Wednesday 30 April 2014

Magic: The Gathering For Playing With Friends!

by Marla Desat


Never played Magic: The Gathering before? Check out Angela Hartwick's A Beginner's Guide to Magic: The Gathering!

If you're like me, your collection of Magic: The Gathering cards is a mismatch of half-starts, fleeting infatuations with Blue-Green decks, and years of telling myself, "This year is the year that I'll really get back into Magic!" Instead of fussing over whether or not your dusty old deck is legal for sanctioned play, here are three great ways to break out the game with friends!


If you have a big collection of cards, getting together to construct decks and pit your brand new burn deck against your best friend's experimental Squirrel onslaught is a ton of fun. If you have exactly five players, the Star method is a great way to add a bit of structure to the free-for-all format. Each player picks a single Magic colour and builds a 60-card deck using only that colour. Each colour has two allied colours and two enemy colours (see the chart).  Players can attack any other player at the table, and players win when both their enemy colours lose. Allied victories are also possible. For example, if White and Black are eliminated, and then Blue is removed from the game, Red and Green win simultaneously.


If you don't have a large collection of cards, but you do have a few friends and about $15 each, a booster draft is a great way to have a tournament among friends. You will need at least four people and three Magic: The Gathering booster packs for each player. Use boosters from the same set if you can. To start the draft, each player opens a booster pack and secretly selects one card from it, and then passes the pack to their left. The pack continues around the table with each player selecting a card and then passing it on. Once all the boosters are empty, the players repeat their process with the second and third booster packs. Players pass the second booster pack to the right, and pass the third to the left. After drafting all three booster packs, players can freely add as many basic lands as they like. After adding lands, each player must have a deck of at least 40 cards. Once everyone has a deck, each pair of players plays a best two out of three match. The winners of those matches play the other winners, until only two players remain to battle in the final match.


Also known as Mini-Master, Pack Wars is the quickest game of Magic I know. Simply grab a friend and a booster pack for each of you (or randomly draw 15 cards from your collection). Open the packs without looking at the cards, and add in three of each basic land. Shuffle, and enjoy the chaos! Play a game of Magic just like normal with your 30-card mystery decks. Pack Wars is one of the most joyful ways I know to open a fresh booster pack, and it's the quickest way to play out of a box of neglected cards just begging to be taken off a shelf.

Marla Desat is a recent University of Waterloo grad living and working in Ottawa. When she isn't playing the latest video games, she's geeking out over comic books, board games, tabletop roleplaying games and science. Marla also writes for The Escapist as a freelance news writer. You can follow her on Twitter @mrdesat.

Tuesday 29 April 2014

Dystopian Fiction: a user's guide

by Marie Victoria Robertson


While browsing a bookstore recently, I overheard a conversation between two young people. “This is a great book!” one gushed. “It’s, like, a dystopian story, but everything works really well!”

Which had me thinking, like, that’s rather the opposite of dystopia. Maybe the label “dystopian fiction” is being applied a little too liberally these days, because it is the new “hot item”, but as a lover of dystopian fiction, I don’t mind it at all.

Dystopian novels traditionally include the same basic elements:

1.      A post-war/plague/apocalyptic/etc world that is already established when the story begins;
2.      A society that is in some way frightening and physically/mentally dangerous (more on this point in a moment);
3.      A hero/heroine who was born to this society (it’s rarely an outsider, you’ll notice) who attempts to subvert the system, with mixed results.

The most popular dystopian novels are popular precisely because they strike a very raw, visceral chord in us: the societies in these stories are usually based on legitimate fears we have of our current society, pushed to their extreme, making them seem frighteningly plausible. What happens if religious fundamentalism continues to strip women’s rights? Read The Handmaid’s Tale. What happens if callous love for bloody sport and reality entertainment goes too far? Read The Hunger Games.

It seems like we can split dystopian fiction into two categories: the ‘first generation’ of dystopian novels, usually one-shot stories published decades ago such as Brave New World and Logan’s Run, and the modern-day young adult dystopias that usually contain a strong focus on romance. I think it’s a great thing that dystopian fiction has experienced a renewed surge in popularity; hopefully, this means a new generation of readers will seek out the classics.

On that note, let’s look over a few titles in each era of dystopia.


1984 by George Orwell
The quintessential dystopian novel. Big Brother (aka the Government) oversees and controls every aspect of the citizens’ lives. The protagonist, Winston, works for the Ministry of Truth but secretly hates the system, and meets a fellow dissenter, Julia. 

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
In which our modern-day fears of censorship and book banning are explored in a story where books are outlawed and burned on sight, requiring a rebellious population to memorize books to preserve the knowledge they contain.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
A religious fundamentalist group overthrows the democratic US government and instills a regime in which women are devoid of any rights and freedoms. The title character, Offred, tells her story of being a “handmaid”, a fertile woman who is forced to bear children.


The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Arguably the best and most famous young adult dystopian novel, in which Katniss Everdeen, a young girl from an impoverished district, is forced to compete in a televised fight to the death against other young people.

Firstborn by Lorie Ann Grover
In this dystopian look at womanhood, gender roles, and gendercide, a young girl named Tiadone is forced by her father to be raised as a boy to save her life and give her a place in society.

Divergent by Veronica Roth
In a world where society is divided into five factions, determined by a person’s character, a young girl named Tris discovers she is Divergent—someone who does not squarely fit into a single faction, and who mysterious forces want dead.

Marie Victoria Robertson is a published speculative fiction writer and playwright, as well as the board president of Jer’s Vision: Canada’s Youth Diversity Initiative ( When all the other girls wanted to marry Johnny Depp, she wanted to run away with Worf on the Enterprise. She enjoys giant robots, time-travel paradoxes, and forcing her son to watch Futurama.

Monday 28 April 2014

Mother's Day for Geeks: Perfect Gifts for Geeky Moms

by Christina Marie

Mother's Day is fast approaching, are you stuck on ideas of what to get that Geeky Mother in your life?  I have sorted through many items and pages and pages of geeky stuff that all Geeky Mothers must have from our local "The Comic Book Shoppe" and also from, an online store based out of the U.S.  

I visited The Comic Book Shoppe for ideas on what I thought would make great gifts for the geeky mom.  Of course, it was a very easy job to find items as I am a geeky mom, the only problem was trying to limit the amount to post on this blog. If I could have I would post a picture of The Comic Book Shoppe and say, anything in this place would make a geeky mom happy!  But, I did cut my list down to some very special items for that geeky mom in your life.

Purses, bags and backpacks, something every mom needs.  I found a wide variety of superhero and animé bags, including The Walking Dead and a Darth Vader handbag (hey, my kids, I love this one!). 

Just in time for the soon to be spring/summer weather we are going to have (think positive!), I found some wonderful superhero tank dresses, as well as a Tardis version.  There were several other clothing and jewellery items for your mother, including superhero socks, tank pj sets, to which I just could not wait until Mother’s Day for and bought myself the Batgirl version.  

And last but not least, houseware items consisting of superhero, fantasy, sci-fi, comic and animé cups, mugs, glasses and water bottles and my favorite, the Star Wars lamps, using a lightsaber base with your choice of the Rebel Alliance or the Empire lampshade.

What I would give to have a Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead kitchenware sets and a Batman water bottle to take to the gym!  I would be the coolest mom there.

For those who have time to order and wait for delivery, one of the best online places for Geeky stuff is  Now this is a site that covers items of all price ranges and almost anything you can possibly think of, is there.
courtesy of
Once again, bags, bags, bags, as any mom knows that the perfect bag is an essential item to our everyday outfit.  Not just for looking good, but for storing all our necessary items, from makeup to kids stuff.  Above we see the Batman Wings and Cowl Backpack, the Handbag of Holding, which also has a sleeve to carry your laptop, and of course, for the moms with babies a Batman Diaper Bag.  

Next from ThinkGeek are some great items to add to her wardrobe.
courtesy of
A SeV Sterling Women’s Jacket, with 23 hidden pockets to store all your electronics, including space for your iPad, and an RFID-blocking wallet pocket.  

Because we know all moms are superheroes, what better than to tell her by getting her a Wonder Woman Hoodie  or a Super Heroine Caped Sleep Tanks.

ThinkGeek has an awesome selection of kitchen items that can make cooking fun and gadgets to make her life easier.  
Here we see DarthVader using an Exclusive Star Wars R2-D2 Measuring Cup Set, a USB Thermoelectric Cooler and Warmer for when she games or uses the computer which is more compact than trying to fit a mini fridge in your room, a Keyport Slide 2.0 Starter Bundle which includes a USB Flash Drive (8 or 32 GB), a mini-light, bottle opener, gift code for 3 Standard Blades and s-biner for attaching loose items.  

Some other ideas, World of Warcraft Paladin and Priest robes/housecoats, which sold out fast at BlizzCon, and a Smartphone X2 Camera Zoom, both of which can be purchased at, and World of Warcraft Cookie Cutters from

Some tips if you decide to purchase online.  Remember you are usually buying from the U.S. and often if you choose fast delivery, FedEx or UPS will charge you extra for duty.  I found out that if I order from ThinkGeek and use the regular delivery method, I can avoid paying extra duty costs.

Happy Mother's Day to all geeky mothers out there.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Pet moms also like Mother's Day gifts. Just had to put that out there. -Jordan

Christina Marie is a student at Carleton University, working on her Bachelor of Computer Science. She has a background in web development and programming and her extra time is spent on being a mommy to little geeklings, playing sports and gaming, with her current favorites being Warcraft, DayZ, CoD and CS:GO.  She enjoys blogging and tweeting gaming and tech updates @Xtina_Marie04.

Friday 25 April 2014

Geek Girl Review: Captain Marvel #1

Captain Marvel #1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick,  David Lopez - Art & Cover Art, Lee Loughridge - Colour Art
By Thea Nikolic
So I have mentioned before that I am definitely a DC girl, cosplaying as many Harley Quinn versions as possible, but lately I have been on a Marvel kick, reading a bunch of different titles. My newest addition is the new Captain Marvel featuring Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel. She has moved up in superhero ranks and so have women in comics. We are seeing more and more writers, artists, editors, you name it. The new Harley Quinn New 52 title, Transformers Wingblade and the new Ms. Marvel to name a few.
This first issue starts off with Carol and her team on an assignment on some other world in the galaxy, and then we get a what my husband and I call a "J.J. Abrams" with a "Six Weeks Ago". At this point, you get a touch of action, Carol's personal life including her relationship with Jim Rhodes aka Iron Patriot and why she might not feel like her life is going the way she wants it to. 
This is definitely a set up book for the series however the art is clean and I am excited to read further. 

Thea Nikolic aka Critical Miss has been cosplaying for several years and has just recently started hosting panels at various conventions about cosplay. She is also an actor, so she loves to play and act like her various characters that she loves. You can follow her cosplay shenanigans with her costuming husband at their Facebook page You can also follow her on Twitter @HarleyQuinnBabe as well as on Instagram harleyquinnbabe. 

Wednesday 23 April 2014

The "I Hate Fangirls" Shirt Debate: why are YOU mad?

by Jordan Danger


So this past weekend at WonderCon, a shortsighted (and in my opinion, PR nightmare of a) company called Tankhead Custom Tees was selling this shirt:

It’s offensive, right? Well, a lot of people thought so. Whenever something like that happens though, where people are getting riled up, I like to ask, what is the core issue here?

Is it that the shirt denigrates fangirls? The tee producer says that a ‘fangirl’ is a specific type of geek, loathed by all. Here’s their official explanation, actually, after the fallout that happened after WonderCon:

So I thought to myself, why IS this shirt so offensive, if there's a boy version, too? 

Can't we all just agree that we all seem to dislike each other, and move on? But somewhere in this shirt was definitely something offensive. What exactly was the problem?

So I thought about the shirt (which, taking the 'fangirls' word out of it, is kind of clever), and made some substitutions to see if it would still be something that causes torches to be lit and fists to be waved:

How often do we see the redneck community denigrated in our humour? Pretty darn often. My guess is, though, that no viral internet outrage would have ensued over this shirt. (Comment on this post and share your opinion, though. Seriously.)

I really despise poodles, so this was an easy one to think up. Because dog breed fanatics are just as fanatical as the most stalwart comic book fan. (Trust me, I'm a pug fangirl of the highest order.) As a pug fan, I obviously think all other dog breeds and their fans are out to lunch. However, aside from being only funny to people who PVR the Westminster Dog Show, this shirt is also unlikely to incite rage across the Web.

Oh MAN, who doesn't hate tailgaters, right? I suppose someone who tailgates because they have poor depth perception could be offended. Or someone who was rushing to the hospital with their pregnant wife in labour and had to tailgate that one time...still, unlikely to get me punched in the face.

So then I thought about more words, like:
'black people'
'autistic people'
'poor people'

...and the reality is, I couldn't make mock-ups of these words on the tee because I couldn't handle the thought that someone might copy the images and spread them across the internet and actually mean what the shirts would say.

So the line on the 'piss people off and sound like an asshole' meter seems to be when the shirt attacks a human group based on their attributes, culture, ability, etc. Basically, anything that someone would be bullied for in grade six.

Okay, but then how come I can totally see THIS shirt being sold at many of the queer women's festivals I've been to, and no one would freak out....

My point right here is that there's a weird 'offensiveness blindness' that happens when men are the brunt of the exact same joke as a woman. Comment below if you've got thoughts on that, but please for the love of Stan Lee, don't rely on the same tired argument that men have all the privilege. I think it's more complex than that. Give me something new to think about.

ANYWAY, I wondered if the Tankhead Tee people were fully aware of what the problem was here (using the word 'hate' in conjuction with reference to an isolated minority). They didn't seem to understand why this would be hurtful. I wanted a way to illustrate for Tankhead how it feels to be the brunt of people's discriminatory hatred--something they'd understand. So this is what I came up with:

I hope they see that, and I hope they have a little moment where the lightbulb comes on. "Ohhhhh, it DOES suck to have a tee shirt making fun of you." And hey, if they say they're offended, I'll just respond with, "You're being over-sensitive. CLEARLY I was referring only specifically to one kind of Tankhead, and it's not YOU. I swear."

Okay, so assuming I have your attention now, Tankhead, I'd like to propose some uses for your clever catchphrase that are pretty universally agreed upon:

Preach it, sister.

It's like Hunger Games with math.

Needs no explanation.
I'd really like to hear what people think about this tee shirt mess. Comment below, won't you please? I hope we can hear from supporters AND non-supporters of the shirt. I'd also like to hear which of the above alternate designs you think should be in production.

Jordan Danger is a veteran blogger, writer, and marketing consultant based in Ottawa, Ontario. She is also President and Editor of Jordan blogs at, a lifestyle blog about crafting life both literally and figuratively. She loves DIY projects, her dog, and Oxford commas.

Monday 21 April 2014

Geek Girl Review: Strangers in Paradise by Terry Moore

by Lee A. Farruga

When the original comic first came out, author Neil Gaiman himself had nothing but praise for this story about love, sex, and relationships with other human beings.

In 2004, Strangers in Paradise was put together into its first Pocket Edition. The series continued until 2007 when its story concluded. However, as recently as 2012 there has been talk of another story being written as a novel.  

Although it's been over 10 years since the first Pocket Edition, and over 20 years since the first story with main characters Katchoo, Francine and David, this series is still relevant to readers today.

Human nature, and our connection to others, is the backbone of these ageless stories. Katchoo provides a little mystery and Francine a little humour, but mainly there is a lot of tears and questions about who and what they really want. These black and white tales of inner discovery are drawn and written by Terry Moore. He has done a wonderful job of keeping the characters true to life, in both the situations in which they find themselves, and also their individual attibutes. Each character has physical features you'll see walking down your street. In other words, your average person. A reader can get close to these characters because you can believe they are real. They are not barbie dolls, action figures or superheroes.

The Pocket Edition books are still available today, and if you like real people and everyday love stories, with a wonderful visual component, then take a look at Strangers in Paradise.

You can find it at The Comic Book Shoppe on Bank Street.

Lee A. Farruga is known as everyone's Geeky Godmother. She has many talents, lots of energy, and loves to help people achieve their goals, whatever that might be. She can also be found reviewing books, games, movies and more. Also known internationally as the Canadian Queen of Steampunk, Lee created and manages Steampunk Canada. When she finds spare time, Lee does background acting for television and movies, and enjoys geeky activities with family and friends.

Friday 18 April 2014

Writing the Geek Novel: A Multi Part Series

by Jenn Kelly

There are way too many books written on how to write a novel/story.  I should know ... I own about twenty of them.  But I have created my own cheat-sheet and am willing to share with you, my fellow geek writers. So let's do it, my way. The first thing you need when creating a story is...
You remember this big word from school - the hero.  Who is your main character?  Write out her entire description.  Looks, age, shoe size, height, eye colour, favourite foods/books/hang-outs/gun.  Where does she live? Write everything out about her so that you know exactly what she looks like.  Now write out three strengths that she has. Is she scientifically brilliant a la Jemma Simmons? Is she a butt-kicking ninja a la Melinda May?  Is she a devious hacker a la Skye? I'm choosing characters from 'Agents of Shield' because they are perfectly contrasting characters and they make up all the generalizations of characteristics usually used in novels. Plus it's an awesome show.  While choosing your three strengths, you need to be imaginative as possible.  Maybe your ninja makes a mean spaghetti.  What does cooking have to do with ninja-fighting? Nothing. But it makes your ninja more relatable to the reader, because now the spaghetti-makers believe that they can be ninjas too. Dream big here. And feel free to steal ideas from other characters that you admire. In fact, what are three things do you love about yourself?
Next are your protagonist's three weaknesses. Now for this, I want you to be as mean as possible.  Pretend you don't like the hero and you want them to fail. Yes, you can pick something cute, like they're clumsy, but honestly, it is so overdone and so typical and YOU are going to change the world with your writing, so focus on being different.  An example for your brilliant scientist is that you can make them greedy.  Greedy for selfish reasons, not 'Robin Hood' reasons.  Why are you doing this? Because NO ONE wants to read about a perfect hero. They're annoying and we cannot possible ascertain a lifestyle like theirs.  And we all have big Uglies in the closet that we hide, so why not air out your hero's? Uglies make the reader sympathetic, and THAT will sell your story. (In case you didn't catch that, Uglies mean the awful parts to your personality)
Ah, yes. The Villain.  Write out everything, just like with your hero. Be as descriptive as possible. Now give your villain three strengths and make them so amazing, that your villain will probably win.  And now the weaknesses.  But use your imagination.  Don't worry about plot yet, we'll get to that soon.
Other characters to sketch out: the SIDEKICK (Hero's best friend), WISE MAN (who the Hero gets answers from -this could be a computer), MOM (who loves and cares for the Hero? Are her parents dead?), LOVE INTEREST (self-explanatory) and RULER (who makes the rules - government/police/employment/planet).

Now print it all off and put it up on your wall so you can see it.  Writers are usually visually stimulated, so keep it where you always see it. Change when and where you need to.
I confess to you that my walls are covered in yellow post-it notes of ideas and scribbles.
Happy writing! Next time we will cover, the ENVIRONMENT.

 Jenn Kelly is a published author who is learning the girl geek-dom.  You can visit her webpage that she is supposed to update, but never does. Um...that's all.

Thursday 17 April 2014

PAX East 2014: Great finds from the Indie MEGABOOTH

by Marla Desat
The Indie MEGABOOTH is my favourite place at PAX East. The MEGABOOTH is a collection of independent game developers packed into a unified presence on the show floor. Sixteen developers pooled their resources to create the first MEGABOOTH at PAX East 2012, and it has been growing steadily since. Now with over 90 indie studio members, the MEGABOOTH is a dazzling display of indie talent. Here's five games that really caught my eye this year! 

Extrasolar puts you in control of a rover on a mysterious alien planet. The free, browser-based game lets you take photographs of the alien landscape, rooted in scientific plausibility and brought to life in the beautiful still images your rover captures. By analyzing the photographs, you begin to uncover more about the planet, and about the secretive corporation funding the mission. Extrasolar combines email and its browser-based gameplay to unfold its story slowly over many play sessions. 

Most booths have something bright and flashy to draw you in – a bright banner, a poster showing off the stoic main character, a gigantic plushie hamster – but the Actual Sunlight booth had only text. It was fitting advertisement for a linear, interactive story that tackles mature themes, including suicide. Thought provoking and exhausting, Actual Sunlight isn't fun, but it is a powerful experience. Actual Sunlight is currently available for PC for $5.00. 

This ethereal and hypnotic puzzle game filled me with that joyful frustration that all great puzzle games supply. In Duet, you avoid falling obstacles by spinning a pair of small spheres locked in a circular orbit, carried forward by the music of Tim Shiel, composer and instrumentalist in Gotye's live band. Duet is currently available for iPhone and iPad for $2.99. 
Despair and desperation is the core of Gods Will Be Watching, a point-and-click thriller. The game expands on an entry for the Ludum Dare 26 game jam, a bleak survival story developed in less than 72 hours. The original game had you lead Sgt. Burden and his crew as struggle to survive until rescue arrives on unforgiving planet. The full game, which follows Sgt. Burden through six harrowing chapters, is planned for June 2014. You can pre-order the full game for PC for $8.99, or play the original browser-based game jam entry fee for free.  

Darkest Dungeon is a side scrolling RPG that combines my love for games like XCOM and Final Fantasy Tactics with an affliction system that requires you to manage both hit points and mental stress, lest your heroes be driven mad. The tactical depth of managing my heroes' stress, health, marching order, equipment and class abilities had me grinning all the way through the demo. The full release is planned for January 2015, and you can pre-order the game for PC, Mac, or Linux for $15.00. 

Marla Desat is a recent University of Waterloo grad living and working in Ottawa. When she isn't playing the latest video games, she's geeking out over comic books, board games, tabletop roleplaying games and science. Marla also writes for The Escapist as a freelance news writer. You can follow her on Twitter @mrdesat

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Capital Geek Girls News Update

We’ve had some exciting news this month at Capital Geek Girls. Let’s walk through it!


Join us at the Ottawa Comic Con to attend our workshop, The Girl’s Guide to Being Geeky! In this session, CGG Editor, Jordan Danger, will walk you through a how-to guide of being a geek or taking your geekdom to the next level. Special focus on some of the unique experiences, barriers, upsides, and challenges of being a woman in the geek world will be addressed. Can’t wait to see you there!


Local filmmaker Emma Paling created a five minute documentary about the Capital Geek Girls. You can check it out right here:

It was tons of fun, and you get to meet a few of our geek girl writers!


Your CGG fearless Editor Jordan Danger was also quoted in this recent article about harrassment at comic cons. The article highlights that Hollaback Ottawa will be presenting a workshop at the convention about harrassment. You can read the article here


Here’s another news story (video this time) in Ottawa’s Centretown News, about the geek girl experience..and yes, we’re interviewed in it again! Here’s the link


The annual Blog Out Loud Ottawa event is taking place this April 29th at the Knox Presbyterian Church downtown, from 6:30-on. This event features blog posts read out loud by the authors themselves, who have been selected by jury to provide a wide range of fun and interesting readings. CGG Editor Jordan Danger will be reading a piece from the ‘mother blog’ of CGG (her original blog), The event is free and lots of fun!


Same bat time, same bat channel. You never know where we’ll pop up next!

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