Thursday, May 18, 2017

World Boardgaming Championships: Beginner Rules

I have been looking forward to this year's World Boardgaming Championships more than I have in a long time. I've been obsessed with a game that came out last year, Star Wars Rebellion, and it got voted in to be a trial. It hits all of my buttons: a two player asymmetric card driven wargame with a fantastic theme. It's long, with small numbers of dice, but it has a lot of intricate details where player skill can make a huge difference. It's like Twilight Struggle, except I get to get in on the ground floor of strategy and tournament results.

They just released the event previews which explain the tournament format in detail. They're running continuous single elimination with adjudication after 3 hours and 45 minutes. That feels too short but maybe my games with Byung take longer than average because we're evenly matched and he's a tad slow. That said, there are plenty of people at WBC who are also slow... On the other hand, I was expecting to have to play 2 and a half full days if they were running 5 hour rounds, so that at least is potentially a welcome change.

Ending in an adjudication is a scary prospect though. How good is the GM at this game? The preview lists a bunch of things he'll look at to decide who wins, and they all make sense, but which things will get the edge in a close game? The proper side to bid on can change depending on how the GM rules in his adjudications and I have no way to access that information right now. This is a little frustrating and curbs my enthusiasm a little bit.

But that's not the worst part. The game comes with a 'first game setup' to help new players ease into the game. There are a _lot_ of great strategic decisions that happen in the initial setup and new players will have no idea how to make those decisions. The game definitely needs to ship with those rules. Unfortunately the default at WBC for every round is going to be using this initial setup. If both players agree they can play the real game, but the default is to play the initial setup.

Now, I think WBC brings in a wide spectrum of players with a wide variety of skills. I think it is important for games at WBC to have demos and to try to accommodate new players. But I also think it's important that a tournament work to test the skills of the players to the utmost. It's a spectrum, for sure, in terms of how much you want to encourage new players versus how much you want to fine tune the games for the experts. I've argued against Agricola using decks that didn't come in the box, for example. I've been against banning cards in Agricola because I think there's value in having people play the game they can buy in a store and not a modded version of it. But the experts don't want to lose to someone with a wood hut extension, and they won that fight. Maybe this is the same sort of thing? But Star Wars Rebellion ships with rules for setting up the game that aren't the initial setup, so I think it's in a different spot on the spectrum. Oh, and the rules for 'First Game Setup' explicitly state 'for future games, use the "Advanced Rules" on page 18'...

I think a fair compromise would be to default the first round to the base game (that's where the people learning the game at the demo are going to be playing anyway) and make the mulligan round and all future rounds default to the advanced game. If two newer players win the first round and meet in the second round and want to base game it up, let them, but forcing experienced players to play the base game just feels awful.

How bad is the initial setup in the base game? I've never played it, so I wanted to dig it out and see...

The advanced setup randomly assigns 3 of 5 systems to the rebels, and 5 of 7 systems to the empire. The base game assigns specific systems, and those systems seem to favour the empire. The rebels don't get to start in Mon Calamari, the empire gets loyalty in both Corellia and Mustafar. It's not an ideal start for the empire, but it isn't one of the disastrous ones either.

The unit mix for each side is the same in either setup, the difference is that they're preset in the base game and you get to make decisions that shape your future plans in the advanced game. The base game spreads out the empire units, which in my experience with the advanced game is a horrible plan. You don't have enough actions to move 6 different forces around, and the rebels have enough units to pick off 1/6th of your forces in any given spot. Spreading out just gives them more targets without really giving you more options.

On the other hand, the reason the empire needs to worry is the rebels are supposed to see the initial setup and then pick any space on the board to deploy their smaller force. You get to split between the rebel base and any system, and then the rebels get to take the first action in the game so they can attack the empire in any poorly defended spot. In the base game they force the rebels to split up their forces in a truly terrible manner, and they force them to be placed away from ANY of the 6 empire spaces.

How awful is the split? Well, my experience has shown that the rebels only really care about their fighters and their speeders. They start with 2 of each and you want to save them for a crucial time because they're very useful and hard to come by. The basic setup splits them down the middle with 1 x-wing, 1 y-wing, and 1 speeder in each of the two spots. You can't realistically get them back together to make use of them without wasting an action on turn 1. And that action will only consolidate them into the rebel base, not somewhere useful where they can do anything to harass the empire!

The worst part is they start those units in one of the 3 rebel systems, so the empire now has a single place to go in order to both remove rebels builds and to destroy rebel forces. There aren't many rebel units ever (they start with only 14 bits and probably build 4-6 every 2 turns), so having 8 of them start in a vulnerable, worthless space is terrible!

Our feeling is the rebels are the better side, but everything about the base game setup screams advantage for the empire.

Maybe there's some play in the base game that I'm missing? Maybe saving the time from doing an initial setup and by restricting opening strategies is worth playing a worse game? Maybe I'll calm down in time? But right now, after looking at the base setup, I am not really very keen on playing the game. and by extension, not nearly as excited about WBC as I was earlier in the week.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Twitch Affiliate

Last week I had a viewer ask me if I was hoping to be part of the Twitch Affiliate program. I didn't even know what that was but told them I'd take a look at it when I got a chance. Well, it turned out I'd already been invited to take part in it and just hadn't noticed the email or notification. Their criteria for who they'd invite is public but they were going to be rolling invites out in waves so while I certainly qualified it wasn't clear if I'd have gotten in yet or not. It turns out I was invited the first day they started inviting people so I'm taking that to mean I'm doing pretty well when it comes to not being a partner.

For those who may not know, until last week there were two types of streamers on Twitch. Partnered streamers (who have a bunch of monetization schemes available to them like monthly subscriptions and ad revenue) and everyone else. Becoming partner requires filling in an application and meeting some nebulous requirements. Now there's a tier in the middle that you can autoqualify for and that brings some of the perks of being a partner and doesn't require a live person to go over your application. It feels like a win-win for both Twitch and up and coming streamers!

Anyway, the requirements to qualify for affiliate are 50 followers, 500 minutes broadcast in the last month, 7 different days live in the last month, and an average of 3 people watching at a time. In April I streamed for 10262 minutes across 22 days with 22 average viewers and I have 899 followers. That's a little more than the minimum!

What does being an affiliate get me? For now, not actually a whole lot. I get access to the bit cheering system and higher priority for getting quality options as their servers allow. The priority thing actually doesn't really change anything because they already had a priority system based on number of current viewers. I guess it'll help if I stream a game where I get significantly below my average number of viewers (those few people might get quality options now when they otherwise wouldn't) but it's really not a big deal.

The bit cheering system is an interesting one. It's something Twitch added a while ago as a way to protect streamers from chargeback fees on various online money sites like PayPal. Basically Twitch will sell people bits and they can use those bits to tip streamers. Streamers then get a payout each month based on the bits they've been given and if someone uses a stolen credit card to buy bits then Twitch will eat the loss instead of the streamer. In return for that protection Twitch takes a significant chunk of the revenue upfront. (A bit is worth 1 cent but Twitch charges you $1.40 for 100 bits. They have bulk discounts too, but they're always taking a pretty big cut.) Now, PayPal also takes a cut of donations too (2.9% + .30), but it seems that fraud notwithstanding it's actually worse for me to get paid via bits than via PayPal. Especially since affiliates need to wait 60 days from the end of a month to get paid for bits. And that they have to pay a fee to get that payment (2% to PayPal is the option I chose)! And if I understand the tax forms they made me fill out in order to sign up the US Government is going to take 30% hostage as well!

There are other ways to get bits than buying them from Twitch, though. People can earn bits by watching ads, apparently, and they can be found in loot crates that they've started giving out in various ways. And obviously no one is going to complain about addition potential revenue streams! It also helps that it's fully integrated to the Twitch system so it's much easier for a viewer to buy some bits and then spread them around when they feel like it instead of having to log in to PayPal or whatever. Getting access to the bit system is definitely a plus!

Coming Soon (tm) they'll be adding on subscriptions, game sales, and ad revenue to Twitch Affiliates, all of which are more exciting to me than cheering was. Subscriptions are a consistent source of revenue and getting even a single channel emote would be really cool. Ad revenue would be nice since Twitch plays ads on my stream without my ability to remove them so getting some recompense for that would be good. And game sales... I know for a fact I'm already selling games to people. Last year I got people back into World of Warcraft from watching me play and I know people have bought things like Factorio and Blood Bowl II because of seeing me play the game and thinking they might like it. So getting a 5% cut of those sales (and making it easier for people to be able to buy the games) just sounds fantastic to me.

So things are looking up. Hopefully I can manage to stay unglutened and put in a string of good streaming days and see where things go from here.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Blood Bowl: How Bad is Stab?

A couple weeks ago I played against a Dark Elf opponent that was running two assassins on a relatively unleveled team. This means they chose to take the assassin over other positionals, which means they must have valued them pretty highly. Twitch chat was not very charitable to the skill level of my opponent, and the assassins actually accomplished basically nothing. They spent a lot of time intentionally standing beside my guys and then getting hit for it with their 7 armour, but that held up just fine.

It got me wondering... Should I have been able to just get free SPP for killing them? Should he have been able to hurt any of my guys first? Is conventional wisdom about how bad they are correct or should I be trying them out? Setting up with 2 of them on the line, making stabs, and then blocking away anyone who didn't get stabbed feels at least worth investigating. (My opponent tried this, but I was playing necro and the players he was stabbing had 9 armour and stand firm so blocking them away couldn't happen.) What are the odds here?

Nothing Stun KO Cas
7 AV 58% 24% 10% 7%
8 AV 72% 16% 7% 5%
9 AV 83% 10% 4% 3%

TO Push Down Stun KO Cas
7 AV 3% 22% 44% 18% 8% 5%
8 AV 3% 22% 54% 12% 5% 3%
9 AV 3% 22% 63% 7% 3% 2%

TO Push Down Stun KO Cas
7 AV 11% 33% 32% 14% 6% 4%
8 AV 11% 33% 40% 9% 4% 3%
9 AV 11% 33% 46% 5% 2% 2%

TO Push Down Stun KO Cas
7 AV 11% 58% 18% 7% 3% 2%
8 AV 11% 58% 22% 5% 2% 1%
9 AV 11% 58% 25% 3% 1% 1%

The first table is for stab against the 3 likely armour values the target is apt to have. The next one is the odds for a 2 die block with block against someone without block. The next one is the odds for a 2 die block without block against someone with block. The last one is the odds for a 2 die block without block against someone with both block and dodge.

The first thing to point out is that there is no downside to the stab. Throwing a block without block has an 11 percent chance of knocking yourself down. You can reroll it, of course, but burning up rerolls on opening line blocks feels really bad. Especially when the upside of throwing the block is only a 4% chance of removal!

Then there's the fact that even if you give up a 2 die block back after failing a stab they are only 13% to remove you back. If you're stabbing a 7 AV person that means the stabber has the advantage. Otherwise you're less likely to hurt them as you are to be hurt back, so you really need the followup block from a friend trying for a push to free you up. Hitting a flesh golem with an assassin is not a good play.

That all said... A 13% chance to be removed back is actually a really big deal. And that's assuming they don't have mighty blow, which, now that we mention it...

TO Push Down Stun KO Cas
7 AV 3% 22% 31% 20% 13% 11%
8 AV 3% 22% 44% 15% 9% 8%
9 AV 3% 22% 54% 10% 6% 5%

Now we're up to a 23% chance of being removed! Those are the sorts of numbers I'm talking about. Mighty blow really lets you murder the 7 AV dudes with no skills. No wonder my rats keep dying...

The next thing I notice is just how hard it is to hurt someone with block and dodge with a regular hit. Even with 7 armour you're only getting removed on 5% of hits. 5% of regular hits, anyway. Throw on tackle and mighty blow and things get a lot scarier. But it's not like a Dark Elf team is going to have many (or any) players with those skills. If we're trying to kill a gutter runner or a skink or something then maybe the assassin is the way to go. 17% instead of 5% is a pretty big change!

My feeling now after looking at things a little is that blitzing anyone except for a low armour dodgy dude is a mistake with an assassin. This means they have to start in contact on the start of your turn to get a hit off, which is very dangerous for a 7 armour dude with no defensive skills. Using them against enemies on the line feels pretty good though. Take a free armour roll, then hit them with a regular block to push them away (or knock them down) afterwards. If you knock them down beside the assassin then next turn they have to dodge away or give you another stab...

It also feels like they just aren't likely enough to knock anyone down to justify using them on the ball carrier if you have an actual ball removal player. Tackle, wrestle, strip ball... These are all better tools than the assassin. But those all require a lot of levels; the assassin comes straight out of the box with stab.

Another downside is the stab doesn't earn any experience, so the assassin is a removal tool that doesn't level through removals! Can you feed them touchdowns to level them up? All the players on a Dark Elf team want to level up through touchdowns, can you justify feeding the spp onto the assassin?

And really, that's what it comes down to... Assassins are expensive players on a team full of expensive players. They're pretty much the squishiest player in the game, too, since they have only 7 AV and no defensive skills. Even goblins, which have stunty, start with dodge, so they're harder to hurt. Harder to hurt for everyone but an assassin, anyway!

So I feel like I'd maybe want an assassin (or two!) against some specific teams but very much not against others.

Good: Skaven, High Elf, Brettonian, Wood Elf, Lizardman, Norse, Khemri
Ok: Human, Dark Elf, Undead, Chaos Dwarves
Bad: Orc, Dwarf, Chaos, Necromantic, Nurgle

Hmm... Looking at it there are actually 7 of 16 teams where I'd probably want an assassin and only really 5 where they'd be a real detriment. Of course on the champion ladder it turns out that the bottom group there contains a lot of the most played teams. Orcs are #1 by a large margin, with Chaos and Chaos Dwarves as the next two. Those 5 bad teams represent 40% of all games played and that really makes me question wanting to play assassins on the ladder.

But in a league? That's more tempting. Especially if the league enforces some kind of race parity like the NWFL league I played on FumBBL did.

Of course you could just be looking at having your expensive defenseless 7 AV player die in the first game...

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Blood Bowl Puzzle

An interesting situation cropped up at the end of a recent Blood Bowl game, and I wanted to look into it in more detail while not being under a 3 minute timer to make all of my moves in a turn. In some senses it's a very straightforward position and in other senses there's a lot of things going on that need to be considered. I thought it might be interesting to provide the situation as a puzzle and let people decide what they would do and then go through all of the things to consider in another post.

The Blood Bowl 2 interface is pretty good for watching things live, but pretty sketchy for easily seeing things at a glance for people who aren't used to it, so I'll explain what's going on in this picture first.

This is turn 16 of a game where we're down 2-1. We're a brand new Necromantic team, dressed in pink, and we're playing against Dwarves. We have possession of the ball, in the hands of a werewolf who is 8 spaces from the endzone (indicated by the blue pillar of light). Werewolves have an 8/3/3/8 statline and their only relevant skill is frenzy. We don't have any rerolls and the only thing we care about is maximizing our odds of scoring a touchdown to tie the game. No other player on our team can reach the endzone and there aren't enough players on the field to set up any crazy chain push plays (I don't think, anyway!).

The other players we have access to are 2 flesh golems (4/4/2/9), 3 zombies (4/3/2/8), and a wight (6/3/3/8 block). Our second wight is lying on the ground beside the ball carrier but unfortunately he is stunned. There are not many dwarves left in play, but the ones that exist are in annoying positions. All dwarves have 3 strength and all of them have block except for the one hiding behind the flesh golem in the upper left hand corner. The remaining dwarves are marked one on the werewolf, one on the second flesh golem, and one on a zombie. We have 2 free zombies and a free wight, all a fair ways behind the play.

What is your plan for the turn?

Monday, November 07, 2016

Hearthstone Constructed Revisited

I've spent the last week or so watching a lot of constructed Hearthstone VoDs. Blizzcon was this past weekend and the World Championships were held there, so I've been watching 16 of the top Hearthstone players compete in a format where they had to bring 5 decks from 5 different classes to the table. The opponent bans one of them and then you each pick a deck and play. Winner's deck gets removed from the pool and you repeat until someone has won games with all 4 of their unbanned decks.

I find this kind of format fascinating, though it has pretty much nothing to do with the constructed available to me. Laddering is a very different beast since you have very different goals and opponents to play against. In a very real sense laddering is just a grind so playing a faster deck tends to be better because you can pound out more games. Everyone is aware of this too, so your opponents skew way more towards faster decks than they probably should. In the tournaments you're more choosing decks that are very powerful on their own, or that all target a specific weakness you're expecting to exist in your opponent's decks. One of the players swapped his warrior deck between the top 16 and the top 8 because he anticipated his opponents in the single elimination portion would target his control warrior. He switched to an aggressive dragon warrior instead, which was way better against his first opponent's heavily controlling decks.

Watching all these cool powerful decks has me itching to play cool decks. Watching these top players made me realize that I really would be just as good as they are if I put in the time practicing. And if I actually had cards. One of the interviews they kept showing between games at the tournament talked a little bit about how the player bought tons of packs each time a set came out. Now, maybe he does that to get golden cards, but I simply can't do that. I've slacked a lot on getting my quests done, and I haven't drafted much at all of the last couple sets, so my collection is really pitiful...

I did a bit of thinking about that, and it's not all bad. Sets rotating out after a couple years is actually set up to help me out now. Goblins vs Gnomes leaving was terrible for me since I played a ton when that was the newest set, but the next set to leave is going to be The Grand Tournament, where I don't even have half of the commons and have none of the legendaries. That rotation is expected to happen sometime around March, so I'd still have 5 months of suffering through not having any cards from that set, but I'd have plenty of time to work on picking up cards from the more recent sets.

Another thing I realized is that I don't actually need to keep any of my GvG cards. I have 6 legendaries from that set and a lot of the lesser rare stuff too. I could just dust all of those to give my collection a shot in the arm.

So I went and updated my collection spreadsheet and reality punched me squarely in the face. All of my cards that will not be standard legal come March are worth a total of 8165 dust. To craft all of the cards I'm missing from Classic and Old Gods would cost 115640 dust, and that doesn't account for the fact that TWO sets will be released between now and then.

Of course I don't need every card. I can survive without crafting up a Lorewalker Cho, a Milhouse Manastorm, or a Nat Pagle. There are 11 legendaries from Classic that seem completely unplayable, and 10 more from Old Gods. That shaves off 33600 of the dust from that number above. And even though something like Lord Jaraxxus is playable, I don't need him unless I really want to play control warlock.

So it's still kinda feasible to build up a collection capable of playing the tournament formats, but I won't be able to have all the options that everyone else does. That puts a damper on the whole thing. I even went and checked out some of the coolest decks from Worlds and most of them cost way more than the 2205 dust I have on hand. Throw in all the dust from GvG and I can make any single deck... There's a lot of overlap between the decks too (almost every deck at Worlds played Ragnaros, for example, so if I crafted him it would make all the decks 1600 dust cheaper).

I think this all means it's time to start putting in some time playing Hearthstone again. I need to earn another 445 gold in order to buy the last wing of the Karazhan adventure, and then I'll want to save up some gold to do a bunch of arena runs when the new set comes out to start building up cards from Gadgetzan. I am still missing half of the rares and 13 commons from Old Gods, and it's a set sticking around for a year and a half of standard, so maybe I should draft before Gadgetzan too even though I don't know a ton about the format.

I also need to craft up a Ragnaros and then play some decks. I'll probably hold off on disenchanting all my GvG stuff in case I come up with a good reason not to, but I suspect I'll be doing that soon.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Stupid Brain

I woke up at 8 this morning, having gone to bed at midnight. Seven and a half to eight hours is just what I need on a normal day, so this was a perfect setup for a good day. Get up, play some idle games, eat some breakfast, and then get in on streaming. Instead, I rolled over and pulled the covers tighter.

I wake up again, look at the wall, and it's 10. In a thought as clear as day I wonder if I took my drugs yesterday. I think that maybe I should get up and check. If I did, I should get up and take today's drugs and start streaming. If I didn't, I really need to get up and take today's drugs as soon as possible. So I should get up.

I wake up and look at the wall. It's noon. The dog feels me stirring and wakes up in a start, jumping off the bed and prancing back and forth. It's been over 12 hours since he's been let out, so obviously he needs to go pee. This is a good thing, as if he didn't it would mean he peed on the floor somewhere. Knowing I need to let him out finally makes me get up.

When I get to my computer I check and, as expected, I forgot to take yesterday's drugs. In retrospect my question at 10, while a good one, could never have a positive outcome. Any world in which I forgot to take my drugs is one where I'm not going to get up and check. My brain on paroxetine withdrawal is simply never going to get out of bed to check on anything. I'm too lethargic, and the dreams are too interesting, to ever expect I'll voluntarily choose to get out of bed.

So now, instead of a good day of streaming to follow up on yesterday's good day of streaming, it's midnight again and I haven't done a darned thing all day. I'm exhausted, and have been all day, and if it wasn't for being alone with the dog I probably wouldn't have gotten up at all. What was looking like a good sleep schedule is probably screwed.

I hate my brain is what I'm trying to say. Stupid brain, needing drugs. Stupid brain, forgetting to take the drugs. Stupid brain, being really stupid as a result.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Path of Exile: Fire and Ice

Many leagues ago Sceadeau and I created characters to level up together. He wanted to test out a unique jewel which increased fireball's radius by what sounded like a ludicrous amount. I wanted to test out using freezing pulse and projectile speed to permanently freeze bosses. Both ended up working out pretty well, and it was a lot of fun to play them.

Apparently there's a new Path of Exile league starting today, and Sceadeau sent me the following snipit from the patch notes.

Fireball: 50% more damage. Ice Spear: 70% more damage.

Ice spear is a different spell than glacial spike but it would probably work about the same in practice and 70% is a really big number. PoE has a history of overbuffing things when they buff them, so I wouldn't be surprised if both of these spells end up being really good. Also the game has a much higher power level now than it did back when we last did this, because of the whole ascendancy system.

So I think we're going to go back to Path of Exile for a while... I really like the game because it simply has so many different ways to play it. It often gets compared to Diablo III and I like PoE a lot more, especially when playing with other people, because the game feels so different when running with different builds.

Now there are two things to figure out... How exactly does ice spear work, and what ascendancy class do I want to use with it?

Ice spear is a spell with 2 stages. The first stage has 100% pierce chance, so it's useful for clearing out packs of dudes who are nearby. After it travels a set distance it switches to the second stage where it no longer pierces but has a 600% increased chance to crit. Considering the spell has a base crit chance of 7% this means the end portion will crit almost half the time without any other investment. Ice spear also has an increased modifier to chill duration, but not to freeze. So it probably isn't as good for perma-freezing things... Except crits also freeze, and this crits a lot, so maybe it still works. Chilling things is still good, especially if you have other abilities that get better on monsters that have an elemental debuff on them.

The first thing this brings to mind is the Inquisitor ascendancy for the Templar. One of the points in that tree is 100% increased crit chance against enemies with no elemental status ailment, and 45% to crit multiplier against enemies with an elemental status ailment. If Sceadeau hits the enemy first it'll have a fire debuff on it most likely, and enemies that I hit a second time will certainly have a debuff from the first hit. So that's already pretty strong. The big point behind that node says your crits ignore elemental resistances and your non-crits penetrate 10% elemental resistances...

Penetrating elemental resistance is a _huge_ deal. The best nodes in the tree for casters in my experience have always been the ones that penetrate resists. I've always supported my spells with resist penetration. So completely ignoring resistances sounds incredibly good. It would have the downside of not being able to use a good support gem or take some good nodes in the tree, but I can adapt to other things.

One other thing that immediately leaped to mind is the node elemental equilibrium. It makes it so enemies you hit get 25% resistance to your element and lose 50% resistance to the other elements. If I'm playing with Sceadeau, and he's casting fireballs, then this node would drastically amplify his damage while only hurting my damage some of the time. This feels really good, but would require putting a huge focus on extra crit chance. And I hate relying on feelings... Let's look at some math!

These numbers assume I crit 75% of the time for triple damage and that both Sceadeau and I would be running 34% penetration unless I'm an inquisitor in which case I have none and he still has 34%.

Mob Resist Sceadeau EE gain Inq gain EE gain EE gain w/ Inq
0 37% -25% -19% -2%
25 46% -10% -23% -3%
50 60% 14% -30% -3%
75 85% 58% 0% 0%
100 42% 58% 0% 0%

What we see here is that my picking up EE boosts Sceadeau's damage by anywhere between 37% and 85%. This is a more multiplier and is an incredibly big deal. Even with nothing special going on, EE would only cost me 19% to 30% of my damage, so overall as a team we'd be doing better if I took EE even with no mitigating circumstances. Inquisitor by itself actually hurts at low levels of mob resist because I won't have the penetration to drive the enemies into negative resists. I will have an extra support gem and other tree nodes, so that's going to be fine, and I'm pretty sure mobs with no resistances aren't going to be a concern one way or the other. Inquisitor is a 58% more damage buff at high levels of monster resist which is insane. Marauders have to take 10% extra damage to unlock their 40% more damage point! I just get it for free! Of course, it's only this high because my spell of choice has 42% extra crit chance on it, and this all assumes I'm cracking hard enemies with the sweet spot...

The best thing, though, is when I compare Inquisitor to Inquisitor with elemental equilibrium. I lose somewhere between 2 and 3% of my damage at low monster resist levels to give Sceadeau a huge boost. I think I'm pretty ok with that.

So assuming Sceadeau isn't also going Inquisitor I am definitely going to try it out, and will take EE to boost his damage by a ton.

Time to play around with the tree tool to see how much extra crit chance and multiplier I can actually pick up...

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Binding of Isaac: Instant Start Mod

I personally haven't played very much Isaac lately, but the racing community has chugged along making new mods and coming up with new ideas for races. I saw the details for an upcoming race (tonight at 6pm EST) that really got my brain churning. There's a mod out there that lets you give your character items at the start of the game, so you could start with a godhead or a brimstone or whatever. The race is to beat blue baby in the chest with all 13 of the characters in the game as fast as you can, with the added twist that each of the 13 characters has to use a different one of the starting items.

Whoa! It's one thing to figure out what the best item would be for each individual character but then adding in that extra restriction really kicks things up a notch. There are 3 characters, for example, that all really want to start with Judas' shadow. Most of the others probably want a knife or an epic fetus if I'm using my prior racing knowledge... But in previous races I couldn't start with a godhead if I wanted to, or a brimstone. Would those be better than a knife? Especially for me, who is distinctly mediocre with a knife? Oh, and then it turns out the mod has 31 starts, and some of them aren't single items, so it's really tricky to compare. For reference, the 31 starts are:

  1. 20/20
  2. Chocolate milk
  3. Cricket's body
  4. Cricket's head
  5. Dead eye
  6. Death's touch
  7. Dr fetus
  8. Epic fetus
  9. Ipecac
  10. Judas' shadow
  11. Lil brimstone
  12. Magic mushroom
  13. Mom's knife
  14. Monstro's lung
  15. Polyphemus
  16. Proptosis
  17. Sacrificial dagger
  18. Tech .5
  19. Tech X
  20. Brimstone
  21. Incubus
  22. Maw of the void
  23. Crown of light
  24. Godhead
  25. Sacred heart
  26. Quad shot + triple shot
  27. Technology + coal
  28. Ludovico technique + parasite
  29. Fire mind + 13 lucky foot 
  30. Kamikaze + host hat
  31. Mega blast + habit + battery + AAA battery
Some of those seem like silly things people wanted to fool around with. Having a fire mind that always explodes seems like a disaster when it comes to going fast, for example, and I can't imagine ludovico is ever very fast either. Mega blast feels like it would be very fast, but I just can't handle it. I tried it out on Maggie yesterday with no success at all, but I also didn't double charge it with the battery. But if I'm going to struggle through a few floors with Maggie... That's slow too!

Anyway, my initial idea was to run:

??? - Judas Shadow (10)
Maggie - (31)
Samson - Maw (22)
Cain - sacred heart (25)
Isaac - quads (26)
Judas - Magic Mushroom (12)
Eve - tech x (19)
Azazel - coal (27)
Lazarus - ipecac (9)
Eden - Epic Fetus (8)
Lost - Godhead (24)
Lilith - Knife (13)
Keeper - Brim (20)

I ended up making some changes on the fly. I gave Maggie the only other item with a speed up in it, the magic mushroom, and gave Judas 20/20 instead. Then I had real trouble using the knife on Lilith. I thought she'd get to use a knife even though she had the blindfold but that wasn't the case at all. On the suggestion of a viewer (who is also the guy running the race, it turns out) I ran epic fetus on her instead. She does get to use that item with the blindfold, which is sweet. I gave Eden the knife instead, and that was fine.

I died with multiple characters. Some of that was just bring rusty for sure, but some of it is how terrible The Lost and The Keeper are. I gave Judas' shadow to Blue Baby because his base stats are garbage and I hate how he can't get red hearts, but Keeper is even worse. Not being able to take any good devil deal is just such a deal breaker. So I think I need to give the shadow to Keeper. That means I'd need to find a new item for Blue Baby, and it should be a good one because he's pretty bad.

I think what I should do is give sacred heart to Blue Baby, shift 20/20 over to Cain, and tag in the crown of light for Judas. Apparently it adds a couple of soul hearts on top of doing double damage, which is good for Judas.

Azazel is also not really enjoying coal. I was hoping the tech 1 would override his short brim, but that was not to be. I think I'll give him the brimstone freed up in the previous swap. Does anyone else want tech+coal? Tech X is really good, but it hurts my hand to use, so maybe I should try giving it to Eve. Or actually, maybe the Lost should take it since he starts with spectral? Does spectral stack with technology in a good way? A quick test says yes, the laser goes the whole screen even over rocks. That frees up a godhead to use on Eve. So now I think my lineup is going to be...

??? - sacred heart (25)
Maggy - Magic Mushroom (12)
Samson - Maw (22)
Cain - 20/20 (1)
Isaac - quads (26)
Judas - crown of light (23)
Eve - Godhead (24)
Azazel - Brim (20)
Lazarus - ipecac (9)
Eden - Knife (13)
Lost - coal (27)
Lilith - Epic Fetus (8)
Keeper - Judas Shadow (10)

I'm certainly open to opinion and suggestions!