Monthly Archive: January 2018

I Don’t Get It: Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms

With my current D&D obsession and clever Google marketing I “somehow” “managed” to get “randomly” introduced to a new D&D game – Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms. It’s on Steam, it’s Free To Play, so why not try it, I thought.

The game is simple enough. It’s an automatic side scroller. You choose the formation of your group, which heroes you buy (in what order), and which to upgrade (and in what order). There isn’t much to it and early on there isn’t even really that much choice. The second champion costs 50, the third costs 1000 and the fourth costs 25,000. By the time you get to the eight it is 10 TRILLION for a new champion. I have only unlocked that champion once.

The game kills and loots for you. Once you complete the objectives of the round you go to the next area. The areas are varied and so are the enemy types – and there is a “story” to each level (and group of levels). Every 5 levels there is a boss fight. On “autopilot” the game moves you forward to each area your party is able to win. If you “lose” one, it puts you one level back and stops auto-levelling you – but continues to kill and loot. When you check back in on your group you have a lot more gold and a lot more upgrades to go. Keeping progression “efficient” means quick check ins earlier in the game. The further ahead you are the faster the gold drops.

With all the talk of “automatic” that isn’t to say that there isn’t a decent amount of strategy here. The top left corner shows your total gold and total group DPS. Each character has different types of attacks (solo, cleave, single hit spell, multi hit, etc.) and each has different buffing conditions. The Dwarf, for example, buffs everyone’s damage in the same row as him. The game makes you choose later on whether to increase that buff, or increase his personal damage.  Some get increased damage by being around multiple classes, or in the front row. Some buff others in front of them or adjacent. There is a lot of moving your party around to see what fits. Some classes heal, some buff, there is a lot of diversity here.

There are active “ultimates” for each character which you can unlock. These require active participation. Mostly they are used on boss battles (and often trivializes them). Still – there really isn’t a losing condition in this game, only a “waiting” condition in case you need to grow in power before trying again. The game is neatly organized into 5 level chunks with a boss battle, and chain those into “campaigns”. When you beat a campaign, advanced options open up to do it at a higher level. Or, you can keep the party running through the same one (to amass more gold and loot!). It is the neverending story, D&D edition.

Things do get hectic and strategics that work on one map may not work on another. The game gives you three “quickslots” to auto-arrange your team into pre-defined formations. I have done that to focus on multi target vs single target (boss) for example. Sometimes the party gets overwhelmed if you have most of your damage stacked on the single target side, since each hero only attacks on a predetermined swing timer.

Progression is simple. Every time you beat a campaign you have to start from scratch again. The good news is that you get a percentage gold growth to start with based on how much you collected in the previous campaign. This is cumulative (at the time of this writing I get +1056% gold. Instead of one gold at the beginning per kill, well, you do the math!) This makes the repetitive nature a bit less painful. As I also mentioned this is a free to play game so they do monetize it via chests. Chests can be bought with in game currency or real money.

Like most chest base games it is a game a chance. And I am going to pause here for a second and smirk a bit. There really isn’t ever a need to buy anything in this game, since the entire game is “wait and get more powerful automatically”. Sure, buying things will increase that (and items are VERY powerful) – but really the whole point of the game is to play by “not playing” so it is really confusing to sort through how this game is going to make money.

The irony is, I did buy a chest. The game is fun. I rewarded the developer with $5. I just don’t see when or how much more I will give more. It’s an easy, fun, little game. You only need to invest so little energy or time, and that corelates with how much money I should also put into it.

The good news is the gear you do get you keep along campaigns and if you get a duplicate it increases the stats / bonuses on the item you already did get. So nothing goes to waste in the game, and I suspect the game never really ends either. It is a confusing, fun little jaunt with personality and progression in spades – you just don’t have to do anything to get there which makes it confusing to me on how much fun I am having. Kind of like checking in on an old high school friend on facebook, “like” the fish they caught with their kid, check back in a month to wish them “happy birthday”, and then scroll through the feed.

There is fun here, just hard to define. It’s free, so why not check it out? Now excuse me, I think I have a few trillion in upgrades to spend to get to the next mission.

More D&D Talk

I have been absorbing a lot of D&D 5e material and enjoying just learning, reading, and letting my imagination play out. A lot of this is much easier with the launch of DnDbeyond.com  which is free for the base information and has some handy, but basic, tools. I read more information about it and the future is to integrate D&D gaming onto Twitch – which makes sense. Not sure of the time frame. I downloaded a few sourcebooks via PDF – and not being a dummy realized that they were “pirated” materials. Since I am not actively playing and just wanted to get a feel for it I felt it was OK. You hard-line anti-pirater types, relax! In this case it worked wonders as I enjoyed the materials so much, and realized I would get some time with them regardless that I bought the digital versions through DNDbeyond.com. It’s a great way to absorb the information as everything is linked. Special spell granted at level three? Hover over it for a quick description or click on it for a far more indepth version. I have spend several hours reading the Player’s Guide, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, and Sword Coasts Adventurer’s Guide. Each expand upon base classes and provide a lot of color.

The fun part for me is making classes via the DNDbeyond creator. It makes it really easy. I have created back stories and personalities for three character class types that I have never played. Two are part of the new materials and the third is a class I was never exposed to. I feel like the versions of them in 5e are great and expand much further on what I played when I was young.

The first is an Oath of the Ancients Paladin. This takes the typical lawful good Paladin (which is now just small part of the class in 5e) and has a nature bend – a protector of the light vs darkness. In fact in 5e they have further expanded on the Paladin class to be far more interesting with an additional 6 Oath types and you must choose one at level three. Gone are the days where the knight in shining armor charges in because they are compelled to, or loses their Paladin abilities because they lean Chaotic over Lawful. That option is still there but there is much, much more.

The second is a Rogue archetype – the Swashbuckler. I tend to roleplay the introverted / focused type but have often enjoyed the fantasy surrounding the master swordsman that ooze charisma. This archetype would be quite out of character for me but it does speak to me in the way that a dashing Swashbuckler would (I suppose). There are 7 Rogue Archetypes in 5e.

The last, is the Monk. And while I am most interested in one of the “standard” monastic traditions (that come with the Player’s Handbook) – the Way of the Open Hand – I like the skills the  Monk gets and the options they can use with their Ki points as a resource.  The “equipment optional” premise works well for me.

I purposely did not explain them in great detail – just teasers – because I want you to read about them if you are interested. Wikis exist so you do not have to buy anything.  The funny part about this is that I have rolled all three in EQ2 to tie over my desire to play those roles. Yes, of course, they are definitely not the same but it is still *something* that is close enough to tie me over. I still don’t suspect I will end up in a D&D game but the more I explore and read the more online options I realize exist – and maybe someday my schedule will support a semi regular adult gaming group for a few hours on a Sunday night. Or maybe it will just remain a gentle inspiration to my own imagination – of which, I do not engage in enough.

Aside from the game materials I am on chapter 7 of The Critical Role podcast – the DM is amazing in that and the voice actors seem to be novice D&D players for the most part – I actually find myself laughing out loud at parts and also sharing in the excitement when someone rolls a natural 20. It is a good way to get a fix in and also get a feel for how the game plays. I am still back in their 2015 adventures but they just started a new campaign if you wanted a fresh start. They cast live on Thursdays, but I do prefer the being able to listen on my way to work version, and I am not sure if I can consume it quickly enough to catch up to them. Nothing like having an embarrassment of riches of entertainment to consume. I appreciate content creators.

Last but definitely not least I can’t talk about D&D without mentioning Eri fro Healing the Masses. She draws maps for D&D and I love seeing her work. If I was a DM or actively playing I would support her patreon and use them – they are great! They do provide a visual to further enhance my imagination. in the hands of a skilled D&D group they would be wonderful.

Finally I have been playing gently in DDO and finished the main campaign in Baldur’s Gate – and am now on the DragonSpear expansion. The combat didn’t really hold up for me like I remember it so I defaulted to story mode. I still control the team during more hectic fights but for the most part it is a story and inventory management game for me – and I am fine with that. I am still surprised no one has come out with a 5e, turn based game yet with the increased popularity of the game. That is where my more likely future lay with D&D.

Hearthstoned Part 2

The last time I played or wrote about Hearthstone was to explain why I uninstalled it. The coles notes is that in an effort to ramp up revenues they ramped up expansion packs, requiring a bigger commitment to buy new packs and accept new meta strategies to remain competitive and have fun (if competitive is fun for you). Still – it’s not fun to feel like your carefully crafted deck with pacing and surprise is completely destroyed by new, standard decks that take little thought or effort to play – and just require a lot of spending to get those decks. That is – rightly or wrongly – how Hearthstone made me feel at the time. That was nine months ago and I had completely forgotten about Hearthstone and didn’t miss it one bit.

Zubon made a post about Hearthstone near Christmas and truth be told I had also read about the new rogue-like dungeon crawler mode they had introduced and on a whim gave it a go. The playmode takes out the pace of expansion issues I hated when I left – you pick a class and start with a preset deck. Each “boss” you beat, you get random card packs in various themes and you get to choose one of three. There are also perks (double starting health, your battlecries trigger twice, etc.) that become standard for the rest of the journey. The game presents you with three randomly and you choose one. The more bosses you beat the more cards you get and the more options you are presented with to further enhance your deck and chances against bigger and badder bosses.

It is a clever way that takes buying decks out of the equation. There aren’t any rewards either though, except for a card back if you win the mode with five different classes. It is definitely an exercise in randomization and fun elements – remember, I am a huge fan of randomization –  right down to the bosses you face and the perks and cards you can acquire. Heck – there is even an “I win or lose” card with a 10 cost – that casts pyroblast repeatedly until you or the boss is dead. This is an actual fair and balanced strategy in the game mode. Getting that card, however, is also completely random. The randomization is good and bad, depending on how you look at it.  First off – all card games are based on randomization that don’t give everyone the exact same set of cards. Go Fish, Crazy 8s, Euchre – all heavy randomized games. They have more rigidity in their structure so the parameters by which you can play them of course. And as much as I am talking about randomization here there is still an opportunity to build really good decks if given the right choices.


I can’t recommend this game or mode to people who have a hard time accepting that you really could lose even if you made the best choices available to you due to the fact that all the choices you are presented with may not have synergies or be optimal. I have lost rounds on the first boss before. Heck, frequently in the top four bosses! Sometimes the cards you are dealt you just have to accept. The good news is that the randomness works both ways and even with poor choice options through the first three or four bosses your fortunes can change throughout the final few as you head to the final boss. This is exactly how I beat a boss for the first time. I was so focused on playing Priest only, as that is my “main” in this game and I was certain that I wouldn’t do as well with other classes. I went 20+ games with not winning with the priest before I decided that maybe it was the class and not me, and maybe the Priest is under powered in this mode and I should try others. And that I did.

The first class  won with was the Warlock (my lowest ranked class from Hearthstone proper), and then Hunter, and then Paladin. The only classes that are lower ranked for me than those are the Warrior and Mage. This is further proof that experience isn’t necessary in a class and you can pick up any of them and give it a go with a chance of success. Heck I now go in order, top down, left to right, in my attempts as I try to win the mode with each one. It isn’t the best game or game mode I have ever played but the completionist part of me really wants to “win” so I keep playing.

I did try some PvP with my old C’Thun deck and it has held up just fine in the lower levels of Hearthstone but I know I will get trampled on in higher competitive play. It’s an easy game to jump into for 10-15 minutes which is the attraction to it – but I can’t lie when I say I am really looking forward to a more meaningful and deep card experience that I am hoping to get with the new Magic: The Gathering game currently in beta. That is the one I am waiting for to really dive into card/deck building games again.

D & D 5e & DDO

I am still in “prep” mode in DDO – I have been gaming mostly in EQ2 but logging into DDO a few times a week to build comfort. I have decided to research less, and go for it more – there too is a very deep advanced mode to spend points in that I have no clue about or where to start understanding. So I just read tooltips and picked things that seemed to be synergistic to soloing. Which is what I plan on doing in DDO until I get comfort. I toy with the idea of starting on a fresh, level 1 to experience the game in the kind of bite sized chunks that are often best learned from the start. I still may do that but the Paladin is the class I am most interested in there, and mine is already level 7. That is a lot of duplication. Sometimes it is more fun the hard way.

I don’t know where or why but suddenly I became interested in re-exploring Dungeons and Dragons. I have often talked about PnP games here and lately I have had a bigger desire to reengage. This is mostly because PnP games don’t suffer from the same lack of imagination as their online counterparts – but come with much heavier challenges to get involved in. You need bigger blocks of time, away from your creature comforts, and your real life has to stop. That is called immersion. Conversely, I can game at home, pause and walk away to change the laundry, answer a work call, etc. etc. Gaming is convenience, PnP is immersion. I wish they were closer to one another. Sadly I am forced (by life circumstances, mostly) to stick to gaming.

I have read the new Players Handbook for 5e, and the Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. Both were very enjoyable. I especially like the new spin on classes they have introduced – The Oath of the Ancients Paladin, being my favorite (on paper). I have been reading and absorbing 5e material without an outlet – or likely space for one – but that still has been fun. I even downloaded the Critical Role podcast and am Episode 4. Critical Role is “old news”‘ for most, I suspect, but basically it is some Hollywood voice actors playing out an extensive D&D campaign. Each episode is over 2 hours in length but they are doing a nice job so far. It’s great as a “to work” and “from work” break. It is also a good exercise to understand what works and doesn’t work in a group dynamic. Listening to the first four episodes you realize quickly who doesn’t know when to listen instead of talk, and some need to take a back seat to let others make decisions and try things. I think that is part of a good learning curve for PnP players and people who plan to be.

This, of course, made me look closer at games in the Dungeons and Dragons universe beyond DDO – and I landed on Baldur’s Gate. They have done an enhanced edition (as well as BG2, and the other parts of the universe) and with that as the most deliberate D&D experience right down to rolls on the screen. It is not the latest edition, however, and the graphics are rightly from the era the game was created in 1998. The experience has been streamlined and I have spent a dozen hours playing it.

Sadly my print screen shortcut wasn’t working via steam as it was for my regular gaming and I didn’t realize it so have no screenshots captured – except the above, which was the first unidentified magic item I had found (and put on, without identifying) and it was cursed! Of course in the 2018 edition that shouldn’t be a curse but a benefit – think of the role-playing options for a thief, for example. Still – that kind of creativity and flavor items are what help made this game fun and I remember spending a ton of hours in it back in the day. Curious how the refined version plays through – and in the short term, it’s been better than expected. Anyone who has tried to go back and play XCOM (original) will appreciate what that feels like.

PnP games aren’t really supportive for a mid 40s, married with child, busy body with work and child based activities dominating the adulting required to “make it in this world”. And while that is a shame, it doesn’t stop me from trying new things, investigating and reading further, and still finding ways to enjoy myself. After all much of this is the base of what our MMOs and RPGs were/are made from – and the source material is as good as ever.

Almost Half Way There : EQ2

The other good side to having your blog broken is that the time I would often spend writing was spent gaming instead. I have continued on my EQ2 journey with furor and much attention. Playing an MMO like “the gold old days” again has been a ton of fun. I am playing both on Test and on live (for the extra character slots) and while I have jumped between several classes frequently I have clearly landed on my Warden as my “main”. For now. He is level 48 on the test server and currently following “The Golden Path”, in Lavastorm.

I don’t know what that means, but people always congratulate them so that must be important.

Still, I have spent a lot of time on my Coercer, who is a Freeportian – opposite to my other characters who are Qeynosian – and I find that to still be the biggest barrier. The Coercer has a 6 room prestige home with a patio held over from my live, testserver playing days and I’d love to let all of my characters live there. Seems as though this is not possible – or at least, not easy. This is a bit of a surprise considering how most other parts of the game have been completely streamlined for the player experience. Take, for example, Druid travel spells. The Warden is a melee subclass (when specced correctly) of the Druid class – meaning at level 25 they get the all important teleport line of spells. Many a day were spent paying coin to a friendly druid for such a port. Well, no longer is this necessary as anyone can port if they just  click a bush within a druid circle.

Automation is not just causing lost jobs in the present day.

This is a fair compromise – the Druid still gets the benefit of being able to cast that spell and travel from anywhere, whereas any other player still has to travel to the rings to get benefit. I suspect that the wizard spires work similarly. It is not a big complaint as I suspect with auto port to housing and the like this minor convenience is still nice to have for me, and doesn’t put anyone else out. Still, I am finding that it is the “little things” about the game that still bring me a lot of happiness. The benefits that each race gets is pretty interesting. Take the Erudite, for example, who has a self buff to identify magical creatures. A blue hue for damaging magic types and a green outline for healer types. This is extremely handy when looking for a pet but also is just a clever little fun function. My Warden has tracking due to the half elf racial, and I suspect it is one of the more important ones to have for a solo-adventurer these days. Nice to find the exact mobs you need and/or any named mobs in the area for treasure.

Feeling blue? Good – I’ll charm you. And then you will kill and die for me. This was almost a poem.

I keep getting sidetracked on instances as the Coercer with his charm ability, and invisibility – can get pretty far in exploring and there is a real sense of danger. On a random encounter with a real, live human being on test (which is admittedly extremely rare for me) he tried to explain a self-mentor ‘chronomance’r thingy where you de-level and solo instances for pretty good XP. This would be a better way to explore these dungeons (as long as I can really solo) because by the time I find bosses if they aren’t green I can’t usually win – and if they are grey then there is no loot. And loot is always fun. I will have to explore this feature better to understand it. And by explore, I will just Beetlejuice Bhagpuss here so he can explain it in the comments. Will save me navigating a google system that seems to recognize info from 2009 in EQ2 as up to date. “Bhagpuss, Bhagpuss, Bhagpuss!”)

I love him so much I should marry him. Or her. It.

My new, greatest toy which has completely changed the game for the better is the level 30 mount quest – a Mountain Salaraptor that has an incredibly fun and effective leap ability. I can jaunt across entire zones, relatively safely but much more quickly. This has made the game much more fun AND convenient. I suspect flying mounts will be even better but there is a certain joy of bounding across a landscape, and reaching peaks and areas previously barred from travel. It very much reminds me of the Super Leap ability from City of Heroes, which was amazing too. Another thing EQ2 does exceptionally well is letting you use the skins/graphics you like best. Don’t like the updated models? Turn them off. Don’t like riding a dinosaur around? Equip your horse (or whatever) in the appearance tab – keep the leap, stats, etc but change the model.

My 2H Warden is now a dual wield Warden. LOVE LOVE LOVE

I figured that part out quite by accident – on a forum – but I have always enjoyed playing dual wield characters. Wardens can’t. They can use swords, and blunt, and shields, but not two one handed weapons. This is where the appearance tab shines – I can use an offhand weapon in my shield slot and my shield looks like that weapon. It strikes and swings like that weapon. It does NOT change what the shield abilities do, but just the graphics and the swings. This alone has made me get back to leveling my Paladin as I always played dual wield Paladins in my pen and paper campaign, I just loved the theme of it. Now that I can do that in game as well I am excited to see how that looks. It doesn’t change the core, fundamental gameplay but it really allows me to customize the game to what I want to see and experience. It really is amazing.

Does this match?

It’s probably a really good thing too – or else you end up with outfits like the above. EQ2 does do a good job of varying the sets but you can really tell when a player is in between two. The appearance tab changes this if you can be bothered. Since I am wielding two weapons I feel like it doesn’t matter how bad the rest of me looks.

Now that my “main” is 48 I found two heritage quests – one of which required me to ask for help for the first time, which I thankfully and luckily received from a very happy and willing test server person who enjoyed the change of pace from whatever they were doing. I also ran out of quests in Lavastorm with 4 levels to go before the next “Golden Path” step. I either missed a quest hub or need to go explore more of Norrath. Either way, I am not short of options and am very thankful that I took the plunge to explore this game. It really is easy to come back to, is a lot of fun to play and level in, and there is a lot of depth and interest to hold even the finest connoisseur of MMOs.

And me too.

2017 I HAS REVIEW – Q4

Good news is my site is back up! My tinfoil hat edition is that one day I get a notice from WordPress – sign up for paid backups now! I said no. Next day, a standard, Jetpack update broke my site for a week. Quite the coincidence, right? I am so sad that now I am a cynic when it comes to digital companies, since there are no regulations to ensure they aren’t breaking things for profit. And no, not paying for that service for sure, because, that would mean they would win.

Bad news is not sure if anyone had missed it, anyway =) Yes, I just smiley-faced mid post.

Q1 Post here, Q2 Post here, Q3 Post here

And here is the Q4 post.

October 2017

  • Post Count: 12
  • Games: Destiny 2, Warframe
  • Other Media: Blade Runner
  • Themes: Politics, Single Player, DLC

Mood / Content: Love/hate Warframe/Destiny. In that order. Destiny’s failure to add base features (raid group making) has creating a black/third party market for it. I learned that Canadians don’t have property rights enshrined in our Charter, but that it probably isn’t a big deal because we are supported from other laws. I watched and loved Blade Runner 2049, much only how a big fan of the series could and would. My son and wife were lost on what was really going on but found the whole thing really, really pretty. I bit the bullet and downloaded Warframe for “what the heck” because it was getting a lot of good press. It was so smooth, beautiful, and utterly confusing at the same time, but worth exploring further. I tried not to say “I told you so” when Destiny 2 sales came in below expectations. Which wasn’t a big surprise because it was essentially a step down for Destiny 1 in content. I lamented the death of the single player RPG because it wasn’t a gateway drug for more loot box sales. EA killed the best hope we had for a Star Wars rekindling RPG with that mindset. I further explored Warcraft, their codex, and realized even more how awesome the game was – and still, how confusing. Destiny 2 started losing a lot of players as the realization it is a step back from Destiny 1 but with added loot box sales and was more shallow became reality. Bungie doubled down on silliness by resetting Clan XP every “season”. (ie: shopping season, when they could introduce and sell more loot boxes!). I celebrated how wonderful and incredibly deep Warframe customization was (it has earned the nickname, “Fashionframe”). I explored the differences between User and Metacritic scores comparing Warframe and Destiny 2. Not content to being nice to Destiny 2 (ahem) I called them out for their day one DLC pack – another uninspired, boring jaunt of content that was done before release and should have been included in the base game to provide a bare minimum of content that was severely lacking.

It was a hard month on Destiny 2, I admit it. Warframe made it all worthwhile though.

November 2017

  • Post Count: 10
  • Games: Warframe
  • Other Media: Stranger Things 2
  • Themes: Community content, login rewards, blog therapy

Mood/Content: Serial gaming love. It was all about Warframe in November, and started off the month with a post exploring the very incredible, very cool 700 day login reward – and whether that was fair or not. I then explored the pay-for community created cosmetic system that Digital Extremes had created. I loved Stranger Things 1 but was ultimately disappointed in the lack of detail, intrigue, erm – story, in the second season. Was a bit of a wasted opportunity too build off of the first. OF course, they will cash in, and continue to do so. Look at the Walking Dead show.  I stopped a smelled the roses – admiring the backdrop to Warframe and the various beautiful things I found on my slaughtering journey on several planets. I revisited my blog series of purging draft posts – the fifth in the series – and there is at least one left. Thankfully now I don’t do a lot of drafts, I just write and complete. I never want to make that kind of a mess again.  I was prompted to respond to a randomization article Gevlon wrote – calling for the end of it in gaming – and reflected how much I enjoy  and appreciate randomization. I hit 50 hours in Warframe and marveled about the good in it – and the things they needed to work on. I wrote a piece on modding in Warframe to support him since he asked for some good starter builds. I shared a Warframe video – 100 Days of Warframe – which captured the feeling of a new player pretty perfectly. I made a Warframe specific Christmas shopping list to reward DE for the hours of enjoyment they had provided me and last, but not least, I had to call Destiny 2 out again when it was discovered they secretly throttled XP gains in the game to encourage loot box purchases. The reckoning of government intervention is coming. Gaming companies cannot be trusted to do anything except maximize profits. Capitalist bastards!

December 2017

  • Post Count: 13
  • Games: EQ2, DDO, Warframe
  • Other Media: Calvin and Hobbes
  • Themes: Housing, old games

Mood/Content: Nostalgia is strong. I started off December profiling a couple of my favourite Warframes, Mesa and Rhino, and admired the different ways you could impale bodies in the game. I discovered and subsequently played around with a very cool screenshot mode in the game which more games should offer. I watched parts of the video game awards and was pleasantly surprised there were actual secrets and things revealed for the first time (in a world of spoilers). I found an artist who mish-mashed two of my favourite things – Star Wars and Calvin and Hobbes. I watched, with sadness, as Paladins went the Battlefront 2 loot box mode and lost a lot of players very fast, ruining what was ultimately fresh and exciting with the game. May it (or what it was) rest in peace. I was pulled back into Norrath in EQ2 and found a wonderful, rich, new experience there. This prompted me to look at DDO again and was also very pleasantly surprised. I was even in the same guild from a decade ago. I started my Year In Review posts, and spent many, many more hours in EQ2. Something about the 1-20 experience there – so many new abilities and ways to explore the game. It’s addicting. I became sucked into housing and couldn’t (can’t) stop. I explored some nostalgia in Norrath visiting the new, old zones and experienced all of the refreshed starter zones.

2017 is over and with it I had a lot of fun with the blog. I didn’t break writing, or reading records or anything and didn’t quite stick to my 2x a week posts for the full year – but broken blog aside, had a really strong fourth quarter. I only write when I am inspired to do so and gaming has been good to me. So has this community, which was the biggest part I noticed I was missing when my blog broke – all the links to fresh content and perspectives from my living blog roll.

I am not sure what 2018 holds in store for me, gaming, or this blog but I do know I will game, and write about it. I will also read other blogs faithfully and comment often. I enjoy the interactions that blogging provides no matter how little or much this little corner of the internet generates. I have a dozen or so posts in my head to catch up on with the gaming I have done and experienced lately and well, no point in waiting now, is there!

Onward, 2018. Onward.

2017 I HAS REVIEW – Q3

Q1 post here and Q2 post here.

Continuing wrapping up last year’s blogging and gaming efforts with the July to August calendar quarter.

July 2017

  • Post Count: 3
  • Games: Fortnite, Paladins, Battlenet (early backer)
  • Other Media: None
  • Themes: Against the grain, Feedback, Early Access

Mood/Content: Largely absent! Summer I like to be in, on and around the water. I have a 35′ sailboat, a canoe, fishing rods, camping gear etc. I am surprised I blogged so little but then again in hindsight July was a heavy sailing month. We had lost most of May and June due to dangerously high water levels (so much so the docks to get to our boat were 3′ under water!) and this did not get remedied until mid/end of June (by building new docks on top of the old docks. We sail the Great Lakes in Canada (and the St. Lawrence Seaway) and it was just a year that no one had seen in 30+.  This may have been why I managed to blog regularly in May and June and less so in July. Still, I managed to join and write about the new, early access Battletech game that captures the essence of the board game moreso than it’s FPS counterparts, and was still playing Paladins in a community full of Overwatch players. I spent a lot of time and effort on the main forums for Paladins – something I haven’t done in/for a game in years – and got into petty arguments and was reminded how challenging it is to have meaningful conversations when one or more parties are hidden behind a keyboard (irony not lost, I assure you.). Finally I jumped into Fortnite – another early access title – and was surprised and delighted with the amount of content and layered systems that existed – as well as the general gameplay, graphics style, and premise of the game.

August 2017

  • Post Count: 6
  • Games: Fortnite, Paladins, Destiny 2 (beta)
  • Other Media: None
  • Themes: Birthdays, Cottage Life, Loot Boxes

Mood/content: gone for two weeks every August teaching at a summer hockey school. It’s nice to get back on the ice and fun to see the kids loving life, spending a day at the rink and evenings on the lake. I did a quick vacation post espousing the joy of cottage life. I posted one of my first personal gaming videos – without commentary – to better show the gameplay that is involved in Fortnite (which was still shiny, new and fun. My blog had it’s ninth birthday and I mused around about how 10 years is such a big deal as a milestone, but 9 is largely ignored. I felt warm and fuzzy inside as it was my most commented on post for the year. I started to fall out of love with Paladins (due to League of Legends-esque issues) and Fortnite for it’s cashy and really non-early access state (paying to test an eventual free to play game… what is more dumb than that?). I was screwed by Paladins with unfair and sleazy loot box mechanics and called (and continue to call for) self regulation by the industry – before somebody forces them to do it. Finally in August I did the Destiny 2 beta and once again was completely let down by the sameness, the terrible story, and the fact there is no true first person PVE shooter competitor to show them how to do it better.

September 2017

  • Post Count: 9
  • Games: Destiny 2, Clash Royale , Fortnite
  • Other Media: Best game trailer
  • Themes: Cross platform play, disappointment.

Mood/Content: Disillusionment and disappointment. Destiny relaunched with a 2 beside it but had less content than most of their expansions did. Frustrating when something is so close to being amazing and falls short of all expectations – except financial. It did have the best game trailer (maybe ever), at least. I had a few posts in this month daydreaming that Bungie did something good with the title except stepping backwards, which they did in spades. Fortnite took all of the PVE money thrown it’s way and abandoned the game mode to launch a non-monetized Battle Royale mode to compete with PUBG. The good news is that it is actually really good. The bad news is – the millions of people who supported it for a rich and meaningful PVE experience were pushed aside. Fortnite also clicked a server button which allowed cross console play (by accident) which Sony immediately shut down. I will not be buying a PS5 because of it.  I more fully explored how little content Destiny 2 shipped with and was sad that they held back content knowing they had DLC to deliver. I had yet another rant post (quite against my nature, I assure you) for both Fortnite and Destiny 2. I also started recognizing cash shop patterns in Clash Royale – where they would incent me to buy based on what deck I was using. It’s all dirty money at this point.

It’s clear in Q3 that I found more joy offline than online. I really should try to do that more often.

2017 I HAS REVIEW – Q2

This is building off of my first post reviewing this blog and the year 2017. Q1 Post here

April 2017

  • Post Count: 9
  • Games: Andromeda, Hearthstone
  • Themes: Nostalgia, Exploration, Satisfaction

Mood/Content: Fully immersed in Andromeda the entire month. Everything about this game improved on the first series. Yes, everything. The gameplay, the RPG elements, the abilities, and yes, even the story.  I know Andromeda received a lot of criticism. Much of it justified. You can’t be this big and ambitious and not make a few mistakes. Unlike many people (clearly) I played through the first three Mass Effects prior to Andromeda launch and what a jumbled, often unplayable mess it was. Yes, it was a beautiful mess – but so was Andromeda. Unfortunately the inaccurate nostalgia of what Mass Effect 1-3 was put undue expectations of what Andromeda could have been. And now we will likely never know. April was speaking of those improvements, being fully engaged and surprised with Andromeda, explaining why I uninstalled Hearthstone, discussed pacing in games, was enthralled with the planets created in Andromeda, was sad when I finally finished the game, and was ultimately looking forward to trying something new (or old, as I sorted through potential games to follow up with).

May 2017

  • Post Count: 7
  • Games: Destiny, Paladins, Overwatch. GW2, The Division
  • Other Media: 13 Reasons Why
  • Themes: Wandering, familiarity, diversity

Mood/Content: Trying to find a gaming home. I started off May back in The Division and my welcome back wasn’t fantastic. I really wanted to finish off the main story but I was struggling with the current missions I was ‘supposed’ to be running. The bullet sponges – having to dump 400 bullets into a human being to take them down – was just pretty silly. I still plan on beating it someday. I jumped back into GW2 and had a lot of fun starting it off, but once again, it just didn’t hook me – even with a fresh start. I had an A-HA! moment with diversity when I finally felt what most (or all) non-Caucasian gamers felt when I realized the protagonists in Prey didn’t represent me – and I actually noticed that. I didn’t play the game (not for that reason) but wasn’t looking for a single player FPS to play. I binge watched 13 Reasons Why on Netflix and loved it, I think it is essential viewing. I was mad when I learned they were doing a sequel to cash in on what they created, instead of letting it stand as the beauty that it was. Trailers started dropping for Destiny 2 and they were terrible and embarrassing, and now with the beauty of hindsight I can say ” I told you so!”. I did, however go back and finish up Destiny 1 which now (again, hindsight) was the proper goodbye to a franchise that had a really good chance but royally screwed it up. I toyed in Overwatch but ended up falling in love with Paladins instead – which for me was a better game in every category, angle, and design.

June 2017

  • Post Count: 6
  • Games: Paladins, Injustice 2
  • Other Media: Instagram, Wonder Woman
  • Themes: Hope, credit where it’s due, customization, prognosticating

Mood/Content: Self congratulatory, shooting things, punching things. I started off June posting about Wonder Woman and how much I loved the movie. While a Marvel fanboy at heart, I did appreciate the serious nature and tone of the DC Universe but felt WW hit at different tones (and out of the park). It touched my emotions in a tangible way. I heaped praise on Instagram for telling me that my feedback actually removed a spam account. This encouraged me to report more spam accounts (I had given up on it, and actually had 50 or 60 spam account followers – I just couldn’t be bothered to report because it seemed like nothing was happening). Now that they did I called on gaming companies to do the same. Blizzard / Hi-Rez / EVERY developer, if I report a player for being a general douche, please let me know when you suspend their account. That will encourage me to help you clean up your community. I started playing Injustice 2 to get my Green Lantern fix and was amazed of how great of a game it was – and I haven’t played a side scrolling fighting game since Street Fighter on the Super Nintendo. It hit a lot of things on the head. Pun intended. I explored Paladins and how beautiful and amazing their customization card system is in the shooter – creating interest and personality to the game. I mused how I suggested to Blizzard in 2008 that they should start selling gold to their own players to combat RMT and give a cheaper subscription option. I was right! Send me royalty cheques! (Yes, even a blind squirrel.. I get it..) I explored more of Paladins, and their lovely statistics reporting system, and how I fared at different roles in the game.

The second Quarter of 2017 had me going from serial game (Andromeda) to lost in space (playing 6-8 other games trying to find my next serial game) to finally landing on Paladins, which, I guess will make up a good chunk of my Q3 posts. I could be wrong, but I did dump 120+ hours into that game and I can rarely get 100 hours in a month of gaming.

It is fun to reflect on the year this way to see where my head and heart were at. Next quarter, coming up soon!

Up to Four Then Back to One : EQ2

I finished my “one character of each armor type” and “exploring all of the starter zones” experiment in EQ2 and it was a really fun way to spend my gaming time during my holidays. Oddly enough, the Dirge ended up two levels higher than the other characters by the time he had finished Timorous Deep – I am not sure if I missed side quests in other others or not – but each ended up in their main city in an Inn room, with their items placed. They all now have a home and I can continue the journeys (of one or more) knowing that I was fair to them. Odd that I feel the need to treat my online characters with care. Oddly enough – they all have quests pointing them to Butcherblock. Is there a single, recommended path on the way forward through that Zone? Do the four starters funnel into it? (this makes me curious if the leveling experience becomes less varied). I did read of a “golden path” quest line once you hit mid thirties, and Butcherblock goes to 35. Perhaps there is just the one path. I hope there isn’t, because I did enjoy the differences in getting my stable of characters through the varied and interesting zones. Technically, there is still the “original” levelling experience through Freeport and Qeynos. I say “technically because I am unsure if that has been updated to be as smooth as the others.

all items from just doing the story line

The best housing haul (housing items just from questing) hands down goes to the Dark Elves. Look above, all of those things were just from running the starting area. Weird though, the outdoor tent and other items feel very “outdoor prestige zone. Compare that to the haul of the Dirge, below:

also the same. Far more boring!

Four books, a steam machine, and a trophy. Seems like a rip off compared to the Dark Elves, but then again – the DE are probably far more pompous, right?

While it is fresh in my memory, I have different impressions of all of the starter zones. I have different rankings of the four zones for different qualifiers. For example, in terms of story, I would probably rank:

Frostfang Sea – Darklight Woods – Timorous Deep – Greater Faydark

Smoothness of the questing experience (lack of backtracking, easy to navigate, etc) would be in this order:

Greater Faydark – Timorous Deep – Frostfang Sea – Darklight Woods

Housing Items received would be:

Darklight Woods – Frostfang Sea – Greater Faydark – Timorous Deep

Gear Quality received would be:

Timorous Deep – Darklight Woods – Frostfang Sea – Greater Faydark

All of those are very subjective, of course. Just how I felt. I didn’t add up the gear levels or quality. Each had varying named bosses to fight (which I always did when i found them) and those bosses could drop a boring old treasure chest, up to an Ornate one – which had superior loot. That was the luck of the draw.

Since all roads lead to Butcherblock it’s an easy next step. I am still a bit torn on the Paladin or Coercer for this next leg of the journey, but am going to start with the Coercer and see how it goes. I am excited to see what happens next.

On a side note – I hope there is a “shared house” option for your characters and alts where they can all decorate their own rooms and areas and share them all. That really is my hope as I suspect at least two will not see much play as I do want to “catch up” to modern EQ2 eventually – and a little focus will help there. I also have my year in review posts to finish, so experiences with DDO, and my year looking forward posts to complete. I see a lot of blogging to start the year but none of it will be very timely. Whatever inspires me to write will be the subject matter. Also looking for suggestions on best way to give Daybreak some money, they deserve it! I am sure their purchase options will be as interesting and opaque as many of their in game systems. I mean that in a good way.

I am glad to have taken the jump in EQ2, it has been a nice experience.