Mirrorball

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Last night I spent a not insignificant amount of time playing Destiny 2 Warmind.  You will have to excuse the garbage screenshots but I was largely chilling on the sofa with my laptop and it runs the game at the potato resolution of 1366 x 768.  I say potato because scaling down to that from the 4K display I have upstairs is quite the adjustment.  It however allows me to be flexible where I am gaming, and last night allowed me to hang out with the mrs while still getting to do the thing I wanted to do.  I’ve had a bit of a falling out with Destiny 2 over the last few months and I am not entirely certain why.  It is just like after the release of Curse of Osiris I lost my forward momentum and stopped caring that I was no longer getting those engrams every day.  Based on the fact that I was the only person online in my clan for most of the night…  I am guessing everyone has had this same thing happen to them.

That said I was extremely interested in this expansion because it is the return of three things that I love in the Destiny universe…  The Hive, Rasputin, and Clovis Bray lore.  The last bit takes the form of our companion during this expansion Ana Bray…  a heir to House Bray and former golden age scientist turned guardian.  There is a rule among the guardians that they are not supposed to go digging into their past life before they died and were resurrected with the light, but when you are a Bray… this gets a lot harder knowing that so much golden age tech that remains was potentially created by your hands.  As a result you get the impression that Ana Bray is no longer a Vanguard member…  and not even a real guardian in the eyes of Zavala…  because she broke the rule and started digging into Bray tech when she first realized it recognized her and would respond to her commands.

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I am not far enough into the story to fully understand the other parts of the equation that I love…  The Hive and Rasputin.  The polar ice caps of Mars seem to hide a group of frozen hive that include several new troop types and modifications to the others as well.  There are now Knights that wield a shield making it extremely difficult to attack them, and versions of the Acolyte called Adherants that seem to snipe you with long beams of energy.  In addition there are more heavily armored versions of the Ogre, but this might just be one of the boss models for this expansion that gets used on ultra units.  The map area itself is a little bit bigger than Titan in scope…  which is somewhat disappointing but a significant step up from the tiny and repetitive Mercury.

What I enjoy the most so far is that it feels like this is as tightly packed with secrets as the Dreadnought was in The Taken King expansion.  I’ve already encountered a bunch of objects that say I need to have a specific item or buff to be able to interact with them, meaning there are secrets to be unlocked hidden out there much like the Skyburner Deployment Codes.  On the director map there is a note out to the side saying that I have found 0 or 45 Latent Memory locations, so this feels like something along the lines of the Calcified Fragments or SIVA Clusters of old.  This is the sort of stuff that Destiny 2 desperately needed, to give us a downtime activity to strive for in getting out and exploring the world.

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There are of course a bunch of cool items that came in with this expansion.  At one point I got to choose from three weapons…  one of which was essentially Uriel’s Gift minus high impact rounds but with Dragonfly…  so I had to take it.  I’ve not finished the main campaign and not hit level 30 yet so I am not super focused on gear at the moment.  That said I have picked up a bunch of cool items through the eververse doodads you get while leveling up.  My Ghost is now a floating mirror ball that I eventually colored neon green via a shader.  I’ve similarly picked up an exotic ship and an exotic speeder as well.  They seem to have tweaked these exotic shells a bit so that they have the same two perks….  the first being summons your mount faster and the second being universal elemental telemetry.  The last perk seems to now be some sort of a cache based perk for a given planet.  This mirror ball for example works on Nessus, which is handy since that happens to be the weekly zone.

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I have to say I really like the set of gear that you get through turning in tokens with Ana Bray, and I can already tell this is going to be something I try and collect in its entirety.  So far the story has been interesting, but I have a feeling that I am nearing the end of it…  and if that is the case it is also very very short.  Maybe there is more going on than I think there is… and maybe the boss I am just about to face is only the midpoint.  However it certain feels like it is pushing me towards a supposedly epic conclusion…  and the way the NPCs speak sounds in terms like we are doing this massive struggle…  when it feels like I only just arrived on the planet.  Reading a little blurb on Reddit just now confirms that I am in fact on the final quest…  so essentially there are five quests in a chain that had I not been dawdling probably could have completed in an hour and a half.

Granted I like the other parts of the game more than I do the story…  but it feels like a bit of a let down.  During Destiny 1 the justification they gave for the need to reboot the game and create Destiny 2…  was that the way D1 was build was particularly difficult to build content for.  They blamed the tools for the fact that we kept getting recycled areas instead of completely new maps and raids.  The problem is…  neither Curse of Osiris with its rampant recycling of the Infinite Forest and its tiny planetary area…   nor Warmind so far really prove that the sacrifice the players made was worth it.  I say sacrifice…  because in coming to Destiny 2 we gave up a lot of things that we still have not gotten back.  We were promised a better gaming experience and on some levels it is… but on other levels it is just a less interesting game.

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Ultimately I will be around for awhile because it did feel good last night to shoot things.  The new event type that they touted however was a bit of a let down as well…  given that it is mostly just another planetary event that involves hunting wave after wave of hive and doing some stuff to destroy crystals.  Sure it was fun but also I can see it will get pretty repetitive.  However it does fill that Archon’s Forge/Court of Oryx niche in giving something repeatable that can give decent rewards.  The protect the Warsat event type is back and I had missed it greatly.  I am not exactly sure how you can push that one into heroic mode, but I am sure it will involve something silly like blowing up one of the hive ships.  There is an open world version of the Hive Ritual event that seems really cool because I was so used to doing that in the one space it appeared on Titan.  All in all I was happy to be playing again…  but still a bit grumbly about how cool this game could have been.

Bad Magic

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Once again I did nonsense to finish out my weekly limited bounties in Monster Hunter World.  The problem is my currently play times seem to be diametrically opposed to the play times of my friends who are currently playing the game.  Most nights I start playing early in the evening… around 6 pm cst and am logging out around 9 pm when folks start to show up.  As a result I have gotten used to doing things is really silly ways involving a bunch of random players.  This weeks was weirdly harder than the 9 star quest in part because at the end of the day…  people will likely always be farming Xeno’jiiva for parts and that quest is really hard to fail.

The 8 Star quest however is more or less Nergigante, Vaal Hazak, Teostra, Kushala Daora, and Kirin.  All six of those have a pretty high threshold for failure so I feel like more often than not players are just doing them solo…  something that I weirdly don’t enjoy that much.  So instead I check the SoS Roulette and see what is available and ultimately managed to get all of them done with random players.  The easiest was weirdly enough Kirin…  which considering how big of a pain in the butt the tempered version was seemed like it would have been the hardest.  The most challenging is generally Nergigante because if you get players who legitimately need to fight him…  they are more often than not simply unprepared for how much harder he is going to hit them than what they are used to.

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The truth is I need to start farming Nergi for parts because there are several weapons I would love to be able to make that require copious amounts of bits.  Last night I managed to craft the first version of the Nergi Sword and Shield, because in truth that is probably the weapon I am most comfortable with if I don’t have my longsword.  I spent some time earlier in the week playing with Gun Lance because also as part of the weeklies I needed to kill a bunch of Fanged Wyvern…  which mean’t I could kill that green punching bag Great Jagras over and over.  I think its a weapon I could get used to with time, and I managed to pick up a couple of reasonable options during the Kulve Taroth event.  Still very much in love with this game and hoping they give us some more surprise events soon…  because I can sorta see an end to what I actually deeply want to be farming.

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The rest of my evening last night was spent poking around with my Fauxlgari Exploratic deck which is a tweaked version of Golgari Exploration…  one of the stock decks that come with MTG Arena.  It is not the most successful thing in the world for me, but I enjoy playing it and if it is not going my way pretty early on I concede out to move on to the next battle.  If everything goes as planned you end up with a few really powerful creatures that keep growing each round, combined with Lurking Chupacabra that you can use to start taking out critters on your opponents side.  It isn’t perfect and I am sure I should tune it some more.  Right now I feel like I am playing with way too much land because I have had moments where all I am drawing is land for way too many rounds in a row.  Regardless I find the whole experience of playing it enjoyable and I can lose hours just plinking away at other players.

I think that ultimately is going to the role MTG Arena plays for me…  just letting me play magic when I want to play it.  For whatever reason MTG Duels and the year branded Planeswalker games always felt really limited in the types of magic I wanted to play.  They were shadowboxed in on a specific number of sets and as a result it felt more limited than what we already have in Arena.  I like just sitting down and playing, regardless of the win condition.  Sure it gets frustrating when you go on a losing streak when you are one win away from being done for the day…  but even then the simple playing of cards makes me happy.  It is something I have missed more than I realized…  simply because I don’t have access to a lot of MTG players right now.  I play to have fun and my version of fun is not exactly drift compatible with the meta.  I enjoy bad magic.

Fail Drafting with Bel

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The first I learned this weekend are that the Quick Draft format in Magic the Gathering Arena is extremely enjoyable.  The second thing I learned this weekend…  is that I am pretty horrifically bad at drafting a set I didn’t spend much time playing at all.  The third thing I learned is that even if you suck at drafting… it is still a pretty reasonable way to pick up cards for doing other interesting things with.  If I am doing my math correctly…  I walked away with 45 cards that I picked out during the draft and at least 8 cards that I got from the pack that I won just from participating in the draft.  Especially if you are trying to work towards something in particular this seems like a very efficient spending of your gems.  Ultimately you are getting over 1200 gems worth of cards for 750 gems if you want to think of it in those terms when you are talking about total number of cards gained through the process.

Granted by drafting you are not putting any points towards your next vault opening and there is no chance of getting wildcards other than through any of the 8 card normal packs you win in the process.  I drafted a grand total of three times this weekend and failed miserably in all of them with the best I managed to do ending up with a 3 and 3 before finally washing out.  There was one where I did not manage to win a single match but even then I walked away with a handful of gems and all of the cards that I managed to draft in the process.  The event however sadly ends in roughly three hours as of the time of making this post.  I am hoping that they might do this as a weekly thing and offer up a new set each week for drafting.  Surely they have enough information on Ixalan to make this work, or it would be a truly great way to introduce Kaladesh as they have already stated they are going to soon.

Ultimately Arena scratches the Magic itch for me especially if I can ever get reasonable at formats like Draft and be able to craft decent decks.  A large part of the issue I have is that I am not really playing a lot of magic, and have been more of a collector for the last several years than someone who actually sits down and plays on a regular basis.  I am trying to stoke a bit of a Magic culture at work, but it is really difficult for me to find a time or a place to sit down and play.  Sure there are shops I could go to Friday Night Magic at…  but I don’t even have a deck that I would feel really comfortable playing in such a location because it feels like I have been out of the game so long.  There was a time where I could look at a card and immediately think of all of the possible combos for it…  and that time has passed.  Largely I need to build back up that muscle memory and the only viable way for me to do it… is by playing lots and lots of Arena.  On the positive side…  each time I sit down to play it I seem to get completely engrossed in the game and completely lose track of how many matches I have ended up playing.

Watch Fail Drafting Hour of Devastation with Belghast! from Belghast on www.twitch.tv

If you are curious and want to see me fail-drafting you can check out the VOD over on Twitch as I streamed most of it.  I accidentally cut off towards the end…  but I had honestly forgot I was streaming at that point so you are not getting much in the way of commentary as the progression continued on.  Chestnut hung out with me for a bit but that was really the only person I had in the stream and even then I think she was mostly afk cleaning house as she said.  When I don’t have people interacting with me I sometimes forget I am actually streaming and you end up with me falling back into silence.  Anyways… if you want to see what the format is all about you can at least watch how the draft part works at the beginning.  I need to sort out why none of the music I had playing was coming through on the stream.  If you want to see someone significantly better at drafting…  you should also check out Kodra who was my inspiration to stream the draft (because he did it earlier in the day).

Watch Magic the Gathering: ARENA from Kodra22 on www.twitch.tv

Rudderless

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Last night was largely spent cleaning up quests that I have had in my log for a long while over in Monster Hunter World.  Since the Kulve event is over…  I feel like I don’t have as much of a pressing goal as I previously did.  I could of course just farm things like Nergigante for parts that I need to make awesome weapons, but the Kulve event sorta robbed me of a bit of the drive there.  Apart from the bow… I have a reasonable weapon option of every type right now.  Sure there are things I want to make but the need isn’t there in the same way that it once was given that I have a box full of decent options.  At this point I am hunter rank 70 and the meter is climbing extremely slowly on doing normal stuff.  In theory I should be engaging in a bunch of tempered fights but I really don’t like soloing in Monster Hunter World that much, and I also didn’t much feel like SOS Roulette last night…  so was stuck just wandering around and knocking out things that have been sitting in my log for awhile.

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Monster Hunter World has more or less become my MMO of choice right now, and as a result it is making every other MMO feel really weird to play.  I’ve largely been checked out of Final Fantasy XIV for awhile now, and the Battle for Azeroth changes are making me not that keen on World of Warcraft.  I have the desire to play Elder Scrolls Online…  but I find myself lacking the focus since that is a game that requires all of my attention.  I realize this is an odd thing to say given that Monster Hunter World is way more reactionary than ESO is…  but I also have to play MHW upstairs and with Elder Scrolls I can chill out downstairs with the laptop while watching television.  I find my mind wandering or paying too close attention to something that is on television and end up in a horrible spot in Tamriel.  The other game that is sorta calling my name at this very moment is Star Wars the Old Republic because I really would love to play through the rest of the content I have missed.  I have not done any of Knights of the Eternal Throne, in fact the first quest of that expansion is sitting waiting there on my Jedi Knight for me to pick up and start playing.

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Lately I have been trying to ease my way back into Destiny 2 given that the new expansion lands on Tuesday.  The moment to moment PVE gameplay is still every bit as fun as it ever was…  but my current problem with this game is actually a silly one.  I have been out of inventory space for a very long time and the pain of having to juggle items between characters or dismantle things immediately upon getting them wears me out.  When I have an MMO and my bags are a mess or I am lacking enough bag space in general… I find myself extremely demotivated to play it.  This is in part what is going wrong with Project Gorgon at this very moment…  I have next to no bag space and as a result I am constantly having to play the inventory management game which is the exact opposite of fun.  The expansion is adding another 100 slots and supposedly some of the kiosks we used to have back in Destiny 1 so we will see how this improves my opinion of the game by not having to care quite so closely about what was in each inventory slot.  In theory I would love to push my Warlock and Hunter through Curse of Osiris…  because that is a sign of just how hard I stalled out on this game.  The expansion landed and I only managed to get one character through before legitimately giving up and moving on to other things.

I’m in a really weird space with gaming in general right now and it seems like I spend more time getting ready to play a game… than actually sitting down and playing a game.  There is an intangible wanderlust that has effected me and I am not sure what the cure is.  It is almost as though I am too stressed on a daily basis to actually sit down and enjoy the things I am supposed to enjoy.  I’ve been through these periods in the past and sadly it has also cut off any desire I had to stream or be engaged with other people in any way.  It has been a rough several weeks and I have a feeling that at some point it has to let up… and the clouds will part once more and I will feel like a human being.  Apologies to anyone who is attempting to interact with me right now because I am sure the experience is lacking.

More Things Going Wrong

Today I have a riveting tale from our long running compendium of things not going as planned, soon to be made into a major motion picture.  The sequence of events that I was expecting yesterday was to go to work and then around noon head home to wait for the air conditioning folks to come service our unit.  When we upgraded to the nonsense thing as tall as I am… one of its quirks is that instead of a small filter it has a mega HEPA filter and a light that is supposed to kill bacteria as it circulates through.  This apparatus is supposed to be replaced every year, but for the last three visits they have not had the correct part on the truck so we are going on two years with the same bits.  I made certain that I asked ahead this time when we scheduled the maintenance that they bring the correct part so that it could be changed.  In theory the serviceman was supposed to arrive around 1 pm and my thought was originally that I could have a relaxing afternoon as soon as he left.

What actually happened was that the guy showed up between 2 and 2:30 and immediately stated that he did not have the correct parts because for whatever reason they had us down with the wrong unit in their system.  He called around to try and get one of the other trucks to bring him a filter…  and when that failed he decided to do all of the bits he could do without the filter and then would have to go back to the shop and get it himself.  I had every indication that this was a thing he was going to do when he left my home and come right back to finish the job.  So I attempted to patiently wait…  and not really get into anything I could not drop immediately if the doorbell were to ring.

It was around 5:30 that I called into the business who stated that he was still scheduled to finish the job, but that he had gotten diverted to another site temporarily.  They assured me that we were next on the list and that he would be there shortly.  When my wife got home around 7:30 she was also perturbed and called in again after two hours had passed since the previous call.  She got the after hours on call service, and someone got back to us extremely quickly…  at that time they seemed to have no clue what was going on.  It was around 8:45 that he finally showed up with this nonsense filter and uv light in hand…  wrapped up the job and paid.

The problem with all of this is the fact that I felt like I couldn’t actually do anything because I had to be available for someone to swing by and deal with our stuff.  So what could have been a leisurely afternoon of gaming silliness turned into an anxiety riddled one where I was afraid to put on my headphones for fear I would miss the knocking on my door.  Hell there was an interlude in there where I ordered a pizza but was too afraid to actually sit down and eat for fear the guy would show up while I was attempting to chow down.  I am annoyed with the service company because I expected more from them.  Usually their estimates are pretty accurate for when someone will be showing up, but the whole not having this part on the trucks is frustrating.  If you are actively selling this system then you should be actively prepared to support it.

Anyways…  so you my readers get another “non-post” because I didn’t really get to sit down and do anything involved until around 9 pm last night…  at which time I logged into Monster Hunter World and got one more Kulve run in before we say farewell to that event for an unknown period of time.  I managed to get another orange Hammer and another purple Light Bowgun…  but even then I was more than happy to say goodbye knowing how much I have managed to get from it.  Still kinda annoyed that I never got a decent bow from the event, which only means that I now need to research what bow to craft so I can fill that gap in myself.

Too Soon

I really do not have a lot to say this morning because I did next to zero gaming last night, nor do I really have a huge back log of topics that I feel like I need to talk about.  Instead of gaming I saw Avengers Infinity War and I have plenty of words to say about that.  However I also feel like maybe it is just too damned soon to really be digging into that movie as of yet.  When there is a huge spoiler laden experience out in the wild I try really hard not to be part of ruining someone else’s experience.  I used to be one of those folks that thought so long as you were quiet during opening weekend you were perfectly fine.

Then life happened and I have turned into one of those people who so very rarely actually goes to see a film on opening weekend.  Like as it stands right now the only absolutely guaranteed movies for me are the Star Wars films.  Even then I largely feel like I am going only to insulate myself from any possibility of having the experience completely ruined.  The truth is I don’t much enjoy the theater experience because above all I don’t like having to deal with the people. I also don’t like having to deal with either paying a lot more for a ticket to get reserved seating…  or getting there a massive amount of time ahead of the film just to sit there twiddling my fingers while someone makes bad jokes and shows me advertisements.

In my perfect world I would be able to stream a film on opening night in the comfort of my own living room and much like the “millennials” supposedly killing things like diamonds…  I would love for them to kill the theater going experience.  Then again I also sorta want to just pay one licencing fee and have access to whatever I choose to consume at any given moment.  I also would love to stop having to pay the ESPN tax to get the other channels I want in a cable package… but now I am just talking nonsense and mentioning a bunch of shit that won’t actually happen.  The movie industry is predicated on the concept of a limited experience and making all of its money in a very short up front burst to fund the next project, and the theaters are the drug pushers distributing the product for them.  It will take a thermonuclear shift to dislodge that bond, but I think it is also something that is going to happen inevitably.

With Infinity War I would love to be cool and quote Morgan from Walking Dead and say “It is not gonna work out how you think”…  but it might…  I honestly don’t know.  There are a lot of theories that have circulated around, some of them are more right than others.  Additionally I think it all depends on your ability to cherry pick things from the comic book source material.  If you read comics heavily back during the early 90s you have very specific expectations as to what is going to happen.  As someone who did this thing… I went into it with a lot of thoughts on my own and while some things did in fact play out just like my expectations…  there was an awful lot that didn’t.

In the grand scheme of things it was a good film and a film that needed to happen to make this long slide to this moment make any sense at all.  I highly suggest you check it out and get to the theater before major plot points are spoiled.  What has annoyed me the most however is the flood of YouTube videos  that were up and available by Friday night…  that were so blissful to dig into the minutiae of every single bit of the film.  I realize they are trying to get that early money from people exiting the theater and feeling they need to talk about it… but can’t talk about it with anyone.  However even the titles of said videos and thumbnails are often spoilers in themselves.  I can at least go into a huddle room at work now and talk to the folks at work who have been dying to talk about the events.

 

Red and Gold

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One of my favorite aspects of Monster Hunter World has been the constant revolving door of limited time events.  It seems like at some point we will run out of brand new ones, and that they will begin cycling through the past happenings…  but for right now it seems like every time I turn around there is something brand new and shiny to interact with.  Starting on April 27th we got the Code Red event which involves fighting four “red” monsters in the standard arena, one after another.  So you have to work your way through Anjanath, Odogoron, Rathalos and then finally the Elder Dragon Teostra.  Doing this gives you a special currency that looks like a monster gem called a Red Orb.  Collecting seven of these and a slew of parts from all of the monsters included in the quest allows you to craft a set of rank 8 gear patterned off of Dante from Devil May Cry.

What makes this set really interesting is unlike past offerings…  this is not a complete suit but instead individual pieces allowing for some interesting Mixed Build options.  For the unindoctrinated…  armor pieces have specific stats on them and by mixing and matching them you can often times come up with really interesting builds that benefit specific weapons.  The boots for example have two levels of weakness exploit which I can see very easily mixing into other sets to achieve the desired affinity boost while hitting weak areas.  The other special thing about this event is the fact that we get a brand new Charge Blade that is themed after Devil May Cry as well and starts out Rank 8 without any need to do a follow on upgrade quest.  Instead of a sword and shield… it is a short sword with a run that serves as the shield…  that then turns into a giant two handed sword giving it a very unique appearance and feel while using.  A good chunk of my last week and some change has been spent collecting bits for this set and weapon… and last night I finally managed to craft the final piece when Teostra dropped that last piece of webbing.

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The other big thing I have been participating in is the Kulve Taroth “raid” quest that drops materials to create a really awesome set of armor that you can see me wearing in the above image.  Other than that it is also a chance for a lot of really interesting semi-random weapon drops.  During the course of the runs that I have participated in I have managed to get a purple or better weapon for every slot other than bow…  which seem to be extremely stingy for some reason.  I had enough blue weapons that when I sold them all last night I jumped from 10,000 zenny to just shy of 300,000 zenny.  The keepers have been 9 orange rank 8 weapons and 23 purple rank 7 weapons.  Like I have talked about before the real benefit of this quest is it gives you a stable of usable weapons that allows you to branch out a bit.  Like I have a decent Hunting Horn now…  why not try it out and learn to use it?

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Among the weapon drops I have gotten one of the more interesting ones is this Rank 8 longsword with 330 paralysis on it.  If a monster is at all susceptible to this status effect… it seems to proc quite often.  I was clearing out some of my quests last night and took out a Lavasioth and during the short time it took me to lower it to skull territory and trap it… I managed to proc paralysis four times.  While these weapons won’t likely ever outdo a truly tuned weapon… because they are spending some item budget on defense…  I like them as well rounded general use options that I didn’t have to spend a lot of materials to create.  The Kulve Taroth quest goes away May 5th and the Dante quest goes away on May 10th.  I am curious to see what replaces each of them which I guess we will start to see late in the evening on Wednesday?  The content release schedule is odd and ends up with some things releasing Wednesday night and others releasing Thursday night.  I want to get some more farming in of Kulve tonight for more attempts at shiny gold weapons, but in the grand scheme of things I am pretty happy with the progress I managed to make.

 

 

Blurry Cats

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I’m somewhat all over the place this morning and struggling to get started, so in the meantime here is a picture of a confused cat.  This is Kenzie, she is my real life palico and “helps” me do lots of things…  including fetching me rubber bands and string that I didn’t even know I needed.  She then wants me to throw the string or rubber band so she can find it again and prove how good of a Palico helper she is.  She is trying to show how much better the real version is than the in Monster Hunter World version.  She also largely looks like this every time I take a photo because it is like she has never seen my phone before.

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I guess this is an upgrade from the ferret who won’t stop wiggling and then yawns…  so that every photo looks like she is about to bite me.  Example in the photo above…  I promise she did not just bite me after the photo was taken.  In fact the most aggressive thing she ever does is lick my hand and she is a lovable wiggly fluffball.  I wrote on twitter the other day that I am consistently jealous of people who can take good photos of their pets.  Ours seem to exist in two states…  asleep or shapeless blur.  By the moment I get my phone out, unlock it with my thumbprint and open the camera app…  the moment of adorableness that was just happening is always over.  What you end up seeing are the hollow after moments of what was a really cute photo ruined by the fact that my pets do not understand photography.

They are however great at sleeping on me or around me.  Like right this very moment Kenzie is laying on my headphones because apparently that is a comfortable thing to do…  just sort of drape your body over an awkwardly shaped object.  Basically she likes being near me at all times when possible and meows incessantly the moment I lock her out of the bathroom to take a shower.  Similarly when I record a podcast on Saturday nights she gets really confused that she cannot also be in the room… and if you have ever tuned into one of my streams you have probably hear her talking to me or me talking to her.  The thing is… I have several blankets on my desk for the cats to lay on… but more often than not she is just going to lay on a controller or something else that cannot possibly feel comfortable.

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Since this has apparently turned into a post where I just sit here talking about pets.  This is Allie, she is our old lady and mostly just wants to lay on things.  The majority of the time she is either laying on the blanket I keep on my recliner end of the sectional or draped over top of me while I am sitting there using my laptop.  She is awesome in that she has figured out how to lay in such a way as to not obstruct my keyboard and mouse movement.  The only problem is when she is doing this thing I basically cannot type with my right hand.  When I am using a controller she has figured out how to basically cradle herself up against my beard as not to obstruct the use of said controller.  She is a great girl but is starting to show the signs of age and ultimately we are just going to love on her as long as we have her.  Once again…  the moment I took this shot she moved slightly causing it to be a little out of focus.

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Then we have Mollie our youngest and most blurry cat.  I took like six shots in rapid succession and this is the least blurry of them all.  She had a rough start of her life and as far as I can tell she was found as a kitten in a parking lot and taken directly to a primarily dog animal shelter.  So she lived there for like the first six months of her life having to content with the constant barking of puppers.  When we first got her she was insanely skittish and over time has improved…  but she also isn’t quite there yet.  For whatever reasons she seemed scared of me at first, but I largely chock this up to the fact that the lady running the shelter was about the same height and build as my wife and she maybe thought she looked “safe”.  Over time she has become my little shadow as I move around the house, hopping up on things and wanting attention.  However she bolts the moment she hears a loud and strange sound or sees Kenzie.  There are times though when kenzie is sleeping on the blanket on my wife’s end of the sofa…  and Mollie will sneak in and snuggle with me and those are the best times ever.

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Since this morphed into a pets post…  I figured I should also show off a picture of Shiloh when she is sleeping and adorably curled up in her toy box.  Ferrets love toys and she will drag them around the cage and shove them into the toybox or under blankets, though she rarely falls sleep in here.  I am guessing she was playing and got tuckered out.  Ferrets are sorta like windup toys in that they have all sorts of motion and action until they run out of charge… and then basically conk out wherever they happen to be at that moment.  As a result you will find your ferrets sleeping in all sorts of weird positions because they ran out of energy at exactly that moment.  There have been times I have woken up in the morning and Shiloh will be conked out halfway between the litter box and one of the beds…  because apparently she woke up just long enough to go potty and then ran out of steam again.  She has always been a sleepier girl than any of our other ferrets have been and when she is sleepy… she is REALLY sleepy.  Then again when she is active she is really active and wants to be picked up and subsequently tries to climb up my shirt.  The funniest thing is that she also plays with the cats… especially Mollie and she will wait at the side of the cage when she is near by.  Mollie also tries to pull on her blankets when she wants Shiloh to wake up and play…  so inevitably there will be a tuft of fleece blanket sticking out through the cage in the morning.

So those are my pets… I did not exactly intend on the post to take this trajectory but it is what happened.  I hope you have a great day and a great start of the week.

 

 

MTG Arena Economy

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Last night I spent a tiny bit of time in Magic the Gathering Arena because they unleashed the new Dominaria expansion.  The funny thing is the digital version of Magic got Dominaria long before I actually got the box that I ordered.  If you currently have access to Arena just the act of logging in gets you three packs, and once again remember these packs have 1 rare/mythic, 2 uncommon and 5 commons…  and or a combination of wildcards.  Wildcards as always can be traded in for any card you are missing of that rarity and they do not appear to be set dependent.  This means that more or less you seem to be able to bank them and then turn in a bunch of them any time you want to build a deck.

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The other thing that went in yesterday was the ability to spend money and buy the intermediary currency of Arena…  Gems.  There are two currencies in the game…  Gold that you earn by completing quests and such and Gems that you plunk down hard earned cash.  The prices range from $4.99 for the first pack of 750 gems making it roughly 150 gems per dollar all the way to 20,000 gems for $99.99 making that 200 gems per dollar spent.  The thing that concerns me the most at this point is the fact that MTG Arena is a beta and I have yet to actually find any place that talks about whether or not there will be a wipe before launch…  and if there is one if money spent will be refunded.  This is the biggest hurdle for me personally against spending any money at all…  because I would really like assurances that I would at least keep the value of that purchase even if I don’t keep the cards.

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Now we get into the prime thing you can buy with your gems…  packs of cards.  At the 45 and 90 pack range you get what was the Dominaria buy the box promo card…  making me think that they consider 45 packs to be the equivalent of a 36 pack Magic the Gathering Booster Box.  I did some nonsense via spreadsheet before I actually noticed that there is a post on the forums with pretty much all of the economy elements outlined.  As it stands the only scaling is on gem purchases…  where the more money you spend the more gems you wind up getting per dollar.  At the high end of buying 750 gem packs that places the price per pack at $1.33 and if you are buying on the low end at 20,000 gems the price per pack drops down to $1.  That means 45 packs would be $59.88 buying 600 gems at a time and $45.00 buying 20,000 gems at a time…  similarly the gigantic 90 pack bundle comes out to $119.76 and $89.99 respectively.

For an economy reference… Hearthstone buying in the smallest package ends up being $1.49 per pack and in the largest package $1.16 per pack…  for 3 fewer cards each pack.  The biggest problem with each and every gem pack is they do not exactly sync up with the dollar amounts meaning you are going to have a remainder of gems that are not really usable for the purpose of buying packs.  Contrasted again with Hearthstone there is no intermediary currency so you always know what you are getting per dollar spent regardless of some nonsense exchange rate.  My friend Toadchild also did some math and figured out that the most efficient way to purchase cards if you wanted the maximum number of packs for your gems…  would be 1-45 card pack, 2-15 card packs and 4-6 card packs giving you a total of 99 packs for 19,800 gems.  This still gives you an annoying remainder of 200 gems though in the process.  If you are curious about the full range of nonsense here is the google sheet I was working things out in.

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Other than just the ability to purchase cards for cash…  they implemented the beginnings of a draft mode.  Quick Draft however is not the pod drafting you were expecting however and instead something significantly different.  Effectively when the event is going on you can enter the draft at will and be placed up against some AI that drafts with you.  This apparently gives you the ability to leave the screen and return to your matches later any time while the event is active.  The buy in is going to be 5000 gold or 750 gems… aka the $4.99 pack and rewards you a blend of cards and gems in prizes.  Essentially you keep anything you draft into your collection and have the possibility to win additional prizes if you get to 7 wins before you get to 3 losses.  Draft packs have the same distribution as tabletop giving you 1 rare/mythic, 3 uncommon and 10 commons making it a more familiar format for those who have drafted before.  The prize support breakout looks a little something like this…

  • 0 Wins: 50 gems, 1 to 3 eight-card boosters, and all the cards you drafted
  • 1 Win: 100 gems, 1 to 3 eight-card boosters, and all the cards you drafted
  • 2 Wins: 200 gems, 1 to 3 eight-card boosters, and all the cards you drafted
  • 3 Wins: 300 gems, 1 to 3 eight-card boosters, and all the cards you drafted
  • 4 Wins: 450 gems, 1 to 3 eight-card boosters, and all the cards you drafted
  • 5 Wins: 650 gems, 1 to 3 eight-card boosters, and all the cards you drafted
  • 6 Wins: 850 gems, 1 to 3 eight-card boosters, and all the cards you drafted
  • 7 Wins: 950 gems, 1 to 3 eight-card boosters, and all the cards you drafted

The boosters are all listed as a “Chance for Extra Boosters” but there really isn’t any particular information surrounding that…  maybe if you go 7 and 0 you get 3… or 7 and 2 you only get 1.  This isn’t really clarified that I saw.

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The other thing that went in is Quick Constructed which is effectively a tournament in a box allowing you to hop in and play in a competitive structure with prize support.  The buy in here is 500 gold or 95 gems and has significantly more meager rewards primarily allowing you to gamble your gold for the chance at winning your 7 and getting it doubled in the process with a few randomized cards in the process.  This would feel better were it not for the fact that they completely removed random card rewards at the end of winning a match, meaning this is now your way for getting that sort of thing.  I actually loved the whole get a random card after you win thing… because it sorta felt like an Ante card even though that concept is an element of a bygone era.  For those interested the prize support structure looks a little something like this…

  • 0 Wins: 100 gold and 3 individual Uncommon cards
  • 1 Win: 200 gold and 3 individual Uncommon cards
  • 2 Wins: 300 gold and 3 individual Uncommon cards
  • 3 Wins: 400 gold and 3 individual Uncommon cards
  • 4 Wins: 500 gold, 2 individual Uncommon cards, and 1 individual Rare card
  • 5 Wins: 600 gold, 2 individual Uncommon cards, and 1 individual Rare card
  • 6 Wins: 800 gold, 1 individual Uncommon card, and 2 individual Rare cards
  • 7 Wins: 1,000 gold, 1 individual Uncommon card, and 2 individual Rare cards

In a worst case scenario you spent 500 gold and got back 100 and 3 common cards.  In the best case scenario you spent 500 gold… doubled it and got back 2 rares and 1 common.  Unlike draft this is not an AI mode and you are playing against players.  They suggest that this is game mode primarily for players who have already completed their daily quests and are looking for a way to get more goodies.

All in all I am mostly happy with the economy of the game so far.  It seems rather reasonable especially if you contrast it with paper magic.  For your dollar you are getting way more value out of Magic the Gathering Arena both in the sheer number of rares and uncommon you get per dollar and the fact that wildcards exist.  Wildcards and stockpiling them seems to be a really good way to prepare for the oncoming release of a new expansion.  As it stands right now…  I could sit on my stash of mythic and rare wildcards and then the moment the next expansion releases buy everything outright that i need to make a deck work.  Cracking packs is always going to be fun for me personally, but for players who would rather just buy what they need… cracking packs becomes a way to get those much needed tokens to finish their custom “brew”.  The only concern I have is that since this mode seems so much more equitable to the player…  what will it ultimately do to the physical hobby?

[UPDATE]

I got a response back from Wizard of the Coast support and the plan is to return the spent gems to your account when it goes live.

 

The Pilot and The Meat Suit

It has been a weird few weeks for me.  One of the problems I have had over the years is that people tend to value me way more than they should.  This means that I often get pulled in to consult on things that I have absolutely nothing to do with.  When you factor in the shift to management…  this seems to have only gotten worse.  Sure I have an above average ability to troubleshoot software related problems and my borderline nefarious past makes me decent at working through potential system flaws.  I’ve always sorta been a jack of all trades and master of none, and it turns out as I have gotten further in my career that is actually a really handy survival skill.  It helps me understand how the pieces fit together and how the different roles click into place to make a whirring machine function.

The biggest problem there is I find it mentally exhausting to attempt to solve the problems of others, because I sorta have to pour myself into the situation and ask a bunch of “what would I do” type questions.  As a result last night I completely missed the Mythical Nonsense night.  I had a dinner that was made up of Jalapeno Chicken, Corn Dodgers and Potato Wedges (Charlie’s Chicken is so good)…  and largely crashed out on the sofa until a short time later when my wife was ready for bed…  and I followed her extremely willingly to a comatose wonderland.  I stayed there until roughly 5:10 this morning when my body decided that I needed to be up…  which is about 20 minutes before the alarm goes off.  So I sat there quietly petting the cats on the edge of the bed until the cacophony of beeping happened.

As you might be able to tell by now this is not exactly my normal post, because I really don’t have a lot of gaming information to talk about.  Instead you are getting something else that may or may not be weird and awkward.  For as long as I have remembered I have had this sort of feeling inside that I wasn’t real.  I am not exactly sure how to put it other than that, that I am not actually part of my own life.  When I get tired or stressed I find myself sorta going on auto pilot and then watching my life happen as though I were watching a movie.  I am detached and somewhere else just casually browsing what my meat puppet of a body is doing without me actually being resident in it.

The closest thing I can explain it as is though the me that everyone else interacts with is not actually really me.  Instead it is like the real me is someone piloting this flesh mech around and occasionally gets bored of doing so…  and instead retreats to just letting the AI take over.  Every so often things will shift back into focus and I will with startling realization notice that I am in fact real and I am in fact effected by whatever is going on.  This is always jarring when it happens no matter how many times I experience the shift in perspective.  It’s like something has tethered me back to my meat suit and forced me to actually interact with the world in first person again instead of the blissfully detached third person I was enjoying.

Now you could just say that I was letting my mind wander, but it has always felt more than that.  Its like for a bit the “me” inside of me took a break and wandered off because it got bored with whatever happened to be going on.  It is really frustrating when this happens during a conversation because then I sorta have to try really hard to catch up and “grok” whatever the hell was just being said because I know at some point someone is going to expect an answer that makes sense.  It is weird feeling like a spectator in your own life.  Like I said before… this was going to be an odd post from the start but it was the thing that was presently on my mind.