The War Report: Magic Game Night

Some new products coming down the pipeline have been announced by Wizards of the Coast outside of the normal scope of things. The next major set, Guilds of Ravnica is set to release in October, and the rest of that block won’t be out until next year. Otherwise, we have a few supplemental products coming out and one in particular caught my interest.

Magic Game Night is a box set (like Explorers of Ixalan that released last year) that comes packed with five 60-card decks (one for each color) and accessories like life counters, etc. This is clearly a product intended for new players, as if you take a look at the decklists, there aren’t really any money reprints (aside from Ghalta) and most of the cards are coming out of the current standard sets. There’s nothing amazing here, but I do believe that veteran players can get some value out of this box set as well. If you read the comments on the above linked article (or even in my conversation with my playgroup) you’ll see a bunch of negativity here. Comparisons to Explorers of Ixalan and the fact that it had “better” reprints in it, that there aren’t any valuable or powerful cards in the box and other negative comments are abound. For the MSRP of $40, I think there’s a ton of value here for anyone, and I think I’ll pick this up when it comes out in November, if for no other reason than there won’t be any majors sets to invest in for a couple of months at that point. What really interests me though, is the five new cards included in the box:

Honestly, it’s just the red and black cards that I want, so perhaps I’ll only buy the singles, but as I said there is other value in the decks, cards that are EDH staples and would find homes in other decks. These new cards aren’t amazing, but I like the fact that they are multiplayer-matters cards (perfect for EDH) and the Goblin Goliath and Rot Hulk want to go in existing EDH decks of mine. Krenko loves goblins with good effects, and this one is not only a large body but should in most cases create three 1/1 tokens for you. It has the activated ability to give double damage to a single source as well, which could make a big difference. The Rot Hulk on the other hand wants to go into my Zombie EDH deck, as it will in most cases recur three zombies from your graveyard straight to the battlefield. It’s also a 5/5 with menace and I have a ton of lords in that deck that could make him huge!

I sort of like the other three cards. The Angel would probably be best in a Knight deck, as it will create some 2/2’s with vigilance but you’ll have to spread out your attacks before casting it. A little on the slow side. The Avatar is good ramp, but it helps everyone at the table. I’d put it in my Selvala group hug deck I suppose. And the Sphinx is okay, being 7 cmc it would fit into a Yennett build who cares about odd cmc, and it’s a 5/5 flier so that’s okay. You should get at least a couple cards off of its ETB, and it has the bonus activated ability to make thopters, so it could fit into artifacts decks as well. Overall I like these new cards and it’s a shame there aren’t more.

I would encourage you to check out the deck lists that I linked to above before buying this product, but if you’re new to Magic it’s a great way to get a large chunk of cards all at once, and tuning these decks wouldn’t take much effort. If you’re a veteran I’d still say there’s value to be had here. I intend to grab one for myself.

Dwaddling About: ESO

I had forgotten just how big The Elder Scrolls Online really is, especially now that it has had a bunch of DLC’s and two Expansions added to it. I originally purchased the “Tamriel Unlimited” version off of Steam at some point when it was on sale, so right around the time the game went buy to play. This was prior to any of the expansions, and it appears that the highest level character I had was a level 12 Templar. Having been away from the game for a few years, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew that I enjoyed what I had seen, but several key changes have happened that I had no experience with. First, they did the whole level scaling thing throughout the world, so now it doesn’t matter where you go, the content scales to your level. This is a boon for those that want to group, but in my case being a primarily solo player it probably doesn’t mean much. I had no idea what I was doing on my other characters (also have a Nightblade and a Sorcerer) and never really progressed too far, so I decided it was probably a good idea to just roll a new character. The new Dragonknight seems fine, and it appears that there is a new starting area, as Morrowind is part of the free content at this point.


It’s still the same sort of tutorial, but it still seemed different from what I can recall from the original game. After leaving the beginning area it seems that we are either in a Morrowind zone or nearby, I’m not really certain. The meat of the game seems to be the same but of course there are a ton of new things to do because of all the xpacks, and apparently you can access them all with the subscription fee, or purchase them in the crown store. I’m not about to spend any money at this point because I know that I have a habit of only playing MMOs for a month or so before moving onto other things, but a bunch of people in my social feeds have been talking about it and I’ve been craving an Elder Scrolls game for a while now so here we are. This will have to do until TESVI.

Dwaddling About:

I’ve been running around the beginning zone doing quests for randos and it’s been pretty fun. I do enjoy the action oriented combat that ESO brings to the table, and it still feels much like Skyrim in most ways so I’m getting the fix I’ve been looking for. The game looks even better now that I’m running it on my 2k monitor, and it’s still smooth as silk even on ultra settings. So far I’ve leveled to ~7 on the DK, and I’m just trying to familiarize myself as much as possible before I go back to some of my other characters.


Another new addition since I’ve been gone is housing. I stumbled upon this mudhouse in my journeys and popped in to check it out. Reminds me of the Inn rooms from EQ2, and I’m not even sure what things you can place in a home. I’ve not really paid attention to housing in most MMOs (save for EQ2, which was one of the best at it) so I’m not sure what will come of it but I know the housing in Skyrim’s DLC was worth having if nothing else than for storage, and also to have your wife be a shopkeep and earn you money passively. Not sure if those correlations exist here but I’ll find out eventually.

Goals for now are to just level up a character and see more of the world. I’m glad that I can play through the Morrowind areas without having to buy anything or pay for a sub, so I’m going to try and work through what I can without the subscription. If I stay hooked then I might spring for the sub just to play the wealth of DLCs, but I believe I have to pay for Summerset, so that is probably the last thing I’ll do. They did add a new race (which I’m not really interested in) and class (Warden, which I would like to try) which can be purchased in the store, so I’ll probably spring for that eventually. Or I’ll be done with the game in a week. I guess we’ll see, won’t we? If anyone is playing this and has a guild they want to invite me to or wants to do some group content let me know!

Thoughts on Torchlight Frontiers

It’s been almost a decade since the first Torchlight released on Steam. It essentially boiled down to being a typical Action RPG in the vein of games like Diablo or Fate, and borrowed ideas from other ARPGS on the market. It was a little more light-hearted and colorful than its brethren, and had some interesting ideas. It’s sequel expanded upon its established formula, and both were well received by gamers and critics alike. I played both, and enjoyed both though I think the sequel was a little bit more polished. Each had some nice ideas like having a pet that not only helped you in combat but could also be sent back to town to sell unwanted loot. There was an endless dungeon mode that gave some replay ability, and the ability to retire characters and pass on goodies to a new one. For the most part it wasn’t so much that Torchlight did things differently than other games in the genre that set it apart, it just did everything well and was nice and polished. It also came during the time frame between Diablo II and III, so there was room for other developers to get their idea of what an ARPG should be out into the marketplace.

It was rumored that the developers were working on an MMO version of the game for some time, but that pipe dream was essentially squashed and if I remember correctly the original development company went under or was swallowed by another company. Whatever the case, the MMO wasn’t going to happen and we also weren’t going to see another game in the series. So it goes. Then at a recent gaming convention, we got the announcement that in fact there is an MMO version of the game in development right now! What?

The video shows off a variety of classes doing typical ARPG things, but it looks just like the Torchlight of old and that isn’t a bad thing in this case. Apparently the publisher is Perfect World (which doesn’t sound great) but the developers Echtra Games seem to be industry vets that are passionate about the project, so there’s that. This does seem to be the only game they are working on according to their website, but at least they’ll be able to focus. Let’s just hope their MMO company overlords don’t rush out a shitty project. Also, you can sign up for the beta here, I’ve already done so. It also appears that the game will be coming to both PC and Console, but these types of games don’t play so well with a controller, so I’d recommend getting it for PC.

I’m curious to see what happens. I enjoyed the class selection of the first two games, but it appears that the classes in the video are completely different. I’m not sure how this will be an MMO though, outside of playing like Marvel Heroes? I can see larger hubs where people break off into groups to grind out dungeons, or maybe it will be just like Diablo III where there’s global chat and only a handful of players playing together. I guess time will tell, but I’m looking forward to getting more information about this one for sure!

Thoughts on Stormbound

My mobile game kick continues this month with another title I’ve found quite likable: Stormbound — developed by Paladin Studios and published by Kongregate (which has hosted a ton of these bite-sized indie games over the years). This particular title grabbed my attention because it features some deckbuilding but also has some turn-based strategy mixed in. These sort of hybrid genres have been becoming more commonplace, but it takes the right mixture of elements to keep things engaging, and Stormbound manages to pull this off. You’ll start the game with a tutorial that explains the basics.

The battlefield is pictured above. This grid is where all the action takes place. Your base is the bottom triangle with the 10 on it, while the enemy’s base is the top triangle. Your goal is to summon creatures on your side of the battlefield and have them make the journey to the enemy’s base, eventually entering and destroying it. Your minions (and spells) come from cards, and you’ll only have a few when you start off. As you beat the tutorial and the game’s campaign levels, you’ll open more cards from different factions and be able customize your deck. Each minion will have different strength (number on the left of the card) and movement (on the right). Some have other abilities that trigger based on certain game states, like doing 2 damage to an adjacent enemy or giving strength to a friendly. The strength of a unit is represented by the number of soldiers that occupy that unit’s square, while the movement stat applies the turn you play the card: if it says 1, then the unit will immediately move to the square ahead of it, attacking enemies too if they happen to be there.

After the tutorial the campaign lies in wait to be tackled. There are four factions consisting of four levels each, so it’s not a very lengthy campaign, but each level you beat will give you some additional cards. After that, it’s up to you to battle against other players and finish daily quests to earn gold to buy more cards. Of course, this means there are microtransactions as well, but they don’t seem to be necessary to win some matches and make some progress.

Gold is the earned in-game currency, while rubies are the RMT. You can buy some single cards and books (essentially packs) for gold, and other options require the rubies but it doesn’t seem too exploitative. I don’t intend to spend any money on it, but it’s still something I like to cover when I talk about mobile titles.

At this point I’ve opened up a handful of cards from each of the factions, beaten a couple of the campaign chapters, and won a couple of PvP fights. Each faction has some uniqueness to them, but they feel fairly balanced. I haven’t done much with the initial deck given, as I don’t have enough faction cards to devote to just one. It’s unclear how much you can mix and match between them either. In the campaign I’ve used nothing but the neutral cards that I’ve opened up, and of course you only face one faction at a time so there aren’t cards from other factions mixed in from what I can tell. Perhaps you can use a mix of neutral and faction cards, but it’s not likely that you can use multiple factions at once. Either way, I’ll find what works and stick with it.

At this point I’m still in the learning stages, but I have enjoyed the gameplay enough to keep going. I’m surprised because usually I can’t find mobile games that appeal to me on a long term — in the past couple of years I’ve only really played Clash Royale, but now I’ve got four titles I’m playing simultaneously and daily. Either that means the quality of mobile games has improved lately, or maybe I’m just finally giving them a chance. Whatever the case I’m glad to have found a few titles that I take with me everywhere I go.

Thoughts on Defiance 2050

I wrote about the original Defiance back in 2014, which was about a year after it released. A game put out both for PC and Consoles that ties into a TV series seemed weird at the time, and honestly the TV show was probably the better of the two. I enjoyed the first couple of seasons of the SyFy Original series, but then it started to get lame and was cancelled. So it goes. The game continued on however, despite the fact that I literally knew no one that was playing it. I got it on sale on my PS3 and played it for a few hours. I compared it to Borderlands, but only wrote a few paragraphs in some of my State of the Game posts and didn’t post a single screen shot, so my comparisons here are strictly from memory. Back in July, the new, revamped version of the game, Defiance 2050 was released by Trion. Why it was decided to essentially rename the original game I’m not sure, because this still feels like the same exact game. Changing some marketing materials around does not a new game make. I’m not sure exactly what was promised, but the game has been pretty universally panned as just a reskin of the original with nothing new to add. I wanted to see for myself, and this time around the game is free to play instead of buy to play, and I saw it pop up on the Playstation store a while back and downloaded it.

I fired it up the other day and finally got around to checking it out. Yeah, the story line starts off the same. You get a cameo from two of the main characters from the TV series. Nothing has changed. I guess you could say the graphics look a little sharper, as the PS4’s processing power is definitely better than the PS3’s, but I’m sure on PC it probably looks identical. It runs alright but there are quite a few buggy areas and hitching in the animations. Your character looks really wonky when running and I don’t know why that is. Overall it literally is a reskin of the same game. The map appears to be the same and doesn’t have new areas that I would have expected of a game that is this old. Remaster or not, this is the same damn game from 5 years ago and it doesn’t look like much in the way of new content was added. I’ve probably put in about the same amount of time into 2050 as I did the original, and I honestly don’t see anything different. I also don’t see anything here to hold my attention.

The real reason I decided to download it is because my old roommate and I used to co-op our way through the Borderlands games, and this being somewhat similar to that I thought this might be a game we could play together with no entry fee. I did want to test the waters myself first though, and having done so I’m not even going to suggest downloading it to him. What a waste of time that was!

Final verdict: Don’t bother.