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Rebuilding : MTGA

I had a LOT of fun with the Magic The Gathering Arena closed beta but was less than enthused to restart after the wipe.

Currently, there are around 1300 unique cards and you can have up to 4 of each. By the time I was done in closed beta I had around 2600 cards – so half way there. Starting fresh, without your favorite decks, is daunting. I predicted I wouldn’t even play again but I did end up reloading. It’s free and a lot of catching up to do.

MTG:A is an amazing card game. It puts Hearthstone (and any others I have tried) to shame. Yes, there is complexity there and nuance but of course with decades old games that happens. This version is so easy to play and learn. If you ever wanted to get into MTG this is the perfect place to start.

The challenge is rebuilding what I once had. I am not entirely enthusiastic about giving them money yet – I want to see how things are structured and while they mentioned they don’t plan for an Open Beta wipe if something “catastrophic” happens they reserve the right to do so. So I am treading cautiously.

I am also playing it like WoW Emissary quests right now – something I don’t really want to do, but I have to to progress. Every day when you play a match you get a free full deck. I am not sure when this stops, but each deck has 60 cards and so far all the decks have been different. If you want to get into MTG:A just log in and play one match a day – even if you lose horribly – and you are building a collection.

There is also a daily quest (or two, or three) that you get once a day and they accrue – exactly like WoW. These also reward money (to buy packs) and pack rewards. So these also must be done. They are often “play 40 green or blue spells” or “play 25 lands”. They often force you to certain decks and colours. It is good to learn these but more importantly to see what opponents are playing.

After that, the rewards aren’t worth the effort, to be fair. So every day I log in for 1-5 matches to clear out the quests and get packs. At this rate, I will be able to play my old decks sometime in the new year. Sooner if I am very lucky (or spend a lot of money, which I won’t do in Beta state). So now between WoW and MTGA I have two daily routines on my computer. Neither make me scream GET IN THERE! but both keep me connected to the games.

And for good measure, I was just invited to a big hyped, interesting Alpha test. Which the fine print says I can’t tell you which one, although supposedly a Dev on their discord said you could say you were in or not – just nothing more than that. I’ll respect the system and not say that quite yet until I can confirm. Unfortunately it is a game mode and style I am not particularly fond of, but Alphas are always interesting to go mess around. Will see what happens.

At least there haven’t been any Hopes and Dreams style interviews yet.

Dagome

I was inspired while reading Kaylriene to take an introspective look at my gaming personal life. In many ways it has mirrored my own life and friendships. I found myself getting wispy and nostalgic reading the tales of their trip from A to Z. I struggle with these kinds of posts because I feel utterly exposed. There is not much in my life that I struggle with as a mid 40s, white, cisgender male with a logical world view (albeit empathetic) and the CEO ability to compartmentalise emotions and decision making. I’m not so sure how healthy that is. In fact, I am shocked that I fully understand the seemingly overused term “trigger” that we hear a lot about these days. Because thinking about my old EQ guild is a true trigger for me. A sadness overcomes me. Now, I think I know why – it was during this time that I had a nasty drug addiction (which I kicked without help) and that experience is as much a part of the good feelings of belonging and gaming. I have always blamed this on nostalgia but I know there are deeper forces at play, but my ability to understand them – fully – or perhaps face them and put them to rest – remains elusive.

I think to better explain what I went through it would help to explain what it felt like for me to fight addiction. First, I cut off all contact with those I used with. It was the only way, I quickly learned. They were already my only support and friend group but even when I did well to avoid the drugs – just having a few drinks with them and being around access to it would make it hard to avoid using. So I cut everyone out of my life who I was close to because I couldn’t handle it. Things got bad quickly. Withdrawal is terrible. I can’t explain the feeling in words enough to do it the horrible justice it is. It’s appropriate, mind you, as a barrier if you do get through it that no high can ever balance or make worth that low. When I was fighting during my personal rehabilitation I could never sleep. My heart would race at night uncontrollably. I was so sure my heart was going to stop that I would drive to the hospital, park in the parking lot, and sleep there. At least if my heart did stop I would be close to help. I did this for months. Try to sleep at home, panic, drive to hospital, get some sleep in my car in the parking lot. Winters were cold. I lived and was alone. I probably pushed away people who could have helped.

As a gaming blog I don’t know if I want to continue too far down this path. I just wanted to explain this part as I was a heavy user, and recovering addict, during my time with EQ. The bright light around it was that I used my online friendships as support and purpose to pull me through the dark time. Having to cut out your in-life friends and being too ashamed to explain to your family is a very lonely place. I found that support in my guild. Even though THEY didn’t know what I was going through (being an addict is a complete embarrassment to me) they were always there – someone was 24/7 in game and someone or a group to spend time with, have fun with, and just not feel alone.

So yeah, that is the basis on which every time I think of my old guild, or visit the forums that still exist (they boards themselves have gone through 3-4 hosting changes and survived unscathed), I feel a deep sadness. Maybe it isn’t sadness, but the emotions are hard to explain or control. This sometimes leads me to believe that maybe I hold a depression inside, in one of my tidy and clean compartments but it is only triggered by my old guild. I log into EQ and I have characters still in that guild and I check to see if anyone has logged in. Years have passed for almost all, even decades. I don’t really play there but I can’t let go either. I stop by regularly to check and to do a /who all on the server to see if I recognize any of the names.

I am not sure if I feel worse about all of this because of how healthy my life is right now – physically, I am very fortunate. I have a great life and do not have many struggles to face “in the world” that many do. It is sometimes because of this I feel guilty for harbouring these emotional struggles. As a business leader it’s hard to show or share this because I am afraid people will not want to follow someone who isn’t “a rock”. And while I mostly play that part quite well and can inspire others to be the best versions of themselves, I have this one trigger that always pulls me back down to a weird place of happiness and sadness, existing at the same time.

Yes, writing about it feels good. That fear of someone connecting this to my real world self is cowardly but I can write under general safety of anonymity, for the most part. I am not that important for people to care either. Good thing I never plan on running for office. =)

Dagome. All of that to explain Dagome. Dagome was an enchanter in The Grove on the Testserver. His name was Wojtek. He was Polish. We were online friends and late-night grinders, often just the two of us. I was a Troll Warrior. One day he asked if he could call me – and that was strange because we had never spoken. Of course I said yes, and he did. He had a very heavy accent.

He was suicidal.

This was after I went through my challenging period and I was able to support him well on the phone. I knew the feelings he had. They were all too familiar with what I struggled with. This gave me strength, oddly enough, to be able to help him. That was the first of many calls (from what I can remember – funny how memories are), and we were great in game friends for many years. Eventually he left to a new game, tired of EQ. He was in a pretty good place when he did, again, if memory serves me correctly. We had a brief time where I joined him at DAOC but the personal ties weren’t as strong as the gaming needs. I wanted to recreate the test experience on Pendragon, which I ultimately did for several years. He was still angry about how the devs did things on Test with the wipe, and just wanted a regular life on a regular server. We both made characters on each others’ servers and promised cross play. Didn’t happen too often and we lost touch.

I had locked away that part of my life and moved on. WoW was always positive and I stopped thinking and worrying about the past, and moved on happy in life. Met a girl, married, have a healthy child. Something drew me one day to search for the Guild, and it’s members from The Grove. I am not sure what, or why, but I did find the forums. And that was when the first trigger happened. And it hasn’t stopped since. Although the trigger is still there and it always hits me when I visit, good memories and happy feelings always follow. It’s quite strange.

Sometimes I wonder about Dagome, about Wojtek. Where he is today. I tried looking for him on facebook but without any luck. I hope he is happy and healthy in life and relationships. I sometimes worry if he went the other way. I logged into my Shaman in EQ recently and she had logged out at the Lake of Ill-Omen. She was there because I would log her in to give Dagome and his enchanted goblin buffs, and log her back out to log Braack back in. We farmed that spot for hours, pulling goblins from the lake. It reminded me that that was the last in game place in EQ I spent time with Dagome in. Probably the last time I spent meaningful time with him. If you can count gaming as that.

When I was young I had a real life ‘movie moment’. I had a summer job with summer friends and for several years we spent our summers working and having fun together. Their grandparents had a cottage nearby and I was a local. That last summer we were hanging out in a bunkie by the lake after a night shift, listening to music and talking. The twins weren’t coming back to work the next summer. It was the end of a long run together. Forever young was playing on the radio. I was on the bottom bunk, one was on the top and the other on a bed by the window. We told stories and shared memories. We said we would keep in touch and always be friends. I pulled out a jack knife and carved my name into the bottom of the top bunk. I cried.

Even though I spent years there I never saw their grandparents cottage, that bunkie, or them again.

Life is funny sometimes.

Unsubscribed and Patiently Waiting : WoW

My subscription lapsed yesterday and even though I have tokens in hand, there isn’t much reason for me to log in. I am fully up to date on the Alliance War Story, and fully geared as I can be as a non raider. There are no more goals to hit for me – the boring, repetitive emissary quests for Rep for items I don’t really care about are not a draw. I sitll have rep to grind to finish the war story on the Horde side but that is a week worth of “work”, and I will pick that back up when I do resubscribe.

I definitely plan on it. Whenever 8.1 hits and more story and things to do surface. I have no clue when that patch is going to drop but it is on PTR now so probably not long.

What to do until then? I had planned on WildStar when there was no end date mentioned. November 28th has been announced, and I’m now less enthused because I don’t think I can do or see the things I want to do there in that time frame. Perhaps it is best left untouched, as nostalgia often is.

I am tempted to go finish levelling in EQ2 – I had a great run there not that long ago and really enjoyed it. It did start to grind on me a bit, but I think that is because I didn’t do an 5 mans. Now I have no clue if they even have a LFG tool, and if they do, that could really open up getting to the finish line there. Again, no clue, and this is my “put out an EQ2 question to the universe instead of google” and wait for Bhagpuss to respond (as he often does in EQ2 cases). Thanks in advance.

Any PC single player games out there that are worth playing that have an ending?

This mid game Limbo is never fun, but always works out in the end. Any ideas?

Another Brick in The Wall : Warfronts

Well, the Warfront scenario in Battle For Azeroth is an interesting one. It’s a play on the old RTS game, and plays out kind of like a League of Legends style MOBA with 20 live “actors”. It was kind of fun a few times, too. Challenge is that it completely negates Mythic 0 level content and below.

I find it strange in some ways and good in others. For example, you are guaranteed an ilvl 340 item everytime. There must be bad luck / duplicate protection because while I did get some duplicates I was able to get a full set of gear, plus weapons for both of my specs, in a single day. It was a slog/grind as the average Warfront seems to go 30-45 minutes but my main character is at their gear “max” for the content I do outside of doing an LFR weekly. The gear you get is also titanforgeable as I received pieces between 340 and 370 ilvl. It is a “can’t lose” scenario. You always win. There is no challenge. Yes, there are ways to optimize the experience but overall it’s just free gear.

Compare that to Mythic +0 which gives 340 gear, but does not have a LFG component and there is more pressure to perform in them. If you don’t know what you are doing you can lose those.

Heroic 5 mans give base 324 gear. Warfronts basically took away the usefulness of doing a 5 man dungeon. That is a lot of content negated so early in the expansion.

The downside? Well, it’s not really engaging or compelling content after the 10th time, and also well, just look at me.

another pawn in the Alliance game

I went from an independent hero of the Alliance – a Druid of the Cenarion circle, to just another pawn in uniform. Godawful colors at that too. Good news is that they are launching new armor sets with new Warfronts (and a Night Elf themed one is due in 8.1) but really, with the same ilvl of gear it will be a transmog +titanforge hunt at best.

With the chase for gear out of the way that just leaves the hunt for Reputation which does unlock some higher gear at exalted and gates recipes for the (mostly useless) professions. This gear up mechanism is so effective that I really am just waiting for the Horde to get it back now that my Paladin is ready to go because there is no point in chasing small upgrades when Warfronts gives you them every time. The end result will mean less tanks, healers and players in general doing 5 man content and most mass queuing up for the Warfront. Heck, with 4 days left on my subscription I started levelling my Shaman because there isn’t much point in spending time on my “mains” once the daily emissary is completed.

The WoW routine is getting set and pretty simple so far, and unfortunately not in the engaging, exciting way Legion did it. At least when you did emissary quests you had a chance for something exciting – a legendary item! Now you just get some azerite, gold or an item you already out level, and some rep. Doesn’t really scream “play me”.

In other news, I am reloading WildStar to see what I can see there before it is gone. Will be a tossup on whether or not I renew my sub for WoW or just wait for 8.1 and the new story, Warfront,  and excitement that could bring.

Sad Ending : Telltale Games

I have really enjoyed several of their titles – especially the original Walking Dead series and The Wolf Among Us.

The company is effectively shutting down after finishing off the latest Walking Dead game.

Oddly enough, there isn’t a reason given that I have read. Mashable has a story up.

It seemed like a successful company with a lot of acclaimed titles – big names too – including Game of Thrones and Batman.

I can only guess that the cost of licencing must have been a downfall. Either that or mismanagement.

As always, best of luck to the 225 people laid off (from 250) finding work to support yourselves and your families.

Optimism Vs Cynicism

A lot of fun speculation with the announcement of a “free” flying pirate ship mount if you just prepay for game time.

Optimist in me : “Guys, we have such awesome content coming down the pipeline, you HAVE to stick around and see it! Trust us you won’t be let down! Here is a shiny mount just for being an awesome, dedicated playerbase willing to hang in there while these changes come down the pipeline.

Cynic in me : “Subs are bleeding, mood out there is bad, quick, let’s lock down subs to buy us time to figure out what the hell we are going to do with this mess.

I get the feeling that depending on how your Battle For Azeroth experience has been so far, is how you respond to this announcement.

120 Blues

Max level in an expansion is usually an exciting place. It was fun getting both my Druid and Paladin there (most recently the Paladin, Horde side) and the differences in the campaign truly made it worthwhile to enjoy both story lines. Instead of a sigh of relief while now at the level cap it’s a sigh of boredom. There just isn’t a lot of fun feels to be had with where I am at in the game.

  • Sure, I’m running my daily emissary quests, all 30 minutes for each character. The quests are the “same old, same old” of Legion.
  • I did a few Island expeditions on my Druid. I need 5 “different” islands to move my war campaign unlocks around. They are boring and pretty useless. Forced advancement at it’s worse.
  • I haven’t done the Warfront scenario yet, but I did do the “run around Arathi highlands killing un-challenging content and getting 340 / 370 loot randomly (high end gear). Turns out I get to do that once a week now too…
  • I have ran all of the 5 mans between my two tanks. They are OK. Historically I love 5 mans, but the rewards seem to be really sparse. And with the drops from the Arathi (above) I’m better off not running 5 mans and just doing Arathi once a week, with whichever side I can.
  • Alts are demoralizing. You have to grind out the same rep on each character. Hard enough the first two times. Well, not hard, just not fun enough the first two times. (And I still have a long way to go).
    • While the story is great, that’s the first time. The second time won’t be. It never is.
  • Professions are a waste this expansion. The mats you need to craft usable gear forces mythics. They are helping that a bit this patch with a “chance” to drop in Heroics, but those aren’t that great (noted above).
  • I’m not even revered yet in my main campaign reps, because grinding out 75 per pop via WQs is not a fun way to earn 12000 rep (when the emissary grants 1500 for completion. It just hasn’t been up in several days)
  • The game is too formulaic this time. Every new small quest area gives a single quest to “introduce” the area. Then they give 3 quests to do within it. Then a final quest. It’s 5 per, every time.
  • This expansion was the “check boxes” expansion in every way, the way it was developed, the way it plays out.

It feels like it has no soul, if that makes sense.

I keep logging in daily, hoping something will stick. I am going to play out my month, hope the story / tasks I am asked to do jumps when I get the rep I need, and just hope something clicks. I am not confident right now. Which is sad considering how high Legion was for me overall.

I’ve read a few other “mehs” – anyone absolutely loving it? Are you raiding? Just sticking to one character?  Not sure what I am missing. If I am.

Watermelon Seeds : WildStar

Oh WildStar.

I told you so.

I know that is very, very helpful. And to be fair, like many others, I am actually really sad it didn’t make it. I would often reinstall, play for a bit (I wanted to see/feel the story of Nexus), get wigged out by the colors and playstyle, uninstall. It was a slow slog, but I was getting there. And I hoped every time I logged in that it would grab me “this time”. Except it didn’t. Just long enough to see a cutscene with Drusera, run a quest hub, check out my awesome house, and leave for a long time.

I know it has been covered before – even here – but the core premise of why WildStar failed is more easily explained by watermelons. Most people like watermelons. Some like them with seeds, some like them seedless. No one likes them with extra seeds. There isn’t a watermelon company on the planet with a selling proposition saying “we have twice the seeds as the other watermelon company!”. In a MMO world that was focusing on convenience, simplicity and play-ability at the time they went the other way. It was something no one was asking for. In fact, if you had a focus group on Watermelon wants and desires I would punch the person in the face that said we need more seeds. It was that silly.

Look, the beta weekends were fun and it had a lot of good going for it. Here is my post history about WildStar and the synopsis around each:

That’s a lot of content, hope, cynicism and realism all wrapped into a strong posting year about it in 2014. I wanted it to work badly. Most of us just knew it wouldn’t the way it was designed.

I am disappointed I won’t ever learn or experience what happened on Nexus, why the planet was such a big deal. Not sure who Drusera really was, or why the strain happened, or who wins the battle for the planet. There was so much cool about the WildStar and chalk another one up to a bad outcome of timing, decision making, and disappointing results.

Hype Level 11ty Billion

Not going to say much due to hype levels – but I played this game pen and paper growing up, it’s by the team that made The Witcher series, and hype levels are currently unhealthy.

Can’t wait. The merge of FPS and RPG in this early reveal looks well done.

I hate the hype train, so going to try and forget about this for a while. No release date yet.

A Telling Pause : Battle For Azeroth

My subscription lapsed this morning. Since I am Canadian I opt not to buy monthly subscriptions due to exchange rate shenanigans (we are close to $20 a month here to play) – especially since you can buy three month game cards for half the price at various retailers. I didn’t have one on me, but I do have a couple WoW tokens. I still paused. Do I want to keep playing?

Right before my 120 Ding. Notice the armor matches the mood and feel of the Kul Tiras zones

The fact that crossed my mind (and still is – I haven’t said “yes” yet even as I write this) is telling to me. Legion was awesome (except for the mid gear reset). Battle For Azeroth has taken storytelling to the next level for WoW. That is great. The first time through. The thought of levelling with alts through the same content is kind of putting me off right now. How did I get here?

I finally hit 120 on my Druid. While the story was good, Guardian Druids are in a most boring playstyle place – especially coming from Legion. The scaling issues and fact they are trying to tanks more like tanks meant that I could kill 10 mobs at a time, but it just took a long time. The story was great. Slogging through mindless mobs to continue the story wasn’t.

I just wanted to show the quest gear style for the Horde Zones as a comparison (which also matches the story / style)

My Horde Paladin is all new content, however, so that is promising. She is only level 113 now but it is “fresh and new” – the tanking playstyle is much more fun on a Paladin but still the same M.O. Gather as many as possible, kill all slowly. Although, to be fair, it feels like the Paladin kills things way faster.

I’m already back in my Legion style “maintenance” mode. I log in, do the daily emissary quest on my max level character, and then log them off. I have a full quest log that I’m not even sure if I get rep from, so should I even bother finishing? The rep grinds to do anything else in game are real, but I am not going to bang out all the World Quests I can find to do so (especially now that they add more several times per day – you can literally play 24/7 now, just to move a bar.) It could be a shame that in an expansion that did a great job on story that it feels like WoW is a never ending to-do list meant to trap the completionist side of everyone. Maybe it was always that way.

I am pretty sure I will stay in to finish the Horde Story Line. Come to think of it, I think I am missing part of the Alliance story line too – don’t think I have rescued Jaina. Confused why that’s not front and centre…

After that, who knows. Do I “suck it up” and level an alt? Throw myself into LFR raiding? Professions are poorly done this expansion and not worth doing and all I can think of is huh, this might be a short one for me until more is put in. I might try something crazy like just levelling through dungeons with DPS classes and grinding out mats for free time – the ZEN style of it all, but right now I just don’t know of my future with BFA. Weird because of how excited I was to get to level cap, and be thoroughly disappointing that the destination doesn’t feel like it did the journey justice.

Update: I did resubscribe. I will at least finish off daily emmisaries on my Druid as I work (ugh, I said work) to complete the Horde story line.

Update #2: Glad I am not the only one feeling this way

Happy Belated Birthday : I HAS PC turns(ed) 10

Well, this is awkward. I forgot my own Blog Anniversary day. (Blog Birthday? Blogiversary? Whatevs…). August 27, 2008 I wrote my first post. It was short. Here is the full content to save you the link clicking.

We are all Experts! (notice the clever use of capitalization for emphasis). Surely we all are, are we not? We have blogs and a voice to share our “expert” (notice clever use of quotations) knowledge and profound experiences!

I have always been interested in blogging yet never really motivated. I scour message boards and blogs – a fervent fan – but never an author.  Something about having a single place to share personal opinions, instead of having to post all over the place, is attractive. Wondering if anyone will actually read the posts, is terrifying. I refused to read any guides or posts on how to start your own blog taking my preferred approach of jumping right in. Feet first mind you, as I am still not quite sure how deep the pool is in this end.

I HAS PC – Silly name, I know. Part of it is a play on how internet society has shaped our own language, the jokes between gamers and PC enthusiasts (all ur base are belong to us – anyone? Bueller?) but the truth is, I do have a PC, and I am an avid gamer. Currently I am entrenched in MMO’s and FPS’s. Fortunately for me, I have been in many a beta test since the late 1990’s and have enjoyed an insider view on game development. A lot of what I post here will surround the games I am involved in, the groups and organizations that are built around those same games, and the friends (and enemies) that post their opinions about both. Add in a dash of general interest topics, life as a gamer with family, professional, and child raising responsibilites (and funnies when they pop up now and again – who can live without the funnies?) – and we should have a fun little rounded blog here.

We all consider our own opinions important. Heck, it is one of the few things we have that that isn’t taxed (regularly) by the government. We have an abundance of them, an endless resupply, and many outlets to distribute them. Opinions are a chicken-or-the-egg conundrum. Do our opinions shape who we are, or is it who we are that forms our opinions? Regardless, I encourage everyone to add theirs on topics brought up. One thing I have learned, is that I have grown the most from other people who enjoy discussion and have opinions very different from mine.

The look and feel of the site will evolve as I figure it out. Special thanks to GTB for setting up the initial stage for me. Comments on the look and feel are very much welcome.

Well, there we go. First post done, and in the books.

I suppose I should buy myself flowers, or a new SSD, or something, since it is supposed to be tin or aluminum (are SSDs made of either of those?). As always, I credit Kill Ten Rats for me starting to blog as I was jamming up their comments section back then with so many thoughts and opinions. I still half expect them to apologise for that to the community at large at some point.

Last year I made fun of the fact that nine years isn’t a big deal, but ten – the big decade – definitely is. I am not so sure that I feel that way still. Moreso happy to be alive I think. Both in a human, literal sense and also from a “I write stuff and some people read it – still” sense. I’m lucky to have a platform and a voice and it is something I have managed to balance the enjoyment of, and the quasi responsibility, for.

I still use too many commas. It’s my calling card I think.

Some years, on this day, I reflect if I still do enjoy it and if I should continue to write. I had taken extended breaks in the past. I don’t really feel like I am ready to be done here, despite the less than cutting edge coverage I provide, and the same, comforting games I fall back into frequently. Back when I started I felt like I had so much to say about gaming, the industry, how things should be. Now I just write on what my whims are, and am just happy to be part of a strange, mostly anonymous community that still gives that comforting feeling of belonging.  Truth be told if options presented themselves I’d love a meet and greet to share stories in person, or at bare minimum, beer, but with life as busy as it is I will settle for comments, replies to comments, “likes”, and the like. It works.

Thank you for being a small but important part of my world here. It means more than you know.

Chris / Isey

Looking For Guild and Random Things

LFG

I haven’t had to look for a guild in 10 years in WoW. I became a part of a guild in Vanilla, and when we went from 40 man to 25 man raiding a group of us splintered off and formed a separate guild for TBC, and I was with that guild for most of WoW. Then when I left WoW for a bit and came back to find the people I was closest with moved servers (Uldum), I followed them with a character. Then another. My play time was very sparse at this time and I’d log in for a bit for each expansion and go long stretches outside of WoW. However, everytime I came back they were there.

Until Legion. The guild imploded and scattered to the 4 corners of Azeroth.

I wasn’t planning on sticking around Legion much and I took random guild invites just to get perks and see green text, and have people to level with, and chat with. There were no applications, few discussions – just “hey, you are in!”.

I want to change that. Not that my random guild experiences have been bad at all – but just looking for like-minded people. And people who read blogs tend to be those =) So, I have 3 Alliance toons I plan on playing this expansion and three Horde. All are on Uldum. If you have a guild or know of one on Uldum (I’m not even sure how it works cross realm now) let me know – would love to get a new home for the long term.

New Blogs Added

I have enjoyed reading Alunaria over at Alunaria’s Avenue and like many things, was surprised I hadn’t run into it before. We share a lot of likes over at Leo’s Life. Adding to my fun and fancy blogroll!

The second is a huge surprise for me – Marathal has a blog! Maybe I shouldn’t be so shocked. I see M all the time all over the Blogosphere participating in comments and likes for BlogNation. Once or twice I checked here by clicking his name and it took me to a link that was dead for his blog, so I assumed he was just a mega-reader and participator / contributor through comments. Oddly enough (again, back to degrees of separation) Alunaria liked a comment I made at Leo’s, so I checked her blog, and saw she linked Marathal and I was dumbfounded I didn’t realize it! Anyway here is a link to M’s blog and added to my blogroll as well.

Happy when these things happen, and it’s a Friday. Life is good.

BFA Update : Slow and Steady Wins The [blank]

This is my second (or third) fully mobile written post. Please forgive the typos, grammar, and formatting errors that I somehow no longer feel responsible for due to the format. FREEDOM!

I am inching along in BFA. My Druid isn’t 114 yet and my Paladin isn’t 113. And my desire is to start another character on his/her journey to 120.

I’m enjoying it and first time through all quests reading everything and comprehending what is going on. Currently no desire to race to max level or the gear grind. The simple truth to this is that I burned myself out mid Legion on maximizing ilvl every week and thought I was enjoying it. That was until they did a gear catch up mechanic in 7.2 (I think?) And quest stuff started dropping that was higher than the Mythic+ items I was grinding out hard. This will happen again. I’m better off waiting for it than pushing myself up against it.

I’m more interested right now on exploring the game, my characters, working on tradeskills and making in game money so I don’t have to pay a sub. Tokens are the lowest since pre-legion right now and I want to take advantage of that.

All of this may change once I start re-doing content. I expect it to. But there is no rush for that.

My only gripe in BFA right now is that Azerite gear bonuses don’t swap on spec change – forcing the choice between dull play or multiple gear sets. Neither are attractive.

Well, I have a second one too, actually. I want to max out more tradeskills AND play more characters on both sides. However I can’t mail tradeskills items between factions on my own account. This seems counterintuitive to me. It’s my account and I should be able to share items among my own characters at will.

This is a silly restriction that really should be gone sooner rather than later. Highly unsatisfying and unecessary barrier to fun.

For example, I want a tailor to upgrade bags for all of my characters. I should be able to mail them to them (and them only).

Otherwise, lots of fun to be had so far. Happy to be playing.

BFA Launch : Slow Clap or Not so Fast?

This was my experience last night.

Get home from work, make dinner, be a pool boy for a bit.

Think about logging in to Battle for Azeroth at 6pm. Decide  against it thinking it will be a gong show.

6:30, I figure I will get in the queue – even if it is bad, will be interesting to see! Besides, I have dishes to wash from dinner. Get in queue, do dishes, maybe play at a low framerate.

Hit login. Log right in. Pick character. Straight to game.

No lag, no issues. Played through the Kul Tiras introduction. Get an achievement.

First impressions were:

  • Love the new “story telling” format, and curious if they keep it up throughout the expansion. (yay!)
  • First piece of new Azerite armor is a reskin from a piece you get on Argus (boo)
  • Difficulty is fine based on where my gear is at (yay!)
  • I am a bit lost, new areas and a bit uncomfortable after so long of knowing everything (yay! new is good!)
  • There was the first level 120 in 5 hours (boo! or maybe yay!, since I love alts…)

So, completely impressed at how smooth it was for me to enter and play. Awesome experience.

Then I started reading the internet. Lawsuits. Ombudsman getting involved. State Senators being called. Online petitions. All because of login issues. I’d say “first world problems” but there needs to be a more condescending term for people who get angry and threaten over access to a video game. I just can’t think of an existing term that wouldn’t insult the regular group more by being grouped up with the online complaining low-lifes.

Glad I wasn’t those guys. Smooth as a babies bottom.

Well done Blizzard!

(for my server, anyway.)

Battle for Azeroth Plans

Here I am, a WoW blog and blogger again. My normal cycle of getting in and out of the game. It has staying power, at least.

At the end of Legion I did my goal of getting my Bearform artifact appearance and then turned my gaze towards levelling some alts. For some reason I felt like I needed more 110s and a plan to have all the Alliance races and classes represented. I even made a spreadsheet to show what changes I had to make to do that, and what options I had. And of course, in the idea of having equal M/F characters would need one to change sex. Here was the plan:

F Dwarven Hunter
M Night Elf Druid
M Void Elf Monk
F Human Paladin
F LightForged Draenai Priest
M Dark Iron Dwarf Warrior
M Gnome Death K
F Draenai Shaman
M Worgen Rogue
F Blood Elf Demon Hunter
M Kul Tiras M/W
F Pandaren Ma/Wa

My Druid wasn’t changing from a Night Elf, so my hunter had to. I settled on needing a race change to a Dwarf. I had two Draenai – Shaman and Paladin. One needed to change. I decided to plan for changing one to a Human. Decided on Paladin. (notice I said the word plan, things changed…). I didn’t like the female form of the Werewolf so decided to plan on changing to a Male form for my rogue which left a Mage / Warlock needed. I don’t know class restrictions on the Kul Tiras yet so saving the option.

That leaves my NE Druid at 100, Soon-to-be Dwarven Hunter at 110, Soon-to-be Human Paladin at 100, Draenai Shaman at 110, and Soon-to-be Male Worgen at 110. 5 at max.

Next closest is the Blood Elf – who is a Horde – at 108. Rest are at different stages. This plan looked good for me except I found myself not loving the Demon Hunter playstyle. When I bought my Paladin Race change on a whim I did a faction change instead and made her Horde. Afterall, this expansion will have very different levelling experiences and I think I want to play through the Horde side as well. My tossup for “main” was between Druid and Paladin (Monk as well, but he’s only level 40 so will be a longer slog). So now I have two mains, one for each faction, and can enjoy the story from both sides. The Druid and Paladin will be my focus. To start at least.

I’ll be levelling the Void Elf Monk. Lightforged Draenai, and soon to be Kul Tiras Mage/Warlock and Dark Iron Dwarf Warrior as well. This happens with the excitement of each expansion but eventually it will wane and I will move on. Lots on the horizon. In the meantime I have a plan to play WoW and am very much looking forward to it – even if I couldn’t sort through a full Alliance lineup.

I am back from vacation just in time, and also am looking forward to finishing off my “Spec me out!” posts. So a health dose of WoW it is!

“Work” Opportunity!

This is very relevant to Blaugust.

Somehow, my team at work felt creating an awesome newsletter was the best way for us to communicate to our business network of ~350 separate business units.

It’s good information but a bad platform.

I’d like someone great with WordPress to spend some time converting 3 multi section newsletters into a blog so I can show the team how an interactive platform could be more beneficial.

I don’t have the time or the internal resources to get it done.

Now, due to international work laws, etc. instead of hiring and paying for it I am offering an Amazon Gift Card.

I’m estimating $200 as its a demonstration platform and all the content is already created, just needs to be cut/pasted, categorized, etc. I am flexible if it takes more time than expected. (budgeting 10-15 hours)

email me at chris at ihaspc.com if you would like to discuss further!

Spec Me Out! : Rogue

I have always loved playing a rogue. Generally my rogue was my “escape” character back when you were able to have those characters you went to when you needed a break from the guild, or just needed to be anonymous for awhile. I did not PVP on my rogue but instead did fun other challenges like pickpocketing for epics. When Combat Rogues became a thing I naturally gravitated to that specialization as I was always less about the sneaky sneaky and poisons and more about a swashbuckling style combatant. So here I am, wanting to play a rogue but my time and style in WoW often revolves around getting good 5 man queues – since I enjoy that the most. This eliminates any pure DPS class for me as a “main” as the 10-15x extra wait to play one hurts the enjoyment of the game for me. This is how I am deeply rooted in the thought that due to the way WoW plays every class needs at least one heal or tank spec. I am going one further in this series as I introduce ideas for every spec a class is missing. The Rogue gets to be the first! This is meant to be a thought starter and hoping people share their thoughts and ideas.

Swashbuckler – Tanking Spec

Dodging blows, parrying attacks, a nimble tank that steps in and out of trouble with flair and reckless courage. This is by far the easiest, because the Rogue already has so many great tools to tank. Feint, Evasion, Cloak of Shadows, Feint/Elusiveness, Cheat Death – you can almost tank as is, and some Rogues have done small stints in the past when the tank went down. The Rogue tank is only missing the ability to take consistent and big damage.

Tanking mechanic: Panache: Takes X% less damage to enemies within X yards of the Rogue. The focus on defensive mechanics lowers damage output by X%. Panache is meant to close the game on straight up damage soaking baselines of the other tanks while bringing their DPS in line. You can tweak dodge and parry mechanics to make up the rest. X% being the difference of what the rogue has versus current tanks and the X yards range is to keep things interesting and force good cooldown use and positioning. Abilities could increase / decrease the percentage DR (damage reduction) on Panache to allow good use of energy and combo points.

Really, that is all it would take to make a Rogue a tank, along with tweaks to their defensive cooldowns. Figured to start with the easy one!

Gunslinger – Ranged DPS

Living between the edges of melee and ranged the Gunslinger wields pistols with accuracy and lethality. With pistols being introduced to the Rogue class in Legion this is a great opportunity to have the Rogue as a ranged spec. Pistols: Range X% less than rifles. Dual wield.

Mechanic: Speed Reload – the Gunslinger starts with 6 Combo points (representing 6 bullets) and spends them on damaging abilities. They must be “reloaded” before being able to be used again at a rate of X seconds per point

The idea behind the gunslinger is to switch the combo points mechanic on it’s head. Legion already introduced the idea of 6 combo points being possible. It’s a midrange dps spec that needs to be closer to the action than their traditional ranged counterparts, and has almost complete mobility – except when they have to reload – for which they have to be completely stationary to do. This puts them in a niche spot where most ranged DPS classes are timing their DPS losses while moving – and the Gunslinger is timing their DPS classes on reloading while forced stationary. Skills and procs / shots can lower reload time by X% and the player needs to balance when to reload vs burst windows. This is also unique as most classes either have a priority system or a builder/spender setup. Tons of ideas on different abilities from trick shots to emptying the chambers – would be a really fun specialization to fully kit out and living between the melee and ranged dps puts it in a very unique spot.

Bandolier – Healer

This was the hardest spec to think about. I didn’t want to introduce magic to a martial class so had to go the route of alchemy. If they can use poisons to such good effect, why not concoctions that heal as well? The Bandolier supports their group by tossing potions that have strange and wonderful effects with buffing and healing during combat. Many are attached to his bandolier for quick access, but due to the volotile nature of these alchemized creations some of the more powerful ones need to be combined / mixed right before use (which explains casting cooldowns on use). Think shades of Professor Putricide.

To add some flair and to make this class more interesting it could be a bit off centre like Disc Priests – using Damage Reduction shields, concoctions to add hit points, stats, etc. More of a buffer than straight healer but with enough juice to heal solo through using the various means. The AOE healing would be a Mentos / Coke style item thrown into a group and the resulting spray has AOE effects.

Healing Mechanic: Oops! – while preparing a potion with a concoct timer there is an X% chance that the effect is increased by X%, X% chance that one or more effects are included in the potion, or that no concoct (combo) points or energy is used.

This adds a bit of “roll the bones” to it which I found a very fun mechanic (I know others disagree!) but a few elements of randomization can add some fun flavour to the class as long as that randomization is minimal and not dependent on the class performing against their peers.

None of these specs are much of a stretch in terms of lore or what has been previously introduced into the game.

Would you play any of these Rogue specs?

Spec Me Out! : A WoW Class Design Series

Yes I am on vacation, but have some extra time some mornings and like to keep up with what is going on in Blognation so will try to squeeze in a post or two.

The next series of posts I write will be around class design in World of Warcraft. I won’t be talking about current specs or the broader design principles that Blizzard has used over the years (or is using in BFA) but instead I will talk about what is missing.

And that is, a healing / tanking spec for every class.

Like many armchair developers this idea is very personal and applicable to me – so it must be important, right? The truth is – using my experience and aspirations as an example – classes not having a heal or tanking specialization  limits everyone who wants to play a DPS class. Directly – I would love to play a Rogue as a main in BFA but the lack of being able to mix it up or have options outside of DPS isn’t that enticing. Even worst, the wait times to do 5 man dungeons is currently 10-15x longer than a healer or a tank. For someone who might only get an hour to play here and there I don’t want to spend that hour watching a timer tick down and hope when it does I become part of a functioning group.

I have heard the counter arguments before – that people will feel like they have to use those specs if they are available (some sort of peer pressure?) and that balance is already hard enough (it is, but we have learned to live in imbalance in WoW).  Again – with my experience – all I can share that while I am sitting in a DPS queue bored to hell on my Rogue sapping and pickpocketing random mobs I could be tanking. And if I WAS tanking, that means three other DPS players also got in faster. Instead we are all sitting around waiting for more tanks and healers to join the fray. I want to – but also in the class theme that I want to play.

This series will explore some ideas on how to introduce different specializations for every class in WoW – and for EVERY type. For example Rogues – which is where I will start – I will introduce ideas behind a healing spec, tanking spec, and ranged dps spec. For Monks (as an example) just a ranged DPS spec since that is all they are missing. I am not going to talk about what specs to remove or what to change in existing specs – I’ll let you do that on your own if you like any of the ones I introduce.

Some will have some new and interesting mechanics and some will definitely be a bit of a stretch – but I know everyone  who plays WoW spends some time thinking about class design and for some fun and hopefully to inspire some conversations I wanted to stretch my legs a bit to do the same.

I’ll be starting with the Rogue next post!

 

Blaugust, Good Luck!

I know it won’t come to many a surprise that Blaugust has been reborn this year and just by you reading this here I know you are in the know. We have a small little corner of a community in BlogNation and if you look at my blogroll you will find many/most of the posts recently are about Blaugust.

I think it is a great initiative! And I am so very sad (and sorry) that I can’t participate. I had proudly displayed my Blaugust Champion graphic for several years (from 2014) like that guy who won a wrestling championship once in high school and still keeps the trophy on his desk well into adulthood. That was me. Blaugust was the first time I wrote more than 15 posts in a month (and the last time) and it was a fun exercise in though provocation, stamina, consistency, and routine. And I really loved it. That was 2014  and since then I have dedicated my first two weeks of August to teaching kids at a hockey school in beautiful cottage country in Canada. I literally have an hour every morning to check work emails and then its full go time – which leaves me no time to properly participate in Blaugust. I’ll still be reading blogs, of course, when I get spare time and breaks to keep up with the crew crushing posts, but that is about the extent I will be able to participate.

I love it, and I wish them well, and hope it gives me more blogroll fodder!

On that note – you probably won’t hear from me for the next two weeks – but I may try to squeeze in a post or two. Have fun, and I am suffering from FOMO already!

Battle For Azeroth Plans

I hate to call them plans because chances are they are abandoned / forgotten before they are done. That is just how life goes sometimes, and WoW life is something else entirely.

I was looking at what is in BFA and the normal “struggles” when there is a new expansion. Who to “main”? And while there is / has been a lot of discussion about mains and what it means in an MMO a the end of the day WoW has so many options and so many fun classes / specs that I don’t think you can make a wrong decision.  With that in mind, here is the schizophrenia that it produced and my decision making around it.

  • Druid (110) – my “always” main, that gives every playstyle in one package (Tank, Heals, MDPS, RDPS), my soul and lifeblood in WoW and sometimes the very reason why I feel compelled to play the expansions. His story will be told as long as there is a WoW to visit. Of course, just because the story needs to be told doesn’t mean he needs to be first, just needs to get there eventually.
    • Pros: Most comfortable with the class ins and outs. I have the new bear form. With tank/heals get almost instant queues to one of my favourite part of the game, 5 mans.
    • Cons: I have played him the most. I get bored easy.
  • Rogue (110) – usually my second class to level, because the playstyle is just so fun!
    • Pros: Fun playstyle. Singularly focused (I only like one spec of the three, really, so I don’t need to gear for any others, or learn others, etc.)
    • Cons: MDPS means long wait times to do dungeons.
  • Paladin (110) – either my first or second character to level cap past 3 expansions (second this time around in Legion)
    • Pros: all the same as the Druid in playstyle and wait times, but with Plate armor and a class theme I really align with
    • Cons: I don’t like healing or dps with the Paladin so I end up being a “tank only”.
  • Hunter (110)  – finally levelled one to 110 in Legion and was great fun!
    • Pros – Ranged class (that I normally don’t play), was my actually first WoW character (if you are the nostalgic type. I am). Survival spec is very interesting, to say the least.
    • Cons – Same as single role like the rogue (DPS only, even though there are both ranged and melee options). They changed a lot about Marksman spec that I liked for BFA.
  • Shaman (106) – My “other” main healer from the raid days. And current bank alt. Have been plugging away to get her to 110
    • Pros – love the shaman theme. Has a healing, ranged, and melee DPS options (of which I usually go melee / heals, although Elemental is an interesting spec to explore)
    • Cons – No tank option, which is something I enjoy in 5 mans. I have read that the Enhance spec is a mess in BFA so far.
  • Demon Hunter (105) – My only Horde character. (I regret that, kinda mostly).
    • Pros – good class thematically, can glide, and tank.  Tank and glide is the new slip and slide. I like how the class plays and feels.
    • Cons – I’d most likely reset and start an Alliance DH since it sucks not being able to pass/share gold, etc between your own alts. I am pushing to play WoW “free” so time away from the Alliance is time away from working towards WoW tokens.
  • Death Knight (58) – A Gnome. How cute. Also undead.
    • Pros – would be a mostly new experience with a tanking and MDPS plate class that is interesting.
    • Cons – the class lore and feel hasn’t really grabbed me with anything that exciting so far.
  • Warlock (26) – Another Gnome. Why so low? I mean, in levels. This is my main candidate for my 110 boost.
    • Pros – have never played a cloth caster at level. Would be a completely new experience!
    • Cons – have never played a cloth caster at level. Would be a completely new experience.
  • Mage (14) – see above. Yup, that simple. I may have to delete this guy if I want to do a Kul Tiras…

The next three classes, I have pegged to do with the new races. Two of which I already have unlocked.

  • Monk (26) – This is a high candidate for being a “main”. I love the monk thematically, both in WoW but in a broader, fantasy sense (if I ever get to play D&D for reals this will be my class).
    • Pros – Covers my three favorite roles – Tank, Healing, MDPS. Is an elf. I like elves. But a new kind of elf. The void elf. Has a cool name, Bleys. Bonus points if you know where that is from without googling it.
    • Cons – need to level to 120 the old fashioned way (will explain soon).
  • Priest (20) – Not interested as a main but haven’t ever explored a priest class.
    • Pros: Can heal (high comfort) and DPS (ranged), and is a cloth caster so that’s completely new to me. Is a Lightforged Draenai. Has a cool name – Llewella. Bonus points if you know where that is from without googling it, and is related to Bleys.
    • Cons: Do not love the class thematically, need to level to 120 the old fashioned way (will explain soon)
  • Warrior (Null) – I know I have to level this class to 120 at some point during expansion.
    • Pros – Can tank, is plate wearing. I don’t play enough plate wearing classes.
    • Cons: No heal option as a secondary. Can’t exist until BFA launces, since I want to be a Dark Iron Dwarf. Need to level to 120 the old fashioned way

Yes, that is a quick summary of every class. I mean, at expansion time everything is on the table, although some are far more likely than others.

With the bottom three classes and the new races, they introduced cosmetic “Heritage armor” that you earn by levelling one of the new classes from 20-120 without a boost.

They are beautiful, and incredibly detailed.

At first I felt like I would be fine only doing the Dark Iron Dwarf one. I don’t have a dwarf. After seeing the armor, I definitely want/need one. Here it is. And it looks far better (and has some animations) when you see it in game. (You can view it at the Stormwind Embassy).

I

compliments of wowhead

I really love it. And even though it can be transmogged onto anything (I believe?) it would fit a Warrior type well. Here are the Lightforged Draenai and Void Elf, respectively.

compliments of WoWhead

complimeants of wowhead

Sure, they are pretty good, but not Dark Iron Dwarf good. Again, in game the animations are really good and the details are awesome.

Odd, because i have never been a collector of these kinds of things, but I am not sure why I want these.

I have been playing in and around and messing with all the classes above both in game and in my head, and trying to sort through my plans for the expansion. Do you have any plans or thoughts for BFA?

What is it that thing they say about plans and planning…..

 

Magic The Gathering Beta Key Giveaway

I have 5 keys that I will /random off Friday, at 5pm EST.

All you have to do is leave a comment below (and have a valid email address so I can send it to you if you win). I don’t keep email addresses, I don’t have a mailing list, and I won’t use it for any reason but to send you the key.

Based on my readership and number of comments I get here, you have a 90+% chance of winning!

MTGA is a really fun card game, and is very generous with it’s starter decks and rate you get free decks. It’s been a lot of fun so far and I still play daily (to get my daily quest gold).

You can read my MTG:A posts here if you are curious

Keeping this short and sweet so people can be up and running for the weekend!

 

Mission “Impossible” Accomplished

I was so excited I forgot to take a picture. Compliments of Icy Veins

Well, turns out I don’t completely suck.

Only partially.

And I had little confidence going into the weekend.

When I realized the new Artifact appearances were going away in Battle for Azeroth it was enough for me to resubscribe. One of the issues I have always had with the Bear form of my druid is that you don’t get to change looks that often – and while a lot of that changed with the Artifact in Legion, the Mage Tower was truly unique as it was a were-bear kind of thing (how would you describe it?). This was evolution! No longer would I have to walk on all fours.

As long as I could beat the challenge. Which in prior posts and comments even here, seemed to be reserved for the Mythic+ raider type and not the Joe Isey Casual player like me.

It definitely didn’t start off well, either. I banged my head against it with a 920ish ilvl for Guardian spec until I realized that I needed to focus on gearing up the best I could in the time time remaining to make it easy. So I would do all the weekly events that would give me a chance at a gear upgrade and throughout, periodically, do ten or so tries of the challenge to keep fresh on it and also see how I was progressing.

For those who don’t know the challenge I will link the Wowhead Guide  explanation here – as it is far better written and it would take a lot of space to replicate what is already there. In short, the tanking ones – and the Guardian Druid in particular – are considered some of the more challenging ones. It definitely felt that way. I struggled to get out of Phase 1 fast enough to limit the number of Smoldering Infernos in play (who smash you off the floating island to your instant death) and as such, was recommended to get Luffa Wrappings so I could safely DPS the first phase boss in a safe place. I managed to get three more legendaries (total of 9 on my druid), none of which were the Luffa Wrappings. Still, by the time I won it I had two “better” legendaries that really helped me be successful (along with a 937 ilvl).  Fury of Nature, and Soul of the Archdruid. Both of which will be replaced with greens in a month. Along with the other 9 plus my awesome weapon.

But not my form. I can always Transmog to it now, and now that the base is unlocked I can also take my time and unlock the different color palettes as well whenever I want. You just need to have the base.

Winning for me was the combination of getting really comfortable with the fight, having the right gear and consumables, and last (but not least) using some macros that really limited the buttons I needed to use in order to focus on what was going on around me. It was the first time I had a strong feeling of challenge and the resulting confidence of actually accomplishing something hard in WoW since we were raiding the original Karazahn.

My angst now, is that if enough people complain about it that Blizzard brings it back EZ-Mode to appease those who didn’t get it in time. The effort was well worth it, and they announced it well in advanced so I would hope not. And yes, it would feel like a minimization of my accomplishment due to the fact I had to put in extra time, money and effort and was up against the wall. Dammit, here I am all drunk with elitism and power already.

My conundrum now is whether or not I even keep playing with an expansion so close – especially since the Artifact Weapons are being demoted / neutered in Tomorrow’s patch. I don’t know if there is enough to keep me excited for another month’s token fee. I think I have a few days left to figure that out.

 

Warriors of Waterdeep

Not sure how I got on the mail list but somehow a mobile game for Dungeons and Dragons entered early access (yes, that damn thing again..) and out of sheer curiosity I downloaded it.

The gist of the game is a top down, class and group based dungeon crawl. You get XP and levels and abilities are tied to equipment (which can be upgraded). You get packs of cards for completing new dungeon areas under “Play” and once you finish off a section of the dungeon you can do a “Challenge” mode. The challenge mode allows you to do the same boss over and over with increasing difficulties (And rewards). At the end of the crawl, you get an option to “keep rewards” or “continue”.

After a challenge mode you get a chest with a timer. The better the contents of the chest the longer the timer (minimum 3 hours so far, longest I have received was 12. There is at least a 24h one that I have seen an “ad” for.) So the game manages to hit all the right monetization notes – gold (in game currency farmed) or gems (paid for, and you can exchange for gold) card packs (get on completion or buy) and chests (timer unlocked that gems can speed up).

Outside of levels on equipment (number of cards to upgrade, gold to pay for the transformation) and levels of the characters (equipment is gated by levels) they also have a “renown” levelling mechanic which is the total “fame” of the party. Unlocking renown gives new character unlocks (of which you get a choice of at each unlock). So there is plenty to grind out and level here, and plenty of ways to spend your money (if you aren’t patient like me).

So far it has been fun and taking up more of my time than Clash Royale lately and there is enough carrots and “next level” points to keep me going for now. My only real complaint is that it is very slow to play and unlock. For example, if I do a 3 round challenge it takes me over 10 minutes (whereas three rounds of CR is 3-4 minutes each) so you can’t bite-size it as much. It is also pretty hard and I haven’t even unlocked the second challenge mode yet – because my group is only around level 6 each and there are creatures already one-shotting me. (You can also continue if you die in a dungeon, but that costs gems…)

I think it is a bit uneven and they will have to make it easier to unlock the first 2 or 3 challenge modes or people will lose interest. Going from level 6 to 7 on each charcater will probably take me a few weeks and I need level 7 to finish off the second dungeon leg. I have the patience many may not.

All in all, will see how it progresses but at this point I don’t feel the need to reward with cash yet, but happy to help them sort through their balancing before they go live. Which is probably in 2020. (Yes, getting cynical on EA titles…)

Hurry Before It’s Gone! : World of Warcraft

As per my normal modus operandi for World of Warcraft I was done with this expansion. Truth be told this expansion was the longest and hardest (that’s what she said?) I have played a WoW expansion since Wrath of the Lich King. It was a fun, well put together experience overall. Sure, I felt the story went from great (Suramar) to a bit silly (SPACESHIPS!) but hey, Blizzard has never been known for their storytelling. Anyway it is with a bit of shock and surprise to myself finding myself re-installing WoW so close to a new expansion – especially because I always (purposefully) enter an expansion well after launch so things aren’t so crowded and annoying. Heck, I don’t even know if I am going to play Battle for Azeroth at all. What was the impetus? The artifact bear form appearance.

courtesy: Wowhead

Part of the reason why I even bother to play WoW is my attachment to my Druid. With each new expansion I feel like his story deserves to be told until the day he officially enters the Emerald Dream. This has meant some long forays into the game (WOTLK, Legion) and some really short ones (Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor). I usually Bear / Heal as my main specs (not necessarily in that order) and when they launched the new bear form above this year I was really excited to get it – until, it turns out, you have to be really, really good to or have an insane ilvl. Neither of which I am/have. With the news that these forms are no longer able to be attained once Battle for Azeroth starts, and that the time locked mechanic which gates the attempts to get it are now permanently unlocked I knew I had to go try.

Besides, now is the best time – you get a free, maxed out artifact weapon on a simple quest. So the ilvl will climb a bit. While it is good to have a purpose, the short timeline adds a bit of stress and since it is a solo mission I can’t just find help.

This may be my last adventure with my Druid, so wish me luck.

(Aether) Revolting : MTGA

Well, the new MTGA decks have really kicked my ass. I dropped from a high silver in the ladder placements to right back to entry level Bronze. Turns out, like most online card games, if you don’t keep with the Joneses you get kicked out of the neighbourhood.

Things were getting a bit boring anyway.

The good news with the Kaladesh and Aether Revolt decks is 264 and 184 new cards – respectively – of all new cards, features, and playstyles.  The new resource “energy” is another thing to manage and does make an interesting dynamic on card interactivity. So I spent ALL of my saved up gold and bought all packs from the sets and built myself another deck. I also burned through a bunch of my Wildcards when I wanted to duplicate some of the cards I found. Here is my deck:

I know that doesn’t tell you much, but I will break down the important parts and how they interact. But first, I want to explain how I ended up with 78 cards in a 60 card base game.

From what I have learned, in MTG proper you play two out of three matches. You play your core deck – of around 60 cards – and then you have a “sideboard” of cards that you can swap in / add in to your main deck after your first match when you see what kind of a deck your opponent plays. This builds in the ability to counter certain decks but to not face a bloated deck with too many options. In MTG:A this is why people quit so fast (and often) is because they don’t have the cards to beat certain win conditions so at the first sign of them them just give up. Not me, since I can face everything, I hang in there and make the games interesting. The number of times I have come back from “certain” doom with this approach is enough to have me keep playing that way.

In Ladder Constructed gameplay in MTG:A they are single games, so you have to be able to handle all kinds of decks and opponents. Mine does that pretty well, with a 57+% winrate over every colour – except Green, oddly enough.

Onto my deck. Which, I will say, probably loses 9/10 in real competitive play but online in beta mode is doing just fine (thank you).

It’s a Green/Black deck, the same two land types I played on my main deck.  First I will go through the “energy” based cards I use – and some cards I use to protect and enhance them.

My deck consists of a lot of easy, low cost cards that if not cleared quickly can become powerful cards. Here, the Longtusk cub is a simple 2/2 card that when successfully attacking a player, generates 2 energy. Which it can then consume to become a 3/3 creature. And then a  4/4 the next time. This card is great because it forces players to block it or it can grow in power (where often, I could let a 2/2 creature do damage to me to use my cards for other purposes).

Another energy using/producing card at a low cost. The “Menace” attribute means that this creature can only be blocked by two or more creatures – which makes it a safe, early attack. Drawing cards is a huge benefit in MTG and it is worth it (especially early) at the cost of one life.

This card has a quick 2 energy generation, but the added bonus of of acting as a land card for the cost of one energy. This helps get low cost cards out quickly, early. The next two cards work in tandem to defend these cards by removing defenders and protecting them.

Channelling a bit of ‘300’ here with the kick, this low cost card remover is great to get rid of those early, low cost cards you may face (I am looking at you, mono-red decks) and has the added bonus of “Revolt” – meaning at a tiny cost you can remove bigger cards as well if you lost a permanent in the round.

This card is amazing to protect your low cost energy producing cards and it is great to watch an opponent burn a removal card only to counteract it.

Getting into a higher cost card this great attacker and defender has two benefits from its interaction with energy. One, and the big one, is that it gains “Hexproof”. Hexproof protects it from direct counter cards from an opponent. For example, if they cast a “do five damage to target creature card” I get the opportunity before it hits to pay three energy and protect it from any direct cards, so that card is wasted on it. Plus it keeps the +1/+1 power gained upon use so it’s another avenue to increase the strength of a card.

Those six cards are the core and crux of my early plays in matches. The second is all about the Walking Ballista – but I will build up the cards that make that card special first.

The winding constrictor is an amazing low cost card that feeds into itself (and additive, the more you have on the board).  Energy accumulation is also affected by the +! bonus. To best explain how it works I am going to introduce the tandem low card I usually play right behind it:

Rishkar not only makes every card with a counter on it a potential land (allowing you to play higher cost cards far earlier) the +1/+1 feeds perfectly into the Winding Constrictor. If I play Rishkar right after Winding and clock both Rishkar and Winding as the two receiving the counters, Winding Constrictor becomes a 4/5 card and Rishkar a 4/4. That’s a lot of power for a total cost of 5 between the two. IF I had another Winding Constrictor on the board and clicked the 2 WCs as the recipients of Rishkar’s entry benefit both would be 5/6 cards. That’s huge considering they represent half of the total starting life of your opponent.

The real gem of my deck is this card:

What makes this card so powerful is that at any time – ANY time – you can click on it, remove +1/+1 from it, and do that damage to a creature, planeswalker, or opponent. And because you can consistently add +1/+1 through it’s self mechanic (4 land cost) you have a constant clearing card. The other big benefit to this card that even if your opponent plays a removal card – an exile, or do X damage that would kill the creature, you still get to remove as many +1/+1 as you have before the clear it takes effect. This card is a monster. It does cost 4 land to make it a +2/+2 base (or 6 for 3/3) but if you had Winding Constrictors on the board, that +2/+2 entry is now a +4/+4. The way the last three cards interact with each other is amazing – and best part is even if you don’t have them all together they are powerful individually.

If I have any combination of Wild Constrictors or Walking Ballistas on the board and I introduce this card, the opponent usually quits immediately. It’s a high cost card but with the combination of cards that can act as land cards above (at low cost) I can get this out on the field of play quickly and often.

Those 10 cards make up the bulk of my attack and defence. However,  I have had to add cards into my deck to protect myself from often played decks. These cards have good general use as is but critical when facing specific opponents.

How to Counter a ‘Blue” Counter Deck

Blue decks focus on stopping you from getting your creatures on the board, and/or removing them once they are there.

Journey to Eternity means your creature cards get played straight from your graveyard meaning you can “bring back” any card that was put there without having it countered as a card play directly. It’s a very powerful card and when facing a blue deck I sort out how to get it activated as soon as possible. This way if they counter a creature card I play, it is put into my graveyard. Meaning my next turn I can get it on the board without fear of it being countered.

The Cat Snake (amazing concept) can’t be countered and while alive means that your other creature cards you play can’t be countered as well. It can still be removed once played so it is a good idea to hold onto a Blossoming defence while it’s on the board because any blue deck will be looking to remove this as fast as it can.

How to beat a White Vampire or Blue Merfolk deck

We see these decks a lot and they are low cost creature cards that build off of each other. For example with Merfolk, you have unblockable 1/1 creatures. Then they play a Merfolk Wizard which gives all Merfolk +1/+1. Then another, then another, etc. Now those unblockable cards are 5/5 cards suddenly and you can’t do anything about it. The key is to clear them early and often before they can grow into powerful cards, using this one:

It’s a good clearing card and the key is ensuring you don’t play it too early or too late.

How to beat a Scarab God / “Return to Owner’s Hand” deck

Some decks have a powerful creature – such as the Scarab or Locust God – that even if you kill them they immediately go back to the hand of the player and can be played next turn. It’s a really frustrating mechanic and often a player getting those cards out can outlast most decks. This is where Vraska’s Contempt comes in:

Because the card uses the “Exile” mechanic instead of “Destroy” the card is fully removed from play for the rest of the game. I keep a couple of these in my deck in case I run into one of those card types.

So there you have it. This is my current deck in MTG:A that I am rocking a near 60% winrate with and have a winning record against all colors EXCEPT green. Not sure where my luck is with green, but going to pay close attention to how they are beating me to see if I need to add some more cards to the deck.

Even if you don’t play magic, check out the cards – the art is definitely amazing and I appreciate that side of things.

Any questions, thoughts, or comments?