Moving from MMOs to Mobile

It’s funny how my gaming has flipped. Back when I started this blog, my main games were always MMOs, and I’d play other games to fill the gaps. At some point a big gap filler became mobile games, but initially those were random titles I’d grab for free or pay a few bucks, and generally play for a few hours. Day to day I was still playing MMOs, following MMO news, and blogging about MMOs.

Time and life goes on, and today the most consistent games I have are all mobile. I’ve been playing Clash of Clans and Clash Royale now longer than any MMO not called EVE, and of late Mighty Party sees more actual gaming time than anything else on PC week to week. I barely follow MMO news anymore, and the few blogs I still read I do so because I like the author more so than because I need to ‘keep up’ with what is happening in the MMO scene. Obviously here this blog is way down on posts, especially those focused on MMO gameplay and design.

Not that any of that is bad of course. I’m still very happily gaming, just with different titles on different platforms. Of late I have been playing two boardgame adaptations on PC, Carcassonne and Lords of Waterdeep. Both are 100% accurate recreations of their physical counterparts, and both work very well for multiplayer. Waterdeep in particular is just a fantastic game to play over and over, as it changes so much game to game.

Besides those titles, I’m looking forward to the upcoming Battle Brothers expansions in mid August, which will give me a single player game to consume myself with for a while. After that, Necromunda should be close to release, which I’m hoping will be a great solo and multiplayer game to enjoy. The only other title on my radar right now is Mount and Blade: Bannerlord coming out of Early Access, which will be the trigger for me to play another round of that.

Posted in Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, EVE Online, iPhone, League of Legends, Mighty Party, Random, Steam Stuff, World of Warcraft | 4 Comments

Anno 1800 review

Anno 1800 wasn’t on my radar as it’s not available on Steam, but thanks to a Humble email and a sale, here we are. The game at it’s core is a city builder similar to Sim City or Cities: Skylines, and that core is really solid and fun. On top of that, Anno has a number of fun systems to give you both more to do and more purpose to what you are building.

The city building gameplay is what you would expect. You play residential buildings which house your people, and you build production chain buildings to make them happy. Residential buildings start at the farmer tier, and you can only upgrade that building to the worker tier once the farmers have the items that make them happy (access to a market, basic clothing, and fish to eat). Workers also have needs, as do artisans, engineers, and finally investors. Each tier has more needs, and those items have longer production chains. Things start simple early on, and scale up to get fairly complex. Its what you would expect from a city builder, and it works here.

Visually what is really cool is that as you control which residential buildings upgrade, you control which parts of your city look more and more advanced, and which parts retain that early farmer/worker look. Anno is a great looking game overall, and design decisions like this further help that.

The setting puts you on a map with a bunch of islands, and each island has a different selection of natural resource. As your people need more and more things, you will eventually run into a resource your starting island does not have. This means starting a new city on a different island, which means you build back up from the farmer tier, but with the benefit of having the technology unlocked and the ability to send resources between your cities via ships.

Speaking of ships, in addition to carrying resources between your cities, they can also trade items for money with other factions, visit ports to buy special items, and go on expeditions. The first expedition is to discover the New World, which once successful opens a completely new map with more islands, unique resources, and a different set of people and buildings. Ships can then sail between the Old and New world to trade and ferry goods. As you can tell, Anno goes from building one city up to managing a range of settlements, progressing each one up as you need to feed your starter city and its ever-increasing need for products.

There is also combat between ships and port defenses, a creative system of buildings like the town hall or workers guild that hold items that can buff certain buildings, diplomacy and trade between other factions, and more. If you enjoy city builders, this is one of the better I have played in years; highly recommended.

Posted in Random, Review | 1 Comment

Mighty Party Raid Overhaul Proposal

Raids would last 6 days (one day break between event changes and to collect rewards), with each round lasting 48 hours, for a total of 3 rounds each raid event.

Initial matchmaking would group 10 players based on total hero might of their 72 strongest heroes, plus double the might value of a player’s strongest pet. Players would create 9 lineups (9 x 8 heroes = 72 total) to be used during raids from their available heroes. Lineups can be changed at any time, but changes would only reflect in the next 48 hour period.

Players would then have one battle against the other 9 players in their group, selecting one of their 9 lineups. A lineup can only be used once, and the AI would select which lineup you face of the other player. The AI will also only select each lineup once. Auto-battle is disabled for these battles.

Scoring is based on the win/loss record of each player, tiebreaker going to the player with the lower total might value. The top 3 players move up, the middle 4 stay in that tier, and the bottom 3 move down. As each raid event has 3 48 hour periods, this would result in 5 brackets total, and the rewards should scale accordingly both for which tier you are in, and your place in that tier each round. The lowest place in a higher tier should give more rewards than the highest spot in a lower tier.

If the game is unable to fill a match with 10 players, it can start with fewer, adjusting the number of attacks accordingly. Matchmaking after each round should attempt to still match players according to total raid might, but picking only from players in that tier.

Nice-to-have: The ability to watch other players in your group attack in real-time, and/or the ability to rewatch matches.

Posted in Combat Systems, Mighty Party

League of Legends isn’t just a game

As previously mentioned, I’m back playing League of Legends a bit. This marks ten years of playing the game on and off, though if I had to guess it’s my most played game overall in that timeframe. It’s also the game I’d say is as close to perfect at what it does as any game out, and I don’t just mean gameplay, I mean the whole package is a master class in game design and business model in 2020. The fact that LoL is one of the most popular and profitable games out also means I’m not alone with that opinion. 

Beyond all of that however, LoL is also the blueprint for how a game can become a hobby and an eSport. It’s a hobby vs just a game because it’s something that has stayed relevant and current in those 10 years. It hasn’t really ‘aged’ by gaming standards; it looks, sounds, and plays as good or better as any modern game. At the same time, the core game IS the same as it was 10 years ago. 5v5 team-based PvP on basically the same map, with heroes having the same setup of 3 skills + ultimate, where you buy items and level up. This is why the eSport piece of it works; if you ever played LoL you can watch a match and know what is going on, and year after year familiar teams and players compete and grow their brand and the sport itself. In gaming circles Faker is the Michael Jordan of eSports, and in South Korea Faker is Michael Jordan in terms of celebrity status. 

Ten years ago I could not imagine a non-MMO staying relevant year after year. Back then we bought a game, played it, maybe returned for an expansion or some DLC, but for the most part you moved on. Today think about how many games are truly more of a service than just a game. Grand Theft Auto 5, Counter Strike, DoTA, PUBG, Rainbow 6, ARK, etc. I think LoL does this best, and I would not be the least bit surprised if in ten years, I’m still playing it, and it’s still a keystone of eSports. 

Posted in League of Legends | 1 Comment

July 16th gaming update

Blogging motivation at an all-time low, sorry. The odd thing is an idea pops into my head almost daily to write about, but then the words never hit digital paper. Here goes a bunch of unrelated gaming thoughts and updates. 

I’m still heavily playing Mighty Party. I’m now in the long-term grind phase, but since I like the core gameplay, that’s a good thing. A big update is expected by end of month, which should shake some thing up, and hopefully doesn’t break a ton of stuff. 

I’ve been playing Darkest Dungeon again, having picked up the two paid expansions when they were on sale recently. It’s still an excellent game, and the expansions nicely enhance it. I especially like the Crimson Court dungeon, which rather than a random layout, is just one giant map you slowly explore that saves your progress. My goal here is to actually beat the game, having never killed the final boss. I think the power creep from the expansions should make the possible now without extreme end-game grind. 

I’ve stopped playing Mount and Blade: Bannerlord after 80 hours not because its bad, but because I’ve played enough for now and want to give the game a nice break for when it comes out of early access. 

I’m back playing League of Legends. This will get its own post later, but here I’ll just saying it’s like coming ‘home’. Just a fun game with top-tier polish and support. 

Baldur’s Gate 3 is coming out in Early Access maybe in August. I’m very torn on jumping in right away as this might be a ‘play it once’ game, and I don’t want that first and most important time to be in a version that is far less than complete. On the other hand, maybe I play the EA version doing something I normally wouldn’t, like playing a full evil character, and seeing how it goes, so when the game is fully out, I can do my ‘normal’ playthough. 

Dwarf Fortress on Steam is still coming along, and still sounds like it might ruin a whole bunch of my gaming time. I have a weak spot for games like this, and if the graphic and UI updates help me dig into the million systems the game has going, it should be a blast. 

Finally the Battle Brother’s expansion is still at the top of my hype list. I’m just very, very ready for another go with that game. 

Posted in beta, iPhone, League of Legends, Mighty Party, Mount and Blade: Warband, Random, Site update | 7 Comments

Mighty Party tips

The basic event loop of Might Party is as follows: Special Event starts on a Friday, and runs for 5 days. The next weekend, the fable “High Growth” (HG) runs, which gives you gems for leveling up heroes. The next Friday another event starts, and so on. You want to save all hero level ups for HG, collect the gems, and then use the gems during the special event to hopefully get into chapter 3. 

Events are your best source of getting large amounts of legendary heroes, as well as unlocking new heroes for newer players, so doing well in them is the primary focus. For newer players, events are difficulty to reach chapter 3 as you will be missing many of the heroes, which means you won’t be able to quickly pass the steps that require either hero levels or soulbinds. This is ok, and you can’t do much about it until you play longer. That said spending gems helps, and using gems during events is usually very worthwhile, especially if you calculate that spending will get you into chapter 3. Getting into chapter 3 is huge because the amount of heroes you get out of event chests goes way up in chapter 3. This is especially true for the bonus chest spins, which you want to save until you hit chap 3 or the event is about to end. Finally, for newer players, make sure you at least unlock all of the epics for the event, even if that means spending sparks on epic chests during the “spend 15k sparks” step. 

Some event prep tips: Don’t run Dark Tower on the Wednesday and Thursday before the event; save it for during the event, as chapter 2 has a step for that. Also save up Pit bosses, there is a step to kill 2 of those. Save up normal and Mighty Pass chests to open during the event, both for steps that require getting a certain amount of heroes and because this will get you more sparks and more chances to find the event heroes at 2x gains. During an event the bosses refresh at the same time as Journey bosses; you want to be killing event bosses as many times as you can for the sparks. 

After an event, the next weekend will be High Growth. This is where saving up all your hero level ups becomes worthwhile, as you can earn thousands of gems. A few tips: if you have a pet, during HG is the best time to start a “Hunt”, as many of the steps require leveling heroes. Leveling heroes gets you a lot of XP, and each time you rank up, your journey attempts refresh. Make sure you are using all those attempts before ranking up again. If your journey is fully cleared, wait for it to reset before doing more leveling, you should have plenty of time as HG runs for a few days. Make sure you are running the guild boost for discounted level ups, it will save you a ton of gold. Once you complete a level of HG, reassess if you can hit the next tier. If you can’t, stop leveling up, there is nothing worse than running out of levels 3/4th of the way to a HG tier. 

Additional random tips: Don’t reborn a hero unless there is a fable running for that rebirth, and you can get that hero back up to high levels for events. Don’t soulbind heroes you aren’t using in your lineup until a fable to spend soul dust is running, or you need the soulbinds for an event. Feel free to do the free soulbind for commons, there is no drawback. The Pit is your best source of consistent legendary chests, but it scales to your highest league reached; you don’t want to go into higher leagues until you can safely beat the 5th Pit boss weekly. You DO want to reach league 14 to unlock the pit ASAP however, even if the final push to get into 14 requires you to boost your heroes and use some guild boosts. Even if you drop back out of 14, the Pit will stay unlocked. General Pit strategy is to use your commons first, then your rares, and finally your epics and legends on the harder bosses. If you run out of heroes you can’t do more Pit attempts, so on the earlier bosses sometimes it’s best to ‘skip’ a turn if you have enough on the field to kill them. Finally, outside of events, the best use for gems is to buy the Pirate skin, as its very strong early/mid game. After that you will want the Ogre, who is strongest late game, and then the rest of the skins as they are required for a step in events in Chapter 3. 

Join our discord for additional questions and to join our guild. 

Posted in Inquisition Clan, Mighty Party | 3 Comments

Quick gaming update

Lockdown life continues, ever so slowly.

On the gaming front I’m still playing a good amount of Mighty Party, as the Steam version is the perfect game to have running while you work from home, as it needs very little real attention, but things need clicking ever so often. Of course when I do have 5 minutes or so, I can always manually play a battle, which continues to be enjoyable.

I’m also still playing Bannerlord, which sees frequent patches that continue to improve it. It’s still Mount and Blade, so it’s still awesome, but already my mind wanders to the inevitable mods that will take a great game and make it truly special.

Finally after messing around with multiplayer Northgard for a bit, my buddy and I are testing out Ancestors Legacy. In short it plays like medieval Company of Heroes, which is a huge compliment. Sadly the online scene is pretty dead, and finding a game takes some time. I think perhaps bad marketing is to blame here, as the game itself is solid, so should have a larger playerbase.

Posted in Mount and Blade: Warband, Random

Mount and Blade: Bannerlord – Some additional thoughts on the game

Some more quick thoughts about Bannerlord:

I’ve been in a number of large (500v500) battles now, and can safely say they are far better than in Warband. The AI is smarter, the battlefields more varied, and the performance is already great. I’m sure all of this will continue to improve during Early Access, but even now these battles are awesome.

On a similar note, sieges are also much improved, in many of the same ways. The AI here does need some work (soldiers run past enemies to get to the location they want to reach), but again compared to Warband they are far more fun. One interesting note is that defending a castle isn’t a huge boost in strength; you can beat a slightly stronger army, but its not close to as difficult to take a castle as it was in Warband. I’d like to see defense boosted just a bit, especially making breaching the walls take a little longer. Right now ladders go up really quick, and then its just a melee on the walls.

Itemization is ok, but feels a little too easy to reach the best gear too quickly. You also progress from junk gear to the highest tier stuff too fast, with little room or reason to use the mid-tier items. That said, the feel of different weapons is very noticeable, and becoming a master with one item doesn’t instantly make you a master overall at combat, which I really like.

Finally, the game has had a patch fixing issues daily, which has been great. I have not had a technical issue after the first day, and none of the smaller issues have been enough to impact my enjoyment of the game.

Posted in Combat Systems, Mount and Blade: Warband | 6 Comments

Mount and Blade: Bannerlord – Early Access impressions

The below is based on roughly 12 hours of Bannerlord Early Access, much of it prior to the patch yesterday. In short, Bannerlord is a sequel to Warband; better graphics, newer engine, larger scope, but ultimately the same core game. If you liked Warband, I suspect you will like Bannerlord. If you hated Warband, first wtf is wrong with you? But second you likely still won’t love Bannerlord.

I mentioned the patch yesterday, because prior to that the game was crashing for me a good bit, which was getting very annoying. In a similar vein, Bannerlord is very much an Early Access title. The core stuff like combat, the overworld, and the overall ‘point’ of kingdoms fighting is there, but a lot of smaller stuff is either incomplete or not balanced.

I do love the graphics. The overworld is beautiful, and the character models are good-enough, which is important because this is a game where you can have 500+ characters, so if each one had a million polygons, performance would be terrible. And right now performance is solid; I’m getting 70 FPS or so with the graphics on high, and I’m guessing this will only improve as EA continues.

 One early highlight so far: I joined an existing army (collection of lords) and as part of that army we went around sacking enemy villages. As you aren’t the commander, you follow around the leader, so it was fun sitting back and watching them pick targets and sharing in the spoils, all while beating down the helpless villagers. The whole things was rather profitable, and culminated in my first large (200v200) battle, which looked and played great.

If you are dying for more Mount and Blade, get Bannerlord now, what is there is more than worth the cost of entry. If you can wait and don’t want to deal with a true Early Access title, maybe do that. Bannerlord is planned for a whole year of EA, just to give an idea of where the dev team things they are and where they want to end up.

Posted in Combat Systems, Mount and Blade: Warband, Steam Stuff

Mount and Blade: Bannerlord is finally here!

Exactly ten years after the release of Warband, the Bannerlord Early Access starts today. Expect some posts about it assuming I can stop playing it long enough to write something.

Posted in Mount and Blade: Warband, Steam Stuff | 4 Comments