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Everything posted by Deadpan

  1. Clickbait Games Journalism: Polygon vs Kotaku

    As a writer, I get really frustrated when people use the term "clickbait." It's been thrown around so much that it now refers to anything from attention-grabbing headlines that don't match the actual article to hot take write-ups covering the latest cultural obsession to any kind of coverage that falls outside what you want from a publication. There are whole swaths of commenters who call any discussion of sexism or racism clickbait because they see it all as fake, puffed up controversy. It's just not a great word for having a nuanced conversation. I get it though, it sucks to see every outlet in the world circle the drain of TV recaps and opinions on Marvel movies. When my Twitter timeline fills up with reminders to avoid Twitch and Amazon to support striking workers, I really don't want to see Polygon post a "Check out these Prime Day deals!" article that's just a list of affiliated links. People already pointed out how this stuff is necessary to pay the bills, but that just points to how shitty and broken the system is. Even if it subsidizes some good writing, the ratio seems pretty bad at this point. I usually recommend going to smaller publications, but at this stage I don't even know where people post the good stuff. Blogs are kind of uncool at the moment, a lot of the critics I know either stream or make videos now. Which is fine, but just not the same as good writing. I don't know. Also: Perception is a really weird issue when it comes to this. Kotaku have been punching way above their reputation for a long time, but when people come across their longform stuff, they are often surprised or see it as a very recent shift. They have been especially good this year though. Cecilia D'Anastasio's coverage of workplace issues at Riot Games deserves all the shout outs I can give.
  2. Idle Thumbs Hiatus

    Not sure where else to put this, but I recently discovered that the Chris Remo Spelunky Supercut featuring 99 days of daily challenges is no longer available on Youtube because the account that posted it was terminated. What a shame! It was a thoroughly enjoyable compilation of both triumphs and hoistings that I went back to every couple of months to hear Chris' lamentations about bees in the dark.
  3. It's related to the mechanics of the draft process in either system. Hearthstone being purely digital gives it the freedom to fiddle with the selection process to try to balance things out: previously this was done by guaranteeing that a few picks would be rare or higher, but to avoid situations where one of your three picks was clearly superior, we now have the bucket system, where cards are grouped based on their power level rather than their rarity. Different classes even get a different amount of great, good, normal or bad bucket picks depending on how well that class performs in Arena to begin with. There's still variance, but there's also efforts to reign it in. The booster pack draft system in MTG isn't based on these considerations, it's based on a physical product with a much greater degree of variance. I'm sure there's stuff going on behind the scenes to make the card selection in Arena more balanced than it would normally be and you still some amount of editorial control over your deck in the end, but I'm still left with the impression that there's a much greater degree of difference to what sort of deck you could end up with here. That makes it more interesting, but also more frustrating for me. Like, originally, the very physicality of this system is part of what helps balance it out: your immediate opponents at the table all draft from the same pile of cards, so no matter what weirdness there is going on, you are all dealing with it together. In this online draft format though, I'm picking vs a bot and then playing people who had entirely different piles to begin with. What I like about Hearthstone arena is that it feels like a much more stripped down format that focuses on the fundamentals of trading, tempo and understanding basic archetypes like aggro, mid-range and control. The way the selection process is balanced between spells, minions, class and neutral cards makes it completely impossible to pursue any specific deck recipe or combo, which means you can still play and enjoy this when you haven't been keeping up with the meta for a while. The fact that drafts in MTG Arena focus entirely on one set really brings the specific balance quirks of that set to the fore, which almost requires more literacy of the game than normal play does. More importantly, if the specific meta of looking at one set in isolation has a few cards or combos that overperform (which players have more space to pursue in the larger scale of the draft), there's no way to correct for that, it just is what it is.
  4. I've been dabbling in MTG Arena next to Hearthstone and I don't have the energy to indulge in another card game next to that. Arena is sort of a fun nostalgia trip and I really like how the UI/UX stuff works in this iteration, but now that I'm getting a bit deeper into it, it feels odd to push up against its physical roots. Because Hearthstone is purely digital, they get to do balance changes whenever they want, they can rewrite cards if they need to and they also have their own, fine-tuned system for how drafting works in Arena. MTG Arena is much more "it is what it is" and I frequently get my ass kicked up and down the block by people who just got to draft a couple of combo pieces. It's almost as frustrating as playing against Druid! The expansion is starting to look interesting! I'm looking forward to experimenting with Pirate Rogue, Control Paladin and Odd Mage, although I doubt all of those decks will really pan out.
  5. Hard to say how legitimate the player count is, but it's not that unusual compared to the kind of promo stuff they do regularly.
  6. Arena is good. And I'd argue it is good because it is more like Hearthstone than previous Magic games like Duels of the Planeswalkers.
  7. Bloozzard

    I'm very excited about the idea of a Warcraft 3 remake, but I hope the look of the trailer has more to do with effects being unfinished than a decision to tone things down visually (watching that Blademaster spin around without a whirling orange tornado is so jarring). The original has a vibrant and colorful look that still holds up for me today and the scenes in the trailer have me a little worried we'll get high-resolution textures at the expense of flat colors and less contrast. I guess we'll see. Now I'm not entirely up to date on this, but I believe the WC3 mapping community unfortunately decided to stop updating their maps for the increasingly small patches that Blizzard continued to put out in favor of using a slightly older version as the unofficial reference point. At the very least, I personally keep both a current and a slightly outdated version of WC3 on my PC in order to be able to play different maps, and even so some fall through the cracks (even some that are still being updated). Obviously there is nothing Blizzard themselves can do about it, they can't possibly be expected to make sure every single map out there still works with the remake. That's just why I'm personally more excited about the idea of the mapping community being reinvigorated in general. The creative chaos of Warcraft 3 custom maps makes up some of my favorite gaming memories, but that was at a time when we didn't have real internet at our place and I could only access that magical world through the filter of game magazine DVDs that curated some noteworthy maps for their readers. If people start making maps again and I get to be in the middle of that and try absolutely everything, I would be all over that.
  8. I was reminded of your post when the login reward on day one said "time for big announcements" or some such To be honest, I'm sure the cards will be nice and all, but I'm not really feeling this theme. Warcraft is very much "All Dwarves are Scottish" type fantasy cliches through and through, but it gets uncomfortable for me when they extend that to "tribal" cultures. Not an indictment of you or anyone who enjoys those parts of Warcraft, but Blizzard's version of trolls feel like a borderline-racist caricature to me. Hearing about the new expansion sent my mind back to playing Warcraft 3 and hearing spearthrowers go "Ya mon" when I tell them to go somewhere. Then I watch the trailer for the expansion like, wow, how little has changed in all those years.
  9. I ended up playing from Rank 5 to Legend one month after Spell Hunter quickly boosted me ten ranks over a few days and I thought "oh, I'm pretty close now, how much longer can it be", but 5 to legend really takes about as much time as grinding from 20ish to 5. In the lower ranks, the winstreak bonuses help you climb even if you're really only winning 50 percent of your games so long as wins and losses are somewhat clustered together. The last few ranks don't have these bonuses, so you can easily lose a lot of ground right after gaining it. I was one game away from hitting Legend something like five times only to fall back down again before I finally made it. Overall, don't really recommend the experience.
  10. That could well be true, I didn't look up the details of how it works. Now that all the cards are out, I think Mech Paladin has the most potential because the legendary spell can get you a lot of value and affect the board immediately (if you resurrect Mechs that you gave Rush to somehow). I think Warrior mostly has other options, but still will run a few mechs because Dr. Boom looks good. The Hunter mechs look like a weaker version of the current Deathrattle deck themed around recruiting. I figure there's also going to be at least one surprisingly effective Aggro Mech deck (maybe from a different class) that will make use of Wargear somehow. I think that could be one of the sleeper hits, at least early on before everything stabilizes in another lategame Druid meta.
  11. The deck tracker is surprisingly useful, I first installed it when I had an Arena run with Priest and Grand Archivist, it was really helpful to know if there were still any cheap spells in the deck or if it was guaranteed to pull a Mind Control or Free From Amber. It's also great for figuring out what to mulligan in Arena and to keep track of what secrets you tested for. I feel ya on those legendaries, I decided to run out my pity timer before Boomsday drops so I don't waste it on the guaranteed legendary in the first ten packs. I ended up getting Blackhowl Gunspire, and now I'm pretty much out of gold for the expansion. I'll probably only open about five or so packs for now.
  12. I hope that stuff doesn't get out of hand, that's kind of what's bothering me about the meta already. The last time control was this powerful in the Reno/Kazakus meta, Discover was still really big and there were still a lot of choices to make. Now it's just more and more ways to cheat stuff out for cheap through Oakheart or Hadronox or Kathrena. That feels like a really boring arms race to me, especially since most control vs control matchups seem to come down purely to who draws their combo pieces first.
  13. I've channeled my anger into picking up a Heallock deck and it turns out that going full aggro still has a chance to wreck some control decks before they get to lategame. Basically taking my revenge right now and it got me up to Rank 1 with a 70ish percent win rate. The expansion is looking pretty interesting but I'm still waiting to see all the cards before I make any final calls. My gut feeling is that the tempo cards like that one will be strong and magnetic will end up a little on the weak side.
  14. I've gone back to playing a bit of Ranked and climbed to Rank 3 for this month (my best result ever), but I think I hit a hard wall now. The meta in these higher reaches really makes you feel how oppressive control decks have become since the last nerfs. I usually have a lot of fun playing my Spell Hunter deck because it's sort of in the middle between aggro and control and can pivot pretty well to deal with either (Candleshot and Explosive Trap wreck aggro and Deathstalker Rexxar gives you a decent lategame against control), which also means there's a lot of important choices to make in what to mulligan for and all that. But I've had more and more matches lately where I get close to optimal draws (Candleshot into Secret into Animal Companion into Secret into fully charged Spellstones and To My Side) and still can't get anything done. Big Spell Mage hits me with Dragon's Fury into Blizzard into Flamestrike and then plays Frostlich Jaina and heals back to full. Taunt Warrior uses Brawl and Warpath to clear my stuff and then hits me with Cornered Sentry + Cornered Sentry + Drywhisker Armorer + Drywhisker Armorer + Undead Hero Power for a free 28 armor in one turn. Big Druid doesn't even bother to contest the board in any way since all the armor from Ferocious Howl, Branching Paths and Oaken Summons easily tides them over until they can drop Primordial Drake and Lich King (meanwhile I am hitting them for twelve damage a turn and not even making any progress). This is not the first time we've seen a slow meta with powerful anti-aggro tools, but in the past you still generally had to put something on the board yourself to stem the tide (Mistress of Mixtures, Tar Creeper, whatever), which meant there were ways to play around that and the aggro side had impactful choices when it came to either using their removals early and committing hard or keeping some gas in the tank to carry them over the finish line. Now it feels like there is such a wealth of answers available that you have to have real bad luck not to draw any of them in time. That's not really the fun and interactive gameplay(tm) that I'm looking for in the game. Also, the free2play scrub in me gets a bit grumpy whenever the needle swings too far in the direction of control since those decks usually take a lot more dust to craft.
  15. The build-up to a new expansion is my favorite part of the Hearthstone cycle. I like the slow drip-feed of card reveals and puzzling out which will be good and where they fit into the meta. I don't think the new keywords really matter all that much. Over the last few expansions, the cards with new mechanics tended to be relatively weak on their own (neither Echo nor Rush took off), with the potential to become OP down the line with further synergies. So I'm mostly on the lookout for which individual cards work well with existing decks or are just out of control on their own. The new Mage legendary looks like a powerful choice for Tempo Mages, for instance. From my side of things, it feels like the free2play experience has gotten a little easier recently with more frequent events and reward increases. I've taken up dusting all golden cards and most of the stuff that cycles out, so I started Witchwood with 12k dust. It's a bit trickier in the middle of the year, but I think I'll just get rid of some undesirable legendaries to build one or two new decks when the expansion drops.
  16. Anybody know if that new Magic: The Gathering Arena game is any good? Looking at screenshots of how the board is set up, it seems to be taking some cues from Hearthstone, might be a good place to get back into my original CCG addiction.
  17. I've been playing a lot of Arenas during the recent event for the extra dust from quests (and the influx of extra players usually gives me a better win rate compared to just the experienced crowd), but about halfway through I transitioned to playing Ranked again and used that dust to finish my Spell Hunter deck. Apparently this was right around the time it surged in popularity again so I immediately got accused of mindlessly following the netdeck trends, but whatever, it's a lot of fun and I climbed from 15 to 5 in a few days. I ran into a lot of Hunter decks in general, Spell Hunter and Recruit Hunter, also quite a few Elemental Mages. Not as many Paladins as I would like actually, they lose so hard against Explosive Trap so that match-up is real nice.
  18. I've mostly been playing Tempo Rogue last month, but haven't done a lot of ranked this month yet. It doesn't have a great match-up against Odd Paladin, which has emerged as one of the most common enemies and I don't really want to build something new to answer that at the moment. Getting back into Arena a bit more, but I don't really feel at home with new choice balancing yet.
  19. Between the Hall of Fame transitions and me dusting a bunch of cards from the wild sets, I actually started this new season with about 12,000 dust and invested those into five different decks to try out at the launch party a friend was hosting. Most of these didn't turn out so great, but I am having a lot of fun with the Tempo Rogue deck I built (I got lucky and drew Keleseth in a pack late last year). I'm sure the meta is going to settle into a more limited selection of decks, but at the moment it actually feels pretty varied to me, with almost every class having at least one deck type that I see people running. Paladin has Odd Paladin (and a bunch more) Hunter has Odd Hunter, Spell Hunter and some experimental Dire Frenzy decks. Shaman has Shudderwock decks, both of the control and OTK varieties. Warlock has Cubelock and Zoolock Rogue has Tempo Rogue Priest has Spiteful Priest (and maybe still some forms of big priest?) Druid has Spiteful Druid and Hand Druid. Mage has Crow Mage, Elemental/Minion Mage and maybe still Spiteful/Big Spell Mage. Warrior has Taunt Warrior. It's been a pretty enjoyable shake-up for me.
  20. Slay the Spire: Gettin' Spired

    Draft sounds like an interesting modifier, but I'm worried it will drive my choice paralysis through the roof.
  21. Missions that made you quit

    The Cradle mission in Thief 3 made me quit that game, I'm too much of a wuss when it comes to horror. The rest of the game was also a little spooky, but I was mostly doing okay as long as I could tell myself that the dark was my friend and nobody could see/hurt me. The whole conceit of that mission though is that a spooky ghost is aware of your presence no matter how well you hide yourself and that freaked me out way too much. I didn't quit that game, but I noclipped through large sections of Ravenholm when I first played Half Life 2 for similar reasons.
  22. Slay the Spire: Gettin' Spired

    I completely agree on the daily challenges, I got burned out on trying to push to higher ascension levels since there's a good deal of luck involved in getting a deck that can keep up with that difficulty. The dailies are consistently interesting and it's nice to know that whatever bad picks I am confronted with, I am not alone.
  23. I finally picked this up yesterday, it really is so incredibly satisfying to stare at a seemingly impossible situation until you find the perfect solution. I got two wins so far. The first was a four island clear with the Rusting Hulks aka Vape Squad. I got an extra smoke airstrike for my jet and the leapfrog smoke bomb for my push mech so there was just a ridiculous amount of smoke all over the place. Got pretty close to beating the game with Blitzkrieg but the grid got destroyed two turns before the end. Kinda miffed that even if you get the building immune upgrade for the electric whip, the macguffin still takes damage from it, makes it very hard to use that mech effectively. The second clear was with the Zenith Guard, unfortunately I missed a single objective during the first three islands so I didn't get that achievement.
  24. Slay the Spire: Gettin' Spired

    The daily challenge today is wild. You play as the silent with a random deck of 50 cards, plus 2 Ironclad cards, which gives you a ridiculous mix of everything that still ended up working for me somehow, mostly because of the relics I ended up getting: Tough Bandages - 3 block when you discard a card Dead Branch - get a random card in your hand when you exhaust a card Ninja Scroll - start with 3 shivs in hand Shuriken - get 1 strength every time you play 3 attacks in one turn So by the end of the game I start every fight with 3 shivs plus 2 backstabs in hand and playing those gives me five new random cards. The real star of the show was Storm of Steel, discarding a full hand would give me 27 free block, a ton of free damage and extra strength. I'm pretty sure this deck would have become completely unplayable if combat goes on too long due to all the extra random cards that get mixed in, but it didn't get that far for me and I tried to pick up as much card draw as possible along the way.
  25. Subnautica: Sleeping with the fishes

    The horror aspect of Subnautica is particularly fascinating to me: it's not scary because it forces you to walk through a hallway with monsters, but has sort of a natural push and pull (or ebb and flow, haha) of encouraging you to push out as far as you dare. You can settle in the coral shallows and just build a nice life for yourself, but if you want to go explore and see more of the world then you'll eventually go deeper. Then you run into some weird new fish and you race back to the comfort of your home. It's a weirdly relaxing cycle. The feeling of shelter I get from a tiny base in Subnautica is unlike any other virtual abode I built in the past.