State of the Game: Housekeeping Edition

Recently I’ve been doing some housekeeping when it comes to the backlog. As you well know, I have a problem. That problem is being sensitive to sales and bundles; having a subscription to both Playstation Plus and Humble Bundle, and being a frequent shopper when deals are presented. I’m seriously a walking Darth Kermit Meme.

That inner monologue goes something like:

Me: “You shouldn’t buy that game,  you don’t have time to play it.”
Also Me: “But it’s been on your wishlist for ages! You’ll make time! Plus it’s only $10 bucks and  you get all of the DLC!”
Me: “Damn me, you always know how to spot a great deal! I’m in!”

And so it goes.

Because I have this habit, I tend to play games a while after they are new. Occasionally I’ll spill for a full priced game, and in most cases that’s a good thing, but sometimes it’s a bummer. Other times you get a game for a great deal and it sucks. These are all things that have happened recently. Isn’t going to stop me from buying more games I don’t have time for. Me is right, I’ll make time eventually. The thing is, games aren’t making the cut as often as they used to. I’ve honestly bought more games in the past 5 or so years than for the remaining 30 years of my lifetime, and yet I play less of them to completion. It seems I have become more picky, and my time more valuable. As such, some games have been marked as completed, or as completed as I’m going to get them, and other games have been marked for deletion (in some cases I’ll card farm them and then delete). Some games I desperately wanted to like turned out to be not so great. And in some cases the games were simply there to add to the collection, not necessarily for immediate use. I do this from time to time, then kick myself for not playing the damn things. Regardless, let’s move on to the games discussion, shall we?

Mobile: 

I’ve been playing Clash Royale daily. It’s my go to game when I’m not at home. This makes sense because it’s a mobile game, but I do have other titles installed on my phone. A big one coming up is Super Mario Run, which was previously an iOS exclusive. That looks like it will be fun. I’m still playing Fire Emblem Heroes as well, but I typically only play that one when I’m stationary for a while. Clash is something I can run on my breaks at work and when I’m hanging outside of the house. Progress has slowed due to the fact that I’m level 10 and getting to the upper eschelons takes a while, along with being stuck in Arena 8 for quite some time now. I know my deck works, and I’ve tweaked it here and there to make it work even better, but it seems that I’ve hit a wall, and will continue to beat my head against that wall until some of my cards are levelled up. It seems to me that I only lose when someone has a card I don’t (of which there is only a handful at this point) or they have similar cards of a higher level. I know several members of my clan are in the highest arena and have far more trophies than I, so it’s doable, but I’m not there yet. Also, I deleted Tiny Tower from my phone. It was becoming more of a chore than fun.

Console:

During a recent sale I picked up a copy of a few games on PS4. Winkings is a arcade style game in the vein of Joust, but with far more creatures on screen at once. It’s got local co-op that I have yet to try (but will soon), and feels like a fun little time waster. Nothing amazing, but if you enjoy running around and killing stuff with a variety of weapons with a viking themed character, you might enjoy it too. Plus members can get it right now for like $3. Another game that was on sale was Q-bert Rebooted, which is one of those classic titles everyone should have in their library. Not only did it come with a rebooted version of the game, but the original is included as well, and boy is it a tough game. I was interested in picking this one up as I bought a bundle of other classic arcade games including Pac-Man, Galaga and Dig-Dug a few months back, and I enjoy having old collections of games. I have a version of Tetris and of course my Sega collection on Playstation consoles as well. It’s fun for me to go back and play some of these old games once in a while, and it’s great to have on hand to introduce people to some classic titles when the opportunity arises.

Lastly, the closed beta for Paladins, Hi-Rez Studio’s latest multiplayer free-to-play title went live on PS4. I had access to the beta on PC as well, but just like SMITE, I figured I would be more attracted to the game on console. It’s a team shooter similar to Overwatch or Battleborn, but has enough there to differentiate it from the others. I’m a big fan of SMITE on the console and still play that regularly, but I’m hoping that this one picks up steam too. The console SMITE population is excellent, but so far it seems that there might not be as many people playing Paladins. It was a buy in, but with that you instant access along with some perks. I’m sure the population will level out once it’s out of beta and anyone can join in. I liked being in on the SMITE beta and watching the game take shape on the console, so being in on this game from the start should be fun as well.

Housekeeping wise, this list of games are mostly ones that are those that aren’t going to be completed, so they don’t really take up backlog space. I’ve called it quits with Destiny. I had fun making my way through most of the game, completing The Taken King and leveling to 40. But I’m just not interested in the Light grind. With talk of Destiny 2 around the corner, and other games like Mass Effect Andromeda coming out soon, I know I’d rather spend my time elsewhere. I’ll do the mad dash light grinding before Destiny 2 releases, if the rumors about some of your progress transferring over are true.

PC:

I’ve more random tidbits on the PC side of things. I’ve mentioned recently playing Shadow Warrior 2. Within the last couple of days there was a 2nd free DLC added to the game, and this one adds a slew of new content. Talk about DLC done right! I have made about 30% progress through the main story, and plan to try and knock this one out soon. That is if they don’t flood me with DLCs! I’ve also toyed around with the games I mentioned in a recent post called New and Noteworthy. Along with those newer additions, I’ve also dipped my toes into some other games that came with bundles or were otherwise purchased but never mentioned. One game that popped up in my discovery queue was called Disgaea PC. It’s a PC port of a Playstation 2 JRPG. I remember seeing the title in the past but hadn’t played it, and it turned out they ported the sequel to the game as well so I picked them both up. I know of at least two more titles in the series as well, so perhaps those will come down the pipeline. The game looks like a Final Fantasy Tactics style game, but centers around the prince of the underworld rather than a typical hero type. The combat is sort of wonky, but that’s to be expected from an old console title that is just now being ported to PC. I relish these sorts of experiences; being able to take a trip into the past to experience something you missed.

Sometimes, games that you really wanted to love just don’t do it for you. Last month’s Humble Monthly provided a copy of Total War: Warhammer, and I thought I would love the game. I gave it a test run, found it alright, and then plunked down some cash to get all of the DLC. After playing it a bit more, I felt that I didn’t really enjoy the combat, the strategy, or really any facet of the game. Just putting a Warhammer skin on something doesn’t mean you’re going to automatically love the game, and that’s a shame. A painful lesson. Speaking of Warhammer, Vermintide dropped a new free DLC that adds lore page drops to the game. Having neglected to check out any of the DLC since the Last Stand game mode was added, I decided to do just that the other night. 2 new areas were added to the game, both with 3 maps each. I tried finding players to play with, but ended up running around with dumb NPCs and not getting far in any of them. The new areas look cool, but it’s really just more of the same. I’d love to run through it with some friends, had I enough to fill up a party. A shame that the population has died out so quickly, as it was a very promising title.

Lastly, I finally got around to booting up the Skyrim Special Edition. Every time I looked at it, I just couldn’t justify the 100s of hours I would put into another playthrough when I have so many other RPGs that I want to play through for the first time. But one day I had the itch, and I wanted to play it though I wanted to also play around with some mods, as I have only played the vanilla version of the game. I did some research, and though it appears that you can just install mods via the client itself, I went ahead and installed two programs that were highly recommended: the Nexus Mod Manager and LOOT. The former is a one-click install tool for mods for the game. The latter allows you to sort the booting order of mods in case of issues arising. I ended up installing 20+ mods and it ran fairly well the first time. There was a laughable bug during the opening scene, but eventually things were working great. I didn’t get far enough into the game to really see all the mods have to offer, but again, didn’t want to put too much time into it. I intend to revisit soon.

Housekeeping wise, I have put some of the above titles on farm status. They will be uninstalled afterwards. Others are works in progress, but progress nonetheless. Until next time, happy gaming.

Fire Emblem Heroes

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My relationship with Nintendo is strange. I was an absolute fan during the NES era but shortly thereafter, I was a Sega kid followed by being a Sony player. I did own a DS lite and the original Wii, and I really want one of those NES Classics (but have yet to find one), but it just seems that outside of a few titles Nintendo’s systems have failed to impress. Even the new Switch console that is coming out soon doesn’t really do it for me, but it does have the added bonus of being portable and a console. Still, I probably won’t purchase one of them.

A while back, Nintendo announced that they would be entering the mobile market and though that sounded cool, the original announcement was a couple of titles that would come out on iOS, which didn’t do me any good. For years I have been saying that I would play the shit out of some Nintendo games, were they on Steam or another device I already own. I really don’t want to have to own each and every console, though I do see the point in having both one console and a gaming PC. It appears that this has been rectified now though, as a couple of weeks ago there were options on the Google Play Store to “pre-register” for the new Nintendo games coming out soon. The first to release is you guessed it, Fire Emblem Heroes. Super Mario Run is to follow next month I believe.

Just a couple of days ago, there was a small bit of conversation about how some people couldn’t find a mobile game that stuck for them. They had downloaded many and though some seemed interesting enough, after a few hours to a few days they were tired of the game and uninstalled it. I can’t say that doesn’t sound like me, as for years I was never finding anything to play on my phone that was really worth my time. Up until a few months back when I started playing Clash Royale did I really find a mobile game somewhat addictive. Though some of the timed mechanics are still annoying, it tends to work because you only play the game for a few minutes here and a few minutes there.

This game is now the second game that I would say is really playable and really fun. Where Clash Royale succeeds at providing a solid PvP dueling experience, Fire Emblem Heroes provides a solid RPG formula that I find very appealing. At first glance, I didn’t really know what to expect. I haven’t ever played a Fire Emblem game, but I have heard very good things about them. I’ve always been a fan of grid-based, turn-based strategy games, and this one is right up my alley. If you’ve ever played games like Final Fantasy Tactics, Shining Force, or even games like X-Com you’ll enjoy the combat system. It reminds me most of Shining Force as it’s 2-D and there aren’t advantages to having the high ground, etc. It also has animated cut scenes for the actual swings you and your enemies take on each other, which is a direct influence for sure.

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When you aren’t battling through the story missions (which start with a prequel that will teach you some of the game’s nuances), there are some other screens you will stare at in an attempt to improve your party in various ways. Loosely stated, the story centers around you, a “legendary hero” who comes to this particular land and is able to use this special artifact that allows you to summon heroes from other realms to do your bidding. Though the main characters have their motivations and the story chugs along, it’s really not all that important in the grand scheme of things. Summoning is as easy as spending orbs that you’ll earn from completing quests and doing various activities.

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Heroes that you summon will have starred ratings, with 3 stars being a bronze hero, 4 being silver and 5 stars being gold. Obviously the better the hero’s rating, the better they will perform in combat and the more abilities they will start out with. Most abilities trigger automatically or add passive traits, but they are definitely useful in combat. Eventually as you move through the missions you’ll open up other “maps” that essentially functions as different game modes. Special maps are special events where you can do one time battles on different difficulty settings and provide extra rewards. Arena Duels are PvP matches which was a good call on the developer’s part, as you’ll be able to lengthen the replay value of the game. I have opened the other maps just yet, but I’m guessing the training tower is to hone skills, and the ??? map with probably end up being some sort of end-game activity. Soon enough though, you’ll have a lot of heroes and plenty to do.

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There is a cash shop as well, as each map takes stamina to fight on. You have a limited amount of stamina, and it though it recharges fairly quickly I’m sure some people wouldn’t want to wait. Arena Duels also take a different time-limited currency, but I have found items you can use to restore it. It’s also true that Orbs don’t drop very fast, so I’m sure paying some money for those wouldn’t be too bad of a deal if you’re really investing in the game. I know I’ve spent a little bit of money on Clash Royale so it’s safe to say I might spend a little on this title too. Overall I think it’s a great first entry into what I hope is a nice catalog of mobile Nintendo games. Give me a proper Mario, Zelda, Metroid or Smash Bros port and I’ll be happy.

State of the Game: Progress Report

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I had a few different games I wanted to talk about today, but I don’t think I have a full post’s worth of thoughts to write down on each, so instead we’re back with another State of the Game round up. It’s been a little while, but I should be able to fill this out pretty well. So what games are we talking about this time? Resident Evil 7, SMITE, Clash Royale and Destiny are on the menu. Let’s get started shall we?

Resident Evil 7

I mentioned getting started with RE7 and gave my initial impressions in a recent post, and I have played the game a little while longer since then. When we left off, I had just killed my girlfriend who was clearly not herself, but who then appeared to be herself again during the killing blow. She disappeared after I received a phone call, but it didn’t take long for her to show up again. I knew something was coming because Resident Evil games don’t give you a shit ton of ammo and healing supplies unless there’s a boss fight up ahead, and sure enough my lover appeared once again. This time she managed to cut my hand off, before I eventually let her have a ton of bullets to the face. She appeared dead, but then someone new showed up. I was welcomed to the family, and then attempted my escape. Unfortunately, my game time was cut short that day, but I do plan to get some more time in this week so I’m sure I’ll have more to share before I’m done. From what I’ve read, the game is only 10-12 hours long, so it shouldn’t take long to beat this one and get back to my backlog.

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Destiny

Speaking of my backlog, the one game I’ve been focused on for the past couple of months is Destiny, and I’m nearly level 40. I’ve nearly completed The Taken King storyline. I know there’s more to do in Rise of Iron, and I also know that there are raids and/or more difficult Strikes that I can go back and do. I also know there’s PvP and likely more end game content once I’m 40, but I’m still on the fence about doing the Light grind or about leveling another character. I have a boost, so it’s really only one other I have to level, but I’m thinking that once I’ve completed the storylines I’ll probably put it down for a while. There are too many other games on my list that I want to complete, and though I’ve written off some titles after a short amount of time, there are games I truly enjoy that are just collecting dust. At least I can say I completed the game, the main story, what have you. I won’t feel as guilty and will have at least gotten my money’s worth.

SMITE

I’m still playing Smite several times a week. After completing The Odyssey, there was a new Celtic event added to the game, as a new God from a new Pantheon was added and I guess that’s a big deal. I didn’t really care for the new God, but I did enjoy the event, and I got a skin for her as a result (plus a few chests). At this point I have 41 mastered Gods and I have officially hit level 30. I still need to start playing conquest and play a few ranked games, but I’m nearing completion of the Platinum trophy, and that’s part of why I’ve continued to play as long as I have. That and it’s the only game I play with a couple of my friends so it gives us something to do and time to chat.

Clash Royale

Clash has become a daily thing. The clan gets a chest every few days and we have managed to churn out the crowns and get the full reward each time. I’ve grown my deck considerably, and think I only need 10-20 cards to have them all. Leveling them up is a different story. I have 3 legendaries, but can’t seem to get extra copies of them. I have even more underpowered epics and rares, but things are progressing each day. I’ve made it to Arena 8 and am account level 9, so I guess you can say that I’ve moved up, but I’m starting to rise and fall a few hundred crowns day in and day out. It’s rather frustrating, especially knowing I’ve now spent some money on the game and still don’t have some of the best cards, while others might have lucked out and earned those cards for free. Ah well, it is the nature of the game. It’s still fun, and a great way to kill a few minutes relatively anywhere you go.

Lastly, I downloaded the new games from my Humble Monthly subscription. As usual, there were some extra copies of games I already own, some games I had zero interest in, and that’s about it. I did pay early for next month though, as Total War: Warhammer was the early unlock, and that’s a game I’ve wanted for a while but was waiting to go on sale. $12 for it is a great deal, and it’s not really all that old just yet. I have yet to play any of these new games but I will check them out and be back with another mini-impressions post on that. Playstation Plus games released today as well, and though I know I’ll probably play Little Big Planet 3, the others weren’t as exciting. I also picked up the Alien Isolation collection during the mid-week madness sale ($12 for the whole shebang isn’t bad — and a deal I couldn’t refuse), and Disgaea PC 1 & 2 in a bundle. It’s an old series that came out during the PS2 days but is similar to FF Tactics, so it sounded up my alley.

The backlog grows, and I can’t make it stop.

State of the Game: A New Year Edition

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It’s been a bit since I talked much about gaming, so I thought another round up post was in order to share what I’ve been up to. We’re looking at the usual suspects here, although I did make a purchase over the holidays that inspired me to finally give a game a chance that I’ve had in my library for almost a year now, but hadn’t really played much. Playing this game has been a two-fold endeavor, in that it’s a pseudo MMO, but it’s also something that can be struck from the backlog once I’ve played my share of it. You all know by now that I have no real love of MMOs anymore, basically writing them off but dipping my toes here and there. The most recent toe-dipping was with World of Warcraft, where the Legion hype managed to suck me in, but I didn’t play for more than a couple of months before writing the game off again. There’s still hope for Crowfall, and supposedly the beta pledges will be able to play the game finally this year, so that’s something, though I don’t know how well that will keep me occupied considering the game isn’t done. I’m still in the guild that was started up about a year ago for Crowfall, but I have been less than active as of late just because I’ve spent less time at the computer than I had earlier in the year.

So the game that I’m playing currently is Destiny. I received a PSN giftcard for Christmas, and decided to use it to buy the Rise of Iron expansion. Previously I had purchased The Taken King, and I mostly did so because I had several friends playing the game at that point in time. I had a bit of a falling out with one of those friends, and a couple others had refused to buy the expansion saying that it cost too much money. Hence, my play time with the game screeched to a halt despite the fact that I could have been playing it solo this whole time (not to mention knowing several bloggers and others on Twitter who play that I could have taken up arms with). Having spent more money on the game, and knowing that a Destiny 2 is in the works, I figured now was the time to really give it a fair shot. I’m glad that I did.

I must say that Destiny is one hell of a game. It’s not a “true” MMO in the traditional sense, but it has plenty of elements that make it feel MMO-like. It’s really more of a lobby type game, but there are plenty of open-world areas and you’ll see other players running around, sometimes joining forces with them while doing a strike mission. It’s also one of the best looking games I’ve played on my PS4. No, I haven’t and don’t intend on upgrading to the PS4 Pro version of the system because I suspect in the next couple of years we’ll see a new Playstation altogether, and I’ve only had mine for a year so spending the money to upgrade didn’t really make sense. Also, it’s not necessary, as the upgrade isn’t really all that impressive. My system works just fine as is, and most of the games I’ve played for it still look great, even if the architecture of the platform is lacking compared to my gaming PC.

To this point I’ve leveled a Hunter to 11, and have been burning through the storyline at a rapid clip. I do have a boost to 40 from buying the expansion, but I figured it was best to go through the game from start to finish first, and then perhaps boost one of the other classes so I don’t have to level through everything again when the time comes. I have a Warlock that is level 8 from my first romp with the game as well, but I’m unsure if I’ll boost that character or if I’ll boost a Titan. Time will tell, but so far I’m enjoying the Hunter very much. I have yet to dip my toes into any of the PvP matches, but I look forward to seeing all the game has to offer. Something about Shooters always pulls me in more so than traditional MMOs, so this has been a great fit, despite the fact that I didn’t think it would grab me like it has.

Otherwise we’re looking at the usual suspects. I’ve played SMITE nearly daily for months now. I’ve mastered over 30 Gods, and I’m nearly level 30 account level with would max me out and allow me to play in the ranked queues. I still have a handful of Gods that I prefer playing, and I still feel like I’m one of the better players in each match that I complete. You can see some evidence of that over on my YouTube channel where I’ve shared some dominating matches. Going forward I want to hit that max account level, try out ranked and continue mastering gods. Oh, and I finished up all of the Odyssey quests, and that was a fun distraction.

On the mobile front, I’m still playing Clash Royale. I joined Syncaine’s clan, Supreme Cream! and have been contributing as I can. There are various aspects of the game that are simply not available without a clan, so it’s been nice to have that. We trade cards back and forth and you can also play in friendly battles. Tournaments are also a thing, but I’m not quite high enough account level to participate. I’ve hit level 7, but 8 is required. The main issue that I’m having at this point is not having the best cards available, as most are earned semi-randomly. I’ve been running my head into the wall against players who have had better luck upgrading their decks, but eventually that should even out and I’ll be back to climbing. I’m in arena 6 currently, but there are a few more to go that require gaining rating. I’ll get there.

Lastly, I’m still building up my establishment in Tiny Tower. Nearing 80 floors and have over 150 bitizens housed. It’s really just maintenance mode at this point, with a little bit of min/maxing regarding the optimal placement of bitizens in their jobs. Still a fun little time waster, but not nearly as engaging as CR.

I was gifted a few games for Christmas, and I tried those out over my break. Some were pretty cool, others were only so-so. I’ll try to share more about those at a later date. But for now, I’m going to finish off this work day so I can get home to play more Destiny!

Minion Masters vs. Clash Royale

This month’s Humble Monthly bundle was met with mixed results. Looking at the titles on offer, I already owned a copy of Dragon’s Dogma (for PS3, though this is a copy of the recent PC port) and Mordheim. The other indie games packaged in the bundle looked pretty lackluster as well, but one game stood out to be something I was potentially interested in.

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The subtext should be a little clue, apparently this title comes from the makers of Forced, which was a quaint little action-RPG from a few years back. There was a sequel of sorts, and now Minion Masters, which is more of an arena duel, but there are layers of depth there — think easy to learn, hard to master. The game is currently in early access, and is likely going to be a free to play title. You can buy premium access now that provides some freebies and in-game currency. That was included in the Humble Monthly package, so I could start off the game with a little leg up, which is appreciated.

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This is the playing field. Essentially you get a Master, a deck of cards that make up your minions, and can customize your side of the arena. I’m sure there will be other modes of customization or “fluff” to spend money on, but it seems that the cards are all available by winning games. You get currencies periodically, but it seems that the in-game currency is useable for most cards, whereas some of the other paid for currencies are used for the fluff. You can pay to speed up your deckbuilding, or you can just play the game — typical free to play model. Leveling up provides some of the basic minions, and also provides periodic power cells that you can open to spin for various boosts — be it monetary or cards.

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The cash shop seems reasonably priced, but as of right now it doesn’t feel like there’s a need to pay for the currency. I’d rather just play the game to level up and earn more cards. There are single player trials that help you get a feel for the game, but really it’s just placing minions when you have the mana to place them, and picking a master who’s perks suit your playstyle. I spent most of my time playing with the archer fellow, who through xp gain (which is gained by controlling the bridges on the top/bottom of the arena) gains perks that allow him to shoot arrows all the way across the level. Each master has different pros and cons and different perks that can be pretty helpful. Cards come in a large variety of minion types and costs. It’s pretty fast paced and most rounds last 5 minutes or less.

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Playing against players provides you a rank. Starting with wood, you’ll soon move up to the stone tier. That’s where I left off as I finished up my session, but I look forward to returning to the game as it develops! Somewhere along the line I read that someone compared this game to the mobile game Clash Royale, made by Supercell, the creators of Clash of Clans (I’m sure you’ve all heard of those games by now). Out of curiosity I thought I’d check out that mobile game to see how they compare.

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It’s true, the two games are very similar. Clash is set up vertically rather than horizontally, and you don’t really get to pick a different master in this game. So the perks and abilities provided by a master don’t apply, though your king/castle level over time, gaining strength to defend themselves along with HP. Also, in Clash there are two towers that defend each bridge, along with your main castle, whereas in Minion Masters there are just the masters in their castle, though there are cards that are buildings and can be placed, so slight difference. Otherwise, the two games are basically the same, so having the option to play a game I rather enjoy while on the go is a nice bonus.

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As you can see, the objective gameplay is still very much the same. Units change, but the goal is the same. One major difference is the fact that cards upgrade over time in Clash Royale. As you complete matches and get daily bonus chests, you’ll get copies of cards you already own. They start at level 1, and to advance levels you meld the cards together. So to gain level 2 with a card, you’ll need 3 total. For level 3, you’ll need 4 more, and so on.

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Overall both games compare and contrast in different ways. I enjoy both of them and I would recommend you give the other a shot if you have played one, or just try out either. It’s a fun little real time strategy experience, with some deckbuilding on the side. Plus games don’t take long, so you won’t be out much time if you don’t enjoy it. Personally, I plan to put more time into both.