Slay The Spire

2018 I HAS REVIEW – Q4

October 2018

  • Posts: 3 (Really? Just 3?)
  • Games: Magic The Gathering: Arena
  • Other Media:

October was my second lightest posting month and 3 in a month (along with the couple 5s I had earlier in the year) shows my inability to post consistently. Blogging is one of those things I love when I feel like I have something to talk about but struggle with when not – I would be a terrible place if I needed to have dependable, episodic content. October was about blahs and a general post, followed by a rentry into MTGA after the wipe (which I dreaded), and then an inspired post about an old gaming friend who I lost touch with – we were quite close, and he was suicidal near the end, and when we lost touch I worried about him. I still do from time to time.

In October 2017 I was playing Destiny 2 and Warframe

November 2018

  • Posts: 7
  • Games: Perfect World, Torchlight Frontiers, Breach, Magic The Gathering: Arena, Battlefield V, World of Warcraft, Fallout 76
  • Other Media:

In November I cleared out what was at the time, my last batch of Spring Cleaning blog posts drafts. It was a fun exercise. Checking recently, seems as though I may have another batch to do in 2019. We shall see. I had an Alpha based post on the 4-5 I was in at the time, as well as a great laugh at the bloopers from the Fallout 76 terrible launch (and the game continues to plague them, from what I am reading. I started playing (and being excited about) Battlefield 5(V) which I am still playing and being excited about. New free content update drops this week. I , along with many, many others groaned about the general boringness of Blizzcon this year.

In November 2017 I was playing Warframe

December 2018

  • Posts: 1 (FML)
  • Games: Slay the Spire
  • Other Media:

To be fair I had 3 weeks of vacation planned in December and that included a spill over into the first week of January – and two separate countries on two trips. Still, I didn’t put the effort in. My game of the year was Slay the Spire which my game of the year post neglected to mention (outside of the gameplay and screenshots). Never a dull moment here at IHASPC

In December 2017 I was playing EQ2, DDO, Warframe

Overall, not a bad year here statistics wise although I fell short of my 6 posts per month that I’d like to stick to. Good news is, heading into 2019 I have a lot to write about already and I only have two fears heading into February. The first is that with the upcoming Anthem launch IHASPC will become an Anthem blog for the foreseeable future. My other, bigger fear is that it will not – and Bioware will fade as my favorite gaming company.

Once again, thank you for reading, and here is to a happy, gaming filled, healthy, satisfying 2019!

2018 I HAS REVIEW – Q2

As a Side note, WordPress has changed their base editor and the main thing I hate is that there isn’t a full justification option. And it is built on building blocks of things. Change is hard when you are used to something but sticking to it! It also seems to have changed my font which doesn’t make me happy. Ah well, will work through it.

April 2018

  • Post Count 5
  • Games: Magic The Gathering Arena, The Show 2018, Starbound, Slay the Spire
  • Other Media / Non Digital Games: N/A

April was a very light posting month for me and most of it was spent in MTG:A. The posts were heavily about the learning and luck curve in MTG:A and how I felt like I was finally getting to a place and a deck where I could win consistently. I am still playing that game frequently but will save those updates for a non-review post.

Comparing April 2017 I was playing Andromeda and Hearthstone.

May 2018

  • Post Count 5
  • Games: Battlefield 1, Magic The Gathering Arena, Everquest 2, Lord of The Rings Online
  • Other Media / Non Digital Games: Origin

May, another light posting month, saw me revisit Battlefield 1 to help me decide if I was going to adventure in the newly announced Battlefield V, and signing up for the Origin service. I revisited Beta Fatigue – a theme I have posted about before where I burn myself out on games in Beta and can’t be bothered to replay from scratch when the “live” game launches. MTG:A was nearing a reset. I jumped back into EQ2 to get a free 100 (only to not play him/her) and started levelling my dream class – the Warden – in LOTRO. Finally. And lastly, I got ranty about how everyone wants everything free and without a modicum of effort in F2P games, while I felt the pace was ridiculously generous in MTG:A – an opinion not many shared.

Comparing May 2017 I was playing Destiny, Paladins, Overwatch, Guildwars 2, The Division. Clearly May is a “play lots of things you don’t stick with” month.

June 2018

  • Post Count 7
  • Games: World of Warcraft, Magic The Gathering Arena, Battlefield 1, Destiny 2
  • Other Media / Non Digital Games: Steam, Twitter

June saw me rush back to get my bear form before it was gone – there was a limited release on the artifact skins and the clock was ticking. MTGA launched a new card expansion and much like Hearthstone, I had to change my decks and my approach because it was kicking my ass. Steam had an easy way to see how much you have spent there – forever – so I started showing mine (hoping you would show yours). Most of you did. I complained a bit that unlocking perks in Battlefield 1 required me to play contrary to how I prefer to play (which isn’t always a bad thing) and even encourage me to do things to not help my team win (which is always a bad thing) yet there I was, doing it anyway. Battlefield V has some of the same issues, except worse – they time gate it forcing you to do things contrary to the benefit of your team more deliberately and often. Twitter Snitch Tagging is a thing and I once again wonder why I bother with the site (probably will delete soon, because in 2030 the word “Thank you” will be associated with hyper privilege-ism and using it – although fine for the current time, would mean I lose my job and life in 2030 for my past politeness. Why take the chance. I got angry with Destiny 2 (again, and continue to be so – unfairly, mind you) and another ranty-ish post about people maximizing their ladder climbs in MTGA by quitting the second they think they may not win (so they can more quickly lose, meaning they can more quickly go into a game where they may win). Me? I hang around to the end and some of my best moments were coming back from a game I didn’t think I could win. I love it.

Comparing June 2017 I was playing Paladins and Injustice 2

2018 I HAS REVIEW – Q1

That time of year is upon us where we look back. I really enjoyed this series last year as the memory gets worse and I get older it’s fun to see what got me excited, dissappointed, and curious throughout the year. As a longer post I am breaking it up in quarters.

January 2018

  • Posts – 9
  • Games – Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms, Hearthstone, Dungeons and Dragons Online,  Everquest 2,
  • Other Media / Non Digital Games – D&D
  • Theme(s) – Review posts!

I am not currently playing any of those games regularly, and still have not gotten into a proper D&D game in my area (haven’t tried that hard either – the commitment level for a multi-hour, multi-session game is really hard for me. ICOTFR (say that 5 times fast) was the first “idle game” style that I spent some time in. I didn’t quite get it at first, a game you “watch” more than play, but it actually had a fun slant – for a while. Hearthstone was to explore the new PVE versions which were fun, but ultimately didn’t keep me with staying power. I invested in DnDBeyond source and rulebooks and became very excited about the idea of playing Dungeons and Dragons PnP.

Looking back to compare January 2017 I was playing: WoW:Legion and WoW:Legion only.

February 2018

  • Posts – 9
  • Games – World of Warcraft, Dauntless, Slay The Spire
  • Other Media / Non Digital Games – Critical Role Podcast, D&D
  • Theme(s) – underdogs, nostalgia

Funny that in February 2018 I went back to “finish” World of Warcraft. Flying was there finally and the game had progressed along enough that there was a lot of content for me to catch up on and enjoy. I also dabbled in Dauntless (which I spent very little time in, it was an Alpha invite and the game was very rough and without a great vision. I predicted it wouldn’t fare well due to the impending launch of Monster Hunter World a much more polished, proven game.

Looking back to compare February 2017 I was playing: World of Warcraft, Star Wars The Old Republic, and Mass Effect (Original Trilogy)

March 2018

  • Posts – 4
  • Games – World of Warcraft, Paladins
  • Other Media / Non Digital Games – N/A
  • Theme(s) – Zen grinding, Gamer Skill differentiation, Lessons learned in game design

March was a very light month of posting for me and it was all about WoW with a little bit of “I told you so” when Paladins went against their community wishes and changed their game to be more lootbox based during the Battlefront 2 EA fiasco – I mean, you just have to pay attention to how the market reacted to that to not do the EXACT SAME THING. Last time I checked steam charts the game hadn’t rebounded to their high before this decision.

Looking back to compare March 2017 I was playing Andromeda, and The Secret World Legends

Not a ton of consistency from year to year (fun to be able to do that this year) . I have a lot of posts in my head and drafts but currently still on vacation (a winter one, after my beach one), so behind on gaming and writing.

Happy new year! I’ll get to the other three quarters in due course.

Game of The Year – Vacation Edition

Gaming has been fun – but busy year end business meetings and holiday cheer, coupled with a new acquisition, coupled with year end business meetings and holiday cheer for the new acquisition, leading into a family vacation – there has been little time to write. Time zones, airports, hotels. Gaming has been great for me as down time during all of this – and while I have a good enough laptop to game I have mostly been sticking to bite-sized gaming.

The many paths to the top of the spire

I have started my Year In Review drafts and was going to wait until those were done to release my game of the year – but then I saw Zubon beat me to the punch not just by doing a Game of the Year post but by picking the same one I had planned to.  And while I have only blogged about it once back last February, and a small mention again in April, Steam is quick to remind me that I am pushing the 100 hour mark. That’s pretty impressive for my gaming time on an early release game.

The Defect has some really fun and interesting mechanics that really make you think a few cards ahead

And full disclosure, I only bought it because Zubon recommended it in the first place. So thanks Z.

It’s a PVE card game Rogue-like. There are three classes that play completely different, all of them having their own quirks and card sets. The art is great and there are so many different ways to play and enhance your character – through cards, relics, card upgrades, potions, (etc.) that every run is very different. And there are glorious moments where you get the right card and relic combinations that things just go incredibly. The sense of accomplishment when that happens (which is a mixture of good planning, some strategy, and a healthy dose of luck) the game becomes exhilarating.

The ending… or is it?

The piece that was always missing from this game was an end goal. I mean, you get to the end, damage the “heart”, see how much damage the rest of the world has done to it and then get to start all over again. But I hadn’t played in a while and this time when I beat it with “The Silent”  character something new popped up at the end, an uncolored rune became colored. Again when I won with “The Defect”. Now I just have to beat it with the character I enjoy the least (but is still fun).

A new puzzle to unlock

With that, I have been playing furiously. I have reached the end three different times with three different strategies (a Block based deck, a Strength based deck, an HP loss based deck) but have fallen short each time on the last boss. I love gaming like this when there is a clear objective, and it is easy to focus on round after round. The last, great piece about this game is that there is a “daily” challenge mode where the base rules get thrown out the window and all sort of random modifiers are added in, making it a really fun and crazy shot to play daily.

I am still doing my Year In Review posts, but no reason to wait for those. Go try this game – it’s a gem.

Slay The Spire : Thanks KTR

I often find and enjoy games based on what I read from other bloggers. When Zubon posted about Slay the Spire, a game I already had on my “watchlist” on Steam, I bought it instantly. I had received $150 in Steam Bucks at Christmas / Birthday (same time frame) and it was burning a hole in my pocket. It didn’t take much but his recommendation to pull the trigger.

Side note, KTR was the first gaming blog I really started reading and my long-winded responses to posts there is what inspired me to start this blog. So you can thank Zubon for this post AND this blog. I am using the term “thank” quite loosely, of course. Back to the spire! The game is a card based “dungeon” crawler. You pick a character, get base cards, beat enemies and experience encounters, expand and customize your deck, get items and relics to further enhance the experience, and kill bosses by climbing the spire. When you play a card from your hand, or you run out of energy to play cards, the remainder of your hand goes into discard. When you run out of cards in your pile it reshuffles in the discard pile unless the card is denoted as “exhausted” – which means it can only be played once per encounter. There are no saves and when you are dead, you are dead. There is a heavy element of randomization but after spending a good 8 hours playing it I can vouch for the learning curve and that I routinely get into the third act now (third “boss”). I will go over some basics here to try and help you see if it is something you would enjoy.

First off it is early access – which is prominently displayed throughout the game as you play, to ensure there is no doubt. It has a unique art style that really grew on me and it features a bit of diversity in both the look and feel of the two available characters. The first base character is The Ironclad – a sword wielding, heavily armored, faceless fellow. Red is the color associated with him  and his deck. He has high powered solo attacks and a good base of hit points to start with.

The second, is The Silent – a poison based dagger wielding lightly armored black woman. I have enjoyed her playstyle more although I have had better success with The Ironclad. These are the only two character classes available in this early access period although there is a slot for a third in the future. My hopes is they offer far more. Both play completely differently and are fun in their own right.

I have played both up to the third Act.  Each act is a randomized encounter system upwards through the Spire. The path is fully laid out at the onset of the game and you can plan your route with options for encounters. Standard are “Unknown” (can be anything, often quirky decision based interactions), “Merchant”, “Treasure (which gives a relic that has benefits that reoccur), “Rest” (the only in between node area you can regain up to 30% of your hit points outside of moving onto a new Act), Enemy, and Elite Enemy.

I normally take routes that have options. The second fro the left branches off after two enemy encounters. If I did poorly in those fights it gives me the option to take a chance on a random encounter instead of forcing me into another battle when I am low on health. So far I have really enjoyed the varied enemies and events that I have encountered. You can’t choose the easiest path and be successful – beating regular enemies rewards gold, potions, but most importantly new cards. Elite monsters give relics which can have huge impacts on your deck and gameplay – things such as “every time you are attacked deal 3 damage back” and “start each round with 2 extra energy”. Rests are important to gain health but also you can upgrade your cards instead of the health gain – if you are comfortable with how much you have. Learning the strategy around the map is something you figure out as you go.

The gameplay is simple. You have cards, health, potions (found/looted/bought), gold, relics, and points you can spend cards on. You always get to go first (wonder if that will change?) although it kind of makes sense as you are climbing the spire and choosing your path, you are the one at the ready. The game helps you along by showing “intent” of the enemy. You see above the Slaver intends to attack me for 7 damage (7, red dagger) and also cast a debuff (green swirlies). My defend cards as a base defend for 5, and my Strikes for six. Here I can play two block cards to fully negate the damage (the excess of which does not carry over to subsequent rounds unless I have a card that explicitly states so) OR just kill him so he can’t attack. Obviously the kill is the easy choice. The balance is choosing how much personal health to exchange for how much damage given.

The trick is balancing multiple enemies and their “intent”. Different enemies require different strategies and there are a ton of different ways to play both characters in game. It is a wonderful game in itself just discovering different strategies. And often, with the right choices and luck you get some pretty crazy builds and status options. With The Ironclad for me on my best run to date I had a lot of things line up. I had a relic that gave three damage everytime I gained “block”, and a relic that granted me 3 block every round, AND a relic that gave me the higher level block. So every round before I played any card I would get high level block and damage would go out to all enemies, and a low level block and more damage. Then, any card I played that granted block would do the same – and block conditions are very common in your gameplay. That is a lot of free protection and damage.

As mentioned the art style is very interesting and I am not sure if I missed an intro video or something – but the style makes me very interested in the world and what is around me. A mix of fantasy and mechanical enemies each with interesting attacks, buffs, and debuffs and solid interactions between parties of enemies. There is also a talking Whale at the beginning that gives you a reward if you had success with a boss in your prior gameplay and he mentions “back again?”, so there must be an element of reincarnation or something pushing you to attack the spire in the first place. I need to look harder at that.

This is a good game and I am really enjoying it. I like the permanency of MMOs but the short adventures of climbing the spire and the differences in each journey – with tones of similarity for comfort and expanding your skill – makes for a great experience overall.  I am curious if they would ever do a party mode (would be interesting) but the biggest thing I think it is lacking is that it should be mobile enabled. The graphics don’t really move (you never swing your sword, for example) and because they are very art-canvassy (ie: low poly?) simple shapes it would work well on mobile. Perhaps that is in the cards in the future as well.

It’s under $15 USD and a bargain at that price.