Blapril 2020

Wait a minute, it’s not August yet! Despite the fact that we’re only moving into April 2020, the world has been a crazy place this year. Bloggers such as myself find themselves with plenty of time to write about things, and once again Belghast has decided to put together a blogging challenge in the same vein as Blaugust, however we’re doing it a bit earlier this year (it’s unclear if there will be a Blaugust this year as well, but for now let’s focus on current events). This time around it’s being call Blapril (pronounced Blay-Pril) and is not only a funny play on words, but a fitting pill in these trying times. Many of us are cooped up in our houses and have nothing better to do. Some of you “essentials” are still working but could use the outlet. Whatever the case, you can head over to the announcement post and get all of the information, though I’m trying to copy down the relevant stuff here. Once again there is a schedule planned, and once again the goal is to hit 31 posts for the month, though April only contains 30 days, so I’m starting today to make sure I get my count right. Here’s the schedule as it stands:

  • March 29th – April 4th – Blapril Prep Week: This is a time for those of us in the community who have been through this process a few times or at least feel like we have figured out this blogging thing to help those of you who are new to the process to get started with some advice posts. Additionally this is a time to sign up for the Discord if you have not already and start mingling with the folks who are active there year round. This is also a time for the newbies in the bunch to get started on setting up their blog and getting those first few “Hello World” posts out there.
  • April 5th – April 11th – Topic Brainstorming Week: This is a time for the mentors among us to throw out topics and ideas for posts to help you out when you find yourself staring down the tyranny of the blank page. We all have those days when we cannot figure out what to write about and being able to fall back upon the community for ideas and inspiration is a tried and true method. The prevalence of topic ideas also helps the newbies get started a bit with a constant flow of things to write about.
  • April 12th – April 18th – Getting to Know You Week: Tell us about yourself and your preference as a gamer or whatever thing that you happen to like doing. This is also a time to reach back into the wayback machine and dredge up interesting stories that you don’t mind telling the community. For the newbies it serves as a time of introducing themselves to the broader community and bonding.
  • April 19th – April 25th – Developer/Creator Appreciation Week: One of the things that has happened over the years with Blaugust is that it enveloped some of the better ideas from other events and combined them as part of the single month long celebration. Years ago Scarybooster started this idea of devoting a week to the sharing our love of the Developers and Studios behind the games that we play. Last year this morphed a bit to also include a celebration of the various content creators that we enjoy as well, so I am officially tweaking the name of the week a bit as a result to serve both purposes. Essentially it is a time to gush unabashedly about the things that you love.
  • April 26th – May 2nd – Staying Motivated Week: Towards the end of the proceedings we start to have a drop off in post frequency as folks hit their writing wall. The idea behind this week is to share the tips and tricks that we have learned throughout the years on how exactly to stay motivated and keep posting on a daily basis. I feel like this is even more relevant this year since we are all going through massive disruptions to our usual schedules and having to deal with all sorts of external changes impacting our well being both physically and mentally.
  • May 3rd – May 9th – Lessons Learned Week: The goal as always with Blaugust and now Blapril is to revitalize the blogging community and ignite those fires fresh for another year of posting. As such this is a marathon that we are running and not a sprint, so we continue forward a little bit into the next month for folks to have that cooldown lap and talk about the things that they learned during the month. This could be a discussion of your own personal journey, or focused on some of the things that you learned from the community. The idea being to keep it going just a little bit longer so that maybe the habit of posting regularly sticks.

These are merely suggestions, as this whole thing is designed to get new bloggers into the fold, but judging by years past, it’s a similar ragtag band of adventurers that commit to the madness each year, while the new additions oftentimes don’t make it past the first few days. As such, mentors and old people like myself are here to lead by example, give tips and generally keep this thing moving forward. In years past I’ve always signed up as a mentor, but looking back at Blaugust 2019, I did absolutely nothing to fulfill this role, so this year I’m merely a participant, however you can reach me here or on the Discord channel if you feel the need for sage advice. Otherwise I encourage you to think about things to write about as you go about your day. I find that I come up with ideas when I’m watching Netflix or YouTube or even while I’m playing games. Most of the people in this group are dedicated nerdy writers so the scope can be as vast or as narrow as you see fit. Just keep writing. Start for yourself, stay for the audience no matter how small it may be. I have people who have been following me for over 15 years, and others who discover my writing accidentally but have stayed for the ride. One thing is for certain, you will see a direct result in traffic/followers proportionate to the amount of effort you put in. Those who write every day are more likely to get more traffic than those who post once a month. Promotion also helps. That’s about all I have for tips right now, but just keep it rolling. If you want to get involved, follow these steps:

How Do I Participate?

  • The first step is to fill out the Sign-Up Form for Blapril 2020 which can be found hereOnly those who have signed up will be given credit towards the awards.
  • Next make sure you are active on the Blaugust Discord and the link for that can be found here. This is the third year we have been active on Discord and it is a community that has managed to stay evergreen throughout the years. Maybe even share your content each day in the appropriately named “share-your-content” channel.
  • When you share your content on social media please use the hashtag #Blapril2020 for tracking purposes and to make it easier for those watching the event to find fresh content.
  • Mingle with your other Mentors and Participants because this is a community event, and part of the fun is getting to know the community. These folks represent a social structure that you can lean on for advice in the coming years. I personally deeply value my ties with other bloggers that I have built up over the last decade of doing this thing.
  • If you are so inclined there is a “gaming-together” channel on Discord for impromptu grouping in various games while the event is going on.
  • Welcome to Blapril 2020 as we use the power of internet togetherness to help combat those negative side effects of social distancing.
  • If you want an archive of all of the various logos and such, check out the Media Kit page which is the final resting place of all Blaugust and now Blapril related media.

Lastly, this is the most recently updated list (which includes myself as I just signed up yesterday) of participants. I recommend taking a look at these blogs and giving them a follow, they’re sure to follow you back and will help to keep you involved.

Current Participants:

That’s all for this introductory post. I already have a few posts scheduled for the next couple of days and am going to try and keep ahead of the curve. Good luck to all the new and returning participants! See you on the other side.

First Thoughts: DOOM Eternal

I absolutely fell in love with DOOM 2016. It was a reboot of the series to some degree, basically starting over what began in the 1990’s and updating it with modern graphics. At the time, my computer had just been built a few months before, so I was able to run this at Ultra settings and though I was still running my rig in 1080p, it was gorgeous. The action was fast paced, the glory kills were over the top fun, and overall it hearkened back to a simpler time when we played games by ourselves. The follow-up to that game was announced a couple of years ago as DOOM Eternal, and it was instantly a part of my most-anticipated games list. Slated to release in November of 2019, it ended up being delayed to March 2020, just in time for us to be cooped up in our houses with plenty of time to play games (or at least, this about the most positive thing I can say about the current circumstances of the world). Sadly I would not have been able to pick the game up on release, but was lucky enough to be gifted a copy regardless, so I thought I’d share some thoughts on my first 5 hours with the title.

This time around, there is a bit more focus on the story, with a multitude of cutscenes, set pieces that want you to wonder about what’s going on around you, and collectible codex entries that shed some extra lore on an otherwise straight forward demon slaying experience. Apparently the original DOOM games also had a bit of story to them, though it was never really well conveyed in-game. I suppose this is an attempt at creating a story you kind of care about, despite the fact that all of the glory takes place during combat — which is still this series’ strength. As it goes, this title follows the story of the original DOOM II: Hell on Earth from 1994. Its uncertain if this is meant as a reboot sequel as most of us expected, or if this is sort of a separate more detailed timeline. However you want to look at it, at the end of the day DOOM 2016 ≥ DOOM as is DOOM Eternal ≥ DOOM II: Hell on Earth. That isn’t to say either is better than the other, but they are certainly good examples of how a game that pushed boundaries in the 1990’s can still do so in 2020 but with far more realistic graphics. So we know that while the Slayer was out and about on Mars taking care of business a few years ago, he’s now come back to earth and shit has hit the fan. So it’s up to him to get down to slayin’ business immediately.

Unfortunately, being such an action packed experience, I was unable to get many action shots, but the backdrops I managed to capture are fascinating. Some of the same mechanics from DOOM 2016 have returned, and some have been expanded upon. Not only do weapons get upgrades via modifications found in the world, but then you can spend weapon points on additional modifiers for those mods. Once unlocking everything on one weapon you’ll be able to then complete a mastery challenge that will unlock another perk for the gun. From there, you can also put points into your Praetor suit, which are passive bonuses that mostly have to do with your auto-map amongst other things. Runes can be found that give you further passives depending on which ones you have equipped (max 3 out of 9 at a time). There’s another layer of perks called crystals that you can equip which increase your health/armor/ammo maximum amounts, but also grants bonuses to your equipment, which is a shoulder mounted grenade launcher, frost bomb launcher, and the flamer. There’s a lot of depth here despite it just being another FPS in a long line of games that you’ve already played. In a sense it’s more of the same (which was good) but takes things just that much further. I can say for sure that the movement around maps is vastly changed, with many more open spaces to jump and dash around in. This means some creative level design was in order, and I find myself having to back track a lot less as a result. However, there is a fast travel system and because of the sheer amount of collectibles and secrets you’ll want to use this system to go back and finish the content presented.

Challenges are still a thing, but this time they’re called Slayer Challenges and you have to find a nearby key before being able to access the special zone. Once you have access and head in, you’ll be in for a challenge. I think now I could probably go back and complete a few of them, but on my first attempt I was stomped. Beyond completitionist status, there is a Battlemode that I have yet to check out, but also already included with the deluxe edition, you get access to future campaign and multiplayer content. I’m looking forward to having a reason to come back to this title beyond just deathmatch, as DOOM 2016 included but I wasn’t really a fan of. Here’s hoping the multiplayer here is better, but I can already highly recommend this title just for the single player alone. Well worth the investment price, and if you can get it on sale, even better!

TWR: COVID-19 Commander Challenge

While trolling around the interwebs today, I came upon this deckbuilding challenge that was issued in one of the Facebook MTG groups I frequent. I suppose this challenge being named what it is, there’s likely someone out there who will be offended, but nonetheless I think the spirit of deckbuilding because we’re stuck at home with nothing better to do is still valid/pure. Here’s the instructions QFT:

Ok so its time to do the Covid Commander challenge.

your commander is CMC = to the number of letters in your first name.

Colors are determined by Birthdate: Feb-March: Blue

April-June: Green

July-August: Red – If born on leap day then you are Colorless

Sept-Nov.: Black

Dec-Jan: White

1-6: Blue

7-12: Green

13-18: Red

19-24: Black

25-30: White

31: your a 5 color commander or up to if you have enough letters

50’s- White

60’s- Green

70’s- Red

80’s- Blue

90’s- Black

2000’s- Roll a D6 and 6 is colorless

And now the tough part: all cards in the deck must have one of your initials in the name of the card (Initials ECR could not have Wall of Light since E, C, or R are not in the card name.

Basic Lands are the only Exceptions.

Post your Commander and the Reply with a deck list when your done making it!

So following the rules outlined, here are my starting stats:

My commander’s CMC must equal 6
It will be Black, Red and Blue
All cards included in the deck must have the letters G, P or W in the card name (this part might not be possible, but I’ll see what I can do).

Grixis is a color combination I’m familiar with, and it is powerful. Unfortunately I can’t play something like Nekusar because he’s only 5 cmc. At this point my options are:

Sedris, the Traitor King
Crosis, the Purger or
Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist partnered with Vial Smasher the Fierce

Now looking at this traditionally, I’d say the obvious choice are the partners, but since that wasn’t actually described in the rules, I’m kind of bending them at this point. Still, they are two 3 CMC commanders that are both in the command zone so I think this should work. They’re also the best for what I’d want to do, despite the fact that I have no idea what I can actually play with the name limitation. So let’s try to build a deck with this in mind. You wait here. I’ll come back with a deck list or lack thereof with some reasoning.

So it’s not the greatest, but I did manage to put together a list, solely with cards with G, P and W in the names. Most of them are cards I would play with normally, but I’d probably be a bit more mindful of the curve were this a less restricted build. Here’s the full list you can take a look at, but I’ll also post it here:

1 Ancient Tomb
1 Arcane Signet
1 Blasphemous Act
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Chaos Wand
1 Chaos Warp
1 City of Brass
1 Combustible Gearhulk
1 Command Tower
1 Commander’s Sphere
1 Consecrated Sphinx
1 Counterspell
1 Crumbling Necropolis
1 Curse of Opulence
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Decree of Pain
1 Dig Through Time
1 Diluvian Primordial
1 Dimir Signet
1 Disrupt Decorum
1 Etali, Primal Storm
1 Evolving Wilds
1 Exotic Orchard
1 Exsanguinate
1 Forbidden Orchard
1 Gilded Lotus
1 Gitaxian Probe
1 Go for the Throat
1 Goblin Electromancer
1 God-Eternal Kefnet
1 God-Pharaoh’s Statue
1 Grixis Panorama
1 Guttersnipe
1 Halimar Depths
1 Imprisoned in the Moon
1 In Garruk’s Wake
9 Island
1 Izzet Signet
1 Keranos, God of Storms
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist
1 Mana Geyser
1 Mindswipe
1 Mogis, God of Slaughter
7 Mountain
1 Narset, Parter of Veils
1 Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God
1 Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh
1 Night’s Whisper
1 Nightscape Familiar
1 Obelisk of Grixis
1 Perplex
1 Phyrexian Arena
1 Ponder
1 Possibility Storm
1 Preordain
1 Primal Amulet
1 Propaganda
1 Pull from Tomorrow
1 Rakdos Signet
1 Reforge the Soul
1 Refuse/Cooperate
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Spark Double
1 Spelltwine
1 Spiteful Visions
7 Swamp
1 Swiftfoot Boots
1 Temple of the False God
1 Temporal Mastery
1 Temporal Trespass
1 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Thought Vessel
1 Torrential Gearhulk
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Vial Smasher the Fierce
1 Wayfarer’s Bauble
1 Wild Evocation
1 Worn Powerstone
1 Young Pyromancer

The general play pattern would be to get out your commanders and play spells. There’s removal and interaction plus ways to cheat and steal. It’s definitely not a focused deck, but what do you want for something I threw together in 20 minutes? The challenge was enticing and now that it’s completed we can move onto legitmate builds. However, I am sort of interested in building this commander pairing properly, so perhaps I’ll update this in the future.


I thought I’d take a break from our normally scheduled shenanigans to address the elephant in the room.

The title of this post should be indicative of the subject matter to follow, but is still poking some light-hearted fun into an otherwise deadly-serious topic.

The Corona Virus, or COVID-19 when its feeling all fancy pants, has hit the shores of all continents here on Earth. It’s a pandemic. It’s a version of a flu virus that they talk about before the world plunges into darkness. And yet, here in the States, life hasn’t changed much. Sure, there are panic buyers, those who are not satisfied with owning ten year supplies of toilet paper along with several gallons of hand sanitizer. Those who stock up on water bottles when they could literally fill up the old ones with *gasp* tap water. We still have power, we still have gas, we still have Internet — for now.

Depends on who you listen to, what you choose to research and what you choose to believe I suppose. I guess this is a Public Service Announcement in a way. You should probably get your information from a legitimate source. Remember when they said Wikipedia wasn’t good enough for citations in college? Remember when current events were only gleaned via news outlets such as the papers or what they play on cable TV? 2020 is a whole different animal. Think of it like this: The national news media (print and film) is now Wikipedia.

Social media will turn things around on its head really quickly. Do you think it’s scary that this new virus has mutated from an animal virus and has since mutated to spread rapidly and replicate itself quickly? If you think that’s fast, just think about how rapidly stupidity flies around the world via these applications? I hear about new confirmed cases every single day, and most of the time they are getting closer and closer to where I live. I’ve heard several reports of COVID-19 in my town. But a quick search of the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) website finds zero cases in our town and very few in the county. I’m just saying, do your homework people. Don’t freak out. Maybe wash your dirty ass more often, because your lack of TP is assaulting my nostrils.

The place of business in which I find myself employed has been deemed non-essential, so we closed our doors about a week ago. The plan was simple: open back up come April 1st, everyone gets paid for the time off, and life will go back to normal. During this past week I’ve had a much needed vacation, and I count it as a blessing not needing to use my PTO for the break. Rumors started that other similar places of business would probably stay closed longer term. Today I received word that we too, would have an extended break, until April 13th. Now we do have to use some PTO and I’m glad that I ended up having plenty to spare, but if this continues on there will be financial implications. I’m sure I’m not alone in hoping that this thing passes sooner than later. I will have enjoyed the time off without losing everything in the process. If we’re still talking about closures come May 1st, there’s going to be issues.

Stress is at a high all over, and yet this is a great time to really disconnect from the worry, stay at home and reconnect with our loved ones.

I was fortunate to be gifted a couple of new games during this time and have dug in. I have much that I want to write about in the coming weeks.

Stay safe. Wash your hands. Stay at home as much as possible. Take up or reinvest into hobbies. Soon life will go back to normal and we can live our stress again. For now, let’s all just take a deep breath and relax. Cheers.

Thoughts on Blasphemous

I didn’t hear about Blasphemous upon its release last year. I also am not typically looking for Metroidvania style games to play — I enjoy them, but few do much to set themselves apart from the crowd. Recently the Playstation Store has been hosting a “Mega March Sale” and with much of the world on quarantine, it was a perfect way to pick up some games on the cheap to have something to do while social distancing. It also turns out that this game does set itself apart in ways I didn’t expect, in that it has combined elements of those games that have come before but has done so in a way that appeals to modern gamers. So yes, it’s a side-scrolling hack n’ slash game, but it does have check points, more interesting combat that evolves over time, and a fantastic art style reminiscent of the Atari/Amiga era of the 1980’s. Examples:

Thought this is pixel art, it’s very high res and the animations are smooth. Back in those early days these images would have been still with very little animation, whereas these are full on cutscenes done in this fantastic artwork. But, I understand that this isn’t for everyone, so your appreciation may vary. Blasphemous is also a rather adult oriented game. There are religious influences along with blood and gore. I’m assuming there might even be nudity, because it’s already come close, but whatever the case the aesthetic works very well for me. When you’re actually playing the game, it looks a bit different, but is still pixel-perfect:

You’ll meet a variety of characters, mostly in various states of unrest. There is a small safe area that is functionally a town, where you can save your game and use the currency to make upgrades to your fighting skills, along with infusing your sword with additional properties. It turns out there is quite a bit of progression when it comes to this, as various skill/item trees exist in the menus. Your sword gets Mea Culpas, your magic spells are called Prayers. You’ll also collect prayer beads that give valuable passives, and there are some items that increase your health, the number of health potions you can carry and your magical energy as well. This is reminiscent of the Souls games in that your only fail safes are the couple of potions you can carry, and refilling them and saving your progress only happens when you visit the shrines that are pretty well spread out.

The combat is also more than just button mashing. You have the standard sword strike, and it chains up to three times. You can duck and jump swing to hit differing enemies, but eventually you’ll run into those that have wide swinging arcs or other defenses, and will have to either slide past them or parry into riposte. These things all make more sense when you’re playing the game, but each set of enemies comes with their own challenges. Death comes early and often. Upon dying, you’ll also drop your soul, and the guilt of losing that energy weighs upon you. Finding the soul in the world where you died will gain you back the favor and whatnot that you’ve lost.

Really, if I had to make comparisons to other games, this is the 2-D version of the Souls games, but also more reminiscent of Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest. I feel the back and forth nature, along with little baubles to collect and side quests that aren’t really very defined fits the mold of that game. The gothic design of the game helps as well. Overall this was a very pleasant surprise of a game and I’m glad I picked it up. If you’re into this style of game you’ll definitely want to give it a try.