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Sympathy for the Drow - De-Vilifying the Dark Elves
The "Evil" races in DnD have always rubbed me kinda the wrong way. Partly once I learned that a lot of them come from racist stereotypes (Orcs, Drow, and Goblins in particular) and also just because it doesn't make sense to me. Even Nazi Germany had variation and dissenters and it only lasted for 12 years. Why would a clearly evil society never change over hundreds of years? In my opinion, a story is only as good as it's villains. So, I've set out to try and make the traditionally evil races slightly more believable and even sympathetic in places. Now, I've not been a DM very long, only like three years. But the first campaign I ever ran was through Curse of Strahd which paints the Vistani (an itinerant society heavily based on the real world Romani) as a conniving group of thieves, murders, and vampire-worshipers. Thankfully, I found through reddit and other sites how to steer away from the racists depictions of the Vistani and making them seem like, at worst, opportunists. So, I hope to be able to do that with some other of the classic DnD antagonist races. I've read some other phenomenal post on here about evil races that totally inspired me as well. There's a great twopart post about Decolonizing D&D which I adore. The post about alignment is easily my favorite. There's a couple great ones on Orcs and Yuan-Ti too so if some of my ideas are lifted from them, I hope y'all consider it flattery instead of theft. So, here are some primer notes before I get into it. For creating the Dark Elves, I tried to keep as much as I could from the books. Obviously some stuff has to get thrown out the window though. I also tried to standardize calling them Dark Elves instead of Drow partly because I feel like Drow has a much nastier sound to it and calling them Dark Elves follows the naming convention with the High and Wood Elves. I tried to model them after real-life matriarchal societies like the Mosuo people of China and their pantheon after real deities like the Greeks, Romans, and Norse. I also quickly realized that building a society is inseparable from geography. Where a people are from effects their language, values, mythology, history, and family structure. I've tried to outline details I think are necessary to making this society realistic while leaving it open ended enough to be place-able in different worlds with relative ease. All that aside, lets get into the meat of it.
The Dark Elves: Elven Outcasts
The Elves are a varied and magical people that come from many planes and many environments within them. But none are met with more distrust and fear than the Dark Elves. Easily set apart from their cousins by their charcoal or pitch-black skin, pink-red eyes, hair of grays and whites, and shorter stature, these people have earned a reputation as killers, thieves, demon worshipers, and liars. But history is a cruel mistress, something the Dark Elves know better than most.
The Divine Divide
As the legends go, when the world was still young, Corellon Larethian lived on the Plane of Arvandor with his fellow Primal Elves. They were wild and mutable, emotional and free in all things. They changed shapes at will, gave and took freely to and from the world, and never stayed in any location too long. They wandered to and fro, scattering their peoples across almost every plane. However, this unbridled freedom was not without a price. Arguments, feuds, and small scale wars were incredibly common between them. Some elves would find themselves stranded on far off planes after most of their companions impulsively decided to leave. Their self serving impulses drove them to often completely disregard the needs or wants of others if they went against their own desires. And their reckless revelry was wreaking havoc on the natural world with Elven parties decimating whole planes of edible plants, wild game, and drinkable water. One such Primal Elf began to see the destruction of their ways and talked to other elves about their actions. Slowly, this Elf by the name of Lolth amassed a small following of devotees that saw the negative ramifications of their inconsiderate freedom. Lolth and her followers agreed to take on fixed forms to show recognition of the dangers that impulsivity could bring. Lolth led this small group of devotees to Corellon to ask for his support. Now, Corellon did not lead these Primal Elves: he was just as wild as the best of them and did not take kindly to others telling him what to do. But he was the First Elf ever born and was universally respected amongst the Primal Elves and if Lolth could convince him, others would surely follow. Corellon listened to her proposition and agreed that they should change to prevent more destruction and conflict, but refused to order his kinsfolk into any action. He was an Elf, same as all of them, and he wouldn’t dare order around his family. He balked when Lolth asked him to take a concrete form as a show of solidarity and brushed her off as a killjoy. Lolth was unsatisfied with this outcome and her following set out to convince each Elf to change their ways to preserve the beauty of the worlds. However, without the support of Corellon, many elves refused her offer. Her anger grew with each failure and her opinion of Corellon turned sour, something she made no attempt to hide from her Elven siblings. Now, Corellon is a proud god and once he caught wind that Lolth was bad mouthing him in an attempt to win over others, he became enraged. He railed against Lolth calling her a snake-tongued thief and Lolth called him incompetent and cruel. Their tempers flared and all the elves chose sides between Corellon’s freedom and Lolth’s stability. During this great debate, the Primal Elves turned to violence. The Dark Elves maintain that Corellon’s side threw the first blow, while the High Elves claim that it came from Lolth’s side. No matter the source, this violent outburst soured relations between Lolth and Corellon forever after. He cast her and her followers out of Arvandor and barred her from ever returning. He also cast all but his most trusted kin from Arvandor, forcing them all to live lives on other worlds out of fear of another perceived insurrection. Thus, the Seldarine remain in Arvandor to judge the souls of Corellon’s faithful when they die and Lolth takes refuge in Arcadia with her pantheon where she minds the souls of the Drow. Corellon’s faithful call her pantheon the Dark Seldarine, while her faithful call it the Myrkalfar.
Myrkalfar: The Spider Mother’s House
Lolth the Spider Queen is the unquestioned head of the Myrkalfar, with all other deities seen as her divine family. Lolth is considered at times to be fickle or even cruel, but her ire is never gained without good reason. A very involved deity, her followers constantly search for signs of her favor or scorn in everyday life. When a Dark Elf contemplates a risky or controversial decision, they consult priestesses or perform their own rites which often gives them direct and succinct answers. She serves as an example to matriarchs of Drow families as demanding yet understanding, punishing yet guiding. She asks for a lot of her priestesses, demanding they be an unflinching example of everything a strong leader should be. The Myrkalfar is often presented as a divine household, with Lolth as the matron. Keptolo is the consort of Lolth and considered to be the ideal of what a male should be. Beautiful and kind, strong and hard working, he helps Lolth in everything she does. Sometimes he serves as a messenger, other times as an agent of redemption, sometimes as a divine healer. When a Dark Elf is tasked with a divine charge, he is usually the one to deliver the message and guide them through their charge. He serves also as a fertility deity and is often worshiped by women or men seeking a child. Outsiders see him as a weak and subservient husband to Lolth, but his faithfulness to his matron is considered a virtue and his status as a “husband” is relatively alien to the Dark Elves as they have no binding marriage in their society. If Keptolo is the agent of Lolth’s mercy, Kiaransalee is the agent of her vengeance. She is the eldest daughter of Lolth and Keptolo and one that Dark Elves pray to when they feel wronged. Only the most binding and serious contracts are signed under her name. To break an oath made under her name is sure to bring destruction. She is also the governor of the dead, judging the souls of those passed in the afterlife. She opposes the mindless undead created by mortals, but spirits and revenants that return to finish unresolved business amongst the living are considered under her protection. Should a Dark Elf encounter a returned spirit that is seeking vengeance, it’s their duty to leave them on their way and pray that the spirit isn’t there for them. This reverence of certain undead is something many outsiders consider downright evil. Selvetarm is the Dark Elven warrior goddess and youngest daughter of Lolth. Often depicted with eight arms, she represents the pinnacle of hand to hand martial prowess, but often is without restraint. She serves as both an inspiration for warriors, and a warning. Vhaeraun is the eldest son of Lolth and governs ambition and stealth. Both of these traits are not necessarily vilified, but worship of him is highly scrutinized. Haughty and rash, tales of him often include deceiving his fellow gods for good and ill and more often than not are cautionary ones. He’s depicted as wearing a mask, either as some punishment for endangering Lolth and her family or to hide his identity for various schemes, possibly both. Malyk is Lolth’s youngest son and a youthful deity of change and growth. He’s often seen as a bouncing young boy that Lolth and her family have to reign in from wild misadventures. His freedom and curiosity is often seen as a double edged sword, both gaining him great riches but also putting him in tremendous peril. He has strong ties to sorcerers and when a child is born with innate magical talent, he is often the one thanked for it. He serves as an outlet for a Dark Elves youthful chaotic nature, but also warns them of the ramifications of their actions. Ghaunadur is a strange figure in the pantheon. Their place in the family is a bit of a mystery, sometimes called the sibling of Lolth, or her child, or even as Lolth’s parent. What makes them truly unique is that they are a formless deity, something that Lolth once warred with Corellon over. The legends go that when Ghaunadur joined Lolth, they refused to give up their changeable nature. When questioned, Ghaunadur pointed to the slimes, oozes, and formless creatures of the world and said that they wished to protect them from the Elves and the Elves from them. Lolth agreed, cementing their position as the deity of the changing forms of nature. Their favored creature is the ooze, but they govern all natural creatures. Dark Elves often pray to Ghaunadur to protect them from the creatures that lurk in the depths of the forest. Zinzerena is Lolth’s sister and is the goddess of poisons, illusions, and magic. Viewed as an elderly and patient figure, she often serves as council to Lolth in desperate times. She’s said to be the mother of all poisons and venoms and her teachings are all about finding the wisest solution to a problem. Zinzerena teaches that even though the spider is small, it’s bite can still fell a panther. Despite her perceived age, she’s considered the younger sister of Lolth and is thought to be incredibly quick and nimble: a reminder that not everything is as it seems. Eilistraee is Lolth’s niece and daughter of Zinzerena. Considered the black sheep of the pantheon, she serves as a goddess of redemption and moonlight. Dark Elves that turn their back on their family or scorn traditions will sometimes find themselves turned to Driders, half-spider half-Dark Elf creatures shunned by all. Eilistraee is said to watch over these creatures and if they are repentant, offer them challenges that they could complete to redeem themselves. Lolth often views her with contempt or mistrust, but never hates her and maintains her place in the pantheon. Dark Elven faithful rarely worship her as the others. She’s also one of the only deities of the Myrkalfar to claim no animosity toward the Seldarine and their faithful. Spiders are the sacred animal of Lolth and are often used as an example of social order and the importance of family bonds. Each strand of silk serves the web as whole. More literally, the giant spiders of the Underdark are multifaceted and incredibly useful creatures. Serving as beasts of burden, war steeds, meat producers, household guardians, and silk producers, they are present in almost every facet of society. Their silks are used in everything from wound dressings to armor to architecture. To kill or steal another family's spider is considered akin to stealing a member of the family. Smaller and more poisonous spiders are often kept in temples and their webs are used as divining tools for priestesses.
The recorded history of the Dark Elves is full of contradictions from High Elf and Dark Elf sources. What historians can agree on is when the Elves of the Prime Material arrived, the followers of Lolth secluded from their Wood and High cousins and retreated into the Azelarien, also known as the Green Sea in Common. A massive forest, nearly 1 million square miles of dense and vibrant trees, that grows denser and darker the farther in one ventures. For countless eons, the High, Wood, and Dark Elves lived in relative harmony in their own corner of the world. High Elves lived near the forests in towns and villages, the Wood Elves lived in the lightly forested outlands of the Green Sea, and the Dark Elves lived deep in the central forests which was so dense that very little light reached the forest floor. As time passed and their villages turned to cities, the High Elves began expanding into the forest, chopping some down to build homes and heat their furnaces. This began pushing into the territory of the Wood Elves and eventually the Dark Elves as well. These two peoples formed a shaky alliance to push back the expansive tide of the far larger High Elven armies. This alliance proved successful however and the High Elven forces began losing ground. What happened next is a matter of some debate. High Elven historians attest that the Dark Elven armies used Wood Elven soldiers as unwitting bait to lure the High Elven armies into a trap, thus causing a schism between them. Dark Elven historians state that the Wood Elven armies turned on them after the Wood Elves met in secret with High Elven leaders and bargained for their independence. Some Wood Elven historians claim that after a brutal defeat on the field, they were met by High Elven dignitaries that offered them clemency if they turned on their allies. They initially refused, but after the dignitaries threatened to make the same offer to the Dark Elves, they had no choice but to accept. No matter the cause, the histories agree that the Wood Elves turned on their erstwhile allies and helped push the Dark Elves into a rapid loss of ground. Facing the might of the two armies with their own relatively small one, the Dark Elves were beaten into a hasty retreat into their own territory. Losing every open encounter, the Dark Elf matrons developed a new strategy of combat. The armies switched from training as many as quickly as they could, to training only a select few in multiple different forms of combat and magic. As the High and Wood Elves advanced into their territory, they quickly found their supply lines cut out from under them, their soldiers ambushed while sleeping, their scouts captured, and their leaders assassinated. And even if they would make it to a Dark Elf settlement, they would find it abandoned and booby-trapped, warned by their fast and silent scouts. If the Dark Elves couldn’t face their enemies head-on, they would weaken them with quick and decisive strikes. Eventually, the war ground to a stalemate. The High Elves couldn’t push into the Dark Elf territory far enough to capture any cities of note without taking severe casualties and the Dark Elves were only managing to hold the invading armies back and couldn’t muster a force strong enough to push back to the enemy capital. Thus, the war cooled into a tense peace. The leaders came together to draw borders, but neither side fully forgave nor forgot one another’s actions. High and Wood Elves viewed the change in tactics by the Dark Elves as an unethical violation of the standards of war. The Dark Elves felt a particular animosity toward the Wood Elves, considering them backstabbers in their darkest hour.
Dark Elf Families: Matrons of Order
The Dark Elf society, to an outsider, looks like an oppressive and cruel society of slave traders and backstabbers. But the truth is more subtle. The Dark Elves value tradition and filial piety above almost all else. To a Dark Elven citizen, their family name is their most valuable possession and they are taught from a very young age that to look after their parents and their younger siblings is the highest virtue. Ancestors that have achieved great things often have shrines in a household alongside the gods themselves. A Dark Elf going against the will of their family is considered one of the highest taboos and often causes them to be outcast from Dark Elven society as a whole. Dark Elf society is matrilineal meaning that the eldest woman in each family is revered as the household leader and receives great respect from her family and society. This also means that the males of the society don’t inherit wealth as frequently as the females. Dark Elven families are quite large, often with multiple generations along with aunts, uncles, and cousins living in the same household. New children almost always reside with their mother. Males of the society are expected to care not for their own biological children, but for the children born to their sisters, aunts, or nieces. This results in a striking amount of sexual freedom for both men and women, but is often viewed from the outside as promiscuity. The Dark Elves do not marry in the traditional sense, instead favoring long term partners with one another that can end at any time with no concerns to material wealth or ownership. However, to become a member of a Dark Elf family is not entirely a matter of heritage. When a family that cannot support another child has one, they are often adopted by more well to do families and raised as one of their own. These adopted children are considered just as legitimate as if they were born into the family. Also, should a family lose all their heirs or become destitute, they often ask to become assimilated into other families for their own safety. The latter is considered a morose ceremony as the members of the smaller family forsake their surnames. To take in such a family is both an extreme honor and grim burden, as it means ending another family's line. The borders of Dark Elven civilization only goes so far as there are trees so many newer up and coming families have expanded underground, a difficult and slow endeavor. This has put multiple houses at odds with one another for territory. However, Dark Elves do not tolerate open hostility between families as they have a very strong sense of collective identity. Dark Elves do not war against fellow Dark Elves, same as a spider does not fight its own web. This leads to many tensions and conflicts needing to be resolved in other ways. Most families will attempt a diplomatic solution, but when that isn’t an option, sabotage and coercion is the favored outlet. Murder is considered a bridge too far by most houses, but subterfuge in almost every other facet is, while not accepted, tolerated. Legends of Lolth’s rebellion and the tension of their enclosed territory have imbued the Dark Elves with a strong sense of symbiosis with nature and conservancy. Sustainable living is the cornerstone of Dark Elf society. In the wild, no creature is killed or plant destroyed unless it’s a matter of self defense or necessary to survival.
Dark Elven Sex and Gender
As with many Elven peoples, sexuality is seen as a fluid and non-binary matter. Same sex relationships are usually seen as just as acceptable as male-female relationships. Since Dark Elves have no marriage structure, same sex life partners are common and widely accepted. Inheritance is passed along by the family as a whole, not linearly, meaning some houses may have matrons with no direct biological descendants while still serving at the elder matron. Power dynamics in relationships are still a factor, with the elder female in a gay relationship considered slightly above their partner socially and is seen as the inheritor in cases of property or genealogy. Male same sex relationships are accepted with little controversy. Since children are passed down their mothers line, the males have no social obligation to sire an heir as with other societies. Transgender and transexual Dark Elves are met with slightly more controversy. Lolth’s rejection of the Primal Elves mutable forms is sometimes cited against transgender and transexual Dark Elves. Ghaunadur, however, is considered the patron god of these people and teaches that just as they are part of nature, they can change their forms. Many of these people join the religious order of Ghaunadur, serving in various roles both in religious ceremonies and as forest guides. Some even consider them to be blessed by Ghaunadur and are highly sought after in forays into the forests for protection. Children born to transgender Dark Elves are still expected to be a part of their eldest mother’s family or eldest father if no woman is part of the union.
Slavery Amongst the Dark Elves
While the Dark Elves do take slaves, their slavery doesn’t look the same as many other societies. When a family becomes indebted to another and they cannot pay off the debt, a member of their family, usually male, will be sent to work for the owed family. They give him room and board and are expected to care for him as if he were one of their own. He’ll work for them for an agreed upon amount of time before returning to his native family. Injury or misuse of this person is often grounds for them to leave and the debt to be nullified. Children born to servant fathers needn’t worry about inheriting their father’s status since they’re considered to be their mother’s child. On the rare occasion that a female servant has a child while in servitude, the child is returned to the mother’s family to be raised by her family while she works off the remaining debt. Some trade of servants does occur between houses, with indentured servants being traded for goods or services or even other servants of special skills, but the family of the servant reserves the right to veto such a trade for any reason. During their frequent clashes with external armies, the Dark Elves do sometimes take prisoners of war, though very rarely are they used for slave labor. They never bring them back to major settlements, often keeping them on the outskirts of their territory to prevent them from learning critical knowledge of their territory. Most prisoners are held as bargaining chips to be traded for passage, supplies, or captured Dark Elves. Captured military leaders are sometimes brought to Dark Elven cities to be tried for their crimes against their people.
Dark Elven Government: Independent Houses
Unlike many other cultures, the Dark Elves lack a centralized government. Societal etiquette govern the standard for how certain crimes and disagreements should be handled, but each family unit acts as its own governing body. Disagreements within families are thus resolved internally. Inter-family disputes are resolved in multiple different ways. Most often, the two matrons of the family will meet and agree on terms to fairly compensate both sides. In cases when these talks deteriorate, the High Priestess of Lolth is often called to serve as the mediator and serves as the ruling body between disputes. Her rulings are final and indisputable, as she is considered the mouthpiece of Lolth’s will. In times of crisis, historically the many houses of the Dark Elves have convened to discuss threats to all of Dark Elven society. This is uncommon as it’s difficult logistically to gather all the matrons in the same place at the same time, so often houses are represented by either the second eldest woman of the family or the eldest daughter of the matron. The High Priestess of Lolth often resides over these meetings as an arbiter in the event of split decisions or in delivering guidance from Lolth herself. There's my take on the Dark Elves. Any comments, suggestions, questions, outrages, and critiques are welcomed. This is my first comprehensive look at a whole race so if I've missed things, I'll try and patch them up. I'd like to do similar things for Orcs, Goblinoids, Kobolds, and others so those might be seen soon. Thanks!
Hi all, It's no secret that the meta is rather stale with most people going for Vayne, Jinx, and Riven comps. In almost every game I play, I don't have a lot of success playing meta and usually prefer to find weird anti-meta/off-meta picks. I got really tired of playing one of the big three so started playing Mech to limited success. Then I started 6 Battlecast and climbed from ~70 LP Masters to now 320 LP (though I played other comps too in this climb). Here are my Battlecast stats below from about 11 games played. https://imgur.com/a/nMYgpBt https://lolchess.gg/profile/na/sakuchan39 Match History This is my first guide written so let me know if there is anything I can improve on. Why play 6 Battlecast I think its a decently strong comp for climbing purposes only. As you can see, I have a really high top rate but really low win rate with this comp. To be honest, it is a bit player diff since this set I have had a low win rate in general. I think the comp is rather fun to play to see all of the battlecast procs, and is also easy due to how straightforward 6 trait comps are in general. Pros
Strong for climbing. This is because of people usually contesting one of the Big 3. Battlecast spikes early at level 6 and you will winstreak hard and do big damage to low rollers. In non high elo (GM+) lobbies, there is usually a skill gap in lobbies and people will not know how to play from behind, allowing you to at least top 6 almost any lobby through developing a large health and gold lead.
Generally uncontested. It is very easy to upgrade the units you need. Kogmaw can be contested early from Jinx players, but otherwise, Illaoi, Nocturne, Cass, are all uncontested and can be upgraded easily.
Strong matchups into Big 3 before their endgame. Nocturne jumping and getting fear on Vayne/Jinx is really good. Urgot eating Riven can quickly turn fights in late game against sorcs.
Really bad scaling. Once you do go to end game, you will probably go on a large lose streak. The purpose of this game is to win through attrition; from the large health lead you've gained through winstreaking in the mid-game, hopefully you will top 4 from everyone's end game comp beating up on each other.
Reliance on a legendary unit/spat. 6 battlecast is absolutely necessary to survive the terrible endgame. If you can't hit, you will suffer large losses and lose your win condition of barely scraping into the top 4.
Weak in stronger lobbies. I end up occasionally in GM/Chally lobbies but I cannot conclude the strength of this comp in these lobbies. I believe that it is weaker in general due to the lobby being closer in strength making it difficult to generate a high health lead (even if you win they will probably get good losses) and people knowing how to play better from behind.
Early Game The general indicators to play 6 battlecast are early upgrades to Illaoi, Nocturne, and components for Kogmaw. Kogmaw absolute core item is Red Buff and needs one of Shiv or Runaan's Hurricane. I prio Bow on first carousel because it can be either RH or Shiv, but I've seen ideas of Vest prio for Red Buff. If you get good items, but no upgrades, it may be worth it to lose streak early for carousel priority, and to stay lower level to complete Illaoi and Nocturne upgrades. Here are some early game boards. Early Kog Infil Open In Early Kog opener, Lucian is replaceable to hold Kog items, or if early Ezreal then Graves can hold Kog items. Blitz can replace Malphite. Play what makes sense in the context of your game. Mid Game The biggest spike is at level 6 and getting 4 battlecast, 2 chrono, 2 blaster with one core item on Kogmaw. Until you get there, just play whatever you have that is strongest. Again, the purpose of this comp is to win streak. As soon as I can put in 4 battlecast, I level to 6. I avoid aggressively leveling to 7 as I like to stay at 6 for increased chances of upgrading Kogmaw. Stage 4-1 is always a level 7 and then roll an appropriate amount of gold to maintain econ while upgrading your board. Since this board is pretty self-explanatory, look to snipe carries with Blitz/Noc to cheese out wins. If you can't hit these units, or have bad items at this stage, look to pivot out. I pivot to Bang Bros (shares Runaans as core item), Jinx (if high roll early Jinx), or even once Mech (had really bad items). In the mid-game, you should also look to start building Urgot items (GA and mana items) as well has hopefully completing an Ionic Spark for Illaoi. GA is really good on Urgot to trade 1 for 1 in the endgame (saving health) as well as stalling for tie breakers. Mid-game Board End-game Ideally, by the time it is time to level to 8 (between stage 4-3 to 5-1), you'll have generated a 50 health lead over the 7th and 8th place people. Now, the goal is to complete the trait with Viktor and Urgot to try and survive to 9. Until you hit these units, splashing traits like Mystic (Karma/Soraka/Lulu) or Infil (Fizz/Ekko) or front line (Gnar) are great to help you survive and can hold Urgot items. Similar to mid-game, you are looking to cheese out wins with Blitz/Infil/Urgot. Urgot targets the furthest unit in his range which is 3 hexes. Once you have hit 6 Battlecast, look to go 9 to add in Mystic/Asol/Ekko/any other broken unit. Battlecast matches up really bad against Sorcs so Mystic is usually my go to since it helps against Mech and Jinx. End-game Board Other Notes
Urgot targeting is getting changed to the farthest unit but can be blocked. This makes it difficult to snipe back row carries. He also doesn't eat through GA anymore making it difficult to fight Riven Sorcs.
Requires flexible gaming. If you don't hit early and spike too late, you will die very quickly. Think about how the items you make can be flexed into other comps. I flex RH into Bang Bros for Yi and Spark flexes into every comp. When you play 6 Battlecast, try to have an out in mind if you can't make Red Buff, can't hit Kog, or are contested by someone high-rolling Battlecast units.
Extra AP items go on Cass/Viktor. I put them on I feel is stronger at the time. Viktor 1 is also stronger than Noc 1, but I prefer Noc 2 over Viktor 1 as my 4th battlecast in the mid-game. Use whatever is appropriate (Viktor can be strong against Sorc backlines and Jinx clumps, Noc strong against solo back line Vayne).
Who does Spat go on. I haven't really had a large enough sample to tell. I really like Asol not because it is strong but because Asol is just broken. He helps you beat Sorc comps. I've seen people say Gnar which is good as added front line in a very weak front line comp, but you end up stuck with 3/4 brawler since you may need Mystic/Asol in at 9. If you hit Gnar 2 though then obviously it is better. Spat Item generally is an Urgot replacement, then Urgot replaces Nocturne.
Galaxies. Battlecast is super strong in Littler and Binary Star. It is good in Treasure Trove (access to Spat, easy to high roll items), Reroll (can high roll upgrades early, potential 3 star though I don't usually go for Kog 3), and Star Cluster (same as reroll).
I haven't played that many games with Battlecast, but the results have been very positive so far. Hopefully, this will increase the flavor of your games in the last few days of this flavorless meta. Let me know if there's anything I can improve in my guide; I realize I don't go over general Econ strategies or flex options. I think there's lots of good information in high-elo streamers on economy vs aggressive leveling. I find my playstyle to try and balance both but leaning more towards econ is king. I'll answer as many questions as I can below.
This is a guide to a battlecast brawler hyper roll build I've been working on in patch 10.13. (Or HyperBeam HyperRoll as i like to call it)
Down below I've shown what the comp should look like at various stages of the game, as well as the general strategy and itemization. Hyper roll builds have disappeared from the meta with the introduction of set 3.5, mostly to to the nerfing of key 1 cost units like Poppy and Xylah, the removal of the Void alliance, and level 4 rolling odds changing from 60% to 55% for 1 cost units. However, I think with the massive buffs to Illaoi and the battlecast synergy and it's units, as well as the massive increase in odds for 3 cost units from 10% to 15% at level 4 make this build viable if you abuse those odds to find an early Cassiopeia, and get 4 battlecast online early after hyper rolling at stage 3-1. You're almost guaranteed to have her on round 3-2, often you will even find 2 copies or a 2 star Cassiopeia on your first hyper roll. I think by shifting the focus of hyper roll builds away from 3 starring a board of 1 and 2 cost units, and focusing more on abusing the 15% odds for 3 cost units, and focusing on 3 starring a few one cost units, and getting super early 2 star 3 costs who unlock important synergies, hyper rolling can be quite good again. Anyways, here's the rundown of the comp: The build focuses on building Illaoi and Cassiopeia as your carries. The compound effect of all the buffs to Illaoi and battlecast have made her tankiness and power increase exponentially, especially at 3 star. Combining the buffed heal from battlecast with the bonus HP she got this patch, 10% more armor and magic resist steal and the massive 50% increase from 4 second to 6 second steal duration, allowing her to stack up much more at a single time makes her a way stronger unit at 3 star than she was in 10.12. Combining this with the right set of items easily rivals Poppy in the golden days of the Candyland build. As for Cassiopeia, despite getting a nerf to DPS, the amount of damage instances she does is very powerful with the battlecast synergy. With Blue Buff and Morellonomicon, you'll be dealing 2 instances of tick damage on your opponents entire team very early into the fight, triggering tons of blasts/heals. When played in this comp, she is a way stronger carry than she is in the Vanguard Mystic build, despite being nerfed. The 4 battlecast synergy has been buffed enough that it can crush early game and carry you through mid, until you find Urgot later, and the 6 battlecast alliance has been buffed enough to make this build viable in the late/top 4 portion of the game. Buffs to Nocturne and Kog'Maw aren't huge, but still relevant. This comp also makes great use of spatula. If you can get battlecast spat, you can run 6 battlecasts at level 6, without needing to to wait all the way to level 8 to find Urgot. The 480 damage blasts/heals at earlier stages of the game will pretty much ensure you steamroll. In summary, the comp wants to have long fights with an unkillable Illaoi and Malphite 3 star in the front, buying time for Cassiopeia's damage over time, and your battlecast procs to do work, while the combination of Ionic Spark and Illaoi's resistance reductions massively increase your damage output as your tanks run endlessly into the opponents units and debuff them to oblivion. Super Early Game (Stage 1-2) In the super early game, you should econ as much as possible. Focus on making interest at all times, and only deviate from this if it means picking up an Illaoi, Cassiopeia, Malphite, or Nocturne. You want to hang onto as few units as possible that don't go into the level 5 comp shown below. Holding onto one Kog'maw is a good idea, but 2 starring him before you roll down your gold at 3-1 isn't worth it. It costs way too much in interest gold and you will always be able to 2 star him very early with your hyper rolls, and having him 2 star isn't the most important thing. What really matters is having him for an early 4 battlecast synergy. If you can sell Cog'Maw to make interest it's generally worth it, as you can always find another copy during your hyper roll. You want to streak for maximum econ without ever breaking your streak, which usually means loss streaking until the crug round. This also ensures you get first/early pick at the carousel. Getting the right items, specifically an early bramble for your Illaoi, is important for this comp, so it's normally the best approach. I wouldn't recommend committing to win streaking unless you're entering the first PVP rounds with 2 star units and some solid completed items, or if you lucked out and got Cassiopeia on stage 1. Ideally you want between 40-50 gold for stage 3-1, at which point you hyper roll to 0 and try to 3 star Illaoi Malphite and Nocturne, while 2 starring Kog'Maw, and finding Cassiopeia 1 or 2 star. Consider holding onto Blitz crank and Vi during your roll, until you find the 4 battlecasts so you can play a 4 brawler start as a backup plan if need be. Sidenote: picking up as many 1 cost and 3 cost units as possible while you're rolling down your gold will slightly increase your chances of 3 starring units and hitting Cassiopeias by removing some units from the pool. This isn't huge but it can be the difference between hitting a 3 star unit a round or two earlier, which does matter. Early Game (Level 4-5) Level 5 You want to get Illaoi to 3 star as your top priority, while looking for Malphite and Nocturne 3 star along the way. Kog'Maw 3 star is nice but it isn't worth the bench space and gold and will ultimately slow you down too much. Getting him to 2 star early is all you need. The other goal is to find Cassiopeia 2 star early during the hyper rolls, but never roll specifically for her, as a 1 star Cassiopeia is all you need early on, and you should get her to 2 star extremely early naturally with your hyper rolls now giving you 15% chance for 3 cost units in the early game anyways. The only 3 star unit that is absolutely crucial to the comp is Illaoi. Malphite makes the comp much stronger if you can 3 star him, but the comp can function without him. 3 star Nocturne is much like Zoe in Candyland; a nice bonus if you find him, and quite useful with his 4 second stun, but you don't need him 3 star. It's always worth the econ and bench to hang onto him though. Since this is a hyper roll build, you never spend money on exp until you are fully ready to go to level 6, where your odds for finding 1 cost units decrease drastically. Once you find Illaoi 3 star, you should go to level 6 if you aren't anywhere near finding Malphite and nocturne 3, but if you have 5 or more copies of either of them, and if the units aren't being heavily contested, it's worth staying at level 5 longer and rolling down again for 3 star on all your 1 costs first. Be patient with your gold, and try to econ up to 30-50 gold before rolling down each time, instead of rolling all your gold as you get it, unless you are dying and have no other option. You usually want to run the 5 units shown above, however if you failed to find 4 battlecast, you can run 4 Brawler instead, although this isn't as good. The other main thing to consider is running Zed instead of Malphite. Zed can be worth it if you ended up with a 3 star Nocturne, or if you somehow didn't find 2 star Malphite on your first hyper roll, which is incredibly unlikely. Otherwise the 2 Brawler front line with 4 battlecast is your best option. Mid Game (Level 6-7) Level 6 level 7 At this point, hopefully Illaoi and as many other 1 costs as possible are 3 starred, or 1-2 copies away from being 3 starred, and you have 2 star Cassiopeia. The best option at level 6 is to add a Mystic to further increase your units durability. Soraka is great, and her healing has great synergy with the innate tankiness of your units. Karma is also great to link to your Cassiopeia. If you can't find a mystic the option of throwing in a 2 star Zed or a Fizz is also okay. Running Infiltrator in the place of Mystic can actually be better up until late game if Nocturne is 3 starred. At this point in the game, you don't want to be rolling any more. Just econ up and pick up more brawlers, and finish 2 starring everything you can, and finishing 3 star units unless it becomes unrealistic to keep looking for them. At level 7, you want to add in two brawlers and take out the mystic, for 4 brawler 4 battlecast. Adding Vi and Gnar provides much more valuable front line to buy time and drag out the fight for your Cassiopeia and battlecast procs to do work, as well as providing you with lots of CC. If the game is going well, i prefer to econ up to 50 on level 6 and slowly pump gold into exp, while remaining at 50 gold, then pump all my gold into levels to jump strait to level 8 right after, but if you are being pressured it's fine to go to 7 sooner if you're taking too much damage. Late Game (Level 8-9) Level 8 Level 8 alt Level 9 At level 8, add your Mystic back in (Soraka being the best). You don't have much to do here as far as your build, aside from trying to find Urgot and Viktor, if you don't already have him, to go to 6 battlecast. Once you find Urgot, either replace Cog'Maw with him (or Nocturne if you never 3 starred him) or take out 2 of your brawlers and go for 6 battlecast, 2 brawler, 2 mystic. If the game goes to Level 9, you can simply play 4 brawler 6 battlecast. If you're facing heavy magic damage lineups that don't require you to strengthen your front line as much (such as Gangplank/Riven and 6 sorcerers) you can consider 4 mystics instead of 4 brawlers. This is especially effective if you have dragon scale on Illaoi, and practically allows her to 1v9 against those kind of comps. Spatula Variation Level 6 Level 9 If you get a spatula, you can make battlecast spat and put it onto your Malphite. Malphite carries Ionic spark in this comp, so giving him the ability to output some magic damage is nice while hes tanking for you, but more importantly he has tons of hp to work with so he will survive on the front line for much longer with battlecast heals and keep that ionic spark aura up for longer. With battlecast spat, you can add Viktor in at level 6 for the 6 battlecast synergy. The DPS increase to 480 for each battlecast proc at this early in the game is brutal, and also makes Illaoi unkillable with the increase heal. You can play 4 brawler 6 battlecast at level 8 now as well, and at level 9 you can play a mystic on top of the normal comp, while dropping one of your less useful battlecasts. Items Carousel Priority is Spatula > Chain Vest > Cloak > TeaRod > Belt/Gloves It's essential that you prioritize getting Bramble first, Blue Buff second, then two additional tank items for Illaoi and Morellonomicon as a third priority, and lastly Ionic Spark or Rapid Firecannon are luxury items (they help you win more if you're ahead, but don't stabilize you if you're behind). Basically, Bramble vest is the most important item in the comp, with Blue Buff being a close second. They are the only irreplaceable items. Bramble plays a crucial role in carrying you through all stages of the game. It's value on tanky units, especially at 3 star, is too great to ever pass up. It will do a ton of AOE damage, and it creates quite a lot of damage instances throughout the fight to fuel battlecast. Ideally, Illaoi wants Bramble, Dragon Scale and Quicksilver. I believe these items best leverage her stolen resistances from her spell and increase her survivability. The armor from vest, plus the negating of crits, coupled with 20% evasion from quicksilver, makes her very durable against physical damage. The magic resist provided by Dragon scale and Quicksilver bring her magic resistance extremely high, and she ends up taking almost no damage when incoming magic damage is reduced by 50% by scale before even considering her resistances. The immunity to crowd control from Quicksilver is very important on her as well, as it allows her to cast without interruption, and she can't be stunned before she has a chance to steal resistances. Stacking up a few casts in the first 10 seconds of the fight is enough to make sure she is always working with added armor and magic resist. Getting these 3 items isn't imperative though, as long as you have bramble you can replace one of the other slots. Warmog's works fine in giving her more raw HP to leverage her mass stolen armor and magic res, and gives her more HP to stay alive and heal back up with battlecast procs. Titan's resolve is also an acceptable replacement as she is one of the units who can actually get it to 50 stacks and then stay alive and heal back up for a long time thereafter to make good use of the item to its full potential. Cassiopeia wants Blue Buff and Morellonomicon. With this combination of items, she can dish out tons of damage over time as long as she has a tanky front line to buy time for the damage to do its work, as we've seen in builds like Vanguard Mystic and Mystic Protectors. Given two sources of tick damage on every unit that she casts on, not only does she melt entire teams, she goes rapid-fire with the battlecast procs, even managing to stay alive through rapid healing if she gets jumped on the back line. The last item is Ionic Spark. This is best on Malphite 3 star, but can be on any Brawler. I don't recommend putting it on Illaoi because it offers less defensively and we just want to make her as tanky as possible with her 3 slots. Combining the magic resistance debuff aura and Illaoi stealing 60% resistances every cast from whoever she hits, your team will be able to easily melt enemies. Almost all item components have good use in this comp, but BF Sword is quite a dead item. The best you can do is make a Zeke's Herald or GA with it. Other notable items if you happen to get them: Rapid Firecannon - Great on Cassiopeia, and allows you to position her as safe and far away as possible. Any Bows you pick up should go towards building this item. It didn't make the cut for the item build, but it would be the next best thing that isn't on the core 6 item list. Don't prioritize bows on the carousel over anything else for this item, but it's nice if you end up with one. Protector Spat - Spatula should be built into battlecast spat, but if that ends up being impossible, or you pick up the full item on a later carousel, it can be great for Cassiopeia to perma-shield once you activate protector synergy with Urgot. Jarvin and Karma can be played until you find Urgot, to get protector and dark star. Thief's Gloves - If you end up with extra Sparring Gloves you can just combine them onto Nocturne or victor to get some value out of them. Frozen Heart - If you have spare chain vest and tear drops, this is a nice item to have on either a brawler, or on Nocturne. ZZ'Rot Portal/Redemption - If you end up with these, they're nice on Nocturne, as he will jump to the back line, cause havoc, then give you benefits for dying. Positioning Depending on what brawlers you're using, there are two general approaches to positioning Cassiopeia. If you have all your brawlers up front, it's best to have her to the second row against one of the edges, with a brawler directly in front of her. If you're running Blitzcrank, you can put him in the corner with Cassiopeia next to him. This will give her a target to attack in between casting her spell. Since she only needs to hit once to gain full mana with blue buff, she should be able to distribute her poison to most of the enemy team from the safety of the back row before the pulled unit dies, forcing her to move up closer. Malphite (or whoever ends up with Ionic Spark) should be towards the center to maximize the aura's effect. Illaoi should also be centered. Her and Malphite are the tankiest units assuming they're three starred, and it's also best to have her near the Ionic spark to ensure she stacks magic resistance reduction from Tentacle Smash and ionic spark onto the same units, helping your team burst down targets better. Nocturne can typically kill off a target during his 4 second stun duration, so having him jump onto a key spell caster such as Lulu/Xeraph or a carry is important. In the top 4 and above, his positioning becomes increasingly more important as you can target specific players more easily. Cow'Maw isn't the most impactful unit, so he should be positioned in such a way that he will tankenemy Blitzcranks. In general, I prefer to play towards one side in the early game, to better help your units focus fire, and cause battlecast to target the same unit. later on, I typically prefer to spread out more. Pros and Cons Pros: - Counters Vanguards and Mystics. Cassiopeia with Morellonomicon melts them, and Illaoi's spell turns their own strength against them, making her ridiculously tanky and stripping them of their alliance bonuses. - Counters Protectors due to Cassiopeia 50% shield reduction. - Not Super contested in general. Not many players are 3 starring these units, and with hyper rolls you can get your hands on the highly contested Cassiopeia before anyone has a chance to empty them out of the pool. - Good in Trade Sector, Neekoverse, Star Cluster, Superdense Galaxies. - Easy Top 4 if you get some 3 stars at a reasonable time, or hit your items on Cassiopeia and Illaoi Cons: - Easy Bottom 4 if you get unlucky with your hyper rolls - Can struggle against Blasters with the 80% true damage from Giant Slayers against your High HP units, and heal reduction from Red Buff. If more than two players are going blaster brawler, you shouldn't go for this comp, as your units will be contested as well and 3 starring the important ones could become impossible. - Can be weak against sorcerers. Burst damage comes in less, more intense damage instances, and doesn't let you proc enough battlecast heals. Their units often don't have much resistance to steal making Illaoi less effective and more vulnerable, as well as losing value on HP% burn from Cassiopeia since their units are fairly low hp. - Bad in Binary Star and Galactic Armory. Risky in Littler Little Legends Galaxy. If you snowball early you can crush the game easily, but if you take a bit too long hitting your power spikes, you'll be in a rough spot. That's it for the guide, thanks for reading! I hope you give this comp a try and have fun! If you have any feedback or questions, feel free to DM me!
Woodbridge: I hate to say it, but it’s unlikely, Allen. It’s a lot easier to pretend everyone else is wrong, and that you had no other option. The camera pans to a kitchen. We see Tony the Milkman standing there in his leather jacket accompanied by Jim Baker. The table is adorned with ingredients mixing bowls and other baking supplies. Tony ”Guys, gals and non-binary pals, I welcome you all to the great bake-off! Mr. Baker and I have decided to put our differences behind us but before we officially align we have decided to have one final friendly competition! Since I beat him in our debut match, I picked a stipulation that I believe will help make the score equal.” Baker: “Tony, you know I’m not a baker, right? It’s just my name?” Tony: “I get it, Baker, you’re playing a rib on me so I won’t feel bad for losing. It’s ok! We’re partners now!” Baker “Tony I’m being se-“ Tony: “As is I was saying, The bake-off! Both of us will be baking something, which will then be shared with the rest of the locker room, unless they’re that piece of shit Joey McCarty, or Joey McCarty’s friends.” Tony stares directly into the camera: “I know how much the people in the locker room love consuming the labor of others without compensation.” Baker nods in agreement Tony: “For my entry, I will be making the favored dessert of bisexuals such as myself… Lemon Bars!” Baker: “And I’m making… uh… cookies I think” Tomy: “No need to put yourself down, brother! We all know you’re going to smoke me! Anyways let the games begin! The to go off in opposite directions and begin preparing their deserts. Tony begins making a crust out of flour cornstarch and other ingredients, carefully slicing butter and mixing, while Jim unsuccessfully attempts to make even balls of store bought cookie dough. Backstage we see Mark Dutch walking around, peeking around corners and down hallways as if he’s searching for someone. Dutch: Yo Blackwater! We’re done playing hide and seek! Where are you? Dutch turns around, staring at each door and peeking into some of them, but to no avail. Dutch: Where the fuck did he go? After taking a few more steps he stares to the left of him. The camera turns and he comes across Kyle Scott, looking down onto a large map. Dutch: Kyle. You got a moment? Kyle looks up, staring back at the tall Dutchman with a focused look on his face? Kyle: What do you want? Can’t you see I’m busy? Dutch frowns for a moment, presumably having a brainfreeze from the shake before he peeks at the map. It’s a detailed map of Ohio that Kyle looks at Dutch: Have you seen Louis? Louis Blackwater? Confused, Kyle looks back at Dutch before shrugging. Dutch: Like.. the B in D&B? Have you seen him? Kyle: Becca? Dutch: No. She’s dead. Blackwater. Kyle: Ooooh! Blackwater. No, I haven’t. Why would I know that? Dutch: I don’t know. Kyle: Exactly. Now leave me alone, please. Dutch: Fine. Thanks anyways. When Kyle puts his head back down into the map, Dutch continues to walk down the hallway until hearing a loud crash. Immediately, Dutch sprints over to where the sound came from, in the background we see Kyle not even having flinched from it. After a few steps Dutch goes around a corner and immediately is heard yelling. Dutch: LOUIS! Louis is found on the ground, holding his head and surrounding him are metal pipes. Dutch gets to Louis and checks him out, staring over him as he tries to get Louis’ attention by shaking him! Dutch: LOUIS! WAKE THE FUCK UP! Blackwater: I am awake! Stop shaking me! Dutch: Why the fuck are you on the ground?! Blackwater: Fuck, man. A fucking mouthbreather attacked me from behind. Hit me right in the fucking liver. REAL LAME, GUYS! I USE IT TO DRINK! Blackwater holds his hand on his side, presumably where is black, abused liver is supposed to be before he sticks out his hand, trying to get up. Dutch takes it and pulls him up slowly. Blackwater: Ah.. fuck.. that hurts.. Dutch: You going to be alright? Blackwater: Yeah.. Fuck me, I had worse. I should check a doc or something. Then go find the cumstain who did this. Immediately, Dutch’s eyes light up as if he has a bright idea. Dutch: I got a bright idea! You go visit the doc, I’ll find who did this. I’ll be like Batman doing detective work! Blackwater: Of course you’d wear leather. You gonna have bat-nipples on your costume too? Dutch: Fuck off, mate. Let me help you get to the doc. Wrapping Louis’ arm around his neck, Blackwater begins to walk down the hallway, helping him as they both disappear around the corner. Blackwater: Really tho, I won’t judge you if you wear leather. Dutch: ...I’ll think about it. We then cut back to the ring, where we see Javier not standing solidly in the middle of the ring, but instead rushing down from backstage to it, seemingly not having been ready for once, as he pulls out a card from his pocket, and begins to read. Javier: At the request of both competitors in this upcoming bout, we will now be staging an impromptu singles match between Dalidus Nova and Buster Braggadocio! Crowd: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Javier:Clears throat And it is a singles match set for one fall, with a 30 minute time limit! Introducing first- The Kids are Back hits the speakers, as out from the curtain comes Dalidus Nova, swiftly followed by Miles Alpha. Javier: From Toronto, Ontario, Canada, standing at 6 feet 3 inches and weighing 225 lbs… DALIDUUUUS! NOOOOOOVA! Crowd: BOOOOOOOOOOO! Woodbridge: And the crowd here not a fan of Dalidus or Miles. Paisner: They’re not the only ones… Dalidus spits out a grotesque, far-too-large mouthful of Hubba Bubba gum at ringside and enters the ring, Miles staying outside but putting himself in Nova’s corner as Freaky Black Greetings hits the speakers. Javier: And now, from Atlanta, Georgia, standing at 6 feet and three quarters of an inch and weighing 220 lbs… BUUUUUUSTER! BRAGGADOCIOOOOO! Buster comes out from the curtain, pick in hair and yelling caucasian-themed insults at the crowd with reckless abandon. Crowd: BOOOOOOOOOOOO! Woodbridge: Quite clearly, the audience here doesn’t feel too strongly about Buster either! Paisner: Seems the crowd and I are finally seeing eye-to-eye! He slides into the ring, flicking his pick towards Alpha at ringside while he does so. Buster and Dalidus eye eachother up from opposite sides of the ring as the bell signals the start of the bout. DING DING DING! The bell rings, and Buster is quick to charge Nova, who slips underneath the bottom rope and out of the ring. Crowd: Booooooooooo! Paisner: Dalidus wasting no time going to his sleazy playbook. Woodbridge: But Buster’s not having it, look out! Buster immediately follows Dalidus to the outside, giving chase as Nova stumbles into a run, not expecting Buster’s aggression. The two make a circle outside the ring, until Dalidus slides right back in through the bottom rope. Buster is seconds behind him, but as he gets to his feet he sees that Nova has slipped back outside the ring, grabbing Buster by the ankle and pulling him down and out to the floor! Crowd: Booooooooooo! Paisner: Ooh! Buster landing hard outside! Dalidus starts to lay boots into Buster on the outside, as Miles yells a mix of encouragement towards his partner, and insults towards the opponent. After several seconds of the officials count, Nova grabs Buster and wrestles him back into the ring. Woodbridge: Finally, both men back into the ring, the only place the final fall can take place. Not relenting, Nova drags Buster up to his feet in the corner, striking him in the chest with a chop! Crowd: Ooooooooh! He winds up for a second one, but not before Buster strikes him with a forearm strike, creating the separation necessary to connect square in the chest with a dropkick! Crowd: OOOOOoooohh! Paisner: Buster with the retaliation! Nova is sent flying backwards, quickly rising to his feet in the opposite corner as Buster continues his attack, flying in with a corner clothesline! Still not giving Dalidus a second to breath, Buster shoots Nova back towards the other corner with an Irish Whip… Woodbridge: These two men, back and forth across the ring! ...Charging in for another clothesline, Buster is suddenly met by the rising boot of Dalidus! Crowd: Woooahh! Paisner: Back and forth quite literally, Mark! Neither man’s gotten a concrete advantage thus far! Taking a second to breathe, Dalidus re-approaches Buster, bending down to pick him off the mat only to get caught in a lightning-fast small package! 1…! 2.. - No! Woodbridge: Nova damn-near got caught! Dalidus is swift to fight out, both men twisted away from one-another and back up to their feet, backing towards opposite ropes. Alpha: C’mon, Dali! Get his ass! With the verbal from Miles, Dalidus rushes Buster, who ducks underneath a clothesline attempt, grabbing the waist from behind and using Nova’s momentum to run him into the ropes with an O’Connor Rollup! 1…! 2…! No! Dalidus reverses the roll-up! 1…! But Buster breaks free, and is quickly up to a knee! Paisner: Two escapes from both - WOAH! Still kneeling, Buster is caught in perfect position for the Kneeling Superkick! Paisner: CHEKHOV’S GUN! Buster falls back to the mat, rolling out of the ring and plopping to the floor outside the ring. Woodbridge: Buster got caught on bad timing, but makes up for it by getting outside the ring, away from any potential pinfall attempts. Dalidus, with an annoyed look on his face, walks towards the ropes, crossing them and landing outside the ring beside Buster. As Miles stands beside him, Dalidus again tries to get Buster into the ring. This time, however, Buster slips from Nova’s grip, slamming his opponent's head into the edge of the ring! Crowd: OOOOOH! Paisner: Buster was playing possum! With Nova dazed, Buster turns to Alpha, kicking him in the gut before grabbing the back of the Canadian’s head and swinging him into the ring post! Crowd: YEEEAAAAAAHHHH! Woodbridge: Miles hit hard, and the crowd loves it! With Alpha laid out outside the ring, Buster swings Nova’s legs up and onto the canvas, sliding in after him. Paisner: These two have fought at a lightning-fast pace thus far, and it looks like Buster is aiming for an equally-fast conclusion to this bout! Buster sits Nova up in the center of the ring, shooting a quick kick into his back to keep him in place. Breaking into a sprint, Buster hits the rope facing his opponent, running back at Dalidus with intentions to hit a running knee strike… Woodbridge: Bravado Bust - Nonono! However, Dalidus lays back and the knee flies right overhead, as he reaches upwards and catches Buster between the legs, pulling him back down to the mat with another roll-up! 1…! 2…! 3.. - NO! But Buster kicks away, breaking the pinfall! Returning to his feet, Buster is unable to avoid a forearm strike from Dalidus, stunning him long enough for Nova to drive a knee into the gut and snap down with a quick DDT! Paisner: DDT from Dalidus, and these two just will not slow down! Woodbridge: Ya may not like them, - God knows I don’t - but they’ve got some mighty gas tanks on ‘em! Dalidus, now behind Buster, brings his opponent to his feet with a waistlock, before throwing Buster’s arm over his neck and throwing him backwards with an Inverted Exploder Suplex! Buster flies far through the ring, but his boots collide with the skull of the official, sending him falling to the mat like a sack of potatoes! Crowd: BOOOOOOO! Paisner: Cord Cutter, but the ref’s down! Woodbridge: Buster ate all of that! Dalidus begins to go for a pinfall, but spots the official down on the mat. Looking up towards a less-than-admiring crowd, he gives a shout to his partner. Dalidus: Miles! Gimme a chair! Paisner: Oh, sonuva… Miles, still reeling from the collision with the steel post, grabs a steel chair and slides it into the ring as Buster begins reaching for the ropes in an attempt to get back to a standing base. Meanwhile, Dalidus grabs the chair from the mat and sizes up Buster from behind. Woodbridge: Buster’s gonna get his brain rattled! As he turns around, Dalidus charges with the chair raised high, swinging it downwards just as Buster sees, quickly rolling underneath the blow leaving the chair to connect with nothing but air! Crowd: OOOOOOH! Quickly up to his feet, Buster reaches into his tights to retrieve his signature black marker! Throwing the cap into the crowd, he immediately strikes Dalidus in the left eye with a jab from the marker! Crowd: OOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHH! Nova falls to the mat, clutching at his face! Buster returns to the official, trying to get him back into the match, when he is struck from behind by a sudden forearm blow, courtesy of Miles Alpha! Crowd: BOOOOOOOOOOOO!! Woodbridge: The third man! Miles, getting himself involved once more! Buster falls to his knees as Miles pulls him away from the ref, before swiftly bringing him up in a Fireman’s Carry and driving his boot into Buster’s skull with a Benadryller! Paisner: Alpha with the Defeater to Buster! *Woodbridge: He’s out cold, without a doubt! Looking behind him to spot the official slowly coming to, Miles rolls Buster onto his back and pulls the blinded Dalidus on top of him, before slipping out of the ring and hiding from the officials view as he begins to slowly make the count! 1…! 2…! 3…! DING DING DING! Paisner: Absolute bullshit! Javier: The winner of this bout via pinfall, at a time of 7:02: DALIDUS! NOVA! The Kids are Back hits the speakers, as Miles comes back into the ring to assist Dalidus out of it, a shit-eating grin plastered on his face. Woodbridge: In what was looking like quite the match, Dalidus steals one from Buster with the help from Miles Alpha! Paisner: It’s bullshit, Mark. Complete bullshit. The two walk through the curtain as the camera cuts away. Mark Dutch is walking around the backstage area. He comes across Tony the Milkman, seeming to take a breather from the chaos of the kitchen, wiping off a milk mustache. Dutch: Milkman! Tell me everything you know about the attack of Louis Blackwater! The Milkman looks confused. Tony: I don’t have any information for you, unfortunately. I do have a wonderful lemon cake! Would you like a piece? Dutch takes a good look at the lemon cake Tony is offering, but he shakes his head. Dutch: No, I cannot be distracted. I have responsibility! Tony: Your loss! As Mark Dutch continues to walk around, he peeks into a room and sees Big Money Maverick on the phone talking to someone. Dutch begins to speak to himself. Dutch: Mav….maybe it was him…. Big Money Maverick: So yeah, if you're interested in doing business, let's talk about financials… As Mav talks on the phone, and Dutch watches from outside the room, Dutch is suddenly approached by a backstage crew worker holding a bag of cheetos. Crew Worker: Looking for the guy who attacked Blackwater? I don't think it was Mav. Dutch: Why do you say that? Crew Worker: He's been in this room making phone calls for hours, I should know… The crew member swings the door open, cracking it behind him so the camera and Dutch can still see inside. We see the crew worker hand the bag of Cheetos to Mav, and Mav sets the bag on a table next to him, alongside many other drinks and snacks that Mav presumably forced the worker to get for him. Dutch: Hmm...maybe not...but…...I don't know…. Dutch walks away from the room, and immediately is face to face with Stephen Romero, who’s holding an athletic jump rope in his hands and sweat covers his tank top. Romero. Heard you were looking for who snuck up on Blackwater. Dutch: Yeah. By the way, thanks for going after Balandran for my hotdog. Romero looks back at Dutch, scratching the side of his head with a confused look. Romero: Oh yeah. Uhm. No problem, I guess. Look, we two have been in the business for a while. Dutch: True. Romero: Yeah, and I noticed a trend which might work. Dutch’s eyes are wide open as he looks back at Romero. Romero: Usually, if you go to the ring and call out who did it.. they often show up and take responsibility. That or someone else shows up who wants to fight. It’s a 50/50 chance. Dutch: Now that you say it, yeah.. you’re right. Thanks, Stephen. Mark Dutch pats Romero’s shoulder before he looks at his now sweat covered hand. Immediately, Dutch wipes his hand off on Romero before he quickly walks away. Romero looks down at the sweaty handprint before letting out a sigh. The camera returns to the kitchen, where we see Milkman back in after his break, and his crust has been pulled out and he’s pouring in a filling into it. Baker is on Twitter instead of watching whatever he has put in the oven. Bakers oven start producing smoke, whole Tony’s produces an absolutely gorgeous looking loaf of pastry Baker: “Shit!” Baker runs over the oven and opens it, quickly pulling the cookies out without wearing any form of hand protection We open our next scene, as we see Stephen Romero backstage once again, clad in his wrestling gear and changed into a cleaner, and very small black tank top. So small the tank top is dangerously close to slipping inward a bit and potentially revealing his nipples. With this phone on hand, as he starts an instagram live stream from his phone, quickly getting up to around 14 unique viewers. As he begins to speak. Romero: Hello world! I’d just thought i’d give a bit of insight into how I go about preparing for whatever I need to do when i’m at a show! The first thing to bring, always, always have this- Romero opens one of his bags layed in his locker, inside revealing many bottles of water. Romero: Stay hydrated, constantly! And you can stay hydrated with….uh….actually I don’t have any sponsors for this yet……..use tap water if it’s safe where you live, get some re-usable bottles if you can! I think when it comes to price points it’s not something you’d regret if you splurged on, but not something you need to splurge on either. I might even recommend not splurging, because with some extra money, you can become a patron for 1 cent a month! We are already at fifty-three patrons, and you can get in on the new hotness, and access to exclusive content! Now, to show y’all some more- Romero grabs a significantly sized lunch box, as it seems to contain generous servings that make up a large rice bowl. First ingredient is obviously a lot of rice, with sliced pork, green onion, cilantro, mushroom, carrot, and avocado all being found in significant portions. Romero: Being as large as I am and working in such a physically draining industry, the portions that I need to function would incapactiate a normal human being. Whether I am exaggerating or not is up to your own interpretation. And now, some may wonder how I get mentally prepared for a match? It heavily depends, for ippv matches where there’s more on the line, I tend to psych myself up with intense music, let out energy through running in place, my ippv matches are more about being intense. With lower stakes matches or House Party matches, I tend to moreso leave my training at the gym, I just try to show up in as good and happy of a mood as I can. Easier said than done of course, but with things such as forming alliances recently, I always have some others to lift me up. I think specialist and Rizwan are in the break room, lets go visit them actually! Romero then walks out of the locker room and into the hallways, and as he just enters the hallways, he bumps into someone right in front of his whole stream! gayboygayboygayboygayboygayboygayboygayboygayboy: omg king u okay??!!??!! MarioFantatic37: Nooooooooo don’t get hurt from an unexpected collision your so sexy haha After a moment of surprise, we see the person Romero collided with as he exited the locker room, GiGi, who now sees that Romero bumped into her, and gains a fury in her eyes. GiGi: Hey! You! The audacatity to have said the things you have and now this?! Do you want to know the consequences! Well i’ll show you them! GiGi then whips out her phone herself, a look of anger on her face throughout the process of doing this, as she starts up an instagram live stream of her own…….and instantly changes to a fake wide smile as she starts the stream up, hundreds upon hundreds of viewers quickly pouring in. She glances up at Romero with now a smug smile at the sheer numerical differences in their streams, as she begins to talk to her fans. GiGi: Hello GiGi Gang! Welcome to an impromptu stream, brought on by more severe aggression against me! And guess who’s the person behind it! GiGi dramatically swings her phone to reveal Romero in the shot, who’s holding up his phone for his stream as well, as GiGi’s chat goes- Chad68: BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Feet?: BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! LocalLesbian: BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Jouster06: HOW DARE YOU HURT HER YOU MONSTER! I’LL BEAT YOU UP MYSELF! xxxsavannahgranger4523: Looking for hot singles in your area? Visit Datebeast.notavirus.com/132342435353324244het43422 for your hook up today! QuirkyGamer!!!: BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Upon realizing who they’re seeing, as GiGi continues to speak. GiGi: Once again I have been put in serious danger by Romero, by him as the much larger person trying to bulldoze over me and hurt me in the process! Romero: I...literally just accidentally bumped into you. GiGi: You’re lying! I can’t trust a word you say after your threats towards my livelihood, and now my physical well-being! You know what, this calls for retaliation, Kaitlyn, you’re strong, get him! As GiGi commands this though, we don’t see anything happen, GiGi, confused as to why Kaitlyn is not doing something for her, turns around, and sees that Kaitlyn has mostly fainted due to the sheer scale of her infatuation with GiGi. Connected to GiGi only by holding on to her foot, where many in chat upon seeing this foot holding simply comment “God I wish that was me”. Romero: Well, considering the state of Kaitlyn, i’m not sure she’s up for much of a fight in this moment. So unless you are, I think we’ll need another method to settle this, through what has been my goal, a stream battle! Where I handle mine with honesty and openness! GiGi: Is that all? Easy! You’re on! Kait! Come with! GiGi then begins to walk away, but is very noticeably slowed by the mostly dead weight of the head over heels Kaitlyn clinging onto her. Due to this GiGi is not able to make nearly as smooth an exit from the scene as she was hoping, but tries to make the best of it by highlighting the struggle she’s going through due to this, pointing the camera down in the process, showing her pastel colored shoes, as we see several “POGGERS” and excited proclamations of “FEET!” in her chat at this. Romero meanwhile heads his own way, as we see support from the members of his chat- gayboygayboygayboygayboygayboygayboygayboygayboy: Romeo, u r fuckin sick ur gonna do it BasedAndGaypilled: STEPHEN ROMERO KREYGASM Thats_So_Shibe: Bro no homo but I would like to have anal intercourse with you Romero makes his way quickly over to a break room, where we see Rizwan and Specialist chatting over a cup of tea for Rizwan, and several cups of coffee for each member of Specialist, as Romero mutters to himself for a moment- Romero: Fuck what do people like...spinning, they like spinning right? HEY RONDEL! Rondel then stands up, he and Romero making intense eye contact. Romero: DO ONE OF THEM COOL SPINS! Rondel then jumps on top of the table, Rizwan able to save his tea, but all of Specialist’s coffee gets spilled. Rondel then not only spins, he balances on one leg to do the spin, mixing in several hops into the spin to add even more onto it, before finishing the spin, and stepping off the table. He then offers to replace everyone’s spilled coffee, as he goes to get more, but not before he and Romero both communicate to each other with a thumbs up. As the chat that has now grown to 25 unique views POPS OFF We then cut back to GiGi, where we see on her stream her attempts to geti Kaitlyn functioning again. We see GiGi more gently poking her, shaking Kaitlyn, throwing a glass of water on her face, all to no avail! Before she finally switches up the strategy, and slaps Kaitlyn across the face, this action finally making her functionable again, as a wide smile forms on her face, as she springs to her feet. This once again drawing many “damn I wish that was me’s” from the chat. As GiGi then speaks to Kait- GiGi: So, you’ve been allied with Romero before right? Knowing him from that, and knowing him now from his evil actions, what do you think he could be doing right this moment? Kaitlyn: Uhm, he could be showing off his wardrobe right now? Yours is just, so much more expansive and prettier than his, I think you can easily take away the few viewers he has by showing off your- GiGi: Not bad...but I think I got an idea better. We then cut back to Romero again, where he’s showing off more of his wardrobe, where he is currently clad in a maroon red beret, glasses straight from a sexy secretary halloween costume, a white/maroon striped shirt tucked into tight fit jeans, and a leather jacket over it all. Romero hits several poses in this outfit, but as he’s focusing on himself in the mirror and showing off the outfit and his figure in it to the audience in his chat, we see GiGi and Kaitlyn sneak up in the background. Keeping a low profile, but enough to be noticeable in the lower frames of Romero’s stream, and obviously visible on GiGi’s stream as we switch to her view of her slowly crawling her way towards Romero’s set up. Where we see his set up is organized into different pieces, the tops/bottoms/jackets/hats/accessories all put into different sections. We see GiGi and Kaitlyn coordinate to take one thing of each from all of those while Romero is focused entirely on his posing. Then they go to make their escape and with wonderful timing, because as they start, Romero for the first time fully turns around to show off the outfit from behind! GiGi and Kaitlyn barely dodging out the way with all the stolen clothes. As we then hear Romero say- Romero: Alright, I hope that was enough for all of you! Now, onto the next outfit… Romero then goes through each his sections, making most of his next outfit….but cannot find the hat for it! Romero: Yo what the fuck…..you know what, i’ll skip that one, next outfit! Romero then goes through his next outfit…..but finds that he is now missing the jacket that goes with it! Romero: HUH?! Again?!! Well uhhh….third time’s the charm I guess! Romero then looks through his next outfit…..but cannot find the top to it! Romero: WHAT THE FUCK?! Hold up, somethings going on here…. Romero then goes to grab his phone, and check insta live chat, where they are spamming “GIGI STOLE YOUR CLOTHES” in the chat, as an anger then manifests in Romero’s face. Romero: She took my clothes?!........I’ve gotta do something about this man.. We then cut to GiGi and Kaitlyn still streaming, where we now see GiGi attempting a try on an article of clothing she stole from Romero, a denim jacket…..emphasis on *try, as we see that the jacket looks less like a normal jacket, looks less like an oversized jacket, but more like a straight up blanket on GiGi, nearly completely covering her all on it’s own.* GiGi: What do you say Kait? I think these are so big on me they could really work as a unique shoot, maybe make it available for patrons donating $750 and up, or you could take them for yourself if you want, they’d still be quite large on you but not to the point where you could make your bed with it. Kaitlyn: Oh, um, no, no thank you, I think i’d like to see more you wearing some of his stuff.. GiGi: Ooohhhh, well I know I already have one patron on board, say, how exactly would you enjoy seeing me wear it? Kaitlyn: Well...uh….maybe with, nothing….uhhh GiGi: Nothing what? Kaitlyn:Uh…..umm…......nevermind… GiGi: Alright, just if you ever do want some of this stuff let me know, you gotta take advantage of your top patron exclusive reward of receiving one individual piece of clothing from me! As GiGi says this, we then hear the door into where they are get kicked down, as through the rubble, emerges Stephen Romero, Kaitlyn looks defensive and ready to scrap, as GiGi initially panics. Romero: Hey! All that is my damn clothes! In her panic, GiGi grabs the oversized denim jacket, and tosses it at Romero’s face as a distraction! Before GiGi bails out the room before anything can escalate! Kaitlyn still looks primed to defend, but GiGi forcefully grabs her anyway, pulling her away from the scene all the same.As Romero the takes his denim jaket he got thrown back in, he smiles that it still fits, and puts in on, striking a pose to his crowd in his chat. Romero: Well…..I lost several hundreds of dollars and cool pieces of clothing because of that……...but at least this denim jacket is still sick though! Romero then strikes more poses for the fans, as we gradually fade out on the scene. We come back to the ring, where we see Javier standing in the middle of the ring, ready to announce. Javier: The following is a tag team match, set for one fall, with a 30 minute time limit! Introducing first- The Fall III by Doping Hornets comes through the speakers, as we see Mercenaire and Marshall Wheeler both come out from behind the curtain. Both disregarding the audience, as they stride to the ring with confidence. Javier: From Houston, Texas, and A Dark, Dark Place respectively, weighing in at a combined 480 pounds, Marshall Wheeler, Mercenaire, Coup d’Etat! Crowd: BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Woodbridge: Being announced from Houston and A Dark Place as separate things? Ain’t those the same thing? Paisner: Mark! Woodbridge: Sorry, had to take the opportunity when I had it. Digressing from that, we’ve got one hell of a tag match coming up! As we got two men who are talented and angry, one hell of a deadly combination if i’ve ever seen it. Feeling overlooked, they have a chance to channel that anger into their biggest tag challenge yet in SPECIALIST. They’ve proven they can take care of those they should absolutely beat, now lets see how they fare against those where it’s more of a 50/50. Wheeler and Mercenaire continue to stoically march their way down to the ring, paying to mind to the jeers tossed their way, as they both reach the ring apron, and step through the ropes in sync with one another, before the two take a spot at the end of the ring, looking out to the entranceway, awaiting their opponents. The Anomoly by Scar Symmetry blasts heavy riffs throughout the venue, as we see Presagio Del Fin and Nelson Butterfly out on the entranceway. Clinging onto one another, a look of determination on their face. Javier: And introducing next, from Parts Unknown, weighing in at a combined 437 pounds, Presagio Del Fin, Nelson Butterfly, S.P.E.C.I.A.L.I.S.T.! Crowd: YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYY! Paisner: Now, two very strange men coming down to the ring, the traditional pair of SPECIALIST representing it tonight, and despite their unorthodox in-ring methods, there’s very few others who have as much chemistry and knowledge of each other inside and out as SPECIALIST do. And that unorthodox style? Might be exploitable, but if you don’t know that exploit, you get torn apart by it. And inexperienced wrestlers like Mercenaire and Wheeler may be prime for not knowing, this could be a huge win for SPECIALIST here tonight! Butterfly and Presagio make their way down to the ring with their arms linked together, interacting with the fans, handing out hand slaps as they walk down the entranceway. They begin to practice their respective underhooks and pins to make sure they’re warmed up, before finishing their way to the ring, as they step into it. We see both Coup d’Etat and SPECIALIST talk amongst one another, as we see Mercenaire and Presagio step onto the aprons. While Wheeler and Nelson stay in the ring, Undersach signaling to see if they’re all ready, and getting nods from everyone, rings the bell! DING DING DING As the match starts, Wheeler and Nelson slowly approach each other, they lock up, as Wheeler then goes to slip behind Nelson right after! Grabbing Nelson’s head, pulling it back, and driving a european uppercut into the back of Nelson’s head! Nelson holding at the back of his head, before Wheeler shoots a forearm shot into the back of Nelson’s head! Sending Nelson stumbling forward, as Wheeler then runs the ropes, and comes back to attempt an enzu lariat to the back of Nelson’s head, but Nelson drops down! Fitting in between Wheeler’s legs, as Wheeler stops himself after a moment, and turns around to Nelson who had gotten back to his feet, who grabs Wheeler in a double underhook! Wheeler tries to struggle out, but Nelson lifts his knee up into Wheeler’s face! Doing it multiple times until he has Wheeler sufficiently harmed, where upon which, Nelson tosses Wheeler back across the ring with a butterfly suplex! Wheeler landing hard on his back, gritting his teeth in pain! Crowd: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Paisner: Wheeler trying to quickly strike Nelson down, but Nelson dropping down, then quickly into offense through his patented double underhook! Wheeler then begins to push himself up, sitting up, then getting onto his hands and knees to try and make his way to his feet, but Nelson swoops in quickly, nails an elbow to the top of Wheeler’s head, and hooks Wheeler’s arms to bring Wheeler up on his own terms. Nelson takes Wheeler over to his tag corner, shooting a look at Presagio to cue him to tag himself in. Presagio sets himself up near Nelson, as Nelson tosses Wheeler up into the air with the set up for a double underhook powerbomb, but instead of following through with it himself, Presagio instead comes in as the one to catch and add his own force to slam Wheeler down to the mat with the assisted tiger bomb! Presagio sitting down with it! Crowd: OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Paisner: Nelson combining well his double underhook and tag team mastery! And of course Presagio keeps the sit-out for a pin! 1! No! Kickout from Wheeler! Wheeler kicks out with a bit of force, rolling onto his stomach as he does, as Presagio gets up, sizes up Wheeler as Wheeler begins to push himself to his feet, and runs towards the ropes! Jumping onto and bouncing up off of them as he reaches them, and launching himself back at the now to his feet Wheeler with a springboard hurricanrana! Keeping it for the rana pin! Crowd: WOOOOOOOOOOO! 1! 2! No! Kickout right at 2 from Wheeler! The force from Wheeler’s kickout pushes Presagio off of Wheeler, Presagio flung outwards as the two have their backs to one another. Both of them attempt to rise to their feet, but Presagio as the healthier man is a good deal faster, and with that, hooks Wheeler from behind him, gets back-to-back to him, and goes down into a backslide pin on Wheeler! 1! 2! No! Kickout from Wheeler again! As we get another kickout from Wheeler, both men go to scramble to their feet, and as Wheeler rises, Presagio responds with a knee to the gut to double him over, and keep him in place! Following up by going to the ropes, and jumping off for another springboard! This time going for a springboard crossbody, as he connects with Wheeler! But suddenly, Wheeler rolls through the momentum of the crossbody! Coming out of it with Presagio in his grasp, holding Presagio in front of him! Wheeler then lifts Presagio, and goes to toss Presagio over his head, but Presagio shifts his momentum in mid-air and lands on his feet! Crowd: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH! Paisner: Presagio nearly reversed, but he finds his own way of escape! Directly countering the counter! And as Presagio lands on his feet, he grabs Wheeler from behind and goes to roll him back into an o’connor roll!.....but Wheeler once again moves his own momentum through! Going into his own o’connor roll!....but he still does not stop! Continuing to follow through by going to lift Presagio up in a rolling german suplex! Lifting Presagio up halfway, but Presagio desperately struggles! Kicking his feet and swinging his arms, until he lands enough wild strikes to force Wheeler to let him go! Wheeler backs off a bit, as Presagio takes a moment to catch his breath and recover, before beginning to run towards the ropes!.......but not before Wheeler recovers himself, and comes forward to spin around, and connect with a spinning back elbow to the back of Presagio’s head! The impact and suddenness of the strike knocking Presagio flat to the mat! Crowd: OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Paisner: BY GOD! THE SPINNING ELBOW TO THE BACK OF THE CRANIUM! COMPLETELY DEVASTATING PRESAGIO! Presagio is completely laid out, as Wheeler bends his knees for a moment in order to catch himself, before grabbing the limp body of Presagio, and dragging it over to his tag corner, where upon which he lifts Presagio’s body and tosses it into said corner, and tags in Mercenaire. Wheeler then lifts his leg up high, and presses it up against Presagio’s neck to both keep him in place and choke him out! Crowd: BOOOOOOOOO! As he does this, Mercenaire enters the ring, and backs up to about the center of the ring, before rushing towards the corner, and just as Wheeler releases his foot choke and moves out the way, Mercenaire connects with a big boot in the corner to the head of Presagio! Knocking him back down limp to the mat! Crowd: OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Presagio is completely out on the mat, as Merc stands over him, leans down to grab him, then tosses him right back in the corner where he begins to lay in body punches to the stomach of Presagio! Doubling Presagio over in the corner, as Merc then lays in pointed elbows to the back of Presagio’s neck! Raining down elbow after elbow on Presagio, forcing him lower and lower down in the corner, until he’s dropped to a seated position. Upon which Merc just puts his boot on Presagio’s face, and rubs it in! Crowd: BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Woodbridge: Mercenaire just absolutely relentless right now! No mercy nor respect given! Undersach begins to count off Mercenaire, and gets all the way to the 4 count before Merc removes his boot and finally relents! Crowd: BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
2018 report 2017 report Despite the solid number, this was a bit of a mixed year. Free/nominal fees for subscription services meant I spent a fair bit of time on games which were not on my backlog (albeit most were on my wishlist, so I can treat them as a preemptive elimination!). I also had a few timesinks which I regularly went back to as I found many new games to be unsatisfying.
1) The Outer Worlds 2) State of Decay 2 3) Warhammer 40,000 – Space Wolf 4) Purrfect Date 5) Tom Clancy’s The Division
Thoughts on each game
The Lion’s Song Quite an interesting little game. It manages to link stories about music, painting, mathematics and war in a clever and engrossing way. The choices are genuinely impactful and make for tough decisions at times. AER: Memories of Old A short game, but quite relaxing and pretty – especially in the flight sections. I had no interest in the story, but the relatively gentle puzzles and enjoyable flights made it worthwhile. Mad Max Much like Mafia III, this is a 10-hour game elongated into a 30+ hour game by copy-pasting tasks. While in theory most tasks are optional, the slow progress and gating of upgrades essentially requires completion of much of them. This becomes a grind, and the gameplay isn’t quite enough to keep it interesting. Quantum Break A mediocre story and a mediocre shooter, yet somehow more than the sum of its parts. Maybe I’m just nostalgic for the days of FMV integration in games, but this wound up being quite entertaining. Hitman – season 1 My first and only other Hitman game is Absolution, which apparently was a departure for the series. That leaves me in the position of finding this return to normality for the series as rather jarring. I prefer the linear and tighter nature of Absolution – since I don’t care enough to go back and complete them in different ways, it felt like a bit of a thin and shallow experience with a threadbare story. Grim Fandango Remastered I’m dreadful at P&C puzzle games, and quickly realised I wasn’t going to get far without a guide. As such, I cheated my way through most of it and just played it for the writing. Thankfully, the writing is so good that it was still fun. I wasn’t keen on Full Throttle, which I played last year, but this was amusing throughout. The Deadly Tower of Monsters A fun concept – a B-movie spoof – combined with surprisingly forgiving platforming mechanics. I’m not a fan of platformers generally, but the frustration-alleviating features and general sense of humour in the game made for a good experience. Overfall Solid roguelike tactical combat, marred by some sloppy writing [I don’t think English is the first language of the writers, but at least a spell-check would have helped], a wonky interface [pertinent information like resistances is obscured] and a strangely harsh unlock system. Not a bad game by any means, but could have been better with a bit more care. Rock of Ages 2 Bizarre concept, even more bizarre writing, but entertainingly so. It’s surprisingly good-looking and quite fun, but five hours was quite enough for me. Battlefield 1 I haven’t played a Battlefield game since Vietnam, so this took a bit of adjusting. The campaign is very well presented and offers a nice bit of variety, but it’s over so fast. I had no interest in multiplayer, so this made for a brief, if fun, experience. Soul Gambler A very brief visual novel, but at least it had distinct story paths. The writing was decent, if a bit awkward. My main gripe was that you had to individually click through each line on subsequent playthroughs, which is something many visual novels these days manage to avoid. Stikbold A rather strange dodgeball game. I didn’t find the strangeness nearly as amusing as Rock of Ages 2, but it was a moderately entertaining experience with a bit of variety through the different settings and objectives. Cultist Simulator I’m a bit mixed on this. On one hand, it had a surprising amount of content and complexity to it. On the other, it drastically inflated the complexity by veiling basic gameplay aspects. That could mean a lot of wasted time – or worse, inadvertently wrecking a multi-hour playthrough - because it wasn’t clear what you should be doing next. Walkthroughs and guides were essential. While there’s merit to a game which rewards experimentation and discovery of mechanics, there is a point at which it’s just too obtuse, and at times the game did go a bit too far in that respect. Ziggurat A quite clever blend of roguelike and FPS. I’m not much of a fan of the latter, but the gameplay was fun and the roguelike elements softened the blow of failure. Tyranny I disliked Pillars of Eternity and went into this with some trepidation. Fortunately, it was a more enjoyable and accessible experience. Where Pillars just threw a mindnumbing amount of lore at me, this offered a relatively comprehensible story doled out in appropriate chunks. While it did have some of Pillars’ mechanical issues, like poor pathfinding in combat, they did not seem nearly as bad (perhaps due to the smaller scale of battles). The base management stuff seemed tacked on, confusing and wholly unnecessary. It was far from my favourite RPG, but solid enough – and didn’t overstay its welcome. Orwell: Ignorance is Strength I enjoyed the first Orwell game and initially found this a similarly good experience. The few changes were worthwhile ones, and the story seemed to be building up well. Then it suddenly ended. Surely I done something wrong and met an early endgame? Nope, that was it – a mere few hours of gameplay, with an ending so abrupt that I had no idea it was one until the credits rolled. There are different endings, requiring additional playthroughs, but after that disappointment I wasn’t interested in going back to it. Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure This was my first game in the series, and I found it enjoyable. I only had to cheat a few times (which is remarkably good by my standards!) and the cheesiness of it was all rather endearing. The sequel is now on my wishlist (though it seems to be a fair way off). Train Valley A decent puzzle/strategy game, which quickly escalates from rather placid to chaotic. The simple concept still requires a fair bit of thought to succeed, and while I bumbled through somewhat, it was fun. Rakuen Beautiful. One of my favourite games, evoking the spirit of To the Moon by dealing with weighty topics in a whimsical manner. Wonderful soundtrack and great design. Dangerous Golf I enjoyed this more than I’d expected. It’s all a bit messy, as one would expect from a heavily physics-based game, and almost throws in too many variations, but it is fairly satisfying. In some levels it’s all too easy to get a platinum medal through sheer luck, but in other levels it takes a fair bit of skill and thought to get a good score, which is rather more satisfying. Mutant Year Zero This was frustrating. It has the ingredients for a solid game – great presentation, imaginative world, decent writing and voice acting and the core of a solid tactics game. The problem is that it is structured essentially like a puzzle game. The odds are so intensely stacked against you in a group battle that you must pick off enemies one by one. This makes for a slow and tedious process, especially when combined with the impact of RNG and the unsatisfying ending. Dishonoured 2 I felt a little let down by this. Presentation was good, story was fine, but the powers were mostly unengaging and the combat was frustrating. The combat issues were partly my fault in that I tried a non-lethal run, but while there were a few more non-lethal options, I would have loved an option to just punch someone in the face rather than having to stand around waiting to parry in order to launch a non-lethal attack. Finding Paradise This had a lot to live up to – To the Moon and A Bird Story are among my favourite games – but once again Kan Gao delivered. Touching, funny, surprising and engrossing. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – GotY Edition I went into this with a bit of trepidation, having strongly disliked the first two games in the series. While I am a big fan of the books, the gameplay never clicked with me. This was an improvement to some degree, but I still found the combat in particular frustrating and relatively shallow. I wound up just playing it as a story, and it delivered in that respect – even many of the side quests were more memorable than the main storylines of a lot of other RPGs I’ve played. While I certainly won’t be joining the “Praise Geraldo” crew, I at least had a better experience than I did with the other games in the series. SteamWorld Dig 2 I loved the first game. This was certainly enjoyable but did not reach quite the same heights; perhaps through lack of ambition if nothing else. Solid enough, but lacking the impact of its predecessor. Batman: Arkham Knight This felt like the weakest of the three main Arkham games (I didn’t like Origins much at all, but that is somewhat separate). The combat, setting and presentation were all as interesting as ever, and the story got genuinely interesting towards the end, but the damned car seemed to drag down everything it was involved in. From puzzles to battles, it always felt a bit wonky to me – a particularly sharp contrast to the famously smooth and refined movement and combat the series is known for. Unlike Asylum and City, I didn’t complete the Riddler challenges. This was primarily due to the car, which I was thoroughly sick of by the end. Perhaps I was rendered a bit grumpier than usual by that, but I also found the Rocksteady tendency to lead the player by the nose at some points, and then leave things utterly oblique at other times, to be particularly grating. West of Loathing Genuinely funny at times, and I loved the art style, but it did drag on a little. The Flame in the Flood Quite an atmospheric and appealing game. The presentation is gorgeous, albeit marred by irritating pop-in even on a GTX 1080. The gameplay is pretty easy to pick up, and while it can be frustrating in the way that a survival game with randomisation inevitably can be (and why the hell can’t I boil water to remove the bugs?!), the checkpoint system is generous enough to ameliorate this. Monster Prom I am not usually one for VNs, but this is great. Entertaining characters, often hilarious (and oh so wrong) writing and easy enough to play through in 15 minutes (it says the short game is 30 minutes, but it doesn't take me anywhere near that). There is plenty of content, some of which is unlockable, meaning there is substantial replayability. Yakuza 0 The first in the series for me, and quite enjoyable. It was funny at times, though the main plot did cause me to drift off towards the end – I wound up doing crosswords during some of the interminable cutscenes. The combat got a bit repetitive, but it was easy enough to get the hang of. I didn’t enjoy it enough to get stuck into the numerous side activities, but the main game was decent enough. Dominique Pamplemousse This is a curious game. It is brief (barely an hour long) and linear. The puzzles are simple. Much of the dialogue is sung, for no apparent reason - and not particularly well. The art style has been described as "claymation noire"; there's little er..."mation", and it all looks a bit muddy. Writing is fine. I chuckled at a few bits, but it's hardly memorable.For all that, I quite liked it. It's original and there's heart to it. In a sea of lazy asset flips, generic AAA games with no respect for your time and visionless projects, here's an example of people actually daring to have a go with a unique vision. South Park: The Fractured But Whole Not nearly as well-written as its predecessor, but with significantly better combat. The badge progression system was clumsy, and at one point I was left with a stack of grinding to do. Generally a solid experience, though. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice Wonderful presentation, with some of the best voice acting I’ve heard in games. The gameplay itself was decent. Combat was a little too simple, and puzzles could be frustrating at times, but it’s really all about the experience. Pizza Express I feel a little silly having spent a lot of money on a gaming rig when I use it to play stuff that looks like something out of the early ‘90s. Nonetheless, this was good fun – amusing story, addictive gameplay and a surprising amount of content. Yoku’s Island Express Cutely presented and an interesting concept. It can be infuriating at times, requiring a degree of precision which is perhaps best not associated with pinball, and getting around can be a bit confusing. Overall, though, it’s quite fun. The Darkside Detective A pretty simple point & click adventure (aside from one strangely hard instalment), broken into small episodes to make it easy to get through a portion at a time. Nothing exceptional, but a decent way to spend a few hours. Tales of Berseria A surprisingly engrossing tale. It's frequently funny and features likeable characters. The voice acting is excellent - it's a tour de force for Cristina Valenzuela in particular. That helps mitigate a convoluted combat system. It was still throwing tutorials at me after 15 hours; I wound up ignoring them and button mashing, which seemed to work fine on Normal difficulty anyway. Performance is rock solid. Smooth FPS, fast loading and limited pop-in. I have never played a Tales game before, and may not play another one, but it doesn't take a love for the series to enjoy this game. Perhaps the group best warned to stay away are achievement hunters - some of them seem to take a heck of a lot of work. The Outer Worlds Disappointing. The simplistic combat not only makes that portion of the game dull, but also weakens the RPG aspects since you can pour all your upgrade points into speech skills, making those challenges a breeze. The writing is one-note (everyone is quirky, snarky or both), the choices are binary and rarely provoke thought (indeed, the hardest choice was one of the very first) and the characters aren't particularly interesting - nor are they given much chance to be in their shallow quests. It also performed poorly on a decent rig - though that's to be expected from Obsidian. Agents of Mayhem It's...not that bad. Sure, it's flawed - repetitive quests, buggy at times and nowhere near the level of Saints Row's writing - but it has an enjoyably distinct set of characters (sadly enough, the character missions were more interesting than those of Outer Worlds) and the combat is enjoyably free-flowing. PixelJunk Nom Nom Galaxy I liked the idea of discovering ingredients and turning them into various products, but it quickly became centred around ever more complex process designs which were of no interest to me. Action Henk A fun runner; gorgeously presented. I sucked at it though! Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse Presented in an enjoyably light-hearted manner, but it felt like it was dragging on even after four hours. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Ultimate Edition I was quite excited to play this, since it featured three of my favourite actors – Patrick Stewart, Robert Carlyle and Jason Isaacs. That’s the only reason I managed to last five hours. I hated pretty much everything about it; the shoddy fixed camera, the tedious fighting, the cringeworthy writing… The sad thing is that I bought another two games in the series. Sheltered A solid little survival management game. I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as Zafehouse Diaries or Dead State, mainly because the RNG was a bit too impactful. It’s far too common for a game to simply be unwinnable due to a lack of rain and/or the distribution of resources in nearby locations. When things are fairer (or the difficulty is lowered) it becomes quite a grind – with no real winning condition and little in the way of variety (there are a few shallow quests of minimal value or interest) tedium ensues. Civilization VI Quite liked the new mechanics and enjoyed playing as Australia (though Walzing Matilda is so distinctive that it gets a bit grating). Having spent many hours in its predecessors though, there was nothing particularly groundbreaking which compelled me to play more than a few games. Porno Studio Tycoon I’ll give pretty much any management game a go! Unfortunately, things weren’t particularly well explained and while there seemed to be a bit of depth, a lot of it was blocked off (to add to the confusion, the tutorial focused on mechanics which were blocked off for much of the early game). Aarklash: Legacy I normally like tactical games, but this was just too unforgiving and there was no ability to grind to reduce the difficulty. Intergalactic Bubbles It’s basically Bubble Bobble, which is fine. It’s quite nicely presented. The problem is that each level is meant to be completed in a certain number of moves, but since the bubble colours are randomly generated, it’s mostly down to luck – you might be able to wipe out half the bubbles on your first move, or might struggle to get any matches at all. Tom Clancy’s The Division I got fairly close to the end of this game but was just so fed up with it that I couldn’t push myself to get through it. The story was forgettable, the shooting mechanics were mediocre, all the extraneous gameplay elements were just an annoyance and I felt the game was balanced against me as a solo player (only twice did I find a co-op partner, and both of them screamed in Korean throughout). It looked impressive, at least. Kingdom: New Lands Edition I really thought I’d like this game, and had it on my wishlist from release. I love management games, and have no issue with passive management. It also looked gorgeous; this is one of the best-looking pixel-art games I’ve played. Unfortunately, it did not click at all. The AI was not bright, which is inevitably a source of a lot of frustration in a passive management game. Further, the gameplay was just dull. I felt like I was running back and forth endlessly for little reward – pretty though it may have been, I found myself wishing for a button to speed up time. The positive reviews suggest it is a relaxing and chill game – I just found myself frustrated with the AI and bored by the gameplay. Halcyon 6: Lightspeed Edition For some reason I thought this was more of a starbase management sim rather than a tactical space battle sim. The starbase elements are there, but they are pretty thin. Most of the game is about the tactical space battles, which were interesting and varied enough early on, but after nine hours and no end in sight I was sick of them. FIFA 18 I haven’t played a FIFA game since ’98, so it was interesting to give this a go. The story mode was okay – quite well presented, but the player rating system was infuriating at times (the out-of-position penalties in particular). I did find that there was a huge gap in the difficulty settings – one was ludicrously easy (insultingly so; the AI kept missing from close range), but the next was a bit too steep for someone essentially new to the series. An option between the two would have been nice, or at least an easier difficulty which at least tried to mask how easy it was making things! I also tried management mode, but having been used to Football Manager’s detail I was not able to get into this. Seven: The Days Long Gone This was a frustrating experience. I really liked the concept of an isometric thief RPG, and did my best to give it a fair chance. It had its positive aspects; freedom of movement, decent voice acting and reasonable graphics. However, the freedom of movement also worked against it; confrontations with enemies often spiralled into circular chases suited to Benny Hill music and I lost count of the number of times I plunged to an untimely death through a misstep. Moreover, it didn’t really work to its premise. The game started with a tutorial centred around a stealthy heist, which seemed to be the central premise of the game. The next time I encountered a situation close to that was six hours later. Age of Wonders 3 I loved Shadow Magic many years ago but struggled to get into this. Maps seemed to take an inordinately long time to the point that armies were monstrously large and there was no research left. Maybe I was too defensive, but the AI was very passive. The Dweller A decent little puzzle game with minimal assets. Out of the Park Baseball 19 A slight improvement on its predecessor. The main addition was an online card-game mode, but I’m not sure that works well in a management game. My squad was rapidly full of high-end talent and I felt no real connection to the team. Niche: A Genetics Survival Game Nice concept, but a rather wobbly execution. The genetics aspect tended to be lost due to the fast paced and tough nature of the game; the focus was so much on just keeping any creature alive that genetics didn’t come into my thinking. Apparently the best strategy is to sit on the first island for ages and build up a tribe, but the tutorial didn’t make that clear at all. Royal Heroes A grindy and buggy mobile game. Endless Space 2 – Digital Deluxe Edition I thought I was falling out of love with the space 4X genre, having been very disappointed with the last few I placed – particularly Stellaris – but this hit the mark. The alien races are distinct, making for significantly different gameplay. The gameplay itself is always interesting; unlike Stellaris, it doesn’t hit a dead patch mid-game. I found the combat a little frustrating – seemingly even contests would often have completely one-sided results for no apparent reason – but aside from that it was a solid game. Monster Slayers An enjoyable little rogue-lite deck builder. While I normally prefer a bit more flexibility in deck building, tying cards to characters meant that each one had a distinctive feel which gave the game plenty of replayability. Dark Train This sounded interesting in concept, but was way too oblique for me. State of Decay 2 This seemed like the perfect game for me – I love survival management and settlement building. Unfortunately, it wound up feeling rather like a shallow MMO – trite dialogue, grindy tasks and no real sense of purpose or direction. I just found myself engaging in long, dull runs between locations, engaging in the same shoddy combat over and over again. The Banner Saga 3 I played the first two games in the series to completion and seem to recall enjoying them, but something about this did not click at all. I had zero interest in the story – the time between instalments has dulled my memory of it – and the gameplay just felt so flat. I’m not really sure what changed between playing the last two games and now, but I had no motivation to keep playing. Gremlins, Inc A reasonably enjoyable but forgettable board game. Warhammer 40,000 – Space Wolf This is a game plagued by odd design choices. It has turn-based combat (which I love), but it is deprived of so much of its strategy by the way it is designed. Enemies appear at arbitrary moments from arbitrary locations (including amid your troops) without warning or logic, meaning that success requires either a degree of fortune or grinding missions to know when and where enemies will appear. Perhaps this is to compensate for the weak AI, which is prone to boneheaded acts, but it just makes things irritating and dull. It also has a card collecting and deck building mechanic (again, which I love). The distribution of cards, however, is bizarre – completing tasks in missions (which can take 30+ minutes each) will give a couple of low-level cards. In contrast, activating one of numerous codes from the forums provides a pile of high-level cards. “Legendary” cards are so readily available in this form that a deck can be filled with them with a few minutes’ effort. There is a clumsy system for upgrading each card, none of which is explained in the shallow tutorial. There is also an upgrade path for your squadmates – again poorly explained – which is reliant on grinding missions. They don't use your custom decks, so while you're flooded with Elite and Legendary cards for the leader, you have to grind just to eke out a few more Uncommons for the rest of your squad. There's really nothing else to recommend the game. Graphics and sound are serviceable and the story is barely there. It just feels like yet another Warhammer game pushed out for the sake of it. Warhammer 40,000 – Dawn of War II Another disappointing Warhammer game. Again this had things I liked – a strategic layer with character progression, equippable loot, choice of missions and ebb and flow of the wider battle. However, I found this constrained by the limits placed on that strategy, with constant time pressure funnelling me into the key missions . I’m not sure how much that time pressure would have impacted on the outcome – would doing side missions result in overall failure – as it was never properly explained. Moreover, I found the RTS gameplay really quite dull and repetitive, such that I didn’t feel compelled to continue. Road Redemption Incredibly dumb – horrible dialogue, clumsy gameplay (trying to aim guns while riding was a nightmare) and buggy (the one round which I won was as a result of a bug which caused me to be invincible for most of it), but it did have some entertainment value. Moonlighter Having spent 125 hours in Recettear, it's fair to say I am very much open to the burgeoning shopkeeper-by-day/dungeon-crawler-by-night genre. Unfortunately, this fell flat. Even after a relatively short period it became a dull grind. Much of that is due to a distinct lack of charm; it looks nice in screenshots, but lacks any real character or presence in game. The absence of any decent writing is another problem; what there was of the story didn't interest me in the slightest. In contrast to a game like Recettear, filled with charm and heart, this was utterly bland. Add in the clumsy storage system, shallow shopkeeping, sluggish combat and irritatingly repetitive music, and seven hours was more than enough for me. Shelter Was rather surprised to dislike this. I found myself getting lost far too easily, which given that it was a very linear game meant a lot of frustration. The visual presentation was grating and confusing. Mainlining Moderately interesting hacking game, but too shallow, linear and not particularly well written. Reassembly Took a while for this to click, but once it did it was decent enough. I could have spent many hours playing this in the ‘90s, but it didn’t have enough of interest for me to do so now. 12 Labours of Hercules V: Kids of Hellas Cute enough, I suppose, but quickly became repetitive. Aaero A music-based shooter with poorly explained shooter mechanics and music which was very much not to my taste. One track really stood out as effectively blending the music and game mechanics, but that should have been the standard rather than the exception. Purrfect Date This game is presented as a cutesy, tongue-in-cheek game and for the most part it pulls that off pretty well. If that was the sum of it, I'd be reasonably satisfied. Instead, there is a dark, unpleasant story underneath, with numerous descriptions of animal abuse. It's utterly jarring - a game which is presented as being for cat lovers (not that kind of lover), yet featuring descriptions of them being victims of torture, experimentation and killing. The closest thing to a warning on the store page is a reference to "black humour", which doesn't cover it in my view. There is no humour in these scenes, so it’s not “black humour”. I don’t know what it is, other than a simply bizarre choice. Even putting aside the lack of warning, it's an unpleasant and jarring experience. I'm at a loss as to what on earth the devs were thinking. The writing is otherwise reasonably good. The structure of the game, however, is poor. It requires multiple playthroughs to get a proper ending, and there is no way to quickly skip the text. Prepare for RSI, clicking through page after page of dialogue, if you ever want to get to the ending. Suffice to say, going through this once is quite enough for me. Space Hulk Ascension I normally love turn-based combat, especially with RPG progression, but this was just dull and frustrating. Not having a good year with Warhammer games. Super Daryl Deluxe All very QUIRKY, and constantly at pains to remind you of how QUIRKY it is, without ever being particularly amusing. The art style is at least eyecatching, and some of the music is decent, but the writing didn’t grab me at all. The combat was a grindy battle of attrition – the only thing worse than “kill x monster” quests are “collect x items which randomly drop from only a small percentage of monsters after you kill them” quests. Add in the ever-frustrating boss fights where you had to win through repeating an unintuitive set of actions several times, and I didn’t feel like going much further. Think of the Children Nice idea, and it’s good to play a locally-made game, but it’s dreadfully designed for a single player. Although it can have up to three co-op partners, it doesn’t adjust the difficulty in the slightest to cater for a solo player rendering it near-impossible. Legend of Grimrock 2 Obtuse puzzles, clumsy combat and bland design made this quickly unappealing. FIFA 19 I mainly just played for the story mode, which was fine. Didn't notice much of a difference from 18. Out of the Park Baseball 20 No discernible improvement upon its predecessor. Oriental Empires Some nice ideas, but thoroughly dull. In six hours I was attacked three times by bandits and spent the rest of the time painstakingly building farms. Iratus: Lord of the Dead An enjoyable little strategy game. I will probably go back to it since it's in early access and is constantly being rebalanced. Into the Breach Moderately interesting strategy, but not enough to keep me coming back. There Came An Echo Iridium's previous game, Before the Echo (aka Sequence) was a flawed but enjoyable hidden gem. There Came an Echo has a similar level of charm, but two fundamental problems. The first is that it was simply unplayable on my PC. A black screen after loading; no way past it. Apparently it was due to an incompatibility with my microphone which is rather problematic when I don't HAVE a microphone. The second is that (having used my partner's computer to run it) ultimately it's a very raw proof of concept. Like its predecessor it has charm in the voice acting and writing, but unlike its predecessor it is just not a lot of fun to play. Put aside the gimmick of giving voice commands and you're left with a short, clumsy, shallow and frustrating experience. World of Mixed Martial Arts 5 As usual for the series (indeed, the dev in general), a stack of good ideas marred by fundamental flaws. Good as a hypnotic experience between other games. Star Trek Timelines I tried this briefly a few years ago and didn't get into it, but I certainly did this year. It's all pretty shallow, but as a fan-friendly timewaster it's decent enough. Football Manager Touch 2019 Endlessly infuriating, and a bit buggy, but always manages to draw me back in.
bones' word wall - "it's called word wall for a reason" edition
greetings, i'm bones, the aggro/midrange player of TESL and i have a few things i wanna talk about. They directly correspond to, like, practically every complaint i hear recently, especially in relation to gameplay. It's worth noting that some of these can't be blamed on our current developers, Sparkypants, because they come from darker times of neglected client, so don't go shopping for pitchforks for the amount of stuff that'll be covered in this post, but with that said, let's go through this stuff, one by one. I want to divide this post into 3 sections:
Client design (where i'll also put UI related nitpicks because there's a few of them)
Core mechanics design
i'll make the subsection names pretty bold so if you're interested in only one specific part feel free to scroll down to the section of your choice starting with
1. CLIENT DESIGN
I can't say anything objective about aesthetics - to each their own. Personally, the game looks much better now than it did in the old client. Loading times have been overall much shorter and that applies both to transitions between menus and switching pages in collection. Clickables on the board, while completely unnecesary, are a nice addition to the overall "feel" the game gives. The way cards look now in comparison to the old client are, again, a subjective matter, but I've grown to like them quite much, especially things like Premium Legendary Guards, they look stunning on the board. Long story short, the game LOOKS damn fine, at the very least for me. That includes the animations that cards have. However, the speed of these animations, not all of them - mostly ones that occur multiple times per turn, depending on the deck, like Fifth Legion TraineBruma Armorer buffs on creatures played in quick succession, Bruma ProfiteeNecromancer's Amulet in similar instances, Galyn/Ungolim/Therana shuffling cards to the deck, Relentless Raider dagger (in Wispraider), cost reduction animation (for abomination scout and leafwater OTKs), Piercing Twilight banish (control decks), even something as recent as multiple instances of Training Grounds - is abysmally slow, they make the whole game feel like it's covered in some gluey substance or, in case of the new playmat, that the action takes place underwater. I know that devs are aware of it, because it's been pointed at several (dozen) times already and in Patch 2.7 they have taken a step towards fixing it - namely buffs/heals happening for cards that summon multiple creatures occur at the same time. Baby step in what to us feels like an easy solution (just replicate what was happening on direwolf's client), however i can't discredit a step being taken. Some of the decks are practically unplayable on the ranked ladder because of the animation speed, like the old terror called Nix-ox Telvanni. Figured I'd put it here mostly to keep everything I hold against the game altogether contained in one spot. Then there comes the issue of when a card becomes interactible (for a lack of better word). By which I don't mean how good the card is, but rather the timing in between what occurs in the game. Here are two examples that I know of to illustrate the issue better:
affects my stupid deck but bear with me - if you have an Orc on board and at least one Fifth Legion Trainer, play Wood Orc. Only when he gets Charge he's able to be selected.
in Leafwater OTK, you cannot play the Leafwater until it ends showing you the discounts from either Thieves Guild Fence or Gates of Madness.
In first case the problem is minimal, but there is a tiny chance to screw you over. In second case, it's actually pretty big, because that and animation speed makes this OTK (and many others) much slower. Amongst other things that devs know is the issue of not being able to check your discard with a selection box present (like the one Mudcrab Merchant, Merchant's Camel, Indoril Mastermind, etc. give) which is pretty important for control decks, especially considering deck tracker is still absent. But while we're at clicking discard pile icons... How about being able to click the Deck icon to see what's in your deck? An option to view your deck is already there in Laaneth, so I can't imagine there's too much coding that needs to be done to actually implement being able to view your deck's contents. Halfway through Heroes of Skyrim, for some reason we got buttons to remove and copy a deck in the collection menu... while simuntaneously the same options were taken away from the specific deck's menu. It's a very tiny thing, but I reckon it'd be nifty to have deck code, copying and removing deck button somewhere on the deck screen as well. By no means a high priority thing, but i thought i'd mention it nevertheless. There have been personal issues with TESL i've been facing on both Steam and Mobile clients. On steam the game slows down a LOT just before the game starts, while server registers i'm in a game. This causes me to, often, miss mulligans. It's more likely to be on my end, but no clue what causes it. On mobile, when building a deck, clicking on an attribute once only highlights said attribute for some reason. Again, nitpicks, but I want everything gathered in one spot. This is something that I'd call more of a wishful thinking than an actual complaint - Something as simple as being able to highlight (just to keep tabs on it) a card in opponent's hand, without revealing it obviously. This would be helpful with things like remembering Galyn target, a card that Thieves Guild Shadowfoot stole or just keeping a tabs on Tome from Daggerfall Mage or Dagger from Crown Quartermaster. With this inclusion, an option to sort cards in your hand would become available. Necessary? Nah. Priority? Fuck no. Would it be welcome? Maybe? Idk, that's more like a personal suggestion. I feel like there should be more options for friendly matches. Since there's no reward for winning or losing them (at least not in any internal way), these would be very welcome for customization - Picking lane effects, who gets the ring when challenging, some sort of toggle for an option that allows you to draw specific cards to make testing interactions or bugs far easier, something that lets a player (or both players) see both hands to make coaching/explaining much less of a hassle in a stress-free environment - just to name a few things that come to mind. Last, but not least, very undertalked issue. Logs. They are very uninformative. I don't think I've ever seen worse logs, sorry guys. Being limited to only 8 last events, which includes minor things like a buff happening is seriously terrible. Not only does it keep information away from each player, it comes with incredibly small amount of information. For example, when your opponent plays an item, you don't get the information whether it's from their deck or was it an item obtained via Gardener's Harvest. Another example is the card Shadowfoot stole - because it's not a copy generated by anything, logs leave no indication about the card's origin. But that's not all the issues this uninformative log causes - bug reports are much harder to actually verify! We're not ideal, we sometimes misremember things. Or sometimes things can't be logically explained. Take this for example - I somehow kept the ward on a creature after attacking with it. I have no bloody idea how did that happened and logs only tell you as much as you can see - Ordinator was placed down and opponent passed the turn, then I equipped Battlemace on Wardcrafter, swung into the Ordinator and was left with a 6/1 with Ward. Keep in mind, I don't even wanna mention things like Decktracker and such. They'll be there when they'll be there. However, there's something that rubs me the wrong way about... Tournament Mode. You know, thisthing. It's been 9 months since we've seen these two teasers, but ever since that it's been radio silence about Tournament Mode. I can understand priorities like honing the client and stabilizing expansion releases, but to tease something that community has anticipated for a good while and not have anything to show to us other than "we're working on it" is really a big let down that is worth pointing out. On a similar note, we really could use Gauntlets and Chaos Arena. Not only because they add tons of variety to the gameplay, but... um, i'll mention why a bit later. I know I pointed fingers at plenty of issues, but this is still tons better than what direwolf offered, because we see improvements to the client done at a much faster rate, so kudos to the team and here's to hoping that whatever problems we have with the game right now are going to get solved relatively fast. So far I can't say the quality of the client has disappointed me. In contrary to...
2. CORE MECHANICS DESIGN
TESL's main stand-out mechanics are rather easy to spot. Let's go over them one by one:
One a field line, the other's covered in shadows. At the point of me writing this, there are only three (soon to be four HOPEFULLY) means for someone to actually play around with more lane conditions than the default two. These being Solo Arena, Story Mode and recently added Syl, Duchess of Dementia and Thadon, Duke of Mania. With how fresh in our collection these two cards are, I'm fairly certain Sparkypants will start slowly introducing more intricate lane conditions or maybe possibly using some of the existing ones. Here you can find all the conditions available in game, in case you're curious. With two lanes come options to move between them. This, I'd say, is one thing that TESL nails. Moving is a strong mechanic and cards that enable the move are similarly potent. If a moving card isn't utilized, it's most likely due to the card itself, not because of it having means to move - Riverhold Escort, for example, isn't played because you want your guards, for the most part, to protect the lane they're in. Cliff Strider's problem is its text that prevents it from ever going face, etc. If there was one problem someone could point out with moving mechanic, it'd probably be a very small pool of cards (a total of 1!) that lets you move opponent's cards. That, however, is probably even stronger in a vacuum and should be made extremely carefully. So yeah, overall, kudos to design team, past and current (Mad Dash is very, very good as a 1-of surprise card). Strictly attacking between lanes seems to be kept to minimum, which is fine - the lanes are there for a reason, elevating in-between lane combat to a much higher power level is a cool idea. However, there's also... idk how do I put it better, attacking creatures not strictly? This exists in two forms. Since this part is about mechanics, i'm going to focus on only one of these here - Battle. Battle allows the creature with it to trade blows with any single one of the enemy creatures on the board. Until very recently, Battle was... actually kept in a rather nice state - cards with it saw either very limited play in some decks (Ashlander Zealot in Doomcrag, Fighters Guild Steward in Rage Warrior shortly before Isle of Madness) or were solid arena picks (Cliff Hunter, Skyborn Dragon). Some were incredibly unique, like Dragon Aspect, where you battle with your face! Had we kept it that way, no one would probably notice an issue with this mechanic - it allows a creature that has just been placed on the board to instantly attack. This includes the health it gains from its Drain, any Slay effects, Breakthrough damage, and so forth. Until Isle Battle was strong, but its strength was kept on cards that required plenty of work put in to dish out results or weren't strong in a vacuum. Then Squish the Wimpy happened. That card is what happens when you don't realize how powerful giving any card Charge and Bushwhack effect is. And, let's be honest, it's not exactly it - you can't battle your opponent's face - but even that has workarounds nowadays, like Flesh Atronach OTK. Between Flesh Atronach OTK (cards needed in it aren't necessarily always useful, but Squish is never really bad and Flesh Atronach can be brought back from Discard Pile with Odirniran Necromancer if need be) and the amount of ways you can use Squish in Rage/Ramp Warrior (from just removing creatures, to ramping while removing creatures, to healing and stealing creatures, just healing, dishing out insane damage with breakthrough, etc.) this card elevated Battle onto godlike status. However, if you take a gander at how good Battle was prior to Isle and how good it is now, it's easy to figure out that the culprit is one very strong and flexible card that gives interaction to a class with no interaction prior to this. Because of how much power this action carries, I don't think keeping its text the way it is and just fiddling with cost is going to make it any less powerful - even Duel Atop the World, which costs 5 magicka more and its only difference is +3/+3 to the target of the action, has seen some fringe play, mostly in decks that also ran Morag Tong Nightblade. There's one more big thing that happens between lanes that, at least I, didn't put too much attention in when looking at mechanics. Summon effects. We don't have too many cards whose summon effects affecting opponent's cards are limited to the lane they're played in (Skaven, Tiny Dragon, Cradlecrush Giant, Knight of Order, Giant Snake, Sanctuary Pet, Belligerent Giant, Mantikora... total comes to maybe 20 cards at best) and... I'd say that's not really a good thing. I think more creatures should have its summon effects limited to the lane they're played in, both positively and negatively, however, quite frankly, I have no idea how to approach that kind of balance change for all of the cards in the game, so I'm going to refrain from in depth means of changing this. My only idea was changing Camonna Tong Heavy's Plot effect to affect the whole board, given how little play he sees. But yeah, Summon effects have gotten sort of problematic, with their instant value that's only stoppable by "silver bullet" cards. More on these later.
Prophecies and Runes
If utilizing two lanes in card design would get a B- from me, then utilizing Runes would get an E-. Sure, there are some interesting cards that even to this day some of the best players can't quite agree on (Wilds Incarnate being the best one), for the most part anything that isn't a Prophecy and does something with Runes themselves was very mediocre. Morokei in Singleton decks is a great card, but... it's also a Singleton card. That's not gonna bring you tons of playability. He's gonna be an auto-include in Singleton decks, but Singleton decks aren't going to top the tierlist because of built in increased variance and an unsufficient reward for gimping your deck (only three singleton cards). Mechanical Heart is the other card that brings back a rune, but it's also relatively easy to deal with, a huge tempo loss on play and unique legendary, meaning only a singular card in 50 or 75 of them in your deck. The fact that Runes have been this unexplored for the longest time is a sin, especially because coming up with things to do with them is actually very simple and straightforward.
Replacing runes with other effects upon reaching health threshold.
Using up a rune to pay for an additional effect (ala' Exalt)
Forcing a rune break of your own.
Cards that punish opponent for breaking runes for a turn
Changing conditions for rune breaks (amount of creatures removed, amount of extra cards drawn, etc)
Cards that let you select a card from your deck to be a guaranteed draw when the rune is broken (possibly more late-game).
The list really does go on. Even on this list alone you could probably make a split for offensive and defensive options. The reason I gave Rune-related mechanics E- and not F is completely on the cards that reward you for breaking a rune - These I find for the most part very well done. Simply put, high risk, high reward cards that present a fair deckbuilding challenge to the ones willing to take it. Playing with these cards is also handled really well - they are prime targets for removal with their low health or other vulnerabilities, so it's quite easy to punish playing, for example Haafingar Marauder or Relentless Raider at a wrong moment. This sentiment doesn't quite extend to Beast Form. By themselves, most of these cards are alright, similarly to how "rune break" cards perform. However, with Companion Harbringer and Skyforge, there was a clear attempt at introducing something ala' a Werewolf deck or a Beast Form deck. Without alternative means of destroying opponent's runes, there's not much reason to go full werewolf, sadly, and without Beast Form these cards are nothing more than understatted creatures with no weight on them. Similarly to other very fringe and not played mechanics, only the most swingy of representants see play, like Circle Initiate (for very average statline at its cost and Prophecy tag), Aela's Huntmate (draw) and Whiterun Protector (just a solid body in a midrange deck post-Beast Form). Still, probably more blame lies on underutilizing means of breaking runes rather than Companions themselves. So let's talk Prophecies... However, not in the way people would probably think about them. Instead of trying to describe in my own words how do they feel, I'll try and draw links between them and mechanics in two other, seemingly completely different games - Team Fortress 2 and Wargroove, starting with the former Between Prophecies and Critical Hits, there's plenty of similarities. So in TF2 Critical Hits are Random. Matter of fact, they are very similar in its randomness to Prophecies in TESL in that you can technically influence the percentage (in TF2 by dishing out damage, in TESL by... adding more Prophecy cards to your deck), but regardless of percentage, you can go several seconds with nothing but crits or you can never see a critical hit in the round. Random critical hits remove a lot of decision making from the player, as this little tidbit styled after Pokemon battle explains really well, lasts about 3 minutes tops. Now, TESL doesn't have it quite as terrible, because the "critical hit" that happens does actually end up teaching you the essentials of when to play your cards, the ordering of your actions and whatnot, however what holds true in both cases is that it feels just as bad to die to a random critical hit as it is to losing to a random Prophecy that stops your lethal. I think these Prophecies in particular are the biggest offenders - things that create insane swings capable of changing not only the way you play out the remainder of your turn, but flip the entire game upside down essentially. Your Cloudrest Illusionists, Mystic Dragons (at least early game), Lightning Bolts, Piercing Javelins, Shrieking Harpies, Golden Initiates (to an extent) and many others all affect the game state significantly the moment they are played. Again, you can (and you should) play with a possibility of these cards popping in on your turn in the back of your head, and admittedly aren't executed in the worst way because you are capable of playing around them, however losing to one of the big prophecies from first rune or dying to a prophecy lightning bolt don't feel fun, matter of fact they're pretty frustrating to lose to. Then there's Wargroove, one of the recent games, turn based strategy (if you liked Advance Wars I highly recommend you pick Wargroove up!). The reason I'm mentioning this game is its way of handling critical hits. Instead of bigger and smaller random percentages, which no doubt would end up being frustrating to deal with, the game has conditional critical hits. For example, your cheapest infantry unit only does critical hit when the army's general is standing on a tile next to that unit. This adds a lot of depth to the gameplay and feels very rewarding to pull off successfully. As for TESL, I don't know how could you introduce something that gives you similar feeling - whether introducing conditions that one must meet in order to be able to play the card for free or just making it so that when the conditions are met that one card is guaranteed to appear during the breaking of your next rune. Maybe there's a way to somehow utilize leftover magicka from your last turn during opponent's turn. I want to just present how other games handled something that's widely considered frustrating. The details of execution I'd rather leave to card designers. I'll explain my last pet peeve with rune-related mechanics in next sub-chapter. Conveniently, we're done with what TESL does differently to other card games, so let's move on to:
First of all, I have nothing against your Treasure Hunts, Exalts, Betrays, Assembles and the like, however I can't help but feel that all of the "new mechanics" are only here to make expansions sound better. Whenever a big release was coming to TESL, be it a story or a new set, one of the main advertising points were new mechanics. They were one of the first things we heard about the set as well, for example in case of Houses of Morrowind, for which the very first announcement covered Rally, Plot, Exalt, Betray and "5 power or more" condition. Then there was nothing new that came for these mechanics. The reason this makes me miffed a bit is twofold:
We could've gotten mechanics that no other game but TESL can pull, especially anything involving Runes.
If the mechanics I mentioned in the first point are too complicated to just introduce, then at least take proper care of the things you do introduce.
Things like Factotums, Beast Form, Shouts, Exalt all are probably around a card or two away from being very much viable. I don't see much reason to keep them hanging. Treasure Hunts and Rally desperately crave for more, at least from Constructed point of view. Ironically, I think the most recent monthly card, Training Grounds, together with Ring of Lordship, are... perhaps not viable, but definitely a step in the right direction, especially compared to Singleton. These two present specific deckbuilding challenges that grant you plenty of cool perks and flashy plays should you overcome them. Not only that, playing against decks built with these two cards doesn't feel unfair, because you can see the synergy coming if you're observant enough. I'm not sure, however, what to think about Supports and Support Removal. This interaction feels very binary and, similarly to prophecies, not really fun for either side of the interaction. You're going to feel just as bad when your opponent has a few supports on their side of the board that you can't deal with as you'd feel when your freshly played support you didn't quite reap benefits from gets instantly removed by Dushnikh Yal Archer, Shadowfen Priest or Edict of Azura. I'm not sure how can this be designed in a better, more fair for both sides, way - perhaps make it so that supports have health, but can be targetted with creatures to deal 1 damage to them if guards aren't on the way, while reducing the support's cost all around, dunno really. Other mechanics that we had since the dawn of TESL time, namely Pilfer, Slay and Last Gasp, have been for the most part kept safely tame. Last Gasp has maybe two problematic cards at best (Haunting Spirit and Balmora Spymaster, for different reasons), but at the same time I can't help but feel that the whole Last Gasp bundle is being really overlooked by all of us. Pilfer is kept at VERY safe levels, probably because of how dedicated Tier 1 Pilfer deck would negatively affect newer players - they'd feel cheated by the Master of Thieves combo, which to them would have no counterplay what so ever, especially if another card that gives any creature pilfer gets printed for Monk. Finally, Slay in a vacuum is also more or less fine, but in tandem with Squish the Wimpy and battle tricks like Sword of the Inferno, Archer's Gambit and Crusader's Crossbow starts raising a few issues, the last three specifically with creatures that have both a Slay effect and Lethal. I also think that Slay and Drain shouldn't affect your own creatures if you end up killing them with Unstoppable Rage or any of the pings mentioned above. The possibility to turn one lane with one big creature in it into almost 30 health or an OTK in one turn is rather disgusting, especially the latter, since you can just place Child of Hircine in shadow lane against an empty board and use your next turn to add a Brotherhood Sanctuary and a bunch of Firebrands, Rage and attack a total of 7 times. There's also this elephant in the room... you know, Tricolors. What initially was perceived as a fun little gimmick (after all, why give up consistency for increased variance?) turned out to be the most viable way of building your decks. The results speak for themselves. Turns out that increased variance isn't really an issue for the tricolor player, because of several things:
Deck that they play can't really be shut down by anything - your class lacks support removal? Third color has you covered. Short on pings? Good thing extra 25 cards can fix that. What in 50 card decks could be called "identity", a set of strengths and weaknesses, is gone with transition to 75 cards. Every tricolor deck has access to everything, in smaller or bigger amounts.
The only conditions one needs to meet to play a tricolor deck are the deck size and having at least one tricolor card in its deck - That's... not really a setback. Sure, you increase the variance, but that variance often gets lost with how the deck gets built. Tempo Scout has proportionally less reach in its deck than Tempo Telvanni, for instance. As for the second condition... name a single deck in which tricolor card is a detriment to that deck.
With increased variance comes increased unpredictability. As someone facing a tricolor deck, I can't reliably play around its weaknesses, because they can have a multitude of different things. The only safe 2 magicka cards that one can play against Tribunal are Siege Catapult, Mournhold Traitor, Snow Wolf and Steam Constructor. Everything else dies to Negation, Execute or Firebolt.
Because of Tricolors, previously balanced cards start becoming a problem - the nerf of Goblin Skulk could be mostly attributed to Hlaalu and Telvanni with their Firebrands and Fireblooms respectively. If we were to favor classes over houses, Hlaalu Oathman and Cruel Firebloom would become more likely nerf targets than the Skulk itself. Similar things could be said about Tullius' Conscription.
Even with increased variance, tricolor decks can contain a bigger amount of more powerful cards. Telvanni is probably the biggest offender, with Negation, Black Hand Messenger, Emeric, Queen Barenziah, Thorn Histmage, Scout's Report, Telvanni Catspaw and Sun-in-Shadows all being a part of their control lineup. 18/75 is more than class' highest ratio of 1/5th.
Practically every possible group of people, Timmys, Johnnys, Spikes and everyone in between, have at least a few people admitting that the introduction of tricolor decks changed the game for worse for various reasons. The stats we have are definitely in favor of their strength. But at the same time there's a group of people who consider tricolor fun and different enough, which is perfectly fair. There isn't a lot i can think of in terms of solutions - rotating tricolors out first would need to happen, because honestly the design itself requires plenty of tweaking to make the games with it fun and that's not really something i know how to achieve. All of different solutions i've heard haven't really been elegant. But yeah, following rotating out the tricolor I'd either make an expanded queue for ranked/casual or run some tricolor gauntlets, should they make a comeback. don't think there's tons of things to say about specific cards that I feel like should be adjusted or cards whose design philosophy ought to be changed, but i still feel like giving 'em a section of their own.
3. CARD DESIGN
Starting off with something that was already talked to death by other people, most notably mr Ian Bits in his video here, namely heavy RNG cards. Now, it's understandable why are they made - giving fun to Timmys and some Johnnys, but i don't think power level of some of them is in the right spot. Biggest offenders of course being Suran Pawnbroker, Mudcrab Merchant and Manic Jack/Mutation (although i feel like Barilzar's Tinkering and Desperate Conjuring are also worth looking at). Still, this issue is explained in the video I linked far better than I would be ever able to explain it. There is, however, other type of rng cards that i feel like wasn't mentioned and is arguably a problem of similar size - Ring cards. By that I mean cards that are extraordinarily good on curve, but only with ring. When played without ring on curve, these cards have a lot more answers than with ring. Pre-nerf Goblin Skulk was very much a ring card, but even currently we have Cornerclub Gambler, Fifth Legion Trainer, Mournhold Traitor, Withered Hand Cultist to an extend belongs there too, East Empire Crafter has potential to land in this spot soon, although on a much smaller scale. Granted, when playing against control decks a lot of these become non-issues, as they have sufficient amount of early game removal to be able to deal with them swiftly, but for aggro mirrors these may as well be winrate swings. For all the things bad about Mudcrab Merchant there's one positive - Crabo has let us play more than one 1 drop that still holds its value during mid-game. I'd say this is worth looking at closer, because if there's something to fix the issue of Ring of Magicka in Aggro mirrors, it's decently powered 1 magicka creatures. Currently 1 drops fall into one of these categories:
Insane on turn 1, quickly lose value - Sarethi Scion, Palace Prowler, Ungolim, Deathless Draugr
Offer an unsufficient value across the entire game - Aldmeri Patriot, Blood Sorceress, Descendant of Alkosh, Blackreach Rebuilder, Covenant Marauder and many others
why are they still here? just to suffer? - Enraged Mudcrab, Niben Bay Cutthroat, Prophet of Bones (sorry my prophet), Voracious Spriggan
actually viable, as they are alright on turn 1 and their value is still solid mid-game - other than Mudcrab Merchant and Crown Quartermaster there's Deepwood Trapper, Gearwork Spider, Shadowmere, Marked Man, Karthspire Scout and, arguably, Scroll Seeker.
Even in the last category, only some decks really want these cards over others at a different point of the curve. Giving people a tad more incentive to go for Scroll Seeker or Karthspire Scout could potentially improve the means of fighting in Aggro mirrors or maybe bring back Midrange out of the sorry state it's been in. Endurance in its current state from aggressive point of view is an ideal color - comes with a lot of overstatted creatures, perfectly pairing up with other colors, either with enabling plenty of trades or supplementing big bodies with smaller, but Warded bodies (Willpower and Intelligence) or with buffing these creatures even further and abusing movement (Strength and Agility). At this point of time we're like 99% sure that Catapult will receive a nerf, if anything then because of community issues with the big body, now made much harder to punish with Skinned Hound, but to ignore Haunting Spirit, Young Mammoth, Dragontail Savior, Corrupted Shade and Bleakcoast Troll would be similarly unwise. The problem is, I suppose, in the fact that it's really hard to balance something out regarding these 5 cards without wrecking Endurance. I have faith that our card designers will be able to overcome the difficulties currently caused by this attribute. On the other side of the board we have cyclers and recyclers. Granted, it's safe to say that in a vacuum cards like Merchant's Camel or Indoril Mastermind are, for the most part, fine as is. Enter houses and Odirniran Necromancer, however, and we end up with cards that absolutely neglect the negatives of tricolors (reducing the increased variance) and, because of constant milling, allow these decks to find an answer to opponent's gameplan much more reliably while simuntaneously progressing forward with the board state. Don't get me wrong, it's not a problem that's only restricted to control - cards like pre-nerf Ash Berserker and Cornerclub Gambler should land here just as well. The amount of milling we have is one of the likely reasons the meta is in its extremes - it's either extreme aggro, extreme control or extreme swings/cycle. The solution sort of comes naturally - slow down! Less mill makes for a smarter game to play for both players. The second part of "Indirect card combat" that we call pings, also belongs here. However, by that I don't necessarily mean actions that just deal damage, like Firebolt, Rapid Shot, etc. These are necessary, fair and harmless. The only problematic cards are Archer's Gambit, Sword of the Inferno, Crusader's Crossbow and Unstoppable Rage. The first two, even at their low cost of 2 magicka, are almost always used on lethal creatures to act as a hard removal with benefits - in case of Archer's Gambit it's the ability to trade the lethal creature into an enemy creature on the same lane and potentially reap benefits from Astrid's effect, for Sword it's proccing Slay twice (on enemy creature and on itself), especially on lethal creatures, on top of just being able to remove two creatures with one so long as the wielder has 3 or more health. Crossbow feels the least problematic of all of these, mostly due to its cost, but also due to lane limitations - in Shadow Lane you can't quite always deal with two creatures at the same time, due to cover. It also doesn't give Guard to the wielder, so it doesn't force 2 for 1s with benefits. Unstoppable Rage is a whole different story. It's perfectly fine as a lane clear, but becomes unfun to play against when paired with a Drain creature or a creature with Slay effect, mostly due to these two things proccing off your own creatures too. This results in even 50+ health swings on top of the lane clear. Of course, there's a difference between feeling bad and being badly designed - I don't think the card itself is problematic, you can play smart to deal with Rage for the most part, but I can't deny its demotivating effect. Finally, there's silver bullet cards. You know, ones that are useless for all but one matchups - Grummite Magus, Memory Wraith, Piercing Twilight and Cast into Time (sort of, they're helpful everywhere to an extent), Garnag, Bedeviling Scamp and Withered Hand Cultist. These ones are probably the things I hate the most about card design. We're playing a Card Game. You can eliminate the problems by tweaking cards or card interactions in order to help players make punishing certain plays easier. Printing a card that answers the problem for you is an insult to card player's intelligence. It's the equivalent of giving a worse of two chess players an extra handicap piece that can move on any tile of the chessboard - why improve your play, when you can just play an easier game? If your goal is to welcome more casual players easily with these cards, then consider making something along the lines of an advanced tutorial. These could be a series of puzzles for free that any player can partake that would teach them the most important essentials of playing smart and playing to win. Not only that, these would play well into a marketing strategy - you can then direct someone done with advanced tutorial to the store, where he can find more puzzle bundles. It's really worth putting more effort into the game than just creating an easy answer for a card - it makes for a more compelling card game, a more satisfying esperience when you do overcome this one strategy you had troubles with in the past. Don't take this joy away from new players by giving them the middle finger card. Please. And if you're truly set on introducing hate cards to the game, at least split them into several smaller cards that affect different aspects of an archetype. Cultist, for example, should probably receive a big nerf in tandem with introducing cards that affect Summon effects, ability to be shackled, damaged by lethal creatures, affected by actions, etc. The very last thing I wanted to mention, more as a closing note, is the speed of making changes. Hearthstone recently went on to create drastic changes to the card game, mostly in the amount of nerfs/buffs but also in changing the base set. I mentioned a lot of things in this word wall of mine and I believe introducing even half of them from section 2 and 3 would greatly increase the quality of gameplay TESL definitely deserves. But in order to get there, serious changes need to be made, for we've kinda dwelled a bit too far into some of these problems. For an example of a game that undergoes gigantic changes with every patch to keep the experience fresh and enjoyable, look no further than Dota 2. The game has balance patches which are about as long as half of this article of mine, affecting various little tidbits of gameplay. While TESL by no means has as many gameplay intricacies, it still has cost, attack, health, card text, starting hand, interactions, etc. This game has tons of potential for really compelling games across all kinds of players and between all kinds of players, but a serious amount of effort and dedication needs to be put in in order for us to get there. Passion is what got us some of the all-time great games in the past, like Chrono Trigger, for example. But I direct this not only to design team and developers at Sparkypants, but to each of you reading this. First of all, thanks for making it to the end. I hope I didn't cause ya to fall asleep. I also hope that what you read helped you understand that not all of the enjoyable things are really good for the game and that, vice versa, there are still tons more enjoyable things to TESL that we haven't gotten yet. I don't expect for you to agree with all that I have written here - we're all humans (hopefully) and we're going to have our different points of view and different preferences. I encourage you to discuss things in the comments, for fruitful conversations help immensely in more means than one. If you come up with an idea to fix things better - post it! Sparkypants devs have been reading our feedback much more often than Direwolf devs and we should seize the opportunity to hopefully change the game for the better. In the end, if you've made it to the end, I'm rather certain that you do love this game. If a piece that takes almost the entirety of symbols on reddit is any indication, so do I. Regardless of how cheesy it sounds, this love for the game and this passion is what will make the game a better experience, and, eventually, us - better players. Whether you're a fun-loving person who cherishes all of the huge flashy plays above everything else (Timmy), a guy/gal whose primary interests lie in deconstructing the game's interactions and trying to discover more of the interesting combinations, treating the game like a box of Legos (Johnny) or you want to be the very best at everything the game offers and for your game sense and game knowledge to thrive (Spike), in the end we're all a part of this big family. thanks and goodbye
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