This is really heartening, and because I have a full year of possible slots in front of me, any time I get an idea that relates to a theme, I can throw it forward into the future for that theme.

Hopefully you’ve been enjoying!

MTG: January’s Custom Cards: Witness The Whiteness

WOTC Employees: This article is entirely about about unsolicited game designs, with example cards.

I partake of custom magic design over on a subbidy reddity thing over there, and I make good designs and sometimes, they do not appreciate them because, what, like, people have different tastes or whatever. One thing I’ve been trying to do of late is just do more stuff in general rather than give up on them, with some little once-a-day tasks to keep myself from falling into 2020’s rut of ‘what did I do all day?’ I’ve been seeing if I can find a theme I like, then building around it.

Presented then are the 31 cards of January, themed around the question of adding to white.

By default I’ll always be designing cards for Commander, and with the understanding that that format is not one with a power level banning situation but rather a casual banning situation. Things on the commander banlist are usually there for access reasons or for tedium reasons: They make the game boring and repetitive.

One thing I learned from the custom magic subreddit about this, though, is that people are really inclined to measuring an optimal scenario for white cards. Devotion, for example, is always treated as if it is functionally infinite, as if a multiplayer commander environment isn’t this space renowned for board wipes and proactive removal.

It’s honestly really funny: Mono-white is underpowered and weak in a multiplayer environment, but at least as far as we’re talking here with custom magic creators, it can always get access to infinite resources to do what it wants to do. Weird!

Game Pile: Making Youtube Videos

What’s this? A second video? Swindle footage? Don’t worry, it’s not more Swindle. Though I could do more Swindle.

Do you want me to do more Swindle? I mean I could do that…

Anyway, here’s a video about what I’ve learned with Youtube and what I’m doin’.

2020 Kickstarter Roundup

A few years ago, I learned that if you want to engage with kickstarter, you should check it out both as a backer and a creator. If you haven’t partaken with kickstarter, you don’t have any idea of what people expect out of it, and you can have unrealistic assumptions about what people expect of you. Yes, this is an elaborate set of excuses for engaging with Kickstarter and buying myself a bunch of board game stuff, but it’s also research, mom.

I approach this with modest trepidation, though, because this is ultimately me looking at a bunch of games, a thing I’d normally want to focus on in a Game Pile Post. But at the same time, Game Pile posts are posts for talking about the games as media, rather than explaining them as commercial products.

Since I seem to use January as a holding for ‘everything wrapped up from 2020,’ then, let’s have a look at the Kickstarter stuff I engaged with in 2020, how that worked out for me, how satisfied I am with the products and whether or not they have arrived, or will arrive, or whatever.

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The Collapse of Haruhi Suzumiya

Anime is an art movement that has encapsulated thousands of different competing threads and there’s no true centralising canon because it’s fragmented across all sorts of cultural anchor points. Australians of my age that are into anime so often got started because Aggro’s Cartoon Connection screened Sailor Moon, the ABC screened Twins of Destiny and Amazing Cities of Gold, and SBS, in the late 90s, screened Neon Genesis Evangelion, meaning that those four anime are sometimes seen as ‘common ground’ topics. Common ground for one age bracket in one country, and even then, only sometimes.

There are some events that can be looked upon, in the english-speaking anime fandom, though, in terms of their impact on shared cultural spaces, typically conventions, but also just, anime releases that somehow managed to be widespread enough at the right time that they became foundation to the conversation. The big three of Naruto, Bleach and One Piece. Evangelion movies. Fullmetal Alchemist, then Fullmetal Alchemist again. A collection of trans girls and boys and nonbinary people that can trace a lineage from Ranma 1/2.

There is a category of people I can annoy enormously by responding to a Touhou picture with which anime is this from?

There’s only so much room for any given series to suck up a lot of the oxygen in the fandom space. You can’t typically have five or six ‘big name’ anime that ‘everyone’ has an opinion on. One of those ‘event’ Anime, that rose, became incredibly prominent, and then deformed the culture at large, becoming one of the rings in the tree trunk that is this strange cultural enclaves, was the franchise known as Haruhi Suzumiya.

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