It’s a weird thing: the mind. Throughout summer, the household was in a nice routine. At the end of July it was like a flip switched. School was only two weeks away, but suddenly both the kids and Mrs. Ravious wanted school to start. Stress piled on, and instead of viewing Blaugust as a fun challenge it became an obstacle. I knew that I might get the first five under my belt, and then I would spectacularly fail. So I followed Homer’s advice and took most of August off. Refresh the juices.
Guild Wars 2
The game ever-present in the household has also seen diminished play as anticipation for the expansion mounts. Earlier in the summer, Mrs. Ravious and I were at a fever pitch trying to stockpile everything we could possibly want for, what we know now as, October 23rd. Now, all we’re doing about is the daily, maybe a Tequatl, or a sandstorm.
There’s so much excitement with what is coming, and so much stagnation with what we have, including the dungeon meta that just is. Next week there is supposed to be an in-game activity with mordrem invading poor, time-shattered Kessex Hills and other areas. Hopefully that sends a jolt of energy in to our gameplay because while the beta weekend events are fun, they don’t feel “real”.
MtG Duels: Origins
I don’t know why I play this game. By most accounts it is horrible. Easy AI has ridiculous answers to the deck I am forced to build. The “curated” meta where someone decided not all cards from the Origins set should go in to the game allows for cards like Nimbus Wings (1W aura for creature to gain flying and +1/+2) to become monsters. The daily quests aren’t really daily because of server issues, and players roll for craps with the server anyway on seeing if they will get the gold from the completed quest. If this was an attempt to compete with Hearthstone, this program trips up at the starting line.
Yet still I play. Magic the Gathering is probably one of my favorite games, analogue or digital, of all time. I’ve never sunk much money into it except for my 5 commander decks, which are still not up to FNM spec., but I do like the thought of collecting it. So I play MtG Duels a couple times a week just to keep unlocking cards. I hope that there is a Hail Mary patch for this game, and I am looking forward to when Battle for Zendikar gets added. Still, I find myself much preferring the old MtG Duels (2012-2014 being my favorites) as opposed to this.
This has led me to the amazing Forge program, which is in no way related or affiliated to Wizards of the Coast. What Forge does is allow people to play with nearly every card from a favorite CCG. One can play in draft format, sealed deck, or constructed. I am really enjoying playing with $500+ decks, I never thought I’d experience. The AI has its flaws, like not seeing my chump attacker and open mana pool hoping to get blocked so I can Giant Growth it, but the AI with its nicely constructed swath of decks can present quite a good challenge.
My favorite thing is quest mode. I start with an intro deck, and at each win I get a booster to keep adding power to the deck. I can buy starting pets. I can sell cards I don’t want. I can buy magic tricks like free mulligans. For a CCG player looking to find a quick fix to a favorite game with boundless freedom and ability to create my own way to play, this program is a Nyxian godsend. Plus I like progression.
For those that try it out. I’ve found quest mode’s default stats to provide a very slow way to play after the initial power hump of fixing the starting deck. In the main screen go to Game Settings: Content Downloaders and in sequential order press the top four buttons. With card prices downloaded, in quest mode make sure to set the “Prized cards:” to custom setting and then check the bottom-left set, which is the most expensive set available. When you win those cards in battles, sell them for massive amounts to be able to buy the booster packs you want. I like playing block formats along with the expensive set to get the cards I want.
Zubon and my new neighbor, back from a 20-year international sojourn, are two expensive friends. I love boardgames, and they both have me buying many. I also have dabbled a bit in to finding my own, but these two guys…. Sheesh. Mrs. Ravious each week rolls her eyes as a new Amazon package rolls in.
My latest acquisition is King of Tokyo, which is a fantastic, family friendly king-of-the-hill type game with a simple Yahtzee-style turn mechanic. Players each get a Godzilla-size monster and try to own Tokyo. In Tokyo that king-of-the-hill gets to attack all the other monsters, but the other monsters get to gang up and force the king of the throne. Players also acquire energy to buy cards with special powers, like an acid spit or ability to steal other cards. First to 20 points by either owning Tokyo or buying cards wins.
I also picked up Camel Up, which is another very fun family game based around betting on a camel race. Unlike conventional games where each player would choose a camel to jockey and win, in this game players are betting on the placing of each camel for the leg of the race and entire race. It’s a very fun game where we often don’t care who really wins. It’s just fun to play.
My neighbor introduced me to Incan Gold, which is a risk-reward game that supports up to 8 players. Players progress down a randomly drawn card cavern to gain gems or succumb to “traps” therein. If a player runs out of the cavern they can pick up every gem that was left on the ground as the group progresses deep into the cave. The advancing group loses all their gems if they get hit with two of the same traps. My neighbor has the Diamant version, which is out-of-print but is much higher quality. Rumors are that it will get a reprint, and I would say it is worth the weight compared to Incan Gold’s “flimsy” game pieces.
Finally, there is Splendor. This game lost to Camel Up for the touted Spiel de Jahres game award. This game is about building a power base, almost like a mana base, to buy better gem productions means, then bigger gem production means, and then points. It seems to start slow, but it ends abruptly as all of the sudden one dashes forward to 15 points. It’s a fun game, but can be less fun because the weight of decisions and the amount of possible moves feels too much. My neighbor says it’s best when 2 players are just quickly grabbing cards rather than 3-4 players taking time to really examine each move.
He then showed me Biblios which is he and his wife’s favorite 2-player game. I am interested to learn that one.
So there is my August dump. I am back in the swing of things as the kid’s schedules are getting familiar, and as my work’s fiscal year closes. Things should be exciting the remainder of the year, and I am plenty energized after my break. I did enjoy reading all of the blogosphere’s Blaugust posts and commend everyone that joined in.