Friday, November 20, 2020

Haven In Space

 I was looking for a new game to play when Magic The Gathering was not in the cards (Pun Alert!) and one game that I've had my eye on is Space Haven by BugByte.


What is it? From the Steam page:

Embark on a space voyage with your ragtag crew of civilians in search of a new home. Build spaceships tile by tile, create optimal gas conditions, manage the needs and moods of their crew, encounter other space-faring groups, and explore the universe in this spaceship colony sim.

You start off with a group of survivors on a bare bones ship, some supplies, and a universe to explore and extract supplies from. Over time you add to your crew, expand your ship and capabilities, and try to survive.

Its only still in Alpha but there is a lot of game here regardless. I've played over 11 hours so far in two different games. My first game I was going OK unitl I took on some refugees from a space station attacked by pirates and then got into a downward spiral where I was scrambling for food for everyone and did not realize I ran out of energy fuel until everything shut down, I lost my crops, and people started to freeze and starve to death. My second run has been more successful so far.

This is not my ship.

I like the micromanaging aspect of the game plus the fact you can choose to not micro manage too much. I love designing and redesigning the interior of the ship as it grows and new machines are added to increase my capability. I do not like how if I do not pay close enough attention I can lose a crop of food in a blink of an eye if the temperature goes out of control. Thank goodness for autosaves.

I'm looking forward to future updates.

I reccommend adding this one to your wishlist and maybe picking it up sometime when you need something relaxing like a fidget toy to fiddle with.


Friday, November 13, 2020

WHOOPS

 I really enjoyed the Witcher series on Netflix with Henry Cavill so I became kind of interested in buying the Witcher III: Wild Hunt video game.



It went on fantasic sale on Steam a couple weeks ago and I snapped it up. Open world, fighting monsters, swords and sorcery? Sign Me Up!

I bought it, made some space on the old hard drives, and installed it. Started it up, lots of scenes to set the mood, I'm fine with that, I came for the story too. 

Ok, fighting scene.... ok, magic, neat.... Dream sequence? Ah, backstory sequence, ok... what? Oh. UH OH!

This game has nudity. I'm 15 minutes in and there is a naked woman's buttocks on my screen.

Now I'm not a prude or anything, after all I watched the show and there is plenty of nudity in it, but its one thing to watch a show on a tablet where no kids could stumble up the questionable content and another altogether on a big computer screen. Plus my wife and I are trying to raise the Boyz with more respect for women and less objectification of womens' bodies, and having casual nudity in a video game is not exactly in line with our goals here.

Fortunately, I was able to get a refund for the game and uninstall it. Thank you Steam.

I can see thinking "how did he know know? the game has been out for years and one of its big selling points has been the sex and nudity..." Well, like I said, I only became interested in the game because of the show and I honestly never looked anything up about it online. I don't follow gaming sites or read gaming news so I was unaware. I guess I'm showing my age for defaulting to assuming a video game is not adult content only.

Make no mistake: these games are not including the nudity as part of the "art" of video games or telling a story. As my wife asks, "How does this make the game better?" and in my opinion it does not. 

Oh well, voting with my money I guess.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Risk Versus Reward When Drafting

 Drafting on MTG Arena is very fun but has a frustrating aspect to it. It costs money. 

I know, the nerve of Wizards of the Coast wanting to be paid for their online product! 

The good news is that it can be free to play even for drafting because you can earn gold (and rarely gems) through playing normal games of Standard or Historic and achieving daily quests. Its not fast, but its doable. It takes about a week of grinding in order to get the 10,000 gold you need to enter a draft.

The good news is that the drafts offer rewards and the more you win in a draft the larger your reward. In fact, you win enough and you earn enough gems to enter another draft and have some left over! If you are really good, you can draft infinitely and never put any more effort into grinding Constucted. 

But how likely is that?


First off there are multiple limited modes, you can read all about them here. I'm discussing today are drafts against other humans, Premier Draft which is Best of 1 (aka Bo1) match play and Traditional Draft which is Best of 3 (aka Bo3).

In Bo1 you face your opponents in a single "winner takes all" match and the draft ends when you get 7 wins or 3 losses, whichever comes first. Your rewards are:

- No wins — 50 gems and one pack
- One win — 100 gems and one pack
- Two wins — 250 gems and two packs
- Three wins — 1000 gems and two packs
- Four wins — 1400 gems and three packs
- Five wins — 1600 gems and four packs
- Six wins — 1800 gems and five packs
- Seven wins — 2100 gems and six packs

Since it costs 10K gold OR 1500 gems to enter a draft, at 5 wins you have made your investment back and essentially played for free. Now getting 5+ wins before 3 losses is not easy, in 18 tries in Zendikar Rising Bo1 drafts I've managed it only 4 times. But even getting to 3 or 4 wins is a big deal as the amount of gems you receive puts you very close to affording another draft. 

As you can see from this graphic from 17 lands for Throne of Eldraine drafting, most drafts end below the line but still in the 3-4 win range (usual disclaimers about self selecting data, not whole playerbase, etc).

Courtesy of https://www.17lands.com/

I want to highlight the massive jump in rewards between 2 wins (250 gems) and 3 wins (1000 gems). That is the largest jump in reward of all the levels and is the difference between feeling like "I wasted my money" and "not bad, almost enough for another draft!". In fact, assume a player starts a format with 40K gold, enough for 4 drafts:



As you can see in the table above, the number of drafts you are able to do increases exponentially if you are a better than average drafter, to the point where the best drafters can draft while never paying another dime. Now I realize it does not work out that way in reality because the Bo1 is a ranked queue, players in bronze play against other players in bronze and players in diamond or mythic play each other as well, leading to the type of graph you see above where most results are in the 2/3 and 3/3 range, indicating that the win percentage trends towards 50%.

However, what it does mean that boy does it suck to be a bad drafter.

What about Traditional Draft, i.e. Bo3? Bo3 is not ranked so who you play is random and thus the better drafters can rise to the top more easily in theory, but there are two limiting factors related to each other that impact that.
1) The rewards suck if you don't get 3 wins.
2) Lower skilled drafters stick to Bo1 as a result.

Why do the rewards suck so bad? Well, for a 10K gold or 1500 gem entry fee you can earn:
- No wins - One pack
- One win - One pack
- Two wins - 1,000 gems and four packs
- Three wins - 3,000 gems and six packs

As you can see, even winning 2 out of 3 matches fails to earn you the rewards to do another draft. But winning all 3 matches wins you enough gems for 2 more matches! I'm not exactly sure why they chose this reward structure compared to Bo1. Is it because Bo3 is seen more as "real magic" and they expect players to pay a premium to participate? Is it because its not ranked so there are more 2 win and 3 win players (i.e. the distribution curve is slanted more to the right), and if rewards were higher on the 1 win and 2 win slots that too many people would be making too many gems?


Regardless, this reward structure makes it very hard for me, an average player, to justify paying for Bo3 with a 50% record on good days when that record can earn me twice as many follow up drafts in Bo1.



Thursday, October 15, 2020

I Am Not Dead

 Last post was Sept 4, wow. Time has flew. I thought that being back in the office would give me more time to blog but honestly I've been working extra hard lately on some new projects with new teams and finding the 20 minutes to write something down has been difficult.

But I've decided to ressurect the blog and try to get content out again. 



Gaming? I've been gaming for sure. Still doing the Magic the Gathering thing online with Arena, drafting as much as I can and the latest release Zendikar Rising is a blast, lots of different archetypes and directions to go, I'll have a post on my results in the last three formats coming up soon.


I've also been dipping my toe back into Heroes of the Storm as just a way to pass some time. Its a fun diversion and it makes me wonder about trying something with a larger playerbase like League of Legends, but as long as I'm having fun in HoS I don't see the point of learning a new game.


For a few weeks in September I was playing Into the Breach that I got in the Epic store for free. This is a smaller game like FTL where you go as far as you can with a team of mechs you upgrade as you fight the bug aliens, and then restart when you die with one mech pilot only. Its a lot of fun for a small game, highly reccommend it.



Like everyone else in the world I tried Among Us. Its ok just playing by yourself with random strangers, but the game is awesome with people you know. Going to be playing it tomorrow at lunch with friends. Its like Battlestar Galactica Lite with the cooperation and the traitor mechanic.

Until next time... watch out for the vents....




Friday, September 04, 2020

Drafting Magic

 Drafting on Magic Arena continues to be my favourite pastime this long long quarantine. Last time I talked about it here I was lamenting my frustrations with Theros Beyond Death format:

Almighty Brushwagg

With that said, I did not have fun drafting Theros Beyond Death. I ended up at 55 wins and 60 losses after the many drafts I did, and only once got to 6 wins out of 7 before losing three times. I had many 0-3 results and generally felt flummoxed even when I thought I had a deck that could compete. it really killed my joy in March.

The Ikoria Lair of Behemoths was a 180 degree turnaround for me and I had a ton of fun in that format and was sad to see it go. I finished it at 73 wins 68 losses and got to 7 wins three times in 24 drafts. I think the biggest factor in the turnaround is that archetypes I used were very obvious and decent wide support so you could force a lane whereas in Theros you needed to have extremely good card evaluation skills and reading the drafting signals in order to make the best working deck.

But after Ikoria came Core Set 2021 (aka M21) and I have not had a great run again. Only 58 wins to 56 losses and no 7 win drafts in 20 tries. The win percentage was slightly better than Theros but no trophies (as 7 win drafts are called). I think the same thing as in Theros was plaguing me in m21: trying to find an open lane that had the support to make a strong synergistic deck.

That being said, I still had fun and much prefer drafting with other humans instead of the Arena bots. My goal for the next set, Zendikar Rising (which looks awesome by the way) is to continue to work on that skill of drafting decks as opposed to piles of cards. Let's see if I can get back to getting some trophies!

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Going Old School

Reading Dragonlance novels to the twins has brought me back on a wave of nostalgia to the old SSI D&D Gold Box games I played in my youth. 



Pool of Radiance was my first introduction to role playing games ever. I nearly finished it after playing it for hours but the final boss was too much for me. I then played the sequels of Curse of the Azure Bonds, Secret of the Silver Blades, and the one in the same engine based in the Dragonlance realm, Champions of Krynn. 

I couple years back I tried to go back to Pool of Radiance but the old mechanics of healing turned my off pretty quick (how many times to I have to case Cure Light Wounds and then memorize it again!??!?) but that was addressed nicely in later versions so I visited Good Old Games and plopped down some cash for the Krynn series of games. I booted up the Champions of Krynn with low expectations and was pleasantly surprised.


I'm having fun playing the old game in DOSBox and alt tabbing to the journal and manual. Leveling up my 16 bit characters and finding new magical weapons.Sure the graphics are nothing great and the gameplay can be frustrating at times (how many clerics and mages do they have?!?!) but I'm in a groove and having fun (hint, save often).

Will I go into the next one in the series when I finish Champions of Krynn? I don't know, probably not, but we'll see.

Thursday, August 06, 2020

Remembering the Paintbrush

After having a good time painting my 3D printed imperial fleet, I decided to get a small Chaos fleet to have something to play against if the twins want to learn to play. I purchased a resin cruiser and battleship from Aliexpress that was a little more expensive but the quality is close or better to Games Workshop orginals, and I went back to my friend Chris for 4 cruisers. 

I then put together the resin cruiser and got to work on a paint scheme. I decided to go with classic dark red and black and since I had all the parts to make any of the cruisers or heavy cruisers, I went hogwild and used small rare earth magnets to make it configurable.

Pictures! First up we have the completed hull of the cruiser beside one of the 3D printed ones (the files from Thingaverse). You can see the launch bays on the table getting ready.

And here we have the completed launch bays and dorsal lances on the hull, held by magnets (which, to be honest, was a pain in the royal ass to get right).


While its not 100% the best work I've ever done and I made some rookie mistake (like spraying the finish on too thick on the launch bays grrr) it still looks fine for what I've got planned. Now to finish all the other weapons platforms so I can make any of the seven base cruisers and heavy cruisers with it!

Then on to the four printed crusiers (no magnets this time thank god).

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