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.

End of the Month Ramble

I was looking at my drafts folder just now and saw seven different entries. Most of these posts will talk about some games I’ve played lately and others have focused on MTG — this is the way it’s been around here for over a year now. There has been a bit of a lull in my posting this month compared to the ramping up I’d been doing over the last six months or so, and part of that is due to this draft folder.

I’ve gotten into the habit of starting up a draft post every time I start up a new game. I’ll usually do a starter post and then another after I’ve finished a game. I’ve had great success clearing several games out of my backlog since the tail end of last year but haven’t committed to a new game in probably a month. I’ve had trouble keeping interested as of late, and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I’ve become more engrossed in Magic. Don’t get the wrong idea, I’m not writing off gaming whatsoever, yet I feel like pushing myself to finish game after game has come to an end. I still want to continue working on the backlog and I still want to play new games that have recently come out or are on the horizon — this should always be a gaming blog. It’s just that the way I’ve been feeding this blog is through the things I’ve been playing and not having much to say about the video game side of things means that drafts sit until I either finally have enough to say about the title or they get deleted.

Looking through it this evening I saw mostly MTG-oriented titles but I’ve been trying to keep some sort of parity between the two major subjects of my blog. The video game drafts just didn’t inspire me to write. So I thought I’d jot down some stream of consciousness and get one last blog post out for the month. So what have I been doing?

Remember when I used to talk about League of Legends all of the time? Yeah me too. It’s been over a year since I’ve played the game, but I have kept up on the pro scene. I did also download the new client and update it at some point but still haven’t played. Think I might play before the year ends at least. So anyway, the Spring Split of the NALCS ended recently and MSI starts this weekend. I watched most of the games through the split and there were surprising changes to rosters and the way the whole thing works too. Most interesting was seeing Team Liquid stomp the 1st place team (100 Thieves) in the finals. Yeah, that Team Liquid. I always liked the team as a sort of underdog squad but they always ended up in 4th place spawning memes and whatnot. More impressive is that Doublelift plays for Liquid now, and has won his 3rd split on a 3rd team, something not done before in NA (or the world, I think). MSI should be interesting but I’m ready for the Summer Split to begin. I’ll likely wait until the mid-season changes to take place before I dip my toes back into playing but it’s been on my mind for some time.

The NFL draft just happened this past weekend as well. The Packers have done a number of interesting things in the offseason. The GM was canned and a new one hired along with some other coaching changes. They made a splash in free agency picking up Jimmy Graham, but let some big names like Jordy Nelson go (he’s on the Raiders now). The draft wasn’t fully focused on defense either, but apparently the cornerback they took in that round is pretty good. I’m not sure how the team will look but I’m sure we’ll be back in the post season this year.

As I said, I’ve been engrossed in Magic lately, trying to benefit from cards in my collection that are worth money but collecting dust by selling them and getting some money cards in the process. I’ve been brewing a bunch lately because of Dominaria’s release an having opened a box, but also have dipped my toes into MTG Arena. I’m hesitant to spend any money there or to even really play until they say they won’t do more account wipes, but it is promising and a way to play Magic when my friends aren’t available or I’m not going to a store event. I’ve also been trying to tighten up my decks by eliminating some projects that aren’t really doing it for me anymore, retiring others and turning some into new decks. For instance, *spoilers* I broke up my Reaper King deck and am building a Jodah deck in its place. I’m also turning my Sram deck into a Shu Yun deck, but keeping the voltron theme just so I can use both Sram and Jhoira to draw cards like crazy. My mono green deck is now helmed by Yisan, and I’ve talked about some other crammed together brews I’ve done recently here already. In doing so I’m making the existing decks more competitive and also cutting down the number of decks I have, because when I get going with brews I go overboard. I’ve also been listening to more podcasts and watching things on YouTube to continue to improve my knowledge of the game.

I’ve been playing games too. Clash Royale has a new Clan War feature that is interesting and replaces the old clan chests. It’s been fun if not a little frustrating. I’ve started up Pillars of Eternity but am only like 4 hours in. I started Prey, and am probably 5 hours into that one. Ditto ELEX, but I feel like I might want to start that one over and go a different route. The problem is that I haven’t really wanted to just focus on one thing and play it through, I’ve been wanting to spread my time around and that isn’t conducive to finishing games. Perhaps I’ll find my groove again, but I think for now I’m going to just fly by the seat of my pants and play whatever suits me at the time.

Speaking of, the whole Daybreak fiasco… I’ve basically called it quits with the company. Maybe I should write a full proper post on the subject, but let’s just say that I’ve spent some money with them over the years, even as recently as last month, so I’m now at a loss. I don’t want to give money to them anymore, and I cancelled my EQ2 sub. It’s sad because I will always love the Everquest series, but I think it’s time to put it to bed. No thanks with all of that drama.

That’s all I have for now. Happy Monday or something.