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!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Star Wars Rebellion: Opposing Odds

I have become slightly obsessed with a board game that Adam taught me before WBC this year: Star Wars Rebellion. It's an asymmetric card driven 2 player wargame with a great theme. The game starts a little before the original Star Wars trilogy and goes through all three movies. One player is the rebel alliance which is trying to convince the galaxy to go into full on rebellion. The other player is the empire which is trying to find the hidden rebel base and eliminate them.

Even though the mechanics are basically the same for each side they play very differently which makes the game particularly interesting for me. Ostensibly the game is about the empire trying to find the rebel base so you'd think the rebels would have a game based on staying hidden, but that's really not the case. The length of the game depends on how many objectives the rebels can manage to achieve so really the rebels are trying to score as many objective points as they can while hoping the game mechanics keep their base safe. But then the empire could focus on denying objective points and just assume they'll stumble into the base eventually... But that probably means giving up on outproducing the rebels militarily, so then the rebels could just try to earn extra time with military actions...

As an aside, each game round you get to take one action per leader and generally speaking each side has the same number of leaders, and that number increases as the game gets longer. So on the first turn each side takes 4 actions but by turn 5 each side is taking 8 actions. Often you can spend a leader to try to counter the opponent's action instead of taking one of your own, but that's guaranteeing you lose an action to just have a chance of costing them an action. So unless the action you're giving up isn't very important or the odds are very good it just doesn't feel very good to do it.

One thing I found while playing as the rebels was there were two actions I wanted to take every single turn if I could. I always wanted to make an alliance with a region (which lets you produce units and is a criteria of many missions) and I always wanted to do some spy work to manipulate the objective deck. This lets you draw two cards and put one on top and one on the bottom, which accomplishes two things... It lets you end up with objectives you're likely to succeed at based on the current game state by burying hard ones and it lets you draw cards from the bottom of the deck. (The deck is pseudorandom in the sense that there are 3 tiers of 5 cards each, and the lower tier cards are just better.) But even though those actions seemed critical to my game plan regardless of the game state, my opponent would almost never contest them. And then when I finally played a game as the empire I kept finding other things to do instead of contesting those actions, even though I know how valuable those actions are for the other side.

This leaves me with a bit of an issue. Are all my actions as the empire equally valuable? Is my evaluation of how useful those two actions are for the rebels off? Are the odds of succeeding at an opposition really bad? Unless one of those three things are true I really need to change my empire strategy to put a premium on opposing those two actions.

I think it's pretty clear the first statement is false. All empire actions are not equally valuable. Each card can only be played once per turn, and each fleet can only be moved once per turn. Different actions will change in value based on the game state, so I'm not saying different actions are strictly superior or anything. But I am saying that on a given turn you will have an action that is worth less than another.

How about the odds of opposing an action? The way that works is all missions have an associated stat and each player rolls a die for each point their leaders have in that stat. So Chewbacca is really good at opposing a punching mission (he has 3 points in punching) but really bad at everything else (he has 0 points in the others). A die is worth 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, or 2 successes. The player who took the action needs more successes in order to have the action happen. Note that this means the opposer wins ties, and with small numbers of dice and small values on those dice, ties will actually happen pretty often. Andrew was saying he thought that meant even numbers of dice would be 60-40 but my intuition has that as being too favorable for the initial actor. Which means opposing would really be something worth considering! But let's work out the actual odds for differing numbers of dice...

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
0 67% 89% 96% 99% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
1 31% 61% 80% 91% 96% 98% 99% 100% 100% 100%
2 13% 36% 58% 75% 87% 93% 97% 98% 99% 100%
3 5% 19% 38% 57% 72% 83% 91% 95% 97% 99%
4 2% 10% 23% 40% 56% 70% 81% 88% 93% 96%
5 1% 5% 13% 26% 41% 56% 69% 79% 87% 92%
6 0% 2% 7% 16% 28% 42% 55% 67% 77% 85%
7 0% 1% 4% 9% 18% 30% 42% 55% 66% 76%
8 0% 0% 2% 5% 11% 20% 31% 43% 55% 66%
9 0% 0% 1% 3% 7% 13% 22% 32% 43% 54%
10 0% 0% 0% 1% 4% 8% 14% 23% 33% 44%

What we have here is a table with the number of dice being rolled by the initial actor across the top and the number of dice being rolled by the opposer down the left. Typically you'd be looking at numbers between 0 and 3 but occasionally there will be lots of leaders in one spot working on a single action (trying to turn Luke to the Dark Side, for example). It turns out Andrew's initial guess was actually pretty good, with a 60-40 split when you're rolling 4 against 4, but at lower numbers of dice it gets better for the opposer at even strength.

Throwing a leader in just to 'make them roll' (an unopposed action doesn't have to roll dice) feels like it doesn't make much sense at anything except maybe 1v0. In that 1v0 case you're basically getting a third of an action. Is your worst action that bad? I doubt it, but I guess it might be. But if you have a good leader back then going in 1v2 is 87% of an action. Is your worst action worth 87% of their action? Yeah, yeah, that seems pretty good. I like 1v3 and 2v3 also. So leaving a good symbol leader back feels like something I need to encorporate more into my game.

What about trying to capture a leader? The empire can lock a leader up with a card that requires only a single punch symbol to start up. Capturing a leader means they can't take actions again until they get saved and opens up some powerful torture related actions for the empire, so it's pretty powerful. It's non-trivial to rescue a leader, but even if the rebels have one of the 3 cards that do it and succeed in it on the next turn, you're looking at a 1v0 roll being 2/3rds of costing them 2 actions and 1/3rd of doing nothing. That's going to cost them more actions than the one you're spending, so a 1v0 roll actually feels pretty good. You don't want even dice numbers being rolled, but any positive number of dice is probably a good idea.

The last thing to consider is some of the cards get 2 guaranteed successes if the correct leader runs the action. How good is that in terms of the odds?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
0 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
1 94% 98% 99% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
2 71% 86% 94% 97% 99% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
3 46% 67% 81% 90% 95% 98% 99% 99% 100% 100%
4 26% 46% 64% 78% 87% 93% 96% 98% 99% 100%
5 14% 29% 47% 63% 75% 85% 91% 95% 97% 98%
6 7% 17% 32% 47% 62% 74% 83% 89% 93% 96%
7 3% 10% 20% 33% 47% 61% 72% 81% 88% 92%
8 1% 5% 12% 22% 34% 47% 60% 71% 79% 86%
9 1% 3% 7% 14% 24% 35% 48% 59% 70% 78%
10 0% 1% 4% 9% 16% 25% 36% 48% 59% 69%

Opposing these cards is a lot worse. You need to roll 2 extra dice on opposition to barely get better than 50-50. Now, some of these character specific action cards are so powerful you may want to take your 31% chance at stopping them (10v10 with +2, like when the Emperor is trying to turn Luke to the Dark Side) but in general, getting 2 free successes is pretty absurd for the odds.

What does this all mean? I think I need to try opposing more actions!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

On Deserving Success

A while ago Wil Wheaton made a blog post talking about some things he's been doing to try to be happier with his life. There's one quote that I felt particularly drawn to: "I’m not that great and I don’t deserve to feel good about myself." I can't say I've ever really thought things through in those terms, but I definitely feel like I've never really put in the effort to deserve happiness. Which is a little weird, since I'm a pretty vocal advocate of things like a minimum income provided by the government because everyone deserves a base level of happiness without being forced into slavery to the rich. But it does exist. The logic goes that I don't deserve to be successful, so I don't do what it would take to be successful, so I'm not successful, so I feel more like I don't deserve to be successful. It's a bad spiral.

I've been putting in a lot of time recently being more consistent with streaming. I've gone weeks where I averaged more than 12 hours a day streaming. I think I've only gone one 'day' without streaming at all in months, where I use 'day' loosely as a period of time where I'm awake. I've had multiple ask about donating to the stream, and plenty of people offer suggestions on how to make things higher quality.

And yet, I haven't even updated my profile on Twitch since last April. There are tons of little things I could be doing to make progress on being successful. But I haven't done them. I sometimes think about doing them, but then I just stream something instead, or play an idle clicker game.

I do actually think just streaming things has helped a lot. I used to break into a sweat just having a single viewer show up and chat, but now I can hold multiple broken conversations at once without freaking out. I've settled into a comfortable pattern, which is fine enough, but if progress is going to be made I need to actually make an effort to do so.

Even though I don't think I deserve it.

What I need to do is pretend I do deserve to be successful, and then take steps towards making it happen. So I'm going to make a list of things that I need to do. Small things, sure, but slowly chunking through a list of small things will eventually get to a good spot, without being too overwhelming at any given time. And hopefully without breaking the facade of pretending to deserve it.

{As an aside, Wil just made a 6 month progress report on the things he's working on. I created this post right after he initially made his post, which means I've wasted 6 months without putting in very much work. No surprise then that my stream really hasn't grown very much since then, huh?}

  • Set up a green screen.
  • Write a more detailed 'About Me' profile.
  • Buy a scissors boom for my mic.
  • Sell my old Magic cards.
  • File taxes.
  • Get a chat bot for my stream.
  • Write a better chat bot, or modify one.
  • Set up a stream schedule.
  • Stick to said schedule.
  • Set up a streaming related email address.
  • Set up a Paypal account.
  • Set up donations.
  • Work on developing and implementing more board gaming streams.
  • Buy a better video card.
  • Buy a solid state drive.
  • A better 'break' screen.
  • Generic layout for 4x3 games.
  • Generic layout for 16x9 games.
  • An offline screen.
  • A better stream profile header.
  • Verify Youtube account.
  • Set up a time each week to make highlights/export to Youtube.
  • Join a streaming team?
  • Restart SNES Saturday.
  • Come up with a cute/cool/catchy name for viewers/supporters.
  • Configure a Discord server.
  • Investigate small business loans/subsidies.
  • Define rules for chat.
  • Figure out what to do about chat mods.
  • Decide on a hair style.
  • Get hair cut/shave.
  • Exercise more than not at all.
  • Investigate lighting/lenses to reduce glare on my glasses on camera.
  • Figure out how to mix sounds so I'm not streaming everything I hear.
  • Curate a playlist of 'go fast' songs.
  • And one of 'not blocked' songs.
  • And one of 'non-lyrical background' songs.
  • And one of just plain awesome songs.
  • Make a better 'games I play' profile section.
  • Hook up my SNES to my capture card.
  • Possibly get a powered splitter for the SNES.
  • Figure out how to make my new headphones not cause pain when they press into my glasses.
  • Find something I'm willing to drink while streaming that isn't pop.
More to be added later, I'm sure, but that's a start. Some of those I've somehow managed to get done in the last 6 months, but actually not very many of them. My birthday is on Sunday and I'd like to do something special (24 hour stream or something maybe) but I need to get some more of this stuff done first. Especially setting up the ability to accept donations since if I'm going to be a busker I really do need to get a guitar case open on the sidewalk.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Path of Exile: Talisman Crushing

The current temporary league running in Path of Exile is called the Talisman league, and the new mechanic added for it is the addition of a new item type: the talisman. You can equip a talisman into the neck slot instead of an amulet. They have the twist that they're all corrupted, so you can't craft them in any way, but their implicit property is selected from a new pool of properties which are way more powerful than the normal amulet implicit properties.

These properties are divided out into 3 different tiers of talismans. The first tier are found sporadically on monsters out in the wild. There are also altars that can spawn which allow you to crush 5 tier 1 talismans into a tier 2 talisman. Or 5 tier 2 talismans into a tier 3 talisman. Or 5 tier 3 talismans into a portal to a challenge boss fight. Kill that boss and scoop up a tier 4 talisman which has two implicit properties!

The level of the resulting talisman is based on the average level of the talismans used as input, with a twist. The highest level one is worth 50% more than it should be worth, and the lowest level one is worth 50% less than it should be worth.

There's a challenge for killing the boss while the boss is at least level 80. The easiest way to make sure this happens is to just use 125 talismans which are all level 80. But that requires killing things in tier 11 maps at the very lowest. Is there a way to abuse the weird averaging to cut down on the number of 80+ talismans I need to find to do this challenge? One talisman is going to be the lowest tier 1 of the lowest tier 2 of the lowest tier 3. That means it's only going to be worth 1/8th as much as a true average talisman. One talisman is going to be the highest tier 1 of the highest tier 2 of the highest tier 3. It's going to be worth 27/8th as much as an average talisman, or 27 times as much as the lowest.

There's also the question of rounding... How does it work? Does a talisman remember decimal points, or is it rounded at each step of crushing? And is it rounded up, down, or properly?

If there is no rounding things are pretty straightforward. Getting a single higher level talisman is worth a ton. An 81 talisman lets your lowest level talisman fall all the way to 53! Unfortunately only one talisman can get such a big benefit. Here's a breakdown of the 125 talismans and how many points they could be worth:

Points Quantity
1 1
2 9
3 3
4 27
6 18
8 27
9 3
12 27
18 9
27 1

I guess the way to think about it is you can earn points for each talisman above level 80 that you can spend to offset some underleveled talismans. The really common situations are going to be trading 12 points for 4 pointers, so assuming you can get a decent selection of 81s you can afford thrice as many 79s, or an equal number of 77s, or any such combination. But it feels like you really don't want to be using too many very low level ones. You get a lot of 79s, but once you dip down even lower you're paying a lot of points.

Can we actually discount rounding? How can we find out? I guess it's time for some quick testing...

Ok, things are now clear. I crushed 8 talismans (7 sets of tier 1s, 1 set of turn 2s) and things followed very simple rules. Rounding happens the way it should and decimals are not carried over.

This means you can gain or lose some levels depending on how you crush. Ideally you want to always be creating a level X.5 talisman, so it gets rounded up to X+1. Stay away from creating an X.4 talisman.

Adding on to the stuff above, we can shave off a full 5 levels from each 'lowest' talisman in a given transaction and end up in the same spot for free. Or a couple levels off of one of the middle talismans. And since the effects bubble forward, you can actually end up shaving an awful lot off of the talismans that get crushed into the lowest tier 3 talisman.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Awesome Games Done Quick 2016

It's that time of year again! The nice speedrunning people are putting on their annual January event to raise money for the Prevent Cancer Foundation. It's brought my own streaming down to a minimum as I'd rather watch the awesomeness live than play my own games.

I wrote about the blindfolded Punch Out runs from two years ago, and how intense they were to watch. I just watched a run that made me feel a very similar way. There's a roguelike game called Crypt of the Necrodancer where a song plays and you need to take actions on the beats of the song, and only on those beats. Fail and you take a point of damage. I watched Ike play it a while ago and it's really hard!

There's a challenge character where you only have 1 health, so if you take damage for any reason you're dead. Also you can't get a better weapon than the base dagger.

There's a challenge character where you die if you ever pick up money. Every monster you kill drops money, so you can't ever walk into a square where you've killed an enemy.

There's a challenge character where everything moves at double speed. (Interestingly, the character is genderqueer, which I think may be the first time I've seen that particular characteristic used as anything other than 'comic' relief.)

Then there's a challenge character which combines all of the aspects of the previous three challenges. Move at double speed, with a terrible weapon, and die if you ever pick up gold or take damage or miss a beat... The developer didn't know if anyone could ever beat the mode. Apparently to date only 10 people have ever beat it. One of them was at AGDQ, and he actually managed to do it. It is so absolutely ludicrous and had me completely riveted.

Go check the marathon out. There's bound to be more awesome stuff! (Like, apparently, a blindfolded Punch-Out race!)