The War Report: Arachnophobia

At some point or another I traded a friend for Ishkanah, Grafwidow. I have yet to build a Golgari deck, and for whatever reason this commander spoke to me more so than the ones on offer. Part of this is due to the fact that I already have a Meren in my playgroup and though I was also interested in building Slimefoot, I also have a Ghave deck in the playgroup so both of those were sort of off limits. Golgari decks tend to focus on sacrifice and recursion, but Ishkanah doesn’t really focus on either. Instead, she’s basically the go-to commander to lead Spider heavy decks due to her abilities. Let’s take a look:

This spider queen has a solid 3/5 body and Reach like most spiders, which means that she can inherently block creatures with flying and has the ability to withstand a fair amount of damage. She also has a Delirium trigger, where if you have four card types in your graveyard, she also creates three spider tokens as an ETB. Lastly, for a whopping 7 mana you can drain a single opponent for one life per spider you control. Unfortunately she doesn’t give spiders anything else, but this does mean that you can potentially finish someone off given enough spiders and a low life total. With this is mind, let’s look at the spiders and spider related cards I’ve included in the deck:

Generally speaking, most of the spiders in the game are vanilla creatures with more toughness than power and though they all have reach they don’t usually do much else. I’ve found some of the better ones and included them here, some with vigilance or deathtouch or other special abilities. Otherwise, the only other cards in the deck that have anything to do with spiders are Arachnogenesis and Spider Spawning, both of which create some extra tokens for us. Spiders are similar to walls in the fact that they have high toughness, so I’ve added Assault Formation to the mix as well, which will allow most of the spiders to hit for 5+ damage rather than 3 or less. I have included several creatures that aren’t part of the tribe but should synergize well:

Most of the rest of these creatures are insects or have something to do with insects. I’m looking for extra tokens to use as sacrifice fodder and to go wide. Some of these creatures also have some form of recursion baked in, or double as sacrifice outlets. We mainly want to be able to sacrifice and recur various creatures with ETB effects, but also make a ton of tokens in the process while allowing our bigger threats to be potential finishers. Here’s the other support cards that will help with these processes:

Here we have some card draw that also fills up your graveyard (for later recursion), a couple of win-cons in Beastmaster Ascension and Triumph of the Hordes (go wide decks will love the power boost + infect). Bow of Nylea provides deathtouch to all attacking creatures, so your lowly 1/1 tokens can take out huge blockers. Otherwise it’s a bunch of recursion (outside of the creature based recursion already included). Lastly, Dictate of Erebos will help you thin out the board as you can sacrifice little tokens to any outlet you happen to have and force your opponents to sacrifice their actual creatures. Win/win.

I’ve also included a small removal package consisting of Beast Within and similar cards. There are a couple of tutors like Green Sun’s Zenith and Diabolic Tutor, but this is a budget build ($161 at the time of this writing) so I didn’t include any single card that’s over $10. It’s not going to be as competitive as a Meren deck, but the flavor is there and that’s important too.

Update on the Backlog

It’s Friday and I’ve been trying to maintain a semblance of a regular posting schedule here on the blog, but that has been becoming increasingly difficult due to my finicky nature. There are plenty of games I want to play that would provide blogging fodder, but there are some other things going on in my personal life that are keeping me from playing much. Stress levels are reaching critical mass and I’m finding myself wanting to drink a beer and just chill rather than do anything else.

I have some minor updates on things I’ve been doing lately, but this is one of those stream of consciousness posts that will be more of a ramble than a rant. Let’s shoot off some bullet points, shall we?

I’ve quit playing ESO –  it’s just not keeping me hooked. This is the same thing that happens every single time I try to get into an MMO. I guess I’m just more partial to single player or smaller multiplayer games these days, but that part of me that enjoys MMO gameplay just can’t give up on them completely. I’ve said that I’m done with the genre more times than I can count, and these little failed experiments keep proving that point despite my inner MMO-loving self forcing me to play something in that realm periodically. I think I should just wait for Crowfall and be done with it, but sometimes the hype train comes along and pulls at my heart strings. I guess I’m still playing one psuedo MMO in Destiny 2, so there’s that.

I’ve been talking about Torchlight Frontiers since it was announced, and it appeals to me. I’ve been wanting to play ARPGs of late, but I’m sick of Diablo III. It’s a great game but I’ve done what I want to do there, and unless they add a new expansion (doubtful) I don’t see myself wanting to play it anymore. I have others at my disposal, but that didn’t go so well either.

  • Tried Path of Exile again as I never got too far – meh, actually kind of ugly compared to D3 and others. It seemed like a great game years ago but just doesn’t do it for me now.
  • Grim Dawn – more appealing, but kind of stuck as to where I left off. It’s a big world and I own the expansion and there’s a huge gap in my knowledge of the game so it was daunting to try and pick up again. Perhaps I’ll need to start a new character.

I made the statement that I’d beat all of the Fallout 4 DLCs before Fallout 76 released, but that’s next month and I’m kind of bored with Fallout 4. I am hyped for Fallout 76 and I think I’ve made my peace with not doing every single thing there is to do in the prior version. I’m looking forward to having some multiplayer shenanigans.

Of course, there’s still plenty of stuff I’m in the midst of on PS4:

  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Titanfall 2
  • Destiny 2 – picked up expansion 1 & 2 for $10
  • Want to play more Warframe

I haven’t played Horizon Zero Dawn or Titanfall 2 in a couple of weeks, but want to get back to them. Destiny 2 has been slow going because I mainly play with my best friend, and that depends on us having time off at the same time. We had a pretty good once a week schedule going but the past couple weeks haven’t worked out. I did manage to grab the expansion 1 & 2 pass on sale this past week so I have more content to get through once we get there. The trouble will be convincing him to pay for the DLCs. Perhaps it’s time to start playing through by myself on a different class just to be able to play it more often, because honestly I’ve really enjoyed it. I also have Warframe sitting around collecting dust. I know around this time last year I was playing it pretty regularly, but as I tend to do I have neglected it since.

There are so many things I want to do and so little time. I’m at a point where I have started writing off games that just aren’t holding my interest, I’m down to something like 40 titles installed on Steam out of over 300 games. I try things out and if they don’t stick I just delete them. It’s a shame as there is quite a bit of money invested in my collection, but there’s just no time to waste on shit that isn’t doing it for me, and I’ve made my peace with that. This is why I’ve avoided MMOs and other time sink games that don’t have any real endings so that I could focus on the backlog of titles I own. It’s been a long process but in the past year I’ve finished a ton of games and tried a bunch more. Those that didn’t make the cut are gone and I feel better about it. Going forward I’m going to try and continue this focus. Wish me luck.

Checking in on League of Legends

League of Legends is probably my most played game of all time. If it isn’t, it’s a close second to EverQuest 2, but I imagine that I have spent more time playing LoL due to the fact that I started playing the game way back in 2011, and only took a couple of breaks here and there for short amounts of time outside of my most recent break from the game. Whereas with EQ2, my only regular play time was from about 2006-2008, and then it was very sporadic and for only a couple of months at a time. My most recent trek back to Norrath was through the end of last year into early this year and only lasted for that short amount of time. With LoL I played nearly every day for years, and then when I didn’t play for like a month I’d be sucked back in by some new champion or event.

If you take a look at my match history, you’ll see that the last game I had played was in August of 2016, until the other day when I played, a full two years and a couple of months later. I honestly don’t know where that time went, outside of the fact that I know what changes occurred in my life around that time. I met my girlfriend earlier in 2016, but we were officially “an item” by August, and from then on I spent less time gaming and more time with her. That’s not to say that gaming has fallen by the wayside, as clearly I have been plugging away at my backlog along with trying new things since then. It’s just at that point I sort of put LoL on the back burner after having played pretty seriously for years prior. And somehow or another, despite thinking about firing it up on multiple occasions, it took me til now to actual do so. But hey, my backlog thanks me for the break, I suppose.

Boy, things have changed. They redesigned the launcher at some point, and apparently I did log in sometime in 2017, as my launcher was already updated there were just the normal game patches to get through. I also earned a few icons that were applied to my account last year so I know I had to have logged in, but I didn’t play as my match history has shown. Now you can see your “collection” of champions, skins, icons, ward skins and more in a handy interface that is less convoluted than it was before. It’s also neat to learn how you earned said skins/icons and when that occurred, something that was missing from the prior version of the launcher. There’s now a season pass sort of option as well, something that we’ve seen in games like SMITE and other lobby games where you pay an upfront fee to access new cosmetic items and participate in a limited-time event. Speaking of limited events, there are also still those good ol’ rotating game modes, but the most recent that I participated in was a 5 player co-op map where you kill a bunch of NPC enemies and that was interesting! I’ve never played co-op in LoL before, and in this instance I feel like you could make a skill based isometric RPG/MMO in this vein and it would be a ton of fun! But that’s a thought for another day.

Another big change is how runes and masteries work. This was a big thing for me, I spent a lot of time trying to dial in rune and mastery pages for the champions I played regularly, and I also gave general advice for building these pages here on the blog. It seems now that runes and masteries are gone as we knew them, instead of being separate pages they are now consolidated into one. This also means that there are a ton of build paths, but you basically pick a major tree, which gives you a four sets of three choices to make, and then a secondary tree that you can pick two passives from. As such, I have made a few builds to test out, each representing the different types of characters you’ll play in the game. It appears that I did not get my tank build uploaded and I’m not at home so I’ll have to add that in later, but above you’ll see ADC, Assassin, Mage and Support builds. I know I built a tank page as well but I guess it’s not all that important. These are first draft builds, so your mileage may vary.

So far I’ve played a few nights now, but I’ve only played ARAM and the co-op mode because I felt like I would be super rusty. It turns out it is a bit like riding a bike, I still have the muscle memory to handle the controls and thus far I’ve performed okay, but as you know in ARAM you get a random character, so some I’ve done better with than others. There are probably a dozen new champions that were added to the game since I last played, along with several re-worked characters, though I am familiar with most of them due to watching pro esports despite not actually playing myself. I’m actually rather pleased with the experience and intend to play more in the coming weeks. I have another post in the works discussing my backlog and play time, and I’ll cover more of why I have time to play LoL again during that time.

Skybound to Finish The Walking Dead’s Final Season

Some good news broke over the weekend concerning the demise of TellTale Studios and what would become of its unfinished Final Season of The Walking Dead.

Skybound is Robert Kirkman’s publishing label and recently they opened up a games development branch. It makes sense for this company to pick up the title and finish it off, given Kirkman is the creator of The Walking Dead and will likely build a team familiar with the source material. That, and I believe the game was nearly finished anyway, and I’m sure the story has already been completely written. There hasn’t been an announcement yet as to when the final two episodes might be released, but as I wrote in my last post on the game, it was rumored that the third episode was already in the bug testing phase and some work had already gone into episode four as well.

I’m glad to see this happen, so we’ll able to find out what happens to Clementine after all. I’ll report back if I hear anything else about further developments, and will definitely share my experience with the final two episodes. I’m still hoping they show up before the end of the year.

The Council: Episode 4

The other narrative adventure game that I’ve been playing for the last few months is The Council. Episode four of this five part series released last week and I played through it a few days ago. With this particular title, there is no such thing as action, just a bunch of running around this island manor and discussing things or solving puzzles. It’s more about the political intrigue than anything else, or at least it was up until this episode. Before I go any further, this post will be spoiler heavy so avoid it if you’re still playing through.

You’ve found your mother and she has discovered that the spear that pierced Christ’s side by a Roman soldier hidden in the catacombs below the manor. You had opened this new section during the last puzzle of episode three, the same puzzle that cut off your mother’s hand. She also reveals to you that Mortimer is a Daemon. This Council of men is actually headed by a Daemon who is trying to sway humanity’s fate. An interesting twist, and a new take on history and the supernatural. Something that is almost believable given the current political climate of my country. But I digress.

Your mother sends you on the mission to figure out which spearhead is the correct one, and there are an assortment of clues you’ll need to find around the island. I’m unsure if you have to be correct with this choice, or if it will only allow you to pick the correct one. I cheated a little because I knew I would be annoyed with the running around for these clues, so I looked up the answer and picked what the general consensus was online. As such, it shows that I failed to find them all in that chapter’s summary which you’ll see below. People in the comments on one post I was reading were saying that the story takes a turn after this, and some people even quit when they got to the twist. Having finished the episode myself, I can say that picking the spear I chose didn’t affect anything in this episode, but I also believe that it won’t make a difference until the finale. So are you ready for the big twist?

You’re a Daemon too! Mortimer is your father, and Sarah isn’t really your mother. She’s technically your sister, as she is also Mortimer’s daughter. Obviously you’re a little taken aback by this. The other face painted gentleman is also his brother, your uncle. Mortimer reveals that Daemons have been around for centuries, and that there are several families that still exist, but yours is the most powerful, hence this whole council thing. He wants to sway the countries of the world towards democracy, yet your Uncle believes monarchies are easier to control. However, Daemons aren’t supposed to outright control humans, yet Mortimer teaches you how to read thoughts and later how to possess bodies, which they call “envelopes.”

I’m skipping over much of the plot here, but that was enough to make me much more intrigued by the whole thing. You have various confrontations with the cardinal (including possessing him to forge a letter), Napoleon (he believes you’ve stolen something — it’s the spearhead) and Emily/Sarah (turns out I got the real Emily shot and her sister wanted to kill Sarah — I also got pissed at Sarah for hiding so many truths from me and somehow made a selection where I killed her). Here are my results from the chapters:

It appears that the story will conclude in episode five but I have no idea where its going to go now. I look forward to finding out.