WoW: Still kinda bitter over those spacegoats

November 19, 2014

Random little thing; Stu has produced a table of characters from WoW, styled after the periodic table of elements. Honestly I don’t recognize half the names, but I did get a chuckle out of characters being alive, deceased, or undead.

Question; Why is Onyxia undead? Was her lore updated to acknowledge being killed a billion times during vanilla raiding, but coming back anyway? And if so, why aren’t all of the other dragons from raids in a similar status? Like Ysera is listed as alive, but I’ve killed that dragon personally.

Hearthstone: This kiddie pool sure has a lot of leaks

November 18, 2014

More observations as I roll my face across the iPad ‘playing’ Hearthstone:

Just like MtG (or basically most card games of this type), Hearthstone is a major Pay-4-Power game. Epic and Legendary cards are silly strong, and as soon as you see someone drop a few on you in a game, you might as well take your participation trophy and move on (unless of course you also have a stacked deck). The fact that you can’t trade cards further pushed Hearthstone into a wallet-warrior game, because smart trading can’t help you catch up; only grinding or cash.

Speaking of participation trophies, Hearthstone has a few major design flaws in its setup. For one, having a bot automate conceding ranked games for you is amazingly effective. You still get XP for your ‘effort’, and you don’t lose anything. Plus, should you run across another concede bot who goes first (roughly 1 in 5-6 games for me currently), you get a free win to grind towards the gold card/character rewards and the 3-win 10 gold reward.

The whole ranked setup is also a bit of a joke. The only reward is at rank 20, and you can’t drop below rank 20 once you get to it. Also you can’t lose progress while working towards rank 20, so that auto-concede bot will eventually (surprisingly quickly) get you to rank 20. At rank 20 things are an expected mess. Concede bot farmers aside, you will also run into a whole bunch of ‘smurf’ decks just looking to smash people, again because Blizzard designed the system to not only allow, but actually made it incredibly easy for them to sit at that level. Safe to say a solid 50% or so of ranked games aren’t competitive (generously calling any relatively even deck game of Hearthstone competition here).

The game is perfect for ‘playing’ while you do something more interesting, because during your opponents turn whether you are looking at the screen or not doesn’t matter; you can’t do anything anyway. On the surface this is just boring while you wait with nothing to do, but go a bit below the surface and this is actually a major, major removal of interesting decisions and strategy.

In MtG you had to always be aware of the status of your opponent. How many cards they have, how much untapped land they have, how much land could they potentially need to use during your attack phase based on the creatures they have out, etc. None of this exists in Hearthstone.

If it’s your turn, whether someone ends their turn with 10 crystals or 0 doesn’t matter. Whether someone has 10 cards in hand or 0 doesn’t matter (overdrawing aside). They can’t have tapped or untapped creatures. There is no regen they need to pay for. No creature abilities they need to pay for. So many tactical player decisions are gone. Not your turn in Hearthstone? Nap time!

Regeneration is one creature ability completely missing currently, as is its counter bury. Flying is another, as is landwalk (landwalk would be impossible since Hearthstone only has one type, not five like in MtG), so is first strike. So are any player-active abilities beyond on-summon stuff. The game does have a whole bunch of dice roll abilities; such as one creature who randomly deals 3 damage to anyone; friend or foe. Sure you can attempt to limit the randomness by having fewer potential targets, but that critical creature you need killed who has one hitpoint might still be standing if Hearthstone randomizes the card not in your favor and decides the damage is all going to go to heroes rather than that card. Super fun when that happens, and a silly amount of cards are designed with such randomization.

Then there are just more general problems. For instance, there are a TON of board-clear cards/combos. A ridiculous amount honestly. On top of this there are even more single-removal cards, and of course none of this can really be countered since when it’s not your turn, you just sit and spin until it is. Imagine if every deck in MtG had 10 copies of Swords to Plowshares (but without the healing aspect, and the card destroying everything) and you get a decent idea of what I mean.

This leads to basically only playing enough cards to gain board advantage, but not ‘too many’ to lose card advantage when the inevitable board-clear happens. Game after game this is the pattern, and because Hearthstone has so few real patterns, it’s just boring. Arena is again a bit better, but only slightly so, and Arena is (or should be, anyway) like the ARAM to the real meat of ranked/SR, to bring this into LoL terms. Imagine if ARAM was the only interesting/balanced version of LoL? That’s Hearthstone in a nutshell, except if you removed 99% of the needed ability from actually playing ARAM and gave every hero a 1m damage Karth ult on a 30sec cooldown.

It really is not only a shockingly shallow game, but a basically flawed game as well, not just by Old Blizzard standards, but just general game design standards. If this was an SOE or EA product, it would still be a sub-par effort from those studios. For Old Blizzard? This is Ghost/Warcraft Adventures, only released instead of rightly aborted.


CoC: Supreme Cream! vs Pinoy Realm 2 11/16/2014

November 18, 2014

(Stats and writeup provided by Delpez)

Supreme Cream! vs Pinoy Realm 2

Supreme Cream Enemy
Average TH Level 7.51 7.60
Score 121 126
Total Attacks Used 77 84
Total 3 Star Attacks 34 40
Total 3 Star % 44.16 47.6
3 Stars Against Same Level 29 24
3 Star % Against Same Level 47.5 40.0
3 Stars Against Lower Level 5 12
3 Star % Against Lower Level 45.5 75.0
TH4,5&6 3 Stars 1 4
TH4,5&6 3 Star % 10.0 50.0
TH7 3 Stars 18 19
TH7 3 Stars % 72.0 76.0
TH7 3 Stars (same level) 14 8
TH7 3 Stars % (same level) 93.3 100.0
TH8 3 Stars 13 15
TH8 3 Star % 39.4 36.6
TH8 3 Stars (same level) 12 12
TH8 3 Star % (same level) 37.5 32.4
TH8 Ave Stars / Attack (same level) 2.1 1.8
TH9&10 3 Stars 2 2
TH9&10 2 Star % 22.2 20.0
TH9&10 3 Stars (same level) 2 0
TH9&10 2 Star % (same level) 33.3 0.0
TH9&10 Ave Stars / Attack (same level) 1.83 1.00

Since I’ve been tracking our wars, we’ve won 22 and lost only 7. All six previous losses were a mismatch; the opposing clan was much stronger than us (although most of those wars were still close). This is the first war in almost four months where we were beaten in a fairly even contest. Yes, our opponents were slightly stronger based on TH level and yes, in a close war small advantages can be crucial. However, as far as matchmaking is concerned, this is probably as good as it gets.

Where was this war won and lost? First have a look at the next table, showing the number of bases per TH level and the stars left behind in brackets.

Supreme Cream! Enemy
Nr of TH10 3 (6) 1 (2)
Nr of TH9 2 (1) 4 (2)
Nr of TH8 19 (2) 21 (10)
Nr of TH7 14 14
Nr of TH6 5 5
Nr of TH5 2 0
Nr of TH4 0 0

Both clans had the same number of high level (TH9&10), TH7 and TH6 bases. The only difference was their two additional TH8 bases compared to our two TH5 bases. We left four high level stars on the table against their seven. However, we also left ten TH8 stars behind versus two. So we lost because we left too many TH8 stars behind, keeping in mind that we had two more TH8 bases to 3-star.

Looking per base, not much was happening at the lower end. There were very few bases to attack and we had two TH5 bases, along with a couple of newly promoted TH6 bases. Our TH7’s did exactly what they were supposed to do – 3 star every TH7 base and clean up after the lower level bases. What really surprised me were the TH8 stats. My general feeling throughout the war was that we were getting hammered at this level, and that feeling was reinforced by the number of stars left behind. However, our TH8’s just about edged theirs when looking at 3-star percentages and average stars per attack. Our top bases also beat theirs quite comfortably. So if the low levels and TH7’s were a draw and we performed better at TH8 and the high levels, how did we lose the war?

Basically, the opponent’s TH8’s had some help – their TH7’s managed three 3-star attacks against our TH8’s, and all three attacks were towards the end of the war when both clans were trying to mop up. Their top level bases contributed another two 3-star attacks against our TH8’s. Those five attacks resulted in six new stars in the war (they mopped up four 2-star bases and one 1-star base). This does not necessarily mean our TH8’s performed well; it just appears as though the TH8’s from both clans struggled to crack same level bases with dragons. As their TH7’s showed, it is still possible with proper tactics (the second attacks of their #30, #31 and #38 are good examples of how to crack a low TH8 base with level 2 dragons). I’m working on some numbers related to dragon attacks specifically, which I will post some time in the next few days.

To summarize, at the moment our TH7’s smash all same level and lower bases, and our top levels seem to have the edge in most wars. However, because of the large number of TH8’s, wars in the foreseeable future will be won and lost at that level. So TH8’s need to prioritize air defences, level 3 dragons and general tactics. Some help from our higher levels against opposing TH8’s could also determine the result of a close war.

Trion being Trion: Server rollbacks are technically impossible

November 17, 2014

(Inside reader note: The title should be read while thinking back to the time Blizzard told us open-world PvP without instancing was technically impossible and that’s why Wintergrasp was made, likely the same week some 2000 or whatever EVE battle happened.)

Two things related to this Massively story.

First, the exploit with the cash shop has been around since day one. It’s news now because everyone is aware of it. If you were one of those idiots stating “exploiting isn’t that rampant” a few weeks back, hi. This is how shit works kids. Fools who get caught and make news aren’t the ones you worry about, because if you are dumb enough to get caught by Trion, you were never a factor to begin with. Instead what you should have worried about are the organized “play to win” guilds who know about all this stuff and exploit it quietly right under Trion’s nose. (That said, in a way Trion fixed the problem; with AA being such a dumpster due to their mismanagement, if you are playing AA still you aren’t really ‘winning’ anything).

Second, the fact that Trion refuses to do rollbacks leads me to believe they can’t. Like they technically don’t have the ability because they are Trion. I fully expect a “We have to ask XLGames about that” statement if demand for rollbacks continues, because that is always Trion’s PR ‘get out of our own mess’ card with AA (Which they showed is 100% bull when they finally got somewhat of a handle on the in-game chat spam).

Keep doing you Trion, please please keep doing you.

New PC configuration

November 14, 2014

Here is the configuration I have from Digital Storm. Config code is 1074730 if you want to look at it yourself over at their site.

Chassis Model: Digital Storm Coridium

Processor: Intel Core i5 4690K 3.50 GHz (Codename Devils Canyon) (Unlocked CPU) (Quad Core)

Motherboard: ASUS Z97-P (Intel Z97 Chipset) (No SLI Support)

System Memory: 16GB DDR3 1866MHz Digital Storm Certified Performance Series

Power Supply: 750W EVGA SuperNOVA

Optical Drive: DVD-R/RW/CD-R/RW (DVD Writer 24x / CD-Writer 48x)

Storage Set 1: 1x SSD (500GB Samsung 840 EVO)

Graphics Card(s): 1x NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 4GB (Includes PhysX)

Sound Card: Integrated Motherboard Audio

Extreme Cooling: H20: Stage 2: Digital Storm Vortex 120mm Radiator Liquid CPU Cooler (High-Performance Edition)

CPU Boost: Stage 1: Overclock CPU 4.0GHz to 4.4GHz

Windows OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium (64-Bit Edition)

Hearthstone: New Blizzard vs Old Blizzard

November 13, 2014

TL:DR – Hearthstone is the perfect example of New Blizzard, and the perfect example of why I miss Old Blizzard so much.

It’s still Blizzard, so they still have the whole polish thing going. For a great example of this, open up Trion’s Glyph, then open up Blizzard’s They both do the same thing (try to be Steam), but it’s immediately obvious that one is well-crafted while the other is a clownshow.

Hearthstone has that polish. As a mobile game its well done and ‘works’ as you would expect a game to work. It has a ton of nice touches like bringing back classic Warcraft sound bites and themes, and there is just well-executed detail all over the place. The PC port of Hearthstone isn’t bad, but it’s bare-bones and very minimal; it’s very clear Hearthstone is intended to be a mobile game that also happens to run on your PC.

Hearthstone also has Blizzard’s easy of entry design. It gets you in and playing quickly, and ramps you up well. This again is critical in the mobile space given the amount of competition, and the expected patience/time the average player will have.

Where New Blizzard steps in is the depth and longevity aspects. Hearthstone is a very, very dumbed down version of Magic the Gathering. The number of difficult decisions you need to make in an average game is rather minimal (a scary number of games don’t even require one), and even deck building is heavily neutered compared to MtG.

For example, in MtG you have colors, which Hearthstone replaces with classes. Only classes lock you into one set of cards. No mixing. You then fill out the rest of your deck from a ‘open to everyone’ stack. This alone cuts heavily into deck building, and ultimately deck variety and strategy.

Another example; deck size is 30 cards with a max of two of the same card (one for legendary super-power cards). MtG (perhaps back in the day, its been a while) had a deck limit of 60, with a max of four of the same card (max 2 for certain cards in tourney format). On the surface this might look like it comes out to the same thing, yet it’s not. Plenty of decks benefited by having just one copy of a card, but still using that max of 60 as an advantage. All of those decisions are gone in Hearthstone.

The fact that you can’t trade cards in Hearthstone is a giant removal of ‘gameplay’, and it’s replacement (crafting) is a math-tax test of idiocy.

There are likely hundreds of other examples, but at the end of the day Hearthstone is just a much simpler, much easier card game, and that poor and short-sighted design kills its longevity as mastery comes rather quickly.

Now some might argue that because Hearthstone is a mobile game, it has to be simple and shallow. “That’s what works in mobile SynCaine!”. Except that’s not actually true. The most popular and profitable mobile game out (for years now) is Clash of Clans. CoC has Blizzard-level polish and easy of entry, but it also has Old Blizzard design in terms of depth. If you want to just pick the game up and derp around, you can do that. If you want to dive into the deep end, the game has one. Hearthstone doesn’t, as was made embarrassingly clear at the world championships.

If we move past Hearthstone and look big-picture, since when is Blizzard the studio that produces middle-of-the-road titles? Because that’s exactly what Hearthstone is; it’s a good-enough mobile game, but it looks like an SOE product compared to top mobile games like CoC. Heroes of the Storm, the upcoming MOBA title, sounds like a good-enough game that again won’t really compare/compete with League of Legends (another game with Old Blizzard levels of quality/design). Overwatch turnout out to be a good-enough TF2 clone won’t be a surprise. WoW going from vanilla/TBC to Cata/MoP? Old Blizzard vs New, and the sub numbers reflect that.

For whatever reason (talent drain, resting on past success, the Activision merger) Blizzard isn’t the company putting out instant classics like Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo 1-2 anymore. Instead we have been getting decent/meh titles and WoW updates, which is what’s most disappointing. I miss Old Blizzard.

WoW: They don’t make em like this anymore

November 13, 2014
Original model

Original model

Hello good looking

New model


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