WoW Classic: We are playing on Stalagg (updated 8/17/19)

Reserving character names is open now, so it was time to pick a server. Initially we had a few different choices, but with queues being insane and a some servers being destinations for streamers or Brazilians, Grobbulus Stalagg ended up being the choice, alliance side.

So if you plan to join us, get a character created, join our discord, and wait around until the servers are up for good. Plans for the guild are somewhat tentative, but most likely we will be aiming for raiding once people hit 60 and get geared up. We won’t be aiming for server-firsts or anything like that, as the core we have is made up of adults with annoying things like kids, responsibilities, and in some rare cases social lives.

Edit: Updated 8/17/19, instead of Grobbulus we will be playing on Stalagg, a EST PvP server, still Alliance.

Posted in Inquisition Clan, Site update, World of Warcraft | 2 Comments

Fig investment in Pillars of Eternity 2 comes to a close

On August 2nd I got an email informing me that my Fig investment into Pillars of Eternity 2 is completed, and the end return is 52% (IE, for every $1000 invested, people only got back $520, so every share lost $480). Not great.

The investment is over because Microsoft bought out Obsidian (the devs) and the publishing rights to PoE2. For the rights to PoE2, Microsoft paid $315,000. This all suggests that PoE2 didn’t sell very well, and that Microsoft doesn’t foresee future sales being awesome either. Considering I made this post about PoE2 and Fig, yea, I’m a bit surprised at how poorly it all went (the money doesn’t matter because I’m still Darkfall rich, but it is a bit of an ego hit).

If I had to guess why, the #1 thing was the setting. A classic fantasy setting of castles, villages, etc, like what PoE1 had, is going to perform better most times than a high-seas/pirate setting. Personally I liked PoE2 a lot, but I can fully see why casual RPG fans might glance at it and decide to pass. Also while I thought PoE2 was good overall, it did have some controversial/questionable features, mainly the ship-to-ship combat. That’s a bad area to have people question in a pirate/sea themed RPG….

All of that said, the 52% return suggests PoE2 sold less than half of what PoE1 sold, which is pretty bad. As the linked post states, all PoE2 had to do was come close to PoE1 to be a good investment, and while the Microsoft buyout likely cuts some future return out, I doubt even without Microsoft that PoE2 would have ever broke even, regardless of how many years passed. It didn’t help that the DLC for PoE2 was, at best, very meh. Maybe the poor sales hurt the plans for the DLC, but it’s not that hard to release passable extra content for an RPG like this; just give it an additional ‘chapter’ after the ending, ala Baldur’s Gate 2.

So end my Fig investment. This failure doesn’t sour me on the whole platform, but it will now take a title that REALLY grabs my attention to get me to invest.

Posted in Random, Rant, Site update | 5 Comments

LoL TFT: Gold rank and beyond

Quick Team Fight Tactics progress update: I hit gold recently and am now in Gold 2, with the expectation of hitting Plat ‘soon’. I’m also still very much enjoying the game, as my ‘games played’ clearly shows.

As I mentioned before, it feels like the key skill to have as a player is being able to pivot or adapt to each game. Once you know all of the basics (which champ does what, item combinations, etc), the next big step is being able to identify what the game is giving you in that particular match, and putting all of the pieces together to form the best team you can with what you are given vs what others are building.

There is also a big risk management portion here. Certain combinations are game-winning if you hit them, but if you miss on any component, you are sunk. Is that the right approach to the game? It depends. If you take a big risk early and miss, finishing in 7th or 8th is crushing in terms of rank loss. That said, there is a lot to gain from finishing 1st vs 4th or so. Playing it ‘safe’ and aiming to finish 3rd or 4th will net you a positive rank gain, but not a big jump, and even then you always run the risk of missing 4th+ and losing points. Again, being able to quickly identify when to ‘roll the dice’ on a risky play is key, and those kinds of decisions pop up multiple times every match.

I’m getting more comfortable making those pivots now, at least in certain directions that feel more familiar to me than others. More playtime will lead to more comfort, which should lead to a higher rank.

Posted in League of Legends | 2 Comments

LoL TFT: Ranked mode is here, as others derp about

First, surprise surprise that the olds and the bads are playing the derpy inferior version of Auto-Battlers. Get gud nubs! Meet me in the REAL game if you have the balls!

Speaking of getting good, ranked queue is finally out in TFT, and I’ve been climbing my way up ever so slowly. I needed ranked play because without it, you don’t know if the strategic changes you are making are working or if you just happen to be matched up with derps for a few games. And with a game as new as TFT, the meta shifts have been swift so far, even between balance patches. Initially the go-to was to save up and leverage interest from having 50+ gold asap, but more recently being hyper-aggressive and winning early has dominated. Next week it might change again to something else.

Personally, for a minute I was on a hot streak focusing on a team of gunslingers and blademasters, who have a natural overlap with pirates. But with the popularity of assassin/ninja teams, along with glacial teams using Volly as a hypercarry, that hasn’t been working out too great unless I roll into the key champions early, and also get the key items to make it all work.

Realistically the way to improve is to become comfortable with changing up your strategy, and doing it fast. You SHOULDN’T go into a game aiming for a certain setup, but rather making the best of what the game gives you. Yet even identify WHAT the game is giving you can be tough, let alone changing things up based on what the game gives you and on what others are building. It’s a lot to compute in the short time between rounds, but that quick-thinking is part of what makes the game fun IMO.

Posted in Blogroll, League of Legends | 3 Comments

Pathfinder: Kingmaker review

I picked up Pathfinder: Kingmaker during the Steam summer sale, after having the game on my wishlist for a while. When it originally came out, I figured the game was a second tier “Baldurs Gate-like” game compared to games like Divinity: Original Sin 2, or Pillars of Eternity. I’m happy to report that in some ways, I think I like Kingmaker more than either title.

This is all based on about 20 hours with the game, so by no means a complete review. It’s also somewhat early in the kingdom management part of the game, which from reviews is a very hit or miss aspect depending on who you ask.

With that said, here is why I’m really enjoying Kingmaker; it feels like Baldur’s Gate 3 more than either D:OS2 or PoE. A lot of that is because the ruleset in Kingmaker is based on D&D, which is also what BG was based on. Stuff like armor class, the more traditional stats, what stats weapons have; its all very very D&D, and for me that is a major plus.

Another factor is that ‘zones’ are more similar to BG; not too big, with one or maybe a few set pieces each, yet all feeling like they belong to the same world. In D:OS2 especially, the ‘world’ felt like a series of themed levels (start in the island zone, go to the mountain zone, then the lava zone, finish in the city zone), and the world in PoE2 was a big ocean, which wasn’t bad, but not my ideal. In Kingmaker you move around in a world that just feels very traditional fantasy, and while for some that might be too boring or ‘samey’, for me when its done well, that’s exactly what I want.

I also actually like that not every piece of text is voice acted. I know this was likely done for budget reasons rather than a design decision, but saving voice acting for the important parts helps set the tone, and also decreases on the amount of time you sit back and watch the game rather than play it. Even reading text is more interactive than having it read to you, and in a game with SO MUCH TEXT like an RPG, that adds up. The voice acting itself is good in Kingmaker, especially the banter from party members as you adventure and make camp.

As mentioned above, combat is very similar to BG, in that it’s real-time with pause, and the AI handles your companions well-enough in most encounters. Boss fights can be tough, and you can certainly go to areas you shouldn’t be yet and get destroyed. There is a particularly fun cave with a dragon pretty close to the start, that basically one-shots you, which in a lot of ways makes sense; why in other games are all the dragons and demi-gods always at the end? Wouldn’t a dragon be just as likely to pick a cave near the middle of the map as on the edge?

The kingdom management part of the game (again only a bit into it) for me has been really fun. Its deeper than in a game like PoE where you select one thing, it happens, and you benefit. Here managing the kingdom becomes the driving force for the story, quests, and basically everything else, and is so focal that if you screw up the handling of the kingdom, you actually lose the game (there is an option to have the game auto-manage the kingdom, but that results in you missing a lot of content, as well as rewards).

Kingdom events come in over time, both in the form of problems (don’t handle it and bad stuff happens) and opportunities (handle it well and good stuff happens), which you assign characters to handle. Who you assign matters, both in their success chance and the result. There are also projects, which require more time but have higher rewards. These are tricky because committing a character to one means they won’t be available to help with problems/opportunities as they arise. There are also buildings to build, resources to secure on the world map, and new territories to expand into so you can build more villages/towns.

As you do all this, you gain/lose stat points related to your kingdom, which then loop back into success chance for events and other things. It’s somewhat complex, and you basically get thrown into the deep end fairly early into the game, but overall I think it’s a neat way to move the story forward, and gives the game a unique twist.

If you are in the market for a classic-feeling RPG, Pathfinder: Kingmaker is very good. A lot of early reviews talk about balance issue, but I believe today, with the “Enhanced” edition that has all the patches, most of those issues have been resolved. It also has never crashed for me, and things like loading times are fairly snappy on an SSD.

Posted in Review | 4 Comments

LoL: Teamfight Tactics is my new addiction

Riot recently released their version of an auto-battler game (the genre I believe started somewhat recently as a mod for DOTA2, called Autochess), and I have been playing it like crazy. It incredibly addicting, even in its early, still flawed state.

The basics: You pick champions (from LoL), each who has two characteristics (demon+blademaster, or noble+shapeshifter), aiming to build a complimentary team. That team then fights another player, but the key is that aside from starting positions on a hex grid, you don’t control the champs. They auto-battle (hence the name) until one team wins or time runs out. The losing player loses HP, you move to another round, and the last player standing is the winner. The whole thing takes about 40 minutes if you win, and of course less if you drop out quickly. Between rounds you earn gold that is used to buy more champs (three champs of the same type combine to increase in power, and this can happen twice)  or to level up, allowing you to put more champs on the battlefield. Some rounds are vs NPC creatures, which can drop items you can then equip on your champions.

The randomness of it all, from which champs+items you get, to who you face, to how the actual battles play out, is part of what has me addicted. I love trying to manage the chaos, to make the best of a bad draw. It’s the games where I have to scramble to make things work that I enjoy far more than when things go right and you just kinda roll to victory.

The game also has an interesting balance of randomness and skill, and I say interesting because I’m not sure yet just which way its balanced. Some games feel super random, but at the same time you do have a lot of control over other aspects, and making mistakes in those areas reflects heavily in combat. It’s almost like poker, where any one hand/game is pretty random, but over the long-term it’s a game where skill wins out and the randomness and luck only go so far.

It’s because of this that I can’t wait for ranked mode to be added. Right now its fun, but without the climb, every game is a random collection of players and you can’t tell if you are doing better/worse because of your actions or because of the competition.

At the top I mentioned the game is still flawed, and this is mostly around how much information it hides from you. You need a cheat sheet on your desk with champion and item info. You just need to know, via experience, the range of each champ, or how quickly they gain mana, or starting stats like hp or armor. I think in time, as the UI is improved, much of this will be clearer in-game, but right now you get tossed directly into the deep end.

But again, even in that deep end the game is incredibly fun, and I have full confidence it will only grow and improve. Expect this genre to be what the Battle Royale genre was a year or so ago; the hot new thing.

Posted in Combat Systems, League of Legends, Review

CoC: Thoughts on the new Legends league system

In Clash of Clans, how matchmaking works in Legend league (5000+ trophies) has been reworked. The reason for the rework was that matchmaking was taking a very, very long time (10+ min) to find a base for you to attack, which is far too long to sit around and do nothing with your mobile device.

Here is how it works: Now when you hit Legend league, instead of being able to search for bases to attack, you get assigned 8 bases daily, and you can only hit those 8. You also get attacked up to 8 times by other Legend players, but you no longer lose whatever loot they take. Additionally, loot is no longer determined by how much the other player has, but by the strength of your base (upgrade levels), meaning that every base you attack has at least 300k+ gold/elixir, 5k+ DE to loot. How many trophies you earn is also different, and now scales on how much damage you do vs how many trophies the base you are attacking has.

The result? Legend league has made CoC’s far more fun for me, for a few reasons.

First, removing the option to skip to another base solves the “what if the next base has more loot” dilemma, which is a big thing in the original matchmaking setup. This was especially true when matchmaking was slow; waiting 10 minutes only to find a base with basically no loot was terrible.

Second, staying in Legend league and climbing in trophies is now more about skill than time. With the hard limit of 8 attacks, and getting attacked up to 8 times daily, players can no longer game the system by staying online for long periods of time, or simply having more time per day to attack over and over to slowly climb. Now to climb, you actually have to perform well in your attacks, and build a base that does a good job defending. I do wish they would lower the limit to maybe 5 attacks per day, as 8 is a lot, especially if you have clan war attacks to do as well.

Finally, by removing the link between how much loot you have and how much you lose, this frees up base building a lot more. You don’t need to protect your storage anymore, while at the same time your attackers will still want to hit those storages to gain loot. This means you can set traps and lures around your storages, while when attacking you can be smart and try to bait out those traps. That kind of ‘cat and mouse’ gameplay is fun, and a huge improvement over the previous design/farming meta.

I honestly thing CoC would be a better game overall if this system was used in lower leagues. Maybe not at the absolute lowest, but limiting it just to legends seems almost like a waste. Hopefully if enough of the feedback is positive, SuperCell does expand it into more of the game.

Posted in Clash of Clans, Combat Systems