Monthly Archive: June 2018

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?

I’ll Show You Mine : Steam Spend

Steam recently added the ability to see how much you have spent with them.

Here is the link.

(You have to log in and all that jazz).

In the spirit of fun, and transparency (because why not) let’s see who the true spending addicts are!

External Funds Used
This is a sum of external funds that have been applied to your Steam account, either to purchase games on the Steam store or fund your Steam Wallet. This value is used to determine if an account is a “Limited User Account”.
Type Time Calculated Amount in USD
TotalSpend 2018-06-09 08:30:02.783 $948.97
OldSpend 2018-06-09 08:30:02.783 $500.96
PWSpend 2018-06-09 08:30:02.783 $0.00

$948.97 USD. Yikes. I could have gone on a vacation.

Still, Not all that bad. Not as bad as I was expecting, of course. And of course that doesn’t count any other platform, box sales, etc. Just steam. I’m actually mildly disappointed I didn’t crack 1000. Anyone know of a game for sale for 51.03?

Care to share your steam spend? I know that is treading on some pretty personal ground, but we are all friends here.

Could be therapeutic.

 

Counterproductive Inducement : Battlefield 1

I have been sticking with Battlefield 1 since it is included in my annual pass for Origin. Entering an “old” game is hard as you are around a lot of players who have been playing a long time. Games like Battlefield 1 have perks and benefits for playing their games (as they should) that are not pay to win. But playing over time gives two benefits: first is knowing the maps really well, which gives a historical and practised advantage and the second is due to special skills you get by unlocking the game. Some of the requirements of which encouraged me to play counter to the needs and goals of my team. More specifically, trying to actually win.

I want this. But the advanced version.

I tend to play medics in shooter games (as I often play healers in MMOs) as it is usually underappreciated, underrepresented, and a very powerful way to play. When someone kills you in BF1 it shows you information about them – their rank, what dog tags they have, your K-D ration with them for the round, and what weapon – how they killed you. It also shows what “perks” they had equipped at the time. This is how I learned that perks even existed, and I decided to do some research on which fit my favoured role the best.

The perk I fell in love with is the Concealed Rescue specialisation. One thing I learned from Coppertopper in a previous BF1 post that you can “spot” a downed ally which lets them know you are coming to revive them – encouraging them to wait a bit longer and not release so fast. It also gives them a handy tracker to see how far away you are from them. Concealed Rescue automatically pops smoke on them to conceal they body so you can revive a bit safer.

That’s amazing.

Due to my experience in Project Reality and other, better paced shooter games using smoke and cover as a medic is key, and something I do quite often. Taking out that step (and the supply step of running out of smoke grenades) is a dream. An amazing dream. I want that!

The pathway to it wasn’t so bad. I had to unlock three different “getting started” service assignments. Since I was primarily playing medic I was fortunate that I unlocked this through normal play (which I wasn’t even aware of). And also, since I am often happy to hop into a tank or APC I almost had that one done too. The other three – Assault Kit, Recon Kit, and Support kit I had nothing in. Time to bear down.

Much made sense. Resupply 20 different teammates. Perform 10 Suppression assists. Etc. Except when I got to the last one, which I HAD to complete, which was “Kill 20 people with crossbow grenades”. Which is something I didn’t use at all. And it was the barrier for to move on. (Get 20 kills in a tank was easy and part of normal gameplay). The crossbow grenade is exactly what it sounds like and challenging to hit from distance. I tried to be mindful of using it when it made sense only and completing map objectives. In 10 hours I had 1 kill with it. This was not going as planned. So, I bore down, and started using it exclusively. It still took me a long time, but I would get 2-3 kills a round. I would usually end up doing horribly with 2-3 kills and 15-30 deaths. The more I died, or more I just missed kills (did good damage but not enough for the kill and a teammate would finish them off) the less and less I cared about how I was doing for my team and more and more I just wanted to get it done. And when I did, I was ecstatic!

Until the next unlock revealed itself (which it doesn’t unless you unlock the step before).

Good news is, as you advance you don’t need all of them but just 5 of 6. So I had some room here.

The “bayonet charge” will result in more suicidal / waste of rounds for assault specialties.

There were 4 sensible and 100% applicable ones to the medic class and playing as a medic. Revives. Heals. Kills with a specific medic gun. All things you would get in the normal gameplay of being a medic. And then two which sucked big time. The first is win a game of RUSH mode. Which, each time I has checked, has had zero servers using. So there is the 6/6 I would have to skip. And the next is get 20 kills with a specific handgun. I have everything else I can get but that, and in all of my rounds I had 3 hand gun kills. So I did a few rounds that I “wrote off” and just used the handgun. Doubled my kill count. Up to 6. I will have to spend a full night to get there, I think.

The grind is bad because it’s forcing me to act counter to my team’s best interest in the short term to better support my team in the long run. It’s bad game design. The thing I hate is that I know I have another bad one in the next step to finalize – getting kills with rifle grenades – which means, as a medic, I have to drop either my ability to heal or my ability to revive (that ability only fits in one of those slots). So in order to be a better medic I have to reduce my capability to be a medic.

Even after all of this complaining I am still trying to get there, because the reward is worth it. The hours of gaming to get there will be un-fun and a writeoff for me though – and that is frustrating. They should have built in tasks that required you to be a great medic, to get great medic rewards.

Hopefully Battlefield V remedies this.

Mind your Manners : Twitter Snitch Tagging

I am not an avid Twitter user. I have an account, I consume tweets sometimes and I even interact with some of Blognation there now and again. I wouldn’t classify myself as a regular user or even that interested in the platform – let alone take the time to blog about it. Except for an article I read this morning which rubbed me the wrong way. And normally I don’t mind being rubbed.

The article is here, go ahead, and enjoy the read.

I actually thought it was satire at first.I thought I was reading the Beaverton, or The Onion, but no.  If you don’t want to read it here is the basics of it – and I have never even heard of the term “Snitch Tagging”.

The general notion of Snitch Tagging is that when people are talking about you, in a public forum, they should be able to do so privately. And the act of “snitch tagging” is when a third party who reads you referencing or talking about somebody “tags” them in the thread so they are aware.

For example.

  • @ihaspc tweets – “I am a WAY BETTER Blogger than Bhagpuss. I can’t believe people read his stuff”.
  • @memyselfandI tweets – “@Bhagpuss”

And somehow, many people have a huge problem with this. It is akin to “I want to publically shame/criticise/make fun of/reference these people in a global, OPEN forum, but I don’t want them to know it is me!”

That is such bullshit.

First off I never say anything about someone I wouldn’t say to their face. That is just good manners. And if I have a problem with something someone said or did, I should approach them about it. If I am not comfortable with that, then i should just just keep my mouth twitter shut.  At bare minimum, if I want to talk about someone and them not know about it – I can do that in private, direct messages to my friends. (I still don’t do that). Or, just say it, and who cares. But don’t get mad at people for letting subject matter people know how you are sharing your non-private thoughts in a global, public forum about them.

Is this old school thinking? Where and how do people think it is fair and fine to talk about people – in a completely open, global forum, and be upset that someone else made the person aware?

In fact, I believe it should be the opposite – that Twitter should automatically notify someone when their handle / organisation is referenced.

In the article, the reason they use is that less people are sharing less information. BUT – if you are sharing a personal opinion, you should be able to defend or stand by it. If you are sharing facts, you have nothing to worry about. The only people that have anything to worry about when sharing information about someone or an organisation is if they are trying to slander them or use it for their personal benefit. Or hide behind their computer screen.

I can’t see any reason why this is an issue – is this an age / demographic thing? Am I missing something that is actually important here? Or am I just taking crazy pills?

 

Paying to Fix your Mistakes: Destiny 2

Much hubaloo was made yesterday when the Destiny 2 Year 2 Roadmap was revealed. They are finally addressing some of the long standing issues and bad design decisions they made in the sequel, and it is release on September 8th, 2018.

In a paid expansion, with annual pass option.

Oh, hello greed! Nice to see you again!

It is no surprise that Destiny 2 was a pretty big step backwards in terms of expectations, reception, and engaging their player base long term. Heck, D2 fansites stopped reporting concurrent players because it showed how steep of a cliff the population was jumping off of and didn’t want to “present a false narrative” to the wider customer base. With all the disappointed customers, and people who paid for expansion packs but didn’t bother playing because the game was so bad (hi, that’s me!), you would think the answer to winning back their customer base would be to fix the issues and invite the community back before charging them.

Well, not this guy. Destiny 2 remains dead to me and I hope other players are smart enough not to buy into this scam as well. I know it will bring some hopefuls back. I don’t remember, in my almost 10 years blogging, being so disappointing in a company or title.  So much so, in fact, that I am worried I am misplacing it a bit. Still, this is my rant-how-I-feel-off-the-cuff post after watching the live stream yesterday and absorbing the news. Of course, my disappointment is only equal to the high expectations I held for it, so that is probably also their fault. Right? =)

Information about the changes can be read here (or anywhere, if you google it). I am not convinced this solves all the problems either, but there is some intriguing decisions made (randomisation of rewards is the biggest one I am shocked they stepped back from)  To be fair – I would 100% try it again if this was a free launch of system fixes and a mea culpa “hey, we heard you – sorry!”. The timing of the expansion, pass fee and changes is what frustrates me – although you will still get the QoL changes without the expansion it just reeks of cash grab. I think they would have won me back if they launched the QoL fixes first, then the expansion 90 days later.

I’ll stop now. I don’t think anyone here cares about Destiny 2 anyway.

Quitters : MTGA

I am annoyed with the MTGA community on a few fronts. The first I have spoken about in most of my MTGA posts about the “money is for nothing and your kicks for free” entitlement attitude on the beta forums. The doomsayers explaining that if you can’t get most things for free extremely quickly that the game will fail horribly. Keep in mind this is the same, extremely slick game I have been saying is amazing. This is the probably the best representation of the decades long, arguably one of the most popular card games in existence successfully ported to digital format. I think they will be safe to charge reasonably, and I feel like the game is already too generous with the speed and scale it gives away cards and gold to buy more cards. I have stopped reading doomsayers posts about the economy in general on the boards.

The second, more annoying thing is that people quit fast in MTGA.  It seems like the instant I play a card that poses a modicum of a challenge the player gives up – often instantly. I can’t believe the lack of competitive spirit of taking on a challenge to see what you are able to do in the face of adversity. In MMO terms, it would be like the main tank dying on a pull and everyone logging out of the group instantly when it happens. It drives me bonkers.

The main reason for the frustration is I frequently come back from the abyss in games. Heck, just yesterday I was down 20-1 against a Blue/Black deck with Merfolk. He had 8 creatures in play and I had zero. They were all 2/2 and 3/3. The play before I was down to one health I exiled a 2/2 Merfolk that granted all his Mer-creatures +1/+1. Then he knocked me down to 1 health and played more creatures – but all of them were 2/2 or less now. My next turn I played all enemy creatures get -2/-2 and cleared the board. He is now ahead 20 health to 1 with a clean board. I play a 2/2 card that spawns a 1/1 creature at the end of every turn (mine and his) and since I have enough land cards that temporarily boosts the summoned creatures to 3/3. And soon as that lands he quits.

I would call it a one off but yesterday I was on a roll and in 15 games I had people quit early – at the first sign of trouble – close to 50% of the time. I have said it in an earlier post and I’ll say it again – I never quit early. If I am getting outplayed that badly then my opponent deserves to win with their combinations and checks. I have lost badly on draws, and decks, but the truth is I built my deck in such a way that it is good against all opponents but it too big to be efficient. I have several win conditions and can handle most of the decks I face if my cards come out right. And for that I need to stick it out and get the draws.

Perhaps my opponents have built decks with such narrow win conditions that when I throw a wrench into their plans they just assume they don’t have a chance and quit. Still, that seems like a big limitation in the brand and format if that is true. Or they just build bad decks. I know my deck isn’t meta, and isn’t a guaranteed win – but it can handle most of what is thrown at it and the way it plays is really fun because it is different from game to game – and I really enjoy that. I’ll share the deck in detail in the future.

I wonder if the in person card version/variant is the same? Do opponents quit soon as you show a challenge to them – is it a part of MTG proper or just an unintended consequence of the new online field of battle?