The State of the Game #16

This week was unusual in that I basically picked up Hearthstone and never put it down, until last night. After my last post I jumped into Skyrim, which is becoming an annual thing for me. I was looking through the trophy list, and I earned my first back in January of 2012. I came back to the game and did some trophy cleanup last year in March, as I was aiming for the Platinum with the intentions of getting the DLCs for the game back then. I picked up this blog again in May, so you’ll know that I was all over the place for the remainder of that year, yet never picked up those DLCs until now. New trophies were earned last night, making this my third annual run. That’s all I’m going to say about Skyrim for now, as I am writing up a dedicated post for my first adventure in new areas.

So Hearthstone. Definitely a new game in my rotation, as daily quests keep incentives high. The only way to earn gold in the game outside of daily quests is to win three games which nets 10 gold. A pack costs 100, so dailies are the only thing really pushing you towards that total with any sort of speed. I have a feeling this will be altered by the time the game releases, because it is leaning towards pay-to-win. There are a limited number of cards though, so if you were to pay for a larger portion of packs at a time — let’s say you spend $50 and treat that as the “cost of the box” — you would most likely complete most of the decks for that cost, and can use the crafting option to disenchant extras and make ones you need. So that’s affordable for most people, and would put you on a level with the people who have the pay to win mindset. But that doesn’t help your skill level, deck building, nor does it help with the random element of card games, which can make some games un-winnable from the start. So the question of “pay-to-win” comes down to patience vs. money. If you are patient, you could eventually earn enough cards to “finish” sets. But then expansions will undoubtedly add more cards, so there will always be a strain on your patience, or wallet. Either way, people who are willing to pay for more cards will have the potential to build better decks than someone who plays for free, but isn’t that the way it works with F2P MMOs as well? The subscribers aren’t limited to what they can access, so really it’s the same thing, and there isn’t that much of an advantage given to those who pay for more cards, if you are clever and know what your deck can do.

I have a couple of tips for people just checking the game out. First, make sure that you once you are done with the tutorial, that you play all decks to at least level 10 — this can be done via practice and the AI is a bit easier to beat than real people. No matter how you choose to do it, it is an important step because not only does that level unlock all of the basic deck-specific cards, but this also gives you an understanding of what each class is all about. Once you have opened all of the classes, you can then play their expert level AI which will add to your challenge, but I got bored of playing bots and went live right away. This did give me a disadvantage when it came to knowing what each deck had to offer, but I did find some insight into how people play. You can’t complete quests unless you’re in “play” mode, so when you feel comfortable get to clearing those. Through this course you will earn packs or gold to buy packs and can also experiment with crafting to build better decks. Practice makes perfect.

A few posts back I mentioned a teaser over at the League website, and I had guessed that it was in regards to Vel’Koz. I was wrong. The little bit that I quoted was for a new skin – Scorched Earth Renekton. Didn’t see that coming, but I was right that Vel’Koz is coming none the less. Here’s his official kit:

Passive: Organic Deconstruction

Vel’Koz’s abilities Deconstruct those they strike. After being hit three times by his abilities, minions, monsters and enemy champions are Deconstructed and suffer bonus true damage. Enemies lose their Deconstruction stacks by avoiding Vel’Koz’s attacks for a short while.


Q: Plasma Fission

Vel’Koz fires a plasma bolt that slows and damages the first enemy struck. Once Plasma Fission hits, reaches its maximum range or is reactivated a second time, the bolt splits at a 90 degree angle. The split bolts deal the same damage and apply the same slow.


W: Void Rift

Vel’Koz sends out a straight line blast that tears open a temporary rift to the Void before exploding. Both the initial tear and the delayed explosion damage and apply Deconstruction stacks to caught enemies.


E: Tectonic Disruption

After a brief delay Vel’Koz disrupts a nearby area, damaging and launching all enemies caught into the air. Enemies hit that are close to Vel’Koz are also knocked back slightly.


R: Life Form Disintegration Ray

Vel’Koz channels a ray of infinite energy that follows the cursor for a brief while, damaging, slowing and Deconstructing all enemies in range.

He sounds pretty cool, and I’m interested to give him a whirl. That’s it for this week’s edition. Here’s another pretty picture before I go.

VKC

Excuses, and some Loot

I was going to write up a strategy post on deck building, champion selection, and touch on the kind-of-sort-of “pay-to-win” aspect of Hearthstone, but then I got distracted. Mainly by playing more Hearthstone. When I wrote my first impressions of the game, I was playing the Warlock and seemingly could not lose. For the next few days, all I did was lose, so I thought maybe it was too soon for me to be throwing around strategies or terms like “pay-to-win.” I will have more commentary on the game soon-ish, but for now let’s say I need to work some bugs out. But, I did have some other little tidbits come up within the last couple of days that I wanted to share, though I didn’t want to include them in the State of the Game post that’s due out tomorrow (or maybe later today depending on where you are).

Unlike last year, my student status didn’t delay my tax return. The influx of resources has had me taking care of some business but also looking for indulgences. First I had to pay off some debts (damn those responsibilities), then I picked up some new struts for my car that are going to be installed tomorrow, which will put it in tip-top condition again. There are a few other things I need to take care of that aren’t worth mentioning, and then there’s the new computer I’m planning to build. To be honest, I should say that my father is building it, though I will be doing the physical part he is helping me find the best bang for my buck. Somewhere along the lines I got left behind when it comes to computer hardware. I was looking at what I thought was a pretty sweet DIY combo deal on New Egg, and it turns out that wouldn’t have been much of an upgrade from what I have (what I am currently using is a four year old laptop that was middle-of-the-road when I first purchased it — gaming wasn’t on my mind at the time). I knew my Dad would be a wealth of information on the subject, so I’m glad that I went to him for an opinion before buying anything. Anyway, research is being conducted, and I’ll have more on that later!

In the meantime, I was itching to buy a new game. I know, I just got Metro for free last week (and I have played it some, more on that in SotG). I was playing through Doom 3 the week before. I was doing something else before that, then Hearthstone came up, etc. Now I’m planning on building an MMO machine and going back to that whole mess. So why do I need a new game? Because.

I took my usual routes.

GOG.com – I’m interested in the Banner Saga after reading about the game on Keen & Graev’s
Humble Bundle – The Sid Meier’s Civilization bundle is awesome, but meh. All I really want is a copy of V and the DLCs, but none of the older versions.
Playstation Store – Nothing worthwhile on sale, nothing I see worth spending $60 on.

From there I was thinking I could just see what brick and mortar stores have on sale, or what I might be able to order from Amazon at a good price. I started off at Gamestop’s website, and wasn’t really seeing anything until I remembered that I’m a rewards member and maybe there was something cool I could redeem. My account showed over 10k points, so I browsed the catalog hoping to get a PSN card or some other form of game/discount. I was out of luck on that front, but ended up grabbing this t-shirt:

3470p_0c_2m

There was another shirt that I would have preferred, but I fell short on points so I went with the classic. I was surprised to find out that both shirts were actually from a 3rd party website, and because of using my points for the above shirt, I would get 10% off of anything else I ordered. Adding a second item would also qualify me for free shipping. I know a good deal when I see one. So I picked up the other shirt as well, this one is League of Legends themed:

4017p_0c_2bIf you are unaware of how this is related to the game, Pentakill is what is called out when you deal the killing blow to all five members of the enemy team. In the game’s lore, there is also a 5 member band called Pentakill. Sona is one of their members, and I actually have that skin in game. I’m also a huge metal-head so this appeals to me in that band shirt sort of way. \m/

Still with me? Ok so I set out to buy a video game, and got a little side tracked, but this is all still gaming related! Once I realized that none of the brick and mortar establishments had anything I was interested I moved onto Amazon, and learned something new. I knew that some retailers had started allowing digital downloads of software (outside of the usual outlets like Steam), but I guess I just assumed that only PC games were included. Turns out you can buy full on downloads of games via sites like Amazon, and then use a key to download the games from PSN onto your system. It really works exactly the same, except there is a nice discount on quite a few items on their list. Some games seemed to be equally priced with the Playstation store, but one gem was shining brighter than the others — all three Skyrim DLCs bundled, for half off.

Sold. So I scratched any of the other options for now. The rest of my money is going to the computer build. More to come.