Friday, September 22, 2017
This week on my stream I've been going down a PS2 nostalgia hole with one of my favorite games from back in the day, Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone. I've been waiting for Magic: Arenas to actually become something I can stream, so in the meantime I've been trying to play things fantasy oriented. So far, I've played some Volgar the Viking, Diablo II and now Demon Stone.
This came out in 2004, the same time of the licensed Lord of The Rings "Hack n' Slash" movie games and followed the same type of combat. Those LotR games were missing some depth that usually comes along with games licensed from big movies. Things like fighting the same orc that appeared in the movie a thousand times over, or limiting your character models to things that were only in the movie. That shit plagued LotR for awhile and thank god they stopped doing that with The Third Age and Battle for Mordor.
Hasbro and WotC could take "original" concepts for its version of the game which made it very interesting compared to just playing through a movie you'd already seen. Replaying it now I can see how this shit blew my mind back then. First off the intro to the game is fucking epic. It's a master class on how to get your audience interested in the adventure that's about to take place. Too many games rely on putting background first and foremost instead of having the characters and stories unravel as the game goes on. This begins with our main standard human fighter protagonist walking down a dirt road only to come upon a battle between two giant hordes of orcs and one giant dragon. That's all you know. You're a dude with a sword, there's a big fuckin battle and people yelling for you to help them, so you go and do it.
The game drops any "Choose your own Adventure" bullshit elements and just proceeds to tell a simple linear plot that you hack and slash your way through...and it's really refreshing. Sometimes I don't want to give a shit about who I save or let die, the moral dilemma game mechanic at this point is just overdone. Just tell me the fucking story, and make it interesting! Luckily R.A. Salvatore, Forgotten Realms writer extraordinaire, wrote the story. Which makes me want to pick up his other game, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning....In fact, fuck it I'm probably going to play that next.
Anyways, I'm half way through the game now and I'm falling in love with the progression system, swapping between the three unique characters and the straight forward story. The only real negative that I've picked up on is that the combat doesn't have the contact that I've become use to with Hack n' Slash games of today. There's no targeting for direct melee combat and that can make you feel like you're just slicing through thin air sometimes. It's definitely not ground breaking combat by today's standards and I'm directly basing that on Bayonetta and DMC...I'll give it a proper review when I'm finished, but for now I would just say that if you're a fan of the DnD genre and want something cheap, short and fun to get through, it's definitely worth a play.
Played it before? Got a Hack n' Slash you like? Tell me about it!
Thanks for reading,
Monday, September 18, 2017
So nine hours later we finally had to give up. Some of us had work in the morning and we'd been banging our heads against the wall in the hysterically named, "Pleasure Gardens" for about 4 hours. By the time we threw in the towel we had completed 2 previous main challenges without guidance. We did the raid "blind" meaning that none of us knew going in what we were getting in to, but we had managed to slowly make progress through the Leviathan up until this point.
The Pleasure Gardens challenge is about the size of a medium PVP map. The area is a maze of trees and stone pillars with a thick blue mist that covers the ground. Bright neon pink "Royal Beasts" patrol area, of which give a somewhat "Avatar" vibe to the whole encounter. Once a beast spots you, you have about 30 seconds to deal damage to them and get back to your "Safe Room" before you self destruct.
There are really only two roles that a player can take in this challenge. The first is to be one of two players who jump on pillars above the misty maze and help your team by communicating where beasts and pods are and trigger the pods by blasting them with light. The other is to sneak around the gardens in a pack of four, searching for glowing pods while avoiding being detected. Once your group gathers around a pod, your guy on top will blast it with light, giving your team a buff that will help damage the Royal Beasts...
Sounds easy enough right? Well shit, nope not really. First the beasts seem to have no real set of rules on what triggers them. You'll run past them and nothing happens. Other times they seemingly catch you through walls or they'll even be transported into your safe room and glitch themselves into walls. You'll end up having to start the encounter over and over again, not because you were spotted, but because the game decides to glitch out and a Beast will catch you even though they're no where near you.
The encounter becomes exceedingly difficult due to all the communication that must take place and the odds of one of the 4 players wandering around the maze just increases the likely hood of being caught....and then when you get good enough that you're consistently getting 2 or 3 buffs, you find that every time you kill a beast you'll take down your death timer to about 30 seconds before it triggers.....What I'm trying to say is that it gets extremely fucking frustrating.
We kept it civil though and it just turned out to be more disappointing more than anything. We decided to end our agreement about keeping it "blind" and looked up how other people were dealing with the challenge...and it just makes me do a face slap with how simple it looks now...maybe we were just complicating it too much?
Regardless though, I'm tending to agree with this Forbes article and many others on twitter that are in agreement that this challenge was a little poorly executed. And YAH I'm fucking bitter, we literally wasted our entire Saturday and getting stuck on stealth challenge in a game that doesn't focus on stealth at all, is pretty fucking frustrating.
I have pretty good hopes for our next go at it though. Well, let me know how you're fairing at it...hopefully better.
Thursday, September 14, 2017
(on a second read through of this, I think it comes across a little harsh and a little too judgy! They put a lot of time into making the game I just want to love it more than I already do...so read it in a lighthearted tone, that's really how I meant it...fuck that's how I mean most things. Cheers)
Ahhhhhh Destiny, my dear friend...or more precisely, my sweet addiction. The original had it's obvious flaws (watch Angry Joe's review if you haven't already, it's the most popular video for Joe or about Destiny ever...so that's saying something), a boring grind and a half assed story that I could have written (dog shit). The game was originally advertised as an epic space opera on the level of the original Star Wars trilogy. A boundless experience that each player would live and create alone or working together...and early concepts hinted that this was actually the case. An FPSMMORPG or genre bender that was going to change the idea of what a game could be.
And I guess that is ultimately my problem with the first, and now second iteration of the franchise. It's not the actual game itself that's the problem. The problem is what the game could be. I of course am not the authority on what Destiny "Should Be", that's up to Bungie. What I am sure of though, is that the game that Destiny was meant to be will exist at some point and there's no reason that this game shouldn't have been the first step in getting there. It's a fun game to play with friend and gets so much right with the gunplay and movement, but the wasted potential of anything outside of that is still there in the sequel.
I wanted to explore, create and be a part of an expanding universe where humanity was on the brink and only our combined efforts could work together to bring us back from the edge. A game that pulls this off in it's own way is HellDivers. Although completely tongue and cheek in a Starship Troopers kind of way, the game has every player in the game working towards a combined goal to save humanity, and depending on how the players preform the world is either saved or destroyed. The game is not static, you either work together and save humanity or everything falls a part. D2 feels like it will go on whether you're there or not, and for a story that emphasizes so much on the lone player, you wouldn't think that would be the case.
That kind of combined fate is desperately needed in a game like Destiny. Another thing lacking is ownership. You feel that you are a guest in the game, for all your time spent blasting away at threats to the Traveler, your only take away is guns, armor or a different looking ship or Sparrow. Players need a home or clan base to hang their achievements something to look to in an otherwise very static environment and be like, "We achieved this".
They keep trying to run away from being an MMORPG by half assing it and continuing to push back in interviews on why they aren't delivering like they originally said they would. I want my epic space adventure and Destiny sometimes gets so close it's frustrating. Insert some innuendo here about Bungie bringing me close to orgasm, then stopping and telling me I'm doing it wrong. LIKE FUCK. Just do it the way I want!
Of course, with all my whining and bitching, I gotta say that I really do enjoy Destiny. When you get a good group of friends together to do a raid or PVP it's fucking fantastic. But that's really what makes it stand out, it's not necessarily the game itself, it's the people that you experience it with. Bungie has nailed that aspect of the game, I think it's time that they take a step back and flesh out some other ideas and expand the game to something more than just an FPS with a RPG coat of paint. There are so many ways to do this, they just have to get it together and do it. And believe me, if they don't do it, someone else will. Anthem has been sending me dirty texts for awhile now, and I think they may be able to give it to me the way I want.
Thanks for reading my ramble....I wish I had more time to really sit down and get my coherent thoughts and maybe do more research for these, but I just don't have the time. Feel free to let me know how you feel about it! I'm @devoinz on the twitter and @devoinxyz on the twitch.
Cyah Space Cowboy,
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Last time we looked at our Enrage Creatures and their potential value. Today, I want to look at what we'll be using to trigger our Enrage abilities and how viable these triggers are...before that though I wanted to say that we've received even more help in ramping our Dinos! For one white mana Kinjalli's Caller gives you a 0/3 creature that makes "Dinosaur spells you cast cost 1 less to cast", which is good news for Enrage and Dinos in general. This along with Otepec Huntmaster and Ranging Raptors we should definitely be able to get Dinos into a playable range....so that's good news everybody.
Anyways, let's get to the good stuff. These are the cards that I've identified in the upcoming standard that should be able to help power our Enrage Engine. There seems to be three main categories (let me know if I missed something) Red Burn, Creature/Artifact Abilities and Planeswalkers.
Red Burn gives us some low cost opportunities to activate Enrage and even gives us the added bonus of being able to decide whether burning a pesky opponent would be more beneficial than damaging our own creatures. Out of these, I really like Rile and Chandra's Pyrohelix. We don't want to be hitting our Dinos for 2 or 3 damage, the more you can chip away with 1 damage the better. Rile gives you card draw, while Pyrohelix gives you the opportunity to trigger two of your Enragers or split it and take out something small on their side. I could see harnessed lightning in a more energy dense strategy, but I don't think energy and enrage are a thing. The other spells give you the added benefit of aggression, which could help early game. I think Red Burn will be good to have a mix of spells for early game, but these "burn" out too quickly, the more sustainable ways we can inflict damage to enrage, the better.
Walking Ballista will obviously be the star of any serious Enrage strategy. Ballista can do work by getting you mana into the battlefield, drawing cards or doing direct damage one ping at a time...but the real spookiness comes from mixing it with Bellowing Aegisaur. Aegisaur will pump Ballista as long as it has life to sustain it...meaning that any other cards on the battlefield will be gaining counters for every ping, a max of 5 in one turn. Get two Aegisaurs on the field though or a Winding Constrictor and you now have a Perpetual Enrage Engine....meaning your Ballistas, Aegisaurs and anything else on the board can be pumped infinitely. So you're swinging with infinite creatures or just pinging them straight to the face with an infinite Ballista....sick, if you're able to pull it off.
Out of the other cards here, I like that Fervent Paincaster can repeatedly trigger Enrage, but waiting for Exert to wear off isn't the best. The better option is probably Quicksmith Rebel for 1 more mana...the only issue with him is that you'll be doing 2 damage, getting your creatures closer to being lost to your opponents burn spells. I like the body on Raging Swordtooth and that it's Trample, plus you'll be dinging your opponents for that damage too. If you can get Raging Swordtooth in for 1 or 2 cheaper I could definitely see it being worth a spot.
Finally we have our Planeswalkers. I remember when I first saw the Samut walker I thought it was dog shit, but in this situation, it's not terrible....not super terrible. She's not such a threat that your opponent might be willing to let you keep it on the board for some time. The star here is the -2, which is Chandra's Pyrohelix in a walker ability. You'll get to pop 2 off for the same price and then if for some reason you still have her on the board, you'll be giving a dino double strike...double strike trample ain't all that bad.
Then of course there's the Dino Rider herself Huatli. Her -X is perfect for Enrage and her +2 will should give you plenty or room to work around plusing and neging her without having her suicide. By the way! Her first story just came out on WotC website today...pretty cool, feel bad fer her dino though.
Well that's all I got...Enrage looks cool if you can get it going, but I wont know for sure until I see it in action. I'll be sure to post my final Enrage deck at some point. Let me know if I missed anything or if you have anything to add. Thanks for reading!
I'm on the Twitter @devoinz
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
So...I'm still calling this post "Enrage Boner", but honestly after a deeper inspection, it's really only giving me an "Enrage Half Chub". At first sight the Enrage mechanic looks like it's potential value could be amazing with the right engine. Drawing cards, doing direct damage and and an endless supply of 1/1 counters...really had me standing at attention. With the added advantage of making your opponent weigh the options of whether or not to attack. Will they just be supplying you with more cards and better creatures? That hesitation could give you advantage.
So let's take a look at the reality of the situation. How good are these engine gears? Do we have enough power to make it run on it's own accord, at a competitive pace? I'm taking a look specifically at the Enrage Engine and cards that specifically interact with it, not looking at what an "Enrage Deck" might consist of.
Ok so first off we have our little raptor buddy pal who I personally would like as a pet...the thing is damn cute and I'm sure the ladies love it. I've heard some off handed dismissals of this guy, but its basic and potential values are extremely high. At a basic level this little guy can slow your opponents momentum by chump blocking and then, most likely, overpowering their creature with a 3/3 trample Dino. This will most likely slow their tempo because they wont want to give you that body early game. Then, by the grace of the almighty Jeebus, if you're able to pump this guy at all then you've got the potential to create 3/3 Trample token generator...not bad for a CMC of 2. Just imagine this as a waaaaay better Doomed Dissenter. People love that card and that doesn't come close to touching this little guy.
Ok, so a lot of the speculation as to if Enrage or Dino's in general going to work depends on whether you're going to have the mana to pull it off. The costs of your creatures and the spells you'll need to prime your engine are extremely heavy....and that's where something like Ranging Raptors does the trick. We should already be working with a deck that allows us to inflict small amounts of damage on our creatures and with text that reads "Put it onto the battlefield tapped", this definitely moves us closer to having enrage be a real thing. There are other ways to get the mana we need, but mana fixing with a body that can potentially do it every turn...seems real good to me.
Everybody seems pretty excited for this dude! We have a 4/5 for four that draws cards and looks like a badass. Last I checked it was going for $10 on TCGPlayer and has the potential to go higher...especially if someone can make this engine work. This is the card that will be supplying you with the spells and the mana you need to get the ball rolling and turn this into a perpetual or infinite engine. The defense and offense potential of this card is amazing without the line of text, but that just adds to the value. Got a winner here.
This is the goddamn dino that kills T-Rex in Jurassic Park III and for that alone, I'm not a fan. Besides that though, the flash is intriguing, but doesn't give your opponent the giant middle finger that you're hoping for on a flash creature...this isn't pumping or making your other creatures indestructible, it's just a 4/4 with potential to pump itself. Which isn't terrible, but I'm not seeing the value that we would need to make it a final part of the engine.
Next we have the Sun-Crowned Hunter. Straight off the bat we're able to see that if you're able to ding this guy repeatedly, you could do potentially 9 direct damage to your opponent every turn. That is pretty sick, but for 6 CMC and the potential to have a piece in place to do it....still though, you could attack or block and before you let it die you use your Walking Ballista to ping it 3 times and then it's still hopefully trading for one of their creatures and sending that final damage to send 12 directly straight to the face.....but you'll need that Ballista or something else in place to make it happen though....Well writing about it makes it sound pretty decent, so the potential is there, but I'm not sure about this one.
Finally we got the Big Dawg! This guy is really what has me rock solid. God damn! I mean I get it, the CMC is too damn high, but we have so many ways to deal with that...between your regular mana dorks, Ranging Raptors, Otepec Huntmaster and Oketra's Monument there are ways to get this 6CMC down to play on turn 5 or even 4....and with the right cards in place this has the potential to win the game immediately. Match this with Walking Ballista's and Winding Constrictor and it's goddamn game over. Not only that, but this will be providing all your other Enragers with more room to get off, getting you more tokens, cards or direct damage. It's basic value is just so good, that your opponent is going to be worried every time they see it hit the board. I have high hopes for this guy, but that all depends on the power, can we pull this off?
So we've taken a look gears in the Enrage Engine, but it'll need stable and consistent mana and self inflicted damage to pull it off. I'm not sure if it is viable yet, but I'm willing to give it a chance and look at it further. Next time I'll be looking at the spells we'll be using to engage the enrage, after that I'll be seeing how and if they work together.
Thanks for reading! Let me know if I missed anything and what you think about the Enrage mechanic?