Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sentinels of the Multiverse

Aidan brought a new game over on the weekend: Sentinels of the Multiverse. It's an interesting card based cooperative game where each player is a super hero blatantly ripped off from comics. Each of the 10 super heroes has their own deck of cards. Each of the 4 super villains has their own deck of cards. And there are 4 location decks with tons of different cards. With so many different combinations between heroes, villain, and location it seems like it should have a fair amount of replayability.

We played three games. The first we only played with 3 people and got destroyed. Then we played the same villain with 5 people and destroyed him right back. We finished off with a 5 player game against a harder boss and barely pulled out a win with Sky dead. Some of the hero decks seems significantly better than others so you can probably tailor the difficulty of a given session with your choice of heroes, villain, and location decks.

Now, I don't really like cooperative games in general. I view them more as puzzles than as games. It can be interesting to figure out how the game works to start, but I don't particularly care to do the same jigsaw puzzle over and over again. Sentinels of the Multiverse seems well designed in that it should take a fair number of plays through to feel like it's solved to the point where I don't want to play anymore, but I don't know how many plays it actually has. I certainly have no intention to buy it myself but could definitely see playing Aidan's copy a few more times at some point.

But if you're someone who likes cooperative games in general this one seems pretty well done. Especially if you like the idea of being a team of super heroes taking out a super villain. I'd recommend checking it out.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

League of Legends: Twisted Treeline Revamp

Recently Riot did a complete revamp of the 3 player map in League of Legends. It hadn't been touched since it came in during season 1 with the old mastery trees so it really needed some love. They didn't go light on the changes, either. It's the same map in that it has the same name and is still a 3v3 map but pretty much everything else is changed. The jungle has been completely redone. It's consolidated into a much smaller area and the mobs are significantly easier. The boss jungle mob is much harder than the old one. Some items had been flat out removed (in particular, wards are gone) and a bunch of new items were created just for this map. The layout of the lanes has been changed to make it easier to gank unsuspecting people. (Coupled with no wards and a plausible jungle this actually seems like a relevant change.)

Then there's the biggest change to the map and one that may well be the key to winning on the map... There are 2 altars on the map right in the middle of the jungle but split up a bit so one is closer to each team's base. These altars work a little like towers in World of Warcraft... Someone who doesn't control the altar can stand on it for 10 seconds to take control of it. After taking control the altar locks for 90 seconds and can't be stolen back during that time. After the 90 seconds the other team can go stand on it to take it back. The altars have global vision so you can see whenever anyone is standing on one of them. Then if you control one altar your team gets a +4 gold per kill buff. If you manage to control both altars you get the +4 gold per kill buff plus 10% bonus AD and 10% bonus AP. This will tend to make auto-attackers do 10% more damage and casters do more like 6% more damage. (Spells have a base damage component that won't get modified by the buff.)

The altars open up at the 2 minute mark, which is a little after the creeps will have started to fight in lane. It feels like a jungler has enough time to kill one camp and then go to the altar assuming they're left alone. So in a passive game you'll just pick up your altar with 1 person while they do the same thing and get your 4 gold buff. But what happens if one team just bull rushes the other team's altar and ignores the lanes entirely? Assuming they can win the level 1 team fight what option do they have? You should be able to bully them out of their jungle entirely, jamming their jungler, and claim their altar in like 3 seconds. Then because you're in a pack behind the other team's front line you should be able to run in behind a lane and gank them. I watched a replay and I think you should be able to get the altar and disperse to lanes while missing only half the wave. Setting their jungler back, keeping them from having an altar, and possibly getting a kill from the gank make this seem really good.

Alternatively, you could aggressively push the lanes the second they meet, and then charge the enemy altar. This doesn't screw the enemy jungler, and because you're split up it's easier to react to, but if you have strong pushers at level 1 and can win the level 1 team fight this seems like it could be a real blowout...

So the question is, what sort of champion is good in either setup? Stuns and AE effects seem useful. Kayle, for example, can probably push a lane before the altars open up. I wonder if Annie, who can have both a stun and an AE spell, could work? I've been trying jungle Taric out because of his stun and it seemed to work ok in the random games I've played. Especially against Teemo...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Android: Netrunner

Two weekends ago I picked up a copy of the new Netrunner game. Last week I read the rules, briefly looked through the cards, and built a couple of legal decks. Some people came over for board games on Saturday and I played one game with Sky. I certainly want to play a few more times to draw more conclusions but here's my initial thoughts...

With one minor difference the rules to this game seem identical to the rules for the old Netrunner CCG. I was expecting them to deviate a bit more from the original game but since I liked the old game this is just fine by me.

That one difference is they added character cards for each side. Each character card has one minor ability (doing 1 damage whenever anyone scores points, or getting a minor cost reduction on your first card per turn, that sort of thing) and then some rules regarding deck construction. The cards are split into specific factions based on character with a bunch of generic neutral cards that anyone can use. Then each character can use a few cards from other factions as well. This doesn't really change the way the game is played but does put some real restrictions on deck creation. Restrictions breed creativity, or so I've been told, so this sounds like a pretty good change.

The problem is with the implementation. The corporation in particular has to put a specific number of agendas into their deck. The box contains exactly enough agenda cards for each faction that you barely have enough assuming you use every neutral agenda in the deck. This means you can only build a single deck at a time. And it means you have no choices to make at all when it comes to which agendas you use. Restriction may breed creativity, but this just seems stifling. One of the neutral agendas has a special ability that can only be used if the runner is tagged. This seems decent in a deck focused on tagging and terrible in any other deck. And yet every deck just has to use it.

There also aren't very many other cards to pick from. Some cards have drastically different power levels. Sky kept drawing cards and shaking his head at how useless they were. I was similarly drawing some useless cards but since a lot of Sky's bad cards made me discard cards it didn't really hurt me very much. Maybe there's a focused discard deck in there somewhere that can actually kill the runner? But it felt like there just wasn't enough going on to build a focused enough deck at this point.

Would I buy it again? I actually don't think I would. As a lonely nerd I don't really have much opportunity to play a strictly two player game. And if I did have someone to play with, and we wanted to play Netrunner, I feel like it would be better to play the old game with the old cards where you could actually build a variety of decks. Maybe with an expansion with some more cards it'll get to the point where it does what I want? I donno.

I am happy to see an old CCG coming back though. I would love to see the old Lord of the Rings CCG make a comeback. Sim City, on the other hand, can stay in the vault.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Poker HUDs

Lately I've started reading on the bus to work again and my topic of choice has tended to be random poker books I downloaded a while ago onto my Kobo. One of them had a little Q&A section where one of the questions briefly mentioned something called a poker heads-up-display and asking if they were now mandatory for online poker. I'd never even heard of one (turns out they came into popularity long after my free-rolling days back in University) and figured it was worth checking out. The response to the question was pretty non-committal one way or the other. He said they can help and can be a great thing if used properly.

It turns out the basic idea behind a poker HUD is the HUD interfaces with a poker client to provide extra information on overlays. What kind of information? Well, it can display things like pot odds, or your chance of hitting a flush, or filling your straight. It also reads the log files saved on your computer to display mucked cards after a hand or to show statistics on your opponents from previous hands that session. It also seems there are sites selling databases of such hand histories so you can actually pull up stats for your opponents from every game they've ever played with anyone contributing to such a database. It can also generate personal stats in order to help find leaks in your game and whatnot.

Some of that stuff sounds useful and quite viable to have. Being able to work out your hourly rate just seems sensible. I'd have envisioned using an Excel spreadsheet (Excel being this carpenter's hammer) but I totally can see how a specialized program would be useful. And with so many people playing poker I understand how such a program should exist by now.

Some of that stuff seems questionable. Having the software list the outs you have to a straight feels like it's taking something away from the skill of poker. Maybe I'm just saying this because crunching numbers on the fly is something I'm pretty good at doing. (I find I'm beating people at Pergamon on Yucata because I'm just better than they are at figuring out the right spaces on which to bid.) That said, these are number you can work out on the fly if you wanted to and having them just appear on the client certainly makes playing at multiple tables easier.

Some of it seems over the line. The idea that you can see the mucked cards right after a hand or that you can look up thousands of hands worth of history on a new opponent just feels wrong. Seeing all mucked cards after a hand is a way to help catch cheaters so it makes sense in a way to have it as a general feature for poker clients. Getting a ton of history on an opponent feels like it's removing some of the skill of reading your opponent but I guess a guild of frequent players could share notes on a forum somewhere and this is along the same lines but potentially available to all?

I talked to Andrew a bit about this today and he didn't see a problem with any of it. His theory was that at top levels of play the opponents are going to be shifting their game enough that long-term averages wouldn't mean anything. You'd still have to figure out what your opponent was up to under the assumption he's good enough to be capable of anything. At low levels he thought it might inflate someone's idea of how good they were and cause them to end up playing against top opponents and losing. And if it actually does help a lot then getting used to using it would be a huge detriment in a live game. Having the odds available doesn't actually give anyone an advantage they couldn't have just by practicing anyway.

I donno. It still feels wrong to me on some level but it really seems like they've been declared legal by the poker sites and are here to stay. Has anyone made use of such a thing? Just how useful are they?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

World of Warcraft Masks!

Two years ago I posted about a World of Warcraft achievement and went through some new (to me) math to work out some information about how many years it would take for the average person to get it done. It was in the neighbourhood of 5 years of intense play as it initially launched and then 3 years after they added another way to get the items. I was getting close (I think I was at 17 of 20?) and was actually really looking forward to having an active account this October so I could pour in a ton of time trying to finish it off.

That's going to sound a little perverse. I rant about how terrible an achievement is because Blizzard had no idea how to balance the numbers and as a result it was really unlikely to earn... And then I get all excited about a chance to do it. And not because it's skill based and I'd figured out a way to get an edge doing it... No, I just want to pull the lever on that slot machine over and over again in the hopes of hitting the jackpot. I guess something needs to be wrong with people's brains in order for roulette tables to exist and I've got it bad...

At any rate...

Unfortunately it wasn't nearly as exciting as I'd hoped. Blizzard threw in the towel it would seem and decided to make the achievement incredibly trivial. You can buy the masks from a vendor for easily earned tokens. It didn't take very long to get enough of the tokens to buy the last 7 masks I needed. So now I have a real hard achievement, but I got it after it was nerfed into oblivion so it means even less than the nothing most people would think it's worth. Oh well.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

League of Legends: Jayce Boot Choice

I played two ranked team games last night as ADC Jayce. One game I tried maxing my attack speed buff first, the other I ignored it completely. It seemed to work out pretty well in both cases. The first time Adam was playing Taric so I figured having a bursty auto-attack buff would be useful during stuns. It was, and I got a bit of an early lead. After I bought an early bloodthirster my W was set up to deal ~250 damage per shot with 3 shots in a second. That's some amount of burst! The other game Adam was playing Soraka so I figured I'd go for a pokey plan and use his infinite mana to poke them a bunch with my Q and E. I died a few times early (I may have wandered into a bush or two filled with enemies) but I did ultimately stop sucking and get back to even.

Both games I bought the attack speed boots and both times I found myself wondering if that was the right idea. Attack speed boots don't help the Q+E poke plan. They don't help the max W plan. Sure, they contribute to random potshots during extended fights but those actually didn't come up all that often I don't think. Late game I could see it helping if I get to stand around and turret for a while but since my team doesn't believe in a 'protect the ADC' plan that doesn't really happen all that often.

Alternatively I could get some sort of defensive boots (this may be a good idea since I like to pop into melee mode and dive onto the enemy ADC) but my real thinking was that some cooldown reduction boots could be very useful. With the Q+E poke plan they seem particularly good since the only reason to put more points into E is to lower the cooldown for more frequent pokes. Cooldown reduction boots do that too! With the W plan it might even be possible that lowering the cooldown of my max W results in more autoattacks per fight than the attack speed boots. I could even go for more movement speed! Jayce is actually pretty slow (310 base speed which puts him ahead of Ashe, Caitlyn, Corki, Tristana, Graves, Draven, Ezreal, Twitch, and Vayne. The same as Sivir, Varus, and Urgot. And slower than no ADCs.) Ok, maybe he actually isn't very slow after all. Most of the junglers and top laners look to be faster than Jayce but I guess no one in the bottom lane is. Miss Fortune with her passive is for sure, but Jayce has a couple run speed boots of his own.

At typical attack speed breakpoints of .8, 1, and 1.2 what is the comparison on my W between attack speed boots and cooldown reduction boots?

With an attack speed of .8 without boots you'd be looking at an attack speed of .965 with boots. Over the course of 6 seconds (the cooldown of hypercharge) you'd be looking at doing 3 attacks for 1.3x damage during the first second and then 4.825 attacks over the remaining 5 seconds. With latency and whatnot I'd suspect there'd actually be a cycle of around 6.5 seconds with 5 normal attacks and 3 super attacks for a total of 8.9 attacks worth of damage per 6.5 seconds or 1.369 attacks per second.

Cooldown reduction boots would instead have a 5.1 second cooldown on W but an attack speed of .8. Over those 5.1 seconds you'd again have 3 attacks for 1.3x damage during the first second and then 3.28 attacks over the remaining 4.1 seconds. Fudging a bit again you probably don't get a fourth attack off at all but may spam the button sooner as a result? You're probably looking at 6.9 attacks worth of damage per 5.5 seconds or 1.255 attacks per second.

With a normal attack speed of 1 instead... You'd have 1.165 with boots. So probably 9.9 attacks worth of damage per 6.5 seconds or 1.523 attacks per second. Cooldown boots would instead have 7.9 attacks per 5.5 seconds or 1.436 attacks per second.

With a normal attack speed of 1.2 you'd have 1.365 with boots. So probably 10.9 attacks worth of damage per 6.7 seconds or 1.627 attacks per second. Cooldown boots would have 8.9 attacks per 5.5 seconds or 1.618 attacks per second.

Ok, attack speed boots are better when turreting a single target though with the amount of rounding I'm doing it's pretty close. And as you get more attack speed from other sources the gap closes. Considering the number of other abilities Jayce has to spam (he has 7 total) I wouldn't be surprised to find his overall damage goes up a fair bit with cooldown reduction boots instead of attack speed boots. Certainly the next time I build a pokey build I'm going to try cooldown boots to see how it works out!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

League of Legends: Jayce's Hyper Charge

Over the weekend I picked up one of the newer champions in League of Legends: Jayce. He's pretty widely considered to be the 'overpowered' champion of choice these days and I figured I should play him to figure out how he works. And to kill people with an overpowered champion, you know how it is. I've started out using the build they were using in the season championships a couple weeks ago where you completely ignore two of your skills and only put points into Q and E. It's been working out reasonably well. We have a lot of competition for the top lane in our games and no one wants to play AD carry bottom lane so I've been trying Jayce out down there with success. But I was wondering if maybe I should change my skill order. The skill I've been skipping seems like it might be good for an ADC role. I figured I should take a look to see what exactly it does.

Jayce is interesting in that each of his three main skills are actually two skills in one. His ult swaps between melee mode and archer mode with a different set of skills (on different cooldowns) in each mode. I'm interested in particular with how his W works in archer mode...

Hyper Charge: Jayce gains a burst of energy, increasing his attack speed to the maximum amount for 3 attacks. These attacks do 70/85/100/115/130% of his attack damage. Cooldown 14/12/10/8/6 seconds. 40 mana.

The first thing to point out is the maximum attack speed is 2.5 attacks per second. It turns out it doesn't interact favourably with slows so if you have a debuff on you it may actually be less than 2.5 attacks per second but I'm just going to ignore that for now. I think they recently made a change so attack speed buffs kick in whenever activated to partially reduce the time before your next attack. As such, I'm going to assume it gets used, on average, halfway between the cooldown of the previous attack. So over the course of one second you'll get 3 attacks in with the damage modifier appropriate for the rank of the skill. You're also going to lose that second's worth of auto-attacks, along with half of an attack.

It's also interesting to note that this skill actually increases your AD scaling as you put points into it. Almost every skill in the game gets more base damage when you level it, or lower cooldown, or a longer CC duration. This one scales more with more points...

Regardless of rank, you're looking at gaining 3*X*AD damage while losing .5*AD+AD*APS. At low levels your APS is probably in the .6-.8 range. At higher levels, if you don't stack attack speed items, you're probably more like 1.4. So...

At rank 1 early, you'd gain 3*.7*AD-(.5*AD+.7*AD)=.9*AD.

At rank 1 late, you'd gain 3*.7*AD-(.5*AD+1.4*AD)=.2*AD.

At rank 5 early, you'd gain 3*1.3*AD-(.5*AD+.7*AD)=2.7*AD.

At rank 5 late, you'd gain 3*1.3*AD-(.5*AD+1.4*AD)=2*AD.

Later in the game it seems pretty mediocre to use the ability at all if you haven't ranked it up. But if you max it out first it looks to be a bit of a beating, especially if you're just picking up AD and ignoring attack speed. The attack speed it still good while the ability is on cooldown so it's not bad by any means, but it does decrease the power of hyper charge.

One thing I accidentally stumbled on while testing against bots today is getting 3 very fast attacks out is actually pretty good when you have a black cleaver item. It gives the target a debuff that stacks up to 3 times for an armour shred... If you have other physical attackers on your team that seems like it could be a pretty big deal.

So, is this worth leveling up early? I'll need to look at the gains from the other abilities I guess, but I think next time I ADC him I'm going to try maxing it first and seeing what happens.

Monday, October 22, 2012

CastleCon Recap

So I managed to actually wake up early (with some help from Duncan calling my phone) both Saturday and Sunday and head out to CastleCon. Overall it was a pretty fun time. There wasn't anything terribly exciting about it but sometimes getting 40+ people in a room to play board games for 15 hours is all you need!

I ended up getting 3 new games for my collection that obviously needs more games. I got the Glory To Rome reprint. I got the new Netrunner box. And I picked up a used copy of Circus Maximus from the silent auction. Maybe I'll learn the game and be able to play at WBC next year!

I also actually played a bunch of games, some new to me, some old. I believe I played Dungeon Lords, Castle of Burgundy, Eminent Domain, Ora et Labora, Battlestar Galactica, Stone Age: Style is the Goal, Glory To Rome, Dominion, Milestones, and Trigger. By my count I played games with 15 different people. Saturday was great in that it seemed like I never had to make decisions about what to play. People kept coming up and asking if I wanted to play game X. SURE! Game it up! At parts of Sunday we ended up with a bunch of people milling around who all wanted to play games but with no one who wanted to actually pick a game. I know the solution there is to just pick something, have people sit with me, and let the rest sort it out on their own but that's not really something I'm good at doing. And it makes me uncomfortable. Eventually games got started and it got better though!

Overall, a good time and I'm glad I went. And I'm super psyched to play the new NetRunner at some point!

Friday, October 19, 2012


There's a board gaming convention (CastleCon) being held near Toronto this weekend. Duncan and Sara were going to be driving in each day and asked if I'd like to tag along. Thinking about it, I realized I haven't actually played a board game since WBC. Now, I play a lot of board games online, but I haven't been with actual people around a physical board in quite some time. I haven't really felt like leaving the apartment lately and I don't think I do now either, but it's probably a good idea regardless.

It looks like there are 3 tournaments at CastleCon, though I'm not particularly interested in any of them. Memoir 44, Command and Colors: Ancients, and Vikings. Vikings in particular holds the dubious distinction of being the most disappointing game I've ever played. I learned it at WBC in 2007 and I'd swear the title on the box was "VIKINGS!". And then the game had no raping, pillaging, or exploring. It wasn't a bad game from a mechanics standpoint but it really disappointed in terms of theme.

I donno, just playing some games should be nice. There's a vendor on site and I think I still have some store credit from the Blitz a couple years ago. Apparently there's a new Netrunner card game based off the old CCG. I should try to pick it up.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

World of Warcraft: Rating Mixes

I had an idea last week that perhaps the best way to approach challenge dungeon gearsets would be to stay as close to ilvl 463 as possible. My thinking was based on the way hit/expertise don't scale down, so your rating mix outside of those two will trend towards an even mix. Since some rating is better than another one this has to be bad. But is this actually true? I decided to look up some numbers and see...

The first thing I noticed is even at the same ilvl a piece of gear can have a different rating ratio. The bigger the cap between the two ratings, the smaller the total. I'm sure there's some precise formula but that's something to look up later on. It looks like the biggest split on ilvl 463 gear is 60-40 so I'm going to make some estimates using that split even though it isn't really available in every slot. There's also complications with sockets that I'm going to ignore for now.

All told, assuming primary stat trinkets, you'll have 11116 rating across all your gear with ilvl 463 gear. You need 2550 expertise rating and 2550 hit rating to hit the respective caps. This leaves 6016 rating left, which is actually less than 60% of 11116. So, assuming the gear existed, you could quite feasibly only run with hit, expertise, and your best rating.

Now, assume you have really high ilvl gear. Really, really high level. So you actually have a rating pool of 20000. You still need the same 5100 rating for hit/expertise which leaves 14900 rating to go into other stats. Because the most you can get on any single piece is 60% you're looking at getting at most 12000 of it, leaving 2900 to go into a different rating. Then your gear gets scaled down to having 11116 rating. This means you get only 4845 of your best rating while getting stuck with 1171 of your second best rating. So having significantly higher ilvl gear actually makes you worse!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pandaren Ambassador Progress

I'm 22 days into my presumed 41 day grind to Pandaren Ambassador. I must say, I'm getting pretty tired with doing dailies. I think it might be best for my sanity to cut back on some of the less needed dailies for a bit... But to do that I need to work out actual ETAs at this point. Hopefully using new information about rep per day since some of the numbers from before seemed a bit off. (Revered with golden lotus took 2 weeks instead of 6 days, for example.)

Lorewalkers - DONE
Tushui - DONE
Tillers - DONE
Cloud Serpent - DONE
Anglers - Need 4688 more rep, get ~1650 per day, exalted in 3 days
Golden Lotus - Need 6168 more rep, get ~1760 per day, exalted in 4 days
Klaxxi - Need 6217 more rep, get ~1700 per day, exalted in 4 days
August Celestials - Need 27975 more rep, and I honestly still don't know how this works. Some days I have 1 quest hub to do. Some I have 2. With 1 hub I get 1210 rep per day which is exalted in 24 days. Possibly half that if I keep getting 2 hubs per day.

Shado-Pan - Need 24642 more rep, 1430 more from quests, 825 per day, exalted in 29 days

Shado-Pan looks to be the only rep that matters. I can take 3 weeks off of most of them (maybe just do them on the weekend or something) and still get done before Shado-Pan. Also, it's going to take more than 41 days! Losing 8 days off of golden lotus due to whatever changed there is a killer. I still have a month to go... Maybe I should just abort entirely.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Video Games Live

I had something on tv in the background yesterday while grinding away at my World of Warcraft daily quests (Big Bang Theory, probably) when an interesting commercial came on. It was for a music concert featuring music from Mario, Zelda, Final Fantasy, and more and was going to be touring through Canada at some point. It had a webpage listed in the commercial so I went to check it out. It turns out they're passing through the area next week! Toronto on Thursday the 25th, Montreal on Friday, Kitchener on Sunday, Ottawa on Monday. Seems like they'll be zig-zagging all over southern Ontario which seems a little inefficient but I suspect they use local orchestras in each location so it's just the sets and such making the trip so probably not actually a big deal. (They only currently list the KW orchestra for the Kitchener event so maybe they're doing all 4?)

Now, I _really_ enjoyed the Final Fantasy: Distant Worlds concert I went to earlier this year. Final Fantasy music is objectively the best so I imagine a concert with all kinds of video game music would have to be worse than one of just Final Fantasy music but I expect it would still be pretty good. So I decided to check out the website a bit more and see what the deal would be...

The first thing that jumped out at me is the ticket prices are a lot lower than the Distant Worlds ones were. $37.50 for the cheap seats this time which for more than 2 hours is in the same ballpark as going to a movie. I was a little leery about trying to get people to go with me to a $100 concert when they might not like it... But this seems cheap enough to take a chance on I would think! The Kitchener ones start at $35. In fact, I think the most expensive tickets to VGL are cheaper than the cheapest ones were for FF:DW.

The next thing was extra stuff. Distant Worlds had special VIP tickets where you paid a bunch extra to go meet with the performers afterwards. Now, they had Nobuo Uematsu so this was actually a pretty big deal for Final Fantasy music nerds. Video Games Live seems to run a pre and post show, for free, around every event. The webpage claims they run costume contests and sometimes have game booths and such set up beforehand. They encourage picture/video taking during the concert.

Apparently they have around 60 segments that they could play at each concert. They do about 20 each time and rotate around. Makes me wonder if there will be substantial differences between the Toronto and Kitchener events. If they're using the same orchestra in both places maybe not? It sounds like they have some core pieces (Mario/Zelda/Final Fantasy) and then sub in different things to fill up the 2.5 hours. That said, I don't know that 'filler' is going to be the right term. There's a lot of video games with awesome music out there. They may not have the flashy names, but I expect it'll still be pretty great.

I think it sounds pretty interesting. It'd be tight, but I'm pretty sure I can get downtown in time for the pre-show while leaving work at my normal time. I may even have time to pop home on the way and put on some overalls and a purple hat...

Anyone else interested in going?

Monday, October 15, 2012

League of Legends: Mad Cheats!

Over the last week and a bit the season finals for League of Legends have taken place. They had a big 12 team play-off two weekends ago with the finals scheduled for last weekend. For the most part the games were fun to watch and a high level of play was shown by all. They had some connectivity issues at the venue which resulted in some of the games getting played during the week last week but I don't see that as being that big a deal. It would have sucked to been in the crowd, for sure, and I'm sure they'll do something in the future to ensure super backups of their internet connection, but I didn't mind it so much.

One issue that did come up is with the layout of the arena. They had three huge screens set up so the crowd could watch the games. They removed the normal delay so that the crowd could be watching the game live. I have to believe that feeling the crowd react to things as they're unfolding would have to change the way the games played out. I believe at one point a team tried to sneak in a Baron fight and the other team figured it out because the crowd was reacting to something happening. What else could it be at that point in the game?

Even worse, the huge screens were actually set up so the players could look at them if they really tried. Say, by twisting a little and looking up and back a bit. In a game with a fog of war this is a stupidly big deal. Four different games had teams cheat by looking up at the screen. In some cases they paused the game first and then turned to look! While on camera! It's not like they weren't going to get caught! How stupid can you be?!?

Well, it turns out, maybe it was the people not cheating who were stupid. Most of the teams that cheated just got a slap on the wrist. One of the teams was found to have actually gained a tangible advantage by cheating... Their win ended up standing. They got fined $30000 which sounds like a big deal... Except the team went on to finish second overall and won $250000.

Now, people are saying that they didn't really gain that big an advantage. They won 2-0 anyway, so even if they had an edge in one of the games it probably didn't make a big difference. But in one of the final games they got caught out early and it snowballed right away from them. That's what the team in the quarters was trying to do to them... But couldn't, because they cheated and looked to see where they were lining up the level 1 gank. Would it have worked? Who knows. If it had worked, would it have mattered? Who knows. But it might have!

I hate cheating. I hate cheaters. I'm a big fan of doing whatever it takes, within the rules, to win. Going outside the rules? Hate it. I like knowing what is and isn't allowed when trying to figure out how to win. For example, I could win almost every time at Queen's Gambit if I stacked the decks before playing. I could get a big edge in Puerto Rico by making shady VP chit trades. I could stack my Dominion deck into the right 5-2 or 4-3 split and reshuffle prematurely. I could palm cash in St Pete. I could mark the backs of the characters in Lord of the Rings. There's tons of ways to get edges outside of the rules of these games... But I don't want to get into an escalating cheating war. I like clearly defined rules and then figuring out how to work those rules to my advantage.

A monetary penalty just doesn't do it for me. They had to know that pausing the game to look at the big screen was not allowed. I don't care what advantage, if any, they got from it. I think they should have been DQed.

I don't think Riot is in the clear either. Setting it up so the teams could interact with the crowd is bad. Setting it up so they can see each other is bad. Setting it up so they can see the game on the big screen in any way is terrible! They left the safe unlocked and walked away. Not everyone sees everything as black and white as I do, so they shouldn't be surprised that someone poked in and took some cash. I don't think this excuses the cheaters in any way, but I do hope it encourages Riot to be more pedantic about their set-ups in the future.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Revisiting Darkmoon Cards

Blizzard went out and substantially buffed the tanking Darkmoon trinket (all the other trinkets had a passive primary stat and a secondary proc/on use effect) by giving it a huge amount of stamina to go with the underwhelming on use. I really like stamina for tanking so this change shifts the tanking trinket from 'garbage' to 'want to have'. On top of that I now suspect the DPS trinket is actually going to be best in slot for challenge modes. There are a couple other strength trinkets I could use but none of them have strength in the proc/on use slot. And most of them are raid drops anyway...

Put both of those together and it feels like it has to be worth making Darkmoon cards for personal use. I can sell the extras and hopefully fill in the gaps by buying missing cards. They were also supposed to bring in an ink trader on Tuesday to make this a lot cheaper but they couldn't get it done. This is a shame because I have a stupid amount of normal ink and would love to trade it in at 10-to-1 rates. But the fact that they've said it will happen 'soon' means I don't actually have to worry about the price of ink staying astronomical and it can make financial sense to make cards now since I can replenish my ink in the future. I can also revise my 'cost per ink' calculations by assuming I trade all the normal ink in for super ink...

Most herbs - 1.048 good ink
Fool's Cap - 1.69 good ink

This means fool's cap is worth 61% more than the other herbs. I'd been mentally valuing it at double which means I need to revise my buy points a little bit. Assuming I pay 200G per stack of fool's cap that means I'm paying 118G per ink. It also means I should be paying up to 124G for the other herbs. I've only been buying at sub 100G prices, so I have a lot more herbs I can buy. Or, maybe, I should scale back my fool's cap purchases...

Another thing to make note of is I forced a 600G floor on my shoulder enchant prices and they are still selling every now and then. Ink is listed on the AH for 700G each (still way too high but I haven't found any buyers so I don't know that it matters). Assuming I can keep trickling out enchants at 600G then I can set a break even value for ink of 200G. This would let me pay up to 338G for fool's cap and 210G for other herbs. I'm not happy with breaking even (I would like a little profit) but I don't need to do much better than breaking even while making trinkets for myself to be happy. Making a fortune while gearing up would be preferred, of course, and it's what I'm used to with inscription, but maybe that's a thing of the past...

Setting an ink value between current values and the 200G cap set above... How much is a card actually worth? Let's go with 140G as the value of ink and 3K as the value of a SoW... That makes an individual card worth 4400G. Tigers and Oxen cards are both above that right now. So I should definitely make my own...

Time to get milling herbs I guess!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Death Knight Challenge Gear Targets

We gave another shot at a challenge dungeon on Tuesday and just missed the silver time in two tries. My gear, sadly, hadn't gotten any better in the 4 days between tries. Part of that is my focus on rep grinds for the realm first. Part of that is playing/watching some League of Legends recently. Part of that is not leveling engineering yet because I'm irrationally waiting for my ore to bounce back from Robb's mailbox. And part of that is not having precise goals to know what I need to be running. I also want a tanking set since it's entirely plausible that a DK tank with a discipline priest is as nutty now as it was back in Wrath (with full absorbs failing to knock off bone shield charges). I also want to at least consider putting together a second DPS set for trash. Dual-wield frost is the best for AE situations while 2-hander frost is the best for single target situations. Both of those come up in challenge modes and it would be nice to be able to swap between them. Initially I thought maybe that would be as easy as collecting two more weapons but it turns out they have different stat weights that really make the difference. At any rate... What do I want, and where is it found?

2-handed frost - The secondary stat of choice here is haste rating. More auto-attacks and more rune regeneration for more obliterates. The auto-attacks have a chance of making the next obliterate be a guaranteed crit which devalues crit rating. Needs enough hit and expertise to be capped like any other gearset. Mastery is actually worse than crit rating here (frost mastery increases frost damage done and obliterate is physical damage) which is the real differentiator between this gearset and other ones. Mastery tends to be pretty good for most people... Not here!

Tanking - Mastery, mastery, mastery. The tank set also wants to cap hit and expertise to 7.5% each. Death strike can't be parried so I don't need even more expertise than that. Crit is really, really bad. They changed diminishing returns again which makes dodge pretty smelly. Parry is fine. Haste is looked down on by most people. I remember crunching some numbers last expansion and finding haste was sub-par but not awful. It's no crit rating! I suspect for challenge modes where damage done is quite relevant that it'll be fine to have.

Dual-wield frost - Mastery, mastery, mastery. This set-up is all about hitting howling blast as often as possible. Howling blast does a pretty substantial amount of AE damage, and it's all frost. This makes the frost mastery very good. I believe dual-wielding increases the 'auto-crit' procs for obliterate/frost strike which again suppresses the value of crit. Haste is very good since the faster your runes refresh the more times you get to hit the howling blast button. Hit and expertise to cap is again a given, with a focus afterwards on mastery and then haste. Throw crit away!

The first thing I'm realizing here is it's possible I'd want the same gear for tanking as for dual-wielding. Certainly if I'm willing to ignore parry and pick up haste as my stat after mastery, anyway. I worry a bit about enchants but it feels like there might be some overlap allowing only twoish gear-sets instead of a full three?

Another thing to keep in mind is every slot has to be at least 463 but I don't actually need to go any higher. Gear is scaled down on a piece by piece basis (with some fudging on top to keep hit/expertise even) so it's fine to go higher if it'll get me the right stat mix but not mandatory. Unfortunately this means I may well want another set of gear as my 'farming/pug raiding' set. Getting worse secondary stats is fine if I'm picking up an extra 40 ilvls worth of strength! And by another set of gear I may well mean two more sets of gear, since I probably want a tanking set and a DPS set for raiding, even if raiding is only done in the LFR tool?

At any rate, here are the pieces, by slot, without crit/dodge.

Helm of Rising Flame - tank - heroic SM
Reinforced Retinal Helmet - any - engineering
Malevolent Gladiator's Dreadplate Helm - tank/dual-wield - PvP
Helmet of the Lost Catacomb - tank/dual-wield - LFR

Malevolent Gladiator's Dreadplate Shoulders - 2-hander - PvP
Pauldrons of the Lost Catacomb - 2-hander - LFR
Shoulderguards of the Lost Catacomb - tank - LFR

Hateshatter Breastplate - tank/dual-wield - heroic Shado-Pan
Durable Plate of the Golden Lotus - tank - quest reward

Bonded Soul Bracers - 2-hander - LFR
Malevolent Gladiator's Armplates of Alacrity - dual-wield - PvP/Sha of Anger

Hive Protector's Gauntlets - tank/dual-wield - heroic GSS
Starcrusher Gauntlets - 2-hander - LFR

Malevolent Gladiator's Girdle of Accuracy - 2-hander - PvP/Sha of Anger
Waistplate of Overwhelming Assault - dual-wield - LFR

Legplates of Durable Dreams - 2-hander - BoE world drop
Jang-xi's Devastating Legplates - 2-hander - LFR
Greaves of the Lost Catacomb - tank/dual-wield - LFR/Sha of Anger
Legguards of the Unscathed - dual-wield - VP

Spike-Soled Stompers - dual-wield - heroic Shado-Pan
Angerforged Stompers - dual-wield - quest from Sha of Anger
Impaling Treads - 2-hander - LFR

Whirling Dervish Choker - dual-wield - heroic Mogu'shan
Buc-Zakai Memento - dual-wield - BoE world drop
Helios, Durand's Soul of Purity - 2-hander - heroic SM
Soulgrasp Choker - 2-hander - LFR
Malevolent Gladiator's Choker of Accuracy - 2-hander - PvP/Sha of Anger
Bloodseeker's Solitaire - dual-wield - VP
Mushan Rider's Collar - dual-wield - Galleon

Drape of the Screeching Swarm - 2-hander - heroic GSS
Hisek's Chrysanthemum Cloak - 2-hander - LFR
Malevolent Gladiator's Cloak of Prowess - tank/dual-wield - PvP/Sha of Anger

Firefinger Ring - dual-wield - heroic SM
Jan-Ho's Unwavering Seal - dual-wield - BoE world drop
Ring of the Bladed Tempest - 2-hander - LFR
Malevolent Gladiator's Signet of Accuracy - tank/dual-wield - PvP/Sha of Anger
Seal of the Bloodseeker - 2-hander - quest @ exalted Klaxxi

2-handed weapon
Lightbreaker Greatsword - tanking - heroic SM
Amber Flammbard of Klaxxi'vess - mediocre, but best option for 2-hander? - exalted Klaxxi vendor

1-handed weapon
Ook's Hozen Slicer - dual-wield - heroic brewery
Inelava, Spirit of Inebriation - dual-wield - heroic brewery
Kilrak, Jaws of Terror - dual-wield - LFR
Scimitar of Seven Stars - dual-wield - LFR

Carbonic Carbuncle - 2-hander, dual-wield - heroic brewery
Iron Protector Talisman - tanking - heroic Mogu'shan
Lessons of the Darkmaster - all? - heroic Scholo
Jade Charioteer Figurine - 2-hander, dual-wield - LFR
Relic of Niuzao - tanking - Darkmoon cards
Relic of Xuen - 2-hander, dual-wield - Darkmoon cards
Lei Shin's Final Orders - 2-hander, dual-wield - LFR
Jade Warlord Figurine - tanking - LFR
Darkmist Vortex - 2-hander, dual-wield - LFR
Lao-Chin's Liquid Courage - tanking - VP
Iron Belly Wok - 2-hander, dual-wield - VP

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Yucata Metagame

A little over three months ago the website changed their metagame system from a metagame based experience system to a TrueSkill based experience system. Essentially the change was made so the risk involved in playing a game against someone low on the metagame charts disappeared and was replaced with the risk of playing someone low on the TrueSkill charts for that specific game. In the long term this change made sense since someone who is likely to beat me in a specific game is apt to have a high TrueSkill in that game. In the short term it had issues with people who were new to the game on the website because it starts everyone off at 0 and works to get you to your proper TrueSkill over time.

A lot of people raised concerns at the time on the Yucata messageboards. The common response from the people who designed the system was that we needed to wait and see because there were other gates involved in ranking up and we needed to see the whole picture to really understand what was going on. But they wouldn't tell us the whole picture because they wanted it to be a discovery process. Makes it hard to really debate with someone when you can't see the evidence from which they're building their case.

Looks like a dinosaur!
At any rate, I hit the top rank yesterday. I'm the second person to have done so and I've now seen the whole picture. The guy who got their first seemed pretty satisfied that the whole picture was good enough but I'm not as convinced. The gimmick to the deal is they added on escalating TrueSkill gates on ranking up on top of needing to earn enough ranking points. In order to hit the top level you need to get 15 different games at a TrueSkill of 1300 which is not an insignificant number. It actually took me almost three weeks to go from 13 to 15. (To be fair, those three weeks included the launch of Mists of Pandaria so I didn't really play all that much for a couple weeks.) In those 15th games I range from #1 in Rapa Nui to #34 in Yspahan so you do have to rank pretty highly in a lot of different games to hit the last marker. On top of that, there's also an escalating gate for different games won. I had to win 31 different games to get the top level, and after needing around 20 or so it became the thing holding me back from leveling up, not experience, which was what the change surrounded.

That said, I stand by my earlier comments that the system punishes people for playing established games and I am very confident I would have hit the top rank faster on a new account than I did on my current account. Certainly if I knew what the final requirement was going in it would have been really fast. It looks like it took me around 20 games with a 80+ winning percentage to get 1300 TrueSkill in a game. With 35 total levels it's not very hard to believe that I could hit that gate along the way as long as I made sure to spread out my game plays in the early levels. The only advantage an existing account had would be existing TrueSkill values. The key, however, is that TrueSkill is actually pretty fast about getting you to where you 'should' be. You'll only have a big point advantage for the first 5 or 10 games you play of any given game and then you do have to play another 10 to 15 games to hit the TrueSkill mark but I'd be able to do that in every game I know!

The claim from the designers was that the existing account would already have enough ratings to hit these gates. Well, of the 15 games I raised to that level there were 5 that I had never played until the rating change. So I guess because I wasn't diverse enough to start I got the early level punishment of established TrueSkill in the games I liked playing and the late level punishment of not enough 1300+ TrueSkill ratings. So, really, I had no advantage by sticking to my established account after all.

Putting things in perspective though, I talk about being punished at low levels and how I felt unfairly constrained but in reality I gained the first 11 point-levels in 21 days. On a new account I probably only shave off a day or two; maybe only an hour or two. The system certainly did encourage playing new games and I learned many new games on the site as a result of the system change. (Alchemist, King of Siam, Hawaii, Yspahan, Famiglia, Arktia, Rattus, Oregon, Yucata, Thurn and Taxis, Carolus Magnus, War of the Roses, Santiago de Cuba, Era of Inventions, Trias, Maori, Ponte del Diavolo, Masons, Kahuna) And my proposed change wouldn't have encouraged learning new games very much at all. Of course, needing to win 31 different games would have! Part of my initial problem was also that I was playing against re-roll accounts which actually put me at a significant disadvantage. I was better off not playing at all than playing against those people. (Ultimately at the early levels I stopped opening new games of my own and started just joining games from people established at playing the games.)

The question is... Now what? Do I start a new account to try to set a benchmark for fewest games played to top level? Do I find another site to play on? Do I make up my own goals? (Get a win in every game on the site, for example... Get my TrueSkill in every game on the site above 1000... Get #1 in more games than just Rapa Nui...)

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Darkmoon Faire Cards

NOTE: I wrote this up on Sunday while investigating details of making Darkmoon Faire cards. Things may have changed in today's update with the addition of a new ink trader. So I'll need to recrunch the numbers before the Faire leaves!

Last expansion I made a lot of money on Darkmoon Faire cards. They make powerful trinkets that are very useful for initial raiding and I was the first man in on the market. Inscription was harder to level and the mats that went into the cards started out quite cheap. I'd bought the market out to make early cards and then the price of cards stabilized at the eventual higher price for volatile life. It was pretty sweet.

This time around there are some substantial differences. Inscription was a lot easier to level. The Faire came out a week later compared to expansion release so there's more time for other people to get in. The biggest difference is you can't make as many cards as you want. There's a daily cooldown to make a Scroll of Wisdom and each card takes one of those scrolls. This means each scribe can make at most one card per day. With 32 different cards the odds of actually making a full deck on your own is really slim at this point. I can make at most 19 cards before the Faire leaves this time around. As such the idea that I could make a full deck myself is pretty laughable. If I want to get involved it would either be as a seller of individual cards or by trying to trade. That would involve talking to people and I hate people...

So, assuming I'm just selling individual cards, the question is... Is this worthwhile? I need to look at other uses of the SoWs and I need to look at the value of the other materials compared to potential sale prices of the cards.

First of all, SoWs are used in only 6 patterns. Darkmoon cards, 2 boe epic offhands, and 3 boa epic staves. I have no use for a level 90 staff. I have no way to tell if the offhands are selling or not, but they look to be worth about 3000G per SoW. They're only ilvl 476 so I don't think they're a real long term use of SoW. So, unless 3000G per SoW is a high mark I doubt I'd be using my SoW on anything except for Darkmoon cards.

What about the other materials? Well, there's a 10 copper vendor item that can be trivially ignored. Then there are 10 starlight inks. These are the new uncommon tier ink from Mists herbs. As of right now there is no ink trader to trade up for them. The only way to get them is by trading a full spirit of harmony for one or by milling. What are these things worth? There are two ways to look at it... Cost of materials or value of alternative items.

Value of alternative items is the easy one. 3 inks go into one of the new boe shoulder enchants. I've been able to sell one for 600G and a few in the 330-400G range. I'm going to go with 300G as a reasonable value for the enchant so 100G per ink. The only other use for the inks are the other SoW items which I'm already ignoring.

What about cost of materials? Milling herbs gets you the normal ink and the uncommon ink. Normal ink is pretty worthless right now because there's no ink trader. I have stacks of the ink that I can't get rid of right now. They're worth about 7G on the AH (and I should probably start selling). Should an ink trader come in they're probably be worth more like 7.5G each as I could start making all my glyphs out of them. My min sell price for a glyph is 30G, they take 3 ink, and I want to get some sort of profit out of them so they have to be worth less than 10G. Lets go with 7G as the current value of this ink and look at what milling 5 herbs gets me:

Green Tea Leaf, Rain Poppy, Silkweed, Snow Lily - 50% chance of 1 normal ink, 50% chance of 1.5 normal ink
Fool's Cap - 33% chance of 1 normal ink, 33% chance of 1.5 normal ink, 33% chance of 2 normal ink

So a stack of most herbs gets me 35G worth of base ink. A stack of the good herbs gets me 42G worth of base ink. Then for the good ink...

Green Tea Leaf, Rain Poppy, Silkweed, Snow Lily - 24% chance of .5 good ink, .8% chance of 1 good ink, .6% chance of 1.5 good ink
Fool's Cap - 48% chance of .5 good ink, 1.6% chance of 1 good ink, 1.2% chance of 1.5 good ink

So a stack of most herbs will get me .548 of an ink. A stack of the good herb will get me 1.096 of an ink. So, how much am I paying for a stack and how much does that make an ink worth?

90G - 100G per ink
100G - 119G per ink
110G - 137G per ink
190G - 283G per ink
200G - 301G per ink
220G - 338G per ink

And the good herb...

225G - 166G per ink

The first thing I'm noticing here is my price for shoulder enchants is really, really low. I need to go adjust my mod. And probably not sell any more of them. With current herb prices it's actually a loss to be making these things right now.

What about the current price of ink on the AH? Looks like around 2k per ink right now... So maybe I should be milling herbs and selling ink!

Circling back, what about darkmoon cards?

Ox deck - 26k
Oxen cards - 1k-2.5k
Crane deck - unknown
Crane cards - 6k-13k
Serpents deck - unknown
Serpents cards - 4-6k
Tigers deck - unknown
Tigers cards - 7-12k

Ok, average that all out with the lower values for each deck and you're probably getting 4.5k per card. The card takes one SoW (value-3K) and 10 ink (value-1.6k if milling, 20k on the AH). So it's a loss to make the cards even if milling at current herb values assuming you only get the lower bound on the cards. 

If I really wanted one of the trinkets maybe it would make sense to work on this. (I do kinda want the strength trinket, and would really want it if I was raiding, but don't really need it for challenge modes.) But as things stand I think I'll try to liquidate my ink and see if prices make sense later on. I can only make one card per day but I can stack up SoW and make the cards in the future should it make sense then.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Initial Challenge Dungeon Run

Friday night we decided to give challenge modes a shot. No one on our server had posted any times for any of the dungeons and we wanted to at least see what was going on. Heroics have been a bit of a joke so I for one was looking forward to potentially being worried about mob abilities...

The 'easiest' of the challenge dungeons, or at least the one completed most frequently, was Temple of the Jade Serpent. There is no group finder for challenge dungeons so you have to fly there. On the way there we hit our first issue... Group composition. Turns out we had two people who only had healing gear. Two people who had predominantly tanking gear. And one DPSer. Eh, run it!

Second issue... Turns out you have to have done the heroic version before you can do the challenge mode. One of us hadn't done Jade Serpent so we'd need to find something else. How about Mogu'shan Palace which was third most completed thus far? We can all zone in! Woo!

The first pull included a mob that whirlwinded for enough damage to kill off the melee. Which is all we had for damage. Memories of TBC heroics! Woo! Turns out the whirlwind is telegraphed so you can either stun it or run away from it. Brutal, but not unfair. Some of the trash pulls were rough, some just had lots of health. But it was all doable. Bosses didn't seem too bad either. We certainly needed to group up for meteor, that sort of thing, but it again didn't seem unfair. The timer for bronze was 45 minutes and we ended up beating the final boss in 43 minutes and 32 seconds. We had tons of deaths, pulled some extra mobs, but learned a bunch. We still had time before bed... So do another one or try for silver? Try for silver! We grabbed some invis pots from the bank and went back for more.

We ended up resetting a couple of times (dying to trash puts a real damper on a speed run) but ultimately ended up getting done in 23 minutes and 33 seconds. With the silver timer being 24 minutes. Just in! But we didn't do all that much wrong, which makes the gold timer of 12 minutes pretty out there...

Now, we weren't all in full 463 gear. We had 2 healers. We botched our invis potions. (I thought they had a 10 minute cooldown for some reason but they only have a 2 minute cooldown. And it turns out speed potions aren't invis potions.) So while I don't think we could possibly have hit gold last week I do think it's possible with a bunch of work. Which is just what I want from challenge dungeons!

It turns out a couple other groups tried challenge dungeons over the weekend because we put a time up in the leaderboards. They both also tried Mogu'shan Palace which makes me think they were following our lead and that we must have picked the easiest one first... Really it was just one we could zone into! Our time still stands as the best so far, with one other bronze run existing and two runs too slow for bronze. I seem to recall a Blizzard post saying just doing the dungeon should get you bronze but I guess not!

Friday, October 05, 2012

League of Legends Season 2 Championship

I've been pretty distracted with World of Warcraft lately and this event pretty much snuck up on me. The final event of the League of Legends season started yesterday and will be taking place today and tomorrow. They're cutting down to a top 2 which will play out next Saturday. Grand prize is one miiiiiiillion dollars with a total prize pool among the 12 teams of 2 million dollars. That's some pretty sweet cash for playing a game!

I intend to spend a good chunk of this weekend (when not doing my stupid WoW dailies) watching the games, assuming the streams are being archived somewhere. Riot is streaming in HD for free which is pretty sweet.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

More on Challenge Dungeons

We're starting to get to the point where we're capped on gear and want to give challenge dungeons a spin. My server still has no times listed for any dungeon so just going in and doing adequately will get our names in the lights for a brief period of time at least! As of last night I didn't have any enchants/reforging done on my gear and didn't really know what I was doing as far as a DPS plan. I just hit some buttons! I decided to do some reading to see what I could be doing differently...

I ended up spending a couple hours reading threads about death knights on elitist jerks. Stat weightings were the primary reason I was there (haste is awesome) but there were some neat tips and tricks I hadn't thought of. In particular it turns out dancing rune weapon has a 30 yard range so a blood DK can use it as an extra ranged interrupt! I don't think it's always been that way but if it has I didn't know about it!

DPS-wise I've been pretty much doing what I need to be doing. The exception is making proper use of the new execute ability. I'm not sure it's really viable in heroics but maybe challenge mode mobs will have enough health that I can start reliably timing 5 seconds before they get into the 35-0% range.

I got home from work today and saw an interview on mmo-champion with one of the guys who currently has gold times in every challenge dungeon (on another server, obviously) and it was very interesting. In order to kill things faster they ran without a healer! They used splash healing from a shadow priest, self healing from a DK tank, and copious raid cooldowns. Generally tanks get really bitter when a DK pops army of the dead but these guys were using it AS their tank a lot of the time! They don't need healing and do tons of damage themselves! The group ran two DKs and a shaman (with earth elemental totem) for lots of 'pet' tanking. They were also all engineers which I suspected might be good. It turns out engineering is the best profession for a frost DK when it comes to damage and isn't terrible for tanking either. So, I'll probably switch to engineering from mining soon. It's a shame Robb has a lot of my ore on his inactive account. 8P

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

World of Warcraft: Scenario Quests

Yesterday I finally got around to doing a couple of the new scenarios. (Sky hit 90 and I had a scenario quest with a weapon upgrade I could share.) I'd only found 2 scenario related quests even though there are 7 scenarios and was curious to see if there were any more of them. If so I should pick them up before doing the rest of them. On a Saturday, hopefully, since for some reason there's an achievement for doing them on Saturday. I went poking around wowhead and turned up the following...

A Brewing Storm - no quests
Brewmoon Festival - 1 quest
Crypt of Forgotten Kings - no quests
Theramore's Fall - no quests
Proving Grounds - 1 quest (This is the arena quest with a weapon reward.)
Greenstone Village - no quests
Unga Ingoo - no quests

Great. The two quests I found are the only two I could find in wowhead. Only one has a tangible reward. *sigh*

I did find lots of people complaining that they had no clue what was going on in the scenarios and why they were even there. That's what I found in the two we did. Random objectives pop up, you do them, and then you get a bag with money in it. Apparently there's a small chance of getting a 463 blue in the bag which means maybe it's worth doing them from a reward standpoint. I still want to do them because there are 27 scenario achievements but I guess it's good to know there's no critical quest rewards I'm missing out on. I guess new level 90s should pick up the arena quest and do that scenario quickly for a decent weapon upgrade but beyond that scenarios just seem like an interesting but lore-light diversion.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Final Fantasy VI: Feed A Man A Fish

Final Fantasy VI has a ton of awesome events/cutscenes as you play the game. And then it has some events that aren't all that awesome. And then there's the event right after the end of the first world which is really frustrating. In this day and age with the internet and being able to look up how it works it's merely really annoying. Back in the day it was almost game breaking.

The event in question happens on a deserted island. Your only character is Celes and she's stranded with only Cid who is dying. The only thing around to eat are fish and Cid asks you to get him some. Walk a little bit away and you can find some fish which spawn. Wade into the water and hit A to pick one up. Then you can carry it in to Cid who will eat it and whine a bit. Repeat. And repeat. And repeat. And repeat.

How it works is there's an internal counter. If it gets high enough then Cid recovers and sends you on your merry way. If it gets low enough then Cid dies. Celes tries to commit suicide, is saved by a bird who has Locke's bandana, and moves on. If it stays between those two values then you stay stuck on the island. You have to break out of the boundaries to move on but the number is hidden and there isn't a whole lot of hints to let you know what you need to do.

The easy way out is to stop feeding Cid fish entirely. His health slowly decreases so if you just walk away for a while he'll eventually die. The Celes suicide scene is actually pretty impactful so this isn't the worst idea. Of course it does kill off Cid which isn't something any Final Fantasy fan should want to do...

In order to save Cid you need to fight his steady health decrease by feeding him fish. There are four different types of fish. Some of them raise his health, but some of them actually help kill him. So if you don't know what's going on and just keep feeding Cid all the fish you can be playing for hours. Even this time, knowing what was going on, it took me more than one bus ride to save him. I probably should have just killed him off... Especially since it meant missing this:

Monday, October 01, 2012

League of Legends: Season 2 Rewards

The second season of League of Legends is coming to a close soon and they've announced some ELO based rewards that are going out based on solo-queue, 5-man ranked team, and 3-man ranked team ratings.  October 23rd is the cut-off. What's particularly interesting is they switched from using your current rating as the qualifier to using your maximum rating as the qualifier. So if you get into a reward bracket and then lose a few games you don't lose your previous reward.

I don't know how relevant most of the rewards are but one of them, for getting gold, is a Janna skin. This should also give the champion to those (like me) who don't own her. The cut-off for gold is 1500 for solo queue and 1450 for the teams. My ratings around when the announcement went out were 1380 solo, 1409 for 3-man teams, and 1260 for 5-man teams. Close, but with only a month to go and Mists of Pandaria coming out... Not actually much time at all.

I ended up playing a lot of games the weekend before Mists came out and went on a bit of a tear. 7 straight wins and 11 of 12 was worth 126 rating and just in over 1500. Woo! I feel like I got lucky with a streak of good teammates that weren't big on sniping each other but I'll take it. So I'm good to get my free Janna. Now the question is... Can I get up to the next tier of solo queue rewards? Can I get the team ones up to gold? I think it's just a graphical advantage for doing it but apparently there's a reason to get gold in all 3.