Thursday, February 27, 2014

My descent into Digital Trading Card Games

Lately I have been satiating my love of trading card games by dabbling in the ever expanding market of online digital trading card games. I guess Hearthstone really kicked this off however I grew weary of Hearthstone pretty quickly. While not a TERRIBLE game Hearthstone had a bit too much minion spam in it for my liking and was a little too basic.

I later found Infinity Wars, Sol Forge and Hex: Shards of Fate. All 3 of those games have much more depth. Sol Forge has the least amount of depth of the 3 but still has an interesting concept. Infinity Wars introduces a new way of playing where the turns are resolved after everything has been laid out and Hex promises to add card configuration, quests and more. As an aside I have not given up on Might and Magic Duel of Champions I just don't like the mechanics in that game as much.

Of the three I have tried Infinity Wars comes out on top for gameplay, artistic merit and easiest UI use. I have not had too much of a chance to dive into Hex yet. Be warned that if you wish to try that it will be a 50 dollar buy in since the Kickstarter is over. Sol Forge is the weakest of the 3 with the least amount of content and feels the most like a tablet app. Hopefully the cards and look will improve over time.

Infinity Wars has gorgeous artwork and it is animated. Many of you that may follow me on Twitter and Google + have seen me post these cards and they are amazing. I also like the lore and sci fi aspect. The game truly feels like a war on the front and even features artillery cards and flying units. Infinity Wars however can be the most frustrating of the 3 as you really must plan ahead and observe EVERYTHING. As the cards do not resolve until you click end turn you must know who has priority that turn and what will trigger and when. However the campaign that is included is so well done and fun that by the time you finish all 50+ games you will have a grasp on it. Speaking of it being Free To Play you can earn rares and entire decks just by playing the campaigns which is nice. I have already built up a nice collection. Infinity Wars, being the more popular of the 3, has suffered however from being the most bug ridden and having the most server downtime.

Sol Forge is a simple game with layers hidden under it that I am now just discovering. At first I hated it. However they have a clever pull in that everyday you log in you get a free card and with a daily win against even an easy computer bot you can win more cards. The game features a unique card level up mechanism that plays much like a deck builder and forces you to plan ahead on what uber cards you want in your hand near the end of the game.

Hex is the most typical of all the games. It features tapping, chains, interrupts and all the things you expect from a collectible card game. However this is the one I have played the least. Hex is the most professionally presented and it should be for the buy in as you are paying for a full computer game.

All in all it has kept me busy. I highly recommend trying out Infinity Wars and Sol Forge at the moment. Keep in mind that Magic the Gathering, Pokemon and Hearthstone are all viable options as well for online play. On tablets I have had a good time playing the iOS Ascension game as well but this article is mainly about PC titles.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Thunderstone Advance

For a more simplistic deck building game it has a lot of depth. While it is easy to also play solo the competitive aspect of the game is more fun than other LCG's or collectible card games where you may have to build your own decks because you can see up front what is available. "Traveling to Town" and "resting" are all options and capture the feel of a dungeon romp well.

I also like the ability to tailor your deck and plan ahead by using the Preparation option which lets you discard certain cards in your hand and put them on top of your draw deck in the hopes of getting them next turn. This is perfect for planning ahead to take on that tough monster worth a lot of VP's.

The amount of random content is great also. Each game starts with a randomized town from which to buy things and a totally random dungeon. So basically the more expansions you buy the more in depth your world becomes. For flavor some creatures can even "raid" the town and kill villagers. It is also fun to mess with your opponent but not in a power gamer way. The card game also instills that feeling of one more turn so much so time passes fast while playing.

The game plays fast and furious and is a nice departure from the stress a collectible card game or LCG has. You cant build a super deck if its not on the table. That much I like.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Thoughts on Superbowl 48 from a Bronco fan

In all the 4 Superbowls I have watched this team lose I my lifetime this is the most unprepared and embarrassing I have ever seen them play. 

They have some major work to do in the off season or they will be just another team led by Elways arm errr... Manning ...once again if they get back the SB. 

I haven’t been so disgusted since the 55-10 debacle. I have seen a lot of Superbowl losses being a Bronco fan but this was the most astonishing. Sloppy tackling, terrible play calling and God awful preparation made us look like fools. Horrible 3rd down playcalling in the game, 4 people missing tackles on mostly unknown Seattle receivers, some of the worst special teams play ever in Bronco history and a confused/baffled offensive line were just some of the lowlights.

As as a serious fan I find this unacceptable. It would also help if players like Von Miller thought more about the team than themselves in the off season and stopped doing drugs and being idiots.

You cannot win a title on offense alone. You cannot have a defense that is largely terrible and go into the Superbowl with the gameplan they had. The Broncos defense, terrible all year, was only not mentioned because the team relied on putting up 40-50 points a game to win. However once you leave the typically weak AFC and play NFC teams you will see quite different results. 

Of all the teams the Broncos would have to play the teams that knew how to stop Manning and play against the weak Bronco secondary easily beat us this year. These consisted of playoff teams like New England, Indianapolis and San Diego. It will only get worse as well as Kansas City will learn from their mistakes and build a team around stifling Manning. 

I don't talk a lot of trash about my team. I am a realist. I look at the angles, the players, the facts and how things match up. I will be honest in that when the Seahawks beat the 49'ers I knew this was the worst possible matchup we could want in the Superbowl. I even tweeted this. Sadly it was worse than I thought. 

Much like teams of the 80's under a fantastic John Elway we went into this Superbowl thinking Manning's arm would overcome a defense that had us figured out in preseason. Of the two back to back Superbowls we won what were the common factors that Elway finally had? Tough strong players, a good hard hitting defense and a stellar running game with players that held onto the football. All season the turnovers were unforgivable. The players getting injured on every other play baffled me. Over and over each week we saw this but Manning's brilliant game control largely bailed us out. 

Greg Bedard summed it up pretty well: The Failure Was Total

It will be hard to expect anything else next year unless we have one heck of a defensive draft off season. I guess we will see. Even though I have watched them lose 4 Superbowls I have seen them win 2 and be in 6 total. I guess that is more than some fans can ask for.