All posts by Noob of All Trades

Shawn Lucas is the self identified "Noob of All Trades". He is married and the father of three boys, two of whom help with their own podcast every couple of months. Raised on Atari, Nintendo, and Sega, he enjoys all games and will play all of them to the best of his ability, which is often average at best. Currently, he is most interested in Magic, Heroclix, and other games that he can play with Chris and his sons.

Fire Emblem GBA: Great, Good, Decent

Introduction

You probably remember that I said that this article would be about the new Fire Emblem game for the Nintendo Switch. Unfortunately, my current gaming budget prevents me from purchasing that right now. But, fear not, faithful followers! I searched for “best Fire Emblem” games. That led me to this page and the game that I most wanted to try on the list was Fire Emblem GBA.

I remember my time with the Game Boy Advance fondly. I purchased no less than three separate consoles including a retro style Super Nintendo motif. I loved the Super Nintendo. It remains my favorite console of all time by leaps and bounds. When Nintendo gave us the opportunity to put all of those game into our pockets, I welcomed that opportunity.

A (Very) Short History with Fire Emblem

In spite of all of that, I never played any of the Fire Emblem games. When I texted Chris after learning about the new Switch game, he admitted to never playing them either. He owned one of them at least. And, the reason he never played it is that it requires a console that he doesn’t own. But, as Chris said, all of the Fire Emblem games come highly rated. So, it surprises me even more that, not even during my emulation phase, I never played a single game. I wanted to remedy that with Fire Emblem Engage. Because, watching a TFT stream earlier, someone mentioned the game. So, maybe the game could finally get me some juice on the page. Alas, we wait at least one more pay cycle for the new one.

I mean, the game looks like the type of games I enjoy. So, for now, let’s enjoy it.

The Decent – Graphics and Combat

Graphics – Look, I understand the age and limitations of the Game Boy Advance. Even with those caveats, this game looks primitive. The color palette ignores about 32,760 of the available colors. The sprites need help, too. It looks almost like a late cycle NES game. Granted, it came early in the GBA life, so I guess that makes sense. Still, the look of the game surprised me from what I remember about the SNES/GBA.

Turn-Based Combat – I’m used to games with more freedom to their movement like Zelda or Final Fantasy. Therefore, I found the limitations of the movement in this game annoying. A minor complaint, especially when you consider that combat works much the same as those games. But, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that.

The Good – Short Prologue and Other Graphics

Short Prologue – When I heard them talking about the new Fire Emblem game, they said something about still being in the part of the game where it tells you sword beats axe, etc. While probably true here as well, the story so far (more on that in a minute) makes it bearable.

Other Graphics – Outside of the main world, the graphics become more detailed. The battles animate each attack satisfyingly. But, the graphics engine shines in the cut scenes. Fully colored and well drawn characters interact to push the story forward in a satisfying way.

Hey, you. You’re finally awake.

The Great – Something New and The Story

Something New – Even though I mentioned Zelda and Final Fantasy earlier, I like Fire Emblem GBA because it represents something new and different from those games. I think I needed that change of pace because now I want to play through this one and as many of the others as I can find. I definitely need the new one now.

The Story: I made fun of the introduction dialogue in that caption up there. But, I kid because I love. Honestly, I don’t know what I’d do if I played an RPG at this point that didn’t start with me waking up. It’s just such a huge part of the genre right now.

The Verdict

I only played through the prologue and Chapter 1 so far. But, I enjoyed what I saw and played. I promised Fire Emblem Engage and delivered Fire Emblem GBA. Other than graphics, I honestly can’t see that there’s much of a difference between the two. But, join me after I get Engage and we can see together what the differences actually are.

Warhammer 40k/Hordes Model Update

Introduction

I speak frequently of my desire to play miniature games like Warhammer. I even went so far as to order a few “mystery boxes” from Privateer Press and a subscription service I just found a couple of weeks ago. Once, about five years ago, I signed up for a beginner paint class at one of the local gaming stores. Last year, I ordered a learn to paint kit from Amazon. All of this done in spite of the fact that I had no time to actually sit down an paint the models. That all changed when I switched jobs. I finally painted two of the beginner models. That gave me enough confidence to write this Warhammer 40k/Hordes model update.

Hordes

The surprise box I got from Privateer Press contained units from the Skorne Command. After finally getting a chance to look at everything, the units included aren’t covered in the codex book. Peculiar. So, without a proper army, I decided to write this post instead of a post covering actual game play. Besides, I bought some games through Humble Bundle that I can play on Steam if I need to get the fix of playing the actual game.

When I finally opened the package containing the units, I cringed. Oh, I thought, these have to be assembled. Unwilling to take that risk at the time, I put them back in the box and promised myself that I’d come back to them. Unlike those promises in the past, I kept it. So, a couple of days ago, I took the risk and grabbed the glue. After examining the contents closer, I thought, this doesn’t actually look too bad.

The result. Honestly, other than one highlord (or whatever, some guy with a fancy helmet) who I ended up throwing away, it went pretty well.

You notice they are still only a “pile of gray plastic” as I saw it referred recently. I still need to come up with a story for the army. Yes, you know me. Nothing works without a good story. I brewed up an idea a couple of days ago. I researched if it makes sense, but found little either way. So, I that as a good sign. As long as it makes sense to me, who cares? Unless I find a play group, who else will ever see it?

Here goes. The unit got cut off from their army in a forest. Their commander (dude with the fancy hat) died from a trap. Ever since, they took matters into their own hands. Dying their armor green with silver accents to camouflage better. I still need to flesh out their mission.

Warhammer 40k

Okay, now the magic happens. Yes, I learned nothing. I might be overpromising and underdelivering with that opening. Nevertheless, I stand by my confidence. I came a long way from that first painting class. While my models still show evidence of beginner’s mistakes, they still look good. And, I even painted these ones!

The green wash caused me problems. But, the rest of the paint job went well. Still minor beginner mistakes like painting the wrong part, but overall, a success. One of the guys lost his arm, so he just grafted a gun in there and continues to march.

The Verdict

I love painting. It brings me zen in the same way that building Lego does. I may not be the best, but I’m getting better and that’s what counts. While this Warhammer 40k/Hordes model update doesn’t talk anything about actual war, look for that in the future. I both found some other models in my box while getting the supplies and ordered a beginner kit that has more Necrons and some other soldiers. So, I plan to put together a couple of armies and march them against each other soon.

2023 NFL Divisional Round Post Mortem

Introduction

I found myself home alone on Saturday as the Chefs/Jags game started. So, I did what any red blooded middle aged American male would do. I listened to the Lumineers on vinyl, built a Lego Lamborghini, and watched the game. My wife and youngest came home from the swim meet during the game, but they went off to their own thing. I watched neither the Iggs/Gynts nor Bungs/BIlls because I knew how they’d end. Fittingly for the losing teams, a true 2023 NFL Divisional Round Post Mortem.

The Lambo in question. Pretty cool set.

I kept an eye on the 9ers/Pokes via Gamecast and the text chain with Jason and Chris. I even started to believe for a bit that maybe the Pokes could pull off the upset. Alas, glad they didn’t because my 9ers/Bungs fake future plus the parlay that I doubled up Sunday morning both still play.

Chefs and Mahomes Play Dead, 27-20

I texted Chris during the game, “Rut roh, Mahomes is hurt.” Then, Chad Henne came into the game and threw a touchdown pass. And, then, Mahomes miraculously came back to hobble/hop/skip his way through some bad passes and ultimately the gutsy win. Tape it, shoot it with painkiller, and get out there, Kid. The NFL won’t make billions without you.

Iggs Silence Gynts and “Sharps”, 38-7

I gave this a sentence or two in the preview. That’s all it deserves. But, my fake tease paid, so that’s nice.

Buffalo Buffalos it Finally, 27-10

I like Josh Allen. I like the city of Buffalo and the Bills. What I don’t like is being right about this team and what it does to my brain. I feel so badly for the city of Buffalo. Cigarette Smoking Man, if you’re out there, remove the curse please. I can’t watch this team rip out the hearts of their fans every year like this.

Pokes Buffalo It, Too, 19-12

Other than the aforementioned and ultimately false hope, and the weird score, I don’t care that much about Dallas or their football team or this game. Like I said, I doubled up on a Bungs/9ers fake moneyline parlay earlier in the day, so I hoped for a 9ers win. Other than that, just go away.

The Verdict

Early in the playoffs, I said how much I didn’t want to see a 9ers/Bungs Super Bowl. Then, on my fake bet sheet, I filled them out as the “likely” combination. With a hobbled Mahomes and an overconfident Iggs team, that might just pay off. Oh well, I never watch the game anyway, so what do I care? 2023 NFL Divisional Round Post Mortem in the books. Conference Championship Extravaganza coming up at the end of the week.

Note: All teams and the single logo used on this web page are the property of the NFL. They are used without consent (written or otherwise), but only in good fun. If you’re feeling litigious, please refrain from throwing your vast legal resources at this small page that caters to my kids, Chris (Hi Chris!) and about 25 Russian bots (Hi Sergei!).

2023 NFL Divisional Round Spectacular

Introduction

In our coin flip post mortem, we worried about the Bills, hated the Jags, Bolts, VIkings, and GIants, and didn’t care all that much about the 9ers, Hawks, Bungs, and Rats. In a shocking turn of events, we liked the Cowboys more than any other team last weekend. I guess all I can say about that is, “Thank goodness Mahomes is back this weekend.” He is the only thing making this 2023 NFL Divisional round spectacular.

On that subject, Christine, Craig, Leanne, and I went to the UMass/UConn hockey game last night. The alma mater lost a heartbreaker, 4-3, in overtime. In spite of that, we enjoyed the game. And what does any of this have to do with Mahomes? Well, Craig and I caught up on our usual sport talk. And, he mentioned that he hated Mahomes. Wait, what? I might have to reconsider this friendship after all these years.

Besides, look at these seats!

Jags at Chefs, Saturday 4:25pm

As it happens, Mahomes plays in our first game. Most people think the Chefs roll. The NFL scheduling department clearly believes that, too. They put this as the Saturday matinee because they know the only people watching then are fans of the teams and the degenerate gamblers. Even though that’s not me, what I say next will give you pause. I put a fake 480 on a KC/Phi 6.5 point tease. Still, I plan to meet Christine and Quinn for dinner after his swim meet.

Gynts at Iggs, Saturday 8:15 pm

The sharps all like New York in this game. Other than the fictional money I just mentioned, I don’t care one way or another who wins this game.

Bungs at Bills, Sunday 3:00 pm

I worry again about the Bills this weekend. Like everyone, I want a repeat of Bills-Chefs from last year. However, as I said to Craig yesterday, while I like Allen, I hate him, too. He thinks he’s Mahomes. It doesn’t need to be said. Nevertheless, after that amazing analysis up there, I need to flesh this section out a bit more. So, let me definitively say, “Josh, sweetie, you are no Patrick Mahomes.” Stop trying to be. Play within your game and you will be fine against the Bungs. Because, if I get mothereffing Joe Burrow in the Super Bowl again, I hold you personally responsible.

Pokes at 9ers, Sunday 6:15pm

If I bet on this stupid sport, I’d put my mortgage on the 9ers in this game. They, by far, come into this weekend as the most complete and healthy (in spite of Jimmy G-sus) team. The Pokes defense, when they want to be, can absolutely smother teams. I don’t see that happening this weekend against San Fran.

The Verdict

Truly, only Mahomes makes this 2023 NFL Divisional Round spectacular. Craig said that any potential matchup next weekend is okay with him. I agreed last night, but must have been high on the potential of the hockey game. Today, in the light of a new day, I want Bills/Chefs and Iggs/Pokes. So, we are sure to get Bungs/Chefs and Iggs/9ers. See you next week for the post mortem and conference championships extravaganza.

Note: All teams and the single logo used on this web page are the property of the NFL. They are used without consent (written or otherwise), but only in good fun. If you’re feeling litigious, please refrain from throwing your vast legal resources at this small page that caters to my kids, Chris (Hi Chris!) and about 25 Russian bots (Hi Sergei!).

Shadow of the Dragon Queen

Introduction

I told the story several times already. This year Christine asked the boys to put together Christmas lists. She requested several items needed and several items wanted. I never ask for anything for Christmas. While I love the spirit of Christmas, I find the actual holiday abhorrent. A day dedicated just to buying stuff? Gross. For some reason, though, I gave in this year and put together a list. On the list, I included Dungeons and Dragons books. I meant Shadow of the Dragon Queen.

Instead, Christine bought me Dragons of Deceit. Initially disappointed, I quickly recovered. Weis and Hickman, as you know, wrote the book. I love Weis and Hickman. Also, I got the idea to record the book club podcast and actually kept a schedule, more or less. Episode 3 comes out tomorrow or Saturday (pending a snow day) with Chapter 4 and 5.

From Disappointment…Hope, Then Disappointment

Because Santa dropped off the “wrong” present for me that actually ended up working out okay, I ordered the source book myself. I kept trying to talk myself out of the deluxe edition with the board game and ultimately failed. What can I say? I’m a sucker for those gimmick board games based on the other successful franchises I enjoy.

I can’t comment on the quality of the game. I haven’t had a chance to even look at it other than the box. It looks interesting and I always like to play those cooperative board games. We played Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time often and everyone joins in. I need to read the rules so that we have a chance to play over February break. Come back in March for my review.

The source book itself underwhelms. I expected a more robust campaign setting updated to 5th edition. Instead, they give us some rules on the special ancestries and subclasses of Krynn for the first few chapters. Then, the rest of the book is simply an adventure. Funny how things change. I remember wishing as a teenager that they released more adventure modules for the characters I built in Dragonlance.

The Verdict

Ultimately, like the novel, I like Shadow of the Dragon Queen in spite of potential warts. The adventure promises to bring some joy to a playgroup either at home or in school. At least Quinn and I will play through the board game once. Christine suggested that I try it with Quinn and his friend Tristan. Okay, plan on meeting here in about a month and a half for that recap.

NFL Coin Flip Weekend 2023 Post Mortem

Introduction

Someone called us out on the page many years ago. They said it focused too much on pop culture and not enough on gaming. After that, I changed the tagline to reflect my “occasional pop culture musings”. During especially active times, that includes movie and TV show reviews. Mostly, I just cover major NFL and college events. One of my favorites ever year is the NFL Wild Card weekend, which I dubbed the Coin Flip Weekend. The NFL, as always tried to upsell us by attaching a “super to the beginning.” I refuse, so this is just a regular old NFL Coin Flip Weekend 2023 Post mortem.

Because, honestly, I found none of the games particularly compelling. I think the most controversial thing I texted all weekend was in response to the Bills-Fins game, “Another choke job in the making?” Buffalo played just well enough to avoid that, but I worry about my boy Josh Allen against the horseshoe up Cincy’s ass. More on that in the preview Saturday morning before the games. I forgot until the last minute about my annual previews of the playoffs. Fear not, fans of Flip! I included all of the prognostications in my post mortem.

This year, we upgraded Flip to a Greek coin, a Silver Tetradrachm Bactria bearing the bust of Eucratides. Blame random.org and my weird obsession with Greek things.

Frisco Spanks the Seachickens, 41-23

Prognostications: I picked Frisco. Flip had the 49ers by a count of 52-48.

I admit to thinking that Seattle might have a shot to pull off the upset. Then Brock Purdy things happened (and who knew at the beginning of the year that we would have Brock Purdy things happening in the playoffs?) and Frisco cruised. But they can never take the fact that Geno Smith outperformed Russell Wilson in a major way and reinforced my belief in NFL karma.

Jags Come Back On the Bolts, 31-30, and Shock the World

Prognostications: I foolishly backed the Bolts. Flip believed, 55-45.

Well, they shocked me. Okay, I woke up mildly surprised after catching up on the text chain and seeing the result of the game. You think I’d have more loyalty to the Jags. One year in fantasy football, riddled by injuries at the QB position, I rode Blake Bortles the last few weeks right to one of my two championships. But, like all of the AFC South (and honestly NFC South this year), the best I can muster is thundering indifference. Honestly, I wish we just sent them all overseas and try the NFL Europe experiment again.

Buffalo nearly Buffalos It Away Against the Fins, 34-31

Prognostications: I picked Buffalo in blowout. Flip split it 50-50 with the tiebreaker going to Miami.

A few years ago (maybe many at this point), Buffalo played against New England. They dominated the whole game only to see Golden Boy and the Pats come back on them in spectacular fashion. The game ended on a muffed special teams play and New England won. All I texted Chris was, “That’s why you’re Buffalo.” And, in spite of having a once in a lifetime talent at quarterback, they are still Buffalo.

Gynts and Vikings Forget Their Defenses, 31-24

Prognostications: I picked the Gynts, along with all of the other sharps. Flip gave the Vikings the edge, 51-49

While that score is not particularly high, this game featured almost no defense. Every time I looked up, one team or the other easily gained 15-20 yards and both teams scored seemingly at will. I mean, we all knew Minny was fraudulent all year, but did they have to prove it so convincingly in the playoffs? Ye gods.

Bungs Break Rats’ Hearts, 24-17

Prognostications: Both Flip and I leaned heavily for the Bungs. Him, 55-45

I picked the Bungs. I even put them into one of my fictional future bets to make the Super Bowl. For what it’s worth, I also threw together a long shot of Rats/Pokes that would have paid off my mortgage if it hit. Then, I tuned into the game and witnessed the mess that all AFC North games become and posted. “I’m rooting for the meteor.” Old rivalries die hard, ya’ll Then, I hoped on hope that 1st and goal from the 2 meant that the Rats would pay my mortgage. Alas, the Bungs somehow scored instead and I thought NFL Gamecenter might be drunk. It happens more than you think.

Pokes Get Revenge for Gisele, 31-14

Prognostications: Both I and Flip (54-46) knew Brady is old, but the old man still puts a spook in us.

I texted something about finally being vindicated because Rodgers missed the playoffs and Brady threw for less than 100 in the first half of this game. The “media” started caping pretty hard for the two old guys late in the season and I’m glad they both got theirs. Jason accused me of jinxing it, which I might have, but not even the powerful Lucas jinx can defeat Father Time.

The Verdict

The AFC gives us some potentially great games. The NFC returns serve with two potential ass whippings. I forgot the Coin Flip preview, but remembered the NFL Coin Flip Weekend 2023 Post Mortem. Hopefully that bodes well for the previews and post mortems for the remainder of the playoffs. Who knows, we might even get a cameo from the original USFL. What’s that? A teaser? Stay tuned and find out.

Note: All teams and the single logo used on this web page are the property of the NFL. They are used without consent (written or otherwise), but only in good fun. If you’re feeling litigious, please refrain from throwing your vast legal resources at this small page that caters to my kids, Chris (Hi Chris!) and about 25 Russian bots (Hi Sergei!).

Red Dead Redemption II: Cowboy Up!

Introduction

I never played any Grand Theft Auto. Imagine my surprise then when GTA 3 released. I searched and found the first two games were top down racers. Then it made sense why I never played them. But, I played the heck out of 3 and then Vice City. I stopped playing during the San Andreas days. I actually forgot about Rockstar Games until the first Red Dead Redemption. Then, over Christmas break, I remembered that I owned Red Dead Redemption II.

I know the game doesn’t technically fit into the New Year, New Games theme of the month. Liam watched me play briefly and said, “This game looks really good. Makes me even madder that Pokemon is so buggy.” I replied, “Yeah, and it’s a four year old game.” But, I only recently discovered and started playing it. Plus, I needed another digital playground article for the month. And, so, Red Dead Redemption II gets included. Besides, it’s my page. I can do what I want.

Humble Beginnings

I thought I might not even get a chance to write this article. As I played through the tutorial and introduction, I got increasingly irritated and more bored. Then, during the chase quest, after I failed, I restarted the entire quest. Christine remarked when I said how much I liked the game, “Oh yeah, it sounded like it as you swore at it this morning.” But, once I figured out how to start the specific quest and not the whole chain, it got better.

Plus, I got to play with the lasso a bit more in that quest, so no harm, no foul.

I only finished a few more quests. I got to the part where the snow finally starts to melt before Aiden took the XBox back upstairs. As a result, I probably won’t play much more Red Dead Redemption II until Febrary break. Quinn and Aiden both have commitments (soccer for Aiden and swim and scouts for Quinn), so we won’t travel during that break. We planned on going to Niagara Falls for April, but nothing in February. I can come back then to update on my progress.

The Verdict

Initially, I joked that Red Dead Redemption was just GTA with horses. After playing it, I enjoyed it so much more than I ever liked GTA. Other than GTA 3, I never beat any of those games. I played the original RDR until I beat it and then I played after to finish up some other Easter eggs in the game. I probably bought RDR II shortly after that. But, with the XBox in Aiden’s room most of the time, I never played it until this past Christmas. I plan to bring the XBox back downstairs during February break and you better believe that I’m going to play cowboy during that week off.

Failing Up(?) in Pathfinder Solo

Introduction

A few weeks ago, I received an email from Humble Bundle. It contained information to receive a free (or discounted) copy of the Pathfinder Beginner Box. Always on the lookout for new games (especially since we are in New Year, New Games), I filled out the required information. The shipment came a week or two before Christmas. I spent part of Christmas looking through the set and learned about the Pathfinder solo adventure.

Like the D&D counterpart, it comes with some premade characters, an abbreviated version of the player’s handbook and dungeon master’s guide, a set of dice, and additional character sheets. Unlike Dungeons and Dragons, it also includes a solo adventure for those of us with no friends. Okay, that’s not entirely true. Quinn likes to play RPGs with me.

Choose Your Own Death

I took some time the other day to play through the adventure. In fact, it took far less time that anticipated. The Pathfinder solo module runs like the old choose your own adventure games with some dice rolls mixed into the fun. Obviously, the mode lacks role playing. Unless you count the “WTF Dice” comment that I put in my notes as I was playing through.

Proof. Also, that “dead” there is not for me. But, it didn’t take long…spoiler alert.

Okay, I think I got ahead of myself a bit here. First, I needed to find the adventure. I lost the insert that told me where to go, so I searched online. That brought no answers. I finally found it after looking through both books in the box. Then, I started. It played like a choose your own adventure at first. Do I want to search for the thing killing wildlife for 10 gold? You betcha! Then, suddenly, I found myself in combat with a mangy old wolf.

Wait? Do I need to use one of the character sheets? I picked Wizard at first until it felt like keeping track of spells might be too much for a newbie like me. But, no, no character sheet needed. They give you all of the relevant information in the adventure. Okay, wolf, no problem. Dead in one round. Do I want to continue? You bet I do.

A giant snake? Ha! I laugh at the “challenge”. Also dead in one round of combat. But, the dice low rolled me a bit. Take this as a warning adventurer. Between this and the RPG calendar, solo adventuring amplifies bad luck. You can’t rely on your party members to help you out when things go wrong.

Things went wrong quickly. I disturbed a living statue. The dice rolls blew up in my face both ways. The statue killed me in spectacular fashion. Go to #17, the book instructed. “Yeah, you’re dead”, it said. No saving throw. No do over. Just died. But, hey, try again, loser.

The Verdict

Overall, I mostly enjoyed the Pathfinder solo adventure. I missed the interaction with other players and role playing aspect of the game. But, the action moved quickly enough to keep me interested and rotten dice rolls gave me the necessary danger to make it exciting. I think I might take another shot at it. Also, seeing the structure of the adventure inspired me to put together a series of my own to go with the duos I developed for me and Quinn.

Teamfight Tactics Update 2023

Introduction

A few weeks ago I wrote about possible mobile games to add to my daily rotation. For those wondering, Marvel Snap made the cut. I even paid for the “deluxe’ battle pass or whatever that includes 10 levels. It gives me exactly what I want. An IP I’ve been following my entire life since becomign a teenager. A quest chase that takes no more than 15-20 minutes. Just enough strategery that makes every match interesting and unique. What other game can give me that? As today’s Teamfight Tactics Update 2023 shows, certainly not the topic of today’s article.

So, why take the time to write an entire article about the game? Well, just because TFT lacks the qualities of Marvel Snap doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the game. In fact, I took quite quickly back to playing it and played it nonstop over the weekend, both in anticipation of writing the article and because I genuinely enjoyed the game.

So, Why TFT?

My enjoyment of “autobattlers” goes back to one of the originals. I kept hearing about Dota Auto Chess a few years ago. I played some Dota and League of Legends, but stink on ice at both games. My favorite story is when I famously played 5 games of LoL and only won one single game and that’s because one of the players was friendly and helpful enough to just carry the rest of us on his back.

And, I’ll bet you do, too.

But, I figured, “I like chess.” Why not check out this game that has the word in it’s title. It instantly hooked me and before long, I actually chased some fame and status in ranked. Then, something happened. I think they updated the game and started inundating me with paid content. As with most of you, once a game does that, I lose interest quickly. Sure enough, I played less and less.

Through some research, I found Dota 2 Underlords and TFT. I liked TFT more. The graphic style and colorful characters kept my interest far better than the grimy surroundings of Underlords. Quinn hung out with me during my gaming time often then, too, and he preferred TFT as well. Then, something happened. This time I think my gaming PC crapped the bed (again). Either the mobile app didn’t exist or I didn’t own something capable of playing it. To be honest, I still don’t My phone screen is way too small for my old eyes and the app taxes my poor tablet.

After exploring my options, I tried both Underlords and TFT. This time, I actually preferred Underlords. I quickly discovered that Valve more or less killed it. I downloaded Autochess to check that one out. But, I haven’t been patient enough to let it download the data to get started. And, so, TFT became my main autobattler again.

What About Battlegrounds?

Okay, I play Battlegrounds way more than I ever play TFT. But, for the time begin until the patch hits, I load up TFT for a few games every night. It helps that I dropped the 13 bucks or whatever for their battle pass. So, cart before the horse, that gives me motivation to keep playing.

I started with Hyper Roll. According to my research, the games went faster and you farmed battle pass XP faster as a result. Personal experience shows that isn’t entirely true. Playing normal often pits you against only 3 or 4 actual humans and either bots or AFK players in the other slots. As a result, getting a victory there becomes much easier since you basically just have to have a functioning brain to get top 4 or above.

I enjoyed Hyper Roll, especially when I got a top 2 and thought I might finally have gotten the hang of it. The game quickly disabused me of that notion and I fell back to my usual 5 or 6 spot. That’s when I looked up to see if completing quests gives me credit in normal. It does, so I main normal now.

The Verdict

It took me longer than usual to accept TFT into my normal rotation. I suspect that without the battle pass and my discovery of normal, it might end up rotting or getting deleted after writing the article. As it stands, writing the article inspired me to fire the game up to check on my quests. My Teamfight Tactics update 2023 finds the game healthy and firmly in my rotation at least until I evaluate the next version of the battle pass.

The Voidspark Chronicles: Humble Beginnings

Introduction

Once upon a time, I refused to purchase anything through a link in Facebook. Then, I bought a pair of Pittsburgh Penguins mittens only because they came with a Bernie bobblehead. I also purchased a couple of Funko figures that took forever to arrive. So, I thought my decision to leave Facebook out of future purchases vindicated. Then, an ad came across my Facebook and I fell for it again. I clicked on the link for Sundial Games and their 2023 quest desktop calendars. For 40 bucks, I got a set of dice, some dry erase markers, and a day-by-day calendar with a solo RPG adventure attached. And, so, on January 1, 2023, I embarked on my Voidspark Chronicles humble beginnings.

Since January has the theme of “New Year, New Games“, that brings the perfect opportunity to talk about this unique idea. Before that, I want to say something. The calendar sits on my desk and not one of my students asked about it yet. That’s surprising since they usually stick their noses in all of my business. Oh well, probably just a matter of time.

Rules and Character Building

Rules? Who needs rules? The only rule is that you ignore all the rules and play however you want. What’s this? You need to refer back to the previous day to resolve today’s story. Hmm, maybe I will take a look at those rules after all.

To be fair, that’s the only rule that you need to follow. The rest of it more or less comes down to your capacity for and forgiveness of bad dice rolls. More on that in a bit. Speaking of dice rolls, at least in the beginning, they streamlined character creation. You roll a d4 and that becomes your bonus for each stat. Then, during the course of the story, you get your inventory and you’re off.

Escape, Combat, and Near Death

So far, I engaged in combat twice and made a decision twice. The first combat went smoothly. I killed both sentry drones without a scratch. I also escaped my prison quite easily with a single Dexterity roll to pick the lock. Man, I thought, this stuff is easy.

I know better. Don’t ever piss off the dice gods. They smite without prejudice those who do. Over the weekend, I failed a dexterity roll and then took two blasts to break down the door. Then, today, I came close to dying in combat because my dice rolls came out on the low end. Hell, I “cheated” a bit by allowing myself 3 rolls to free someone else from being captured and twice to find a med kit since I used the other one to heal after nearly eating it.

The Verdict

My Voidspark Chronicles humble beginnings give me all the joy of playing a role playing game daily. They also bring the same frustrations of low dice rolls. As I proved, those are easily countered by “do overs”. Maybe I need to limit myself to one “do over” per day because otherwise, what’s the point of rolling. Just take the loot and move on to the next day. In any case, I’m glad that I bought the calendar and look forward to each day’s next adventure.