Note: Just to give some context, this review comes shortly after Magic the Gathering Arena switched over to the Mastery system from the weekly quests system.
If it seems like it’s been a while since there has been any gaming content on the page, that’s because it has. I have been working over the last few weeks to get caught up on my comics reading so that I can provide newer content. As a result, most of the recent articles have been reviews of older comic books.
I wrote in my last article that I’m now caught up and next week’s reviews should contain reviews of current comic books. This week I wanted to take a break from comics and get back to what started the page in the first place. Since Quinn is showing an interest in Magic, a new set just came out, and I don’t think I’ve ever done a comprehensive review of Arena, I figured MtG was a good place to start that pivot back into gaming.
The Good (Magic the Gathering Arena is fun!)
I wrote in my notes, “You got Hearthstone in my Magic! You got Magic in my Hearthstone! Two great tastes that go great together?” Because, at my heart, I’m a dad and I abuse dad jokes whenever I can. I think when MTGA was first announced, I even called it Magic the Gathering Hearthstone edition.
I realize now that I’m looking at these two screenshots that I’m selling MTGA short by comparing it to Hearthstone. Sure, they both have interactive backgrounds and an emote system, but that’s about where the similarities end. The animations in MTGA are so much better and more intricate. MtG’s gameplay is so much more in depth and rich than Hearthstone.
I was watching a Kibler stream where he played some ridiculous Angels deck against Day9. They both had nearly 100 angel tokens on the field. Kibler, laughing, said, “You wonder why they don’t have this on mobile? Here’s why.” I admit to asking why in the past. My phone would probably spontaneously combust trying to render that many animations at once.
Magic the Gathering Arena is so much more than just a rip off of Hearthstone. I am ecstatic to have been wrong about that. In my opinion, MtG is so much better than Hearthstone and I would much rather play this game for random gold and packs than Hearthstone. I do still play Hearthstone but only after I’ve finished my time in Arena.
The Bad (Magic the Gathering Arena is Standard Only – for now)
Look, I understand that they need to start somewhere and that Standard makes the most sense. I also get that the game is buggy and suffers from slowdown even now with only standard sets programmed. Still, I’m a Vintage player at heart and I’d love to be able to hoard my wild cards to put together a deck that I’d never play in a million years in paper or even on MTGO. It’s a pipe dream at best, but maybe I’ll live long enough for them to (a) properly optimize the code and (b) transfer all cards into the game.
After all, they’ve announced a new format specifically to address the fact that older cards have already been coded in since the game has been in beta since Ixalan. They’re calling it Historic (?), which seems like a really dumb name. Also, given their recent lack of success in creating new formats, I don’t give this one much chance of lasting very long. Then again, I’ve been wrong before.
The Ugly (Magic the Gathering Arena rewards aren’t as much fun?)
Like many games that want to keep you on the treadmill, Magic the Gathering Arena has daily quests. They used to also have weekly quests. By winning 15 games in a week, I could collect 3 free packs. Apparently, someone decided that was too generous and they changed over to this Mastery system, which gives rewards based on gaining experience through daily quests and your first three wins of the day.
I put this under the ugly section mainly because of my reaction to it. I was not happy with the initial announcement and became less enamored with the idea once I saw it in action. However, as with most things in life, it would appear that Wizards of the Coast knew better than I did. I’ve been playing Arena more now than I ever did under the old reward system. Well, played WotC, well played.
The Verdict (Magic the Gathering Arena is good)
It should come as no surprise that someone who enjoys Magic the Gathering would enjoy a PC game based on Magic the Gathering. Well, the surprising part here is that I despise MTGO. I don’t like playing it. I don’t like watching streams that play it. I enjoy watching Hearthstone so much more and it is mainly for the cartoon graphics and silly animations. Those, therefore, are the main reasons that I keep coming back to Arena and streams that play Arena.
The game isn’t very polished at this point. There are bugs and slowdown from a lack of optimization. However, it is Magic the Gathering. That part I mostly enjoy. I’m still suspicious that RNGsus hates me and loves my opponents. But, I will continue to play as long as they support the game. Look out for me on a virtual tabletop near you.
What is Thaumcraft? Thaumcraft is a Minecraft mod that I played pretty extensively last year. It introduces magic into Minecraft. You could craft wands (since taken out for some reason) and cast various spells. When I played it last year, I became more or less immortal. I lost that save game, so back to the drawing board. Download Thaumcraft here.
I know. Minecraft May is infringing upon June. That’s okay, though, since time is relative and ultimately arbitrary. I mean, time itself isn’t arbitrary. It marches inexorably on into the oblivion of our own deaths and the inevitable heat death of the universe.
However, as entropy has deemed us lucky enough to live in a time and place in the universe where the motions are more or less predictable, we have chosen to use that arbitrary predictability to base our measurements of time. So, May, June, whatever, I want to play and write about some Minecraft.
A Note on this Thaumcraft review
I wanted to play through the mod before posing this article. And, if you’re a regular reader of the web page or a someone who appreciates irony, you will know that this is where I admit that I didn’t play. That’s only partially true. I set up Thaumcraft a few days ago and did play twice today.
After consulting the internet (I know, dangerous) for a brief introduction to the mod, I loaded up a game. I knew that in order to be successful, I had to find some crystals and sleep one night. That unlocks the spell book that guides you through the rest of the magic. I’m not sure if there’s any way to “discover” the crystal/sleep method other than with the pop up that you get when you do mine some of the crystals, but I wanted to get into the mod in order to review any changes.
Well, best laid plans and all of that. The first time I played, I found crystals, but was unable to craft a bed before getting blown up by a creeper. The second time, I was able to craft my bed, but no crystals are near my spawn point. Therefore, the review is based on my experience from last year.
The Good (Thaumcraft is polished)
Thaumcraft is not a mod that is a full reskin of Minecraft. To be honest, I’m not sure how popular those are. I remember back in my DOOM days, people would completely redesign the game from the ground up and create an all new game. I’ve seen a few Minecraft mods like that, but they must be an enormous undertaking as they are few and far between and don’t seem to last very long before being abandoned.
Thaumcraft is also not a mod that just adds a few new items to the game. I’ve also seen those types. Like the old Sims 2 packs that my wife and I would download, these mods give you a couch or a lounge chair or a bathroom set or all of those things. I’m not interested at all in minor cosmetic changes to a game. Well, except The Sims.
Thaumcraft is that rare in between mod that changes the game just enough to make it interesting…more interesting. I love Minecraft by itself. I can’t count the days that I spent staying up until 2 or 3 in the morning exploring a mine that I dug 8 hours earlier. But, it is fun to see what the community thinks the game needs. Magic and technology are the two big factors that I always wanted. Thaumcraft gave me that and in a very polished way.
The Bad (Thaumcraft isn’t always user friendly)
Despite being a mod that mostly just works, it isn’t always obvious what you’re supposed to do. I get that Minecraft is supposed to be about exploring, but if you happen to get dropped in an area with no crystals, then you have no idea how you are supposed to proceed and the mod might just feel completely broken from the beginning. I don’t know how likely that is, but it happened one out of two times for me, so it’s somewhat likely.
Also, when playing last year, I had to cheat a bit to find the silverwood tree to make a wand that was necessary for something or another. Wands are no longer in the game, so this might not be an issue anymore. I don’t know because I couldn’t advance in the game. This is a small thing and might stink of millenial whining, but it is something that I don’t exactly love about the game.
The Ugly (Thaumcraft is no longer supported)
I understand that people move on and that it can be time consuming to work on these projects. I also understand that the internet is an unfriendly place at times and people don’t always speak with their best voice. But, it bums me out that the developer isn’t working on Thaumcraft anymore. I’m glad that it is still out there in case anyone else wants to work on it. I also am happy that it more or less works. Who knows? Maybe I’ll work to develop it more.
The Verdict (Thaumcraft is still one of the best)
It is no longer being developed. For some reason, you don’t need wands anymore. It isn’t the most user friendly experience. In spite of all that, I’m still excited to get back into the mod and build my immortal armor again. Look for my video series, starting tomorrow, as I become the most powerful being in the Minecraft universe. Well, in my Minecraft universe.
In my last article, I wrote about my experiences in the paper version of Yu Gi Oh! That reminded me that I had learned of a digital game available on Steam. My lab assistant from last semester also played the game a couple of times before class. Since this week’s podcast centered around Yu Gi Oh, I figured it was a good time for me to finally try the game myself and give my impressions. I have just finished playing through the tutorial and a couple of the “quizzes” for about an hour.
Note: I have not done any PvP dueling yet, so I can’t discuss things like matchmaking. However, as this web page makes perfectly clear, I’m not much of a competitive gamer, so if you’re coming here for that analysis, you’re in the wrong place. I can talk about how much fun I had playing the game and whether or not the game will make it into my daily rotation of digital card games.
The Good (Yu Gi Oh! Duel Links is Polished)
I’m not sure how long the game has been available, but it is a well designed and polished game. Given the target audience, I didn’t expect much. I thought it might just end up being a Hearthstone clone. This isn’t an unreasonable expectation. Many digital card games coming out are using the basics of Hearthstone as their template. It has slowed down a bit, but Hearthstone was a force on the level of Fortnite not too long ago. It makes sense for games to emulate it.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. Yu Gi Oh! is a completely different experience from other those games. First, the game appears to try to mimic the experience of the show for fans. The board is not simply a top down view like other card games. It’s a small touch, but different enough to make it noteworthy.
Add in decent voice acting for the characters that almost made me feel like I was watching an episode of the show. The game has a very different feel to it from other card games. On the strength of the game design alone, I recommend people try it. However, those aren’t the only things that make it worth your time. Like many card games, it is initially very noob friendly.
There is a quick tutorial that deals with the basics of the game, monster summoning and spell/trap cards. While the tutorial is short, it is helpful. I think I’ve mentioned more than once that I never quite understood Yu Gi Oh! to any satisfactory level. This tutorial changed that. There are also quizzes to help you understand more of the game. Even better, the quizzes give you prizes to help advance in the game.
The Bad (Yu Gi Oh! Duel Links is a digital card game)
Admittedly, this isn’t much of a “bad”. You might even argue that it isn’t a bad at all. Yu Gi Oh! Duel Links is a digital card game. Okay, we are in agreement. As such, we have to take the bad with the good. I’m only including the bad to stay on format. Why? Is it even that great of a gimmick?
The tutorial is short. Maybe for some of you that’s a good thing. As a longtime novice in the game, this worried me. Also, I enjoyed the spectacle of the tutorial. Hmm, maybe I would like the show, but probably not. As a card game tutorial, it was fun. As a full length show, not so much. But, I digress. My main point is that I wish the tutorial was a bit longer.
Another point of contention follows directly from the idea about the show probably not being very good. I had to walk away from the game for a few minutes. When I came back, I started to notice the background music. Rarely is that a good thing. It wasn’t this time. The music is annoying.
Two weak “bad” points about the game and I still nothing about why it is “bad” that the game is a digital card game. Patience, I’m getting there. After finishing the tutorial, the main game opens. On the right hand side, there is “news”. Part of the “news” was a welcome pack of 3 packs plus an ultra rare card. Only available for 7 days! Sure, it was only 99 cents, but this constant push to get people to pay real money for digital goods is annoying to me. Plus, the packs only contained 3 cards.
The Verdict (Yu Gi Oh Duel Links is Fun)
I reiterate that I haven’t played any PvP duels yet, so I can’t comment on that aspect of the game. What I saw of the interface I liked. I could only come up with two minor bad points and the one thing that irritates me about all digital card games. There is no ugly as far as I could see. Usually, those show up pretty early in the experience. I can say with confidence that I will be playing more of this game. I’m not sure yet if it will make it into the rotation as a regular, but maybe I’ll sign the boys up and we can play a few games of digital Yu Gi Oh!
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!”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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