Last Banana

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It has been a very gaming light week for me, and I wound up heading to bed something like 8:30 or 9 ish which is very much not normal for me.  Functionally I am coming off of a few really rough weeks at work where I have been in firestomper mode 24/7.  As a result I get home and I am just too drained to deal with human beings… or in truth the possibility of human beings.  This is where my “I” streak comes out with a vengence, and it has lead me to play a lot of games in a very low key and solo manner.  Last night however I decided to go ahead and play some Destiny.  Right now the very last Iron Banner before the release of Destiny 2 is going on… and with it the chance to get the sniper rifle and hand canon…  neither of which I have a decent roll for.  Additionally with the thought about going into Destiny 2…  I am finding myself more than a little nostalgic for Destiny 1 at the moment.  I’ve never been one to really work on the book achievements, but I am finding myself doing so at least in a limited fashion.  September 6th begins a new adventure into the Destiny universe… and with it we are leaving behind all of the trappings of the last.  As flawed at times as the original might be… it still very much feels like home.

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The match type for this last Iron  Banner is Control, which is also in part what is pushing me back to play some.  Control is my favorite game mode because it gives me a reason beyond killing other players to be engaged.  Deathmatching was something that I was a fan of when I was in High School… but once I have gotten older I find myself craving some larger objective to be working towards.  While I would love to have role based gameplay along the lines of Enemy Territory…  holding points on a map at least gives me some measure of that core focus.  What ends up happening in truth is that players form what I call a “muderball” and then ping ping back and forth across the map capturing points.  In Destiny 1 this game play is actually to some extent rewarded because the more people you have standing on a point… the faster it shifts to neutral and then to captured.  In Destiny 2 however…  points capture at a fixed rate so it is going to be interesting to see if players actually spend some effort focusing on defense rather than just constantly retaking points.  I saved the above screenshot largely because this was as good as it got last night as far as kill to death ratio.

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As far as a load out…  it just feels like the special weapon slot doesn’t mean much of anything anymore.  The limited amounts of ammunition you get, and the fact that it seems like Invective no longer recharges at a reasonable rate meant that for the most part I was using nothing but primary.  I tried a few things as the evening went on.  At first I had some early success with Oversoul Edict, but as the night went on I wound up breaking out my friend the Genesis Chain.  I’ve never been a huge fan of the Suros aesthetic but I absolutely love this weapon…  especially if you get head shots and trigger the firefly explosion effect.  I love the way that sounds… its like a tiny “fuck yes” as you are running away to find the next engagement.  What cracks me up about me and Destiny… is that I tend to bond with whatever weapon everyone else says that you should just shard.  This lives in an archetype that no one seems to like and is functionally just a better version of “An Answering Chord” that is a available on the Vanguard Quartermaster.  However it just feels better and seems to work better for me than that weapon ever did.  I mean I also love the Fabian Strategy… which is a weapon everyone else seems to hate so my particular tastes seem to consistently go against the meta.  Last night I managed to finish all of my quests from Lady Efrideet, but I have yet to get any weapon drops so I am thinking I might want to go ahead and try and make rank 5 during this final Iron Banner in the hopes of maybe seeing some decent versions of the Hand Cannon along the way.

Enjoyment and PVP

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Last week there was a tweet that came across my feed that jarred something loose in my brain.  I am wishing I had thought to save it because I honestly don’t know at this point who tweeted or at least on what specific day.  It was one of those things that filtered into my subconscious and stuck there as it scrolled past.  The general gist was asking what exactly a game would have to do to make PVP palatable for you personally.  I was rushing between meetings when I checked Fenix on my phone, and never actually got around to replying.  However it is something that I have been mulling over for days now.  Why this was so sticky is the fact that I am a walking paradox it seems.  I will claim not to like PVP at all, and will actively go out of my way to avoid it if it is happening in the world.  If a game has one of those settings that prevents you from being accidentally flagged… I run with that on all of the time.  If it is raid time… and one of our PVP centric members runs into the instance flagged and in doing so gets jumped by the Horde.  I will sit there and watch them die, because in my mind they made a poor life choice for coming to a raid flagged in the first place.

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All of that said… I also look forward to the Iron Banner in Destiny which is a monthly PVP event, and if I am bored I often times pop into the crucible which is their version of a battleground match making system.  What I have never been able to reconcile is why player versus player activity in one game feels good and in others not great at all.  All I have been able to sort out in my head is that in Destiny there is no negative side effect, and the rewards for participation are balanced in a way that it feels like no matter what there is a chance that I get something really cool in the process.  Now Crucible hardcores in Destiny will tell you that the things that I love about it… are the things that frustrate them.  Functionally loot is not tied to performance, but instead participation.  Sure if you win a match you get more faction with Lord Shax the Crucible reputation vendor…  but regardless of success or failure it feels like my time spent is leading towards the goal of something interesting.  I am either going to get a faction package that gives me weapons or armor…  or I am going to have the chance of getting interesting gear rewarded to me at random at the end of a match.

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The other thing that has stuck out in my head is that in Destiny the total time of the match is relatively short ranging from 6 to 8 minutes… to at the maximum 15 minutes.  Even more than that the time to engagement is also short, with the lack of long runs back to where the objective fighting is happening.  I spent some time this weekend in World of Warcraft doing battlegrounds, since that system as a whole feels like a reasonable counter point to Destiny.  I knew I was in for something when about 5 minutes into an Arathi basin map…  I saw a pop up through DBM timers informing me that my team would win in 21 minutes.  The length of that match just felt prohibitive to my enjoyment, and the risk of that time spent…  had no real payoff waiting for me at the end.  Sure there is the chance of random loot, but the loot seems to be based on my current PVP rank… and not relative to my gear level which is a huge positive for the way that Destiny handles things.  So since I am late to the game, that means I would have to suffer through a lot of bad experiences in order to maybe have a chance of getting something that is going to be useful to me in the long run.  The risk versus reward equation is just not good enough for me to keep throwing myself at the gristmill.  So instead after a handful of maps I went back to grinding World Quests because they at least felt like they had tangible rewards associated with them.

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Basically my take away is that in order for me to find PVP interesting… there has to be one hell of a lot of carrot waiting on me and very little stick.  The truth is that PVP in general be it Crucible or Battlegrounds is the sort of thing that I might do if I have literally nothing else to do.  I participate in Iron Banner so often because it is a limited time event… and it also is a loot bonanza.  While I was working my way to the current 400 light cap in Destiny, a good chunk of that progress was gained through Iron Banner drops…  which tend to be one every third or fourth match.  In World of Warcraft I played a half dozen battlegrounds this weekend and got a single piece of gear that was 50 item levels lower than the rest of the gear that I was wearing, so another enchanting shard just doesn’t feel that exciting.  I think the shortness of the match also helps my enjoyment, because even if we are losing horribly…  it is a short term predicament and one that might be remedied in the next match.  Additionally battlegrounds that focus on huge scale siege objectives tend to be soul sucking for me, and each time I have to mount up and run to the opposite end of the map it just feels bad.  I guess I prefer quick skirmishes rather than protracted battles, especially for randomly queuing with strangers.  The other huge negative about PVP in games like World of Warcraft is the fact that I am lumped into chat with a bunch of horrible people.  Simply disabling the chat and making the maps clear enough not to need communication to complete objectives would greatly improve my experience.  A good chunk of my joy in Destiny is the fact that no one can spout off racist slurs in global chat.

 

Warlock Banana

Last night did not go exactly as expected, but I am pretty pleased with the results anyways.  Last night was a good night, and it started from the moment I got home and got a bunch of things accomplished while waiting on the rice cooker.  After a furious round of chores, my wife and I sat down to eat and then I was off to play some PS4.  With my leg in its current mauled state it hurts to sit on the couch given that in order to use my laptop I need to use the recliner.  This ends up putting pressure on the four wounds and while I can take it for a few minutes… it doesn’t exactly make for comfortable gaming.  As a result I am largely upstairs right now, and other than being isolated from my wife it does give me access to my gaming consoles and my legit gaming desktop. The original goal for last night was going to involve running around and doing stuff  with some friends in Destiny, but while waiting for that to happen I decided to start doing Iron Banner on my Warlock.  I had not actually touched the Banner on either the Warlock or the Hunter during Year 3, and as a result I had the Lady Efrideet quests to complete which also reward some gear.  I managed to exit the week long even with my Titan main at 393, Warlock caught up to 391 and my Hunter lagging a bit out of disuse at 389.

I’ve tried a whole slew of weapons and honestly nothing makes me nearly as happy as my Year 2 Iron Banner Auto Rifle… the Haakon’s Hatchet.  So for the most part playing on my Warlock meant swapping this over via Destiny Item Manager.  For those who are not using this I highly suggest installing the chrome plugin, because it greatly improves the utility of being able to swap gear while playing the game.  Essentially I swapped my Auto Rifle and my Gjallarhorn over and was off to the races.  There is a part of me that is sad that this Auto Rifle just simply doesn’t exist any more.  I wish there was something you could do, like a weekly bounty for Lord Saladin that rewarded the year two weapons… just a random draw at the huge vat of available options.  Range Finder is one of those perks on a weapon that I feel like gets overlooked a lot, but given the normal crap range on this weapon… with that perk it allows me to melt targets an entire map away it seems.  Counter Balance and Perfect Balance on the same weapon always makes it feel great and I think a huge part of why I keep favoring this weapon… is that I have used it so much that I can predict exactly how it is going to behave in pretty much every situation.

Throughout the course of the evening I managed to go from Rank 0 to Rank 5 and complete all four of the bounties on my Warlock along with the three one time Lady Efrideet quests.  That meant I saw an awful lot of gear as a result.  Most of it was largely “more of the same” but I am picking out a few items to talk about.  Firstly I am not a huge fan of Sidearms, but I am trying to learn how to use them.  They play this interesting role of operating somewhere just outside of shotgun range but largely something you swap to when you empty your primary.  Normally speaking I would just infuse this into a weapon I am more familiar with but for the moment I am holding onto it largely because I think the perk package looks interesting.  With Hand Loaded and Range Finder… this means my side arm is going to have a massive operating range, and with Quickdraw I will be able to swap to it extremely quickly.  Combine this with the already insane Stability and Rate of Fire on the weapon… and it might be useful if I can learn to use it well.

One of the strange things about Iron Banner is that your drops seem to be extremely character dependent.  For example this time around the drops that were available were Class Items, Helms, Artifacts, Ghost Shells, Scout Rifles, and Fusion Rifles.  On my Titan I got Fusion Rifles almost exclusively, save for a single Distant Star Scout Rifle drop.  On my Warlock…  the Scout Rifles were raining down upon me.  I still think that more than likely I am going to be using the vendor roll which includes Full Auto… giving me a crazy high power auto rifle hybrid thing.  However I did manage to get a few other interesting rolls, including the one above that I thought were worth talking about.  Firstly to spec this out I would end up taking Braced Frame… which I really don’t like doing because it reduces the magazine size.  For the second pick I would ultimately take High Caliber Rounds to give some stagger and a bit more impact, and lastly would probably go for Firefly…  just because right now I don’t have a decent scout rifle with that on it.  For the un-initiated Firefly makes it so that when you kill a with a headshot… it causes it to explode dealing damage to all other mobs around it.  Firefly does a really great job at helping with wave clear and it is just fun to watch all of these things explode.  All in all it was a pretty great week in the Banana, and I am hoping the next time it comes around I can maybe push my army of characters up to 400ish.

Literal Ankle Biter

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LET IT DIE_20161211164207

This was a bit of an odd weekend.  Lets get the bad out of the way.  For several months we have been trying to figure out how to get Luna to a point where she does not attack the other two cats on sight.  We’ve kept her sequestered in my wife’s office and each night I grab her and we hang out in my office while I play games.  She almost always ends up snuggled on my desk, and in truth is just about the sweetest cat ever…  when not around our other two.  This is an important distinction before I tell you this next bit… because she is adorable and cuddly…  when she is by herself.  In my infinite lack of wisdom I decided that I wanted to make one last attempt to socialize them since she had seemingly bonded with me so tightly after our many many weeks of chilling in my office.  We locked our eldest cat up in the bedroom and brought Luna out, at first carrying her and holding her on the sofa.  Before long thought she wanted to explore… and for the most part our youngest and her were not interacting at all.  However there came a point where we were moments away from a cat fight, and I tried to gather Luna up and carry her off to my office.  She struggled to try and get away but I got her up to the office without much issue.  I turned to shut the door and I felt this searing pain on my leg around my lower calf.  She had bit me… and now I was left with the decision of how the hell to get out of my office without letting her out so she could go after Kenzie.

I snuck out and by the time I got downstairs I was bleeding pretty badly.  There are five marks…  so I am guessing one is maybe a claw mark or she drug off of me and raked me with her fang again.  Two of them are about a half inch in length and pretty deep… and two others are deep puncture wounds where she chomped down hard on my leg.  It hurts quite a bit to walk and just generally exist in the world right now, but I don’t think there is any real damage.  After going through the crap with my wife when she got bitten we are being extra cautious, and using the super duper antibiotic creme that they gave us back then.  Walking is not comfortable and today is going to be interesting.  I had to venture out to get more extra large band-aids, because in theory you can hit all of the spots with two of the largest size.  After getting bandaged up I went back upstairs where she seemed as freaked as I was by the event.  She sat on the floor in the back of my office up against the accordion closet door for a long while looking freaked.  Eventually I peeked down underneath the desk towards where she was at and said “it’s okay, I’m not mad” and almost instantly her demeanor changed and she bounded over and hopped up on the desk laying down beside me.  The thing that is breaking my heart is that I now know that this is probably never going to get any better, and we really do need to find her a new home.  Unfortunately the friend that we thought was going to take her… had her landlord say no.  It was in their contract that they could have pets if landlord approved… but I am guessing the asshole is biased against cats, because he assumed they were talking a dog.

Other than the cat thing…. and hurting…  I streamed a lot of Iron Banner.  I think it was Friday night at some point that I managed to hit Rank 5 with the Banana, and from that point on it was just gravy as far as loot went.  I guess in theory I should have been swapping to the Warlock or Hunter to get them to Rank 5 but instead I simply made a poor attempt at farming some more gear to increase my light levels.  This last 10 points is going to be slow as hell, but I entered the weekend at 390 and exit at 392 which I guess is reasonable.  According to beam I have now streamed seven hours of game play, which I guess isn’t a bad start for my first week.  Now a good chunk of that on Sunday at least was to an empty audience, but I entertained myself and have a bunch of footage to sift through.  There was one Iron Banner match where for whatever reason I started humming the Super Mario Brothers theme song inserting “Nope” instead of some of the notes.  All in all I think I like Rift for an Iron Banner match type, but like I said before I struggled a bit at first because the game play feels so vastly different from anything I had been used to.  The best item I got all weekend is still the above Branded Lord with Hammer Forged, Enhanced Battery and Range Finder… which I now have fully leveled and am almost using exclusively.

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Lastly I played some “Let It Die” as evidenced by the first screenshot in the post today, and streamed it as well…  except for whatever reason my audio was being overpowered completely by the game audio.  I will have to fiddle with that and adjust it some.  This game is just strange as hell, and I guess in many ways it feels a little Dark Soulsian, in that the mobs that you encounter are somewhat brutally powerful at times.  There will be times that you get stunlocked to the point where you simply cannot do anything to deal with the encounters other than die.  The strangest part so far is the types of weapons you encounter…  hot irons, router drills, hammers…  firework launchers.  As you ascend the Tower of Barbs you encounter all sorts of monsters that should be in a silent hill game with bizarre implements that are trying to kill you, all the while you are using a zombie corpse thing as your avatar.  You start out buck naked each time and have to scrounge up armor and weapons to be able to survive for terribly long in the tower.  This is of course a “free to play” game and where the money aspect comes in is that in order to resurrect yourself using “death insurance” you need to spend a rainbow skull currency, that the game gives you a handful of to start out.  However in the brief period of time I played yesterday I wound up using two of them before realizing… that in truth I had not really made any actual progress and should stop doing that.  I’ve not quite figured out what the point is yet…  as far as how you actually improve your character.  I thought after I cleared a level I would be taken back to the lobby… but apparently I have to do that manually so I essentially lost all progress on that character and had to grab a fresh corpse to start the climb all over again.  It has some deep rogue like elements, all the while mixing in bizarre Neo Tokyo and Silent Hill tropes…. with a dash of Dark Soulsian difficulty.  Given that several of those checkboxes are things that Kodra likes, I think he maybe should try this game out.  What I am wanting to know is if you can play it multiplayer, because this would probably be super enjoyable with friends.

 

Derpy Banana

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Last night I moved a little bit out of my comfort zone and decided to do what I had hoped to do some time ago… and test Beam.pro.  Firstly you have to understand that I have gone around and around with streaming services because none of them really seemed to fit me.  Twitch is the ten ton juggernaut in the room, and in a way that generally makes all other services irrelevant.  That said… I feel like it is a generally inferior experience for both the viewer and the streamer.  The lag delay between video stream and chat is horrendous and it pretty much makes any attempt at having a conversation with someone watching you impossible.  Hitbox seemed really cool other than some weird issues I had regularly with stream quality.  It however had little to no lag between video stream and chat and made it super easy to have conversations over.  They also seemed to have way better back end tools to support the day to day management of your stream and syndicating it to various social media platforms when you go live.  Beam however entered the ring some time ago, or at least came into my general consciousness when my friend Maeka decided to switch over to streaming on it exclusively.

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Braced Frame – Snapshot – Range Finder

So Beam represents a more twitch like experience in quality, but with far better chat delay and an interesting reward model for viewers and streamers.  Watching streams earns folks sparks, that can then be spent on either unlocking features for your own channel… or spending those sparks on other streamers who often offer weird things like sound boards for you to play with.  I admit the gamification aspect of the streaming interested me, and I find myself way more connected to the concept of letting a stream run while I am doing other things because I know that eventually it is going to benefit me.  For example… something I have always wanted was the ability to create an AggroChat team, and that functionality apparently unlocks when I hit 5000 sparks… to which I am sitting at roughly 2000 currently after a few days of usage.  Over the weekend I got my setup rearranged and organized so that things were going through the appropriate devices, thinking that sometime in the future I might maybe start streaming again.  However a thread on the That Gaming Forum Imzy was the catalyst needed to go ahead and push me across the line to trying to stream something properly.  When I got home last night I quickly assembled a fresh OBS install and pulled in the artwork I had from the previous attempts and before long I was up and running.

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Perfect Balance – Snapshot – Headseeker

The end result is me playing some of the absolute worst Iron Banner ever, but you can check out the VOD here on Beam.  I spent way more time turning my head to the left and checking chat than I did actually playing the game.  This is compounded by the fact that before last night I had played a half dozen Rift matches period, and it is a vastly different style of gameplay than I am used to in the Crucible.  Generally speaking I am used to the “rush to the choke point” style of game play that comes from Control or Supremacy, and in trying to play Rift that way… I died a lot.  Later on in the night after I chilled the hell out and started taking things more slowly… I started doing better but unfortunately this was LONG after I ended my stream.  I was still recording, however when I configured OBS I ended up accepting the default flv format… which Adobe Premiere seems not to know what to do with.  So I am either going to have to find a plugin that lets me import them… or find something to convert that to a format so I can actually properly edit it.  I did get one really solid match recorded, and I would like to edit that up and post it on my youtube channel at some point.

Perfect Balance - Extended Mag - Zen Moment
Perfect Balance – Extended Mag – Zen Moment

One of the big positives about Beam is that they are now owned by Microsoft which in theory means they are going to get more support.  The negative there is that Microsoft has a long and storied history of abandoning products…  zune anyone?  However the killer feature seems to be that it integrates perfectly with the Xbox One… which also adds to a little platform bias.  Most of the streams I have watched were streamed from an Xbone… so it confused my viewers when I said I was playing Destiny on the PS4.  Ultimately I have a pretty cool setup that I am happy with in that in my office I have my desktop beside what is essentially a console gaming area.  In a storage cabinet beneath my 48 inch television I have a PS4, PS3, Xbox 360 and now Xbox One all connected through an HDMI switch that then goes through a splitter before going into an Elgato HD that I picked up off craigslist for around $35 used.  That then feeds into my PC and is served up by OBS using the Elgato streaming tools.  So that means quite literally anything I can connect to my television through HDMI can then end up getting streamed out.  At one point I had my WiiU connected here, but I took that downstairs so I could hang out in bed and play on the weird remote device.  Also Nintendo has some pretty draconian practices surrounding streaming and youtube videos so I figured it was probably a good idea NOT to do that.

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At one point I drew up this diagram quickly to show how my set up works.  The key element there is the splitter and you can read more about that in a previous post I made back in June 2014 when I got the setup running.  As far as Iron Banner itself… I have interspersed some of my best rolls from the night in amongst the paragraphs.  In total I am sitting 3/4 of the way through Rank 3 and have picked up 3 fusion rifles, 1 scout rifle, 1 pulse rifle, 2 legs, and a helm… that I then bought the 100% roll from Lady Efrideet and infused that into it.  I feel like I made a decent start to getting to Rank 5 and I finally grasped the unique rhythm of the game mode as I went through the night.  I suddenly stopped being the lowest person on the team to vying for the top spot once again.  I am not terribly great at crucible but I am generally not as bad as I am in the stream test.  However that wasn’t really the purpose of the stream… it was to test out Beam.pro and I think so far I am saying it passes with flying colors.  I accepted the absolute default settings and it performed admirably.  Now is the time for me to actually set my channel up properly and try and sort out how precisely is the best way to use the service.

Clever Dragons

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Destiny_20161115060312

Iron Banner just concluded yesterday, and I spent a good deal of time playing it this go round.  I’ve never had any luck in trying to get a decent Grasp of Malok, so when the rank five roll of Clever Dragon featured Counter Balance, Perfect Balance and Snapshot…  I knew I was ultimately going to grind until I got there.  With the Rise of Iron it brought a number of changes to “Iron Banana”, namely since Lord Saladin is nor our “faction leader” of a sort…  the reigns of the tournament were passed to Lady Efrideet.  The primary change that happened is the fact that instead of three weekly bounties, and three daily bounties…  we are given four weekly bounties.  Previously you got a crappy blue item at Rank 3 with Iron Banner and an item package at Rank 5.  This time around two of these new bounties reward armor packages, and the other two reward weapons…  and you still get some sort of a big package upon hitting Rank 5.  So the total loot payout of participating in the event is significantly more than it used to be.  That said I find it MUCH harder to get to Rank 5, given that I don’t have something I can be working on every day to give me a much needed boost.  In Iron Banner you only gain ranks if you are winning, and especially trying to queue during the day on Friday… I hit some significant losing streaks.  Now there is a built in system that gives you a sort of consolation prize coin upon a loss… and these stack to five, with a boost to your rank granted when you finally turn around and win.  However there was at least one point on Friday that I lost eight games in a row…  so it just become frustrating as I kept getting thrown up against premades.

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Now the positive of the event is that I got tons of loot, and also managed to complete both the void damage portion of the thorn quest, and the crucible kills portion of my Future War Cult exotic class item quest.  I spent a significant amount of time running around shooting people into the face with the above Shotgun.  I’ve had the Party Crasher +1 for awhile now and I consider it to be as close to a god roll as I will ever likely see with Full Auto, Final Round and Rifled Barrel to help boost the range a bit.  Traditionally I use my Invective when doing crucible, but at the moment I am simply not willing to waste an exotic shard on anything until I get significantly closer to the item cap.  I went on a mission to try and get a decent legendary shotgun during Taken King and in my very first round of attempting to grind the Crucible I managed to pull this guy in the end of match rewards and have been loving it ever since.  I am sure a god roll Matador could pry it from my hands but for the moment I am super happy with it.

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The other weapon that I used a significant amount of the time especially to get those void kills is Saladin’s Vigil.  Now this is something I picked up last Iron Banner from one of the loot bounties, and I felt like I got a completely reasonable roll on it.  I am not even sure what a “god roll” would look like, but mine has Hammer Forged, Enhanced Battery, and Performance Bonus….  with that last perk actually extending the usefulness of the weapon as it materializes ammo out of thin air.  With a really low charge rate and almost maxed impact and reasonable range… this is essentially the first fusion rifle that is not Sleeper Simulant that I really find myself enjoying using.  I got many a kill by this one and leading the charge as I expected something to duck around the corner.  Fusion Rifles can be extremely frustrating in the crucible because they are very much a “whelp I’m dead” weapon when you intercept a bolt.

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Lastly the weapon I cannot stop using… literally ever is this Haakon’s Hatchet that was a vendor roll during the Taken King.  I realize that the “doctrine of spamming” archetype is still pretty potent in the meta, but no matter how many versions of that archetype I get… I never can seem to do shit with them.  I currently have a potentially viable Hex Caster ARC and an Unbent Tree… but I cannot ever bring myself to level them and have not deemed them worthy of motes of light.  The weapon I continue to go back to however is this Hatchet with Ranger Finder, Counter Balance and Perfect Balance.  This is as close to my perfect weapon as I will likely ever find, because not only do I love the appearance… but I can also draw a bead on enemy players with in and chew them up.  What I love the most about the weapon is the fact that it is just as viable for me in Crucible situations as it is doing literally anything PVE… namely the Archon’s Forge.  The magazine is big enough that I can often take down an entire wave of mobs in the forge without a reload.

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I’ve tried so many different primary weapons… for example I managed to pull the above Shadow Price that while it does not have the perfect roll has something I can work with.  With Rodeo and Perfect Balance it becomes usable… and while Icarus is generally a worthless perk I can make it work since I jump around a lot.  This gun works well in any PVE situation, but it is completely useless in the Crucible, at least with the roll package that I wound up getting.  I have a copy of The Continental that seems similarly reasonable, but nothing can quite match up to the “perfect for me” stat package of the Hatchet.  I still want to try and find one of the Doctrine archetype weapons with Counterbalance and Perfect Balance to see if it suddenly becomes this magical weapon that folks talk about.  However for the time being I will keep using Hatchet and be happy to have it.  I am hoping however that after all the time I spent trying to get it… that I find that sweet spot with the Clever Dragon and it becomes my new favorite Pulse Rifle.

 

Tricksy Shotgunner

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Surprise Banner

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This weekend as I have said before I will be going to visit friends in St Louis, or more literally Lake St Louis.  As a result we will be taking the weekend off from the podcast, and I will be taking the weekend completely off from my blog.  I am not sure if I will be making a post Monday or not…  because in theory if things work as intended we should be back Sunday night.  One of the things I was mildly relieved about was the fact that I would not be missing an Iron Banner.  There is a nasty bug going on right now that happens in a certain circumstance… which primarily involves the rocket launcher from the raid… if it happened to roll with the Clown Cartridge perk.  It combined with Cocoon meant that you could have limitless regenerating ammunition and be able to fire rockets long before the heavy ammunition showed up in crucible matches.  As a result they completely cancelled Trials of Osiris, and looked like they were going to cancel this months Iron Banner.  However yesterday unexpectedly Lord Saladin showed up at the tower, and just like that Iron Banner was on for the month of May.

I know without a doubt that there is no way I can manage to get three characters through to rank 5 this time around because I will be out of town for most of it.  However I decided to focus on my hunter that is my second highest light character.  The hope being that somewhere in this process I get some decent infusion fodder if nothing else.  This go around the weapons are the Fusion Rifle and Sidearm… neither of which I am actually interested in.  As far as armor we have Chest and Arms again, both of which are pieces that my Hunter has.  In theory I should probably be doing this on the Warlock because he could use both of them.  I did however manage to ALMOST hit Rank 3 last night on the Hunter and knocked out some of the harder achievements like “top score” for a match.  It was a lot of fun, and a whole bunch of that I chock up to the Lord of Wolves Shotgun.  I had not really fallen in love with this weapon, but I had moved it to the hunter at one point because it was 335 light and I needed something to get my light levels up.

What makes this weapon awesome is that it works unlike pretty much any other shotgun.  Firing it feels more like a pulse rifle, and at least now… no one seems to be expecting it.  So many times I managed to pick people off just outside of normal shotgun range with a single burst to the head.  While it doesn’t hit quite as hard as a traditional shotgun…  it still hits plenty hard and the perfect balance perk seems to help quite a bit with the otherwise nasty recoil.  This feels like one of those meta breaking weapons, that will probably only work well against untrained players.  There are plenty of ways to counter it… and lord knows last night several people figured it out.  However for guarding flags… this combined with Trip Mines seemed to be super effective.  Hunters are just brutal in any of the PVP modes, and that throwing knife… so much fun to use, so much cursing when it is used against you.  I am certain that I pissed off a handful of people during the night, because there was this one guy that seemed to make it his personal mission to seek me out and kill me…  not always effectively which probably only added to the frustration.  Its my hope that maybe I can push to Rank 5 tonight and then maybe try pushing the Warlock when I get back from my trip.

Goal Failing

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As stupid as it might sound… this is the thing that I have missed the most from Final Fantasy XIV.  The whole standing around and interacting while in the at the Free Company thing.  Unfortunately this is also something that doesn’t really happen that often.  It feels like with Heavensward there are not as many reason to keep returning to the Free Company house as there used to be.  Also the FC is going through that pre-patch doldrums with not that many people being on within a given night, unless that night is Tuesday.  I have been trying to clear my schedule so that I can participate in Tuesday night shenanigans and this week was no exception.  For whatever reason however we struggled quite a bit, and in part I think that was because we were way short of a standard 8 player group.  Towards the end we were down to five players… 1 tank, 2 healers, 2 dps which for most of the classic Extreme Primals was doable but considerably more difficult.  As a tank I had to start dealing with mechanics that I usually never see like weight of the world.  The other bummer was that through all of this struggle… we didn’t see any pony drops… and no real interesting weapons either.

As far as failing at my goal… it was my intention to get in every night and run at least one expert.  The problem being… nobody has been around and my desire to solo queue is minimal.  It is one of those hurdles that I need to push myself over, because I realize that it is not terribly likely that I will run into one of the “git gud” idiots.  Most of the community is pretty damned chill, but there is a small fraction that feels just as toxic as any other.  It was one of these people that halted another friends queue frenzy, and I guess I am afraid I will bump into one of those and have my happy reunion with this game halted.  If you can bring two players into a four player group… you can mitigate a lot of frustration and if nothing else kick the offending party.  However I wish I had a regular group of people to queue with for nothing more than a single expert, because god knows I need the currency to buy upgrades.

 

Flowers and Rank 5s

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Backyard Whim

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One of the interesting developments that has happened this summer is that we are spending a good deal more time outside than we have ever before.  I mean we have lived in our house for seventeen years now… and we’ve never really taken advantage of our backyard.  My wife and I tried to sort out why this was, and I think in truth it was that the back of our house looked bad.  Before moving in during the inspections they found a lot of termite damage on the wooden siding, and the bulk of this was located on the back of the house.  The repair job looked adequate at first, but as it aged… the back wall ended up looking like a patchwork quilt that even with a fresh coat of paint just looked “wrong”.  So in many ways I think it just put us off from being outside and having to look at it.  With the recent renovations and new siding, we also had a door installed off of the bedroom.  Years ago we created a quick and dirty patio with pavers, and now it feels like everything has finally come together.  Sunday morning for example by the time I had woken up and gotten out of bed, my wife was already on the patio off the bedroom reading.  There have been many times during the weekends that we end up eating lunch on the back patio as well.

Now I am not exactly certain where it came from… but recently we have talked about trying to put flowers sprinkled around the backyard.  Granted we have always had a brown thumb, but this resurgence of backyarding…  has made us want to at least try it.  This reached a boiling point Saturday when while running errands we found a couple of planters that we really liked at Sam’s Club, and you can see one of them in the foreground of the above image.  Given that Sams always has a rotating stock we went ahead and picked them up, thinking that if we waited they probably wouldn’t have two of the color we wanted later.  Now I had zero intention of doing anything with them this weekend… I mean because I had Iron Banner and Diablo Season 6 to play.  However before I knew it Sunday we were making a trip to go get rock and potting soil, and plants.  We are massively cheating in that the start of each of the pots is a hanging plant, but so far so good.  Now we just have to make sure they keep watered, but the hope is that since we are spending so much time out in the backyard anyway…  that it won’t be that big of a deal.  For those that are curious I created a nifty panoramic shot of the entire back yard.

Rank 5 For All

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Even though we spent a chunk of the afternoon working on flowers and such, I still managed to make it upstairs on the PS4 by around 4pm.  This allowed me some dedicated time to play the Warlock, and push forward towards Iron Banner rank 5.  I closed with the weekend with my Titan and 333 light, Hunter at 324 and Warlock also at 324 which is significant movement.  I have a feeling that those last two points of light on the Titan are going to end up being pure hell.  However on a similar photo from the 22nd… I was sitting at 324 on the Titan, and 314 and 304 on the Hunter and Warlock respectively.  So I have to say… I am pretty damned pumped about the rapid progress.  The Iron Banner as a whole was very good to me, especially in the equippable gear and infusion material categories.  I managed to get all of the available gear for this week, minus a pair of legs for the Warlock.  There are numerous copies of the Auto Rifle, Rocket Launcher, and even managed to pick up a sidearm and sniper rifle from Rank 5 packages.  It has been interesting playing all three classes this weekend, and I have to say that in truth… I think maybe the Warlock and Hunter are just inherently better at crucible than my Titan.  It feels like they have a lot more tricks up their sleeve, whereas the Titan is just pure brute force.  Warlock Blink seems to be the best escape method for getting out of an engagement, and Hunter throwing knives seems to be the best finishing move ever.

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As far as the sniper rifle goes that I managed to pick up, I am not exactly a huge fan.  It has Eye of the Storm, Speed Reload and Spray and Play which in theory would make it an insanely fast sniper rifle, but given its low impact…  I question how useful it really is.  For crucible at least you would have to land so many shots to make the kill, and it is hard enough to nail a single shot let along multiple at range.  I will probably end up holding onto it just because it looks really cool, but I have a feeling that sooner or later this will get infused into something else to bring up its light levels.  As far as new snipers go, I am still a much bigger fan of the 333 Her Fury that I managed to pick up from my Challenge of Elders this week.  High impact, paired with Triple Tap and Armor Piercing rounds makes it something enjoyable to use.  Tonight I have plans to hang out upstairs at least for a bit and try my luck at getting more of that tasty Iron Banner loot.  It would be amazing if before the end of the weekend I manage to get more of the 335 items to help push up other gear.  As far as the rest of my Destiny schedule for this week it feels a little up in the air.  I did not set foot into Kings Fall last week, and I would really love to remedy that this week.  The thing that sucks is that I am now in a position where the only benefit I will see is from a hard mode run, given that all three of my characters are now over the 320 light level that normal drops.

Crusaders and Guardians

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Season Six

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While I greatly enjoy the concept of the Developer Appreciation Week… I am always somewhat happen when it is over.  During the week I feel like I have to be making posts along that them, so when things happen that I want to talk about…  I end up pushing them down until the week is ultimately over.  Now as I sit here for the first unfettered post in awhile…  I am finding it super hard getting started.  The biggest happening of this weekend is that Friday evening at 7pm my time the newest Diablo 3 season began.  For season six I opted to roll a Female Crusader, because I had so much fun playing as one last season.  I have this general goal of getting a male and female of each class eventually, but that also means that someday I will have to finish playing that mage and attempt to play a witch doctor.  The only problem I am running into is that it feels like what made the crusader so amazing last go round… was the fact that the Invoker set was just phenomenal.  Now that I have my six piece Akkhan set, it doesn’t feel anywhere near as powerful as I did last season.  In fact while the set dungeon was a breeze for me last go around, this one is only causing chain wipes.  Granted I am not nearly as geared as I was at this point last year, in part because I am not getting drug by Carthuun.

When the season started we ended up with six people on the guild discord, and as a result we split into two three player teams.  Ultimately ending up with me and Grace playing together, with Solaria and Kodra joining up for short periods of time.  Towards the end of the evening Kylana was with us as well as the other three player team ultimately disolved with Ashgar got pulled away for work, and Callalil went to bed.  I myself only lasted through level 60, because that was ultimately the point at which I was starting to fall asleep at the keyboard.  So I went to bed around 11pm and the rest of the group pushed onward.  Yesterday morning Grace and I ended up playing together, and she helped me get the rest of the way to 70, and unlock my gear set.  She was sitting over 100 paragon levels, which means that more than likely Carth is sitting around 300ish.  At some point I will join in his Torment X shenanigans because I really need some gear.  All in all it was a great start of the new season, and at some point I will sort out my spec and with gear should be able to solo more stuff.  Right now the challenge is finding thorns on gear, and I have ended up burning through all of my materials trying to enchant away useless stats and turn them into thorns.

Banana Split

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Another awesome happening this weekend is that yesterday while waiting on folks to show up for the AggroChat game of the month show, I managed to push my Hunter to rank 5.  This is the first month that I managed to get to characters to rank 5, and I’ve since started working on getting the warlock there as well.  My hope is that after I finish knocking out this blog post I will head upstairs and work on that.  Iron Banner has been really damned good to me, letting me amass a lot of gear and weapons that will ultimately either get used as is or serve as infusion fodder.  In theory I should probably be doing matches on my Titan with the hopes of getting more 335 items, but it feels good actually working on my other characters.  After playing the hunter I can absolutely see why they do so damned well in the crucible.  Throwing knives are amazing, and I had so much fun yesterday finishing off people with them.  I still feel like golden gun however is the least exciting of the supers, but I am getting used to using it to optimal efficiency.  There was one point where I managed to get three kills in a row with it and earned the way of the gun trophy.

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Over the course of the week I have picked up so much gear, with the latest acquisition being a 335 Tormod’s Bellows.  The only challenge here is that I am not sure if I will keep it or infuse it into one of my heavy weapons.  I could really use a 335 sword… just saying.  The funny thing is… I got the 335 drop on my absolute lowest level character while working on the Warlock yesterday.  So I am wondering if maybe the buff in faction that you get for pushing up additional characters does something as well to the chances of getting max light drops as well?  In any case another Iron Banner has come and almost gone, and I have loved every minute of it.  I finally sorted out why I like PVP in Destiny and never have in other games.  There is something about getting real loot at the end of matches, as opposed to a currency in lieu of loot that can maybe someday add up to be enough to get something interesting.  I love random chance, and I love being rewarded with interesting stuff.  More so than that… I love getting not quite perfect items… and then trying to figure out how to use them to my advantage.

Lucky Banana

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Strange Dream

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This morning I am opting to make a more traditional blog post rather than an other DAW post because…  well the DAW posts take a lot out of me.  It takes a lot of effort to summon up this hardcore reminiscing, and after doing four of them, I need to take a day off.  I am sure I will return tomorrow with another segment.  Though it seems like not that many people are joining in, and it was a little disheartening the other day when a friend of mine called it a marketing gimmick.  In truth we forgot about it this year, and I felt that it was bad that we forgot about it.  Normally speaking this thing is supposed to happen during the last week of March, but instead I rescheduled it to happen the last week of April because I didn’t want a year to go by without this thing happening.  I feel it is important for us as players to remember that the games we often complain about… are made by actual human beings who just want to do a good job.  So it only seems fitting to spread a little love around during a single week in the year.  I don’t really get anything out of doing it, and I am certain Scarybooster didn’t when he first started doing the event back in 2010.  So if it is a marketing gimmick it is a piss poor design.

I’ve been pretty sick over the last few days, a combination of allergies and asthma, so last night I decided that I really needed to turn in early and get a full nights sleep.  I had a really strange dream as a result and I can only assume it is due to me not exactly being all here right now.  So I had this dream that I was being thrown a birthday party, but instead it was all of my internet friends.  There is a lot of the dream I am already forgetting but there were some really strange moments.  For example my friend Tam that I record AggroChat with, had this circa 1980s Lisa Frank folder with a rainbow colored tiger on it… and inside he had written on big chief notepad paper…  these summaries of different pen and paper character archetypes.  For some reason Markiplier was there, which I found odd because I only really know of him from various Pax panels.  He ended up getting me a gift called a “Cat Tether” which is supposed to be I guess like a cat leash?  The box looked like it came from the as seen on television aisle at Walgreens.  The rest of the dream is pretty fuzzy but I thought it was strange enough that it was worth writing about.  In any case I feel more rested this morning and feeling a little less horrible, so I guess it worked?

Iron Banana

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The other reason why I wanted to take a day off from DAW is that I want to talk about the current Iron Banner.  Largely I want to talk about it… while there is still enough time to people to get into Destiny and participate.  In the past loot from Iron Banner felt like it was few and far between, but it seems like Bungie cranked the switch up to 11.  On average it felt like every three to four matches I was getting a piece of legendary gear.  This week the items up for grabs are boots, class items, Tormod’s Bellows Rocket Launcher, and Haakon’s Hatchet a bullet hose type Auto Rifle.  The loot that you get as drops seems to be limited to these four items that are available.  From the moment you hit rank 1, aka after your first match/bounty turn in you seem to be able to get either the Class Armor or Boots.  When you hit rank 3 the weapons start dropping, and I got my first Hatchet from that next match after hitting the rank.  The rank 3 package sadly is only a 320 artifact, which isn’t all that good for infusion, however all of the items that you end up getting are.  For most of the matches I have been sitting between 327-330 depending on my weapon loadout, and all of my gear so far has been 332-334 with sadly no 335s as of yet.

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Over the course of my matches so far I have managed to get four Auto Rifles, six boots, six titan marks, and a single rocket launcher.  Now the dropped variants have wildly differing rolls, but I managed to latch onto one that wasn’t too horrible and have been using it for most of the banner.  Hip Fire sadly is useless on an Auto Rifle, but the other stats on this one are pretty great.  Right now I am a little over half of the way to Rank 5, and the goal is to buy the vendor roll which is phenomenal and infuse this 334 into it.  The vendor rolls for pretty much everything are really good this time a round, and if I actually cared about rocket launchers I might consider picking that one up.  If I ever use a rocket launcher I am going to use Truth for the tracking ability, because I suck at using rocket launchers.  Other things I have figured out, is that 330 seems to be the current cap for faction packages, because during the course of the last few weeks I have turned in a ton of Future War Cult, Vanguard and Crucible packages… and essentially everything I have gotten stopped at 330.  The funniest thing is that the last three Crucible packages have all rewarded me the exact same primary scout rifle The Saterienne Rapier, one of which was worth holding onto because it had hidden hand and explosive rounds… however the bulk have served as infusion fodder allowing me to bring up weapons I will actually use more often.  As far as Scout Rifles go… I am most likely to use my brand new Hand of Judgement that I pulled out of Challenge of Elders this week.