Random Friday Ramble

I already posted once today, but I thought I should get one more in today due to the fact that I haven’t been writing much of anything lately and want to get my post count for the month up just a bit. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write, I still feel the urge quite often as a matter of fact, but I haven’t been gaming as much either lately, so that makes it harder to have things to share with you. Sometimes these sorts of posts are therapeutic and allow me to gather my thoughts and thereby come to a decision.

So why am I not gaming as much lately? I want to place most of the blame on my work schedule, but I know that’s not entirely true. It is a fact that I work graveyard/early morning hours, so things like sleep have to be done during the day. We also get released at different times each day, though the average is about 10 am. On days when I’m off early, I think about all of the games I could be playing and therefore writing about, but once I’m home and settled I’m usually no longer in the mood. There are days when errands need ran and/or family obligations take up my free time. Sometimes I have visitors and other times I go to little social gatherings. My social life has improved since moving back out here, but that does detract from hobby time. I’m good with a fairly even split, but lately it feels like real life has taken more of a toll and I’m tired and grumpy most of the time, which is probably a drag for those around me. I’m coming to grip with different parts of my life and the changes that have come along with them, and these things take time.

Another part that makes me sad is the lack of frequency in which I play Magic: The Gathering. A couple of years ago I had a regular play group of 3/4 guys and we played once a week, rarely missing — this went on for at least a year or thereabouts. Then one of the guys moved and we were down to two regulars including myself. 1v1 MTG is fine, but it’s not the format we prefer so this meant going to local game stores to try and find more people to play with. We did that for a while and then it too tapered off to the point where we played maybe once a month. We had our third player out a couple of times and went to Vegas last year, but overall my time with the game is down when it comes to actually playing. I do still find the time to make new brews, keep up on news and new sets, and of course write about it — but it’s just not the same. Thankfully my sister and her boyfriend come to visit on occasion so I do still end up playing here and there, and I did make one trip out to play with my old roommate this year; Vegas is also upcoming again this summer. But outside of these rare gatherings I’m not playing much and I want that to change. I’m seriously considering finding an LGS that I can go to more often. Fingers crossed for me.

I think one reason I’m not gaming as much is because I’m not hooked on anything right now. All of the games I own aren’t doing anything for me at present. I know I have a backlog that I have made some progress through but it’s still a tall task. I was playing Destiny 2 pretty regularly but I’ve gotten bored of it, shy of completing Forsaken. There’s already rumors of a Destiny 3 in the works, so there’s the whole prospect of starting all over again by next year and I’m not sure I even want to. I wanted to grab RAGE 2 so I had something new to play on my PC which has been collecting dust lately, but then it ended up with some bad reviews and I just don’t know if it’s worth my $60. Thinking I’ll wait for a sale there. On the horizon are the Crash Team Racing Remake, DOOM Eternal, and Borderlands 3 that I’m definitely into, but they aren’t out yet so that doesn’t help. I’ve been paying attention to my wish list and Steam, we know the Summer Sale is coming soon, and I see that I could grab Battletech or XCOM2’s expansion on the cheap, but I’m not sure I want to do that either. The Steamworld series just got a new entry as well with Steamworld Quest, and that looks pretty good too for the money, but again, my malaise has been sticking for a while.

Perhaps another purge is in order. Just delete the games I’ll never feasibly see the end of and pretend they don’t exist. I’ve done it before and I can do it again. Then perhaps a shorter list will provide some answers. Or maybe I just have to buy my happiness. Whatever the case, thanks for hanging out and listening to me ramble.

Life in 2019

It’s been a couple of months since I did an IRL check-in and because the amount of blogging I’ve been doing has tapered off a bit, I thought I’d take some time on my Sunday evening (which is actually Wednesday, but such is life when you work at a 24 hour establishment) to talk a little bit about what’s been going on. First, a quick recap:

We decided to move away from LA due to crazy cost of living to a more inland location which is a place I had lived a good portion of my life. This happened back in September of 2018. We knew that we were going to move by the end of December, and though I started looking for work starting back in September, I didn’t really get much in the way of progress going until December, in which I took a few days off of work to come out here and have some interviews. I essentially applied and had the interview for my current job all within the same month, but I didn’t have any solid answers about if I actually got the position by the time we had moved out here. Things were tense. Money was tight.

I kept looking for work, but then in mid-January I was called by my current employer who asked me to go in for a drug test. I was told I would be contacted by Backgrounds next, but the call didn’t come for a couple of anxious weeks. Once I received that call it was time to produce documents, get finger printed and jump through any other hoops they deemed necessary. Thankfully I passed all of the tests and was hired at the beginning of this month, and well, that should explain some of my absence.

I work a graveyard/early morning shift. The position is salary so there are days when I get to go home early and still get paid for my eight hours, which is a plus. There’s paid benefits, retirement, etc. The hours aren’t great but the salary is decent and cost of living is way down compared to where we were, so all in all its a move in the right direction. My girlfriend has managed to get some income as well, so we are doing well again, and the stress that I had has been relieved. My schedule however is another beast. I’m pretty much used to it by now, but it is a daunting task to go to bed in the afternoon. Sometimes I come home and take a nap followed by a waking period followed by another nap before I get up at 2 am to head in to the job. Other times I stay up until the evening and then get one bigger chunk of sleep. Neither has really been a preference, and being able to have that flexibility means I can always get things done or sleep, whichever comes first.

So bottom line, I appreciate your patience with me, I hope to get back into the swing of things, but blogging on the regular is hard when you don’t have as much time to play games to blog about. I had one advantage at my last job and that was the ability to occasionally blog at work, which will never happen here. It’s not a big deal though, I have had major life changes many times over the life of this blog, so I know I’ll settle into a new routine and find the balance once again. I haven’t had as much time to game/blog, but I have been doing some stuff, so I’ll break that down for you now, as it should outline near future posts.

I didn’t have the financial ability to attend the prerelease for Ravnica: Allegiance due to the above described scenario, but having an income again means the ability to dink and dunk my way into more Magic Cards. I still have a dozen or so decks in the works and I’m always finding cards from the new sets to brew around, or cards to add to my existing decks. As such, I purchased a Fat Pack, the Guild Kits and some extra packs from the new set, and I’m happy with the purchase. I happened into Teysa Karlov and Judith, the Scourge Diva which are two decks I’ve written about recently wanting to build, and the guild kits are excellent ways to supplement your collection along with packing in cool dice, stickers and pins. My girl also got me one of those mystery cubes they sell at the box stores and I got a handful of cool cards out of that as well.

I started a big MTG card organization project. I had done this is the past where I separated all of my commons/uncommons into boxes based on colors and took the rares/mythics out and put them into a binder. Over the course of the last few sets, I acquired a good amount of cards that I had thrown into a single box and needed to sort through. I completed step one of this today by getting those commons/uncommons into their appropriate boxes, and now the other box has mainly EDH staples and things I see myself actually using in it. Next up is going through those cards to put them into current decks and those in progress. Then I’ll have to pick the next deck I want to finish and purchase the singles necessary, though I have a wishlist a mile long for singles as it is, just to have them while they’re less expensive than they’ll eventually be.

On the gaming front, I’ve been crawling my way through Resident Evil 2, and haven’t played as much as I would have liked. I intend to play more this evening. It’s been a blast from the past so far, and I intend to share my thoughts once I complete both Leon and Claire’s campaigns. I’ve also played more Apex Legends, but not as much as my best friend. I went to his house the other day and we were taking turns on his account and rolled over level 26, while I’m a lowly 13. Apparently I’ve created a monster, as I was level 4 or 5 when I first saw him jump on. We’ve found another of our local friends that plays as well, so I might just have a dedicated team of three to play with so that’s promising. I have a pretty good knowledge of the map at this point and have had a few dozen kills spread about a few characters. Still have only managed one win to this point though, but I’ve been top 5 multiple times.

A while back on Twitter I bitched about wanting my job to start because I had RE2 and Magic cards and Anthem to buy, and obviously I accomplished the former two things, but I haven’t pulled the trigger on Anthem yet. I still think it looks like a great game, but there has been a fair share of positive and negative reviews along with plenty of opinion on how it could be better or why it’s the worst. I’m completely torn about it at this point, mainly because it’s a $60 title. I could justify buying it with my next pay check, and though some bloggers I trust have said good things, I’ve also fallen into this trap before with games like No Man’s Sky or Monster Hunter World. I don’t want to end up regretting the purchase, so I’m still on the fence. Plus, I haven’t completed the last two Bioware games, Dragon Age: Inquisition and Mass Effect: Andromeda are still on my hard drive ready to go… perhaps I should finish them first?

Honestly, I don’t know what’s going to happen. At this point I’m just enjoying myself as much as possible in my free time, and I’m hoping to get more settled to where I can blog more often and potentially podcast again. Thanks for hanging out while I checked-in. Happy gaming, where ever you find yourself.

Getting Settled

First off, Happy New Year to all!

It’s the last day of the month and the last day of 2018, and as I mentioned, I wouldn’t be able to keep up my normal posting regiment, mainly because I had a big move that occurred this past weekend. The last of my boxes was emptied today, but we still have my son’s room to tackle tomorrow. I have yet to hook up my computer either, so this post is being written on my phone, so it’s not going to be very long.

Long story short, the move went well but my lady and I are still out of work for the time being, which means after the new year we have to go into full time job hunting mode. It’s stressful, but I’m already happier here than I was in my last living situation.

I should be able to get back to business as usual in the coming month, so expect more posts to come. I’ve started a new playthrough of Civilization VI as my father gifted me a copy of the expansion for Christmas and I’ll have some thoughts to share on that soon. Also looking forward to the next expansion coming in February, along with the next episode of The Walking Dead which is due out in January.

Nevertheless, hope you all have a fabulous 2019. Happy gaming, wherever you find yourself!

The Only Constant is Change

Another chapter in my life’s journey is coming to a close, with a new one being penned as we speak. My output here has been reduced a bit and I thought I would take the time to let you know why. A couple of months ago, I was presented with an opportunity to move to an area of California in which the cost of living is lower than my current location. I ran this idea past my woman and son, and after some deliberation they agreed that the change would be good for our family. Ironically, the place I am going to be moving back to is the same place that I left almost five years ago, and one in which I had said I would never return to. Life is funny that way, isn’t it?

In a “the grass is always greener on the other side” situation, I have come full circle. I have lived between a couple of locations my entire life due to having divorced parents, and as such have traveled between the two areas countless times. I’ve lived in both for stretches of time, and though I had no intentions on going back, my partner and I had decided that we didn’t necessarily want to live in this particular area forever. Cost of living is high and without top notch jobs we have been living paycheck to paycheck. We have been fairly comfortable in our time living together (about 1.5 years) but we would like for our money to go further, and this means leaving the Greater Los Angeles area. Our plan initially was to wait until we got our tax returns and then use that money to relocate to somewhere that still had a fair amount of industry but didn’t cost as much for rent and things. We have been paying $1500/month for over a year and have this new opportunity to pay less than half of that. So the move is happening, and it’s happening soon.

We’ve already put in our notices with our jobs and have already begun training our replacements. We’re due to move on the 29th, but in the meantime I have been travelling back and forth when given the opportunity, not only to help get the new place set up but also to look for work. I have put in countless applications and I’m pretty positive that I will be able to get something secured before we move, but in the worst case scenario, we have some money saved that should get us by for a couple of months. Ideally, I will be able to get her a full-time job and part-time work for myself so that I can get back to my education and finally finish off my Bachelor’s degree. Then I should be able to find something even better. Either way, I have an amazing partner and we are the penultimate team, so I don’t doubt we will pull out of this situation ahead.

As such, my posting around here will most likely be limited for the month. Oftentimes I was able to make blog posts at work during my down time, but since I’m training my replacement I can’t really get away with it anymore. Much of the time when I get home from work I either don’t have the time for blogging or don’t feel like it, so you can expect that I won’t be as active here. I do have some drafts in my folder that I’m working on though, so there will still be new content here, just not the 15+ posts I usually manage. You can expect a better output from me come January though.

Some things I’m working on for blog posts: CS:GO‘s new Battle Royale mode, The Council‘s final episode, and of course some new MTG brews that I’d like to share. I should be able to get out the once-a-week By The Numbers column as well. So bear with me for the duration of December, and expect more from me come the turn of 2019. Thank you all for your patience with me during this time.

As always, happy gaming, no matter where you find yourself!

Tastes Change

I have a long history of playing RPGs in their many forms. From JRPGs to MMOs, I’ve dipped my toes in all of the sub genres and over the years some of those genres have died off or changed in ways that were incremental and not really noticeable at the time.

Snap judgement: I am not in love with Pillars of Eternity. I absolutely adored all of the Bioware/Black Isle games from the 1990’s; titles like Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale took up much of my gaming time back then. The revival of the isometric real-time cRPG genre that’s been happening for a few years now with titles like PoE, Wasteland 2, and Divinity: Original Sin seemed like it would be right up my alley. I did of course play many of these games over the years, but as this genre moved forward into the 3D space with titles like Dragon Age and Mass Effect, I too evolved.

Because of this realization, I have uninstalled all of these titles that have been sitting in my backlog for ages that I would have believed that I would have liked but simply don’t anymore. My tastes have changed. The same could be said for a lot of other titles/genres, but this one in particular strikes me as odd. I know that with age comes changes in not only your body’s function but your mind’s as well, but I’m surprised to find myself writing these words.

I’ve been enamored with games like Shadowrun, Diablo, and some recent JRPG style games. It’s funny because Shadowrun and Diablo are both isometric like the cRPGs that I’m not longer into — but they differ because Shadowrun uses turn-based tactical combat, while Diablo is action combat and I seem to prefer both. The real-time coordination of multiple party members just doesn’t feel fun anymore. In Dragon Age or Mass Effect, the AI for your teammates can be programmed and always felt effective enough to where I could focus on my own character. In action RPGs you only have yourself to depend on so there’s never the added distractions. My tastes have clearly changed. Though I would have called Baldur’s Gate superior to Diablo back in the 90’s, my 35 year old self has flipped sides. I don’t know how to feel about this.

I do feel better about uninstalling all of those games. The backlog has shrunk and many of those games would have taken 60+ hours to complete. Gives me more time to focus on other games I would rather be playing. I’m not going to slog through something just because it *should* be something I’m into. If I’m not feeling it, I’m just going to pass. I’ve done this with other games but had this little sub genre up on a pedestal and I’ve now kicked that pedestal over. If it’s not fun, entertaining or holding my interest, it’s getting cut.

Time to dive into the games that are more appealing to the older me.