I have still been plugging away at Hearthstone, and I am starting to see the practice pay off. Not only do I have a better awareness of what cards are out there, but also I’m learning how to anticipate what my opponent could do next.
While I’m finding that much of getting better is just playing a ton of games, adding cards to my meagre library also helps a lot. In the past week I’ve gotten a second Faerie Dragon, a second Equality, my first Power Overwhelming, and the Cairne Bloodhoof legendary.
Generally I’ve just been dropping 100 gold on a card pack every time I get it because I don’t really enjoy Arena, or perhaps I just don’t enjoy being terrible at it. I should probably math out whether the benefits of Arena rewards in the 0-3 wins category is worth the extra 50 gold.
I’ve been using Arena Value as I make my decks to get pick suggestions and more easily track the number of minions and things. It’s helpful, although occasionally you run into something like this:
The two decks I’ve been enjoying the most lately are aggro paladin and control mage.
I just took out 1 Blessing of Might for a Blessing of Kings, replaced a Novice Engineer with a second Equality (my card draw is pretty good with the Divine Favors), and removed one Wolfrider for a second Faerie Dragon although I’m debating that one. I want to craft a second Leper Gnome to replace that Shieldbearer — seriously me, why is that in this deck? — and add the new Paladin secret, perhaps replacing my last Blessing of Might.
My other favorite deck started out as something tailored for Heroic Naxx boss fights — if I don’t have any minions, you can’t zap them! As it turns out I find many of the Heroic fights to be too dependent on the perfect card draw in the first couple of turns to be my thing, but this deck is still so much fun to play in Constructed even if it’s kind of wonky.
The obvious upgrade here is crafting Azure Drakes, probably to replace the Ogre Magis. I also wouldn’t mind a Pyroblast for the sheer fun of playing it if for no better reason.
Got any tips for me? And what decks are you enjoying right now?
There were a few events this week that got everyone pontificating about game journalism and bias. I’m not going to get into the specifics of the events because they involve harassment and violation of privacy*, but at issue is potential collusion between game journalists and developers because of personal relationships.
I mentioned on Twitter that I don’t care about relationships between journalists and developers and someone replied that if video games are ever to be taken seriously, we need to “hold journalists to the highest ethical standards”. And after much thought I decided that.. yep, still don’t really care.
I mean, yes, if you’re being paid to write a glowing review of a game I would in theory like to know that it is a paid opinion piece. But honestly what are game reviews if not a series of biases and opinions? X is too hard, Y is boring, Z is a shooter and man I do not like shooters. I may have enjoyed A in a vacuum, but I played B last year and it was a way better example of the genre.
I don’t agree with every movie critic — I either read multiple critics and see what the general consensus is, or I read enough of a critic to know how their tastes align with my own. While technically completely objective game reviews exist (note: satire!) they’re also boring as hell.
Also consider that 95% of “game journalism” is not actually journalism, which I don’t mean as an insult but just a fact. What we call journalism is often actually criticism (in the literary sense), or blogging, or reviews, or in the case of YouTubers “playing a game while screaming at a camera”.
So while I appreciate that there should be a line of distinction between article and advertisement, I also appreciate that it just doesn’t matter enough to be all hardline about biases.
A bunch of folks were worked into a real lather yesterday about protecting the sanctity of game journalism but .. it’s just a game. Does the sports Twitter community get all worked up about impropriety in sports journalism? Do movie buffs rage when they see a movie critic hobnobbing with Hollywood execs at an Oscar party? (They might, I honestly don’t know, but it seems unlikely and kind of silly.)
It’s not reporting on a war, or covering world politics, or doing a crime expose. If a game gets an extra dose of publicity because the dev has a personal relationship with a journo… so what?
Game nerds can get hung up on a pursuit of ultimate objectivity, as though without those nasty opinions and feelings we can finally all agree that our favorite game is the Best Game Ever. But it’s an impossible goal and it wouldn’t be very interesting even if it did happen.
There are roughly 18 billion professional and amateur people writing or making videos about games every day, myself included. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
* Readers, not that I think you would do such a thing, but just to be clear I am so very not interested in having a third party discussion about a young woman’s sex life.
Jaysla over at Cannot Be Tamed has put up a gaming questionnaire on her site. I’m not sure if this was intentional, but her timing is perfect as a whole bunch of us Blaugust folks are getting near the end of the month and potentially our topic wells are starting to run a little dry.
There are 21 questions so I’ve decided to split up my answers over two days.
- When did you start playing video games?
The first minute I could get my hands on them! I think I was probably 5 or so when my neighbor got an Atari 2600.
- What is the first game you remember playing?
Burger Time, on the above mentioned console. After that was probably Montezuma’s Revenge on my uncle’s console.
- PC or Console?
PC, baby! While growing up my family didn’t really have the money to buy a console, although we’d rent them sometimes. It was easier to justify getting a home PC for the educational benefits. I grew up a PC gamer, and I’m set in my ways.
- XBox, PlayStation, or Wii?
I currently own an XBox 360, a PlayStation Vita, and an original Wii. The XBox came with the TV I bought almost a decade ago now. I got the Wii and attendant Wii Fit thingy a couple of years back, used it for about a month, and then stopped. I still love my Vita, though, and use it exclusively for playing old PS One games.
That all being said, I’m planning on buying a PS4 during the holiday sales! It has some good games coming out and I like all the indie stuff Sony does.
- What’s the best game you’ve ever played?
Oh man, that’s a tough question. I guess it all depends on your definition of “best”? I’ve put more hours into World of Warcraft than any other game. Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee was the first game that I ever truly loved and it will always hold a special place in my heart for that. If I could only take one game with me to a desert island, it would have to be SpaceChem because I could play it for a million years. I can’t pick just one!
- What’s the worst game you’ve ever played?
Ugh, I hate anything that does wacky physics, like Surgeon Simulator or Octodad. It was amusing for like 2 minutes in QWOP but now just stop it, industry.
- Name a game that was popular/critically adored that you just didn’t like.
SKYRIM. I HATE SKYRIM. I’ve tried like three times and every time I rage quit because I get lost in a cave or spend an hour hiking up a mountain only to be eaten repeatedly by a yeti and just like screw it man! Screw it.
- Name a game that was poorly received that you really like.
While I totally agree that the “both sides are equally wrong” message was dumb and racist, a lot of critics called Bioshock Infinite one of the worst games of the year for all kinds of reasons aside from that and I don’t agree. I liked the combat, I liked the setting, I liked Booker and Elizabeth, and the ending is one of my favorites in a game — thoughtful, sweet, and a little sad.
- What are your favourite game genres?
MMOs, RPGs, puzzles.
- Who is your favourite game protagonist?
“My name is Commander Shepard, and this is my favorite protagonist on the Citadel.”
A bunch of folks on Twitter this morning were lamenting the fact that playing a game on the “easy” setting is somehow considered not true gaming by people who care about that kind of thing. And they’re right — I’ve seen this attitude, and it’s silly.
Coincidentally I was going to write a post about this subject anyway because over the weekend one of the first things I did in Saints Row IV was turn the difficulty down to what they call “Casual”. And I’m not sorry! I had been playing the game previously in co-op, but now as a single player I wanted a relatively similar level of ease.
There are plenty of games that I play because they’re challenging. Binding of Isaac has no difficulty option, and it’s a great game. Cook Serve Delicious starts to get pretty crazy at higher levels, and it’s also super fun. Hotline Miami is designed for you to die over and over again until you learn where the dudes are in each level.
Playing these games also often stresses me out. And that’s okay, because that is what they’re designed to do — push you with challenges, encourage you to play hard, and make you feel extra awesome when you do a great job.
But when I play Saints Row, for example, I don’t want a challenge. I want to dress up like a hot dog and shoot aliens with a ridiculous gun. And if I’m playing Dragon Age I’m not in it for hardcore combat, I’m in it to explore the world and experience the story of my travelling companions.
If an MMO player focuses on levelling and crafting and 5-mans, they’re still an MMO player, right? If a gamer plays games on the easy setting, they’re still a gamer.
Also straight up, often the whole “easy mode players aren’t real gamers” argument is levelled at women as a sign that yet again they don’t count. It’s easy for us ladies to feel guilty if we move the difficulty slider down because, ugh, we’re living up to the stereotype.
But screw that noise! You wanna be a gamer? Do you play games? BAM, I dub thee gamer. Case closed.
I’m under the weather this weekend which means sooooo many games.
In Hearthstone I got knocked out of my guild’s tournament (although I’m still playing in the runner up bracket). I suspect I’ll end up solidly in the middle of the pack, which frankly is about where I belong. I felt like I was making great strides in the last few weeks and this week.. somehow I got worse? I dunno, I feel like I have two great aggro decks (Pally and Warlock) but I can’t seem to make a control deck that works. It’s frustrating. On the upside I do catch myself being more aware of what my opponent could play, so just playing in general is helping.
In WildStar I hit 50! Finally! I won’t dwell on this too much because I’d like to dedicate a post to it, but I’m excited to work on all the things I’ve been putting off while I still had to level. (Helloooooooo housing.)
I also played Saint’s Row IV long enough to remember what the buttons do and how awesome it is to superhero parkour around Virtual Steelport. Writing yesterday’s post also got me to boot Tropico 4 up again and then I played it until 3am as usual. I promised myself that I could buy Tropico 5 once I finish all of the Tropico 4 missions, and while I’m 75% of the way there it’s still quite a number of hours off…
I really need to start writing down neat things I read all week because by the time I get to Sunday I totally forget everything.
Simcha of the delightful new(ish) blog Simcha’s Many Lives has started doing Let’s Plays using captions and American Sign Language. Her first video is of indie game The Bridge.
Aggro Range writes about how to spot blog design issues with your Google analytics. I know sometimes it’s not cool to care about that kind of thing in amateur blog circles, but I find optimization really interesting!
Gamasutra on the most torrented games in America.
8bit Kitchen launched this week! There are a ton of posts there by a slew of amazing bloggers. Check it out! I contributed my small batch napa kimchi recipe and a beginner’s guide to preserving jams and pickles.
Tomorrow is slow cooker pulled pork day, so expect a BBQ sauce recipe on 8BK later in the week!
I’ve taken a Fringe break somewhere near the beginning of S4. I’ll get back to it soon. In the meantime I started watching Burn Notice on Netflix because it has Bruce Campbell in it, and it’s.. okay? I guess? Okay honestly it’s not very good but I like shows with glib spies so I’ll probably watch a few more episodes before I get totally bored.
I don’t want to get into a detailed discussion about this because it’s not the time or the place, but there has been a lot of bad news this week coming out of Ferguson, MO, including police brutality and the death of a young man, suppression of rights, and just years of systematic racism in action. The fellow below did a man-on-the-street interview for a livestream on Friday night and knocked it out of the damn park. I noticed that he’s gotten about 3,000 Twitter followers since this talk, so clearly I was far from the only one who was impressed.
The Rad Brad played the Silent Hills teaser. It’s pretty terrifying. (Also thank you, Brad, for not having a stupid facecam.)
I’m not sure how I missed this until now but the Retsupurae guys had a panel at the Rooster Teeth con, and they were really funny. If you like the medium of Let’s Plays, you’ll enjoy this.
- My ultimate steam time sinks
- A lore noob watches the Warlords of Draenor cinematic
- Cat Context 57: mmo malaise, Destiny, Twitch TV changes
- Talking to depression
- Podcasts I listen to, August 2014 edition
- Introducing the 8bit Kitchen blog
Although Blaugust is hard and I admit to not being that excited to come up with a post some days, I actually think I’ve done some pretty solid pieces of writing this week so maybe there’s something to it after all.
There is no specific comment highlight this week, but instead I want to thank everyone who commented here or on Twitter or through email on the post about depression. I was really scared to hit that “Publish” button, but I really appreciated hearing from people who have experienced the same thing, or who just wanted to throw in their support. It meant a lot. Thanks for reading my non-game posts when they happen.
Google’s “Auto-Awesome” photo processing was again legitimately awesome this week, turning a bunch of photos into this great gif of my sneaky cat Spike attempting to steal treats from my other cat Binkley:
Meanwhile on Twitter:
Sesquipedalian Dong is my new band name. We do hard rock covers of Childish Gambino.
— Jessica Cook (@Liores) August 15, 2014