Invited to the Torchlight Frontiers Alpha

Along with Isey and others, I was invited to the Torchlight Frontiers Alpha test this weekend. I must have missed the official announcement that they were going to be doing some alpha stress testing, but you can see that here. I took notice when I received the email that gave me a code to install the game:

It hasn’t been that long since I first mentioned the game, having heard about it a few months back. Since then there has been chatter about what the devs intended to do via horizontal progression and whatnot. I have been intrigued for a while, and with Blizzard blowing off Diablo IV in favor of the mobile Diablo Immortal, I have to find my ARPG fix elsewhere. I’ve been pinning my hopes on this title since then, and I’m hoping to get some time in over the weekend to check it out!

Installation requires a download of Perfect World’s “Arc” launcher, which hosts other games like Star Trek Online and Neverwinter, but was something that I didn’t have installed. It seems to have improved a bit since I last used it, but otherwise looks similar to or Steam. I hate having a launcher installed for a single game, but it is what it is.

I’ll be sharing my impressions of the game after the weekend. There is an NDA, but it only says that you can’t post photos or video of the game, which means you’ll get a wall of text impression post, but I will share my thoughts nonetheless. Apparently my account name is built4sin82 (same as on PSN), so I assume you can add that as a friend if you want to try and play together this weekend. I’m not sure exactly when I’ll play but drop me a line if you want to try and meet up.

By The Numbers: Week 11, 2018

Another “W” in the win column means the season isn’t done yet. The Packers are currently listed as the 7th seed, and as we all know that’s not good enough, but they’re still far enough of some of the other teams trying to vie for playoff contention that they should be able to hold onto hope. The game against the Dolphins showed two new strengths for the team that were previously missing. Aaron Jones has proved his worth as a starting running back, and the defense held the Dolphins to four field goals and zero touchdowns. These are two pieces of the puzzle that tends to lead teams to championships. However, it could be argued that the Dolphins aren’t that great of a team, but they did have a better record than us going into Sunday’s matchup, so I’m going to say it’s a marked improvement and move on. One week at a time. Let’s look at my picks for the week:

Steelers 27, Panthers 24 – Correct
Bears 30, Lions 20 – Correct
Saints 31, Bengals 24 – Correct
Falcons 27, Browns 10
Jags 28, Colts 21
Chiefs 32, Cardinals 17 – Correct
Jets 20, Bills 13
Redskins 23, Buccs 19 – Correct
Patriots 31, Titans 20
Chargers 27, Raiders 10 – Correct
Packers 27, Dolphins 13 – Correct
Rams 35, Seahawks 20 – Correct
Eagles 24, Cowboys 20
49ers 21, Giants 15

I went 8-6 with my picks, bringing my season total to 86-71. I should be able to maintain a decent record come the end of the season as long as each week I’m still picking more correctly than not. It’s a fickle game I play here, as each week some picks are easy, but most are difficult. Any given Sunday and all that. Let’s make some picks for week 11:

Packers 28, Seahawks 21
Cowboys 21, Falcons 17
Bengals 27, Ravens 21
Panthers 24, Lions 13
Titans 30, Colts 16
Buccs 21, Giants 20
Texans 20, Redskins 10
Steelers 27, Jaguars 20
Cardinals 13, Raiders 10
Chargers 31, Broncos 23
Saints 35, Eagles 21
Bears 27, Vikings 23
Rams 30, Chiefs 27

It’s a short week for the Packers, coming off a Sunday victory but having to fly cross-country to play in Seattle on Thursday night. It’s not a welcoming place, but we have had some decent performances there, and tacking on another win puts us in a better wild card position while simultaneously hurting the hawks’ chances. After putting up a battle against the Rams and Patriots — arguably the best teams in the league right now, I think we have what it takes to dismantle the Seahawks on their home turf. Fingers crossed and all. I leave you with this:

Go Pack Go.

TWR: Disconnected Weekend

A couple of months ago my stepson signed up to play Magic: The Gathering at his after school program. Apparently one of the counselors plays the game and wanted to encourage kids to play. He provided starter packs that the kids got to play with that appear to be the packs that are given out at Magic Open House events, just before each new set releases. He ended up with a Mono White 60 card deck that he seemed to enjoy. Because he was able to learn the basics at his school, I could then take over and teach him more of the nuance.

After Guilds of Ravnica released, I was able to go pick him up a couple of the Planeswalker decks so he could see the new mechanics of the set along with the mechanics of Planeswalkers in general. A couple of weeks back we had a session where he played Vraska and I played Ral and we had a pretty good time. He won a couple of games and so did I, but as you all know I tend to prefer playing Commander over standard, so I’ve been pushing him in that direction as well. He had a bit of experience under his belt with standard play, but also had a couple of modest collections sent to him from his mom’s friends, so I built him an EDH deck to play with.

This past weekend with all of the wildfires that were surrounding our valley there was worry about property burning but also the Internet went down for over 24 hours. This meant no one in the house was playing video games or watching anything as we don’t have regular cable — everything we watch is via streaming services so we were all out of luck. This did mean however that we had time to play Magic, so that was actually a bit of a boon. My roommate and I were playing some EDH and he watched for a bit, but when we took a break he decided that he wanted to try it out. He pulled out his EDH deck that I had built for him, and I used one of my more recent builds that is not quite done.

He seemed to enjoy his commander, but the rest of the deck was pretty sub-par. This isn’t something I did on purpose, but I only used cards in his possession to make the deck so he didn’t have the advantage of building it himself or having enough good cards in those colors to make something competitive. My Selvala list is nice, but I don’t have a good 30% of the cards needed so I just filled in with other cards that would work. I ended up winning this round but it was still pretty close for a time.

The next day he said he wanted a rematch, but I instead chose to run my Tawnos deck. It’s another deck that I had most of the cards for but I am missing a chunk of the cards that will eventually go into it. It still performed well and he didn’t really get much of a chance to do anything before I was winning. Since we know that his deck is sub-par, I decided to let him use one of my decks to play for the next round.

He chose my Selvala deck because he had seen what it could do and seemed interested in it. I chose to run my Wall deck because it’s a little slower going and thought it would give him a better chance to win. He seemed impressed with my deck building and loved seeing some of the cool effects that exist within Magic’s history but aren’t really represented in Standard. Arcades has a bad habit of going off out of nowhere so there was a point in time where I could have won the round but chose to do something else instead and he managed to win by casting Approach of the Second Sun twice. He was thrilled to win and seems very into the format. Now I’ve convinced him to get one of the Commander 2018 precons to mess around with and in the meantime I’m going to try and make his existing commander deck a bit better. It’s nice to have someone new to play the game with and bringing the next generation into the game is an awesome experience. Look forward to having more games in the future!

Unboxing the Razer Naga Trinity

With my birthday coming up this week, I was surprised by my father with the gift of a new gaming mouse for my PC. When I originally built my PC back in 2015 he had given me one of his mice, a Corsair M65 that I have used for the past few years without issue. It was still working as a matter of fact, but was starting to show signs of wear in certain spots. This didn’t affect functionality, but it was starting to look a bit ugly. Apparently my Dad is a mind reader, as he decided that I probably needed a new mouse by now. I was visiting this past weekend for another reason but he already had the mouse on hand and surprised me with it. I thought I’d take this opportunity to show it off and give some feedback. Enter the Razer Naga Trinity:

What’s unique about this particular design is the fact that it’s moddable. It came with the “MMO” 12-button side panel pre-installed, but also comes with a “MOBA” 9-button panel and something more like a FPS/Normal panel that has 2 side buttons.  Also packed in were a couple of Razer logo stickers and a manual. The mouse’s design is a little different than what I was used to as it has a “ring-finger rest” on the right side that makes it feel a little fat in the hand, but I think I’ll get used to it.

The side panel mods at first glance seem like they would be a pain in the ass to change up, but it turns out that it’s rather easy to do. Each panel is secured with magnets, and pulls right off for on-the-fly modifications. The contact panel pictured in the center connects the side buttons to the mouse inputs. It’s a pretty cool idea, and I’m happy to have the options. For now, I’ve put the normal/FPS panel on until I get used to the mouse in general. After that I may end up being able to try setting up hotkeys for games. I can’t imagine retraining my brain from keyboard keys to mouse keys, but I will try it out nonetheless.

The mouse wheel and logo on the mouse are also RGB lighted and customizable with different effects/colors.

After plugging the mouse in, the Razer Synapse software installs and opens up your configuration options. There’s quite a bit of different specs to change but the most important is setting up the lighting (I chose static red as my keyboard is also lit up in that color) and the sensitivity. The Naga Trinity supports up to 16000 DPI, which is absolutely insane. My device defaulted to 1700 DPI which was far too slow for my ultra wide monitor, and I ended up settling for the Stage 2 3700 DPI. It feels about where my old mouse was. I may have to change it up depending on gaming performance, which I have yet to test out at this point.

Don’t mind my dusty ass workspace, but here’s both pieces lit up together:

It seems like a solid mouse and has a nice range of options to play with. I’d recommend it if you’re in the market for a mouse that can work for multiple genres — hardcore PC gamers will enjoy it. The mouse buttons also have a satisfying click that feels mechanical and I’ve enjoyed the responsiveness. I give it an A+.

TWR: Thoughts on Ultimate Masters

Earlier in the year, Wizards of the Coast had said that Masters sets were not performing as expected, the community had made it clear that some of the reprints were not desirable while many cards that are super expensive were not making their way to these sets. Masters 25 which released earlier this year was said to be their best offering to date, and they went ahead and increased the price saying using that justification. The set ended up being a bit of a flop. There were some cool cards reprinted while most of it was chaff. The company said this was because Masters sets are meant to be drafted, but honestly the focus of these sets were supposed to give Modern players reprints and new weapons to use. It was also a beneficial set for Commander players who want reprints of cards deemed too expensive.

A while back, Guilds of Ravnica released and with it a “Mythic Edition” that was not well received by the community. It was sold only through Hasbro Direct and was rather expensive. In it, you got “super art” reprints of Planeswalkers, and then some boosters of the new set. Apparently it was sold out very quickly and people had issues with the website or didn’t get to order at all. Wizards took it upon themselves to then send some “Ultimate Box Toppers” to those who were negatively impacted by the purchase. Thought this is a good PR move, this does kind of feel like a slap in the face to those of us who said “fuck that” to buying one of these boxes. We thought it was overpriced, and we were not then subsequently rewarded for trying to buy said product. Whatever the case, those Ultimate Box Toppers are going to be available to the public, so at least that’s something. The caveat here is that you have to buy a box of their new product, Ultimate Masters, in which you’ll get one of these super art reprints. Here’s what we know so far:

Ultimate Masters releases December 7th, and will be the last Masters product “for a while.” Each booster box will contain 24-packs, with each pack containing a premium foil.

  • MSRP is $335.76 / box ($13.99/pack).
  • Boxes are only available at Local Gaming Stores, but each comes with an “Ultimate Box Topper” buy-a-box promo, which is a near borderless foil promo.
  • There are 40 box toppers in total.
  • UMA packs will be available at big box stores for $34.99 for 3 packs.
  • UMA is printed in EN and JP languages, but available worldwide.
  • Spoilers are on November 19th and 20th, with the full set reveal on Nov 21.

MSRP for this set is ridiculous once again. We thought the Mythic Edition of GRN was bad, but this is almost $100 more, and you only get one super art card instead of a set. Seems like a bad value. Rumor has it that local game stores are actually selling these boxes for somewhere in the ballpark of $240, so that’s at least a bit better. The other good news is that though you won’t get a super art card if you don’t buy a box, they are not buy-a-box promos in that regular versions of those cards are in packs. There are a ton of good reprints that have been revealed so far, and I’m sure there will be more for us to look forward to once we get the spoilers later this month. The super art cards are absolutely gorgeous though. Take a look:

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I want nearly every card displayed here, so I’m more hyped for this set than I was for M25 or Iconic Masters. I’m just hoping that the reprints mean a drop in price for some of these cards so that I can get extra copies. Packs are a bit expensive so I probably won’t buy many, opting for singles instead. I still think these should have been included as chase cards in packs, basically a new masterpiece set, but I’m okay with normal art as long as I get some good cards. Where Wizards is going from here is anyone’s guess. It appears there won’t be Masters sets next year, and we only know about two more sets on Ravnica. I’m hoping for a second Battlebond set, and would prefer a new plane to explore next year rather than another return to an old one. I guess we’ll see.

What do you think about this set? What about price increases? Let me know in the comments.