Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mega Game Day

This being my Golden Weekend - the one weekend in six my work rotation gives my Friday through Sunday off - I have largely thrown responsibility to the wind on this off-stretch and tried to have some gaming fun. I'll start with my video gaming exploits, and then conclude with my Magic: The Gathering event, even though that was chronologically first. That way, those of you who don't care about MTG can punch out after I'm done talking video games.

I've started coming down from my MMO obsession, to the point where I think I'll begin to see a fair balance between EQ2 and WoW and the rest of my gaming. It only took a combines 120 hours or so LOL. In the theme of working on RPG completions this year, I picked up obscure RPG Venetica, and have been working on that. Mediocre is the word I'd use to describe it. It's not a bad game, and the mechanics work just fine, though it's marred by some translation issues with the subtitles and speech. The gameplay is fine, but the story hasn't "wowed" me thus far, and the action-RPG combat system feels pretty generic and too simple. Since it's a Western RPG, I'll probably finish it, as my track record with western RPGs is OK... it's the JRPGs that murder me.

My brother and I have also run through the Robot Revolution DLC for Borderlands. With the levels and quests were entertaining enough, and I liked the return of old bosses, the DLC was far too easy, as nothing scaled to our levels. Since we had already hit the old level cap of 61 in the Knoxx DLC, we were overleveled for Robot Revolution, which seens odd, considering RR is newer DLC. Now, I'll just need to farm for the stupid collectable achievements, and my Bro and I have some unfinished business in the Knoxx DLC. Looking forward to 1750 on that game.

Adding to the game list, I recently picked up Dead Space 2. I had $40 in Best Buy reward zone cash sitting around, and with Deus Ex delayed, I needed something to use it on before it expired. Dead Space won over waiting for Dragon Age II. As amazing as I'm sure that game will be, I have enough other RPGs to try to wrap up at the moment, and I just picked up Venetica. I'm still in Chapter 1 on Dead Space, so I can't say too much about the game yet. Only had about 30 minutes in it before setting it aside to run Borderlands with the bro.

The day's gaming started with a prerelease tournament for the newest Magic: The Gathering set, Mirrodin Besieged. The format was sealed, with 3 boosters Scars of Mirrodin, 3 Mirrodin Besieged. I pretty much only play limited at this point, as I have no interest in spending the obsurd amounts of money needed to build a tournament-winning calibur deck. If I play competitively, I'll stick to limited, where the financial investment is the same for all, and deckbuilding and strategy skills become more critical that spending a lot of money to build the decklist you found on the internet.

With Mirrodin Besieged, the booster packs are actually split between the set's two warring factions, the Mirrans and the Phyrexians. Each booster has cards specifically to that faction's playstyle. I went Mirran (the good guys) and I'm glad I did.

Part of the fun of prereleases is that the cards aren't "out in the wild" yet. Power levels are mostly unknown, and everyone is discovering new combos as they go. My sealed pool presented me virtually no black, blue, or green, but more than enough white and red to run with it.

I had a few cards that became keys to victory. Prototype Portal lets you copy an artifact and keep putting copies into play (play the converted mana cost of the artifact and tat the portal). Pairing it with a Shriekhorn is a devastating milling attack in sealed. (Shriekhorn costs 1 to play. Comes into play with 3 charges on it. Remove a charge and tap to mill opponent top 2 cards of their deck.) Potential 6 card per turn mill attack that way. I could pair the Mirror with Tumble Magnets for an unending ability to tap my enemy's creatures, or keep pumping out copies of an artifact creature.

Thopter Assembly is so good it's broken. For 6 mana, it's a 5/5 flying creature with the ability: "At the beginning of your upkeep, if you control no Thopters other than Thopter Assembly, return Thopter Assembly to its owner's hand and put five 1/1 colorless Thopter artifact creature tokens with flying onto the battlefield." Basically, throw him out, and at the beginning of your next turn, he bounces back and you have 5 flyers. Twin this ability with a creature or two with Battle Cry (Whenever this creature attacks, each other attacking creature gets +1/+0 until EOT) and the results are crippling. I also got three Koth's Courier, a 2/3 creature with Forestwalk. This was a blessing, as 3 of my 4 apponents were playing green.

As a matter of fact, 3 of my 4 opponents were playing Black/Green decks, primarily based on Infect. The lack of variety bored me, but my deck beat 2 of those 3, so it's all good.

My first match was against someone who was coming back to the game after not playing for a long time. I stomped him without much difficulty, despite being severly land-jacked in game 2. That game, I never had more than 4 lands, and only drew my first mountain two turns before the end of the game. Yes folks, I won a tournament game on 3 white mana. My deck relied on cheap cards and removal spells, with a splash of expensive cards to break any stalemates. His deck was far too expensive, allowing me to build up a lot before much of his stuff hit the table. No idea what his deck was trying to achieve. I killed him too fast to see.

Round two I got rick-rolled by another Green/Black infect deck. Since the guy finished in the top 3, I don't feel too bad about it. Seriously. I. Got. Destroyed.

In round 3, I was paired against one of the co-owners of the card store where I played. He was my only opponent not playing Green/Black, inspead rolling black/blue. The first game was almost comical, as we both had land-flush hands, and then kept drawing nothing but land. After we each had seven turns, we both only had one nonland permanent in play, and we were STILL playing land from our hands. Once the action really started, I was able to build up a creature army and utilize removal as needed before rolling him over. Game two turned out to be even easier, as he had no counters to what I played.

The final round was (yawn) black/green again. I won it in three games. I finished the tournament with an overall 3-1 record, 6-3 for games. That put me at 5th place overall in a field of 22 players, which felt like a pretty good achievement to me, especially since I hadn't at first thought my sealed pool was very good. The 5th place finish won me an additional 3 boosters.

All in all, I'd say it was a pretty awesome day of gaming.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The RPG Master List

Borrowed off of x360a the complete list of RPGs (retail) for the 360. I will be updating this post over time to add in new ones, and insert in my progress in each game. For now, if the title is bold I have completed it. If it is in italics, I have completed the storyline, but not yet every achievement. I've done a little duplication for multiple stacking versions of a game, but only if I'm currently able to stack them, so not all possibilities are listed.

Let me know if you see any titles missing from this list.

Alpha Protocol
Arcania: Gothic 4
Blue Dragon
Dark Messiah of Might and Magic: Elements
Divinity 2: Ego Draconis
Dragon Age: Origins
Elder Scrolls: Oblivion
Enchanted Arms
Eternal Sonata
Fable 2
Fable 3
Fallout: New Vegas
Fallout 3 (360)
Fallout 3 (PC)
Final Fantasy XI <--- Not going to ever bother Final Fantasy XIII Infinite Undiscovery
Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom
Last Remnant
Lost Odyssey
Magna Carta 2
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2
Mass Effect
Mass Effect 2
Phantasy Star Universe
Resonance of Fate
Sacred 2: Fallen Angel
Spectral Force 3
Star Ocean: The Last Hope
Tales of Vesperia
Two Worlds
Two Worlds II

Spectral Force 3
Operation Darkness
Record of Agarest War
Zoids Assault

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Enjoy the Silence

I said in prior posts that 2011 would be the year of the RPG, and it absolutely has been... just not in the way I originally thought it would be. The RPG playing has been of the Massively Multiplayer variety, as I crossed 100 hours total playtime in World of Warcraft, and have now added Everquest 2 to the mix as well. I don't know why I do this to myself, when the Old Republic is coming down the line. How can I say no to a Bioware Starwars MMO? But I can't afford 3 MMOs (cost plus time committment) so we'll see how that ends up.


After an overdose of MMO play, I might be inching back towards what will become an balance point between that and console play. I love the variety of things that can be done in an MMO, and the sense of having a vast world to explore. It's possible to solo if you just want to play alone, but there are always people to ask questions or group with on a whim. The random shenanigans and unscripted adventures MMOs can provide are fantastic. However, after all that play, something has dawned on me:


I'm not talking about audio volume here, but rather the feeling of being bombarded by information. In terms of gameplay, there's a quest log full of things to do, abilities to learn, enemy info to assess, and much more. Look at screenshots from WoW and you can see how much information people try to pack onto their screens. Then there's other players flying around, combat text, guild message scrolling across the screen, General channels... WoW is actually QUIET compared to EQ2, as WoW gives each zone its own channel. EQ2 has channels for level ranges, which the community has used to turn the level 1-9 channel into the de-facto server-wide chat channel. And it's one damn noise channel if you don't opt out of it. Guarantee less than 1% of it has anything to do with the level 1-9 game.

The realization of how noisy MMOs are didn't come to me while I was playing them, but rather, once I had my hands on an Xbox controller again. It was refreshing while playing some Operation Flashpoint with my brother (that game may be the first to push us on our coop skills) or enjoying Venetica on my own, it felt nice to play a game and not get bombarded with a constant stream of information. When not playing MMOs, I do intend to keep chipping away at my console RPG goals, and Venetica is a start to that. I was in the mood for an RPG that I could pick up and start fresh, not delving back into a game I'd already logged more than 50 hours into (which will be the case when I return to New Vegas, Lost Odyssey, Eternal Sonata, and Dragon Age), or restarting a game from scratch (Divinity II, possibly FFXIII).

Will share more thoughts on Venetica, possibly in the form of a review, as I get farther into it. For now, let me just say I'm enjoying some gaming in a "quieter" atmosphere.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Where's the Motivation?

On the Xbox front, it's been a silent year so far. This blog has seen little love, though I have done a little writing on Unending in Azeroth. It's January 17th, and I have yet to load up my xbox to do anything other than play a DVD or watch Netflix. What gives?

There are numerous reasons for the absense. One of them would be some real life things that are going on. Too early to share on those, but if anything develops for real, I'll let the audience know. Let's just say for now my attention has been elsewhere.

My collection of games hasn't inspired me to pick up the controller, either. Even with my goal to do better in RPGs this year, like finishing New Vegas, I've had no interest in playing any game I own. Believe me... I flipped through my collection for almost 20 minutes today waiting for any game to inspire me to want to play it. No success.

Right now, World of Warcraft is pushing all my buttons for what I want in a game. There's tons of quests. I can be social or a lone ranger as I choose. There's a million things to do. Heaven help me, I even signed up for another Everquest 2 account, on that game's free-to-play model. It's a great game, though I found it lacking in solo content at the higher levels. Totally worth getting back into for no charge. So, we'll see how I juggle two MMO games.

Does this mean I'm hanging up the controller? Retiring from Gamerscore? Not at all. I'm just in a gaming place right now where I want those massive game worlds, sprawling with an insane amount of things to do. After I've logged more hours in these games, perhaps my console titles will regain their appeal again. I know I want to get Bulletstorm, Gears 3, Mass Effect 3, Deus Ex, and Dragon Age 2 this year, so you can count on me still being online, though it may be a while before I wane on the MMO desire and the balance shifts towards more console gaming.