By The Numbers: Week 9, 2019

Another week in the books, and I’m happy to report that the Packers improved to 7-1 on the season. The undefeated 49ers are the only team with a better record in the NFC, and the undefeated Patriots are the last team left in the AFC. At this point, I’d wager that the Packers have had a harder schedule than either of those teams, and I honestly think we could beat either one of them in a big game, and we’ll probably be able to see that happen later in the post season. Whatever the case, I had a very good week with picks and if I can keep up this sort of pace I should be able to finish this season out stronger than the last couple. Take a look:

Vikings 27, Redskins 13 – Correct
Seahawks 28, Falcons 10 – Correct
Bills 24, Eagles 20
Bears 27, Chargers 21
Lions 20, Giants 10 – Correct
Texans 21, Raiders 17 – Correct
Jags 23, Jets 13 – Correct
Rams 30, Bengals 10 – Correct
Saints 35, Cards 23 – Correct
Titans 21, Buccs 20 – Correct
49ers 26, Panthers 24 – Correct
Colts 27, Broncos 24 – Correct
Patriots 42, Browns 20 – Correct
Packers 31, Chiefs 20 – Correct
Steelers 28, Dolphins 13 – Correct

Week’s Score: 13-2
Season Score: 77-43

A nice improvement of the overall record there. Honestly I thought I was going to get 100% this week due to the fact that the Bills should have beaten the Eagles, and the Bears should have beaten the Chargers. But so it goes. Honestly at this point I just hope my team doesn’t implode and that we keep up this amazing season. Let’s make picks for week 9:

49ers 27, Cards 21
Texans 23, Jags 20
Bills 24, Redskins 13
Titans 21, Panthers 17
Vikings 24, Chiefs 20
Jets 21, Dolphins 13
Eagles 21, Bears 10
Colts 27, Steelers 23
Lions 20, Raiders 10
Seahawks 28, Buccs 16
Browns 20, Broncos 10
Packers 35, Chargers 14
Patriots 31, Ravens 28
Cowboys 24, Giants 20

I’m taking a couple of risks here, thinking that maybe the Browns can outplay the Broncos who no longer have Joe Flacco (not that he’s done much this season). I also think that the rest of these teams should be able to come up with the W, but in the end it is an “any given Sunday” sort of a game. I just can’t wait to trounce the Chargers, one of the local teams around here who have obnoxious fans despite being to only one Superbowl and losing it. These guys are clowns and I think they should move on from Rivers, but what do I know? We’ll check back in next week and see how it goes. Until then.

League of Legends Ports and Other Riot Games

I can’t recall the actual day, but recently Riot Games had a 10th anniversary livestream featuring League of Legends and other stuff. First of all, what an accomplishment to keep LoL going for ten years and building the Esports community up around it. Professional play has gone from some nerds in back rooms of warehouses to huge arena-filling events with famous live performers and a quality of production rivaling ESPN and other mainstream outlets — all of this on what I’m sure is less income and all done over the Internet eschewing traditional TV outlets. I started playing LoL back in 2011 which was around the end of season 1 heading into season 2. I’ve seen the majority of the champions release, I’ve seen a ton of events and in-game happenings along with changes to the game, its launcher, the main maps/modes, and Riot itself. I’ve watched the World Championship nearly every year since I first heard about it. I’ve watched regular season games of each of the major regions, even participating in their Fantasy League (like Fantasy Football) for a couple of seasons. I’ve collected vinyl figures, owned T-shirts, and have a rather large poster hanging on my wall. You could say League became a major part of my life, despite the fact that I haven’t really played very regularly in the past couple of years. Still, when I heard the news coming out of this live stream, I knew I had to talk about it. To be fair, there’s even more that was announced that I’m not going to touch on, but IGN has a great article encapsulating all of the news.

What excited me the most out of all that was said during the live stream was that League of Legends will be ported to consoles and mobile. Called “Wild Rift,” this version of League is not a direct port, it’s the same game rebuilt from the ground up for these other devices. I’m not a huge fan of complex games on mobile phones because usually the screen isn’t big enough and touch controls can be pretty wonky… but on console, I’ll play the shit out of this. It’s not so much that I dislike the game on PC, no, I’d rather play it there. But I have friends who don’t own PCs and probably never will, along with having never played LoL before and I’d love to introduce it to them. Also, the potential for a nice long trophy list makes the trophy whore in me lick his lips. I did play a different MOBA on PS4 recently and it had some fairly intuitive controls, so I assume if they are anything like that, this version of the game will be very enjoyable even with a controller in lieu of keyboard/mouse.

Teamfight Tactics, which I wrote about when I first tried it (and I’m still not into this auto-battler genre) is getting ported to mobile now as well. This makes sense since their main competitor DOTA Underlords is also both on PC and mobile. I assume this would probably be more fun on a mobile device since you can be doing other things while playing it. I get bored too fast with this type of game so this news wasn’t particularly interesting to me.

Legends of Runeterra is new. It’s not an existing game getting ported to other devices. It’s free-to-play. It’s a card game. That’s really all I know. The above trailer will give more detail than I can. What I do know is that I do enjoy card games. I just haven’t really found a digital one that I can play for a long term. I did play Hearthstone for quite a while, but then it got stupid (as Blizzard games tend to do). I can’t get into any of the Magic: The Gathering digital versions because I simply like playing the paper version so much more. This is a world/lore that I enjoy, and depending on what they do to make this stand out from the competition, this could finally be the card game I play when I need a fix.

Project A, as it’s being call at this juncture, is Riot’s attempt at a tactical FPS, but also looks to be a hero shooter. So think games like Paladins or Overwatch. I’m intrigued by this one, mainly because it’s such a far cry from a MOBA and this company has only been known for one game for so long. A card game based on the world is great and all, but I’m a FPS player through and through, so this is very appealing. My hope is that they do something different enough to make this feel better than existing games on the market. Graphically it looks okay, but I think that will get bumped up a notch when it gets closer to release. Gameplay looks fine, but I want some heroes with crazy abilities and I want tight gunplay. I’d also like to see some objectives and things that are different from what’s out there, but time will tell. Keeping an eye on this one.

Project L was announced as a fighting game. If this is 2-D hand drawn and plays like a Street Fighter title, I’m all in. If we’re looking at more of a Tekken style fighter, I’m less excited. We’ll have to wait for more details but I love me a good fighting game and Riot has already developed so many cool characters I’d love to fight as them. It’s unknown if that’s what’s happening or if all of the characters would be original. Also keeping an eye on this one.

Lastly, stuff that isn’t game related. A documentary about LoL called “League of Legends: Origins” was released on Netflix the other day and I watched it. It was a really good look into the origin of the company via Ryze and Tryndamere, along with the rise of the game itself and Esports. Basically all stuff that I lived through, but fun to see it in a different context. If you haven’t paid attention to LoL or Esports, or just don’t “get it,” I’d recommend giving this a watch. Also, an animated series called “Arcane” is being developed and looks to deal with stories about LoL characters. You can watch the trailer above, it looks really cool and I’ll definitely watch it when the time comes.

That’s all I’m going to touch on today, but some exciting stuff coming down the pipeline. There were a few other tidbits in the article I linked at the beginning of this post, so if you haven’t had your fill you can read more there. What do you guys think about Riot Games finally branching out?

By The Numbers: Week 8, 2019

Another week down, and another win for my Green Bay Packers puts them at 6-1. We’re really only one botched throw away from a perfect record, something only the Patriots (7-0) and 49ers (6-0) can say to this point. I’m sure there will come a time when both of those teams drop a game though, and then we can start talking about how Green Bay is better than them. Whatever the case, Rodgers had a career day, completing over 80% of his passes for over 400 yards, threw for 5 TDs and also ran one in. Oh, and he became the fastest player to 350 touchdowns. All great stats, and this game might shut up the haters for a little while at least. Yeah, the last two seasons haven’t been great, but this one is starting off fantastically, and we’re almost halfway through the season looking stronger each week. The Defense is doing its job. The Offense is finally starting to match that production. A more complete team means more wins, and hopefully hoisting the Lombardi trophy come February. Another challenger arises next week in the Chiefs, but with Patrick Mahomes out with a knee issue, we just might put a stomping on them too. Let’s see how I did with my picks this time:

Chiefs 27, Broncos 21 – Correct
Rams 21, Falcons 13 – Correct
Bills 28, Dolphins 10 – Correct
Jaguars 24, Bengals 10 – Correct
Vikings 21, Lions 20 – Correct
Packers 27, Raiders 19 – Correct
Texans 31, Colts 20
Giants 10, Cardinals 9
49ers 30, Redskins 14 – Correct
Chargers 21, Titans 16
Saints 31, Bears 27 – Correct
Seahawks 27, Ravens 21
Eagles 30, Cowboys 27
Patriots 35, Jets 14 – Correct

Week Score: 9-5
Season Score: 64-41

Looks like a pretty decent week. I would  have never thought that the Ravens could go into Seattle and come out with a win, especially with everyone practically crowning Russell Wilson the MVP already (I don’t see how you do that after the season Rodgers is having, but it does come down to a complete picture so we’re not there yet), but they did just that. They’ve got one of those read-option QBs that does a lot of running, and for whatever reason that seems to win some games, but it doesn’t win you championships too much. So everyone calm down about it and let’s move on. My record for the season is getting closer to .500 and I don’t like that so much. Got to do better down the stretch to improve over last year. Let’s make some more picks and see what I can do.

Vikings 27, Redskins 13
Seahawks 28, Falcons 10
Bills 24, Eagles 20
Bears 27, Chargers 21
Lions 20, Giants 10
Texans 21, Raiders 17
Jags 23, Jets 13
Rams 30, Bengals 10
Saints 35, Cards 23
Titans 21, Buccs 20
49ers 26, Panthers 24
Colts 27, Broncos 24
Patriots 42, Browns 20
Packers 31, Chiefs 20
Steelers 28, Dolphins 13

We’ll check back in next week to see how I did. Oh, and one more thing: GO PACK GO!

Early Impressions: Borderlands 3

The king of Looter Shooters has triumphantly returned. I first played Borderlands back in 2010 upon purchasing my Playstation 3 (it was actually the first game I purchased during that generation) and instantly fell in love. The 3-D but cell-shaded art direction, the sense of humor, and most importantly, the RPG progression and loot system all hooked me right in. Truth be told, I played that game more than any other in the series, maxing out my character level and completing all of the DLC, also collecting the platinum trophy. I would play through it again a second time with my roommate, and from there he was hooked too. We purchased the sequel on day one. We played through it a couple of times but I only scraped the surface of the DLC, only coming back to the game most recently to play through the added DLC that bridged the story gap between sequels. Despite Borderlands: The PreSequel being a similar type of game and one that bridged the story between 1 & 2, it didn’t hold my attention long enough to finish it, and once we had the proper release of 3, I knew I probably wouldn’t go back. Having played the newest game, I can confirm that going back to the older games would be difficult. So many quality of life improvements have me spoiled and I’m not sure I could do without them again.

Fans of the series will be familiar with the above splash screens — each time we’re introduced to a new/returning character or a boss, we’ll get these art pieces displayed across the screen for a few moments, and then either the fight or dialogue proceeds. So far, nearly every character that has existed in the series has made an appearance, outside of those that are now deceased (Handsome Jack, Scooter, etc). I picked up the game a few days after release when I got paid, and my best friend got his copy as well. Once we decided which classes we were going to play, we got down to business. The new classes are sort of a mixture of new and old ideas, where my friend is playing the Operative that is most similar to the soldier class from past games in that it gets a flying drone that functions like a mobile turret. Whereas I’m playing the Gunner who gets to summon a bad ass mech suit and blows shit up real good.

As I was speaking of quality of life improvements, one thing I really like is the fact that you no longer have to collect cash, ammo or health vials, you just have to walk close enough to them and if you have the space/need, you’ll collect these pieces automatically. That alone sells this game, as there is a lot of looting to be done and I can’t be bothered to click on each dollar bill I see. Gunplay is also improved in my eyes. This is a new engine, and despite the fact that the game looks the same as it always has (with improved visuals of course) it runs smoother and I feel that the controls are more precise. Gun fighting always felt a bit floaty in the earlier titles and it feels like that’s been tightened up. I heard complaints that the game didn’t embrace a more open world model, but I don’t think that’s an issue. It’s always been sort of an instanced shooter, with dungeons and a world that feels like some MMOs I’ve played. Fast travel is still there, but the ability to actually leave Pandora presents itself and soon enough you’ll realize you can explore places you hadn’t heard of to that point. Vehicles are back, and there are multiple varieties, but now you can customize and upgrade them which is a nice touch. Vehicles will appear in certain areas that you can steal in order to get more parts for yourself as well. Changes to the skill trees means that you get multiple ways to customize your character, and you’ll be able to further augment your ultimate ability in ways that hadn’t be available in the past.

The new antagonists aren’t as interesting as Handsome Jack was. Nor are they as funny, but they serve their purpose. A pair of Sirens that have formed a cult and feed on their followers, they seem pretty twisted but also non-threatening. We’re working for Lilith and fighting for Sanctuary, which is now our flying space ship after the city itself was destroyed. A corporate war is raging, and some of the planets you’ll go to house complexes where these corporations have weapons and armies stashed, and it’s our job to fuck shit up. We end up working for Rhys as well, but in the process are putting together vault keys on other planets. It’s not quite as engrossing, but the mechanics and gameplay are still amazing, so I’m not as keen on the story anyway. I’ve put in close to 20 hours so far, but am exclusively playing with my best friend for the time being. I think after we complete the main story I might start up some new characters, but we also know DLC will be out soon enough, so there should be more to do soon enough. I’m having a blast so far, and I haven’t been this hooked by a game in a while. I highly recommend it, especially if you’re bored with the Destinies and Divisions out there.

By The Numbers: Week 7, 2019

It’s that time again. I know that this week was a weird one, and that will be reflected in my picks — I went with some sure bets and then some where I’d be some kind of genius for picking them if somehow they were to win. Whatever the case, we should probably look at last week’s picks before getting into further commmentary.

Giants 24, Patriots 20
Panthers 21, Buccs 20 – Correct
Ravens 27, Bengals 14 – Correct
Seahawks 28, Browns 13 – Correct
Saints 30, Jags 20 – Correct
Chiefs 28, Texans 23
Dolphins 21, Redskins 9
Eagles 23, Vikings 17
Falcons 21, Cards 13
Rams 31, 49ers 27
Titans 17, Broncos 10
Cowboys 35, Jets 14
Chargers 20, Steelers 9
Packers 27, Lions 23 – Correct

This Week’s Score: 5-9
Season Score: 55-36

So yeah, obviously my worst week of the season so far. I knew I was going out on a limb that the Giants would beat the Patriots, and so that was kind of a giveaway. I also had no clue who was going to win between the winless Redskins and Dolphins so that was a coin flip away from going my way (particularly because the game was decided by a point). In other cases though, you can’t blame me for picking the way I did. Who would have thought the Cowboys would give the Jets their first win of the season? Did you see the Texans beating the Chiefs? I didn’t either. Whatever the case, what’s done is done and I can’t really be bothered by it. The same way Lions fans shouldn’t be bothered by being “robbed” on calls. We’ve already lost a game this year due to poor officiating, and let’s not get into games like the “Fail Mary” from the past. It happens to every team, get over it. With that said, I’m glad we were even able to be in that position, because honestly we let the Lions get out ahead too easily. Things settled down and the defense made some stops, but in the end a penalty caused a FG attempt to turn into a touchdown and another penalty gave us the ability to spike the ball with two seconds left to play for a chip shot field goal by Crosby to win the game. I’ll take it, but I didn’t like it as much as other victories this season. Still, the Pack are 5-1 going into a match against the Raiders, whom I don’t really see being as much of a challenge. We’ll see how that goes, but for now let’s make picks for the week.

Chiefs 27, Broncos 21
Rams 21, Falcons 13
Bills 28, Dolphins 10
Jaguars 24, Bengals 10
Vikings 21, Lions 20
Packers 27, Raiders 19
Texans 31, Colts 20
Giants 10, Cardinals 9
49ers 30, Redskins 14
Chargers 21, Titans 16
Saints 31, Bears 27
Seahawks 27, Ravens 21
Eagles 30, Cowboys 27
Patriots 35, Jets 14

We’ll check back in next week to go over another week of football. Until then.