#210: The Wild

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Recently, I’ve been experimenting with a new game mode on Hearthstone, called “Wild Mode.”

That’s what I’ll be discussing a little bit today. I like to play Hearthstone on my phone, because it gives me the chance to do something during my downtime. Whether it’s the adventure mode or something else, there’s always something interesting to check out in this game. I can climb the Wild ladder, for example, and explore what that world has to offer as compared to the Standard ladder.

Hearthstone has two modes of deck construction: Standard, which includes the last two years of cards that have been released, and Wild, which includes all cards from all previous expansions and other content releases, such as solo adventures. Both modes are separated on the ranked and unranked ladders, allowing for people to pit Wild decks against Wild decks and Standard decks against other Standard decks. That way, it’s fair, and people aren’t playing at a disadvantage against each other based on what cards are available to them. Having Wild cards available to you changes what’s strong and what isn’t strong.

I generally like to play on the Standard ladder, but recently, I’ve been exploring Wild because of the different deck archetypes available to this mode. The two modes have drastically different metas, with different classes superior in this mode versus what classes are superior in Standard. For example, Warrior is a strong class in Standard right now but is considered one of the weakest in Wild. Shaman is great in Wild but mostly mediocre in Standard right now. The diversity of decks is what entices me most to this mode. I’ve been running an Even Shaman deck on the ladder and have won many of my games so far. It’s pretty dominant over casual, constructed decks that aren’t as refined as it. It’s unfortunate for my opponents, but great for me!

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#207: The Solo Mode

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When it comes to playing Hearthstone, one of my favorite parts is the solo adventures mode. There are other modes, like the ranked and practice and arena offerings, but to me, the solo adventures are the icing on the cake that is Hearthstone. It’s considered PVE (which stands for Player vs. Environment, rather than Player vs. Player), so it’s against computers rather than actual human beings. That’s fine with me, as it takes a lot of the stress out of playing the game. Consequently, there’s no turn timer, so I can take as long as I want on my turns and not have to worry about it being too long. Patience is key and, especially while doing other, more productive things, I can focus on one while ignoring the other and not feel rushed around.

The solo mode typically features around 8 bosses, one faced after another, and you have to build a deck of cards by picking from 3-card offerings after each boss. You have to build your deck from a basic starting deck up to something more meaningful and powerful. You pick treasures that are absurdly powerful after every few bosses, but you soon realize that the bosses themselves have absurd powers as well that you need to counter somehow. It’s difficult to predict what bosses will come and when, but your goal at the end is to survive all the way through the run. It’s a lot of fun to try and compete this way. I have the card back for completing the original dungeon run in Kobolds & Catacombs with all 9 classes, which is something I cherish and will likely never take off. It’s one of those accomplishments that not everyone has, so you feel special for having earned it against the odds. I’m glad they’re still coming out with these modes, even though people may seem them as being stale.

#169: The Hare

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Woahhh, we’re halfway there! Giant plushy hare! Take my hand, and we’ll make it I swear.

Today, I’ll be talking about the eponymous plushy hare that I got from Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. Yes, I know, another post about pocket camp, but at least it’s not about Magic: the Gathering, right? I’ve had enough of those in a row lately, so it’s time to shake things up.

So, recently, there was another gyroidite-collecting event in the game, which means you have to walk around the different venue spots, collect as many little gyroidite blobs as you can, and turn them in for items that help you acquire leaf tickets and more. This time, though, in celebration of Easter and general springtime, Zipper arrived and we collected little eggs instead of gyroidite. It was appropriate, given the context and setting, for them to offer eggs, like it was some kind of egg hunt. Zipper, the animal dressed as a large bunny who refuses to admit that he’s just an animal playing dress up, offers a huge plushy version of himself for you to put in your campsite.

When you collect 600 eggs, you can craft the eponymous giant plushy hare, the one massive mega item offered by this event. It takes a long time to get 600 eggs, as it’s no easy task to just walk around and collect eggs for hours on end. Well, it might be easy, but it’s definitely a bit boring. When you eventually get to the end of the mountain, though, it feels great to plop your giant hare in your campsite as a signal of your accomplishment. You will always be known as the one who managed to scavenge up 600 eggs in under a week or so. It’s a badge of honor for a job well done. And I did it! Sorry, Alex.

#167: The Easter Holiday

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What a weekend, am I right? This past weekend was one for the history books, with a combination of Dungeons & Dragons, Monster of the Week, Telestrations, Heroes of the Storm, Magic: the Gathering, and much more played between groups of friends and family during the past couple days. It brings me so much joy to see people come together and enjoy the small things together.

Easter is that time of the year when I start to feel like the year is fully in swing. The stride hits around June or July, but right about now, as I enter the last leg of the school year, I definitely feel that 2019 has arrived. In a sense, I’m relieved because we’re one step closer to the next presidential election, and everyone knows how important that’s going to be. But on the other hand, I’m not so relieved because I feel old, like my early 20s weren’t very much.

We used to have larger family gatherings involving Easter, and all the other Christian holidays, but nowadays our Easters are just at home with a small group of close family around the table. We eat, drink, and feel merry with each other. There aren’t any more Easter baskets from the bunny to expect when we arrive home; instead, there are dishes we love and people we don’t get to see often. A different kind of present, offered only during the holidays.

This Easter, I sat around the dinner table with Alex and family and we talked about my (relatively) new job, my nieces, and Alex’s job. We tend to talk about Alex’s job and commute a lot whenever we’re together. Also, getting engaged was brought up by both sets of parents, which Alex and I both know is something we’ve heard a lot about.

#165: The Legion

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Originally, I was going to write about the Boros Legion, the overzealous crusading guild in Ravnica, but then I realized I could also write about the legion in another respect: the Burning Legion in World of Warcraft. There are so many legions! Legions upon legions to discuss.

The Burning Legion in World of Warcraft were the central antagonists of the second most recent expansion, World of Warcraft: Legion. They’re an endlessly respawning army of demonic forces, and they are practically unstoppable. The conflict in this expansion is that they were invading our home world again, and this time they were hell-bent on annihilation. This expansion solidified WoW as an absolute titan of the gaming industry and allowed them to reclaim some of their old glory. Legion propelled subscriber numbers and boosted player interest and hype, with the introduction of the Broken Isles, legendaries, artifacts, and the exclusively max-level Suramar questing experience (which, if you read my blog regularly, I wrote about a few weeks ago). Legion revitalized my interest in WoW and got me hooked again for practically the entire length of the expansion, minus a few spots. I remember focusing super heavily on completing the mage tower challenges at the end of the expansion, trying my best to unlock the hidden and exclusive artifact appearances before they went away for good.

The Boros Legion is interesting because they’re primarily “good” guys. I bought the Boros guild pack recently, and it’s absolutely crushed all the other decks when it curves well. I’ve enjoyed playing with it a lot. The idea of playing a “white weenies” deck (strong, small white-colored creature cards with exceptional synergy between each other) has always been fun for me, and I like blasting people’s faces in with flying angels. Thankfully, that’s what the Boros are all about: ruthless aggression and flying assaults.

#158: The Fortune Cookie

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I love fortune cookies. They have a plain texture, crunchy taste, and are free with any Chinese takeout meal. What’s not to love?

No, in reality I’ll be discussing fortune cookies as they appear in Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, as I recently opened one and got an exceptionally rare item. I felt pretty good afterwards, which is what happens when the odds end up in your favor when they often don’t. There’s a 3% chance of finding a 5-star item in a fortune cookie, which means you have to open roughly 33 cookies to have a chance of getting the item everyone really wants. It’s a bit absurd, especially considering how few fortune cookies are available regularly in the game. They don’t come easily; you have to check the shop at least once a day at 11am to see if the rare ones are here, and more often than not they are missing.

Fortune cookies are the Animal Crossing equivalent of loot boxes, a system put into video games to allow people to buy a randomized box of cosmetic items for a price. The price, of course, is in dollars not in game currency. The loot box system originates from Overwatch, a game I’ve spoken about on this blog. There’s a lot of controversy involving loot boxes because they are seen as a form of gambling; you pay money for a random chance at receiving what you want. Nothing is guaranteed, so it’s not like you’re spending money directly on the item you’re looking for, instead you’re spending money on a chance at getting that item. Hence the gambling issue.

I do think that games are exploitative and predatory when it comes to loot boxes, and I wish they would tone it down. Fortune cookies aren’t super bad, because you can just ignore the items, but in other games, the items available from loot boxes are really, really important. Hence all the frustration, which i totally empathize with.

#153: The Guild

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When I first started playing World of Warcraft, years and years and years ago, I met some friends online who had just started playing, too. We quickly became friends and bonded over our immaturity, youth, and playful attitudes. It’s so easy to find like-minded individuals online when your entire personality is shaped by your online presence and what you find on the Internet. Our guild, called “R A W R” (because we were kids who liked memes and cats on the Internet), meant a lot to me, and our regular conversations in guild chat set the standard for what I would come to expect from sociable, inviting guilds. We would set up raids of Alliance cities, and have regular hang-outs in secret alcoves on the world map that no one knew about except us (or so we thought). We discussed guild matters, like who deserved a rank promotion and, more likely, who was being annoying on a particular day. There was drama, of course, as there is in any guild, but we persevered through it. Our guild’s downfall came not because of any drama or anything like that, but because we all, gradually and slowly, stopped playing the same game as each other. I remember quitting at one point and roping in my guild friends to come play other computer games with me, but that never lasted very long. I think one was a browser game, with blue fish and matching cards. That’s all I remember from it.

Some of my friends who used to play still come on every once in awhile, though not as often any more. It’s not the same as it used to be; even if we were to try to recapture that old magic, it’s past that time in our lives. And I think we all recognize that, which is why we don’t talk as much as we used to.

#141: The Fishing Tourney

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When I think about Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, one of my favorite and most consistently played mobile games, I think of the fishing tournament and flower festivals. The latter is for another time to discuss, but the former I’ll be discussing now for the first time on this blog. Fishing tourneys appear about once or so a month, and they last for about a week. Chip, the walrus animal friend who runs the fishing tourneys, shows up and offers you the Golden Rod (over and over again), then introduces you to the different types of fish you’ll be attempting to catch over the next week. Every three hours or so, the fish reset and you’re able to catch more of the tourney fish.

The most recent tourney featured Mario-themed fish, such as bloopers and cheep cheeps and cheep chomps, with Mario-themed rewards, such as balloons, 8-bit furniture, and common blocks and coins. The amount of fish you collect determines how many rewards you are given for your participation in the tourney. It also determines the rarity of trophy you are given at the end of the tourney; there are four types: wood, bronze, silver, and gold. I think I’ve gotten a gold trophy every tourney except for maybe one. It’s not difficult to get, and if you buy the Golden Rod it’s exponentially easier than before, but it’s something that people can strive for regardless and it feels good to collect from your mailbox once the whole thing is over.

The reason I discuss Pocket Camp so much on this blog is it’s a frequent part of my life, and I love being able to play it every few hours. My friends also play it, as well as my younger sister. There’s a sense of camaraderie that develops by bonding over this fun, small, mobile game.

#135: The Card Expansion

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When I think about collectible card games, the first one that comes to mind is always Hearthstone, and for good reason. First of all, you can’t trade cards in this game, but you just collect them by opening packs. Secondly, it’s available on smartphones and computers and tablets, so it’s incredibly versatile and useful. When you open packs, it gives you five cards, with at least one being rare quality. There are other qualities of cards, though, such as epic and legendary, but those have a less likely chance of appearing when you open packs and they aren’t guaranteed, either.

The reason I bring all of this up is because a new expansion for Hearthstone has been announced, titled “Rise of Shadows.” It features lots of homebrewed villains from the Hearthstone universe forming an evil league to take down Dalaran, the city of magic in the sky. I have no idea what will actually take place in the adventure portion of this game, when the story is actually relevant to the gameplay, but I’m interested regardless. Whenever a new expansion is announced, I always look forward to the spoilers season, when new cards are slowly trickled in and unveiled by the development team through publishers. I always get caught in the hype and am interested in what’s coming next to the game. It’s so easy to get caught up in the hype when things are getting exciting like this!

My favorite time is when the legendary cards are revealed, as they usually have the most ridiculous, over-the-top effects and abilities. Those are usually meta-defining and absolutely shape and warp the way the game is played in standard and wild. The past few sets haven’t been that impactful, but with there being a rotation in standard with it being Year of the Dragon now, this new expansion set is bound to change things up.

#119: Pocket Camp

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How have I gone a hundred and nineteen posts without talking about Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp? I know I just made a post about video games, and I don’t like to inundate my posts with video game info, but this is the first idea that came to my mind. Pocket camp is a daily fixation for us, so I think it’s important to talk about on my daily blog! It just works.

Alex and I have played pocket camp since November of 2017, and it’s been a consistent joy for us ever since. It’s a camp, but in your pocket (on the phone)! I always have my phone with me, so I can always play whenever I need to fulfill my animal requests. It’s available all the time for catching fish and bugs, harvesting fruit and flowers, and talking with animal friends. The campsite (and cabin) is always available for decorating and updating with modern options, and the developers are constantly adding new furniture to the game to spice things up. The fortune cookies allow for unique designs to make their way into the game, and the animals sometimes give you furniture to decorate with too. Alex and I are both super high levels, have tons of campsite items, and have unlocked pretty much every amenity and animal available. It’s awesome to look back at where we started and where we are now. The improvements added to the game in the time since we started have been numerous and game-changing, also. The cabin, the happy home mansion, the fortune cookie shop, Gulliver, Pete, treasure maps, snacks, the garden, and more? I can’t even imagine starting this mobile game for the first time now, with so much to learn about and so much to explore. My sister Bella also plays pocket camp, and is helplessly addicted to it with us. We bond over our mutual conquests in the realm of pocket camp.