Brawl of the Week: Shiftcon West

This week’s Tavern Brawl is a slight shift, if you will, from the classic Shiftcon brawl. In this newer version we get a scroll that shifts to a different spell every round.

This is a highly random brawl, but there is a slight strategy. Should you wait, or should you use that spell, or play that minion.

I tend to get something out early, then wait and play bigger minions later. Sometimes the game forces you to play cards earlier. There is one nasty spell, I’ll let you figure that out for yourself.

So, get in there, have some fun, and get your free pack. I’ll be back next week!

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Brawl of the Week: Brawl Block: Old and New

This week’s Tavern Brawl was a new take on a basic brawl. Brawl Block: Old and New. Basically, make a deck only using cards from Goblins vs Gnomes, The Grand Tournament, Witchwood, and The Boomsday Project. For me, this was hard. I didn’t realize how dependent I have been on the Classic cards.

My first instinct was to do a mech deck, until I realized how little mechs I had from those 4 expansions. I actually had to craft a bunch of cards because I only had 1 copy of many. I was also playing later in the day after people had access to this brawl for 6+ hours.

So, I do what I normally do, and make a mage deck. I thought I had a decent deck until I saw all these exotic cards come out. It took me a couple games, but I got lucky. Figures I went up against 2 mage decks back to back.

Not a huge fan of this format. I got my free deck, and got some screen caps to write my post. Hope you enjoy it more than I did. See you next week!

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All arrows pointing up for Bears in 2019

As of Monday afternoon, January 7th, the only uncertainty withe the Bears is: Will Vic Fangio get a head coaching job, or remain with the Bears? There is also the minor issue with their kicker, Cody Parkey. Will they allow him to rebound, or let him go? After that, all arrows are pointing up for them in 2019.

2018 ended with a sudden stop, a thud, as Parkey’s kick hit not only the left upright, but the crossbar. I think they should get extra points for that, personally. Maybe 2 points for hitting the upright, and another point if it goes in? That would change the kicking game now, wouldn’t it? In all seriousness, more things are going in a positive direction than not. Let’s take a look.

Quarterback: Mitchell Trubisky enters his 3rd year, and his second in Matt Nagy’s offense. He should have more confidence, play faster, and the game should slow down for him. This should translate into more accuracy, more efficiency, and less mistakes.

Running back: Jordan Howard will probably return (he would have to be traded, as he will be a 4th year pro). Hopefully Nagy makes him more involved in the offense. Tarik Cohen will no doubt improve with another offseason. He should be able to use his speed more, as he will be playing faster in year two. Nagy will come up with more plays, and different ways to use him.

Wide receiver: We got a glimpse of what 2019 could bring for star wideout Allen Robinson. In the playoffs he put up 140 yards receiving and a TD. Taylor Gabriel should be better in year two. We saw his speed at times, but I don’t think the Bears took advantage of it as much as they will in 2019. Same goes for Anthony Miller, who had a decent rookie year. Javon Wims might get the most benefit in year two. We only got to see Wims in week 17, but he showed some nice route running, and a bigger target for Trubisky to hit. Something they lack in the other receivers, outside Robinson.

Tight end: Trey Burton showed he can be a deadly weapon in this offense, but even he wasn’t used to his potential. As he and Mitch go forward, they should develop more chemistry. I’m not sold on Adam Shaheen, but hopefully he can be on the field more.

Offensive line: The best part of the O-line is they are mostly healthy at the end of the season, especially guard Kyle Long, who is going into 2019 without a major surgery.

Defensive line: They enjoyed a pretty solid season, but have room to grow. Leonard Floyd will be in the last year of his contract. The Bears will either option him, or possibly extend him.

Linebacker: Rookie Roquan Smith had a superb first year. Even though he did not start until later in the season, he led the Bears in total, and solo tackles. This guy should be even better, faster after a year in an NFL offseason.

Defensive backs: Starters Kyle Fuller, and Prince Amukamara had pro bowl years. Eddie Jackson was a superstar who showed a real knack for getting the ball, and scoring. There is a little uncertainty with nickle back Bryce Calahan, and safety Adrian Amos, who are both free agents. There are younger guys they might want to take a look at.

Matt Nagy: We have seen how creative he can be, especially on the goal line. Matt has used almost every member on defense on goal line packages. Mostly on 2 point tries, but we have seen them on actual 1st and goal to go. Year two of his offense should take a huge jump forward. Having your OC and QB on the same page is priceless.

The Draft, and Free Agency: The one downside is the Bears wont be picking until late in the 3rd round. The plus? They have Kahlil Mack, and don’t have many “needs” going into 2019. Nickle back, Safety, and maybe Kicker are all they may be looking for. All three of those can be handled in free agency, the draft, or undrafted free agent signings after the draft.

Silver lining: One of the best things about the loss to the Eagles, might be the way it ended. The Bears, to a man, should feel they let that loss slip away. There was no single area (outside from maybe Robinson) where there wasn’t a let down. Everyone made mistakes. Everyone should be looking at themselves, and asking what they can do better. That fire, that hunger will burn all season long, and hopefully well into the playoffs.

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Bears season ends with a ‘thud’, literally

The 2018 Bears season is now in the rear view mirror after a tragic, but not totally unexpected, ‘thud’, literally. Like many, I held my breath, and bent the bill of my cap over my eyes, as I watched kicker Cody Parkey line up to make a kick that would put the Bears in the next round of the NFL playoffs. Then he kicked the ball, it sailed through the uprights, and a sigh of relief–“Oh, they iced the kicker. Of course,”

Predictably, the Eagles called a time out, just as Parkey was making the kick. No problem. He did it once, he can do it again, I said to myself. Slowed breathing, and more folding the bill of my cap over my eyes. The next kick didn’t go so well. It drifted right to left as it inched closer to the uprights. Then, ‘thud’, it hit the left upright, then hit the crossbar for another ‘thud’. I somehow, for a split second, thought it bounced in. I threw my hat. It was no good.

It was kind of a fitting end to the 2018 season. This story goes back to the weekend before the 2016 season started. Ryan Pace, and then coach John Fox made the unscrupulous decision of dumping the most accurate kicker, and all time scoring leader, Robbie Gould. They then went out and signed Connor Barth, and had the nerve to call it an upgrade. I was pissed. I wrote about it at the time. It came back to bite the Bears over the next two seasons, and into a third. The Bears went out and got what they thought was a solid kicker in Cody Parkey in 2018. Parkey had a solid rookie campaign with the Eagles actually, but they cut him for their current kicker Jake Elliott. Parkey’s struggles were well documented this year, including a game where he missed 2 field goals, and 2 point after tries, hitting the uprights, in all 4 misses.

In all, Parkey missed 7 FGs, and 3 PATs in 2018, including hitting the uprights a grand total of 6 times. There was a video going around of Parkey having fun by kicking a football into a tall light post. Practice makes perfect, right? I’m sure it’s just an odd coincidence.

I haven’t heard it yet, but no one seems to be mentioning Parkey made his previous 3 FGs from the left hashmark. He then tried the last kick from the right hashmark. The Bears had about 15 seconds left on 3rd down, but head coach Matt Nagy decided to throw for the endzone, instead of running the ball and lining up on the left hashmark. A kicker should be able to hit from anywhere, but some like a specific side, or straight on. Cody was clearly kicking from the left side. Perhaps another coincidence.

Enough about kicking. The Bears had many chances in the game. The game should never have come down to a kick. They picked off Super Bowl MVP 2 times, but only had 3 points to show for it. During the regular season the Bears were tops in points off turnovers. They also abandoned the run again even though they were mostly successful. They also got ‘jobbed’ by the refs after a replay clearly showed Anthony Miller catching, and fumbling a ball that no one chose to recover. Also not the first time a Bears player has done this in a playoff game. I’m not sure why the ball was ruled dead, and returned to the team that fumbled (this has happened before).

Where do the Bears go from here? Perhaps they will bring a few kickers into camp, and have a proper competition. I expect everyone to grow, and get a year ‘smarter’, especially in Matt Nagy’s complex offense. The biggest question is health. The Bears had a relatively good year as far as injuries go. That’s never guaranteed. The best thing is that they have a solid QB in place, most of the offense will be back. The Bears could (and should) lose defensive coordinator Vic Fangio to one of the 8 coaching vacancies. He is set to interview with Miami, and Denver. I personally think Vic is more than qualified to be an NFL head coach. His biggest question is who can he bring to run the offense?

I’m not mad, it was a great season. One you knew would be trouble if it came down to a game winning kick. It’s just the suddenness, the abrupt stop, and the feeling they wasted a great season by the defense. The playoffs go on. Then there is the Senior Bowl, the Super Bowl, Free agency, and the draft. This week will be hard. The focus moves onto 2019. The 1984 Bears got knocked out of the playoffs before winning the Super Bowl the next year. I’m hoping history repeats itself.

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Walking Dead Mini Marathon (Seasons 6-9) starts Saturday December 29th

That’s right. If you left after X died or found out Y is no longer in current episodes, this might be time to set your DVR and splurge on your favorite snacks! Ring in the new year with the last 3.5 seasons of your favorite zombie show!

Starting at 9pm Central Saturday December 29th (10pm Eastern) with seasons 6, episode one, and running through the season 9 midseason finale. You can check your region’s exact timings here.  Tune in and enjoy your favorite zombie apocalypse!

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Brawl of the Week: Gift Exchange (again)

This week’s Tavern Brawl is: Gift Exchange. We have had this brawl for 2-3 years now, and it’s always interesting to see how it plays out. I used a mage deck, but there are some nasty priest and warlock decks (I played one later) out there. This is also a “Wild” rules brawl, meaning those old favorite (really nasty) cards are available. Every card in your library!

The mage has lots of nifty cards to use. I threw in the Flamewaker, because man I really love this card. I got lucky, and was able to swipe not only my opponents gifts, but most of mine as well.

By the time they got something going, it was all over. Winter’s Veil was very, very good to me.

If this is your first time playing this brawl, you are in for a treat. Good luck, have fun, and I will see you in 2019!

Bonus screen shot: Had to put this in there because it’s evil!


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Your Sports “What If”

The question came up on AM 1000 (ESPN Radio) here in Chicago about Derrick Rose; specifically, what do you think about him/would you want him back? My first reaction was ‘hell no’. Then I started thinking about all the moves I would like to take back. Then I thought, this would make a great blog post.

So, ‘what if’ you could go back in time and take one move back for your favorite team? I have a bunch, but I will go with the most recent move: The Blackhawks trading Artemi Panarin for former Hawk, Brandon Saad. I wasn’t the hugest Saad fan to begin with. Panarin is everything you want in a forward, maybe lacking size, but he made it up in tenacity.

Panarin had one of the better back to back seasons in recent Blackhawks history. The thing that impressed me more than his scoring, was his toughness with or without the puck. If he lost it, he would fight to get it back. If you knocked him down, he’d get up and give it right back to you. He and Patrick Kane formed an epic duo on the ice that you dream about. Imagine if they managed to keep him along with DeBrincat, and the current team? They would probably have the best two lines; the best 4 forwards in the NHL. Alas, there is the salary cap, and Stan Bowman, who hasn’t done real well with either lately.

So what is your sports, “What If”? Feel free to post it in the comments below!

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