Saturday, May 31, 2008

The end is in sight...

...and it looks suspiciously like rape.

Imperishable Night Stage 6: Final B on Hard; 3 lives, no continues.

I like how my failure-success ratio on the first spell in Lunatic is ~2:1.

Now that could take a while to beat.

Friday, May 30, 2008

What happens when the science consultant to BSG gives a talk on Halo?


"The apparent gravity on Installations 04 and 05 is close to that of Earth. For a Halo with a radius of 5,000 kilometers to simulate one Earth gravity, it would have to spin with a tangential speed of slightly over seven kilometers per second. That implies that the Halo would rotate once every hour and fifteen minutes, or 19 ¼ times a day."

"An object—a soldier, an Elite, a Scorpion MBT, a Warthog recon vehicle, anything—in direct contact with the surface of the ring would perceive the centrifugal force to be the equivalent of gravity. Anything not in direct contact would tend to follow basic laws of dynamics, but laws that might seem counter-intuitive at first. On the second level of Halo: Combat Evolved (a level called “Halo,” in fact), Master Chief can see a waterfall shortly after making ring-fall.

Figure 2 shows the results of computer simulations of the trajectory of one drop of water over the waterfall if it were subject to Earth’s gravity, and the trajectory of one drop of water on a Halo—assuming that the waterfall is 305 meters (1,000 feet) high and oriented along the Halo’s spin direction. We see that a drop would fall two meters farther on a Halo than on Earth. That’s not a great difference, but if the water flow were oriented perpendicular to the spin direction, it would deflect two meters to the side, which would look odd for somebody used to viewing terrestrial waterfalls."

"The ring’s spin would have an even more pronounced effect on objects with a longer time of flight. While most of the combat in Halo takes place at close range, let’s assume we want to use our M808B Scorpion Main Battle Tank, which fires hypervelocity rounds, as a piece of artillery and fire projectiles at a much greater distance. Entry-level physics students learn about trajectories—that the trajectory of a projectile fired from a cannon takes the shape of a parabola (actually, an ellipse, since the trajectory represents a partial orbit). In the absence of wind, a round fired straight up will return straight down, and completely ruin the day of whosoever fired it. Long range trajectories on a Halo would be quite different. Figure 3 shows the results of computer simulations of long-range trajectories of rounds fired from the inside surface of a 5,000-kilometer ring spinning at nineteen times per day. The assumed muzzle velocity was 1,000 meters per second. Figure 3 shows the trajectories for initial barrel elevations of thirty, forty-five, sixty, and ninety degrees above local “horizontal,” both in the direction of the ring rotation (+X) and in the direction counter to the ring rotation (-X). We can see that a round fired straight up does not, in fact, return to where it was fired, but rather eighteen kilometers downrange due to the seven kilometers per second speed that the round had before it was even fired. Note a marked asymmetry between projectiles fired in the spin direction as opposed to the anti-spin direction. Rounds fired in the spin direction have a greater initial horizontal velocity, and impact the ring sooner than those fired in the direction opposite to the ring’s spin. A rocket fired from a launcher, or a projectile from a fuel rod gun, would suffer similar deflections if it had to travel long range."

Now I want to hear his opinion on the merits of the Viper Mk II versus the Mk VII.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I am intrigued and horrified

I think this is one of the most interesting games I've ever heard of.

Of course, my hoarding tendencies* would probably make me want to shoot myself for playing this.

*This very trait is what makes me unable to play MMORPGs, because I will just keep going forever hoarding money golds.

Monday, May 26, 2008

I put on my wizard's hat and robe!

I'm just going to link to Gatherer because I don't feel compelled to link everything.

If anyone plays Magic with me they know my favourite colour is blue. What is the defining feature of blue? Card draw. If you have more cards, you have more options than your opponent. If you have have more answers than they have questions or more questions than they have answers, you win.

This is why aggro decks like Red Deck Wins wants to run a tight mana curve, by minimizing the amount of land they're running, they draw less land on later turns and more threats.

Some green decks tend to have larger creatures, they maintain the same advantage because much of their mana accel (e.g. Kodama's Reach) doubles as deck "thinners". By removing land from their library, they are increasing their chances of drawing more active cards later in the game. By the same token that's why the fetchlands are good, sometimes even in a monocoloured deck. Also why Land Tax is banned.

Control decks run a higher land count, but use card draw to gain advantage. Instant card draw is significantly more powerful because it means the blue player can leave lands untapped for a counter while being able to use their mana if nothing gets played. In a true Draw-Go deck, the entire purpose was to build up an overwhelming number of cards, more than enough to handle all threats, then win with something small and ridiculous. Like Rainbow Efreet. One copy of it. But WotC decided that was too good for blue so they're refraining from printing any more*.

Combo decks are ridiculous; I don't want to talk about it.

That's why cards that let you draw 1 (e.g. Serum Visions) are extremely cheap, because you have no net gain in cards. But as soon as you increase to draw 2 cards, the fair price spikes to 4 (e.g. Inspiration). Of course Ancestral Recall was not fairly priced, and as a result it is arguably the most powerful card in the entire game (along with Black Lotus and Yawgmoth's Will...Time Walk wouldn't be very far behind though).

But card advantage doesn't stop there, it encompasses everything in the game. If you play Mystic Snake, you've answered a threat while delivering your own, another net gain of 1. That's partially how Shriekmaw became the best card in Lorwyn limited and its forefather Nekrataal was a power card in its heyday. If you play a Wrath of God and destroy 4 opposing creatures, you've answered 4 threats with only 1 card. That's a net gain of 3!

To extend it further, that's why Leyline of Lifeforce is stupid answer to control (barring specific metagames). If you play it late, it does nothing. If you draw two of it, it does nothing. If you're not facing a counterspell deck, you have wasted slots in your deck for a card that does nothing. Compare that to Vexing Shusher, at worst you've still got a 2/2 for 2 that's pressuring your opponent and at best you have both a question and multiple answers in the same card. Card advantage.

On a wholly different note: why Plague Wind is terrible. If you're losing, you can't retaliate until at least turn 9. At that point, any self-respecting aggro deck would have you so close to death that any burn spell, any random 2/2 that gets through would kill you. If you're winning, well you clearly don't need Plague Wind then. Damnation would be a better card 90% of the time, closer to 100% in a tourney caliber deck.

I actually dislike playing affinity as much as people dislike playing against it. There's not a lot of subtlety involved. My favourite deck is now the Izzet one. It's decent enough for casual, flavourful and Gelectrodes are fantastic. It would also be good for Emperor because it has repeatable damage, Cursed Scroll style.

On the other hand, I can't lose with Islandhome, if I don't win it's not a real loss because nobody really expects an Islandhome deck to win and if I win then I beat the odds.

One thing I can't understand is how people manage to play aggro decks wrong. It's not difficult, you always try to be attacking. It doesn't matter if it's a 1/1 Llanowar Elf, if there are no blockers, swing with it. The longer you wait, the longer a control player has to draw an answer. If they already have an answer, well tough luck; holding back isn't going to solve anything. If you get a control player down to a low life total, it means they've lost options because they can't afford to let any damage go through. It means you have the initiative and they're forced to spend their mana and cards immediately instead of investing for later. That's why River Boa was such a power card against Draw-Go decks, because it immediately put the other player on a 10 turn clock.

edit: Colour me unimpressed by Thomas' boasts about spending $35 at Image. I don't think he realizes that the solution to burn (and pretty much all forms of control other than counterspells) is Troll Ascetic, not more Vigors. I also relish the fact that the Izzet deck cost me ~$10 to make and affinity costed ~$7.

*At the same time, the top-tiered deck in Standard is faeries? What the hell, since when did blue have such efficient beatdown? Back when Fish was actually a merfolk deck...AKA before they stopped printing merfolk. In conclusion, Guilty Gear > Virtua Fighter.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Some people might remember Robotech

It was a compilation of 3 series, the first of which being Macross.

The Macross franchise has always been about syncing J-pop to missile-slinging madness; a tradition that Macross F continues to fulfill.

I secretly hope BSG's season finale is going to be like this.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Me: So...I'm learning Donna Lee
Crobert: Can you play it?
Me: Not at speed
Crobert: Mike can play it
Dan: Mike can't play it at speed
Crobert: Oh shi- really?
Me: Fuck...nobody can play it at speed, except Charlie Parker
Dan: I have this book at home
Me: Charlie Parker's Omnibook?
Dan: Yeah, I can play like 2 songs from it*

Alternate title: The adventures of Donna Lee continues
*For the uninformed, the Omnibook is like half an inch thick.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Oh, hells yeah!

Apparently, the ВДВ have been recruiting.

Recruiting bears.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Incompetent People Really Have No Clue, Studies Find

"There are many incompetent people in the world. Dr. David A. Dunning is haunted by the fear that he might be one of them.

Dunning, a professor of psychology at Cornell, worries about this because, according to his research, most incompetent people do not know that they are incompetent."

"One reason that the ignorant also tend to be the blissfully self-assured, the researchers believe, is that the skills required for competence often are the same skills necessary to recognize competence."

"This deficiency in ``self-monitoring skills,'' the researchers said, helps explain the tendency of the humor-impaired to persist in telling jokes that are not funny, of day traders to repeatedly jump into the market -- and repeatedly lose out -- and of the politically clueless to continue holding forth at dinner parties on the fine points of campaign strategy."


Monday, May 12, 2008

If monosaccharides can speak...

...I imagine them to sound like this.

Josh: What are we going to write on these red headbands?
Me: S.O.S. 団
Forest: Haha
Crobert: No.

Well, I thought it was clever.

MRAPs are kind of ridiculous

Isn't the Humvee already like a lane and a half in width?

How the hell are you going to drive through the streets of Baghdad in something like this?

I can't imagine it being very effective in cross-country terrain either.

...And what happens if a Snowspeeder entangles it with an anchor wire?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

What now 4chan?

crobert: so apparently japan's going to banhammer lolicon
Peter: actually I think I can live with this decision
Peter: but I'm afraid they'll replace it with something worse
Peter: like monkey pronz or something


Aggro is boring.

Combo and Control are where it's at.

I proxied a High Tide deck with the classic Palinchron/High Tide combo. It went through several revisions, first being U/W/G for Mirari's Wake, which can substitute for High Tide, then another involving Clone, eventually it became dominantly U, splashing W for just 2 Sunscape Familiars. I considered Meddling Mages at one point, but decided in favour of Solemn Simulacrum for mana acceleration and card advantage. Kind of silly to have 4 times more W producing lands than actual white cards. I've only play tested it against Titanium (it's been improved) once, and I'm going to leave the performance of both decks as a surprise, but suffice to say, they are pretty beastly right now.

I only found the real decklist afterwards. Circa 1998, before the banning of Time Spiral.

It makes my version look like child's play.

Notice that it has only 1 Palinchron and no tutors for it. That's because Palinchron is only the kill mechanism, Time Spiral/High Tide is the real combo. I had Turnabouts and Frantic Searches in one revision of my own deck, but realized it's pretty much useless without Time Spiral and went with more efficient card engines instead. That deck showcases the true power of Saga's "free" cards.

How does it work? I imagine the order of operation to be pretty much tutor/draw High Tide and the tutor/draw Time Spiral, then play High Tide followed by Time Spiral.

Realize that resolving a Time Spiral in that deck is pretty much equivalent to resolving a Mind's Desire, storm for 6, in any other deck. It just goes off!

With the untap mechanism, there's going to be an huge surplus of mana, which is then used to play more card draw, using Turnabout to resupply when the mana runs low or chaining into more Time Spirals and High Tides. Eventually Stroke of Genius will be drawn, either before or after Palinchron. If the former, Stroke turns all the raw mana into massive card advantage ensuring that Palinchron will be drawn. At which point you perform the infinite combo, and Stroke of Genius your opponent for 60, they lose.

All the while your spells are backed up by Counterspell/Force of Will.


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

On gas taxes and holidays

What the hell makes people think a gas tax holiday is a good idea? Against what any economist would recommend?

In essence, you're lowering the price, which increases demand.*

But the supply isn't increasing.

This is not a viable economic strategy. It's pretty much analogous to printing money for everyone.

...and fuck corn farmers too. I hate those guys.

*Yes, I know "oil is inelastic", whatever. The point stands: being a temporary drop in prices, people are encouraged to hoard it for the duration of the time. Demand still increases.

Victory from the jaws of defeat

So it was Sam and I versus Rob and Thomas in a game of 2 Headed Giant. I was playing Broodstar-Affinity because it's the only intact deck I have left and Rob was playing Kithkins. God knows what the hell Thomas and Sam were playing.

It's late in the game, we're down to 5 life because Rob managed to play out some early fatties that have since been destroyed, but in the process they have created a large swarm of 1/1 tokens in addition to a few weenies. I have an 11/11 Broodstar with Fireshrieker on it that had been locked down with Goldmeadow Harrier for many, many turns. It did manage to swing twice before, bringing them down to 10 life.

It's their combat phase and they've gone all out leaving nothing except a Dancing Scimitar to block Broodstar next turn, should we survive. I realized that if we survived then we could win next turn if I topdecked an Irradiate or Aether Spellbomb. At the same time a Lava Axe from them at any time would end the game for us.

It wasn't hopeless as we had a gaggle of miscellaneous creatures including an Atog, an Ornithoper, an Outrider-en-Kor, a Disciple of the Vault, and a Steel Wall among a few other things to block with. So I began doing the mental arithmetic.

"So, he blocks the 4/4 with his 2/2 and I Pyrite Spellbomb it--it dies--that's 11 damage left and...and..."

*thoughtful pause*

"...I sacrifice everything to Atog, you lose the game."

Monday, May 05, 2008

Sometimes I hate the internets...

Unread Topic: "So the end of the world is coming..."

Me: "If this turns out to be a peak oil thread, I'm going to shoot myself"


Me: "Fuck!"

Sunday, May 04, 2008

L-O-L India

Dropping babies off tall buildings? This seems counterproductive to the survival of their race.

Friday, May 02, 2008

探そう, 探そう, 探そう...


探そう, 探そう, 探そう~

Daisy Chaining

maj 7 / Ionian

+ b7 = 7 / Mixolydian

+ b3 = delta 7/min7

+ b5 = null set/min7 b5/half-dim

+ b7 = dim

The problem is I always have to relate everything in the tree back to the dominant 7th in my mind.

Bonus points if you got the null set joke.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Font preferences

Graphics design aside, I've settled on 2 font families for general use.

Garamond variant for serif and Verdana for sans-serif. Those 2 fonts are widespread as well, so there shouldn't ever be display problems moving from computer to computer.

Generally, serif fonts are easier to read in print and sans-serif on screen.

Of course, sometimes a random font strikes my fancy and I use it for no particular reason.