Friday, April 18, 2014

List Day: Hearthstone Tips and Tricks

I'm not a great Hearthstone player, although I have won every game that I didn't lose. Here are some beginner tips and tricks to get you started.

  1. Just because you have enough mana to play a card, doesn't mean it's the right time to play that card, especially on Turn One!

  2. If you don't like one of your Daily Quests, you can reroll it for a new random quest one time. On the Quests page, click on the X in the upper right corner of the quest card.

  3. Don't overcommit. Sometimes it's better to play it safe and keep a few minions in your hand in case the board is wiped on the next turn.

  4. Pay attention to whether a card specifies friendly or enemy minions specifically. If not, you may be able to come up with unexpected ways to play that card. For example, you can use the Mage Hero Power to hurt your own minions, triggering Enrage conditions or Deathrattles. Or, you can Silence your own minion to remove a Frozen effect.

  5. Generally, I've found that a good deck ratio is roughly 20 cards that result in minions and 10 pure spell cards.

  6. You don't have to use up all of your attacks every turn.

  7. You can only have 10 cards in hand. If your opponent has 10 already and you can force him to draw more, those extra cards will get destroyed. When I see a Priest drop two card-draw Clerics, I like to spend the whole game healing things until he runs out of cards. I lose, of course, but it's funny.

  8. If you are about to craft your first cards from enchanting dust, you can't go wrong with Harvest Golem or Defender of Argus.

  9. You can give your constructed decks titles by clicking on the default title ("Custom Mage") and typing. I like to put the date in my titles ("Mage 4/15") so I can remember when the last time I added cards to it was.

  10. Don't let clearing the board of enemy minions distract you from the ultimate goal of killing the hero. I used to treat each round of the game as a standalone zero-sum math puzzle -- this distracts from the big picture and puts you in a constantly reactive play style.

Also, someone in this household has been playing too many murloc cards.

tagged as lists, games | permalink | 5 comments

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Gravity (PG-13):
This is probably one of the more stressful movies you'll see this year. We saw it at the Greenbrier, which means that the screen was slightly bigger than watching in the living room, but more like a high school assembly than a true movie theater showing. I enjoyed how self-contained and spartan it was, especially in the context of the fact that most of the movie is CGI. They overused the suspenseful music -- possibly to counter the fact that there is no noise in space -- but I felt like silence might even have been a better tension-builder in many places. Rebecca did not like this movie.

Final Grade: B+

American Hustle (R):
This was an enjoyable character-driven film starring Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, and Amy Adam's cleavage. It plays like a heist film, except that it's very easy to follow. After a fairly slow start, it kept my interest all of the way to the end.

Final Grade: B+

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls:
All of the thoughts I recorded in my First Impressions post last month still hold true. I'm still regularly playing this game and having a ton of fun exploding things for loot. There's a surprising amount of replayable content for an expansion pack, and all of the original problems with Diablo III have been resolved in positive ways. At this point, the primary (but minor) annoyance is just the UI -- I wish that skill assignment were easier, tooltips were more exact, and it were easier to compare gear in intelligent ways.

Final Grade: A

Conair GMT10CSB Cordless/Rechargeable Beard and Mustache Trimmer :
This trimmer is serviceable for its primary task, but has too many oddball adjustment settings that sometimes slip out of place. There's barely enough charge for 3 - 4 trimmings, which means it spends a lot of time plugged in. This adds to the clutter if your bathroom counter surface is already small.

Final Grade: C

tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Memory Day: Snapshots

Six years ago today, on April 16, 2008, we had just returned from Europe, where we adopted a French poodle named Pierre from Carcasonne. He was not welcome in Collioure, but traveled with us for the rest of the trip. He ate well and watched Full House in Catalan in our Barcelona hotel room.

After we arrived back in the States, Pierre found his forever home, living with Ella in Manassas!

tagged as memories | permalink | 0 comments

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Crafts Day: Badminton Net

After being burned by a crappy badminton net that literally death-and-decayed during the first rain of 2013, leaving bits of paper all over the lawn, plan to build your next net from scratch. Start with a complex, to-scale engineering drawing. Blue paper and slide rule optional.
Buy 20 feet of 3/4" PVC piping and two end caps at Home Depot ($6.00) and a high quality net on Amazon ($34.00). Drag out all of the tools you never use and mark off the cut / drill points.
Use the miter saw to cut the piping, nonchalantly sweeping the PVC shreddings under the deck.
Whip out your 1995 TI-85 graphing calculator to calculate a good angle for the ends that will let the pole double as a digging implement. Abandon that plan and cut them at 45 degrees after finding that the miter saw maxes out at 45 degrees.
Sit on the poles and drill holes for the guide ropes. Do not hold the pipe where the drill bit will burst through (apply the rules of bagel cutting).
Twist the pointed end of the poles into the ground until you have blisters. If the Loudoun clay prevents the full 14" depth, cheat by cutting a couple more inches off.
MacGuyver a needle-thread device for running the ropes through the pole, using a drill bit and some electrical tape.
Tie off the ends for maximum tension. You now have a regulation height badminton net with a minimum of mowing obstacles!
Enjoy with a friend.

Still To Do:

  • Replace all of the "almost square knots" with adjustable Boy Scout hitches, long since forgotten.
  • Set up a hook system on the outer tension line, so the net doesn't stand at maximum tension for the whole season.

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 3 comments


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