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Hearthstone Road Trip: Destination Witchwood

Introduction

It’s that time of year again. Blizzard has released a new expansion for Hearthstone. I did a quick preview of the set about a month ago when it was announced. Before that, I wrote a bit about the new things that we could expect with the new season. You don’t have to read either of those to understand what’s going on in this article, but it would be great if you did!

One of the rumors about the new set was that it would take place in Duskwood. I said at the time that I didn’t exactly get a Duskwood vibe from the design of the set teaser and that has proven true. However, I do give you some credit, internet. You did get the woods part right. Just the wrong bunch of trees. Also, whoever first posited that the “Year of the Raven” was going to involve dark and spooky themes, I say “Kudos to you!”

And a hearty high five on top!

I already talked about the new mechanics in my previous article. Echo is fun, but so far I don’t think there’s anything that is truly broken (yet, more on that later). Rush is much preferred to charge as that mechanic will hopefully become Wild only over time. Granted, there are classic cards with charge on them, but good old Blizzard could just send them to the Hall of Fame or easily change the wording on the cards. Even and Odd decks are cute and I think there might be something to Odd quest warrior. In addition, odd paladin makes that class even more annoying to play against. But, that’s not really our thing here, so on to what we do best. Playing games and having fun.

The Cards

Neutral

This isn’t necessarily a keyword, so it wasn’t covered in the preview. It also came as a bit of a surprise when I saw it as I hadn’t been watching the spoilers for this set very closely. But, I like the mechanic of this card. It isn’t the only one that swaps attack and health each turn that it is in your hand. It is just the one that I have seen used and used myself most effectively. It’s relatively cheap and can remove big stuff right away if it is in 6/2 mode. All in all, an interesting addition to the game.

Honorable Mention

A 3-mana removal spell in this meta? Only bad thing is that if you aren’t able to target it (with hero power or other cheap spell), the opponent can silence it. Still, playing it just to frustrate your opponent and make them check the history to see what was just played against them makes it all worth it.

Druid

Naturally, this card makes me think of Twilight Drake. For one more mana, it has taunt. Both of those points are relevant. As soon as I saw this card and a few of the other new cards, I started thinking about a druid odd taunt deck. I’ve heard rumblings about such a deck existing, but I have no idea if it is actually any good. Then again, I’ve never cared too much about winning. I just want to have fun with the game.

Honorable Mention

She’s five mana and can be played in my Odd Taunt Druid deck that I’m trying to make happen. Also, and this isn’t relevant to that deck. But,A� if you can get her to stick, you could play Ultimate Infestation, then Kun, and then another Ultimate Infestation all in one turn. I don’t know how practical that is, but it sure would be fun to watch.

Hunter

This is the kind of card that I love. On first look, it looks great. Upon further inspection, it looks pretty terrible. Upon even further inspection, it settles into a decent situational card. You can use it to make an army of 4/4 minions with rush or even charge. You can use it to attempt to blow your opponent out of the water with a whole bunch of 9/8 lions that leave 2/2 hyenas in their wake (if they ever die). It’s just a potentially wacky card.

Honorable Mention

I know what you’re thinking. That’s a terrible card. And you’re right. It is an awful card. But, look at that! A 6/6 rat?! That thing’s huge!

Mage

I am bit biased towards this card because it is the gift legendary that I’ve gotten on two of my accounts so far. Moreover, I’ve been able to play it a few times. Once I got Aya Blackpaw and another time I got Stalagg (or was it Fuegen?). Stay tuned for more! I could steal this card with Rogue, play it, Shadowstep it, play it again, and get both of them for the meme Thaddius dream.

Honorable Mention

Similar to a few other cards on the list, this one invokes feelings of another card. It’s a slightly worse improvement on arcane missiles. However, in a meta where everyone is playing 1 and 2 mana cards with only 1 or 2 health, throwing around one mana fireballs seems like a decent thing to be doing.

Paladin

A card that makes Quest Paladin viable! Not really, but I did see someone on low level ranked playing the deck and it ran all over my pile of Mage cards that I’ve been using to try to finish the quest. I have packs upon packs of standard legal cards, but I’m trying to save them to open them for a YouTube video. See, guys I do care. As far as this card, this isn’t an example of a broken Echo card, but it does come pretty close.

Honorable Mention

Hearthstone has bulk rares, too! Just like their big brother Magic the Gathering. The difference here is that you get useful dust from the card in addition to the hollow empty feeling of what the card might have been after opening it from a pack.

Priest

In addition to the earlier “that’s busted, wait that’s terrible, no actually that’s a decent situationally” card that I mentioned above, this is my other favorite type of card. It’s a card that does new things that we’re not used to in the game. Like the other type of card, it might just be terrible. Then again, it just might be brilliant and it hasn’t found where it wants to be yet. I can’t wait to find out.

Honorable Mention

This was a toss up between Squashling (but I didn’t want to mention two Echo cards back to back like this), Quartz Elemental (which could be fun in an Inner Fire deck, but ultimately isn’t all that interesting), and this card. Other than those reasons above, I chose this card because I like the Priest theme of using your opponent’s cards against them. Sure, rogue has those cards, too, but rogues are thieves on the outside. This confirms my suspicions that any priest in any fantasy setting is secretly a thief.

Rogue

Not a good card, but it is a Legendary minion that you can play multiple times in a turn (at least 3 on turn 10 and maybe more given coins), and it gives you a body and a card every time. Hearthstone understands that if they can’t give us great cards every time, at least they can give us fun cards.

Honorable Mention

This was a tough one and for the opposite reason of the priest honorable mention section. That one had too many good cards to choose. Rogue got some really awful cards in this expansion. I suppose that’s to be expected since they got Kingsbane last time and that card bordered on completely busted. As far as Tess goes, she doesn’t make Thief Rogue viable, but she does make it fun, in that unnerving Yogg kind of way that we all love.

Shaman

In Knights of the Frozen Throne, we got new hero cards for all of the classes. This hearkened back to the old WoW TCG where you got to choose your hero for your deck. This time, we just get poor old Hagatha. She’s got a decent battlecry, and a passive battlecry (which is always cool), but it pales in comparison to Valeera’s DK power. I choose cards because they are unique, not because they’re good.

Honorable Mention

What if they had made this 1 mana and given it Echo? Would it have been the broken Echo card that I know is coming sooner or later? I don’t think so, but we are definitely getting closer to it. What if it is still the exact same, but with Echo? That’s pretty broken, but you do potentially sacrifice your next turn for it. These are the things that keep me up at night.

Warlock

A 7 mana almost guaranteed board clear and you get a 4/4 minion out of it, too? I don’t usually pick good cards (and I might not have here), but this card seems crazy to me. This card is almost guaranteed not to see play because Cubelock seems pretty stable as a deck right now. So, nobody will ever suspect when I play this card on them. Muahahahahaha!

Honorable Mention

Another echo card that exists only to annoy your opponent? I’m sensing a bit of a theme here. This is kind of a weird card because it feels more like a Priest card than a Warlock card, but I’ll allow it. It’s just such a stupid and fun card that I could see playing two turns in a row against some silly aggro face deck just to prolong their misery.

Warrior

This isn’t a good card. This isn’t even a fun card. I mean, it has rush and that interesting twist of gaining +3 attack on the turn it’s played. This is maybe a decent Arena card. What gives with this pick? Well, that just goes to show you how terribly Warrior was treated with this expansion. If Rogue was awful, Warrior is off the charts terrible.

Honorable Mention

I seriously cannot come up with another Warrior card for honorable mention. This is not me trying to be cute or provocative. The Warrior cards are that bad. If you haven’t seen them yet and don’t believe me, just go look. There’s nothing good, nor interesting, nor fun. It’s just a pile of frightening garbage.

Shudderwock

You may have been surprised to not have seen this card in the Shaman section. It’s a crazy card that does crazy things. Seems like it would be my kind of card and I’d have been able to find some place for it. Well, I did. As with any new Hearthstone expansion, there is a busted card with busted interaction that makes a deck that does ridiculous things. This one is no different.

I had heard rumbling about this deck and how stupid and noninteractive it was. I played against it once and it seemed weird, but not overpowered. Then, I decided to do something that I haven’t ever done. I took all of my dust and I crafted the cards necessary to create the deck. Playing it only once was enough for me to see that it is the special kind of stupid that Hearthstone can be known for. I misplayed the deck and I was still able to win because the card is so silly. It just becomes an almost infinite series of interactions that can’t be countered by the opponent, not even by conceding. I have a feeling that something might be done about this card soon.

The Verdict

There are some decent cards in this set. There are also some possibly fun cards that might inspire me to make a few decks to try out during the season. Other than that, there isn’t much here. Overall, the set is quite disappointing and while it might change the meta a bit and bring back some old deck archetypes, I don’t see there being huge changes overall.

The few streams that I’ve been able to watch this week verify that. Kingsbane Rogue is gone and Druid is more of a taunt variety. However,Cube and Control Warlock still seem to be a big part of the meta along with different varieties of aggro Paladin and I don’t see those going away any time soon.

Hearthstone Road Trip: Destination Witchwood

Introduction

Last week or the week before, I did a quick post about the new season in Hearthstone.A� A few times I said that I refused to speculate myself, but I did mention a rumor that I heard that made sense to me. Someone made the connection between each Hearthstone season and the sorts of sets that we could expect from them.A� Their conclusion was that the Year of the Raven would be one of dark and mystical forces.A� While that part seems to be true with at least the first expansion, that’s the only rumor that has so far been true.

The extension of this thought was that Hearthstone might be travelling to the World of Warcraft zone Duskwood.A� I had my suspicions that wasn’t true that I wrote in the article.A� Admittedly, my only evidence for my theory was that the gem in the center of the card just didn’t put off much of a Duskwood vibe.A� Still, I’ll take a victory lap when I get something right.

Enjoy them.

Instead, we are going to a forest in (near?) Gilneas known as the Witchwood.A� Even having played World of Warcraft obsessively for almost 3 years and then off and on for another 5 or 6, I had to Google Witchwood to make sure that it wasn’t just some Hearthstone version of Duskwood.A� Sometimes Hearthstone adds to or modifies WoW lore in that way.A� They didn’t this time.A� This is honest to goodness WoW lore that they’re using this time, albeit, a somewhat obscure one.

So, what do we know about the Hearthstone version of Witchwood.A� Surprisingly, even though the expansion isn’t due until April and most of the major card reveals are still a week or two away, we know quite a bit from what has been released.A� Let’s explore the spooky forest, shall we?

Even/Odd Decks

One of the things that the Hearthstone team has been consistent is that they want to use Hearthstone to explore ways to make the game unique by doing things with the digital format that you can’t do in paper.A� I mean, I like Magic and I like playing Magic on the computer, but that’s all it is.A� It’s just Magic on the computer.A� Even the new game, Arena, which is supposed to be more user friendly and attract some of the Hearthstone crowd into Magic, is just Magic on the computer with a different wrapper.

That’s not true with Hearthstone.A� Once upon a time, Blizzard did have a paper World of Warcraft TCG and I still enjoy playing it from time to time.A� When Hearthstone came along, they stopped supporting the paper cards.A� I feared that Hearthstone might just become WoW TCG on the computer.A� The fear was initially supported by them recycling card art and mechanics from the game.A� But, the fear was put to rest when Chris tried to make a paper version of Hearthstone and found that it would be too bogged down by all of the RNG inherent in Hearthstone.

The point of this all is that the Hearthstone developers have been successful in their attempts to make the Hearthstone experience unique.A� That’s not to say that all of theirA� ideas have worked.A� You need look no further than these cards to realize that.A� As I said to Chris when he asked me about them, “The idea is interesting, but the execution so far is pretty terrible.”

I’m not the only one who thinks so.A� I was watching a streamer the other day who was trying to put together decks for the even and odd cards that had been revealed using the cards that are available in the game so far.A� He made sure to repeat several times that the card pool was incomplete and that there might be cards from the Witchwood expansion that could strengthen the decks.A� But, so far, none of the decks even looked to be fun.A� Certainly none of them would be viable in any competitive format, except maybe the mage deck that used the card that upgrades your hero power at the start of the game.

Mechanics

Echo – I recognized this one from Eternal.A� It doesn’t work exactly like it does in Eternal, but it is has some similarities.A� In Eternal, when you draw a card with Echo, it creates a copy in your hand that you can then cast.A� With Hearthstone, the card is copied when you play it and then you can cast it over and over again.A� For instance, if you had the Phantom Militia card which is the only one to have been spoiled so far, you could cast 3 2/4 taunts on turn 9 or 10.A� Depending on what cards they put the echo mechanic on, it seems like it could be much more broken than the Eternal version.

Rush – The designers have been saying for a few expansions now that they think the charge mechanic was a mistake.A� It really became apparent when Patches the Pirate was such an oppressive card in Standard and they realized that it would most likely continue into Wild.A� There was one other card that had charge but could only attack minions, so they must have taken inspiration from that one for the new mechanic.A� I realize that charge is common to all card games in one form or another, but it is especially annoying in a game like Hearthstone because it is one that is, according to the designers, predicated on board control and trading.A� Rush brings that aspect back to the game while still having minions that attack right away.

Solo Adventures

The release schedule for Hearthstone used to be two sets and an adventure released each cycle.A� I might be wrong about that.A� But, there were adventures released that allowed players who didn’t want to pay money and didn’t play enough to get gold for packs to get dust or cards.A� They did away with adventures recently, which I thought would have a deleterious effect on the game.A� Honestly, as with most decisions, it hasn’t had much of an effect at all that I can see.A� Perhaps those players who relied on them to increase their card collection more than I do would argue otherwise.

They are still releasing adventures.A� It’s just that the focus of them has changed.A� With Kobolds and Catacombs, they put together a solo adventure mode that allowed you to pick one of the established classes and build a deck through randomly offered cards.A� The mode also gave “loot” in the form of additional cards or game effects.A� It is a fun mode, but that’s all it is.A� There are no rewards for defeating all of the encounters and the boss.A� That’s a bit disappointing because even a tiny bit of gold for your first time with each class would be nice to have.A� Oh well, no big deal.

They’ve expanded on this idea with Witchwood.A� It is similar to the Kobolds and Catacombs solo mode in that you fight against a predetermined number of encounters.A� Also, after you defeat an encounter, you get loot cards to improve your deck.A� Where it differs is that youA� choose from one of the four new classes in the above picture instead of the established classes of the game.A� I’m pretty excited about this idea because I generally enjoy the single player modes of card games.

I’ve logged probably twice as much time in Eternal’s single player modes as competitive.A� I’m stuck on an encounter in HEX, but I did enjoy it while I was playing it.A� I don’t spend nearly as much time in the single player mode in Hearthstone compared to the competitive modes, but I do still enjoy playing through this game mode.A� I just want some rewards is all.

The Verdict

I’m not sure what to think about the odd and even decks.A� I like the idea of trying new things.A� But, this idea just seems bad overall.A� The new mechanics are cool.A� Echo seems like it is just waiting for the right card to be abused to a horrifying degree. A�Can’t wait for the first noob to try to point a rush minion at my face and “Whoops” him. A�More of a solo mode that is fun can only be a good thing.A� It also leads to the possibility of even more going forward.A� Stay tuned for the official 2GG preview once all of the cards have been spoiled.

Some Notes on the Nerfs

Introduction

I know that you don’t come here for the latest breaking news in games.A� Also realize that this article won’t change that.A� I barely have the time right now to post my articles about 30 year old video games and my status as a filthy casual as a Magic the Gathering player.A� I’m not going to even attempt to keep up with all of the current video game news.

However, I did notice a post on the Instagram feed of one of the people that I follow.A� It had a picture of Patches the Pirate from Hearthstone and the tagline “I’m in charge now”, but with the “now” crossed out and “next turn” scrawled above it.A� I didn’t know what to think because Hearthstone players have been screaming for a nerf of that card since it was released.

I mean, seriously, what the hell was Blizzard thinking with this one?

Initially, I thought it was a joke and laughed accordingly.A� But, something nagged at me, so I went in search of an article that I didn’t even think existed.A� I typed “Hearthstone Nerfs” into Google and expected to only find articles from the past.A� Much to my surprise, an article written that day was the top search result, so I followed the link.A� Apparently, Blizzard finally got around to nerfing the card right as it was on the cusp of rotating to Wild.A� More on that later.

I texted Chris about it, but then we got to talking about something else.A� Later in the night, he must have checked out an article about it because he texted me out of the blue “I actually agree with the nerfs” in response to my assertion that maybe Blizzard had gotten it a bit wrong.A� It’s not that I don’t agree with the nerfs.A� It’s just…warlock right now.A� Jeeze.A� How could they not do anything about Warlock?A� I know that they want the players to use the tools available to them to figure out the meta, but c’mon.A� When they nerf one of those tools, what are players supposed to do?A� More on that later.

Patches the Pirate

This is the big one.A� As I said earlier, this is the one that players have been talking about since before the card was released.A� It thins your deck, gets played automatically most of the time, and has an immediate board impact.A� There was a time when players were running pirates in their deck just for this card.A� It was absurd.A� The power level has diminished some in standard due to the proliferation of control and durdle combo decks, but this guy is still all over wild.

It’s gotten to the point where when I see this card in wild, I just concede.A� Sometimes I will just concede if I see a warrior or rogue because I know that they are probably pirates.A� Rogue also has the mill archetype.A� They are both just such triggers for me.A� They are just no fun to play against.

I will say that I’m impressed that Blizzard is at least making an effort to support their eternal format.A� I was afraid that it would just be a dumping ground for past standard cards and they’d never even think about it again.A� I like wild because I like the eternal formats, so I play it almost exclusively.A� Instead of ignoring the format, they actually made a nerf that was at least partially due to their thoughts of how the card could warp in Wild.

Raza the Chained

This is one that has only recently gotten on to people’s radars due to the Priest Razakus combo deck that has taken over Standard.A� According to Blizzard, though, that wasn’t the main reason.A� Actually, come to think about it, their statement makes it sound like that wasn’t even a consideration.

I find that strange.A� They’ve nerfed cards in the past to prevent one turn kills and the Razakus combo is exactly that.A� Then again, it takes some effort to pull off, standard rotates every 3 or 4 months, and the card will eventually meet it’s match.A� Where it again becomes a problem is Wild, where Razakus could rule, potentially forever, squeezing out any creativity and imagination in deck building.

Since Wild gives you all of the cards to build your decks, that’s exactly what it needs to be.A� There needs to be room for new and interesting decks that are constantly evolving due to new cards rotating into the format.A� It doesn’t need to be a stagnant swamp of durdle deck against durdle deck that makesA� you want to throw yourself off a cliff.A� Again, good job thinking of us filthy casual Wild players.

The problem with this one is that Razakus was the only thing keeping Warlock from being a truly dominant force in the Standard meta.A� They may have plans to deal with Warlock in the coming months with some rotation/hall of fame moves, but in the mean time, Warlock is going to be mean.A� This doesn’t affect me much because I never play Standard at any high level, but the streams I watch will become Gul’dan v. Gul’dan, which is troubling.

Corridor Creeper

0 mana 5/5?A� What could go wrong?A� This card is crazy stupid in a game that encourages minion trading.A� At least with the giants, you can get them to 0 mana, but it takes some skill and strategy.A� This thing, you just throw your little guys into the other guy’s little guys and play him for free.A� Good riddance.A� It might still be borderline playable in arena, but the other two picks would have to be pretty bad.

This is the one that I’m least concerned about.A� It has a powerful effect and delaying that effect for one turn might make it unplayable.A� Because, we all know, when Blizzard nerfs a card, they either miss completely and the card just becomes slighly less powerful or they ban hammer it into a deep hole.A� I think this card might be in the first category instead of the second.A� It’s still a decent late game card in arena and maybe even in constructed control decks.A� I have no idea and I’m honestly not all that concerned if it isn’t.A� This card just doesn’t register all that much, but that might be because it is an arena nerf and I don’t play much arena.

The Verdict

While I ultimately agreed with Chris and all of the nerfs hit the spot, I’m a bit concerned about what Warlock will become.A� I like to watch streams because I’m terrible at the game, but I do enjoy the interaction.A� I have no idea when the next expansion is going to hit, but until then it is going to be all Warlock all the time.

It’s going to be like when Pirate Warrior and Aggro Shaman were all over the place, but as of right now, there isn’t a natural enemy of the Warlock.A� I’m sure that streamers and pro players will find that counter and hopefully they do soon.A� Because during the aforementioned Pirate Warrior and Aggro Shaman meta, I watched less and less Hearthstone.A� Maybe that’s a good thing.

I’m Taking that Candle

Introduction

I know this is late for a preview/impressions post on the new Hearthstone expansion, as it has been out for about a week now.A� However, I have yet to actually play a game with any of the cards.A� As I said to Chris, I haven’t even opened a single pack from Knights of the Frozen Throne.A� I have played through only dungeon runs so far, which gives me almost no indication about the cards.A� Nevertheless, I’ve been watching and paying attention to the card reveals and think that I can give a decent impression to my fellow noobs.

Mechanics

I’m not positive if there aren’t usually very many new keywords in each set.A� I suppose that I could not be lazy and Google past sets, but then I might actually get a reputation for being a responsible journalist.A� Besides, I don’t even have to Google anything because I’m already on Hearthstonepedia (or whatever it’s called) so all I’d have to do is click a few links and I’m not even willing to do that much.

Seriously, have you seen House of Cards? Reporters just end up dead on the front of a subway train!

Recruit – This is the only official keyword that I can see that is new on the cards.A� There are a couple of others that show up once or twice or aren’t exactly keywords, per se, that I will review quickly at the end of the section.A� However, recruit is the only new bold word onA� card text.A� On the surface, it seems strong because it takes a card from your deck and puts it onto the battlefield.A� Yes, you read that right.A� Never change, Blizzard.A� Never change.

Spellstone – I wouldn’t necessarily call this a keyword.A� It is more of a card type.A� Each of the classes have a type of spellstone (only one now, but it’s probably only a matter of time before they introduce more) that does something relevant to the class.A� It starts off as a lesser spellstone, but can be upgraded to a spellstone and then further upgraded to a greater spellstone, again through some action that the class usually accomplishes through normal gameplay.A� I like the idea of these cards as they really push the narrative of being able to do things online that can’t be done in a traditional card game.

Legendary Weapons – Each class has also been given a new weapon of legendary status.A� Just like minions, only one can be included in a deck and they, at least on the surface, promise the same kind of game breaking potential.A� As they say, results may vary.

“Bonus effect” isn’t bold, but it does show up on several cards in the set. When you draw the card, you see the bonus effect which, in true Hearthstone fashion, is randomized.
I promised some unique mechanics in the set. As far as I know, this is the only card in the set with “dormant”. It also reads an awful lot like Dark Depths from Magic, though not as reliable…yet. I will say that I’ve been impressed at the Hearthstone team’s ability to make formerly terrible cards not as terrible. So, who knows. Before long, The Darkness could be meta.

Notable Cards

Please understand that this doesn’t mean good, or even necessarily playable cards.A� If you want that list, there are a thousand other pages that will give you the best cards, combos, decks, etc.A� If that’s what you’re looking for, you’re in the wrong place.A� I also just mentioned The Darkness and how bad it is, so I’m not going to waste your time with borderline unplayable cards.A� However, if you just want a (possibly random) collection of cool and interesting cards, read on!

I like this card because it takes the druid mechanic of choice and expands the possibilities. Very cool design.
Rogue finally gets secrets, something that seems to fit the class more than Paladin. This one is cool because it’s like a delayed shadowstep. Unfortunately, it’s very easy to play around, which defeats the purpose of secrets.
The first card in Hearthstone with “Trample” and it is a situational spell card. Weird, but neat!
There are at least two cards that have this ability only to attack if you have a certain amount of armor. It is a bit of a half measure between the “can’t attack” and normal minions. There are so many applications of this for other classes.
This is an example of them testing the waters with an idea (the mage quest) and then building on it. Admittedly, this is an odd application of the extra turn dynamic, but it shows that they are willing to take chances and experiment.

The Verdict

This set has perhaps the stupidest name for a card game expansion I’ve ever heard.A� I honestly thought it was one of Blizzard’s famous April’s Fools Day jokes either very late or a bit early when I first heard the name.A� In spite of that, I still logged in and claimed my packs.A� I haven’t opened them.A� Heck, I haven’t even opened my Frozen Throne packs, as I said earlier.

So, I don’t see this set getting me to play the game any more than I have been playing it to this point, which is only enough to finish a quest or two a day.A� What does get me to play more is interesting stuff like the mash up arena mode that they had for Halloween this year.A� I played through several of those runs.A� Oh, I have also done a few dungeon runs recently, and those have been a fun and interesting experience.A� Aside from that, though, I will just have another 50+ packs sitting in my inventory.A� Oh well, there’s always Eternal and Magic the Gathering to keep me busy.

Love is “Eternal”?

Introduction

I was watching Brian Kibler’s stream about a week ago and he was playing a card game other than Hearthstone. A�It wasn’t Magic, either. A�Now, that would be news. A�It was called Eternal and, from what I could gather, it appeared to be a cross between Magic and Hearthstone. A�As I explained it to Chris, it has the mana and interaction on your opponent’s turn of Magic, but the quick matches of Hearthstone.

Heck, it even looks and sounds like Hearthstone.

I know that might sound antithetical. A�Hell, Chris and I have spent many a text conversation discussing how much better Magic is than Hearthstone for a variety of reasons. A�The only thing that we agree is better in Hearthstone is the mana system. A�Gaining one mana per turn instead of hoping on a wing and a prayer that you curve properly is the best thing about Hearthstone. A�We tried a version of Magic with the Hearthstone rules and, it turns out, being able to do stuff every turn is a good thing.

Nevertheless, I watched the stream and the game. A�I also chatted with several others since Kibler’s is one of the few streams that doesn’t descend into spam/meme chaos every day and you can have a conversation. A�It was especially easy since only about half his viewers care about Eternal or don’t care at all what game he’s playing. A�They politely answered my questions, as well as questions that others had. A�After about a half an hour, I was convinced. A�I needed to try this game. A�I was going to download it via the Steam client and try it. A�Then, something even better happened. A�I learned that it was on mobile. A�I downloaded it, started playing through the tutorial, and immediately texted Chris.

Okay, Grandma. Why don’t you just call him? Nobody texts anymore. It’s all about the Snapchat emoji…or something. A�I’m even too old to trash talk myself about being too old.

The Good

This whole game is good. A�In fact, it’s great. A�One of the selling points was that it is very F2P friendly. A�I’m still the grumpy old man gamer who refuses to pay good money for digital goods/currency, so if a game doesn’t let me compete without dropping hard earned cash, I’m not playing. A�I was skeptical at first, but that skepticism soon faded. A�The tutorials give away starter decks, which isn’t different from Hearthstone on the surface. A�Underneath, though, it only takes 4 wins to earn a whole deck, where Hearthstone makes you play through 10 levels of the character to get all of the basic cards.

There are also puzzle levels that teach you about the basics of the game and give, as far as I know, 20 gold per. A�I have only finished one of them as of this writing. A�The reason for that is because I am having so much damn fun playing the game. A�Who wants to read the instructions when you can just be out there slinging spells and minions at your opponent’s face?

I’d like to phone a friend.

There are a ton of game modes in the game. A�In addition to the typical casual and ranked versus modes, they figured out a way to do an actual draft mode where you don’t have to wait for people to sit down at your “table”. A�There is also a PvP mode called “Event”, which has a special rule and loot attached to it. A�While most come to a card game to test their mettle against other people, guys like me are perfectly content beating the snot out of the overmatched AI. A�Thankfully, Eternal takes care of us with two single player modes. A�In “Gauntlet”, you choose a constructed deck and fight against AI until you win 7 games or lose 1. A�”Forge” is a draft like mode similar to Hearthstone Arena where you pick from 3 cards to build a deck and then fight the AI until you win 7 or lose 2. A�The difference here is that you get to keep all cards drafted.

That brings me back to the best part of Eternal. A�The individual who told me that the game was very F2P friendly was not lying. A�Nearly every day you are getting at least one pack. A�The packs are full. A�None of this 5 cards per pack nonsense. A�Modes cost more than Hearthstone, but you are also compensated better for performing in them. A�I won 7 games in Forge and got the 2,000 gold entry plus in rewards. A�I also received a couple of packs for my trouble. A�There is no problem in building a decent to good collection in this game.

The Bad

In keeping with my pie in the eye optimistic gamer attitude, there isn’t much that I can categorize as bad in this game. A�The most obvious is that the mana system is like Magic. A�Sure, they give you less of a chance of flooding and screwing with one mulligan of your opening hand and by limiting the number of influence (mana) you can draw in the opener and mulligan. A�Also, there is a card that lets you draw influence for the cost of one. A�Still, the flood and screw will not be denied and some games you just sit there and stare as your opponent beats you mercilessly.

An exclusive 2GG investigation reveals that statistics are broken.

The only other “bad” in the game is mostly likely just due to the fact that I’m a noob and don’t have the time to dedicate to getting better at drafting. A�Because of how it is set up, the skill cap for drafting is much higher than it is in Magic the Gathering. A�Again, instead of sitting down with a pod of players, you are “passed” a pack that has been opened sometime, somewhere, by someone and had cards taken from it. A�So, you can’t really pick up on signals or bully players off of strategies. A�What you can do is draft much more with synergy in mind. A�I just don’t have the skill to do it, so my only draft has ended with a very embarrassing 0-3 and I haven’t been back to try again.

The Ugly

I always worry with these types of games. A�Before you know it, the developer pulls the plug and you are left with a stagnant game or, worse, one that gets shut down completely. A�Now, honestly, I haven’t seen either of those happen with any of the games that I play. A�They must all maintain a high enough player base to justify keeping the servers open.

That’s not entirely true. I did join this game right before they decided to shut down the servers. A�Fare the well. A�I hardly knew ye.

I’m not saying that Eternal will shut down. A�However, I am worried that it won’t be able to maintain the player base in the face of all of these other games. A�One thing that it has going for it is that it is mobile and it seems to be quick paced, which has so far been a recipe for success with these types of games. A�The other side is that Magic is releasing their new digital property and it appears to occupy a lot of the same space as this game. A�I hope that Eternal can hold its own, but if not, it’s going to be ugly for me.

The Verdict

Eternal is a fun game. A�I have been playing it regularly for the last week. A�Unlike Hearthstone, which I log in to every couple of days to clear out quests and don’t really have much fun playing, I lose hours to Eternal and don’t regret it one bit. A�I know that it won’t ever reach Hearthstone levels of popularity because Blizzard just knows how to hook and then keep people running on that treadmill. A�However, I have had no problem in finding a match any time I log on and play to do the daily win quest.

Eternal is a cheap gamer’s game. A�They advertise it as a game where you can collect every card without spending any money. A�While that is probably true for Hearthstone and I’ve done pretty well by it, Eternal’s quest rewards are just an embarrassment of riches and I don’t doubt that I’ll have most, if not all, cards in a relatively short period of time.

Eternal is a well designed game. A�It is made and distributed by a company that employs prominent names in the gaming community. A�While that doesn’t always work out, I think of them as the Image of gaming. A�Image broke off from Marvel and DC to allow their creators to keep their creations and market them as they see fit. A�It didn’t work for everyone because not everyone is a marketing genius or able to keep a tight schedule. A�However, Image is still around, they are still allowing their creators full reign, and they are still making great comics. A�I hope to see the same from Dire Wolf.

Mine Wars

(Editor’s Note #1: A�We are reviewingA�Parzi’s Star Wars ModA�for this article. A�What? A�A genuine Editor’s note and not a lame joke? A�Well, they asked to be given credit in any article/video, so here it is.)

(Editor’s Note #2: A�You got Star Wars in my Minecraft. A�You got Minecraft in my Star Wars! A�Two great tastes that go great together? A�Ah, there’s the lame joke.)

This article will serve as a bridge between our current topic of Star Wars and our main topic of May, which is Minecraft. A�I wish that I could take credit for doing that on purpose. A�However, the truth is that it is a happy accident. A�I was simply looking for another Star Wars game to write an article to support the podcast and I remembered that I downloaded a Star Wars mod for Minecraft last year, but never played it. A�Well, as Bob Ross says, “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.”

This accident certainly was happy. A�I made the same stupid joke in the editor’s note of my Lego Star Wars article as I did in this one. A�Sometimes a “mash up” of two different good things is a disaster. A�I’m looking at you, Glee. A�Most of the time, though, as long as the two things complement each other and care is taken to integrate the best of those things into the final product, the mash up can succeed and maybe even surpass the quality of the originals.

Seriously, Thriller is just about the perfect song. A�You dishonor your family by attempting to remix it.

As you read this review, bear in mind that I have only made it about an hour into playing through the mod. A�It’s been enough to discover two new types of dust, fuse them together, and smelt them into a new kind of ingot. A�Other than than, though, the rest of what I’ve done is normal Minecraft things. A�I haven’t even been able to use the new metal to craft any other new material. A�So, no, this mod has not enhanced Minecraft to a level beyond yet. A�It certainly is not something I’d play over Knights of the Old Republic, Battlefront, or even any of the Lego games.

I’m not saying that it won’t. A�I’m not even saying that it can’t A�In fact, I did a bit of searching to see if I could find any tips or hints for the mod to get me started. A�”Hey!” A�You might protest, “Minecraft is about exploration!” A�True. A�However, and my defense is two fold. A�First, I was exploring the Google Machine for assistance. A�Secondly, the console version has a tutorial to introduce you to the game. A�So, I feel vindicated from my Googling shame.

Besides, it’s not like I found anything. I think I need to take my phone to the Apple genius bar to get it checked out. The Google doesn’t work right.

So, while I have a life line out at the mod forum, I loaded it up in creative. A�The main problem is that I need a ship to use my hyperdrive in order to get to other planets. A�I’m not sure if I have to craft the ship or if I will find one that has spawned randomly. A�So, I created my own ship, used the hyperdrive, and went to Tatooine.

Okay, now this is more like it! A�There are sand people (and their signature roar!), Bantha, and pig men (not of the zombie variety)! A�That guy over there wants to make me a storm trooper! A�This guy doesn’t like me, either! A�That dude is selling ships! A�Wow, this is awesome! A�For the record, both Aiden and Quinn agree.

This is awesome!

I didn’t want to spoil too much of the mod before I’m able to do a video capture, so I shut down the game after that. A�However, I have an update on my forum inquiry. A�Apparently the first hyperdrive, the one that takes you to Tatooine, does not require a ship. A�Therefore, I am free to continue my exploration to find obsidian to make a nether portal and get a blaze rod. A�Because, the hyperdrive requires an Eye of Ender. A�I already have the Ender Pearl (because eff those creepy thieving freaks) and the ore (found a use for it!), so it’s diamond hunting time. A�Should be no problem because I usually have an uncanny ability to find diamonds. A�As with my Lego The Force Awakens Update, look for more of my adventures in the mod in a couple of weeks when we talk about Minecraft.

Happy little accident.

Journey to Redemption?

(Editor’s Note: A�We know that you have become accustomed to our intense and burning hatred for all things Blizzard and Hearthstone. A�If so, this article might come as a shock to you. A�Please consult your doctor if you have a heart condition or are prone to fits of hysteria.)

Yes, it’s that time again when a not so young gamer’s heart turns to anger and frustration. A�Spring means a new Hearthstone expansion–as they’ve done away with adventures–and our “card review”. A�More often than not, “card review” means that I discuss new mechanics, get excited that control might finally become a viable option in the game, and then conclude that Hearthstone is just fundamentally flawed in design and face decks will always rule until they change how the game plays.

It’s become a bit of a running gag around here that we hate Hearthstone. A�That’s only partly true. A�I do find the focus on aggro and the reliance on RNG to be annoying. A�Also, I’m bitter that they ultimately killed a good game in the WoW:TCG to focus on this. A�I still feel like they could both exist. A�But, I do genuinely like some of the ideas that the game has introduced to the genre.

I mean, people might get confused because there is so much overlap in the art for the two games, but eventually, I think we’re smart enough to get it.

And, so, I kept playing in spite of how angry it sometimes made me. A�Chris kept telling me that I was addicted. A�Hell, I might have been. A�I am a sucker for the treadmill type of games that Blizzard makes. A�So, I guess we score one for addiction. A�Because I kept playing it, I’ve found my comfort zone in the game. A�It may not always be fun, but I’m not constantly texting Chris how much I hate the game anymore.

I have a feeling that some of this is temporary. A�After months of trying and promising control decks, Blizzard finally accidentally created an environment where they are viable. A�Sure, the meta is overwhelmingly face decks, so you still get aggro’d out of the game quite a bit of the time, but control decks actually do exist and get played quite a bit. A�As someone who prefers that playstyle, I couldn’t be happier. A�But, Standard rotation beckons and Reno is being relegated to the Wild frontier.

Don’t worry, Buddy. As a filthy casual, I prefer playing Wild, so we won’t be apart for long.

That’s the big selling point this time. A�Every time there’s an expansion, players get excited for new cards, the meta gets solved in a few days to a week, and then everyone complains about how boring the game is for another 3 months. A�Rinse and repeat. A�This time is different, Blizzard promises. A�Not only are new cards being introduced, but cards are rotating out for only the second time int he history of the game. A�That’s gotta add at least a day or two of theory crafting to figure out that spamming minions and going face is the optimal strategy. A�Okay, okay, that was a cheap shot. A�Only one at this in the article, though, is way under par.

So, what cool stuff can we expect from Un’Goro? A�First, and I’m actually genuinely excited about htis one, they’re bringing back the concept of quests. A�If you ever played the WoW: TCG, you remember that quests were the resource similar to mana. A�Since Hearthstone uses mana crystals, it doesn’t make sense to use quests in a similar fashion. A�Instead, they are legendary cards that are auto included in your opening hand. A�They require you to do something–ie, playA�x cards of some sort or another–and reward you with a super powerful card. A�I don’t know if any of the quests will be seen in competitive play, but I can’t wait to play around with them in the casual modes.

I feel like I’ve seen this card before. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the card was definitely blue there, too.

The other new mechanic that has potential is “Adapt”. A�This feature “discovers” three upgrades to your minion in the form of divine shield, windfury, stealth, taunt, etc. A�The discover mechanic is one of the best ideas that the Hearthstone team has introduced into the genre. A�It fits in with the theme of the game that RNG is skill. A�There is variance, but because the game gives you three options, the chances of getting something useful are that much higher. A�Anything that adds more discover to the game is okay by me.

Hey, you might say, you’ve already mentioned 2 concepts that you like about the new expansion. A�Maybe you’ve turned the corner and will actually like the game now. A�Woah! A�Hold up there. A�Hating Hearthstone is part of my identity. A�If I actually like it, who have I become? A�this is an existential crisis in the making. A�But, not right now! A�Yes, there are some cool mechanics in the set, but there are always things that I can find to like about a card set before it’s been released.

I’m right there with you, Snoopy. Hearthstone is enough to make a man mad.

Usually, in Magic, that means that these things are not remotely viable as a competitive strategy. A�In Hearhtstone, they are usually unique strategies that change the way the game is played. A�So, I guess both are in keeping with my tendency to go against the grain. A�As far as the rest of the cards are concerned, there is an emphasis on “tribal”. A�Tribal is always one of the MtG buzzwords that is never viable, but always hooks me.

In addition to an overall deck strategy, I will often try to adhere to a tribal theme in Magic. A�Honestly, I don’t thin that it is any more viable in Hearthstone, but it is easier to make a tribal theme work because the synergies are more prevalent. A�For instance, you won’t ever get high ranks playing murlocs, but I did get a healthy win streak while playing a dumb shaman murloc deck the other day.

Who knows? A�Maybe I have turned the corner. A�I have gone from actively hating the game to accepting it as part of my daily routine. A�I suppose the next logical step is actual enjoyment.

A Battle A Day Keeps the Vader Away

(Editor’s Note: A�Not that long ago, in my newly minted and cleaned play room.)

Like most males my age that identify strongly as geeks, I am a fan of Star Wars. A�relax, Trekkers, I have gained an appreciation for that series as well. A�It’s just that I grew up while the movies were being released, then re-released, then remastered, then “ruined”, and finally saved. A�Coincidentally, or perhaps not, the last step is occurring as my own children are of age to accompany me. A�Hmm, it’s almost as if it was planned that way.

Last article, I confessed one of my nerd crimes of not having seen Inception. A�In spite of my claim to make that right, I have still not yet watched it. A�Well, I come before you to lay bare my soul again and confess perhaps my greatest sin against nerddom. A�I don’t remember the first time I saw Star Wars.

I know! A�Shocking! A�Everyone always talks about their first time viewing the movie as a historical event that they remember and will for all time. A�Well, I don’t. A�I remember seeing it with my wife when it was re-released. A�I remember Empire vaguely. A�I obviously remember Return and the Rancor pit scene.

Okay, there are probably other reasons that I remember Jedi.

But, there is a gap in my childhood memories where “first time seeing Star Wars” should be. A�Maybe I was too young. A�Like, I would have been 4 or 5 when it came out. A�I wonder if Quinn will remember seeing Episode 7 when they inevitably re-release it for his generation. A�Still, this is supposed to be a childhood defining event, right? A�People continually talk about their experiences with the movie and how it propelled them to a lifetime of love for science fiction, etc. A�Clearly, it had a similar effect on me, but still I’m bothered by missing memory.

Okay, sin purged and soul cleansed, let’s talk some Battlefront. A�Now, in spite of being such a huge fan, I never got much into Star Wars games. A�Sure, I played Kotor and that led to a beta test of The Old Repubilc MMORPG that lasted longer than most people because I had friends in the game. A�Other than those, and Lego games, I pretty much avoided Star Wars games. A�That included Battlefront. A�That changed last Christmas. A�The boys got some Sims games, so I had to reinstall the Origin client on the computer. A�On of the sales–and I’m a sucker for sales–included Battlefront, so I bought it because the deal was so good.

So far, I have made it through the tutorial mode and two of the training missions. A�I have not played any of the coop stuff yet as I don’t have any friends on Origin and I don’t want to noob it up with strangers. A�I think that Kevin might have Origin, but he forgot his password or something. A�Who knows? A�Maybe this will inspire us to bring back our long planned but often delayed or cancelled game night. A�Stranger things have happened.

I don’t have an attempted funny caption for this one. It speaks for itself.

Until that happens, I’m stuck in single player purgatory unless I get brave enough to expose strangers to my own particular brand of noobery. A�As I don’t anticpate that happening any time soon, I will be saving and/or ruling the galaxy alone for the foreseeable future. A�Only 2 Sith are there ever, but apparently Noobs are doomed to a life of solitude. That’s actually not so bad, except I do miss having a regular gaming buddy.

So, what can I say about what I’ve played in the game? A�Well, being a Star Wars fan, I was hyped. A�That hype only increased when the Lucasfilm logo appeared on the screen followed by the iconic theme song. A�I clicked through, though, so I don’t know f there’s a scroll or not. A�However, once the menu loaded, it started the Imperial march. A�And, so, I ended up humming the march on my way to dinner because that’s when my wife announced that it was done. A�And I spent all of dinner with the song running through my head and making me more excited to play the game.

After dinner, I rushed back upstairs to finally get my journey started. A�I figured I’d start with the tutorial because I’m not called Noob of All Trades for nothing. A�And this is…an FPS? A�Really? A�That’s not at all what I expected and more than a little disappointing. A�Well, the sooner I can get this done, the sooner I can play other and better games.

Oh, wait, what’s this? A�Princess Leia is going to talk me through the mission? A�Well, that’s…wait, I don’t think that’s Princess Leia. A�Is it? A�No, I’m pretty sure it’s not her voice. A�Oh well, I will still see it through to the end. A�If the rest of the missions are FPS, I’ve wasted my money. A�Damn you, sales! A�Wait, what was that? A�”Good job!” Fake Leia encourages me after jumping up a snow bank. A�Maybe this game will be worth it after all. A�The only thing that would make it better was if it was an achievement, too. A�Heck, I need that kind of support in real life.

“Way to go! A�You got out of bed this morning!”

“Super job on those groceries!”

But, I digress. A�The tutorial progresses as you’d expect. A�You walk to a place, shoot a droid, walk to the next place, shoot another droid, find a weapon upgrade, walk to the final place and obliterate a droid. A�Okay, that was damn cool, too. A�I’m still not sure about this whole FPS thing, but it ended up being a relatively fun tutorial level.

I also played through a training level where you dog fight tie fighters as an X-wing. A�That was so much fun and much more what I was expecting from the game. A�Quinn got a kick out of me crashing my X-wing into the mountain the first time I played the level and he kept saying to me, “Don’t crash, Daddy!” A�He was like my fake Leia voice of encouragement through this level. A�I only had one complaint about the level. A�It was too repetitive and about one wave too long in my opinion. A�By the end, I was done flying and wanted to try something else.

The something else was also a first person level, but it was the level where Darth Vader and the Emperor are attempting to take over the rebel Hoth base. A�This level was entirely too much fun. A�You could force choke, throw your lightsaber at the rebels and it gave you the feeling of being Darth Vader. A�I say that the Arkham A�games are the closest thing to being Batman. A�Well, this level was very similar as far as Darth Vader goes.

Feel the power of the dark side, rebel scum!

Overall, I recommend the game if you’ve somehow avoided playing it until now. A�The graphics are very good. A�The voices are not the actual voices, but they are close enough from what I could hear. A�The levels are actually varied. A�However, some of them are a bit too long, or maybe it was just my feeling about that X-wing level. A�I would have to play more to see if that thought persisted. A�Other than that, this is a great game and worth your time and money. A�Go, get it, now!

Puzzling Through Duelyst

(Editor’s Note: A�We missed our first publishing deadline of the new year. A�But, we promise not to make it a habit and will continue to crank out at least 3 new articles every week!)

We’ve been meaning to do a Duelyst article for some time now. Several factors have kept us from doing so. A�Most notably, I haven’t played the game much. A�When I first learned about it, I loved the concept and played through all of the tutorial missions as quickly as I could. A�However, I haven’t had the time to explore strategy in any significant way, so playing live opponents wasn’t that much fun, even with the gold rewards.

I still have played many live opponents. A�I’ve played against a few now and then to clear out my quest log, butt I still have no real grasp of the intricacies of the game. A�Therefore, this article will mostly be an introduction. A�I will also talk about my current favorite game mode, the daily puzzle.

If you’ve never played Duelyst, it is a difficult game to explain. A�It might also be difficult to understand the appeal of the game. A�Well, I’m doing a heck of a job selling it, that’s for sure. A�As I often say, there’s a reason that I’m no longer a salesman. A�Many reasons, actually, but the main reason is that I’m a terrible salesman. A�Though, I’m sure you deduced as much from that lame attempt.

Seriously, what do you want from me? It’s a 19 inch TV. It’s like every other 19 inch TV out there. It might have stereo, but do you realize how far away from the TV you’d have to sit in order to get the stereo effect? But this 100 dollar one instead. It’s probably the exact same TV made in the exact same Chinese factory.

In spite of my evident handicap, I will try to make a case for the game. A�First, let me see if I can even explain it. A�It has elements of a card game, but it isn’t exactly a card game. A�It plays like a miniature game, but it isn’t exactly a miniature game. A�It combines these game types into a not quite perfect conglomeration.

In an age where video games are pushing graphics, sometimes over story, Duelyst has chosen a different trend. A�The graphics have an old school 8-bit feel to them. A�This is charming and comforting to an old man gamer like me. A�It speaks to that part of my brain that responds to the “nostalgia” that I discussed in an earlier article. A�Your results may vary and the style might even turn you off.

As if all of that isn’t enough the game has (what I assume to be) a robust story and lore. A�I say that I assume because I have not actually read any of it. A�However, apparently the designers built a puzzle into the lore that took a few months to solve. A�So, they seem to be proud of their work. A�Perhaps I will read it one of these days.

Hmm, 100,000 gold, you say? Yeah, that might be worth a few hours of my time to read some silly stories.

So, what do you think? A�Old school (like way old school graphics) and an odd combination of card and mini strategy, all with a possibly decent story. A�Sound like your kind of game? A�Well, if you’re like me (and judging by the traffic, not many of you are), this is just about the perfect game. A�Even so, it has take some time to grow on me. A�But, it does finally have its hooks in me with the puzzle mode.

Before I give specifics on that, though, I should probably explain the general gameplay better than it is an imperfect combination of card and mini games. A�Okay, here goes nothing. A�There are factions similar to Hearthstone’s classes. A�Each faction has at least one general that acts as your proxy on the battlefield. A�Therefore, destroying the general effectively destroys the player. A�Now, here is where Duelyst plays more like a miniature game.

Once the minions have been summoned to the battlefield, they can move around and attack. A�The board is not a simple one tier, or even multi tier, playmat style. A�It is a chess or checkers like gameboard that allows for movement in 4 directions by both your general and minions. A�If this seems like a huge departure, it is. A�It adds so much strategy to the game beyond spamming minions or spells and pounding the opponent in the face. A�It is simultaneously a reason that Duelyst interests and intimidates me.

Me go face! Wait, where is face? This board is cheat!

As a result, I have spent much of my time in the game playing through the daily puzzle mode. A�You are faced with a, seemingly hopeless, situation and expected to solve it by the end of your turn with the resources available to you. A�It reminds me of the Magic the Puzzling page that I forget about for months at a time only to remember again randomly, like right now. A�That reminds me. A�I have a few months of puzzles to solve. A�The nice thing about the Duelyst puzzle mode is that you know right away if you have solved it or not. A�Also, there is a tangible reward at the end instead of just your name in lights on a web page.

I’m also pretty sure that the puzzles are supposed to show off mechanics in the game and potential combos in the game. A�It might also intend to give deck ideas. A�I’m not sure why, but my brain hasn’t been able to wrap itself around the first two in any reliable way. A�Sure, I understand how the cards work together and most of the time I can figure out the situation based on how those cards work, but I can’t for the life of me make those things happen without the guidance offered by the game right now.

However, I will say that I started to research (Google) different deck types in the hope of getting some ideas to start building something. A�So far, I haven’t gotten any farther than clicking a link or two, but it’s a start. A�I’d really like a practice partner where there isn’t any judgement or pressure. A�That way I’d be able to do what I do with the puzzles and make mistake after mistake until it finally clicks into place and I can figure out the different ideas that I have. A�For now, though, I guess I’ll just work on the puzzles and reintroduce myself to the MtG puzzles, too.

El jefe es muerto! Vive el jefe!

(Editor’s Note: A�It is bad enough that Steam runs regular season sales. A�Now that I have discovered Humble Bundle, I’m destined to live the rest of my life in poverty. A�At least I won’t have enough money to do anything besides play through my massive back log of games.)

A few months ago, Humble Bundle offered Tropico 4 for free for some reason. A�Never one to turn down cheap–or, in this case, free–games, I got the code and loaded it into my Steam account. A�I have been using my tank Acer laptop. A�While it survives almost everything, it can’t run even the most basic game. A�Therefore, my treasure remained unplayed until I was able to upgrade the desktop to a respectable gaming PC.

Well, I am sorry to report that it still remains largely unplayed. A�I downloaded it and have been working through the tutorial, but the computer is having issues. A�Randomly, it will freeze and buzz. A�The frustrating part is that there is no BSOD. A�At least in that case, I could Google the error code and have a starting point. A�Instead, Googleing “Windows 10 freeze and buzz” has produced results ranging from bad memory (tested, but more on that later) to a sound control conflict (tested). A�I also removed a second monitor because it might have been an HDMI adapter conflict (nope!) A�The last possibility is that it is overheating. A�I will check that soon because so far I’m enjoying what I’ve played of the game and want to provide an in depth review. A�An update: A�I checked temps and it isn’t that, either. A�I think that it might just be an issue with Windows 10 at this point. A�Next step, installing Windows 7. A�IA�hate the Windows monopoly.

Who would have ever guessed that someone would actually miss the blue screen of death?  I guess it's true what they say.  You don't truly appreciate what you have until it's gone.
Who would have ever guessed that someone would actually miss the blue screen of death? I guess it’s true what they say. You don’t truly appreciate what you have until it’s gone.

Okay, an update. A�I downloaded the image file for Windows 7 and downgraded the computer. A�I say “downgraded”, A�but so far it has been upgraded to an actual working computer. A�A little more than 24 hours and I am happy to report no freezing and no buzzing, so that’s a positive development. A�Hopefully, it isn’t just a hiccup and I can get to playing some SimCity with Banana Republic flavor.

I’m happy to report that they “pepper” that “flavor” in just the right mix of “seasoning” to create the perfect “recipe”. A�Holy, cow, that was a lot of wordplay in one sentence. A�I might need to take a break afte that one. A�No! A�I’m strong enough to power through. A�The fans need me.

The game opens with an “everything is fine” splash page of a hot air balloon accompanied by a quote from a famous historical leader like GWB saying, “This would be so much easier if it was a dictatorship.” (Note: A�This is not a political statement. A�It is simply the only one my brain remembers right now.)

Okay, so maybe it was a sneaky political statement, but if you've been following the page, you already know that.
Okay, so maybe it was a sneaky political statement, but if you’ve been following the page, you already know that.

The loading screen fades, predictably into the game menu. A�I clicked on the “tutorial” option. A�I’m not sure why I did so. A�I almost never play though the tutorial of any game and I’ve played so many of these city building type games–especially since they are so revalent on mobile–that I’m pretty sure that I’ve got the basic idea of city building games. A�You build cities, right?

However I ended up in the tutorial, I was driven by the same strange compulsion to finish it. A�Even as the first set of missions took me through the very basics of camera control and city building, I continued to click through to mission set #2.

What kept me coming back for more inulting tutorial game play? A�That banana republic flavor, Man!. A�The AI guides you through this abuse with the simulated voice of your mentor, Generallisimo Santana. A�The vignettes between missions are humorous enough to keep even this jaded old man gamer scrolling in and out.

Besides, we have our own wannabe dictator that we need to prepare for.  I assure you, this is not a political statement.
Besides, we have our own wannabe dictator that we need to prepare for. I assure you, this is not a political statement.

Final Note (I hope): A�Well, the freezing came back and I had no idea that I was able to skip over tutorial missions that I had played before. A�Therefore, I must have played through the first mission at least a dozen times in between restarts and fits of swearing. A�However, I have finally figured out what the problem is and it had nothing to do with anything other than a faulty RAM stick. A�So, about checking that as I said earlier…apparently, I hadn’t done so thoroughly or properly.

The remaining tutorial missions offer no surprises and simply cover the rest of the mechanics unique to these types of games. A�But, the voice and humor alone made it worth my while to play through them even if they taught me nothing.

The tutorials got me into the game and they got me interested in the game. A�I guess, on that front, they did their jobs. A�I’ve found another game to occupy the free time that I don’t really have. A�Seriously, though, if you are like me and don’t have the money to spend on Civ 6 right now, you are tired of the city building games in your library, but you still want control over thousands of expendable virtual lives (that somehow become like family, at least to me), then drop the 15 bucks for Tropico 4. A�They also have a collector’s edition with addons for $30. A�I haven’t played any of them yet (another article idea!), so I can’t recommend them as of this article.

If you’re really cheap, you can wait for it to be included in a Humble Bundle–or maybe as one of their free deals again–or buy Tropico 3 for 99 cents. A�Again, I can’t vouch for that game, but what do you have to lose other than a buck and a few megs of hard drive space? A�Heck, you could get 3, 4, and 5 for less than Civ 6. A�And people wonder why I do my video game shopping in the clearance section. A�I need money for my newly rediscovered Magic habit.

Viva la resistance! A�No, wait, that’s not right. A�Vive el jefe!