Weekly Roundup: ALPHA!

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Plenty of things have happened this week! Not just in WoW, but many other things as well. I’ll likely take a look at E3 next week when I’ve got a bit more opportunity to digest and look at everything that’s been shown, but even without E3 I’ve got plenty to talk about this week, and nowhere near enough space to write it! I was going to make this post about the alpha dropping in WoW, but really you’re better off checking out Wowhead News or MMO-C for far more in-depth updates on what’s happening, as it happens.

Firstly, despite my best to try and avoid MOBAs until I get some kind of invite to Heroes of the Storm (as I know I’ll burnout of the genre once I do), I’ve been pulled back into Dota 2 as The International looms closer on July 18th-21st. In previous years, Valve has funded the total prize of $1.6m, with the grand prize being $1m, second place $250k, then the final $350k split between the remaining top 8 teams. Last year’s The International 3 (TI3) introduced the interactive compendium that detailed the events of The International and cataloged the progression of it, with 25% of the revenue made on it being added to Valve’s prize pool, making an outstanding $2,874,381 total prize pool – The International reclaimed its previous title as the largest prize pool in electronic sports history, exceeding the two million dollar prize pool from the League of Legends Season 2 World Championship.

… This year however for TI4, the compendium got re-introduced, with many more incentives for crowd-sourcing this time around and as of writing this article, today we saw the prize pool reach over $9.2m, with another 6 weeks until the finals themselves. Even if no more compendiums are purchased, the first prize would be over $5.75m if previous patterns follow… Brb rerolling pro-gamer.

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In terms of WoW, with another week of no trinket luck (one day, Immerseus… One day… And even you Dark Shamans) I’ve decided to get the alt itch in an entirely new class that I’ve never really alt’ed on a serious basis before. While I was going to go back to the nostalgia of TBC days and turn my Shaman back into Enhancement for the end of the expansion, I decided that I’d try and get my Warlock some green fire, before it turns into a Feat of Strength and I accidentally level him next expansion or something.

I logged in on him, and realised why he was one of my lesser played alts: Weapon was 450 iLvl until I gave him Garrosh’s heirloom staff, and his trinkets were 325 and 414 iLvls… Amongst other pieces of gear that was easily replaced by Timeless Isle pieces. Needless to say I have no idea what the heck happened there, but over the past week I’ve managed to sort out his gear, and although he’s still using a 419 ring and a 476 fail bag trinket from Mogu’shan, he’s now overall 506 iLvl with some luck from Celestial bosses and Ordos, alongside upgrading his trinket to the Isle of Thunder reputation reward. In that one item, his overall item level jumped from 487 up to 502, and I only wish I had more time to go through LFR this week on him to get some more.

Regardless, my plan for next week on him is to go for a round of SoO LFR to mop up any loot he can, and now I’ve gotten the book for the green fire quest, will begin on what I hear is one of the best solo experiences this game has to offer!

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Weekly Roundup: Shortfused on Blackfuse

blackfuseIt’s been a relatively quiet week for gaming, and between coming home from work last night and raiding, I didn’t really know what to write about as to what I’ve done this week. So the reason why this post is a little on the late side this week, is because I spent most of the evening last night progressing on Siegecrafter Blackfuse heroic. I know he’s been nerfed in 10man but he’s still a powerhouse to content with. The new mechanics, while small and don’t change the encounter TOO much, coupled with increased health and increased damage, still make him a brutal fight. As I’m just casually raiding now, I’m not going to be spending my time digging into logs to see what went wrong per se, but from the few observations that I did have on the wipes themselves, it mainly comes down to individual mistakes screwing over the raid group as a whole. Well, that and making sure that our Hunters can stay alive on the belt and can go back onto it without dying again.

Overall however, it’s quite an enjoyable fight. One that I don’t mind wiping on (I probably won’t be saying this at 80+ wipes) as it’s a legitimate challenge, but it’s also a methodical fight as it’s very fixed pace. You know exactly how long you’ve got to deal with a certain mechanic before the next one comes along, and all I dislike about the encounter are the crawler mines. I don’t know if people panic, don’t switch in time, stack CCs or flat out don’t CC, but you know you’re hitting problems when the big bombs are reaching people, let alone the small ones afterwards. Also, please don’t let me raid without a Rogue again. I love Cloak of Shadows. It’s my new favourite cooldown.

romeiiA new game that I sunk my teeth into this week was Total War: Rome II. It’s a game I picked up while it was on sale at Christmas, and never really looked at too much since really. I’ve taken an interest in the game series largely thanks to the TV show Time Commanders that ran in the mid 00’s on BBC2. I believe that Creative Assembly, the creators of the game’s engine, were mentioned in the credits for the show, and then they just added a few extra camera controls that could be used for televised purposes. Still, I got tutored through a few matches from a friend: one just plain on land; one city assault; and a couple of ocean-based fights.

I mainly found out that I sucked at the game, and would probably need to play through the campaign to learn a few tricks of the trade, but going straight into a fight with all the troops available to you and you have no idea what they do was quite overwhelming and daunting. Even my tactic of just using the most expensive of each category didn’t work out well, because you actually had to use the effectively in the fight itself, and apparently even some of the less expensive troops are better used in some situations! I’ll probably pick it up again at some point single-player, but for now I’ll likely just play it multiplayer occasionally and just have a laugh as entire ships blow up when you ram into the side of ships.

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After losing my cultural attempt with Gandhi, thanks to Ethiopia’s apparent amazing ability to keep city states happy and win a diplomatic victory, I picked up a few more achievements in Civ5 the following game, rounding out my victory types with a conquest victory as Assyria. Turns out that they’re pretty fun to focus on that type of victory on, though I did go for British Isles map, so focusing on getting a strong siege to begin with, hiding up in Scotland at the start of the game, then progressing to Battleships later on worked out pretty well. Any city-states that were in good positions I just took, and picked up a few easy techs to catch up on in other ways there, and having the ever-expansionist and scientific Iroquois as neighbours certainly helped in our on-and-off war of around 4000 years.

Now working on winning as other Civ’s in other map types, I will eventually hit… Maybe halfway into Civ5’s 287 achievements by the time I have grandchildren. Oh Civ, why do individual games have to take up so much time? I swear, you blink and it’s suddenly 2am. Don’t blink. Don’t even blink. Blink and you’ve lost hours. Time goes by fast. Faster than you can believe. Turn your back, look away, but DON’T blink. I guess Civ is a little better than weeping angels from Doctor Who (for those that didn’t get the reference), but it’s still pretty terrifying.

lion_vertRounding out my week, and I’ve gone back into All-Pick on Dota (I might even return to my A-Z challenge at some point… But Chen) and I played around a little with the Truepicker site I mentioned in last week’s roundup, scumbagging counter-picking to higher chance at wins. As it turns out, when people insta-pick Meepo and they see me pick Lion at 20secs, they end up re-picking! Regardless, I still played as Lion that game and ended up participating a huge amount to a win. On other games, I saw him pop up as a good counter for other carries too, so I’m being led to believe that Lion’s just the best counter-carry support out there for most cases. It’s a good job I’m competent at him as well, from what I’ve found out in the games I played him in, and he may be joining my top heroes alongside Keeper of the Light, Ogre Magi and Jakiro before long.

For YouTube, I’ve mainly been watching Day[9]’s day off in Heroes of the Storm (yes, had to get this game somewhere in this post) where he’s learning how to play Raynor, Tyrael, Zeratul and Uther, and as always with most big YouTubers, goes less for the support role and more for just wrecking the enemy team apart. Though I have to say, the Hyperion does need a nerf when it comes to destroying buildings. Hell, whenever it kills enemies it also reduces the cooldown of it, so I’m looking forward to abusing it as Abathur for major push potential. I still want in before too many people know what they’re doing though, because I can guarantee I will noob it up big style – from seeing Day[9]’s gameplay videos, it seems that barely anyone knows what to do with Abathur though, so I’ve still got opportunities to get ahead of the curve.

Weekly Roundup: RBGs, Ability Draft, and more

91EGNR5WGG8N1308572842358I haven’t really had much time for gaming this week in all honesty. Most of my time has been either at work, watching YouTube clips, as well as finishing up watching Game of Thrones in preparation for season 4, premiering on 04/04/14 (lots of 4’s, yay!). But what I have been up to recently, as I didn’t get round to talking about it in my last roundup post, are specifically what I’ve been doing in WoW, as well as Dota, Civ5 and other Steam games!

World of Warcraft

In WoW itself, I’ve split myself in two, with my Druid heading off to Emerald Dream, and my Doomhammer life being switched to Rogue/Monk/babbyPala. ExC has risen from the ashes, and is now on Doomhammer-Horde with a bunch of people from Malicious Intent, and I believe that we’re all focusing on the more social/casual side of raiding/RBGs, while I “mainside” on Emerald Dream. Here’s to what may come of that! I’ll like end up using my boost to get a Druid to 90 on Doomhammer again, but for now that’s where my gametime in WoW will be.

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Dota 2

The other main timesink that I’ve been spending time on recently, as you may have guessed by my previous post, is in MOBAs. While I’ve gained a few levels in League, and Smite has set me a mastery or two, the main MOBA that takes my fancy is in Dota 2. With over 500 hours into the game over the past year, it’s safe to say that I’ve played a few games of it. As with all team playing multiplayer games, I’ve found myself starting in the support role and thoroughly enjoying it.

I’ve recently started (and stopped) the A-Z challenge, wherein you play all of the heroes in alphabetical order, only skipping to the next when you’ve won a game on them. I have to admit, when I’ve played other roles than support I’ve had a lot of fun, especially with heroes like Bristleback where you’re just a bit more durable and can take more hits. The main problem however, is that in pubs people don’t tend to play support, so if I’m not playing with friends, I can’t really do the challenge unless I want multiple games where we have no courier/wards/other support items such as Mek.

Another game mode that’s recently been released that I’m having a lot of fun with is ability draft. In this game mode, all 10 people are given random heroes that have four abilities, then all of the abilities are put into a pool, along with a bonus two heroes’ abilities. Each player then in turn picks 3 standard abilities and one ultimate, and try to make different combinations work with that. As far as I’ve noted so far, Riki’s ult of permanent invisibility is OP when on an int hero, and he has nuking spells to choose from – these spells don’t break invisibility, so anyone picking that combination will kill heroes and get away without even showing himself. Similarly, another OP ultimate is Meepo’s United We Stand. I’ve seen people pick that and have Lycan’s wolves (10 wolves running around the map is scary as hell), or people that have had Mirana’s Starstorm and other AoE abilities to just decimate team fights with AoE attacks.

Also, as a support, being able to pick up abilities such as Craggy Exterior from Tiny is so much fun to have, especially when the other team has 4 melee carries.

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Civilization 5

The third main game I’ve been playing the past few months has been an updated blast from the past. I’ve enjoyed Sid Meier’s Civilization games since Civ 2, and have always picked up the latest installment sooner or later. For Civ 5, it took me a lot longer to pick this up, as I was dubious about the non-unit stacking and the hex-grid and how it would play, but I’m quite happy to say I was wrong on this matter!

I’ve dabbled around with attempting to pick up different achievements (as always) in the game, but also just generally trying to win in different ways. I’ve found that I take a much more peaceful approach when playing the game, and usually rage-quit as soon as I see someone like the Aztecs, Inca or Zulu as my neighbours in early game, as I know I’m going to lose a city to them before I’ve even hit the Medieval era. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve attempted the conquest victory before (though it was on a duel map for 1v1) but in most cases, I’ve ended up defending until I can win a scientific win, or before Brave New World, a cultural win. I tried a culture win recently as Gandhi and ended up failing to an opposing civilization getting a Diplomatic victory, but I wasn’t far off and ended up taking my eye off the ball and forgetting to buy out some city states. Oops.

I’ve played around with a few mods in the game too when I’ve been bored, picking up Civilizations of Warcraft, so you get to play as some of the major Alliance, Horde and Neutral factions. I’ve also played around with adding new civs to the standard game, adding new wonders, improvements, buildings, etc. It makes me want to be able to play these mods in multiplayer too, as they really change the dynamic and pace of it. Especially the wonders mod when you’re new to it, because you’re always panicking whenever people make a wonder and you have no idea what it does.

Also, if you want to mix it up without mods – Venice is a fun Civ to play with unique mechanics, though try to aim for a map with more water and less land.