Mobile Matters

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For years I have said that I really did not think that gaming on my phone was really my “thing”.  It was a platform that I largely felt didn’t quite fit my lifestyle, because in part I felt like I either had access to PC and Consoles…  or simply didn’t have the ability to game period.  Recently however I have been eating the hell out of those words.  For the last week or so I have been getting used to a new phone, and at some point I will probably do a proper review of it.  Functionally I could not bring myself to spend $800 to $1000 on a new phone… and my Samsung Galaxy s5 had lots of problems.  This lead me to branch out and look into some other options… and I finally landed on the ZTE Axon 7 which is a very solid attempt at a Chinese flagship killer.  When I finally do a proper review I will get around to more about that, however suffice to say I am enjoying it.  There is a thing that happens with PC gamers…  when we get new hardware.  We go through this phase of installing everything that we have cared about in the past… and trying it out on the new setup to see what has and has not improved.  With this new phone being so much more powerful than my previous one…  I found myself going through this same routine and testing out things like the android Hearthstone client.  When I say the previous phone had issues…  it is because once upon a time I rooted my phone in an attempt to bypass the AT&T blockade against tethering/wifi hotspots on my current plan.  I still have one of those ancient grandfathered in iPhone unlimited plans…  and while they have raised the price there is no way in hell I am giving up $25 a month unlimited mobile data.

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While the S5 is technically no longer rooted, I seem to have tripped some anti-tamper seal of a sort on the phone and it fails the Google Safetynet test that app manufacturers have started incorporating into their apps.  This means that I was forced to stop playing Pokemon Go when they patched in this protection, and similarly have been unable to experience Fire Emblem Heroes, Mario Run or a whole slew of newer games that just do this check by default.  The biggest problem with me and phone gaming in the past however was the battery life, and the way that a few minutes of Final Fantasy Record Keeper could shave off 25% of my battery before I even realized.  With the new phone this seems to no longer be the issue that it once was… and either because the processor does not need to work nearly as hard…  or the fact that I have a 3250 mAh battery (instead of 2800 mAh) I can functionally play games and still use my phone for everything else that I want to.  As a result lately I have been heading to bed fairly early and then chilling out there and playing mobile games until sleep finally claims me.  Similarly while I am out and about I am starting to play a lot more Pokemon Go, but have not really gone out on catching jaunts like I did around the release a year ago.  I contemplated going out last night but it was still over 90 degrees outside after 9pm, so I figured I would leave that to a cooler evening.

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The games that have seemed to clamp down the hardest on my attention however are Fire Emblem Heroes…  which is a thoroughly charming tactics style combat game and of course Final Fantasy Record Keeper that I already played a significant amount of in the past.  This is the point where I admit that I have never actually played a Fire Emblem game in the past, and while I am sure the actual games are not terribly similar to this mobile title…  it does make me a hell of a lot more interested in them.  The premise is largely nonsense…  but it is the sort of nonsense that I find myself enjoying at the moment.  The biggest problem with these games is that I really have no clue what I am doing on a regular basis… and not even sure what the best way to do anything in game is.  I’ve been slowly working my way through the story in Fire Emblem, and in Record Keeper I noticed that they seemingly have gotten less sparing with handing you a bunch of characters.  I worked my way through most of a Final Fantasy XIV themed event dungeon… and picked up Yshtola, Minfilia, Yda, Papalymo, and Cid…  and started working my way through a similarly FFXII Zodiac Age themed one.  Much like in Pokemon Go… the excitement for me is in the collection of new characters and not so much in the leveling and battle.

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Lastly I have been slowly working my way through Final Fantasy V on the phone as an attempt to do things like play over my lunch break…  which admittedly has not actually happened yet.  I got completely wrecked last night by Garula, which means I am going to have to sort out a decent strategy for this one.  Of course I am not playing the game legitimately… and instead am doing the Four Job Fiesta…  which means I am attempting to take him down as a party of four Black Mages.  Its time to go figure out some strategery so I can get past him and get my next set of jobs.  I find the mobile FFV client a little wonky… and especially in mobiles where you need fine motor control…  that is not a thing the touchpad really gives you.  Getting through the poison plants at the top of the mountain was not really a thing…  so I simply opted to walk through a couple and take antidotes.  Regardless it works well enough for my needs and gives me a reasonable platform without really shackling me to a specific location for playing it.  I kinda hope we eventually get a version on the switch through either virtual console… or a release of this mobile port to it.  Whatever the case….  someone seems to have replaced me with a doppelganger that does not mind mobile gaming all the sudden.

 

Chain Run Dungeons

Worst Party Comp Ever

FFV_HorriblePartyTime Last night I was feeling more than a little out of it, or at least too out of it to actual do much of anything meaningful in Final Fantasy XIV.  So after finishing my hunt quest and randoming my way into an Aery dungeon group…  I opted to just log out for the night.  For a period of time I considered simply going to sleep… and this is honestly the option I should have taken.  The Four Job Fiesta is like a religion to my good friend Ashgar, and until the night before last I had not actually even registered for it officially.  So as I sat there swaddled in a comfy blanket on the very comfy sofa… I opted to dig the xbox controller out of the console beside me and officially start my fiesta.  The rest is history as I was up fairly late getting my start in the world.  In past Fiestas my party comp has not been terribly horrible… or at the very least I have bought my way to freedom using the Jobfair donation system.  This time however being I think my fourth year participating…  I am just going to let it ride.

So when the game assigned me monk for my Wind job…  I didn’t think much about it.  I figured that would be an easy beginning to the game.  When it gave me Berserker for my water job however…  I started to dread this decision I had made.  Then when I was assigned Beastmaster as my fire job… I realized this was going to be a really odd ride.  I figure the answer to my freedom will once again be out level the content, and I have already gotten a start on that notion as I just defeated the Library of Ancients at level 21 which is about five levels or so off the normal pace I believe.  Next time I play I will be going after my earth job.. and wondering if it will be salvation or another nail in the coffin on this horrible party.  Admittedly I have never actually used the Beastmaster but I always hated how fiddly Gau was in Final Fantasy VI and never actually used him as a result.  In theory this is going to be a return to that sort of thing, but I need to do some serious research on what all I need to do and when I need to do it, especially as I am just about to get an airship for the first time giving me a wider range of freedom to go off collecting abilities.

Chain Run Dungeons

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-23 21-11-03-54 In part the reason why I opted to log out last night instead of play is that I am sitting on a strange wall.  Right now I am about half way to level 57 and I have a bunch of options on how to get there.  I could go do all of the quests that I missed doing while skipping my way around the world and ignoring most of the side quests.  I am sure that Square has intended me to level using these, and the fact that I am largely ignoring them is completely breaking their content design.  I could always go join a FATE train somewhere, as this has always been a viable method of leveling especially now that so many people are doing it and there are almost always FATE groups in the party finder.  It seems that Northern Thanalan is once again an active hotbed of FATE running, and in theory this would even be good experience for a Heavensward character.  I am doing my daily hunts but they are honestly more for the currency provided and while they each provide a decent chunk of experience… there are far better and quicker ways to get it.

All of these are completely viable options, but I would far rather just run a bunch of dungeons.  The problem is that my preference will always be to run dungeons with the Greysky Armada folks.  Unfortunately they are either quiet about what they need for dungeons, or have not unlocked a given dungeon yet.  I’ve run a few groups a night for the last several nights, but if I am going to rely on dungeons as a means of leveling I am going to have to step out into the larger community and just start random queuing.  Now we get into the dilemma last night…  I could have tanked a run for the guild, but I did not have the presence of mind to do so with strangers.  Don’t get me wrong I love the FFXIV community, but dealing with anyone that I don’t already know inflicts a mental toll on me.  My default and original state is that of an introvert… and over the years I have forced myself to be more extroverted…  but doing so…  drains me.  Last night I was an energizer bunny that had wound down, but tonight hopefully I will begin chaining dungeons once more in order to get the last of my level so I can move forward in the story again and hopefully unlock dungeon four.

Unusually Trying Week

Not really sure why but this week has been a really rough one for some reason.  In part I think it is because at the start of the week I had to deal with the being alone, as my wife was once again travelling.  Thankfully only for a few days and as of Wednesday she should be home for the rest of the summer.  It just seems like everything has been stressing me out far more than it should.  I labored over the decision to go ahead and cancel the World of Warcraft account, just to keep it from auto renewing.  I have stressed over a dozen different small issues at work, and I have been stressed that I no longer have the ability to do everything in Final Fantasy XIV.  Right now I am a tank… and if the group already has one of those it means I have to sit out and watch from the bench as the group goes off and has fun.  I liked that I could work my way into any group and fill whatever slot they happened to need, because in truth…  running things with my guild is always the thing that I love to do the most.

The problem is that I will get there once again, but there is an almost insurmountable amount of leveling standing in the way.  I have this odd relationship with grinding… I enjoy it, but only when I don’t realize it is there.  If I am grinding towards a goal of some sort…  then I realize how much work is going to be needed to get to where I want to go… and simply start to shut down.  When I am just grinding as part of my default state of running around and attacking everything in sight… it becomes a happy and carefree place instead.  The problem being that right now I know the end goal… and for whatever reason I am having trouble compartmentalizing and ignoring the finish line.  I think I am just wired strangely… because so long as I don’t know where the finish line is I will keep pushing ahead blindly until I finally accomplish whatever it was that I wanted to accomplish.  However once I know where the boundaries are, and what it is going to take to get there…  the game changes and in a strange way goal setting de-motivates me.  So long as I am on this fun romp of discovery, life is grand…  but right now I need to somehow figure out how to ignore the goals and go back to playing everything for sheer enjoyment.

Ruins of Kel Voreth

One More Day

Tomorrow has a fairly significant sequence of events happening.  Firstly my wife is flying back into town from the first conference of the summer, and secondly she is doing so on my birthday.  Currently I care far more about the first part of that statement than the second.  These conferences are always rough especially when they straddle my birthday.  There have been times in the past when I was all alone for the occasion and it is really hard to keep from disconnecting from the world.  However tomorrow when I ding 38 I will have my wife back home, and I hope her trip is safe and expedient.  The flight back home from this event in past years has been riddled with downtime and layovers… and I hope she actually arrives on time this year.

As far as the birthday part of tomorrow, I really have no clue what I will be doing.  I took the day off from work mostly because she would be flying in and I would need to get to the airport and pick her up without really knowing an exact time based on past years experience.  I figure I will likely either play Wildstar or something on the PS4 while waiting.  Past that I have no real big plans, as I won’t likely get together with family until the weekend.  I always have a sort of contest to see which automated bot wishes me a happy birthday first.  So I am curious who will win that race this year.  Its funny when we live in a time when that is a “thing” and I take a perverse sense of pleasure in it.

I just hope that I will be breathing tomorrow.  For the last several days my allergies have been going haywire and this morning it finally hit my lungs.  I woke up today struggling to breathe, and am contemplating taking a breathing treatment.  If it stays too bad even after the treatment I am not sure if I will be able to go to work in this condition.  Having asthma and allergies is a blast…  and right now the cottonwood is blowing hard outside.  I wish I could find wherever the cottonwood tree is and remove it… because it seriously makes my life miserable every year.  However I guess were it not for the cottonwood… the would be something else to take its place in the making my life miserable department.

Buying Rapidfire

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As of yesterday morning I was sitting outside the Fire Powered Ship sequence that ultimately leads to the fire crystal.  I had been assigned the Geomancer for my fire job, and having had it in the past…  I knew I really wanted no part of it.  As a result I ended up using Gilgabot’s Job Fair to buy my way to freedom.  If you end up with an assignment that you really do not like for whatever reason, you can donate more money to charity to “buy” the class you really wanted.  As a result I ended up picking up the ranger for my fire crystal, though it might have been interesting to see what it would be like with a ninja instead.  The ranger gives me access to rapidfire, probably the most overpowered melee-friendly secondary ability in the game.  With the knight it will likely be an i-win button against a few of the later fights.

Last night I played through the Fire Powered Ship, collapsing Karnak Castle and the Ancient Library in rapid succession.  I continued on to Jachol and Cresent Island and now have officially gained my Ranger crystal.  Tonight I will play through the Ancient Desert which should be interesting to say the least.  Not sure if I will steam roll the sandworm or get steamrolled to be honest.  I would really like to get through Soul Cannon tonight if I can and pick up my earth crystal.  I went ahead and requested this yesterday when I picked up the fire crystal just so I would know whether or not I wanted to buy my way to freedom again.  I was given the Dragoon which honestly I am fine with.  I’ve always loved the dragoon in the Final Fantasy games that have had them, so actually looking forward to finishing with it.  Maybe it is that I have just recently played through this much of the game already during our draft game, but it seems like it is going so much faster for me.

Ruins of Kel Voreth

Belghast.140616.221241 Last night at some point during the night I had muted Teamspeak, and not realized it.  So while I had wondered why everyone was being quiet I didn’t really think much about it until Tam messaged me asking what I was up to.  I guess they were pulling together a dungeon run, and while I had considered going to sleep… I opted to stay and dps the run since Shandrah would be tanking.  I have to say the Wildstar dungeon experience is kinda amazing.  I know I have said this about other games, but Wildstar dungeons really do feel like World of Warcraft raids.  We would have likely wiped over and over were it not for the fact that Shanbot has been running the dungeons with pugs since she often plays during a west coast timeframe host often.  As a result she knew exactly what to do on each of the boss strategies, and we managed to make it through the instance without much in the way of wipes.

Belghast.140616.233202 As the dungeon went on the encounters ramped up significantly.  One of the things i liked was that there seemed to be a bit of randomness to the dungeon itself.  One of my friends mentioned that when they had been in the dungeon the quests they were given were completely different.  The final encounter was something that could only be described as “Bullet Hell MMO”.  As a fan of the Bullet Hell shooter, I found the encounter really interesting.  We wiped the first time because it had bugged out and we managed to get phases one and two happening at the same time.  Without this bug occurring the encounter was actually rather manageable.  I am honestly amazed that any pugs are able to get through this dungeon, let alone do so in a timely manner.  Now I find myself really looking forward to running it again.

Belghast.140616.235401 The big change for me last night was that I had literally just finished setting up a DPS build in my second slot.  I had been slogging through content since about level 20 as a full tank, and honestly I thought I might have an easier time dpsing my way through the encounters.  It was fortuitous that at that moment almost exactly, Tam got ahold of me to dps the dungeon.  Now I feel like I have both hotbars set up and ready to go if I need to do this again.  I really liked dpsing as an engineer and might have to install damage meters just to see if I am even vaguely close to the other dps in performance.  I feel like I am lagging behind, but maybe that is just because I am not used to doing it.  A lot of the engineer dps abilities are tightly targeted and it is hard trying to lay them down in a way that the mobs won’t move out of them until the effect fades.  I look forward to giving it another try another night… and increasing my performance.

Wildstar PVP

Tonight ZeliBeli has scheduled a PVP night in Wildstar, so I will be doing that along with some FF5.  If you are on Evindra Dominion you should totally check out the anook event if you are interested.  I have not even touched PVP so far in the game, so I look forward to getting my feet wet with friends.  As it stands right now, since tomorrow is my Birthday I do not have a Elder Scrolls Online night scheduled, because really I have no clue what tomorrow evening might bring.  Here is hoping that my wife is back home and that all of her flights were successful.  In the meantime, going to beat things up with the guildies in Walatiki Temple.

#Wildstar #FF5 #FourJobFiesta #RuinsofKelVoreth

The Devil’s Lair

Bad Decisions

VisualBoyAdvanceM 2014-06-16 06-08-24-229 I am still feeling pretty lousy from this allergy induced stupor, so last night I just was not really feeling Wildstar and interacting with other human beings.  I ended up logging out about 9:30 and attempting to lay down.  I hung out in bed for awhile snuggling with our cats but sleep just refused to take me.  So as a result I ended up getting back up and decided I would begin my four job fiesta run.  My intent was just to go through the process of backing up my savegame files from the previous draft run we were doing, and simply start the game going… maybe get to the first crystal.  Next thing I know it is midnight and I am moments away from getting the fire crystal.

Now however I am paying the price because I feel nice and groggy to add to my allergy induced stupor.  It is funny how a game you have played so many times can be so enthralling.  So far I am off to a pretty good start.  My first job was the Knight which lead to a really easy start to the game and me just being able to roll over the top of almost every encounter thanks to the power of “Two Handed”.  The second pick from Gilgobot was the Red Mage, which still worked okay since I did not have either the black or white mage in the first round.  Also the Red Mage can totally use a Two-Hander if equipped with that ability, so still pretty much rolling over the top of everything without having to cast any magic at all.

Since I am just a little ways from getting the fire crystal I went ahead and requested my fire job.  Now is when things start to fall apart.  I wound up with the Geomancer, which is one of my least favorite classes.  This means I do have a use for bells…  but I’ve always felt the geomancer was somewhat of a useless pick.  Basically I have a couple of options… I can either deal with it and struggle through or I can donate money to Four Job Fiesta to buy my way out of geomancer hell.  I have yet to decide what to do, and ultimately this is why I chose to request my job a little early so I could mull it over.  Basically I have to make a decision before I collect the fire job crystals with which way I am going to go.  I would have far rather had ninja or ranger, but then again I would have rather had mystic knight than red mage. but more than happy to roll with the punches there.

Destiny Group Play

Destiny First Look Alpha_20140615142316  Yesterday afternoon after I had finished editing the podcast and writing my morning blog post that almost turned into an afternoon one, I opted to do some Destiny with Tamrielo and Ashgar.  At this point Tam and I were both completely sold on the game, but Ash however was not really feeling the game.  While I was finishing up my blog post, Ash and tam ran through the first mission in good time and the three of us entered the “Explore Cosmodrome” map point which was a free roaming version of the Old Russia area you visit in the first static mission.  We wandered around out there for some time getting both Tam and I to level 7 and Ashgar to level 6.  The mobs we encountered ranged from level 2 near the entrance to the area, to level 4 in the instanced areas… and finally level 8 or 9 deep in the zone.

I had the forethought to set this up and stream while we ran around.  The interesting thing about the playstation party communication is that apparently it ONLY records my voice.  This leads for some odd one sided conversation going on as you watch the video.  After having a blast running around in a free form area, we decided to take it to the next level and do what is in essence  their first dungeon set in the same basic area.  I have to say the concept works… like the boss fights in Borderlands 2 were interesting, but they never really reminded me of the level of complexity found in an MMO boss fight.  Destiny seems to bridge that gap and provided us with a number of extremely challenging encounters.  The first one was a sort of “hold this spot” fight where we were flooded with really horrible things in the room with us.

The Devil’s Lair

Destiny First Look Alpha_20140615152929 The first encounter essentially involved setting off one of our ghosts to work on scanning an objective, while it does this we have to hold the position.  During this time we encountered a brand new mob type that we had not seen to that point called a “Stealth Vandal”.  These are the sniper type mobs but they spawn in stealthed and remain so until they actually strike.  Now their form of stealth is not truly hidden, but they blend in with the background “predator” like.  It took us several tries to get a feel for how the encounter worked and manage to place each of us strategically around the room.  Even after doing so it still involved a lot of running around chaotically looking for a safe bit of cover to attack from.  Every so often one of us would have to stay alive long enough for another one to spawn back in.  This becomes a crucial skill since when the last player dies… the entire team respawns back at the checkpoint and you have to redo the encounter from the start.

Destiny First Look Alpha_20140615155733 The second encounter was the one we had been waiting for.  Periodically when in the open world version of the zone these group encounters spawn in.  One of them is this insane walking tank that has a blast attack that you simply cannot hide from effectively.  If you are on the other side of the wall when it goes off, it will still very much one shot you.  The idea behind the encounter is that you have to take out a piece of leg armor, which causes it to fall down temporarily and expose a weak point behind the red cockpit looking shell.  You can only whittle down so much health during each one of these phases.  So the biggest problem we ran into during the fight is that we simply ran out of ammunition.  Every so often another drop ship lands, and periodically it spawns the little drones… all of which are decent sources of ammunition.  But this also forces one to make a suicidal run dangerously close to the walking tank to be able to gather it up effectively.

Destiny First Look Alpha_20140615155846 I wish I had thought to fire up the stream before going into the mission, because I swear we were fighting the tank for a good thirty minutes.  Once we got to the other side of it, things started to get super creepy.  You walk through an area littered with hundreds and hundreds of bones strewn everywhere.  I started to wonder if I accidentally teleported into a Doom game, but I have to say I am loving the atmosphere so far.  I really have no clue what exactly the “Fallen” are yet, but they seem to be some sort of incectoid baddies similar to the Prothean/Collectors from Mass Effect.  Honestly there can be parallels made between those two games in many ways, as the atmosphere often feels like you would imagine Mass Effect would feel if the Reapers came and decimated the planet.  So far I am hooked, and looking forward to getting to play more of it.  Right now we have managed to hit the cap allowed in this first alpha test, which sucks a bit because each of us have gear that will never be equippable as we cannot get higher than level 8.  That said it was a really good time, and I hope to play some of the other classes to see if I like them better.

Wildstar

My plan is tonight to play Wildstar, and work on finishing Auroria on my Engineer.  Right now I have reached a point where I am just tired of that zone and want to move on.  The southern area of the zone is extremely nasty, and I feel like I am almost underleveled to be able to complete it successfully.  I am wondering if I need to go back and finish some of the challenges that I didn’t quite make to see if I can finish off 22.  I am also considering making myself a secondary hotbar setup with non-tanky abilities to see how much more smoothly questing goes.  Right now my biggest problem is that it takes forever for me to kill anything, and while I can stay alive for a really long time… that time is not infinite.  I feel like I am high center right now on my engineer, so I need to do something to get back into the swing of playing it.

#Destiny #DevilsLair #FourJobFiesta #FinalFantasyV

Manifest Destiny

The Doldrum

Last Tuesday my wife flew off to her first conference of the year, and for the most part I had been unaffected by this.  Sure I’ve missed having her around, but during the work week my time is so metered that I barely notice that I exist, let alone another person.  However the first Saturday is always the day it really hits me.  It doesn’t help that we are struggling with record pollen counts and the cottonwood is blowing with a vengeance that means I cannot breathe at all… and feel generally shitty.  As a result I have completely fallen off the walking wagon, I am sure Monday I will get back into the swing of things, but the last several days I have walked a rather pitiful amount.

Right now I feel very lonely, and as a result have been forcing myself to hang out on Teamspeak as much as possible.  For the most part the whole dumping of mumble thing has gone relatively smoothly.  The folks I chat with on a nightly basis have just transitioned cleanly, leaving only a few stragglers on mumble.  I am looking forward to Wednesday when she flies back into town, and in the meantime I am trying to busy myself and surround myself with as many friends as possible.  My natural instinct is to “turtle” and pull my head up inside my shell, never to be heard from again.  But I know based on past experience that is exactly the wrong reaction to feeling a bit depressed.  I just have to get through a few more days for this current salvo.

Manifest Destiny

Destiny First Look Alpha_20140614185716 Literally within moments of posting yesterdays blog entry, I had a friend of mine hook me up with a Destiny alpha code.  I love our community so damned much, and I am not sure if this person wants to be named by name… but yeah thanks so much.  After a 6.9 gig download that went remarkably faster than I expected and next thing I knew I was logging in and creating a new character.  My instinct was to go human, but for whatever reason they do not have any facial hair options.  I cannot create a “proper” Belghast without a beard, so instead I choose to go their robot option called the Exo, which had some really slick configuration choices.  The other racial option was some sort of tank grown looking protohuman called an Awoken that seems to be based on vampires/ghosts/elves in appearance.  If you are familiar with Defiance, they feel a lot like the Castithans.

Destiny First Look Alpha_20140615113330 So this won’t be the only comparison I make the Defiance, because really so far Destiny feels like Defiance done better.  I feel like Defiance was an MMO with Shooter elements, whereas Destiny is a Shooter with MMO elements.  Subtle difference there, but being a really solid shooter first… and gear swapping mmo second seems to make all the difference in the world.  Defiance was a cool idea, but the moment to moment gameplay felt unexciting, because it lived halfway between two worlds.  Everything about the shooter elements of Destiny is solid, and while I fail miserably at playing console shooters… I was able to pick up the controls quickly and felt like I had more control that I normally do with a gamepad.  Right now I am somewhat hooked, and hope to get in and play with some friends and explore the ruins together.

I still do not know quite how to hook up a mic and get it working, but I streamed most of my gameplay yesterday to twitch and then dumped it to my youtube channel like I normally do.`  In the beginning I was super uncertain of the controls, but by the end of my play session I was starting to feel far more confident with aiming the dual analog sticks.  Destiny is a title that I went from mildly interested in, to really looking forward to the release.  I fully expect to pre-order this title and play it when it launches in September.  I chose to play the Titan which is the closest thing they have to a tank in the game.  I’ve you’ve played Mass Effect, it feels really similar to the paragon, in that you have a mix of ranged weapons with super powerful melee attacks.  I would like to see how this plays with a group, because I kept encountering things I definitely could not take by myself.  At this point I’ve beaten the first “on-rails” mission and opened up the more open world missions.  Look forward to playing this a lot more over the next months.

Dances with Orcs

WoWScrnShot_061514_115209 While I was piddling around and streaming things, I also spent a good chunk of yesterday playing Warlords of Draenor.  I figured since I have been granted the ability to play the Alpha, I should probably be testing it.  Also in a way I am playing it in memory of River, since he was so amped about being invited to the alpha.  The game is trying super hard to be modern and relevant, but under the covers it still feels like a ten year old game.  I am still working my way through the quests which have the added benefit of building my Garrison.  Yesterday I completed a sequence of quests to unlock the Alchemy Hut and in theory the ability to run alchemy crafting missions.  I have not however gotten enough Draenor era herbs of the right kind to be able to complete this.

WoWScrnShot_061514_115151 Something I am highly enjoying is the fact that while I am out in the world, I am constantly gathering new followers for my Garrison.  Some of them are even call backs to the TBC era Draenor.  If you are like me and completed the netherwing dailies to get those mounts, you will remember the fel orc that buzzes past the tower constantly…  Mulverick!!!!  Well one of the early quests involves rescuing him from an Ogre strong hold.  When you do he agrees to join your garrison as a follower.  While I spent most of my time playing alliance, I am really hoping when that content opens up that we see similar nostalgic references.  Ultimately that is going to be the hook for people if they can manage to wield it correctly.  Nostalgia is a pain, and even as jaded as I currently am about the experience… this game can still manage to hit me in the feels occasionally.

So while streaming yesterday, some random stranger in the channel suggested that I run the first instance… and while I had nothing better to do, I figured sure… what the hell.  So I joined a group in progress that had cleared to the first boss of Bloodmaul Slag Mines and apparently lost their tank.  It got off to a bit of a rocky start as as soon as I pulled the boss I disconnected from the server.  Warlords of Draenor is very much an alpha, and as such I have had more than my fair share of issues staying connected.  However once I got back in the run went relatively smoothly from that point on with zero deaths.  I still am not sure how I feel about the current state of Deathknight Tanking.  The rotation feels off with large empty spaces where I can really do nothing at all.  I am slowly moving things around, using soul reaper a lot more and using death siphon each time it is up… and things are starting to feel a bit better.  I will continue to test and see if I can hit on the magic feel good spot for the class, but in its current state… I am considering going back to warrior tanking.

AggroChat Talks E3 2014

This week we were without Kodra and Ashgar because of various real world commitments, so once again we grabbed Dallian and Tam and talked about the various things that happened during this years E3 show.  I have to say I thought this years show was strong enough that I actually went out and bought a playstation four at least in part to what I was seeing.  We talk about so many different things that it ends up being a bit more disjuncted than normal, but overall upon listening to it and editing all morning… I think it is a pretty strong show.  You can hear our take on what is coming down the pipe gamewise.  Right now the game I am looking forward to the most is No Man’s Sky, and we talk at length about it.  I would be curious to find out what you thought of this years showing as well.

Four Job Fiesta 2014

One last quick blurb… this years Four Job Fiesta is now open!  I have officially registered by not started.  It looks like this year I will be starting as a Knight, which should be pretty simple.  If you are interested at all in Final Fantasy… or better yet are interested in making money for a great charity… you should totally sign up and play along with us.  I will likely be streaming good chunks of my gameplay.  I am pretty much forced to play this because Ashgar holds a gun to our heads and makes us sign up each year.  We love him dearly and do not want to face his wrath.  But really it is a pretty fun time, and there is a lot of community spirit going on as folks complete the game.  Here is hoping I do not get stalled and actually finish this year.

#FFV #FourJobFiesta #AggroChat #WarlordsofDraenor #Destiny

Let There Be Rangers

Dabbling with Danger

ReaperCounter At work there are a bunch of us who have at one point or another played Magic: The Gathering.  I don’t play the game regularly, because I simply do not have the time to commit to going to a shop regularly to play.  However I still love playing the game, and it is wrapped up in so much nostalgia for me.  My first starter deck was from unlimited, and I dabbled a bit here and there through Arabian Nights, Antiquities, and started getting serious about the time revised came out.  I played super actively until the launch of Ice Age and then for one reason or another got out of it.  At that point I was really into the World of Darkness games, and was doing far more pen and paper than magic…  also I started college and seemed to have far less disposable money.

I flirted with the game again my Senior year, because there was this great culture at the local game shop.  I came in at the tail end of Mirage, played through Visions and was super involved with Weatherlight…  probably my favorite expansion to date.  When I left college I also left the community I liked hanging out with an playing magic regularly, so I stopped playing again.  Since then I have picked up the occasional pack of cards to see what was new, but never really got involved with the game again. That was until I found out that we had a bunch of former magic players at work, and I thought it would be awesome to foster a sort of lunchtime M:TG group.  Yesterday I got to break this awesome reaper miniature again, as I tutored my friend Rae through her first game of Magic.  This could end in madness, but my hopes is that we can just develop a casual magic culture to hang out and enjoy.

The Ancient Library

VisualBoyAdvanceM 2014-05-22 18-45-43-676 Last night while waiting on the pizza to arrive and Elder Scrolls Online to patch, I decided to attempt to play some more Final Fantasy 5.  I had a near mishap where I thought for a moment I had lost my saved game and had to revert back to a period of time when I was still in white mage hell.  However that was not the case, and I managed to restore back and get to where I should have been.  I kinda went crazy at one point and ground my way to 19… which means that in order to be safe for the Ancient Library I needed to be at least 21.  So most of the time waiting on the Pizza was spent grinding aimlessly trying to get the last two levels so I could start my quest proper.  You might ask why I need to be 21?

VisualBoyAdvanceM 2014-05-22 19-05-58-456 If you enter the Library of Ancients, there are various creatures that can cast the dreaded Level 5 Death spell.  This will target any character with a level that is a multiple of 5, aka ending in 5 or 0 and pretty much instant kill them.  This means in order to be safe you have to enter the library at something OTHER than that.  Now if you have a Blue Mage, you want to de-synchronize your party so that you have exactly one party member at a “5” level so you can learn it.  Both fortunately and unfortunately I do not have one so I just needed to be safe as I finished the library.  The above monster is Byblos the guardian of the library, and I found him pretty easy considering I had ground to a much higher level than you normally need for the encounter.  Most people natively get here around 15, so at 21 I was significantly higher.

Goodbye Ship, Hello Chocobo

VisualBoyAdvanceM 2014-05-22 20-25-15-748 Final Fantasy 5 is a story about destroying modes of transportation and then curiously finding a new one to replace them.  After the library you find new information that allows the fire-powered-ship to start moving again without the power of the fire crystal.  Unfortunately as you move to your next destination you encounter an earthquake and the fire-powered-ship gets sucked into a giant whirlpool.  Conveniently you just happen to be on an island that just happens to have a Black Chocobo Forest.  I know from lore that these are Black Chocobo, but I will be damned if this one is not pink…  so you pilot your Pink Chocobo around the world visiting all the destinations that you missed and picking up any gear or spells that you might need.

Let There Be Rangers

VisualBoyAdvanceM 2014-05-22 20-41-32-722 The big takeaway from the encounter with the Pink Chocobo, is that it had the last two fire crystal jobs stuck in its gullet.  One of which was the Ranger job that I had been waiting patiently for.  This means from this point out I must have a White Mage, Mystic Knight and Ranger in the party at all times.  I opted to shift Faris and Galuf to rangers in order to teach them the Rapid Fire ability as soon as I could.  Basically you enter a period where you can reach most of the world so it is a great time to finish up anything you left unfinished.  I headed up to Istory and went ahead and defeated Ramuh for example.  Since I do not have a summoner in my party, this was a completely optional step… but Ramuh is generally my favorite of the espers so I figured I would go ahead and fight him.

VisualBoyAdvanceM 2014-05-22 21-04-59-953 Once finished messing around the room I proceeded with opening the way to the Tower of Ruin.  The desert area is one of my least favorite, mostly because the sandworm fight is a pain in the butt.  Considering my party composition, it was not really technically difficult, just annoying in that the Sandworm jumps between one of three holes on the screen.  You don’t target the worm itself, but instead the hole it came out of, this means that more often than not you can target a hole and it might have moved before the attack lands.  With the white mage, I was able to heal through anything the worm could throw at me, and it was simply a matter of wearing it down.  Mostly this just meant that my rangers could not benefit from their !Aim ability, as it took way too long for it to actually resolve the damage.

Airship Go!

VisualBoyAdvanceM 2014-05-22 21-25-01-826 Once you complete the Tower of Ruin you get rewarded with access to the airship, and find out that your fire-powered-ship didn’t get destroyed, but instead fell into a chamber underneath crescent isle.  Now you have this really awesome base that you can launch either the fire-powered-ship or airship out of.  You end up faffing about running several mini missions all in the effort of trying to teach your airship how to flight higher to reach the earth shrine that has been elevated up into the air by the power of yet another crystal draining… and ultimately crystal destroying machine.  We are nearing the sequence of events that I hate each time I play this game.

VisualBoyAdvanceM 2014-05-22 21-56-13-507 The Earth Shrine is guarded by four missile launchers and the extremely frustrating boss Soul Cannon.  This is the point at which I stopped playing for the night.  I made an attempt at the missile launcher fights, and while I managed to get through one of them… I didn’t back out and save like I should have.  The big problem with the fights are the “rocket punch” attacks that cause your characters to go confused, and the Rocket Launcher that is an insanely nasty percentage based attack.  Thing is if I can get enough time to Spellblade, the Rocket Launchers drop fast but I seem to spend my entire time trying to heal up and un-confuse my party.  If I am struggling with the Rocket Launchers I have having trouble fathoming just how bad the Soul Cannon encounter will be.  I am thinking this might be time to grind again and get a level advantage.

VisualBoyAdvanceM 2014-05-22 21-53-29-154 Being 22 has allowed me to just steamroll the encounters leading up to this one, but that level gap has closed on me.  So I am thinking I will spend some time over the weekend watching TV and grinding away to build back up a buffer.  Additionally I would really like it if most of my characters had Rapidfire as an option for the Soul Cannon encounter.  I think I got through it during last years Four Job Fiesta by double casting lightning attacks, so if I can get two Mystic Knights with Rapidfire I might be able to do the same kind of trickery.  Spellblade is a super powerful ability, but it sucks in that it takes one turn to cast in which you essentially do nothing.  The Soul Cannon sequence is one of the big hurdles that most players get hung up on, so I don’t feel too bad that I am having to rethink my strategy before moving forward.  I am sure with the Black Mage/Red Mage combo Kodra was able to just absolutely destroy it.  What I really need is a bunch of Ribbons, but I think at this point in the game I only have access to the one I have.

#FF5 #FinalFantasy #MagicTheGathering #MTG

FF5 Draft: White Mage Hell

Today I am swapping things up a bit with my Steampowered Sunday post.  Originally the goal of this column was to force myself to play some games that were sitting in my steam backlog… which is huge.  However over time this has mutated a bit into “bel plays a game and reviews it”.  Today we are going to see some further mutation of this as I write about some madness that I allowed myself to get involved with along with my Aggrochat podcast co-hosts Kodra and Ashgar as well as occasional fill-in host Tam.  For some time Ashgar has participated in the Four Job Fiesta charity event that now helps out the Child’s Play charity.  The goal of this is to play through the epic game Final Fantasy 5 using a fixed set of jobs.

VisualBoyAdvanceM 2014-05-18 11-06-24-150 For those not familiar with Final Fantasy 5, it was a 16 bit era title that allowed you to choose what classes a fixed set of 4 characters would be by assigning them jobs.  While in the job they gained abilities that could then carry over into other jobs.  This became a min-maxers dream as you could make some extremely broken combinations.  As a result for years players have done various wierd combinations of this game for fun, and the Four Job Fiesta capitalized on this and turned it into a grand charity event.  For awhile Ash has wanted to do an internal draft of this game, where four of us get together and draft out a viable party made of of the different available jobs.  As a result each player has to make some compromises to determine what they want to go after first.

To facilitate this Ash decided to set up a card deck game using the amazing Google hangout app Roll 20.  He laid out the various sprites for the characters in rows representing the Wind Crystal, Water Crystal, Fire Crystal and Earth Crystal… adding the Freelancer as an optional job for the Earth Crystal given that specific one only has four options.  So again for those not as deeply familiar with the title as it seems to be among our little circle of mumble users…  the setup looks something like this.

The Job Options

Wind Crystal

  • Knight
  • Monk
  • Thief
  • Black Mage
  • White Mage
  • Blue Mage

Water Crystal

  • Red Mage
  • Time Mage
  • Summoner
  • Beserker
  • Mystic Knight
  • Mime

Fire Crystal

  • Beastmaster
  • Geomancer
  • Ninja
  • Ranger
  • Bard

Earth Crystal

  • Dragoon
  • Dancer
  • Samurai
  • Chemist
  • Freelancer

The Draft

The rules of the game that we are playing under is that each player must always have one of a given job, and from the moment you get your crystals… every character must have a job.  There are alternate rulesets where you can play with freelancer until you get all four jobs available, but we are playing with the more pure ruleset.  This as always means that some of the parties will have a much easier time than others.  Whoever gets stuck with Thief and White Mage will be struggling, since both of them have issues early game, and whoever has the Black Mage will have a supremely easy time rolling over everything in their way.  We opted to go with a draft order that minimized the advantage of being first, and the disadvantage of being last… that looks a little something like this.

ABCD | DCBA | BDAC | CADB

We decided to roll a 20 sided die in the Roll20 addon to get started and pick the order.  Ashgar using his dice hacking abilities rolled an 18, Tam rolled an 8, Kodra rolled a 5… and I rolled a very lowly and painful 2.  Meaning that in the above scenario Player A would be Ashgar, B would be Tam, C would be Kodra and I got stuck bringing up the rear with D.  However due to the order of the draft I feel like maybe I had a slight advantage.  Of course the Black Mage was gone by the time it got around to me, but I still had plenty of really good things to pick from, considering in this draft I got to make 2 picks back to back.   When all was said and done our party compositions looked like this.

Belghast – White Mage, Mystic Knight, Ranger, Samurai

Ashgar – Blue Mage, Summoner, Beastmaster, Dancer

Kodra – Black Mage, Red Mage, Bard, Chemist

Tam – Thief, Time Mage, Ninja, Dragoon

This surprisingly left the Knight completely untouched, which is an extremely good early game starter.  Not unsurprisingly no one picked the Berserker or Mime, or the Geomancer.  However I think we were all somewhat shocked that no one at all picked up the Freelancer, which ultimately ends up being one of the best options since they can be super customized.  I think overall each of us had a plan in the works, namely mine involved using Ranger to feed my Samurai.  Ash seems to like Blue Mage and Beastmaster which are super fiddly combinations… but he is methodical enough to make them work amazingly.  Kodra of course went for the power combo of Black Mage/Red Mage which will mean he has an extremely easy play through.  Tam went with a super focused build of being able to feed the Ninja and Dragoon, but will have the roughest start of all of us… since you cannot get thieves a weapon in the first town.

Reality Setting In

VisualBoyAdvanceM 2014-05-17 20-29-04-556 It was really during the first “post job” boss encounter that the reality of my choices set in.  I wanted to go for a very melee party, which meant I needed some extremely strong healing.  There is no stronger healer in Final Fantasy 5 than the White Mage, so it seemed like a no brainer pick.  However I did not really “grok” the reality of trying to play through with ONLY white mages up through the water crystal.  Karlaboss aka the fight above is the moment it really set in what I had laid out in front of me, as I slowly dinked away at 650 hp… 10 damage at a time.  Granted there was no way in hell he was going to kill me… but the entire process is just slow and tedious.

VisualBoyAdvanceM 2014-05-17 22-28-47-597 I made it through to the ship graveyard where finally I could start to grind away at the mobs.  My white mage party is uniquely suited for combating the undead, since this flavor of FF allows for you to case cure on the undead which becomes an offensive spell.  I made an early mistake in that I tried to podcast while playing this game, and wound up running out of mana and dying horribly.  However I reloaded from an earlier save state after we finished the podcast and continued on the journey.  I opted to grind my way to 10 on the undead hoping that would give me enough of a buffer to get through the next few fights before I finally get the water crystal and can make a party full of mystic knights.  Granted I will still have to keep one player a white mage, but that should work just fine given I will still need some healing.

White Mage Hell

VisualBoyAdvanceM 2014-05-17 23-03-44-311 The boss at the end of the ship graveyard was a complete pushover.  Generally speaking this is a pretty rough time for most parties considering she starts out living and turns undead a few rounds into the fight.  The undead version has the nasty added issue of poisoning players each time she hits them.  This quickly gets out of control for most parties, however with an army of white mages I just pushed forward nuking the hell out of her with cure.  It took two rounds of this after she turned undead to finish her off.  I calmly cured the poison and moved on. However as easy as this fight was, the next one turned out to be absolutely brutal.

VisualBoyAdvanceM 2014-05-17 23-30-16-066

As I climbed the north mountain to get to the wounded dragon Hiryuu, I started to question if I should have ground higher than ten in the ship graveyard.  I simply could not do crap against the mobs on the mountain, other than simply out survive them.  Additionally the flail that I picked up, and is now my saving grace… seems to miss quite a lot.  Instead of fighting I opted to run away from almost all of the fights leading up to Magissa.  I knew this encounter would take a truly insane amount of time.  She has 650 hp and as you can see from the above shot I was only whittling away around 12 hp per attack.  This was a sheer battle of willpower to keep moving forward at a snails pace.

VisualBoyAdvanceM 2014-05-17 23-37-20-000 When she summoned her pet Forza, I ignored him completely, realizing that there was no way at all I could keep up with fighting him and Magissa and the regeneration spell she casts on him.  Instead I opted to cast protect on my entire party, and used one of my white mages to heal folks up while the others slowly dinked away at Magissa until she fell.  Finally I turned my attention to Forza and focused all of the attacks on him.  Even doing this the “right” way, it still took about thirty minutes to push my way through the encounter with my army of “horrible monks”.  I was completely drained after that fight, and it was getting close to midnight so I stopped playing and streaming.  At some point today I will pick up where I left off.  You can watch the entire thing on my twitch stream, or you can check out the videos that I have uploaded to YouTube embedded below.  Additionally Kodra is streaming his play through so check out his channel as well.

 

AggroChat Episode 6

This week we have myself, Kodra and Ashgar for Aggrochat.  Rae was unavailable because honestly I feel like she was probably asleep.  She spent the day hanging out at the local Renaissance Faire with her brother and our good friend Dallian that appears on last weeks Aggrochat.  This week we had a bunch of things to talk about, or at least things that Kodra especially was excited to discuss.  The first of these was the new champion in League of Legends… Braum.  Next we talked about the Hex vs Wizards of the Coast lawsuit and what it means for the game and TCGs in general.  We also get on this long drawn out discussion of Kickstarter Fatigue and what it means for the kickstarters that are still coming out, and whether or not that is still a viable means of funding a project.  Like always we get lost on lots of rabbit trails between all of this points.

#AggroChat #FF5 #FinalFantasy5 #FourJobFiesta #SteamPoweredSunday