I like to think about things, and if I don't collect the thoughts somewhere then they'll all fall out of my head. Consider this my "spare-brain-thoughts farm".

Friday, 13 July 2012

Skylines and Rooftops, yeah.

In which we make a brief return to cards.
It’s odd that despite my addiction for the WoW TCG, I haven’t really gone near it in months. Not since the UK Realm Championships (In which I placed 14th), partially because I was planning for EUCCs. My EUCC plans did fall through, but now they may have been resurrected. In light of that, I thought I’d revisit the deck that netted me my top 16 spot at Realms.
Hero:
Jaral of Gilneas
Allies:
4 Garet Vice
2 Windspeaker Nuvu
3 Rufus Claybourne
4 Loriam Argos
4 Boomer
4 Grumdak, Herald of the Hunt
2 Koeus
3 Bella Wilder
3 Tesla
4 Magni, the Mountaing King
3 Yertle
3 King Genn Greymane
1 Dulvar, Hand of the Light
Abilities:
4 Avatar of the Wild
3 Aspect of the Wild
2 Spoils of the Hunt
4 Explosive Shot
Quests/Locations:
3 Fordragon Hold
4 Seeds of Their Demise
Well, this hasn’t been update for Tomb of the Forgotten since I haven’t actually looked at Tomb yet.
So, this is what netted me 14th. I wish I’d switched out 2 Explosive Shots for 2 more Spoils of the Hunt, just to deal with Ediwn. It completely blanked me when I was constructing the deck, but now it seems incredibly obvious.
I think the ally base is aggressive enough. I included the two Koeus’ for Grand Crusader match-ups, but never came up against any in my 6 matches (4 other Blue Hunters and 2 Monster DKs).
Since the meta has slowed down slightly, I feel that favouring aggression might be what garners me those wins I’ll need at EUCC/DMF.
So, let’s examine changes I’d make.
-2 Explosive Shot
+2 Spoils of the Hunt
I’ve already outlined why I want to do this. Edwin still is a problem and he’s going to remain a problem. Explosive Shot might deal with Stonebranch and his allies, Winged or not, but it doesn’t deal with Edwin. Spoils can still hit Stonebranch, so it’s obviously the better choice.
-1 Yertle
+1 Other Stashing Card Or Quest
I’m still investigating other options. Yertle was a dead draw every other time though. He was frequently rowed in favour of keeping Boomer or Tesla around, but resources tended to be scarce. I’d probably swap him out for a fourth Fordragon Hold and see how that runs. I still want to keep 2 Yertles since he was beyond useful when I needed him, but it was easier to hang on to one in hand and row the other ones I’d inevitably draw.
-1 Dulvar, Hand of the Light
+1 Amani Dragonhawk OR Lord Darius Crowley OR Siamat, Lord of the South Wind
It’s more expensive, but Dulvar felt useless. He dropped once, swung a big hammer and then died off. I managed to win with a sudden 14/14 Genn when Dulvar inevitably died from too much fire. The Amani Dragonhawk will help in situational match-ups, whereas Darius will mega-boost an already beefy Genn should the situation call for it. Either way it means hanging onto a card for that precious turn 7/8 swing. Siamat on the other hand is a much beefier Al’Akir who deals with mirror matches and Grand Crusader. He’s the least likely one I’d include though, I’d probably favour the cheaper Dragonhawk in order to break their field.
Little changes aside, there are other things that could be done with this deck. If I could well up a bit more drawpower, then I’d love to throw 4 Concussive Barrage in for the ridiculous damage I could dredge up.
The Koeus’ could be dropped in favour of Jeishal, who can hit those Girdles that will be a staple of both Grand Crusader and Monster DK. The Koeus’ are useful for mirror matches, but if I can outpace them then I’ve already got it in the bag. That means I’ve got to be winning my dice rolls though.
The new Traitors! quest also has some potential. A tad better than it’s damaging equivalent, I feel. Definitely a more mid and late game card though.
The deck has a lot of potential still. I need to play around with Concussive Barrage and Jeishal to see how far they’ll get me.

Friday, 29 June 2012

The Worth of Gametime

Once again, my nascent thoughts about the gaming world have somehow moulded themselves into written form.

Today's subject is one that I came across when I sat down to play ​Super Mario Sunshine​ the other day. Now, I'm a full-time gaming journalist, and I get paid very little; so to break even I have to spend a lot of time working. It's quite rare that I can sit down and actually play through a game throughout a long period of time, but last Tuesday I had quite some time to myself and coincidentally, the copy of ​Super Mario Sunshine​ I'd just ordered arrived.

So, Tuesday I sat down and said to myself "Today, I will play through this game from start to finish". And that's exactly what I did, which is sort of how this blog came around. It took me 12 hours to complete ​the game, without doing all the additional content (I don't have time to find 200 more blue coins...), and I paid £10 for the game. Now, if I value the worth of a game as £1 = 1 hour of actual enjoyment, then I have profitted highly, and still have a game that has even more content for me to sit down and enjoy some day (Note, I do not advise using this system for solicitation (Double note: I do not advise solicitation)).

Now, if you're still reading; this is when it gets serious (Ha. Serious). A friend of mine recently told me that he'd spend 500+ hours on ​Final Fantasy X ​ on a save file he only started last month​. This kindof staggered me, mostly because it's been a very long time since I could devote myself so wholely to a single game. Now, I shan't be modest, my clocked hours on ​World of Warcraft​ number at nearly 1,000 total hours, but that's a game I've had a on-again/off-again relationship with over the last few years. 500+ hours in just under 4 weeks is a bit insane though, from my point of view.
So, now to the meat of the blog. The Worth Of A Game.

Let's consider my previous system, where a game should have as much enjoyable time as it does cost. Obviously, my friend has gotten far more time out of his game, but he's spent much of that grinding, whereas I had 12 hours straight. We've both gotten plenty of enjoyment out of our purchases, but has he gotten more worth from his?

Now, this creates an interesting dilemna. Since I don't have time to invest into games, but he does, there is a stark difference in how we might perceive the worth of a video game. We're both big fans of JRPGs, but in recent years I've fallen away from them since I can't invest a lot of time into one game (Hence the on-again/off-again relationship with ​WoW​ , I can come back to it whenever I want) in a short period of time, I often have to devote time to other games for reviewing purposes. If I had more free time, I'd go back to the likes of ​Final Fantasy​, ​Baten Kaitos​ and ​The Last Remnant​, but since I don't, I often find myself playing games with notably shorter campaigns such as ​Bulletstorm and ​Jade Empire​, or an open world game where I don't need to invest chunks of time into suchas the likes of ​Skyrim​ and ​Saints Row​.

To someone with more free time though, open world games and JRPGs might be more tempting because they can sink days into them, and still have more content to discover. ​Skyrim​ will constantly offer them places to explore and quests to do, and could take hundreds of hours of time. A person with less time can approach it in bits, but someone with more time can do it in just a few sittings. The same logic applies to JRPGs, but since they're more linear, it's harder to approach them in a multitude of small sittings since you may inevitably forget something, or a quest may drag on and on.

So, now the worth of a game becomes not about the amount of enjoyment taken from it, but the actual person's personal schedule. Now, that changes the scope entirely, and it makes a rather unfair system with which to judge a video game for it's worth. As a reviewer, that irks me, because if a game is good then it is my job to relay that to people with as little information as possible; and I cannot just start adding scheduling into the mix. So, we need to locate a common ground for identifying worth to gametime. Now, the obvious common ground is actually finding enjoyment in games themselves, which has a direct relation to the quality of a game.

So, relevance of quality aside. We still have to place a worth on gametime itself. Does the value of time increase as the amount of time decreases? I'm sure this is a problem that can be solved with a mathematic equasion, but damnit I'm a writer not some sort of mathematician. We need to talk about this in a rational manner.

Perhaps it's something that can only be judged on a personal scale, and not objectively. So does the worth of time spent playing games come down to your lifestyle? Or is it an objective based media that can be supported by a blanket theory. Can the value of a game directly tie to the worth of the time spent playing the game?

It might not be the hottest of topics, but it's certainly something that's worth debate. What do you think?

Monday, 25 June 2012

The Future of MMOs

I know I don’t post these opinion articles too often, but I wanted a place to touch upon my thoughts on just how MMORPGsa work and where they are going. Unsurprisingly I am going to mention World of Warcraft a lot in this article, and Star Wars: The Old Republic.
The business model of MMOs is a widely decried one. The “Why should I have to pay more to play a game I’ve already bought?” argument is thrown around at every opportunity, particularly by people who don’t play MMOs. Now, these people are welcome to their opinion, but it’s very unfortunate for them that their opinion isn’t likely to be considered valid by most MMO players. It’s not that they can’t understand the whole MMO appeal, but it’s because they’re not willing to experience it because they don’t want to pay for it. For many MMO players, it’s an expensive but affordable hobby, but unlike other hobbies it’s far, far more to them than that. It’s a whole second life to many, many people; They’ve got guilds full of friends and they’re constantly connected to a world full of people that they’re very unlikely to ever meet in real life.
There’s a real level of disconnect between MMO players and the many people who won’t play them which is very obvious to outsiders; MMOs are a completely different class of games.
If you’re confounded as to why MMOs seem to continue chugging along long after people should have got bored of them or stopped playing, then it’s because of this disconnect. The business model is centered around not giving people an incentive to play, but an incentive to communicate with their fellow gamers. It’s a separate experience from the game itself, and it’s all alongside a co-operative gaming experience.
So, moving away from why the work: Just how are they going to continue working. The business model is sound, and whilst it can continue indefinitely, it can become unprofitable. Every year you need to bring tons of new content to stay ahead of your competitors to keep people in your game, and every year more and more competitors get announced. Just in recent months we’ve seen RIFT and Star Wars: The Old Republic both as the big contenders for the King Pin title held by World of Warcraft.
So, you need to constantly employ people to make new content and you need to constantly maintain huge servers capable of holding your audience. Not only that, but you’ll need to do mass technology updates; your servers are going to run out of steam eventually and will need replacing and updating. It costs a serious amount of dosh to keep an MMO running and keep it on top of it’s game. People say that Blizzard are money moochers, but they still employ hundreds of employees and have to maintain their offices, subsidary companies, GMs, servers and keep their game running smoothly. Sure, they’re raking money in, but they’re spending huge amounts of it.
This is where the future of MMOs kicks in.
There is never going to be a unified MMO. It’s too lucrative a market for other companies not to try jumping in.
So, where is the MMO going? It’s going to Blizzard, that’s where it’s going. And, I don’t think it’s going to be mystery-project Titan, either, I think it’s going to be World of Warcraft for many years to come. It is sheerly too difficult to overcome such a juggernaut now, and I think that it’s completely out of Blizzard’s hands anymore. When you’ve got 10 million players and more, you’ve got just too many people to answer to. Imagine just what might happen to the gaming market if World of Warcraft just vanished off the map; If even half of those players continued to play MMOs, every single other MMO would receive such a huge influx of players that they’d be completely revitalised, they might even completely change for the better.
It’s because of this that I’ll never understand the concept of a “WoWKiller”, as SWTOR was meant to be. We are currently at the point where it just can’t be done. Even if you can get the entirety of WoW’s playerbase behind your MMO, they’re always going to remember the MMO that bought them together as a community and if you give them the chance they will return to it.
Many MMOs have turned to the Free 2 Play route, such as Aion. Others have resorted to giving out their game for free like RIFT. Some have introduced a permanent free trial far too early in their lifecycle (*Cough* SWTOR *Cough*). But these tactics aren’t dragging people to their MMO, they’re pushing them away in many cases. RIFT lets you know that you can pick it up whenever you want, you don’t need to now. SWTOR has very early in it’s life said that you can play it for free up to level 20, so you don’t need to invest in it. They’re trying to adopt a business model to bring in more users, but they’re only trying to appeal to MMO gamers, and those people are busy with WoW. You can’t take the WoW playerbase, as unfortunate a truth as it is.

Friday, 11 May 2012

The Multiplayer Problem


Now, I'd like to start this by saying that this is not an article designed to complain about the current state of the video game industry and its domination by multiplayer games. Instead, I want to talk about the actual design concept of multiplayer itself.

Many won't see the same issue that I see with multiplayer games, but in my own opinion; there is a rather rampant one. Whilst some may consider the market-domination I mentioned to be a problem, I instead see it as an opportunity.
The issue is how homogenous multiplayer design has become. The actual concept of how to approach multiplayer gameplay has become stagnant and repetitive; it's a rut that gaming as an art form hasn't actually progressed forward from in nearly a decade. The biggest advance in multiplayer in the past ten years has been easily available online play. Prior to that? Co-operative multiplayer gameplay.

Now, it's a very basic concept. Multiplayer should be either a co-operative form of the singleplayer experience of the videogame, or it should be a competitive one. Be it splitscreen at home or done over the internet, those are the two staple features of a multiplayer game.
The problem lies in the very simplicity of this concept though. Whilst complexity is often a two-steps-forward-one-step-back approach, it hinders things as often as it introduces innovation.

What got me thinking about this conundrum is one of my favourite games of all time that you may have seen in another article earlier this week: Perfect Dark. For its time, Perfect Dark was one of -the- multiplayer games. It had splitscreen, programmable bots with a variety of difficulties and a large range of maps and weapons. Hell, it had more options for weapons than most games do today.
The thing that set it apart wasn't the challenge mode (Also multiplayer accessible, I might add) or the bots, but a unique gamemode that I've not seen since its release -twelve years ago-. This gamemode was simply called "Counter-operative" and was found right next to the co-operative gamemode. Instead of playing a side-character supporting the main character through the singleplayer campaign, the counter-operative took the place of one of the random enemies scattered throughout the level whose job it was to stop the main player from completing the mission.
It introduced a level of difficulty that isn't available in normal singleplayer campaigns by making the enemy think on the same level as you. You couldn't exploit AI glitches or set patrol paths, because one of those enemies was out to get you and could ambush you in ways that you couldn't possibly expect from normal AI baddies. And if you kill them? They respawn and continue their onslaught.

Whilst I'm not pretending to be some hipster-guru-know-it-all who has the divine answer to this problem, I do think that there are some simple changes that can be made that could potentially change the face of multiplayer gaming as we know it.
For one, Counter-Operative was a brilliant gamemode. It should be revived in some way or another. Imagine playing the latest Call of Duty title, going through the singleplayer campaign. AI get predictable and boring, but what if one or two of those random mook enemies could think on the same level as you? It adds an entirely new level of difficulty, forcing you as the player to think on your feet and prepare for unknown danger rather than blasting your way through room after room.
As another, singleplayer and online multiplayer can be blended into one experience. I feel that Journey deserves an honourable mention here, as does Dark Souls. If you have access to the internet, then why must your singleplayer experience be so lonely? Receiving hints from other players ala Dragons Souls or actually meeting other players going through a singleplayer experience ala Journey can be huge gameplay features. Multiplayer doesn't have to necessarily mean a competitive experience.
How about the multiplayer juggernaut, World of Warcraft? You spend a lot of time levelling a character, and you can interact with other people but you never actually have to invest any actual gameplay with them. Or you can take the opposite route and level a character exclusively by grouping with other players.
Speaking of MMOs, what about EVE Online? A game that over time has literally become all about the player and their multiplayer experience.

There are other examples, but pointing out where to look for new experiences isn't the point of this article. Rather, to talk about the homogeneity that multiplayer gaming has come to. Many developers are afraid to experiment too wildly in case they go too far and stray into the realms of insanity, all the while tarnishing their image.
I'm not saying that this is the case for every studio though. However, as a community there does need to be innovation at some point in order for gaming to evolve.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Game over.

In which we mourn the dead.

So, straying away from the whole cards thing for a while (Fret not, I have a Horde Mage to share), I wanted to talk about some other things going on in the world of geekery. Specifically some things that are affecting the UK gaming market.

I speak of GAME and Gamestation, the UK high street retailer. Now, I've been covering the story for the websites I write for, and since the start I've been saying that it doesn't look good for them. With the Royal Bank of Scotland intefering for their own purposes, and companies that could make a difference not putting bids in; the situation has gotten worse and worse by the day.

Now, GAME have gone into administration and taken Gamestation with them. Just under 300 stores have already closed, including my local GAME. More than 2000 staff have been made redundant. The CEO has stepped down and handed the company over to the administrators.

Admittedly, as a PC gamer, it's kindof difficult to feel sorry for GAME. They were almost abusive to developers to get discounts and threatened developers in order to make sure that their PC games were exclusive for a short time. Since I buy most of my games via Steam, it's annoying to find out that things I'm looking forward to (Space Marine, Saints Row 3 etc) are being held back for months at a time because GAME wanted exclusivity so they could attempt to cash in on a market that didn't like them in the first place (PC gamers and GAME do not go hand in hand).

Whilst they clearly haven't been virtuous paragons fighting in the name of gaming, I realise now that they're not being terrible people either. The past 2 years have been very difficult for them, and now we stand to lose our only major gaming retail chains.

The UK gaming scene isn't in trouble, but this could mean that there are dire consequences coming. If supermarkets step in to fill the gap in the market, then prices are going to bounce around as they compete with one another. If independant stockists can't stem the bleeding, then what will happen to the UK gaming scene?

We do have online retailers, but that is an almost specialist thing. What of parents who take their children out to buy new games for their birthdays? What of non-gamers who fall into the hobby? They are left with the supermarkets, with tech stores, with trade-in centres.

Those of us who market ourselves as real gamers will continue to buy online, but because of the declining physical trade, prices online will eventually suffer.

To say the least, I'll be upset if GAME do eventually go under and cease to exist. Thousands of people are out of jobs because their parent company made stupid decisions. The UK will lose a lot more than just it's retailer.

Monday, 12 March 2012

There. Are. Four. Lights.

In which we taste the rainbow.

I've been playing Grand Crusader a lot more recently since I got my playset of the delicious ability card. If you remember my previous blogs, then you may recall that I'd built my Grand Crusader deck with a twist: Dragons, Dragons and Dragons.

Using Drax Felfuse for his attack boosting ability and a range of cost 1 & 2 dragonkin to boost him and run with Grand Crusader, this deck can put together a formidable field. I've included Trade Prince Gallywix since he works with Grand Crusader as well as providing resource readying ability for him and Drax. Exxi is still in this build, but I remain unsure about her usefulness. Whilst managing to swing twice with a buffed up Drax Felfuse is very, very deadly; she remains a dead draw most of the time since she doesn't gain the +2/+2 from Grand Crusader.



Hero:
Rohashu, Zealot of the Sun

Allies:
4x Drax Felfuse
2x Azure Magus
4x Emerald Captain
4x Ruby Stalker
4x Bronze Drake
4x Bronze Warden
4x Ruby Flameblade
3x Obsidian Drudge
4x Trade Prince Gallywix
2x Exxi the Windshaper
3x Cairne, Earthmother's Chosen

Abilities:
4x Grand Crusader
4x Censure

Equipment:
4x Etched Dragonbone Girdle
4x Bottled Light

Locations:
4x Twilight Citadel

Quests:
2x Challenge to the Black Flight


I'm missing Cairnes and Twilight Citadels still, but if this is the deck that I end up taking to the Realm Championships next month then it's either going to need improvement or some money being spent on it. 

I'm playing around with the idea of dropping the Challenge to the Black Flights and Exxi the Windshapers in favour of Hammer of the Zealot, Vindicator's Shock or Lordann the Bloodreaver.

I've recently got my MWS working again, so now I can playtest more often. Joy.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Luna ex Machina

In which we appreciate aberrations for their inner beauty.

Since the update to core making it a 2-block system, I've strayed from playing Druid. I was always a fan of Gwon Stronbark, Arturius Hathrow and Kauno Stonehoof in the previous meta and I had a great number of decks surrounding them. Whilst I had a particular penchant for token decks, it was my Goblin Druid rush deck that I mained. When the Drums and Icecrown blocks rotated out suddenly, I found myself lacking a lot of the cards I used: Starshot, Krixel Pinchwhistle, Natural Order, Nature's Reach, Report to Goldshire and several others.

Since I've been rocking Grand Crusader for too long, I've been building other decks to mix things up at my local card pit. Whilst looking through my Alliance allies, I noticed Braeo Darkpaw and Aleksei Brandai. A quick scan of my available Alliance Hero cards bought up Wildseer Varell, an attachment searching Worgen Hero. Having already played a Worgen Druid in the previous meta, so I knew some of the staple allies I'd need. The only thing the deck would require is a stable base of attachment cards and it should be complete.

So, a cursory build looked like this:

Wildseer Varell

4 Kelsa Wildfire
3 Loriam Argos 
4 Aleksei Brandai 
2 Faithseer Jasmina 
4 Davius, Herald of Nature
4 Braeo Darkpaw
3 Rolan Phoenix
4 Genn Greymane
4 Aileen the Thunderblessed 

4 Mark of The Ancients
4 Favour of Nature
4 Mark of Elderlimb
2 Mark of Goldrinn
2 Wrath
3 Earth and Moon 

3 Gilneas 

4 Seeds of their Demise
2 If You're Not Against Us




Playtesting revealed a few things that needed to be removed and others that were severely lacking.
First changes were the removals:
-4 Aileen the Thunderblessed
-3 Earth and Moon

These 2 cards in particular were holdovers from the previous iterations of this deck when Nature Worgen were a lot stronger. Most games they would be dead draws and dead weight, so they're gone now.


-2 If You're Not Against Us...
Whenever it was played, it attributed very little to the game.


-2 Wrath
Because it was rarely playable.

-1 Mark of Goldrinn
Because I never needed it when I drew it. I decided that running 1 and searching for it when it would be more useful seemed like the stronger option.

-1 King Genn Greymane
4 was too many.

-1 Favour of Nature
It's just wasn't as useful as Mark of Elderlimb.

As for additions:
+4 Magni, The Mountain Beard
He fills the roles of being resourceable and being a protector I occasionally needed around turns 4/5 before I dropped Genn.

+2 Faithseer Jasmina
+3 Mark of the Untamed
Jasmina got boosted up because whilst she makes a rather pale Turn 2, she was excellent in later turns when paired with a few cost 1 attachments. Playing her on Turn 4 with any 2 cost 1 attachments made for a 5/5 who was hard to kill.

 +2 Lord Darius Crowley
I was frequently playing Genn on turn 6 rather than 5. Following this with a 1-off Crowley that I used during a playtesting match meant that I had an 18/18 Genn ready to swing. Running 2 seemed stronger than 1, so I'm trying that out.

+3 Energize
Frequent lacking of draw power made for a sad Pandaren Worgen. I'm going to try out the Energize in the hopes that it will work well with an already established Faithseer Jasmina, and I hope that it won't just be a dead draw.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Feel the deadly fin

In which we Rwlrwlrwl.


Battlegrounds have finally relaunched in my local area so I've been busying myself with coming last place in that (And first place. Do or do not. There is no "try") and building random decks.

There's a few regular players down at my local card pit now, and they're having fun building Murloc decks. Murlocs aren't actually something I'm too familiar with, but I wanted to jump on this cheap bandwagon.

I previously traded away my King Bagurgle and Gobblers on the premise that I'd never build a Murloc deck, leaving me with commons and uncommons to work with. Everyone else had been playing the deck out of Warrior using Rawbrgle for his +1/+1 flip. That seemed pretty strong when combined with cards like Chumly and RwlRwlRwlRwl. Now, I couldn't find a Rawbrgle, but I could find a Grglmrgl. His flip meant that I wouldn't need RwlRwlRwlRwl so, I decided to play out of Hunter.

A quick scan of my Hunter rares revealed that I had 2 Monstrous Marks. The quick inclusion of 4 Monstrous Upheavals and a few Unleash The Swarm meant that all I had to do was grab a handful of Murlocs and I was good to go. Since I knew there were a couple of Commander Ulthoks and Miniature Voodoo Masks floating around, I wasn't keen on filling the deck out with Murloc Coastrunners, so I diversified as much as I could. The final deck list ended up being:


Grglbrgl

4 Baby Murloc
20 Murloc Coastrunner
4 Slippyfist
4 Gutfin
4 Crabbyfin
4 Nibbler
4 Swarmtooth
4 Chumly
4 Splashtooth

4 Monstrous Upheaval
2 Monstrous Mark
2 Unleash The Swarm


Whilst this isn't as good as the ol' Poison Tipped/Coastrunner deck, it did the job I needed it to do. Monstrous Mark feels a lot stronger than Poison Tipped, especially since it means that 30+ Coastrunners aren't mandatory, and MVM will only destroy a small chunk of the deck. Past that, Monstrous Mark also covers my Hero which means an additional 2 damage a turn, on top of the Assault 2 on my allies.

In playtesting, it faired quite well against Harmonize Druid, Nature Hunter though it died quickly to an AoE Rogue deck that had tooled up to fight all the Murloc decks sprouting up. Swarmtooth not showing up hampered the draw signficantly time after time after time after time after time etc etc.

I'm considering removing 4 more Murloc Coastrunners and replacing them with Servant of Neptulon since there are so many Frost cards hiding in there. I'm toying with bringing both Monstrous Mark and Unleash the Swarm up to 4 and removing the Splashtooths. I won't be able to playtest this more until next week though now.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Love Is In The Air - Ripley/Stoke


In which we read about my shortcomings at playing cards.

February means that Love Is In The Air, which has nothing to do with Valentines day, and has more to do with giving me another excuse to play cards.

For the Stoke event, I played the Alliance Warrior deck from my previous entry and for the Ripley event, I played Grand Crusader Dragonkin Rush WTB Drawpower Thing Medley.



 Stoke event:-

Game 1, vs Ben Dunbar
A quick game. A starting hand featuring Mekkatorque, Magni, Polished Breatplate of Valor, Golem Skull Helm and Triton Legplates was what sealed the deal.

Ben played a monster Shaman deck revolving around Ogres+ Colossal Totem to spam the field quickly. However he couldn't deal with a 10/10 Mekkatorque and Assault 10 from Triton Legplates

I got a good hand of equipment, including Triton Legplates and Polished Breastplates. Combined with a lucky Magni draw, I quickly got my health into the 40s and managed to mitigate damage. Turn 6 and 7 were spent dealing with his allies whilst I got the rest of the equipment I needed to pump up Mekkatorque.


Game 2, vs Jonny Roberts
Being as good at this game as I am, I attempted to target the Untargetable whilst Jonny was quite happy to ignore me and continuously play Harmonize allies and Muln Earthfury. Whilst I was expecting Mazu'kons to come out quickly, I was more surprised by the Keeper Remulos + Karkas Deathhowl that I didn't see coming. Jonny quickly made 11,000,000 tokens and then smashed my lifeless corpse with them.

To top things off, I had a terrible opening hand, even mulliganed. There was a Magni in it, which made me think I might be able to do something, but I drew into too much high cost armour and not enough allies to deal with his quickly building swarm of Harmonize allies.


Game 3, vs Aiden Laycock
Well, I didn't expect to beat Jonny but I thought I might here. Aiden was playing Token Druid rush with Crown of the Heavens cards mostly. Whilst I managed to lay down a silly amount of armour quickly, he had an answer to every single one of my high-threat cards. Burly Berta got Entangled. My 14/14 Mekkatorque that was about to swing for game was suddenly Entangling Roots'd. 

It was a Wild Cascade that sealed the deal for Aiden though. Whilst I can handle about 10 separate packages of damage, I can't handle it if it keeps doubling the amount of damage packages with Wild Cascade.

When he got to 20 tokens with ferocity, that was game to Aiden. I reckon that if I'd dealt with his Ancient ally giving his tokens ferocity, then I could have done something with the extra turn or two it would have bought me.


Game 4, vs Eddie Skelson
Long, drawn out game. Opening hand featured lots of armour and a Bloodied Arcanite Reaper and a Bromor, but little else.

Ed was playing an amalgamated Hunter deck with Ysera, dragonkin, Eranikus, Tesla and various other things.

Advantage was all over the place in this game. I was happily dropping armour after armour to mitigate the Steady Shot and few allies he was dropping, but Ed was resource ramping quickly with Lifewardens and Eranikus. By turn 7 Ysera was on the table with her mend and draw, but I had a Bloodied Arcanite Reaper with 2 heirloom counters on it. At this point though, I didn't have any allies of my own so I was relying on the 11 damage a turn I was swinging for to pop his big threats before they lowered my health. All the while Ed was healing down the damage I'd dealt to his hero whilst trying to get through my wall of armour.

A late Tesla with a pair of Azure Skyrazors managed to get him to push damage through. I was sweating at this point since I hadn't seen a single ally since my starting hand to help deal with the opposing swarm. And thats when Ed started dropping abilities to ramp his allies up with an additional Assault 4 on 4 allies and his hero. The extra 20 damage was way more than I could handle and that was my defeat, putting me in last place in the standings.

Just to take the piss, my next card was Mekkatorque who would have come out as a 20/20 and put me over the top to win.


Oh well, the things you can do if you had just one more turn.




Ripley event :-

Game 1, vs Adam Parsonage
Pars showed up to give me a lift to Ripley and accidentally wound up registering in the tournament itself. He was playing a Heal and Deal beatdown out of Alliance Priest. Unfortunately for Pars, my opening hand was what I like to call "Taste The Rainbow": Drax Felfuse, Emerald Captain, Azure Magus, Bronze Drake, Ruby Stalker and a Seeds of Their Demise (So many colours...).

Turn 1 was my normal Bronze Drake drop for the extra turn of damage. Turn 2 was Drax. Turn 3 I swung with an 8 attack Drax and filled my field out. A Bronze Warden saved me from his Burly Bertas whilst I spent the next 2 turns finishing his health off with my filled field.


Game 2, vs Oli Ward
Oli was playing Rogue, featuring Boundless Thievery and Poison The Well to hamper Grand Crusader.

My opening hand featured 3 Drax Felfuses and 2 1-drop dragons. I played the slow game and went for the turns 2-4 Drax drops, and turn 5 to drop the dragons I'd drawn into. I managed to make a massive swing for 30 damage, but a Sap stopped me from winning there and then. My turn 6 draw was Grand Crusader, buffing my field of Bronze Drakes, Bronze Guardians, Drax Felfuse, Ruby Stalkers. I used the stealth from Ruby Stalker to swing past his protectors and win.


Game 3, vs Julian Harse
Things went wrong here. Julian was playing an Alliance Hunter, which I wrongly assumed would be a control deck. My hand was an actual Grand Crusader hand, Bronze Warden, Bottled Light, Grand Crusader, Telor Sunsurge; for once there was no sight of my Drax Felfuse or my dragons. The first few rounds were played strategically, comprising of trading off allies for other allies.
Then from turn 4 onwards, I stopped drawing quests and started running out of cards. A lack of Girdle left me in an awkward place and Julian outpaced me quickly. I lost succinctly.


Game 4, vs Jonny Roberts
An average hand, and a close game (As far as I was concerned). I feel that if I hadn't made a small mistake on my third turn, then I could have won this game. I had a Bronze Warden, Bronze Drake and Ruby Stalker in hand. With 2 resources on the field, and 7 damage on my Hero from Jonny's Ice Barrier, I should have played the Stalker followed by the Warden to heal for 3, then rowed another resource and played the Drake for that precious Assault 1 on my Hero. I missed the middle part and played my resource first, not healing the 3.

Turn 6 Jonny got a Mazu'kon down and bypassed my field of Drax, Stalker, Drake and Azure Magus. The hit from Mazu'kon left me on 6 health exactly, meaning if I didn't kill his Hero there and then in my turn, then I couldn't win. A quick Delve showed me that my next 2 cards would both be Censure, dealing with the Mazu'kon problem for 2 turns. I couldn't find any drawpower in my hand or on my field. With less than 12 attack on the board, I couldn't deal with Mazu'kon threatening my health in that turn. It was a win in Jonny's favour, making me wish that I hadn't messed up my resource/ally order back on turn 3 so I'd have a chance to draw the first of those 2 Censures.


The 2/2 win/loss ratio put me in 4th place of 8 players, which was acceptable, especially compared to my poor performance in Stoke.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

If your Dad doesn't have a beard, you've got two Mums. Two beardless Mums.

In which we discuss blue beards.



By blue beards, I do mean Alliance flavoured Dwarves. Because it's not a day unless I blog about WoW cards. Though do check out the video. The Beards are extroidanarily good.

So. Beards DWARVES are the theme for todays deck. The original deck was created back in the Drums/Scourgewar/Worldbreaker days of core constructed, before the switch to a 2-block system. I also can't take credit for the deck, it was the concoction of a friend of mine.

The theme is simple, use Magni, the Mountain Beard for his effect and a Beard Warrior Hero to get access to all the delicious plate armour. Utilising Polished Breastplate Of Valor and various stash cards to keep adding armour and health and Bloodied Arcanite Reaper to keep adding damage to their face.

So, decklist:

Hero:
Stromdak of Ironforge

Master Hero:
[2] Nozdormu the Timeless

Allies:
[4] Magni, The Mountain King
[2] Mekkatorque, King of the Gnomes
[3] Jerrak Krandle
[2] Vandos, Herald of War
[2] Kentro Slade

Abilities:
[2] Enraged Rengeneration
[1] Bladestorm
[2] Augment Steel
[3] Brutal Strike
[2] Shockwave
[2] Twisted Rampage
[3] Whirlwind

Equipment:
[4] Polished Breastplate of Valor
[3] Bloodied Arcanite Reaper
[2] Warmace of Menethil
[1] Wild Hammer
[1] Triton Legplates
[2] The Horseman's Horrific Helm
[2] Bloodbane's Fall
[4] Gravitational Pull
[4] Dread Pirate Ring
[4] Swift Hand of Justice

Quests:
[4] Seeds of Their Demise
[2] Grimtotem Weapon


Like my other decks, this is a bit twisted and not very stable (Little draw power, for example). Mostly due to a lack of rares, partly due to time constraints for writing this list and not playtesting it yet.

Regardless, I'm going to tweak this deck overnight and then debut it at my local Love Is In The Air event tomorrow night. I might even actually write up the event for once.

His name is Sentry the Defiant.

In which we talk about his name.



Did you know his name is Sentry the Defiant?
As a Valentines present, Mr. Claudio Sanchez uploaded this video to the official Coheed site and Youtube (with free downloadable audio) with a message telling us that the new album is coming.

After a bit of digging around, I found an interview with Claudio that confirms this album as being tied to the previous concept albums by being in the same universe of The Amory Wars, but being set long before the events leading to The Crowing. A separate story in its own right.

I'll happily admit that my favourite thing about concept albums is attempting to decipher and disseminate their many potential meanings from the lyrics. With the Amory Wars storyline, it's been a lot of fun since it's such a wide open world and there's so little information available from the songs themselves.


I managed to break the lyrics down to this:

Believer, your spotlights on the subject so incorrect.
And suggestion, suggest that I’m someone you should not respect
Oh, you wear your fa├žade so well, covered up in a plastic shell
You’re a liar to everyone around you, just don’t forget

Face the honest truth
You were never you
Now be defiant, the Lion
Give them a fight that will open their eyes.
Hangman hooded, softly swinging.
Don’t close the coffin yet, I’m alive!
And it’s homecoming, and it’s homecoming.

Can you remember when there was no wrong in what I could do?
So young, biting off way more than I can chew
And then one day I grew too old, and my cares were now theirs to mold.
Please accept this as my resignation, it’s time to go.

Face the honest truth
You were never you
Now be defiant, the Lion
Give them a fight that will open their eyes.
Hangman hooded, softly swinging.
Don’t close the coffin yet, I’m alive!

I’m alive.

I will now bleed for what I believe in
No more mistakes for them to make, for me
So goodbye, it’s my time for me…

To be me.

Face the honest truth
You were never you
Now be defiant, the lion
Give them a fight that will open their eyes.
Hangman hooded, softly swinging.
Don’t close the coffin yet, I’m alive!

I’m alive!
I’m alive!
I’m alive!



My intial interpretation was that of a man on the executioners block, because that's the obvious thing. But there's a couple of other things here. I'm sticking with the execution idea for now.

The first verse seems almost like an accusation. Perhaps that of a man who has been caught for perpertrating a crime.
The second verse seems like a man lamenting his life to another person. Perhaps the "Please take this as my resignation" could be interpreted as the figure in-question turning himself over to the authorities.
The thrid verse looks like the last words spoken to an audience before the execution from the victim.


All in all, I'm looking forward to the new album. This song alone is very powerful, and the musical style harkens back to SSTB/IKSOSE:3 but retaining the strength from GA1&2.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Tables and high places.

In which we talk about the structure of my desk.

As a nerd, I spend a lot of my life at my computer desk doing nerd-related activities such as browsing the internet, playing video games, blogging and downloading huge amounts of porn organising charity events for orphans.

As a nerd, I also complain. A lot. Normally I complain about mainstream things, Star Wars or whatever some guy said to me on a forum, but in recent weeks, I've been complaining about my back problems. For the most part, I've only been complaining about the severity of the pain despite me being young and having superb back muscles.

About a week ago, I realised how low my monitors were on my computer desk, forcing me to hunch or slide back in my chair in order to compensate. It was suggested that I get some old magazines/books/DVD cases and prop my monitors up to eye level so that I'm leaning less and sitting up straight. Ergonomically speaking, this is almost a good idea since then I'd be in the most comfortable I could be without inciting health problems. However, I'm paranoid and have too much time on my hands, so instead of coming to this conclusion by myself, I instead pursued a different solution entirely: Standing Desks.

For those of you born without the incessant need to know everything in the world, ever; a Standing Desk is a tall desk that you stand at, rather than sit at.

I didn't randomly pluck this idea out of the air; it's been suggested to me before by a few others who use standing desks, and standing at a desk is supposedly healthier than sitting down all day. It was Lifehacker who turned me onto the idea of utilising a standing desk as well. Since I like to think of myself as a DIY kinda person I'm going about the process of turning an old broken trestle table into a standing desk by adding shelves and some latches so they can be removed

I'm going to use this blog as a way of chronicling my experience with a standing desk once I'm done

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Crown Of The Heavens: Or How I Learned To Stop Drafting and Start Loving Rogues

In which I blog about WoW cards again.

The second set in block 6 of my cardboard-crack addiction came out yesterday. Since I'm flat broke, I only picked up 1 Epic Collection and 9 boosters, not including sealed and prize stuff. As much as I'd love to type about how I pulled 3 epics and some decent rares, I thought I'd turn to my sealed event instead.

So, I headed down to my local card pit, GTG Games & Hobbies, for the Crown of the Heavens release party. I'm not normally one for sealed events due to my horrid levels of sucking at deckbuilding, by which I mean: I can't build decks to save my life.

Well, I'm not exactly terrible, but I do need time to look over a deck to spot my mistakes and in sealed events, I don't have that time available to me. Using the spoiler available here I had an idea of what commons I'd be using, but the deck would come down to the rares.

In 4 Crown boosters and 2 Throne, my rares came down to Tristani the Sunblade, Crown of the Ogre King, Preserve and Protect, Hagtrix the Mindsifter, Severed Visionary Tentacle and Unleash Inferno.
My commons and uncommons were fairly unimpressive.

I did have an overwhelming number of Alliance allies in comparison to Horde, but the Horde rares I pulled were what made me decide to go with the red option. There were more than enough neutral allies to pick up the slack.

Choice of hero came down to Warrior/Paladin/Death Knight so I could make use of some equipment. I went with Paladin since I already had Rohashu, Zealot of the Sun sleeved nearby and it could work with Preserve and Protect in case I might need some quick protectors.

So, with little time to go, I hastily threw the deck together with the final list being at 33 cards (Erk!):

Hero:
Rohashu, Zealot of the Sun

Allies:
[2] Jadefire Scout
[1] Murloc Coastrunner
[1] Izzy Quizfiz
[1] Abasha Windstorm
[1] Horngrim
[1] Thespius Bloodblaze
[1] Drotara the Bloodpoint
[1] Icaros the Sunward
[1] Jadefire Hellcaller
[1] Thunderpetal
[2] Jumahko Thundersky
[1] Tristani the Sunblade
[1] Hagtrix the Mindsifter
[1] Drak'narr
[1] Jadefire Felsworn
[1] Torr'nag

Abilities:
[1] Preserve and Protect
[1] Face of Fear
[1] Strength of Will
[1] Essence of Focus

Equipment:
[1] Bottled Cunning
[1] Belt of Absolute Zero
[1] Crown of the Ogre King
[1] Mandible of Beth'tilac

Quests:
[2] The Battle Is Won, the War Goes On
[1] Signed In Blood
[1] Black Heart
[1] Reoccupation
[1] Seeds Of Their Demise

I took first place which netted me 2 more Jadefire Scout promos and 2 extra Crown boosters. In retrospect, these were the best allies I pulled (Few low cost cards was a real pain). I probably shouldn't have included the non-rare equipment since all I did was resource it rather than use it.

I'm vaguely annoyed that in all 3 games I didn't see my Crown of the Ogre King orTorr'nag. On the other hand, Tristani the Wincondition and Hagtrix the Mildannoyance pretty much won me all 3 games. Jadefire Felsworn and Drak'narr managed to create lots of threat in the end game but my abilities rarely saw play until game 3. The third game I basicly one with a Jadefire scout buffed up with both Strength of Will and Essence of Focus.

Plenty of fun was had. I would type more but I have an Alliance deck to build at last.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Rush me to the emergency room, I appear to have embedded a Dragon in my foot.

I AM THE MOST PRO.

My previous deckbuild had a couple of major flaws. For one, the Hero card was incompatible with the only ability I had in the deck; The most important ability: Grand Crusader. And whilst I moaned about lack of drawpower, I completely forgot that Etched Dragonbone Girdle exists.

Anyway, I've made some revisions over the week to try and improve on my monstrosity of a deck.

Hero:
Amah the Sun's Grace

Allies:
[4] Emerald Captain
[4] Bronze Drake
[4] Bronze Warden
[4] Ruby Stalker
[2] Azure Magus
[4] Drax Felfuse
[2] Emerald Soldier
[4] Ruby Flameblade
[2] Telor Sunsurge
[3] Trade Prince Gallywix

[4] Exxi the Windshaper

Abilities:
[4] Grand Crusader
[4] Censure



Equipment:
[4] Etched Dragonbone Girdle
[4] Bottled Light



Quests/Locations:
[4] Challenge to the Black Flight
[4] Dragon Unchained



There are a million-and-one things I'd like to include in this build but just can't get my hands on at the moment. Above all; Twilight Citadels.


It's a bit of a mess, considering I'm lacking some of the power cards I wanted for this build (i.e Cairnes, Sava'gins, Mazu'kons), and the equipment I intended to use is elsewhere. I tried filling in the gaps with a few extra dragons, but they had no place at all. I settled on Gallywix (Cost 2/Works with Drax kindof), Exxi (Double attacking Drax/Combos with Gallywix) and Telor Sunsurge (See keyword).


I need to get into the habit of building decks 7 hours before my train...

Next week on my totally-not-a-tcg blog, Dwarves. Dwarves. Dwarves.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Become stronger, juggernaut.

I built my deck on the train, didn't playtest and ended up going 2-4 yesterday.
That is how pro I am.

Final decklist ended up slightly different to the planned one. I only had 3 Exxis and no Cairnes (I derped and forgot them) and I substitued the spare slots with Zudzos instead.

I figure that the deck has potential, it just needs some tweaking. And possibly ran out of something other than Shaman.
Now that I know what Grand Crusader does, I have a theoretical deck in mind.



Hero:
Rekwa Proudhorn

Allies:
[4] Emerald Captain
[4] Bronze Drake
[4] Bronze Warden
[4] Ruby Stalker
[2] Azure Magus
[4] Drax Felfuse
[3] Emerald Soldier
[4] Ruby Flameblade
[2] Emerald Tree Warder
[2] Sava'gin the Reckless
[2] Ruby Blazewing
[4] Cairne, Earthmother's Chosen

Abilities:
[4] Grand Crusader

Equipment:
[3] Devout Aurastone Hammer
[2] Polished Helm of Valor

Quests/Locations:
[4] The Seeds of Their Demise
[4] Challenge to the Black Flight
[4] Twilight Citadel

For this, I need Cairnes, Twilight Citadels, Grand Crusaders and Sava'Gins.

To the trademobile!

Friday, 20 January 2012

As a precaution, acid should only be taken if you intend to melt

2 posts, 1 day. Glorious.
 
Since I need to build a deck before tomorrow, I thought that this time I might go over my decklist in text form, instead of taking it and doing terribly.


So, I'm going with some variant of Green Dragonkin beatdown.

Hero:
Malaxia Wizwhirl

Allies:
[4] Emerald Captain
[4] Emerald Soldier
[4] Emerald Tree Warder
[4] Exxi the Windshaper
[4] Emerald Wanderer
[4] Emerald Lifewarden
[4] Zudzo, Herald of the Elements

Abilities:
[4] Earthen Blast
[4] Lightning Bolt
[4] Ancestral Purge
[4] Ancestral Recovery

Equipment:[4] Dread Pirate Ring
[4] Discerning Eye of the Beast

Quests/Locations:

[4] The Seeds of Their Demise
[4] The Torch Of Retribution
 
...That was harder than I thought it would be. I really need to get myself some rare cards again, or find my pile of rares.


I could really do with some Mottled Drakes and some more up-to-date quests to make use of.
Anyway, deliberating over whether or not I think this is runnable.

Cairne Bloodhoofs would be incredibly useful just for the stash and the ability to drop a powerhouse ally if the game becomes drawn out. This deck is severely lacking in attack, which is why I dropped the Exxi The Windshapers in there to try and get off some double attacks.

Another card this deck needs is Mottled Drake. It'd work better than the Exxis I think thanks to the obvious benefits of cheaper cost and being a dragon itself for interaction with certain cards.
Since I'm running so many Dragonkin, I could drop the Emerald Soldiers in favour of Drax Felfuse. Challenge to the Black Dragonflight and Dragon Unchained would make better quests as well.

The deck would benefit from a lot of things...like the past 2 sets.


Okay, let's try an improved list with a few borrowed cards:

Hero:
Malaxia Wizwhirl


Allies:
[4] Bronze Drake
[4] Emerald Captain
[4] Drax Felfuse
[4] Mottled Drake
[2] Ruby Flameblade
[2] Emerald Tree Warden
[4] Exxi the Windshaper
[4] Emerald Lifewarden
[4] Emerald Wanderer
[4] Ruby Blazewing
[1] Cairne, Earthmother's Chosen

Abilities:
[3] Elemental Flames
[4] Earthen Blast

Equipment:
[4] Prized Beastmaster's Mantle
[2] Wyrmwing Treads

Quests:
[4] Challenge to the Black Dragonflight
[2] Dragon Unchained
[4] The Seeds of Their Demise

This looks to be my final build. Keeping Exxi's in with the Drakes for interaction with Drax Felfuse. I did toy with Bronze Drakonid, but I realised that Exxi is just superior in every aspect for a meager extra cost 1.
The Mantles are mostly in there for the stash, same as Ruby Blazewing and Earthen Blast.

The theory is to drop a Drax, spam cheap dragons OR stash and complete quests to lay the smackdown with Emerald Wanderer.

I won't get to see how this plays until tomorrow now, but here's hoping this second build works!

A is for the address on the letter that I wrote to my alcoholic friends

In which I deliberate over being a gluttonous whore.

As a geek/nerd/antisocialmiserablebastard I spend a lot of my time following nerdy hobbies. I review games and hardware as a job. I play a number of TCGs for leisure and competition. I engage in pen and paper roleplay sessions on a weekly basis. I run LAN parties and video gaming nights. Hell, sometimes I get to play video games for fun.

But past that, I also try to keep up with my social life. Seeing my girlfriend, going to bars and club nights with friends. Keeping up with news from colleagues and family. Looking for a part-time job to subsidise freelance journalism.


Well, believe it or not I don’t find myself with a lot of unallocated time. And I’m a terrible, terrible procrastinater. Despite having work to do, a girlfriend to see or a game that I should really finish, I can quite happily sit around for hours just watching my Twitter feed.

For instance, tomorrow I have to be at the train station early so I can catch a train to Derby for a WoW TCG tournament. When I get back to Stoke, I’m expected to head to the local pub for my social groups usual Saturday night antics and I need to be awake early the next day to make sure all my work is out of the way before I start GMing our weekly roleplay session.


I know I’m not alone in my desire to do absolutely everything I enjoy, but am dismayed by the lack of time I have left to do everything else. The obvious solution is scheduling and priorities-

I just realised, I also play wargames. Something I forgot because I don’t have time for it anymore. I love games like GorkaMorka and Infinity, but I haven’t had time for even one game in the past 6 months.

And I still want to make a webcomic.



I pray to whatever deity may be listening to give me another 6 hours in the day.

Friday, 13 January 2012

High and a winner; Got a hot hand

It's January, so I'm back on the tournament circuit for the World of Warcraft TCG.

For anyone that's previously played with or against me during last years Realm Qualifiers, you'll be quite aware that my favourite flavour of deck is Goblin. Goblin Druid. Goblin beatdown. Infinite Goblins. Gobbos galore!

Last year I was rocking the Krixel Pinchwhistle/Exxi the Windshaper/Gurubashi Arena combination along with some other usual suspects.


This year I decided to break ground with a tighter version of my Baxxel Geartooth rush deck.
Hero:
Baxxel Geartooth

Allies:
[4] Kloxx Dedrix
[4] Izzy Quizfiz
[4] Grazzle Grubhook
[4] Yazli Earthspark
[4] Trade Prince Gallywix
[4] Boomer
[4] Exxi the Windshaper
[4] Zakis Trickstab
[4] Tesla
[2] Loque


Abilities:
[4] Avatar of the Wild
[4] Disengage
[3] Blast Trap
[2] Bestial Revival
[4] Aspect of the Wild

Quests:
[3] Corrosion Prevention
[3] The Essence of Emnity

Total: 61




...Okay, I said "tighter", I may have meant "Built-deck-in-30-minutes-and-not-thought-about-what-I-was-doing". I didn't have time to playtest either.

For me, playtesting was the first qualifier round due to time constraints.

For something so Ally heavy and concentrated, it performed about how I expected it to. Whilst I only went 2/3 and landed 8th place (Of 10 players...), my first games were supposedly quite close. Both my first and second games came down to a standoff, with me having a field and hand prepared to kill my opponent, and them managing to finish me off in their turn.

My 2 wins were against the same deck and against a less experienced player.

The other game was a Horde Hunter matchup that slaughtered me.


So, in 5 games I learned that compared to my old Druid deck, Hunters lack draw power. Speed was down to how fast I could drop Gallywix.
Yazli + Aspect proved to be exactly as effective as could be predicted as well.

My suggestions for the deck are few in number:
-2 Kloxx Dedrixx
-2 Zakis Trickstab
-2 Grazzle Grubhook
-1 The Essence of Emnity
+4 The Seeds of Their Demise
+1 Corrosion Prevention
+2 Gispax the Mixologist

I could be tempted to drop the Kloxx' altogether in favour of Kazbaz' or that other 2 drop Goblin protector, the 2/3 one.

This deck would benefit greatly from Cairne, Earthmother's Chosen if I could find a playset of them. The obvious stash effect and he's a beefy nature ally who can benefit from Aspect of the Wild.

I'm also toying with the idea of dropping the Loques altogether in favour of Al'Akirs. I'm not sold on the dropping a clear end-game card in favour of something just because it will stack with Aspect of the Wild. Loque is also retrievable with Bestial Revival, but Al'Akir is searchable with Gispax. If I were to run Al'Akir, I would feel the need to make room for Skywalls and Bound Vortexes. Skywall is easy, but the Bound Vortexes would be more difficult.

I'm wondering if running a couple of Zudzo, Herald of the Elements would be worth the effort of going about acquiring Zudzos .

All in all, I reckon that Aspect Hunter still has potential and it works with my Goblin theme. Whilst it remains likely that I'll be running Green Dragon beatdown at my next couple of qualifiers, I'm going to be working on an Aspect Hunter decklist for some other competitive events.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Geekery, fitness and the eclectic boogaloo

My Fitocracy beta invite finally showed up.

With my decision to attack 12 separate new years resolutions, this was a perfect excuse to attempt the “Lose weight again” resolution.

Tonight I decided to take a crack at doing a few workouts to test my limits. It’s been a few months since I took to excercising frequently, or even on a regular basis at all. About 8 months ago I had finished the “Couch to 5k” program, and could comfortably run for 30 minutes straight.


Cue 8 months of being a fat, lazy drunkard.

During this interim, I’ve somehow managed to put on nearly 25 pounds (and it shows) through a steady diet of kebabs and alcohol.

Since Fitocracy has experience points and level ups, I wanted to see if I could break level 1 in one workout. The short answer was no. The long answer was whenthehelldidigetsobadatrunning.
I managed to do 4 25 rep sets of jumping jacks to warm up. I followed up with 20 minutes of dancing like a lunatic.

However, it was the run I was looking forward to. I used to enjoy running, even if it was a bit time consuming. So after a short break, I warmed up with a 5 minute walk and then went straight to running. It was all going well, up until about 3 minutes into the run. Suddenly I was aching, out of breath and near-ready to collapse.

So, I’m horribly out of practice, out of breath and out of shape. Hopefully using Fitocracy honourably will help me break this sedentary cycle I’ve entered (and maybe even get my cycling. dohohohoho).

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Game of the Year, 2011

Steam is being a dick, so I thought I’d post something to alleviate boredom. A fun topic, methinks.
So, a few people have asked me what my game of the year was. It’s not been too challenging a question, even considering the number of big hits that have come out this year.

As a PC gamer, there’s been quite the amount of choice for “big” games all year. Portal 2, Shogun 2, Deus Ex, Skyrim, Witcher 2, MW3, BF3, Arkham City, Asassins Creed: Revelations, and many other titles. I’ve spent a myriad of days with most of the big titles this year on both console and PC in many cases as well.


Despite all the major developers releases this year, I’ve got indie games on the brain. Coffee Stain Studio’s Sanctum has been nothing but fun since I started playing it.

Another tower defence title, Orcs Must Die from Robot Entertainment has been delightful, though the lack of multiplayer and larger maps was a little disappointing.

The third indie title I’d like to mention isn’t a tower defence, but it is one of the most favoured indie games this year. Hailing from Supergiant Games, it’s Bastion.


Bastion, though short, was the most enjoyment I’ve had out of a video game this year. As most people will tell you, the presentation was amazing and the gameplay was simple but fun, and even challenging.

I chose Bastion as my game of the year because of it’s nigh-on flawlessness. The addition of a context-sensitive narrator was a brilliant move by the design team. It’s unique and offers something new with each playthrough. Then to top things off, Supergiant Games offer free DLC to show their appreciation to everyone who bought the game.

I’d say more about Bastion, but I don’t feel I can do it justice without doing a full review.


Outside of amazing indie games, I do have another game of the year: Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
Square Enix and Eidos collaborated together to make a brilliant prequel to the original Deus Ex game.

The cutscenes (A la Squenix) were a bit tacky, but they were packaged in interesting gameplay and an addictive storyline. It left appropriate room for the DLC installment without leaving any holes in the gameplay or storyline.


More on this subject in another post.