Review: Secretlab TITAN Evo 2022 series gaming chair

I recently bought my first high-end desk chair – and dang, this new chair is an experience.

With my recent decision to work from home permanently, I felt it was time to buy a higher quality desk chair for my office. The chair I was using most recently was one I bought to replace the desk chair I borrowed from the office during the pandemic.

Simple blue desk chair with aftermarket lumbar support pillow added to the back.

Simple and inexpensive, this chair was… okay to work from for an entire day. I had to buy a lumbar pillow for extra support, though – that didn’t come with the chair.

It was inexpensive, but I thought it’d be okay to get a cheaper chair since I thought I would be working from the office more often. That, however, was not the case, and with me working from home permanently, I set out to find a newer, better desk chair.

While I love the chair at my old desk at the office, I also I knew I wouldn’t be able to just buy a chair like that one. If I wanted to get an ergonomic chair similar to what I had at the office, it’d cost somewhere around $1200. That’s a lot of money for a chair. I mean, if it were a computer? I’d happily spend twice that much – but for some reason, spending over $1000 on a chair seems like too much.

So, rather than looking at fancy ergonomic desk chairs, I ended up looking into gaming chairs, as a couple of my friends have them and really enjoy them. I started out my search on Amazon but couldn’t find one in a color that I liked or that had the right combination of features I was looking for – specifically, I wanted a chair with lumbar support, an adjustable back, and if possible, I wanted a chair made with short people in mind. (I’m barely 5’1”. Most chairs are too big for me.) Additionally, the chairs I saw came in a wide range of price points, and I wondered about some of the cheaper ones with extra features like massaging lumbar pillows – how long would those last? Would they even be comfortable?

After performing a Google search and doing some research about the best gaming chairs for short people, I stumbled across Secretlab’s offerings. And from there, I found the perfect chair for me: the TITAN Evo 2022 series.

About the TITAN Evo 2022 series gaming chair

Black and gray TITAN Evo chairs.

The TITAN Evo 2022 chair comes in three sizes and an almost overwhelming amount of different color/fabric combinations. The available sizes to choose from include small (shorter than 5’6”), regular (5’7” – 6’2”) and XL (5’11” – 6’9”) – and while you frequently see chairs made for large/tall folks, you don’t often see ones for short people. Seeing a chair offered in Small? That got me excited.

For the chair’s upholstery, you can choose between NEO Hybrid Leatherette and SoftWeave Plus Fabric, and there’s a variety of colors available for each upholstery type. You can even get special edition licensed chairs for lots of different games and pop culture properties, like The Witcher, DC comics, Game of Thrones, and more. Even the armrests are swappable, too – the PlushCell Memory Foam armrests are currently on preorder, but they definitely look cushy.

Price-wise, this is not a cheap chair. In fact, the TITAN Evo was the most expensive gaming chair I’d seen while doing my research, starting at $549 for the Small and Regular size chairs. It’s not $1200, but it’s definitely more expensive than the $150 task chair I bought previously. Secretlab does have sales from time to time, though, and they also offer financing through Affirm, Katapult, and PayPal Credit.

After thinking about it for a while and reading lots of reviews, I decided to take the plunge and buy myself a high-end gaming chair. I ordered the TITAN Evo 2022 edition in small, with SoftWeave Plus fabric upholstery in mint green (unsurprisingly). I also picked up some fabric wipes to help keep the chair clean – considering how much the chair costs, I want it to look nice and last a while. Also, I have a cat that drools all over everything when she’s happy, so I’ll likely need to clean up after her if she sits on this chair. I thought about ordering a set of the memory foam armrests, but I’m going to wait and see if they release them in mint to match my chair. (If you’re reading this, Secretlab folks: please make some in mint!)

Then, I anxiously awaited the delivery of my chair – it arrived pretty quickly, three days after buying it.

Unboxing and chair assembly

Sadly, I was way too excited about getting and building the chair that I forgot to actually take pictures of the unboxing and assembly process. Oops.

Anyway, the chair itself comes in a very large box that proudly proclaims what style/size/color chair you’re receiving – I don’t know why, but seeing the giant box with the chair type and color on it made me ridiculously happy for some reason.

This chair is HEAVY. Peter and I had to unbox the chair and bring it up to the attic piece by piece, because there was no way it was getting up two flights of stairs still in its box. Thankfully, the packaging was really well done – all parts labeled and packaged very carefully, with no mystery parts – which made transferring all the parts up two flights of stairs an easy process. The back of the chair, for example, comes in a bag with handles on the top, which not only made it easier to get it out of the box, but also made it easier to get it upstairs. The instructions for building the chair were also very clear; everything was printed on a large sturdy piece of paperboard with plenty of pictures to help make sure everything goes where it’s supposed to.

Screenshot of the incredibly detailed assembly guide for the TITAN Evo.

This is a screenshot of the assembly instructions, because I am a goof who forgot to photograph them before recycling the box and its contents.

The chair went together very smoothly. Assembly was a 2-person job, although most of what the second person did was hold parts in place or lift the heavier pieces for me so I could guide them into position. With the assembly chart and clearly labeled parts, building the chair was a frustration-free process. After about a half an hour or so, I had a chair!

First impressions

My mint green TITAN Evo chair in my home office.

I love this chair. Seriously, I do. And not just because it’s my favorite shade of green.

After sitting in the TITAN Evo chair for the first time, I wrote down my first thoughts about my fancy new desk chair. My first thought was that this chair is amazing. I’ve never owned a chair specifically designed for short people, and this thing fits me perfectly. It has the lumbar support I was hoping for, as well as a reclining seat back and swappable arm rests – I swear, this chair has it all. It even has a pillow that magnetically attaches to the chair back! (I might try to make a little Crafty Nerd cover for it – it feels like a good idea for a blog post.)

I may need a cheat sheet to remind me of what all the levers and knobs do. I know the knobs on the sides of the back adjust the lumbar support, for example, but which one changes the position, and which one increases the curve of the support? I had to dig up the assembly instructions to help me figure out which knob did what. (Thankfully, the instructions are available on their website – which is good, since I threw the instruction chart out as soon as I was done building the chair, thinking I wasn’t going to need it. Oops.)

The seat is firm, but not uncomfortably so. After so many years of sitting on squishy desk chairs, oddly enough, the firmness actually feels good. The armrests are also a little firm too, so I might eventually upgrade to the PlushCell Memory Foam armrests, but the existing armrests aren’t too bad.

Another thing about the TITAN Evo is that it actually looks nice. One of the things I noticed when researching gaming chairs is that there are some pretty ridiculous looking chairs out there. I saw chairs with LED lighting on the sides, bunny ears attached to the headrest, all sorts of ridiculous attachments, and all sorts of ridiculous branding all over the chair. The TITAN Evo, on the other hand? In my opinion, it’s an attractive chair. The branding isn’t so ridiculous that I’m embarrassed to have it show on screen in a work meeting. The variety of colorways available makes it so you can find your perfect chair, and this was one of the few mint/teal green chairs I found. I like the overall design of the chair, and the black accents look good with the mint green fabric. I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that people out there may like some of the more ridiculous gaming chairs out there, but for me? I love how this chair looks.

In general, I have never been so excited about getting a new chair before. Usually, when I get a new chair, I build it and then that’s it. With this chair, when I first got it, I kept finding things to do on the computer so I could keep sitting at my desk. I’ve never had that experience or excitement with other chairs.

Two weeks later

At this point, I’ve been using the TITAN Evo for two weeks now, and I’m still loving it. I’m still making excuses to stay at my computer desk even after work is done. It’s very comfortable, and I actually rather like how firm it is. It feels good and does a great job of supporting my back and helps me have better posture while sitting at my desk. I’m actually able to lean back in my chair and still be in a position where I can type and use my mouse comfortably, which is not something I’ve really been able to do in my other chairs.

The TITAN Evo is definitely a big chair, though. I’m still not used to how much space the chair takes up, and I keep bonking the armrest into the side of my corner desk. It makes me miss how the armrests on my old chair would lift out of the way – however, those arms weren’t anywhere near as adjustable as these are, so I’ll be fine without the liftable arm rests.

I also found that the chair gives my lap a little bit more stability for holding a cat in my lap, which is an unexpected bonus. I can also tuck one leg up comfortably to make a bigger lap for a cat to sit on. Hannah loves to sit on my lap, and she spends a lot less time trying to adjust herself and keep her balance when sitting on my lap in this chair.

An overhead view of Hannah, my tortoiseshell-calico cat sitting in my lap at my computer, with her head resting on my hand while I try to work.

Okay, so you can’t actually see the chair in this picture, but trust me, it’s there. I mean, why else would Hannah decide to camp out in my lap when it’s 80 degrees in my office?

Sadly, I haven’t had the chance to actually use the chair for its intended purpose: gaming. With everything going on lately, I haven’t had the time or energy to play Final Fantasy XIV, which is a bummer. I can say, however, that it is very comfortable to use for lengthy video editing sessions – I’ve been working on a couple of detailed videos for work lately, and the TITAN Evo makes it a much comfier process.

Final thoughts

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I love this chair. It’s expensive, yes, but it’s worth every penny in my opinion. It’s comfortable, supportive, and attractive. If you’re in the market for a gaming chair and have extra money to spend, or are looking for a supportive work-at-home chair that doesn’t entirely break the bank, I highly recommend the TITAN Evo 2022 series chair. It’s worth it.

Secretlab TITAN Evo 2022 Series Gaming Chair

Coming out of hibernation

It’s been a long time since I last posted, I know. I originally started writing a post about two months ago, focusing on how we’re a year into the pandemic now and how things were going. However, I never actually finished that post. It just sat here in my drafts, gathering dust for two months. I came back to it in May, a little bit before my birthday, and figured maybe I should finish writing it. Halfway through I realized maybe I should start fresh and write something new. And then I let that post sit for two months, and now here we are in July!

So, here I am, working on coming out of hibernation! I have a lot more energy than I did when I started the original draft of this post back in March. I’ve managed to pull together more executive function than I had in May, and am feeling a lot more positive about things in general. Things are finally looking up – which is big for me. Coming out of hibernation feels like a thing I can do now.

Why was I hibernating?

Well, I’m pretty sure if you’ve existed anywhere in the world since March 2020, you probably have a good idea of why I ended up hibernating for most of 2020 and some of 2021.

The pandemic and the resulting effects of lockdown on my mental health just made me want to hide. Additionally, I was going through some personal stuff last year that completely upended my life – which included splitting up with Rana, and moving in with friends. Ending a relationship, no matter how amicably it ends, is never easy. Dealing with that during a pandemic made things that much harder. Even work wasn’t as enjoyable as it was before the pandemic. The tasks and projects I usually enjoyed doing ended up being a struggle to complete. And, as I’m sure you all noticed, The Crafty Nerd just sat here, gathering dust. I couldn’t even pull together the energy to write. The blog turned 8 years old this year, and I didn’t even celebrate that. You know I’m in rough shape when I don’t celebrate the blog’s birthday.

So, I just… existed for a while. I didn’t feel like myself at all. Nothing came easily to me. I came out of hibernation briefly for Gen Con Online, but even that was hard to do. I had no energy or drive to do much of the things I could still do while staying at home. My days typically consisted of waking up, working, crocheting, watching some sci-fi TV shows, occasionally going for a run, and sleeping. There was also a fair amount of beating myself up about not doing more with my day. I felt like a failure some days, and struggled with life in general. Even with reminding myself of the fact that I was living through a pandemic, I still felt bad about all the things I just couldn’t get done.

There was light at the end of the tunnel, though. I got vaccinated in April, and slowly started to re-enter the world.

Rejoining the world

While the pandemic isn’t over yet, there are some signs of things getting better. Things are slowly returning to something resembling normal again. I’m working in the office regularly again. I can see my friends more regularly again. I’m still nervous about going to incredibly busy or crowded places. I still wear a mask when going shopping. However, I’m not nearly as anxious about being in public as I used to be, which is good

The biggest thing that helped me feel like things are normal again happened last month. It’s something I’d been looking forward to it for a year and a half, and I’m sure everyone can guess what it was.

All the players present at the first Kishar game of the 2021 season.

Cast photo for game 60!

After a year and a half of bi-weekly Zoom hangouts and random photoshoots in the woods, I finally got to play in an actual Kishar game. Not only was it the first game in a year and a half, it was also the largest game we’ve ever had, with 50 players! I got to see some good friends that I hadn’t seen in ages, which made me so darn happy. Plus, everyone was vaccinated, which helped me feel less anxious about being in a big group. We’ve got another game coming up this weekend, and I am so excited about it.

I think what this rambling post is trying to say is that I’m finally coming out of hibernation, and am going to try to post somewhat regularly again. The posts may not necessarily be the most amazing things I’ve written, and they may not be every week to start with. I missed writing, though, and I finally feel like I’m in a good enough place to start writing regularly again.

Plus, I have this ridiculous desk mat that I’d love to be able to look at without feeling guilty about not posting much over the past year or so. 😛

My desk at home, with my laptop and microphone set up to one side and my monitor displaying this post in the WordPress editor. My desk is covered by a custom The Crafty Nerd mouse mat.

The social distancing nerd (or, how I’m surviving staying at home)

Yes, folks, I’m still here! I didn’t give up on the blog — although I’ll be honest, the past two months have been rough. I’ve been a hot mess half the time, between anxiety and depression and stress. It’s kind of hard to try to come up with topics to write about when you’re struggling emotionally, and it’s been a rough time in general for pretty much everyone I know. However, it hit me yesterday: I do have something to write about! I can talk about what I’ve been doing to help keep myself occupied while staying at home. Surprise, surprise – it’s been a lot of crafting and gaming.

Crafting

I’ve been doing a lot of crafting lately. For a little while, it was the only thing keeping me sane. I only had to focus on where to put the next stitch, or how to piece fabric together.  I’ve made quite a few things since I went into staying-at-home mode in March.

Hand sewing: more relaxing than using a machine

I did a lot of hand sewing because, for some reason, I find it less stressful than sewing with a machine. I made a lot of face masks! Everyone’s making them, everyone should be wearing them, and I made a couple of really nice ones for myself and friends. I hand-sewed them, too,

A couple of hand-sewn masks - one is made out of rabbit fabric, the next is Star Trek themed, and the last is made out of sewing machine print fabric.

A couple of masks in progress.

I also picked up quilting again! With some of the leftover fabric from the masks, I started a simple small quilt that’ll likely end up becoming a wall hanging.

Quilt top featuring fabric with cats, dragons, and rabbits on it.

My tiny little quilt top!

Yarn crafts: because I can’t just sit and watch TV

You know I’ve just about always got some sort of yarn craft in progress, too – and stay-at-home time is no different. With all the TV I’ve been watching, I need something to keep my hands busy with. I’m currently working on three yarn craft projects, all crochet:

  • a large Rozeta in worsted weight yarn (affectionately called Rozetazilla)
  • a corner-to-corner wrap using a couple of Caron Cakes
  • a Trio blanket, using three Scheepjes Whirls, which is probably the most expensive blanket I’ve ever made (Whirls are lovely, but also pricey!)

Gaming at home

Of course, I wouldn’t be The Crafty Nerd if I didn’t play any games! They’ve all been online for the most part – playing games online has been my primary mode of socialization over the past two months, and have been a good way to socialize while staying at home.

Depths of the Weald: playing Blue Rose online using Roll20

While my usual Blue Rose game is on hiatus, Kasi (who plays Paroum in the game J runs) decided to start her own Blue Rose campaign!

Screenshot of Roll20 interface, in the middle of a game.

A screenshot from the middle of an epic battle we had yesterday.

J and I and a few friends from Kishar have been playing in that game, and Kasi runs it on Roll20. I hadn’t had much experience with Roll20 before the Depths of the Weald game, but I’m enjoying it as an online alternative to tabletop games. We can use maps, I can keep track of my character sheet inside the app, and if we wanted to, we could even do video/audio chat over Roll20! (Our group tends to use Facebook Messenger’s video chat options, though.)

Animal Crossing: New Horizons — the next best thing to having an actual social life

The new Animal Crossing game came out at the PERFECT time. Everyone’s stuck at home for an indeterminate amount of time, and we needed some way to cope with it. Enter Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Screenshot of a celebration in Animal Crossing.

Not only do you get to make friends with cute animals, but you can also hang out with your real-life friends! For example, Kasi, Rana, and I took a field trip to one of our museums. We wandered around explored all the bugs and fish and fossils in the museum and took lots of pictures too.

Screenshot of people in Animal Crossing looking at an aquarium full of fish. Visiting the museum in Animal Crossing is something fun to do while staying at home!

From left to right: Rana, me, and Kasi checking out some fish.

Plus, when it’s your birthday, your animal friends throw you a party! (Yep, I celebrated my birthday almost two weeks ago, and partied with my Animal Crossing buddies Katt, Melba, and Hamlet.)

Screenshot of a birthday party in Animal Crossing.

They even made me cake!

It’s silly, how attached I’ve gotten to my Animal Crossing villagers – I won’t lie, when I came back to the game after a week of not playing, and they all said some variation of  “where’ve you been the past week? we missed you!” I just about started to cry. (I won’t leave you alone again for that long, animal friends, I promise!)

Blog posts

Now that I’m starting to work myself out of the worst of my anxiety and depression, I’m going to try to write more. Work doesn’t drain my energy as much as it used to (seriously, while I love driving, dealing with traffic in Bloomington is stressful!), so hopefully, I’ll have it in me to write once a week again. I’m going to get the What I’m Watching series back up and running again, and while I won’t have any posts about Kishar or my other Blue Rose game for a while, I’ll try to write about the games I am playing.

Thanks for sticking with me, folks — I hope everyone’s hanging in there during these downright scary times.

Screenshots from the game Magic: Puzzle Quest.

Magic: Puzzle Quest – my latest obsession

I’ve been playing Magic: Puzzle Quests a lot lately! Until I found out about the game through J, I’d never even heard of it, but I’m glad I started playing it. After all, I do love puzzle games, and I also enjoy playing Magic: The Gathering, so Magic: Puzzle Quest has been a lot of fun for me.

A little about the game

One of the core features of the game is using Planeswalkers and their abilities to help augment your puzzle-solving. When playing, you choose a Planeswalker to play with, and you end up fighting other Planeswalkers as you go through the game. Everyone starts out with Nissa as their first Planeswalker, but you can earn mana crystals (or buy them) to add more of them to your collection.

Screenshots from Magic: Puzzle Quest - on the left is a screenshot of my collection of planeswalkers, and on the right is detailed stats for Saheeli Rai.

Left side: my current collection of Planeswalkers. Right side: Detailed stats about Saheeli Rai from the game.

In addition to collecting Planeswalkers, you also collect cards (which probably isn’t surprising). The cards fall into three categories in Magic: Puzzle Quest – creatures, spells, and supports. The cards you collect are then used to build 10-card decks for your Planeswalkers. While the abilities each card has in the game might be slightly different than their physical counterparts, they largely align with actual cards in Magic: The Gathering, which is actually helping me learn how to play Magic a little better!

Screemshots from Magic: Puzzle Quest that focus on cards. On the left is a close-up of Foundry of the Consuls, in the center is a collection of my cards, and on the right is the card Flames of the Raze-Boar asking who I want to deal damage to.

A couple of different views involving cards in Magic: Puzzle Quest – on the right is one of my favorites for raining thopter doom on people with Saheeli. The center screenshot shows a small percentage of the cards in my library, and on the right a card’s been played that wants to know who I want to damage.

There are plenty of ways to add cards to your collection, and many of those ways are free! You can get new cards by grabbing a free booster pack every 6 hours, winning boosters as prizes in events, or buying them with mana crystals.

Gameplay basics

A screenshot of gameplay, where the opponent's only creature was just destroyed by a stack of 12 thopter tokens.

Oh hey, look, someone just rained down the Thopterpocalypse down on the opponent. 😀 (seriously, look, that’s a stack of 12 thopters!)

The gameplay is straightforward: match three or more colored orbs to earn mana and Planeswalker loyalty points that can be used to play cards or use Planeswalker abilities. A match ends when one of the Planeswalkers runs out of hit points, and the goal is to be the last Planeswalker standing. Winning matches gets you mana runes (which can be used to level up your Planeswalkers), as well as additional goodies like mana crystals and even card booster packs (if you’re playing in an event).

Screenshots from Magic: Puzzle Quest - the left screenshot shows story mode, and the right side shows events.

Left: an example of Story Mode. Right: A sampling of the events you might find in the game.

There are two main ways to play the game: in Story Mode, or by playing in events. Story Mode has you fighting various computer-controlled Planeswalkers while telling stories of events in the Magic: The Gathering universe. Events, on the other hand, have you playing player-created decks controlled by the computer to win all sorts of prizes. Events typically have a restriction on what color Planeswalkers you can use, and often have a theme you can build an event deck around to meet some of the criteria for winning extra prizes.

Where to find it

Curious to try it out for yourself? You can find it on the Android and iOS app stores!

Android: Magic: The Gathering – Puzzle Quest on Google Play

iOS: Magic: The Gathering – PQ on the App Store

Introducing Santoki: My new Kishar character

That’s right, I’m creating a new character for Kishar! Her name is Santoki, and she’s a rabbit Hiwani. (One of my Kishar friends – I think it was Pumpkin – suggested her last name should be Caerbannog, haha.)

Wait, why are you making a new character?

There are a couple of reasons I’m working on making a new character. First off: because I think it’ll be fun! It’ll be nice to mix things up and have the choice between playing two different characters. Additionally, making a new character will allow me to try out some things I’ve never done before, like:

  • Working with costuming that’s a little more involved than “throw on some elf ears and a vaguely in-genre dress” — after all, I want to do a convincing job of being a rabbit, and that happens with more elaborate costuming!
  • Attempting to play a LARP character that’s not essentially just me in elf ears. Because let’s be honest, here — as much as I love Ëlinyr, she’s pretty much just me in elf ears. And sometimes that gets a little old.

Why the heck are you playing a rabbit?

Well, for one thing, I like rabbits. They’re cute, and some of them help with crafting — like angora rabbits, who produce fluff you can spin into yarn and knit or crochet with! Plus, rabbits can be fierce too. I mean, come on, look at the Rabbit of Caerbannog from Monty Python’s Holy Grail – that’s one fierce rabbit.

Small plush Monty Python rabbit, next to a Pinkie Pie figurine.

A tiny Monty Python bunny, complete with lots of teeth. So fierce!

What’s Santoki going to be like?

While I haven’t figured out everything about Santoki yet, I’ve fleshed out a fair bit of her character already.

Costuming

Me dressed up in what I've got of my costume for Santoki, which includes her shirt, pants, and bunny ears.

An early test of Santoki’s costuming! (please ignore the mess, though)

Santoki’s costume is currently composed of the following:

  • Black rabbit ears on a headband, with the headband covered by a fabric bandana of sorts to cover up my actual ears
  • A black tail to match the ears, although I haven’t figured out how it’s attaching to my costume yet
  • Flowy pants and a midriff-showing shirt over a black bodysuit and black leggings —my plan is to try to get some faux fur and sew it to the front of the bodysuit, to help sell the illusion of me being a rabbit a little better (after all, rabbits do have fluffy tummies)
  • A little bit of pink cream face paint on the end of my nose to create the illusion of a bunny nose, and whiskers drawn on with eyeliner pen

I’m really excited about getting to experiment with costuming for Santoki!

Character class

Santoki’s going to be a Chirurgeon — essentially, a healer that can fight too. There are times when we’re pretty darn short on healers in Kishar, and I figure having a character that can heal as well as fight will be helpful. Her weapon will likely be a staff to start with since that’s about all my clumsy self can really handle well. Plus, it means I don’t have to learn an entirely new weapon for Santoki, as Ëlinyr uses a staff when she’s not slinging spell packets.

Personality: Santoki’s quiet. Not necessarily the “blend into the background” type of quiet, but more of the “hey, can you speak a little bit louder?” kind. At least, outside of battle anyway — when Santoki’s fighting, she’s a loud and noisy and fierce rabbit. I’ll be trying to stick with how rabbits are in real life, as they’re typically pretty quiet unless something makes them scream. And from what I’ve heard, rabbit screams are pretty loud and terrifying. (That’s based on what I’ve heard from others, anyway — I’ve never heard a rabbit scream, and honestly, I’m not sure I want to.)

Background

Santoki’s originally from the mountains near Shalazar (the Sapphire City), and she grew up with her parents and 40 brothers and sisters (there were more, but they got older and moved out on their own). She’s interested in folklore and mythology, but mainly as a hobby – “I’m not exactly the scholarly type”, she’d probably say.

She originally thought she was going to spend her life working on her parents’ sheep farm, turning wool into cloth and yarn, but eventually, she learned about the Adventurer’s Guild while visiting a bookstore/coffee shop in the Scholar’s District of Kishar, Lin’s Rest. (Yes, Lin is short for Ëlinyr – and yes, Ëlinyr owns a combination bookstore and coffee shop.) After talking to the owner about some Hiwani folklore Santoki was interested in, the Guild came up, and Santoki thought “hey, maybe that’d be better than working as a sheep farmer” — and she decided to join up with the guild.

What about Ëlinyr?

I’m not retiring Ëlinyr quite yet, though I did hit her progression cap (or level cap, essentially) at the last game of season 8. While I can still get new skills, I’m not getting them automatically anymore — instead, I can purchase them using kismet, the in-game currency that enables players to get extra skills and unique items in exchange for helping out with the game in some way.

I’ll be posting more about Santoki in the coming months, as the start of season 9 of Kishar gets closer — and possibly creating a site for her, as I did for Ëlinyr and her in-character writings. I’m really excited about getting to play as Santoki!

A ramble about ArchRavels

This week was originally going to be a podcast week, but I caught a cold. Recording a podcast with a cold is less than ideal since I sound weird right now and keep having to blow my nose. So! Instead, I’m going to post about one of the things I was going to include in the podcast: ArchRavels! It’s on Kickstarter, and as of right now, there are 34 hours left before the campaign finishes. It’s over 300% funded, and as of the time I’m writing this, it’s about $3000 away from unlocking the last stretch goal.

ArchRavels is a game that I’ve been interested in since I heard about it at Gen Con this summer, back when it was called ArchRavelry. I’m sure you can guess why I’m interested in it: it’s a game about yarn crafting! It’s like it was made for me, someone who enjoys board games and crafts. The game seems pretty straightforward: Compete against other players to see who can craft the most items before the end of the game. Just like in real life, you have to collect patterns and yarn before you can make things – and also just like in real life, some events can happen that’ll make crafting difficult, like the cat.

Tangled Cat card from ArchRavels.

Just like in real life, cats can come in and mess with your yarn, causing you to stop, untangle the cat (or in my case, splice ends together because someone decided yarn makes a good chew toy), and lose a turn while you sort things out.

I backed the game pretty quickly after it came out, and the stretch goals added since then have made me even more excited about the game! There are additional characters you can play as, more patterns to make (including the Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Wizard packs), and even an upgraded insert for keeping game items organized. The last stretch goal is one I hope happens: they’re going to make a Cat meeple you can put in a player’s yarn bowl when you draw the Tangled Cat card if they hit that last goal.

If you want to learn more about ArchRavels, check out the campaign on Kickstarter or read the rulebook for the game here. Once I get my copy, I’ll be sure to review it for everyone!  (Now, to wait until next August for it to finish production!)

Gen Con 2019: The Haul

One of the big reasons people go to Gen Con is to buy games – lots of them. And this year, I definitely bought some games! Not as many as some folks, but I did bring home a couple new additions to my game collection. Of course, I found some not-quite-game-related goodies too! My Gen Con 2019 haul is a little smaller than it’s been in previous years, but here’s just about all of it!

Photo of my Gen Con 2019 Haul.

Some – but not all! – of the haul.

Want to hear more about what I got? Read on!

Continue reading →

Gen Con 2019, Day 3 and 4

Since Day 3 is mostly going to be covered in a post specifically about the Blue Rose LARP, and there wasn’t much to Day 4, I’m going to cover these both in a slightly belated post.

Day 3

Day 3 of Gen Con was a blast! Granted, I spent most of it helping run Trials of the Rose: The Call to Adventure, but that’s what you go to Gen Con for, right? Running or playing games!

Before prep started for the Blue Rose LARP, I got the chance to wander around the convention center a bit. I saw some awesome cosplayers, and also ran into this little guy!

Gray and white dog dressed up as Gandalf from Lord of the Rings.

This is Gandalf, and he’s become a bit of a Gen Con celebrity over the years. Ross and I were behind Gandalf and his owner in the costume parade last year, and I ended up following Gandalf’s Facebook page afterwards. This sweet little dog gets to go to a lot of conventions, and probably has more costumes than I do! I’m happy I got to see him – and he definitely loves his fans, he ran right up to me as soon as I took my camera out and gave me a bunch of doggy nuzzles. I even got his pawtograph!

A photo of Gandalf the dog wearing a Starfleet uniform, with a paw print signature at the bottom right corner.

After wandering the convention center for a bit, it was time for the LARP!

Me wearing a purple shirt with puffy sleeves and a green corset dress.

I’ll cover most of the LARP in its own post – from the prep I did to the actual storytelling that happened. I will say, I think I did a much better job storytelling at Trials of the Rose than I did at the City of Heroes LARP last year. (Then again, I think anything would have been better than that, given that I had a nasty anxiety attack just before the City of Heroes LARP.)

Day 4

Me wearing a Toothless kigurumi.

I was one exhausted nerd on Sunday.

Day 4 of Gen Con didn’t really happen this year, due to Ross being sick. 🙁 He’s been struggling with stomach issues on and off for months now, and parts of Gen Con were particularly rough. On Sunday morning, he wasn’t feeling well at all, so we decided to just pack up and go home. It didn’t help that the Marriott never actually sent a bellhop up to help us with all our luggage, despite us calling twice, and never passed the word on to valet parking that we wanted to pick up our car. (Then again, I think we got off easy with hotel difficulties, given that I heard a story about a valet backing someone’s car into a window at the JW Marriott…) Once we dragged all our stuff downstairs, and once the valet brought Luna up from wherever they parked her, we headed home to look at all the goodies we got and relax a bit. (And, in my case, wash lots of costume laundry.)

And that’s the day-by-day report of Gen Con 2019! I’ll be posting more about the con in general, cosplayers at the con, the Blue Rose LARP, and my Gen Con haul later!

Keeping organized – the Magic: The Gathering edition

Welcome to another post in the Keeping Organized series – this post focuses on how I keep my Magic: The Gathering stuff organized. If you’re not all that familiar with Magic, you might think “come on, how much organizing does a deck of cards need?” Surprisingly, there’s a lot of other pieces that go into playing a game of Magic. When I started playing, I had no idea how much stuff went along with whatever deck I’m playing with. So, here’s how I keep organized when I’m playing Magic: The Gathering!

The bag

Image of a cream colored bag with the text 'Some days feel like Helvetica' on the front.

It’s not exactly a Magic-themed bag, but my inner typography nerd loves it – and it fits all my M:tG stuff perfectly.

First off, I have a bag to hold everything in. It keeps all my Magic stuff together so it’s not all over my house, and also makes it easy to grab and go when I want to play. While there are plenty of bags out there that are made specifically for holding Magic gear, I just use a simple tote bag. (I have no shortage of them, since I tend to collect them for project bags.)

If you’re looking for a Magic-specific bag, here are a couple that I’ve had my eye on:

USA Gear Deck Storage Bag on Amazon

Ultra Pro Gaming Case on Amazon

The deck box

A green, heavy-duty Magic deck box. It holds two decks of cards and also has a tray to hold extra accessories.

I love this deck box – it’s way better than the cardboard box my Saheeli deck originally came in.

This one’s kind of obvious. My deck box holds whatever deck I’m playing with, and it also holds tokens and counters that might be needed. The box I’m using now is a fancy one that holds two decks! (Eventually I’ll get a second deck.)

There are many different types of deck boxes out there, to fit any budget and any level of collecting. From simple cardboard boxes to heavy-duty storage, you’ll have no problem finding a deck box that suits you.  Here are a couple to get you started:

Ultra Pro Set of 5 Deck Boxes on Amazon

Ultimate Guard 200 Card Twin Flip N Tray Xenoskin Deck Case

Caseling Hard Case Bag for Card Games

A label maker

The same deck box shown earlier, this time focusing on the label on the front which says 'Thopterpocalypse - Izzet Artifacts Matter'.

Okay, so Saheeli doesn’t directly make thopters, but a bunch of other cards in my deck do – and it’s fun raining thopter doom on people.

While this probably isn’t necessary for those of us just starting out in the hobby, people with huge collections might benefit from a label maker. As you can see in the image above, it can be really helpful if you have a lot of pre-built decks and need to know what’s in each deck box. (Plus, it’s fun coming up with silly deck names, haha.) There are lots of options for label makers out there, and here’s a link to the one my friend J has:

Brother P-touch Label Maker on Amazon

A container for extra accessories

A tupperware container holding some small dice, a Magic: The Gathering health counter, and a dinosaur token counter.

Sometimes, simpler is better – and this is about as simple as it gets for keeping M:tG accessories together.

While my deck box does hold a fair amount of stuff, it doesn’t hold everything I need to play Magic – and that’s where my little tupperware container comes on. It currently holds health counters, dice, and regular counters, and I could easily stash extra tokens in there too. Depending on how many extra accessories you have, you might need a little more than just a tupperware container, though. My friend J, for example, has a large organizer that holds lots of counters, health counters, and other things that might come in handy when playing.

Large plastic container with the Magic: The Gathering logo on the front, holding lots of dice, health counters, and glass pebbles that are used as counters.

And sometimes, you need something bigger to keep all the bits and pieces you need organized.

You can probably find an empty container laying around at your house to use, if you need one for your extra Magic pieces.

A card holder

Wooden card holder, holding up seven Magic cards.

Best $10 I’ve ever spent.

This is quite possibly my favorite piece of Magic gear. It’s pretty simple: just a piece of wood with slits cut into it to hold up my cards while I play. This simple little piece of wood helps me see all my cards at a glance, and I can use it to keep them organized while I play. It also makes it so I can crochet or knit while I’m playing, which is an extra bonus.

Hardwood Card Holder on Amazon

Websites to keep track of my cards

I’m currently using two sites to keep track of my cards: MTGGoldfish and TCGplayer. MTG Goldfish will be more useful to me in the future, when I have more than one Commander deck.  TCG Player is definitely more helpful for me now, as it helps me keep track of all the cards I have. I figure keeping track of everything now, when I’m just starting out, will be way easier than trying to catalog everything later if I end up with a large collection of cards.

MTGGoldfish

TCGplayer

May 2019’s Nerdy Tidbits

Welcome to Nerdy Tidbits: a monthly series that collects all the little nerdy things that happen during the month that aren’t quite big enough for their own post! This month, I’ve got some costume planning, a nerdy moment at a bagel shop (of all places), and a short ramble about the first Kishar game of the year!

Gen Con costume planning

The first nerdy tidbit focuses on Gen Con costuming – which shouldn’t be a surprise! Costume planning is always a big part of my Gen Con planning each year, and this year is no different. It took me a while, but I finally figured out what costumes I’m wearing this year! I’ve actually got a bit of a theme going: strong women of sci-fi.

Photo-collage of President Laura Roslin (left) from Battlestar Galactica and Captain Kathryn Janeway (right) from Star Trek Voyager.

Two of my favorite strong women in sci-fi: President Roslin and Captain Janeway.

And this year, I only have to buy one of these costumes! I have a suit in my closet that I think should work out really well for Roslin – and if not, there’s always Goodwill. It might be a little tricky for people to immediately recognize me as Roslin – but I’ve got a plan for that. Thanks to the Denna costume I wore a few years ago, I have a bunch of name tags laying around… so I’ll just stick one on that says “President Laura Roslin” in big letters and hope that does the trick. While my hair might be a little too red to properly pass for Roslin, I think with some styling it should be close enough.

For Janeway, I’ve been meaning to buy myself a proper Starfleet uniform for a while now. I think this is as good a reason as any to get one. FanPlusFriend’s Costume Store has a Voyager-era uniform for a reasonable price, so I’m planning on getting the uniform there. I should be able to get my hair into a style similar to what Janeway’s got in the above picture, too. I’m excited about not needing a wig for either costume this year – the Sailor Moon wig from last year is more than enough wig, haha.

A nerdy encounter at the West Baden Bagel Bistro

Photo collage of a number of different minis and some homemade mini terrain.

You know, when I went in for a bagel for lunch, I didn’t expect to see minis, but hey, I’m not complaining.

Last weekend, I met the fine folks that run the West Baden Bagel Bistro, and found out they’re also a bunch of gamers! We talked about games we play, showed off minis we’ve painted, and generally nerded out. It was great – and I had a tasty bagel, too! If any of you find yourselves down in West Baden Springs, IN, you should definitely stop by the West Baden Bagel Bistro.

The start of Kishar: Season 8

Me, dressed up as my Kishar character, Ëlinyr. In the background, on the car behind me, is a plush Toothless wearing a brown headband that says "sand dragon".

Toothless and I in costume, and ready for a new season of Kishar!

This season of Kishar started off with a bang, so to speak – we went from an air of excitement and revelry to mourning the loss of the sultan over the course of the two-day game. (That new notebook I bought Ëlinyr definitely got a lot of use!) I’ll be writing up a summary of what happened from Ëlinyr’s point of view soon – you can find that summary over on Ëlinyr’s blog within the next few days, and I’ll also link to it here when it’s done.

And there’s May’s nerdy tidbits for you all – here’s hoping this turns into a fun series of little nerdy things!