Category Archives: Digital Playground

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CFP National Championship 2021 Post Mortem: Great, Good, Decent

Introduction

Only a week late on this CFP National Championship 2021 post mortem article. You might say that means we’re getting back on track. While I won’t argue with you, I urge caution. I still need to start the gaming content for the new year. I took those weeks off to do comics and then college football and the NFL. I still have to write this article. Then, I will do the divisional round post mortem tomorrow. After that, I need to figure out my schedule for the rest of the month.

I bought some horror adventures to play D&D with the family. Also, I have been playing a ton of Minecraft. Both are games.

As mentioned in the caption above, I have a couple of games to get me through January. So, after this CFP National Championship post mortem and tomorrow’s divisional round post mortem, I will prepare some content for Minecraft, Dungeons and Dragons, and Mortal Kombat 11. In addition to the Aftermath story, I want to show off my new PC Minecraft world. The family actually gave me a chance to play D&D the other day. We played Clue two days in a row. Not really in the mood to play the second night, they asked me what I’d rather play. For a second, I considered mentioning D&D. Instead, I caved and we played Clue. Oh well, there will be other opportunities. Okay, apologies to those of you who are here for the college football. Let’s get on to the CFP National Championship 2021 post mortem.

Note: I will go through the preview article point by point and give my response to each of them.

The Great

Evil Empire is Back: Though I found myself actually rooting for Alabama (which, coincidentally, I think I mentioned might happen), they are absolutely the Evil Empire of college football again. Craig, who hasn’t responded to my apology for blowing off his invitation to join him for the game, texted me something about college football resembling women’s college basketball where only two teams can win. I think he’s right. The committee proved that the year that Alabama lost 2 games and still made it into the playoffs over other teams. Oh, they did lose Sarkisian. What? They’re replacing him with Bill O’Brien? Man, eff Bama.

Justin Fields: Fate chose him as the Bama slayer this year. He looked to be super human against Clemson when he took an absolute shot that left me horrified and wondering again why I watch this brutal display, especially with kids who aren’t even getting paid. Then, he kept the Buckeyes in the game for the first quarter before the Evil Empire unleashed the Death Star in the form of DeVonta Smith. Valiant effort, young man. I hope you heal so we can see what you do in the NFL.

The Good

Covid Bowl: At the beginning of the game, I kept my promise to root for chaos. I hoped for a national champion with less than 10 wins. As mentioned above, DeVonta Smith ensured that wouldn’t happen. Faced with the futility of this particular wish, I accepted our reality and ended up cheering for the Evil Empire to just end it all and blow us all up.

No Fans: Reading the preview article, it surprised me how much I said about this topic. I guess I said it all, though, because I have no follow up for this article. I barely even noticed the lack of fans at the game.

The Decent

No Halftime Show: I thought I might miss the halftime show. I actually enjoyed a few of the CFP halftime shows. Maybe not more than the NFL as they have finally figured out their demographic for the halftime show and lean into it. As you probably figured out, I actually did not miss the halftime show. I barely even noticed the lack of a show. Instead, I enjoyed my extra time with Herbstreit, Fowler, and Des.

More of the same: I just want it known that I nailed this one. OSU played good ball for a quarter (I think I said they might be competitive for the first half) before Alabama’s talent took over and they blew the Buckeyes off the field.

The Verdict

Thanks for reading my CFP National Championship 2021 post mortem. Especially those of you who come here for gaming content. I promise it is coming soon. Just give me one more sports article tomorrow. Then, after that we will resume gaming content for the month until the weekend and the conference championship games. As far as this game, it went exactly as I expected. Even so, I enjoyed watching and I look forward to the draft and next year’s college season. Maybe Covid will be more under control by then.

Mario Kart 8: Games We Love

Introduction

I think I mentioned last week that we might take this week off. Then, I got an idea to talk about the games that we received for Christmas. Little did I know that this was the year that we only got Mario Kart 8 for Christmas. Oh, I did find Mario and Rabbids while I was organizing my closet, but I don’t think that one is going to be worthy of a post.

It’s only been three days and I already have a rivalry with this mofo. So, yeah, Mario Kart 8 is going to be heavily played.

Not so with Mario Kart 8. We’ve played several rounds every day since Christmas. Heck, Christine who barely plays games (I mean, she’ll bug me about a round of Mortal Kombat 11 now and then but that’s it.), jumped in for a couple of circuits with the boys last night. Then, she talked about playing again today after dinner.

Okay, now that I’ve started this article, I’m not sure how I’m going to structure it. Generally, I do a “Great, Good, Decent” review. However, I have branched off more into other formats like top 5 lists. I don’t know if I actually have 5 reasons that I love the Mario Kart series so much. But, let’s find out.

5 – Trash Talk

Before this version, the last time I played Mario Kart was at a faculty party in the basement of one of the staff at the time. This was probably 10-12 years ago, so the statute of limitations has run out. If that sounds sketchy, you’re not alone. As a 45 year old father of three, I’d definitely give younger me a smack bottom for that decision. So, what’s the point of this particular story?

If you are patient, I’m getting there.

As often happens with this game, I sucked the first few circuits that we played. It always takes me a bit of time to adjust to the strategies. Then, I start winning. That’s what happened here. And, I let everyone know it. Trash talk is just a part of that winning strategy in Mario Kart. Last night, for instance, I shouted, “Whoever just hit me, your mom’s a hoe.” Mind you, this is while I was playing against two of my sons. Luckily, the shell came from a computer player. Otherwise, that could have been more awkward than just my 9 year old laughing and repeating the line.

4 – Easy to Play (Hooks Non Gamers)

Actually, the easy to play line is a lie. The game is difficult and complex for new players. However, twice during this vacation, we got non gamers to play the game with us. The familiar characters and cartooony graphics fool people into thinking that it’s an easy game. Then, once they play, they have fun and eventually adapt their own strategy.

Hit them sick tricks, Noob, and pwn the competition.

My wife, for instance, who never plays video games (other than the aforementioned occasional round of Mortal Komat), actually asked to play this game again. Sure, some of that is because we have two teenagers and a preteen and family time together is precious. But, still, any game enjoyed by the whole family is a winner. We came close with Minecraft. And, I think she might have asked the other day for someone to teach her how to play that. So, who knows.

3 – Familiarity

I keep insisting that I feel no effects of nostalgia. And, yet, I keep listing nostalgia as a reason that I enjoy these games. Hey, you don’t come here for consistency in analysis? If so, I’m afraid you will be sorely disappointed. Just look at my various articles on Hearthstone for evidence of that.

I mean, the Reno game where he transformed sure lethal into random murlocs is just the latest of my salty rants that ended with, “This game is BS. I’m uninstalling.” That, of course never happened. And, actually, I think the tantrum that ended with my busted phone came more recently.

I don’t have burning nostalgia for having played Mario Kart as a kid with my brothers like I do with some games. I don’t even have fond memories playing in high school with friends like I do with other games. But, I do have my “frat party” memory. Plus, the characters are all familiar faces from my childhood. That’s where the nostalgia really kicks in for me.

2 – Supreme Memes

My kids figured out early that I don’t care much for the strategy of this game. I mean, I don’t care much for any game theory. That’s especially true in this game. I understand that different characters, vehicles, wheels, and parachutes have different abilities. I just don’t care.

Thanks to YoshiMan for the image

Instead, I try to look for the most ridiculous looking builds. That’s how I’ve landed on Dry Bowser on the standard bike with the roller wheels and Peach parasol. Last night I tried another meme with the teddy bear car and wooden wheels, but that turned out poorly for me. Back to the old stand by. It is truly the Supreme Meme build for me.

1 – Playing with Kids

I already eluded to this in my introduction. Since the entire family has been playing, this is one of those games that I’ve been able to play with the kids. Regular readers of the page know that’s my number one reason for enjoying games. Any time the kids show an interest, I will go crazy investing in that game.

When Aiden and Quinn were into YuGiOh, I spent a stupid amount of money on cards for them that they really wanted. As often happens, that phase didn’t last long enough to warrant the money spent. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. Also, who knows. Their interests recycle, so there might be another YuGiOh phase in our future.

The Verdict

When texting Chris, I said, “I’m sure we’ll play Mario Kart 8 non stop during this break.” Sometimes I say those things and they don’t come to pass. So far, this one has. We’ve played at least 3 circuits once a day. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Sure, we might slow down next week when school starts, but I have a feeling there will still be weekly Mario Kart nights to go with our board game nights.

Console Game of the Year 2020: Mortal Kombat 11

Introduction

How weird is it that our console game of the year 2020 actually came out in March 2019? I mean, if you’re at all familiar with our page, it isn’t that weird at all. We are nothing if not unabashedly retro in our sensibilities. Something about this year dragged me kicking and screaming into a more modern gamer. Chris, however, remains steadfast in his commitment to retro gaming and I love him for it.

I know that “No H” is not cool anymore and I completely agree. Is bromance still acceptable?

True to gaming in 2020, MK11 reached its “final form” over a year and a half after being released. In April, Aftermath came out to continue the story, gave us friendships and new stage fatalities, and added three new characters. More recently, Kombat Pack 2 gave us 3 more new characters. So, you could absolutely argue Mortal Kombat was better to us this year than last.

It feels like I just wrote the article in that last paragraph. Well, I have a couple of days to rework this article and get it published.

Console Game of the Year 2020: Humble Beginnings

If you told me last year that I’d pick Mortal Kombat 11 for this article, I’d not have believed you. I received the game as a gift from a friend. In a true dink move, I didn’t touch it for the first few months I owned it. Actually, it wasn’t a dink move. Not consciously at least. The XBox was upstairs in the game room that became Aiden’s room. I was busy with school, too.

You’re probably tired of hearing that. But, it’s true.

Finally, after those few months of gentle reminders by said friend, I logged into the game. Not entirely understanding how the game might be different from the previous few iterations, I played a few games. Yep, this is Mortal Kombat all right. For good and for bad. Little did I know how much this game would come to dominate my life over the next two years.

Console Game of the Year 2020: Familiarity Breeds Contempt?

Not at all in this case. My friend gave me the version that came with Kombat Pack 1 already included. All the fighters were there for me. Sure, in some cases, I had to download them. Also, Shao Khan and Frost both cost and extra 5 dollars. Now that I think about it, the Frost thing had to be a classic Ed Boon MK troll because you unlocked her simply by playing through the story mode. Everyone was there, though. All the classics like Johnny, Sub Zero, Scorp, and my favorite Liu Kang. Throw in some Newbies like Kitana and Jax. Finish with a sprinkling of the next generation, Cassie and Jacqui. It’s all wheat and no chaff.

5 bucks for Frost? GTFOH.

Getting back to that story mode. Eventually, it hooked me on the game. I don’t remember how or why, but I moved the XBox into our bedroom and started playing the story mode. I wrote a review for the story. That’s how impressive I thought it was. Once the game got me hooked, my friend mentioned that you could “AI” the towers. Once I discovered that, I played the game daily to get those sweet, sweet cosmetics.

Console Game of the Year 2020: Aftermath

As happens with any game, I grew tired of beating the same towers over and over again simply to rise in the ranks and get a single new skin for being in the top 5%. I rediscovered Diablo 3. Quinn and I started an epic world in Minecraft. MTGA grabbed more and more of my attention. Because of Covid, I spent more time obsessing over online learning.

I simply had no time for Mortal Kombat 11. Then, Aftermath released. I did two videos (two of three or four this year, so more than recent years!) reacting to the trailer and friendships. The new characters got me playing towers again to get new skins. A weekly Kronika quest kept me logging in on a regular basis.

Console Game of the Year 2020: Summer Lull and Kombat Pack 2

Eventually, I tired even of the regular loot from Kronika and the towers started to repeat again at a nauseating rate. I played more Pokemon Go and went for 2 hours walks to kill the time. Don’t forget Diablo 3 and MTGA. There’s only so much Mortal Kombat one person can take. My limit is apparently a couple of months before I start to stray again.

Clearly, Ed Boon realized that and released Kombat Pack 2. I reviewed this last month. Ever since the release, I’ve played daily again to get the last month of skins on the Towers of Time. Except for yesterday, I’ve been grabbing the Kronika vaults again. It just completely slipped my mind. Damn, I’m sad now. Oh well, maybe there will be another way to get the items. Or, maybe I just won’t sweat it too much. Okay, what was I saying?

Oh yeah, it seems like every time I get bored with the game, something new comes along. It’s similar to the CCG treadmill. They can’t keep this going forever on MK11. And, it seems like this last Kombat Pack might be the last unless there is a surprise announcement early next year. However, it just feels like they’ve milked this cash cow dry.

The Verdict

Mortal Kombat 11 has some new strategies to it. I’m not capable of executing many of them. Hell, I’m still stuck on the Raiden combo in the tutorial. But, watching more and more streams lately, I can see that they’ve included a deep and rich fighting engine. It’s no Tekken or Virtua Fighter. But, it’s better than bully your opponent into the corner and juggle cheese.

The inclusion of new guest stars have kept the game fresh. Plus, I still have to play through the Aftermath story. There’s enough to keep me going in Mortal Kombat 11 until at least the spring when the weather starts to get nice or I buy a PlayStation 5. Even though I played much more Hearthstone, Mortal Kombat 11 is, by far, the most fun I’ve had with a game in the last year.

Console Look Ahead 2020: A Year of Gaming

Introduction

In our last article, we reviewed our 2020 in console and PC gaming. You probably noticed one big omission from our list. That’s by design. Every week, we’ve done a look back, a look ahead, and then crowned the game of the year for mobile, tabletop, and now console and PC gaming. This article will take a console look ahead 2020. Luckily, both Sony and Microsoft released new consoles recently.

Why doesn’t Microsoft just go with the traditional numbering?

That’s right. The long (?) awaited XBox Series X and PS5 hit the market last month. Before I go on, allow me some time to vent. Following up on my question in the image, “Why does Microsoft insist on such difficult naming convention for their consoles?” If they wanted to be different and pretentious, there are always Roman numerals. I wonder how many kids are going to get the wrong console because it’s the XBox Series X, but there is also an XBox One Series X. I found this out as I was researching this article. Okay, rant over.

Honestly, at this point, there’s no point in reviewing specs for the two. As my 13 year old has already discovered, both consoles are essentially the same in that regard. “Dad, why do people fight about Sony and XBox?” I’m not sure, Buddy, other than people just need to fight about things. I say, “Life’s too short. Enjoy all the things.” What, then, will I discuss? Honestly, I’m not sure. I’ve never been this close to actually buying a “next gen” console this close to launch date. Discover with me what this console look ahead 2020 is going to be.

Sony PlayStation 5

For the 5th generation of Sony’s famous PlayStation (I know that because it’s called the PlayStation 5), they’ve gone with a sleeker design than previous generations. I honestly have no idea why. Every other PlayStation has been a brick and we’ve liked it!

Dating myself with this reference. But, what else is new?

If I’m being honest here, I find the design off putting. I’m not usually much of a traditional American. However, when it comes to my consoles, I like them like I like my women. Thick and beefy like bull. Uh, I may have revealed too much with that comment. Forget it was ever said.

Moving on, Chris mentioned in one of our conversations that he prefers PlayStation to XBox. Because Sony is primarily a Japanese company, they give access to obscure Japanese fighting and RPG titles that he likes. I’m not as familiar with those types of games. However, there are some exclusive titles like Last of Us, Ratchet and Clank, and especially Spider-Man that I find intriguing.

Microsoft XBox Series X or S or SX or SSX Tricky (another timely reference)

I mean, seriously. Again, I’m not usually one to criticize a name (unless it is stupid, outdated, and racist). But, what the hell is that name? It makes it sound like there have been 10 of these things. Given all the redesigns and such, maybe there have been. Also, what is the S? Small? Who the hell knows?

That reminds me. I haven’t even discussed that aspect of the consoles. In addition to the “main” release, both companies have designed a digital only version of their consoles. Chris and I planned to get together to talk about this in the latest attempt at getting the podcast up and running. But, and check off this bingo square again, life got in the way. This time it is much more serious than anything in the past, but I do hope we get a chance to talk at each other more about this soon.

Regarding the Series X, look at that monster. It’s like Microsoft finally just shrugged and said, “F**k it. If we’re going to build a PC, here’s your PC, ingrates.” That thing is a monster. It will be the only thing left in your house with the cockroaches after the nuclear fallout or the supervolcano under Yellowstone finally blows. The Series S is much more dainty like the PS5.

Aw, who’s a cute widdle baby console?

Now, about those exclusives. It does feel weird having a console war about exclusive software. But, honestly, what other differences are there at this point? I bought an XBox one simply because at the time it had Minecraft because Microsoft had just acquired Mojang. They can no longer say that. I think you can play Minecraft on your toaster at this point.

And, this gives me the chance to share the Doom printer video once again.

That’s not to say that they don’t have exclusives. There’s Halo (shameful Noob admission here, I’ve never played it), Gears of War (which Chris and I love for couch coop), and Forza. I looked up Forza a few weeks ago when someone reminded me of Gran Turismo (my all time favorite racing game besides the one Chris showed me where you could pimp your car and street race). Honestly, though, that PS lineup looks stronger.

The Verdict (Console Look Ahead 2020 ended up just being a discussion of games)

Time to wrap up this console look ahead 2020. Technically, I guess it is for 2021 since the consoles came out for the Christmas holiday and, if I get one at all this close to launch it won’t be until February or March at the earliest, but we’re not much for technicalities around here. We are for run on sentences though and that one was a doozy. Sorry, focus, we’re almost done here.

Like I said, it feels weird to Bloods/Crips over software, but here we are. I do like Gears of War for couch coop like I said. I’m not a Halo guy and I tried Forza but it didn’t grab me. Sony has Ratchet and Clank, which Liam said he’d play. Last of Us is my FOMO game of the last two years. Plus, Spider-Man. Need I say more? I will. I just learned that Gran Turismo 7 is scheduled for next year. Sony it is. But, all of this conversation is moot because we all know Nintendo has the best exclusives by far.

Console Look Back 2020: A Year in Gaming

Introduction

In this “final” week of 2020 here at 2 Guys Gaming, we’re starting with a familiar refrain. Similar to mobile two weeks ago and tabletop last week, I’m going to do a console look back 2020. I put final in quotes because I currently don’t have anything planned for next week. That may change depending on how motivated I feel after the holidays. However, I’ve been really good about updating this page for this year and especially the last few months.

I deserve a little R&R.

Besides, I have to get ready for the re-relaunch of the podcast and the re-re-re(?)-relaunch of the YouTube Channel. Also, who else can stream myself playing terrible games while making equally terrible dad jokes? I know that some can do either, but I’m confident that I’m the only one who can do both. Be on the lookout. 2021 is going to be 2 Guys Gaming’s year. Oh crap, we weren’t supposed to say that. Never mind.

Ah, who am I kidding? I will get some ridiculous idea or another to fill next week and we’ll all be here to do it all again. Perhaps I’ll review some of the new games we get for Christmas (even though that is tentatively on the schedule for January). Maybe I will convince the family to try Dungeons and Dragons again (if I can ever find my adventure I wrote). Oh, actually, I’ve got it. But, now, you just have to wait in suspense to find out what it is. For now, let’s dive into the console look back 2020. Note: I’m going to include PC in this as well, but the titles are already getting too long for my SEO optimizer.

Diablo 3

Long time readers of th epage know that I have a love/love relationship with Torchlight 2. It is even the topic of a now lost (thankfully in retrospect) episode 2 of the original podcast. I played Torchlight 2 far more than any of the Diablo games. Until Diablo 3. I think I bought it after Chris and I did some couch co-op at his place.

At first, it took some time to get used to the XBox controls. I also played the Marvel ARPG, Marvel Heroes, a ton on the PC. The controls on the PC for these types of games are just so intuitive. Easily and fully customizable, too. You can customize your build on the XBox, but the controls are not. They take some getting used to. I nearly stopped playing the game altogether because of the controls.

I kept playing. The story hooked me and we all know I’m a sucker for good story. The loot impressed me. I’m not usually one for loot, but Blizzard does a good job with their loot and cosmetics. I kept playing. Then, one day, something clicked. I enjoyed the game. The controls no longer kept me from doing mega damage with my rotation. I still have to finish the game, but that’s only a matter of time.

Minecraft and Minecraft Dungeons

These are two very different games. Minecraft is what it has always been. As I heard it described by some boomer reporter years ago, “You mine. And you craft.” As simple as it is, that’s literally all the game involves. How can it possibly be so popular then?

I can’t speak for anyone else. However, in my experience, the game is fun because it is one of the few modern games I can play with my kids. We have all spent countless hours on survival worlds mining entire mountains and crafting more than one nether portal. Sure, not that impressive to the Minecraft pros out there, but always an achievement when we finally get the experience of dying on another plane.

Quinn and I started a new world recently. Well, he started it and I joined it one day. Within the first hour of playing I had already fished up an epic fishing rod and several strong bows. We’ve both died in the nether and lost more than one of those epic rods in the weeks since. He built a villager farm that one day vanished. All in all, we are in it for the long haul on this one. In fact, he just ran another plan by me earlier this evening.

We haven’t played Minecraft Dungeons recently. For a few weeks over the summer, it hooked us both. I liked the Diablo like gameplay. He enjoyed the Minecraft setting. I logged in a couple of weeks ago to see they updated the game in many ways. We will be sure to play this one over break.

Hearthstone

What would a PC/console article be without me swearing about our favorite CCG that we all love to hate. Yes, it’s true that more often than not, the love/hate relationship is cemented firmly in hate. That is not the case this time. Plus, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t partially include Hearthstone on the console look back 2020 list just to make the mad nerds mad.

You might have heard about the kerfuffle surrounding the release of a “battle pass” for the game about a month ago. I, personally, didn’t see what the problem was. The mad nerds, though, attacked Blizzard, streamers, and even each other for not being mad enough nerds about it.

In spite of that, I come not to bury Heartstone, but to praise it. I genuinely like the latest expansion, Battlegrounds is a fun time waster of a mode, and I will even play a game of Duels now and then. Someone wrote an article that Hearthstone is the healthiest it’s ever been. Like Magic, you can argue if you want. But, I agree. The game is so much fun.

The Verdict

The console look back 2020 shows that this aspect of our gaming wasn’t as varied as mobile, certainly, but also tabletop. Nevertheless, the games I played were fun. Quinn and I have to continue that world we started. I need to finish Diablo 3. Hearthstone will continue to occupy my time until I finish the reward track. What about the new consoles? I’m glad you asked. Join me on Wednesday for that discusssion.

Tabletop Game of the Year 2020: Magic the Gathering

Introduction

The tabletop game of the year 2020 should not be a surprise. I don’t remember if I gave it away in the last article, but I suppose I did by omission. Chris and I have recently shown an interest in Commander. Those who frequent the page know by now that I play Magic the Gathering Arena nearly daily.

Though I’m getting better, it’s more accurate that I swear at MTGA daily.

Heck, I even diligently posted notable card articles throughout the year. Continued to buy sets (including far too many cards of Zendikar Rising) in spite of the fact that I haven’t played paper Magic the Gathering in at least a year. So, yes, if you have read the page at all, it will come as no surprise that Magic the Gathering is our tabletop game of the year 2020.

Similar to the mobile game of the year article, I will present the top 5 reasons for the choice. While I could give 10 or even 20 reasons, I will keep it at 5 (7, tops!)

#5 – Commander

I’ve been saying for several months now that I’m a Commander player who never played Commander. Sure, I goldfished a deck here and there on xMage. But, I never got into a regular playgroup and Chris and I never really dabbled in the format all that much. The closest we got was a few games of Tiny Leaders a few years ago.

That all changed last month. Well, not all of it. I still haven’t played a game of paper Commander. I goldfished each one of my decks that I now own. How do I own decks, you might ask. I’m glad you did. I purchased a Commander gift box from Channel Fireball that contained two of the prebuilt decks and some other goodies.

Then, I bought a super epic mega bundle of Zendikar rising that contained two other decks. I’ve already told this story. For those of you who haven’t read that post, the short story is that I now own 3 Commander decks. Chris, perhaps inspired by my purchase and definitely inspired by the cool cards in the set, bought a box of Commander Legends. He’s built a couple of decks, too. Now, we wait the time that we can get together and play and record.

#4 – Nostalgia

Regular readers of the page know that I’m not much of a nostalgia guy in general. I often scoffed in my teenage years when they kept trying to make Woodstock work again. I cackled audibly when the last one flamed out in violence. Talk about missing the point.

Nerd nostalgia, on the other hand, always works on me. Chris said something the other day about Commander feeling like when he first started playing the game with his buddy. I don’t have that same feeling yet with Commander. However, there are times that I’ll see a card in Legacy or Vintage and it will take me back to my freshman year in college when I learned how to play the game by borrowing a friend’s deck. So, like comics, as long as there is that attachment, I’ll keep coming back for more.

#3 – Finally a Viable Digital Alternative

Chris adamantly fights against our digital overlords. I stood by his side for as long as I could before finally caving last year. I’m now all in with the next generation consoles. I mean, if I can get the latest tech for 400 or 500 bucks? I’m wiling to trade off the physical medium. They mostly just take up space in my closets at this point. I don’t have a room like Chris does to show off the artwork.

How does this relate to Magic the Gathering? Well, my longest holdout against digital was our favorite collectible card game. MTGO still required real currency to buy digital cards. The economy of the game was the exact same but you didn’t get to keep the cards if the servers ended up getting shut down. xMage costs nothing. However, you have access to all cards. It’s great for messing around with limited strategies, but feels stupid for any type of constructed since there’s rarely any jank.

MTGA fixed that with the wild card system. I can buy cards with gold that I gain by playing the game and finishing quests. Most cards that I can’t find, I can craft using wild cards. No actual money is needed to play the game. Best of all, there is plenty of jank. Disclaimer: I have spent money on the game, though. I told you I’m all in.

#2 – Kids

Look at those happy kids playing soccer in a group without masks.

Kids are usually higher on my lists. However, similar to Dungeons and Dragons, I haven’t been able to hook the older boys on Magic the Gathering. Liam prefers Pokemon. Once upon a time, Aiden played Yu Gi Oh and as recently as a couple of months ago, he organized the cards again. So, while I don’t consider them completely lost causes, it has been a struggle to get them interested.

Quinn, on the other hand, loves Magic. Christine calls him my little buddy and it’s not far from the truth. He and I have even played the board games Arena of the Planeswalkers on more than one occasion. Every now and then, he takes out his dinosaur deck that he created to tinker with it a bit. Part of the reason I stay in the game is to keep his interest until he’s old enough to play with some strategery.

#1 – The Game is Just Healthy Right Now

Many, including myself, have decried the power level of the game. However, having played MTGA repeatedly over the last year and a half, I can say that the power level of Standard and Historic are right about where they want them. You get to play with powerful cards, but you don’t often get blown out in games.

I joked earlier that I swear at the game and that’s not entirely untrue. I do still get frustrated by the perpetual issues of mana screw or flood. But, those games are honestly few and far between. Plus, the developers have gone a long way to trying to fix them with new ideas like higher conditional fetches and flip lands.

Or, whatever they’re calling these things.

Of course, oldbies will argue that the game is completely different from when they played. This always progresses to the game is not as much fun as when they played. I argue this is part of the health of a game that lasted over 25 years. You want to play old school? By all means, do it. Let us poorer nerds have our overpowered Standard so we can pretend we’re as cool as you.

The Verdict

Hopefully I’ve made my case for Magic the Gathering as our tabletop game of the year 2020. While there have been times that I thought I might stop collecting, I’ve always come back. I’m glad that I did. The game is fun. It has a vibrant and growing community. Next year, they are releasing a set based on Dungeons and Dragons. What more could I ask for?

Mobile Game of the Year 2020: Pokemon Go

Introduction

A few years go, right after Pokemon Go released, like many people I became obsessed. At the time, all the game involved was walking around and catching Pokemon. That was enough for me. I walked around and I caught Pokemon. Eggs hatched. I waited patiently for the inevitable updates that allowed gyms, trainer battles, and trading. Taking the warnings seriously, I never drove and Pokemon Goed (Pokemon Went?) Several years later, I’m obsessed again. Pokemon Go is my choice for Mobile Game of the Year 2020.

If I was ever stupid enough to do this, I’m positive that this is how I would die.

What brought Pokemon Go back into my life? Well, as with many things when you are a parent, my kids started playing the game. They received phones for Christmas last year. Additionally, due to the Covid restrictions, Liam developed a walking habit. Like me, he figured if he was going to walk anyway, why not hatch some eggs and evolve some Pokemon.

I heard the boys talking about Pokemon Go, so I loaded up the game one day. Then, we all discussed the game on the beach one day during Seedot community day in the spring. This common interest lasted until Aiden’s phone broke a couple of months ago. Then my phone dies. I stopped playing any mobile games, including Pokemon Go. Honestly, I miss this game the most out of all of them. Why? Until that last word, I had no idea how to structure this article. Now I know. Though I usually hate top lists, I will do a top 5 reasons Pokemon Go is my mobile game of the year 2020.

5 Reasons Pokemon Go is the Mobile Game of the Year 2020

Note: I went from being almost week ahead to a couple of days behind my deadlines for no particular reason.

#5 Exploration – Unlike Geocaching all those years ago, I won’t go so far as to say that Pokemon Go has caused me to explore new places. However, whenever I was in a new place, I opened the game to see what new and interesting Pokemon might be offered there. That has led to some “Oh, wow! Look at that!” moments between me and the boys.

#4 Exercise – I will go as far as to say that Pokemon Go has inspired me to exercise more. Okay, maybe exercise is a stretch. But, I did start the summer only walking far enough to get one candy per day. Eventually, I extended that walk until I was getting multiple candies per day. For the uninitiated, that means I went from a roughly two mile walk to 7 or 8 miles. I think I even extended it out to 10 miles right at the end of summer.

#3 Updates – When I stopped playing Pokemon Go, I called it a boring game without much going for it. Basically all you could do was walk around and catch Pokemon. While fun, the novelty wore off very quickly. When I came back this year, it was like a whole new game. You could battle in gyms and trade between trainers. There were daily and weekly quests. Niantic added events that ran at least once a month. Community days featured a specific Pokemon, allowing you to evolve it if you dedicated some time. All in all, the game is fun. And, this time, the novelty hasn’t worn off.

#2 New Pokemon – While this could easily fall under the previous category, it is strong enough for me to consider on its own merits. Admittedly, I don’t play Pokemon much these days. I played through Shield a little bit last year. However, several times over the summer, I said, “What Pokemon is that? That thing is cool!” As I mentioned, that alone isn’t enough. With the rest of the updates, though, it makes for a stronger experience.

#1 My Kids Played It – Liam has been walking every day. Not all of that is due to Pokemon Go. Much of it is, though. Even Aiden, who often doesn’t have the attention span for a game like Pokemon Go loaded it on a daily basis. He’s in the same boat as I am with a busted phone, so we’re both out of commission. Hopefully that will change after Christmas and we can get back to catching ’em all.

The Verdict

I played more mobile games this year than at any other time in my life. Heck, I played more mobile games this year than any other type of game. The end of the year is seeing a resurgence in PC and console gaming (as you will see in next week’s articles). However, 2020 was the year for mobile here at 2 Guys Gaming. One game, above them all, reigned supreme and that game was Pokemon Go. I can’t wait to get my new phone and get back out there.

MOBILE LOOK AHEAD: A Year of Gaming

Introduction

I started this month of reminiscing about my year of gaming with a mobile look back. (Note: I’m so far ahead of my schedule right now that I can’t link that phrase yet. I’m writing this on Thursday and Friday December 3rd and 4th.) In this article (and for the next three Wednesdays), I’m going to take a look forward in each genre of gaming. Honestly, though, I’m not sure how this mobile look ahead will go.

My phone isn’t quite this bad, but give it time

Seeing as how I’ve finally paid (yet another) price for my Hearthstone tantrums with a broken phone, I haven’t played a single mobile game in at least two months. I think I mentioned in the previous article that I also just ordered a new laptop and I’m eyeing a PS4 bundle for after Christmas. I don’t think a new phone is in my future any time soon. We will see if I end up getting a check for my stipend work. In any case, let’s start this mobile look ahead with the possibilities I’m considering if I can ever afford one.

New Phone Possibilities

Samsung Galaxy S8 – Funny story about my current phone. While it is true that several pieces of electronics have ended because I didn’t properly take care of them (including my current S10), my previous phone was not one of them. I was at a friends house and I left my S8 in my car because I was visiting with a friend.

Well, it was summer and the phone got very hot. As I drove home, I took the phone out of the case and held it out of the window so that the breeze would help cool it. As I was doing so, the phone fell out of my hand and skittered along the ground. I drove back to look for it with no success. I immediately ordered an S10 to replace it. Because, we all need phones these days, right? Right?!

Perhaps before Covid, you could make that argument. Now, maybe not so much. Long story short, I got an email from someone who found my S8 lying on the side of the road. I went to get it from the local police department. Here’s the ridiculous part. Other than some cracking on the back, the phone was fine and worked perfect. So, I could downgrade for a few months. If only I could find the dang gone phone.

Samsung Galaxy S10 – I could just buy another version of the phone I already have. Not very exciting, but money efficient at least. Plus, I really like the phone and have been playing Hearthstone exclusively on my PC, so no danger of it being thrown into my bedpost this time.

Google Pixel 4a – When I was looking at phones before I got a crazy deal on a new laptop, this one was on the list. We’ve already all sold our souls to Google for convenient search results, so why not give them back the cash that they didn’t pay me for that soul. It is about a third of what the Samsung phones cost and seems to have the same game functionality. This will probably be the phone I get when I finally relent.

BlueStacks – This is the most likely interim solution. Aiden discovered this little trick a couple of months ago when his phone started doing funny things due to cracked screen. I used it a bit a few years ago. I’m sure there have been improvements since then.

Mobile Look Ahead at Games I Might Play

Plants vs Zombies 3 – I mentioned the first one in the previous article. I also said that I never played the second one or any of the console versions. I just got bored with the same set up each time basically beating every single level. According to the preview I found, the 3rd game is supposed to offer more “complex strategy and game play”. Okay.

Batman: Arkham Underworld: When I first saw that it was a Batman Arkham game, I put it in the definitely play category. Then I saw it was basically a mafia game with a Batman wrapping. So, I might give it a chance. But, it’s not likely to last very long.

League of Legends: Wild Rift – I have a short and checkered history with League of Legends. I tried playing the game for 5 matches. In one of them I got a player on a smurf account who was willing to work with us noobs and help us win the match. The other four were the entire team fighting among themselves while the other team steamrolled us. It was a similar experience in Blizzards Heroes of the Storm. At least in that game, you can queue bots.

I do like Teamfight Tactics and will probably download it on my new laptop. So, I’m not sure if I will play this game very much. I’m sure to try it and see if simplifying the game for mobile makes it more user (and specific to me, noob) friendly. If so, it might make it into the rotation.

Marvel Super War – If I’m going to play a mobile MOBA (that’s silly to say), then it will be this one. The likelihood of that even happening is quite low actually. Granted, I’ve never played a MOBA on mobile, but I don’t understand how the mechanics are supposed to work. Besides, there are just too many other games out there that I definitely want to play.

Mobile Look Ahead at Games I Will Probably Play

Pokemon Unite: Another MOBA game? I know I said I would most likely play the Marvel MOBA just mentioned. This one is Pokemon, though. I feel like they will provide more variety in their play styles than the Marvel Heroes. At least, that’s what I’ve found in Pokemon games vs. games based on Marvel. They’re both fun, but Pokemon are more interesting in my opinion.

Crash Bandicoot: On the Run! – I have to be honest. I’m surprised it took so long for this game to happen. The old third person “behind” levels are identical to many of these run style games. I do enjoy these types of games as quick diversion. So, if this one is any good at all, I will probably end up playing it.

Warhammer Odyssey and Total War Battles: I already own a few Warhammer games through my Steam account that I’ve only played a little bit. I like the idea of Warhammer and would love to play the miniature game. I don’t have the time or money for that, so the next logical step is playing the video games. Maybe some day.

Fallout Shelter Online – Well, I guess I got an answer to why support for Fallout Shelter fell off at the end there. They’re developing an online version of the game. I enjoyed the gameplay of the original. If they make the online capabilities decent and support it for longer than a year, it will be worth it to try.

Mobile Look Ahead at Games I Will Definitely Play

Lego Star Wars Battles: Tower defense game set in Lego Star Wars. I’m not sure about it being a tower defense games. I mean, they can be fun on mobile. But, Lego Star Wars is a fun setting, so I will definitely find time to play this game and convince myself that I enjoy it.

Diablo Immortal – As they do, fans crapped all over this game as soon as it was announced. What was the whole issue that people had? I remember that there was an issue. Started playing Diablo 3 on the XBox One again this year. I will be sure to play the hell (no pun intended) out of this one, I’m sure.

Minecraft Earth – This one has been in Beta for at least a year and probably longer. Some of my students last year were playing it during free time in class. I think Aiden might have downloaded it, too. I loved (and rediscovered that love this summer) Pokemon Go as an augmented reality game. This one offers so much more variety than Pokemon. I will lose months of my life to this game.

The Verdict

The games announced so far for mobile next year look great. There are a ton of games that I will at least try. Whether I buy a new phone or simply use an emulator, I will be busy with these games plus catching up on what I’ve missed over the last month in my already established games. Minecraft Earth will definitely push me to get a phone, though. Also, think of all the Pokecoins I’ve missed.

MOBILE LOOK BACK: A Year of Gaming

Introduction

I’ve been wanting to do an article like this mobile look back since the page started. I think this is the first year that I’ve written at least one article every month. Granted, that was assisted by Covid and the necessity of our school to go remote. However it happened, I’m happy for the opportunity to be able to write about what I enjoy. Mind you, I’m not downplaying a global pandemic. I’m simply expressing gratitude in my socially awkward, but hopefully endearing, way.

At what age do you stop being a scamp and start just being an a-hole? I’m pretty sure I’m already there, but maybe I can scam another year or two out of it.

Having never actually done an article of this nature, I’m not entirely sure how to format it. I came up with the idea to split it into sections similar to the “Great, Good, and Decent” that I use for reviews. However, those won’t work for an article like this. Therefore, I split them into “Barely Played, Lightly Played, Moderately Played, and Heavily Played”.

That kills two birds with one stone. Not only does it give me a direction for the article. It also mimics the categories for used trading cards. Huh? Huh? Pretty clever if I say so myself. Okay, let’s take a mobile look back with 2 Guys Gaming.

Mobile Look Back at Games I Barely Played

Clash of Clans – Two of these games on this list will have a similar story. They were reintroduced to me by other people. In this case, I learned that Aiden played this game with a couple of his friends and put together a clan that he invited me to. We played for a couple of weeks before he got bored with it and moved on. I like the game, but it is boring if you don’t have a group of regulars to play with you.

Empires and Puzzles – Chris introduced me to this one. He got into it via his former neighbor or coworker or something. It’s a decent match 3 game with a vibrant community and a variety of ways to advance. However, when Chris stopped playing because his guildmates were too “hardcore” for him, I fell off the bandwagon, too. I wouldn’t mind putting together a friends and family guild like I did for Marvel Puzzle Quest when the same thing happened to me in that game.

Fallout Shelter – In any other year, this game would have been heavily played. I liked the familiarity of the Fallout universe setting, unique characters and items, and specialty quests. When they stopped supporting the quest system, it just became another grind fest with a familiar IP. That’s when it hit the recycle bin and I never looked back.

Where’s My Perry/Where’s My Water: Similar to Fallout Shelter, I played “Where’s My Perry” heavily for a couple of years. I looked for Perry on my phone. Disney removed it from the store. I attempted questionably legal channels and met a roadblock. So, I downloaded the seed game and played that a bit. I might have played it more if not for my phone finally folding under my abuse.

Mobile Look Back at Games I Lightly Played

Angry Birds – Another game that fell off my radar over time. Honestly, most of these games fell out of favor because I simply had no time to play them. Working 16-20 hours a day will do that. When asked about Angry Birds by a friend, I probably sounded like an elitist prick. I do like the game play. But, my favorite part is how faithful the physics engine is for such a simple game.

Dr. Mario World – I played the heck out of the original Doctor Mario. A high school friend and I used to hang out in counseling during lunch and play that and Tetris using a link cable between our Gameboys. Yeah, I really am that old. When I saw there was a mobile version, I checked it out. It can be a fun diversion, but not as much fun playing against nobody.

Dota Underlords – After I discovered Auto Chess last year, I got big into auto battler games for a couple of months. Of the two “PC clients”, I played Team Fight Tactics much more than Underlords. Summer boredom led me to out Underlords on my phone. They updated the game significantly. When my new laptop comes in, I think I’m going to be playing this quite a bit.

Mario Run – This is one of the first mobile games I played. Well, that’s not entirely true. But, it is one of the first mobile games that I actually put money into. I’ve beaten all of the levels on the pink coin level and a couple of them on the next coin level. Mostly I just play the game when I’m waiting for cool downs in other games. I do the “Quick Run” mode or whatever it’s called for random prizes.

Plants v. Zombies – This game lost much of it’s luster when I played the mini quest version in World of Warcraft. I realized that you beat most levels with the same strategy. Build up your sunflowers, drop pea plants wherever zombies show up and just rinse and repeat. There are newer versions of the game that I haven’t tried. Maybe they’re more engaging.

Mobile Look Back at Games I Moderately Played

Auto Chess – I don’t remember how I discovered Auto Chess. I do remember that I was playing it exclusively for a couple of months. I even had a spreadsheet (in my head) about how much I would have to level to get to the appropriate level and obtain the season skin. Then Blizzard does what they do and released Battlegrounds. Since I already play Hearthstone daily, that became my auto battler of choice. Plus, some changes to Auto Chess made it a similar grind fest to Fallout.

Eternal Card Game – Eternal was the closest I could get to MTG on an electronic platform. I didn’t play MTGO much because I already put so much money into the physical card game and didn’t want to spend twice that just to reproduce my collection online. Then, MTGA came out and I could play MTG more or less free to play. I like Eternal, but MTG is still the king.

Magic the Gathering: ManaStrike – When they first announced this game, I made a snarky comment on Facebook. “How about fixing your other electronic properties before releasing another bug filled game?” At the time, both Arena and MTGPQ felt criminally under supported. Since then, both games have flourished and I got a chance to play this one. It is nothing like MTG other than familiar names. Still, matches last less than five minutes making it a fun and quick diversion.

Mobile Look Back at Games I Heavily Played

Candy Crush – A student received a smart phone just this year and discovered Candy Crush. This wasn’t the driver of my interest in the game unlike Empires or Clash. I’ve put more time and much more money than I care to admit into Candy Crush. It’s just dumb fun.

Magic the Gathering Puzzle Quest – This is 100% one of the first mobile games I ever played. I played Marvel Puzzle Quest on Steam and then tried to move my progress to mobile. When that failed, I then learned about MTGPQ and got hooked. While the events are sometimes repetitious, they’ve been good about keeping the game fresh with the new card sets and mechanics.

Minion Rush – For the longest time, this game fell into the grind fest trap and I stopped playing. This year, they brought back some of the fun by running more regular events. That, along with Quinn discovering the game, got me playing it on a regular basis. Then my phone decided that it no longer wanted to be tossed across the living room in frustration.

Sim City Build It – Like many others, even though I’m trash at it, I love Sim City. I am good in the early game and then lose it once my population starts to get around 2-5,000. I just can’t generate enough revenue through taxes without ticking off my Sims. This game simplifies the Sim City formula while keeping the basics. All in all, what a good mobile game should be.

The Verdict

I mentioned more than once that my phone is nonoperational. It does still work, but the screen crack that started after a Hearthstone tantrum spread through the whole screen. Now a horizontal line crosses the screen and the bottom third is nothing but a bright white light. When I turn it on, it’s like being summoned into the afterlife.

Therefore, if I’m to play any of these games again, I will need a new phone. I just ordered myself a new laptop. I doubt that I will be able to convince Christine that I should buy a new phone right now, too. It might be a few months until I get back into the mobile scene. I suppose I could always download Bluestacks on my laptop in the meantime.

Mortal Kombat 11 Kombat Pack 2 – Great, Good, Decent

Introduction

Wait, I have to buy Mortal Kombat 11 Kombat Pack 2? I’m pretty sure the game was a gift a couple of years ago. The friend was kind enough to purchase a version that included some skin packs and the first Kombat Pack. Therefore, this is the first time I’ve had to put money into the game. Okay, that’s not entirely true. I did happily pay for the expansion that included Robocop, Fujin, and Sheeva. But it’s the first time I’ve paid for cosmetics. No, wait, that isn’t true either.

Why am I lying about this? I guess I am just as susceptible to the Reddit mob as the next guy.

I purchased both skin packs and at least one announcer voice. It’s weird that both felt the need to lie and then felt the need to explain myself. Sorry that I’m treating this article like online therapy. I will get back to the subject at hand. Is Mortal Kombat 11 Kombat Pack 2 worth the money?

I mean, ultimately, that’s for you to determine. However, maybe you’re like me. A father of 3 boys who recently took a job that pays more money and it doesn’t matter to you that this game ultimately cost you over 100 dollars. Maybe I’ll have some insight for you. Wait, what? Oy vey. There’s that brutal honesty once again. Well, if you’re still reading, let’s get on with the review.

Decent – Rambo

Move Set – In keeping with the theme of the 80s action movie icons, Rambo’s move set is a bit clunky. He doesn’t combo easily, at least not for a slow old guy like me. With that being said, he is more fluid than Robocop or Terminator and more fun to play. If you’ve ever seen a First Blood movie, you will recognize his bowie knife and bow and arrow. Of the three, he was always my least favorite character. Ironic now that I will probably end up playing him more than the others in this game.

Finishers – Both of his fatalities are consistent with the character. The first one has the iconic wire trap and bamboo and the second involves a string of bullets (Is that what it’s called? I’m a libtard hippie who doesn’t use guns often). I prefer the first. His friendship is fun because of the nostalgia of playing laser tag with the boys. I did get a chuckle when he did the crawl from one behind one inflatable to the other.

Ending – John Rambo has no use for being a god. He wants what he always wants. To simply retire to a cabin in the woods in peace. It would seem as if he finally gets that wish from Kronika’s hourglass.

Good – Rain

Move Set – As I was working through the tutorial, I was sure that Rain would be my favorite character from this pack. Part of his style combines Noob Saibot and Fujin, two of my favorite characters. He is a fun character to play, but you can deduce from process of elimination who my actual favorite from this set is. Damn you angry, internet mob. You win this one.

Finishers – Both of his fatalities are fun. One has an homage to the classic Queen album, II, before eviscerating his opponent. The other has similarities to one of Kung Lao’s in the game with a twist at the end that had me chuckling. His friendship is not one of the more inspired ones. Hey, they can’t all be winners.

Ending – Rain goes a bit Kill Bill on the revenge trip against his father and his other sons. These types of endings always crack me up. They’re given ultimate power over time and they use it to exact personal revenge? I get that motivations are different, but come on now.

Great – Mileena

Move Set – Before this Kombat Pack, Ed Boon’s Twitter feed was a non stop barrage of requests for adding Mileena into the game. I get that Twitter isn’t real life and most of it was for the meme, but it had to have been tiring for him to deal with on a daily basis. Well, she’s here, nerds. You win. I didn’t want to like her character simply for this fact, but I can’t deny. She is the most fun to play beyond a shadow of a doubt. Sure, part of that is nostalgia. But, she is just a well rounded character and worth the wait.

Finishers – That’s not to say that it is all roses and unicorn farts. Neither of her fatalities are particularly interesting. I will say one thing about her second. Instead of exploding her opponent’s head, she implodes it. That was a nice touch. After trolling Mileena fans with Kitana’s friendship, the Edenian princess shows up in teddy bear form for dear sister’s.

Ending – Another revenge story? It would seem that the writers are gonna beat this horse until it’s dead. I mean, this one is consistent with the character’s singular obsession with her sister and parents, so there’s that.

The Verdict

Is Mortal Kombat 11 Kombat Pack 2 worth the money? Of course I’m going to say yes to justify the fact that I spent the money on it. In all honesty, though, 15 bucks isn’t too much to spend for 3 characters that are absolutely fun to play. In order to write this article, I sped through the tutorial and 5 opponent tower in order to get the endings. It only took about an hour at most. So, it is worth about what minimum wage should be. If you were smart and waited, definitely pick up the Ultimate edition as there is so much more in the game like the Krypt, which could have been a game unto itself.