Monthly Archives: May 2012
Thanks to the Newbie Blogger Initiative a whole host of brand new blogs are getting off on the right foot. It’s actually quite comforting to know (and a bit scary as well), that your fledgling blog isn’t launching into the blogosphere completely alone and unnoticed.
I may not technically qualify as a newbie blogger, but I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have started up this project if it weren’t for this initiative. Before I get written off as a freeloading slacker, allow me to say a few words in my defense. Although technically speaking I am not new to blogging, in some ways I really am. The blog I previously maintained, Grinding toValhalla, primarily consisted of interviews I did with other bloggers. Basically, they were the ones doing all the work in answering my questions and coming up with all the content for my blog. I barely lifted a claw. So now I’m finding myself in a position where I’m having to come up with all my own content. It’s really uncharted territory for me, and the Newbie Blogger Initiative is helping to make this whole birthing process as painless as possible.
I’d specifically like to thank mighty Anjin at Bullet Points for his kind words of encouragement and much appreciated publicity, and Syp, High Priest of Kindness. I’d also like to thank all the veteran bloggers involved with this project for sharing so freely their tricks of the trade. I should probably be thanking more of them specifically, but due to my freeloading slacker genes, I’m going to end this by just saying, “Thanks to all!”
Imagine sitting around a table with 3 of your friends. Each has a hand of six cards. These cards represent your adventuring party complete with heroes, villagers, weapons, spells, jewelry and other various dungeon delving supplies. In the center of the table is a board with various stacks of cards arranged on it. One section of the board comprises the village which is made of up of wares for purchase, helpful villagers, and heroes for hire, and in one shadowy, rather ominous section at the top of the board exists the dungeon. Out of this dungeon spills a steady stream of monsters hell-bent on destroying you and the blasted village you happen to find yourself in. Based on the cards in your hand, each turn you will decide whether to venture into the dungeon to try and slay a monster or play it safe by visiting the village to purchase an item, hire a hero, or perhaps even level up one of your battle worn veterans all with the hopes of increasing your odds of slaying monsters in the future. This is Thunderstone Advance: Towers of Ruin.
Okay, getting friends to actually exist around your table is posing a bit of a problem? I can certainly relate. Lucky for us Thunderstone Advance also offers a rather interesting and challenging solo variant. I’ve been playing this quite a bit lately. As of this post I’ve clocked in 5 plays with a very respectable 0-5 record to go along with that. Did I mention the game was challenging? I’m beginning to discover some strategies now, and many of the monsters are meeting their death before leaving the dungeon. Not enough to score a win apparently, but I’m getting there.
- For 1-5 players
- 1 hour to play (or less)
- Ages 12+
Things I’ve particularly enjoyed about Thunderstone:
- After slaying your first monster you gain a familiar that stays with you for the remainder of the game. This familiar can assist you in various ways–offering attack power in the dungeon or purchasing power in the village.
- Heroes can be leveled up with experience points you gain from slaying monsters. Higher level heroes are considerably stronger and thus much more effective when going to the dungeon.
- Bringing down that particularly tough monster with just the right combination of cards can be pretty satisfying.
Things I’m not particularly thrilled about the game:
- Set up can be a bit tricky and a little time-consuming until you get the hang of things.
- Because each game is randomized, there will be games where you’ll have a tough time killing many of the monsters in the dungeon hall. This can make for a bit of a lackluster and confidence-crushing experience.
I’ve done something that renders a previous post I made somewhat obsolete. I hit level cap in Rift the other night. This may not seem like an accomplishment to many others, but it certainly was to me. My level 50 dwarf ranger/bard/nightblade is the only level cap character I currently have in any of the MMOs I’ve played.
The next time I logged in I quickly made my way to the mount vendor to purchase a swift Valmera and then it was off to Ember Isle. When I arrived I was greeted by an onscreen message informing me that Ember Isle content was designed for players with end game gear. In other words: not me. But, it went on to say, if you enjoy a challenge, knock yourself out. And that’s just what I did. Mobs were level 52 and took a considerably longer time to bring down than I was accustomed to.
At this point I had a tough decision to make. Do I start working on gearing up my character to have end game gear to make the Ember Isle content more palpable, or do I close up shop and wait for an expansion? As I tend to view the planar attunement system and gearing up a level capped character for a chronic soloer like me to be something of an unnecessary grind, I decided it was time to follow the siren’s call and move on to another game.
I would like to go on record as saying that if/when Trion Worlds releases an expansion for Rift, I’ll be back for sure.
Just some random impressions I’m left with after my time spent in the game:
–I’ve had a wonderful time in Telara.
–The art design of the world is top notch. I have particularly fond memories of my time spent in brooding Gloamwood, Scarwood Reach and Stillmoor.
–The ethereal music that tends to play while standing outside in the various terraces of Sanctum is quite beautiful and haunting. I would be hard pressed to come up with another example of in game music from another MMO that stirred me as much as this. I found myself on a number of occasions just staring out to sea waiting to hear the music again.
–From a soloer’s standpoint, artifacts were a welcomed addition to the game. Collecting shinies is something I never got tired of and on several occasions went out of my way to find some. Anything that promotes exploration in my gaming is a plus in my book.
–The game centers on rifts. They are an engaging mechanic and add a certain element of unpredictability and danger to the game—something I generally found refreshing. There were times where I wanted to turn in a quest, but the camp in which my quest giver was stationed had been overrun by a major rift invasion. Either I helped fight back the invasion so that things could be restored and I could turn in my quest, or I’d just have to come back later when the chaos had died down
Next stop for me? Middle-earth. Dunland to be more precise. Much like Syp, I’m looking to catch my second (more like forth) wind in LotRO.
My email order bride arrived in May of 2005. At the time I was hook, line and sinker into World of Warcraft. Before she got here we used to chat for several hours every Friday night, and I would bore her senseless with my WoW exploits. Lucky lady, I know.
After taking a brief hiatus from the game to get to know each other better, I returned to WoW in a more casual capacity. It wasn’t long after this that I found my wife standing over my shoulder during gaming sessions and asking me questions about what I was doing. One morning I came out of the shower to find her playing a freshly minted character of her own, and the rest—as they don’t tend to say—isn’t history.
Within a month we had purchased a second computer, another copy of the game and created her a WoW account, and for the better part of the next year we were inseparable in Azeroth.
Those were magical times. We put together a guild of real life friends and explored and conquered pretty much every dungeon the original content had to throw at us. We would take long evening walks and talk strategy and plan our agendas for upcoming gaming sessions. We considered ourselves lucky in finding a hobby we were both passionate about pursuing.
However, little did we know the winds of change were already…uh…on the wind.
In essence, our lives became more demanding. We had a son. She received a promotion at work. We purchased a home, moving further away and now had a longer commute. Our joint gaming sessions were growing fewer and farther between. And in time we stopped playing WoW all together.
Today my wife has moved on to other pursuits. She’s found out she has a talent for art and has been trying her hand at illustration. She’s even started her own blog chronicling her own adventures there.
Me? I’ve moved on to other games. I still play MMOs, perhaps not as much as I played before my son was born, but still enough to keep the passion alive and well. As far as WoW goes? I can’t seem to find any of the magic I once experienced in the game. Believe me, I’ve tried. I’ve gone back more times than I care to think about but each time for shorter and shorter stays. Although I tend to solo in most games I play, I feel particularly lonely when playing WoW. Maybe it’s because I can’t seem to shake what we used to have in the game.
I’ve lost count the number of MMOs I’ve played over the years. I would guess it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 15. I’ve probably put the most time in WoW, with LotRO coming in a close second. I’d guess Rift would be next, and I don’t really have a good grasp of the remainder. Anyway, as it stands today, outside of Guild Wars (which I’m not sure completely counts), I don’t have a single level capped character. At one point I hit level cap in WoW, but once Wrath of the Lich King launched I never caught up again. I was also level capped in LotRO, but Rise of Isengard quickly put a stop to that.
There are days when I look at my track record and think I should probably turn in my gamer card. In the cosmic scheme of things I really haven’t “achieved” all that much. It’s like I’ve started a project and never see it through to completion, or perhaps reading a book and never getting to its end. In other words, I’m a warrior with plenty of scars on his back.
But I think there is a bigger part of me that really doesn’t care that much about such things. It tends to enjoy the ride while it lasts and then, when the shine is gone, compels me to move on to another game. Life is too short it tells me and with the limited game time I have, why squander it on something no longer engaging?
All of this rambling to say, I do believe quite soon I’ll have my first level capped character in quite some time. My ranger in Rift is closing in on level 48 at the moment, and the shine is definitely still there. I realize there are several imminent releases (Diablo 3 and Torchlight 2 come to mind), that will no doubt be competing for my time, but for now I’ll continue logging into Rift.
For anyone who cares, I’m listing below all the scarred-backed warriors I can recall:
Age of Conan — Ultharin (level 55 dark templar)
Everquest 2 — Barnavelt (level 72 necromancer)
Fallen Earth — Barnavelt (level 19)
Guild Wars — Mortimus Zurn (level 20 Warrior/Monk)
Lord of the Rings Online — Alzebo (level 65 warden)
Rift — Charlan (level 49 ranger/bard/nightblade)
Vanguard — Halkoryn (level 22 ranger)
World of Warcraft –Celephais (level 82 druid)
Out of the blue my son informs me that he wants to play a board game by the rules. Up until now he’s equated playing by the rules as something unfun and restrictive, and I’m sure I’m to blame for this line of thinking. In the past I’ve let him just play with the board game pieces and figures as he wanted, and when I tried to implement some sort of structure to the game, he generally balked and would have nothing to do with it.
So when he told me he wanted to play a game by the rules, I was more than willing to oblige. That game ended up being Lego Heroica–more specifically, the Draida Bay adventure. Recently Lego has gotten into the board game market and some of their releases have been surprisingly RPG centric.
Our game lasted a mere 5 minutes, but during that 5 minutes my son played completely by the rules. Our mission in this adventure was to infiltrate the goblin fortress and take out the goblin general. My son played the barbarian and I the wizard. He made a beeline for the general, while I set my eyes on a heavily guarded (well, it sat behind 2 goblin soldiers) health potion. My son’s first two rolls were bad (like father like son I guess), and he was down to half health before taking out any of the goblin guards. Eventually his luck changed and before he knew it, he stood before the goblin general’s throne. My wizard managed to catch back up with my son’s barbarian, just as the “boss” battle was about to begin. I handed him the health potion I picked up. He downed it right before engaging the goblin general. This time he rolled well, and we watched as the goblin general went down like a sack of potatoes. When I asked what his barbarian wanted to do next, he informed me that he planned to sit on the throne for a while (again, like father like son).
Age: 7+ (My son is a couple of years shy of this and we still had fun.)
Playtime: 5-10 min.
Heroica: Draida Bay was fun, while it lasted, but there’s really not a lot of game here. I can’t see my son wanting to play through this adventure again, as is. Maybe if we set up another scenario, something Lego encourages you to do, the game would have more lasting power. Maybe having daddy captured and tortured by the evil goblins (my son would like that), and he has to come rescue me. I know there have been other sets released in the Heroica line, and maybe by combining the different sets into a bigger campaign, the game could come into more of its own. As it stands though, it’s a tad on the light side for me. Still, my son had fun and he did play by the rules.
What does one do with their very first post?
I guess I’ll just try and give you an idea of what you’re likely to find here in the future.
What topics you’ll most likely see discussed here:
Video games (with an emphasis on MMOs) – I tend to like RPGs and find myself mostly playing these. I play these games almost exclusively solo. I guess you could say it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. Over the past couple of years I’ve found a rhythm that works pretty well for me. I’ll play an MMO for a month (usually not more), then jump into a single player game (or two) for another month until the urge to play yet another MMO strikes me, and then the cycle repeats.
Board games – This has become a secondary hobby of mine, and it’s something I very much enjoy. Again I’m a sucker for dungeon crawlers, so that’s where I spend most of my time. Anything with a dungeon/fantasy theme is fair game to me. The amount of free time I have doesn’t allow for much in the way of gaming outside of my family, but I do manage to get in the occasional game with some of my friends. I’ve even been known to play some of these games solo. Again, that old dog new trick thing.
Gaming memories – As I intend this blog to be something I can share with my son when he gets a bit older, I’m going to document some of my gaming memories here. Exciting, I know. I’m an older gamer—as far as the current crop of gamer goes—so, I’ve got a few memories stored up over the years. It’ll be therapeutic for me.
Parental gaming – As I have a young son who seems to be turning into a gamer, which is something I’m very excited about, I’ll probably be discussing gaming related issues from a parent’s point of view.
Game related books – My job is connected in some ways to the publishing industry. I like to keep up with what’s out there (and what’s coming out) in this field.
Game related podcasts – My real world job requires me to be chained to a desk for 8 hours a day. During that time I’m not required to communicate much with the outside world. So I tend to listen to podcasts while doing my work.
What topics you probably won’t see discussed here:
In depth game analysis and theory crafting – Sorry, I’m just not wired that way. Gosh, I would have to say almost anything in depth won’t be found on this blog. Feel free to look elsewhere.
The current hotness – I’m usually a bit behind on new game releases and even though I often follow them, I don’t usually play them at release. I’ve generally got older games I’m working through at the time and I’m generally in no hurry.