Category Archives: Weekend in Heaven

Taking Sheets at the NBA Finals.

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I have lived in Miami for 39 years. The Magic City has always been a trip, but right now we are peaking like never before.

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You can get yours by Facebooking Sheets. This NBA Finals is gonna be unreal.

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iPood.

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Spring Break FTW.

I love my back yard.

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More Better Leonard Cohen From Last Night.

These were all from the first set, with brand spanking new arrangements. We are still utterly blissed.

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It Is Called “Marvel Superstars”.

UpperDeck

It is the news we have all been waiting for, and it is official. Upper Deck will continue to produce the highest quality trading card games in the world using the most spectacular characters in the universe. The first new product will be called Marvel Superstars, and it will debut at GenCon Indianapolis on August 13th, 2009.

“We are extremely excited about the possibilities that this newest partnership opens up for us,” said Scott Gaeta, director of new business development at Upper Deck. “Gamers and trading card enthusiasts alike will benefit greatly as a result of the collaborative efforts by both companies.”

Paul Gitter, president of consumer products, North America at Marvel, added: “The Marvel Universe and Marvel Studios’ upcoming slate of feature films are ideally suited for trading cards and trading card games that will appeal to a wide audience.”

At this particular moment in time, on Sunday July 26th, 2009, at 2:12 pm Eastern, the googling of “Marvel Superstars” only turns up only one specific match. It is a gorgeous fan-based painting by Deputee on deviantart.com. Feast your eyes.

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That is just a taste of what we have in store. Spider-Man, Captain America, and Nightcrawler against Magneto and Juggernaut, captured on cardboard. Here is another quote from Scott Gaeta to help us frame the future.

Vs. System was a great game but the general consensus in our discussions both internally and with Marvel is that we want to broaden the accessibility. Our target is still core gamers but the real growth potential is reaching the tens of millions of fans who have been exposed to all the great Marvel characters in recent years. Our goal is to bring new players in to our category and to do that we feel we need a new game. As we get closer to launch we’ll share more details but I can say that we are going to do something very fresh with our new Marvel TCG.

Very fresh indeed. Starting with the name. Marvel Superstars, here we go!

Stay tuned to this station for more, and bookmark our new blog which will be dedicated totally to the new game.

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Disco Forth.

KC

July 4th, 2009. Land Shark Stadium. Florida Marlins. Pittsburgh Pirates. KC and the Sunshine Band. Fireworks with forty thousand friends.

I love you Miami!

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Sunday Mandala: Tributes and Remixes.

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What a fanglorious Sunday morning this is. Basking in the glow of one human masterpiece reinterpreted by another artist. If you open your ears all the way, you can hear countless cover versions and re-mixes of Michael Jackson’s exquisite catalog coating the entire surface of the Earth. Inevitable synchronicity dragged my eyes across the sizzle of the googlesphere toward a blinking bauble by Alex Duplation Mediation for breakfast. It is a New Day Rising.

You see, today’s mandala is an interpretation of Julie Dillon’s champagne bottle crashing with a splash against the flying angel pointed toward the horizon that launched this ship. I started the Sunday Mandala feature twelve weeks ago with her work. Today that image has been spectacularized into a morffledelic chakrabbalah map to the center of infinity equals one equals zero.

What a fanglorious Sunday morning this is.

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Three Views From Our Window.

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Those are three actual photographs from where we live. We don’t have to travel, we don’t have to roam. It is always that beautiful, right here at home.

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Spring Break = Regeneration.

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I need sleep. Lots and lots of sleep. Spring Break starts in two hours, the pillow is calling my name.

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Hellboy + Liz Sherman = Bliss.

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(The best Liz Sherman I have seen, by Roc Upchurch.)

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Flipping cards has never been finer. For the second weekend in a row, Nina and I have been turning Hellboy and Liz sideways on the kitchen table until the tentacles explode the moon and rain down from the heavens. Last night our seven-game series came down to the final swing, and I had the firestarter’s Uncontrollable Power ready to burn for the win.

Hottest. Cardboard. Ever.
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Heavenly Hellboy.

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The Hellboy Essential Collection contains the only 60-card constructed Vs. System decks ever produced for public consumption. It remains the pinnacle of mythological madness and trading card game bliss. Mike Mignola personally painted a large portion of the exquisite artwork, while Matt Hyra made sure the mechanics were magnificent tightness. It worked perfectly, in ways that still blow me away.

Nina and I have played two seven-game series so far this weekend. We switched teams for each house championship, with Thule Society claiming both rings. The first was 4-2, the second 4-3. The decks are wonderfully balanced. Each team has two different themes. It is the most fun we have had playing Vs. System, maybe ever.

Before we start the next series, I want to share some of the intense mythological eye candy that we have been wallowing in all weekend. Rub your eyes and blink, this stuff is for real.

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Those are the original unpublished designs for the insert sleeves in the UDeck boxes. The final illustrations for the outer box holds just the arcane antiquity, without the illustrations.

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The rulebook included in this set is, perhaps, the best single item that Upper Deck Entertainment has ever produced. Comprehensive, creative, colorful, and cool as anything else in the world.

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As I mentioned earlier, Mike Mignola himself did most of the paintings for the cards. Kroenen drips in eternal cardboard glory because of it.

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That is Ryan Sook’s hot take on Liz Sherman. If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times. Our game took her places she never would have gone in the comics.

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Alex Garner broke off the horns…

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Tim Townsend accepted the destiny…

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… and Jason Pearson hilariously illustrated the biggest little beats we have ever seen.

That’s all the time I have to share the beauty of the Hellboy Essential Collection, I need to shuffle up and flip some cards. If you need more words, you can check out the Little Red Men deck that we built as a community.

I will see you back here soon, on the other side of Hellboy Heaven.

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Save-It Saturday: Sadu-Hem.

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This Weekend In Heaven will be spent with the Thule Society and its creepy cardboard characters, playing the Hellboy Essential Collection until our eyeballs  fall out and sprout Ancient Godlings. While we turn Mike Mignola’s terrific translations of the Old Ones sideways on our kitchen table, you can wallow in an article almost exactly two years old today. How big can it be?

Risk Vs. Reward: Major Mythological Figures

Rian Fike
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Truth may be stranger than fiction, but that doesn’t stop the artist from trying. With modern creative technology blurring the distinction so drastically, who’s counting anyway? Hellboy, that’s who.

The Hellboy Essential Collection has brought an entirely new level of realistic interaction to a fictional mythos that was already a huge part of many people’s lives. This comic book character has a rabid following. His dedicated devotees constantly strive to make him as tangible as they possibly can. They create authentic B.P.R.D. identification badges and hand out Lobster Johnson calling cards that simply say “Fiction?” These people are real freaks, and I like it.

Hellboy has also been captured on powerful cardboard and is now ready to turn sideways on the kitchen table. As I wax poetic about the powers and interactions of our newest Vs. System playing pieces, we will also be treated to a symphony of sculpture from the community of die-hard Hellboy fans around the globe. There are some very serious artists who have a very serious crush on Mike Mignola’s baby. Their skills with clay take the myth and stretch it into taffy. Get ready for a visual treat. Your eyes will be exhausted when we are done.

I got the call from the local gaming store and tried to keep my heart from beating out of my chest. It was here. The first set of full-sized, pre-fabricated Vs. System Constructed decks had arrived in Miami. Gravity slowed me down a bit, but within a few blinks, my Mini Cooper was sitting in front of the shop and the treasure was gripped firmly in my hands.

I drove straight home to my wife. We ripped off the outer covering and shuffled up. As soon as Liz Sherman’s uncontrollable power hit the board, I knew the match was destined to become a classic. Nina’s Baba Yaga welcomed the squirming mass of Sadu-Hem to her side of the board, and we settled in for a turn 8 of epic proportions. It was a beautiful thing.

The 7-drop Liz isn’t the only thing that stokes the home fires to new temperature thresholds in our house. Each sixty-card deck contains two different, satisfying strategies. The characters, equipment, plot twists, and locations are fascinating in both theme and function. The Pancakes are especially delicious.

Constantly vigilant against the forces of metaphysical evil, the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense has all kinds of tricks up their collective sleeves. They can cover the ground with support troops in the form of U.S. Army Rangers. They have been blessed with some of the best equipment tricks in the game, starting with Sidney Leach’s human metal-detecting abilities. Thomas Manning makes sure all his boys get a big bonus when they are packing toys. Both Ben Daimio and Lobster Johnson get gigantic grins when they have a gray card attached. The Weapons Lab allows them double the pleasure and double the fun.

But wait! That’s not the only way that the B.P.R.D. can mash the monsters on the other side of the Vs. System equation. When the big red dude enters the picture, things change. Hellboy works best by himself and he doesn’t mind telling his friends to get lost. This team affiliation follows his lead for their second theme, giving major advantage to any character willing to fight alone. Sometimes they like to have a hidden force, as well. As long as you only show the face of one visible character, the B.P.R.D. becomes as formidable as any group the game has ever seen.

I have spoken of this before, and it is my favorite part of the Hellboy Essential Collection. Three of Mike Mignola’s myths are being developed more fully than ever before thanks to our beloved game. Karl Ruprecht Kroenen, Abe Sapien, and Liz Sherman are swelling with expanded power in their Vs. System incarnations. It fills my heart with joy and covers my kitchen table with some really hot fish.

I have a confession to make. Mulletman is not going to like it. The Thule Society has introduced a truly classic version name that now tops my list of all Vs. System cards ever printed. Hecate has been dubbed a “Major Mythological Figure.” That is even cooler than being a “Rebel Freedom Fighter” in my book. She is also even hotter than Abe Sapien (for a fish), and she was specifically designed to destroy his plans. Hecate has been around for nearly 3,000 years in the human imagination, and now she is pulling characters out of the hidden area left and right. Her power is not limited to opposing threats, either. She is strong stuff for an environment dependant on concealment. Getting the black-bordered cards into the visible area where you can gain advantage with them can often set the stage for some late-game Cthulhu-style madness, with the Sadu-Hem sucking the life right out of your horrified opponent and transmuting it into a boost of endurance for the win.

Grigori Rasputin and the gang have been given an alternate win condition in the form of Project Ragna Rok, but that party doesn’t float my boat. I am drawn to the Damn Nazis and their squirrel-like nature. Especially since the 1-cost Army lovers of the world can now unleash a Plague of Frogs for some massive weenie beats.

“Thoolish Mortals”

Characters

12 Damn Nazis

4 Hellboy, Little Boy

6 Huge, Annoying Tentacles

4 Karl Ruprecht Kroenen

4 Klaus Werner von Krupt

1 Hecate

1 Black Flame

Plot Twists

4 Plague of Frogs

4 Nasty Surprise

4 Flying Kick

4 Wake the Devil

4 Accept Your Destiny

4 Something is Coming

Locations

4 Cavendish Hall

That is my deck of choice for any tournaments or kitchen tables that will be using only the cards from the Hellboy Essential Collection. It is fairly simple in operation, underdropping a swarm of occult minions that receive major mythological pumps from a trio of plot twists and an evil project leader. Klaus Werner von Krupt often hands out +3 ATK to three different attackers in order to stun the opposing board and wipe it clean with Accept Your Destiny. Karl Ruprecht Kroenen has eighteen possible lucky revelations for topdecking, and they are cheap enough to recruit a few per turn. Hecate whips hidden threats out into the open with her tail so that Black Flame can start boosting like Bastion—if the match goes that far and demands a more curvy combination.

The tastiest trick that Thoolish Mortals can create begins when you realize that Something Is Coming immediately after you recruit Hellboy, Little Boy. When you flip Cavendish Hall, that baby gets really big. On turn 5 (with a Plague of Frogs or two), he can easily reach +20 ATK if all goes well. Sounds like my kind of fun.

Whether the Thoolish Mortals are good enough to win the upcoming City Championships remains to be seen. They will need to duke it out with Olympic Weenie Glory and get covered in War Paint first. Whichever one of my pet decks barks loudest during testing will be let off the chain to sink its teeth into the Miami metagame. Skating major mythological figure eights on the Vs. System battleground has never been sweeter, thanks to Hellboy and the Thule Society that he opposes.

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Filed under Comic Books, Save It Saturday, Vs. System, Weekend in Heaven