Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Games Made Me: THAC0

Back in 2013 I had this idea to blog about gaming experiences that "made me" the gamer that I am.  I posted the first "Games Made Me" post and then failed to create any other (even though my mind is swimming with topics).  Real Life has gotten in the way of blogging for the last... oh... six years or so, but a recent jaunt back into Dungeons and Dragons with my son resurfaced a Games Made Me topic.  That topic is THAC0 (To Hit Armor Class 0).

THAC0, in it's simplest explanation, is a calculation to determine whether an attack hits or misses in 2nd Edition Dungeons and Dragons (D&D).  Read more about THAC0 in this excellent Reddit post detailing it's history.  That post does it better justice than what I could write here.

Armor Class was a carry over wargames played by the creators for D&D; applying the "armor" of a ship or tank to the "armor" of a fantasy hero.  A method was needed to determine whether an attack could breach that "armor".  THAC0 was the answer and also a simplification of previous iterations of  "to hit" tables from those wargames.

As a simplification it to it's wargames origins it made sense.  Tables in the D&D books helped outline baselines across class and level.  Math was not required as the expectation was that THAC0 was a value that was written on the character sheet and referenced against the tables.  When rolling a D20 for an attack; players would know what they needed to hit.

The challenge comes in when you take into consideration the amount of shifting that occurs during a typical D&D encounter.  The player character's values as well as the monster values were subject to constant change.  Player's would receive buffs that increased attack strength or that changed armor class values for their target.  With each change in number came a new change in THAC0 calculation.  A good D&D group needed a proficient player that could calculate THAC0 reliably through any number of variable situations.  Otherwise the session would bog down as pencil and paper were whipped out (a hard to imagine scenario with the current state of tablets and smart phones).

For my D&D group in high school I was the THAC0 calculator.  My mind was built to focus on detailed rules like THAC0 and to ensure they were executed correctly.  A major difference between classes in D&D was their calculated THAC0.  It ensured priests were not going to be as effective combatants as warriors.  Screwing up THAC0 calculations (often purposely) allowed classes to be the combat hero.  Enforcing THAC0 correctly ensured that classes that were not meant to be hack'n'slash super stars relied on the other defining aspects of their "role".  The benefit being better "role"playing.

My THAC0 calculator mindset extended into other aspects of the rules.  I was known to crawl through class, weapon, and other rules to "keep the table honest" (as I was known to say).  With that approach I became known as the "rules lawyer".  That moniker followed me through numerous editions of D&D and even as THAC0 became a thing of the past and was replaced by much simpler "base attack bonus" modifiers I found other places to focus.  Most recently with D&D 5E and playing with 8-12 year olds (father/son group) I've stepped right in to make sure the barbarian is using rage in every battle, that the bard is providing inspirations, that players are using that inspiration when applicable, or that our rogue isn't forgetting to apply advantage on attack rolls.

This rules lawyer (or alpha gaming) approach has been part of who I am as a gamer.  It is likely evident to anyone that has followed this blog for any amount of time.  While video games don't require someone to stay on top of all the calculations and rules there is always the analysis of what is best combination of things that result in the best outcome.  I have the tendency to insert my opinion in those combinations from time to time.

It is hard to say whether having to be the THAC0 expert for my group made me into this style of gamer or whether I was destined to be this way.  I would bet on the latter, but at the same time I can trace my gaming roots back to THAC0 as it influenced my view on where I fit into games.  THAC0 made me the gamer I am today.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review - The Pictures

In part one of my review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi I will use the following pictures to describe my thoughts:

In part two I will put down some words.  Until then; happy new year (apparently my new trend will be to post Star Wars reviews as the first post of the year).

Saturday, December 30, 2017

How I would change The Last Jedi (Spoiler Alert)

Warning; rambling and poorly organized thoughts below.  Lots of spoilers (duh!).

Top changes I would make to The Last Jedi (and that I honestly think could have been made keeping most of the key plot points and footage).  End result would have been a passable movie.

Lightsaber toss is changed into Luke handing it back to Rey and walking away.  Luke is really just testing Rey's patience as Yoda originally did to Luke.

Leia dies in space sparking Luke to cut the Yoda-crazy-act and train Rey.  Bonus points if Luke is lead to believe Kylo Ren pulled the trigger (even though he didn't).

Rose never happens.
Canto Bight never happens.
Dreadnought and bombers in space never happens.
Hacker guy never happens.
Slowest space chase in history never happens.
Super-super Snoke star destroyer never happens.  How about the First Order shows a bit of set back from having lost a planet-sized base!
Yoda never happens.
Frog people never happens.
Universe spanning mind link never happens.
Luke flashbacks to trying-to-kill Kylo never happens.

Resistance escapes directly to the salt planet and activate the defenses.

Rey/Luke sensing the impending doom of The First Order having the remnants of the Resistance trapped on the salt planet fly off to save the day.  However, due to being cut short on time to train together they have a disagreement on how to proceed.

As they arrive at the planet Rey jettisons herself from the Millennium Falcon.

Snoke sensing Rey's arrival tells Kylo Ren to bring her to him.

Luke and Chewie are forced to escape to the planet and meet up with the resistance.

Snoke pits Kylo and Rey against each other.  First, he trigger's Kylo's teeny-angst by planting false lies about Rey's parentage and how Rey is his better.  Second, he trigger's Rey's emotion by telling her that her parent's were nobodies and that she is just a pawn to the force filling a vacuum.

Rey and Kylo have an epic fight before realizing that Snoke is playing them.  They turn on Snoke to kill him but have to go through the red dudes to get it done.  Snoke is greatly amused by the fight assuming he can kill the weaker of the two and keep the other.

After Rey and Kylo finish the red dudes Snoke utters a bad ass one liner like "good, use your anger".  Then Kylo realizing he is forever limited by Snoke (the same as he was limited by the weakness that was his father, Han) turns and kills Snoke.  Before Snoke goes down he utters "if you strike me down I will become stronger than you ever could know" setting him up to return in the next movie.  Kylo slices Snoke's head off.

Rey can't convince Kylo of her viewpoint and vice versa Kylo can't convince Rey of his.  Kylo traps Rey and finds out Luke is on the planet.  In a rage he takes an invasion force to get Luke.

Rey escapes and heads to the planet.

Luke fearing that Rey has been turned to the dark side fights to the death on the planet surface. Kylo and Luke have the most amazing lightsaber duel all the while Kylo is taunting him about Rey.  Kylo takes a wicked face hit forcing him to forever keep his mask on in future movies.

The Resistance hope-o-meter goes bankrupt as Luke falls on the battlefield and they escape into the tunnels.

Surprise, Rey is OK and saves the day.  The Resistance's hope-o-meter is full again.
Ending scene is Kylo donning his mask and going "Noooooooooooooooooooo!!!!" as the Millennium Falcon zips into hyperspace.
End credits.

Where are Finn and Poe during this movie?  Keeping the bromance going and working to keep the remnants of the Resistance from imploding under the doom and gloom.

Phasma?  I actually sort-of-like Phasma being a running meme in each new Star Wars movie.  A slow roll of her trying to squash out the "bug" that is Finn would be epic.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Rolling Dice in Star Wars: Edge of the Empire

Looking for my insight on The Last Jedi?  Sorry, haven't seen it yet.  In the interim my Star Wars time has been spent playing the tabletop role-playing game (RPG), Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Beginner Game by Fantasy Flight Games (FFG), with my 8-year old son.  I made the purchase to bring in a change of pace for a father/son Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) group we participate in.  I have not yet brought it  to the table with that group, but after a few hours of game master (GM) practice with my son running multiple characters I am excited to give this a go.

The first thing to note is that this tabletop RPG is not a D20 (20 sided dice) based system like D&D.  The dice are custom dice specific to this system and function in a different manner than a D20 based system (or a D6 system for that matter).

The unique dice

In the D20 system the narrative culminates with a single dice roll deciding the fate of an action.  Then, more dice are chucked to derive a number for things like damage or how much gold was found. 

For example; "Reed decides to attack the goblin."  The player playing as Reed rolls a D20 to determine if they hit/miss.  "Reed hits." The player now rolls more dice to determine damage.  Any number of interesting things may have happened leading up to this point but ultimately it all came down to that attack roll hitting.

In the FFG custom-dice system the roll (of multiple dice) is ahead of the narrative and decides the choices that the players and GM get to make.  Each roll results in multiple outputs; first the number of success symbols compared to the number of failures.  If there are more success then the action is a success; more failures then it fails. 

Success/failure is not the end of the roll as there are also symbols for threat and advantage.  As with success/failure both threat and advantage cancel each other out.  If there are more advantage than threat then something good can happen for the player or GM rolling; alternately more threat means something bad may happens.  This allows for the possibility that someone could be successful at a task but have something bad still happen because of it.  Or alternately they could fail at a task but have a positive side effect. 

This opens a huge opportunity for narrative choice for both the players and GM.  For example; "Reed decides to aim and attack the stormtrooper."  The player playing Reed rolls a dice pool and fails (more failures than success) with three advantage (three more advantage than threat).  The roll has now opened a door; the attack misses but Reed has a choice (or the GM has the choice) to decide how that advantage impacts the narrative.  It could be a "game" element such as recovering a point of strain.  Or it could be a "story" element such as "Reed is surprised when the blaster bolt ricochets off the wall and still hits his target." because it was important to the narrative for Reed to hit in this situation.  (+3 advantage is like rolling a natural 20 on a D20... and anyways Han didn't shoot first... he rolled a failure with advantage!).  Like the D20 example any number of interesting things could have happened before this roll and those interesting things could influence choices for either success/failures or threat/advantage.

The D20 aligns more with a "game" while the FFG system aligns more with a "story" and for a gamer that leans more towards the role playing side of tabletop RPGs I find the FFG system a better option.  It does put the onus on the GM being good at thinking on their feet and not defaulting to the same result for rolls (i.e. every failure with advantage can't be a ricocheting blaster shot).  The system also moves the narrative forward in new and interesting ways instead of the static this/that way of the D20 system.

In the next post I will cover my thoughts on how the unique dice mechanic translate to the rest of the game and compare combat, movement, and abstract vs exact representation of the game world.

Friday, November 24, 2017

2017 Black Friday Gaming Deals 2017

It is Black Friday once again and that means we all go about spending money we've saved up all year on the games we love to add to our queue and never get around to playing.

A few gems from the Steam sale (which technically has been going on all week):

Stardew Valley $10.04
Firewatch $7.99
Just Cause 3 $7.49
Tabletop Simulator $9.99

Board Game Deals
Note: friendly reminder to keep tabs on BGG's Hot Deals forum.

Caverna: The Cave Farmers $57.90  -- This is an exceptional price for a game that is not regularly discounted.  There is easily $90 worth of components in this game alone!  With the savings here I'd get the box organizer for this game from Broken Token.

Planes $19.99 -- Another exceptional steal and appears to be going fast.

What do you meme? $20.99 -- If you have a Internet-geeky circle of friends then this is a great party game.  This is on the daily deal via Amazon so limited time offer.

Barnes and Noble is holding a buy one/get one 50% off sale on board games and puzzles.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Why I'll probably buy Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire

Arena Net is counting down towards Sept 22nd and the launch of Guild Wars 2's (GW2) second expansion; Path of Fire.  The game continues to be the last-game-standing of the post-World of Warcraft AAA MMOs (and deservedly so).

While I have not played GW2 in a while (PLUNKBAT having stolen much of my time recently) I am still likely to buy this expansion.

Why you might wonder?

The answer is simple; there is no subscription or "pay 2 win".  I can come back to GW2 whenever I want and pick up where I left off.  Sure I may have to invest some time in reading up on the most recent meta builds or grind out some mastery skill, but for the most part GW2 is pick up and go-go-go for any returning player.

This is the number one redeeming quality about GW2 and reminds me of days gone by when games were games and not just a series of money-sucking crates, DLCs, keys, etc.  So I will likely buy Path of Fire and jump back in for a few dozen hours and then I'll shelf GW2 as I always do.  Then I'll wait for the next expansion.

I would encourage anyone else pining for the days of MMOs gone by to do the same.  Companies like Arena Net deserve our support for making quality games with upfront costs in a world of get-your-first-hit-free-but-pay-up-in-the-end.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Star Wars: Rogue One Review

Since seeing Rogue One (twice now) I’ve been thinking about Star Wars Galaxies (SWG), the ill-fated Star Wars MMO.  A key moment in my history with SWG was in response to a comment from the developers stating that “no one wants to play a moisture farmer”.

As a longtime poster on the SWG role-playing forum I argued that this mentality was wrong.  There were tons of players that wanted to exist in the Star Wars universe as something other than a Jedi, smuggler, or bounty hunter.  Players wanted to be that moisture farmer.  I wanted to be that moisture farmer. 

I was and continue to be a Star Wars expanded universe junky and this is why I found Star Wars Rogue One to be my favorite Star Wars movie of all time.  With it’s menagerie of characters, locations, and fan service indulgences Rogue One is a movie that diehard fans can place themselves in.  Maybe you are one of the protectors of the Jedi temple on Jedha?  Or a two foot tall member of Saw’s rebellious band? Or maybe you are one of the various imperial roles featured on Scarif?  Maybe even a black armor wearing Deathtrooper!  Personally, I am the space farmer being bothered by some imperial bigwig.

As much as Rogue One is a movie for the want-to-be moisture farmer, I can see why casual fans and regular movie goers would be less enamored with it.  I could write a lot about this, but it’s easier for me to point you at Red Letter Media and Mr Plinkett’s thoughts on the matter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJgfxlgUIZY  In short, for a movie review, I agree with Mr Plinkett.

However, as the Star Wars super fan, none of what makes for an underwhelming movie matters. The feel and look of the movie is consistent with the originals.  The acting, while not perfect, doesn’t detract from the experience (case in point; go back and try to watch the acting in Episode 1,2, or 3).  The movie delivers an expansion of the new cannon that fits right into the old.  Basically, they didn’t screw it up and that is what matters for me.

I can handle the conflict when I agree with critical reviews such as Mr Plinkett’s and still make the statement that Rogue One is my favorite Star Wars movie.  I don’t believe for a second that Disney intends to make Star Wars movies for fans like me.  Rogue One is a happy accident for fans like me and I am comfortable with my love for it.

A quick thought on The Force Awakens and Starkiller Base

I never wrote a review for The Force Awakens.  If I had, one of my chief complaints would have been that of Starkiller Base.  While I loved the movie I could not bring myself to rationalize Starkiller Base.  The Death Star (1 and 2) were big deals, not just from the perspective of the rebels, but from the perspective of the story and plot.  Starkiller Base, while a big deal to the “new rebels”, is nothing but a stolen plot point from the original trilogy and multiplied by three (ITS BIGGER AND SHOOTS MULTIPLE BEAMS!!!).   It did NOT fit the story and did nothing more than fill a spot in the “soft reboot” formula which is why the wise Mr Plinkett dinged TFA in the story category.

With Rogue One in place I have an even harder time buying Starkiller Base.  Rogue One provides incredible depth to what seemed silly in A New Hope (a moon sized super weapon taken down by a shot to an exhaust tube).  The movie goes a long way to show the struggle and loss endured to start the wheels in motion for The Rebels to be able to destroy the Death Star.

Looking at TFA; Starkiller Base appears, fires, and then is subsequently destroyed through an even harder to believe series of events than the exhaust port.  A series of events that has no way to ever be explained in a clever way as Rogue One was used to flesh out the weakness of the first Death Star. 

This is because TFA goes out of its way to plant explanations in the movie: Finn having worked on the planet and knowing how it can be destroyed, Phasma being able to turn off the shields, the Millenium Falcon warping through the planet’s shield, and Starkiller Base having the same functional weakness as the Death Stars.
Rogue One really ruins TFA for me because of this.  However, I know it doesn’t ruin it for the average movie going public.  Just as I love Rogue One because I want to be a Star Wars space farmer I know that the rest of the general audience loves TFA because it’s a good movie.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Overwatched Overwatch

Overwatch, Blizzard’s first foray into the shooter genre, is the best team-based shooter since Team Fortress 2. It is also a brand new intellectual property; a rare and dangerous thing in a world of annual sequels.

Overwatch was not a guaranteed success (even with Blizzard behind it). Gamers don’t need to look any further than EA Bioware and “the game that shall not be named” to know that studios with even the best pedigree can drop a stinker when venturing into a new genre. I say this all up front for the simple fact that no amount of advertising, hype videos, 9.5+ million open beta players, or past history with Blizzard games was going to convince me to care about this game. It was a shooter from an RPG/RTS company.
However, then came the word of mouth via live streams (something I’ve really only recently started enjoying since Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns launch), podcasts, and a myriad of Youtube videos. Before long I had overwatched Overwatch to the point where I figured I was better off playing it than watching it. Then I found out the basic game was only $40, came with all the heroes, and had no plans of a League of Legends style monetization scheme. I couldn’t enter my Paypal information fast enough (yes, I use Paypal for purchases).

Like most Blizzard games it takes only a few minutes to realize how much a player is going to enjoy the game. On first load the game drops the player immediately into a tutorial that is quick and efficient at getting the player oriented. After the tutorial the player is given the option to continue to a practice match against the AI or to skip to the real deal. I opted for the real deal.

Before making it to the “real deal” I quietly enjoyed the snappiness of the main menu screen. I was able to quickly jump in and out of settings, the heroes gallery, loot box screen, and other menu options. This minor feature did not go unnoticed by this gamer. After my experiences with the Star Wars Battlefront open beta where the slow-loading menu screens locked up repeatedly and more recently with the work-in-progress Tastee: Lethal Tactics problematic menu it is refreshing to launch a game where the menu just works.

A couple clicks and I was in a game via the quick play option. I noticed that I was dropped into a game already in-progress. Overwatch is very good about refilling empty team slots that open during the middle of a game due to disconnects or rage quitters. Players that end up filling these vacated slots receive a nice experience bonus for finishing out the game.

Feeling overwhelmed by the number of hero choices I settled on Soldier 76 which is the character used during the tutorial. I felt familiar enough with 76’s abilities (sprint, rocket, and machine gun) to have confidence I would be helping and not hurting my team during my first game. Overwatch does not lock players into a single character choice for each game. While in the spawn area players are free to change their hero which results an ebb and flow of team composition throughout the life of the match.

I nabbed a couple quick kills and I was hooked on the game. In a couple minutes the game finished out with our team securing a victory. I noticed a +1500 EXP “first win of the day” bonus and watched as my profile leveled up. I played several games back to back and make quick progress through the levels.

I noticed while leveling up that I was earning loot boxes. I took a break in the action to navigate to the loot box screen. From my DOTA 2, Guild Wars 2, and TF 2 chest experiences I had expected the need for a key to unlock the loot boxes. To my surprise there wasn’t any key requirement in Overwatch. I was allowed to open the loot boxes free of charge. A bunch of voice lines, sprays, and icons popped out as I opened the boxes and after about four loot boxes out popped a new skin for Soldier 76. These small trinkets really don’t intrigue me, but it was a pleasant surprise to land a new skin for a hero I was playing regularly (not to mention that there was an equip now option on the loot box menu saving me from having to click around the hero gallery; another small touch of polish in the menu system that did not go unnoticed by this gamer).

After a couple dozen games I am enthralled by Overwatch. Blizzard has “done it again” so to speak. It’s amazing how Blizzard was able to take on the massive undertaking of a new game genre (for the company) combined with a new intellectual property and be this monumentally successful with it on day one. The open beta hit 9.5+ million players. I can’t even fathom how many players are in at launch. All of this with none of the trappings of the “free 2 play” standbys. Pay once and play; the way games have existed for decades. Count me in.

A couple wrap up items:

Overwatch has an astounding eSports grass roots campaign already. Blizzard is not new to eSports and it’s obvious they intended for eSport leagues to feature Overwatch as a primetime feature. Yet it is amazing how the eSport community has dived in head first all the way back into the beta periods. Overwatch is an immediately watchable game as a spectator and I look forward to where the scene goes.

Secondly the game runs like a dream. Whether on my four year old desktop gaming rig (AMD CPU and Radeon graphics card) or on my several-years-aging Alienware laptop (Intel CPU and Nvidia mobile graphics card) I’ve experienced zero glitches or performance hitches which is a welcome surprise as I’ve been traveling since the game’s launch and have had to play on my. My only hiccup has been the game not saving my preference to launch in fullscreen (which I think is related to having multiple monitors).

A quick note on the hero Bastion: he is not overpowered. However, I will agree that Bastion is a problem. In my view Bastion is simply not interesting. He is a strong solo character that doesn’t spur any sort of interesting teamplay dynamics. For this reason I think something has to change, not because he wrecks newbs and steals plays of the game from more deserving players, but because he doesn’t fit in the structure of the game in my opinion.
Favorite heroes to play

Zenyatta – I have a mixed history with support characters. Towards the end of my Dark Ages of Camelot career I had gotten comfortable with the Migard Healer class becoming an invaluable player for many solid groups. In Shadowbane I primarily played support hybrids. In World of Warcraft I played shaman but grew to prefer the DPS shaman playstyle instead of healer. In Warhammer Online I took a step into the tank role as an Ironbreaker. In Team Fortress 2 I often found myself playing engineer or medic preferring to stay out of the chaos. All of this history to illustrate that I have a penchant for support roles in games so it should not be a surprise that I fell in line with Zenyatta in Overwatch.

I would classify Zenyatta as a “buffer/debuffer” support class. He is able to apply a passive heal buff on a team mate or a damage-increase debuff on an enemy. The buff only lasts while the target is within line of sight which keeps Zenyatta in balance (in previous iterations the healing buff persisted even outside of line of sight which allowed the Zenyatta player to hide while still providing a strong healing presence on the front line). Additionally Zenyatta is equipped with a strong, yet slow firing and slow traveling, attack. Between the buff/debuff and strong attack it makes for a very enjoyable character to play.

Add onto this Zenyatta’s ultimate ability which turns him invulnerable while healing everyone within the immediate area and it is easy to see how key this support hero is to your average team. I’ve had my most memorable games while playing Zenyatta and teaming up with a tank character.

Junk Rat – This hero is equipped with a grenade launcher, trap, and remote-detonated mine. Junk Rat is geared towards defense, but can be extremely effective during aggressive pushes thanks to his ultimate ability that can clear a room in a heartbeat without putting the player in danger. After executing his wheel of death ultimate the player is warped back to the initiation point and can continue with the push. With practice a Junk Rat player can land direct hits with the grenade launcher for devastating direct damage. Add in the trap and remote-detonated mine and this is a very competitive character.

Junk Rat is also one of the few heroes where I don’t feel like there is a hard counter. If an enemy shows up that can hand Junk Rat his junk a skilled player can adjust their play style to counter. This is not to say Junk Rat is overpowered, but simply well-rounded instead of specifically focused.

I’ve had some amazing “play of the game” moments captured with Junk Rat. In one play I was able to thwart a team push by diving in dropping my trap and mine just in front of the push and detonating as soon as the rush tripped the trap. This activated my ultimate which I was able to quickly pop in the middle of the mayhem and a short hop later detonated for a double kill.

Torbjörn –  The TF2 Engineer reimagined in Overwatch. Torbjörn builds and upgrades turrets and then spends the match chasing spies and snipers… err… I mean Tracers and Widowmakers away from destroying them. Properly placed turrets, just as in TF2, are a lynch pin of defense. And unlike Bastion, Torbjörn brings a host of interesting team dynamics from the ability to provide armor upgrades to his dual purpose ultimate either providing a critical turret boost at a critical moment or allowing the player to unleash massive direct damage OR DO BOTH!

I have to admit though, honestly, the only reason I play Torbjörn is when I am stuck on a bad team and am sick of the backline getting cut up by highly-mobile characters. A turret placed just behind the frontline can do wonders for keeping harassing offensive players out of the backline.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

What I'm Looking Forward to in 2016

2015 is gone, 2016 has arrived.

Here is a quick list of a few things I am looking forward to:

1. Green Bay Packers play off games.  The packers are in the play offs once again and I am hoping for another magical run.  This year's team has been in  funk to end the season, but I truly believe in "any given Sunday".

2. Progress on Kickstarter projects I've backed.

Camelot Unchained (CU) is progressing; slowly.  I am looking forward to the work that Mark and team get done this year and hoping for my beta access by year's end.

Crowfall feels like it is moving along faster than CU, but that may just be the "making of" documentary style of communication that Crowfall is using to keep us up to date.  I am looking forward to many of the concepts behind Crowfall.  Another hopeful beta by years end.

Secret Hitler is, by all accounts, an impressive party board game that solves many of the faults of games such as The Resistance.  This is pretty much a guaranteed 2016 delivery and I look forward to playing it with friends alongside rounds of Good Cop/Bad Cop and Batman Love Letter.

3. Back into Minecraft.

"We found a giant cave in Minecraft!" The quote, from my six year old son, warms this gamer's heart (pun intended).  I am back into Minecraft as my son begins his journey into a game that is as magical for him as it was for me when I first picked it up.  Minecraft is one of the best games I've ever played and I am stoked to be sharing it with my son.

4. Guild Wars 2 wealth building

I tipped over 4,000 gold in Guild Wars 2 (GW2) in 2015 and thats just liquid gold.  If I counted total account value of what I've dumped into ascended gear, gem purchases, and general non-frugal spending I am sure its in the tens of thousands of gold.  Maybe in 2016 I will get back to actually playing through content (I've only done a single zone of the expansion and still have yet to complete my personal story and have not unlocked any of the full spec lines).

I hear that there is a huge World vs World (WvW aka wuvwuv) update coming.  As WvW was my first passion in Guild Wars 2 (and my first heartbreak) I am interested in what Arenanet pulls off.  From some of the leaked information (sorry no links to the leaks) the approach using Guild Alliances instead of arbitrary servers that no longer exist (due to the megaserver tech used now) is interesting and exactly what I've recommended for over a year to bring the "Guild Wars" back to Guild Wars 2.

I am also interested to follow the PvP leagues.  I am not dedicated enough to make any decent progress in the leagues myself, but I do pride myself in so far having a > 50% win ratio in the lowest bracket.  The PvP balance of GW2 is interesting and best equated to watching the pro Magic: The Gathering (MtG) scene.  There is overpowered team comps currently just as there is overpowered decks from time to time in MtG.  Casually observing the developers as they fix these situations has always fascinated me even if I am not "in the meta" myself.

5. Maybe blogging?

I may blog a bit again in 2016.  Anything is possible in a new year!

Saturday, October 03, 2015

No Man's Sky with Colbert

Easily the best video game preview on a late show ever. Love the idea of this game; hate the name.