The Drawbacks of DRM

Hey guess what?
More MTG card spoilers!
I'm obviously not playing Diablo 3 very much these days; thanks to DRM and my very slow internet speeds, playing at 800 ping isn't doable. 

I don't think I've ever been excited for a Core Set in Magic as I have been for 2013. Tip of the hat to Wizards who did a good job designing exciting cards like this one:

I love unblockable creatures, but I also love rogues.. boats.. and 2 color synergy! Hmmm.. I don't have a black/blue deck yet.. now might be a good time ;)


Don't Wake the Dragon

So today's article at the Wizards site talks about how they designed a new dragon card for the Magic 2013 core set. It was an interesting read and I always like one mana drops... but that normally means that there is a huge drawback which will stop you from using it til the 3rd or later turn.

A 3/3 for only one mana that has Flying? Nice.. but it can't attack or block until it has 5 +1/+1 counters on it. Blah. In my meta game, I don't think people tend to attack early unless you're totally defenseless. People like their big behemoths to trample through you.

Then I thought.. hey.. I like using green.. and I have a few cards like this:

Not to mention other.. cards (Increasing Savagery)... muhahaha...


Dragon's Roar

Probably one of my strongest decks, my dragon themed deck. It seems that Wizards have a soft fuzzy spot for dragons. In nearly every set there is some wicked-sick dragon that makes me want to add to my existing deck.

I don't budget very much money at all on MTG these days (except of course to get good replayability with DoTP 2013), so only pure luck will have me ever adding that dragon to my deck, which is ok, b/c I don't like to play with mythics. =P


The Quest System

Have you seen those university courses where the syllabus is structured like an mmo with quests, bosses and achievements?

I've read alot of self-help books in my time, as I learn best by reading and my dad has a huge collection from his days as project manager. A common theme about being successful is plotting a timeline of things of what you want to accomplish, when (to be completed)and how (you'll do it). Although I believe in this system, I honestly don't practice it too much in real life. The closest I get to is mapping a goal out, how I can accomplish it, but sometimes there is the fear of failing at something that big, holds me back.

A close friend that knows me very well put it to me that I tend to over-think situations and sometimes I just need to take the leap and not be afraid to make mistakes. I'm deathly afraid of making mistakes in life (vs games/mmos) and thats why I plan so much but takes me so long to get started.

I wonder if I set up these goals more like an mmo, with quests, bosses and achievements, that maybe i'll have a better chance at accomplishing them. That a different system of accomplishing goals will provide better incentive to see it through. 

I find that when I know I have things to do, ill write it down on a lined piece of paper, so that whenever I have a free moment, ill look at it and work on one of those tasks. Its nice to see when you complete them, but as the books state, when you don't put a deadline to them, sometimes they aren't completed. For example, "make peanut butter chocolate chip mini cupcakes for the first time" has been sitting on that paper for the whole week. I promise ill do it saturday... unless I go shopping for clothes instead since I have a gift certificate. Its one of the things on my list (shopping) soo.. thats ok. Kinda.

For us mmo gamers, maybe approaching completing tasks in real life should be put in the same form as an mmo. We have a quest, this most cases, a timed one; I personally hate timed quests, but it did usually mean we'd finish that first. There would be little check marks under the quest title that were steps you needed to finish in sequence to complete your quest. There will be a boss battle at the end, which if you defeat, meant your quest is complete. Once the quest was done, you'd hand it in and get rewards including achievements.

I think we tend to focus on the boss battle which scares us, while we forget to be greedy (Money is not bad, it is the love of money that is the root of all evil) and think of why we're doing the quest: Loot. We need to think of the rewards we'll get for completing said quest. Sometimes we also get the intrinsic value of the journey of doing the quest too which is great. As well as the 'Tome of Knowledge' unlocks we get that we can refer to in the future when we encounter the same 'quest' or 'boss.'

The biggest thing when completing real life quests is that because we're focusing on the boss fight, we ignore the rewards. By getting hyped on the fat lewt, it'll motivate us to accomplish it faster, instead of dragging our heels. Sometimes we need to spend that extra couples seconds/minutes thinking hard about what that reward is and if you somehow can't think of a reward tangible/intangible, then we should find something we can reward ourself with. Whether its a new video game, our favorite treat or something we've desired. I've never understood it until I just wrote this, but another quote: "always pay yourself first, then pay everyone else." Meaning, make sure there is something you benefit from by completing the task so that you have that motivation to complete the goal.


Duel of the Planeswalkers 2013: Now Available!

Just an FYI, you'll probably miss out on the pre-order bonus of Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 by time you read this which unlocks 2 decks (Ajani and Garruk). Not to worry, if you have a friend you can duel, you can easily unlock all the decks anyways. AND part of the fun about DotP is winning without being cheap and unlocking the cards yourself.

Only 10$ and you really can't go wrong with that. Great time to try Magic if you're unfamiliar with it. I think... this was how I initially got interested in the game; I had bought the 2011 version because it was nostalgic (played it in highschool) and very reasonably priced at 10$.

Lets try this again (I wrote this out but it was all highlighted.. grrr)
The special edition comes with:
- official soundtrack
- 5 wallpapers
- a PDF graphic novel
- 10 foil conversions
To me, not worth an extra 10$, but for those crazy about Magic and have money to blow, why not?
One of my fave photos I took from 2 weeks ago.



I have a soft spot for the color red
Black Exalted? Doesn't make sense to me; I guess everyone except for the one (sucker) forgot to attack. Apparently quite a few people that like the Exalted mechanic.. I don't like it very much.. unless you have Trample and normally these type of creatures are low on the toughness scale. Exalted reminds me of the Ally mechanic but one that is very one-sided.

Anyways; I don't like the Wizards website as its sometimes hard to find the upcoming set's preview cards in one place. This was the best I could find right now.


MMONBI: Newbie Cleanup

Removed a few blog sites from my blogroll that I got from the MMONBI master list.. b/c there were so many, I didn't do a background check on each site and somehow had added a golf club website (gamingbrew.com)..??? Very weird. Like I wrote about before for my advice article, I don't like it when people are uncouth or swear in their entries.. doesn't make you sound very mature. But otherwise there are a ton of great new blogs out there, keep it going!


Check out this article about this suit of armor hoody!

It screams nerdy, and I so want to get it.. but will never wear it out in public... mayyybe for ComicCon and hopefully impress some girls that likes nerds. Lol.

This article talks about some uncommon equipment that you'll find in the new Magic 2013 Core set. Normally, I dislike the Core Sets, finding them a waste b/c they recycle the vast majority of the cards and normally not containing enough good cards to warrant a buy. 

I then looked at this equipment and had the same response "meh." But then I looked closer, my eyes widened and "woah! That ain't too shabby!" Who really cares about the haste.. but +1/+1 counters on the equipped creature IF its red? Thats pretty cool.

//edit: well.. it certainly feels like they reprint alot.. apparently they pare down the duplicates each year..

MTG: Odric's Army

Wizards... you're doing it again.. teasing us a bit.. but I see it! And I like it ;)

 Can you tell whats special about that photo? Or this one?


 Yep, you guessed it, the symbol of Avacyn in the Magic 2013 Core set card art.. just like the other day where it had Return to Ravnica flavor text.. pretty cool :)


Welcome Their Return

The people at Wizards are pretty clever people.. I like it.

After the release of the Magic 2013 Core set (see above), they're going to start talking about the next block: Return to Ravnica. Personally, my favorite set besides the Zendikar block, Ravnica: City of Guilds is an amazing set. I loved how there were factions for every 2 color match. How each had their own flavor, but I get off topic. Notice that flavor text at the bottom of Yeva's Forcemage? Just a little teaser that will lead us to Return.

You may not have been as powerful as the pure white Ally deck, but you were one of my favorite cards!

X-Com Enemy Unknown: Wishlist

Now that the news is out there, lets think about this: X-Com Unknown Enemy (XC:UE) is a 're-imagining of the series.' That sounds like to me, that it'll feel like the original game that we played, but with many (?) liberties taken. The biggest one, it being available for the 360, PS3 and PC. Before, exclusive to the pc, now available to consoles makes me cringe as it normally means a dumbing down or simplification of the game. I love my complex games, but recognize that streamlining games (I find Diablo 3, being a good example with it's skill system) can make games better.

Things I want Firaxis to keep:
Mini tanks
Tanks were extremely fun to use in the original game; sometimes if my dropship could handle it, I would put 3 tanks in my party.. obviously, not very effective (being that they were big targets and limited the soldiers I had on foot), but it was fun.

Limited ammo
Should ammo be limited? At first I wanted to say 'yes', but then I thought, it can be streamlined in that you have a cooldown on powerful weapons. Say with a rocket launcher, it takes an extra step (or alot of action points) to reload/load ammo, kneel, aim or shoot. while a shot of a rocket launcher will be powerful, it will be limited, while a person with an assualt rifle, could have moved much more and got many more rounds off at the enemy.

Critical Fails
Sometimes that grenade didn't get thrown the way you wanted and stopped short. Sometimes you watch in horror and see it bouce off the side of one of your own troops. Critical Fails.. they suck.. but it happens. Reload button.

Time system
Allow you to speed up, slow down or pause the game. Need to micro manage, slow it down or pause it. Need to manufacture some items or research something? Increase the speed.

The ability to name your soldiers
Nothing makes you care more about your soldiers than by being able to name (and hopefully) customize their appearance.

Things I want Firaxis to improve upon:

Make it clear and simple to know what you can do with your turn; how far you can move and what you can do afterwards. 

Some sort of tech tree a la Civ 5 that allows you to see what you can research and what alien resources you need for it.

Ensure each map is randomized, especially for plot scenarios (ones that always happen). If the map is going to be the same, then ensure the monsters are placed in different places, have different vehicles in different spots etc.

Balanced enemies/game. I found the lobster men in Terror From the Deep to be true terrors in the game. Tough armor requiring you to use strong hand-to-hand weapons.. but still possessing powerful ranged weapons, was a bit unfair. 

Same thing with weapons, abilities, skills; make it balanced. In games like Diablo 3, its nostalgic to have Shocking Bolts for the wizard, but it is one of the crappiest abilities ever. I doubt less than 1% of the wizard community use that skill. There should be many different ways to play the game effectively although there should be ways to gimp yourself as well. In original X-Com games, you could use the rocket launcher only if your character was strong enough. And even if they were strong enough, their mobility was drastically reduced and their ammo was severely limited.

A sandbox-scenario mode; one where you can create your own map, place your own buildings, cover, enemy and unit placements. One that you can share with others and play yourself.

A horde mode; everyone loves a horde mode where enemies just keep coming and coming. One of the best things about a horde mode in games is that it breeds very good map design. A successful horde map is one where you can operate defensively but the enemy has many entry points.

A better resource system; while in Heroes of Might and Magic 6, it was very different to only have wood, ore, crystal and gold as the main resources, it did streamline things and let you concentrate on other parts of the game. To craft items in original X-Com games, you needed to gather resources via successful scenarios against the aliens. I didn't like having to rely on that as I wasn't very successful against them. Humans should be able to manufacturer similar materials for advanced tech, whether it be more costly, or result in inferior replicas. Thats ok, thats their technology we're trying to copy. 

Buy Now system. You're waiting for your new laser weapons to be built in your factory, but an alien attack has begun. Without these new lasers, you'll be at a severe disadvantage, with them though, you'll be the aggressor. Spending 2-3 times more than it normally would cost, you are able to properly equip your troops.

Fluff. I'd like to be able to make a design for my xcom team. I want an insignia, it want to have different colors and armor appearances for my soldiers. Make me care about them. Hawke? Oh he's my dead-eye sniper. He is swathed in camo gear, wears a purple beret and has an advanced eye enhancer that allows him greater accuracy. That sounds much better than John Smith, just another grunt to be sacrificed to the alien masses.


Diablo 3: Friend System Weakness

Per the above, DotP 2013 is coming out soon; only 10$ for the standard edition, 20$ for the special edition for fanatics. Looks like it has a Planechase mode and uses cards from the recent Innistrad block.


Lets talk about Diablo 3 for a moment; I simply do not like it when people join your game and they are 10+ levels higher than you and the rest of your group. Its obviously no challenge to you, since you're so high level and you don't even need the gear that drops at this point. It becomes pointless for us because you are killing enemies too fast. If I was the type of gamer that just was in it for the instant gratification, then this would be great; just follow you and wait around for easy xp and loot. 

But I'm not. My game has been corrupted now.

What was a semi challenge in Nightmare mode has become just as easy as Normal mode with you flying 4 screens infront of us because we can't keep up. And you're ignoring most of the map, just bee-lining directly to the boss and teleporting us there. 

This is the weak leg to Diablo 3's friend system: if your buddy has friends that likes to use their incredibly high level character and joins your game, there is no way to stop them. It becomes an awkward situation to tell them when they don't have any other characters to use. I wish there was a way your could customize your 'room' so that you could restrict the type of players from joining your game, b/c now I have absolutely no urge to play anymore.

I guess I'll wait for Borderlands 2 and X-Com: Unknown Enemy.


X-Com: Your Wildest Fantasy Come True

I seriously will need a new pair of pants now that I've seen this article.
One of my earliest exposures to turn-based strategy games.. X-Com was one of my most beloved games. It was very hard and I rarely won a map without losing all of my soldiers.. but it was incredibly satisfying when I downed an alien.

By the way, this isn't the same X-Com game that you've read about before and are incredibly disappointed with; this is going to be like the old X-Com you know and love. October can't come fast enough now!

Go here for the official website and more information!

Grabbing Opportunity

Remember that MMONBI article I wrote a while back on how one must always be ready to write or take a photo? This was one such case; for some reason this bee was attracted to the garden hose and even when I moved it away, it lay still. I dashed inside, grabbed my camera and inched closer and closer. And voila!