Viernes Negro

I made out like a bandit this Black Friday, and didn’t even have to leave the house. I only spent $26.43 and ended up with 7 games. There were some merchants that I’ve dealt with in the past that also had Black Friday deals, and had I a fortune to spend I would have loved to have picked up some items that weren’t gaming related. But that’s ok, this is the first time I’ve really participated in the Black Friday thing, and I’m anxious that Cyber Monday will also try to empty my wallet.

I started thinking about all of the advertisements I had seen that also had an online counterpart, and thought that I’d look into what was on offer. I was up past midnight last night, so I thought I’d try to be like the people who camp out, and “get there early.” I didn’t really see much that I was interested in, and I visited Amazon, Wal-mart and Gamestop. I know there are many other retailers out there, but those were the ones screaming at me via email. I knew there had to be more coming, so I went to bed with the intentions of checking things out again today.

This morning I looked at my phone and had new emails. Some were repeats, along with one from a band merch store. There was some good stuff there but the discounts weren’t deep enough. After sifting through them all I ended up at, who’s whopping 70% off of a large selection of games was too good to pass up. I was bummed that none of the games on my wishlist ended up on sale, but I did end up picking four games out of the selection. Strangely enough they are all strategy games, and that is something that has been missing from my gaming diet as of late. I used to be a big RTS/TBS nut, and aside from playing Civilization V a couple years ago, I haven’t played many games from the genre in too long. All four of these games also come from a time period when I didn’t have a computer in the house, or from when I just got back to having one, and started playing MMOs. Here’s the games:

Celtic Kings – Picked this mainly because I’m of Irish/Scottish decent, but also sounded interesting.
Imperial Glory – This reminds me of Civilization and the Total War games.
Praetorians – This is more like an Age of Empires clone.
Warlords Battlecry 3 – This one is supposed to mix RPG/RTS elements, and that’s intriguing. I only got the 3rd game of the series because it was the only one on sale, but if I enjoy it enough I might pick up the first two, which are both available through the service.

I then checked out the Humble Bundle Store and Steam. I’m more into the DRM-free stuff from the former (and GoG) so I avoided purchases on Steam. I’m also using a shitty laptop for gaming right now, so I can’t run half of the games that I’d want anyway. Indies and old games run just fine, and the HBS is all about Indies. Rogue Legacy was on sale at HBS (and their own home site) and was one that I was interested in when I saw it on GoG, but it wasn’t on sale there, so I purchased from HBS. All of the games I’ve mentioned thus far I have yet to play, and will be detailing them either individually or via the State of the Game column.

Next up was a stop at the Playstation Store. I had heard rumors that there was going to be a Black Friday sale on the actual store, and those were true. It wasn’t a huge selection and other retailers more games on offer, but these were all digital downloads and that has become my preference as of late. I’m not sure that the two games I picked up were part of the holiday sale, but they were on sale nonetheless. There were AAA titles that I would have liked to purchase but the discounts weren’t that great as they were featuring games that released within the last few months. The games I picked up:

God Mode – An arena based 3rd person shooter. This is more session based, in that you enter an arena and kill stuff, pick up power ups, and earn xp/gold from individual matches. You can then buy/upgrade guns and customize your character. 4-player co-op. I convinced my roommate to buy as well, and we’ve been having fun with it.
Worms Revolution – I think Worms 2 was the first in the series that I played. It was back in the 90s, but the series still feels the same. They have added classes and other bits and pieces but overall it’s easy to jump right back into. I have yet to try multiplayer but it sounds promising.

And there you have it. 7 games for under $30. As if my backlog wasn’t crowded enough. I need a 2-3 month vacation from life just to complete them all. What can I say I’m becoming a collector. How did you make out for Black Friday?

The State of the Game: Session Based Gaming

This week my play time was limited again by social interactions. Damn those friends pulling me away from my games! I have also fallen into a pattern of playing “Session-based” games. Games like MOBAs are inherently session-based, because each game begins and ends in the time you are playing it, but even games like FTL and SOTS can be played in this manner, because much of the time  you will start the game and die in one sitting. I actually have yet to have a time when I stopped playing either of those games and came back to the save point at a later date. With that said, these are the games I have been playing: Awesomenauts, League of Legends, Sword of the Stars: The Pit and Faster than Light.

I only played a few games here and a few games there. I’m nearing the end of my 7th prestige level, and still keep finding ways to climb up the leaderboards. I’m now sitting at a 15558 rating, which is good enough to put me right around the 2000 rank on the board. So out of 90k players of the PS3 version of the game, I’m in the top 1 or 2% — something like that, I’m not actually doing the math. For shits, here are my overall account stats:


Faster than Light:
Between this game and SotS, I’ve been having fun dying over and over again and not reaching the final destination. The fun thing about these games is that despite dying after getting farther than you have before, you gain experience with the game, and that never hurts. In FTL, while playing the game you can meet certain conditions to open up other ships, and once you have done so, you will have a better chance to get farther along in the game. An example is one of the ships will unlock for you once you have entered (completed?) sector 5. My best run thus far has been to sector 4, and I had to turn the difficulty down to easy to even get that far. The punishing nature of this game is part of the appeal, as it makes me feel like the good old days of gaming are back, Permadeath and all. Last week I had written that I have made a couple of runs, and how they had ended. This week I only had a couple more runs, the first being on normal, and ending in combat in the third sector. I had found some better weapons (hull laser) and also purchased a new system for my ship, the droid control. This came in handy during combat, as instead of having to unman a station and send my crew to fix damage, the repair bot does it automatically. Knowing that this feature was in the game, I made sure that on my 4th run that I bought the droid control right away. My 4th run was on easy, and I managed to get a bit farther, making it to the 4th sector, although it would have been nice to get to that 5th sector for the better ship. My goal now is to try and get there, on easy or otherwise, then once I have a better ship I can return to normal. I feel like a chump playing on easy, but in these types of games there really isn’t much shame in it. Here’s the stats from my runs, the highlighted areas are new records made during my last run:

I hate the Kestral
I hate the Kestrel

The Pit:
I haven’t made a new record for floor depth on SotS just yet. I have made quite a few more runs — I’ve played this game more than anything else this week — but I was mainly trying out other classes and seeing how many recipes I could dig up. I have added to my recipe list considerably, but there is much more out there that I still can’t create. During one of the games, I decided to try out the Striker, which is one of the races added with the Gold add-on. This odd bird/snake creature has some distinct advantages over the humans, but some disadvantages as well. Skills wise, it is somewhat pigeonholed into playing a ranged/psionic role. It has high brains and psionics to start, along with a spear that can hit from longer distance than normal melee. I felt like I could kill just about anything that came my way, as long as I hit first and killed first. The Striker is a bit on the squishy side, and that is the trade off. He wasn’t so bad at foraging though, so it did help with collecting recipes/messages. I didn’t get too far though before starving to death, and that seems to be what kills me more often than not. I’ll be trudging along just fine, but cannot seem to find any food. Recipes should help this, as the combined ingredients seem to give more food than the ingredients alone.

Where's all the food?!
Where’s all the food?!

Last night I decided to switch things up a bit, and I started a game with the Marine on Insane difficulty. I watched a video of a player do exactly that, and it didn’t seem all that difficult. I tried to follow his tips/strategies and let’s just say I didn’t make it all that far before the biggest baddies ever started showing up. One the very first floor I encountered a MK II security bot that made things difficult. On the second or third floor there were already giant Proteans, which split into smaller Proteans when you kill them. I was able to destroy a group of them with the grenades in my inventory, but then I was attacked and killed by a giant bunny. Yes, you read that right, a GIANT BUNNY. Sadface.

What a way to go…

League of Legends:
In league, I’ve been playing ARAM, and as I mentioned in my last few posts, mostly fine tuned my new masteries and played some of the featured game mode, One for All. I am loving the support love that has come from the masteries and item changes, but I am not so fond of this particular featured game mode. The upcoming mode for Howling Abyss that features 1v1 and 2v2 does sound awesome though. Snowdown brings with it a lot of new and old content for sale and to earn, so I’ll be writing about that when it comes through, along with other changes as they happen.

One for All

A while back it was announced that there would be some new game modes coming to League of Legends. These were going to be on a limited time basis, and based on community feedback, some might make it to the live game as permanent queues. I completely forgot about this in light of being focused on Ranked and then not playing quite so much league after the season ended. A few days ago, the first of these promotional game modes went live, this one being called “One for All.” The premise is simple, each team is made up of five of the same champion. This sounds like a cool idea, until you really think about it. How many champions can you list that can effectively play all roles? There aren’t many I’d put on that list. Even with those few champs that can do it all, there are many champions that will counter  you no matter what you do. It’s just completely unbalanced, and I really can’t get into it.

It seems to me that it would only be a viable option if you had a pre-made that all could agree on a single champion that they are all effective with, in their particular role. One champion I can think of that can shine in any role is Elise. I prefer her in the jungle, but I have played her mid, top, and support. Never as an ADC, but I’m sure it could be done well enough. But what are the chances that four of your friends can also play her well enough, in any given role? It just seems ineffective. Sure, it’s mindless fun, but I am too competitive for that. I want to win. Or at least have a decent shot at winning. 5 Nidalees vs. 5 Tryndameres just isn’t my cup o’ tea. I down vote this game mode, and I hope the next one is more fun.

Speaking of which, it has already been announced. The next featured game mode is coming during Snowdown, the annual Xmas Holiday event. Taking place on the Howling Abyss this time, the new mode will be 1v1 and 2v2. I think this is a mode I can get behind, because I always like to 1v1 and my friends never want to do that. 2v2 also sounds intriguing, as there are some nice duos in my champion pool. Snowdown is also coming with new skins, ward skins, summoner’s icons and once again the legacy skins for the holiday are coming back for the limited time. The list of skins included:

  • Snow Bunny Nidalee
  • Workshop Nunu
  • Happy Elf Teemo
  • Earnest Elf Tristana
  • Old Saint Zilean
  • Re-Gifted Amumu
  • Santa Gragas
  • Reindeer Kog’Maw
  • Candy Cane Miss Fortune
  • Ragdoll Poppy
  • Nutcracko
  • Silent Night Sona
  • Festive Maokai
  • Bad Santa Veigar
  • Mistletoe LeBlanc
  • Snow Day Ziggs
  • Dark Candy Fiddlesticks
  • Toy Soldier Gangplank
  • Snowmerdinger
  • Slay Belle Katarina
  • Snow Day Singed*
  • Snowstorm Sivir*
  • Winter Wonder Lulu*

Lastly, the next new champion has been revealed, his name being Yasuo. From what I have read, he is a fighter that is supposed to go mid lane. He seems weird, and I’m not impressed with his kit. I’m waiting on seeing some video and trying him out before I give an actual impression. Check him out here.

*These are the new skins debuting this year. Those without an * are from previous years. 

(Pre)Season 4 Masteries

Edit: This information pertained to old Runes/Masteries. While I am always updating my information on the site, I am aware that search engine queries are pointing at this post due to page rank. For updated Runes and Masteries, follow this link.

Preseason is here, and with it, many changes are coming for League of Legends. The first Preseason patch (3.14) hit the servers this week, the focal point being re-worked masteries. This is an important part of League’s metagame, and as such it is important to get your masteries right before the season starts. I have written about Runes and Masteries a few times in the past; my most recent post about Rune pages are the ones I am currently using. Runes are supposed to be changing soon, I will update those as necessary when the time comes. For now, I have come up with what I believe to be a good starting pool of Mastery pages for any role on Summoners rift. These pages can also be used during other game modes, though some roles might not be deemed necessary (People rarely play true support in ARAM/Dominion, and there’s no jungle either).

Attack Damage - Utility
Attack Damage – Utility

This page is for your Marksmans and Assassins. 21/0/9 gives extra attack damage, speed and penetration, and the utility of movement speed, reduced Summoner cooldowns, increased potion duration and trinket range, along with the extra buff time.

I feel like double-edged sword is too detrimental to be helpful. Extra damage is nice, but taking extra damage is counter-intuitive. Butcher and Feast don’t seem worth the points, for only 2 extra damage to minions/monsters, and 2 health/1 mana restored on kill. The Spell and Blade Weaver abilities are also new, and I really don’t feel that the extra % damage is going to help much unless you are able to spell/auto/spell/auto and that’s not always going to work out. Taking AP-related slots is an obvious no-no, as should be Arcane Blade as it adds extra damage based on AP ratios. On the Utility side, you may recall I used to use Mana regen, but those points were required to get the extra mana and that was my reason for it. They have since moved the mana further down the tree, and now health regen based on mana took that spot. ADCs don’t have all that much mana, so this feels like a wasted point, as does the enhanced recall. This felt like the logical setup.

Ability Power - Utility
Ability Power – Utility

This is the page for your Mages, or a Support class on Howling Abyss/Crystal Scar. AP-Utility is set up precisely like the former page, with a couple of tweaks. Instead of the AD influenced masteries, we use the AP influenced ones, and instead of Frenzy we’re using Arcane Blade for the same reason I already discussed. On the Utility side, we are using the mana/health instead of the movement speed and jungle buff. I chose this because I rarely play mid on Summoner’s Rift, so I’m not needing the extra buff time on blue. It made more sense for ARAM, where I play mages all of the time. If you play mid, feel free to use the point differently, but that goes for all these builds, this is just a general guide.

Attack Damage Tank
Attack Damage Tank

This tree is for your Tanks that are AD focused. 9/21/0 gives a nice blend of attack damage/speed for early game, along with all the tank masteries you could want. We’re avoiding the paltry 2 hp regen, along with the jungle mob buffs. I dislike Oppression, it’s 3% damage reduction against CC’d targets is too situational. The couple of points of MR from Resistance would have been nice, but it’s counterpart Evasive is negligible, reducing AOE damage by 4%. Again, situational. 10% off slow effects from Swiftness is ok, but I chose to use points elsewhere. Runic Shield is garbage, a refreshes-by-death 50 point shield? No thanks. I wanted Second Wind to help out with sustain, but ran out of points. These choices, to me seemed the best.

Ability Power Tank
Ability Power Tank

This page is literally the same as the former, but using the AP related masteries in the Offense tree. For AP Tanks.

Attack Damage - Defense
Attack Damage – Defense

You’ll probably notice a pattern by now that very little about these pages are changing, but the scenarios where you might only need slight variances are endless. These seem to be what have worked best for me. This is the AD Bruisers page. For when you need more Attack Damage, but need some extra Defense to go with it, rather than the Utility. Good for champions that need to be able to off-tank but still put out good damage.

Ability Power - Defense
Ability Power – Defense

This is the same page as above, AP-flavored. This is going to be your AP Bruiser page, or for when you’re playing an AP champion that needs a little help being less squishy. I’m looking at you, Kassadin.


Finally, some new material! There has been much love and care going into helping out the Support class, and the Utility tree is a reflection of that. This is your Support class page, which will pretty much only be used on Summoner’s Rift, as other maps usually don’t use Supports in the traditional way (I build a mean AP (insert support champ here) on Howling Abyss). 0/9/21 provides maximum gold production and some defense to keep you alive. The Defense portion is just like the previous pages, and the first half of the Utility tree is the same as well, but towards the bottom you will see the extra gold per 5, for being near minion deaths, and for hitting champs. I opted out of the movement speed at the top of the tree for the final point, and also avoided the spell vamp (negligible) and jungle buff (not reserved for you), and the extra xp for being near a higher level allied champ. The latter seems cool, but I haven’t really ever had trouble being underleveled in season 3. I may rethink this later.


This is what I’m calling my Jungler page for now. I ended up rethinking my jungler page late in season 3 because I was primarily using Hecarim, and the build just worked right. I have modeled this page after that page, but the masteries are tweaked just a bit because of the changes. I still feel any jungler can use this page because of the added damage to jungle mobs, plus health/defense bonuses, movement speed to get around the jungle, some extra cooldowns, more sustain from potions, and the recall is actually helpful for junglers. Obviously we don’t need the gold per 5, but those could be optional to help with gold hungry or slow junglers.

There is still a good chance that these will change before the season is live, so check back often for updated posts! More to come on other preseason changes as they roll out.

Delving into The Pit

I was bummed when GoG’s Fall Sale ended, and I hadn’t gotten in on the action. I don’t know all of the games that were on sale, but the ones that popped up weren’t ones on my wishlist. I actually was waiting while the last game ticked down, and then the message “promotion has ended” appeared. While it was still running, I would do a lot of browsing while I waited on the next game, and as a result I discovered a game I had never heard about. Scratch that, a whole game series and development company that I had no idea existed. The game in question, is Sword of the Stars: The Pit. Kerberos Productions created the Sword of the Stars universe years ago, starting with a Sci-Fi RTS. Several expansions later, a sequel was also produced (these games aren’t available through GoG at this time), and finally we come to The Pit, which is nothing like its predecessors from what I’ve seen. If I had to pick one “good old game” to compare it to, I’d say Angband, which is one of the granddaddies of modern day roguelikes (along with Moria, NetHack and many others). I spent many hours playing Angband, but never managed to beat it. That game had 100 levels though; this game, even with the expansions, is only 40. But that’s not to say it’s easy, it has been challenging and perma-death is no joke.

On my first run, I didn’t read the manual. I didn’t read any web sites. I just jumped into the game figuring that I’d be able to figure it all out on my own. I started the game on normal. Since I got the Gold package there were more than just the standard three characters to pick from, and I settled on the Ranger because the class sounded cool.

Green Ninjas? Fuck yeah!

This class ended up being pretty well balanced, and came with some skills that came in handy, but I didn’t really understand what all of the skills would do for me in game, and after having played for a while I realized that I probably shouldn’t have put all of those points into skills I wouldn’t use as often as others. Basically, I wasn’t properly informed/prepared to get going in the game. But being a roguelike, I assumed death would come fairly quickly for me, and it surely did. The game is a top-down view with fog of war and line-of-sight making for highly tactical combat. This isn’t as evident when you’re just starting out against rats and bats, but when you have to start positioning yourself appropriately to avoid gun fire, you’ll need all of the tools provided to you.

Line of sight example
Line of sight example

One of the most important parts of the game is inventory management. I really don’t remember it being such an issue when I played Angband, but perhaps that was because I never really made it all that far, or used up items faster. I don’t recall. Drops are abundant to begin with, and you’re always carrying around multiple weapons plus tool kits and portable crafting stations, and all of the ingredients. Pretty soon you’re having to play the inventory juggle, and that get’s old pretty fast. Protip: every ten points in the might stat gives an extra column of inventory space. Invest those points early!

Inventory + Stats
Inventory + Stats

Stats are pretty straightforward, you will earn two points per level, along with six skill points. Some skills will take one point to level, and others will take two. Sometimes when you skill up, it will give you multiple points, but I haven’t figured out if this is random or level specific. Many of the skills are important for combat, as you don’t want to waste ammo being inaccurate, or be missing all of the time with your melee weapons. The other skills are related to scavenging what you can from the dungeon. You’ll have to play to really understand what everything does. My adventure with the Ranger was cut short, when I walked into the wrong room a little too fast and was mowed down by security bots.

She will be missed
She will be missed

This happened on level 9, during a single game session. The early levels move pretty quickly, but the difficulty can ramp up pretty quickly. After my first death, I took the time to look into more information about the game. The obvious answer is the game’s wiki, but it is a little impersonal (though the wiki does have a fantastic recipe list) and sometimes forums and blog posts or videos can help put things into perspective. Everything I read advised starting the game on Easy, because the difficulty is a little more forgiving for a little while longer. It was also advised to play the Engineer, as he has higher skills aimed at decoding messages that are important for finding recipes. I ended up following this advice, and rolled up an Engineer:

Go Team Nerd!
Go Team Nerd!

The Engineer is definitely squishy. He’s the nerdy guy that has high intellect and wants to hack computer terminals. And fix things. And make sandwiches. The easy run started off fair enough, and it seemed like more improved weapons and items were dropping regularly. Ingredients were more plentiful, but I did seem to have an early shortage of food, but not enough of a shortage to be a problem. I also discovered the rest function on this run, which takes quite a while to execute, but is well worth it when you are low on health items. Here’s some cool items/augments I found on my run:


As I said I was basically doing this as a run to get as many messages deciphered as possible to make recipes easier later on when I go on to the higher difficulties. Apparently you can have the ingredients to make an item, but it can still fail if you haven’t discovered the recipe in-game on your own. This seems to be a form of cheating prevention by the devs, as they know how quickly the Internet is updated with that type of information. Good on them, but it’s kind of annoying. As such, I wasted quite a bit of ingredients trying to make food, and starved to death as a result. I had many many medkits and tons of ammunition, I could have made it much farther than level eleven, but I starved to death. Oh the irony.

I'm hungry.
I’m hungry.

I have yet to make my third run. I’m debating whether or not to stay on easy difficulty and try the engineer again, for the sake of farming, or if I’ll try a different character. Apparently the saves are independent, so I could have multiple games running at once. Also the achievements and recipes (everything in the sotsdex) carry over into other playthroughs. I guess we will see. I can’t recommend this game enough to strategy/rpg fans, or players of the roguelikes that I mentioned earlier. It’s only $12 for the gold edition, and GoG always includes extras. Check it out.